Binging, Reverse Dieting, Counting Macros..
As someone who has always been somewhat conscious about my diet, these are terms that come up quite often in the industry that I’m in. In high school I can honestly say that I didn’t have any type of body image issues or concerns about what I ate. I was quite content with what I was eating and the fact that I was active and athletic. In fact, pizza pops, cheese and crackers and iced cream were a staples to my diet in grade 10 and 11. As long as my clothes still fit and I was able to play sports, my physique wasn’t really a concern to me. I’ve always had a big appetite and I LOVE food. Just ask my boyfriend 😉
I recall in grade 12 was when I started to pay closer attention to my training and diet. Like most girls, you want to look amazing for grad. So I started to monitor my portion sizes. I didn’t cut anything out completely, I just cut back on the second helpings of store bought pizza, one bowl of cereal instead of two, and an apple instead of a granola bar. I had already taken up running a few years back, and was currently running for 30 mins 4 times a week. I had read somewhere that if you really wanted to “tone up” you needed to run in the mornings to cut the fat and burn more calories through out the day (fasted cardio).So I amped that up as well. I remember one morning setting my alarm to go to the gym before school and my best friends mom (I was staying with them for the year) could not believe that I was so determined. “Good lord you are ambitious!” I will never forget that moment because it was very defining for me and would ring in my ears during each prep. Thanks Mrs. Ex xxoo.
After Grad is when things became a little more intense. You party for a few years, and stop running because duh! Grad is over. and you put on a few unwanted pounds. I’m not a medical expert, but I do know the signs of an eating disorder and at this point, I more than likely had one. I would skip meals, avoid sugary snacks, LIE about eating (oh yes I lied) and beat myself up when I would indulge in food. You avoid and restrict until finally you can’t take it anymore and you binge at 7-11 with your buddies on a Friday night after the bar. Or in your parents fridge (woops). The next few days you are full of guilt and you’re just plain mad at yourself for losing control (Did I mention I’m also a control freak and a perfectionist?) .That’s the thing about being both of these things, if you’re not perfect, you’re always wrong and failing. If something is in your control and you’ve let it spin OUT of control.. well you’re just a failure. I would get anxiety over food and trying so hard to maintain this picture in my mind of what “skinny girls eat and do” because that’s what guys want.
This went on for a couple of years until I got into weight lifting. I had learned that if you want your body to change, you need to feed it properly and get some muscles. Eat more to look better..never heard of it 😉 I started to eat heathier and lift weights and watch my body change. Each weekend or maybe at some point during the week, I would have a cheat snack. I didn’t know the term cheat anything at this point, but I just knew I missed iced cream and wanted to have some. I would have one iced cream cone/chocolate bar/piece of cake and move on. I would say during this time I had a pretty good balance going (2011). I loved running, weight lifting and I loved the foods I was eating. Friends and family began to notice the change in my lifestyle and how happy it made me. I was definitely a healthier version of myself and had great balance. I was currently a Conservation Officer and was stationed in Alberta. People that I worked with recognized my discipline and would often tease me (lovingly) about how dedicated I was to eating healthy and going to the gym. That was a reputation that I was proud to have. Someone who looked after themselves and was healthy but still knew how to let loose and have some fun.
In 2013 when I began competing I was introduced to a whole other side of possible relationships with food and fitness. I was on a strict meal plan which I followed 6-7 days a week for nearly 7 months. I would have one cheat meal of my choice per week until close to show day. Cheat meals at this point for me mentally, were good because I could handle them. It kept me motivated to be “good” during the week and follow my diet in hopes that I would get a cheat meal on the weekend. The thing about cheat meals is they aren’t bad or good. They just work for some people and they don’t for others. They were good for me at that point in my life. Now, after my competition is another story. When you come off of a show, you have been so deprived for so long that you want everything, right now and all of it. To the point that you are psychologically full.. not physically because at that point it wouldn’t take much. My first post show meal wasn’t bad at all. I was too excited and on a high that food wasn’t my focus. I had a couple pieces of pizza and that was it for me. But moving onward from there, I didn’t know where to go. You want to maintain what you have worked so hard to achieve but you also want to enjoy life..so how on earth do you do both?? My solution was again, restrict, binge, guilt, punish. I was so emotionally drained from prep that restricting and waiting for cheat meals just weren’t an option for me. Pretty soon the cheat meals become cheat days and then cheat weeks.. and then you kind of lose hope. So? you compete again because where else do you go from here.
This time around (2014), my metabolism was in really rough shape. It was somewhat confused from being starved, then overfed and starved (yo-yo dieting) that it took a lot to drop any weight. I was excited because I was going to be back into a routine again and have the structure that I often crave. Now someone else would have control and all I had to do was follow it (I love control until I’m out of control. Then I need Jesus to take the wheel). I assumed from previous experience that I would be allotted cheat meals once a week. Unfortunately, the cheat meals didn’t last long. Each time I would cheat, I would over eat and hinder my progress. So it wasn’t long before the cheats got cut completely. Some may think this is extreme and maybe a bit harsh. But when you cant control your cheats and they turn into binges, you’re not going to drop fat. Even when I had restrictions, I would blow them and over do it each time. Then before you know it, you’re down to crunch time and you have 6 weeks to get on stage and too much fat to lose. No time to worry about having a F*&$%ING cheat meal.
