How often do you work out? 3-4 times a week? And it probably lasts, what? An hour?
To Erin, that's a slight warm-up.
Erin, who is appearing on an upcoming episode of The Doctors is seeking help for her exercise addiction. The 39-year-old woman exercises every day, for over 8 hours. She only sleeps for two or three hours a day to make sure she has time to go to work and exercise.
“I exercise eight hours a day,” she says in an preview for the show. “I never get tired, I don’t get sore.”
But while she may not FEELING sore, her medical tests reveal something entirely different.
Erin's muscles are deteriorating due to her compulsive exercise. Her red blood cells are abnormal, her white blood cell count is high, and she may even have an enlarged heart.
“I’m so glad you took that test, because otherwise you may have just found this out through an emergency,” Dr. Jorge Rodriguez tells her. "Erin is the most ill person, the sickest person we’ve had on the show in my opinion.”
But Erin doesn't see it that way.
“I just think of myself as so healthy,” Erin sobs. “I don’t feel like I have an issue with food. I just don't want to know [how much she weighs.]"
But psychotherapist Dr. Erin Foster disagrees. Erin had an eating disorder at age 15, and Dr. Foster says "food is also a problem."
“I’ll cancel plans, I’ll cancel appointments. It’s been controlling my life,” she says. “I just can’t stop. It’s not giving me the rush that I used to feel just doing three to four hours. I’m just scared my body’s going to break down."
So what prompted Erin to let exercise take over her life?
“Eight months ago I got a message from a girl. It triggered a memory that I had suppressed for 30 years,” she says. “Basically from that time on I’ve been adding on exercise so that I can just forget about that whole nightmare of those four years of life.”
Supposedly the message is about years of traumatic abuse suffered at the hands of a childhood friend.
Physician Travis Stork says there's no reason Erin can't accomplish a full recovery.
“We can medically get you to a healthier place. But we can’t improve that until we stop the behaviors that have led to that outcome. You can’t tackle a problem until you acknowledge you have a problem. Without seeking help, you can’t do it alone. You are a shining example.”
Erin has been offered 60 days on in-patient treatment at Haven Hills, a small recovery center for people with eating disorders.