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too long don't read, or: am i completely screwed

Blog Forums Raising Metabolism too long don't read, or: am i completely screwed

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    long boring self-indulgent storytelling ahead beware

    also tw? hella numbers/tales from the ED crypt

    okay, dyed in the wool anorexic, and as far as i can tell, have been at least subclinically restricting my entire life; the first time i was hospitalized for refusing to eat for a few days was when i was two or three years old. all the women on my mother’s side of the family have extreme (but completely unacknowledged) eating disorders, though some are emaciated and some are normal or “over”weight. my mother is overweight herself, but has been eating less than 1500 calories a day (and sometimes pretty much zero) for as long as I can remember; she’s also type I diabetic, which didn’t develop until she was in her late 20’s (and i wonder if a lifetime of restriction/anorexia set that off).

    apparently when i was about 4 or so my parents thought my brother and i were getting too chubby and so they simply began feeding us less, and i never remember having a “healthy” relationship with food–eating was always viewed as shameful and something to be done in secret. i don’t remember having hunger signals ever; when i first got them back a few months ago they were completely novel and new to me.

    think i spent my entire childhood/teenhood just not eating enough, with the occasional reactive eating session when the house was empty. restricted myself chubby, even though i was moderately active, played soccer and was a serious ballet dancer for about 14 years. always cold, always low blood pressure, a lot of stress-related health things (frequent cold sores, eczema, etc). looking back i don’t think i could have been eating more than 1000-1500 cals a day in my teens, just thinking that the goal of eating was to, um, do it as little as possible. highest weight (i think, i was afraid to weigh myself often) was about 165 at 5’8″ my freshman year of college.

    spring of the following year the restriction picked up way hardcore: i did an “experiment” where i straight water fasted for a week, which kicked off a few months of ridiculous exercise for multiple hours a day fueled on an ever-dwindling allowed amount of food. got down to about 135 this way, eating between 500-1000 cals per day for about 5 months.

    at the end of that summer, i went back to school and decided i just wasn’t going to eat any more. i would fast all week long, sipping “diet” hot cocoa and stevia’d tea, taking in between 150-500 cals on average days and 0 on “good” ones, sometimes taking in nothing at all for two or three weeks at a time. at first i would reactively eat a huge meal or two on the weekends when i would visit my boyfriend, but once he found out about the ED i no longer felt i had anything to hide, and so would eat as little as possible when i was with him, too. this goes on for about five months, until my parents/university figure out what’s going on, and i’m shuttled into therapy. still losing weight, still fasting; it’s another two months until i get dragged to the hospital against my will because i’m about to die from heart failure. weight = about 95 pounds

    pretty much thrown into recovery; my therapist actually printed out the YE/Minniemaud guidelines for me so that’s what i used, though i was thinking of the 3000 as a maximum, not a minimum, and think i only actually hit it a handful of times. also a few days after beginning recovery i actually developed refeeding syndrome and so became terrified of carbs, eating fewer than 50g a day for the first few months of eating again.

    i did refeeding for about 3 months and gained up to 130, at which point i was told i could switch to maintenance, which i immediately did and simultaneously began paleo as well. did this for about another 5 months, eating strict paleo and exactly 1928 cals per day, meticulously weighing every gram etc. i also began exercising again as well once i moved to maintenance, bodyweight strength training and walking which took several months to graduate into running.

    thankfully i had a crisis of faith and was able to escape paleo and all nutrition/health/diet/”science” bullshit and can now eat pretty much any food, as long as i make it myself, can weigh it, and know exactly how many calories are in it. still terrified of PUFA and veg oils, and can’t eat food without knowing how many calories are in it so i can log it–i’ve still been eating exactly (or as exactly as possible) 1928 cals/day for a year now and my weight stays around 125, which is pretty much the highest i’m comfortable with

    a lot of my health problems, both from the severest restriction and before that, are gone, but there’s some stuff that is still worrying me. i’m freezing pretty much constantly–my morning temps range from 95-96.5, and even late in the day i never get above 98, and lately no amount of food seems to be able to get me warm (coming out of a mini-relapse/deficit at the moment and i just ate several thousand cals of warming foods; still freezing. should note that it is winter here and i live very close to the south pole, but still nothing is giving me that warm jittery rushy feeling. a month or two ago i was able to get that heat/energy a couple times from eating a big breakfast, but for some reason i can’t get it back). obviously a lot stronger than i was a year or two ago but my workouts are still pretty pathetic. hormones also appear to be kind of wonky.

