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

Bypassing through.

Dear Journal –

I’ll admit, I’ve had a hard time putting my words to paper (ok, keyboard!) lately.  I’ve even struggled writing in my personal journal even when I try to make it a priority.  But, I feel that now is the time I need to write! A couple of weeks ago, my insurance company accepted my doctor’s request for bariatric surgery – laparoscopic Roux-en-Y.  I’m scheduled for late February.  To say that I am experiencing a mix of emotions is a complete understatement.

To start, I can’t help but feeling ashamed.  Ashamed because I did this to me. Ashamed because surgery is the only thing that might help free me from the restraints of obesity that have been holding me back for too many years. Sure, some of my weight related issues are from health issues and probably genetics, but my DNA and my health issues didn’t make me eat McDonald’s French Fries a few times each month. (Seriously, I love those things. They are probably going to be the thing I miss most after surgery!)  That being said, I had to look beyond that, think about all the other ways I’ve tried to lose weight, and set a goal to make this successful and make all those other years of struggles worth it.

The next emotion is an interesting mixture of fear, apprehension, and excitement. Usually these feelings all just kind of co-exist.  My anxiety is saying, “What if you die? What if they accidentally hit an organ with a scalpel?  What if you throw up every day for a year or every day for …. life?”  But, the excited part of me daydreams of non-scale wins like watching myself finish my first 5K in years, my husband and I becoming parents, and just plain old feeling good and confident.  So many times I’ve almost talked myself out of having the surgery, but I try to think of a positive counter thought for each negative thought.

I have just under a month before surgery.  My 28th birthday is in less than six months.  I could lose about 50 pounds by then based on the successes of other patients.  But, this change is going to be A LOT of work.  Learning how to eat for my new system again.  Getting on an exercise routine…..My “new life” will be starting soon … and I am ready!

-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