On Eating Disorders And Being An Athlete In The Midst…

I appreciated receiving this article, written by Karen Crouse, which speaks to a very real problem in sports. It is also – I should point out – scarcely relegated to figure skating (the topic of the article) and related performing or aesthetic sports such as dancing, bodybuilding, and the like.  Rather, it has a much broader (and frankly insidious) grip on athletes around the globe. 

Eating disorders were something I grew up knowing plenty about – I was classically trained in ballet for over ten years, competitively figure skated for about sixteen years, and danced competitively in International Latin and American Smooth ballroom for seven years. In those arenas, thin is ALWAYS in.


Can weight make a difference in performance? Yes, absolutely. When it comes to one’s joints, or one’s ability to do the particularly acrobatic and athletic jumps and spins, it’s important we are at a weight healthy for our frame. Figure skating, for one, is a high impact sport and that takes a toll even on a healthy body. When we are unhealthy, those negative side effects can be multiplied many fold. However, a lot of it – a sometimes far heftier percentage – is about the “look.” And, when it becomes about our appearance, things can go downhill very quickly…

It isn’t only that I, like many athletes, was “young and impressionable” at the time – top athletes generally ARE on the younger side (remember that part about impact on the body?) Athletes begin training early, so there is certainly danger in implanting these injurious notions early on.

What is also a real issue, however, is that a focus on a person’s “weight” can suddenly have bearing on whether or not you are even “considered” for a winning position – that will change your tune pretty quick if you have goals of any kind. (Deny politics play a role in results? You’re kidding yourself!)

In ballroom, for example, if you aren’t groomed properly, you simply aren’t taken seriously. Period. It’s as easy as that. I’m not putting it down, I was in it…and LOVED it. But it was a horrible hassle, and I knew I didn’t really have a choice. Before a competition I needed to be:

  • Spray tanned…TWICE (because my pale skin wasn’t in)
  • Have my nails done (as in, they needed to be long and noticeable)
  • Have my hair professionally done every time I competed (multiple days, means days of hair-doing)
  • Professional makeup (fortunately I did this myself, but then half my suitcase was makeup I had to lug)
  • Make sure I was as fit as could be (wearing next to nothing / very revealing costumes…yes, people would notice if you gained a little extra. And they wouldn’t be shy about mentioning it)

Those things were prerequisites.  Then you added to that judge preferences like wearing tan fishnets or stockings (okay, no big deal, that helped “pull me in” a little so I stayed slim in that tiny costume…) But it was rough because if you didn’t take those “suggestions” you often were out of the running…before you even took the floor. No, I’m not kidding. Figure skating was a little less harsh on that front, but the pressure to “lose a little” was definitely an undercurrent.

I remember going to skating camp at Simsbury’s International Skating Center of Connecticut. I was in my mid to later teens (definitely the mesomorph of the group!) and I recall – very clearly – the younger skaters being worried about gaining weight. They wouldn’t eat ice cream, they would ask for coffee (at that age?!) with skim milk… They wouldn’t have chips…. Even back at our dorms, some would skip breakfast because they didn’t want to have too much (more Lucky Charms and Golden Grahams for me?)

Let me be clear, I am ALL about healthy, clean eating – it’s not about how I look so much as how it makes my body feel. My body is a “finely-tuned machine,” according to my doc, and it tells me what it needs. But when you are FIGURE SKATING…for HOURS A DAY…you burn more than a Clydesdale! I mean, it was craziness!!! These kids were WAY too young to worry about weight, not a single one had any inkling of a problem (which could impact joints, as athletic as skating can be), and they couldn’t enjoy themselves as a result – it was heartbreaking!

Now a days, the pressures are – apparently – still there. It was eye-opening to read that Brian Boitano (an idol I watched win his gold when I was ten years-old) was very much subjected to this, and wasn’t actually at peak performance (very likely) at that time. Hard to believe if you saw those jumps! It’s also saddening to hear that Adam Rippon has struggled with this as well. I love that they are open about it because eating disorders carry a lot of shame with them – speaking up and making it known that we are not alone can be enough to save someone afflicted from a life of suffering.

