Boxes

This post sort of exploded out of my brain this week.  It started as a little whisper in the back of my brain, and then it took root and sort of burst forth and took on a life of it’s own.  I’m really glad it did.  It came to a point that I had to stop what I was doing and start writing because I just needed to get the words out of my brain before they became jumbled and I lost them all.

My thoughts are interesting. They sort of plume up like smoke, then twist and turn and dance as they become solid.  As I’ve been thinking about the content of this post I kept coming back to labels and boxes and that led me to something from 13 years ago.

In another life I was an 8th grade English teacher in a brick and mortar school.  I used the book Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes that year; if you’ve never read it, do.  It’s incredible.

Anyway, a poem from the novel has been dancing in my thought plumes all day.

Take a read here.  It puts the rest of the post in context.

Don’t you dare scroll past.  Read the gosh darn poem.  It’s good.  Promise.

My favorite lines from the poem are “I’m made of skeleton, / Muscle and skin. / My body is the only box / I belong in.”

You see, for my entire life, I have searched for those boxes.  The boxes are safety.  I am a girl.  I am a scholar.  I am a swimmer.  I am a teacher.  I am a mother.  Boxes give me rules to live by.  Expectations.  Norms.  I encountered the dieting world the same way.  Atkins, Keto, Slim-fast, low-fat, low-carb, vegetarian, vegan… I searched for rules.

Being a post-op was no different.  Once I was able to eat food I searched for the box that would give me the rules I needed to live by.  I like rules.  I thrive on rules.  I thought I needed rules.

Well honeys, let me tell you… “I’m made of skeleton, muscle and skin.  My body is the only box I belong in.” I very quickly found that none of those boxes are right for me.  There is in fact, no set of rules that works for my body.  Meat-heavy made me feel icky and sticky in my guts.  Chicken makes me sick.  Typical vegetarian has way too many carbs.  I thought I might like the Mediterranean Diet, but it’s often higher in fat than I’m able to eat.

I’ve learned that I can’t look for the boxes anymore.  I have to look to myself.  Figure out what works for me.  This is where having post-operative support is important.  Don’t forget to meet with your nutritionist.  Even if it’s just a quick check-in to make sure you’re on target. We’re still learning and that support is necessary.

When I first started eating, I was shooting for 80-100g of protein, 50g or fewer carbs, and I never paid attention to fat.  I just stayed away from things that were overly fatty.  Like, don’t go stand in the fridge gnawing on sticks of butter.  Basically I was keto with a twist.

Now I’ve become more plant-based, but not really a vegetarian.  I do still eat some meats, but I get a lot of my protein from legumes.  I track my foods pretty meticulously.  I get at least 68g of protein, 90g or less of carbs, and 30g or less of fat.  Lord help me, the fat gives me a fit every single day.  Today I’m doing really well.  Yesterday I indulged in peanut butter (just 2 tbsp) and was over my fat for the day by noon.  Thirty grams is tough, folks.  But I’m figuring it out.

This is why I spend so much time researching foods and meal planning and recipe searching and tweaking.  Because I’m my own box.  I have my own needs and I can’t always just google some pre-boxed recipe and have something work for me.  Now food takes a lot of thought and preparation, but I’m okay with that.  I actually enjoy it… building my own box.

My goal for this blog was to give me an outlet.  A place to work through what I experience.  A place to laugh, cry, rage, share how I’m losing it.  A part of all that is tied to food.  I’d like to share that with you guys, too.  I’d like you to see that part of my life, too.  I’d like to share my recipes and rewrites.

I’m incredibly nervous to do that.  I feel so vulnerable sharing my food with you.  But it’s important to me.

So guess what?  It’s happening.

Be well, friends!

Keyboard Warrior

There’s a meme my husband references when I’m doing this “Leigha” thing that I sometimes occasionally often do.  You’ve probably seen it.  But basically there’s a person furiously typing at the computer and it says something like “In a minute dear, there’s someone wrong on the internet…”  He brings out the meme more than I care to admit.

I cannot. stand. it. when people are wrong on the internet.  And I don’t mean like difference of opinion wrong, I mean like WRONG wrong.  If you tell me climate change is a hoax, or that vaccines are optional, or that it’s sooooo cheap and easy to eat healthy, I will fight you on the internet.

