Fifteen months isn’t really a very long time, if you think about it. Female camels can grow and birth a new camel in fifteen months. Joan Baez has a pretty good song called Fifteen Months. And it’s also how long it took me to reach my goal weight after gastric bypass surgery…
It’s hard to put into words how I’m feeling today. I don’t generally weigh myself every week, even though that’s what the doctors recommend in order to prevent re-gain. I have never wanted to get too obsessed with the number on the scale. I’m not even sure why I thought to weigh myself today, to be honest. Suffice to say that the number on the scale surprised me!
On one hand I’m proud of myself. I know that a lot of people think of weight loss surgery as “the easy way out”, but it truly isn’t. It’s hard emotional and physical work. The people who are in my life on a daily basis, and the people who really love me, know how hard I’ve worked and I know that they’re happy for me. That makes me feel great.
On the other hand, I was told from childhood that being proud of yourself is vain. So the past fifteen months has been tough for me in a way I never expected. Because I’m afraid of being vain, it’s always hard for me to accept compliments. And people give you compliments on changes to your physical appearance more than anything else. Obviously. Yet I really do feel grateful, because it’s very kind of people to notice you at all, much less take the trouble to compliment you.
I feel like a completely different person, but not in the essential inside part of me. That’s the same. The difference is in things like not being ashamed to have my photo taken (or heaven forbid, posted on Facebook). It’s in being willing to try things that I would’ve been scared to try before. It’s in fitting in an airplane seat and not crowding my neighbor and making them angry. It’s in men actually making eye contact as I pass, instead of quickly looking away. It’s in the enjoyment of being simply average.
A few months ago I met a really funny, kind, thoughtful guy. I didn’t ask if I could talk about him here, so I won’t say too much, though I don’t think he’d care. Anyway, since he lives in Virginia, we’re trading visits and trying to meet up as we can. Earlier this month I went to visit him for a long weekend. We got to do a lot of cool stuff, but one thing in particular was fantastic.
There’s a big waterfall there called Crabtree Falls. It’s the largest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi, according to their website. Steven likes to hike, and it looked like a beautiful place to go, so we decided we’d go there while I was visiting.
So…I’m a Florida resident. Florida is a mostly a flat, purely sea level state. I think my neighborhood on the bluffs off Scenic Highway is hilly. But it turns out that I wasn’t at all prepared for the altitude OR the incline, even though it’s only 1.7 miles and I’d been working out a good bit. I guess that having asthma didn’t really help either, though…
The climb was tough for me. I had to stop several times because I felt like I was hyperventilating. But my coach was pretty awesome. He gave me a lot of helpful tips and encouraged me and looked out for me the whole way. Once he even told me it was no big deal; we could turn around and go back down. But I was completely determined to get to the top at that point. There was no way I was going to NOT get to the top of that trail.
When we got to the top I think Steven was surprised that I was so excited and that it was such a big deal to me (he’d barely broken a sweat!). I even made him take a picture of the mile marker so that I could prove I made it all the way. It was an accomplishment.
Steven didn’t know the old me. Unfortunately I still have some “old me” issues with fear and insecurity that he’s been understanding about, but it’s not surprising that he didn’t even think about the fact that a year prior I could NEVER have made it even halfway up that trail. I’ve lost almost half of my body weight. The fact that I was able to do it, even though it was hard (and maybe because it WAS so hard), was huge to me.
A lot has happened in fifteen months. I feel like my world got bigger. I’m stronger and healthier, both emotionally and physically. Reaching my goal weight today has made me look back over this experience and appreciate how far I’ve come. And I’m going to try to feel okay about being proud of it.