thirty-nine.

Slept in.

Breakfast: Warmed chocolate croissant, mid-sized iced mocha latte from a cute place in town.

Went for a walk in nearby park.

Lunch: One small, and one large craft pumpkin beers, shared a jerk chicken pizza at our favorite local brewery.

Trip to the bakery around the corner for a “personal” sized carrot cake.

Dinner: Chips & salsa, one Cantarito and crispy fish tacos at a new Mexican restaurant nearby.

Wandered around World Market, purchasing only beer and candy. Mobile ordered an iced chai with soy on the way home. Comfy clothes by 10:00, on the couch with the carrot cake, and a cookie butter filled candy bar.

I spent the whole day happy and laughing and sharing delicious food and drinks with my best friend; but most importantly, not feeling one single ounce of guilt or shame about my food choices. If that’s not a non scale victory and a cause for celebrating myself, I don’t know what is.

jae birthday

 

 

Zumba!

Right before the start of 2016, down about fifty pounds, I tried my first group exercise class after my weight loss surgery. I had only been to a few others before and they were extremely stressful situations that caused my anxiety to skyrocket on the drive over, my stomach to flip flop on the walk into the room and then again when faced with the large mirror that would leave me on display no matter where in the room I stood. Exercise in general gave me the sweats because I was sure anyone who saw me doing it would think it was laughable, I had also felt like my body was unresponsive no matter what I was putting into it or making it do, so exercise was a chore, with no real reward. Even when I felt a little better afterward, I was still fat, and still miserable.

So the first class I go to is Zumba.

Ballsy, right?

I had seen commercials for years about the kits you could get to try it yourself at home, I had seen thin, attractive women shaking their overpriced legging clad butts to tropical sounding tunes and I had never had the courage to try, but I was intrigued, and for once I let that overpower the fear of the group class.

Man. It was something. Huge room at the gym, brightly lit with mirrored walls on two sides. Of course I took a place in the back of the class but there were only about ten people in it. It was a weekday before 9am, and the room was a melting pot. I wasn’t the oldest, or youngest, not the fattest or thinnest. I was just a person surrounded by other people who just wanted to dance and sweat something out – calories, stress, bad luck – whatever it was, we all just wanted to leave lighter.

It was loud and fast and fun. It was like all the shit I was doing in my own house when nobody was looking, but to better music. This was exercise? No exercise I ever knew was enjoyable. “Peace out treadmill” I thought as I shook and shimmied all over the place. Checking myself out in the mirror, not caring (too much) about my arm fat flapping as I danced my heart out.

It was the best morning I had had in a long time.

Even though I almost died. (dramatic)

In fifty minutes, my Fit Bit reported over 7,000 steps, I had sweat pooling in my eyebrows and I had drained my water bottle. Somewhat labored breathing but I staggered out to my car, and when I got home, announced that I was going to Zumba the next day, too.

For a few months, I had the time in my schedule to go to multiple classes a week, sometimes I went five times. I was dancing in grocery stores, looking up Zumba videos on You Tube to dance along to at night. I went to the same instructor’s class, and so I was getting all her moves and routines down, I was friendly with people in the class who also went a few times a week. I couldn’t believe I was exercising, for fun, before my coffee even!

I felt light, and happy and totally energized.

I bought fancy sports bras and new pants to hold in my gut, I didn’t care that I had to peel my clothes off after every class, or sometimes had to sit down slowly when suffering from what I called ‘zumba thighs’. I befriended the instructor, and when she was no longer teaching there, I became friendly with her replacement; talking about becoming a Zumba instructor myself, I was borderline obsessed and she offered to take me under her wing and show me the ropes and gave me info on where to sign up for different things.

I was totally on board.

Before that went anywhere, my schedule changed and I could really only make it to classes in the evening or on Saturdays, and those weren’t ideal.

Time passed and summer was almost over and I had my panniculectomy and spent eight weeks basically living on my couch. Every few days I would daydream about going back to Zumba, how much different it might feel now that this extra belly fat was gone, how I could finally get moving in the direction of becoming an instructor myself and sharing this exercise I actually enjoyed with other people. When the time came that I was cleared to exercise, it was also when I was cleared to go back to work, so again, not really ideal. I went to a few evening classes but it wasn’t the same as starting my day off with that jolt, there were no familiar faces, so again, it faded.

I don’t even know if I like it anymore. I’m sure I do but, I mean, if I truly did wouldn’t I have made the time for it? I don’t know if I used timing as an excuse or if it actually was a real constraint, but at the moment, it’s neither.

I have the freedom right now, and for possibly the next few weeks to get to some morning Zumba classes, so I”m gonna go. No pressure on myself to love it like I did, no idea that I am going to go and know all the moves ( I most certainly will not!), no concern about having the flabbiest arms flailing around or anyone paying attention to me.

I’m gonna take my free mornings, grab my water bottle and my little towel and I’m gonna go dance my ass off in that back row.

Maybe as soon as tomorrow.

 

 

nsv (non scale victory or no more secrets, victoria)

I have never cared about underwear.

I don’t know if I liked it or hated it or anything, I just viewed it as utilitarian. You have to wear it, and sometimes it has cute colors or patterns.

I mean, at almost three hundred pounds they’re not that cute and really served no purpose (for me) other than having a barrier between clothes and skin.

