What are you going to do about all that skin?

This is a question I get a lot, I would venture to say as often as people with tattoo’s hear “How will those look when you’re 80?!”  To be honest I have no freaking clue, but I’m guessing it will be a hell of a lot better than carrying around a few extra hundred pounds.  I will probably do the same thing I’ve done with all the fat I have been carrying around the last 20+ years and that’s sucking it up and dealing with it.

I have a long way to go to get to where I’m going and it’s just one of those things I will just have to worry about when I get there.  I already see some of the signs, the skin on my arms, my thighs, my stomach and chest all starting to get a little more loose.  Of course as the fat burns my skin has begun to contract but I know it only has so much elasticity, I have no choice but to embrace my stretch marks.

For years I felt ashamed about my fat, my stomach, my chest, the marks.  I gave up going to the beach, one of my favorite places in the world, because I couldn’t stand to be asked about why I wouldn’t take off my shirt or people jokingly trying to check out my rolls or chest.  Eventually it was just easier to avoid the situations and the embarrassments altogether, I abandoned the shore, pools, public showers, locker rooms or anywhere I would be expected to take my shirt off.

After shedding 130+ lbs and about 7 pants sizes and 2 shirt sizes I am beginning to feel more comfortable with myself.  More accepting, willing to show a side of me that I’ve hidden for so long and to not be afraid of the ridicule or the judgement.  It’s not easy, the self doubt creeps in, the insecurities, but it’s getting better.  So no, I don’t know what am going to do about all the skin but I know whatever I decide it will be better than where I started.  Surgery is an option, if I can afford it, but I will no longer allow my skin, my rolls, or my weight dictate my happiness.

A picture is worth a thousand words… or 200lbs.

(A look back at a post from ~3 years ago chronicling my struggle and fluctuating weight loss.  Years of data showed I needed something to push me over the hump, sheer willpower wasn’t enough.  The frustration so evident in this post repeated itself every few months, the same cycle over and over, lose weight, gain it back, rinse and repeat until I decided to have the surgery.  Over a year before the surgery I started preparing mentally and in my diet, the 130lbs+ I have lost are just as much from the hard work I put in before, if not more so, than the immediate effects of the surgery.  Anyone who says the surgery is cheating doesn’t know or understand the struggle we go through on a daily basis.)

I came across a picture of myself from a friends wedding taken 9 years ago and I am shocked at how much less I weighed back then.  Body image is always part of being a fat person, and many times it’s that you simply don’t believe you are as large as you are or weigh as much as you do.

I had convinced myself for so long that I weighed the same amount because I didn’t have a scale to weigh myself on.  I was shocked a few years ago to see how much I had gained  (nearly 200lbs) even though I knew my clothes sizes had gone up and that on the few rare occasions I looked in the mirror I was appalled by what I saw.  You learn to ignore mirrors, maybe just look at your face, your hair, your teeth.

Fast forward a few years and I am down about 40lbs but I feel the same as before.  I had actually forgotten that for a long time I was smaller, much smaller.  Even when I was “bigger” like 9 years ago I was nearly half the size I am now.  Yet in my mind I have been this large “forever” and it seems impossible to get back down to where I was.  Like I had convinced myself even if I lost the weight nobody would notice.

Maybe its because I avoided pictures being taken of me for so long I had nothing to compare it to.  Or that its all part of the self sabotage of being and staying fat that I had convinced myself it wasn’t worth it to lose the weight, that it was too much work and nobody would notice, or there wouldn’t be much of a difference.  Maybe that picture is what I need to get motivated again, for although that was still heavier than what would be considered “healthy” it would be a hell of a lot better than where I am now.

The lies we tell ourselves, why I chose gastric sleeve

(This is a post from my personal blog from January 2017)

It’s been a while since I have written on here but as of late I have picked the keyboard up again for more creative purposes.  I hit some writers block yesterday and today my mind  has been plagued by something more mundane.  After Becca’s surgery last year I have been contemplating gastric sleeve surgery very seriously, something I have tried to avoid at all costs citing various reasons from not wanting to give up food, wanting to do it the old fashioned/hard way, or being afraid of future medical complications.  I know its all deflecting, procrastination, self sabotage but I have never been able to bring myself to go through with it or to get the process started (other than when I went for interviews for Extreme Makeover) but something has finally changed.  No not that I have a kid now, although that certainly has highlighted the importance, my perception of self has changed.

