Adam Rippon on Quiet Starvation in Men’s Figure Skating

Among male skaters, body issues are more of an open secret, less likely to be addressed publicly by the competitors but evident to anyone in their world.

Comments: 213

  1. From this article, it sounds as if one of the problems is the judges. Not only do skaters need to reconsider what they're eating, but the judges need to be re-educated about healthy body weight. And why should a skater's body weight be considered by judges at all - isn't their role to evaluate the skater's ability? This is an athletic endeavor, not a beauty contest, right? Or are looks still considered an indication of skill?

  2. I'm guessing it stems from dancing, which does judge based on body type as part of the overall aesthetic. I don't agree with that, but I'd bet that's why the judges consider a certain body type more aesthetically appealing in a figure skater/dancer.

  3. Ask Tonya Harding.

  4. How quaint! The idea that looks won't count. The simple reality is that looks mean a tremendous amount in an event with such a large subjective (read: "artistic") component. There are technical scores -- and there are artistic scores. And you can't be "artistic" if you don't look good doing it. You can't be "artistic" if your "line" (read: your physical form) isn't "clean". Just ask the judges. Oh wait! Don't bother.

  5. How shocking and sad to read this. Adam has my sincere hope he can recognize his amazing gifts as he goes forward and appreciate his body for what it is. As a former dancer, I can relate and sympathize, and at age 67 I still have body issues. In my day dancers were supposed to be as lean as possible and never show muscle mass of any sort, all in the interest of a better "line". As a woman, I had no idea male figure skaters could be burdened with this issue.

  6. Competitive cycling suffers from this issue as well. "Eat like a bird, train like a horse" is a common motivator. I suspect eating disorders are made worse among males because there is an added shame that "eating healthy" or not gorging yourself is somehow anti-masculine (at least in the United States), thus the male victim has even more reason to hide his eating habits from his friends and family.

  7. God love him, he manages to bring public awareness to important social issues while managing to make me laugh out loud at the same time.

    Best quotes:

    “I looked around and saw my competitors, they’re all doing these quads, and at the same time they’re a head shorter than me, they’re 10 years younger than me and they’re the size of one of my legs.”

    "“I don’t feel any guilt eating this. But there is a part of me that’s thinking, ‘How nice. I’m treating myself to creamy dressing.'"

    Arutyunyan is no slouch in the hilarity department himself:

    "It’s kind of abusive or maybe they can get sick. But basically, same time I’m thinking, ‘O.K., how I can make elephant to fly?’”

    It honestly never even occurred to me that weight is obviously going to play a role in successfully executing those insane rotation jumps they have to do -- and I should know better. So, point taken -- thanks for the education.

  8. Reminds me of a Bolshoi Academy ballet video I recently watched on Youtube. The Director says: "If legs start look like sausages, what can we do? Then he exclaims...We must throw them OUT!” Russians are so bluntly picturesque.

  9. So Adam Rippon has a problem with Mike Pence and with eating disorders. Fascinating. When do we get to read about gold medals.

  10. Coverage of the results is hardly lacking.

  11. He has a Olympic bronze medal. And you?

  12. Are we surprised that male and female figure skaters , as well as ballet dancers, have eating disorders? While these very talented athletes entertain us, do they do so at their own peril.? As audience members do we have some responsibility in perpetuating these unreasonable body images. I think as a culture we speak , on one hand of our worry about the epidemic of eating disorders, while , on the other hand , we watch and tune in to these performances. Are we complicit in all of this ?

  13. We probably have as much complicity as when we watch the CTE league, I mean NFL.

  14. Agreed
    One of the reasons the fan base is getting smaller.

  15. This has gotten totally out of hand. I no longer find any pleasure in watching Olympic gymnastics or skating. In both sports, "achievement" is accomplished by sacrifices that are far beyond what one could reasonably expect from high achievers. It's perverse and totally destroys the souls of these performers. It's just wrong...

  16. Thank you for your beautiful and compelling honesty

  17. it's extraordinary that Adam Rippon was able to function at the professional level on three slices of bread with fake butter-margarine. That dietary intervention seems fortunate.
    For me, this article on the topic of quiet starvation has echoes of a harrowing read, the novel Hunger by the Norwegian Nobel prize winning writer Knut Hamsun (1890). In this case, a poverty-stricken writer is finding it hard to write: "...and why shouldn't the inspiration come over me at any moment? My health was better now; I got a little food every day from the landlady, some bread and butter morning and evening, and my nervous state had almost disappeared.… I could look down into the street from my second story window without becoming dizzy. I was much better in every way, and therefore I was a little surprised that I hadn't already finished my allegory. I didn't understand what the trouble was.…[Then] I got a glimpse of how weak I had really become, and how sluggish and incompetent my brain was..." (From the 1967 translation, Farrar Strauss Giroux, pp. 188-189). [The protagonist writer finds he has trouble not only completing a publishable piece, but understanding simple fractions when asked to tabulate a list by his landlady.]

    One needs nutrition beyond a piece of bread with butter morning and night as a writer, especially after a period of starvation which causes one's hair to fall out, and I imagine one needs a great deal more as a professional athlete.

    Good luck to Mr. Rippon.

  18. Bread and FAKE butter!

  19. Really, you have to ask why you don't hear about eating problems in men? It's because no one cares! They have no victim cards to play, so they are ignored (or blamed for everyone else's problems).

  20. "The day after Rippon was named to the Olympic team in San Jose, Calif., he went to a restaurant and tucked into a lunch of leafy greens tossed in Caesar dressing and topped with pieces of seared ahi tuna."

    -- That is shocking. It would be my healthy meal of the week if I ate salad with Tuna. I really hope there are no longterm health problems due to a diet like this. I also hope Adam is happy in his life, and that the sacrifices he made are worth it.

  21. Sorry --- but 'starving' Olympic athletes is another must-fix first-world problem.

  22. A splurge for them is a diet meal for everyone else!

  23. Sad but true.

  24. Good luck Adam! Your skating is beautiful.

  25. Jen, would he be able to skate as he does carrying 50 more pounds?

  26. It might help if we stopped using the pretentiously erudite-because-British phrase "tucked into" when describing the act of dining, which reinforces food as comfort rather than sustenance.

  27. Seriously? That is your takeaway from this?

  28. Thank you for this important story, and for quoting the statistics from the National Eating Disorders Association. What is missing is the fact that anorexia has the highest rate of mortality of any mental health illness. We MUST educate ourselves and our kids about the dangers of disordered eating -- of all types -- and the serious health effects, which in addition to death, include a host of maladies. Please check out to learn about the research and treatment of disordered eating.

  29. I couldn't agree more, and it is also important to show that eating disorders can strike at any age, and any gender. I am appalled at comments which are dismissive of Mr. Rippon's illness. It happens that he is a well-known person, but plenty of others are suffering and Mr. Rippon is using his fame to offer hope. Here is someone who represents our country at its best!

  30. Adam Rippon is not only a great athlete - he is also a great example of real leadership in sports. We need many, many more like him.

  31. Lol. The dietary practices of male figure skaters is a wonderfully obscure topic. Please follow it up with a rigorous statistical analysis of male figure skaters who put on their skates sock-sock then skate-skate as opposed to of sock-skate then sock-skate.

  32. Why would you choose to make fun of a serious eating disorder? Does this piece somehow disturb your notions of what you believe "masculinity" is?

  33. Why on earth would judges be telling athletes to lose weight? That is wrong on so many levels!

  34. years ago our town had a state cross-country champ, recruited all over, ended up at a prestigious div 1 powerhouse. first thing the coach told her: you have to lose 20lbs. (she blew off her scholarship, married a ski bum, lives happily ever after in some aspen-like town.)

