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UW-L seniors make inspiring video to help fight eating disorders

Students are 'Embracing the strength within the struggle'

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Many people are well on their way to a healthier New Year, but two seniors at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse want to remind everyone to take it in stride.

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa, 25 percent of college-aged women engage in binging and purging as a means to control their weight.

With losing weight ranking high on the list of New Year's resolutions, Paige Rice and Nicole Ryan don't want anyone to go overboard.  They've created a video on YouTube, with the help of Henry Hougen, to share their own personal experience and make a difference in someone else's life.

Rice has been a dancer her whole life.  Last year she was the captain of the dance team and found it very rewarding, but at times the stress became too much.

"I would get home and have a bowl of cereal, then one turned into two…two turned into three…and then I would get rid of it. I would throw up," said Rice.


Because Rice's schedule was influenced by others, she found a way to take back control through her eating habits.

"I would restrict hardcore, and then I would binge and purge or would get rid of it through exercises as much as I could," said Rice.

Rice struggles with bulimia.

"I would remember days where I would put on jeans and I would obsess over my thighs and feel like a whale walking through campus," said Rice.

Rice decided to get help last March when she hit rock bottom, but in order to do that, she had to give up dance.

"As tough as it was, I had to quit," said Rice.

Giving up her passion wasn't easy, but Rice quickly found a purpose for quitting.  Rice and her friend Nicole Ryan, who also struggles with an eating disorder, decided they wanted to help people.

"This is an illness that is struggled with more than people realize and so we are just trying to make it okay for them to talk about and not be ashamed of," said Ryan.

They decided to make a video about their own personal struggles in hopes of inspiring others in a similar situation, although they admit it wasn't always easy to talk about.

"I hated talking about it. This has really made me start getting more comfortable with it, and so obviously if I am going to be promoting this, I need to do it myself," said Ryan.

They both admit that it is getting easier.

"If talking about it helps one person talk about it, I will be fine all day talking about it," said Rice.

It's a topic they believe needs to be talked about more in a public atmosphere, and the video is their way of starting the conversation.

"I want people's quality of life to go through the roof. I want joy and embracing their strength within their struggles to actually happen and be happy," said Rice.

"It's been wonderful and it's going to get a lot better," said Ryan.

Rice and Ryan released the video in December and have already received a lot of inspirational feedback.  With more than 2,000 views on their video, Rice and Ryan said this is just the beginning.  Click here for a link to the video.

Rice and Ryan created a campaign called "Embracing the strength within the struggle."  If you would like to show your support for those fighting an eating disorder, you can purchase a bracelet on their website and wear it in honor of those who battle a disorder every day.


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