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About this blog

Very little information. Very many thoughts. I'm a PhD candidate, lapsed powerlifter, and gastric sleeve patient. Among other things. 

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nimiety

I didn't lose weight in August.

I did a lot of other things, some of them productive and some of them pleasurable—and the month was a bit of a whirlwind—and I didn't lose weight. Right now, I'm sitting pretty much the exact amount of water I'm carrying because I'm carbed up (i.e. I've been eating enough carbs to keep my glycogen stores filled & thus retaining enough water to keep that glycogen soluble, which for me is about 5-6 pounds and a look of puffiness—higher scale weight, but stable mass) above where I was at the beginning of the month.

Now, I don't necessarily want to freak out about that. I feel pretty good about my body at this size, and the stuff that bugs me is post-weight-loss stuff, mostly—the skin stuff has gotten pretty real for me. My arms, my thighs, my stomach, my breasts—that's the stuff I struggle with. 

I think physically I might be a little smaller than I was, but nothing major. The XLs I bought from the Gap were too big and the larges are right on point; I tried on clothes at J Crew and the 14s were roomy. I bought a one-size skirt from a boutique on West Broadway yesterday, the kind of store that doesn't even make an XL, and their stretchier larges fit just fine. I thought about a drapey blazer, but it just didn't feel like me—it's an adjustment, not just buying the thing that fits. 

Anyway, it's time to decide what my approach is going to be for the rest of the year. My major priorities are twofold, and the first one is significantly more important than the second one:

1) I don't want to be a lifelong dieter—that was the whole point of surgery. I chose the VSG because it's the surgical option that's most like punching the reset button on your metabolism. Ghrelin production is a major part of the regulation of appetite, and removing the fundus of the stomach, where ghrelin is produced (and which is metabolically and endocrinologically central in other ways as well), suspends the metabolic freakout and defense reactions that would normally attend extremely low calorie intakes like those that happen after surgery. As metabolic function restabilizes, the body has the chance to reset a stable setpoint, is the hope. I want a stable setpoint. I want a weight that works for me that my body will defend as metabolic regulation reestablishes itself. I also want that weight to be sustainable for me without extraordinary measures. I do not want to be one of those people who's counting every calorie and striving for extremely low caloric intake ten years after surgery. I want to be able to settle into routines that maintain a stable weight without monitoring, or counting, or the more punitive kinds of self-denial. I want my eating life to be flexible, and pleasurable, and also sustainable and healthy. I do not want to be on a diet for the rest of my life. That does NOT mean that I won't need to keep an eye on things and check in, and keep best practices in mind. I committed to doing that when I signed on for surgery. But it DOES mean that if I can be 180 pounds and eat in a way that doesn't stress me out or 150 pounds only if I eat in a way that does, and sustain that way forever, I will choose the higher weight. Stability and sanity are, in combination, priority 1 for me.

2) That said, I have some vanity and lifestyle preferences. I would like to always be able to find my size in a straight-size store. I would like a little room for bounceback, should any occur. I don't have it right now. I'd like to have a low enough body fat percentage that plastics, if and when I go for them, can do as much for me as possible. I'd also like my cheeks to be a little less puffy, my cheekbones and jaw a little more defined. I've also thought about my powerlifting future. To be competitive, one wants to be at the top of a capped weight class, and that means either staying right where I am, or losing some more weight. The next class down caps at 158.5, so a walking-around weight of 155-160 would be a good place to land for that.

If the "window of opportunity" for weight loss after surgery—which is to say, the amount of time it takes your metabolic function to reestablish itself and a new defensible baseline of energy balance—is about 12-18 months, I've got about five months left. Putting in some effort in those five months to see if I can maximize the benefits of surgery would save me effort down the line, which is also a way I made the decision to have surgery. I decided that I was willing to devote some seriously intensive effort so as to reduce long-term effort. We're now in a place of slightly diminishing returns—that is, the difference between weighing 160 and 180 is a lot less significant than the difference between weighing 332 and 180, or even 200 and 180, frankly. So it's harder to get the energy up every day, especially when my life has changed and is changing in all these ways that make me want to run around and be a normal person and drink drinks and do whatever.

That said, the window is closing. And right now I'm feeling like it's worth a try to maximize that window. There are also other good circumstances for another push: the summer is ending, which means less orgiastic socializing, and the semester is starting, which means more routine. Plus, with the presence of a new person in my life, I foresee the necessity of fewer first-date drinks in my life! Not none, by the way—it's not exclusive, and it's also got some geographic distance—but definitely fewer. I'm looking forward to settling into something more routine for a few months. And so putting in some effort to see if I could lose another 20-25 pounds before the end of the calendar year seems worth it. 

I'm going to try not to belabor myself with this. I'm going to remember priority 1. But I'm also okay with making some changes that would make the best use of my tools right now—cutting out Diet Coke again and making sure I'm pushing water, reintroducing protein shakes, skipping alcohol, and tightening up the ship a bit on food choices, especially carbs, all seem like sane principles for the next four months. Getting back on the scale daily seems to be working for me. I may go back to tracking in MFP. 

I think there's some emotional ambivalence about being smaller than I am now, too, and that seems like an important thing to do some thinking around, but I can do that thinking while also putting in the pragmatic work. And the window is closing, so if I wait to decide, it may be too late to get the greatest possible benefit. So September-December are going to be a time of buckling back down after a loose, louche summer—not straightjacketing myself, just seeing what some reasonable effort can produce.

So I think that's the plan. 

nimiety

One Year.

I had high hopes of posting on the day, but I was running off to Philadelphia and then the woods to camp for my sister's 30th, and had some personal distractions besides. More on that later.

I had surgery on July 28th, 2016. I weighed 332 pounds. Today is August 8th, 2017, and when I belatedly replaced the batteries in my scale, I weighed 180.4 pounds. 

It's hard to know what to say about that. 

I've lost 151.6 pounds. I'm under my original tentative goal weight and basically at my second tentative goal weight. My BMI is 31—still obese, but barely. On July 28, 2016, my BMI was 57. On Sunday, at a party, someone without much tact said to me, "You've lost like half your bodyweight!" and she not all that far off. 

What do you say about that? (I said, "It's been a wild year." This has become my go-to stock response. I like it because it shifts the focus of conversation off of my size and onto my experience. Most people do not care to take up that conversation, I notice.)

I'm living my life. My life is different. And it's not. And it's different mostly in ways that have nothing to do with the weight I've lost, and it's different in ways that are intimately related to the weight I've lost. And I am still here, still the same person I've always been but also deciding who it is, that person, the person I've always been, the person I sometimes don't recognize in the mirror. I literally talked to myself in a mirror on Sunday, at that party, after that conversation. "Who are you, stranger?" I said, staring myself in the face. I was fairly drunk on two glasses of wine at the time, in my defense, but there was a strange kind of identification/disidentification with that image. She's me. She's a stranger. She doesn't look all that different, but I don't all the way recognize her.

It's confusing.

One year ago, literally speaking, like August 8th, 2016, I was still recovering in my parents' apartment, just across town from the hospital. I was staring at the walls. I was experiencing postsurgical depression but didn't really know it (please be aware, any newbies who happen to be reading, that it's very common among bariatric patients!). I was following the rules to the letter. My whole world was that tiny apartment and the postsurgical packets and protein and water.

And now my world feels strange and wild and wonderful, open and full. I am struggling with the ways in which that does and doesn't feel related to my size. It has really been a wild year.

Last July 28th, I hadn't slept and I hadn't eaten for two days and I took a wee-hours taxi from deep Brooklyn to the hospital and arrived half an hour before it opened. I remember sitting on the retaining wall with my bag and my fear. 

This July 28th, I had the same bag with me, but was heading off to camp for my sister's birthday, and the prospect of a bus trip was different, and the prospect of a weekend party with strangers was different too. I am strange to myself and compelling to other people in ways that I was not before, and some part of it is the whirlwind, the intense energy I'm throwing off right now as my life alters and rearranges, and some part of it is the way the world sees (and doesn't see) fat people. I walk through the world and I can be anonymous in new ways and individuated in new ways. It is different to be in the world. 

My collarbones jut. My arms are saggy lump-bags that hang and gather and pucker (they were my least favorite feature at 332 pounds, and they are my least favorite feature at 180.4 pounds). My waist caves in like an inlet between my ribcage and my hips. I have been crossing my legs every now and again. 

I can't tell if I am still a fat person or not. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I have started to think about the idea of passing. I have felt like I pass for not-fat. I have been afraid of invoking that stigma. I know that I live in a body that is non-normative. I can't tell if I want to alter that or not. Plastic surgery would alter and diminish, but not erase, that non-normativity. I will always have it in some degree. And I will always have the mind that has resulted from that having.

A few weeks ago I heard that my ex-boyfriend was seeing someone new and it hurt. I miss him, even though I don't want to be back in that relationship. And a few weeks later, I'm also seeing someone new, and it's thrilling. That's the other reason I missed the one-year mark, honestly—romance haze. What I think is interesting about this relationship is that it's with a person who represents both the expansion of my world—O brave new world, I keep saying to myself, that has such people in it—and also an opportunity for me to claim kinds of non-normativity both consistent (fatness) and new (queerness of a couple of kinds). Bodies feel strange and new to me—the ideas and experiences and histories that live in them. There are ways in which this, more than any of my previous experiences, has made me able to really directly experience the beauty of a queered or grotesque body. I look at myself naked in the mirror and I sort of love what I see, sometimes as much for its strangeness as despite it, without having to talk myself into loving it. And also I wonder how much of that is enabled by my collarbones and cheekbones and waist. 

I don't have to know now, and I don't. It's only a year. It's not even over. My weight is still drifting downwards. I am settling towards some equilibrium of behavior and habit, but haven't gotten to it yet. I'd still like to be a little smaller, so I am still paying attention, but I am letting things loosen up, too. Some days I feel good about that, others okay, others concerned. 

