Life without Anorexia

My motto is
'Dont let the sadness of your past & the fear of your future ruin the happiness of your present'

My life at the moment is completely different to how it once was. I spent 5 years sick with anorexia nervosia and depression as well as struggling with self harm and overexercising. I spent 2 years in different treatment centres.
And since 2012 i have been declared healthy from my eating disorder.

I have been blogging for 7 years, and my whole journey is written in my posts. I now represent healthy and happiness. I want to show anyone struggling that it is possible to recover, no matter how hard it may seem.

I now blog about recovery, my life, veganism and positivity!

If you have any questions leave them in the comment section as i am much quicker at answering there, otherwise you can always send an email:


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

I want to gain muscle but not gain fat

Three questions which i see far too often recently and are really beginning to get on my nerve are:

I want to gain muscle but i dont want to gain fat
I dont want to get bulky
If i want to lose weight and have to burn more than i eat, how am i supposed to exercise away 1500 kcal? (example question)

And i get it... most people arent so interested in nutrition or exercise or how the body works. I mean i am pretty sure i have asked some pretty "dumb" questions about cars or make up or songs etc And i am pretty sure anyone who has an interest in a certain area or topic end up getting iritated over the same type of questions being asked all the time.

But what also irritates me is society.... Because for females there is the ideal of the thin body i.e catwalk model body but also now there is the ideal of super lean, big butt and big breasts but basically no fat anywhere else and preferably a toned stomach but not full on abs.

Those ideals are just wrong, because for the majority of people they arent healthy or attainable. And being able to have big breasts and a big butt while also having very little body fat percent, not so easy and not to mention not so healthy physically or mentally.

I am going to start off with the first question which i see about 5 times a day on different pages or sites, and the fact is... to gain muscle you need to gain fat as well. Gaining muscle means being in a surplus of calories, and not all those calories go to your muscles, they also get stored as fat. But in time, as you gain more muscle your body will also burn more each day as muscle is active and therefore needs energy all the time to keep it that way. So generally speaking the more muscle you have the easier it is to lose fat over time. Because when you are in a deficit of calories, i.e eating less than your body needs (below your TDEE) then your body will be in a catabol state and need to take energy from its own stores, but it will also break down muscle for energy as well as part of the protein you eat going to energy to sustain the body and glucose levels instead of going to the protein synthes.... that is why its easier to gain muscle while on a calorie surplus because the protein will go to the protein synthes and building up of your muscles (if you strength train anyway, otherwise protein will be converted to glucose and stored anyway) . But you cant forget that the muscles also need glucose to be able to work to their potential and to then build stronger.

Anyway, there were just the facts. But people seem to be so incredibly scared of gaining fat, and they just want to gain muscle... and many who are in "recovery" i have noticed just want to gain muscle so that the number on the scale goes up but they dont go up in fat and can therefor trick the people around them that they are a healthy weight when in all honesty their body fat is below a healthy level and most likely their thoughts about themselves, food and exercise arent healthy.

Your body needs fat, thats a simple fact. You both need to eat fat for the essential fatty acids, but your body also needs fat to function. I mean people are incredibly scared of cholesterol but we already have cholesterol in our body which is synthesized on its own and is part of the cell membran as well as other important functions in the body, and not to mention the important functions fat has in our body both keeping us warm and acting as a shock absorber for our organs as well as being part of the cell membran. Women especially need a certain procent of body fat to keep their body healthy and for their menstrual cycle to function. If you workout too much, eat too little, dont get enough fat or iron in your diet or you are very stressed or have too low body fat, all of those things can affect you getting your menstrual cycle, which can be good to be aware of.

Wanting to build muscle should be 1) To be stronger and feel stronger, 2) You want to progress with your exercise i.e if you are a runner, swimming, lifter, dancer etc it is beneficial to have muscle mass 3) Because you think it looks good (I mean you cant deny that many people who strength train do it for appearance reasons, but i ALSO think there should be other reasons behind why you workout or strength train, because having just appearance based goals will never make you satisfied and you will just keep comparing yourself to others). It is ok to have fat on your body, in fact it is essential. YES, you most likely will gain fat when you gain muscle... no that shouldnt prohibit you from strength training, and really, it isnt that much fat. Also when you strength train you get different body proportions and ratios. I mean i weigh roughly 4-5kg more than when i began to strength train but i look very different (picture below to show the difference).

