Tuesday, November 25, 2014

One Year

I like Katy Perry.  I don't love every song but many of them are singable which is more than I can say for many artists these says.  The last few weeks after seeing the mash up of Roar and The Brotherhood of Man from How to Succeed in Business on Hart of Dixie earlier this fall Roar has been in my listening rotation. I feel strong when I listen to it.  I feel confident.  I feel motivated to keep going. (I know you want to listen, so you can play it here while you keep reading.) 

I started A Ponderous Journey around the idea of the Hero's Journey and that there are many phases along the way and transformation is a huge piece of it.
Last November 16th I included the following: As a result of successfully meeting the challenge of the abyss, the hero is transformed. The transformation is the moment of death and rebirth. Often the transformation takes the form of a revelation, a discovery or insight about oneself or one's culture. This revelation involves a change in consciousness, a change in the way the hero(ine) views life.
The day I went into surgery, I was at the bottom of the abyss.  One either climbs back up or they drown at the bottom.  I have risen.  I have made it one year.  I am transformed.

 I have more to be thankful for this year than I ever have before.  I know it may seem cliche, but I am beyond grateful for all the support I have had this year and those who have cheered me on.  I feel like I have my life back and you all were a part of that.

I had my surgery one year ago today. Last July when Celia went with me to NYU for that first consultation I was nervous but I was ready. She diligently took notes for me, listened, asked questions, eased my nerves.  She was one of many, but she was one of the first.  

Instead of recounting the last year (I have the body of work here to recount all the details) I thought I would just say some thank you's. 

Thank you to my work community. From those first conversations after I had decided to disclose that I would be having surgery to the care package the ELA team put together for me, sending me off with warm wishes and 100% support...and later to the genuine questions about what eating is like when you have a tiny tummy and never a day of judgment or questioning. That support has been unwavering. My coworkers have cheered me on the entire way and I believe having them had been a large part of my success. The decision to tell them was the second best decision I have made.

Not only was it the staff but my kids have been amazing too. My advisory of 10 girls who were worried for me when I was losing so quickly and my disclosure opened up a larger conversation about health, diet and body image. And the day when I had made it into the smallest jeans I owned and told one of my classes and they erupted in applause. I can only imagine what it has been like for some of them to see but when my boss told me I would be a great example for my students, I was not sure I believed him, but I know now it was true.

To the Facebook community. There are two parts to this. First are the support groups. In the early days the connections I made with women having surgery the same day as I was were infinitely valuable. I had a group to compare notes with, ask questions, laugh and cry to. In addition to Amanda, Sarah, and Deborah (love you ladies:-) there were the larger groups of people from all over the world and at very different places in their WLS journey. The kindness and encouragement is one of the best parts about having an online community. There have been drawbacks, but you take the good with the bad. I am grateful for the support groups.

The second Facebook faction is my friends and family who have cheered me on every step of the way. Celebrating the victories and relating to the frustrations and setbacks. The connectivity my transparency has allowed me has been immeasurable. I received notes from people I don't hear from often, but I have always been honored to know they are reading my blog and following the journey. Thanks to you all for being my own personal cheering squad. We should all be so lucky.

To Samatra, one of my oldest friends in the world who was there to help every step of the way.  From the early days before surgery to the days following and then the months.  She has been there more than I ever could have hoped for and there are not enough thanks in the world to express my love and adoration for this woman.

To Andy and Vicki, when I have come to them and said I was going to do something they always trust my decisions. They know I am not impulsive and never enter into anything lightly. I hope that by writing this blog you have felt closer to the action despite being 3000 miles away. Thank you for always supporting my choices and rooting for me.

To Jenna, my amazing therapist. I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge her role in the last year. I have written so much about the head work that is required to be successful on this journey. I did three sessions a week for the last year and tore apart everything which has allowed me to rebuild. I could not have done this with out her.  It was a true collaboration.

And finally, to Charlie. Charlie I love you. Thank you for taking care of me this last year. Understanding when I got sick, going with me the ER, holding my hand, and finding eternal patience in the frustrating moments. You have cheered more than anyone for me and I love you to the moon.

