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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on this blog are free of gluten, peanuts, soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish, cane sugar, oranges, and yeast. Most recipes are also free of egg, dairy, and tree nuts (if used, reliable substitutions will be provided for these when possible). Check out my recipe index for a full list of recipes by category. 

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Wednesday
Oct142009

Weighty Matters.

When you housesit, you have access to other people's stuff. Things you aren't used to having around. New books. Different pots and pan. Softer sheets. A nicer bed. Maybe a cool iPod stereo system. Or a nice TV. Or, maybe a bathroom scale. Yes, that's right. A bathroom scale. The pink elephant in the room. The thing that many people are both repulsed by and inexplicably drawn to. A funny little device that has the ability to tear down self-confidence in a moment, or if you're lucky, leave you feeling pleasantly surprised and suddenly much better about yourself.

 

Damn scale.
 



About two months ago, I was housesitting, and had access to all of the things above, including the scale. I couldn't resist the self-tortured temptation to hop on that scale; I hadn't been on one since May.  So I did, I got on, and it confirmed my weight-related suspicion. Not that I needed numerical confirmation that I've been putting on weight. Back in March, I had to put away my cute jeans. In April, I had to retire my favorite black skinny legged pants, and I pulled out the larger bra I hadn't worn in at least a year from my drawer. I noticed more squish. Everywhere. Since then, my cute black mini skirt stopped looking cute, and also got put in the drawer. My "big" jeans are now snug. When I sit, I notice my tummy rolls over my pants a bit. I've noticed more lumps and bumps. And then the scale told me a number: 168 pounds.
 


A year ago, I was teetering at 145 - which was a scary number for me. I'm a long-limbed 5'11" , and 145 was far too frail. I looked like a bony chicken wing and I felt deficient. I started eating spoonfuls of coconut oil and ghee, and shoving in avocados in an effort to gain weight. The people that know me best expressed serious concern. I started seeing a naturopath, and she was hell bent on me gaining weight. And even though I felt terrible, and knew I looked unhealthy, a small part of me loved it. Having struggled with my weight for most of my life, I found the experience sort of grossly pleasing. Until early 2008, I was always over 200 pounds, topping out at 245 after my freshman year of college (damn you, beer, pizzas, and cafeteria frozen yogurt machine).
 

All my life, I always dreamt of being thin, but never thought it would happen. Sure, I'd slowly been losing weight since college, and while I was in good cardiovascular shape, and had lost quite a bit of weight, I was by no means slender. Regardless, I completed a triathlon, losing 15 pounds during training. I lost more weight after training for and completing another triathlon and a 300 mile race, and then a bit more just living healthily. But I still felt like the fat girl. I still wore "plus size" clothes. I still didn't feel my physical appearance matched my lifestyle. So I found a personal trainer two years ago, took a couple sessions, and started a more intense exercise program. I did a few cleanses. Then a few other factors changed (damn you, Gardasil vaccination!), things started getting really messed up, my digestion went downhill, and I shedding pounds faster than a big fluffy cat sheds hair. I lost more weight once I started the anti-Candida diet and was still struggling with poor digestion. Then before I knew it, I was down to 145, looked pale and peaked, was freezing all the time (even on the hottest of days), obsessively thought about food, and was downright bony.
 

I weighed 100 pounds less than I did in college. The number was staggering to me. And even though I knew I was unhealthy, a small part of me took pleasure in seeing my hip bones and ribcage. I loved going into H&M and easily buying pants off the rack. I both detested and enjoyed people commenting on how "great" I looked, wanting to know my "secret" to losing so much weight. The attention was addictive, I loved the compliments. But at the same time, I hated that people only told me I looked amazing when I was so unhealthy. It made me hate the vanity of our cultural supposition that thinness = beauty = health. I wasn't healthy. I was malnourished. Literally. And even though I found a weird pleasure in being so thin, I hated how I looked. I thought I looked like shit. My hair had thinned, my skin was pale and dry, and I just looked dull. Without life.
 

Since housesitting back in August, I felt even more weight gain, and was totally perplexed.  I don't have a thyroid problem, and my pituitary is fine.  Then I realized it: as my digestive system has healed, I'm absorbing nutrients again.  I probably don't need to eat as much as I used, or use all that olive oil.  And now that I have all this energy again, I should probably do a little cardiovascular exercise, not just a bunch of yoga.  Huh.
 

So, about a month ago, I joined the gym.  I lost a couple pounds, and am now around 173, even with the added muscle.  I feel good exercising and getting the blood moving.  But at the same time, I'm having some serious body image issues.  I'm now about 30 pounds heavier than I was a year ago. I told this to someone the other day, and they didn't believe me. It's true. Numbers don't lie. Yes, some of it is muscle - I've been lifting at the gym, eating more protein, and my muscle tone has started to come back. As for the rest of the weight, it is back in the form of curves. My hourglass figure has returned. I've got some "junk back in my trunk". My thighs touch again, and my hips have spread. The bones of my pelvis are now disguised by a layer of flesh, and my breasts have regained some much-missed volume. I feel present in my body again. I feel my own weight. I get hot. I sweat. I have color back to my complexion, and my skin is softer, moister. My hair is thick again. And while I am by no means skinny, I am still what I'd consider slender. I actually look healthy now.  But I can't help but feel FAT.  I obsess about it.  It's unhealthy to be suffering this kind of body dysmorphia, seriously.
 

