“ONE DAY YOUR ARMS WILL BE STRONG ENOUGH TO HOLD ME”
In May 2017, Jelmer Siemons and Frank Nusteen of the Start2Move Training Center, as a delegate from the Netherlands, participated in Croatia in the EU-cofunded project “Brighter Side of Exercise” with the aim of Raising awareness of the importance of health-enhancing physical activities in the treatment of anorexia and its role in the process of reintegration into society.
A group of specialists from all over Europe with different disciplines gathered in beautiful sunny Zagreb, Croatia to bundle their knowledge and qualities into one major European plan of action. Croatia, the country where the independence war ended 23 years ago, and the country segregated from the Republic of Yugoslavia may be synonymous with the subject of these days Anorexia Nervosa; Have years of war with yourself and your environment characterized by deep dark valleys, where you eventually hope to say goodbye to your eating disorder and your obsessive thoughts in the hope that the sun will continue to shine for you.
KICK OFF DECEMBER 2016
During the kick-off in December, the question was launched whether it is justified to do sports activities with people suffering from anorexia and, if so, what activities. A person with anorexia wants to burn calories to lower body weight. You don’t want this as a therapist but sporting activities will restore calorie burn. In addition, the bone density and muscle mass of an anorexia suffering person are often greatly reduced, which means that you must be very careful about the impact of exercise on the body. Last but not least, the psychological aspect plays an important part. In fact, the most important part and have you been trained for that part as a trainer? After reading this, you may need to ask yourself if you want this as a personal trainer and you may not even be able to help as a trainer.
RECOGNIZE, RECOMMEND & HELP SILENTLY
Recognize, recommend & help silently are according to Dr. Med. Spec. Psychiatrist Hrvoje Handl three important rules during the first acquaintance with an (optional) anorexia patient. Recognize; Recognize the eating disorder. That girl or boy who cries with you because she/he wants to lose weight but what you think (know) she’s/he’s actually too thin. Recommend; Indicate that you may not be the one who can help her as a trainer. Advise her to seek help from a specialist. Help silently; Help in the background by listening to her/him, taking her/him seriously and not pushing too much in a wrong direction for her/he’s feelings.
Did you know that many people with an eating disorder often walk with a big smile on their face? However, they do not exercise for fun but pure because of the obsession to burn additional calories. The obsessive sports we call this. Every burned calorie is taken. Ask a person with anorexia to sit for 5 minutes. Soon he/she will have to rush to the toilet. Not to pee but to burn some calories again by walking back and forth.
During the health-enhancing physical activities of an anorexia patient, we use multiple training phases. From phase 1, the person has just been realised from the clinic and normal daily activities are experienced as a challenge, until the last stage in which a healthy BMI (weight in relation to height) has been achieved and the person is almost in fitness state as a beginner. The main question is what sports activities are appropriate per phase and how do you judge as a trainer that someone is ready for the next phase?
Some of these questions have already been completed in the last few days. In September 2017 we will continue this during a 5-day conference in Pula, Croatia where professionals, as well as experts-by-experience, come together to complete this important project which will ultimately lead to a clear plan on the importance of health-enhancing physical activities in the treatment of Anorexia and it’s role in the process of (re)-integration into society.
Frank Nusteen: Here is my opinion and what Start2Move can do in the Netherlands.
Like most (personal) trainers in the Netherlands, I am also trained to make people healthier and especially to reduce body fat percentage.
In the eating disorder anorexia, priority 1 is to gain in body weight and body fat percentage. Ask the average Dutchman or woman and he/she says you just have to eat more! Simple!
But what turns out it’s so much more difficult than it seems. Anorexia is an eating disorder that is 99% psychological in nature and so much more complex than I thought at first. As a personal trainer, I work with people who want to be more beautiful, want to look better. If you accompany an anorexia patient, you work with people who want to stay alive and there is so much left behind than just eating a little more. The BSOE project has opened my eyes to this disturbance even further and my interest has grown a lot.
We, as a training center Start2Move, train (personal) trainers to specialists in the field of training and nutrition. In the field of anorexia nervosa, there is a lot to learn for the average trainers, and I believe that we can play a big part in our education, especially because we are the largest training institute in fitness, sports and nutrition in the Netherlands.
There is still a lot to learn about this subject for the average trainer in the Netherlands, but Start2Move has now taken the first major step.