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Avatar universal

Metabolism Devastated Post-Anorexia

was anorexic, about 2-3 years ago. I'm 5'3", and at my lowest I got down to about 95 lbs. I got into treatment, and starting eating to gain back the weight, but I couldn't make the gaining stop. Eventually, it got to the point where I was eating 1800 calories a day, swimming 3 hours a day (with a team) and still gaining ~2 pounds a week. I couldn't understand it. We went to every doctor we could think of, testing thyroid levels, taking blood tests, but everyone just insisted that everything was normal, that I just had to wait until my metabolism moderated itself.

It's not moderating itself, and it's been 2 years. I gained up to a high of 170 lbs, at which point I started taking an appetite suppressant and using a very low carb diet, 1000 calories a day, and was able to lose ~30 pounds. Then, I tried to readopt a more normal diet...and gained back 10 pounds and counting. Now I'm back to 150, and eating 1000 calories, approx 75 grams carbohydrates per day, and I continue to steadily gain a pound a week; relatively sure it's not muscle.

Additionally, I've sometimes wondered about potential blood sugar abnormalities. Sometimes, if I eat a "normal" amount of sugar (for instance, if I eat a cookie, and am not able to immediately combine it with protein) I get piercing headache that lasts for hours. Do you think blood sugar could cause the inexplicable confusion mentioned below?


I'm honestly getting close to depression right now. I have breakdowns on a weekly basis, it seems, because everyone's giving me advice like "Oh, just eat a normal diet of 1800 calories and lots of fruits and veggies and everything will even itself out" and "Exercise and weight lift!". Check, check, check, check. This isn't normal, please trust me; it's not that I don't know how to eat or that I don't exercise. According to predictions, my metabolism is about half of what it should be, and I have no idea how to get it back to normal. I feel so alone, and sometimes just get so angry at my body that I just want to hurt myself, because I feel like I'm never going to live a normal life where thinking about what I can and can't eat consumes every second of my day.

Please. If anyone has any ideas, I need them. As a result of this incomprehensible disorder, I have developed severe depressive and obsessive behaviors in relation to food, because I have to maintain constant control over what I eat in order to not balloon out of control (Example? I ate 1500 calories for ONE DAY instead of my normal 1000, still exercising 45-60 minutes daily, and I discovered that I had gained 2 pounds in the week that took place during my next weigh-in). I have lost my ability to feel emotions other than self-disgust and frustration, because whenever I try to relate to other people, I run up against my brick wall of envy, that they don't have this secret demon they have to battle every single day. I've never been in a relationship as a result, and I'm terrified that I'll never be comfortable enough with the mystery that I have become for that to be a possibility. So I appeal to anyone who might have any inkling, or know where I could go as I try afresh to find some solution to this...right now, all I can see looking into the future is cycle after cycle of self-hatred and frustration, with myself never finding happiness or contentment, and that future terrifies me...you have no idea how much of a godsend it would be to know once and for all why I have the metabolism (literally) of someone in a permanently catatonic state.

Thank you for your considering my dilemma
20 Responses
Avatar universal
Well first off, thanks so much for giving us as much info as possible. The more the better!
I will say it sounds strange that your metabolism didn't regulate itself after 2 years of eating healthily, especially when you suffered anorexia for a relatively short period of time. I can imagine how heartbreaking it must be to see little improvement when you are doing all the right things.
If you are not on any medications and are positive that there are no other underlying medical issues, then my only guess is that it is related to the food you are eating and the exercise you do. I don't doubt that you put on weight quickly during recovery, and my guess is you continued to eat the "appropriate" amount in hopes that your metabolism will eventually regulate. But because it can take up to a year for the body to believe it won't be starved again, it continued storing while you passed the ideal weight range for your height and body type. I found my weight to be most controllable when I added calories a little at a time. I  kept my workouts pretty intense and made sure to nourish my body with the most important nutrients, in very small, but frequent meals. If I went from complete deprivation to a "normal" diet, my weight would've skyrocketed quicker than I'd be able to burn it off.
You definitely have the right goals in mind, so please don't resort back to your old ways. I'm assuming it all switched too quickly for your body to understand, and now you're just having a tough time losing it. I want to suggest cutting back on calories but as long as you can trust yourself that it won't get out of hand. Your weight will drop again like it did before. When you reach a weight you're happy with, don't add calories right away. Just continue to keep things regular so your body can adjust. Give it lots of time.
If by then you continue to drop, add 100 calories or so, keeping your exercising up. By then your body should have a better idea of what's going on and you'll be less likely to store the calories.
Avatar universal
No offense, but your suggestion that I simply drop calories until I reach a normal weight is a little bit laughable, because
A) I've been trying to do so for months/years
and
B) I was told to never drop my daily consumption below 1000 calories...I currently consume between 1000 and 1350 calories per day, and exercise 400 calories a day (about 40 minutes) almost religiously. And I still gain weight. So dropping any further doesn't really seem like a possibility, and, in any case, won't solve the underlying issue
My metabolism is, from what I can tell, about two steps above my being in a coma. My resting heart rate floats around 50 bpm, and my basal metabolic rate must be at least half what it should be according to my age, height, weight, etc.

I need to figure what is CAUSING it to be impossible for me to lose weight, not just try to cover up the cause by addressing only a symptom.

