i must decrease
I have written plenty for the Gazette that is not serious. Sometimes you just need to produce something to meet a deadline, and I can do that if forced (the Gazette is gracious and does not force me).
But there are a handful of pieces that I have written that are deadly serious, and all of those I have not wanted to write. Seriously. I'm a private person and most of my thinking is done in my head, so by the time I am ready to write it down and make it public, I have probably been kicking it around for a year.
And so when I am convicted about needing to write something, it's seldom "oh, can't wait to share", it's "oh no. I have to write about THAT?" Tonight is no exception. I got home from my drive (the best place to think) and tried to stall this process by cleaning up the kitchen, making tea, etc. CLASSIC! I tweeted a Seinfeld gif! Couldn't find a gif of the prophet Jonah, unfortunately.
Enough preamble. I lost at least 30, maybe 35 pounds in the last year. I'm not sure exactly how much I weighed when I started. I do know I gained 5 pounds back during my trip to Texas last May, but it was 100% worth it and definitely doesn't have anything to do with the 20+ unique beers I had while there, or the pulled pork on a donut, or... anyway...
There was no particular impetus a year ago, other than the knowledge of my brother's upcoming wedding. I'm shallow enough (just barely) to want to look good in those photos.
What ended up working for me, after dabbling in all sorts of sporadic diet and exercise plans over the past 10-12 years, was pretty simple: calorie restriction, tons of water, less alcohol, move as much as possible. That's it. There's more to go, but I know I can stick with this permanently. It's healthy.
Instagram keeps showing me dramatic photos of people who have lost a hundred pounds in a year. I remind myself that those people dedicated real time to training in a gym, they ate special foods, they have different bodies.
By taking my time, I haven't ended up with a bunch of weird loose skin (it's a thing!) and I haven't changed so much that I no longer feel like "me" to myself. It's still strange, don't get me wrong. I lost two pants sizes, and so now when I see my own pants in the dryer, I think WHAT LOOSE WOMAN LEFT HER PANTS HERE before realizing they are mine, just.... so much smaller.
Part of what pushed me into getting outside so much was Aaron Everingham's death last year. That hit me far harder than expected. I was stressed at work already, and when that news arrived, I literally broke out in a rash all over. I realized if I did not make permanent changes to process my stress, things were going to get worse - never mind my physical state, my mental state! And so I went outside and FOUGHT for the fresh air and the sunshine, trying to counteract the side effects of the steroids I was on for a few weeks. It stuck. I still miss Aaron. I would give anything to be able to pick up the phone and ask his advice on life. But I'm realizing maybe the best thing I can do at this time is take care of myself, so I can be here for others.
Going slowly at this has also enabled me to process how I feel about myself. When I first got started, my crazy doctor sort of eyeballed me and asked if I was dropping a veil and allowing people to look behind the curtain. I guess.... sort of?
I don't like being looked at. I have been roughly the same shape and size since puberty, meaning EXTREMELY SHELTERED and INCREDIBLY INTROVERTED me, since the age of 14, has been receiving all kinds of male attention and feeling TERRIBLE about it, because I thought I was doing something wrong. Obviously, at a certain point, I realized I wasn't, but most generic male attention still skeeves me out or pisses me off. When you are looked at with lust, there is no room for consideration of whether you're funny, smart, or a good cook. (Notice how I put those things there? THOSE are the things I consider my selling points.)
This kind of attention also follows you no matter WHAT shape you're in.
And then there's the kind that I get now that I didn't 35 pounds ago, which... guess what... I also don't like. All of this has contributed somewhat to my current (somewhat instinctual) hibernation. Since I'm not planning on showing it off, there isn't any particular motivation to get myself into AMAZING shape.
I lost 20 pounds 3 years ago because I was heartbroken and depressed and completely lost interest in eating. If you know me, you know I love cooking and eating good food, and I believe it's a tremendously important part of our lives. But there were MONTHS in 2014 where I just didn't care. And so I lost 20 pounds in the worst possible way. I guess I got enough calories from beer and bourbon to survive. As soon as I started eating again, the weight came back. I didn't hate myself, didn't hate the way I looked (more than any average woman does when she looks in the mirror and jiggles what can be jiggled). Everyone has days where they think they look great and days where they don't like what they see.
I think about that Radiohead line a lot, "I want a perfect body/I want a perfect soul" - well aware that my body will never be perfect until it is resurrected. I can get right down to whatever the government says I'm supposed to weigh (spoiler alert: probably never going to happen) but I will still have the stretch marks I've had for 15 years, the wrinkles I've had for the past few, the gray hairs that are lurking under the henna, the man-sized hands and feet. And I'm fine with it - it takes the pressure off. I have been technically overweight my entire life, so taking a while longer to whittle down isn't going to hurt. I have a mom bod, and I'm fine with it. Take a good look, gents: this is probably exactly what I will look like after prospectively giving birth to your children. Now stop looking. Thank you.
My fingers changed sizes. I switched the ring I wear every day from my right hand to my left because that's where it fits now.
I had to buy new clothes. There's a surprising market for plus-sized clothes, and so I have managed to sell enough of my old things to be able to afford new (second-hand) clothes.
I'm still wearing the same belt. At my heaviest, last winter, I was on the last notch of 5. I've cut 3 new holes since then, and will soon cut a fourth. I had a flu virus partway through Lent, which is also a very efficacious diet tool if you're looking for tips.
I haven't joined a gym yet because I do not want to pay money to have to share equipment and space while being forced to speak to people. If the weather is okay, I head to the nature preserves and hike or walk until it gets dark or until I see a snake or think I hear bears. If there are projects to be done (stacking wood, raking the lawn, lugging rocks) I do those instead. If I am really feeling bad about myself, I do an arm workout from Youtube, and then I just end up wishing I had raked the lawn.