Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dealing with Weight Gain

I've read many other bloggers' posts about dealing with weight gain and my comments to them have always been something like, "Girly, do not worry about the number on the scale! You know that your body needs the extra food, and your weight will just balance itself out as long as you eat relatively healthy when you are hungry. Don't compare yourself now to your anorexic body. You were at an unhealthy weight then. I know that it's hard, but you can't give in to restriction. That will just undermine all of the progress you have made thus far."

So I just read what I typed, applying it to myself. Wow. How can the same girl that says & knows these things so well have such a hard time following her own advice?

All in all, though, I am doing SO well. Yes, I have gained weight. Yes, I weigh more than I ever have in recovery. And it's uncomfortable; it is hard. It's hard because I don't know whether this is the weight I'm supposed to be or if it is too much or still too little. My BMI is around 19, maybe a little less. I know that BMI is just a dumb number, and it's not really applicable for athletes, anyway. However, it is good to know that I'm not in the 'unhealthy' weight range anymore.
After the home cross country meet in September. Eew.
Being a Division 1, SEC athlete, I constantly hear about finding your "race weight" and maintaining that weight throughout the season. I have no idea what mine is. In cross country my lowest weight was 107. I honestly looked sickly at that point in time, and I know that was not a healthy weight for me. Now I weigh around 118. I'm not trying to sound conceited with this next statement, but I have raced pretty well the whole year, throughout the 107-118 range, therefore making it hard for me to pinpoint my exact "race weight". Idk, I guess I am in better shape now than I was in cross country, (at least that is what Coach says). To be completely honest with myself, I know that with the weight gain comes added strength and stamina. It's just that I don't know when the weight gain should stop.
Still a little too skinny..
I binged on Monday night. It was horrible. I cannot even begin to describe the feelings of self-loathing and shame I felt that evening. Afterwards my good friend Maria called because I texted her about it. Throughout my sobbing, she told me what I knew- God is there for me no matter what. I cannot focus on the past. What's done is done. The most important quote I took away from our conversation: "No future without forgiveness".
Also, my friend on the team Loren responded to my text on Monday night. Again, she is another wonderful friend who inspires me to further develop my relationship with Christ. She has struggled with bingeing in the past, and she seems to be doing so great right now. She has incorporated more food into the beginning of her day so that her body doesn't crave it at night, and it seems to be working for her. Hmm, coincidence Haley? :P I need to work harder on that..
But she reassured me that one slip up is okay. It is to be expected. Each day is a new day. I have to remember that restricting will only lead to bingeing which leads to restricting. And we all know that cycle blows hardcore.
P.S. Loren's grandfather recently passed away. His funeral is tomorrow. Prayers for her and her family would be greatly appreciated.

Yes, it was really hard to live with myself the next day.. Btw, Kelly *nutritionist* just had a baby on Thursday :) and so I won't be able to go in and see her/get weighed :( until next fall. But I talked to her on the phone yesterday, and she also had the opinion that one binge is not the end of the world. She reminded me of all the progress I have made, and she told me how proud she was of me.
It really hit home that I have made so much progress.. Yes, my road to recovery hasn't always been smooth, but hey I am working so hard. I eat my fear foods *most of them*. I go out to eat without freaking out. I overeat sometimes, too often in my opinion, but I'm still learning.
The best thing about recovery is the lack of obsession with food. I used to freak out about what I would eat after practice, what I would order at the restaurant the track team would go to this weekend, how many freaking carrots I consumed, etc..
Now I live my life without worrying about these things. Food isn't the most important thing. Yes, I love learning about food and nutrition, but I'm not scared anymore. Food isn't the enemy. It's fuel. Wow, it's great to reread that line and know that I actually believe it.
I have been eating pita chips & hummus like no other. Also protein oats have become my best friend, along with greek yogurt 'messes' :)

