The Realities of Being Thinner: When the Honeymoon is Over

For most of my adult life, I have been overweight.  My weight gain really started when I was in middle school and continued at a fairly steady pace until I seemed to plateau around the 375 mark in my early forties.  I wasn’t really happy being so big, but I was able to get around okay and the pain and inconvenience were tolerable.  If I wasn’t happy, at least I wasn’t miserable.

That changed with the Job From Hell: the more stressful the job became, the more difficulty I had handling it and as a result my weight went up by almost 65 lbs, and in that 65 lbs lay the difference between “livable” and “utter misery.”

Since then, I have lost  almost 18o lbs.  My weight is now 260.  I think the last time I weighed this much was in the late 1980’s, which would put me in college.  While the number still looks significant, given I have been told by various “authorities” that my ideal body weight is between 120-150.  By those estimates, I am still 100 lbs over what I should weigh. In fact, I would have no difficulty qualifying for almost any kind of bariatric surgery since I am still morbidly obese. Anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight knows two things: 1) weight loss fluctuates, sometimes dramatically; and 2) your body does not always change in ways that you like.

I have to admit that at first my weight loss was rapid and without almost any fluctuations.  Because I was almost 450 lbs, positive changes to my eating resulted in rapid dramatic weight loss. Just changing what I ate from processed carbohydrates to more nutrient dense high protein whole foods, my body lost weight quickly since I had been eating so many carbs, most of which my body just stored as fat since it rarely had the opportunity to burn any.  I kept eating because I was stuck on the carb roller coaster: once the body processes all the carbs into storable fat, the blood sugar drops, triggering the brain to release ghrelin (the hunger hormone) to raise the blood sugar again, so I’d eat more carbs, and ride the ride again, and again, and again.  Just getting off the ride, my body was no longer taking in the carbs aka storable fat and was burning some of what was there.  I dropped almost 100 lbs in the first year alone and it was almost one year before I hit my first significant plateau.

In the two years since then, I have hit a few slow-downs and plateaus, because as my body weight dropped, it had less stored fat to burn, and it required less calories to maintain.  This is why calorie intake drops as weight drops.  The Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the number of calories your body needs just to stay alive. In plain language, when you’re sitting on the couch bingeing The Walking Dead, this is what your body burns.  Your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) is what you burn when you are out running around, working out, just working or doing what you normally do when you’re not bingeing TWD.  To lose weight you need a calorie deficit: if your TDEE is 2400, you need to eat less than 2400 so your body can burn stored fat, but you should not eat less than your BMR since your body can start cannibalizing itself by breaking down muscle.  Between those two numbers is the sweet spot, and the more weight you lose, the more muscle you build, the more those numbers change. You have to hang on to that shifting sweet spot, which is one of the reasons weight loss fluctuates and is never linear nor constant.  What I was doing for the first year of my weight loss worked great, until it stopped working.  That’s because my weight had reached a point where I was no longer hitting the sweet spot: I needed to change how I was eating and what my activities were to raise my TDEE and/ or my BMR.  Building muscle raised my BMR because we all know that it takes more calories to maintain muscle than it does fat. I needed to raise my TDEE because the more energy I burned being active in the day, the fewer calories were being stored.  Also more activity can mean more muscle building, which raises the BMR. I also needed to make sure I was eating at a deficit, but not such a deficit as to cause damage to my body (starving myself).

Generally, the easiest way to make sure you’re still hitting the sweet spot is to keep moving.  The more active you are, the more calories you’re burning and hopefully, the more muscle you are building. You also need to keep your diet moving: try new things, keep eating seasonally and don’t get stuck in a rut with the same foods (this is one of my problems). Eating seasonally is one of the easier ways to keep fueling your body differently.  If you mostly eat squash and root veggies in the fall and winter, eat more leafy greens in the spring and summer.  Eating berries in the summer is a good way to fuel your body differently as well as get different nutrients.  Trying new foods is another way to find out what works for you. Your body is amazingly adaptive and it’s always searching for homeostasis: its own sweet spot where it’s taking in as many calories as it’s burning.  The fact that you keep trying to lose weight (either by lowering calorie intake and/ or output) means you are fighting your body’s natural tendency for homeostasis.  It’s an odd kind of dance where both of you keep trying to get ahead of each other.  So as you lose weight, you will hit slow downs and stalls (plateaus) and you will bounce up a few pounds or more (especially if you’re female or if you are building muscle).  The best way to handle this is to make sure your overall trend is going down. I know it’s easier said than done, since I still tend to get really frustrated and impatient with plateaus.

