Just by looking at me it would be hard to tell that at one time I was underweight. I am currently 5’ 11” and average between 175-180 pounds. But not too long ago I weighed between 120-125 pounds.
During high school I was on the wrestling team. I distinctly remember my mother worrying that I would face issues with eating problems as our high school’s team was infamous for radical weight loss among its wrestlers.
There are many policies in place to prevent students from attempting unhealthy weight loss in order to make weight. But it was the unspoken rule among the team that no one asked how team members lost weight. Coaches seemed to be more interested in whether you could make weight and win than if you were losing too much.
My best friend in high school would go for six-eight mile-runs in sweat clothes with a black trash bag covering his body to lose water weight. He was a muscular guy. Weighing about 140 pounds during the season and stood at about 5’10”. The problem was that he didn’t really have weight to lose because the majority of his weight was muscle-weight. By the end of the season he would have achieved an incredible win record but at the same time his eyes would look sunken and his face was gaunt and pale. He suffered from bulimia. I remember looking back through my high school year book last summer and noting how he looked sick in almost every photo taken while he was in season.
I remember weighing a slim 135-140 pounds before the season began. I came to my first practice and my coaches told me that they wanted me to weigh in at the 120-125 range. I thought “Where is the weight going to come from?” By the end of the season I was around 120 pounds. When my weight would fluctuate and I would gain I remember thinking that I would give anything to lose just one more pound so that I could keep my weight class. I would starve myself. I would eat potatoes and “season” them with water when I was in a cutting week before a meet. I would go for a run in sweats and a black plastic bag then crawl under the wrestling mat in our heated gym to lose the maximum amount of water weight.
I grew to dislike what little food I ate. I lost my appetite.
I eventually realized, after having to see a doctor several times for various illnesses caused by my weak body, that I needed to give up wrestling. I slowly eased my way back into a healthy eating pattern. Since the days when I wrestled I have gained a new appreciation for good food. I now hold it to be true that good food is good for the soul and that I would much rather strengthen my soul and appease my appetite for good food than lose weight. Nowadays I am attempting to gain muscle weight. But it seems strange to think that not too long ago I would have given anything to lose just one more pound.