When I zipped up my big winter coat, a red coat that I absolutely adore, it was uncomfortably snug. I had to suck it in to zip it up, and even then I was afraid of busting the zipper. At the time I was all wired up to my Holter monitor, so I tried to write it off as the wires and monitor adding the extra padding. But a part of me knew it couldn’t possibly add that much.
I’ve never really struggled with my weight. Actually, that’s not true. I’ve never struggled with gaining weight. Almost all of my struggles have been maintaining or keeping weight on due to several health factors (metabolism, heart issues, a bone disease that actually does play a part in build, and a stomach disorder) that have kept me underweight my entire life.
Back to that zipping up. I felt horrible. Embarrassed, ashamed and ugly even though the weight gain doesn’t appear noticeable in terms of looking at me. But my coat didn’t shrink and then I confirmed it on a scale. In the last four months (since I don’t weigh myself regularly and have not needed my coat, the last time I weighed myself was four months ago) I have gained ten pounds. Probably not a big deal for most people but I’m under 5’4” and my previous weight was around 117 pounds, so I’ve gained ten percent of my entire body mass, and I can guarantee it isn’t muscle.
I know most people will think I have unhealthy ideas about my weight, but I really don’t. At my old weight, I didn’t looked anorexic, you didn’t see bones anywhere like you do sometimes with people who diet. And that’s the other thing – I have never dieted in my life. I’ve never really thought about my weight with the exception of two instances. During college, I really tried to gain and maintain weight. At the time I was 105 pounds and drank those disgusting muscle drinks while doing serious weightlifting. I would gain ten pounds and then lose twelve, so I just gave up. (I don’t miss this time, because at that time I really was too skinny and it was a struggle despite eating to maintain my weight.)
The other time was when my kidneys failed. In ninety minutes I nearly doubled my weight (ninety-something to over 160) but that was all water (I had to be hospitalized so they could get rid of my fluid, it put significant strain on my heart) so it wasn’t the same. Water is heavy, it was like lugging around nine gallons of water spread throughout my body. It was extremely painful, stretched my skin and made it difficult to move (I was wheelchair bound until I got down to 130ish, still an extra forty pounds of water weight at that point). But as my kidney function improved and with treatment to get the water off – it did and I returned to a more normal weight (around 110).
These are the only two instances of me even thinking about my weight. It’s always been a nonthought for me. I ate normally, and I didn’t exercise officially (no gym or routines) but probably walked a few miles every day so I like to think that counts.
I know why I’ve gained the weight. I am on two medications that can cause weight gain. One I started in September because of my recent Epilepsy diagnosis. The other I started in January, but it did cause me to go from 110 to 117, but then it tapered off so I wasn’t worried.
It doesn’t stop there. Because of my recent heart problems I haven’t been active, almost at all. No more walking. This is because of A) small amounts of exertion cause crushing chest pain and I am unable to breathe to the point I throw up, and B) because my symptoms are so severe and I’ve even passed out a few times and had to be hospitalized, it isn’t exactly recommended that I go out and be super active.
So I get it. I understand that if my eating hasn’t changed, but I’m inactive, I will gain weight. I understand cause and effect just fine. I also understand that I am on two medications, one super recently, that actually cause people to gain weight. But knowing this doesn’t help how I feel. I feel fat, and honestly I think I am. Not like all over. My arms, legs and waist are fine. It seems all weight has gone to my gut and my face. My face is fuller, when it has always been narrow with sharp features. I used to hate it but seeing the other side, I think it complements me, or perhaps it’s just what I’m used to. But it’s my stomach that bothers me. It looks like I have a baby bump unless I suck it in, which I can’t do for more than a few seconds without being uncomfortable (and I’m all about being comfortable rather than pretty). Perhaps if my weight gain was equally dispersed in my body, it wouldn’t bother me. I actually don’t think it would, because it isn’t the number that bugs me it’s that I can’t comfortably fit into my favorite clothes.
I want to lose the weight I’ve gained, desperately. I mean not desperate enough to go on a diet because life is short and I want to enjoy it rather than obsess over my size, but I do want to take steps to hopefully shed some pounds. One example is cooking more. We’ve been eating out a lot because we keep going out of town so big grocery trips don’t make sense, and also my husband didn’t want me cooking when I was at the pique of my heart issues (which is still very much an unresolved issue). But I think this will help dramatically. I’m also going to start limiting my portions. I loved baked goods, but limit how many cookies/muffins/whatever I can have per day. Make no mistake, I won’t deprive myself, but I don’t have to eat until I’m full. I can stop at one (except for cookies, then depending on the size a few). Or when we do fast food, don’t do a side (like fries) and order a smaller sized sandwich (most places we go, have “junior” versions of what I get).
I always want to resume my activity, but have to wait for my cardiologist’s instructions, and even then it’s been a few months of not being active – I understand I’ll have to ease back in and it will take time to get to where I was. But this has been something I have wanted even before that coat “incident”. Because I love being active. I hate sitting still. I walk around the house while I read, I pace when I talk on the phone even if I’m not anxious or it isn’t a serious conversation. I take long walks to destress much like some people go for a drive or have a glass of wine. I miss this. I’m happier when I’m active, and that’s just a fact. So this is definitely a goal of mine, but unlike cutting junk food corners, it’s one I can’t do yet, and have to wait for medical advice.
I know my weight is still in the normal range, even if it’s significantly more than what I’m used to. My husband says I’m beautiful and I look “healthy” and I don’t need to lose weight. He even says that my doctors wouldn’t think it was a problem, and even more of a good thing, but I disagree. Again it isn’t the number that’s the issue, it’s the amount I’ve gained in such a short time. I don’t think they would be concerned, I just think they’d tell me to monitor it and if I gain another ten pounds – then it would be time to worry (and then I would also be considered “overweight”). I don’t want to weigh a lot less. In fact the number means little to me, it’s that I am comfortable in my own skin, and can fit into my favorite things. I have no intention of getting new clothes!
Part of me chastises myself for this attitude. I don’t consider myself a shallow or superficial person, and while I always want to be presentable and look nice, I don’t spend hours getting ready, I don’t use a bunch of hair or skin products or have a regimen. I don’t obsess over the things I hate about my appearance (my nose, my teeth, a mole on my neck, and scars from surgeries that my clothes hide). I like to think I am healthy in that I don’t equate my value with my appearance. It doesn’t mean I don’t wish I looked different. It just means I don’t care enough to give it space. But this weight gain – this I can’t help but give space. It really does bother me, and it just doesn’t feel like me.
I feel fat and ugly, and then feel stupid for feeling this way when I’m not even overweight at all, and have never had to struggle with that.
But really, I just want to be healthy. Fit into things and be comfortable in my own skin by having better portion control and walking every day again. I don’t think that desire or goal is unhealthy, I think it’s extremely healthy.
Honestly, I’ll be happy once I can comfortably fit into my coat again. That will be the test, more than the scale. Maybe that is five pounds, maybe ten – but I fit into that coat fine when I was 115, so it’s not like I’m going to lose an extreme amount of weight. I just want to go back to being, active ten-pounds-lighter me. Because that person was happier, and didn’t think about his weight. And it was no longer a struggle to keep it on, but it wasn’t a struggle keeping it off either.
I just have to believe if I start being active again, eat out less, and limit portions on foods that are not the best for me, any results I see will keep. I just hope it actually works!