Tag Archives: eating disorder

Next up… Ketosis!…or not…

I started “dieting” when I was 22 with calorie restriction. I successfully lost 50 pounds then and developed an eating disorder that would haunt me indefinitely. While my weight would only severely yo-yo due to creating tiny humans, in the following years, I have tried probably every diet out there.

I have done:

  • Calorie restriction
  • Caloric density
  • Intuitive eating
  • Inner clean/detox
  • Juicing/smoothies
  • Hormone balancing
  • Whole30
  • Low glycemic
  • Gluten free
  • Low carb
  • Low FODMAP
  • Metabolic profile
  • Intermittent fasting
  • Fast mimicking
  • Healthy/balanced eating

At the end of that all, I had seemed to settled happily on intermittent fasting. I was finally happy and stable for the first time since before I had started to think about these things. Then last year, something happened to my body amidst medication changes, and it never really came back to itself. So it was back to trying (and failing) at all the things.

Nothing has worked, which has left me with one final thing to try (at the direction of my doctor). One thing that I have avoided for all my years of dieting: ketosis.

I have avoided ketosis for multiple reasons. Yes, it is a strict eating regiment. I can do strict. The simplest excuse is that I love fruit, and after giving up so many different foods on so many different diets (cheese for fuck’s sake), I had no intention of relenting my last grip on fruit.

Also, everyone I have personally seen on ketosis does lose weight very well… then gains it right back. Over and over again. I do not need a temporary fix. I need the answer that intermittent fasting was before whatever the hell happened happened.

However, it is what the doctor recommended, so I went into it with the intention of giving it the full attempt for three months. And since I was going to be in it, I might as well report how it.

Month 1: Fuck This

With all the various diets and restrictions I have tried in the past year, so many of the foods included in keto have been off limits. I was excited to eat cheese and bacon and FAT again. This excitement lasted a day, maybe two. Until I actually ate all the fat.

While delicious to eat all the fat (and liberating to not count the calories or the portions), it made me feel gross, the way I might feel after days on a fast food bender. The “keto flu” came and went in the first week (or so I thought), but on the other side, I still felt nasty. I never crossed over into the promised land of when keto is supposed to feel awesome and energizing and clarifying. Instead, my stomach always felt heavy; my tongue always tasted sour; my muscles always were weak and shaky.

What I felt in my first month of keto was rage. So much rage. I was angry and bitchy and unhappy all the time. I wasn’t hungry, but I might as well have been hangry for how irritable I was. I also experienced weird tingling and numbness in my hands/fingers and feet/toes. ALL my workouts were absolute shit, especially my runs, like I was trying to run on an empty tank. After I was active, I would hit an impenetrable wall and be borderline nonfunctional. Most likely, all of this wonkiness and extended “keto flu” was due to an electrolyte imbalance that I could not seem to rectify.

I adapted, somewhat, in my first month. Getting used to the composition and rhythm of the food. The grossness dwindled after the first couple weeks, but I still didn’t feel awesome about the food. It often felt heavy, even nauseating in my stomach. In the second week, I attempted to reintroduce fasting but found it halted my weight loss and tried adding the third meal back in (though that didn’t help). It seemed counter intuitive to need to eat more of such rich, high calorie food.

I just went strict. I followed the meal plan. I spent my entire days on Sundays doing meal prep, cooking things in butter and frying bacon and mixing in heavy cream. I didn’t cheat. I went to Chipotle when I ate out so I could get a bowl with no rice or beans, just mean and cheese and guac. I didn’t deviate.

I committed, and I suffered. I am able to do that. It is moderation I cannot accomplish.

However, the first month was not terribly successful either. In the first two weeks, I lost 8 pounds. In the second two weeks, nothing happened. I didn’t change or eat carbs, so I don’t know why it did not work in the second half, but it was very frustrating to continue to be miserable for no results. What I thought this told me is that I lost water weight in the first two weeks but did not lose any actual weight in the entire first month.

At the end of the first month, what it really felt like what more of the same, just like all the other failed diets. A lot of hope fizzled out into physical discomfort without change.

Month 2: I Can’t Feel My Hands!

My negative keto symptoms seemed to reach their peak as I moved into the second month. The strongest, and most unsettling, reactions seemed to be from an electrolyte imbalance. The most notable and irritating was extremity numbness. At its worst, I would lose sensation in both hands and both feet, especially while running.

In response to all the tingling, I started drinking bullion, taking a magnesium supplement, and adding salt to everything. After about a week, I did start to feel better. Even more that the electrolyte symptoms, I started to feel better overall. It seemed like I might actually be seeing the other side of the keto flu. I might actually be adapting to keto itself. At the end of week 5, I finally went on a run that did not feel terrible. It was still atrociously slow, but it was not a miserable experience.

