Getting through Anorexia via the rain…


The Match

Now I may be wrong with this but what I’m about to write is purely my interpretation of a condition from the outside in. I have never known anyone with illness nor have I gone through this issue personally

Because of this, I may be more than slightly off the mark with some of my suggestions and perceptions of things but hopefully the gist of the message should ultimately remain the same.

If you are well informed on this subject and wish to correct me on certain aspects of it then feel free to in the comments.

The Spark

Anorexia is a mental state I believe that people utilise in order to form a belief of control in an environment they feel increasingly unable to influence. Perhaps this is due to a spiraling notion of being unable to get themselves or loved ones out of a certain predicament. So they turn to the one thing they eventually realise they are in control of , which is theoretically the only thing any of us have control over.

One’s own actions and one’s own body. Specifically an action to control the body’s look through controlled nutrition intake and an active lifestyle.

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I’ve also noticed another form of it and its either due to

  1. Artificial stimulants used just to keep up with a busy lifestyle
  2. Trying to overcome a current traumatic experience(whether to yourself or to support another person) and you literally forget to eat while still burning out.

In this case of the first example`, the resultant effect of weight loss on the body, is a symptom of the requirement to regularly take that stimulant to keep you going.This resembles to some extent the life of a celebrity rock and roller, who may spend extended time on the road, staying up till god knows when doing god knows what. It could also easily end up being the tale of the student with a million essays due, who also has to work their way through paying for higher education (sometimes with multiple jobs), burning the candle out at both ends. In this instance, the candle being their own bodies.

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With the latter, this is more of a control of one’s actions, actively neglecting their own wellbeing,  in the persuit of making someone else feel better. This generally involves working at hyper mode and having lots of sleepless nights. It may also occur in a person with a relative or close friend with a disability of degenerative disease who is constantly in and out of the hospital and they wishes to spend the majority of their time with the sick individual, neglecting their own welfare in the process.

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In any case, you rarely find these two notions to be mutually exclusive and you find one often blurs into the other.

There is a third notion here which comes in from our interpretation of media and our need to fit in with what is considered to be attractive and while this may provide a bad relationship with food going forward, I’m not sure how many extreme cases of anorexia develop based on this alone. I would say at the far end of the spectrum, there are some catwalk models who are pressurised into keeping small frames for designer’s clothes to drape off them majestically. Then there are the younger girls who try to emulate them. However I don’t believe the majority of people who’ll end up reading this  fall under this category and I’m better trying to reach the masses with this post, so I’ll park this category for now.

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The Ignition

S0 with any of these cases, two things generally happen.

People ingest far less calories than they require to maintain their weight. This causes the body  on the first instance to burn fat reserves but if the calorific intake is insufficient, the body goes into a catabolic state and starts to attack the muscle (This usually happens if the intake of calories is less than say 1100 calories per day and your body goes into a state of starvation) for a fuel source instead. Your muscles then waste away in order to fuel your basic sedentary functions and you undergo a process called muscle atrophy.

So by the time you have depleted most of the muscle and fat reserves in your body, you are left with pretty much skin, bone and basic organ function. Your body switches and shuts down all non essential functions and you basically revert to a life support state to feed the brain and the heart.

At these levels, you are at severe risk of your immune system failing and a simple infection claiming your life, your reproductive organ functions basically shutdown, your nervous system goes on holiday to Sweden for two weeks and you are realistically on borrowed time.

It’s not often for people to not recover if this keeps up without any sort of intervention, especially with everything else going on in their lives.

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To be fair, it’s kinda a bleak way to go.

Does this somewhat unhealthy relationship with food have to always lead to this?

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The Flame

Now alot of people assume that this form of control and micromanagement of your dieting is unhealthy and to some extent, it very well can be, however, I think alot of people attempt to try and deal with this Anorexia as a whole in the wrong manner. This is especially the parents of those who may have children going through it.

I believe most patients are subscribed a very normal and somewhat intimidating meal size in order for these individuals to gain weight, all while trying to come to grips with the psychological triggers.

This is in order to try and somewhat forcefully release them from the shackles of their unhealthy body image and relationship with food all while, trying to tackle the psychological issues they have simultaneously.

However there isn’t any means to this rapid end of weight gain apart from ‘it’s good for you and you won’t end up dying’. Even though this states the clearly obvious, unfortunately it’s not always enough to steer someone in the right direction and avert them from serious health issues.

When this doesn’t work, some are even force fed, either through the mouth or intravenously.

But to plenty of people, being in this condition of people telling you you are ill and you are required to finish a meal  or even worse, strapped down and fed against your will is just another level of further lack of control.

At this stage, you find that some people end up taking the only approach left when they have no other form of control at their disposal.

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The Heat

I’m a firm believe in this instance that if someone is somewhat naturally inclined to feel a certain way towards their calorie intake and diet, rather than necessarily deeming the whole process as a negative, one should pick up the skills applied to that trait and determine whether it would be of any value in another form before coming out with an exit plan.

You often find most traits society naturally deem as antisocial can be harnessed for the benefit of the majority if the applicable skill sets are transferred elsewhere.

For example

  •  Hiring a fraudulent internet hacker to help build and test security systems
  • Turning a pick pocket into a world class street magician
  • Developing a youth with a history of assault into a world class MMA fighter.

I also believe that if this other form is structured and repetitive enough and allow the individual to grow with the clear understanding that their success/failure is entirely in their hands, it can become a significant life line to their recovery.

Now in none of these instances will the Onus be on forcing the individual to confront the reason they initially felt powerless or to unveil stress beacons that kept them shifting at a trillion miles an hour. In each case, it would provide a healthier form of structure for the individual to climb out of that pit all by themselves.

