Fear of Weight Gain: When Push Comes to Shove in Recovery

The past couple of months have been easy.
Too easy.
I’ve been eating intuitively, no restrictions…but I wasn’t gaining weight.
And, for a bit here, I genuinely thought maybe my body was just going to stabilize at this lower-than-last-time weight. (And, of course, my eating disorder screamed “maybe if you lose even more, your body will stabilize even lower…”)

And then it happened.
1 pound.
“It’s just water,” I told myself. Fluctuations are totally normal. It’ll probably go away again.
But, it didn’t. Instead, the scale went up a second pound.
And, I panicked.
Why was it so sudden? So much so suddenly? What am I doing wrong?

And there it is: Weight Gain = I’m Doing Something Wrong (Bad); Not Gaining Weight/Losing Weight = I’m Doing Something Right…something good. Admirable.
The core belief.
And, unfortunately, it’s a core belief fueled by a whole lot of reality.

People look up to me because I’ve lost weight. They comment on it, ask for advice, want to follow in my footsteps. It used to be a badge I wore with pride; now, it’s a pain point.

What am I supposed to say? “Thanks! I starved myself!”
Awkward silence.

I hate that I “have to” say “Thanks” at all.
I don’t want to say thanks.
I don’t feel pride; I feel shame.
I feel fear.
The same fear I feel right now, seeing the scale moving up. “In the wrong direction.”
Because weight gain is wrong, and weight loss is right.
Right?

I got cocky. I thought I was “fully recovered,” but I’m not. I’m at a crossroads.
I’m gaining weight, and I have a choice to make — because recovery is all about choices.
I can restrict and try to keep from gaining or even try to lose weight.
Or
I can eat without restriction even if it means gaining weight.

I don’t know if my fear of weight gain will EVER go away. Honestly, I don’t think it will. I’ve never ever been in a place where I didn’t fear weight gain. And, if I can’t change that — the only thing I CAN control is what I do with it and whether I let it control my life.

To be honest, right now, I don’t feel strong enough to face weight gain and not restrict. So, for me, who wants to stubbornly choose recovery — that leaves one choice:

Don’t look.

Don’t look at the scale, don’t face the weight gain. Just eat and don’t look.
And, holy crap, that is the most terrifying thought… which is how I know I have to do it.

Ugh.
Even writing this, I am nauseated with fear.
But my daughter is playing in the next room, my son is sleeping in his crib, and we’re celebrating my husband’s birthday today with cake and burgers, and I want to recover so that I’m REALLY there, participating.

So, I know I have to do this.
Be afraid, feel sick, tremble…and choose recovery anyways.

Goodbye, scale. I choose life.

Choosing Recovery: The Easiest Hard Decision I’ll Ever Make

Yesterday, I made the decision to once again stop tracking my calories and weighing myself for at least the month of February. For the past 4 months, I have been inching my way back towards this leap with my dietician — increasing my calories very slowly, and only moderately successfully. I was due for another increase yesterday, but I wasn’t even consistently hitting the previous increase. I also had my first ever doctor’s appointment where I actually told the doctor about my diagnosis (OSFED – atypical anorexia subtype, in case you were curious – meaning having lost a significant amount of weight due to obsessive caloric restriction but not yet being classified as having a medically underweight BMI). And something hit me…

It wasn’t that long ago that doctors were calling me an athlete; now, they are calling me anorexic. And, I had the thought: what do I want to be called? Anorexic or an Athlete?

I was so proud the first time someone referred to me as an athlete. It’s not a title I ever thought I’d carry. Athleticism was not a part of my personality! Athlete means dedication, focus, commitment, discipline – it means all the good qualities I want to have. 100% I want to be called an athlete again.

But, if I’m honest, there’s also a part of me that wanted to be called anorexic. But, really, what I think that part wanted was for it to be obvious that I was in pain. Anorexic means “I’m not ok, and I need help.” Anorexia communicates that when I feel like I can’t.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few days telling this part of myself that giving up anorexia doesn’t mean that I can’t communicate my pain. And, in fact, giving up anorexia is likely to mean stronger pain, not less of it — because it means giving up the thing I was using to self-soothe and numb that pain.

