Sunday, April 22, 2018

Last Time, This Time: Relosing 100 Pounds While Honoring My Feelings


The first time I went through this section of weight loss,,, from 205 to 195.. was in June of 2010. I was on Medifast, eating about 900 calories a day and the only exercise I was doing was walking a mile or so several days a week. I went through several stages of physical and emotional change, and I've been feeling a bit of deja vu this time around as some of the same things are surfacing. Not everything is the same, but so far, a lot of it is, even though I am eating a lot more food this time (but still lower carb). I know that if I don't want to get the same result as last time (regaining most of the 103 pounds I lost) I will *need* to learn from the past and change the things that led to my regain. Easier said than done, but with this in mind I set out to re-read my blog from those days and make notes of what was happening and where I went wrong. This might be a little long, but I need to work this through.

June 2010, 205 pounds. I was feeling a peace with food and a lack of obsession with what I ate and the fluctuations on the scale. However, I was eating mostly food packets all day and rarely had to actually think about food. I think I've learned a lot more this time, having to make my own food choices and not eating on a predetermined schedule. It should be easier to maintain this time without having to switch to some other way of eating.

At this weight I also started to notice negative body changes. Before that, it was all positive: getting smaller and less fat with fewer rolls and smaller sizes. But suddenly, I saw the crepe paper skin developing on my inner thighs and noticed how much fat I still had around my knees while the rest of my body was shrinking. I had this weird experience of putting on smaller, tighter shirts and thinking I looked "too good" or that I had "massive boobs" (in an attention drawing way) so for a long time I just wore shirts that were too big and didn't accentuate my slimming waist.

In the few pounds before I hit 199, I had anxiety about getting below the 200 line. I had been well over 250 for so long, and it even felt like part of my identity. I started to have strange dreams, vivid memories and raw emotions about my past and present. It ranged from serious anger that I can't run, to shock at noticing I had a thigh gap while I was bent over washing my hair, to elation at my newly "skinny" ankles, to anxiety about losing the clothing I liked best and having to switch down to size 14W pants and L shirts.

Once I hit 199, I wrote about how much easier it was to move and walk. I was startled when I first felt my hip bones and really freaked out over being able to feel my internal organs through my skin. I often would look in the mirror and could not believe that was me. I'd hold up my clothes and be shocked how small they were and that I could fit into them. All of these are the same things I have been going through in recent weeks. Trying on clothes and thinking they would draw too much attention to my shape, so putting them away and wearing something more baggy. Seeing my ankles looking thinner, boobs looking more prominent as my waist shrinks, noticing (with not as much shock) my hip bones and yep, being icked out at feeling what's under my stomach skin.

What's very interesting to me is that today, at 195 pounds, I put on a tee shirt and looked in the mirror and felt absolutely horrified at my arms. Yeah, I have mentioned the fat upper arms before... it's always there. But suddenly today what I saw made me actually emotionally upset. Anxious. So much so out that I took pictures to show you just how upsetting my arms are!

 

And then, as I looked back on my 2010 journey, I saw that at *exactly* this same weight... 195 in mid-July 2010... I wrote a post about how suddenly I have "mutant arms." It was super upsetting to me then, even thought I was trying to just be accepting and cool with it. And if I am being honest, it is upsetting now, too. The rest of me looks pretty normal, even good! But the arms ruin it. I know I shouldn't care, but I have a real, emotional reaction to it. And then I put on a long sleeved shirt because there is NO way I am letting anyone, even my family, see my arms looking like that.

