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  • Writer's pictureColleen Bunten

How getting fat is changing my life (in the best way)

Updated: Nov 10, 2020

For most of my life, I was "lucky" enough to be naturally thin. I was always very active and on top of being an athlete (soccer and softball until 8th grade, dance from 2 years old to 18), my metabolism was incredible. I could eat and drink whatever I wanted and it wouldn't affect me at all. Oh, the good old days...

I was told often that I was "too skinny", that I needed to eat more. The phrase most used was "eat a cheeseburger" (which is hilarious, because I could POUND cheeseburgers like nobody's business!). I remember taking offense to it, because I DID eat. A LOT. Not the healthiest foods all the time (I was extremely picky), but food intake was never a concern for me or my loved ones. I once cried to my mom, saying, "Why is it okay for people to say someone is too thin, but if someone comments on someone who is overweight, it's insulting?" I still stand behind that.

In college, I wasn't as active, and also discovered that I liked beer, so naturally the ol' metabolism slowed down and I started putting on a little weight. I went from a size zero (which I had been all through high school) to a size 4. I suddenly had curves, clothes fit me nicely, and I was no longer a string bean. I felt normal. And I took that body for granted, too.

Like many, hitting my mid-twenties meant my metabolism came to a screeching halt. I deserved EVERY extra pound I started putting on. I wasn't paying attention to what I was putting in my body. I would go through spurts of working out and being healthy, then I would lose interest. I pretty much ate what I wanted when I wanted, and, being the social butterfly I was, booze was a big part of my life. My weight fluctuated a lot, and even at my heaviest (which I would KILL to be as thin as I was when I thought I was fat), it still wasn't enough for me to change my lifestyle. At that time in my life, it was more important for me to be happy and have fun than it was to focus on my overall health. If only I could go back in time and tell myself how important balance is...

It's important to note that one of my greatest flaws is being an "instant gratification" person. It has always been extremely difficult for me to stick with things, or even do them in the first place, if it doesn't come naturally or if I don't see results immediately. I also struggle with "prevention"- as a free spirit, I have always kind of "winged it" in life, and if things happened, I just rolled with it and worked toward fixing it rather than realizing I could make my life SO much easier had I just prevented it in the first place. I try to live in the moment so much so that it's often hard for me to focus too much on consequences. So, instead of working out and focusing on my physical health, even just to maintain the body I had as it started to fill out, I quite literally said, "fuck it". Woops.

Flash forward to my 30's. Hormones plus copious amounts of wine and tokin' with a real bad sweet tooth is just not a good combo for a woman's body. Add in depression/anxiety medication, and then this year a global pandemic where you are required to stay home and there is not much else to do but the afore mentioned, and BAM- you gain 50 pounds seemingly overnight (I am not exaggerating, I gained 50 pounds in 8 months) and can hardly recognize yourself.

I was never considered overweight, so with each pound I have gained this year I have been absolutely disgusted with myself. How could I have let this happen? None of my clothes fit. I constantly felt swollen and bloated, as if my skin was about to pop. Huge dark stretch marks started to appear all over my tummy and upper legs from weight being put on so fast. I could no longer cross my legs when I sat down. And I was having to sit down more and more, because if I stood for long periods of time my feet would swell and turn purple and my back would throb. I was always uncomfortable, physically and emotionally. For the first time in my life, I absolutely HATED my body. And there was no quick fix to make it better which frustrated the livin' hell out of me.

A recent photo I didn't want to post because I was so self-conscious.

Now, as said, I fully admit that I had not been as concerned as I should have been about prevention and focusing on my overall health. The workouts I DID do made me sweat like no tomorrow, I could hardly breathe, and I felt grosser and fatter than ever, so I avoided them because again, they weren't easy and didn't come naturally to me.

