Getting through an uncomfortable weight change or fluctuation
October 20, 2018 5:43 PM   Subscribe

If you've ever recovered from disordered eating or an eating disorder and had to get through weight fluctuations and changes... what, aside from therapy, helped you get through this period?

My disordered eating (restrictive eating) led me to gain weight despite having multiple negative health consequences traditionally associated with weight loss, such as losing my menstrual cycle. I've eaten normally for the past six months, which has been so life-changing. I've even recently regained my period. But now I am in a body that is so uncomfortably large- I feel physically uncomfortable, don't fit any of my clothing / had to buy new clothing, and I am dreading this upcoming holiday season when I'll see family.

There are numerous websites and youtube videos and papers suggesting that weight "overshoot" is a necessary occurrence for the body to restore various functions after starvation or malnutrition, and that patients usually go back to their pre-starvation weight after a year or two, but given how individual bodies are, I worry that maybe my body will stay forever in this uncomfortable state. Despite this, I know that restricting my food is not an option at this point and my intuitive sense is that I will just have to keep eating and let my body figure out what it needs to do. By the way, my disordered eating did not have anything to do with distorted body image or even a desire to lose weight, so the weight I have gained is true weight and not a reflection of any body dysmorphia.

If you've ever had to go through an uncomfortable change in your body, even if not directly eating or weight-related (say you went on a medication or had an operation or something) what helped you get through it? If you've gone through an eating disorder or disordered eating and recovered, when did the discomfort subside, and what helped?
posted by fernweh to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
My weight has gone up and down due to health issues, medications, depression, etc. Right now I'm gaining weight and it's a little uncomfortable for me.

It helps to make a point of having comfortable clothes that make me feel good, to look at women of diverse sizes glamming it up, and to get a moderate amount of enjoyable exercise - over the summer I was doing strength training for about 30 minutes twice a week, and this fall I switched to a dance class. It has zero impact on my weight but it reminds me that my body is here for my use and pleasure. It is the thing that allows me to encounter the world - remembering this helps me to be grateful for my body regardless of what size I happen to be.
posted by bunderful at 6:31 PM on October 20, 2018 [6 favorites]

I came here to say: clothes that are comfortable and that I feel good in, and, if possible, any kind of exercise I enjoy that helps me feel good in my body. So basically what bunderful said.
posted by Orlop at 7:38 PM on October 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

Look outside your normal box.... Chunky knits you may have loved before, may not, now. Be open to everything.

Try tons of shit on.
posted by kiwi-epitome at 7:45 PM on October 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

I know this is not the same, but pregnancy has made me feel like this. I’m due any day and I’m really struggling now with my body image. So I’m can’t yet answer about when the discomfort subsided.

Things that help: new clothes, new makeup, getting a nice haircut, posting nice photos of myself on Instagram, exercise, looking in the mirror instead of avoiding it (this gets me “used to” my new shape), confiding my feelings to loved ones for their support, getting rid of all clothes that are unlikely to fit even after birth (knowing I can and will get new ones if I slim down again), thinking about the time saved by not counting calories, making new recipes that I wouldn’t have ever made before, eating healthy foods in larger quantities than before, telling myself why this is happening and why it’s good over and over (in my case I’m growing a human, in your case you are getting healthier and stopped a pattern that was unhealthy and unsustainable long term), other health self-care (going to the dentist or the optometrist, making sure all my other health care is optimised).

Would being under the care of a nutritionist help too if you aren’t already? Peace of mind helps too (for me just going to my routine midwife appointments helped me know I was doing everything right and was healthy).
posted by peanut butter milkshake at 8:05 PM on October 20, 2018 [3 favorites]

I went through pretty much the exact same thing this year and definitely overshot my previous lifetime-high-weight and it is uncomfortable, but about three months into hitting a minimum healthy weight it feels... still strange, but not entirely dysphoric. So it does get better, although part of it is the resigned thought that "oh my god, it would take so much energy to get back down to X weight." Another part of it is that in the total picture, I'd rather be uncomfortable with this than be where I was last year. I guess I'm afraid my answer is simply that my eating disorder stopped serving a function in my life because my life changed.
posted by ahundredjarsofsky at 12:15 AM on October 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh and I got a new wardrobe. Basically 25 shift dresses that are loose and light. No A-line fitted anything, please.
posted by ahundredjarsofsky at 12:16 AM on October 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

I suffered from a mild eating disorder (I say mild because I only lost my menstrual cycle for a few months, but uh, I may be downplaying it). I'm not sure when the discomfort fully subsided because it was so gradual.

If you haven't already, donate (or sell) everything in your wardrobe that doesn't fit you anymore, even (especially!) anything that you can kinda still fit into. Nothing makes me feel worse about my body than clothing I have to squeeze into. This is an opportunity to build a new wardrobe of only things you love! It's exciting! (Even if it doesn't feel that way now). This is also an opportunity to try out new styles that didn't flatter you before.

If trying on clothes is uncomfortable because they don't fit like they used to, try to remember that it's the clothing's fault - not yours - if it doesn't fit. Working at a jean store (it's sooo hard to find jeans that fit) trying to find the right styles for customers really drilled the truth of this home to me. Don't underestimate the value of a good tailor, either.

Exercise such as yoga can make you feel more in touch with your body. Over time, it can also help you realize that you have strength/stamina you didn't have when you were malnourished. Meditation that focuses on awareness of the body, or walking meditation, can also make you feel more at home in your body.

Seconding taking care of your body in other ways - getting a haircut, going to the dentist, getting a medical checkup, etc.

Definitely just keep eating and let your body figure out what it needs to do. Maybe your weight will stay the same, maybe it won't. Let it take its time, and be kind to it in the meantime.
posted by ersatzhuman at 12:11 PM on October 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

Great suggestions above. Another idea that has helped me has been seeking out diverse, body-positive, and fat positive media sources (and to cut back on sources promoting diet culture). There are many great books, social media accounts, and TV sources for this!
posted by pril at 4:40 PM on October 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yesterday I started reading Stacey London’s “The Truth About Style” - she discusses exactly this. Including being very open about her own eating disorders.
posted by bunderful at 7:56 AM on October 22, 2018

The two things that have been most helpful to me in dealing with a vastly different body post-anorexia (I'm on the small end of fat now, after being very underweight) were mentioned above, but I'll co-sign:

* Finding social media accounts that feature beautiful, happy, comfortable people of all sizes and abilities and ethnicities, and
* Buying comfortable clothes I can fit into and jettisoning anything that's too small or uncomfortable

It's really true that "fat is not a feeling" -- you may feel bloated, or you may feel like your pants are too tight, but you're not "feeling fat." Comfortable and flattering clothes are a huge help.

Oh, and if you are in an area served by Amazon Prime: I ordered a shit ton of stuff from there, found things I liked, sent the rest back, and then ordered my favorites in a bunch of different colors. No going to the mall, no trying things on in the fitting room (a pretty common trigger).
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:37 AM on October 22, 2018

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