Thursday, September 18, 2008

Overdue: The bodybugg Discussion

I know in past posts I've referenced a time when I was on the bodybugg. If you watch NBC's The Biggest Loser, you may have seen the little armband device on its contestants the past few seasons.

I've been putting off writing about my time on it because it was, honestly, a miserable time. That, and I wanted to give you more of my exercise/fitness backstory first. However, what happened with Brandon last night (read his entry), made me revisit my time on the bodybugg and why I went on the damn thing in the first place.

Though I've never had the best body image ever (hellloooooo, i'm female; it's in my genes to hate my body at some point or another), self-loathing never got bad until I started working at 24 Hour Fitness.

Crazy, I know.

I started working at 24 in December 2006. I needed a job and I figured one where I'd get a free gym membership would be awesome. So, I started working as a front desk receptionist (later: service representative), working the front desk, checking people in, stocking shit, cleaning shit (sometimes literally). I worked out often, but never crazily.

In March 2007, I got my body fat tested. 29.something%. Hasn't been that high since who knows when. I drank the Kool-aid and got some of the fat burn pills ... stupid idea since the start of March is the start of college hockey playoffs which means road trips for me, a lot of work and not a lot of time to work out and/or eat healthy.

Once hockey ended, I started a food and exercise diary - something I'd done off and on throughout college - on May 21, 2007. I don't remember much of why I started it, but I knew I wasn't happy.

On May 27, 2007, I snapped somehow. I refer to it as a nervous breakdown, though when Brandon looked his incident up, it was more like a panic attack. In any case, something happened. At 3:15pm, I went for a bike ride that lasted about a mile. I went down to the park, took a path I'd never taken before. I don't even remember seeing the parked trailer, but I pedaled right into the back of it. It shook me some. I felt like I had to get out, wander. But, since I just cycled into the back of a trailer, I didn't trust myself on a bike, much less behind the wheel of a car.

So, I turned around, went home, put my bike back in the garage and started walking. I walked to Target.

4:15pm: SNACK: 20 squares raw sugar cookie dough (circled later because it was bad food), 1 roma tomato, 3/4 mini cheese pizza (circled), 10 oz Dr. Pepper (circled)

I kept walking. And walking. And walking. I walked halfway to a friend's house but didn't continue because some voice inside me said not to. I turned around. I took a few pictures. Eventually, I made it back home. Six or seven miles later, I made it back home.

7:45pm: SNACK: 1 large slice cantaloupe, 24 oz H2O (none of it circled).

Not too much was circled after that, though the circles came back in early-mid June.

We had an intern trainer at the gym that summer. He bugged and bugged me to do a free session with him, to work whatever I wanted. Finally, I caved; said I wanted to work on core. That was on June 29, 2007.

2:30pm: GYM: plank 3 min, side plank 1 min, 20 ball hamstring things, 5 min bosu balance tosses w/ 4lb med ball-exercise ball, butt bridges w/ leg raises on ball (~ 2 min), bridged butt raises (10) on ball

I might also mention that was the first of three workout sessions that day. Another later at 5pm and hockey that night at 9pm.

I don't remember the exact day I started it, but less than a week later, I was on the bodybugg. It was my birthday gift to myself.

One that later ended up being worth three and a half months of misery.

The plan laid out for me on the bodybugg was to burn 3500 calories a day (remember, i was training for my first tri at that point - or trying) and eat about 750 fewer calories than that (so, what, 2800ish? my math sucks). I also needed to try and aim for a 60/20/20 breakdown - have 60 percent of my calories come from carbohydrates, 20 percent from protein and 20 percent from fat (so about 40g a day).

Those of you reading probably know what the "typical" "average" American diet is - you can easily get 40g of fat in a meal, much less a day.

However, in the early going, I didn't care too much about that. Didn't care ... until my weight wasn't going down like it should. My body fat was slowly edging down about according to plan (got my fat pinched every two weeks), but the weight wasn't budging.

I know part of that now was probably muscle weight as I tend to put on muscle fairly easily. That, and my brother is convinced that our family just has denser bones. I weighed 152 pounds senior year of high school. No way could you say I was fat. But, at 5'9", that's technically a tad higher than the experts say I should weigh.

