Sunday, November 21, 2010

The adorability continuum

When you're 200 lbs overweight, you just become resigned to the fact that no amount of lipstick, or cute shoes, or clothes will make you adorable.  In fact, I didn't realize how big I had gotten (until I saw the pictures) because I had just stopped looking at myself in the mirror completely.  I'm not really sure when that happened--maybe somewhere around 290 when I decided to stop going on airplanes--so it was very strange to me when I started to see myself again.

Now I find myself marveling at my face, which has become "3-D" again.  I like feeling that I have bones I didn't know I had (collarbones!  hip bones! ribs!).  I take more time putting on my clothes and matching my jewelry to them.  In fact, my morning routine is ridiculously long now (complicated by the fact that I'm a slow riser anyway, and that it takes me a while to drink and eat enough to restart my engine) because I put on makeup every day--not just a swipe of sheer lipstick I can do without a mirror and a little mascara.  I use EYELINER, which I had forgotten how much I love love love, despite requiring more time and patience than I actually have.

But here's the thing that I have come to call "The Adorability Continuum."  When you lose a lot (but not all) of your excess weight, your self-image swings wildly back and forth.  At one end is the side where you compare your new self to your old self (we shall call it the A side--A for Adorable), and on the other side is where you compare your current self to your ideal self (we shall call it the side that-shall-not-be-named, or the SNBN side).  Depending on which side of the continuum I wake up on, my day can be very different.  Let me break it down for you with examples. 

When I swing to the A side, I am so freakin' cute I can hardly stand myself.  I got talked into going to Old Navy by Goldilocks (even though I told her that nothing there would fit me), and I found a coat that actually fit!  My first purchase at a non-Omar-the-Tent-Maker store!  It's got a retro 60's vibe, fits very close to the body (in fact, I can't wear it over anything bulky still) and makes me look thin, energetic, fashionable, and (dare I say it) younger.  This weekend, I got an adorable little winter cap to match, and let me tell you that I am super-cute in my new winter wear (I can't wait to go to some tree lighting ceremony outside to wear it).  Even if it WAS the largest size that Old Navy had, I fit into clothes from a non-fat-lady store, and I look great.

Then there is the SNBN side.  The side that only sees that I still have a double-chin and a really big stomach.  The side that wonders if I'll ever get out of "plus sized" clothes, and points out that I'm still really a woman's 1X, and not a regular-size XL (yes, they are different).  The side that knows that men still don't see me, and that to society I'm still just fat.  The side that looks up the BMI chart to see if I'm still "obese" (I am, by the way).  The side that knows that shopping for pants is still a horrible ordeal because not only am I still too big (all of my weight sits at my belly area), and now I have the additional loveliness of extra skin droopage, with a perpetual camel toe as a result.

So the pendulum swings back and forth, and I wonder sometimes if I can just slow it down.  Objectively I know that I have achieved a lot so far with this, but objectively I also know that I still have so far to go.  Today, I find that struggle exhausting, and I wonder if I will ever be able to settle in to my body, without being overly critical or totally self-centered, and just call it home.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Post #100!

That's right, peeps.  It's my 100th post.  Weird, right?  Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a "stick-to-it" kind of girl.  I'm more of an idea gal, and it's best if someone else does all the details and followup.

But it's been a year and a half, and I have 100 posts to show for it.  When I started, it was May of 2009.  I was still trying to do Weight Watchers and hadn't even gone to the seminar on bariatric surgery.  I knew change was imminent, but I didn't know how or why.  I was miserable, and couldn't walk from my house to my car without having to stop and rest at the bottom of my stairs.  I had full-blown sleep apnea, and weighed 353 pounds (give or take a few).  I wore a size 30/32 shirt--on my thinnest days (I don't even know my pants size because I just kept wearing my 26/28 until they stretched to fit).

In November 2009, I went to the bariatric seminar given by my surgeon to educate people on surgical options and to help them decide if it's right for them.  It's been a year since I decided to have the surgery, and so far I'm so glad I did (recap alert!):
1.  I survived 2 major surgeries, 2 strictures, 3 ER visits, 9 days and 8 crazy nights in the hospital, all with my good humor intact (mostly).
2.  I can walk to and from my car without even thinking.  Hell, I went hiking on a mountain, cardio-kickboxed, pilates-ed, elliptical-ized and can even go up and down stairs.
3.  I am 5 pounds shy of having lost the equivalent weight of my entire mother.  Soaking wet and wearing shoes.
4.  I had to give away my "skinny" clothes because they were too big, and I shopped and actually bought clothes in a store that sells regular sizes.
5.  My surgeon didn't recognize me until I told him that I was "the one with the NG tube who you told was going back into surgery if I had gone one more day with a swollen-shut pouch." (he remembered that!)
6.  I have spent more on my medical condition this year to date than I made in a year at my first HR job.  And if you include all the expenses of weird, high-protein food, vitamins, new clothes, pilates classes, gym memberships, and special "hair-loss" shampoos, I've spent more this year to date than I made when as a regional HR manager.

