Category Archives: self image

The Choices We Make

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I have a co-worker, a young millennial who has a loud vibrant personality. She is brash, unapologetic, and funny. I wouldn’t have her any other way. She recently moved offices and I miss the energy she brought to an otherwise mundane job.

Every day as she breezed out of the office, she would mockingly say over her shoulder, “Make good choices!” And we would all laugh.

Recently, I was part of a pilot group with my therapist. If I had  not written this before, I am seeing someone to help me with my binge eating. She is writing a book about how to lose weight and keep it off forever.

The group I was a part of has been reviewing her book and launching a kind of support group where we read chapters of her book and discuss the ideas in that chapter. We were her beta readers/guinea pigs. This past weekend, we all met in person to discuss what we thought of the book and make suggestions for the support system she wants to create. I am so glad to have been a part of that group.

The book is very interesting. The book is less about what we eat and more about why we eat what we eat. She really encouraged us to explore the reasons behind our eating habits.

Of course she thinks the best diet for weight loss is low carb, high protein focusing on eating fresh meats and fish, high protein vegetarian options, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Very similar to any good bariatric diet, right?

So, why can’t we stick to it? Why do we constantly sabotage our diet plans? Why do we make choices we know will not help us on our path to a healthy weight and relationship to food?

Those are the questions through both my sessions with her and the book she’s working to address.

For me, a lot of my bad choices have to do with my inability to deal with stress and toxic people. I get very stressed out when I think about the toxic people in my life, and there have been several who have entered and left my world. Some stay longer than others. It has taken me a long time to realize their behavior is about them and not me and to create a distance between me and them, even if that barrier is just a mental one.

I also suffer from a low self-image and self-confidence. Many people who know me would certainly be surprised to know this. I hide it well most of the time. It is hard for me to find good things about myself.

After I had lost about 130 pounds, a guy I am friends with complimented me on a shirt I was wearing. He said something like, “That green color looks very good on you.”

I immediately replied with how much more weight I needed to lose, my hair looked awful, pick any one of the myriad of negative thoughts inside my head.

A female friend standing nearby turned to me and said, “No! Stop, Colleen. He complimented you. Your answer is, ‘Thank you!'”

She knew what I was doing. I was not used to being complimented about my appearance. She knew this. And she put the brakes on my negative thought train. At least the verbalization of my negative thoughts.

So, I have been exploring my insecurities. My inability to deal with stress and toxic people. My negative thoughts. And why I look for solace in food.

It is hard to constantly stop myself before I make a bad food decision and analyze the why. In the past, I’ve made a decision about what I wanted to eat and then just ate it. Even if I did not eat it to excess, I still often made very bad food choices.

So, this is what I do when I want to eat the cheesy poofs or whatever food I am craving at the moment. I stop and ask myself some questions.

  • Do I need this to feel full and meet my nutritional goals? (Is this choice a need or a want?)
  • Why do I want to eat the cheesy poofs?
  • What is going on? Am I stressed out? I am feeling bad?
  • What happened today, last night, yesterday to make me feel this way?
  • Will eating this particular food help me achieve my weight loss/health goals?
  • What impact will this choice have on my calories, protein, carb intake for the day?
  • What can I eat that I like that will keep me on track?
  • What other choice can I make?

 

Sometimes I even stop and pull out my phone and enter the cheesy poofs into myfitnesspal.com just to see what that choice will do to my daily goals.

I am successful in making better choices probably 95% of the time. Do I slip? Sure. One example, I had an extra slice of toast one day. Normally, that is enough to send me into a tailspin and think the whole day is lost. But the next day, I entered everything into myfitnesspal.com, and I was only a couple of points high on my carbs. I met my protein goals and calorie goals.

So, great choice? No. Diet-killer? Not even close. I was still on track.

Another thing I do is I try not to think of my entire weight loss goal every time I eat. I do keep that goal in mind every day, yes. But for each meal or snack, I think only of that meal or snack. I might think of how it fits into my daily goals, but in the moment, I do not think too much beyond that.

I chose that approach because sometimes thinking of the entire goal is too overwhelming and seems unattainable. Today, this moment, this meal, that is a doable goal.

I get weighed every two weeks, and in that moment, I only think of my bi-monthly goals. I do sit down with the doctor afterwards and talk about long-term goals, but only a month out. Most importantly, I’m not weighing myself every day and stressing out about the numbers on the scale.

