The Plight of The Skinny Man’s Attempt to Gain Weight

Today I write with the intention of sharing a skinny guy’s journey to gain weight, and to share with those who don’t understand just how challenging it can be.  Note that this is *not* intended to be a pity party, but this is a nice way to vent my frustration.

It often seems that people who would like to lose weight often dismiss the challenges that thin people have, because it seems like it should be easy for all people to gain weight since the heavier person has no problems doing so.  I can’t count the times that someone has told me, sometimes without knowing me very well at all, about how skinny I am, how I should just eat more, and/or how they wish they had my problems.  So here’s one guy’s perspective on why this type of thinking feel pretty crappy to hear.

My story:  I’ve always been thin.  At my peak weight, which was about two years ago, my thin 5’9” frame weighed in at just over 155 lbs.  Yesterday I weighed in at 134 lbs.  I feel good about how I look in the mirror for the most part, but I’d like to get back to what I felt was my “ideal” weight.  I wanted to share how much effort it truly is to gain weight, and how if I’m not careful I could fairly easily drop to my adult lifetime low of ~115 lbs, which was downright unhealthy.

So in terms of my eating habits, yesterday was a great example.  I had eaten three sizable meals and a snack.  I had eaten 2177 calories worth of stuff.  Here’s what my calorie counter app told me based upon my resting caloric burn rate and the bit of exercise I had done:


That’s right – if I stopped there, and had ate almost 10% more than that age-old 2000 calorie recommended diet (which turns out to be an under-estimation for most people anyways), I’d be on track to lose another 5 lbs in a mere 4 weeks.  While some people have challenges burning calories, my challenge is that I burn too many just by sitting there, let alone being a little active. I’m not even all that active, especially relative to other people in Colorado!

So with some effort and eating as many healthy foods as I could stuff my face with right up until I went to sleep that night, here’s what my calorie total turned out to be that day:


And this is how I felt:


I felt bloated and like I had just told all the food in sight to get in my belly, but at least I had accomplished something – I wasn’t going to lose weight, and I would gradually gain a little by eating a mere 3200 calories.  Only 60% more than that 2000 calorie number.  If you had pushed my belly like the Pillsbury Doughboy you wouldn’t have heard a “hee hee”, you would have heard me moan with discomfort.

On top of the challenge of how much I have to eat, here’s my self-admitted bad eating habit.  If I allow myself and don’t consciously think about eating, such as when I get stressed or focused on work, I’ll forget to eat.  I might have eaten a light breakfast and then find myself with a growling stomach at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, realizing I skipped lunch.  Then I’ll eat something – either a snack so I can eat dinner, or a regular sized lunch, but then not have the appetite for dinner.  Then I struggle to even make the 2000 calorie mark, and I drop weight like nobody’s business.  I know that some people compulsively eat when they are stressed or not feeling well; I’m just the opposite and forget to eat if I’m not careful.

While I don’t understand what it’s like to need to lose weight because I’ve never been in that situation, I’d like to think I have compassion for those who aren’t really pleased with the way they look in the mirror, especially relative to the way they used to look.  I wish that more people had that sort of empathy for those who struggle to gain weight.  If you’re the type of person who would tell a skinny person to “eat a sandwich” or “I wish I had your problems”, please think twice – they probably did already eat a sandwich and wish they had your problems.  The grass is greener on the other side of the fence.

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