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kayak19

...shopping in your own closet could be so fun!

For at least three decades, when I purchased new clothes, they were usually the same size or more often they were increasingly bigger sizes.  Sometimes I'd lose some weight and pull out a pair of smaller pants I'd recently retired, but then inevitably, back they'd go to their old resting spot with the other smaller clothes in the closet or basement.

So I, probably like many, have a wardrobe containing clothing in every letter, number or other embarrassing denotation (extra fluffy?) one can imagine.  When I was pre-op, I asked my administrative assistant, the only person at work who knows about my WLS, to help me know if I was continuing to wear something that had gotten too big.  It seems like it's really hard for people to evaluate themselves accurately about these kinds of things, so I wanted some help with this.  And this week it happened.  I came in wearing some PFBs (pants from before) and she said, "Oh no, I don't think so...those pants are making flapping noises when you walk!"  Now this was both exciting and a little terrifying.  I could only think of one other pair of PFBs that I was going to be able to wear to work (at this point, I'm not comfortable in skirts or dresses) and buying new pants, even for this exciting reason, is still my worst nightmare.

Before surgery, I had organized my clothing into piles labeled:

  • Fit before surgery/Wear right after surgery
  • Try a little while after surgery
  • Try a little while after that
  • Donate
  • Discard

Then I also purchased some clothes online on clearance in a variety of sizes, maybe 6 shirts and a pair of stretchy capri exercise pants, sort of thinking that I'd be down a couple sizes by next summer.   Yes, I know, it takes some people awhile...

So today I started by trying on those new shirts, the ones for next summer.  They were a range of sizes, one size to three sizes below the size I've been wearing.  They all fit, today, right now.

Then I tried on all my PFWBs (pants from way before).  To my amazement, I now have five pairs of pants that fit, as well as some to donate and some for in a little while.  

Next I tried on all the clothes I had slated to wear right after surgery.  Hmmmm, shirts had become tunics and tunics had become dresses...and mostly not in a good way.  Okay, time to reorganize and add to some of the aforementioned piles.

I started trying on the "Try a little while after surgery" and I found many more items that are working.  Wow, I feel like I spent the day shopping and I didn't spend a dime!  Not only that, it was some positive affirmation that this big effort, this daily grind of cottage cheese and calcium pills, is really working.  Pretty soon I might even be able to say "when" I lose this weight instead of "if."

The last thing I tried on was the new stretchy capri exercise pants, 3 sizes below.  I don't know why I tried them on; they clearly looked too small, but hey, it had already been a day of miracles and at least I'd have an idea of which pile to put them in for the future.  

I'm wearing them right now.

kayak19

Food as a social connector is deeply engrained in American culture and in my life.  I am coming up on 3 weeks post-op and slowly re-entering some social aspects of my life.  The first time my husband said that someone asked us to go to dinner, my first reaction was a panicked "No! I can't!"  As I've gradually and successfully added more foods to my daily diet and had a couple experiences of feeling full and realized they are not too scary, I'm feeling more confident about starting to connect socially again over meals.  That said, I am mentally sorting through a lot of previously held notions that have shaped how I manage social situations with food that have accrued over a lifetime.

I recalled years ago when celebrating a birthday with friends, serving up cake and one girlfriend saying that she would pass because she'd already had a dessert that day.  I remember thinking that was so strange...it was our friend's birthday, how could she not have a piece of cake?  Recently I read on TT that our world today has people making all kinds of food choices and so when those who've had WLS make a special request or decline something, it's really not that big of a deal anymore.  I think my brain has to catch up to that.  Passing on a piece of cake is not rejecting a friend or failing to recognize her special day.  Being there is what makes it special.

In high school, so many moons ago, I felt like I was the funny girl who hung around with a bunch of pretty girls.  I didn't feel badly about it, but felt like it was what it was.  I did however pick up what I think was a fatal flaw...the notion that people who monitored their weight and eating were hyper-focused on their appearance and therefore, vain.  Being the funny one, this was not a road I would have ever gone down.  The ironic thing is that when I look at a picture of all of us from back then, we pretty much all look the same, same hair, same clothes, same make-up...in fact, it took my young niece three tries to guess who I was in the picture.

I've always enjoyed cooking and serving food to other people.  Two weeks usually don't go by without my extended family coming over for a meal.  My SIL, who is very thin but can really eat, always says that when she comes to my house she always feels so full that she has to be rolled out afterwards.  At first I appreciated what was meant as a compliment, but as I started considering WLS, that comment resonated with me in a different way.  Why should having a fun family get-together involve me stuffing people to the point of being uncomfortable?  We can have an enjoyable time without eating in an unhealthy manner.  Every time we get together is not a special occasion or excuse for over-indulgence.