My disorders – Anorexia and Exercise Bulimia / Anorexia Athetica – were a result of something very different, but they nearly devoured me whole too. I thankfully managed to cruise through my sports both unscathed and unapologetically…but I was acutely aware of the oft-unspoken-about illnesses in the background. Having suffered through it later, knowing full well how damaging and dangerous such sickness can be, was testament to how powerful these diseases are… 

For many of athletes, body image is tightly wound around performance. . .which is tightly bound to our identities. Sometimes – to add fuel to the fire – that can be perpetuated by the people we look up to or rely on in the sport, as well as tied to our future success.

It’s a struggle to see the “good” sometimes – to see how strong we are, how well we are doing… It’s even harder to recognize…and then ADMIT…when we aren’t fueling ourselves the way we need to. I recently took back to the ice (on a VERY minor scale) but I’ll tell you…my legs are different. I can see it, I can feel it, and my body is asking for more carbohydrates and food. And…that’s what I give it if I need to. But like Adam Rippon, the mind will make a point to call out that we are doing something different – It’s like an internal guilt trip from the Ghost of Athletics Past!

Eating disorders are terrifying – like other addictive illnesses, they have the power to completely derail us, if not end our lives completely. While I refrain from “talking politics,” and don’t much care for celebrities shouting out their messages at the top of their lungs…there is some benefit in this particular arena. It is important to be honest and open because eating disorders are often highly isolating – we begin to decay on our own, and keep everyone at a distance while we whither away. The knowledge that we aren’t alone in our struggles it might help others find the strength and courage to seek treatment – one life saved is one life saved!

Truth be told, having had no one to look to during my own…? I would have LOVED to have this kind of hope to grab onto… 



Holiday 2016 – Lime Crime Diamond Crushers

Wait…WHaAaaAT!?  Where were THESE when I was competitively Ballroom Dancing, dang it?!  

These are the PERFECT, iridescent light catchers (and I’m highly irritated that they’ve come out now…several years too late!)  The names are as sassy as the shades, and I love that they (along with many other companies) are following suit of such brands as Colour Pop and showing swatches on a variety of skin tones.  *LOVE*



FLUKE. . .

I can’t well wear them to the dojo (lest my partner’s gi light up like a Christmas ball) but…I hope other people indulge in the high-wattage glow! 

The Diamond Crushers are meant to layer over lip color, but I’m sure you could use them on your own.  You could also very likely get creative (because…why not?) and use them to reflect light to / from other areas.  Eye gloss, anyone?  

Everything Changes, And That’s Okay

I definitely am not in the shape I was in when I was competitive figure skating as a child and teen… Nor am I in the shape I was in during college (when I hardly worked out, and ate like a horse!) Nor, again, am I the “fit” I maintained while competitive dancing…

But at 38 (and a half!), I feel really thankful, and incredibly healthy.  My muscle tone fluctuates, and I don’t necessarily look the way I did when I was training full-bore (“cut” is generally softer these days)…but my schedule and training load has also changed, and doing too much is more of a bad idea than a good one.

I woke up this morning feeling under the weather – not “sick” per se, but like I’ve done too much and need a break. (This happens more frequently in my 30’s than it did in the past.) I skipped my cardio, went to physical therapy, and I’m going easy.  Part of me plays that “I’m being lazy”game – the holidays are coming up and I won’t be able to necessarily get in as much exercise as I’d like to.  But sometimes that’s what we need most – REST.

My nutrition stays clean all year round – I stick to the foods that make me feel good, not only what keeps weight off.  Protein and veggies always help me feel full, and keep me from going haywire when I’m craving something less healthy.  High quality foods also help balance the days that I am not as “peak” and can’t do as hard a workout (if one at all.)


I also try to get in some cardio, or lifting when I can – it isn’t as frequent as it once was, and (as with today) I  sometimes have to take the day off…and NOT beat myself up about it.  It is easy to forget that when we make healthy living a priority (it is a “lifestyle,” after all) there is room for taking the breaks we need.  


