Virginia woman who weighed just 87lbs overcomes anorexia

by 12/10/2017 19:58:00 0 comments 1 Views
  • In 2011 Ashlie Bradley, 22, spiraled into depression, anxiety and eating disorders that left her counting calories and exercising obsessively
  • She decided to turn her life around after seeing her family's never ending support and pain upon seeing her health struggles  
  • Since then she's gained 56lbs and now hits the gym with confidence with her 140lb figure saying 'I am no longer in a place of self-destruction and hatred'

By Marlene Lenthang For Dailymail.com

Published: 16:31 EDT, 12 October 2017 | Updated: 19:58 EDT, 12 October 2017

In 2011, one young woman felt trapped after facing brutal bullying during her childhood years for her overweight figure, and after her grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimers, and took to alarming eating habits to cope with it.

That year Ashlie Bradley, 22, of Virginia was diagnosed with anxiety, depression and OCD as well as anorexia, which caused her to avoid social events, count calories obsessively, and do hundreds of crunches a day, causing her to drop to a shocking 87lbs.

But after seeing the pain she inflicted upon her family with her chaotic eating disorder, she told herself she had to brings things to an end, and through incremental lifestyle changes gained 56lbs and built up her stunning and healthy physique today, at a flattering 140lbs.

Shocking! Ashley Bradley, 22, turned heads in 2011 when she lost drastic amounts of weight after suffering depression and anxiety, and at one low point weighed just 87lbs (above)
Shocking! Ashley Bradley, 22, turned heads in 2011 when she lost drastic amounts of weight after suffering depression and anxiety, and at one low point weighed just 87lbs (above)

Shocking! Ashley Bradley, 22, turned heads in 2011 when she lost drastic amounts of weight after suffering depression and anxiety, and at one low point weighed just 87lbs (above)

Hard times: Ashlie revealed that her spiral was induced by childhood bullying for being overweight and by her grandmother's Alzheimers diagnosis
Hard times: Ashlie revealed that her spiral was induced by childhood bullying for being overweight and by her grandmother's Alzheimers diagnosis
Soft smile: Ashlie smiles in a photo taken during her eating disorder where she ignored her hunger pangs and became exercise bulimia
Soft smile: Ashlie smiles in a photo taken during her eating disorder where she ignored her hunger pangs and became exercise bulimia

Hard times: Ashlie, pictured above during her disorder, revealed that her spiral was induced by childhood bullying for being overweight and by her grandmother's Alzheimers diagnosis

Stronger than ever! Today Ashlie looks vastly different (above) after gaining 56lbs to a healthy 140lbs, which she rocks with confidence in a bikini and toothy smile
Stronger than ever! Today Ashlie looks vastly different (above) after gaining 56lbs to a healthy 140lbs, which she rocks with confidence in a bikini and toothy smile

Stronger than ever! Today Ashlie looks vastly different (above) after gaining 56lbs to a healthy 140lbs, which she rocks with confidence in a bikini and toothy smile

Ashlie, a teaching assistant, shared that her eating disorder started as a minimal calorie diet, living off bowls of cereal and apples. But then things took a more serious turn and her habit morphed into exercise bulimia which saw her binge eat on caloric meals followed with intense workouts and mile-long runs to burn it off.

'I don’t like mentioning numbers, but I do remember that my food intake was very minimal. I’d eat cereal for breakfast with skimmed milk, an apple and a cup of cereal when I got home from school, and either a tiny portion of my family dinner or an apple and cereal again,' she explained to Media Drum World.

'I would "treat" myself to a small chocolate petit four after lunch every day. I counted every calorie. I was also doing upwards of hundreds to thousands of crunches a day and always wore my exercise ‘sweat’ belts to work out,' she added.

'Once it morphed into exercise bulimia, I would eat upwards of 4,000 calories and then go and run it off. I once ate three whole pizzas at a restaurant and the people couldn’t believe it since I was still very small,' she revealed on her fluctuating diet.

However she shared that her intense eating habits were a coping mechanism of sorts for her anxiety and depression.

'Not only did I battle with my eating disorder, I was also diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and OCD. I would feel so alone, yet surrounded by people who loved me,' she said.

'I remember crying nearly every day and wishing my pain would go away. I isolated myself and stopped going out with friends and didn’t want anyone to see me because I felt so horrible and ugly,' she added.

So she took to food as an outlet of her pain. 

'I constantly felt hungry, but I forced myself to ignore it. I felt as though the internal torture was never going to end,' she explained.

'I could have just lost five pounds, been in the smallest size jeans I owned, and still tell my loved ones that I was fat and needed to lose weight,' she added on her old mindset.

At one point Ashlie shocked her family with her tiny frame when she weighed just 87lbs. But her family's suffering became too overwhelming and she realized she needed a major life change. 

Selfie! Ashlie takes a selfie revealing a sallow face and thin arms during her eating disorder
Selfie! Ashlie takes a selfie revealing a sallow face and thin arms during her eating disorder

Selfie! Ashlie takes a selfie revealing a sallow face and thin arms during her eating disorder

To the bone: Another picture reveals her tiny frame and revealed she used to think being 'the smallest would make me happy'
To the bone: Another picture reveals her tiny frame and revealed she used to think being 'the smallest would make me happy'

To the bone: Another picture reveals her tiny frame and revealed she used to think being 'the smallest would make me happy'

Before and after: A side profile at the beach during her eating disorder (left) compared to today (right) is vastly different. Today she reveals curves, muscle and confidence

'I could see the hurt that my friends and family were experiencing from seeing me in the condition that I was,' she explained.

