Tuesday Thoughts: The Fear of Gaining Weight

I know, it’s Tuesday which starts with a “T” and so does Thoughts. I needed to do it. I’m sorry, okay?! I like to have themes!

Moving on to what I want to talk about regarding recovery from an eating disorder: The Fear of Gaining Weight. This is an ironic fear for someone suffering/recovering from an eating disorder because, obviously, the end result is going to leave you with some extra weight.

So, what’s the big deal? You know to recover you need to get your body to a healthy weight but it’s the fear of it becoming apparent which is scary. For me, I think the biggest fear is where the weight is going to go on my body. Unfortunately, we cannot pick and choose where we want weight gain to go as we recover or go through life in general.

During recovery, most of the weight gain harvests in your mid-section which isn’t the place most of us would choose for it to plant itself. For me, being an athlete, the additional fat over my “abs” freaks me out because of all of the “hard work” I put into achieving them. Also, since I’m trying to eat better for my knee, I want to see results in my legs not my back, chest, and love handles.

The biggest annoyance of it all is why do I care about this in the first place? When did the thought of having fat in places become a bad thing? I look around at the people from high school and college with curvy bodies and different body shapes; therefore, I cannot remember why I wanted my body to have absolute zero fat on it. When did this become cute?

I think with the compliments things just got overboard and I became obsessed with myself. I was loving all of these new compliments I didn’t get when I was heavier and things just went way too far. The minute I didn’t fit into any jeans at American Eagle was the moment things hit me hard; yet, I still fear weight gain because I don’t have control over where it goes on my body.

It’s a hard thing to get over at this point. I know I need to gain weight. I know I’ve gotten to the point people no longer compliment me but stare at me and wince because of how skinny I’ve become over time. I don’t know why this is so hard for me to get over especially since I know it’s essential at this point.

After freaking out to my mother about my newly acquired hip pain, I just hope my body isn’t broken completely. I’m going to end up in a wheel chair soon. My body is just so confused from compensating and although there are times I think I just need to “forget about it” and “move on”… My goals in life and my career require me to have healthy legs. The things I love require me to have healthy legs and it’s hard to have all of your goals and hobbies taken from you for a long period of time. It isn’t about running anymore, it’s about my life.

Thoughts/Advice?

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32 thoughts on “Tuesday Thoughts: The Fear of Gaining Weight

  1. I can completely relate to this, although I’m not that way anymore. Gaining weight is difficult mentally. I’ve never met anyone that wakes up and says “hey, I think I want to gain weight this morning”. I wasn’t as scared about reaching the number they had given me initially as I was about the process of getting there. The act of actually gaining. I was comfortable with the numbers, not with the idea of getting bigger because of that fear that it may go further than you had wanted it to. The thing is, that’s how we got ourselves into this situation- by taking it too far. If we can’t be happy with that, then the only answer is to try and find that balance. It’s scary but if it’s necessary for you to do it, then your body and your knee and hip and any other part of you that is causing you pain, will thank you in the long run.

    • Yeah, I’m definitely not afraid of numbers going up but more of how I see myself. I can relate to this, too. I mean, the numbers will be shocking but it’s more or less how my body image is as the weight comes on. I know I need to do this for myself but it’s just DOING it that’s the issue. It’s frustrating.

  2. This is exactly what I am going through right now! I am so so so scared to gain weight. I know a few extra pounds would help. I totally understand the part about receiving compliments. I am obsessed with it. It makes me feel good. But I have to realize that it is not good for my body. I am so scared that my clothes will not fit. I worked so hard to get to where I am. I feel like if I gained any weight I would be a failure. I hope I can over come this. I am right here you with you girl.

    • Believe me, you’ll no longer like the compliments when you get to a point of being too skinny. I’ve gotten there and things just start to change. You start getting bad and scared looks instead of smiling faces. You need to overcome it before it gets the best of you <3

      • When I got to the point of being afraid of people thinking I was too skinny, not hoping for compliments on being skinny, that’s when I knew that my weight had gotten WAY too low!

