Why Weight Ups and Downs Don't Matter As Much As You Think

Weight ups and downs are totally normal, natural, and usually nothing to worry about. So glad I know that now.

We like to talk about little victories here at HealthyGirl.org—but I’ve realized a victory lately that is anything but little. (At least it seems that way to me!) Here it is: I am 13 pounds heavier now than I was a year ago. And instead of falling into bad body image, feeling unsatisfied, being tempted to go on a crash diet, or being otherwise obsessive, I’m simply…OK with it.

In fact, this little weight bump seems totally expected and perfectly natural considering what the last year has held for me. I got married last May, spent nights and weekends writing my book from January through June, and then promptly started a new (very busy) job. All of that means that my husband and I have too busy to cook and have been ordering in constantly; I’ve been giving in to that feeling of “I’m so busy, I deserve this cookie/chocolate/second helping!” And last, but not least, I haven’t been making the time to move my body. Most days, I’d rather just drag myself home from work and park on the couch with a streaming Netflix movie than stop at the gym.

The best thing about all this is that I’m just accepting it. I don’t feel guilty, or bad, or wrong. I just am. My life just is. My body just is. And now that things are settling down for me a bit, I’ve started making my usual, healthier decisions (cooking at home, making time for working out) again. I know that the better I feed myself and the more I move, the stronger, more clear-headed, and happier I feel.

Getting back to my usual healthy behaviors will likely also trigger yet some other body changes—which brings me to my main point: Our bodies, just like our minds and our lives, are constantly changing. They don’t ever stay the same, and part of our journey toward food- and body- sanity is getting OK with that.

Rebecca Radcliffe, a women’s health and self-esteem expert I interviewed for my book, pointed out to me once that women’s bodies don’t just change over months and years, they change every 28 days! Every week, we’re at a different point in our cycle with different hormone levels that can dictate or at least affect everything from our energy levels, our mood (and, of course, our bloat).

I was so pleased to realize that I’ve finally gotten OK with a thing that used to scare the hell out of me: CHANGE. Part of that has been getting OK with physical changes and natural weight ups and downs. What a revelation!

How have you dealt with weight and body changes in the past? Do they really shake you up? Or are you learning to accept them as natural? xo…Sunny

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7 Responses to Why Weight Ups and Downs Don't Matter As Much As You Think

  1. land animal says:

    Your attitude seems great to me. As long as you are doing your best to eat balanced and be active, 13lbs in a year is nothing to worry about. If you had gained that in a month, then I’d say it was a cause for concern. But if you are listening to your body, a little upward trend is nothing.

    • Sunny says:

      In context of recovering from an eating disorder (binge eating disorder in my case), people can get very upset by weight changes. I do like to be careful about using value-judgments phrases like “doing my best,” though. With the black and white thinking that goes on in disordered eating, even those three little words can be guilt traps for some. We can’t try our hardest at all times in life, and we can’t always be perfectly balanced-and sometimes that shows up in our body size. That’s part of my point here, that even when we’re not doing our best, that’s OK! It’s all part of the ebb and flow of a balanced, real-world recovery. xo…Sunny

      • Britt says:

        Your response here is greatly appreciated. As a matter of fact, this whole post is greatly appreciated, I know I’m not the only one who feels this way! I’ve felt weird/awful/hateful/confused about my body for most of my life….I felt great about how I looked when I had an illness a few years ago that dropped me down into my 9th grade sizes! Wow! That was great! All of a sudden, though physically I felt awful, my self-esteem went through the roof. I thought I was “over all that body stuff. Boy did I grow up!” NOT. Just the opposite. I had fed into exactly “all that body stuff”. I realize that I haven’t gotten over anything, though it is not as devestating as it used to be when I was younger…Its just disappointing. And I’m trying to figure out if its a problem of will or a true eating disorder. I mean - in our culture, who DOESNT have a weird food/body thing/disorder, right? Even men.
        Anyway, as I started feeling better, I slowly but surely gained back everything and then some. I’ve tried different types of exercise, eating healthy, etc. I’ve been a healthy eater now for many years…Its the moving my body thing that gets me. I am about to embark on rowing - the only sport that ever interested me…But its scary as hell. I know I’ll go down to the lake & see all these wonderful, strong, healthy, athletic bodies & then there’ll be….Me. None of the above - except for wonderful, of course 😉
        Thanks again for this post. And your entire blog. I cannot express how incredible it feels to read something & say, “hey, that’s me!” in this way, on this subject. It is so intimate & not talked about in a healthy way, yet so common.

        You rock, Sunny! Keep on keepin’ on, girl! I’ll do the same. Let’s just BE.

        Love, Britt in Austin, TX

  2. Heather says:

    Hi Sunny,

    I really like this post because it shows the value of gaining a more positive perspective on life. We can apply this thinking to all sorts of things, but it is especially important in the area of weight, shape and size. To think that we might one day fully ‘recover’ and never have fluctuations would be as unrealistic as thinking that if only we do one more diet, we might be thin (and happy) forever. As we get older, move house, have children, change job, we’re bound to behave differently. Sometimes we might gain and sometimes we will lose weight. I guess it’s back to getting to like yourself for yourself (those bits in our head that get overlooked when we focus on the mirror image). As you’ve shown, this is how we can emotionally cope with change, and even make our own changes for our health and happiness (not because someone else wants us to or pressures us to be different).

    Having been trapped in disordered eating, and now developing my awareness, I’ve learnt that my life has been ruled by negativity, about myself, what I do and the world around me. I’m trying to learn what it means to be positive and kinder to myself. This is often tainted by the ‘voice’ inside that criticises and pulls me down, but I am keep trying to be kinder and be positive because I know that I can learn to behave in a way that will make me feel better about myself and everything else.

    Reading this article has gone another step in the way of showing me that this can be done. It’s a truly honest, realistic and sensible account of what it means to be recovered. And shows that recovery really isn’t about the scales.

    Thanks again Sunny!

  3. silverstreams says:

    Your reply above spoke right into my heart.

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Sunny Sea Gold

About the Author

Sunny Sea Gold is a media-savvy advocate and commentator specializing in binge eating disorder, cultural obsessions around food and weight, and raising children who have a healthy body image.