Lucy Dunne was in a cycle of binge eating, over-exercising, and self-criticism for years, but the body she used to destroy herself is the very same thing she now uses to heal herself and others.
Things like office birthdays or ordering a burger at a restaurant triggered her inner critic. Instead of enjoying community and celebration at birthdays and hangouts, Dunne lingered alone with her diet demons.
Thinking she needed to look a certain way and carve her body into a desired shape consumed her life. She resorted to restriction, over-exercising and supplements to attempt to build a body like the ones she saw on the internet.
This ideal led Dunne down a dangerous road.
Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, according to the National Benefit Authority.
Years of undereating and over-exercising lead to years of skipped periods and health problems.
“I had no energy,” she says. “Someone could brush past me, and it would result in a giant bruise.”
Dunne deprived herself of essential nutrients for such a long time that when she finally gave her body what it needed, it wanted more.
As a result, she developed a binge eating disorder.
The cycle of binging continued due to her body’s response. Her brain thought it felt good, but a relentless cycle of guilt followed.
Transforming the mind and body
Dunne sits with her laptop open, training clients through her online personal training platform, Dunnebells.
Dunnebells provides an eight-week weight loss program that focuses on strength training with home and gym options. Dunne believes her approach is practical because it promotes sustainability and community that helps women transform both the body and mind.
She feels an unceasing responsibility to care for people who need the encouragement and support she once needed.
When training clients through Dunnebells, Dunne’s priority is to focus on the attitude behind our thoughts.
“No amount of training diet, nutrition, fine-tuning, anything like that, won’t help what’s underneath there,” she says.
Dunne seeks for all the people she works with to embrace who they are, differences included, so that they can focus their energy and attention on other passions or talents.
Her desire for the world is to see people “absolutely loving themselves,” and to see what they are all capable of doing.
A large part of what makes Dunne’s coaching so compelling is her understanding of diet struggles.
“When I’m working one on one with people to help them through what they are going through, it’s really beneficial that I know how they’re feeling and what’s going on inside their brain,” she says.
The connection Dunne can have with her clients is the key to the overwhelming rate of recovery that results from her training.
Embracing positive body image
Dunne knows the voice of her inner critic well, which has only grown more influential in the age of social media.
“That’s why your body looks this way. That’s why you can’t lose that fat.”
These thoughts used to crowd her mind and Dunne couldn’t disagree with them.
“People think that there’s nothing wrong with what they’re doing until they’re put in front of it and realize, actually, that’s really not how I want to live my life,” says Dunne.
Dunne now knows she’s not just her physical body, contrary to what the fitness industry may tell us.
The events of Dunne’s life aren’t unusual, but her response to shift the conversation surrounding diet culture is.
“I just try and share openly, publicly about my story to empower other people to do their own version, and to love themselves where they are,” she adds.
Instead of trying to hide her story, Dunne rewrote her narrative.
“I’m very thankful for the journey that I’ve been through,” she says.
“My weight loss is one thing, but also the eating disorder,” she added. “I am thankful for it because now I feel called to put it out there publicly to help people,” she says.
Dunne believes the conversation surrounding eating disorders is getting a little bit better, but there is still a stigma.
“People don’t want to talk about it, and people don’t know how to help people with eating disorders,” she says.
With the help of her support system, Dunne runs an active and influential social media account to accompany her online training career.
Brighter futures ahead
One of Dunne’s closest friends, Katie Girard, credits Dunne with being the person to bring out her confidence.
“I think it’s always been inspiring to everyone else that she’s been open about that stuff and telling people you can still be fit, even if you’re not fit in the eye of society,” says Girard.
Dunne’s wife, Kelsi Dunne, has lived through it all, from the days of restrictive dieting to her recovery, to their current life together.
During the days of her eating disorder, Kelsi felt concerned about how she compared to Dunne.
But since Dunne’s mental and physical recovery, their relationship has been able to thrive.
“I don’t compare myself to anyone. I don’t force myself to work out with her anymore. I don’t think I’m inadequate,” says Kelsi.
Kelsi has also been able to experience freedom in her own life as a result of Dunne’s recovery.
“We go out, we have fun, we could eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at a restaurant if we wanted to and she wouldn’t worry about it,” Kelsi says.
Dunne still has her bad days but she resists the temptation to give in to her old habits.
“There’s nothing I want more than the life I have now,” she says.