A few people in my support groups have asked me “how? How did you make this decision? How did you get to this point?” Even I was asking myself if I’d find this point again…just this weekend, I was asking it. Well, a few things…

First, I have the benefit this time of already knowing that intuitive eating works well for me and that there are very good things on the other side of eating disorder recovery. I’m not nearly as scared this time around, because I’ve done it before.

Second, I have been so overwhelmed and stressed lately — daycare closed due to a COVID outbreak there, and I had to work full-time while caring for my two young children.

The eating disorder adds so much stress and pain on top of all of this other stress and pain. In a moment of clarity, I had to genuinely ask myself why I wasn’t choosing to take control over the one thing I could actually change to make things better?

For months, coming to this decision has felt like the hardest thing. But, in the end, it is really pretty easy. You really do…just do it. And anorexics are stubborn, strong-willed people. When we put our mind to something, we do it. 100%.

I don’t know what exactly will happen now. Though I’m not clinically underweight, I’ll still probably gain some weight, and that might suck. Hopefully, the people who matter to me won’t care about that. Hopefully, I won’t care about that too much.

I’ll try to document it some on here — this starting over again journey back to intuitive eating. I’m only a day and a half in, and I can already tell you that it is both immediately freeing and frightening. But, mostly freeing. And already worth it.

Macro Tracking, Veganism, Keto, Gluten-Free: An Eating Disorder’s Best Weapons

Recently, I’ve been running into quite a few social media posts from influencers in the weightloss community getting really pissed off by people implying that things like tracking macros, veganism, etc. are signs of an eating disorder or are disordered eating behaviors. The general response seems to be “plenty of people do these things and do not have eating disorders!” And, this is absolutely true. However, I feel the actual (and very important) message is getting lost:

Macro tracking, veganism, keto, etc. are not eating disorders; however, if you have an eating disorder, it could very well use these socially acceptable diet restrictions as weapons against you.

What a lot of people seem to forget is that an eating disorder is a mental disorder — it is not just a set of behaviors. It’s a bit like alcoholism: drinking socially is not alcoholism; but, if you are an alcoholic, your alcoholism will absolutely try to use social drinking as a weapon against you to get you back to or deeper into your addiction. “Everyone else is drinking; it would be awkward if you weren’t! It’s fine! You’re fine!”

Similarly, tracking macros or going vegan isn’t an eating disorder; but, if you have an eating disorder (or are prone to developing one), it can absolutely use socially acceptable restrictions to keep you in or get you further into your addiction (because, let’s face it, eating disorders are basically addictions). “You’re going vegan because you care about animal welfare! It has nothing to do with losing weight or avoiding fear foods! TONS of people are vegan or tracking macros or keto or…(the list goes on). It’s totally fine! You’re fine!”

And, many people may not even know that that addictive part of their brains is there: be that a part of their brains that has increased potential to be addicted to alcohol or to restricting calories, militant eating rules, tracking, purging, binging, etc. Or…to all of the above.

Up to 50% of individuals with eating disorders abused alcohol or illicit drugs, a rate five times higher than the general population. Up to 35% of individuals who abused or were dependent on alcohol or other drugs have also had eating disorders, a rate 11 times greater than the general population.

-National Eating Disorders Association

And, as I’ve shared before, if you’re prone to “food addiction,” chances are, you could be prone to other forms of food-related addiction. It just makes sense: if you’re used to turning to food to numb emotions, it makes sense that you could also become addicted to turning to restriction, food rules, purging, or even substance-consumption behaviors to numb, escape, and ignore emotions in the future.

Story time…

In 2014, I made the decision to become vegetarian. I was not in an active eating disorder at the time (I did not know I had an addiction-prone part of my brain back then). My choice had nothing to do with weight loss and everything to do with my moral beliefs. I knew I wanted to try veganism eventually, but I wanted to take it one step at a time and try vegetarianism first. At the time, I was also tracking my macros on MyFitnessPal as I had been doing for many years without it ever hindering my quality of life.

A couple of months later, triggered by an abusive relationship with my therapist, I fell into my eating disorder HARD. It had nothing to do with being vegetarian. Being vegetarian did not lead me to my eating disorder, but once that addictive part of my brain activated, it began looking for any and every excuse to get me to eat less and dive deeper into the addiction.

