I Don’t Do This Often.
I am way too thin. I weigh less than my lean, healthy 15-year-old daughter. Never good.
I’ve tried everything to gain weight, but it’s not happening. I have three things working against me:
- I’m naturally lean. It was hard to gain weight even when I was healthy.
- My shredded digestive tract isn’t properly breaking down and absorbing the food I eat.
- My intestines move slowly (called a motility disorder), which means I cannot eat as much food as I’d like because I get unnaturally full from small volumes.
People have interesting reactions to a person trying to gain weight. Many see it as “cry me a river problem”. I’ve had many people say it’s a problem they’d like to have, and numerous people have offered me their excess weight (which I’d gladly accept if there were a way).
I’m here to tell you trying to gain weight is every bit is difficult, frustrating and anxiety provoking as trying to lose it.
For this reason, I don’t weigh myself often. Once or twice a month at most. I stopped weighing for a number of reasons. First, I realized it wasn’t helping anything. I do the best I can every single day, and either that will lead to weight gain or it won’t.
Second, I realized weight is the wrong endgame. Health is the ultimate endgame. When I regain my health, I will regain the weight.
If I only focus on my weight I won’t feel like I’m making any progress. But when I take stock on how far I’ve come in terms of the variety and volume of foods I can digest, I can see I’m moving forward.
There was a time when there were only 9 foods in all of the world I could easily digest. Last night I went out to dinner with my daughter and had the following:
- A house salad to start.
- An entree of salmon, carrots and zucchini. I ate the full restaurant sized portion.
- I finished the meal off with two home made cookies and a latte.
I don’t weigh any more than I did when I could only eat 9 foods. But last night I ate a meal of normal variety in a normal portion. And I had a latte, which is significant. It literally took years to be able to tolerate coffee again. I only feel up to coffee once or twice a month, but it’s better than not at all.
The best part is I felt fine after the meal and the coffee.
I may still be skinny, but that’s progress.
I know many people worry about my weight, and I don’t blame them. I’m pretty bony. Seeing me in a bathing suit can be unnerving.
But my physical appearance hides the healing and progress that’s going on internally. My digestive tract is slowly healing. I am making progress. It’s agonizingly slow. But it’s progress. I couldn’t eat. Now I can. I couldn’t drink water. Now I can.
But if my progress is going to be measured solely by how much I weigh, it’s not going to look like I’m getting anywhere. And focusing on it only negates the blood, sweat and tears I’ve put in every day since I got sick.
My Mayo Clinic doctors would not have predicted I would ever eat a meal like I did last night. But I did it. And I will do it again. And again. And again. I am defying the odds they gave me six years ago and will continue to do so until I am better than anybody ever imagined I could be.
No matter how much I weigh.