So finally to get back to the point of this post, the most difficult thing I'm dealing with at the moment is self-image. I never had a problem with it before, even when I gained weight. But I feel like 118 looks so much bigger than 115. Connor thinks I'm ridiculous. "What is 1, 2, 3 pounds?" he asks.
It's not necessarily the number. I can tell that my body is changing.
I don't have the abs I used to. There is now a little bit of flab there. The past few days I have been very self-conscious at practice, and I've tried my best to avoid taking off my shirt, (sometimes it's just so hot that I don't care too much). I have extra skin between my thighs, and my calves don't seem as trim as before. I also have this paranoia feeling like everyone's looking at me and thinking, "Wow, she's been getting a little too friendly with that jar of peanut butter lately, huh?" P.s. That's a stolen phrase from my childhood, courtesy of Dad.
Too big?
I'm praying that I come to terms with my body and find my 'normal/ideal' weight without too much fear and obsession over the number on the scale or the image in the mirror.

I've written much more about God in this post than usual. I have really grown in my relationship with Him these past couple weeks. And it is making recovery that much easier. I love knowing that He could care less what I eat or look like. Maria pointed out this passage to me, and I've been trying to focus on it whenever I am struggling with anorexic/bingeing thoughts or behaviors.

"Don't Worry"  by Luke 12:22-34
[Jesus] said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear. For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. Notice the ravens: they do not sow or reap; they have neither storehouse nor barn, yet God feeds them. How much more important are you than birds! Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your lifespan? If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest? Notice how the flowers grow. They do not toil or spin. But I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass in the field that grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?

As for you, do not see what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not worry anymore. All the nations of the world seek for these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these other things will be given you besides. Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

I hope this passage spoke to some of you. If you're not Christian then I hope that you have some kind of higher power or at least a family member or friend to look to during hard times. Also, know that I am always here for any of you if you ever want to talk. You all have been sososo encouraging and helpful to me throughout my path to becoming ED-free, and I am beyond grateful.

P.s. My race in California went even better than I had hoped! I ran my 10k in 34:04 to break the school record and qualify for first round of Nationals. I felt great. Thanks for all of the good luck wishes :)

P.p.s. I put all of my binge foods (Annie's cookies, boxes of granola, literally 14 jars of peanut butter) into a bag, and Connor is going to bring them back to his dorm tomorrow and then home when he leaves  next Friday. Don't worry, I still have a jar of peanut butter, almond butter, and coconut butter. It's just that when I go on my binges it becomes an OCD thing, too, and I have to have a spoonful of each kind. If I have two spoonfuls of my dark chocolate peanut butter, then I need to have another spoonful of the Cinnamon Raisin Swirl. It's stupid, but it's what I do.. So anyway, this will make things easier for the time being.
At any rate, I don't feel like I'll binge any time soon. I have 0 desire to do so. I feel like s*** after, and I'm tired of that. I want to fuel my body when it wants it, not at 11:00 at night when I'm feeling depressed/lonely/whatever it is that makes me binge.

Ok, so I'm done rambling now. Thank you for reading this long, redundant post if you did so. I hope you all have a wonderful week! I'm going to leave you with a question! You can reply in comments if you wish :)

Have you ever had to deal with weight gain, whether it was necessary or not?

If so, how did you determine what the right weight/size was for you?

And how did you come to terms with your new non-ED body?

<3 Haley


  1. Not going to lie, but you look better now, and prettier as well! Not that you were not pretty when you were skinner, but having that healthy glow in your recent photo made you look prettier, if that makes sense?

    I can't answer your questions right now because I am struggling and not doing that superb like I should be. But the good part is, I'm going to see a therapist in a few weeks and hopefully I will be able to answer your questions this summer? :)

    Keep up the great work! Hugs

  2. You really look amazing, and I'm not just saying that to make you feel better! Like Ashley said, you glow now and that's great.

