Canberra woman Rachael Norton has turned her life around thanks to Tammy Hembrow. Picture: Supplied.
Canberra woman Rachael Norton has turned her life around thanks to Tammy Hembrow. Picture: Supplied.

‘Horrible’ reason teen couldn’t sleep

FEW people can say Instagram really changed their life, but Rachael Norton stumbling across Tammy Hembrow's page in 2016 was a turning point.

At the time, the-then 17-year-old was in hospital as she battled anorexia, weighing at her lowest, a worrying 46kg.

"I clicked on her page and I thought, 'Wow, she looks amazing, how does she even look like this?'" Rachael told news.com.au.

Today, the 22-year-old's life is transformed, with the happy and healthy Canberra woman crediting it in part to the Gold Coast influencer's exercise plans.

Rachael's eating disorder had been triggered by a family holiday to Thailand in 2014, where she restricted what she ate because she was afraid of food poisoning.

"I think it spiralled from there because I had this thing in my head if I got food poisoning it was going to ruin the whole holiday," she said.

Rachael’s restrictive eating began after a family holiday to Thailand. Picture: Supplied
Rachael’s restrictive eating began after a family holiday to Thailand. Picture: Supplied

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After losing weight on the trip, the competitive dancer continued to restrict what she ate at home.

"Something switched in my head where I was like, 'Oh, it's so easy to lose weight, just keep going', and then that was the beginning," Rachael said.

Soon Rachael's restrictive eating escalaeted and she began exercising in "secret" too.

"The night before I went to sleep I had to plan out my food intake for the next day," she said.

"I was just insane. Looking back now, I spent so much time fixated on my calorie counting app that I couldn't even go to sleep the night before without planning everything that I was putting into my mouth."

Soon she was eating just 1000 calories a day. Picture: Supplied
Soon she was eating just 1000 calories a day. Picture: Supplied

Rachael said during the "horrible" time she continued to put on a facade that she was "so happy" when deep down she was struggling.

"It was really just a mask on that I was putting on to look happy," she said. "But deep down I was miserable because your mind never stops thinking about food and calories and weight."

Her family had no idea her strict eating regimen was actually anorexia until her concerned parents took her to a dietitian nearly a year later.

"They didn't think that it was mental health related, they thought it was thyroid or something was playing up," Rachael said.

"That's when she actually recognised the signs and was like this is bigger than what everyone thinks it is, and then the diagnosis came from that."

From there, it took two more hospital stays at Westmead's Children Hospital for Rachael to begin her road to recovery.

After spotting Tammy's Instagram page, the teen asked if she would be allowed to start following the Instagram star's fitness plans.

Rachael credits Tammy's fitness app with helping overhaul her life. Picture: Instagram
Rachael credits Tammy's fitness app with helping overhaul her life. Picture: Instagram

While her loved ones were concerned her exercising could make Rachael's eating disorder worse, instead she flourished.

"It was a big trust thing. Doctors, my parents, therapists, they all advised me no, you can't go to the gym, you're just going to do cardio, you're just going to ruin all of the progress you made in hospital," she said.

"It was a big thing for me to be able to prove to people that I could go to the gym and not lose weight like everyone thought I was going to.

"The best thing about her programs is that it's mainly weight based, so proving to everyone that I could do it was amazing."

 

 

Today Rachael exercises five times a week using the Tammy Fit app, which has more than 700,000 subscribers around the world.

Today Rachael works out five times a week using the Tammy Fit app. Picture: Supplied
Today Rachael works out five times a week using the Tammy Fit app. Picture: Supplied

Tammy started the app in 2018, and it includes both at-home and gym workouts, live exercise sessions as well as meal plans.

For Tammy Hembrow herself, Rachael's story of recovery is one of many success stories she hears daily.

"We try to let people know it's not just all about being skinny or losing weight, that we want you to feel confident and strong in your own skin, and that means something different to so many people," Tammy told news.com.au.

"The amount of emails that we get from people …. just reading them and seeing the affect that the app has had on their lives and to be able to help guide them to a more healthy lifestyle."

Rachael went into recovery from anorexia in 2016. Today the positive reinforcement about her healthy 63kg frame helps combat the negative thoughts she still sometimes has about her body.

She credits exercise with improving her mental health. Picture: Supplied
She credits exercise with improving her mental health. Picture: Supplied

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"I think that the compliments overtake the thoughts in my head because if other people can see how I am looking, why can't I see it myself?" she said.

"So, if I am having a bad day, I think about all the lovely things people say and it just motivates me even more to go to the gym and use Tammy's app."

She also credits exercise, along with therapy, with helping her mental health after a suicide attempt in 2017.

"I could be having a really low day but I'll just be like, 'OK, I'll go sweat it out'," Rachael said. "Just getting the endorphins going, it just takes your mind off things, so I think working out definitely helps."

 

 

Rachael was far from the happy teen she portrayed on the outside. Picture: Supplied
Rachael was far from the happy teen she portrayed on the outside. Picture: Supplied
As well as helping her eating disorder recovery. Picture: Supplied
As well as helping her eating disorder recovery. Picture: Supplied


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