They were just something you bought, like socks or toothpaste.

I bought multi packs of Hanes or Fruit of the Loom or whatever was there, size large or extra large, I don’t know, I really didn’t care.

My hippest underwear shopping finds were these lace trimmed satin-ish ones from Target that were about $5 a pair. Every time we did laundry, Steve would tease me about my “weird granny panties that are trying to be sexy” and then I’d ball them up in a drawer because, whatever.

Immediately after my vertical sleeve surgery, I lived in yoga pants (still kinda do!), long sleeve t-shirts/zip ups and sports bras. When the promise of losing something like seventy percent of your excess weight is there, you’re not dropping a lot of coin on clothes; mostly because you’re going to go through them faster.

I bought inexpensive things, wore things until they were comically big, and of course had my eye on some stores I’d never shopped in.

I’m about a year post op when I decide that my Champion sports bras are over. This can’t be a thing that goes on forever, but I have no idea where to shop for anything (still sort of true!) so I take to a post op group I am part of on Facebook and ask where any of them are getting their bras.

A resounding mention of “Victoria’s Secret” and I laugh out loud, in my living room at the responses.

Also a store called Soma, so I force myself to drive around the mall parking lot for about half an hour before I find a parking spot, resist buying an Auntie Anne’s pretzel (which I can only eat half of anyway) and make my way to the store.

Fluorescent lighting, me in leggings and a bra with a stranger.

I didn’t like it, the bras that is.

The sizing was off, the bras felt weird and I was getting hot and uncomfortable taking things on and off.

She brought me so many things to try and after about a dozen I was like fuck this, I hate all of these.

I felt like I looked like an old lady. I still felt fat. I felt awkward. And I felt like if I was gonna give a shit about the bras or underwear I was wearing, I should really like them. Otherwise why bother breaking away from the basic stuff.

I thanked her and left.

A little hot, a little tired, and if we’re honest, a little defeated.

On my way back to the parking lot I passed Auntie Anne’s again, debated the pretzel and then saw the pink glow of Victoria’s Secret.

Maybe I’ll go in.

Nobody has to know.

Hmm.

I walked by twice before finally walking in, and not thirty seconds into the half dozen dressers spilling out eighty different types of underwear, a woman approached me.

Oh, fuck.

She’s gonna ask me to leave.

She’s gonna know I don’t belong here.

I should just go.

Turn around, just leave.

Eye contact.

Shit.

Turns out she just wanted to help.

Oh, in that case, hey Linda, let me tell you my life story!

She listens. She nods.

Next thing you know, we’re in the dressing room which is so pink and black and fancy I’m feeling a bit like a dirt bag in my leggings and combat style boots, but I’m open.

She has a measuring tape and an armful of bras. She asks what style I prefer.

Uhhhh, the ones that keep my boobs from flopping all over?

I later find out my preference is actually the Body by Victoria Demi – as I am checking out with two of them, and a half dozen pair of underwear. (I can’t call them panties, I’m almost 40)

The cashier does the normal “Are you paying with your Angel card today?” thing and I beam inside, like, she thinks I shop here, she doesn’t sense that I’m some awkward, less fat person who has never been in this glittery floored haven before except to buy perfume for my sister-in law for Christmas.

Naturally I say no and she asks me if I’d like to apply for one. I’ll save something or other today, and while the idea of a discount always tickles my fancy, I’m sure I’m not a candidate.

(The only other thing I’ve struggled with as much as my weight is my credit, to be honest)

She’ll get points or something, blah blah, sure, I’ll go for it.

“You’ve been approved, Angel”

“You must have typed something wrong, I’m not Angel”

She laughs, “You’re an Angel if you’re a cardholder; you’ll get a booklet of coupons in a few weeks and an explanation of our rewards program, which has three teirs, up to ‘Forever Angel’

“Great, thanks” I say, not sure I’ll be dropping sixty bucks a bra for the rest of my life, and with no real intention of using the card much.

I walk back past the spilling displays, through the mall toward the parking garage; head high, pink and black bag full of crinkly tissue paper in various shades of and pink and actually cute underwear, and I get an Auntie Anne’s pretzel.

I head home and try on both bras and all the underwear again. I have my own bathroom half-mirror fashion show and am sold. I never liked underwear – on or off. Bras, with a bow that don’t look like their for eleven year olds?

I look good. I feel good.

A month later I have another half dozen pair of undies, a different style and I have the website bookmarked.

I’m a regular VS shopper now, an Angel even.

Around the two year “anniversary” of my surgery I order more underwear, a few new sleep shirts and a bathrobe. Size Medium.

As if the universe knew; when I returned home from an afternoon of follow up appointments there was a package waiting for me. Home alone I tried everything on, and it fit. I had a moment on my living room floor, eyes tearing up, laughing … it all fit. I called my mom and told her. She laughed and celebrated with me when I said “I live in a world where I can wear a size medium from Victoria’s Secret!”

I have thirty-four pair of underwear now. (Not including ones that were tossed because they were stretched out pre-panniculectomy, or faded from washing or met some other fate)

I also have half a dozen bras, regular and sport, half  a drawer full of their leggings, long and short sleeve sleep shirts and a free tote bag or two…

Who would have thought ….

I’m a fucking ‘Forever Angel’