The weather this weekend was beautiful. It was nearly 70° on Saturday. In Chicago. In February. It was great. I mean, aside from my run on Saturday, my only real time outside this weekend was walking from the dorm to the library and back again, but it was still wonderful.
So wonderful, in fact, that when I somewhat grudgingly decided to meet my friend at the library on Saturday evening, I was like, “Psh. If I have to put on real clothes, they’re going to be shorts.”
I took off my giant cozy sweats and dug through my drawer to find shorts that haven’t been anywhere near appropriate since the beginning of fall quarter.
When I put them on, it was confirmation of the thing I’ve known for the last couple months: I’ve gained some weight.
If you’ve known me for any length of time, you probably know that I’ve been working on gaining weight for most of my young adult life. The standard advice of “eat all the time” and “lift weights” and “eat x calories” really didn’t work for me. It just didn’t.
What did work is pretty complicated, but I want to tell you about it. That’s what I do.
When I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my hip last August, my doctor mentioned, as doctors have always tended to do with me, that I would benefit from gaining weight. Duh, I know. I let it go, though.
The doctor I saw in Chicago regarding the same stress fracture was a lot more threatening. If I had written this then, I might remember what he said, but I don’t. I just remember how it affected me. It really scared me. I attempted to follow up with him, but he was unresponsive to my appointment requests. It was a great experience, obviously.
It did really get to me, though. So, sometimes – usually at night – I would recall his message and get a little more freaked out. My “solution” was to just eat whatever was around, often until I was uncomfortable. It’s what I might be inclined to call bingeing, but it was always pretty intentional: “Should I eat more? I’m not hungry. But the doctor said…”
I’ve noted occasionally that I have become an emotional eater since starting college. Basically, that means that at night when I’m feeling lonely or sad or stressed, I sometimes eat a lot of food.
This year, that got compounded with the scary doctor message and also an increased workout regimen, so I physically have felt hungrier. During fall quarter, I was doing yoga teacher training and taking yoga classes on top of my regular workouts nearly 5 times a week. This quarter, I’ve been ramping up my running, lifting weights a bit more, and doing yoga whenever I can.
All of that has meant that whatever calorie goals I had previously been given were pretty much blown out of the water, but also that I had no idea what to target. When I tracked how many calories I was ending up eating most nights, I was pretty shocked. I can remember a time when eating 2200 calories a day because that’s what I was told I needed “to gain weight” was hard, but I can and often do hit 4000 with relative ease now.
Even when it felt wrong or uncomfortable, it always also felt like I was doing something right, so I kept at it.
To recap: I got scared by an insensitive doctor, ate more than anyone had ever told me to eat before, and gave in to some emotional eating that wasn’t super comfortable. Also, working out helped make me feel good and strong and sane.On emotional eating, gaining weight, and learning to be happy with it all. #FitFluential Click To Tweet
How it feels
Good, 85% of the time.
I’m not going to lie to you: sometimes I feel like a stuffed sausage in both clothes and in my skin, even though I am acutely aware that I am still very small. I’m still getting used to the body I’ve been working toward for years. And I know which mirrors make me feel out of proportion, so I avoid those because why torture yourself?
But, yeah, mostly it feels good. In the last few months, I’ve probably received more compliments from more people on the way I look than ever in my life. While we can debate whether or not appearance-based compliments are a good thing, I think we can all agree that it feels nice when you receive them. Also, I feel stronger and have better endurance than ever. Obviously, that’s largely due to training, but also due to all the fueling for the training. I certainly haven’t just gained muscle, but there’s a lot more muscle than there used to be.
The emotional eating still feels icky, honestly. That’s part of my quest for more and better self care. It requires pep talks when I feel overly full. It requires making sure I eat enough throughout the day so I don’t go to bed feeling uncomfortably stuffed. It’s a work in progress. (Aren’t we all?)
Also, it feels great to be supported. I texted several of my friends who have been in my life during my weight gain journey on Saturday and they were all very excited for me, which was exactly what I needed when I was considering having to buy a whole new wardrobe.
It took me a really long time to get my calorie intake up to where it needed to be to start to make the scale go up. It’s not easy or all that comfortable to just eat and eat and eat. Even when you want to gain weight. It’s not easy to feel like you’re eating way too much or like you’re a balloon pretending to be a person. I could totally stand to gain more.Gaining weight can be a good thing. #fituniversity #FitFluential Click To Tweet
About those shorts
Honestly, my clothes do still fit. They’re just noticeably a little more snug to me. I called my mom as soon as I put them on and was like, “Uh, we need to go shopping at spring break.”
Maybe we do, but that might have been an exaggeration. They look pretty good, actually.
Have you struggled with your weight?
What’s the best thing you did/ate this weekend?
P.S. As always, if you have any questions or if you need some support or a cheerleader, I am glad to be that person for you. Message me on Instagram or Facebook, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment and I will happily respond ASAP.