Rebecca Laurien, 31, associate director

Height: 152 cm
Weight: From 63 kg – 50 kg  

“I never really cared about what I ate. I knew I would never be like my thin friends, who could eat anything they wanted and not put on weight, so I indulged in whatever I liked – chips, pizzas… you name it. When I was 13, I was 152cm and weighed 54kg. By the time I started work, I was 63kg. I did try losing weight – I went on the South Beach diet, took supplements and so on – but I could never sustain the efforts for long, especially after my husband and I moved to Singapore and I started overindulging in local food.

The turning point came when I went to Phuket and Koh Samui on vacation. I felt miserable when I went shopping for clothes for the trip and realised that I had to look for those in UK size 16 – a huge contrast to the UK size 4 that I wore when I was at my slimmest. My unhappiness was compounded when I saw myself in photos taken during the trip.

Determined to finally make a change for good, I enlisted the help of Rebecca, a personal trainer and nutritionist, a month after I returned from the Thailand trip. We started off with hour-long workout sessions once or twice a week, and I made changes to my diet.

After seven months, I was finally at my target weight: 54kg. Weight loss aside, I felt more energetic and confi dent than before. I work out at least five times a week now, and still go for a peanut butter sundae when the mood strikes – the key, I’ve discovered, is to eat in moderation.

At the end of the day, it’s really not the number on the scale that matters but how you feel in your clothes and when you work out. Being motivated is important if you want to overcome weight issues, and so is surrounding yourself with the right people – supportive friends who will give you the strength to persevere. It’s not impossible to overcome weight issues – it just takes dedication.”

Melissa Sarah Wee, 30, freelance personal trainer

Height: 156cm 
Weight: From 60 kg – 45 kg then to 70 kg – 64 kg  

“I was 14 when I fi rst stuck my finger down my throat to force myself to throw up the instant noodles, Oreo cookies and packets of chips I had on top of my lunch. I was 154cm and well over 60kg.

Forced to join the Trim and Fit Club, a school weight loss programme, and ridiculed even by schoolmates I didn’t know, I grew depressed. On the surface, I seemed jovial, but deep down, I felt worthless. I was so depressed that I would get medical certificates to avoid going to school.

Eventually, I developed bulimia. I would starve myself the entire morning, have lunch at home, then stuff myself with snacks so that it was easier to regurgitate the food. Some days, I would throw up, then eat again – sometimes up to four times in the space of two hours.

My skin soon became dry and yellowish, and my hair, thinner. My throat was also raw and painful from throwing up. I was always light-headed and had terrible migraines. My mum was the first to notice that something was wrong. She got our domestic helper to follow me around after I’d eaten to make sure that I didn’t go to the toilet to throw up. But I soon found a way around it – I would leave the house under the pretext of taking a walk downstairs and go to the shower area at the poolside to throw up. I also locked myself in my room to avoid contact with people and risk having my bulimia detected.

By the time I was 18, my weight had dropped to an all-time low of 45kg. Th =at same year, feeling depressed, I swallowed a bunch of painkillers and ended up in the hospital, desperately needing a blood transfusion. I stayed in the hospital for a week, and I think that was the turning point. I was tired of living with bulimia and felt sorry for breaking my mum’s heart. I realised how selfi sh I had been. I knew

I had to put a stop to my behaviour. With help from my doctor, I changed my eating habits. I had smaller, healthier meals with lots of fibre and protein. My mum was really supportive – she cooked healthier meals so that I could eat with the family and bought me protein shakes. Initially, I was afraid to eat much. But as time went by, I started to eat more and no longer kept track of my food intake.

As my metabolism was already damaged, I put on weight very easily. I was then an intern and snacked a lot without realising it. Within a year, my weight went up to 70kg and I was back at square one – feeling lousy about myself. But this time, I was determined not to fall back into the self-destructive binge-purge cycle of bulimia. 

My mum helped me snap out of the funk by buying a gym membership for me. I started going for aerobic classes and lost 5kg after five months. Not only did I look healthier and more toned, but I also felt better about myself. I visited the gym more often after that, and fell in love with fitness.

I wanted to help others with body image issues, so I took courses to become a fitness trainer. I also started lifting weights. I am now 64kg, with a low body fat percentage of 12 per cent. I’m more conscious about my diet now – I avoid sugary drinks and cook all my meals. But I cut myself some slack on Sundays – I indulge in a nice dinner, and even have a burger and fries sometimes. 

I work out six days a week now, and am a freelance personal trainer. Some of my clients have eating disorders as well, and I’m able to relate when they open up about their fears and feelings. Eating disorders are very real – they affect you physically, psychologically and emotionally. But there is nothing in this world that cannot be overcome.

This story was originally published in Her World Fit & Fab Issue #3 in 2014.