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hello i am fat

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downward spiral

The weight is falling off so quickly, now – two pounds, three pounds, five pounds a week, gone (and I want to say gone forever, but there are no guarantees, even now). This is one of the reasons I chose this surgery, one of the secret reasons I am not supposed to talk about. Weight loss surgery is a last-resort, health-focused, flashing red lights and sirens choice to make, and losing the weight so quickly, that’s a side benefit, a bonus that is all about getting you out of the danger zone of diabetes and heart attacks and apnea that chokes you while you sleep, kind of like when my cat, for whom I am considering weight loss surgery, sits on my chest.

But I am not going to lie – on all the weight loss surgery blogs I found, I read all their information carefully and I considered the pros and the cons, and then I looked at those pictures people posted, their monthly weigh-ins and their photo updates, and I could not stop myself from thinking about how, if you put those pictures together, if you flipped through them fast, letting the months fly past under your thumb, you would see a miracle, an enviable, unbearably wonderful miracle. Being fat, and then, suddenly, not being so fat any more, shrinking and shrinking and shrinking down to nothing, down to something so utterly unlike where you started, all spectacularly Alice in Wonderland.

A goddamn miracle! Sign me up. Oh yes, health benefits, those are nice too. Goodbye, cake! Hello, GAP jeans! Wait, don’t take the cake away so quickly. We need to embrace one last rich and fudgelicious time.

It was the part I thought I looked forward to the most, my blink-of-an-eye transition from morbidly obese to girl at whom you won’t look at twice, and it has been one of the biggest shocks of this whole experience, the thing that’s left me vulnerable and scared, even more than my realization that I no longer wanted chocolate cake and who was I, and what the fuck had they done with me?

I am losing weight so quickly, that it is hard to get my bearings. I do not understand my body anymore – it changes its shape under my hands every day, in ways I can’t predict or plan for, and it has me wondering what I am doing to my body, exactly. It has me standing in front of the mirror and looking for signs of change, but more often, for signs that the body I knew is still there, and I am still me.

My body is shrinking, and soon I will be in territory I’ve never been in – I’ve lost weight before, gotten down to the two-teens, but after that, what happens? What will I look like, and how will I feel, and how is my body going to change? I have spent my entire life plump, chubby, overweight, fat, obese – who I am has been shaped by who I have been, and if you catch me off-guard, and ask me point blank, I will tell you: I like the person I am, the reader, the writer, the bad-joke-teller, the oversensitive person I am and would not be if I had not grown up looking the way I did and feeling the way I did. And now I am undoing all that, film spinning in reverse and I am becoming lighter, less substantial and solid, turning into something I am afraid I will not recognize.

  1. Anonymous Freya | 11:17 PM |  

    I've been reading your site for a while now and I love your writing.
    Please don't worry, you might not recognise yourself, but you will still be you! You'll just be thin and healthy but still the same person, losing weight will not change what makes you you. You might want to talk to your doc about how you're feeling, because from what I've read it's actually quite common to feel this way.
    I can understand why it can be scary, I started at 220 and am down to 196 (in 8 weeks) but I look in the mirror and the more I change, the more excited I get. I can't wait for the new me :)

  2. Blogger BethK | 4:44 AM |  

    You will continue to be all of those things and more. You will be compassionate of other people's struggles to change themselves because you have been there in a way that a merely average person could never imagine. You will always know that you have what it takes to make an extremely difficult decision and then follow through with it. You will be you, only now with tons more energy and mobility. You will get to know this new you, and you will have to walk other people through the process of getting to know the new you. I think once you get to know this girl you'll like her a lot because there's already a lot to like.

  3. Blogger disordered girl | 6:31 AM |  

    It's good you are exploring these thoughts now so that you don't still see yourself as the obese person others avoid when that's not who you are anymore! It's not an easy thing to do, reshaping your own identity, but the good news is you are in the drivers seat. It's totally up to you who you want to be now--old, new or some beautiful combination of both.

