Adventures in Weight Changes Revisited

Hi all! Happy Monday. I’m back to class this week. Having a week off in between was heavenly. It allowed me more time on the weekend so I could go to the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline with WHH and my parents as part of WHH’s birthday gift. How amazing is this view of Boston from the top of the hill by the museum?

View from Larz Anderson Parl

WH Mom accidentally photobombing

I actually found the small bike collection to be more fascinating than the cars since a lot of the interesting parts of the cars were the mechanics that you couldn’t see. Can you imagine riding these bikes?

Antique bikes Larz Anderson

We went to Matt Murphy’s for drinks and appetizers after. They have a great selection of both and the cheese platter was delicious! Included were pickled onions, an Irish cheddar, walnuts, fried goat cheese, whole grain mustard, pistachio-thyme honey, blue cheese, pears, and pickles.

Cheese plate appetizer Matt Murphy's

Next up we walked a mere two restaurants down to Orinoco, one of my favorite restaurants in the Boston area. They serve Venezuelan food and it is delicious! My favorite part, naturally, is being able to have their arepas (sandwiches) because the arepa is made of corn meal, so it’s naturally gluten-free. No pictures of my own to share, but here’s an example of some areaps from their FB page.

Orinoco arepas

Another thing I was able to do this weekend because I wasn’t in class? Organize the crazy amount of clothes I have that no longer fit me due to my slow and steady weight loss over the past two years. How much money’s worth of clothes do you think is here? Now you know why I’ve had to resort to mom pants in the past–I had no clothes that fit!

Pile of clothes too small

I counted about 22 tops, 18 bottoms, 5 dresses, 3 pieces of activewear, 1 bathing suit, 1 bra, and 1 coat. 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 about. The rest was divided into items to donate, items for ThredUp, and items to be kept for when/if I’m pregnant in the future. I”m glad to know that I’ll have a nice wardrobe I don’t have to pay for should that time come (no, Mom, I’m not subtly hinting that I’m pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant…don’t worry, you’ll be one of the first to know when it’s time).

As I was trying on my clothes, I thought it might be good to do a check-in from my last post since the other one was over two months ago. At that time I had gained ten pounds since the summer,  five of them since starting the blog in November. So, how has my weight fared since then? Let’s check it out (vertical lines are increments of 5 pounds).

Weight changes past 6 months

I’m still up at about the same weight as March. You can see how steady it’s been since February (within a 2-3 pound range, which is a normal variation for most people).

Weight change 3 months

My BMI is still in the middle of the normal range, which is a great place to be! I have no idea what my body fat percentage is, but I’ll probably be checking in with a personal trainer I worked with back in September and see if she can measure that. I would like to know as I was feeling like I had a little too much jiggle on my abdomen (visceral fat is no good and the place I unfortunately tend to store it first), but it seems that since swapping my morning yogurt parfait for a smoothie, as well as increased the intensity on some of my workouts, it’s melted away a bit.

BMI chart

I also showed you this picture last time:

Before and after weight gain

I just happened to take an updated picture last week, which was perfect timing (yes, I’m wearing the same top as in the March picture).

May body changes

I also found a picture of me from vacation that I’ve been hesitant to show, mostly because I’m in a bathing suit. But I think it perfectly illustrates how messed up my body was that the picture of in a tank and shorts can’t. Thankfully the bikini is hiding some of my ribs you could see at the time, but you can see how much I lack in the chest area as well as the sharp angles I’m rocking on my shoulders. Here I am, in all my skinny-fat glory:

Skinny fat

Yikes. Glad I’m not there any more. Well, not there there. That picture was taken in Switzerland. I’d give anything to go back there. Here’s what my view was while I was sitting there:

Lake Thun, Interlaken-Unterseen

Lake Thun, Switzerland

I noted back in March that it would be interesting to see what happened once I was able to run more and the weather got warmer. I do feel that my appetite is back to normal now that it’s warmer. My appetite was crazy over the winter. It was so hard for me to figure out if I really needed to eat or if my body was just tricking me into it since it was extra cold this winter.

The increased running actually hasn’t changed my appetite much. If anything, it seems to have dulled it slightly. I’m not reaching for a second helping at dinner as much and I’m not getting the hungry horrors about an hour after dinner.

It seems I’ve stayed on an even keel since the late winter and I’m so grateful to be here. But it’s not about the weight at the end of the day. It’s about being able to do what I want with my body and feeling good about myself. Sure, I still have fat days just like anyone else, and want to remain at a healthy weight while looking as good as I can, but mostly I want to feel confident, strong, and as though I can tackle anything. That’s what’s important to me. The numbers on the scale can go up and down (within reason), but as long as I feel good about myself and feel I am healthy, that’s all that matters.

Questions: How are you doing now that the weather has changed? Do you find your appetite dulled a bit, whether due to the weather or exercise intensity? Do you change up how you eat according to the seasons? Have you found a weight where you and your body are happiest?


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?

Wrap-Up of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

So, today is National I Want You to be Happy Day! What a perfect way to wrap-up last week’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, because I am lucky enough to be an incredibly happy person now and want everyone fighting an eating disorder to know they can have that as well. If you missed last week’s series, you can go back to read day 1, day 2, day 3, and day 4 before continuing below if you like.

I had my ups and downs once I went back to school in the fall of 1996. I did feel weird having to sit out of gym class for the first month or so because I wasn’t at my goal weight yet. Once I had gained more weight and was allowed to gradually get back to exercise, I had some struggles again. I had a lot of close calls my first year post-hospitalization in terms of needing to be hospitalized again due to bradycardia, or low heart rate (my official reason for being hospitalized). I was taken off exercise for weeks at a time throughout that first year, leading to many emotional highs and lows, not to mention those teenage hormonal swings!

