Body Dysmorphia

Let’s just get this straight up front – I’m not griping. I’ve lost a ton of weight! But a couple things happened this week that pushed back on my ability to see the loss instead of the disfigurement.

We all have a little body dysmorphia, some are just worse than others. I have never been happy with my body. Scars from many years of surgery and most of my adult life spent obese, it’s a bit hard to see the rewards of major weight loss, but I have been focusing on the weight loss rather than the dysmorphia.

I started at 214 pounds pre-Mexico. Since 2013 I have swung between 185 (lowest weight in 2015 with blood clots) and 225 (highest weight in 2013 before deciding to divorce) and normally stick right around a range of 195-205 pounds. At 5’8″ the higher range is too heavy for me. I don’t look good and I don’t feel good. My eyes get small from too full a face and I can’t bend over or cross my legs. I know how to diet and lose weight but the problem was maintaining a weight loss once I achieved it. Over a period of 4+ years (where I logged weight very consistently) I had a 20-30 pound swing up and down every year. It was uncontrollable and unhealthy.

I’ve always said my weight is like and elevator, always up and down and never stationary for long.

My target for personal weight loss was always to achieve a stable 170 pounds. Never got there for all the years of trying post my mother’s death. For surgical weight loss my target was a firm 150 pounds with a potential for 140 depending how I looked at 150.

One of my closest friends just told me my face was too skinny and I need to put weight back on in my face (can your even do that? Is that a thing?). My sister in law saw my scars and screamed out loud that I need to hide those away as they were scary and she was sorry I was gonna frighten anyone away with those when I start to have sex again. Those were not the only comments, just the worst ones.

At first I wanted to smack them both – after all I’ve been through and they know I’m an emotional wreck, they make negative body comments. I know they mean well. But, really?

Then another thing happened, as I was exercising I looked down the front of my shirt and couldn’t believe the ugliness of the excess skin hanging weirdly from my middle. This prompted me to get undressed and look at myself in the mirror – naked is very, very tough now. But I hadn’t been paying enough attention until right now. My skin hangs everywhere. I even got into some “positions” or angles a man would see my from if we were having sex, and I was horrified. I didn’t realize the way the skin was hanging in my midsection. Then my boobs and ass….they just lost all their luscious, round curves and hang flat. My poor ass has terrible cellulite. Compound some seriously ugly scars to this loose skin and it is, actually, frightening. Then I get upset and wonder who will take me as I am without grimacing?

I look really good in clothes. I feel better with more narrow hips and legs. I sit easily and cross my legs with no problem. I’m no longer out of breath for no reason. I went from an XXL to a Medium in most things. Overall, my confidence is raised because I look very close to the way I want to when I’m dressed. It’s the naked part that just hit me hard over the head.

I always weigh and measure on the 20th of the month, so today was a weigh in day. I weighed 152 today. A total of 62 pounds gone.

This month I dropped 1.5-2 pounds. My weight loss from surgery pretty much slowed in Jan/Feb so, while I was hoping to hit my goal in March, it doesn’t seem like I could drop those last 2 pounds this month. I will be damned I don’t get under 150 and stay there a bit. Not when I’m this close to my adult goal weight.

So I am *so close* to my goal I can taste it. I dropped to 149 pounds for my colonoscopy and it was a little thrill! Now that I’m on liquids again for a week, maybe I will drop it this week. I’m going to get there. BUT, now I’m looking at my wasted body and getting upset. I’m trying not to. I don’t know if the loose skin would bother me quite as much if I didn’t have such massive scars (partially which hold my stomach skin by adhesion to the muscle underneath so it’s a very weird look).

I am trying to remain body positive. Having to reveal myself during sex is going to be tough, much tougher than anticipated. I also realize that I’ve been actively disengaging from the dating scene because I’m getting in a funk over being sick (or even being down and out for a few days the last couple weeks) and not wanting to explain my medical marvel of a history to anyone.

