Size Confusion: Body Image

There are many sides to weight loss that aren’t often discussed, one of the most common ones is what I call “size confusion”. Once you are a certain size for so long it becomes very hard to see yourself as anything else – despite how small you get, in your head you’ve always been a size ___ so it’s very hard to mentally break free from this! If you follow me on Instagram you’ll notice I take a few profile selfies each week – it’s helping me to see how others see me. The mind is a powerful thing and changing how YOU see YOURSELF isn’t an easy task.

body image after weight loss

I was shopping last week looking for some things for vacation and found a sundress, naturally I reached for a large, I’m still surprised every time I head to the fitting room and things fit – it’s starting to get expensive! I really liked it but wondered it if might be TOO BIG, I went to look for a medium, no luck, they did however have a SMALL. I’ve never been a small anything before. Back to the change room and much to my surprise, it fit and looked even better than the large did. (note: the photo above is the large dress). So does buying a smaller size fix the issue? NO, not even close, but it does help to reinforce the fact that I am indeed smaller, slowly changing how I see myself. When I see other women I can’t help but wonder, “is that how I look to other people?”. I know I’m babbling on here but I’m just hoping someone can make sense of it and realize your not alone with how you feel. Why am I telling you all this? I think it’s important to know that the physical weight loss is just the tip of the ice berg. Don’t let these post-weight loss things get the best of you – it’s important to realize it’s all part of the process. Just keep working thru it, have trust!

Photos & Hips don't lie!

Photos & Hips don’t lie!

I tool this photo at the gym the other day and I was shocked at how small my hips actually are – still really crazy for me to see that this is what was hiding under all the excess weight! If you’re not a fan of photos, take weekly measurements – I still have my very first measurement sheet from when I started my journey. Find something that will give you a visual, something that can’t lie to you (i.e. the scale).

If you aren’t able to sort out the issue of body image on your own, and heck, even if you can, it would be (in my opinion) very beneficial to find someone to chat with about these issues. Often times saying these things out loud can be a huge help. Hopefully this post has made sense to some of you, I like to keep it real around here and this is something I’ve been working thru lately.

Abdominoplasty Healing Update #3

How time flies! Tomorrow marks 9 weeks since my excess skin removal surgery. In some ways this feels like the longest and yet shortest 9 weeks ever! My last update took us to about 4 weeks post-op, since then the biggest change is I’ve been cleared for exercise again! Every so often my body reminds me its still healing (via swelling or muscle soreness) but most of the time I feel great!

ABDOMINOPLASTY RECOVERY

Week 5:

  • More standard recovery
  • Still no exercise
  • One draining of the seroma, smallest amount of fluid. Possibly last draining.
  • Still wearing compression garment 24/7. It’s so stretched out. Buy 2 of these from your doctor if you can
  • No weight gain or loss at this point
  • Scar therapy with Dermatix twice daily

Week 6:

  • Cleared to exercise on my 6 week post-op check-up
  • No draining of seroma, doctor said fluid not enough to drain and body will absorb it
  • Was told to stop wearing the compression garment, but I kept it and wore it after my workouts for the first week for about 2-4 hours to keep swelling down. Honestly I think this did more for me mentally than anything. There wasn’t much excess swelling post workout. Since most of my workouts were at the end of the day it was also mixed with the normal end of day swelling.
  • A few spin classes this week to ease back into my routine and definitely not going at 100% effort.
  • Lots of rest in my recliner when working
  • Scar therapy with Dermatix twice daily

Week 7:

  • Said good-bye to my binder / compression garment for good! It was beyond stretched and wasn’t actually doing anything for me.
  • Had my first “leg day” workout – OUCH! Things were a little sore for about 4 days after, my abs however were totally fine!
  • Increased my level of effort in my fitness classes, but holding back where needed
  • Scar therapy with Dermatix twice daily

Week 8:

  • Tried on jeans for the first time since surgery and they were actually comfortable and fit with nothing hanging over!
  • Said good-bye to my big comfy power recliner (rental) and moved back to my regular office chair
  • The move back to the regular office chair isn’t helping the swelling situation so I’m trying to get up and walk around ever 30 min or so to keep the blood flowing.
  • Scar therapy with Dermatix twice daily
  • Repeated the same crazy body weight leg workout from week 7 and didn’t suffer for nearly as long! Also added in some light (5lb) upper body weights into the mix
  • Happy with how things are progressing but every day the tummy can look so different! Time of day is a huge factor for how swollen I get.
8 Weeks Post-Op

