Loving my battle scars

battle scars

This post has been a long time coming and to be honest I am not sure where I am going to go with it or why I feel like it’s time to write about it, but as I usually write without planning, I am going to run with it. I suspect it will be long, so make yourself a cuppa, put your feet up and join me if you feel inclined. I don’t see it being a two minute read as so many blogs posts are these days, but I’d love for you to stay for the ride.

You see I have written more times than I can possibly recall or link to about my lifelong eating disorder and the multitude of challenges I faced over the last 38 years or so. In contrast I have shared very little about my eating disorder in the last 18 months, but mentioned in various posts that I had taken steps to overcome it.

So what’s changed? First let me say I have not kept this a secret from anyone and pretty well everyone I meet to and speak to about my significant weight loss and resulting good health knows as I am open and honest about it. I just haven’t written about it, well here anyway. I do have another blog dedicated to it which I haven’t updated in forever, but if you want to have a peak, here is one of the pages where I discuss all the things I tried over the years to manage my addiction.

So the big change is that I had Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy – VSG for short, or as most people know it – Gastric Sleeve. I had 75% of my stomach removed. Yes you read that right – taken away, not banded, removed forever. And I could NOT be happier.

Why did I do it? From my other blog “I’ve written in other posts about this, but briefly, I was tired of being a slave to my addiction. I had fatty liver and fatty pancreas, had already lost my gall bladder, lived with constant pain and I seemed incapable of doing anything to create sustainable change.

I want to live a long, healthy and happy life and I decided it was time to take control of my body and my addiction and needed a tool to provide me with the extra support I need to make it happen.

Addicts are different to people who just need to lose weight. We use food in ways that non addicts can never understand. Only addicts can truly understand addiction.” Oh and if you think weight loss surgery is the easy way out, you are of course entitled to your opinion but I do invite you to read this post to see why I think it’s far from that.

The last sentence says it all – addiction is a very different animal. I have written previously about the fact that as a food addict we need to slay our demons multiple times a day. We can never take an abstinence approach unlike if we were addicted to other substances (and I am NOT saying that is easy at all!!) we need to eat right?

i-wont-ever-apologize-for-being-a-warrior-i-havent-21850440

So now I am 18 months post op, I have lost a ton of weight and I almost cannot believe I don’t get hung up on the scales anymore. This is after a lifetime of weighing myself and watching the number go up and down and my stress levels elevating or my excitement elevating based on the number. I have been at the same weight for about 8 months now and it fluctuates about two kilos up and down and I could not care less. I reckon I’ve lost about 24 kilos, but again I don’t get caught up on that. It’s what I have gained that has changed my life.

  1. Clarity of thought. It’s as if a whole portion of my brain is now free to explore and create. It’s as if someone came in and swept out a whole bunch of stuff from my brain and thinking and left a clean open room. I no longer obsess over calories, binges, diets, rehashing what I ate, what I didn’t, when my next diet will start or anything remotely like that. It is over – forever.
  2. Freedom from pain. That’s all that needs to be said here.
  3. Confidence. Yes I loved and do my body and I truly learnt to love my curves, but the confidence of knowing that no matter what I put on I look good and can fit into is incredible. This is especially relevant when I am in Bali which I am a lot as their idea of one size fits all used to be a joke to me.
  4. Energy. Yep, loads of it!
  5. No longer reading diet books, posts, forums or anything of the kind – never even crosses my consciousness now.
  6. Not being obsessed with food – like ever. I like food and I still have my days when I eat too much sugar as sugar is my cocaine, but I let it go when I do.
  7. I can eat anything – almost. A few things don’t sit right but those aren’t good for me anyway. Restriction doesn’t work for me and the benefit of this surgery is that I can literally eat anything I want. I feel so liberated that I don’t even have words to express how this feels!

scar_quote

So that all sounds sunshine rainbows and unicorns right? And to a degree it is, however as a result of years and years of yo-yo dieting and ballooning and shrinking, my body has paid the price in many ways. I have battle scars and quite a few of them.

