Bodybuilding Champion Conquers 15 Years of Eating Disorders

By John Lavitt 12/29/14

A UK woman won first place at a bodybuilding competition after successfully overcoming both anorexia and bulimia.


In an inspirational tale to mark the end of the year, 31-year-old Carly Tierney conquered 15 years of battling eating disorders to win the Miss Bikini Tall category in Great Britain. Crowned the 2014 champion at the Miami Pro UK competition, the female bodybuilder's victory was a symbolic moment for women dealing with the self-destructive demons of anorexia and bulimia. She hopes her victory can demonstrate that redemption and health are true possibilities, she told the Daily Mail.

Tierney, who is from South Yorkshire, suffered from a combination of anorexia and bulimia since she was a teenager. As a child, she was bullied for being overweight. She explained the pernicious logic that followed. "I decided to diet in order to look better but in fact I started to look horrible," she said. "People would say, 'Oh look at her, she looks good, she looks skinny,' when in actually fact I was going through hell."

Rather than achieving her desired results, Tierney fell into a compulsive spiral of eating disorders. At age 30, after years of failed treatments, she realized she had no other choice but to help herself. She began learning about nutrition, healthy eating and exercising. Her research led her to professional bodybuilding. The first step in embracing this path was to become a full-time personal trainer. For the past two years, she’s trained twice daily while eating six to eight small meals a day to replenish her strength and maintain her metabolism.

Incredibly, it was just 18 months ago that she became serious about the possibility of competing. Yet, in October, she claimed the title of Miss Bikini Tall at the Miami Pro UK bodybuilding competition, beating 65 other entrants.

Bodybuilding has built not just her physical strength, but her mental resilience as well. During the competition, Tierney took the judges' comments like a true professional. "I think differently about my body than I did before as this is a sport and means things always need improving. The judge commented that I needed work on my bum and my legs. If I had been told that before, I think I would have had a nervous breakdown," she said.

She hopes her victory will inspire people to be more comfortable in their own bodies. "It is really important to educate people on eating disorders, especially bulimia. People see these high achievers and think they are successful, skinny and fine but they don't know what goes on behind closed doors,” she said.

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.