A former fitness model says putting her body in the spotlight made her feel like a piece of meat and admits she was happier after ditching the diet and becoming a mum.
Crystal Andrus Morissette is a victim of decades of yo-yo dieting and weight fluctuating from petite model to more than 100kilos – with the results bearing various degrees of happiness.
Now a happy medium at 70kg and an Aussie size 12, she focuses her life on empowering other women.
Crystal, who now lives in a small town outside Toronto, Canada, compares modeling to years she was a homeless teenager when she would sleep with men for a place to live.
“Men will take care of you, give you a place to sleep,” she old the New York Post.
“You wind up having sex with somebody you don’t want to.”
This is how Crystal lived from age 15 to 18, until she found herself two jobs and an apartment.
She soon became a fitness model and placed seventh in the Miss Galaxy fitness pageant in Florida, which she said made her feel as much like a piece of meat as she did while homeless.
“It was demeaning, disgusting, standing onstage in a bikini and being judged by how I look.”
She married her first husband in 1994 and soon became pregnant with the first of her two daughters.
She replaced obsessive dieting and intense cardio with binge eating everything in sight.
“I went from fitness queen to McDonalds queen," she said.
“I ate cheeseburgers and fries every day. I convinced myself that the iron and protein were healthy.”
She had stacked at least 45 kilos onto her 167cm frame when she stopped weighing herself.
Crystal said she was happier as a mother and wife, without the stress of being thin, than at any time in her life to that point.
“I felt safer. It worked for me for a while.”
But that soon faded when she became uncomfortable and embarrassed about her size and how she would be setting a bad example for her daughters.
She quickly dropped to 55 kilos, had an affair and divorced her husband.
After much soul searching, Crystal, now 45, devotes her life to empowering women to take control of their lives through public speaking and as founder of the Simply Woman Accredited Trainer (SWAT) Institute, offering women online courses.
Her five books include last year’s The Emotional Edge: Discover Your Inner Age, Ignite Your Hidden Strengths, and Reroute Misdirected Fear to Live Your Fullest.
In 2008, Crystal married the man she calls “the love of my life,” Aaron Morissette, 41, the chief financial officer of her empowerment ventures.
Last month controversial Biggest Loser trainer Michelle Bridges made headlines for saying she's never met someone who is morbidly obese and happy, which caused many overweight women to insist they have never been happier.
Prison Break TV heartthrob Wentworth Miller recently fought back at online abuse when photos surfaced of him looking heftier than his fit structure in his television heyday, opening up about his battles with depression and finding mental comfort being heavier.