This blog is going to be a tough one to write but I think being honest with you, honest with myself, and getting all of my thoughts and feelings out is only going to continue to help me heal. So, here we go. I talked about weight gain in another post, you can read about it HERE. But in this post, I wanted to go into more detail as to when I started gaining weight, some of the reasons that added to the weight gain, how I feel and what I am doing about it now.
To begin with, I have been very hard on myself because of this weight gain. I even have days where I HATE myself and feel like I not only let myself down but others as well. I cannot believe that I allowed this to happen. I told myself that I would never be someone who fell into those typical statistics of people who lose a lot of weight and gain it back. I told myself that would not be me…but here we are.
Getting to my Lowest Weight
Early in 2016, before I started my skin removal journey, my weight was around 150 pounds. I had an estimated 30 plus pounds of loose skin on my body so that 150 pounds was less than that if you took all the loose skin off. But 150 was the lowest I could get. I maintained that weight for quite a while before I had skin removal surgery, even though I was still actively trying to lose more weight….but the scale never budged.
When I was at my lowest, I was in an unhealthy place. I was still actively trying to lose weight, even when my doctors and surgeon told me to just maintain, mentally I still wanted to lose more. I was killing myself in the gym, working out 7 days a week. I also dropped my calories VERY low. I was still trying to do everything I could to lose more weight because in my head I still did not feel “skinny” enough. The lifestyle I was living was not only unhealthy, but it was not something I could maintain the rest of my life. For that, I take full responsibility. I should have asked for help, went to talk to a therapist and I should have listened to my doctors and surgeon and tried to maintain my weight where I was. I should have learned how to stay on maintenance after extreme weight loss. I should have learned to change my ways of thinking and my unhealthy behaviors. I should have done a lot of things differently. Reality is, I didn’t. It is easy to look back now and say those things. At the moment, it wasn’t as easy.
Since the scale was not moving, I had everyone fooled that I was doing a good job with maintenance. I kept everything inside. I kept the pain of still feeling like I was still 500 pounds inside. I hid how I was killing myself in the gym and I hid the fact that I had basically stopped eating. I never talked about how much I was struggling inside. I acted like a girl, who had lost over 300 pounds and was finally happy. Deep down inside I was far from happy.
Starting My Skin Removal Journey
In July 2016, my skin removal surgery journey began. That self-anger and frustration were now amplified. Now I was mad at what I had done to my body, mad I got to 500 pounds and I was mad that I now needed to have surgery to “fix” an issue that I should have never allowed to happen. The worst part of the surgery was the anger I had towards myself for getting myself in this situation where I even needed surgery in the first place.
I tried to stay as positive as I could. I was SO proud of myself for losing weight, I was so happy that I found an amazing surgeon who was going to help me to change my life with these surgeries. I was happy to finally feel like I was living a life that was finally mine where my weight did not hold me back. I was finally learning who I was and who I wanted to be. I started to believe in myself again. I learned about self-love along my journey and no matter how much I was struggling I knew I deserved to love my self no matter what. I tried to focus on loving myself. Since I never addressed my mental health and my struggles and I kept these all in….I began struggling more than I even realized at that time.
Recovery from Surgery is HARD!
As we know with surgery comes recovery. You are not allowed to workout, heck you hardly even move for the first few weeks. As much as surgery changed my life, recovery was brutal. I started to turn to food more and more for comfort and I continued to keep my feelings and struggles in. Everyone told me how lucky I was to lose all this weight, how happy I should be now that I was “skinny” and everyone thought I had this perfect life and body now that I had lost weight and was having surgery. What they didn’t see was how much I was struggling and that I was not ok. To me, I didn’t feel like I had a right to “complain”. I didn’t think I was allowed to talk about how I was struggling. I felt like I would let everyone down. So I kept pretending I was ok, pushing my struggles deeper and deeper inside, and that resulted in turning to food more and more.
I continued to have skin removal procedures to rid my body of so much excess skin. As a result of so many procedures, my doctors and I found that my body had a hard time getting rid of the fluid properly. My body was holding onto everything and the fluid was having a hard time coming out. We tried compression, massages, drinking more water, seeing specialists….and I pretty much had to reteach my body how to move the fluid in my body. As time went by, my body began to look puffier and puffier. On top of eating more, the puffiness from fluid retention was adding to how my body looked and I was freaking out. I again turned to food for comfort instead of talking about what was going on. I tried losing weight, but I only ended up losing 10 pounds, gaining 10 pounds. It was a vicious cycle of losing and regaining those 10 pounds over and over.