I Trapped Myself

I acknowledge that I am stuck in repetitive negative thoughts. The patterns are so immersed that I believe my brain processes the obsession as my normal cognitive behavior. When I don’t “get what I need/expect” I fight for it.

Fighting for it got me into a hole I nearly didn’t get out of last year.

I fought with my boss and had to leave a job. I fought with my children and still have one relationship that needs mending. I fought with Tony until I made him despise me. Even though, at times, I knew I should stop pushing, it felt like I was wired to defeat myself.

I had trapped myself into my own bad behaviors.

I tried to convince myself that going to Mexico was a reset button for me. If I could lose the weight other things would fall in place. Again, really bad thinking on my part. I know part of it was severe depression because I didn’t want to care if I died. I thought if I could feel physically better about myself, perhaps the emotional duress would lessen.

That’s clearly not what happened. I made everything much, much worse before it even started to level out these past few weeks.

Learning to get out of these behaviors is taking a toll on me. I am doing what I can which is primarily holdings myself accountable by writing out the damaging behaviors as well as redirection and create new, healthy patterns.

I actively try to stop my obsessive thoughts by interrupting myself. My brain is so powerful it can bring me right back to the unwanted and uncomfortable thoughts and I can’t exercise it away all day and night. I have disputed my sleep pattern despite including significant activity in my day. I disrupted my eating pattern and found the old habit of not thinking what was going hand-to-mouth too easy to fall back into.

I stopped the poor eating (there was a different trigger there will talk about in a separate post). Now I am going to figure out exactly what I need to build in my brain to stop the obsessive thoughts. I need a mini activity (even a brain activity, doesn’t have to be physical) that I do each time I begin to obsess. I need a replacement thought.

As much as I currently feel like my life was ruined, I want to begin believing it is simply changed. I have the power to begin making new and different choices. Choices that are better for me. I am not alone. People have lived through heartbreak and come out stronger the other side. I can too.

I hate self talk like I hate exercise but I’ve got to try something different. I may even make a vision board.

Sweat it Out

I did something disruptive today.

I was soooo tired this morning. My alarm didn’t go off and I had to take the boy to school early so jumped up just in time. But, even after 2 cups of coffee I was getting sleepy again by 10am.

I had an outplacement call at 10:30 and couldn’t allow for a nap, but I didn’t really WANT to nap. I wanted to feel better.

So I tried something else – I got on the Peloton for 10 minutes and climbed a hill!

In 10 minutes my heart was racing and I was sweating and pushing myself!

Woke me right the fuck up!

The best news is that I was lively and engaged in my outplacement call and did really well in my SMART stories for my practice interviews!

10 minutes of sweat changed my entire outlook on my morning.

Something is starting to change, not a habit yet, but I am developing an apathy to being sickly/sleepy/sedentary anymore. I had my sick/down time and I have no reason to take it down so far again.

I’m just thrilled that 10 minutes activated me the the way it did!

I Only Wear Yoga Pants

I’ve become “that” Mom. I have resorted to only wearing yoga pants.

I admit I never, ever saw this coming in my life.

I’ve lost about 60+ pounds and currently the lowest weight I can recall in 2 decades. I needed clothes, and being unemployed, I was careful with my purchases. 2 pairs of jeans, a dress, a few sweaters, some T-shirt’s and a bunch of yoga pants.

I now live in the yoga pants. I don’t even care when my lack-of-ass shows. I go out in public in my yoga pants. I choose my yoga pants over my jeans. Except on dates, dates get jeans.

Of course, I lived in black leggings before because jeans were so uncomfortable. But they were styled with long tunics and work appropriate. Lots of cute dresses. Now I’m thinner than ever and can rock some cool jeans, and I’m opting for Mom-wear!

I also go out with no makeup. Horrors!

I generally do brush my hair.

It’s so easy to get lazy – or perhaps because I’m thin once again I don’t care as much about the other things? Either way, it’s a whole lot of less effort and much more comfortable. Maybe I’m getting more comfortable in my own skin?

