Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The weight of things

This post is hard to write.

I am, for better or worse, losing weight.

I didn't mean to do this. Hell, I'm the woman who wrote about how much she didn't want to lose weight. And to be honest, I still don't. I'm still struggling.

Before my back surgery, my blood pressure, cholesterol, pulse, weight and blood sugar were at higher levels than they ever have been. After my back surgery, I didn't eat as much, or do anything, so I thought that I would gain weight. Instead, I lost weight. (That disc in my back must've been HEAVY!) After my back healed, I was able to start exercising again for the first time in a long time, so I started walking. And then, after Thanksgiving, I joined a gym. I had plans at the end of September to run a 5K on New Year's Eve, but that went to hell when my doctor told me I needed back surgery. (You can't really go from walking a mile to running a 5K in a month.)

I had to find a new primary care physician in January after my old doctor retired, and my new doctor actually gives a shit and told me that my blood pressure was high, my bad cholesterol was high, and my blood sugar was creeping toward diabetes. The last part scared the shit out of me--type 2 diabetes runs in my family, and I don't want to mess with that. My doctor recommended metformin, but I've heard terrible things about its side effects. At this point, I weighed 250 pounds. So I decided to shake it up a bit and see what I could do for myself on my own. I wasn't that concerned about the number on the scale (and I'm still not), but I knew something hand to change.

I started cutting soda out of my diet--I went from three a day (YIKES.) to one--and went from potato chips everyday to once a week or so. I also started going to the gym in earnest. I walked, mostly, until I felt like I could jog a little. My first time on the elliptical was five minutes of sheer torture. (I can now do 60 minutes on the hill setting.) I thought I would die, but I refused to stop.

Today, four months later, I've lost almost 20 pounds. Far more important than weight is the fact that my blood pressure is close to being normal again, and my pulse rate has dropped from 78 to 68. My heart is no longer struggling as much. I haven't been to the doctor since January, when I'm currently on week three of a training program that will end with a 5K with my coworker at the end of May. If that goes well, I'll register for a timed one on July 4th. (I've heard the first time is the roughest.) I've bought two pairs of running shoes, and I go to the gym six times a week. I've convinced my boyfriend, best friend, and mom to join the gym with me, and my bff S. and I go together almost every night.

I'm at the point where I can jog for 8 minutes straight. I almost cried right there in the gym when I jogged for 5 minutes for the first time, because my body has never been capable of doing such a thing. When I was in high school, I had to walk around the track--jogging for even a tenth of a mile made me dizzy and breathless. I have muscles in places that I never knew I could have muscles--I sat down to pee one day and I suddenly had a bump on my thigh. On both thighs! I panicked for a moment, then poked them and figured out they were newly formed quadriceps. It was a shock, to say the least. My arms have begun to shrink slightly, which means that I can wear coats without cutting off my own circulation. My calves are starting to look monstrous when I flex them, and I even have something mildly resembling a bicep. (I had to stop lifting weights temporarily after I had my tubes tied, but I'll be able to return to that at the end of the week.)

Now, you may say this is all GREAT. And it is! It totally is. I feel more capable of things, and happier, and more balanced, than I have in a long time. I don't have any sort of number goal--for me to be "normal weight", according to BMI, I would have to weigh 173 pounds. That's laughable to me. That's nearly 60 pounds! What if I'm solid muscle and I weigh 200 pounds? So fucking what? Every doctor I've come across has noted that in the world of weight, BMI should be a guideline, not something to live or die by. I don't have a plan for when this ends, but I'd like to be able to run a 10k at some point.

However, I am more concerned about something that affects this blog, and that really affects my confidence: my clothes don't fit anymore.

I've been at the point where my clothes didn't fit--weight fluctuates, of course, and sometimes I'd have to pull out the stretchy clothing to compensate for weight gain. But I've never, never, NEVER had to compensate for weight loss, and I struggle on a nearly daily basis with what the fuck to wear anymore. I don't want to take my clothes in, because what if I gain the weight back? And I don't want to buy new clothes, because what if I lose more weight? My friends and coworkers have mostly been vaguely supportive and said "but you're losing weight!", but for someone who has spent so much time and money on clothing, and as someone who is instantly recognizable by the public for what she wears, this is a serious emotional strain. I look at my closet every morning and feel defeated. And to pile on, most of my shoes are either old enough that they're falling apart or are ungodly uncomfortable anymore.

I've had to make emergency orders to J.Crew and Boden (on serious sale, of course) to try to bolster my wardrobe. Part of the reason I've been posting so little recently is that everything--my pants, my tops, my skirts (MY SKIRTS)--hangs on me now. I have, quite literally, four skirts that fit anymore, and one of the skirts I bought has already accidentally been shrunk in the wash, so now I'm down to three skirts and a pair of black pants that currently fit but are even still becoming a little loose at the hips. Part of why I had such a problem with yesterday's SIA was because the skirt I planned to wear was the one that shrunk halfway through the week.

It's really hard to be proud of the accomplishments you've had if there's no way to show them off. And even my dresses are beginning to drape on me. (Belting works to an extent with the dresses, but not the skirts.) I had to change three times Thursday morning because one of my favourite skirts now hangs on my hips in a really unflattering way, and I couldn't find a top that I hadn't worn recently that would work with the one clean skirt I still have. Ultimately I said fuck it and threw the black pants and a tank top that recently vacated a J. Crew box, along with a pair of decent enough flats.

It comes down to this: although I'm happier and healthier on the inside, I don't feel like myself anymore. I feel like I've lost a part of my identity by losing weight and having to eschew my clothing for whatever is available and isn't falling off me. And while I'm pleased with the things I've done and don't plan to stop just so my clothes fit, I know that I have a long row to hoe. I need to find some books about altering your own clothing.

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