November 25, 2013- 370lbs
November 25, 2014 336lbs (150 lbs less!)
One more thing...while the numbers are great, and addicting, it is about quality of life.  Less weight for me = less pain, less medication, lower BP.  I sleep better, I feel better. My quality of life is better. My relationship with food is better. I am stronger.  I didn't lose 200 lbs in the first year and that is ok.  I am not a size 5 and that is ok.  We are each different and this is a marathon and not a sprint.  I am only running against my own best time.  So if anyone is thinking about having WLS, know this: I have never had any regrets.  There are absolutely times when this is so difficult and painful I just cried but in the end, it was the right choice and I would do it again in a heart beat if faced with the decision again.

'Cause I am a champion and you're gonna hear me roar!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mastery: Quantative vs. Qualtative and Living In the Gray

Ok, bear with me on this one.

Today in our morning meeting with the teacher leadership and Administration group, we had a good conversation about what in edu speak we call Mastery Based Skills or Content. We discussed what "mastery" should represent in the context of student learning.  My understanding from the work we had done in August was that skills are mastered or they are not. You know or don't know. You can do or not do. For example: the student demonstrates mastery of the five rules of improv or not. You catch my drift.  There is quantifiable evidence collected and a grade can be given.

The conversation that evolved is that there are in fact "levels of mastery"... The gray...and it is not so black or white. 

Stay with me, I'm getting there...

I went back to read the comments on Facebook from friends who had read this mornings blog post about feeling successful and confident and all the complications that go with it. The incomparable Deborah offered a good reminder: that much of the WLS journey is a mind game and comparisons are inevitable.  It is a tough head space to be in but we all go there from time to time and it is simply a place of gray where we may need to flounder for a bit until we regain our footing. In addition, each person is so different from the next. Height, starting weight, co-morbidities, size of new sleeve, age....you name it and it is another variable in the equation that equals success. 

Who can say among us that we have mastered WLS? My guess is that even those that have reached goal and are in maintenance would say they have not mastered their sleeve. This process is not black and white. It is as gray as it comes. Our level of mastery will differ depending on all the variables that make up each of our unique equations.

Does not being the most successful, demonstrating the greatest level of mastery (losing the most weight the fastest) mean that we have failed or that the success we have had is not valid or simply enough?  This is where quantitate vs. qualitative comes into play.  While the number of pounds lost is quantitative as is my BMI, lower blood pressure, number of medications I take, rate with which I have lost, and average intake of calories per day or even grams or protein I eat the real mastery of this journey is the qualitative.  They are the things that can't be measured.
  • The feelings I had the first time I walked up the subway steps in Union Square and my knees didn't hurt.
  • Feeling beautiful at Tes's wedding in June when for the first time I was not ashamed to stand up in front of a crowd and be looked at.
  • Telling the girl at The Gap in July that it was the first time I had shopped off the rack in 17 years and how she told me how proud she was of me.
  • The experience of flying on a plane and not having to ask for a seatbelt extender.
  • Feeling confident enough to want to do a pin-up photo shoot.
  • Writing this blog.
It has opened up so many conversations and I have been able to answer countless questions and support others on the same journey, and many who are not because I have been able to live in the gray.  

I will say this: the person whom I referenced and the comments that were made is an amazing person and has been there for me in countless ways.  I simply needed to process my own feelings and this blog is my forum and I share it publicly.

My friend Sara called tonight and we had a wonderful visit.  She raised a great point that she didn't see what the person had said as negative but as a cheering on- which I am sure is how it was intended.  The reality is, that labels are powerful and I have worked so hard to shift to a new way of thinking about myself, trying to move as far from that label as possible. Easier said than done.  

I will keep writing and keep challenging myself and my thinking and encouraging dialogue and questions. Thank you for reading.

Dresses or The Great Impostor

Something I desperately want to feel comfortable in but every time I work up the nerve to wear one to work, I always end up chickening out and changing my clothes before I leave.
Today, I even put tights on! They are super cute and I got them on clearance for .97 cents thinking the usual, "If they don't fit now, they eventually will. "  In truth, they did fit and looked great and were comfortable.

What stopped me? What led me to a last minute wardrobe change that now has me running 20 minutes late (not the fact that I was up too late, over slept, tossed out the protein shake I had made because the consistency was too "sticky"...)?

