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Calories? Where to begin??

Blog Forums Raising Metabolism Calories? Where to begin??

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    Nearly doomed from the get-go, here.

    I was a skinny, skinny kid (low normal on growth charts for weight) up until I reached first grade. My dad came from an image-conscious family, and he was always a restrict/binge eater, always overweight. This became problematic when my mom began traveling for business and he was our primary caretaker.. We were fed breakfast at his convenience, and dinner. No lunch, or snacks. I, being ULTRA sensitive, internalized this and became an opportunistic eater. Pretty much developed a similar binge/restrict cycle, and blew up. From first grade on, I was overweight, and gained easily ever since.

    Fast forward to age 19. 5’3 155. I started severely restricting, under 1000 with one weekend cheat dinner out. Then I read about the magic 1200 and began eating that, but exercising (4-7 mile walks daily). Lost to about 121, increased to 1500, gained to 125 and platued. At this point I had lost my period, so I figured I’d maintain to reset my metabolism. Ate 1800-2000 and stayed this weight for a few months.

    During this time, I formed a habit of binging on Saturdays without an impact on weight. I began dieting again on 1500-1800, and when I hit 118, I ate 1200 until I reached the lowest weight of 108. Eventually I gained up to 114-116 and figured I’d maintain. I did so easily on 1800-2300 and one binge day on the weekend with 6-7 mile walks every single day.

    Even though I would alternate between trying to lose to 110 and saying screw it, I stayed 116 for awhile. Even when I began eating slightly more and exercising slightly less, I settled here for over a year and a half. I was even at a point where for a week I had eaten 2500+ per day while on vacation with no exercise, and maintained. Previously this was unheard of for me, as eating even 300 calories over my usual for the day would result in a slight gain for the week.

    Earlier this year, I went though a stressful experience with school and graduation. I began night binging frequently, sleeping poorly, and became overall stressed. I have probably gained 10-15 pounds to date.

    Will admit, I have tried to slash my calories to compensate but I lack the willpower I once had. On a positive note, my body image issues gone, food insecurities are completely eliminated. The urge to overeat has shifted from hunger during dieting attempts to emotional eating. I’m making an effort to sleep more. On the negative side, my digestive system has yet to heal, and I go 2-3 times per week. My skin is dry. I can’t seem to maintain or lose any weight, and haven’t had a cycle in years. (22 now, 5’4 and probably 127).

    I don’t know where to begin when it comes to calories and activity! Thoughts? Although I’ve overcome many self esteem issues, I abhor the thought of more weight gain! I fear that I was a naturally skinny person (mom was never more than 5’6 and 115-120, brother is very thin with no issues of diet or weight concern) that was unnaturally fat for most of her life and subsequently doomed to live life fat as a result. :/


    Whoa, cookie to anyone who actually reads this book! I also wanted to throw in that my satiety signals are nearly non-existent, meal planning is difficult without calorie counting.. Etc.


    I really like the calculator here: because it provides estimates that are not wildly low, and allows you to adjust your caloric estimates pretty specifically based on your activity level.

    In terms of activity, I’m a big supporter of folks finding something that’s fun and enjoyable to them, and making that a regular habit. Whether that’s walking or hiking, or swimming, or some sport. Just whatever makes you feel good to have a functioning body, do that.

    You didn’t indicate specifically in your post, but it sounds like you’re a woman. Here‘s a guest post from Amber Rogers about the benefits of strength training for women. The benefits apply even if you’re a dude, though. :-D

    You’re young and likely still very resilient. I think your long term prognosis is good. Also, this forum topic might be of value to you, started by someone coming from a sort of similar place as you. Good luck.


    Oh, and in terms of eating: three squares a day is usually a good starting point. Something carby, something proteiny, with enough fat to satisfy the appetite, and maybe some veggies to round it out.

    Try to include metabolism stimulating S foods (starch, salt, sugar and saturated fat) at each meal, and pay attention to what your daily rhythms are, especially in terms of the warmth of your hands and feet, and your frequency of urination. Don’t wash yourself out with too many fluids and have a snack between meals if you start to crash. The basic guidelines in ‘Eat for Heat,’ or in the free starter kit or articles like this recent guest post.


    Thanks for your response. I just realized I never spoke of my gender.. But I suppose it would be odd if a guy was concerned about a lack of a menstrual cycle :-P

    I did see the post, and I have used the calculator before. I find that I am quite inept when it comes to guesstimating my activity and usually end up with numbers barely skimming above 2000 even with the amount of walking I do for exercise! -shrug- in regards to the post, I never trust that situations apply to me because I pretty much binged up to the weight I’m at now, due to stress.

    I eat three meals a day, have no problem with snacking, but still am at a blah point. I’m thinking the treadmill walking is possibly the culprit? I didn’t lose my period until I started exercising excessively. I’m thinking relaxing walks outside and yoga may be the remedy.


    Great to hear that your body issues are gone and you have no food insecurities. Good place to start! I agree about just doing relaxing walks and yoga until your period returns. I’d make sure that the yoga is more along the lines of restorative yoga and gentle yoga as opposed to power yoga. Another option may be to take a break from all exercise. That’s what I did and I got my period back within 3 weeks. Belief me that was a hard choice but looking back I’m glad I did it. Taking a break and consistently eating 2500+ calories was just what my body needed. It may take longer but reading the information at was very helpful to me.

    I lost my period for 3 years and wasn’t underweight during that time. I was a tiny bit underweight prior but maintained a normal but thin weight then and for most of my adult life. I too exercised a lot (but I cut back and that still didn’t work) and restricted my calories. I would recommend eating at least 2500 calories and not stressing too much on the calculator (how many calories you’re burning, etc…) Also, focusing on sleep and stress relief is really good.

