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Teen Is Counting Calories and Always Worrying About Weight

By October 29, 2012

I’m 17 and I’ve been binging and purging for about a year and a half now. After many swirls of wanting to stop and not caring about stopping at all, I know I need to stop and I want to change my lifestyle before I go away to college. I’ve gone through much calorie deprivation, in the beginning *** calories a day and lots of exercise till almost a year ago when I leveled out at about ****-**** a day and got fed up and stopped exercising all together. I still count calories very carefully and am constantly scared about gaining weight, but I’m starting to fear I’m becoming horribly unhealthy just because I don’t feel that “good” feeling when I wake up like I used to and I dread exercise. I want to be less consumed and I want to know what I need to do, so I can maintain the weight I am now without purging anymore, I’m thinking of doing maybe a few ballet classes a week like I did when I was younger because that seems like exercise I won’t dread. Right now I am 5’7 and about *** (or a little more) pounds (my lowest weight was probably ***), I don’t want to gain weight and after a recent doctor appt., I’ve learned that I am a “healthy” weight and I’m happy here, I would just like to know what my caloric and physical activity needs would be to keep this weight with knowing the toll my obsessive purging, calorie cutting and extensive exercising has took on my metabolism and my digestive system. I really want to be healthy again and I know I can be if I have a system that is not too full of exercise (so I won’t be overwhelmed) and where I know what, and the amount of what, I am eating won’t alter my weight and freak me out when I look in the mirror I won’t have to worry what dinner will do to my body. Thank you so much, what you guys do is amazing. ~AR

AR,

Thanks for writing. It sounds like you want an “equation” that will keep your weight stable. I cannot give you an exact equation, because such a perfect equation does not exist. The best way to start is simply by paying close attention to your body, learning what it wants and when it wants it. You most likely need to “reconnect” to your body and to listen for real “hunger signals.”

Often what happens when our eating is “all over the place” is that our metabolism and our hunger signals get all messed up too. We deny our basic needs; we deny our hunger and eventually start to really convince ourselves that we’re “not hungry.”

So you really need to retrain yourself to listen to your body. It will not lie to you. You need to believe your hunger signals and start experimenting with little meals throughout the day, paying close attention to your satiety level. How full are you? Are you full, content, “stuffed,” “unsatisfied,” etc.?

The other thing I would highly recommend is that you seek a therapist who specializes in treating eating disorders. See “Finding Treatment” for guidance. It sounds like you are still very trapped in the obsessiveness of counting calories, and that can be so demanding and exhausting, no wonder you have little desire and/or motivation to exercise.

Counting calories and always being focused and worried about weight gain is mentally draining. You do truly become exhausted. Life does not have to be like that… there is such a great balance to life, one that does not demand so much of your time and energy. Also, a therapist or nutritionist who treats those with eating disorders should be able to help you develop a food journal that works specifically for you. But only after trial and error. No one is going to be able to give you a list of foods, and the amount of calories you need. So much more is involved with that. It’s hard to know what your metabolism is like after bingeing, purging, and restricting. But a good professional will be patient and help you find that balance.

Good luck to you and take good care.

Nicole Bourquin, M.S.