There’s an article making the rounds about the scientific reasons the past Biggest Loser contestants have put on weight after coming home and then not been able to lose it again, or letting it get out of control bringing them back to obesity. It talks about metabolism and the chemistry of how your body breaks down foods.
But you know what? I don’t need science to explain it. It’s actually easy.
You just feel gross.
And it’s hard to care about what you’re eating or if you’re exercising if you feel gross. No matter how much weight you lost or where you ended up before you started putting it back, you just feel gross once you can feel the weight BACK on your body that you worked hard to lose. More gross than before you lost it to begin with.
I got down to racing weight (the weight I feel the most comfortable running long distances) before my 100K and have since gained 15 lbs back of that weight and I can tell you: I just feel gross. If I met me in public I wouldn’t think, “Gross!” But my clothes don’t fit right and I feel bigger rolls in places and I can’t wear my cutest outfits and I see these marks on my body from where my clothes are tight and sometimes I wear big shirts to cover the fact that I can’t button my pants.
And when you’re feeling all of those things from putting on weight you worked hard to lose? It is really hard to motivate yourself to A) Eat Right and B) Exercise.
And then, when you do? When you’ve put on weight, exercising just feels weird. You can feel things jiggling you used to not, things hurt more on a heavier body, and you don’t have the stamina you used to have. So every step or push or jump is a constant reminder from your body: Look! You’ve put on weight.
And if you have problems eating when you’re upset, then of COURSE you’re going to turn to the donut shop.
I think you can put on 5lbs and not feel too much of that stuff, depending on how tall you are. I’m short so, so more than 5lbs and suddenly the Gross Trigger sets in because that’s when clothes change on your body. Once that Gross Trigger kicks in you have to climb UPHILL every time you go to work out. Or every time you skip the french fries. YOU JUST FEEL GROSS. And you don’t make good decisions when you feel gross.
So that 5 becomes 10 becomes 15 and…
You see where it goes.
It doesn’t matter what science says, honestly. It doesn’t matter how much you lost or what size you got down to. All that matters if you were at a certain weight long enough to get to know how your clothes (often NEW clothes) feel on that smaller body, and you put on 10-15lbs, you’re going to feel gross. Period. It doesn’t matter if you look gross (because I’ll be honest, my boobs look great at this weight) it matters that you FEEL gross. And it’s hard to push past that.
And it’s different than when you first attempt to lose the weight to begin with. At that point you’re probably dressing for the heavier body. You know how the clothes fit. You might know you need to lose weight, but there’s no reminders of dramatic or recent failure every time you move. Once you lose it, and then start gaining it back? It’s like a constant reminder: YOU HAVE FAILED!!!
I wake up and can FEEL the 15lbs extra on my body so, before I even get out of bed I’m thinking, “UG. Gross.” Which makes it SUPER hard to motivate myself to run or eat right. Right now, RIGHT NOW, I’m thinking about donuts instead of running because donuts don’t make my body jiggle and won’t leave chafe marks on my thighs. Also? I don’t have time to run this morning.
Here’s my brain right now:
Ew. I feel gross. I don’t want to feel gross. What makes me feel good? RUNNING! Ew. Running makes my returning rolls chafe and jiggle. But you know what else feels great? DONUTS.
And this whole, “Yes, but you’ll feel terrible later!” response is bullshit to anyone who eats their feelings. OF COURSE YOU’LL FEEL TERRIBLE LATER. But when you just want to feel better NOW, then LATER does not matter. Being addicted to food as a mood lifter is no different than being addicted to drugs or alcohol. There’s a huge part of you who knows about the LATER issue, but that part is not making decisions. Only the part that wants relief RIGHT NOW is making decisions. So right NOW I’m thinking, “Krispy Kreme is open 24 hours. I could get donuts for the office on the way into work. I haven’t brought donuts into the office in awhile. Imagine how delicious that would be.”
And immediately? I’m not thinking about how gross I feel. I’m thinking about donuts. And donuts make a person like me? Who eats their feelings? HAPPY. Even if but for a brief moment.
Gross. I just feel gross. BUT DONUTS ARE AMAZING. That would totally make me feel better.
But I have to get back on track. My 100-miler is inching closer and closer every day and running 100 miles on this body is NOT AN OPTION. No matter how much better my boobs look. Also? 15 lbs on a 5ft 3in body is about where the line occurs where you need to start buying new clothes. I’m down to all of the stuff that doesn’t fit tight against my body and that’s NOT MUCH. One pair of jeans. And even they are terrible the first day out of the dryer. I need to get on track or I’m going to have to buy clothes for this body and that’s not in the budget.
So I have to battle PAST the gross. I have to look deeper into the “GROSS” feeling and not give into it. This body is still amazing, now matter how gross it feels. I need to take care of it. I need to love it. Even if all of my bras leave pinch lines now, and even if my thighs rub together when I wear those shorts that I used to love. All of the things that repeat to me: Gross. Gross. Gross. I need to fight back against that with different mantras. And now we come to the hardest part of all. The part I’ve been really trying to work on in therapy. Treating myself like I would my good friend. Reminding myself of the good work I do and that my body carries me through that work so instead of thinking about the rolls or the chafing or the tight clothes, I need to think: WHAT DOES MY BODY NEED RIGHT NOW? Does my body need donuts? No, because that will totally zap my energy later today when I need it most. Does my body need exercise? YES. And while I can’t squeeze it in before work, maybe I can squeeze it in after. I need to really be in-tune with the needs of my body and not the way it FEELS in the clothes that are too tight.
I need to look deeper than the unbuttoned jeans and really think about how I’m treating my body. And I need to feed my soul with compliments instead of donuts. Instead of eating donuts, I need to remind myself of the wonderful things I do to improve the lives of those around me. Let that be my quick-fix when I’m feeling bad.
Easier said that done.
But if I saw someone telling another friend, “Oh, gross. That shirt is so tight on you it shows your muffin top on the jeans that are too small,” I would FREAK THE F*CK OUT. I might even punch that person in the face and say, “DO NOT TALK TO MY FRIEND LIKE THAT. She is beautiful. She is full of love and joy and she cares so deeply for the world around her. DO NOT TALK TO HER LIKE THAT.” And then I would hug my friend and hold her until she felt better.
I just need to treat myself, like I would treat my friend.