How long did it take until you started seeing side effects of being underweight?
I lost about 20lbs (from 125 to 105 at 5"7) in probably about 6months. I stayed at this weight (105-108) for about a year while doing a lot of intense sports training - I was eating about 2500cals per day to maintain that weight.
Now I'm up to about 112lbs and have recently started noticing some changes. These are - increase acne, lots more body hair (lanugo?) - thin and soft, covers my arms, chest, neck, side of face and extremely dry lips. I haven't had a period in 2.5 years either.
Do you think that this is all happening now because I was underweight for a long time? I can only hope that gaining weight will make all these things go away because right now it's very upsetting when you're trying so hard to put on weight to improve your health and all these other things start getting worse! :(
Has this happened to anyone else? Anyone have any happy stories where when they gained weight their rest of their body/health improved too?
Thanks for reading :)
Hey eskimo :)
I was severely underweight for almost three years (at times this fluctuated a little bit but for the most part it was severely under - BMI averaging 14). Funnily enough it was not until I started recovering that I also started showing signs of damage. Likewise, when I started gaining weight, I started gaining lanugo! In the past three months I have been rapidly gaining up to a healthy BMI, and now that I've reached such it's actually starting to thin out. It's going away... Thank God.
Also, I had the clearest skin ever throughout my entire ED. Now that I've been gaining I too, like yourself, have had some acne breakouts. I think my system has been somewhat "shocked" by the re-introduction of foods it had been forbidden and deprived of for years, particularly a major increase in fats (including saturated) and sugars. But these are necessary foods for it. Don't let the acne deter you from eating them. Just realise that upon approaching healthier BMIs we can do so in a more balanced way... Try to put up with it for the time being and just continue going with your gaining - you're doing fabulously. Consider the fact that your body is probably going through a lot of hormonal changes now with the *necessary* gaining, and as such things like acne are bound to crop up. On a side note, one other thing I've noticed is body odour. No, I'm not stinky, but for the entire duration of my ED any time I sweated it was completely odourless. Now I have a "scent" (sorry to gross anyone out). It's not a bad smell, but a natural smell - and that, most definitely is hormonal. Which, ironically enough, can be considered a good sign.
I also haven't had my period in some time (3 years), but am hoping that this could change soon - and if any of the above hormonal fluctuations are indications, I may soon be looking forward to one. :P
Just stick with it hon. The situation will improve. Realise that you are again, in a sense, transitioning into womanhood, which ED claimed. Keep your eye on the long-term health benefits associated with what you're doing now, and keep going. Later on when you have reached a healthier weight and can maintain at an appropriate and healthy level, everything else will also settle down.
Original Post by ninafish:
Also, I had the clearest skin ever throughout my entire ED.
I didn't know about that! Thanks.
...And I thought it was because of those ProActiv Acne treatment products! -_-'
I am also about 5'7", and started at 130. I unfortunately got down to 93 in a little over 6 months! I was only that weight for a short time, however, as I luckily started to recover this past April. I have gained about 15 pounds and am now at 107ish, and I too am seeing negative effects such as the skin and lanugo issue. Also my hair is still falling out and is thinner than it was even when I was actively anorexic! However, I hear that this is because your hair is proof of your health 6 months prior.
As for the skin, it IS like going through puberty again. I don't know about you guys, but the reason my skin was so "clear" during ED is because it was so **** DRY! Now I'm finally getting my body oils back! So yeah, I have bacne and even arm-ne again, but I'm glad because it means I'm getting better!
Just keep gaining. Your weight is my short-term goal for the month, so I applaud you. Keep it up!
Also, I know everyone's different, but even at my disgustingly low weight, I never missed my period! Weird. So I am POSITIVE you will get yours back soon. Be prepared! haha
Sometimes, your body can have a delayed reaction to not being at its set-point weight because it may be hoping that this period of being underweight is just temporary. Also, damage and symptoms develop over time. Lanugo does not appear overnight - its gradual growth of hair your body develops over time to stay warm. It might be just getting noticable now, but its probably been there longer than you realize.
