I’ve gained a considerable amount of weight in the last two years. Not only did I gain back all the weight I lost a few years ago, I’ve also gained a good twenty new pounds. I’m still about fifteen pounds lighter than my highest weight ever (reached during college in 2006). But I’m fifty pounds above my happy weight. That’s pretty scary.

In college, my husband (then-boyfriend) and I gained a considerable amount of weight during the first two years of our relationship. Happy love weight, if you will. But the numbers were far from happy news: Sixty for him, fifty or so for me. Those years marked my first experience being truly fat. Before that, I’d only really been “curvy.” In those days, we ate as if every meal were our last meal. I vividly remember my regular order at Moe’s: A steak burrito with everything and a full order of chips with a large side of queso. We ate like that several times a week: Biggest Loser pre-show bingeing nightmare scenes.

Then we went on Weight Watchers together. Slowly, I lost around forty pounds. Seemingly effortlessly, Jeff lost sixty pounds. For almost six years now, he has kept this weight off with no problem. So how have I gained it all back?

My lifestyle looks nothing like those scary college nightmare days. I love healthy cooking. I workout consistently. I keep healthy snacks in my drawer at work and drink tons of water and unsweetened green tea. I avoid fast food. I go on walks and take the stairs. I do all the things “they” tell me to do, and yet I feel more hopeless than ever.

Two years ago, I went on a 900-calorie-a-day low-carb diet and lost about twenty pounds. My starting weight was already thirty pounds less than I am now, so by the end of the diet I was at my lowest adult weight ever. I looked awesome, but it wasn’t sustainable. I began gaining weight back almost immediately. For months I ignored the gain, too scared to step on the scale. How did I manage to gain back all that weight without really noticing?

Damned stretchy pants.

ImageThe winter of 2010-2011, I had three pairs of thick, stretchy “dress pant” leggings from New York & Company. I wore these to work with boots and sweaters almost every single day, avoiding my jeans like the plague. Today, while unpacking some of my winter clothes in the attic, I encountered this pair and was filled with instant anger. Why did I let that gain happen, when I knew it was happening? What went wrong? Why couldn’t I pull it together and reach a comfortable weight during my wedding, instead of feeling like the fat bride?

I know part of it had to do with my high-stress job, which robbed me of the energy to put myself first. I was in survival mode, being eaten alive by stress and fighting off daily anxiety attacks. But I have been in a much happier, lower stress job now for almost a year, and somehow I’ve continued to gain.

Emotional eating? Not really. Boredom eating? Maybe a tad, but I don’t even buy tempting foods, so the worst it gets is an extra handful of almonds or some Greek yogurt when I’m not exactly hungry. Huge portions? No. Inconsistent exercise? I’ll admit my workout motivation has been lacking lately, but it’s not enough to account for the uncontrollable gain. Is there something wrong  with me?

Weight gain isn’t the only symptom I have going on. Irregular periods, abdominal pain, acne–check, check and check. Slowly I began to wonder if I could be suffering from PCOS, polycystic ovary syndrome, a hormonal imbalance that affects around 5-10% of women. If it’s indeed the problem, I could have fertility trouble in addition to difficulty losing weight. Jeff and I are still a couple years away from starting a family, but it still really freaked me out. The scariest part is that there’s no real cure for PCOS; one of the only ways to restore fertility is to lose weight, which is really difficult for women with PCOS to do because the imbalance affects hormones that control weight.

I met with my doctor a few weeks ago to review my concerns. She agreed I possibly have PCOS, but wanted to do some blood work before jumping to any conclusions. I still haven’t heard back on the results, so I think I’m going to call tomorrow to check.

Regardless of what the tests say, I know I don’t feel good right now. I’m 28, but I feel like I’m living in the body of a 40-year-old. I don’t feel sexy. I don’t feel good enough for my husband. I don’t enjoy shopping, because I know everything will look terrible on this lumpy body. Sometimes I catch myself wishing time would speed up so I could at least have an explanation for looking like this. It’s just no way to live. I can’t imagine getting pregnant at this weight; I already feel completely miserable in my body, so the thought of adding thirty pounds is terrifying. I need to reclaim my body for myself before even thinking about growing a baby in it.

That’s where I am right now: Knowing now is the time to shed this weight once and for all, but feeling completely lost and confused. Maybe the test results will shed some light.

But one thing is for sure: When I do lose this weight, I’m never wearing stretchy pants on a regular basis ever again!

Stretchy pants are no one’s friend.


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