‘Bachelorette’ Contestant Opens Up About Eating Disorder

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ABC/Craig Sjodin

Contestants on season 16 of The Bachelorette.

A Bachelorette frontrunner opened up to Tayshia Adams about his struggle with eating disorders. Ben Smith, 30, is an Army Veteran who became a personal trainer after an injury ended his military career.

“I don’t wanna, like, lay all this on you, but, the reason that I’m in fitness and nutrition – I had an eating disorder for 15 years,” Smith tentatively told Adams. “I found out what girls were when I was 15. I realized they don’t like the fat kid and so I stopped eating, started working out all the time, lost like 70 pounds and had bulimia for 10 years when I was in my 20s.”

Despite being a taboo topic among men, eating disorders affect roughly 10 million men or more, Claire Mysko, CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association, told U.S. News. The publication reported it often goes undiagnosed in men since people don’t look for the signs among them and the symptoms may manifest differently.

Only Smith’s sister, Madalyn, knew the truth and he credits her with saving his life.

“I’m finally in a place now, where I feel safe and comfortable with the people that I live and work with,” Smith explained. I didn’t want to get, like, weirdly emotional, but I care a great deal about this. It’s just hard for me to let it out.”

Adams gave Smith the group date rose for showing up, something he promised to do for her.

“Today was a big day for Ben. That’s a heavy one and I’m sure he was scared and I can tell, like, he was not expecting to say that,” said Adams. She added, “Him opening up about something so deep and personal meant a lot. And honestly, my feelings are intensifying for these guys in ways that I never expected.”


Smith Showed up at Adams’ Doorstep After a Disappointing Date to Promise to Fight for Her

During a group date, Smith wanted to be the last one to talk to Adams, but overshot his efforts and didn’t get to speak with her. After she said she was disappointed, he decided to sneak away to her suite to make up for the lost time.

“I know the last time we spoke, it was, like kind of weird for me and probably for you also,” said the former Army Ranger. “I really just wanted to apologize for making you disappointed in me at the last afterparty.”

During the discussion, he promised to prove himself by fighting for her time as long as he is able. He then furthered their mini-date with surprise room service. This may have been a crucial step, as the following cocktail party was cut short, though Adams was able to speak with Smith who asked for her time right away.


An Injury Sidelined Smith’s Army Career

Smith is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and The United States Army Ranger School. However, his military career ended after he “suffered a life-changing back injury that shifted his priorities in life and ultimately led to his decision not to return to active duty,” according to his ABC profile.

He wrote about his time in the military on Instagram, saying “I am beyond blessed and honored to have spent time in foreign lands, doing foreign things with my brothers.”

The personal trainer elaborated, writing, “In a former life, living and working in austere, less than favorable conditions, for unknown and often extended periods of time was the norm. I am lucky to have had those experiences and I am proud of how it has shaped my response to other times of hardship – mental, emotional and even physical.”

After leaving the military, he pivoted his career to health and fitness.

He is currently a coach at Deuce Gym and a trainer at Bodybuilding Club, a remote access training program.


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