If you haven't had a period in two years, you should really consider seeing a doctor. In addition to gaining weight, you should probably cut back on the physical training a bit - extreme althetics don't bode well for weight gainers generally speaking, and as a woman you need to redevelop some body fat.
As a note - I'm 5'8.5" and 105lbs too. This is the most I've weighed outside of being IP in five or six years. I've gained about 30 pounds over the course of this past year and my hair and skin went through a phase of being dull, dry and breaking during the winter. Now my hair is thick and shiny again and my skin is back to being clear and soft. How? Almonds, avocadoes, and lots nut butters and olive oil. LOL. Eating a good amount of fats on a daily basis in addition to getting my weight up to a healthier place has done good things. Still have some pounds to gain - but the improvement thus far is lovely. Also got my period back several months ago too. That one's a little harder to be excited for though.
So yes, it can take time for "side affects" to make themselves known, but on the bright side -they can be fixed.
Oh my, this thread has got me worried!
I haven't had a period in about a year, my hair is thinning quite rapidly and I've noticed my finger nails are more brittle than ever. Now I read all these posts about side effects of gaining and hopefully reaching a healthier weight, and it has put the fear of God into me!
I am struggling SO much to even think about gaining and accept it, let alone doing anything positive about it. All my mind is saying is "You don't need those calories". For example, all day yesterday I only managed about 810 calories, and I also went for a 9 mile run in the morning! I know, mad and silly, but I'm sure you all understand how difficult it is to take that very first step into what I consider to be an unknown world.
My therapist is being very helpful and understanding, but I have a feeling next time I go later on this month it will be time for me to be reffered elsewhere for more in-depth help.
Why do I feel so horrified about eating more and also eating calorie-rich foods? I have read many members' posts about their typical meals and snacks, and I can't ever imagine being anywhere near where I should be in terms of how much and what to eat in order to start gaining.
Sorry to hijack the thread but thanks for reading my ramblings!
Waycat, I know how you feel. I am in a similar situation, but not quite as extreme. I am a runner as well and lift weights for an hour every day, but I am taking in about 2,500 cals and still feel extremely hungry. I know that with my level of exercise, my body is eating its own muscle because I am not eating enough. I can't imagine eating less than 1,000 calories a day! You really need to get some help before you damage your body beyond repair. I have osteopenia because of my anorexia. I also do not have my period and have that soft hair growing on the side of my face.
I am slowly getting over my fear of high cal foods because I try to keep my body's metabolism is mind. You only store about 400g of glucose in your kidney and liver. After that is used up, you either need to supply the body with glucose in the form of carbohydrates or your body will begin to literally break down the proteins in your muscle to supply your essential organs with glucose. This is called gluconeogenesis. This is very hard on your body and produces ketone bodies.
Keep reminding yourself that you want to get well and that you want to be a great athlete with a lot of energy. In order to do this, you need to feed your body so your body does not feed on itself! I always tell myself when I eat more than I think I should that I am repairing my body and this will enable me to be a better athlete. I also remind myself that I need an incredible amount of calories, in the range of 3,000-4,000 a day, in order to compensate for my activity. You definitely need that much with the amount you are running. Do you think you could start by meeting halfway? Try to get 60-70% of your calories from carbs, 30% from healthy fats, and the remainder in protein.
Try drinking gatorade when you are running. This will help supply the needed glucose. I had a hard time when I started to drink Gatorade because of the liquid calories, but I felt so much better during my runs that I drink it every time now.
Please try to view food as your medication. You would not want to miss a dose of an important medication that would help treat your disease, would you?Please take my advice to heart; I am still struggling myself, so I know how hoard it is. I am a registered dietitian with a Master's degree in nutrition, and this damg disease is still getting the better of me. View yourself more as an athlete and start focusing on eating like an athlete. If you don't, you won't be able to run much longer. Your body will give out with the abuse, and then you'll go crazy not being able to exercise at all in the hospital. Try to moderate the activity and up the calories, no matter how hard it is at first. Believe me, it gets easier. Sorry this is so long; this is for myself as much as you, I think!