  3. Gaining weight is never easy, but neither is living in the prison of an eating disorder. Being tired. Being unhappy. Being sick. Doing lots of damage to your body. Not having a life outside of numbers and food… It’s no way to live. And I know it’s hard to imagine that you won’t be even more miserable if you put on some weight, but honestly… what do you have to lose? Are you happy now? My guess is no, especially because your body isn’t able to heal itself because it lacks the resources, thereby giving you all sorts of aches and pains and problems with recovering from surgery. If you want a different life, you have to do something different – nothing will change if you keep doing the same things. It’s worth a shot, hun… like you said, it’s about your life.

    • I know all of the negative effects and I ask myself, “Why am I living this way? I hate it,” alllllll of the time. I realize I’m not happy now and know for a fact how much I’ve lost of my life because of this prison. You’re right, though, gaining a few pounds will not make things worse than I’ve made them already. And I have to keep reminding myself every time I get uncomfortable with what’s going on.

  4. Kim hoeltje says:

    I can relate 100%!! I have gained a few pounds recently whih I know I need to do. I was at a very unhealthy weight. I dont know why we want that zero body fat look?? I look at healthy women and think they look good but am still scared to gain the weight. Where will it go? How will i look? How big will i get? Only advice i have is keep doing the next right thing, whatever that is for you to be happy and most importantly healthy!

    • I have the same thoughts. I want to look like I used to at a healthier weight but it’s like a road block of being scared. It’s so wierd because I hate having zero body fat. Thanks for the advice!

  5. Hannah says:

    Those are my thoughts exactly. As a 25 year old female at 5’4 and 83 pounds, I know I need to gain weight. But I am petrified of gaining it all on my stomach and becoming “skinny fat”. Like you, I’m proud of my abs and don’t want them to change. Just know that you aren’t the only one feeling this way. It’s a mental state that is extremely hard to overcome :-(

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one and that’s the term I use, too. “Skinny fat” I always say I want to gain weight while working out but the truth of the matter is I can’t do it that way right now.

  6. This post came at a great time. I was having the WORST day yesterday…I’m talking tears and self blame for EVERYTHING. I’m in the stage of recovery where weight gain IS happening, but my brain is still idle and in ED mode. I felt disgusting yesterday….like I could “feel” the fat growing on my lovehandles. But I kept remembering what my Nutritionist told me, and that is “you know you truly want recovery when you feel fat, you think you look fat, and you may even be convinced you’re fat, but you still follow your meal plan and you still eat”. Yesterday was one of those days….Ensure and all. And here I am, the next morning…awake and well. Bad days happen, and weight gain fucking sucks….but it definitely doesn’t suck more than being at the depths of my ED. I want a life with friends and a family and just goddamn happiness. And none of that will happen if I stay where I am.

    Keep working hard. Keep feeding your body so it can repair itself–especially that leg of yours.

    Stay strong.

    • You took my thoughts and put them into words. It’s amazing how much your mind can trick you into thinking things once you’ve developed disordered eating habits. I pushed through discomfort yesterday and had things I would normally avoid on “fat” days. You’re absolutely right when you say life without ED is way better than being antisocial and alone. I can’t believe I gave up so much just to be way too skinny and by myself.
      <3

  7. I have trouble not gaining weight. I take my emotions out in the kitchen and it frustrates me to no end. You are not broken, either. You can get through this! You’ve been doing so well — and now your family support can only strengthen it. Do it so that you can further fight for your dreams. You are worth it, and you will be successful. We all are rooting you for! :)

    • Thanks, Nikki! :-) I used to be the one to get a pint of ice cream in high school when things went bad but then, well, things just got WORSE and I turned another corner. I’m not sure if any way is the right way except just moving on without judging yourself or taking it on yourself. I hope I can get through this. <3

  8. Wow lady, thank you for opening up and sharing this with us. Gaining weight is no fun, whether you are recovering from an ED or not. Your entire mentality has been to NOT gain weight, but to lose lose lose. So ya, its going to be hard to make the switch. BUT, you seem to know what you want. You seem to have dreams that require a healthy body. Use that as motivation :) Use those things as the propeller to push you forward and through. YOU CAN DO IT!!

