Hello! My name is Brie Vendrame, and I am a 27-year-old woman who has had my life changed by the world of weight training.
Why Did I Get Into Weights?
I grew up as a competitive gymnast and competed until my sophomore year for the University of California - Davis. I had never struggled with my weight until college, and attributed my weight gain to college life, however, during my freshman year; I had gained 30 pounds and had many injuries, fatigue and weakness while continuing to practice gymnastics 4 hours per day.
During July 1996, my mother insisted I go see a doctor to figure out why I was so tired. I was diagnosed with Graves,' an auto immune disease which affects the thyroid. The thyroid regulates metabolism, and mine had almost completely shut down.
| The Discovery Of Graves' Disease.
Ljunggren (1983) suggests that the Persian physician Sayyid Ismail Al-Jurjani should be credited with recognising the disease, having noted the association of goitre and exophthalmos, in "Thesaurus of the Shah of Khwarazm", the most famous of his five books, and the major medical dictionary of its time.
Caleb Hillier Parry (1755-1822) first noted the clinical picture in 1786, and it is reported in his posthumous collection of unpublished writings in 1825. It was also described by the Italians Giuseppe Flajani (1741-1808) in 1802 and Antonio Giuseppe Testa (1756-1814) in 1810.
Robert James Graves (1797-1853) of Ireland in 1835, and Karl Adolph von Basedow in 1840, independently reported the constellation of symptoms. On the European Continent the term Basedow's disease is the more common, while it is known as Graves' disease in the English-speaking world.
I returned to school on thyroid medication for the next year, but failed to make the lineup for competition because I just couldn't perform well enough to make the cut. I called it quits, 30 pounds heavier than when I began college, and depressed to give up a sport that had been my life for so long.
I ended up having radiation therapy to keep my thyroid from producing hormones so that my thyroid can be regulated by synthetic hormones, which is easier to control.
When I quit gymnastics, I had no idea what to do with myself. I tried to start a workout program but was really lost in terms of what I should be doing to lose weight.
I had my body fat tested at one point, and it read 25%. Since this was within the healthy range, I figured I was doing alright. I went on to graduate college, marry, and relocate to another state, blissfully ignorant to the unhealthy state my body was in.
Here's where my life took it's first spin into the world of working out. After only 1 year of marriage (April 2001), I discovered my husband had been having an affair.
Distraught and depressed, we divorced and I returned back to my college town. I joined a gym and began working my aggression and pain out by running for miles on end. I found that I was losing weight! Little did I realize it was because I was starving myself.
Through the heartbreak of my divorce, I had neglected to eat, and I was down to 112 lbs from 130 within 2 months. As time went on, I began eating of course, and ballooned back up to 126 pounds by June of 2002.
Remembering what had helped me lose weight the first time, I resorted to calorie restriction in addition to my daily hour long cardio sessions. At first I cut my calorie intake to 500 per day, and as I saw results, it was an addiction to go do MORE cardio and cut MORE calories.
I got to the point where I was only eating 300 calories a day to fuel my 1 1/2 hour long cardio sessions. I dropped to 93 pounds w/ 12% body fat by November 2002. I also began the obsession with "good" and "bad" foods and would vomit if I felt guilty about eating a "bad" food.
Not only was I starving myself, but also affecting my thyroid hormone regulation. Too embarrassed to admit I was a purging anorexic, I tried to hide it from my family and new boyfriend.
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My boyfriend was really into weight lifting and had suggested I do less cardio and more weights. The more we hung out together, the more he realized what was going on with me, and the more I learned about his lifestyle of clean eating and healthy living.
I remember thinking to myself one night, as we were making dinner together, that I COULD get better if I followed his lead. I wanted to get better, I just didn't know how! The desire to be healthy and not obsess over getting fat is the reason I got into weights.
How I Started, When & How Long ...
We began having dinner together every night and I vowed to keep it down. It was a start. I put on some weight as my caloric intake increased and I found that I had more energy.
I ventured into the weight room, past the pink dumbbells and nautilus machines over to the free weights with him. I wanted to get lean, defined muscles, but the catch - I had to eat enough to fuel my muscles!
I struggled with this idea for nearly 2 years until this past December 2004. I finally realized that all the work I put in at the gym was in vain, if I wasn't eating enough to fuel my workouts.
I began therapy for my anorexia and joined a women's workout forum which has helped me gain knowledge and information about the right way to go about things.
Advice On The Forum:
Eat 5-6 small meals consisting of a combination of lean protein, complex carbs and healthy fats every 2 hours. Drink a gallon-plus of water per day. Lighten up on cardio, toughen up on weights.
Pay attention to your body, use correct form. The women on the forum cheer one another on, as we increase our weights and break our own personal bests with almost every workout. I went from lifting light weights for 3 sets of 12-15 reps to playing with different combinations of heavy lifting with more sets, and less reps.
I began following advice from the forum and getting help for my eating disorder in December 2004. In 8 short months, I have followed advice from the forum, my boyfriend, and others in the nutrition profession and am proud to say that I currently stand 5-feet tall and weigh a whopping 114 pounds with approx 14% body fat.
I have actually gained some body fat, and muscle and look much healthier than I did before. Instead of watching the numbers on the scale, I watch the number on the weights I lift increase with almost every workout.
I can now bench press my own bodyweight! I am a much happier, healthier, fit person today, because weightlifting and proper nutrition saved me from destruction.
I am a fan of carb cycling. I have 2 high carb days per week, 2 low carb days per week and 3 medium (maintenance) days. I find that with my thyroid disorder, my body responds well to the constant change in calories and carbohydrates consumed.
I eat the same amount of protein and fat daily, with carbohydrates being the variable. Low days are restricted to fibrous carbs, medium days I get 1 g complex carbohydrates per pound of bodyweight and on high days I have 2 g/lb body weight.
Example Of A Medium Day:
- Wake up: take synthetic thyroid replacement (must take one hour apart from meals)
- Meal 1: 1 scoop whey, oats
- Meal 2: egg whites + one whole egg, rice
- Meal 3: chicken, small piece of fruit, green salad w/ fresh spinach, 5 fish oil pills
- Meal 4: flank steak, cottage cheese, whole grain pretzels
- Meal 5: rice, broccoli, 3/4 scoop whey
- Meal 6: chicken, thin slice cheese, green beans, slice avocado or fish oil pills
I train with weights 5 days per week. I like to do one body part per day, and my training cycle works with my carb cycling. I do cardio 4 times per week for 30 minutes either first thing in the morning on an empty stomach or following weights.
Sunday: low carb- OFF
Monday: Medium carb- Chest, and 30 min Cardio
Tuesday: High- Legs & Abs
Wednesday: Medium- Back & Cardio
Thursday: Low- cardio and abs
Friday: High- Bi's, tri's & cardio
Saturday: Medium- Shoulders & abs
People with thyroid deficiencies should steer clear of soy and flax based products because they interfere with the uptake of synthetic thyroid hormone, thus throwing levels off.
Long Term Goal:
To continue this trend of healthy living well into the future and avoid relapse or self defeating habits.
My Goal For This Year:
To enter my first figure contest, and then try my hand at fitness competitions, thereafter.
For A Printable Goal Keeping List Click Here.
Thank you. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.