What I did eight years ago was this: write about the feelings, try and talk myself into being "over it," and continued right on losing weight. Four pounds later (191) I posted that I felt like I was not ready to keep losing, was having an emotional crisis (not just about the arms), was stressed and eating off plan. I was upset because my clothes were once again getting too loose and not fitting properly, and my lower belly was deflating into a saggy mess that I could grab in handfuls. I just felt like I could not handle it. But I powered through and kept losing weight anyway. Just one month after my "mutant arms" post, I was 8 pounds lighter, still struggling to accept the even droopier skin on my arms, thighs, and belly and having a fit when I saw myself in a mirror in a doctor's office and saw how my thigh fat and skin was spreading out on the sides like giant pancakes. I was having anxiety about all the changes and started to feel triggered by seeing or hearing about foods I "couldn't have." I regained 7 pounds really fast. Maybe that alleviated some of the droop and hang and made me feel better somehow.

But what did I do then? Did I listen to my feelings, honor my emotions? No, I kept right on losing, fought to get those seven pounds back off and got down to 185 pounds just weeks later. That's when I wrote my post, I Don't Like My Melting Body. The mushy body parts, hanging skin, and dripping/melting effect was *really* bothering me! I even wrote that at 193 pounds it wasn't that bad, but at 185 it was just horrible. I got down to 184 but apparently I wasn't coping well and started to stress eat, because within a week I gained NINE pounds... right back to 193. Interesting? It was not intentional. But my body was trying really hard to keep me in that more comfortable place. I just was not ready to keep losing.

Did I learn from that? No... I kept right on fighting my way down the scale as quickly as I could, hitting a new low of 183 just two weeks later. Oh, there was good. There was joy. There was the fun of fitting into 14's and then 12's, posting progress pictures, getting lots of praise from everyone who was watching me succeed at weight loss. There were collarbones and a jaw line and being able to swing on the swings with my daughter at the park. But there was also this strange association between thinness, bones, and death.

By the end of October I was there: 175, the lowest weight I reached. I was elated. But I was also becoming depressed. I had lost over 100 pounds and was "still fat." My body looked awful to me unless it was covered in clothing and I did not have a way to cope. I felt like a normal sized human stuck in a giant skin bag that I could never take off. I began stress eating, checking out, and craving my old comfort foods. I was truly struggling while everyone around me was applauding and saying how great I looked.

You see what happened after. I regained all but 20 of those 103 pounds.

Why did I write all of this out? Because I am working very hard not to make the same mistakes again. I weigh 195 pounds today, and I see that the last time I was at this weight, I had the same feelings I have today. But I did not honor those feelings. I forced myself to keep losing weight at a pace that was outrunning my mental and emotional ability to keep up. My body even tried a couple of times to "tell me" by rapid regains that I was *NOT ready*... but I did not listen. This time, I am listening. This time, I am taking time to maintain, and then when I do lose it will be slowly. Very slowly, so that my mind and emotions have time to deal with what I already know is coming: the same melting body, the same droopy skin and thigh spread, the same thoughts of bones = death and not wanting too much attention on my shape. The good thing is that I have learned from the past and will honor my feelings this time. I did see 194 on the scale on Friday and Saturday, but I made sure I was eating enough nutritious food to maintain and *not* keep losing; thus the 195 today. It's not a race to the finish (whatever the finish is). It's life, and hopefully this time a permanent change for better health.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

What exactly is your goal weight after all is said and done?

Anonymous said...

It's sad that you're so averse to exercise. It won't cure the saggy skin, but replacing some of the lost fat with some toned muscle would be a definite help.

Lyn said...

Anon1~

I don't know "exactly" what the end weight will be, but my doctor said even 185 would be great as I would no longer be in the obese category. I think my doctor and I will figure it out along the way, depending on my health and how I feel.

Anon2~

Not averse to exercise at all! I'm sure it will help some. I think the skin is going to continue to be an issue, though. We'll see.

Anonymous said...

lol seriously? I'm 126 and not even sure I can feel my internal organs. Is that really a thing??

Cris said...

I don’t think any amount of exercise Is going to solve your skin issues. I think you’re approaching it exactly the right way. Coming to terms with it... not exactly as a punishment, but as a consequence to having been too overweight for your frame.

Two years ago I got Bell’s palsy. I healed but not 100%. So there are visible things that I have to accept that are not going away. I can get Botox and it would help- but the side effect is permanent. So it’s an action of acceptance and learning to live with it.

