Thursday, April 30, 2015

Skinny Person or a Fat Person?

A couple of weeks ago at a family event, my sister asked me the following question:

"So, do you feel like you have been a skinny person living in a fat persons body… 
or are you now a fat person in a skinny persons body?"

Well, first of all… I don't consider my body skinny. At 215 pounds, I'm still considered obese and believe you me, I can point out more than one place my remaining 35 pounds can come off of! 

But that was not the point of her question. Nor the point of this post. And I got what she was asking. The truth is… I'm not sure how to answer that question. The psych major in me resists answering such a question… because who's to say what the difference is between a skinny person and a fat person other than sheer physical weight?

But after spending reading a lot of the updates from my MFP friends and being fairly active in the community aspect of MFP… I am realizing that I just don't think the way other overweight people do. I never have.  It is due to that reason alone that I answered her with "Well, I'm not sure, since I've never been a skinny person… but I would say I've been a skinny person living in a fat person's body."She, of course, asked me why. And I said it was because there is so much I don't relate to with others who are overweight. 

The concept of feeling worthless or that I'm not good enough or hating myself because I'm overweight? 
No. Never felt that way. Oh, I've felt worthless. And I've felt like I'm not good enough. And I've hated myself. But it never had to do with my weight. My weight was just another aspect of my physical appearance… like the fact that I am tall or that I have blue eyes. Nobody hates themselves because of the color of their eyes. They may or may not like that aspect of their appearance… but it's not a cause for self-hatred or feelings of worthlessness.

The idea that people treated me differently because I was fat?
No. If people treated me differently it was all on them. Or it was because I was different that this other person (after all… everybody is).

Being self-conscious at the gym because I was the fat girl? 
No. The gym was the one place I never felt self-conscious, because at the gym everybody is doing the same thing. Yeah, I may have been bigger than everyone there… but it was the one place I fit in. Because I was doing the same thing as everyone else. 

Food is my friend… Food is comfort?
No. Food is food. Some of it tastes good. Some of it tastes bad. Some of it is healthy. Some of it is not. I overate. Big time. I know that. But it was never an emotional thing for me. I would eat when I was happy. I would eat when I was depressed. I would eat when I was lonely. I would eat when I was in large groups. I would eat when I was bored. I would eat when I had plenty to do to occupy myself and my mind. I would eat when I was hungry. I would eat when I was full. I ate because I liked food. Yes, I had my own preferences as to which food I liked (and as you can probably guess, the foods I liked were always the highly caloric ones with little nutritional value. But it was still just food. I was not someone who "ate my feelings." Or who dealt with pain or other unpleasant emotions by eating. Neither was I binge-er. Oh, I could put plenty of calories away just the same as any binger could. But it was not mindless. It was a choice. And it was a choice I made because there was food there that I liked.  I never associated emotions to food. 

My weight holds me back?
No. I knew I was fat and out of shape. And with obvious exceptions like being limited where I could shop or feeling squished in certain places… I've felt like I could do anything a skinny person could. I mean… I couldn't run. But I never wanted to. It wasn't my weight holding me back…. it was simply that I didn't want to. Yes, I had to get seatbelt extenders on an airplane. But I could still fly. And I did. I didn't let that stop me. I have insecurities and doubts about myself that hold me back. That is true. But my weight was never one of them. If guys didn't find my attractive because I was fat… that was on them. That was them being shallow. That wasn't my weight holding me back. And even now… I'm not convinced that was even the issue. Because it's not like guys are beating down my door now, either! 

I've always felt like these were misconceptions that skinny people had about fat people. Assuming that because we were fat we felt that way. And it was misconceptions like this that bothered me SOO dang much! When I decided to lose weight… the major reason was because I encountered so many dumb@ss ideas about fat people and losing weight that I decided it was time to prove people wrong. People usually assume I'm talking about ideas surrounding diet. Well, yes, that is one of them. But it was these things that I saw as misconceptions that bothered me the most.

But apparently, I'm the one with the misconceptions? Because MFP forums are filled with overweight people all saying that they feel this way! 

So, maybe I'm the different one?
Maybe I've always been a skinny person trapped inside the wrong body. 
And maybe now… I'm finally just setting her free?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hello to All My New MFPals!