One memory comes to mind. 

I had been teaching, 5 or 6 years ago, and the back of my dress got caught in the top of my spanks and my rear was revealed. The parent coordinator just happened to be walking past my room at that moment  and pulled the back of my dress down.

This moment and all the feelings that go with it are with me every time I dawn a dress for work.  Embarrassment, shame, discomfort, feeling like an impostor...who was I to think I could wear something like that. Something that my THIN coworkers wear. (Yes, they are ALL thin. Every single one. And some days it is still really hard.)

I still think and feel like a fat person. Last week when I posted the the blog post and photos from my pin up shoot someone said to me...something to the tune of... "Imagine how you will feel a year from now? Not plus size..." and so on... It took the wind out of my sails. It made me feel like crap. (I didn't say anything in that moment and I realize they may read this and I'm sorry for not speaking to you directly about it. It just really hurt.) I can't shop in the plus size sections any more. I am not as thin as the person who made the comment and frankly that is ok. But it hurt that they still saw me as fat. Everyone else in my life was able to truly celebrate THAT moment along with me with out caveats. The, "she would be so pretty if only..." kinds of comments that plague so many of us.

So I am still not in dresses. I'm still thinking like a fat person. I am still second guessing my 150 pounds in 11 months weight loss.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Dynamite Dames Pin Up Tour with Tess Munster 2014- NYC

I knew today was going to be one of those experience that were benchmark in my life.  I knew I was going to be stepping out of my comfort zone.  I stepped out, way out.

Last night I went and got a blow out- because natural curl never really works- at least not for pin up.  The nice ladies kept telling me how sweet I was.  Amazing wash (with head rub) and blow out.  14.00 Toally worth it.  May do it every Friday. :-)
Waiting for the blow out...
Sometimes I wish I had straight hair.
This morning, I got myself up and decided to take a car to middle of no where Brooklyn.  Traffic was horrible and I should have just taken the train.  I have to admit, I was having some anxiety.  The driver who took me was sweet and apologetic (like it was his fault) and got me there - 5 minutes late.  It was fine though. 
On the way there, trying to not get nervous.
 I made my way up to the third floor of a loft studio space.  It was a bit spare, but it was fine.  I didn't have many expectations so most things were fine.  There were three women there when I arrived who were at some point in the process of photo land.  Tess came over and greeted me with a hug (she hugged everyone as they arrived).  She is little and striking.  Flawless and comfortable.  She navigated between people easily and seemed a bit of an introvert dealing with the requirements of an extroverted event.  

Sarah and Jolene from Dynamite Dames Photography and  @charliegirl28 makeup kept things moving.  While one woman was photographed another was getting into hair and makeup and a third into wardrobe.  I picked out a couple looks- one more boudoir and one more playful, sweet.  
My second look-inbetween shots.
Jolene tied me into the under-bust corset you see in the picture below.  I have never had a steel boned corset on and boy did that baby pull me in.  I didn't get to see what I looked like until I got home later- and looked through all the untouched photos.  The one here is one of my favorites.  Tess took a series of pictures with everyone.  They were all pretty cute. :-)
Tess Munster, Model and yours truly.  Pin Up style
©Dynamite Dames Photography/ Sarah Hardcastle

It was an adventure and a great experience.  I felt beautiful and for the first time in a long time I didn't feel invisible in NYC as I took the L train back to Union Square or as Laura and I walked though the city together.  Thank you to the Tess and Sarah and to all the beautiful, curvy women who said, "Eff Your Beauty Standards" and did something that was just for them.

The Head Work

I am 11 months out on the 25th. Last year this time I was already starting to replace solid food with shakes. I was still jumping through the pre Op hoops and waiting to hear if I had been approved by my insurance company. All the feelings that go with that time are still so close to the surface. Will I be able to do this? Will I be able to live with out carbonated drinks? Will I ever eat bread again? What if I fail? What if I'm a failure? What if...? the list goes on and on.

