When nine strangers in Tennessee saw an emaciated young woman working out at the YMCA almost round the clock they knew they had to do something. Doctors say if they had waited any longer the 23-year-old would have died.
Lauren Lax would do marathon workouts several times a day at the Green Hills YMCA, The Tennessean reported.
“That girl was there," Frank Grant told his wife, confirming that she went to the gym more than once a day.
The couple wasn’t the only ones to notice the girl wasting away on the Stairmaster.
They worried she had a medical condition, not anorexia, and thought approaching her could be a violation of her privacy.
But nine of them came together anyway to stage an intervention in the gym parking lot and convince her to go to the hospital. They contacted her parents, who they found online, and had them drive to Green Hills from Nashville.
“I knew if they took me, I wouldn't really be coming out,” Lax said. "At the same time, they didn't give up. It probably went on for 10 or 15 minutes of us standing there arguing. I ended up giving in and feeling this internal relief."
When they took Lax to the hospital one August morning in 2011, her heart was struggling to beat and doctors feared they would have to implant a pacemaker.
She was 5-foot-4 and 79 pounds.
"It was just a struggle to even work out 30 minutes less or to make myself eat a teaspoon of almond butter more," Lax recalled.
Three years later, she is healthy. She doesn’t step on a scale in the morning anymore and she has no idea what she weighs.
"It's gotten so much easier," she said. "It has gotten more second nature. A lot of things I have learned over time. Mindfulness is huge and something that I've practiced — learning how to live within my hunger and fullness cues. I don't count calories. I don't count exchanges. I know what a balanced meal is."
Studying to be an occupational therapist, she’s set to graduate in May.