Eating disorders affect everyone, regardless of age, gender, overall health or fitness levels. Indeed, even elite athletes can suffer from conditions such as these and it can have a terrible impact on their ability to compete, as well as their overall physical and mental health. This is why we caught up with triathlete and member of the Everyone Active Sporting Champions scheme Eloise du Luart, to find out more about her anorexia and how it affected her both in competition and away from races.
Eating Disorders and the Search for Speed
Speaking at an Everyone Active Sporting Champions event, Eloise admits that it was a search for more speed as a teenage runner that first led her towards changing her eating habits. She was told that if she was lighter if she ate certain things, or did things her coach told her to, she’d be faster. Naively (by her own admission), she began to change her eating habits to fit these new parameters and, sure enough, she began to get quicker and win some races.
This was not yet a full-blown eating disorder, anorexia hadn’t taken hold of her just yet but, she had started on that journey. Soon, it turned into more than just a push for more speed, for more wins. It became an obsession and, subsequently, a five year battle with anorexia.
The Physical Effects of Anorexia
Everyone knows that anorexia – among other eating disorders – can cause dramatic weight loss but not everyone knows what effect this weight loss can have on your body. Eloise, for example, suffered from multiple stress fractures and spent a significant amount of time in hospital purely because she was not strong enough to support her bones. Anorexia, especially in females, is heavily linked with osteoporosis and weak bones.
The Mental Effects of Anorexia
At this point, Eloise still believed that she was on the path to success and that all these travails were just bumps in the road to glory. Unsurprisingly, this was not the case. She had gone too far. She now realises that lighter doesn’t necessarily mean faster, even admitting that having a six pack, while it would be nice, wouldn’t make her a faster swimmer, or a better cyclist.
The Road to Recovery
Slowly but surely, Eloise built up her strength, thanks not least to the access to world-class advice that her membership of the Everyone Active Sporting Champions Scheme gave her access to. She cites the example of hurdling legend – and Sporting Champions ambassador – Colin Jackson, who helped her realise she’s not alone and while there are some tough days that must be endured, if you stay strong, you can make it through.
A healthy diet is all about balance and, unless you achieve that balance, your performance will suffer eventually.