This is part 1 of ‘Becoming The FruitMonster’.
So, yes, I eat “strangely”. Although, I would argue that, given the evolutionary history of mankind, that it is actually the general populous in the developed world, that eats strangely. I’m the one trying to eat in the manner that my body was designed to, rather than in the extremely messed up way that Americans are eating in this day in age. Did you know that a statistic came out last week that 1 in 2 Americans will have diabetes by 2020? The way we eat in this country and the rest of the developed world is a serious problem, and it certainly is not getting any better.
My recent tweeting of my dietary habits and my posts on this blog have naturally lead people to question the way I eat. And believe me, I can understand why many of you are curious, especially my close friends, because not even they really understand the extent of the serious digestive health issues I have suffered from over the past 6 years. It is these digestive health issues that I have lead me to create this website. This entry, and the others that will follow it (this is has become quite the saga!), will hopefully shed some light on the mystery that surrounds “Nick’s stomach issues”. I have tried to explain it all to an inquisitive friend from time to time, but the story has so many twists and turns, that it is difficult to hold someone’s attention for the length of time required for me to elaborate fully.
The Foolish Frosh
The story begins with me as a freshman in college, set out to gain his freshman fifteen. That’s right, what every eighteen year old girl fears through giggly thigh nightmares, I dreamed happily of. I wanted to hit the multi-million dollar, beautiful Ping Fitness Center at Ohio University with a muscle driven fervor. In short, I wanted to get jacked. Jacked and tan.
You see, I had always been self-conscious about being a thin guy. Worrying about my body constantly in high-school, comparing myself to the other guys around me, who all seemed to have more athletic physiques than I. At this point in my life, embarking upon my collegiate journey, I probably felt that if I had bigger muscles, I would be more attractive, assertive and well… happier.
So my buddy Jared and I hit the weight room. But not the way that every other foolhardy freshman frat-tast did, showing up for the first two weeks and then disappearing, we were in that place religiously, like the grey-hairs at the local diner breakfast. Pumping iron a solid five-days a week, with routines customized for us by a personal trainer. Our work-outs would take an hour or more to complete, and we would be sore for days after pushing our bodies to the limit each session. Sometimes we would even spend our Friday or Saturday night there, to beat the crowds. This was some great bonding for the two of us, and probably kept us out of a lot of trouble (but definitely not out of trouble entirely ).
Dining Hall Monster… Not as Catchy
But building up your body is not just thrusting weight plates, lactic acid and sweatbands, it also involves a LOT of eating, especially if you have a naturally fast metabolism (yours truly). Lucky for us, the university dining halls just happen to offer a plethora of choices when it came to chomping calories, and boy did I ever chomp. I POUNDED food, I’m talking facing eats by the plateful. Returning to the buffet line thrice routinely. And what did I eat? None other than protein son! Plenty of it. But please, hold the carbs. I would stack my plate with breaded shrimp, creating a mound of peeled off carb mush when I was done. Breaded fish or chicken? Same story. What it’s wok wednesday? Give me double beef and go light on the teryaki sauce. You could even catch me stacking hamburger patties three or four at a time on my burgers (suck on that cholesterol total Big Mac!). Oh, and for breakfast time, you could find me gobbling up scrambled eggs galore, with mounds of bacon and sausage. Dr. Atkins would be delighted… but he is too dead to share in our elation (yeah, from a heart attack… what a great doctor!).
What’s worse, each meal, I would eat until I was STUFFED. When I was doing this, I was unknowingly putting all sorts of bad pressure on the junction of my stomach and esophagus, creating some seriously bad mojo (which will be an important thing to remember later – part 4!). All in the name of the gun show, ladies. Man I was an idiot. But I’m sorry to say, it gets worse. Jared and I, we were slamming down double protein shakes of 64 grams of protein a piece. Not once, not twice, but three times a day. 7 days a week. We would get these in between meals, after workouts and before we went to bed at night. We were such dummies that we bought two 50 pound sacks of chocolate protein powder to meet this savage demand for whey, never once considering how terrible this was for us (especially our heart health).
I Gained Weight, A lot of It!
You may ask, “Well Nick, did all this hard work and binge eating pay off?” Well, yes it did. When I first went off to college, I weighed about 145-150 lbs. But by spring break of freshman year, I had packed on almost 30 pounds, clocking in at 173-174 lbs. During this time, I had put on some extra fat, but most of it was muscle gains. On the outside, my body looked great. Although, the most interesting thing about the whole process is that I was never satisfied with the amount I had gained (how’s that for psychological head games!), and was always anxiously asking for additional additions to my digital scale reading.
However, by the end of my first year at Ohio U, my digestive system was in the process of breaking down. I had overwhelmed it with a ridiculous influx of calories, on the order of nothing my body could have anticipated or properly dealt with. My pancreas had been red-lined producing all those extra digestive enzymes, along with my stomach being stretched beyond its capacity at every meal, and my intestinal tract being asked to work extremely hard and without any chance to rest (believe it or not, fasting is amazingly healthy for your body!).