  1. I had abdominoplasty four years ago – best thing ever. I love love love love it. I had a caesarian with my first son and that combined with fluctuating weight resulted in an apron forever that would never shift. A flat stomach is something I never had and why it may sound vain there are other inconveniences an apron brings that I will leave to your imagination, let’s just say it can be very unpleasant and uncomfortable. The result of abdominoplasty is that I have a scar that goes from the back of each hip right around the front of my body. It’s a big battle scar but one that I wear proudly and only two people in the world see it anyway, although I happily share it if the topic comes up.
  2. Skin. I have loose skin in many places. It is a constant reminder of the fact that my wonderful body has grown and relaxed with me, more times than I can recall. This has bounced back in some areas and not so much in others. I used to have a hang up about it but I appreciate the flexibility that my body has given me and the fact I have survived this long and maintained such good health is somewhat of a miracle if I am honest. I look pretty good in clothes and that’s what matters – except…..
  3. Arms. My arms have always been enormous and out of proportion with my body and are even more so now. Oh how I have longed for and admired arms of other women my entire life. They are now mostly loose and very saggy skin, are uncomfortable and get in the way. As I spend a lot of time in the tropics they are very visible and that’s ok but more importantly, I want to be comfortable. I have decided to have brachioplasty and will be having that in two weeks time. Yes there is a certain amount of vanity to this, but this is one battle scar I will wear proudly and openly for the world to see. I will have a scar running from my armpit to my elbow and it will serve as a reminder of how far I have come and the fact I am now healthy and taking care of my amazing body.
  4. No gall bladder. I was your typical ‘fair, fat and forty’ candidate for gall bladder removal. This affects me depending on what I eat, and obviously having an organ removed based solely on poor dietary choices isn’t idea.
  5. Invisible scars. Because of my sleeve I can no longer enjoy big meals followed by  desserts, and feeling full doesn’t have the same satisfying feeling it used to. It is downright uncomfortable if I eat too much and my portion sizes are like those of a child. Eating out is not as much fun as it was and I can never eat and drink at the same time – ever again. It’s a small price to pay but one that has an impact, especially when friends and family make beautiful meals and I can only enjoy a little.

scars-are-tattoos-with-better-stories-quote-1

So, there you have it, I have plenty of scars and I love them. I am proud of myself for doing what I needed to in order to live a happy, healthy and long life. I don’t believe in regrets because everything teaches us something. I have heard many people say they only regret not doing it earlier, of course we are all 20/20 in hindsight, but I wasn’t ready earlier. The stars aligned and it was right for me to do it when I did.

I am now approaching 52 and I think I’d have to say I am experiencing the best health of my life. I feel like I have woken up from a deep slumber and life is very exciting to me right now. I am proud of where I am today and I look forward excitedly to what the future holds with my newfound levels of energy and freed up spaces in my mind!

Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 5.09.25 pm

2c2485ee267fe41fc928dea95b34e102

A live half lived ….

peter_paul_rubens_-_the_three_graces_1635

One of the many things that is so fucking hard about having an addiction (as I have written about before, mine is food) is living in a state of “when I am … then…”.

For me it has always been “when I am at my ideal weight …then….”.

I have literally hundreds of different scenarios I could relate here, but I will share one example that impacts on me regularly. Imagine, the weather begins to change from the chill of Winter, and the first moments of Spring appear, just like this weekend just gone. It is time to get some warm weather clothing out of the top of my wardrobe. Even though when packing them away months earlier, the temptation to donate them was huge as there was no way I will be this weight once next summer comes, no way! I will definitely need a whole new wardrobe, so why bother storing these larger sizes? So I get some out to put on and see my bits of skin and extra wobbly bits that I had hoped I would long say goodbye to, and have said goodbye to previously. But that’s not really the issue, I am used to that. It is the thinking behind a lot of the purchases that I find to be a live half lived.

I usually shop with the thought in the back of my mind that “I won’t be this weight for long”, so I buy clothes with the mindset that I will just get this to get me through. It is not that I don’t take pride in my appearance or buy nice things, I do, but I never really go all out and buy things that I think I might need long term. For example underwear. I remember one day a few years back shopping with a girlfriend for a new dress for my first ever girls night out. We found a lovely dress and it was low cut so you could see my bra, so I mentioned this to her. She said, it’s ok, just wear one of your other bras. Thing is I only ever had one bra. Yes just one. It wasn’t a financial thing, I had plenty of money, I just didn’t think I needed to buy more than one as “I wasn’t going to be this size for long”. She thought I was joking and laughed. I reiterated that I only had one bra. My beautiful girlfriend who is a smoking hot, feminine beauty with drawers of lingerie was gobsmacked. She just couldn’t believe that I could have just one bra. I wasn’t able to explain my thinking behind it at the time, but we quickly went off so I could buy another one, but not too fancy as “I wasn’t going to be this size for long”.

Same goes for jeans, I usually have one pair as surely I “won’t be this size for long”. This has been going on since my late teens. I will be 50 in a few months. There were two times in my life when this wasn’t the case, but for the most part, this is how I have always shopped.

Occasionally I have a moment of deciding I should embrace my Rubenesque body (which my husband truly adores and sometimes I do too) and I go out to buy a few pieces at once, but I never fully embrace the experience as I won’t be needing these clothes for long.

And yet I continue to do the same shit…..over and over and over and over again.

I have several significant events approaching in the calendar in my brain that I want to be able to make sustainable change for, and hopefully I will do that, but in the meantime I will wear my clothes that are this size, because I won’t be this size for long.