Finding Freedom at Paleo F(X) 2013

Finding Freedom at Paleo F(X) 2013

Disclaimer: I wrote this post on the airplane home, coming down off of the adrenaline rush of spending some of the best four days of my life with incredible people and after not sleeping for 24 hours straight…I’ll be back with some more objective observations and science-y thoughts soon! There’s so much to say, and so little time in which to say it. I have a message for you–all of you, not just anorectics and bulimics, but friends and loved ones and orthorexics and EDNOS and HAES and anyone who has ever put their body image and their control in the hands of the media and the FDA. And here’s the thing: I don’t want this to sound like a pitch. I don’t want this to sound like melodramatic hyperbole, dripping in saccharine sentimentalities or peppered with exclamation points. I want this to be the genuine, earnest, testimonial that gives you hope and encourages you to want to free yourself from the self-imposed bondage that keeps you from living your life free from Disorder. So, with that intention in mind, here goes: Paleo saved my life. Nine months ago, I was a depressed, calorie-counting, chronically overexercising vegan. I was tired, sick, covered in acne, amenorrheic, depressed, anxious, mostly friendless, and completely without purpose. My life was my disorder; my passion was ED. Nine months ago, if you’d asked me to make a decision, to go out to dinner with a friend without checking and rejecting the menu (and, usually, the friend), to spend a single day not doing work and then not beating myself up with guilt…I wouldn’t have...

A Day in the Life of Calories In < Calories Out

A typical day of “calories in < calories out:” Wake up at 4:30 am after about 5-6 hours of sleep. Raises my ghrelin (the hunger stimulating hormone) and lowers my leptin (the satiety stimulating hormone). Lower leptin means lower endorphins.  Coffee with artificial low-fat creamer. Raises my cortisol, stimulates insulin response.  Get to the gym by 5 am. Take an hour long spin class. Physical stress of intense endurance workout raises my cortisol, artificially increases my endorphins.  Down a protein shake (dairy proteins, lactose, and artificial sugar). Stimulate insulin response with lactose and artificial sugar, irritate gut with dairy proteins.  Get to my job, which stresses me out (because I hate my job, because I have a big project on deadline, because I hate my coworkers/my boss/my direct reports, whatever). Cortisol stays raised.  Stomach starts growling at 10 am. Have a Greek yogurt with berries on the bottom. Stimulates another insulin spike, more dairy proteins for the gut. Starving by noon. Have a big salad with tofu, low-fat dressing, and a piece of whole grain bread. Snack on a banana. More gut irritation from soy (lectins and phytates and phytoestrogens, oh my!), bread (gluten, wheat germ agglutinin, etc. Another insulin spike from influx of glucose and fructose from both the low-fat dressing (added sugars to make up for the lack of fat, for taste purposes) and the banana. Promote hormone dysregulation with phytoestrogens in soy.  Start yawning around 1 pm. Desperate to stay awake. Another cup of coffee. Cortisol stays raised, body/mind still physically exhausted.  Starving again by 3 pm. Forage in purse of 100-calorie pack of cookies with...

Dirty Secrets from Eating Clean: Food Addiction, Part I

A quick disclaimer before we get into the (lean) meat and (sweet) potatoes of today’s post: I have nothing against Tosca Reno or Kennedy Publishing or the fitness industry in general. In fact, I think the Eat Clean Diet books are incredibly helpful in taking many unhealthy individuals through the painful and confusing first steps of rejecting processed foods and healing their bodies. I think that often, however, the message is muted (or mutated) when “eating clean” becomes “Cooler 1,” and unprocessed foods become meal replacement. There is a fine, fine line between counting calories for awareness versus counting calories for restriction, and, all too often, that line gets crossed. Obviously, it’s easy for an individual living with ED to take any diet recommendations too far–as I did and still struggle not to do; therefore, please keep in mind that I’m not singling out Tosca and friends–I’m just writing about my experience and the particular avenue through which I found new ways to restrict myself.  Also, for full disclosure, I still read & subscribe to Oxygen Magazine. I think it’s one of the better fitness magazines for women available today–I just take everything I read with a grain of (pink Himalayan sea) salt. EDIT: I no longer read, subscribe, or even suggest Oxygen Magazine to anyone. Ever.  Let me just start by saying that I was really not interested in starting another “diet.” I obliged my mom by doing the Whole30, but I was, by this point, sick of fads, trends, challenges, and set “end dates.” I was finally starting to open my eyes to the fact that ED’s restrictions were…well,...

Acne and ED, Interlude: You Are What You Don’t Eat

 If you want to read the whole series in order, start here:  Acne and ED, Part I: How Vegan Began Acne and ED, Part II: The Never Ending Detox Acne and ED, Part III: Un-Becoming Vegan And so here I was, at a crossroads. I had committed to being a vegan. I wanted nothing to do with meat. And yet I was broken down mentally and metabolically. Worse, I was doing nothing but accumulating scars on the most visible part of my body. I agreed to at least indulge my mom in exploring another way of eating. As I mentioned before, my mom is into Crossfit. And the people at her gym introduced her to a way of eating called the “Paleo Diet.” She was convinced that if only I started eating bacon, I’d be cured. I did not harbor such preconceptions when I suspiciously opened up Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint and started reading. And I read the Primal Blueprint with a serious amount of skepticism. It basically told me that the lifestyle I’d been living and the diet I was following was completely wrong: my high-carb, low-fat, moderate-to-as-high-as-I-could-get-with-hemp-powder-and-brown-rice protein diet ran directly against the Primal Blueprint’s guidelines. Moreover, my sleep and exercise were, according to Mark Sisson, completely off-base and out of rhythm with my body. I finished the book in one night, and went to sleep with my brow furrowed. I wasn’t convinced. After all, everything I’d read since becoming vegan said the opposite. How could eating meat be good for me? Weren’t egg yolks the reason for heart disease? What about the China Study?!* It wasn’t...

Arguing Semantics With Myself: What Shape Did You Mean?

There’s something I’ve been struggling with lately–struggling to live with and struggling to put into words.   It wasn’t until I started reading Caroline Knapp’s Appetite: Why Women Want that I started to formulate a way to express it:   She writes: “[a]ppetites for sex, for beautiful things, for physical pleasure–all of these can be baffling, and all of them can leave a woman confused about the most ordinary daily decisions. Are you eating that second helping because you’re hungry or because you’re sad? If you work out for an extra thirty minutes, are you heeding the call of health and well-being or engaging in a bout of self-punishment?[…] Where are the lines between satisfaction and excess, between restraint and indulgence, between pleasure and self-destruction? And why are they so hard to find…?”   I’ve been trying to navigate the borderline of the narrow crevasse between pleasure and self-destruction, and it is a particularly fraught balancing act because I am so invested in health and nutrition from an aspiration-ally professional perspective.   When I posted a picture of my National Academy of Sports Medicine personal trainer recertification on instagram, I had at least two people ask me if wanting to be a personal trainer was a good idea for someone like me. I’ve had multiple people ask if this blog isn’t just another way of trying to justify disordered behavior, as well as if my current way of eating isn’t just as restrictive or disordered as any I’ve tried before.   As friends, family, and concerned licensed mental health professionals, they’re not wrong to ask those questions. But I...