I’m perpetually on a diet. I can hear the collective gasping right now, the indignant “girl! You’re supposed to be LIBERATED from that shit! Go get yourself some cake, aight?” This is not a vanity diet. Okay, yes it is. It sort of is, but honestly, not really, because powerlifting is one of those sports that has weight classes. I’m short and genetically not predisposed to be all that meaty–both parents are trim. So I don’t struggle like some do to maintain a certain body weight, which is good, because my weight class is the 114 lb one, and I need to make that weight on July 14th. I currently fluctuate anywhere between 109 and 113 lb. 113 after a cheat meal, which I will elaborate on in a bit here. This isn’t a diet targeting “those ten pounds holding you back from strutting your stuff that new bikini! Flaunt it!” or whatever.
That said, I spent years embroiled in an eating disorder/skinny as hell, so I know what it is to take a “diet” to extremes. Ask someone who’s had an eating disorder how they got over it, and I’ll bet you that even if they say they did–even if they explain how they “recovered”–a part of their mind is forever tuned into the feedback loop that is an eating disorder. Life after an eating disorder is just that: life after a screwed-up way of eaten or not eating. The screwed-up eating or not eating changes how you think of, respond to, use food. You can’t totally escape the knowledge of how to starve yourself down to nothing, or the knowledge of how to motivate yourself to do so. So how do you keep going, every day, eating, knowing what you eat has certain causal relationships to the shape of your body? You use it. That’s what I’ve done, anyway. Having an eating disorder and trying to work through it forces you to be damned honest with yourself and damned aware of your body all the time. This comes in quite handy for strength training, and strength training is a good outlet for this hyperawareness. It is not entirely uncommon for women who have recovered from eating disorders to get into weight training. It’s a healthier way to manage a mind that can’t “un-know” the hell, anxiety, and regiment of an eating disorder, particularly anorexia.
I’d say I worked may way to a tennuous recovery from eating disorders, particularly anorexia, when I was 21 or 22 (I’m now 26). About 13 or 14 months ago I was 20 lb heavier than I am now. On purpose. I was trying to “bulk” as a bodybuilder, so I was lifting like crazy (but not as smartly as I could have been, I later would learn) and eating like crazy. A variety of events between that time period and this one have seen me shed those 20 lb (more, at one point). I really wasn’t too interested in exactly how much I weighed before April of this year. Now I am.
I KNOW my mother is reading this (yes, I know my mother is reading this, hi Mom) and she is not happy. “Oh, you’re watching your weight. This does not bode well,” she’s thinking. Yes, Mom, I am. It’s not for aesthetic reasons, and it’s not because I am using weight control as a way to control the chaos in my life–I use my fist for that now. The guys on the powerlifting team of which I’m working on become a part “diet” too, at least some of them. Indeed, some of us eat very clean–this probably means a low-carbohydrate diet with little to know drinking (drinking is basically the ingestion of… carbs. Yeah, we aren’t carb fans in these parts, I guess). We try to maintain as high a muscle mass and as low a fat mass composition in our bodies as we can. As a chick, this is difficult for me to do, because my body is programmed to use a lot of stuff I eat for fat stores. My hormones and metabolism aren’t thinking “muscle for hunting, bitch!” they’re thinking “babies, bitch! Why aren’t you fertilized? You’re 26. You could die next year out on the savannah. We’re gonna MAKE this HAPPEN.” So I have to eat pretty damned “clean” to make sure I maintain muscle and not fat. It’s hard, but it doesn’t mean I don’t eat. I possibly eat more protein in one sitting than you do in an entire day, depending on what gender you are, what your size is, and whether or not you’re some vegetarian variant. I’m often very full.
That said, I get cheat meals. Cheat meals are meals in both the bodybuilding and powerlifting sphere that are “anything goes”–you want a burger, chili, and fries? Rock it. Have dessert afterward. You’ll probably gain two to three pounds from this meal alone, and at least half of that may be water weight (hello, salt intake increase). I got a cheat meal the other night, and it was AWESOME.
I text Kyle with an insistent “I need to have a cheat meal.” I then decide that I want onion rings at all costs. I need some goddamn onion rings. A burger would be okay too. We settled on a local restaurant called The Hamburg Inn and I get my onion rings and a hamburger–the Cali Burger, to be exact, which had avocado on it, which I seem to love in recent months. I get a lot of onion rings and I decimate them. Kyle witnesses this. Kyle orders an ice cream sundae and I, not to be outdone, order one too. Mine is butterscotch-flavored.
See how much butterscotch is in this picture? That is seriously how much was in my sundae. The thing wasn’t even FOOD, it was some sort of syrupy sugarish monstrosity with some ice cream in it. Kyle made his way happily through his chocolate concoction and I stubbornly forged through mine. He and I are both competitive. I finished the sundae with about an inch and a half left–Kyle probably had two inches of sundae sludge at the bottom of his massive glass. So I won. It was an epic cheat meal that had me groaning when I woke up at 2 AM with a solid, slowly churning gut, but it was worth it. And again, I won. Beat me, Kyle. Try it.
And now I’m back to eating chicken, egg whites, greek yogurt, little fruit, very little grain-based carbs, some fat. Repeat. Over and over and over. Until the next cheat meal. Stay tuned.