Katherine Schreiber crept up to her room and closed her door quietly. With that privacy, she went to work. She raised her heart rate in secret. Jumping jacks, burpees, or lunges—it didn’t matter—she was in control.

At the age of 12, Katherine couldn’t cope with her parents’ divorce, comprehend the tragedy of the 9/11 attacks, or control her debilitating thoughts about her appearance, which led to smoking and drinking heavily. After a brief spell at a “scared straight boot camp for troubled girls,” she was searching to fill a void. Then, she found exercise.

With exercise, she could control her appearance.

At 15, Katherine began to work out regularly. At 18, she became fixated with the numbers of her performance: how many calories she was burning, how many repetitions she was doing, how many times a day she visited the gym, and how many hours she spent working out.

Nothing could keep her out of the gym—not even a doctor’s orders. She exercised through a fever, a herniated disc in her back, and stress fractures in her feet.

Katherine could not stop. She had to continue because she felt like the world would end if she stopped. The fear of becoming overweight, as well as losing control, constantly loomed over her. At the time, working through injuries was worth it to Katherine. When she wasn’t exercising, she wasn’t herself.

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