    basically, i’m worried i shortchanged or cheated recovery by stopping pretty quickly, at an arbitrary weight, and moving into rigid inflexible calorie counting, but i’m completely terrified of being any bigger than i am now, at all, as well as of developing my parents’ type I. i don’t really even know what my question is; i guess i want to know whether i’ve put myself in a bad situation or a relatively okay/sustainable one? since i really have no idea what a normal, non-restriction-influenced weight for me is, how bad is it if i just chill at this one? when i’m making sure to account for all my activity and cal-burning, i have pretty well-functioning hunger signals and feel normal, hunger-wise, but every few months i find something to use as a “buffer” (for a while it was a very active job, now it’s a standing desk) that i try not to count and after a few weeks end up feeling “crazY” (read: starving) and have to have a big refeed to get things back under control. any thoughts on how screwed i am (metabolically), what i should do or where i should go from here? basically i want the impossible: to be faster/stronger/have more muscle, be less cold/crazy, and still be a size 0? probably can’t happen huh

    welp that’s a completely incomprehensible babble of a novel, yikes. apologies to anyone who was kind enough to wade through it; yall are awesome

    also whoops hope this is the right subforum for this?

    mighty m

    Was just about to get the f- away from the computer for the night and read this. The whole thing!

    Disclaimer: I don’t know shit about ED other than what I’ve read on here, and some Your Eatopia stuff, which is surprisingly relevant to the population at large. I don’t even feel right responding, but I couldn’t get it out of my mind and I think you should know that human beings on the internet want you to be well & happy.

    You seem like a really good person and a smart person and I love your Heathers pic, so total person-in-a-bar, no-b.s., with respect: No WAY are you screwed, but what you describe isn’t normal either. Being only comfortable with 125# is not normal, for one thing. But you can get back on track.

    I know other people are gonna have better specific advice for you, so I’m going to stfu. Sorry for the abbreviated profanity, I only mean it to indicate how much genuine human concern has been roused across the hemispheres. I apologize if I’m commenting excessively or out of turn.


    no way yo, i appreciate it

    and FINALLY some heathers love i mean dang

    yall call this an 80s-movie-friendly forum ?? yeah “okay”


    folks i was kidding about the tl;dr ): please don’t actually not read

    my waking temp today was 95 degrees, even after a huge refeed the past two days

    what else can i do to get warm ? i’m so cold i want to throw up


    taking temp again after eating a good deal of food and i’m getting readings between 94.5 and 95.5

    mighty m

    Maybe it’s me why they didn’t respond — maybe I’m the thread-killer! :) Since I just got this in my email, I will reply anyway:

    Don’t panic! Two days isn’t much. Relax, keep eating, and keep it SALTY is my suggestion. To me, extra salt, and salt on sweet foods, is the little bit of overdrive when I need it. Some ideas:
    Super salty potatoes & butter;
    extra-salted popcorn (popped in ghee if you want to avoid vege oil, just ate some last night, delish);
    bread & butter with extra salt;
    eat a cheeseburger and salt every bite separately;
    salty cheeses like sharp cheddar and parmasean (sp);
    ice cream with caramel or fudge sauce and SALT;
    BBQ meat with extra salt;
    pancakes w/ maple syrup with salt;
    spicy ethnic stuff like Indian or Ethiopian with extra salt, etc.

    But don’t think you can eat less calories if they’re salty. You have to eat a lot of calories either way. Salt is not a calorie substitute!

    Seriously, get yourself into a nice warm food coma and then read or watch nature TV or sunbathe or nap or something like that.

    To try to address some of the details of what you wrote:
    – Is there something going on in terms of life stress in the background, that’s making the food restriction worse? Is there a way to confront that and/or make things easier for you?
    – Your parents — yikes. I have a nutso family too, in different ways. Good news, crazy parents are survivable, but it really isn’t easy sometimes.
    – Again, I’m not an ED expert, and I apologize if I’m wrong, but what you wrote in the first message sounds really restrictive to me. 125# at 5’8″ is really really thin, that’s not a common natural size, even among young people. There’s a good chance that that’s too thin for you. My personal opinion is that carefully counting out 1900 calories to maintain 125# is NOT sustainable. That’s not just pro-fattie talk, I really think even vain, shallow, conventional people would agree with me that 125 is quite thin for the average 5’8″ person.
    – If you are more active, you have to eat more. What do you mean by “buffer”? … I didn’t get what you meant.
    – You can’t get more muscle or strength doing what you’re doing. Only food builds muscle.

