Reader To Reader: Getting over an eating disorder

One RW member is frightened that she'll gain weight if she eats to fuel her running. Here's how you responded


Posted: 2 February 2007
by Jane Hoskyn


We all know that running can help us control our weight, improve our fitness and, crucially, make us feel better about ourselves. But all these things are complicated when you're suffering or recovering from an eating disorder. This week's question was emailed to me by Amanda, a former ED sufferer who still worries about gaining weight – and whose weekly running programme is pretty intense for someone who's only been running for a year.

"I am a 41-year-old woman, and I started running just over a year ago. Every week I do one 15-mile hilly run, one 10-mile hilly run, one 40-min speed session, one 4-mile fast run and two 6-mile runs. I used to suffer from an eating disorder and have always been a size 8. Running is helping me with recovery mentally, but I am still terrified of gaining weight. If I eat 2,000 calories a day of the right foods, am I likely to gain weight? Should I eat more or less, or exercise mor or less?"Amanda

Your best answers

  • You're not over it – and you're not alone
    Amanda, you still have a lot of the features of an eating disorder: worrying about weight gain and body size, calorie-counting, concern about "the right foods" and, I suspect, using running primarily as a means to control your weight. There are a lot of people out there, and on this forum, who are in exactly the same position as you are. And that's OK. Eating disorders are common. People come to running from all sorts of backgrounds and with all sorts of hopes and expectations, and lots of athletes have disordered or obsessive attitudes to food.

    But I don't think the advice you can get from here is enough. Ideally, I'd like someone like you, who is running lots of miles, to be under the supervision of a coach who has a special interest and personal expertise in working with athletes who also have eating disorders. At the very least, I'd to think that you're getting advice from a sensible, empathetic dietician.

    The concrete answer to your question is that unless you're about 3'6" tall, on that training load you are unlikely to put on weight on 2,000 calories a day of any sort of foods. If you're a 4'11" size 8, it might just be enough to maintain your weight. Any taller and it won't be enough. As for exercising less or more... you're already doing a substantial mileage for someone who's only been running for a year, and I wouldn't advise pushing it any higher at the moment. An injury and an enforced break from running at the moment might just tip you back into a spiral of dysfunctional eating and despair, and nobody wants that for you. – Velociraptor

  • Forget calories
    Untold misery lies in being obsessed by calories, "good and bad" food, and the need to purge or compensate for calories taken in to the body, whether by being sick or by over-exercising, both of which are obvious means to compensate. Weighing every day induces panic: on gaining a pound or two, we know intellectually this may be linked to the time of the month or fluid balance but the lower brain tends to dominate and the reaction may well be one of fear and self loathing.

    I get the feeling from your letter that you're trying so hard to recover, but you're still caught in the loop of measuring exercise against calories and panicking about weight. If you're anything like average weight and height, you're not eating enough to sustain your programme of running or, crucially, to make you feel well, happy and healthy when you're not running.

    Take a step back and think: is this helping me recover or taking over from other kinds of disordered behaviour? I'd urge you to look for other help too, through the NHS, a private counsellor, the EDA, online. There is a lot of information out there. – Vinnycat

  • Check out the RW archive
    RW did a very useful article, with a long accompanying thread you might want to have a look at. However this isn't something you should try to tackle with 'self-help'. Eating disorders are far too likely to kill you, and they should not be messed around with.

    I had to take more than a year off running after I was discharged from treatment. Partly because I was a mess physically, but also because I was using running as another way to self-harm. I had to be sure I was running for the right reasons.

    When I did get back to running, it really helped to join a club. It really helped me get some perspective on a normal healthy approach to running and food, and it also helped me regain confidence and a social life. – Duck Girl

