Growing Up Thin
A Healthy Me
I have always been thin. Once I reached my now petite height of five feet, the numbers usually wavered between 97-99 pounds on the scale. The only reason I ever knew my weight was from doctor's appointments. I don't remember a scale in our home and I never saw a reason to use one because it always remained the same.
Did I eat an especially healthy diet or take care of my weight? No, as a child I ate lots of sweets.The doctors have theorized I never gained weight (or reached anywhere close to my family's average height) because my undiagnosed Celiac Sprue was wreaking havoc on my nutrient intake. My family also believes it's why I exist outside of their mantra of eating when food is put before them. Food often made me sick so my body has never really seen it as especially enjoyable. If I'm hungry, I eat. If I'm not, then I don't eat regardless of whether you put something delicious in front of me.
In college my roommate would get so frustrated when she came home to find my dinner looking sad and uneaten on the stove. I would make it but then remember to do something and completely forget I was supposed to be eating. Food was just low on the list of priorities. If I got really into something in the lab it wasn't unusual for me to realize at ten or eleven at night I had yet to eat lunch or dinner. Despite my forgetful eating habits, I retained a steady weight for years. Never going more than a pound or two above or below my steady weight.
Pounds Begin to Disappear
Weighing Somewhere in the 80s
I have a module (below) which follows why I didn't go see a doctor when I should have. One of the warning signs started a few months before things would fall apart. I began to notice something odd about my clothes. They had become a bit looser...then a little bit looser...until I could not ignore the odd truth I was losing weight. Pants which had fit for years and years started to need a belt and shirts which fit me to a T started to look off on my tiny frame.
Once my health truly fell apart, the weight began to disappear quicker. Understand that at ninety-seven pounds, losing a 'few' pounds means a lot. If you look at a BMI chart, you will see with a five foot height and more weight loss you quick tip into unhealthily underweight. So when I lost more than five pounds, I was a little worried.
Then came the fateful day where my little sister getting ready and noticed me applying make-up in a bra after my shower. She was horrified at how I looked. To her, my bones stuck out and I looked downright sickly. I was hurt because at this point I was doing my best to gain any weight I could. From eating more often to eating foods higher in calories I was doing all I could think of yet still losing weight.
Not until several months after the event did I really have a mental crash (the complete tale is in my book). I would ask my boyfriend off and on about whether I looked different or bad or to skinny. He always reassured me I looked the same. One night we were sitting on the bed in my apartment. The room was very warm so I was wearing a pair of shorts. He looked at me and said, "your legs have gotten really skinny." There was a pause and then, "you don't find me attrraaacctttiivvvee anymore...You don't love me because I look different...I'm so sorry. I'm trying so hard to regain the weight. I'm sorry I look bad...etc." He looked horrified at his ever positive strong-willed girlfriend dissolving into a mess of tears and altogether pathetic noises. Even after reassuring me of his love regardless of my looks, I still cried myself to sleep after he left.
This may have sounded petty to you (why worry about weight loss after hospital visits and the ICU) but it had become very important to me to look physically the same. If I did not then people would know how sick I was and I did not want to see their pity. I could not work, go to class, or even take a walk down the street alone but at least I looked like the same me. Now I knew I did not and I was not sure where to go from there. I kept trying to regain the weight but only kept losing. I was now in the 80s for weight and evidently looked like a scarecrow!
How to start looking good...
Begin by Feeling Good
During the times when my weight got very low I felt terrible about myself. I realize it was partly from being so underweight but mostly because I lost sight of what made me who I am. My weight never defined me before so why should it now? I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and start learning to love this struggling body of mine.
In my picture I am feeling good at the top of the Mandalay Bay. The walls were all glass and you could see all of Vegas before you. Pretty amazing!
Getting Physically Healthy
It's Important too!
I have always struggled with exercise. I now know it's because of my hidden health problems which left me panting for breath after attempting to jog a single block and completely exhausted after even a simple workout. My cardiologist recommended a heart program (I was denied due to not having a heart attack) so instead I worked with a trainer who is known for working with patients who have unique health problems. He taught me about the best means to gain strength while not 'overdoing it.' His work has helped an immense amount in knowing what I can and cannot do (and how much to do) when performing a workout.
When I cannot make it out of bed, I use the exercise bands and exercises chosen by the hospital physical therapist especially for me. I can use them to get exercise while not having to worry about cracking my head from dizziness on the floor. On better days (but not good enough to leave home) I will do a simple Pilates or yoga workout. I find it good for both my mental and physical health. Sometimes I end up watching a DVD and getting two minutes in before I cannot do anymore. On those days, I just focus on breathing and listening. If you can't do the exercise then at least take away something!
Please remember to always speak with your own doctor before beginning an exercise program. I don't want anyone to jump on a treadmill after reading this and have a heart attack. Ask before you start so you know what program is right for you.
Black Mountain Resistance Band Set
Ankle Strap, Exercise Bands, and Carrying Case Included
Black Mountain Products Resistance Band Set with Door Anchor, Ankle Strap, Exercise Chart, and Resistance Band Carrying Case
I got mine while in the hospital but I like the idea of this set because it includes an exercise chart and ankle straps (which I should get).
