Athlete Mental Health & Eating Disorders - a news & discussion thread

Sylvia

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Do you have a question about eating disorders and mental health in athletes? If so, email us at [email protected] by Wednesday so our speakers can address it in this week's EDGI Talk.
Join us via Facebook Live this Thursday, 7/2, at 1pm ET to hear Olympic figure skater Rachael Flatt and EDGI principal investigator Dr. Cynthia Bulik dive into this important topic!

I believe this webinar will also be streamed live via the EDGI Research Study's Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/p/CCB4YWUJe4E/

"The Eating Disorders Genetics Initiative (EDGI) is the largest-ever genetic research study of eating disorders."
 

Sylvia

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On a related topic:
U.S. champions and Olympic medalists Sasha Cohen and Gracie Gold will appear in the HBO Sports documentary film titled The Weight of Gold, which explores the mental health challenges that Olympic athletes often face.

Sasha Cohen and Gracie Gold are two of several decorated Olympians to appear in The Weight of Gold.
The film debuts on July 29 at 9 p.m. ET, at the same time the 2020 Olympic Summer Games were slated to be competed in Tokyo before the *********-19 ********* forced its postponement.
Thread started for this documentary in the Other Sports forum: https://www.fsuniverse.net/forum/threads/the-weight-of-gold-documentary.107339/
 

Sylvia

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Article by a graduate student at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism (June 29, 2020):
Excerpt:
Fueled by her desire to support fellow athletes experiencing the mental-health ramifications of competition, injury and media scrutiny, Flatt skated across the country to North Carolina in pursuit of a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. At the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, she joined Cynthia Bulik, an esteemed researcher in eating disorders.
The two are exploring the differences between eating disorders in athletes and non-athletes, and they recently received a grant to research using smartphones to predict when someone might be at risk for falling into troubled behavior.
“The goal of this is to eventually be able to predict when someone is going to binge or purge, that could be vomiting, excessively exercising, or using diuretics or laxatives, and sending them an intervention of some kind in that moment to prevent those behaviors from happening in the first place,” Flatt said.
 

Sylvia

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Sylvia

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Former Team USA ice dancer Elliana Pogrebinsky's lengthy, impassioned Instagram post: https://www.instagram.com/p/CCmRvt_p2DX/
"Being a former Team USA competitor gives me a unique insight in my career in the Kinesiology field. The stress placed especially on female athletes in a sport that is so aesthetically oriented can be detrimental to life long health."
(cont. at the link above)

Her April 2020 post is also worth reading: https://www.instagram.com/p/B_Q2ZHbjh3A/

ETA that Elliana Pogrebinsky subsequently replied on Twitter: "Exciting things coming soon about these topics! Stay tuned!!"
 
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Tada

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Article by a graduate student at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism (June 29, 2020):
Excerpt:
Rachael Flatt is a remarkable woman and I’m so grateful for the path she has chosen. People will not stop hating, people will not stop being cruel, and even worse is their enjoyment of hating and cruelty. Skating has factions with an outrageously toxic mindset and they don’t see at all how destructive they are , they even think their toxicity is fun. The only answer is to empower the minds of athletes with knowledge, compassion, and courage. And hopefully those that were empowered become coaches judges etc etc.that in turn teach, assist and so on in a professional mindful respectful manner. Bravo Rachael, you are a critically needed shining light in skating.
 

B.Cooper

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Flatt is also on the USOPC mental health task force. https://www.teamusa.org/Media/News/USOPC/04032020-USOPC-announces-Mental-Health-Taskforce

I believe she is fully vested in bringing health and wellness to the athletes.


In addition, an interesting article by Han Xiao, who is the chair of the AAC for the USOPC
 

Sylvia

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Elliana Pogrebinsky's follow-up post today: https://www.instagram.com/p/CCqjKXDp4jV/

Excerpt:

... My latest post about strength training and nutrition sparked amazing comments which has inspired me to start a series called Women in Sport. Each week starting in August, I will be talking on Instagram Live with a new skater on their personal experiences with the female triad (eating disorders, menstrual disturbances, and bone mineral loss), burnout, and Strength and Conditioning as well as getting insight from professionals in the field. The purpose will be to help other skaters and athletes know that they are not alone and see what their role models have been through. It is up to us as a community to come together and shed light on such important topics that are so easily overlooked. I am so excited to welcome my first guest, Amber Glenn, the 2019 CS U.S Classic Bronze Medalist, 2014 US Junior National winner, and two time Junior Grand Prix Bronze medalist. Our chat will be happening live on Instagram August 7th at 11 am PST. See you all there! #WomeninSport
 

Garden Kitty

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It's really great to see Rachael combine her academic interests and her experience as an Olympic athlete to help others and to speak up on issues that impact so many athletes. And Kudos to Eliana and other athletes who are willing to share their experiences. It may help young athletes realize they're not alone and that it's ok to seek help.
 

