Saturday, August 7, 2010

(Another) Progress Report Quasi-Pep Talk

I haven't been doing these very often because my thoughts don't tend to turn to physical progress as often as they once did. I tend to be more focused on mental progress since that feels more meaningful to me. It's not that the physical progress isn't important. It's actually very important, but one leads to the other and the mental changes have had a more profound effect on my overall quality of life at this point.

I have mentioned before that my weight loss feels like a Russian doll effect. I am getting smaller, but my shape is generally the same. This is sometimes discouraging because my lower body is so disproportionate relative to my upper body and I wish my belly and behind would shrink more visibly.

Part of what has persuaded me to make this post is that I think my stomach finally is changing. The reason that I'm so keen on my stomach changing is that it is such a focal point for unwanted attention from strangers and even business acquaintances. Sometimes I'm sitting across from a person I deal with in my work, and their eyes drift down and gawk at my belly. Sometimes their eyes dart down to it repeatedly. It makes me very self-conscious that people break eye contact during conversations to look at my stomach, and they are in a "client" position so I can't really call them on it.

Here is the progress I have noticed:

  • The old chair with arms which has been my measuring stick for so long continues to offer feedback. When I started, I squeezed into it with difficulty, couldn't use the armrests, etc. Now, I can sit in it comfortably and can fit one of my arms between my body and the chair's arms.
  • The shape of my hips and lower body has changed because my stomach is finally starting so show some "lift". It still hangs down plenty, but it's definitely getting visibly smaller.
  • I can see more of my upper thighs than I have seen in years, both on the sides and at the top. I may actually be developing a bit of a lap.
  • My breasts are getting smaller. Since I'm a "D" cup now and would like to be back to a "C" (my smallest bra size as an adult), that makes me happy.
  • Veins are starting to show on the sides of my wrists and my forearms are pretty much "normal" looking and not fat at all. My upper arms are another story, but I don't think I'll ever be rid of batwings, and I'm not really too preoccupied with that.
  • My collar bones are visible and my shoulders are taking on definition.
  • My upper calves are noticeably smaller. My upper calves have always been huge, even when I wasn't all that overweight. At my highest weight, they were like volley balls attached to the base of my knee. They're still big, but not nearly as big as before.
  • My double-chin continues to shrink at a slow rate, though it is still a little wrinkly which I'm not a fan of.
  • I can feel that there is less fat in my cheeks because the space where the creases leading to my nose is bigger. It's easier to clean pores at the sides of my nose now.
  • I notice that it is easier to sit with my legs together and that when I sit in our tiny (very tiny) toilet, I don't need to use the entire space to spread my legs apart when going to the bathroom.
  • Post bathing powdering of parts of my body that rub together requires less powder. There's less "acreage" to cover.
  • When I shower, I notice that my belly button isn't as "deep" when I clean it. Also, when I sit with my hands resting on my stomach, I notice that my belly button is higher.
  • It's easier to touch type because my stomach isn't getting in the way as much.
  • I use an armless chair, and I used to take up the entire space and possibly hang over the sides a bit. Now, there is a little room on the sides.
  • I negotiate narrow spaces in shops more easily and feel less inhibited about trying to squeeze into them. There was a shop I had been wanting to go into for some time, but the layout was very narrow (keep in mind, I'm in an urban area where the shops are smaller and shopkeepers try to maximize stock space by making narrow aisles). I avoided going in because I didn't want to be knocking things over or totally blocking the aisle such that others couldn't pass by. I finally went into that shop, and everything was okay.
I'm still not incredibly confident about my ability to go out and just do anything. I still don't think I can fit into theater seats, restaurant chairs, or negotiate any space at my current body size. I also wouldn't go on an airplane right now. If I were less pear-shaped, this might not be an issue, but my lower body is just too big.

Last time I weighed myself (not too terribly recently, but not too long ago either), I weighed 249 lbs. It's interesting to consider all of the possible perspectives on this. I started around 380 lbs. by my rough calculations. That means I've lost 35% of my body's weight at its highest point and am roughly 2/3 the size I once was.

I'm also currently only about 19 lbs. heavier than my husband's highest recorded weight. That's probably the smallest difference between his and my weight ever as I have always out-weighed him, though it's important to note that I'm still 50 lbs. heavier than his current weight as he has been losing weight over the past several months as well. It would be nice to one day not be heavier than my husband, though the truth is that our body frames and sizes are roughly similar. His feet and hands are almost the same size as mine, though he is 5 inches taller than me. His frame is on the smaller side, and mine is on the bigger side.

I once talked about the percentages in a post and how each pound lost becomes more meaningful than the last because the ratios keep getting "better". That is, losing 1/380th of my weight is smaller than 1/249th of my weight. Each pound is more meaningful than the last. However, I'm still more interested in mental progress because I feel that on a daily basis, it really has been more profound. Each pound still is not something that I can see as an external change on a daily basis, but I can feel the lack of obsession with food and the lack of struggle on the inside every single day.


