Friday, 7 November 2014

Project: Weight Gain

Gaining weight is my top priority at the moment. I don't care how but I have got to get some fat and muscle on me because it's just getting ridiculous. In hospital I was nil by mouth 7 times and not feeling well on top of this really brought my appetite down. Now I'm out, I've been eating like mad and making a special effort to eat high calorie stuff. I've been adding butter to everything I can find, eating nuts and crisps and loading up on sweet potato. I have a new rule that whenever I think to myself, oh I don't feel like eating, I get a glass of whole milk and have that instead. I think forcing myself to eat is a bad idea as I'm prone to vomiting if I eat more than my stomach can deal with, but drinking milk means I still get the calories.

I'm learning not to fear throwing up but to eat until I'm a little over-full every now and again so that I can make my stomach grow a bit. I tend to feel pretty awful if I eat too much because the reasons I don't get hungry are that my lower belly is swollen with water retention (a symptom of my lung disease and general unwellness) and a very enlarged liver, which is caused by my heart struggling to pump blood around my body causing it to pool in my poor sore liver. You can actually see the shape of my liver pushing outwards in my upper abdomen. Both of these things mean that there's not much space for my stomach to swell so obviously I don't want to go pushing it's limits too hard as it's really quite painful and I don't want to make myself dread mealtimes. However, I think I'm doing quite well gradually eating slightly larger portions. I really do love food and anyone who knows me will tell you that I was always eating before my bad health took over. 

I'm currently putting all my food into a calorie counting app, which gives some other information such as fat, salt and sugar contents. My aim is to reach 2,000 calories as often as I can but 1,800 is my absolute minimum. To do this I have to have at least three sizable snacks on top of meals as well as glasses of milk and my calorie milkshakes. My favourite high calorie snacks are pistachio nuts, brie and crackers, bread and butter, pancakes, crisps and as a healthier option a bowl of hot sweetcorn with a little butter. Most days I still struggle to reach my target but I try as much as possible to keep the fat content in my food high while trying to get it from natural sources like milk and cheese rather than deep frying everything so that if I don't manage the calorie content at least I'm getting the fat. 

I really want to put on weight. Quite apart from needing to gain weight for my transplant, I really don't like the way I look now. I know, you'd think I'd have bigger things to worry about but it's still something that bothers me, probably more than it should. I'm more than skinny. I look malnourished and ill. I know people will think, "oh poor you, you're thin, how dreadful, I wish I could eat and not put on weight" and I understand that struggling with too much weight is a far more common problem but my weight issues are a problem for me. I feel like it's even effecting the shape of my face. Im okay, I'm not drowning in self loathing and it hasn't got to the point where I'm not wearing or buying clothes because they make me look skinny, it's just that I'd really like to be a normal weight if it's possible. My nutritionist has said that it might be impossible given that my heart is working so hard it needs all the fuel it can get. But I say nothing is impossible if you try hard enough. If 2,000 calories isn't working then we go up to 2,200 and so on. I'll start eating peanut butter by the jar and drinking calorie shakes like it's going out of fashion. It's happening, whether my heart likes it or not. 

To encourage myself, I'm posting a before shot. After Christmas I'm really hoping I look a bit more of a healthy, normal weight.
And this is the only before-before shot I can find. This was over a year ago. I think looking like this again is unlikely, but I can try.
I don't know how obvious the change is to people who aren't me but I lost over 1 and a half stone inbetween these two photos and those jeans don't fit anymore. Maybe that'll be my goal. To get back into those jeans! 

Wish me luck!!

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