Dangerous Games: Eating Disorders | Golden Skate

Dangerous Games: Eating Disorders

el henry

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Kirsten Moore Towers gives an interview as part of this series from the Toronto Globe and Mail


While skaters around her talked openly about wanting to be thinner, it was her coach at the time who encouraged her into a disorder. After weighing Moore-Towers at the rink one day, he told her exactly what to do if she was serious about losing weight.
She remembers the first time she stuck a finger down her throat, as he had suggested. “It just felt like the easy way out,” she said.


So very troubling.😢 Thanks to Kirsten and the other athletes for speaking out.
 

lariko

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Kirsten Moore Towers gives an interview as part of this series from the Toronto Globe and Mail


While skaters around her talked openly about wanting to be thinner, it was her coach at the time who encouraged her into a disorder. After weighing Moore-Towers at the rink one day, he told her exactly what to do if she was serious about losing weight.
She remembers the first time she stuck a finger down her throat, as he had suggested. “It just felt like the easy way out,” she said.


So very troubling.😢 Thanks to Kirsten and the other athletes for speaking out.
Yeah, this sucks. Controlling food intake is ridiculously hard for anyone, but for athletes it would be just torturous. That’s why I am all for shorter careers/finishing sport earlier when controlling body comp is more natural.
 

MiraiFan

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Wow--what a sobering and well written piece. It's such a pervasive problem in so many sports and the case of Christine Nesbitt was interesting--she refused to cut her food intake and absolutely killed it at the Olympics--because her body was strong and getting the fuel it needed...
 

el henry

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Wow--what a sobering and well written piece. It's such a pervasive problem in so many sports and the case of Christine Nesbitt was interesting--she refused to cut her food intake and absolutely killed it at the Olympics--because her body was strong and getting the fuel it needed...

Yes, and how wonderful that Kirsten moved to coaches who essentially said, you get help, you eat right, or you don't skate.:pray:

A long healthy career based on meeting nutritional needs is absolutely possible (and in fact should be the norm) in skating. A skater should never ever base a career on nutritional deficits: not good for the skater, not good for skating.

ETA: For example, this from Meagan Duhamel:

The articles and posts circulating in the skating world scare me because they convey an unhealthy image. Don’t we athletes want to become the very best version of ourselves we can be? How can one be their best if they aren’t fuelling themselves properly? Your body is like a car. If you want your car to drive smoothly and run properly, you fuel it with the necessities! Proper nutrition and eating is that fuel! Shouldn’t we be treating our bodies the same way?

I always wanted my body to perform at it’s maximum capability every single time. I wanted to recover quickly from training sessions and keep my inflammation down to prevent injuries. I focused on eating well for energy before training, snacked during training to help with focus and concentration, and then ate properly in the evening so I could recover quickly before my next training session. Staying consistent to this cycle year-round has been a key factor to staying healthy and having a long career.


 

alexocfp

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Just looking at it from a sporting perspective, not eating at all, not eating enough or eating and then getting rid of the food doesn’t actually makes sense if your goal is to win.

How can you compete if you are starving or malnutritioned? It’s not a good strategy for the short or long term. Especially at this level.
 

lariko

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I think many people have this expectation that a woman can just eat cleanly, not be hungry, be athletically active at the same time, and her body would just be right. The truth that I know about how a body works, is very, very different.
 

el henry

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I think many people have this expectation that a woman can just eat cleanly, not be hungry, be athletically active at the same time, and her body would just be right. The truth that I know about how a body works, is very, very different.

The truth that I know from nutritionists, elite athletes like Meagan Duhamel and from the skating community is that you can eat cleanly, not be hungry, be athletically active, and perform at the highest levels.

Did you read the article, which says just that?:scratch2: ETA: And says that those who feel they need to starve themselves are engaging in disordered thinking that hurts their athletic performance? I will take that as my truth.
 

lariko

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The truth that I know from nutritionists, elite athletes like Meagan Duhamel and from the skating community is that you can eat cleanly, not be hungry, be athletically active, and perform at the highest levels.

Did you read the article, which says just that?:scratch2: ETA: And says that those who feel they need to starve themselves are engaging in disordered thinking that hurts their athletic performance? I will take that as my truth.
I can’t read the article, because it is by subscription only, but in my very long experience, I appreciate that it is not at all a given for but very selected few to be able to succeed, particularly long-term, and if only those who did ended up being competitive athletes, there would far fewer than we see now. But, of course, that’s what people like you want to see, the same person again and again for twenty years till they are all used up. I appreciate how hard they work and the untold difficulties they face to do what they do, on top of athletic talent. That’s why I prefer watching athletes at the age when I can reasonably believe it is still fun and games for them, and gains come fairly easy without suffering involved in maintaining extreme body comps.
 