However, as it turns out, the main culprit of such rapid weight gain turned out to be a new medication I started in March, which also threw a bunch of my levels out of whack. As if 2020 couldn't get more annoying, all areas of my health- physical, mental and emotional- began to suffer simultaneously. Where would I even start? What was it going to take to get on track? Was it too late?

This past weekend my husband's family and I attended an out of town wedding. There were so many moments that I almost burst into tears because of how much I hated my body. The six hour car ride to Columbus, OH where I couldn't get comfortable in the back seat. Putting on my purple dress, looking in the mirror and feeling like Barney. Trying to bend over to buckle my heels and not being able to reach because my fat was in the way. Squatting down in the front row to pose for a group picture and my legs throbbing so bad that I thought I was going to die. Looking back at photos taken and only being able to focus on my triple chin. Hardly being able to take off my heels at the end of the night because my feet were so swollen. I have never felt this embarrassed and disgusted with my physical appearance... ever.

It all got me thinking, though. I have been on medication for depression, anxiety and ADHD for years and years, which has been a blessing in SO many ways. My main focus has always been on my mental/emotional health because I never really needed to focus on my physical health as much. But now, a medication that was added to my mix and was making me feel much more balanced and "normal", was causing more harm than good. Such rapid weight gain is enough to throw even the happiest, most stable person in the world into a mild depression. And since I wasn't previously doing other things to maintain my physique, it all caught up to me.

The more I researched the medication, the more determined I became to ease off of it. The first side effects listed on a quick Google search: weight gain and high cholesterol. FABULOUS. At first, this infuriated me. When I started taking it, I could tell it was making a HUGE difference keeping my emotions even, taking the edge off of difficult days. How could something so good in one respect be so bad in another?

On the other hand, one less medication sounded nice. I am all for prescription pills for mental/emotional illness, but I also am a huge proponent of incorporating more holistic approaches, which in all honesty, I should have been focusing on more all along. Medication should NEVER be a quick fix. It should work in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle.

If I had a healthier lifestyle, I know it would probably naturally help a lot of my issues. Not ALL, and not alone, because I know that medication is there to help put chemicals into my body and brain that I am naturally lacking, so again, I am not downplaying the importance of medication. But, if I could go back in time and focus on my physical health more too, I would in a heartbeat.

For the first time, I have this awareness about my health and body. It's MINE. What I put into it and what I do with it is up to me, and it affects SO much more than I ever took the time to realize. This is the first time in my entire life that things are really "clicking". I don't have to eat for pleasure or comfort- I should be eating for nutrition and energy. The right foods will make me feel good, and full, and energized. I shouldn't work out because I hate myself- I should work out because I love my body and want to see all of the amazing things it can do.

The obvious next step after easing off that asshole of a medication is to analyze my eating habits and begin a workout routine, something I should have been doing all along instead of taking my body for granted. There's no "quick fix" or easy way to get healthy. You actually have to work hard at it. And realizing that's something I struggle so badly with- working hard at things that don't come easy and having patience with results- is a flaw of mine that I had never really had to face before. With health, you can't just flip a switch. Dammit, right?

It's going to take a consistency and determination that I've never had to get the body I want. And it might not be the body I used to have, but it will be the body I love. And for the first time in my entire 32 years of existence, I feel ready.

I want to go through this next chapter of my life the absolute best version of myself I can be, in ALL aspects. And that's not something that I can wait until the last minute for, or wait to just happen, or rush, or get impatient, or give up.

I went from tears over the weekend, to waking up on Monday and totally flipping my perspective:

Getting fat is actually a blessing for me. It is helping me see things so much more clearly. It is giving me a reason to make positive, significant changes to my lifestyle so that I can be exactly who I want to be and live the absolute best life possible.

With or without medication, it was due time to give my body more love and attention.

I'm used to hitting rock bottom mentally/emotionally and picking up my pieces. I've done it countless times, and come out stronger than ever. But this is a completely different journey. And I am finally ready for it. There's nowhere to go now but up, and I couldn't be more ready to love myself again.

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