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Cathy Rigby

Hiding A Painful Secret

Now a recognizable figure, Rigby embarked on a new career as a gymnastics commentator while she started her family. The early days of post-athletic training proved difficult, she related in a 1984 People article. "I no longer had a goal and all I was doing was eating and throwing up. Everybody thought I had the most successful life: I had a career working with ABC Sports, I was doing TV movies … and commercials, and the money was coming in." Rigby struggled to maintain this "perfect" image, saying she hid her condition from her husband and secretly consumed 10,000 calories a day in fast food. "I took a voice lesson every week," she told the People reporter, "and I can tell you where every McDonald's and Jack-in-the-Box was along the way—and every bathroom where I could get rid of the food."

During Rigby's pregnancy with her first son, Bucky, the former athlete gained only eleven pounds. Though she was praised for her self-discipline, some internal damage was done. Rigby's son was born small, and because of her lack of body fat Rigby could not produce enough milk to nurse him for more than a month. After landing in the hospital with an electrolyte balance problem, Rigby determined to improve her health in time to have her next child. She gained twenty-five pounds this time and was able to successfully nurse her second son, Ryan, for four months. But Rigby's bulimia recurred shortly after.

At the same time, Rigby was considering her professional future. "When I got out of gymnastics and retired at the age of [nineteen], I thought, What else am I going to do with my life?" she said in a Back Stage West interview with Rob Kendt. "I started doing episodic television, where I'd always play the Russian gymnast or whatever, and someone recommended I take voice and acting lessons. I studied for seven years before I had the courage to really step onstage." Rigby approached acting as she did gymnastics. "I knew I could get better if I just worked at it," she told Goodman. "It's that athlete's obsessiveness—the need to prove yourself and work harder than anyone else."

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Famous Sports StarsGymnasticsCathy Rigby Biography - Talented, But Torn, Off To The Olympics, Hiding A Painful Secret, Flying High As Peter Pan - CONTACT INFORMATION