Pilates Workout for Dummies
Not Dummies...More like Newbies
Pilates Workout for Dummies
I highly recommend this DVD if you are considering beginning Pilates without taking a class. They explain why and how to do things so you are not just jumping blindly into an exercise activity . I actually own this and really appreciate how they offer modified poses for beginners, more than beginners, and experts.
Basic Yoga Workout for Dummies
Perfect for Yoga Users of Any Skill
Basic Yoga Workout for Dummies
The same goes for this yoga workout. If I were to begin yoga (knowing nothing), I would start with a DVD like this!
Getting Great Looking Skin
I've Got Happy Skin!
My skin took a plunge when I was very thin so I realized there needed to be a change in my daily skin care regimen. I switched to using the Clinique 3-Step in the morning and at night. They have products for all skin types which were developed by dermatologists AND are hypoallergenic. More importantly, they understand it's not 'one skin type fits all.' I highly recommend giving their products a try.
Clinique 3 Step System for Dry/Combination Skin
Every day in the morning and at night
Clinique 3 Step system for dry/combination skin gift set- dramatically moisturizing Lotion 125 ml/ lotion 2-200 ml/soap mild 200ml
I use the dry/combination Clinique 3 Step System. I love how all three steps make so much more of a difference then merely using a simple lotion does!
Ahava Facial Mud Exfoliator
All Natural. Completely Amazing on the Skin
Ahava Facial Mud Exfoliator, 3.40 Ounce
I was introduced to Ahava on the shores of the Dead Sea. All their products are made completely from Dead Sea Minerals and give amazing results. I use this one twice a week.
Learning to Eat Right. It's a Process
I'd much rather eat candy!
The one neurologist (I refer to him as Dr. Snake) recommended a nutritionist as my family and I were worried about my gluten-free diet. Well, that was a complete waste of time. Instead of being able to answer my questions about how the gluten-free diet affects nutrition (as you are replacing key ingredients like wheat with other stuff) she reiterated what I had learned in my Nutrition course. Yes, she even handed me information almost exactly like what I got in college nutrition. Then she added that she knew what Celiac's was but the other nutritionist was a twenty-year dietary veteran and she knew little about it. I walked away having learned absolutely nothing and fed up with all the hospital nonsense.
So I would just increase the fruit, vegetables, and protein in my diet. I kept trying to eat more often and actually now take medication to help against the side effects of other medication which make me sick to my stomach. Nutrition class to me was extremely boring (as a biology major you've learned most medical details) but I did learn a thing or two. If you are really interested in learning to eat right then consider taking a course or buying a book on the subject. Knowing a serving of meat is the size of a deck of cards really puts that 24 ounce steak you get at a restaurant into perspective. Gaining weight is more than eating a lot, it's eating what's actually good for you and starts by having the right knowledge.
Food and Feeling Good: Books on Nutrition
It's huge on your emotions
Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating
Nutrition For Dummies
Complete Idiot's Guide to Total Nutrition, Fourth Edition
HEALING FOODS: Practical Guide to the Health Benefits and Medicinal Properties of Food
Clothing for You Now
and You Later
I did not want to spend a lot of time searching for a new wardrobe which I felt would (hopefully soon) be unnecessary. However, I could not just go around wearing clothes which hung off me so I decided to find ways to improvise. Doing that meant being able to avoid the hassle of finding skinny jeans which fit (which is not easy I might add) but still keep me happy about what I was wearing.
I wanted to combine the 'I can wear it now' with the 'I can also wear it when my body returns.' So I have tried my best to stay true to my theme so I can avoid the hassle of shopping in my wheelchair. Which, depending on who is pushing, is usually not a great experience.
Keep the Skinny Jeans of Then
Get Leggings for Now
When I think of wearing skinny jeans, it typically means performing the 'skinny jean lunges' meaning you have a slight struggle to get them on then go around your apartment trying to stretch them out. They are a bit tight but then fit perfectly for the next few times around before you wash them and start all over. Skinny jeans are not supposed to hang off you in desperate need of a belt and you definitely should not be able to slide them on and off without unbuttoning.
So instead of spending sixty dollars on a new pair, I decided to get leggings. Actually, I found them to be so comfortable I own every color (sometimes in multiple) except red, orange, and pink. They are comfortable for doing nothing to going out for the night. I also adore how they work with boots, flats, and high heels. The best part? I can wear them now and then later because unlike skinny jeans, I will be able to fit back in them even at my regular weight.
Shopping for Leggings on Amazon
Skip the store. Get it to your door!
Womens Cotton Spandex Leggings by In Touch in Black, Large
G by GUESS Jaslyn Denim Leggings, LIGHT WASH (XL)
Women's New style Sexy Stretchy Faux Leather Cotton Back Tight Leggings Pant
FULL TILT Ethnic Print Womens Ponte Leggings
FULL TILT Floral Womens Ponte Leggings
Keep the Shirts of Then
Add a Waist Belt for Now
In the picture the shirt I am wearing is actually way to big on me. Make that about two sizes to big. My friend was giving it away and although I knew it would hang off my thin frame I wanted it. So what to do now? I wanted to wear the shirt but in no way would I look healthy if I did. Thus, I added a belt (from another top actually) to cinch my waist. Now the top fit me and looked right. People actually complimented me on it never realizing I had done it for the strategic purpose of fitting what I wanted to wear from then into wearing it for now.
