Monday, September 27, 2010

What We Need To See

Sometimes, even though we know something, we need to see it in order to make it real.

Sometimes, even though we can see something clearly, it isnt until we see it in an embarrassing light, that we really see it.

I had to buy jeans last month.  I had two pair and one pair ripped, so I figured, as winter is approaching I'll probably need something warmer than my pajama pants, so time to buy jeans.  We drove out to the outlets so Peter could buy some things and he pushed the kids around in their stroller so I could hit up a store for women.  For "real women" as their slogan says.  But let's be honest, we could say "full figured" and we'd all still know it's a euphemism for bigger girls.  But I digress...

In my mind, I go there for the bras.  I've been well endowed with false advertising (which I tend to think of my boobs as, since I am a believer that their true purpose was breastmilk production and they fell short on that job!) in or around the 44DD mark.  Not too many places sell boulder-holders that support and last longer than a month, so I've been shopping at LB for years, ever since VS told me they didnt have my size.  But I never thought of myself as "plus" sized.  Big boned, but not fat.

I picked up two pair of pants, one in the size I wasnt happy about being, and one in the next larger size (you know, just in case).  The latter fit.  Barely.  I wanted to cry.  I bought three pair of the bigger jeans and got out of the store as quickly as I could, Peter close behind.  He said all the right things, that it was just a number (and a crazy number at that- he hates the way women's clothes are sized, but dare I tell him that you couldnt tell a woman she was a size 30 and expect her to be happy, even though a 30 inch waist is nothing to be sad about), that I was beautiful, that he loved me no matter that I had put on a few pounds since college.  (It's more than a few, but he's sweet for still thinking of it that way).

When my dress for the wedding was ordered, it was ordered in a size I wasnt happy about, but the sales woman told me, as she wrote down the size, not to worry.  "Wedding and bridesmaids gowns are always sized way larger than real sizes."  Of course!  Not to worry!  I'm not that fat!  But, I smiled, nodded, and agreed.  And ordered away.  Yesterday, the dress barely fit.  (No one's dress fit well; we were carb-loading the night before like we had a marathon to run...  Probably not the best choice!)  I had to go sans-bra because it would close with my strapless on.  That resulted in me feeling quite a bit more showy than I'd hoped, and constantly adjusting my dress.  But, we all laughed, it's the way those dresses are!  It wasn't us!  It was the tailoring!

And, given we were beautiful.
I mean, really.  Have you seen a nicer looking, United Nations'esque group of bridesmaids?  And, to top it off, we all get along really well.  (And, if you are wondering, we seriously did have quite the mesh of backgrounds: Indian, Vietnamese, Middle Eastern, Korean, and my St. Patrick's Day self.  For women who, on the surface, may seem different, I've never found a cooler group of women to call friends.)

But, seeing the picture tonight, really brought me face to face with a face that I've been struggling to face.

I'm not this girl anymore.

My waist isn't 29 inches.  I dont weigh 150lbs.  My pants size is not single digits and I sure as hell can't fit into a pair of Peter's old pants.

Yes, I've spent years pregnant, but I haven't been for a year.  And, I'm ashamed to say, I've gained back most of the weight I lost right after Bobby and Maya were born.  Training for the Tri didn't inspire weight loss, either.  It toned a few things, but that's it.

Weight gain in spite of a healthy diet and exercise, and having a difficult time getting rid of it, is a prime symptom of PCOS.  But, let's face it, I can't blame PCOS alone when I'm the one turning to food for comfort.  I can't blame this $&@(#*$&#(*$&(#@% disease (even though I REALLY want to) when I'm the one drinking soda after soda, popping back a bag of mini donuts, and eating God-Knows-What (for the few meals I do it).  My body is alternating between starvation mode (because I dont eat when I should) and GAINWEIGHT mode (because I eat crap when I do eat).  I havent been to the gym in forever.  I have run less than a half dozen times since the Tri (almost 2 months ago).

And this, this isnt PCOS's fault.  It's mine.

And I have such a self loathing about it.

And, because I'm so angry internally, it is coming out in my every day life.  My patience is thin, and my marriage is suffering because of my personal animosity.  Peter has the patience of a saint, but I'm not sure how much more of my Irish Temper/Weight Anger he can take with a smile.  Nor should he have to.  I've such a short fuse because of this self hatred.

And, more than wanting to drop "a few" pounds, I want to be a positive role model for Bobby and Maya- especially Maya.  I struggled with a good body image (even though my weight was fine) all through high school; I dont want that for her.  I dont want her to see a mother who is constantly at war with the scale (and the size of her jeans).

