Crying in the Dressing Room

Something happened today.  I spent ten minutes crying in the dressing room at Kohls. 

Dear Journal, 

It has been awhile, much too long actually, since I took the time to write.  I had intended on writing more than I have. I’d say I’ll write more from here on out, but that might just be an empty promise.  I’ve been so busy, but aren’t we all? dressing room

Something happened today.  I spent ten minutes crying in the dressing room at Kohls.  It was because many of the things I grabbed didn’t fit.  This experience of nothing fitting wasn’t new, but something about this WAS different: things didn’t fit because they were too BIG.

As you may recall, I had the life changing opportunity to have roux-en-y gastric bypass.  When I last wrote in January, I was a month out from my surgery date. I had my surgery on February 20.  I’ve had no complications.  My first few weeks after surgery I regretted everything about it.  I was sore, I couldn’t eat like I wanted to, and I craved all the good foods.  However, one day everything clicked, and I started feeling great.  I think it started with a positive mind.  Sure, I can’t have anything sweet like cake or cookies, and I haven’t had a Diet Mountain Dew or a Monster in over three months. But, giving those things up is so worth it.  I don’t even miss them now.

So, back to the crying in the dressing room.  I wasn’t just crying tears of joy because I lost seventy pounds already, and the XL shirts I grabbed were too large now. No, I was crying because my diabetes was in remission.  My hormones were more balanced than ever before.  I might not have the same struggles with infertility that I’ve struggled with for the past two years.  My joints hurt less.  My depression and anxiety are better.  Emotionally, I am more confident.  This new found confidence has made me a better wife.  A better employee.  A better person.

I worked hard at loving myself each and every day.  Each and every pound.  Whether I was at my highest weight of 252 or my current weight now of 179.  (I’m 5’8″ for perspective.)  I had this surgery because I love me.  I know we live in a world of body positivity and sure, I loved myself and who I was, but my extra weight was a trigger for my depression. I knew and recognized that about myself.  I started to lose myself and not care about anything.  My shopping addiction got worse because I compensated for my emotional sadness by trying to collect things. Things to make me happy and things to make me forget how empty I sometimes felt inside.  Things I didn’t need.  This surgery was not only a saving grace for my physical health, but my mental health (and my wallet).

My journey isn’t over.  My journey is just beginning.  Each day I learn new things about myself.  I’ve found out that my new love is exercise not food or shopping, and my favorite sweet eat is now raspberries not cake or cookies.  I’ve learned to recognize things that make me anxious and then breathe not eat.  I’ve paid off every last credit card from those shopping sprees and collecting things to compensate for my sadness.  My life is starting over, and I’m so thankful for modern medicine, insurance, and perseverance.

I’m glad I didn’t talk myself out of this surgery.  If you’re reading this because you are debating what to do, whether it is surgery or something else: do what your heart tells you.  Try to picture your life if you do it or if you don’t.  Dream your best dream. Then do it.

Love,

-s

“Weight Wounds.”

Dear Journal,

on this day

The ‘On this Day’ memory feature on Facebook always elicits a plethora of feelings whenever I open it.  I’ve had Facebook since about 2007 so I am always faced with over ten years of memories and ten years of people who were part of my life at various points.  As I scroll, some things make me so happy to remember, some things sad, and some things make me cringe! Apparently, back in the day, I also used to partake in some ‘vaugebooking’, but even ten years later I can often remember what a certain quote was about. (Spoiler: probably boy troubles in my younger years. 😉 )

Today a particular post struck me.  I posted it in the morning before school.  The year 2009 — only a few weeks before my high school graduation.  In the morning I posted, “Another day of not feeling like enough.  My jeans are getting too tight again.  My mom said my face is getting rounder. Why is my weight ALWAYS such an issue? Here we go … starve mode … have to look good for graduation!”   The sad thing?  I had nothing to worry about with my weight then.  I was healthy.  I was strong.  I was most definitely not overweight.  This was just the beginning of what would eventually become a lifetime struggle with my weight.  About a year later I would be diagnosed with PCOS and the issues would only keep on coming from then on.

I’m so mad at myself for living in a state of “weight panic” most of my high school years.  Every single day I obsessed about how “fat” I was getting. I tried every fad diet, every fasting technique, and more to try to control my weight.  But, in reality, I know that this only made things worse.  Those tactics probably messed up my metabolism for years to come.  I remember a specific diet that consisted of just eating tuna, broccoli, and grapefruit.  So…much…tuna.  I still can’t look at the stuff to this day.

