On Tuesday, Alexa Bliss became the first two-time SmackDown Women’s Champion. This happened when she defeated Becky Lynch in a match for the title that had just been vacated by Naomi due to injury. But before fighting those battles in front of the WWE Universe, Alexa was up against another kind of battle in the real world – one against an eating disorder that nearly killed her.
For the diminutive (5-foot-1) Bliss, or Lexi Kaufman as she’s known in real life, it’s been a long journey to the top, one that started when she was growing up in Ohio as a WWE fan. And while fans are well-versed with her villainous character on TV, they also got to know more about the path Alexa took to WWE stardom, as she guested this week on former WWE announcer Jonathan Coachman’s Off the Top Rope feature on ESPN SportsCenter.
In quotes from the segment published by Wrestling Inc., Bliss put over the entire SmackDown Live Women’s Division as being better than Monday Night RAW’s female roster. She also credited WWE trainer Sara Amato (a.k.a. Sara Del Rey in the independent scene) for grooming her for the big-time as she honed her skills in NXT, saying that Amato had always advised her that the race to success is “not a sprint, (but) a marathon.”As many fans aren’t aware about Alexa Bliss’ previous struggles with an eating disorder, Coachman brought up the topic and asked her to elaborate on how she overcame that particular challenge, which turned out to be life-threatening.“When I was diagnosed with my eating disorder, the doctors told me that I was 24 hours away from dying. They told my parents that with the way that my body takes to an eating disorder … my organs weren’t coming back. I was hospitalized for bradycardia and they didn’t let me sleep because they thought I would go into cardiac arrest when I would fall asleep. So it was one of things knowing that my life would just be a statistic, that one in every three people die of eating disorders.”About a month prior to her interview with Jonathan Coachman, Bliss had also opened up to Ohio.com about her two life-threatening struggles with anorexia – once in high school and once when she was a cheerleader at the University of Akron.“I had gone through it first in high school. Then when I joined college cheer, we had a very strict workout regimen that we had to follow. And I had just recovered from the first eating disorder. We had to sign in to do cardio, BOD PODs (a measurement of muscle vs. fat in the body), the things athletes should do. But it retriggered everything for me. I went from 120 pounds to 80 pounds in about six weeks.”Bliss added that this second bout with an eating disorder had prompted her to transfer from Akron to Columbus Community College, where she took up bodybuilding and went on to become a decorated competitor in the sport.
Looking back at how she closely cheated death as a younger woman, Alexa Bliss admitted to Coachman that she was, at first, influenced by seeing and watching much slimmer women and wanting to look at them. But these days, she’s more than happy with having a “thick” physique for someone of her height.“It’s okay. I’m 5 foot, I’ve got a thick body, I love it. I’m curvy, I’m strong. I would trade that for being the 80 pounds that I was and being afraid if I was going to wake up the next morning.”