Most inspiring stories have unlikely beginnings. This is true when you look at the running career of Danielle Hastings. This avid runner, also known as The T-Rex Runner, is a distinguished member of the Marathon Maniacs and is completing her goal of running a marathon in all 50 states. “I have finished 34 states and plan on completing all 50 states by June 2022.”
Hard to believe this is the same runner who quit the soccer team on the first day of practice because the coach made her run a lap. The sport has lead Hastings to and through so many places.
Hastings quit the soccer team when she was seven and remained a non-runner until after college. She shamelessly admits she gave running a try after seeing others running down the street and thinking they “looked really cool.” She further admits she got serious about running a few months after she married and it began to fall apart. “It got me out of the house during a rough time,” said Hastings.
The running pretty much won out, and she told us how running serves as her continued outlet for life’s struggles.
“I would say the biggest obstacle that I have (almost) overcome is my 11-year struggle with anorexia and bulimia,” she admitted. Running has helped her deal with the eating disorders that she has battled since age 16. Unlike many, running is not a trigger for the disorder in Hastings’ case.
“Running has been an outlet for my stress and anxiety and has helped me change the way I view food,” something is no longer Hastings’ enemy. She’s continually learning to see food as fuel. Admittedly, she explains it’s still a daily battle, but one she’s winning thanks to running. (more…)
Researchers at Recovery Record have announced the creation of the first mobile app designed to facilitate the management of eating disorders in real time. Patients and doctors connect through a secure app to co-manage care, monitor goals, track progression, and even communicate.
This comprehensive platform, out today and available for iPhone and iPad, is not intended to take the place of in-person therapy sessions, but doctors hope the new technology will appeal to their core patients, the gadget-centric group aged 12-25.
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology, 10 in 100 young women will be diagnosed with an eating disorder this year. Many more will go undiagnosed because of the perceived stigma attached to sufferers and because some are simply too scared to ask for help. Those who battle anorexia nervosa or bulimia have the highest mortality rate of any mental health condition, yet only one in 10 sufferers receive treatment.
These are the shocking statistics that led researchers to create a better way to help patients feel more in control of their recovery, and also to convince those who have been suffering in silence to seek help.
In the new book Almost Anorexic: Is My (or My Loved One’s) Relationship with Food a Problem, Dr. Jennifer Thomas (Director of the Eating Disorders Clinical Research program at Massachusetts General) and best selling author Jenni Schaefer explore a new definition of anorexic behavior, the “almost effect.”
Almost Anorexic is one in a series of books about The Almost Effect, written by faculty members of Harvard Medical School and other experts. This book, and others in the series, suggest that behaviors often fall short of meeting the criteria of receiving a particular diagnosis, but still fall outside of normal behavior. These are the people who often slip through the cracks and whose behaviors often develop into a full-blown condition.
Recently, I spoke with the bubbly co-authors about their collaboration. “When Harvard Health Publications approached me about the book, they encouraged me to work with a writer,” Dr. Thomas explained. “The first person I considered was author Jenni Schaefer. She added a great layer to the book.” Not only has Jenni penned numerous books about eating disorders, she knows about the disease firsthand.
Eating disorders affect people from all walks of life, have varying symptoms, and can be easily disguised by those afflicted. Obsessive exercise, starvation, and laxative abuse are some of the most common behaviors of eating disorder sufferers. The reasons these symptoms are developed are wide ranging, but usually boil down to a lack of self-esteem and pressure to fit some imaginary societal mold.
Even the beautiful, rich, and famous suffer from eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. We’ve compiled a list of celebrities—some surprising, some not so much—who have overcome eating disorders and managed to have a healthy relationship with diet, exercise, and themselves.
If you’ve ever envied the bodies of slender singers and actresses and thought they had the perfect lives to accompany their perfect figures, think again. Yet another star has opened up her private struggle with an eating disorder. On a recent episode of VH1’s “Behind the Music,” former Pussycat Dolls lead singer Nicole Scherzinger revealed her eight-year struggle with bulimia.
The Hawaiian-born star and former X Factor judge revealed that her eating disorder began in 2003 when she felt pressure to slim down for the revealing outfits she and other members of the group had to wear for performances.
“I got my outfit, and my outfit was a bra and some underwear and some garters,” Scherzinger said. “I was sweating in the back room and I was like I can’t go out there. I can’t do this.”
Scherzinger, 34, recalled it was all new to her and she was incredibly scared. In addition, she was not comfortable with her body.
Other members of the Pussycat Dolls took note of her struggles early on and noticed that she didn’t feel comfortable in her own skin. “She didn’t see a perfect figure when she looked in the mirror,” recalled one of the group members. “She said she saw thick thighs and chubby knees and she wanted blonde hair and different lips and a different nose.”
This initial breakdown triggered the start of a full on eating disorder that Scherzinger kept private for nearly a decade. “I guess it was like my addiction, right? I never did drugs, but kinda doing things to myself was my addiction. It’s like when I got offstage, I was on this high, and I’d come back to my room and I’d be alone, so I would just do things,” she said. “My bulimia was my addiction. Hurting myself was my addiction.” (more…)
Katie Couric’s new talk show tackles the serious issue of eating disorders in America with her September 24 episode featuring Demi Lovato.
