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My Athletic Body Hid My Bulimia for Years

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The first time I made myself throw up was an experiment. Sophomore year of high school, a girl in my class described to me how she'd tried to but couldn't. I could do that, I thought. That afternoon in my bathroom, I proved that I could.

I'll stop throwing up after a few times, I told myself as days went by. I’ll stop after four times, or five, or seven, or nine, I thought, until I lost count. I'll admit I felt a certain pride in myself, in the beginning. Suddenly, I had something that set me apart—something serious and secret and, it seemed to me, grown-up.

Better yet, the new me could surrender to the incomparable comfort of bingeing without weight gain, since food now left my body as quickly as it entered. I hid out with a six-pack of jumbo cookies, and seven minutes later they were gone. I dumped spoonful after spoonful of dry, yellow cake mix into my mouth, alone in the kitchen late at night. I didn’t wear the evidence and disposed of packaging discreetly—and since I lived with three teenage brothers, I escaped the blame for food gone missing by default.

I made the varsity boat of my rowing club not long after I started throwing up. After that, my body was no longer just a body. It was the body of a rower who would lose her seat in the boat if she hit 130 pounds. It was also the body of a girl who had just discovered that she could consume limitless quantities of food without gaining weight, as long as she threw them up. Before long, “could” ended and “had to” began, and I added binging/purging (“b/p,” as eating-disorder blogs taught me to call it) to my list of extracurriculars. Reeling from 4:45 a.m. practice, I ate peanut butter and raisins on bread until my stomach churned and I emptied its contents and flushed them away. At home after school, before afternoon practice, I inhaled slices of leftover birthday cake only to eject them before another 2,000-meter time test on the erg. I was exhausted, I was ravenous, and I was embarrassed. I was 5'10" and 129.9 pounds. [Read the full story on Refinery29!]


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