Anonymous said...

The part about being able to go into the shop seemed very significant--a kind of true liberation, to be able to explore places you could not explore before.

My greatest progress has been my ability to walk 3 miles every morning without knee pain. There are 2 small hills that I once huffed and puffed to get to the top of, and now I feel as if I *sail* up them.

I do NOT feel confident that I will continue to lose more weight and keep it off. I still do research, almost on a daily basis, to find out as much as possible about weight loss and ESPECIALLY about maintenance. I still feel somewhat obsessed, not with food but with wanting more information about avoiding regain. I believe, based on my many past experiences with weight loss, that *maintenance* will be a much bigger challenge for me, at least for the first several years, than the weight loss process. I do not believe the reasons are mostly psychological. I believe that there are physiological mechanisms, in my case, that I must learn how to compensate for.

I do have a glimmer of hope. But only a tiny glimmer. My weight loss continues to plateau for weeks at a time, for about every 15 lbs lost. I no longer freak out about it. :) I DO wonder if the day will come when it will plateau for months...then I'm not sure what I will do because I eat 1200 calories per day now, and don't believe it is *healthy* to eat fewer. But what do I know? Seriously.

On the other hand...what else am I gonna do with my life to improve it? I study, read, correspond, write and enjoy several close relationships. So far, my weight loss efforts have not impacted any of those activities or relationships in a negative way.

All in all, I am very pleased that I started this massive project to rejuvenate my life. I am currently planning a back packing trip to a pristine lake in the Sawtooths (Western U.S.), an alpine lake I hiked to about 18 years ago. It should be interesting...

Thanks for this great progress report. I'm happy to hear you are doing well, both physically and emotionally.


screaming fatgirl said...

Hi, Rebecca, and thanks very much for your comment!

I don't know how far I can walk, but I walked for an hour and 40 minutes with only a short rest in the middle and a slight sense of fatigue. I don't really have the ability to measure my distance as you do. Being free of pain is a wonderful thing for you though, and me for that matter. That being said, it sometimes feels like more of a burden because I really don't want to go out walking every day in the environment I live in. It's more of a plan for the future sort of thing with the hopes of being able to walk some place nicer.

I guess your lack of confidence stems from biological issues which I'm not aware of. Many people may be IR or have PCOS and that may make it hard. There is also the issue of setpoints, but frankly, I think those can be "broken" to some extent. I'm also dubious that anyone's body has a very high setpoint. I think that they may account for things like your plateauing.

I agree that going below 1200 is unhealthy. Frankly, I'd find it hard to eat 1200 a day at this point. I'm not itching terribly to eat more than 1400-1600, but I think that being in control all of the time makes it harder to wrestle the numbers down lower than I do.

I am entirely confident about continued loss though. I think biology does play a role, but unless there is a concrete issue, most people will lose on average at caloric deficit levels. Yes, there are people with slow metabolisms, but I think that can be repaired through time. Mainly, I think that not under-eating massively and continuing to work on muscle mass and getting exercise helps most people.

I don't do tons of research as you are doing, so I could be wrong. I realize every person is an individual, but the body does have predictable responses for the most part.

If you'd like to talk about the physiological issues that you think will make maintaining difficult, I'd be very curious to hear about them, though I'm not terribly worried about maintaining myself. I just want to get to the end at some point. When I get there, I don't expect to do anything except eat just a little bit more everyday than I do now.

RedPanda said...

SFG - Congrats on seeing the physical results of your weight loss! I hear you on the belly thing - at my heaviest, sometimes people would ask me if I had kids and their eyes would drift towards my belly, as though they were thinking, "She MUST have at least ten!". Ugh!

Rebecca - I agree with SFG that, unless you have physiological issues like PCOS, you should be able to continue losing. In my own experience, a sluggish metabolism can definitely be "reset" by eating more, giving it time, and continuing to exercise (both cardio and strength training).

Re maintenance, the first few years are definitely difficult, but as you continue to plug away with your diet and exercise regime, it really does become a new lifestyle.

screaming fatgirl said...

Hi, RedPanda, and thank you for commenting. I'm glad that you have found maintaining doable. I really don't have much concern for that phase as I'm so close now to what I expect to do in the future. I don't expect to eat appreciably more on the whole and I think having that sort of expectation makes it feel more manageable.

I really do feel bad for anyone who has a physical issue like a thyroid problem or PCOS which makes weight loss harder. It's difficult enough as it is with all of the biological and psychological issues just related to cutting calories on the whole and trying to squeeze in more movement. Having other issues layered on top of that must make it that much more frustrating.