Hi, I’m Deniza, a 23 year-old medical student from Germany.
I’m currently working on my doctoral thesis in cardiology.
I dealt with back pain due to scoliosis and being underweight for a long time. Researching on sports and nutritional science and what I learned in medical school helped me to build a strong, pain-free body and gain healthy weight.
On my blog askdeniza.com I share my knowledge on fitness/nutrition/health.
My goal is to encourage you to commit your health and take action!
A problem many people have, but that is not spoken enough about is living below their recommended weight.
Nowadays, the majority of fitness or nutritional guides focus on weight loss, which diet fits you best and how to lose fat. In addition to that, there are also many videos and ebooks on building muscle mostly geared towards bodybuilding and fitness enthusiasts.
Also, on social media, you can find endless fitness or weight loss groups, forums where people support one another on their journey.
But what about the rest of us who have a different problem that has to be taken just as serious as obesity?
Having been underweight myself, I know that this is a completely different situation compared to being overweight.
When you meet someone you haven’t seen in a while, typically they comment first on your looks. In fact, it seems to me that people actually like if you have a couple of pounds to lose. Maybe they feel insecure about their own body, thus seeing you are not perfect is reassuring for them.
However, when I was underweight, I would always get comments like “Oh gosh, you used to be so pretty, now you look like a skeleton”, or “Have you lost weight intentionally?”, “Are you sick?”. These comments hurt me deeply and it is still hard to remember that time and write about it.
In this article, I would like to share my tips on how to gain healthy weight and build a healthy relationship with food and exercise. I will start by sharing my own story, to serve as an example.
When I was 18, my cousin, a general practitioner, examined me while I was visiting her. She discovered I had large stones in my gall bladder. This explained why I was having digestive issues, mainly reflux.
Two months after that, I noticed I felt bloated all the time and had painful stomach cramps. In addition to that, I lost weight.
At first, it was 2kg and I was actually quite happy about that, as it was winter and I had gained a few pounds. I noticed that whenever I ate foods containing fat, digestive complications would occur. So, I decided to reduce my fat intake. I kept losing weight and was at 55kg, when my cousin said I should not wait any longer and get the stones removed.
After surgery, the doctors told me my gall bladder was about to burst and it was the right decision to remove it completely.
At that time, I slowly started reintroducing fats into my diet. However, the fact that certain foods had caused me pain had disturbed my relationship with food. I would obsess over every bit of fat I had eaten and wait anxiously if the pain would occur. I knew in my head that it was not possible and my gall bladder was gone. But the thoughts remained.
Somehow, I managed to pass my exams successfully and was accepted to medical school.
That summer, while waiting for my acceptance letter for med school, it got really crazy. We were at the beach and swimming every day and of course, that burns a lot of calories. I didn’t increase my food intake though and ended up losing 5kg in 2 weeks. I was not even hungry, my body was so used to the low calories. In fact, I was eating around 1000-1200 calories that time. My lowest weight was 48.5kg (at 1.73m height).
The turning point was when my mother and aunt, a pediatrics, decided to address this issue. Looking back, I have to say they saved me. I was weak and didn’t know what to do. Everyone at the beach kept commenting on my weight and there were days when I didn’t want to leave the house.
My mum and aunt knew exactly how to talk to me in that situation. They never forced me to do anything, instead they showed me the emotional support I needed. My mum prepared a lot of chocolate pudding for me because I love(d) that and it wouldn’t make me feel bloated. I slowly started to increase my food intake and the first few days were horrible. I would eat and afterwards be so full, it was hard to walk around. I spent a lot of time at the beach, thinking about my goals in life. I knew I wanted to help others be healthy. So, the first step was to care for myself and be a good example.
When my acceptance letter arrived, I felt motivated again and ready to face my problems.
I gained weight until I reached 56kg. Then, I started strength training, which increased my hunger and metabolism and I was able to gain more weight and build muscle to decrease my muscle imbalances due to scoliosis.
Nowadays, I weigh around 59-60kg (or 131lbs) and I feel strong, healthy and love this lifestyle. I am happy to say that I never feel guilty when I indulge in not-so-healthy food or when I skip workouts.
This has gotten far too long, so I will end today’s post here.
Check back next week for my 15 Tips to gain healthy weight!
Have you been underweight? Don’t hesitate to share your story!
Also, make sure to share this article, as I am sure you know people struggling with healthy weight gain.
Wish you all a wonderful day!