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  • Gender
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    Brooklyn, NY
  • Interests
    Books, culture and criticism, powerlifting, politics, feminism, the internet, wildly overambitious cooking projects, the theory and practice of fatness.
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  • Surgeon
    Alfons Pomp
  • Hospital
    Weill Cornell
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  • Surgery Type
    Vertical Sleeve

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nimiety's Achievements

  1. I had surgery three years ago today: July 28, 2016. I've been about the size and weight I am now for two years—two years ago I was about five pounds heavier, last year I was about five pounds lighter. I'm feeling pretty stable and solid—I had a little weight gain earlier this year, watched (and didn't watch) things creep just above 195 before I realized I needed to and could focus on it and intervene. I've taken most of it back off. I definitely had some fear and anxiety when I realized that it was happening, but ultimately all that I really needed to do to bring it back down towards a more comfortable range was pay attention, show up, bump it back up my priority list again: make the time to feed myself in a stabilizing and pleasurable way and not just catch-as-catch-can, make the occasionally-difficult sensible adult choices that respect the limits of reality and reflect my priorities and preferences. I'm just a hair under 180 right now, and my preferred resting place is more like 175—I do think I'll be back around there by the end of the year, if not before. I do still periodically go "maybe I'll make a big push and lose another 15 or 20 pounds after that." That impulse is primarily about clothing—getting comfortably into the size ranges of more limited lines (right now I wear a 10 or a 12 in more "mainstream" size ranges, but I'm more like a 12 or 14 in upmarket/designer ranges, and not all of them make a 14. I'd like to be more of an 8/10/12 than a 10/12/14). I'd like a longer line on the leg, so I don't feel so stumpy when I put on ankle jeans. This will also probably, realistically, not make it far enough my priority list to be actuated until my life is a little calmer. This year has been hectic. It's contained an enormous amount of uncertainty and soul-searching about my professional and personal trajectories, a lot of grueling hard work towards dissertation completion even as my other obligations persist, a lot of hustle in other areas of my work life too, several family medical emergencies, and a relationship that has some real hard spots in with its many vivid and sustaining joys. Among other things. I see a very good therapist twice a week. I am still standing. In fact, I would say I am stronger than I was this time last year, stronger then than I was the year before too. Things feel in reach that didn't then—finishing my dissertation, moving on to the next thing, and also just the pursuit of certain kinds of personal fulfillment that have never felt available, even articulable to me. One of the things that I have been thinking about in the run-up to this three-year mark is that I don't look like I looked two years ago. This is a little confusing: two years ago, I didn't have trouble recognizing my own face. It looked like my own. When I was fatter, I had, somehow, seen that face. I knew it was there. Other people didn't, but I did. I was surprised when people don't recognize me. But I have a harder time recognizing myself now. Not just my pre-surgery face (although that too; in Berlin a few weeks ago an old friend showed me and my partner a picture of me with her older son years ago, when he was a baby—my partner didn't recognize me at first—it was alienating, but I wasn't exactly surprised). Even my face from two years ago looks different—sometimes only a little, but sometimes a lot. Last week, one of my closest friends said, "Don't get mad at me, but you need new headshots." She was talking about the professional pictures I use, the ones taken by my university department (I wrote about them on this blog, in fact). She's right—they don't look like me anymore. But neither one of us could put our finger on why. I've gotten a fairly high-concept haircut, but it's not that. People tend to assume it's because I've lost weight, but I'm actually just about exactly the same weight I was when they were taken. I think I look younger in them (other people agree—but then when we look for the visible signs of aging, there's not much difference. I do have more grey hairs now, though—but really, I think it's a more ephemeral kind of youngness: something about the child that I personally was, intense and clenched and afraid and trying very hard and terrified of being looked at). I think I also look very tense. I think ultimately, the difference is a visible difference of selfhood. It's attitudinal. There's something about me that has settled in. I have settled in. In some personal way. And in some new version of myself, emotional and physical. With that setting in I'm losing some of my acute consciousness of the experience of size shift—it's fading, coming to seem further away. I was sitting in Washington Square Park a couple of weeks ago and saw some friends I hadn't seen in ten years and jumped up and said hello to them and didn't understand until after they'd left why it took them so long to recognize me. I have a fuller and more present self with which to identify in the moment, and I seem also to feel less concerned with vigilantly maintaining my identification with my own past (I like to think of this not as a divestment or a denunciation, but a new trust in the simultaneous stability and instability of selfhood). And I feel very grateful for the settling in—the parts of it that are about selfhood and personhood and the work that I have put into those things, and the parts that are about the post-surgical outcomes I've experienced and the work that I've put into them and the luck that I've had with them. Some people never get to settle in. This surgery is hard. All the clichés—"they operate on your stomach, not your brain," etc.