Lil Miss Fitness Freak

"And though she be but little, she is fierce"


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I Didn’t Gym For 3 Weeks..And I Lived.

My Friends,

So after a slightly traumatizing event (insert jaw break) and a medical-forced eternal rest time from my favourite place (insert picture of Chelsea lifting weights in her dreams), I have finally made it back to my happy place…

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Come follow me! MissMightyMouse

After just a week and a half back in I can say I have felt a bunch of mixed emotions..

~Frustrated because I’m not as strong as I was and that before my accident I had just reached my goal of my 2BW back squat. Looking at that weight and where I’m at right now, it looks impossible to reach again.

~Elated. The first day I stepped back I was anxious because I was afraid of my weaker and tired body but also relieved because it was a weird sense of painless-ness. My jaw didn’t hurt because honestly I was so focused on just breathing in my second home again that I didn’t think about it much.

~Supported. As I mentioned in my previous posts, the love of everyone in wishing me back and checking up on me was overwhelming in the best way. 

~Determined. I know my strength will come back. I have done this before. I have fought worse battles than this, I will get there again.

The biggest thing that I can say I took from all of this is that I truly understand my relationship with the gym. I need it, but not for what you may think.

Can I say I was (and still am…) addicted to the gym? 100% yes, but let me explain…

I used to think that my fear of not going was simply because I felt I would get fat and soft (sorry if that is triggering to anyone, I’m being honest here). I wanted to go because of my passion, I truly did, but the fear of missing a day was mostly based off of that.

The other fear was because my stomach is such a mess right now, consistency is what I lived to try to keep it somewhat happy. If I didn’t go to the gym, I didn’t know WHEN to eat, WHAT to eat and if I would ever get hungry at all! From my past, I’m left with a huge fear of stuffing or force feeding myself and the past year of struggling with this unknown GI distress has had me doing that a lot.

The difference post accident is that I had no “purpose” or reason to tell myself I had to do it. I wasn’t doing it to ensure I had fuel for my lift. Yes I realize I needed to be eating for recovery and repair, but stick with me here. How was I supposed to tell myself I had to eat when I wasn’t hungry when I couldn’t really ‘use it’ or perceive that I had a reason to use it?

In a lot of ways, the gym kept me in a routine of eating so that I didn’t lose weight while I was often really not wanting to eat. It was my crutch while my stomach was this tyrant leader that basically dictated my life.

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But you know what? I got hungry, maybe not as much but I did before, but hunger came around. I basically broke part of my face, I would hope my body had some ability to tell me it needed energy.. So I got a sense of relief a bit because hunger is a real emotional thing for me because its not always there during these times.

Aside from that, I took a much bigger lesson out of this. I learned that I need the gym because it gives me life and a sense of strength because I feel my body is failing me sometimes, which makes me feel weak. Even when I felt like crap with a flare up, I could somehow get my mind and body to perform at it’s peak in the gym and that made me feel even a bit better in the moment.

The gym also helps clear my anxiety, so I need it in my life for that and I literally felt a piece missing from me during those three weeks. Pushing my bf to sadly leave me to go because I knew that I wanted him to enjoy the very thing that gave me so much joy. If I couldn’t, at least he could and that made me happy.

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Placement helped a lot. This is the best placement I have had and really solidified what I want to do with my life but man is it busy and mentally draining. Kept my busy mind from focusing on what I didn’t have.

Going to stop making this sound like a sob story, not my intention, just trying to portray how important this was for the next lesson to make sense

One ultimate thing that I learned through all of this…

Although its still hard for me to take a day off, this experience has shown me that my two biggest fears will not happen if I did for one or two days. I will get hungry and be able to eat AND I won’t literally die without it. I will not lose all my progress. I will not randomly wake up with a little pot belly (again sorry if that is a bit much, but my mind thinks irrationally sometimes) if I don’t go a day because there was something that took me away all day.

Like a nice weekend in Niagara with my love

Its still hard, but I’m learning that I can break routine once and a while and things won’t fall to pieces.

I’m also starting to slowly gain my strength back as my food comes back up and I’m feeling better as a whole.

img_2184I really had to think about whether I wanted to post this or not, but what the hell, I posed for a reason. Everyone has some rough morning faces no?

