A Whirl of Gaiety

This past week I let myself relax and partake in life.  I didn’t worry about working out and I made sure to enjoy my time with my students – though, come Thursday, I was sure finished with mother nature’s rain assault.  My second graders needed their recess, but it was so wet that the play chips were floating at my own kids’ school, and the field at mine was a muddy mess!  But it was a good week.  An easy week.  A happy week.  I kept an eye on the scale as well as my food intake and I’m pleased to report that I weighed in at 193 today!  That was a surprise because I’ve been to two parties between yesterday and today, and I was certain that all of my thought crime had done me in and undone my efforts.  I was feeling all puffy and swollen, so I was incredibly surprised!  But when I took inventory of my actual intake at the parties, I realized I made some pretty smart choices:

  1. I ate before I went.  In both cases, I ate a solid protein, whole grain and vegetable-rich meal which was intended to fill me up and keep me feeling satisfied while I was there.
  2. I shopped the food carefully.  At my work party I was pretty focused on the hummus made by a woman from our workplace who brought her recipe over from Iraq when she and her Muslim family emigrated here To the USA, recently.  It is the best.  Like, ridiculously, unbelievably good AND not bad for me.  I ate it with a bajillion carrots.  
  3. I ate raw vegetables with any of the dips rather than crackers or chips.  In the beginning I went for some crackers, but I realized what I was doing and, instead, dipped pea pods, carrot sticks, tomatoes and broccoli whenever possible.
  4. I avoided cake and cookies.  Once I start eating that stuff it’s like opening my own personal baked-goodness floodgates and I’ve realized that it’s best just to not open that can of worms in public, among triggers that get me going.
  5. I drank mostly water, and drank several glasses at a time, to avoid feeling hungry and filling up on poor food choices.  I didn’t drink because of the empty calories as well as the decision making issues that arise with a bit of imbibing on my part!
  6. Yes, I also ate one of my Dutch friend’s homemade caramel chocolate turtles, drank a glass of Christmas punch and even a glass of wine that tasted like the southern tip of Italy, to me, but I kept things in moderation at both parties.  Yeah, me!

I had a really nice time, today, at a baby shower for a friend and coworker who I’m particularly excited for with her impending motherhood.  You know how there’s some people who just feel like they’ll be marvelous parents?  Yeah.  While there, I had the opportunity to visit with some former colleagues who have retired or started teaching elsewhere.  It was just incredible to walk into the room to see all of those friends, familiar faces.  It was a kind of homecoming.  It’s been a few years since I’ve seen several of my old friends, so it was fun and a little embarrassing to reconnect and receive the admiration and compliments that come with a major weightloss like I’ve managed.  They were so kind and complimentary that it made me a bit bashful, but it was so kind of my friends to give me the feedback.  

They asked me a bit about the before and after life I’ve been able to experience.  It really has been like living two different lives.  A few things that I notice regularly…

  • I shock myself constantly with my appearance.  While I know I’m not a big, BIG girl anymore, I also am consistently surprised when I see my face in the mirror and I look so different than I expect and it looks pretty.  When I see the light between my thighs in the reflection of the mirror it still awes me.  When I see how slender I am around my ribcage I take a second glance, always.  I’m constantly surprised by my appreance and still haven’t fully adjusted to what I look like.
  • When you’re really heavy, you put yourself out there in a different, more forward, more vivacious way than the average person.  To be seen, to be valued, I had to be louder sweeter, funnier, more smiley and eyelash-batty than the average bear.  When you’re not heavy, all of that body language and feedback looks a lot like flirting.  A lot.  I have to watch myself in the store because sometimes I earn admiration from people, sometimes disdain or suspicion but often I get the lurid wolf-man, too, from my friendliness and that can be unnexpected and unnerving.
  • People really do feel free to assess my progress to me.  They judge me, but when I try to join them in patting my own back they often want to correct me.  I’m not quite sure why, but a definite before/after noticing is understanding that people have a hard time processing the change and, while you think they will be happy for you, it’s a hard change for them to accept and sometimes they are unintentionally and well intendedly mean.  It goes like this:

Them, ” Wow!  I can’t believe how amazing you look!  You’ve lost so much weight!  Good for you!”
Me, “Thanks!  I know!  I’m so skinny, now!”
Them, “Well, you’re not skinny.  You’re definitely lighter, but you’re definitely not skinny.”
Me, “Oh, I mean, compared to before…”
Them, “But you’re not skinny.  You have a while before I’d call you skinny.”
Me, “Ha ha.  Well.  Let me know when I’m skinny, then.”
And then I walk away feeling like a chump.  That didn’t happen today or last night, but you’d be surprised at how often I have to defend how skinny I am or am not with these semantics games.  I know it’s just conversation and most people mean well, but sometimes it can be difficult not to internalize their opinions.

  • I never got checked out or hit on as a heavy girl. At first I found male attention intoxicating. Like, wow. He actually looked at me. Up and down and all obvious, too. I’d take my secret in and savor it, shyly. I’d wonder why all the pretty ladies complained about such attention. It’s sweet, right? But now I’m a little more brazen with my eyes and I look back at people a little more openly. I no longer cast my eyes down and, instead, look proudly back. Sometimes men look and just appreciate, assess, smile and laugh at getting caught checking me out and the sheepishly move on. Sometimes men look and it’s different, though. Sometimes they look and their smile turns, creepily, they stare a little too long and don’t avert their eyes when you catch them. They linger, seeming to be unable to turn it off, perhaps enjoying the discomfort, and their look turns into a leer. I never had that happen when I was heavier and I don’t like this change very much; that’s what I mean by the lurid wolf-man.  
  • I’m more valued as a person by the general public. Perhaps it’s the people I’m around now, perhaps it’s my confidence in myself, perhaps it’s having had shed that thick, horrible skin that I wore for so long, but no matter what, now that it’s gone, I’m more valuable to the world. I share my ideas fairly fearlessly and assume that people do like me rather than the alternative. People pay attention to me in a different way. I don’t necessarily feel like it’s about my appearance, it’s just that I don’t allow my body to be an excuse for my failures anymore and I think that is something that is sensed by others.
  • *Bonus points if you know where this post’s title hails from.
    **And yes, I’m totally talking about my friend’s ethnicity intentially.  You would be shocked at the things that woman and her children are going through and tolerating.  

    One Comment

    1. Brenna

      I recently found your blog– very inspirational! I have found the changes you mentioned when losing weight to be true, some of them were a surprise to me.

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