Zoe McBride - RLNZ Ambassador
Olympic Rower, Double World Champion
"What she thought were normal attempts to make weight as a professional rower were actually life-threatening eating disorder behaviours."
RLNZ’s ambassador, Zoe Mc Bride, realised early in the 2021 season, that what she thought were normal attempts to make weight as a professional rower were actually life-threatening eating disorder behaviours. Zoe spent years under-fuelling and overtraining, admitting that the pressure of trying to make weight caused her wellbeing to suffer. Her severe lack of nutrition, alongside extra training outside of her normal schedule, meant Zoe was diagnosed with RED-S (Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport), an eating disorder affecting athletes.
Zoe reflects, “Often I found it hard to set boundaries and take care of myself. I could always do better, be faster, stronger or achieve more. I looked for approval from my environment and those around me, external factors that allowed me to measure my success and give myself an indicator that I was doing it right. I am okay when the data tells me I am ok.”
When Zoe struggled to recover from a stress fracture, she became aware that her eating disorder was taking a major toll on her body, "My bone density and health were degrading," she recalls. "My body basically wasn't strong enough to fight away the injury." She realized that her dream of competing at the Olympics was ultimately not going to make her happy, and she was no longer willing to sacrifice her physical and mental wellbeing to get there. She says, “In the past I did it, but this time I knew I wasn’t OK with doing it.” Earlier this year, Zoe made the courageous decision to retire from competitive rowing and embark on a journey of healing herself. “I realised everyone around me just loves me for me – they just want me to be happy,” she says.
Zoe is proud to be the ambassador of RLNZ and says she’s keen to use her experiences to share her story so others don’t have to go through what she has. She is now in a place where she is healthy and happy, realigning with her values, and creating an identity outside of being a rower.
“I realised everyone around me just loves me for me – they just want me to be happy,”