It has been quite a while since I have discussed WLS, or how things are going on that front. Part of it is that once you have the surgery and get through the first part of the recovery period, things settle into a pattern and become kind of boring. However, it is time for an update on that. I also notice that I have slowly been changing some other things in my life, so…more about that, too.
My surgery was October 24, so it has been just over 5 months. I’ve lost around 55 pounds since then, and it is becoming obvious to people around me now. My typical week has me at CrossFit twice or three times, and in the last month I have not been swimming at all (but I intend to get back to that.) It has been an extremely busy time in both my paid and volunteer work.
I don’t really know how much more weight I have to lose at this point. Arguably, I could still lose anywhere from 25 to 45 pounds, depending on what I would call my goal weight. If I go by BMI, the magic number is 36 pounds. The thing is, I have no idea what that will really look like. One of my good friends, who is a personal trainer and a wall of muscle is a size 4-6 and weighs about 160 pounds, which is more than my goal weight. So it just depends. For now, 36 pounds it is. I may adjust that later. My surgeon’s goal for me, strangely, is about 10-15 pounds higher than my goal weight, but according to their measurements I am already a successful WLS patient; I’ve lost over 60% of my excess weight at this point.
The odd thing about this stage of the game is that the NSVs (non-scale victories) are more frequent than weight loss victories (scale victories.) My scale has been stopped at the same number for almost 2 weeks. But two more important things are happening: my clothing sizes are smaller, all of a sudden. And I am more successful at the gym, and able to get through harder workouts with less stress. I believe this means that the scale will eventually go down again, but the mind game in all of this is that I get to a point like this (as I was, 5 pounds above it) and then begin to believe that it will never go any lower than it is right now. And in the meantime, I am hearing positive feedback from people I don’t know so well…and then I don’t know exactly how to respond. I’m hovering between a size 12 and 14 right now, in most of my clothing. That is smaller than I have been able to wear in many years, including the last time I was at this weight. I was a 10-12 in high school and college, and a solid 14-16 during my “thin” periods since. I am having trouble picturing being in a single digit clothing size but it might happen.
I also, perhaps counterintuitively, increased my calorie intake about a month ago. It’s not crazy; I aim to hit 1200 calories a day. This is partially because I’m one of those people who still gets hungry, and 800 calories a day was not working for me. This kicked off a 2-3 week period of steady weight loss. Now that I’ve been stalled but working out more, I need to let things settle and maybe go back down a bit. I haven’t decided. My daily eating is pretty normal, all things considered. I focus on protein now, but I’m not quite as rigid with carbohydrates as some WLS patients. My “macro” goals are to get around 40% of my calories from protein, 40% from fat, and 20% from carbohydrates. In general I try to stay below 100 grams of carbs per day, and to get at least 100 grams of protein. One blessing and curse is that I can pretty much eat anything; I didn’t get too much restriction nor has my body begun to reject different kinds of food. Every once in a while I will eat something that doesn’t settle well but that is the exception rather than the rule. The big difference is in amounts. When I am eating out, it is sometimes quite obvious that my stomach just isn’t as big as it used to be. The most I can eat of my meal is about 1/2 of a restaurant serving. My husband calls our fridge “the place where styrofoam goes to die.” But he admits that I am very good about eating my leftovers.
Again, maybe counterintuitively, I don’t believe that I should be in full blown restriction mode. I have a glass of wine a few nights a week, or a few bites of dessert. I have good friends who are much more stringent than I am. But I know myself, and I worry that if I go full metal jacket now it will bounce back into something ugly. I am trying to redefine what I do, in such a way that I can live with it long-term. This doesn’t work for everyone; I have good friends who have had amazing success on 800 calories for extended amounts of time; never making bad choices, etc. But that is not me.
I have also had periods of time when I’ve been very blue and not quite understanding why. It is hard for me to keep perspective. One year ago, on the surface my life was the same. I had the same work, the same volunteer obligations. My family situation was stable (same people, same house, same pets.) It doesn’t always feel like i’ve undergone a huge change.
The truth is, this has been a HUGE physical and possibly an even larger psychological change. For the last several years I had never worked out; now I arrange my schedule around when I can get to the gym. I started singing in a choir again; AND taking voice lessons. And auditioning for things. I am wearing clothing that is 3-4 sizes smaller and trying to figure out what to do with the old stuff. I’m taking some new risks and trying things, and I am strangely vulnerable in a way I haven’t let myself be in years. And this can’t help but shake up the status quo a bit. At the same time, I am adjusting to the idea that I might be different. I don’t really see it, even though I know the things above are true.
I hear stories about how this kind of weight loss changes the relationships in one’s life. The biggest relationship change in my life has been my relationship with myself. But most of that is internal, and boy is it ever a work in progress. Many of the changes I am making now are changes in my perspective. I have lived a certain reality for quite a while, and am beginning to see that there are other ways to think of myself and my approach to life. And it’s hard to recognize that aspects of my self-image were comfortable, but definitely held me back. As I’m sorting through all of this, I know that the sometimes intense discomfort I feel with that will probably lead to growth. I hate feeling like I am not in control, but I was not really in control before either. The fact that I’m allowing myself to feel that discomfort again can only help me.