Saturday, April 13, 2019

Looking at Myself

Hello everyone! Have you ever had something on your mind that you weren't sure if you should write about it, but due to a series of events, you feel as if it has to be placed out there?

This is one of those writing points.

Maybe some of you can identify. Perhaps most cannot. However, I think I will feel better if I can write through it, at least to sort through my feelings. At best, to help and educate others.

Let's get to it.


I was at work, completing my time sheet. While doing that, I peeked to see how much carry over vacation time I had left. You see, where I'm employed, you are permitted to carry over one year of vacation time. If it gets to the end of the year and you haven't used it, you lose it. Many years ago, I was told that one could cash it out, but too many employees were taking advantage, so that got shut down.

To my surprise and dismay, I still had 15 days left. Dismay, because I thought I had used more. Surprise, for the same reason. 

After finally plotting out four days to use for next month, I began putting together a loose outline of what I wanted to do while away. Did I want to take a day to explore or socialize? Did I want to use all days to just connect with nature, refuel, and be creative? Did I just want to do both, plus wing it?

When I got home, I looked through my closet, contemplating possible wardrobe combinations. This may seem strange or extreme to some, but this dates back to when I was growing up. My grandma always encouraged me to pick out what I wanted to wear in advance, so I could use my time better for other activities. It's a habit that got lost for a while but returned this past year. 


One of the dresses I had in mind was one I wore late last year. It's a yellow striped A-line dress: very comfortable, very summer type feel. I tried it on, and needless to say, it looked like the dress had swallowed me. It was too loose everywhere. The unfortunate thing is that this type of dress is nearly impossible to take in.

Most of the summer dresses are in the same size group as the yellow one. It would be a safe thing to conclude that I would face this with all of the dresses.

Bitmoji Image

Yes, a viable excuse for a shopping spree. That would be missing the point ... actually, many points.

Point #1: Due to the drop in weight, I'm having to replenish my wardrobe quicker than expected. I am the type of woman who doesn't do a lot of shopping for clothes, yet I've done more clothes shopping for this purpose in the past year than I have in the past five years.

Point #2: They don't make clothes like they used to. Some of these items aren't as easy as taking in the waist. What does one do when it's too loose in the chest as well? It's more aggravation to amend than to just get something new.

Point #3: I have to add even more stuff to the discard pile. The clothes that I've worn frequently I tend to donate, but there are some clothes I didn't even get a chance to wear (I know because I keep the tags on the clothes until I wear them) or that I wore so infrequently that they look practically new. It would be foolish of me not to try to recoup those monies, wouldn't it?

***

I am going to summarize a few items leading up to the crux of everything.

A. In October 2017, I got the flu shot. One thinks since you're vaccinated, you won't be at risk for getting the flu.

B. In mid-January 2018, I got very sick. Turns out I got the flu, along with other complications. Reason being? I wasn't protected from this strain of flu. Just my luck.

C. I noticed that I had lost some weight but I could mostly tell from my face. However, many tend to gain weight back once sickness is over but I didn't think much of it. I believe it was anywhere from 10-15 pounds.

D. My appetite didn't return to normal. Neither did the weight. There was a bunch of saggy skin on my legs and arms that bothered me. I thought by getting them toned, the sag would go away. Hence, how I made my way back to the gym.

Saggy skin? Imagine that! Not my wanting to lose additional weight, but the sight of sagging. Was it a vanity thing? Perhaps. I just know that it made me uncomfortable.

**

Moving on.

Since going back to the gym, there are a lot of positive results. I feel stronger and have more energy than in the past. I have gained endurance, and an extra 1/2 inch in height. No kidding! I'm 5'6" on the nose now. My weight loss is still on the decline, and I've even gotten to the point where I'm taking less medication for my diabetes. 

There are a few items which I struggle with which has lead to this blog subject. Yes, it appears that I've taken a detour and some side roads, but I wanted to lay out the scene.

