As I am surrounded with the March Madness basketball tournament in my house, I figured it is a
good time to write about my experience with basketball and how it played into my life and my
Rewind back to 1999, I was a freshman in high school. I was a straight A student, competitive
gymnast, and a basketball starter. This year is obviously a major transition in the life of a
teenager as they enter high school. For me, it marked a fresh divorce for my seemingly “perfect
family” in my hometown, the end of my seven year competitive gymnastics career, and the
beginning of life as a high schooler. But, I wasn’t really concerned with any of that. What
stands out to me about 1999 is the year I first encountered disordered eating. Now what does
this have to do about March Madness?? Here’s the dirty truth I rarely tell anyone.
November 1999. The only thought I really had about my weight was the fact that I was no
longer practicing gymnastics 15 hours a week. How was the lessening of that activity going to
effect my weight? I was 5’5, 130 pounds of muscle. I didn’t really have a weight problem to
concern myself with. However, I remember one Saturday morning I had a banana before
basketball practice. I remember snacking on some pretzels after practice but not really eating
lunch. Then I went out to dinner with my sisters and my dad where I ate half a turkey sub with
some chips. Yes, I remember this exactly. The next morning, I weighed 127 pounds. Cue
eating disorder. I hesitate to really know what to call it. All I know is that I liked weighing less.
And I wanted to keep weighing less. If eating that way made the number on the scale go down,
well, let’s keep eating that way! Let’s see how much weight I can lose. Not to brag but, I
became pretty good at it. So good at it, I would cut back on everything I ate. I would fake a
bowl of milk in the sink like I ate cereal for breakfast. I would snack on Cheerios during the day
and maybe a fruit cup. If my fruit cup was 80 calories, I went on the treadmill in gym class and
burned 80 calories. This decreasing of food, plus my basketball practices for 2 hours a day,
went on for about a month. I believe it was in December when I passed out at my Saturday
morning basketball practice. Face down in layup lines. I remember waking up to my friend’s
mom bringing me a mountain dew. My mom took me to the doctor and I had lost nearly 20
pounds. At that point, doctor’s orders restrained me from participating in gym class AND
I ended up missing my entire basketball season. I proceeded to lose ten more pounds. My
clothes fell off me. My butt KILLED sitting on hard classroom chairs. I was always freezing. I
would sit on my floor heating vent at home just to stay warm. Friends were concerned. Friends’
parents were concerned. And I was majorly effecting my family. But, I didn’t seem to care. I
was miserable but I couldn’t stop. HOW COULD I NOT CARE THAT I WAS SITTING AT THE
SCORE TABLE DOING THE SCOREBOOK WHEN I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE ONE OF THE
TOP BASKETBALL PLAYERS??? How was that ok with me? How did that not embarrass me?
I LOVED BASKETBALL. I WAS GOOD AT BASKETBALL. I WAS STRONG. I WAS
ATHLETIC. I WAS A HUSTLER. But all I was allowed to do was keep score and cheer from
the sidelines. The control of my food and weight had taken over my love of basketball. And I
could not stop it.
This blog isn’t supposed to be about my eating disorder, I can do that later or share more with
clients if you really want to know how I beat it. I missed my entire freshman season because of
my obsession to lose weight. I knew I was competitive, but that was NOT the way to channel it.
I tell you this to show you that even though you may see a healthy body, its nothing without a
healthy mind. It has taken me over a decade to begin to get my mind healthy. I want to help
anyone who is obsessing over the scale, calories, or body image. I want you to live and not be
on the sidelines of your own life. I want you to know that you can heal the madness. And most
of all, I want you to know that the ball is in your court.