Anorexia the Height of Achievement to Women of Means [and the go-to look for the affluent older men in their lives]

3a44935300000578-3955356-critics_say_celebrities_like_alexa_chung_33_-a-52_1479682994594Alexa Chung, 34.

At my health club, there is a certain go-to look among the women of affluence: “Long, lean, timeless and elegant” is the way its described.

Bulky, curvy and/or overly muscled women are considered low class.

It’s a look relegated to strippers, sugar babies, and prostitutes for the most part.

But it can also include tattoo artists, bartenders, figure models, and “convention” girls hired to showcase things like expensive automobiles.

Thus, an incredibly thin body has become the new way to signal wealth and distinguish oneself from the masses.

“I’m successful, intelligent and at the top of my game…”


Alexa Chung Amal Clooney look so under-developed that, in some cases, critics say they appear pre-pubescent.

Some stars appear to have waists the same sizes as catwalk models, many of whom measure 24in — the same as an eight-year-old child.


Achieving this look suggests an abundance of leisure time, which is also important element in this equation, reinforcing the overall narrative.

One must spend hours honing their physiques at the gym, and “the income to maintain a fantastically expensive diet and exercise regime.”

Of course, pressure from outside sources as well as from their own personal relationships play a part.
Many affluent older men I happen to know personally prefer this look in their women.

They see it as intelligent, sophisticated and timeless…kind of the way they see themselves.

The women, therefore, are reflections of their narcissistic projection.

A businessman wants to introduce a Stepford Wife to his colleagues because of what it conveys.

After all, no one could possibly suggest that she didn’t care about her appearance, or that she was unhappy at home…or depressed.

In fact, quite the opposite.

When a man introduces a woman who is curvy or in any way carrying extra baggage, the take-away is that he is less successful, less powerful.

Further to this is simple physics.

Smaller women are also easier to control in bed, thus reinforcing the man’s power and influence. As men age, they are less agile, which emaciation on the part of the partner mitigates.

And finally, there is the “pre-pubescent” thing.

I hate to dwell here, but in my view, many of these men secretly harbor a fetish for little girls. It’s kind of like statutory rape, only legal.

Seriously, why else would grown men prefer sleeping with someone who resembles a 12-year-old child?

Confessions of a Recovering Middle-Age Exercise Addict

6c261afc-e516-11e5-9142-f1bda08aded3Yea, I was there.

Thankfully, I lived to tell the tale.

The following is a true story and the world I describe is an accurate portrayal of addiction in motion.


While not a standalone DSM-5 disorder, exercise dependence is closely associated with individuals who struggle with eating disorders, for example.

Many use exercise as a way to compensate for binge eating (bulimia nervosa) by tacking on extra activity to compensate for all the empty calories. It’s not like they’re gorging themselves on chicken breasts and broccoli for God’s sake.

Those with anorexia [extreme caloric limitation] use exercise in a compulsive way to control their weight.

Medical complications from exercise dependence are legion: Cardiovascular events like heart attacks and strokes, absence of menstration, stress fractures, osteoporosis and other overuse injuries.

While some don’t suffering clinical eating disorders, they may still engage in compulsive exercise, spending excessive time engaged in physical activity in the name of health – or to ward off uncomfortable feelings – clinical depression high up on the list of usual suspects.

Typically, these individuals feel guilty when they miss a workout and experience signs of withdrawal, like irritability, anxiety, or depression when their exercise schedules are compromised.

In my world [successful middle-aged urban men], this is considered normal and healthy.

I’m joking of course.

The following are the most common signatures of exercise addiction among older men:

1] If I don’t work out all the time I’m going to fall apart like everyone else my age.

2] If I skip a day, I feel like crap…both physically and psychologically.

3] Though I’m in denial, existential pain is a bitch, and working out 5 hours a day is healthier than heroin.

4] I want people to be proud of me, respect me, give me something I can no longer find within myself, like youth. 

5] My marriage is falling apart. What do you expect?

6] I may be gay after all…at 40 or 50 or 60 or 70…

7] When people ask me why I’m always at the gym, I tell them “what else do I have to do?” In addiction-speak: My world is devoid of balance.

Okay, you get the point. 

So which exercises are most closely associated with addiction?


As everyone in their right mind knows, strength training in combination with flexibility work, cardiovascular conditioning for no more than an hour at a time, combined with a weekly recovery schedule is the healthy way forward for all aging athletes, not 10k runs in 90 degree heat…week after week after week.

And people wonder why most top athletes drop out of Hell Week of SEAL training – and these people are already top athletes in their early 20’s.

I know. Reality is a bitch.


I used to be one of those people, training 3 hours a day, 7 days a week, and nothing whatsoever to talk about but diet and exercise.

We tend to feed the addiction through camaraderie with other addicts.

In psych circles it’s known as codependency.

But whatever you call it, my little party was about to end.

One week after my 49th birthday, I awoke from a fitful night’s sleep with a raging fever of 102 with extreme inflammation from head to toe.

I knew right away that Tylenol wasn’t going to cut whatever this was,  so I dragged myself to a nearby emergency room where I was diagnosed with Rhabdomyolysis [extreme muscle tissue breakdown that results in the release of a protein (myoglobin) into the blood], which can and will damage the kidneys if not contained.

