I’ve been formulating this post in my head for a long time. Months, in fact. It’s a rather touchy subject, but one I feel I need to address, as both someone who has recovered from an eating disorder, and as a woman in American society. I’ll start at the beginning.
When I was a little kid, I was stick thin. I was a peanut, a string bean of a girl (in fact, that’s what my family used to call me). I was short and skinny. My slim pants were sometimes too big. I was perfectly healthy and active. My skinniness was part genetics I believe, and part being an active little girl. I remained short and skinny until I was about 12-13.
Then, I started growing up and out. You know how they do that height forecast at the pediatrician’s office when you are about two? I was forecasted to not hit 5’0”. I stand 5’5” today. And so we were all surprised when I grew taller than we thought I’d grow, and I grew hips and breasts and was no longer a peanut or a stringbean.
It is not a bad thing to grow taller and gain feminine attributes. But, those attributes mean gaining weight. I broke the triple digit mark and kept going. I was horrified to see the scale hit 120, 130 and even 140. Now I know that those are perfectly healthy weights for someone my height, and with my frame (I am average-large framed). But I didn’t know that at the time.
And so I began to try to reduce this new me (as you all know about because you read the book, or know about the book). My weight ran the gamut: 117-160 before treatment. No matter the number, it wasn’t good enough, and I wasn’t thin enough. Now I know that I don’t look good below 130, but I didn’t know that then, and I strived for the ultimate goal of shrinking myself to 110lbs, thinking that was a cure to everything. At 110lbs, I’d be a peanut, a stringbean again.
I would be lauded for my thinness. I missed that.
I tried and I tried and I swung from anorexia to bulimia, and back again.
I went to treatment and gained about 15lbs. I left around 145lbs. I was not thrilled.
I lost 15lbs immediately following treatment and I looked like hell because of how I lost them, and because I pushed my body beyond its set point.
I recovered and gained those 15lbs back. And then a little more.
Last summer I had a bad summer with some health problems, and the treatment included hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT at 26 was rough. It made me moody, weepy, hot-flashy and more than anything, hungry. I gained more weight. I was also on high-estrogen birth control, which also contributed to gaining weight. All of this also played into a recurrence of depression, so I switched up my antidepressant.
In the fall, I started working at a preschool, and got sick a lot from the kiddies. My asthma flared like it never has before and I took pack after pack of steroids to quell the inflammation in my lungs. And this of course made me hungry, and I gained weight.
Along the way, my favorite gym became too crowded, and I had a problem with being approached by leering men in the hot tub. So I left the gym.
At first, in recovery, I was rather vigilant about portion size and what I ate. Then I relaxed a bit and indulged. I found that I actually like food a lot. I like to eat. I tried things I’d never tried before, and I wanted to eat out all the time. I ate fast food, which I had previously banned. I drank milkshakes and ate burgers (I also banned meat at one point). And I gained weight.
I weighed myself all along, so I always had a good idea of how much I weighed. I grew exasperated with the number on the scale. I sometimes panicked, cried, screamed and shouted. But I didn’t resort to eating disorder behavior. Because while I was gaining weight, I was also gaining insight.
When I was actively ED’ed, I thought the worst thing in the world was gaining weight, and being overweight. I thought I’d simply die if I was overweight.
Now, the worst (according to my formerly flawed thinking) has happened, and I am okay.
I am not thrilled with my weight, and I realize I need to lose a few pounds for health reasons, including a history of high cholesterol on one side of the family and heart problems and diabetes on the other side. I know that I feel best between 137-145 or so. So I’m going to try and get back there, in a healthy way. My husband and I are going to meet with a nutritionist and devise a meal plan and shopping list. I’m going to start going back to the gym, and we are going to walk more and hike more.
No matter what though, I now realize that I am so much more than the number on the scale. My weight does not determine my self worth, or make me a good or bad person.
You’re probably wondering how much I weigh right now.
Somewhere around 170. I haven’t checked the scale lately.
170lbs is not a sin, or something significant. It is merely a number. It does not measure who I am.
At 170lbs, I got married. And I think I was a beautiful bride. If this had been a few years ago, I would not have enjoyed my wedding day, because I would’ve been fixated on my weight.
Below is a picture of our wedding day. Weight was the furthest thing from my mind:
I have gained so much more than weight.
It feels good to come clean about this gaining in recovery.
Sidenote: I’ve had some fairly remarkable medical stuff happen that has played a significant role in my gaining weight. Most people I know in recovery do not have to deal with all of this, and don’t gain weight like this. Most of them seem able to maintain within a certain healthy range.
*I will edit later for clarity, grammar and spelling.