So I’ve gained a little weight…

I’m going to level with you.

I do not like being fat. I know we are supposed to love our bodies no matter their shape and size (and I do have a lot of love for my body), but I just happen to not like the way it looks when my belly sticks out as far as my boobs, you know? I grew up skinny, I have a thin frame–my body is just built to be on the thin side. Other women can be much thicker than me and still be in their ideal weight zone and have beautiful figures. I’m not obsessed with being thin, I just was built that way, and feel and look my best when I’m fairly slender.

But right now I weigh more than I ever have–not counting when I was pregnant and immediately following pregnancy, of course. According to “official” weight charts, I’d be considered overweight right now. But it’s not the number on the scale that bothers me…it’s the fact that I can barely fit into my “fat” jeans. It’s looking in the mirror and seeing that my figure isn’t quite the hourglass I’m used to seeing. It’s knowing that if my body were functioning optimally, I probably wouldn’t have this extra fat on me. And, it’s wondering…why?? I eat a good diet, so why did I gain extra weight?

I think I know why. I think it’s because my metabolism fell during the winter due to various reasons, and I wasn’t exercising. It’s because I kept eating lots of food anyway because I didn’t want to miss out on the nutrients I know my body needs before conceiving. I put the creation of a healthy baby above my vanity. I put my health above my vanity.

It’s better this way. Even though I don’t prefer to have a flabby midsection, I’m kinda proud of myself for putting my future baby’s health ahead of my desire for a smaller tummy. I’m pleased with myself that I understand that the path to good health is not paved with food restriction. And I’m happy that I’m actually *sort of* okay with being rounder, if it means I am healthier than I would be if I wasn’t eating enough.

I did not always have this mindset. I used to eat smaller meals or meals with fewer calories. I would skip having a nighttime snack if I thought it was too close to bedtime. I wasn’t intentionally restricting myself; rather, I had just ingrained the messages conventional dietary wisdom had instilled in me, and I did this with barely even thinking about it. Deep in the recesses of my mind, I had learned that if I didn’t want to get fat, then I shouldn’t eat too much or too often.

Have you ever thought about what conventional dietary wisdom tells us? I mean really thought about it? I was listening to the John Tesh radio show the other day, and he was reading off some recommendations from some diet-guru-I-don’t-know-who, and was telling everyone that when you go out to eat, to order from the “lite” menu, which averages around 700 calories per meal. And then he said that you should still take HALF of it home! Do you realize there that he just told people that they should only eat 350 calories for dinner? And of course you aren’t supposed to snack, either, right? Are we eating only 350 per meal for every meal, then? 350 x 3 meals a day…that’s only 1050 calories! Maybe if you get two 100 calories snacks, then it would be 1250.

If that doesn’t seem like a small amount to you, let me give you some perspective. The USDA recommends 2000 calories per day for the average American woman. Consider that the average American woman is not very active. So that’s 2000 calories a day for a somewhat inactive person. An active person with a healthy metabolism could easily handle 3000 calories a day. That’s a thousand calories per meal, people! (If you don’t snack.)

I’m not very active. I don’t work out. I don’t weight train, so I don’t have that extra muscle mass to burn extra calories. But, if I do not eat at least 2000 calories a day, I can’t even keep up with the housework, I am so tired. So eat I do. I eat for energy, I eat for nutrients, I eat in hopes my metabolism perks back up (and it actually does when I’m consistent about eating regular nutritious meals). If I actually exercised regularly, I bet I could eat 3000 calories a day without gaining any weight. I actually have a goal to be able to eat that many calories. Why?

Because I know that more food = more nutrients.

I had this epiphany a couple years ago that by not eating enough, I was denying my body the nutrients it needed to heal and function well. I want to heal and function well! What would only 1050 calories a day do to me? It would starve me of the nutrition I need and completely flatten my metabolism, that’s what. It would slowly kill me.

I’ve gained a little weight not because I’m eating too much. I’ve gained weight because I haven’t been very active due to a foot injury. I’ve gained weight because my eating habits had been inconsistent over the winter and it screwed my metabolism. Starving myself will not heal my foot, and it certainly will not help me have the energy I need to be active. Starving myself most certainly will not improve my metabolism. Starving myself will not help me conceive and grow a beautifully healthy child. Sorry John Tesh, but starving myself just ain’t gonna happen. Nope. Sorry. Not gonna do it.

