I left the University at a paltry weight of ninety-four pounds, grabbed the first flight to Aberysthwyth, Wales, that I could find, and spent a week by the sea eating nothing but mushrooms and wishing I could lose more weight.
My running career, which once had me ranked at the top of the nation, was gone. My legs were too depleted to run, and my school had disowned me because I refused to take care of my body. I was the definition of anorexia athletica, and all I could think was, "Every day I run more than twenty miles. Every day all I eat is two egg whites. Will someone please tell me WHY I cannot lose any more weight?"
Yes, I was anorexic. It's the way of long distance runners, unfortunately. You can be good up to a point, but to be REALLY good, you've either got to be ridiculously talented (which I am not) or dedicated enough to be anorexic (dedicated? Yes. It's a hard life.
Other runners, ones who maybe don't perform as well, eat everything in sight. You deny everything in sight, and then run faster than they do). But to get back to it, I was frustrated. How could I eat so little, run so much, and have my weight loss plateau? I felt weaker and weaker by the day, but I stayed the same size.
I chose to come home from Britain and to give up running entirely. I continued eating only egg whites and running upwards of twenty miles a day, and I continued to stall in my weight loss goals.
Finally some friends found me in my apartment and told me to either move home with my parents or go to rehab. I, of course, chose to move home. At my parents house, I was forced to eat (not much, maybe 300 calories a day), and I noticed an odd change.
Though I was not running nearly as much, I lost weight. This certainly intrigued me. However, I still was starving my body, and I would oftentimes find myself at the SuperWalmart at 3 am, buying entire danishes and eating them subconsciously; my body longed for food so bad it would not let my mind deny me of it!
Over the course of the next few months, a strange trend happened. My caloric intake increased, and my weight decreased! I ate nearly 600 calories a day, and I weighed about eighty-six pounds. It didn't make too much sense, but I thought to myself, 600 must be the magic number for me; I'll just continue to eat this much and lose more weight.
And I Weighed About Eighty-Six Pounds."
On a five-foot-three frame you can only imagine how sickly I looked! My cousins finally noticed this downwards spiral in me and forced me to go to the hospital. The hospital found that my blood work was fine, but I knew my mental function was completely gone, and I needed some help.
I was given an ultimatum. I could go home, quit school and work, and do "recovery" until I was of a normal size and attitude, or I could go to inpatient rehabilitation. Again, I chose the first. The next day, I went to the local Gold's Gym, and I placed myself before a trainer, supplicating, "I know nothing about training, or about nutrition, teach me the ways and make me a bodybuilder."
He came up with a nutrition plan for me that seemed exorbitant. One hundred grams of carbohydrates a day? I couldn't even remember the last time I had reached thirty grams in a day. And only about 10 miles per week of running for cardio. I had come from running nearly 140! How would this work? He assured me I would get leaner than ever before, have more muscle mass, and look tremendously better. "Trust the process," he said.
I didn't have a choice. Trust the process. Okay.
Today, I am thirteen days into "the process." I have gained weight, undoubtedly. But the oddest sensation has also occurred. I find that the more I eat, the more I can lift, and the hungrier I am. I also have discovered that running a fast twenty-minute run makes me much more exhausted than running a slow ninety-minute run. Who knew?
Eating Disorder Articles:
There is something to be said for more intake. It's magical. You eat more, you feel better.
I should probably try to give you a run down of what one of these days looks like for me. Bear in mind that I am still a less than 100 lbs. female, so I'm by no means eating like a 300 lb. powerlifter, but I certainly intake more than most girls I know!
Because I had chosen to deplete myself of carbohydrates for so long, the hardest thing for me to do is to add in the carbs. I absolutely love my protein, so it's not so bad.
Right now I'm on the 100g/100g/25g breakdown into 5 meals a day, plus unlimited veggies and fruits. This means all my meals follow a similar formula - I don't usually think about fats because I figure that they'll get in there somehow; I love chocalte protein drinks and venison, both of which have some fats, and I take 2 Omega-3 tablets a day.
