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These days, bikini competitor Elisa Pecini represents vibrant health and strength whenever she takes the IFBB Pro League stage. It’s a testament to the battle the 24-year-old phenom fought and won against a debilitating and often deadly disease a few short years ago.
From age 13 to 15, Pecini suffered from anorexia nervosa, starving herself while her body weight fell to dangerous levels. She resisted a first round of treatment that lasted a year—“I did not see how much it made me ill, and I wanted to lose weight once more, so I went against all the instructions of the doctors who helped me,” Pecini admits of her regression. She dropped to 81 pounds at 5’4″.
At 15, it was decided during a weekly doctor’s visit that Pecini should be hospitalized immediately. After a month of intensive in-patient treatment, she finally had an important breakthrough. “I wanted to get back to a healthy weight in a safe, gradual way that wasn’t harmful,” she says.
So Pecini got to work, consistently hitting the gym and developing healthy eating habits. After eight months, she was 123 pounds. Empowered by her transformation, she decided to try her hand at competition. “My debut was March 27, 2015, in Rio de Janiero,” she recalls. “The sensation was incredible, being onstage despite being very shy. My heart was racing. I finished third, and when I got offstage I wanted to do it again.”
She did, winning her pro card at the age of 19 and moving into the pro ranks, where she’s already made major strides, winning the MuscleContest Brazil Pro Bikini and Pittsburgh Pro Bikini titles in 2018, then winning the World Klash Pro Bikini, MuscleContest Brazil Pro Bikini, and Bikini Olympia in 2019.
She’s also sharing her hard-learned lessons from that prep experience, coaching aspiring athletes via her website, isapecini.com, while always keeping her focus on what’s important: her health. “To keep my perspective,” she says, “I try to remember every day the dreams that I’ve conquered and those that I still want to achieve.”
Note: This is just a sample, as Pecini constantly changes up her routines. She’ll hit delts twice per week in two different ways.