Eating Disorders

Let me begin by saying that I’m not a psychologist or a medical professional. I gathered the information in this article by researching the DSM-5 as well as peer reviewed articles on the subjects of eating disorders. I strongly advise you to seek professional help if you or a loved one displays symptoms of the psychological disorders listed below. 

Not long ago I created a post about controlling eating habits and it turned into a hot issue. This led me to believe that I should provide more information, higher quality information, about this explosive subject. I mean, let’s face it, there are numerous eating disorders representing a very wide spectrum. But no matter what, proper nutrition and regular exercise is important for a healthy lifestyle. PROPER nutrition and regular exercise is important to a healthy lifestyle. It would be wrong to eat everything or to starve yourself. Finding the balance may take consultation with one or more professionals. Finding the proper balance of nutrition and exercise is critical. These disorders are very serious and can be life threatening. Seeking proper psychological and medical attention is instrumental in succeeding on your long-term fitness quest. The causes of these disorders are not fully understood, but professionals know a few things. For instance, the greatest risk factors appear in adolescents or during very young adulthood. Professionals are also conducting research to investigate the genetic components of these disorders (Ciccarelli & White 2015).

Consider the most commonly known eating disorder, Anorexia or Anorexia Nervosa. This condition is most often, but not always, found in young females where the person reduces eating to a point where the body weight becomes dangerously low (Weinberg & Gould 2015). 

Common characteristics are:

  • Refusing to eat to maintain a minimal body weight for age and height.
  • Extreme fear of gaining weight or becoming fat despite being under weight
  • Disturbance in how one sees their own body, i.e., saying they are fat when obviously underweight.
  • In females, missing at least 3 consecutive expected menstrual cycles.

We will cover more signs of disorders later. Anorexia can be potentially fatal, leading to starvation, heart disease, loss of muscle tissue, low blood pressure and diarrhea (Ciccarelli & White 2015). Anorexia is a disorder with multiple dimensions, psychological, cognitive, perpetual, and biological (Weinberg & Gould 2015). If you or a family member exhibit these symptoms then speaking with a medical professional is vital.

Another commonly discussed disorder is Bulimia or Bulimia Nervosa. This condition is recognizable for its cycle of binging and purging. A bulimic person may eat large amounts of food in one sitting (binge) then deliberately vomit (purge), use laxatives, or incorporate other methods to avoid weight gain. These purging methods can also include fasting for a day or two after eating or even excessive exercise. Similar to Anorexia, this is most commonly found in young females obsessed with appearance (Ciccarelli & White 2015).  

Common characteristics are:

  • Recurring episodes of binging.
  • Feeling no control overeating behaviors while binging
  • Regularly engaging in self-induced vomiting, using laxatives or diuretics, strict dieting or fasting, or vigorous exercise to prevent weight gain.
  • Persistent over-concern with body shape and size.

The binge process can be prompted by anxiety or depression, social stress or feelings about body image, or possibly extreme hunger due to diet attempts (Ciccarelli & White 2015). This disorder can be just as damaging to the person’s health as anorexia. It can lead to extreme tooth decay and erosion of the esophagus due to vomiting, enlarged salivary glands, damage to the intestinal track due to overuse of laxatives, heart problems, fatigue and seizures (Ciccarelli & White 2015). These signs are a strong indication that a person should speak with a medical caregiver like a doctor or nurse, or a professional counselor who is highly qualified.

Here are other signs that you or a loved one should contact a physician.

Physical and Psychological Signs of Eating Disorders (Journal of Applied Sports Science Research).

