Sunday, November 5, 2017

Fashion Passport

Yesterday was an emotional day. After years of dropping serious cash into the registers of Macy's Plus size department, I bid it farewell for what I hope and pray is the last time.

It's a strange feeling to leave the comfort of the plus size world - especially where shopping is concerned. For my entire adult life I have been shopping among the familiar racks of Macy's Women's department and Lane Bryant (when it still resided in the Lehigh Valley Mall) and knew exactly where to find "my clothes." When you're 5' tall and weight upwards of 240 (252 at my highest...*gulp*), pickings are slim (even if your body is not) and you get used to the hunt to find clothing that perhaps not necessarily flatters, but rather doesn't make you look like the beached whale you perceive yourself to be. When you essentially have one store at your disposal (because you absolutely, positively HAVE to try things on - ordering online would be certain death), it's a long and arduous process, complete with anger, frustration, and disgust. And maybe a little sweating. And let's be honest, cursing.


Shopping, especially within the past 5 or so years, as I climbed to my heaviest weight, was hardly an enjoyable experience. I spent a LOT of money on clothing that I didn't exactly love, but felt was the best I could do, given the state of my round, squat shape. It's infuriating how expensive plus size clothing is as well. Sure, I tried shopping the sale racks -  but who needs short sleeve tropical prints and white jean shorts when it's almost Christmas?


I've known for the last few weeks that I needed to go shopping, as I shrank out of my ass-grabbing tight tailored 18W pants quite a while ago. Luckily(?), the global warming every Republican's been denying exists, found us with an unseasonably warm October and early November, allowing me to extend the lifespan of my cropped stretchy pants that I've been wearing since before my surgery. It was ok for a while, but as the weeks fly by, I found myself hiking up my drawers more times than I cared to, and finally ended up overlapping the waistband and  securing them with the world's largest safety pin. The writing was on the wall. Get thee to the mall... STAT.


I'll admit that I'm a shopper at heart. Even though I switched careers to become a teacher, my inner fashion diva has never left my soul. Her voice had been squelched over the years with each pound gained through my adulthood. She was essentially on life support, trying desperately to survive, but the odds were against her. The bigger I got, the less options there were for me to choose from, and the less she could assert herself. Do you know how many hideous prints are offered to the plus size community? It's staggering. I mean, we draw enough attention to ourselves with our size, now we have to decorate ourselves in a look that screams "Mardi Gras threw up all over me" too?


Regardless of the lack of choices, the plus size department at Macy's was, in a way, akin to a cozy blanket. It was where I knew I belonged and fit in. I could shop there and even though I wasn't happy that I and my clothing bared the plus size label, I knew that I could always find SOMETHING that would make me look presentable. It didn't matter so much how I felt in it, just that it fit and looked professional.  The cashiers in the department knew me. I knew them (and had chastised them plenty of times for forgetting to remove the security tag from my purchases (such as my suit jacket I had purchased for an interview - not THAT'S a good story for another time). It may sound weird, but I took comfort in a way, knowing that I had that one place to go where I was familiar with the brands, the fit, the styling. I came to understand what would work just by looking at a cut, and what would make me laugh out loud if I even attempted to put it on. I'm pretty sure that some designers create pieces in plus sizes just to torture those of us not blessed with a runway model's bod.


Yesterday, as I put on the smallest pant size offered (14W's) in the plus department, a flood of emotions came over me. Buttoning those pants and realizing just how baggy they were was both shocking and elating. In a split second I went from the excitement of seeing true progress from the surgery to the worry of not knowing what size I actually was or where to go to find pants that actually fit. It should have felt triumphant, and admittedly it did to a certain degree - but it also felt overwhelming and daunting. Finding myself in unfamiliar territory at the mall was an entirely new experience.


