Important Update: Calorie Count will be shutting down on March 15th. Please click here to read the announcement. Data export is available.
Weight Loss
Moderators: spoiled_candy, Mollybygolly, devilish_patsy, nycgirl

It takes 3 Months to Recover from Starvation Mode

Quote  |  Reply
(EDIT: Someone else "borrowed" my original title, "My personal experience going from Starvation Mode to Weight Loss". I think it is great that people want to share their personal experiences, but please don't ride my coat tails and steal my title especially on something that was so very personal for me to write. I've been a member of this site for over 3 months, so this wasn't just something I came up with on the spot, this is a part of my healing process. Or at least drop me a message and let me know that I inspired you enough that you wanted to steal my title and use it in the same day.)  END EDIT

First, my apologies for this being so LONG! Please don't feel obligated to read this. I just need to splork and figured my splork might help someone out there.

So, how long does it take your body to readjust from going into Starvation Mode? ...Well, here is my experience.

I started my journey to a healthier lifestyle on March 24th, my first day finding this website while trying to look up calorie information for a banana to put in my paper journal. I am so glad that I found this site, because I probably would not have stuck with the paper journal. I love the analysis tool on this site, it really plays into my obsessive-compulsive behaviour to see the percentages and be able to control them. You have to admit, anyone who has been on this site for a while must have some sort of deep fascination with organization...

Anyhow, I started on March 24th. It took me 3 days to figure out how to make my analysis numbers be what they were supposed to be. Over 1200 calories, with good ratio of calories, 40-50% Carbs, 25-35% protein, 20-30% fat.

You see, before I found this site, my habit was to starve myself for 2-3 days, probably consuming 200-800 calories of junk food (my favorites were cheese puffs, any type of pastry, cookies, candy bars, soda pop), then spend one day consuming hundreds of not thousands of calories of junk food. For 10 years I did this. 10 years! Not a very good thing to do to your body, the only body you have.

That first day, I took my measurements and naked pictures of myself. That was an eye opening experience! Woo! Let me tell you! So I learnt about protein my first 3 days on this site, and got my protein percentage up to 30%, I started by consuming 1600 calories per day. Then a week or two later 1400, then after talking with OBBY, another week later around 1200. I learnt to get under 2500 mg of sodium and over 25 grams of fiber. I found a list of The World's Healthiest Foods:

I was on my way!! I started exercising. Just a little. Do you know what 6 weeks of 4 boiled egg whites every night will do to a person? I crashed! I crashed because I wasn't seeing results. I had only lost 2 lbs in 6 weeks! What was I doing wrong! By May 1st, I couldn't figure it out! I packed the car for a road trip! I ate a few healthy things, such as fresh raspberries, but I also had pizza, loads of chocolate and junk food. It was grand! But it was also stupid. It's a road trip, how are you supposed to eat healthy? That was my excuse. It wasn't a good one.

Near the end of May, I came home and thought really really hard about what I wanted, what kind of results I wanted to see. I had stopped walking. I tracked my calories here and there, but I mostly tried to regain focus. I started to educate myself. I learnt about math! I learned about what fruits and vegetables have high amounts of fiber. I found even more helpful information on protein, including a list of vegetables and their protein content.  For the month of May, all the information was going in and being processed by my brain. The Grading system came online and I logged 6 days at the end of May. I might have done well on the other days, but I just didn't have the motivation to log the information.

Near the first of June, I weighed myself. I was 4 pounds over my starting weight! I just wanted to cry! The naked pictures I had taken of myself and had saved on my computer lacked their motivational quality. It just made me sad, I stopped looking at it. I became deeply depressed. I was just starting to deal with the deeper issues, the real reasons why. Why did I make the choices that I did? Over those 10 years that I gained, I knew I was gaining weight, but it just wasn't important to me. I made excuses: Live life for the moment, find enjoyment! But those were just excuses to get past the much deeper emotional issues. This pretty much left me in a fog for most of the month of June. I started to make some goals that made me feel pretty good:

#1. I have been gaining weight for the past 10 years on a steady increase. This will end. I will stop gaining.

#2. I will have more healthy food days than unhealthy food days each and every month.

#3. I will not focus so much on the weight loss. I will instead focus on making healthy choices. If I make healthy choices, then the weight will come off. I will not obsess over the issue of weight loss and cause myself unnecessary amounts of stress.

