Holy Cow, What a Beautiful Number.
In normal circumstances, it would be quite distressing for a five foot six inch woman to weigh 101 pounds. And believe me, it WAS distressing when I hit this number on my way down to a significantly smaller number.
But this time, I am hitting 101 on the way back up. This is a milestone on several levels. First, I’m finally back in triple digits for the first time in years. Second, I’ve now gained back half the weight I lost when my digestion shut down seven years ago.
At times, I feel my weight gain is painstakingly slow. But putting it into context helps. I’ve been losing weight for 7 years, and I’ve gained half of it back in seven months. It’s pretty good when you look at it that way, huh?
You are probably wondering how I finally started to gain weight. After seven years of intense effort to heal my gut I made some progress, but never enough that would allow me to consume and digest enough calories to maintain my weight. The result was a slow march of weight off my body to the point I looked emaciated.
Finally, with the help of an amazingly knowledgable and compassionate nutritionist named Ashley, I transitioned to a mostly liquid diet in mid-May of 2016. Ashley turned me on to a special protein powder called Absorb Plus that is considered elemental, which means it is basically pre-digested. As a result, my intestines don’t really need to do any work, they simply need to absorb.
Each Absorb Plus shake packs a whopping 500 calories, which is far more food than I could consume in one setting. After a little trial and error, I settled into a routine that goes like this:
- Shake for breakfast
- Shake for lunch
- ½ shake for an afternoon snack
- Real food for dinner
- ½ shake for “dessert”
In this manner, I consume 1,500 calories per day from the shakes, plus what I get from dinner.
I decided to eat real food for dinner for a number of reasons. First, I just couldn’t fathom the idea of not chewing actual food at least once per day. Second, I wanted to keep my digestive tract acquainted with the task of processing real food. Finally, I love food and I love to cook, and I make dinner for my family every night, and I just couldn’t imagine all that cooking without any eating.
I was initially skeptical about the liquid diet, because I’ve tried all manner of protein powders and pureed foods in the past, and never found success. Most protein powders made me feel excessively full, and I could never get enough calories from pureed food.
But, I was literally at rock bottom with my weight, so I felt Absorb Plus shakes were my only option.
The shakes gave me stomach aches for about the first two weeks, but then my GI symptoms started to slowly recede. And when I ate real food for dinner I felt better than I used to, most likely because my GI system was less taxed due to the liquid diet.
After seven months on Absorb Plus, I am no longer dealing with daily GI symptoms that include excessive fullness, nausea, stomach aches, and the general feeling of carrying a bowling ball in my abdomen.
I am so relieved to have less GI distress and more weight, but there are still many unanswered questions. Namely, do I feel better because the liquid diet helped my GI tract heal in some way? Or do I feel better because my GI tract simply wasn’t up to the task of digesting real food? Will I ever be able to maintain my weight without Absorb Plus?
These questions are unanswerable at present, and in a way the answers are not important now. For now the most important thing is to keep doing what I’m doing until I weigh more.
One day at a time. One shake at a time. Watch me grow. Watch me heal.