I see your loose skin just like that. And it’s healthier for you to be thinner than you were with the loose skin than heavier without it. You will be ok and I think the work you’re doing now- the emotional work- is going to get you through this.

Keep at it Lyn. This is your time.

Anonymous said...

I'm an avid reader of your blog, especially recently since you've made so much progress amidst all the angst. I hope you find peace and routing for you

Leslie said...

I can totally relate to the "arms" issue. I'm 64, so in addition to weight loss changes, my arm skin is generally thinner and not so pretty. I know I won't ever go sleeveless, but I am striving to just accept what is, and change what I can. I can tone up a bit, but some of the arm skin is just a fact now. I'm not going to have surgery to remove it, so either I accept it or I stay miserable. I don't have to like it, but I have to accept it if I want any peace, and if I don't want to hate myself every time I look in the mirror. Truth is that if I gained back lost weight to have fewer wrinkles and less loose skin, I'd still have icky arms! I do notice others' arms and plenty of women are in the same boat. I don't judge them or reject them - rather I feel a kinship with them and silently support them the way I want to be supported and accepted. Upper arms say nothing about who we are or the character we possess.

It's great to see you striving for self acceptance and inner peace about the past and the present. You're doing amazingly well. I also suggest that you not forget who you are in relation to food. As soon as I think I'm over the struggle with certain foods and try for "moderation", I enter back into delusional thinking and inevitable weight gain. Again, I don't have to like the truth to accept it. But I have to accept it or am doomed to repeat the past.

So glad you're having this experience now, rather than lamenting having to lose the weight again!

Anonymous said...

I think your arms look like arms! I bet if you had a friend with arms or legs or a belly that wasn't perfect you wouldn't even notice or think about it because you would just notice a beautiful person-your friend! Extend yourself the same grace. You are beautiful!

FrenchyMcFrenchcake said...

Good post! I am wondering if you did your arm exercises with weights this time and if there is a noticeable difference?

FrenchyMcFrenchcake said...

Curious because I have never had loose skin so wondering if it’s genetic or if there is a weight threshold where this occurs or if it’s muscle tone related? I’m similar age and and lost/ gained / lost 50 pounds but no loose skin ...

Lyn said...

126 Anon~

Apparently it is! Have you ever had a doctor palpate your stomach area while you lie on your back? They can feel if things are normal and my gyn has checked my uterus size this way to monitor fibroids. To be fair, I can't feel (or don't know I am feeling) all my organs. I checked into it last time and not to be gross but what I was feeling was my large intestines full of bowel. After I used the bathroom it went away. My doctor confirmed this.

Cris~

Thank you for that insight. I agree, accepting it truly... rather than shoving it to the back of my mind and ignoring it... will lesson the emotions around it and over time, it will just be part of me that is, rather than something to notice and stress about.

avid Anon~

Thank you! I have found so much peace in my eating and food, and I think it'll just take tame to have the same peace with my body too.

Lyn said...

Leslie and arm Anon~

Isn't it funny how we would *never* judge or think bad things about someone's else's arm issue, but when it is right there on OUR bodies it just feels so different? We do need to be kind to ourselves for sure. And the food stuff is always there lurking, could come back, I know. I think staying off sugar is helping tremendously. Thanks for the kind words and support!

Frenchy~

I do the arm weights, but about the same as last time, not consistently enough. I think if I up it to 3x/week I will see results faster, but I don't think it will shrink the skin. Just maybe get rid of part of that bulge that is bothering me. As for why, I know that when I was younger and lost about 40 pounds I had no loose skin at all. And even in my 40's (both times losing larger amounts) I only saw loose skin after I dropped 80+ pounds. So I do think it's possible that 50 pounds didn't stretch your skin beyond repair, but 100+ would. Think of your highest weight; that is how expanded your skin had to become. For me, that was 283 pounds and that's a whole lot of expanding. Also I think it has to do with fat distribution. I've always had a sort of hourglass shape with a more narrow waist. My waist has no loose skin at all! My fat was concentrated on my upper arms and thighs and lower belly, and that's where I see so much skin damage. So that could be it.



wahoostampingirl said...