Additionally, as I consider the comment about my mom saying my face was getting rounder, I’m annoyed.  I love my mother dearly and she’s done so much for me, but I’m not sure she realized how much I struggled with my weight concerns, and she only exemplified them.  My mom is tiny and has never had to pay attention to what she eats and she never gains a pound.  She just doesn’t understand the struggles.  Please, please refrain from pointing out things like weight gain especially when you are talking to impressionable young women. Those comments she always quipped had a lasting impression.  So much so that even nearly 27 year old me always waits for a weight comment from her even though, at this point, I think I’ve gained too much weight and I think she thinks I’m already lost.  (She does still say things like, “That shirt really looks good with your body type.” Usually an over-sized comfort shirt.  Hey, thanks, mom.)  But, that’s so minor now it hardly matters.

I urge you to encourage the young females in your life to nourish their growing bodies and eat healthy.  They are more than what the scale says and they should be happy with who they are. (I KNOW that is harder said than done.  Self acceptance can be hard.) Even if you notice they are adding on a few extra pounds, don’t point it out … maybe sit down and cook a healthy meal together or go for a refreshing walk.  Teach your kids (and the kids around you) how to take care of their bodies and teach them how to love who they are.  Also, refrain from expressing your own negative thoughts about your body in front of them.  I used to occasionally express my displeasure in my body in front of my friend’s seven year old.  She looked at me one day and said, “don’t say that!” That had an impression on me.  Even if in my mind I’m completely disgusted with myself I refrain from that kind of talk in front of her.

If you’re unhappy with who you are, put the steps in place to make a change….a small one or maybe a big one like weight loss surgery.  You deserve to be the best you! I’m glad I saw this post today because I remember how deep my “weight wounds” go.  I am looking forward to my bariatric surgery consult in a couple weeks, but for now, I need to live my life and be happy with who I am.

How do you embrace you you are…faults and all?  How do you present yourself in front of the young people who are watching you?  Feel free to share!

-s

Fat clothes.

Dear Journal, 

It was something actually didn’t think would make a difference to me, but it did.  I wallowed all day so far in self pity because of it.  Today, I bought clothes second-hand from someone obesitywho for most of my life I referenced as fat.  (Now, I know that in today’s world of body positivity that’s a taboo word to use.  But, I’m not talking about calling her fat to her face; it is the voice in my head that recognizes different hair colors, eye colors, and other descriptors.  Let’s face it, we know when someone is a little fluffy.  Would I treat someone different because of that? No.  So you get my point)  Now, I was able to buy these clothes from her because since January she’s lost fifty pounds.  THAT is amazing.  I am so proud of her.  But, for me it put things into perspective a bit.  That person, who for much of my adult life I regarded as fat, was now much smaller than me, and her “fat clothes” were the perfect size for me.

It caused me to reflect on how I got here.  I’m good at playing the victim to my health, and even doctors tell me I have the cards stacked against me.  I’ve been told that even if I ran a marathon a day and ate perfectly balanced meals I still would have a hard time losing weight.  I have a wonderful combination of PCOS, endometriosis, hypothyroidism, diabetes, and an enzyme issue in my stomach.  All of these things led to depression and anxiety.  I’m in the process of working with an amazing team of doctors at Mayo Clinic – Rochester to decide if maybe I have gotten some incorrect diagnosis in the past that got me to this point.  We are looking into autoimmune issues and more.  I finally feel like I am in the best of care to get down to the bottom of whatever I have going on and gain back the remaining years of my 20s and better health for my future.  But, I have a “food problem” and with all this said, I am not innocent in my decline in health and addition of weight.  I love potato chips, and I love chocolate chip cookies. I occasionally binge on them when I’m stressed, having a really bad round with depression, or just because they taste good.

With all that said, I know I need to start making better decisions and I need to be realistic about my problems.  I can’t play the victim. I need to get over my “victim of by body” mindset especially as I look upon having gastric bypass.  My consult for that is coming up at the end of May, and to say I am nervous is an understatement. I also just can’t believe that this is where I am.  I never thought that I would be a candidate for a surgery like this and sitting here weighing out the pros and cons of a life changing surgery like this.  In my mind I go back and forth, back and forth.  It’s such a tough decision to make whether to proceed or not, but I can’t help but thinking it is a good choice to make.  I’ve failed on dozens of normal diets, worked my butt off, and spent thousands on “health trends”. When nothing changes after all of that, and you keep losing and gaining the same ten pounds, it’s easy to feel defeated.  Here’s to hoping this could be a positive change after some tears and pain.

Has anyone overcome binge eating tendencies?  Has anyone personally weighed out the pros and cons of weight loss surgery?  Share your thoughts below. 

-S