Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sunday Reflections - Its HARD to Gain Weight - Part One

I think that probably got some people's attention. And fury no doubt.

What I've learned this past year is that there are a LOT of strong emotions linked into how much a person weights. Good or Bad. From ourselves and from others. And I've learned that I'm not immune to them. Which was a bit of a surprise.

When I say hard - I mean complicated and negative. I'm talking about the emotions behind gaining weight. Not about it being hard to actually eat enough food to gain the pounds. Although that can be hard for a select few.

Over my life I have always been on the smallish size. Although my husband considers me "average". He told the jeweler that when he bought my engagement ring. It fell right off my finger. It was WAY too big. So I guess its safe to say I'm a bit below average.

I'm about 5' 6 1/2" and my weight has usually hovered in the 126 - 135 range. With the exception of the year or two when I put on my "freshman fifteen" and again after I had my second child. After baby number two I was virtually sedentary, had a fierce sugar tooth and seemed to be on that slow but certain path of gaining a few extra pounds each year.

Even on those occasions when it seemed those 15 pounds were here to stay it never got me too worked up. I never tried to diet (maybe tweak). I have never owned a scale my whole life (I'm 37). I think, or thought, I had a pretty healthy self image. A healthy (if very close and fond) relationship with food. I never obsessed over each new pound. I'm human - I thought about it. It bugged me a bit. But I was kind of resigned to the fact that with children and age my new normal was going to be a bit bigger. And it was not enough to motivate me to give up my beloved sweets.

And then this year happened.

If you have followed my story you know that after baby #3 I went on a low carb diet to try and lose some baby weight. This time I was well over my 15 pound comfort zone and for the first time in my life I went on a diet. A real diet. You might also know that although it worked and the pounds started melting off I discovered something amazing in the process. A miracle. To me at least. My digestive issues cleared up, a lifetime of issues, and I felt more energy than I could ever remember.

So what started as a "diet" turned into a lifestyle overhaul. A new way of living and eating.  Weight maintenance is not a big enough motivator to keep food out of my mouth. I just love it too much. But not walking through each day in a brain fog and with constant stomach upset. Now that is some good motivation.

So as the year went on, and I stuck with my new way of eating the pounds kept melting off.

I passed the low end of my normal weight range within about 6 months of my diet and by June of this year I was about 110 pounds. I was also working out 4 - 5 days a week so I was really lean. Way under my normal weight.

Upon reflection, what I find interesting is that as I was on my way down it was SO FUN to step on the scale each week . Sure enough another pound would be gone. And even though one part of my brain was saying "that's enough already you don't need to lose any more weight, its not normal, its not healthy, its not sustainable" there was another part gently urging me on "how would you look if you lost a few more".

So even though I knew I was getting too thin (for me), I kind of liked it. And it was kind of scary to feel that way. Is that how an eating disorder starts? It didn't look good on me so how could I like it. My veins were literally bulging out all over my body. My chest looked like a 3-D road map of Canada. I was getting comments like "Are you okay? You look frail." I had crossed the line between looking fit and healthy and looking sick. I had no bum (I've always had a bum). But I also had no cellulite. And in today's society, the ideals for women are high. Air-brushed, surgically altered ideals. So my mind was silently relishing that I had achieved a cellulite free bum. And I also secretly knew that it wouldn't last (more on that next week).

And I started feeling pretty terrible. I was having severe digestive distress. I felt tired. I was ravenously HUNGRY all the bloody time. I couldn't fill up. And believe me I tried.

And all that muscle mass I had worked so hard at building was quickly disappearing. I felt weak. Or a lot weaker than I had.

And Holy S(#@ did I get flack about how I looked. Weight discrimination on the low end. I didn't realize that thin people got discriminated against but they do. Or at least they get a lot of negative attention.

People are very suspect when you lose lots of weight. They automatically think you are starving yourself. And that you necessarily have any control over it. Which let's be clear on a couple of things:

1) I was eating more than my husband and still starving (keep in mind he was double my weight and almost a foot taller than me); and
2) I was breastfeeding (still am).

Yes I could have stopped working out. Yes I could have started eating more carbs. Yes I could have stopped breastfeeding.

But working out for me is about my mental as much as my physical health so I didn't do that. I did cut back - I had too. And I have pretty severe adrenal fatigue so having any significant carbs in my diet just doesn't work for me unless I want to be in a constant state of pissiness. And I also had (I wish this was totally past tense) a severe case of intestinal Candida. So I needed to be on the Candida diet. And giving up breastfeeding - well again, not really my choice.

Needless to say, some people were worried. Some people seemed pissed off. And lots of people thought I was taking this clean eating thing too far.

Okay. That's all I've got for today. The kids want to do a Christmas craft and I have said "5 more minutes" way too many times. So stayed tuned for next week when I try reflect on:

  • why I got so thin even though I was eating like a horse (I have a couple of theories);
  • and the feelings that come with gaining weight. 

If you started reading this post and were really annoyed with me. Don't be. I've gained 14 pounds and am almost back in my normal range. And the scale is climbing by leaps and bounds each time I step on it.  I don't know where its going to land and that scares me because I am still HUNGRY all the time. Not ravenous. But enough to keep me thinking of food most of the day.

And if you think I'm bragging. I'm not trying too. I'm just reflecting. I'm learning a lot of things about society, people and myself as I go along this journey. A part of which has been how weight loss and gain affects a person. And I'm just sharing what I'm learning. Take it or leave it!

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