Tag Archives: skin removal

The Goalposts

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It’s cold this morning, proper cold, the kind of cold that gets you by surprise after months of warm. Cold never used to bother me too much. I was well insulated. I recently went to Melbourne to visit my besty and her family, and we’ve known each other for around ten years, and for the first time ever I told her I needed an extra blanket because I was cold. She was thrilled because for the entire time we have been friends I’ve laughed at her for being cold. The tables have turned.

In the interests of honesty, I have to tell you that the visit to the plastic surgeon a couple of months ago sent me into a huge tailspin. While it was extraordinarily positive, it set off a complete nosedive in my mood. Let me explain.

The surgeon is a beautiful man. He was stunned at what I’ve achieved through hard work – most of his patients who come for skin removal have lost weight via surgery such as gastric banding. He has, he said, a soft spot for people who have lost massive amounts of weight through sheer determination alone. He looked at my body, my excess skin, and said some amazing things. That I more than qualify for medically necessary skin removal. That there’s around 7kg of excess skin in my belly alone. That really, I could just maintain my weight and after the skin was gone, I’d be at a healthy goal weight for my frame. After being substantially overweight for all of my life, this was incredible.

I was quickly disappointed though, given the (well warranted) cost of the surgery. Even with private health, still ridiculously out of reach.

What my brain took out of that was this:

Without surgery, I will never be at my goal.

And once again, I felt like a failure.

Just like that, my brain took over and everything got hard. I filled up with doubts about being a PT. Who wants a PT that looks like me? Unless you know the back story, and unless you realise that my bulk is largely made up of excess skin, I just look… unfit. Everything became difficult. I struggled to see the point of going to the gym, particularly when I was surrounded by teeny tiny PTs. My studies got harder, because it was a reminder that my body isn’t normal for a PT. Everything, everything spiralled.

I went back to the plastic surgeon to ask him more questions and to work out what to do to short circuit this funk before it got completely out of control. I was cutting it close, to be honest.

We talked about goals. We talked about long term plans. We talked about all sorts of things.

That was a week ago.

And today, I’ve woken up with a new approach. It’s been bubbling away and developing for the last seven days.

This photo is from a fun run we did on the weekend. I look at it and the noisy part of my brain focuses on the way the skin hanging off my belly makes me look so big in that area. But now I see my quads. I see the lines in my neck that I never used to have. I see the way my shoulders are back, the pride in my stance. Fuck yeah. I can do this.

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I’ve shifted the goalposts.

Losing weight and getting fit and healthy was never, ever about being aesthetically pleasing. It was never about forcing my body to be something it just isn’t built to be. I knew all along that my build and frame wouldn’t let me be a waif, which is fortunate because that’s not what I want.

I want to be strong.

That first step into the gym, almost two years ago now: it wasn’t about one day looking perfect.

It was about saving my life.

And just like that, skin or the surplus of it, is not such a problem.

Because I’m saving my life. And I can live with the apron. I can live with the saggy, empty boobs. I can live with arm skin. I can live with floppy thighs. And every day that I get to live with these things is a good day because it means I am achieving what I set out to do.

I’ve saved my life.

I don’t look like what you’d expect a traditional PT to look like. But on the other hand, I don’t actually want to look like that.

I want to be strong.

I might not have a body that you would aspire to. But determination? Stubbornness? Drive? I have those, and my god you’re going to need them if your goal is anything like mine.

Because when you’re fighting to save your life, when you’re battling the very shell you’re wrapped in, you need every internal resource you can summon. Because the battle is inside.

Which is a good reason to not worry about how the outside looks.

These are the things that matter when you shift your goal posts.

This is what matters when you realise that you’re saving your life.

Unspirational

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I hear all the time that what I have done with my weight loss and fitness is inspiring. I’ve watched friends and family make changes because of what they’ve seen me do. And it’s brilliant, and I am so proud of every single step they take towards achieving their own personal goals. And it’s humbling to have played a small part towards spurring them on. I’m so excited for them, cautiously excited not because I don’t believe in them but because I know the hard yards they’re about to undertake. I know the ache in the thighs, the pain in the feet, the confrontation of exercise, the way food that fuels you better at first doesn’t taste as good as the foods that you love. I know the power of chocolate on sale and the lure of daytime television. These are hard choices. Your head game has to be strong to do this, and there they are, doing it, and I couldn’t be prouder. To T, P, K and several others who have messaged me to say thanks for motivating them to get on this path: you girls are true heroes, and I believe in each and every one of you wholeheartedly.

