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Feeling lost and confused.
04-02-2016, 03:07 PM
Post: #1
Feeling lost and confused.
Hi everyone,

I'm currently struggling with completely unexplained weight gain. I gradually increased my calories in September from about 1200 to 1700, having spent the past year been maintaining on 12-1500 per day with 2 hours in the gym. Prior to this, I had suffered from anorexia for 4 years, eating between 600-1000 cals a day (with varying exercise over time). At 5"3.5, my lowest recorded weight was 34kg. I gained a massive amount when my disorder switched to bulimic tendencies, which led to my slight increase in cals last year when I realised that was the only way to stop binging. When I increased in September, my weight was around 45/6 kg; it's now about 49 (maybe more now!)

I currently do heavy lifting 4x per week, and gentle cardio 2/3x per week. I'm still gaining after all this time!! In particular, my thighs gained an entire inch this week (22inches for someone of my height any small frame looks ridiculous) - so I know it's fat gain, not muscle!! I am probably more like 50kg now. I feel so lost - I need to lose this fat, however don't want to mess up my metabolism further. I feel at a dead end - either I go back to restricting for the rest of my life, or I keep going and either stay stuck in this body or even worse, keep gaining. What makes it worse is that I should be gradually losing on the amount I eat, given my activity levels! What do I do? I can't afford to risk gaining any more weight, and I can't truly move on from my ed until I can trust my body to work properly.

Here's a rundown of my weekly cals for the past few weeks:

7th-13th Feb: 1687
14th-20th Feb: 1647
21st-27th Feb: 1468
28th Feb-5th Mar: 1641
6th Mar - 12th Mar: 1683
13th Mar-19th Mar: 1539
20th Mar- 26th Mar: 1553
27th Mar-2nd April: 1678

I have had the occasional 2000ish day, but it evens out with lower days - life happens I guess. I'm normally 100 either side of 7000.
My aim was to be maintaining on 2000 + by May; plus I have gained some muscle from lifting which I would have thought would raise my metabolism, too. I'm so lost. Please help!
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04-03-2016, 09:46 AM
Post: #2
RE: Feeling lost and confused.
First, you are not alone and what you are experiencing is completely normal. Also, I struggled with anorexia for many years, so I do know where you are coming from. I have personal experience with the disease itself, the therapy, the recovery (both physical and emotional), with then undereating later in life and coming out of that as well. I know what you are going through and its scary, but to be blunt, you have 2 choices, and you know what they are: get better or don't. And its awesome that you have increased calories like you have. I understand how that was a frightening decision borne of desperation, and trust me, its sucks now as you claw out from under this, but it is SOOO worth it in the long game. Keep at it - I promise you you can live life again.

So moving on to the specifics in your post: Your body actually is working properly! You have been underfueling your body for a long time and you are still underweight; its going to take a little bit for your body to trust you again. Right now what its going is refilling all your depleted glycogen and repairing itself. It is, to be simplistic but literal, taking all of those nutrients and putting them back into important things like your bones, your brain, and your organs. This is important and a positive step! It means your body is like hell yeah, food for the things we need to actually function! In addition, your TDEE is surpressed, so it will take a little bit of time once the repair step is seen as less of an emergency (ie when its received consistent fuel to make repairs) for those "extra" calories to be put to use. In other words, your body has functioned on so little for so long that it has been forced to adapt, and when it receives what it perceives to be extra, it will hang onto it for a little bit in order to make sure that it will CONTINUE to receive nutrients. Once your body trusts you, bloating and weight gain will cease and that higher level calorie intake will be seen as normal.

A couple of other things: fast ups and downs (scale and inches) is water. It is not fat. Again, its the repair process that's happening but most likely from working out in this scenario. As muscles repair themselves the body requires extra water to do so. I can count on bigger legs without a doubt after a leg day or cardio day. The reason you may not have noticed this before is because on 600 calories, your body did not have the luxury of trying to repair leg muscles after a workout - it was fighting to keep basic life functions going instead. So again, I just want to point out that this extra inch is actually great progress for your health! It shows your body is starting to repair and heal and trust you.

How old are you? And how long are you spending in the gym? Are you working with a therapist for your ED?
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04-03-2016, 11:45 AM
Post: #3
RE: Feeling lost and confused.
Welcome Alice!
I'm so glad you found this site. The support you get (like Emma's post) is what makes this place so special. Keep posting, read the testimonials & success stories and do one thing -- commit to healing your body.
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04-03-2016, 08:22 PM
Post: #4
RE: Feeling lost and confused.
Welcome! So glad you have found us and are working towards a healthier you!

You have gotten some great advice from Emma, and heartfelt words of advice from somebody who has been through the process, and made it out the other side! I would also like to mention that although I know it feels as though you have put on massive amounts of fat, at ~ 50kg (110 pounds), you certainly are not overweight, so a lot of that healing is going to have to come from the mental aspect (which can often be more of a challenge than the physical side...) Did you get a chance to read the Metabolism Reset Guide? If not, this will explain a lot of what you are going through and what to expect: http://eatmore2weighless.com/the-metabol...set-guide/ Your body has a lot of recovering to do, and resets of over 1 year are not uncommon when recovering from an ED....

