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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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...and we're back.

Home again. I had a lovely week and a half in three European cities, in which I denied myself very little. I ate a bunch of croissants and other delicious bread-type things. I drank a lot (like a lot) of cocktails (un autre Campari spritz, s'il-vous plait; einmal noch Aperol sour, bitte). I came home with six RitterSports in my carry-on. I managed to consume nearly an entire döner kebab in one sitting. I also prioritized protein the majority of the time and walked a ton—I don't keep track, but walking around is a primary travel activity for me by inclination. And on Tuesday, when I got on the scale when I got home from the airport, I weighed 176.8—about a pound and a half above where I was when I left. I'd been hoping just to come home still under 180, so that felt like a big win.  Then, of course, I ordered Chinese food, because years of family travel have carved into my bones the law that says that when you get home from the airport to an empty refrigerator, you have to order Chinese food (though I went for mu shu pork and BBQ ribs instead of childhood staples like young chow fried rice and sesame chicken)—so after two days (and some leftovers), I'm still up a couple pounds of bloat—I can tell that it's water because my fingers and face are puffy. I'm running water and home-brewed kombucha through my system to bring it down, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the scale says in a couple of days, once I've gotten myself back to baseline. But basically, it's looking like I didn't gain more than a pound or two at the most.  It feels fairly remarkable to be able to travel without either worrying about what I eat or don't eat constantly or coming home ten pounds heavier than I left. I had a good talk with a friend in Berlin in which I told her more about my surgical experience and the eating disorders history that contextualizes it than I've told most people, and that was the thing that I stressed to her, as I've also stressed it here—that the real victory feels like the ability to ease up, to not be trapped in the clutch of hyperfocus and anxiety and dysfunctional, disordered behavioral cycling.  I've got a hectic week ahead—very much hitting the ground running—but I'm looking forward to settling myself back into a good food groove; I'm still interested in dropping the 10-15 pounds I was interested in losing before I left. (Possibly nudged by the fact that I definitely feel a little more outside the norm of body size in Europe than I do in America.) I'm sort of informally shooting to do so by the end of the year, though again, I'm committed to prioritizing behavioral health and balance and happiness over scale weight, so if those two things are incompatible, the weight loss goal goes. But they're not feeling super incompatible right now. There's a little discomfort gnawing at me (that outside-the-norm feeling?), which is something I have to keep my eye on, but my behavioral goals are very much my own. I'm putting together a menu for the week that's all things I like that simultaneously support my nutritional needs (big batches of stewed lentils, quinoa salad, tuna salad, slaw), and feeling pretty calm and purposeful.   

nimiety

nimiety

 

Headed off for some travel.

I'm about to take off for ten days in Europe. Two things about that relevant to this space: 1) I'm a little bit grumpy about the fact that I'm disrupting a really good groove. I've been interested in losing a little more weight, and lately that's been working out well for me: I've been in a good, easy, pleasurable routine that's made that feel very achievable. I'm seeing scale weights below the bottom of my usual range—the last few mornings have been below 177. You know what's not like an awesome step towards losing five or ten pounds? Eating in nice restaurants in Paris. That said, am I complaining about heading off to eat in nice restaurants in Paris? Good lord, no. I'm not an ungrateful idiot. I'm going to do what I've done before successfully during travel: hit my water hard, walk around a lot, and eat enjoyably in moderation with a focus on protein. In my other stops I'll be staying with friends, so there it'll be easier, although of course I'll still want to try things, and will in fact try those things. I'm going to try to keep near the forefront of my brain the fact that it would be really nice to come back still in range of that low point; I'm also not going to be super strict and regimented about my behavior while I'm away. I'm not taking protein powder or anything special. Just being a normal person who keeps an eye on things. 2) I've never been in Europe as not a fat person. It's always been a presence in my travel, that sense of alienation, of being looked at, simultaneously conspicuous and invisible. My last stop is Berlin—the last time I was there was fifteen years ago, the summer before I was inpatient for ED treatment. I remember the way it felt to be in that differentiated body. I remember how much it defined my experience there. This is going to be different. I am nervous and excited. I have fussed a lot over my packing. What clothes, what shoes, what makeup. But as I'm headed out the door, I feel okay about my ability to move through the world.  I'll check back in when I get home. 