Well, it has officially been one year since I decided to lose weight.
I have lost 163.2 pounds. Which puts my current weight at 217.8 pounds.
It is 42.8% of my starting weight. 
For those who have seen my pictures and were wondering… I am 5'10" and 36 years old. 
I have been overweight my entire life. My parents and siblings were/are all overweight as well, by varying amounts. One year ago, I was the heaviest of the 5 of us and had been for several years. My family estimates that I was 4 years old or younger the last time I was a healthy weight for my height and age (I'm betting that I was 14 or so the last time I weighed 217 pounds!). Currently… taking into account my height (my only brother is the only one taller than me)… I am probably the second smallest. I have a couple of sisters that weigh a few pounds (less than 15) less than me, but they are also a few inches shorter than me.

Anyway. On April 20, 2014, I decided to join a gym. I also went grocery shopping for some healthier food. This was the day I count as the beginning of my weight loss. I also took a selfie in the mirror of my bedroom as a "before" shot. On Monday, April 20, 2015… I took another photo. Another selfie in the mirror of my bedroom. I then compiled them into a collage and posted it as my profile pic on MFP. Here is that picture.

For interests sake… I also shared the following facts: In the picture on the left, I am wearing a size 5x shirt and 4x pants. They were clothes I had to buy online because no stores carried sizes that would fit me…. even the plus sized stores didn't carry sizes that large. The the picture on the right, I am wearing a size large shirt and size 14 pants. They were clothes I bought at the mall in "normal sized people" (meaning not plus sized) stores. 

I also finally bit the bullet and shared that photo on Facebook. I have resisted sharing anything about my weight loss on FB. I have made allusions to the fact that I am running now. And I have occasionally added updated pictures, but I have never said anything about my attempts to lose weight. However… with the updated pics it became obvious long around Christmas time that I had lost a decent amount of weight. So, it was hardly a secret anymore. So, I shared my one year progress photo on FB. It got 79 "likes" and about 40+ comments. My uncle is currently in a rehab facility recovering from a surgery that they almost refused to do because they were pretty sure he wouldn't survive it. He is doing well, but is very weak and because he's a big man, he didn't want his wife to have to deal with it if he were to fall. So he's staying there until he/they are sure he can take care of himself properly. But he keeps himself occupied with his iPad and spends a lot of time on FB. Apparently he was so impressed with my photo that he shared it with his recreational therapist, his physical therapist, and his nurse. And they all commented (under my uncles name) as well. 

One of my MFP friends said something on her news feed that I am the most inspiring person on MFP and that if anybody wasn't friends with me… they should be. And my MFP account exploded with friend requests! 

With the barrage of questions from my FB friends both in the comments as well as through private messaging, and the fact that I have a whole bunch of new MFPals, I thought it would be a good time to re-introduce myself and address some of those questions. I even opened up it up on MFP for my friends to ask me anything and I would answer it on my blog. 

But first… let me give you a general background of why I made this decision in the first place.

I grew up believing in the concept of CICO (calories in< calories out) when it came to losing weight. I absolutely believed it. The ideas of demonizing certain foods or macros never made the slightest bit of sense to me when it came to weight loss. I also grew up with the mantra of "moderation in all things." I didn't follow it… but I learned it. So in my mind… that's what losing weight was all about. Eating less calories. And moderation with all foods. I got very frustrated with people who would try all these fad diets… including low-carb ones. I tried to tell them they were wrong. But I also knew that they would look at me at think "yeah, right. Like I'm going to take advice from her! What the hell does she know about losing weight?" It didn't really bother me. Because I knew I wasn't trying to lose weight. 

My weight never really bugged me. It was something I've always had to deal with… for as long as I can remember. So, I was never aware of my weight holding me back in anyway. It was just a fact of my life. Kinda like the fact that I had blue eyes. Is it possible that unconsciously I made choices (like choosing sedentary hobbies) because of my weight? I suppose. But it was unconscious. I never felt like my weight was a problem. I never had any health concerns because of my weight. I was aware of the potential, but it had never been a problem for me, so I didn't waste any energy worrying about it. Or trying to change it. 

