Non-Scale Victory: Acceptance

In the dieting world, NSV’s are a big deal. You may not see the scale move, but something else important happens and you can consider it a victory.

I’ve had a lot of these in the past month and when I found myself staring my wrinkly, excess skin on my arms and thighs, I decided I was going to forgive myself for the first time in my life.

I was trying on some clothes for outfits as I have a few appointments coming up. As I changed in and out of each I watched how my body moved. There are certain angles, positions and movements that exacerbate or highlight the excess skin. I don’t have that much excess skin, but it’s there and it’s wrinkly and in certain positions it’s very obvious. It bothers me. I think it’s ugly and certainly not natural looking (especially my tummy) I analyzed myself for a while, immediately fretting over how ugly it looks. How a man would react to it? How it made me look older. And and and and.

Then I stopped. Can’t go back and change a decision I made that was surgical. Didn’t really understand the potential impact of significant weight loss so quickly, and maybe even never believed I was going to be less than 160-175 pounds in my life. I look great in clothes. I feel great. I am doing everything to care for my new body. I am becoming strong.

And finally, oh my god, finally, I forgave my body for looking the way it does with its wrinkles and scars and instead told it how happy I am with it’s strength and ability to recover. How it feels so good to move freely. How I can sit any way I want with my legs crossed at any angle and not lose my circulation. How amazing it feels to buy clothes that make me look great, that hang beautifully on my frame, that don’t bind me and cause discomfort.

I looked at this bruised body of mine and reminded myself of what it’s accomplished, despite the damage caused at my own making.

Sure, it’s not natural, my body has distorted and morphed in ways that are not beautiful. But, I never had a perfect body. My first surgery on my bowels was at 2 years old and that left awful, deep and ugly scars. I never had a pristine, scar-less body. Then it hit me: I’ve never loved my body.

And the thought grew.

If I never loved my body, and I’ve gone to great lengths to change it over many, many trials and tribulations – why not just forgive my body? It’s doing the best it can with what it’s been given to work with. It’s getting stronger and more defined every day. It moves in ways it never has before.

Why not accept the best of what I have and stop fretting about the rest? I don’t think that happens over night, but I can feel acceptance beginning within me. I don’t have to, I get to…..I get to wake up every day, open my eyes, and be grateful my body serves me so well.

Weight has always been at the top of my mind. My whole life. Even though I have a whole lot less of it now, it’s probably going to be top of my mind for the rest of my life thanks to all the years of negativity surrounding it. But if I can learn to accept the gift I’ve been given, I believe I can break much of the negative internal loop I’ve created and accept all the new positives I’m creating.

Tenuous Hold on My Goals

I don’t fool myself that I have my goals in hand. My self-talk is still amazingly good at letting me off the hook for bad habits.

After all, look at all the shit I put Tony through a year after a break-up and him telling me it’s never going to happen again. I still stalk his absence on social media, convinced one day he’s going to unblock me and be curious about me.

If I could figure this one piece of me out, I am sure I would be in an infinitely better place than I am today as well as have much better control of myself in the future.

But I haven’t figured it out.

As much as I have committed to exercising daily, more days still tend to be a struggle than not. When I look back at each week I can see a slow decrease the past 3 weeks. I have felt it tapering off and I know my hold on this commitment is tenuous at best.

I am doing all the right things: I rest when I need to. I hold myself accountable for tracking food and exercise every day. I am in support, training and nutrition groups as well as working with a nutritionist. I literally have moments of high-highs and equal moments of low-lows. I cannot seem to create the pattern yet. I thought I was almost there, I thought I could taste real, lasting change and it’s started to slip right out my grasp the past 3 weeks.

I am obsessed with tracking my numbers: number of steps in a day, week and month. Number of miles. Number of calories. It’s the one thing I can rely on to “prove” my progress in a way and ensure I don’t slip up. This is how I know exactly how much I’ve slowed down. I want it to be a science in a way – something I can control so that, in the future, when I take “days off” or “rest days” I have concrete targets in mind to achieve for the month.

I haven’t given up, just slowed down. I am just terrified that slowing down too much means eventually quitting as I have done so many times before with my physical health. But why isn’t the fear of failure stronger than the mindset telling me it’s ok to give up?

It is NOT ok. Not anymore. I had my moment of quitting life. I almost succeeded at quitting for good but God had other plans for me. I have other plans for me (though I’m unsure what they are yet!). I’m done quitting and ready to continue investing. But, I haven’t built my habit. I haven’t ingrained it in me yet.

I’m writing because I don’t want to stop. I need to continue. I promised myself 90-100 days straight no holds barred. I promised myself I would make my goal weight and get stronger. The side bonus to that was fitting in the smallest size clothes I can ever recall and feeling the muscles growing beneath my skin with normal movement. By the end of my 90-100 days I expect I will see true muscle definition. I’m praying that once I’ve checked all these wonderful boxes and once I see the muscles and see the results, my mind will make the switch from “this isn’t important” to “this is my priority !”

