Eating disorders have always been my passion. They have been my specialty since I began my LCSW private practice more than a decade ago. Over the years, I’ve directed a program for eating disorders, created the eating disorder curriculum for NYU’s Graduate School of Social Work, and have done a few other things. Yet, I have not found a way to connect my love of healthy fitness and honoring one’s body with my passion for helping those struggling with eating disorders.
The issue of eating disorders within fitness centers is a ubiquitous one. I’ve seen people spending hours on the treadmill, heard countless patients recounting their obsessiveness with the gym, and others seeming as though their self-esteem became immediately deflated if they couldn’t work out hard enough, fast enough or long enough. The research I have done has revealed that the presence of eating disorders within fitness centers is “sticky” and “complicated” and gets very little attention. Through no fault of anyone in particular, if people aren’t given the education and tools, then how can anyone feel knowledgable and confident enough to address this sensitive issue?
I went directly to fitness professionals to see what they thought about eating disorders within the fitness industry. As I suspected, it was clear that there was not a lack of interest in this issue. Quite the contrary. Most, if not all, of those with whom I spoke were eager and excited to finally have a forum in which they could learn about eating disorders and how to approach the issue. That’s when DESTRUCTIVELY FIT®: demystifying eating disorders for fitness professionals® was born. I created this 3-hour training with the goal of educating those within the fitness industry about what eating disorders are and what to do if they notice that someone may be struggling. It has since been endorsed for continuing education by both the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and The American Council on Exercise (ACE) and has sparked the interest of variety of fitness clubs. Destructively Fit™ was also recently featured on RateYourBurn. Check out their blog for the interview!
Some stats for you…
• 25 million American women are struggling with eating disorders
• 7 million American men are struggling with eating disorders
• 81% of 10 year old girls are afraid of being fat
• 51% of 9-10 year old girls feel better about themselves when they are dieting
• 45% of boys are unhappy with their bodies
• 67% of women 15-64 withdraw from life-engaging activities, like giving an opinion and going to the doctor, because they feel badly about their looks
• An estimated 90-95% of college students diagnosed with eating disorders are members of fitness centers