    I love that passage from Luke. I need to bookmark it or something because it's really applicable. I've been diving deeper into my relationship with Jesus lately and it's done nothing but benefitted my recovery. I'm glad it's the same for you :)

    And I have dealt with weight gain during my recovery process. I'm at the highest weight I've been in my life, and even though I know it's still underweight by stupid BMI standards, it still makes me feel like I've gained too much. When I was seeing a therapist, she agreed that this was a good weight for me and I know if I drop, I'll be pulled out of college so that really motivates me haha.

    You've been doing so well, keep it up girl!!!!!

  3. Haley,
    Congratulations on your race- that's fantastic!!! :-)
    Just as a general comment, I want to tell you how much I appreciate how honest and real all of your posts are. I love how you talk about both your successes and your struggles- I can always relate so much and your strength inspires me. I wish I could tell you in person how awesome I think you are! :-)
    You have made so much progress, girl! I'm so happy for you that you are free from constant obsessions about food- none of us should have to live like that- and that you're free to eat fear foods and go out to eat and just generally able to enjoy life without being consumed by ED! That's awesome. :-)
    About the weight gain- I can totally relate to your body image struggles. You're not alone- I've struggled too with adjusting to weight gain, and I get frustrated a lot not knowing what my person healthy weight is. It's like, BMI is one thing, but natural set point is a whole different story, and it's confusing! We have to have faith though that it will get easier. This is an adjustment period- we won't always feel this uncomfortable in our bodies.
    My advice to you would be to try to talk back to the negative body image thoughts you have, and focus on all of the great things that your body can do now that it's healthy. That's impressive that you still raced well when you were sick, but my guess is that your concentration, memory, and energy levels weren't what they are now.
    Also, in determining what size is right for you, do you think you could use your weight pre-ED as a marker? For me, I am basing my "healthy weight" off what I weighed back when I was eating healthily consistently.
    I appreciate you talking about your relationship to God! Would love to hear more about it, as I am struggling to connect with Him.
    Sorry this was so long!!!
    Take care Haley- keep up the good work. Just like eating healthy became easier, appreciating your body will become easier too!
    p.s. In the recent pic you are NOT too big by any means!!! That's your ED distorting your perception, I promise

  4. seriously Haley, you look really good.. you still look SO slim in that picture which just goes to show how you have skinny genes!.. also.... that race time is AMAZING!!! i never realized how GREAT of a runner you are!!! incredible!

  5. Oh girlie you look so amazing right now!!!! I know it's not all about looks but seriously i was so shocked when I saw that last pic because you look so radiant. I'm sorry you've bee struggling with binging recently but, as you already know, the less you restrict, the less likely you are to binge. That's not to say that it's not going to happen, but the more you tell yourself that you're allowed any food that you like, your body will slowly get used to the fact that all food is available to you at any time.

    I have most recently just reached a BMI of 20 and to be honest, I don't believe that this is the weight for me. I absolutely have no idea where I'm supposed to be but it's not something that my mind can choose. I'm leaving this decision up to my body. I think I am a bit more than BMI 20 now because I have put on more weight since I found out but honestly, when you reach this point, gaining weight isn't scary anymore. Well, to me it isn't.

    I grew to love my body because I'm just so goddam grateful for it still being there for me after all that I put it through. And it's about time that I start caring for it. Even if there are bits about my body that I don't like. So what? You just have to remember that you are so much happier now than you ever were when you were starving. And girl you look fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine ;)

    If you ever want to ask me any questions about it feel free to do so :)


