When you are in the grips of an eating disorder, you trust nothing but said eating disorder. I did not trust anyone else to cook my meals. I did not trust supermarket foods to actually contain the weight they specified on the packet, so would weigh everything I put on my plate, even when taken from a packet. I did not trust exercise gadgets to tell me the correct amount of calories burned, so divided through by 3 “just to be sure”. I did not trust restaurants and food places to provide an average serving size as specified on the website, so multiplied any calorie values of food I had out by 1.5 “just in case”.
And on the flip side, I don’t think where my eating disorder was concerned it was possible for any loved ones to be able to trust me. In my teens I sellotaped weights to my knickers when I was forced to be weighed each week (this seems pretty funny to me now!), I hid and threw food out at any opportunity, again, often using my knickers as a storage place for unwanted food until I could dispose of it (seriously, nobody thinks to look here, it was literally my only hiding place!), I offered to help cook so I could miss out half the ingredients… In case you hadn’t gathered, it was a bit of a stressful time!
So, other than making you all laugh and slightly humiliating myself, what’s the point in me telling you all this? Because recovery and changing our habits can be an incredibly slow journey. When I met my boyfriend nearly two years ago, I was not quite in the crazy hiding food in my knickers stage, but I was still oscillating pretty much between undereating and bingeing. From speaking to many friends, especially females, this seems like a pretty common occurrence, albeit not quite to the extreme of my situation. The mythical 1200 calories seemed to become a benchmark thou shalt not go below. I admit that 2 years ago I was still consuming only 1000 calories a day. Whilst marathon training. And then beating myself up because I couldn’t stick to it and kept bingeing and therefore couldn’t beat my eating disorder. I felt like a failure, when in reality I wasn’t giving myself a chance, not even half a chance.
Now I’m an fairly intelligent individual. I am good with numbers; I have a maths degree for christs sake! Yet I still could not trust any information that I read or heard with regard to increasing my calorific intake. My ever present eating disorder voice constantly told me I had to lower it “just in case” the calculations weren’t correct. Over the last two years, with help from my boyfriend, who is the first person I’ve been able to trust more than the eating disorder voice, I have slowly increased my calorific intake. In January, I purchased Sean’s nutrition ebook ‘The Ration Pack Diet’. I trusted Sean, primarily because my boyfriend did, and, let’s face it, you can’t argue with his credentials and knowledge! I trusted him to cut through the BS and help educate my very confused attitude towards food.
Reading The Ration Pack Diet helped me to be able to clearly see how much I was undereating by. And yet, it’s still taken me three months to finally trust it. I trusted Sean’s words, but I still thought maybe if I had enough willpower I could lose the weight quicker by cutting more calories than advised. Fast forward three months and I hadn’t lost any weight. Every time I tried to slash my calories I then ended up bingeing. Granted my body is perhaps more sensitive to a deficit than some others, due to the state of starvation it was in for many years, but I am telling you this because I am living proof that this method does not work.
I have finally started eating the correct number of calories, nearly double what I was eating a year ago…and you know what? I’ve actually started to lose weight! My calorie goal may be higher, but I’m actually sticking to it, and providing myself with enough energy to be able to carry out my ultra training! I’m finally starting to trust in the process and create realistic and achievable targets. I guess what I’m saying is that the process of weight loss, strength gains or endurance progression is a slow and steady one. Please don’t be like me and ignore this advice despite reading it countless times. Slow and steady wins the race.