Sunday, February 6, 2011

Exercise and appetite.

The human body is a funny thing. Mine in particular never ceases to surprise me.

I used to exercise as a way to curb hunger. I would do a good hour of work out and that would kill any and all hunger pangs for then next 2-3 hours. Between that and chewing gum and drinking diet cola like there was no tomorrow I would somehow make it through each day on the minuscule amounts I wanted to live off of.

Now it seems that the opposite happens. I exercise and I am RAVENOUS. I usually have a pretty good appetite, but when I work out it seems multiplied x 100. This is a good thing, because I know my body is compensating for lost energy and building up muscle tissue. But it is a little unnerving. I'm used to my appetite being a certain way and when I find myself STILL hungry after eating a rather significant amount of food I end up scratching my head and feeling more then a little puzzled.

Take this hearty curry lentil/barley soup for instance. It kept me full for only about 2 hours when the average is 3-4. It's all a little weird I tell you. At least it was yummy.

At the moment I am faced with a dilemma. I love exercise and movement. As a matter of fact I need it to stay sane. And right now to be honest I feel like I'm ready to move on from just walking, yoga and the VERY light resistance training I do.

My body seems to automatically compensate for the burned calories when I work out, through increased appetite. The question is can my mind keep up with my body. I did a light work out today, and when my appetite kicked in I found myself a little uneasy. I did what was right and ate till I was full, but there was a bit of a mental struggle involved.

To be honest my appetite scares me sometimes. I think back on the times I could live off virtually no food and wonder how it was possible. I'm mentally at peace with the amount I eat now, but more seems hard for my mind and body to handle (I still have a rather screwed up digestive system).

On the other hand I still want to gain some weight, and I know exercise will help me do that if I am able to compensate by eating enough. Muscle weighs more then fat and I like feeling strong and empowered. I wouldn't do any hard-core cardio work outs like I used to when I was trying to lose weight. I would focus on resistance training and building up those muscles.

The question is, am I able to compensate? Do I trust myself to not panic when the hunger sets in and actually listen to my body? To be honest I don't know.

In other happy news today the sun came out for the first time in almost 2 months! This was reason to celebrate in my book, so I took the opportunity to stroll around the neighborhood.

Sun, glorious sun!!

Don't I live in the most adorable of neighborhoods :P

Do you have any advice for me about my exercise dilemma. Have you faced similar issued before?

PS: Thank you all for your supportive comments on my last posts. It's so good to know I'm not alone in all this craziness.


  1. My advice is to keep the exercise light until you have reached a healthy stable weight. I absolutely promise you that as your weight begins to stabilise, your appetite calms down. No longer am I ravenous a couple of hours after eating a huge meal. It wasn't until my weight stabilised that it was deemed ok for me to exercise more. What's the point in doing heaps of cardio if you are trying to gain weight? It just makes it much more difficult.

    I kept my exercise to a 30 minute walk and yoga. That was it. Then when my weight stabilised, I figured it would be ok for me to walk a little longer if I wanted to and start lifting weights every so often. Thing is, I too didn't know how I would be able to handle the extra exercise but it's trying fixing your relationship with exercise that is important here. You will slip up sometimes and not eat enough. But that will just bite you in the bum the next day because you will be ravenous and eat more than you are comfortable with. It's all a learning process. You'll never know if you don't try :) But I would say wait until you have stabilised your weight until you really start experimenting.


  2. Yup, your town looks like it's straight from a fairy-tale.

    I'm so sorry - I feel like I can't really help because exercise was not an issue for me, and lately the more I exercise, the less hungry I am. I really hope that you can find the balance in this. I understand how difficult it is. When I had to take the week off from dance, it was so hard to stay at home; I think I almost drove myself crazy from not dancing. When I went back, it was (and still is) a struggle to make up for the calories burned. It's something I'm still dealing with so I don't think this is my place to offer advice.

    I'm rooting for you; keep being as strong as you are and kicking ED's butt! :-)

  3. Your neighborhood looks absoluetly adorable!

    I know how you feel about being scared of your appetite. I'm on a complete exercise ban right now, yet I am still so hungry! I'm hungry when I follow my meal plan! It's scary for me because I can't understand how I'm still hungry when I'm eating more than I have in years.

    In recovery, we really kickstart our metabolism. I would be super-cautious about overdoing the exercise, like Katy said, when you are also trying to gain weight. But at the same time, it can be an awesome stress reliever and mood enhancer!

    Listen to your body. If you are hungry, eat! That means that your body has already used up the "fuel" that you gave it. I find eating a protein bar right before helps too.

    Hugs! Keep going! =)