    • Yeah, I’m no longer in the stages of denial but more towards I need to get my ass in gear NOW. It’s hard to push away the thoughts you’ve been repeating to yourself for so long because you can’t differentiate between you and you with an ED. Thanks for the motivation :-)

  9. Kailey (Caffeinated Runner) says:

    Lauren,
    I have been reading your blog for a while now and this post really hits the head on the nail. I had to gain back a good 10-15 lbs that I lost my freshman year of college. I’m not going to lie – it is still tough to this day. The thought of blowing up always set in at the end of the night but I sitll work up the next day and my athletic performance actually improved by adding some weight. Is it scary? Oh gosh yes, I can’t deny that. I’m still not comfortable with how I look now, but I will say that every day gets better. Focus on what your body is doing for you (i.e. recovering from surgery) and it is easier mentally!

    • It is so hard to just accept my body is going to be different but I do keep trying to repeat the good things which will come out of it. It definitely helps during times when I want to give up but it’s hard to be consistent with them. I know it’ll be tough but I know, like you, things – like athletic performance – will get better if I do this for myself. <3

  10. No one can blame you for everything you are feeling and going through right now. You’re right it isn’t just about missing running this is your life. I wish I could offer you some fabulous advice that would make it all better. The best thing I can tell you though, is do what you can. I have had injuries before that took me out a long time (very different and not as severe as all the surgeries you have had…. but I do get where you are coming from), and the best thing for me was finding little ways to be active or be involved. It’s not easy, I won’t sugar coat it and say it is. But I will say that you are strong and have a good support system and you WILL get through it and your life is far from over. You are young, you will get healthy again and you will live your life. I took a really bumpy road to get where I am in my life and you’re doing the same and you’ll be better and stronger for it. Smooth seas never made for a skillful sailor.

    (hugs!)

    • It just seems like it’s never-ending sometimes. I go into every surgery thinking it’s the last one so when things aren’t going “as planned”… I fall apart. And each time it gets harder. I know I’ll be a strong person if/when I get myself out of this mess! Thank you for the hugs, Laura. :)

  11. Again, I love your honesty! I don’t have much to say.. but when life hits me hard I think “one day at a time!” and that always helps.

    I’m cheering for you girl <3333

  12. your honesty here is so wonderful and will help so many – including me. i have been petrified of where i’ll gain weight since i started working on doing so 1.5 years ago, when i entered recovery. i am working right now on trying to stop hating myself at least one point in each day for the fact that i have gained some of the weight back and that some of it has gone to my stomach. i look at my stomach every day, i body check constantly. it’s like i define my worth by how flat it is. it’s really not at all healthy to be so obsessed with it like you said. especially since no one is that obsessed with my stomach – just me. so why do i care so much? really the only way to get past the fear is to bite the bullet and start gaining. there is no easier way to do it, you have to conquer the fear as you actually gain. it won’t be conquered before you do so. you have to prove to yourself that the weight, while some may go on your stomach, will not pile up there. it will go to your muscles, your bones too. my therapist always told me to think about that part of it and focus on that. you will heal faster – imagine weight you gain as going directly into your injured knee and other wounds, maybe that will distract you from thinking of it going onto your stomach. i’m RIGHT here with you girl. we can do this.

    • I body check all the time, too, and it totally creates a different personality for me throughout the day on whether or not it was “flat” enough. Ugh. And I’m with you all the way in just going for it. You have to just DO IT. I see other girls who are heavier than me and it’s not negative thoughts I’m thinking… it’s more of, “Why can’t I just be okay with myself again”? I have to get myself to just DO IT. Although I’m not near my lowest weight, I’m just not where I should be.

