The Beginning of a New Path

Today was the day of my doctor’s appointment to discuss my anxiety problems. I’ve been learning from my friends that a lot of what I’ve had going on is pretty standard for someone with the issues I’ve been having, which is oddly comforting. Obviously I don’t have any updates on how things are going with my new medication yet, but I wanted to at least pass along that the appointment itself happened.

I’ve been prescribed the lower dosage, generic form of Lexapro. It will be a few weeks yet before I’m likely to notice any results. But just having gone through this doctor visit and gotten my prescription from the pharmacy seems to have made me feel a bit better already.

So I’ve taken a turn on this road I’m on and am exploring a new path. We’ll see where it leads.

In addition, I’m planning to reexamine the possibility of going to a therapist after the first of the year. I still don’t feel very confident about being able to actually afford talk therapy, but I’m willing to see what numbers can be juggled and how.

Unless I have anything further to add in the interim, I’ll be back in a few weeks after the follow-up appointment with my doctor to let everyone know how things are going. Have a safe and happy Halloween and Thanksgiving.


Status Update #12

Greetings, gentle readers! It’s been around two months since my last Status Update, and boy do I have some things to share. So settle back and prepare for lots of words coming at your face.

First off, as always, the usual progress report.

Weight on day of surgery: 239.2 lbs
Weight last month: 166.4 lbs
Weight today: 164.6
Total lost: 74.6

Woo! I got my 75 Pounds Lost pin today from my surgeon. By their measurements I’m still .4 pounds away from truly hitting the 75 mark, but sheesh. Close enough. Besides which, my scale told me I was 162 this morning, so I think it works either way.

75 pounds lost

*achievement unlocked*

I am, as you may surmise, rather pleased with myself and my progress. I know I’ve said in the past that my goal was to get down to 130 pounds, but honestly? I’m pretty happy in the 160 – 165 range. I feel comfortable, I feel attractive, I don’t feel inordinately fatigued upon exertion, life is good. The only thing I’m actively unhappy about these days is the loose skin around my midsection that’s giving me some tummy rolls. Sadly, those aren’t likely to go away without some surgery, and that’s not in my budget (to put it mildly). But overall I’m very happy with the results of this crazy thing I did to myself a year ago February, which is an awesome thing to be able to say.

I’m a little surprised that I’ve reached this latest milestone, though, because May was not the greatest month on record. It’s not every menses that makes me want to eat all the chocolate in the world, but last month’s did, and for up to a week on either end of my cycle to boot. Hooray ladybits?

I’ve also been experiencing some difficulty with anxiety management, which is a thing I frequently struggle with, and a very large trigger for bad eating habits. But I’ve been trying, and that really is an important thing. It’s so tempting to just give up and/or in for at least a little while, but dancing on that particular slippery slope is a Bad Idea.

So there’s one milestone! And this is my 80th post on this blog. Another milestone! The next milestone involves my wedding bands.

I took them to the jeweler today, because I have finally determined that it’s time to get them re-sized. I’m not expecting to lose much more weight, and certainly not enough from my fingers for it to make much of a difference. And dammit, I miss those rings. It’s been almost a year since I’ve been able to wear them.

But there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that my wedding band, which is a simple ring with no settings, can be re-sized very easily. The jeweler is even doing it free of charge, since we bought it from them.

But the bad news is that my engagement ring cannot be resized due to the nature of the setting and the drastic change in sizes.

My engagement ring

This is what it looks like, for those unfamiliar. And it’s garnet and black spinel, in case you’re wondering. (Can you tell I get asked that a lot?)

The ring is currently a size seven. My finger is down to a size five. So it’s likely that resizing it will cause the side stones to pop out pretty frequently.

I wasn’t surprised by this news. I was actually expecting this to happen. So while it’s unfortunate, at least I wasn’t completely blindsided by it.

The jeweler does have the capacity to do custom work, so they could completely remake the ring…but we can’t afford that. So at this point, I’m not sure what’s going to happen as far as this ring is concerned. I will at least be able to wear the super-important wedding band again, but the husband and I will have to discuss what we want to do about the engagement ring.

The last thing I wanted to add to this entry is something about which I am giddily excited. I have always loved corsets. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 2006 or 2007, I learned how to make them myself. And I don’t mean those flimsy things you can buy in the mall—I mean sturdy, steel-boned, tightlaced, real corsets that create waist reduction and wide expanses of glorious, erm, tracts of land. But I had to stop wearing them even prior to surgery because of my hernia. And then after surgery I figured that I wouldn’t be able to wear them again because, well, I have a physical object wrapped around one of my internal organs.

