eating disorders in gymnastics

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jes.the.gymnast

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sadly we all hear cases of eating disorders conected with gym, for example Christy Henrich. i just wanted to get people veiws on wether you think it is a big problem or not. i myself was a state/natinol gymnast and saw eating disorders in very small amounts, skipping meals here and there or eating less but nuthing major.
yeah as i said i would love to get you veiws
 
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Aussie_coach

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I have to say, you do hear a lot about eating disorders in gymnastics in the media but I have found it very rare to come across. Most gymnasts are not skinny but very muscular and strong.
 

Laura

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Have you seen the article about Chloe Sims?? It makes me so sad to read it. I have not seen the full article but these are some quotes that are floating around:

Battling an eating disorder and mental fatigue, [Sims] chose personal happiness over the ultimate prize of a shot at winning gold. It was the most difficult decision of her life, but for Sims it was the only way she could overcome her inner demons. “I was mentally unhealthy. I had a lot of problems. I had an eating disorder and I was under a lot of pressure,” she said. “Every morning I woke up and didn’t want to go to training. It felt like I was wasting my time and other people’s doing something I didn’t want to do.”

“It wasn’t gymnastics that go to me; it was the pressure [...] It was hard knowing that I wouldn’t be able to experience the Olympics, but I don’t regret my decision. I already feel healthier. I guess you could say I’m at peace with myself”...



“I still love gymnastics but I had to stop competing and training at that top level for my own well being. I’m so grateful for the amazing memories the sport has given me. Winning gold at the Commonwealth Games was really special but the best moment was when I got my first Australian tracksuit and leotard. The tracksuit was hideous, but wearing the green and gold had always been a dream of mine and earning that first tracksuit was the pinnacle of my career. The rest was a wonderful bonus.”



Since severing ties with the inner-circle of the Australian gymnastic squad, Sims said she has experienced feelings of social alienation.“It’s hard not to go to the gym every day and see all my beautiful friends. We were very close but it’s hard to maintain that bond outside the sport,” she said. “My parents and my brother and sister are very supportive and have been incredible through all this.”

“I have entered a new stage of my life. Now I can do whatever I want. I don’t have to look a certain way. I can be who I want to be”.
 

catesmom

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Nov 9, 2007
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It seems like these problems so often come from the coaching staff, I have never seen a problem at our gym. In fact my daughters coach is always telling her to eat. She is on the trim side and if she doesn't feel well, or isn't eating, it becomes obvious quickly. Our gym has level 10's of all body types, and it seems from my observation not being there yet, that they make the routines to best show the skills of the girls based on what looks best for the individual gymnast. A larger more muscular gymnast will have a very different routine than that of a smaller more dainty one.:)
 

Geoffrey Taucer

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I think that generally when an athlete has an eating disorder, it's the fault of either the coaches or the parents.

Fortunately, though it does happen, I don't think it's at all common.
 

gymgymgymnast08

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At my gym we have gymnasts of all different body types. Some are the typical gymnast build. some are not. Some are built more like dancers. But we all find a way to make them work
 

kristilyn73

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I have not seen any evidence of eating disorders in my DD's gym. One of my DD's coaches is a former National Team and DIV I gymnast. I think she has a good eye on what the girls are doing.

Also, like a previous poster, the only time I have heard someone say something is when they want a girl to eat more. My DD has had a tendancy to not eat when she is sick and then loses weight. Her coach will tell her to not practice. They know if you dont eat, you dont have the energy to do the skills and you can get hurt.
 

mygirlflipz

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Apr 11, 2008
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I recently went to a seminar conducted by an eating disorder specialist. She talked about girls that are at a higher risk of developing an eating disorder and gymnasts were pretty high on the list (along with swimmers and runners). She said the real risk comes when these athletes are training at an elite level.

My dd's gym weighs the girls twice a day at practice. I was really worried about this in the beginning, but it has really been okay. I think there may be weight requirements for some girls, but my dd does not have one and they really seem to accept the fact that she has a more muscular buid than most of her peers here. Even with the increased focus on weight, I have not seen any girls in her gym that appear to have eating disorders. They are all healthy and in the correct proportion for their height (as far as I can tell).

