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.

Hello, Again? Back in Hospital

Well here I am again and not at all happy about it.

This week I started to have pain under my breastbone. It started Sunday night and may have been the cause of my poor sleeping more than the ring on Tony’s finger (which would be a good thing, right?). By Thursday evening the pain had intensified beyond what I could manage and I knew the ER was on the agenda for the evening.

I had been careful, watching what I eat, taking some gas x and seeing if anything was influencing the pain in any way. I couldn’t find anything.

By the time we got to the hospital Thursday night, I was bowled over in pain and out of breath. They took me in quickly administering fluids and morphine right away. Sent off for X-rays and cat scans pretty quickly.

Then the surgeon arrived and my hopes plummeted.

The ER doc (as well as myself) were thinking pancreatis or something along those lines. But the surgeon debunked the results by saying I had another bowel blockage.

I just.wanted.to.cry.

This meant we were going down a familiar path. I would be intubated with an NG tube, no food or liquids, no narcotics and a lot of patience. They did give me a strong opioid called Tramdol which worked for the time being and anti-inflammatory meds which helped.

I did cry once the tube was placed because I couldn’t believe I was back here again, in this horrible situation. I knew now they would admit me as well.

I was terrified that having the surgeon involved meant I was looking at being cut open again.

Going back to the 9th floor in the room directly across where I spent my 4 weeks in Sept/Oct was like a horrible horror story. But all the nurses remembered me and were so kind. They couldn’t believe how much better I looked as compared to my first stay. I suppose there’s some compensation there – that even with the damn tube coming out of my nose that they thought I looked good! 😂

I didn’t get to the room until 6am or so, and then rounds start soon after, so I was feeling really crappy after a night full of pain and testing with no sleep.

As it turned out, the pain began to disappear once I was settled and I didn’t need any further pain killers. They had me on simple fluids to see if my body could recover on its own.

Another cat scan and X-ray followed during the day and they could see that the initial contrast was making its way through the bowel. I told them all they needed to do was give me a cup of coffee and I would be pooping in no time! No one bought that.

By evening I pooped on my own. I did a little poop dance of joy 💩 because I knew that meant my body was doing its job.

Early the next morning the surgeon agreed and the tube came out. The doctor arrived some time later and said if I stick to liquids and soft foods for a week they would allow me to go home that day. He knew I knew the bariatric surgery ropes so he was willing to be lenient. I wasn’t too happy to have to go back to a liquid diet, but it’s better than being in the hospital and monitored here.

Ultimately they believe it was a bowel blockage that I caught super early. The NG tube allowed my bowels to rest for 36 hours without doing any work. The diet allows for further rest from whatever the blockage or inflammation was from. There is no real “reason” it happened or any way to prevent it from happening again. It’s just because I have had so many abdominal surgeries and bowel resections.

I’m waiting now for my son to pick me up so I can rest at home.

I’m bummed this happened in the middle of my exercise streak, but I will exercise lightly for the next week so the habit continues to form. I already felt myself falling into a hole lying on the hospital room for 2 nights. I couldn’t even focus enough to watch TV or even read.

Let’s hope, like the surgeon hopes, that this doesn’t happen again and I continue on my merry way.

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.

Stalker

Short story, for my own accountability.

I was trolling IG and came across Tony’s daughters IG and she posted a photo of them tonight.

He was once again wearing his wedding ring.

I wasn’t shocked by the ring per se, just shocked to see him in a photo as I haven’t seen him since last April or any photo since he lost weight. But, my eyes did go right to the wedding ring.

I tried to dig deep to determine what I was feeling. Why I still troll. Why it matters to me to know what he’s doing in his life.

I know it shouldn’t matter.

The only thought I had was – that’s priceless – he’s wearing a ring after 5+ years of no ring and 15 years of infidelity.

Maybe he’s making a statement that he’s invested back into his marriage. Maybe she’s making him wear it. Maybe his guilt put it back on. Maybe it’s to show a unified front to his kids. Maybe he finally wants to do what’s right. Either way it shows he’s invested himself, somehow, back into his marriage.

And very, very strangely, I have a hope (for Kelly) that she get back the man she deserves because that man, the one I loved, is well worth having. She should get all of that good stuff.

But him, well I hope she makes him suffer for at least a little while and he’s miserable for all he 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.

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.

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.

Health ?

I’ve been very lucky or very blessed. I’m still unsure which but I tend to lean towards a higher power continues to step in to save me.

I wouldn’t say I have been a healthy person for the latter half of my life.

I’ve almost met my maker at least 3 times in 50 years. There’s got to be a reason for that?

Maybe?

I’ve had the worst health run of most people I know because I’m always in that 1% that weird things happen to. But I survived. I chose the VSG surgery so I could take better care of myself, so with the other complications in the rear view, it’s time I take control.

Keto isn’t easy but it’s doable. Retraining your brain to eliminate obvious carbs is tough. Sometimes I just want a damn Triscuit.

I usually cave to my favorite Grandma pizza on Friday nights and a sesame bagel on Sunday.

I bought a Ketosis tracking machine. A small device where you prick your finger and it takes a reading. I am starting to learn that I can actually have my favorite cheats as long as I continue with exercise and taking my MCT oil. It’s not ideal, and it’s not a true Keto plan but like any other way of eating I’ve tried, I need to build in things that don’t make me feel deprived. I feel full, I’m eating better (hugely reduces sugar) and I have a built in portion control mechanism now.

My belly and guts make noises like I’ve never heard before. People say this is common after VSG. I also hiccup with one bite too many or too fast. It’s a great automatic lever because I still don’t “feel” full but have this amazing auto-reaction that says “stop now or it’s going to hurt.” I notice I still have to focus on eating more slowly. Having smaller portions helps as I don’t want to finish hours before everyone else, but my brain is trained to eat quickly and I have to reprogram it.

