Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hanging Flab, or, Where the Fat Is

Boy, this weight loss thing has a lot of ups and downs!

Yesterday I was standing in the bathroom washing my hands, when I noticed in the mirror that WHOA, what happened to my arms? What are those mutant arms in the mirror?? Now really, I am all for being positive about my body but I was honestly shocked when I noticed how my arms are changing. The forearms and wrists have slimmed down a LOT in the last few weeks, and maybe the upper arm is starting to shrink too, but whoa, the upper arm is SO much bigger than the forearm! I stood there and looked: yep, I am getting nice, almost normal looking forearms which, compared to the old super puffy forearms, look pretty different and alien to me. Add the way the upper arms seem to be melting into puddles around my elbows and you get something that isn't very comforting. In fact, if I took a photo of my upper arm or elbow alone and posted it anywhere, people would assume that it belonged to a morbidly obese person. And the flab sort of swings around when I move. I don't like it.

This morning I put on a pair of jean shorts I bought not too long ago. They fit just right, but they are shorter than the ones I usually wear. I am a capri length kind of gal. I like my knees to be covered. And when I am in jeans or capris I look in the mirror and think I look pretty darn good. I can even ignore the arm issue for the most part. And people I haven't seen in awhile DO notice how good I look. I am proud of my progress pictures and think, "hey, I look really good." But this morning I put on those new shorts which are cut just above the knees, looked in the mirror, and thought, oh dear. My knees are absolutely loaded with fat. It's like there are blobs attached all around my knees. Again, if I look a picture of just my knees, you'd guess they were of a person in the 250-300 pound range.

I guess that's why people have always said I "carry it well." My face is slim. My waist is curvy and trim. I have a nice rack. I have collarbones and good shoulders and the chins are mostly gone, and my wrists and ankles look nice. But what people don't usually see is the really abnormal amount of fat around my knees and thighs. THAT is where I carry the weight. That, and the upper arms. I probably need to lose 40 pounds off just those areas.

Don't get me wrong. I am not discouraged, disappointed, or down on myself. I *love* what I am doing for my body and my life. Fat thighs and arms don't change that. I know they will shrink over time, and who knows how they will look at goal? Loose skin? Hanging? I dunno, maybe, maybe not, it doesn't matter because it doesn't really affect me. 100 extra pounds of fat affected me. This, I will get over. And making honest observations about my body is part of coming to accept who I am.

In the shower this morning, even before I looked at myself in those shorts, I was thinking, "I am not going to be able to fix all of this..." meaning the way my body has changed because of having been morbidly obese, combined with being 41 years old. But you know, it was not a negative thought or feeling. It was one of acceptance. "I may not be able to fix all of this, but I can care for my body the best I can, and it will BE the best it can be, and that's just fine."

I am wearing those shorts today even though I think I look way fatter in them because they emphasize my knee fat. I am not feeling terribly self conscious about it. It is what it is, this is me. I have lost weight but I am obese. I have battle scars, I have fat arms and knees, so what? I also wear a bathing suit in public because I want to swim. I won't let my own self consciousness rule my life anymore. In all reality, no one really cares if my knees are fat or not, and next year at this time I'll be wearing much smaller shorts with much thinner knees. I don't have to be perfect to be happy.

Have a GREAT day!

25 comments:

NewMe said...

You just have to accept it, and it looks like you are.

About the knees: it could also be swelling due to arthritis.

Keep up the great work!

Val said...

"I don't have to be perfect to be happy." A freaking men!

You are making great progress. Keep up the awesome work :)

Anonymous said...

wooo hoooo - love your post today.. self acceptance is what it's all about - you've worked your butt off literally for this.. love yourself for who you are today... i know you are there... xo P

Lisa said...

You have given me a new mantra..."I don't have to be perfect to be happy." Thank you for a wonderful, honest and inspiring post!

beerab said...

You know as time has gone by I HAVE seen my arms slim- during my 5 month competition at work my arms went down by ONE inch! All I did was encorporate 3 lb weights in my walks. I walk and pump up and down and stuff and I have noticed a huge difference! I see a lot more definition in my upper arms- if you go for walks get a couple 3 lb weights and just use them while you go :) I know 3 lbs seems light but after time they feel heavier!

You are doing great girl :)

Jennifer said...

I totally relate to this post. I have lost 64 lbs and I am so pleased with myself....even if my midsection looks like a trainwreck :) I will work on it and it doesnt stop me from being happy with all the progress I have made. good for you Lyn. Keep up the good work.

Jennifer
http://wecanlosethepounds.blogspot.com/

Leslie said...

The lose skin and forever-altered parts of our bodies are definitely detritus of being overweight for a long time. I think of them as battle scars. And definitely it all gets smaller over time, but there is a certain amount of body consequences we aren't going to be able to exercise away.

Love this post - wait until you're 56 and realize that a lot of the body stuff is definitely not going to go all the way away! Keep up the great work, Lyn.

Once Upon A Dieter said...

I have this reaction every time I do Pilates and am checking form for arm exercises in the mirror. My elbows down look nearly normal (though I've only lost 40 lbs and am 65 pounds heavier than you), but they seem to emerge from these enormous upper arms...with these slabs that hang down and wobble. I know that contrast is not going away, even when I lose more weight. I'll have even mroe stuff hanging, though emptier. Ah, well. As you say, it's happier to focus on what good we're doing for our health.