As you all know, I have not failed by any stretch. I'm down 150 lbs. 12 clothing sizes and countless inches. This week though I was confronted with all the feelings that I had those weeks leading up to my surgery.  The possibility that I will have to change therapists has emerged.  If/when it happens, it won't be until after the new year.  There are many components to the situation including my LCSW no longer taking my insurance and not being able to afford the only one she is going to take.  Im angry and frustrated.  I have done so much work over the last 11 months and in the two years before this, with her.  There are moments that it feels all for nothing.  The reality is, that I am not the same Meredith I was last October.  I have done the "head work" that is essential to weight loss surgery.  I know I have the physical and mental tools to continue making progress and working towards my goal.  I am scared though, that with out the support that I have become accustomed to that I won't be successful.  I potentially would have to cut back my care after 1/1 to less than a 1/4 of what I have now if I want to continue with my therapist.  So the bigger question is, do I need that continued level of support?

I don't know the answers to any of the bigger questions right now.  I know that I do feel stronger, physically and emotionally but there is still so much fear of failure, a new feeling.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Cat Call or Objectify this Feminist, please!

There has been a lot of social media surfacing of late around cat calling and the implications it has for SOME  women.

I am going to start by disclaiming the following: anytime someone feels unsafe because of the actions of another, it isn't ok. Period. If a person is repeatedly harassed and this leads to a feeling of unease and danger, then the unwanted gesture is inappropriate and unwanted.

Now, I have had the most unique new revelations thus summer, especially in the last month or so. I have felt invisible. When I was 386 people looked at me. They always did. I didn't see it as negative because in many ways I didn't feel negative about who I was, the life I was living. I've been successful at work and in my marriage.

At about 290 I get the most attention historically here in NYC for my body. I have curves and those were noticed in a sexual way and I liked that level of being noticed even if it was not something I was taking advantage of, if you catch my drift. Now, at my current weight and feeling amazing and beautiful I have never felt more invisible in my city. People don't look at me on the train or on the street. I move through train stations without any effort or resistance. My body goes past the turnstile with ease. I am invisible. I am just one of the hundreds of thousands of people moving around in NYC every day and I go unnoticed.
So what was I expecting?  Maybe it's that I didn't grow up here and I make eye contact and smile at people (sometimes).  I see and notice people all the time.  I make up stories about who they are. I wonder what they are thinking,  who they love and who loves them, and what a makes them laugh.

I also notice good looking people. NYC is a place full of beautiful people, all the time, of every shade and shape. Among the beautiful people I feel invisible.

What does this have to do with cat calling. I would love to be called out, to suddenly go from invisible women to, well, visible. I do claim feminism as something I believe in. It's not able being or not being a feminist. It's personal and private and I dislike that catcalling has been made into something that feminists especially have to rise up against.
Own your own shit, women. Like it if you want, hate it if you don't. Cat calling is a tasteless compliment. Take it or leave it. In the meantime this feminists is going to enjoy any objectification that comes her way.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Song Remains The Same

MONDAY was 9 months since my surgery. The movement on the scale has slowed way day, due in part to sitting on my tired teacher butt all summer. (Minus any commuting or bowling.)I went back to work Monday and I am glad to be moving around more, being both mentally and physically more busy.

Here is the thing, my clothing continues to get smaller in size. I bought a pair of Loft slacks when I was In Seattle at the end of July and didn't quite fit and they did the morning. I know my plan is still working. I'm in a size 16 Lane Bryant jeans today. Comfortably.  These two pic are from 8/10.

Today at work one of my 11th graders was taken aback by my appearance. "Ms. T. you look so..." He simply stepped forward and hugged me, the gesture saying it all. I told him I knew that I had more visibly lost a lot of weight since the end of the school year. (It is easier to explain than saying the numbers aren't changing but the weight is.) Another student he was with asked what I had been doing and I told them that I had weight loss surgery in the fall and I am still losing weight. I asked if they remembered how heavy I was in the fall to which the big who hugged me replied, "You were not that heavy." (I love kids.)

So where is all the anxiety coming from Meredith? Fear of failing or not doing well enough.  I was supposed to go to my 9th month appointment Wednesday but there was a SNAFU so I didn't go.  I have to say, I felt relief.  I worry so much that I am not doing well enough.  That I should be going faster, losing more, getting closer to "onederland".  I have been floating around the same 5 pounds for most of the last 4 weeks...but the weight shifts and changes.  I can see it on friends faces when they seem me after a period of time.  Anywhere from 6 weeks to a few months.  Rationally, I know I am doing just fine.  I know I need to trust the clothing and not the scale but it is hard.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Milestones, By The Numbers

New monogramed Bathrobe from Charlie!  Love it!

