How Samantha Lee Carbone Redefined Her Body Image After Winning A Bodybuilding Competition

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A qualified Australian nutritionist has admitted she struggled with her weight through an ‘unhealthy relationship with food’ during her teenage years – before a stint as a bodybuilding champion brought back memories.

Samantha Lee Carbone, from Adelaide, South Australia, often compared herself to others in magazines, on television and within her peers, leaving her feeling ‘surrounded by models’.

‘I didn’t know what was healthy and what was unhealthy; I never ate vegetables or protein and always bought Maccas when I went out with friends,” she said.

It wasn’t until 2014, when she sought help from a health coach, that she fell “in love” with nutrition, leading to winning a bodybuilding competition in 2017 and eventually becoming a health expert herself.

The now 33-year-old is a new mom teaching hundreds of women how to lose weight and develop and create healthy eating habits.

Australian nutritionist Samantha Lee Carbone (pictured) struggled with food as a teenager and after winning a bodybuilding competition in 2017. But today, the 33-year-old helps women make positive food choices.

At the age of 17, Samantha often compared herself to others in magazines, on television and within her peers, leaving her with the feeling of being 'surrounded by models'

In 2017 she entered her first bodybuilding competition which she won

At 17, Samantha often compared herself to others in magazines, on television, and within her peers, leaving her feeling “surrounded by models” (left). In 2017 she entered her first bodybuilding competition which she won (right)

She didn’t label her bad eating habits as an eating disorder, but rather as an eating disorder due to a lack of nutrition education.

Unlike an eating disorder where a person does not eat for a long time, an eating disorder is a constant change in a person’s eating habits.

“It got to a point where I was 17 and just unhappy. My weight fluctuated a lot and I felt really limited in my life,” said Samantha.

“I think culture played a part in it too – growing up in a big Italian family where we just ate and ate all the time.”

She added that she sometimes hindered herself from eating all day in order to have a “big meal” in the evening.

Samantha said her health coach “saved her life” by introducing her to new foods she “never thought to try,” such as oats, yogurt, and peanut butter.

“My coach was a bodybuilder herself, and a year after working with her, she asked if I’d ever considered joining,” she said.

‘I always said I would never do it’ [body building] because I was kind of shy, but I thought I’d give it a try.’

What are the possible signs of eating disorders?

1. Avoid thinking about food

2. Obsessively Counts Calories or Macros

3. Feels guilty for ‘unhealthy’ food

4. Bans Certain Foods or Food Groups

5. Always planning or thinking about the next meal

6. Don’t like to eat with others

7. Eating/eating causes stress and anxiety

8. Avoid eating out

9. Is afraid of certain foods or ingredients

10. Always Analyze Nutrition Labels

11. Obsessed With Healthy Or Clean Eating

12. Constantly Dieting

13. Binge Eating – Limit Cycle

14. Ignores Hunger/Fullness Signs

Source: Natural Nutrition/Instagram

As she won the competition in 2017 and ran for three more years, she didn’t realize how difficult the diet plan would be to follow and the difficulties that followed.

“I had just created all these good eating habits and then switched to bodybuilding, which is the opposite,” she said.

“I won the title, but it was really limiting and brought back bad memories.”

To compete, she would eat no more than 1,200 calories a day and drink “heaps of water” and “take it away” to reduce body fat.

As she won the competition and competed for another three years, she didn't realize how difficult the diet plan would be to follow and the difficulties that followed.

As she won the competition and competed for another three years, she didn’t realize how difficult the diet plan would be to follow and the difficulties that followed.

To compete she would eat no more than 1200 calories a day and drink

To compete she would eat no more than 1200 calories a day and drink “heaps of water” and then “take it away” to reduce body fat

Her diet consisted of a clean-cut diet of protein, carbohydrates, and no sugar or fat, which was “not a balanced diet.”

After the competition, she experienced body dysmorphism and had the internal struggles to deal with body image issues like she did when she was a teenager.

“There are positives and negatives to bodybuilding, and you shouldn’t get involved with the weight loss goal,” she said.

“A lot of people don’t talk about the ‘aftermath’ of bodybuilding and how it affects you emotionally and mentally.”

Shortly after her first bodybuilding competition, she went on to study nutritional psychology to help her adapt to different situations where her body weight changes.

After her first bodybuilding competition, she studied nutritional psychology to help her adapt to different situations where her body weight changes

After her first bodybuilding competition, she studied nutritional psychology to help her adapt to different situations where her body weight changes

Samantha creates a homely environment where her two-year-old daughter is 'surrounded by healthy food' by planting vegetables in the vegetable garden

Samantha creates a homely environment where her two-year-old daughter is ‘surrounded by healthy food’ by planting vegetables in the vegetable garden

Today, Samantha helps a wide variety of different women, each with their own food goals.

She has worked with soccer players, new moms and “everyday women” to achieve their food prospects and create healthy lifestyle habits.

‘Negative relationship with food often starts as a child; we learned that food is good, food is bad and cake is used as a reward for good behavior,” she said.

And now with her two-year-old daughter, Samantha makes sure she’s “surrounded by healthy food” by planting vegetables in the vegetable garden and teaching her about different foods.

“She loves it—and she can’t get enough of broccoli,” Samantha said with a laugh.

Samantha has also put into words everything she’s learned and released a new book titled “Love Yourself from the Inside Out,” which you can purchase from her website.

If you need help or support for an eating disorder or body image problem, call the Butterfly National Helpline at 1800 334 673 or email support@thebutterflyfoundation.org.au

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