Buy Waist Belts on Amazon
Find great deals here on waist belts
Allegra K Elastic Coffee Butterfly Knot Hook Buckle Ladies Waist Belt
Allegra K Women Press Stud Button Dotted Gauze Coated Bow Tie Decoe Black Waist Belt
Allegra K Woman Black Elastic Band Rhinestone Metal Flower Cinch Waist Belt
Allegra K Woman Interlocking Buckle Brown Textured Elastic Fabric Waist Belt
Allegra K Lady Metal Floral Interlocking Buckle Cinch Band Waist Belt Blue
Wear Peacoat W/Belt Now
Take off the belt later
I have a love for coats and own way more than an average person should. So what to do when my coats didn't fit so well? I just added to my coat collection with coats which came with a belt. In one case I actually added a belt. This way I can wear them now and remove the belt later. As you can tell, I am now all about the belts because they do such a good job in hiding my underweight figure. Plus, I enjoy sewing so it's no problem for me to just use a seam ripper to remove the belt loops and leave the coat looking like new!
Women's Belted Jackets & Peacoats
A Must in My Coat Collection
Jack Women's Abi Jacket
LANHUACAO Women Wool Blends Coat Slim Trench Winter Coat Long Jacket Outwear
Hailey Jeans Co Juniors Long Button-down Belted Coat
Green with Envy Women's Belted Jacket
Womens Duffle Toggle Coat (Inf)
Comfort. Baby Doll Style Now
Wear it Then
One my new favorite clothing types is the 'baby doll' look. I used to call these tops the 'pregnancy' tops as you cannot tell if a person is pregnant or not. I have completely changed my mind on them and love the way they feel. You can cinch the tops with a waist belt or if they are long enough, wear them over leggings. I love how it doesn't matter your size at the moment, it fits you.
Tunic and Baby Doll Tank tops and tops
All season for baby doll tops
PINK BLOUSE TOP LAYERS EMPIRE STRETCHED SPANDEX BABY DOLL - FITS (ONE SIZE) - L XL 1X 2X - X155S LOTUSTRADERS
Women's baby doll tunic tank top
Grey Button Down Babydoll Glitter Detail Top Womens
Women Viscose Spandex Spaghetti Strap Cami Tunic Knit Top
Arden B. Women's Cold Shoulder High-low Tunic
Get Scarves Now
Wear them Always
My father travels regularly to Asia and brings back a little of everything for his children. Thanks to him I have scarves in all colors, designs and shades. They range from silk to cashmere to lace. In the picture I am wearing one from his latest trip to India. I love how scarves look on anyone and they do a great job in distracting from a top I'm wearing which is a bit to large now. People notice the scarf and not the shirt which makes life so much easier.
In the picture I am holding my new niece. This February I became an aunt for the very first time. She's going to be bigger than me soon!
An Update on Me Now
With the added dietary restriction of being yeast-free (no sugar, pickles, olives, ketchup...etc) I've had to restructure my eating thoughts. Living with it has been a definite challenge in regaining the weight but I like to think I am making progress. I have gained back about half of what I lost and am still working towards regaining the rest. There is no estimate of time for when it will be because my health changes day by day. So I just keep working my way there and hope someday soon I will be back to my good old size again.
The picture is of me less than a month ago at my friend's baby shower. Her baby needs lots of your prayers as he arrived a month early with serious health complications and remains in the NICU. I hope she will be able to take him home soon and I'm praying for him!
Misconceptions on this Lens
Read before you complain
In my time at squidoo I have had lenses where as my little sister said "Wow. They completely missed your point! That comment has nothing to do with this...." I still post the comments as I believe a person's opinions are important no matter whether I agree or disagree. Still, I feel I should clarify some points to avoid comments complaining on anorexia being so prevalent or the dangers of obesity (which has nothing to do with this lens).
Yes, my weight loss was very hard on me mentally but it there is a far more important reason for concern. I was becoming dangerously underweight. Being underweight can be just as dangerous as being overweight. If no one had started treating my health issues I could have gotten to the point where I was in danger of dying from being so thin.
Even though I never progressed to that point (thank goodness) I did have problems. My hair and skin both became very dry. Actually, my hair was so dry it became brittle, would break off, and every time I brushed hair would come out. Luckily, I had a lot of hair but it was still a pain. I also had little energy which was terrible as this was the time when I needed it the most. I became very prone to catching any cold, cough, or flu around me meaning my immune system was lowered which meant a case of bronchitis could quickly become pneumonia.
Many of my vitamin levels were low and I had to take prescribed amounts to try and compensate. All in all, it was downright miserable both mentally and physically. So this lens is about learning to feel good and look good while regaining the weight lost. This is about personally being healthy and happy, not about adult obesity and anorexia in children (etc). Those are definitely important issues but not the ones being covered here