Bulimia disease is a special situation, since it is a hidden disease. Bulimics suffer guilt over their behavior and have low self esteem. They are often perfectionists and usually excel in academics and or athletics, but are rarely satisfied with their achievements.
These people suffer from a self imposed social isolation, not just from the secrecy of their disease or preoccupation with food, but from the fear of going out of control around friends or someone they know. Fifty percent of anorexics also are bulimics.
Victims of these disorders have their self image tied to an obsession about their weight. Initially, they may get positive strokes for the weight loss suggested by the coach. This only feeds their already distorted image of themselves.
Once entered into the cycle, athletes with anorexia nervosa can reduce themselves literally to skin and bones, loosing between 15 to 25 percent of their body weight. In both anorexia and bulimia, exercise is almost always done alone and for the singular purpose of burning up calories.
One study found that 75 percent of anorexics engage in strenuous exercise. Individuals using exercise as a purge may be hard pressed to realize and accept that there is any harm in their behavior. A is the case with dieting, exercise will be praised and seen as a virtue by others.
There is more pressure on some categories to have a learn and mean physique. These include weight classified sports (wrestling, boxing, judo) the sports that require speed and or vertical motion, where they are moving their body against gravity (track and field, gymnastics, running) and those where the physique is highly visible (figure skating, gymnastics, dance, diving).
These are the athletes that we know are under the most pressure to achieve a low percentage of body fat. If in addition to that, you also have someone who is susceptible to society’s pressures to being thin, then you have a prime candidate for an eating disorder.