A young woman has become a super-fit personal trainer after winning a five-year battle against anorexia.
Sarah Leanne Pustkowski, 22, struggled with anorexia nervosa during her late teens, dropping to a tiny 5st 11lb after surviving on just 400 calories a day.
But now, Sarah has finally beaten her battle with the eating disorder and qualified as a personal trainer.
Sarah, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffs, said: “It was in 2010 that I really started to deteriorate.
“It all boiled down to a build-up of pressure – I had GCSEs coming up and wanted to get the best results.
“My lowest point came on my last parents’ evening before my final GCSE exams – a teacher told me I got one of the worst results in a mock ever, and said I should read children’s books to help me digest the information better.
“It absolutely crushed me – as someone who always put my heart and soul into academics, to get that feedback was heart-breaking.
“I just felt like I wasn’t good at anything – that’s when I started thinking it was down to what I looked like, and I started seriously restricting my diet and body-checking myself.”
Sarah became a shell of her happy-go-lucky self and she survived on tiny portions of cereal and vegetables totalling just 400 calories a day.
She said: “I really hit rock bottom on the night of my prom – I hadn’t eaten for the entire day, and when I came home I collapsed.
“I was bedridden for a full month, I couldn’t stand up without collapsing.
“But I still refused to eat or even drink anything.”
At aged 16, Sarah was hospitalised involuntarily for six months as her parents desperately tried to get through to her.
She said: She said: “I just didn’t feel I had a right to live
“I spent a lot of my later teenage years bedridden – I would collapse whenever I tried to stand, even when I got up in the night to go to the bathroom I would end up on the floor.
“I couldn’t sit down without a cushion underneath me and it was difficult to sleep at night – my bones were poking out of my skin, it was so painful.
“I was always fatigued, my hair was brittle and fell out all the time, and I was constantly cold – even in the 20 degree summer heat I would sit with a hot water bottle and blanket.
“My family were devastated and begged me to get better, but I was constantly focused on control.”
After Sarah was hospitalised for a second time something finally clicked and she realised she had to get better.
She said: “The first time I went into hospital was horrific, if anything it made me worse.
“But eventually I realised I had to get better for my family – and I was the only one who could save me.”
After beating her demons, Sarah begun learning about fitness and nutrition as she was determined to help others.
Now a fit and healthy 8st 10lb, 5ft 5in Sarah is working as a personal trainer at Fenton’s Lifestyle fitness gym in Stoke.
Sarah, who writes about fitness and nutrition on her blog, the Growing Butterfly, said: “I’m so excited to start the New Year with a new job and a happy, healthy perspective.
“I wouldn’t wish anorexia on anyone but in a way I’m thankful for it – it’s made me realise how strong I am.
“Now my diet is full of amazing foods – I’ve grown to love food again, and appreciate what it does for my body.”
Sarah also hopes to raise awareness and help other people who are suffering with eating disorders.
She said: “Eating disorders are not a physical illness – it’s all to do with the mind.
“Most sufferers are actually in a healthy weight range but have extreme control or lack control over their eating habits – and a lot of sufferers fall through the net because of this.
“Having gone through this myself, I know the impact it has on a persons’ self-worth.”