I need to carry this same thought to dining out as well,  because in my pre-surgery life I treated meals out as if all visits to restaurants were special occasions.  The way I would peruse menus would be to look them over and find the meal that I would absolutely love the most.  I didn't generally consider if it was the best choice health-wise...I mean, I might not go to that restaurant again for some time and so I should get what I really wanted, right?  Obviously this must change.  I randomly sat next to someone at my WLS support group the other night and she shared what she ordered (and exactly how to ask for it) each time she went to a local restaurant which is a restaurant my husband and I frequent.  I was thrilled to get this information because I really didn't know what I'd order the next time we went there.  I'm realizing that help and support is literally around every corner if you're looking.

I'm coming to a new understanding that monitoring my food choices on a daily basis is just a part of taking good care of myself.  It does not make me vain or hyper-focused on appearance.  We've had a few family get-togethers since my surgery.  We are making progress on planning and cooking healthier, yet still delicious, meals together.  Tomorrow is my first restaurant meal, aside from some soup at Panera and one of the WLS post-op staples, pintos & cheese from Taco Bell.  I am heading into this social event armed with lots of advice from TT threads.  I love the advice about focusing on the people and the conversation more so than the food.  Wish me luck!

 

kayak19

Deciding to undergo WLS is one of the biggest decisions I'll ever make in my lifetime.  The mental journey that accompanies this process is so very interesting.  I'm finding that it is not just about the food choices; it is a deeply personal experience that creates the need for much self-reflection in order to have the maximum chance for long-term success.  Here are some things I've uncovered about myself in just a few short months (I am lucky in that my insurance situation is such that once I was motivated enough to go to an information meeting, following the steps made this a relatively short process, compared to what I've read that others have had to endure...feeling very fortunate on this).

I have spent a large part of my adult life utilizing socially acceptable constructs to allow me to hyper-focus on food.  I have been a vegetarian, not a vegetarian, cookbook collector, a food politics advocate (say no to GMOs!), a CSA (community sustained agriculture) participant, a farmers market faithful, pinterest recipe queen (having categories as specific as Scones), a foodie, a canner, and the family member who loves to host big family gatherings and express my "love" in the form of massive, delicious meals that people couldn't stop raving about or eating.  My identity, aside from my profession, has been almost completely wrapped up in food.  While it seems very obvious now, I never realized I was doing that until now.

While my aforementioned best friend, Food, and I were keeping ourselves busy, I was at the same time isolating myself and neglecting my health.   Over time I felt less and less worthy of spending time, energy or money on self-care, and that I shouldn't subject people who weren't family to have to spend time with me.  I felt like my body didn't deserve to wear things like jewelry or make-up.  Clothes had become as utilitarian as possible, both from lack of options and interest.

The more diet plans one tries and the older one gets, the harder it is to gear yourself up for another one.  We know where they end up, ALWAYS with a net gain.  As I contemplated whether to have the surgery or not, this was a huge deciding factor.  The pre-op diet was very easy for me; I did not feel deprived or hungry (I should disclose that it was only 8 days long compared to the months or longer required by some drs or insurance companies I've read about on TTF), but I kept having the thought that if I can do this now, why can't I just do this without the surgery?  Since my surgery, I've noted various situations or encounters with food and thought, had I not had surgery and was just on a restrictive plan, I would have gone off of it at these points, reaffirming that this was indeed a tool that I needed.

I had to face the fact that I have successfully accomplished most of the other goals I have ever set for myself and the weight loss battle remained elusive.  What were the chances that someone with a middle aged metabolism and a long history of unsuccessful eating programs was going to succeed without this bigger step?  Less than 5%...

The odds not in my favor for going it alone, I decided I needed to go for it even though I have spent the majority of my life seeking alternative medical solutions; my chiropractor was essentially my PCP for most of my life.   I did a lot of research, read blogs and forums, watched YouTube videos, had a moment when I found out about the probable hair loss and a few other things, but ultimately made it to my surgery date feeling ready, calm and dare I say, excited about the possibility of success.  

My surgery and hospital stay went very well.  I was surprised at how it felt to be cared for by nurses, my husband, my friends and family.  That is usually the role that I play, so receiving that from others felt foreign at first and I had to reassure myself that I was worthy of that care.  I have found that the intense focus on caring for myself after surgery, the routines with meds, nutrition, exercise, are contributing to that rebuild of worthiness as well.  

So my next step is to properly frame a new relationship with Food.  It can't be eliminated; so it must be dealt with.  Instead of depending on Food to help me fit in to areas in life I thought I wanted to be in such as food preservation groups and best meal preparer for those in need, it must take the role of providing some of the care I need to take of myself.  It has to provide true nourishment and not be exploited as a temporary emotional buffer or way to focus on eating without signing up for something gross like a hot dog eating contest.  

Today is my first day off of clear liquids.  Starting today I get to choose each and every day what the new food relationship will be.

 

 

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