Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sport/Fitness: Anorexia Athletica

Here is a little something I have feared a bit in my efforts to lose weight. Anorexia Athletica, or Obligatory Exercise is a potential danger. According to an article from Kid's Health, "much like with eating disorders, many people who engage in compulsive exercise do so to feel more in control of their lives, and the majority of them are female." Likewise, Eating Disorders Online says, "Anorexia Athletica is more common in people who participate in sports where a small, lean body is considered advantageous. People suffering from Anorexia Athletica may engage in both excessive workouts and exercising as well as calorie restriction. This puts them at risk for malnutrition and in younger athletes could result in endocrine and metabolic derangements such as decreased bone density or delayed menarche."

I had never really considered eating disorders with athletic people, except for wrestlers who at times do rather unhealthy things to make weight, until I saw a bit about US Women's diver Brittany Viola (right) and her problems with bulimia. I found it hard to believe someone so remarkably fit could have an eating disorder, but while body image is an issue, the real issue is typically control.

I have a bit of ADD mixed with depression. Sometimes the ADD creates depression, sometimes the depression spurs the ADD. It is a weird cycle that I have lived with all my life, but have only been aware of for a few years. Running is my new psych med. I feel better emotionally when I get regular exercise and am noticeably different when I don't. I had, for some reason (100F heat perhaps), quit running for several weeks recently and it was rather emotionally damaging. I became very depressed, and the news of the world was not helping (the Batman shooting was around this time). I got to a point where I wanted to just shut everything off. I was also at a weight plateau and was getting rather dejected that despite trying to eat right and exercise, I was not losing weight.

Then I started running again. I was a little excessive perhaps. I typically run 5km, and occasionally 5mi, but after quite a long abstinence I immediately ran 5mi the first day, and 8mi the next (my previous longest distance was 6mi). The same day I ran 8mi I also walked 3mi with the wife, supposedly burning 1723 calories, which is 200 more than my nutrition plan says I should be eating in a day. Despite eating what seemed rather a lot, I had 1000 calories left over for the day. The following day I was naturally a bit worn out, and only ran 5km. After totaling my caloric intake and exercise output I was really disheartened, and felt I did not run enough.

It is weird that when I was 241 pounds, I only cared marginally about my body image. I knew I was a fat, middle-aged man and few people expected more of me. It was not until the weight started coming off that I became body conscious. I don't think I have an eating or exercise disorder, but can definitely see that there is potential there, and body image is the culprit. My biggest concern is my stomach, which is rather distended. If you know about my gall bladder surgery, you may remember that I have an 8"-10" scar, and my abdomen has been quite weak ever since. Between running and abdominal exercise my stomach has flattened, but I still have a pronounced lump under the scar tissue. So, I know in my logical brain that I will only get so far with exercise and weight loss in this area, but the irrational side will still think of ways to make me crazy about it.

So, I did not mean this to scare anyone away from exercise and/or weight loss. As an old-ish man I will tell you, it only gets harder. Exercise and a healthy weight will prevent numerous problems as you age. Just be smart about it, and be on the lookout for dangerous issues like this. Sometimes it is hard to accept slow, steady progress, and plateaus can be terrible, but excess can be an awful thing. Moderation in all things.


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Annemarie said...
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