The star, singer, and host of X Factor tells Couric her personal story of her rise to fame and how, along with it, she developed an eating disorder that almost killed her. Lovato speaks out against our culture’s obsession with thinness and body image by explaining how she defeated her demon before it spiraled out of control. (more…)
Unknown to many, Amanda Beard silently struggled with bulimia and depression for years. The multiple Olympics medal winning swimmer and successful model agonized for years over her physical appearance. Even though everyone else saw a thin beautiful and successful woman, Beard thought of herself as fat, ugly and a failure.
In her college years she had begun cutting herself to deal with the extreme agony she was going through. Along with the cutting, she became bulimic as a way to cope with all the pressure and her low self-esteem. Through the years, no one suspected a thing because on the outside she appeared to be so successful.
She told Today’s Ann Curry, “I felt like an idiot saying I was struggling so much inside because I was an Olympic athlete. I was having a great career. I had my own house. There were all these great things going on in my life, but on the inside, I was hating everything about me.”
Beard began to feel the pressure at a young age. She won her first medal when she was only 14 years old. She said that it was a lot for a teen to take in, that she felt the constant need to look beautiful, thin and perfect. The pressure was magnified when during her second Olympics in Syndney in 2000, the media began saying she had put on weight. (more…)
Katharine McPhee has overcome huge personal challenges on her journey to professional success. Currently getting big attention for her role in the new show Smash, McPhee has found a balanced approach to food and exercise after struggling with a severe eating disorder. The singer and actress suffered from bulimia for many years, culminating in three months of rehab at Los Angeles’s Eating Disorder Center of California.
McPhee tried to address her cycle of binging and purging by a number of different approaches, from therapists to Food Addicts Anonymous. She ultimately found success through intuitive eating, which helped her overcome her fear of “bad” foods and curb her binge eating. Counter-intuitively, once McPhee stopped obsessing over her weight, she was able to drop 30 pounds.
“The more I focused on my weight, the worse my bulimia got,” McPhee said. “Now I’m more easygoing. I stopped fighting myself and became more forgiving of my body. Ironically, the weight came off naturally through exercise but no dieting.” She says she works to avoid a “diet mentality” to prevent relapses.
Tracey Gold is a well known Hollywood name. She’s known for he long time role on the series Growing Pains but she’s almost just as well known for her public battle with anorexia. Gold was one of the first celebrities to go public with her disease in the 90’s and since has been an advocate for educating people about eating disorders. Taking that role to another level, Gold has recently debuted a show on Lifetime titled Starving Secrets with Tracey Gold. In the unscripted series, Gold works one-on-one with women struggling with eating disorders. The show is aimed at helping these women who are in life threatening situations, however, criticism has risen. Many fear that Starving Secrets, and shows like them, may do more harm than good.
In the dark world of eating disorders, like anorexia and bulimia, there seem to be a lot of secrets. The patients who struggle tend to be very reclusive and hidden. They basically have to be, because if the world saw what they were doing, someone might try and stop it. Critics fear that the show will provide more secrets for the afflicted to use, almost as if the show will become a new guide book or manual to further their disease. Professionals fear that while the show truly wants to help, it may inadvertently trigger viewers or even challenge those struggling to get competitive. For example, if the woman on the show is only eating 800 calories a day, the viewer may strive to only eat 500. Eating disorders are tricky and it’s very debatable what will help and what will hurt.
Brooke Randolph, a licensed mental health counselor, shared her thoughts about the show.“I agree with the other experts who are concerned that this may pose more danger than potential good. Those who suffer from eating disorders are often looking for new tactics and ideas to help them lose weight. The road to recovery is long and complicated, and it cannot be fully displayed in a single episode or even season. Ms. Gold likely wants to help others feel less alone in their suffering and make a difference to as many as she can. Unfortunately, like so many endeavors, the best of intentions can actually cause more harm than good.”
It’s hard to realize sometimes that celebrities are regular people just like the rest of us. They struggle with things like weight, exercise and self image. Jane Fonda has been in the spotlight for decades for her long acting career and having produced and starred in over 20 exercise DVDs since 1982. But Jane Fonda recently revealed to Harper’s Bazaar some of the struggles she’s dealt with in the past, like bulimia and poor body image.
Fonda spoke candidly about growing up in the 1950s and how her father influenced her body image. She said, “I was taught by my father that how I looked was all that mattered, frankly. He was a good man, and I was mad for him, but he sent messages to me that fathers should not send: Unless you look perfect, you’re not going to be loved.”
Fonda also talked about her battle with bulimia which went on for decades. “I wasn’t very happy from, I would say, puberty to 50? It took me a long time. It was in my 40s, and if you suffer from bulimia, the older you get, the worse it gets. It takes longer to recover from a bout.” Shortly after Fonda made the choice to end her battle with bulimia, she started producing and starring in her workout videos as a form of empowerment.
Is there someone in your life whom you worry might have an eating disorder? Do you know how to recognize symptoms of an eating disorder? While some symptoms are obvious, some are simply exaggerations of healthy behaviors taken too far.
One obvious symptom of an eating disorder is weight loss or weight fluctuation; however, this does not apply to everyone with an eating disorder. Meghan Bennett, Recovery Care Specialist of Selah House, LLC reminds us that “someone struggling with bulimia or ED NOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified) may not experience much weight loss, may be over weight due to binging and purging, or not lose weight rapidly or drastically. The stereotype is that someone must be severely underweight or losing rapidly to have an eating disorder is misleading. Nearly half of the clients I work with in an inpatient ED facility have to do little to no weight restoration.”