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4everchan

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I can’t read the article, because it is by subscription only, but in my very long experience, I appreciate that it is not at all a given for but very selected few to be able to succeed, particularly long-term, and if only those who did ended up being competitive athletes, there would far fewer than we see now. But, of course, that’s what people like you want to see, the same person again and again for twenty years till they are all used up. I appreciate how hard they work and the untold difficulties they face to do what they do, on top of athletic talent. That’s why I prefer watching athletes at the age when I can reasonably believe it is still fun and games for them, and gains come fairly easy without suffering involved in maintaining extreme body comps.
trust me... even at 12-13, competing is not just fun and games...
 

lariko

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trust me... even at 12-13, competing is not just fun and games...
I trust that, and I still feel more comfortable when I watch folks in that discipline before they are much over twenty. That’s my comfort level where I am more at peace with my conscience in following this sport.
 

Ic3Rabbit

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⬆️Younger competitive years are when they learn the bad eating habits, unhealthy thinking and such, sadly by coaches who bullied them into it. So I guess watching kids at learn to skate lessons and not any older or higher competitive stages would be the way to go with that thinking.:slink:
 

mrrice

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Wow--what a sobering and well written piece. It's such a pervasive problem in so many sports and the case of Christine Nesbitt was interesting--she refused to cut her food intake and absolutely killed it at the Olympics--because her body was strong and getting the fuel it needed...
Sadly, this is a subject I know all too well. In dance, a lot of ladies are thin, which makes it hard to spot in the beginning. However, the signs are there if they're not eating. In My Case, it began with a dancer's Stamina. They became easily winded during rehearsals and couldn't make it through some of the numbers without gasping for air and not completing the dance. As it progressed, I could see it in a dancer's face. They began to have dark circles around their eyes, sunken cheeks, and their color was just off. It's a very difficult subject to bring up no matter what age the person is. There is so much pressure to be perfect in this activity. This is why having a great coach is such a special thing.
 
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lariko

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⬆️Younger competitive years are when they learn the bad eating habits, unhealthy thinking and such, sadly by coaches who bullied them into it. So I guess watching kids at learn to skate lessons and not any older or higher competitive stages would be the way to go with that thinking.:slink:
In ideal world, there would be zero tolerance for abuse, and I would always be hoping that sooner rather than later, we get there. Until then, I don’t feel comfortable insisting on watching older athletes who almost certainly go against what’s natural for their bodies or wishing that their careers lasted for many years. I simply have no way to believe that this many of them can be that lean easily while preserving muscular mass. Not anyone individually, it’s just imo is statistically improbable. If at all humanly possible, I wish that pro sport didn’t destroy athletes’ health creating a troubling paradox.
 

Ic3Rabbit

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In ideal world, there would be zero tolerance for abuse, and I would always be hoping that sooner rather than later, we get there. Until then, I don’t feel comfortable insisting on watching older athletes who almost certainly go against what’s natural for their bodies or wishing that their careers lasted for many years. I simply have no way to believe that this many of them can be that lean easily while preserving muscular mass. Not anyone individually, it’s just imo is statistically improbable. If at all humanly possible, I wish that pro sport didn’t destroy athletes’ health creating a troubling paradox.
You missed the point. The OLDER athletes aren't alone in this. :bang: There are 11, 12, 14 year olds dealing with this and younger, learning these scary habits and practicing them daily. If you want to justify only watching like 4 junior skaters by trying to say it's only Senior skaters, then fine continue to live in that fantasy world, but it doesn't make it a reality. You're watching skaters who at that age are more than likely dealing with these issues. Eating disorders are learned at a very young age in many sports (skating isn't alone in this), one doesn't magically get an eating disorder at 20, they've probably had it for years. Sad but true.
 

lariko

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You missed the point. The OLDER athletes aren't alone in this. :bang: There are 11, 12, 14 year olds dealing with this and younger, learning these scary habits and practicing them daily. If you want to justify only watching like 4 junior skaters by trying to say it's only Senior skaters, then fine continue to live in that fantasy world, but it doesn't make it a reality. You're watching skaters who at that age are more than likely dealing with these issues. Eating disorders are learned at a very young age in many sports (skating isn't alone in this), one doesn't magically get an eating disorder at 20, they've probably had it for years. Sad but true.
In my experience it gets progressively harder and more destructive with age, so I make my choices based on my own experience.
 

el henry

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You missed the point. The OLDER athletes aren't alone in this. :bang: There are 11, 12, 14 year olds dealing with this and younger, learning these scary habits and practicing them daily. If you want to justify only watching like 4 junior skaters by trying to say it's only Senior skaters, then fine continue to live in that fantasy world, but it doesn't make it a reality. You're watching skaters who at that age are more than likely dealing with these issues. Eating disorders are learned at a very young age in many sports (skating isn't alone in this), one doesn't magically get an eating disorder at 20, they've probably had it for years. Sad but true.

