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Recovery has North Idaho Christian grad focused on health, faith

Olivia Kinnick poses for a photograph at North Idaho Christian in Hayden on Wednesday, March 16, 2016. She suffered from anorexia, the complications from which put her in the hospital the end of her sophomore year of high school. She has had a long road to recovery but is doing great. She thought her story may be able to help others. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Olivia Kinnick poses for a photograph at North Idaho Christian in Hayden on Wednesday, March 16, 2016. She suffered from anorexia, the complications from which put her in the hospital the end of her sophomore year of high school. She has had a long road to recovery but is doing great. She thought her story may be able to help others. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

It was an innocent response to bullying by her basketball teammates freshman year of high school. If she couldn’t fit in with them, Olivia Kinnick decided she would beat them.

She would be quicker and stronger.

“I had that mindset that if I can be faster than them, if I can work harder than them, I’ll be better than them,” she said. “That turned into, in my mind, weight loss. If I can lose weight, I’ll be faster.”

By fall of Kinnick’s sophomore year, Jenifer Miller began questioning her daughter’s fitness regime. Her doubts soon became certain: Kinnick had taken her quest to be fit and fast to the extreme.

By the middle of 10th grade, 5-foot-5 Kinnick had dropped from 137 pounds to 90 pounds. Miller sought help.

“At that point, I didn’t want to get better,” Kinnick said. “I was in denial.”

Before long, Kinnick could barely walk up a set of stairs.

One night, she lay awake with heart palpitations so bad she feared she was dying. The next morning she told her mom she wanted to go into treatment. She was hospitalized weighing just more than 70 pounds and near heart failure.

Miller remembers seeing her daughter hooked up to life support machines and thinking it would be easier if her daughter was battling drug addiction.

“It seems like it would be much more straightforward,” she said. “With this, it was like being in a snow globe and getting shook in every direction. It was frightening.”

Doctors told Kinnick it was a miracle she was still alive.

After a summer of hospitalization and intense treatment, Kinnick enrolled at North Idaho Christian School in Hayden. She found acceptance and understanding, but was soon dealt another blow. Her parents were divorcing.

“I started to question where God was in everything that was going on,” she said. “I prayed, ‘God, if you’re listening, please just show me how much you love me.’ ”

Two days later, Kinnick was forced off Interstate 90 by another driver. Her car rolled three times, but she walked away uninjured.

A witness said Kinnick’s car was rolling toward oncoming traffic when it appeared to suddenly hit a wall and stopped short of the oncoming lanes. The peace and calm Kinnick felt left no room for doubt.

“I knew that I was unharmed because of (God),” she said. “That was what I needed to realign my sights on God.”

Kinnick is now committed to not being the thinnest, but being the strongest she can be, mentally and physically, and to share her love of fitness with others as a personal trainer. She spent more than 20 hours job shadowing a trainer for her senior project, is already certified and has work waiting for her after graduation.

She wants to offer encouragement to others who are struggling.

“You need to realize life is much more important than how your body looks and what you eat,” she said. “Your body is just a shell for your personality, heart and soul to live in and being consumed by physical appearances and food isn’t living.”


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