With no time to waste, off to the petite (!!!) department I went, in search of "regular" sized (but short length) pants. When you have body dysmorphia, as I suspect I do, this is a tough thing to do. I felt like a fraud shopping in this foreign (to me) department. The fat girl still lurking inside of me felt like people would look at me and wonder why I was there. As I scoured the racks of pants with single digit sizes, I worried that I was fooling myself into believing there was actually anything here for me that would accommodate my still very curvy shape. Interestingly enough,  missy and petite sizes extend from 0 to 16, sometimes even 18. Sizing is different between a missy or petite 18 and a plus size 18W (although please don't expect me to explain the difference because honestly, even after being in the fashion biz for 15 years, I'm not sure, and it definitely varies from vendor to vendor). I knew I wasn't an 18, and hoped I wasn't a 16, so I wished upon a lucky star and grabbed as many 14's and yes, even 12's that I could find. Since I'm shrinking at a relatively rapid rate, I figured as long as I could zip them up and nothing was cutting off my circulation, I'd buy the smallest size I could fit into, knowing that soon enough,  these too would be loose. Imagine my jubilation when I zipped up a pair of 12's - in velvet (not stretchy) fabric!  Hell yes, they are tight, but I wouldn't describe them as seam splitting. Win Win! I can still wear them comfortably with a tunic and feel comfortable.


I almost cried right there in the dressing room.


And then I smiled. A. Big. Old. Shit. Eating. Grin.


Somebody, quick! Go hide my wallet. This shit just got real.

















Sunday, September 24, 2017

Checking in

I never intended to allow almost 2 months to pass by without a post, but here it is - September 24th and I haven't posted since August 6th. So much has changed since my vacation and I think mentally, I'm in a much better place. Going back and reading that post made me appreciate this journey I am on, and understand that it's a process - and ebbing and flowing if you will - that is all part of the experience.

I am 4 days away from being a full three months out from surgery. That seems crazy to think that the time has flown by so quickly. I'm happy so far with my progress (I think) - but am beginning to understand the importance of this honeymoon period and what I need to start doing in order to get maximum benefit out of the next 9 months.

Today I weighed 201.1 lbs. I've been on a stall now for about 8 days, fluctuating between a ridiculous half pound up and down each day....AND have my damn period, so I suspect I could be holding here for another week. So far I am down 38 pounds from my surgery date, and 50.7 total since June 8th. Since surgery I've been losing an average of 12 - 13 pounds per month, which to me, is not an insane amount of weight to drop per month, but is also nothing to sneeze at, since I don't recall ever being able to do that consistently on my own pre-op. People have told me they notice a difference and I can definitely tell when I put on my clothes - especially the oldie but goodie stash I have hanging in my closet. I'm now fitting into a tight but workable size 14 jeans but still able to wear my 1X tops....just very comfortably now, if not slightly on the loose side. When I was pushing 252, I had ventured into the 3X range for some of my tops and those are definitely no longer a part of the circulation of clothes. I need to start packing stuff up to donate. I'm not gonna lie - it's both exciting and petrifying at the same time.  I "see" changes too when I look in the mirror, but not the "drastic" difference others tell me they are seeing. My brother in law was really a good test yesterday - he kept saying "Wow" - and he's really not one for lip service so I believed the fact that he actually notices a major difference. To me, I look like my normal self. But perhaps that is because at my highest weight, I didn't really recognize myself to be me either. I believe I was in some kind of major denial about just how big I had gotten.

Anyway - with the onset of school, there are a few things I have been doing well, and others that I really need to work on. The biggest difficulty has been getting in my liquids. I'm pretty much residing in a borderline-dehydrated state. NOT good. The drinking has been difficult due to the nature of my job, but I can't make excuses....this has to be a priority and so far I haven't made it so. So, that is something I am working to adjust. Protein is fine and I feel like I am getting in the 60 required grams or more a day. Even taking the vitamins has been mostly consistent with a missed evening here and there but I am usually pretty good about staying on top of that. Exercise is the biggest factor. I feel the weight will drop more quickly if I can amp that up. My energy level is up this days (when I am not sick - which I am this week. Allergies or Kindergarten crud? I'm not sure.) But I just need to make the time to do something active each day after school. I am going to try to get to yoga and the Rodale Aquatic club at least 2 times per week to begin and build up from there. I have plenty of equipment in the basement to fill in as needed. I decided that 2 nights per week at school is the maximum I want to devote to late nights doing school work this year. I need to do better with self-care. I've spent my life not taking time to do things for myself to promote my health - so if ever there was a time to begin, it would be now.

