Tag Archives: weight

Extended

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A couple of weekends ago I had to fly to Brisbane. It was for a 90th birthday, a beautiful gentleman who, when asked what it felt like to be 90, replied with, “Up the shit!”.

The last time I flew was around two years ago. That flight, I was heading to Melbourne. I remember the angst on the lead up to the flight.

I knew without a doubt that I would need a seat belt extension. Some people don’t even know what they are, or even that they exist. You know the seat belt they use in the safety briefing before you take off? Well that can click into both ends of the standard seat belt on a flight, thus extending the length of the belt so that every passenger can be safe. I rang the airline to get the seat measurements. I wanted to be sure that my sizeable bottom would fit. I contemplated booking two seats, so that my overflow wouldn’t affect the person sitting in the same row as me.

Because that’s one of the things I used to worry about, that my too-bigness would infringe upon other people. That taking up too much space would inconvenience the people around me. That I should do whatever I could to make amends for being the size I was.

That I should wear a sign, apologising for myself.

For me, my weight was a shame that I wore on the outside for the world to see. I took on the stares and the comments. I absorbed the giggles from children in the street. I carried every single one of the observations about my size and even though they were pointy and hot and uncomfortable, I carried them close to myself until they became myself and there I was, a walking ball of shame and grief and sadness and disappointment.

For me, my size mattered, 100%. And a lot of my time was spent trying to minimise it. I’d sit hunched and curled into a ball. I’d move with a nimbleness that belied my size when I felt like I was in someone’s way. I’d stand rather than sit, lest I break a chair or block an aisle.

Now, I still stand. But it’s more about not wanting to sit still. And now, when I do sit, I tend to sprawl in a most unladylike manner. Because screw being a lady.

When I booked the flights to Brisbane, that little voice made me wonder. Would I still need a seat belt extension? I’ve tried and tried again to explain how hard it is for your brain to catch up when your body changes. I knew that in losing over 50kg, the chances of me needing that extension were pretty slim. But what if. What if I hadn’t really changed my body shape that much? What if that apron of skin was going to be still too big for the standard seat belt?

Turns out, it wasn’t.

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And it also turns out that the tray coming down is a thing. The tray never used to come down. Not even close.

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No worries.

These are the victories that, for the run of the mill person, seem a little odd. If you don’t even realise that a seat belt extension is a thing, then what’s to celebrate if a normal aeroplane seat belt fits you?

Here’s what’s to celebrate:

I didn’t have to walk sideways up the aisle. I didn’t have to whisper that I needed an extension when I boarded, and hold it close to my body as I took my seat so that nobody would notice. I didn’t have to tuck it down the side of my seat when I got off the plane, trying to hide the shame I felt. I didn’t have to pre-book a specific seat at the window, so I could at least spread in one direction in an attempt to minimise the impact I had on the person sitting next to me.

You might think I am being too hard on myself. You might think that most people wouldn’t care.

If that’s the case then thank you, you’re a human with a beautiful heart.

But the reality is that a lot of people are not like that, particularly with strangers.

I’ve discovered that as a whole, society still believes that fat is something that people choose and therefore something they can quickly change. And as a result we have created what seem to be quick fixes for this problem. I’ve always been very careful to state clearly that for me, what was going to work was earning every single gram lost through sheer hard determination, through pushing my body, through walking and running and riding endless kilometres and lifting and pushing and pulling different weights. I had to respect what I had done in order to maintain the weight loss. For me, and I can only speak for myself, that’s what I had to do. Not everyone’s solution looks like that. But I can’t speak for everyone, only for myself.

As the seat belt clicked shut, and I tightened the strap, it sounded like victory.

But in my victory, as in any victory, I remembered the battles lost in winning the war.

So to the me in the plane. Taking up space. Wearing an extension. Desperate for the flight to end:

I’d rather you were safe with the extension on. You have an equal right to be on board this flight. Where are you going? Are you excited? Who are you seeing? Don’t let this moment rob you of your joy regarding travel. You go, you get there, you have an absolute blast. Because regardless of your size, you matter. Your heart is ticking, your soul is full and your smile lights a room.

Extensively.

 

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Just an update

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Today is Friday.

Actually, no, no it’s not, it’s Thursday. Sorry about that.

