Weigh a maximum of 90 pounds. Eat no more than 800 calories a day. Exercise for at least four hours. Get through the four-to-six hour-long skating lessons without fainting. Attain perfection.
This was the mindset of a young and then-anorexic Lindsey Klein. Now a senior majoring in biology, Klein is able to reflect on her past and use it as a tool to help motivate others.
“People think [anorexia is] just about looks, [but] it wasn’t about being skinny for me,” Klein explained. “I hardly looked in the mirror. It was about the number on the scale, and being obsessed about the number.”
Klein began ice skating when she was a little over two years old, and became more invested in the sport when she began ice dancing at age seven. Getting a partner for her sport was so competitive that skating began to take over her life. At age 14, she finally attained her goal of getting a partner. Their coach was a strict, two-time Olympic champion.
At their first competition, Klein said they performed horribly.
“I was already really upset,” Klein said, “and when we got off of the ice the coach said to me: ‘Lindsey, the reason why you did so badly is because you’re too fat. You’re not allowed to eat anymore. You can only have water and lettuce.’”
After two weeks on a juice diet that made her pass out and marked the beginning of an unhealthy relationship with food, Klein received heartbreaking news. Her partner’s mother called to say that her son needed to skate with someone skinnier.
Klein slipped into a deep depression. She couldn’t hold conversations and couldn’t concentrate long enough to watch TV without getting irritated, let alone study. She refused to go out to dinner or to parties, afraid that she’d be tempted to eat poorly, even deeming foods like bananas unsafe. All she cared about were numbers.
“Nothing would go in my mouth unless it was weighed out and measured in some sort of way,” Klein said. “I would weigh myself about three times a day.”
On top of starving herself, she worked out for four hours a day in addition to practices.
At age 16, Klein got a new partner, began homeschooling and moved to a training facility in Delaware with a new set of coaches. During her first week there, she fainted on the ice. Luckily, her new coaches helped her find the right dietitian and her parents refused to let her skate unless she got help.
While the first dietitian didn’t get through to her, she clicked with the second one, Cristina Rivera, R.D.
“She really knew which words to say to me, and knew how to reach me and understand what I was going through,” Klein said.
Rivera introduced 50 calories into Klein’s diet each week, and eventually, Klein noticed that the more she ate, the more she enjoyed life.
“I was able to hold conversations and have relationships and that’s what kept me going,” Klein said. “The food was the medicine … I didn’t understand that before.”
As Klein’s health improved, her relationship with exercise changed. During her junior year at Binghamton, she became an AFAA-certified group fitness instructor, and currently teaches Barre Burn at the East Gym.
Now in her fifth year here, Klein has decided to become a registered dietitian and help people the same way her dietitian helped her. To get experience, she worked at an outpatient eating disorder clinic two years ago, and has shadowed under celebrity dietitians Keri Glassman and Tanya Zuckerbrot. She plans to spend this summer developing an eight-week program to help people like herself overcome this disease.
Klein is currently working with life coach Mike Guerreri of Style Coach NYC to develop her Instagram, YouTube and Facebook pages, all under the name “fitlindspiration,” to reach out via social media to those struggling with eating disorders.
Living up to the name of her Instagram, she is truly aiming to be an inspiration for those who struggled, just as she did.