That's about it for now...just a check in and affirmation that things are going well. The reflections help me see what I still need to work on and acknowledge just how far I've come. It's important to document this journey for many reasons....but the greatest reason of all is - I never want to go back to the old me.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Oh, the Torture!

Just when summer is starting to get good, it has to go ahead and be damn near over. It's August 6th already which means vacation is just about coming to an end and before you know it, I'll be back inside the classroom again going full steam ahead until next summer. The thought nearly brings me to tears.

And it's not because I don't love my job. I do - more than I ever dreamed I would. But this summer was soooooo not the summer I had hoped for, and for that I'm kind of feeling more deflated rather rejuvenated about the upcoming school year. Let's just say I am definitely not ready to give up these lazy days for early mornings and long nights just yet.

This vacation has been like no other. I'm having a great time going to the beach - it is my ultimate happy place after all - but it's been an entirely different "vacation" experience than what I am used to. My love of eating out, especially coastal cuisine, is legendary. I absolutely get off on visiting my favorite restaurants in both Bethany and Rehoboth, and savor the dining experiences that I only get to enjoy but once a year. It is as much of a joyful vacation aspect as is the beach - and it completes the experience of being away and enjoying life to the fullest. 

We went out to eat exactly one time during our entire vacation and I was only able to eat about 4 - 5 bites of my dinner. At 5 weeks out from surgery by body is simply unable to tolerate many different things at this juncture. While the salmon was a stretch, the beluga lentils and brussel sprouts were a definite NOPE. Overall, my not best dining experience to date. 

Not to mention the torture of hearing the waiter describe the new cocktails they had to offer. I almost shed a tear. I shit you not. Honestly, it's the first time I think I viewed this surgery as being a burden on my life rather than a blessing. I've begun to struggle with wondering is it better to be fat and happy than losing weight and being totally bummed out that you can't eat? I think I know the (correct) answer but right now it's really fucking difficult to see the forest from the trees. 

Walking downtown was another test last night. Smells EVERYWHERE. I couldn't escape them. It wasn't fun and it reminded me of how I just used to eat with abandon and not care. I would have definitely had my fair share of Fisher's popcorn and ice cream last night, to the point of probably feeling sick. Last night I had two licks of Josh's ice cream cone and that was it. I could have eaten more (it went down pretty smoothly with zero problems), but I stopped. I don't need to head down that slippery slope only 5 and 1/2 weeks in. Hells to the no.

I feel like this bitch-fest simply comes back to one thing. This is NOT an easy road I've chosen. But I HAVE chosen it and I have to live with my decision. If I sound like a whiny shit right now, I'm sorry. I don't mean to. There's just so many things that are new to me, and frankly a bit hard to swallow (no pun intended) at the moment. I do know that it will get better and my body will begin to adapt to this new way of life and I will eventually be able to eat more substantial foods than cottage cheese and deli meat roll ups, but for now,  this is my reality and I have to accept it. There is no alternative. There is no going back. You can't "undo" this surgery. What I really need to do is "undo" my brain and forget the past ways of life (and vacation) and embrace the new chapter I'm in the process of writing. It may not be the most exciting chapter but I have a feeling that will change. 








Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Patience is a Virtue

Today marks two weeks since my sleeve surgery. TWO WEEKS! Time is flying and while I am thrilled to be getting ready to move on to the next food stage (purees) in one more week, I am also kind of freaking out that summer is zipping by a little too quickly.

I want to talk about something very specific today in regards to this whole journey I am on - and that is the topic of patience. I've always considered myself to be a relatively patient person. After all, I teach Kindergarten and when dealing with 5 and 6 years olds all day, it's kind of the one character trait you really need to own. Well, that, and vodka sure helps a lot.

Perhaps it's easy to be patient with those that you know require it. Small children and the elderly. Pets. And let's face it, sometimes your spouse. But how about when it comes to being patient with yourself?

