Oh Body, Let's be Friends
December 22, 2010 5:23 PM   Subscribe

Why did I gain weight? And, more importantly, how can I not get freaked out and obsessive now?

This all might sound like nitpicking because I'm not overweight. However, in the past I have been extremely sensitive, insecure, and somewhat obsessive about my weight due to normal societal crap and pretty unhealthy family pressures/influences. I'm in my late 20's, 5'3" or 5'4", and for the past five years or so I've weighed between 126 and 133, give or take. Some of the lightest times were when I was taking Wellbutrin (300mg); it seemed to speed up my metabolism. I'm now almost not on any meds--I've been taking Wellbutrin (150mg) and Zoloft (50mg) sporadically, like every few days, for awhile now. (I know that's not how you're technically supposed to go off of antidepressants but it seems fine for me so far.) Anyways, tonight I went to the gym and weighed myself (yes, it was nighttime) and I weighed 140lbs. This really freaked me out. I can't remember ever weighing more than 138lbs in my life. The weird thing is that I wasn't expecting to weigh so much more than when I last weighed myself a few months ago and was in the low to mid 130's. A month ago for about 5 weeks I did couch to 5k and probably gained some muscle from that. Other than that, my exercise and diet hasn't been too different. My pants are tighter than they were, for sure, but I can still wear the pants that I wore at my slimmest.

I guess I'm asking, is this just regular ol' eating-too-many-calories, not-exercising-enough, being-off-Wellbutrin weight gain? Or might some of it be from muscle gain from couch to 5k?

And part two, more importantly, any advice on how not to get obsessive about my weight now would be really helpful. I'm much happier when I don't think too hard or too much about my diet or my weight and generally that mindset helps my body to be the weight it needs to be, anyway. In recent years I've gained some calmness and rationality when it comes to my body and weight but right now I'm freaked out and scared of going down the weight-obsession rabbit hole again. How can I prevent this from happening and also lose some weight?
posted by tacoma1 to Health & Fitness (32 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Stop weighing yourself.

And therapy.
posted by too bad you're not me at 5:30 PM on December 22, 2010

Sorry if that was a bit glib, but as someone who also struggles with these issues, it makes it worse if you're obsessing over a pound or two or three. Go by how you feel, how your clothes fits, and by examining your habits. Don't be a slave to the scale.
posted by too bad you're not me at 5:32 PM on December 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

Step 1: Stop weighing yourself.

You're not a number. Your body is not a number. Look at your body and appreciate it. Stop looking at a number and judging your body based on what you see on the scale. Feel yourself with your hands, use a mirror to look at all your parts, and use your whole rig regularly and with vigor. But don't put it on a scale, because reducing your body to a number is the easiest way to slip into stress about your body.
posted by carsonb at 5:34 PM on December 22, 2010 [3 favorites]

What time of day was this? Were you wearing gym sneakers? Are you menstruating? Are you dehydrated?

There's 8 million reasons why and I wouldn't stress.
posted by floweredfish at 5:36 PM on December 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

Also, your body will change with age. It's weight will shift, parts will creak, and skin will sag. Taking pride in what you've got isn't about what the world can see; it's about how you feel.
posted by carsonb at 5:37 PM on December 22, 2010 [3 favorites]

And also, scales in gyms are not, in my experience, well-calibrated or reliable. You can only really compare weights on the same scale, at the same time of day, wearing the same amount of clothing.
posted by Andrhia at 5:40 PM on December 22, 2010 [4 favorites]

Are you going off the medicine per doctor instruction? It seems like you should definitely speak to your therapist/psychiatrist/doctor about that, as changing your medication can have varied effects, including the kind of thoughts you are having. You are not being reasonable here; you gained less than 10lbs, and your skinny clothes still fit you. See your special-snowflake doctor.
posted by two lights above the sea at 5:43 PM on December 22, 2010

Not weighing yourself is a big help in not obsessing about your weight. It's not just good for those of us who are actually recovering from eating disorders!

