A yo-yo dieter went from consuming a raw vegan diet to becoming a carnivorous bodybuilder noticed that the switching between extreme diets lets her body suffering.
Holistic health and life coach Julianne Vaccaro, 27, from New York, found herself immersed in fad diets from a young age after enrolling in a fashion school, but hindsight has shown her the damage all those years have done to her body.
After years of punishing her body first through being vegan, phases of purging and trying her hand at bodybuilding, Julianne has now reached a point where she understands the importance of taking care of her body through intuitive nutrition.
Wow! Julianne Vaccaro, pictured left while bodybuilding and right after giving up extreme diets, found herself immersed in fad food regimens from a young age
Changes: The 27-year-old New Yorker, who is pictured recently, began eating a raw vegan diet to become ‘small’ when she enrolled in a fashion college and compared herself to models
Damage: The New York-native maintained a raw vegan diet for three years beginning in 2012, but soon began realizing the affects the diet was having on her body
In 2012, Julianne became vegan and sustained that for the following three years, even maintaining a fully raw vegan diet.
Having already tried the Atkins and the paleo diet, Julianne found a real passion in veganism as she loved reconnecting with natural flavors.
Despite this, Julianne was undernourished because although she was eating healthy foods, they were not right for her body and she began losing her hair, blacking out and struggling to stand up.
Unhealthy: Julianne was undernourished because, despite eating healthy food, she wasn’t eating the right food for her body
Before long, Julianne began gaining her weight back after seeing muscular people with figures at the opposite end of the spectrum to hers, which introduced her to bodybuilding, before taking part in five competitions.
Julianne gained over two stone, going from around 52 kilos (8st 2lbs) while vegan to weighing 66 kilos (10st 5lbs) as a bikini competitor, but she wasn’t happy inside.
Julianne was aware of how all the restricted dieting was impacting her body and it was time to let herself heal rather than pushing her body to the extreme.
She said: ‘I started out with all the fad diets like Atkins, vegetarian, vegan, raw vegan and paleo.
‘I was extremely restrictive and always followed some kind of tracking method. I was vegan for three years and it was revolutionary. It really showed me the power of plants.
‘I originally went to school for fashion and I wanted to look like the models – skinny with bones protruding. But I have an athletic build, so I had to develop disordered eating. That’s what first made me go vegan, wanting to be small.
‘We tend to make things so complicated and because of our food supply and the way we’ve been trained to crave sugar and salty foods, we’ve truly been stripped of the amazing natural flavors from fruit and vegetables.
Frightening: Julianne began experiencing blackouts, losing hair and struggling to stand up as a result of not eating the correct foods her body required
Change: In order to improve her health, Julianne (pictured recently), who describes herself as ‘a carnivore at heart’, introduced meat back into her diet
Lifestyle: When she was 22-years-old, Julianne discovered bodybuilding when she noticed other people at her local gym who were more muscular than her
Comparison: Julianne (pictured left while eating a raw vegan diet, and right as a body builder) quickly got into the swing of training as a bodybuilder
‘Being vegan helped me reconnect with mother Earth and find fulfillment in simplicity.
‘Although I was raw vegan and healthy, I wasn’t eating right according to my body type. I’m definitely a carnivore at heart, so I began to add meat back into my diet and then I discovered bodybuilding when I was 22.
‘When I found it, I was laser focused on it. I knew I wanted that body and level of discipline, no matter what.
Extreme: Julianne revealed that she began over training her body and implemented strict diet-related rules for herself
‘I had my eyes set on the prize, but it came from a place of insecurity. I was chasing the specific body because I felt inadequate,’ she added.
Julianne, who now documents her fitness journey on Instagram, explained that once she started the new lifestyle, she didn’t stop.
She began getting strict with herself and started to over train from an early stage.
Julianne said: ‘On the outside I looked great and I felt good. But I only felt good when I looked good. As soon as any of it changed, my happiness would sink.
‘I felt out of control, but I also felt a sense of pride that I was able to restrict and control my eating. It was only because I looked good and because I tied so much of my worthiness to that.
‘As I continued to stay in the game longer I started to feel extremely deprived and it got worse. In my prep phases, I would have cheat meals which became more frequent when I would binge, and then I would purge it all out.
‘I would go to the supermarket ‘just to see’ what food I wanted to buy after my competition. Problem was that I’d buy the food and convince myself that I’d stash it away until after the competition.
‘I left the shop with peanut butter and a packet of Oreos and ended up eating both before getting out of my car. That was the moment I decided enough was enough.
Insecure: The fitness enthusiast (pictured left as a bodybuilder and right in a recent photo) revealed that she would binge eat in the lead up to bodybuilding competitions
Journey: After admitting that she ‘got lost’ in the extreme diet and art of bodybuilding, Julianne was left feeling unhappy with herself, and decided to quit the extreme lifestyle
Positive: The 27-year-old, who now works as a holistic health and lifestyle coach, now lives a more balanced and healthy lifestyle, training five days a week and resting for the other two
‘I knew then that I had to stop competing because it’s so extreme. I got lost in the extremity of dieting and prepping and I lost my sense of normality. I was gaining weight and bingeing what I ate, and I felt unhappy with the combination.
Happy: Julianne said she is grateful for the experiences she had with the extreme diets and fitness routines, as she said she learned a lot about herself and the human body
‘I did one bikini fitness show and I knew I was done because I couldn’t make sense of the sacrifices I was making. None of it was healthy anymore and none of it felt good to me.’
After putting her body through so many extreme diets and exercise regimes, Julianne wanted to allow her body to heal and nurture it.
Now, Julianne weight trains up to five days a week with at least two rest days a week, and she eats intuitively rather than restricting herself of whole food groups.
‘I wanted to be able to live again and I wanted freedom and to be in control of my own body,’ she said.
‘I’m grateful for the knowledge and experience because I learned a lot about myself, the human body and extreme dieting.
‘I tell others to give themselves compassion and work on their self-worth. You are worthy and once you start recognizing that you can pour so much love into your journey rather than hate.
‘I’ve taken everything I’ve learned over the last six years and put it into my program called Balanced Body Method. It takes you from food fear to freedom, and from body obsession to body confidence.
‘If I had a program like BBM in my life back then, it would have saved me a lot of heartache and shame. It would have given me so much clarity and purpose.’