Diet Pills and Starvation are not the route to salvation.
Like nearly every woman out there I have suffered many battles with my body image, and therefore my self esteem.
Forget as a model, even simply as a woman there is an immense amount of pressure to look a certain way. Modern media and commercial advertising means we (and this includes guys too) are faced with unrealistic expectations of perfection. Now that's ok, because at the end of the day we all know it works and we've bought that face cream. The battle is however, reaching that level of comfort within your own skin to simply 'walk away' from that pressure and not allow it rule you emotionally.
I gained weight for the first time when I was 17 and had learnt to drive, suddenly abandoning all walking I had performed previously. For the first time I had to exercise to maintain a figure I was proud of which I hated. 3 months later I was back down to a size 8/10 from a 14. Soon after I won my first beauty pageant, Miss Bristol. By 18 I had won a modelling TV show, by 19 I was Miss London, and then at 20 I won Miss Great Britain - which qualified me to compete at Miss Universe. I saw competing as a sport, I just wanted to keep winning and keep getting better.
Getting in shape for Miss Universe was a whole other ball game however. I had survived in my career thus far with my size 8/10 curves. The girls I would be competing against were size 4/6 and I wanted to go in with a body that DID NOT MOVE when I hit the stage for the bikini catwalk. Great Britain had never placed before at Miss Universe and I was determined to change that.
Now before you read on let me just say; I have never been involved or interested in any kind of drugs, I have never even smoked a cigarette. But temptation of using something that was going to get me the results I wanted in super fast time sold me. So when a friend at the gym offered me high caffeine diet pills - I immediately started taking two a day. The effects were ridiculous - My energy levels were beyond control. Because I was able to work so much harder, I was burning and drop weight like no tomorrow. It had taken me three months to lose 3kg - the pills meant I did this again in a week. I did eventually reach my goal and became the first and only Miss Great Britain to place at Miss Universe.
Sounds too good to be true right? It was!
I had planned to fly straight from the MU finals in Russia to London, swap winter clothes for summer clothes and get straight on a plane to Australia in order to take part in ITV's: I'm a celebrity - Get me out here. I had not thought through in my head, that this would cut me off to my supply of caffeine and energy.
I suffered from what I can only describe as caffeine 'cold turkey' where I just wanted to sleep for days on end. Earning the nickname 'Sleeping Beauty' very quickly amongst my campmates. It was very uncharacteristic of me to sleep so much, but I blamed it on the exhaustion of everything that was happening. The combination of being starved for a month (which drastically changed my metabolism) and not having the energy to strength train anymore (therefore losing my muscle) - meant that when I returned back to normal life, although I was eating the same amounts as I had before my crazy adventure - I was literally piling on uncontrollable amounts of weight.
No matter what I tried, including running a marathon, I could not seem to shift the extra pounds. Which was heart-breaking, since so many aspects of my career relies on looks. I had mistreated my body and now I was paying the price. It has literally taken me twp years to get back to the stage where I can train and eat a good diet and lose weight then maintain it.
Losing weight 'the natural way' (raw good diet and exercise) but the way we know actually makes the most sense - takes a lot longer yes. It takes dedication, persistence and drive. But hand on my heart I promise you it's worth it - and the only way to really treat your body right. The amount of time you skip with cheat methods will only be reclaimed in time waiting for your body to recover and repair the damage.
I'm glad it happened to me now because I'm the kind of person who would have always been curious to try quick alternatives. It's a lesson well learnt but one I hope not everyone has to go through.
As I reach my 23rd birthday, I have finally reached a point in my life where I am comfortable in my own skin. Comfortable enough that nobody can tell me what to believe about myself. Now my motivation to wake up in the mornings doesn't come the caffeine in my diet pills, it comes from my want to be better. Because I know how much happier and more alive I feel now that I dedicated that hour a day to my body and wellbeing - and I work harder than ever in the gym.
This month I was lucky enough to be featured on the cover of FHM, this cover for me represented a proud moment for me where I can honestly sit back and say I'm body confident and its 100% me that's done that for myself.
I'm writing this for all the girls that message me on Instagram and twitter asking me how to lose weight. My answer truly is do it the natural, healthy way - the way that's going to last. I learnt the hard way and hopefully by spreading this people wont make the mistakes I made. Although I see all lessons in life as blessings for the future - It's better to learn the lesson through a blog than two years of your life!
Let me know what you think of my blog on Twitter: @AmyWillerton & Instagram: @MissAmyWillerton