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Five Months of Maintenance

Jen581791

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So, first of all, five months of maintenance success! Hooray! I’m basically always between 132 and 135, even when my calories and exercise vary a fair bit. That makes me feel fairly confident that I can do this. That’s a good feeling. I still wonder if I’ll be able to eat/exercise like this forever, and I have that old nagging feeling like things are going to come crashing down around me and I’ll start the regain process (again), but those feelings are a little quieter than usual right now.

Some NSVs: 

Swimming in public, pretty frequently. I’m growing more comfortable wearing a bathing suit. My thighs are a bit saggy and wobbly, but I kind of don’t care that much, particularly if I’m somewhere I don’t really know anyone. (I mean, deep down inside I care, but I try really hard to look at the bright side on this). I love love love swimming, and it’s been really fun to remember that. Sometimes I see a larger person rocking their bathing suit and feel like “Good for you! I was not strong enough to do that!”  Yesterday was my birthday, and I went swimming in the sea to celebrate. It was wonderful - the air outside is infernally hot, but the water is just cool enough to be refreshing. I also went to the gym on my birthday, which is its own NSV, I suppose…

I went to the Dead Sea last weekend (it’s a pretty quick getaway from here) and was totally comfortable parading around in my bathing suit, down to the water, back out to the showers (wow, so salty, gotta get that water off fast!!) and to the mud pots! Dead Sea mud is renowned for its healing/restorative mineral content, so people smear the mud all over themselves, let it dry, and then go into the water to wash it off. Like a mud mask for your whole body. I felt OK enough doing that (laughing pretty hard the whole time) that I was OK with another tourist taking my picture for me while I was all full of mud. Photo. Stranger. Bathing suit. I know I don’t need to explain any further why that was such a novel experience. I had a really good time, and I know that I would have had a really bad time if I had gone when I was a lot bigger. I would just have been too self-conscious to do all the things I did. I probably would have stayed in a long flowy maxi-dress and pretended like I didn’t really want to swim. Maybe put the mud on my face. And felt awful and depressed. I also found a place where I can float like a champ: the Dead Sea has like 10x as much salt as the ocean, so you actually can’t NOT float. Like physically impossible to put your whole body under the water at the same time. I may not be able to float very well in a pool anymore, but Dead Sea floating is a cinch. Vertically upright, I was floating with everything down to just above my elbows out of the water. Laying flat, it’s like you’re laying ON the water instead of in it. Weird!

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There’s only so much damage I can do at an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet! Breakfast buffets - like the fancy hotel variety - were always my favorite favorite favorite. And, to be fair, there are always a lot of good, healthy options there: omelettes, cheese platters, yogurt, fruit, and in this part of the world, hummus, veggies, and other Middle Eastern things. I’ve had a few of these now post-op, and although I’m basically never going to get my money’s worth, I can definitely find a wide variety of things I can have small servings of, which altogether add up to be a pretty healthy although sometimes too big breakfast. The size is very much self-limiting, though. Whereas before I would have had multiple plates of amaaaaaaazing things, now I can have really one one small plate not very full, and I usually leave a fair bit on it. I have snuck in some less healthy options on occasion (mini pastries) but the world has not ended, and I have not been triggered to eat all the pastries in the whole wide world. One and done. Not super, but not terrible. 

Some difficulties: 

I still seem to eat things that disagree with me fairly frequently. Sometimes this is self-inflicted, for sure: if I eat something too soon after having eaten something else, or if I eat too much, or if I eat something I know has caused problems in the past. However, it is sometimes a huge surprise: I eat something that should be OK, I eat it at a totally OK speed, I don’t eat too much, and still I have problems. By “problems” I mean I have to run to the bathroom and revisit my meal. This happens more frequently on vacation - unfamiliar food, not being in charge of my eating times, and being served large quantities all seem to be things that make it more likely. This is not fun, especially if I’m at a restaurant. I suppose I will learn in time, but right now there’s a lot of trial and error going on. 

Traveling. I didn’t take enough bars/shakes with me to Jordan, and I was staying with a friend, so I wasn’t really in charge of what to eat or when. This led to some hungry times when I should have had a snack, and to some bad restaurant times when there wasn’t really much available that was suitable for me. This is a friend who doesn’t know about my surgery, so difficult to steer my actions in a non-weird way when I was needing food for the fifth or sixth time that day, or not really wanting to go to a pizza restaurant for dinner. Also not a person with a firm understanding of low-carb or dieting in general. Some awkward times. Next time: bring more bars and other snacks.

