As a certified personal trainer, group exercise instructor and fitness writer, I know a lot about exercise and quite a bit about nutrition. I know what it takes to lose weight, be healthy and fuel my body properly. But for years I didn't practice what I preached.|
I spent years in college and shortly thereafter working out way too much, succumbing to the pressures of fitting in and trying to excel in a career where what you look like determines your skill and professionalism in the eyes of many. And all of the extreme exercise sessions (teaching multiple group fitness classes every day of the week, usually in addition to my own workouts) plus some major life changes, spiraled negatively into my eating as well. I was desperately trying to avoid the "freshman (and sophomore, junior and senior) 15" that so many warn of, and was religiously counting my calories. I was strict about keeping my caloric intake very low, even though I was easily burning thousands of calories a day by exercising.
It was a dangerous cycle. The workouts would leave me ravenous. And while I could ignore the hunger or control it for awhile, over the course of a few days, it became too strong to withstand. The hunger consumed me, and before I knew it, I was gorging on healthy and unhealthy foods alike—in unhealthy proportions: half a big bag of trail mix while writing a paper, two Pop Tarts after I was already stuffed from eating an oversized salad at lunch, a fried chicken sandwich and fries scarfed down in secret. The hunger from the extreme workouts plus the severe food restrictions pushed me to binge on foods like I never had before. Sure, I'd overeaten from time to time, but I quickly became obsessed with food and working out, and soon started using food as a way to deal with boredom, stress and sadness.
The worst part, is that I knew how bad this was for me. I was so ashamed that I was doing it, and I knew better. I would never in a million years sit back and watch as a client or friend exercised too much, ate too little, and binged uncontrollably. It wasn't until just months before my wedding, that I said enough was enough: I knew that I could no longer continue living this way. I started meditating and journaling (which helped some) and then I took one of the best steps of my life: I found a registered dietitian (RD) who specialized in disordered eating.
I had long known about RDs and how they help people with all kinds of needs—from helping people with diabetes manage their insulin levels through dietary changes, to showing clients how to fuel their workouts or eat for weight loss, to purely educating people on what foods are healthy. As a fitness professional, I had always touted the benefits of meeting with an RD; funny though that I had never been myself. Continued ›