And so it happened the other night that someone, ironically a post-op, said that it’s so super cheap and easy to eat lean meats and healthy vegetables.  Having had the red flag waved furiously in my face, I just couldn’t leave it be.  Because y’all.  This is a LIE.  It is not easy to be healthy.  It is not overly cheap to eat healthy.  It is time consuming to cook meals from scratch.  Adding being a post-op patient to that and considering everything that we have to account for–I cannot even tell you the number of hours I spend weekly researching and meal planning.  At least 10+ hours planning meals, researching ingredients, calculating macros of the food.  It’s basically a job that I don’t get paid for.  If it were easy we wouldn’t have a SIXTY BILLION DOLLAR diet industry.

Guys, it’s no coincidence that there is a large number of obese poor people.  Walk through your grocery store and see which items are cheapest.  Carbs. Packaged. Processed.  I took the littlest one to the grocery store today and bought some fresh strawberries.  These strawberries would be one accompaniment to a meal for my family.  Like not even the main  dish, but like three or four strawberries per person.  I spent $3.99 before tax.  FOUR DOLLARS for some strawberries.  Do you know how many packs of mac n cheese that can buy?  Ramen noodles?  Hamburger helper? Some people can feed their entire family of five for that $3.99 and who the heck am I to judge them if it might not be the healthiest thing in the world.  Kids need to eat.

But it’s more than that.  It’s not just the cost of food.  It’s access to food.  Food deserts are real.  If you’ve never heard of food deserts, indulge me.

Too many people cannot afford healthy food, do not have access to healthy food, do not have the time to prepare healthy foods, do not have the education to make healthy food choices (or the means to get educated).

Anyway, my keyboard battlefield was expanded even more when aforementioned post-op-wrong-person said “well maybe they just need to consider those things before they have surgery.” So first of all, those things affect people all the time whether they’re post-ops or not.  Second of all, all people deserve to be healthy.  Regardless of where they live, their income, their access to food.  Stop blaming the poor, fat people for faults of our country.

I had really great insurance when I had surgery.  I only had to meet my $1500 deductible and then insurance took over.  But every single month I’m buying vitamins to the tune of $50-80, depending on which ones I buy.  I can’t just take off the shelf vitamins.  I have protein powders on hand and protein shakes and lean proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables.  I have an obscene grocery budget and a lot of times I go over it.  That’s not meant to be some sort of covert brag, it’s just a statement. My diet, my suppleme nts, my dietary needs.  It adds up every month.  I’m incredibly privileged to have been able to have the surgery, but also have the resources to make this surgery work for me.  Not everyone is granted surgery.  Not everyone can afford the financial implications of surgery.  Not everyone can afford the post-op diet and diet changes that have to happen.

I’m so mad at our country for creating an obesity epidemic, and then keeping people from the things they need to be healthy.  Creating pay gaps, and then horking at the poor, fat people who can feed their families cheaper from the dollar menu than the grocery store.  For doubting people who get surgery, then denying follow up resources and using their regain as “proof” that they must not have wanted it that bad.

So to the post-op-wrong-person from the other night… you are wrong.  You are wrong, and I will pick up my keyboard battle axe every single time I encounter that kind of attitude.

NSVs

Oh. My. Word.  You guys, I’m like the worst blogger ever.  Since my intro post was using the whole blind date thing, let’s continue that analogy.  I’m the girl that calls you once every seven months when I see your number in my phone book.

I swear I don’t try to forget you guys.  I’m just busy.  Life is busy.  Three kids, work, all that.  And yes, I know that there are so many accomplished bloggers who can handle it all and do it all.  Clearly I am not one of those people.

So quick recap for the last seven months (I counted, it’s been seven. -ish.):  When we last met I was super grumpy girl who hated all the things and was freezing all the time and life was pretty bleak.  I’m still somewhat grumpy, but the grump is focused on life in general and not because of surgery related stuff.  I’m still freezing.  All. The. Time.  Y’all, it snowed twice in the last month.  I’m no longer built for snow.  I opened the electric bill yesterday and almost fell out of my car.  $500.  I’m not sure it’s ever been that high.  So yeah, clearly I need to practice layering and using blankets rather than cranking the heat up whenever I’m feeling a little chill.  Overall though, life isn’t bleak.  Food and I have a better understanding.  I’m able to eat a really diverse diet, and I rarely get sick anymore–hallelujah!

