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Gaining weight the healthy way

by Olivia Wong, Fullei Fresh C.E.O.

For Father's Day my dad wanted to have Thanksgiving in June. Being the multicultural family that we are, it meant turkey and pumpkin pie with a few non-traditional foods like arroz con mariscos, broccoli slaw with ramen and zucchini fries. My mom even dug up some old Thanksgiving plates and napkins. As is typical with such a feast, I overate and felt bloated. My tummy was protruding and a food coma was coming on.

Yes it was delicious and yes I want to gain weight, but not by overindulging in meat, rice and sweets. I want to gain healthy weight. That is, muscle weight and through consuming more whole foods. On Saturday, I set a goal for myself of 4 pounds by Labor Day. Call me stubborn, but there is no way I am going to fill up on foods that make me feel bloated or gross in an attempt to gain weight. I do occasionally enjoy a burger, but would much rather have a veggie bowl. The burger gives temporary satisfaction until the meal is over. If I eat too much meat or processed or fried foods, I feel it. My mood changes and I feel I am lacking something. When I eat a plant based diet, I feel energized, happy and satiated without feeling bloated or lethargic. Produce makes me so happy!

The reasons for trying to gain weight are to feel more balanced and be able to function better. When I fall underweight, I feel tired, weak, get headaches, can't focus and my clothes don't fit well. It is a constant struggle which those who don't understand think I'm so lucky.

Genetics, diet and exercise play a huge factor in one's weight. I have always been a good / healthy eater and a fan of exercise. That's why the challenge of gaining is a tough one. I have managed to maintain a body fat percentage of around 20 and between 96 and 102 lbs for over 15 years, which I attribute to changing my diet and exercising. A lot of the meals pictured on our social media are mine (so yes I eat sprouts.) At my heaviest decades ago I was 120 which is chubby on a 5ft woman. Right now I am 98 lbs so to gain 4 pounds by continuing to eat healthy, mostly whole food, plant based is quite a challenge. I will also focus on exercise to gain muscle mass, but do need some cardio for heart health.

My ask is that you all help keep me accountable. Ask me what I ate or when I exercised (I embarrassingly only exercise for exercise's sake 2x week. The rest of the week I am very active but it's mostly walking around the farm.) This personal goal will be chronicled on my personal Instagram stories @oliviawongphotography.

If you have successfully gained AND maintained weight by clean eating and exercise, share your tips. I would love to hear.

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