Ever heard the term orthorexia? I hadn’t until about a year ago and it was at that very time I realised I was having a bit of a problem with the disorder myself.
So lately I’ve been confiding to you all about my recent weight gain and that it has been upsetting me as I’m having a pretty hard time losing it. Would you believe that a year go around this time, I was trying my very hardest to gain weight. Crazy how time can change things huh?
It all started in early January 2012. I was on break from school and work and woke up one morning with a terrible stomach bug. It was particularly nasty, but fortunately only lasted a few days. On the 3rd or 4th day, I was able to reintroduce solid food again. And so as not to upset my stomach again, I did so very slowly and with nice, calming foods like vegetable broth, plain rice and steamed vegetables. Leading up to this point, I had been stressed with things going on in my life and I dealt with this by overeating. I had started gaining weight and was uncomfortable (though, now that I look back at it, it was hardly any weight at all – barely noticeable). Here’s a picture of me at Christmas, when I thought I was getting too big:
so now that my stomach couldn’t handle much food at a time, I thought this would be the perfect time to relearn eating proper portions. But it can be easy to take it too far. I found it fun to challenge myself to cut down all of the foods I had been having a hard time cutting down on before (like chips and chocolate, but also things like too many whole grains and too much fruit). I tried focusing on eating primarily raw and whole foods (in the middle of winter – in Canada!). That in itself is not a bad thing, but I drastically cut the amount of food I was eating and was basically just trying to eat “clean” 100% of the time. I would avoid going out for meals as I knew restaurants put a lot of oil and salt in their already fatty foods. This even helped justify cutting back my hours at the restaurant I was working at to avoid eating the meal we were encouraged to eat together Mondays and I started packing my own dinner instead of having the free meal per shift we were allowed. I started exercising more and became very lean, too lean. I was extremely focused on lowering my body fat percentage and increasing my muscle mass. It was easy to do considering how much effort I put into eating properly.
Now I tend to be one of those “all or nothing” people. It can be very frustrating sometimes! And at this point in my life, I had just finished my certification as a fitness instructor and was in school to become a holistic nutritionist. I took this to heart and wanted to play the part of both, and I thought I had to look a certain way (super slim with a bit of muscle). But it wasn’t long before people started commenting on my weight loss. I brushed it off by saying I had had a stomach bug and was trying to gain the weight back. But I even had people I didn’t even really know, were coming up to me and telling me I looked too thin. And I remember one day, my friend had asked me to go to hot yoga. We had done that just a couple of months before and I had word\n a tank top and slim fitting yoga pants (that were a little tight at the time), and this time I was wearing shorts and a tank top. She looked at me, startled, but recovered by saying how great I looked, very lean. She was trying to be nice, but I know now she just wasn’t sure to say to me. How do you tell someone you think they’re too thin when you know they have a history of eating disorders? It’s awkward. Here’s a picture of me from around that time:
Now, you can only see the top part of me. Looks like there are no other pictures of me from this time. But I went from a C cup to an A cup. All of my clothes were too big and I kind of look like a lollipop. My weight had been consistently between 128-138 and hovering around 133-135 most of the time (lower in the summer, higher in the winter)… but it had dwindled to just below 120.
I finally started seeing a Naturopath as everyone was concerned about my weight. She gently encouraged me to eat more nutbutters, eat more cooked foods, add a bit of cacao to my oatmeal and to load up on coconut and avocados. She never mentioned orthorexia (a serious preoccupation with avoiding foods deemed unhealthy), but I think this was my problem to a certain extent at least.
So now, here I am, having gained 20 pounds since I’ve moved here (20 pounds above my average weight range) and I can admit to overindulging and overeating and I am trying to get things back on track. I would love to just find that healthy balance and not go to extremes. The Healthy Challenge is going fairly well. I have managed to lose 7 pounds (13 to go!), but I have made it so I do not have super strict rules, I’m just trying to eat less junk in general. I have to admit though, some of the things I liked from last year was the shiny hair, glowing skin, clear and bright eyes and NO mood swings. I was able to wake up without an alarm clock and had energy much of the day. I know it is best to eat similar to this, but I prefer to adopt the 80-20 rule, where 80% of the time, I eat really well and have the foods I really enjoy (like chips and chocolate) only 20% of the time. I will continue to strive for this.
The takeaway though, is to not be too hard on yourself when you are not exactly where you want to be. We are normally our own worst critic and may not even be happy if we achieve our goals as we may find more things to pick at about ourselves. Love your body. Love it just the way it is =)