If you’re not hip to the weightloss lingo, you might not know the acronym in tonight’s title.  NSV.  NSVs are non-scale victories.  When you’re on a weightloss journey it’s super easy to get stuck on the number on the scale.  It’s so easy to beat yourself up when you hit a wall and your weightloss stalls.  I’m just coming out of one of those funks.  In the month of January I lost a whopping 4 pounds.  Like, for the whole month.  It was stressful.  That’s where NSVs are helpful.  They help you reframe your journey and focus on things you can do now that you weren’t able to do before.

During the month of January, I was not feeling super victorious, but I had a lot of NSVs:

  • Wore my husband’s t-shirt to sleep in, and I didn’t look like a stuffed sausage.
  • Was able to do an entire shopping trip on the “normal” side of Target.  (Normal is in quotes because f*ck societal standards and what they proclaim to be normal.)
  • Went from a size 16 pants to a size 12.
  • Lost two whole shoe sizes.  I used to buy somewhere between 10-11.  Now it’s 8.5-9.  Cute shoes y’all.  All the cute shoes.
  • Mastered making perfect protein coffee.  This one is big.  Protein + caffeine makes me one happy momma, and my kiddos all the safer.
  • Was able to cross my legs easily both under and not under tables.  This one still tickles me.  I cross my legs all the time now just because I can gosh darnit.
  • I have noticed a slight thigh gap wayyyyyy up at the top of my thighs right above the saggy little skin squish.  It’s not big, but it’s there, a tiny little diamond of sunlight that peaks through my thighs.  I don’t analyze this or anything, promise.
  • I’ve had perfect blood work, and I’m feeling much more in charge of my diet and my health.
  • I’m slowly converting my family to be healthier.  J is eating more plant-based meals.  The kids are at least trying it before they make their PB&J sandwiches.  Okay, okay, sometimes they only look at it long enough to decide there’s no way in heck they’re going to eat it.  But baby steps, right?
  • Came across two people in the same store on the same day and they didn’t recognize me.  It cracks me up watching the recognition click in their brains.

All in all, I’m pretty happy with how life’s going now.  I weighed in this morning at 179.7.  Considering just shy of 8 months ago I was 302 pounds, and a year ago I was 320 pounds, I feel like I’m doing pretty amazing; even with the occasional stall.

I’ve been spending the last few weeks thinking about my health and my family’s health and what I want that to look like for us and I’m really excited about those prospects and things in the making.  More on that another time though.  I’m going to have to hop off here and go rescue J who is struggling with the two small ones and bed time and try to get the 6 year old to move himself from the kitchen table to the bed.

“Losing It” was a strategic name choice, you know.  I think I lose more sanity than I do weight some days.

Be well, friends!

Pssst…

Hey friends!  Did you think I’d forgotten about you?  I hadn’t, I promise.  I’ve been thinking about this post for the last couple of weeks, but I kept putting it off because, well, it’s kind of negative.

When you’re a fat person, you sort of get used to being as upbeat as possible.  Being happy and friendly is like an antidote to get people to overlook the fat.  So in an attempt to be approachable, we end up making ourselves into the happy fatty stereotype.

Well, friends.  Let me tell you, I am not happy.  In fact, I’m pretty miserable for a good portion of the day.  And I hate it.  I hate being miserable.  I hate not being a role model.  I hate not being a shining example of with-it-ness.  But I’m honestly just not right now.

I cry randomly at least once a day.  I don’t even know why, hormones maybe?  Giant effing life change?  Right now as I type this I feel my throat tightening and my eyes well up.  My poor husband, he’s been a trooper through this all.  He hugs me up and helps put me back together.

