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What it's Like to Want to Gain Weight, Not Lose Weight

The beginning of every new year marks the height of diet culture and whipping your body into shape. Although it doesn’t hurt to want to eat healthier and start working out regularly, the way in which social media makes it seem as if you have to change your whole lifestyle just because everyone else is, can become problematic. It is difficult to ignore the success stories of individuals who managed to drop twenty pounds or became their leanest selves when, personally, that is not what your body needs at the moment. 

Growing up, I had always been known as the tall, blonde, skinny girl who could eat as much as she wanted without gaining a single pound. I maintained the same weight all throughout highschool until I lost a large amount of weight due to my lifestyle changes. I was at a significantly low weight for what I should have been as a 5’9” female. The summer before I left for college was when I decided to start my “health kick” and completely alter my lifestyle to what I thought was healthy. I had already adopted a Vegetarian lifestyle two years prior, but now I wanted to cut out dairy and start working out daily. I do not recall there being any particular reason for which I wanted to make these changes. I simply wanted to start doing what I thought was best for my health and my body. From that moment on, I became fitness-obsessed and started to adopt unhealthy eating habits. 

After long talks with my mom, meeting with a registered dietitian, and conducting regular check-ups with health services at my college, I realized it was time for my habits to change before my body decided to start shutting down on me. Although there was no one quick fix, it was a journey I was willing to start in order to truly be the best version of myself, both mentally and physically. I had to first come to terms with the fact that the number on the scale would be going up and my body would begin to change, but that is what it needed. I was also worried about how I would go about gaining weight because I did not want to stuff my face with baked goods and processed foods every day, but fuel my body with the most whole and nutritious options. That is where meeting with a registered dietitian proved helpful. She suggested a variety of ways in which I could add more healthy fats and whole grains to my meals, as well as snacks to eat in between meal times. These simple, yet effective changes, were much easier than significantly increasing my portion sizes or eating until I was uncomfortably full. It is still a work in progress, but I am slowly relearning how to truly honor and listen to my hunger cues.

However, gaining weight did not only mean eating in a caloric surplus or consuming more calorie-dense foods; it meant changing my workouts at the gym. I did not realize that the majority of my daily workouts were high-intensity and cardio-based, which was a large contributing factor of my weight loss. I had not stepped on a scale for almost a year, so I never realized my drastic change in weight. Therefore, I decided to step off the stairmaster and go to the weights section instead. Don’t get me wrong, at first it was intimidating to workout alongside a bunch of guys who were lifting twice my weight, but I did not let it stop me. It may have gone easier in the beginning if I had a trainer or someone who could have guided me through the equipment, but the more I did it, the easier it got. Now that I was well into my new gym routine and working on eating in a caloric surplus, I was more confident in the fact that I would begin to gain weight in a more effective and sustainable way. 

Now you might be wondering, why did I decide to share with you a glimpse into what I have been going through the past two years? It is easy to get discouraged and compare yourself to those around you who are doing their own thing and may have a different set of goals in mind; this is something I continue to struggle with every day. I have to constantly remind myself to stay in my own lane and ignore what everyone else is doing. I see those around me who are proud of restricting themselves from their favorite foods or celebrating their one month mark on a new diet, which makes it difficult for me not to do the same. It is not my intention to shame anyone for starting a weight-loss or fitness journey, but I had to come to terms with the fact that is not what my mind and body needs right now, and I am okay with that. 

There is so much more I could say about this topic, but choose not to at the moment. I wish you all the best on your health and fitness journey’s, whether you are trying to lose or gain weight. Remember, do your own thing and do not let those around you deviate you from what you know is best for you. xoxo