Something I have thought about a lot since opening my eyes to the disordered way I used food and exercise to stay thin, was “Did I do permanent damage to my metabolism?” This is obviously something that is not REALLY a measurable thing. I can get blood work done, but what does it really show? It shows that things like my thyroid was “within normal range” but at the very low end. My doctor has said I “might” have insulin resistance (not diabetes) because of the medications I am on. But what can you really attribute to it?
Anecdotally, I can say that after I had Logan I really struggled to lose the baby weight. I reduced my already very low calorie intake in order to lose that last 20 pounds. I started doing keto when that didn’t work and not only was I eating VERY LOW CALORIES and exercising my normal amount, I also cut out all carbs!!! (It is generally recommended not to count calories when doing keto and just focus on the carb intake etc.)
I was recently listening to a podcast called iWeigh. It’s Jameela Jamil‘s podcast and she’s freaking awesome. She is very outspoken about weight, body shaming, diet culture and the damage she has done to her own body. She said after she healed her eating disorder and was healthy for 6 years, she was told that she had done permanent damage to her body because of her restriction.
There are stories about this all over if you really look for it.
“Six years after dramatic weight loss on the TV show “The Biggest Loser,” most contestants in a recent study had regained the pounds – and on top of that, their metabolism had slowed and they were burning fewer calories every day than they did before their stint on the show. (source)”
“The group as a whole on average burned 2,607 calories per day at rest before the competition, which dropped to about 2,000 calories per day at the end. Six years later, calorie burning had slowed further to 1,900 per day, as reported in the journal Obesity, May 2. The slower the metabolism, the more a person has to cut back on calories in order to keep from gaining weight. Six years later, calorie burning had slowed further to 1,900 per day, as reported in the journal Obesity, May 2. The slower the metabolism, the more a person has to cut back on calories in order to keep from gaining weight.”
I share these anecdotal stories because I think it’s important to think about when it comes to diet culture. It’s something no one talks about. They don’t talk about how 95% of diets fail and you gain the weight back (and usually more). They don’t talk about that each time you weight cycle it does damage to your body and makes it harder and harder to lose any weight.
And it’s harder because your body adapts and you need to reduce calories and increase exercise often to see ANY changes. Your body burns fewer calories at rest, or activity. I saw that over the 10 years I maintained my weight loss. If I gained any weight during that time and tried to lose it, I had to get very severe in my methods.
When I was in the thick of all of this, I didn’t notice the things that were happening to my body–the extreme fatigue, the hair loss, irregular periods, mood swings, etc. I don’t know what the cause of autoimmune diseases are, but I sometimes wonder if I did something to contribute? Hormones are all connected…In the reading I did I saw that some studies suggest that extreme dieting or excessive exercise can affect thyroid function.
What’s the solution?
Avoid drastic calorie cutting.
Have a balanced diet.
Regular physical activity that includes rest
These are all the things I’ve been trying to do for the last 4 years. I don’t know that I’ve seen any changes quite yet, other than the mental benefits. 🙂