Three years ago, Bethany Tomlinson was a petite size 2 (U.K. Size 6), weighing in at 98 pounds.
The 22-year-old from Somerset, U.K., says she never started out with an eating disorder; she was just naturally very small. She describes her former body as “carrot” shaped — she didn’t really have much of a figure and she felt it was out of proportion.
“My (upper) body was so broad, not really muscular, but just larger, and I had these tiny little spindly legs,” the 5’2″ beauty states in a recent video where she describes her inspirational body transformation.
“I never really had very big boobs,” Tomlinson admits. “I felt almost masculine. I didn’t feel feminine in any way, and it was a real knock to my confidence.”
She was so uncomfortable with her body that she’d cover up with T-shirts whenever she was with her boyfriends — even at bedtime.
“I would never take the T-shirt off to bed because I was too uncomfortable with them seeing that I didn’t really have any chest. And because everything else was so disproportionate to me, I just generally didn’t really feel good about myself.”
It hit home as to how small she was when she started weighing herself — that’s when she admits to slightly “losing control.” She was about 16-years-old and weighed less than 100 pounds; she began eating a lot of junk food in attempt to put on some curves. For breakfast she ‘d eat chocolate croissants along with a cooked meal, toast and coffee. A typical lunch would include pizza with meat chops and for dinner she’d eat a home-cooked meal. Snacks would include popcorn, chocolate, sweets and biscuits.
“I would weigh myself every morning and my weight would just fluctuate,” she admits. “I was eating this crappy food. My mood was shit; I was just vile to my parents. I just didn’t have any energy, my brain function was crap.”
As her weight continued to fluctuate, so did her mood. One day she’d put on two pounds and would be “as high as a kite” and the next day she’d loose three to four pounds and would be vile to everyone.
“I’d cry almost every day I’d weigh myself,” she stated. “And it was such an unhealthy obsession. I don’t recommend to anyone weighing themselves everyday, unless you’re on some sort of prep.”
About a year before she started university, Tomlinson discovered that her dad had spinal cancer; it quickly spread to other parts of his body, including his brain. Gutted, she knew it was time to make serious changes in her life.
“He was my number one fan for everything in life. Everything I did, he would support me. Everything that went wrong, he would be there to fix it,” she said. “I was determined for him to make something for myself … to make him proud.”
Going to the gym was hard at first. Tomlinson admitted to feeling intimidated, scared, and unconfident. She didn’t know what she was doing and she didn’t want people to judge her.
“I would lock myself in toilets, I would just go back to my room,” she admitted. She eventually joined Instagram and saw amazing photos of girls who were incredibly small, but who transformed their bodies to gain butts and legs. She was hopeful that she could do the same.
“The ball just got rolling from there and I realized through weight training and things like that, that this was possible.”
She started slow, going to the gym at quiet times or simply exercising in her room — she tried squats, lunges, and other various isometrics until she felt confident enough to try them out at the gym. She used simple 2 kg (4.4 lb.) dumbbells, sometimes her friends would joke that they weren’t heavy enough.
“I wasn’t able to do anything crazy or push up my weight. I just enjoyed being somewhere rather than my room, and thinking about everything that was going wrong in my life.”
After her dad passed away she continued to focus on the gym, it was almost like a form of escape. She delved into diet and fitness research and set goals for herself. Her short-term goals were to learn how to squat properly and to improve her form. Her long-term goals were to build a bootie and to build her legs (as you can see from her Instagram snaps she’s accomplished her goals).
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“I started counting my calories, I started figuring out that protein was important and eating one pound of protein per pound of body weight,” she said. By the second year of university she got into a routine and began seeing more progress. “I got excited; I was like ‘I really enjoy this.'”
These days, a typical day’s worth of meals for Bethany include protein pancakes prepared with gluten-free self-raising flour, or eggs with sliced salmon and gluten-free bread (she shows how to prepare these meals and many other gluten-free, dairy-free and IBS-friendly meals for strength and muscle mass on her YouTube channel). For lunch, she might eat a wholegrain wrap consisting of chicken and salad and for dinner she’d munch on tuna pasta or a protein with carbs. Snacks include protein bars or soy yogurt.
Exercising and eating healthy not only gave her body confidence, the confidence seeped into every aspect of her life — “presentations, university, standing up in front of my classmates, talking to new people, work interviews, I was just so much more confident.”
For anyone looking to work out, Tomlinson suggests setting short-term and long term goals. To this day, she continues setting goals for herself. Her short-term goal is to get 10 wide-set pull-ups, and her exercises are shaped around so.
“The biggest key I would give anyone is consistency. It doesn’t mean you have to go (to the gym) every single day at the same time, for months and years on end, it just means have some consistency within your life,” she advises while discussing her personal body transformation. “Have some set days where your training and your diet remains consistent and I promise you, you will see some results.”
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