So heres a thumbs up to…

1. Gaining back my strength

2. Eating solid foods again

3. Being able to have my source of stress relief back in my life

4. Joining my favourite person in our favourite place once again and eating back at my table at Movati post workout as I always have.

Much love my friends! Happy Monday and sunshineyyyyy day!

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Its Crazy How Much Love Can Lift Your Spirit

My Friends…

My amazing and supportive family. Words cannot express my gratitude for all of the kind words of support, love and encouragement that I have received from all outlets following my accident on Saturday.

I will not retell the thing in detail as it is not only traumatizing to me, but also to those who were here at the time, but I will briefly state that in prepping for my GI procedure my little body just didn’t appreciate the prepping and I managed to find myself passed out on my bathroom floor at 4am.

#FacePlant Legit.

1 broken jaw, 5 stitches, a few broken teeth and many hours in Guelph General Emerg later, I was home and ready to stop feeling sorry for myself and try to put this terrifying incident behind me and move forward.

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It is now a fresh week and man have I had my moments of frustration and sadness, while also feeling bad that this has hurt those around me who love me, but honestly all of the support you have all shown me has given me so much life and lifted me up when I truly have needed it.

We all break sometimes and it is in those moments where the village you have created around you on your better days come to your rescue and keep you positive and smiling.

To my bf, I’m sorry. I’m sorry this nightmare happened and you had to come rescue me and keep it together. You have been my knight, my rock and my sunshine.

To my parents, I’m sorry I had to call you in the early hours of the morning and wake you suddenly to tell you I needed you. That I had let this happen. I’m sorry. Thank you for everything that you always do for me and for always being by my side and telling me it will be all okay. No matter how old I get, I need my parents to tell me that sometimes. 

To my friends, my family and even those who may only know me in passing, thank you for your words of encouragement and your love. Every wave, “well wishes” and “you’re gunna get back at it in no time” really does just bring a bit more pep back into my step. 

Choose your family wisely friends. They are your sanctuary and I appreciate mine more than I ever have before after this scary thing.

What things have I learned from this event…

1. Water. Water is great, even feeling like you have to drown yourself in the amount you need to drink in these situations. Next time I will do better.

2.Chewing is honestly something we all take for granted. God I want my rice cakes so bad.

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Would you believe thats tuna mashed in there?

3. Feeling bad for yourself gets you no where. It happened so move on.

4.I will be okay not going to the gym…I keep telling myself this day after day.

5.Sometimes it’s okay to ask for help and not feel you have to be 100% independent ALL of the time.

6.The events that happen to you don’t just happen to you. That trauma finds itself lurking in those around you too. Although it takes effort, take the time to update them and tell them you are doing okay. They need that comfort.

7.Patience. Every day I wake up and the swelling is still here and there is a new travelling bruise on my body I have to just remind myself, healing takes time. Be thankful that your body didn’t fully put up the white flag and show it some consideration and care in how to speak to it.

8.It’s okay to be frustrated. Acknowledge it and than let it go.

I cannot thank you enough my family. I send so much love back to you all!

ghost


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Exercise As Part Of Treating Eating Disorders? Fitness Friday 35

Well ain’t that a controversial topic for discussion….

In the spirit of this week being #Eating DisorderAwarenessWeek, I thought I would bring that into our lil regular Friday Fitness chat.

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I knew it would be a big deal. I know that many will not agree with my words, but hear me out, have you ever thought that treatment and exercise could co-exist when looking at eating disorders?

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I know what you’re all thinking.

Exercise is a method to fuel eating disorders

Exercise is a means of dropping weight and burning too many calories

How the hell is exercise going to help put weight on when clearly it just increases their energy requirements?

This is why this topic is a great one to discuss.

The points above are completely valid. In fact, those are the beliefs that many professionals give or yell if the thought of exercise is brought up.

Take me for example, during my short time at the Oakville outpatient program for family therapy, it happened to slip out that I was going to be starting to slowly get into training (this was a few months post-inpatient) and my therapist freaked the eff out. Like I’m not kidding, she actually called my house and my parent’s cells and left frantic messages saying  “Chelsea is not to workout!!!!”

Not that her words stopped it from happening, and honestly, we left that place faster than we came in (not because of that incident, but a bunch of other things..), but I’m just trying to give you an idea of how most clinicians feel about this topic

I.e. They are mostly against the thought of exercising.