Sylvia

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Gracie Gold's message on Instagram today for "The Weight Of Gold" documentary premiering July 29th on HBO: https://www.instagram.com/p/CCv77MIHx3C/
“You don’t have to be grateful it isn’t worse.”
I didn’t understand that sentence for a long time. Olympians are seen as superheroes to most, the best of the best. We train our whole life to be perfect, we aren’t allowed any flaws. People tell us things like, “Your life is so perfect, why would you be SAD? Do you know how many people have it WORSE?” There is no pain Olympics, no medals for who can suffer the most. Our mental illnesses are valid.
When an Olympian breaks a bone, everyone rushes to help. The world is so accepting of our physical injuries...but what happens when our brain breaks? We get left in the dark. It’s ignorance. And that ignorance has created a world that doesn’t understand depression, that doesn’t understand mental health.
I’m so proud to be part of something as special as this film.
Sasha Cohen posted yesterday: https://www.instagram.com/p/CCrv8jvBSyK/
It's about time the complete story was told about the Olympian's journey and what we face as we retire from a lifelong pursuit to reach the pinnacle of our sport. This has been a long time in the making and I'm very excited to see it finally come together. #mentalhealth #olympians #olympics
 

Sylvia

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2-minute trailer for The Weight of Gold documentary is out (includes clips of Sasha competing & being interviewed and brief glimpses of Gracie training):
 

Sylvia

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Gia Kokotakis (2015 U.S. Intermediate Ladies bronze medalist at age 12 who last competed at Pacific Coast Sectionals in November 2017, placing 6th in Junior - her YT channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/Kokotakis/videos ) wrote about her eating disorder story in an essay titled "Skating Culture Needs to Change and Here's Why" that's being shared by fellow skaters on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/CDDFnS4Jd7i/

Her "Staying postive about ED recovery" post: https://www.instagram.com/p/CDAfc8vJEc5/

Her IG profile includes her college plans - Georgetown ‘24.

ETA that Gia first shared her story publicly back in February ("Since I was 14, I have struggled with body dysmorphia, anorexia, and bulimia."): https://www.instagram.com/p/B9H_gxbJkWd/
 
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Sylvia

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Excerpts re. Sasha & Gracie:
They participate in vastly different sports — swimming, figure skating, track and field, bobsledding, etc. But their stories follow a common theme. They sacrificed a normal life to compete. Many don’t make much money. And after their time in the spotlight ends, however brightly it might have shined, they struggled to adapt to life outside their sport. Who retires in their 20s or 30s, Phelps asks.
Cohen is especially poignant on this topic, talking about taking a bus for athletes to the venue to compete and knowing when she got back on her fate would be sealed, one way or the other.
The interviews are fascinating, particularly those with [Lolo] Jones and Cohen, neither of whom won gold but both of whom came agonizingly close.
...
Gold, whose struggle with depression was chronicled at length by the New York Times, is a forceful voice for change, for more help for those who need it — as is Phelps. Gold is urgent in her demands, Phelps quiet but insistent. Both are effective.
 

Sylvia

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Olympic Channel interview with Gracie Gold by Nick McCarvel:
Excerpt:
My favorite part of skating was always the training leading up to whatever the (competition) was, and then going and competing. That whole process. Now, it really is (still) my favourite part. Intentionally, I make sure that it's still my favourite part.
One thing I did let go of a lot is the opinions that other people had because I really fell (into a pattern where) it was important how others perceived me, because that's the sport that we live in. But it's really only important how the panel of judges sees that one moment. It's not a lifelong thing. I used to feel like I needed to be the hottest person at the grocery store. Why?
But I realized that version of me that other people created in their minds is not my responsibility. Which was a big kind of eye-opening concept and statement for me, because I used to feel like, ‘That's what Gracie Gold would do.’ But I am Gracie Gold. We are the same person.
Letting go of it, you know, letting go of some of those things and there's still more work to do there. But, one bomb drop at a time. That’s my interaction with the media and my fans these days.
 