The title of this post might have you thinking my own wheels have fallen off regarding this stuff. They have not. I spent Sunday boxing for 8 hours. I’ve just signed up to walk ten kilometres a day for ten days in April. Every day choices, friends. Just like last night we chose to have pizza for dinner.

This isn’t about good food versus bad food. This isn’t about changing directions.

This is about when the inspirer feels totally and utterly unspirational.

I hit struggle street a couple of weeks ago. Time management has gotten the better of me. I’m in the last week of my Certificate 3 in fitness, assessments have been raining down on me and I think it’s time to build an ark and take two of everything that has ever given me hope and sail away while the tide comes crashing down. Except the dogs, I’ll take three of those. I think I’ve caught up with most of my study load now, but the under-riding panic is still there.

I think this was sparked by probably the most exciting thing that has happened on this journey.

I saw a plastic surgeon, regarding the excess skin I have. Now, in Australia, there are several hoops to jump through to have the removal of this skin deemed medically necessary. If you successfully get through those hoops, you then are given an item number for the surgery. This item number means that part of the surgery is covered by Medicare, reducing the cost of the surgery significantly. Then you have the option of doing it privately, with the surgeon of your choice, or going on an extensive waiting list (at least several years) to have the surgery done publicly.

I cleared every single one of the hoops. The surgeon asked me how I had done it and I told him the truth: through bloody hard work. He clarified that I hadn’t had any form of weight loss surgery. I told him no, I’ve just worked really really hard. He threw down his pen and gave me a high five, and said, “We just don’t see that anymore!”. He was amazed. He then checked out my skin and my body, what would need to be done. I don’t have a frame that is petite and dainty. I’ve worked hard to build muscle mass. I have big hands, big feet. On my tummy alone he’s estimated 6-7kg of skin will come off. And by the time all the excess skin is gone?

I’ll be at the goal weight for my frame.

After being a fat baby, a fat kid, a fat teen, and an adult so overweight that I didn’t even register on the BMI scale when I first started, I had been told for the first time in my entire life that I am now at a point where I just have to maintain my current weight and muscle mass. He said I could try to lose another 5kg or so before surgery if I wanted to, but it’s not necessary.

Stunned. Overwhelmed.

I sat waiting to see his secretary to talk costs, and I became really teary. I’d done it. I’d bloody done it.

And then I found out the cost and just like that, reality hit. Even with private health cover, the out of pocket cost for just stage one of the surgery would buy an excellent car, or be a substantial start for a deposit on a house.

So there I was.

So close to my goal weight, after almost two years of solid grit and determination. On the cusp of finishing my first fitness qualification, the first step towards working with clients like myself who felt like it just couldn’t be done. Now faced with a financial challenge that looks totally and utterly unattainable. Don’t worry, I’m working on solutions for this.

But I think that’s where the wheels started to wobble.

At the boxing course on Sunday, when I did a roundhouse kick, the skin on my thighs followed through with an audible clap. When I was jab-cross-jabbing, the skin on my arms would wave at the focus mitts almost as an apology, and I’d catch sight of it in the corner of my eye. Lifting my legs for the forward kicks was difficult because of that damn apron of skin. But no, that’s not the point, the point is that in doing that course I can now use boxing with clients, and the point is that I kept up with every single one of the people doing the course, and the point is that this body, my body boxed for 8 hours with minimal breaks. The other stuff is aesthetics.

But when I think about why this stuff has thrown me so much, I begin to wonder if I’m being totally superficial. I wonder if I am every actually going to be happy with my body. I wonder if I am ever going to feel enough: fit enough; strong enough; healthy enough. Because these things aren’t aesthetics. These things are internal.

Something you don’t get told about losing a huge amount of weight is that it takes a long time for your head to catch up. That you will have demons to conquer – not food vices, but thought patterns.

There are non-scale victories that the average person wouldn’t even consider.

The moment a beach towel, and then a bath towel wraps around you for the first time. The moment you no longer have to have the car seat back as far as it can go in order to drive. The moment you don’t have to turn side on to get through doors. The moment you can walk between cars in a parking lot. The moment you can stand up and look down and see your feet, or when you can be lying down in bed and see your feet.

I can see my feet.

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I’m not sure what the point of this particularly long post is. I have a hunch it’s about being transparent, being honest with the people who follow this blog. Or maybe it’s just about getting thoughts out of my head. Or maybe it’s about giving myself a chance to catch up on where I am at the moment.

I was messaging someone who has become a treasured mate yesterday, explaining that my head had imploded. And I said this:

“Still going along the forwards path. Just need to make sure my head is where my feet are on that path”.

What I have done has changed my life.

It’s time to let it start changing my view of myself, too.