I consider this progression from loose pajamas, no bra and 2 sizes too big sweatpants! At least I am presentable should someone ring the doorbell!

However, if my work associates could see me now…it would not go over well!

Follow Through

Did I follow through on the most important goal I set for myself Tuesday?

Yes!

I wrote out 4 SMART stories before my call with the outplacement consultant. Her job is to help me finesse those stories into compelling statements that will say ” this is why you hire me and not someone else.” I actually asked a respected work friend if they agreed on those stories as my strongest in her memory – because I want to be sure this is how others view me as well.

I even sent out one resume and 2 emails for networking. It really isn’t a back-breaker but this morning made me realize it’s something I have to schedule in as a must do.

I was very distracted so it took me a period of 3.5 hours to do this task. The stories are not easy and required a bit of thinking, but I was avoiding them. The emails and networking was a no-brainer. I have firmly decided I am going to be sure to include a FOCUSED half hour each day to be done before 11am.

In my own crazy, cracked way – this upset my flow a little, my mind started thinking “how can we get out of exercise today?” Almost like “we’ve accomplished enough already!” Ummmm, no. That’s become a non-negotiable.

I acknowledge that my mind plays a game of trade-offs “If you do this Mads, then maybe you don’t have to do that other thing you don’t really want to do anyway.” It was fine to start that way when I was tired and broken. It’s not fine to stay there anymore. It’s March and I’ve got to get up off the floor. I’ve lost, I’ve hit rock bottom, I gave up and I gave in. I quit the game as close as possible. But, something (call it a greater power or my own willfulness) kept me around. I’m here. So I can continue to be a wasteful slug, or I can get going.

This is a psychological battle for me that I need to change. Because, seated somewhere deep within is my drive, my desire, to do more.

I can’t quite dig it out from under, my drive, but it’s like digging that never-ending hole in the sand st the beach ….. you know eventually you are going to hit water…. just a little further because you know in your gut it’s there – you can sense it.

As I’m sitting here having my second cup of coffee I realize I have the privilege of time at the moment – a luxury I’ve never had. I’ve already squandered a bunch of precious time in my healing and debilitating obsession and depression, but now that I am almost fully physically healed, I need to strengthen myself both emotionally, intellectually and physically. The only way I can continue to do this is by small changes each day or week.

I’ve committed to adding the half hour work focus at least 3 times a week (I don’t even need 5 days) and believe it’s totally doable to add in before I start my exercise routine.

In order to convince myself, I did find a trade-off I can make, temporarily. If I want a break, a time-out, a pity party or whatever we want to call it – I’m going to take it. But I can’t do it more than once a week. Consider it like looking towards a weekend food or drink binge after a hard weeks work. My brain and body still feel like I’m pushing them too far and too hard and they like to revolt every chance they get – so I’m gonna let them revolt, on a sort of schedule. I’m in the midst of analyzing my last 4 full weeks of effort (I am 26 straight days and refuse to do less than a 30 day streak) and come up with a plan of attack of how I can exercise, work, be lazy, and do life stuff (like any normally human does – but I’m not quite back to normal). I think getting a schedule together after this month is a good idea to begin thinking about how I spend my time and use that time more wisely.

I’ve agreed with myself that a pity party cannot include eliminating the gains I’ve made in exercise. I’ve studied up on active recovery days and that’s how I can use my “lazy day”. I get to shut off my mind and veg if I want, but I’ve got to get in a minimum amount of activity.

I got this.

March Goals (and those niggling carry-overs from Jan/Feb)

Honestly, I didn’t even get to all my January goals, but I got to most. I set a few new goals for February so I could catch up.

Now we are into March and there’s a bit of financial panic setting in, but strangely enough not to light a bonfire under my ass. I am still disconnected. And there’s a part of me saying this is still ok, I’m not fully ready to function in the real world.

Then there’s the part of me that’s saying “get your ass in gear and stop being lazy.”

