Student Overcomes Eating Disorder with Kickboxing
East Hanover MMA
“Martial arts isn’t about learning how to fight others, it’s about learning how to fight your inner demons so you can become a better person.” ~Shihan Tiger Schulmann
As I write this for Sensei Lopez, I mark my 209th day without purging. To some this may not sound like a lot but for me this day is a huge accomplishment. I became bulimic when I was in my late teens, although I was unaware that I had a real problem until late in my college years. It started off simply as a diet. Having been a big girl my entire life, I had been on and off diets for as long as I can remember. I was consistently praised when I was able to shed a few pounds and the topic was dropped as soon as I began to put it back on. A binge eater for as long as I can remember, by the time I was 17 years old my yo-yo dieting had sent my weight up past an alarming 230lbs (I didn’t weigh myself until several months after I began “dieting” again). This time I had decided that I was going to succeed by any means necessary.
I did wonderfully at first, shunning all those “bad foods” and sticking to only healthy options. That is, until my first slip up. I had a monstrous binge that led me to being disgustingly sick with myself as well as disgustingly sick. I didn’t know what to do but I couldn’t admit failure. This was the first time I purged. To the average person, this may sound insane but the feeling associated with that moment was almost euphoric – I felt as though a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I thought I had found the dieting secret and along with constant exercise I began to drop weight.
I was able to fool everyone in my life; people may have had an inkling that something was up, but nobody would ever have guessed that I had an eating disorder.
People complimented me. Some didn’t even recognize me. And my obsession continued. I still didn’t think anything was wrong; I thought I was getting healthy. I was also, or so I thought at the time, dealing with my demons better. Once I went away to college purging became easier. I no longer had to hide what I was doing from my parents (in my mind there was nothing wrong with what I was doing and they just wouldn’t understand). I was able to fool everyone in my life; people may have had an inkling that something was up, but nobody would ever have guessed that I had an eating disorder. After all, I may have weighed a lot less than I did in high school, but I certainly wasn’t thin by any measure.
It was 6 weeks after I gave birth to my youngest that I took my first class at Tiger Schulmann’s. My weight was back up to an alarming 200lbs,
After 10 years of living with this disease, and still hiding it from my husband, I decided it was time to take action. It was 6 weeks after I gave birth to my youngest that I took my first class at Tiger Schulmann’s. My weight was back up to an alarming 200lbs, my disorder was raging, and I thought that hitting a heavy bag would be a great way to burn some extra calories. At the school I learned about their nutrition program, and tried to follow it. Unfortunately for me, I was still in too deep, and the viscous cycle continued. I broke down one night to my hubby on our front steps and left him dumbfounded as to how sick I actually was. The following day my mother, husband, and I began searching out specialists to help me get well. I met with specialists at an eating disorder center, and began months of intensive day and outpatient treatment. At the time Sensei Bopp and Joshu Echeverria were at East Hanover, and were supportive of me taking time off from training during the periods I was in outpatient and had to attend evening sessions. I would like to say that after treatment I was cured. However this was not the case.
Sensei quickly became someone I could go to on days that the disease was winning, as well as days that I was able to string along a couple of good ones without symptom use.
When Sensei Lopez took over Tiger Schulmann’s East Hanover it took me awhile to open up to him and let him know what I was fighting on a personal level. Having shared with only those who needed to know about my disorder in the past, opening up to someone who was not incredibly close to me was terrifying. However, he listened and Sensei quickly became someone I could go to on days that the disease was winning, as well as days that I was able to string along a couple of good ones without symptom use. When the school’s weight loss challenges would roll around, I’d jump on the bandwagon but typically pull out halfway through because I couldn’t control my disease.
I decided I wanted to take back control of my life, if not for me, then for the sake of the two most important people in my life – my sons Nicky and Matty.
That was until this past 90 Day Challenge. What was the difference? During our yearly end-of-the-year goal setting meetings, rather than set goals of belt levels or what place I wanted to take at tournaments, I told Sensei my goal was to go 100 days without purging. Coming from someone who had never been able to accomplish more than a week or two, it sounded like fiction. But I decided I wanted to take back control of my life, if not for me, then for the sake of the two most important people in my life – my sons Nicky and Matty. I wish I could say it was easy. There were plenty of nights I sat on my bathroom floor wishing I could just get the release that I desperately wanted. And even more nights that I would text one of my amazing friends from the school that knew what I was dealing with, simply for support. And I can’t even begin to count the numerous occasions my husband would have to deal with my mood swings and hysterics as a result of having to face dealing with my problems rather than purging them out. But in that meeting with Sensei, I acknowledged that I wanted to keep myself alive and that was what kept me going.
This past 90 Day Challenge was the first challenge in the 5 years I’ve been training that I actually completed. Not only that, but I won it too!
This past 90 Day Challenge was the first challenge in the 5 years I’ve been training that I actually completed. Not only that, but I won it too! And I have my whole family training along with me! Training has become an outlet for my emotions in a way I never thought possible; whatever it is I’m dealing with, I can take it out on the bag rather than myself. But the best part is, I’m setting a healthy example for my children and I no longer have to fear either of them following my example, instead I hope for it! It may not all be smooth sailing, but with every day that passes I feel a little more confident that I can deal with this demon. I am a fighter after all.