I weigh 283 lbs. That is shocking to me. It would be shocking for most people but not for the same reasons. For most of my adult life, I weighed more than 300 lbs. For the last ten years or so, I weighed 375 or more, then tipped over the 400 mark about 2011 or 2012. I think the last time I weighed under 300 was some time in the early 90’s or maybe the late 80’s. I’ve been pretty focused on getting under 300 since the beginning of 2016, but it was mainly just as a goal. I was so thrilled when I finally hit the 200’s because I had reached my “goal” and then I started focusing on the new one: getting under 290. Now the realization that “I am under 300 lbs” is finally hitting me. I know other people still see an obese woman, but for me, I am noticing how much smaller and stronger I am, and I keep finding little reminders, mainly with my clothes. The 4x shorts that I used to wear around the house and after the pool are way too big now. They literally fall off unless I use a binder clip to keep them up. There are a couple pair of slacks I wear to work that I need the binder clip on, so I have to wear a long top to hide the clip. I have a few “at home” pants that need the same clip, and I think I need to take in the waist on my swim shorts, since they start to slide off when I exercise in the pool. I had stopped wearing last summer’s swimsuit because the top and the shorts were sliding off. I had figured it was because the suit was old and stretched out (could be!) but the fact is now, both of them are now getting big on me (I got the new one in March). The shoes that I barely got into in March now fit fine; the ones that I could barely tie when I got them in 2014 are now a little loose and the two pairs of sandals that nearly needed another hole punched in the straps: I’ve tightened both of them three times since I keep stepping out of them. A few of my tops are starting to hang on me, and most of the ones I wear to work now are hand-me-downs from my younger, smaller, sister. I was shopping online and found a cute top, but I didn’t buy it because I was afraid it would hang on me too (it was a plus size site.) Also, one of my rings which was nearly too tight now fits on my middle finger, the one that fit fine is now so loose I take it off in the pool (nearly lost it a few times working out) and the small size ring my mom gave me that I could not wear now fits although it’s kinda tight.
Walking around the office I am almost always conscious of how easy it is to walk (and walk a little fast!). I’m also aware of how relatively flat my stomach is, how much more defined the muscles are in my arms, how bony my knees look and how I actually have contours in my calves. I also have shoulders and a collarbone again. It’s been pretty weird seeing the physical changes in my body because for so long I was focused on the number on the scale and tracking my nutrition. The changes in my body were a by-product, and, yeah, I was noticing but like my weight loss, I didn’t really internalize it. It was an interesting and encouraging by-product, but beyond that, the only thing about the changes that really concerned me was the loose skin and the varicose veins in my legs that were becoming noticeable now that the surrounding adipose tissue (code for “fat”) was going away.
I think the realization kind of really hit me when I saw my doctor at the end of June 2016. I had last seen her early in the year and I only needed to see her for my ongoing arthritis (knees) and bone spur (lumbar spine). When I last saw her, I had already lost about 100 and my doctor was very enthusiastic and supportive. When my doctor walked into the room a few weeks ago, she was in awe—literally in awe—of my weight loss. I had seen the number of pounds lost going up and I had seen the congratulatory comments from my fitness friends and I had rejoiced in my ongoing progress. I’m competitive, so seeing my friends’ weight loss numbers rising kept encouraging me to lose more, do better, make better choices and that’s part of the motivational process with My Fitness Pal, but until I saw the look on my doctor’s face, I don’t think I realized the enormity (yeah, it’s a pathetic pun) of my weight loss: 150 lbs then and another five since.
After I left my “killer job,” it started a snowball effect which led eventually to my weight loss. I started losing weight in January 2015 after making a series of what I thought were unconnected changes. The bottom line is that I went back to my doctor’s on June 30th and two years later, I weighed in at 289. That’s 149 lbs lost in two years. When I saw my doctor in July 2015, I had already lost close to 100 lbs and my doctor was extremely enthusiastic to say the least. When I went back to see her two weeks ago, she was literally in awe. She essentially looked at my blood work and said it was all good. Aside from checking on my knees and low back (I have arthritis, disc degeneration and bone spurs), her biggest concern was finding out if I was going to continue losing weight, why I started losing and where to go from here.
