I've struggled with eating disorders before, but no one ever warned me that an unhealthy food obsession would manifest in so many different ways. During my 8th grade year, I traded my battle with anorexia for a strict "healthy eating" addiction and religious, an intense workout regimen. Guilt plagued me when I didn't complete a workout or happened to eat anything "unhealthy." It wasn't until college that I realized too much of any good thing is really a bad thing.
After reading "Living With a SEAL," by Jesse Itzler, (which is an awesome book) over the last Christmas break, I decided to take the fitness Guru's advice and eat nothing but fruit until noon every day. At first, I felt like my energy levels were better, and I completely ignored the fact that I was starving my body for the first 1/3 of every school day. I sat through countless class lectures, ignoring my growling stomach and praying that I wouldn't pass out before lunch.
In addition to my new fruit phenomenon, I felt compelled to avoid all of the added hormones and "fake" ingredients in the meat around GCU's campus, so I stuck strictly to eating hard boiled eggs, pistachios, and pumpkin seeds. These foods overloaded my body with "healthy" fats and carbs, while barely providing me with enough protein to make it through the remaining 2/3 of the day.
I worked out 5-6 days a week, for over an hour a day, every day. At first, I blamed my lack of muscle memory and muscle gain on not enough sleep or water. Eventually, the chronic fatigue set in, and heavy-weight deadlifts and squats became excruciating—when they used to be fun for me.
Without working out at all, my body composition requires a minimum of 1,670 calories a day in order to survive. This number is called my "resting metabolic rate." After multiplying my resting metabolic rate by 1.725 (the necessary multiplier for anyone who participates in 'intense physical activities' 6-7 times a week), I discovered that I need a minimum of 2,880 calories a day.
I desperately wanted to save money and "eat clean." Soon, the results of only eating about 1,400 calories a day, while still working-out religiously, starting becoming even more detrimental to my health. I got sick 3 times—with 3 different respiratory and stomach viruses—in the span of 5 weeks. I continued to ignore the fact that I wasn't eating enough protein, blaming my growing weakness on my constant "cold."
A few weeks ago, I became concerned when I didn't have the strength to do a core workout that was once really easy for me. My hair fell out in handfuls. Being incredibly stubborn and health-conscious, I persisted in my "diet" and "only fruit before noon" fad. I gave up on my workouts, thinking that my body needed a week of rest and that was simply its way of telling me.
Over spring break, I visited a Naturopath Doctor, who found that my body has a hard time digesting even "healthy" fats, which had made up the majority of my diet for the past 6 months. Even though almonds, pistachios, and pumpkin seeds are good for our bodies in moderation, the truth is that healthy muscle mass requires a lot more protein than it does fat. Seeds and almonds are actually not a good source of protein since the ratio of their fat to protein content is nearly 3:1. After doing a lot of research, it became obvious that consuming meat is the easiest, most efficient way to receive enough natural protein without overloading our bodies with unwanted fat and carbs. I resolved to eat the meat on GCU's campus, even though I had refused for nearly 6 months prior.
When I visited the doctor, I was shocked at the number that appeared on the scale as he had me weigh myself. I was 10 pounds lighter than I had been as a 15-year-old. After my doctor's visit, I promptly downloaded an app to help me track my macros, and I was shocked at how little I was actually eating every day.
Realizing I'd lost over 10 pounds since my freshman year of high-school (when I should've actually been gaining weight from muscle mass), I started consuming over 200g of protein every day, my appetite came back with a vengeance, and I actually felt satisfied after my meals. Of course, my body's initial reaction was to reject all of the protein, and I had to learn that I can't handle more than 30g of protein every hour. I started giving myself more time between meals and I ate a lot of healthy carbs.
It wasn't until my Mom, Life-Leader, and doctor confirmed my need for protein that I gave up my latest "health" obsession. Constant dizziness and muscle fatigue forced me to realize that my body was not compatible with the vegetarian lifestyle. I'm now really happy to have an excuse to eat as much as I want every day.