So since I was asked a few days ago about my experience of utilizing IIFYM and strength training to combat anorexia, I felt that it was only necessary to blog about it as well, in the hopes that it gives some insight to others of the advantages and disadvantages of doing so. So here it goes.
If you have followed me on Instagram or been to my other blog, you may have noticed that I have struggled with anorexia for countless amounts of years. I’ve been through inpatient twice (both less than a year apart), and have also been through countless outpatient visits with dietitians, therapists, and doctors. Although this treatment was meant to help me, I found it to be anything but helpful due to hospital regulations which confined me in regards to the food and exercise. Having rules which banned chicken with ketchup, chicken on sandwiches, two cold meals per day (along with many others) and banning exercise completely resulted in more engrained fears. These experiences led to fears about which meals I could have that were “healthy” and/or normal, and also deepened the fears about certain foods, as I never got to see that I could maintain my weight while having them. So to put it simply, although these programs did stabilize my vitals, they led to an even worse relationship of food and exercise that never allowed me to live my life as I should have. And even though I eventually returned to college, and managed to graduate, these experiences were not as I had wanted them to be.
Before I go on about IIFYM and strength training though, I feel that its necessary to paint a picture of my college experience and to show that no matter how low you may fall, that there is always another opportunity to pick yourself up by doing something out of the ordinary. So back to the story…
During the time in which I took my first medical leave in freshman year, to the time in which I got out of my second inpatient stay, I struggled. During this time, my unhealthy relationship with food and exercise along with the lack of stability in my life due to my parent’s divorce, led me to isolate. I could probably count on my one hand how many times I was actually “allowed” to eat out with my friends, and actually eat. For the most part, I ate by myself in the dorm, eating foods that my mom had brought me, and then became anxious-ridden when I felt as though it were too much or too little. I worried whether I was eating enough to “fuel” my brain for my tests, and/or my daily walks in the negative degree weather. To put it simply, I lived in fear of the repercussions associated with food and exercise.
Given this experience along with the fact of being home with a stay-at-home alcoholic was enough to keep me at home for another year before returning back to a local college. (To think about the experiences I’ve had at this time still make me cringe, as I still imagine getting knocked into walls, threats to kill my dog, and the food being labelled as a way to show everyone what they deserved.) What happened happened, but still a necessary part, as it also resulted in a more unhealthy relationship with the food and with trusting people than would have been had I not been in this situation.
Now from this point on, it was pretty much the same in terms of just dealing with the food in order to live. I returned back to college and did okay…just managing to eat xx amount of calories and do this much exercise just to remain relatively stable. I did not go out with friends often, and when I did, I worried with the food, with the exercise, and even with passing out. Overtime I went out with them, I would be astounded by their relationship with food and the fact that they could enjoy themselves while eating something out of hunger and preferences rather than just calories.
So I think by now you may have gotten the gist of how unhealthy my relationship with food and exercise has been, so now to the part of IIFYM and strength training (as I don’t feel that its necessary to go through my next medical leave due to wisdom teeth).
So you may be wondering how IIFYM and strength training found me, but in all reality I found it a year before starting when I opened Instagram on my iPhone a year prior to graduation. I noticed all these women (sorry guys) who seemed to have the flexibility which I wanted around food and also have the abs I desperately wanted as well. Some of them came from disordered eating and some of them did not, but all of them seemed to have used something called If It Fits Your Macros along with strength training to achieve both the flexibility and body composition they had desired. It took me a year of noticing these women to actually try it out for myself. At the time I had made my decision, I had also been rejected from typical outpatient treatments due to a variety of factors including my weight. (Even though I was doing what I could on my own, and did increase my food, my weight dropped due to a speedy metabolism.)
At first, it was intimidating to have to think about hitting a certain amount of carbs, proteins, and fats, especially given my history of fat-restriction. I was worried about how it would change the way in which I would look and also questioning of the amount in which I was told. Lack of trust and inability to know the outcome of IIFYM and strength training led me to partially do this process for quite a while. And actually lose weight while doing so.