Chris Seitz played professional soccer for 15 years before retiring in January. Now the MLS Cup-winning goalkeeper is opening up about his issues with body shaming and eating disorders.
Seitz won an NCAA title with Maryland, an MLS Cup with Real Salt Lake and U.S. Open Cups with both FC Dallas and the Houston Dynamo. The California native made more than 100 career MLS appearances and wore the No. 1 jersey for the U.S. at the 2008 Olympics.
He’s been around. He’s won. And he’s had struggles.
In a deeply personal Twitter thread posted on Tuesday, Seitz spoke out about having dealt with weight issues his entire career, from his time as “one of the big boys” in “fat camp” at Real Salt Lake to the moment his wife finally made him take a step back and realize he might have an eating disorder.
The thread highlighted the struggles professional athletes face both physically and mentally and shows weight issues aren’t only a problem in the women’s game.
A thread about when fitness and daily lifestyle in pro sports was taken to far. And how it can affect a pros mental health.I will start out by saying i was one of the big boys, from year one at RSL i was a member of the fat camp. Every coach i ever had questioned my figure.
— Chris Seitz ️ (@Seitzy1) May 10, 2022
For Seitz, his battles with weight began as a teenager. The Gatorade California High School Player of the Year at San Luis Obispo High School played college ball at Maryland, where he started as a freshman on the national championship-winning Terrapins.
It started in college and carried with me throughout my 15 years of pro sports. At times sure it was tough to deal with, but i enjoyed hard work and and the pressures of bettering myself.
Being a goalkeeper is different from every other position. There isn’t as much running, and the emphasis is on quick reactions and explosive movements. At 6-4, Seitz is always going to be a large man, no matter how much or little he eats.
That didn’t stop his size from being a problem for some of his managers, most notably Hernán Losada at D.C. United.
Seitz joined D.C. United in 2019; Losada arrived in 2021 as head coach for Seitz’s final professional season.
Last year at @dcunited it got taken to a whole new level. I looked at it in a positive light, i thought hey this is a guy who wants me to be better. I bought in. I was told to come in a half hour early every day to weigh in and start running before i ate breakfast.
Losada was fired by D.C. United in April, in part because of results — he lost four straight before getting the boot — but also because he rubbed players and staff the wrong way.
Seitz appears to be in the camp of folks who did not like Losada’s management style.
In 2021, the day after Mother’s Day, Seitz came in early as usual when the strength coach told him the coach (Seitz doesn’t name Losada, but we can assume it’s him) was complaining about Seitz’s poor food choices.
Why? Because Seitz had posted a love letter to his wife on Instagram for Mother’s Day featuring his family at a picnic, with some delicious-looking sub sandwiches, chips and a single soda next to his wife, Kate.
He told me the coach had pulled him into the office to talk about the photo i had posted and why i was eating poor food choices. It was a picnic at the park and there was sandwiches, chips, and waters and sodas on the table.
The photo in question was two years old and didn’t even include the goalkeeper.
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I thought he was joking, i was working hard, damn near starving myself, and doing everything he asked of me, to be who he wanted me to be.
For Seitz, this was devastating, having just lost his job as a starter.
It doesn’t matter that the photo was old or that i wasn’t even pictured eating the food. It was the fact that a man who knew i was working my ass off putting in the hours and trying to help the team in anyway was willing to just burry me rather than talk to me about the photo.
Around this time, Seitz’s wife pointed out he hadn’t been the same lately.
She had seen enough, she pulled me aside one night and told me i had become a whole different person, i had lost my joy, i was snappy, i was obsessed with only one thing, and that was losing weight. She told me she feared i had an eating disorder and wanted me to seek help.
Seitz eventually saw a nutritionist, who explained all his hard work couldn’t overcome genetics. Seitz credited Kate and the nutritionist with saving him from further harming himself.
She also told me that she wasn’t concerned with their goals but more concerned with what was healthy and possible. She told me to block all of the noise out. And find a steady healthy diet that would allow me to put on muscle rather than lose fat and weight.
My wife and this nutritionist saved me from injury 100% it is an absolute miracle that i was not seriously injured. I realized at this point that i was not the coaches guy. And that is okay. I fought everyday in training to help my friends and team started eating normal
Body shaming is nothing new in soccer. Perhaps most notably, 2021 USWNT Player of the Year Lindsey Horan nearly quit soccer over abuse from Farid Benstiti at PSG in 2012, when she was right out of high school. (Benstiti later coached OL Reign, where he was allowed to resign to get ahead of reports of verbal abuse.)
Hearing a male athlete speak out about body shaming and weight issues is rare, and it’s fortunate Seitz had a strong and healthy support network to prevent things from getting worse.
And realized that life, happiness, family, mental health, and everything outside of the sport was so much more important to me than making one coach happy! My career will never be defined by one person or coach and I’ll always look back at @MLS with a smile.
Mental health hasn’t always been a major focus of professional athletes, especially in men’s team sports. While that’s beginning to change, having pros speak out about their own issues will only increase the speed at which a footballer’s mental and emotional wellbeing are treated with the same level of concern as their physical health.