  35. What is so tiring about the Olympics is the manufactured psychodrama. I can't tell from this article whether this is a serious issue (eating disorders are very serious) or if this is just whining athletes following the dictates of wacko trainers and sicko judges. I can't bear to watch it on TV any longer because they have to cut away to the tear jerking stories to inject some reality TV drama into what is often a fairly straightforward athletic competition. The gymnastics abuse was extraordinarily serious. This story? Not so much.

  36. I agree that I'd like to see more competition, less reality TV- but, I'm sorry, but where do you get the idea that eating disorders are not serious? Or that this is 'whining athletes' following the dictates of trainers and judges. Eating disorders are classified as mental illness diagnoses for good reason... it's a problem that usually starts young and destroys lives, like every other addictive behavior. It also kills. It's well documented how prevalent this disorder is in certain fields- the great Kelsey Kirkland wrote about the epidemic in ballet as far back as the 80s. Overzealous parents, domineering coaches and judges who can't seem to focus on technical merits only aggravate the problem in a vicious cycle.

  37. Les be honest: you didn’t even read the article.

  38. I agree, if the Olympics were more about sports and less about melodrama, they would be more interesting.
    If you don't want to be an Olympian, be something else.
    If you want to eat cheeseburgers, don't be an Olympian.
    Olympic athletes are NOT like other people, that is why they are special.
    If they were ordinary, we wouldn't be interested.
    No more melodrama.
    NBC has to add all the drama to get a big enough audience to justify the billions of dollars they have spent on this event.

  39. I have never been able to support or watch sports. It seems they are either starvation based or violence based and in the case of many, result in massive head injuries and other morbidities. What a shame we find such pleasure in things that cause so much suffering - in the short and long term.

  40. The term "sports" encompasses an enormous number of activities at many different levels and to paint them all with that big brush you're using is just wrong. I could just as easily say that music leads to deafness so we should condemn music. Dancers face pretty much all the same issues that are detailed in this article. Should we also condemn dancing?
    All human activity, however mundane, carries some level of risk. The problem is not with the sport or the art. The problem is with the increasingly unrealistic expectations placed on those engaged in these activities.

  41. Without even having watched him skate, I have so much respect for this young man for speaking the truth.

  42. You have to applaud Adam for his courage in facing down institutionalized prejudice and for his extraordinary athletic and artistic skills. As for the starvation diet - be careful dude - you can only do that for so long. Add some fresh vegetables and fruit to your diet if you haven't already. We'll still love you and what you do even if you do add a couple of ounces to your body weight.

  43. I'm learning so much about this athlete and I've been impressed by his honesty and willingness to discuss his personal life and the struggles he's faced. It's a cliche but I love the Olympics for introducing me to these dedicated individuals who devote their lives to their sports. I love that his reason for speaking up to is to help others and shine a light on things that aren't usually discussed openly. I hope that following the Olympics, he has a chance to keep speaking out as well as continue to pursue whatever his next career goal is. He's a beautiful man, inside and out.

  44. Many sports are demanding too much from the athletes - cyclists, baseball, football, and now skating. I suppose the fans, judges, coaches are responsible as well as the athletes themselves competing for the gold. I am not a sports fan, so I can't speak to that world, but something needs to change. I have no idea how changes can be made except for the openness Rippon is showing. Perhaps football with its concussion scandal can show the way in paying attention. Nutrition training should be required for athletes. Now there's a job opportunity.

  45. But it is not just sports. Those who start up their own business tend to put in 80+ hour weeks, think of all the associates at law firms, investment banking, in the medical profession, etc. To be the best you have to sacrifice because if you don't somebody else is and they will pass you by. It is a choice as to how you see yourself in the race, where you want to be. But to be the very best in almost anything requires considerable sacrifice of other aspects of your life. That is just how it is. But it is a choice you make.

  46. "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" is the unfortunate thought behind this

  47. True in some form in nearly every high level competitive sport. Midddle-line backers bulk up, wrestlers fight the scale, basketball players spend inordinate amounts of time in the weight room and baseball players do all of the above plus add whatever pills can boost their power. It goes on and on. don't get me started on Lance Armstrong.
    Fans accept and swallow it all. Fans should just call it a day and switch their time allotted for "sports" to video games. At least screen competitors don't make you complicit hypocrites.

  48. you write: [True in some form in nearly every high level competitive sport. ] and i agree with you, but... if an athlete is to compete at the highest level, he or she must be willing to sacrifice everything else. including a sane body weight. otherwise one might as well run for fun.

    of course we know elite athletes who cripple themselves or worse in pursuit of the "white moment." (yuri valsov, russian lifter.) still, we mortals know not life at the edge. as a schoolboy amateur i had moments of my own, enroute to ncaa has-been. i would trade these timeless moments for nothing in this world.

  49. It seems that athletes would be able to eat a reasonable, healthy diet with all the exercise they get. I would think training and eating barely anything would lead to continuous weight loss. Everyone involved with athletics needs some education on nutrition.

  50. I thought the body and muscles needed fuel to grow and be strong? This story seems to say the opposite.

    I think of tennis players who celebrate the endless portions at The Olive Garden or The Cheescake Factory where they can load up on carbohydrates and protein--they need them to sustain their training.

  51. Tennis is a completely different sport! Weight isn't as much of a problem as long as it's muscle weight. Tennis players need to move fast, but they don't jump up and rotate around so much. In figure skating one is constantly battling gravity.

  52. February 13, 2018

    The athletic aesthetic is as much inner as outward - and then intuitively taking on the skill that one believes is conquerable and indeed with the joy that ones totality of mind, body, and spirit can deliver for what is for fun and just because in and for the admiration of those that lead the journey - Olympian true and true and all calories justifiable - sustaining pleasures award.

    jja Manhattan, N.Y.

  53. It seems the skaters are extremely thin this Olympics. Very noticeable

  54. Thank you Adam Rippon for your honesty, and for bringing this issue to the attention of the public. Figure skating is a cruel - but beautiful - discipline in many ways. But perhaps it can be improved, if we are willing to discuss these problems. Adam, I wish you the very best at these Olympics and in your future.

  55. Interesting piece about the weight and nutrition struggles of elite athletes - it is a fine line indeed. That said, multiple references to Rippon's thighs and gluteal muscles is, perhaps, a bit much for an article of this length.

  56. Wait. What's the struggle here? Eating fake butter instead of real butter? Eating less bread? It doesn't sound like he's left hungry. It sounds like he's cutting out foods he likes. I feel like he uses the word "starving" very loosely. He means that he is DENYING himself certain foods. I don't think he's literally starving. If he had slightly bigger pecs and biceps, he and I would look similar. I certainly am not starving. I eat a ton of food, just no refined flour, sugar, or butter. I deny myself certain foods (french fries), but I eat six meals a day.

  57. richguy, he was NOT eating a ton of food, like you (which has no relevance as to how much another person eats to maintain a specific physique).

    My guess is you missed that his daily diet was three slices of bread. He was not "denying himself certain foods." He was denying himself food.

  58. Rippon was eating 3 slices of bread with a tiny bit of butter substitute as his _entire_ daily intake of food. That can't be 600 calories. A normal adult needs 3 times as many calories; an athlete might need 5 times as many calories. This is starvation.

  59. Try the three-pieces-of-bread-a-day diet and get back to us.

  60. Really interesting. Rippon's physique is definitely noticeably different from some of the other top male competitors'--I would say closer to what is considered conventionally ideal in the non-skating world, and it definitely looks "healthier" to my eyes, but as someone with a background in dance and competitive running, I can easily understand how his more muscular build could seem to be detrimental when everyone else is aiming to be rail-thin. The prevailing norm is so powerful in these highly competitive environments. It becomes difficult to even identify what is best for one's performance (much less one's mental and long-term physical health) when there is such overriding pressure to look a certain way. I think the point about the extra (or at least different) stigma for men needing help with psychological problems is well-expressed, and it's also reflected here in some of the dismissive comments.

    I really admire Rippon and think he's doing a lot right now for his sport.