Let’s see what I did accomplish in February : (J) means it was a January goal, (F) February and so on…

Work

(J) Review and edit my resume and social profiles: complete

(J) Make a list of contacts and actively begin a search: have not started

(J) Utilize outplacement website and webinars: have completed 3, did not not schedule the 2 I said I would.  I need to pay attention.

(J) Ensure all job search sites are set up properly for my searches: have not completed, needs fine tuning – remains the same

(F) Commit to Mindfulness and set a clear intent: I took a bulletproof confidence webinar AND I won a free 1:1 consulting session based on my participation.  This is something to look forward to! Not started.

(M) Create a Personal Value Proposition (PVP) for interview storytelling – something the outplacement advisor has given me to do for OVER a month.  I keep postponing our TB.  I am determined to knock this out on Tuesday March 5.  Period.

*Not a good track record, really.  WTF.

 

Personal

(J) Choose an exercise to stick with and develop a routine: I set up my screen sharing, turned on the Peloton service, bought a small weight set and set the room up for success. Now, just to actually exercise. Done! 22 days straight of healthy, sweaty fitness!

(J) Learn yoga or meditation: I need to keep reminding myself this is good for me. Done! Started a little of both and still in the practice stage but incorporate into my routine each week.

(J) Migrate addresses and birthdays to phone: started, not completed. No movement.

(F) Fine tune Keto eating by logging and watching macros – I was consuming too many calories. Done! Most of my carb cravings are done. There’s some emotional craving when I see bread, pizza and pasta but not a physical craving anymore.

*Big win here!  Hooray!  Go me!  I am making a new habit.

Finance

(F) Remember unemployment Monday’s. Missed one but otherwise on track.

(F) Follow up on Bond processing. Done! It’s in the treasury hands and complete, just waiting on processing.

(F) Sort out parents trust and accounts. Started with their largest accounts, about halfway there.

(M) Taxes: Did Dad, next is mine.

(M) Determine finances for potential 3 month unemployment ahead: yikes.

*Can I avoid this list altogether?

 

 

Home

(J) Deep clean: bathroom floors/grout: still haven’t given this a second thought. Nope.

(J) Put away Christmas decor: some things were still lingering but got this done yesterday. There are 2 things lingering.  I will get to this before the end of this week.  Period.

(J) Help son re-arrange bedroom: when he’s ready, otherwise, I am not pushing. Nope.

(J) Purchase rug for basement and mop floors: haven’t given this a second thought either. Mopped and bleached the floors! Now for a rug.

(F) Deep clean couch in living room. Done! This felt so good.

(F) Purchase new washer and dryer. Done! They come this week.

(F) Call the handyman for a few necessary repairs. Need to do and have hesitated due to money.

(M) Choose 2 cabinets, drawers or closets a week and clean and purge: have started this and it feels great!

*Ok, half done.  I am going to get to the grout because I realize its really good exercise and counts to my daily activity!

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Wow! After assessing my list I actually accomplished so much more than I thought I did! I feel relief and a little bit of pride!

The true stress of the situation is the job search. I need to now incorporate 30 minutes every day for actively searching.  At least an active 30 minutes if not an hour.

I also need to think about a couple more significant  March goals that I should set  (taxes get me so stressed I didn’t think about much else).

Hit a Little Low

A little low, I realized, is much different than where I have been! So that’s good news, right?

I didn’t sleep well, was up and tossing every hour which is unusual as of late.

Wasn’t as motivated to work out as I have been the past 18 days.

Didn’t really want to move from couch.

Sort of depressed I haven’t focused energy on the work search. I’ve put my energy on exercise which I’ve been very consistent with now that I’m in week 3.

It was hard to determine work OR exercise. I didn’t feel like I could do them both yet. But I feel immense guilt that I have no money and no motivation to do something about it.

