My mother often tells me that I was difficult to raise because I was so opinionated and stubborn and she's (now) grateful for it. Guess she wasn't the only one who had that experience with me... her sister sent me this cartoon last week.
Takes one to know one, ladies. Takes one to know one... ;)
I am a clothes hound. Prior to weight loss surgery my "closet" was one quarter of the basement and consisted of four six-foot long clothing racks, two dressers, a tall, thin, eight shelf bookcase for sweaters, two four-drawer IKEA storage bins for the unmentionables, two 30-pair shoe racks and one 10-pair shoe rack (my boots line the bottom of the clothing racks) and a five foot tall mirror that doubles as jewelry storage. Oh, and a closet full of coats upstairs. And all of it was packed to the hilt. TO THE HILT!
It was downright gluttonous. And glorious. Oh, so glorious.
I keep swearing to myself that I am going to go through it all one day and get rid of what no longer fits. Problem is, most of it - about 80% of it - no longer fits and getting rid of it just sucks. It sucks emotionally and it sucks physically. What the hell do you do with all of it?
I took the first round - about 20 full-size shopping bags - to a girlfriend's house and told her to keep whatever she wanted. She donated the rest to a local women's shelter. The second round sat in a bag in the front room for close to three months. Two weeks ago I bit the bullet and decided to do something about. I packed up 25 of the better Fall pieces and headed to Hips in Roseville. The rest, about 15 pieces, was sent to ThredUp via one of their free Clean Out bags.
Lugging 25 pieces of clothing to Hips sucked. It was heavy and awkward and you haul it all in not knowing exactly what it is that they are going to actually keep. In fact, there are about five pieces still in my trunk that they rejected as I write this. ThredUp on the other hand will donate whatever they decide not to sell (or send it back to you for the cost of shipping).
I arrived at Hips at about 11:20 a.m. (they open at 11:00 a.m.) and was informed that I would be the last seller for the day. They have a daily buying quota (two of the locations buy twice a week - the Detroit location on Friday by appointment only) and it, apparently, goes quick. I imagine there was probably a line at the door when they opened at 11 a.m. and, I think, next time I'll try a Thursday.
As the last seller for the day, I had to wait quite a while - at least an hour - until they got to my stuff. Like I said, they took just about everything and they are incredibly liberal with their payouts. You get 45% of the selling price - up front - if you take a store credit (good for one year) or 30% if you take the cash. I took the store credit and ended up with $130 to spend over the course of the next year. Or, more realistically, the next month. I've already burned through half of it as I write this.
After leaving Hips I headed to a FedEx store to hand off my ThredUp clean-out bag. Shipping is free. A week and a half later, on October 5th, I received notification that they had received my bag and that I could expect it to be processed by, get this - October 30th. I decided then and there to stop bitching about the hour wait at Hips.
The very next day, however, I received notification that they had processed my bag and was invited to click on a link to discover how much I had earned. I knew it wasn't going to be near as much as Hips because I had taken my better designer pieces to Hips and had only sent ThredUp about half as much as I took to Hips. Still, I was more than disappointed to discover that three sweaters (Chaps & Lane Bryant), six Land's End dress shirts, a denim jacket from Lane Bryant and one pair of Linen pants from Lord & Taylor had earned me a whopping $18.
Maybe I should have included a note that I only wore the linen pants once... to meet Joe Biden. Everyone's favorite sometimes-inappropriate uncle hugged me as I wore those pants. That, alone, is worth at least $20, right?
I ran the numbers and had my ThredUp pieces sold at Hips for the price ThredUp was charging, I would have received at least $70 in store credit.
Now, the upside of ThredUp is that they take clothes out-of-season and Hips does not. So, more than likely, I'll be sending them another Clean Out bag sometime in the near future. And, quite frankly, they win in pretty much all convenience factors. Hips will only take 25 in-season items at a time, on very specified days, if you are lucky and get there before the buying quota is used up for the day. ThredUp will take whatever the hell you can fit in their huge Clean Out bags. You just have to remember what you send them because, far as I can tell, they don't tell you what they end up donating on your behalf.
Still, convenience factors aside, Hips wins at this game. They pay more - a lot more - and they are a local business. Oh, and they only carry plus sizes. I love a store that caters to larger women only. Doing business with them not only benefits your pocket book, it benefits the local economy and it promotes body positivism. Win-win-win.
I came home from work on Monday night with a fever, stuffy head and thigh muscles that felt like they were in a vice grip. Taking care of the pain is tricky and, honestly, scary. Because I don’t have much of a stomach left, I have to protect the lining which means that the list of medications I am no longer allowed to take is about a mile long.
In short, I can take Tylenol. Period. And guess what we had none of? Tylenol. Period. And guess who hauled their sick ass to the drug store because they wouldn’t ask their husband to do so? Me. Period. And guess who has been pissed as hell for the past 24 hours at her husband for not knowing I needed his help?
Well, I’m probably not the only wife that lay claim to that.