  61. Someone, please, define "eating disorder." By all accounts, I have a terrific body. people compliment it. I restrict the foods I eat and deny myself white flour, sugar, and fried foods. Is my eating disordered because of restrictions, or is that just good dietary judgment?

  62. that is not an eating disorder

  63. I would define a disorder as possessing compulsions that negatively impact your physical and/or mental well-being.

  64. richguy,

    Don’t play dumb. It’s about calorie intake and expenditure not cutting out a handful of ingredients.

  65. This is reminiscent of AKC standards and how a breed is supposed to "look". However, in the quest to achieve the ideal appearance according to the breed standard, a dog's long term health and viability can be negatively affected. You obviously can't do the same with people, but you can convince them to starve themselves or resort to drugs to get the desired appearance and outcome. It's a misguided belief that appearance is a negative or positive; let the skill, or lack thereof, be the judge.

  66. I would hope that other athletes--swimmers for example--eat for fuel. Their bodies are normally strong and muscular and are beautiful that way.

  67. Impressed by Adam's self-awareness in bringing attention to realities that are so prevalent but not widely discussed. Sounds like access to resources such dietitians like Susie Parker-Simmons can have a significant impact. After all, her methodology seems like it would be valuable to anyone looking to develop healthy food habits, not just athletes.

  68. The issue is the spectators and the judges. They want the ideal conformation regardless of the toll on the athletes health. Do you want a sumo wrestler on the basketball court, a two ton tillie running the 100 or a 400lb blob ski jumping...but until you do something about the judges and the fans... everyone will conform to the ideal in that sport healthy or not.

  69. Shocking that you are from Florida.

  70. My college kid attends a competitive D1 school and her roommate is on the track & field team. She is weighed every 48 her case (as a high jumper) she has a so-called perfect weight...she's not allowed to be any lighter or any heavier. She's a great girl, a smart girl...but all I can think when I look at her is, "hello eating disorders."

  71. Or, hello healthy person who has an ideal body weight for their height. As opposed to the freshman forty moniker describing the tendency of college students overindulging on booze, unlimited food choices at the cafeteria, and late-night pizza deliveries? Who then spend endless cycles going on diets to shed pounds, only to see the pounds return, only to try another binge diet? Rinse, lather, repeat. And that's basically half of America right there.

  72. This is ridiculous! I thought that figure skaters were judged on how well the executed their moves, not what size leotard they wear. To be a good athlete, one needs to have strong muscles. Strong muscles are fueled by a healthy diet. Starvation diets will cause muscle to deteriorate as the body cannibalizes itself for fuel. Those judges need an education.

  73. Eating disorders during bone building years also cause osteoporosis. I was anorexic for 20 years during college and beyond, and now I have severe osteoporosis. It even affected my teeth!

  74. Thanks to the New York Times for providing this. Two weeks ago you shared with us the problems male models are having with sexual harassment. It is helpful for people to know that many of the same problems faced by women are faced by men too.

    I thought we finally were moving beyond a perfection-obsessed culture. Evidently we still have a long way to go. What sad commentary.

  75. We should move away from an idea of perfection that is not the epitome of human beauty but rather a gross distortion of our natural gifts. We've been conditioned through constant depictions of "beauty" as existing within a peculiarly narrow and unimaginative band. How much more lovely to see the wide variety of natural body shapes, along with the healthy skin and shiny hair we don't get to see on those who starve themselves. Natural roses in the cheek and faces with fewer worry lines are the abundant gifts of not spending every waking moment thinking of how to restrict or control what we eat. What a small, dull world that focus creates.

  76. Excellence in any competitive endeavor requires discipline. Graduate schools are populated by half-fed, sleep-deprived intellectuals. Medical and law schools drain their inmates. Special forces are famous for their tough near-fatal training and high wash-out rate. Five-star chefs. Spelling bees. Novelists. You name it. There are over seven billion competitors in the human universe; to reach the peak in any human endeavor means six- or seven-sigma performance. Not for the faint-hearted! Don't cluck your tongue at them, rather strive to emulate them.

  77. Emulate people who starve themselves to attain some some warped cretin's prurient vision of how people should look? Do you think we should return to encouraging people to become eunuchs also? Don't compare law school to this. There is no comparison.

  78. Oh how wrong you are geohandler: but you do seem to be excellent at missing the point and fat-phobia. Having completed law school, I can assure you, the inmates are very well-fed, same goes for other graduate schools. There are many ways to compete, strive and peak- adequate and appropriate nutrition is essential to them all.

  79. Sorry to shatter your illusions, but in my experience, graduate schools are not "populated by half-fed, sleep-deprived intellectuals." My son is finishing up his PhD in theoretical math at MIT. He eats well and gets enough sleep.

    Furthermore, he's an Orthodox Jew, so he takes off 26 hours each week from Friday evening to Saturday evening for the Sabbath, not to mention days off for various religious observances. He also lived this way when he was an undergrad at Princeton.

    I've also met his friends from Princeton and MIT. They all seem to be healthy and well-balanced individuals. So, no, excellence does not require living in an extreme manner or ruining one's health.

  80. The more I read about Adam, the more I respect him not just as an athlete, but as a role model. He lives his truth daily and is unabashed about sharing his past missteps.

    I am rooting for him on & off the ice.

  81. Are they missteps or cultural produced pressures?

  82. Nice to see this guy plunging in, trying to help.

  83. Adam Rippon, gold medal in everything. Thank you for your healing honesty.

  84. It is so brave of the athletes to share their personal disorders. It encourages us to look within our hearts and be open and willing to discuss the journey of our pain, obsession, desires, and goals. It seems that in every sport, there is now an opportunity to figure out how to train mindfully, and it seems that there is never a better time for our world to embrace bodies that are healthy, voluptuous, and curvy and here's to big bottoms, may we rejoice and celebrate them they still can jump and do triple axles right?

  85. People robbed of their childhoods, eating disorders, government sponsored cheating, sexual and physical abuse at the hands of adults. Olympic "sports" like gymnastics and figure skating are an international disgrace. How can people watch it on TV and not feel like they have to take a shower afterward?

  86. I feel the same way watching the NFL.

  87. I've never been able to stomach the openly brutal sports (NFL, thoroughbred racing, dance, etc.) and having learned of how these elite athletes suffer, both through sexual abuse and disordered eating, has turned me off the Olympics as well. I feel sorry for the Olympians when all I want to feel is admiration.

  88. This is crazy. 3 slices of bread is at most 360 calories. I put in at least 3,000 calories a day.

  89. correction: "Her mother," not "My mother"

  90. What Pearlandvb is saying, I think, is look. Look at his body in pictures. Despite what he says, his body looks lean and healthy. the body is the evidence. I think if you saw him at the local pool swimming, you wouldn't think he is way too thin. You'd probably think he was healthy but on the lean side. What he reports might be inflammatory, but if the NYT just posted photos of him, I think few people with comment that he looks like he has a disorder.

  91. The mortality rate for Eating Disorders is 10-20% —higher than the mortality rate for childhood leukemia. ED sufferers develop life limiting cardiac problems, permanent GI problems and premature osteoporosis. Even when they are able to get to and maintain a healthy weight, there is often irreversible damage. Minimizing EDs only makes the problem worse and leads to more deaths.

  92. Adam looks strong and healthy to me at this weight; but he looked strong and healthy 10 pounds lighter, too (in my opinion).... Upon looking in to the 2 women athletes mentioned in this article: Neither of them looks particularly skinny (at least in photos that I found online of them competing) - just slender in a muscular/athletic sort of way. I suppose that it's possible to be a physiologically healthy weight, but to have a disturbed relationship with food which takes an emotional toll.

