Over the years I’ve heard a lot of people complain about losing the “last five pounds” that they think is keeping them from their ideal body weight. Generally, when you are trying to lose weight, you will hit a plateau and weigh a little bit above what your target weight was. A lot of people are frustrated and discouraged by this, and as a result, there have been countless products (shakes, diet pills, workout programs, etc) marketed to help them. A quick google search shows dozens of “how-to” articles to get rid of the unwanted last five pounds.
A lot of people think that these last five pounds are a problem. I’d honestly never given it much thought considering I was able to drop as much weight as I wanted during my worst period of anorexia. Even after my son was born, I didn’t think much of whether or not my fat storages fluctuated, because I was nursing him and they were there to help me out.
Last month, my toddler and I got some kind of bug. He vomited twice, had some diarrhea and acted totally normal. It landed me in 36 hours of excruciating abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Within those 36 hours, I vomited three times – everything I ate and drank. I couldn’t even get up off of the couch or the bed without wondering if I would pass out.
During the illness, I joked that I better not be pregnant because I didn’t want to go through Hyperemesis Gravidarum again. It was hell on earth and jeopardized the health of me and my unborn son for over half my pregnancy. With every passing moment of nauseousness, I was sent back to a very dark place in my mind. It is crushing to feel like your body is betraying you to the point of trying to murder your own child and yourself by starvation that you cannot control. No matter what medication they gave me during my pregnancy, nothing stopped it. At least with this illness, I knew that it would eventually end in a matter of days rather than months.
I was right, thankfully, the bug was short-lived and we got back to normal quickly.
That is, until last week when my son started vomiting during the night just after he nursed. I changed three sets of sheets within two hours. We woke up a 3a.m. and stayed up until 6a.m. because he puked on everything clean we could have slept on. Sometime the next day, he stopped vomiting and was fine (apart from some lingering diarrhea). I, unfortunately, was not fine.
I’d lost a few pounds from being sick the month before and with our dietary restrictions, hadn’t been able to put it all back on yet. Despite that, I had begun working out again in moderate amounts. In fact, hours before I got sick I was telling my husband how much better I felt overall because I’d started exercising again.
Then I got hit by the illness again. Whether it was the same strain or a different one, I cannot say. What I can say was that this one hit significantly harder than the first. The stomach ache was initially not as bad, but I vomited food and water and kept vomiting even though there was nothing left. Stomach acid does not taste good, y’all. I began the sickness dehydrated, which meant I was even more frantic to keep water down to retain my milk supply.
Within the first 24 hours, I slept a significant amount (thankfully my husband was around to help), because that was the only way the vomiting would stop. By the next morning, I had vomited over a dozen times and spiked a fever. I tried to eat but couldn’t keep anything down. When I finally was able to eat or drink anything it was two small cups of oranges a few sips of water for a whole day.
I was extremely dizzy and faint from not being able to eat and drink much and I was barely able to move. My husband offered me a shower so that I could try to warm up and I took the chance. Unfortunately, when I got in I noticed that the gap between my thighs had gotten significantly larger, my stomach was flat (an impossibility when I am healthy due to mystery bloating) and my ribs were showing. After I got out, I looked in the mirror and recognized my reflection from a dark time. I pulled out the scale to assess the damage, hoping things weren’t as bad as they looked. My BMI (which is not an accurate assessment of health for various reasons but I will use it in place of my weight here) before I got sick was 18.8. The cut-off for a normal, healthy BMI on the lowest edge is 18.5.
After reading the number on the scale, I realized I was now officially underweight at 17.4.
My husband walked in and gasped as he noticed than my abdomen looked completely different. He noticed my ribs shortly after and basically almost fainted when he saw my butt was completely gone. I looked very skeletal, but we hadn’t noticed since I’d been wearing baggy clothing since the illness begun.
The last time in my life that I had weighed that little was when I was recovering from my initial bout of anorexia. At my lowest, my BMI was 15 and it was by God’s grace that I survived that. This illness sent me down a memory lane that I did not want to go on. It terrified me more with every passing day because, despite the fact that I was no longer vomiting, I was still very nauseous and lacked any appetite. The most I ate one day was a mini package of allergy free gummy worms and some turkey jerky because it was the only thing that didn’t turn my stomach.
The lack of appetite lasted up until two days ago, which has taken a toll on me. I’ve gained some of the weight back (and my bloating :/ ) and my milk supply survived (Thank you Jesus!) but the lack of appetite served as a horrible reminder of what happened back then. When I was finally ready to fight anorexia, I couldn’t even taste food, and I was never hungry. It makes it quite hard to stick with recovery when eating isn’t even enjoyable.
My other concern was that my mind would trick me into wanting to stay at that weight (17.4) and that I would be plunged back into that place that I worked so hard to get out of almost five years ago. Thankfully that didn’t happen, but I am experiencing a lot of the discomfort that I did back then when I began eating regular amounts of food. At this point, I’m having to force myself to eat more than is comfortable because if I eat what is comfortable, it is a spoon or two of mashed potatoes, and even then I feel like someone pumped my stomach full of food to the point I might explode.
Other familiar reminders of my past included my hair coming out, my skin turning gray, and my body being in a constant state of feeling like I’m freezing. I suspect that I might have lost too much weight for my period to come this month, even if I am able to gain it back by that point.
I’m still a little weak and puny, but thankful the worst of it is over. It has been both emotionally and physically taxing, but I’ve had a lot of support from my friends and husband. I definitely lost my “last five pounds” during this illness and have a whole new respect for them. I think your body saves those last five pounds for emergencies just like this illness, so I am grateful fo mine and hope they are replenished soon.
Have you ever worried about your “last five pounds”?
Update: If you’d like to leave me a comment, please tweet me at @newcrunchymom or leave me a comment on Facebook, my comment section has not been working recently so I can see that there have been comments, but I can’t read them. <3
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