I vomit daily.  When you have surgery they tell you to go slow with food, eat slow, take small bites.  Listen to them.  If you eat too fast, it will revisit you.  If your bites are too big, it will revisit you.  If you eat too much, it will revisit you.  When they say eat small bites, think pea sized.  Like itty bitty.  And then chew the heck out of it.  Count to 30, swallow and wait.  I can tell as soon as I swallow whether or not I’ll be vomiting later.  I get a pain in my chest and that’s that.  I hate vomiting.  A lot.  Basically eating sucks and if I could just drink protein shakes forever I would.  It’s weird going from food addiction to food averse.  I used to love eating–textures and tastes were so wonderful.  Now I’m pretty loathe to eat.  I mean, I do it, but it annoys me.  I need to work to find a suitable medium though because neither end of the spectrum are healthy.

I’m freezing all the bloody time.  My house is set to the mid 70s and I want a snow suit and gloves.  The bedroom is at 77 and I need a sheet, quilt, and comforter.  My sweet recovery nurse, Gretchen, warned me about this.  I didn’t think it would happen like immediately.  But surprise!  I’m an icesicle.

I’m tired.  I’m better than I was, but I’m still tired.  I just want a nap.  All day.  Under my fifty-eleven blankets.  I’m supposed to start work tomorrow.  Hopefully I can stay awake.

So, see why I’ve been apprehensive?  I’m supposed to be Miss Sunshine Positivity, yay surgery, girl… But most days I’m like ugh this sucks.  I feel like a big fat hypocrite.  I’m grateful.  I know in my head and heart this was my best shot, but that doesn’t make me super happy about the process.

I was chatting with some work friends today and a super smart friend said she struggled after a surgery she had, and when she started feeling this way she’d think about a few things that would be better in a couple of weeks.  And after a couple of weeks she’d check back to see her progress.  What an amazing idea.  When I look at it that way, and break it down I really do see that things are trending positively: My pain is WAY down.  I’ve lost 30+ pounds in about 3-3.5 weeks.  My clothes are getting big.  I’m not stuck to only protein shakes (even though I do throw up daily).  I’m researching healthier recipes for my family.  My husband’s lost weight (you’re welcome, love).  See?  Lots of positives.

I guess the take away of this post for me, and anyone who happens to read this, is be kind to yourself.  This is a big f*cking surgery, y’all.  It changes you physically, but it also forces you to really confront your demons and it’s a really painful thing (my throat is tightening again, damnit).  You’re not a liar or a hypocrite if you struggle and admit your struggle.  You’re human.  You’re learning so much during this time–how to eat, what to eat, how much to eat, and who you are as a person without the toxic food relationship.

It’s okay to cry, hate the world, and wonder what the hell you’ve done to yourself.  Just remember to think of a few things that will be better in a couple of weeks.  Because stuff WILL get better.

(Thanks, Kim)

A Day in the Life

I’ve thought about writing this post every day since Saturday, but I just haven’t gotten around to it.  I’m tired.  Mentally drained, physically exhausted.  Sign me up for nap class, please.

I was feeling pretty good, but I don’t know what happened, now I’m just blah.  Maybe it’s the Red Queen’s visit that is making my gas tank suck on fumes.  Whatever is going on, I just need it to rectify itself sooner rather than later.  I ain’t got time fo’ this.

I’m still on leave from work while I figure out what my new normal is and navigate the post-op nutrition ocean.  It’s a good thing, because I feel like my day is pretty constantly taken over by what time I last had water or protein, has it been thirty minutes yet, have I got 60g in, what about 64oz?  Before today I hadn’t even tried to figure out my vitamins.  That’s a whole other road map to navigate. 

Post-op care and nutrition is pretty consuming.  There’s a lot to do and remember.  I thought maybe folks out there might like a little peek into what my days are like right now.

So first off, hydration is priority one.  Dehydration is really bad news for a weightloss surgery patient.  But unlike everyone out there with big tummies, my tummy has a capacity of somewhere between 1-2 ounces.  That’s basically the same size as a newborn.  If you can’t quite visualize it, think small plum.  To make sure I stay hydrated, I have to drink about 48-64oz of hydrating liquids a day–water, crystal light, sugar free Jello, low sodium broth per day.  But I can’t take big gulps and I can’t use a straw.  Sips.  Sips all day long. Sip sip sip sip sip.  Sip some more.

