Waking Up 20 Pounds Heavier: How My Weight Gain Woke Me Up


Losing weight is not about numbers, dieting, and exercising alone. There is an emotional component at play as well that can make or break your success.

I have always been the petite, skinny girl – the one you love to hate. Sometimes it was because I was eating healthfully and exercising; other times it was because I was being unkind to my body and not eating enough. Oh, and I am one of those “lucky” individuals who loses her appetite whenever she is overly stressed.

So, as my pants began to get snug and eventually wouldn’t fit at all, I imagined I must have gained a few pounds. This seemed reasonable since I had been unemployed for over a year, had been cooking and eating quite a bit more, and I had not been exercising much.

But when I finally stepped on a scale, I was completely unprepared emotionally for what I would see. I had gained a whopping 20 pounds in two years. No wonder I had a muffin top. No wonder nothing fit.

It was a rude awakening, but it was still an awakening. A powerful one.

Somehow I had remained in denial that my waisteline was expanding quite so much. Somehow I had convinced myself that I was bloated, PMSing, constipated, or that I had only gained a few pounds that would magically drop off by themselves. Unfortunately, none of these fantasies were true, of course, and it took seeing that in numbers, on the scale, for me to realize that I had to do something about my weight gain. In this process, I have discovered a few things that I hope will help you if you suspect that you, too, need to shed a few pounds.

It Must Come From Within

During the course of my weight gain, my boyfriend was the only brave enough soul to make an occasional comment (in love) about the snugness of my clothes. When I snapped at him and lunged into a self-denial rage one too many times, he learned to never utter a word about my weight again.

My sister dropped hints occasionally by asking if I was still doing Yoga or Pilates or if I had become too busy to do my exercise routines. These questions would ordinarily find their way into a conversation shortly after I’d email her a recent picture.

Although I knew that I was gaining weight, until I decided that enough was enough and I wanted to change, there was nothing that anyone could say that would motivate me.

You will know when you are ready. Prompting from others may plant seeds, but the real motivation will come from within. If you have an inkling of motivation in you, start with that. If it means just cutting back on some junk food or fast food, start there. You don’t have go radical and extreme overnight. You don’t have to start training for a marathon.

Just take it moment by moment. Listen to your intuition about ways in which you can start making small changes. Consider consulting with a hypnotherapist if you feel that you need support getting past subconscious roadblocks.

There is Only One Diet that Works

Weight management boils down to one, very simple, mathematical equation:

Your Daily Calories In (consumed) minus Your Daily Calories Out (burned off).

  • If your calculation yields “0,” then there is no effect on your weight.
  • If you have a negative number, this number represents the amount of calories you have shed.
  • If you have a positive number, this is the amount of extra calories that you’ve consumed that will take residence on your belly, hips, and other areas.

Each person has his or her own, unique, individual needs, so consulting with a nutritionist is a great way to tailor an eating plan that will work for you. Find out what your daily caloric needs are so that you can create an eating plan accordingly. Also, consult with your physician about an exercise plan that will help you to achieve your weight loss or maintenance goals.

It is an Emotional Process

Losing weight is not about numbers, dieting, and exercising alone. There is an emotional component at play as well. Emotions may have contributed to your weight gain. Did you eat when you were bored? Lonely? Sad/Depressed?

Emotions also play a part in the process of our weight loss. If we feel depressed about our weight, it can either propel us into action or hold us back in a cycle of self-victimization. Realizing the amount of effort needed to lose the weight can be daunting, but breaking it down into smaller goals can help the psyche to cope more easily. If you have to lose 20 pounds, focus on dealing with 5 pounds initially and then 5 pound increments after that.

Other ways to support your emotional health during this process are to make slow, healthy changes rather than extreme, radical, all-or-nothing changes. These won’t last anyway. Also, enroll your support team. Let friends and family know what your goals and why you are choosing to embark on this journey. You may find a workout buddy in the process.

Don’t Give Up

There will inevitably be those days where you’ll feel like giving up. A good show in front of the television with a big bowl of ice cream will be calling your name. Loudly. When this happens, remember how hard you have been working. Keep healthy snacks around the house for times like these. Occasionally have a few bites of your favorite not-so-healthy sweet so you don’t feel deprived.

Remember that this goal takes time and energy. We live in a world of instant gratification, where results are usually seen in seconds at the touch of a button or two. The reality is, a goal like getting in shape grounds us and wakes us up to the fact that we are human underneath it all. Treat yourself with kindness, love, and respect, and stick to your goals. You’ll be so happy when you fit back into those skinny jeans!

This article is for reference only and is not a substitute for medical or psychological advice. Consult with your physician before starting any exercise or diet plan.


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