All week there has been social media and news reports and updates about that tragedy on the Gold Coast, at one of the theme parks. Four people died. Tragic, yes. But do we really need all the updates every half an hour? And the recordings of people who were there and the people who say it’s in bad taste that they could still buy their souvenir photos from other rides and the people that say they were on that ride once many years ago and oh my god it could have been us? Something like this happens and the attention whores come out to play don’t they. I’m looking at you, Mamamia. I’m not downplaying the tragedy, or the heart-wrenching world the families are now living in. But god, when did it become so vital that we knew every single detail about every single event?

My memory of this particular theme park? About four years ago we went there, beloved and I and the Bear and her mini-me and beloved’s kids and one of their friends. And I was too fat to fit on the first ride I tried to go on, so then I was too scared to try to get on any more after that.

I would fit on the rides now. But to be honest I don’t know if I want to go back there. That extremely overweight, morbidly obese fat person mentality is really hard to change, to realise that I don’t need to hang on to it and wear it like a coat of distancing from the world anymore.

I haven’t seen a lot of writings about how to recover from what I am affectionately naming “Fat Head”. It’s a brain space, that I believe anyone who has been significantly overweight learns. The mentality of automatically grabbing the absolute biggest sizes in clothing stores. Of walking straight past the majority of retailers because you still assume there’s no way their clothes would fit you. Of sitting carefully on fold out chairs, in case you flatten them, of coming up with reasons not to sit at all in case you flatten chairs. Of realising that the foibles you have long focused on – gut, arms, arse – that they’re becoming less of a problem, but you just can’t see it. You just can’t see it.

You just can’t see it.

So I’ve decided I’m going to do some exploring into this Fat Head thing. What it is, how it gets there, and how to change it. Not today, I have other shit to do, but soon.

What is driving this for me is the sheer frustration I cause myself. I spend so much time thinking I can’t do things. But I actually can now. I can.

This photo is the most recent update. The left is last Friday night, before I disgraced myself at a local bar thanks to a steady stream of cocktails. The right? About 4 years ago.

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I feel so sad when I look at the girl on the right. She has the same brain as me. The same musical talent. The same heart, the same attitudes. She treats people well. She cares for others. She loves long and hard and is devastated when she sees people feeling hurt or sad, and tries to fix it. She loves animals and the quirks in life. She laughs, and means it from the pit of her belly.

But she’s a before photo, and she didn’t even know it at the time. Maybe learning to love that girl on the right is at the beginning of unravelling Fat Head.

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I’m not where I want to be yet, in terms of weight loss. But I’m getting closer each day.

But essentially, this is just an update.

Do you know what I mean by Fat Head? Have you experienced it?

 

 

Sticks and Stones

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“See that lady there? She looks like she has a baby inside her”.

“I’m sorry, we can’t cater for you here”.

“You might not fit”.

“I always thought fat people would smell. You know, because of the rolls you all have”.

Before I moved to Newcastle, I loved the gym. Particularly weight training. Loved it. It was my happy place.

Not long after I moved here, I fell down a flight of stairs. I was carted away from work in an ambulance, a bag of frozen stir fry vegetables wedged against the tennis ball of swelling that had appeared where my ankle used to be. I remember those vegetables, because they were the fresh cut stir fry vegetables that you could buy at supermarkets – not the ones from the frozen section – and I was wondering the whole way to hospital about how the client I was seeing was going to defrost them when they hadn’t been snap frozen.

It’s funny, the things that stick in your head.

At the hospital I had xrays. I was given one of those green whistles to suck on for the pain. Man I loved that stick. Made me feel so floaty and happy. And every it looked like I was going to come back to earth and the reality that my foot was fucked, I just took another suck of that whistle and all was well once again.

Except it wasn’t. Not by a long shot.

I’d broken the edges off one bone, and severed ligaments and other bits and pieces. Funnily enough the doctor at the hospital told me it was a sprain and that I could start walking on it again by Friday (this happened on a Wednesday). My flatmate (who isn’t my flatmate any more) was with me, and was most unimpressed. We came home and I used that green whistle to help me deal with the pain of crawling up three flights of stairs to our apartment. Meanwhile she organised for me to go to one of those McDoctor places that have xray on site. We fronted up there and had more scans done, and I was referred to an orthopaedic surgeon. The next few weeks were a jumble of scans and MRIs and second opinions and Work Cover and phone calls. I finally got to the surgeon, a couple of weeks after the accident, and this was his verdict:

“If you were an athlete, I’d fix it. But you’re not. So I won’t”.