I have not drawn very many firm conclusions, is what I'm saying. But here we are. It is a year later. My understanding is a work in progress, as indeed am I.

 

nimiety

Where "it" is both this bloglet and its author.

Things are a little bit bananas over here. It is hard to figure out where to start.

My relationship is over. We met seven years ago tomorrow, on the Brooklyn rooftop where last night I drank wine and ate scallops and corn and heirloom tomatoes with my friends, and now it is over. It feels like my life is crumbling around my ears. I feel at sea in so many ways. I do not love my ex-boyfriend less than I did. I will miss him terribly, and we are going to try to stay in each other's lives. But our partnership is over, and I am going to have to grieve it. My previous serious breakup did not make me feel all these horrible things, so I am in uncharted territory. 

I am also in uncharted body territory. I'm under 195, and I went to a wedding a couple weekends ago wearing a size 14 dress from J. Crew. Today I strolled out of the house in size 14 Gap skinny jeans—which I believe is the first time I've worn pants not to the gym in oh, round about eleven or twelve years. My experience of the world is changing. 

My behavioral baseline is changing too, and that's something I'm thinking about—how much I need to work to keep myself in "active loss" mode, and how much I can let myself start moving towards a behavioral mode that will let the chips fall where they may, weight-wise. I'd definitely like to lose another 20-30 pounds. 

And the loose skin has started to drive me nuts. I signed up for RealSelf and started reading plastic surgery reviews.

And honestly, I want to put all those things out there and up here, but that's just about as much depth as I can handle tonight. I hope everyone is doing well. I'll be back sooner rather than later.

nimiety

Countdown

So, I've looked up and found myself in the countdown-to-200 portion of things. I weighed 203 this morning. 

A ton of stuff is happening in my life right now, much of it stuff I'm not ready to talk about here yet, but even through all that stuff, which has me spread a little thin and a lot distracted, that number's got me focusing on it. It sticks in the head. It's sort of some childhood dividing line, maybe. It's a myth. It's an outdated idea. I blew through it circa age 14 and then I learned how fungible were the numbers you said you'd never cross. How little that counts. 

I'm still doing this thing right now where I'm hovering between plus sizes and straight sizes, dancing around on a line that's hard to see and understand that has so much also to do with stigma, with social categories, with visibility, with femininity. When I walk around in the world I don't know what size I am. I feel simultaneously like I have so far to go and like I want to stop right now. 

But there it is: 200. Below it, the girl you were supposed to be. Above it, the woman you became. (Brigid Berlin: "My mother wanted me to be a slim, respectable socialite. Instead, I became an overweight troublemaker.")

My therapist pointed out to me yesterday that I love the woman I became more than the girl I was supposed to be, that even as I find myself with the greatest access I've ever had to the version of "slim, respectable socialite" with which I grew up, the quasi-creative white-collar job and the husband with the same kind of job and the dinner parties and the chitchat and maybe the kids you'll probably send to private school even though you have political qualms about it but honestly they have to get into college, I am also leaning the hardest into my own desire to be a spinster, a free spirit, a revolutionary, an art monster, a weirdo. She's right, and I appreciate having that pointed out to me. I was always so afraid of not being able to make my own decisions. When WLS was first being authorized for teenagers, in the late '90s, which is when I was one, the New Yorker did a piece on it and I nabbed the issue of the magazine so that my father couldn't read it. I thought if he read about it, I'd end up on the table whether I wanted to or not. (I had no idea whether I wanted to or not.) I have, historically, not really understood my ability to make my own decisions. There are a lot of reasons for this vacuum, in my life, where agency ought to have been palpable. But none of them are really the point.

The point is that I feel it now. When I walk into the room full of people whose bodies and social selves intimidate and entice me in equal measure, even when I feel like it's not my body preventing me from being one of them, I'm still not one of them. Not in the digital media room. Not in the art room. Not in the sense of absorption that I fear. Not in the sense of being claimed, being stuck, being colonized, being coopted. Something stubborn and tenacious in me says no, rolls its eyes at the ill-informed views on Syria no matter how glamorous their speaker. 

Which means that over 200 or under it, I am still running this show. The world won't absorb me unless I choose to be absorbed. 

I get to choose who to be. My way. 

Which means that being under 200 doesn't seem like such a big deal, honestly. I mean, today, anyway. I might still have a meltdown of some variety when I see a number that starts with a 1. No promises.

nimiety

I'm seeing strange new things when I look at my face in the mirror—fatness is no longer the first thing I see. My jaw is newly prominent, my neck asserting itself. I have high cheekbones; they catch the light.

People's attention registers me in a new way. It lingers longer; it checks in. 

I'm wearing a size 14 dress from ASOS Curve and it's gotten too big for me. It drapes over my hips, pools at my feet, makes me look a little boxy. Simultaneously, there are two pairs of size 14 jeans (one pair of skinny jeans from the Gap, one from Lucky Brand) that I can't even pull up all the way. 

I climb out onto my fire escape and I am not afraid that it will buckle under me. I have put a little outdoor rug on it, because I have been sitting out there in these first days of spring, watching the neighborhood's rhythms at intervals. I have put out a plant-pot full of soil and sprinkled wildflower seeds. I have imagined having phone conversations out there. Good ones. I was sitting out there the other day thinking about how hard it is to know what I want when it occurred to me that all I had ever wanted was to be thin. Not that I haven't been fighting the dominance of that ambition for fifteen years now (I have), but that nevertheless it had occupied space, that it had squashed some parts of the organic development of my own sense of where I was headed. The blight of that ambition; its radiating rot. 

I am making more social plans, including with people I would not have wanted to see at my biggest. 

I am less averse to making a trip downstairs at midnight with a bag each of trash and recycling, more likely to make a dedicated trip instead of waiting until the morning, and less winded by the return trip (fourth-floor walk-up).

nimiety

[This post was written several days ago. There's an update at the end. I'm still posting it as-is because I want to save the thinking-through.]

 

My life is really busy right now and that has stalled my weight loss. It's not "a stall." It's me prioritizing other things and not leaving enough room in my day or my brain to plan and take care of eating, water, logging, counting, etc. 

I know that this happens to a lot of people after WLS, and now I know that it is happening, has happened, will happen to me. I have this intense rush of social energy, a desire for input, experience, I'm rushing around, overstressed, overworked, overeverything. It hasn't left a lot of room for planning, weighing and measuring, logging. There was also my dad's birthday, Easter, Passover, just a little constellation of things that threw me. 

And also I think in some way this is a very comfortable place for me, this size right here. I'm a solid size 16. I don't yet feel sure that a straight-size store would clothe me. I do, however, feel like I've hit the point at which I'm no longer on the heavily stigmatized side of the kid of invisibilizing, dehumanizing fat stigma that I and many other fat people have experienced. I can take up space in a room now. I notice myself wanting, rather than shying away from, the conversational spotlight. This week I ran around like a crazy person, hopping from space to space to space, all the spaces my patchwork life spans. I don't feel out of place in my classroom and I don't feel out of place strolling through Park Slope with my friend and her little boy and I don't feel out of place taking two client meetings in a row on the Upper East Side and I don't feel out of place in a room full of avant-garde artists and I don't feel out of place in a room full of establishment artists and I don't feel out of place in a room full of digital media types. I can be in those places and feel like I get to be in them, enjoy being in them. I am really enjoying that. But I think I know that the attention would get more intense if I got a chunk smaller. Even a pretty little chunk. I think I know that I am hovering on the edge of something, some boundary. I think that scares me, that I am protecting myself from it. I seem, at the moment, to be clinging to my otherness in some capacity, like if I don't, they will consume me, assimilate me, leave me nothing of myself for my own. I am a person who worries about demands other people make because I worry about my ability to say no to them, and I worry about my own discomfort getting a lot of attention. I am a person who worries about the obliteration of interpellation. 

It's funny, because when I was first talking through WLS with my therapist, this is where I said I wanted to end up. I said something along the lines of "If I could pick a place to end up, and that place could be a nice solid 14/16, I would do it." I wanted to be assured that I could still be fat(ish) if I wanted to be, and I think I felt afraid of really truly giving up fatness as an identity position and as an aesthetic and political element. I've done so much thinking and working around it. And honestly, it makes me feel great to be fat and to still be comfortable in all these spaces. It reminds me of all the things that I can do that other people can't—it makes me feel a little superhuman. It makes me feel strange, and strong, and individual, and gifted, and dangerous, and glamorous, and very much myself. It makes me feel like I am inventing something, a new way of being. I like that feeling. So I do think I owe it to myself to take my potential discomfort being smaller seriously, and to affirm for myself that I don't have to be if I don't want to be. I don't have to be any smaller than this. I could be this size my entire life, and I could make of it a thing of great beauty and joy, a thing of newness and possibility and invention.

THAT SAID. There has been eating this past couple of weeks that makes me very uncomfortable, from an ED perspective. There has been a sense of disorder, of chaos, of being out of control. I have felt like I have not been able to set intentions or make dependable choices. And that, friends, is a situation that cannot stand. 

I am righting the ship. Not that the ship capsized—it's just some turbulence. I am seeing new lows on the scale as of today, even though I am pretty sure that I'm still holding water from being carbed up. (Side note: do people know about this? I only learned this in powerlifting—but carbohydrates refill your glycogen stores, which means your body holds water to render all that glycogen ready to use. When you're eating low-carb, your glycogen stores are low to empty, which means the second you refill them, back all that water will come too—so the weight you "gain" if you regularly eat very low-carb and you, say, eat a couple slices of pizza at a bar while knocking back whiskeys on the rocks NOT THAT I DID THAT oh wait yes I did includes that adjustment to water balance. This event frequently convinces people who regularly eat very low-carb diets, including keto, that carbs are the devil, which is not the case in my not-so-humble opinion.)

