Mandie: I remember joining weight watchers during the summer between 5th and 6th grade. I always “wanted” to be healthy and fit. I honestly never knew how to accomplish that goal without severe restriction. I have been on this journey my entire life, the struggle has been very real.
How long have I been on the journey of eating more and moving more? I started that journey a few years ago. I was very unsure if it would really work. I approached it like any other diet at first because I honestly didn’t expect much to happen from it. Well, I guess I expected to lose a little weight and then gain a little weight because that seemed to be my life long pattern.
E: When did you first learn that you needed to eat more to reach your goals? What was your original response?
M: A couple of years ago I was going to a local gym where I was being taught to cardio my body into debilitation. I was participating in 30 day smoothie challenges, burpee challenges, plank challenges. I was working my body into injury and pain. The gym, of course, followed this type of pattern in their nutritional advice, (out of their scope of practice) so I was going on very few calories. I lost a little weight, but this formula for destruction wasn’t anything that I could do long term. It was still the restrict-binge cycle that I had always known. I was getting hurt constantly. I knew very little about how this all worked at the time. All I knew was eat as little as possible and move as much as I could. After an injury that put me out of the gym I started researching. I was tired. I was in pain. I was hungry. I wanted something more for my life. I started doing some research on how to rehab my injury. I started looking into how the body worked and studying how this magical thing called weight loss happens.
What I found blew my mind. I discovered this amazing thing called a total daily energy expenditure
(TDEE). This was the amount of calories I burned in a day (I had never really considered how many I burned in a day). I was eating around 1100 calories but was burning around 2500-3000 calories per day. I discovered that if I was in a coma the doctors would feed my around 1600 calories through a feeding tube.
THIS blew my mind! How could I call myself healthy if I was eating less during my very busy life than a doctor would feed me in a coma. I, like most people, have been lied to by our culture that a woman eating anything over 1500 calories would gain weight at a rapid pace. Women believe this lie because we “think” we see this happening but what we really see is a perpetual cycle of starve-binge. We go on this crazy diets of 1200 calories and lose some weight, but somewhere along the way our bodies kick into survival mode and we start eating. We eat large amounts of calories trying to make up for our starvation time. We end up gaining our weight back and giving up… until we look in the mirror and decide we hate ourselves again and start the cycle all over.
I decided to start trying to eat more consistent calories. I started this while trying to rehab a back injury so my start was scary. I gained approx. 13 lbs.. I was not able to do much moving at the time. I look back and giggle because basically I was just “eating more”. I backed off after several months and just ate at my TDEE for a very long time. I have to say though, allowing myself to just eat without the guilt and shame that I usually felt was a welcomed break. Along the way my back finally allowed me to start in on the weights and that is when great things started happening. I finally saw the promised land. I KNEW this was going to work. I KNEW I could do this forever. Eat. Lift. Repeat. YES PLEASE!
Somewhere during the process I also stopped looking at my body as “how small can I get” and I
started thinking “how awesome can I become in my performance”. I can not express how much that small mental switch has altered my life for the better.
E: How did others around you act about your decision to discard the usual low cal methods for weight loss?
M: I am actually laughing as I read this question. Everybody thought I was insane. I was told “you can’t have your cake and eat it too”. To that comment I now say.. “Actually I can”..
E: How did your body react to the initial increase in cals?
M: For women in our society we are taught to be hungry. We are taught it is a virtue to allow yourself starvation. I was no different. I had been on diets my entire life along with binge eating issues. I had been diagnosed in 2005 with anorexia. I had been on the pendulum of torture FOREVER. My body welcomed the break. I found it interesting that all it took was a shift in my mental status for me to be able to eat. I gained the approx. 13 lbs. before I decided to track and eat at my TDEE. My goal was obviously not to gain weight.
E: Did your family notice or comment on any changes once you upped your calories for a period of time?
M: My husband was my biggest supporter. I think if my body had never changed he would have still
kept encouraging this lifestyle for me. Mentally I was at the best place I had ever been. Learning to accept myself enough to allow food in my life, even though I wasn’t at our cultures deemed size. That is a victory for most women. He loved my new found confidence and self worth. There were a few time that I would question myself and he would state very passionately to me “Eat The Food. Lift The Things.” <swoon>
He’s pretty great.
E: Can you describe your typical workout schedule prior to you learning to nourish your body and today?
M: I am laughing again. Oh the torture. I always believed that working out was suppose to be painful. I had that crazy belief that throwing up meant something good. I have done many different workout schedules but they were always inconsistent. I remember several times starting off on my bike for a good ride and having to turn around and come home because I was dizzy. I thought that was normal. I should have just grabbed a snickers.
I also remember the lowest point for me was around the time I was diagnosed with anorexia, I had made a decision to not workout because it caused me to get hungry. This makes me so sad now.
My workout schedule ran with how many calories I was allowing in my body because that determined if I got dizzy or blacked out. I didn’t want to eat enough to get through a full workout.. That would make me fat or fatter, depending on what season of life it was.
M: Put yourself on the list. I wake up in the mornings and mentally go over my day, it is my informal to-do list. I make sure I am on that list. When I go buy groceries I no longer just ask my kids and husband what they would like. I buy the things I love to eat too. I put it in the budget. I am now worth being in our grocery budget. Crazy thing happened when I started buying healthier food. My kids started eating it.
I talk to a lot of moms who don’t have time for fitness or nutrition, or so they say. People think I am
crazy (or horrible) when I ask them “what if your child only did 2 activities instead of 4.” So that they can have a mother who gets to workout and focus a little time on her. There really is only so much time in a day and it is up to us to organize our lives in such a way that we are on the list of things to do for our families.
I do not think mothers see how important their own health is to their family. We are teaching our
children how to eat, how to move and how to treat themselves by our actions. When I realized that… it was huge to me.
E: What is the best way for our the EM2WL fam to get in touch or follow your journey ?
M: I usually hang out in my little community on Facebook called Women Are Hungry. Like most people I love to put my food and sweaty workout pictures up on Instagram so you will find me there as well. I love talking to to women about all things fitness, body image and habit changes so please feel free to hit me up!
I talk to so many women who are afraid to eat. I think when women realize that eating consistent
calories is so much better than the diet cycle:
Day 1. fat and I need to lose weight
Day 2. I will eat only 1100 calories.
Day 3. I am awesome.
Day 4. I am hungry but will make it.
Day 5. I will just eat a little extra today
Day 6. WHERE IS THE FOOD.
Day 7. Eat ALL the food. Screw it.
The thing I find the most insane about this journey is that I haven’t gained any weight in over a year. I have spent my life gaining weight ( and losing and gaining and losing). I feel in control. I spent many years thinking weight loss was magic. It isn’t magic it’s science. I still have fat to shed and muscle to gain, but the great part about that is I know how to do it. I am no longer
on a time frame with my fitness and nutrition. It is just what I do. I no longer have an end
date. I don’t have a perfect body. I don’t have 12% body fat, however my imperfect body is
exactly where I want it to be right now.
Slow and steady is where long term success happens.