    The Real Amy

    OmNomNom, good for you for working on taking care of yourself. I believe the body has an amazing capacity to heal, especially at such a young age. I have no doubt you will get to your natural set point. Sometimes the body has to heal a bit first, but I can share that I lost weight effortlessly after gaining (and getting puffy) in ED recovery. I returned to pretty much my pre-ED weight. It all took a few years to settle out, however. Just try to work with your body rather than forcing anything on it. It’s only when people get into a diet/regain cycle or do crazy things like low/no-carb that they really mess up their metabolisms and have big gains over time. I agree with saisrice that sleep and stress reduction are key as well.


    @OmNomNom- One part of your post that struck my attention is when you said you no longer have any willpower when it comes to food. I think that’s great, because I think it will make recovery easier for you.

    Until fairly recently, I had remarkable self control in my diet. If I tried to restrict something (in a vain attempt to recover my health), I could follow the program perfectly without any problem. I could give up just about anything–or force myself to eat anything–because my stupid willpower was strong enough to overcome my body’s resistance.

    But I don’t have any willpower anymore when it comes to food. A month back, when I was trying to lose some weight, I declared to my wife that I was going to do a fast. Well, I did skip breakfast, but then at lunch I suggested we go out to the local Chinese buffet! After that, I tried low carb, and within a week I was eating plates of mashed potatoes, slamming beers, etc. My mind no longer has any power to resist hunger–when in the past it was so easy.

    And this is great! It means that I’m done with restrictive diets. I can still make intelligent decisions about what I eat and in what proportions, but I can’t fight my body anymore. Thank God, I just don’t have the willpower.


    @saisrice- Thank you for the tips and the kind words! It helps, certainly, when you’re mentally in a good place. I am very familiar with YourEatopia and Gwyneth Owlyn.. However, I feel that her approach is a bit… Incomplete? Excessive?

    @The Real Amy- I appreciate the vote of confidence! I suppose I am lucky that I am young.. But I worry that my repeated restriction/binge/etc has done severe damage to my metabolism. :/.
    When you recovered, did you naturally lose the pre-ed weight, or did you make an effort to lose to pre-ed weight?

    @David- I completely agree and entirely relate!! Before, I could easily do anything and everything much like you described. Fast? No problem. Eliminate snacks? Easy. Ignore a buffet and sip water instead? Simple. Now it’s like….. NOPE. :) Not complaining at all, it’ just pretty.. well, 180!

    So all in all.. do I sound difficult if I question whether or not 2,500 is excessive? I really just don’t know what to do. I guess I’m at a point where I’m “ready” but really want to heal without additional weight gain. Even this measly 15 pound gain has me feeling generally uncomfortable. :/


    I’d love to hear more about your journey too, The Real Amy. It’s been hard for me to have gained weight but I’m determined to see this through so I can complete my recovery and I know that my body will find a happy place. When I first recovered from bulimia (11 years ago) I found my body’s set point then and happily maintained within a 5 lb range without doing much and not restricting. Then I had my daughter and tried to loose the baby weight, lost a huge amount and then started this whole nightmare. Anyways, I’m looking forward to getting back to that place I was although it seems harder this time at 31 as opposed to 19. Funny thing is when I recovering then I let myself eat whatever I want which was a lot of candy, soda and maybe some rice a roni.

    David, I agree with you about that it’s good that we are no longer able to restrict! I have been feeling very “fat” recently and that old urge to restrict has come up but I could never go back to that. I can see where it would end and so I just forget it and enjoy my pizza.

    OmNomNom, I understand what you mean about youreatopia being a little excessive and incomplete and that’s why I began to eat for heat. However, I do think there is something to eating 2500 calories (or at least something around there). I stopped dieting a few months before I began eating more and it didn’t bring back my period. I cut back exercising to 2 days a week and my period still didn’t return. This was in addition to acupuncture 2-3 times a week, chinese herbs, sleeping 8+ hours, meditation, mindfulness daily, black out blinds, etc… So I really do think that our bodies need a lot of calories and rest to heal, especially when it’s so severe that we don’t get our periods. I was not underweight to start so I didn’t feel I needed to be as sedentary as possible but I did limit my walking until I got my period back. Seriously I wouldn’t take my dog for our usual walk for the first few weeks. I calculated my calories in the beginning and focused on getting enough healthy fat but now I’m over 2 months in and I don’t count my calories and just eat whatever (with eating for heat principles in mind). Sometimes I’ll add it up and am surprised that it’s a bit lower (1700) but I realize that on those days I don’t feel as good. I don’t want to compromise my recovery because I want to keep getting my period and eventually be pregnant. So I try to ensure that I have 3 solid meals and snacks. That ensures that I’m at least around 2,000 and more closer to 2,500. Sometimes I’m sure I eat more and a few times I’ve added it up and was 3,200. It really is all worth it and think of how awesome life will be in a year or few years once we’re at our bodies set points and never have to think about calories or what we’re eating or not eating and can just enjoy life and all the food it has to offer. And we are just the same size and all of our clothes fit day in and day out. I understand completely about 15 lbs feeling uncomfortable and I wish I could say I didn’t gain anything but I did. More than 15 I imagine but I have no idea since I threw out my scale. It was the best thing ever and I never want to weigh myself again! Anyway, sorry for the super long post. Good luck!


    @saisrice- Your positivity is very refreshing! I really do like to hear about the experiences of other people. It certainly helps me to put things into perspective. Ah, the set point. I wish I had a looking glass to see where my set point falls! I frequently wonder if my set point was really 150-155 pounds, and if my messed up eating habits really hadn’t screwed things up from the get-go… Obviously I wish it was lower!

    @The Real Amy- I would love to hear your story if you’re willing to share!

    • This reply was modified 10 years, 10 months ago by OmNomNom.
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