One of the first stories to attract attention in the fitness industry was that of Felicia Romero, a very popular figure competitor and fitness model, admired and followed by a lot of women. Her honest and forthcoming blog revealing the difficulties she'd encountered while dieting for months, hitting plateau, followed by what appeared to be a huge backlash from her own body against her desires to get on stage and snag a win at her next competition, caught an internet buzz and the attention of competitors nation-wide.
The stories on blogs and different websites from women affected by MD began to pour in.There seemed to be some common themes among women competitors being that we are the population most affected by it.
Here some similarities I was able to come across from all the stories shared:
- woman starts at point A to get ready for a show. She has a significant amount of body fat to lose.
- competition date is soon approaching and both coach and competitor decide to amp things up and increase cardio while significantly lowering calories in order to meet deadlines and get in competition shape.
- woman's body responds well to this shocking method of body loss, meets competition deadline and gets on stage.
(somewhere in here the woman does well or doesn't place...but regardless, the weight has come off, we see lines, muscles, "shreddedness", etc.)
- then here comes the "off season" or the "I'm done competing" binge eating. Weight is back, along with that wonderful water retention feeling that we love so much.
- woman then is determined to get back into that contest shape after all the eating and embarks on her next competition journey to achieve that low body fat with the lines and muscles that some of us find attractive and sexy.
What happens next is either a commitment to do another show, usually soon after the last one or, to just diet in hopes of achieving the same results that you had before.
This is very much the same type of yo-yo dieting we, as competitors and as people involved so closely in the fitness industry, strongly advice others against.
Putting the body through an unhealthy and very regimented way of eating by cutting calories and simultaneously increasing cardio to hours upon hours is what ultimately causes the body to say ENOUGH ALREADY thus causing Metabolic Damage. Your body is no longer responding to any of the extreme methods it did once or twice in order to burn fat and create or keep muscle efficiently.
|Visiting Coach Fak at his store. End of April 2012|
I have my own [inexpert] take and personal experience with this. It does include a story. I can't let you guys down and have one for you.
My very first take on Metabolic Damage was that it was a joke. I didn't want to believe that it was real and that it was merely an excuse for women who refused to follow their diets properly or perhaps be a bit more conscious on how they approached their competitions and their off season. Although there might be some truth my bold statement, I feel like because of the common themes and the way metabolic damage occurs, we are not addressing the mental and emotional health issue that makes some of us put our bodies through the extremely regimented and dieting that often calls in order to get on stage.
When doctors treat eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, they don't just recommend a nutritionist to instruct you on better eating habits and choices - they also encourage you to address the mental health piece.
According the National Institute of Mental Health, eating disorders "frequently coexist with other illnesses such as depression, substance abuse or anxiety disorder". Metabolic Damage, in my opinion meets the criteria of both - physical disorder and a mental health issue. I find it even more interesting that Metabolic Damage affects mostly women and, it is no secret that we are more prone to mental health issues due to the abundance of estrogen in our bodies. Let's be real and honest and admit to the fact that when we train for shows our hormones go a bit out of whack and balance for the most part.
And here's my story dealing with what I now believe to have been my own personal experience and bout with Metabolic Damage:
|Feb. 2011 gathering to meet with friends.|
At this point I had no idea I had gained so
|Dec. 2012 and nearly 6 months post-contest.|
One of the first things I did was get in contact with my therapist. I needed to talk to someone about the things going on in my life that were keeping me down. There were 2 things that she made note of immediately: 1. I was in an unhealthy relationship and 2. I was exhausted (mentally and physically). I needed to handle that.
|A very happy Amanda backstage at the 2012 Atlantic States.|
The second thing I did was contact an expert coach to handle my contest prep in a healthy way. I contacted IFBB Pro Fakhri Mubarak. You can read about some of the things I considered when working with him on this blog post.
Needless to say after attending to the emotional wellness in my life and bringing things into balance in combination with a good contest prep, proved to be a success. Not only did I do well in my shows but the overall quality of my life completely changed. Completely.
To end, I would hope that those who are dealing with Metabolic Damage take a step beyond the "fixing" or "repairing" the bodies and also attend to the their emotional and mental health as well. I am not saying this is something we all need to do because I did it or because it worked for me but I don't think it will hurt to keep an open mind about it.
Remember, our minds are more powerful than we give it credit for. If we treat it kindly, feed it and nourish it as we would our bodies, our hearts and everything else in our lives will follow and be in alignment.
|Closing out 2011. Swollen eyes and bloated face.|
|Closing out 2012 with my sister. No puffy eyes|