So I'm feeling grateful for my surgically-installed tool even as I know I need to devote some thought to the way it's interacting with my disordered reactions AND to pulling myself back towards a baseline that works for me. This might be the time to see that beloved ED nutritionist who does bariatrics too, now I come to think of it.

 

[Update: then I left this open for three days, during which time I did my end-of-month weigh-in, found myself less than two pounds above my goal for the month, and then today saw a weight below it. Gonna write about this too, but I didn't want to lose this bit of thinking, so I'm slapping it up even if belatedly.]

nimiety

I've had so many goals, even just this time around alone. I've made so many lists, over and over again. Even just this time around alone. (Yes, I know that saying "this time around" implies that it's just another ride on the weight-cycle merry-go-round. I don't exactly think that, but I don't exactly not think that, nahmean?) And I've had so many goals. I don't think I've ever known what was really reasonable to expect. I could intellectually process, sure, but I don't think I could really imagine being any of those outcomes personally. Even here, I was saying "I could live here" like fifty pounds ago. But I'm starting to approach a place that would have felt like a totally reasonable place to end up. I'm down just shy of 115 pounds from surgery just over eight months out. I weighed 217.8 this morning. That puts me 18 pounds from one thought about a goal and 37.8 pounds from another thought about a goal (the one listed here) and 52.8 pounds from yet another thought about a goal. 

I want to lose more than another 18 pounds. And given that I'm only 8 months out, and still posting double-digit monthly losses, I should be able to do that. I can feel pretty confident about predicting that, even though the idea of predicting anything about this situation also sort of feels like asking for trouble. But I want to lose more than another 18 pounds, and I think I can. Frankly, I think I can also lose more than another 37.8 pounds. I'm starting to suspect I'd like to—I'd like to fit into the size-14 Gap jeans that right now get up my thighs but not over my @*#; I'd like to see the cheekbones I've sometimes suspected were there emerge; I'd like to be able to pick any dress I like. I'd like to have a little room for bounceback, too. 

Looking at the patterns of people whose starting weights, basic situations, and results are pretty similar to mine, I think I can expect my losses to start to taper down to closer to 5 than 10 pounds a month reasonably soon, but not immediately. I've been solidly averaging 10-11 pounds a month (I only lost seven-point-something in February, but I'd lost almost 15 the month before) since the first wild postsurgical rush. I think over the next two to three months, 10 will get hard, if not impossible to hit (without making sacrifices I'm unwilling to make, anyway). Cautiously, I've set a goal of losing 10.8 pounds in April, which would bring me to 207—which would in turn put me in a good spot to try to get under 200 by the end of May. I'd love to hit 182 (150 lost) by my one-year-out mark (7/28), but it feels like a stretch. Then again, I've beaten a lot of my own predictions. We'll see.

One consideration is how long I want to stay in active loss mode. The vast majority of days, I weigh and measure and log; I push water; I log in here or Instagram to check in with this part of my life, to support a few other people and hopefully learn a thing and keep myself motivated. I've logged into MyFitnessPal every day since the first day I logged on after surgery—even if it's a day I've chosen not to log, I like to check in on how other people are doing, look over my data, even just count water. I shop and cook and plan my days around this. But I also know that I don't want to be a person whose eating/body/weight is one of her top three priorities forever, ideally. Too much other stuff to get to. Got a life to live over here. Then again, I also know that settling towards maintenance mode—defining it, figuring out how it works for me—is ALSO going to be a lot of work, and possibly/probably keep this issue in the top-three list for as much as a full couple-few years after active loss is over, and (especially because of my ED history) keep it in the top five or six indefinitely. If that's the case, well then, I might as well maintain the weight I actually want (within values of what's possible for me as a person and a body). 

Which brings us to the second difficulty, which is that I really don't know what that weight is yet. Some days the thought of being a size 8 seems appealing, sometimes I feel like I'd rather be a 12. Some days all I care about is how my face looks, and would happily make that decision (to the extent I get to make it) on that basis alone. And maybe that's fine. Maybe I just take it one day at a time and see how things settle. I'm curious and interested but not suuuuper invested in, like, a single-digit dress size. I'm interested in plastic surgery but not sure if I'll be able to afford it anytime soon. But also, it's nice to have numbers to look toward, even if they sort of don't mean much. 

In short, I don't really have a Goal Weight, and I'm okay with that, but I sure do have goals.

nimiety

When I started this entry, I was staring resentfully at about three-quarters of a cup of pork larb (a Vietnamese meat salad I've adapted for my nutritional needs and abilities in Vietnamese cuisine, which are fairly minimal). Here's what I wrote about it: It's good—I know it is; I've eaten several portions of it in the last couple of days. It's savory, and salty, and fresh, and bright—there's red cabbage in there for crunch, red onion for bite, fresh parsley and cilantro from the pot on the windowsill, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, coconut aminos (I finished a bottle of soy sauce and now I'm using up this substitute still lingering in my pantry from my paleo moment). And yet I'm grumpy at having to eat it. I've had a hard time getting enough of anything in the last week or so—enough food, enough water. I can't imagine why, but I'm finding it such a struggle right now. I haven't been logging this week on MyFitnessPal just because it's so clear to me that I'm way under the mark, but I also know that I'm letting myself make up some of the gap in ways that don't really help me out (i.e. don't involve protein), so I need to keep an eye on that this week.

It's still true that I'm feeling a lot of restriction right now. I'm not sure why—I'm under a good deal of stress in my personal life, but I've never been a person who lost her appetite when she was stressed out before. Usually quite the reverse. I'm also struggling with water still—not every day, but I'm coming in at 6 glasses as frequently as at 8 or above right now, and that's not where I want to be. I had a nasty bout of constipation—the only one I've had since surgery—and that might also have been a factor in appetite, I suppose, but it's over now. Anyway, I'm still keeping an eye on things. 

I've mentioned here that I have an eating-disorders history; I'm not sure I've mentioned how serious it was. Has been. I was in treatment during what would otherwise have been the first semester of my junior year of college—inpatient, then intensive outpatient. The kind of treatment that means you've stopped your life in order to address something that is derailing it. I don't have many friends from that troubled, tumultuous, confusing, overwhelming time in my life, but I've got a couple, one of whom is back in New York after a stint of living and working and studying abroad. She came over last Saturday and we talked food and relationships and feminism and recovery, and it was very, very good. I'd forgotten how funny she is—she has a tendency to embroider and riff, and each laugh emboldens her, egging her on to ever greater rhetorical heights. It was great fun. I actually had told her that I was thinking of surgery, but hadn't told her I'd pulled the trigger, so I had to tell her that, and then was really glad I did. She instinctively asked the right questions: how did you manage it with your parents? How are you staying sane having to think about food and your body that much? It was always funny to me in treatment, being the fat girl amongst all of these girls whose private racing minds were always circling thinness, but the fact was, I found fellowship there. Not with everyone—much like I haven't found fellowship with everyone in fat politics, or everyone in powerlifting, or everyone anywhere, I suppose—but still. There was fellowship there, understanding, of a type that people who haven't been plunged into the tumult of profound dysfunction can't really grasp. They don't see its logic. 

Anyway, I'm picking that lens back up. I'd let it drop over the last phase of my life—I think I thought that starting an Ivy League PhD meant that I had to be all better. I think I didn't know a way to be both kind of crazy and basically fine. The people who know me from this most recent phase of my life look at me and they don't see dysfunction. They don't see remedial. They don't see chaos, or insanity, or disorder. They think I'm fine. And that helped me see myself that way. But I also think that for a long time, I've been recovered enough—recovered enough to manage, but not to thrive. The post-surgical process is pushing me to take those hard steps, the next ones. I'm grateful. I'm trying to step up. I'm also overwhelmed, afraid, anxious. 

I feel, sometimes, like an overlap of one—like I'm the only person who has the particular blend of eating-disorders and fat-politics approaches I have. And maybe I really am. I can't decide if that's lonely or if it means I should be talking about it—thinking, writing, making. 

Anyway, this week was a long haul. But it was good. Painful, but good; hard, but good. Teaching is keeping me sane right now—it feels like the only break I get lately from the constant throb of feelings about my life and my body and the way they're all jumbled up together. Therapy is also keeping me sane right now, which is pretty much what it says on the tin.

Yesterday's weight was 219.6 and sub-200 is suddenly feeling real.

nimiety

This stair-step loss thing, man, it can do a number on your head. My pattern has stabilized pretty solidly—a few days of little losses, a few days to a week and a half of no movement (the length of this phase may have some relationship to my menstrual cycle but I haven't nailed it down yet), long enough to get irritated and frustrated but also comfortable enough that when the quick losses come for two or three days, I feel disoriented. 

But it's not just that. It's this range I'm in right now. Today I saw a 224.6 on the scale. The last five or six pounds my gut's been doing flip-flops every time my weight goes down, looking at these numbers that don't even feel like they could be mine. Whose numbers are these? What person is this scale weighing? In twenty-five pounds I'll be under 200—I remember the last time I crossed under 200 pounds. I was 13, I think. I weighed myself in my parents' '80s-tile bathroom, and the number was under 200, and I thought As God is my witness, I'll never weigh over 200 pounds again. (Buckle up, baby girl.) I feel like I'm flashing quickly back through time based on my body size, and right now I'm 14 or 15, on the way up through my most rapid weight gain, explosive and alarming to everyone but me, because I was lost in it. And before too long I'll be thirteen again, as-God-is-my-witnessing. Who was that girl? What kind of woman will she become? 

I look at myself in the mirror, I try on my measurement pants. I try to make sense of what I see. My bigness. My smallness. 