  93. Awesome article. Makes me think... When I think of my circle for friends and my family even... athletes, fitness people, dancers, tech geeks, fashion people, business owners, I am at a loss to find one that does not have an eating disorder or preoccupation with food. Not one. Orthorexic, Bulimic, Anorexic, Exercise Bulimia, Binge Disorder.... not one of those is trying for a gold medal. Makes me wonder if possibly the term eating " disorder " should be re examined. A great show of transparency here about what it takes to be thin in skating and how it needs to be managed correctly. Body fat and food intake and the nutrients that it take to achieve the level of high muscle and low body fat is not going to be achieved by multiple packets of Splenda. All that will get you is a big fat dose of Dementia and gut disorders later on. These athletes have the money and support to have sports nutritionists work with them, and if not.... the ability to hop on You Tube and learn a think or two from some of the great nutritional gurus on there. Anything less is just lazy.

  94. Any coach or trainer who doesn't realize, appreciate nor promote a healthy, nutritious diet for their athletes should be fired for incompetency, at the very least. Who DOESN'T realize that good, nutritious food IS fuel for the body, especially an athlete's body. I always thought professional skaters were thin because they worked their bodies to the bone from un-relentless drills, practices and work outs - not from starving themselves to the bone due to food related battles. That is simply insane. I'm no nutritionist, but even I know that a lack of nutrients can and WILL lead to stress fractures and other bone related injuries.

    Perhaps a secret motivation for some figure skaters to crave and win a gold medal was not to simply have their picture on a box of Wheaties, but because by endorsing this product, they could then eat unlimited amounts of Wheaties and fuel that craving for food.

    I am simply baffled at where any athlete gets their strength, stamina or energy if they don't eat, and don't eat enough of the right foods.

  95. Add to the fact that a large number of gay men struggle with body image and physical prowess due to a culture that largely promotes next to impossible physical standards

  96. What Mr. Boitano calls "an interesting relationship to food" should be called by its correct name --an eating disorder. Secondly, he and Mr. Weir should do the right thing for themselves and the young people who admire them and get treatment --as Mr. Rippon has done. No one should call eating "vegetables and olive olive and some protein" a healthy diet, nor is it sustainable or admirable to live on one meal a day.
    Furthermore, commentators on skiing should stop blithely commenting on how M. Shiffrin has recently become so anxious about her races that she has been throwing up beforehand. It is possible that this is the beginning of an eating disorder.
    Finally, it should be noted that eating disorders do not simply result from judges or coaches pushing athletes to be thinner. ED results from a neurological anomaly whereby eating less reduces anxiety, and that anomaly is strongly correlated with a competitive, driven personality --the kind of personality that makes excellent athletes in every sport.

  97. Johnny Weir once competed on a Food Network show and was eliminated because he barely put any food on a entree plate. He kept stating that those tiny portions are what he ate all the time.

  98. Another reason to dislike what the Olympic 'Games' have become. Fraud, mismanagement of finances, cheating and sexual abuse.. and not this. Much of what we read sounds like child neglect, if not outright abuse- often with the collaboration of well-meaning 'stage parents.'

  99. Im 5 ft 9 and 200 lbs. I have a rugby type build. Im a tv commercial actor and print model and I keep losing jobs because they tell me Im "too big".

  100. This is an aside. I don't usually watch football, but living in PA I watched the parade of the Eagles ending at the steps of the Art Museum. The cheerleaders appeared to me to be pleasantly normal women instead of the "rail thin" described as prevalent among skaters. I was encouraged.

  101. I think that it is so sweet of him to open up in that way. I also salute the NYT in bringing in the hard news.

  102. Adam, you are glorious and a revelation. Keep speaking truth and keep blowing all of the dust and darkness out of this place!

  103. It is not "sport" when judges award medals to an aesthetic of near-sick, unhealthy weights, men or women.

    It is not "sport' when judges award medals to an aesthetic of performance of prepubescent girl-bodies, but not healthy adult women's bodies.

    It is not "sport" at all and I am not watching.

  104. Being gay and dealing with body image issues is hard enough. But add on top of that a sport or artistic pursuit that demands a certain body type--ballet dancing, figure skating, acting, etc--and you've got an extreme amount of pressure to punish yourself to look a certain way. I don't know how any of us deals with it. Adam Rippon is my new hero for speaking out so boldly about the struggles we as gay men endure and for bursting onto the international stage with such elegant pride. He will change the world for the better. (And put Mike Pence in his place.)

  105. What’s are the words? Misguided priorities? Yeah, misguided priorities. Stop enabling and tune it out. We can change the world one TV, iPad and cell phone at a time!

  106. Is this the only way to achieve excellence in some sports...this kind of extreme stuff? Perhaps we need to reconsider a whole list of sports whose foundation is built on requirements that damage not only the body, but the spirit. Sports are supposed to build character, not tear you down. We should stop putting these things on a pedestal where they don't belong, stop holding these things up as the standard of excellence when really, they destroy those who perform them at the uppermost levels.

  107. Every week a find a new bit of news to make me want to give up on the Olympics; I don't think they can be fixed.

  108. unfortunately this is not an olympic issue. it is also beyond a sports issue. let's be real.

  109. Maybe these male athletes should talk to some male professional tennis players. Roger Federer comes to mind. He has the perfect physique for tennis. He is quick, not overly muscular and moves like a dancer on the tennis court.

  110. From what i've read, Djokovic has one of the most restricted diets in professional sports.

  111. I don’t recall seeing Adam Rippon before his Olympic debut the other night. One of the first things I said aloud (to my two young teen sons watching) was “Wow, look at his powerful leg muscles! He needs those to jump!” Ok, maybe it would be better not to notice at all, but it is a sport where appearance counts (more than non-participants know, apparently). And I wanted to send my boys the message that Strong is a great way to look. Congratulations Adam - being fit is going to pay you long term dividends.

  112. It's dangerous to use hunger as a self-esteem enhancer.
    A vegan whole food diet would provide ample nutrition and keep them thin. And not hungry.

    Why for those slices of bread, he could have had 2 cups of kale, 2 cups of broccoli, and a whole bar of tempeh for over 40 grams of protein 10 of good fat and all that phyto-nutrition from the greens.
    Rippon, go vegan! You'll be skinny. I promise.

  113. This is not living - it is simply existing.

    Such sad lunacy - and to no end!

  114. I don't get it. 140# is within the normal BMI range for a 5'7" main. His current weight of 150 puts him slightly over the middle.

    I'm 5'10" and 155# and look and feel great. Nobody calls me "skinny" except obese people who like to "fit-shame" guys who have abs.

  115. Your nom de plume brings back ancient memories. Thanks

  116. Congrats, but BMI charts tell you nothing about a person’s percent body fat. Especially a trained athlete’s. Lean muscle is denser/ heavier than fat. As is the denser bone structure created through intensive training. So BMI charts are for doctors to judge the health of mere semi-sedentary mortals, BMI charts tell us very little about elite athletes. :)

  117. You see his physique, right? If that’s what 5’7” and 150 lbs of pure muscle looks like, then there’s no way you, at 5’10” and 155 lbs, are even close to being in the same league.

  118. So sad that near-anorexia (or bulimia!) is lauded as a way to stay thin enough to compete. And doesn't starving yourself waste away the very muscle tissue you need to build for athletics like ice skating and ballet?

  119. It is so wrong for judges to have created this distorted standard for skaters. I suppose the idea is to make skating more exciting by increasing the difficulty of jumps, and that skaters can jump better if they are lighter. It is a revolting practice and makes me not want to watch the skating.

    I also do not appreciate the crazy triple and quadruple jumps, I prefer a perfect, graceful skating program to one that is so extreme but likely to result in more falls. Who wants to watch falls?

    Many sports are out of control and the public must resist-starting with football. That's why I like curling and golf and cross country skiing-easy to watch, no crazy moves or danger. Sports should be fun, not life threatening.

  120. I agree it's brave for Rippon to come out publicly about this issue. But really this is a failure of the coaching staff to not formulate a proper diet to give him the nutrition he needs to have the best athletic performance.