But obviously I can’t just keep gaining weight. What’s a person in my position to do? I think the only thing I really can do is work on increasing my metabolism. Our metabolism is how efficient our bodies work, it’s how well nutrients get into the cells, it’s how well energy is used. By improving my metabolism, I will be directly improving my health. I can do this with food, with exercise, and increasing muscle mass. But honestly, I’m not even very motivated by weight loss to do these things. I care a lot more about feeling good and being healthy. Having a leaner body would just be a really nice side effect. 🙂

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Five Seed says:

    First of all: Bravo for putting your future baby before your vanity. I truly admire that! Secondly, I just had so many YES moments when I read this. I’m not a calorie counter – no way! And I continue to notice how ridiculous the advice that we get is – about keeping our calories down to 1200 a day. That’s what I used to eat when I was on extreme diets in my teenage years. That was my calorie target. That’s not enough to keep us going!

    I’ve noticed something interesting with me. I’m not an athlete, nor super active – but I do bicycle commute almost every day and I walk and do yoga and a little weight lifting. I’ve noticed that I feel a little hungry every two hours or so. I was on a kick of not eating between meals for a while and it was awful. I’ve also noticed that the healthier I’ve been eating, the more often I want to eat. I’ve been letting myself have as many snacks as I need – whole wheat bread, avocados, hummus, etc. I just go for it and I feel like my body truly needs it.

    And admittedly, it has been hard, because there’s still a part of me that wants to lose this excess weight (15-20 pounds). And it’s not going anywhere. But I’m working every day to retrain my mind. I’m healthy. My body is getting what it needs. So I’m a little heavy – oh well!

    Anyway…thanks for this post!

    1. Lisa C says:

      Your comment makes me feel happy. I mean, of course I feel for you wanting to lose some weight because I’m in the same boat, but hurray for putting our health first! I know there are some healthy ways to lose fat, so I’m going to read up and try some stuff and share what I learn.

  2. Katie says:

    Wow, this is NOT what I expected to see when I clicked on your “I Gained Weight” title 🙂 I think you would love Go Kaleo (http://gokaleo.com/) and her book Taking Up Space (http://gokaleo.com/taking-up-space/). There is also a Facebook support community called Eating The Food. The entire focus of all of these is healing the metabolism.

    One thing that you may not like about the Facebook group is that no one is allowed to vilify any foods, including sugar, processed foods, junk foods, etc. Most of the group members have fallen into orthorexia and are so damaged from believing various foods foods are poison. So sharing the traditional WAPF/GAPS/Paleo thinking that various foods are poison (sugar, grains, junk food even) is not tolerated. Many people coming off severe restriction are so hungry that they deeply crave fast food and sugar because their body so desperately needs calories. The goal is that eventually your body will be getting enough calories and will start telling you what foods to eat (more whole foods, less junk foods), but in the meantime, no foods are vilified.

    In my case, I mentally went through vegetarian, vegan, raw, WAPF, and Paleo. I never actually followed any of them fully, but mentally I had thought “OK, NOW I’ve found the right way to eat” each time. But once you go through all of those, NO food is healthy! For example, for raw foodists, raw greens are wonderful. But in WAPF, raw greens are death! I haven’t found any food that would fit all these ways of thinking, except maybe coconuts 😀

    1. Lisa C says:

      And berries! LOL

      I actually wrote up a post a while back as a response to food vilification, but I never got around to publishing it. One thing I like about WAPF is it is so broad–any real food is acceptable, and then there are recommendations for the most bioavailable way to eat them. Which I really appreciate, because I do better than I did on just a real food diet. But that doesn’t mean I think it’s bad to eat unsoaked nuts or whatever. Above all, I am an advocate of the “listen to your own body” mentality. Everything else is just info.

      I like Go Kaleo. I don’t really read her because I don’t have time, but I keep thinking I should. I just follow her on Facebook. I read Matt Stone’s Eat for Heat, which is also geared toward people recovering from orthorexia. I read that after writing this post I think. So, I totally get that some people can actually benefit from processed foods. I believe it’s better to eat some less nutritious foods than to not eat enough.

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