Monday, June 14, 2010

Progress Report and Another Number

It was approximately a year ago today that I decided to lose weight. It was when I started scaling portions, not when I started counting calories. Around mid-June of last year is the anniversary of a decision and the start of a process (detailed on the right as "my plan") which ended up landing me where I am today both in terms of lifestyle habits and weight loss.

The plan evolved naturally. I never set out to do what I have done in terms of the details that I've written about. I just took it day by day and week by week and pushed the boundaries of what I could manage as time went by. I think it ended up being a good plan, though perhaps only a good one for me and me alone.

Because the anniversary of that decision was around a year ago, I weighed myself again for the 4th time total in one year. I didn't weigh myself at the beginning because I was afraid that the daunting nature of what I was to face would be reflected in that scarily high number. Besides, my scale only goes up to 330 lbs. and I knew it wasn't going to be able to give me a reading. I'm pretty sure I weighed between 360 and 380, almost certainly closer to the big number than the smaller one. Today I weighed almost exactly 260 lbs. That represents weight loss commensurate with my rough goals to lose about 2 lbs. a week. I'm pretty sure I've lost about 120 lbs in this first year.

I haven't had as easy a time tracking my progress via NSVs (non-scale victories) lately because the changes are less profound as time goes by regardless of actual weight loss numbers. When you start out unable to walk without excruciating pain for even 5 minutes, being able to walk for a half hour without pain is profound. Now, I can walk for an hour without back pain, but it doesn't feel much more significant than doing so for 45 minutes. I focus on NSVs over lbs. lost most of the time because I think these are meaningful measures of improved quality of life rather than arbitrary, objective measures which really have no bearing on the positive outcome of weight loss.

Here are the things I've noticed:
  • The venerable office chair with arms which I had to squeeze myself into a year ago and which I could not even use the armrests on because my arms were perched on top of my middle spare tire, now is a comfortable fit. I can use all of the armrests and I can fit one of my arms between me and the armrests. That means I not only don't have to squeeze in, but have room to spare.
  • A yellow nightgown that I used to squeeze in and stretch to wear at my highest weight now hangs loosely from me (especially around my chest) and is now long enough that my behind and belly aren't constantly threatening to peak out when I wear it. It is currently the only nightgown I have which comes close to fitting properly. My old ones are always falling off my shoulders like Greek or Roman gowns. 
  • My sandals became too big. I had to tighten the straps on them to the smallest size (two more holes tighter) because they were threatening to fly off my feet with every step.
  • Some T-shirts that my husband bought for me about a decade ago but were too tight to comfortably wear now fit or are loose. One of these shirts, the smallest of the bunch, is the only shirt I currently own which properly "fits" me.
  • I ruminate on food less than when I started this and I get hungry less often than before, though I still have days in which I may eat up to a maintenance number of calories when I'm stressed or have strong cravings. I haven't binged and overeaten in quite some time. I have some confidence that I can do this "forever" and still maintain a healthy weight even incorporating days when I eat more due to stress or other problems since I don't go over 2000 calories even with stress eating. My mental relationship with food is starting to "normalize" in that I don't fantasize about it, think about it or obsess over it as much while still being aware of portions and calories. It is far from "normal", but it is much better than it was in every respect.
  • I can nearly, but not quite, squeeze into a size 38C bra that I have. My breasts are way too big for the C cup, but the width of my chest is pretty close. If I were to guess my actual bra size right now, I'd say it's close to or at a 40D. Currently, I'm still making do with 44D bras, but they continue to loosen up. 
At this point in time, I'm mainly interested in the psychology of the process rather than the processes which actually lead to losing pounds. I feel I have a solid grasp of what I have to do and a slightly shakier grasp of carrying out those processes everyday, though likely no more or less shaky than the "average" person who sometimes eats more than they should or things they should not. At this point in time, a "binge" for me tends to mean one cookie or one piece of chocolate more than I can eat on my plan. It never means a whole bag of something or a huge volume of food.

