Monday, January 13, 2014

Eat less, move more Part 1.2: eat more!

Subtitle: Overcoming hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA) by eating more chips.
Subtitle 2: Was it worth it?

I previously talked about my Hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA) diagnosis, and my weird eating habits in my early 20's. Now let's talk about my current state. I am not a doctor, so take this all with a grain of salt.

When we last talked, I was explaining how I screwed up my hormones by restricting my food intake for the majority of my 20's (I'm 28 now). When I learned that I likely have HA, and that it is likely caused by my food and exercise habits, you'd assume a normal person would do everything in her power to fix the situation. Just eat more! Ta-da!

Take a moment and think about how tiny this turtle is. Look at your fingertips, then at the turtle's relative size. Maybe think about your place in the universe for a minute. Then thank me for giving you this bit of introspection in your day. KIDDING. Sorta.. I mean, he is REALLY small. 

But... I'm a decent sized person. I'm not willowy. I'm tall, and this calculator says that my basal metabolic rate is about 1400 cal/day (let's just all agree that when I'm talking about food, the "k" in front of calories is implied? I feel like a jackass when I type "kcal") and on a normal day with some amount of activity I need much closer to 2000 cal/day. Well, for a long while I was using MyFitnessPal, which estimated that for my "sedentary" lifestyle, I needed less than 1800 calories a day to maintain my weight. According to the more sophisticated calculator I linked to, 1800 would maintain... assuming I did absolutely nothing else with my body all day aside from walk to and from my car at work. And that's not realistic, even if I don't work out. So my first step in my journey to eat more was to ditch MyFitnessPal. I can say that despite really, really wanting to, I haven't tracked calories in an app since December 20.

Sounds like a win, right? Except that I eat most of the same things all the time, and I know that my normal breakfast is around 3XX calories and if I have soup and veggies for lunch it's 4XX calories, plus afternoon peanuts are... you get the idea. My brain has enough info in it to act as MyFitnessPal. I'm proud and also disgusted. Part of the whole "stop restricting" thing requires that I stop counting what I'm eating constantly checking if it surpasses some limit I've set for myself in my head. Easier said than done.

So, I  tried to stop counting. And it worked! I no longer have a running sum of what I've eaten for the day in my head. But, and this is a big but (ha), that doesn't mean my hunger and fullness signals are accurate just yet. That's what I was talking about in my last post... I have tried for years to stifle normal hunger feelings. I have taught myself that being hungry is good. When I wake up hungry, I am proud of myself for not overeating the night before. In the past, when I've tried to be normal about eating when I'm hungry, or what I think normal is, I've gained weight and that was scary to me. I now know that was my body desperately clinging to calories in order to keep up normal processes.

A part of this whole thing has been to just eat. Eat eat eat. Eat snacks, eat dessert, eat a big lunch, eat. Stop feeling guilty about food. Just eat, damnit. When I did my elimination diet last February, I did actually think about not using allergies as an excuse to be even weirder about food, but that's exactly what I've been doing. The thing is, I legitimately feel a thousand times better when I avoid gluten, dairy and soy! Unfortunately, that also gives me a safe hole to hide in at group functions and parties. It's too easy to go into my "I can't eat that" mode and just eat tons of veggies and hummus and feel self-righteous in my hunger. I've tried just eating what looks good at parties, and then I get a stomach ache, and I feel bad about my food choices in addition to feeling physically bad. I don't have the social eating issue solved yet.

I really wish this was easy, but my head is so screwy that is's not. Nor is it fun. I'm forcing myself to do something that normal people just DO, and it's making me incredibly uncomfortable. Also, not to be all, "I blame the media!" but there is seriously an overwhelming about of stuff out there, constantly, about weight loss and how not to gain weight and how to be "slim" by Valentine's Day or Memorial Day or whatever. It's hard to look at all that and say, nope, I'll be over here, eating eating eating away. And all the little "diet tips!" that are everywhere, like how you should just drink water before meals, or eat a big salad before your main course, or whatever, THOSE are a part of my being at this point. I have seen them and lived by them for years, and now I'm trying to ignore it, yet seeing so much on facebook and blogs and magazines and.... ugh.
I'm posting this only because I hate it. I hate the term "drama queen" and I hate the prissiness of this graphic. Hate hate hate.

The thing is, despite all my whining, having something to work toward, having a reason for all this eating, is the most important thing for me. I want to restore my fertility and not challenge my bone strength. I want to be functional enough to have a child someday. That is the end goal, and keeping that goal in sight is the only thing that makes this manageable. Fat days and bigger jeans are worth it. The random guy at work asking me if I was pregnant is worth it (KIDDING. that will never be ok. dude just sucks.). This is all worth it.

Too bad it's so hard to get to that point.

Next, I'll talk about how the complete lack of running in my life is making me grouchy. Even grouchier than normal. 

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