By: Layne Gudenkauf
With medication come side effects, big or small. This was one of the things I was most nervous about while beginning a new medication. While my mind felt a whole lot less stressed, there were still several things that weighed on me. The biggest one was weight gain.
A Little Back Story:
You may be thinking, “Sure what is ten pounds when you feel so much better?” but I know that I am not the only one who had this fear. Part of my anxiety stems from body image issues. Growing up, I was a gymnast. I ate WHATEVER I wanted. Which meant I could eat ice cream and McDonalds and never gain an ounce. Image was sadly a part of gymnastics, so image was always on my mind as I grew up. My sophomore year of high school, I had to quit gymnastics due to multiple injuries, but I ended up continuing to eat like I worked out 25 hours a week and gained a lot of weight.
My last two years of high school, I was well aware of my weight as I was a cheerleader at a new school. My senior year, I decided to try out for the college cheer team, even though I was coming off of ankle surgery and had an impending back surgery just waiting for me. I looked at the try out information and the tryout outfit was a black sports bra and black spandex shorts. Needless to say, I had to lose some weight. I woke up at 4am to work out before school; I would eat grapes for breakfast before getting dressed for school. I would go to the gym at lunchtime and then again after I got out of school. Sometimes, if my brother or dad was going to the gym after work, I would join them for a fourth workout before having a tiny dinner. I lost probably thirty pounds in a month and a half. With injuries and body image issues, I did not make the cheer team (I didn’t exactly try out. I sent in a tape and sat at tryouts uncomfortably in my sports bra).
My freshman year of college, I experienced the “Freshman 15” but in reverse. I was constantly aware of my body and weight and was uncomfortable in social situations where everyone wore tiny skirts and crop tops. I ate wheat thins and drank Red Bull for probably two meals a day. I had my brother’s friend take me to Costco so I could buy my Red Bull in bulk.
In the beginning of my sophomore year, I lived off of Lean Cuisine, candy corn and coffee. I ended up gaining some weight and became uncomfortable once again. I moved into my sorority house the second semester and began to lose weight again. My roommate and I would consistently wake up at 5am to get to the gym before classes and would eat beyond healthy at every meal. I would go to the gym rain or shine. I once was on campus so early that my footprints were the only ones in the six inches of snow that had fallen the night before.
The health kick continued into the summer as my best friend Lizi and I hiked almost every single day. It them continued into my junior and senior year of college because all I had time for was studying and working out. That is how one of my best friends and I hung out, because that was literally all we had time for. I ate yogurt and fruit for almost every meal and began to lose weight again and feel confident. I constantly got comments on how good I looked and how proud everyone was of me for being so healthy.
Okay, there’s the back-story. Sorry it was long, but it was kind of needed.
As you can see, I have had weight and body image issues for the majority of my life. When I began my new medication, one of the first side effects I was told was weight gain. One of my anxieties is social situations and what people think of me, so you can imagine how being told there was a possibility that I would gain weight went over. Not well. Just not well.
But… feeling better, less anxious and a little more level headed may be worth it. I just have started to find ways to be okay with a little weight gain, even though it has not been easy.
I still pinch the fat on my thighs or the love handles that have seemed to appear, but I have also learned to accept them and accept that I don’t have to be skinny to have value. It is still something I want to work on, and it is still something that occasionally bothers me, but I’ve also come to accept that it shouldn’t be the biggest stress in my life. I shouldn’t feel uncomfortable in my own skin, but should rejoice at the fact that I am living a happy life filled with people I love, amazing experiences and opportunities I didn’t have when I was filled with anxiety and fear.