Some Inspiration for Thursday

Before I had bariatric surgery, I despaired of ever losing weight. I was all but resigned to the fact that I would never truly feel attractive again, and never be below 200 pounds again. This was not without trying to lose weight. I joined Curves—twice—went to see a dietitian for nutritional advice, tried portion control…I basically did everything except the really drastic things (like having batriatric surgery)…

…and the right things.

I was flummoxed and despondent. I couldn’t figure out why my efforts weren’t working, when it seemed like they really ought to be. Now I know that, for all it felt like I was putting forth a lot of effort to lose weight in the past, that I still wasn’t doing it right. So today I’m not at all surprised that I wasn’t able to lose weight. This is because of all of the lifestyle changes I’ve had to embrace following surgery. I’ve learned a lot more about good nutrition, and become much more confident that things like healthy eating and portion control actually work. But I’m a bariatric patient. I have a cheat code installed in my guts. What about people who haven’t gone under the knife to lose weight?

A friend of mine shared this today, and I wanted to pass it along as an example of the fact that yes, it is possible to lose weight without taking the cheat code route. To quote the article, “I realized when you’re not dieting but instead changing your entire lifestyle, nothing is really off limits and eating isn’t something to be ashamed of.”.

There really is a right way to go about weight loss (and while that may be different for each individual, there are some basic things like eating healthy, properly portioned meals that are pretty standard). And fad diets and the like are not it. Speaking from experience, it takes real, genuine lifestyle changes—and no, it’s not necessarily easy. But yes, it is totally worth it.

Also, you fucking rock.

Reconnecting with My Sense of Style

So it’s been a year and just about a month since I had LAP-Band™ surgery. I’m starting to feel a lot better about my body, even despite some setbacks. Because of this, I’m beginning to express my comfort in my own skin through the clothing I wear. I’ve written a bit about this before after I wore a certain dress to a convention last October, but I wanted to discuss this aspect of my weight loss journey in more detail. I suppose it’s a way for me to celebrate the change—and yes, if I’m really honest with myself, I’m showing off a bit. My apologies, but, well, I’m excited! And I hope someone out there is excited with me!

Also, I’m a costumer. I love having an excuse to talk about clothes!

I thought I would do this by comparing and contrasting how I used to dress with how I’m dressing these days. When I was heavier, I did what many people do when they weigh more than they wish to: I did what I could to minimize the parts of my body with which I was unhappy. This usually involved ankle-length A-line skirts, and shirts that would emphasize my cleavage (which was and still is glorious) so as to distract from the size of my stomach. I was (and still am) very, very proud of my hair, so it was often a key feature of any ensemble I put together. Actually, for years, I thought it was my only good feature.

Old Style 1

Taken in 2009. Estimated weight: 260 pounds

Or sometimes I decided that, if I couldn’t pull off the way I wanted to dress (more on that in a minute), I would instead strive to be elegant instead.

Old Style 2

Taken in 2008. Estimated weight: 285 pounds

This still involved ankle-length A-line skirts because I just freaking LOVE ankle-length A-line skirts, and I usually paired these with some nicer shirts and some of my fancier jewelry.

(Incidentally, that second photo is a good example of what I’m talking about when I mention how supportive and loving my husband is, no matter how much I weigh. Aren’t we disgustingly adorable? Apologies for the saccharine—I couldn’t find any photos for this post in my library that were of just me.)

So these photos are good examples of how I’ve been dressing…since I was a teenager, actually. Minus the skirts. I didn’t begin wearing skirts full-time until 2007, which was actually not a style choice I made because I was ashamed of my weight. I stopped wearing pants because skirts are just more comfortable and more fun.

But so I think I was starting to feel comfortable in my body at one point—I can’t honestly remember, as that was well over a decade ago—and then I started to put on weight pretty rapidly, and there went that idea. Also, I was limited in what I could wear as a teenager partially because I was just too young for how I wanted to dress (I am definitely a sexual being, and have been since the age of seven, believe it or not), and partially because I had no disposable income of my own.