So how old are you and what have you determined your TDEE to be? Give us a few more details and we will be happy to guide you along the way : )

Anitra Soto
Team EM2WL
ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer
ISSA Certified Specialist in Senior Fitness

My EM2WL Journey: http://eatmore2weighless.com/never-too-old-anitra/
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04-18-2016, 04:45 PM
Post: #5
RE: Feeling lost and confused.
(04-03-2016 09:46 AM)emma Wrote:  First, you are not alone and what you are experiencing is completely normal. Also, I struggled with anorexia for many years, so I do know where you are coming from. I have personal experience with the disease itself, the therapy, the recovery (both physical and emotional), with then undereating later in life and coming out of that as well. I know what you are going through and its scary, but to be blunt, you have 2 choices, and you know what they are: get better or don't. And its awesome that you have increased calories like you have. I understand how that was a frightening decision borne of desperation, and trust me, its sucks now as you claw out from under this, but it is SOOO worth it in the long game. Keep at it - I promise you you can live life again.

So moving on to the specifics in your post: Your body actually is working properly! You have been underfueling your body for a long time and you are still underweight; its going to take a little bit for your body to trust you again. Right now what its going is refilling all your depleted glycogen and repairing itself. It is, to be simplistic but literal, taking all of those nutrients and putting them back into important things like your bones, your brain, and your organs. This is important and a positive step! It means your body is like hell yeah, food for the things we need to actually function! In addition, your TDEE is surpressed, so it will take a little bit of time once the repair step is seen as less of an emergency (ie when its received consistent fuel to make repairs) for those "extra" calories to be put to use. In other words, your body has functioned on so little for so long that it has been forced to adapt, and when it receives what it perceives to be extra, it will hang onto it for a little bit in order to make sure that it will CONTINUE to receive nutrients. Once your body trusts you, bloating and weight gain will cease and that higher level calorie intake will be seen as normal.

A couple of other things: fast ups and downs (scale and inches) is water. It is not fat. Again, its the repair process that's happening but most likely from working out in this scenario. As muscles repair themselves the body requires extra water to do so. I can count on bigger legs without a doubt after a leg day or cardio day. The reason you may not have noticed this before is because on 600 calories, your body did not have the luxury of trying to repair leg muscles after a workout - it was fighting to keep basic life functions going instead. So again, I just want to point out that this extra inch is actually great progress for your health! It shows your body is starting to repair and heal and trust you.

How old are you? And how long are you spending in the gym? Are you working with a therapist for your ED?


First of all - thank you SO much for your reply, I'm sorry it took so long for me to get back to you!

I guess I thought my weight would have stabilised now, particularly as 1700 isn't even that much - definitely not weight gain amounts! I was struggling - but learning - to accept myself at 48/49 kg, and while that extra kg or two doesn't sound like much, it's really thrown me. I think the thing I struggle with most is that fact that I look FAR bigger than a BMI of 18/19 - and that isn't body dysmorphia talking, it's evident from the attitudes of others around me. Maybe I have hollow bones or something that makes me lighter, who knows. It's the legs that really get me.

The amount of time I spend in the gym varies, but usually 1-1.5 hours (I allow myself plenty of rest between hard sets if I need it, then finish off with a bit of gentle cardio. On non-lifting days I usually run for 30 mins then do a bit of elliptical). I'm 21, I developed my disorder when I was 16 and began to gain weight 18 months ago after hospitalisation, initially through a period of "reactive eating" (binging) days followed by compensating restriction - this only lasted a couple of months but the fat I gained from it remains, and I'm worried I'll never sort my metabolism out now! I do see a therapist, however I don't find it massively useful.

Again, thanks so much for your support - it's so uplifting to know that it is possible to recover, and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel!
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04-18-2016, 04:54 PM
Post: #6
RE: Feeling lost and confused.
(04-03-2016 08:22 PM)AnitraSoto Wrote:  Welcome! So glad you have found us and are working towards a healthier you!

You have gotten some great advice from Emma, and heartfelt words of advice from somebody who has been through the process, and made it out the other side! I would also like to mention that although I know it feels as though you have put on massive amounts of fat, at ~ 50kg (110 pounds), you certainly are not overweight, so a lot of that healing is going to have to come from the mental aspect (which can often be more of a challenge than the physical side...) Did you get a chance to read the Metabolism Reset Guide? If not, this will explain a lot of what you are going through and what to expect: http://eatmore2weighless.com/the-metabol...set-guide/ Your body has a lot of recovering to do, and resets of over 1 year are not uncommon when recovering from an ED....

