T Nation

Female Friend, as Low as 500 kcal/Day


#1

Wasn't sure where to put this, I'm sorry.

I have a friend who is in roughly in the same boat as I (began morbidly obese, is currently somewhere between chubby and "skinnyfat", and trying desperately to fix that) who for the past few weeks reposted her MyFitnessPal daily diets to her Facebook, and the results have me very worried to say the least: I won't say exactly what out of respect for her privacy, but every day it's between 500-800 kcal total, with maybe 100-150g carbs with around 10-20g fat and 10-30g protein.

I believe she also does daily cardio at her local gym for an hour or so (treadmills, stationary bikes, etc), doing no form of strength/resistance training for fear of becoming "too bulky" and hurting herself from occasional seizures (I don't know the medical issues here and refuse to be a nosy busybody about it). She is also trying to "detox" with certain foods and the like.

Her stated goal is to reach 120 lbs in "less than a year". As far as I know she doesn't measure body-fat percentage or go by anything but what her bathroom scale and the calories burned from cardio machines (reportedly burning in excess of half of what she's eaten that day).

Two convos:

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I know I was melodramatic and probably wrong in the details -- I'm really just regurgitating half-remembered, mish-mashed bits from the hundreds of articles and videos I've seen on the subjects of health and fitness -- but I'm truly scared she's in for slow but sure world of hurt if she continues down this path.

I respect and applaud her for not being morbidly obese anymore, and continuing to chase the pot of gold of health and aesthetics.

I also realize that due to her apparent dislike of bodybuilders and strength trainers, especially female ones (though she spares no wrath for male meatheads either) she'll probably not listen to you guys, and I know if I keep bugging her she'll just dig her heels in harder no matter what I say (she's almost as bull-headed as I :slightly_smiling: ).

However, my conscience demands I say and do SOMETHING for my friend whom I've known since early elementary school, even if it ultimately it won't do a lick of good. I just don't want her to make the same mistakes I did, don't want her to have to learn the hard way that crash dieting won't work in the long-term like I did, and am at a loss for what to say or do. So I'll just throw this out to you guys and gals whose collected knowledge, hardships, and failures and successes I've lurked and learned from in (mostly) silent respect and respectful silence, hope she reads what you have to say, and hope for the best. :frowning:


#2

Tell her that she's living off her organs more than bf, and will probably do serious damage to herself if she eats no more than 500kcal for an extended period of time.


#3

She won't do anything in the way of favors for herself dieting like that. Scale weight alone alone doesn't equal good health.


#4

Your problem is in trying to get her to change without hectoring her and making her go into a defensive posture. You have to break into her mindset and disrupt the tight loop she is in.

Best of luck with that!

My suggestion would be to show her articles like Dani Shugarts 'Flat Butt Fix', but introduce them as alternative exercise programs for when cardio seems like a chore. I've had some success with getting a few girls I know to try a little resistance training by getting them to watch Zubka Lights Z-wow series. I sell it to them by saying when its too cold or wet outside to train or the cardio machines are fully booked or you are in a hurry try this as an alternative.

In regards to her diet, another idea would be to invite her over and cook a decent meal for her. A nice chook. See how that goes.

Also be nosy about that seizure issue. Serious red flag right there. However, it might also be the disruptive hook you need. Find out if she has seen anyone about this. Try to get her to ease off the cardio and explore some resistance training while it gets checked out.


#5

I think you're taking the wrong tack.

What she's doing is working for her, and she also has a "snowflake complex" mixed in with a lack of critical thinking skills ("I don't believe in starvation mode otherwise anorexics wouldn't be thin").

There are diets out there (including this sites V-Diet) where people thrive on 800 cals a day for a month at a time so let's not act like she's doing irrepairable harm to herself.

Rather than tell her that she's wrong, let her know you'd like to help her achieve her goals in the healthiest way. There is a ton of research out there supporting PSMF for weight loss, share some of it with her. Focus on harm reduction, not having her do it your way.

Research : PSMF, Cleveland Clinic, Lyle McDonald's Rapid Fat Loss, V-Diet.

Make sure she's getting enough protein and vit/mineral support and then let her do her thing.

Edit: Lastly, she like most women I know probably has a fucked up relationship with food. Being obese, and now dieting it off in a drastic way are ways she can exert control over herself and her environment. She is likely interpreting your help as controlling, so offer her the information and if she doesn't take it, then drop the whole subject.