Like any normal weight loss journey, patience with myself is required here. And even though I had 80 - 85% of my stomach cut out, I still need to remember that this process is a more a marathon, not a sprint. The weight does not simply drop off instantaneously, as I once thought it did. It still takes time and when you least expect it, your body can revolt against you and decide it's not in the mood to lose. This is what I am experiencing now.

Last week, on Thursday, I had my 1 week (and a day) post op appointment and was told I had lost 9 pounds since surgery day. I was completely elated to know that I lost more than a pound a day since my procedure, and the nurse seemed equally pleased with my progress. Perhaps there was a little too much joy in the room that day. Perhaps my body just wanted to knock me down a peg or two. But whatever the case,  I've been at a weight loss stall ever since. More or less. I did lose 1/2 pound more 2 days later but that's it.

So now I'm two weeks out and only 9 1/2 pounds down when I really thought I'd be further along. I was warned this would happen - I just didn't expect it so soon. I was mentally ready for the dreaded week 3 stall - not the week two stall. And trust me, I know how neurotic and ridiculous it all sounds - I mean I'm only two weeks in - but this is where my head is right now, so apologies in advance for my idiotic rambling.

I will say that friends on the Bariatric Support page on Facebook have been encouraging. They have shared their own stories of stalls and impatience to get the scale moving in their favor again. It's been helpful to know that this is normal and that its nothing I'm doing to prevent the weight loss. It still doesn't make it fun, or easy to accept. When you go through a major surgery, as I've done,  you want to see the fruits of the surgeon's labor sooner rather than later. During that first week, every morning was like Christmas Day. Seeing the scale go down each day was a gift like no other I've ever received. So its hard to go from the scale being my BFF to sticking it's tongue out at me within a matter of days.

And I do realize its only been a few days. And as far as I know,  the stall could end tomorrow. Or maybe not. Honestly, it could last for a few weeks based on what I've read in the forums. Whatever the length of time it lasts, I know I shouldn't panic. I understand that I just need to just ride it out. But I won't say it's not disappointing.

Logic an reason tell me to simply continue to do what I've been doing. Getting my fluids, getting my protein and getting in exercise each day. I've been cleared for swimming so now I feel like summer can "officially" begin and I can do the activities I love the most. Beyond that, I suppose I need to learn to trust the process. This is a life change. Change does not happen over night. Making the changes I need to keep the weight off long term is what I should be, and am, focusing on at the moment. The weight loss will come. The surgery has not failed me. I just need to be.....patient.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Tell All

On June 18th I announced on Facebook that I was having gastric sleeve surgery. I'd been hinting that something different was going on in my life through a few ambiguous posts about drinking protein shakes for a few days. Once I had gotten a few inquiries regarding what the hell was up, I decided it was a good time to spill the beans.

I've always been something of an open book. While I can certainly keep other people's entrusted secrets, I am absolutely flawed when it comes to containing information about myself. Even when I know it might be more advantageous to keep my big fat mouth shut. My thinking behind divulging this somewhat personal choice I was making was simple. My being fat was certainly public. I didn't see any reason why shedding it should be any different.

Although I knew that I didn't want to keep my surgery under wraps,  I did think long and hard about how I would want to present the information that I was having the procedure that would: a) put the emphasis on health, not aesthetics, and, b) did not invite the opinions of others. After all, I'd been preparing for this surgery since November of 2016. There wasn't a snowball's chance in hell that anyone could convince me to back out after all of the prep work I had done.

What I found after making my announcement was an outpouring of love and support from many friends and family members alike. Granted, a number of folks knew before my Facebook announcement anyway, but upon my "surgery outing" still sent me well wishes for a successful journey and encouragement to see this thing through to the end.

This is not to say that I was not met with opposition from some. Not on Facebook, mind you - but in my real face to face interactions with people close to me. I (surprisingly? not surprisingly?) had both friends and family members spew judgements and unsolicited suggestions at me like you wouldn't believe. I was told I had given up. I was told I needed to eat less, and exercise more (Wow - what a stupendously novel idea! I wish I had thought of that). I was told I could absolutely do it on my own (hmmm...not sure why I haven't been able to, though, for the last 25 - 30 years).

