I started going to the gym seriously when I was 20 years old. I would be there 3-4 times a week for an hour, running and lifting weights. At the time, I was about 140 pounds and I got down to 112 pounds. Around the same time, I moved jobs and it was an incredibly high stress job. I didn’t deal with the work so well and I developed an eating disorder that saw my weight plummet to 96 pounds. At this time I stopped going to the gym and exercising. Before this, I was always healthy and ate well. I have been a vegetarian since I was 13, and although I enjoyed the occasional bag of crisps or chocolate bars, overall I stuck to salads, fish and fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
Now I am back to 140 pounds and I would really like to slim back down to 123 pounds and be toned, fit and healthy. I am confused about how to go about getting back into shape. I know that eating healthy is really important and being a vegetarian, my protein sources are limited. I do eat fish but I try to avoid dairy and wheat as both of these seem to have adverse effects on me. In addition, I have developed a problem with binge eating. Some days I just cannot get enough chocolate. I know this is seriously affecting any effort I make to getting back into shape.
I am getting so frustrated since I really want get back into shape. I have been going to the gym for nearly 2 months now but my weight is firmly stuck where it is. I am toning up a little but the results aren’t as dramatic as they should be. What do I need to change in order to get the results that I am after and to stop this crazy bingeing behavior?
It looks like you know what it takes to be successful in losing weight and getting into shape. When you are focused on your goal, your training and diet are very solid. Now, it’s really just a matter of dealing with your binge eating issues and getting these under control since they will quickly wreak havoc with any possibility of losing body fat and keeping it off. Even when you are on target with your healthy diet plan, once you decide to binge eat and consume thousands of calories over what your body burns every day, this becomes a big problem. It doesn’t matter if you go out and run 5-6 miles if you are eating 3,000 calories over your daily energy needs. Remember that its impossible to out exercise a bad diet, so its crucial to get a handle on your eating disorder in order to live a normal life with food.
I recommend reading several books on the subject of binge eating to really understand this disorder and to learn what your triggers are for losing control with food. You will also find ways to control an upcoming binge and learn how to successfully deal with the compulsive thoughts and feelings that food can have on us. A few books I recommend are, “Stop Eating Your Heart Out” by Meryl Hershey Beck and “Crave – Why You Binge Eat and How To Stop” by Cynthia M. Bulik. These are two very good books that provide step-by-step behavioral skills you can use to help you work on dealing with your eating disorder and develop a healthy relationship with food.
While you are getting the help you need to work on your eating disorder, there are a few key steps to help you kickstart your metabolism and shock your body into burning fat. Remember, as mentioned above, your diet is the number one factor for losing weight and keeping it off so make sure to invest the time needed to work on your food issues and avoid trying to buffer them with over exercising since this is simply a viscous cycle that will never end until you truly can free yourself from emotional eating. The tips I recommend are:
#1. Try doing cardio first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. This will allow you to immediately tap into your fat stores and keep your metabolism humming all day long. You can have 1 scoop (25-30 grams) of whey protein 20 minutes before cardio workout to preserve muscle mass.
#2. Switch off between HIIT cardio (30 minutes maximum) and steady state cardio for 60 minutes and see how your body responds. Increase your cardio up to 5-7 days per week.
#3. Cut out starchy carbs and fruit after 5pm. Stick with lean protein and fibrous carbs (veggies). Stir frys and salads work great later in the day.
#4. Find cardio exercises you love. This is a big one since the exercises you really like are the ones you will stick with day in and day out. I know how great jogging is for burning fat but I just can’t stand doing it. After about a week, I totally burn out on it. On the other hand, I love riding my bike and jumping rope so these are the exercises I stick with for my regular cardio routines.
#5. Watch out for trigger foods! If you read the books I recommended above you will learn that binge eaters have certain “trigger” foods that will make it very easy to lose total control and overeat. I personally love to eat and need to strictly watch my diet on a daily basis. I have learned that there are several foods that trigger my cravings for unhealthy items, so I really try to stay conscious of these foods and keep them out of my house at all times. You might want to do this with your chocolate cravings. By not keeping the trigger foods in your house, you can avoid temptation and it will make you leave the house and travel out to find the food if you just have to have it. The more work it takes to access the food, the more time you will have to make a mental decision not to go through with the cheat and decide to choose something else that is healthier for you.
At your weight of 140 pounds, it is very attainable to lose those extra 20 pounds and get down to your goal of 120-123 pounds. Just make sure to do it the healthy way and focus on losing an average of 1-2 pounds per week and really try to read those books on binge eating to help you truly understand your disorder and learn ways to deal with it so you can have a healthy relationship with food and reach your desired goals for your body.