“I can’t eat meat” was a convenient excuse to skip out on the foods my family was eating or skip homemade meals when we visited relatives. Nobody could get mad at me for being vegetarian. Nobody could politely push me to break my moral code. “You should go vegan,” that little voice in my brain kept saying. “You wanted to go vegan for animal rights reasons! Look at you eating that food that hurts animals! Think of all of the animals you are hurting. Think of how much of a hypocrite you are being. You’ve SEEN the documentaries. How can you still eat that? You’re disgusting.”

So, I went vegan. The list of foods I could eat shrank exponentially. Thanksgiving came, and I conveniently couldn’t eat a single thing my husband’s family cooked because of one ingredient or another. Again, nobody could politely push me on this — it was my moral code to not eat animal products! Veganism is completely acceptable! We went on a family vacation with my inlaws, and I conveniently couldn’t eat anything on any restaurant menu except maybe a dressing-free vegetable-only salad. Moreover, I was tracking my macros, so I HAD to know the nutrition information for everything I ate. So, once again, I conveniently “couldn’t eat” food I didn’t cook or that didn’t come out of a package with nutrition information.

No holiday meals, no dinners at our parents houses, no eating out, no dates with my husband – “You can’t eat that!” was screamed in my head all. the. time. And “because it’s not vegan” or “because you don’t know the macros” was a convenient excuse and my eating disorder’s favorite weapon against me. My eating disorder used these socially acceptable dietary limitations to evoke FEAR and SHAME and keep me in the disorder.

And my story is not unique. Anyone who is a member of the eating disorder or recovery community can tell you — it is FULL of vegans, macro trackers, people who may or may not have to be gluten-free for clinical reasons… pretty much anything that can be used to control food, an eating disorder will use to keep you in the disorder.

Once again, that is not to say that veganism, tracking, being gluten-free, etc. are eating disorders; they are not. But, many people may not be aware of that addictive, eating disorder-prone part of their brain lying dormant…and, so it is so important to warn those entering these lifestyles that they are things that, should you have an addictive, obsessive part of your brain somewhere in there…veganism, tracking, etc. very well could turn into an eating disorder’s greatest weapon. And, what makes it so much more dangerous is that others may not see the red flags — they will take “I can’t eat that because I’m vegan” at face value without confronting you like they might if you were to admit to not eating, period….never realizing that it’s a weapon in an eating disorder’s arsenal.

Reflections on Losing 100 Pounds: What “After” Me Would Say to “Before” Me

If I could go back in time … go back to Before and talk to my young-20s self who was only a couple of years into her weight-loss journey, what would I tell her? What advice might I give this version of myself who was finally stepping into her life and learning to live out loud?

The first piece of advice I would give myself is to get into therapy.

You have been through trauma, and it is influencing you in ways you can’t see. You may not even be ready to call it trauma, but it is.

You need to learn to deal with these things instead of shoving them into a box in the back of your mind as if they will just disappear or stay out of sight, out of mind. Because, that box will never contain them. And, they won’t go away. Not with losing weight, not with binging or stopping binging, not with exercise, finding a new partner…not even with therapy. But, at least with therapy, you won’t be holding them alone.

cir. 2011

Next, I would tell myself to talk to a dietician. Not just any dietician, but one who specializes in eating disorders. Because, news flash young self, you have an eating disorder.

Not “you’ll develop one,” but you HAVE one. You’ve had one for a long time. And, while Weight Watchers has taught you how to control and track portions, you are doing absolutely nothing to get to the root of your already-decade-long eating disorder. And, if you don’t address anything but the manual steps to losing weight, you’re going to come out this on the other side just as unhealthy as you went in.

Then, I would tell her…find something, anything that is not weight- or diet-related, to be passionate about and then fully invest yourself in that thing. Nurture the ever-loving-sh*t out of that passion.

Knowing me, I’d say…ride horses. Ride ALL the horses. Learn to canter and jump and ride bareback – who cares that you’re still in a bigger body? Do it anyways! Find a way. Set aside money to make it something you do every single week. Make it a priority.