I've been reading your blog for years and I love that you are able to go "back in time" and see you were feeling exactly this way before, but now you have a different mindset for dealing with it. I'm on the way back down after regaining about 40 lbs of the 117 that I originally lost. Right now, I'm feeling like I look very blobby, so this post really resonated with me. I think you are on the right track to take things very slowly.

Xani said...

Hi Lyn,

Thanks for posting about the ups and downs of going up and down the scale!

I wonder if you are actively considering skin removal surgery? It has been my experience that certain negative feelings about our bodies, esp the parts that are NOT going to change on their own, no matter how much weight we lose or muscle we build (like saggy arm/belly skin), can be SO pervasive and unshakeable. My stomach was always my problem area, since childhood. Even at my smallest/lowest weight, it bulged and sagged. Every daily choice, food, exercise, clothing, etc led me back to thinking about my big belly, which led to constant anxiety.

I had a tummy tuck in October 2017. I have so much more peace now in my body. I am still "overweight" and wear practically the same clothing size as I did pre-surgery, but I am SO much happier and have so much less anxiety about my body. I just wanted to share that.

I wish you happiness and peace, however you find it!

Lyn said...

wahoostampingirl~

Yes! It is helping me tremendously to go back and see what I was feeling the first time around. I remembered I was upset about my arms, but did not remember it was at this excat weight! Since so much of this time has been the same, emotionally, I can look ahead and see what is coming up next if I keep going down the same path. I think this change is essential to losing and not regaining again. Blobby is a good word for it. Thanks :)

Xani~

All this time I've said there is no way I'd have skin removal surgery, but now I am putting it on the table as an option. I do have a fear of the surgery (and no money for it yet) but if it comes down to a choice of being super self conscious forever and/or regaining again, I think surgery would be the wiser choice. I am definitely considering it. Thank you for the kind words and I wish the same for you!

Amy said...

Lyn, have you looked into Cool Sculpting? It is a way to help those areas without surgery. I have no experience or feedback about it but have been hearing ads for it from aesthetic clinics. It may be a less expensive and definitely less invasive option.
By the way, you are a warrior and that skin is just your battle scar to show you what you went through and what you are made of! You are doing awesome!

Lyn said...

Amy~

No, I hadn't heard of that. Thanks for the tip; I will definitely see if that's an option before resorting to surgery! And thanks for the kind words too :)

Unknown said...

Thank you for being so honest. I feel the same way. You keep fighting the fight. I wish the very best for you. You can do this!!!

Anonymous said...

If you make an egg white/aloe vera gel paste, spread it on the lose skin and let it dry it will tighten up the skin really well.

I know what you mean about getting thinner being anxiety provoking. I was 225 pounds for most of the time I was bearing children (not pregnancy weight) and after my last was born I wanted to get back down. I did weight watchers and once I got to 160 I felt too thin for comfort. I purposefully gained back to 175-180 pounds and this is where I feel best. You do you Lyn and it will work out in the end.

Lyn said...

Unknown~

Thank you! :)

last Anon~

I think we all have our own comfort level and have to aim for that, plus better health, rather than just some arbitrary number that other people set for us as a goal. Feeling your best is priceless! And the nice thing is, 6 months or a year or five years from now, if you want to change your weight in either direction, you can! That's what I plan to do. Always pay attention and adjust my goals as needed to stay happy and healthy. Thanks for the skin tip as well!

Anonymous said...

this is the cron anon. First of all wow you're brave putting those pictures up. I think even thin people get some hanging skin when they age, but surgery might not be a bad idea. Heck my mom has had cosmetic surgery and I totally supported her. Vanity is too much maligned--SOME is healthy. Looking good is good, if it isn't an obsession.