#4. I will forgive myself more for making mistakes along the journey. This is a process. This is life changing. It takes time. I will give myself time, instead of spending all my time focusing on giving time to everyone else, because my health is important to me. Other people can manage without me. I must learn to understand and accept this. Things will survive without me being consistently involved. My health should be my first concern, each and every day.

For the month of June, I accepted that I could be happy if I just stopped gaining weight. And I had stopped gaining weight, or at least slowed it down. I must be doing something right. Right? I needed to regain control. I stopped obsessing over the details and started focusing on the big picture. I learned about how important water is.

You see, what lead me to this site, was because I suffered through a terrible 2-week kidney infection. Kidney and Bladder infections had bothered me for years, several times a year. I don't know what in my brain told me that if I ate healthy and actually stopped dehydrating myself I wouldn't suffer this problem, but you know what, it has worked, I have not had a bladder infection, kidney infection or UTI since March 24th! Good things do happen if you stick to it, even if the pounds aren't dropping.

Still, I wanted to lose weight, at the end of June, I wasn't sleeping through the night; I was barely sleeping at all. I was eating healthy, but I was having trouble drinking enough water. I had errands to run, things to do, I didn't have time to drink water. I started to spend a lot of time on the forums, late at night, reading about people with EDs. It really started to affect me. I started to consume 600-1400 calories per day. I logged one day at about 820 calories. No binge days like my previous habit. No junk food or refined sugars. Just healthy food and not much of it. I knew this was wrong. I knew it was bad behaviour. I was so depressed. I sit and wrote down what was truly important to me.

"To be healthy and to maybe lose weight. I will accomplish this by drinking enough water and eating enough calories without eating anything in excess. Furthermore, I will continue to stay away from processed foods, refined sugars and caffeine. I will not worry about getting carried away and trying to exercise, I will do one thing at a time. I first will get control of my eating habits. I will try my best to incorporate exercise, but I will not obsess or stress over it. I will do what I can and accept my limitations."

Today, July 5th. I have consistently logged information into my diet log every day for the past 5 days. I am very proud of myself. Each of those 5 days has been in the 1200-1300 calorie range with a good percentage ratio. My sodium and fiber have been within range and I have been drinking plenty of water. I haven't forced myself into having the same foods over and over again, making myself tired and worn out. I have tried new things and experimented with new recipes. I am trying my best to have fun. Summer is short here on the island and I want to feel healthy. I might be fat, but I can be healthy.

Today someone offered me a sugary treat. I said, "No thank you, I am trying to reduce the amount of refined sugars that I am consuming" I was honest and straightforward. I wasn't rude, and they told me, "Good for you!" Good for me! I hadn't weighed myself in a month. That gain made me depressed. I didn't want to look at the scale and see it go up again. Tonight I stopped at the doctor's office. I was ready to accept whatever the number was. I lost 5 pounds! Could this be it, could I be on my way down? Could I be on the right road?

So what does this have to do with getting your body out of Starvation Mode? Well, someone on this site posted a great article (I'm sorry, I don't have the link and have been unable to find it). It was the story of a girl who started to see a personal trainer. The girl lived like I did, 2-3 days of starving, one day binge. Back and forth. Her body was in Starvation Mode. She was gaining weight in starvation mode and over the years it added up. It took a bit of work and a lot of patience, at first she gained a little weight, but then she started to loss! Sound familiar? So my answer is 3 months. It took 3 months to retrain my body to understand that it doesn't need to be in Starvation mode; it doesn't need to hang on to all these extra pounds. I will feed it and I will feed it the good and healthy things that it needs.

Am I sure the scale is going to go down next time I visit it? No, I am not, but I am going to take the small accomplishments and keep working on the journey. I am going to have more good days than bad days. I am going to fight the good fight. This is a lifestyle change, which is not something that happens over night, but is a long journey. I have embarked upon the journey for a long and healthy life. There is no turning back, only bumps and slight coarse adjustments to keep going forward.  

EDIT: Here is a link to the article I mentioned. It really opened my eyes. htm

EDIT: WELCOME! I put together this thread with just lots of little bits and pieces of useful tips that I learned while I was first starting out here on, all the things mentioned above. (be sure to tag it for future reference!): .html

If you read this far, thank you! Please leave coins in the coffer. *wink*
57 Replies (last)
Thank you for posting this! You helped me tons in my spat at...well insanity and consuming far below what I should be and I'm sure this will help so many more! It is inspiring to see a change in someone and this is obvious proof you've changed from the get go and it's only going to bring you more happiness I'm sure :)

I'll second what that person told you....