Some observations on my body: 

My skin is tightening up some (come on, faster!). I’m also lifting weights a fair bit now, so I presume that is helping. I actually have arm and leg muscles that you can see pretty easily. Like even in my forearms! 

My hips and other joints are slowly changing in their angles and my posture is therefore changing. I no longer have a really big thigh gap - my hips have moved enough so that I have a very small thigh gap. This is a good thing, because it felt kind of weird, like my legs were too far apart. Biomechanics. I just move around better now.

My body is changing composition a bit. I’m the same weight I was when I got to GW, but I wear one or two sizes smaller now. Clothes I bought when I got to GW are now too baggy. This is also a good thing! It means I’m leaner. I don’t have one of those impedance scales (however well they work) but I can tell that I have more muscle and less fat now. 

When I’m at the gym, I look like a gym person. I look pretty lean and somewhat like I know what I’m doing. If I look down at my legs when I’m doing leg presses or whatever, I can see muscles working. If I look at my arms in the mirror when I’m doing arm exercises, I can see muscles working. Fascinating. Now I know why those horrible gym people are always staring in the mirror at themselves.

That's February on the left and yesterday on the right. Not much difference in size, but different posture. My arms are thinner, too.

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Some observations on my brain: 

I’m feeling more like an EX fat person now. I can remember clearly what it was like, and I can imagine my own reactions to various situations based on being heavy, but my first thought in most situations is not a fat-person-thought. The “I can’t do that” reaction is fading somewhat. The “I couldn’t have done that before, but I’m sure I can now” reaction is winning at the moment. That said, I look down at my thighs and they look big. So it’s not the body dysmorphia that’s going away. 

I don’t feel like I’m on a diet anymore. Partly this is because I have a pretty high daily caloric requirement (about 2000), so I’m mostly trying to eat more all the time instead of less <— (I know, if you’re struggling with eating less, this is not what you want to hear from me. I totally get that. Somehow I won the WLS lottery and my metabolism is pretty much “fixed.” I feel extraordinarily lucky about this and do not take it for granted. On the negative side, this means I have to eat very frequently, which is a total pain.) I still eat pretty much by the book, just more food. Sometimes I have things that are definitely not on my list of “stuff I should be eating” but they are occasional indulgences, and they don’t send me into a feeding frenzy, so that’s good. I had half a small Pinkberry on my birthday, and while it was good, the sugar was a bit of a shock to my system and it made me feel like I was going to have a heart attack for about a half an hour (no dumping though, for better or for worse). The things I really don’t eat (bread, rice, pasta, sweets, fried things), I mostly don’t eat because they make me feel bad, or too full to eat things I need to eat. I eat whole wheat crackers with cheese everyday (this would have been my downfall previously) but I can only eat so many/much before I feel full, so it doesn’t really trigger an eating binge. It fits in my daily MFP numbers, too.

What’s coming up:

I’m going home to the US this week for a visit, so I’m sure that I’m going to be facing a lot of family/friend conversations about my weight and appearance, and I’m really dreading most of them. I kind of wish it was all over with - like it will be next year, I suppose. Having lived thousands of miles from my people during much of the losing phase, I haven’t really had to face much of this, besides on social media. This will be real life, and I worry a bit about how it’s going to make me feel. There are some people who I’d like to tell, but I worry about whether they will keep this information to themselves. There are some people in my family with their own weight struggles, and I worry about making them feel bad about themselves when they see me. Oh, they’ll be happy for me, but also feel bad about themselves at the same time - I know how that goes. Wish me luck. 



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Your Dead Sea adventures sound awesome - I love the mud photo!  I'd say you were brave to do that, but it sounds like you don't really have to be brave to do it now - you're right on track and maintaining at goal!  Congratulations!

And as usual, your update is super inspiring - I joined a gym, but haven't been going, mainly because I get self-conscious.  NOT about my weight or appearance, weirdly enough - I get self-conscious about not knowing what to do, or how to use the weight machines.  And I know that is something that won't last, so I just need to get over it and get in there.  After a while I WILL know how to use everything, so it won't be an issue.

