What's a gainer?

If you haven't already done so, I would suggest reading my previous post before reading this one.  It's sort of an introduction and gives the motivation.  Also, by way of disclosure, this post is not sexually explicit but it does touch on the topic of sexuality and how that relates to the subject at hand.

So, what is a gainer?  I'll relate, as best I can, the experiences I have gone through myself to help answer the question.  I remember when I was a young boy--perhaps around 6 or 7--I would have various fantasies.  Not sexual fantasies, just daydreaming about hypothetical situations that I thought were interesting or entertaining.  I had many different fantasies.  Sometimes I would fantasize about becoming very muscular, sometimes about becoming very fat.  

These fantasies varied in degree of magnitude and the subject of the fantasy.  Sometimes I myself would change weight--I would become muscular or fat.  Other times, I would do something to make other people fat or muscular.  In fact, at one point, since I acknowledged all of my varying fantasies and didn't know which one I liked best, I invented a room, a hallway of sorts, with several doors.  One door would lead to fat land.  When I got to fat land, I would see people walking around carrying their bellies in wheelbarrows.  I would eat lots of food and lay about on the couch and get fat myself.  When I tired of this fantasy, I would walk out of fat land and back into the hallway, where I could go to a different place.  Upon re-entering the hallway, I would immediately be restored to my original body type.  Then perhaps I would go to tall land, where everyone grows very tall, or muscle land where everyone develops big, bulging muscles.  (Later on, perhaps around middle school, I also fantasized about increasing genital size, but I won't discuss that here.  I'm not ashamed to admit it and I hope that anyone else who does so is not ashamed of it, but I don't want that to be the focus of the discussion.)

I noticed a sort of uncertainty.  I enjoyed all of my fantasies, but I didn't know which one I really wanted.  In real life, I noticed that I enjoyed seeing other boys and men with bellies.  I thought it was cute.  It often made them more attractive to me.  I even recall making a comment to that effect to Karen in the BYU married student ward that we attended.  One of the bishop's counselors (who, in this ward was a student himself) had the slightest bump of a belly, and I told Karen I wanted to have a little bit of chub like that.  I'm not sure what she thought about that, but she didn't respond verbally.  

At this point, I didn't know I was a "gainer", I didn't even know what a gainer was.  I hadn't read anything about it, and I didn't realize there were other people like me.  I had spent a lot of time on the Internet looking up things a Mormon isn't supposed to look at, but that was all (relatively) standard gay porn, it didn't have anything to do with fat fetishes.  

I can't recall exactly when it was, but at least a couple (perhaps a few) years ago, I came across fat fetishism.  Aha.  Now, I know what it is.  And I know that there are other people out there who feel exactly as I do.  This is incredible.  I was so happy to know this.  I think we all like to feel that we belong somewhere.  In fact, I think that's one reason that makes religion so appealing--people fellowship each other there, make each other feel welcome.  Anyway, to some degree, I did feel like I belonged.  Although, I must admit it was only a minor sense of belonging because I've only interacted with other gainers online and even then only through a pseudonym.  But it still felt good to have other people to talk to about it, and to read through other people's experiences and fantasies.  I was astonished at how similar these fantasies were to my own, in some cases.  

So, all through my life, I've been fascinated with fat.  I get excited about the idea of people getting fatter.  I enjoy feeding people--even just normal amounts of food, not stuffing them full.  I even get aroused when thinking about it and watching it happen.  I loved the movie The Santa Clause because you get to watch Tim Allen get fatter and fatter, no matter how hard he tries to fight it.  The scene at the doctor's where you see him shirtless is very exciting to me.  In fact, that was my favorite part of the movie.  

Well, it's one thing to think about fat and to enjoy fat, and another thing entirely to actually become fat.  Now, I realize that most of the time when a person gets fat, it is not intentional.  It's due to many factors (these days, it can even be due to some of the crazy medicines we prescribe).  From all of the studying I have done, I think the largest single factor is biology.  Yes, clearly diet and lifestyle (active vs sedentary) also play a big role.  But, biology is a far bigger factor than most people realize.  Some people's bodies are simply biologically prone to gain weight while others are not.  Conrad couldn't gain weight no matter how hard he tried, and (to my chagrin) neither could I until just about three or so years ago.  Other people gain weight despite every effort they make to diet and exercise.  