  • Food is fuel for running
    After I had my daughter at age 23, life felt totally out of control and my eating disorder became quite serious. The when I started running (about 18 months ago at age 27), and was amazed at the positive effect it had on the way I felt about myself. It helps me see food as fuel, and without enough fuel my running's not nearly as good. Running has also taught me to co-operate with my body and to feed it when it says it needs feeding! That said, I will always need to be careful. An eating disorder can be like a malevolent friend who's always there when things get bad, and running can become part of a weight obsession. – Lyra O'K
  • Eating disorders come in many shapes, but they're all insidious
    I've suffered from disordered eating for most of my life. I went to my GP and he was extremely supportive. I am very overweight and certainly don't look like the stereotypical ED sufferer, but my GP took me seriously and managed to get some counselling through the NHS, which helped a lot. It never does go away, especially when I'm under stress, but counselling has definitely helped strengthen my resolve to keep on fighting. – Happychap
  • Training can help redirect your need for control
    I know that running can be an element of an eating disorder, but in my experience sticking to a training schedule has helped take something away from the ED's. It has also encouraged me to see food as fuel that enables me to do the long runs and sprint sessions. I feel I am recovering. My diet is very healthy, and that could be seen as control, but I no longer starve myself or purge to the extent I did two years ago. Keep on going. It's never going to be a quick fix or an easy process. – Buzzstar
  • Take care with running clubs
    I used to go to a running club but I left recently. It was a very competitive place, and it was just fuelling my unhealthy obsession. I'm about to try a different club that I hope will be more relaxed. I've also been through the GP and NHS. They do what they can, but basically unless you're at death's door they are limited with what they can offer. When I did the marathon last year I was offered a nutritionist, but the waiting lists were so long that never materialised. It might be worth seeing someone privately if you can afford to. You do sound as if there are still a lot of nasty thoughts going on. Don't be fooled into thinking that because you are eating you are OK. It's not about the weight – there's much more to an eating disorder than that! – la tortuga
  • Are you really ready for running?
    Perhaps the question you could ask yourself is: is running appropriate for me right now? Running can be isolating and obsessive, as well as health-giving and satisfying, and it would be easy for it to be part of your eating disorder. If you are underweight, recovery from injury will take longer, and your running will be better if you nourish yourself properly. – ejc
  • Run for the right reasons
    I took up running about six years ago, long after I'd got over my eating disorder. I am 5' 8" and am about a size 14. I think my weight is ideal for my height and body shape, and I feel good in myself, so I don't feel you have to conform to what you hear is normal. Saying you are a size 8 says nothing. If you are 5' 7" you may be grossly underweight. Do you run because you enjoy it or because you think it will help you to lose weight and makes you feel in control? I suspect the latter. I love running and I think it is beneficial to both mind and health, but not at the level you are doing it. If you ran half as much as you do, you shouldn't need to worry about calories. I wish you the best, and hope some of the good advice on this thread helps you. – Juwl
  • You're doing too much
    You are doing a huge amount of running, and you'd probably be shocked by how much you can eat without gaining weight. In fact you might be better to run a bit less – apart from anything, it'll reduce the chance of injury. – Hot and pink!
  • Stay away from other sufferers
    Though there will always be a part of me that will have a tendency towards disordered eating, but the biggest turning point for me was the will to succeed in my running. I realise that I am actually quite good at this running lark, and I get great support from people around me. Now the fear of letting my body break down through lack of fuel is greater than the desire to lose weight. I honestly believe that it has helped me break the cycle. The biggest piece of advice I can give is to stay away from like-minded people that haven't recovered. Don't feel guilty about this. Running requires you to be fit and healthy, and it will inspire you beyond belief. I am training for a marathon, and have not weighed myself during training – and I've promised myself I won't do so, as the last thing I want is to start trying to diet whilst running 60 miles a week! – Jelly Bebe
  • See a counsellor, and be brutally honest
    My wife suffered from bulimia and later anorexia. She suffered for about 15 years and took an overdose about eight months into our relationship. All is well now; we have two great children and have been married four years. What really helped her was very honest sessions with a proper consellor, which enabled her to get to the bottom of the issues that had started the problem in the first place. – Craig Llewellyn


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Hi everyone,

I was emailed a question that really hit home. Those of us who've suffered from EDs will always struggle to kill the demon completely. Running has helped me beyond measure - it's given me mucho respect for my body - but I'll struggle forever with feelings of failure when my appetite creeps up, which it always does in winter.

OK enough self-blah. Here's the question. I suspect that there are a lot of us out there - men as well as women.

"I am a 41-year-old woman, and I started running just over a year ago. Every week I do one 15-mile hilly run, one 10-mile hilly run, one 40-min speed session, one 4-mile fast run and two 6-mile runs. I used to suffer from an eating disorder and have always been a size 8. Running is helping me with recovery mentally, but I am still terrified of gaining weight. If I eat 2,000 calories a day of the right foods, am I likely to gain weight? Should I eat more or less, or exercise mor or less?"
- Amanda
Posted: 27/01/2007 at 17:46

" ... of the right foods ... "

Amanda, that eating disorder is clearly still very much there.
Posted: 27/01/2007 at 18:33

Sorry - that wasn't helpful!

