Slim Chance

Weight: 219 pounds

Lost in 2 Weeks: 2 pounds

Total Lost: 34 pounds

Dear Body,

Why are you so bloated? Why? I’m not on my period. I’m not about to be on my period. And I didn’t eat a bunch of crazy foods over the holidays. So… why must you make me feel like a zeppelin about to explode?

Sincerely, Amber

For the past week, I’ve been writing this letter to my body just about every day. Because, boy, oh boy, I am a resident of bloat city. Let me go on record as saying that all bloating is stupid. Did you hear that, body? You’re dumb!

Why do I have to fear waistbands every month just because I’m having a normal period? Apparently, menstrual bloating comes from the change in your hormones. Progesterone drops to make your body shed the lining of the uterus, but that drop also causes you to hold on to extra water and salt. So the bloating doesn’t even help get rid of the lining or make your period go by any faster—it’s just a garbage side effect. Thanks, hormones, for giving us an extreme and totally unnecessary discomfort every month.

But that’s just period bloating. Unfortunately, my body has decided that if I miss a single day of proper vegetable intake, my intestines will effectively turn into balloons for the Macy’s Day Parade. This past week, I’ve been in incessant (albeit mild) pain, felt gross, and had heart palpitations every time I thought about getting on the scale. OK, all this hullabaloo over bloating might seem like a bit much, and I admit that I’m being a bit melodramatic.

But bloating isn’t just about feeling “fat.” For me, at least, it starts off a domino effect that impacts a lot more than my straining waistband.

First, bloating is uncomfortable, it doesn’t go away, and it makes me feel weak. I have no idea why bloating makes me feel weak, but it does. Although I’ve been walking about three miles almost every day for months, during this past week, I could hardly get through those simple steps. At the end of one three-mile walk, I got dizzy and finally sat down when my vision started fading to black. And I’d walked that exact route just three days before!

Add together discomfort, total failure at simple physical tasks, and a belly that feels like it’s carrying around 300 pounds of water, and I get a fun bloating bonus: hating the way I look! It’s been a while since I really thought hateful things about my body, but when I feel so gross, I can hardly look at myself. Luckily, I know that this type of negativity is not helpful, so I didn’t let those pissy thoughts stay around for long. But I felt them for the first time in a few months. And I blame bloating.

I can’t say I’m blameless for my End of December Bloat Week. During the month, I ate more sugar than I had in some time and drank more alcohol than usual.

I’m proud of myself, though: I didn’t binge, and all of my drinks, cookies, and chocolates were planned.

I did a great job of keeping portions small and not eating an entire pound of See’s candy in a day (and believe me, part of me wanted to eat that pound of chocolate the moment I opened the box). But I also didn’t maintain the greatest of diets. I had way fewer vegetables, drank a little less water, and probably had more sparkling wine than necessary. Because of these dietary changes, I guess my body freaked out and decided to hold on to every ounce of water for dear life.

I have to admit I’m annoyed that my reward for a very moderate holiday is a week of bloating. At least now I know that sugar has a massive effect on me and that I need to really keep my sweets to a minimum.

At the end of Bloat Week, I knew I’d have to weigh myself, or my weight at the top of this chapter would just be “?” And it doesn’t seem fair to document my weight loss and then not admit what happened after the biggest weight-gain month of the year. So… I stepped on the scale…and LOST a pound!

A Christmas miracle, indeed. Even though I felt like an elephant that just ate a hippo, I managed to remove another pound. Then, when I looked at my little weight-loss app (where I record all my weigh-ins), I saw that I’d actually lost 4.2 pounds in the month of December! Sorry to brag, but hooray for me! I fully expected not to lose any weight and maybe gain a little during the holidays, but it looks like my combination of intermittent fasting and mindful eating kept working for me.

Maybe this means that I shouldn’t go off the deep end and start hating my body the second something doesn’t feel right.

Maybe I need to remember that getting in shape, losing weight, and feeling good about my body is going to involve ups and downs, and I need to be patient. So, body, here’s a better letter for you.

Dear Body,

I’m sorry I called you dumb. I still don’t agree with your bloating policy, but I can see you’re working hard despite the water weight. I know I’m too critical of you and call you all sorts of horrible things. But I’m trying to love you and I know you’re trying to do the right things. I’m going to try to be less angry with you… and maybe you can cut me a break on my next period?

Thanks, Amber

Amber Petty is an L.A.-based writer and a regular contributor to Greatist. Follow along as she shares her weight-loss journey in her new bi-monthly column, Slim Chance. Take singing lessons from her via Sing a Different Tune and follow her on Instagram @ambernpetty.