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This is my story and how I plan on recovering from chronic undereating:

xxzenabxxxxzenabxx Member Posts: 729 Member Member Posts: 729 Member

Disclaimer- if you have anything horrible or condescending to say then please click away. Only kind words are welcome please. I want to reach out to as many people as I can so we can all support each other. If you’re genuinely interested in reading my story then continue below:

Most people wake up and go about their day, doing their chores with the odd thought about food. For me, it was the opposite because food was pretty much all I thought about. One night I was laying in bed a couple of weeks ago, when I had sudden palpitations and my heart began pounding in my chest. I thought I was going to die or have a heart attack. I scrambled out of bed and ate a Nakd bar in the middle of the night. I thought to myself for a second- do I really want to live like this? Unfortunately, my desire to be thinner overrode my desire for better health because as soon as I woke up the following morning I promised myself I would be stricter on my diet and I would be good all week. This was a daily occurrence for me. Infact I can’t recall a single day for the past 17 years where I haven’t thought about my weight, dieting or how skinny I wished I was.

I’m a prime example of a chronic dieter/ yo-yo dieter. You see, most people maintain/overeat and then go on a diet. For me it’s the opposite- I’ve always been on a diet and sometimes I go into maintenance for a day or a week or two (and even that was only starting this year when I learned about the benefits of diet breaks). In the past, I spent the ages of 10-18 crash dieting so I missed out on key nutrients during my growing age, thus causing my academic performance to suffer considerably as well as my physical health. I also barely slept (that’s another story). Chronic under-eating plus lack of sleep in my school years destroyed me. Even to this day.

Long story cut short- I’m fed up. I’m just longing to feel normal for the first time in years. I run an online business and I get orders on request for clothes. I remember waking up last week and I could barely get out of bed. There was a customer’s order due for that week and I had zero energy. This was even affecting my daily life and work. I thought to myself Its time to go into maintenance for a week or two. But that’s the problem- I’d go into maintenance, feel better and then jump right back in a deficit. I’ve been in a deficit, a rather extreme deficit for what seems like forever. Only recently- this year to be precise- have I adopted to go slower and stick to a smaller 250-300 calorie deficit. Unfortunately - even though I did lose some weight using the slow route - the nagging symptoms would never go away. They would always be tugging at me like a child who constantly seeks attention. These symptoms were as follows: cold hands and feet, dry skin, weakened immune system, mood swings, depression, brain fog, anxiety, extreme food cravings, thin brittle hair, weak nails, constipation, fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain, palpitations, pale skin, lack of motivation/desire to do things.

The good news is that since December 2019, I’ve gone on diet breaks and have had periods of maintenance so I’m much better this year. But again, as I mentioned before, that’s the problem- when I go back into a deficit the symptoms start to creep back after 2 weeks. It’s like my body is crying and screaming feed me like a normal person and I’m just ignoring it. Not anymore though. I’ve finally made the conscious decision to eat normally at maintenance for the next six months. Minimum. Oh my I haven’t done this for so many years! I’m so excited and nervous! I would be lying if I said that even now I wished I weighed 130 lbs and I wished I was skinnier. But I’m trying not to let these thoughts rule my life anymore and I’m going to accept myself at 150 lbs. I’m going to rule my own life and my own happiness! I’m 27, which is still young and I’ve got my whole life ahead of me. I can still recover from this. I just want to feel alive again, not like a corpse dragging myself everywhere. I want to wake up with energy and enthusiasm. I want my hair back. I want my life back. I really want to do this. I’m putting this out there because I want to share my story and give hope to anyone else in a similar situation. You can do this! I will be joining the maintenance forums.

What I will need advice on is how many calories I can eat. I workout 5 days a week doing a mixture of 3 fullbody workouts, yoga, Pilates and walking 10000 steps a day. Im also active in my work being a designer. My stats are F, age 27, 5’ 4” and 150/151 lbs so I feel that 2600 calories is a good starting point? I’m already getting full at 1900/2000 calories so should I gradually increase every week? I don’t want to stop exercise because it really damages my mental health whenever I stop exercising. My main aim is heal my body and my hormones by eating at the correct calorie intake for a long period of time.