—and then some. People have side effects and complications, people have disordered eating that's gone untreated all their lives, people have damage from stigma and shame. People have cross-addictions, or end up obsessed with food and eating and not eating and highly specific eating, running the same circles just in different clothes. This stuff is hard. And somehow, I have settled in. I have gotten what I wanted—not in a fantasy version where I never have to think about it again, where everything is perfect and easy without hurting or requiring effort, but in a way that approximates that pretty closely in the ways of reality. I can't afford plastic surgery right now and I have to periodically pay attention to the way I eat in ways that make me nervous and uncomfortable and I would love to be twenty pounds smaller and comfortable enough to go sleeveless and/or wear pants without covering up the bulges of my deflated belly, but all of those things are secondary to the fact that I live in my body, and identify with it, and feel comfortable in it, and accept its realities. And I have a baseline that works for me and my life. I remember July 28, 2016 very vividly, still. My mother was recently hospitalized at the hospital where I had my surgery, and every time I walked in or out the door I remembered sitting on the retaining wall in the wee small pre-dawn hours of the morning of July 28, 2016, waiting. I did not know what I was waiting for. I know more about it now. I don't feel quite as the same as that younger woman as I did two years ago, or even one year ago, but she is still me, and I am still her, and I still remember those moments of waiting from an experiential perspective—they still belong to me, and to my life, and to my sense of self—and when I picture them from an external one, I think of the younger woman waiting on the retaining wall not with shame or refusal but with love and compassion, with appreciation for my fear and my bravery and my long hard preparation, and my willingness to take a leap into the unknown, to make the best decision I could and try to trust. It's not over—because it's never over—but so far, the leap of faith is turning out pretty well.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. wow—right about goal on the dot on the year mark! Super impressive. The first year goes so fast!
  5. Here's my plan today—I've just finished lunch: Breakfast: big glass of cold brewed iced coffee with Fairlife chocolate milk Lunch: a piece of toast (quickly pan-toasted in butter; I don't have an actual toaster) with chicken salad (just poached chicken, mayonnaise, mustard, scallions, salt & pepper) and sriricha Snack: probably another glass of iced coffee with Fairlife; some cheater's kimchi (just napa cabbage shredded up into the juice of store-bought kimchi); maybe a flavored Greek yogurt (not together!) Dinner: ma po tofu (store bought; about 30 grams of protein for 400 calories—I usually finish the whole thing), maybe with some cabbage Maybe some ginger chews before bed, too, & possibly a glass of home-brewed kombucha.
  6. A+ thrift find! Woman after my own heart.
  7. You look fab! (Can I ask where the dress is from? Love it!)
  8. Thank you both! I feel good about where I've ended up (though I've never thought of myself as inspirational, I have to say!).
  9. Yeah, I agree with this. Letting go of my own judgey feelings of good/bad has been a trajectory of progress for me. I think as long as one's in touch with reality and feeling a sense of agency around one's own behavior and satisfaction with one's status quo, things are good. Like, I'd be concerned if I weighed what I weigh and ate how I ate and either didn't understand why it wasn't resulting in weight loss or was very distressed and felt out of control, but neither one of those things are true. I'm actually pretty much exactly where I'd hoped to be in terms of weight, behavior, and feelings—so it's very hard to feel bad, you know? I definitely feel that, about newbies. I totally don't want anyone to hear me talking about this and go "oh, it's cool, I'll just eat whatever and everything will be fine," because that is really not how that works. I also definitely feel the need to stress that I'm a person in eating-disorder recovery, which both means that I have specific needs around protecting my recovery AND that I have done a metric ton of recovery work precisely to make it possible for me to eat "normally" and adjust to the changes that surgery requires without losing my equilibrium. On the still-fat tip, I think I'm like right on the bubble. I'm a size 12 in most things, right on the M/L line from a mainstream brand like Gap. I'm also very hourglass-shaped, which means that at this point people mostly don't respond to me in a way that's defined by fat stigma (which they might still if I were less normatively shaped). My deflated upper arms definitely make me look a little bigger. Idk. It does make me more susceptible to criticism in some way than I'd feel or be if I were a size 6, but also I don't really care. Sort of the reverse—there is definitely a little joy for me in being a bit of a body rebel, still, like it makes me feel good to feel confident at a size 12 in a way that it genuinely might not to feel confident at a size 6. But honestly, basically I got exactly what I wanted, which is...kind of weird. And great! But yeah. I wanted to feel normal. And I do. And I really like it. I'm glad others feel the same way!
