Good Morning and welcome to another week!
I had a very happy weekend, for lack of a better term. The weather was gorgeous, I spent most of my time with my amazing new co RAs, I continued reading Pillars of the Earth (oh my…good stuff), completed homework, cleaned, did laundry… just a fulfilling weekend overall. I actually had no epiphanies with food for once, meaning there were no particular incidence where I realized my disordered eating was making a decision rather than my true self. I do want to clarify that eating, my body, weight, exercising were (and are) constantly on my mind…. but for some reason it was a bit easier to deal with this weekend. Well I am certainly not complaining about that!
I do want to get right into the topic of today’s post, so let’s get going!
As I am sure most of you have read or at least heard of, The New Rules of Lifting has been all the rage around the blog world these last few months.
When I first read a review on someone’s site, I just assumed it was yet another book spitting out redundant information on how to eat right while working out, tips to lose weight, exercise tricks, etc. I am not bashing books like that, but there are just so many versions out there, and I have found some of them to be a bit well… triggering for me. So I have stayed away.
However, as New Rules grew in popularity and more and more reviews could be found across the healthy-living community, I noticed that people overall provided copious amounts of positive feedback. I was intrigued after seeing yet another fantastic review and decided to pick up my own copy and see for myself what this book was all about.
I am not going to write out a full analysis of the information in this guide because well… you can find it on so many other sites! I will say though that although I was not too keen on the actual workouts that are provided in New Rules (for now anyway), it is the information about calories, food consumption, weight, lifting, metabolism, meals and fitness, that intrigued me the most. What I want to focus on from this book is a particular section that really stood out… provided me with a hefty (and needed) dose of reality and the damage I have done to myself.
Chapter 4 titled, “The War Against Food” has been bookmarked and it’s information I plan on returning to when I need to be reminded of my once-poor life decisions.
When I first began to take losing weight seriously by joining Weight Watchers in spring of 2008, all I wanted was to get rid of some extra fat that had been bothering me. It was never my intention (or anyone elses’ I am sure) to lose muscle… but that is exactly what I have done to myself for the past 3 years. I have been wasting my body away in more ways than one, by attempting to lose just that extra bit of fat, the thought process that has marked the beginning of the end for my disordered eating.
Weight Watchers opened up my eyes to how many calories I was eating by comparing the number of daily points I was currently eating, verses how many I “should” be to lose weight. Essentially Weight Watchers is a program that enables you to cut calories and lose weight in a sane way… meaning it has plenty of room for treats and indulgences. You can spread out your points with food the way you want to, although you obviously feel better by consuming nutritionally dense foods.
The recommended amount of weight to lose per week is 1-2 pounds, numbers we have all heard countless times. If you start to lose fat too quickly and it’s beyond fluid and water retention, then muscle begins to waste away… the problem I hurdled myself into for so many years.
From the book, “in the traditional approach to losing weight, the one that advocates cutting calories, you are making two sacrifices for the goal of a smaller and leaner body: you’re going to lose muscle mass and you’re going to slow down your metabolism. Sounds a bit counterproductive to me if I consider myself and athlete who is willing to waste her muscles away for the sake of a smaller body… These past three years I have been trying to lose weight… and succeeding. However, little did I know that while I was losing weight as I saw the number on the scale going more and more to the left, a portion of that number was my “working parts,” fluid, matter and tissue around my organs, and of course muscle.
**One important aspect of all of this I would like to mention is that even if I had know about my muscle loss during the worst times of my disordered eating, I probably still would not have cared. Either I would have convinced myself that I was different than everyone else and was just losing fat, not muscle, or I would throw my hands up all together and not give a crap, as long as I saw that number on the scale go lower. Who cares if it’s fat, muscle, fluid, tissue, bones (not really), it’s EXTRA WEIGHT that needs to go! It’s your decision remember?
We have all heard the key to losing weight is to “eat less and exercise more.” This essentially translates to, slow down your metabolism while speeding it up. Umm does that make sense to anyone? Some of the examples the author used are,
- Would you say to your employees that you want them all to start working longer hours and as a reward you’re going to pay the less? If this announcement was made on Friday, would anyone show up for work on Monday?
- I voted for it before I voted against it.
It comes down to that the less you eat (and the more you restrict), the more your metabolism slows down. And here is the kicker , you have to eat even less as you lose weight in order to keep this routine going. I was in this very trap, especially last summer. It started with Weight Watchers but truly spiraled out of control 2 years after I quit the program.