Biking and exercising also helps. I have been biking quite a bit, although the impending snow storm in our area has really put a damper on that recently. But biking takes my mind off the stress of the day, releases endorphins, and generally makes me feel better. Not to mention, it is great exercise for a weight loss plan.

The result is, of the 58 pounds of regain, I’m down 18 pounds. And my overall goal is now lower as well. So, now instead of needing to lose 94 pounds, I only need to lose 76 pounds.

So, good news all around. I am working on improving my mental health and making better choices. I’m also losing weight, exercising, and feeling better!

Will I always make good choices? No, definitely not. No one is perfect, and I know I am not. But I know that if I stay focused, I can make much better choices moving forward.

I’ll just keep my co-workers voice in my head every time I reach for those cheesy poofs reminding me to stop and “Make Good Choices!”

 

 

What I Think About While I’m Biking (Hint: Not you!)

I have been biking quite a lot recently. I try to get out at least 3-5 times a week. I have even biked to work, although I do not do that often. I’m often hot and sweaty after I get there and the ride home, while primarily downhill, is mostly on city streets and is kind of brutal and scary.

A few months ago, a friend of mine, or maybe someone I know only slightly posted this meme oh Facebook:

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I think the person was trying to be encouraging by showing how judgy they are not by posting a meme on Facebook. I was slightly offended by it and became more so the more I thought about it. I’m not upset with the person, just the idea. The idea that there are good fat people, those who exercise or do something other people deem to be healthy. And bad fat people. To me, this is just another form of fat shaming.

The idea that my health, my appearance somehow belongs to other people is offensive to me. If I do what you think is the right thing, I’m worthy of praise, and if I do not, I deserve derision.

Now that I am biking myself, I’m here to tell you that while I’m biking, none of that matters. Here’s the secret. Fat people bike for the same reasons skinny people bike…because they love it. Yes, it is exercise and helps to build muscle mass and burn calories, but that is not my primary motivation.

So I thought I’d share some of the things I actually think about while I’m biking. (hint: those thoughts have nothing to do with you or what I think you think I look like!)

  1. Balance! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa Whoa! Don’t fall! Don’t fall!
  2. I put my feet not the pedals! Whoo hoo!
  3. OK, pedal, pedal! Don’t fall!
  4. I’m biking! I’m biking!
  5. OK get to bike trail…
  6. Big hill! It’s downhill, you can do this!
  7. Holy crap here comes a car! It’s OK! It’s OK! They’ll go around me.
  8. Whew, they went around me. Catastrophe averted.
  9. I made it to the bike trail! OMG, it’s uphill! At least it will be downhill on the way back.
  10. On the way back: How can the bike trail possibly be uphill in both directions?? Seriously? Who designed these trails?
  11. OMG, my legs.
  12. OMG, my butt hurts.
  13. OMG, I cannot breathe.
  14. Just breathe!
  15. OMG, I think a bug flew up my nose!
  16. Now my nose is itchy!
  17. Can’t take hands off handlebars to scratch nose.
  18. I have to scratch my nose.
  19. Scratches nose. Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Don’t fall!
  20. Making bike trail part of the sidewalk…not a good idea!
  21. Case in point…who decided to put a lamppost in the middle of the bike trail/sidewalk? WTF? img_1858
  22. Bike around lamppost by railing and risk running into the railing and possibly tumbling down the embankment and into the creek? Or bike around lamppost street-side and risk tumbling into traffic? Nice.
  23. Preparing to bike up a short, but sharp hill. I can do this. I can do this. Uh oh, someone is coming downhill fast in my lane! He’s not looking up. Look up, look up look up! “Hey, look up! Coming towards you!”
  24. He moved, thank God.
  25. Lost momentum. Great, now I have to walk up the hill.
  26. OMG, I didn’t know I could sweat this much.
  27. Family with kids, “I’m on your left!” Please, God, don’t let the kids run out in front of me!
  28. Did the runner I just passed going downhill just pass me as we are going uphill? Holy crap, I’m slow!
  29. When does this get easier?
  30. Does it have to be so hot out?
  31. When does this hill end?
  32. Breathe! Just breathe!
  33. You can do this!
  34. Home at last!
  35. I so totally rock!

