Sunday, February 26, 2006
"Building Healthier Body Images"
For five years, as a girl becoming a woman, Kori Hintz struggled to recognize and overcome her eating disorder. Her past was her prologue, in a way. Now, at 32, Hintz joins the struggles of other girls and women, coaxing them out of their isolation and secrecy.
Hintz is the executive director and a licensed clinical counselor at Renew Eating Disorder Recovery Center, which opened last September in Olathe. She lives in Overland Park. Today begins National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.
Q. When did you eating disorder behaviors start?
A. In the seventh grade, and thats a typical time. Its when most adolescents start gaining weight. Then the talk starts of dieting and fast fixes to lose weight. In the eight grade I started to have a lot of the criteria of anorexia nervosa. I was eating as little as one meal a day, as little as I could get away with.
Why was this happening?
Everybody is different. For me, it was self-punishment. I really was striving to be perfect. But to me I wasnt the perfect student, the perfect daughter, the perfect friend, the perfect athlete. That failure was unacceptable to me. In ninth grade, it turned into bulimia, binging on large quantity of food, then purging -- vomiting, excessive exercise.
Did anyone else recognize this about you?
I told different high school friends that I struggled with this. I felt ashamed for even saying it. The typical response was, Thats stupid; youre not fat; just stop. And I thought, Youre right. Ill just stop. I kept trying to stop for five years. The symptoms would decrease, but they would come back. It was a nightmare. It was like having two identities.
Do parents realize what their daughters are going through?
I get phone calls and e-mails from teenagers who are struggling, and theyre too embarrassed to tell their parents. Theyre afraid their parents will be disappointed in them. My mom was really shocked. I made excuses and she believed my lies. Theres a lot of dishonesty to keep an eating disorder alive. But once my parents knew, they were very supportive.
What finally helped you?
Counseling helped greatly, and Im so thankful for that. And friendships. In college I started new friendships and allowed friends to know me. When I wanted to binge or purge, I would call a friend and they would come hang out with me. Letting people into your world brings it out of the darkness.
How did your experience translate into working with others?
Shortly after I was healed from the eating disorder, people started coming into my life even in college who had eating disorders and other issues. I developed a mentoring relationship with them. My passion to help just continued to grow the more I read and researched. People with eating disorders are some of the most beautiful, kind, generous, loyal friends and the most wonderful people you can meet. They have beautiful hearts, but they have lost their identities. I have the privilege of helping them find who they are.