Read this inspiring interview with Beyond Chocolater Elly who has turned her life around and entered "The Perfect 10" modeling competition after years of failed diets and hating her body.
Q. Elly, what was life like before Beyond Chocolate?
A. Before Beyond Chocolate I would wake up everything morning, jump on the scales and think: 'OK, today is the day, I'm going to be so good, eat hardly anything, drink plenty of water and do lots of exercise when I get home from work.' So I'd start my day off by eating nothing. Then by about 11am I'd be ravenous and have to sneak to the kitchen at work to secretly eat some biscuits. By lunch time I'd be thinking of excuses to go into town, for instance, I'd pretend that some banking needed to be done, just so I could go to the shops and buy about 5 chocolate bars. Some days I only worked mornings and I would sit at work planning what I was going to buy from which shop, and what I would need to buy with it to make it look like I was just doing a normal shop, things like toilet rolls and milk. Then I'd leave work go the shop, buy a ridiculously expensive bag of chocolates, cakes, crisps, ice creams, yogurts, pork pies. I'd go home, lay them all out on the table and eat, until I physically couldn't eat anymore, then I'd rest for a little while, and continue eating again. I always hid the evidence from my partner, made sure the wrappers were hidden by other things in the bin. Once I even went for a walk to hide the rubbish in a bin in the town. Also if he came home unexpectedly then I would have to rush to hide the food, put things under cushions and that sort of thing. I hated my body and thought I was too fat. I'd go running most days for about 40 minutes and then come and home spend an hour doing sit ups, squats, weights, anything that meant I was burning calories, so I could carry on eating as much chocolate as I could. This meant that even though I was exercising all of the time I never lost any weight. My self confidence got worse and worse, I didn't even want to go out of the house some days, I didn't want to face people or face the world looking like I did. I hated eating meals, I just wanted to snack constantly, all day long.
Q. How has Beyond Chocolate changed your relationship with food and your body?
After Beyond CHocolate I stopped exercising for calories or weight loss, I 'move' because I want to and I enjoy it. I gave up the rigorous exercise program and took up Belly Dancing. I started eating meals and thoroughly enjoy them, really tasting them for the first time. If I want to just snack on chocolates instead of eating a meal, that is OK too and because I'm hungry they are even more yummy. I started to like little things about my body, and when walking past mirrors or windows I catch my reflection and think is that me!? Even though nothing has physically changed about my body (I may have lost a couple of pounds, but I haven't weighed myself for such a long time I wouldn't be able to tell you!) my mental attitude to myself and my body has improved tremendously. I don't sit around obsessing over what I can sneakily eat, or how I can get out of eating a proper meal because I just want to binge all afternoon. I don't feel like I'm constantly letting myself down because I've failed at my diet again, or I haven't make it out for a run today. Everything about me is much more relaxed. I've tried so many new foods as well. Previously I wouldn't have been able to try a new food until I'd gone home and checked out how many Weight Watcher points or how many calories it had. Now it's not a worry. Also, because I've not been eating to hide any emotional pains, I've been able to deal with the things in my life that were making me unhappy, including relationships and jobs! It really has changed my life so much, if I went back three years I don't think I would recognize my life at all, and everything is for the better.
Q. Tell us about the modeling competition you have entered: why have you chosen to do this?
A. When I was a little girl my dream career was to be an actress, I got told in school that this was a silly idea, and that I should concentrate more on academics and getting good grades. I dismissed my dream as just that - a dream. Something that happened in fairy tales, that didn’t happen to real people. And so I concentrated on studying and worked hard at getting an office job. Since Beyond Chocolate I've realized that I have the power within me to do whatever I want to, and if I'm not happy with something I am allowed to change it. If I'm prepared to work for what I want then I can do it. So I quit my day job, went back to college and because it's a part time course, I've had days free to take part in my hobbies, or dreams, that I once had. I knew my friend had done a bit of modeling and so I asked her if she thought I could have a go too. She gave me the name of a website to register with, and I had lots of offers for work, which really surprised me. One member on the website asked me if I would consider entering the competition, and I thought there would be no harm, so I did! I never really had modeling in my head as something I wanted to do, but I think it kind of goes in hand with the actress type of thing, and it could lead on to anything! If I don't make it as a model I won't be heartbroken, but I will have been happy to have had the opportunity and the experience at giving it a go.
Q. What's your top tip for feeling confident about yourself and comfortable in your body?
A. I think my top tip for feeling confident with yourself and within your body is to learn to love. I know it sounds a bit cheesy! But Beyond Chocolate gave me the tools I needed to learn to love food, which in turn helped me to love life, and start to love little bits about myself, and now I think I love myself completely. I know that sounds really big headed, but I think it's a very important part of who we are. And if you can't love yourself how can you begin to love anything else? If you had nothing left in the world, you'd be stuck with just you, and if you hate yourself then you have nothing. Also if you love yourself then I think you can give yourself things that you love, because you know that you deserve it. Like buying yourself new clothes which fit perfectly, or treating yourself to a CD you've wanted, or going to see a band that you like. Dieting made me put my life on hold, because I felt like I wasn't good enough to deserve those things. But now I think I'm a pretty spectacular thing and I deserve the best.