I do not think about what other people think I look like. Not at all. I think about safety and the other people I see on the trails. I do not want to put myself or anyone else at risk.

A friend of mine recently asked me that since I live in an urban area and I bike on the streets a lot if cars scare me. The answer is, they terrify me. I have a healthy fear of cars. Every time I have to cross a street or bike on the street, I’m terrified. I know most drivers are cautious and do not want to hit me, but in that moment, all I can think about is trying to avoid being hit. I yield to everyone.

But here’s another secret, I spend most of my time on my bike being terrified. Terrified I’ll fall. Terrified I’ll run into a pedestrian. Terrified of going uphill. Terrified of going down hill. Terrified of going too slow. And terrified of going too fast. Still, I get out there.

So, why do I do it? I do it because I have to. Not because I’m required to, or that the doctor told me I must. I do it because I love it. When I’m on my bike I’m not concerned about what I look like or what anyone else thinks of me. It is the only time I feel free from the judgment of other people; free to just live in the moment. I think that more than anything gets me out there on the trails as often as possible.

I see people of all sizes on the bike trails. Some a much smaller than me, some much bigger. One girl in particular stands out. I saw her this weekend and I think she was biking with her boyfriend. She looked like she was struggling. Still, she was faster than me. The two of them whizzed by me without a problem. I later caught up with them as they had stopped for water. She saw me coming and smiled. She looked just as hot and sweaty as I felt. I smiled back and gave her the biker nod – the nod many bikers have given me. A nod of recognition; of camaraderie; a welcome to the club. I hope she sticks with it and loves it as much as I do.

Biker Girl!

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So, yesterday I tried something new, something I have wanted to do for a long time. Something I used to do when I was younger.

I went biking!

OK, I didn’t go very far, but that’s OK. I have not been on a bike in over 20 years. When I was very young, a kid all the way through high school, I used to bike all of the time. It was my main source of transportation and gave me a sense of freedom.

Once I became morbidly obese weight in the high 200s to low 300s, biking was not an option for me. So to be able to get back on a bike again held a lot of meaning.

My sister moved to Texas a few weeks ago and she gave me her bike. She knew I was looking to buy one, but I did not really have a lot of time to be trolling Craigslist to find an inexpensive used bike. She was purging before the move and decided to just give me her bike.

When I first got on the bike, the tires had no air. I fit on the bike perfectly. We put it in the back of my car, and it stayed there for a few weeks until I could deal with the no air problem.

I went to a bike shop near my apartment to get air in my tires and get a couple of supplies. I wanted to get a helmet and some lights for the bike. I also wanted to get a bike rack because getting the bike in and out of the hatchback is a pain in the ass.

Immediately after getting air in the tires and getting the bike rack installed, I drove out to my brother’s house and hung out with him and my niece for a bit. Well, really him, because my niece is now 8 and friends are much more important and fun than aunties. So basically, I drive 40 minutes to get a hug and then she runs off to play.

Such is life.

Anyway, it was late by the time I got back home. I took the bike off the rack and was walking it out of the garage and up to my apartment. I stopped in the lot for a few minutes a figured I would give it a quick spin.

To my surprise, I could barely touch the ground. I immediately felt very unsteady o the bike and almost toppled over. I tried a couple of times to find my balance, but I just couldn’t.

Feeling a bit embarrassed and nervous, I took he bike up to my apartment and just stared at it a bit. I was absolutely convinced I would never be able to do this. But I really wanted to. I put the bike in front of a bookcase and practiced sitting on and putting my feet on the pedals just to get the feel. In retrospect, holding onto the bookcase was probably not the brightest idea. Had I toppled over, I risked pulling the whole thing down on top of me. Fortunately, that did not happen.

Yesterday I was determined to at least get on the bike and maybe try to do a couple of laps in the parking lot. The parking lot of my building is kind of big, so a couple of laps would be a good starter.

I was very nervous and feeling very self-conscious about what people would think because I couldn’t even find my balance. Nonetheless, I did it. At first, I tried to position myself near a pole so I could balance myself. Then I practiced just scooting along to get the bike moving. I tried a couple of times get both feet on the pedals, but could not find my balance.

After a few minutes of scooting, I just told myself to do it. I took a deep breath and just forced myself to put both feet on the pedals and push. And I was off! A little wobbly, but I did it!