My job at the moment is working out. I’m lucky I can get it in any time during a day or night. I’m praying that my 90- 100 days corresponds with a job offer somewhere and I can take my newly found fit mentality and being that energy into a new role and really start life over again.

I’m terrified of losing this mojo. It’s still so much effort for me most days even at 79 days in. I’m very close to that 90-100 mark, very close, and it feels like this should be more solidified than it is – which is why I’m worried.

On Being Thin

Sorry this story meanders a bit…I felt like I had so many bits to piece together….

It’s strange to write this, because I have been thin before in my life. At the risk of offending someone I have this belief that people who grew up thin have a different mindset than those who grew up heavy. I have always seen myself as a thin girl who did damage to herself by allowing herself to become fat.

I was thin, active, muscular and healthy thought my childhood and into my teens. I developed around age 15, a late bloomer, but didn’t start putting on weight until 18 due to hormonal issues (I’ve always had problems!)

I do not have a fat girl screw the world mentality. I’m not angry at all the thin girls and models. I do not have a love me at any size mantra. I wanted to be thin again. I felt better in every aspect of my life and I remember that feeling. Sure, there were times in the 180-200 pound range over the last 7-8 years in which I felt great too, but most of my adult life was over 210 pounds and I never had the confidence from my physique I felt I needed.

Perhaps, as with everything in age, we savor things as we get older. I want to live out my life thin, healthy and strong. I wanted to live in the feeling of being comfortable in a thin body.

I do find it very strange to be thin once again after 20 years. I don’t recall feeling like this, except around my wedding (when I was too thin).

My body has lost all its shape. My rib cage and hips are much more narrow now than they were in my teens into 20s. My college years were plump with ugly hair 🤣. I found a bit of physical positivity by 22 and was married by 26, so there wasn’t much time in there to really enjoy my newfound body positivity. I don’t think I paid enough attention to myself back then. I just don’t remember much about my body other than mostly being unhappy with it my entire life for one reason or another and always struggling to “get back to thin” after I turned 30.

Generally speaking, even when I was thin I still had abdominal scars from childhood surgeries as well as stretch marks as my breasts developed late and large

I read this is common for most woman, regardless of age, shape, weight or height. What a shame we waste so much time when we are young.

Anyway, I am thin now. People say too thin because I lost all my fullness. Nothing on me is round or shapely anymore. My bones come out in my neck and back. My shoulders are thin. I sort of see what they see, I look older. I don’t care much. I like being thin.

My closest friends as ask how I feel about myself and I tell them I feel fine. They think I can’t see how thin I’ve become. They ask me to stop losing weight.

I went for a full girls day of day shopping for the first time ever. My friend spent the time in each store with me to try on everything. She helped me pull an entire Spring into Summer wardrobe together on a pretty good budget. I was able to determine my size in various brands. I was much smaller than I had anticipated and a little shocked how my body had changed since December. My shape is settling in now.

It felt amazing to try clothes on. I could try on anything I saw that I liked. That’s never happened before. Things fit properly, even around my chest. Clothing looked good on me. Like, really good. I could wear my beautiful shoes with beautiful clothes now and make a striking figure.

I’ve been waiting to feel like this my whole life. I don’t think I had enough confidence in my 20s pre-marriage to feel powerful when dressed. I don’t even think I had identified my style. When I’m dressed I forget about the scars and hanging skin (other than that horrible chicken-skin under my arms, ah well, I’m working on that!) When I chose clothing I liked and saw things look good or not good on me – I was able to have choices. I was used to was to accepting whatever fit well enough and covered my flab which was limiting and expensive when I dressed well. This was actually enjoyable to see things flatter me and I loved trying on inexpensive clothing to compliment more expensive pieces to curate my style for the first time in my life.

Looking at myself every day in the mirror didn’t prepare me for the shopping experience. This was definitely a NSV (non scale victory) ranking up at the top. I truly enjoyed what many women have down their whole lives and I have shied away from.

Knowing I have the base to work with encourages me to keep working on my fitness and diet – I don’t feel defeated that I’m exercising and eating well with no results – I can see the results now. Yes, it started with surgery -but the last month or two have been my personal effort to hit my goals.

I’ve dropped a bit of weight quickly recently, most likely as my body was shocked from the exercise, lack of period, and the hospital visit and was holding onto water weight. I’m down to a solid 145 lbs now and would be happy to stay put here for good.

I don’t see what others might see – I don’t see “too thin” at least not yet. I don’t intend to drop more weight internationally. My goal was always 145-150 pounds and I believe it looks fine on my 5’8″ frame. I’m mostly a size M or 8. I believe as I continue to work with my weights and cardio I will develop muscle and look toned and that should help.

Surgery wasn’t a permanent fix. I still have my entire life ahead of me to maintain. I can’t allow myself to drop the new habits I’ve created, ever. Surgery gave me a tool, and a very powerful one, but it can still be mid-used. My goal is to always pay attention to myself now and create the body positivity I have been missing for so many years. Unfortunately, it was not a good trade-off getting thin at the expense of horrid scars and crippling sickness – but it’s done, I hit that reset button for better or worse – and I want to enjoy where I am without worrying about being “too” anything.