    The actual body weights mentioned in this article aren't even underweight based on the guidelines of the CDC.

    Even 140 lbs...which he said that he weighed in 2016: That's a perfectly normal weight for someone who is 5 foot 7. Almost exactly "Normal" based on the CDC's guidelines (though I know there are issues with calculating BMI that way):

    The real problem is that 3 pieces of bread with fake butter has very little in the way of real nutrients. You could follow a tightly controlled diet to maintain a slim figure and still get proper nutrition by eating a variation on the Mediterranean diet (or any diet that concentrates on vegetables and lean protein.)

  121. Three pieces of bread with butter is about 600 calories... Max... maybe one could pop it up to 800 -- way below the 2200 that men might eat in a day to preserve a weight...

    The comment about the ballet dancers... I was told that they wanted steak but could not afford it on their food stipend..

    Is there alcohol or something else high in calories involved in this.... ??? It just seems improbable.. One need to consume about 3500 cals less than one burns to lose one pound. I used to do one egg (80 cal), tuna (100?, carrots and airpopped popcorn and a green salad with shrimp and cottage cheese and ketsup dressing... when I wanted to lose weight quickly (and a small candy bar 250 cal so I didn't get depressed. One does lose...

    Recently the Time published a piece in which it stated that pre-adolescents are the most physically agile and strong for certain sports including I believe figure skating.. just saying...

    The issue of major health threatening eating disorders has been on the radar for YEARS already. The images of the skeletal young women do haunt me...

  122. CDC weight tables are totally unrealistic, many people would be dead if they were at the lower end of the scale on those tables. We had a DEXA scanner at work and found to meet many of the weight tables desirable weights many people would have to have 0 body fat.

  123. You do realize that the CDC recommendations are for average body compositions, right? He is a competitive athlete with a lot of muscle mass, 140 is underweight.

    Ignorantly throwing around overly broad guidelines without understanding their purpose or design is damaging to young athletes who see those numbers and cannot understand why their bodies weigh more.

    Why don't you leave body and diet advice to the professionals who are trying to help athletes overcome eating issues.

  124. I am not watching the Olympics any more. After reading what was done to those lovely little gymnasts year after year, the word Olympic makes my stomach turn.

  125. It's competitive sports in general, to be honest. They are all blood sports in some sense of the word. No such thing as an "honorable second" or the like. It's win win win, and if you don't win, you FAIL.

    It's a horrible way to train our youth, and I don't mean just the professional level youth; I mean the kids in K-12 who are getting beaten up physically and mentally by coaches and pressure to WIN WIN WIN.

    All the intrinsic joy and motivations for an activity, a sport, etc., are stomped dead into the ground.

  126. How horrible would it be to lose an Olympic medal by the slightest of margins and think, "If only I had lost another two pounds". Unfortunately, as long as a single judge subliminally affords thinner skaters even the slightest score increase, competitors will feel compelled to eat less. Such is the result when beauty is deemed insufficient and perfection is required.

  127. This doesn’t really fit with the interview he gave where he said he stole apples from the health club because he had no money.

  128. What a cynical comment. Is one apple meaningfully different from three slices of bread and butter substitute? And did you read the part where he wasn’t always on a starvation diet?

  129. Apples are an anorexic's best friend. They have a high satiation value, very low caloric density, and all the fiber in the skin makes you go to the bathroom a lot.

  130. That was five years ago.

  131. With this now, and gymnastic's reputation for starvation, it's hard to feel good about these sports. I know gymnasts end up with osteoporosis in their 20's...and yes I know that has to do with estrogen suppression but I think the suppression is not only from too much exercise but not enough calories as well.

  132. My 21 year old daughter is fully recovered from 2 years of anorexia. It was a grueling battle for her. She recently did a research paper on the lack of support men get who have eating disorders. I congratulate you for sharing your story. Eating disorders are across the board the one mental illness that takes the lives of the most people. Think about that. Food is fuel. Put the good stuff in.....and splurge every so often. It's good for your body, mind and soul.

  133. If any sport advocates harm to the body it should be outlawed.

  134. Thanks for writing this! It reminded me so much of a male ballet dancer I dated years ago who absolutely obsessed about his weight. We think of women in this profession, but never about the guys (and the include fashion models, dancers, skaters at one end and on the other contact-sport players, who bulk up). This article stands as an excellent reminder about the perils of male body image.

  135. Judges have no business pressuring athletes to lose weight in order to look better. Skaters, gymnasts, and others who work out use a lot of energy and need to replenish themselves at the end of the day. There is nothing wrong with having a "figure" that has some curves or isn't all angles. There is something wrong when a person is left feeling that the only thing he/she has any control over is the amount of food that goes into the body and the implication from judges, coaches, and others that it's important to be as thin as possible even if that is not compatible with healthy living.

  136. I believe people, especially young people, have immense problems with food. The problems can even be lethal. Your body, I believe, will tell you through a feeling of hunger as to whether more food is needed. Then it is up to the person to educate him/herself as to what compromises a healthful diet. Most know it is a combination of whole grain carbs, pan seared vegetables and a protein of either broiled oily fish like salmon, swordfish, tuna or soy. It is not rocket science BUT one needs to know if one does not feed the body it will end in medical problems like fractures or worse. Eat healthfully as if your life depended upon it because it does. If you are dead skating or anything else is not an option!

  137. It makes me sad to read this. I know the training that allows ice skaters to look graceful and effortless is incredibly tough and painful (mostly because I've been around a little ballet, and people who don't see them come bounding off stage sweating like race horses have little idea what steel these butterflies are made of).

    But I guess I thought thinness was a consequence of the hard work, not an aim in itself, for skaters. I can't believe they work so hard on so little food--I would think it would affect performance. Why bread and butter? Why not lean protein and vegetables? Rarely do read sports stories, and more rarely still am I left wanting more of the story. Be well, Adam! We want you strong.

  138. What would Brian Boitano do? Eat a sensible diet!

  139. Oh for heavens sake! There are scads of qualified, experienced sports nutritionists that can help athletes achieve the desired weight, while exercising, staying healthy and energetic. Did the coach condone this anorexic diet? Why was he allowed to starve himself without the benefit of a nutritionist?

  140. "Why was he allowed to starve himself without the benefit of a nutritionist?"

    Because a nutritionist wouldn't let him be that thin.

  141. Nutritionists are not magicians. And eating healthy is often at odds with achieving the body one needs for one's sport. If I ate what a nutritionist suggests I'd be "healthy". According to the nutritionist? And banned from many sports and have to buy myself a whole new wardrobe.

    Even years and years ago, when there were many BOTTOM heavy dancers with thick thighs they just didn't carry as beautiful a a balletic sense...they skating from jump to jump.

    Every single sport (or career) carries components that require near impossible standards to reach! All the standards are different and that's why everything from Olympic Medal winners (from shot putters to figure skaters to high jumpers to downhill skiers (have you seen the necessary size of their thighs) to Field's Medal Winners and Nobel Lauerates all require much more than "good enough." Self Motivation counts for a lot. Is there a good way, a polite way to say "you're not working hard enough," or "you need to lose weight," or you need to add size if your dream is to be a linebacker? Your you need at least all As and the highest GPA to be Valedictorian? The Valedictorian is doing his homework instead of playing video games. People make informed decisions! Nobody is forcing anyone to eat just a yoghurt and a banana.
    And nutritionists and extreme thinness are not compatible.

  142. This isn’t a sports issue, it’s a societal issue. Anyone who believes (truly or falsely) that their success is tied to their appearance can fall into this mindset.

