I talk a lot about how weight gain has made my health much better. But has it been only a good experience?
I would be lying if I said that I feel absolutely awesome in my new looking body every minute of the day.
There are good things about gaining weight, and there are bad things. In this post, I'm going to share with you how I really feel about the weight that I put on throughout the last year — which was probably around 12-18 lbs, I'm guessing…
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Not Everything about Gaining Weight Is Awesome
When you look at the body positivity posts on Instagram, for example, you see a lot of people telling you that they used to hate their bodies when they were smaller and leaner, but now, as they've put on significant amount of weight, this body hate has turned into body love.
If that's the case, I'm really glad to hear it and I'm very happy for them.
But I think they don't feel better because they're larger now or because they hated to see the muscle definition they used to have before. They feel that way because they've changed their mindset around their bodies and how they think about their bodies. They've come to a realization that their health and happiness aren't actually related to their leanness.
There are some things that I definitely liked more about my body when I was smaller.
I'm going to be honest and say that from the aesthetic perspective, I liked my leaner body that I used to have, better, than I like my larger body that I'm living in right now. We like looking good, don't we? That's also why we put on make up, do our hair and put on nice clothes when we go out to dinner. It's okay to like one thing better than the other.
I also like how I was able to move better when I was working out. Small weight gain probably doesn't make a big difference when you run, jump with a jump rope, do burpees or other cardio exercise. I don't really believe it when people say that they need to lose 3lbs because that will make them better at rock climbing or running. This is probably very insignificant difference and would not drastically improve their performance, if at all.
However, a significant weight gain that I have experienced makes these things harder. I just don't move as fast as I used to when I'm working out. Jumping with a jump rope is harder. Sprinting is harder. I'm also not able to do a correct dead hang pull up at the moment, something that I was able to do when I was much lighter.
I'm guessing that compared to December 2016, when I started recovering from hypothalamic amenorrhea, I have gained maybe even close to 20 lbs. And I was not underweight when I started — you can definitely lose your period due to overtraining even if you aren't underweight.
So yes, there are times when I do feel uncomfortable in my skin. I liked the way I looked more when I was leaner and lighter, and I loved that I was able to do certain workouts better, and I loved that I didn't get out of breath as fast as I do now.
So, while there is so much diversity and I respect it all, I do admit that there were things that I liked better about my smaller body than I like about my larger body.
What Gaining Weight Has Given Me
However, I realize some important things that have come as a result of gaining weight.
My overall health is better. Looking good and maintaining this look meant that my health was going downhill. I needed to gain weight to restore my hormonal balance and get healthy again. I don't know how far I would have gone with working out hard had my acupuncturist not told me to take a break. I probably would have gotten myself into a serious adrenal burnout so I'm really glad things didn't get that far.
Because I had to gain weight, my health improved.
I take rest days which means I respect my body more than I ever have before. Wanting to be lean was the reason why I obsessively worked out almost every single day and felt super guilty on my rest days. No matter how tired I was physically or mentally, I would still work out. Some people admired my willpower. Yes, I did have a lot of willpower, but I also completely ignored my inner voice and common sense which both told me that I needed to rest. And eventually, my willpower was definitely running low because it was getting harder and harder to motivate myself to work out.
Now as I had to cut back on working out, I could finally rest. It meant gaining weight, but what I got in return was feeling more relaxed, less anxious and less pressured to turn every small movement into a workout.
I no longer have food demons. Wanting to look better also made me restrict my eating a lot. The worst times were definitely when I used to run a ton. Back then, there weren't too many foods that I allowed myself to eat. Later came strict Paleo when I had zero bread, pasta, flour, sugar or even potatoes.
I definitely under ate severely and never ate before I worked out.
Later when I got into strength training, I would still work out fasted most mornings, because I was used to it and because I told myself that I just can't eat anything before or I feel sick. However the main reason was still that I thought I would burn more fat when I work out without any food in my stomach.
When I had to take time off, I obviously stopped this habit because on of the main things you need to do to restore your hormonal balance is to eat more. Again, as a result, I gained weight but it happened because I started to respect my body: I no longer starved myself.
Gaining weight helped me to realize that I needed to eat much more than I had eaten before. I also know much better how much to eat and when to stop. Before, I would sometimes eat and eat and eat when I was already full. This thing has gone now — I feel very clearly when it's time to stop. The signals of hunger and fullness are much clearer than they were before.
There are moments when weight gain definitely doesn't feel good. It doesn't always look good. I have no problem being honest and saying that I did like the way my body looked before, I liked it much more than I like it now.
But that's just my looks.
At the same time, there are many things that are better right now because gaining weight improved my health. I finally have a working menstrual cycle which really is true indicator of real health.
Maybe even more than physical health, I'm really happy about the mental freedom that I have gained through this process. I finally really respect it when my body is trying to tell me something because I know that if I don't I may mess up my health again.
I'm not thinking too often about how I used to look like and missing it back. I focus on my health and enjoy the freedom from food and exercise obsessions, and yes I'm still happy every time my period comes 🙂 For me, these things outweigh the unhealthy lifestyle and better looking body that I used to have before.