There is a lot of hype about eating disorders in gymnasts in the media and I am sure it happens, but I have to agree with earlier posts when I say that I tend to think it is less common than most people think.
 

Livinatthegym

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The thing about girls with eating disorders is that they're pretty good at hiding them. So, "not at my gym!" -- I wouldn't be so sure. There's a lot of pressure to be smaller and lighter. It may not even be coming from the coaches. Girls just look around and see who's winning and putting up the biggest scores.
 
K

KBT

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I suspect it's more prevalent than many people think. Eating disorders come in all forms, and they can be hard to detect. Someone losing a lot of weight and never eating is easier to identify, but what about people who maybe restrict a bit so they still have the appearance of eating? What about those who run five miles after practice to lose weight? What about those who won't eat certain foods or who will only eat certain combinations of foods? I suspect there are many gymnasts who exhibit disordered eating but the signs are so subtle that they can hide it well. These behaviors will stay with them long after leaving the sport which also makes it hard to track. And what about those who develop eating disorders after leaving the sport when they are no longer working out 10-20 hours a week?
 

gymdog

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To some extent I would agree with that. This is one of the things I am tending to learn about after the fact at this point, as the girls I did gymnastics with get older. On the other hand, while I hadn't really seen some things coming, in retrospect the pieces would fit to some extent. But it's hard to tell. I've heard a lot of girls say some variation of "I can't quit gymnastics because I don't want to get fat," but not all of them developed eating disorders. Some were joking, but for people who are really struggling with that idea, they don't necessarily pick up on it as a joke and it becomes another tidbit to fuel the obsession.

I don't think it's necessarily the coach or parent's fault either. While coaches and parents can definitely accelerate concerns in a vulnerable time and should be careful, in my experience there's no blueprint for what you have to do to prevent an eating disorder, like if you just do the right things, your kids won't be affected. You could do all the right things and they can find the triggers elsewhere...from a friend at school who is restricting food, from pro-ana websites, even from the compliments they get about being thin. I think part of the problem with eating disorders is first, how often people throw around the label "anorexia" when it's not really the case, until it almost becomes some kind of joke, and second, that there's kind of a viewpoint that it takes a lot for someone to get to the point of an eating disorder. And I don't think that's true. It's not always one thing that sets it off...it can be a lot of little things that someone who isn't trapped in thoughts about body images doesn't pick up on.
 

mygirlflipz

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Apr 11, 2008
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One thing that I think is very important is COMMUNICATION. An earlier post mentioned the fact the girls can be pretty good at hiding it if they have a problem and I think that is very true. I was very concerned about the fact the my dd was not used to being weighed and talking about her weight everyday at the gym. I was worried about how she would react and wondered if hearing her two weights everyday was going to cause problems for her, especially since Japanese gymnasts/people tend to be thinner and smaller. The psychologist that I spoke with told me that we should be fine as long as she keeps talking to me about it everyday (her weight is proudly embedded in her daily report of what she did at the gym that day). She said that I should worry if she ever stops telling me what is going on with her weight.

It is a scary thing to think about, but as parents and coaches we just have to hope they know we are here and can help.
 
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jes.the.gymnast

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i agree alot with KTB
i had small eating problems when i was doing gym and they have followed me to now. i was more worried about looking good then weighing in for gym but that was an added pressure. i still try to stay in the same weight range i had when i was doing gym which is hard cause i do little sport now.
it all adds up and leeds to problems if you ask me
 
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margymmom

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I agree that this may be more prevalent than we know. Secrecy is core feature of EDs and girls with EDs are pros at hiding information. Also, it is entirely possible to have an eating disorder and to be of average weight or even overweight (esp. in the case of bulimia). To make things worse, the personality characteristics of great gymnasts often overlap with those commonly found among eating disordered girls (perfectionistic, type A, highly controlled). Anything that draws excessive attention to weight can by risky, and I would be very concerned about weighing girls daily (or even weekly). I think the sport does create an atmosphere were EDs can thrive, but there must be a predisposition or other factors that come together to lead a girl to an eating disorder.
 
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