So priority two for me right now is protein.  I have to get between 60-80g of protein per day.  Protein is really important for body processes, healing, growth, not going bald.  I’m vain, and I like my hair so I make sure I get closer to 80g whenever possible.  I can’t eat food right now and won’t be able to for 3-4 more weeks, so right now protein comes in the form of protein shakes.  I take a 12 ounce protein shake, which depending on how I mix it or which brand and flavor is my 60-80g, and I portion it out into 2oz servings for each “meal.” My Em calls this my “drink food.”  

Nutritionally speaking, my intake per day is about 12oz of a protein shake and 68oz of water.  It works out to I think 380 calories.  Obviously this is only for the short term and only under doctor supervision and nobody should go off and try to live on 380 calories a day.

Now, what you see in the background of the photo are all of my vitamin and mineral supplements: multivitamins to take 2x a day, calcium citrate 3x a day–but away from iron, chewable iron, chewable B12, my prescription of Prilosec to keep from refluxing, and my twice daily lovenox injections.

Yep, after being poked in the hospital, I got to come home with two weeks of blood thinner shots to keep from getting blood clots.  This isn’t standard, but people with a BMI over 50 automatically get out on the blood thinners.  It’s annoying, but not terrible.  Just a few extra bruises to deal with.

I’m sort of figuring out a system.  I have to, or else I’d never remember to eat.  An interesting side effect of bypass surgery is I dont have hunger cues anymore, Thanks ghrelin! (That’s a whole other science-y post)

I get up with the kids and start them on breakfast while I drink some water and have an ounce of jello with the Prilosec powder, then I take a 30 minute break while I map out my day.  It’s a flexible schedule and it changes all the time depending on if I take a nap or forget something, but writing it out helps.

I’m almost always up until 11pm working to get the last of my protein in because I got off schedule.  But keeping it posted is more helpful than just winging it.

But this is my life for the next few days.  Next week when stage 2 starts there will be a new learning curve.  And then another one shortly after that with stage 3.

Riding out the Storm

I made it y’all.  Woke up after surgery and survived the most brutal 24 hours of my life.  I did it.

Yesterday was such a roller coaster day.  Nerves and worry when I dropped the kids off at school.  Giddy excite when I checked into the hospital.  Flat out stoned when they gave me the Versed.

Versed is an amazing thing.  My biggest concerns were “what if I poop on the table” and “what happens if I audibly fart while under anesthesia.”. That’s right… Poops and farts were all I could worry about while under the influence.  I was a pretty happy camper pre-op.


I try really hard to remain upbeat through stuff.  There’s no sense in being miserable.  Paradigm shift, you know?  But let me tell you, the 12 hours immediately following surgery were the most brutal hours of my life.  I’ve had pitocin inductions without an epidural.  I’ve had a baby’s head locked in my pelvis sideways without meds.  I’ve had my gallbladder removed.  This pain was honestly the worst pain I’ve ever encountered.  It’s so hard to remain upbeat when you hurt.  When you wonder seriously what in the heck have you done to yourself.  They want you to walk as soon as possible after surgery.  I made it 20 feet before I wanted to crumple.


Something happened about 3am though, maybe it was my sweet nurse Faith, but it was like turning a corner and everything has gotten better and better.  I survived.  I know I made the right choice.

I’m healing at a really good rate.  So much so the doctor joked about sending me home today (thanks but no thanks, doc).  My positivity is back.  My gratitude and enthusiasm are back.  I’m feeling more like me.

I was able to start my liquid diet this morning.  All of my meals come in 2oz shot glasses.  My new stomach pouch is only about an ounce in size.  So I sip sip sip.  My stomach is roughly the size of a newborn’s tummy.


I’m feeling so much more like myself again.  Clear headed, happy, determined.  My soul feels calm and settled.

It’s amazing how perspectives can change in just the matter of hours.  How you can go from the depths of pain and despair to calm confidence. 

 Sometimes you just have to ride out the storm.

A Tale of Two Feelings

Well, my friends, here we are.  Surgery day.  My stomach is churny.  Bubble guts is what one of my former students used to call it.  I have bubble guts.

The weather is mimicking my mood today.  It’s cold out, 56 with a high of 70s.  We’ve been in the 90s.  Gray rain is falling.  Not the big fat happy drops that I like.  These are the tiny pin prick stinging drops.  It feels like anxiety falling from the sky.  