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…or ever…

Like I said, these arguments are all valid concerns and I see where they are coming from…

~I was a compulsive exerciser

~Most use it as a way to burn more calories and loose weight

~Most don’t know limits or when to stop

~Many can let it consume them and take over their lives

So I will say again, I understand their fears, but look at it from another perspective. When you just say NO and/or NEVER AGAIN, where does that get you? It teaches the individual nothing about control or other benefits aside from the superficial ones. It tells them that they have lost a free right to do something many people do. It places restrictions on them, which can lead to them deciding to go and do it anyways. Lastly, it prevents them gaining some of the many benefits you get from exercise that can be critical to the health of a person struggling with an eating disorder (*provided they are stable enough to perform exercises) such as bone and cardiorespiratory strength, helping with psychological disturbances, distraction from nagging negative and obsessive thoughts and potential social opportunities.

There are many people I have seen who have gone from treatment to the gym and are strong, independent people who are in control and did not slip back into old habits. They successfully took their health into their hands and chose to use exercise as a way to ‘come back’ and heal. A way to gain strength when their body was so weak before. A way to build confidence in themselves and eventually find that the gym is more than a place to burn calories. It’s gives them a place to deal with their emotions and re-build themselves physically and psychologically.

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So with all of that being said, I wanted to present you with some research on the topic and how these types of interventions have faired in the treatment of eating disorders. I mean, you have heard my story and I could give you anecdotal evidence of the possible benefits for some, but does it actually show more pros than cons in treatment settings?

Lets find out.

To be honest, I was shocked at the number of articles I actually found. I still believe most are completely dead set on NO EXERCISE but there was a surprising number of studies and pilot programs in treatment facilities exploring the use of exercise as intervention. 

I will stick to the main findings of each study and link each so that you can read more if you desire. I am also going to label them in order of earliest to latest. Lastly, I could have found more, but for the sake of your attention span, I left it to these interesting ones.

Thein et al (1999) –> “Pilot Study of a Graded Exercise Program for the Treatment of Anorexia Nervosa”

Main Findings: With the addition of exercise (amount based on % of ideal body weight IBW), the experimental group (diagnosed with AN) showed no difference in change in BMI or body fat, suggesting that the exercise did not inhibit the primary goal of weight gain. The EXPT group also saw a general increase in quality of life measures while the control saw a trend downward from their initial testing.

Szabo and Green (2002) –> Hospitalized anorexics and resistance training: Impact on body composition and psychological well-being. A preliminary study

Main Findings: Study included a non-AN group (exercise group and non-exercise group) with a group of girls currently in an inpatient facility for AN (exercise and non exercise groups). They were both on an 8-week training program of resistance-based exercises. There were trends found for the psychological variables, however it was speculated that perhaps 8 weeks was not enough. Interestingly enough, there was no decrease in weight of the ED-exercise group but a significant drop in those not in the exercise group.

Lutter and Smith-Osborne (2011) –>Exercise in the Treatment of Eating Disorders: An Alternative View

Main Findings: Exercise was significantly associated with greater improvements in eating disorder and depressive symptoms where the number of METS was associated positively with improvements in the measures of depression (BDI) and eating disorder behaviours (EDI). This study was interesting because the exercise was equine based.

Hall et al (2016) –> Use of yoga in outpatient eating disorder treatment: a pilot study

Main Findings: Adolescent girls (all met the requirements for AN/BN/EDNOS but were clinically stable) in an outpatient eating disorder treatment facility attended 12 yoga classes at one class per week. After the intervention, there was no decrease in BMI and significant improvements in anxiety, depression and body image disturbance scores. 

I did a yoga class or two when I was an inpatient at Sick Kids. This was for the advanced stages only but was a nice change of pace. Definitely saw first hand the mood enhancing features. 

This article by Hausenblas et al (2008) also provides a good overview of 6 further studies showing the benefits of exercise based interventions in eating disorder populations on social, psychological and biological factors if you’re interested in even more reading 😉

Finally, here is an article, Bratland et al (2009), that discusses how exercise based programs are managed in treatment facilities and how many places actually have them! It was limited to a few countries in Europe, but can provide some insight for how they could be implemented and managed here.

