Gaining Weight Taught Me More About Self-Love Than Losing Weight Ever Did

Like many women, I grew up believing that losing weight and being thin was the true key to happiness. When I was at my heaviest, I thought that if I could just be skinny, I’d finally be able to love myself again. But even after losing 60 pounds, I still had a hard time with self-love. It wasn’t until I accepted my body as-is that I found peace.

  1. I learned how to appreciate my body for what it can do rather than how it looks. When I was focused on losing weight, I was only focused on calories in vs. calories out. I had absolutely no concern for my body’s strength or overall health except for how many calories I could burn with cardio. When I stopped focusing on losing pounds or keeping weight off and instead focused on being comfortable in my own skin, I made more space in my life to focus on cultivating my body’s abilities. I was thrilled to discover that I am actually super capable! My body can dance, lift, swim, hike, and move in all kinds of ways regardless of its size.
  2. It helped me avoid shallow people and seek out healthier relationships. When I was super thin, I was definitely considered your standard Hot Girl. Consequently, I was always sleeping with and dating other standardly Hot People, but I was always unsatisfied because they were really only interested in me for how I looked. Gaining weight revealed some uncomfortable truths about the people in my life and how shallow they could be, but it also showed me which people truly wanted to be with me for the person I am, not for my arm candy potential. For the first time, I’m in a truly healthy relationship with a person who loves me for everything I am.
  3. It helped me to acknowledge my own body-shaming behavior. The process of losing weight for me was full of body-shaming and negativity. I was constantly striving for a type of body I just didn’t have, telling myself I wasn’t good enough and that I needed to eat less and suffer to achieve the ideal body. When I finally pulled myself out of this cycle, I realized that the body-shaming I was doing was not only cruel to me, it was cruel to all of the other women out there whose body diversity I claim to support and appreciate. Acknowledging this hypocrisy helped me to centralize my own self-love and accept my body for what it is.
  4. I learned how to comfortably embrace change. You know what they say: change is the only constant in our lives. That can be terrifying, but a great way to become comfortable with this truth is to start by acknowledging and accepting the changes in our bodies. When I became more comfortable with the natural changes that would occur in my body, it helped me to become more comfortable with change in other areas of my life, which helped tremendously with my anxiety and helped me stay present and mindful.
  5. It helped me adopt more consistent self-care practices. I’ll be real with you: gaining weight and being OK with it wasn’t always easy. Some days, I’d get really overwhelmed with negative feelings about my body and slip back into the old mindset that I needed to lose lots of weight to feel good about myself. But these were the times that I had to work extra hard to practice self-love and remind myself to be comfortable in my own process. These hardships helped me develop consistent self-care practices that I still have to this day.
  6. I realized that the number on the scale had nothing to do with my overall happiness. Thick or thin, it was all the same. Even after I achieved my “goal weight,” I was still unhappy and lacked self-esteem. That process made me realize that it wasn’t about how much I weighed or didn’t weigh, it was about my own ability to love myself. I realized that until I work on accepting and loving myself for who I am instead of how much I weigh, I’d never be truly happy. Let me tell you, finally saying a big “f-you” to the scale for good was super empowering.
  7. I started growing outward rather than turning inward. Being thin for me meant becoming as small as possible. I thought that being small was ideal and that when I was big, I took up way too much space. It wasn’t until I started gaining weight and becoming comfortable in my body that I realized that my dream of being small was just a dream of ceasing to exist. Gaining weight in a healthy way helped me get more comfortable with expressing myself authentically and not being afraid to take up space.
  8. I started exercising because I enjoy it, not to eliminate calories. Like I mentioned before, when I was losing weight, I was only focused on eliminating calories, not on nurturing my athletic abilities. When I stopped focusing on losing weight, I really learned the true joys of exercising. I started lifting weights, dancing, swimming and doing physical activities that I enjoy, and it’s actually gotten me to the healthiest I’ve ever been. Plus, let’s be honest—running on a squeaky treadmill and staring at the same wall for 30 minutes just to burn calories is absolutely miserable.
  9. I started focusing more on cultivating other parts of myself besides my appearance. Perhaps the most important result of my healthy weight gain was that I finally stopped putting my appearance above everything and started focusing on other things, like becoming successful, going after my creative pursuits, getting out in nature more, and just generally enjoying my life. It’s incredible what can happen when you finally let go of focusing only on what you see in the mirror.
Hannah is a freelance writer, researcher, self-care enthusiast, and devoted cat mom. She loves writing, learning, singing, live music, travel, and supporting other women in living their best lives!