I was trying to explain to J yesterday that I really am excited.  I’m so excited.  But it’s so hard with kids in the picture.  Seven years ago it would have been “WOOHOO LETS GO!”. Now it’s “please God let me wake up and see my babies again.”

I am excited.  And I’m hopeful.  But damn if I didn’t tear up when I hugged them all goodbye this morning.  I feel like the mom side of me is anxious and worried while the Leigha who is just Leigha is bursting at the seams ready to get a move on.

This has been a really hard week for my biggest.  He’s so worried something is going to happen to me and he randomly comes up to me crying telling me he doesn’t want me to leave him.  I’m doing this so I don’t leave him too soon, but he’s too young to understand.  My sweet tender boy.

I was going to post a super upbeat photo of me when I get to the hospital.  I might still.  But since this is my place to work it out, I thought it was important for me to honor these feelings of mine.  These mixed up, Topsy turvy feelings.

A little less than two hours until the start of my new life.  Until everything is different.

Short rows

I was an adult when I first heard the phrase “gettin’ down to the short rows” or “in the short rows.” It was my first year teaching and we were a few weeks out from summer break, and were certainly in the short rows.  For those of you, like me (if there are any of you), who are unfamiliar with the term, it just means getting close to the end.  My Google research those many years ago taught me that farm fields used to be planted on a diaganol, so shorter rows meant you were nearing the end.

I find myself in the short rows of this pre-op field.  Surgery is Thursday, a quick 5 sleeps away.  Wednesday I’ll find out when to be at the hospital.  My FMLA and disability are filed.  My house is being cleaned.  We’ve already picked up prescriptions and supplements for post-op care.

On the outside I’m good to go.  I’m nervous though.  I’ve been having a lot of trouble falling asleep at night.  I worry I’m making a mistake somehow.

This is going to change everything.  For better or worse I’m going to be different after this.  It’s a smidge stressful because, as those who know me can attest, I  hate change.  Not like don’t like, but like hate.  Change is so hard for me.  It’s uncomfortable and ugh.

Pffft.  I’ll get over it.  I’ll be ok.

So here we are, in the short rows of it all.

Deep breath in.  Hold it.  Deep breath out.

“Have you lost weight?”

When you’re fat, the words “have you lost weight?” are music to your ears.  As professional dieters, those four words are the culmination of our calorie counting, deprivation, meal planning.  Validation.

I heard those words today.

Someone we’ve known for years asked if I’d lost weight.  In fact, I have.  I’ve lost 32 pounds since January.  When she asked what I’ve been doing, I explained the whole low carb diet thing in preparation for gastric bypass.

“Well, if you’re having so much success, do you even need the surgery?” was the next question.  I have to admit, it’s one I’ve been asking myself this last week.  I think it’s because I’m nervous.  Surgery is in two weeks.  I know it’s going to be a massive undertaking.  It’s literally life altering.  I’m doing so well right now, I could just keep up with the low carb thing and still lose weight, right?

The answer is no.  I can’t.  The thing about obesity and its effect on the body is that it makes it all but impossible for a morbidly obese person to successfully lose weight and keep the weight off.  It doesn’t matter how much will power you have.  Your body gets to a certain BMI and is just like “hey, I’m pretty damn comfy here, let’s not change that.”

This article does a really good job of explaining it.  It also does a really good job of discussing the attitudes society has with regards to obesity and how obese people lose weight.  That’s a topic for a different show though.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep eating my protein and veggies and continue the internal dialogue I’m having daily trying to make myself feel not guilty about having surgery (thanks for that society!).

I have a disease.  I’m working on a treatment.  Surgery is one part of my treatment plan.

Thin Like Daddy

Last night, while walking around Target in an attempt to get my Fitbit to stop yelling at me to get those last 250 steps, V (my oldest kiddo) looked at me and said: “Mommy, have you ever been thin?”

“What do you mean bud?” I asked him back.

“You know, thin.  Like not like…” as he spreads his two hands out and uses them to cut a large oval in the air in front of my body. “Thin like daddy.  Have you ever been thin like daddy?”

“No bud, not ever.”

I know he didn’t mean his words to be hurtful, and he wasn’t being malicious at all.  But, words still hurt me sometimes.  I still think people are whispering about me when I see girls with their heads together at a store.  I imagine the thoughts people have when they see me wearing x, y, or z.

