Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Series Post #2: Can't You Tell?

*- This series is based off both my husband and I's personal experiences of having lost 225 and 190 lbs respectively and how what you go through physically can also affect you mentally. Your experience may be very different.  As a reminder, I am not a health professional. All physical and mental health issues should be discussed with a medical professional before making any changes to your current routine.

If you didn't read yesterdays post, you can click here and read the first post in the series.

Once we saw how portion control and eating slower was getting our weight loss started, we were so excited.  I was starting to see changes staring back at me in the mirror and I wondered if people other than the Mr could see them too.  I remember very specifically that year being on Maui and calling my mom to let her know we were there and settled.  I think I was frustrated at the time because even though I'd lost weight, the seat belt was still pretty tight and it was discouraging.  I was venting my frustration to her when I said "I've lost 47 lbs and it apparently wasn't from my gut since the seat belt is still pretty tight."  There was a bit of silence and she said "wow, you've lost 47 pounds?"  Now depending on what type of person you are, you either read that in an enthusiastic tone or the tone she said it in that, in my head, sounded like "you don't LOOK like you've lost 47 lbs!"  I snapped "yes I have and the Mr has lost the same."  I was irritated and cut the conversation short.  I remember hearing that tone running through my head for a day or two.  Now remember that I was going from weighing 494 lbs to 447 lbs, I wasn't exactly svelte but dang man, that's like not carrying around a medium sized pit bull from my body and it wasn't noticeable??  I tried to shake it and let it fuel me to keep on going because in the past I would've gone into a "why bother" spiral.

As we lost more weight, I was going down in clothes sizes.  They tell people who are just in the overweight category that you go down a dress size for about every 10 pounds you lose.  Well, when you're super morbidly obese like we were, that number is actually much closer to 20-30 lbs per dress size depending on where you're losing it from.  When I found myself down two dress sizes, I was finally able to shop in a plus size shop instead of a catalog.  It was an amazing feeling but a feeling that only the Mr and I could be so overjoyed about because not a single person said a thing about our weight loss.  I'd lost 75 pounds and got nothing.  We purposely never told people we were losing weight because we'd been through that before.  That expectation you set with other people, the glances at your plate like "should you be eating that?", the feeling of failure if it doesn't work and the look of almost satisfaction from some people that seems to express "see, I knew you couldn't do it."  We had each other and that was all of the support system we needed.  We made the decision to keep one outfit from our heaviest weight, a pair of super elastic waistband size 36 jeans that just looked awkward on me that I had to order from a catalog and a t-shirt that I got at Casual Male because they went up to 8x and I was a 5x at my biggest.  It's always good to have when you're feeling particularly crappy because you can put that outfit on and say "holy crapballs, okay, I guess I have come a long way baby."  We both agreed that as we lost weight, we'd donate our clothes because 1) it's super expensive to buy clothes that size and if we could help someone that size out, we wanted to pay it forward and 2) we wanted to basically have a bit of an incentive to not gain the weight back because we didn't have our old fat clothes waiting around to welcome us back into their elastic cocoon.

When I lost 5 more pounds and hit the 80 lb mark, I wore one of my new outfits and this girl I couldn't stand at my office whom I thankfully didn't see but once a day at the time happened to catch me out of the corner of her eye.  "Holy crap, you've lost a ton of weight!!" she yelled.  She then began to spin me around and ask me what I did and the usual questions you get when you lose weight.  She was thin so she wasn't looking for advice, just curious.  (80% of the ones who ask that are overweight get this look of disappointment when you tell them eating right and exercise.  Some of them even say "oh, well I'm not going to do that!"  Refer to yesterday's post on that subject.)  A few other people heard her fawning and when I said 80 lbs there was like this gasp from many that as a fat person you interpret as "wow you lost 80 pounds and still have so much to go!  You're fatter than I thought!"  Hey, we're our own worst critic and immediately put thoughts and assumptions in others words and actions, it's just a mentality that is hard to break.  It's kind of like a double edged sword because if you're losing weight on the DL, the only person you have to answer to is yourself or yourself and the person you're doing it with.  But when people begin to notice, you have a whole new level of pressure put on yourself because you wonder if the people who are watching are rooting for you or against you.  Again...mental.