So how old are you and what have you determined your TDEE to be? Give us a few more details and we will be happy to guide you along the way : )

Hi Anitra,

Thank you for your response! I have read the guide and honestly it has really helped me have faith in the process these last few months...however, I am really starting to lose the will to try as I simply cannot risk getting any bigger. I just can't! I am 21, and my activity levels vary depending on whether I'm studying/travelling etc but on a more active day most calculators have me at 2100ish, and less active at 1700. Yet I've continued to gain at 1700...I expected this at first, but not after so many months! I can't risk getting any bigger as it is super triggering and I honestly do not know where to go from here. I'm going to be completely honest and say I've lapsed this week - not that I've been starving myself, but I haven't been bothering to try eating enough. My body feels like it doesn't want to gain any more, if you get my meaning? As in, my bf% feels very high and I don't really get hungry as often. My body seems to be telling me not to eat as much and it's confusing.
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04-18-2016, 10:05 PM
Post: #7
RE: Feeling lost and confused.
You have to keep reminding yourself that you are working to heal both your body and your mind from a long period of disordered eating, and that takes time.... Also, it is important to keep reminding yourself that the way your body is responding is completely normal. Maybe it's not exactly the way you *want* it to react, but it is normal. Remember, when you go for long periods of time under-eating your metabolism slows down to match that (low) intake. The job of the body is *homeostasis* ... it wants everything to stay the same.

When you have subjected your body to low calorie dieting (usually in combination with too much cardio), eventually the body will simply adapt. It will down-shift and slow your metabolism down to meet the low intake.

With the cardio, again the body will adapt. It will become more and more efficient with each workout, and the calories burned will become less and less as the body acclimates. Once this happens, the only way to get that same "burn" is to work out longer and harder, but again, eventually the body will adapt, creating a vicious downward cycle.

It is pretty easy to see how the combination of under eating and over "cardio-ing" is the perfect recipe for disaster metabolism-wise. Eventually, once this goes on for long enough, there is simply no way to keep up any more. We can't work out and longer or harder, and we can't eat any less. We feel like garbage, have no energy, our hair, skin and nails start to become dry and brittle, we feel cold, and often we lose our monthly periods. All signs that the body is in shut-down mode and is taking care only of the vital functions...

So, how does this relate to you and what you are going through? Well, what we assume to be a metabolism suppressed by a history of low-calorie dieting is reacting just how it *should* be. The body is saving those extra calories in case you starve it again. Even though you are eating under your *calculated* TDEE, you are eating over your *suppressed* TDEE. The reset process is working to get that suppressed metabolism back up and running where it should be, closer to that calculated number you are getting.

Now, by working towards eating consistently at or around your TDEE, you are working to get your metabolism sped back up where it belongs --- to the point where you can actually maintain at TDEE or Maintenance. You want to be able to eat at your TDEE and *maintain*, not gain. That will be the sign that your metabolism has sped back up and is now doing it's job. Right now, it is probably still functioning a little slower than normal and putting a few of those extra calories away waiting for another period of restriction. Once it gets revved back up, it will stop doing that.

When you are feeling "down", just remind yourself that you are working to heal not only your body, but your mind as well. Be kind to yourself and know that this is not forever. There will come a day when you can take a caloric cut and drop some of the fat that has accumulated as you healed. But, even when that day comes, the cuts will be short (8 weeks max) and will be alternated with "diet breaks" where you eat at TDEE for a couple of weeks and "remind" your metabolism of what *normal* is.

As far as your body "telling (you) not to eat as much", that is because after we go for long periods of under eating, we finally start to lose those hunger sensations. We lose those cues that tell "normal people" when they are hungry. In these early stages it is very easy to want to "listen to your body" and simply not eat because you do not feel that physical hunger. Unfortunately, the only thing you can really do is to sort of push past those feelings and rely on your logging to make sure you are getting in an adequate amount of calories. You can not trust your brain right now. In fact one of the signs that a metabolism reset has really started to work is when those hunger cues kick back in. That is a great sign that the metabolism is humming along again and is returning to normal...

The journey is definitely just as much a mental one as a physical one. Please know that what you are feeling is normal. Does your therapist know what you are doing and does he/she support you in this effort?

Anitra Soto
Team EM2WL
ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer
ISSA Certified Specialist in Senior Fitness

My EM2WL Journey: http://eatmore2weighless.com/never-too-old-anitra/
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04-19-2016, 11:47 AM
Post: #8
RE: Feeling lost and confused.
Wonderful advice!

Alice, hang in there...you're very young and if you can beat this thing now you'll have the rest of your life to enjoy.

Imagine your life in 5 years if you heal your metabolism, or 5 years from now if you continue to under eat and over exercise. At 21, your body is going to fairly forgiving but as you age, your body will rebel and you will gain weight if you continue to abuse it. When in doubt, re-read the success stories and read the threads of those who are succeeding.

Best,
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04-20-2016, 08:24 AM
Post: #9
RE: Feeling lost and confused.
Hi Alice, first, keep seeing your therapist. i thought mine was a waste of time too... until it wasn't. Full blown eating disorders are rarely rooted in food/body issues. There is usually something else there that needs to be worked through, and the disordered eating habits is just how the disease manifests. So keep seeing your therapist. It felt like a long road for me, but I could not have recovered without mine. You need to keep eating at a consistent level for your physical body to heal - read Anitra's post again, and read the reset guide again - really let it sink in. After an eating disorder of your length and magnitude, it will take SEVERAL months MiNIMUM for your weight to stabilize. What you are experiencing now is perfectly normal, trust me. Keep posting and letting us know how you are.
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