Alexa PenaVega, 27, may have danced her last dance on “Dancing With the Stars” but she went out with big scores for both her dancing skills with professional partner Mark Ballas, as well as for using the platform to share her personal journey and struggles with bulimia through a contemporary dance he created for the occasion.
“A lot of people are afraid or get uncomfortable talking about issues like this,” Mark said. “But I think that it’s good to tackle the topic head on.”
Best known for her role as Carmen Cortez in “Spy Kids,” and its sequels,”Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams,” “Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over,” and “Spy Kids: All the Time in the World.,” Vega (who changed her name to PenaVega after marrying Carolos Pena Jr. in 2013) stated that her 6-year battle with bulimia started when a movie producer told her she was too fat. Although she has since recovered, it was not easy.
“I wish I’d had somebody who could have told me, ‘It’s scary,'” she told People.com “You read textbooks and it’s just so, well, textbook. ‘This is how you get over bulimia.’ But it is so much deeper than that,” she continued. “I wish I’d had somebody who could have told me, ‘It’s scary.’ You struggle giving it up. You want to get rid of it but you struggle because, in a strange way, you enjoy it.”
Following her elimination, Alexa’s husband, Carlos, who is also a contestant on the show, posted a supportive message about his wife on Instagram which read, “I am the luckiest man in the world. I would do anything for this woman. She gave it her all. She was brave. She was a positive light. Tonight she showed the world that she was not afraid of her past. The courage she gives me can not be matched. Alexa..You are my rock. You have given millions of people hope.”
According to the CDC, approximately 6.5 million people worldwide were diagnosed with bulemia in 2013., In fact, it is reported that nearly 1% of female teens have bulimia at a given point in time and about 2%- 3% of women have the disorder, which ischaracterized by binge eating followed by purging by forced vomiting or taking laxatives. Other efforts to lose weight may include the use of diuretics,stimulants, fasting, or excessive exercise. Ironically, most people with bulimia have a normal weight. In addition, bulimia is often associated with other mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and problems with drugs or alcohol There is also a higher risk of suicide and self-endangerment.
The cycle of over-eating following purging may be repeated several times a week or, in more serious cases, several times a dayand may directly cause: Chronic gastric reflux after eating; Dehydration and hypokalemia caused by frequent vomiting; Electrolyte imbalance, which can lead to cardiac arrhythmia, cardiac arrest, and even death; Inflammation of the esophagus; Rupture in the esophageal wall due to vomiting; Tooth erosion; Constipation or delayed elimination; Mallory-Weiss tears; Enlarged salivary glands under the jawline; Peptic ulcers, scarring on back of the knuckles and even infertility. People with bulimia have also been known to suffer physical complications such as tetany, epileptic seizures, cardiac arrhythmias and muscle weakness.
Signs that someone is suffering from bulimia include low self-esteem, obsession with counting calories and food consumed. Constant trips to the bathroom, irregular periods, and low blood pressure, as well as bouts of gluttony.