A former GB swimmer has told how she beat a crippling eating disorder which saw her work out NINE times a week in a bid to maintain her professional athlete figure.
Lucy Davis, 24, swam for England internationally and came fifth in the British Championships before she quit her career to go to university.
But years of competitive swimming and being weighed multiple times a DAY left her unable to see past body fat percentages, weight loss, calorie counting and exercise.
When she quit, she still obsessed over her shape, and in an attempt to maintain her pro swimming body she went to the gym between seven and nine times a week.
Despite the rigorous exercise routines she only ate 1,100 calories a day – enough for a toddler.
For three years she battled with eating disorders, later binging thousands of calories at a time and then purging, to keep her tiny 8st 12lb figure.
She finally got healthy after doing a course to become a personal trainer, and now eats a balanced diet, and exercises for fun.
Lucy, from Salford, Manchester, said: “When I quit swimming, all I thought about was numbers – how much I ate, how much I weighed and how many gym sessions I could fit in a week.
“I became obsessed with keeping my weight as low as possible – even though I was already tiny.
“I’d still see myself in the mirror and think I needed to lose more fat.
“I’d be working out nine times a week, barely eating in the daytime before binging at night, and obsessively counting my calories.
“When I began secretly binge eating up to 2,000 calories of cakes, sweets and biscuits in one sitting, I would tell myself that I could eat anything I wanted, as long as I threw it back up again.
“I knew it was wrong, but the voice in your head is overpowering and hard to fight.
“But one day I looked in the mirror and realised I wasn’t ok – and that was when I knew I had to do something about it.”
Lucy began swimming at a national level aged 13 and she was soon juggling two training sessions a day, seven days a week, alongside studying for her A-levels.
She was weighed before and after every training session – and she said she “can’t remember a time before she knew what she weighed”.
Aged 14, she was national champion in seven events and held the record for her age group in the 200m individual medley.
She spent years competing for England in events across Europe – and came fifth in the British Championships 200m final in 2015.
After four years, she quit the sport to study at the University of Manchester.
During her first year she ate just 1,100 calories a day, often going to the gym twice a day to stop herself gaining weight.
She said: “From 14, it had been ingrained in me to always weigh myself, measure my body fat and restrict my diet – and I couldn’t help it.”
Within weeks, food cravings began to overwhelm her – leading to her first bulimic ‘food binge’.
After scoffing more than 2,000 calories of biscuits, chocolates and cakes, she forced herself to be sick – a secret habit she kept up for months, up to four times a week.
She said food ‘felt like a poison’.
“Most days I’d go to the shop after lectures and buy mountains of snacks because I was so desperate for food,” she said.
“I would just tell myself ‘you can eat whatever you want, as long as you throw it up again’.”
After five months, she looked in the mirror and realised she needed to fight the cruel mental illness.
She said: “I realised I wasn’t ok – I wasn’t even muscly any more, just super skinny.”
By late 2016 she had begun the long road to recovery – slowly reducing gym sessions and increasing her calories.
She started a course to become a personal trainer and set up a health-themed Instagram page to keep herself on track.
She even changed her route to university to avoid passing the shop where she used to buy mountains of snacks before a food binge.
She said: “I started to learn it’s all about getting the balance – rather than labelling ‘good’ foods and ‘bad’ foods.
“I also started going to the gym just six times a week, which was a big moment for me.
“I realised you can enjoy exercise instead of using it as a punishment.”
By the time she graduated aged 21, she had completed her personal training qualification and established an online coaching business, the MyCoach School, with boyfriend Ben Haldon, 29.
Lucy said she now maintains a healthy weight of 10st 3lb and eats a balanced diet of around 2,000 calories a day.
She said: “Now, I do exercise because I love it and I don’t restrict what I eat – I’ve realised food isn’t the enemy and it’s ok to eat things you enjoy.
“It was a tough journey, and I wouldn’t wish what happened to me on anybody else, but I came out the other side.
“I love being able to help other people to love exercise – and do it for the right reasons.”