Amanda, you clearly do still have a lot of the features of an eating disorder - worry about weight gain and body size, calorie-counting, concern about "the right foods" and, I suspect, using running primarily as a means to control your weight.

You're absolutely right. There are a lot of people out there, and on here, who are, or have been, in exactly the same position as you are.

And that's OK. Eating disorders are common. People come to running from all sorts of backgrounds and with all sorts of hopes and expectations. Lots of athletes have disordered or obsessive attitudes to food. You're not alone.

But I don't think the advice you can get from here is enough. Ideally, I'd like someone like you, who is running lots of miles, to be under the supervision of a coach who has a special interest, and personal expertise, in working with athletes who also have eating disorders. At the very least, I'd like the reassurance of knowing that you're getting advice from a sensible, empathic dietitian out in the real world.

The concrete answer to your question is that unless you're about 3'6" tall, on that training load you are unlikely to put on weight on 2,000 calories a day of ANY sort of foods. If you're a 4'11" size 8, it might just be enough to maintain your weight. If you're a 6'1" size 8, it won't be enough. But I have a feeling that's not really very helpful either.

As for exercising less or more ... you're already doing a substantial mileage for someone who has only been running for a year, and I wouldn't advise pushing it up any higher at the moment. An injury and an enforced break from running at the moment might just tip you back into a spiral of dysfunctional eating and despair, and nobody wants that for you.
Posted: 27/01/2007 at 19:35

RW did a very useful article, with a long accompanying thread you might want to have a look at.

I would go with what Vrap said - this isn't something you should try to tackle by 'self-help'. EDs are far too likely to kill you or take your life away, and they should not be messed around with.

I had to take more than a year off running after I was discharged from treatment - partly from being a mess physically, but also because I was using running as another way to self-harm and i had to be sure i was running for the right reasons.

Something that really helped me when I did get back to running was joining a club. Although I was very nervous about it, it really helped me to get some perspective on a normal healthy approach to running & food, and it helped me regain confidence & a social life too.
Posted: 27/01/2007 at 21:03

Amanda, joining a club is a great way to make sure that your running is under control as its so easy to pick up an injury and spoil th ewhole thing - the advice and help from clubmates is a great thing to experience and you too have a vast experience to help others

all the best...

Posted: 27/01/2007 at 21:58

Amanda, joining a club is a great way to make sure that your running is under control as its so easy to pick up an injury and spoil th ewhole thing - the advice and help from clubmates is a great thing to experience and you too have a vast experience to help others

all the best...

Posted: 27/01/2007 at 22:08

Jayne, I agree with the others and join a running club BUT make sure you test out your running club before committing to one club as they are not all equal...
All the best
Posted: 28/01/2007 at 09:31

My eating's been 'disordered' since I was a child, but towards my late teens I became increasingly weight obsessed and began starving/eating and purging. After I had my daughter (I was 23) life felt totally out of control and it all became much worse.

Started running about 18 months ago (aged 27), and was amazed at the positive effect it had on the way I felt about myself. But I think an eating disorder can be like a malevolent friend who's always there when things get bad, and I knew I was at risk of running becoming part of my weight obsession if I felt at all low.

These forums have been enormously helpful to me, because I don't feel alone with the ED anymore; there are people feeling exactly as I do. Other runners are a huge support, because they've helped me view running in a healthy context, so that my focus is now on being healthy rather than on being thin. Moreover, I know that I function so much better when I eat sufficient. Without enough fuel (I still prefer to think of food as fuel), my running's not nearly as good. Running's taught me to co-operate with my body and to feed it when it says it needs feeding!

I did go to my GP about the ED, but I can't say I found it very helpful. That said, it might work for you and I think many GP's are very understanding of such disorders.

Personally, I don't think that my relationship with food and weight will ever be 'normal'. However, I am optimistic about continuing to live a healthy lifestyle and certainly my old ways wouldn't be welcome in that now.

I wish you all the best, and do try the thread Duck Girl mentioned if you need help. It certainly helped me.
Posted: 28/01/2007 at 13:43

This is a difficult one. I'm also struggling with an ed. Its not easy. I have found that running helps to some degree. Though I did stop in the summer because it was becoming yet another obsessive means of punishing myself and hurting my body.

I think so long as you enjoy what you are doing and it doesn't become a case of making yourself go out even if you feel crap because you're scared about what will happen if you don't then that is fine.