At the end of week 5, the Coronavirus pandemic panic also broke on the grocery stores. I had the strange anxiety of first worrying about being able to get food, and once I had the essentials, I worried that I would not be able to stay on keto with what I had in the house. There were bizarre tiers of stress in my eating. Thankfully, the stores restocked in the same weekend, and it became a nonissue, but it was a surreal experience briefly. Keto would have quickly died if I had to turn to boxes of ramen or cans of soup.

I messaged my doctor to tell her about my numbness and ask her how to proceed. She had me come in to see her. At this point, I had been on keto for six weeks pretty strictly. However, I had not lost any weight past the first two weeks, and I never started to feel good in any real way. I only experienced negative side effects. So she advised me to terminate the diet. Since I only went on it because she recommended trying it, I complied.

Part of me feels like I should finish the 12 weeks just to finish them, but why? How wrong does it have to be to be wrong? I think I am just frustrated to have the last option still not be the answer.

Another Failure

Instead of a month 3, keto ended at week 6 in another failure, in more negative results. To me, this leads me back to the conclusion that brought me to a medical professional for assistance: something is not right with my body. Something is not functioning how it should be. From what I have been told, strict keto works for almost everyone. The doctor had expected me to easily drop 20 pounds in the first couple months.

If I cannot lose weight, that’s fine. I can live with that. The problem is more that if I do not starve and work myself to death, I gain weight rapidly and my blood sugar climbs. That is not healthy. Or normal. That is what I am trying (and repeatedly) failing to figure out here.

So now I am to return to Whole30, which worked when I tried it before things got all wonky last year. I’ll be happy to eat produce again, not feel gross, and be able to feel my fingers and toes. Maybe I’ll have some fuel during my workouts. I’m also going to layer intermittent fasting back on, simply because I like it and it makes my body feel good.

Here we go again… We’ll see again… I’ll have another follow up with the doctor to reveal lack of progress yet again I’m sure.

 

Christina Bergling

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The Next Thing

The last three years have seen me attempt diet after diet, exercise routine after fad. They all begin the same, with such hope, motivation, and optimism. However, after the infatuation wears off, they all have fallen into the same disappointing pattern. I rarely fail at them, but they consistently fail to deliver me results.

I have tried traditional calorie counting, low glycemic, Whole30, near ketosis. I have joined a gym, run constantly, started barre, used a personal trainer, done bodyboss. I am sure I have forgotten multiple tangents and detours.

Nothing.

I have been ramming my head into the same wall all these years, trapped at the same weight (or more) no matter how I work or starve myself. I am progressively dieting stricter and stricter, working out more and more regularly. I have worked myself into multiple injuries. Deeper and deeper into the obsession.

Nothing.

I have felt completely crazy. I have spent far too much time fixated on something I do not want to run my life. But here we go again, onto the next thing. Or things in this case. Two things.

First, I have been working with my therapist, who also happens to be an integrative medicine specialist focusing in eating disorders, through this struggle. With her advice, I went to my primary care doctor to have my hormone levels tested. My estrogen (and iron) came back high, while my testosterone was nonexistent. Quite possibly, I could be experiencing estrogen dominance from my hormonal IUD. So I went to discuss with my OB/GYN, and she immediately removed it to allow my body to self regulate.

Hopefully, normal hormone levels will balance my weight, as well as my mood and energy. Having a monthly cycle should also level out the iron level in my blood. So I am going back to being natural. And getting my tubes tied in a couple weeks.

Second, I have shifted to yet another diet/exercise program. I am still doing barre and running. I am still finishing bodyboss (nearly two thirds of the way through it now). However, my coworker introduced me to a new app to try for food tracking and planning.

The app is called noom and is ultimately not much different than MapMyFitness or MyFitnessPal or Spark People or anything I have tried previously. The main divergences are that the program is psychology-centric (which works for me on multiple levels) and that it includes an individual couch who messages you and an online support group (hence why it costs money).

My experience so far has been positive, but don’t go holding your breath just yet; we’re scarcely out of the honeymoon phase. I have seen some results then seen them mildly undone by Christmas. The psychological approach to the app is pretty transparent to me, both because they are transparent about it and because I’ve been in eating disorder counseling periodically for years. However, that does not prevent it from working on me. I know the compliment every time I log a work out is a manipulation, but it makes me feel good nonetheless, so the manipulation works. Same with the coach and the group, though my group is pretty inactive and lame. It is an extra layer of accountability without the pressure of real interaction.

I have noticed improvement in my thought patterns and emotional reactions, if nothing else, which is surprising since all that counseling over the years has done shit against the same problems. The app does not tell me much I do not already know, but for some reason, things appear to be clicking now. I hope it is not some false sense of enlightenment meant to lull me into complacency to then fall into old patterns again, but a girl can dream.