Replies

  • Dante_80Dante_80 Member Posts: 98 Member Member Posts: 98 Member
    If you are getting full at 2000kcal per day, keep that number and temper - not stop, temper - your exercise levels. You cannot outrun your nutrition, and the level that you are exercising on currently can actually be detrimental to your overall weight management, AND your mental state.

    Take a look at this. It may help - and have in mind that this applies to people in maintenance too (when they predominantly exercise for weight keeping reasons).
    The science is in: exercise won’t help you lose much weight
    edited September 28
  • xxzenabxxxxzenabxx Member Posts: 729 Member Member Posts: 729 Member
    Dante_80 wrote: »
    If you are getting full at 2000kcal per day, keep that number and temper - not stop, temper - your exercise levels. You cannot outrun your nutrition, and the level that you are exercising on currently can actually be detrimental to your overall weight management, AND your mental state.

    Take a look at this. It may help - and have in mind that this applies to people in maintenance too (when they predominantly exercise for weight keeping reasons).
    The science is in: exercise won’t help you lose much weight

    I fully understand where you’re coming from but I’m not exercising for my weight...I used to do 5 workouts per week now it’s just three. I have already cut out the vigorous HIIT workouts. Yoga, Pilates and walking are just ways for me to feel better and add gentle movement into my day. Maybe some days I’ll just reach 5000 steps a day (especially with this horrible U.K. weather!). I definitely know that my maintenance is higher than 2000 because I’ve calculated that for months. I want to gradually add calories back in because I’m still tired. That’s how I know that I need to eat more. I’m guessing that my maintenance calories will be between 2400-2600 because of my work as well. I just need a lot of food I guess.
  • Dante_80Dante_80 Member Posts: 98 Member Member Posts: 98 Member
    xxzenabxx wrote: »
    I fully understand where you’re coming from but I’m not exercising for my weight...I used to do 5 workouts per week now it’s just three. I have already cut out the vigorous HIIT workouts. Yoga, Pilates and walking are just ways for me to feel better and add gentle movement into my day. Maybe some days I’ll just reach 5000 steps a day (especially with this horrible U.K. weather!). I definitely know that my maintenance is higher than 2000 because I’ve calculated that for months. I want to gradually add calories back in because I’m still tired. That’s how I know that I need to eat more. I’m guessing that my maintenance calories will be between 2400-2600 because of my work as well. I just need a lot of food I guess.

    Don't get me wrong, I think that you know your own body more than anyone else can. It's just that a subset of what you are saying is contradictory. If - as you said - with your current nutrition you feel full and satiated, then it is not easy to blame low food intake for the fact that you feel tired.

    What you have to check out is whether your physical activity level (exercise combined with work) is to blame. In other words, you have to test if you are simply overstressing your body. And if you are, adjust your habits accordingly.

    Hope that helps, just some feedback here.
  • xxzenabxxxxzenabxx Member Posts: 729 Member Member Posts: 729 Member
    Dante_80 wrote: »
    xxzenabxx wrote: »
    I fully understand where you’re coming from but I’m not exercising for my weight...I used to do 5 workouts per week now it’s just three. I have already cut out the vigorous HIIT workouts. Yoga, Pilates and walking are just ways for me to feel better and add gentle movement into my day. Maybe some days I’ll just reach 5000 steps a day (especially with this horrible U.K. weather!). I definitely know that my maintenance is higher than 2000 because I’ve calculated that for months. I want to gradually add calories back in because I’m still tired. That’s how I know that I need to eat more. I’m guessing that my maintenance calories will be between 2400-2600 because of my work as well. I just need a lot of food I guess.

    Don't get me wrong, I think that you know your own body more than anyone else can. It's just that a subset of what you are saying is contradictory. If - as you said - with your current nutrition you feel full and satiated, then it is not easy to blame low food intake for the fact that you feel tired.

    What you have to check out is whether your physical activity level (exercise combined with work) is to blame. In other words, you have to test if you are simply overstressing your body. And if you are, adjust your habits accordingly.

    Hope that helps, just some feedback here.