I used to go to a running club but I left recently. It was a very competitive place, and it was just fuelling my unhealthy obsession. I'm about to try a different club that I hope will be more relaxed.

I've been through the GP and NHS. They do what they can, but basically unless you're at deaths door they are limited with what they can offer. When I did the marathon last yar I was offered a nutritionist, but the waiting lists were so long that never materialised. It might be worth seeing someone privately if you can afford to.

You do sound as if there are still a lot of nasty thoughts going on. Don't be fooled into thinking that because you are eating you are ok. Its not about the weight - theres much more to an ed than that!


Posted: 28/01/2007 at 14:29

Eating Disorders Association is also a very helpful organisation, can't praise them highly enough. Here's a link:

Eating Disorders Association
Posted: 28/01/2007 at 14:39


ejc
I can relate as I have suffered from an eating disorder, and excercise is an important part of my life for my physical and mental wellbeing.
From what you say about your training regimen and your concerns, your concern "will I gain weight" is probably best answered by a nutritionist or coach.
Perhaps the question you could ask yourself would be - is running appropriate for me right now? Running can be isolating and obsessive, as well as health-giving and satisfying, and it would be easy for it to be part of your eating disorder.
If you are underweight from what I understand revcovery from injury will take longer, and your running will be better if you nourish yourself properly.
Perhaps you should evaluate why and how you are doing what you do.
Best of luck
ejc x
Posted: 28/01/2007 at 14:58

Many years ago, I used to suffer from an eating disorder. I eventually got over the worst of it after suffering for about 3 or 4 years . It took a few more years to completely get over it. But I did. So it is a myth to say you never get over it. I took up running about 6 years ago, long after I'd got over the eating disorder. I am 5ft 8, weight about 10 stone ( I don't know exactly cos I don't own any scales) and am about a size 14 but I know that I look fairly slim because I am quite tall. I think my weight is ideal for my height and body shape and I feel good in myself, so don't feel you have to conform to what you hear is normal, it is different for everyone and depends on loads of factors. Saying you are a size 8 says nothing. If you are 5 foot 7 at that size you are possibly grossly underweight. If you are 5ft nothing then maybe you are ok. If you have a lot of muscle you could be a lot heavier and yet look a lot slimmer cos muscle weighs a lot more than fat.
As most people who have any experience of the subject, eating disorders aren't just about food. You are trying to control something in your life, this could be because you are trying to compensate for lack of control over other areas of your life, or because you have an obsessive compulsive tendencies and your food and your weight have become the expression of them. Some people replace one obsession with another, yet you have the eating disorder and as far as I can see , an excessive running regime as well, both of which are obviously connected. Do you run because you enjoy it or because you think it will help you to lose weight and makes you feel in control? I suspect the latter. I love running and I think it is beneficial to both mind and health, but not at the level you are doing it. If you ran half as much as you do you shouldn't even need to worry about what you eat in terms of calories. I wish you the best and hope some of the good advice on this thread helps you.
Posted: 28/01/2007 at 17:36

I have to say that I'm actually signed off my work at the moment. I am recovering from anorexia and bulemia. I've had cycles of anorexia since I was about 9, but I was put on roaccutane last June and it's triggered a whole host of psychological problems and my anorexia has cropped up again to the worst extent it ever has. I also had bulemia at this time. I'm getting help from my GP, and he has put me on amitriptyline which has helped, the other AD's he tried me on made things worse. I WAS also getting counselling, but that seems to have stopped. The best source of help I have had is from this forum. I'm in regular contact with the people on the Anti-depressants thread. Many of them have personally e-mailed me and phoned, especially at my worst times. I'm so glad that I found them, and I'm forever in their debt! I'm off sick for the forseeable future. I am exercising more at the moment, mostly because I'm training for a marathon, but also to keep regular contact with my club membars who have also been a tower of strength for me.
If anyone is lurking reading this has an eating disorder and wants to talk privately, please feel free to e-mail me. I've honestly found this kind of help invaluable to my recovery.
Posted: 28/01/2007 at 17:45

I'm in a similar position. Having recovered from an eating disorder, i still do copious amounts of exercise. I've been told I don't eat enough to fuel my workouts, but i find it extremely difficult to get my head round the fact that i need to eat more and it won't make me put on weight. I feel as though i'm going around in a vicious circle!!
Posted: 28/01/2007 at 19:31

In one sense I hesitate to give advice as I'm not an ED professional but I am quite scientific and I've found it really helpful to keep a log of the amount of calories I eat each day and the number of calories I burn in exercise (using my HR monitor to tell me) and my daily wieght. There's a surprising amount of fluctuation in my weight day to day depending on how well hydrated I am, time of the month etc but by weighing myself everyday and keeping a graph (in excel) I can see the general trend. I've just lost a little weight and have gone down from a size 12 to a 10/8 and I'm 1.6 m (5'3") tall. I found that on about the same amount of exercise as the lady with the original question (but not all running, some arc, stairclimber, bike etc) I lost weight on 2000 cals per day average. If you're not particularly scientific this might not be a good approach for you, but it works for me.