Physical Signs:

  • Weight is too low
  • Considerable Weight loss
  • Extreme fluctuations in weight
  • Bloating
  • Swollen Salivary Glands
  • Amenorrhea
  • Sores or calluses on knuckles or back of the hands from self-induced vomiting
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Muscle cramps
  • Stomach complaints
  • Headaches, dizziness or weakness

Psychological Signs:

  • Excessive dieting
  • Excessive eating without weight gain
  • Excessive exercise that’s not part of a regular training program
  • Guilt about eating
  • Claims of being fat at normal weight despite reassurance from others
  • Preoccupation with food
  • Avoidance of eating in public or denial of hunger
  • Hoarding food
  • Disappearing after meals
  • Frequent weighing
  • Binge eating
  • Use of drugs such as diet pills, laxatives or diuretics

What a few people don’t realize is there is an opposite side of the eating disorder spectrum, and that is Binge Eating Disorder. This disorder is similar to Bulimia’s binge eating, but no purging after (Ciccarelli & White 2015). This disorder was added to the DSM-5 in 2013, making it an official disorder. Characteristics of Binge Eating Disorder are recurring episodes of eating large quantities of food (to the point discomfort), feeling of loss of control during the binge, and expressing shame, guilt or distress after (National Eating Disorder Association 2018). 

Some signs of Binge Eating Disorder include:

Physical Signs:

  • Noticeable fluctuations in weight
  • Stomach cramps, or other gastrointestinal complaints
  • Difficulties concentrating

Psychological Signs:

  • Disappearance of large quantities of food in short periods
  • Discomfort eating around others
  • Constantly trying new fad diets
  • Fear of eating in public or with others
  • Hoards food
  • Frequent diets
  • Shows extreme concern for appearance
  • Has secret recurring episodes of binge eating
  • Feelings of disgust, depression or guilt after overeating
  • Low self-esteem

There are heath concerns related to Binge Eating Disorder other than obesity, although up to two-thirds of people with this disorder are labeled clinically obese. Other concerns are eating to the point of gastrointestinal pain, stomach ruptures, type 2 diabetes, and sleep apnea (National Eating Disorder Association 2018). This disorder should be taken seriously as the others since it too can be life threatening. 

Don’t forget, it’s ok to talk to a health professional if you feel you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder. It’s better to have reliable information from a health professional than to let a life threatening issue go.

Written by, Ray Shonk

Have questions? Contact us.

References: 

National Eating Disorder Association (2018). https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/health-consequences

Weinberg, R. & Gould, D. (2015). Foundations of Sports and Exercise Psychology

Ciccarelli, S. & White, J. (2015). Psychology. Pearson Publishing

 

What Is the best way to lose fat?

The best answer is, there isn’t a best way. I will say that everyone’s body will react differently to diet and exercise programs. The best first step is to find an exercise that you enjoy doing because weight loss can be a long, but rewarding, journey.

Whatever exercise activities you do choose, try to make sure they incorporate multiple muscle groups. The more muscle groups you work the more calories you will be burning. So, doing a squat to over head press would be more beneficial than just doing a chest press because more muscles are activating. Also, consider activities like HIIT or Tabata training over just running. You will work a lot more muscles in a shorter amount of time. If motivation to exercise is an issue, then try group classes like boot camps. You will work at your own pace but with your peers there to help motivate you. 

Now onto diet. First off, get rid of the term diet, look at it as a lifestyle change. Want to feel good? Then eat good. No, this does not mean you will have to give up all the foods you love. You just have to take it all in moderation. I suggest to stay away from fad diet programs. In most cases (not all) they are a very very short term solution. As your body changes so too will the meal plans. This is important! You may start off with high protein and lower carb and fat, but as you become more physically fit you may need more fuel like carbs. Remember protein is not an energy source, it does help repair muscle, but carbs and fats are what give you energy. I would highly suggest talking to a nutritionist for a meal plan to fit your needs or if you just need the basic such as “What amount of protein, carbs, and fats do I need?” talk to a trainer or check out apps like My Fitness Pal. Also, don’t worry if you slip up from time to time, no one is perfect. Even I have a little cheat meal from time to time.

Most important, remember to do this for you and no one else. Life will happen and it will create obstacles. Use those obstacles to make you stronger. This is the first step to a newer fitter you!

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Flexibility Training

Much like other areas of health and fitness, flexibility has a systematic progression based on your goals, needs and capabilities. The three phases of flexibility training that I like to use are corrective, active and functional.