In the fall of 2015, I made the decision to accept myself at the size I was. I was on the metformin at the time, which many tout aids diabetics in losing weight. Unfortunately, it had done little to nothing for me. I was still stuck at one weight for many months. There was clothing I held on to in the hopes that I would get back in them, but with my body acceptance, I let that go and finally had the strength to get rid of that clothing.

I started shopping for the body I had. Accentuating what some deemed the positives, covering the negatives. I accepted the robustness of my tummy, the added thickness to my thighs, even the extra fullness to my face. 





Now, even a year away from the illness that caused the changes, I look at myself and don't know who the woman is. 

I know people mean well when they say, "You've lost so much weight. It looks good on you." Yet, it also implies that I didn't look so good when I was heavier. It's sort of a backhanded compliment, whether people realize it or not.

In addition, people say things like:

"You no longer need an excuse to shop. That's a great thing."

"You won't have to spend as much on bras."

"You sure are gaining muscle. Are you trying to be a man?"

"You're all skinny now. Guess you wouldn't want to be seen with the likes of me."

"Now that you're smaller, you're going to try to advise everyone else on their weight."

"You should put up before and after shots, so people can see the difference."

There's many more but I'm going to touch on these.

"You no longer need an excuse to shop. That's a great thing."

It's not a great thing when you have shopped for new things just four months prior. Plus, I see shopping for clothes on an "as needed" basis. It takes more than the lure of a sale to bring me out. Also, if I know what size I wear in a certain brand, if they have that same item for cheaper on line, then I tend to order it on line and have the item shipped to the house. I am not a fan of crowds. It gets my empath energy annoyed being around too many stressed out and high strung people. In a store, I tend to take my time ... picking up a bunch of items that seem appealing, trying each of them on, reminding myself of my budget, and putting back stuff that doesn't fit with said budget. I can easily start off bringing in fifteen items, but only end up purchasing three, two, one, or none. I'm very money conscious, like that.

True, clothes is considered a "need", but if I have to choose between food and clothes, clothing is not going to win the battle. Sorry!

For those of you who believe it is great, I can set up a clothing fund and you can donate to it via cash app. #justsaying

"You won't have to spend as much on bras."

You would think so, considering I've dropped from a 44L (at my heaviest) to a 34I. Unfortunately, a 34I is as strange as a 44L. I haven't been able to find a 34I that doesn't cost over $80.00. Therefore, I have to bank on the bra sister sizes (36H, 38G) to fill in the gaps, which are easier to find, but still carry quite a price tag. With certain brands, like Cacique, I've been able to get away with a 38DDD, but that is just with them. 

For people who believe that I no longer have to worry about back pain, you'd be mistaken. The weight loss caused all the chest volume I used to have to decline, which has given me additional skin sagging that adds to my back pain. A lift and possible reduction is in my future, but my new primary physician says I have to address my excretion irregularities (re: constant backing up of doing bathroom function #2) and the cough that hasn't gone away since March of last year first.

"You sure are gaining muscle. Are you trying to be a man?"

I was drawn to strength training because of how it helps to tone in correlation with cardio. Besides, I've always had broad shoulders anyway. People behave as if I'm trying to be a bodybuilder or something ... lol.

Bitmoji Image

"You're all skinny now. Guess you wouldn't want to be seen with the likes of me."

If you really think it, that's your issue. I haven't acted any differently in how I've treated people since the weight loss. Where did this idea that treatment and preference of who to hang around is synonymous with the size of one's body? To me, it's ridiculous. If I'm acting different towards you, it's because you've done something.

Even if I was to put off this front like I'm ashamed to be seen with you, that would be hypocritical on my end because I've been in situations where I've been the "fat girl out", if you will. So ... miss me with that (well you get the picture).

"Now that you're smaller, you're going to try to advise everyone else on their weight."

My belief is that each person has his or her own journey. I don't have a degree in fitness. I'm not a doctor. I'm not a nutritionist. What makes me qualified to school anyone else on what they should be doing?