For the most part, I’m okay with my body.  I’ve gotten used to it.  The soft tummy rolls my babies lay their heads on.  The squishy arms that Em lays her head on; daddy’s arms won’t do.  Only mommy’s.  I’ve got a lot of miles on this baby.  We’ve got somewhat of an understanding going on.  I’ll try to love you, if you don’t let those fat cells kill me.

I’ve been a fat kid my whole life.  As a baby I was small, born at 6lbs 7oz, but my mom was a smoker and low birth weight is common among smokers.  (Before you throw shade at my mom, this was in the 80s and they didn’t really know better then, so kindly fold your judgey pants back up and put them back in your dresser.  She’s quit now and I’m really proud of her for that).  But sometime after that, I just became a squishy little girl.  It started off being only a few pounds, then more and then more still.

I remember being 10 and spending my summer with my Meemaw.  I got on her scale and it said 100.  The only reason I remember this is because I thought it was cool that I was 10 and my weight was a multiple of 10. (I’m a nerd, number patterns make me feel good).  Then I somehow realized that being 100 pounds at 10 was actually not a good thing.  I think that’s kind of when my awareness of my fat started.  That’s sorta when I realized that being a 10PP (Pretty Plus, if you didn’t know) wasn’t “normal.”  I only remember being a little bigger than my peers at that age.  Maybe 20 pounds or so.

In middle school it got a bit worse.  I was at lunch with a friend and we walked by these boys and the a-holes yelled “hey look, if you mix you two together, you’d have two normal people.”  I was fat, she was rail thin.  I guess we looked like the Spratts.  Kids can be real jerks sometimes.

In high school my weight became a family issue.  We’d all try to eat healthy, there was a plethora of diets, separate Easter baskets with sugar free candy, nutrition classes, exercising, sports.  And I was still fat.  For sure not as fat as I am now.  But I have memories of being 180 pounds at 17 and a senior in high school.

After high school it all went to hell in a hand basket.  My fat cells replicated at break neck speed.  Birth control, the freshman I-don’t-even-know-how-much-but-sure-as-hell-not-15, three babies in 4 years.  My fat cells ate it all up.  And here we are.

We (J and I) work really hard to be body positive for the kids.  We want our kids to be happy in their own skin.  I try to be honest with them when they ask about my size.  Mommy’s fat.  We all come in different shapes and sizes.  We correct them when they make comments about other people–everyone is important and special no matter how they look.  We are more than our outsides.  We never use words to hurt other people.  I don’t want them to have the same struggle with self love and acceptance that I have.

And that brings me to my current dilemma.  I don’t know how to explain this surgery to V.  Em and Gus are too young to understand.  They probably won’t have memories of fat mommy.  But V will.  V is wickedly bright and can synthesize information and understand quickly.  How do I explain to him why I’m having weightloss surgery?  I’d be lying if I said I’m not a little excited to wear form fitting clothes, and feel like I look better in outfits.  But that’s not WHY I’m having surgery, society and it’s frivolous standards can take a hike.

I’m at a crossroads of thin isn’t better than fat.  Thin isn’t necessarily more healthy than fat.  Thin surely isn’t more pretty than fat.  So why, then, am I having surgery?  By my own account, and all doctor testing, I’m healthy.

  • I don’t have high blood pressure
  • I don’t have diabetes
  • I don’t have high cholesterol
  • I don’t have sleep apnea
  • I’m still able to move around–can I run a marathon, heck no, but I’m mobile

So, if the only thing “wrong” with me is being 300 pounds, why am I having surgery…. smaller must be better, right?

I don’t know how to explain to a 6 year old that being healthy is a sum of all parts.  That this is a preemptive measure because heart disease runs in my family, bad, and I don’t want to die early and miss their lives.  I’m afraid if I skim the surface too lightly he’ll only understand that skinny is better than fat.  But if I delve too deeply, I don’t know that it’ll be something he’s able to understand.

They all know that I’m having surgery.  But they haven’t really asked why.  And when they do, because they will, I hope I’m able to find the right words.

Mommy’s having surgery because I love you so much and this surgery and good choices mommy is going to try to make is going to help me be as healthy as I can be so I can be here for you as long as I can.