Words by: Miko Insame
I write this story for those of you who look into the mirror and feel continuously guilty about all the food you ate or the lack of definition in your body. This story is to tell you that there is a dark side to obsessing over things like this.
For a period in early 2016, I committed myself to lose weight. Coming out my first semester of college, people commended me for not only avoiding the dreaded “Freshman 15,” but even found ways of countering it. I had just finished my first ever theater production and the physical toll that it took allowed me to lose a bit of the weight I’d brought to college with me from high school.
Photo by: Dynamic Duo Photography
After hearing all these compliments on my weight loss, I decided to pick up a few fitness programs and diet plans and try to keep the weight off.
I’m not going to go too in-depth on the programs and weights part of the journey, because I subscribe to the belief that weight loss is all about what you eat.
Or in my case, what I didn’t eat.
Over the course of the next few months, I committed to eating healthier, including vegetables in my diet and cutting back on food that could have detrimental effects if I ate them too much. I was eating at a healthy caloric deficit of about 2,000 – 2,300 calories a day. For context, most teenage males require around 2,500 – 2,800 calories a day.
I definitely saw results, I grew leaner and my energy was up because of my daily activity.
At some point, however, things changed. Something went off in my head and began to tell me that eating less food will lead to quicker weight loss. I was young and inexperienced, so I agreed with my head and began to think that doing more is doing better.
Unfortunately, I forgot that in order to look good when you’re working out, you have to actually build some muscle so they can be seen when you drop the body fat. I began to eat hardly anything throughout the day. 2000 calories started to go further and further down from 1,800 to 1,500, 1,200 until I found myself only eating 900 calories per day.
To illustrate, 900 calories is less than half of what I needed to function at the effort I was going at. Two cups of rice make up more than a third of that calories count.
People kept telling me to take it easy and to stop dieting so hard, but I kept going. All that was going through my mind was this phrase:
“If I keep dieting, eventually my six-pack will come around.”
My six-pack never did.
All I was left with after months of dieting was a stick figure frame without any definition around the abs area.
My parents saw how far I was taking it and how unhealthy it was getting, but they couldn’t get me to eat. It seemed like the only time I’d be able to actually realize how bad it’d gotten was if something bad happened to me.
Something almost did.
One day, I arrived home from a tiring trip out of town. True to my form, I slept for barely four hours before packing my things and heading to the gym. My mother told me off, saying that the gym and the exercise can wait as well as it won’t be effective if it’s not fueled properly by actual food. I largely ignored these with blind reassurances that I’d be alright.
Until I shut the front door behind me.
I immediately felt faint and light-headed. The world spun around me as if the last few months had finally taken their toll–I had difficulty standing up or even gathering myself. I ended up laying on my living room floor, feet elevated and in a cold sweat. In this stupor, I came to the realization that if this had happened at the gym, where I trained alone and with relatively heavy weight, something serious could actually have happened to me. After all, if you black out lifting over 100 pounds over your head, you may be in for a bad time.
I took this experience as a sign that I’ve finally gone too far. This was no longer about staying healthy, it became an obsession to look a certain way that I thought was attractive.
I reset my focus to make it less about seeing my abs, and more about getting stronger every day. I’m happy to say that it’s been almost three years since that incident, and I think I look better than I ever did before.
So for those of you taking the summer to commit to yourself and give yourself a body that you think is attractive, remember to be careful. Obsession over what you see in the mirror is a very real danger and the way to counter that is to give yourself goals that aren’t visually based and to remember that dieting and exercise are not about punishing the body and depriving you of something, but it’s a celebration of what you can do physically.
With that being said, I hope you all find your summer bod dreams!
What do you think of my story? Do you have extreme weight changes on your own? Let us know!