A lot of these things might seem like common knowledge, but I didn’t realize how important they were until now, almost 15 months out. I thought I’d share some of the things I wish I kept in mind as I’m going through this journey in hopes that others benefit from them.
1. Use the same scale.
One thing I think has been important to remember, at least for me, is that the measure of progress is the change in numbers, not just the number itself. That is, just because I’m still XXX weight, that doesn’t mean I’m bad—because I’ve lost almost 200lbs, and that change is what means I have made progress. The best way to discourage myself is to have inconsistency in those numbers, and so even though my husband’s scale weighs me a full 2lbs less than my scale, my scale has been the scale I have used since before surgery, and the change in numbers is more important than the numbers themselves. It’s helped me keep perspective, because regardless of the actual number that scale says, all I care about is that I feel good and make progress.
2. Try things on.
This probably seems like a total given for many of you, but for me, I KNEW my size pre-surgery. I would shop online and know exactly what size I needed, even without looking at size charts. I could go into stores, grab some tops and pants, and walk out without trying anything on, knowing exactly what size I wore. Now, though, I can’t even be confident week-to-week. Just recently I picked up a top with the lowest size one of my favorite plus-size stores carries, thinking because the numbers represent my pant size they would fit, and realized when I got home (and after I ripped the tags off), that it’s actually too big! Plus sizes and straight sizes are different (even if the number is the same), and every store has a different view of the size “large” or “XL”. Online shopping means measuring myself with a measuring tape weekly and cross-referencing size-charts. I don’t order online nearly as much as I used to because we live out in the middle of nowhere, and our postal service isn’t as great as it was in the city, so I have to trek into stores and take a large handful of sizes into the changing room with me to find the best fit. It’s annoying to me, but it keeps me from coming home with a super-oversized sweater (that I am currently wearing), or clothing that just plain doesn’t fit.
3. Get measured.
I had my first bra-fitting last week. I had never had a bra-fitting before. I was absolutely shocked by the number, too (for reference, I was wearing a 42C and I’m really a 38DD. I used to be a 48C. Yes, it makes a huge difference to get a bra that fits!). I have a measuring tape at home I can use to keep tabs on my waist and hip sizes, and I find myself using them when pre-shopping for clothing online before going into stores and measuring progress. Not only does it help with sizing changes, it helps find clothes that are comfortable and that fit.
4. Throw it out.
I just bagged up around 300 articles of clothing, which actually feels more like 500lbs of clothing, to take to Goodwill. My closet it huge, but since I’ve gone through SO MANY sizes since I started (if I go from single sizes, I’ve gone down almost 20 sizes since pre-op, and I still have a ways to go), I’ve desperately needed to purge. I was trying to sell stuff online and have friends take what they need, but even then it became more of a hassle than it’s worth. For a while I was just trying to pull out the clothes that fit me between the clothing that’s too big, and I decided it wasn’t worth the struggle to find what I needed every day. I took around 5 empty laundry baskets, and went through my closet, pulling out everything I knew wouldn’t fit. As time has gone on, I find new items that are just too big, and add them to the piles. It helps me mentally take stock of what I have that I can wear and fit into without feeling overwhelmed and buried under a pile of clothes that don’t fit me.
5. Take chances.
I admit, I just didn’t feel comfortable in anything but either work pants or jeans and a top for a very long time. As my body has changed, I started branching out—and I found that I really enjoy dressing up and creating a style for myself. I can wear heels now (though very short heels), as well as dresses and skirts, hats and scarves and accessories. I would have never taken that chance before. Some people are braver than I am, and I salute them, but for me—I just never felt right in anything dressy. Now I want to dress up—all the time! And I like looking a certain way. I’ve always had that sense of vanity, but now I feel like I have a lot more choices. I’m not sure if the weight loss has made me braver, or I just feel more confident, but taking chances and wearing things I feel good in has really helped make this change worth it.
6. Slow your roll.
I understand the urge to try and forge ahead when it comes to diet, but I feel the majority of my success to date was that I was quite compliant my first, oh, 9 months or so. A year, really, if you consider how long it took me to even taste something with added sugar in it. I didn’t follow every letter, but I measured and I recorded my consumption and I was really, really good about following orders. I weighed myself once a week and I saw a personal trainer and I just did what I felt was needed to make the surgery a success. Now everyone’s mileage may vary, and I’m not your surgeon, blah blah blah, but I still feel like taking my time and realizing that in due time I’ll be able to try new things, but right now I’m just following orders to make progress happen, has really helped my mindset and progress in the long run. A life-long change doesn’t happen overnight, but rather comes from building habits slowly. Allow yourself to do one thing at a time and don’t rush—it will all come back soon enough.