Official Website of Sarah E. Rippel, BS, CPT, FMS

-Eating Disorders & Exercise Addiction-

Happy Monday, Everyone!

I wanted to share with you an excerpt from an email I sent out to my boot campers earlier today. I will be talking more about eating disorders and exercise addiction this year, as I feel there simply isn’t enough information put out there by people who have lived with these issues and SURVIVED. There are many people struggling and most likely unable to reach out for help, so I believe that ANY little glimmer of “you can make it through”-type hope CAN make a difference.

November 1996 - 20 years old - 105 pounds - "healthy" yet still very sick.

“Those of you who know me pretty well know that I was anorexic and exercise bulimic for years. Food was my enemy and all I thought about was it and working out. Not a fun way to live. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Nowadays, i’m happy to say that I eat what I want, when I want, and I don’t stress about it. I listen to my body. When i’m hungry, I eat, and when i’m full, I stop. It took me a while to get to this point but I can honestly say that my body and mind are happy together. I don’t fight/abuse my body anymore, and it’s amazing the difference it has made.

I know some of you are thinking “she’s never been overweight in her entire life.” You’re right…I haven’t…BUT…I had eating disorder issues, wacked-out body image, unhealthy coping mechanisms, and very very crappy self-esteem. I also ended up with hypothyroidism, which I have under control today. Over the course of 3 months, I basically gained 15 pounds out of nowhere and had a huge list of crazy symptoms because of the disorder. Let me tell ya, i’m 5’2, and putting 15 pounds on a 120 pound muscular body was indeed noticeable. I look back at pictures from that time (and there are very few) and barely recognize myself. I guess i’m rambling, but I wanted y’all to know a bit of my story. The weight gain caused me to fight my body even harder, which just made things worse. I ended up seeing a doctor a year and a half later (when I was training for a fitness competition and was essentially killing myself trying to shed bodyfat, all the while feeling like I was losing my mind). Hormones are very very sensitive! If things are out of whack, other things get all messed up.

Binge eating disorder is not uncommon at all for women, and I know many who have struggled with it. That was another issue I had. Eating disorders are rarely ever about eating…but they are all about shame, a lack of self worth, etc. Bottom line – anyone who is wrestling with unhealthy body image, low self-esteem, and unhealthy eating habits is struggling. Exercise IS a healthy way to come to grips with some of this. I know that back when I was anorexic, I exercised because it was a means of losing more weight. When I really got to a low point, however, and realized just how sick I was, exercise became something that saved me. Of course, I took it to the extreme and was addicted to it for years, but I also had my own issues to come to grips with. Exercise is a POSITIVE. Eating is a POSITIVE. When you combine both in a healthy manner, life can be really great because YOU are taking control of your health & are doing things that carry over into the other areas of your life. So…I want to give each of you a hand. Also, if anyone needs someone to talk to regarding eating issues, i’m here for you.”

Also, very coincidental that I received an email not too long after writing my email to my boot campers. Exercise addiction is a very REAL issue, and MTV’s “True Life” is going to be focusing on the subject. They are holding a casting call right now for this episode of the show. I am familiar with the show, and am SO excited that they are going to focus on exercise addiction. I have always felt that there is not enough information and help available for those struggling with this issue. As a former anorexic and exercise bulimic, I know how it is. I went through years being wrapped-up in it, and it was always easy to “hide” because of being a personal trainer and fitness competitor. People praised me for being dedicated and healthy, but I was very much the opposite. It is a REAL issue and one that needs more of a voice.

Here is some information from the email I received regarding the True Life casting call:

My name’s Ryan and I’m a producer for MTV’s documentary series True Life.  Each episode we focus on telling the stories of three young people between the ages of 16 and 28, revolving around a central issue.  Right now we’re casting True Life: I’m addicted to exercise.

I’ve been contacting Gym owners, managers and personal trainers to try and get a feel for how to identify and approach those with an addiction to exercise—specifically those who feel their relationships, jobs or school is being threatened by an obsessive need to put in hours at the gym, and look a certain way.

I know that as a Personal Trainer, you are some of the most knowledgeable people in the gym about exercise and could easily identify those you would consider “overtraining” or “obsessed.”

We would love to reach out to these individuals and I’m wondering if you would help us get in touch with those who fit the age range and description, but most importantly really want to tell their story for the benefit of others.

If you happen to run across someone who would really love to talk to us, below is my contact information and you are more than welcome to give it to anyone you feel comfortable speaking to about the show.  We would start with a conversation about the process of filming True Life and address any privacy concerns they might have before we talk.  We understand the sensitive nature of this issue, and don’t intend on exploiting our subjects, or telling their stories in anything but their own words.

If you’re interested, Ive attached a flyer that, if you felt comfortable you could pin up on bulletin boards at gyms so people could contact us anonymously if they choose.  Below is also a link to the True Life website as well if you wanted to learn more about the show.

Thanks in advance for helping us out!  Any suggestions or information is greatly appreciated!


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