Rapid unexplained weight gain was one of my first symptoms. I didn’t know it was a symptom at the time and as an aspiring professional ballerina it left me frustrated and confused. I hadn’t changed anything about my eating habits and was still dancing 6 hours per day. Why was my body doing this?!
Then my body started falling apart piece by piece until I was left bed bound and severely ill. I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease and several years later discovered that mold toxicity and hypersensitivity were driving the illness. I gained weight in spurts over the next five years of my illness.
One of these “spurts” happened when I was so nauseous I could barely eat anything without vomiting. I was under-eating, I felt like I was starving and I was still gaining weight. I gained about 20 pounds in two weeks. How was that even possible?!
My doctor explained that my body thought I was dying (the illness was very severe during this time) and was trying to protect me by holding onto every calorie.
The only time I lost any weight during my illness was when we moved to Colorado to try medical marijuana because my chronic pain had become unbearable. The medical marijuana brought immense relief and I started to make significant health gains.
While we were in Colorado I was ravenously hungry and eating constantly. I’m serious! I was snacking all day, never felt full for long, and the pounds were coming off. Unlike other times during my illness, I wasn’t following any special health diet (besides avoiding gluten which I had done since the beginning.) Then we moved back to New York and I gained all the weight back within months.
These experiences made me question whether our current understanding of weight loss is really as complete as we think it is. So many chronic illness sufferers experience puzzling weight changes that don’t fit with the current logic.
I’m not a nutritionist or a doctor and I’m not here to claim that I know anything about the science behind “calories in and calories out.” I’m only saying, perhaps it’s a lot more complicated than how much you eat and how much you exercise.
Others have suggested that infections and toxins and hormones and our gut microbes and countless other factors might influence our metabolism and change how our bodies interact with calories. Maybe you can’t accurately predict how many calories your body is actually using with a simple equation.
Honestly, I have no clue. There’s enough conflicting nutritional information on the internet to drive any sane person mad. I get the feeling that the experts can’t reach a consensus on anything except that we should all eat more vegetables and less sugar.
I’ve tried multiple healing diets that made very little difference in my health and absolutely no difference in my weight. I also went to see my nutritionist and she said I was doing a great job with my eating. She told me that nobody can lose weight when their body is under so much stress. She thought that my body would be able to take care of the extra weight once the stress of the illness resolved.
And so, I decided that I wasn’t going to try to lose the weight. I was going to focus on overcoming my illness and let my body decide what weight it felt safest at while I did that. This meant that, fat or thin, I would eat healthy foods when I was hungry and stop as soon as I was full. I would learn to be content in my fat body in the meantime (and I did, but that’s a story for another time).
Learning to listen to my body through mold avoidance has only served to convince me further that our bodies are smarter than we give them credit for. Trying to override my body’s mast cell reactions with drugs never worked very well for me. It was only when I started listening to my body and avoiding my primary trigger (mold) that I finally started to heal.
This is why I’m still not trying to lose the weight even though I’m getting better. I’ve decided to trust my body on this one too. I’m just going to pursue vibrant health and let my body settle at the weight it wants to be. This means I’m exercising to get strong again not to change the number on the scale. I’m focusing on what my body can do rather than what it looks like. I want health a whole lot more than I want thinness.
I suspect that the extra weight will take care of itself. I’ve already started to lose weight gradually over the last 6 months. I don’t have a scale so I can’t say how much. The only reason I know is because my clothes are getting looser and my pants keep falling down. I might change my mind but first I want to get out of my body’s way and let it show me what it can do.
By the way, Brett and I made a beautiful PDF of my favorite resources for suffering souls. I created the content and he made it look fancy with his superduper graphic design skills. It’s available for free to my email subscribers. Click here to sign up and receive 5 Resources for the Suffering Soul.