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Ballet Talk for Dancers

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Medically and clinically there is a difference between disordered eating and an eating disorder. The first can definitely become the second! The situation can change quite quickly, but it is important to remember that the first is an activity (not to be endorsed) and the later is a medical/psychological condition that needs professional intervention/treatment.

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Mel Johnson

Right, and they can overlap, making diagnosis even dicier for a physician. :ermm:

 

The poor doctors! Sometimes I feel sorry for them with all the weird stuff that we dancers show them, and want it fixed by Tuesday.

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Thank you for posting the link.Watched it with my 12 year old daughter.We were just having a discussion about this very topic.

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Guest Danielle!

Thankyou so much for posting this. I watched in health during my freshmen year but I wasn't dancing then so I honestly didn't really pay attention but now that I'm dancing I really do understand the risk of eating disorders.

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  • 3 weeks later...

These videos are frightening. i can not imagine a day with out eating. i don't think i could ever be pushed to be anorexic- i live for food! i think that if you eat healthy and you exercise you will be fit. i've always done both and am at a normal healthy weight. eating healthy is the key.

Edited by Dancer28
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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Thank you for posting that. I watched it but then i realised I'd watched the entire program before at school. Eating disorders certainly scare me to death I have nightmares of my anorexic friends dying. Yet I don't think I will ever understand the mindset behind anorexics.

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insidesoloist

I had seen an excerpt of this before, but it was interesting to watch the whole show. I guess I should feel very lucky, as I seem to have nearly every pre-requisite for an eating disorder, but no manifestation of one. I even have family members with them, and certainly have had classmates with them. The only thing there that was clearly not true of me is the feeling-calmer-when-one-hasn't-eaten part. That is definitely not the case with me. And, of course, I can't see what my serotonin levels are doing in my body.

 

I don't want to say I'd love to see the pendulum swing back the other way, because anytime the pendulum is too far in one direction, people are excluded. However, I'd love to have multiple body types be looked at as ideal for ballet. One of the most beautiful ballerinas I've ever seen dance was Trinidad Sevillano. Her body hardly fit the modern idea of the perfect ballet body, but, when I saw her, she was a beautiful woman and a beautiful dancer.

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Check this site out:

 

http://www.anred.com/

 

It has some very good dealing strategies, and good links for more instruction. Understanding goes a long way to help.

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WendyMichelle

Nashville Baby,

 

I'm not sure how old you are, but I am 29 (will be 30 in January). I'm going to tell you a personal story.

 

When I was a child I was very, very small. So small, in fact, that my Grandmother cried because she thought I was going to be a midget. I was always below weight when they tested us in school, always wore significantly smaller clothes than I should have for my age. I started dancing at 3 and to hear the family tell it I was always an extremely picky and finicky eater.

 

Then I don't know what happened.......but I turned 13. I think perhaps puberty was trying to hit and there were a multitude of family issues to deal with. There was absolutely no control whatsoever in my entire life. I didn't realize it but I was restricting everything when it came to food. I also didn't realize that everytime we went to the store I always had to go to the hardware section, find a scale, and weigh myself. I wanted a scale for Christmas. This went on for almost a year before my family doctor stepped in and had a conference with my parents and told them he suspected I was anorexic and needed to go for counseling.

 

For five years I was packed up in the car and driven two hours away to a very well established psychiatric hospital two times a week. My Dad always took me, the times my Mom went and talked to the psychiatrist afterwards she couldn't handle it. The first thing that happened to me was I had to strip down to nothing, then I was given a very plain pair of shorts and a t-shirt to put on. I was watched the entire time (fear of trying to stuff thing in pockest to make myself weigh more). Then I was weighed. Then body fat was taken. Then I was allowed to get dressed and go wait for the doctor. Sessions lasted about two hours each time. The doctor would ask questions and I would bore holes through him with my eyes. He told my parents a year into treatment that I knew exactly what was wrong with me but until *I* wanted help and was ready to confront it there wasn't a thing he could do for me. Trips continued for the next 3-4 years though.