And so began seven long years. I didn’t need surgery apparently, so I had to just make the best of things. Every one of those seven years saw me either rebreak or fracture or severely sprain that ankle, at least once. Because I was in pretty constant pain, the way I walked changed. I couldn’t go to the gym. I couldn’t do much of anything.

One of the results of this was weight gain. A shit ton of it.

Fast forward seven years, and beloved and I are on a cruise. Our first big holiday together, just the two of us. Night three, and I stumbled in the hallway and went down like a sack of potatoes. Snap snap snap went my ankle.

When you can’t go on holidays without busting your ankle, it’s time to act.

I saw a different foot surgeon. He looked at my foot very briefly and had me booked in for a reconstruction within a month or so. He saved my life. He really, really did.

The reconstruction was followed by a procedure to correct an issue that had developed on my other leg due to the way I had been walking. And again, a further procedure to try to rebuild the Achilles on that leg. This was the result of walking badly for seven years. Through all of this, physio. Practice. Listening, watching, applying. Through all this, beloved. Watching, supporting, helping. Loving.

Exactly 12 months after I relearned how to walk, I completed my first fun run.

Today I smashed a new record (for me) on the treadmill.

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Will I ever have feet that are 100%? Nope.

Will I ever be a teeny tiny size 8? Nope. Do I want to be? No, actually.

I want to be fit. Healthy. Strong. And I’m doing it.

But those words that I started this post with, they still sting. With over 30 kg gone, it’s hard for my brain to remember what my body is like now. I still walk around braced for nasty comments or observations from the peanut gallery of life because of my size. I still go straight to the biggest sizes available.

But I’m recovering. And again, relearning. I bought size 16 gym tights last week. 16!!

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I’ve got big plans to use this journey (isn’t that a terrible word) to help other people, but I am a little to shy to share those plans on a public forum just yet.

But for now, I am doing it.

If you are someone who would pass comment on another person’s weight or size, please stop. You have absolutely no idea of their back story. And your words will stick for a long time.

But they won’t break a spirit that has a goal.

 

The Outrage Has Spoken

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I had quite a few comments in reply to yesterday’s post. Everyone was beautifully supportive. If you missed it, some lady at the Melbourne Cup lunch beloved and I went to saw fit have a dig at me as I walked past her.

But 24 hours on, I feel pretty good about it.

I don’t live in a bubble of being completely unaware. I know I am, well, big. But the thing is, I know and the people around me know how hard I am working towards changing that. Not just to change my shape, but to also change my fitness.

In the past when this sort of thing happened, I would leave and go straight home. And there is no way in hell I’d return to where the incident occurred in a hurry. Usually, it would be coupled with panicking if I had to go out.

Not this time.

This time, yes I felt like shit for a while. What that woman said to me really did say more about her than it did about me. If that is how she gets her rocks off? Well, I feel sorry for her. I left the school yard years ago though. I didn’t engage. I haven’t said anything negative about her (in public anyway). And I haven’t given up.

For me, I think I’m taking my reassurance in the situation from a few places. The first is the support that I’ve received. The second? The fact that I am actively working my arse off to change things. She didn’t tell me anything new, her statement wasn’t something I didn’t know – but it is something I am slowly winning the battle against (19kg down last time I checked, thank you very much!). The third? While I try to be loving and caring to everyone, the reality is that this woman was only walking me home for those few short minutes. She’s not a major player in my life. She’s not worth the upset, not really – not when there are so many people who have walked with me much longer, who were shouting their support from the rooftops.

This is a short post. Mostly, to thank you all for your support.

But also, I am posting to say that I am actually OK about this. As far as I’m concerned, I won that battle. I went out and about today, I have a busy few days ahead and I don’t plan on pulling out of anything because of this woman.

It takes more than that to rock me now.

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Get Stuffed

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Today is Melbourne Cup Day.

This is the image that won the internet for me today:

Source: Marie Claire

Source: Marie Claire

That’s Michelle Payne, the only female jockey riding in the Melbourne Cup and the first female jockey to win. And I love that she used the phrase “get stuffed” in her victory speech. How completely Aussie is that!

I’m not going to pretend to know a lot about the Melbourne Cup, nor about the horse racing industry. But what I do know is that my beloved’s daughter works in this industry, and I know her love and compassion for horses. For me, beloved’s daughter is the closest actual source that I know when it comes to racing and the way horses are treated. Beloved’s daughter might not know how to hang a wet towel and she might struggle with getting rubbish into the actual bin – but the love she has for horses and the expectation she has that they be treated beautifully seem to be in keeping with her chosen field of work.