Weight is not a behavior. If you feel like your current food and exercise behaviors are healthy for you, keep them up. If you want to change those behaviors, change them. If you're going to obsess about your scale weight, maybe scales aren't a helpful tool for you in monitoring your behavior.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:46 PM on December 22, 2010

So you've stopped regularly taking your meds, and now suddenly you're feeling anxious and obsessive and "freaked out" about your weight? Consider that perhaps your once-every-few-days regimen is not working quite as well for you as you think it is. And yeah, stop weighing yourself.
posted by embrangled at 5:46 PM on December 22, 2010 [20 favorites]

Don't worry about the scale. Inches, not pounds, are what really matter, not to mention what fat to muscle ratio might say. If you are healthy, your clothes fit well, and you are eating sensibly and exercising, you are fine.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:48 PM on December 22, 2010

I agree with the advice to stop weighing yourself. You're in the healthy weight range, and you fit into the same pants. Could it be muscle gain? Definitely. But in any case, it's not psychologically healthy to be so focused on it.

If you've had eating issues in the past, the very last thing you should do is diet - it's incredibly triggering for most people who have struggled with disordered eating.
posted by insectosaurus at 5:52 PM on December 22, 2010

Newsflash: A lot of people gain wait as they get older. You just can't eat as much.

When I was in my early twenties, I could clean out the buffet and not give a damn. Now in my forties, it seems like I gain five pounds if I so much as contemplate ordering desert.
posted by mikeand1 at 5:55 PM on December 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I'm going to chime in with the stop weighing yourself camp, especially if you have a history of obsessing about your weight. If you have one in your house, get rid of that too. The first thing any shrink ever told me to do was get rid of the bathroom scale (I struggled for a long time with an eating disorder and excessively obsessing over my weight). God, I remember I used to weigh myself over 30 times a day!

You should be going by inches, not pounds and the fact that you are healthy is a very good thing. Trust me, I know how hard it is trying not to obsess over your weight, but as long as you're still wearing your clothes when you were at your thinnest, you're fine.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 5:56 PM on December 22, 2010

I totally understand the freaking out. But remember that the difference between 133 and 140 could be your clothes, or pms, or what you ate and drank during the day, or all of those. It's hard to remember that and not get depressed by the number - that's why I try not to weigh myself unless it's under optimal conditions (not at night, not after eating a bunch of olives, etc.)
posted by DestinationUnknown at 6:08 PM on December 22, 2010

Response by poster: This is all extremely helpful--thank you. I mostly needed a reality check. I appreciate the advice to not weigh myself, which I normally don't, and also to reconsider going off meds. To obsess a little more, though (because I'm still halfway there), the pants that at my slimmest were loose fitting are now wearable but sometimes too tight to really be comfortable. Oh well.
posted by tacoma1 at 6:11 PM on December 22, 2010

I am in the same boat, almost with exactly the same stats, except I've definitely gained. I'm also taking meds --- but keep taking those meds! Seriously, like someone said above, it could be your sporadic med taking that's causing the freakouts. On a side note, I had a few friends who randomly dropped their meds and said they were fine fine fine, who needs psychiatrists anyway, and then panicked about some random thing somewhere down the line. Connection? I think so.

At any rate, I totally know where you're coming from, and I think a lot of people in their late 20s, early 30s use age as an excuse when they're really eating more and working out less. More work parties with food, more fancy dinners rather than just going out for a late slice when we were younger. There's nothing wrong with being interested in maintaining your weight. However, this is a small gain and you shouldn't worry too much. I'm planning on trying a nutritionist to try to help me plan meals and also to just put the matter in someone else's hands a bit. Also, definitely definitely weighing myself less.
posted by sweetkid at 6:31 PM on December 22, 2010

>>A month ago for about 5 weeks I did couch to 5k and probably gained some muscle from that.

I think that could account for the gain of a few pounds.

Also, I completely agree with what everyone else said.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:35 PM on December 22, 2010

Okay dude, there's no way that it's muscle gain. Sorry. A woman who is working her hardest to lift weights and gain muscle could gain maybe one or two pounds of muscle in a month. What's more likely is that doing C25K increased your appetite so you ended up eating more than usual without noticing. It's very very common in novice runners and leads to a slight weight gain that is often [ridiculously] attributed to "muscle". Please, please don't stress about it -- but don't call it muscle, either.
posted by telegraph at 7:03 PM on December 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm much happier when I don't think too hard or too much about my diet or my weight and generally that mindset helps my body to be the weight it needs to be, anyway.