To be fair, until this year, I have never really asked Mr. Adams to take care of me in our fifteen year relationship. There’s never really been a need. More than that, it has rarely been a requirement of mine that the people with whom I have relationships actually nurture them - including my husband. Including myself.
Surgery - and everything that has followed it - was a promise to myself that I would take care of me. I get it. The rest of the world, however, has yet to understand that I expect them to take care of me too.
Sometimes - say, when I have a stuffy head, fever and sore muscles - it is easy to forget that the rest of the world hasn’t been on this multi-year journey with me. They don’t know that I have different expectations now. So, yesterday I had to actually had to say to my husband, “I expect you to take care of me when I am sick. You are it for me - my person. When I need help, I expect to be able to lean on you for help and get it.”
Amazing that we are about to celebrate our thirteenth wedding anniversary in less than a month and I have never before laid out that expectation. And, to be clear, the declaration was as much for me as it was for him. I have never allowed myself to really lean on him - or anyone, really, save a few members of my family.
I have, for all intents and purposes, trained my husband to expect that I am 100% self-sufficient. Turns out I’m not - or at least I choose not to be - and I had to bring him up to speed on that memo.
I am a member of a few different Facebook groups for women who have had bariatric surgery. At least once a week someone posts a question about whether anyone else has experienced “losing friends” (or spouses) as a side effect of surgery. Some attribute it to “jealousy” or friends not being able to “handle” our new-found confidence. And, I’m sure, there are instances where that may be true.
However, I believe the real issue is that you don’t get to the point of weight loss surgery without having different expectations - of yourself and of the world surrounding you. At least not successful weight loss surgery, anyway. You’ve changed the rules of the game and people around you are simply confused - and why shouldn’t they be? Nothing has changed for them. You have to clue them in on the new rules…
I value me. I value my health. I value my life. And I expect you to as well. This means… fill in the blank. Fill in the blank will be constantly evolving as I evolve, but I commit to sharing with those that matter what it means today.
I am adamant that none of us got to "fat" on our own. Either someone taught us the habits that got us there or we developed the habits that got us there as defense mechanisms. Either way, getting fat wasn't much of a choice. Staying fat isn't much of a choice either if you don't ever have the opportunity to learn differently.
Somewhere around five years ago, without even knowing it, I started to the journey to learn how not to be fat anymore. I spent hours on a couch across the room from Jillian, therapist to the stars, learning about the circumstances that got me to "fat" and reversing the wiring in my brain that told me I had to stay there. I spent ten times as much time, alone, processing what I learned.
Surgery was a fucking HUGE declaration that I had finally learned enough and I was ready to not be fat anymore. So ready, in fact, that I was going to let a sometimes-curmudgeon surgeon slice open my abdomen and lop off the majority of my stomach to speed up the process.
Looking back now I think I might have also considered surgery the end of the learning. Like I would wake up on March 18th with a tiny tummy and would magically, henceforth, always do the right thing. Always.
As you can probably guess, the Tiny Tummy is not exactly the perfectionist I had assumed it would be. Dammit.
Last month I didn't do my monthly inch tracker or take pictures to track my weight loss. I suspected that the lack of accountability wasn't serving me well so I bit the bullet and pulled out the measuring tape this morning. The good news is that I'm down - particularly in the bust and rib area - and in pounds. In fact, in total, I take up almost 5 feet less of space on this planet than I did just six months ago and I'm closing in on 80 pounds lost.
However, I've added a little (albeit very little) inch-age back to my hips and thighs - which seems strange because I'm down two pant sizes. I think I can account for some of the change with a lack of consistency of how I measure myself, but the truth is that I haven't been practicing good habits, consistently, for the past three months.
I have come to accept that there will be months where I plateau and months were I'm slow to lose inches or pounds. Gaining weight or inches, however, is no longer an option. I have invested far too much of my time, my resources and my soul into this journey to fail. I started to berate myself for going in the wrong direction.
Then I remembered that this is how change happens.
It is a fallacy, a deeply-held falsehood, that faltering is failure. The truth is, change is not a linear process. It is two steps forward, one step back (and sometimes to the left or right). Success is recognizing it and choosing to move forward again.
When everything that is familiar to you is in flux - your sense of self, your habits, your world, your comforts - the psyche can only forge forward on pure adrenaline for so long. Eventually everyone needs a bit of respite, of comfort, lest you completely burn out. Old habits - the familiar - that's comfort, regardless of whether or not they are habits that serve the reality you are trying to create.
Until new habits habits become the "old habits," it is so perfectly normal to return to practices that don't serve you well. How long you dwell there and how long the old, unhealthy habits hang around - that's the choice to be made now. That's the change.
So, today I call bullshit on "full speed ahead at all times." I choose, instead, to honor how far I've come and how many new habits are now old habits - and how many new habits will soon be a norm. Today I give myself grace to take a step back, reasses, and forge ahed. Today I choose to feel better about all of this messy, long journey and I choose to be excited that I have learned enough to still be headed in the right direction.
Most of all, today I forgive my non-perfectionist Tiny Tummy and honor the realization that surgery didn't create a robot - it created a small, brainless, tool in my gut. All the hard work still happens elsewhere.