“We used to smear ourselves with a burning gel for weight loss, wrap in a film, put on several warm pants and run in a stuffy hall.” former pair skater Amina Atakhanova extreme methods of losing weight and eating disorders
Former pair skater Amina Atakhanova about the difficulties of transitional age, extreme methods of losing weight and bulimia.
source: sportsdaily.ru dd. Septemner 20, 2022 by Sofia Savchenko
The film “Eating Disorders in Sports” by Russian figure skater Anastasia Skoptsova inspired us to do this interview.
Amina Atakhanova – bronze medalist of the Junior Grand Prix Final. Until the age of 12, she was doing singles, and after that she switched to pair skating. Amina’s career ended in the midst of its success and one of the reasons was weight problems and an eating disorder. Now she is 20 years old. She works as a coach in one of the St. Petersburg skating schools.
How did it all start? Do you remember a specific day when you looked at yourself in the mirror and thought: I’m fat. Or maybe the coach told you about being overweight?
Amina Atakhanova: When I just switched to pair skating, the coach said that there were problems with weight. No one put me on the scales, they didn’t weigh us, but they told me to watch the figure. I- also looked at other girls who were obviously thinner than me.
If you look objectively, were you really overweight?
Amina Atakhanova: I am muscular, I have never been super skinny. But I don’t think that I had excess fat, there were muscles that weigh a lot.
What steps did you take to lose weight?
Amina Atakhanova: At the age of 13, I was doing both singles and pairs. It was huge loads. Trainings and a healthy diet were enough to lose weight. When the transitional age began, nutrition alone could not solve the problem. I started to use other, not quite healthy, methods.
From a psychological point of view, was it difficult to accept a new body during the transition period?
Amina Atakhanova: I did not notice any drastic changes. Psychologically, it was difficult because elements did not work out, the results at the competitions worsened. I thought that all the problems because of my excess weight.
What are the most drastic weight loss measures you have taken?
Amina Atakhanova: I ran, wrapped in a film. We used to smear ourselves with a burning gel for weight loss, wrap ourselves in a film, put on several warm pants and run in a stuffy hall. I couldn’t run for more than an hour, after all, it’s a huge load for heart.
The coach saw these manipulations. How did the coach feel about such terrible methods of losing weight?
Amina Atakhanova: No, she didn’t see it. In Moscow, we had an underground hall with free access. The coach was not in the arena with us at that time.
Do I understand correctly that the desire to look good and show results prevailed over the desire to be healthy?
Amina Atakhanova: Of course, it prevailed. Especially when you perform at such a level… you don’t want to lower the bar. You look at yourself from the side, you think that you can look better.
Was it more important for you how you look or how you feel on the ice? Agree, you can have extra weight, but cope with it on the ice and perform the elements.
Amina Atakhanova: I think the main problem was that I was guided not by my appearance, but by the number on the scales. I weighed myself every half an hour, after every meal. Accordingly, if I saw the addition of a number, then it immediately seemed that I looked bigger.
Around the same time that we are talking about, there was a TV program about Yulia Antipova, who suffered from anorexia. Her story did not alert you?
Amina Atakhanova: The program was shown at the moment when I just moved to the group to Natalia Evgenievna Pavlova. Antipova skated in her group. Then I didn’t believe that the coach could bring her to anorexia. Of course, they could tell me that there is excess weight. But no one took a spoon out of my mouth, they didn’t forbid eating, they didn’t kick me out of training because of the weight. All my weight loss was my choice.
So the coach didn’t put any pressure on you?
Amina Atakhanova: I think the situation with Yulia Antipova affected not us, but the coaches. There was no pressure on us. We worked with a psychologist, we were given advice on nutrition. But at such a young age, you don’t accept help. You think you’re smarter and you know what to do.
I remember once, after a training camp in Kislovodsk, Natalia Evgenievna handed me over to my mother and said, on the contrary, to fatten me up, saying that I had lost a lot of weight, and she was worried about me.
Did all the girls in the group have problems with weight and nutrition?
Amina Atakhanova: We had a small group – only three pairs. Alisa Efimova has always been very small and thin. Sometimes they even set her as an example for us. The second girl, Sasha Shevchenko, also limited herself in nutrition, although she looked good. We tried to match the skinniest girl in the group.
Could you discuss your problem with your partner?
Amina Atakhanova: When problems with weight began, we tried to solve them together. If I go to the gym to lose weight, then the partner went to pump. But so it was with the second partner Nikita Volodin.
I did not share my feelings with the first partenr – Ilia Spiridonov. I was small, I lived alone in a strange city. And I didn’t tell anything to the coach, keeping everything inside.
Did your partners tell you that you are fat, that it is difficult for them to lift you?
Amina Atakhanova: No, it never happened.
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