    I don’t think what I have to say is original … you probably know this stuff better than I do, but for various reasons, you’re having trouble just going for it and eating.

    But again you AREN’T screwed, you just have to keep eating and maybe figure out if there’s a way to address other issues, too. People on this site like Lianda Ludwig have recovered metabolically in their 50s & 60s after decades of dieting. But why wait that long, recover now and enjoy your life.

    Maybe try to jump into some thread where the Real Amy is? … she is very open about being an ED survivor and her advice might help.

    Meanwhile, eat lots of food and make it salty!


    Hi Heatherduke, I think the advice mighty m gave you is good. I have been doing this for about 7 months and so far have increased my morning temp from 96.7 to 97.7. That was in the first 2 months. I have been stuck ever since. I have gained a good 30 lbs since last summer. You see, I was gaining my weight back before I even started following Matt’s protocol. Now I feel fat, dumpy & depressed because I’m not making any progress. I am also 58 yrs old so I guess i can’t expect to recover quickly.

    You have been thru a pretty severe lifestyle in terms of eating so give yourself more time while doing this. A few months instead of a few days, & try not to stress over it like I’m doing.


    @HeatherDuke – I don’t know your ED, but I know ED from my own extensive experience. I’m also familiar with the MiniMaud guidelines and YE because that was absolutely invaluable in my own recovery. I’ll share with you some of my own experiences from ED life and from recovery in hopes that they may be helpful for you.

    I lived with ED for 20 years. During much of that time I was miserable and wanted to be able to live without the stress, anxiety, and obsessive thinking about food and body and health and all the other things that went along with ED. But I honestly didn’t believe it was possible. I couldn’t truly envision it.

    The biggest change for me was when I simply stopped being willing to believe my stressful thoughts. I knew that I was unhappy with my choices, and so I decided that no matter what I would stop doing the same thing that was making my miserable, even if it seemed impossible.

    Over the 20 years I had ups and downs – periods of quasi-recovery and then relapse. But the entire time was characterized by obsessive attention to food, body, and ideas – all of which added up to stress and anxiety. On the “other side” of it now I can tell you that I no longer experience that level of anxiety. Even when obsessive thinking occurs, I now choose to give no attention to it. And overall I experience very little obsessive thinking these days whereas it used to be constant.

    As others have already said, 1928 calories is probably too low. Only you can really know that. But your symptoms also suggest that it is too little food. What is perhaps more of concern, however, is that you calculate your food intake to such precision. That seems like a huge red flag to me.

    Also, your therapist either wasn’t using the MiniMaud guidelines, or misunderstood them because the “maintenance” calorie level is exactly the same as the refeeding level. I’m assuming that you are female and under 25, hence the 3000 calories a day. According to MiniMaud, unless you have since turned 25, your appropriate minimum daily calories should still be 3000. Basically, according to my interpretation of MiniMaud, if you eat minimum calories then you are “in recovery”, if you eat minimum calories and have a stable weight and are free of the obsessions and anxiety then you are “in recovery”, and if you eat less than the minimum calories then you are relapsing. While it is impossible to generalize any guidelines and have them apply perfectly to everyone all the time, I still think that the MiniMaud guidelines are pretty darn good. So again, MiniMaud also suggests that 1928 is (way) too low.

    The reality is that for the overwhelming majority of people recovering from restrictive ED, they are going to experience weight gain. And many, if not most, will gain above what they perceive to be comfortable. There are several reasons for this. For one, restrictive eating lowers metabolic rate (as you seem to know all too well with those low temperatures,) which means that you’re probably going to gain weight until your metabolism heals, which could be weeks or months or years. And secondly, most restrictive eaters have a distorted sense of what an ideal weight is. So you have to give yourself a chance to adapt psychologically to a healthier reality.

    Typically, the more a person eats the faster the recovery. 3000 calories a day is your minimum. 4000 is better. 5000 is better yet. Eat, eat, eat. Oh, and NO INTENSIVE EXERCISE! Light walking for short periods of time is fine. But no compulsive exercise. The more you eat and the less you compulsively exercise the faster you can heal. That means the faster your temperatures will rise, the faster your anxiety will diminish, the faster you will feel better. I promise you that my own experience bears this out.