Wow thank you guys so much! It makes me feel so much more positive about the whole gaining thing hearing that it does get better. I'm amazed at how it seems like all of a sudden I am actually REALLY wanting to gain weight.. like I'm finally realising how much I've missed out on and how I need to change this now!!
yay I am SO glad you are on board and ready to gain! It's definitely hard for me sometimes to WANT to gain. It just seems so weird to me because most of America is trying to LOSE weight and sometimes it's easy to get caught up in that mindset and then I realize, oh wait, I need to put on a few pounds! It's hard mentally but think how much better we will look and feel! I think I'm gonna go have a snack! :-)
Great replies guys. It is good to know that we are all in similar company!
Mtnbikegirl, thank you so much for your long and very detailed post. It has some really useful advice, and I hope you don't mind but I have saved it to my computer so I can keep referring back to it.
Coco, you are right - it is so hard to think about gaining when the whole world and his wife seems to be trying to lose. It's strange being in a minority! It is a case of constantly telling yourself that it is the right thing to do in order to be healthy and look good again.
yeah, it's especially hard for me because my mom is trying to lose weight (even though she's beautiful and curvy and not big at all!) and is always talking about how she shouldn't be eating this or that. that makes my ED go crazy and makes ME feel guilty if I eat the ice cream and my mother doesnt! i've tried to talk to her about it, but she doesn't seem to understand how harmful those comments are in regards to my ED. *sigh* she just gets mad and says "well sorry, honey, but I can't help it that I have to lose weight!" I just wish she would keep her insecurities to herself. how am i ever going to feel good about my body when my mom is constantly bashing hers?
sorry for posting this in this thread. it really has no relation to the topic haha
Oh, these posts have resurrected a pet topic of mine: being underweight in an overweight world. No one gets it in this country (US). I felt at home in France--seemed to be plenty of naturally thin women.
Coco621: I don't have any suggestions, exactly, but I can imagine how you feel. Having lunch with a group of women is similar; everyone looks at the menu and goes on a guilt trip about "I shouldn't have this, but..". I just want to enjoy the company. sometimes the other women look at my plate or what I'm ordering and as you said, it is about their insecurities. I just want to have a nice lunch and conversation about something other than weight, choesterol, and calories. For a while, I quit joining the lunches of women that I knew would want to bring up weight discussions.
YES! I went to France in May and they ENJOY their food, take their time and socialize, eat a lot, eat high-fat foods, but they are ACTIVE and walk around a lot, so it balances out. In Paris, there really were very few--if any!--overweight women!
And yes, it is SO tough. The other day I went to Applebee's w/ 2 friends and of course they both got weight watchers meals off the menu, while I ordered the asian chicken bowl. And then they both were complaining that their meals weren't satisfying and they were still hungry. So, even though my ED was screaming at me, I had to laugh a little inside because at least my meal was tasty and filled me up!
I am happy that this topic was posted. Right now i guess you can say that I am underweight.. my bmi is low. im seventeen years old and i noticed that im cold all the time and im losing my hair. im really scared. the past couple days i have been trying to really bump up my calories and am basically forcing myself to eat because i never really get hungry. the only problem for me trying to gain weight is that i am a raw vegan. im having a really hard time but i want so badly to get healthy!
Is acne a side effect of being underweight?
I never had it in my life and developed it about a month and a half ago.
I also find a lot of the problems that you all find when it comes to dining with people who are almost feel like it is their RESPONSIBILITY to feel guilty about food or something. My family and my husband's family are always or were always food/weight/calorie OVERconscious. Now, even if they tell me I'm too thin in one breath, in the next breath they're making comments about "cake is so fattening" or "if we knew what was in this". Perhaps it is all a matter of fitting in - everyone feels as though everyone else is on a diet, and so they spread and share the guilt. I studied in Spain and ate more healthily there. The whole weight-related national psyche is skewed.