Your body will also change in ways you don’t like. Usually, as we start to get thinner, we get pretty excited about losing weight and our friends start telling us how good we look.  That’s the fun stuff: seeing your legs, your face, your waist get smaller and more shapely.  You also start noticing you have muscles now! Yay for me! It’s kind of like a honeymoon period in your weight loss journey- everything is going great and you’re liking what you see! Your clothes start getting bigger and you start fitting into smaller sizes, accentuating your weight loss. You start being able to do more in everyday life and when you work out.  One day you realize you are holding a plank for well over a minute without really thinking about it and remember when it was hard just to get into that position! You start feeling really fit and accomplished and proud of yourself.

Then it begins: honeymoon is over and the less than fun realities begin arriving.  For me, it started with my thighs and my belly: my skin started getting looser, and looser, and it started getting saggy.  I noticed when I was doing my pool exercises that it floats and ripples more like cloth than skin. I started noticing odd bulges (varicose veins) that I had never seen before because they were hidden by the fat.  The more weight I lost, the more wrinkly saggy areas showed up, as well as odd divots in my lower legs where the muscles are more visible under the loose skin.  The skin on my belly, hips and butt also started sagging and now I’ve been told that I have a droopy butt.  I also have ‘batwings’ on my upper arms, wrinkles on my face now that it’s smaller and a turkey neck under my chin.  There are times when I feel a lot like a melting candle (especially lying down) as my loose skin puddles around me on the bed or floor. It’s hard to feel accomplished, strong and fit when you look and feel like a deflated balloon, all stretched out of shape and wrinkled.

I never thought I would lose as much weight as I have and it wasn’t until I had lost about 70 lbs or so, and I began to notice the loose skin, that I realized skin removal surgery was something I was going to have to deal with.  Seriously not thrilled about it, and therefore I am putting it off until it becomes absolutely necessary.  I did discuss it with my doctor, who also felt that it wasn’t anything I needed to worry about until I stopped losing weight or the loose skin became an infection risk. Until then, I just had to live with it, and I am okay with that.

To be honest, one of my excuses for not losing weight was that I didn’t want to have skin removal surgery. I realized at some point around 300+ lbs that even if I lost weight, the only way to take care of the loose skin is to have it surgically removed, which is a really unpleasant experience.  It’s a long invasive surgery with a long and painful recovery period and it can leave lasting effects. Almost anyone who has had surgery knows that the incision scars never feel normal again and even the most skilled of plastic surgeons can only minimize the scars as much as your body will allow.  If you are someone whose body doesn’t heal smoothly and cleanly from cuts and wounds (like mine), your body may never look normal. Looking normal is extremely important to most people.

I have only a vague memory of looking ‘normal.’ My mom has a picture of me when I was in 6th grade where I was goofing off as she snapped the picture. In this picture, I am not overweight and I think it’s the last photo I have of myself looking like a normal pre-teen kid.  In the forty years since then, I have grown used to looking and feeling different from everyone else.  ‘Not-normal’ is my normal and I have also come to realize that many people have problems accepting that they are different from the mainstream.  I remember when I was an overweight teen trying on swimsuits with my mom and her mother, and being told by my grandmother that I wasn’t going to find a swimsuit I liked because none of them would cover my fat. (She was a real peach, my maternal grandmother!) In the years since, I’ve grown used to people making rude remarks, laughing at me and treating me differently because of my weight. I learned to ignore most of it since it says more about their narrow-mindedness than my weight problem. At the pool, I’ve noticed some of my classmates walk out to the pool with towels wrapped around to hide their bodies. I know I look wrinkly, saggy and kind of deformed.  I also know that I feel stronger, lighter and I enjoy my life a lot more than I did before. If looking a little freakish is the cost of feeling a whole lot better, then I am happy to pay it! Our appearance is always temporary and changing anyway.  No doubt I will continue to look saggier and wrinklier as I continue to lose weight.  The day may come when it bothers me enough to do something about it, but until that day, I will view the wrinkles as signs of my ongoing success. I worked hard for them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Identity Crisis: Losing Yourself in the Process & the Fear of Success

Obviously, I was desperate to lose weight.  I had been trying to do that for most of my adult life and had failed utterly and completely.  When I finally stumbled into the right process for me (Paleo living), I was beyond estatic!  I was so happy that I was FINALLY losing weight and it wasn’t coming back and I was not totally miserable in the process! I just wanted to tell everyone: this is working for me!! (LOL- it’s one of the reasons I started this blog!)

