Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Part of the Price

The other day, my kids and I were invited to a party at a skating rink. I loved to skate when I was 180ish pounds, but with my feet and knees the way they are lately, I dare not skate right now. I'll get back to it someday. Anyway, this party was a chance for me to see several friends I haven't seen in a good six months or a year. And one friend in particular looked very, very different.

Lisa and I met at sports when our kids were little. We always sat on the sidelines cheering them on, and in between the cheers we would talk about life: being a mom, landscaping, cooking, and of course dieting. Lisa was probably about the same weight as I was when we met... well, actually, I probably weighed more than she did, as I was into the 270's at the time and she was maybe 250 or so. But we carried our weight very differently; mine's generally been dispersed evenly over my body with a little more on the hip and leg area, while she had those awesome thin sexy legs and the apple-round top half. Every time we chatted she was into a new diet: Weight Watchers, Atkins, Wheat Belly, all the popular stuff. Up and down 20 pounds, the same as many of us have done on a diet.

I hadn't seen her in awhile. Almost a year. I was probably around 199 pounds last time she saw me and she was probably around 230. Well, when I walked in, there she was! Out on the rink skating, laughing, and having a great time with her young son... and weighing a good 80 pounds less than she had last year. I was stunned and happy for her! Those always-thin legs were now in tight jeans in a size I could never imagine myself wearing. The apple-belly was nearly gone, too. And she looked like she had SO much energy! Wow!

I gave her a BIG hug and of course told her how awesome she looked. She beamed, telling me she'd had weight loss surgery and feels like a new woman. And then she was off in a flash to skate some more.

As I watched I was filled with happiness for her. She is experiencing the life all of us mothers want to enjoy, participating in happy times with our kids. I remembered myself skating on that same rink floor not so long ago, zipping along with my daughter, laughing and free. 

As I looked closer, I noticed something. She was wearing a short sleeved tee, and her arms looked elderly. They were thin with a lot of empty skin hanging off them, and lots of wrinkles. Her face, too, had aged; I'd guess her to be ten years older than she actually is, because of the sagging, the wrinkles, the thinning hair. It was like her bottom half belonged to a 16 year old and her top half a 55 year old. And for a minute I felt bad for her, until she whizzed by me holding her son's hand, laughing...

I remember when I lost all that weight and my skin was doing the same weird things. I posted about it back then... first, the sagging upper arms. Then the belly skin. Next came the neck sag and wrinkles, and the hollower-looking face. Finally, my hands and forearms started to look older, wrinkly, and saggy... and it was so surprising and distressing to me that I quick-as-a-flash regained 11 pounds (in one week) and filled things back out. Not consciously, of course... I would never *try* to gain weight on purpose... but looking back, the discomfort of the body I barely recognized was a factor in my regain. I did not like looking old. I did not like the sag. I was afraid of what I might see next.

Lisa might not like the sag either... I don't know. But she sure is having more fun than I am! And now that I have had a chance to *really* fill out those saggy bits again, I know I prefer that body to this one. I know I prefer that activity level to this one. This time I know what's coming as I go back down the scale. I've had plenty of time to mentally prepare myself for those changes and to accept them NOW as part of the price I pay for a) having a healthier, better life and b) gaining so much to begin with. That is the price, and I accept it. I will take the older or saggier or more wrinkly look if it means I, too, can fly around the skating rink with my child, laughing, smiling, like I did not long ago.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog for many years, so I remember. I cannot wait for the day you post you are skating with your little girl again! It will be wonderful.

Lori said...

The saggy skin is only temporary. My sister had WLS nearly 10 years ago and she had awful bat wings on her upper arms intially. For a lot of reasons, she opted not to have it removed, now it is not nearly as noticeable. She's a good bit older than you too.
Lori

Traveling Light said...

This:

"As I looked closer, I noticed something. She was wearing a short sleeved tee, and her arms looked elderly. They were thin with a lot of empty skin hanging off them, and lots of wrinkles. Her face, too, had aged; I'd guess her to be ten years older than she actually is, because of the sagging, the wrinkles, the thinning hair. "

is when I began regaining, too. I remember your post about the saggy skin since I had written a post on the same thing about the same time called "I was okay until it got to my face."