I'll just dive in...

  • I am 37 today.
  • I am closer to 50 than I am to 20.
  • I have been married 5 years. (8/1)
  • I have lived in New York City for 9.5 years.
  • Number of students on average in my classes: 95%
  • I have 436 friends on Facebook.  I have personally met, worked, learned, or lived with all but 5 of them.
  • I lost 142 lbs to date.
  • I'm a size 16/18 on the bottom (if you are looking to buy me something).
  • I am an XL (Ok, I know that is not a number, but I have to put it in) on top.
  • I have written 64 blog posts since October of last year.
  • As of today, I have over 5000 hits on my blog. THIS IS AMAZING.
  • This includes readers from at least 10 different countries: US, Germany, Hungary, Turkey, Russia, Canada, UK, Serbia, Ukraine, and France

I know that 37 is going to be a year full of new and exciting challenges (I have one to announce soon, but not quite yet- NO NOT PREGNANT).  I can't even begin to thank everyone for your outpouring of support, reflection, encouragement, ideas, resources, and friendship this year.  Even though I don't get to see most of the people who read this regularly, or at all, your presence, even simply in numbers reminds me every day that the journey is worth it and that I will continue to work towards my my goals.

Friday, August 8, 2014

My Badass Moment of 2014

In a totally impulsive moment last night I took a risk but let me go back a little bit...

As many of you know, I am a fan of Tess Munster (www.facebook.com/TessMunster) plus size model.  I have written about her before and and how she and her work with Eff Your Beauty Standards have challenged my own thinking about body image (mine and others) and sizeism.  I follow Tess on Facebook and last night the following post came through:

When I saw NYC on the list, I had a moment of: This would be amazing!  I'm sure there are no more spots but I'll email anyway.  I heard back from Sarah Hardcastle of Dynamite Dames about the details of the opportunity.  How could I not do this???  So here is what I will be doing:

We are so very excited to be bringing Tess Munster to New York City for the very first time!!!

We are setting up photoshoots with her on hand, to help you!

She will be in the New York area for one weekend only, October 18-19

 We will be taking very limited spots, only 25 on a first come first serve with bookings. 

With the session you will receive:

Photo shoot with Dynamite Dames on TWO backgrounds - two different pinup styled shoots

Posing instruction during your shoot from Tess Munster

Wardrobe assistance with Tess Munster (we have wardrobe from sizes 0-28 on hand)

Makeup and hairstyling with Charlie Girl (you just arrive with hair dry and with some curl)

4 retouched photos of YOUR choice!
Also take a photo with Tess :D
Viewing gallery to view your photos to make your selections

Option to purchase all of your unedited photos the day of the shoot.

Refreshments will be on hand

Tess will have merchandise for sale too!

It will be like a party :D

Here are a couple photos from Sarah and Dynamite Dames that I love:

Mariah AKA Olive McCurves
So, on October 18th I will be doing my own Pin Up photo shoot here in NYC.  I can't think of a better way to celebrate this transformative year I have had.  I admit, I feel like a badass for even taking a risk like this.  It is brave and in many ways outside of my comfort zone but if I have learned anything it is that I am worth it.  I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge my amazing friend Mariah Bowers aka Olive McCurves who is a true example of womanhood, strength, and femininity for me.  Even though we have not been in the same physical space for 12 years, it doesn't matter.  You rock my world and I love you.  Check out this amazing woman!

I also want to thank everyone for your unwavering support and love.  Every comment, text, email, phone call reminds me that I made the right choice for me and that this journey has been worth it.  Is it October yet???
Have a great weekend!  - Meredith

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Dangers of the Social Networks and WLS (and any kind of "self-help")

This is a long one.  Ready?

Yesterday a woman I know through one of my last two FB "Support" groups for people who have had VSG expressed that she was frustrated with the FB group and seeing everyone success left her beating herself up for not doing more, being better. It is a hard mental thought process that I totally connected with.

