Project Description

Dietitian Marisa Michael on Disordered Eating and RED-S in Climbers

Date: January 15th, 2020

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About Marisa Michael

Marisa Michael is a dietitian, a personal trainer, and an athlete. She’s been a dietitian for 17 years and has a private practice at where she helps athletes optimize nutrition for sports performance, from recreational to elite. While she has mainly focused on running and triathlons, 5 years ago when her son got into climbing, she followed suit.

The reason I wanted to speak with Marisa is that she has a lot of knowledge about eating disorders in athletes and she’s done some research on Relative Energy Deficiency in Sports (RED-S) syndrome. RED-S is basically when an athlete doesn’t consume enough calories to support the activity they do, and therefore they stop menstruating and/or have decreased bone density. They can also suffer from fatigue, anemia, poor recovery, and many other things. This used to be called the Female Athlete Triad, but it was renamed to include males.

RED-S in the Climbing Community

Many climbers have been coming forward and talking openly about their struggles with RED-S, eating disorders or both of those issues, and I wanted Marisa to shed a little more light on the topic. Specifically, Mina Leslie-Wujastyk has written about her recent RED-S diagnosis and her current campaign to heal her body. She’s been open about it on her Instagram account, which I respect immensely. She’s personally responsible for 2 of my female nutrition clients finally being willing to go see a doctor about losing their periods.

In this interview we go over the research that Marisa and her colleagues have done on eating disorders in climbers and other athletes, as well as a discussion about RED-S. We use Mina as an example throughout the conversation, and I have Mina’s permission to publish this interview.

I hope this interview helps you understand the nuances of RED-S and disordered eating a little bit better. Even if you don’t suffer from either, I think it’s helpful for all of us to be aware of these very prevalent issues so we might encourage others to get the help they need.

Marisa Michael Interview Details

  • Kids climbing team survey results on disordered eating
  • How to talk to kids about weight
  • Correlation between BMI & climbing ability in kids
  • RED-S explanation
  • Study on prevalence of eating disorders in 600 climbers
  • How Mina was a normal weight and still RED-S
  • Signs of RED-S besides loss of period
  • How to choose health practitioner for RED-S

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TrainingBeta is a site dedicated to training for rock climbing. We provide resources and information about training for routes, bouldering, finger strength, mental training, nutrition for climbers, and everything in between. We offer climbing training programs, climbing training classes, nutrition classes, regular blog posts, interviews on The TrainingBeta Podcast, personal coaching for climbing, and nutrition for climbers.

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