When you are sad, ride a horse; when you are angry, ride a horse; when you are happy, ride a horse; when you have overwhelming feelings in every direction and don’t know what to do, ride a horse… if you can’t afford to ride, find some way to be with horses… or walk dogs or paint or sing or maybe even learn to dance. ANYthing but starting a new diet.

One day, this journey will be over — the journey of weight loss. One day, you will be at After. And what will you do then? What will be your passion then?

Find it now. Nurture it now. Do it now so that when “after” gets here, you are not left without a life outside of weight loss to which to turn.

Which leads me to…this: don’t ever let your world shrink around any one thing.

Nothing is permanent.

I know it is your most desperate wish that something or someone will come into your life with a promise of forever that you can actually believe in, but start grieving now, because that doesn’t exist.

And if something or someone starts promising you otherwise, run as fast and far away as you can. Don’t cling to it in desperation for the false promise to be true.

The only constant is change.

Your body will change, the number on the scale will change, the people in your life will change, your life situation will change, everything will change. Forever and always. And no matter how hard you try to make that not happen — no matter how hard you try to control or avoid change, it will come just the same.

There is very little in life that you can actually control, and that is scary as fuck.

So, gather your resources. Build a team of support around you…a life full of support and passion.

That’s what I’d tell my young self. And I’d hope to god that I’d listen.

Weight Loss Addiction

I wake up in the morning, use the restroom, and then slip out of my pajamas while analyzing every inch of my body in the mirror.

Do I look bloated today? Is my stomach sticking out further than yesterday? When’s the last time I had a bowel movement? (You’re welcome for that TMI.)

I step on the scale while holding my breath. I analyze everything I’ve eaten in the last 24 hours. Did some choice I made yesterday mean the scale will be higher today? The what-ifs start: What if I’d just foregone ONE snack, eaten 100 calories less, if I’d JUST skipped the chocolate…

The number comes up. It’s a loss!

I feel an immediate rush of pleasure: yes, yes, yes! I did it! It feels so good!

Do you know that feeling?

How long does it last for you?

It used to last me a while — a week, days, at least that one whole day. A 0.2 or half-pound loss would still give me a little dopamine spike for a bit.

Now, it lasts mere seconds, and only if I drop down to at least the next pound lower. I can maybe drag it out by posting about it somewhere, writing it down, recording it. But never for more than a few extra seconds.

Then, I am craving the next hit. I am thinking about the day to come. I am making food plans, figuring out how best to avoid food situations, re-analyzing yesterday’s choices for what I could’ve done better to get a bigger loss… a bigger hit.

It’s an addiction. And, I don’t know when it became this.

The truth of the matter is, I’m pretty OK with the way my body looks right now. I’m 134 pounds, 5’6”, I lift weights, so I have some muscle definition — yes, I have loose skin, but I’m healthy. I’m average. (That’s frightening in and of itself, but that’s another post for another day.) So, if I’m OK with my body, why do I want to keep losing weight?

This is not something I was ever warned about when I began my weight loss journey. And, maybe it’s not an issue for everyone, but it makes sense that it is for me. I used to use food to get that dopamine rush. Nothing made me feel as (temporarily) “good” (or, at least numb) as a binge. And, over time, I had to eat more and more to get those feelings, which also lasted less time. I wish I had considered that the same might be true for weight loss.

I don’t know how to end this blog because, right now, I’m stuck in this addiction. I can only say, if I did it all again, I would focus more on nurturing the other things in my life so that my world didn’t shrink around any one thing: food, weight loss, exercise, a person… anything can be addictive. And, since I think I’m probably hardwired to be prone to obsession, I would and will focus more on being flexible in any area of my life where I begin to become rigid.

I know I needed to lose weight at one point in my life, but I wish I’d had a better picture of the long game.

Owning My Eating Disorder

First of all, I just want to thank everyone who commented and offered support on my last post. It’s amazing to me that I still have readers out there even though I am not very active on this blog (or my YouTube channel) anymore. Your reading & your comments mean so much to me. Thank you.