But even through all of that, I knew how I wanted to dress. I just never felt comfortable dressing that way, even given the opportunity to do so. That is starting to change.

This is a promo photo I use for making posters for my band.

New Style 1

Faeries and dragons and bards, oh my!

In it I am wearing one of my all-time favorite outfits, which is an evolved version of an outfit I created back when I was heavier and could still wear corsets. It is gothy and stripy and full of attitude. It includes a short skirt, tights that draw the eye right to my legs, and a shirt that is pretty form-fitting that accentuates my curves. Yes! This is exactly the sort of thing that thirteen year-old me was chomping at the bit to be able to get away with wearing. I can feel her in me somewhere crowing with joy every time I get to wear this ensemble in public.

I’m also beginning to surprise myself with what I feel comfortable wearing these days. Here, for example, is an outfit I threw together the other day with random things in my closet.

New Style 2

Where the hell did that come from?

That is officially the shortest skirt I’m willing to wear in public. Also, you can tell I totally love those boots.

And lastly, this dress is something I never thought I would be able to get away with wearing.

New Style 3

It should be noted that by “get away with” I mean “personally feel comfortable wearing”. Also, thank you, Misty, for the dress!

But dammit if I don’t pull that garment off pretty damn well indeed.

I would say that those photos are examples of the “new me”, but really, they aren’t. They’re examples of me finally being able to embrace the sense of style that I’ve had since forever ago, but have never before been able to, for one reason or another. Being able to do that is so nice. I still love my long, flowy skirts, and I think I always will. I can’t wait to get all of those old friends down out of my closet and alter them so they actually fit again, in fact. But I’m starting to feel like I can finally be myself. I can’t even begin to describe to you what a relief that is. I’m actually a bit in disbelief that this is happening.

And this whole entry is actually a dual celebration. Yes, I’m celebrating my ability to dress myself in a way that I’ve always wanted to, as I said above—but I’m also celebrating the fact that I’m just so happy with my bariatric surgery results. As they say, the grass is always greener on the other side, and there was actually a pessimistic part of me that was worried I would go through the surgery and the weight loss and still be miserable. But I am worrying about that less and less as time goes on, because I’m just finding more and more reasons to celebrate all of these changes.

So here’s to milestones, and here’s to self-expression. I’ve been acutely aware of both lately, and I thank you for listening as I cheer profusely about them.

Being Body-Positive

The idea of body-positivity has been on my mind a lot lately. Being that this is a weight loss blog, I think this is an important thing to discuss from time to time. If you’re not familiar with the term “body-positive”, it simply refers to the idea of accepting all body types as valid. Or, put another way, there is no “correct” body type. I would like to mention that I tend to think of body-positivity in terms of health—meaning I find it important for one to be healthy at the same time as one is loving one’s body, whether that body is thin, fat, or anywhere in between.

As I said in the first post on this blog, I am not pro-skinny, and I am not pro-fat. I’m actually a very big proponent of the idea of being body-positive, which means that I’ve come to really hate those “real women have curves”-type graphics you see floating around on Facebook and such. On the surface, it’s a nice sentiment, but at the same time as it’s offering encouragement to “curvy” women, it’s also telling women who are lacking in that regard that there’s something wrong with them. Hint: If you wouldn’t be ok with a thin person (or any type of person) telling a fat person that their fatness makes them disgusting, then you shouldn’t be ok with a fat person (or any type of person) telling a thin person that their thinness makes them disgusting. Neither train of thought is helpful to either group of people. As Wil Wheaton would say, don’t be a dick. That’s really what it boils down to.

So this image, which I’ve also seen floating around on Facebook, is much more to my liking.

I also wanted to share an article a friend of mine shared on—where else?—Facebook, “The Shame of Fat-Shaming“, by Sayantani Dasgupta. Ms. Dasgupta writes,

The resource-hogging ‘obese patient’ has become the new version of the welfare queen in our popular imaginations. Such stereotypes about any community – that they are infantile, monstrous, unthinking, lazy, whiney and resource-wasting – isn’t only emotionally damaging but potentially physically harmful. As the blogger at Shakesville asserts: ‘fat hatred kills.’

