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Reply To: Body Image and Self Esteem

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I’m here because I kind of ruined my health over the last five years I guess maybe in part with vanity, though I assumed I was also healthier. I’ve always been lean and responded well to strength training. I never really set out towards fitness or dieting goals or got the paleo religion, but I absorbed some bad ideas from that site and Art DeVany’s old site and I apparently wound up under eating by accident for a very long time.

The leangains guy says eating one or two meals a day is fine. I didn’t find it hard at all to skip breakfast, so I did that many days for long stretches and would just have black coffee and not eat until 1PM. Art DeVany used to post pictures of his meals, which would vary but typically be something like 1/3 pound of some sort of meat or fish, a vinagrette salad with half an avacado, and a piece of fruit. This looked healthy to me, so I modelled my two meals a day on that. There’s no way the meal pictures he was showing are really all he eats because the calories are too low. I would eat quite a bit more than he depicted and often add a cup or two of buttery mashed potatoes, but the images still set me up to under eat.

I was walking about three miles a day to/from work and erands, playing one or two tough racquetball games a week, and lifting pretty hard twice a week. I got very lean with a decent amount of compact muscle and looked great shirtless, if I do say so. I got welcomed attention from it.

But then maybe about three years ago problems started cropping up: a weird bout of pleurisy, ocassional small patches of psoriasis, bruxism, acne flare ups that took weeks and weeks to truly heal, repeated painful and long bouts of sinusitis (loads of bloody mucus), and general anxiety and some muscle twitching. I increasingly felt over the months that something was badly wrong, but none of this was debilitating; just weird and very frustrating. In the last year my performance on the racquetball court fell apart and I’d be dead exhausted and slow halfway through matches when my chubby opponent fifteen years older was fine.

The problem was obviously some sort of dairy or gluten allergy or vitamin defficiency! I mean I was ripped and pretty strong, so it couldn’t be a matter of diet or exercise. Time to waste hundreds of dollars on vitamins & minerals because I read somewhere bruxism and magnesium, and psoriasis and N-Acetylcysteine blah blah blah. Hmm, no improvement so I’d better finally take this paleo idea seriously and experiment with eliminating gluten/nightshades/whatever. Hmm, it’s probably a leaky gut so better try making yogurt and bone broths.

I increasingly felt like shit and it just never even occurred to me that I was chronically undereating and the skipped meals were totally uncalled for, and doubly so considering the amount of exercise I was getting on top of substantial job stress. It’s embarassingly stupid. If I’d never read anything on the internet illustrated with pictures of ripped men and had just always ate like Mom cooked I’d probably never have had these problems.

This was more personal account blather and not body image commentary. I guess my overall point is image and health conscious people are more dangerously susceptible to well packaged dumb ideas about diet and exercise because they actually execute, and probably often have less room for additional stress to start with. I am sure a lot of healthy and strong people are fucking themselves up right now by doing a lot of “intermittent fasting” for long stretches.