During my recovery I have learned many new things about myself and my body; things I wouldn’t have believed or even cared to acknowledge a few months ago when my mind was even more distorted and warped than it is now.
Overall, our bodies are pretty darn smart.
I have often turned to the Ancel Keys and the Minnesota Starvation Study to combat my negative voice with a little rationality and scientific fact, so the other day as I was re-reading the findings (I am in obvious need of a little reason in my life right now) I was reminded of our anatomical response to a reduction in caloric intake.
Hello, your body slows down.
Pulse rate declines, calcium is stripped from the bones, skin becomes dry and hair falls out; this is a natural response to inadequate nutrition and a way of conservation so your body can use the energy it is receiving for more important functions, like staying alive.
Cognitively I know all that, and I am sure those of you who are or have struggled do too.
What I chose not to remember was that during the re-feeding stage of the experiment, those who increased their meals plans most drastically had the highest rise in BMR.
Well that should be encouraging!
Most people who begin a journey toward health are terrified of immense weight gain.
Ok, let me be more specific…
I AM TERRIFIED OF IMMENSE WEIGHT GAIN since I worry my metabolism is somehow broken, or because I believe I am an abnormal person who shouldn’t be allowed to eat anything because it makes my thighs expand at the table.
At this current second I am in a bit more cogent mindset and can confirm to you that during my inpatient hospitalizations, and throughout my durations at residential and partial, I was eating a significant amount more than I am now and doing less physical activity and I did not balloon up overnight at any of those facilities.
I gained weight, yes. But I did not miraculously explode into a ginormous whale like I envision in my mind sometimes.
Healing, repair and assuring our bodies that we are no longer going to starve requires a good bit of energy. Even if the increase on the scale seems dramatic at first, it really isn’t. A lot of it is water, and the rate in which a person will gain levels off pretty quickly and sometimes even requires additional calories when the body starts to trust that it will no longer be deprived.
I personally need to remember this whenever I argue with my husband that a slice of cheese on my sandwich is absolutely out of the question, because I have seen the proof first hand. Ed just likes to have a selective memory.
On a similar note, our bodies are extremely intelligent when it comes to knowing what they want and need.
I have discussed this a few times before but lately it has been demonstrated more and more through my own experience.
I used to love the Eat This Not That books, and I have to admit I still find it entertaining to flip through the latest editions.
I was in our school library the other day and the most recent book was displayed front and center as a new arrival. While I was waiting on the librarian and media specialist to work through some things I needed, I of course HAD to browse through the pages, scanning the featured fast food chains and their suggested swaps.
I started thinking; the authors of this book sometimes suggest substituting meals like chicken or salads for a burger, or egg white sandwiches for a muffin.
If my body wants a more carbohydrate heavy breakfast like cereal, eggs really do not satisfy me.
I would have denied this months ago, stating a morning meal of egg whites and reduced sugar ketchup was a totally AMAZING breakfast that was SOOOO much better than the non-filling cereal bowl.
I think I spoke those words only to try to convince myself they were true, but they are so not.
I was/am actually scared of cereal because I LOVE it, feel like some days I could eat more than one serving (heaven-forbid!), and would be hungry shortly after causing me to “overeat.”
I didn’t really like egg whites better than my precious Kashi Go Lean Crunch, but the caloric difference made me want to like the protein item more.
Well there is a VERY big difference between being FULL and being SATISFIED.
Yes, my stomach could be full with egg whites, some broccoli florets and a diet condiment, BUT it was never truly happy.
Sometimes a person just wants a sweet and delicious breakfast with ice-cold almond milk and berries!
Maybe it has more calories, but it makes my taste buds dance with excitement, and eventually the body will either use the extra energy or it might not be as hungry later. Either way, no person needs to feel obligated only eat things they think they SHOULD, JUST because their nutritional profile is more ED acceptable.
Again, I need to remember this tomorrow when I am fighting with my own mind about my daily menu.
So although these topics are not new, I wanted to provide a reminder to myself, and to anyone else who may be having a difficult time that our bodies really do know their needs, and weight will not somehow instantly appear on one’s stomach or butt because of one meal or day (it takes 3,500 calories in excess to what your body burns to gain a real pound, you know).
So if this weekend a friend asks if you want to get ice cream and your first reaction is “holy shmoly that sounds fantastic,” but you hesitate because of fear, it is better to go with your gut (no pun intended!) and have a fantastic, delicious time!
As I said yesterday, a life restricting food is essentially a life restricting fun, family, friends and vitality.
It really sucks to push out of my comfort zone, and reduce the amount of time I spend exercising, while simultaneously eating things I have never ever tried or wouldn’t have touched the majority of my existence, but I am holding onto the hope that the agony is temporary. It would suck WAY more if the rest of my days were spent alone, sick and measuring out nut butter with a teaspoon. don’t you think?