EAST TEXAS (KYTX) -- The numbers are staggering. Eight million or more people in the country have an eating disorder. And more than 50 percent of 13 year old's say they're unhappy with their bodies.
That's just about the time Melanie Young started spiraling into an aggressive eating disorder that stole much of her teenage years.
"My struggle with eating and understanding myself started in junior high," she said. "I can remember desperately wanting to be good at sports."
Young makes her living whipping boot campers into shape. You'd never know by looking at her now; that she was once consumed by an eating disorder.
"When I got to high school people didn't recognize me," she said. "That's how much weight I lost."
What started with running turned into a 40 pound weight loss in just three months.
"To me, I just wanted to be good at something," she said.
Young said her competitive nature fueled her desire to be thin; quickly creating an unhealthy relationship with food.
"Each day was a competition," she said. "So if I had two rice cakes and cantaloupe one day I would have 1.5 the next day. Then I'd go down to one."
And down Young's weight would go. At one point, she dropped to an unhealthy 70 pounds.
"When you are in that stage of an eating disorder, you're scared to do something different because then you are either going to start putting weight on or somebody else is controlling you."
On numerous occasions, Young's parents intervened and sent her to rehab. But not even doctors could get her to see that she was slipping away.
"You are dying. you are killing yourself. At that time I didn't hear all of that. All I heard was your thin."
Young eventually started doing therapy with horses, which helped, and so did a nutritionist who'd also suffered from an eating disorder.
"She's the first person who said to me, 'Melanie... here's the deal, you have to eat... you know you are going to have to eat so let's find what you'll eat."
After suffering for a close to a decade with anorexia, Young had a breakthrough.
"I just literally woke up one day and said what am I doing, ya know, this is crazy," she said. "I can't live my life in fear and that what this was... fear of failure."
Now, Young is helping other women get healthy, whether that's losing weight or overcoming an eating order like she did.
"It can get better, it gets better," she said. "You just have to keep pushing on."
Young said it is really important to find an accountability partner you trust, to keep you on track.