By Dan Howlett @DanHowlett85

A HULKING bodybuilder almost died from bulimia - before discovering the joy of lifting weights which saved her life

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Videographer / Director: Geoff Tirrell
Producer: Dan Howlett
Editor: Sonia Estal

Bulimia to bodybuilder: Laura now eats more than 2,000 a day after battling an eating disorder for most of her adult life

Laura Payne was 16 when a bad break up from her high school sweetheart left her anorexic and within three years her weight plummeted to six stone.

The 32-year-old has now gone from eating less than 500 calories a day to more than 2,000 after meeting her husband Jason who introduced her to competition bodybuilding.

Laura still struggles with bulimia and anorexia but believes bodybuilding has saved her life.

Laura said: “I look at old pictures now and I look like I’m really ill – my bones were sticking out of my body and I had no boobs or butt.

Working out: Laura and her husband Jason own their own gym in Odessa, Texas

“It’s sad that girls want to look like this – back then I just wanted to be as skinny as possible.

“I know that I’ve just replaced one obsession with another but at least bodybuilding is healthy.

“I still get to stay in control of everything – in bodybuilding all of the food is accounted for so it suits me.”

Her eating disorder worsened when Laura attended college and developed bulimia.

Champion: Laura has won numerous bodybuilding competitions since beating bulimia
Boy trouble: Laura developed her eating disorders after a bad break up in college

“It starts out because you think you are too fat or someone thinks you’re ugly,” added Laura.

“When I would throw up all of my cares would disappear – it just made me feel good.

“I also had a compulsion to over-exercise so would spend hours on the treadmill each day to make sure that I was burning off many more calories than I was consuming.

“My parents were terrified but there was nothing they could do – there was nothing anybody could do.

Dangerous weight: At her lowest Laura's weight plunged to just six stone
Life saving: Laura believes her condition would have killed her if she hadn't started training

“I believe the condition would have killed me if I didn’t start training.”

Her parents forced her to leave college and move in with them in her hometown of Odessa in Texas, USA, when they discovered the extent of her condition.

She said: “I lived off frozen grapes and animal crackers.

“I am alright now but it isn’t gone. I constantly think about food and I am constantly worried about how I look.”

Motherly love: She worries that her daughter could be affected by an eating disorder in the future
Still suffering: Outside of competition season Laura struggles with gaining weight and can often break down because of it

After meeting Jason, 32, in 2008 Laura started to regularly attend the gym and fell in love with bodybuilding.

But Jason found it hard to understand her condition, he said: “It’s taken a lot of patience to get her where we are today.

“It can be frustrating as I have to push her to eat out and enjoy food.

“If I feel like eating ice cream I will eat ice cream – but she can’t be persuaded if she has already had her cheat meal of the week.

Cheat day: Laura says the hardest part about bodybuilding is her cheat days - where she is expected to eat thousands of calories
Fighting fit: Laura now eats at least 2,000 calories a day and attends the gym five times a week

“Maybe I shouldn’t push her but I still find it hard to understand having an eating disorder.”

They have a daughter named Kylee but Laura worries that she could be affected by her eating disorder.

“When I found out I was pregnant I just did not want it to be a girl,” added Laura.

“If I found out she had developed similar problems it would break my heart because I would feel responsible.

Overcoming the problem: While she still battles with her disorders Laura now feels like she has finally beaten them

“I try not to obsess over myself in front of her but that’s hard.

“After this competition season I gained weight fast and I just broke down in front of her – she seen it all.”

Laura is now committed to attending the gym that she owns at least five times a week and consuming 2,000 calories a day.

She said: “When I competed earlier this year I weighed just under nine stone but now it’s off season and I weigh 10.5 stone.

“It bothers me that I’m not in competition shape but that’s something I’m just going to have to deal with for the rest of my life.

“My eating disorders are always there at the back of my mind – I’ve just got to keep focused on bodybuilding to ensure I never relapse.”