I know, I mention this every time you bring it up, but the memory of the day I looked in the mirror (at about 170 pounds) and saw my elderly mother looking back is still painfully real.

I had been noticing the wrinkly thighs and arms with great dismay, but when it got to my face... Well, the rest is history, as they say.

Haha. It's the present, too, isn't it? My scale is still showing that 40 pound gain.

Like you, tho, I've come to the (reluctant) conclusion that despite the unpleasantness weight loss leaves behind-->It's better than being fat and unhealthy!

Determined to travel light,

Deb

MargieK said...

I think the amount of saggy skin you end up with after losing weight is a function of how much the skin was stretched, and how long it was that way.

But I've also heard that if you do "dry skin brushing" faithfully, and eat a healthy skin-nourishing diet, you don't have to have saggy skin. It also helps to lose the weight gradually (don't weight-loss surgery patients lose relatively quickly, so no time for the skin to catch up?).

I've been dry skin brushing for several years, and it makes the skin so soft and healthy. I cannot vouch (yet!) for the avoiding wrinkly skin due to weight loss (because I haven't loss enough for that to show). I'm recovering from hip-replacement surgery, and am hoping that my improved mobility and range of motion will enable me to exercise more and lose (although I don't have as much to lose as your friend did, maybe 30 pounds?); we'll see!

Vickie said...

It takes over a year, in my opinion, to settle into final/low weight. With good exercise/resistance/tone work, most of the things you described get better. Not perfect, but better. With no resistance/tone work, those things do not get better. With continued work they continue to improve.

Lyn said...

Thanks guys! I agree with all you said. Maybe with time, good skin care, and strength training it won't be as noticeable. But if it is? I need to be okay with that. Deb, it sure is an interesting experience watching one's body and FACE change like that. I used to do the dry skin brushing... I think I will take that up again. Anonymous, you can bet that will be a wonderful day :)

Karen said...

3/4 length sleeves are your friends after a total weigh/body transformation.

Look, at a certain point you'll switch from beauty to being functional. If not , you can always chat with a counselor about loose skin and aging topics. The alternative is a cardiac surgeon , stroke rehab, and not being living any more.

I wear my loose skin as a reminder of life and living the second 46 years on my terms. Vickie's experience is mine. One year out is better.

Take down any barrier that is in your way. Ha have you considered lap band?

CatherineMarie said...

The other thing that can help is moisturizing and doing exercises to tone. I've noticed that French and Italian women have much tighter/smoother jaws and necks, and some of that is the language...

I notice a real difference when I moisturize....

i should be full said...

I had WLS 8 years ago and I didn't have very much of the saggy skin despite the 90 pound weight loss. I think it was because I was so young (30). Now after regaining a bunch of weight when I was pregnant with my son and finally losing it again at age 38 I see the saggy baggy wrinkly skin. Luckily for me it's not my face or any place that people look at! My torso, stomach, hips, and boobs are what's a saggy mess. I FINALLY bought new bras yesterday and I'm a full cup size smaller than I was a year ago! But for me it's worth it. I was never going to be a super model and I never wanted to be. You are so right, it's a price we pay to regain our health and I'm 100% wiling to pay it. I'm sane, I'm happy, I like clothes again, I can live with the saggy!

Lyn said...

Karen~

I love 3/4 length sleeves! I have a closet full of them, just a bit too snug in the belly right now. I've not seriously considered lap band. I have friends who have done it, and then ballooned back up eating lots of milkshakes... I think the mind has to be 'fixed' or one will find any way around it and stay heavy.

CatherineMarie~

agreed, and I've been lax on the moisturizing too. I have some really nice sesame oil that I love after a shower!

i should be full~

Love it! I am *so* glad you have that joy and happiness in life! I am willing to pay it, too. Everything is just easier as the weight comes off!

16 blessings'mom said...

I hate my new neck, all wrinkled up. I hate my floppy arms, and my wrinkled thighs. But...I love the extra energy, and the thought of skating around that floor with my kids is heavenly...I have a ways to go, but I choose being able to move! Btw, I also lost most of my hair when I lost 60-ish pounds. It fell out in clumps, leaving me with such thin hair after years of having such a nice full head of it. That is NOT FAIR.:) And I have never heard another person mention that they had lost hair when they lost weight. Is there a reason for this that I am missing?

