On fad diets, disordered eating

If it wasn’t already apparent, I have problems with disordered eating. I’m not saying that I have an eating disorder, or at least that’s what my therapist says, and I think that in some ways there is a difference. I have never been anorectic, unless you count the few months in high school where I ate a small bag of plain popcorn, Diet Coke, and a reduced-fat Oreo for lunch, and challenged myself to eat fewer calories than the day before. That clearly didn’t last long. I’ve never binged and purged, though YOU KNOW I’ve thought to myself that it’d make my life a hell of a lot easier if I could. And at the other end, I don’t think I’ve ever really had problems with binge eating. Now, I think just about everyone has a pig-out once in a while, but not full-on EAT ALL THE THINGS on a regular basis.

No, what I struggle with is more…portion sizes (and again, this is not EAT THE WHOLE CAKE, but maybe having a piece or two that maybe are just a little bigger than they should)…peer pressure (c’mon, just have ONE drink!)…the tendency to crave all the wrong things at all the wrong times (super tired? how about something crispy and fried or creamy and frozen?)…and mindfulness (I’ll just have a few crackers…whoops there goes the whole box, and I’m still hungry).

From what I understand, these are common disordered eating habits, and in combination has sort of brought me where I am now.

But I have to admit, too, that I have been extremely vulnerable to faddish diets. And as someone who is fairly intelligent, this makes me ashamed.

  • Growing up, when I first started counting calories, it was all about low-fat and keeping to a percentage of calories-from-fat. If there was a day where I had extra calories and needed to reduce the fat percentage, we’d drink a can of full-calorie soda. (Facepalm.)
  • In college, I got on the Atkins train and lost about 20#. I became obsessed with the 25-carb-per-day onboarding period, and just never moved past it. This turned into me eating basically bacon, diet soda, cheese, and tubs of Cool Whip (oh, and those Atkins shakes), because, uh, carbs.
  • After that, I said FUCK ALL DIETS and gained about 90#. Not because I was eating TONS, but because I didn’t keep track of what I was eating, wasn’t making the best choices all the time, and ate just a bit more than I should. (It adds up.)
  • Then in grad school, Weight Watchers happened. And I have to say that this is NOT a fad diet; HOWEVER, I do still disagree with a lot of the foods that they peddle. Nonfat dairy products, super-processed frozen meals, and ALL THE GRAINS being a few of them.
  • Then, to get a few more pounds off, I meticulously counted points with the Wendie Plan, and then began carb cycling.
  • Then it was all Paleo all the time. Which is totally cool and fine, especially since, you know, ALLERGIES, but I came away from that with a still-nasty case of orthorexia and judgmentalia, in which you obsess over the cleanliness, pasturedness, and organicness of your food, and then harshly judge yourself and others when this is not abided by.
  • And now? Let me get to that.

So, as I may have mentioned before, as part of BFF’s TDP, I am now back to counting calories. And he has been very conscious in his pushing of CALORIES ONLY, until I get back into a healthy routine of exercise and eating. Because, as my food tracker will show, I eat super clean about 80% of the time. The other 20% is Pizza Friday, maybe an ice cream, and possibly popcorn or gluten-free pasta during the week. And all this, aside from Pizza Friday, is balanced with lean proteins and vegetables (so gluten-free pasta nights isn’t just pasta–it’s pasta that’s been weighed out, and then eaten with copious amounts of broccoli and a few ounces of chicken breast). Because, in reality, if I don’t have these little luxuries, how am I supposed to, really, continue on?

So here I am, just chugging along. Running three times a week, light weights three times a week, and tracking like a mofo, even on Pizza Fridays. And I’m feeling pretty good about myself and my effort, even though the scale isn’t showing leaps and bounds of awesomeness.

And then I start getting bombarded. Not personally, but it seems like all of a sudden everywhere I look online, everyone is talking about Flexible Dieting and the wonders of #IIFYM (if it fits your macros). The idea being, if you eat tuna and brown rice, and it has 45 carbs, 40 protein, and 10 fat, your body doesn’t know the same as a cheeseburger, which might also have 45 carbs, 40 protein, and 10 fat. So if you have a set amount of macronutrient goals for optimum performance, why wouldn’t you eat that cheeseburger? It fits your macros!

I’m not saying that this is the WRONG way to think about food, though I will say that fundamentally I think there is a problem in thinking that you should eat cheeseburgers over brown rice and fish. HOWEVER, I AM saying that I feel I am being assaulted on a daily basis. The same people posting ridiculous before-and-after photos of a thin version of themselves versus a thin and jacked version of themselves a month later, after counting their macros. And keep in mind, these are THE VERY SAME PEOPLE who, just a year or two ago, were preaching Paleo/Zone and/or intermittent fasting as the one-size-fits-all miracle solution.

And I’m thinking to myself, Am I doing something wrong? This person who has NO weight to lose lost 4# in a week, and I’m obese and have lost 1.5# in a MONTH.

And then I start thinking, Do I need to start counting my macros meticulously?