nimiety

nimiety

 

Not Being "Good"

So my return here for the two-year mark has me wanting to think out loud about some stuff, I guess. I do really like this space for thinking through things. I often feel pretty out of step with the general discourse here or elsewhere in WLS support internet space. I have a sense of myself as a "bad" patient, I think, someone who gets away with things, who breaks or bends or disregards the rules, who doesn't work hard enough. The constant vigilance! The culinary monotony! The things that aren't delicious! How do people do it? I feel simultaneously concerned that I should be doing it and delighted that it seems like I don't have to.  For example: you hear a lot of people talking about how they gain on fourteen hundred calories a day, twelve hundred calories a day, a thousand calories a day. I am not one of those people. I don't track, but I have been a disordered eater and a recovering disordered eater for long enough that if I stop and think about it and adjust for the human tendency to underestimate, I can ballpark my daily intake in my head. I would say it is pretty much always north of fifteen hundred, probably more likely usually around 1800-2200. There are definitely days it's above that, too—sometimes I go out for ice cream/fall face-first into a box of See's candy/drink three cocktails instead of two Jameson-and-sodas/end up reverting to symptomatic late-night-secret-eating habits while visiting my parents/pull an all-nighter fueled by sour cream and onion chips and citric-acid sour apple gummy straws/have a terrible hangover that ABSOLUTELY REQUIRES as much of the neighborhood's best bacon egg & cheese on a roll as I can comfortably contain. That makes sense as an estimate, because when I go to my favorite calculator and calculate my approximate total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) I get a number just above 2200, which is to say, if my normal range is at or just below that mark, and then there are some higher days, I am eating in a way that maintains the weight I'm at now. Energy balance is a beautiful thing. This number suggests that I have a normal human metabolism, which is particularly delightful news given that my endocrine system has been borked since childhood. I'm tempted to say that I have a hunch that folks who swear they gain on a thousand calories tend to underestimate their own consumption (which is an empirically observed phenomenon and not a personal flaw) but it's also true that a lifetime of dieting is a predictor of metabolic damage (it's also empirically observable that people who've lost a lot of weight often need to be more active and consume less than people of the same weight who've been weight-stable most of their lives). I wonder if the years I spent as a superheavyweight (this is the technical term for the weight class, not negative self-talk!) powerlifter, training twelve hours a week and radically increasing my caloric needs and then increasing my intake to match them helped me repair some metabolic damage. I also wonder if because of the degree of peace I came to with fatness I'm simply content at a higher weight than some others might be, which means I don't have as much of the psychological need to fight my body all the time to maintain a weight lower than the one to which it's internally calibrated (even after the recalibration effect of a surgery like the VSG, which is one of the reasons I chose it in the first place).  I also eat regular food, mostly, which seems sort of not to be the way of things for a lot of folks after WLS. I keep Fairlife high-protein milk in the house for coffee (though I sometimes use regular whole milk and sometimes buy half-and-half), and Breyer's Delights protein ice cream in my freezer, but on the whole, I just eat regular things. (Not always the same things I ate before surgery, but things that are normal food items.) It's a holdover from ED treatment, really—they did whole milk there, no reduced-fat things, and I never switched back; also diet foods make me uncomfortable because they feel shamey. And I dislike artificially sweetened things, as a rule, except Diet Coke; yes I know it maybe kind of gives you cancer and Alzheimer's but I simply do not have the energy to deal with rather than indulge my Diet Coke habit; there is a lot going on over here and it doesn't even crack the top ten on the priority list.  