I have been at this nearly two years now (I count January 2015 as my ‘start date’) and I have lost about 165 lbs (164.4).  That’s about an average size adult human. I used to look at my total weight loss and tell myself “that’s a toddler” or “that’s a kid” and lately it was “that’s about a whole person.”  At first it was a little funny, thinking I was carrying those extra forty pounds around like someone would carry their child, and then the higher the number the more it was a little frightening thinking I had been carrying so much extra weight on my enitre body.  As it climbed higher into the 100’s, I would think about how my knees and my back and feet would hurt and I’d realize it was the same as carrying around another person with me 24/7.  I’ve heard pregnant women complain about how heavy the baby is and how awkward it can be to move around, and the average woman gains only 25-30 lbs when pregnant.  For someone who was not overweight before, it’s still a lot of weight and it’s mostly located in one awkward area of the body.  I was carrying so much more than that all over my body and it was not a temporary condition! Worse, I kept gaining weight. Before I finally lost weight, I was carrying the equivalent of two large men around all the time (I weighed 438 lbs and I’m 5’4″). I knew I needed to lose weight and that I was unhealthy, but at the same time, the discomfort from my weight gain had been slow and insidious.  I’ve heard it said that if you throw a frog in a pot of boiling water, it’ll jump right out, but if you put it in a pot of cold water and slowly increase the heat, the frog will stay there and die ( someone please save the frog! no cooking frogs please!).  I was the frog: I had been gaining at a relatively slow but steady rate and the discomfort slowly increased but like the frog, I was not paying a whole lot of attention. On one level, I knew this was killing me, but it wasn’t killing me so fast that I felt I needed to do something about it. It wasn’t until my health became so bad due to other factors that I was finally motivated to make changes that ultimately led to my losing weight.

Now I’m a little over the halfway mark to my goal weight (150 lbs). At some point, in the rather near future now, I’m going to have to talk to my doctor about getting some of my loose skin removed, although I would prefer to wait as long as possible.  The problem with loose skin isn’t so much that it’s unattractive as it can become a source of infection.  It folds up on itself and rubs in places where it’s not supposed to be and these wounds can easily become infected.  Mine is not that bad yet, but it’s getting there, especially on my legs.  Knowing me it will probably come down to which is the bigger pain in the butt: the loose skin or the surgery?  When the answer is the loose skin, I’ll probably call my doctor.  The bad part about that is that I have a high tolerance for irritation, so I’m hoping I don’t get an infection before I finally decide to go get cut up.

There have been a lot of physical changes these past two years.  The loose skin is only one change and maybe the most noticeable. My body is literally shrinking in on itself. Parts of me are sagging that never did before and it’s a little uncomfortable at times having to deal with that.  I swim a couple days a week, so I am used to seeing myself in the gym mirror in my swimsuit looking like a deflated balloon (even more so since I’ve gone to a smaller two piece). I feel my bones more prominently and there’s a lot less pain in my back, knees and feet. Moving is a lot easier and so is sleeping.  My clothes are hanging on me now and even my shoes fit better. Shoes I could barely fit in two years ago now fit well with a little extra room to tighten them up. My younger and smaller sister has started giving me her old clothes (she’s also lost weight) and I was rather shocked when I got dressed this morning and I put on a shirt that I didn’t think would fit, but it fit just fine.  I really didn’t think I’d lost that much weight.

That statement seems to be at the crux of my current mindset. I am in denial regarding how much weight I’ve lost and how much smaller I seem to be getting.  At first, it was kind of fun thinking I actually need to buy smaller clothes.  I don’t ever recall a time in my life when I was complaining that all my clothes are too big and I need smaller sizes.  I have a couple of shirts that feel like I’m wrapped in a sail and the free t-shirt I got when I joined my gym (even though I got the bigger size) is now my nightshirt since it comes down so far on me.  I recently ordered new swimsuits online and a couple days after I submitted my order, I realized maybe I should have ordered a size down (I was getting in the pool- go figure).  The reason I needed new swimsuits is that the ones I have are starting to slip off in the water. (The new ones fit just fine!) Back in August, as I noticed how my pants flap and a lot of them now have safety pins and binder clips keeping them up, I figured I’d wait until October to buy some new ones.  Now October is here and I’m telling myself, as even the “good fitting pants” now need a binder clip, maybe I should wait until the new year.  I keep telling myself that I haven’t lost “that much weight” and these 3X pants still fit too well for me to think about moving down to 2X.  The size 24 shirts still fit nice enough that moving down to 22 is “probably not a good idea.”  That worked until this morning when the shirt I put on is one of my sister’s 2x hand-me-downs and it fits better than my old sail-size 24s.