It's a hell of a lot to pack into 100 measly little posts.  But here is what I'm hoping in the next 100:
1.  Buy all my clothes at a store that is not exclusive to plus sizes.
2.  Lose 34 more pounds, which will make me "overweight" instead of obese.  If I really want to shoot for the moon, I'll lose 64 pounds, which would put me at "normal."  That is absolutely unimaginable to me.
3.  Try more fun exercise stuff--Zumba, Hot or Core Power Yoga, ride a bike--outside, Boot camp (well, maybe not that one, that doesn't sound like fun).
4.  Look into and possibly start the process of surgical skin removal and a tummy tuck.
5.  Sit in an airline seat WITH the tray table in it's non-upright position (and not resting on my belly, either).
6.  Ride a roller coaster.  Or not.  But just to at least have the option.
7.  Date.  Someone.  Anyone.  Preferably a dude (nothing against the ladies!).
8.  Be able to travel.
9.  Ride a horse.  Or a cowboy (see #7).  Whatever.
10.  Wear an inappropriately sexy Halloween costume.  Maybe just in the dressing room, but still!
 Probably a whole lot more stuff that I can't even think of right now.  But the possibilities are out there!

Just to close this one out, I thought I'd leave you with a little glimpse of what I see now when I look down.  It still surprises me (especially that I fit into these cute new tights!), and I'm wondering when I'll stop being amazed that this is me...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thanksgiving possibilities...

Thanks to those of you that responded with ideas for Thanksgiving.  Here is a tentative plan, glooped together from lots of different stuff people said:

1.  We are going to cook, mostly because then we know what's going into everything, and we can make stuff with reduced fat, sugar and carbs.  But...
2.  We are going to Goldilocks' house to have "the meal" so that anything except meat can be left with her.  I won't have bushels of stuffing hanging out at the house tempting me, but I'll be able to sample something if I really want it.
3.  We decided we want to watch the parade in the morning instead of going "Turkey trotting," but since Goldilocks lives right by the best gym on the planet, there will probably be a stop-over involved.  I'm telling my parents to bring their bathing suits--if nothing else they can sit in the hot tub.
4.  We decided to get a "mini-ham" from the Honeybaked Ham store, which is close-by (scroll to the bottom to see my EXCELLENT story about the local HH, which is totally off-topic and slightly inappropriate, hence it's relegation to the bottom of the page).  This gives a delicious protein option that does not make me think, "Where the h*ll is the d*mn stuffing?"
5.  We also decided for the Turkey Fiends that we would get a turkey breast.  I was gonna get it pre-cooked from Whole Paycheck Foods, but just found an excellent recipe for preparing it in the crock pot, which looks just as easy.
6.  We are going to spring for some new board games to play, which will be fun, interactive, and less food-centered than watching a movie (which often requires munchies).
7.  I even thought about trying to make quinoa "stuffing" which would give me the flavors of my favorite food at Thanksgivings, but with a protein boost and fewer carbs.  We'll see how crazy I get.

So there will be a lot less emphasis on food, although still enough that it will feel like Thanksgiving.  A good compromise, I think.  Now the challenge will be the rest of the parental visit (since I tend to do nothing but eat when they are around).  Send me any thoughtful strategies you've developed.  So far, I think just keeping them busy and out of the house will help...