Me too! And now I'm 48 years old, and obese.

Late twenties marks the start of that stage in your life where you'll begin to notice a desire to yell at those pesky kids partying on your lawn. This is essentially driven by envy. Little bastards just have no idea how easy they've got it.

Don't worry about getting fatter. Concentrate on staying physically fit, and get in the habit of asking yourself whether you're actually hungry before putting whatever that is in your mouth. I'm sure I'd be better off now, had I followed that advice in my own late twenties.
posted by flabdablet at 7:08 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Scales at the gym are notorious for making you seem heavier than you actually are so that you keep coming back and paying them.

Also, I weigh 2-3 lbs more at night than I do in the morning for some weird reason...maybe you do too?

Salt, not enough water, too much water, lots of little chemistry things can affect weight--having nothing to do with the actual fat content in your body.
posted by katypickle at 7:14 PM on December 22, 2010

Wellbutrin is known for being weight-neutral as far as anti-depressants go, and Zoloft is not. It isn't worth getting off them. Life is short, dip your bread in olive oil and let chocolate tickle your tongue often.
posted by ~Sushma~ at 7:27 PM on December 22, 2010

I was pretty much you - 5'1", 118 pounds, also on anti-depressants that kept the weight off--lucky, in a sense, because most medications like that can make you gain weight, or make it hard to lose it. Everything was great all the way til I turned 30, and then the pounds started packing on. I had to really alter how much I ate. Since I can't speak to your very specific situation, all I can tell you is that 30 is about when women start to put on pounds, medication or not, exercise or not. Our metabolisms just do what they do, and we have to change what we do if we want to stay in our preferred weight range.

Personally, I think therapy can help, especially when that "extra" ten pounds or so isn't even remotely as horrible as you think it is. You've spoken of body issues, so yes, I understand the mindset, but I bet anything that you look lovely, and it's the distorted fun-house mirror in your brain that is making you think otherwise.
posted by tzikeh at 7:47 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hi. You're right in that Wellbutrin seems to speed up the metabolism.

When I stopped taking Wellbutrin a year or two ago, my body 'reset' itself appetite-wise, and I started gaining weight. Part of that was that I had an appetite again, so I indulged where before I would have skipped the meal. The other part was that food tasted *good* again, so I found that enjoyed it a lot more. Consequently, I ate a lot more, and the waistline responded accordingly. And yes, the weight gain startled me as well.

However, now I'm OK with it. Because, yes - bodies change as you get older, and I actually feel a lot healthier at my current weight than at my skinnier one. Plus, my weight gain has primarily stopped. I'd discuss this with your doctor, and get back on a steady drug regimen.
posted by spinifex23 at 8:19 PM on December 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm exactly your size (and your age). I'm not fat. By any standard. Even among very body-conscious friends and family, I'm described as tiny, petite, skinny, etc. So are you. Stop. Just stop.

One thing I did that convinced me to let go of the self-hate was to track my eating habits for a few weeks. After my third week at an exactly average BMI, pretty much burning all the calories I consumed and getting all the nutrients a person needs, I decided that this was all mega-boring and I would rather be doing something fun with my scarce free time. I highly recommend this approach.

If your usual clothes fit and your doctor isn't concerned, you should ignore all the "ladies should hate themselves" crap and just live your life. If you find that you can't, I would recommend seeing a therapy about body image issues.
posted by Sara C. at 8:41 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I went back on birth control a few months ago and gained 15 pounds in 5 weeks. How that is even possible is beyond me. Anyways, I stopped taking it and am verrrry slowly losing the weight. Medications can have some really weird effects on your body.