    In college I came out as gay, but was also overweight. I thought no one would ever be attracted to me if I wasn’t skinny, and my diet changed dramatically. No sugar, no dairy (except a drop of half and half in my coffee), and no fats. Almost exclusively I lived off black coffee, cantaloupe, tofu, and green beans. Vodka was my only indulgence. I ran 15 miles per week and lifted weights every other day. In 9 months I lost 70lbs, going from 200 down to 130 (I am 5’11”). I was very unhealthy, but I felt great mentally… except when it was time to eat.

    Today I shop for food like I’m buying porn. I go when the store is empty so I can scrutinize nutrition labels without getting embarrassed when someone comes up behind me. I pass the Salty Snacks aisle like a priest passing a brothel with only lust in his heart. I shop exclusively at stores with automated self-checkouts because I’m ashamed from the amount of lean cuisine meals I buy.

    I’ve accomplished what only 2% of people ever manage, I lost weight and kept it off (take that Oprah!). But in the process I’ve adversely affected my mental state. Modest weight gain makes me depressed. Being hungry makes me happy. I don’t buy new clothes for fear of fluctuations. Don’t become like me kids (the eating disorder part, not the gay part. Being gay is great).

  143. Some years ago a well-known coach for equine jumping made a critical remark in his magazine column concerning a female rider's weight. He was famous for wanting the people he coached to be skinny. There was a torrent of critical letters from readers, pointing out that she weighed less than a lot of male riders, and the horses she rode didn't care whether the rider was a man or woman. He actually backed off and admitted he had struggled with his own weight for years. Re-educating industry professionals will help change the culture and deal with eating disorders in sports.

  144. This story took me back to the brutal training regimen I set for myself as a freshman member of my dorm's intramural track team. Since I had been designated to run the 880, each afternoon I would go out and walk twice around the track. All the hard work paid off, however. On the day of the big meet, I finished in thirteenth place, barely a lap behind number twelve.
    What the hec. In ever

  145. What’s equally sad is Johnny Weir’s continued promotion of starvation as a way to stay slim and hot. This is abhorrent.

  146. Johnny Weir is hot? I must be missing something

  147. "O.K., how I can make elephant to fly?"

    Maybe the elephant in the room is less body image, and more the crazy expectation of normal, athletic, human males having to land quad after quad after quad.

  148. He keeps showing himself to be a very candid, caring individual, I wish him all the best.

  149. Thank you, Adam Rippon, for your bravery. Health and strength over skinny and frail is a new mantra that as an athlete, I too, am trying to take more seriously. Your strength helps to strengthen others.

  150. How long will Rippon be in the limelight? For every super star athlete there are a thousand who subject themselves to eating disorders to follow a dream that never comes through.

    These Uber athletes are entertaining. I admire them for their achevments. However, I’m going to take inspiration from my 70 year old friend who is still teaching aerobics, from Judge Ginsberg and her excercise regime, and from those average people I see working out a the gym each day.

  151. This is so sad. Mental health is important and thank you for bringing attention to this matter. Eating disorders are dangerous.

  152. The same conservative scolds who are criticizing Rippon for speaking out are the same people who enable a sexual predator and pathological liar in the White House, an accused child molester for Senator from Alabama, a lying press secretary, and on and on. In the age of the internet, Rippon is a breath of fresh air and an incredibly courageous person to put himself out there and speak his truth, knowing full well that some people will hate him for it. It's hard these days to speak out about anything without getting death threats.

  153. I saw Adam Rippon for the first time when he skated in the Olympics a few nights ago. He is a talented artist and athlete who is also physically (almost impossibly) beautiful. His program was totally authentic and (therefore) riveting. Thank goodness he escaped the know-nothing nutrition ideas of his coaches. Thank goodness he has found the courage to fully express his unique personality in his performance. I hope his openness and his success will now send the foolish notions of his presumably well-meaning coaches to the dustbin of history.

  154. Great informative article, a topic most of us never thought about with male figure skaters.
    But also, honestly, at this point, anything that Adam Rippon talks about is trending. He is amazing

  155. “If judges tell you to lose weight,” Boitano said, “you don’t have time to figure out how do it healthily.”

    I find it hard to believe that judges are telling competitors to lose weight. They should restrict themselves to judging. Any judge who makes such comments should be reported to its Federation and the Federation should take measures. They are judging performance, not body image. If they cannot understand their jobs, they should not be judges to begin with. And that Arutyunyan, I don't understand how any athlete can train with him.

  156. The fact that these elite athletes can perform to the level they do with so little food confirms my feeling that Americans in general just eat too much, and that's why we have such a huge percentage of obese adults. In our misguided attempts to spare the feelings of women by telling them it's ok to be fat, all the while thin-shaming those who eat just fine but are naturally slender, we're just creating another weight-based health issue, one far more prevalent than anorexia or bulemia.

  157. Let's go back the the Ancient Greeks who created the Olympics as a point of celebration. We have distorted it completely.

  158. I feel his pains of hunger. im just a mail man and i limit myself to 1000-1200 calories a day all protein under 25 g carbs 6 days a week..theres no reason for me to do so because no one is judging me other than myself but it is worth it lol

  159. That's below any adult's resting metabolic rate. Either you are losing weight at an unsustainable rate, lying (perhaps to yourself) or really pigging out on the 7th day.

  160. I know this article is about athletes in particular, but I gotta say that this sub-clinical (and sometimes clinical) form of disordered "eating" is quite pervasive among all walks of life. As a college professor who teaches human nutrition, I could've subbed out Rippon and subbed in many, many of my past and/or current students. Pregnant women, media execs, CEOs, teachers, you name it: everyone is obsessed with what they're eating, why they're eating, when they're eating, how they're eating. I actually spend a lot of time over the course of the semester - even though it's not part of my real curriculum - to create an environment of food freedom. Honestly, I get more professional satisfaction when I see a student change their dysfunctional relationship with food than I do their scoring an "A" on an exam.

  161. Because that is really what teaching is about, isn't it?

  162. Thank you AS for adding these enlightened comments. I am also a college professor. I also research human nutrition. Yesterday, someone asked me "Why do people treat food as sensual? Why can't it just be fuel?" I replied, "Because our senses are indispensable to being human."

  163. I’ve been around serious dancers my whole life, so I’m familiar with the mentality that food should be ultra healthy and minimally consumed. However with dance, there is more than traditional ballet—professional modern dancers, while fit, do not have to have 4% body fat. I’ve never been the thinnest in a group, but I perform at the same caliber. But with gymnastics and skating, the technical demands of the sport, the raw physics of it all, favor thin bodies. This is why I think less emphasis should be placed on quads and more should be placed on elegance and execution. Of course this is the perspective of an artist more than an athlete, but this is definitely something to consider as skill-based olympic sports get more and more technically challenging and taxing.

  164. 100% agree:it's more an issue of PHYSICS than effort that yields these quads.... particularly younger, less developed or "immature" bodies and "smaller/leaner" bodies have an advantage -- their revolutions are more rapid, etc.-- that as they age and mature/develop, they may/ maybe are likely unable to sustain because their physiology (not training, not effort) works against them. On top of this, they put tremendous stress on the bodies, joints and tend to suffer more injuries.
    The judging system needs to be overhauled again.
    Rewarding a behavior (by awarding such huge point advantages) that virtually eliminates competition from other challengers whose physique won't support those jumps (and which may injure athletes those athletes who can, in the longer run, due to torque imposed stress) is wrong on so many levels.

  165. I so admire the men who are sharing their experiences with starvation because it WILL help others. As they already know, their bodies pay a huge price for starvation and it causes long term damage to bones and organs. There is never a reason to go hungry and those who suffer from that disorder need intense psychological help to overcome it.

  166. I think they might have a bigger problem in ski jumping with this issue

  167. Not to disparage anyone’s skating prowess, but I think a longer, more shapely and muscular body — both male and female — looks better on the ice. I like to see power and balance in any athletic movement. Those tiny, underfed and often underdeveloped bodies of the super jumpers who flit around like hummingbirds are too fragile. I worry about them breaking bones.

