The story of a beautiful girl, who was obsessed with being skinny! The story of a girl who was overtaken by the demons in her head, constantly screaming at her that she is not beautiful enough, not good enough, not worth enough! The story of a girl who lost controll over her life and just a moment before she gave in to her weak body and tortured mind she grasped her life with her last strength and she never looked back. The story of Sohee Lee. The beautiful girl who found strength through her weakness. The girl who chased her dreams and endured the ups and downs in life without giving up! I had the pleasure to interview Sohee, who is a beautiful person, a smart girl, an outstanding writer and a great coach! Let’s read what she had to share with us!
Ines Subashka: Introduce yourself.
Sohee Lee: My name is Sohee Lee and I’m a 22 year-old training and nutrition consultant, writer, nationally-qualified NPC bikini competitor, and full-time student. I’m currently finishing up my last few months at Stanford University, where I will receive my bachelor’s degree in Human Biology soon. I’m a self-proclaimed fitness buff, and I love me some squats, juicy steaks, and gummy bears.
IS: How did you get involved in fitness? Were you involved in some other sports before that?
SL: I’ve been active my entire life. I started swimming when I was two and have since delved into everything from tap dance, cheerleading, track, cross country, and waterpolo. I started weightlifting in January of 2008 when I picked up a fitness magazine at the local store and realized that – surprise! – I didn’t have to be a professional athlete to look strong, athletic, and sexy. From there, I dove headfirst into all the fitness articles I could get a hold of. It really was love at first sight.
IS: People who know you, are aware of your struggles with eating disorders in your past. How did everything start? Looking back, what was the reason that took you in the lonely world of eating disorders? The mere desire to look better or something hidden deeper inside of you?
SL: I don’t know if I’ll ever fully understand why or how my eating disorder began. I was particularly sensitive to other people’s remarks back then and took everything others said to me to heart. I’d always glamorized those who were skinny and I thought they were infinitely happier than I was. I wanted to know what it felt like; I believed that my life would make a 180-degree turn for the better. The sad thing is that I was at a perfectly weight back then, and my relationship was food was unmarred. Now, having gone through all of that, everyday is a conscientious effort to not let the food rule my life – but I’m happy to report that I’ve been winning this battle for a while now! 🙂
IS: I know it is hard to fight the demons inside, that are screaming you are not worthy enough, not good enough, not beautiful enough. How did you find the strength to fight these demons? What gave you courage and were you alone in this fight?
SL: The strength didn’t come – literally – until I picked up the weights. One minute, I hated exercise and believed that I’d be doomed forever in a never-ending, never-winning battle of trying to eat less and less and hating myself more and more; the next, I was hooked on strength training and eating the right foods with resolve. My journey into fitness taught me that working out didn’t have to suck and that food was not my enemy. The more I educated myself about proper training and nutrition, the more confident I became.
IS: Do you follow a nutrition plan now? Do you think that the way you eat has a positive impact on your health and your thoughts?
SL: I do and I don’t. I have a number of meals that I will eat over and over again; they’ve become staples in my diet. Most of the time, I stick to whole foods (though I do have a wicked sweet tooth). I’m an intermittent faster, so I only eat two or three meals a day in the afternoon, which is great because that means I get to eat more in one sitting. I don’t always count calories, but I generally have a good idea of how much I’m eating on any given day.
The way that I eat has absolutely done so many good things for me. In addition to the physical benefits, the mental clarity has been invaluable. Instead of feeling lethargic, weighed-down, and greasy, I’m always alert and ready to work. Eating the way that I do has allowed me to enjoy food to the fullest without the tiniest shred of guilt, and coming from an eating disordered background, that is priceless.
IS: How do people around you accept your lifestyle? Do they judge your food choices and workouts or do they accept it?
SL: My family has been unconditionally supportive of my lifestyle; they even have chicken, steak, and eggs waiting for me everytime I go back home. I’ve trained my mother a few times (turns out she hates lifting – and that’s perfectly fine) and I’ve been training my father for the better part of three years. While at first I think they had reservations about such a drastic change in lifestyle, once they how positively everything was affecting my life, they were sold. I used moody and snappy all the time, but now I’m energetic, patient, and much easier to be around.
As for my friends, I’ve found myself naturally drifting over to those who share similar interests. Meeting someone who loves fitness just as much as you do serves as a superglue of sorts; you immediately become attached at the hip. I think it has to do with the fact that it’s such a niche hobby and not many other people understand, so when we come across someone who gets it, it’s like a breath of fresh air.