After this show (July 2014), I was getting married in September. This was enough motivation after a show to keep me on task and keep everything in check. I started to slowly reverse with the help of my coach until a few weeks before the wedding. Like many brides, you are constantly busy and consumed with stress. I was hardly eating and still training like a maniac to rid myself of the anxiety that came with the wedding. After the wedding came and went, I binged HARD for a full two weeks. I recall the morning after that wedding eating baking, chilli cheese fries and drinking beer. Sorry guys but this is not Linds anymore, so if you see her, ask for her backstage pass. I went on my honey moon and ate anything that I could get my hands on and not in moderation. If you ask my partner at the time, I was a bottomless pit. We went for supper one night and I was crushing fudge out of my purse at the table (its funny because I seriously was devouring fudge in this classy restaurant in Canmore). My metabolism was in such a rough shape from competing and the weeks before the wedding that the weight stacked on to my body in what seemed like over night. I came back from Canmore and had a totally and completely different figure. What I know now, is that when I binge or over eat its because I’m anxious/nervous or feeling deprived of something. Physically after deprivation, your body is in survival mode and is trying to stack the fat back on, and fast. Psychologically you could be thinking so many things. ” I’m nervous about work. What happens now? I’m bored. What did she mean when she said I look different? I wonder what he’s thinking and where this is going. I’m worried about my kids” -Sound familiar?? So you snack and eat beyond the point of being full because your brain is still running and your mouth cant catch up to it. Before you know it, that bag of peanut M&M’S is gone and you’ve just replayed the past 10 years of your life in your head and predicted your future. Shit.
Of course! 2015 we compete again and fix the problem, right? I hired another coach because I wanted to give the macro counting a shot. I heard amazing things about it and how it helped many people with their binging tendencies. A few weeks into my cut and my coach knew that this wasn’t going to be an easy cut. He knew the extremes I had been through before with contests and not making the efforts to reverse properly, that he wasn’t willing to lower my macros or increase my cardio (which is a healthy decision). He was most concerned about my health and the possible back lash after the show, rather than my placing. Of course as a competitor you are so amped up and wanting to win that you feel like you will do most anything to place. I can honestly say during this time I never once felt deprived or like I was missing something. I didn’t have “cheat meals” because why would you need one? If you’re making room for a little something in your day to curb your craving, that should be enough. I wasn’t doing fasted cardio nor was I doing cardio daily. After attending both Nationals and getting slaughtered (for real) I felt so defeated. I realized exactly what shape my metabolism was in and the extremes it would take in order for me to diet down enough to be a contender again at a show. I counted macros and did a full reverse with my coach for 3 months and this to me, was the most balanced and composed my relationship with fitness and food has ever been. I was able to increase my carbs by 120 grams and my fats by 20 in 3 months time. It may not seem like much to many, but for me I was pretty damn proud of it. I felt fit, strong, full of energy and I looked great. When you feel like you’re on top of the world, you might start to think that the solution to feeling even better! is to compete again??
2016 is when I really started to notice my binging tendencies. Not only that, when someone close to me started to notice them. When you binge or mindlessly eat and someone points it out, you get defensive over it. “Are you STILL hungry?” …”How bout you F off? GOD.” Which is a very calm way to respond. When in reality the person is just trying to understand why you’re still eating that bag of popcorn after you said you were full. I remember discussing it and telling these insane stories of the amounts of food I’ve consumed in one sitting and having them ask why? My reaction was shock. why? I don’t know..what the hell kind of response is that? The kind of response by someone who genuinely wants to know why and realizes there is something behind it. There’s also something I like to call “sneaky” eating. Which is where someone will sneak food and hide it from someone else because they’re embarrassed or ashamed. I am so guilty of that its ridiculous. When I was in Bali, my boyfriend and I went for a late supper (which was filling) and when we came back to the hotel, he hopped into the shower. It was as if someone had rang a door bell in my brain telling me to go! act now! I rummaged through snacks and found a pack of cookies (not even good cookies) and ate them as fast as I could. He came out of the bathroom and found the wrapper in the garbage and said “Why did you eat those cookies? I thought you were full?” I forgot to hide the evidence of the sneaky cookies. It was like someone had read my diary and put me on blast. LOOK! YOU NOSEY BASTARD!!! But in all reality I just felt ashamed and sad. Why did I eat those nasty cookies? I laughed it off and he sat me down with a serious look and said “Lindsay, why did you eat them? are you anxious about something?” For the first time in a long time, someone didn’t let me play it off and laugh about it. I felt like couldn’t run from it and that I needed to realize that this was so unnecessary and something I needed to address. Yes, I am anxious and that’s why I’m crushing random cookies.
I have many girls approach and ask me about binge eating and they feel so ashamed about the fact that they can’t seem to find a balance with food. They’ve spent so much time eliminating certain things due to the fact that it’s been ingrained into their mind that it’s “bad”. They avoid it for a certain period of time and restrict themselves until they finally break and O.D. in a sense. Which is why I know that in order for me to find a healthy balance, counting macros is the way that I choose to “diet” when my goal is to feel better about myself with out going overboard on eliminating foods out of my life. Meal plans are great but they also don’t allow you flexibility with your life. It’s really something when you’re anxiety starts to spike because someone has asked you to go to lunch and you’re not sure what you could possibly order. So you cancel and stay home where you have control over what you can eat. I’ve been there and it sucks and is really hard to get through and figure out how to live again with out constantly obsessing over the menu. For anyone who is currently struggling with these issues, know that you’re not alone and that many have been there. Talking about it helps a great deal and will allow you to see that you’re not the only one who’s struggling with the same issues. They may never completely go away, but they can get better ❤