The physical changes and the denial about the overall weight loss are only one part of the problem.  I’m pretty used to the saggy skin and not too concerned about it, and while the baggy clothes are becoming more of a problem (buying new clothes has always been so depressing!) The bigger ‘problem’ is that I’m changing in ways I never thought about and while you wouldn’t think it would be something that upsets me, it really does bother me more than a little.  Whenever I notice it, there is always a feeling of disquiet in me, because it feels like I am losing who I am.

Fear of Success

And I think that is exactly what is happening: the person I used to be, the person I am familiar with, is no longer entirely there.  There has always been a lot of attention given the fear of failure and how to get over that, but not so much to fear of success.  Some people have never heard of it and automatically dismiss it as one of those psycho-babble ideas: “Really?? You’re afraid of succeeding?? Of winning?? Of completing what you set out to do??”  Ask any athlete who has won Wimbledon for example: how much pressure is there to win next year, and the year after?  Ask Tiger Woods after he won the Masters: any pressure there, Tiger?? Once you do what you set out to do, there is enormous pressure to keep winning.  You don’t just “win and leave”: you are expected to keep performing at the same level! A band puts out a fabulous album: automatically, critics put out the idea that the next one might not be as good.  An actor wins the Oscar: the next film is automatically compared to the “Oscar-winning performance.”  While everyone is familiar with the price of failure, there is a hidden cost to winning as well.

With weight loss, it’s pretty straightforward: “she lost the weight, yeah, but can she keep it off?” Anyone who has lost weight knows the mantras: “don’t gain. don’t eat. don’t gain. don’t eat.”  It’s usually followed by the dreaded daily self-interrogation: “are my pants getting tight? why doesn’t my bra/ shirt/ socks fit as loose as they used to? does my face look fat?!” When it comes to weight loss & keeping it off, most battle-scarred veterans are used to the war never ending; we don’t “win”- we just keep fighting.  People tell us the greater the battle, the greater the glory, and they leave off the part about defending that win.  I remember how devastating it felt when I gained back the 40 lbs I had lost on NutriSystem, and then I gained more back as well.  (Haven’t we all been there?)  It’s salt in the wound honestly.  It’s like the weight is dancing on your grave: “yeah, you thought you’d ditched me but now I’m back and I’m bigger and stronger than ever!! bwahahaha!”

It’s not enough to succeed in losing weight and getting fitter; you have to maintain that fitness.  This is where so many people just pack it in and go home, usually because the changes they made to lose the weight were not permanent lifestyle changes.  They monitored what they ate long enough and consistently enough to lose X amount of pounds, but once it’s gone, they go back to the way they ate before which led to the gain of X amount of pounds. This is the “revolving door dieting mentality” that keeps the weight loss industry flourishing. For anyone to keep winning the “weight loss war,” we must make permanent life style changes: we keep making healthy food choices; we stay active; going to the gym and/ or walking daily are now normal habits and eating unhealthy foods are the exception rather than the rule.  It’s not so much that our habits need to change as much as we ourselves need to change.

This is where I find myself: I am changing into someone else and that is causing a little bit of an identity crisis (‘little bit’- eye roll!!)  I find I am experiencing some anxiety when I find myself not falling into my regular old habits.  This is actually a good thing because my regular old habits were the habits that led to my being 438 lbs.  I know what the old me would have done (bought at least two pieces of Safeway carrot cake!) and the new ‘transitional’ me would have looked at the cake, wanted it and walked away from it, but this new healthier me is not even noticing the carrot cake and walks right by without even looking (she’s looking at the eggs of all things!), and when I find myself doing things like not paying attention to things that formerly were important (either as ‘bad for me treats’ or ‘things to be resisted’), I feel a little bit of anxiety, because I don’t know who this person is, and worse yet, I don’t know what her pitfalls are.  The old me was pretty easy: carrot cake, pasta, bagels, cookies and yeah, yogurt, cheese and anything with cream sauce.  The me I thought I was (the transitional me) is a little harder but still a known quantity: bacon, broccoli, salads, chicken and Epic bars.  This new person? So far I know she’s not into carrot cake, apple fritters, chips and cheese toast.  Beyond that, she’s still pretty nebulous.  I get to find out what her strengths and weaknesses are.  I’m not even really sure what she looks like, but apparently, she’s thinner than I am and getting thinner.