This is about the point where BFF has smacked me upside the head and reminded me that yes, this IIFYM IS JUST ANOTHER FAD DIET. And do not get sucked in!

But to be honest, it absolutely kills me every time I see something about IIFYM and results. It kills me. It makes me anxious. It’s a SUPER trigger. It even hurts my feelings and makes me feel crappy about myself. I can’t explain it, but if you’ve ever felt like this, you’d know.

The other piece, too, is that the people who preach IIFYM/IF/PZ are notoriously people who have absolutely no idea what it means to be obese. They have never been in a situation where they have 100+# to lose. And they probably never will, god willing. They are people who have always been slim and active, and really just want a six-pack. They will never get it. Ever. Sorry if you are one of those people, because sometimes I think you just can’t help it.

So no, I will not be counting my macros right now. I won’t be intermittently fasting, and I won’t be on a meticulous Paleo/Zone diet. Because right now, I need something that is both livable and will not make me feel guilty or like shit about myself whenever I eat something non-organic.

Thank you for sharing your success, but please leave me alone.

</rant>

Advertisements

Toeing a line between excuse and reality

It’s been exactly one week since I started BFF’s plan. Well…I guess almost a week. Last Friday, I was super pumped up with some music I found on Spotify that I got home and decided to go for a run. Not the best run in the world, but a run nonetheless. And then Saturday was when the real ass-kicking began.

I have vigilantly weighed, measured, and tracked what has gone in my mouth, while continuing to exercise (and not increasing calories by whatever FitBit/MyFitnessPal told me I burned). Then my schedule was thus:

Saturday – 2-mile run with BFF

Sunday – 4(ish)-mile run with BFF

Monday – Couldn’t move, so rest day

Tuesday – Short morning strength session

Wednesday – Short morning strength session + evening Vinyasa (super challenging)

Thursday – Short morning strength session

Friday (today) – rest day + cheat meal

Friday is also my traditional weigh-in day. After all the effort put in this week, I was anxious to hop on the scale. I woke up, emptied out (ahem), and hopped on. And…

What…?

Up 0.6#.

I was both shocked and not at all surprised. I mean, what has been my pattern recently, anyway? Exert effort, body works doubletime to shut it off. What it FEELS like is that I’ve just messed around so long with diet and exercise that now just everything is out of whack and nothing wants to work. The level of frustration just exploded.

And then I had what is most likely my final WW coaching call (I ended up canceling/nonrenewing, effective next week). And while Coach LG was very nice and helpful, her reaction to the weight gain was more of “What could be happening?” than going for “What did you do wrong?”

Which is fine. Which is what they’re supposed to do. But I also feel like the “What could be happening?” question just kind of gives you something to blame the gain on that is not yourself.

For example, last week, I had a tough week and was up 1.5#. I was/am super constipated (TMI, sorry). Coach LG’s suggestion? Well, it’s clearly the constipation, and just keep doing what you’re doing.

Okay!

This week?

Well, you have been exercising a lot more than your body is used to. Your muscles are probably holding on to a lot of water right now. And it’s nearing that time of the month. And you’re still constipated. Keep doing what you’re doing, and I’m sure this is a fluke.

Okay!

But I gotta wonder…does this method totally take all responsibility off me? This week, I tend to agree. I’ve been sore beyond belief and I’ve been drinking a ton of water. And my PMS is in full swing (sorry, The Boy). But if you gain and gain and gain…it can’t always be water weight or PMS.

Really, this method toes the line between reality and excuse.

What is reality?

Well…

  • Even double doses of magnesium isn’t helping my….daily rhythm.
  • My period’s due to start in about 4 days.
  • I have worked out hard 3/7 days, and done strength circuits 3/7 days.
  • I have craved salt.
  • I have tracked food, and stayed within budget, but of course can always measure more carefully.
  • This is the first week since March that I have eaten dinner every night.
  • I had four meals out this week: 2 dinners (Saturday + Sunday) and 2 lunches (Tuesday and Wednesday), plus some soft serve on Saturday, though tracked to the best of my ability.
  • I have not slept well on most nights.

And that’s the god-honest truth. What’s most important right now is being honest with myself. I have even sent nutrition screenshots to BFF to keep me on track.

I hope these are not excuses, and I hope that I AM being honest with myself. But who knows…maybe my muscles ARE being shocked and holding on to a crapton of water. We shall see.

In the mean time, I’m trying not to get wrapped up in fads. Facebook is hard. A few years ago everyone was preaching the virtues of intermittent fasting. And now–surprise, surprise–those same people are preaching the virtues of flexible dieting (i.e., If It Fits Your Macros). These sorts of people and philosophies make me SUPER uncomfortable and self-conscious. Like I’m doing something EXTREMELY wrong, and THIS IS THE ANSWER. I really don’t want to fall down that rabbit hole; while macros are important, I’m not interested in obsessively hitting each goal exactly.

The goal here is to live life, be healthy, look hot, and not obsess/encourage further eating disorders.

Triggers, man.

DK OUT.

PS, have a great and healthy weekend, all! ❤