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Sophia Thiel: fitness influencer on eating disorder and the YouTube exit

picture alliance / Geisler-Fotopress | Christoph Hardt / Geisler Photo Press

Sophia Thiel was and is one of the most famous German fitness influencers. Until 2019, the now 26-year-old published videos on the subject of exercise and nutrition. She posted workout videos and vlogs documenting the meals she ate during the day. She always emphasized healthy and sustainable eating and sports behavior. But then – almost two years ago – the young influencer suddenly disappeared from the scene. Neither on Youtube nor on other social media did she get in touch. Today, two years later, the reason is clear: she suffered from an eating disorder and needed a break. In an interview with “Fitbook” she explains what her reasons were for disappearing, how she fared and what ultimately helped her.

She suffered from the eating disorder in early adolescence. For too long, she had not noticed it herself, had considered her eating and sports behavior to be necessary and justified discipline and willpower. Until one day it became too much for her. Over time, worse and worse binge eating increased, which in turn resulted in even stricter regulations. She was extremely unhappy, she said. In addition, her job as a fitness influencer put enormous pressure on her to always look perfect and not have any problems. “I’m Sophia Thiel, diet is my job. People ask me to have a six-pack, ”she said.

The low point came at FIBO 2019

One day before FIBO 2019, the world’s largest fitness fair, she would have had her personal low. She no longer knew what to do with her and then broke off all of her performances and went into hiding. For several months she went to Los Angeles, where she suffered from bad binge eating almost every day. In retrospect, she was diagnosed with eating-vomiting addiction (bulimia nervosa). During the time she was in hiding, Thiel began psychotherapy.

Today she says that she has learned to let go of various ideals with regard to sports and eating behavior, ideals of beauty and pressure in the head. The therapy has helped her tremendously to deal with her eating disorder and to become happy again. She emphasizes that dealing with her eating disorder “is and will remain a process, and even today I sometimes have flashbacks and on some days I feel uncomfortable with my skin. But that’s completely normal. That’s why I can’t say that I am completely healed and that I no longer have any problems with anything. I think an eating disorder is something you have to deal with for a lifetime, but it gets easier with time. ”

It is particularly important to her to now convey experiences to the outside world. She wants to show the users, but above all the younger generations, that the fitness world is not associated with the ease with which it is often presented. She would like to enable a transparent approach to nutrition, sport and ideals of beauty and therefore return to her job as an influencer – and speak openly and honestly about her experiences in order to help other people.

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