Progression of disease: 1995/1996/1997

1995: Pre-anorexia; 1996: Before hospitalization; 1996: Back to school struggles

What got me through the entire experience and everything that followed was the incredible support from my parents and brother. Sure, we fought plenty. I did a good job of (unintentionally) making things difficult. I can’t imagine the pain and heartache I put them through and hope I never have to experience anything like it with my children. I am so lucky to have such a loving, supportive family.

Making it to eight grade graduation felt like such an accomplishment for all of us so many reasons.

Made it! 8th grade graduation, 1997

Made it! 8th grade graduation, 1997

I especially can’t imagine how hard it was for my brother, to have all the attention on me for such a long time. But he stuck by me and never judged. On the positive side, I think the experience brought us closer and led us to be extremely supportive of each other as teens and now as adults.

June 1997

June 1997

Once I got to high school, I flourished. I was surrounded by a great group of fellow dorks who got me. I was even more motivated to keep up my weight in order to be able to participate in sports.

Fall 1997

Healthy and happy, Jan 1998

Sure, there was the usual teenage stuff, but I was able to take it all in stride because it was nothing compared to what I had been through in middle school and with anorexia. In a good way, having anorexia allowed me to have better perspective in life. Things that would be a big deal to some of my peers didn’t faze me.

September 1998

September 1998

Unfortunately, I was hospitalized again toward the end of my sophomore year (spring 1999) due to bradycardia.  To put it simply, I had gained a bit more weight than I was comfortable with in the winter of 1999 due to being inactive because of a Mononucleosis-like virus.  Apparently, an 8-10 pound weight loss over the course of about a month was too much for my body. I was devastated to be hospitalized because I knew I was nowhere near the same place mentally as I was during my original hospitalization. Lab tests showed that my thyroid had slowed to a near halt, which is what led my doctor do an EKG. Resting heart rate: 37!

My medical history necessitated meeting with a few psychologists while inpatient, but they quickly realized I didn’t have much need of their services and that it was a purely medical admission. I was discharged from the medical unit after about five days and returned to normal life. I spoke with my doctor about this hospitalization only a few years ago and she says she still questions whether I needed to be admitted or whether I could have been managed outpatient. Seeing how my heart rate monitor went off multiple times in the night while hospitalized, I think she made the right call and it was a good wake-up call for me to be cautious with weight loss in the future.

Back to health, June 1999

Back to health, June 1999

As you may have seen on my about page, I did have some struggles with my relationship with food at some points in my life following my battle with anorexia, mostly in my late college and early working years. It’s only been in the past few years that I feel I’ve finally developed what I feel is my healthiest relationship ever in my life with food.

I see food as nourishment. It nourishes my body so I can feel the best and do what I ask of my body. It nourishes my soul when I share a meal with family or friends. It nourishes my senses. Food is fuel and it is fun and it is fabulous. I eat as healthfully as I can afford to and I still enjoy indulging from time to time. And when I feel I’ve gotten off track, I’m able to rein myself back in. To me, that is a healthy relationship with food.

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

And if I ever get way off track, I have an amazing support system to help get me back to where I should be. Not only do I have my family that has stuck through it with me from the start, but I have Whole Health Husband and his amazing family who has supported me through other difficulties. I am such a lucky girl and continue to be incredibly grateful for this blessed life that I have.

So that concludes my week-long dive into my past struggles with anorexia in conjunction with National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Thank you for coming along for the ride! The rest of the week will be back to regular ol’ WHD. 🙂

Friday Favorite: My Fitness Pal

Can you believe it’s already the Friday before Christmas? Where did the time go?!

Today I wanted to share with you one of the items that really helped me finally lose some stubborn weight a couple of years ago and from which yesterday’s weight chart came from: My Fitness Pal.

MyFitnessPal logo

It was really easy to get started. I created a profile on their website, which consisted of putting in my current measurements, then choosing a goal. You can choose how much weight you want to lose (or gain) per week, as well as how often you want to work out, and they’ll automatically calculate how many calories you should be eating each day to create the correct weekly calorie deficit/surplus. Since I’m not currently trying to lose any weight, my goal page looks like this:

MyFitnessPal goals

As soon as I started tracking my food, I couldn’t believe how many calories I was actually eating! No wonder I wasn’t losing any weight!

Eating bubble

At first it was time-intensive to log all of my food, especially when it was an odd quantity or wasn’t available in their database (which is extensive!). But after I had everything in, I was able to quickly update throughout the day on my phone app. I chose the half pound per week weight loss goal, as I found that the most manageable and the easiest way to keep my sanity. The one pound per week weight loss regimen was too restrictive for me.

The app is currently available for Apple, Google, Blackberry, and Windows phones and can integrate with a variety of other apps, such as RunKeeper, the one I use for running. I like that if feels as though you get a virtual high-five when you’ve met your net caloric intake each day.

Since I used the app for such a long time, I was able to figure out exactly what I can eat to keep my body going without having to log my food, which I really see as the end goal. Who wants to constantly run to their computer or phone to track what they’ve eaten? Currently I only use it to track my weight.

Speaking of tracking weight, as predicted yesterday, today’s weigh-in was back being closer to my maintenance weight. See the dip down at very right of the graph below?  And it only took a little tweak and mindfulness to achieve!

Weight change December 20

Has anyone else used this app or a similar one? Did you find it helpful or did you become too obsessive?

I hope you have a great weekend!