Physicians cannot use concerns over health to legitimize bias. Medicine is not a moralizing stick with which we can beat our patients into submission.

I thought she made a lot of interesting points in this article.

Body-shaming does not do anyone any good. I would probably not have spent the majority of my adult life feeling like some sort of morally bankrupt monster just because I was fat if our culture were more body-positive. I have thankfully, at least not to my recollection, never felt as though a health care professional was fat-shaming me. I can’t even begin to imagine how greatly that would not have helped matters.

So regardless of if you are a health care professional (but especially if you are a health care professional), I would ask some things of you:

  1. Encourage those you love to love themselves
  2. Or, failing that—I had tons of positive reinforcement from my loved ones, but I hated how much I weighed, and by extension, myself—encourage them instead to do what they feel is necessary so that they may come to love themselves (within reason, of course—absolutely draw the line at encouraging self-harm). This goes doubly for anyone with friends who are trying to be healthy and lose weight. You might be afraid of that change for whatever reason. That does not matter. Only your friend’s health and happiness matter, and they need your support.
  3. Do not body-shame others in an effort to encourage your loved ones who might not love themselves—that really is counter-productive

Support body-positivity, and discourage body-shaming. It’s important for your health and well-being, and for that of the people around you. Diversity is, as they say, the spice of life—and you may not like certain flavors, but someone somewhere is loving them. So let there be love.

My First Week Back On the Wagon

I just wanted to make a quick update about my first week trying to rebuild my good eating habits. So of course this will probably turn into a 1200 word essay.

A week ago Saturday, I awoke and conducted my weekly weigh-in as per usual, to discover that I had gained around ten pounds since late November. Being that I find this unacceptable, I resolved to stop shirking my responsibilities to myself, and to start trying in earnest to be more vigilant about how much of what I was putting into my body. It honestly feels like it’s been longer than just a week, but I’m not sure if that is at all food related. I’ve had a lot going on (because I always have a lot going on), so that may be the reason why it feels as if it’s been two or three times as long as it actually has.

I was definitely not as good last week as I wish I had been. This is partially due to the fact that I was just legitimately hungry even after having my 1200 calorie allotment each day, so I would end up eating extra things. Also, my Thursday night celebration was a Bad Idea. I am, in fact, going to try cutting out food from any and all celebratory acts for myself from now on. Associating food with awesome things just makes it more difficult to maintain good self-control.

But even so, I’ve been keeping track of my calorie intake as best as I can. I am constantly grateful to how easy the internet makes it to access information. Without it, I’d be quite lost.

So Sunday I stepped on the scale for my weekly weigh-in—I was so anxious to get started on my Saturday to-do list that I forgot to weigh myself—and I lost a total of 6.4 pounds in the intervening week.

…yeah, I was pretty damn surprised, too. I was hoping I would get lucky and lose around three pounds, so that just shocked the hell out of me. To put it into perspective, my weight is now back where it was in the first week of January. So I undid a couple of months worth of work in the space of about four months, and then redid about half of it in the space of a week. It’s amazing what I can accomplish when I’m actually doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

This gives me a lot of hope for the future. My immediate goal is 160. I was almost there when the holidays happened. I’m hoping now that it won’t be long before I’m finally there.

It has also really galvanized me. Noting down every single thing I eat at every meal and keeping a record of how many calories I’m eating is tedious and annoying and I sort of hate doing it. …but losing over five pounds in one week after resuming this practice is very reassuring.

And now that I know what my calorie intake looks like from day to day, I also feel a lot better emotionally, too. It’s easy for me to beat myself up whenever I eat if I haven’t been keeping track of how many calories my food represents. I have this constant, nebulous sense of, “I shouldn’t have eaten that”, and it makes for some really dreary days.

So I’m still trying to take things one step (day/meal/whatever) at a time, but for now I feel like I’m starting to get a better handle on things. I figured given my last few entries that a nice positive check-in might be appreciated.

Know what’s also appreciated? Low-calorie ice cream bars. Om nom.