I'm so glad you're doing so well, Jen - great work!  And I really hope your family is gentle with you and that it's not as bad as you fear - you've done an amazing thing for yourself, and you should be proud of it, and so should they.  :)  I get what you're saying, though - I have a friend who had WLS who didn't do as well as I have, and regained a lot.  When I see her, I know she's happy for me, but she also feels bad that it didn't work out as well for her.  I hope your family members who are still struggling can see you as the inspiration you are!

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4 hours ago, Kio said:

Your Dead Sea adventures sound awesome - I love the mud photo!  I'd say you were brave to do that, but it sounds like you don't really have to be brave to do it now - you're right on track and maintaining at goal!  Congratulations!

And as usual, your update is super inspiring - I joined a gym, but haven't been going, mainly because I get self-conscious.  NOT about my weight or appearance, weirdly enough - I get self-conscious about not knowing what to do, or how to use the weight machines.  And I know that is something that won't last, so I just need to get over it and get in there.  After a while I WILL know how to use everything, so it won't be an issue.

I'm so glad you're doing so well, Jen - great work!  And I really hope your family is gentle with you and that it's not as bad as you fear - you've done an amazing thing for yourself, and you should be proud of it, and so should they.  :)  I get what you're saying, though - I have a friend who had WLS who didn't do as well as I have, and regained a lot.  When I see her, I know she's happy for me, but she also feels bad that it didn't work out as well for her.  I hope your family members who are still struggling can see you as the inspiration you are!

Thanks, Kio. The Dead Sea was really fun, who doesn't love to squish around in the mud? 

I hope you can find your way into going to the gym, especially since you've already joined. It does feel really intimidating at first, but just being there a lot eventually made me feel more comfortable. I spent a lot of time on cardio machines in the beginning, and only started with the weights once I felt comfortable in the space. Now I'm basically the only female who goes into the weights area :/ but I feel like I belong there more or less. It's a pretty low-pressure gym, with very few serious lifters, so it suits me. I feel a lot stronger, which is really nice. 

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I read this yesterday but didn't have time to respond til today....I need more hours in my days! 

First oa all, how fun is the mud pack, way awesome!  Secondly, photos don't lie....if you look at that pic (not at yourself), you will see what we see, a marvelous, thin girl (who doesn't have big thighs!)  I think being photographed in a bathingsuit it tough and you did it so well!  You're amazing!  So are your after maintenance shots, funny how your body is changing so much still!  You never cease to amaze me!  I need to see a current pic next to your before to appreciate it even more....I am just so used to seeing you thin, I forget your bigger pics! 

I love that you're a gym rat and i love that you're participating in life now (instead of pretending you don't want to swim...been there, done that!)  Love that you're loving life! 

You continue to inspire me....

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Congrats on hitting the five month mark! And happy belated birthday! I love and relate SO much to what you’ve written. I seriously wonder if the body dysmorphia will ever go away completely, but I’m glad you’ve moved to the “ex fat person” stage. It’s surreal to totally blend in at the gym, isn’t it? And I hope your time in the states goes smoothly. I still struggle with who to tell and when. I’m generally terrible at lying so when people ask me straight out, I have this internal struggle about how much to share, even though logically I know it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. No easy answers, but please know you’re not alone in your anxiety about such situations.

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Thanks, CJ! Probably next post I should put a before photo just as a reminder - I cringe, but it’s a good visual.

Today I’m “enjoying” being smaller in an airline seat - 17 hours of plane time is no fun, but better at my current size, for sure! I can actually wiggle around a bit. Hi from the Frankfurt airport. 

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Thank you, Rachael. 

Blending in at the gym is the best - it makes it so much nicer to be there. Good encouragement to keep going :) 

I’m busy today making my list of who to tell and who not to tell at home - thanks for your support.

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What a wonderful post and photos.  This post brought back great memories of my visit to the Dead Sea many years ago (I think that there is a photo of me as a teenager covered in Dead Sea mud somewhere in my mother's photo drawer.... :D).

Your weight loss success is an inspiration to us all.

I also enjoy occasional breakfast buffets as you can have a little of lots of different foods, but it can be hard to avoid overeating.

Most importantly, it sounds like you have really settled into a productive maintenance diet based on mindful eating.  