I rode around the lot for about 10 minutes. I did several loops in the front of the building and around the back. When I was done, I was exhausted and a little sore, but I did it!

I took the bike back inside and figured I was done for the day. Then my friend Sush texted me and asked if I wanted to come watch the DNC with her and watch the democrats elect Hillary, the first woman to run on a major party ticket. I excitedly texted back sure! I’ll ride my bike over!

I don’t know what made me say that. Maybe it was the endorphine rush from my short ride around the lot that made me feel invincible, but a huge part of me was screaming, “WTF! Why???”

Now Sush lives about a mile down the W&OD trail from where I live, so it’s not far. That wasn’t the problem though. I live on this HUGE hill that leads down into Shirlington and then down to the bike trail. While I could ride comfortably in my parking lot, and I was pretty sure I could make the mile on the bike trail, I was very worried about going up and down that hill.

So, I walked the bike down the hill. Once in Shirlington, I started riding towards the bike trail. I stayed mostly on the sidewalk except when I had to cross the street. It was a pretty easy ride on the trail. I was slow and other bikers did pass me. Fortunately, I had spent enough time walking on the trail, that I was familiar with biking etiquette. If another biker wants to pass you, they ring a bell or say, “On your left,” and that is your queue to stick to the right so they can safely pass. And it truth, I wasn’t on the trail long enough for this to really be an issue.

I did get off the trail a little too soon and wandered around a neighborhood that was not Sush’s for about a minute, then got back on the trail to get to her actual neighborhood. Sush was so excited to see me riding a bike. She knows what an accomplishment this was for me. She has been one of my biggest cheerleaders since I started my weight loss. She knows how much I struggled before, and she is so happy to see me doing things I never would have attempted.

The ride back was a little more difficult. Coming back to my neighborhood was kind of uphill, so the ride was a little more of a struggle. And it was so hot yesterday. And when it came time to walk the bike back up to my apartment, I was thoroughly exhausted. But I did it!

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Me post bike ride.

I’m going to go for a little ride tomorrow in the other direction on the trail just to see how far I get. I don’t work until the evening, so if I start early enough, I should be OK. I’m so glad to be biking again. I think my next investment though is going to be a pair of padded biker pants.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie

I have taken a lot of selfies over the past year and a half documenting my weight loss and how I look now vs. how I looked “before.” This one is from about August I think.

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This one is probably from around October-ish:

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I have really enjoyed seeing how my body and my life have changed as I’ve lost weight. What I really love more than the physical transformation is how my life has changed.  I really feel that I can participate fully in my own life. Before I couldn’t, not really anyway.

I go on many weekend adventures with my brother and his family.  Often, we just go to the museums in DC.  But one time, we went to the Shenandoah Mountains and drove up and down Skyline Drive enjoying the view.  I had never done that before.

I took this selfie of me, my sister-in-law, and my awesome niece:

me em and mommy

And this one of me and my niece:

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But I think my favorite picture from that day was when I surreptitiously captured my sister-in-law and her daughter taking a selfie.

emmy and mommy

I thought this was so cute and captured a wonderful moment between mother and daughter. I am just so happy that I am healthy enough to be included in these moments. I really am the luckiest Auntie ever!

Struggling & Finding A New Direction

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I have to admit it, I have been struggling since the turn of the New Year.  I got sick on January 2 on my way to work.  Unpleasant, to say the least.  I’ve hit a very long plateau in my weight loss which has me thinking that I may never lose another pound.  That thought terrifies me as I am very afraid that I will start gaining again.  I want to lose another 46 pounds, but if I don’t I’m sort of OK with that.  I’m not OK with the thought of gaining any weight at all.  I also have been struggling with the number of hours I have been working.  That has really taken a toll on my over all mental well-being, mostly because I have no time for anything else and I’m exhausted all of the time.

Mostly though, I have been surprised by the number of emotional battles I have been fighting as well.  That has kind of caught me off guard because I have really been riding an emotional high for a very long time.  I think some of it has to do with the fact that my weight loss has slowed, and I fear regaining the weight.  Some of it I think has been dealing with people who just refuse to see all the work I have done and how I have changed.  To them, I will always be the out of control overeating fat girl who needs to be constantly reminded that her efforts aren’t good enough and never will be.