Also know that for girls it takes alot to look "bulky" from strength training... Its not like you drink one scoop of protein powder, do some deadlifts and bicep curls and suddenly you look like someone who has trained for 20 years. But that is what some people seem to think.... Of course some have it easier to gain muscle, i mean some girls who have worked out for 9 months or a year have gained the same muscle mass that i have in 3 years, so body types are different. I dont easily gain weight or muscle so for me it is more of a struggle to build muscle and then maintain the muscle mass i have, but i am more focused on trying to keep up my strength and improve my strength and progress in my workouts, rather than building muscle. Strength train for YOU and because you want to, and the chance of you getting bulky is very unlikely.

And last but not least, "you need to burn more than you eat" - this question isnt so appropriate for this blog, but it might be a good reminder anyway. Your body is always burning calories so your BMR is what your body burns just keeping you alive for example if you were in a coma you would get fed by a tube the amount your BMR is (usually around 1300-1600 kcal depending on height, weight, body ratio etc). But then your TDEE is what your body burns including activity, which can be anywhere from 2200-3200 or more. So for me when i have calculated i have a BMR of around 1450, but a TDEE of around 2800-3000, and that is roughly the amount i eat each day more or less.  Bbut when people talk about burning more than you eat, it doesnt mean you eat 1200 and run 2 hours to burn 1200, it means you eat less than your TDEE ex. i would eat roughly 2300-2500 if i wanted to lose weight. Not appropriate on here, but i hope that makes sense... to make you realise that if you are eating 800kcal a day.... it is not enough, even eating 2000kcal and trying to gain weight on that isnt really enough. Because weight gain should mean eating your maintenance (i.e most people around 2000kcal without any extra exercise + 500kcal to gain weight. And then if you exercise as well you need to eat those burned calories)

So... a long post and i am pretty sure nobody read all of it, thats ok. I just felt like i needed to rant and share some information and "facts". Dont be scared of fat, there are far worse things in life than having fat on your body and if you are so scared of having fat on your body but you want to exercise 12 hours a week, then ask yourself how healthy is your relationship with your body, exercise and food?



  1. Hi Izzy

    Please could you help me. I'm gaining weight but I'm still starving hungry. I think my metabolism has slowed right down and so i only need to add 35 cals for my weight to shoot up. I don't know what to do. If i add more food in my weight will rocket but if i don't then I'm in pain from hunger and my metabolism will remain low. My thighs and stomach are bigger than they've ever been and i don't know what to do.

  2. I was amused by the second in the list of "labels" for this post! ;-)
    I like the post; I like your sense and energy, and am always grateful when you breathe the sharpness of your insight into things where people get so lost in the fog. So nice when someone sits up and talks sense instead of lying down and letting the fog grow heavier. Thank you.

    1. When I read your comment I was like... oh no, what have I tagged this post with as I wrote it at 6am. .. haha. But I have small rants about things sometimes and need to make it clear that it's a rant XD

  3. Lovely post! I was just wondering, a while ago you said you were looking for jobs at sports or health shops. Why not consider waitressing? The tips are great :)

    1. Hmm I've never really thought about waitressing but it might be something I should consider :)

  4. Why do you post pictures of food and quotes like i am fat but i love food on instagram? Well i thought you are fully recovered and you arent still obsessed with food. Am i right, do you still think about food too much?

    1. That's the theme of my instagram. .. I. E just food and food quotes and takes about 30 minutes of my day. ... the other 23 hours and 30 minutes is spent on other things (well including making food). Social media doesn't say everything. .. and no I don't spend my whole life and all my thoughts on food.

    2. I have to say, I'm always so impressed with how mature your answers and replies are to rude/judgmental comments like the one above. Seriously impressed with your patience. I would be so angry if people falsely accused me of things but you handle it with such grace.

  5. I read all of your post and found it very interesting. I can understand why you get irritated!
    The female body is supposed to have curves and get those curves you have to have a percentage of fat - that is normal, so why do we try to tamper with nature?
    Great post Izzy - thanks for writing it

  6. Thanks for the great information! I now finally understand some of the science behind BMR and how muscle is built.