I think that our society needs to end the focus on body fat percentage, and even BMI.  Yes, there is a place for encouraging people to be healthy, and I think it's not only acceptable but our duty for us to inform people of the health risks of obesity.  I think it's perfectly fine to tell people (in general) that eating high amounts of carbohydrates can lead to insulin resistance, especially later in life.  What I think isn't fine is hounding a particular person about it, or stigmatizing fatness.  It may be the case that many people do not find overweight people to be attractive, but I don't think we should promote mockery of fat people in public.  Yes, I do my fair share of teasing people about their weight, but I try to only do so when they know it is in good fun and it won't hurt their feelings.  

On a personal level, I think a person should not try for a specific weight nor a specific body shape, but whatever weight or body shape is most comfortable for them.  I mean, if a person wants to be a lean muscle machine, that's great.  If ey wants to be a 300 pound roll of jelly, I think that's great too.  What I think is important is for a person to like eir own body.  I like my body.  I'm currently 255 pounds, with a belly that measures 46 inches in circumference, and I enjoy looking at myself in the mirror.  

I served an LDS mission in Japan 2002-2004.  On my mission, we rode bikes everywhere we went, miles every day.  And eating Japanese food doesn't help you gain any weight.  When I got home in 2004, I weighed 140 pounds.  Yes, I was a twig.  I was 6'6" and 140 pounds.  I had no meat on my bones.  I liked being skinny.  I mean, I didn't know any different.  When I left for my mission I was 160 and that was the biggest I ever had been.  I enjoyed being skinny, and I think that I was really cute when I was skinny.  In fact, I wouldn't mind being skinny again.

Everyone said that when I got married, I'd start getting fat.  Everyone said it.  All the time.  One of Karen's brothers said that by the time he got married I'd be too fat to fit in my tux.  I did gain up to 160, which I think was a very healthy weight for me.  I stayed at 160 until sometime around 2009, the year that Karen died. I didn't monitor my weight very much (we didn't have a scale), but I did start to notice that some of my pants didn't fit anymore.  So, I bought a scale and I was somewhere around 180.  Still, not alarming.  In fact, 180 just might be my ideal weight.  Fast forward about a year to the summer of 2010, where I was creeping up on 190.  

This is the point when I finally decided to go for it.  I had thought about it so many times, and I wanted to try it so bad.  Having never broken the 200 pound mark before, I thought I'd be so big at 220, so I decided to shoot for that weight.  Now, you have to understand.  This is not an easy thing to do.  In fact, what sparked this blog post was a story I was reading on a gainer forum earlier today talking about this very concept.  I would recommend reading it, but I understand it's not for everyone.  However, many of the things described in this story are feelings that I myself have had.  I have found it to be very typical of gainers.  I quote here his first paragraph.
It was time. He knew it was coming, had given it some serious thought and planning, and yet now that it was here he had that same old tingle of apprehension. He knew all too well that the majority of the negativity he was feeling was merely a conditioned response, and yet, even though he was a maverick by nature, he had to admit it was one thing to talk the talk and quite another to come to the edge and take that last step.
So, this is how I felt.  It's one thing to think about it and fantasize about it, it's quite another thing to actually make such a drastic change to your body.  But, I went for it.  I attended the Mormon Institute opening social and ate as much food as I could.  This was a lot harder than it sounds.  In fact, I came to find out that gaining weight can be extremely challenging.  I gave up once or twice before I reached my goal of 220.  But, after a few months I did reach it.  I downloaded one of the calorie counter apps for my phone and just used it in reverse, to make sure I was eating enough calories to increase my weight.  I weighed myself every day, and I got so excited by the gains.  The losses were also discouraging, just as I'm sure gains are discouraging for people trying to lose weight.

Each milestone was exciting.  More and more of my pants were no longer fitting, and even some of my shirts were getting too tight (this didn't happen all that soon because I always liked baggy shirts).  It was sad when I'd outgrow a favorite pair of shorts or pants, but at the same time it was exciting because it was a milestone I had passed.  I remember the first day I noticed my legs bumping against each other as I walked.  It was cool to notice these things.  The first day I could grab my love handles. All of these little victories.  I loved it.

When I got to 220, I still didn't feel big enough, so I set a new goal for 240, and then 260, and then I set a goal for 300.  I never made it up there.  It was too hard.  I was tired of stuffing myself, eating way too much food.  It's hard on a body to digest that much, especially when the body is saying "enough".  I got up to 280 and couldn't get any higher.  I stopped trying.  Partly because I was discouraged and partly because I figured I was big enough.  (Also partly because they don't make pants much bigger in the waist and long enough for me.)

I often have thoughts about losing weight.  For various reasons.  I want to show people that I really can do it.  I want to be able to walk up three flights of stairs without getting winded.  I want to be healthier. I want to be "sexier".  But at the same time, I enjoy my body.  I love the way I look, even though I know most people think I was more attractive when I was 160 or 180.  I love having a belly to squish, and I like being a pillow for Conrad.  And Conrad has been very supportive.  Ever since I first told him I was a gainer (which was a few months before he moved in with me), he has been supportive and let me know he will love me no matter what my body looks like.  He's very sweet, and I think everyone needs a partner like him.