It's different if one asks what I'm doing and what do I suggest. However, I'm not out there volunteering information. I find that irksome. What works for me may not work for you, and what works for you may not work for me.

The only competition I am in is with myself and my own goals. I don't give a rat's ass what you're doing. What is true for me is that proper portioning, knowing when and what to eat, drinking water, and exercising is a good formula thus far. I haven't added anything extra to help me along the way. I may research it, if I get too stuck ... which I deem plateauing ... but I haven't had to add weight loss drugs. If someone else does it, cool, as long as it doesn't cause side effects that can make one sick and possibly kill. That I'm definitely not an advocate for. One gets healthy to live a long time, not cut it short.

"You should put up before and after shots, so people can see the difference."

I have not done that. Here's why.

The weight loss journey is not a straight line, as everyone presents it to be. If anything, it's similar to ocean waves. There are moments when you lose, moments when you're steady, and moments when you gain, even when you are doing all the right things. Sometimes, the gain can come from something as simple as failure to have a bowel movements. Depending on how backed up one is marks a 1-5 pound ratio. If one is on her period, then there's bloating and water weight to factor in. It could be a side effect of medication one's battling against. There are different reasons for weight to tick upward, not because one is eating more or eating the wrong thing.

Once the world sees your path, it puts an added bit of pressure to sustain and do even more. Not that there's anything wrong with it. You have to decide for you whether it's a positive motivator or a negative one.

I've run across many people, both men and women, who would post their progress every month, every week, even every day. When they don't post on the regular, it makes people wonder what happened. Are they honest enough with themselves when they backslide? Do they show the world? Or do they only show when things have gone well? Not too many people want to fess that they've gained back weight, especially if the gained weight becomes a permanent fixture and they can't get back on track. There is a bit of failure and shame.

In my opinion, it's hard enough tracking calories, counting reps, drinking the right amount of water, etc., without having to entertain anxiety and other people's judgment on what you're doing for your benefit. I know everyone in my Kool-aid does not motivate me. I motivate myself quite well. I read books, and I choose which people I share my weight and health struggles with.

There's too much emphasis on "weight" anyway. The main goal should be on health. Not just physical health, but emotional, mental, and spiritual health. Period. End of story. There are bodybuilders classified as obese due to that "outdated and should be retired" BMI scale. 

I'm not obsessed over the scale number. I consider other factors:

How is my energy level?

What is my waist size? (The waist doesn't lie.)

How's my body feeling?

What's my overall mood?

So ... how am I feeling about me?


1. The chubby cheeks I used to fuss about I miss. At least I won't have to worry about them getting pinched now.

2. In contrast, I like how defined my chin is.

3. I've never paid much mind to my ears, just appreciated putting earrings in them. Yet, they are pretty darn cute! 

4. My nose and eyes seem bigger. Maybe, not really because the chubby cheeks went away.

5. The jury is still out whether being lighter and looking younger are related to each other. Some people who've lost a lot of weight look older. I can't gauge whether that applies to me. I already look young for my age. How much younger can I go?

I have to repeat the same process of 2015, embracing this new face and body ... to see beauty in it all. I didn't think it would be harder but it is. 

Takeaways

Do not assume that being at a lighter weight means that there are no issues. There are issues, just different ones.

Refrain from making statements to insinuate how one's weight was before made that person uglier or not as relevant. If you don't know what to say, don't say anything.

Quit equating building muscle and becoming more toned with wanting to change one's gender or how she identifies.

Just like it's wrong to "fat shame", do not "healthy shame" either. If you don't want to work out or eat healthier, that's fine but don't talk trash about someone who's doing so. Also, if you know that a person is no longer eating something in order to stay on track with his journey, don't go out of your way to make something you know he can't eat.

Just because the body's smaller doesn't mean the mind or eyes have caught up. My mind still sees the 2015-2017 me, which is why this me still looks brand new.

Catch everyone later.

Peace.