I also relate to not wanting to feel too skinny. You wouldn't think this of me because I've been anorexic in the past, but NOW at a healthy weight I actually get very freaked out if I undereat for a few days, because it reminds me of feeling so sick and weak all the time from starvation. It can also make it jarring for me to do even short "cuts" to get leaner. That's healthy and good for sports performance but feeling the hunger of a short diet reminds me of past trauma. I wouldn't be surprised if you have some sort of trauma from Medifast, which quite honestly had similar calories to when I was anorexic. That's what always puzzles me about the obesity crisis talk, because I remember doctors yelling at me that no human being should live on 800 calories a day, but then they'd turn around and say the opposite to someone who was heavy.

P.S. I still think no human being should live on 800 calories a day but that's another story.

Lyn said...

cron anon~

I so enjoy your comments, really interesting. Here is something about the getting freaked out if you feel hungry: I get a little freaked out and upset if I feel overly full. It reminds me of the binge eating days and I hate that feeling (I used to LOVE the feeling of being so stuffed. It was comforting to me back then). Now I always try to eat just enough that I am satisfied. Sometimes I over estimate and put too much on my plate, and usually I toss the extra... but once in a while it tastes so good I finish it and then feel that "stuffed" feeling and I HATE it. I am pretty motivated to never feel really full. Fascinating how your uncomfortable feeling is hunger!

I have mixed feelings about the whole Medifast thing. I am glad I did it, because it showed me what is possible for me (how much better my life could be at a more normal weight), but I agree that it was too long term for me. I think if I had lost, say 40 pounds (from 234 to 194) and then gradually added back real food, calories, but NOT carbs, I would have been fine with the low calories for a few months. But it took me much longer to get to 175 and I think those last few months were the most damaging to my metabolism and body, and probably emotions.

Anonymous said...

cron anon again thank you for replying to my comments <3 you are so thoughtful. I guess that's why you eat small portions then? Not to trigger the feeling-like-you've-binged? That's a very, very interesting thing that you might want to explore or discuss more because it explains a lot of why and maybe how you've been eating such small amounts (as I see on your IG). Anyway I'll leave you alone just thought I'd mention that insight is worth exploring re: ED recovery and triggers.

Lyn said...

cron anon~

The phentermine made it so that I was almost never hungry for a few months last summer and fall, so I think that made my stomach shrink a bit as I got used to small portions again. But now I rarely take phentermine; I take a half dose some days around 11 or 12. I think you're right that I eat small portions now because I hate that sensation of being full. I like "satisfied" but not full. I will definitely talk to my counselor about this stuff! Thanks :)

PamL said...

Before you resort to surgery, please take time and learn more. There is a process the body actually performs that helps heal loose skin in people who have lost lots of weight. I first read about it a few weeks ago in a book called The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung. Here are a few other links talking about this. Maybe you just need more time, even though it's frustrating, I know! Apparently, autophagy (the process by which the body actually repairs/removes loose skin and other cells) is activated through fasting--which I think you said you do to some extent.

Dr. Jason Fung's blog. You can search autophagy, although I haven't found it easy to navigate his blog and find what I am looking for:
https://idmprogram.com/blog/

Here is a great article explaining the process the body goes through to get rid of excess skin that has a great picture of the process:
https://430tofit.com/if-you-lose-a-lot-of-weight-what-about-loose-skin/

Here is another one comparing surgery and fasting to get rid of loose skin:
http://biohackingresearch.com/index.php/2017/06/12/the-loose-skin-question-surgery-vs-fasting/

Good luck on your journey, Lyn, and keep up the good work!

Lyn said...

Pam~

Thank you for the links! I am creating a file for these and will do some research on it. I probably wouldn't have surgery until I have stabilized my weight for about 2 years and given my body a chance to settle. I am very interested in this alternative you've shared. I appreciate it!

Anonymous said...

