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Old 02-25-2008, 10:45 PM   #1
Randy Tarasevich
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Student Athletes and Eating Disorders

Anyone have anything to say about this topic? Any useful insight would be appreciated.
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Old 02-26-2008, 01:00 AM   #2
Jason Borzych
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Re: Student Athletes and Eating Disorders

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Originally Posted by Randy Tarasevich View Post
Anyone have anything to say about this topic? Any useful insight would be appreciated.
I don't know what you are looking for, but I think probably one of the biggest problems that I am familiar with is wrestling. I wish I would have had crossfit and the zone in high school, I probably would have been a lot healthier and it would have made cutting weight a lot easier.

Are eating disorders common is gymnastics?
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Old 02-26-2008, 06:41 AM   #3
Rachel Izzo
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Re: Student Athletes and Eating Disorders

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Originally Posted by Jason Borzych View Post
I don't know what you are looking for, but I think probably one of the biggest problems that I am familiar with is wrestling. I wish I would have had crossfit and the zone in high school, I probably would have been a lot healthier and it would have made cutting weight a lot easier.

Are eating disorders common is gymnastics?
Yes, they are. I can speak from personal experience, as I've had and am still struggling with an eating disorder. The zone has helped me get back on track.

Randy, what exactly do you want to know? I could write a novel ...
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Old 02-26-2008, 06:59 AM   #4
Randy Tarasevich
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Re: Student Athletes and Eating Disorders

The discussion is pretty open at this point, but something along the lines of:

1. Specific disorders
2. Specific sports where the disorders are most prevalent (I figured football and wrestling as I've heard horror stories)
3. What leads to it, The psychology behind it
4. Coaches' reaction (do they promote it or try to help)
5. Long-term affects/implications
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Old 02-26-2008, 07:45 AM   #5
Rachel Izzo
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Re: Student Athletes and Eating Disorders

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Originally Posted by Randy Tarasevich View Post
The discussion is pretty open at this point, but something along the lines of:

1. Specific disorders
2. Specific sports where the disorders are most prevalent (I figured football and wrestling as I've heard horror stories)
3. What leads to it, The psychology behind it
4. Coaches' reaction (do they promote it or try to help)
5. Long-term affects/implications
Disorders are really common in highly overachieving people, especially (but not limited to) girls (I knew 2 people who had bulimia and both were guys). Gymnastics practically breeds eating disorders. I've also known people/stories from crew, cross country, and wrestling. But it can really happen to any girl, not just hard-core athletes. Anyone who is driven to succeed, obsessive, etc ... it can happen.

From what I've heard, coaches can either promote or discourage. I've heard stories of gymnasts having weigh-ins every week, and if they didn't see ribs, they were in trouble. But I think most coaches discourage it. My good friend is a crew coach, and she has dealt with so many women and eating disorders, and she greatly discourages it. For me personally, none of my school sports coaches helped me/recognized it. It was my CF trainer who has helped me, and been there for the support in trying to get me better.

As for the types of disorders. There are the 2 big ones: anorexia and bulimia, which also included exercise bulimia (using exercise as a purging mechanism). But then there are many inbetweens that wouldn't necessarily be classified as an "eating disorder" but fall very closely into that category, or are a combination of a couple of them. For me, I fell more closely into the exercise bulimia/anorexia part, but was never truly there because I never starved myself. It can get pretty complicated to diagnose, because while someone may not [i]look[i] anorexic, etc, they can still be struggling with something much deeper.

Long term effects ... that will come later, as I have to go to school!
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Old 02-26-2008, 12:33 PM   #6
Jason Borzych
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Re: Student Athletes and Eating Disorders

Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Tarasevich View Post
The discussion is pretty open at this point, but something along the lines of:

1. Specific disorders
2. Specific sports where the disorders are most prevalent (I figured football and wrestling as I've heard horror stories)
3. What leads to it, The psychology behind it
4. Coaches' reaction (do they promote it or try to help)
5. Long-term affects/implications
I have not really known of any from football, curious as to what you have heard. As far as coaches reactions to it, I have known very few wrestling coaches (Mostly at the high school level) to highly discourage weight cutting through many dangerous methods. I think a major issue is most of them are not equipped with the knowledge as how do drop weight safely. Also with the structure of wrestling being one person at each weight per team, it makes kids try to go to a much lower weight than they ever wanted just to make a team. The governing bodies of wrestling have been doing a lot to clean this up, but I think the best thing they could ever do is mat side weigh-ins across the whole sport.
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Old 02-26-2008, 01:03 PM   #7
Toby Jurging
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Re: Student Athletes and Eating Disorders

Just my 2cents on the topic:
I am an athletic trainer at a local HS and yes we have to deal with this problem. Gymanstics, X Country, old stand by's ... Wrestling has always had issues with weight loss/cutting, but in OH they are getting better at regulating this issue. For one they have implemented specific gravity testing. Each wrestler is tested for BF% and urinanalysis (hydration levels), once this is completed each wrestler is given a weight that is their absolute minimum for the year and a time table for reaching that level. They can't wrestle at that wt until the specific date and not before. This seems to have put a damper on the crazy large wt losses. A healthier option.

Hope that helps a little.