What do I mean?  When you start off overweight you go through different phases: “Oh I am just chubby” “I’m not fat, I’m husky” and it goes up progressively until you get to the point you give up even weighing yourself.  Maybe you don’t want to see the scale, maybe the scale doesn’t go up that high but in your mind your weight is the same.  For years I thought I was 350 lbs, maybe 400, until I finally got on a scale that went 500+.  My brain couldn’t contemplate a weight of 555 lbs, I didn’t feel like I weighed a quarter ton I mean I get around a lot better than those people on the tv shows who are 500 lbs but the number was in front of me.  When I tell people my weight they are genuinely shocked, “You don’t look like it!”  “But you lead a normal life!”  You let their reassurances assuage your fears, “It’s not that bad, I’m doing good, its not as bad as I think.”  Then you realize, “holy shit I haven’t even looked at myself in the mirror in years.  Do I look like that?”  Then you see a full body picture, something that doesn’t exist in today’s selfie world “Holy fuck!  Look at my stomach!  People see me like this?!”  You realize you stand in the back of photos, you have someone stand in front of you, you turn sideways, you do anything to hide everything but your face in photos.  Then the realization hits “I’m not just fat, I’m not even obese, I’m morbidly obese.  I should be dying from being like this!”

It starts to sink in.  You have been avoiding these realizations for a long time, you actively avoid seeing yourself that way, it allows you to continue doing what you’re doing.  How did it get this bad?  Certainly eating out 5 to 10 times a week doesn’t help, neither does sitting on a pc 8-12 hours a day between work and play, or eating at night, or binge eating when you are depressed.  Binge eating?  I never thought I binge ate from depression based on the ridiculous videos they show you in school, but when I stop and think I certainly do.  Those late night snacks, that happen almost every night when I let the dogs out at midnight count.  Maybe I shove some cheese or pepperoni in my mouth, make a pbj sandwich, grab some other munchy, maybe I am pissed about what happened in my game, stressed about work, can’t sleep whatever it is just jam something in my mouth before bed and it makes it better.  Then you realize holy crap I am adding an extra 500+ calories or saturated fat/sugar before bed, plus the fried food at lunches (pizza, burgers, mexican, chinese, multiple times a week), not sleeping as much as I should and it all starts to add up.  Maybe you don’t eat 6,000 calories, maybe closer to 3,000 but its all crap. Maybe its the second helpings you always have at dinner, or half a second helping, or that extra side order or two at lunch (oh add some nuggets, oh give me the soup and egg-roll, oh you aren’t going to eat those?  Sure I’ll take it).

That’s what is sitting around your waist, that’s what you see in those pictures.  “Oh well I lost 60 lbs that’s something right?” Yeah sure its great, but its so easy to fall back into bad habits.  Back to eating out for lunch, eating seconds, oh I hurt my foot I can’t go on walks, its raining, its snowing, oh the basement smells funny, oh there is people around, oh the kid is sick, oh I worked late… excuse excuse excuse.  The weight creeps back up, you fall back into your bad routines.  So here I sit, preparing to make the call to get things moving.  I know the hill is too steep and too far to climb without help, do I need the surgery?  I don’t know, would it help force change?  Yes.  Do I feel like its cheating and that I SHOULD be able to do this with self control and exercise?  Yes, but its been a decade and I am back where I started.  I don’t know if surgery is right for me, but I know I need something to help me effect permanent drastic change, my body hasn’t been processing food the same way, I can’t eat like I used to, I feel bloated, I have heart burn/indigestion issues for the first time ever, I had a kidney stone for the first time last year, I want to do something to make me feel better both mentally and physically.  I am repulsed and disgusted by what I see in those pictures, I feel like a monster, because its not what I see in my mind when I think of myself.  My reality and perception have moved so far apart that its startling when they come crashing together.

I’m tired of the lies I tell myself to keep things this way, I don’t know what my decision will be on the surgery but I am going to open myself up to all options because that’s the only way to make my perception and reality come back together in a positive way.  I can accept that this is who and what I am now like many others have or I can work to make my perception my new reality.  Time to conquer the lies, the fear, the procrastination, the self sabotage and actually allow myself to succeed for once in my life.

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