One of the reasons I have always hated losing weight is the public consumption of my weight loss.  I know…oh the irony of a blogger making THAT complaint.  But it’s true.  Any time I have dieted in the past, everyone always commented on my weight loss, or lack thereof, the food I ate, and whether or not I gained weight when the diet eventually failed. Making a change like that is a very personal, and often, painful journey, yet the whole of society feels free to comment and pass judgment on it.  I think that’s part of the reason I decided to blog my weight loss since the surgery.  If the whole world, (at least my world), was going to watch me lose weight, I was going to at least control the dialogue…this time.

But really, I think a large part of my emotional struggle has been trying come to terms with my own identity.  I don’t know if I’m really done losing weight.  I hope I’m not.  I do want to lose the last little bit I have left.  Still, whether I’m done losing now, or some time in the not too distant future, the end of my weight loss journey is in sight.

For many years I was simply the fat girl.  Then for the past year and a half, I have been the girl who is changing her life by losing an incredible amount of weight.  I now know a lot of people who knew me when I was fat and are now getting used to the new me.  And I’ve met a lot of people who never knew me as the fat girl, who just know me now and do not understand where I have been.

I guess I have really been struggling with who I am now that I’ve lost the weight (or most of it, at least).  Who am I if I’m not the girl who is losing weight?  I guess I’m the one who lost a lot of weight, but that title can only last for so long.

The truth is, however, none of that really matters.  What the world thinks of me is really none of my concern.  What I need to do is decide for myself who I am and where my journey goes from here.  I can choose to have a future where my excess weight no longer defines who I am.  It’s an idea that is as freeing as it is terrifying.  But this is the world that I have chosen to create for myself. Now I just need to find a way to live in it.

So, I made some decisions about this.  I went to a couple of my writer’s group this week and in both of them, we had to set writing goals for the new year. Also, my birthday was yesterday, and it coincided with the Chinese Lunar New Year, which I think is a great time to refocus and start something new.  This is now the year of the horse, and I was born in the year of the horse.  I do not put much stock in astrology, but I do feel that it could be a sign this will be a good year.

In my second, much smaller writer’s group, I said I would start writing on this blog more (again) and maybe change the focus a little.  I want to talk more about my over all health as opposed to just weight loss.  If I really am reaching the end of my weight loss journey, I need to do that.

I’m not sure where this New Year will take me, or what direction my life will go. I’m not really sure what this blog will become.  If the weight loss does start up again, I will definitely update that, but it won’t be my main focus.  I do want to write more about food, body image, health, and weight loss in general.  I am hopeful that I can come to terms with who I am now and where I go from here.  I hope you’ll join me on the next step in my journey.

The Anti-Reunion

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was going to Pittsburgh for Christmas and while I was here I was meeting with some of my high school friends for a sort of anti-reunion.  Well, it happened.  I went. Here’s the proof:

1984

They scheduled the event for a Friday night, which made it a little difficult to get to. I worked on Friday morning then took the rest of the day as a vacation day.  I drove the 4.5 hours to Pittsburgh then had to change clothes quickly.  My best friend from high school was meeting me at my mother’s house.  We had plans for dinner and then we were going to the casino together to meet our classmates.

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Now, I graduated from high school 29 years ago.  I find that so hard to believe.  Yes, I know I’m 47, but it feels like the years have just flown by.  My friend Carolyn showed up a little late for dinner, but I didn’t care.  I just had more time to prettify myself, and trust me, I needed it.  Carolyn has not changed at all.  She looks slightly older, but that’s it.  She pretty much looks exactly the same.  The years have definitely been kind to her.

Sophomore hs

Sophomore hs

Talking to her really felt like coming home.  It was amazing.  I haven’t seen her for many years, but we talked as if we have talked to each other every day since high school.  We just picked right back up where we left off.  I felt the way I did when I met up with some of my grade school friends a few years ago…that I had found something I had been missing for years.  It was like finding the missing part of myself that I had forgotten about.

We showed up at the casino fashionably late.  We walked right past our high school friends.  Then we heard them calling our names.  They probably recognized me right away from all of the pictures of myself that I put online.  And of course Carolyn has not changed at all.  And the fact that we were together, the way we always were in high school, of course they recognized us.

I had trouble recognizing people.  My one friend, I was in the band with him, I just walked up to him and another guy and asked them their names.  I’m friends with him on Facebook for crying out loud.  He just looked at me and said, “You know me, Colleen.”  What an idiot I am.  As soon as he spoke and smiled, I knew.  Then I recognized the other guy with him.  He was in the band too.