This. And the disordered thinking doesn't magically disappear when the competitive skating career ends.

Someone who is engaged in unhealthy behaviors to maintain an unhealthy body weight at 14, 15 and 16 doesn't, upon retiring at 17, go "Yippee, I can now eat normally!"

Some may need to deal with managing disordered eating for their entire life, and all will need to do hard work to pull themselves out of it.

It is not healthier to have a limited career based on unhealthy habits. It just isn't🤷‍♀️
 

mrrice

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You missed the point. The OLDER athletes aren't alone in this. :bang: There are 11, 12, 14 year olds dealing with this and younger, learning these scary habits and practicing them daily. If you want to justify only watching like 4 junior skaters by trying to say it's only Senior skaters, then fine continue to live in that fantasy world, but it doesn't make it a reality. You're watching skaters who at that age are more than likely dealing with these issues. Eating disorders are learned at a very young age in many sports (skating isn't alone in this), one doesn't magically get an eating disorder at 20, they've probably had it for years. Sad but true.
This is an absolute fact! I think it would shock some people to hear the way that some mothers hounded their children. Both Boys and Girls about their weight. I remember being in a buffet line at a competition in Las Vegas. One of my junior dancers Ages 8-12 , was reaching for a piece a cake and her Mother literally smacked it out of her hand. I think my Father thought it was funny when we were in public, to say. "You eat that, and I'm not paying for another lesson"

I know it was in jest but, those little jabs add up and can make anyone self conscious.
 
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rain

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You missed the point. The OLDER athletes aren't alone in this. :bang: There are 11, 12, 14 year olds dealing with this and younger, learning these scary habits and practicing them daily. If you want to justify only watching like 4 junior skaters by trying to say it's only Senior skaters, then fine continue to live in that fantasy world, but it doesn't make it a reality. You're watching skaters who at that age are more than likely dealing with these issues. Eating disorders are learned at a very young age in many sports (skating isn't alone in this), one doesn't magically get an eating disorder at 20, they've probably had it for years. Sad but true.
Yes, 100 per cent.
And further, studies have shown that worldwide in developed countries girls are hitting puberty earlier and earlier, and one of the reasons is that there's a steady and plentiful supply of food. These teenaged skating girls are being artificially held in a pre-pubescent state through restrictive diets and overtraining. Puberty and the runup to it is not when girls should be restricting calories — their bodies need large amounts of food to make the huge transition into women. It can have lifelong very harmful consequences from stunting growth the bone development and many other things. The fact that the skating establishment is supporting this course right now, which can have dire consequences, is frankly appalling. It is one of the reasons I advocate so strongly for raising the minimum age to compete in seniors. And that I don't watch juniors.

The standard needs to be what can be achieved in a healthy, woman's body. Not in a child's. I personally would far rather watch women skating than children. It's not all about how many revolutions can be done in the air.

And I can only imagine how bad it is for pairs girls who will a) probably mature faster than their male counterparts physically, and b) need to be lifted and thrown.
 

el henry

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Yes, 100 per cent.
And further, studies have shown that worldwide in developed countries girls are hitting puberty earlier and earlier, and one of the reasons is that there's a steady and plentiful supply of food. These teenaged skating girls are being artificially held in a pre-pubescent state through restrictive diets and overtraining. Puberty and the runup to it is not when girls should be restricting calories — their bodies need large amounts of food to make the huge transition into women. It can have lifelong very harmful consequences from stunting growth the bone development and many other things. The fact that the skating establishment is supporting this course right now, which can have dire consequences, is frankly appalling. It is one of the reasons I advocate so strongly for raising the minimum age to compete in seniors. And that I don't watch juniors.

The standard needs to be what can be achieved in a healthy, woman's body. Not in a child's. I personally would far rather watch women skating than children. It's not all about how many revolutions can be done in the air.

And I can only imagine how bad it is for pairs girls who will a) probably mature faster than their male counterparts physically, and b) need to be lifted and thrown.

Some skaters do get that attention and support for healthy development from coaching staff and adults in their life. But it takes effort.

No "Oh you look so great now that you're thinner".

Certainly none of the happy hoo-hah: "Jumps are safer if you're super duper thin". Jumps are safer if you are well fueled, in shape, and have proper jump technique.

Pairs women can be naturally small. Both Meagan and Kirsten M-T, for example, at adult height are shorter than the average adult woman. But they both (and for KMT, a more recent development) have healthy eating habits and a healthy relationship to food as fuel for their athletic endeavors.

I am so thankful that KMT finally found that support, so it does exist. It is upsetting to think that some skaters may never do.
 
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