    Recovering from restrictive ED was one of the best things I have ever done. There are plenty of challenges along the way. But I now experience freedom that I didn’t believe was possible before. As I said, I lived with ED for 20 years. I would have save myself so much suffering if I would have known how to heal a long time ago. So I sincerely hope that you discover for yourself that recovery is possible for you now. It definitely is possible to warm up, eat the food, lose the anxiety, and enjoy your life.


    ugh lord i’m sorry for flapping around so much; i was so cold the other day i couldn’t think straight and went into a little bit of a panic attack as a result

    thanks all so so much for your thoughts

    @mighty m , stress should be, if anything, ticking downward at the moment–I’ve just left a very intense job as well as finally fully moved in with my boyfriend/partner, who is a saint and only ever encourages me to eat more and gain weight

    the “buffer” in question is i guess what i call calories that i intentionally burn and then don’t account for in my eating, “just in case” the calorie counts on foods are wrong or i’ve measured something incorrectly or somehow in any way taken in “too much,” the buffer of negative cals will “save me” and WOW does that sound crazy written out

    also i should reiterate that i’ve been “recovered” (inasmuch as i can be called recovered, that is to say, probably not really) for over a year–the big feeds of the past couple days were not the beginning of my recovery or anything, they were just to make up for a chunk of deficit i had racked up working on my feet a lot lately and not accounting for it (the boy insists that i “undo” these sorts of deficits when i let myself fall into them) so it’s not like i’m two days in to recovery and being like “ugh why am i not fixed yet ????”

    also, the ~1900 cals is a net figure, not a total–depending on how much i work out/move for the day, gross intake is more like 2100-2500. is that more okay?

    , when i first started recovery last year i pored over the MiniMaud stuff, but i’ve never been clear on whether the 3000 cals as maintenance was meant as a net or total figure. i know that cals-in/cals-out is a crazy flawed algorithm, and that calculators are unreliable, etc, etc, but this one which i believe both Rob and GoKaleo recommend using, well, eating 3000 cals net per day puts me well above 200 pounds! that can’t be the best weight for me to recover to, can it? i hope?

    sorry for continuing to be vague and weird; i guess in asking about degrees of screwedness i’m worried about either 1.) having kept my metabolism from completely healing by not doing recovery “fully” or “right,” which would mean having to look over my shoulder for the unstoppable doom of weight gain appearing at any point or 1.2) needing to be crazy meticulous forever in order to not gain

    basically, is this “recovered enough”? at least in terms of physical health? sorry to be asking strangers on the internet questions to which they can’t possibly know the answers

    what’s so frustrating is that about a month or so ago i had a period of a couple weeks in which ever morning after breakfast i would be warm and full of energy, just totally wired all day, and i haven’t been able to replicate it since

    the main thing that was different was that i was eating at least about 15% more of my cals from fat at the time, but the general consensus around here seems to be that carbs/sugar are the way to go for warmth and that fat is starting to get villainized a little, which is freaking me out about adding more in. i can’t think of what else it could have been, though, and now that i’m living in such a cold, wintry environment i would desperately like to be warm again

    thanks again all; you are good humans

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

    By all means, eat the fat! I eat lots of butter everyday. And you know what, it’s probably the one food that I have continued to crave since I first started refeeding (mid March). Other things I have kind of rotated through. I will have two or three tablespoons with breakfast- and I am eating at a deficit right now (I still eat over 3,000 cals a day, before exersize). I have lots of energy eating like this and have underarm temps over 98 degrees.

    I remember someone saying it seems that often women need more fat.

    Focus less on what you *think* you should be eating and more on learning to hear what your body is asking for. Your body will tell you what it needs, if you keep trying to listen and keep paying attention you will slowly learn to interpret and know what you need more and more.

    Your fear of going above a certain weight is rooted in your belief that losing fat is hard or impossible. This comes from having lived in a low metabolic state previously. Let go of that because when you are in a high metabolic state, yes, real weight loss is slow but its not hard. The weight you put on is not permanent. Also, you will probably find, in a healthy state you will be the same size at a higher weight. You should really stop weighing. I know how hard that is but do it. It’s a very poor I indicator because it doesn’t tell you what that weight is made out of. Is it bone or muscle? If it is, do you really want to be afraid of it?