I am guessing the early phone call with my x about son #1 who is living with him for the past month really set me off. It literally disturbed my mojo and I lost focus. What’s most worrisome about that is – how the hell am I going to actually work if I can’t manage more than one crisis/challenge at a time. I’m not writing about the phone call because my heart rate will spike (it literally got higher than my cardio!). But, am sure to write about son #1’s current actions in another post. The recap is basically he is not coming home and may be dropping out of school.

That one (admittedly very important) thing really threw me down to the ground. I did exercise quickly after that but could not find my center to push myself. Maybe today just becomes an active rest day.

So I’m sitting here writing this post and mulling over when I’m gonna get my ass in gear for the job search. Whole-heartedly in gear. I’m half-assing it at the moment or not doing anything at all.

I don’t even want to get my steps in today. I don’t think it’s good to fall off a wagon 18 days in. I am going to console myself that I still exercised for 35 minutes and I will go on the treadmill for another 30. Again, not a hard effort, but something.

At least I’m doing better than my pre-February self.

How to Become a Morning Person?

How many of you are Morning people?

God knows, I’m not and never have been. I remember when my kids were small fighting through the cries to sleep a little longer, then ignoring the tugging at the side of the bed and making them crawl in with me. I created another generation of late sleepers and these boys of mine can sleep later than anyone I know!

My kids literally do not want to speak in the mornings. They want zero attention and need to be left alone. If they are awake at the same time, they will eat in different rooms with varying light patterns. One likes it dark and warm, the other likes the morning light from a soft couch and a bit cooler. When I say “Good Morning!” I get grunts of acknowledgement and I’ve learned not to push.

I hate waking up early. Anything before 8 am feels like death to me. And most years of my life I have had to be up somewhere between 530am – 630am. My favorite work years were when I could sleep til 730am and take an 830am commute. Yes, I was late every day but my industry gets a late start.

730am feels like a magic number for me, not too early and manageable. I’ve been taking my youngest to school every day just to get this habit going again. I’ve been tracking along my sleep cycles on Fitbit.

I’ve been reading a lot about habits and how the most effective people in this world have very specific patterns. One of them is the 5am wake up call. The thought of that literally makes me gag. But, no matter how many articles I read, one of the core foundations of successful people is early rising.

Ugh.

I’m just starting to work on healthy habits – any healthy habit that I feel I can build and STICK with.

So back to that morning thing…it’s been about just about 2 months that I’ve woken up with the kid and got him to school on time. I feel less internal argument with myself to rise now that I’ve convinced myself it’s a “mom at home” requirement. My older son appreciates that he doesn’t need to drive his brother to school anymore (he did it for 3 months while I was sick) and will do it as a favor for me when I can’t without any arguments. This habit has clicked over to automatic thinking. I read something that said adjust habits slowly, so now I set the alarm clock back 10 minutes. I don’t need the 10 minutes BUT my goal is to eventually train myself for a normal work routine again so I don’t find it overwhelming when the time comes (because EVERYTHING still feels overwhelming to me). So far, so good. The small adjustment hasn’t affected me and the same article mentioned I shouldn’t change my go-to-sleep time, only my wake-time.

I fear I may never be a morning person, but I do believe if I were just to grab an hour or two more in the morning, I could develop a better work/life balance once work kicks back into gear. I’m afraid that the good habits I’m developing now would disappear as I have the ability to basically craft my entire day around my exercise.

Let’s see how the small steps go!

Obsessing

My therapist suggested I write letters to whoever I need, then let go.

I have never really been able to get to a succinct enough letter for Tony or my x. I suppose that might mean I’m still to attached to all the reasons those relationships didn’t work out.

I’ve been waking up each morning subconsciously thinking about Tony. I don’t like it one bit because I can’t stop my mind from waking me like that. The pattern this past week seems to be the lies he’s told me and my struggle to determine what’s true or what I want to hold on to as the truth.

My brain is like a target missile when I obsess over something. Looking for the truth. Looking for the moment I missed the clues and connections I should have been making. I don’t even know how my subconscious keeps coming back to him. I am really and actively trying to NOT think about this man every minute. Seriously though, NONE of it matters anymore and I CANNOT seem to get it through my thick skull.

