My Weight Gain Journey
TRIGGER WARNING - THIS POST MENTIONS WEIGHT LOSS, WEIGHT GAIN, SELF-HARM, FOOD, CALORIES, NUTRITION, BODY IMAGE ISSUES, EXCERCISE - If any of these issues trigger you, please don't read <3 it's not worth it!
You've probably gathered from the title but, I'm going on a weight gain journey
I'm writing this post (and hopefully many more after it) to hold myself accountable and document my journey from the very beginning. It will be helpful for me to have this here on the days that I'm struggling with weight gain and having a hard time remembering my why. To cut a long story short - I have an unnecessary fear of gaining fat on my body, and I don't want this fear to suffocate me for the duration of my life. I want to face this head-on, take control and realise that weight gain doesn't have to be scary.
It's going to be difficult but, this journey is a must for me. I'm going to document the highs and the lows, actively trying to be as raw and truthful as possible while I unlearn the behaviours that diet culture has taught me so that I can reclaim my body and mind.
MY STORY WITH MY BODY AND FOOD
TRIGGER WARNING - THESE PARAGRAPHS HAVE MENTIONS OF SELF-HARM, WEIGHT LOSS, WEIGHT GAIN, BINGE EATING, EXERCISING, FOOD/CALORIES, AND BODY IMAGE - PLEASE DON'T READ IF THIS WILL EFFECT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH - IT'S NOT WORTH IT, I PROMISE.
Growing up, I was neither happy nor unhappy with my body - it was just my body that I used to run around, play with my toys and be a child. Food was food; I never categorised it as good or bad, nor did I think I could eat too much or too little - I just ate when I was hungry or craving sweets, noted that the food tasted great then, moved on with my day. I can't pinpoint the exact age that I became aware that food could be a bad thing that made you fat (fat; something I learned was gossip-worthy and made you inferior to your skinny neighbours). However, my mum was constantly on a diet throughout my childhood - Always asking myself and my siblings if she looked fat while eating low-calorie ice creams and drinking skinny lattes. My mum was consistently experimenting with diet shakes and detox teas, always unhappy with her extra weight and wanting to rid herself of it. In turn, the lessons began to engrave themselves on my brain: Being fat is wrong, and if you are fat, people will think less of you.
I first began to think about my body around the age of 10/11. I joined a new school in year six; I was the new girl, and everyone was new to me. I was hyper-aware of my surroundings - and remember feeling embarrassed in PE because it felt as though all of the other girls were wearing bras and had something to put into them, whereas I just didn't (at all). It didn't take long for me to feel insecure and ashamed about my lack of breasts leading me to promise myself that I would get a boob job when I was old enough and have the biggest and best boobs out of everyone (lol).
This insecurity over my boobs (or lack of) soon spread like poison across my body, and before I knew it, I hated every last part of me - Especially my stomach. I began to write in my diaries about how horrible my stomach was at the age of twelve. At just twelve-years-old, I was scribbling across blank pages about "fat and ugly" I was and how I didn't want to eat anymore because, if I carried on, nobody would ever like me.
When I was thirteen years old, my mum surprised us with a holiday to Greece, which I was SO excited about - I was ecstatic. We hadn't been abroad in almost ten years, and I couldn't wait to hop on a plane and escape rainy England. However, I was nervous because I didn't want anybody to see my stomach and think it was fat. So, for the week before we went away, I would cover my tummy in moisturiser and wrap it as tight as possible with clingfilm while I slept because I read somewhere that it would melt my stomach fat. Every night I would go to sleep praying that I would wake up skinny.
So, throughout my teenage year's I was unhappy and depressed. I got into the habit of binging on food when I was sad, vowing to never gorge on junk again (so that I could finally lose weight), and then binging again. Every year I would set myself resolutions and goals to exercise and lose weight yet, I could never stick to them. I would stay in the same routine of binging, feeling sad about binging and then binging again.
When I was sixteen years old, I finally did it - I finally stuck to my New Year's resolution. At last, I got healthy and fit and fell in love with life (in a way I didn't know was possible). I put so much effort and time into my physical and mental health and, it paid off - I was finally happy. I stopped self-harming (something that I'd been doing almost daily/weekly for four years) and turned my entire life around. I felt as though nothing could touch me; I'd found the secret to true happiness and believed it would last forever. I would often wonder if everybody was as happy as me, and if they were, why weren't we all collectively shouting it from the rooftops?