  6. Honey, you know what, the fact you are having all these really tough feelings, but STILL managing to stay in recovery is a real credit to you.
    These things take time, and I know that word is so annoying, but you won't just over night feel okay with the weight gain.
    You look sick in the first picture and in the last - amazing.
    You are still tiny, and I don't say that just to say it, but you are.
    And yet, the changes in the brightness in your face, and such, show a far better picture.
    I struggled, of course, with weight gain.
    I went from a very low weight to normal.
    Initially my body stayed at lower weights for a while. And I wasn't sure if that is where my body wanted to be. I don't even know if I do now.
    My weight does fluctuate and especially with stress and such.
    But for now. I think getting to a weight that is healthy, and if you feel strong enough to race with the weight you to keep your meal plan. And if you stay the same, you do.
    I can imagine with all the sport you will remain lower in weight, compared to if you generally wasn't sporty.
    But even in the times you are not running, it is okay to be healthy and 'normal.'
    Your weight is only JUST in the healthy category, and I know emotionally it is hard to accept, on a practical level, it can be rationalised.
    BMI is a hard measure, and at the same time, it is maybe helpful when we are not sure where our body is meant to be.
    I hope you can continue to fight this.

    As for me, and my body.
    It took time.
    But now, I feel so comfortable in myself, and that will come for you.
    It will xxx

  7. Hey girl!!

    First up, you are SO DARN GORGEOUS!! Seriously, you are so stunning!! And wow girl you are SUCH an amazing runner!! Racing weight is obviously a big issue, but strength gained from those few extra pound is worth so much more than being a few pounds lighter.

    I totally understand what your talking about. I was a HUGE binge-purger for a long time, and that really sucked. The fear of weight gain too is way too familiar! But you CAN and WILL get through it all, because you have the love and support of SO MANY PEOPLE and God is always with you too- never forget that!

    For me, it's not about being the 'right weight' anymore. It's about being happy with my weight and with my attitude towards food, the scales, etc. I've found my peace with all those things now, and I KNOW you will too soon:)

    Have a great day gorgeous!!

  8. You look amazing!

    Keep chugging along, little sister :)


  9. For whatever reason, the more recent picture sends off some happier, more relaxed "vibes" overall. However you take it. Maybe your body is just more comfortable, even if your mind is stressed?

    I think it will be great for you to see how fast you can run at cross country next season, after maintaining your weight! Who knows? More school records? Congrats on your race!!

  10. Congrats on your race! That's so exciting - I can tell how hard you work for it and how much it means to you. I love seeing us girls reach our goals! ;)

    You look beautiful and not at all "too big". In fact you still look quite slender. I did have to gain weight during recovery and it was hard. My nutritionist actually let me see how much I weighed each week even though she wasn't supposed to and I think that actually helped me feel more "in control" of the weight gain. The reason I know I weigh enough is when I keep getting my period. If I skip a month, usually it's because I've let my weight slip. It usually doesn't even have to be a major loss - 2 or 3 lbs will do it. Then I know I need to be a little more careful!

    I'm so happy for you! Stay strong and AMAZING!

  11. O my gosh I can't even tell you how much I can relate to what your going through. I really appreciate this post and your honesty because I seriously just want to shout "AMEN" to everything you just said!I would love to talk about it with you sometime so shoot me an email :)

  12. goodness I can't believe that was just September!! that's so recent! I'm so glad you realized that was not a healthy place to be.

    You are still such a small person -- I know it's probably hard to see that now, but imagine yourself in your older years, looking back at the photo. Can't you see what a young, fit, hot girl is looking back?

    and a SCHOOL RECORD!! that 10k time just blows my mind. you are easily the fastest runner of all the running blogs I read. 5:xx miles!?!?! wowwww. soon you will be too busy with the olympics to worry about how much peanut butter you ate (p.s. I'm eating 1/3 a jar of almond butter as I type and am happy and in control. yum!)

  13. Hi Haley..I stumbled upon your blog by way of Hungry Runner Girl. I hope that the blogging community gives you strength and the support that you need to continue your recovery. I hope that you can start to really believe your own advice...because it's so very true.