Meal 1: 30 g. carbs/ 20 g. protein
WORKOUT- 20 mins cardio and weights for about an hour
Meal 2: 30 g. carbs/ 20 g. protein + veggies (if I desire them)
Meal 3: 30 g. carbs/ 20 g. protein + veggies (necessary)
Meal 4: 20 g. protein + TONS OF VEGGIES
Meal 5: 20 g. protein
Since I'm celiac, I'm limited to which carbs I can choose - I eat a LOT of sweet potatoes for my carbs, as well as acorn squash, and some oats that I found at a natural foods coop that are processed at a facility that DOES NOT also process wheat! Yay!
My favorite veggies are asparagus, crimini mushrooms, okra, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, and green beans, all of which I eat either raw of grilled. For the most part, my protein sources are chicken and a strange gluten free soy protein I got at whole foods. I also enjoy protein powder. When I can get my hands on venison or ostrich or bison, I try to eat those for red meats; I also enjoy a lean burgers every so often.
There are only a few times that this plan changes up - if my body is craving fats, instead of carbs in meal 1, 2, or 3 I may have a serving of healthy fats, such as natural almond butter or peanut butter, a weight gainer shake made with almond milk or 2 scoops weight gainer (strawberry flavor) in water.
Also, if I've had a long day, an extra protein shake sometimes finds its way into the plan between meals 3 and 4. Since I get up at 4 am, a lot of days end up being pretty long... then again, I'm asleep like a baby at 9:00!
You are probably thinking - 90 g. carbs + veggie carbs, how will you ever bulk on that? Well, in reality it is actually a substantial amount of food - I have options like 1/2 sweet potato and a lean burger patty and a gigantic spinach salad, maybe with some asparagus on it, or a staple favorite, 1/2 c. gluten-free rolled oats and a scoop of gluten free soy protein, or 4 oz. chicken breast, 1/2 of an acorn squash, and a big ol' bowl of raw broccoli.
Also, this plan will hopefully stall out soon, in which case, oh no, guess I'll have to eat more - please note the sarcasm in that, as I am so thrilled at how much I can eat already that this sounds wonderfully appealing!
My WORKOUT is usually fairly intense - I do compound exercises on M,W,F and "detail work" on T, R, S, and I take Sunday totally off, sit on my booty, and do nothing!
Usually a M,W,F workout consists of a 5 part lunge/5 parts abs warm-up set, followed by a series of squats, deadlifts, upright rows, bench presses, chops and cable work, and compound exercises for the biceps and triceps followed by another bout with abs and possibly a 20 minute cardio.
A T,R,S workout will begin with the 20 minutes of cardio, then be followed by about 15 minutes of abs, 30 minutes of "simple lifts" (curls, lat pulldowns, tricep cables, trap raises, etc.) and another 15 minutes of abs, gluts, and some stretching.
No workout takes longer than about 1 hr. and 40 minutes, and that's partially because I am very picky about my iPod music selection - I'm always looking for that perfect workout song - this is what I spend most of my "rest interval" doing - walking from the free weights to the abs area and messing with my iPod.
This, I believe, is a very healthy lifestyle for me, and hopefully for other ladies out there - you eat frequently and healthily, workout hard, but not too hard, and generally enjoy who you are more, which causes you to worry about your diet and fitness less and, consequently, make better progress in the weight room!
It sounds illogical, but so do all the diets I see gals on right now. South Beach! Atkins! Paleo! Fiber 35! Fit for Life! Either they are all about eliminating particular food groups, or they are all about cutting calories so low that there is no chance for your body to really tap into the real fire its furnace can provide.
Now, there's something to be said for food choice and portion control, but eating so specifically or so little that you destroy your metabolism, that seems counter intuitive. Of course, to most people, what we do seems counter intuitive. LionChick, do you mean a good body just doesn't appear because I desire it to - drat! - I have to work at it? Even if I was unhealthy with my dieting habits before?
Well, yes and no. You don't have to work at it, if you take my advice: find a nutritionist, make a plan, STICK TO IT, and like the best movie EVER made, watch your body change. You don't have to think at all - just listen and obey - you'll be glad you did!