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Chelsea Kamody

The powerful story of a JYM Army member who battled – and overcame – serious eating disorders by adopting a more balanced approach to her fitness.

Chelsea Kamody
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Written by Chelsea Kamody

My name is Chelsea Kamody. I’m an 8th grade science teacher and coach. I’m also a concert pianist and teach piano lessons. I’ve always loved sports and I was very active growing up. I played volleyball, softball and ran throughout high school. However, when I was 16, the idea of becoming fit and healthy took a turn for the worse: My grandma, to whom I was incredibly close, passed away. I didn’t know how to deal with my emotions, so I started using exercise as a form of escape.

While that may not seem like a bad thing, I took it to the extreme, spending hours upon hours a day running, biking and jumping rope. I lost my appetite and stopped eating. I soon started seeing my weight drop. I was 5’10”, 126 pounds, athletic and thin and I did NOT need to lose weight. However, I got it into my head that I needed to be skinnier and it soon became a game of control. This “game” spiraled out of control quickly and took over my life. I struggled with severe eating disorders for the next 10 years. I was hospitalized numerous times for heart issues, liver issues, malnourishment, but none of that seemed to register as a red flag to change. I saw therapist after therapist, visited one treatment center after another, and it was all a game of manipulation to me. I worked out for hours a day, constantly read fitness magazines and admired the models I saw and wondered why I couldn’t get to that point even though I was so dedicated to the gym.

Finally, in November of 2014, I hit an all-time low of 75 pounds. I could not walk straight or think straight; I had no emotions and I was randomly passing out. At an unpleasant doctor’s visit, I was told that my heart and liver were failing and I was going to die before Christmas. I heard this news, broke down, and I actually gave up at first. I made an attempt to take my life, but failed. That night, I sat there thinking about everything I had to be thankful for. There was no reason for me to leave this world so soon when I was blessed with so much.

I am very hard-headed and I knew that a treatment center or therapist was not going to help. I am very goal-oriented, so I made it a goal to compete within one year. Deep down, I didn’t think it was possible, but it was something to work toward. The first two or three weeks were SO hard. I had to give up control, cut back the cardio and add a ton of food – and I hated it all.

After about two weeks, however, I started feeling human again. I was more alert, not so fatigued, and I started to feel emotions. I had been living in a black hole for so long, I forgot what happiness, love, or basically any emotion was. After that, I was all in. I actually forgot about the goal of competing for a while and was more interested in getting my life back.

By early January 2015, I had gained quite a bit of weight and was close to 120. At this point, I revisited the idea of competing. Although it scared me, I knew I had to do it. So I signed up for my first bikini show in March. I ended up taking the state for the first time in the beginning of March, and I literally made my dream come true.

Up until this point, I was very quiet about my progress and transformation. I basically wanted to forget the last 10 years ever happened and move on. A good friend of mine who knew the situation said I should consider sharing my struggle as I may be able to help someone. This prompted my first post on Facebook, basically admitting to the world what I went through. I was so incredibly scared, but the feedback I received was incredible. Since then, I have been very open with my struggles and I feel like I have been able to help and reach out to quite a few people.

Since my first show, I’ve competed in three other bikini shows and am now part of two competition teams. I put on a total of 55 pounds since last year. I’m still trying to add some muscle this winter, so I’m taking a small break from the bikini shows and venturing into powerlifting! I have my first meet in the beginning of February.

While things are going 1,000 times better, I still have my share of struggles. I suffer from OCD, severe anxiety and adjustment disorder, plus I do still struggle a bit with my exercise-addiction issues. However, I know I’m a stronger person and I feel like I’ve been given a second chance at life.

My diet was the hardest thing to change. I went from eating very little to close to 6,000 calories! I’m still on a very high-calorie diet and eat between 400-500 grams of carbs a day. It’s a lot for my little body, but I have a fast metabolism and I know if I want to put on muscle I have to eat the amount I am. Another change was that I used to be a cardio queen. I still love cardio and miss doing it as much, but I have fallen in love with heavy lifting and the feeling of strength. Breaking PRs is an incredible feeling!

I can honestly say I would not be here today if it wasn't for my support systems. My family and friends have been amazing and have supported me every step of the way. However, I think the best thing I've gained has been the friends I’ve made in the fitness world. I feel like I’m now part of a wonderful world of people who have the same visions as I do. I’ve made friends on my teams, at shows and in Facebook forums who cheer me on and inspire me every day.

I'm going to continue on my fitness journey and I plan to make plenty of improvements this year and come back with a bigger and better package next year! More importantly, though, I’m going to continue to work on myself as a person. I want to find balance in my life and live a long, healthy and happy life! I still sometimes get down on myself and think negative thoughts. Then I look back to where I was before – sick, on feeding tubes, miserable, unhappy – and I can only thank God that I’m not there anymore. And I NEVER plan on going back. It’s only up from here!

 

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