Corrective flexibility is used for increasing joint range of motion, improving muscle imbalances and correcting alter joint mechanics. Some of the techniques for corrective flexibility include foam rolling (also known as self myofascial release) and static stretching. Foam rolling would be used for tight or overactive muscles to help relax and elongate improving muscle extensibility. During static stretching will improve muscle extensibility further by holding your stretches for 20 to 60 seconds allowing for greater lengthening of the muscle.

 

The next phase of flexibility is active flexibility, which uses active-isolated stretching. This allows for the agonist and the synergist muscles to move through a full range of motion while the antagonists are being stretched. In most cases the stretches are only held for 2 to 5 seconds at the end range of motion and then relaxed and it would be done for a specific number of repetitions.

The third phase in the flexibility continuum is functional flexibility which utilizes dynamic stretching. For dynamic stretching you need multiplane are extensibility with optimal neuromuscular control throughout the full range of motion. One easy example of this would be doing bodyweight squats or walking lunges with a medicine ball rotation.

The third phase in the flexibility continuum is functional flexibility which utilizes dynamic stretching. For dynamic stretching you need multiplane are extensibility with optimal neuromuscular control throughout the full range of motion. One easy example of this would be doing bodyweight squats or walking lunges with a medicine ball rotation.

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My Fitness update 

So my original doctor a few years ago told me I would have to take medicine for my cholesterol because of how crazy high it was. Matter of fact it was so bad he said I would be lucky to make it to 35 without a heart attack. Well with focusing on diet and exercise I got it to normal levels with no medicine. Take that pharmaceuticals!The moral of it all… Don’t let someone tell you what you can and can’t do with your own health and fitness.

Have Questions? Contact me.

Fitness Quick Fixes

I know everyone out there is looking for the quick fix or shortcut to health and fitness… Well here it is…

There isn’t one. I know DVDs, Diet Programs and, yes, even Body Wraps claim they have the solution, but sadly they are temporary.

Let’s start with DVDs. Yes, I myself did start with a DVD program, and yes it was a challenge, but after a short time my results started to plateau. That’s when you realize that your fitness has to evolve with your body. Our bodies are amazing, and can adapt to physical stress loads. 

Now onto the diet… Yes! Your diet has to evolve with your fitness. Sure, you may start with the low carb low fat diet plans, but diets are temporary. Eating smart and lifestyle changes are more permanent. As you get more fit your meal plans will have to change. Even weight watchers evolves over time.

Now for the wraps… This is an extremely temporary fix. It essentially squeezes the water out of your fat cells making you look thinner. Normally this will last for up to 72 hours, and sadly over use of things like this is not only expensive but also can start to dehydrate your body. 

My best advice… Put in the work for the results. You will feel better seeing all that you have accomplished. 

Have questions? Contact me.

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Weight Loss Myths

With so many weight loss myths out there, it’s time we bring the facts to the table.

“I workout hard, so I can eat whatever I want.”
In truth, it comes down to calories in vs. calories out. If you consume more calories than what you burn in a day, then you will gain weight. The reverse is also true. If you consume less than what you burn, then you will lose weight.happens-eat-much-junk-food_52511c18d2246a53

“To lose the weight, I will cut carbs and fats out of my diet.”
This is actually a very bad idea. Yes, at first you will drop a few pounds, but it will mostly be water weight. Carbs and fats are needed for a healthy body. Carbs are a huge fuel source for your body and fat helps cells absorb vital nutrients into your body. Finding the proper balance of these macro nutrients, and the right kinds, are key, not cutting them out.Red-Dice-Fat-Protein-Carb-400x250bfc6a

“You have to workout to lose weight.”
Not entirely true. Again, weight loss comes from calories in vs. calories out. Now adding a workout to your weight loss plan will help. After all adding some muscle will help burn the fat. Granted with the muscle the weight loss may slow down, but you will lean out and look tone.

push up

“The more calories you cut, the more weight you will lose.”
True and false. While a calorie deficit is required for weight loss, dropping them too low (below 1,200) should only be done under the supervision of a medical professional. Some of the risks of these ultra low calorie diets are malnutrition, poor energy, digestive issues, or even development of gallstones.

 very low calorie diet

“Eating at night causes weight gain.”
There is no magical time when the body is better at storing fat. Even when sleeping your body is still burning energy.