I tried meditation and it was about gratitude and love and sure enough, he was the first thing to pop into my mind that I’m grateful for.

I may just come to accept I am fucking nuts that I can’t move on almost a year after the final end and two years past the moment I knew he wasn’t leaving his marriage. I understand what gifts I received from that relationship and I understand I can take them forward. I don’t understand why I can’t just fucking let go already.

I know all the wonderful reasons I loved him and line for him. I know what I was given and what I lost but for Christ’s sake, it’s got to go. I’m never speaking to or seeing this man ever again in my life. He’s done, out, erased. Finite.

I just want to stop obsessing. I do not know how to control this and it makes me crazy how he consumes me. Even crazier that he moves on with his life and intact marriage/family. I want him exorcised or lobotomized from my brain. I want him gone already.

Morning Coffee

How many of you drink a morning coffee or 10?

I was addicted to Starbucks every morning, for how many years I don’t even know. The habit cost me a minimum of $10/day in the city. Add in the occasional raspberry scone and it was at least $15. When you’re making good money, you don’t pay much attention to the massive financial drain that actually is. Never mind lunch in my city and then drinks out a couple nights a week.

This little capsule is about my morning coffee routine, so back to that.

I have a very specific Starbucks call for my drink, one of those long ones you don’t want to be behind. Luckily I now have the app and wherever I go it’s waiting for me upon arrival. But when a friend buys my coffee they roll their eyes. I was able to buy the Starbucks flavoring and recreate the coffee at home. So, for years now, I have been drinking two Venti Lattes every morning. Bad days required 3.

I started to pay attention to how many calories I was consuming last summer and found my 2 lattes pretty much equate to a breakfast. That was fine, I am not a morning person and I’m not hungry after coffee (or more aptly put: milk with a splash of espresso). But seriously, I was consuming way too many carbs in one sitting. Look at this:

Now that I’m watching my macros I realize how insane that is when I am not burning off anything.

Although I’m making a point about nutrition, it wasn’t actually my intention for this post.

What I REALLY wanted to get at was flavor. And how we become addicted to sugar etc within our coffee. Switching up a favorite coffee is akin to removing a leg.

In some ways, the fact that I couldn’t drink any coffee or milk for over 3 months post surgery helped me break a habit. I didn’t want to kick my coffee habit itself, I really enjoy a morning coffee, but I wanted to change to a healthier way of drinking all that milk. In Keto diets when you can only have 20-30 grams of carbs a day, my coffee is an absolute no-go at 48 grams of carbs.

Everyone I speak to about their coffee says the same thing “There is no way I can change…(insert whatever they believe they have to have) because that’s everything to me.” I thought the same thing. Then I decided I was going to try.

I switched skim milk out for almond milk. I mixed in various sweeteners. I googled like crazy to try different things. And I finally landed on a mix that felt satisfying in taste as well as on my tongue.

That was about a month ago.

Since then, the first sip has never had the same impact of sheer coffee bliss. I’ve adjusted to the taste and lightness of the coffee, but it’s not the same.

Until today!

Today I took a sip and the coffee was perfect! I now LIKED the taste. I adjust to the different feeling of he milk (it’s thinner, less creamy). I had the moment of pure coffee happiness when I took the first sip and sat down and really enjoyed my coffee. I had the feeling I was looking forward to drinking MY coffee instead of feeling like I was drinking a subpar impostor that would never bring true coffee bliss.

There is no exact Starbucks replica of my home coffee, but that’s ok as I can get close enough by simply replacing milk with almond milk and upping the sugar free vanilla. Because Starbucks steams it comes out a bit frothier anyway. At home I can use Almond Milk Creamer (omg I’m in love with this stuff).

I get 130 calories, 4/5 net carbs! And I can drink two medium sized drinks which make me happy.

I didn’t think I could write a whole post about coffee, but there you have it. If I can change my coffee habit, maybe I can change the world?! 🤣🙄