Adjusting to weight gain
Adjusting to weight gain is hard.
I'm not talking I-ate-too-many-Christmas-cookies weight gain. Ten pounds here or there can quickly be gained and lost. I'm talking weight that significantly changes your appearance and worse — your jeans size.
Even though I knew I needed to put on weight, that the rising number on the scale and jeans size was a good thing, it was still a huge adjustment. I've seen this with friends, too. Once you get used to yourself at a smaller size, it's difficult to adjust to a larger (even if healthier) frame.
So, how do you adjust? How to you reintroduce yourself to your body and feel comfortable in your transformed skin?
These are the things that helped me adjust as I gained weight. Fifty pounds later, I'm in a much happier place with my body. Yes, really. I'm not saying the adjustment was seamless and I loved every pound of it, but I've adjusted to my new body and am more comfortable in my skin.
NO MORE SCALE
Boyfriend (now husband) hid the scale. It was a bad addiction and I quit cold turkey. Not knowing my weight gave me anxiety at first but I knew that seeing the number grow would be even worse. After the initial anxiety passed, it was actually really freeing. I gained so much valuable time in my day by not weighing in or thinking about that number.
GO TO GOODWILL
I had some really cute clothes, but I had to get rid of them. Seeing small clothes that I couldn't fit into was a trigger for me. It's amazing how much better I felt once I had a closet that was only filled with clothes that fit me. While I was gaining weight this consisted of a lot of leggings and tunics, which brings me to the next point.
For me, jeans size was a big deal. Therefore, I didn't buy jeans for a while. Now I wear jeans all the time, but until I was in a place where I was ready to accept that size on the tag, I stayed in the stretchy section of the store.
LOOK AT YOUR FACE
When you look in the mirror, where do you look first? I looked at my stomach every time. In fact, the last place I looked was my face. Which is silly. When I look at other people, I only look at their stomach first if they are wearing a Christmas sweater with jingle bells and working lights on the belly. Otherwise, it's face first. I trained myself to look at my face and ignore my body for a while. I don't ignore my body in the mirror now, but it's definitely face first.
DO SOMETHING TO FEEL PRETTY
Feeling pretty is not the same thing as feeling thin. I repeat. Feeling pretty is not the same thing as feeling thin. I started giving myself some more love by taking baths, doing a fancy skin care regiment, painting my nails, doing my hair/makeup, etc. I also invested in cute nighties. Because nothing makes me feel prettier than a sexy silky nightie.
WORK OUT (MINDFULLY)
How many times have you finished a killer workout and thought, "I'm so fat." Working out for me is an instant body image boost. It's even better if I work out mindfully. I used to work out for the results. Now I work out for so much more.
FOLLOW THE HAPPY
If something makes you happy, keep doing it. If it doesn't, don't. (This is another one of those things that sounds so simple, but it ain't easy.) If you're doing something that makes you happy, odds are you aren't worrying about your weight gain.
ALL OF THE YOGA
Truly, I attribute my body acceptance to yoga. It was through yoga that I finally felt at home in my body. All the other tips above were helpful, but they were like bandages on the wound, helping me cope with the weight gain. Once I actually understood yoga — had that AHA moment in class — my relationship with my body began to heal. I discovered a new appreciation for what my body could do. I felt gratitude for my body for the first time ever. Thank you, body. You do some amazing things. You walk and breath and do yoga poses and make love and — this is so amazing — you have the ability to create a baby. Whoa. That's pretty ridiculous.
Bodies change. We get older, saggier, thinner, fatter, pointier, rounder, wrinkled, spotted and scarred. If we ate nothing but spinach and worked out for 6 hours each day, our bodies will still change. Because, science.
We cannot choose not to change (unless maybe we have the help of plastic surgery). But we can choose how we react to it. We can choose to make peace with these changes, or we can choose to despise them and spiral down the path of self-hate.
For most, this choice is simple. Simple, but not easy. Of course you want to veer off the self-hate path. But change is hard. Especially when that change is in the form of extra pounds that we like to call "trouble spots" or "problem areas." That's why, to accept my weight gain, I had to do the things listed above to help me cope; to help me heal.
My 5-year-old niece already gets this, because my awesome sister, Erin, is the best role model. (You can get the full version of this adorable story here, but I'll just do a quick synopsis.)
She was taking a bath with my sister and pointed and asked what something was. "That? That's fat," Erin said. She then explained that some people don't like their fat and get really upset about it, but that it's kind of silly because they're just bodies. "It's just bodies," my niece later repeated.
Yeah, they're just bodies.
If you have experienced a significant change in weight, what helped you accept your new skin?