T Nation

Overcoming Eating Disorder

Let me preface this with this is the first time I’ve openly talked about this, but I feel it will help me move on.

I was always a fat ass (6’2" 255 at my heaviest) and despite the losing/gaining routine, I never knew the science behind what was happening to my body. Despite rigorous training years ago I never seemed to lose any fat. I was stuck around 195 and soft after a tournament and one day I just forgot about it, essentially gave up, and just started eating. I’d eat when I was hungry though out the day (usually oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, protein bar for lunch and some random snacks of nuts and things here and there) and then have a really big dinner about 3-4 times a week. Usually Chinese food; some fried rice, fried and battered entree and spring rolls. Something weird happened, I, over the course of 6-7 months lost so much weight people were shocked when I had visible abs. At my lightest I was 170. I was measured at 7-8% body fat and all was good. My new goal was adding muscle.

I made 2 mistakes at this point; one, I never understood how I lost so much fat and two, I read nutrition articles for the first time and decided to ‘clean up’ my diet. As I cleaned up my diet I ended up undereating (about 1,200 cals) and slowly added weight and fat. I stayed in the low 180’s with about 10% bodyfat for about 5 years. I attribute this to mostly being active all day and training hard for an hour 6 days a week.

Fast forward to current day. I had to move about 3 hours away from where my routine was established. I now have a desk job, only train 4 days a week and not nearly as hard as I did due to being at a different academy. I have gained about 8-10 pounds in a year, I feel soft and disappointed. My eating habits didn’t change (undereating the whole time) but to try and offset the lack of training I increased my running. The bodyfat slowly kept creeping on.

I had enough, realized I was undereating and went to a sports nutritionist and had my BMR tested via the breath meter and shockingly (I thought it would be way lower) my BMR is 2,1xx. Weird thing is I have been eating a little over half of this for years.

Now to my question, I have realized I lost all that weight because I was finally eating enough to facilitate the fat loss, and when I actually started to pay attention to calories I couldn’t believe I needed over 2,000 a day. To me, calories = fat. I’m ready to start dipping back into the single digit bodyfat percentages since that is where I felt my best physically and mentally but I’m nervous over what is going to happen next.

First, how accurate are the breath calorie readings? How should I re-introduce calories to minimize fat gain? Am I going to blow up to my 220 something pounds I weighed 5 years ago?

Sorry if this was a long, drawn out post, but like I said, this is the first time I’ve admitted to this and I think it will help me fix what has been wrong.

Don’t worry if the breath calorie reading is accurate or not. Stuff like that is designed to give you an idea, not an exact number. You’re probably best off gradually increasing your food intake instead of just suddenly jumping up.

I don’t think any of this qualifies as an eating disorder. There has to be some sort of definable neurosis, and you would have almost certainly needed professional help to get over it.

I don’t mean to say that this whole roller coaster of weight loss and gain wasn’t stressful, embarrassing, or difficult for you, but anorexics and bulimics can’t control what they do. You changed your eating habits by your own volition; you didn’t feel compelled to eat a certain way, nor do your eating habits fit well within any category as far as I can see. But by thinking about your past issues in the right way, it will help you see through them. You had an extreme lack of knowledge about diet. That’s much easier to overcome than a mental disorder.

With all that said, you are currently faced with a pretty typical problem: you don’t want to get fat. Hell, no one does. But you’ll have to gain at least some fat if you want to pack on some muscle. There are ways to avoid copious fat gain, ranging from carb/calorie backloading, intermittent fasting, not eating more than you can lift in one sitting, etc. But ultimately you’ll have to be able to comprehend and accept that you will gain SOME fat on a bulk - it’s just that if you do it right, it won’t be much.