Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Having my cake

Yesterday, my husband and I went out to take care of some shopping and during the extended time it took to walk, my husband and I stopped in at a coffee shop and had tea and coffee and cake. At this particular shop, you have to bus your own tray and my husband took his tray over first while I fussed with my coat. As he was at the other end of the shop, I walked over so he saw me approach from a distance. He said he was struck by how much smaller I looked and that my body was one which people would no longer take unusual interest in because it appeared "normal".**

After we ate our cakes and left the shop, my husband said that he was proud of everything I'd accomplished with my weight loss. I noted the irony of his saying this after he and his wife, who is eating a restricted number of calories, had just left a cafe and consumed about 300 calories of cake. My husband never would have seen the connection, but it's an exceptionally meaningful act for me.

This simple experience carries immense meaning for me at this stage in my transition from 380 lbs. to my current weight of 199 lbs. The importance is on multiple levels. The first is that I did not agonize over that cake or deciding to have it. Any reluctance to have it or not was based on economics (it was a somewhat expensive indulgence) and my perception of the quality of the experience as compared to what I could prepare myself vs. the novelty and timeliness of it. The calories, while noted and factored into my daily total (which was 1500), were not even part of the decision-making equation.

The second way in which this carried meaning for me was that I never did this before. As a very, very fat person, I would have been too self-conscious to go into a coffee shop, sit my big ass down, and really enjoy a piece of cake. I didn't think I deserved the pleasure, and I thought everyone would be judging me for having the audacity to be fat and eat sweets (in public, no less). I had no reservations at all despite still being overweight. "Dessert" (as in what I "deserved") didn't enter the equation either. It was completely okay for me to have this very natural pleasurable experience. Other people's scrutiny wasn't on my mind. This means I have successfully stopped applying a value judgment to food choices and that I do not concern myself with such judgments made by others (or no longer expect them because my size is no longer one which brings such types of scrutiny).

The third manner in which this was meaningful was that afterwards, I didn't feel remorse or regret. The idea of beating myself up for "indulging" didn't enter the picture. This is because I've practiced balance from the very beginning. I can have my cake, and eat it too. It's all about portions and making choices to find equilibrium, not about denial and deprivation.

Finally, I think the fact that my husband never questions my choices about food in terms of my continuing weight control and loss is also a triumph. It means that the way in which I've carried this out has left him confident in my ability to make the right judgements without resorting to Draconian measures or strict control guidelines. I intentionally left him out of my processes in terms of monitoring me because I didn't want him to be put in the bad position of being my "food police", nor did I want him to have to control his choices so I wouldn't be tempted. The way in which we could enjoy a piece of cake together even while I am still losing more weight without his being concerned that I was "backsliding" was also a victory.

While my husband mentioned "normal" in terms of my body, I really felt it in terms of psychology. Normal people can go into a coffee shop during a long stint of walking and enjoy a beverage and cake without all sorts of neurotic responses, and now, I can, too. And, I can do it and still keep losing weight. This small thing meant more to me than I can really adequately convey in mere words.

**"Normal" in this case is not to be confused with "thin" or "average weight". He means that my body size is not so large as to attract undue attention despite being fat. Essentially, I've gone from freakishly fat to just "fat".


As an addendum, I'd like to leave a comment about my weight loss progress numbers. On January 31, 2011, I posted that I weighed 203 lbs., and on April 5, 2011, I now weigh 199 lbs. That may appear to be only a 4 lb. loss over two months, but the 203 was an anomalous number. That low value came on the heels of my back injury which required a cessation of all exercise and nearly a week of full or partial bed rest. I believe the 203 was a low value brought on by erosion of muscle mass during my period of convalescence. My weight at the end of February was 207 lbs., and at the end of March/beginning of April is now 199.

These fluctuations did not trouble me, because even when I weighed myself at the end of January, I knew that the large drop was likely loss of muscle and there would be a rebound when I could exercise again (after my back had healed). So, this isn't a 4 lb. loss over two months as much as about a 20-lb. loss in 3 months and that is quite satisfactory.

This slowing down in my loss rate was expected though. I knew once I approached 200 lbs. that the rate would drop and I'm okay with that. My sense/plan all along was to hope for (but not necessarily expect) an average loss rate of about 1 lb. per week after I got into the 200 lb. range. I also know that an extended plateau may yet emerge. That's okay, too. I've also had more days as of late (compared to the past, not as a proportion of a week or month) in which I've eaten "more" (closer to 1800-2000). On stressful days, of which I've had plenty lately, I don't overeat, but it becomes harder to endure prolonged hunger. Frankly, I also think that it's not such a bad thing to mix up a few days closer to maintenance level eating at this stage of the game. Much of what I've read would indicate that sort of thing may stave off plateaus. At any rate, as long as I'm not overeating due to stress, I'm quite satisfied.