    Oh okay I see where you’re coming from. Thank you for the feedback. I have cut down on intense exercise and if need be then I will cut down further after a few weeks If I don’t feel any better. My energy might pick up as I increase calories (which is what normally happens in the past) so I’ll just have to wait and see. Exercise isn’t my main issue, it’s the chronic dieting/undereating that is the issue.
  • SummerSkierSummerSkier Member, Premium Posts: 1,692 Member Member, Premium Posts: 1,692 Member
    Hi xxzen, I read your story and I am impressed that you are wanting to take action to change your life and not be so food driven 100% of the time. You are correct. You are young and this is a great idea to just eat at maintenance. I have run your #s thru a few calculators and it looks like 2000 calories is about correct to maintain 150 pounds 5'4".

    The problem is WHY are you so tired? Eating more may not be the answer. Can you take a look at what you are eating? Perhaps you are not getting enough nutrition to support your lifestyle even tho you are eating the correct amount? Your symptoms also sound like they could be a health issue of some sort? So have you ruled that out with bloodwork/annual dr exams I hope?

    I am in full support of you choosing a single calorie amount and just using that for a month to see how it works.

    Hope this is helpful to you. Being too tired to even get out of bed just is awful.. Many hugs.... and cheers!

    1hvynn5hu89a.png
  • charmmethcharmmeth Member Posts: 541 Member Member Posts: 541 Member
    Apart from trying to keep your calories up, have you had some basic checks done, like iron and vitamin D levels? (Tricky at present I know!) It might be worth asking your GP what is possible.
    I wonder if you enjoy your food when you eat it?
  • xxzenabxxxxzenabxx Member Posts: 729 Member Member Posts: 729 Member
    Hi xxzen, I read your story and I am impressed that you are wanting to take action to change your life and not be so food driven 100% of the time. You are correct. You are young and this is a great idea to just eat at maintenance. I have run your #s thru a few calculators and it looks like 2000 calories is about correct to maintain 150 pounds 5'4".

    The problem is WHY are you so tired? Eating more may not be the answer. Can you take a look at what you are eating? Perhaps you are not getting enough nutrition to support your lifestyle even tho you are eating the correct amount? Your symptoms also sound like they could be a health issue of some sort? So have you ruled that out with bloodwork/annual dr exams I hope?

    I am in full support of you choosing a single calorie amount and just using that for a month to see how it works.

    Hope this is helpful to you. Being too tired to even get out of bed just is awful.. Many hugs.... and cheers!

    1hvynn5hu89a.png

    Thank you so much for taking the time out to read my story! 2000 is still too low for me because I actually ran a cut/deficit for 8 weeks whilst eating 2000 calories (on average) and I lost 4 lbs even though some of the times I was guesstimating. That would mean that my TDEE at the time was roughly 2250/2350 WITH my fatigue. Imagine what my TDEE would’ve been had I not had any fatigue? That’s why I’m guessing 2400ish. Or even more. I’m just trying to imagine myself at full capacity! Who knows. I’m happy that I have data because it will help me in this process. Otherwise it would be like finding a needle in a haystack. Well chronic undereating does down regulate thyroid and leptin hormones (I’ve been dieting on low calories for soooooo long) but I’m sure it will all be running smoothly once I’m healed in these six months. I eat a very nutritious and balanced diet of protein, veggies, healthy fats, carbs such as whole grains, fruit, nuts seeds and even small amounts of diary. I don’t deprive myself anymore like I did in the past.
  • xxzenabxxxxzenabxx Member Posts: 729 Member Member Posts: 729 Member
    charmmeth wrote: »
    Apart from trying to keep your calories up, have you had some basic checks done, like iron and vitamin D levels? (Tricky at present I know!) It might be worth asking your GP what is possible.
    I wonder if you enjoy your food when you eat it?

    Yes I suspect my iron is low so I’m upping the red meat. Vitamin D is fine and I supplement with that. I eat a very nutritious diet but I just need to eat more of it. I’ve done research on this. I currently feel like my situation is similar to, although not as bad as Stephanie Buttermore right now.
  • pismodiverpismodiver Member Posts: 206 Member Member Posts: 206 Member
    Congratulations, OP, it sounds like you are on the right track mentally.
    I strongly second the suggestion that you see your physician for at least a basic workup. Your symptoms sound a lot like those of hypothyroidism.
    Another thing you might want to research is something called Reverse Dieting. (It is controversial, so I'll probably get a couple disagrees for this!) The idea is to gradually increase your intake in an effort to renormalize any adaptive thermogenesis you may have developed. Again, not saying this is right for you, but possibly worth considering. (Layne Norton & Holly Baxter have quite a few YT videos on the topic.)

