Lately at work, everyone has been sick! We all have colds right now, and it probably doesn’t help that we all hang out with each other for 14 hours at a time on very little sleep at a super germy gym. We’re totally passing it back and forth to one another.
At the same time, a lot of us here are working towards certain fitness goals and training for sports or competitions, especially with summer coming up. Being trainers, we’re all pretty committed to it, but I’m starting to get a little hyperaware of what I’m doing, how much I’m training, and what I’m eating. While I like the discipline I’m getting back, I’m also getting a little nervous about how much I’m starting to think about my training and my diet. Because the guys are constantly talking about their food and calories and how much weight they need to cut and how if they don’t puke they aren’t working out hard enough, I’ve caught myself thinking about these same things. A lot.
The thing is, I really don’t want to. Yes, I want to be healthy and make conscious choices about my food and workouts, but I don’t want it to escalate to obsession. Because I’ve been there before, and I have no desire to let being a certain weight or size completely run my life again. In college, I was so focused on keeping my weight down (at a weight that was far too low for me, in fact), that I planned out every little thing I put in my mouth (planning isn’t bad, but the level to which I did it was ridiculous), and I ended up putting so much stress on my body with exercise that my period stopped.
So I think you can understand why getting anywhere near that territory again scares me. Before, I was influenced by other people too. All of my friends being fixated on their weight and food put in my head that I should be too. I sort of ‘caught’ disordered eating habits from the women around me (and maybe society as a whole, but that’s another post). Here it’s a bunch of guys with “athletic goals,” so no one says they have eating disorders. They admire each others’ commitment, even though sometimes it clearly is disordered behavior.
Before, when I lived with all girls in the dorms and in the sorority house, it was actually a similar situation. We talked about food and calories allll the time, and girls were always giving each other tips or asking questions on how to cut calories and fill up on the smallest amount. The girls that could eat the least seemed to have a whole lot of self control and received praise, but I think we all knew it wasn’t healthy. I happened to be one of those girls for most of college. I ate “super healthy” all the time – which actually meant that I stayed away from sweets, loaded up on veggies to stay full, and ate the least amount of calories possible while running every day. But there was also a backlash from that, with my house mom telling me I looked a little too skinny and someone starting a rumor that I didn’t eat dinner at the house some nights because I didn’t want people knowing how little I actually ate (for the record, I had to work during the little half hour window they gave us for dinner at the house.) Anyway, at one point I was living on 700-1000 calories a day (unless I drank, then it was just a little more – that’s what we call “drunkorexia,” folks), running 6-7 miles daily, and lifting a few times a week. I’m shocked I never passed out, honestly. Anyway, I convinced myself that I was just really disciplined, when in fact, I was really obsessed and had major control issues.
I do want to keep up this discipline and renewed commitment to feeling like an athlete again, but I don’t want to drive myself crazy with it as I did in the past. I already caught a cold from the guys I work with, but I’d like to avoid catching anything more serious.
What do you all think? Can you ‘catch’ an eating disorder or disordered eating from someone else? Or do you think some people are actually predisposed to EDs? Do other people influence your food and exercise choices? I really want to know how you feel about this topic, so spill!