I never wanted to have to write this post. In fact, I wasn’t going to write it. Even though I’m living it. But then I talked to Gym Buddy Allison and she gave me a reality check – in her gentle, totally rational way that I love her for – that life is messy and you guys don’t expect mine to be any less so. The problem started, as it so often does with me, with weighing myself.
I know. I can feel the eyes rolling and the hands being thrown up in the air. When will I learn?
But I was doing so good with all of it lately! I think it made me feel a little cocky? And I’ve taken to posting on my birthday about how my Great Intuitive Eating Experiment is going and to do that I need to weigh myself. I really really wanted to be able to post and tell you guys that I’m still within a pound of what I weighed two years ago and isn’t Intuitive Eating wonderful and unicorns and rainbows and pooping marshmallows and all that? This year I didn’t expect a huge shock – I had to weigh myself for the Lifetime Fitness testing two months ago so I figured I’d still be pretty close to that – but I was so shocked when I stepped on the scale I almost passed out.
It turns out I now weigh one pound less than I did right after Jelly Bean was born. Which means I’ve gained 15 pounds. I know that sounds insane – impossible, even. (To be totally honest, only about 10 of that was gained in the past two months I think). Allison’s immediate reaction to this news, as I imagine many of yours’ are as well, was to say “it must be muscle!” Some of it probably is. I’m certainly stronger now than when Jelly Bean was born and my body fat percentage is still pretty low. But I also took my measurements and those are all up. My pants are too tight. And the most damning evidence: when I asked my husband if he’d noticed that I’d gained weight, he didn’t answer at all. Which means that I have and he did notice. (Not that he cares. He adored me when I was 30 pounds heavier and 10 pounds lighter and everything in between.)
So now the problem is what to do with this information. Here are my options as I see them:
1. Just say screw it and try not to worry about the weight gain. Weights fluctuate like stock markets, it’ll even out right? And even if it doesn’t, I’m not supposed to care about this stuff anymore! I’m so progressed and liberated and happy with myself and all that! (Well I was, anyhow.) Plus, my weight is still within the healthy range and I eat well and get plenty of exercise so who cares about a stupid number?
2. Try and be reasonable and take an honest look at my life to see if this is my body’s way of telling me that I haven’t been treating it well lately and it needs something different than what I’ve been giving it. Intuitive Eating, at its core, is all about listening to your body and figuring out what it needs so this is my chance to really dig back into it again.
3. Go freaking crazy and lose the weight by any means possible.
Of course you know I want to do #3. I’d be lying if I said this stupid weight gain wasn’t on my mind 24/7 now. (Happy Birthday to me!) But I’m not going to. I know where that road ends and it’s nowhere I want to be. (See? I haven’t lost all ground!) Plus, aging seems to have mellowed me some. While I’m still upset about it, I just don’t have it in me to go into super crazy mode anymore. I just don’t. Unfortunately I don’t think I can do #1 either. I’d like to say I’m totally on the love train with myself but that’s not me either. So #2 it is! Rationality for the win!
The second thing Allison said was “Are you on your period?” I am, actually. (TMI? Have you met me??) So yes, hormones could definitely be a factor. After reviewing the past few months, here’s what I’ve come up with:
- Hormones. Not only am surfing the crimson tide (want another euphemism? I got a million of them!) but it’s my first real cycle since getting off the Mirena IUD several months ago. (Sidenote: that is going really well still! Not having the brain fog anymore is like the best gift ever!!) So yeah, I’m probably bloated.
- Too much exercise. I already ‘fessed up to doing too many workouts lately. And even though this time it’s coming from a happy place (I’m having so! much! fun!!) rather than a compulsive, punishing place, it’s still too much exercise. And all that extra exercise makes me hungry. And not hungry for salmon and salad but hungry for gummy bears. Lots of these new workouts have been intense sugar-burning kind of workouts so it makes sense I guess.
- Too little sleep. The link between sleep and weight has been firmly established. As has the fact that I’ve been burning the candle at both ends. For a couple of months I’ve been so drowned in work (good problems, I know!) that I’ve been staying up until the wee hours to finish it. 2 a.m. is routine for me these days.
After writing out the three things above it seems pretty clear to me now that chronic exhaustion has probably played a big part in this. Not only am I tired and overworked (both physically and mentally) but being this stressed means that my house doesn’t get cleaned, my groceries don’t get bought, and my sheets don’t get changed. (Okay that last one really doesn’t have anything to do with food – I’m just super picky about my bed sheets and it drives me bonkers when they’re not fresh.) When I don’t have the time, dishes or groceries to eat healthfully that means I eat handfuls of whatever is convenient – like nuts, jerky and fruit (yay!). But also like pretzels, chocolate chips and cheese sticks – which would be fine if I was eating them because I really wanted them and was enjoying them but most of the time I don’t even realize I have eaten them until I see the crumbs on my keyboard.
Here’s my game plan (because I’m full of bulleted lists tonight):
- Stick to my one-hour/one workout a day schedule no matter what. Even if that means skipping some workouts I love. Even if that means disappointing some people I love.
- Make my 11 o’clock bedtime a rule, not a suggestion.
- No more eating at the computer. (Ignore my own advice, much?)
- Quit some stuff. Good golly this one is hard for a type A like me. I’m still so new in my fledgling writing career that I’m terrified that if I turn any opportunity down I’ll never get another one again. And yet I just had a chat with my editor at Redbook and we agreed that I will drop from 4 posts/week to just 1. It felt SO GOOD to let something go, even just a little bit. Progress, yay!
I’m hoping this will be enough to reverse the weight gain. I simply can’t go back to counting calories and wearing my heart rate monitor to bed and all of that – it made me crazy but even worse is it consumed my life. I have too much in my life that I love right now to let the numbers take over again.
Oh you guys. I’m glad you can’t see me right now (and no it has nothing to do with my thighs) because I’m just bawling. This whole thing – the weight gain, my reaction to it, my inability to manage it, even my house being a total disaster – feels like total failure to me. honestly it feels like I’m right back where I was three years ago and that was not a happy place. I really wanted to be the perfect Intuitive Eating success story. I wanted to prove everyone wrong who said that it wasn’t possible to lose weight and maintain that loss while still maintaining a happy relationship with food and my body. And it really did work – for a while! But I’m not perfect. Especially not at this.
What do I do?! Any advice for me? Have you ever been in a place where you gained a lot of weight suddenly (and weren’t preggo)? How did you lose it? (Wow, did I just ask the #2 most-asked question on the Internet?? #1 of course being “Does Justin Beiber style his hair in a wind tunnel?”) Anyone just want to slap me and tell me to get over myself already??