Gaining (healthy) Weight and Body Dysmorphia

Sometimes all it takes is a picture, and for some reason this was the one for me. It was probably September when I was going through old photos  and saw this one of us from Chicago in March, and it just hit me.  I started looking at more photos and realized… I was really skinny. 

Now I also want to say that there is NOTHING wrong with that body type if it’s your natural figure and you are genuinely healthy + happy. But it isn’t mine- my body is actually naturally curvy with a boootay!! Looking back at my eating patterns that time last year I was doing SO amazing compared to the years before, but I was still only eating what was comfortable for me. That meant salads at restaurants, eating red meat only once in a blue moon and never eating it for leftovers the next day, being very rigid at work and never eating anything that wasn’t planned, sticking to a paleo diet, and only indulging on the weekends with alcohol and occasional pizza. I was scared. Scared of any ingredient that wasn’t *perfect* when I was cooking at home, scared of ANY added sugar and scared of gaining any weight. I really couldn’t see how I looked.

So once I saw that photo, I knew I needed to gain weight. I called my sister and said “wow you were so right- I’m way too skinny OMG!” and she laughed. She has been through this with me from my scary eating disorder days where I couldn’t make it up the stairs, through all of my recovery and of course with me now. (So were my husband Alan and my Mom!) She told me to have fun with it- not many people get the opportunity to gain weight! 
Now for anyone who has struggled with being extremely type A with perfectionist like tendencies, I didn’t know how this was going to go, but I decided to go for it. Here’s what I did and some advice:

1) I started adding to my lunch, dinners and snacks. I knew I probably wasn’t eating enough during the day because before dinner I was always SO starving and then before bed I would be really hungry again. I started making meals with more carbs, healthy fats and protein and wasn’t afraid of helping myself to more. I finally realized that I wasn’t truly full after most dinners! (If you always have room for a BIG dessert or need a snack 1-2 hours later, you probably aren’t eating enough) 

2) I ATE THE DAMN PIZZA- or burger at a restaurant, etc. It’s really easy to operate out of fear and go with what’s comfortable and for me that was salads at restaurants. I never felt guilty and it was the healthiest option- I would almost never order something fun, especially during the week, and if I did the next day I would “start over again-” basically eat extremely clean. But for the most part I only ate *unhealthy* food after drinking or a special occasion. (Now don’t get me wrong I still LOVE a salad at a restaurant, but sometimes I want tacos instead?!)

3) Listen to your people- would your sibling, parents, significant other/spouse or best friends lie to you? No! I should have listened to all of them before!! Make sure you have quality people around you and know they have your back. If you are having a down day call one of them up and go do something fun, maybe even unrelated to food! 

4)) Enjoy the journey- like I said before, I actually had a lot of fun doing this and it was mostly really easy for me. It’s like I was coming home to myself, and my body/soul were so happy. I have more energy, I don’t avoid hanging out with people because of food based fears, I go on more trips or outings, and I don’t let food take over my life. After I eat (because it’s enough) I move on! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a few down days where I was worried, but getting rid of the old clothes, talking to my people and realizing that these were superficial problems helped me get back to reality 🙂 

Something that makes me sad is that most of the time through those photos and my life last year, I was self conscious. I didn’t see the girl that I was in the mirror and I wasted SO much time worrying. Now that I’ve added in way more food and fun, those thoughts don’t really come up, but I just want to say no matter where you are in your journey (wanting to tone up, lose or gain weight) don’t let that define who you are or ruin your mood. Take your main focus to other things like work you love, finding a fun workout, meeting new friends, connecting with your loved ones or finding a new hobby. Your looks don’t define you, how you act as a person does. Try to enjoy life no matter where you are on your body journey. 🙂 

Much love,

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