I use smaller plates and can easily tell how much food in a serving is too much for me. If I eat the right things, my hunger is curbed appropriately. I probably still don’t drink enough water so that’s something I have to work on. I tend to wake up throughout the night to drink which definitely signals I need more water throughout the day.

When I’m on a date, they don’t usually notice how little I eat or drink. I’m such a cheap date now! My friends notice though. They notice I barely eat and that I don’t drink even half of what I used to – they liked me when I enjoyed more! I tell them I enjoy eating and drinking as much as I always did, I just do less of it and it’s fine!

I chose the surgery because portion control was always my biggest issue. Now it’s controlled whether I like it or not! It’s interesting how the mind works – knowing I “can” eat anything I want makes it much easier not to eat it. I can’t over eat anymore. But if I am dying for a peanut butter cup, I can have one and not feel the guilt.

My heaviest weight back in 2012 was around 256 pounds. My weight prior to surgery was 214 pounds and today was 154 pounds. I can’t believe I’ve lost 100 pounds from my frame overall. I made a photo compilation of the 3 faces of Madeline over the past 7 years and I look healthier and younger.

As for how the weight falls off me, I notice a pretty consistent 3 week stall, then 4th week drop. My initial goal was 150 pounds but I am pretty sure I am going to drop it to 140-145 pounds. The surgeon feels, since I am now a normal BMI, I won’t lose anymore.

I did have to have my wound cauterized again which was super painful this time as he had to open up the edges and make fresh skin that would heal again. It’s a bloody mess and hurts now, but bloody means healthy.

I don’t know if I can ever be happy I made the decision to have the surgery, or have it in Mexico. But, in typical Mads fashion, I am beginning to forget about the horror I endured and starting to focus on the tool I now have in my body. I need to put this weight loss to good use.

I don’t know if I’m in peri-menopause or if my body is still in shock (totally possible according to the doctors) but I just had another 75 day stretch with no period. I don’t miss not getting a period but I prefer to keep the hormones around! I still have to get back to the doctor to discuss what we are going to do about the polyps.

I’ve been steadily ensuring I am working out every day, no matter what. A 30-45 minute commitment is more daunting before I do it so I just have to stop thinking about it and force myself into automation. It honestly feels good to be a little sore and I’m sure, soon enough, I will start sleeping better as well. I have totally lost my ass from the weight loss and feel excess skin hanging everywhere. I don’t like it so I need to change that. I don’t think I have “so much” excess skin that a steady exercise routine won’t fix.

Sorry my posts are so mundane but I think boring might be good for me for a while as I begin to take my life back into control.

Blogging has always helped me maintain focus when I commit to it.

Small forward steps are happening. I am still obsessing over Tony, but I’m taking control of myself again.

Why This and Not That?

Believe it or not I just finished 10 mins on the Peloton and 10 mins arms, made myself a protein shake and sitting down shaking my head.

How is it I can so adversely hate exercise that my brain can find a million reasons “not to” and I can’t seem to find that same thought when I want to reach out to Tony. It’s the same damn thought “don’t do it” and one actually has a positive outcome while the other has a negative outcome. I feel physically better following any exercise and, if I keep it up, I know I will appreciate the overall results of a toned body and better sleep. I certainly don’t have any of that when it comes to Tony!

Why am I programmed for all this negativity? It’s like I set myself up for more and more pain and don’t even try to help myself out of it. (Oh yes, I know, we’ve seen this bad behavior from me for years now).

What was the one trigger that got me off the couch today? As terrible as this sounds, I convinced myself I could get right back on it and sleep the day away if I just put in the 20 mins. I did it, made the shake and now sitting back on the couch.

Will it work tomorrow or the day after?

It’s not even 10:30 am and I’ve thrown in the towel for the day.

I do acknowledge that until a habit forms, I need to track. I wasn’t paying enough attention to the Keto eating and was over consuming calories and needed to track to ensure I was watching my macros. I haven’t worn my Fitbit in some time because I was tired of it reminding me I needed to move every hour! My brain was able to ignore it enough to say “don’t do it” and eventually remove it.

I am so angry at myself (for a moment, then it passes) for not investing in myself. I went to the trouble of having a surgery for chrissakes and all the pain I endured and I created an amazing foundation for myself, one that I haven’t had in years (being thin).

I read an article about obsession. Obsession drives us equally for better or worse. It’s what makes us successful and it’s what makes us invest in poor choices. People are obsessive about their career and health. Some about family or love. When we are obsessive in the wrong way (not letting go of something), it creates a problem. But when we are obsessive in the right way (staying on schedule, eating well, managing our families or careers) it actually fuels us to continue doing better. Clearly I have an obsessive compulsive disorder which is unhealthy in itself, but I have also used it to my advantage in the past. I don’t know why I can’t be obsessed with myself for a little while: eat well, be healthy and fit, and let go of Tony.

Strangely enough, the short communication with his wife settled me. I gave her enough affair specifics that proves our timeline so he can lie all he wants now. If she’s clever, she will ask the questions before giving up the information. I almost wish I had sent her our text string for a 6 month period. He could say anything he wanted but those text prove how he was leading me to believe there was a life for us. I hadn’t read those text in a long time because they hurt so badly. But, I sat and read all 4000 or so pages in that string. It brought back some really lovely memories and the pain of waiting. It was ok. I didn’t cry or breakdown. I just read. And I had some weird feeling of relief.

Someone mentioned the itch to speak to him is going to come back. I don’t know. When I made up my mind to end Bobby and sent my emails to Ann, I stopped. Somehow I stopped them and somehow I will stop now.

Like the saying “let go and let God.” I’ve given over what I had and it’s their marriage to manage. I don’t think I will hear from either of them ever again.