flesl.net paired stories: supplementary reading: “Peter Czerwinski”

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Peter Czerwinski

In December 2002, Peter Czerwinski was admitted to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto in eastern Canada. He was suffering from severe anorexia.

Several years earlier Peter had begun lifting weights in his high school gymnasium in Mississauga, a Toronto suburb. But he did not take his lifting very seriously until early 2002 when he signed up for a special course and began to follow a correct training routine.

After he had been doing this for a while, Peter noticed that his body was beginning to change. He was becoming more muscular but he was also losing weight. This made him happy because he had a strong fear of getting fat. Unlike most bodybuilders, he was more interested in losing weight than in increasing the size of his muscles.

Around this time, Peter also started to feel slightly depressed. One reason for this was that he was worried about his parents’ health. His mother, who had multiple sclerosis, was hospitalized for two weeks with kidney and pancreas problems. His father was in hospital for a longer time being treated for bipolar disorder. And to make matters worse, Peter himself developed swollen lymph glands and was told by his doctor that he might have cancer.

Despite his worries, when school was finished, Peter went to a summer camp to work as a counsellor. While he was there he did four hours of kayaking a day. When he came home his weight was down to around 80 kilograms, well below normal for someone of his height of 188cm.

Despite his weight loss, however, Peter’s fear of getting fat was becoming greater and greater. He decided to do more exercise. Every day, he ran ten kilometers and then went to a gym to use a treadmill and an exercise bike.

Peter also got interested in following a special diet as a way of keeping his weight down. At first he just tried to eat healthy foods but then he started worrying about counting calories. Soon he was almost obsessed by this idea. (“Calories” are a way of measuring the ability of particular food to provide energy.) He decided he would try to take in less than 1000 calories a day, even though the normal intake for someone his size was over 2000.