I have no will power.  I can work out when I have a race goal, but otherwise, I'm a couch potato.  And food. I love food.  Wait, i LOVE food.  I love to cook and I have no desire to make it into something healthier.  I want to eat what I want, when I want it.

And this is bad.  For a multitude of reasons.

Well, Peter just came downstairs and gave me a dirty look for being on the computer when I'm supposed to be cleaning the kitchen.  And he's right.  I need to get my butt up and do something other than blog and watch football.  Especially since he just started a load of laundry.

But I needed to get this off my chest.  I dont know where it will go, but I know it's probably going to be a recurring them until I can get my $h!t together.


Anonymous said...

Oh hon I know this pain. I have had food issues messing with my head for too long to count. A couple of months ago I started a combination of therapy and hypnotherapy and the result has been amazing for me. Food is no longer a source of anxiety or stress for me. I can't believe I'm even saying those words now. I've dropped a dress size and I'm slowly becoming the person I know I can be.
Wishing you well in your journey xxx

Angelwingsbaby said...

I too have struggled with my weight and have been working on losing it.It was destroying me and my self esteem.I was depressed and it was hurting my marriage. I have lost a lot of it but still have about 19 pounds to go get back anywhere near where I was pre fertility meds. I am here if you need me feel free to email anytime.((hugs))-Megan

Hope's Mama said...

Wow, this is my life right now. Absolutely. Apart from the PCOS, we seem to have come from a very similar background and be in a very similar place now. I was smaller in the first couple of months after I had Angus than I am now, and his first birthday is fast approaching. I have joined a gym, and I have just got an exercise bike for home, but I do need to work on cutting more of the crap. I can't keep using the excuse my baby died, I can eat that if I want.
Great post. Thanks for writing this.

Jen said...

I identify with every word in this post!

I've gained 60 pounds in 5 years. Most of it came from sadness eating after Lily died. I'm disappointed in myself every day.

I just got done reading an advertisement in a magazine that said "there isn't a childhood obesity epidemic. We just need better role models" My heart hurt after reading this. I want to be a good influence on Cooper, too.

We both need to get our sh*t together :) Not just for ourselves but also for our children...

Barb said...

You can do it sweets! ZZ (E agrees. He's "helping") And your behavior is a com[ponent of course, but PCOS doesn't make it any easier.

Anonymous said...

Please please please don't let this issue rule your life. The damage that weight-hate does to women's lives and minds and happiness is truly incalculable.

And I know, that's easier said than done.

I'm someone who loves to eat and has the genes of a chubby-person, and I do know how frustrating it can be (especially when wed to a super-skinny-without-depriving-themselves-of-anything spouse).

No magic bullets, no super words of wisdom. You'll find something that works to keep you motivated and healthy, but until then, just please remember that your weight isn't YOU, and your husband's support is wonderful to witness.

Thinking of you.

Reba said...

i know these feelings so well--i have them everyday too. i want to not look pregnant anymore. it's like a sick joke that i still look pregnant! :( i know i need to improve my diet, and exercise, but it is so hard with everything else in life. i try to just accept it most of the time, but it's a fact i'm aware of most days, that my belly slops over my pants and is generally gross. makes it kind of hard to feel sexy too.

Ms. J said...

Honey . . . I really, really, really want you to listen to what I am going to share and sit with it and give it some thought. . . .

I know how it feels to carry that extra weight. To go into stores for plus-sized women and tell yourself it's okay. I know what it's like to be with a man who is slender and also very supportive of you/me not being slender, and them say all the right things.

I also know what it's like to be constantly hating or being critical of thyself because of what we see in the mirror . . . and of how it feels to carry that weight around. It weighs us down literally and figuratively.

This is why, in Sept of 1999, I finally went to a W.eigh.t Wat.chers meeting. We had just moved cross-country, and I knew that being homesick while also searching for my first post-grad school job was a lethal prescription for "eat, eat, eat." I had reached a point where I realized that it wasn't fair -- and by that I mean the stress I wasn putting on my relationship with Dr. J by my constant roller coaster of emotions regarding my weight, my appearance, and my self-esteem.

I weighed 215.8 lbs. I was a good 25 lbs heavier than even I had thought, and probably 35 lbs heavier than my heaviest in college a mere 3 yrs prior.

