Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Trapped: What Metabolic Damage Feels Like

That's me.  Trapped.  Former me inside the soft squishy shell that is my current self.  I live in a world where I am surrounded by people who are the epitome of fit.  Who judge other people who don't fit their ideals of what "fitness" looks like.  Who think it's perfectly acceptable to call other people chubby.  

And so I'm stuck.  There's the girl I remember 20 lbs ago who was very proud of the physique she worked so hard to get.  And she's stuck inside me just begging and screaming to get out of this body that is keeping her trapped.  This isn't a body that came from mindless eating and laziness.  It came from being too concerned with the fit body I sought comfort in. 10 months of dieting... TOO LONG!  Regardless of changes to my diet, lowering calories, more cardio, my body stopped responding.  And then started to gain weight. And then would.not.STOP!

So how did that happen?  I've heard of metabolic damage before.  I've heard of countless competitors eating nothing but tilapia and asparagus and doing cardio twice a day - an hour in the morning and an hour at night.  I was SO FAR away from that.  My meals were balanced, I ate more carbs than most girls my size, and more variety.  Cardio?  Usually 4-5 days a week, maybe 30-40 minutes.  Nothing too extraneous.  So did I think I was putting myself at risk for metabolic damage?  Not really.  I've heard of girls achieving that state after prolonged dieting, but I didn't FEEL like I was doing anything remotely extreme enough to reach that state.  So I just kept going.  BIG MISTAKE.  My body basically started to think I was living on a deserted island where food is scarce and I needed to hunt for what little game there is on my island.  So it slowed my metabolism down to protect islander Robin from diminishing away.  So no more cardio for me (woohoo) so that my body doesn't think I need to save my energy for hunting.  And I slowly have to eat more food, so that my body thinks Islander Robin's food supply is becoming more plentiful.

With my current diet, most people would lose weight following the same diet without even exercising.  Me?  Lifting 5 days a week, still gaining body fat.  So I just keep going until my body gets used to this caloric level and stops storing everything as fat, and then add in another 50 calories a day.  And then repeat until I can get my body used to an extra 350 calories a day than it's getting now.  And in that process, I'll gain more body fat.  And people will continue to judge me.  They'll continue to look at me without even bothering to mask their expression of "What the HELL happened to you?"  And I'll continue to tell them that I'm bulking for bikini, because that's just makes me laugh every time. 

I feel okay about my current body.  I'm learning to accept it.  My ass and boobs are GLORIOUSLY round when I have extra weight on.  And I like the softness to my face better as opposed to how sharp my features get when I'm lean. I don't feel insecure about myself until I hit the gym because frankly that's the only time that people stare.  To a passerby on the street, I look average - huge thanks to the obesity epidemic in America. Not big, not skinny, too much body fat to see any muscle definition.  Just a soft curvy girl.  In the gym however, I'm "chubby". 

I have at the very least 8 weeks of continued caloric increase before I can start trying to get my body fat down again.  I think it will take longer than that for my body to adjust.  This is a much slower process than I ever imagined.  But I owe it to myself to take the time and get there.  Then it's time to cut SLOWLY down to a good maintenance weight for me - which is about 12 lbs less than my current state.  If I can do that comfortably, then I can start cutting for competitions and photo shoots again.  This is a very long road ahead of me... maybe I should buy more shoes!