I’ve Gained 40 Pounds–Here’s What It Taught Me About My Body

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been taught to value being thin. Growing up in the early ‘90s and 2000s, I saw my fair share of tabloid magazine covers with unflattering pictures of celebrities highlighting the weight they had gained. It was also the era of commercials advertising low-carb diets and weight-loss pills. But it wasn’t just the media selling the appeal of thinness—I saw it firsthand, from women like my mom and her friends as they struggled with their body image and tirelessly tried diet after diet to lose weight. All of this taught me to take pride in my naturally thin frame. 

Fast forward to about a year ago when I gained 40 pounds. I watched as my body began to grow into a size I didn’t recognize. When my clothes no longer fit, my first instinct was to panic. After all, it was ingrained in me that gaining weight was something to be feared, and now that fear was my reality. If I could no longer take pride in being thin, what could I take pride in? This question led me to reevaluate my relationship with myself and my body, and while it’s been a difficult and emotional journey, it’s transformed my life. I’m sharing six valuable lessons I learned about self-love after weight gain.

christine winder the everygirl


Christine Winder

Christine Winder has been writing for The Everygirl on wellness and lifestyle topics since 2021. She lives in Richmond, Virginia.

Insecurity follows you regardless of your body size 

Every time I look at photos of myself from college, I see a young, beautiful girl, but at the time they were taken, I didn’t see that at all. I was so focused on my acne and what I thought were thick thighs that I couldn’t see past my insecurities. Now, at my heaviest weight, I sometimes look back and wish I could look like that again, but I’ve learned that no matter how I look or what size I am, the outcome would be the same: I’d still only see my flaws. That’s because loving your body has to come from within. Trust me, I know it may sound cheesy and it’s easier said than done, but learning to accept and embrace your body for what it is and all that it does for you is the only way to start quieting those insecurities, not actually changing your body. So, instead of picking on how my thighs look, I remind myself to appreciate that my legs are strong and allow me to take my morning walks. No amount of weight loss or gain can change that. 

There are more important things about me than what I look like

Growing up thinking being thin was the only definition of beauty, it’s no surprise that gaining weight has been a hard mental adjustment for me. I immediately wanted to put a label on my new body like “fat” or “midsize,” but instead, I decided to focus on ways I could define myself that have nothing to do with how I look. I thought about how my friends and family would describe me: I’m hardworking, thoughtful, funny, and kind. All of these attributes are what make me, me, and what I look like doesn’t change that. I’m not any less of these qualities because I’ve put on weight. And it doesn’t mean I’m less worthy of being happy, having strong, nurturing relationships, or pursuing a career I love. I deserved all of these things before I gained 40 pounds, and I do just as much today. 

“And that’s the only thing other people would see; they would see how confidently I carried myself, not knowing or caring that I went up a few clothing sizes.”  

Your clothes should fit your body, not the other way around 

When I first started gaining weight, it pained me that I couldn’t fit into my favorite pair of jeans anymore. I tried to squeeze into them multiple times, not wanting to face the reality that I needed a bigger size. But after watching myself struggle in the mirror to get them over my hips, I decided it was finally time to buy jeans that fit my new body. When I asked for my size, I was worried the sales associate at the store would judge me, but as I tried on the new pair of jeans and zipped them up comfortably, I realized something: There’s no shame in buying clothes that fit you. I’d been squeezing into pieces that didn’t fit me for so long that I forgot what it was like to feel good in clothes. I liked how I looked and felt in these new (albeit larger) jeans, and that’s all that mattered. And that’s the only thing other people would see; they would see how confidently I carried myself, not knowing or caring that I went up a few clothing sizes.  

Change is inevitable 

As a Virgo rising and Taurus moon, I don’t like change; I prefer to have control over all situations. But when my body began changing, I felt completely out of control. Then my best friend asked me a question that helped shift my thinking: “You don’t expect to fit into the same clothes your whole life, do you?” I had never thought about that before. I didn’t beat myself up for growing out of the clothes I wore as a child, so why should I feel bad for outgrowing clothes as an adult? My body has been changing and evolving since day one, and now is no different. Realizing this helped me understand that change is inevitable. When I become pregnant one day, my body is going to change (and get larger), and as I age, my skin is going to wrinkle and my hair will likely turn gray. My body is going to continue changing for the rest of my life, so instead of trying to control it, I should accept and appreciate my body for what it is in each phase.  

“I didn’t beat myself up for growing out of the clothes I wore as a child, so why should I feel bad for outgrowing clothes as an adult?”

I’m actually healthier now

In an Ozempic world, many people equate being thin with being healthy. And while there’s nothing wrong with striving to be your healthiest self, it’s important to remember that what you look like and your body weight isn’t necessarily an accurate depiction of how healthy you are physically or mentally. A person’s weight is just one of many factors that influence their health. 

At my thinnest, I experienced one of the darkest times of my life. Sure, I received compliments on what I looked like on the outside, but inside, I was battling anxiety and depression, working a job I hated, and feeling stuck in an unhealthy relationship. Now, even though I’ve gained weight, I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been. Without the constant pressure of trying to stay thin, I no longer approach working out as a punishment or as a way to burn calories. Instead, I prioritize movement to feel good, and I find enjoyment in it. I’ve learned how to manage my anxiety and depression by working with a therapist and prioritizing taking care of myself and my body. Instead of focusing on being thin, I focus on my overall health by lowering my high cortisol levels and eating balanced meals. 

No one notices the difference like you do 

No one thinks about you as much as you do. Not to say we’re all self-involved, but rather, we’re our own worst critics—we’re quick to point out our flaws and judge ourselves for not looking a certain way or not being good enough. I was so worried about what my friends and family would think about my new frame, but when I brought up gaining weight, I heard the same response every time: “Oh, I didn’t notice.” When I realized this, I stopped stressing about gaining weight and started focusing on things that matter more to me, like my relationships. People are so worried about their bodies and how people perceive them that it’s unlikely they notice any changes in your body. And if they do, they won’t think it matters.  

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