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Know Your Metabolic Energy Systems

The human body has 3 metabolic energy systems:

  1. ATP,
  2. Glycolytic
  3. Aerobic

All physical activity requires energy and that energy comes from burning phosphates, ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and converting it to ADP (adenosine diphosphate).

It is during short term intense activities that this conversion happens. Once the ATP has converted to ADP the body draws Creatine phosphate from the deep skeletal muscles to replace the used phosphate. No carbohydrates or fats are used in this process and since oxygen is not used in this it is anaerobic. This energy source usually only lasts up to 10-seconds, also there is a limited amount of ATP and Creatine phosphate so fatigue sets in quick.

Now for the Glycolytic energy system. This system produces energy for 30 seconds to 2 minutes. This system refuels your ATP by converting sugars in the system (gained from carbohydrates) to energy. Not a lot of energy is given off with this conversion but you do get the energy faster.

The Aerobic system tends to be the most complex, and is dependent on oxygen. The metabolic reaction to oxygen in the system is what creates the largest supply of energy in the body. On the flip side to this is the slowest method of refueling your ATP. It is the aerobic system that will also break down the fats as fuel. This is a long and complex system and will be fully covered in later posts.

Have Questions? Contact Me.

Want to see how I’ve progress? My Fitness Journey.

 

Micro & Macro Nutrients

Lots of people ask what the difference is between Micronutrients and Macronutrients.

Well the definition is, Macronutrients are the structural and energy-giving caloric components of our foods that most of us are familiar with. They include carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Micronutrients are the vitamins, minerals, trace elements, phytochemicals, and antioxidants that are essential for good health.

Balancing these are what drives you your muscle gains or your fat loss. The proteins will help the muscles repair themselves, the carbs will help with the energy and the fats actually help protect your cells and aid with absorbing nutrients.

Micronutrients are basically your vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, vitamin B, and zinc to name a few. These are what help with boosting health and immunity.

Have Questions? Contact Me.

Want to see how I’ve progress? My Fitness Journey.

 

Ultra Low Calorie Diets!

Ray Shonk - fitness instructor - greater grand rapids area
Ultra low is a no go.

There are some misconceptions about cutting calories to super low levels. First off what is a calorie? A calorie is the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1° C. So calories are not evil.
Studies show that ultra low calorie diets have a long history of failure. They will likely show results for about a week or two, but then the bad changes happen. You will likely start to fatigue easy, and your metabolism will plummet. When this happens your body will change gears to what many call “starvation mode“.  Once here your body will do everything it can to store fat. This is so your organs don’t start to fail and in time you will notice a distended belly. Another very likely side effect would also be a weakened immune system.
It’s also not just the calories that you need to pay attention to it’s also your basic nutrients such as fat protein and carbohydrates. You need to understand the proper ratio in order to reach your intended goal.
My personal recommendation would be to find an app for your phone that can properly calculate the calories you need per day and subtract the amount of calories required to safely lose weight. Another option would be talking to a nutritionist or a personal trainer weight-loss specialist.  Remember, at the end of the day you are doing this for you, so do it right.

Have Questions? Contact Me.

Want to see how I’ve progress? My Fitness Journey.

 

Fueling Up With Carbs

What carbs are good and what carbs are bad?

Carbohydrates are one of the best sources of fuel for your body. The trick is getting the right carbs, as well as having the proper portion for your fitness goals. The average diet should consist of about 40% carbs, and would be adjusted based on the goal of gaining weight or losing weight.

Well fruits, vegetables, and whole grains should be your main sources of healthy carbs. Try to stay away from high starch foods such as white bread and white rice.

I would never recommend cutting carbs completely out of your diet. I find carbs will actually help burn fat by properly keeping you fueled.

  I myself eat about 65% carbs! You just have to find the right balance for you.

Have Questions? Contact Me.

Want to see how I’ve progress? My Fitness Journey.