I had a professional headshot taken yesterday courtesy of my PhD department, which is redoing its website and wants us all to have good pictures on it—put my face on, and hauled out on commuter rail, and presented myself to be photographed, and tried to pretend I wasn't dying inside of discomfort every instant at being looked at that intensely, at what he must be thinking of the difficulty of doing this particular job. "Cross your legs? Tip your chin this way. No, this way. A little more. Chin up? I'm going to make you laugh, so hold the tilt." He tried a staircase first (for the flattering angle, I assume) and then a standing background shot, and then, finally, had me hop up on a windowsill in front of a mullioned window with the university crest. That's where he got the shots he liked. He showed me the one he liked best, and I put my eyes on it for the briefest conceivable second, nodded and smiled, and got the hell out of there. It was like an anxiety fugue state, and afterwards, waiting for the train home, when I tried to picture the image, I was sure it had showed me with no jawline, my eyes uneven, my teeth yellow, my cheeks swallowing my features, my neck nonexistent. I took a selfie and there I am, whatever I look like now, for this particular split second, my face quirky and imperfect but face-shaped—there's the jawline, with the little point to the chin—and dominated, now, by the intense blue of my eyes. Groomed brows. Familiar crooked smile. Small potato nose. I look at it and it looks back, reassuring and incomprehensible. 

(One foot in front of the other, one day at a time.)

nimiety

Run-Ins

I ran into my serious ex-boyfriend by chance in the subway today. He almost did a double take—and he last saw me only six weeks ago. It would take a stronger woman than I not to enjoy that. I enjoyed it. I mean, I haven't the faintest idea what it makes him think. But nevertheless. I enjoyed it. 

I have started to notice that people look at me more often. I'm not invisible anymore. I look up and people are looking at me, and I don't know how to interpret their looking. I locked eyes with a woman on University Place earlier today because I looked up and she was looking at me and I just didn't know what to do. I couldn't decide why she'd be looking at me. It made me feel a bit like I was wearing the wrong thing. It's easier with men, perhaps—I have a box in which to put the smile the guy who holds the door for me gives me. But it's a new kind of smile. Open, easy. I smiled back at him. 

nimiety

I got a haircut yesterday. God, did it make me feel better. I lost a fair amount of hair after surgery—the stylist pointed out where it's started to grow back in, but in the meantime, my ends were dry and frayed, the top was flat, the thinness was making me crazy...it was not a good scene. The second I walked into a sleek SoHo curl salon, I felt better—all those fluffy, bouncy, shiny curls! (It was also nice not to feel so out of place there—not to struggle with a robe or cringe through the cut where I had to look at myself in the mirror overflowing the chair, etc.) The cut was a good one, too—brings back my bounce and texture, frames my face nicely—and I walked out into the world again feeling much, much better about myself.

So I put up a selfie on Instagram, which is unusual for me to do (no, not on my WLS account—on my "real" one). And much like the only time since surgery that I've changed my Facebook photo, it got a lot of attention. A lot of likes. A lot of comments. And I've noticed that men have started clicking Like on my pictures again these days. 

That attention makes me feel really awkward. For the first flurry of Likes I feel "oh hey, my cute hair!" and then as they keep rolling in I go "oh, this isn't about my cute hair at all," and I deflate. I hate the thought that people might think that I'm specifically pointing out my own weight loss and asking for positive reinforcement about it. I hate the thought of people clicking Like on my face all "good for you!" Nope. No thanks. Do not want. The reactions make me feel retroactively angry, but also more importantly they make me feel bad in the moment—scrutinized, stripped of agency and personhood, reduced. What I want is to be left utterly alone; I want people to know that it's none of their business unless I choose to discuss it with them. But I know obviously that people react independently of what I want, and that any big change—especially a change from something socially unacceptable to something socially prized—makes it hard to avoid a big reaction. And one of the reasons I've posted a couple of pictures is specifically to ward off the shock reaction that might occur when I actually see those people in real life—at this point, even though I don't always see it, I think there's a big enough difference that that might happen (it's happened a few times now). They're innoculation so that you don't have to tell me all about it when you see me, and I just want to get it all over with as soon as possible. 

But it's going to get worse from here. What's happening now is that I've gone from invisible-fat to normal-fat, I think, but in the event I also go from there to not-fat, well. I'm going to have to buckle up for a wild ride. And that's what's coming up. The next few months would start to take me there if things keep going as they've been going, and it's hard for me to know how I'll react and how I'll cope. I have pretty strong faith that I can, in fact, cope—my shrink, boyfriend, and friends have really been wonderful about holding my ambivalence—but that doesn't mean I'm looking forward to having to. WLS patients talk about the letdown when people stop being like "OMG!" but I just can't wait for that moment. I hope that means I'll have an easier settling-in process, when this feels like an irritation being removed rather than a motivator evaporating. If it evaporated tomorrow, it wouldn't be too soon.

nimiety

It's Been a Day.

Oh, man, is my closet a bad scene right now. I got a few things on clearance at Asos and they came in the mail yesterday. Their sizes generally run fairly big, but it was hard to estimate, and I think one thing is going to have to go back. There's another I'd ideally have preferred a 16 in, but it wasn't available and I liked the skirt enough to try the 18, and that works fine. It's not form-fitting or anything, and it's a tiny touch too long, but it also doesn't emphasize the saggy-lower-belly situation, which is a mercy. Nothing that thrilled me, and I felt grumpy about that, because that's the whole problem with my closet right now. I open it, and there's nothing I'm really excited to put on, nothing that makes me feel polished or put-together or well-dressed. There's a Kiyonna maxi dress in my laundry bag that I'm excited to put on, but I think that might be the only thing in my whole closet right now, which is...a shitty ratio. I don't know, there are a few things in the laundry, I guess, so I should do the damn laundry already, but then there's the task of going through it when it gets back and facing each item of clothing that I like and felt good in and spent time finding and money buying and good nights in that's now too big. It's unexpectedly wrenching to watch my wardrobe bite the dust. I'm mad about it, and sad about it. And even the stuff that does fit doesn't fit well. Nothing fits well right now. Except that Kiyonna dress. Okay, laundry goes out tomorrow so I can have it back. (But it needs hemming.)

I just want clothes that fit me that make me look like I want to look; is that so much to ask? Yesterday I left the house in a too-springy pink dress that had been too small last summer and I put a cardigan over it and thought it would probably be fine because that's always been a strategy that's worked for me but both the cardigan and the dress were too big, drooping at the neckline and hanging too far away from my body, making me look sloppy and shapeless and also bigger. I was in a high dudgeon by the time I got home, hence the tear through the wardrobe so I don't have to stare my frustration in the face every morning. But that just means there's less in my drawers and closet. I can't productively try stuff on at straight-size stores yet, but I'm bumping up against the bottoms of plus ranges (which is in and of itself irritating because given my arms and also my sagging belly, the proportions of a plus garment really do work better for me). Old Navy is really the only option going for me to try on stuff that fits me, and every now and again I hit with something there (I had an incredible sweater dress from there for which I paid about $8 and which lasted me like the better part of a decade) but mostly it's enh. The quality's not great, and a lot of their stuff feels a little juvenile. I've filled carts and abandoned them from Gap, H&M, and Eloquii—internet shopping is extra tricky right now because of size guessing and predicting. Who knows what size I am at any given moment, or how long it will take me to become some other size? It's so frustrating. I'm so used to understanding my body, to knowing it minutely, to dressing it capably and strategically, and now I can't because it's changing, but still somehow despite the destabilizingness of the speed of that change it also feels frustratingly slow? Like, I look in the mirror and I still see pretty much what I've always seen, and it distresses me? Except my arms, which are worse than they have ever been, and that distresses me even more?

It's been a day.

I am comfort-talking myself, reminding myself to just keep putting in the days. I have been putting in the days. Aside from not logging last Saturday (when I ate and drank out all day, although quite moderately), the last two weeks have been solid and consistent. My numbers (calories and protein grams) are right where I want them, and I'm hitting my water and vitamins. I ran up the stairs of my fourth-floor walk-up after taking the trash down today, and I was excited to see how far I could get before getting winded and having to slow down (the third floor—I was slowing on the last half-flight). I'm stalled up a few pounds from the low I was seeing a few days ago, though, and because I weigh myself too frequently or because I'm impatient these stalls always feel aaaaagonizing. And how can I be up anyway, when I'm barely hitting a thousand calories on a high day? (Water balance. I know this. That doesn't make it any more fun.)

So I'm anxious and antsy and impatient and irritated and bummed out and grumpy and sad and confused and frustrated.

And yet.

At the same time, I'm taking care of myself. I reorganized and cleaned my entire kitchen over the course of this week, and it's already working better for me. It's a pleasure to be in there right now, and I've been finding excuses to wander in there and admire the relative order into which I've wrangled my tiny and low-storage kitchen, and that means that my fridge is in impeccable order and I have eaten really well lately. Pleasurably and productively. The big FreshDirect coupons have helped, but it's also just that I like cooking and I like organizing my own life. I don't do the thing that we are now calling "meal prep," because I like having feeding myself as a part of my day and hate microwaving things (and also don't own a microwave) but I do batch-cooking and I do strategize for the week. In my refrigerator right now, I have batches of salmon salad (ready to eat—it's poached salmon with cornichons and yogurt dressing), poached chicken (combine with whatever for an easy meal), delicious chicken broth, a slow-cooked Italian-American red sauce, and a basic yogurt dressing (0% Fage, dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, season with your preferred profile). All those things mean I'm never far from a satisfying home-cooked meal. I'm enjoying my time in the kitchen. When I was crossing the street this evening, headed for the deli for rubbing alcohol and toilet paper and thinking of all the fairly junky food I have bought at that deli over the years I've lived in my apartment and reminding myself no, not a Diet Coke, no, not a bag of sour cream and onion Utz chips, nope, sorry, I was thinking to myself, yes, I could eat basically like this for the rest of my life, why not? I mean, I hope I end up with a little more caloric leeway, but I'm doing fine here.

Did I mention it's been a day?

It's been a day.

