Athletic Excellence, Hidden Struggle


The same fear of failure that helped Lenore succeed in athletics was her greatest challenge when it came to her eating disorder.

As an elite athlete, Lenore views the risk of failure as a driving force to persevere and achieve. From a young age, she surrounded herself with teammates who shared this warrior-like mindset, but when it came to body image, this fear of failure was harmful.

“I’ve always had an issue with self-esteem and body image,” Lenore explains. “I’ve always had an ingrained fear of becoming fat, which escalated throughout my teenage years and as I surrounded myself with athletes and athletic body ideals.”

Athletes are often seen as health icons, but Lenore explains being an elite swimmer and rower was exactly what allowed her to hide what she was doing. “You’re expected to train lots, to continually push yourself and to be regimented,” she says. Rigid meal planning, food restriction and excessive workout routines are ordinary in the athletic world, but Lenore knew her relationship with food and exercise was extreme and dangerous.

What I didn’t realize though, was that the end of athletics meant the beginning of my recovery.

“Even though I knew my behaviour was harmful, I was afraid that my coaches and teammates would discover my eating disorder and the severity of it,” she says. “My behaviour would have had me kicked off of the university team, but it was robotic and unchangeable. I was stuck in a strict, scary and isolating cycle.”

Approaching graduation, Lenore feared no longer being able to hide her eating disorder behind the guise of athletics. “What I didn’t realize though, was that the end of athletics meant the beginning of my recovery.”

Lenore lost friends and her health. She experienced shooting chest pains and as a result of excessive running, developed stress fractures in her feet. Entering a new chapter of her life that no longer involved sports, she found new motivation to seek professional treatment.

While she continues to struggle internally, through treatment she has discovered new strengths outside of athletics. She has learned how to be kind and gentle to herself and how to cope with her fear of failure, and with a warrior-like mindset, she perseveres.

Help others like Lenore access the right treatment.

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