Now, you would think that I would have thought to pull out my yearbook and look up the people who RSVP’d to this thing.  No.  Not that smart apparently.  So, instead of making an ass of myself, I just started asking the people I knew who some of the other people were.  By the time the evening was over, I was able to place everyone.

Now, none of these people knew me when I was fat.  In high school, my weight ranged between 120-135 depending on the year.  I think my lowest weight was about 120-121, but that did not last long.  Most of the time, I weighed between 125-130.  I spent a brief stint in my freshman year weighing 135.

So, for them to see me at 171, I had definitely gained weight since high school.  Still, I think I look pretty good.  Most of the people who were there are friends with me on Facebook and some of them read this blog.  Not all of them.  Now I’m sure many of them will at least read this post.  (hello guys!)  Some of them have seen the pictures of me at 300 pounds.  Most of them have not.

After most people had left, me, my best friend, and two of the other girls had a very long talk about weight.  We all laughed at how when we were young we thought we were fat.  I know.  We were not.  Carolyn and I weighed roughly the same weight in high school.  Funny thing is, we weigh about the same now.  Still, we were always dieting, and we always thought we were so fat.  Clearly, we were not.

It’s really a shame, because we were all beautiful, but none of us felt it.  We were always so consumed with how the other girls looked, the fact that some of them were so skinny.  When I look back, I realized that they were unhealthily skinny in many cases.  Yet, we felt so inferior to them.  Why, I do not know.  Some of the girls we were so jealous of, that we thought were so perfect were no different and no prettier than we were.

What I wouldn’t give to go back and talk to my younger self and tell her not to take it all so seriously.  That in the end, none of it mattered.  None of it defined who I am.  I defined myself.  The number on the scale didn’t matter.  Not to people who were truly my friends.

At some point during the evening, we appointed someone to organize an official 30th reunion, since 2014 will be 30 years since we graduated high school.  We are having an official reunion over Thanksgiving weekend next year.  Plans have been made, date set, location secured, Facebook page created, ticket prices established.  They apparently put the right person in charge.

Fun Facts Friday!

I weighed myself this am and I see I am down another pound.  I thought I was down two pounds.  The first time I weighed myself, the scale said 170.  I ran and grabbed my phone to take a picture. Then weighed myself again and it popped up to 171.  Mean old scale!  Still, I’ll take it.

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Here’s the proof!

Another Friday fun fact, I can now wear a size 12 jeans!  I did not think I could ever get here.  Granted, the first time I tried them on, I could not really button them.  So, I laid down on the bed and I was able to get them buttoned!

I told my mom this qualifying my news with the, “Well, they don’t really fit yet.  The only way to button them was to lay down on the bed.”

Her response?  “But if you can button them while lying down, that’s how you know they fit!”

And I wonder why I have body image issues.

Well, the good news is, I’ve lost a couple of pounds since then, and I do not need to lie on the bed to button the size 12 jeans.  I won’t lie.  They are a tad tight, but still. I CAN FREAKING WEAR A SIZE 12!!!!!

That makes me officially out of the plus sizes in pants.  I was always a little bit top-heavy, so it will be a few more pounds before I come down to only a large and not an extra-large in tops, but I’m pretty happy with where I am right now.

I have three pairs of size 11 jeans in my closet.  I tried them on and tried to button them.  Not even close.  I have been wearing the size 14s since March I think  And it’s taken me about 40 pounds to go from 14 to 12.  I’ll give it another 15-20 before I try the 11s again.

So, when I saw my former work buddies last weekend, one of them showed me a picture from two years ago.  I had her text it to me.  This was taken December 2011.  I had already decided to do the gastric by-pass surgery to help me lose weight.  Compare that to this other picture which is me from about a month ago.

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Aug 2012

Aug 2012

What a difference, huh?  I guess that picture was two months ago, now that I look at it.  I have to get some new pictures I think.

If you would have told me two years ago that I would look like I do now, I’m not sure I could have believed it.  I would have wanted to believe it, but the possibility that I could look and feel as good as I do now was something I just could not fathom.  It just goes to show you that you can make big changes in your life.  The results may not come quickly, but if you keep plugging along day by day, you will get there.  And the results can be bigger than you imagined.

Never give up!