I hope one of these things is the answer. I’m ready to have an answer, any answer. Yeah, it would be great to fit into all my pants and be my pre-pregnancies weight again, but more than that, I want my body to be healthy. My blood sugar finally came down; I want it to stay that way. More than anything, I want to not think about this bullshit all the time. I want it to not be 10 hours out of my week. I want it to not be tormenting me every meal and every workout. I want to just be.

So, here we go on these next things. Fingers crossed.

Oh, and by the way, my hamstring is still torn. bodyboss aggravates it greatly. I’m headed to a new orthopedic to see what the hell is still going on next month. Maybe that problem needs another next thing too.

Christina Bergling

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My Love and Hate Relationship with the Barre

My hands grip the barre until my knuckles start to pale; my rings dig into my fingers from the pressure. I am clinging to the slender wood for dear life as my entire body threatens to tremble into a puddle on the thin carpet.

“Rise onto your highest pair of heels, and sink you seat an inch lower,” the instructor says as she paces methodically around the room. Her tone is soothing, yet her words abrate my mind as my muscles beg me to stop in an ascending burn.

I roll onto my toes, pressing and arching my foot until I feel my calf muscle ball up behind the back of my knee. As I ease my hips lower, awkwardly squatting above my elevated heels, my legs behind to vibrate. It’s a subtle tremble at first, just a quiver on the edge of my skin, sending waves through the acid beginning to team on my muscles. I breathe through pursed lips and hold tighter to the barre.

“Now tuck to tempo. Tuck, tuck, tuck.”

I dig deep and gather the muscles of my abdomen in towards my spine, tilting my pelvis up into my torso. The muscles that still feel so distended from two babies. With each tuck, fire licks the tops of my thighs. My heels press against each other, desperate to stay lifted. I feel the weakness trickle down, pouring over my legs down into my perched toes.

“Lower your hips down an inch, up an inch. Little down, little up.”

My muscles practically cackle at her words they sound so outrageous. Didn’t she mean lower your heels and lock your knees? Stand like a normal, relaxed person?

I close my eyes and breathe more purposefully. I do not look in the mirror. I do not want to see the sweaty tomato of my face while my reflection wants to give up so deeply. 

“This is your last change,” she says.

Hope blossoms across my chest. I can do this. It has to be less than a minute left.

A minute of burning hell on my legs.

I lower and lift my hips against the objections of my flesh. I make the small, controlled motions even though my nerves send relentless messages indicating they cannot comply. My body moves just the same. With each lower, the shake seizes me. My heels wobble and smack together; my knees knock and tremble. I can feel the vibrations rolling up my body in waves all the way to my cheeks.

“Final 10 strong. 1, 2, 3, 4…”

The countdown inspires me. Only 10 tiny movements left. I clutch the barre harder, close my eyes tighter, focus only on her count. I drop my seat lower, tuck my hips harder. My entire body is a mess of quivering fire.

” 9 and 10.”

I made it. I lock my knees and bask in the pleasant rush of the acid receding from my muscles. I breathe out relief as the heat stops flaring beneath my face.

Then I feel it, somewhere between the endorphins and the accomplishment–the high. The pain in my body evolves into euphoria, and my mind climbs somewhere both level and calm.

 

love

I believe I can safely say that I have reached addiction level with my affair with Pure Barre.

socks

That is what I do, after all: become addicted to things. Substances, activities, people, places. My mind will turn about anything into a drug. I live in extremes and chases excesses. If a little is good, more must be better, and a lethal dose is probably where I’ll end up.

Hence the attempt to shift addictions to “healthy” outlets. But I digress…

I started trying barre classes because an acquaintance of mine had started teaching classes and was posting about it. I was mired in my obsession to recover from my son and was trying any and all fitness options available, so I gave it a shot.

The first class absolutely annihilated me. I could scarcely perform the exercises included, and I was sore like I potentially never have been. And I rarely get sore anyway.

bettersorethansorry

I enjoyed the class, felt deeply intrigued by the challenge; however, I was married to my gym and the full schedule of classes I committed to every week. I could not afford the extra expense and more the extra time without provided child care. So barre became an occasional flirtation, once a month or so.

At some point, I started going more frequently. Perhaps when my son’s school schedule changed and gave me more unencumbered time. Then I purchased a deal on classes without actually reading the fine print. When my unused classes were about to expire, the studio owner was gracious enough to give me an extension, into which I stuffed every class I could make.

Boom. Addiction.

I actually injured my hamstring doing barre stretches. After a dance class, I was moving gently through the thigh stretch sequence. When I came down easily into the splits (which was a celebrated accomplishment), something popped, and five months later, I am still recovering. Ironically enough, the activity that injured me also seems to the best suited to my injury. With its minute, controlled movements, barre  is the perfect exercise to strengthen my hamstring without straining it further.