Once on that journey, it should provide them with the building blocks to get up off their knees and seek help independently of others. I believe it is only when someone is strong enough and secure enough within themselves to acknowledge to others that they have an issue that they are truly ready to confront it.

The Burn

We often have an unhealthy relationship with seeing anorexic people on tv and in magazines but I want to ask you, do you think there is any real difference bodyfat wise between these two individuals?

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Most would suggest that the lady on the left has less fat than the one on the right. Most would be wrong

Infact, they both probably have very similar levels of body fat on them. I would go as far as to say perhaps the skinny lady on the left has a higher body fat percentage than the one next to her.

The only real differences to their physiques is that the one of the right has significantly more lean body mass (Aka Muscle) than the one on the left, making her appearance somewhat more appealing.

Yet the one on the right has managed to utilise her lower body fat content to her advantage, while avoiding catabolism and muscle atrophy for significant financial gain. Her name is Andreia Brazier, professional fitness model and  two time International Federation of Bodybuilding World champion.

Apart from  the necessary training in order to build up that muscle in the first place, she had to have undergone a very similar (albeit more stable) calorific deficit as the person with Anorexia in order to shed the layers of body fat and show off that physique underneath for each of her competition wins.

Yet one is deemed a victim by society while the other is idolised.

So my observation throughout all of this is that why aren’t more people with anorexia steered towards something just as physically demanding along the lines of fitness modelling, weight training, power/Olympic lifting/crossfit in order to re-educate their relationship with nutrition??

Surely an approach to gaining lean muscle mass either for aesthetic or performance purposes as prescribed by a proper trainer and nutritionist is the way to go non?

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The Smoke

One of the real hidden differences between an anorexic diet and a resistant training based  diet is that you cannot neglect the importance of nutrition. In order to get the bodies that are shown off in fitness magazines or the level of performance required to lift a given weight, you need to have a really great relationship with not only food but the right amounts of it at any given point in time.

Proper  nutrition and rest becomes the main focus, and this needs to be maintained constantly in order to keep yourself in shape. A controlled calorie diet with a steady increase in not only calories (controlled increases of between say 300 calories each time) but the right balance of macronutrients in order to maintain that growth in lean body mass and make sure the body has a good intake of non processed carbs and essential fats.

TO be fair, for any person wishing to stay in control of their physique and weight and body shape, Resistance based training for aesthetics of performance purposes  (alongside its nutrition plan) is probably about as intense as you can get and requires a higher amount of dedication to the small details than anorexia ever could.

SO why not recommend something at least initially that meets the anorexia victim somewhere in the middle and allows them to focus on another goal (which is effectively what anorexia is, a detrimental focused health goal) which heavily relies on the same type of nutritional awareness and dedication? However this one has rewards, milestones and praise alongside it? All while building the psychological characteristics involved to grow stronger?

Not that I know too much about the treatment of anorexia but it just seems odd that this skill isn’t always used to focus the individual into an area where they could benefit in someway from it, while developing a new relationship with food.

The Ash

I had come up with this after starting a health kick last year and while cutting my own body fat down, I remembered a programme I watched on tv about anorexia and the two things just clicked together. It became glaringly obvious and I was wondering why anyone else hadn’t caught on to this. Perhaps it was too good to be true.

I then came across two different examples (potentially isolated) of individuals who had used this process to get themselves out of anorexia (I’m not saying it worked on its own but it may have contributed to their success).

The first one is a user named heidismommy on the bodyspace forums who has literally transformed her body and her entire life from the grips of anorexia.

We are all used to  seeing the health transformation pictures of overweight people to fitter healthier versions of themselves but you are never really confronted with the transformation from the opposite side of the spectrum. Her story really stuck up to me and to the thousands of followers she currently has on bodyspace.

Her motivation was ultimately her girls but her victory was her own.

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The extremes of hr condition as well as her tracked progress to recovery can be found on her profile page below, it really is something special.

http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/community/progress-photos/heidismommy

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The second was a male example, A youtube fitness and professional food eater named furious Pete, who last year posted a video and how he battled with anorexia to become the man mountain he is at the moment.

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You often associate anorexia with women and it’s a highly female focused environment but it’s just as easy for men to feel as out of control of their lives and spiral into an unhealthy body image.. We often see males and females tend to be treated differently when it comes to things like this but when I see both of them utilising the exact same methods to get them out, then surely, something must be quite special about the technique itself.

Here is Pete giving the low down himself

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The smoulder

Now I’m not here to say this will eventually solve the root problem but at the very least it should curb that loss of control people feel over their lives and should be able to bring not only some calm, routine, discipline and respect for themselves and their bodies but should anchor the person enough to allow themselves to catch the root cause issue of why they originally felt helpless.

You find through any sort or repetitive training (running cycling, martial arts) that the mind eventually starts to wonder and you start to unravel alot of things about yourself, many times it’s not the things you would particularly like but through the training you inherit character traits you didn’t think exist within you. It’s these character traits such as

  • Perseverance
  • Patience
  • Consistency
  • Commitment
  • Confidence
  • Self respect
  • Strength of candour
  • Balance
  • Virtue

and a whole bunch of others that will filter into all other aspects of their lives to make them stronger, so when ‘they’ are eventually ready to bring up and start to overcome the triggers of the original anorexia, they are in a position to tackle it head on and grow from it, rather than still feeling inherently powerless when pressed to deal.

Anyway, this is just me with an idea. Like I said, i have no history of this or any medical or academic history in this area.  I may be completely off but I just thought I’d offer you all some food for thought, please let me know how it tastes

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