Now, for the HoneyBaked Ham story.  A couple of years ago, an adult "bookstore" (why do they call it that when there are no books there?) opened up in my area of town.  I found out about it because I got a marketing post card from them WITH MY REAL NAME ON IT!  So here are the odd things about that (and it really does tie into the ham, if you wait for it):
1.  How the h*ll did they get my first and last name?  That type of mail always is addressed to "Occupant," and does not usually get personalized with my full name.  But no!  It wasn't it addressed to "Sex-Crazed Occupant," but directly to ME!
2.  What mailing list am I on, and how did I get on it?  The raciest thing I get in the mail is my Allure beauty magazine and Entertainment Weekly.
3.  Those in the  Sex Trade apparently had not only my full name, but they knew where I lived.  (I considered actually moving at this point).
4.  I actually got TWO postcards from them.  The second one was also addressed directly to me, although at least they had the courtesy to spell my name wrong the second time.  Perhaps the thought, "Maybe she didn't get the message from the first one and we should send her another, just in case."
5.  The postcard itself not only advertised the name of the store, and the types of items they sell, but it gave a tiny map on how to get there with directions spelled out underneath it.  Just in case I was thinking, "Hey, I need to get me some penis-shaped pasta ASAP!  But however will I get there?"  Then I could whip out the marketing card and read the map.
6.  And the best part was the directions themselves.  What did the directions say?  (wait for it)
RIGHT BEHIND THE HONEYBAKED HAM STORE!  That's right.  They used the HoneyBaked Ham store as a touchpoint for directions to the porn shop.  These are not normally things that go together, as in, "Hey...while we're out getting the holiday ham, we can swing by and pick up some crotchless panties.  Two birds, one stone!" In fact, I think the last thing I would be considering when getting Easter Dinner would be stopping for an item to get my freak on after the relatives leave.

All in all, a very disturbing trip to the mailbox with lots of unanswered questions.  Except for one...I did find out how they got my name for the mailing list when my voter registration cards arrived in the mail--one with my correct name and one with the same incorrect spelling as the porn store.  Apparently they could only send to individuals above age 18, and the way they screened it was by using voter registrations.  So that was a relief.  But I still can't wrap my mind around the link between porn and HoneyBaked Ham.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Calling all cooks....and post-ops too...

First of all, welcome to those of you who are new and joined me--thanks very much!

Now for the main event:  I need suggestions on how to handle Thanksgiving.  It is my first big "foodie" holiday since surgery, and I'm worried.  Here is how Thanksgiving normally transpires at my house:

1.  My parents come for an extended stay, which puts three adults in a condo for one.  Not only are there more people in a smaller space, but the people in question all have somewhat big personalities (I actually think I may top the list on this).  So while I love it when they come visit, it can also be overwhelming.
2.  We wake up and turn on the Thanksgiving parade and my mom and I cook.  My mom's job is to hold the turkey while I fill it with stuffing, and to amuse me by making the turkey dance while she's doing it.
3.  We eat the food.  What is it?  For me it's always a little bit of turkey on the side of a large plate of carbs--stuffing, mashed potatoes, and rolls.  We try to have salad and veggies to make it a slightly rounder meal, but I usually push those to the side.
4.  My mother cleans up.  Our deal is that I cook (with the exception of preparing the naked turkey for the oven), and she cleans up.  That, and she's somewhat compulsive about cleaning so even if we didn't have the agreement I would just leave it until it drove her so crazy that she cleaned it up anyway.  So the trade-off is actually a much better deal.  During clean up, there is usually a great deal of "stuffing-stealing" on my part, which consists of me deciding that there is no way for all the stuffing to fit into the tupperware and I should therefore eat it while standing in the kitchen.  And maybe another roll.  With butter.
5.  Then there is much laying around in a tryptophan-induced semi-comatose state while my father attempts to watch football with his eyes closed and my mother and I attempt to change the channel to something girly without waking him.
6.  We eventually make it over to a friend's house for a dessert buffet and to practice having more appropriate social skills than sneaking stuffing and slumping on the couch.
7.  We go home, we have a late-night snack (ie. a second Thanksgiving dinner), and we go to bed.

These are things that I cannot do this year.  I can't make it all about the food.  I can't eat the same type of food, nor can I eat it in the same quantity.  And I'm realizing that I'm going to have to re-design Thanksgiving.  Here's where I need your help.

How do I celebrate the holiday without making food the centerpiece?  How do I get some physical activity space for that day?  What food can I have that feels festive and holiday-like for all of us, but doesn't make me hate myself the next day?  How can I change our holiday without making my parents feel punished?

I don't know.  I've thought about going out to dinner (not a great option for us), ordering a "Turkey Dinner for 2" from Whole Foods, having yummy and festive nibbly things (since I have to eat small amounts several times a day) and avoid the one major holiday meal altogether, or invite ourselves to a friend's house.  I'm just not sure.

What are you guys all doing for Thanksgiving?  What do you do to stay on plan for the day (or do you just give yourself a free pass for the day)?  How do you make it feel like a holiday when you have to change everything?

