Adventures in Weight Changes

Possible other title I was considering: How I’ve Gained Weight, Yet Still Fit in My Clothes.

True confession time: I’ve gained ten pounds since this summer and five of those pounds have been since I started this blog in November. Yes, an eyebrow raise is okay.

Weight change past year from MyFitnessPal

Weight change past year. Horizontal lines in increments of 5 pounds.

Say what? Yessir, it’s true. I’m more than okay with it and I’ll tell you why: I was underweight ten pounds ago. Sure, I was still in the reasonable weight range for someone my height. At my lowest weight I had a BMI of 18.7, which was seriously flirting with the underweight zone. At five pounds above my lowest weight I had some measurements done as part of my work’s “Spring into Action” challenge. At that time, I had a body fat percentage of 19.7%.

To put all of these numbers in perspective, here are the ranges for BMI and body fat percentage:

BMI chart

Body fat percentage chart

The other indicator that I was a bit too low? My period got a bit out of whack. Sorry if that’s TMI, but for us women, it’s definitely an indicator of what’s up with our health. You know something’s up when you go from your usual 29-32 day cycle to a 57 day cycle!

Whacky period

Now granted, there were some confounding factors: I was having incredibly painful Graston done at the time (intense pain can signal to your body that you’re not in any shape to bear children, thus throwing off your cycle) and my anxiety started spinning out of control. I was also unable to exercise and it was the summer, both of which dulled my appetite. So all in all, a great recipe for losing weight.

I’m not confessing this because of what I revealed a couple of weeks ago with my history of anorexia because the weight loss wasn’t caused by “Ed” in my head (my therapist used to have me try to separate my voice from Ed’s voice, short for eating disorder). I lost weight because of all of the reasons I talked about above and I’m telling you because I’ve gained back some weight and it’s good weight. I looked too slight for my medium-sized frame, with my ribs and collarbone protruding a bit much. I had such little muscle tone due to my inability to exercise at the time courtesy of multiple injuries.

Top of Arc de Triomphe July 2013

Looking a bit too slim in France

Now, with ten pounds back on me, I feel incredibly strong instead of like someone who’d get pushed over by a slight breeze. My butt is back and so is my (though still miniscule) bust. When the back of your pants are loose because you have no butt to fill it in and your bust seems concave instead of convex, it’s not a good thing. It’s time to gain weight.

Just for a visual, let’s compare some before and after pictures (sorry for the slightly creepy pic of me at the gym; it was the best I could do at the time).

Before and after weight gain

How did I gain the weight? I purposely increased my calories at the end of the summer by eating whole fat dairy and incorporating some protein shakes. I wanted to gain a little weight at this point because I knew I didn’t look good (and when your husband suggests it, you know you really should). If I was going to gain weight, I wanted it to be muscle and the best way to do that is by increasing your protein intake. I’m sure I’ve also gained weight thanks to my appetite this past winter, which has been roaring! As long as I know I’m truly hungry, I trust in my body’s signals and I eat.

Gluten free dinner 3-11-14

How do you know if you’re truly hungry and not just having a massive craving? As always, I rely on my girl, Jillian Michaels, for advice. She suggests asking yourself if you could go for something healthy. For example, “Could I go for some chicken right now? How about a salad?” If the answer is yes, then you’re hungry. If the answer is no, you only want the ice cream in the freezer, then you’re probably just having a craving.

Once I’ve established hunger vs. craving, I then try to find something healthy and filling to keep my body satisfied and nourished. My go-to this winter has been a small bowl of oatmeal with a little maple syrup, almond milk/coconut water mix, and a small serving of almonds or walnuts.

Gluten free oatmeal with maple syrup and almonds

The interesting thing I’ve noticed as I’ve gained weight? My body wants to be where it is now, because I’ve been holding steady the past two months. This is my “homeostasis weight,” the weight at which my body functions best and where my hunger is normal. Whenever I start to reduce calories, even a little, I get an intense hunger, which signals to me that my body thinks it needs to go into survival mode. It’s not good when your body thinks it’s going into survival mode, because it will hold onto fat for reserve energy and use (eat) muscle instead.

Current weight via MyFitnessPal

Holding steady, +/- 1lb. Horizontal lines in increments of 5 lbs.

