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Do they make a scale that says “FATter instead?”

Tonight, I stepped on the scale and was so happy to see that I had finally reached 110 pounds. I know, I know, people will say “what I would do to weight 110 pounds!” but the past month has been filled with a lot of work to get my weight back up to something that resembles healthy and normal.

About a month ago, I was just getting over a pretty intense bout of sickness and as I got back into the swing of every day life, I felt 10 pounds lighter! It felt like a fresh start, and it caused me to look at my life with a new set of eyes and a spring in my step. I was excited to get back to working, running, and enjoying the simple things.

But not only did I FEEL 10 pounds lighter, I actually WAS 10 pounds lighter, an unfortunate result of 3 weeks without much of an appetite.  People commented that I looked tiny, and I felt weak and uncomfortable in my skin. My clothes got baggy, and I used one more belt loop than my belt was used to.

Losing weight as a woman is hard enough as it is. When you gain weight, people know it’s rude to say “gosh you’re looking fatter than normal!” But the rules for losing weight are skewed. You constantly feel like you have to defend it, because everyone wants to be skinny, but not “too” skinny. People start feeding you the gross, sugar-filled food that they don’t want because “you could stand to gain a few pounds.” People judge you if you don’t have the appetite to finish what’s on your plate, and you begin to get worried looks as your legs quickly turn into chicken legs, or your waist line shrinks to uncomfortable huggable limits.

So as soon as I could eat again without gagging, I went to work on gaining back the weight.

But there’s something about coming back from an illness that puts you on the defense in a different way, you feel a need to convince everyone, and yourself, that you’re healthy. That this unplanned weight-loss is temporary and you’re working on it, even when your stomach is churning and it’s hard to keep down the food you normally love. Not to mention, you don’t want a reminder of what was, but those 10 pounds were a reminder, and I wanted to be back to myself.

While some would relish in losing 10 pounds with very little effort, I cringe. My CF life tends to be measured by the pounds I can gain and the pounds I can keep on, and as soon as my weight dips, you can sure as hell bet that I am reminded that I better get back to baseline, and plump up.

Whenever I am on a weight-gaining rampage, I do, and eat, whatever it takes to get the weight back, for fear of getting to a point where my body is too weak to support these pesky lungs of mine.. So after a few days that included a trip or two to McDonalds, eating all the chocolate I had from Christmas, and scarfing down full bags of potato chips, with a soda on the side… I felt like absolute crap. I was lethargic, and bloated, and was lacking the motivation to workout or get off the couch. It was then that I decided to take a new approach: gain the weight back the healthy way.

I had a few workout ebooks that include recipes packed with healthy options. When I follow these workout plans, I only ever loosely followed the recipes… after all, if I was trying to keep my weight up, why would I eat the same food as people who are trying to lose it? But I learned some more about good fats and protein, and went to work on making these “fit” girl recipes… “fat” girl recipes, all while working hard to regain some strength in my body with some resistance and cardio workouts.

Displaying FullSizeRender.jpgSo what did this mean? Avocados mixed with sunflower seeds and feta cheese on toast. Smoothies in the morning filled with whole milk plain yogurt (guys I can’t believe I eat plain yoghurt and enjoy it….), berries, nut butter, and healthy granola. Protein shakes after working out to keep the pounds on, and build up muscle. Incredible dinners filled with nutritious vegetables, and topped with so much parmasean cheese, oil, dressing, and butter. One of my personal favorite “fit girl” to “fat girl” recipe was a cauliflower mac and cheese with other veges, to which I added double the amount of cheese, yoghurt, chicken, and turkey bacon.  And snacks. Lots of snacks. Apples dipped in yoghurt filled with walnuts. Everything dipped in hummus. Luna bars galore. Cheese (so much cheese) and whole grain crackers. Clementines, strawberries (sometimes doused in Nutella…), blueberries, kiwis, and my new favorite fruit: medjool dates (these guys are filled with calories, and taste like candy, a better way to get a sugar fix than my favorite candy…. peach rings).
And all of the sudden, I felt incredible. I had unbelievable energy. I no longer crashed if I didn’t sleep 8-9 hours. I felt full, and excited to see a colorful meal on my plate. And guess what? I gained weight. I have never been so happy to see 110 on that scale tonight.
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One of the reasons that I refused to take on a healthy lifestyle was that I didn’t want to give up eating the things I love. But after a month of finding new recipes and food that I enjoy, I find that I don’t miss eating unlimited amounts of chocolate, or McDonalds.  That being said though, I don’t avoid those things altogether either. I can appreciate the joy that chicken nuggets give me, so I can’t say I’ll ever give them up (don’t even send me youtube videos about how horrible they are, ignorance is bliss!). And when I’m in Portland, ME, I’m gonna go to the famous Holy Donut and eat a maple bacon donut. That’s just a fact and I’m not sorry about it!

For me, I’ve focused so much of my life on enjoying the little things, that when it comes to food it’s all about finding a balance between the things that make you feel good physically (fruit, vegetables, nutrients), and the things that make you feel good mentally (chocolate, donuts, chicken nuggets…) and making sure not to eat so much of the mentally good stuff that you no longer feel good physically. Let’s be honest, I’ll never be a nutrition connoisseur, but I’ll at least try to make better choices that make me feel healthier! Sometimes I think when we strive for perfection with what we eat, we just end up disappointed and give up altogether.

Who knows how long this will last, and by no means is my “new” lifestyle perfect, but I hope I can keep it up, now that I’ve learned first hand that it is possible to eat healthy and keep on the pounds. I still have a couple pounds to go, so here’s  to many more avocados, and a maple bacon donut…. or two!
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