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I am 24 years old and very passionate about working out. I think my body’s quite hot. In a week I will be standing on stage as part of a bikini fitness competition in Herning. Winning would mean the world to me.

I have been on a diet for almost two years. Everything I eat is weighed. This month I have been eating cod and asparagus in tiny portions. I’m so hungry!

Unfortunately, I’m not perfectly in shape. The next 7 days I need to lose more weight in order to increase my muscle definition.

The cod makes me sick. Every day I think about how wonderful it would be to just be able to eat whatever I feel like. Actually, I don’t really remember what it feels like not to be hungry.

I’m good at bikini fitness because I’m very disciplined. I’s a sport that requires a strong will. You need to be able to maintain a harsh diet while working out intensely – and yet giving the impression, that you’re on top of the world and confident on stage.

It’s a lot about having a harmonious body.

We call it the ‘The X’: The shoulders and the hips are equally wide; the back, the arms and the stomach have defined muscles. If, on top of that, your waist is narrow, you’re on your way!

Fuck. There are only four days to go before the competition and I have become ill. I have to work out, but I’m in bed and unable to do anything.

I’m imagining how it will be if I win. I really think I deserve it. I’ve been struggling f……g hard!

The last week before the competition has been tougher than I imagined. Actually, I was looking forward to the run-up. Right now I’m completely drained of energy. But it’s impossible for me to quit.

I want to show everyone that you can win, even if you have a somewhat female body shape. Most other girls are much more jagged than me.

But it’s not just about the competition. It’s also about conquering something inside of me.

During the past week I only got to eat vegetables and protein. Now, I finally reached the carbing-up phase. It means that I hardly get to eat anything but carbohydrates. Cod, never again. Instead, the bill of fare is rice crackers, bananas and still less liquid.

It’s to give the body some kind of shock. Carbohydrates can almost suck liquid out of the body and you get a kind of ‘dry look’.

I also need to pick up my stage bikini. A little sparkly suit for hundreds of dollars. But damn, I’m looking forward to it! It’s pretty damn soon!

There’s a reason I’m doing all this. I used to have orthorexia. I was obsessed with being healthy and exercised too much while eating too little. This photograph is from 2014, where I was doing really bad.

I’ve always wanted to be well again. I was in treatment for 2,5 years, but I was stuck with the disease. I started doing bikini fitness because it was the only way out, I could imagine.

I know I’ve exchanged one kind of control with another. But both my body and my mind felt a lot better when I started eating more, and in January 2016, I was declared cured.

The competition means so much to me because it is my proof, that I’m no longer controlled by the disease. If afterwards I can live my life without rules about food and exercise, I know I’ve moved on.

I have felt good for a long time. But this recent weeks I’ve been reminded of the past. I’ve noticed, that I like the feeling of losing weight and being small. It’s the dangerous side about at all this.

When I work out with the other girls, I feel I’m the ‘fat girl’ on the team. It’s far out, but I can always find faults in myself.

The fear of falling back in the eating disorder is occupying my thoughts these days.

During the past month, I have been so depressed that I have started having anxiety attacks. I wasn’t prepared for that at all, and it’s the most horrible I’ve ever experienced. This week it has happened almost every day.

When the anxiety strikes, I can’t breathe. I hyperventilate. I can’t stand wearing the sports bra. I have so many frustrations in my body. There’s something in my chest that I can’t get out.

Either I take the room to pieces, or I sit down and weep. I usually do the latter.

Should I stop? I don’t have to run for the competition. Anxiety grows, when I’m hungry or tired. If I just do nice things for myself, it goes away.

No matter what I choose, I lose. Either I take care of myself or I go all in on the competition. I can’t do both. Tough shit.

When I’m completely down, I look at photos from the time I was ill. Or at photos of hot bikini fitness athletes. I think about what the competition means to me. It’s not about standing on stage in a sparkly bikini and stilettos. It’s the proof that I have won the most important struggle of my life.

Seriously, if I can do it this week, life will be a piece of cake afterwards. Three days to go. I can do it.

As soon as I’m off stage, I weep. It didn’t go as I had imagined at all, but I really hope that I’ve qualified for the finals. I would love to go back on stage and give it one more shot.

I almost pray to God: Let me qualify. My girlfriend Julie, who is waiting for me backstage, has checked who has reached the finals. She doesn’t say anything, she just hugs me.

Suddenly all the girls come over to hug me. I need those hugs, but I just want to push them all away.

I’m texting a little with my mother who’s sitting in the hall with the rest of my family. It’s really embarrasing having to go out there, where everybody can see that I haven’t reached the finals. I hate it! It’s really weird to feel ashamed when I know how proud my family is of me.

When I meet people after the competition, I want to run away from the realities. I’m frustrated, and for many days, I feel it was all a mistake.

One week after the event, I do an update on Instagram. I’m trying to remind myself why I did all this. I write that I’m happy and proud that I have worked myself out of the eating disorder. That the competition didn’t matter in the big picture. I know that I should be delighted with everything that I have achieved. But right now it’s not what I feel.

Nevertheless, I post it.

Looking back, I’m almost sad that I chose a hobby where I treated myself so recklessly. That I’ve been so tough on my body once again, completely voluntarily. Fuck man, what did I do?

Mentally, the time after the competition was even harder than the weeks before. I was struggling to accept the extra kilos that quickly set on my body. I struggled to keep the old thoughts away. And I won.

The change came slowly. The first days after the competition, I was delighted to finally get to choose what I wanted for breakfast. Now, I only eat what I like and I feel how the food gives me energy. I also have the time to socialize again and I notice that my friends have missed me. Before it was just fitness, fitness, fitness. Me, me, me.

I think, most people feel there is something about their body that they could change in order to make it look nicer. I still have those thoughts. The crucial factor must be how extreme it is and how much you are affected by it in your everyday life.

It’s a huge relief that I can finally live without being controlled by a diet plan, an exercise program or my weight. I’m proud of myself.

I feel good. I’m happy and I haven’t really weighted myself since the competition. I don’t know what I should use that number for. My body is here, and I’m happy with it. In the past many years, I have focused too much on the body. Now, I want to focus on something else.

Every day, I try letting go of the control. Control is just a kind of security and it doesn’t make me happy. I try to find out what I really want. It’s easier said than done, but I feel a bubbly joy when I think about my future and my ambitions.

I’m a dietician and I really want to help others feeling good about themselves and their bodies. I’m sure, you’re much better at that when you know how difficult it can be.

My friend Julie and I have just started a company where we inspire, motivate and help others achieving their goals. I love it! It gives so much sense.

In addition, I was given the opportunity to run for the Danish championships in bikini fitness. My score from the competition in Herning was high enough. I’ve considered it. And frankly? I don’t want to.


Idea & Video: Heidi Skibsted