A bit more than a year ago, I managed to get myself underweight by about 15-17 pounds, by continuously exercising more and eating less. I felt so elated and sickly proud of myself, because my efforts were paying off. I was seeing that number on the scale go drop every single week and I felt great. I was getting so thin, everything I owned was suddenly so roomy, I was seeing bones protrude out of places I had never seen before… so what if my hair was falling out, or I had lost my period (update coming soon I promise) at least I was getting smaller!
It’s so (again for a lack of a better term) weird what my thoughts were last summer. Basically I never had the intention to lose any more weight than I had since quitting WW, but the fact that I did and was able to control this…that is what lit the fire to keep this dangerous process going. I loved seeing that number drop but was strangely surprised each time it happened. I am a very competitive person my nature and the ugly side of this trait came out as I fought to see how much weight I had the ability to lose.
Both my eating and exercise habits changed drastically for the worst last summer. I did exactly what the book tells us not to do… I was exercising a heck ton more and eating less. I was never consuming any amount below around 1,500 calories, but I was burning an incredible amount more than that. While training for my upcoming cross country season, I was walking everywhere, squeezing in extra cardio at the gym and also adding lifting to my routine.
Since I do know at least a bit about nutrition and how to recovery from workouts and such, I figured I really was building muscle with what I was eating and how I was now lifting. What my disordered brain did not allow me to understand at the time, was that you sure as hell cannot grow muscle by “refueling” with about a pound of fruit. That is what my “recovery meals” would consist of… fruit, some more fruit, oh and how about another bowl of fruit. It kept me full (hello food baby after every single meal) so my illogical, sick thinking assumed those calories were going to my muscles, because I was still losing weight and I thought I looked more “built.” (ha.)
I truly believed I had the perfect formula going… that I had found the routine that allows me to lose fat and build muscle. In fact, I was eating just enough to keep my weight at a semi-sustainable level, but I was slowly but surely becoming a shriveled bean pole, wasting away precious muscle, rather than allowing myself to have the body of an athlete. I had the disordered image of myself that I looked fantastic- a lean, mean fighting machine. When I see pictures of myself now, I see a border-line skeletal person that had no body fat, dark circles under her eyes, thinning hair, concave cheeks, a dull complexion and just a whole lot of bones…. yep attractive and healthy stuff right there.
When I read this particular part of the book a few weeks ago, it was just like WOW, that is freakin-exactly what I used to do! Although I was weight-restored at that point earlier this summer, and was eating correctly, reading this particular bit of information solidified the need to nourish and refuel my body properly. It’s scary and uncomfortable, but here it is, legitimate scientific evidence of yet another way disordered eating nearly destroyed me. Athletic women are beautiful, and that is what I am striving to be… and I am sure as hell never going to get to that point if I plan on ever eating the way I used to again.
At this point in my recovery and my life, I am lifting at least three times per week, and listen to this… I am building muscle, like a lot! And you know why it’s happening now? That fearful substance called FOOD… I am eating a whole lot of that “stuff” now. No longer are my recovery meals consisting of an entire watermelon or cantaloupe. No. Now I have Greek yogurt, egg whites, protein powder involved into some kind of delicious breakfast (I workout in the mornings).
I have put on a lot of weight since last summer, and whether my disordered brain will believe it or not, some of it is muscle and not the dreaded FAT. For example, most pants I try on these days are not fitting the knee region as well as it used to… why don’t they make pants for athletically built women?! (That is for another post though, oh yes it is). I am finally doing what I need to for myself, for my personal ideal look of an athletic body… no more scrawny, shriveled, bony look for me anymore. I mean, these ladies right here looks damn good!
No matter how loud my illogical mind screams at me to keep working out and eating less, I have reached a point that I cannot justify such actions, even in the slightest. I am causing serious damage to my body, oh and I am upset, depressed, moody and pretty much hate life while in that disordered state. Not planning on going back, thank you very much.
I would love to hear your thoughts…
Have you read The New Rules? If so, was there any part or bit of information that really hit home for you?
Are you currently incorporatin strength training into your workout routine? I am (duh) and it’s pretty cool to see my muscles growing
On a more unrelated note… how was your weekend!? Fulfilling like mine I hope!
I look forward to catching up with everyone, have a wonderful day