After my last post, I finally reached out to my dietician to ask for help. She’s an eating disorder specialist and an intuitive eating dietician, and she has been my voice of reason in the past (and again now) when I couldn’t necessarily trust my own internal dialogue. I’m working with both her and my therapist to slowly climb my way back out of this relapse, and I’m already feeling a little better than I was a few weeks ago: more energy, less depression, clearer mind. I’ve also been attending some virtual eating disorder support groups, which first pissed me off (because the people there were just so POSITIVE and “recovery” when I felt so negative and unwilling to let go of what I was doing), but are now really helping.

One of the toughest thoughts I find myself grappling with is whether or not my eating disorder is real.

Let me back up for a second and explain that, for me, it makes the most sense to characterize my eating disorder thoughts as a separate voice inside my head that intrudes without my being able to stop it. It often sounds like this:

I’m in the kitchen making myself a tuna sandwich. I suddenly think “hmm…cheese would be good on this…remember when you used to have those amazing tuna melts in college?”

ED voice: NO! Cheese will add 120 calories! You’ll go over your calories! It’s too much! You’ve already added mayo! How many calories even is this meal?! You’re probably way over already!

I will be flooded with physical panic and fear. I do not eat the cheese. The ED voice wins this round.

The ED voice tells me a lot of things to keep me compliant, and one of those things is that the eating disorder itself is not real. That, if I go a day eating more calories than the ED wants or if I don’t track my calories for a day, that means the eating disorder isn’t real and that I’ve been using it as an excuse for attention. Which is gross and disgusting and bad bad bad. The only way to rectify? To restrict lower, harder, lose more weight. To prove it is real. And then, then maybe I will be worthy of care and of food.

It’s tricky, this ED voice. And, the deeper I am into the behaviors (restriction), the harder it is to even distinguish this voice from my own.

But, it’s there. And, I’m realizing, the fact that it’s yelling at me that it doesn’t exist is proof enough that it does. That I DO have an eating disorder. It’s the very thing yelling at me while I don’t eat the cheese. It’s controlling that action.

I’m now grappling with a couple of questions and feelings about these questions:

  1. Does having an eating disorder mean I can never diet again?
  2. Why is it seemingly OK for others to diet (or eat X number of calories, or track calories, or whatever action) but not me?

The conclusions I’ve come to? Because I have an addiction.

I am addicted to my eating disorder.

I get a dopamine rush whenever I see the scale drop. Whenever I close out my day at a certain number of calories. Whenever I give in to the ED voice in my head — I get a dopamine rush — and it gets harder and harder to get/hold onto that feeling, so I end up needing more and more to get there (restrict lower, etc.).

I have an eating disorder, and so, no, I genuinely don’t think I can safely “diet” (restrict calories) even a little bit. A little restriction inevitably leads to a relapse.

I have an eating disorder (addiction), so I have to stay away from things like calorie tracking, 100%, because even a little bit of it inevitably leads to a relapse.

And this makes me angry. It feels unfair. And the ED voice in my head, of course, screams at me that I’m using the eating disorder as an excuse to “stay fat” and eat unrestricted. (The ED voice says that I am not worthy of eating unrestricted because I don’t have an eating disorder/I am not thin enough.)

Tangled web, huh? The eating disorder telling me it doesn’t exist, so I should listen to it… lots of logic there.

In any case, I am growing more practiced right now with owning this and trying not to be too ashamed…because, yeah, there’s a lot of shame that comes up when I say “I have an eating disorder.” Shame and an instantaneous disbelief in the thing I am saying.

Me: I have an eating disorder.

ED voice: no you don’t! Stop making things up for attention! …..

Me: if you don’t exist, then how are you even talking to me?

Right, so…

Hi, my name is Lisa, and I have an eating disorder.

What Do You Do When Numbing is Off the Table?

I often look back on my past selves and think “what the hell happened?”

What happened to make me gain so much weight?

What happened to make me lose so much weight?

Why did I continually eat until I was in physical pain?

Why did I continually starve until I couldn’t go on a simple walk?

When I think back to all of these times in my life, I’ve realized that they were all times of trauma. Often, extended trauma – not one-time events.

I had heard of emotional eating, and I knew that it was something I used to do. (Something I labeled as “BAD!”) But, I had never heard of “emotional restriction.” I had never considered that one might turn to restriction in the same way one might turn to a pint of ice cream for comfort. But, when I think about it now, it makes perfect sense.