Yesterday I had four strips of bacon and two-thirds of a piece of toast with mayonnaise and two fried eggs for breakfast; I finished the egg toast with half a grapefruit a few hours later; I slugged coffee with Fairlife chocolate milk all morning and much of the afternoon; I had six homemade chicken & vegetable dumplings (pan-fried) for a late lunch; I had some feta cheese with tomato and olive oil and garlic and about half a pint of protein ice cream for dinner; I had four ginger chews before bed. Oh, and some home-brewed kombucha, because I'm that person these days (frankly, I worry about the sugar but apparently the yeasts eat most of it). Today I had another egg toast (four strips of bacon and two fried eggs on top of tomato, scallions, and feta cheese; it was a significant achievement in the field of breakfast and kept me full all day), more coffee and Fairlife chocolate milk, a prefab ma po tofu for dinner, some protein ice cream as a snack, a jerky and two ginger chews even as we speak. This one's on the lower end of things. I'm okay with that.  Like pretty much I'm a normal person. I do still have significant volume restriction—I notice it most when I eat out with others, when I am conscious of how little it looks like I've eaten in comparison—but these are pretty normal amounts of food for a human to consume. Which I enjoy! But which also seems out of step sometimes. Equally unusual: I employ no diet plans (i.e. I eat carbs, albeit in relative moderation that has more to do with space in my modified anatomy—and not just the "good" ones, either—and I have no macros and I have no calorie goal and I will try a bite of anything. And if failing to plan is planning to fail, baby, I'll take the F. I run out the door running ten minutes late figuring I'll grab something later a lot. I have also been known to play pretty fast & loose with the no-drinking-and-eating rule. I could maybe experiment to see if it matters—it honestly hasn't really felt like it does for me. If I drink while I eat, I take little sips slightly less often than I would ideally like to until it's been an adequate amount of time.  But here's the thing: when I really think about it, I actually do think I'm a pretty good WLS patient. I do plan on a longer-term basis—I think about what I want to have in my fridge for the week, and I certainly consider my nutritional needs a priority in that planning. I build around protein options (and try never to eat a meal without a substantial protein hit, and ideally not snacks without them either). I keep an eye on what I have a tendency to overeat (chocolate, popcorn, those perfectly sweet-salty butter toffee cashews from the coop, sesame sticks, pasta, takeout, good bread) and make changes if things are going overboard (stop bringing them into my house for at least awhile, figure out what I need to/can sub in for them)—I don't just beat myself up about it and get into cycles of compulsivity, I actually just change the thing (I mean, it takes a minute, but for awhile I was overeating chocolate and now I'm not). I batch-prep things I want to be able to grab quickly (beans, tuna and chicken salad, poached shrimp, dumplings for the freezer). I try to add a little greenery to every protein thing. I usually keep a protein bar and a stick of jerky or two in my bag so I don't have to eat any old thing if I'm running around the world (I also eat a lot of drugstore string cheese; so sue me).  I've expanded my culinary horizons in ways that work for me, and enjoying expanding them keeps me getting pleasure out of my kitchen life, which is super self-caring for me. I'm really having a tofu moment. I've also established new rhythms in the kitchen that work for me now around what and how I'm eating. I've done some pickling and fermenting (kombucha; I'd like to start doing sauerkraut again). My favorite want-a-food-experience-don't-actually-need-one-want-one-anyway snack is just chopsticking (bought, not homemade) kimchi right out of the jar. I also like hot sauce and spiciness in general way more than I did before surgery—I think it's about sensation. I want more POW from my food now, often. Which has the interesting effect of making a lot of easy-to-overeat foods kind of less thrilling. I was scrupulously compliant when scrupulous compliance was necessary. The only thing I ever advanced on early was seltzer, and that very cautiously and only slightly before my surgeon had said I