My name is Hello_My_Lover, and I've been gaining weight. I know how, and I don't know how. I'm trying to come to terms with it, and learn to love my new body. I am tackling my health as a separate issue, unrelated to my weight. So while I become healthy, how do I become happy in my own skin?
I have never been a "thin" girl - I was athletic for a long time. I was a track and cross-country runner in high school and a little in college, until a hip injury took me out of that and basically any impact exercise for the rest of my life. Doomed to a life of power-walking and prancercising, I was devastated. A decade later, I have yet to find a form of exercise that actually makes me HAPPY.
When I was in peak physical condition, I still had cellulite and couldn't borrow my friends' clothes. I am no stranger to being the big booty in the room.
After I quit running, I had a small, slow weight gain for 6 or 7 years. It is obvious that the stoppage of my athletic career threw me out of the exercise habit. However, there weren't any significant and immediate effects of my lack of regular exercise. I was just a little out of shape.
I am lucky in that I have a lot of general advantage when it comes to nutritional knowledge and cooking; I was raised on healthy food and I LIKE it. Because of reasons I don't know, the standard for my maintaining or losing weight is higher than it is for most others; I must be strict and vigilant or it happens immediately. Which leads us to my Great Weight Gain.
When depression brought on by a lot of family drama hit me at age 26, my weight skyrocketed. I was barely eating - but I suppose lying on the couch in a pool of my own snotty sadness doesn't burn as many calories as cleaning my house and grocery shopping and brushing my teeth.
I know how I gained the weight; I ate crap food - sometimes too much, sometimes too little, and I did not exercise. What I don't know is how I let that happen. Before anyone starts with the "just have a positive attitude" or "just make it a priority" or what-have-you, let me 'splain depression to you: You do not know what it is like unless you've experienced it, so telling a depressed person to Just Not Be Like That will send her spiraling further downward into her pit of hell; not only is she already beating herself up about it, you've confirmed that it is INDEED her fault and not related to an actual medical condition like those pesky EXPERTS say.
Weight struggle is about more than physically limiting factors; there are mental obstacles as well. Fat shamers (and many people who've never experienced mental illness) do not consider these legitimate obstacles. Pray tell, then, why are so many people unhappily fat, yet still refusing what you seem to think is an easy solution? I know I have the tools at my disposal: time, money, knowledge, and a taste for healthy food. What I am continually trying to do in therapy is find the emotional tools.
There is also the social cost of maintaining weight; my weight gain got fast when my depression was easing up - because I was enjoying food again. I was seeing my friends again (see also: drinking and eating out). I took up baking. Was I supposed to let go of these things that made me happy for the first time in two years, at the fear of gaining weight? My therapist certainly didn't think so.
What did I also start doing as I pulled out of my depression? Exercising. Make no mistake; I hate it. But I'm doing it. Yet I still gain.
I have hit the end of "regular" sizes and the beginning of plus sizes. Most of my clothes are too tight. What prompted me to write this out was that I am currently buying new clothes that are so much bigger than I am used to. I look great in these clothes compared to the too-tight clothes of Christmas past; but I am appalled at myself that I have to buy these. I can't get over the lingering failure of my depression. It's one more major way that I have lost that battle, it seems.
This spring I was finally on The Wagon of eating well and exercising REGULARLY and it felt like a rhythm rather than something forced. I started to lose some weight, I think, but I wasn't weighing myself. Then I got inexplicably sick for 6 weeks. Turns out I had suddenly developed an intolerance for nuts - but I had so many nuts in my system (I fucking love nuts) that it took ages for the illness to go away, even when I hadn't been eating any. By the time I was healthy, The Wagon had left me in the dust.
My therapist does not want me to calorie count, or get obsessive about losing weight, and I am going to try my hardest to follow that. I am trying to slowly change my habits - eat out less, not hate exercising, etc - but not to focus on weight loss. This is why I admit defeat and buy new clothes; I need to feel better NOW and it needs to be unrelated to my size.
Can You Help?
Well, we all know that being appalled at oneself is pretty much the worst motivation for embracing healthier habits and being a more functional person. I am not looking for weight loss advice, believe me. I know what to do, and, as stated, I am working on my health independently of my weight.
I am looking for advice or experience to come to terms with my new body. I need to not feel like a stranger in it. I am conceptually ok with being bigger (as long as my habits are healthy). I do not feel that being a larger person will be the end of the world for me, that people will hate me or look at me funny or whatever. I see other curvy women and I think they are beautiful; I want to feel it. It is new for me to have to fat-accept myself.
I really want to be clear that the nature of this is because my body has rapidly changed from what I am used to. This is not about comparing myself to others who are bigger or anything like that. I am just in unfamiliar territory.
Groupthink is such a lovely place full of lovely people. I know you guys will understand.
TL;DR: I don't think you're ready for this jelly.