    Be kind to yourself. Best of luck to you!
    edited September 28
  • xxzenabxxxxzenabxx Member Posts: 729 Member Member Posts: 729 Member
    pismodiver wrote: »
    Congratulations, OP, it sounds like you are on the right track mentally.
    I strongly second the suggestion that you see your physician for at least a basic workup. Your symptoms sound a lot like those of hypothyroidism.
    Another thing you might want to research is something called Reverse Dieting. (It is controversial, so I'll probably get a couple disagrees for this!) The idea is to gradually increase your intake in an effort to renormalize any adaptive thermogenesis you may have developed. Again, not saying this is right for you, but possibly worth considering. (Layne Norton & Holly Baxter have quite a few YT videos on the topic.)

    Be kind to yourself. Best of luck to you!

    Im 100% sure I don’t have hypothyroidism because the symptoms disappear/improve when I eat more plus it doesn’t run in my family but thank you for your concern. The symptoms are very similar and I can definitely agree that my thyroid hormones have down regulated due to the chronic dieting etc but it will be fine once I’m healed. Sadly GPs in the U.K. are not going to take me seriously during these Covid days and I have seen how my other relatives have been treated. The NHS is definitely under a lot of pressure. If my symptoms persist after 6 weeks of healing/maintenance then I will definitely visit my GP.
    Reverse dieting is also something I’ve been researching. I watched Jeff Nippards video on it and I think that’s kind of what I want to do. Oh I will also check out Layne Norton etc then. I love these sort of videos. I’ve also been watching Natacha Oceane and Stephanie Buttermore. I’m going to start adding 100 calories back to my diet per week.
    My end goals for this year are to grow some of my hair back, wake up in the morning with energy, basically just get my life back. I just don’t want to diet anymore. Not for the next few months anyway. Luckily I look like I weigh 135 lbs anyway because I have more muscle and less fat. I would like to lose another 15 lbs in the future some time, but I might accidentally lose fat during maintenance and like how I look 🤷🏻‍♀️ Only time will tell. This is hard and even now I’m tempted to diet but I keep reminding myself about my hair growing back and that is a good enough reason to do this. This has gone 17 years too far.
  • kgirlhartkgirlhart Member Posts: 3,882 Member Member Posts: 3,882 Member
    In addition to the good advice you have already received, I would also suggest that you get not only your iron levels checked, but your B-12 levels checked too. And you don't really mention your sleep. It may seem like a silly question, but are you sleeping enough?
  • heybalesheybales Member Posts: 18,071 Member Member Posts: 18,071 Member
    Just to be clear, that is 100 extra calories daily for a week at a time, right?

    For the reverse diet to attempt to raise TDEE up to where it may be.

    Which also means the diet breaks may not have been a true break.
    If you gained 1-2 lbs of water weight during that week - good indication it was.
    If you gained nothing, you were still probably in a deficit enough to balance out some water weight gain.

    What device is telling you about the 10k steps?
  • xxzenabxxxxzenabxx Member Posts: 729 Member Member Posts: 729 Member
    kgirlhart wrote: »
    In addition to the good advice you have already received, I would also suggest that you get not only your iron levels checked, but your B-12 levels checked too. And you don't really mention your sleep. It may seem like a silly question, but are you sleeping enough?

    You’re right, sleep is something I should consider. I’m sleeping later than my body likes. I end up sleeping at 12.30-1am when I should be sleeping at 11pm. That’s another thing I need to work on!
  • xxzenabxxxxzenabxx Member Posts: 729 Member Member Posts: 729 Member
    heybales wrote: »
    Just to be clear, that is 100 extra calories daily for a week at a time, right?

    For the reverse diet to attempt to raise TDEE up to where it may be.

    Which also means the diet breaks may not have been a true break.
    If you gained 1-2 lbs of water weight during that week - good indication it was.
    If you gained nothing, you were still probably in a deficit enough to balance out some water weight gain.

    What device is telling you about the 10k steps?

    My phone has apple health on it. Sometimes I gained a 1-2lbs but other times I didn’t and weight stayed the same.
  • xxzenabxxxxzenabxx Member Posts: 729 Member Member Posts: 729 Member
    heybales wrote: »
    Just to be clear, that is 100 extra calories daily for a week at a time, right?