My concerns right now are identity building. I'm focusing my days and my time on pursuing interests which are unrelated to weight or weight loss. Mainly, I'm actively thinking about who I am now and who I want to be and divorcing myself of the concept of being the disgusting fat person. This is a slow process which mainly includes active pursuit of my interests and work (sometimes pushing myself to preoccupy myself with them even when I don't feel like doing so as a means of stopping my mind from wandering back to consuming food as a fill in habit) as well as having the occasional "conversation" with myself about who I really am and what needs to be done to pave the road to being who I want to be.

I am careful at this stage not to define myself in any way related to food or exercise. I am not the person who eats healthily. I am not the person who can control her food intake. I am not the person who exercises regularly or lifts weights. I am a person who does those things, but they are not me and I do not ruminate on them or pay undue attention to them. They get as much attention as they require. They are like washing dishes or doing laundry, things I do because they need to be done, but they do not define me in any way. I am not my beauty or appearance. I am not my clothing size. I don't even know my clothing size, and I do not care.

I am defined by my intellect, my ability and practice of writing, my job, my ability to be frugal and live a modest lifestyle, my emotional control, my love for my husband and those around me, and my compassion and insight. I am my humor and my rapport with my friends and coworkers. I am even a person who likes to cook and prepare interesting meals because that actually has nothing to do with weight. I am my conversational ability and my pursuit of psychology and science. I am a reader and a person who likes goofy old television shows and melodramatic old movies. And, I'm more than that.

I'm laying this all out here both to demonstrate what the process means and to remember what I'm endeavoring to do. I think that there was a person I was who got lost as I became more and more miserable because of my weight and the responses it elicited from others. I need to reconnect with what I lost and fill in the empty places with a positive identity. I think that is the important part to focus on at this time as I continue to make my way through this process. I want to come out whole on the other side, not defined by my body or ability to control my food and exercise.


KyokoCake said...

What amazing progress!! It makes me feel not only really happy for you but really eager to get to a year of being really serious so I can feel awesome results :)

Anonymous said...

I respect what you are doing. It seems to fit well with your personality and world view, at least from what I have observed. (Admittedly limited.) My own efforts feel more organic, less planned, perhaps for I am a much more disorganized person. :)

I am feeling my body more nowadays, or at least more aware of having a body. When I stand, I feel that I have legs. I feel them there without a sensation of pain or endurance.

Maybe that sounds weird. It's just that I have been detached from my body for so long. I have a lot pain, which I think was much worse when heavier. I don't take pain medication anymore, or sleeping aids. So maybe that is partly why I feel so much closer to my physical being. I have little energy, though. That has surprised me. I thought maybe I would feel more energetic by now.

Oh well. Mostly I find that I do not need to fit into some socially constructed category of what a person losing weight is supposed to be like. I exercise when it seems like something I want to do. Most days I like to walk a bit or ride my bike. I'm starting to not worry so much about eating too little. I guess I'm just trying to work with what comes up for me each day, and not get ahead of myself. It's okay for me to enjoy the process and not be concerned about where it's leading.

It feels quite nice to not have as big a stomach in my way. :)


screaming fatgirl said...

Thanks, Kyoko. From your blog, and your picture, you have a lot less weight to lose than I do, so after a year, I'm guessing you'll be finished! I've got almost two more to go.

screaming fatgirl said...

Rebecca: The first time I did this (a long time ago in college), it was more "organic" as you say. And I gained it all back and more. For me, I think my capacity to understand how much I am eating is too broken to trust. Each person has to do something different.

That being said, I don't want to become one of those people who identify so strongly with their bodies and the weight loss process that that is all I am. I see these bitter, rigid women or these nervous, obsessed women who do nothing but talk about weight loss and spend their time either criticizing and blaming others, or worrying about eating a cookie they shouldn't have. I don't want to be that person despite having to monitor myself due to my inability to eat without tracking.

There's some sort of end to this process, and I feel like I'm on my way to it. The end isn't going to include not having to track calories (as I think I'll need that forever), but it hopefully will be a situation where I'm not obsessed with food and have some sort of solid identity.

What you see here isn't me by a long shot. I'm much more humorous than what you see here, and my entire life is hidden from view in this blog, because I don't want to be "found out". One of these days, so much hiding may not be necessary as well.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I kinda glimpse the humorous parts of you here and there in this blog. It's subtle, but extremely likeable. :)