So…

To conclude, many articles find that there are benefits to exercise in both outpatient and inpatient treatments for eating disorders. Also, rarely did any study (I didn’t find any) report negatives (such as weight loss or stalling the weight gain process) of incorporating exercise into the programs.

I want to say that, yes I know it may take more work and there will have to be strict guidelines in place, like ensuring they are stable enough to participate, etc, but from what I see from research and from my own experience I definitely think that it would be something to really look into further and do more pilot studies on.

Weight gain is already hard enough, try to make it easier on us all. Plus, by being exposed to it in a controlled setting it can also help to make the transition back to ‘reality’ potentially more smooth.

Something I would like to know is if incorporation of exercise during treatment can lower the risk of over exercising or going back to negative exercise habits when they are discharged. 

What are you thoughts?

-Chelsea


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Guys Need Not Read. Girl Talk

My friends,

A short and sweet post this morning as I have something rather exciting to share. Sorry if this is too much information for you, but to my shock, Mother Nature decided to show her work this morning after about 6-8 months of having amenorrhoea.

To say I was shocked and lost for words was an understatement and although my mind is whirling around all kinds of thoughts, which I’m trying to calm any negative ones, I can say that it is a GOOD THING. No, it’s a GREAT THING. For us females, our cycles really show us that our body is healthy because it’s the first thing to go when the body gets stressed. So to get it back (or at least the first time, as I realistically know that it may be transient as it first starts back) means that my body believes that it’s getting adequate nutrition and it’s trusting me again. It’s not overly stressed and so it feels it can run a body process that isn’t actually ‘necessary’ yet still uses a lot of its resources.

I can say that I was shocked mostly because I’m still underweight, and of course with it’s re-appearance I automatically shifted my thoughts into the negative thinking that the weight I have gained must have all been fat because fat is critical to attaining your menstrual cycle. Give me a day or two and I will fight those thoughts back once again as my rational side comes back to the surface post-shock because those throughs are just that…irrational and eating disorder fuelled.

So yeah, I just wanted to share that lil surprise with you all as this is a big turning point in my journey. Even if I did get it back, this doesn’t mean that my weight restoration stops or that my food will stop increasing because, as I said, the 4 pounds that I have gained is still not enough to make me well and strong. So onwards we continue in the forward direction.

Have a great day my friends

-Chelsea


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Sunday Feelz…Update On Moi

Hiya Friends,

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Hope you all are having a great weekend thus far and enjoy a nice lazy Sunday. I’m currently enjoying my first morning at the parents house and I’m  off to the gym in a little bit but I just wanted to give a short lil post about where I am currently as some people have been asking lately.

You know I like to be honest and open with you in my journey and struggles, so I feel as if I need to keep you all in the loop and I want to share! Although I do hate over talking about myself so I will keep it short and sweet.

Just like me…sorry I had to. 🙂

So, what’s been up with me and my health as of late?

Well, it has been officially about 6 months since I started working with my coach and have been increasing my intake. Although I will not post how much I have increased it, is quite a bit and as far as my weight, although many of you may not think this is a large enough amount, but I have gained about 4 pounds in that time.

Yes, I know weight gain is my goal, but keep in mind my frame. Four pounds may seem small for an average person along 6-7 months of eating in a surplus, but I’m 5’0 and under 100lbs so that is actually decent. Especially so because of the way my body works (ie. my fast metabolism) and my training. I just wanted to put that into perspective.

Despite me saying that, I feel no need justify myself to anyone. I’m moving forward in not only weight and strength, but my health is on point for the most part, my psychological health is improving and overall I just feel better.

So in order to keep it brief, I will put some of these things below in bullet form because that ensures I don’t over chat about them. 

…maybe…

~I get my vitals done twice monthly to ensure that inner things are all good. All of them are good and normal for me. Heart rate is in athletic range and my BP is good for me (low, but that has been normal for my whole life).

~I get blood work done along with an ECG also about 2 times a month to check the minerals, vitamins and such. Both are good with one lil issue right now being my urea is too high, suggesting that my intake of protein is quite high and possibly I’m a bit dehydrated because of it. NOTE that this is not going to hurt my kidneys, high protein intake doesn’t cause harm but instead can aggravate if previous kidney problems, which I don’t have, are present.