I reckon she'd be surprised how much you can eat on that amount of exercise and still maintain a stable weight. I also wonder if she might be better to run a bit less and so some other cardio stuff as well - it'll reduce the chance of injury.

By the way - be wary of using the "cals burned" indicated by gym machines - for me they massively overestimate compared to my HR monitor's figure.
Posted: 29/01/2007 at 02:38

It is great that Hot and Pink has a successful personal formula but just to put the other side of the coin ... sufferers of eating disorders often struggle with issues of self-control and self punishment and feel great anxiety and guilt if they fail to meet self-imposed targets, both in terms of what they eat and the amount of exercise they achieve. And sufferers also tend to set themselves unrealistic targets - to eat too little and to exercise too much.

Untold misery lies in being obsessed by calories, "good and bad" food, and the need to purge or compensate for calories taken in to the body, whether by being sick or by over-exercising, both of which are obvious means to compensate. Weighing every day induces panic: on gaining a pound or two, we know intellectually this may be linked to the time of the month or fluid balance but the lower brain tends to dominate and the reaction may well be one of fear and self loathing.

The feel I get from Amanda's message is that she is trying so hard to recover but is still caught in the loop - measuring exercise against calories and panicking about weight. And if she is anything like average weight and height she is not eating enough to sustain her programme of running and, crucially, to feel well, happy and healthy when she is not running. I'd say to Amanda to take a step back and think: is this helping me recover or taking over from other kinds of disordered behaviour? I'd urge Amanda to look for other help too, through the NHS, a private counsellor, the EDA, on-line. There is a lot of information out there.

Sorry to ramble - this is a subject close to my heart. I was anorexic briefly in my teens and have been bulimic for 21 years. I am 39 this year. I haven't been able to sustain recovery and have dipped in and out of using exercise (particulary running) to compensate for food eaten or at least to control weight gain. Most people who run do this to some extent but in an ED sufferer it takes on a different complexion.
Posted: 29/01/2007 at 10:13

Gosh, sorry, just re-read what I wrote above and it sounds both pompous and patronising! Really didn't mean it to be. You can probably tell I am quite good at "theorising" about the subject. Shame I can't translate it into getting better in real life!
Posted: 29/01/2007 at 10:18

Vinnycat
I dont think it sounds pompous or patronising at all
you are telling it like it is

I wish you all the best


that goes for all of you
x
Posted: 29/01/2007 at 10:22

Vinnycat - sensible words and exactly why I had hesitated to post in the first place. What I do only "sort-of" works for me (ate a huge amount of icecream last night - so self-loathing is top of the list this morning!). However, the spread sheet did help me to establish, for me, how many calories is enough. But you're right - it did also encourage me to try cutting them down too low and I felt awful last week - no energy at all and tired the whole time. There are no easy answers are there?
Posted: 29/01/2007 at 11:24

I've struggled with ED for nearly 10 years now. I tend to go in peaks and troughs. However I have been running seriously for the past two years. Its probably very personal to me but I've found sticking to a training schedule has helped with the obsessive part of me that has taken something away from the ED's. I also know that I need fuel inside to be able to do the long runs and sprint sessions in order to keep up with the training. I feel I am recovering. My diet is very healthy which could be seen as control but I no longer starve myself or purge to the extent I did two years ago. I'm getting there ... keep on going, its never going to be a quick fix or easy process.
Posted: 29/01/2007 at 13:48

I have had a problem over the last year or two. I find that the only way i can justify increasing my calorie intake is by training, however you need to be careful it doesnt take over your life, beacuse i know it has mine.
I am currently on 45 miles per week and unlike what everyone said, after increasing my calorie intake (to prob 1000/1500cals per day) and my exercise to what it is now, i have put on about a stone in about 3 or 4 months. My counsellor and nutritionist tells me i will lose it once my metabolism raises back to normal, but i find it hard to believe.
Posted: 29/01/2007 at 16:04

