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 ( 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?)