    I know the glamour and glitter and the Vegas vibe of figure skating are all part of the aesthetic, but I would be so happy if Olympic figure skating competitors were required to perform in plain, sparkle-free outfits, with minimal makeup. Then maybe we could concentrate on the althletic performances instead of the althetes’ looks. As it stands, some of the women skaters take to the ice looking they are wearing clown makeup. And when that is combined with a cheesy, too-sexy costume and an almost burlesque routine (cue the stripper music), I switch to another channel.

    Rippon is both elegant and powerful on the ice. Who needs a quad when you have all that going on?

  168. For those confused about the weight listed (140 lbs) as compared to a BMI chart, it is important to know that BMI does not take into account the composition of someone's body (i.e. muscle vs. fat). BMI is a useful public health tool to evaluate groups of people and to categorize people when doing research because it works well, on average, to classify people. However, on an individual level, it can be very inaccurate with respect to a healthy weight. This is true, particularly, for athletes because muscle weighs much more than fat. Body composition measurements and waist-to-hip ratio are examples of better measures of the health of an individual's weight or physique. Please stop suggesting that Rippon wasn't actually starving himself on 3 pieces of bread per day because of a BMI chart.

  169. These athletes are clearly completely ignoration about proper nutrition—which is kind of shocking. A plant-based diet would keep them thin but provide they nutrients need to compete. Where are the coaches?

  170. the coaches are often the ones encouraging these "diets"

  171. Athletic training is expensive, and athletes way too often cut corners with nutrition to economize. In the end they damage themselves. A lot of dancers I trained with tended to “pig out" and then starve as a kind of penitence. For many, I saw these cycles spiral into clinically debilitating eating disorders, or at the very least, terrible food habits. (I knew a very famous dancer who religiously consumed 12 ounces of Reeces candys before every performance.) But especially for apprentice types, nutritious meals were hard to come by at a price affordable at dancer-poverty levels. Anyway, I’m sure a lot of aspiring athletes are still in similar situations. Sports associations, etc., might take a look at providing non-optional nutrition counselers and even actual FOOD, especially for athletes not living in domestically supportive environments.

  172. People who are 'the best in the world' are by definition, not normal.

    It would be nice if anorexia wasn't embraced as a technique for winning, except that it works. Other sports have eating disorders - the coxswain in crew, the ski jumpers - and other sports eat high calories (read up on Michael Phelps' competition diet).

    I love Olympics because there is a lot of discipline and because of it they excel at something I can only dream about. And yes, sometimes it crosses the line to unhealthy. Yet it's the sheer art and guts of the performance that drives the athletes and attracts their fans.

  173. This societal admiration of "disciplined" eating is a major contributor to our obesity epidemic. Obesity and anorexia are two sides of the same coin.

  174. So why do Olympic swimmers like Mike Phelps boast of a 12,000 calorie a day diet? (See Phelps diet below.) And ice skaters try to get by on 400 calories a day? Don't they both do hours of hard physical work?
    Breakfast: Three fried-egg sandwiches with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions and mayonnaise. Two cups of coffee. One five-egg omelette. One bowl of grain. Three slices of French toast topped. Three chocolate-chip pancakes.

    Lunch: One pound of pasta. Two large ham and cheese sandwiches with mayonnaise on white bread, plus energy drinks.

    Dinner: One pound of pasta, an entire pizza, and even more energy drinks.

    Perhaps the ice skaters should swim before they skate so they can continue to enjoy some food!

    Or maybe they should all learn to eat several small meals a day providing a varied balance of healthy food instead of either feasting on food that is too heavy in fat or starving on food too low in nutrients.

  175. No one can burn 12,000 Calories a day. 7,000 is about the limit, and corresponds to walking or running about 70 miles (or recovering from severe burns). Either he was putting on weight rapidly (1 1/2 lb a day) or much of it passed through his system without being digested, or he's lying.

  176. And now men's figure the list of sports that puts people's health in jeopardy (think Football, Hockey, Women's Gymnastics) is growing. We as a culture really need to evaluate what we are asking of our sports heroes. If anyone can lead us toward this, it is Adam Rippon - a charismatic, energetic, tell it like it is spokesperson. In my mind - he's already won a gold medal just for his public service.

  177. To Jonathan, Yes, I agree Heroes can be found in the firehouse, hospitals, police stations, schools, amongst those who volunteer their time to help the homeless, the disenfranchised, and those who are suffering - but I also think heroes can be people who can inspire us to be better than ourselves - and in Adam's particular case - to be the first openly gay athlete in the Winter Games - is heroic

  178. In my local firehouse, there was (until his arrest a few weeks ago) a captain who apparently likes to take surreptitous videos of girls in store changing rooms. The department in nearby Fairfax county is beset by a culture of sexual harassment so intractable that the female battalion chief in charge of fighting it quit in frustration.

    Yes, many firefighters do heroic things. But they're well compensated and have a lot of leeway to do lucrative side gigs. Let's not lionize them beyond reason.

  179. Heroes come in many forms. Don't presume to tell people where they should look for theirs.

  180. And we wonder why Tonya Harding was angry at a system that looked down on her solid, athletic body in favor of long, languid ones?

  181. Judging figure skaters for their physical appearance (i.e., thinness) makes as much sense as judging them for how pretty their costumes (or their faces) are.

  182. Judging figure skaters on how they look is what the art form is based upon. It's an art form that concerns itself with beauty, what the eye beholds. No one cares that football players are huge because it not based on aesthetics.

  183. And yet they do.

  184. The worst thing about the industry that grows up around so many Olympic sports is that it involves adults who abuse children. There are multiple forms of abuse and while Nassar's may (fortunately) be rare, other forms of abuse like starvation are also abusive.

  185. The coaches who promote eating disorders should be barred by USOC. Calling normal weight healthy athletes "elephants' is a disgrace

  186. Disordered eating, once established, is not logical and not a choice. It is an insidious and deadly brain disease. Never underestimate how just one comment about someone's body or how/what they eat can play a role in launching an athlete (or non-athlete) onto the path of a a full blown eating disorder. Any coach, parent or judge (or former-athlete-turned-broadcaster!) who doesn't know how deadly an eating disorder can be needs to spend time with anyone fighting an eating disorder or a parent who has lost their child to one. Good for Adam's mother for recognizing the early signs and supporting her son!

  187. No one I've seen in these Olympics - male or female - appears to be "starving." Everyone is somewhere on the spectrum of muscular/lean/slim - as I would expect most world class athletes to be. If you want to see starving, try googling "Ethiopia in the 1980s" or "Yemen today."

  188. The fact of the matter is, it is not apparent by how someone looks, whether they have an eating disorder or not. They may appear normal weight, or even over weight, and be physiologically starving.

  189. Just because these athletes don't look like famine victims doesn't mean that they are not starving. Eating disorders aren't always visible, but it does do a lot damage indeed.

  190. Some of these athletes expend 3000-4000 calories a day in workouts, and their macro intake isn't sufficient to keep up with it. Having a stress fracture in an elite athlete from just jumping up and down for warmup is testament to that. External appearance does not reveal one's nutrition status. One could be 'fat' by eating a diet of McDonalds, but nutritionally starving. But no you are correct, physical lack of access to food is not the true issue here.

  191. Of course, this is the lead article in the NYT's Olympic coverage. Straight to the negative and the neurotic. The extreme pressure of weight is the but one aspect of the suffering to being an Olympic level athlete. Let's not forget the athletes have chosen to make that sacrifice, or at worst, their parents have.

  192. what a bore to be reminded that our athletes are human. doesn't NYT realize that we only want Olympic fairy tales?

  193. And its not just the male athletes. A gay friend said he still battles his eating disorder and he is 48! It is something else they have to be closeted about when there are so many programs for young girls. And the pressure to appear like a young boy is huge for some of them, and the standards of beauty impossible, and so closely tied to self worth. I am sure he is grateful for this article and for Rippon speaking out. It may help him to relax, and many more who I am sure are also suffering.

