Why I’m Not Trying to Lose Weight

September 27, 2017

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.


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13 Comments

  • Jill

    Ana, you are so wise beyond your years. Please keep doing what you are doing and listen to your body. And please keep feeling better and better! xoxo

    September 27, 2017 at 4:12 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you so much for these kind words Jill! 💕

      September 27, 2017 at 8:43 pm Reply
  • JOYCE ZIMMERMAN

    Ana, Amen to your post. It is much more important to be healthy than to be obsessed with the weight the charts tell us to be. You look beautiful and vibrant just the way you are.
    Praise God for every step in your recovery.

    September 27, 2017 at 4:31 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you so much Aunt Joyce! This is so kind of you! 💕

      September 27, 2017 at 8:44 pm Reply
  • Ruth Meyer

    I reached the same conclusion, Ana, and honestly, it’s really freeing! I could add my weight to a list of things I have to worry about, or focus on the health problems that are more important. Even if I was extremely overweight, which I’m not, I still wouldn’t make weight loss a goal. Better health is always the thing to keep in mind. And, sometimes it just takes a longer time to get back to a healthier state. As I’ve improved my weight has gone down, or up, or stayed in one place for months. I’d rather focus on the things that I can change, like diet and exercise, and let my body heal as it is able. The weight will do its own thing, when it’s ready to. I think your reasoning is right on the money here, and just seeing your smile tells me you’re doing just fine for this moment on the road of your life. 😀

    September 27, 2017 at 5:14 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Exactly Ruth! I’m glad it resonated with you! Thank you. 😊

      September 27, 2017 at 8:45 pm Reply
  • Carolyn

    I agree with you, and am experiencing the same thing. I lost about 20 pounds after getting a new heart valve last spring…don’t understand why, but am enjoying it! My Lyme is much better, and am working on the “moldiness ” — and I figure the weight will take care of itself.

    September 27, 2017 at 6:15 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      I’m so glad Carolyn. Our bodies sometimes do mysterious things. I’m glad you’re just focusing on your health. Don’t give up! Recovery is possible! 💕😊

      September 27, 2017 at 8:46 pm Reply
  • Sarah Beth

    Tbh every time I see you in pictures I see how confident and beautiful you are. I don’t say this just to be nice. I legit mean it. When I saw the title of this post it just made me really happy. I’m glad you’re willing to listen to your body and appreciate how much it can do besides just trying to lose reach a certain weight. I understand what you mean about so many factors playing into it all. I’m so happy that you get to explore new creative outlets to wellness, even if you’re not where you once were as a dancer. I can’t tell you how much you encourage me in my own health journey. Keep staying curious about what God is up to:) xxx

    September 27, 2017 at 9:34 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Aww! Thank you so much Sarah Beth! This is one of the sweetest comments ever. I am so happy I get to be an encouragement. Thank you for your kind words! 💕

      September 28, 2017 at 11:47 am Reply
  • Chris Barratt

    Ana. This is so true. Listening to our bodies is what’s most important. And I think you look great!! That smile itself says it all!!!

    September 29, 2017 at 11:57 am Reply
  • Ana Ducasa

    Way to go!! I think we can all benefit by putting our health first. God bless and continue to bring wholeness to you.

    September 29, 2017 at 3:08 pm Reply
  • Erin

    yep, being overweight is usually viewed as bad and unhealthy. But if our bodies, designed by God, are keeping that extra weight on their own, then I suppose weight is a good thing. 🙂 I think you’re making a good decision!

    November 10, 2017 at 7:39 pm Reply
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