could try it. I weighed and measured food, tracked it, counted my calories, hit my numbers, took my vitamins, and drank my water. I still take my vitamins and drink my water—I'd let it lapse, then noticed that it was affecting me and got it back on track (I literally text my partner every day she's not here with a picture of a palmful of vitamins). Even though the amount of food I eat is a pretty normal amount of food for a human to eat, it's also true that it's not historically a very normal amount for me. Like, six dumplings would have seemed like not enough dumplings. I really like dumplings and sometimes I'm mad that I can't eat more of them. (Sometimes I eat eight dumplings. Sometimes six is fine.) A box of mac and cheese definitely felt like not enough mac and cheese, like it just looked so small; if I get one now it lasts two meals and maybe a snack (also I still glow it up with extra cheese, which definitely makes me feel like a bad WLS patient, but honestly otherwise what's the point?). And when I see the box, it doesn't look so small anymore. It's getting to be normal, is the thing: I'm recalibrating. A few weeks ago I caught myself exclaiming over how giant the ice cream cone I'd just been handed was, and then felt like it was a kind of jerky diet-culturey thing to say (especially in the context of my family), but the thing was, it just looked so giant! (It was objectively giant.) A recalibration of perception. Another recalibration: figuring out what my hunger and fullness cues are now. When I worked with an ED nutritionist for years, we did a lot of this: rating hunger and fullness in the food logs I kept for her. I realized recently that I'm figuring out when I'm hungry post-VSG. It's a different sensation: it's not in my stomach anymore so much as in my gut. I think that it has something to do with my actual body needing fuel even if my stomach isn't yet actively distressed by its emptiness. I had to look for it a long time in order to find where it had gone. But I'm catching on. It's there if I look. The point is, there's getting to be an auto-pilot in there, I think. I mean, that's what I'm hoping. I feel self-conscious about saying that I eat like a person and my weight is stable; I feel like someone's going to swoop in here and slap my hand and tell me I should be weighing and measuring and counting and don't I see I'm still quite fat? But I'm doing what works for me. This works for me. I guess I think the reason that I'm actually a pretty good WLS patient is that I'm in command of my own choices. Could I do the weighing and the measuring still? Yes, sure, I guess. Could I lose another ten, fifteen, twenty, even thirty pounds if I did it really rigorously? Yes/probably/maybe. Do I think the effort is worth the reward? Not really. There are a lot of things in my life that need my energy right now! It is frankly kind of insane! I don't have the brain space. But I do think it's potentially worth it to see if I can take another little step down without doing those things, just paying a little more attention. And I definitely think it's worth it to squelch any symptomatic eating that threatens my long-term stability. I feel good about the fact that I'm not denialist, avoidant, or helpless about that. That needs my attention, it gets it, my attention can change the behavior. That's reassuring.  I definitely don't want to sound like I have everything all together. I am still paying a lot of attention to this thing. I have some moles to whack that other people probably don't—symptomatic behavior and the things that trigger it, my slightly intense aversion to being too diet-y, etc. I worry because when I'm making a conscious effort to eat on the lower end, I am also on and off the scale all day, just like I was my freshman year of college when the disorder really got me, closed the walls in around me. And I'm sure that someone will think that my consumption of a box of mac and cheese every couple or three months is a slippery slope to hell. Please don't comment to tell me so! I respect your opinion but am okay with the choices I'm making. That's sort of the thing: I'm okay with the choices I'm making. I'm making my choices consciously, with respect for reality and the difference between want and need, which puts me in the driver's seat. And as long as I'm there, I feel good about where I am.   ...it turned out I had a lot of feelings about this!

