Opinion

Weight of eating disorders lifted off her shoulders

STRONG OUTLOOK: Body Boutique member Megan Axelsen, of Karalee, has transformed her formerly 37kg frame into a fit, healthy and capable body.
STRONG OUTLOOK: Body Boutique member Megan Axelsen, of Karalee, has transformed her formerly 37kg frame into a fit, healthy and capable body. David Nielsen
Body Boutique member Megan Axelsen of Karalee overcame anorexia to achieve success in the Australian Natural Physique Championships. Photo: David Nielsen / The Queensland Times
Body Boutique member Megan Axelsen of Karalee overcame anorexia to achieve success in the Australian Natural Physique Championships. Photo: David Nielsen / The Queensland Times David Nielsen

WEARING a skimpy bikini while she flaunts her ripped body on stage, it's unlikely anyone would pick Megan Axelsen as a recovered anorexic.

With her toned figure, the Karalee fitness instructor is a shining example of what a healthy body should look like.

This wasn't always the case though. For almost half of her life, the 36-year-old has battled with the eating disorder.

Standing at 165cm tall, she once weighed as little as 37kg.

"I would often wear big, baggy clothes in an effort to conceal how thin I was," she said.

"I'm sure people were still able to see it though, my eyes became sunken and I grew fine hair on my face and body."

At one stage her anorexia became so bad Ms Axelsen said she had to pack a pillow each time she went to university.

"I needed it because I lost my entire bottom," she said. "There was no muscle or fat, it was just bone.

"As a result I couldn't comfortably sit on seats without having a cushy pillow underneath me."

Though she was severely underweight, Ms Axelsen said she never saw her physical deterioration as a problem.

"When you're in that state, you don't want to admit to anyone you have a problem because then you're admitting you need help," she said. "And you don't want help, you just want to be left alone.

"Once I dropped to that weight, I seemed to lose my emotions - I didn't cry, I didn't laugh, I was just numb."

Though Ms Axelsen wasn't bothered by her physical state at the time, her parents were.

"My mum took me to see a specialist," she said. "Sufferers of eating disorders were typically put on waiting lists but when they took one look at me I was seen to immediately.

"After that I started visiting psychiatrists and dietitians regularly and allowed myself to gain just enough weight to keep me from going under doctors' care."

Body Boutique member Megan Axelsen of Karalee overcame anorexia to achieve success in the Australian Natural Physique Championships. Photo: Contributed
Body Boutique member Megan Axelsen of Karalee overcame anorexia to achieve success in the Australian Natural Physique Championships. Photo: Contributed Contributed

"During that time I was also pursuing a university degree, which I wasn't enjoying, and didn't have many friends," she said.

"I was also bullied a lot in school because I was such a shy and introverted person. So it was a combination of things, the break-up was just a catalyst.

"I started to do lots of cardio exercise, like walking for hours, and also lost my appetite without even realising it. I found being hungry was a good distraction from my other problems."

In less than a year her weight dropped from 55kg to 37kg.

"I would only eat one meal a day - a small bowl of cereal and some dried apricots," she said. "After several weeks, my mindset changed and I started to feel guilty whenever I ate more than that."

Ms Axelsen continued to starve her body until she was 30 and joined a group of cyclists, who were training for triathlons.

"Some of the members took me under their wing and convinced me to eat more so that I had more energy to take part," she said. "This eventually led me to start binge eating though - I went from one extreme to the other.

"I would polish off packets of Tim Tams, chips, tubs of ice cream - just eat and eat 'til I was almost sick.

"I justified it because I was still exercising a lot but I put on a lot of weight and became really unhappy with myself."

It wasn't until Ms Axelsen came across the sport of body sculpting that she was finally able to break the debilitating binge-starve cycle that had characterised her life for so long.

"I was about 71kg when I walked through the door of Ipswich-based physique conditioning studio Body Boutique and met with trainer Marian Leonard," she said.

"She inspired me to work towards competing in the INBA figure competition, where contestants are judged on their muscularity.

Body Boutique member Megan Axelsen of Karalee overcame anorexia to achieve success in the Australian Natural Physique Championships. Photo: David Nielsen / The Queensland Times
Body Boutique member Megan Axelsen of Karalee overcame anorexia to achieve success in the Australian Natural Physique Championships. Photo: David Nielsen / The Queensland Times David Nielsen

Ms Leonard - a former Ms Olympia champion - said she had needed to challenge Ms Axelsen's thinking about food and exercise.

"We had to change her focus from 'perfect' body to 'healthy' body and then her journey truly began to unfold," she said.

"It must have been incredibly daunting for Megan to look at her food plan and see six meals for each day; lots of veggies, protein, carbs and good fats.

"But we worked as a team creating trust and seeing success."

Once the competition day arrived, Ms Axelsen said she had never looked - or felt - better.

"Being a shy person, I was incredibly anxious about getting up on stage," she said. "But once I was out there, I loved every second of it.

"I had worked so hard to be able to get to that point so I gave it everything, the experience filled me with self-confidence."

Since then, Ms Axelsen has entered numerous physique competitions and recently placed first and second in her divisions at the ANB Asia Pacific International physique championships.

She now joins Ms Leonard as a certified personal trainer at Body Botique and is prepping for another INBA figure competition. "I am so thankful to Marion and the people at Body Botique for helping me recover from my disorder...it has been the most liberating thing for me," she said.

"My ambition now is to help others achieve their goals with healthy regular eating and exercise."

Topics:  anorexia, eating disorders, qt big read




Where the sinkhole water came from

The Basin Pocket sinkhole was drained into  gully.

The lab results are in

Is this the start of our Rural Renaissance?

Exports to the US have dropped 40%, China 30% and Japan 10%. China and Saudi Arabia have once more open their doors to Brazilian beef while Indonesia is now looking to Indian buffalo meat to boost its supplies

Rising prices the talk of the town as rain raises farmers’ spirits

Miller speech leaves ALP faithful stunned

STILL STRONG: Member for Bundamba Jo-Ann Miller MP at her Goodna office.

MP sticks to her guns at closed Labor conference

Latest deals and offers

Tom Hiddleston's Instagram account hacked

Actor Tom Hiddleston

Thor star the latest celebrity targetted by hackers

Charlize Theron's son dresses up as Frozen character

Actor Charlize Theron

Star's son spotted dressed a beloved Frozen character

BOOKS: Food for thought in Caroline Beecham's latest novel

Maggie's Kitchen by Caroline Beecham is published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $29.99.

New novel reminds readers that bravery exists in many forms

TELEVISION: New show is a Survivor, for now

Jonathan LaPaglia hosts the TV series Australian Survivor.

WHAT happens when a new show with a big budget flops?

Rachel Weisz understands celebrity gossip fascination

Actor Rachel Weisz

Weisz says mystery is good for an actor

Gina Rodriguez relished dramatic change for new film

Jane the Virgin lead Gina Rodriguez

TV star shaved her hair for movie role

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

$100m plan for Curtis Island 'world class' luxury resort

$100 million resort: Top views at Turtle Street at Curtis Island.

"At the moment we think it meets all the town planning approvals.”

Noosa mayor on "red alert" over planning court decision

Mayor Tony Wellington hands down his first budget.

Mayor upset at lack of say about look and feel of Noosa