  194. And I want to add, these gay men are the most vulnerable in society. More vulnerable than women. No #metoo. So much rejection and disrespect. And society and culture so needs and benefits from their finest of sensibilities.

  195. It's easy to fall into this trap. I'm almost 70, and 40 years ago as a 50 to 60 mile-a-week runner I found myself doing weird things to lose pounds so I could run a three-hour marathon, which for a 180-pound, 5' 10" person was a stretch to begin with. I almost got there though. The summary: if you're cut out for this sort of thing, you'll know it. Otherwise, you're not.

    At some point I had a body composition screening at the university where I worked and found out that at 180 pounds, I had 9% body fat. When you have 9% body fat, and look in the mirror, and see a fat person, you know you have a problem. Get help.

  196. This is all a bunch of nonsense. Tired of hearing athletes in certain sports complaining about the caloric/dietary restrictions being imposed on them. This isn't North Korea, don't like it then stop competing or choose another sport.

    First, 5'7 and 150 lbs. isn't matchstick thin, it's not even close. It's arguably a tad over ideal body weight for that height. For men, basically 105 pounds for 5 feet and then an additional 6 pounds for every inch above that.

    Second, the notion that these skaters need skinnier muscles to execute quad jumps or whatever is simply ludicrous. The short guys who can dunk a basketball all have massive quads for their height. Explosive muscles are big muscles. The difference between sprinters in running and swimming versus those competing in larger distances. If we allow that skaters also need flexibility and stamina, an ideal physique would be between a sprinter and long distance athlete. Say a swimmer competing at 200 and 400 meters, a runner at 400 and 800. None of those athletes have matchstick physiques.

    The article is ludicrous, and the problem seems to stem from the judges. What do they care about a skater's body, and why do they even have a voice in the discussion? Their job is to judge- technical merit on the jumps and spins, artistic impression, choreography, how well the skating syncs with the accompanying music. Simon Biles had a big tushie and she did just fine. Better than fine, golden.

  197. "This is all a bunch of nonsense. Tired of hearing athletes in certain sports complaining about the caloric/dietary restrictions being imposed on them. This isn't North Korea, don't like it then stop competing or choose another sport."

    That is pretty much like saying, "Don't fancy a roll in the hay with Weinstein, choose another career." Problem isn't athletes complaining. Problem is that they feel so powerless before their coaches and judges. To be fair, no one, including the article's author and the judges, seems to escape your criticism and ridicule. Well, maybe Biles...Hopefully you don't wield too much power!

  198. I don't think Adam Rippon is complaining. I believe he is informing. Regarding, "don't like it then stop competing or choose another sport." If you don't like this country, leave. If you don't like this sport, quit. If you don't like this article, don't read it. Of course I'm kidding and trying to make a point. Thanks.

  199. This doesn't seem to be a body image issue so much athletes doing what they need to do to put themselves in the best condition to compete. Think wrestlers and what they go through to "make weight".
    Having said that, the judges comments are absurd. They need to butt out!

  200. It doesn't seem like consideration of their condition happens at all. All that matters is they are as thin as possible, even if means being malnourished and running a calorie deficit. I am amazed these athletes can perform at such high levels when their bodies aren't healthy. It makes me sad and has caused me to miss the Games this year. It's not possible to enjoy the athletes' performances and achievements while knowing the unnecessary price they pay in health. Their bodies should be respected and cared for, not tormented.

  201. These people must be chronically addicted to the approval of others to so mistreat themselves.

  202. Me Sternberg, Eating disorders arise from a myriad and combination of causes including a high genetic factor. They are neurobiologically based, often set in motion through a physical or psychological environmental trigger. These are serious diseases that have nothing to do with ego. No one would choose to have an ED.

  203. When I was in my 20's I supported myself by playing piano for dance classes, both for schools and professional companies. This reminds me of how the dancers were judged by their dance masters, who it seemed could tell when an already ridiculously thin dancer gained 1/4 lb. I remember hearing many times that a dancer lived on one cup of yogurt and a banana a day. What most people would consider a normal size was out of the question. There has to be a better way!

  204. This is a reminder of how resistant the mind-body system is to losing weight when the system decides that it wants to maintain a certain weight. Interesting that it affects elite athletes as well as ordinary people who struggle.

  205. I will go ahead and do some shameless promotion on behalf of this publication - the Recipes for Health by Martha Rose Shulman published in the NYT are both healthy and seriously delicious. Over time, Ms. Shulman's recipes have been making up a larger share of my day to day diet - not strictly on the basis of being healthy, they are tasty enough to look forward to eating. I am definitely active, but not an athlete. I feel like I eat like a lumberjack, yet my weight and lab work remain in a very healthy ranges. Melissa Clark has also published some excellent healthy recipes in the NYT. I no longer believe it is necessary to go hungry to keep your weight down.

    The point is that eating and weight control are not mutually exclusive. It is not helpful for coaches to shame athletes into reducing body fat without giving them some concrete guidance as to how to achieve that without starving themselves. Ms. Shulman's body of work published here is a good start for providing that guidance.

  206. I would have thought that at this very elite level of sports competition, all these medal-contending athletes would have nutritionists specifying exactly what they should eat, and how much of it, down to the gram. Or else that they would be doing that themselves. I once watched a video of a ballerina who knew exactly how many calories she expended per day, so she ate exactly that number of calories, weighing every single piece of food on a scale, to maintain her weight. If she wanted to lose a pound or two, she adjusted slightly down. She kept a log of everything she ate during each day. I'm surprised figure skaters wouldn't do the same thing.

  207. To C. Misthaven
    I think that's the point of the article though; an obsessive relationship with food. The figure skaters are doing the the same thing: knowing to the calorie point every little macronutrient that goes in, whether healthy or not. This is not unique to these sports either, but if they feel that it gives one an advantage on a world stage, they will continue it. For the same reason, there is blood doping and use of performance enhancing drugs, not discussed in the article, but a 'brother of another mother' in other sports.

  208. Actually that doesn't work: take it from a former ballerina. I was dancing between four and six hours a day...three hours actually spent in calorie-burning class. I was 5'6" at about 110lb. and every single day I was told to slim down. I wasn't "bottom heavy, or have thick thighs. I looked as if I weighed 102 lbs... the extra weight coming from high bone density (which is genetic and why I never sustained any injuries although I lived on a substistance diet.
    Now, back to your comment... the less you consume and the more you exercise the more efficient your body becomes. I had to bring my calorie intake down to 400 calories a day...achieved by eating cantaloupe and carrots. Your body gets so used to doing so much on so little fuel it is absolutely impossible to add in the equivalent of the calories you burned with an equal amount of calories without actually gaining weight! I saw some work class endocrinologists who all informed me that because of starving while exercising I was creating a situation where I would end up gaining weight just on lettuce leaves. Some people do have better metabolisms and can eat more. I didn't have any body flaws but I couldn't eat. I am now 63. When .I turned 62 I decided it was time to stop counting every calorie I put into my mouth. I still dream of those times when .I was thinnest. Even in my post-dancing life my husband referred to me as a "lapsed anorexic" because although I was enviously bone-thin I wasn't ballerina thin.

  209. All of that weighing and logging equals neurosis and leads to eating disorders. Why not redefine beauty, grace, and relinquish these draconian diets and weight expectations. Set a new normal where athletes are encouraged to eat rather than chronically starving themselves.

  210. Mr. Rippon has established himself as a champion on and off the ice this Games. Even before his main events, he has been vulnerable and honest exposing demons that also haunt millions of people world-wide. Though many athletes have powerful messages to deliver, few “risk” unwanted attention or being psyched out in competition. Thank you, Adam, for being a gold medal global inspiration.

  211. Exactly what the Olympics are all about...exposing inner demons...