But tomorrow will be another one.

nimiety

I crossed the six-month mark nearly two weeks ago, down 92 pounds—I've lost four more since then. I'm staring down the barrel of 100 lost. I know I'm smaller than I've ever been as an adult. My measurement jeans (Gap, size 20, 100% cotton) muffin-top me a little still but they button no problem. In fact, I've added a new pair of measurement pants—Gap, size 16, 1% stretch. Holding them up, they look impossibly tiny, and they're a solid ways from buttoning at all, but even the fact that I can pull them up my thighs seems remarkable to me. Clothes that have held me for years through all of the weight-cycling I've done have started to not fit. Yesterday I wore a beloved Kiyonna wrap dress (a true wrap—one of my favorite techniques for weathering size shift, because it lets you adjust as needed, and in fact I've made this one extra-adjustable by opening up the slit for the belt so that some of the actual dress can pull through it to tighten things up) and it's just a no go at this point. I weigh 236, and it's a plus 2x, and because it's beautifully tailored (which is exactly what makes it great), I've now got drooping shoulder seams and excess fabric hanging through the torso. I think yesterday was the last time for that dress. Which makes me sad. I love my wardrobe, and I am losing it.

The real truth is that despite having a big January (lost 14.4#), this stuff is not at the forefront of my mind right now. The beginning of the Trump administration feels, most days, like one that really threatens to undermine the foundational ideals and institutions of American democracy, to turn us into Russia or Turkey or one of the other democracies-in-name-only, and that feels like a low-grade (or not-so-low-grade, depending!) crisis every day. And my father had a bad fall, resulting in one very, very bad night in the emergency room ("emergency neurosurgery team" is never a phrase you want to hear, but thankfully, he did not actually need emergency brain surgery) and there has been a lot of family medical triage in its wake. I'm still putting one foot in front of the other, but I'm not jazzed up about it as I've been. Been logging my food every day, though, and posting and reading on Instagram, and those things help keep me engaged with the needs of postsurgical life.

I'm also starting to notice the "honeymoon period" waning—it's hard to tell what's honeymoon period and what's just new normal until things start to shift, and things have started to shift. It's not gone or anything, but I've had a few moments of anxiety about feeling like I didn't have the same kind of external autopilot that I've had these last six months—there's fear that comes up when I feel that absence, which is related to my self-doubt and probably also my control-freakery. I definitely have a bigger sleeve than some (my surgeon performs a lot of two-part DS procedures, and besides which is the chief of a research unit that has found no meaningful advantage to a smaller sleeve in their outcomes), and in general I feel good about that, but some part of me also goes "what if?" I know that the further out I get, the more I'll need to focus on mental/behavioral stuff to make sure that I'm not lapsing into counterproductive old patterns. Luckily, I have very good professional support around that sort of thing, and I've already put it on the agenda with my therapist. I also saw a wonderful eating-disorders nutritionist—truly the best I've ever found—for many years, and while she no longer officially sees individual patients, I emailed her before surgery to ask if she could see me once or twice at some point and she said she would. She has a ton of experience with bariatrics, and I think a tune-up with her would go a long way as I start to settle into the long haul. I want to make the best use of those sessions, though, so I'm holding off a couple months yet.

People have started to comment. Which is hard for me. I'm not one of the people who likes that, who thrives on it, who wants commentary. I want people not to treat me differently, not to comment on my body, and to generally leave me the hell alone about this. My ex-boyfriend waited until the very end of a nice, chatty catch-up to tell me that I look great, but I could see the way he was looking at me all night, could see it lurking there. One of my favorite cousins lost his ever-loving mind at a family event a couple weeks ago, and spent much of the night returning to the theme of how I've never looked better. It made me uncomfortable, and I did not really know how to ask him to slow his roll other than being vague and dismissive. I feel like people comment when you cross a categorical boundary, and I am crossing one now, from invisible-fat to normal-fat. 

Oh, and it's petty and I'm just sort of randomly yapping now, but: my arms drive me bananas. They're significantly bigger than my torso, so there's stuff I can't wear even though it would fit me better in the body. There's a Lucky Brand dress I'm itching to get into—it's a 2x, but it still. won't. go. over. my. arms. I'm a broke-@*# graduate student, but I swear to all that's holy, I will be having brachioplasty at the end of this. 

This is a random run-down, but I do actually want to post a little more often. For now, though: have to go deal with a medical thing with/for my dad. In a blizzard. The world does not stop when we have surgery, that's for damn sure.

nimiety

This weekend it became clear to me that I've hit a point that a lot of people seem to hit in their post-WLS experiences: I'm more confident, more outgoing, more up for adventures and parties and socializing of all kinds. That feels awesome, and I love it, and also it means that I'm more often eating chaotically, drinking a bunch, skipping water, and not logging my food. Which is...not great. This weekend I was on the go from Friday afternoon to Sunday evening—networking with colleagues, catching up with friends, seeing family, going dancing...and also drinking, snacking, and not planning my food or really keeping particularly careful track of it. If this is going to continue to be a trend, and it might, the current way I'm dealing with it is not going to be adequate. 

So how do I adapt?

One thing that makes things tricky is that my surgery is not common knowledge, and even with the people who know, I seem to have a tendency to want to downplay it, like I'm afraid that emphasizing it will make me feel like I don't belong. So I'm wondering if maybe heads-upping trusted folks beforehand might be one way of making this a little easier. Yes, that's hard for me to do, but my friends have been coming through for me like champions, and my fears about what they'll think of me have been consistently unfounded—so hard doesn't mean impossible.

One thing I did RIGHT this weekend was that when I got back to Brooklyn, my boyfriend came over and was like "want to order takeout?" And I was like, "nope. I want to eat something that I can log accurately, that isn't packed with sodium, and that will make me feel stable before the week begins." Which is not EXACTLY what I said, because I hate being That Girl whose sense of safety in the world is dependent on eating within particular parameters, but, it is in fact exactly what I did. So that was a good thing. I need to honor my own impulse towards a sense of order as opposed to overriding them. And I might need to talk to him about offering me wine (and takeout!). 

I think the major obstacle here is self-consciousness. I don't like rocking the boat, or drawing attention to myself, ESPECIALLY when that's about what I am or am not eating. But I seem to be overestimating the degree to which I can make good choices in chaotic environments right now. It's not a problem YET, but I can see it becoming one down the line, and I want to nip it in the bud.

I'm brainstorming, but not coming up with anything brilliant right now. I'd really be glad if you could share your experience with this, and how you addressed it! The thinking stuff especially—like, I know that I can pack string cheese, but that doesn't seem to get me over the hump of the awkwardness of pulling string cheese out of my bag when everyone else is being a normal, flexible, hedonistic human being. For me, as always, it's more about the mental than the pragmatic. How did you reorient your thinking around this stuff?

nimiety

The last time I was under 250 I was 22 years old and I'd just had emergency surgery—a cholecystectomy. I didn't eat anything except some saltines and apple juice that came right back up for the better part of a week before I finally went to the emergency room. I was in unbelievable pain. And then when I came out, my eating-disorders nutritionist told me to expect to gain weight back—there'd been muscle wasting, and dehydration, and it was an all-around bad scene. I'd just had a pair of knee boots perfectly fitted to my calves a couple of weeks before; when I came out I could put two of my chubby little fingers sideways between my leg and the leather. But I was 22, and at the lowest weight of my adult life, having already recently lost something like 60 pounds pretty damn quickly, and I thought, the hell with that. I'm going to keep it here and keep going down. And when I did, inevitably, gain recovery weight back, I freaked out, and weathered it badly, and before I knew it, was on my way all the way up again. But I remember the feeling of seeing it.

I'm 33 now. This morning I weighed 250.4. Then I waited until I had to pee again. Weighed again. 249.8. I've already entered a weight for the day, so I can't really count this one, somehow (I'm massively superstitious about weigh-in rituals!), but it's still a thing to see. I think it won't really, really hit me until I'm safely under 250—although maybe I'm just putting off the "real thing" because it's actually totally arbitrary but I'm waiting for it to have some climactic significance.

I worry that I expect some kind of massive categorical shift immediately upon getting under 250, and that I'll be disappointed when it doesn't appear. I'm in this place lately where some days I'm feeling myself and other days it's like nothing's different, like 80 pounds haven't changed a thing. I've been spending time with some pictures, but that only goes so far, I find. 

I like having this right at the new year. There's a feeling of taking on something new, entering uncharted territory. In 2016 I covered the ground I have covered before. In 2017, it's time to break new ground.

nimiety

Seeing It

I think I'm starting to see it. Four and a half months out, closing in on 80 pounds down, and I think I'm starting to see it. I've been able to feel it for a long time—I was at a weight that was legitimately really physically uncomfortable for me, and 77 pounds lower, I've got my zip back, which is a great relief. But I haven't seen it yet. Not really. Part of that, probably, is that in all the weight-cycling I've done, right about here, or perhaps just a touch higher—260-275—is what I think of as "my" size. So when I see myself in the mirror, I see "normal," or basically normal, as opposed to "seventy-five-plus pounds smaller than I was four and a half months ago." I do know intellectually that I take up less space, but I tend to focus not on overall size, but on specific features I don't like—puffy cheeks, double chin, saggy arms, lumpy back, etc. But I'm having, now, the first moments of estrangement, of seeing something look a little different than I expect it to—a glimpse of my hand that makes me go "huh," or a quick flash of my reflection in the subway window. 

I think I'm a little physically larger than I was last time I was at this weight—then, I was lifting really regularly, which may have had something to do with being a bit tighter. But still, I'm looking at the small end of my wardrobe, and now the only things that don't fit are things that I've never fit into, that I bought during my last weight loss phase but never made it to. A Proenza Schouler for Target coat that I hope to wear in the spring. The 100%-cotton Gap jeans I used as a measuring tape last time around, so I'd know when I could call myself a straight-size 20 (they're a few hip-inches away from buttoning easily). And a few things that physically contain my body but don't look quite right yet. 