 

I continued to dance all this time. Actually, nothing was ever said to me about how thin I was or that I needed to gain weight. Looking back on it, I'm not sure if my parents had informed the school of the problem and they chose to not say anything and draw attention to it. But I do remember the other girls looking at me. And it made me even more self-conscience and restrict even more. Also, when I got home from dancing, I would work out 3-4 hours every day. I literally worked myself until I couldn't move.

 

I stunted my growth at 13 years old. I stopped growing at 5'2 1/2". I am not going to give very many numbers here, but just say that when I was 18 years old and graduated from high school I weighed 72 pounds. I went off to college and the situation became even worse. I did gain up to 92 pounds, but along with that increased my dancing schedule by triple, and when I wasn't in school or dancing, was at the gym doing cardio and lifting weights with the professional wrestling outfit in the area. I might have gained a little weight, but there was only 8% body fat.

 

I kept getting sick. Every two weeks I would come down with something. I couldn't stay well, no matter how hard I tried. I was also having some really bad stomach problems. I was never a purger, but it got to the point where I was having problems keeping anything on my stomach. I remember whole weeks going by and just eating crackers and drinking Dr. Pepper.

 

In January of 2001 I finally reached a breaking point. I was 24 years old and I was dying. I have pictures that are so bad I can't stand to look at them now. I quit college, I quit my job, called home one night and told my Mom I was sick and needed to come home, and the next day packed up what I could in my car and drove 7 hours home. I found a new family doctor who has been treating me ever since. He knew from day one that I was anorexic but he never said a word to me.

 

It took until April of 2001 for me to tell him that something was wrong. As soon as I admitted it and that I was tired of it, we went about fixing me. There were other diagnoses made.....namely, the anorexia was a side effect of having obsessive compulsive disorder. He took a different approach than anyone else......he treated me for OCD, not anorexia. This, of course, required medication (which I wasn't thrilled about but was so low in my life that I was willing to try anything). The first 6-8 weeks were pretty rough as my body and mind adjusted. I remember eating squash for the first time and my family just sat and stared at me. They couldn't believe a- I was eating and b- I was eating things I wouldn't have touched with a ten foot pole just months before. I also have an extremely irregular and rapid heartbeat (which has to be controlled with medication as well), non-existent periods (which have to be controlled with birth control pills), and a variety of other issues from doing this to myself for 11 years straight.

 

The off-set of this was I did gain weight. A lot of weight. I now weigh around 140 pounds. Most of it is still muscle though.....which makes trying to lose anything just that much more difficult. There is also a point in my mind now that I cannot go past when it comes to dieting. Part of me knows if I ignore what my body and mind is telling me that I will be on that road again. My doctor says this is also a sign of my recovery..............that I am now aware of these issues and how far I can and cannot go. For the most part, I am very happy with my body now. Of course I would like to look better in my leotard; but the benefits of being a somewhat sane and happy person far outweigh what I look like. I rarely weigh...........I figure if my clothes fit I must be alright. =) And oh my goodness at the food that is out there! I have recently expanded my menu to include onions, green and red peppers, and zucchini.

 

It has taken a very long time for me to get to this point. And it is something that I will always struggle with. I will also always be on medication..........but I've even made my peace with that fact as well. There is a saying that "a person with an eating disorder can always spot another one." You are very much like I was; perfectly aware of all of your stats and are more in control than the doctors. It is okay to be like that. But if you need to wave the white flag at some point that is by all means okay as well.

 

I sincerely wish you the best.

WM

 

In 2000, 92 lbs.

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Two

Three

 

Now, weighing 140ish lbs.

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Three I wasn't going for technique in this picture, it was to see what I looked like in a leotard through the eyes of a camera.

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  • 2 months later...

Thanks for posting this link. I just watched it and it has made me ever-more aware of eating disorders. I have also just gone and blessed my parents profusely for not keeping a scale in the house! I also thank everyone who has had the courage to share their own stories and struggles - best of luck. :D Love, Meggy

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  • 4 weeks later...

How do they dance if they don't have food in their stomach? I almost passed out when i didn't have food in my stomach in class. I only needed a snack how could these girls (and guys) do that to themselves?

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