How popular TikTok star and fitness enthusiast, Nathan Freihofer, battled with eating disorders as a teen

By Deepak Jain

Published: Wed 7 Dec 2022, 4:39 PM

Last updated: Wed 7 Dec 2022, 4:45 PM

For the casual followers or people who just come across his content on TikTok or YouTube, Nathan Freihofer is the picture-perfect healthy young man. The army veteran-turned-content creator and social media star are well known for sharing fitness tips, footage of his progress towards fitness goals, and the occasional bodybuilding pose image. Freihofer's message gets a deeper, more serious note for anyone who engages with his content a bit more.



“From 15 to 21, I was suffering from anorexia,” he explains. “It’s a health issue that cost me a lot and took six years of my life, and that’s why I want to talk about it. Specifically, I want to talk about anorexia in men because I think there hasn’t been much public conversation around it, and that might help someone seek out help.”

As a kid, Freihofer was involved with any sport he could find. He was a swimmer, played basketball, and was very good at soccer. He was driven and didn’t mind working hard to achieve his goals – and that’s what he’d usually do.

The troubles started when, suddenly, he felt his efforts falling short. “It was freshman year, and I just started doing bad out of the blue,” he says. “I was tired and thought it could be because everyone else just got better, which just happens.”

It wasn’t his performance with football that was suffering. His swimming was showing a decline, as did his track performance. To counter the issues, he did the only thing that crossed his mind – he started working out harder, looked at his diet, and eventually found the culprit in excess weight – something he wasn’t struggling with.

“I didn’t realise at the time that I had a hyperactive thyroid,” Freihofer says. “That caused the fatigue and messed up my performance, but I blamed it on weight gain, which set me up a downward spiral.”

Over the next couple of years, Freihofer went from improving his diet to reducing his caloric intake and ramping up his cardio exercises. Every new calorie was an enemy, and he felt the need to take care of it before it stuck around for long enough to add to his weight. Even when he eventually found out the real cause of his performance issues, it didn’t help.

“I went to therapy and ended up changing several therapists,” he says. “I’m not sorry I did it, and I don’t advise against it. I did it as hard as anything, but therapy wasn’t for me.”

What did eventually help Freihofer get on a healthier path was an accident that put him off cardio for a while. He broke his leg and was doing the only physical activity he could – lifting weights. The transformation he saw was enough to convince him that calories weren’t that bad – he used them to get stronger and eventually get some muscle mass.

“I saw that I can eat and not get fat. It’s just that my arms were getting bigger,” he explains. “And eventually, I’d go back to doing cardio to stay in shape for ROTC, which I was doing at the time but getting muscular instead of fat was the turning point on my journey with anorexia.”

With time and lots of work, Freihofer changed from a skinny young adult who runs to burn the little food he eats to a muscular young adult who eats what he wants and lifts weights. He also avoided the trap of exchanging one obsession for another and started lifting weights as obsessively as he avoided excess calories.

“I can have four days a week where I don’t work out because I’m doing computer stuff, and that’s okay,” he says. “I don’t have to do it. I want to do it because setting goals and reaching them feels good. Exercise helps me feel healthy. It’s good for my body and my mind.”

Deepak Jain is a freelance content writer.


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