It was something I'd have to liken to going to an A.A. mtg (no offense to any alcoholics in recovery out there - but my relationship with food felt similar). Immediately, I felt a sense of control - someone was giving me a plan. I knew what was healthy and what was not already - but someone was showing me how to make it work and NOT be hungry. How to work exercise into the plan, too. I lost 3.8 lbs the first week. Within 3 months I had lost 25 lbs (folks who weight the most at the start tend to have higher rates of loss quickly - which is very gratifying! For once I was "Winning", LOL).

I wound up losing a total of 70 lbs. I kept it off for 5 years, til my pregnancy with Peanut, where I gained more than 45 pounds. And I used the same process to lose that weight again - only this time I am now 2 lbs UNDER my pre-preg weight, and am going to keep going (I wear a size 12 in pants, and 10 in a dress, to give you an idea). I don't have big boobs anymore, but I am about a 34D at Victori.a's Secret (again, so you have a frame of reference).

A dear bloggy friend is currently going thru WW to lose her baby weight and be a healthy example to her two little guys. She texts me when she is tempted, and I text her. If you need it, just email me and I will give you my cell phone number for support. I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL AND HOW IT CRUSHES YOU IN A NY GIVEN MOMENT (***I am saying I know how it feels when it comes to weight issues - please don't think I meant I know how it feels when it comes to the crushing losses of your precious babies - that I don't, as each of us has unique grief).

Give WW a try. You can find a meeting online somewhere tonight. You can do it online (though I recommend in-person meetings for a few months). Sorry if I sound too cheerleaderish ... but I am hurting for you, and WW is the only thing I have seen consistently work for people.

LOVE YOU!!! And love you for sharing this.

Noelle said...

I have to second how wonderful WW is. I lost 50 pounds on it. Sadly, I've gained 35 back. I have about 60 pounds to lise to look "normal." I hate my body too. I think about it all of the time. I only have one pair of shorts that fit me. I am tired of my self-loathing. I have started WW online again. I would love to be able to support each other in this weight loss journey. I plan to blog about it and maybe you can too.

Ms. J said...

@ NOELLE - if you need a friend, feel free to leave a comment in my blog (I won't publish) and I will be happy to help support you getting back on the WW again. It actually took the push of another blogger who resolved to lose her baby weight that got me to say "you know what, it worked before and it will work again" and start writing down everything I ate and planning my points again.

HUGS TO EVERYONE WHO IS HURTING BECAUSE OF EXTRA WEIGHT! I hope my comment above didn't sound preachy or anything - I have cried so many tears about my appearence over the years and the pounds I had packed on.

WW was like someone throwing me a life preserver. I still had to learn how to swim on my own, but I could stop drowning.

Catherine W said...

Oh Michele. I know that I'm also a little heavier than I would like to be. I know that I use food to comfort myself, I always have. It's so hard not to sometimes.
But I also spent my teenage years at war with the scales and I would hate, hate, hate to see Jessica do the same. I already worry that I have given her issue about food because I was obsessed with HER eating when she was tiny. Even now it gives me great pleasure to see her eat and I hope I haven't started some sort of food related issue :(
But I'm with sprogblogger. Please don't let this issue rule your life, don't let your own perception of your weight and your body make you hate yourself. You are so much more than your weight or your appearance (and personally, I think you are beautiful) That self hatred can happen all too easily and I've spent years there myself. It isn't worth the misery. xo

Cape Girl said...

This post really touched me. I have been here a million times and even when I loose weight, I still struggle with my image. I have all those feelings that you have and I have all the understanding that there really isn't any excuse either, but I don't usually voice it. For you to write all of that was so...brave, for lack of a better word. I went through a turn around about 10 years ago where I had put on a ton of weight over a few years. It was one day I woke up and I decided I was going to loose it, and I did. I did Weight Watchers, and lost 55 lbs!

Ive been able too keep it off, but I always still viewed myself as "big". Last year when I got pregnant I gained 25lbs in the first 26 weeks...then I lost my baby boy and not only was I devastated from the loss, but my body image was worse than ever. I started fertility treatments really quickly after the loss, and now I'm 25 weeks pregnant again. I've only gained 13 lbs, but I was still carrying a lot of the 26 from last time.

You have really made me feel liberated in some way! Being honest about whats going on in your head is so hard.

I know you'll loose the weight you want to. And just a tip. For me it's never been about the exercise, it's totally about the food choices. Exercise is good, too. but the food is what makes or breaks me. Sending you positive thoughts!!!

Katie said...


Oh, sweetheart.

Everyone else has said it so much better than I ever could hope to.

SO, just know that I am here, in sisterhood.