Once again in my life “I’m not right” for people. I know they are looking out for my best interest, but constantly hearing “you are disappearing” or “everyone thinks you’re too thin” just reinforces my old belief that I’m still not “good enough” for anyone.

PS: the photo is of the famous 1960s model Twiggy. She was 5’6″ (short for a Model) and weighed less than 100 pounds at times – so, no, I’m not that thin!

PPS: Here’s where I want to be (in my sexy dreams!). What’s scary is the poster writes “145 lbs sounds like a lot”. People really don’t understand women’s weight numbers as compared to appearance

Reappearing Ghost

Well one of my ghosts decided he did want to haunt me after all.

Since I didn’t engage him all weekend before our tentative date, I assumed he was a lost cause. But he showed up on Monday checking in on time and location and also remembering to ask how my weekend with my friend was.

Honestly, it all felt very genuine to me. He knew I had a friend here and he felt our plans were solid. I didn’t think twice and agreed to go and meet August. Still can’t get over what a cool name I think that is!

August is super tall! He is the first man to actually plan an outing for a first date and I was looking forward to exploring the part of the city he suggested. I had worked in the area some years ago and it’s undergoing a massive transformation as a cultural center of our city.

Driving in and parking was super easy and convenient which is a rarity. I had gotten my workouts in during the day, my hair looked good and the weather was mild. I had a new pair of jeans and leather jacket and feeling quite positive overall. Some excitement was creeping back in and the familiar feeling was very welcome. I was happy to be going out and looking forward to meeting him…not much more I could ask for. These days I never know when my depression is going to swoop in and decide I’m not in the mood for whatever I’ve planned and want me to stay on the couch instead. I was thankful my depression was no where in sight.

We agreed on a meeting spot and as I saw him approach, my heart leapt a little just because he is so tall, handsome and had a suit on! I was all “this guy is coming for me?!” kind of excited. Lol. Conversation flowed easily. We walked and talked. Saw some cool sights. Walked some more (20k steps that day! My highest yet!). Enjoyed the weather, city sights and each other. I didn’t feel pressure or disinterest. This was a very easy date.

Then he suggested we go to my all time favorite bar/restaurant/hotel (the bathtub room there is of Bobby fame – but many, many great nights happened at The Standard). I liked that he was in no rush. We sat at the bar and had cocktails. Then he suggested dinner. We were lucky to get a table, even though it was Tuesday. We shared a bottle of wine and some dinner. He noticed how little I ate and made the comment “that’s why you are so thin.” It’s too early to address more so I simply said I wasn’t a big eater. I have also learned to order an appetizer as my dinner so it’s less obvious how little I eat. Plus, if I drink and eat at the same time – it’s 3-4 ounces period – doesn’t matter if it’s liquid or solid. I need to go slow.

I am VERY happy to report I can now drink BUBBLES again! Yes! Life just isn’t the same without Prosecco! I had a Penny Drop cocktail, which is my second favorite (derivative of Moscow Mule) drink!

The only thing I noticed about August was he didn’t ask me many questions. I’m trying not to read too far into this on a first date, but he just doesn’t seem inquisitive (and normally that’s a trigger for me that he’s not interested ENOUGH). We spoke about what he learned from his last relationships and he admits that he didn’t pay enough attention to what his partners needs were. He also admits he has to improve his communication style. I’m going to take those comments of his at face value and see if I can work with his style.

I learned a lot about him because I did ask many, many questions. While he is at the right place in his life for me (older kids, divorced etc) I’m not sure ultimately how compatible we would be. I believe he comes from wealth and the country club scene which is quite foreign to me. Not sure it’s my scene. We shall see.

Another interesting thing, he told me how beautiful I was very quickly and often. He thought I was so much more attractive in person because I was so happy. Eventually he also told me I was quite sexy and I guess I laughed a little. He asked why, and I decided to tell the truth. When I was young (and when I would say sexy about myself) no one ever said sexy to me. I was always cute, pretty, and smart. Never beautiful, sexy or sassy. Now, it’s very common for a man to label me as sexy, even though I don’t feel I come across that way. But he’s not the first to say it radiates from me. This time, I really took that to heart because I haven’t felt it AT ALL in a year or so. Yes, I felt pretty sexy many times during the first 4 years post separation/divorce. But since the end of Tony and all my trauma, it’s not a feeling or attitude I’m familiar with anymore. I wonder what it is that men see and think is sexy? I really don’t know what it is because I still see pretty. I do see sassy come out. And now I see thin. But that’s it.

We had such a nice dinner and then another nice long stroll back to my car. Hand holding and kissing. All gentle, light and playful. Just right and just enough.

The night ended well, with a promise to meet again. He looked at me and said “you’re going to break my heart, aren’t you?” Out of the blue.

I don’t know, August. I don’t know anything anymore. One day at a time. My heart is still healing and my mind is still somewhat broken. Let’s take it slow.

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.

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.