Culturally, we think of weight gain as a big ol’ failure.
We think something must be wrong if we gain weight. How did we let this happen? How are we going to quickly reverse it before anyone notices?
I wrote a post for Ravishly that got picked up on the Huffington Post called What Weight Gain Really Means. And … spoiler alert, what it really means is nothing. Nothing. It means you gained weight. That’s all. And it can happen for a variety of very normal, human, biological, emotional, and healthy reasons.
I also recently wrote a post on my site called You Literally Can’t Eat Too Much, where I said that I had gotten to a place where I couldn’t eat too much food and that my body was just staying the same weight, which it was. For a year I ate and ate and ate and didn’t gain a pound. I was amazed at the weight regulatory mechanism that had finally seemed to kick into place once I actually healed my metabolism from the diet/binge cycle.
Right around the time I wrote that article though, I gained some weight. Hello, irony!
I can still wear my clothes, but some are snug. And it’s enough that people have stopped saying “Woa you look so great! And tiny! What are you doing these days and how can I do it!!?” To which my awkward response was, “Uh, actually I … am an anti-diet writer and I believe in letting your body eat whatever it wants and that will heal your”- at which point they stopped listening or believing me.
It was a weird place to be in, thinner than I almost ever was, but being a body positive, anti-diet, Health at Every Size and fat activist. I felt uncomfortable with it. Half loving that my strange genetic metabolic composition allowed me to be a sneaky voice for the cause, and also half insecure that my fatter followers (fat is not a bad word!) would stop listening because some probably felt I couldn’t possibly understand the prejudice they faced on a daily basis.
So you know why I gained weight?
I think it was a combination of two things: giving up caffeine and getting over a heartbreak.
Giving up caffeine.
Actually, I had a cup of half-caff coffee this morning because I went to an awards show last night and had more alcohol and less sleep than anyone should ever have. But now even just a bit of caffeine makes me feel a little crazy. And most days I drink a decaf.
After 6 years of true caffeine devotion, mornings that went by in a buzzy haze, and having “coffee” consistently on my little gratitude lists of “my favorite things in life”, I decided Okayyyyyy, Fine. I will do what I never thought I would do …I am ready to give up the mania. (Plus my acupuncturist told me my energy felt nuts almost every time I went in, and I intuitively knew what that meant for me: caffeine. Blah!)
The process of giving it up actually really sucked. So I am not saying “You must give up caffeine”! I only did it because it felt right —even though it also felt horrible. I had tried giving it up a few years back when I went on the Fuck It Diet originally, but ultimately decided I was dealing with too much change and misery already, so I decided to add it back in.
But this time I actually did it (except for today of course but that is because rules are made to be broken!!!). I decided, Hey, I’m just ready to feel calmer. I’m gonna commit to being lethargic and slow and boring if need be. And so I was tired and unmotivated and not quite right for a few months.
And, I gained weight.
I gained weight because I essentially gave up a drug. I gained weight by doing something that made me a bit calmer and healthier.
Last year around this time my heart BaROKE. Like, never have I ever experienced the emotional, spiritual, physical ramifications of true inexplicable, soul heartbreak. And when it happened I lost some weight. And I didn’t really put it together until now, but that was the catalyst for my tinier year. That was when I got really small no matter what I ate and people started commenting.
And it took a really long time. And slowly but surely the heartbreak healed. And it took almost year. And right around that time that I quit caffeine, I started feeling healed and back to normal.
And voila, my weight is probably back to where it was before the heartbreak.
You see what this means, right?
Skinny isn’t necessarily healthy or happy. And for me, it was actually two unhealthy, taxing states that my body was experiencing that correlated with the lower weight. The world assumed I was at my healthiest in a time of true internal imbalance.
Low weight is actually often a sign of sickness, misery, and feebleness. Not always, of course, but our societal glorification of it is really skewed.
Healing my emotional self and supporting my physical self are the things that added back on weight, which means that for me (and you) weight is a sign of health, happiness, and healing.
But I know for a fact that if I had not committed to this journey a few years back, this weight gain would have been met with fear, insecurity, worry, dieting, fixation, mumus, and running that I didn’t want to do. It would have just continued that pointless gain/repent cycle.
Instead, I have the chance to gain weight and practice what I preach. To embrace it. To trust that nothing is wrong. To listen even closer to what my body and intuition are saying. And to continue to use my body as a way to enjoy this life, and use it as an instrument to get messages like this one out.
Be a Body Rebel. Take Up Space. Fuck It.