Fitness Modeling and Eating Disorders

Fitness Modeling and Eating Disorders

There are many things about the world of fitness modeling that makes an eating disorders therapist cringe. Most notably, there’s the very strict dieting, and also the large amount of time spent on intensive workouts at the gym. Less obvious – but extremely concerning – are the body image issues that arise from quests for physical perfection, as well as comparisons with other fitness models, along with judgments during competitions and photo shoots. And then there are those who are not fitness models, but who compare themselves to the images of fitness models in magazines. Stacking yourself up against another person, who may or may not be healthy in their pursuit of perfection, is never helpful. As an eating disorder therapist, I’ve worked with many current, former, and prospective fitness models, and while I do believe that some people can navigate that world unscathed, for many it is a slippery slope into dangerous waters, and many don’t know how far down they’ve gone. So what makes the difference between a healthy approach to fitness modeling, and an eating-disordered approach to becoming a fitness model? The most important thing to consider is the motivation for fitness modeling. Is it the external validation? A desire to look like someone you saw on the internet or in a magazine? To make an ex-partner jealous? A desire for the “perfect” body? Or, for the enjoyment of challenging yourself? Another area to consider is eating. If you are a fitness model, ask yourself how you feel if or when you eat something not on your meal plan. Would you even dare let yourself? Do you shrug it off, or do you try harder the...
Athletes With Eating Disorders – Intuitive Exercise

Athletes With Eating Disorders – Intuitive Exercise

RECOVERY TIP for ATHLETES WITH EATING DISORDERS: Try these strategies for Intuitive Exercise as a part of your training plan! Intuitive Exercise involves tuning in to the messages that your body is sending you about the type and amount of exercise that your body truly needs. When you have a training regimen that you’re trying to follow, it might seem like you’d have to ignore your intuition, and “just do it” (whatever your designated workout may be). However, you can still train intuitively – being in tune with your body is essential for an athlete. While the drive and pressure to perform better causes some athletes to push through pain and discomfort, they also know that not taking care of an injury early could cause even more damage down the road. Being aware of signs of fatigue, possible overtraining, and even emotional cues, like dreading work outs, are a part of Intuitive Exercise. That being said, you could very well find yourself not really feeling like going for a run one day, but do it anyway, and sometimes that is OK – pushing through is a part of the athlete experience, but a nagging consistent dread should be addressed. A key aspect of Intuitive Exercise is about motivation. What exactly is driving you? If you are feeling or sore, or fatigued, or even depressed, what gets you out the door? Is it the voice of your Eating Disorder (ED), saying something like, “You have to get that workout in, no matter what!” Or is it the voice of your “Intuitive Trainer” (IT) reminding you how much you love your sport, saying something encouraging, such as, “Go out for just...