  4. Blogger Melli | 7:06 AM |  

    Hmmm... pretty soon you'll have to change the name of this blog to "hello i am skinny"... and No, you won't be the same person you have been. You will be better! You will be taking on a whole new chapter in your life. You will be a more active person. You will enjoy doing things JUST because you can! You've already noticed how much easier it is to walk for long distances. You will notice that you can climb. You will be able to ride on rides at the carnival that you couldn't before. You will be able to ENJOY life in sO many new ways. I am a roller coaster fanatic. And when I was able to get ON some of the ones that I had previously been too big for... that was a major event in my life!

    Nope... you're NOT going to be the same person. You can't be. But you're NOT going to "lose" the person you were. All those great qualities about you are STILL going to be there. What you are going to do is GAIN new wisdom, new experiences, new understanding, a new joy and excitement about life! One of my friends teases me allll the time because I'm always CLIMBING things. I've become a real monkey! Why? Because I CAN! I enjoy doing it just because I CAN! That was a side of my personality that many of my friends had NEVER seen! It had been lost to me since I was a teenager! So maybe it's not finding NEW things about yourself -- maybe it's getting back parts of you that have been lost for a very long time!

    You're going to be fine though. I have complete faith that this is going to be the BEST thing that you have EVER done for yourself!!!

  5. Anonymous KP | 9:59 AM |  

    Have no fear. You will continue to be you, and you will be stronger and healthier, both physicall and mentally. I had WLS in August of 2004, and have never looked back. I'm still about 20 pounds away from my goal, and every day is still a struggle with food and with my own head. But with every step, I find myself liking my body more, and all of the wonderful things it does. I love how strong I feel, how I can jog on a treadmill, spar with someone for 30 min, or box for 60 min. Find joy and strength and the new you, knowing that the fundamental you is still there. Every day is a discovery!

  6. Anonymous Anonymous | 11:26 AM |  

    You know, I think its extremely difficult to feel yourself with significant weight loss even when it happens over time so I can only imagine what its like at warp speed. You are such an amazing woman, however, and will be every bit as amazing smaller. Still, its a real issue. I'm struggling with it too right now and it can be hard.

  7. Blogger JessiferSeabs | 2:09 PM |  

    I feel this way every single day, and that's WITHOUT weight loss surgery and WITHOUT a rapid weight loss. It's taken me 3+ years to lose 65 lbs, and I'm still terrified and confused.

  8. Blogger Shauna | 9:54 AM |  

    such a bittersweet, wonderful post. it's taken me six years to lose my blubber and i am still utterly confused about my identity so i can't imagine what a rollercoaster it must be to go through it in a shorter period of time. but thanks so much for writing about it, always look forward to your posts!!!h

  9. Blogger PastaQueen | 12:37 PM |  

    Just remember that weight loss is something that you are making happen, not something that is happening to you. No matter what you look like, you get to decide what kind of person you are. Just because you are less substantial in mass does not mean you are less substantial of a person.

  10. Blogger terri | 3:45 PM |  

    Your post is so touching and so honest and very well-written I might add!! I hear and can perfectly well imagine 100% the things you speak of - your body changing so dramatically in the direction of your previous dreams, but becoming unrecognizable to yourself. You love yourself as the person you have always been - you feel true to that person, identified with that person, attached to her. Even if she was heavy and didn't get attention - she was who you are and who you were and screw everyone who didn't love you the way they should because you were marvellous and beautiful and thin on the inside!! Damn it! ANd now, you are cheating on that stoic, brave, lovely girl by becoming someone different. The old you wasn't good enough for some, but she really was good enough - in fact, she was wonderful and and it is hard to let her go because she is you. I can't imagine how traumatic that must be - like losing yourself really. That's what scares me about weight loss - even when I think about 10 lbs. For me, I don't want to admit that that 10lb skinnier woman is better than me, wonderful as I am. If I starve and struggle, I admit thinner is better than who I am. And it doesn't seem right and it isn't. I guess we need to change how we think which I guess is the clincher, the tricky bit. You have a right to be slimmer and you will be the same you. You have the right to be at an ideal weight. You've done the right thing for the "future you"! So, even if it seems hard, I guess just remember that you are giving the future Anne a chance at being well and healthy (physically and emotionally) and thriving and opening doors she wouldn't have opened. So when you start to feel lost and "who am I now" and all that jazz, just remember, you are still YOU (the wonderful inside essence and wit and charming brain bits) and you are allowing yourself to be better - not by being skinny (which isn't "better") but by being free of the pain and burden of excess weight in so many aspects of life!!

