Great Mills, MD
Extreme exercise has become a lethal and devastating addiction in Erika’s life. From a once happy and carefree woman, Erika has transformed into a toxic, destructive, and dangerously unhealthy person who can’t control or escape her obsession. The ones who see the side effects the most are her family. Erika has been married to her husband Jason for seven years. The couple has a two-year-old daughter named Cheyanne Grace. Erika has struggled with her weight her entire life. At her heaviest Erika weighed 253lbs, had a BMI of 45%, and at a height of 5’3” inches she was considered morbidly obese. For many years the couple struggled to conceive. Only after Erika miscarried did the couple decide to visit a fertility specialist who told them that she needed to lose weight in order to get pregnant. Through the use of phentermine (a prescription weight loss pill), she dropped 70 pounds and was finally able to have a baby. During her pregnancy she had medical complications and was eventually diagnosed with bradycardia (a cardiac disease characterized by a very slow heart rate) leaving her with legions on her brain. To this day, Erika isn’t sure if these ailments are related to the extreme amounts of exercise she was doing or from the prescription pills that she was taking, or a combination of both. Erika was able to give birth to a healthy daughter and considers Cheyanne her “miracle baby.” After this diagnosis she was on bed rest for several weeks where she gained back all of her weight and ballooned back to 250lbs. This weight gain, along with a desire to be a fit and present mother, propelled Erika to make a drastic lifestyle change.
Erika has since lost over 120lbs through extreme diet and exercise. To push herself further, Erika started competitive body-building and has nearly lost herself in a dangerous obsession for the perfect physique. She works out between 3-4 hours per day, seven days a week. Nearly half of each session is high intensity cardio, on the stair climber or on the treadmill, the other hour or two is spent weight lifting. Erika admits that she works out to the point where she is nauseated and can't move. Jason has even found her lying on the bathroom floor suffering from extreme low blood sugar. Erika has excess skin from losing so much weight and she battles every day trying to hide it, especially while on stage in a bikini. She is mortified of gaining weight and returning to her former self.
Her exercise addiction is causing irreparable harm to her personal relationships. Erika believes her addiction has made her a selfish and mean person, a terrible mother, and a failure as a wife and daughter. Erika has been told by friends and family members that she is consumed by the gym. Erika’s mother believes that she needs to focus on being a mom to her “miracle baby.” The two have constant fights about her exercising. Jason thinks that his wife is starting to look sick and unhealthy. She misses out on family gatherings, she hasn’t seen her best friend for nearly three months, whereas before they would be together every weekend. Erika is neglecting her motherly duties and not taking her daughter out of the house, except when going to the gym.
Financially it has ruined the family. They have spent thousands of dollars on competitions, supplements, costumes, training, coaching, etc. They even had to move in with Erika’s mother because they couldn’t afford their own place any longer. It has left the family completely broke. Erika has shown up late to work and has even called in sick so she could either recover from or spend more time in the gym. She has had fights with her boss and nearly lost her job. After all of the hardships, Erika still feels compelled to work out.
At an extremely low moment, Erika had an affair with a body builder who started her on a cycle of steroids. She separated from Jason, causing a painful rift in their marriage. The steroids drastically changed not only Erika’s physical appearance, but her hormones and emotions. She bulked up incredibly quickly and would become aggressive to everyone around her. Erika’s been in fights with strangers, she’s snap at her daughter, she’s thrown things and would get angry from out of nowhere, eventually shifting and withdrawing into a shadow of her former self. She has since left the body builder and is trying to repair the relationship with her husband. It’s a day by day process of healing in her marriage and as Erika weans herself off the steroids, the physical and emotional effects still linger.
Addiction to exercise is putting Erika’s life in danger. A pre-existing heart condition, high-intensity cardio along with steroid use has put Erika at an extremely high-risk of a heart attack. She is terrified that her heart will go out during a workout. She also has legions on her brain and has given herself exercise induced migraines. Unless Erika accepts help to make swift actions to drastically alter her exercise schedule, life as she knows it will cease to exist. Jason, Erika’s mother, as well as her family and friends are willing to get her the help that she desperately needs before it’s too late.