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What about the stress of gaining weight?

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  • #11682
    esb
    Participant

    I see the cornerstone of 180D as being that the stress (physical, emotional, financial, social) of restricted eating outweighs any potential health benefits.

    But what about the stress of gaining weight? I am not talking about someone with a serious eating disorder, or someone who is under-weight and/or under-fat. I’m not even talking about being a “healthy” size 8, 10, 12, etc.

    What about about someone who started this journey being over-weight and/or over-fat and is gaining 20-30+ pounds of flabby, jiggly, uncomfortable fat.

    The stress of this is very real and can include:
    Physical stress – It can be physically hard to carry all that extra weight, especially if also “resting” and not gaining strength along with the weight.
    Financial stress – It’s expensive to buy new clothes, especially for someone who has to dress professionally for work.
    Social – Not being able to do things that you used to (i.e. playing with kids, keep up with friends, etc.) and being physically uncomfortable being out and about.
    Emotional – In a perfect world we would all be shining examples of healthy self-esteem, but the reality is that gaining weight(fat) is emotionally difficult.

    So I am wondering if there’s a point when the “stress” of gaining weight outweighs the benefits of RRARFing. Any thoughts?

    #11687
    mighty m
    Participant

    That was one of my first thoughts when I began encountering these ideas. But, for me, the ill health of symptoms possibly stemming from low metabolism — fatigue, insomnia, difficulty building strength and recovering from injuries, digestive weakness, being cold all the time — made it worth a try to try unrestricted eating.

    Now, if I’d had NONE of those symptoms except for a quote-unquote “need to watch my weight” then I probably wouldn’t have gone for it. But then again, I would have probably never heard of it, because I would have had no reason or motivation to be reading health blogs in the first place!

    I think the other important reason to consider is this: Under restriction + low metabolism, you will slowly gain fat against your will over time, while “doing everything right” and fighting it tooth and nail, all the while gradually losing muscle/lean tissue as your body tries to conserve. In other words, atmosphere of scarcity.

    By contrast, under refeeding, you can quickly gain fat AND muscle/lean tissue by your *own choice* while enjoying delicious foods and making a deliberate effort to treat yourself well, and hopefully resolving many generalized health complaints. You then wouldn’t be prone to gain *additional* fat anytime you let your guard down, because your “maintenance” calories would be abundant, and you’d have more lean tissues and robust physiology to use the calories for energy/fertility/etc. Physiological atmosphere of abundance. CAVEAT: I’m NOT the expert here, I’m in the process of discovery myself … but I am finding this to be generally true for me.

    I was starting in the mid-range size-wise that you mention (went from size 10 to 14), but I do empathize with how much more unfair it would feel to contemplate gaining more weight if one is already overfat in such a way that it impacts movements in daily life, finding clothes etc. And socially, there is, unfortunately, a lot of fat-phobia in our society. An individual’s self esteem can’t single-handedly change that, just as an individual woman’s high self esteem doesn’t make our society non-sexist. But if one’s metabolism is strong, you have a chance to try body re-composition if you really want to; a weak metabolism makes that more difficult.

    TL;DR: Depending on the person, I’d say the stress of gaining weight might outweigh the benefits if you DON’T have any low-metabolism symptoms you hope to fix. (Also, and this may go without saying, if your temperatures are already high, your metabolism may not need fixing.)

    #11768
    Rob
    Moderator

    I think Matt replied elsewhere in someone’s forum post with a similar thought: if gaining weight is not something you’re up for, that’s totally fine, and maybe a dedicated re-feeding plan is not for you. Many of the people who end up here have been through the diet wringer and have gotten more and more sick with complicated health issues only exacerbated by their rounds of restriction as time goes on. Re-feeding makes sense in many of those cases, and the tradeoff of weight gain for improved overall quality of life is obvious.

    For others, with no major health issues, a more basic approach focusing on eating well (not restricting anything dramatically), sleeping well, getting quality movement, addressing stress, etc. is going to be all they need to get back on track. The idea is that these minimal adjustments over time will yield positive results.

    #11787
    esb
    Participant

    Thank you @Rob and @mighty m

    I hear what you’re saying, and I wish I could say that I had no major health issues – but I do. 3 autoimmune dx with debilitating symptoms, and I have been down the deep dark path of food restriction (keto/IF, GAPS and AI paleo – even tried all three at once for awhile!). I have been refeeding for about 2 months and I just had my first temp above 98 this week and I am feeling better and seeing slow and gradual improvements in my health.

