Hi there everyone! Today I’m pleased to introduce a fellow blogger I connected with who is not only passionate about fitness, but who has recovered from an eating disorder herself. I think her perspective is especially interesting, as nowadays she’s on a quest to eat even more! Why? Well, all in the name of fitness of course! Here’s what she has to share with you:
Hey ‘life with cheeseburgers’ readers. My name is Anna-Maria and I blog @ if only barbells were pink. I am a final year Nutrition Student and a Certified Fitness trainer. I love anything fitness related and the gym has literally saved my life. I was suffering from anorexia for about 3 years and it wasn’t until I got serious about my workouts that I started recovering completely. Lifting helped me change my relationship with food and view it as fuel and not a thread.
After ‘recovering’ from anorexia and reaching a healthy weight, I got permission from my doctor and dietician to start working out. At that point I didn’t really know a lot about eating right and working out. I would do lots of cardio and under-eat in order to ensure that I did not gain any weight. Even though I was not eating enough my weight remained the same because my metabolism had been ‘ruined’ from the ED. At that time I was always feeling tired and I was not satisfied with my body. I remember complaining to my boyfriend that I was working hard at the gym, starving myself and still was not happy with my body. His response was what changes my life. He told me that if I wanted to get a firm body I needed to quit doing so much cardio and start lifting heavy. So I did. After my first REAL weight session I was hooked. The only problem was that I was still not eating enough. After my workout I would collapse on the sofa plus I was now feeling hungry. I decided that I wanted to change this. The first step was to slowly increase my calories to my maintenance calories.
Increasing calories was really scary but as I saw the changes in my body and energy levels every week I kept moving forward. Because my metabolism was ‘damaged’ I did gain some weight in the process of upping my calories to maintenance but because I was lifting most of it was muscle.
Right now, I am trying to gain more muscle, so I am doing my very first bulk. For those of you wondering what a bulk is;
bulking is the bodybuilder’s term for putting muscle mass.
In order to bulk you need to be eating above your maintenance calories (eat more calories than you are burning in a day) and lift heavy. For a gym beginner building muscles even if he is not bulking is possible but after a few months this is the only way to gain muscles.
I am currently eating slightly above maintenance calories. My diet consists mainly of whole foods, lean protein, wholegrain cereals and grains and healthy fats but I also make sure I have a few treats 2-3/week. I am a big fan of IIFYM way of eating so no food is out of limit. You can read more on IIFYM hereà http://www.pinkbarbells.com/2011/06/iifym.html
Since muscles take a lot time to grow (especially in females) a bulk must last a number of months. Ideally you would want to gain 0.5-1lb /week. My goal is to gain 8-10 more pounds so I have still got a long way to go.
I won’t lie. Bulking can be hard. Most people think I am crazy, because who doesn’t love an opportunity to eat more but for anyone with an ED past it can be difficult. Some days I will wake up feeling like the fattest person in the world, I almost cried when I had to put away my favorite pair of jeans and saying goodbye to my abs for a few months wasn’t easy …BUT I know that it will all be worth it in the end. Once I gain enough muscle I will do a short cut (eat slightly below maintenance for a few weeks) in order to reveal the muscles I have worked so hard for.
If you are a female bulker and finding it difficult this are the tricks that help me keep going:
1) I remind myself what the end picture will look like.
2) I focus on the parts I love on my body. Yes my abdominal area is not as lean as I would like it to be or as it used to be but I love my arms, back and shoulders.
3) I ignore the scale. Muscle is a lot heavier than fat so the scales tells me nothing. I just use it to make sure that my weight is slowly going up, that is all.
4) I focus on my lifts at the gym. I set goals every few months and try to reach them. Last week I actually managed to reach two of my goals (Deadlift my bodyweight and bench press 45kg)!!!! Breaking personal records at the gym is such a motivation.
Hope you enjoyed this post! A big Thank You to Justine who gave me the opportunity to share with you my experience!
Feel free to come and say ‘Hello’ over at pink barbells (www.pinkbarbells.com)
Also if you are looking for training advice and nutrition guidance to help you reach your goals please visit my ISSA website: