April 18, 2020

How I Gained 45 Pounds in 2 Years


I've been writing a lot lately about my "recent" weight gain (I can't even really say "recent" anymore, because it's been over the last couple of years. In December 2017, I was at about 133, my goal weight. Fast forward to now, a few months into 2020, and I'm at 179--the most I've weighed since early 2010.

(If you're new here, you can read about my weight loss and then gains and losses since then here.)

As I've written several times, I've been struggling with this weight gain quite a bit lately. I've been doing a lot of introspection about why I've gained so much weight in the last couple of years, and I'm pretty sure I've narrowed it down. (I wrote about finally facing the scale here)

Here is a photo from December 2017 versus now:



Thoughts on my reasons for weight gain:

Mainly--Stress. I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself, but also with Jerry's change in work schedule, my life was thrown for a huge loop and I feel extremely overwhelmed much of the time.

Actually, "overwhelmed" couldn't be a more fitting word for what I felt in 2019.

When Jerry's work schedule changed, he started working straight days instead of swing shift (where he would work nights for a month, followed by days for a month, and repeat). When he would work nights, I got a lot of help from him as far as driving the kids around; but when he switched to day shift, I've been doing it all myself, and I feel like I live in my car. (The Covid quarantine has changed things, but I'll get to that.)

I also used to get time to myself in the evenings. The kids would go to bed at 10:00 pm, and Jerry would be working nights, so I'd have time to do what I wanted--watch TV, read a book, work on my blog or a craft, etc. When he switched to day shift, he's home every evening. (No, we don't have to spend that time together--but I really do like spending time with him! Now, I've resorted to staying up way too late after he goes to bed.)

I have always struggled with insomnia, too. But it has gotten so much worse since he's been sleeping in the bed with me every day. Jerry sleeps like a rock the second his head hits the pillow; but I toss and turn all night. I never realized (until recently) just how much the lack of quality sleep affects me.

I was starting to feel like I was reaching a breaking point just before the Covid outbreak. I was really getting concerned for my mental health, because I was feeling so stressed and overwhelmed... and I was eating to make myself feel better. Ice cream was my way to de-stress, and it (clearly) wreaked havoc on my weight.

I had also quit drinking for all of 2019 as a challenge to myself--because drinking wine would help me relax, and I didn't want it to become a problem--and when I quit drinking, I started eating more to fill that "void".

Until a couple of years ago, I never felt stress like I did the past couple of years. Yes, there were periods where I felt overwhelmed as a mom and wife; but those passed in a relatively short amount of time. The past two years, however, have just kept going and going.

This Covid quarantine, as horrible as it is--please understand that I am not at all trying to trivialize how devastating this has been for all of the thousands of people that have been affected--has changed things quite a bit as far as my stress levels go. Because I am at home all day, I finally feel the freedom to do things I really enjoy without feeling like a bad mom or wife or daughter or sister or aunt.

This quarantine isn't going to last forever (at least I hope not!) so I'm taking advantage of the de-stressing while I can. I am doing crafts I enjoy, binge watching TV shows that have been on my list forever, playing games on my phone, and pretty much anything I feel like doing. My house isn't as clean as it probably should be, and the laundry piles up for a couple of days before I finally wash a load.

But I don't feel nearly the amount of stress that I did a couple of months ago. Back then, I kept thinking that I just needed time to stop for a while so I could just take a break and breathe before going again. And this is that break.

Still, I'm not making any progress to drop the weight I've gained. I think this is because I got so used to changing my good habits into bad habits over the last two years that I'm having a hard time getting back to those good habits.

In 2009-2010, it took a long time for me to develop those good habits! At first, I was still eating junk food, but I was eating less of it because I was willing to sacrifice food quantity in order to shed the pounds. Eventually, as I tried new foods in order to reduce the number of calories I was eating, I started to gravitate to healthier options (I still ate junk food, but most of the time I was eating relatively healthy).

I started eating oatmeal all the time, and I LOVED it; I ate fruit with lunch every day; I cooked a "normal" dinner and divided it into four portions, and then ate only one portion; I learned to love certain vegetables, particularly when roasting them; I never did learn to love salad or yogurt, but I still try them from time to time in order to see if that's changed. I even developed the habit of sticking to a running schedule, no matter what else I had going on. No excuses.

They were strong habits that developed when I didn't even notice.

Over the past two years or so, I've undone all of those habits that took me at least a year to develop. I don't like the thought of oatmeal for breakfast, or tuna sandwiches for lunch, or a piece of fruit for a snack. Cooking and meal planning have not been at the top of my priority list because those things are stressful to me.

Several people have suggested having my kids and Jerry cook once a week, and I like that idea. The kids need to learn that stuff anyway, and now is the perfect time for it.

Today, I wrote a meal plan for the week (I'm starting a new 3-3-1 plan on Sunday), and Jerry went grocery shopping. (I have to admit, it was SO HARD for me to let him do it--I am such a control freak--but he did great! I gave him a very specific list and he probably did it faster than I would have, haha.) And I have a couple of meals on there that I will have the kids cook.

So, to answer the question, in a nutshell, of how I gained about 45 pounds in the last 2 years:

1) Life changes as we get older. And I wasn't prepared to change with it.
2) I didn't learn how to manage stress in ways other than eating.
3) I stopped making time for myself, which only made me feel overwhelmed and unhappy.

Whether you can relate to this or not, I don't know. I just wanted to share my introspections and observations as to what caused this radical weight gain.

I feel desperate to gain control over my habits again, and I think I need to start by controlling my stress in healthy ways. I know that running has always helped with stress and anxiety, so starting my training plan for the Detroit Half will be helpful. Even though I know I'm not going to want to hop out of bed and into my running clothes, I will feel a million times better after getting in that run.

Making time for myself is crucial, and even after this quarantine, I am going to make sure to set aside time to do whatever I want--even if it's just binge watching a TV show.

Also, I felt really good about myself when I took the time to do my hair and make-up recently (and dress in something other than stretchy black pants and an oversized sweatshirt). When I need a boost, I can make sure to do that again. (It's not always practical, depending on what I'm doing that day--when I work in the garage, I end up pulling my hair up in a messy bun and wearing my "painting" clothes that I don't mind getting dirty.)

I really like the 3-3-1 approach (setting some goals to accomplish for just three days... then resetting and doing another three day session... and then taking a day off before starting over again). I don't know how long it will help going forward, but I can't believe the difference in my mood when I did the first round--I felt fantastic!

I know a lot of you are in the same boat I am, having lost a large amount of weight and then gaining some (or all) of it back--and I thank you so much for sharing that with me!--so hopefully we can get back to our healthy habits together. Identify the problem and look for ways to solve it!


16 comments:

  1. You put into words so many of my feelings. Thank you for sharing! Keep working on your goals and practice self-care! We can not pour from an empty cup. Take care and keep sharing.

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  2. I gained 25 lbs when my Dad died. I just ate my feelings and I didn't care. And then when I did care, I didn't know how to fix it. I kept doing that, "hard core diet where you lose 5-8 lbs, then get sick of it, quit and regain all of it or more". I actually have been on track since Covid-a bit before but I've managed it during and I've lost about 10 lbs. It really helps that I am breaking it into 2 lb goals per week. Doesn't matter, I just need to get 2 lbs off by the next week. For some reason that's made me feel less pressure. I think I felt like I needed to just get all the weight off immediately so the more weight I lost the better which obviously isn't sustainable long term. This is working and I hope it keeps working. I'd like to fit into some of my clothes that aren't stretchy by mid-summer.

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  3. I can so relate to your blog comments today. It's as if you were in my head. I will typically do well for a few months then go back to my old habits. I'm a stress eater at night and I have never found anything that has been able to replace de-stressing with food. I keep working at it though and love reading your blog as I feel at least I'm not alone in the struggle.

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  4. Hi Katie! I wanted to hop on here and tell you my story. Hopefully, it will resonate with you. I quit smoking 10 years ago. Before that, I had awful eating habits and never exercised. When I quit, I replaced cigarettes with food. I gained 30lbs in a year. In 2012 I joined WW and lost the weight; I also started running and found I loved it. But, life happened, I lost someone who had been close to me and I quickly regained 10lbs. I recommitted to WW in 2014 and lost the 10lbs. Then I got pregnant with my son. I gained 55lbs during my pregnancy. After having him, I slowly lost all but 10lbs, mostly WW and calorie counting. Then, between 2016 and 2018, I was losing and gaining the same 10lbs, never actually getting back to my "goal" weight (BTW, I'm still 10lbs above my goal; I don't know that I want to get back). In 2018, I was diagnosed with Stage IA breast cancer. WTF? No family history, and I was only 38. I gained 20lbs from the stress, overeating, and not exercising as much. Now, I'm cancer-free and since early last year I've been working on my thoughts. I've learned that external factors (WW, calorie counting) do help with weight loss, but until the internal factors are dealt with, the weight loss isn't maintained. I highly recommend the book The Rules of "Normal" Eating by Karen Koening. She goes into why thought work is the only way to change behavior. Also, the podcast Balance365 Life Radio is a great resource that focuses on behavior change, not dieting. I see so much of you in me. I'm finally at a place that I don't binge anymore, and I only occasionally overeat. Before I did this work, I was in a binge/restrict cycle all the time. I'd eat an entire bag of cereal (yes, I said bag, like the Malt O Meal bags) in one sitting, then I'd start WW or calorie counting the next day. It was an exhausting way to live. Now, I eat was feels good, much like you did in 2017. The freedom I've experienced giving up dieting has been such a relief on my mind. I still exercise daily, but now I walk instead of run. I started having problems with my knees, and had to be honest with myself if running was still serving me. It wasn't. I'm still 10lbs above my goal weight, but I'm happy. I believe in you Katie. I know you'll figure this out.

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  5. I can totally relate to the alone time! My husband is a professor, and he would teach 1-2 evening classes a week; I would have from when I got home to when I went to bed all to myself, usually trying to "treat myself" with an at-home facial. Now that he's working from home, there is no alone time, and it's a huge transition. I think at least recognizing where some of the stress/tension is coming from is a big step forward. Let's hope we can all adjust to this temporary new normal and then to whatever actual new normal follows. You've got a lot of cheerleaders out here reading your blog and rooting for you! :)

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  6. Yesterday was perfect day to be outside so I decided, for the first time in four years to run outside instead of the treadmill. It was so weird! I got winded right away and it was so much harder than I remember. I'll do it again today, but it sure won't be fast or last very long. I thought I was in good shape for my age...so much for that. And my legs hurt this morning.

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  7. Thanks so much for sharing your blog Katie, and for your willingness to be vulnerable with all of us. I am right there with you; and I am so frustrated that I have gained 25 pounds. I was pretty close to what I would consider my goal weight 10 years ago, and have slowly crept back up, not all the way to 235, which was my highest weight ever, but I am so fearful of going back there. I cant seem to get a handle on it. I have been dealing with a lot of stress too, moving several times in the last 2 years and all the stress that goes with selling houses, moving etc. We are moving again this month on the 30th and I told my husband.. this is the last one for me! I like the idea of 3 day goals, feels manageable. I have a tremendous fear of the scale so I struggle with how to monitor progress. But the best way for me to have success is by weighing in on a regular basis, either daily, weekly or twice a week. Any thoughts on how to overcome scale fears? I could really use some strategies. thanks and please keep posting.

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  8. I too am in the same boat and it sucks. I felt overwhelmed with 2 and 3 jobs 2 kids in sports. Felt like I was going non stop no time for me. Even with school being out the online learning is still making stress workout 2 jobs both of them are on the front lines of this virus. But I am starting tomorrow with a new workout plan and working on eating better this week. I'm tired of the number on the scale and tired of always having zero energy.

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  9. Well that's me. What worked once for me....having eggs in the am, salads for lunch and a healthy supper now almost feels repulsive to me. I literally had to take about a year break from eggs. I am an all or nothing kind of gal so when I am good I am very good but, once I am done, I'm done.

    And, there are definitely changes in life that certainly reflect my mood, motivation, and eating. Body changes and just wait til you hit menopause....hahaha! Oh, the fun then.....

    Rather than looking back at your lowest at one time make a new goal and be happy with that.

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  10. Katie...you are too hard on yourself. We are all works in progress. None of us are perfect. You are nearing a time in your life when all things change. Cut yourself some slack! Meantime, do teach the boys to cook. After all homeschooling has become the norm. They may as well learn how to budget, grocery shop and cook for themselves. There will come a time when they need to know. Meantime, teach them how to do laundry and lighten the load on yourself. I'm not saying they need to be responsible for doing it all but there is no reason why they couldn't learn how to do it and do it once in a while. Let them load the dishwasher, what can go wrong? So you might have to run that load a second time but...they will have a sense of purpose. I guess what I'm trying to say is you are a good person who is struggling. We all struggle at times and I think you do better for yourself if you just gave it a bit of thought. Chin up my friend! Better days are coming!

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  11. You are a very thoughtful, introspective person. I appreciate your honesty and vulnerability.

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  12. I love the 3-3-1 idea. It’s something manageable and in my mind could be something as small as “adding more fruit to my diet” or “go walk/run for 4 miles instead of 3”. My husband is head of finance for a company, so his amount of work hours/stress level has skyrocketed during quarantine. That leaves me to homeschooling & working remotely. Therefore, healthy eating and going to my regular exercise class have gone by the wayside. But, I think the 3-3-1 is a great start on the road back to healthier habits, so thanks for the idea.

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  13. I gained back about 50 lbs of the 125 I had lost. So I totally relate! In a way I’m glad I gained some because I’m trying to not be all or nothing about it (like I was near the end of my goal weight). Trying to be kinder to myself and deal with emotions this time. I’m coming to terms with just how deep the trauma that led to my eating disorder really is. Thanks for sharing! Your blog has always helped me feel less alone.

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  14. I love you Katie! I can totally relate- I am up about 30 pounds from my lowest (but probably not healthiest weight) in the last few years. I am so glad you are taking the time for yourself- and giving your family the opportunity to chip in, which is not easy to do!

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  15. Better to be course-correcting after gaining 45 pounds than 65 or 85, but I know that doesn't take the sting away. You obviously have what it takes to do it since you've done it before. I hope you are able to enjoy the journey back to your preferred weight. :)

    As an aside, I have hated yogurt my whole life but, like you, kept trying to like it. The closest I ever came to tolerating it was the whipped kind years ago, but I still couldn't get into it. Until now! After all of these years, I love yogurt and eat it every single day for breakfast! For me, it just took the right combination! I put Fage 2% Greek yogurt (170 g) in a bowl, top it with frozen blueberries (70 g), sprinkle oat & honey granola (18 g) on that, and then top it off with a big drizzle of clover honey (18 g). Best 293 calories of my day! I think the sweetness of the honey tames the sourness of the yogurt, which must have been part of my yogurt aversion. Just wanted to share in case you want to give yogurt one more shot. :)

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  16. remember and celebrate all the things and habits you still do well! even though you have some habits that didn't 100% stick please look at all the ones you still do! lots of your actions are supporting great habits. :) great post today. I also really enjoyed the funny post from the other day

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