I thought I'd be prepared for the comments. I really did. But the truth is, I wasn't. They hurt and they made me feel bad about resorting to this extreme to regain my health.

Look, I get it. Opinions are like assholes. Everyone's got one. But when the opinions of some of those close to you are adamantly against the one thing you firmly believe in, it does something to the relationship you have with those individuals. I should mention that these comments were coming from some people who have no idea what a 100+ pound struggle is even like. It galls me to no end that someone who has never dealt with weight issues would even HAVE an opinion about how I go about losing mine. And yet....

But it didn't stop there. I also had people who DO have weight issues telling me I was crazy for doing it, or offering me the chance to try a different program that they had done and with which they were successful. I'll admit, the more frequently I fielded comments of this nature,  the less worried I became that my responses would insult the commenter themselves. After all, they obviously weren't worried about how their words were affecting me.

Perhaps most surprising of all were the people who came out of the woodwork - friends from my long ago past - that opened up and admitted privately to me that they had also had weight loss surgery. These are people that I am friends with on Facebook and marveled at how all of sudden,  they looked so fit and healthy - and thin. For the longest time, I coveted their willpower, wondering why the hell I couldn't get my shit together and do what they did, not knowing they too, decided enough was enough and chose surgery as a way to get their lives back on track.

The public versus private debate in the bariatric world is a big one. Some people really do not want anyone to know this is the path they have chosen. I understand that to a certain extent. As I said before, being fat is kind of a public issue. You can't hide it - it's out there for the world to see. Just like when you begin to lose weight. It's out there and people will notice, even if you don't draw attention to it. Questions will be asked. Answers will be expected. I simply knew I didn't have the wherewithal to make up something that satisfied inquiring minds about "how I did it."

Some have suggested replies such as "with hard work and dedication" or "I've been blessed." I suppose both of those would work but I also know that people aren't satisfied with answers like that (I know I wouldn't be - I want the real dirt!). They want details. The skinny, so to speak. So instead of being bombarded with inquiries later, I thought it best to get it out in the open. I had surgery to help me. Notice I said HELP. Not do it for me. This is by no means the easy way out. I know I have been given a tool only. Not a magic pill. Not a quick fix. Not a solution that won't require any further work on my part. It simply will help to allow me get to a place where I can feel good about myself again. Where I can be active and energetic and live life the way I have been denying myself living it for years.

Thankfully, even after all of the comments, both positive and not so positive,  I can say that there are no regrets in my decision to either have the surgery or be upfront about it. I fully understood I was opening myself up for both support and criticism, and thankfully there has been far more of the former than the latter. Support is EVERYTHING. And that applies to anything in life. I feel fortunate for those around me who just seem to "get it."






Monday, July 3, 2017

The Summer of ???


Ah, summer.

There's nothing quite like it.

I know I've officially turned myself off of "school" mode when I no longer know what day of the week it is. That happened today and I absolutely loved it.

Of course, this summer is going to be far different than my standard summers of yore. Frankly, I'm kind of curious what a summer looks like when it can't revolve around food and alcohol? I don't know that I've ever had to ponder that question in the 24 years since I turned age 21?

Instead of sipping on tall icy gin and tonics and other refreshing libations, I'm embracing mugs of warm herbal tea and cold frothy protein shakes, 4 oz at a time. Instead of eating juicy flame grilled cheeseburgers on squishy kaiser buns and corn on the cob slathered in butter and salt, I'm "chowing down" on 3 oz cups of Sugar Free Jello and ice pops like they're the best damn thing I've ever tasted.  Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Come on, it is a little funny, isn't it?

I'm 5 days out from surgery and feeling like the changes I'm making this summer are just the first of many changes that will be a part of this crazy journey. I'm sure I don't even know the half of what's to come but that's really all a part of the excitement of this transformation if you ask me.