It's such a huge relief to read these threads...
I've had an eating disorder(bulimia)on and off for 16 years now (since I was a 19) and though havn't approached anyone for help or advice and try to comtrol it with exercise which always makes me feel better about myself and see food as fuel. Like others here say, it lurks in the shadows but never goes away. Strangely enough I don't see it as an illness- its just a part of me.
Posted: 29/01/2007 at 19:10

There are so many of us that have been through this and whilst I generally made a good recovery when I got out of a bad relationship and into a good one there is always the fear there and it comes back to haunt you when you least expect it. Though never the traditional form of ED, I tended to obsessively exercise, eat as little as I could without passing out (diet coke worked a treat) but would then abuse my body with laxatives. This affected me for years afterwards and the only thing that stopped this funnily enough was seeing an episode of Casualty on the TV - a young girl had taken so many laxatives that she needed a colostomy bag and it made me realise that could be me and that wasnt how I wanted to live my life.

Though there will always be a part of me that will have a tendency towards it (and I am only little I know that now) but the biggest turning point for me has been the will to succeed in my running. I realise that I am actually quite good at this running lark and have a coach who helps me put schedules together and I get great support from people around me and now the thought of letting my body break down through lack of fuel, which is something I can control, terrifies me more than wanting to lose weight,. Eating enough of the right foods, using protein drinks to help me recover and so train harder is something more important to me now and I honestly believe I have broken the cycle now.

The biggest piece of advice I can give to anyone is stay away from like minded people that havent gotten over this. I had a friend who was going through the same thing whilst I was starting to recover and it sent me on a downward spiral - TAKE SOME TIME OUT and be away from them. And dont feel guilty about this.

Little Laura - your nutritionist is spot on. Your body permanently thinks its in starvation mode and clings onto every calorie you consume and is frightened to burn it off cos it doesnt know when it will next get some. The best thing you can do is eat healthily, have protein shakes too if you find it hard to physically eat everything, at least you will be getting some nutrients (tho this is in addition not instead of).

Last but not least get yourself a goal to work towards. Something that requires you to be fit and healthy and it will inspire you beyond belief. I am training for the marathon and have not weighed myself before or during training and have promised myself I wont do so until afterwards as the last thing I want is to start trying to diet whilst running 60 mpweek!!!!

And dont shut people out, they will want to help you and let them but ultimately you are the only one that can make a difference to the rest of your life - and you will not regret it I promise you!
Posted: 29/01/2007 at 22:08

I don't know what to say apart from the fact that the thread and question has hit the nail right on the head for me. I have always suffered from an ED since I can remember. Luckily for me it has never ever got to the stage when I have been actually been put in hospital for it. However it has been known to control a lot of my life. I am now training for a marathon and know that I am not eating enough for the long runs. The problem with me is that I know I should eat properly throughout the day but I only eat when I am hungry, which isn't very often. I love running and seem to be good at it, so I don't want this to be my down fall...

However with the running it is allowing me to not have such a control on my food because I know that I will burn it off later in the day. So I am enjoying food a lot more now and not punishing myself too much when I have eaten some chocolate etc. I seem to be slightly more happy go lucky, which is something I never thought I would have with food or my figure.

But there are times, especially when I am upset or stressed where it does come back to haunt me completely. I do still want that ideal body and be that ideal woman who has a high powered job, runs marathons, does charity work and still manages to have time for a family. I know that this is completely unrealistic and tell myself this all the time... its just demons that I think I will always have and will always have to battle with.

I am sorry if I have rambled on a bit and been a bit too self obessed... not sure if any of it has been a help?!?!


Posted: 30/01/2007 at 10:04

I think sometimes it is just good to get some of this out in the open - it helps me to see how far I have come and how much I dont want to go back there again. I am now able to have 2 full rest days and eat normally even on these days and this is something I wouldnt have dreamed of before. i didnt eat a proper evening meal for 2 years. I think its a kind of self help therapy to put things on paper (or post). It will always be inside us but we have a choice about how we manage it and deal with it to make a better life.

Big thing for me was when I ran the GNR last year on literally NO training at all and was as quick as the last one when I was mega training but not eating - if that doesnt tell me something then nothing will! Was my boyfriend that pointed out I run better cos I am much stronger.