  11. Anonymous littlem | 8:19 PM |  

    1) Once you conquer the struggle of dealing with yourself, if you have any clues as to how to deal with OTHERS -- how to not bop people in the mouth who treat you better because you're thinner -- PLEASE pass them along. I have yet to figure it out.

    2) A practical point. DON'T sit down suddenly on hard surfaces (e.g., thinly upholstered chairs). It will hurt your butt-bones.

  12. Anonymous Anonymous | 3:39 PM |  

    Geez, woman. You can write. I am a total lurker who will likely never comment again, but I have to say: I am really enjoying your blog.

  13. Blogger suburban wonder | 5:26 PM |  

    Um, yeah. This is where I am now: almost 9 months out of surgery and searching for myself; freaking out in the GAP dressing room because I fit a pair if size 8 jeans; near hyperventilating at the thought of being able to walk into the Lucky Brand Jeans store and wear something there (size 10 there, though). Yeah. Who am I? Why am I so defined by my size?

    I think we'll both get through this. I know I won't without help, though, and I made an appointment to talk through my crazy with a professional crazy-talker. I recommend this.

  14. Anonymous Anonymous | 9:42 AM |  

    I wish I could understand how you are feeling. I can't imagine feeling anything negative about the actual weight loss, except a feeling of "what if i gain it back" or "shit, i still need to pay bills, figure out my life --all my probs are still here."

    But i can't imagine actually losing weight to be problematic. It sounds like a dream come true.

  15. Anonymous brenda | 3:24 PM |  

    hello, i was fat, too.

    five years ago, i lost 220 lbs. in 2 yrs. via the eat less/move more plan, and i have to tell you that with weight loss like this, everything changes.

    you'll freak out when people get too close because they're no longer under the "fat is catching" rule that keeps people from touching you. for a long time, you'll avoid cramped spaces because you're still afraid you'll get stuck. you'll feel like a fraud for shopping in all those stores where the help once turned their noses up at your formerly fat self.

    the people around you will change. your fat friends will feel alienated and some of them won't be able to get over it. your thin friends will suddenly feel threatened by you as you become their competition. you will lose friends. your possibly new friends may be the people who didn't want to know you before but who will suddenly be inviting you to parties. men who didn't so much as glance at you before will be holding open doors and offering to buy you dinner.

    all your perceptions and all your relationships will change. they have to change if you're going to move out of your comfort zone, keep the weight off and the demons at bay. get rid of the fantasy life you suppose the thin you would always have and learn to live the life you really have.

  16. Anonymous littlem | 9:30 PM |  

    "the people around you will change. your fat friends will feel alienated and some of them won't be able to get over it. your thin friends will suddenly feel threatened by you as you become their competition. you will lose friends. your possibly new friends may be the people who didn't want to know you before but who will suddenly be inviting you to parties. men who didn't so much as glance at you before will be holding open doors and offering to buy you dinner."

    Brenda? Anne? I will ask again. How do you all deal with this???

    Anybody? Bueller??

