The Back(fat) Story – Changes Abreast
December 14, 2014
Disclaimer: This is a super personal account of 2014 for me. Since August i’ve lost 30 pounds and am learning a lot about what it means to actually take care of myself. This is how I got here. The below is about me and my experience, I don’t think you need to loose 30 pounds (unless you feel like it), I think you look great. I am still fat and will, in all likelihood, be fat always. There are no “before” and “after” photos because my body was fine before and it will be fine no matter what, because it’s mine and it gets me around this earth and helps me eat snacks and wear clothes and pet dogs.
I spent the first half of 2014 feeling like complete dog shit. At the very beginning of the year I went through a bad break-up and more than my fair share of personal trauma, but the real tipping point was having two (in retrospect, totally shitty) health care professionals refuse to give me anesthesia due to my height/weight ratio. To wit, that awful experience was the only time that my weight has negatively impacted me, ever.
Instead of dealing with any of the goings on of last winter, I threw myself into 70 hour tax season work weeks, ate a lot of takeout, and on my one night out per week drank until I got sick and had to lay on the couch the whole next day (eating more takeout). It wasn’t great. I gained about 15 pounds pretty quickly. I stopped exercising. I felt sluggish and crummy.
I had a bunch of totally un-fat related little illnesses come up – a gross skin infection, and what was probably a round of mild listeria, and I needed to get checked out. After my garbage experience with the anesthesiologists, I found myself paralyzed by trying to find a new doctor. It’s one of the most anxiety inducing things i’ve done in recent memory. But I asked around, finally found a new GP, and made an emergency appointment.
The day of my appointment was late in July, and it was totally gross outside. I lugged myself up the sticky subway stairs and up 14th street to the dilapidated “real New York” waiting room of my new GP and just stood there, tapping my foot and trying not to sweat on anything. When I finally met the doctor, it was like a mirage. He was handsome and funny and a godamned micro-farmer. We clicked really hard and he laughed at all my nervous jokes. He took my blood pressure, had the nurse take some blood samples, gave me antibiotics, and asked me if there was anything else bothering me.
That’s when I lost it. There I was, in the tiny office of a complete stranger, bawling. It was the first time I really talked about how shitty my experience with the other doctor’s had been, and how shitty I felt, and how I felt uncomfortable for the very first time in my body. I felt like the skin infection on my inner thighs and the bout of stomach issues I had been having were just gross reactions to being at my heaviest weight ever. He assured me that they had nothing to do with my weight, and that I was, on paper, a completely healthy person. He told me that if I wasn’t comfortable, and I wasn’t feeling well, and I wanted to make a change, he could put me in touch with a nutritionist to try to see if there was anything she could do. He understood my background, and promised not to set me with up a “rah-rah aspartame” nutritionist. He didn’t tell me I was going to die. He didn’t tell me I needed weight loss surgery. He just helped me help myself. It sucks that I feel GRATEFUL that a doctor did right by my fat self, rather than that being the standard operating procedure.
So I did it. It was TERRIFYING but after one session I knew I was doing the right thing. Beth is a MS, RDN, CSSD and probably the sweetest woman I have ever met. We did a two week reset during which I didn’t have any sugar, or complex carbs, or booze. I thought I would die but I didn’t. I thought I would be grumpy as fuck, but I wasn’t. She called me on how much I was drinking, and I was honest with a health care professional for the first time about just how much I was drinking. It was a lot. And it was fucking with my life. I was saying shit I didn’t mean or remember, and I was not showing up for my friends, and I was wasting a whole day a week being hungover. She told me that I needed to limit myself to 5 drinks a week. Hard rule. And i’ve been (mostly) doing that, and it’s insane to me that i’ve been doing that.
Since then we’ve met every two weeks. She’s become like a therapist, a sounding board, someone to share recipes with, and someone who helps me not take this shit so seriously. She laughs and nods that I tell her my fitness goals include “just being more Sporty Spice” or when I bitch about quinoa. I can’t imagine doing all of this without her. She knows that this isn’t just a numbers game, it’s about changing my fucking life, and figuring out what makes me feel good. She doesn’t let me beat up on myself, and she talks me through all of the shit that is weird about being a body-positive fat person becoming less fat. (More on that later.)
It clicked for me when I went away camping for a week a few weeks after our first meeting. The trip is really the highlight of my year, and it’s usually reallllllly boozy and we eat a lot of hot dogs. Like, a lot. This year something changed. My best pal came prepared with a bunch of healthy snacks. We brought swim fins and did long swims or hikes every morning. We ate salads (and some s’mores, of course), and had a bourbon before bed, but it wasn’t WILD and that was fine. It was more than fine, it was GREAT. I came back to work feeling renewed instead of kind of beat up. That was the point of no return.
So here I am. I feel pretty awesome. All of this learning how to take care of myself has really spiraled into all the other non-food related parts of my life. My skin looks good. I still see my friends and they still like me (I think.) I have a bagel every now and then and it’s cool. I feemore in control of my shit than I ever have. I am killing it at work – i’m more focused and more productive. I’m going to get a dog. I’m not dating just to date – not taking any bullshit from tepid suitors.
I feel like a clearer version of myself. I feel pretty happy. I feel a lot of things ALL THE TIME because i’m not suppressing that shit under work or bread or wine. I want to be able to swim a mile. I want to rip a fucking phonebook in half. I mean, who knows what’s going to happen, but for now, I feel good. And that’s good enough.
My basic plan:
I track everything I eat, and eat around 1,600 calories a day.
I exercise 5 times a week. In the Summer/Fall that was a mostly swimming. Now it’s African dance and Couch to 5k training.
I eat whole grains (but not whole grain bread) at breakfast or lunch only.
I drink 5 or fewer alcoholic drinks a week.
I drink a boatload of water.
I get two deviation meals a week that can be whatever I want/need. (Yesterday’s was a cheesesteak.)