'I didn’t see it right away, but I came to realize that seeing me hurting, was hurting them just as much. I didn’t want them to have to watch the once loving and caring girl they knew slowly die while hating everything about her life,' she said. 

'I also didn’t want to live that way forever. I didn’t want to live every day constantly worrying about food or weight or fear going outside because of unknown food choices. I didn’t want to pick my body apart and hate myself every morning that I woke up,' she added.

Since then Ashlie has stopped her calorie counting habits and doesn't hyper control her meals. She also regularly hits the gym around four times a week, but this time in a more relaxed manner and with a newfound interest in weight lifting to build muscle and strength.

After gaining 56 pounds, today Ashlie is an entirely different vision with a bright smile and healthy physique at 140lbs, with some added muscle she proudly flaunts on her social media.  

Her weight gain journey, however, wasn't without trials. Ashlie shared she struggled to part with the weight scale.

'Gaining weight and not being able to weight myself was probably the hardest part of recovery for me. Gaining weight was my biggest fear during my eating disorder days and not being able to weigh myself was taking away what little control I did have. Though [it] was extremely difficult at first, it ended up being the best thing for me since I no longer could obsess over making that number go even lower,' she explained.

Now everything from eating out and shopping to looking in the mirror is a different experience for the young woman.

'I can go out to eat without needing to analysis the menu beforehand. I can eat fast food and not feel guilty or feel the need to compensate for it. I don’t hate my body and I’m thankful that it’s keeping me alive and strong,' she said.

'I used to think that trying to control everything and being the smallest would make me happy, but I found that being carefree and loving my body for what it is, was what happiness was to me,' she added. 

All grown up! Ashlie reveals that although she recovered weight wise in 2012, she only felt true healing last year in 2016, in overcoming her anorexia and bulimia demons
All grown up! Ashlie reveals that although she recovered weight wise in 2012, she only felt true healing last year in 2016, in overcoming her anorexia and bulimia demons

All grown up! Ashlie reveals that although she recovered weight wise in 2012, she only felt true healing last year in 2016, in overcoming her anorexia and bulimia demons

Flexin'! Now she takes to Instagram to flaunt her new physique and shares her gym interest in weight training in her new, much more relaxed exercise routine
Flexin'! Now she takes to Instagram to flaunt her new physique and shares her gym interest in weight training in her new, much more relaxed exercise routine

Flexin'! Now she takes to Instagram to flaunt her new physique and shares her gym interest in weight training in her new, much more relaxed exercise routine

Flaunt what you got! Gym selfies are a favorite of hers to show off her healthy figure and calf and arm muscles that she worked hard to gain
Flaunt what you got! Gym selfies are a favorite of hers to show off her healthy figure and calf and arm muscles that she worked hard to gain

Flaunt what you got! Gym selfies are a favorite of hers to show off her healthy figure and calf and arm muscles that she worked hard to gain

Baby's got back! She flaunts off her back in a social media photo with the hopes to inspire her followers on their health journey 
Baby's got back! She flaunts off her back in a social media photo with the hopes to inspire her followers on their health journey 

Baby's got back! She flaunts off her back in a social media photo with the hopes to inspire her followers on their health journey 

Strike a pose! Ashlie shared that she hope to help girls suffering similar issues from hers and says 'there is a light at the end of the tunnel'
Strike a pose! Ashlie shared that she hope to help girls suffering similar issues from hers and says 'there is a light at the end of the tunnel'

Strike a pose! Ashlie shared that she hope to help girls suffering similar issues from hers and says 'there is a light at the end of the tunnel'

'I’m so thankful that I am no longer in a place of self-destruction and hatred. I don’t worry about my weight and how I look to others anymore. My self-confidence has blossomed and I’m definitely loving the effects,' she explained. 

For the first time in a long time she feels a strong sense of body confidence. 

'I feel pretty happy in my body. I no longer pick it apart and can honestly say that I feel beautiful and strong again,' she said.

Now she tracks her gym milestones and health story on her social media pages, with the hopes that she can inspire and help other girls going through similar struggles.

'I want others to know that recovery is possible. It’s not easy by any means, but everything you go through in recovery is absolutely worth it,' she shared.

'Though they may not be able to see it, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it is that of recovery shining brightly around them,' she added.

She warns, however, that recovery is no quick fix, and although one may pass the doctor's bar of restoration, true happiness and health is a longer, more internal journey.

'I would also like to say that weight restored does not necessarily equate to being recovered. My eating disorder began in summer of 2011, but I was weight restored by doctors’ standards near the end of 2012,' she explained.

'It wasn’t until 2016 that I was recovered mentally, however. Some of those eating disorder thoughts, they will carry around for their entire lifetime, but one must learn to silence the voices and live their happy life,' she shared.

'Also, it is okay to not be okay,' the young star added.

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