When food is the first place you turn in every crisis you’ve experienced your entire life, it makes perfect sense that restricting food could become the place you turn.

I didn’t recognize this pattern in myself until very recently. But, looking back, even before the restrictive eating disorder, starting a “new diet” always brought up a bit of a rush — a sense of hope, new beginnings, and accomplishment. The promise of approval and love in times when I felt unlovable and unworthy.

I bring this up now, because I have spent the last 6 weeks in the worst restrictive relapse since I began recovering from my eating disorder. I’m telling you this because I always want to be honest about my weight loss. And, honestly, because I know my friends and family read this blog…and I need you to not complement me on my weight loss if you see me over the holidays & happen to notice. I need you to know that I did not lose this weight healthily — I lost it because I’ve been trying to numb myself and cope after dealing with a trauma.

Those close to me will know what happened. I don’t want to go into intimate details here, but to avoid speculation, I will say that it had to do with finding out someone close to me was actually a sociopath & reporting that person for abuse, which has been a year-long process that has finally concluded.

What I do want to talk about — even solicit from those who might still read this blog — are other ways to cope with trauma and overwhelming feelings when you’ve spent your entire life turning to either food or restriction to deal with these things.

What do you do? What do you do when you are so overwhelmed by feelings that it is intolerable? What do you do when you cannot wrap your mind around something traumatic that has happened? How do you cope?

I can’t turn to cake… and I can’t turn to starvation. What do you do when numbing is off the table?

Perhaps the answer is right in front of me — I do this.

I write a blog.

Intuitive Eating Through My Second Pregnancy After Weight Loss

Hi everyone! I’m sorry for keeping you waiting. Life has been hectic since COVID, pregnancy, and, now, a second kiddo! But, I wanted to make sure that I came back to update you all on how my second pregnancy and first couple of postpartum months have gone.

When I last left you, I was 18 weeks pregnant with baby Michael, had gained about 9 pounds, and was still exercising 5 days a week. Here’s a comparison of how I looked at this point with Michael vs. with my first kiddo, Emma.

To be honest, early on, I felt like I looked pretty similar to how I had with Emma. However, as time went on, I definitely noticed I was bigger this time around than I had been the first time.

For example…

In case you couldn’t tell…the left picture is my second pregnancy (Michael) while the right picture is my first pregnancy (Emma).

On the day I went into labor, I was something like 173 pounds, meaning I gained 33 pounds this pregnancy…almost exactly what I gained with Emma!

This pregnancy was different in so many ways, though. I exercised up until about 30 weeks, and then I did stop exercising (minus chasing my first kiddo around) when the pressure of the pandemic, parenting at home while working full-time, pregnancy, and the loss of my beloved cat finally caught up with me. Still, I ate intuitively this entire pregnancy — even when the weight gain and larger stomach scared me. To be honest, I’m 6.5 weeks postpartum, and besides walking a couple of miles most days, I haven’t started exercising “for real” again yet.

I ate freely and kind of a LOT this time around, whereas, last time, I tracked my calories religiously and only ate 2,000 calories in my 3rd trimester (ha! 2,000 calories would now be restrictive for me).

Last time, after I had Emma, I lost 10 pounds after she was born and maintained a weight of 147-150 for 6 months; this time, I quickly and, without effort, lost about 18 pounds. I currently weight about 155 pounds. Apparently, my body is pretty consistent, haha.

Here I am yoga-ing with my daughter while wearing my son!

To be honest, right now, I have absolutely zero desire to diet or strenuously work out. Probably because most days, I end the day looking something like this:

I’m tired! My husband and I are BOTH tired…pretty much all of the time.

Our 4-year-old daughter is having a tough time adjusting right now, so all of my energy is exhausted trying to be present for her while also taking care of the baby and house. (Did I mention our indoor-only cats somehow got fleas? Yeah. So, I clean the house kind of a lot right now.)

The good news is that, mental health wise, I am doing 1 million percent better this time around than I did last time. I will do a separate blog on that at a later time, I promise.