As far as any body issues go my plan is to lose the damn weight by working out and watching what I eat very carefully for a few months. Once I am back to normal size (I also barely fit in my pants) I think I will feel a lot more positive about my physique! As one component of that plan I now take the dog running instead of for a short walk before work every day. It was -5 degrees F this morning at 6am so if that's not motivation to meet my goals I don't know what is. then again, I'm a lazy slacker by nature so I need goals or I'll just make excuses and lay on the couch.
posted by fshgrl at 9:59 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Forgot to add: I am not getting freaked out and obsessive because I have a reasonable, doable plan to attain a goal that I know I can achieve and that will make me happy and will improve my quality of life and reduce day to day stress once I achieve it ( won't have to hunt for work clothes that still fit every morning!) I made the plan, wrote it down and now I can follow it slavishly and I don't have to think about it anymore. That always helps me not obsess. I'm not going to lose 15 pounds just by obsessing about it after all (sadly).
posted by fshgrl at 10:02 PM on December 22, 2010

In agreement with all of the above, don't freak out.

In general I think people tend to weigh more later in the day due to all the food, water, etc. you've taken in that the body hasn't had a chance to process/expel yet. I know personally I tend to weigh a good 2-4 pounds more in the evenings at times when I've weighed myself then, and again the next morning.

Generally, they say weigh yourself first thing in the morning after you've used the bathroom, but before taking in any foods or liquids. So it could very well be you are in your expected range anyway.

So again, don't freak out. And don't get into a cycle of continually weighing yourself until you see a number you like - that just asks for issues, imo.
posted by 1901gunner at 4:36 AM on December 23, 2010

Just a bit of simplified math about all this: it takes consuming an extra/unused 3500 calories to gain one pound. If you gained 4 lbs since 4 months ago, you may have just upped your calories the tiniest bit! 3500 extra calories over one month is just 116 extra calories a day -- the daily equivalent of one soda/juice or one cookie or one coffee with milk and cream.

When my weight starts creeping up, it's always because I've started up some barely-noticeable new pattern like that. It's actually very hard to eat and exercise so consistently that you maintain weight perfectly, without eating exactly the same thing every day. In the end, the best thing is just to notice how the clothes are fitting and, if you feel they are getting tight, just avoid extras like juice and alcohol and desserts for a little while.
posted by xo at 8:42 AM on December 23, 2010

I don't get on the scale for this exact reason. It's like just deforms my perspective for days even when I'm otherwise feeling happy.

I couldn't agree more with what spinifex23 said above. I went through a weird skinny period in my twenties when I was depressed. Being skinny was the ONLY perk though, everything else was shit. When I essentially got out of the depression, I gained weight, even though I started exercising more and feeling better, and went back to essentially the way I looked when I was 19 – healthy and curvy, but not skinny. Food tasted better, I wanted to cook more, I wanted to hang out with people again, and that must have just naturally caused me to put back on weight. Plus I stopped being as self conscious about what everybody thought, and was like, whateva!! FOOD!!!

About being the size I was at 19, I asked my doc about this once, and he said the body type you had at 18 or 19 probably most closely resembles what your type/weight is most naturally (assuming you were never really heavy or insanely skinny or otherwise unhealthy.) So, I'm just saying, in my opinion, unless you were naturally super skinny at one point in your life, you may just be leveling off after a period of depression. You're body is probably readjusting, and late 20s are different also than your 22 year old body or even your 25 year old body.

Also the scale could have been off. Plus, I would imagine you were not exercising much for that period of depression, which probably caused you to lose some muscle, which may just be back on naturally.
posted by Rocket26 at 10:07 AM on December 23, 2010

Also, because you threw in the question at the end "how can i lose some weight" my advice on this: Try just letting yourself be completely normal for awhile, eat what you want, stop self monitoring, etc. Don't try to lose weight right now. That's going to to trigger the weight-obsession rabbit hole, for the worse.
posted by Rocket26 at 10:33 AM on December 23, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone; this all helped for sure.

And Rocket26, thank you especially, for the very good advice and because I know who you are (not to sound creepy or anything) and you're the best in real life and on metafilter. xoxo.
posted by tacoma1 at 3:12 PM on December 23, 2010

I'm in my late 20's,

Not to be glib, but this could be the answer, period. Most women experience a change in metabolism and weight-distribution right around the age of 30.
posted by desuetude at 4:09 PM on December 24, 2010

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