Dude. I don’t mean to call out my homeboy, but a male friend of mine told me the other day, when we were discussing our eating habits:
“Do you eat more on this new diet?”
I told him I eat around the same.
He said: “I don’t know how you’re going to take this.”
I paused in trepidation.
He continued, “‘Cause you look like you gained weight but it looks really good on you.”
I was too busy mopping up the bits of my brain off the floor, because my brain had exploded, to respond. Aren’t humans taught to never comment about a person’s weight? Anyway, I knew he meant it as a compliment but I had come to the realization that I had visibly gained weight.
A few months ago I decided to make a lifestyle change, I decided to switch to the paleolithic diet or “paleo.” To spare you a bunch of pseudo-science that no one can confirm or deny, essentially the paleo diet is one where you only consume foods that presumably were eaten by humans before we invented agriculture. Some people take this diet to an extreme where they don’t even use microwaves or heat food to a certain temperature. I’m not that crazy, essentially I use the paleo diet as guidelines for what foods I should eat because the foods that you do eliminate from your diet are ones that contain known allergens.
I had a sneaking suspicion for a while that I was allergic to dairy. I had all the symptoms: acne breakouts, constant coughing, puffiness, sneezing, burning eyes, random headaches. It had only gotten that bad this year but I always sort of just knew. But CHEESE. OMG CHEESE. Cheeeeeeeeeese, you guys. RIP cheese.
After going paleo I completely eliminated dairy, gluten, wheat, soy and legumes. I never, ever eat processed foods (which I didn’t do before) or foods with fillers and preservatives. Even those frozen veggies you buy, which seem like just veggies contain all kinds of chemicals to preserve them. I only eat organic or farm fresh foods as well.
Basically, after a week I felt INCREDIBLE. All of my symptoms were gone and the lower back pain I had (I have rheumatoid arthritis, thanks genetics!) went away. I knew I’d have to stick to eating this way because I had a ton of energy. I wasn’t restless at night and I was waking up earlier than my alarm clock.
But then something bizarre happened. I was eating the best and most healthy I had ever had in my whole life b-b-but I gained weight. I gained around 10 pounds in three months, eating. healthy. Wh-wh-what???? I started freaking out because whaaaaaaaat. Why?
And no I do not work out, so this is not “muscle mass.” I didn’t eat poorly before, either. I was a big proponent of low carbs or no carbs. On this diet I started eating fruit again, yes before I was so neurotic I didn’t eat fruit because it had sugar. So I think that’s why I put on some pounds.
After freaking out for like 72 hours and staring at myself in the mirror and wanting to die, I realized this: I was genuinely the healthiest I had ever been. This is what I look like at my healthiest! How can that be bad? The only reason why it seems that way is because we’re taught to be so harsh on our bodies. The only thing different about me is that there is marginally more of me.
When I was studying abroad in college I had a severe reaction to the water there and lost around 20 pounds in 4 weeks. I was underweight. People couldn’t shut up about how much weight I lost and how much “better” I looked. (Um, what was wrong with me before?) The reality was my hair was falling out, my body was fighting me and I felt like shit all the time. I was ill but because I was thinner people believed I looked “better.”
When I compared these two scenarios in my head I realized that, my weight is my weight. It’s going to change throughout my life for various reasons and while, I don’t think people should comment on each other’s size, it’s inevitable. It’s best to just move on. It’s my body and it’ll look however the hell I want it to at the time.