For my new readers - my name is Kelli and I am Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist as well as a Personal Trainer. I want to start by telling you all how I became a diet culture dropout.
Rewind to summer of 2012 after competing in 5 bikini competitions over a season. I was working out hours a day and eating only fish, chicken, broccoli and asparagus with the occasional teaspoon of peanut butter or 1/4 cup of oatmeal. It got as low as ~700 calories per day based off the program that a "coach" wrote for me. I was starving, constantly exhausted and for a long time it worked. I reached my lowest weight since high school, 107 lbs (at 5'6") which was my stage weight and I attempted to maintain this for 3 shows over the period of about 7 weeks.
One morning I woke up for fasted cardio & felt like I couldn't move. My entire body hurt & I was out of breath by 10 minutes in, completely abnormal considering I had been doing 2-3 hours of cardio a day. No matter what I did, I began to feel worse & worse over the next few days.
I knew I needed to eat more food, so ignoring the instructions of my coach, I increased my daily calories from about 750 to 1000 calories but continued all my usual workouts. I began to gain weight at a rate I had never experienced which caused me to panic. I began to try to fight through the fatigue & workout more to combat the weight gain.
This increased my hunger and my body had been starving for months. I realized that I needed to begin consuming a normal amount of calories to stop my body from shutting down. What I didn't realize was how difficult that would be.
I began to cycle through days of eating very low calorie and working out hours to make up for the occasional day when I couldn't take it anymore - I was so hungry I would end up bingeing on anything and everything. Of course this didn't help the weight gain I was experiencing.
Our bodies are designed to outsmart us - they have many different ways of getting us to eat what we need. Being that I restricted so many foods for so long, the bingeing was almost unbearable. For 2 months I was not able to normalize my eating. I would have days of eating 1200-1400 calories a day and days full of bingeing & guilt that may have been 4000-5000 calories a day.
In the end, my weight was 169 lbs or a gain of 62 lbs in about 8 weeks. I had no idea how to regain my "normal". This is when I entered eating disorder treatment and was introduced to the concept of intuitive eating, or using our natural hunger and fullness cues to regulate our bodies. After treatment I took an intensive, twice weekly small group intuitive eating training.
This training changed my life and was the last piece in convincing me to go back to school to become a Registered Dietitian. I realized that I did not need to count calories, eat low carb, eat tons of protein or spend hours in the gym in order to maintain my usual natural weight of 130-140 lbs.
Being introduced to hunger and fullness cues blew my mind and has forever changed how I eat. I eat what I want and what I enjoy and balance it with enjoyable, short workouts that help me feel my best. My weight decreased comfortably over time with no dieting necessary.
Top 3 Lessons I learned:
Be careful who you trust!!!! If you are being prescribed nutrition or meal plans, you should work with a registered dietitian. Not everyone has the education and expertise to safely guide you to your nutrition goals.
L i s t e n to your gut. As trainer, I knew my calories were too low for the amount of working out that I was doing and I knew the answers I received from my coach regarding this weren't good enough.
Always remember that b a l a n c e is key in anything you do in life. When it comes to food, moderation or being intuitive will always win over a diet.
Intuitive eating will change your life and offer you great freedom when you choose to embrace it. If you want to learn more about intuitive eating and how to ditch the diet mentality, feel free to get in touch with me.