While I agree that I LOVE WW and that you need to be at a healthy weight for both your own well-behing and to set a good example for your kids, I also want to make sure that you are loving on yourself and recognizing all that you have been through that has gotten you here. You are still a very beautiful woman and I just don't want that to get lost in the shuffle.

MUCH LOVE as you start whatever course you are on next. I'll be here, rooting you on.

Once A Mother said...

I don't have PCOS, though for many years I have had a lot of the symptoms, but test after test all came back negative. I, too, agree that WW works, though for me always counting was a short term fix, rather than a long term one. Don't get me wrong, on WW I lost what I wanted to lose, and pretty quickly, but I always felt like I was dieting, and I hate that.

Over the past several years (since seeing my own self in a picture at a wedding that I didn't like) I have been changing and tailoring and catering my eating habits in a way that I no longer feel like I am dieting, but instead really enjoy what I eat which just happen to be much healthier options.

I know that with PCOS I had read some things in the past about the ways PCOS keeps you from processing carbs correctly. If you would like, I would happily let you know of some of my favorite recipes that I have come across through the years (since you like to cook) that don't have so many carbs but certainly don't taste like diet food either. For instance, my body metabolizes sweets, breads, and crackers that I bake using coconut flour (delish - super buttery tasting) much better than it does a processed cracker or one made with white flour.

If you would like me to, email me and I will happily share what I have learned. (doinggoodinhername(at)gmail(dot)com.)

I feel the need to cut you some slack here though - not make excuses, just cut some slack. After Peyton was born I lost all the baby weight and then some within the first month of her life. After she died, I didn't eat, hardly at all and when I did it wasn't much or bad or indulgent, and I packed a lot of weight on. Then came infertilty and more weight. There IS something to be said for cortisol being released when we are depressed and it's effect on your body and your metabolism.

It took me well over a year to get my metabolism back after Peyton's death, and even at the start of my pregnancy I had a good five pounds more to be where I was when I got married (and felt great).

You, my sweet friend, have suffered SO MUCH loss, and though I understand that you don't see that as an excuse, I see it at least as a contributing factor.

So now you just do like I did and say okay, where do I go from here then? How do I get myself into a body I feel comfortable in in a manner I can live with. Asking that question is the first step.

B said...

I just read both posts together. Your words are really powerful Michelle. I am so grateful that you were able to find some release for your self-hating. You so don't deserve it and it made me so sad to think of you carrying that.

You're a great person and a great mum. You have given so much support to many others on the internet. You have walked a long tough road with dignity and strength. Your gorgeous and you ran a triathlon - which by the way took my breath away. You're great. What can I say?

And by the way, I know I don't catch up that often but it is truly a delight to see your kids growing and seeing their little personalities coming through in the photos. Bobby and Maya will always have a special place in my heart.

love B

one-hit_wonder said...

oh man, i hear ya. i used to be a size 6 (prob a size 4 or 5 in US sizes) and first bcp made me gain 15 lbs i've never been able to lose (thanks, pcos) and now i'm a schlump who's gone up 3 dress sizes. i just really realized it yesterday, too, when i was walking past a reflection of myself: realized how 'off' i look. i've gotta do something about it, if nothing else than to be a good role model for my daughter. i'm on this journey with you!

Terri Jones said...

You're a beautiful and amazing woman. You've gone through so much. I've had some struggle w/ food all my life and a mom who was never happy w/ her weight. I was an overweight child, a teen w/ an eating disorder and in my early twenties began to get up on the heavy side after I married. It was the gestational diabetes that struck me and woke me up to what I might be in for later health wise, if I didnt find the control. I lost 40 pounds off my pre-preg weight after WC through sheer diet and exercise. I've been able to keep it down, but not easily. And I dont have the same emotional issues and pcos compounding the issue either. If you need to talk or want any advice, you know how to find me. Love ya

Mandy said...

I know what you're going through! I'm a big woman too. I shop only at the "real woman" stores. I eat too much and exercise not enough.

Well I did anyway. Almost a month ago I made a small change... I joined Curves. Small step... 1/2 hour 3x's a week.

In a couple of weeks I have an appointment with the dietitian at the hospital. That will be another small change.

I think when you change small things it's easier. I switched from regular to diet pop, switched from regular chips to baked. Because I have high bp now, I stoped buying microwave popcorn and make my own on the stove with no salt!

I know you can do it! Look at how hard you worked to bring those children into this world. Being fit (and that's not to say skinny... just healthy) is much easier! I know you can do it!