I was working a graveyard shift and often watched movies or TV shows to keep myself occupied and awake during my shift. I had just finished a TV series and was looking for something new. I knew that a couple of my co-workers loved those weight loss shows like "Biggest Loser" and "Extreme Weight Loss." I had found a website that allowed me to watch old episodes of various TV shows for free. And out of curiosity (because of everything I had heard my co-workers say) I started watching an old season of "Biggest Loser." I liked that it portrayed people with a significant amount of weight to lose. I get impatient with those informercials that parade around people saying "I lost 20 pounds!" I would roll my eyes and silently think "Please! Twenty pounds? You wouldn't SEE that on me. Come talk to me when you've got someone who's actually lost a real amount of weight!" So, I liked that about "Biggest Loser." I also liked that they did it all through diet and exercise. No surgery. No pills. And when they would talk about what kind of diet they suggested it was "whole grains, lean meats and dairy, and lots of fruit and veggies." That made sense to my brain of "moderation in all things." I also liked that when you got to the finale and saw the finalists… they actually looked thin. Instead of just "less overweight" than they were. Yes, there are things I didn't like about the show too. But all those things encouraged me. I liked seeing that it was possible to lose significant amounts of weight with nothing more than diet and exercise and it suggested a reasonable diet of moderation and not crazy fads. I started wondering if I could do it. I knew I wasn't going to lose my weight as fast as they did on that show. I understood that they were basically spending their entire day exercising. And that they were going extremely hard. I understood that basically losing weight was not just their job… it was their life and their hobbies while on the show. They didn't even have family contact/activities to distract them. I understood all that. And because I understood all that, I also would not expect that kind of weight loss for myself (at least not in that short of a time period). But the principle could still work. That was encouraging to me.

Then I started seeing articles pop up about weight loss (probably targeted advertising. I had been watching a weight loss show… it might be something I was interested in). I would read them. And I would read the comments. And I would get so frustrated with all the ideas out there about what it took to lose weight. How could people be so stupid!? And of course I had co-workers who were constantly on a diet. And they were always on some sort of fad diet (low-carb, HCG, etc). They could never stick with it for very long. And even if they did lose some weight… it never stayed off. I would try to tell them… but again… what did I know? Feeling encouraged by "Biggest Loser" and frustrated by my co-workers and the morons on the internet… I finally decided maybe I ought to put my money where my mouth is (so to speak) and prove them all wrong by sheer example. 

What finally kicked me into gear? I think I woke up one day and just said "Why not? Just do it."

So, with that introduction, here we go with the questions:

When you started, did you stay on track most of the time? Were you to the point where you had had enough and you were going to conquer this, no matter what? I feel like I am ready to conquer this, but then I let food take over again and lost it over and over. Any suggestions that go you through that? I am also a big sweet eater, did you have that problem and if so, how did you overcome that?
I never set firm limits or boundaries for myself. And I never made any foods off-limits. So to say if I  "stayed on track"… I don't know how to answer that.

With 200 pounds to lose… I knew that I was going to have to make a lifestyle change if I wanted to lose it in the first place. This was not something that some 30 day diet was  going take care of. Forget about keeping it off… I was going to have make a lifestyle change if I wanted to lose it in the first place! So, I started slowly. I knew if I threw myself into it whole hog… that I was going to get overwhelmed and burned out. There was just so much to do. I had the most sedentary lifestyle you can imagine. Zero physical activity whatsoever. I ate crappy, high-calorie, highly processed food and lots of it. I would drink 32 ounces (minimum!) of Dr. Pepper every night at work. And I snacked on chips and candy all night long. And I ate because I liked food. It never had anything to do with hunger. It never even had anything to do with emotions or comfort or stress. I just ate because food was there and I liked it.

So to start with… I mostly focused on making exercise a habit. I knew that would be the easiest thing for me to change. I tried to "watch" what I ate so that I didn't sabotage everything I had just done at the gym… but I did not count calories. And like I said… nothing was off limits. So with only one thing to focus on… yes, I stayed on track. Once I felt comfortable with having made exercise a part of my life… then I turned to food. I picked the next easiest thing for me to change. I think I just started trying to make healthier choices. Eat more fruit and veggies instead of candy when I was snacking at work. Again, I did not count calories or really even pay attention to portion sizes. And notice that I was simply trying to eat more fruits and veggies… not cut out my candy entirely. So, yes, I stayed on track. Once that became routine for me… then I would go to the next easiest thing for me to change. And I would work on that. One small change at a time. It wasn't until several weeks later that I finally got onto My Fitness Pal and started really tracking my calories. And by then I was already comfortable making healthier choices and watching my portion sizes. It was several months even after that that I bought a food scale and started really tightening up on my portion sizes. With that approach of not setting firm limits/ boundaries and not making any food off-limits and only making one small change at a time… staying on track was actually fairly easy for me. 

Yes, I was a sweets eater. But even more than I liked my candy/cookies, etc… I hated being told what to do! I have huge control issues. I don't like anyone telling me what I can and can't do. So, since this was something I chose in the first place (losing weight)… I would force myself to do it myself. Because eating less sweets (or eating less in general) was far easier for me to take than to accept someone (anyone… including myself) telling me what to do. As I ate less sweets, my cravings for it diminished. I could go days without it and even when I did have some… I found myself being satisfied with much smaller amounts. So, my sheer stubbornness carried me through initially until my body/appetite adapted and I didn't want it as much. 