But I asked my surgeon about it today. Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t have much experience with the combination of LAP-Bands and corsetry, but he said I could go ahead and try it. Carefully. And if it’s comfortable, then I can continue to wear corsets. Carefully. If it isn’t comfortable, well, at least I’ll have tried. I can’t tell you how much I miss them.

Obviously none of the corsets I made for myself back in the day will fit me anymore, so I’ll have to wait until my next convention before I can try one on. But that’s not going to be too long of a wait. I intend to go armed with my measurements and find a corset vendor (thank the gods for Steampunk being a Thing these days—there’s almost always at least one corset vendor at any given con with a dealer’s room) and try a corset on. And then…we’ll see. And I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Because if it’s comfortable to try on and hang out in for a few minutes, then I get to start making my own corsets again.

And I cannot wait to see what this new body looks like in a corset. I was frequently assured that the old one was a sight to behold, and I like this one better, so I’m excited. I’ll post an update and possibly a photo or two (if the vendor will allow) once this happens.

For now, off I disappear into the mists of the Internet again until I have something more to say. Thanks for reading!

Status Update #12

PANTS?! What is this craziness of which you speak?

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.

Status Update #10

Today is the one-year anniversary of my LAP-Band surgery. Yesterday I had my tenth post-op visit with my surgeon. As usual, I will start this entry with some numbers

Weight on day of surgery: 239.2 lbs
Weight last month: 170.0
Weight today: 175.0
Total lost: 70.8 lbs

I’ve put on about ten pounds since November thanks to the holidays utterly obliterating most of the good habits I’d spent months building up. I thought I had been doing better than I evidently was. This year, I shall have to be more careful.

But even despite that, the fact that the scale at my doctor’s office read “175” gives me hope. My scale at home read that this past Saturday, on my weekly weigh-in day, and there’s always a few pounds’ discrepancy between home and the doctor’s office thanks to things like clothes and the fact that I’ve usually had at least one meal by the time I weigh in at the doctor’s. So if I was 175 pounds there yesterday, then that means that when I climb onto the scale again this Saturday, I might be headed back in the right direction. So yes, I am hopeful.

This week I have been trying to keep myself to a 1200 calorie daily diet. I have gone over by a hundred or three a couple of days, but I am doing my best to at least track everything and get it written down. That part has been pretty successful. And I’m trying not to think of going over 1200 calories a day as any kind of failure–for one, I’m just starting to rebuild my habits, and for two, one of the reasons I’ve eaten more than that is because I’m just hungry. I am legitimately wanting to eat more, because my body still wants more food, rather than my head wanting more food. I’m going to give it another week and then ask for an adjustment if I’m still having issues with hunger. (I was already planning to do this anyway, but the staff at my doctor’s office firmly encouraged this idea because it can be difficult to tell what your hunger levels are really like when you’ve failed to exercise good habits for as long as I have.)

I will tell you that in the meantime, though, I wish I’d just asked for one yesterday when I was at the bloody office. I’ve only just had breakfast, and I am still hungry. There will be many glasses of water in my future today to act as filler, methinks (and it’s not a good idea to drink lots of water, anyway).

So, one year ago today is the day my world was reset. How am I going to celebrate? I am going to celebrate by going to a fancy restaurant with my husband and a good friend of ours, and consuming a pre-portioned dessert for which I have already researched the nutritional information. If I am as good as I intend to be today, it will fit into my daily limit. And I will not have anything else at this restaurant, unless that “something else” is dinner, and is a thing that fits within my daily calorie limit. (It’s wonderful that so many restaurants have their menu’s nutritional info online these days, and that portable food scales are things that exist.) Of course the “exciting” part of this is that there are practically no items on this menu apart from desserts that are within the calorie range I’d need them to be in order to be able to eat them. But the nutritional guide I’m looking at assures me that the chef’s can accommodate me.

I could also, of course, just eat dinner at home before going out for dessert, which, given both my nutritional needs and how hungry I’m likely to be around five or six o’clock, is probably what will happen.

I should not be celebrating this milestone in this manner. But I wanted to do something with people, and since my husband would be the one footing the bill either way, I wanted him to get some enjoyment out of it, also. The fact that I am not saying to myself, “This occasion is a celebration, and so I will have however much of whatever I want” is very important. The fact that I looked up the nutritional information for my dessert, and that I’m working to budget it into my daily calorie allotment, is very important. I am working toward that whole “vigilance” thing, rather than using this as an excuse to go hog wild. …and I had sort of been beating myself up for using this as an “excuse” at all, but the more I think about it, the fact that I’m taking into account the calories and working to be aware of that and so forth is a good sign. It’s one of the habits I need to work back up.

So yes, I am celebrating my one-year bariatric surgery anniversary with a dessert. But I am doing so in a moderated fashion–and I’m sort of proud of myself for that, given how much difficulty I’ve had in the past with moderation.