    I never tried food restriction in an attempt to lose weight though, it has always been in an attempt to fix my “other” issues (pain, anxiety, depression, skin, digestion, etc). The ironic thing is that after all those diets (plus pregnancy) I was heavier than ever (about 140, but I am small, only 5’1″). 2 months of refeeding and I’m up 20 pounds and 2 pants sizes. Since my temps are just now getting into the very low 98s, I’m assuming I have a long way to go (and a lot more weight to gain)

    Also, I don’t think restricted eating is what originally wrecked my metabolism. I didn’t start restricted eating until I was already pretty sick. I believe that my metabolism has been wrecked by mismanagement of hypoT/hashi (synthroid for 15 years), prescription drugs (BCP, antibiotics, psychotropics) and poor lifestyle choices and stress (alcohol, stressful jobs, insomnia, dysfunctional/toxic relationships, etc.)

    I guess what I am trying to say is that – I’ve never been under-weight (or under-fat) or had a bona fide eating disorder (lots of disordered eating though) and my metabolism was most certainly messed up before I stated dieting or restricting food. If anything I’ve been more of a “binge” eater through out my life. So, I just can’t help but wondering if I need to “aggressively” refeed and gain a lot more weight because it IS stressful and stress is most likely what got me here, not dieting. Dieting most definitely didn’t help the situation though.

    Thanks for listening (reading) – just feeling a little lost and uncertain.

    • This reply was modified 8 years, 10 months ago by esb.
    #11817
    mighty m
    Participant

    I’m glad you’re getting a few results from “re-feeding” … and wow, my sympathies for all you’ve been though. I can understand feeling overwhelmed and lost given all that!

    One bit of reassurance I feel confident in offering is — in general of course — no one ever went wrong eating to appetite, and no one ever got better eating LESS than appetite. I think this is something simple and safe to latch onto, while leaving the details to the side.

    “Aggressive re-feeding” — which I guess means eating past appetite — I dunno. Some people seem to need it, some don’t. But I think everyone needs to eat to appetite.

    And as you start to eat more, there’s a good chance your appetite will increase. So then eat to THAT increased appetite.

    One thing that may complicate is any prescription drugs you are currently on. I don’t know much about that personally. Maybe throw a thread out there about specific drugs to see if people have experience with how they interact with metabolism?

    I also would say that, in a large part, in doesn’t matter WHY a person ends up undereating for a time. Weight-loss dieting is a common reason, but the reason could also be health diet-protocols, poverty, not eating because you’re high on meth, public service to the war effort (Ancel Key’s conscientious objectors), tapeworm, whatever. Physiologically, the process of resetting the metabolism seems similar for everyone, just with more or less damage to repair.

    Eating to appetite and improving metabolism will make it a lot easier to figure out any other complicating problems. It’s possible you might need to something else to get to the pre-diet problems, but then again, maybe not.

    Just my 2c.

    #11851
    The Real Amy
    Moderator

    esb, I will give the caveat that Matt doesn’t necessarily agree with me on this front, but I still feel firmly that the best way out of metabolic messes is the reverse what got you in. While refeeding may fix some stuff for you, what may be even better is to address all the other stuff that was going on. While it is hard to address lingering damage from bcp, antibiotics and psychotropics, from what I’ve seen and understand, those usually just resolve themselves over time after you get off them. Addressing all of the lifestyle issues like toxic relationships and emotional stress may be really key for you, and also determining the root cause of why you got into all of that to begin with (and you may be doing this already). If it were me, I would put more of my focus on the emotional and stress-reduction stuff, and let the food figure itself out. A lot of it is based on how you feel refeeding may be helping you, but it would be a big mistake to just refeed and not address all of these other issues.

    #11908
    Rob
    Moderator

    I agree with The Real Amy, with one addendum: there’s often a two way street there, where eating well can give you the energy you need to deal with those other issues, and then dealing with those issues can help the food stuff sort itself out.

    I think re-feeding definitely helps when disordered and restrained eating has caused a downward spiral. I think it’s also helpful if food is one of the areas in you’re life where you have more agency than others; if you can’t marshall the energy to change your work/home/relationship issues, and food is your main leverage point for turning things around, it can be a great tool.

    But as above- dealing with those other elephants in the room is very important and maybe more so than just eating more.

    #11909
    Rob
    Moderator

    I agree with The Real Amy, with one addendum: there’s often a two way street there, where eating well can give you the energy you need to deal with those other issues, and then dealing with those issues can help the food stuff sort itself out.

    I think re-feeding definitely helps when disordered and restrained eating has caused a downward spiral. I think it’s also helpful if food is one of the areas in you’re life where you have more agency than others; if you can’t marshall the energy to change your work/home/relationship issues, and food is your main leverage point for turning things around, it can be a great tool.

    But as above- dealing with those other elephants in the room is very important and maybe more so than just eating more.

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