  13. krista says:

    It’s so crazy how your mind changes. I always said I liked thicker girls and never wanted to be so skinny. Yet I got there. And I didn’t want to gain weight when I was there. It takes constant reminder, still for me, every day I remind myself that healthy fat is soo good for me. I didn’t like the way I looked so thin but still I wanted it. I’ve gained quite a bit of weight now and I feel so much better. Keep it up girl you’ll get there and I promise it is worth it all. Be proud of every achievement you make and don’t look back as you progress :)

  14. Kate says:

    okay first – your body is NOT breaking down. It makes perfect sense that your hip hurts – it hurts because your knee is messed up. The two are inextricably connected in the kinetic chain – once one part (or one “link you could say” on the chain gets fucked up, the rest goes too. When I tore my labrum, even before I knew what the injury actually was, a few months after my hip started hurting both my knees started hurting too. Because yeah, when one part of the chain hurts, you move the rest of it differently……so no your hip isn’t injured it’s just compensating.

    okay moving on lol. I totally understand this. I am at a healthy weight now but oddly, I still have a dire fear of gaining weight. Like, I used to classify it as one of my biggest fears in the entirety of life – gaining weight past a healthy point (or, past where I’m happy with my body). But you said it yourself – you NEED to eat to heel your knee. This is so much more than what you look like. It’s what you can DO. What you want the rest of your life to look like. I mean, I’m not a doctor so I’m not going to be one of those fucking obnoxious blog-readers that tells you weight gain will solve ALL your problems. There are things wrong in your knee that have nothing to do with your food intake. BUT nothing is going to heal without nutrients, and your body will never support an active life – a LONG active life – when it’s underweight. Like that’s just the facts. And believe me, it’s so easy to say that, and I know you’re sitting there reading this nodding your head – but it’s nearly impossible to internalize those thoughts and actually act on them – and feel okay about acting on them. So…..I don’t have any advice about that (besides “fake it till you make it”) because clearly I still have this fear…..BUT I am right here for moral support! Seriously, just a facebook-message away if you need to bitch! And you better eat froyo with me at least once this summer. :-D

    • I’m not gonna lie, I laughed at the first sentence because you just remind me of someone who would be like, “Alright, you’re not gonna die” when a friend is freaking out. Haha. I know a majority of my other issues are from my body not working properly, but I’m just hoping they don’t create issues from constantly being used wrong. It is different to think things and DO them. It’s the hardest part to just DO IT. You can come out of denial but it’s the act of just living life which is the hard part. We really do need to get Kiwi AT LEAST once this summer! I just want to be able to walk without crutches. I’m not a fan of walking around disabled haha.

  15. I’ve been there! Living a life ruled by numbers, sizes, and obsessions is really no way to live and gaining weight can be quite hard mentally. But, if you think of the difference of the two which would you rather choose? Gaining weight or living, what I call a “half life” where you’re ruled by food and exercise and fear. I know, I know how hard it is! In fact, I sometimes still struggle to this day with these thoughts but if you ask yourself deep down are you happy in this state right now? Well, it doesn’t sound like it. You could always gain weight, and what’s the worst that could happen? You hate the weight you put on, you could always lose it again but you can’t gain another life. I know you can do it Lauren! You’re so intelligent and a beautiful girl! And you have all the support to get through this! E-mail me if you ever want to chat<3

    • Thanks, Lisa! And it really is a “half life” because you’re living but not REALLY living. You’re going by rules and restrictions without just having fun.

  16. Last summer I got down to 113, and I’m 5’8-5’10ish. The doctor said I needed to be at least 125, but he would prefer me to work on muscle as well and get to 135. I was so scared to gain weight. I’m now 135, and sometimes I’m still obsessive and start considering the idea of losing weight. Then I just remind myself that I”m at a healthy weight, and I need to be here. I still fit into my old clothes, and I’m so much more muscular than I used to be.

    If you keep exercising and eating healthy, you won’t look fat or gross when you gain weight. You will look beautiful and healthy! Lots of love and encouragement are being sent your way right now! :)

    xoxo,
    katherine

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