Anorexic woman told she’d need to use a wheelchair—went on to enter first bodybuilding contest

For 2.5 years, Aroosha Nekonam, from Aberdeen, in Scotland, had been suffering from anorexia. It all started when she was a teenager and wanted to get healthy. She intensified her exercise regime and cut out fatty food. But the stress in her life had an impact on the law graduate’s self-esteem, and her healthy living soon went to an unhealthy extreme.

It “felt like a win” for every pound lost, she told PA Real Life in 2016. But slowly, Nekonam withdrew herself from the world.

©YouTube Screenshot | Aroosha Nekonam

“I’d exercise excessively, running for an hour and a half every day on empty,” she said. “My self-worth was just at rock bottom. I felt like I wasn’t achieving anything, or meeting the expectations I’d set for myself.

“I’ve never hated before, but at that time, I hated myself. Starving myself was my answer to everything because, in my eyes, it was the only thing I was good at.”

The 25-year-old, who has been a dancer since age 3, couldn’t stop herself, though she knew it wasn’t good to lose so much weight in a short time.

“Anorexia isn’t a choice,” she explained. “It’s nothing to do with vanity. At the root of it all is the mind. It’s an addiction.”

©YouTube Screenshot | Aroosha Nekonam

Her mom later took her to a psychiatrist, but Nekonam didn’t think there was any problem. It was not until doctors told her she might need a wheelchair because her weight loss was putting a strain on her heart that she realized the severity of it.

“Once I knew I wanted to recover, I was in a state of shock that I’d done that to myself,” she said. “I worked with my psychiatrist and dietician to build up my weight gradually and, as my body grew stronger, so did my mind. I realized I was worth more than what I’d put my body through. I was sick of feeling isolated and ashamed. I wanted my life back.”

With help from her family, friends, and the therapist, she gradually got well and started practicing yoga to build up her strength before she found her passion in weightlifting.

“Early intervention is key,” she said. “It’s also important for friends and family members to recognize the signs of an eating disorder, like becoming withdrawn and secretive, or making excuses not to eat in front of people.

©YouTube Screenshot | Aroosha Nekonam

“Now, I’m a completely different person. I don’t use exercise as punishment anymore, and I actually look forward to every day. I’m much more appreciative of life.”

Watch Nekonam in action at the gym:

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