JUST 18 months ago, Annie Lovejoy couldn’t bathe because of the severe pain caused by ME.

Life seemed bleak, but the 52- year-old decided to fight back.

After changing her diet and fighting through the pain barrier at her local gym, Annie, from Westcliff, recently took the stage in a national body building competition.

It’s been a rapid transformation for the mother-of-four, who said the pain she suffered made her feel dead, with no energy and no drive.

She said: “I kept going to the doctors and nothing was working, so I decided I would change my diet.

“The pain was so bad I couldn’t sit in the bath and wash myself. Any movement caused so much pain.

“I started juicing my own vegetables and eating raw fruit and gradually started to get a bit more energy.

“I’m also into energy healing like reiki, so started to do a lot more of that on myself.”

Eventually, Annie said she knew she’d have to incorporate exercise into her new regime and started attending the SAS gym, in Carlton Court, Southend, twice a week.

She met personal trainer Sam Dulake, who helped her in her recovery.

That’s when Annie started to think about body building.

She said: “In March, he showed me a picture of a 50-year old woman who had won a lot of body building competitions and he jokingly said I could do this.

“I started working towards that goal, and in June I saw an advert for a competition. I have no idea why, but I entered it.”

Annie was on stage last month at the Miss Galaxy Universe competition in Crawley.

She didn’t finish in the medal positions, but was proud of her achievements.

She said: “I got on the stage in a bikini and five inch heels. It was the first time I had worn a bikini since my twenties!

“My kids have been very supportive.

It was only two years ago I couldn’t push a small pram around. But now I run about with my grandkids. It’s great.”

The gym is now working with Annie so she can become a personal trainer. She added: “The gym has been such a massive help.

“I’ve got my health back and career prospects, something I never thought would happen.

I’ve got my life back and I’m buzzing!”