8 Weeks Post-Op

Week 9:

  • Tomorrow marks 9 weeks since surgery.
  • I’ve slept without pillows under my legs a few times now and I’ve felt fine. Even a few times on my right side, the left is still a no go.
  • This week I hit my lowest weight in about 10 years! Consider how much skin he removed this makes sense given my pre-surgery weight.
  • Still rocking lots of cardio as I can’t do too many weights just yet.
  • Scar therapy with Dermatix twice daily
  • Went shopping for a spin class costume – I’m dressing as Sporty Spice for a theme ride and was shocked when I fit my booty into a size SMALL pants. I started this journey a size 3XL, and now I’m a size SM, 6 Lululemon, or 10 jeans – isn’t women’s sizing crazy!!

Please remember, this surgery is NOT a weight loss surgery. You should be at your goal weight BEFORE your surgeon agrees to preform the operation. I consider this to be functional plastic surgery as the excess skin was impeding my ability to improve my fitness and perform certain exercises. While it was MY CHOICE to have this surgery, it may not be for you. Please be respectful of my choices as I would be of yours.

What Now?

Over the last 6 weeks I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on what comes next for me. I’ve put a good portion of my time and energy over the last 2 years into losing between 130-140lbs and making the shift to a much healthier lifestyle. But now what? I’ve gotten so used to being on a weight loss journey I’m not sure I know how to “just be” and practice maintenance without worrying about losing weight, I think it’s going to take a while to make the transition from “weight loss mode” to “real life living” mode.

March 2012

March 2012

A few things: ewww look at those giant sneakers on my feet! Second – it’s crazy to look back and see how far I’ve come. The above photo as taken 2.5 months into my weight loss journey and is one of the very few before photos I have.

6 Weeks Post-Op

6 Weeks Post-Op

As I start to see the results of my hard work coming thru it motivates me to keep pushing my body to transform into the best it can be. During my recovery my legs and behind have become a little soft and “fluffy”. My next goal is to tone them up and grow some glute muscles!

Remember, every once and a while we need to reflect back to see how far we’ve come. For me, it reignites the desire to be the healthiest I can be and reminds me of just how hard I’ve worked to get here. My surgery was definitely not the “easy” way out. I lost over 130lbs naturally thru learning proper nutrition and hard work. If you’re just starting your journey remember, to TRUST THE PROCESS, it leads to a forever change!

Cheers to the next stage! This journey is a life long one. Enjoy the ride!

Back In The Saddle

Yesterday I had my 6 week post-op check-up and I finally got cleared to exercise! As Dr. Elmaraghy started talking about exercise I could literally feel a smile coming over my face. He also checked the seroma and the good news is that my body has finally started to absorb it. The scar is looking great and it has entered its darker before it gets lighter phase, which is common for this time frame (6-8 weeks).

Let's Ride!

Let’s Ride!

My appointment was just before my Friday spin class so I was super excited that I would finally be able to pedal while I taught! After about 3 songs I was actually a little winded so I dialed it back so I could keep teaching! Saturday afternoon I couldn’t resist the urge to head back to the gym for my first real workout. I started with a 5min walk on the Woodway and then made my way to the spin studio where I kicked my own butt in a private spin class for 1! I had set a goal of 10 miles in 30 minutes which is just under my normal distance for that time. I was able to do sprints and hills with almost my normal amount of effort. I did have to dial it back a little bit to prevent my core from working too hard – which I need to avoid for another 6 weeks. After my ride I grabbed some dumbells (eeekkk – only 5lbs!) and did 3 sets of curls, overhead press, and tricep dips. Before surgery I could easily do this with 15-20lbs, and yet after 3 sets I could feel a burn in my arms, clearly I’ve regressed a little bit!

Tomorrow I’m planning on taking class so I can just enjoy the ride and not have to worry about coaching anyone. The plan is to give as much as I can while keeping the core safe and hope I can make it through the hour! The doctor cleared me for any and all cardio activities but things like push-up and plank will need to wait another 6 weeks. Basically anything that puts strain on the core needs to wait another 6 weeks.

Abdominoplasty Healing Update #2

Today marks 5 weeks since my surgery. It feels like forever ago and just yesterday at the same time. I’ve tried to keep the constant updates to Instagram and Facebook as not to have it take over this space.