There will be no picture this month, as I haven’t changed much. We’ll see what’s happened by my next appointment in April.

…I Think I’m Actually Starting to Agree with You…

A few days ago, I posted this photo of myself on my personal Facebook page to show off my new haircut:

New haircut

Courtesy of my husband—both the photo, and the haircut.

I thought it was a pretty good picture (lighting and color balance issues aside, but that is what Photoshop is for), and I liked the manner in which it did indeed show off my shorter hair. I was also partially trying to forestall as many in-person exclamations as possible of, “It’s so short!” from people who I don’t see often. Posting this picture showed me two things:

  1. I apparently need to take spur-of-the-moment headshots in my PJs more often
  2. I finally have the ability to agree with people when they tell me I look beautiful

As I think I’ve mentioned, I’ve spent a fair portion of my life not feeling especially beautiful. People would earnestly tell me I was, and I would smile politely and thank them…and die a little on the inside every time. I don’t think I quite realized that until this blog post began forming in my head, because I would always try to shove that feeling down and ignore it. …not that doing so would stop me from wallowing in self-pity at some point in the future.

But this photo? This photo received over fifteen Likes from various friends, which is a lot for something I post, and some of the people who Liked it are not people who normally Like my posts (please note, friends, that I find nothing wrong with lurking, as it’s called—and because it’s Facebook, who’s to say you actually get to see everything any of your friends post, anyway?). This photo also elicited comments such as, “Wow”. I don’t know that I’ve ever been the subject of that kind of “wow” before.

And you know what? For the first time, I think I agree. Timidly. Cautiously. Because who knows what will happen tomorrow? But that day, for at least the span of time it took to take that photograph, I fit my definition of beauty. And as we are so often told by wistfully-captioned stock photos on Facebook, loving oneself is of the ultimate importance. (And really, it is—I think I’ve mentioned that before, too.)

It is very soul-feeding, very validating, to receive such an overwhelming positive response from such a simple photograph, and completely unsolicited. Thank you, friends, for being my friends. You just made some part of me feel whole.

Knowing and Being Myself

A while ago I wrote a song about finding myself. This song was borne out of many different situations, but one of the primary feelings I wished to express was the frustration I felt at knowing certain things about myself, but not being able to act on those things for one reason or another.

One thing that I have always known about myself—or have at least known for long enough now that “always” feels like a good word to use—is that I am most definitely a sexual being. I like to feel sexy. I like to feel attractive. I like to be a sexy person. But I have rarely been able to be this person, and it has pained me for years.

At first I was unable to be this person because I was too young. I know that there are many today who do not think twice about thirteen and fourteen year-olds dressing as, shall we say, adults, but when I was that age, it was much less acceptable than it is today (and with good reason—girls that young should perhaps exercise more caution about how they express their sexuality, because when you’re that young, you’re kind of an idiot, I don’t care who you are).

Next I was unable to be this person because of my weight. There were a few shining moments during my teens and during my early twenties where I genuinely felt attractive, but they were infrequent and didn’t last for long. It’s pretty terrible to want to be seen as physically attractive, but not feel physically attractive. Ever*.

But that is—finally—starting to change.

This past weekend I attended The Ohio Valley Filk Fest. I always really look forward to going to this convention. It’s the home of amazing fun and amazing people. It’s also the home of “The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party”, which is an ice breaker type of event held Friday evening, to which all participants must wear some kind of hat. There’s tea and cider and various tea-related finger foods, and it’s a good time.

One of the things I love about going to conventions is that they give me the opportunity—hell, the excuse—to costume. Yes, I am so very much a costumer (and I can’t wait to start sewing again). So for this year’s Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, I decided to wear this:

 At the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, OVFF 2013

By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes…
I do wish we’d gotten a better photograph.

I would not normally wear something this salacious in public**, even to a convention. But this time I did. And I felt fierce. And it was incredibly wonderful.

I know I’ve written before about how, since I’ve lost a significant amount of weight, I’m starting to look like myself again. But now I’m starting to feel like myself again, and I feel better able to express a side of myself that’s long been hidden because of my weight. And I just wanted to share how bloody wonderful it was!

*I should note that my husband has never, at any point in our relationship, intentionally made me feel unattractive or unworthy of him or anyone else as a companion. He found me desirable whether I weighed 285 pounds or 185 pounds. But I’ve wished to look attractive to other people as well as to my husband. I don’t think that’s an uncommon thing for people involved in monogamous relationships, though I’m hard pressed to explain why that is a thing that is important to me.

**Those of you familiar with my habit of wearing corsets to conventions may call bullshit, but cleavage is one thing. A dress that’s this form-fitting and—*gasp*—shows off my legs is something quite different altogether.