Eating disorders have long been considered to only effect women. While 10 million females in the country suffer with the illnesses, there are one million males battling anorexia and bulimia.

That’s according to the National Eating Disorders Association. More than one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors which include skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting and taking laxatives.

Vic Avon, a 29-year-old from Brick Township, was a 19-year-old, 300 pound sophomore in college when he decided it was time to go on a diet. “I grew up very heavy. As a result, I was bullied most of my life. I had no self-worth. I hated my body, I hated myself and I felt that I was just this broken being who couldn’t be the person everyone wanted me to be,” said Avon. “I was in the dining hall my sophomore year of college when a switch went off in my head and I decided it was time to lose weight. I declared war on my previous life. I declared war on my body. I looked at everything I ate and told myself that was the reason I was so heavy and that was the reason no one loved me. So, I thought I had to change everything about myself so I could finally be loved.”

Vic’s desire to lose weight turned into an obsession. He began working out non-stop, the scale became his best friend and the pounds fell off. “I went back to school after a break. Some people were telling me how great I looked and others were asking me if I had cancer. Of course, I only let myself hear how great I looked, so my obsession continued.”

The years-long battle with his weight finally landed Vic in the hospital in 2006. “I was dying. My extremities were turning blue because my body was keeping all of the blood inside my internal organs to keep them safe. They were joking with me that I weighed less than my mother at that point. They don’t know how I’m alive. Everything I did was so extreme. I was bones.”

Vic recovered in the hospital, went to intensive counseling and has since gotten heavily involved with the National Eating Disorders Association. He’s become a male spokesman for the disease and continues to tell his story and talk to others with similar stories. “With the help of my counselors, I was able to work on breaking down barriers and walls I had built to protect me from certain things over the years. I had a dietitian weigh me every week. I had to learn how to eat again and to trust my body. It was a process,” said Avon.

“This is a disease that kills people. Only 35 percent who have an eating disorder actually get better. That’s a lot of people who are sick. I just decided that I was going to beat this. If anything, it just goes to show I am just a regular guy and if I can do this, anyone can,” he said.