So do what you can, and allow yourself a little room for when your body is saying “hello!?  I’d like a day off…or a few, please?!”  

You are perfect the way you are – a little fluctuation is not only normal, but healthy AND okay. ❤

Gothiness – Halloween Macabre, By Illamasqua

Leave it to Illamasqua to hold a Halloween course… I can’t say MAC wouldn’t either, but Illmasqua isn’t just edgy – a la MAC – it has a deeper, subterranean, curiously-otherworldly vibe.  Always.  To manage a full-on scare for your Fright Night revelry, they’ve got you covered…

Remarkably, the creepy harlequin-clown work (pictured) is a lot harder to achieve than one might think at first glance – try doing performance makeup even just once, and you’ll have an idea.  The deconstructed, paint-peel look reminds me of an abandoned, antiquated-Venetian mural (or maybe a mask from Carnivale that got left behind to gather dust through the centuries…) – I’d love to see the array of products used to create it, a plethora no doubt.  (PS, I can’t stand clowns, but I can appreciate the work done here!)

Anyway, you needn’t want this kind of facepaint to join in the fun – whatever form of haunt you take, sin you prefer, or wickedness you’re aiming for, I’m sure Illamasqua can help you achieve the desired eerie effects (don’t forget, your tools will matter as much.)  The course is only $67 too, which is a lot less steel than I’d have expected. For the best day of the year EVER?  Yeah, it’s worth it!


More Halloween

Make Up Forever Artist Shadow Eyeshadow and Powder Blush

Can I just say…holy versatility?!

Make Up Forever’s Artist Shadow and Powder Blush is a dream for anyone who either dolls up every day…OR performs or has a major event (think wedding, gala, etc.)  

I have a wedding (my own!) coming up soon – unfortunately (or fortunately, so says my wallet!) I already have a ton of stuff to work with.  Had I not, I’d likely have gone straight to this enormous selection to find the shades I want to mix.  Had I seen this back in my Ballroom Dancing days, I’d likely own half by now.  Okay, maybe just a fourth.

The formulas come in 

  • Matte 
  • Metallic
  • Satin
  • Shimmer

And there are more shades that I have EVER seen for any other product.  Truly, a plethora. No matter what your mood, what the season, or what the occasion, your pretty much promised something from this array.  And nevermind if the shade says “eyeshadow” or “blush” specifically – you can basically use it however you want.

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New jazz from Maybelline that wasn’t supposed to be out quite yet…but that IS.  Ballroom dancers rejoice – less need to wear the falsies (which I couldn’t STAND!)

The Falsies Push Up Angel Mascara promises to sweep your flutter to the side, giving a lifted, winged effect – how pinup and fabulous!



Maybelline’s Brow Precise Fiber Volumizer is hopping on the heels of the brow building trend, not only adding color, but filling out sparse areas with its fiber-infused gel formula.



Keeping A Strong Core – Ab Exercises

A strong core is absolutely essential – not only for athletes and sports performance, but for daily activities as well.  Having a strong core to support you will most definitely stave off those lower back aches and pains, and will help you even when you have to be bound to a chair most of the day (been there!)  


While cardio and nutrition are important to allowing your abdominal musculature to show, the cool part about ab exercises themselves is that they don’t have to take forever – they can also be done at the office or in the car (for example, as you are seated, think about pulling your navel to your spine.  Hold that position and brace for a few seconds.)


One of my favorites is the ab vacuum – it can be done absolutely anywhere, at anytime.  I sometimes forget to do it, but when I do, I ALWAYS see a huge difference.  Yes, HUGE.  I also try to sneak planks in, oblique twists, hanging leg raises, and certain types of crunches when I can.  Planks are another one of those quick exercises that you can do during a tv commercial or any time you get up at home.


Here are some links to some of the exercises I do myself, and that have really helped to make a difference for me.

I definitely do other exercises, but these are my more regular suspects.  Give them a try and see what you think!

For more exercise stuff…