Former Hitchin schoolgirl talks about her struggle with anorexia athletica on ITV’s This Morning

Natalie Lawrence appeared on ITV's This Morning on Tuesday to discuss her struggles with the disorde

Natalie Lawrence appeared on ITV's This Morning on Tuesday to discuss her struggles with the disorder. - Credit: Archant

A former triathlete whose life was turned upside down by a form of anorexia appeared on ITV’s This Morning yesterday to warn young people that taking exercise to the extreme can have dire consequences – and that no-one should be ashamed of their bodies.

Natalie Lawrence – who used to attend Hitchin Girls’ School – was diagnosed with osteopenia eight years ago, a condition prescribed by an obsession with exercise which is more commonly known as anorexia athletica.

The 29-year-old was once ranked as the 18th best triathlete in the world, but found that an overemphasis on achieving the ‘perfect’ weight pushed her to exercise for eight hours a day – to the point which she sometimes ran until she fainted.

Now Natalie is fit and healthy once again, but the mother-of-two – who appeared on This Morning earlier this week alongside sport psychologist Dr Jill Owen – believes the dangers of slipping into an unhealthy exercise regime must be brought further into the public domain.

Although she is exercising in a much more controlled manner now, Natalie – who now works as a massage therapist and runs Transition Tri – believes the mental disorder will never fully leave her.

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She told the Comet: “Although it is fantastic that we have such amazing role models as Jessica Ennis-Hill winning Olympic medals, some young people involved in sport may feel a pressure to push themselves to extremes to achieve their weight goals.

“What I want to say to anyone suffering with anorexia is that they don’t have to be ashamed.

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“There used to be a real shame about admitting to this sort of disorder, perhaps like with mental conditions, but now these conditions are being put in the spotlight and they are not taboo subjects anymore.

“There are also a lot of fad diets flying around which are very accessible for young boys and girls.

“If they are also over-exercising this can present a real danger to their health.

“Young people have more access to the internet as well these days and there are diet pills which can have adverse effects on your body.”

You can find out more about Natalie’s story by following her on Twitter at @nataliebarnard1.

The charity B-eat can also offer help and support for those struggling with anorexia through its helpline on 0345 634 1414.

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