One Rep Max

Before I get started with the (red) meat of today’s post, I just wanted to thank those of you who have reached out to me about your own struggles with ED, food, and body image. I know how difficult it can be to tell others about your struggles or to ask for help, and, frankly, I’m amazed by how many of us are out there. 

It’s funny: when we suffer from ED, we see ourselves imprisoned in this horrible, dark, windowless tower, hidden from rescue, alone and miserable. But in reality, those metaphorical towers are all lined up, one next to the other–windowless, perhaps, but not impervious to sound. 

So if you find yourself alone, allowing your jailor ED to make you waste–your body, your life–away, call out. Chances are, someone else–someone just one tower to the right or left–will hear you. And you will know that you are not alone. Together, you have hope. 

(And please, if you ever need to call out, my tower isn’t that far away. In fact, I’ve started carving windows into it, and I can see that there is light outside. Don’t hesitate to call, text, facebook message, comment, tweet…just reach out. I’m here.) 

Ask any truly knowledgable fitness professional about lifting your one rep max, and they’ll probably advise that you don’t attempt it too often. It’s something you aim to increase and improve, sure, but not a feat you seek to pull off every day. It’s an extreme act, meant to be performed in moderation.

In a way, my life had become a poorly executed one rep max: extreme and ultimately unsustainable in the long term.

My nightly excursions to hear the MT’s band play or to sing karaoke with my coworkers–often followed by all nighters and a nine-hour shift at work–were beginning to take their toll on me. Moreover, I had been promoted to full time at work (and given a semi-promotion that involved the same amount of pay for more responsibilities and a ton of extra stress), and I was no longer working out. My diet consisted mainly of apples, egg whites and protein powders laced with acesulfame-K. (Okay, I also ate a lot of peanut and almond butter and deliberately turned a blind eye while I over-measured the 2 tbsp portions).

I started putting on weight. My pants were getting tighter and tighter, and I felt uncomfortable in my own body. I needed new motivation to get back into the gym and get skinny again.

Karaoke night at the Dubliner (and singing, ironically*, No Doubt’s “Spiderwebs”)
*And I mean “ironically” in the Morissette-ian sense, better defined as “unexpectedly coincidental”.

ED suggested that I revisit my bikini-body dreams. So I hired an IFBB pro to train me.

Darrem Charles was one of the trainers at my gym. He had worked with amazing competitors like Erin Stern, and we had struck up conversation after he noticed me doing my daily squats/deadlifts/plyos before my back injury.

My first training session left me with DOMS* like I will never forget: I was in so much pain that I spent both of my fifteens at work and my hour-long lunch in the service hallway, attempting to loosen my knotted muscles with a tennis ball. I didn’t let that faze me though. I was thrilled to be working with Darrem, eagerly anticipating the body that we were going to build together. ED was nearly jumping out of my skin with excitement.

And then my mother moved to California.

Mind you, I was living with her rent-free while I tried to rebuild my life with retail, so when she moved, it forced me to go back into the real world and start to fend for myself like an adult.

World of Beer with my amazing coworkers

Fortunately (or so I thought), I had become incredibly close with two of the guys at work. I considered them my best friends, and they were both also in need of a new place to live. We three found what can only be described as a dream house, and decided to move in together.

The only downside that I could see was that I had to give up my training sessions if I wanted to pay the rent.

I signed up at a new gym close to the dream house, and I prepared to take matters into my own hands. I was going to shape myself into a bikini competitor if it killed me.

Things were looking up, and I was going to hit a new PR. What I didn’t realize was that I had already passed my one rep max, and things were about to change drastically.


*Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

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