We have reached a turning point with swelling, puffiness and weight gain
Fast forward to 2019, the most recent skin removal surgery on my legs. I had some complications and ended up having a huge wound that needed a skin graft to properly heal. Because of all of this I was unable to get into the proper compression garments after surgery. My legs really puffed up and so did the rest of my body. When I was finally cleared to wear compression, my insurance company took over 2 months to get me my compression. It was about 4 months after surgery before I was able to wear compression that I should have been wearing a few weeks after surgery.
From that moment on, the swelling and fluid only got worse. My arms started really puffing up, I noticed some banding in my arms happening, my legs were getting bigger and bigger and my whole body felt full of fluid. I had to go see specialists, doctors, and have countless tests done. All the doctors kept telling me was that my body is not processing the fluid properly and it is holding onto fluid. So more/different compression was ordered, more massages, and appointments with specialists. I found that I was completely spiraling out of control and my mental health took a huge nosedive. I knew that I gained some weight, I knew my body was holding onto fluid, I knew I needed help…and it felt like nothing was working. So I turned to food again and again.
I talked to doctors about my weight gain, I was always open and honest with them, and for the most part, everything was handled respectfully. I never tried to hide that I had gained weight and always took full responsibility for that. As hard as it was, I knew being honest about gaining weight would help. I was told over and over again that the weight gain was adding to the issues with the swelling and fluid retention that my body was experiencing but it was not the only cause of it. I was told to try and lose weight and see how and how and if it would help. I was told over and over again that the number on the scale did not matter or show a true reflection because of the amount of fluid I had in my body. So after a while, I stopped weighing myself altogether. Skin removal surgery changed my life by getting rid of the excess skin- not only physically, but mentally too. I tried to keep reminding myself that these little setbacks with the fluid would eventually go away. I just needed to be patient.
I need help!
Then it happened. I finally woke up and realized I needed help. So I told my doctors…I need help. I told my family I need help. I broke down and could not keep all the years of pain inside anymore. I needed someone to help with the relationship I had with myself and with food. I could no longer suffer in silence anymore. My body was struggling, I was struggling and I needed help. So my doctor got me in touch with an eating disorder/body image specialist and I began seeing her once a week. We discovered that I had a binge eating disorder. I learned that food was my coping mechanism and that I also struggled with body dysmorphia. I was never able to fully see myself and my body other than that 500-pound girl. Seeing my body that was covered in loose skin, it was a constant reminder of what I had put myself through. I also learned I had a very unhealthy relationship with the scale and associated my success based on that number. I already knew this, but I am actually getting help this time so I can work on overcoming this. My therapist talked to me about how to overcome my eating disorder and told me she was there to help me change the relationship I had with myself and my body. I feel like I finally have someone who understands what I am going through and is there to help me.
The thing with eating disorder recovery is that you are not technically “allowed” to actively try to gain or lose weight. But here I was, needing to lose weight for my physical health (arm splitting open issues) and needing to recover from this eating disorder…so we made a plan together.
Something has to change
I was going to go through recovery AND actively try to lose weight. I knew that this was going to be a very tricky mountain to climb, but my therapist said we can do it. I decided to go back on my old eating plan, Jenny Craig, the one I used to lose over 300 pounds and that I was not to look at the scale. I could have my consultant at Jenny Craig weight me and record it, or have my fiancé Kevin record my weight, but for recovery purposes, I was not to look at a number. My therapist said she did not want me to associate how I felt about myself or base how the week went by what the number on the scale said. I was somewhat relieved because I was nowhere ready to stand on the scale and to see what that number was. So we agreed on this plan and I began to move forward. With weight loss and eating disorder recovery at the same time.
Moving forward: Losing weight and Eating Disorder Recovery
Some things did not feel right about starting this next chapter of weight loss. For example, I did not think I was on the right amount of calories, and by not looking at the scale I had no way to gauge if anything was “working”. It’s like I had to blindly trust what I was doing and hope for the best. As thankful I am to Kevin for weighing me, I feel he would never tell me, hey this isn’t working, so weeks went by where I felt something was off but never spoke up or said anything. But deep down inside, I had a feeling.
Well…fast forward to now and this is not working. Weighing myself and not looking was still giving me anxiety and I found myself getting angry because I did not know. I found that I was still having anxiety with getting on the scale, and having Kevin tell me, everything is all good, was annoying me more than helping. Then, I made a decision that changed everything. A few weeks ago I asked Kevin to tell me how much I lost in May, he reluctantly told me and it was much lower than I thought it should be. I was not ok with it at all.
I think I had a number in my head about the amount of weight I thought I should be losing and I had all of these expectations as to what was happening. So it was like someone punched me in the stomach when it was nowhere near where I thought it should be. So I thought, why am I even doing this. Standing on the scale and not knowing what is going on is only creating more problems, stress, and anxiety.
