Before fitness became a vital part of Emily Skye‘s life, the influencer struggled with depression, disordered eating and bullying.
At just 11 years old, a doctor put Skye on antidepressants.
“In grade school, they’d make frog noises when I walked past because I had big eyes, and they called me Stick Creature because I was skinny,” the Australian, 32, tells Women’s Health for the July/August cover.
Skye started modeling at age 13 — her mom’s attempt to help her gain confidence — but being around the other girls only lowered her self-esteem.
“I’d go to castings and compare myself to the other women,” she says. “I would think, ‘I’m not pretty enough or skinny enough.’ But I kept modeling because I needed praise to feel loved.”
And in her 20s, Skye was working out excessively — two hours of cardio a day — while eating just carrots, celery and hummus to stay a size zero.
“ on the verge of an eating disorder,” she says, “but I wasn’t fit or healthy. I had so much self-hate that sometimes I didn’t feel like I wanted to live.”
But at age 24, Skye found fitness magazines and started on a path that would eventually become her career.
“The women seemed so strong and healthy,” she says. “I loved the idea of using weights to transform your body, to look and feel powerful.”
With each workout, Skye started to feel better about herself, and was able to stop taking antidepressants.
“Before I had this cloudy feeling, and now, the sun was shining. I thought, ‘This is what being alive is like.’ I felt like a superhero,” she says.
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Now Skye — who recently announced that she’s pregnant with her first child — has 2.1 million Instagram followers who love her ability to give out smart fitness advice while still keeping it real about belly bloat and “transformation” photos.
“It’s so important for women to remember that the people who inspire them are human and shouldn’t be put up on pedestals,” she says.
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