nimiety

nimiety

 

Two Years

It's been two years. I had surgery two years ago—well, two years and a week or so. Things have settled in. My goal with surgery was always the same: stop dieting, stop white-knuckling, find stability that works.  I've succeeded at doing that. I never hit my tentative goal, but I also (as readers who were reading back when may recall) didn't really have a goal weight—I never set out to reach a goal of thinness, or of a particular number. I did what I had wanted to do: found a place at which I do not have to diet, a way of eating that can autopilot and course-correct without tipping into obsession. I operate pretty comfortably in the range of about 177-185: when I go above 185, I tighten up a little until I'm closer to 180. I eat basically ad libitum. This morning I made four strips of bacon and a piece of toast with mayonnaise and two fried eggs; I ate all of the bacon and about two-thirds of the egg toast. I drink a ton of seltzer (my surgeon said I'd likely be able to drink carbonated things again & I feel very grateful he was right). These days I'm devoting a little effort, a little thought, to maybe kinda losing another fifteen pounds or so, but I'm never going to be the person who sweats the fact that my BMI isn't below 25. I had surgery so my weight and my eating could stop running my life, not so they could run my life differently. I wanted my weight to stop being the focus of my life. I wanted out of the cycle of dieting, of obsession, of shame. I got what I wanted and now my job is to refuse to give it up. If I'd have to diet obsessively to lose that fifteen pounds I'd kind of like to lose, I won't ever lose fifteen pounds. Stability and sanity are more important to me than size.   I've worked with a therapist (the one I'd already been seeing for years) all the way through this. She's aware around both eating disorders and bariatrics, which has really helped. I always said to her that if I got what I really wanted, I'd be a nice stable size 14-16—I have built a lot of sense of self around fatness, and I was uncomfortable about giving it up. I'm more like a 10-14, but I was pretty on the nose. I do wonder if my identitarian attachment to fatness is part of what makes it hard for me to get lower than I am on the scale, if I'm scared to divest myself from a claim to fatness. I still have flickers of discomfort, dysmorphia. I was walking through a street market with the person I've been seeing a year now, who wanted to buy me an anniversary present. A bracelet caught my eye, but when I picked it up, it looked teeny-tiny. I said it would never fit. It fit. It's sitting on my dresser. I do the same thing with clothes sometimes. Whose tiny pants are in my closet? (I wear pants sometimes now. Before surgery, I hadn't worn pants since college.) And I frequently begin my weight in my head with a "2," as if I only read the last two digits and then just substitute in the thing I know on some bone-deep level. If the scale says 180, I say 280 in my head. Then I correct myself.  Sometimes people don't recognize me, and that's hard. Whenever I see someone I haven't seen in a long time, I gird up for their surprise, their compliments. Sometimes it's fine. Sometimes I hate it.  It's strange to be thought of as pretty, even beautiful. It's strangest still to begin to be unsurprised by that, to consider it part of the normal way I navigate the world. Beautiful is a hard word for me—the first time this year-long partner used it on me, I said "'beautiful' is not a word with which I identify" (why yes, I AM a delight to go on a date with, why do you ask?) but I've gotten used to hearing it since.  And yet I also think I look pretty much the same. My face is my face—its bones are all still where they used to be, even though they're more visible now. I inhabit my body the same way. I walk the same way, sit the same way. The swagger that sometimes tinges the way I move reads a little (or sometimes more than a little) differently now, but it was all still there before, too: I think often of a time that from behind me I heard a man behind me say, "Girl, I see you, walking like that." I was pretty much runway-stomping it out, I confess; I weighed around 300 pounds at the time. I think about plastic surgery, but have neither the time nor the money to consider it an immediate possibility. Part of the reason I'm thinking about losing another little chunk, though, is because I'd rather lose it before plastic surgery than after—so I do consider it a possibility. I feel embarrassed about my saggy arms, my saggy breasts, my loose tummy and thighs and @*#. But I can live with some embarrassment. I don't have to like everything about my body in order to inhabit it happily and completely, which I feel grateful to get to say that I pretty much do. With my weight and size stabilized in a place that feels good, I have turned to my life instead, and have been making some painful progress on things that matter to me. I have learned how many things I was, in secret often even from myself, considering myself not entitled to, afraid of, or simply deferring. It's time to stop deferring and start living. For me, continuing to fine-tune, to perfect, to define myself around what I eat or don't, what I weigh or don't, would only be more deferral. 

nimiety

nimiety

 

Making Choices

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

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

nimiety

 

It's alive.

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

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

nimiety

 

Just a List of Things I'm Noticing

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

nimiety

 

Taking a Spill

[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

nimiety

 

Goals and Other Mythical Beasts

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

nimiety

 

Restriction; Lenses

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

nimiety

 

Oh Hey Unexpected Freakout

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

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

nimiety

 

Stop Clicking Like on My Face

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

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

nimiety

 

Scattershot (Six Months, 100#, etc.)

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

nimiety

 

Making the Weekend Work

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

nimiety

 

New Year, New Numbers.

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

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

nimiety

 

Facing the Bottom of the Ellipse

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

nimiety

 

On Clothes and Covering My Ever-Changing @*#

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: 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.  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. 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. 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. 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. 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

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

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

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

nimiety