Elanor - I have posted a thread on training about how much I should be eating for a marathon and i think you will find some useful stuff on there. I have managed to increase my calorie intake from about 800 a few years ago to about 1800 daily and have put on 2 stone (and look far better for it) but I am still not eating enough for marathon training. Have a look - maybe useful.

Lots of love girls and I hope you find the strength to overcome this....(((())))
Posted: 30/01/2007 at 11:02

Thanks for your words Jelly Bebe. I think that you are right in terms of putting it all down on paper. I feel sometimes that people don't take me seriously in terms of it all because I don't look skinny or whatever people think you should look like when you have an ED. Never mind...

Could you please give me the thread on the training and nutrition? If I can do this properly then I think it will be a huge step for me! I so far haven't put any weight on but lost it and am eating but by no means enough. I certainly can tell when I've eaten properly and gone out training as I am literally flying and not tired but like last night when I did a hard session on a bowl of soup and some bread, I really suffered!

One day we'll get there...

lots of love to you all as well... take care and together we can help each other!
Posted: 30/01/2007 at 11:10

I am pants at links - sorry.

Go onto training section of the forum and the thread name is MARATHON TRAINING - calorie requirements, where can I find? And it will of course have my name next to it.

You are right - soup and bread is not enough and though you are flying at the minute there is only so long your body can cope with the training and lack of nutrition before it breaks down. and with marathon training it will be sooner rather than later. And you will hte yourself if that happens and you know you could have prevented it - then the whole process starts again because you are injured and dont wanna eat cos you cant train, but then you wont recover properly and it becomes a viscious cycle. You need to break the cycle now when you have the perfect opportunity to do so. You can do it! And there is the support on here too to help you....x x
Posted: 30/01/2007 at 11:21

I agree with you Jelly Bebe about it. I know that when I've eaten properly I am fine and the training goes really well... which should keep me focused but then the whole not wanting to get fat etc kicks in! It is certainly a viscous cycle thats for sure!

I'll have a look at your link!

take care
Posted: 30/01/2007 at 11:34

Dear Eleanor - re your first post, I could have written it myself! I've trained for three marathons and each time have not much altered my consumption of food whilst training for them (also being sick at night so dispensing with evening calories). I didn't lose much weight but boy, did I feel lousy when the training was at its height. Strange how your body hangs on in there to the weight and it's performance and energy levels that suffer. I agree we need to remember - eating means running better and more strongly and, most of all, more enjoyably. The same must surely apply to the rest of our lives - do we get more out of everything else we do if we supply our bodies and brains with a bit more energy? I also know what you mean about the drive for perfection (super job, super running, super friend and wife) and speaking for myself, I'm still coming to terms with just being me and not the person I think I should be. It's tough!
Posted: 30/01/2007 at 14:39

Vinneycat, its so strange that so many of us have the same 'ideals' if you see what I mean. I know that I am constantly striving for perfection in myself but I never insist on it in my family, friends or partner, how come I insist on it in me? Its very tough accepting who we are isn't it! As of tomorrow (already messed up today!) I am going to keep a diary of my eating habits just to make sure I am eating enough. When I trained for my triathlon I did feel a lot better for my training sessions when I ate. I suppose it is just making sure we put the right amount of fuel in our bodies, like cars!?!

Take Vinneycat
ELeanor
Posted: 30/01/2007 at 15:00

EXACTLY! (hit the nail right on the head Eleanor!)

x x x
Posted: 30/01/2007 at 15:28

Hey guys, just wanted to say thank you for posting such honest and inspiring messages. Things are crazy at work this week but I will post a proper response at the weekend, when I start rounding up your posts for a Reader to Reader update. I think it'll be a bumper article!

xxxx

Posted: 30/01/2007 at 16:54

On food/training issue - I went from my usual route taking 1 hour when I was very underweight & not eating, to the same route taking 45 mins not long after I got out of hospital at a healthy weight & a carefully measured 'correct food intake' (i couldn't have managed knowing what to eat sensibly on my own then).
Posted: 30/01/2007 at 17:39

'That Self Righteous Fool Duck Girl', that is great news and something inspiring. I have just eaten a bowl of pasta an hour ago and will go out running soon. So I am hoping that it will do me good!

Take care everyone
Eleanor
Posted: 30/01/2007 at 18:36

I'll chime in here too! I had an eating disorder in my v early twenties, and would obsessively to eat very little.

I can honestly say it has been many years since I had a problem as in making myself ill, but in truth the issue never leaves. I still have quirky eating habits, and still struggle to eat a normal amount of food in front of people.