Fortunately for me, I caught it just in time.

After I was stabilized, my personal physician and I had a heart to heart. he told me in no uncertain terms that I had to stay out of the gym for 30 days, get a personal trainer…and, if necessary, see a psychiatrist before it was too late.

I didn’t ask him to elaborate. I didn’t need to.

After a couple of weeks, the inflammation began to subside, but now depression took it’s place.

I felt like I was climbing out of my skin.

In drug addiction parlance, it’s referred to as the DT’s [drug withdrawal tremors].

While the actual symptoms are different, the downward spiral isn’t.


When I started with my trainer, the first lesson I had to learn was moderation.

This didn’t mean that my training wouldn’t be tough, but that it would take into account every aspect of what it means to be human.

1] I’m no longer 21.

2] Recovery is a critical component of performance. 

3] A balanced life is a life well lived. 

4] I will never be perfect, nor will anyone else. 

5] Life gives and takes, but mostly takes when you don’t respect its boundaries.


How did this happen to me?

It happened to me the same way it happens to everyone else: Over time exercise becomes a reliable escape from existential pain. 

You don’t have to take a pill or go to a therapist or even engage in discussions that lead to that rabbit hole of self awareness.

All you have to do is run, swim, bike, lift…crawl if you have to.

But nothing about extreme athletics is normal for anyone not involved in professional sports; particularly hitting the middle years and beyond.

After pulling through this nightmare myself, while at the same time losing close friends to exercise anorexia, I guess you could say I’m a bit resentful of the denial.



I could go on and on and on and on.

But I’ve known junkies who’ve wanted to kill me over a conversation, so for many, this is an exercise in futility.

“Manorexia:” It’s Not Just Women


For nearly a decade celebrity jeweler Stephen Webster, 56, pictured with Christina Aguilera, fought a private battle with anorexia [and depression].

At his lowest point, Stephen Webster, who is 5’10” tall, weighted 112 pounds.

By comparison, Mick Jagger, who is 5’10” tall, weighs 161 pounds.

I’ll let you ponder that for a moment…


Okay, now that you have that image firmly in your head, you should know that after fighting through his disorder, he is now 154 pounds.

Hardly robust, but not on a feeding tube.

So, good.


Men of my socioeconomic demographic are often found at the gym, if only because they appear to live in them.

Most are in their late 40’s to early 50’s because that’s about as far as you can push back on the aging process and still land on your feet.

By the time you hit your late 50’s, you can land on one foot, but it’s not as pretty.

Having said this, anyone who’s spent a lifetime keeping fit will tell you that at least a tinge of obsession is necessary to maintain it.

For myself, eating is usually a nightmare.

Let me phrase this another way: For myself, eating is something I have lodged firmly in my head from the moment I wake up.  

It’s not like it was back in the day when I looked forward to a breakfast of half and half over Frosted Flakes and two whole eggs over easy in actual butter, which I also applied to toasted white Sunbeam bread.

I know. Great right?

Now it’s 6 boiled egg-whites and a bowl of steel cut oats with almond butter and a banana.

If I ate the first breakfast for a week I’d die on the gym floor.

First, I need good carbs, ones that burn slowly, hence the oats.

If I ate the first one my blood sugar would spike, then crash…me along with it. And if that didn’t do me in the saturated fat would.

See, blood sugar becomes a big deal as you age, particularly for men like me who workout a lot.

While I am not diabetic, I do experience bouts of hypoglycemia when i don’t take in enough calories to carry me through an intense workout.

For more on hypoglycemia, click here:

I experienced the same thing as a young man, but now I’m more conscious of it, as I am of everything else because I feel more physically vulnerable than I did back then.

This is what I refer to as age-acquired neurosis.

So not only am I not eating anything I feel like putting in my mouth in an effort to avoid all the aforementioned problems, but I also want to keep my body fit and trim.

Now the plot is as thick as pack ice:

1] I think about when to eat so that I have the energy necessary to fuel my workouts.This alone is exhausting.

2] I carefully consider healthy food choice alternative, which is also a pain in the ass. 

3] I want to maintain a healthy appearance, which is predicated on the previous two line items. Now eating is kind of like a second job.

Back to Stephen Webster and many others like him, physical appearance can become an obsession after a while because it’s so hard to maintain.

Add an addictive personalty, ambition and vanity, and you’re completely and utterly screwed.

I know men at my gym who are on the hamster wheel, working out 3 times a day in race to beat time.

They never do.

Most of them are anorexic and in complete denial.

They eat just enough to get through their grueling workouts and them eat again to get through the next one in line.

They have no personal lives. And their interactions with others is limited to discussions about workouts and diet.

I’m sure you know a few yourself.

Pity them. They are in pain even if they don’t realize it.

Their bodies are shutting down, their lives have burned down to an ember of balance.

In this sense, they’re already dead.

If you think I’m being overly dramatic, check out Stephen Webster’s struggles for yourself:


I will always dance delicately near the edge in order to meet my needs without falling off the cliff.

It’s a struggle we all face as we age and want to live healthy, balanced lives.

Some turn to “youth-enhancing” drugs to help maintain their strength and low body-fat without having to severely restrict their diets, but they are killing themselves in other ways as they swap one addiction for another.

Average people have no idea what I’m talking about.

But I don’t know any of them.