My heavier (but still healthy) body has left some people flabbergasted.
Content notice: disordered eating, fatphobia, mentions of weight in pounds.
Several years ago, I lost 70 pounds and managed to keep it off.
I’ve gained back about 15-20 pounds.
For some people, that’s enough to send them running for the nearest batch of diet pills or set of the latest “tiny tush” infomercial DVDs.
However, contrary to the conclusions people jump to about my regained weight, imagining that it must be because I’ve started devouring entire sleeves of chocolate chip cookies in one sitting again in spite of myself, this process was intentional.
Yes, you read that correctly: I wanted to put on more weight. In fact, my health depended on it.
I initially lost my weight throughout 2006 and 2007. By August of 2007, I was svelte and often referred to as a “Skinny Minnie.” At a size 2, I certainly was. This experience left me with tons of energy and a newfound confidence.
However, it also left me with a desire to take things a bit too far, and I ultimately ended up losing even more than my initial 70 pounds. By my own doing, body image and eating-disordered tendencies developed through the years. At one point, a pork chop and an apple (maybe some popcorn) would be my food intake for an entire day.
But I was 1) thinner than I had ever been, and 2) determined not to gain any weight back... so the sacrifices seemed appropriate.
At my lowest, I hit 123 pounds, a number I felt was in sync with my physical aspirations: orderly, structured, memorable, and, in my mind, perfect.
But a foggy mind and a body that became fatigued just from getting out of bed told me enough was enough.
Putting on 20+ pounds was necessary.
I’ve since gotten back on track thanks to some nutritional and psychological counseling — and lots of support from family and friends.
Thankfully, I feel much better now. However, my heavier (but still healthy) body has left some people flabbergasted. Those who haven’t seen me in a while and may not be aware of the unhealthy part of my journey are sometimes surprised when they see me.
As such, I’ve experienced numerous reactions, just as I did when I first lost my weight.
So, I’ve come up with a list of 10 things not to say to someone who regained some (or all) of their weight back, whether the extra pounds are intentional or because they fell back in love with ice cream.
1. “You look better with some junk in your trunk!”
Thanks... I think.
Wait, is this one of those backhanded compliments?
In other words, did my rear end look like a butter knife in jeans during my teeny-tiny days?
Besides, you’re outright telling me you’ve checked out my uh, trunk on at least two occasions in a bonier-versus-jigglier butt assessment. Eww.
Finally, this whole comparing me to myself is kind of bizarre! It’s still me, I’m just an eater of occasional pizza slices in addition to kale-infused smoothies now.
This one’s a classic. I distinctly recall going to an outdoor event a couple years ago, around the time I purposely began putting on more weight.
I was feeling great, fresh out of a conversation with my nutritionist, my hand about to pluck a full-fat yogurt from the cooler.
“Hi!” An acquaintance gave me a head-to-toe glance, and then quickly offered congratulatory words, her face beaming.
The fact that she proceeded to ask where my boyfriend (now husband) was made it clear that she mistook my extra pounds as being a step closer to nursery decorating and binkie purchases.
Nope. Not preggers.
Just needed to expand my eating to include more nutritional value and healthy fats.
3. “Wow, what happened?” (as eyes glance at my stomach area)
What do you mean, “What happened?”
When asked this, I sometimes wonder if little aliens are flying around my waist or if blood is spewing from my hips.
I realize I’m not teeny-tiny anymore.
This isn’t the end of the world, people.
4. “It must be so embarrassing, right?”
“Embarrassing” is accidentally passing gas on a first date or during a client presentation.
Nope. I’m not embarrassed.
I’m happier and healthier.
5. “You’re not going to gain it ALL back, are you?”
So you’re pretty much saying it would be horrific if I did. Thanks.
As it is, your comment made me feel that my much-needed weight gain has me looking like Jabba the Hut.
To answer your question: Of course my goal isn’t to start letting my weight spiral out of control again, but it sure isn’t about going back to my severely restrictive eating habits, either.
6. “What size are you?”
Why must you know whether I wear a small or a medium or if my breasts are suddenly bouncier, more gargantuan versions of their older (and maybe smaller) selves?
7. “Oh, c’mon. Have another dish of ice cream.”
Again, I’ll say what I said when people extended this lovely invitation after I lost my weight: No thanks.
Today, I’m about finding a balance between periodic indulgences and “healthier” food.
I eat pizza, but I enjoy chia seeds and roasted broccoli too.
8. “I just knew you’d gain some weight back!”
And I just knew you weren’t capable of feeling happiness over my appreciation of health and fitness.
Thanks for the vote of confidence, pal.
9. “What does your husband think?”
About pollution? Animal abuse? The need for people to achieve a better work/life balance?
Oh, I see. You mean about the fact that I’m not a skinny Minnie anymore.
He loves me, but just in case you aren’t sure, why don’t you ask him your shallow question yourself?
10. “It’ll be interesting to see where you’re at in a year.”
Often said with more of a sarcastic undertone (especially if I’m enjoying an egg roll instead of a mango and almond milk smoothie at the time). It makes me cringe.
Truth is, no one knows where they’ll be in a year: be it about their weight, career, or heck, if they’ll even still be on this Earth twelve months out.
So for now, I respond that I’m taking life one day at a time.
Over the course of one year, there will be ice cream, but there will also be salads. I’ll continue to go to the gym, yet it may not always be for a full hour.
One thing is for sure, though: Through it all, I’ll always still be me.