Thursday, September 1, 2011

Size misconception

This has been a topic on my mind for years, and I often think about my size, especially now that I am smaller.  When I was a 3x, I would try to squeeze in those tight dresses, and when I was a 2x, I wanted to get into that Extra Large.  Working at XXI and for Spanx, I have noticed other women have correct sizing issues.  It's a sensitive subject, but more often than I'd like to admit, I've dealt with customers who insisted they were a size they were not.  Most recently, I picked up a body con dress in the store that was a Large, but it looked bigger than normal.  At closer inspection, it seemed like a customer who was not a size 10 tried it on and had stretch it out noticeably.  Empathy for this customer settled in, as with another Spanx customer story an associate relayed to me.  Apparently, an obese customer who was probably a dress size 22/24, had picked up the Slim Cognito full slip in an XL and was in the dressing room trying to get it on.

I will admit, there were moments as an extremely obese person, that I tried to squeeze myself into shapewear that was not my size.  I sometimes cried when it was so tight that I couldn't breathe and had a hard time taking it off.  My heart really goes out to anyone in this position.  The size misconception, the letter on a label, can really reek havoc on you when you desire so much to look and feel slimmer.  Partly, this distortion is due to fashion industry marketing on waifish models who starve themselves to fit into tiny outfits, but it's also our own self perception, or misperception.  When I was large, I thought myself smaller.  I really believed that if I thought smaller, I would be smaller.  It wasn't until I started to really lose weight back in 2004 that I noticed the difference in my width, the inches that were disappearing and the slow, slooowww movement of the scale.  In the 4 years that I put my nose to the grindstone and lost those first 75 pounds without the help of the LapBand, I saw those dress sizes drop from a 28 to a 26 to a 24 and eventually down to a 20.  Then it halted.  I kept working out the same, but the scale didn't move. For nearly 3 years, I maintained this incredibly loss but my body refused to burn any more fat.

The frustration finally got to me.  I'd begged my parents to help me pay for surgery since a Freshman at LSU, and finally, just days before I turned 30, the begging came to an end.  I sat down with my mom one night and said I just can't take this anymore.  I've worked so hard to get to a healthy weight and it won't happen.  Within the week, I went to another educational session at a different doctor than the first two I'd been to, and saw him for the initial appointment. After presenting him with my psychological case history (ok, written by me, but I do have a master's degree in Counseling) detailing my efforts to lose weight, a clean bill of health (I had previously been Dx with insulin resistance, but the 75 lbs cleared that up and I had no other health issues), I was surprised by his eagerness to schedule my surgery.  4 weeks.... I was shocked.  It was only 2 weeks before my 30th birthday, and I had plans to fly to Brazil for New Year's.  It was a Brazilian foodie vacation, because just as I got back I had to start the two week liquid diet. I managed to lose 13 pounds pre-surgery though, which was almost twice what he'd asked me to lose.

All went well.  It took me nearly 14 months to get to my "goal weight" for my doctor of 175.  I was determined that I wanted to be 145 lbs though, I had that number stuck in my head and I was determined, no one was stopping me.... until....

I was reading a forum and saw a post by a woman who was stuck on a certain weight, that weight was 92 lbs or her 5'2 frame.  She described this obsession with great detail and I realized that 145 pounds was way too thin for me on my 5'7.5" frame.  Just as I got down to 160 lbs, I got sick.  It wasn't a healthy 160 lbs, it was a, "Your band is too tight, you can't kept anything down" we need to unfill.  This unfill stabilized me around 175 for about 8 months, then the stress of a new job set in and my stomach clamped up and I didn't eat for days.  I couldn't even get water to stay down.  I had moody, cranky, nutrition deprived headaches, and I was not pleasant to be around.  I had the band completely emptied and I bounced up to 190 lbs.

Today, the scale says 185 lbs.  I've managed, with an empty band, to lose about 5 lbs. in the last month.  Stress has subsided now, though I know I need a fill.  I get hungry more often, so I eat more smaller meals and I don't always make the wisest food choices.  Noom, an app for my phone has certainly helped me keep better track in order to lose these 5 lbs, and I would like to get back down to a health 160 lbs. for my wedding next year.  I'm positive that if I continue to walk, do pilates and yoga, and keep up with my weight training routine, I will take off those pounds.  This time, I am doing it the calculated, measured way as I did in during the initial post surgery weight loss.  I refuse to be a bariatric regainer, but rather a bariatric rebounder.

As for everyone out there who refuses to accept themselves as the size they are, I believe they will continue to struggle to get to and maintain that healthy weight.  You have to except yourself as you are before you can become what you want to be.  Spanx won't make your size 24 body a size 6.  Even now, as a size 12-14, I'm finding all my size medium samples aren't quite fitting the way they should.  Definitely more incentive to stay a-movin' and a-shakin' on the slow and steady path to success.  While I once said, "I want to be a size 6 when I get married," these realizations have brought me to the conclusion that I will look find in a size 8 or 10 wedding gown.  The bonus - I'm making my wedding dress, so there won't be a size label to cut out of my dress to fool myself into thinking I am something I am not, but losing those last 20 or so pounds again and working to maintain my successes daily is what is truly important in the long run. If the label really bothers you, cut it out. It's not worth the agony to fret over a letter on a tag or reaching an unrealistic number on the scale.

I'm not perfect, no one is.  Neither or our bodies.... but being realistic and precise about what we eat while working on why we eat what we shouldn't eat and correcting that behavior is the meaning of this journey.  It is a journey we take every day, and each day I try to grade my success.  Today, I was 90% successful, tomorrow I will aim to be 110% successful. Sunday, I may be only 75% successful, but I will make up for it by continually evaluating my successes and failures and maintaining my commitment to myself.  I am the only person I am doing this for, it is for my health, and if I lie to myself about it, who can I trust to keep the commitment?  The worst thing you can do is lie to yourself.

1 comment:

  1. This brought tears to my eyes. If you want, I can help you, I am nutritional coach. In my older years I too gained enough weight to be considered obese. Please feel free to contact me, I am a phone call, text, e-mail away. I will message you on face book. THANK YOU for sharing your story regardless of the hurt and/or happiness you have experienced!! YOU ARE UNSTOPPABLE GIRL - NEVER GIVE UP!!!! :))

    Many blessings,
    Joanna (HHS Class of '97)