In terms of my health and fitness (at sixteen), I would genuinely say it's the healthiest relationship with food and exercise that I've ever had. I'm naturally quite petite and, so naturally, with working out and good nutrition, my frame became lean and toned - I ate a lot, never over-exercised and, rarely body checked. I would set myself rules where I couldn't look at my body in the mirror for a month at a time - I wasn't aware of what I was doing, but unintentionally I saved myself from constant body checking. Now, I'm body-checking every single day, multiple times a day (not healthy).
After 2015, life got complicated. I left home the day before my seventeenth birthday and proceeded to move around a lot (I moved ten times in the space of eight months). It's hard to be happy and stick to a workout routine when you're always moving and; your life is falling apart. I felt as though the foundations of love and happiness that I'd spent a year building were constantly being destroyed (with a gigantic bulldozer). I kept trying to be happy and healthy but, I couldn't keep up with a workout routine and, no matter how hard I tried, I could no longer fathom any feelings of happiness and; I hated myself for it. I was so angry that I couldn't just get on with it and stick a smile on my face. I felt like a failure for not being as happy as I was the year before or for being as toned as I was. Now that I look back, I can see that I was going through so much, and I so wish I could scoop seventeen-year-old me up and tell her it's okay and that she doesn't have to hate herself for this. Yet, all of the pain, anger, and hurt became internalized and has sat with me for years.
Since I lost my sixteen-year-old body and mindset, it's as though I've competed with that version of me. I'm in a constant state of admiration for how I looked then and how my mindset worked. In my head, I've been under the impression that unless my body matches the body of me at sixteen, I won't be able to love myself or be truly happy. This is toxic for so many reasons. Firstly, my skeletal structure will have changed in the past six years - I will never be as small as I was then and, even if I was; I wouldn't believe it, for every time I look at my reflection, I convince myself that I've put weight on and that I'm two times bigger than I am.
So, after chasing sixteen-year-old me for as long as I can remember - I'm not doing it anymore. I've been chasing after that version of myself for so long that I'm not allowing myself the room to grow into the young woman that I know I can be. Now that I'm twenty-two, it's time for me to dig deeper and walk away from my comfort zone. I'm tired of trying to be the smallest version of myself; it's exhausting and doesn't make me feel empowered. I'm tired of placing all of my value and worth on being tiny and feeling angry at myself for being bloated or putting on weight.
I want a happy and healthy relationship with food and my body and it's my responsibility to take charge and challenge these fears.
MY PLAN FOR WEEK ONE MISSION WEIGHT GAIN
- I'm cutting my step count goal from 10k+ to 7-8k (at the most)
- I'm going to eat in a calorie surplus
- I'm going to cut my workouts from 6/7 days a week to 5 days a week and lift heavy (my main goal is muscle gain but, I know I will inevitably gain fat with this and that's okay)
- I'm going to stop doing cardio and HIIT
So, that's a wrap. I'm both scared and excited but, I can feel in my gut that this is the right thing for me to do.
Part of me feels full of adrenalin and excitement because I've decided to go on a weight gain journey. This is so alien to me, never in my life have I set out to put weight ON but, it's nice to have a new challenge. My main focus has always been to lose weight, tone up, and pray for some glute growth while knowing that I need to be eating more. It's hard to grow muscle while in a calorie deficit or at maintenance so, I have to increase to a surplus and accept the weight gain. I am a little scared, scared that I will regret this decision but, mostly I'm worried that gaining weight will mean that I instantly go back to the version of myself from eighteen months ago. The version of me that had gained weight because she was unhappy, rarely exercising, and constantly gorging on junk food and sweets.
MY HOPES AND WISHES FROM THIS JOURNEY
I want to get in the best shape of my life – physically, mentally, and emotionally and part of that parcel will be; weight gain. I'm going to tackle my fear of gaining weight by facing it head-on. As scary as this decision is, it's also liberating. Mentally, I want to gain insight and knowledge into why I'm so scared of gaining weight and to take ownership back over my body and my mind.