  17. Anonymous brenda | 12:09 AM |  

    how do you get over it? i guess you just do.

    that sounds flippant, i know, but it's true.

    this is going to sound crazy or touchy-feely beyond belief (and i almost want to add the disclaimer that i'm not crazy and, damn it, i am far from touchy feely), but as i lost weight, i uncovered all these different versions of me--and each old me had something to let go of. my body had all these memories buried in the fat, all these things i had eaten instead of dealt with, and each me had to deal with the memory or issue and let go of as it passed. grieving, for me, was necessary and right. i grieved and let all those things and all those versions of myself go.

    other people? i also had to let them go. the friend who, sour-faced, guessed at my weight? gone. her boyfriend, who waited until she was out of the room to ask thin-me on a date? gone. even my husband who didn't want to give up the ice cream so that i wouldn't battle the demon of temptation every time i opened the freezer? gone.

    i actually ended up leaving the country for a time, taking a job where no one knew that there was a fat chick zipped into the size 8 body. i still don't tell anyone about losing the weight.

    i'm still, five years later, dealing with it, everyday. but i'd rather deal with being out of my comfort zone than be fat, and i think that realization has prevented me from regaining the weight.

    good luck to you.

  18. Blogger Janice | 2:46 PM |  

    I am hoping for a new post soon . . . .are you well?

  19. Anonymous Cat | 9:51 AM |  

    To all the lovely people who say we are the same after we lose the weight...I appreciate it, but I don't know. I've changed a lot of things about myself in the past five years (weight, you might say, has been only a symptom of the larger change), and, I kid you not, this really gives me trouble. Even though the changes were deliberate, desirable, and hard, and even though I like the results, I have nights when I wake up literally not knowing who I am. Can't remember my name, where I am, why I'm there, who this guy next to me is (my partner of seventeen years, which you'd think would stick at some point.) And I think it's the changes, the move to what might loosely be called adulthood (late in coming, alas.) It's very hard. I think it'll get easier, but I don't know how much easier, or when. I think it's probably a sacrifice worth making, but I'm not positive. I hope it is, though. I do think that unless we want to die of our various destructive habits, they have to go; but I don't know if we ever stop missing them, and the identity they helped to form.

    Hang in--it sounds like you're doing bravely.

    Cat

  20. Blogger *S* | 8:02 AM |  

    Great post! I struggle quietly with that question a lot - how will I react to how others treat me? I was at a board meeting recently in NY where I hadn't seen people since pre-surgery, about 5 mos ago ( I am one of 3 women on the board). All of these old dudes keep staring at me like they either need a new prescription or they can't quite place me. It was disconcerting at first, but then I realized that it was my weightloss. Funny, but I just couldn't get my head around it. Finally, the other woman present said, "You look great! What is it?" and waited expectantly. I happen to like her, and she has a sense of humor, so I looked her straight in the eyes and said, "You know, it's amazing what a new moisturizer will do for you." We both had a good laugh, but one of the long-eared AK's was, I declare, taking notes!

  21. Blogger Dagny | 9:14 PM |  

    I am deeply struck by your post. The name of my blog speaks for itself. I have become my own self-fulfilling prophecy. I've changed so much I don't even say my former name and wince when I hear it.

    All I can say to you is, make the journey your own. Many paths are going to start appearing before you. Only you can choose which you can walk in joy the rest of your life.
    Dagny

  22. Blogger Tel | 1:39 PM |  

    Girl, embrace your ever-evolving and changing body. Celebrate the fact that you have a low chance of ever being that heavy again! I know this sounds crunchy, but meditate over your body, touch your belly, notice how it's getting smaller every day. Look in the mirror and notice how your face now has shape! That your neck is not burried in fat folds! Walk with your head high and stomp around in your sexiest heels! You're on your way to a new body, but you're still the same you.

    Read Jemima J by Jane Green. It's light, fluffy and is a story of an "ugly duckling". (It's a lot like Bridget Jones)

    Celebrate, honey, because we will all celebrate with you!

  23. Blogger greentshirt | 7:58 PM |  

    Wow. I just found you via a link on Body of Work. I'm blown away by your writing and your insight and your deep thoughts. My surgery is tomorrow (8/6/07) and I'm freaking out just a little bit. Finding you is a gift. Thank you.

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