I have found that many gainers feel similar feelings--a dichotomy (or, rather trichotomy) of thought.  Should I gain, stay, or lose?  In fact, this is a question that I often see gainers ask on various forums.  People will post a YouTube video of their belly and then ask "What do you think?"  Every once in a while, a troll will come on call them one of those unoriginal diminutive names.  But, for the most part, the comments are other gainers encouraging them or saying "Whatever you want to do with your own body."  And that's really the message I think our society should be sending.  Yes, we can encourage people to be healthy or at least inform people of the health risks they might be taking, but I think the most important thing is to just let people live the way they want to live.  Maybe they want to be fat, maybe they want to be thin.  Maybe they wish they were thin, but don't want to put in the effort or simply can't despite vast amounts of effort.  Well, there are also thin people who wish they were fat and haven't been able to gain weight despite eating everything in sight.

So, that is the conundrum that I often find myself in.  Do I want to be slender?  Do I want to be chubby? Do I want to be muscular?  Yes.  I want all three.  And that's the problem.  When I play the Sims 3, I can make my guy get really fat and then run it all off all in the same day.  I wish I could do that in real life.  (In fact, I've fantasized about that many times--about a body sculpting machine where you can control how you look.)  Sometimes I want to be fat.  Sometimes I want to be thin. Sometimes I want to be buff.  I've been thin.  I'm currently fat.  I like both of those.  I've never been muscular, so I don't know whether I'd like it, but it does seem appealing.  Conrad says he doesn't like big muscles, but I could go for a smaller yet muscular frame.  Do I have the energy and ambition to do it?  If I set my mind to it, after all I did get from 190 up to 280 when I put my mind to it.  Gaining 90 pounds is no small feat, especially when you're talking about just a year and a half.

But, the thing that really makes me want to share this is because gainers (and all others--encouragers, admirers, chubs, chasers, etc) are almost all closeted.  Some will share their identity, but most will not.  Every once in a while, I'll come across a YouTube video with a face in it.  But most of the videos are faceless bellies.  I want society to be more accepting.  I want people to be able to "come out of the fridge", as some gainers have said, and not be shamed or ridiculed.  I want people to understand what it's like.  I want people to see how important this can be to a person.

When I started gaining weight, I really thought I'd get more comments than I got.  Only a small handful of people said anything at all.  One friend stopped in his tracks and remarked "You're huge!"  Another asked if I had been on an eating spree.  I thoroughly enjoyed these comments.  To me, they were compliments on how well I had done in my quest to gain.  But it was sad when I went to visit family and only my little brother commented.  Actually, I think one of my nephews did too.  I know that they love me, and I really didn't let it get to me.  But I was kind of expecting some teasing.  Many gainers want the attention.  Some do not.  Some want to be treated like everything's normal.  Some want people to point out how big they've become.

To be honest, one of my least favorite things is when I mention that I've got fat and someone replies "You're not fat" (sometimes followed by "you're just pleasantly plump" or some other euphemism).  I appreciate them saying it, because I understand their reasoning.  And I think this may be a very appropriate response for a person to give.  I wouldn't want what I say here to make anyone feel guilty about saying such a thing.  But, when someone says that to me, it kind of makes me think "Hey!  I worked hard to get this belly.  Don't tell me it's nothing."  Yes, that does sound silly, and I can admit that.  But I really do have that feeling.  This is real to me.

There were many times when Conrad would try to tell people that I'm a gainer, and I would always get embarrassed by it and try to change the subject.  I have been very self-conscious about it.  I'm aware that most people don't understand it and make sweeping judgments about it.  But I am now ready to admit it, and not hide the truth.  I am who I am.  I can pretend to be someone else, or I can be me.  Only, when I'm being me there isn't any pretending involved.  I don't have any lies that I need to remember.

As I said above, I am comfortable with my weight.  I eat "normal" food.  I do try to eat healthy things.  In fact, I love a really good green salad with onions, carrots, bell peppers, pepperoni, beets, olives, pickles, garbanzo beans, mushrooms, spinach, ooh la la.  Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.  But, basically I just eat when I'm hungry and only eat until I'm full.  I feel healthy (at least, a lot healthier than when I was trying to eat 5000 calories per day) and I'm maintaining weight.  Who knows where the future will take me.  But I do know that I finally want people to see me the way  I am.  And that I am proud of who I am.