  10. Hi Julyers! Checking in over here too at (just after) the two-year mark. I'm really glad to hear from you about your experiences, and @Murk, I'm also really sorry to hear about your medical trouble (but glad to hear you've come through it well, and as ever, so impressed with your dedication). I wrote a little bit about my two-year mark on my wee blog here at TT, so you can certainly click through to that, but in summary: My high weight/surgery weight was 332. My current weight is ~178 (177.8 this morning). I've seen very slightly lower weights than that, but not much—like 174 is probably the lowest I've seen—and they were when I was still eating very low-carb (i.e. not carrying around water for glycogen solubility) so honestly, I'd say I'm pretty much right at my lowest weight since surgery. I hit the range I'm currently in just a little bit after the one-year mark, and have stayed there quite steadily for the past year—I think there was a moment when I was legitimately about ten pounds heavier, when life had just gotten hectic and I'd gotten sloppy, but it responded to just paying a little more attention and making sure to hit the basics (vitamins, water, protein first)—I dropped the regain pretty quickly. If I see 185 on the scale I tighten the ship up for a couple weeks until I'm under 180 again. Right now I'm thinking about what I'd have to change to drop another 10-15 pounds. I'm interested in doing it if it's something I can do without too much trouble, but I've also turned from managing weight loss to managing other life goals, and honestly, maintenance here is pretty fine with me, so if I have to white-knuckle or it makes me nuts, I'm cool; I'll just hang out right here. I may pull these down in a bit bc I get weird about photos, especially before/afters, but here I am at around my high weight vs. a couple weeks ago:
  11. 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!
  12. Oof, that one hit me right in the chest. Thanks for it. Yeah, that is I think the thing that I am saying. I feel pretty at peace, which is not really a way I have ever felt before. My earliest memories are of body loathing, or infested by it. It's a brave new world.
  13. I also had a medical record of eating disorder history when I went into the surgical approval process. My version included an inpatient hospitalization (ED-NOS), but I'd also done a lot (like a LOT) of work since then and was not actively symptomatic, at least not on the clinical level. I was also very concerned about being denied on this basis, but with the diagnosis & hospitalization on my record, I figured it would be worse if I didn't deal with it, so I put it right out there from the jump. My surgeon was very up-front with me; he said "that is not a problem we can fix." (That's completely true, and an ED can definitely mess with the feelings and changes and behavioral adjustments that follow surgery. If you don't have a therapist who knows what they're doing about that stuff—and ideally bariatrics as well—start looking for one!) But it was also not a problem that disqualified me from surgery—my therapist acknowledged it in her psych letter and expressed her sense that my recovery was durable enough to weather surgery. I was approved, and my therapist was, I'm happy to say, right. I'm two years out now and very happy and stable; I would say my eating is less symptomatic than it was when I had surgery and my emotional recovery has advanced significantly. I waited until I was really ready to deal, and then I dealt, and that has been really gratifying. I think the most important thing is that: can you say, with enough honesty and confidence, that your recovery is in a place to be able to support your health through this process? That cancellation you had two years ago must have been rough, but also such a blessing. I'm very, very grateful that I did not go into surgery with an active ED. I read Jen Larsen's book Stranger Here: How Weight Loss Surgery Transformed My Body And Messed With My Head a few months after surgery and it wrecked me. I cannot imagine how terrible it would be to deal with postsurgical eating, body, and emotional stuff while very much in the teeth of an eating disorder, as she was when she had surgery. There but for the grace of God go I, and anyone who's been disordered. I'm rooting for you and wishing you the best.
  14. I am always really glad when it feels like something I write helps something else. I have definitely been feeling like I'm checking in with some of this stuff in my head, so I may end up revisiting this space more frequently!
  15. 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.
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