In order to maintain this weight I work out 4-6 times a week at moderate to high intensity and eat pretty clean, though I always allow room for a small treat every day and for the occasional splurge at family gatherings or a night out. At this weight I can slip up from time to time and also go hard-core and I tend to hang around the same area. And I’m more than okay with that because I’m happy with how I look, and more importantly, with how I feel, which is healthy and strong! Plus, since I gained mostly muscle, my clothes still fits (you know how much I hate shopping!)!

It will be interesting to see what happens once I’m able to run more and the weather gets warmer. I’m predicting my hunger will be all over the place (sometimes running makes me famished, sometimes it dulls my appetite), and there’s a possibility for weight loss. As long as it’s not more than five pounds, and I feel strong, I’m fine with that. Ain’t no thang. 😉

Questions: Have you lost too much weight, intentionally or unintentionally? Did you gain it back? Have you found your homeostasis weight, or the weight where your body seems happiest?


26 thoughts on “Adventures in Weight Changes

  1. You look great, and most importantly healthy and happy with yourself.

  2. Great post Stephanie! You share a wonderful message, and good for you for sticking with your positive improvements and leveraging healthy food to help get you there! Cheers to the great work 🙂

  3. Hi Stephanie ! My weight fluctuates at around 5 pounds or so, and has for the past 6 or 7 years, but I definitely feel better on the lower end. If it goes up, its mainly bloat and water weight and probably a pound or two of fat… but all around my middle. Which means I immediately feel yucky because all my clothes are tight. How often do you weigh yourself ? I used to weigh myself everyday but then I read this article about scale obsession and someone who would bring her scale with her, even on vacation. That scared me so I tried to cut back on my weigh ins…. now I only weigh once every week because seriously, it hardly ever fluctuated significantly.

    • Hi Karen! I sometimes get bloated that badly as well, right around my middle like you!

      I actually weight myself twice a week, Tuesdays and Fridays, and this has worked well for me for over a year now. I was also scared with becoming obsessed, especially with my history, but so far so good! I find this approach helpful because if one day I’m up, I’m usually back down the next time. And if I’m up two times in a row, I wait until a third consecutive time to consider it “real” and worthy of noting. I find it helps me stay on track. And if I miss a day, I doesn’t bother me in the least. Do you find once a week works for you?

  4. Good Morning Stephanie,
    Great assessment of your weight changes. Most people want to keep track, but aren’t willing to put in the work, Kudos to you.
    I don’t know how you could do the Graston Technique. ” OUCH ” so severe. Know wounder you experienced some adverse effects.
    Q. Could a Sports Massage Therapist come close to the depth of Graston?

    Awesome advice about hunger versus cravings. ( I need to adopt that question.)
    My weight also fluctuates like ( Karen-Fit in France ) Clothes are such a subtle reminder as to where we’re at. As cycling weather picks-up, the weight starts coming off.

    Well done Stephanie, you have such a positive outlook! Inspiring Motivation

    Tune-up Stay Strong,
    U Steve,

    • Hi Steve! Thanks! I track because I love numbers and I love data! But when data doesn’t work (such as the weight is the same, but the pants won’t button), then you need to do more investigating!

      The key with the hunger vs. craving is you need to actually obey it. I don’t always do that. 😉 Just last night I asked myself and convinced myself that I could go for chicken, but had oatmeal instead. Not sure I really needed it.

      Yes, Graston is killer. Elbow wasn’t nearly as bad at the ITB/hamstring/hip, though.

  5. This is such an interesting post. I have always been naturally thin and used to constantly get asked if I had an eating disorder in high school (I did not). My BMI is around 18 and at my last doctor’s appointment she told me I was a little underweight but luckily it was nothing to be concerned about. I’ve never had any problems due to my weight. In the past 3 years I have actually put on 10 pounds, but my dress size has stayed the same. I attribute it to incorporating strength training in with my running, resulting in me putting on muscle.

    Keep up the good work. You look amazing BTW!

    • Hi Leigh Anne! I love hearing everyone’s stories, so thank you for sharing yours. That must have been difficult to constanstly be questioned about having an eating disorder when you didn’t. We all have such different bodies and need to do what’s best for them instead of trying to morph them into something they’re not. Have you noticed a difference in your running since you’ve been strength training?

      Thank you for your sweet comment! That definitely put a smile on my face. And thank you for stopping by! 🙂

      • Strength training has definitely help curb the injuries. I have had issues with my hip, IT band and shins, all of which have subsided since I started strength training. Also, I am slowly but surely getting faster! (slowly getting faster, if that makes sense!)