Lyn said...

della~

Yes! We have to love the energy and health more than we love smoother skin or being able to eat a pan of cookies :)

There is a medical reason for the hair loss... I wrote about it on this post and it a link to the mayo clinic explanation:

http://www.escapefromobesity.net/2010/11/losing-weight-hair-loss.html

It should get better. I switched from Biotin to Biosil this time, so we'll see if that helps.

Tina said...

I'm already seeing the saggy skin but there are ways to deal with it and some of it I'm just going to have to accept as the damage I did to myself.

I used to roller skate and ice skate really well as a kid and at least once a week I still dream I'm skating backwards. Might have to make that a goal for myself!

Fair Enough said...

When most people see an overweight person, they see an overweight person. They don't think "My, how nicely filled-out her skin is! She looks so young and unwrinkly! Her face looks so healthy-full and and not hollow!" LOL, know what I mean?

On the other hand-I really don't think most people see someone that has lost a tremendous amount of weight and think "WOW, SHE LOOKS OLD! FULL OF WRINKLES! LOOK AT THAT SAGGY SKIN! EEP!"

Maybe people that are focused on weight or have certain fixations (sagging skin, wrinkles, etc) see it that way but I really don't think the majority of people do. I think it helps to keep in mind that on the whole, whether it sounds not or nice, people will think generally higher of you when you are not overweight. I'm not saying it's right or ok-but it seems to be just the way it is. You've even discussed it many times on here before. People that are normal/healthy weight just get treated DIFFERENTLY and looked at differently. I don't think people will be judging you as hard for saggy skin and all that as much as you judge yourself for it. People see size much more than they see that other stuff...kind of a sad reality but it is what it is. Make the most of it as you continue to lose and don't let those old barriers stop you from achieving your ultimate goals.

Fair Enough said...

Also, wanting to point out that with proper hydration, exercise, and beauty regiment-You can really help with those beauty side-effects mentioned. Not saying it will stop it all the way, but you can make the best of it. Extra Supportive bras and pants with good tummy support really help, too. Good, structured clothes and undergarments can really make a world of difference.

I didn't have as much weight to lose/lose as much weight ultimately but it still did a number on certain parts of my body. Without my very structured bras, I'd be a sad girl. You'll learn as you go what clothing pieces are absolutely ESSENTIAL and go from there. As a naturally large-busted woman that went down in cup size and band size but still am a large cup size overall-bras are my big thing. For someone with more of the arm issues, find your most flattering cut. Some of those Spanx-style undies are magical for tight leggings and dresses that aren't very forgiving. Trust me, any issue you have can be worked with.

Lyn said...

Tina~

oh it is so freeing, as is swinging on the playground swings. You will love it :)

Fair~

very good points and insights, thanks!

Anonymous said...

This post makes me laugh! I had weight loss surgery too, at age 60 (63 now) and lost about 110 lbs. I've got lots of sags n bags n wrinkles n crinkles. I call em souvenirs! As in, no one comes back from where WE'VE been without souvenirs, haha! Shapewear is my best friend, and I wouldn't change a thing. (Well, maybe I would have chosen not to be fat in the first place, but that didn't happen.) It is what it is.
-KathyA

Barbara said...

Hi Lyn! Do you (or anyone else out there) have a recommendation for a dry brush to get? I did a quick google search, but I don't know what to look out for, specifically.

Thanks!
Barbara

Lyn said...

Barbara~

I got mine at a department store in the bath isle for like $3. It has a wooden, flat handle kind of like what you'd brush a horse with, but smaller! The main thing to look for when shopping for a skin brush is how it feels on your skin. Don't just feel it with your fingers and palms; gently brush it along your arms and back of your hands. It shouldn't hurt or scratch, but also shouldn't be so soft you have to press really hard to feel much. It should be comfortable and stiff enough that it will get the dead skin off if you give it some pressure, but not stiff enough to make you sore or uncomfortable. Hope that helps!