Now, if you want more info, that's no problem. I got links :)
1 - Why my husband and I felt that "weight loss surgery" was the right decision for us (to clarify, only I had surgery. Jason is not obese.). [read it here]
2 - Heart issues / readying myself for the surgery once it was an impending reality (read: approved by insurance). [read it here]
3 - Wrestling with God but finally ready to get this done (this was written the day before surgery). [read it here]
4 - An update I wrote about how I was doing / how the surgery itself went about two weeks after it was done. [read it here]
Now that THAT's done, here's why I'm writing this: I've lost a lot of weight, and I've known it with my head but I hadn't really truly felt all that different. I could see numbers on a scale telling me I'd lost 80 pounds, or numbers in my Excel spreadsheet telling me I'd lost 50 inches, and I could look in the mirror and see that I was smaller than I used to be, but I still felt like a super morbidly obese person.
Something has been shifting in the last week or so. I have felt different- maybe it's been because I could wear clothes that have never fit. Maybe it's because I got a bra that actually fits, lifting up my breasts so that the fact that I'm getting an actual waist is so much more apparent. Maybe it's because on Sunday I walked a mile, from church to home, and it didn't even feel like exercise (6 months ago my back hurt so badly that walking ONE BLOCK would have me in tears). Maybe it's because last Sunday, at church, I realized that for the first time I was not the biggest person in the room (of 1,000 people) like I have almost always been. Maybe it's because I bust my butt at the gym, doing an hour of hard core cardio three times a week, and some people my age and half my size can't keep up. All of those things certainly feel great!
Tonight, though, whatever has been shifting just cracked: my husband and I took my monthly pictures and measurements, and I posted the pictures to my Facebook progress albums. I seem to be forming a ritual of taking my most recent picture and a picture of me at my biggest, shrinking the browser to size, putting them side by side, and just being in awe. The cracking caught me off guard- I was looking at the pictures and I just started crying. It became so real, suddenly, that I don't have to be the "fat girl". I am less and less her, and in my most recent picture I saw my body- my actual, womanly body with curves that aren't just huge fat rolls making my arms puff out like the Marshmallow monster from Ghost Busters- and for the first time in my life I realized that I want to have a cute body.
This part is hard to put into words, but I will attempt it. I have always been overweight, almost always obese, and I've been morbidly and super morbidly obese for almost all of my 20's. When I was on my way up the scale I just wasn't very aware of my body- I wanted a boy to be insanely in love with me but figured, "Meh, I'm fat, so it has to be entirely based on my personality." I was resigned to always being fat and always having an undesirable body and never having a cute one.
Don't get me wrong- having a cute body isn't about attention (from men or women- I don't need guys to make me feel affirmed or the envy of women to make me feel worthy). I want my husband to enjoy it, for sure, but it's not about others. For the longest time I've thought this journey is just about my health, but Jesus is so incredibly gracious and is taking me beyond that. I definitely want to be healthy and have been so grateful for the wow moments, like those aforementioned little victories. But Jesus, in His grace, is helping me to realize something. Again, this is hard to put into words, but I'll try.
I've never felt very feminine. There's a lot there- I was raised by a mother who despises emotion, thinks it's a sign of weakness, so I was never safe to express emotional things. I was abused- sexually, verbally, emotionally, physically, spiritually- by many different people throughout my life. I learned to protect myself- to hide who I really was, someone in deep pain, desperate to be loved. Meanwhile I tried to be a person that would be likeable- always funny, bubbly, super outgoing. Any inherent femininity in me wasn't someone I felt safe being, so I hid her away.
Beyond that, my actual personality didn't bend toward traditional femininity. I've always enjoyed sports- I love football more than any man I know, and it's a true love, not just something to seem cool- and would rather punch myself in the face five times than do any sort of dancing, especially stuff like swing dancing or ballroom. Gross. I've never been much into needing trendy & stylish clothes or always wearing make-up, I've never had a manicure or pedicure or anything like that, I hate the mall, and if I never own a "designer" label in my life I'll be just fine. So, yeah, not very feminine in the ways that I considered to be benchmarks.
I'm learning that I don't have to trade in football for a trip to Nordstrom in order to be considered feminine. And, while I still love football, my heart has been changing a lot lately and Christ is showing me what it is to find such joy and love in Him that I choose to trust Him enough to be vulnerable. I'm discovering and embracing the femininity- the soft heart, the nurturing spirit, the desire to be protected- which God has blessed me with. Choosing to be vulnerable is not weak- it's a strength that few people ever know unless the love of Jesus and obedience to Him compels them to it.
As for my body, there's something to be said for my past of sexual abuse- I'm actually working through some things right now, so time will tell. I haven't worked through everything, but there are things that do suggest to me that I have found comfort in not being of a shape that would elicit sexual desire in a man. I certainly did feel that comfort when I met Jason, him loving my personality, loving me for who I am, and him still finding me attractive was just a nice side effect. I remember thinking smugly that a "normal, pretty girl" would have less certainty that a guy didn't just want to get in her pants when he said he loved her. It's felt safe to have my female body, one that a gross man would ogle or a scary man would want to violate, hidden beneath 225 pounds of excess fat, so much fat that my real body underneath was rendered unrecognizable and thus unable to (in my mind) incite male interest.
There's way too much there to ever try and put into a simple blog post, but tonight, for the first time, I felt the stirring in my heart, the desire to have a womanly shape. Like I said before, it's not just about health anymore. Jesus, in His grace, is changing me enough to have joy in having a feminine heart and for it to be a source of delight to see my body- a woman's body- slowly emerge as the fat melts away, a physical manifestation of the spiritual and emotional (and the like) transformation.
To say that, and know I mean it, for all it represents, just blows me away. I can hardly fathom it, yet it's my reality!
I'm exhausted- it's been a sweet, wonderful night but I'm so very tired and I may not be making a lot of sense. All of these wonderful things were bubbling up in my heart and I needed to get them written down. Maybe tomorrow I'll read this and decide that I need to clarify or edit, but for now, I just wish to express how amazed I continually am at how much Jesus loves me and delights in making sure I know it.
If you aren't my Facebook friend (sorry, I only befriend people I actually know and am friends with in real life) you can still see the pictures; not only will I include one before & after here, I'll give ya a link to my Facebook album.
Click on both pictures in separate windows and compare them side-by-side to get the full effect; I can hardly believe it's only been five months and I see me everyday, so it's pretty cool to compare then to now!
Praise God, I feel like I look like a different person almost and I'm only five months out! I am ecstatic about how I look at 279 pounds, and I can't even imagine how I'll look at 229, 179, and, if it's a place my body is healthily able to get to, my goal weight of 150 pounds. The best news? I'm actually so excited to get there, to no longer fear having a woman's body, and even more excited about how much I am changing internally, which was what I hoped for, but as is always true with Jesus, it's so much sweeter than I'd even dreamed of.
Here's the link to the full album:
Before & After Photos