Toby
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Old 02-26-2008, 01:10 PM   #8
Derek Weaver
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Re: Student Athletes and Eating Disorders

Jason,
I think the problem with eating disorders with football tend to be of the "reverse anorexia" type. Eating massive amounts in order to get heavy/big enough. Never really thought about it being a disorder, but I suppose that if you've got a kid who was say, 260 on the O-Line in high school and all of a sudden is 415 by the time he's a sophomore in college because he can't control his eating and isn't playing anymore that would be a disorder.
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Old 02-26-2008, 01:27 PM   #9
Gant Grimes
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Re: Student Athletes and Eating Disorders

Just just this piece this morning on Robb Wolf's blog:

Article (wfs).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robb Wolf
I hope I made the point that looks/aesthetics matter. Everyone wants to look good but putting looks ahead of performance is frequently the road to ruin. Whether you are a female wanting to be a size-whatever or a guy wanting to “get big” if the goals are purely aesthetic you will tend to fall into neurotic eating behaviors. This does not describe every situation, only about 99.999% of them! A simple google search with the terms “eating disorders by sport” clearly shows that the more AESTHETICS oriented a sport the more likely are eating disorders. Track&Field, basketball, volleyball tend to focus on performance and have a relatively low occurrence of eating disorders relative to dance and gymnastics. Wrestling produces a fair number of eating disorders due to the constant obsession with WEIGHT. Performance is almost forgotten in favor of trying to take as large an athlete as possible, dry him out, then hope you can bring them back to life for the event. In contrast, many jiu-jitsu tournaments require that competitors weigh-in immediately before a match. The scale is actually outside the mat area and you either make weight and you get to wrestle or don’t and you forfeit. I think this is a far more sane approach and it likely decreases the potential for squirrely eating.

In our training practice the folks who are performance oriented feed themselves well. When they know they have 18.973654 pull-ups and they will kill for the 19th we do not have problems with meal skipping or dicey food choices. When people get tired of coming in DFL (dead-****ing-last) they get serious about their food. Then the performance increases and the aesthetics take care of themselves.
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Old 02-26-2008, 02:38 PM   #10
Emily Mattes
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Re: Student Athletes and Eating Disorders

Rachel pretty much covered the basics, and Robb had some really good things to say in that article Gant quoted.

Bulimia, anorexia, binge eating (would be the "reverse anorexia" Derek mentioned). These are all eating disorders. Exercise bulimia, like Rachel mentioned, is a form of bulimia where purging comes in the form of brutal, long workouts in place of laxatives, vomiting, or other diuretics.

If you are targeting eating/image disorders in athletes, it's also worth considering the larger group of body image disorders, especially muscle dysmorphia (the sufferer is convinced his/her muscles are too small).

These disorders are going to be the most prevalent where weight is an issue, though you can find them everywhere. Gymnastics and dance and wrestling are probably the most affected sports. You can find it in running, swimming (due to being self-conscious about being seen in a swimsuit), and probably pretty much everywhere else. Bodybuilding/amateur weightlifting, where aesthetics is all-important, lead to struggles with image disorders.

Honestly, though some sports may create more pressure to be a certain weight or look, the person is not going to develop an eating disorder if they aren't already primed for it. Underlying insecurity issues--whether from abuse, fear of social ostracization, problems at home--and a type-A perfectionist personality fuel the desire to exert some measure of control over one's life. If your parents are always fighting at home, you may find liberation in eating less and less, because here is a part of your life you can control, even if you can't control anything else. Sufferers may see their behaviors as a test of willpower or character. Behaviors may also have (temporary) positive chemical effects on the brain--anorexics report of the euphoria that comes from fasting, and the process of purging can have a relaxing effect, both psychological and physiological, on bulimics.

I don't know anything about general coach reactions. When I was suffering from bulimia in early high school, the one time I saw my old swim coach during that period he said my times weren't improving because I was too damn skinny. However, I don't doubt a coach's attitude towards players gaining and losing weight and proper nutrition can help fuel or dampen the flames. A coach that focuses only on the number on the scale, berates his players for gaining weight, and emphasizes making a weight class, restricting calories, or the "look" of their athlete over the athlete's real-world performance is going to be a lot more harmful to the player over one that focuses on performance gains and improving the contents of the diet.

Oh my God, the long-term effects of eating disorders, you could go on and on. I mean, what are the long-term implications of overtraining to and past injury, steroid abuse, laxative abuse, frequent forced vomiting, rapid weight loss, and starvation? Depending on what the sufferer is engaged in, those are the physical implications for someone engaged in a disorder for a long time. So if someone is overtraining, you're looking at permanent debilitating injuries that could follow them to their grave. Steroid abuse carries serious hormonal and psychiatric changes. Boys grow ****, their balls shrink, girls lose their ****, reproductive function is interrupted, and serious mental health and function problems can develop ('roid rage, for example). Laxative abuse ruins your GI tract. Frequent forced vomiting carries dental problems, can erode the lining of the oral/throat bits of the anatomy, and may make the gag reflex so sensitive that the person can't keep food down even if they want to. Rapid weight loss and starvation (and ensuing malnutrition) is its own encyclopedia entry. Your body is literally eating itself to stay alive. Needless to say, many long-term anorexics develop osteoporosis at a very early age. (Wikipedia is pretty good for all of this, by the way)

Then there are the psychological issues that feed into and worsen with the disorder. Obsessive-compulsive behaviors, depression, hormonal imbalances, etc etc etc.

I am lucky, I suffered from bulimia for less than a year and so escaped the long-term effects of it (well, as far as I know). Recovering psychologically, however, and feeling better about myself and my body took quite a bit longer.
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