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

    @HeatherDuke – There is not right or wrong in any of this. There is only your goal/dream/aspiration and whether or not you are working efficiently toward that goal. I am of the opinion that YE gets is almost exactly and perfectly right in most every regard when it comes to recovery from restrictive eating. So the question is: what do you hope to accomplish? If you want a fully recovery – meaning peace of mind, a healthy body, and a life free of the anxiety and compulsions that are part and parcel of a restrictive eating disorder, then I can offer some advice (which is basically exactly what you’ll find at YE.) Otherwise, I’m not sure what your goals might be. Every one is different, and no one has exactly the same experience as anyone else. And yet, there does seem to be a very strong trend from what I can tell that those with restrictive eating disorders either give up the eating disorder entirely and recover fully or they don’t. If they don’t then those people keep on having the same types of anxiety and unpleasant experiences that they don’t want. Like I said, that’s not everyone. I am sure there are exceptions. But that does seem to be the trend.

    Now, if you are asking for advice for recovery, then my response is as follows. For one, I suspect that if you have to ask if this is “recovered enough” then it is not. Recovered is when you no longer obsess over calories and weight. Recovered is when you have the energy and excitement and enthusiasm to live a full and rich life that leaves little cause or room for thoughts about whether you are recovered enough. Recovered is peace of mind. Recovered is freedom. It is crossing a threshold. You know when you’ve crossed it because you can see how you used to think and live and what you used to believe and how you used to suffer, and it is entirely unappealing to you. You are happy to be happy regardless of how much you weigh. You are happy to be alive and be you and have a full and rich life with no regard to your clothes size. You’ll be free to move and enjoy moving if and when it feels good, but you will never have to exercise compulsively.

    I like the MiniMaud guidelines. They worked for me. They seem to work for a lot of people. And that is very encouraging. And when I say “work” I mean full recovery – healing metabolism and healing the relationship with food and body. Not just a quick fix. Not just a way to prolong the suffering, but a genuine opportunity to end the suffering. You see, if you’re more concerned with what some calculator tells you 3000 calories is going to do to your waistline than you are your sense of wellbeing and happiness, then that says a lot about how distorted ED thinking is. What I’m telling you, and what others report, is that it is possible for many people to genuinely recover from ED following the MiniMaud guidelines. And yes, for most people that involves gaining weight. For some people it involves gaining a lot of weight. I can’t know what will happen for you. But whatever happens, as far as I am aware, MiniMaud is one of the best chances for a full recovery. My experience was that a life controlled by ED was not worth living. So I chose to do something different. I realized that I couldn’t get better results by just doing minor variations on the same theme. I had to do something radically different…like eat the food. It’s not always easy, of course. There are ups and downs. Read the YE forums and you’ll see plenty of evidence of that. But the YE forums are truly wonderful, world-class support for getting well and becoming free.

    Still, it is always your choice. There is no right or wrong choice – just whatever you truly want. It is not a moral issue. There is nothing moral about it. Starving yourself is neither moral nor immoral. And neither is refeeding. But if you want to recover, then my best advise is to dive in with complete abandon. That is what worked for me, and it is the only thing I’ve seen work for anyone else so far. I chose to embrace recovery and to stop caring about the anxiety and obsession. I chose to believe in the possibility of a life of freedom. And I’m glad I did.

    Oh, and like Ashley said: eat the butter (if you want it.) All the macronutrient restriction talk that happens on this forum is rather ridiculous, in my opinion. (And I have been ridiculous enough to engage in plenty of it.) It’s all important. Fat is important. Protein is important. Carbohydrates are important. Fat is important for fat-soluble vitamins, for one thing. So eat all of it. The key to ending restriction is to stop restricting! Butter is wonderful food! It is healthy food. And so is pizza. And so is ice cream. And so are potatoes. And so is pasta. And so is fruit. And on and on. It is all good and good for you – especially for you right now.


    @j-lo unfortunately theres no PM option,but would it ne possible to contact you somehow?


    @Dutchie – My email address is joeylott (at) gmail (dot) com


    hey sorry for hitting and running here last month but thank you all so so much for your thoughts and encouragement; adding in some fat was definitely helpful/warming and your thoughts are all so inspiring and comforting to read. thanks a ton yall

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