This morning I stepped on the scale and saw that I am now 3.6 lbs below the weight I was the day of my surgery. That means I'm no longer trying to lose the weight gain from the IV, gas, etc. but am actually in official "losing mode." Crazier still, when I weighed myself later in the afternoon, I weighed less than I did in the morning. When the hell does that ever happen? NEVER. That's when. It blew my mind and that's when I finally realized, this shit is actually going to work.

Self doubt. It's an ugly thing. And after the scale incident this afternoon, I came to understand it's something that I still had lurking in my subconscious until now. It's incredible to think that I would go through such a surgery and not fully believe 100% in myself that it was going to work for me. But now I do. I get it. The weight is going to come off. It has started The roller coaster has left the home platform. I am buckled in and ready for the ride of my life.

So this summer? Yes, its going to be very, very different. And while I have been steadfastly reluctant to change in the past, I know that I am going to want to welcome this change with wide open and welcoming arms. For the first time in a long time, I don't really have a full grip on the summer "formula".  It's no longer, eat what I want, drink what I want, repeat.  So, what the hell is it, then?

I guess I'll just have to stay fastened in my seat to find out.


















Sunday, July 2, 2017

If Peeing Were an Olympic Sport, I'd Win the Gold!

It's amazing what a few days can do.

I'm 4 days out from surgery, and happy to report, feeling pretty damn good. Not sure what I was expecting, but I don't know if I was optimistic enough to think I'd be feeling this "human" after having 2/3 of my stomach cut out. When I think about what I actually had done it still freaks me out a little. Weird.

I'm sitting at my kitchen island sipping a cup of hot tea with lemon and Splenda. You wouldn't imagine how delicious this tastes after having not eaten real food for the last 4 1/2 days. I find I am tolerating most clear liquids, especially if they are warm or hot, which in the world of bariatric surgery, is cause for celebration. The day after surgery I thought I'd never ingest another thing ever again, but it's amazing how quickly your body bounces back after a trauma such as this.

As I mentioned yesterday, staying hydrated is really the name of the game. I am constantly drinking one thing or another, taking time only to pee, shower, pee, sort the mail, pee, type, and pee. It's an exciting time to be alive, folks!

Today, despite the Hades like heat outside, I would like to take a walk around the block. I'm still sore and it doesn't feel "super great" to walk - and I certainly can't do it at any decent pace - however, I know it's an important part of the plan and it's all about making positive changes for my future, no? Since I can't drive for another few days, being homebound is allowing me to focus on liquid intake and taking it easy. Honestly, it's not such a bad gig. This is truly where being a teacher and having summer's off comes in quite handy.

Interestingly enough, people keep asking me if I'm hungry. The answer is a resounding, "No." I don't know the exact full science behind why I suddenly don't give a rat's ass about food when it used to be that I obsessed over it - but honestly? I'm not sure I care. I'm completely ecstatic that I'm not craving my old standbys like pizza and donuts. At this stage, they're not an option anyway so it makes no sense to waste valuable head space even thinking about them. Then again, its only been 4 days - so maybe come talk to me again in a few days. Who knows? I might be ready to chew my right leg off. That's at least 10 meals worth right there.

In addition to not feeling hungry, I find I'm also not so worried about the scale at the moment. Trust me, I know those kind of obsessive days are coming, but right now I'm well aware that the swelling, and gas, and IV fluids are still having their way with my system. So whatever number is on that scale doesn't mean much at this point. Does that mean I'm not weighing myself? Um, hell no. I just had weight loss surgery, after all. Of COURSE I'm curious. Yesterday I was 245.6 which was 5.7 pounds higher than my surgery weight. Today I dropped to 239.3 which means I'm beginning to get rid of some of that hospital-y stuff that infiltrated my body during surgery and the two days following. The real blessing is that for the first time in my life I am not worried about the number because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, it's going to go down, down, down.... Let me tell you, knowing that fact is fucking liberating as all get out.  It means that I can worry a bit less about the physical end of things and spend more time on the mental side of this journey, which, in my humble opinion, is the going to be the real battle.

That's it for today...stay tuned for more tales from this loser. Amazing how good it feels to be able to call myself that!