Gaining weight, even if it's "healthy" weight gain, is an absolute mental f*ck for someone who is recovering from an eating disorder. I mean, my entire life used to be consumed by measuring my worth based on losing weight. Now, you want me to gain weight? Are you insane. How am I supposed to do that? How am I supposed to validate my worth? How am I supposed to wake up every morning and NOT step on the scale and see the number go down? Like, that's not okay. But I made a choice. A choice to recover. I had no idea what that meant, or what to expect. Yet here I am.
It's time to get real. Recovery is not rainbows and sunshine. It's awful and the thoughts are even worse. The journey is a constant battle. It's not like you wake up one day heavier, happier, and recovered. It's a roller coaster of emotional ups and downs, insecurities, tears, heartaches and struggles.
These are the real and raw experiences that I went through while gaining weight and I'm honestly still experiencing them. I'm not saying I dig deep into these thoughts and go back to my old habits, but I'm telling you this is what happens. This is what I go through.
So, here - this is what it's actually like to gain weight after an eating disorder.
1. I'm not the thinnest person in the room anymore and I'm a failure
We are praised for losing weight. We constantly compliment people and tell them "wow you look great, did you lose weight?" Losing weight means success. Losing weight is (unfortunately) always related to being healthy.
Now, when you're recovering from an eating disorder and gaining weight, it's an absolute mental f*ck. Basically I think that everyone assumes I'm a failure because I'm gaining weight. It's like everyone is going one direction and I'm going the opposite way. I feel like when someone looks at me they immediately notice how much tighter my clothes are now and how much bigger my thighs are. When I see my reflection, the first thing that pops out to me are my thighs. I bet everyone notices them.
Meanwhile, everyone else is on their weight loss journeys, getting praised for losing weight. And here I am ... GAINING weight. I'm pissed. I'm uncomfortable and I hate it. But I keep going.
2. Looking at pictures of myself is absolutely horrifying
The worst thing in the world is being tagged in a picture on Facebook and all that sticks out to you is how much rounder your face got, and how there's some extra flab on your arms. God forbid it be a picture of me sitting down because now I have a belly pooch when I sit and my thighs expand and look like they are going to bulge out of my pants. I feel uncomfortable, but I keep fighting.
3. I have no idea WTF my body is telling me
Am I hungry? Am I bored? Am I eating just because I think I need to eat to gain weight and "recover?" Then I look in the mirror and notice my stomach pooch and I'm like, "oh shit, yeah I'm def not hungry."
Regaining your relationship with food and listening to your body takes YEARS to fix. Some days you question every signal your body is telling you. Some days you just have no f*cking idea what to do. Meanwhile, your mind is going in a 100 different directions and you drive yourself crazy. But I eat and fuel my body because I need to keep fighting.
4. I get really pissed off when people tell me I look "healthy"
Oh, I look healthy? What you really mean is I gained weight. Thanks.
For me, when I had an ED, I found satisfaction from looking sickly ill. I wanted to be called thin, skinny, whatever. Smaller meant better. But now, NOW I look HEALTHY? That honestly makes me feel like I look fat and gained weight. And now I'm disappointed in myself, embarrassed, and honestly it makes me want to go back to my old habits. But I don't. I keep fighting.
5. I began to realize the problem has nothing to do with my weight
Was I happy at Xlbs? No. I'm gaining weight and I'm still struggling. Where is this problem stemming from? As I say over and over again, eating disorders aren't about food and they aren't about looking like a model. They are about control and some underlying issue. I'm dealing with something deeper and use the ability to control my weight as a coping mechanism. So here I am, fighting, self-discovering every single day.
These are the ED thoughts that I still have. This is me being completely raw and vulnerable. Some days are worse than others and who knows the trigger. But like I've said before, thoughts are just thoughts. They are not real. It's about accepting them and then moving forward.
I am happy to have other incredible women share their thoughts and perspectives on weight gain below to give more insight on the topic.
How Cayenne (@healthyezsweet) feels about weight gain
Lexi's (@lexilonglegs27) weight gain journey
Even though binging is a form of disordered eating, I look at it as a blessing in disguise. I was pretty much forced to gain back the healthy weight my body was desperately craving. Throughout the process I was SOOO self concious. I didn't wear shorts for a couple of months because I felt like everyone was staring at my thighs. Overtime I started to just accept it and embrace my new curves that make me look like a woman. I have a booty again! I still have my days where I feel like a whale, but I choose to focus on what an actual blessing it is to have this beautiful body. Stay strong, practice postive thinking, and always be grateful. There's a light at the end of every tunnel, I promise." - @lexilonglegs27
Jen's (@citygirlyogi) perspective on weight gain
Amy's (@algeorge14) experience with weight gain
How would you describe your experience gaining weight after an eating disorder, or unhealthy relationship with food, exercise and your body?