In the lead up to PyeongChang 2018 there was a lot of coverage of Gracie Gold’s decision to step out of the limelight, take time for self-care and deal with her eating disorder.
Adam Rippon talked publicly about his own struggles with disordered eating, and of course there’s been coverage of Canada’s Gabriel Daleman too and Japan’s Akiko Suzuki.
In this article by the Huffington Post, Sue Huff, executive director of Eating Disorder Support Network of Alberta points out the similarities between a determined athlete and someone with an eating disorder:
“That really strong focus — that ability to really zero in on a target and go for that gold — that is actually similar in people with eating disorders,” Huff said.
If you have even the slightest suspicion that your eating may be disordered – click here to seek help now!
Every day my computer shows me which pages of my website are most popular with readers that day and it has been quite shocking to see that the most read page on my site over the last few weeks has been my blog about Julia Lipnitskaya and her retirement from skating at the age of just 19 because of chronic anorexia. And if the well-known champions at elite level are suffering in this way, you can be sure it will have an effect on those for whom they have been role models.
Athletes, skaters, need to fuel their bodies to maintain strength and peak condition for the gruelling paces they put their bodies through. That means a balance of nutrients, coupled with enough fuel to sustain the energy required for the sport. But often there is a perception that judges and coaches believe that thinner is better.
Once in the grips of an eating disorder an athlete will have very little chance of reaching their potential or even getting back to their peak. Contrary to the beliefs of an athlete with this illness, their chances of improving in their sport are very low and the eating disorder often puts an end to the sport for them.
This week has been National Eating Disorders Awareness Week in the UK as the national charity calls upon the government to address the long waiting times between diagnosis and the start of treatment. Join their campaign to #SockItToEatingDisorders by taking a selfie in your brightest socks, using the hashtag and posting on social media. Why not make it special for skaters and have your socks showing under your skates in the pic?
I know this is an uncomfortable read. There will be the temptation to hide the blog or keep it away from young people at home. But not talking about it if there is a potential problem can collaborate with the illness and let it gain ground. If you suspect a friend or family member or one of your skaters (if you’re a coach) may have a problem get advice here on how best to approach it.