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Confessions of a Recovering Anorexic

I learn something new about myself on a regular basis.  Something that may have worked for me in the past may not work for me now.  I have mentioned in the past that I have struggled on and off with anorexia a couple of times in my life.  There are days when I can’t fathom restricting food and then there are those tougher days when I scrutinize every morsel that crosses my lips. 

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Being a long distance runner isn’t as simple as putting on some running shoes and heading out the door.  Running long distances not only requires you to gradually introduce your body to more time on your feet, but fueling properly before, during and after the run as well.  For some people this is easy, as their stomachs easily accept whatever food travels passed the lips.  For others this is a delicate balance.  I am one of the others. 

I have been running since 2008 and with a full marathon, 7 half marathons and numerous other races under my belt, I thought I had this all figured out.  Guess what?  I was wrong.  I really began to struggle this summer when we were hit with a heat wave.  Every run exhausted me.  I had daily headaches that wouldn’t go away no matter what I did.  One day my head hurt so bad that nothing sounded good to eat and I just wanted to sleep.  I went to the store and while I was there I picked up a Gatorade because it usually makes me feel better when I am sick.  It turns out that this simple thing made me feel so much better.  Finding this out was the major key to why I had been feeling so bad. 

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Part of the reason that I had never used Gatorade in the past was the extra calories.  I know, I am doing all kinds of exercise and that shouldn’t worry me, but deep down, it did.  The G2 lower calorie version is out due to artificial sweeteners, so traditional Gatorade was it.  I have a hard time drinking my calories, unless it is wine, of course.  Not quite sure why my brain works the way it does – I can just tell you what I think.  I am going to share below some recent changes I have made that have made all the difference in the way that I feel, yet have had zero impact on my weight – the thing I was most afraid of:

1.  Adding in a glass of So Delicious Plus Protein after every workout

2.  16-24 oz of Gatorade a day, even on days off during the summer.  I alternate with water. 

3.  Honey Stingers gel during runs over 8 miles in addition to the Gatorade. 

It turns out that the way I had been doing things was actually more detrimental than helpful.  Clearly my body was trying to tell me something.  I wasn’t getting what I needed and the result was not having the energy to do much of anything else and having a killer headache, to boot!   I thought I had covered all of the bases because I was eating plenty to fuel my body and drinking more than enough water.  This just goes to show you that the brain is not always right – my thoughts were not leading me down the right path.  My body was telling me that it needed more.  More calories, more electrolytes, more hydration in another form than water.  I am just thankful that I listened. 

As I sit here and read over what I just wrote, I wonder how I could have let something so trivial as a couple hundred calories have such a profound effect on how I felt.  I went back to something that I read earlier this year and should read daily:

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10 comments to Confessions of a Recovering Anorexic

  • lcbilovesky

    Great post Kim! I know how hard of a struggle this is for you (& my sister too) & I am proud of how you approached it! I may add in more Gatorade too as I've been feeling a bit exhausted lately too. I struggle with my nutrition too!

  • Wonderful post, Kim. And you're also very welcome to join us at the July self-care retreat with other GF bloggers!! http://www.gfgoodness.com/2012/06/30/july-self-ca

  • I completely identify with this. I am still in many ways scared of calories, even ones consumed on the run. Due to this I don't think I have ever allowed myself to perform at full capacity. My goal when I get back into real running is to figure out fueling myself properly and being comfortable with it! Thanks for sharing your progress!

  • Esther

    This is great. Sometimes it’s so hard to feed yourself right when you have food restrictions. I’ve never dealt with an eating disorder but sometimes I want to give up on food. I’ve long thought it was just indifference, which I sometimes had before going gluten-free, but recently my friends pointed out that it may be because food can hurt me. Maybe I’m just fed up (no pun intended). So now I have to figure out how to care again. Thanks for reminding me that food can also make us feel wonderful!

  • MJruns

    Good post, hope you know how much you're helping others when you share with this kind of candor and honesty (some folks won't post a comment, but your words will affect them nonetheless). The scale won't tell you that either! :)

    I struggle w/ nutrition, calories, etc. too – partly b/c of gluten-free, ulcer/GERD/hernia/acid restrictions, lactose-intolerance, sensitivity to other foods and a general twitchy tummy – and partly b/c of "control issues" and self-image. Also, my weight needs to stay stable to work w/ med dosages (changes in weight of even 5% can affect). I can sympathize w/ Esther – sometimes it's exhausting just to figure out what to eat! I try to remind myself that I'd accept weighing a few pounds if it gave me better running performance, but it's tough to stay mindful.

    I'm also now wondering if I'm anemic or iron depleted due to medical conditions, medications and diet – blood test soon. Do I recall that you struggled with that also? I need to go search on your blog.

    Best to all!

  • This is a really wonderful post, Kim! You are always so open and honest, and your words mean so much to so many. Thank you for sharing!

  • [...] Plan–July 22, 2012 « Gluten-free is Life on An Amazing Sauce DiscoveryAlison Chapman on Confessions of a Recovering AnorexicMJruns on Confessions of a Recovering AnorexicEsther on Confessions of a Recovering AnorexicJill [...]

  • I love this post! Thanks, we all need these reminders from time to time :)

  • glutenfreegidget

    Great post!

  • tara

    Fabulous, Kim! So proud of you and your accomplishments!

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