A lot can be said in our world today for quick fixes and tips for losing a few extra pounds. Diet culture has exploded, and social media has been a huge driving force for such a topic. However the same can not be said for trying to gain weight and what the realities are for those going through this.
I have frequently fallen victim to the internet. Being entranced by so many what I eat in a day videos and clean regimes that I have lost count. I became excited to emulate the lifestyles of some of my favourite influences. Living under the impression that extremely clean eating and frequent exercise made me the epitome of good health. I was unknowingly starving my body and working out for multiple hours of the day for well over a year. I didn’t allow myself to enjoy food and this “healthy lifestyle” took full control over my life.
Since the beginning of the year, I have been working to regain weight and listen more to my body. In truth, I rushed to thinking I would be fixed in a matter of weeks. I am since learning weight gain is a journey just like anything you go through. There has been a lot of ups and downs along the way. As I write this, I see great signs of recovery, but I am aware that I still have some way to go.
It’s not as simple as eating a few more burgers
Family and friends will tell you gaining weight can’t be that difficult. They would love to be able to eat whatever they wanted. The reality is when you have struggled with disordered eating it is not as simple as just adding a few more snacks and larger meals to your diet.
Recovering from unhealthy food habits takes time. It requires retraining your mind to start allowing once prohibited foods back into your diet and in mass. Every day is a battle against your mind trying to retrace back to bad habits. On top of that feeling sick after every meal is enough to make you want to give up entirely.
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Unfortunately, I was not financially in a position to enlist the help of a nutritionist. My GP said just put on a few pounds and you’ll be fine. I had no reason to doubt them and so off I went to put my plan of reduced exercise and consuming more food into action.
Part of me wishes I had found a way to seek out the help of a nutritionist. Perhaps by doing so my recovery would have been accelerated. But now I am finally listening to my body and what it needs 6 months down the line I feel I’m in tune with what my body needs.
Weight gain is not a one size fits all
Having spent countless hours researching success stories on the internet I had convinced myself if I follow the same routine I will be back to perfect health in no time. Many women would share details of how they just sat on the couch and ate a lot of pizza but for me, the thought of being still was utterly terrifying. (I guess that’s when you know you still have a problem) I knew I was required to eat more but I still wanted to be nourishing my body with the right foods and exercising regularly.
It takes time
After the 3 months, I had regained all the weight I had lost in the last year. I was ecstatic. I couldn’t believe it was all paying off. So happy to be able to stop counting the calories to make sure I was eating enough. Almost one month later I had lost all the weight I had worked so hard to regain. I was crushed and couldn’t believe this was happening to me.
After a couple of months, my weight gain had stabilised, and I started to feel like myself again. But, as a result of the stress and trauma my body has been through I developed HA (Hypothalamic Amenorrhoea) since July 2020. So while I was back to a healthy weight I knew deep down something wasn’t quite right still. I have been assured by several doctors and specialists that there are underlying concerns and my period would resume with time. I just needed to be patient.
Just last week I stumbled upon the book No Period Now What. It became apparent I still wasn’t eating enough to restore the energy my body had lost. It is staggering just how much I have learned from this book when I reflect on all the avenues I have gone down over the course of the year. I am now just walking for 30 mins every day with light yoga or stretching a few times a week. My calorie intake has almost doubled what it was originally and sitting still is the new norm.
I have days where I still long for the six-pack and skinny frame. I look in the mirror and wish I didn’t have cellulite or stretch marks. But I am now coming to terms with what is healthy for my body and not putting a number on what I think the scales need to read. I am finally learning to let go and not let food or exercise consume my whole existence.
Trying to gain weight can be a difficult process. Help is out there, even if the solution doesn’t appear directly obvious. It can take some time trying different things to figure out an approach that works for you. It’s important to be patient with yourself during this time and try to regain an appreciation for food and your body. Your future self will thank you for going through this now and moving forward towards a much healthier and happier life.