Irony on exercise bulimia

I found two related stories on exercise bulimia in my news feed today, and although they weren't glaringly inaccurate, there were some aspects I found mighty amusing (but not in a funny way).

The two stories were: Emerging Eating Disorder- Exercise Bulimia, and San Diego Clinic Helps Exercise Bulimics. The first aired on the CBS "Early Show," and the second appeared to be from their San Diego syndicate.

First of all, exercise bulimia isn't an "emerging" disorder. It's a fairly new name for a really old phenomenon. When the first clinical descriptions of anorexia were written in the 1870s, doctors noted the patients' hyperactivity in the face of starvation. Compulsive exercise has long been a feature of eating disorders, and our current cultural obsession to try and burn off excess calories through exercise only feeds this mentality and normalizes the disorder.

Secondly, a link on "related articles" on the first piece linked to an item called "Want to Lose Weight? You Gotta Work Out."

I mean, Holy Irony, Batman!

Also, very 80s graphic they have going there. Yikes.

Thirdly, the text about the San Diego clinic opened with the following: For most of us, hitting the gym is a necessary evil to keep those extra pounds at bay.


This just confirms that so many people just don't get it. The mentality that exercise is all about weight loss and that more exercise is better because it means more weight loss and dedication only fuels the problem. During my exercise addiction, no one ever asked if I had better things to do than live in my rank sports bra. I get that these articles are meant to be helpful, but they also continue the subtle misinformation about the nature of these disorders.


Tiptoe said...

"For most of us, hitting the gym is a necessary evil to keep those extra pounds at bay."

I cringed at this line as well. It seems like a never ending saga about just weight loss.

Cathy (UK) said...

I assume that 'exercise bulimia' is the same as 'exercise addiction/dependence' and 'compulsive exercise' (?).

I suffered badly with restricting anorexia nervosa and am still in recovery. A primary driver of my illness was (what I term) 'exercise dependence'. I use that term because I felt I could only cope with each day if I started it with an exhaustive exercise regime that was performed very ritualistically. The primary objective of my exercise regime was to prevent anxiety; not to 'burn calories'. For that reason the term 'exercise bulimia' is inaccurate. In addition, I was a child athlete, and so I viewed being physically active and athletic as my identity.

People with and without EDs 'hit the gym' for many reasons that are separate from a desire to lose or control their weight.

fighting_forever said...

I believe (and this is based on speculation with no evidence whatsoever) that exercise bulimia is probably one of the most undiagnosed eating disorders, because it starts out as a common behaviour. "I ate more than I should today; I'd better go to the gym tomorrow."

It takes a while to turn into something unhealthy and the person doing it doesn't realise that it's a disorder. They just feel like a bad dieter when they binge.

SamiBTX said...

Exercise bulimia is not new, and is often even encouraged.

For some reason I used to watch The Biggest Loser on NBC, the contestants had a challenge & bla-bla-bla they all ended up eaing several thousand calories at once.
Their idiot trainers then had them exercise until they were in pain to burn it all off.

F-cking repulsive.

geongia said...

I admire what you have done here. I like the part where you say you are doing this to give back but I would assume by all the comments that this is working for you as well.


Fosamax Fracture said...

This is an alarming disorder. I never knew people could be that extreme, enough to make their bodies suffer just to look good. Thank you for sharing this blog and for your insights.

Sara said...

I'm a recovering exercise bulimic/anorexic and it pains me to see how ignorant people are about this disorder. I've been told many time that I'm lucky to have an exercise addiction/obsession. Little do they know I've put my body on the verge of death because of it.

bertolli coupons said...

When I was working out hard, and was addicted to looking good, I would sometimes binge on ice cream. Afterwards it was very easy to stick a finger down my throat in order to throw up the ice cream. I realized I had a problem when I would do it more than once a week. It is a serious disorder for sure!

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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