Body Image Issues

This is a painful subject for me.   If you’ve read the “The Painful Backstory” from above, you’ll understand why I believe I put on (and kept) the weight for so long.  It was a barrier of sorts and kind of  like a great big wall that I built to protect myself.  The irony is that it just served to create new issues for me in my teen years and my whole adult life.

When I clued in to this in my mid 30’s, it was like being hit in the stomach with a wrecking ball.  But once I worked through it in my head I thought it was going to be the key to fixing the problem.  But it wasn’t.  I had to dig deeper.  Took another 6 years before I was able to start.

Then once things started coming together for me as far as being successful losing weight and changing my attitude about exercise, I expected my body image issues to go away.  Instead, it’s just gotten worse.  Part of it is this massive amount of weight loss at my age has created a serious amount of excess skin.  When I come out of the shower every day, there’s a mirror in my bathroom and it shows me in all obviousness how bad it is.  I truly feel that right now I look worse than I did 121 lbs ago.  I know intellectually that in clothes, I look amazingly different.  But naked, I think it’s horrible.  It affects me every day.  I have talked to my doctor about surgery down the road, and it is a possibility  but I think I want to lose another 35-40 first.  But in the meantime, it’s an issue.

My husband, no surprise, thinks I look incredible.  He tells me this all the time, but it’s not enough.  He also of course wants me physically even more than before and I just can’t do it.  There is obviously still a lot of work to be done in my head.  I want to work through it and have spoken with close friends as well as my husband about it.  And I am trying to work on it.

This coming week is a HUGE step in this process for me.  I’m biting the bullet and have signed up to have my photo taken in a tasteful chemise as part of a surprise gift for my husband for Christmas.  I am terrified, but I am hoping the experience will be a step in the right direction for me.

Ups and downs week.

After last week’s tough time with my food intake, once I got back on the wagon so to speak, I figured I was out of the woods.  But after a few days of doing everything I know to do right, I am today fighting the urge to throw in the towel food wise.  But rather than filling my face, I’m choosing to blog about it, which I’m sure I’ll be happy about.

I think there are a few reasons for my struggle today.  I’m pretty sure it’s partially standard PMS.  My usual pattern is to have a few days every month in which I want to snack on savory, salty things.  That’s what this feels like.  But I also think it’s partially stress and even some stress relief, which I’m sure doesn’t sound like it makes sense.

First, the stress.  I’m a music teacher and in the next week I have 3 scheduled performances.  One this week at our assembly and 2 full concerts next week.  Even though I’ve done this for around 2o years, I always fight the urge to take how the kids perform personally as a reflection of my professional ability.  Intellectually, I know that the parents love what they see their kids do, and that the mistakes that the kids and I might be aware of are most often not even noticed by the parents.  The lead up to the concerts are always stressful for me for that reason.  I’ve also been feeling a lot of stress and anxiety over my sister’s diagnosis last month of breast cancer.

Which brings me to the stress relief…today my sister got the news that the results from the tests done after her mastectomy and lymph node removal showed that the margins of the tumor (which was the size of an orange at surgery time) are clear, the lymph nodes were clear, and the 2nd suspected tumor turned out to be a harmless cyst.  Such good news.  Why this is contributing to my desire to eat probably makes no sense to anyone except me.  During the diagnosis and the fund raiser I organized for her because of the loss of her income during the surgery and chemo and radiation treatments, I was focused on that and also really needed to keep up my exercise and was really well on track with my food. I’m happy with that, but I think now that the worst appears to be over it’s like I’m emotionally drained.  For most of my life, I used food to make myself feel better when I felt bad as well as reward myself when I felt good.  Even almost  years into this journey, I think old habits are hard to break.

The good news for today is that I chose to blog tonight instead of eat, but it was close.  I really wanted to stuff some of my feelings with food.  I hope this is progress and not a struggle I’m going to face for the rest of my life.  I’ve been strong and determined but I know that isn’t always a permanent state.

Thanks for listening.