Since I have now had 2 babies, and boy all that weight is an issue I have exercised and eaten sensibly to get back to a good size for me. I have fallen back in love with running, and am doing the LM too I needed something to aim for!!

So what I am saying is although an ED isn't something you truly ever loose, it is something you learn to live with and work around. I do think running helps as you have to have food to run, and most of us couldn't bear to fizzle out in a race due to lack of energy! I hope you girls (and boys) find the same peace I have with it-it is a long journey!
Posted: 30/01/2007 at 19:50

I have only scanned this thread after reading the initial post.

Just a quick account that might help. My wife suffered from Bulimnia and later on Anorexia. I only knew her with Anorexia. She suffered for about 15 years and took an overdose about 8 months into our relationship. All is well now. We have 2 great children and 4 years of marriage. I would say that she's over it (don't want that to sound flippant - it might be very very buried) and has a positive attitude towards food, trains at a gym 3 times per week but may be slightly body dysmorphic. What concerns me about the first post is that it appears that you are trying to tick the 'I am eating 2000 calories box' aren't I good? but then running it all off leaving very little or nothing for full body recovery. I'd say an ED is still lurking there. From experience what really helped my wife was really really really honest sessions with a proper consellor. She claims that her ED's were a coping strategy for something that was troubling her. When she first got over the ED she started to drink and so changed the coping mechanism. In the end she faced up to the 'trouble' (stuff that happened when she was a girl) and the rest just fell into place.

Hope that helps in someway.
Posted: 31/01/2007 at 23:12

Here's that link Jelly Bebe mentioned: Marathon Training

Going back briefly to what Jelly Bebe mentioned about it being good to get these things out in the open, I couldn't agree more. I have friends who have been invaluable in helping me with the ED. It's not easy to open up about to begin with, but I'm very glad I did - it arguably took away some of the hold the ED had over me, and it no longer felt like my guilty secret. Can't say my revelation came as a surprise to them (baggy clothes don't cover one's cheekbones!), most of them suspected, but that made it easier to talk to them.

I do have to be careful when it comes to keeping certain friends at a distance because they're not over ED's. Though I may most of the time feel totally over it, realistically I know I'm still vulnerable and we simply wouldn't help each other at all. Also, I try to avoid people who like to play 'amateur psychologist', whilst listening is great, I'm wary of people who start trying to unravel the mystery of why I have this issue - they're trying to help, but it usually doesn't. Perhaps we all have to find our own way through this stuff, but if there are people who offer a hand and you feel inclined to take it, then do.

Sorry, turns out that wasn't a particularly brief post!
Posted: 01/02/2007 at 12:27

Hope nobody minds if I join in. I've been really lucky as I have health insurance through work. When I started my job 2 years ago I had been making myself seriously ill for about 6 months (after 9 years of on-and-off ED, excessive exercise - at one point I was going to the gym twice a day for 3 hours at a time- starvation, binging, laxatives, diuretics - you name it, I've tried it); when I started my job I was instantly plunged into 80-100 hour weeks eating canteen food only - things just went from bad to worse. I was able to get counselling through the health insurance.
Through the counsellor I've learnt that I need to eat 3 times a day, whatever happens. I found that counting calories just made me concentrate on what I couldn't have for the rest of the day, rather than being guided by what I felt in myself. Of course, we all have to find what works for us.
If anything goes wrong, the ED kicks back in again. If I have a bad day and eat badly, it's really hard to resist the urge to purge... I find it tough as the forum is the only place I've found where I can get support (other people just don't get it), so I'm a bit worried about being discharged from the hospital next month, but I know I can always find someone on here.

I'd agree with Craig in that the only time I started to get better was when the cousnellor and I thrashed out the things that caused the issues in the first place.
Posted: 01/02/2007 at 14:35

Brave for posting that, Birthday Runner. Good luck when you are discharged from hospital, and like you say, we are here for you. There's more support on the ED thread than on all the 'what bra' threads combined. ;-)
Posted: 01/02/2007 at 14:45

Birthday runner, my wife felt the same before she was discharged from the consellor. She held on as long as possible even though she really hadn't seen the consellor for ages. I am sure they wouldn't discharge you if they thought you weren't ready. Have faith in yourself but if you really feel you need that extra bit of support there if you need it why not ask to stay because you don't feel ready but schedule a session in 6 months time. That way you've got an invite back should you need it.
Posted: 01/02/2007 at 14:46

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