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Wow! You are killing it! You look beautiful! A mud bath sounds like so much fun! At a little over 4 weeks out from having my surgery I must tell you that reading your posts, along with everyone else, I’m am totally inspired!! I yearn for the day when I won’t feel self conscious in a swim suit in public. One day at a time, right?:)  I hope your trip home goes well. Although I haven’t lost a lot of weight yet I have noticed some people in my family, who know about my surgery, have made comments about wondering why I had weight loss surgery. At first I didn’t want anyone to know about my surgery but now I don’t care so much. As I get older I care less about what others think. I try to do what’s best for me and my health. I hope some day to have grandchildren and if I continued to weigh 273 lbs I know I couldn’t be an active grandmother. Happy belated birthday!!!:D

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Great post. Nice you mentioned the ways your spine / hips / posture are continuing to subtly shift. Good luck with the family thing ... everyone in my family knows now, even the ones who haven't seen me yet... he he he. 

@Kio Just go with a friend to the gym who can show you how to use the machines, or get a tour from the staff. You'll be up to speed in no time!

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Enjoy your time at home Jen. I'm about to experience similar when my family celebrates my mums 90th in about two months. The difference for me is that almost everyone knows now about my surgery (mother and father excluded). So I don't have to worry about that now or hide behind any excuses. What's done is done so others have no need to express negative opinions...with my success so far it would just make them look like complete tossers anyway. Those that could use WLS can also know that it's okay to talk to me about it if they want to....and there are many family members who could benefit greatly from WLS. 

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Your pics are beautiful! Yes, even the mud caked on!you are truly inspirational! Where is home for you in America? I wish you memorable trip. 

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On 7/18/2018 at 7:24 AM, Animalrescuer18 said:

At first I didn’t want anyone to know about my surgery but now I don’t care so much. As I get older I care less about what others think.

Good for you! I think that would be a nice headspace to be in. I’m working on it...

Thanks for your kind comments. You will have your own fantastic success stories to tell in your near future! 

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On 7/18/2018 at 4:10 PM, Aussie Bear said:

Enjoy your time at home Jen. I'm about to experience similar when my family celebrates my mums 90th in about two months. The difference for me is that almost everyone knows now about my surgery (mother and father excluded). So I don't have to worry about that now or hide behind any excuses. What's done is done so others have no need to express negative opinions...with my success so far it would just make them look like complete tossers anyway. Those that could use WLS can also know that it's okay to talk to me about it if they want to....and there are many family members who could benefit greatly from WLS. 

Thanks, Aussie :) 

I love your attitude. It always makes me smile :D 

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10 hours ago, Anita62 said:

Your pics are beautiful! Yes, even the mud caked on!you are truly inspirational! Where is home for you in America? I wish you memorable trip. 

Thanks, Anita! 

Home is small town Western Washington. Nice cool weather and green trees make for a lovely break from the hot. 

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ALways love your updates! I now have a new bucket list item: dead sea! I've heard about it a few times, but this whole floating thing has me sold :D 

Ive run into similar issues with not telling most people about my surgery. There are times it can get super awkward! I've started stashing a couple bars in my purse, but reading this is a good reminder for a trip I have coming up - need to pack enough snack type things for each day!

It's very interesting seeing how your posture has changed. When I was going through PT with my foot, I had complained to my physical therapist that I seem to have more joint issues 90 pounds down than I did before! She told me that it takes more time for the tendons and the like to catch up to the weight loss, to shrink themselves a bit and reorganize where there used to be a lot more tissue. This seems kind of "duh" to me now, but it wasn't something that had occurred to me before! 

You look positively amazing  :wub:

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@delilas thanks! Yes, the Dead Sea was a great trip. Lots of cool stuff to see in the area besides just the sea, too!

Definitely remember your snacks while on a trip - it so makes the difference between eating something inappropriate or going hungry because nothing is available instead of just having that bar or those nuts or whatever and being fine.

I feel like I kind of understood on an intellectual level that my joints and things were changing, but this photo really made it clear. The down side: no more butt. I have no butt at all anymore. I’m on the hunt for some good jeans that will disguise that fact, but in the meantime all my pants are saggy back there :( 

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On 7/21/2018 at 1:46 AM, Jen581791 said:

The down side: no more butt. I have no butt at all anymore. I’m on the hunt for some good jeans that will disguise that fact, but in the meantime all my pants are saggy back there :( 

No butt here either. Which is kind of a problem because I'm still carrying "stuff" on my abdomen: pants just don't fit right, even when tailored. I can have them fit my butt/legs OR camouflage my belly, but not both.

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