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Starving Yourself Fat?: Mid-State Woman Shares Anorexia Battle for First Time--Mikayla Lewis

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NASHVILLE, Tennessee--Olivia West is local singer-songwriter with two healthy sons. Her health faced several challenges, though. West says anorexia back fired and she gained 200 pounds.

Weight issues started when West was 12-years-old. Her mother was morbidly obese at 400 pounds, but later in life had surgery. She did not want her daughters to suffer from obesity, so she put them on Weight Watchers.

Olivia West said, " We had to eat right to stay thin, while we were growing. Then my dad died when I was 15, and it was shocking and I couldn't eat."

Olivia West says she became addicted to the control of not eating and became anorexic. She only ate about 400-800 calories a day, eating plain lettuce. She also began working out excessively: running up to ten miles daily, on top of doing work out videos and 1,000 sit ups a day. Her 5"8 frame was 140 pounds, but her body fat was three percent.

When West was pregnant with her sons, she ate healthy during those times. After giving birth to her second son, she went back to her old habits. This time she gained weight rapidly, instead of losing it. She says she gained about a pound a day, reaching 370 pounds.

"I had no idea what was going on at first, and my doctors didn't believe me," added West.

Olivia West says her doctor discovered anorexia caused many health problems for her, including a metabolic disorder. She says her body went into starvation mode, and ate her muscle mass. Her body stored her food as fat.

The Eating Disorders Coalition of Tennessee says that West's case is rare but she is not alone. Thirty million Americans struggle with eating disorders, and many cases are not reported. 20 million women and 10 million men face the mental illness which includes bulimia and binge eating. The non-profit provides free treatment and resources for anyone dealing with eating disorders.

Eating Disorders Coalition of Tennessee executive director, Kathleen Yabroudy says, " Eating disorders actually have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses, so it's not something to take lightly. "

West is lighter these days, she lost 200 pounds by regular diet and exercise. She says its still a daily struggle to not fall back into anorexia, but she continues to lose about 25pounds a year in a healthy way.
She is now working on her third album, and says she is happy to finally speak about her addiction.

West said, "Coming out about it is very difficult, but important. "

For more information on The Eating Disorders Coalition of Tennessee, CLICK HERE.

For more information on Olivia West, CLICK HERE.

Follow Mikayla Lewis on Twitter @MikaylaFox17.

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