Everyone has problems to overcome, and their own methods of doing so. For Laura Ellingson, a  2001 Montevideo High School graduate, an extreme method was the right fit.

Everyone has problems to overcome, and their own methods of doing so. For Laura Ellingson, a  2001 Montevideo High School graduate, an extreme method was the right fit.

In 2009, Ellingson was in the Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, being treated for bulemia and anorexia. Her father, Douglas Ellingson, died when she was 16. “It kind of stems from that,”?Ellingson said. “It was very hard because he had cancer for three weeks and died. (Eating disorders are) a very emotional thing. It’s a disease. It is so common and most people don’t really discuss it.”

Ellingson had been into exercise all of her life; the problem was that she would overexercise, in combination with un-healthy eating habits. It was while she was going through treatment that she decided it was time to turn her love for exercise around into something constructive.

Ellingson decided to become a bodybuilder.

“I was told I would never be able to do bodybuilding,”?she said. “The diet and workout is hard, and harder for someone in my condition, but I didn’t listen to any of that. I decided ‘Hey, I’m going to do this.’”

While running a jewelry business and working toward her master’s in business, Ellingson hit the gym.

“It’s cool because it is good for my personality. I?need to keep busy,”?she said.

Over two years, she slowly started working her way into the bodybuilding lifestyle. With the help of a nutritionist, she found a diet and developed eating habits that were right for her. With the help of a trainer, she learned the ins and outs of proper exercise, and how to improve.

Six months ago, Ellingson started training for the 2012 Minnesota State Bodybuilding Competition and, by that point, she had made real progress.

“I’m in a gym and guys look at me and are like ‘Whoa,’”?Ellingson said. It wasn’t uncommon for her to intimidate men with her progress. “I really had to keep my head on straight, stay humble, and remember why I was doing it.”

To Ellingson, exercising wasn’t about showing off, it was about self-improvement and feeling good.

“I take my gym time very serious. I?put on my headphones and it’s my time with the weights. It helps me think. If I?have any anger or stress I can get that out of me. It has helped so much,”?Ellingson said.

Ellingson gave up drinking, pizza, and all manner of unhealthy habits.

“There is no room for mistake,”?she said.

Her days are filled with workouts.

“When you’re in the thick of it, you are probably in the gym three times a day,”?Ellingson said.

Last weekend, three years of hard work and fortitude paid off when Ellingson took second place in the Bodybuilding Competition’s  Figure Class D for women between 5-4 and 5-6, also qualifying for national competitions.

“I?feel like I?had hit rock bottom and now I’m rock solid,”?Ellingson said.

Her eating disorders are still in the back of her mind, but she feels she has the strength not to give in now.

“I?have to be like ‘No, I don’t need you. This isn’t who I?am. I am staying in the fight against  you.’ Bodybuilding gives me the armor I need,”?Ellingson said.

For those looking to bodybuild, or just to workout and be more healthy, Ellingson has some straightforward advice.

“Knowledge is power. If you want it, you’re going to have to learn it, and live it,”?she said. “There is no shake or pill.”

She encourages people to see a nutritionist and get a proper diet for their body type and their goals, instead of trying the new, big thing.

“I’m a gym girl, I?like going to the gym, but a workout doesn’t have to be rigid. You can get outside and do a sport like golfing or tennis,”?Ellingson said. “But always make sure to set goals and celebrate them. Like me, I set this goal with the competition, and I achieved it, now I’m celebrating it. Next I’ll ask myself what my next goal is.”