Monday, 17 January 2011

Almost half the woman I was......

Well, here I am again after a long sojourn; too long for me and not long enough for others I suspect. But I come back a renewed woman some six stones, (84lbs), lighter than I have been of late. With himself’s magnificent weight loss of 3 stones, (42lbs), we are now officially one person lighter between us. There is no longer the equivalent of three people sharing a bed, just us two delighting in the extra room with no more narky spats over whom has more of the king size duvet that had its work cut out to cover our mammoth combined girth. If we’d expanded any further we’d have had to stitch two together for the sake of a peaceful night life. We’ve done our bit for the environment too, our reduced petrol consumption on car journeys reflects the loss of that ‘third’ person we used to drag everywhere with us; a great all-round result; easy on the ozone layer and even easier on our wallets.

I still have some weight to lose but that is a work in progress. I’m no longer sickened by looking at myself in mirrors; even the full length ones harbour no sheer horror for me anymore. My reflection astonishes me and please don’t consider me vain, I like what I see. Gone is the bloated face of the depressed woman that I was a year ago. My skin is glowing and my face radiates good health with few of the dreaded wrinkles I expected to be ravaged with. Skinny jeans show off my slimmed and toned legs that a year of exercise has helped to shape. Gravity has gone to town on my mammary glands and I am left with what only could be described as rats wriggling in hanging socks but the application of a jolly good over the shoulder boulder holder is a miracle worker. The muffin top has been drastically reduced and God what a revelation it is to feel my ribs once more. They’re not quite xylophone playing perfect yet but the torturous stomach crunches continue unabated in my quest for near perfection, hah!; dream on old girl.

It takes time to catch up with a new image of yourself. Those moments where I unintentionally catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror, a shop window or a photograph I was unaware had been taken still leave me in awe of how far I have come. They are even more revealing than the staged moments where still, I steel myself, before stepping in front of a mirror to critique my appearance and progress so far. Mrs P, my best friend of six years, whom has only ever known me overweight still marvels at my weight loss and complete change of appearance. She is unfailingly generous in her encouragement and compliments; those golden little nuggets that make all the effort worthwhile and keep you going when you might be just mad enough to quit. Other good friends and neighbours have been cheerleaders too; such goodwill makes me smile with utter joy that they care enough to care.

A year ago I needed an oxygen mask from the minor effort of climbing the stairs. I was desperately unfit and my blood pressure was 205 over 120. Today I am fitter than I have ever been thanks to daily hour long sprints with the dogs and interval training in our home gym. My blood pressure has returned to normal with Cholesterol levels following suit. I no longer ache and groan when I get out of a chair; so stiff that I used to shuffle like an octogenarian. And sometimes it is the simplest of things that non fatties take for granted such as putting on my own socks without the aid of a helper that drives home the distance I have come. That act alone used to leave me huffing and puffing with a red face like a smacked arse to boot. And speaking of boots, not only can I get my legs into normal sized welly boots but I can tuck my jeans in too with space to spare.

In so many ways my life has turned around, gone back to what it used to be. I no longer feel I am on the outside looking in, a witness to my life instead of a participant. Being morbidly obese seemed to give strangers the right to treat me with disdain by showing their disgust at my lack of self control. Others looked past me or ignored me as I became increasingly invisible. One particular incident sticks in my mind when a rather unpleasant woman made an offensive and clearly for my ears remark to her daughter then sat sniggering at her great wit. For just a moment I was banjaxed at her spectacular audacity and bad manners before a mixture of deep shame and anger overwhelmed me. No doubt the sight of me entering a cafe for lunch gave her the right to suggest that perhaps I should give this event a miss given I’d clearly eaten enough at some point already. As I digested my lunch and what had just happened, to say that I felt worthless, would be to understate the effect her remark had upon me.

As a result of moments like this I retreated to my lair to lick my wounds and remained deeply entrenched particularly as my depression intensified. But there is a wonderful upside to this; as I have re-emerged back into society, old acquaintances that haven’t seen me for a long time now take a double look when they realise it’s me but only half of the me that was there before. And I no longer shy away from the occasional treat of entering a cafe or an all-you-can-eat-restaurant because I assume people are thinking, “shite, we’d better get to the food before old lard arse does or there will be bugger all left to eat”; the sight of my once morbidly obese frame could start a stampede in an instant.

Before the combination of the menopause, ageing, the hedonistic lifestyle we led and finally depression contributed to my massive weight gain I had always been never more than a few pounds overweight and like the individual who insulted me publicly I could be judgemental about obese people. I think that now I’ve hobbled a mile or two in a truly fat person’s body I am certainly more understanding of the reasons people may just find themselves in such situations and how massive a challenge it can seem to extricate yourself from it. In the thick of it, it’s more than an uphill struggle, it’s an insurmountable mountain to climb. The support of himself, good friends and every single compliment and words of encouragement are the nuggets of success. I was in enormous pain in the early days of exercising, certain I needed hip replacements, convinced that my heart would give up if I broke out in a sweat. But I started slowly with walking the dogs daily and upped the pace as time and fitness levels allowed. I never believed that walking could make me as fit as I have become. It was only when some months later that I dared use the gym equipment I was astonished at how I could do 30 minutes rowing, followed by 30 minutes on the cross trainer. I tried to in the earliest of days only to be defeated after a torturous minute of effort that left me exhausted, deflated and wary of using them again until my confidence had grown.

So here I am, picking up with dearly missed old friends again and enjoying life to the full. My only real dilemma these days is what to wear. Who are my reference points for fashion when I’m in my early fifties and have emerged from a cocoon where my daily uniform consisted of shapeless sacks merely to cover my shameful shape?; when does something like skinny jeans become mutton dressed as lamb? Well, if it’s a choice between wearing cargo pants, or as my friend calls them baby elephant pants, old lady crimpolene type trousers and skinny jeans, I’ll stick with the jeans for the moment. I really couldn’t care less what the world thinks; if I can carry it off for a while yet if just to show I’ve lost all that weight then I will do. After all, aren’t the fifties the new forties? And let’s face it if you can get away with murder these days, (well almost), I certainly intend to make the most of what time I’ve got left as the new improved moi.