Congratulations on sticking with your healthy habits and the 5 lbs loss!!  This is inspiring information for those that may be struggling with getting out of starvation mode. 
wow kudos to you for sticking with it even after the discourageing scale-read!! I'm a little more inspired to stick with eating enough myslef--though dissapointed that it may take longer than id like to get back to normal metabolism speed. Thanks for sharing :)
Thank you for posting this.  It really helped me a lot, plus my respect for you has expanded beyond imagination.

You are the best.  And good for you for pushing onward until you saw progress.

Hugs and Hugs.
*drops a toonie and three buttons in the coffer*

The hardest part is always to keep going when nothing seems to be changing. The most important part of the changes in our bodies when we eat with our health in mind happen on the inside rather than in our appearance.
X, my friend...

This is so inspiring and wonderful. I can't believe that this is the same you I've been talking to for months and months. You have such a healthy attitude and I admire you for it. I probably won't be able to get down to 1200 calories...EVER...but it's inspiring knowing what you're doing and overcoming. Thanks for posting!!!
mwahaha.. i saw that little bit about me in there..

hon.. i told you i was under a doctors care!  :) 

glad you're still on the right track!  :) 

I had no idea you went through this kind of problems. Thank you for posting this. It is inspiring.
It's ok Obby, it was the competitive streak in me. It was like, well, if she can do it, I can do it too. =) No blame! No blame! I had other things to sort out. I can feel it now, the success is coming. I can feel it. Thanks everyone for you kind words!! So sweet!!
OH!!! Thank you!! Thank you!!! That is like the best present EVER!!! I have been looking for that article for DAYS!!! DAYS!!! I tell you!! This is better than Christmas!! Oh!! Thank you!!! Thank you!!! I am so totally saving that somewhere special!
Thank you for posting your story.  When I feel down, it's reading posts like these that make me want to keep going. 

Keep on truckin'!
Our stories are amazing. I am so thankful for cc.  I see a little of me and my pain in many of our stories.  Thank you all for your brave exposure of what has been in many of our closet souls.
Inspiring!!  :)
And united that's a great article!
that's great, ix!

I'm so glad for these forums, I went over 30 years without trying to change my eating habits and it's really nice to know I'm starting out in a sane way.
thanks so much for writing this.  K
This was very good!!  I am very glad that you sat down and wrote it!! Thank you!
My thanks also for writing it all down.  This is so helpful to a great many people.

Our experiences are similar, not exactly.  I used to starve myself a long time ago (18 years ago).  Then I gained and gained and gained.  Then I fad dieted and yo yo'd ... 

Like you, now I'm eating healthier foods.  I'm getting some moderate exercise. I'm drinking water.  And I'm trying my best not to let life's stresses get the best of me.  I'm still waiting for the scale to budge down, but I think it's going to. 

I used to be up and down by 1 to 3 pounds every day within the same 5 pound range.  For the last week, it's consistently edged down to the low end of that range and has actually stayed on the same weight for the last 3 days.  I think I'm about to go below 280. 

Keep doing what you're doing and I will too.  I will never give up on good health.
I'll add my thanks for your very well written post. I've really swung the pendulum for weight but not for bad eating habits ... yet.. but I'm trying.

When I was 15 I was 88 lbs and 5'10".... after getting out of hospital for the third time I managed to gain up to 145 lbs and stayed there until I was 19 and had a bad car accident. I spent the next year and a half in physio therapy, but eating like I was still swimming and cycling every day.... welcom to 184 lbs.... for the last eight years I've been doing exactly what you and the article described.

I've starved myself for days, then beat myself up over indulging in a slice of apple pie, or a peice of chocolate cake or eating a bag of tostitos for dinner. Again, not 4,000 calories, but enough to keep me on a steady incline of starve + binge = 205 lbs in January 2006.

Thankfully I found this site.

It's been hard, I wasn't seeing changes as fast as I wanted. Drinking all the water was hard, and so was resisting the "tasty" foods that I'd used to reward myelf when I felt bad.... I mean how much could half an order of poutine really hurt me? Well when I'd eaten 300 calories for the two previous days I think you answered that question really really well. I fell off the wagon from March to April and returned to my really bad eating habits.

Just like you said it was a hard look at what I really wanted that got me back on this forum, logging my food again, honestly, and it's slow.... still... but it's progress.

Thank you so much for writing this. I think it helps us all to reaffirm that we are not alone in our challenges and that others really understand what we are going throug.
57 Replies (last)