Accomplished a big goal today. :-)

7 months into the beginning of this journey, I had made huge strides in learning to love exercise.  But I was a bit cocky in how much I had improved my fitness level (or, I had just been in such terrible shape when I started but was still way behind the average).  I decided to tackle what was considered to be a fairly “easy” hike locally called Teapot Hill.  Barely managed 17 minutes and that was with stopping about 5 times to catch my breath before giving up.  I was humiliated as I had gone with a friend and I couldn’t finish what we started.  To be fair, I was probably almost 300 lbs still and the first part of the hike is almost the steepest of the whole thing.

A year later, knowing that I had come a long way (and almost 90 lbs lighter) I tried again.  Took 8 minutes or so to get to where I had given up the last time and I continued on for another half an hour before I realized I was there by myself (stupid, I know) and the steepness of the drop offs near the trail scared me.  Turns out I was only 10-15 minutes near the top.

Today, a friend invited me to go and I almost bailed but ended up going.  And this time, I made it to the top.  Woo hoo!

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Clothes Shopping is still so weird to me.

I don’t understand why this is so.  My head understands that I’ve done the work to where I am now, but clearly I haven’t absorbed it.  I went shopping today for some clothing items and with a 50% off coupon in hand, I went first to the plus sized store I’ve always shopped at.  Even going there, I KNEW I’d be needing their smallest size in the items I wanted.  One of the things I needed was a well fitting, but tasteful chemise type nightgown for a photo shoot I’m doing in a couple weeks (more on that later).  And another was a shorter length (not because I want to expose my legs, but because I’m short) plain black skirt for the upcoming concert I’m directing at my work.  There weren’t any skirts to my liking that I could find, but I did find a chemise that even in the smallest size is a bit loose.  I spoke to the salesperson and asked about whether they had any skirts like I described.  She recommended that I go to their sister store that is mostly regular sizing but with a nice sized petite section where I might find what I needed.  That store has a very small plus sized section too but so small that I never purchased anything there in the past.  My immediate thought was that this would be a waste of time, despite having purchased clothing from the regular sizes in that store recently.  I had to talk myself into going.  Sure enough, I found the perfect skirt.  In the regular sizes, and not even the biggest of the sizes.

Better day today.

Glad my “fall off the wagon” was just for 24 hours or so.  Today was good.  Overdid a little at lunch (today being our Diva lunch (potluck that 4 of us at work participate in weekly) but compensated with a light dinner.  Then went to Zumba as usual for a Thursday.  There’s something satisfying that most people probably don’t understand in feeling in control again when you haven’t been.  Even better knowing that loss of control didn’t last long.  🙂

In the name of honesty…

This has not been a great day.  If I’m going to keep it real, which was always my goal here, I need to say that today was rough.  Not making excuses but the past few weeks have been so stressful, that today I guess I snapped.  Through what felt like the worst of it all, I was on track perfectly in my nutrition and exercise.  And now that things seem to be settling down, it seems that I lost it.  Exercise has been good still, but fell totally and completely off the rails today.  It wasn’t like the “old time” binges of the past where I wasn’t really aware of what I was putting in my mouth…I knew exactly what I was doing and it was a conscious choice to do it.  And while I have regrets of course (feel physically ill now too)  I know it’s different on the most important level…I know that tomorrow I will be back on my plan 100%.

This can’t be an authentic representation of this journey I’m on without this kind of honesty, so while it did occur to me to not blog about it, I think it’s important to show that I’m human, not perfect and that it’s ok to bounce back from this.

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Resumed my 5K training today.

The new shoes for running got their trial run today.  When the pains started weeks ago, I had just started week 2 of an 8 week “couch to 5K” program.  Week one was walking 4 minutes and running for one continuing for 25 minutes three times a week.  I had done the first of 3 week 2 workouts which was walk 3, run 1, continuing for 25 minutes.  I was apprehensive today about starting back into week 2 after no running for at least 3 weeks but it was surprisingly easy.  I have been so worried about moving up to 2 minutes of running at a time which I think starts at week 3 or 4 but now I’m not worried.  Bring it on!  🙂

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