~TMI for guys, so skip it, but I still suffer from amenorrhea. This is going to come back with time and although I’m going to get major slack for saying this, but I’m trying not to sweat it too much. YES I want it back because it’s important not only for fertility but also for a bunch of other things (hello bone health, etc) and tells me that I’m in good general health BUT I also know that weight gain is a process and over stressing about it is just not going to help. SO, yes I am working to get it back, but I have to let my body determine when it will trust me to that degree again.

~My stomach has been a BITCH. Excuse my language, but my IBS has been the worst it has ever been. I knew going into this ‘bulk’ that it wouldn’t be happy but I never knew how much it would be aggravated and how much that would affect my mood and body image issues. Thankfully, my doctor has given me something to help with digestion (Domperidone) and OMG that has made things so much better. I only take about 1/3 of the recommended dose but that alone has really helped me feel normal to an extent.

NOTE that this is nothing like laxative or anything else that can lead to dependency. You can stop taking it at any time, it has no consequences/side effects and has been said to be one of the most useful tools for those undergoing re-feeding.

What about Training?

I have always been up front and honest with you all about my refusal to give up on my training and I stand by that. My health and weight is improving right along with my training so I’m not planning on stopping or slowing my pace any time soon. I know I may get some judgement for that, but I’m just being honest. Training is my passion and it’s not going anywhere.

It is my mental clarity.

My stress relief

It gives me goals to focus on through the hard times of this process.

It’s just part of me. I’m stronger then I have ever been and if you see me train you can see my love for it (I have been actually told that).

So please, do not tell me I should cut back or worst yet, stop, until I’m ‘better.’ I’m getting  better on both sides. Health and the gym are both improving simultaneously. I’m not being stubborn here, I’m being a realist. I need it to keep me going and, quite frankly, it keeps me happy. This process is hard and somedays knowing that I get that gym time gets me through it.

That aside, I said my strength has increased?

Oh yes, that food has gone to work for sure. I think that my strength has gone up a lot faster then my weight and I’m seeing muscle starting to come back and it’s just further pushing me to keep going.

I want more.

So here are some highlights.

My back squat has gone from 95lbs to 135lbs for equal reps (about 5ish on a good day)

My front squat has surpassed my previous from when I was heavier. (about 105lbs for 5)

My bench is back at body weight. I want to push this further but I also know that bench is very much affected by body weight in most people, so keep trekkin.

Pull-ups have gone from about 5-6 back up to almost 10 depending on grip despite the slight weight increase.

Overhead press dipped down to 35lbs but is now back up to where it was previously at 50lbs. <- OHP is one of the hardest movements for me so bare with me. It’s progress.

The one lift I’m frustrated with is deadlifts. Granted I haven’t done them for a long time (shameful for a ‘gymrat’ I know), but I’m stuck at just above bodyweight right now. There is something I’m not doing right with my form I’m sure so it’s something to look into if I want to improve.

So yeah, in both my mental and physical health, I’m progressing forward. I cannot thank all of my supporters more for what they have done for me during this process and moving forward, I know that things can only get better. I have a sense of mental clarity and peace more so then ever. I’m seeing more and more what makes me happy and branching out to explore more.

So overall I’m happier, have more energy and am just enjoying life much more. It makes me very happy to hear others see that too because hearing that you are glowing is much better then ‘are you okay?’

That is one of the best changes thus far.

And throwing up an end of the post cheesy flex-it pic just because I feel you need to see something and I’m starting to like my shoulders more…

#DontJudgeMe

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Before you say it…booty growth is my biggest goal. 😉

And now I’m embarrassed ha! Signing off! It’s my favourite time. Gyyyymmmin.

Much love friends!

-Chelsea


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Mixed Messages…Thinking Out Loud

Amazing job! You eat those fries and love every moment of it…

How do you eat all those bad foods all the time and not get fat?

It’s okay sweetie, you will conquer that whole pint of ice cream next time.

Hey maybe you should put down that pizza slice, it’s not like you need it..

…..

#YesIAteTheWholePint #RecoveryForTheWin

…..

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Me and you both.

Linking up with Amanda over at Running With Spoons for this week’s Outloud Thinking.

You know my friends I have struggled with this idea for a while. We are very confusing with our messages about food. Then on top of that, when you throw recovery and what we ‘believe’ that those in recovery should eat in there, well **it just hits the ceiling and makes absolutely no sense.