What I was doing wasn’t working
So, I decided to make some changes. Doing something over and over again when it is not working is driving me insane. Weighing myself once a week and not knowing the number or how much I lost was not working. Not taking full accountability and responsibility for exactly how much weight I did gain did not feel right. I know seeing and knowing that number is something I have to overcome. Looking at my weight is something I feel like I need to address so I can fully move forward. Putting a bandaid on the issue and pretending it not there is not helping me.
I decided to look at the number. I decided to address the elephant in the room and take accountability for myself. It was time to look myself in the eye, address the weight gain, and continue to move forward.
If I fully want to heal, to change my relationship with myself, with the scale and with my body, I have to address the weight gain. I have to look it in the eye so I can truly begin to heal.
I do not know if this is the best decision for me, I didn’t know how I would handle it, and I didn’t know if I was strong enough to see that number but I knew I had to do it.
Since the lowest weight in my weight loss journey in 2016, I have gained almost 100 pounds. When I saw that on the scale I fell over and lost it. I curled up into a little ball and just balled my eyes out. I felt sadness, anger, regret, and shame. I felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest. I felt like I have completely failed myself and everyone else. I felt as though I had hit a new all-time low. I found myself hating myself again. I laid on the floor for over an hour and just cried. Kevin tried to talk to me, and I couldn’t even hear anything he was saying. Honestly, at that point, there was nothing anyone could say that would have made me feel better.
Where do I go from here?
Well, that’s a good question. I know my weight now, I know how much I gained. I am working on coming to terms with it and not hating myself for it. I wish more than anything that I could go back in time and not gain any weight, to begin with. No joke if I had one wish, I would wish that I never allowed this to happen. Truth is, I am very ashamed, mad, and upset with myself. I am embarrassed and full of anger. I have moments where I feel like I hate myself. But what’s helping, is that no matter what there is a small part of me that completely 100% still loves me. I still feel it deep down inside that self-love I have. It might be burning softly, but it is still burning. I know more than ever, I need my own love right now.
What am I going to do now that I know how much I weight I gained?
I am going to keep loving myself. Keep taking it one day at a time. Keep working on me. Keep working on loving me. I will never EVER give up on myself. I will learn to let that anger and shame and embarrassment go. I will learn to allow myself to feel this sadness and anger and use that to help me heal. I know that I can and I will overcome this little setback and roadblock.
Part of me thinks in some twisted universe that I was always meant to gain some weight. That way it opened my eyes to everything I was still struggling with and keeping in. To open my eyes to the struggle I was still holding in. I needed to gain weight to learn about my eating disorder and get the proper help that I need. Maybe part of my journey was to gain weight, so I know what it truly feels like to love yourself no matter what. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise that is only going to help me live my best life possible. I think gaining weight opened my eyes to how I need to change, to focus on my mental health, to get the help I need, and to help others who feel the same shame and guilt that I feel to know we are not alone. We are not failures. We did not let anyone down. Maybe I needed to go through this to show that no matter what….we have the power to keep standing back up and to keep doing the next right thing. Even if I gained some weight, I never stopped trying, I never gave up, I have reached out to get the help I need and I never quit. Weight gain does not make me a failure. It does not mean I failed. It means I struggled with old habits and old ways. It means I am human. It means I fell down.
How do I keep moving forward?
Weight gain doesn’t define me, it doesn’t define who I am as a person, it doesn’t define my worth or my value or my beauty. I gained weight, but I am also learning to heal. My biggest fear when I was at my lowest point was weight gain. Guess what, it happened. But I think it will only make me stronger. I am facing my fear head-on, confronting this pain and still saying…I’ve got this. I am struggling, but I know I will overcome this. I know I will only come out of this stronger than I ever was before.
So yes, this sucks and I am really struggling with this, but I think everything happens for a reason and there is a lesson for me to learn here. It’s ok to mess up, to fall down, to make mistakes, and to need some help. I cannot keep my feelings and my struggle in. I have to let them out, release them, and move forward. I have to learn to love myself unconditionally no matter what. There are so many positives out of this situation that I need to focus on. Yes, the fluid is adding to the weight. Yes, I know that the number on the scale does not define me. I know I am not a failure because this happened. And honestly, gaining weight is not the worst thing that could have ever happened to me. Giving up, quitting, and not loving myself is the worst thing that could happen. I never let that happen. So in reality, yes I’m struggling and yes, I’m embarrassed and I feel ashamed and feel like I have let everyone down. I feel like I have let myself down. But this is a part of me. A part of my journey. This is part of my story, and my story is not over. It did not stop once I lost weight. My story will continue for the rest of my life. I will make more mistakes, I will fall again and I will have obstacles and challenges that I will have to overcome. That is ok. I know I am strong. I know I can do this. I know I will never ever give up. I know that no matter what, I will keep taking it one day and one step at a time.