Reflections after 2 years of this journey

This month is the 2 year mark since I began this journey.  There have been so many amazing changes to my life that I simply can’t begin to describe them all adequately.  But I feel like I need to try.  There are basically 3 areas that those changes fit into so I’m going to describe them here.  I feel the need to get some of this out because there’s a bit of a struggle going on in my head and perhaps this will help.

First, and most obvious, there is the physical changes.  I don’t think I truly was aware when I was at my heaviest how difficult it was to do so many different things.  Pretty sure it was denial of sorts because I didn’t want to face how bad things had gotten.  And having been heavy all of my life, maybe I was used to it. Tonight I was rummaging around the back of a lower kitchen cupboard for something and my husband commented that he can’t believe the difference in how I get up from that position now.  My fitness levels have now far surpassed where I thought I’d ever get, even in my wildest dreams of being thin.  The idea that I can now jog, and do it regularly, probably doesn’t sound as astounding to anyone else but me, but every time I do it, I am amazed.  Today, I was grocery shopping and as I usually do, I repeatedly remembered an item that happens to be at the other end of the store and I found myself walking briskly over to get it rather than figure out a plan to walk the least amount of steps.  Yes, I realize this is “normal” behavior but it certainly never was mine.  The physical changes and how that reflects in the clothing I can wear is just truly amazing to me.  Recently, I have been known to stand in my closet and just admire the sheer number of non-plus sized clothing I now own.  Astounding to me.

The second change that has become apparent to me is the emotional changes.  These probably aren’t as obvious to others as they are to me.  I used to spend so much energy putting on a happy, positive face for everyone else while deep inside I was hurting deeply.  I didn’t have the belief in myself that others seemed to, and so my life felt like a big fat lie all the time.  It feels like I have now reconciled the public me with the inner me and that has been so freeing.  This also ties into the knowledge that I have a stronger drive than I ever thought I possessed.  I am stubborn and headstrong and most importantly, I am stronger than I ever thought of myself.

The third change is the one I’m struggling with, and that is my body image.  You’d think based on the physical changes alone, there would be a dramatic improvement in my own body image, but in fact, it’s worse than ever.  I’m sure that makes no sense, so I’ll explain.  As I mentioned earlier, I think I was in denial at how bad things had gotten, so I did a LOT of pretending.  I see pictures of myself from those days in outfits that I thought I looked good in and as it wasn’t that long ago, I actually remember how I THOUGHT I looked.  The thought was nothing close to the reality.  Instead, I focused on parts of my body that didn’t reflect my weight, like makeup, my skin (I have always had really good skin) and my hair.  And here’s where the struggle is now:  With the dramatic changes in my body, I am very aware of it now.  And that includes all of the flaws I never noticed (because of the denial) before, in addition to being hyper aware of the loose skin I now have.  And it’s all playing with my head.  Most of the time, I feel as if I look worse now than I ever did.  It’s a constant (as in daily) dialogue in my head in which I have to remind myself of the good things to try to not focus so much on the negative.  If this doesn’t improve I may actually have to seek some professional help to work through it because it is affecting me so much.

Now, don’t get me wrong…this struggle isn’t taking anything away from what I know I have accomplished.  I am thinking it’s just one of the bumps in the road that I will get through, like anything else.  The positives that this journey has brought to my life far outweigh the negative and I am confident that I will get through that part.  I like who I am becoming and would never change the struggles because they are shaping who I am as much as the good stuff is.  I will get there!  And this photo shows how far I’ve come.  🙂

125 lbs gone!

Back in control…

…at least food-wise.  I’m still on an emotional rollercoaster and probably shouldn’t expect anything different until at least the Christmas holiday is over.  It’s been 2 days now of being in control of my food intake and I’m happy that once again, I didn’t throw in the towel when faced with difficulties like I have most of my life.  It’s a small success, but I’m counting it as a strong one.

Sometimes it’s important to be happy with the small things in order to not succumb to the bigger problems.  I’ve always been a “glass half full” kind of person so I need to focus on that.  I believe it’s a step in the right direction.

Really bad week.

On both a personal level as well as my fitness progress, it’s been a terrible week.  6 days ago I discovered heartbreaking news that suggested a level of betrayal of my trust that has turned my world up on it’s end.  Since then, I’ve had days in which I’ve barely eaten anything to binge eating in which I was fully aware that it was nothing more than a choice to try to stuff my emotions with food.  And to top it off, I’ve only managed to work out twice this week.

The good news, is that I’m honest about it, both here and to myself. My lack of ability to cope with this stress when I know myself to be a very strong individual who has overcome a lot of pain in my life sent me to talk with a friend who is a counselor about my coping with this.  That discussion brought up some of my issues that I know are still present relating to my weight issue and what I know I’m working on and a suggestion came up of a possible treatment option to help me totally deal with it.  I will be looking into that in the near future.

In the meantime, please keep my family in your thoughts and prayers.  This is going to be a tough Christmas.

Empowering experience tonight. Feeling great!

I had such a great experience tonight. About a month ago, a local lingerie store organized a photo shoot opportunity for women to sign up for.  Apparently they’ve done this a bunch of times, but this was the first I’d ever heard of it.  Back then, I thought it would be fun to do to use the pictures for something like a calendar for my hubby for Christmas or even a poster for the garage.  Not something completely slutty or sleazy, but something tasteful and that I’d be ok to be displayed in our garage for his buddies or any family members who go in there.  It was easy to sign up, but as time went on, I realized some bigger hopes I had for the experience.

Despite this weight loss, the accompanying health benefits and even some of the work I’ve had to do in my head along the way, I am nowhere near being comfortable in my own skin.  In some ways, I’m in a worse place than I ever was.  I am aware however that it’s likely because I’m opening up those old wounds that got me to the place I was in before this journey started for me.  So as I got closer to this photo shoot, I got more and more scared.  Scared that I would look terrible in the photos, that I would hate posing and that all the progress I’ve made would still be not enough for me to start learning to appreciate where I am now and where I’m headed.

I’ve watched in the past couple days as people canceled their spots in the photo shoot and I almost bailed myself.  But I didn’t.  As the hours ticked by at work today, I got progressively more sick to my stomach with nerves.  I arrived about 5 minutes before my scheduled time to find that they were running behind so I had more time to wait and get nervous.  The lady had a bunch of brand new stock (remember…she owns a lingerie store…) and I had time to look at some things and try them on.  I put on on this slinky little purple and black chemise thing and almost cried when I looked in the mirror.  I actually looked good!  So I bought it and added it to the rotation of different outfits for the pictures.

I had some taken in my regular work clothes (great Facebook profile pics, I figure).  Also brought with me a tasteful chemise and then had the new one I bought when I got there.   I’ll update when I get the pictures in a few days with ones I’m comfortable sharing.  😉

I left that photo shoot feeling empowered and feeling better about myself than I ever thought I would.  I hope that feeling sticks when I see the finished product.  But for the moment, I am feeling strong and confident, and that feels good.

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.

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.  🙂

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