Until then, I’m living life in a size-bigger pants and still eating the cake. Because life’s too short to worry about being a little squishy!

Til next time 🙂 Stay safe!

Obligatory Baby Photo!

My Second Pregnancy Journey: Pregnancy After Weight Loss, Eating Disorder Recovery, and Finding Intuitive Eating

Ok, ok, I won’t put it off any longer: yes, readers, I am officially pregnant (actually, 18 weeks pregnant) with baby #2 — Michael! Due June 20, 2020!

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As with my last pregnancy, I really want to document this journey, because there are so few illustrations of how a body might change during (and after) pregnancy after major weight loss and, this time, after eating disorder recovery and finding intuitive eating.

Let’s start with a rundown of what my last pregnancy looked like and what’s very VERY different this time around!

My Pregnancy (in numbers) with Emma!

  • Starting weight: 123 pounds (which I was unhealthily maintaining eating 1,000 calories a day. Do not recommend.)
  • My age: 28; 29 at delivery
  • Exercise pre-pregnancy: None
  • Exercise during pregnancy: None
  • Caloric intake during pregnancy: 1,500 1st trimester; 1,700 2nd trimester; 2,000 3rd trimester
  • Weight at delivery: 157 pounds
  • Total gain: 34 pounds
  • Emma’s weight: 7 pounds
  • My weight post-delivery: 147-150 pounds

My Pregnancy (in numbers) with Michael! (So Far)

  • Starting weight: 140 pounds (which I was maintaining eating 2,300-2,500 calories a day – estimated – intuitive eating!)
  • My age: 32; 33 at delivery
  • Exercise pre-pregnancy: Lifting 3x a week; cardio 3x a week
  • Exercise during pregnancy: Lifting 3x a week; cardio 2x a week (intensity is also diminished)
  • Caloric intake during pregnancy: Not sure as I am doing intuitive eating. 2,300 – 2,500 calories most days still, I imagine, based on the couple of days I have tracked out of curiosity (and anxiety).

And here’s where I’m at right now:

  • Week: 18
  • Current weight: roughly 148-149
  • Total gain so far: 8-9 pounds

I haven’t taken my 18-week picture yet (tomorrow!), but here’s my …er… “growth” so far lol.

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And, of course, here is a comparison 🙂

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And, for fun, here’s a sneak peak at what I look like now (but not scientific ‘cus not at the same time of day or in the same clothes — science is important! Ha!):

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Mental Struggles

As you may recall, I struggled hardcore with antenatal mental health as well as post-partum depression, anxiety, and OCD that eventually led to me being hospitalized when Emma was 7 weeks old. Moreover, with Emma, I was still in an active eating disorder when I got pregnant.

I’ve been in pretty intense therapy for years now, but I’ve also improved to the point of being able to be off of psychiatric medication for a year. I’ve also been in genuine eating disorder recovery for only a year, and I admit that the body image part of this is HARD for me. Somewhere in my head (before recovery), I had it in my plans to get my weight way back down again before getting pregnant again because I was SO AFRAID of how a second pregnancy would impact my body and weight. But, then I found lifting…and running…and recovery… and, well, here we are.

This pregnancy has been different — I’ve been far more sick, I’ve been far more tired, but I’ve also been far more active, and I’m not having to go through psych medication withdrawal. My anxiety is still very present, but I do feel overall more emotionally stable this time compared to last time.

My brain and body have also not totally caught up with one another: my brain currently refuses to accept that I am pregnant when it comes to my weight & what I’m seeing in the mirror.

Impacts to and of Intuitive Eating

Pregnancy (and post-partum) are going to probably be the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced when it comes to committing to intuitive eating. I’ve been doing intuitive eating for a year now, and if I’m being honest – I don’t know that I can commit to NOT tracking/trying to intentionally lose weight after this baby is born. I already am feeling the pull.

I’m trying to eat intuitively right now, but my appetite is alarming to me at times: I wake up hungry multiple times throughout the night, every night. In 1st trimester, I would eat even in the middle of the night; now, I don’t. I also try very hard to focus on eating mostly “whole foods.” This is mostly because I’ve found these foods appealing and they physically make me feel the best; but, admittedly, it’s also partly a weight gain/fear food thing.