I am also having anxiety when I find I’ve lost weight.  (What the hell is THAT all about?!?) I have to admit, this would make me laugh if it didn’t cause so much disquiet in me.  I am actually stressing about LOSING weight and  NOT having a problem resisting the carrot cake kryptonite!! I used to wish for problems like these, so now- wish granted! Frankly, it’s all part of the ongoing transition to someone healthier, fitter and hopefully, happier than the person I used to be.  Yes, there is anxiety involved now with not only learning the new healthier habits but maintaining them and the weight loss as well as finding new strengths and probably the weaknesses as well.  I am becoming someone new and it’s a little hard letting go of the person I used to be.  For so long, she was the devil I knew, even though she was 370+ lbs for more than ten years, wearing size 4x pants and size 24/26 shirts, and could hardly walk from one end of the mall to the other. When I looked in the mirror, I saw someone I recognized even if I didn’t like her very much.  For many months now, when I look in the mirror, I saw someone who surprised me and who still surprises me.  Honestly, I don’t handle surprises very well, but I’m getting used to them.  I suppose I’d better.  This new person looks like she’s making herself at home.

Taking Stock of the Journey Thus Far

  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.

 In June of 2014, when I went to the doctor, I weighed in at 438.  I was utterly miserable; at the time, I thought my weight had little to do with it.  I thought it was stress from my job that was the source of my misery, and I wasn’t entirely wrong.  The stress was causing a lot of real problems with my life and though I didn’t realize it at the time, it was contributing to my obesity, but it was only one of a lot of factors.

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.

 It’s definitely been an adventure.  The simple explanation I gave my doctor was that after leaving my job, I got depressed, stopped eating fast food and that change alone was enough to spur a 40 lb weight loss.  I started watching My 600 lb Life and after having the crap scared out of me, I took Dr. Nowzaradan’s advice to eat a high protein- low carb diet. After that, I looked for ways to keep going with the weight loss and made a decision to keep going.

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.

Moments of Truth

Most people who are overweight have a stormy relationship with scales. I am no different. I don’t remember the last time we had a scale in the house that could handle my weight. Of course, that eventually became an excuse for being ignorant of how much I weigh. It really helped too that I didn’t want to know how much I weigh.

Even when I go to the doctor, I usually close my eyes when I get on the scale so I remain ignorant of my weight. If I don’t know how much I weigh, then I don’t have to deal with it. Losing weight for me has always been like playing the lotto, and I’ve got the same kind of luck, too!  I “win” a little, then ultimately end up losing my money with nothing to show for it.

Now that I am actually losing weight, for the first time in a very long time, I am curious about how much I weigh.  I know I have lost weight because, even though people comment on my weight loss (a subjective opinion), my clothes are getting big and roomy (an objective fact).  Despite my curiosity, I am still reluctant to look at the numbers on the scale. I’m afraid they won’t be as good as I think they are. Dealing with disappointment is always hard, but I have a history of finding the silver lining in every cloud and ripping it out.  I don’t want another disappointment to lead to a relapse, or worse, giving up on my lifestyle change.

Tomorrow, however, income face to face with the scale again. I am going to the doctor again for a follow up on my arthritis and other issues. As much as I’d like to look at the numbers on the scale, I’m scared to do so. I have already faced one moment of truth this week.

Part of my physical therapy involves pool exercises, which means I had to buy a swimsuit for the first time literally in decades. Obviously finding a suit in my size is not easy and I truly hate buying clothes. It has always been a traumatic experience, so of course, I was not looking forward to any of this.  Since they didn’t have a swimsuit in my size at the local Target (there’s a big shock!), I had to go with the biggest size they did have, which happens to be one size down from what I normally wear. As usual, I bought the clothes (it’s a two piece) and brought them home to try them on.  I am pleased to say they fit!! It was truly a “what da hell!”moment for me, then I promptly ripped the silver lining out of that cloud by noting that they didn’t fit as loosely as I would have liked.

However, the bottom line is that I am now wearing clothes a size smaller than I wore before, so whatever the scale says, big loss, small loss, the loss is at least worth one clothes size.  I faced that Moment of Truth and came away a winner; now I just have to face another one and get the hard cold numbers. Regardless of what the numbers are, I cannot let it derail my progress. Getting into the smaller size will help with that!