There will be no pretty pictures, just me.. talking. I am sorry for the lack of visual aid.
One big thought, really.
Over the past few months I have been, evidently, actively trying to ‘gain weight’. I have been increasing the amount of food I have eaten, limited my exercise intensity and included a rest day, and yet, still from time to time, I don’t feel that satisfied. Rather (a) I get a weird shaky feeling (which, my mother says even she gets from time-to-time, suggesting normality or (b) I feel like I could eat everything in my path. And, I do.
Yet, when I look at the scale, often I only see an increase of about a pound and most recently that increase has stopped. When this all began I was 118. I made a promise to myself a while ago to never go under 120. So, I picked up my boot straps. Now, I am 125. Originally, I made claim to get to ‘130’ lbs. But then I realized, with that mind frame, I was constantly looking to weigh myself, constantly worrying if I didn’t gain weight, I would be “failing” and then, I started to feel just as bad about my body as I did when I was heavy trying to lose:
“Being this thin is gross” was my mind frame. It was officially no different than “being this large is gross”. I still felt equal amount of shame. I actually started to see myself as “disgustingly bony” rather than “disgustingly fat”. To sum up, I had gone completely in the other direction. It was at that moment that I realized, instead of telling myself “you need to gain x amount of weight” or “you need to get this x weight”, I decided to go forth and suggest “you need to get to your happy weight”.
What is my happy weight?
I don’t know, to be honest. It doesn’t have a number.Or a size. Or anything. It is not fat, nor is it skinny. It is healthy and happy. Technically speaking, I am no longer “underweight”. Could my body use more fat? Heck ya. Will I gain weight this way? I would imagine. Why? Probably because in order to get to my happy weight I need to balance my hormones, which does require more ‘fat’ on my body, as ‘fat’ produces oestrogen. Am I pressuring myself to gain? No.
Learning to Love Yourself
In the whole process of ‘getting well’, one thing we need to remember is that recovery is as much about the psychological aspects as it is the physical. Telling myself to gain weight is just as psychologically harmful as telling myself to lose weight. Is it more socially acceptable considering my situation? Yes. Does it make me feel bad? Yes. So, why do it? Why not just focus on how I feel?
All in all the past while, has been great. I have made so many strides
[one] I have never ignored a hunger cue ONCE
[two] I have upped my caloric intake a lot. Sometimes going well over what think I should (unfortunately some days I go under)
[three] I have been trying to focus my attention more on other things that food. For example, at work I try to think of only work. Same goes with school. By putting my attention 100% into something else, I feel less plagued by my diet
[five] I have included one complete rest day and one lightly active day in my weekly schedule t promote “rest” for my body
[six] I eat cake and enjoy it, feeling no guilt after.
So, yes. I have made improvements.
Do I have more to improve on? Yes and I plan to get there when I am good and ready.
Why has this happened?
One of the biggest issues in terms of my ED is ‘control’. Control over servings, control over calories, control over life. Another is ‘limitation’. During stressful times, my response if to limit. Even though aiming to gain is in – and albeit a healthy – the opposite direction of an ED, it is still subject to ‘control’ over my own life. I no longer what to live monitoring how much I eat – only now instead of being “too much”, I fear “too little”. The more and more I thought about it, the more and more it made sense. Even my nutritionist told me to not focus on things too specifically, just be active and eat whole foods (and enough of them) and you’ll get there. Not every day are we going to require the same amount of food, nor will we be the same level in terms of hungriness. So why should we focus on this number or that number?
Also, weight ranges very from person to person. So, what if I gain two more pounds, get to 127 and feel completely happy? Should I be upset that I am not 130 or 135? If I feel good, have energy and am happy, I say… no. Alternatively, if I still need more, then I will increase again.
It is all about listening to your body and honouring what it tells you. I am trying very hard to step away from what I read and just focus on what I feel. If I was drastically underweight and having a very difficult time functioning (say, 100 lbs) I would need to really focus on gain. No questions asked. But at my current level I think 5-15 pounds would be fine. I am just not going to stress over it at all. If my body doesn’t feel right, I eat more. If I feel great, then I am good.
I guess what I do need to admit to is the one area I need to improve, which is: accepting that some days I WILL be hungrier and that that is OKAY.
As I mentioned, some days we are bound to be more hungry than others. It could be for one of many reasons. More active, maybe we did not eat enough due to low appetite the day before. Who knows. What I need to focus on is remembered that that is fine. Completely fine, in fact. And in stead of panicking and suggesting that I am ‘shaky’ or ‘weak’, just get something to eat because I am ‘hungry‘.
For example, two days ago I did a lot of walking around and lifting at work. The day after I did not feel overly hungry or anything, so I lived my life normally. Then yesterday, all that activity required more food. So I ate more food. Getting ‘hungry’ is normal. Maybe I should leave behind this idea of being ‘shaky’. Honestly, sometimes I think hungry is just ‘shaky’ to me because for so long I didn’t know what hungry was because it was all I felt. So, now that I am establishing a difference between ‘hungry’ and ‘satisfied’ that hungry feeling is… ‘shaky’.
So from here on out, shaky no more. I am hungry.
I will listen and honour. Point blank.