It is as if the class itself has trapped me.

plie

Now, I am a 2-3 classes a week attendee whenever I can support it. With my obsessive commitment, it is pretty often though children and work are known to pop up in the way. Barre even has me convinced me to abandon the gym, shifting to only barre, belly dance, and running. Once I found a piece of dance to complete my heart, I was sold.

I LOVE and HATE Pure Barre classes, potentially equally, definitely simultaneously.

The classes themselves make me uncomfortable. Yes, I am a dancer; I was a belly dancer for eight years and still pursued hauntings of that with zumba and hip hop classes. However, that is all VERY different from ballet. The only ballet I have experienced is watching my daughter’s classes. I had the benefit of knowing how to tuck my hips, but the form and movements are all completely divergent. It throws my body out of its comfort zone, challenges its muscle memory and ingrained positions.

platformsquat

Yet, beyond the physical fluency, I do not look like a ballerina. The instructors and the majority of the students look like they came up on the barre, long, lean, and svelte. I am a thicker girl with curves and things that shake when I shimmy. Never do I look larger than in a classroom full of these slender former dancers. And that unavoidable comparison tickles every tingle of body dysmorphia I have. Hating myself in a barre class mirror is what pushed me back to counting calories (which I thankfully have dropped again).

This discomfort is part of the reason I keep going back. Yes, I am a masochist at heart, but it is also the challenge that seduces me. I want to feel like I overcame the weakness of my flesh; I want to feel like I made progress battling back the crazy in my mind.

sock-blog

Physically, I am enticed by not being good at it, by it always being hard no matter how much I improve. Like running, regardless of how much I train or how I often I do it, I am not able to coast. I coasted through my entire youth; I don’t want that anymore. If I somehow master one routine, it changes to a new one that wreaks havoc on my muscles. And I’m a sucker for the pain of it.

And it hurts. So much. The class is literally painful. You would think such tiny movements would be easy. Absolutely not. My muscles are on fire and trembling the entire class. I can feel tidal waves of acid blaze over my nerves. My knuckles go white clinging to that barre for dear life. I sweat as much as I do in high cardio. It hurts. Yet on the flip side of that pain is the rush after, the high, the euphoria. Which is ultimately what I am always physically chasing. Which I why I am so addicted to running.

As much as it pains me physically, the true challenge for me is mental, emotional. That goddamn echo of an eating disorder I can’t seem to shake. Mentally, I refuse to be controlled my own insecurities. I will not allow my misguided, shallow fixations and comparisons to prevent me from doing anything. I may feel gigantic and weak in these classes, out of place and incongruent with all the other participants, but that is why I have to keep going. Not to work my way into fitting in but to make myself become comfortable standing out. I will learn to love and accept myself one way or another. If I can wrangle bipolar, body distortion should be downhill from here. Even if I have to sit with my own self-loathing beating at my chest and a swarm of inappropriate comparisons buzzing in my brain for 100 classes. I will not limit myself.

ball

And with each class, it gets better. I feel more at home in the class; I feel more comfortable in my skin. I am wearing myself down, dulling my sensitivities, making it part of my normal. If I can accomplish that, it would be far more valuable than getting to a certain size or weight.

So I love and hate the physical challenge. I hate and need the mental challenge. The results… I just love.

My son is over two now. I have been literally beating myself up for two years trying to recover from him. Between thyroid issues and injuries, diets and different classes, nothing really worked. Or maybe did not work fast enough for me. Either way. Yet, with the recent burst of barre classes, I not only notice a different in the performance of my muscles, I actually physically see the different on my body. I think all the cross training is why my running pace continues to improve though my injury does not and training has not happened at all.

Most of all, these classes are doing amazing things for my ass (or “seat,” as they call it). It is at a height and shape it has never been in my life. My waistline, or saddlebags if you will, are also trimming way down. My back is tightening up. Muscles are starting to bulge out of my flexed quads and calves like they did when I played soccer in high school. My body is not perfect, not where the crazy part of my mind demands it be, but I am seeing the positive results. The more I see, the more fervently I devote to the classes.

So I’m in it, maybe all in it, working harder at quelling my self-abuse and finding a real acceptance for my body than anything else. If barre is the tool I need and makes my body healthier in the process, all the better. I’ll be there, obsessively shaking at the barre.

equip2

And just to up the ante, I am also doing the Whole30 challenge as part of my new commitment to the barre. Not to lose weight, not to starve myself but because my body needs the detox and the reset. And because it does not allow any weighing or measuring. I am going all in, striving to find my strength and my balance.

setthebarre

Christina Bergling

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