Mother who ‘hit rock bottom’ after years of depression and ‘felt life wasn’t worth living’ during first Covid lockdown reveals how losing 4st and taking up bodybuilding ‘saved her life’
A mother-of-two who was on the brink of suicide has revealed how body building saved her life.
The self-employed beauty therapist was a size 14 at her heaviest and she began to believe ‘life wasn’t worth living’ during the first lockdown in 2020.
However after her sister offered to pay for a personal trainer, she decided to transform her body and mental health.
By December 2021, Alanna had lost four and a half stone and she even won gold in the ‘bikini model’ category at her first body building show.
Alanna, who now weighs a healthy eight stone, said: ‘It’s not just about the aesthetics for me, if you look at my eyes in the before photos, you can see that I had given up on life. I never thought that I would get here, but I made it.’
Alanna Groom, 42, from Havering, London, who was on the brink of suicide has revealed how body building saved her life (left and right)
Alanna’s battle with depression escalated after the birth of her two daughters Romilly, seven, and Rémy, four, as she was diagnosed with post-natal depression.
For years, Alanna began experimenting with commercial diet products such as protein shakes and energy bars, however they only made her feel worse and further deteriorated her mental health.
She said: ‘I had thrown money at dieting all my life.
‘These diets were basically starving me- I thought it was normal to have two milkshakes a day and just one 300-calorie meal.’
After ditching a diet of sugary foods and wine, she is now a healthy eight stone and hits the gym every day at 5am (pictured)
10million people ‘face mental health crisis in wake of Covid’
Up to 10million people could need mental health support in the wake of the pandemic, a report warned before Britain’s second wave of coronavirus.
Experts said around 8.5million adults and 1.5million children in England will likely need help to deal with the fallout from coronavirus, including losing loved ones and jobs.
They will mostly need help for depression and anxiety, according to analysis from the Centre for Mental Health, which consulted experts from the NHS.
But others – including NHS workers – could develop conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), more commonly associated with service personnel following armed conflicts.
But things took a turn for the worst during 2019 when she was forced to shut her business and began to believe ‘life wasn’t worth living’.
Alanna, who weighed 12 stone, was forced to stop working during lockdown which led to her mental health and eating to spiral out of control.
She said: ‘After lockdown my weight had gotten so bad and so had my depression.
‘I had a complete breakdown when I wasn’t working plus there was all the stress and strains of lockdown.
‘I hit rock-bottom – I felt like I was worth more dead than I was alive.
‘I was drinking, self-medicating and eating rubbish.’
It wasn’t until Alanna came across an online deal for a personal trainer and the generosity of a family member meant she was able to begin her transformation.
She said: ‘When the gyms weren’t open, I saw an advert for an online ‘lockdown special’ with a Scott Francis, a personal trainer, I had been following for a while.
‘I couldn’t afford it at the time, but I rung my sister, who doesn’t wish to be named, and she heard the desperation in my voice and paid for me.
‘I had to fill in these forms about my lifestyle and Scott even suggested that I come off my antidepressants.
‘In my head, I was going to end up killing myself in the next few weeks, so I had nothing to lose.
‘My doctors gave me a ten week programme to come off my tablets and I had ten weeks of training with Scott.’
It wasn’t long before Alanna saw a huge transformation, not only in her appearance but in her mental well-being.
‘The anti-depressants had fogged my brain; I had been on them for years and I began noticing things that I haven’t seen before.
Alanna, who weighed 12 stone, was forced to stop working during lockdown which led to her mental health and eating to spiral out of control (pictured, at her heaviest)
‘I was brushing my daughter’s hair and I could see the blonde strands in her hair for the first time.’
After ditching a diet of sugary foods and wine, she is now a healthy eight stone and hits the gym every day at 5am.
By December 2021, Alanna had lost four and a half stone, but she was determined to take things to the next level and train to enter a body building show.
She now looks unrecognisable as she flexes her muscles on stage and shows off her new size 6 physique.
It wasn’t until Alanna came across an online deal for a personal trainer and the generosity of a family member meant she was able to begin her transformation (pictured, before her weight loss began)
The mother-of-two said: ‘The body building look isn’t everyone’s dream figure, but it’s mine.
‘In the gym at school they had a bodybuilding magazine, and I thought the girls in it looked amazing – I wanted to look just like them.
‘So many people tried to put me off as there is a lot to it. Most women struggled to fit in the posing classes, the training, and the diet and these were all single.
‘I’m a mother who runs a business, but I had the motivation.’
‘The posing lessons were the biggest challenge because I had to do them with ten other women who were pros.
Despite her doubts, Alanna’s hard work proved to pay off as she placed in all four categories and won gold in the ‘bikini model’ category at her first body building show in December 2021 (pictured with her family)
‘I had imposter syndrome, I didn’t that I was good enough for a long time.’
Despite her doubts, Alanna’s hard work proved to pay off as she placed in all four categories and won gold in the ‘bikini model’ category at her first body building show in December 2021.
She said: ‘The winning was amazing but I could finally say – wow I got myself here, I look like one of them girls I’ve always dreamed of.’
For confidential support, call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch. See www.samaritans.org for details.
What is post-natal depression
WHAT IS POST-NATAL DEPRESSION?
Postnatal depression is caused by a combination of hormones and the psychological and environmental changes brought by birth. It can persist for weeks, leaving the sufferer with a persistent feeling of tiredness, lethargy, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS?
Mood swings after birth
The emotions experienced by a new mother can be complicated. Postnatal, or postpartum, depression affects about 13 per cent of all new mothers. According to the Institute of Psychiatry in London it also affects around seven per cent of fathers who, while not suffering from the raging hormones of a new mother, can experience feelings of anxiety and panic.
Almost all mothers, regardless of whether they suffer PND, will experience mood fluctuations. Your post-labour exhaustion will compound the confusion you feel on becoming a parent.
Often mothers feel on a high for the first few days after birth, as the excitement of a new baby coupled with all the celebrations and congratulations makes them euphoric. This high is likely to crash after a few days, as the reality of sleepless nights and constant demands sets in.
Many mothers feel a loss of identity, as all attention turns away from them towards the child. You can feel like a mere incubator who has lost an individual personality. Your personality nurtured over decades becomes subservient to one that is only a few days old.
Relations between you and your partner might become strained under the responsibility and the non-stop demands.
HOW CAN YOU TREAT IT?
There are measures that doctors can take in order to accelerate recovery. Talk first to your health worker, GP or doctor.
Your GP might refer you to a counsellor or psychologist. This allows you to talk through your problems and possibly solve them. Trying to build up social contacts, either through your family or through mother and baby groups, can also alleviate your feelings of isolation and anxiety.
Some parts of the UK are covered by a screening programme which aims to identify women who may be showing the first signs of postnatal depression.
Gingerbread (for single parents)