Facing Reality by Virginia Molinaro

Virginia Molinaro Angel Competition Bikinis Anorexia Blog

Click HERE to shop a replica of Virginia's Suit.

I developed an eating disorder my senior year of high school. At the time I was a professional high fashion runway model and actress, commuting to and from NYC for auditions when I wasn't skipping school to get high. I was in an abusive relationship with an older man during this time and my self-worth was non existent. I hit puberty really late and when I began developing into a woman my agents weren't thrilled with my measurements changing...neither were my parents or my abusive bf.

After my mother forced me to step on a scale and “face reality” It was all down hill from there. I saw that number (a perfectly healthy number) and instantly associated it with being fat, not good enough, and unlovable. I began taking spin classes and counting calories...then taking diet pills and laxatives...then jumping further down the rabbit hole of drug abuse and addiction. I've struggled with the entire spectrum of ED behaviors from binge eating, overexercising, restricting, purging, orthorexia, you name it! (I am also a recovered drug addict, have been to detox and rehab as well)

Virginia Molinaro Angel Competition Bikinis Anorexia Blog

Over time my ED progressed into full blown anorexia and a cycle of landing myself in the hospital, being force fed only to relapse again, and repeat. 4 years ago at my rock bottom I landed myself in the cardiac unit with Atrial Fibrillation, bradycardia with a heart rate of 29bpm, and almost had a stroke. The doctors told me I had maybe 2 weeks to live if left to my own devices. To this day I still have neuropathy in my left arm from this experience.

At this point in my life I was ready to die and had given up. The pain of living was unbearable and I hated myself more than anyone or anything could hate me. My family and the hospital issued a court order stating I was a danger to myself and I was forced into hospital treatment again which ultimately saved my life. I went kicking and screaming and ended up getting kicked out of treatment prematurely for frequent outbursts and aggression towards the staff.



Once left to my own devices again I quickly began spiraling out of control and my body was giving up. After a few scares of nearly dodging a hypoglycemic coma I had to make the choice if I was going to give up and die, or fight for my life. I made the decision with the help of my boyfriend at the time, to go to Oliver Pyatt Center in Miami and I finally began healing from the inside out. Once I addressed my borderline personality disorder, PTSD, addictions, and traumas, the fear of food began to fade and I wasn't afraid of who I am anymore. It took me another year out of treatment to finally say I was 100% recovered after 8 long years of suffering.


Virginia Molinaro Angel Competition Bikinis Anorexia Blog

I never could have anticipated just how ravaged my body had become from years of starving myself. I was left with ZERO functional strength, which I quickly discovered after throwing out my back after an attempt to do crunches at the age of 24. I went to physical therapy and after the doctor compared my muscle atrophy to his 90 yr old patient I knew I needed to take my health and fitness more seriously. I was devastated by this news and promptly hired a personal trainer who taught me how to use the TRX and perform basic bodyweight exercises which dramatically improved my quality of life.

Virginia Molinaro Angel Pro Multi Color Twilight Mix on Hologram Purple

Click HERE to shop a replica of Virginia's Suit.

A year later I got into bodybuilding after my husband, Derek, introduced me to lifting weights. Up until this point I was a cardio bunny (I didn't know any better) so the feeling of getting stronger after being fragile for so long was empowering and exciting! For the last 4 years I had spent struggling with anorexia, I was so sick I couldn't drive, could barely walk, bathe myself, or go to the bathroom on my own...so feeling strong and capable was a high unmatched that no drug could ever compare.


I set out the goal to compete in a bikini competition after feeling stuck with my progress and needed a challenge. I just wanted to try it, to see if I could do it and if I liked it. I'm very competitive and was a ballerina for 10 years prior to being a model/actress, so getting up on stage just felt right! At my first show I ended up qualifying for nationals and I fell in love with the sport. So far I have placed 2nd in 2 regional shows and 8th place at North Americans, 3 shows in 1 year! I'm taking the next year off to grow, as my feedback was to put on more size. Being a tall athlete, standing at 5'11”, it just takes more time to fill out...not to mention I started with ZERO muscular foundation just 2 years ago.

Virginia Molinaro Angel Competition Bikinis Anorexia Blog

Click HERE to shop a replica of Virginia's Suit.

I get a lot of questions and concern from people about my recovery journey and how it impacts my relationship with bodybuilding and vice versa. They're valid concerns! I would never recommend anyone currently struggling with disordered eating or body dysmorphia attempt to prep for a show. If you aren't starting contest prep from a place of self love, and you're wanting to “fix” something, than you're in this sport for the wrong reasons. I personally love every stage of the process from totally bulked out and hitting PR's in the gym to getting lean for stage. I practice a flexible dieting approach under the guidance of my coach, Stephen Beaugrand with Team Pro Physique. My relationship with food is extremely important to me and the idea of “good and bad foods” is detrimental to my mental health, so allowing myself freedom with food is of utmost importance. During the improvement season I prefer to eat intuitively (after a few months of reverse dieting) as that's what I learned to do in treatment and that works best for me for not just my physique goals, but mental health goals as well.

Victoria Molinaro Angel Competition Bikinis Angel Pro Multi Color Twilight Mix

Click HERE to shop a replica of Virginia's Suit.

Even if you don't have a history of eating disordered behavior, you need to constantly check in with yourself and be aware that eating disorders don't happen overnight. It's a gradual progression, and if you feel like something isn't right with your relationship with your body and food...don't ignore it and don't be afraid to ask for help. You don't need to be emaciated and hospitalized to have a serious mental illness that deserves professional care. I personally check in with myself daily and have the internal dialogue of “am I taking steps towards a healthy life? Or is this self destructive?”. Heed peoples concerns with a grain of salt, while they don't know the rigors of this sport and it may seem extreme and concerning to them, they may notice something that you're ignoring. And if enough people voice the same concern it's worth looking into. Worst case scenario you either have a problem or you don't, but avoidance is a problem and can lead you down the rabbit hole.

Follow Virginia:

Instagram: @virginia_lemarr

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