I was 254.8 this morning. The bottom of the ellipse is looming up at me. I made a goal to hit 252 by the end of the month but now something in me is straining for another 5 pounds instead of another 3. We'll see. My face is puffing like I'm getting ready for a period. 

This morning I spent a couple hours texting with a good friend—in fact, the friend I mentioned a few entries back, the teeny woman who, lo these fourteen years ago, put me in her car and took me to my first Torrid in an act of colossal caring and completely justified impatience—about the state of things since surgery. Another dear friend, having successfully defended her dissertation yesterday, is coming to spend the weekend with me in Brooklyn this weekend, and I'm so excited to see her; we'll go to another friend's party and perhaps out dancing afterwards; we'll sit up late and talk and finally I'll get to tell her about all this stuff that I've been keeping off her plate as she's pushed hard for this massive thing she's just achieved. I feel so lucky—blessed, even, though I loathe the word—to have friends who can hold my complicated feelings around this thing that I did, this change that I made. I feel like they can hear my ambivalence, my uncertainty, and they can hold it with me and love me in it. I did not know until now, I don't think, how capable they were of doing this, or that I might be capable of letting them. Love me when I'm frail. Love me when I'm confused, afraid. Love me when I don't know the answer. 

In therapy, we talk about continuity. How to shore up a sense of a stable self in the face of colossal change. These people are part of the answer. They have known me at all the sizes I have been as an adult; some of them have known me when I was an embattled, disordered teenager. They are, themselves, a kind of evident continuity, and I think I have to lean into their care. Ever more present, more honest, more real.

nimiety

I'm getting the hang of the "stair-step" pattern to weight loss. My weight levels out for anywhere from four days to a bit more than a week—tiny losses, then bouncing up and down within the range of a pound. Then there come several days of daily losses in the area of a pound a day. The drop seems to be triggered a bit by high-fluid and/or slightly-higher-than-normal calorie days, but I suppose it's chiefly just waiting it out.

Today it was 267.8, the second day of a pound-a-day loss, which means there might be a couple more to come in the next few days, which I guess is why I'm getting for the first time the prickle of imminent anticipation/concern/fear that I'd been expecting about the "home stretch" to 250, which is my lowest adult weight. Part of me never expects to cross that line, no matter what I do. Part of me is trying to make my peace with weighing 250 pounds for the rest of my life, simply because I can't imagine weighing less than that: I've had a sense of boredom with my weight loss lately, which is in part due to the election and my feeling of "who could possibly give a damn about what she weighs when there is this kind of urgently terrible stuff going on in the world?" but I think is also related to a kind of "this is all I get?" sense that's based on the subconscious idea that it's almost over, that 250 is the absolute limit. I have no idea what happens below that—what my face looks like, how much space I take up in the world, how it feels to move around in a body that weighs less than 250 pounds. I am a really, really deliberative human being, and leaps into the unknown are really not my strong suit, which is why it took me as long as it did to have WLS in the first place. But another part of me is excited, bouncing up and down with glee, pulling at the leash with impatience. 

This is going to be a rough couple of months, I think. I don't mean the holidays, although I have a few pragmatic concerns about that, and I'd probably be stupid if I didn't. I mean that there is going to be a lot of breath-holding and second-guessing between here and 250. It also looks like if things do go according to my general pattern, that I might expect to cross that line in early to mid January, so there's something that kind of interests me there about the New Year and this new frontier coinciding. 

Several years back—in 2012—my boyfriend and I shared a sublet for the summer, and it happened to be the summer that marked a change in fortune for his baseball team, the Baltimore Orioles. He couldn't believe that they might actually be kind of good after so many years of being terrible. He was new to New York and looking for work, and he'd listen to the ballgame in the other room of that apartment, which was always glowing red from the neon sign right outside its windows, until he couldn't take it anymore and he'd come and stand in the doorway of whatever room I was in to tell me that maybe, maybe, if they were still above .500 by the end of June, the end of July, the end of August—then he'd believe that they weren't going to tank. It was a confrontation with his years of learned pessimism, which had aggregated into a sense of inevitable failure. (The Orioles made the playoffs that year.)

It's like that. It's a confrontation with my sense of order, with my belief about what the rules of the universe are. Something deeply ingrained in me, something fifteen years old with roots further back still, says that 250 is where I start to gain again, where the ellipse makes its turn and starts heading in the other direction, because lower than 250 does not exist for me. Seeing it start to approach, finding myself squarely in the 260s and both rationally expecting weight loss to continue AND irrationally certain that it can't...it's going to be a push-pull. There's going to be distress in it. There's also not a lot I can do besides take it a day at a time, work the program, and wait. And worry. And try to stop worrying. 

So I'm trying to sit tight. I'm trying to have faith. I'm trying to distract myself. I can feel the pull of the kind of fixation that I've spent my adulthood learning to manage. The thrum of it, absorbing. The fear of getting sucked in. Sixteen different kinds of fear, and not a few kinds of curiosity and excitement. 

One day at a time. Head up, shoulders back, look it in the face and see what you find. See it and confront it. Name it so you don't have to enact it. That's what we're doing here.

nimiety

The other day, I got down my box of too-small clothing for the first time since surgery. I went through the things I thought might fit that would be appropriate for fall and winter, and put away a few things from my closet that either don't fit me anymore or likely won't by the time their season rolls around again (and also a couple of things I'm just not feeling like wearing these days). Because I'm a lifelong weight-cycler, I have clothing that covers nearly a 100-pound range, from something like an 18 to something like a 26. I'm in the middle of my wardrobe right now—I have a few things that are too big, and a few things that fit more loosely than they did, and a few things that newly fit, and a few things that fit but don't look quite the way I'd like them to, and a few things that simply don't fit yet (including some that never fit in the first place, because I bought them anticipating more weight loss than I actually had).

I was noticing how nice it was to get out some things I haven't worn in a long time, most of which are more recent acquisitions (because I was really upset about my most recent weight gain, and also broke as hell, the combination of which resulted in not a lot of new clothing purchases on the way up) and thus reflect a sense of who I am and how I dress that feels up-to-date and comfortable and good. It's nice to feel, in this stressful time, a real sense of pleasure about caring for and dressing myself, and I had a nice interlude with the clothes box. I've taken pleasure in clothing since I got to college and found my way both into the amazing, critical Fatshionista Livejournal community and also under the self-presentation wing of a woman who's still a very dear friend, who despite being five feet tall and maybe a hundred pounds soaking wet put 19-year-old me in her car one day, drove me to the mall, and marched me to a Torrid to oversee a $400 spree that changed my wardrobe and my life forever. God bless her and keep her. Clothing has been a way for me to manage my self-presentation, to intervene in the way the world responds to me and my body. It gives me a sense of femininity and a sense of control over my social persona that fatness has sometimes threatened. I love clothes. I love them as signifiers, and I love them as sensory experiences. And yes, I will miss my wardrobe when I have to replace it. I'll miss it a lot. 

(Side note: I'm hanging onto my too-big things to donate to the Big Fat Flea event this spring, and if you happen to be in the tri-state area I would really encourage you to consider donating too. The Flea is a thoughtful organization that brings stylish fatties together to freshen up their wardrobes on the cheap and raise money for fat-politics group NOLOSE. I understand a certain irony in the name there, but my fat politics are as ever they were, and it's an inquiry and a cause that I really believe will be close to my heart 'til the day I die.) 

My closet covers a wide range of sizes not only in the actual size tags that are in the clothes I own but also in that my entire style of dress has adapted for size flexibility. Which means I know exactly how I'll be managing the transitional period that I need to cover between when I run out of clothes and when I settle at a stable size. Which is good, because I love clothes, and I like taking my time to find the right ones, and I like buying fewer things I really like, that have heft and substance, rather than filling my closet with fast fashion, even though I will definitely need some cheap-and-cheerful filler pieces. But here's how I've dressed for maximum size flexibility, for my own reference and for the reference of anyone it may help:

  1. Stretch. Obviously. Clothes that have this have size versatility. Especially skirts and dresses. Things will look different on you at different sizes when they're stretchy, but that's something you can style and accessorize. 
  2. Sack dresses. Suddenly find yourself a size or two down? Grab a belt. The dress is already cut to drape, so it won't look bad the way a baggy waist on something that's meant to be fitted would.
  3. Wrap dresses. The alternative to no waist at all is a waist you can adjust. True wrap dresses offer you this opportunity, and they're pretty universally flattering and widely available. My favorites come from Kiyonna, but they're all over the place.
  4. Tunic-length and empire-waist tops. Tops that skim over the hip and hit you at the natural waist will add size flexibility to your wardrobe because if you don't like the way your bottoms are fitting, you can cover it up with a longer top. An empire waist hits you at your natural waist (which is less prone to fluctuation than your low waist anyway, thus giving your top a longer life), which helps things not have that baggy, shapeless vibe that some long tops can have. This one kinda feels like cheating, but it 100% works.
  5. Neutrals. Black, grey, navy, taupe. That way, the outfit is more defined by the accessories, and you don't look like you're wearing the same thing all the time. Plus, I really love a palette of mixed neutrals; I think it's understated and sophisticated. I get that a lot of people never wore color when they were bigger and have a real emotional investment in bringing color back—and I say rock it, if that's your thing, but I've always worn color (and sometimes quite a lot of it), so I don't have super-serious feelings about cranking it down.
  6. No pants. The fit on pants is finicky. Personally, I've always had problems because my hips are significantly bigger than my waist, proportionally—so if it fits me in the hips, it gaps at the waist, and if it fits me at the waist, it's too tight in the hips—so years and years ago, I solved this problem by just cutting pants out of my wardrobe completely (except for stretchy or compression pants for the gym). Instead, I pair dresses and skirts with leggings and tights, which are much more size-flexible and also cheaper and easier to swap out when my size changes.

