How I Increased My Calories & Metabolism

In this post I am going to share

  • Why & How I increased my calories from 1000 per day to 2000 + per day
  • The ways this change has improved my life

Why so little food?

Let’s start with WHY I ate 1000 calories per day. Cutting to the chase, I lacked boundaries and a sense of self in the world. I controlled the fuck out of my food intake because it felt like if I were thin I would be lovable. Also, if I could assert this kind of control over something I then felt like I had a better hold on my otherwise out of control existence. I was terrified of gaining any weight at all so I decided to undershoot my calories each day “just in case.” 

I'm on the far right. This was not my thinnest but a good snapshot of my lifestyle :)

I'm on the far right. This was not my thinnest but a good snapshot of my lifestyle :)

First Stages

FFW a couple years and I increased my calories after a family intervention and a conscious decision to get better. I wanted to start fueling my body. My physical health improved, but things were a bit up n’ down for me mentally while eating around 1200-1400 calories a day. One “bad” day and (to me) my body would blow up like a balloon and I felt awful. Add plenty of alcohol to the mix and the whole thing was a sad mess. Needless to say I spent many afternoons in college skipping class, feeling bad for myself and listening to David Gray songs while lying in the fetal position. Haven’t we all been there….?

Healing Realizations

FFW another few years and one day it dawned on me that I truly wanted to live a life free from food drama. I wanted to eat food and not even think about counting and obsessing. I desperately wanted to let go a little bit. I thought: maybe if I truly nourished my body it would work with me to create a sense of peace.  I have learned that any war you wage against your body – your body will win.  The body and subconscious mind have intelligence we do not give ample credit to today.

What I did Next

After my own research it became glaringly obvious to me that a plant based vegan diet was the healthiest way to feel alive - and to stay alive.  I'd chosen life and wanted to feed myself in that manner.  I wanted to do anything in my power to increase my life force energy. This began my love affair with food. This was the type of love you want from a partner: supportive, harmonious and inspiring.  I re-learned how to feed myself. I threw caution to the wind and began a plant based vegan diet. I didn’t track food or even control food. I ate as much as I wanted. After years of restriction you better believe I wanted to eat.

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The Juicy Part: The “HOW”

It was not a gradual switch. I increased my calories from about 1500/day to 2500/day OVERNIGHT. I put my trust in the process and I forged ahead. I knew I had nothing to lose. I knew I could always go back to that miserable semi-starvation.  I actually felt like extreme dieting was one of the only ways I could excel in life. I had a silly sense of pride in my ability to diet. It took me a few weeks to get used to the massive fiber hit, but after that my digestive system worked like a well oiled machine. I didn’t gain weight. I didn’t bloat. It took next to no time at all for my touchy metabolism to catch up.

(Note: Your metabolism isn’t your enemy.  Why would we have a built in system that wanted us to be overweight?  Why do some of us attribute negative characteristics to our body's chemical processing of food?  Your body has an incredible ability to heal itself. The metabolism will do the same – if you keep it burnin’.)

After getting my fix of food, I naturally settled into a place where I was eating 2000-2200 calories per day.  I built some muscle. Building muscle increases your metabolism.  The combo of plant based vegan + add'l muscle is a metabolism's wet dream.  I never worry about anything I eat. It always regulates and returns to moving along efficiently if I have an odd eating day, or travel, or a little extra food. 

 

Here’s a list of the type of foods I ate:

Raw Vegan Sushi (filled with brown rice & veggies)

Colorful Salads in serving bowls with veggie based dressings

Tons of banana ice cream (blended frozen bananas) with any new fruit I could get my hands on

Beans & lentils

Smoothie Bowls with homemade granola (mixed with greens!)

Baked Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes

Rice Paper Veggie Wraps

Salt Free Seasoned Brown rice

Fruit – a lot of fruit

Homemade Granola

Veggie Soups with lentils

Oat-Based Pancakes

Homemade cheese-less pizza

Stuffed Dates

Seeds

Herbs

Greens – spinach, kale, arugula

Homemade nut milks

Fruit Juice

 

I did not eat:

Dairy

Eggs

Meat

Oil of any kind

Nut Butters

Bread

Salt

Vegan Meat Products

Soy

White Sugar

 

I ate very little:

Packaged food with more than 2-3 ingredients

Alcohol (less than 2 drinks/month)

 

My Workouts

Here is the coolest part:  As soon as I gave myself some god damn fuel I had energy for exercise. It suddenly didn’t feel like I was dragging a mac truck behind me when I went to workout.  Exercise became a sustainable and an enjoyable regular practice, not a variable for calorie math. When I realized I could actually get stronger from this eating and exercise thing, I was hooked. My body's physical capabilities started to really impress me – particularly the fact that I could see performance improvement with consistent practice. This caused a great shift in my mindset. It was one of going in the direction of what I wanted rather than running away from what I didn't want. I wanted to be strong - to stand my ground. This shift led me from doing lots of HIIT training to strength training. 

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Other Changes from More Food

  • I wasn’t afraid of calories anymore. I was able to eat in abundance, and not gain weight, in fact I lost weight effortlessly.
  • I started trying new things. It helped to wake up my conscious state of mind, and therefore became more grateful of the beautiful things around me. #wokeaf
  • I eventually removed myself from all of my environments which were allowing me to conform too easily. The world was more colorful and alive.
  • By cutting out added salt, I opened my taste buds up to a whole new world of fun. Fruits and vegetables taste better than ever and I don't retain water like a saggy balloon.
  • I used to get unexpected digestive issues. Extreme abdominal pain & the runs with no clue of the cause. I haven't had a stomach ache in 5 years (when I started). In fact, my digestive system is regular every single day.
  • I haven't had food poisoning in 5 years
  • I feel vibrant and alive every time I eat food 

But Wait, There's More

There are many other benefits, but I think that's enough for now.  Cliff notes is that I eliminated processed food, went vegan and built some muscle with strength training.  I have a new online personal training 1 week trial if you're looking to get into strength training and build a strong, confident body. Check it out here.

If you'd like to chat about going vegan, starting to strength train or getting your fitness under control, send me an email valerie.k.walker@gmail.com

Thanks and jobless,

Val

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