On one side, we have the general public, who demonizes any food they perceive as unhealthy and condemn those who choose to indulge in them even in moderation.

If you happen to not be a size 2, gawd forbid you have that slice of pizza. You might as well prepare yourself for the long, judgmental conversations that may sound something like this…

Hahaha if I eat that pizza I blow up like a balloon…

Oh I don’t eat that crap, do you know how many calories that has in it…

Oh ya know I will just workout an hour longer tomorrow..#balance (<– this is so wrong btw, don’t do this!)

However, take someone who is recovering from an eating disorder and the conversation takes a completely different direction. Think north pole vs the desert.

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That is amazing, you ate fast food twice today! Recovery win!

I feel so over full right now, but I need to get over that because it’s part of recovery…

#PintParty

See the difference?

I’m stuck here though. I see this discrepancy so clearly and that is what makes it so frustrating that I don’t have a clue where to even start. Despite knowing that with most eating disorders come fears and those need to be challenged, I also strongly believe that we taken things too far.

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How has it become okay to push things on those in recovery that we normally preach to those not in recovery to push away from? How are we supposed to show that food is just food when we do this?

We are extremists.

Recovery has become something where you are to ‘challenge’ yourself to eat in a way that we normally try to prevent.

You should feel comfortable with being stuffed if you’re in recovery, but you should feel slightly hungry if you’re not.

You should feel proud of tackling that Mc.D’s twice in one day if you’re in recovery but feel disgusting and bad about yourself if you choose to have a burger once and a while.

We are being completely contradictory with our messages. Food is food and shouldn’t be different for one group of people over another.

Another issue is this also puts pressure on individuals regardless of what “category” they fall into.

If you’re in recovery and you’re not going to those extremes you may feel (or others may feel) as if you’re not progressing. Likewise, further agitation can occur because if you feel that pressure to push yourself waaayyyy out of your comfort zone, it may create even worse association with certain foods.

On the flip side…

Those who do not fall into that category may feel the need to almost hide food when they are wanting or eating something ‘dirty,’ especially if they are overweight.

Apple and hamburger on scales conceptual

You can’t win. Both sides are negative, so then, what the heck do we do about it?

Truth is my friends, I’m tackling a slightly controversial issue here and honestly I don’t know what we can do about it.

I know that we need more consistency somewhere. The same food can not be good for one person but bad for another.

For those in recovery, we still need to challenge food fears so that food can be eaten without second thoughts or guilt. However, this needs to be balanced with not pushing so hard that it pushes them out of normalcy.

Cheering for someone to make them finish an entire pint of ice cream is not normal. This shouldn’t be dubbed a ‘recovery win.’ IMO

If they want the whole pint then thats different because it’s what they want to do but there is also the issue that sometimes with eating disorders comes binge eating….another challenge, another discussion. 

Isn’t the point of recovery to reach normalize eating? 

Again, on the other side, for those not in the ED category, normal eating should include those foods they are craving once and a while and the should be able to eat until they are satisfied. This is regardless of what weight you are at weight status should not dictate whether you are allowed to have certain foods on occasion (Yes I realize there are some exceptional cases but you get my point).

So, to sum things up, we have created a big, hot mess. Our messages about food are wrong and, to be honest, the way that we try to challenge food fears in the clinical population can ultimately lead to further eating issues (like binge eating) or just worsen fears even more because they are just too much.

Just my thoughts.

What do you think?

-Chelsea


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Why Do I Need So Much Food?!?!

My friends,

How are you all? Things are beautiful over here FINALLY! Full sun, 20 degrees and we are all loving life. This is the type of weather I think we are meant to be in all the time because people are just happier. Do you find that too?

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My lovelies. We apparently need a taller friend so that selfies can include all three of us in our entirety. #ShortArmProblems

As for general life, I have one exam down, one to go then I start my new research job next Monday. Student life for ya. Never ending. As for my health, still working away and still making gains in the gym, so a positive direction I would say. Oh and how could I forget…

More and more food. This weekend I actually got another BIG increase and, as normal, my heart began running a marathon in my chest..

Why I red the email before my exam I have no idea… Self sabatoge much?

The increases always do this to me, but this one was rather dramatic and I’m getting anxious for Monday (tomorrow) when I have to deal with it starting.