30 Days Post Abdominoplasty

My last super detailed update was Days 1-12, since so many days have gone by and the majority of my days are the same, I’ll give you the highlights and what you can expect during each phase if you’re considering this surgery one you reach your goal weight – remember, this is NOT a weight loss surgery, it’s intention is to remove the excess skin and repair the ab muscles AFTER you’ve put in the hard work to drop all the weight.

Week 3 (Feb 28-March 6)
Over the last 3 weeks things have made great improvements, swelling is going down daily and I have to tighten my compression garment pretty much every day to make sure it’s tight enough. I also had my 3rd draining of the seroma this week and it was still draining the same amount, 4.25oz.

Most people return to light exercise at their 3 week point so I had been looking forward to that milestone but with the seroma I’m about 2 weeks behind schedule. I can now to small chores around the house as long as I’m not lifting anything too heavy, but I have found ways to get the laundry done and some light cleaning. Most of my days are still spent in my chair relaxing, working and recovering.

March 2nd marked my return to teaching (spin), and I was not willing to let that go, I needed to regain some form of normalcy in my life and it makes me happy! This week I also figured out how to finally wash this compression garment. I did an express wash while I had a nice long hot shower. Most people are back to work – if they have an office job – at this point, however, I’m still not sitting at my desk, I find it more comfortable to sit in my recliner. I also started scar therapy this week. My doctor uses a silicon cream that you use twice a day.

Overall, week 3, things feeling great, I’m feeling awesome, swelling is going down, seroma still draining.

Week 4 (March 7-13):
Wow – this week I feel amazing, no pain, totally “normal”. This week was my busiest week yet and while I enjoyed the change of pace I was so tired at the end of the day! I taught 2 spin classes daily from Sunday to Thursday. I’ve become wayyyy more comfortable teaching off the bike and have actually some to enjoy it – I had a rider tell me after class that “this was the most intense class I’ve ever taken!” – guess I’ve done my job!

I had another seroma draining appointment this week and it didn’t look like there was much of anything to be drained so I was optimistic that I would be back to the gym…nope! They were drained much much less, about 33cc’s but the doctor still wanted me to wait another week to see how the body absorbs it over the week.

At the beginning of the week I transitioned from sleeping in the recliner to sleeping in my bed. I bought a big wedge pillow (amazon.com | amazon.ca) that’s made sleeping in the bed much better. At this point I’m getting frustrated with sleeping, I miss sleeping on my tummy/side, and I have a hard time falling asleep now. I’m hoping next week I can try sleeping on my side!

This week I’m feeling 100% so I have to constantly remind myself to take it easy. I’m still using my scar cream 1-2 times a day and things are looking great! When I wear a bikini bottom you can’t see it at all – even the higher parts on the hips.  At this point I have absolutely no regrets about this surgery and I’d totally do it all over again. Yes, being out of the gym for so long is driving me insane, but it’s a small trade-off for having the body that I know I’ve worked SO hard to create over the last 2 years.

 

It’s been 3 Weeks Since My Last Workout

This morning it hit me that it’s been exactly 3 weeks since my last workout. 3 WEEKS. Since I started this journey 2.5 years ago I haven’t gone more than 2 days in a row without a workout. To say I’m going a little stir crazy is an understatement. I can’t help but see fitness all around me and my body is craving movement. Normally at this point in recovery you’d be cleared for light exercise, however, since I’ve developed a slight seroma my return to exercise is delayed.

Instead of focusing on all I can’t do I need to shift my mindset to the things I can do right now. One thing I can do is create a kick a$$ ride for my return to teaching on Sunday. Have I spent way to much time on creating this ride? Yup. But it’s keeping my mind busy and it’s doing something I love. During recovery I’m finding it hard to focus on work while I’m hanging out in my recliner so it’s nice to have these kinds of breaks in my days. I want to post the video ride for y’all to check out so that should be ready for next week! It’s pretty awesome!

My next project is creating my new lifting plan for when I return to the gym. Clearly I won’t be able to pick-up where I left as sitting on your behind for 4+ weeks you’re bound to lose some progress. Once I’m done my plan I’ll be sure to share it with you.

Just a quick check-in today. I’m still here. Healing is going well. Thanks for sticking around during this recovery.