Get Your Teen Weekly Newsletter in your inbox! Sign Up
YourTeenMag Logo

Teen Boys And Eating Disorders: A Recovery Story

“The alarm goes off. Before I hit the snooze or get up, I get my calculator. I have to know how long I have slept. This is the first calculation. I move to the kitchen, writing down what time I began standing because the more I am on my feet, the less guilt I will feel about what I am about to do: eat. Then I measure my food, make my calculations and write them down. I repeat this after every meal and with every activity. I’m owned by a minute-to-minute summary of how many calories I have consumed and how many calories I have burned.”

I admitted to having an eating disorder when I was in college studying health and fitness, but my attitude and obsessions around food and body image began at a young age. As a child, I remember being extremely critical of myself if my peers said anything even mildly negative about me.

At the age of 11, the first time I put on any weight, I began going through periods of self-starvation. My parents’ support and love helped me keep these periods short, but they worsened at the age of 17 when I lost my father to cancer. For years, I went through periods of binging followed by periods of dieting. Dieting diverted my focus away from my pain.

After university, I became interested in health and fitness, hoping to find a way to eat a normal meal and end this battle. I began endurance training and applied to college to become a trainer. At this point, my behaviors around exercise and food escalated. Everything became a calculation. When my weight first began to drop, I was complimented. Students and teachers assumed I was just a very lean runner, but as my weight plummeted and my energy diminished, a few people began to ask me if something was wrong. I made excuses, blamed the stress of school and a lack of sleep, and continued my life in secret.

Over time, my anorexia became extreme, and I began to binge and purge daily. Finally, I fell apart during an exercise class. I could not keep up.

I was ashamed of my lack of energy and what I had done to myself for so long.

My coping mechanism no longer allowed me to function in the day-to-day, let alone through a strenuous exercise routine. Standing in a room surrounded by mirrors that gave me full view of every angle of myself became too much. That was the first time I could see what having an eating disorder had done to me.

It has been two years of self-directed recovery work. I never did in-patient therapy because I didn’t want to drop out of school and quit my job. Because a close relative did in-patient recovery, I had connections and resources. I began group therapy at Sheena’s Place to help build a tool kit of strategies to deal with certain behaviors. Then, I set monthly goals to make small changes in behavior, one at a time.

As I got healthier, I became more aware of other issues I had not acknowledged, so I started seeing a psychiatrist, and he has really helped me to move forward.

As someone who currently works in health and fitness, I am glad to have been through this. Much of my industry is driven by physical appearance, but I am committed to helping others to focus on health, not a look, a size or a fat percentage.

This article was one in a series about male eating disorders, including boys vs. girls.
Read more perspectives: Parent 1,  Parent 2Teen 2 ,  Expert 1, and Expert 2.

Jay Walker

Jay Walker is a Certified Personal Trainer through The Canadian Society of Exercise Physiologists of Canada.

Related Articles
GET YTM IN YOUR INBOX!Receive our weekly newsletter with the latest articles, media, and resources.
Could It Be Depression?How to Know When to Worry, and Steps Parents Can Take to Help