A figure skater was weeks from death after dropping to just 74lbs.
At 16, Nicole Rossi, from Michigan, started becoming more conscious of what she ate in the belief ‘clean’ foods would help her training.
Yet, the now 21-year-old quickly developed anorexia, which led to her chewing gum to stave off hunger pangs and existing on just an apple a day for two weeks straight.
Ms Rossi, who eventually became too frail to skate, said: ‘I could feel that I was dying, I felt very zombie-like and had no personality left but all I cared about was losing more weight and eating as few calories as possible.’
Ms Rossi was later hospitalised, with doctors warning the former skater her organs shutting down.
Spurred on by this wake-up call, Ms Rossi, who now weighs a healthy 103lbs, vowed to quit skating for good and fight her way through her disorder so she could one day start a family with her boyfriend Jacob.
Now training to be a therapist, she is speaking out to encourage other anorexia sufferers to be honest about what they are going through.
Figure skater Nicole Rossi was weeks from death after dropping to just 74lbs. Pictured before she developed anorexia, Ms Rossi claims the condition began with her eating ‘clean’ foods to help her skating training before quickly developing into an obsession
At her lowest weight, Ms Rossi would chew gum to stave off hunger pangs and existed on just an apple a day for two weeks. With her hair falling out and her frequently fainting, Ms Rossi was eventually hospitalised when her organs started shutting down
After hearing she had just weeks left, Ms Rossi fought her way through her disorder, motivated by her desire to have a family with her boyfriend Jacob (pictured after her recovery)
‘All I cared about was the number on the scale’
Ms Rossi began figure skating when she was just 18 months old and blames the sport for the eating disorder she later developed.
She said: ‘Figure skating is what led to my anorexia and it worsened my thoughts.
‘At first, I changed my eating habits into only eating healthy foods but this led to me staving myself to the point where I couldn’t even skate anymore.
‘I started counting calories and became very obsessed with lowering the number. I got this high from starving myself and exercising.
‘I also became obsessed with exercising, so I’d train for hours on the ice five days a week and then run a few miles on the treadmill each day.
‘The more I exercised, the less I ate. Once the disease took hold of me, I didn’t even care about skating anymore. All I cared about was the number on the scale, how many calories I ate and the number of calories I burned.’
Ms Rossi (pictured right after overcoming her ordeal) claims she stopped caring about figure skating, with her only focus being cutting calories and lowering the number on the scale. When ill (left), Ms Rossi would ‘body check’, which involved her counting her visible bones
Ms Rossi (pictured right before she became ill) has given up figure skating due to her blaming it for her disorder (left). She claims anorexia left her ‘very isolated from the world’ and reluctant to socialise due to get togethers with family and friends typically involving food
‘I didn’t care that I was losing my life’
Ms Rossi became so focused on loosing weight, she stopped socialising with friends, saying: ‘When I was in the depths of anorexia, I felt very isolated from the world.
‘I knew hanging out with people would involve food. I refused to have family dinners and I’d never go out to eat.’
Ms Rossi’s condition then caused her to become so weak she could barely walk or shower by herself.
She said: ‘I became so addicted to losing weight and starving myself that I didn’t care that I was losing my life.
‘All my muscle had wasted away and I was too weak to do anything besides lie in bed and sleep all day.’
As well as severely restricting her calorie intake, Ms Rossi also took laxatives for three months.
She said: ‘They made me feel miserable to the point where I’d cry on the bathroom floor for hours, but it seemed worth it because my stomach felt more sunken and the weight went down each time.’
Although Ms Rossi managed to continue figure skating while ill for a while (seen left) she eventually became too frail to compete on the ice (pictured right before becoming unwell)
Being told her disorder left her with just weeks to live, Ms Rossi (pictured left when ill and right before) finally realised she was not living and had to stop revolving her life around food
‘You aren’t truly living when you have an eating disorder’
Speaking of being hospitalised, Ms Rossi said: ‘I was told that I only had a few weeks to live, but I didn’t think that I had gone that far.’
Despite previously claiming to not care that she was dying, hearing it from doctors really hit home.
Ms Rossi said: ‘I was literally knocking on death’s door and I was terrified. So, I made the choice to start eating simply because I wanted to live.
‘I have a wonderful boyfriend who I want to have a future with. I wanted to be able to have kids and build a family together, and I knew I couldn’t do that if I wasn’t alive.
‘You aren’t truly living when you have an eating disorder. I needed to give up on my anorexia and start living, instead of my life being revolved around food, weight and calories.’
Now a healthy 7st 4lb (right), Ms Rossi is training to become a therapist to help others overcome the eating disorder she battled with for so many years (seen top and bottom left)
Ms Rossi claims looking back at when she was ill (pictured) makes her realise how much stronger she is now she has beaten the disease and can share her story with others
‘I feel grateful just to be on this earth’
Despite her ordeal, Ms Rossi claims battling anorexia has made her appreciate what she has.
She said: ‘I can look at life much differently now and I value myself more now. After almost dying from anorexia I feel more grateful just to be on this earth. I no longer value training or skating over my own health.
‘Recovering from anorexia is a lifelong process. Even when I have bad days I know that I never want to go back to anorexia again.
‘I’ve had to stop training and competing for skating, stop counting calories and stop stepping on the scale. I also stopped body checking, which I used to do constantly when I was checking for bones, and stop chewing gum.
‘Looking back at the painful memories has made me a stronger woman. I feel strong to have beaten anorexia and I feel lucky that I survived and can share my story.’
Ms Rossi is speaking out to inspire other anorexia patients, saying: ‘The first thing I would say is to reach out to someone, either a parent, family member, friend or even a stranger. Tell them you are struggling and that you need help.
‘In order to recover from an eating disorder you need to seek professional help. You also need to recognise or admit that you have a problem to move forward.
‘When you keep your eating disorder to yourself, the disease gets stronger. Anorexia thrives on secrecy. An eating disorder will have less control over you when you allow yourself to open up about it.’