Appetite decline during training programs

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  • #72529
    Larissa Zhou

    I’m in the middle of my second cycle through the female Uphill Athlete mountaineering training program. In both cycles, by the time I hit week 6, my body feels depleted and … “dull.” Specifically, one phenomenon that I’m a bit bewildered by is the decline of my appetite. It is happening now and it also happened in my previous training program. In the first few weeks, I’m training hard and am always hungry, so I eat a lot. But now, I’m training hard or harder, feeling tired, but…I’m not hungry. Food just doesn’t look appetizing, whereas usually I love food and get really excited about cooking and satisfying my cravings. So I’m looking at the amount that I end up eating based on listening to my body and thinking that it can’t possibly be enough. But should I force myself to eat more or what..? Has anyone experienced a similar sort of appetite-suppression?

    A couple notes:
    – I don’t track my food intake at the moment; it was a long slow journey to get to a mindset where I can eat without shame or judgement. Now that I have a healthier relationship to my body and food, I’m open to thinking about my nutrition and food intake in a more intentional way. I’ve never consistently trained before starting with Uphill Athlete and just like key topics like zone 2, base building, etc, perhaps nutrition is a missing piece that I need to hone in on. Happy to hear about any tips to getting started on this.

    – I’ve been listening to my body and taking days off/easier instead of religiously following the training plan.

  • Keymaster
    Jane Mackay on #72551

    Larissa, it sounds like you and I have similar stories. I was anorexic in my teens and it’s only been since training in the FUA group (I did three rounds last year), especially the group calls with Rebecca Dent, experiencing exactly what you describe in terms of dullness and also finding myself over and over again getting suddenly depleted after (and then during) mountain days or hard training sessions that I have been able to see clearly that even though I was techically “over” the anorexia, in reality I had carried that mindset all the way through adulthood. I am now 52.
    I experience what you describe — even after — and during — a big session I’m just not hungry and I really have no interest in food. I also did the macros (NOT calories) tracker thing, and found myself getting obsessive again, so I stopped. I decided I needed someone to tell me what to eat when, so I had a one-time consultation with Rebecca Dent and she created me a custom nutrition plan to support my training. It also supports my life because it outlines meals and snacks for each day of the week. I don’t eat the exactly what it says on the plan, but rather use it as a guideline: OK, right now I’m supposed to eat a pre-training snack of this much carbs and this much protein, so like a robot I do that. And ditto for post-training and meal composition. I manage it by not allowing myself to think about whether I’m hungry or not. I just eat what I’m supposed to eat because I know that if I don’t, I’ll reap the negative consequences eventually (and it usually doesn’t take long). I also robotically follow the guidelines for what to eat when *during* training. I just pull out the damn food and eat it.
    It has been well worth it. I now have consistent energy, greater strength, and better mental clarity throughout each day, and I’m able to train harder and thus get more benefit from it, especially strength training. I just keep repeating Rebecca’s mantra to myself: fuel your training.

    Larissa Zhou on #72605

    Thank you so much for sharing Jane. The idea of carrying forward the disordered eating “mindset” resonates. During my younger days, I’d conditioned myself to feel good only when my stomach is empty (and to feel even better when I hear my stomach growling). When I say that I don’t like eating a lot when exercising, it’s really that I’ve conditioned my brain to ignore the signals of my body.

    Something like booking a one-time consult with Rebecca seems like a doable baby step. I’ve been reluctant to touch nutrition at all because I was afraid to get sucked back into the food-as-enemy mindset. But your experience shows me it doesn’t have to be that way. Thank you!

    Jane Mackay on #72606

    I found the consultation hugely helpful because it takes the decision making out of it. I really do just turn my mind off and do what Rebecca has advised me to do — and it is 100% worth it. I got so sick of the dullness, low energy and diminished mental functioning. For me, menopause has been a factor too, but nutrition has been the primary factor.
    I see she’s changed the way she offers consultations on here — when I did it she offered the full deal of creating the meal plan, but now it’s by time. However, if you email her your story (feel free to mention me) and your needs, she’ll be able to guide you on how much time to book to end up with nutrition guidelines that will serve you. She’s had lots of experience in dealing with the pyschological side of eating. For me, it ended up that the idea of not being able to move the way I wanted in the mountains was — and is — more powerful than the long-ingrained, detrimental mindset.
    Best wishes in moving forward :))

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