Beloved and I went to the local pub for their Melbourne Cup lunch do. We went last year too, and I won Best Footwear (my post-op ankle boot). I didn’t win this year. I’m in normal shoes now.

While we were there I was chatting to a woman who worked at a place that sounds like… Parby’s Dies. Just a quick chat. Then I went back to my beloved. About an hour later, I walked past her and I saw her turn on her stool at the bar, and very clearly heard her say, “big girl, big girl, big girl”. I stopped in my tracks, turned around and returned to our table.

I sent beloved to get our drinks.

My thoughts considered the situation.

She’s correct. I am big. But by fuck I’m working on it, every single day. I didn’t retaliate, didn’t make comment on her physical shortcomings. I didn’t go back to the bar. But I also didn’t go home.

I’m working on it, every single day.

And ultimately I would love to have turned to this woman and shout GET STUFFED.

But I didn’t. Because that would be mean. And I am many things, yes – but I am not mean.

I actually found myself feeling really sad for this woman. Based on the things she mentioned in our brief chat, and her own appearance challenges, and that she thought it was even worth saying something like that, and that she lived in a world where making that kind of comment held some form of validity.

So, it’s been a funny old Melbourne Cup day here. But I think we can all agree on who the real winner was:

The phrase GET STUFFED.

For Every Clever Person on a Bike…

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…. there are going to be smart arses.

You may be looking very spiffing on your bike. You may be adeptly avoiding hazards or your own feet. But sadly, there will still be smart arses. And while it is sticks and stones that break bones, words actually do hurt. Particularly when they give voice to the less confident rumbles that echo around in an adequately padded person’s body at regular intervals.

On wanting a bike, I of course panicked about how I would look on a bike. But I decided in the end that being on a bike as a fat arse is preferable to being off a bike as a fat arse. I decided that the scoffs and taunts (if they came at all) wouldn’t matter, because I was changing my life.

Turns out, they do matter.

But I knew this.

For every clever person on a bike…

… there’s a clever person at the shops.

Minding their own business, feeling normal in a normal world, looking for bed linen.

Cue two kids, who you had noticed in every single aisle that you were in.

Then you hear it: “She looks like she’s pregnant!”.

This is what these two kids said about me, when I was in Spotlight. This was a few years ago, and I still panic about going to Spotlight – although, slightly less as I now boycott them due to their cruddy service.

I instantly felt like the awkward fat kid in the playground.

And it did occur to me to run away and go to my car and hide.

But I made a different choice. 

I followed the kids back to their parents, where I asked the parents if I could have a word with them. The kids became very quiet. A smell of panic-fueled child wee soaked the air.

I clarified that these were the parents of the children in question, and asked if they were aware that their kids had been following me. They said they were not aware of this. They asked the kids if it were true.

Like a pair of stunned mullets, they waggled their heads in an affirmative manner.

I then shared what the kids had said with their parents. Again, the parents checked with their children.

Stunned mullet waggling, affirmative.

They asked the kids why. No answer. They asked the kids how they would feel. No answer.

The parents then spoke to me. They explained that their kids were bored. That they had been following them around the store for ages and that generally, they were good kids.

I told the parents and the kids how I felt. That I knew I was fat. That I worked hard to deal with it. That every day, it was on my mind. But every day, I tried to make choices that not only would help me become healthier, but also give me the confidence to continue to go out and do the stuff I wanted to be doing, regardless of my size.

I also explained that bored but “generally good” kids don’t need to be mean kids. Or rude kids. Or hurtful kids. That bored kids don’t need to be bullies. That I hoped they didn’t get bored at school. Or around people with disabilities, or from races or religions or genders or sexualities that were different to their own.

I went home, feeling devastated. They went home, with the kids looking very ashamed of themselves and the parents looking angry – not at me. At their kids. 

This happened ages ago – several dress sizes bigger than I am now. But the words still get me. They still come back to me every time I go to Spotlight.

But! It is with pride that I can say that the reason I don’t frequent this store anymore is because of their service – not because I am too scared.

Just like the reason I will keep riding my bike isn’t to prove a point.

It’s because I like it.

Just like the reason I keep working with kids is because I value them, regardless of what comes out of their grubby little mouths. Yes, they can be mean and yucky, but so can everyone. With Cub-aged kids, I know I still have time to help them realise the power they have with their words. And we’re getting there.

OMFG A COCKROACH JUST RAN ACROSS MY LEG!!!