This made my heart break for her.  I have been there.  The initial group I found was composed of people who were all having VSG from November 1-30, 2013.  We were all new and all excited.  There was one women who had her surgery the year before- I am not sure why she wanted to be in out group.  There were a lot of people who were doing "self-pay" in Mexico as well (something I still don't really understand, but I own that).  It was a good group the first couple months.  I did make some good connections- there are two women, who had surgery the same day I did, "sleeve sisters" that I am still in touch with-and there are a few others from that original group, but that is it.  I had to back away after suggesting there be group norms to make the space safe for everyone after noticing a lot of food shaming (HERE is a great blog post about what it is) going on.  Much of it had to do with a gentleman who was very vocal about carbs being the devil and offering a lot of misinformation about nutrition to a large group of people.  I felt very protective of my peers and wanted to speak up so I did.  I wrote a long post about the proposal and it was struck down by the group admin.  I made the choice to leave that group.  It left me feeling sad and like I had done something wrong.  This is not what support should look like.

A woman from the group reached out to me to touch base and to see what had happened.  This is what I told her: 

"When I suggested establishing group norms, which are not rules but guidelines that a group follows for the safety of all, I was shot down by X. As an educator and an advocate (and a New Yorker) I saw something happening on an ongoing basis and spoke up. I now seem to be ostracized from the group for raising a concern that I had so I think the best thing is for me to leave."

We exchanged a few messages back and fourth and she asked me to reconsider and let me know that many people had spoke up- privately, quite the redundancy, on my behalf and it seems the frequent offenders were addressed.  It was too little too late for me.

This left me floundering.  I looked for a meet-up but didn't find anything.  Then I found a FB group for people who have 200+ lbs. to lose or more.  That was a tough pill to swallow.  I knew I was different from the people who elected to have WLS and only needed to lost 50, 75 or even 100 lbs.  Having lost 100lbs before not once but twice in my life, I know it can be done with diet and exercise.  In my opinion, WLS should be used as a tool by people who have yo-yoed for years, have co-morbidities (like HBP, Diabetes, etc.) and have done the "head work" that I so often talk about here. WLS is a last resort, not a quick fix. This new group felt so different.  I didn't feel like I was doing a bad job because I was eating carbs or not losing 30 lbs a month.  I also had 200 lbs (or more, not sure what my final weight will be) to shed.  I had found a new home and it still continues to be important however boundaries are necessary.

So back to my original thought about what the woman, who is 29 days out is experiencing.  I will be 9 months out on the 25th.  There were people I knew who were hitting goal after 3 and 4 months who were in my surgery cohort and that did a number on my head.  When people were getting to "one-derland" after just a few months it hurt my heart.  I felt so jealous, like I was failing and was so angry at myself for reaching 386 and not making the choice sooner to have the VSG.  Reading through all the posts by my fellow sleevers was so hard sometimes. I needed to step back and take a break. The use of the online groups had to be on my terms and in a way that was SUPPORTIVE for me.  Even 8.5 months out I still have to step back from time to time to turn off all the voices coming from the interweb.  I know I am working my program and I can't compare myself to anyone else.

Now, I know that I too have a strong voice and I am not afraid to speak up.  I try to think about when and what I am saying and consider the person, as much as I can, and what they are going through.  I also come back to the same things though:
  • Each person is unique, our bodies, our experiences and there is no one right way to go through this process.
  • Always follow your surgeon and nutritionists guidance first.  They are YOUR experts and they have a plan for you.  While everyone online has the best of intentions and a story about what worked for them, most are not medical professionals nor have they ever met you.  Defer to your team first.
  • Do the "head work"!!!  This is as much about the mental as it is the physical.  Find a therapist and GO, at least 2x a month.  I go way more than that but it is what works for me and I have great insurance and I know not everyone is so lucky.
  • Each meal is a opportunity to start again if you feel like you "fell off".  Some of the diet mentality is that once you screw up your day it is an excuse to go through the rest of the day eating what ever you want.  It doesn't have to be this way.  So you don't make the best choice (I had a cold slice of pizza yesterday for breakfast :-) I had a smart lunch and dinner and got my water in the rest of the day. 
My journey is not a perfect one.  I have found support and solace in the online community but it can also do bad and I or YOU have to be the ultimate decision maker when it comes to what feels good for you.  I am going to a new WLS meet-up next week that I have hopes for.  To be determined. 

