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Need help and advice

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    My name is Sam, and I need some advice on current issues I am experiencing with my weight and with nutrition in general.

    Less than two years ago, I was very skinny and likely anorexic (6’3″ and 135 lbs) Upon the cajoling of my Mom and family, I was able to gain some weight, however I discovered last winter (after my swim times fell off drastically; I train with a local masters team) that I was again down to the 145-150 range. I tried taking month(s) off, strength training, etc, nothing made me feel any better.
    In the late spring and early summer I struggled to gain weight, eating 4000-5000 calories per day. I had days or weeks of feeling good, even won an age group triathlon, and swam fast practices again. However the gains were incremental (~2-3 lbs) and I ended up crashing at the end of the summer and not being able to work out at all.

    This past fall, I had my body fat measured at 4%, and spent 2 weeks doing nothing but hiking 2-3 miles and eating 5000 calories. And my weight stuck at 153. Finally, with the help of one of my swim coaches, I began to spike my insulin and eat 6000 calories plus, and felt immensely better. My hormones (which I never knew I even had) flourished, and I swam and ran super fast. My mood was up and my leg soreness was gone.

    Despite this, I began to train a lot, and again crashed. My weight went up on the high calorie diet, but if I backed off for even 2 to 3 days, I lost the weight and it settled back to 156. So now I am not weighing myself, as I will just back off of my diet (a nutritionist from school told me to shoot for 8000 a day, because she has worked with girls who are small/ not athletic and eat 4-5000) if I do weigh myself.

    But I am having serious doubts about what I need to do. When I first started eating this much, I had an incentive to continue, because everything felt unbelievably amazing (again, hormones/ libido, no leg soreness, etc). However now I am just tired and hungry pretty much all of the time. No energy to work out.

    I have no idea if I am still in need of excess calories, or if something else is wrong with me, and I am just further screwing myself up. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated, thank you so much for your time




    Fellow anorexic “athlete” here.

    What you are describing is quite normal. Given how low your BMI got, and your height, I think it will take a tremendous amount of caloric energy to get you out. I’m not even basing that on what I’ve read here so much as what I’ve seen of other guys in treatment-especially guys in their teens and 20s. I don’t know how old you are.

    What you are describing sounds like symptoms of energy deficits. So you maybe got yourself out of deficit for a very short time, felt better, but then started exercising again and bam! no more happy symptoms.

    Can you be sedentary for a while? You have a ways to go in terms of weight gain an calories above basic metabolic need to get to where you likely need to be for your body (and subsequently, your mind) to find peace.

    As far as hungry all the time, yes, well, that makes sense-you starved yourself enough to get down to a very emaciated weight…so when your body realized food was going to be part of the deal again it got happy and is now sending you a very healthy signal-EAT!

    For me, the brain fog, depression, anxiety, and irritability do not go away if I just up the cals. I have to get off the exercise. I’ve played around with this several times. Every time I start the sports again (running is my thing) I fall back into that mental trap. I’m not swearing off running forever, but for now it isn’t worth the mental prison it causes. I really think if my body is allowed to fully recover, that some day I’ll be able to run without all the rules and rigidity and compulsion. But it’s gonna take some time. It also means I need to just relax. For me, some of the stuff on this forum about refined sugar vs unrefined, or carb to fat ratios, and blah blah blah, are just not healthy indulgences. Orthorexia is a bitch. I don’t want that any more than I want anorexia.

    Anyway, what you’re experiencing is normal. You can proceed with the expectation that it will be uncomfortable, will rock your world, and will force you to challenge your beliefs, perceptions, coping skills, and perspective on life in general. Or you can go back to the hell you came from. You didn’t say it was hell, but it sounds that way so I’m assuming.


    Hi Tennosea,

    Thanks for your help and advice. Yes, I am 26, and yes, I have tried to get over this all year and every time I up the calories and work out, I just crash.

    The biggest thing hindering me is not knowing if this is truly my problem. I know this sounds ridiculous, given that a nutritionist told me to eat 8000 + calories, an exss PhD said my body fat was 4%, and that when I have eaten in the past, my hormones have come back. However when I first started this, I had an incentive besides just the good feelings, because my swmim/ running fitness came back. Without the fitness incentive, I get scared that I am really suffering from something else, and all of the excess calories etc are just doing me further harm.

    Anyway, I really appreciate your sharing this information with me, it helps tremendously to hear from other people



    Sadly, denial is a part of the disorder of anorexia. It took me years to realize what was going on with me. Even my family bought into the denial.

    It sounds like you’ve looked at the rational, objective facts-you are underweight and losing, you have symptoms of malnourishment, you are hungry, tired, and irritable, and you are fixated on weight and calories-and gotten an answer.

    It sounds like your heart, or your intuition, or whatever you want to call the less data-based part of you, is giving you a similar answer as to what is “wrong” with you.

    And it sounds like the answer you are getting from both sources-objective, and subjective-is the same.

    Do you live in a decently-sized city? Can you try to see a therapist, preferably one who knows about eating disorders/anorexia athletica in men? I think you would find it tremendously helpful. This is so hard to do alone. You could also look into support groups.

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