I’m not tracking calories (except for portions of a couple of days to get just a ballpark of where I’m at); I religiously tracked in my last pregnancy. And, I just put my scale in timeout too.

I’m honestly not sure what I’m doing — I’m overwhelmed by my hunger levels and fear of gaining too much. My midwives have mostly been supportive (they know I am in ED recovery), but they’ve still mentioned ballpark target weight numbers, which has been difficult for me. I’m very much looking forward to meeting with my ED recovery/intuitive eating dietitian next week for some reassurance and guidance.

So, there you go – that’s where I’m at right now.

I’d like to keep documenting this pregnancy and postpartum just like last time. Hopefully, some of you will find it helpful (or at least interesting)!

What Does Normal Bloating Look Like?

I recorded a video for my YouTube channel yesterday (I’ll post it below) that I thought would translate pretty well into a blog as well (plus, I’m going to add some bonus pictures that aren’t in the video just for my awesome blog readers). For those who would rather watch vs. read (or watch and read), here is the video:

Now…let’s talk about bloating.

This experiment was inspired by one of my favorite YouTubers, Natacha Océane, who recorded what a normal day of bloating and scale fluctuations look like for her. Now, there are a few differences between Natacha and myself…

Natacha and Me

…have you spotted them?

I’ll give you a minute.

Just in case you can’t tell from this photo, Natacha is in her 20s, has never been obese, and has never had a child — three pretty big differences between the two of us!

I loved her honest portrayal so much, though, that I wanted to provide my own showing my different body type. So, that’s what I did!

Now, if you watch the video, you’ll hear all about how difficult this day wound up being for me. I struggle pretty hard with watching the scale and my body fluctuate. I am hoping that this experiment will help to remind me that these are very fickle things that fluctuate wildly, and there’s no need or reason to change anything just because of minor fluctuations like this.

Now, the experiment…

Method!

I “measured” as soon as I woke up, after my run, after lunch, before bed, and when I woke up again this morning.

I took two sets of photos/video: my abs relaxed vs. my abs flexed (not that you can see them, haha).

I also weighed myself.

What I Ate

Pre-run: espresso with some creamer

Breakfast: protein pancakes w/ extra protein powder, peanut butter chips, coffee w/ creamer

Lunch: half of a buffalo ranch salad kit with a beef pattie on top, sweet potato chips, sour gummies

Dinner: a bowl of cereal with 2% milk, blueberries, and a yogurt

Snacks: lunch meat (turkey), crackers, pickles, protein bar, decaf coffee with creamer

How I Worked Out

5-mile short run

Results!

Here are the weights:

I was 140.2 when I woke up, 138.8 after my 5-mile run, 140.8 after lunch, and 140.8 before bed.

scale.jpg

I woke up at 139.6 this morning.

scale2.jpg

Abs Relaxed Photos

absrelaxed1.jpg

Absrelaxed2.jpg

This morning:

Absrelaxed4.jpg

Abs Flexed Photos!

Flex1.jpg

Flex2.jpg

This morning:

Flex4.jpg

Conclusion!

Bloat is normal, the scale fluctuates a lot throughout the day and day-to-day, and these things are not something to worry about. I thought, at first, that I bloat up “bigger” than others because of the elasticity in my stomach area, but I’m honestly not sure that’s true now. I think I’m just much more critical of myself!

Also, on a personal note, yes, I have legitimately gained a couple pounds in the last couple of months. I actually had lost about 4-5 pounds when I went on a short-term, idiotic diet, but my body composition test told me that all I’d managed to do was lose muscle & water & freak my body out so that it was holding onto fat for dear life. So, I stopped dieting, got back on the intuitive eating train, and re-gained the weight within 3 weeks. My next body composition test is next week, and I’m hoping to see that I have my muscle (water) back.

Personal Note

This was a really hard experiment for me, and I am feeling all sorts of anxious about putting it out there. I’m definitely struggling with body image a lot these days – more, I think, than I was even before I started exercising.

That said, the exercise is going amazingly well! I continue to see gains in my strength and endurance, and I want that to be all that matters — I at least want it to matter more than a stupid number on a scale. I hope, some day, this is true for me.