Lanie Painie said...

This is a good message and a timely reminder to me that I need to get on the Wii Fit Plus and work on the birdseye bullseye game which should help tone my own flabby arms.

Thanks for the inspiration!

SeattleRunnerGirl said...

I really needed this post today, especially: I don't have to be perfect to be happy.

I'm losing a lot of weight and it feels great and I really DO see the difference in myself. At the same time, it's easy to get hung up on the extra skin on my upper arms or my belly roll that is being stubborn.

But you know what? Screw that. I don't have to be perfect to be happy. THAT is my mantra for today!

Linda said...

Let me offer an observation ~ the best way to deal with the parts you aren't so happy with is to emphasize the parts you are! Every woman, no matter if at ideal BMI or not, has figure 'flaws'. Learn to draw attention to those parts you're not self-conscious about!

I've been following your blog for the last month or so, and you've been a wonderful inspiration for me. Keep up the good work, and I think you look fabulous even now!

Jen in MN said...

From the sound of it, Lyn, we have the EXACT same body type. My "trouble zones" are exactly the ones you describe! I too am much more comfortable in capris than in shorts, and to some extent think I always will be. Like you, I won't let that stop me from living my life!
My "arm solution" (besides eating well, cardio, and upper body weights) is to avoid a farmer tan at all costs. This spring, I started wearing sleeveless outdoors practically all the time. It really looks a lot better when the whole arm is uniformly tan! And now they are a bit thinner & more toned, too. Baby steps! (-:

Bunpoh said...

I too seem to have the same loose skin/extra flab issues in the same places. We are almost exactly the same weight now, too, since I've been maintaining there for a while. It's an interesting place to be, so much thinner but imperfect, realizing what we are about our changing bodies. You're right, we can't let self-consciousness stand in our way any longer, and we do not have to be perfect to be happy. Thanks for the insight, as always.

Lynna said...

I sooo agree with the comment to accentuate the positive. And, girl, you've got it going on. If I had your figure, I'd wear cute strappy sandals and shirts that showed a slight bit of cleavage. Jewelry and makeup that said, "Look at me, aren't I fabulous!"

Anonymous said...

Hi Lyn,

I feel your pain on your arm and knee flab, but you know, I reckon that you ought to let those batwings wave proudly in the wind..lol. At some point in the future, you may consider having some "work" done, but the shrinking arms and the skin that goes with it are still marks of courage and progress. You don't have to be perfect to be happy and proud of yourself.

great work!

Helen

She woke up FAT said...

There is no such thing as perfect. If you liked your arms you wouldn't like something else. Just keep up your hard work and be proud of yourself.

Sandy said...

I totally know where you are coming from Lyn, i have the exact same problem...upper arms, knees and thighs. But just remember that this too shall pass :-)
And before you know it the rest of your body will look just as good as the rest!
You're doing great!

Anonymous said...

I think no matter what our weight, we all have something to hide :) or atleast think we do. That is where Stacy and Clinton from what not to wear come in! seriously it is a great show because it shows what is most flattering for each body type etc. So you 'can't' wear shorts go with what makes YOU feel good.

Anonymous said...

I liked this post. You have the right attitude, but I am often exactly in the same place. I am now at a normal weight and have been for a couple of years (lost 50 lbs to go from 200 to 150-is). I have saggy upper arms, stretch marks and saggy tummy, legs that don't look so great. I definitely try to focus on the positive, and I am WAY happier than I was at a higher weight. I think it is a challenge to consciously focus on the positive, and not focus on the problem areas. When I look at another person, I don't focus on their upper arms or midsection. It doesn't make sense for me to look exclusively at those either. But anyway, this is an ongoing challenge . . . One thing I find annoying is the lack of dresses and shirts with SLEEVES! I am now 47, and I can assure you that women who are my age who don't have the skin issues still often look much better with some sleeves. But everything in the store is sleeveless . . .

Dinah Soar said...

At 41 you can fix a lot...in time your skin will fit better and you can build some muscle in those arms to tone them. Now if you were 70 it might be a different story. Don't think of yourself as old.

Megan said...

I feel your pain. I lost 50-ish lbs, starting at 184. At barely 5'1", I could still stand to lose a few more-and it is hanging around my upper arms, my thighs and knees and that darn C-sectioned belly. I'm still learning how to dress for my new body and I hope to figure out the best way to accentuate the positive in my figure!

April said...

i have the exact same problem, except opposite areas. ALL of my weight is right in the center. it's ALL stomach. and i still have 40 pounds to lose, and i keep telling myself, "well it has to come off somewhere. and that somewhere HAS to be my stomach." so just tell yourself it'll have to come off somewhere! :)

Hanlie said...

Yeah that's true! We have to realize that we won't be able to fix everything. And that is okay!

By dressing well anyone can look good, no matter what flaws you're hiding...

Salted with Shadows said...

What a great post Lyn, and how true. You don't have to be perfect to be happy...words to live by. I'm going to try to live by them, too!

screwdestiny said...

"I don't have to be perfect to be happy."

Preach it!