 

So that's what it'll likely be. Not that I won't also want to be experimenting, trying new things, branching out, and challenging my sense of self and style. Just that, you know, when those things fail, a girl still needs to put on clothes to leave the house in every day.

nimiety

Three Months

Yesterday was three months out. I weighed 274.6, which is 57.4 pounds down. In three months.

More to the point, I've noticed just recently that I've hit a little categorical shift. As a lifelong weight-cycler, I've had a chance to observe the way I feel, look, and am responded to at quite a lot of different sizes. Just recently I crossed some categorical boundary. I'm less invisible at this size than fifty pounds bigger—or even ten or fifteen pounds bigger. I'm also less hypervisible. 

I recalled my surgeon—bless him, he's extremely sanguine, and he's never once tried to sell me a pie-in-the-sky picture of post-VSG living—telling me that his practice's average weight loss with the VSG alone (they do a lot of two-part duodenal switch procedures; he was a pioneer of the switch as an operation) is about ten BMI points. He said that he's tried to predict who'll substantially exceed that and has found that he can't. So I went home, figured out where 10 BMI points down put me, and thought about whether or not I could live with that. It's right about here—a few pounds lower than right here. And I decided that I could.

And now, experientially, indeed, if this were it, I could live here. At this size. I could be this size forever. It would be fine. It would not be my absolute first pick, but it would, in fact, be fine. I have been this size pretty happily and stably before. At this size, I can buy clothes that I like that look nice on me, I can feel healthy and energetic and mobile and athletic, I can handle the way my face looks. 

This is one of the weird things about being a WLS patient who has also done a lot of work on my sense of identity as a fat person. I can imagine a good life for myself as a fat person (because I've had one before). I can imagine making changes I need to make in my life and staying fat. I can imagine a world in which the VSG helps me maintain a weight that works for me without having to white-knuckle it all the time, without being constantly in the process of either losing or gaining weight. There's something deeply appealing about that picture. I get wistful when I paint it, as I did to my therapist a few days ago. This is a size I know and accept, a size I can live with. I could live here.

But of course, I'm only three months out, and I'm very rarely eating more than a thousand calories a day. My weight loss is not going to stop tomorrow. Part of the reason that part of me is feeling like I'd like to settle, probably, is that I'm in a period of very rapid loss. I got home from traveling and my period started the next day and all of a sudden my weight was in free-fall, plummeting ten pounds in a week. Water, obviously, but water that had been masking some weight loss I hadn't seen yet on the scale. The pace scares me. This is the first time I've really thought seriously about staying off the scale. 

I could live here, but probably I won't. It's only been three months. We'll see where I am in a year.

nimiety

Dogged

I get impatient. I want it to be later. I want to be smaller. I want to see huge differences in pictures, in the way my clothing fits, in what it feels like to move through the world in my body. I want it to be twenty pounds from now, thirty-five pounds from now, seventy pounds from now. (I long ago got accustomed to marking time in pounds.) I see the small differences now, but I want them to be orders of magnitude greater. 

I'm traveling for a couple of weeks starting on Monday; I won't have access to a scale, so my daily weighing habit will be suspended temporarily. And tracking my food will be more challenging because it will involve more guesswork. That irritates me but might be interesting. Hopefully I come home below 282, which is the 50-pounds-lost mark. Ideally, even, below 280. I'm currently getting weights of 285-point-something, so that seems like a possibility. 

In the absence of knowing, of food scales and regular scales and reliable tracking, there will only be the fundamental principles (eat protein, keep carbs low, drink water). That's hard for me, but in another way it's good practice. You just rack up the days, doing the stuff, putting one foot in front of the other. One day. Then the next day. Then the one after that. Protein, water, repeat.

It also helps that there is stuff to do on this trip—it's fun travel, yes, but it also has specific goals. People to see, work to do, tasks to accomplish, things to think about. I'm sure I'll have many delicious bites of food, but I won't be building my days around them, nor will there be any reason that I would.

The first couple of months were very hard for me. This is challenging, but that's different than hard. More and more, I feel like I'm learning the balance and the doggedness of this process. Finding my own plodding determination. Today. Then tomorrow. Twelve tomorrows and I'm home again, back to the routine. Three hundred tomorrows and a year has passed since surgery and I'm somewhere else entirely, but each day is much like the day before.

nimiety

Too Slow For My Tastes

Slow loss since the beginning of the month—my first post-surgery period, and then, I dunno, things starting to creep downward while I put in the time and hit the numbers and try to contain my frustration. I'm down a bit more than three pounds since the beginning of August, and I am trying to hang tight and wait for something to move. 

It's not even like the scale's not moving at all, it's just that it's not moving as fast as I'd like. But still, just the frustration of it. The anxiety, the trying to figure it out and game it, the do-I-eat-less-or-do-I-eat-more?, the is-my-metabolism-horribly-broken?, the what-if-I-can-never-eat-more-calories-than-this-ever?, the I-know-I-should-be-drinking-more-water-to-bust-this-stall-but-I'm-weighing-myself-seven-times-a-day-and-I-hate-seeing-it-on-the-scale. 

No amount of intellectual rationalization, no amount of rational wisdom, will all the way still the anxiety that tells me that this is it, this is all I get, I am the person it does not work for, I will never lose another pound, or my loss is now trickling off into nothing, little drips and drabs. It never settles into fatalism, just chases itself around in circles in my chest for long stretches until I'm exhausted.

Anyway, that. It's hilarious (not in a ha-ha way) that for all my ambivalence about this process, I still have that "oh God it's broken it's not going to work I did it for nothing" panic. Now that I put it down, it's actually kind of obvious. I feel very keenly the sacrifices of surgery—and if I had to work with those sacrifices and alterations for the rest of my life without getting a significant weight change out of it, I would be pissed. Plus, I (like many lifelong fat people, I'd suppose) have a tendency to eel doomed around these kinds of things.

I know what to do. Keep my head down, hit the numbers, manage the anxiety. Repeat ad infinitum, ad nauseam. Repeat, repeat, repeat. 

It's going to be a hell of a year.

 

nimiety

Chatting; Period

My moods are a-swinging.

I had a really nice day hanging around with my boyfriend, picking up my apartment while he worked on his creative project—and then a great time when a close friend came over to hang with us, just doing regular Sunday-night chilling, hanging around and catching up and watching a double feature of wild documentaries (con men and sex cults!). The two of them ordered Chinese—that's the routine of our Sunday chill sessions. Usually I get a full dish to myself, usually sesame chicken or mu shu or beef chow fun, and an egg roll and split some vegetable dumplings. This time I ate one of my girl's shrimp in addition to my chopped poached chicken with tomato sauce and feta cheese. She asked what I'd want a bite of, and I wanted a shrimp, so she got shrimp, which was very sweet of her. Those two people are just about the only two people with whom I feel really comfortable talking about my feelings about surgery and the details of the pragmatics, and it was a relief to get to do it, to tell them what's hard. I don't really feel like I have to convince them of anything, or hold any particular line; I feel like I get to tell them how I actually feel, what I'm worrying about, what odd idiosyncratic feelings I have about things. 

Then, after she left, I mentioned something to my boyfriend about something he'd said that affects me and the way we relate to each other, and got resentful silence as a response, and then he left the dishes in the sink after I'd spent all day clearing the cleaning backlog in the kitchen, and then suddenly I was vibrating with rage. Went to bed angry and miserable.

...and then this morning I woke up bloody. SHOCKER.

I actually had my period during surgery and my hospital stay, and the blood thinners prolonged it for a couple extra days, so to get it again only about 35 days later is kind of remarkable. I've been irregular all my life because of PCOS, with which I was diagnosed when I was about fifteen because of irregular periods. This month has been kind of an emotional and physical nightmare because of the estrogen dumping from rapid fat loss, and I don't know if that has a connection with a more regular than usual period, but it would seem to be the reverse to me—that an unusual event would tend to be a disruption, rather than a help. And somehow, that feels like a huge deal, that the first month out I'm having an almost-normal cycle. It's my body...doing what it's supposed to do. Working as expected. 

The intensity of my feeling about it surprises me. It hits me in the chest, makes me choke up a little. My endocrine system has been broken since I was nine or ten years old, the weight and height numbers on the percentile curves decoupling, and into the gap creeping a new and medicalized kind of self-consciousness, a weird ability to talk about myself like a case, to peel off from a group of friends in camp and go to the nurse's office and measure and inject a dose of growth hormone. I endured invasive procedures, the consuming of my free time, the foisting on me of body image seminars and food diaries, an MRI in a closed tube with broken headphones when I was only in the fourth or fifth grade. It was a lot for a kid. I worked to understand it, and I felt like I had done something wrong. 

Anyway, my period was regular when I was lifting intensely, but other than that, all my life. And now having a regular period—and it feels so regular, in the sense of normal, like, it isn't preceded by three to five days of spotting—it means something. And the fact that it means something affirms something about what my real priorities are in this project.

nimiety

Wanting

No grand conclusion on this one. Just some notes.

I'm noticing that WLS seems to have changed the experience of desire for me. Sharpened it, somehow, as if it's being brought into focus. One line of thinking I have on it goes: I have this thing in my body (this thing out of my body, but it makes more sense to me to think of it as a modification that's been installed, rather than something that's been removed) that prevents me from eating whatever I want. As they say ad nauseum, this does not change your head—that is, it does not change what you want, only your ability to have it. So: my boyfriend goes to get us coffee from the good coffee place, and also gets himself a scone. He pulls the scone out of the bag and I go: want. But I can't have that. I mean, actually, I probably theoretically could eat it, but it's not a good idea for me right now. Divorce wanting and having. I can want it without eating it. There's also the sheer fact that while I might want to eat a giant bowl of macaroni and cheese, I could not physically consume the volume that I want. Impossible. Externally frustrated desire. So: two different ways. But both of them seem bound up in one thing. A separation between wanting and having. 