Over the course of the next few months, I was getting lots of compliments and even people who had already complimented me kept telling me how good I looked or made sure to say something if I looked like I'd lost more, which I obviously did.  I remember this one guy there who pulled me aside and was just so supportive and so sweet and told me how absolutely gorgeous I looked and it had nothing to do with the weight lost but the confidence I now had.  He said even if I never lost another pound he was so proud of me and was glad I was going to be around longer because of it.  I treasure that not just because of how amazing it made me feel and came from someone who was literally the nicest man ever but because he's no longer with us and passed at 51.  I know that is some people's worst fear, being outwardly complimented and prefer to just let people gloss over them.  It's not that I'm an attention whore and reveled in it but I admit it was nice to be acknowledged for all of the hard work we were doing. We got in such a good pattern with our weight loss that we knew we would buy a good amount of clothes at the end of season because we knew we'd be the next size down when the following season rolled around.  There was nothing better than being able to purge the old clothes and know the new clothes waiting on us were also 50% off!  Me loves a bargain!  ;-)

When you have a lot of weight to lose and you get past the water weight stage and into the fat loss, there are a few things that you can do to track your progress other than relying on the scale or other people noticing or not.

Measure- Take a detailed measurement of everything from your neck to your arms/forearms, bust, "spare and main tires" if you've got 'em like me, your hips without the gut, upper thighs, 3" up from your knee, calves and ankles.  Once a month, see if your inches are moving when your pounds aren't.

Pictures-  The thought of this can be scary but strip to the skivvies and DON'T use your phone unless you're okay with people accidentally seeing it.  (I've heard some horror stories)  Take pictures in the exact same spot with the same lighting every other month from the front, side and back.  You'll be able to notice if your posture has improved, if this or that looks more lifted or toned.

Journal- Write down measurable things when you're first starting out like how many steps can you walk up before you start to get winded, how far can you walk around the neighborhood before you have to turn around to go home.  (For me, at my heaviest I was at the point where I didn't even get 10 minutes into a grocery run and my back would be killing me and I wanted to cry.  When the day came I could do a full grocery run with no back pain, I actually did cry at the checkout!)  Every two months, measure those things and see how many more stairs you can do or how much longer you can walk.  Compare your energy levels in the morning and evening and see if those things are improving.  Journal the things you say to yourself on a daily basis and how have those things changed as you get healthier.  If you want to do something a little more formal, Fitness Blender has a fitness test you can do at the beginning and as you progress.

Next sized down jeans- Some people get jeans in their goal size and that's fine but I think it can be a bit damaging.  They don't even need to be new jeans, go to a thrift shop and get a brand that you know is fairly new, is just shy of fitting you and hasn't been subjected to "vanity sizing."  As you lose more, you'll feel them fitting a little better in the right places and the day you fit into them will be its own reward.

By keeping track of these things, the compliments will be nice side perks but the real boost will be in the things you can visually keep track of so you can be your own biggest cheerleader!

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  1. I love reading this story! Have an excellent day!

  2. I'm loving this series of posts :) Keep posting you two are so inspirational. I've lost 20kg (on weight watchers), another 10 or so to go. Never want to go back.

  3. This series is life changing. Thank you!

  4. I can remember a couple people specifically who definitely poo-pooed my efforts when why I was eating the way I was. One was a family member who actually said at a restaurant, "who are you trying to impress?" with this snicker on her face. I'd be criticized for choosing something that was different from my usual and it was inferred that I was trying to make other people look bad. For YEARS, that thought stayed with me and I take full responsibility for letting it be my excuse for not sticking with my plan. I was so insecure about having any sort of success because those I cared most about were going to be pissed off. So I stopped. And I got fatter and fatter and fatter. Interestingly, it was that same person who was then "concerned about my health" while at the same time telling me, "if you were applying for a job with me I'd never hire you, no matter how qualified you were. I'd see how overweight you are and it would be a red flag that you have issues." Exact words. I never forgot them and they crushed me. It was then that I realized my value came from a number -- my weight on the scale, and the size on my clothes. Heartbreaking.

    I like the list you gave of things to keep track of to give you the true story of how you're doing, rather than one based strictly on what you're feeling at the moment. Excellent post as always! xo


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