We’re about to get really personal here, y’all.
Trigger warning : Body dysmorphia, weight loss and gain
This post has NOTHING to do with body types that are bigger or curvier than me, but has everything to do with MY BODY and MY ISSUES WITH MYSELF. This post is not to discriminate or invalidate anyone’s body type or struggles.
Growing up, I was always really skinny. Too skinny. I struggled hard when it came to finding clothes that fit my tiny frame. My grandmother would have to sew in the sides of my jeans because even with a belt they were too big. If I bought the correct waist size, they were too short. This was before the time of inclusive sizing, so there were no “tall”, “petite” or “000” sizes back then – I say that like it’s a long time ago but we are only talking early 2000’s.
While all my girl friends were filling out and getting curves, I was left behind. When I entered college I was 5’11” and only 103 lbs. Granted I was in an abusive relationship that left me with stomach ulcers and anxiety so bad I couldn’t keep anything down, but regardless I wasn’t too far off from my high school weight. Being tall and very thin was natural for me. I was so self-conscious. I was always told that I wasn’t valid in my insecurities because I had a “model body” however I got bullied for the way I looked. I would have people, strangers I didn’t know, ask me personal questions about my health and body based on the way I looked. While I hated it, being that super skinny girl became a part of my identity and it was who I was – or all who I thought I was. It’s a hard concept to explain – being something you hate but also finding comfort in being identified as such for a long amount of time. It became who i was.
It wasn’t until I hit my early to mid-twenties that I finally started filling out. Birth control was a factor in the weight gain as well as being in a happy relationship. I was comfortable at 145lbs. I looked pretty good and didn’t really have to watch what I ate – my metabolism was still fast as hell.
In the span of two years, I went from being a healthy weight to OVERWEIGHT. Never in my life was I ever even close to being overweight. The thought was unfathomable to me considering I spent most of my youth downing protein shakes like they were going out of style in an attempt to gain weight. You hear of metabolisms slowing down as you age, holding weight in your midsection as a woman, yadda, yadda, yadda. I KNEW something wasn’t right. There was something wrong with me and it was more than just some simple weight gain. The photo above at the beach was taken right after my dad passed away and I ended my engagement. I had my yearly doctor’s appointment and she commented on my weight gain. I told her I felt like something was wrong with me. She chalked it up to stress and tested my cortisol levels and my thyroid. Both were fine and that was that.
I’ve always read about doctor’s dismissing larger people’s medical issues by saying it’s their weight gain but never experienced it until this period in my life. This is a real problem and deserves more conversation around it.
Months went by. I had fatigue, exhaustion, muscle aches and pains. Brain fog. I was skipping my cycle. At one point I was convinced I had the brain tumor. This was just my daily life. I was going to the gym multiple times a week, barely eating anything. I did lose some weight, maybe twenty pounds in the span of a few months, but nothing notable. I still felt like something was wrong.
These issues came to a head when I went to visit my mom after an argument with my boyfriend. I was falling asleep at the kitchen table after drinking a coffee. My head hurt and I was dizzy. My body was in horrible pain. These things I just accepted. Until my mom, who is a type 2 diabetic just like my grandmother, said “Let me test your blood sugar.”
The meter read 264. My grandmother’s eyes bulged and she suggested taking it again. Same number. If you aren’t familiar, a normal BS range is 80 – 130 before eating. It’s allowed to be a little higher if you just ate something. I hadn’t eaten anything in hours. This was pretty terrifying but I also felt relieved – is this THE problem? I made a doctor’s appointment right away and ordered a blood panel test as well as an A1C which is the test they use to see if you are diabetic. It measures your average blood sugar level over the past three months. My results were right on the cusp of diabetes – fortunately revisable with dietary changes
Here’s where we get controversial.
ENTER THE KETO DIET.
What is Keto? The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that in medicine is used mainly to treat hard-to-control epilepsy in children. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. You consume under 30g of carbs per day on Keto, the normal is between 200-300g.
I needed to make an immediate dietary change. Since the issue was my blood sugar, low carb was the move. Let me preface by saying YOU NEED CARBS TO LIVE. THEY ARE NOT BAD. For me, in that moment, they were. My body was burning sugar instead of fat which explained all of my symptoms. KETO IS NOT for people just wanting to lose weight. You can do low-carb and not be keto. PLEASE DO NOT DO KETO WITHOUT DOCTOR SUPERVISION YOU CAN GET VERY SICK. People who do Keto without having any related health issues get what is called “keto flu” – that should be an indicator that this is NOT for you. I did NOT get “keto-flu”.
After the blood meter reading I immediately stopped consuming sugar. That met no pasta, no bread, no beans, no sugary drinks, no fruits. Within a week and a half my severe bloating (you can see it in the above photos) that I had consistently for years went away. Within a month I was down fifteen pounds. Within six months I was down almost fifty.
It took a lot of self-control and discipline but the results and most importantly, the way I FELT, kept me motivated. I no longer had muscle pain or joint pain, my headaches went away, I had more energy than I had in YEARS. I was fitting into clothing that I couldn’t even get past my thighs months earlier.
Me in the same swimsuit at 194lbs (January 2020) vs 168lbs (September 2020)
I will NOT supply anyone with my specific diet or what my diet was while I was actively on keto. For starters, I am NOT a dietician or nutritionist or doctor. If you’d like to learn more, please ask your doctor. The purpose of this post was to share my experience and the health issue that had gone undetected for years in the hopes that if someone relates they can get it figured out while it’s still reversible.
Welcome to present day. I am no longer keto but I am low-carb for the most part. I do NOT eat pasta and haven’t in a very long time – not because the carbs but because it truly makes me feel HORRIBLE and just isn’t worth it to me anymore. I no longer drink sugary soda or get coffee drinks with sugary syrup. I do not drink orange juice but I do eat most fruits and vegetables. I do eat rice and quinoa and focus on high protein.
I will treat myself to some Full Circle Doughnuts (and suffer a sugar crash following). I don’t deprive myself of anything that I want but I do make sure to maintain my health and what I want is to be healthy.
Now, ten months after my diagnosis, I am 155lbs and almost back to my weight that I was in my mid twenties. To be honest with you, I would be fine with keeping the extra ten pounds. Women aren’t made to stay the same weight forever. We get curves (I got a booty now!) and that’s normal and it’s fine.
I know what you’re thinking.
“But Kaitlin, I follow you on social media and I don’t ever remember you having gained any weight!” For starters, social media is curated. I never posted any photos where I thought I looked unhealthy. Also, I know how to dress my body. I never wore anything too small or too tight, so my weight gain was hidden pretty well with some good tailoring. Third, I’m 5’11. Weight gain looks a lot different on us tall people than it does on shorter people.
I hope that sheds some insight into my health journey that I’ve been posting about on my socials this past year. It was a challenge and taught me so much about myself and my body. My biggest take away? Listen to your body. It will tell you when something isn’t right and don’t accept any answers that don’t help you.