What were some of your biggest setbacks and how did you eventually overcome them? Do you find yourself struggling to define your style when getting a new wardrobe? What did you expect to like as a person when you lost the weight that didn't happen? Have you struggled with friendships along the way and how did you go about making new friends if your old ones didn't support you?

I anticipated my setbacks before I even started and I made a plan to deal with it. 
"This is taking too long/This is too hard"--- I had undergone a whole different kind of overhaul previously. It took 5 years before I finally got to point where I was felt like I was comfortable with where I was and I could go into "maintenance" (for lack of a better word). It was intense for those 5 years. Weekly appointments. Prayer, sweat, and tears. Unbelievable amounts of pain (not the physical kind). I did the math… if I can lose 1-2 pounds a week, it would take me 2-4 years. I realized I could do that. 2-4 years? Pshh! Childs play! Too hard? Pshh. I've dealt with worse pain than any workout (or hunger pangs) can produce. 
"This is not working"--- Again… I would go back to that previous overhaul. There was a time when I really felt like it wasn't working. That actually I was in worse shape than I was when I first started. I wondered why I was even bothering to try if this is where it was getting me. But I also knew that if this is where I was when I was trying… imagine where I'd be if I wasn't! 
"I just don't care anymore."--- I am not a goal oriented person. Inevitably I would just decide I don't care about this goal anymore. And I would give it up. But I do care about the kind of person I am. So that's what I made this about. Yes, I want to lose weight. Yes, I have a "goal" weight. But this has never been about losing weight. It's been about what kind of person I want to be. That is always something I care about. It's not something I give up on. That kind of thinking also carries me through when the scale doesn't move like I think it should. 

The thing I struggle with with the new wardrobe (as far as style is concerned) is getting used to the idea that I can wear clothes that are a little more form fitting. I've always avoided anything form fitting because I didn't have a form to fit! But now I can get by with it. And I think it probably looks better too. That kind of came the first time I had to buy new clothes. I decided to buy clothes that were a little tighter than I would normally like in hopes that it would last me longer (with 200 pounds to lose… I was going to be going through a LOT of sizes). So I kept doing that. But over time I felt like it looked better to have them a little more form fitting. I am a girlie girl. I love shopping. I love clothes. I like looking nice. So while I have always loved shopping… I can have a heck of a lot more fun now trying on clothes. Sometimes I just try on clothes just for fun. Because now they fit. But in doing that… I discover that I can pull off things that I've never been able to pull off before. My tastes are pretty much the same. But now I can actually wear those things that I like but have never been able to pull off (or never felt like I could) before. It's not a struggle… it's a heck of a lot of fun! 

I'm not sure I understand the next question. I never expected losing weight to change me at all. Except for physically of course. I never expected to develop different hobbies or different tastes. So, there is nothing that I expected to like that I don't. However… there are things I didn't like that I now do. Like running. Like celery and green peppers. 

I must be lucky. Because I have not encountered any friends not supporting me. The very idea is foreign to me. I have amazing friends and an even more amazing family. They have supported me every step of the way. Even when they give me a rough time about "you're no fun anymore," it's said in jest. But I don't expect that support has to look like participation either. I have never expected them to join me in working out or expected them to eat like I do. So that may have helped. 

I'd like to know what drives you when progress is slow. Did you formerly have self-sabotaging behaviors like comfort eating and if so, what are your ideas about dealing with that issue? How would you classify your current relationship with food as opposed to your former relationship? 

As to what drives me… I think I covered that above when I said it was never about losing weight. It's about who I want to be. Yes. I want to lose weight. And because I'm normal… yes, it gets a little frustrating when the scale doesn't move the way I want it to. But because the important thing for me is about the kind of person I want to be… I don't let it stop me. I don't keep going because I want to be a 180 pound woman… I keep going because I want to be the kind of person that takes care of herself instead of mocking those that do because I feel guilty. I want to be the kind of person that eats normally (in terms of amounts and content). I want to be the kind of person that gets regular exercise. I want to be the kind of person who lives life on her feet instead of from the couch (that's huge reason why I want to run).