#6

Barb, there are people out there who are devoutly religious and others who are steadfast atheist. They go about their lives holding down good jobs, raising good kids and being all around good citizens. They have completely different approaches to life but it all works out. The reason is is it's the execution that counts. People who execute well succeed and those who don't fail. (there are atheist losers and devout losers too)

I suggest you try to help your friend execute and not fuss over the details. It doesn't look that bad to me anyway.


#7

To start off tell her to try a zero carb amino drink pre and post workout and to try MAG-10/hydro whey neither will put on an ounce of fat on her


#8

OE: Is your wife still doing the 30 banana diet?


#9

If you're really, really fat does it actually matter how low your calories get? I read a study once about a ridiculously obese man who had nothing but vitamins and water for a really long time and lost a shit load of weight and was healthier in the end. I mean for someone who is morbidly obese, until they use up a lot of that stored fat does it really matter if you starve yourself as long as you get your micronutrients and stay hydrated? What do you think that fat is being stored for in the first place? Your body doesn't start eating other shit when it has a boatload of ultra high energy fat readily available. Depending on how fat this chick started out, I don't really see why she should stop if this is working. Once she gets light enough, then obviously she'll need to adjust her strategy, but for someone who's way over the line, I've never really seen the problem with starting out pretty extreme.


#10

I agree with this. Fuck spending years working on better habits or whatever. Do a PSMF for as long as you can handle and strip the fat off that way. Fuck moderation.


#11

Yes and not executing well. (I'm not LOLing)


#12

I agree with csulli. What she's doing now is not the worst thing in the world. The best thing you can do is plant seeds for her continuing to get healthy. Tell her that you're proud of her and that she's kicking butt and then give her a link to the complex training for women article and say "this will be helpful for when your treadmill/elliptical progress slows down". Also, anything that explains calories as energy rather than evil fat producing demons.

But do it in a "I hope you find this helpful" way rather than communicating "you're doing it wrong".


#13

Agree as well. I'd be more concerned about her plans after she reaches the goal weight and her superiority complex over "meat heads". I don't see anything wrong with taking the extreme approach to dieting. The literature doesn't convince me that it is detrimental to your health in the short term. The problem is once she hits her goal weight she'll likely either go full blown anorexic after the high she's gotten from controlling her diet (one of the reasons her disdain for fitness trainers is also a concer), or she'll just revert back to old eating habits and have completely wrecked her metabolism.

It doesn't sound like she needs diet help. She needs a post diet therapy plan.

Edit: I suppose she could use some immediate help with the macro nutrient profile.


#14

I'm sorry to hear that. You mentioned it in another thread a while back and I read some links to it and other diets like it. As I'm sure you know, a lot of these diets are %90 carb, all from fruit. Very strange.


#15

This is a detail, but the first thing I thought of. As long as she's getting enough fat for proper hormone/thyroid and all that, she should be fine. This is especially true, given the seizures. Attention to protein would help as well.

To help her change her focus a bit, you could have her cut a piece of string around her waist/hips and just focus on being able to shorten that string, as opposed to looking at the scale.

Also, maybe share some info on metabolic damage. I think layne norton has a video on how cutting can actually leave you fatter (in a bbing context). Jade Teta is also some sort of naturalist or something... chicks love that crap.


#16

I've come to the conclusion my wife is a carb addict and this fruitarian nonsense allows her to indulge her addiction guilt fee.


#17

This may come as a shock. But if you went through these same issues 2 weeks ago (per the first discussion), you're probably not viewed as a subject expert in the areas she needs help with. If she doesn't view you as someone who knows so much better than she does, she's not going to listen to a word you say. Regardless of how "right" you may be.

Sorry, this isn't your fight.


#18

Thanks for the responses, plenty to think about and consider. I was definitely overbearing in the second conversation, so I'll back off and let her do her thing while I do mine and hope both eventually work out for ourselves. I don't even know if what I'm doing is working anyway, so who am I to question another's methods? :slight_smile:


#19

What is most worrisome is that you are trying to figure out the mindset of someone with an eating disorder (mental health issue), and trying to rush in as her savior.

There is plenty of information on the internet. You should know, you've found it. She has access to everything you do and whether or not she chooses to make the correct choices and implement the information is completely up to her.

It isn't your job to change her. It isn't your job to help her. It isn't your job to figure her out. If she was paying you it would be another thing, but even then becoming emotionally invested in the behavior of another person isn't the correct approach anyways.


#20

...seriously?

Being worried about a long-time friend now gets you pegged as a white knight nowadays?

No wonder everyone's an apathetic solipsist anymore if everyone gets shat on just for caring...