Time to panic

When you’ve been fat, thin, and fat again, weight gain of any amount is a source of anxiety. It just is. Everyone else can stand rationally on the sidelines pointing out that there are reasons for weight fluctuations such as eating too much salt one day or maybe it’s that time in your cycle (clearly I’m only talking about women here), etc., etc. They smile and assure you that the number will go down again in a few days.

Yes. We KNOW all that! Jeez! We’re not beginners here. We know about daily fluctuations, and how eating some fries or chips on a day can weigh you down a couple of days later. But still. But still. Only former fatties can fully appreciate the frightening experience bigger numbers on a scale convey.

And that’s just a couple of pounds. What happened to me last week describes a whole new level of fear. From one day to the next a four pound weight gain appeared on my scale, and I knew it was time to panic. There is nothing, nothing I tell you that can explain why that happened. Nothing that can make me be calm and believe all will be well anyway. I’m talking out of control panic. I’m talking about being near tears in the gym of all places. I’m talking about considering every extreme option that I’ve already considered and discarded. And I was completely justified in those feelings and my ridiculous acting out. I don’t care what anyone thinks or says. Panic is justified on days like that.

When you’re in the ‘thin state,’ mysterious weight gain is a sign that things might be going very wrong. Especially when it comes on fast and big like four pounds in a day. Even reading that now makes my heart race with anxiety.

Yes, I’m very aware that it’s virtually impossible to gain an actual four pounds in one day especially when it seems to come from a single plate of French fries. But then it did another impossible thing and hung on for a second day. When the scale says the same number two days in a row, it takes on a reality for me. That’s not just a fluke like I was hoping it was. Four pounds is no joke and nothing to be calm about.

When I calmed down and was honest with myself I had to acknowledge the reality that the previous couple of weeks I hadn’t been eating that well and more than I had been in previous weeks. Also, I am a woman and the whole time of the month thing was nearly upon me. Maybe there were factors I should consider, but all of that is something for the rational mind. Weight gain for me is never going to live in that part of my brain. It is always going to be a reason to berate myself and I’m sorry to say, outright hate myself.

My friends who know me and have accepted this part of me realize that they cannot talk me off the cliff easily. They make gentle attempts, but they know they just have to wait me out. I will come around. I will see that this gain is not permanent, and in fact on the third day I was back down two pounds, and the next day I was back at my normal weight. I still don’t understand exactly what happened. I can only try to remember this moment and use it to try and get back on my path of mostly healthful eating.

But I don’t hold it against myself anymore that I spiral out of control so quickly when something like that happens. It’s ok. It’s normal for people like me. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re being irrational. You already know that probably. What others have to learn about people like us is that panic and irrational self-hatred is sometimes all that we have to keep us from falling off the good eating wagon into a pile of cookies and chips. It’s depressing but true. True for me at least.

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