    For the reverse diet to attempt to raise TDEE up to where it may be.

    Which also means the diet breaks may not have been a true break.
    If you gained 1-2 lbs of water weight during that week - good indication it was.
    If you gained nothing, you were still probably in a deficit enough to balance out some water weight gain.

    What device is telling you about the 10k steps?

    Yes, 100 calories daily per week.
  • heybalesheybales Member Posts: 18,071 Member Member Posts: 18,071 Member
    xxzenabxx wrote: »
    heybales wrote: »
    Just to be clear, that is 100 extra calories daily for a week at a time, right?

    For the reverse diet to attempt to raise TDEE up to where it may be.

    Which also means the diet breaks may not have been a true break.
    If you gained 1-2 lbs of water weight during that week - good indication it was.
    If you gained nothing, you were still probably in a deficit enough to balance out some water weight gain.

    What device is telling you about the 10k steps?

    My phone has apple health on it. Sometimes I gained a 1-2lbs but other times I didn’t and weight stayed the same.

    So are you attempting to sync that account with MFP?
    Or merely telling MFP to use the device to get steps from?

    Because if by account sync - Apple sends the wrong info, and any extra daily Move activity is not given credit for, and any Exercise while synced over ends up not getting credit for.
    If by device step count only - it's merely MFP doing some rough estimates of calorie burn.
    Or maybe you don't sync in any way with MFP and merely have steps.

    If by account - In essence it creates an even bigger deficit than you think you are getting - if you have accounts synced.

    If you do, if you can get Screen shot of the exercise diary that shows an Apple adjustment (which is actually created by MFP based on Apple sent numbers), and tap and hold on that adjustment for more details, screen shot of that too.

    You may have worse deficit than you think.

    The extra water weight everyone loses 1st week of a diet, should come right back on when calories go back up to maintenance level. Not only extra food in the gut, but extra stored carbs with their attached water.
    Just a thought.
  • xxzenabxxxxzenabxx Member Posts: 729 Member Member Posts: 729 Member
    heybales wrote: »
    xxzenabxx wrote: »
    heybales wrote: »
    Just to be clear, that is 100 extra calories daily for a week at a time, right?

    For the reverse diet to attempt to raise TDEE up to where it may be.

    Which also means the diet breaks may not have been a true break.
    If you gained 1-2 lbs of water weight during that week - good indication it was.
    If you gained nothing, you were still probably in a deficit enough to balance out some water weight gain.

    What device is telling you about the 10k steps?

    My phone has apple health on it. Sometimes I gained a 1-2lbs but other times I didn’t and weight stayed the same.

    So are you attempting to sync that account with MFP?
    Or merely telling MFP to use the device to get steps from?

    Because if by account sync - Apple sends the wrong info, and any extra daily Move activity is not given credit for, and any Exercise while synced over ends up not getting credit for.
    If by device step count only - it's merely MFP doing some rough estimates of calorie burn.
    Or maybe you don't sync in any way with MFP and merely have steps.

    If by account - In essence it creates an even bigger deficit than you think you are getting - if you have accounts synced.

    If you do, if you can get Screen shot of the exercise diary that shows an Apple adjustment (which is actually created by MFP based on Apple sent numbers), and tap and hold on that adjustment for more details, screen shot of that too.

    You may have worse deficit than you think.

    The extra water weight everyone loses 1st week of a diet, should come right back on when calories go back up to maintenance level. Not only extra food in the gut, but extra stored carbs with their attached water.
    Just a thought.

    I don’t intend on syncing the device with MFP because it gets confusing for me. I’d rather just track them separately. I do use MapMyWalk which is synced to to MFP so I eat back half of those calories because I was told that MapMyWalk inflates the calories burned for walking.
  • heybalesheybales Member Posts: 18,071 Member Member Posts: 18,071 Member
    You might confirm on that - someone recently shared a calorie burn and it wasn't too bad, compared to what it used to be.

    You'd want to use the Net option here. This is more accurate than a HRM estimated calorie burn. As long as the values are correct anyway, distance, time, weight.
    Compare a few past workouts - they may be sending correct enough info to just leave alone.

    https://exrx.net/Calculators/WalkRunMETs
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