In any case, I started watching my food more closely. Cutting out more and more things. Switching from regular bacon to turkey bacon. Regular eggs to Egg Beaters. Cutting out butter/margarine (or, in my family's case, brummel and brown) for no spread or just Simply Fruit strawberry spread on my whole wheat toast. Unless I went for sushi, I pretty much quit eating out. Even at sushi I cut out one of my favorites - the shrimp tempura roll. I bought a food scale and measured out everything I ate. I frustrated the hell out of my mom trying to get a recipe for foods she'd been making from pure memory for years just because I needed to log it into the bodybugg. I spent hours in the gym and running in the backyard and going for walks to meet and beat my step goals and make sure I burned at least a 1000 calories more than I was taking in so I could make that number go down.

I tried my damndest to get to and adhere to that 60/20/20 breakdown. It'd be 7pm, I'd need dinner and need x amount of protein, x amount of carbs ... but it could only have 2 grams of fat.

I pretty much stopped eating what my family ate. I joke a bit about it now, but I was basically down to eating Egg Beaters and oatmeal (and apex bars and some vegetables).

The number on the scale still really wasn't moving.

Did I look good near the end? I'll let you decide:
August 25, 2007. Still had two months to go on the bodybugg.

I looked good enough to feel confident about pulling off a hoochie top like that for going out dancing with my friends.

But look at my face. It's completely joyless.

Part of it, I'm sure, was due to eating like total shit the night before thanks to a friend's 30th birthday party. But then I went out the next night, danced as best I could (hard due to how miserable I was) and didn't touch a drop of alcohol even though everyone else I was out with was enjoying a drink.

I never fully recovered from that day in May. I had one day of happiness after that - August 5, 2007 - the day of my first tri. The endorphins were high enough that I felt good. However, it is important to note that I didn't treat myself for finishing the tri.

8:20am: GYM: 1/2 mi swim in 21 min, 11.4 mi bike in 43 min, 3.1 mi run in 32 min -> tri in 1:47:22
10:50am: SNACK: 1 banana, 1 cinnamon-raisin bagel, 1 Apex apple pie fruit fuel bar
~ 10 oz fruit punch Powerade, 14 oz H2O
2:30pm: LUNCH: 1/2 slice orange, 16 grapes, 1 16oz Jamba Juice protein berry pizzaz smoothie
5:00pm: SNACK: 3/4 c bran flakes w/ 1 packet Splenda + 1/4 c 1% milk
7:30pm: DINNER: 1 turkey mignon, 1 1/4 c green beans, 2 c mashed potatoes
~ 12 oz H2O

The depression, or funk, or whatever I was in never went away. It became harder and harder to plaster a smile on my face at work. The trainers whom I was friendly with knew something was up and said, "we're pulling for you." Same with the members I was friendly with. My direct manager knew something was up, but except for the smiling and a bit more bite toward rude customers, I still performed my job duties to the best of my ability.

The club manager, however, was mad I wasn't smiling (let's not go into how i never get greeted with a smile when i go to that club now ... unless someone i know is working the front desk) and greeting customers. I started working more and more shifts in Kids Club since, supposedly, CM was getting complaints about me.

Eventually, I was in a meeting with CM and DM. CM basically told me to get happy or I was fired.

Then expected a week turnaround. Ha. Right.

I knew the end was coming. The job had sucked the soul out of me and ruined my body image.

I turned in my two weeks and shitcanned the bodybugg. $200 still sitting in a box in my closet.

Another picture of me from that year doesn't exist until October 13, 2007 - two days after I quit the food diary. Probably two days after I quit the bodybugg - I don't honestly remember.

I do remember the day I quit the bodybugg. I took it off my arm at work - it had been giving me a weird rash-thing for about a month at that point - and said I was taking a break. I walked to the gas station, bought a Bon Appetit cheese croissant, coffee and hell, maybe even some Hostess chocolate donettes. I don't think I worked out for a month.

Basically, three and a half months of hard work went down the toilet in three weeks. Almost all my hard work - gone.

I don't think I fully recovered until mid-December, 2007. It was at that point I went on tInvasion - a college hockey trip up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (and also the weekend where brandon and i hooked up for the first time ... and started dating two days later). I almost didn't go since I thought I wouldn't have fun - I hadn't been having much fun in any of my social outings - but I did.