This leads me into the topic I wanted to discuss today. I don’t know if it was this increase that sparked this question in my mind or if my constant complaining about why my tiny body needs so much food just to even maintain my weight has finally made me want to check things out but, regardless, this was my random question that led me to some journal reading…

Does your metabolism heal fully post recovery?

Is my metabolism messed up and that’s why I can’t gain?

These are what I started asking myself. Maybe I never really went into search because I just assumed it was similar to dieting…

Eat less food…metabolism decreases

Eat more food…metabolism begins to heal, readjust and speed back up to normal.

So given what recovered individuals go through, I just assumed that during the severe restriction that the metabolism would be damaged and then with the re-feed it would just heal itself back to normal eventually provided you kept the weight on.

I was also told by the doctors that post re-feed, those with anorexia tend to be in a ‘loosing mode’ but given that I gained the weight during the re-feed, obviously, and kept it on when I left, I never really thought about things like my metabolism much. I really never thought about this problem at all to be honest.

It also never occurred to me to think about it throughout the years because I was just eating when I wanted to. It wasn’t until I lost (not intentional, I just wasn’t aware in the beginning what I was doing and then being unable to reverse it) and was ‘trying to gain on my own’ that it really hit me that I needed to eat A LOT.

This is when the questioning started.

I’m 5 feet tall.

I’m tiny.

Yes I work out hard but for real, I’m eating more then some guys cutting…

Why?!?! 

This is hard I don’t want to have to eat this much

Now hear me out, I rationally know that everyone’s body is different and that exercise and building muscle leads to an increased amount of food required, but by me being a person who used to look at the diets of others (including competitors), it began to mess with my ability to stay rational when it occurred to me that I was eating more calories then they were.

They work out hard, they are taller then me and eating less?!? 

WTH??

I actually started getting really irrational and thinking that maybe I wasn’t seeing myself right and that I was ‘getting bigger’ because.. how could I not be? I’m eating a house (Or so thought at the time…). It just didn’t make sense to me that I was eating what felt like so much and not gaining anything so every possible theory, no matter how crazy and unrealistic it was, came up.

I’m still working at not comparing and doubting my rational side but I decided to actually look into the research instead of just letting my ED spread it’s lies in my mind and driving me crazy.

As I began to search around, I figured that this information would be quite beneficial to many of your guys, as I know that there are some of my readers that have gone through similar situations. So I hope you can gain something out of it or just at least find it interesting.

Oh the body and it’s workings…

So what did I find?

***Disclaimer. Please note that the research behind post re-feed metabolism is still young and many of the the findings are not in full agreeance but there does appear to be a general consensus that there is a period of “hyper metabolism.” ***

To keep it brief and not too wordy (so I loose you all), I will stick to the main bullets from some studies then sum it up at the end.

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(Tatyana, 2014)

So not only do those suffering with anorexia (AN) have to eat an increasing amount of calories throughout the re-feeding process to start and continue to gain weight at the same rate, they also need it afterwards. Specifically, there tends to be a duration of time post re-feed where a significantly higher number of calories needs to be consumed then what would typically be estimated for an individual of the same height/weight without an eating disorder history just to maintain that restored weight.

1471-244X-13-290-5

Marzola and et (2013) did a PubMed review and reported quite a few interesting findings:

~The graph above suggested that, compared to healthy weight female controls, patients with anorexia nervosa (AN), both restrictive and binge/purge types, required more calories per day for their body weight directly after treatment. Following one year (the long-term recovered), restrictor types still required significantly more calories for weight maintenance then controls.

~Although studies appear varied, there is a quite a dramatic increase in calories per kg of body weight that has been found to be required for weight maintenance in those with AN. When compared to normal weight female controls, who needed approximately 20-40 cal/kg/day for weight maintenance, those with AN have been found to need 50-60 cal/kg/day or more to keep the restored weight on. Post-refeed the increased calories appears to be required or rapid weight loss is often the result.

Personal Response: Perhaps this is why there is such a high rate of relapse? The fact that patients are no where near psychologically recovered directly after re-feeding and then on top of that have to maintain such a high caloric intake may be too much of a demand for them to handle. Furthermore,  weight loss is even more favourable as the body is slow to fully heal and has this hypermetabolism issue. 