This has opened my eyes. Back in 2008 I reached my goal of 150 and now looking back I freaked out. I was afraid I would just keep losing and losing. I had no idea how to maintain. Needless to say 210 on the scale again. Sigh.
Julie

fitteratfortyish said...

Hi Lyn - this is all fantastic. You are doing really well. I've been following for about 4-5 years, and it's exciting to see your progress, not just with weight, but with the head space and emotional space around weight.
You're so right about fat distribution. I am nearly identical height and weight to you, but my arms don't look like that. My WAIST, however, has a similar look. Even at my thinnest (low 170's) I still had belly overhang. I may look into Cool Sculpting if I ever get that low again, but my initial look at it was something like $2700 and you had to follow their diet plan, which I'm not sure I'm into, as a fairly committed low-carber.
One thing about fasting for loose skin - Fung is well known for making those claims but he's never documented them. In the low-carb circles I run in online, he is widely criticized for NEVER PROVING these claims. In fact, his language is kind of evasive, something like he's never REFERRED any of his patients for skin removal. Well, he is a kidney disease specialist, his patients are very ill, so I am betting that loose skin is the least of their concerns - especially if they are all older (like, retirement age and up), which IIRC, they are. I treat these claims with caution and skepticism. I love to follow researchers and scientists, and they have written repeatedly against this claim. One example is here (I'm having to deconstruct an "embed" link and not sure it'll work, but here goes):
https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Faleaf45%2Fposts%2F1332240346875485

Wishing you continued success.
Wendy

fitteratfortyish said...

OK, this is better - here is the URL of the post:
https://www.facebook.com/aleaf45/posts/1332240346875485

~ Wendy

Anonymous said...

Keep this going please, great job!

Alison said...

I think you are doing things very smart this time. If you had slowed down and maintained for a few months (or even a few years) in 2010, to get mentally used to the changes, maybe you'd be smaller today. maybe not, but maybe. it's such a hard, never-ending battle to deal with the mental stuff and the physical. but it's not like we can quit... there's no where to go except the present and forward.

Anonymous said...

Hey Lyn, I've been reading your blog forever--maybe a decade? Anyway, happy that you are in a good place. I want to bring up something (since we are the same age) that might be worth discussing with your doctor ahead of time. I went through menopause at 45, the average age is 51. And the average weight gain is 40 pounds. This doesn't happen overnight. It's three pounds here, five the next year, etc. The weight "creeps" on as estrogen levels fall. To navigate menopause successfully, the goal is to stay where you are which I think is the tools you are learning right now. Every single thing that you can learn to use as a coping technique that is not food-related will be very valuable whenever you reach the next hormonal change.

Lyn said...

Anon/Julie~

It took me a long time to figure out why I regained. I was focused on the eating, the food, the emotions that I felt while eating. I thought the "right" thing to do was be strong, power through, get the weight off. I guess my goal is different this time. It's not to reach a certain weight. It's to not regain. To make this permanent. I know if I stayed 195 for the rest of my life I would be far better off than if I got to 150, then back to 220, then 180, then 250... I hope you find your way with the re-losing. It's hard!

Wendy~

That is really interesting information. I've been looking into it and have the Obesity Code book on hold at the library to read, but from what I have seen online, even if Fung was correct you have to go 3 DAYS on just a water fast before autophagy begins. I know going even one day with no food would make me feel ill and would probably be emotionally triggering to me. I'm still going to read the book but I don't think this is the answer to my loose skin issue. Thank you for the link!

Alison~

Thank you. I wonder too if I would have kept the weight off then, but I know that if I do it this way, this time, I will certainly be finding out if it makes the difference in keeping it off! I figure I won't really know for a year or two at least.

last Anon~

Thank you. Menopause kind of scares me!! I wonder how it will affect my weight and my emotions. I am 48 years old but still have very regular cycles so I am hoping to get this weight thing under fairly good control before menopause begins. Then it will be a whole new chapter, right??