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Sylvia

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Thank you to the Admin. who changed/shortened my original thread title. :)

Elliana Pogrebinsky is launching a "Women in Athletics" series on her YT channel (link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChNNdJb7ehMN7CUxR4uAP5A/ ), and her first conversation will be on Saturday with U.S. Figure Skating's head nutritionist (Amber Glenn is scheduled for a chat soon).

ETA:
 
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Sylvia

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In the video linked above ^^^, I especially liked Carrie Aprik's replies re. the importance of having objective data from body composition testing(starting at 6:30) that factors in the weight of growing bones, added muscle, etc. & "what is the line between eating disorders & the strictness of an elite athlete's diet?"(after 25:00). Also available to view as an IGTV video: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CDWpvW-JGuV/

Pogrebinsky's post today reveals that USFS currently has only 2 contracted dietitians working for them. : https://www.instagram.com/p/CDbjwL0pbwb/

U.S. junior ice dancer Ella Ales ("swipe to read: my thoughts on eating disorders within the skating community. please reach out if you are struggling and want to talk!!❤"): https://www.instagram.com/p/CDaiU5AJOGZ/
 
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B.Cooper

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I am hopeful that all of these folks host accredited guests, with a broad spectrum of experiences, from the sports psych side, to EDs, to mental health, to nutrition, much like Elliana Pogrebinsky, who spoke with Carrie Aprik. Wagner is just starting out in college...with four years ahead of her, while Polina may have more of the journalistic approach to her podcasts. Will be interesting to see how all of these approaches work out.....
 

Sylvia

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Elliana Pogrebinsky is launching a "Women in Athletics" series on her YT channel (link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChNNdJb7ehMN7CUxR4uAP5A/ ), and her first conversation will be on Saturday with U.S. Figure Skating's head nutritionist (Amber Glenn is scheduled for a chat soon)
Link to Elliana’s chat with Amber (“Topics include body positivity, mental health, eating disorder like behavior, and finding what is right for your own body.”):
 

Sylvia

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Polina Edmunds’ latest podcast is about “balancing school & skating” (she welcomes feedback via her Instagram): https://www.instagram.com/p/CDw-uAEJHGN/?igshid=lz8blywaz6hn

Direct link to listen: https://bleav.com/podcast/skatings-ends-education-is-forever/
Let’s talk balancing school and skating! First I talk my schedule growing up in public schooling, why I wasn’t homeschooled, how school can help with anxiety/nerves, and then some drama on USFS lack of support for my double life. Ends with some happy memories of my High School Olympic Sendoff & Stars On Ice Prom 🙂
 

Sylvia

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Elliana Pogrebinsky recently interviewed Gracie for her "Women in Athletics" series:
"Topics include internal stress, US Figure Skating resources, education for coaches, and an emphasis on opening a line of communication with your coaches."

Also:
"Enjoy this passionate chat between myself, former Team USA Ice Dancer, and Aly Bilash, a former singles and pairs skater who is now a Certified Massage Therapist with a B.S. in Kinesiology. Topics include aspects that could be done better in U.S. Figure Skating, lack of education, why you need a personalized training program, and a special focus on injuries."
 

Sylvia

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Elliana Pogrebinsky's latest "Women in Athletics" conversations:

"Enjoy this lighthearted chat with ... Christina Carreira... Topics include how nutritionists can help, how to deal with teammates that are also competitors, understanding the how behind weight loss, and the importance of physical therapists as well as sport psychologists."

"... Michael Haumesser, a ISSA certified Strength and Conditioning Coach with five years of experience working with Figure Skaters. Topics include common issues female athletes face, if strength training makes women "bulky", periodization, and early specialization in sport."
 

Sylvia

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Kiira Korpi conversed with retired Estonian figure skater (singles & ice dance) Johanna Allik about eating disorders in skating in her most recent IG Live: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CEo_T9gl2se/

Johanna's YouTube channel with in which she shared her personal stories about her skating career (playlist of 9 videos):

Kiira also spoke with performance psychologist Jatta Muhonen last month, discussing emotional abuse & athlete wellbeing:
Part 1/2: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CEXCDQTFTkS/
Part 2/2: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CEXKcGjFizk/
 

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