Current stats: 
Down 141 lbs. 
Top: XL (from 4x)
Bottom: 16/18 (from 28/30)
Shoe: 9.5 (from 11) (I know, right?)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Fattist: How Do We See Ourselves and Others?

The Urban Dictionary (I know, an incredibly credible source- I edited this definition but you can click the link to see the original) defines "fattist" as: fattistsomeone opposed to fat people, fat culture, and the fat influence in our culture; fattists believe the overweight [people] should be actively working to be thinner.
I came across this today on Facebook via Voluptuous Vixen, a community that is: "Promoting a positive atmosphere for CONFIDENT women who embrace their curves (and those who adore them) to discuss hot topics and issues." 

Tess Munster, Model
I have tried so hard to be one of those women-when I was at my highest weight (HW), I wanted to be a woman who said, "Eff your beauty standards!"  a movement supported and cultivated by Tess Munster, a plus size model who is stunningly beautiful and has confidence in spades.  It is so easier said than done and despite my weight loss, I find myself wondering all the time what the new perception people have of me is.  
I was talking with a good friend this morning who had WLS many years ago (lap band) and it triggered something for me (again): When will I stop thinking of my self a fat?  When will I stop assigning labels to my body?  We all know that labels do no good when it comes to standing tall-labels hold us back and hurt.  This, after all, is where many of the -isms come from.  Intolerance.   
When will the moment come that I stop hating on myself and just continue to become the person I want to be and not what someone else believes I should be?  
I had an interview this morning for an in-house position at my school.  I had to go to the Brooklyn UFT offices and interview with someone from Teacher Recruitment and from the UFT.  The suit I had planned to wear no longer fits so I paired new, smaller pants with a suit jacket that it a little big but I am not swimming in it like I am in the other one.  It looked fine. I threw on one of the new tops I got at The Gap last week.  I felt fine.  Defiantly conservative, but that was ok.  I used to avoid my reflection at all cost when I was walking on the street.  Today, post interview, I caught my reflection and I didn't recognize that girl.  I still expect to see the HW body.
Does this make me a "fattist" by default?  I was not ok with being fat.  I was never ok with being fat in large part (sorry :-) that it seemed like the world, my world, was never ok with me being fat.  How could I ever embrace my body if I always thought it was "wrong". I was "WRONG". I could assert that any person on a diet is a "fattist".
I don't expect my dysmorphic perception of my own body to dissipate any time soon.  I suspect the reflection in the windows on the street will look like someone else for a long time.  I can only hope to keep challenging my thinking and questioning the "norms" that pushed me here.  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Good Things Happen with Threes

The guy on the right is my friend and colleague +Andrew Levine, brilliant chem teacher, Doctor Who lover and bowler. We hatched a plan to go bowling this summer on Wednesday mornings at the Melody Lanes.  This week was our first outing.  It was a great time!  Toni Ann, another teacher/friend joined us as well.  So glad to have people in my life who are game.  We played 4 games, great exercise and the special needs kids bowling next to us offered great tips and encouragement.  ("Just aim at the middle!")

Later that afternoon I got to see Jill (thanks for coming down!) and Toni for dinner and drinks.  We started out at Vu NYC in Koreatown (32nd btw Bway and 5th, I think).  The picture on the right of the Empire State Building is from the rooftop bar.  Don't order the happy hour house wine, but I am sure the cocktails are fine.  We moved on to Wine:30  order the shrimp appetizer.  So good and always good to see my girls.  (We missed you Tes.)

This was today- Im almost at 8 mos out- on the 25th.  I'm in a bit of a stall- no change for about 10 days but it happens.  Thankfully the battery on my scale died so I really have no idea.  I do know that I fit into an XL at the Gap yesterday- it was AWESOME!  I know the clothing keeps getting bigger even if the numbers on the scale are stuck.  

