Weight nightmare turns into bodybuilding dream

Weight nightmare turns into bodybuilding dream
Miss Melissa Sarah Wee (second from right) at the Central California Championships, a bodybuilding competition. She won the second prize in the women’s physique category.

She went all the way to the US to take on the locals and beat all but one of them.

Miss Melissa Sarah Wee, 30, won second prize in the women's physique category at the Central California Championships, a bodybuilding competition, two weeks ago.

But the Singaporean's journey to fulfilling a cherished dream was anything but smooth.

Looking at the freelance personal trainer's impressive physique, it's hard to believe that she was once at either end of the weight spectrum.

In her teens, she was first chubby, then underweight, then obese again.

She was bullied for her weight and then suffered from bulimia nervosa, an eating disorder that involves binge eating and then purging or vomiting out the food.

At her lowest weight, she was only 44kg at a height of 1.56m.

After she recovered from bulimia, she became overweight again, tipping the scales at 74kg when she turned 18.

Chubby in primary school, Miss Wee was then bullied for being overweight in lower secondary.

She was in an elite all-girls school and was constantly ridiculed about her weight by a group of seniors.

Teachers would also shame her in front of the school by announcing her weight, she said.

"It was very hurtful as I was only 13 or 14 then," Miss Wee told The New Paper yesterday.

She turned to bulimia as it gave her a sense of control over her diet. She obsessed over food and her weight, and underwent episodes of bingeing.

"I had ulcers around my mouth all the time. My knuckles were also scraped as I kept forcing my hand down my throat to make myself vomit," she said.

Despite the physical signs, she managed to hide her condition from her family until her mum overheard her vomiting in the toilet after a buffet dinner one day.

Her mother, Madam Lilian Lee, 55, said: "I suspected something was wrong, but I was still shocked when it was confirmed."

Miss Wee said: "After that, she asked my maid to follow me around the house all the time, and stand outside the toilet whenever I was using it."

The first turning point came when she was hospitalised for a week from the side effects of bulimia.

She managed to overcome this hurdle through the support of family and friends and from talking to her church counsellor.

But Miss Wee continued obsessing over her weight and soon returned to bingeing. She started gaining weight and tipped the scales at 74kg.

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