One summer when I was about fourteen I had a job punching numbers into an adding machine, and I would go to work without eating anything and leave work still not having eaten anything, and I would walk home, a bit more than a mile, and I would tell myself: you can eat anything you want. Whatever you want, you can have it. I would pass place after place after place, and ask myself: do you want that? It was never perfect. It was never exactly what I wanted. And so I would get home and make some incredibly bizarre concoction somewhere between a very thick tomato soup and a very loose biscuit batter. That, somehow, was what I really wanted. 

What I have always wanted, more than anything, was not to want. Or more accurately: to want correctly. To want the things I am supposed to want. And only those things.

So I am not here to school my desire. No. My desire is voracious, capacious. I am here to unleash my desire. (I don't know much, but I know that much is true. Gut-true, blood-true.) So: I think it is really, really important to tell myself that it is okay to want the scone. It is okay to want volume. But right now, I am not gratifying those desires. I am open to experiencing them, to letting them roll through me however they are going to do that. But I have obligations to my recovery and to the massive $!)(#*$ effort I have made, and while I may stare longingly at a half a scone, I am not actually eating it. 

And somehow (though I am very wary of validating some boring and condescending conventional narratives re: fat people and food) that seems to sharpen the experience of other kinds of desire. Bring it, or its absence, into focus. I do want this. I don't want that. I have extremely strong reactions right now to undesired or unpreferred physical contact, even proximity. It's also somehow much easier to tell when/if I'm having an orgasm, although, given estrogen dumping and general recovery, much MUCH harder to actually have one, so this is a limited data set. I got into a fairly heated verbal disagreement with an acquaintance who has the tendency to steamroll other people, which is unlike me, and then afterwards bitched about her to a couple of mutual acquaintances, which is also unlike me. There is part of me that thinks I am just acting erratically still post-surgically, and another part of me that wonders if something has changed fundamentally, or at least shown a way in which it could.

Right after surgery, I experienced a horrifying void of desire. I wanted nothing. I was uninterestable, unarousable. It felt like being about two-thirds of the way dead. A couple of days ago on the subway I had a moment of panic about My Entire Life because it suddenly felt like: well, what the @~$& do I want? Nothing. None of these things. 

If none of these things, then what?

nimiety

Follow-Up

Down thirty pounds on their scales at the one-month follow-up. Their scales have always weighed me a little lighter than mine. Vitals a little wonky—blood pressure slightly elevated (125/89), pulse significantly elevated. My nice, athletic mid-to-high sixties baseline was jumping around above 100. They didn't seem distressed, even though they've never seen my pulse above 70 before as far as I can remember. Even in the recovery room after surgery, when my oxygen saturation was periodically dipping like a diving swallow, my pulse beat steadily away where it always was. Seeing it so high gave me a moment of pause. What the @~$& am I doing to a perfectly stable physical condition that my pulse is up more than 50%? But I'd had a long (for right now) day, hauling to the Bronx to teach and deal with HR, then back to upper Manhattan, standing on the subway all the way even when I felt a little light-headed. If it's still elevated at the three-month visit, I will be concerned even if they're not, and tell them so. In fairness, I mentioned it this time. But they have seen this a million times, and I only once. I'm afraid though that they just go, "oh, a pulse over 100 isn't abnormal for fat people." But it's abnormal for me

A chatty medical researcher came in to ask me if they could use my data in their data bank. I said of course. She seemed surprised by not having to convince me until I told her that I also do research of my own as a profession, and that I'd also read a bunch of theirs before I made the decision. I believe in data, in research. And I have enough ambivalence about this procedure to want my data in there win or lose, no matter what happens. Anyway, I liked talking to her, and told her a little more about my own choice and experience than I've yet told anyone there, I think—about the way it feels, the fact that I'm a perfectly functional person when I'm 280 and lifting, like, a perfectly functional person with body image issues, sure, but a person who can dress herself well and get briskly around the world and feel good and vibrant and alive and embodied. But at 330, when I'm sedentary and gettng sedentary-er because my weight distribution's just gotten weird and made my body uncomfortable to inhabit, no. And I could not see myself embarking on yet another diet, making yet another set of rules and promises and data projections. They had come to seem useless, meaningless, flimsy. So: surgery.

I saw a resident (?) and the surgeon after that. She checked the incisions and cleared me to take a bath; said they were healing up beautifully. I wanted to tell her: you don't understand. My body is a tank. A compact tank. It is good at endurance, at self-defense. I never had a moment's concern that I would heal badly. I hate being medicalized so much, and it manifests in part in my desire to talk, to tell them stuff, to humanize myself. Because I am also concerned with making them think well of me, with meeting their expectations, it brings out a very particular side of me, such that when the surgeon came in and I told him I was exhausted, like exhausted, he grinned and said, "Well, you're an outgoing personality." What he meant by this was that I am used to having a lot of energy, which is true. He said also that being exhausted and healing and physiologically starving is a condition in which anyone, especially a fat person, would generally eat, and not being able to makes us cranky, so I shouldn't be surprised if I'm snappy and short-tempered, which I am. Especially with my boyfriend. But I'm a little hermity, trying to spare other people this less-than-peak version of myself. My students are getting the regular version, though, the speed-talking charm-offensive slightly dithery-yet-insightful version that is my general pedagogical persona (leave us not say "schtick"). It's nice to know I can be normal, even if only for an hour and a half at the front of a classroom.

The surgeon said that he tells everyone to forget cardio, if they do nothing else, lift weights from months three to six. Don't have to tell me twice. Let me at 'em. But I'm not allowed to do loads above 100 lbs. until eight weeks out, and nothing above 20 for another two. Given that there's nothing meaningful that can be done with twenty pounds, I'm waiting another two weeks. Then maybe I'll head over to the rec center across the street and see how their facilities for lifting are looking these days. If they're solid, I'll join up, maybe do some super-light movement-pattern work under 100. I'm just going back to Starting Strength or StrongLifts, three or five sets of five. I haven't decided which yet. Maybe 5x5, given that the loads are going to be so light. It'll depend on stamina. 

He talked for a bit, sort of out of the blue, about the psychological and physiological effects of excess skin—used the phrase "intimate moments," which, not gonna lie, sort of made my flesh creep even though I like him quite a bit, and did not seem to appreciate my breezy "Well, I've been fat all my life, so I'm just figuring that's waiting for me down the road." He said it's not covered by insurance, so save my pennies. I was like: LOL. If that's something in my future, it's something that's coming from family as a gift or after I've made some kind of major career change or advancement.

My ambivalence is still with me. 

Anyway, down 30 pounds on their scales. And this morning I just got up and weighed: down 30 on mine too. Thirty pounds in a month. Talk about your mindfucks.

 

nimiety

One Month

One month today. In that month: 27.8 pounds, many disgusting crushed pills, many naps, zero adverse incidents thank God, and a few new concepts starting to become clear.

If I could tell pre-op me one thing it would be: buckle up. The feelings will be the hardest part. They will be strange, and they will change on a dime. For the first week you will be numb. Nothing will interest you. You will kill time in front of the television, on the internet; you will be waiting for it all to pass. That's fine. It will pass. (Maybe give a more definitive red flag to the people who have to deal with your most vulnerable spots. You know who I mean.) You will be angry. You will be afraid. You will feel loss, shame, grief. Just show up to therapy and don't feel bad weeping through the session. Tell your shrink the things you are trying to talk yourself out of thinking. 

They really don't tell you about the feelings. They don't tell you about post-operative depression, about the exhaustion. 

But doing the bare minimum is okay.

I am impatient. I want it to be five months from now. I am always like this, about weight loss. I start calculating out the numbers. I start researching fine points. Today I read an article my surgeon co-authored on stratification of %EWL outcomes by bougie size. Please note: I have no idea what size bougie he used on me, only a vague sense that my stomach is bigger than other people's. Which, for the record, is more than okay with me. 

I don't really have enough data yet. My therapist and I agreed on this. I am a person who lives by analysis. It is my occupation, my recreation, my lifeline. Analysis is frustrating, potentially impossible right now. The horizons of the world have closed in. It is: follow the plan. One day at a time. 

So that's what I'm doing. Checking off the glasses of water, counting the grams of protein, taking the vitamins, doing what I can't put off by way of work and only that much.

In general, I am being very, very compliant. It's like I gave over my life to compliance. I've reread the packet from my surgeon's practice...I don't know, four times? Five? More? I did not realize how much of the day it would take up, putting mini-meals and shakes and water and pills together like a puzzle (a bland puzzle).

I tried seltzer a couple days before carbonation was permitted. Drinking it takes some technique, but it's fine. I haven't tried Diet Coke yet. I'm taking a hiatus from Diet Coke. But it's a huge relief that seltzer is fine; I'm a fiend for it. And it helps me get fluid in. 

One more tip, pre-op self: Fluid. First priority. Every day. EVERY day. Spare yourself a preventable headache or two. But luckily, you will only have to learn that lesson once. Oh, also: hot sauce. It helps. And: don't try to get yourself over loathing artificial sweeteners. Do not bother with the sugar-free popsicles or the sugar-free Jell-o pudding or the flavored yogurt. I know, I know: monotony. (Which is funny, because you've always been the kind of girl who could eat the same thing every day for a week.) But I promise. You will not find one you like. 

My follow-up appointment with my surgeon is tomorrow. I want him to tell me I'm doing good, that he has faith in me. Also I want him to tell me I can take baths again. If there is anything that tests my resolve on compliance, it is my bathtub. Harder than weeding out a few things that I COULD eat but eh, aren't really a great idea from my grocery delivery cart is not running a bath in a time of stress and trouble. I want to sink into the tub. Hopefully tomorrow night.