I was never a comfort eater. Or a stress eater. Or someone who "eats their feelings." Nor was I binge-er. But I like food. And so I ate it. Because it was there. It didn't matter if I was hungry or not. It didn't matter the time of day. It didn't matter the emotions. If there was food there that I liked, I would eat it. So that is something I'm still dealing with. Portioning out my food in proper portion sizes and putting the rest away helps. Keeping healthier/lower calorie food available helps to. So when I do want to just "munch"… I choose apples rather than candy (for instance). I'm also learning to pay attention to how I feel. And I find if I eat too much of certain types of food… I feel lousy. So then it becomes less appealing to me to keep eating. 

I feel like my relationship with food is pretty healthy right now. If I want something I eat it. I don't demonize foods. I don't deprive myself. But I do try to make healthier choices and I am learning what foods my body likes. I never tell myself (or anybody else) that "I can't have that. I'm on a diet." A couple of weekends ago, all the girls (even the little kids) went on a walk together. We ended up at a convenience store and everybody ended up buying some sort of slushy or ice cream. I did not. My 8 year old niece asked me if I couldn't have any because I was on a diet. I told her I could if I wanted to… but I chose not to. It took her a minute to process it… but I loved the look on her face when she got it. "So, you just choose not to?" I hope she remembers that as she grows up. That she can do whatever she wants… but she can also choose not to... even if everybody else does. It can apply to so much more than just food!

I would just love to know your story! What was your weight loss impetus? What worked for you and what didn't? What wisdom can you bestow on those hoping for your level of success? How has this changed your life?

I think I've actually answered most of those already. I knew myself pretty well when I went into this. So, I made a plan that fit my lifestyle. That fit my personality. And that addresses those potential setbacks. So, to say what doesn't work… I don't know! This is really my first attempt at losing weight. And my plan from the very beginning has worked for me. However, I will say this. I'm a creature of habit. I knew this in the beginning. So creating habits and routines is VITAL for me. And finding ways to keep that going even when I travel or during holidays, etc. So that I never get out of it. I may consciously chose to take a cheat day. And that's okay. Because it's a conscious choice. But I try very hard to keep the routine going as much as possible. When I went down to visit my sister over New Years… I had a plan for getting my exercise in while I was down there. Then I woke up the next morning to several inches of snow and sub-zero temperatures. That threw a wrench into my plans for getting a workout in. So I had to make other arrangements. I went out and shoveled for one. For another I asked my niece to put in the Wii dance workout on for me. Then another day I pulled out my sisters step stool and did steps with that. Anything to get my heart rate up for 45 minutes! And then when I went home on New Years Day… I drove past the gym even before I went home to find out what hours (if any) they were open that day. They were open then, so I drove home, changed into my workout clothes and went back to the gym before I even unpacked my car. Because I wanted to make sure I kept myself in the routine. 

As far as wisdom I can bestow… that's one of them. Create some habits and routines. Those will carry you through when motivation fails. And it will. Motivation will fade! Expect it and plan for it. 

The one other thing I want to get across to people is the power you have inside of you! In this world of food addiction and calling obesity a disease…. we have equated our weight problem as akin to an alcohol addiction. And that would be fine… except we have accepted certain theories about addiction recovery as gospel truth when it's really not. For instance… we have accepted the idea that we are powerless. Indeed in AA we teach people that they have to admit they are powerless if they ever hope to recover. SOOOOO DANGEROUS! No! You absolutely have the power to change yourself. I don't care if you are an alcoholic or a drug addict or a porn addict or a food addict. In fact I don't care WHAT you are or what problem you hope to change! You have the power to change! You have the power to choose! Addictions are powerful… yes. Overcoming them is hard… yes. I get it. So much, I get it! But inside of you always remains your ability to choose. There are skills you can learn to make it easier. But it is learnable. And you always have that ability to choose! I believe in God. I do. But I don't believe it's necessary to believe in God, nor turn over your entire will over to Him in order to change your life. If the 12 steps and beliefs of AA work for you… GREAT. Keep at it. But never let anyone tell you that it is the only way! Never let anybody tell you that you are powerless! Your power is greater than you know! Your body will 100% obey what your mind tells it to. It applies to running and exercise in general. It applies to food. It applies to alcohol. It applies to porn/sex. Once you make up your mind… the game is over! Because your body has NO choice but do obey. The key is keeping your mind made up! And there are skills you can learn that will help you with that. 

I apologize about all the exclamation points. But this topic more than anything else is what I get passionate about. And for those who want more information about those skills… private message me. I am more than happy to share them with anyone. But please never underestimate yourself. Believe in yourself. 

