Got Too Thin; Now Scared of Gaining Weight

By October 31, 2012

hi, I’m 20 years old and about 8 months ago I started dieting for my health. I was a little overweight by 15 lbs., I’m about 5’4″ and was ***lbs. I started dieting because certain foods were making me really sick, so I cut back on fatty foods and started eating healthy. The doctors couldn’t tell me what was wrong; they thought I had bile reflux, but the medication [they gave me] wasn’t working very well. Then I started losing weight, and got addicted [to it]. I have lost a total of **lbs. I have been starving myself to **** calories a day during the week, then I would binge on the weekend and gain some, but I ended up losing much more then I gained. I have lost my period (5 months ago) and my hair is falling out. I was getting confused and dizzy all the time. I got down to ***lbs. 2 weeks ago I decided that I didn’t want to go down that road, and I am trying to eat a healthy balanced diet and exercise. I have already gained **lbs back! I almost had to leave work this morning because I kept starting to cry every time I thought about it. Is this normal? I eat about 1600 calories a day now and do cardio every day and strength training 3x per week. Will my metabolism ever catch up with my fat gain? My ideal weight is ***, and I would be ok with that, only because I want to be healthy, but at this rate I’m going to be overweight again in no time, please help me, what can I do? – anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

First of all I want to tell you how much I admire your strength and honesty. You have made a big decision that you want to be “healthy” and not go down that anorexic road.  That is not an easy decision to make. You have made some great strides all on your own.

I hear how you are scared of gaining weight so quickly. The refeeding stage of recovery is extremely scary and anxiety provoking. It sounds like you would really benefit from speaking to a therapist about your concerns. It sounds like you are having a very difficult time at work right now, and that is just another added stress.

You also sound like you have a good idea of what you want to accomplish and how you wish to do it. From what you’ve described, you are exercising and eating healthy, it doesn’t appear that you are obsessive about your exercise (remember, that often can get out of control too).

With these things in mind, you may just need some help with the anxiety you are feeling. A good therapist specializing in eating disorders will be able to help you manage your stress while you find your “healthy balance.”  Your metabolism will take a little while to fully trust that you’re not going to “starve” your body anymore, and then it will kick in again.  But it is off balance right now until it gets used to you eating again.

Again, I cannot tell you how happy I am to hear that you caught yourself early on before you spiraled down that dangerous eating disorder road. You are a very strong and resilient person so remember that when times get tough. OK?

I hope this helps you. Please, go talk to a professional who is familiar with treating eating disorders and body image.  See “Finding Treatment” for guidance. They can really help you through this process… all you need is a little guidance and a good support person in your corner and you’ll continue to do great!

Good luck and please take good care of you.

Thank you,

Nicole Bourquin, M.S.