Today I wanted to recap my experience with Reverse Dieting to repair my metabolic damage, so I figured it was a good time to actually look at what I’ve been eating, and play the WIAW game since it’s been a while. Thanks
And good habits, I did fall into. Case in point: Thanksgiving.
In the past, Thanksgiving was a time of anxiety. I would be sure to go to the gym, burn X amount of calories doing cardio, try to restrict and avoid food, and be more worried about food than anything else that day.
This year was different. I woke up, I hit the gym for a 45 minute legday workout. I made and ate a normal breakfast before heading out to Eric’s family’s place around 1pm. I ate like a “normal” person, but didn’t stuff myself. I had 3 glasses of wine (yup). I tried some dessert (they didn’t have pumpkin pie. boo.). I ate leftovers before bed. No guilt. No obsession. No compensatory exercise.
The whole weekend was much like that. I went out on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday night, visiting with friends, and had 2-3 drinks each night. I ate fried food. I ate a Muffaletta (not a whole one, obviously). I ate pancakes, and whatever else I wanted. I didn’t binge. I never felt restricted, so I didn’t feel like it was the last feast. I worked out like I normally would, and even started my deload week on Sunday.
For a “normal person” that seems like nothing, but someone with a disordered eating history, having no guilt regarding food is a huge deal.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, but I think it’s fair to be a little bit concerned old habits might creep back in.
I think that’s what the best outcome of Reverse Dieting has been. It was like a nail in the coffin of my ED. Any doubts I had regarding my ability to completely recover or for relapse have been squashed.
And it’s not like I’m going off the deep end, gorging myself on pie, wine, and broccoli casserole (don’t let the name fool you, it’s NOT healthy). I’m still eating a lot of the same whole foods.
I also eat things like pie, wine, mac and cheese. Carbs. Fat. Unclean. Processed foods. Clearly not all the time, but if I want it. I eat it. No Issue. No macro counting, or forcing down foods I don’t like. I don’t really eat fruit, because I don’t like it. I pack my meals for work, but I don’t have a set number of meals or food times, and if something something comes up, I improvise. I’m a big fan of “IIFYM”- If it fits your macros…you can eat it. In other words, if you are mostly eating whole, nutrient dense foods, it’s okay to eat pop tarts, or ice cream, or whatever you want. (It’s not about eating junk 24/7). Basically- no food is off limits. It’s not clean, vegan, gluten free, or anything else, but it works for me.
And I know you might be wondering, but have you gained weight?
The short answer? Yes.
I had reversed up to 1600 calories from—too low, and stopped gaining weight (this was about a year ago). I thought it was more important to try to lose some of the fat I lost, and that was my focus. I didn’t realize how difficult that would be without first repairing my metabolism. So fast forward a year, and after researching metabolic damage and being mentally prepared, I decided that I would add in about 100 calories every two weeks or so. ( I know this isn’t how everyone does it).
I didn’t count macros, and my calorie counts were rough estimates. There was usually no measuring, and definitely no weighing of food. Sticking with this was hard at times- both getting all the calories in, and reminding myself that it was worth it forcing down peanut butter before bed to meet my goals.
I knew reverse dieting was the right decision, no matter the consequences.
I saw some people on instagram losing weight while reverse dieting, and I guess a part of me hoped that would be the case. But I also knew I could also gain weight.
And I did. Initially, I gained about 5 lbs, but it fluctuates. I held steady at that weight for a while, and as i pushed my calories higher, I gained 5 more lbs that fluctuated. I haven’t weighed myself in almost a month and I have no intentions to.
The weight could be water,it could be muscle, it could be fat. I don’t know for sure, but what I do know is, I often feel more comfortable in my skin than I did when I was sub-100 weight. To me, that’s priceless.
It may not be all the time. I have my “fat days,” or even times of day. I think that’s normal. Everyone gets bloated sometimes. I feel like my body looks different to me over the course of a few hours, so its probably in my head, and nobody else notices.
I don’t think I have gained 10 lbs of fat. I may have gained some muscle, and retain water from more carbs, and maybe a little bit of fat, too. I’m okay with that. For me, reverse dieting is an ends to a means. And if I end here, I’d be fine. Honestly, I don’t care, and if anything– a higher weight= more food.
So now, I am deloading from the gym this week. I plan to do some walking, but that’s about it. For the rest of the month, I will enjoy the holiday at maintenance levels, continuing with an “intuitive” style of eating- that is, no restriction, but also not stuffing myself to meet a “calorie goal.”
After December, I will reevaluate how I feel about all of it. For now I just want to enjoy the normalcy, I suppose. That’s more than I imagined.
In all honesty, I initially began reverse dieting so that I could diet. Perhaps it was still that ED voice lingering in the back of my head. But now that I have “completed” the reverse back to maintenance levels, I’m not in such a hurry to cut calories. Yes, I would eventually still like to lose some fat (I bet most people you ask would say that), but living life and enjoying the holiday for all it has to offer is my priority right now. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to do that. Maybe come January, I’ll cut back on the cocktails and bedtime mac and cheese, but for now, cheese me, please.
So to anyone questioning whether or not to reverse diet after longterm metabolic repair. Do it. Yes, it will test your will. You will have bad days, but you will have good days. And in the end, you will probably be happier. Dedicate yourself to the process. It may not end up exactly as you planned, but the consequences could be bigger and better than you hoped for.
I doubt I covered everything, so any questions or comments, please don’t be shy.