You are almost half the size when you started a year ago; have you unconsciously adjusted this this yet? I mean like spaces where you may have once turned sideways to maneuver between things, do you still turn sideways?

Yes and no. There is part of me that is STILL wondering if my body will ever change! But every once in a while I discover things I can do that I didn't used to be able to do. Then I start to wonder about something else… "If I can do this… I wonder if I can do that." The thing I notice the most is the those student desks where the desk and chair are connected as one unit…. those were the bane of my existence in college. I could barely squeeze my body into one of those things. And now I slide in easily. But I discovered the other day that I can actually sit down in them full on then swing my legs under the desk rather than having to slide in sideways. I don't ever remember being able to do that! Sometimes I see small spaces and I purposefully try to walk through them straight on… just to see if I can. So, is it an unconscious adjustment? No. But I do find myself trying things rather than just doing it the same way I always have. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Where To Go From Here?

I just came back from a weekend with my family. I'm starting to get the well-meaning concern from my family about "you might want to stop now… you don't want to lose too much." Right now… they think I look great and they are proud of me and are probably a little relieved that I've done this now before I started having significant health problems because of my weight. But when I tell them, I still want to lose 40 more pounds… they get nervous. I currently weigh 220. One hundred and sixty one pounds ago… when I told them my goal was 180, they thought it was a great goal for my height. That I would look really good at that weight. But now that they are seeing the weight come off… and how much smaller I am… they are wondering where those 40 pounds are going to come from.

Believe me… I can point out numerous places where those 40 pounds can come off of.

But it does make me wonder. I have never been this small. The last time I weighed this I was probably a foot shorter! (Okay, that's an exaggeration. But you get what I'm saying.) I don't have a time I can look back at when I looked my best or felt my best… since today is the time I look my best and feel by best. I can't look back to when I was a healthy weight. Because I was probably 2 years old the last time I was a healthy weight. I have no frame of reference to go by in determining what would be a good weight for me. The only thing I have to go by is my oldest sister and the BMI scale. My oldest sister is the same height I am. Or awful close. And she is the smallest one (size wise and weight wise) out of all my siblings. She currently weighs 195. And according to the BMI scale… 180 is still considered "overweight." Not by much… maybe 5-10 pounds. But I'm okay with that for a few reasons… one: it is best applied to large groups of people, not individuals. Two: it only accounts for total weight… not fat vs. muscle. "The Rock" is considered obese according to BMI standards. Three: I suspect it's going to take me a little bit of time to bump up my calories to maintenance level and figure out what that level is for me. I suspect I will lose a few more pounds in the interim. And four: I'm going to have some significant loose skin to deal with. I'm guessing between 10-20 pounds of loose skin. Accounting for that… that would put me right where I should be for a normal, healthy weight.

My family's opinions falls into two categories. 1) 20 more pounds max. 2) Stop now and just work on "toning up." I'm willing to go for another 20 pounds and reevaluate and see where I'm at. I'm not willing to just stay at 220. At 220, I'm still considered obese. While I understand the limitations of the BMI scale (as noted in the previous paragraph), that's just not acceptable to me. I'm willing to accept still being considered "overweight." I'm not willing to stay obese. It seems to me that stopping now would be akin to giving up. "I've done it long enough. I'll just learn to be okay with this." It would feel like settling for something less. And I don't need to settle. If I can lose 161 pounds in less than a year… I can surely lose 201 pounds eventually.

My sister did give me a name of plastic surgeon who does skin removal. She suggests I go in for a (free) consultation and get a medical opinion on what would be a good weight for me and what he thinks can be done and what the end results would be. She also suggested I talk to one of my teachers from high school who lost a great deal of weight (granted hers was through bariatric surgery) and had her excess skin removed as well (and by the way… she looks great).

Both of those are good suggestions. I can absolutely contact Mrs. Street as she's one of my FB friends. And of all my old teachers… she is the one I have the relationship with that I can talk to her about this stuff. And I do think it's a good idea to seek medical advice. However… I'm thinking I should start with a PCP (primary care physician) and get his opinion on a healthy weight for me. Also, I would want to be closer to that weight before meeting with the surgeon. If the consultation is free… I don't want to waste it by going in too soon… before I'm actually at where I want to be.

However… on a lighter note… it was great being with my family this past weekend. I loved finding out that I was wearing the same size as my oldest sister. She looks better in them than I do though! I got another sister to take a few pictures of me this weekend too. I wanted to see what 161 pounds lost looks like. Turns out, I love the way it looks.

Here are a few of those photos.

And finally… one last picture. A comparison of almost one year.