Any and all suggestions are welcome--please leave them in the comments.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Gastric Bypass (and other weight loss) internet tools

To finish up "internet week,"  I thought I'd tell you about a few other great things on the internet that I've really found useful since having gastric bypass.  For those of you that are following for non-surgical weight loss/health, some of these will be really great for you too.

1.  Please go check out BTV (Bariatric TV).  They speak the truth about a healthy post-surgical lifestyle in a funny, interesting way.  Normally I don't like watching videos (I would prefer an article I can print out), but they are a significant exception.  My favorite part of it is the "I Freaking Did It" segment, which is where people who've had the surgery share the new and exciting things they are able to do because of their smaller bodies.  Some of them are riding rollercoasters, or doing a marathon, or riding a horse.  You can see my own "I Freaking Did It" pictures of my first time hiking here on my blog.
2.  Take a look at my blogroll...those are the people that inspire me.  Some of my favorites include Happy Fun Pants, The World According to Eggface, Melting Mama, Shrinking Blubeary, and probably a bunch more that I can't even think of right now.
3.  Do searches for healthy recipes.  Check out,,  Ask your friends for recommendations, or just use a Google search.
4.  As much as I love using the internet as a tool, don't forget to go outside and live.  In fact, I'm cutting my post much shorter than I initially planned so I can go out to work out, shop, and hang out with my friend Goldilocks.

Here's hoping that you found something fun, new, interesting, or educational over this last week.  I know I did!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Turbo what what?

So today I was feeling frisky, and instead of heading to the gym for a boring elliptical workout, I decided to try a Turbo Kick Box class.

Yup.  You read that right.  It went much as you are probably imagining, except I did not get KO'd for zigging when I should have zagged (you should see me trying to do the Electric Slide--although at a wedding everyone is drunk and doesn't mind that I'm running into them).

In honor of my risky new adventure, and keeping with this week's "internet theme,"  I give you Telling Dad, who is a blogger about families, and he absolutely cracks me up.  He volunteered to video himself doing the "Flirty Girl Workout" if people would donate to the "Sweet Dreams Fund", which is a charitable organization he started that helps women and children get out of domestic abuse.  Originally, he was shaking his booty to raise $500 for the charity, and he more than doubled that amount.  If you are interested, you can still visit his website and donate to the fund.

Take a look at the video and you can see why people were willing to donate money to this man.  I only wish that my ridiculousness this evening could have similarly benefitted charity.  Alas, the only people who benefitted from my flailing attempts at group exercise are those who, unfortunately for them, ended up behind me in class (yea, you're welcome).

I hope you all are enjoying internet week on my blog. If you want more of the Babe, head over to Smaller Fun Pants's blog, as I'm a guest star over there today with a much less silly and more weight-loss relevant posting. While you're there, hang out and wish her a speedy recovery--maybe even subscribe to one of her blogs. As a thank you to her for letting me be her temporary nom de plume, I plan on taking a photo of myself in my brand-spankin' new pair of "fun pants." I'll post it here too, for you all to enjoy.

In the meantime, I encourage you all to go out and shake your booty, regardless of how uncoordinated, ungainly, and clumsy you might be. If I can do it, and if Greg can do it, I know that you can too.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


To continue with my Internet theme, I'm embedding a "poetry slam" I found through fellow gastric bypasser Melting Mama.   Please go check out her website if you are thinking about/have had weight loss surgery--she is feisty, inspirational, and tells it like it is.

All my life I wanted to be pretty.  Not smart, not creative, not athletic.  Pretty.  And I watched this video of poet Katie Makkai and I saw myself.  I'm still reeling.

Pretty powerful.

Monday, November 1, 2010

I can do anything good! Yea yea yea yea!

So, I found this show called Tosh.0 on Comedy Central, and it's given me some really funny links that I've been enjoying.  I'm dedicating this week to "Cool stuff that is on the internet."

Today's example is a positive affirmation if I've ever seen one.  Although I sometimes now look in the mirror and think, "Wow, I'm doing great!  I look so thin and healthy today!" it happens just as often that I look in the mirror and think, "My god, but my stomach is the size of Cincinnati!"  So I'm taking a page from little Jessica's book here and trying to eliminate those kinds of negative thoughts.  It's really hard when nothing you own fits, when you take your measurements and find out that your bust is only one inch larger than your waist (with your hips taking the lead at 1 additional inch), when your hair is falling out by the fistful and when all you can see is excess skin.  But if some little girl can figure it out, I suppose I can too.  Enjoy (and practice!)