I was 19 when I first went to the gym with my 21-year brother, Alex. It was Forest Gym in Crawley, an old school body builder’s place. Just walking inside was pretty intimidating.

“My brother played rugby and was pretty strong, which didn’t help much. I didn’t even want to go, but he needed a spotter, someone to help him with the weights. I didn’t plan on working out either, but he encouraged me.”

That is how Callum Barney remembers the start of his problems as he quickly became addicted to the idea of creating a slimmer body, with terrible results.

He said: “Within three weeks of joining Forest I started cutting out food.

“Before long I was living on six egg whites for breakfast, a can of tuna for a lunch and more egg whites for dinner and running five miles twice a day.

“I was at university at the time and managed to keep what I was doing pretty well hidden.

“I’m not sure when the bulimia started or when I first made myself sick. It got to the point when I didn’t even need to put my fingers down my throat. I don’t remember how it got to that point but I remember the last time. It was my breaking point and I finally got help.

“Now I’m recovered and healthy, but I believe in the power of honesty.

“I’m very open about how I started my fitness journey as a bulimic. I broke myself, starved and tortured my body. I dropped a massive amount of weight and you know what? I was praised.

“The online fitness community saw a fat kid get skinny. As a man, there was no expectation or suggestion that what people were seeing was someone struggling with an eating disorder.

“My most liked picture to date on Instagram was a progress picture of my tattered state. I’d lost a startling amount of weight and I couldn’t walk down the road, but hey – I had abs.

“No one wondered how I’d dropped so much weight so quick, no one asked me. If they had, maybe I wouldn’t have got so out of control.

“Part of me despises a lot of the fitness world for what it celebrates and rewards. I hope that photo didn’t inspire people, and now I use it to show how devastating a mental illness can be.

“It was a long road back to health, but I made it, taking my body from broken to British power lifter.”

Callum’s life is completely different now. He trains five times a week for about an hour and a half but eats whatever he likes.

He still tracks what he eats but says he knows he needs to eat more, not less, to be strong.

Meeting a girl changed his life. She was a big “foodie” and she rewired the way he thought about what he consumed.

He said: “I remember she wanted to order a takeaway pizza. I hadn’t eaten pizza in about four years. I remember feeling shocked at how it was such a norm for her and such a weird concept for me.”

Soon he was reintroducing foods he had banned for years and said it felt “amazing” to eat without guilt and not worry about calories and carbs.

He said: “Although my past is a big part of how I came to be a champion, I’m more interested in where I am now, not who I was back then.

“Now I’m athlete, an international power lifter, and a national strength coach.

“There’s so much pressure on boys/men to look a certain way and it doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon.

“I’ve learned to go about it a healthy way and am dedicated to spreading that message.

“Men don’t have to be big to be strong. I am 5ft 7in and weigh 74 kilograms. I squat 220 kilograms, bench 155 kilograms and deadlift 270 kilograms.

“I do it by eating well and lifting well. I work on movements that make me stronger, not that make me look good on Instagram. That said I’m proud of my body, what it can do, and what I look like now.”

His next competition is the British Nationals in July but at the moment he is concentrating on his clients.

He coaches 15 people online and face to face. Some are British record holders, some are world champion power lifters.

Some are just regular people trying to be stronger and healthier.

Callum said: “I went off to do a Tedex Youth talk in Geneva about my story.

“I was honoured to be asked and hope my story inspires kids and helps anyone struggling with body issues to get help.”