Truth be told, I'm terrified of gaining more weight back. I don't want to go back to where I used to be ever again. I like being on the slender side of things. My joints don't get achy. Yoga postures are easier to get into. Heck, exercise overall is easier. People treat me differently. Clothes fit better. And I fit better on crowded buses and airplanes. It is just easier to be skinnier.

But the thing that I notice most of all is that my sparkle, my spirit, my inner glow - the things that make me truly beautiful - are all back as well. For most of last year, they were depleted, there was barely a flicker left. Regardless of the amount of fat on my ass or the roundness of my belly, it is the inner glow that makes me gorgeous. But this is hard for me to remember. The thing that truly makes me beautiful has nothing to do with what size pants I wear.  
 

So I don't know what to do, other than try to constantly reaffirm that my body is doing what it needs to do, and as I continue to heal, my weight will even out.  I truly feel that my ideal weight is about 8  pounds less than where I am now, with a little more muscle tone.  I'm hoping that by going to the gym, cutting back on some of that olive oil I got used to dousing all over everything, sending myself positive affirmations, and talking over this stuff with my therapist, I can resolve some of this weight related inner turmoil.  But dealing with such massive change over the last year has done a real number on my psyche.   
 

No one ever said healing was easy.


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Reader Comments (5)

Hey Kim!

Love the new blog--a great idea. And what a wonderful first (well, first after the "welcome," anyway) post! I've been having a similar experience now that I've lost so much weight on the ACD. People at work are noticing and complimenting me on how "good" I look--and all I can think of is the irony that I still feel like crap. Why can't we look AND feel good at the same time?

You're probably already familiar with Geneen Roth's work, but When Food is Love taught me a lot about letting my body seek out its own, comfortable, weight. I'm still working on it and also worry that I'll begin to gain once I'm feeling better. I think your attitude is both reasonable and useful--being kind to yourself will likely elicit better results than beating up on yourself.

Thanks for sharing so much of your journey, and for inspiring those of us who read your posts!

October 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRicki

Hi Kim!

I really like your ideas and I definitely know what it's like to have your weight fluctuate like that. I'm 5'5" and a few years ago I was down to 100 lbs!! I looked awful too, but actually most people agreed and did NOT think I looked good. Not sure which is worse. So it's been a very long journey and I think I need to go through it again and write about where I've been and how far I've come when I still have my bad days. So I think I'm going to copy you in having a separate blog to vent. I'm working on a blog right now and I sorta suck at it. I'm trying to get recipes and all that I've learned, but I have this awful need to vent. It's getting in the way of what I really want to do. I think I want my blog to be recipes and other information about nutrition since I'm actually going to make a career out of it. And then another one to talk about my emotional/spiritual/physical journey. Thanks so much for all your ideas. It totally sucks that you have to go through this, but just know that your blog helps encourage those of us who are in similar situations!

October 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKari

Hi Kim,

I love your food blog and I'm glad I've discovered this one too...It's interesting to see this side of you, the deeper, more personal side that gets covered more extensively than a food blog can offer.

I see myself in much of your experience...I'm currently on the ACD and mostly feel good on it. Except for those moments when I have a tummy flare-up and think, "What's the point of doing this??"...or when damnit, I just want some good chocolate!

I also LOVE Geneen Roth...I read (and completed all the exercises) in her book/workbook "Why Weight?", and I believe it was a major turning point for me.

I also think you should start opening yourself, and considering the possibility that you can have it all...that is to say, a "happy weight" AND a "glow". Having one doesn't mean having to sacrifice the other, even though that may have been your past experience. Start believing that you are both comfortable and proud of your body, and have a healthy glow...Our own beliefs about ourselves can carry us far further than we realize.

Best wishes! I'll be back to cheer you on and to hear about your healing updates!

Tace care,
Alex

November 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

Hi Alex,
Thanks for the supportive comment! I will have to look at the book you recommended - I think some reading on the subject would be very beneficial. And yes, I agree, I need to start thinking about "happy weight" and "glow" being at the same time. What you said is very reaffirming and I appreciate your positive attitude of self-love and acceptance. In theory, this is how I want to feel - but putting into practice is much harder!

Thanks again for the comment, and I hope to see you around the blog again- I wish you luck on your ACD journey too, it is a hard road, isn't it? But hang in there; obviously, you are in tune with your body and what it needs, and have learned how to follow that. Good luck! Thankfully, we all can support each other through the internet : )

November 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKim Christensen

You are right. What is more important than looking good and staying slim is the beauty that one has inside. Yoga is not just an exercise, it can help you focus and meditate to achieve inner peace. One way to lose weight fast is to do hot yoga, where you shall do the poses in a temperature controlled studio that will help you sweat and even get rid of toxins.

July 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterYoga Teacher Training
Sorry, no comments/questions allowed right now.
Hi reader! My schedule as full-time grad student with two part-time jobs doesn't allow me the time to manage comments. I hope you enjoy what you find and can figure out answers to any questions you may have. xo