      • I hear you on the hips and IT band! And my husband has had shin/stress fracture issues. That’s good to know it’s helped with your injuries. I’m still testing it out. Haha, slowly getting faster…love it! Are you increasing your speed consciously or subconsciously?

      • I would say a mixture of both. When I want to consciously increase it I seem to fail. But when I go out for just an easy run, I seem to run my fastest with the least amount of effort. So I guess I should stop trying to consciously increase my speed and treat every run as an easy run?? Running is SO mental it is crazy!

      • I know…why is it that some of the best runs are the ones that you’re just, well, running? Not specifically focusing on anything in particular, but just in the groove?

  6. Hi, can I offer?
    Because you were relaxed.

    A friend of mine use to say, ” It’s not how FAST you go, but how often you go slow”.
    You were so relaxed that your slows we’re faster, and faster, slower. ( a more even tempo ).
    Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

    U Steve,

  7. That Jillian Michaels hunger vs craving tip is great. I think I’ve also gained weight (I try not to weigh myself often because no good usually comes of it) recently but since my clothes do fit I think it’s muscle due to weight training. The first time I trained for a half marathon in 2011 I think I lost ten or so pounds. My initial thought was “neat!” but now I realize I’m not crazy about super thin arms and legs. I’d rather have a thicker, more muscular form.

    • Glad you found that helpful! I do think that clothes fitting is a good way to check-in with your weight changes. If you’ve gained, but your clothes still fits nearly the same, it’s probably muscle! Granted, the waist of my smallest pants are a bit tighter, but I think this is because I actually now have a butt to fill in the seat of the pants and it’s pulling on the waist. I also bought them at my very smallest and they weren’t snug, but they weren’t loose, so I don’t have a problem if they’re a bit snug now.

  8. I am glad you posted this on my blog as your favorite post. I’ve been “fighting” with this same thing. I’ve gained 3lbs in just the last month. I know most of it is muscle (I’ve committed to CrossFit pretty hardcore the last 6 months). I also feel extra “jiggle” in my stomach though which is annoying me. I know it shouldn’t though. Of course I am eating more because I am burning more and that probably has something to do with it. I guess it wouldn’t bother me so much if I wasn’t nervous about fitting in my wedding dress in 28 days haha!

    • 🙂 It can be a struggle sometimes and it’s healthy to admit it. I’m still working on some days and learning to be more comfortable with the extra weight.
      You can only be the best version of your body and it’s hard to not try to want to look like something you never will. I will NEVER have the long, sinewy limbs of a model or ballerina. I’m short and naturally muscular. Jillian Michaels is more like my body type, though I still differ from her where I store my fat (hers is more chest and thighs, mine is more stomach). It’s just the way it is and to be able to accept your body the way it is can be difficult.
      As you know, you can do things to tweak it a bit. If you want more muscle, you do lift heavy and increase your calorie intake, as you’re doing. If you want to be slim with less muscle, do a ton of cardio. If you want to be somewhere in between, mix it up and incorporate both.
      I have no doubt you will be gorgeous in your wedding dress. If need be, ease off the intense weight workouts a week or so before the big day. I was just listening to a Jillian Michaess podcast where she talked about this issue–retaining a bit of water weight due to muscle repair from heavy lifting. What’s most important is that you feel good about yourself and that will shine through and make you incredibly radiant. Just think of the amazing things you’ve been able to make your body do! So keep up the confidence, because you have every right to have it.
      And happy four weeks till wedding! 🙂

  9. […] powder? I was at Whole Foods at the end of last summer looking for a protein powder to help me gain some weight healthfully. Whole Foods has single serving packets of some of the brands they carry so you can try the […]

  10. […] was running low last year. I also remembered a bag of clothes I had put aside from the tailor when I lost too much weight. I tried the clothes on and three of the five items now fit well enough that I don’t need […]

  11. […] I tried on everything to see if it fit after I purposely gained a bit of weight following losing too much last summer. I was able to add a few tops and a pair of jeans to my current wardrobe, which I was thrilled […]

  12. […] not surprising given my history and you know how open I’ve been with my unintended weight loss last year and subsequent (healthy) gain. I’ve gone through periods, even in those healthier […]

  13. I’m sure you mentioned this in your article but, how much weight did you gain within a span of two months?

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