As you know (or do now!), I started this blog in January 2008. It was a way to get back on track.

But, as Brandon's panic attack/nervous breakdown attests, we haven't really been getting back on track. For me, at least, I had started back down the same path.

Oh sure, it wasn't to the same extent, but the signs started coming back, and none so great as last Saturday.

Brandon and I got back from Aspen and agreed with my parents to go out to lunch. They suggested Chick-Fil-A (which i love but haven't eaten in forever since the grease is starting to not agree with the ol' internal plumbing). I agreed at first, but then quickly amended to make it the mall food court (where a chick-fil-a exists). Brandon got Subway.

I had basically an anxiety attack. I looked at all the food options, walked around the food court and couldn't decide on anything. I had a sugar cookie in my hand at Subway (to make it part of brandon's combo) and put it down. I couldn't get a salad or deli sandwich at Paradise. A fruit smoothie at Squeeze seemed out of the question. My breathing got heavier and I almost started to cry. The food court seemed to be closing in on me.

We walked out and left.

A little later that week, after a dinner at home that also didn't happen to agree with me, I smuggled a Drumstick upstairs (ice cream one, peoples) in the pouch of my sweatshirt to eat upstairs lest my parents see it and make a crack at me (as they're wont to do).

Yeah. Because behavior like sneaking an ice cream treat is healthy and normal.

Then came last night. I tennis ball-ed (okay, more like baseball-ed) my shoulder (thanks, mark!) and we went to the gym. I foam rolled (brandon stretched), we did five minutes on the recumbent, stretched (brandon stretched again) and got on the stationary bike.

The plan was to do 20 minutes on the bike, maybe some elliptical and lift. At that point, I knew Brandon was feeling detached and out of it. But then, 3:41 into the bike, Brandon got off. Said he couldn't do it anymore. I didn't know what was going on, so I got off my bike. Ran into Brandon. He said he had to get out. Told him to wait two minutes while I grabbed my stuff. He wanted to walk home. Told him no, we live seven minutes away; we'd drive. Got home, had him grab a sweatshirt (i grabbed one as well as my wallet, phone, keys and a flashlight) and we went for a walk. Didn't even get that far before Brandon sat on the sidewalk, on a curb under a streetlight and started to think. And talk.

After a bit, we walked again. Eventually, he snapped back out of it. Realized that the food anxieties he'd been going through were his own fault (same over here, really). Drove around, trying to find ... something. Eventually came back to 7-11, grabbed an ice cream bar, and, with great hesitation, ate it. It was hard, but we did it.

Ultimately, I think in a weird, roundabout way, we were almost heading close to Charlotte's orthorexia (don't mean to pick on you charlotte; you're just, well, the best example out in ze ol' fitosphere). In any case, it was disordered eating of some type.

Hopefully things will get better from here, but as I told Brandon last night at some point - there is a fine, fine line one toes in trying to be healthy without being obsessive.


MizFit said...

oh that I had time for my long rambly comment...but then that might be a post and NOT A COMMENT :)


it's a fine fine line and IMO one more easily avoided as we age and realize that a hunk of cellulite gained as a result of a bunch of fun nights out with friends and family eating, well, CRAP is so worth is as life is too short.

have a great weekend.


Crabby McSlacker said...

Wow, that was quite a journey. Glad you banished the bodybugg--anything that leads to obsession and misery is NOT a good tool.

A good warning for those who tend to get a little too caught up the whole thing. Thanks for the report from the trenches!

tokaiangel said...

Really SO brave of you both to open up about this.

There IS sometimes a tricky balance between fitness, health and obsession (especially when fitness is goal-oriented and competitive) and it's sometimes unclear as to which side of the line we're on. Somedays we scooch over onto the other side by mistake and give ourselves a shock when we see where we are. Thank goodness you guys have each other and are smart enough to recognise a bit of line-crossing when it happens.

Just keep an eye on each other, be kind to yourselves, be watchful but don't panic. When these compulsive moments come up, sit down and talk about them like you did at the gym, figure out where they've come from, why you might be feeling more vulnerable. Maybe it's time to take a break or a change of routine, just for an evening, just to prove to yourselves that you can. That this stuff doesn't rule you.

Always remember that fitness may be a part of you, but it shouldn't ever define or control who you are.

TA x