Sunday, July 13, 2014

WLS and Reality TV

I was having a bad tummy day yesterday. I have found that sometimes a specific food is just fine and other days it is the kiss of death.  There is no predicting and that is extremely frustrating.  Yesterday I had a mini bagel from our local bagel shop.  In the past it has not been a problem.  It was toasted (which helps with any bread products) and I had light cream cheese- about 2 T.  It is something I do maybe once a month as focusing on protein is the number one thing for use WLS folks.  To compare- during the week I have a Chike Iced Coffee protein shake (20g protein, 2 shots expresso, 2g sugar).  I love it and it is a great way to jumpstart my day.  I make it in the bullet blender with some ice-which makes it a little foamy/whipped, more like a late, and it does not need any extra anything.  Sometimes I add some SF caramel syrup which is a nice treat and change of pace.  Ok, so all that said, a bagel is a treat and yesterday it was a treat gone bad.

When something is going to go wrong, it takes about 3 hours for things to "turn".  We ate at about 1030 and by 1 I knew it was going to be a bad day.  Sometimes you can tell right away if things are not sitting right- and not to be graphic, but come on, I have talked about BMs in my blog, purging it is the best thing to do.  The solid is hurting and having such a tiny tummy means what ever I ate if causing physical pain.  It had been too long though and there was not much I could do.

I don't know how to really explain what the pain is like.  For me, it is located on the left side, just below the bottom of my ribs.  It feels like a cramp but you can stretch it out.  I can't really lay down- laying on my left side being the most comfortable of any option - but laying on my back is the most painful.  There have been two times when the only thing I could do was just sit in my chair and wait it out.  It can take hours.  It is exhausting.

Yesterday, this little bagel was the bane of my existence.  I slept a bit, I tried some water, later in the afternoon I had some mint tea that helped.  I was beginning to feel better.  I was distracting myself with some TV watching and came across My 600-lb Life on TLC .  It is about folks living at 600 lbs+ who decide to have WLS, I would say in all cases to save their lives.  I watched the episode about James, a man who was 728 lbs. who had two other family members who had died from weight related illness/co-morbidities (his father and sister-if ever there was an argument for genetics and obesity, this was it).  The problem with the show is that they leave out so much- I had so many questions about how he was being educated, found myself horrified when they showed him going through the drive through and gorging himself on greasy fast food in his car (the eating in secret that I was so familiar with) and it made my stomach hurt and my heart hurt.  I turned to Charlie, who had joined me at that point, "He is not doing the head work. How is he going to do this if he doesn't do the head work?"  I know I say it all the time but the mental heath part of this is AS IMPORTANT as the physical health.  I have been in regular therapy for over 5 years (thank you Aetna for amazing coverage) and the last year I see my LCSW 2x a week-one double and one single session.  My therapist has been essential to my journey and I know will continue to be.

Like many shows on TLC they highlight the different and the curious- the extremes-that many of us are so curious about. We can cheer for the success of people like James but I found it more frustrating than anything to was left with so many questions about his care and journey.  I hope that he is continuing to lose and is closer to his goal.  I hope that he has begun to address the mental part of his relationship with food.

I continue to be proud that I didn't have to get to 600+ lbs to decide to have surgery. I wish I had not reached 386 lbs. and the pictures feel painful sometimes to see and to remember. Some days are better than others. The picture on the right is from this week- I am in an 18 skirt and I am still shocked that this is me.  I also bought a pair of skinny jeans, levis that FIT.  I had not wanted to even try them on when I took them out of the box- they looked too small.  They were not.  In fact, they are a little baggy on my thighs (and tight on my calves- but I guess that is the point of skinny jeans).

1x (7/11/14)
I also picked up a dress- a 1x.  After removing the ruffle that had been around the neckline, I am happier with the dress.  It feels good to wear dresses and to not feel so crestfallen when I try something on.
28/30 (Aug. '13)

I know this is a process and I have worked to be open, reflective and transparent here in my writing.  For those of us that like the voyeur quality of reality TV, take it at face value and know that you are never getting all the facts.  It is sensationalizing an experience and there is no way they could show us everything in 60 minutes.  I hope that folks like James are happy with their choice and continue to find success in their WLS journey.  It is extremely difficult and being followed by a camera crew would be an added component that would challenge even the most determined of WLS patients.  

I am glad I did this on my terms, my way.