~They did also mention that this tends to normalize itself after about 3-6 months.

~Overall, this suggests that those with anorexia become hyper metabolic during the re-feed process which is actually kind of the opposite of what occurs in cases of calorie reduction for the sake of weight loss in overweight individuals. In the latter case, the overweight struggle to loose weight because as they reduce their calories they become HYPOmetabolic so the slower burn makes it more difficult for them to reach the required deficit. On top of that, if their calories are increased, they rapidly gain because their metabolism is in a less efficient state. Contrarily, for the individual with AN, they need even more calories then before just to gain anything because their metabolism is just hummin too fast. This increase, however, is not that it’s more efficient but rather, that their bodies are simply using more thermogenic processes then normal. In other words, they are just burning off more of their intake as heat rather then using it for building or attributing to new mass.

What about Bulimia Nervosa?

As you saw with the graph above, those suffering with bulimia (BN) may not have the same issue. Directly after treatment, Marzola et al (2013) found a slight increase in caloric needs, but that did not hold true for the long term as it did for AN. Similarly, an earlier study by Weltzin et al (1991) that looked at the difference in weight maintenance requirements in patients with restricting AN vs. BN found that AN requires a significantly higher number of calories to keep the restored weight steady.

Does it last forever?

It doesn’t seem to.

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(Kaye, 1986)

Most studies that I came across gave a range of anywhere from weeks post re-feed to 6 months where the metabolism was generally restored itself and the caloric needs returned to what was considered normal. Although the exact mechanism behind this hyper metabolism during and post re-feed is still unclear, there have been a few suggestions as to why it occurs. One of the more consistent theories is that the endocrine system takes a bit longer to fully recover and return to a normal functioning and so for weight to be sustained post re-feed, the increased caloric intake is required to be sustained (Kaye, 1986, Mazola, 2013). Another contributor to this increased need may be increased exercise. Many studies have found that those with AN tend to have greater exercise generated energy expenditure through behaviours such as fidgeting, pacing, and increased walking (Kaye, 1986). As a result, their caloric needs would increase more then the average person in addition to their already higher requirements for weight stability.

Alrighty for the sake of not boring you too death by having something 40 miles long, I suppose I will end it there. What did you think?

As a final reflection back to my own situation, I suppose some people would call what I have gone through a relapse as I lost a dramatic amount of weight post re-feed back when I was 16. Although it was not intentional and it was so slow that I really didn’t pay attention until it started becoming more of an issue, the point is that I went back to unhealthy body fat and weight levels for my size. As a result, working with my coach is more like a re-feed period once again. Lucky him…

Due to that, it looks like I may have to endure this caloric surplus once again (FML right?) in order to get fully back on my feet. This is also on top of my increased needs from lifting….I can say that I’m thankful that my mind did not relapse, if you know what I mean, but still, the physical gaining process and accepting will not come without dealing with body image issues and dysmorphia. This unfortunately will then promise to make this journey quite the mind fu** for me.

But I just need to…

keep-climbing.jpg

So to conclude, this research was interesting for me to do as many things are making more sense to me, even more things then I shared in this post. I hope you can benefit in some way from this discussion and, as always, hit me up in the comments with your lovely thoughts.

Much love! ❤

-Chelsea

References:

Kaye, W., H., Gwirtsman, H., George, T., Ebert, M., H., Petersen, R. (1986). Caloric consumption and activity levels after weight recovery in anorexia nervosa: a prolonged delay in normalization. International Journal of Eating Disorders5(3), 489-502.

Mazola, E., Nasser J., A, Hashim S., A, Shih P., A, Kaye W., H. (November 7, 2013). Nutritional rehabilitation in anorexia nervosa: review of the literature and implications for treatment. BMC Psychiatry, 2013(13)290. doi: 10.1186/1471-244X-13-290.

Tatyana, (2014). Hypermetabolism in anorexia nervosa. Retrieved April 17, 2015 from http://www.scienceofeds.org/2014/05/07/hypermetabolism-in-anorexia-nervosa/

Weltzin, T., E., Fernstrom, M., H., Hansen, D., McConaha, C., Kaye, W., H. (1991). Abnormal caloric requirements for weight maintenance in patients with anorexia and bulimia nervosa. American Journal of Psychiatry, 148(12), 1675-1682.