As kids, we grow up dreaming of becoming big and strong. But as we get older, we learn that being “big” is something to be feared, something that makes you less beautiful and less desirable. Not everyone recovering from an eating disorder experiences weight gain (just as not every eating disorder victim is underweight) but for those that do, growing bigger is more than just the fear of losing beauty. Weight gain can make us doubt our worth as people, make us feel as though we’ve lost all control, and like the future is hopeless. In reality, weight gain is a gift. Gaining weight is gaining life, gaining freedom from disordered patterns, and gaining love all at once. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Read on to learn how to cope with weight gain when it’s the absolute last thing you want, but know it’s what you need.
The Scale Is Not The Enemy, But The Mirror Is Not Always A Friend
Logically, you know that the scale is incapable of measuring worth, beauty, intelligence, or anything that contributes to your value as a person. But emotionally? Looking down at a higher number than you’re used to can still be a mind f***. My advice? Avoid the scale all together. Really, you don’t need it. If being weighed is part of your treatment in recovery, just ask that your nurse not share the number and he or she will happily oblige.
However, when you’re leaving the scale behind, don’t be so quick to jump into the arms of your buddy, the mirror. Chances are, the way you see yourself is not indicative of how you really are. Weight gain can distort self image even more drastically. So beware of getting stuck in front of the mirror and angling your body in different ways with the sole purpose of picking it apart. When you’re in front of a mirror, focus on your face instead. Look into your own eyes. Better yet, pick a few affirmations to speak lovingly to yourself. It may feel cheesy at first, but it turns out hearing is in fact believing:
“I love myself at every shape and size”
“I am beautiful in all that I am”
But What If I Keep Gaining and Gaining and Never Stop??
Repeat after me, my ideal weight and the weight at which my body is happiest and healthiest may not be the same. And that’s okay! That number you’re clinging onto whether it be your ideal weight, your goal, weight, maybe even your lowest weight – it’s time to let it go. Our bodies are so much smarter than we are. The body’s job is to keep us safe and healthy, so if you’re fueling it properly and giving it the rest and care it deserves, it will stabilize at its healthiest weight. And to that same note, medical conditions aside, there is no way that you will continue to gain weight indefinitely. Once you reach a healthy, maintainable weight for your body – you’ll stop there. You might fluctuate anywhere from 2-4 pounds in the morning, at night, after eating, etc. but believe me, you will not keep gaining forever.
And Then There’s Weight Re-Distribution
Just as our bodies are incredibly smart, they’re also crazy different. An added 10 pounds on one woman will look incredibly different than 10 extra pounds on someone else. From the beginning of my recovery to today I gained 30 pounds over the course of a year and a half. The first place I started to see the weight re-distribute was in my tummy and hips, and man it wasn’t easy to cope with. That’s why I created the “10 Ways to Cope with Weight Gain When You’re Recovering From an Eating Disorder” mini Ebook, which you can click to download throughout this post. Weight gain isn’t easy to adjust to mentally. Seeing weight re-distribution on various parts of our bodies can be scary. But in your heart you know that the weight gain will do you good, time to start believing it.
PS – Sexy Can Jiggle Too
You wouldn’t think that the more weight you gain, the more confident you would feel. Maybe because diet culture, magazine ads, and weight loss commercials all try to convince you of the opposite. They want you to believe that skinny is sexier, and that weight loss leads to confidence. It’s a broken formula if I ever saw one.
When you’re worried that you will never feel confident if you gain weight, think back to how you felt before. Did losing weight ever make you feel whole? Did your lowest ever give you that surge of confidence you desired? I know it didn’t for me. Now, 30 pounds heavier, I feel more confident and gorgeous than ever. It’s true, sexy can come in the form of cellulite covered thighs and a belly pooch. You can choose to wear your weight gain with pride. And with these tools, you can cope with the anxiety of weight gain, and come out happier, healthier, and more confident.
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