  14. I determined the weight that was right for me by a few things:
    1) I get my period back at my happy weight
    2) I dont have to diet or restrict to maintain it
    3) Its the same weight I kinda hit when I went through puberty
    4) my health stats are good

  15. Hey Haley! Woooow, I CAN NOT believe how much you and I relate! I too am dealing with recovering from Anorexia Nervosa. And I, just as well have been having internal struggles dealing with restricting/bingeing (sometimes), as well as having TERRIBLE body image conflicts in which have been really difficult for me to deal with lately. I also LOVE how you use GOD as your main tool for hope and recovery, I know I always have:))

    I'm actually currently looking towards seeing my therapist this Wednesday, I mainly hope to bring up the topic that I am TRUELY still struggling with knowing that my weight gain is something that I should'nt be afraid of.. I really DO just want to return to my normal weight, but I'm terrified at the same time because I haven't been at MY "normal" weight for a while now, so it's going to be difficult realizing where I was at originally before any ED problems.... Anyways, God Bless You Haley! I hope we can stay in contact! <3 Sincereley, your online pal, Nick Duenas. :D

  16. I'm a 15 year old 400m runner and i deal with the same thing.
    I only started recovery about 3 weeks ago and have already put on 6-7lbs, but I weigh as much as I did last aths season now (in Australia) and I ran really badly at nationals so I'm trying to use that to keep me going.
    I find the hardest thing is being around the other girls that I compete against, obviously a lot of them are sick too but It's still hard to try and stop comparing my body to theirs, especially in our running attire I'm sure your familiar with :)
    I WANT to get better so that I can run better, I'm sick of it!
    well done on how far you've come, your an inspiration to me to keep going and trust in what my nutritionist feels is my ideal weight.
    Just a few things she pointed out to me about weight gain in recovery:
    -about 500ml of water is equal to 1lb of body weight, so if your drinking say 2 liters a day, that's about 4lbs (with no 'harm' to your body at all!)
    -as you recover the muscle that deteriorates when your body weight is too low reforms, we all know muscle weights more than fat so...
    Obviously, it will take time to feel comfortable with your weight, but I'm confident that as I start seeing results (like you have, congratulations!) it will gradually get easier.

  17. Wow. Just what I needed right now. A truly inspiring post. Everything you said made so much sense to me, I'm due my weigh-in tomorrow and it'll probably be my third session in a row of gaining. It's getting tough but if I can end up as beautiful as you look when you're a little healthier, it'll make it all so much easier.

    I hope you're well. X

  18. I know I'm a little late with my response but I think you looked a bit unhealthy at such a low weight. That's what people tell me about my weight now. Honestly, it is very hard to see what we truly are, especially if we have disordered thoughts. I have to gain weight-specifically fat-to get my period back and I am struggling with this mentally. Every time I gain, I think I feel sick, don't eat, and end up losing more than before. I am trying so hard to be okay with it.. I really need advice on how much to eat and just advice in general. I am 5'2" to 5'3" and my weight is at a low 98. I jog for an hour about 6 days a week sometimes 5 and recently I've upped my calories to 2000. Is this sufficient?

  19. Thank you so much for this encouraging post:) I'm in the middle of recovery and have REALLY struggled with the idea of gaining weight, but I know it'll just make me healthier Ironically, I'm a runner and a christian too! and have to deal with the same issues. It's always nice to hear you're not alone. I think you look absolutly beautiful at whatever weight you are in the last picture :)

  20. Thank you so much for posting this you look amazing, for me when i am feeding myself properly and i feel good,not starving all the time,i know i am more healthy. I have several health problems now from a year of anorexia,it was so not worth it.i am healthy now but will have to live the rest of my life with the health problems.

  21. You look amazing, totally not too big. I have struggled with anorexia for three years now, but three months ago I decided I wanted to get better. It's been a difficult process and I (obviously) have a long way to go. But God has really been working in me, and I honestly WANT to get better. It's difficult because I know I've been gaining, and yet it's just the beginning. How did you deal/are dealing with weight gain? What was the most helpful thing for you?

    You are such an inspiration :)