That’s the short version. I literally made losing weight the focus of my life. I spent a lot of time looking at books and diets and eating plans. I looked for a support community. The one that I went back to was My Fitness Pal, and this time I posted on the forums and made friends, so I have a mutually supportive group of people. We support and motivate each other to keep going. We look to each other for advice and resources. One of them gave me the Primal Potential podcast/ website which is another resource for me. This led me to find other podcasts, such as Metabolic Radio, the Paleo Solution, and Paleo Magazine Radio. I continue to watch My 600 lb Life when it’s on and now My Big Fat Fabulous Life. All these keep me focused on my goals: being healthier and continuing to lose weight. (This blog does the same thing.)
I joke with my friends that all of these function as my “12 step meeting,” and while my friends kinda giggle over it, it’s true. I honestly don’t know if what I can really be called a true addict when it comes to food, but I know that support is crucial when it comes to changing lifelong habits. I think most of the healthy habits I’ve developed have become permanent parts of life now.
The biggest indicator of this has come just recently. I’ve been wanting certain foods, like apple fritters, pancakes, chocolate and others refined carbs that I used to eat regularly. I had a couple donuts a few weeks ago on a lark. Donuts have never been a real trigger for me; they always smell better than they taste to me, so resisting them has always been easy. I had a two and they weren’t terrible, but they weren’t irresistible. The biggest draw for me was that after I bought them, I saw they had apple fritters, which I really like, but I didn’t buy any because they were too much with the others that I’d already chosen. For days afterwards, I kept thinking about them, but not buying them. Partly because it was just wanting, but also because my new habits had sent me out the door with my breakfast already. Yesterday when I went to the store, I had planned to buy me a buttermilk bar and split it for dessert tonight; they didn’t have the bars, but they did have apple fritters, but I went home without any donuts. I wanted the buttermilk bar. I stopped at See’s Candies earlier that day. I only got a few because usually once I eat a couple, I really REALLY want the rest, so I figure the fewer I have to binge on, the better. Well, after eating the few I had planned on (about half), I didn’t feel the irresistible craving I usually get for candy. In fact, I forgot about and left it on the coffee table when I went shopping for my weekly groceries. My pup thankfully isn’t a chowhound so it was still there when I got back. Still not craving the candy. It’s so weird not to be craving the candy. There’s a part of my brain that is saying “pancakes and bread and noodles are good and you should be eating them” but there is another part of my brain that says “eh, not worth the effort.”
On one level, it’s great knowing that I don’t have these cravings for foods that aren’t good for me, but on another level, it’s more than a bit disconcerting, because this is not who I am. Or rather, this isn’t who I used to be. Is this who I am now? Because this is a person I don’t know. I am not a person who looks at things like apple fritters and See’s Candy and doesn’t want them. The same thing happened when I went to lunch with my dad the other day: we went to lunch at a buffet and when he ran out of tortilla chips, I went and got him more. I sat there looking at the chips right next to me and I didn’t want them. Last week I went out with friends and ordered a sandwich (it was the best option on the menu) and a side salad instead of the fries, but they screwed up and served me fries anyway. My friends ate some and I left them there when I boxed up the rest of my sandwich. I love fries, and tortilla chips, and apple fritters and chocolates. Or at least I used to. Who is this new person and what does she love? Irony: at the lunch last Saturday, they ordered appetizers (deep fried calamari, cheese bites, shrimp and bruschetta) and I didn’t have any, but when my salad arrived I actually said “yay, salad!” and meant it. Apparently, this new person loves salad. In a way, it’ll be interesting finding out what she loves, but on another level, it’s rather disorienting and a little scary. It’s new and uncharted territory, but I’m trying to look at it as an adventure, a journey of self-discovery. We are used to people trying to “find themselves” as some kind of midlife crisis, but this is different. It hasn’t been brought on by a crisis but instead by growth. I’ve grown out of my comfort zone and I’m headed into a new frontier (I’m an old Trekkie- what can I say?). Discovery is exciting because it’s unknown, but that’s what also makes it scary. Who knows what I’ll uncover and who knows who I’ll become? I guess I get to find out.