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Andrea's Story on "Love the Body You are in"

When I was in high school…my high school gym teacher organized our gym class throughout the year in different segments…so we had a basketball segment…a track segment…a volleyball segment and in there were certain things you had to accomplish in each of these segments in order to get an A in gym class. 

Well one of those segments was on weight management…and she used the Metropolitan life insurance tables which is a way of determining how much your life insurance is going to cost based on your weight.  The table said that at 5’ 4” I was SUPPOSE to be 110 pounds and at 5’4” and 118 pounds I was going to have to lose 8 pounds by the end of this 3 month segment in order to get an A in the class.  I had been a gymnast for 12 years at that point and was very muscular…but no one ever mentioned or considered that muscle weighs more than fat.  It’s denser than fat so it looks better and your jeans fit better but my gym teacher and these insurance tables decided it was all about the number on the scale.   

Up until this point I would say I was very connected with myself in terms of when I was hungry I ate…when I practiced more gymnastics or had a 2 hour cheerleading practice I was hungrier and I ate more….I also never thought of myself as fat or as skinny but just was cool with me as I was…then all of a sudden these external influences my gym teacher and this number on a chart said I needed to lose weight…and being a person who was always conscientious…also wanted to get good grades and also wanted to please the people around me I started to restrict my calories.   I ended up not dropping just the suggested 8 pounds over those next 3 months but 30 pounds…I dropped from 118 to 78 pounds in 3 months.   

So for the next 2 years I really struggled with this…my parents sent me to a doctor who just told my parents to make me eat…my dad would sit next to me at breakfast and make me finish a bowl of cheerios or a piece of toast…I would sneak my food under the table to my little sister who thought she was doing me a favor…if my parents would make me eat a piece of pizza I would calculate the calories and then run around the subdivision until I had burned up those calories… 

So when you abuse your body by starving it like I did…your body starts to fight back in part to protect you…one of the first things I noticed was I started to grow like fur all over my body…like peach fuzz…it’s like my body was trying to insulate me…I lost so much muscle mass that after 12 years of gymnastics I had to quit because I could no longer do a back handspring without face planting…my arms had become so weak…I had been a cheerleader for 6 years but I was so thin and had lost so much body fat that I was always freezing so after several attempts at cheering for football games I had to quit cheerleading as well…in fact there’s a picture in my high school year book of me at the last game I cheer at and my legs were purple!!   I lost my period…when your body drops below the weight you are meant to be you stop making hormones because they are made from fat in your body that I didn’t have enough of…and then after 2 years Karen Carpenter died…and her cause of death was stated as Anorexia Nervosa…she had lost so much muscle mass that her heart, which is made of muscle just stopped working…my family doctor called my parents at this time and diagnosed me with the same disease Anorexia Nervosa…loss of appetite.  Truth is it’s really not a good name for the disease…I was always hungry…and I loved being around food…I collected cookbooks…I would spend hours in the kitchen making fancy meals for my family and my boyfriend…but I just wouldn’t eat the food… 

It was really more a fear of fatness…like if I started eating I wouldn’t be able to stop…and I just had this incessant fear of going back to that 118 pounds which I was told was not a good place for me to be.   

The death of Karen Carpenter scared me and it was the first time I grasped a bit of the harm I was doing to my body…I was then sent to an ob/gyn bc my parents were concerned that I hadn’t had a period in 2 years and he informed me that when you don’t have periods for an extended period of time your internal organs start to atrophy or shrivel up and that If continued down this path I may never be able to have children…that was really the statement that started to turn me around…family was really important to me and the idea of not being able to have children was horrifying to me.   

So I knew I had to start eating and gaining some weight back but was scared to death of gaining to much or getting too fat…that’s when I decided to become a dietitian…I figured if I learned everything there was to know about food I could gain just the right amount of weight back and could do it in a healthy way.  It took me 3 more years to get my period back and guess what it wasn’t until I reached 118 pounds…turns out I was at my ideal body weight all along…

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COMMERCE, MI 48382

248 360 5350

 

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