Thanks for your contribution, but I think you might be missing the problem slightly .
Avatar universal
i feel your pain i can only eat about 500calories and exercise 3 hours a day to be skinny. ive been anorexic on and off all my life. I recently ate normal 1200 calories daily and exercised  for 4 months and gained 30 pounds. im depressed now i feel disgusting and am to emberresed to go out and socialize becuase i feel too fat :( everyone says im healthy this is the weight my body wants me to be, but im 5.3" and weigh 138 pounds which looks like alot for my height. ive tried to lose weight by eating healthier but it doesnt work the only thing that works for me is my 500 calorie diet. i also suffer from chew and spit episodes trying to stay within the 500 calories. My metabolism  *****, and im tired of seeing people eat all the time and not exercise and still be skinny. My ex was like that and i couldnt stand it. just wanted to let you know your not alone. i know you said your eating 1000 calories a day but what kind of calories are you consuming for me when i eat more protein and vegies and cut carbs is when i notice a difference. but it takes alot of discipline and sometimes its to hard for me to control so i cut it out completly out of sight out of mind, right. you know how some people say it only takes 1 bite to satisfy your chocolate craving (for me 1 bite can lead to too many bites)  kinda rambling on sorry.
Avatar universal
I can completely empathize with your present mindset and physical reality.  I feel the exact same pain, frustration as yourself.  After seven years of anorexia and severe restricting...my body seems to have become quite skeptical of "normal" caloric intake...I too have GAINED weight while exercising daily (1-2 hours) and eating around 1000 kcals per day..I should be eating more, according to my "team"of professionals...but eating what I was "supposed to" resulted in my gaining too much weight too fast (I left an inpatient program for anorexia in February)..I have been battling edema, my muscles and joints hurt, I have problems digesting food (spontaneous reflux)....it's as if my body has forgetten how to respond to food properly, refuses to believe I am finally feeding it over 500 kcals/day, and chooses to store all "fuel" received into water and fat reserves.  I too wonder if there are insulin..or digestion of carbohydrate issues and will be seeing a specialist soon to address these issues (on the recommendation of my eating disorders team...as they too are somewhat perplexed)...At my lowest, and sickest point I weighed 32 kilos (5'1") last December...and I now weigh 59 kilos! (130 pounds?)  This is far too much for my height or "comfort zone"...I dreaded being told the numbers at weigh-ins...but I knew I was inexpliquably gaining based on my "normal" clothes no longer fitting...
I know this is of little solace or help to your current situation...which we unfortunately share..but if I find out any possible answers for you after my exams...I promise to share them with you...Courage to us both..
1550134 tn?1294022255
oh my gosh. i literally am about to cry reading this. the same thing is happening to me. i don't even know how to begin. i was 240 lbs (2005), lost a ton of weight (120lbs by spring 2008), became anorexic, discovered chewing+spitting (DONT TRY IT, IT WILL RUIN YOUR LIFE I BEG OF YOU...PLEASE!!) and was down to 101 lbs (spring 2009) at my lowest. lingered between 105-108 for about a year. i'm 5'7 ...i slowly put 10 lbs on over 2 months (nov/dec), then about 5 more in 2 more months(feb/march). suddenly i was +10lbs in a month and a half more (may) and by august, 130lbs. gradual, annoying. 137lbs by end of sept. by christmas i'm now 155. SERIOUSLY? i eat about 1000-1200 cals and exercise an hour every day, weights 3x a week. thyroid is low but still "normal"... i am devastated. i want to be 125-130. its my "happy" self. not about numbers, i felt best there. i can't stop gaining weight. lost my period for three years just NOW started getting it back in november. i eat completely healthy. no pasta, bread, nothing. no meat, only seafood, egg whites, tofu, etc. 60-65% of my diet is veg/greens. only starchy thing i eat his oatmeal and fiberone cereal (the little sticks, haha weirdly i enjoy them). no dairy except fat free cottage cheese and yogurt. i drink almond milk or propel/water/coffee. i do use a lot of sweeteners. but otherwise what the hell gives!!!  please help. im so depressed and its ruining my life. should i get a BMR? how/where?
Avatar universal
I'm not a very active forum member, but I have been through this. I hear your pain and I want to help. Please e-mail me at ***@**** if I can offer some support. Much love.
Avatar universal
nitwhit846 at aol *******
Avatar universal
I really sympathies with everything you e been saying. I've been recovering from an eating disorder. When I went in my weight was really low so when I ate and gained it was normal and eventually sped my metabolsim right up and I was a normal weight. When I got out I ruined it and wanted a lower weight and in the process slowed my metabolsim. Now its like I can barley eat anything without gaining 2 pounds. And it keeps me from eating because I know my healthy weight and my metabolism just won't restore itself without going above that and who knows if It would kick in. I seriously consider just dropping the weight again and stating all over. Because I really do want to get better it's just not working and it's devestating
Avatar universal
I would recommend reading "the adrenal reset diet" by dr. Alan christianson. He talks about how our bodies when put through a lot of stress (i.e. losing weight, under eating, over exercising) become extremely resistant to losing weight and can gain weight due to hormonal imbalances. As is clear from everyone else's comments you are not alone. As is clear from this book (and my own experience. I gained about 30 lbs eating 1000 cals a day...) there is a light at the end of the tunnel. He also has a great blog.

Have you gotten your basal metabolic rate tested? That could help... I definitely think there is something wrong though. Have you tried meeting with a functional dietician? They try and get at the root cause of what is going on instead of putting on a band-aid. I assume you've been tested for hashimoto's, cushings, insulin resistance?

I wish you the best of luck. Don't give up. Our bodies are delicate and when we treat them poorly they sometimes don't know what to do. (And sometimes we don't realize we are treating them poorly!)
Avatar universal
Ohmygoodness I feel as if you are telling my story! This is what is happening to me too. :( Did you ever find anything out?
Avatar universal
look up adrenal fatigue
Avatar universal
Try ashwagandha root powder, its adaptogenic for your adrenals
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