So what’s next? Preparing for Weight Loss Surgery

Oh goodness, my little Double Chin Diary. I think about you often, how I want to write, how I want to hang out and tweak your logos and colors and design, but then, a baby cries or a toddler whines or a cat pukes on the carpet — and suddenly the reality of the real world thrusts a bunch of other stuff onto my to-do list. Speaking of that to-do list, I’ve been “doing” for the past several months, having attended a class each month in preparation for my upcoming weight loss surgery! Woohoo! My insurance requires six months of “medically supervised nutrition courses”, so once a month, I go to the hospital where I will be poked open, and hear about what my life will entail pre-op, post-op and then some. I’ve actually really enjoyed the program because I’m surrounded by lots of like-minded people, and my nerdy planner-loving self gets to know what I can expect once my tummy is reduced in size.

The exciting news is that May is my last class! On June 1, I meet with the RD for a final appointment, and then, I will be submitted for final insurance approval, and assuming all is well, I’ll hopefully have a surgery date within the month of June. I was thinking about the adjustments I’ll need to make in life, and then pondering how many of us live our lives through a certain lens. For example, even if I lost all my excess weight, I think I’ll always live life through the lens of a heavy person. It’s going to be bizarre and wonderful to finally see efforts pay off; I’m so excited to think that for the first time in my life a “diet” will actually work for me. I’m oddly very excited to begin this process and get back to feeling like me, the me without the fat suit. I decided I’d answer a couple of the same questions that keep coming up, as I know I’ll want to refer to my thoughts on the surgery a few months after I’m actually post-op.

  1. Are you nervous?
    Of course, but maybe not as much as I should be? I think any surgery is risky, but the procedure itself is laproscopic, and a pretty simple procedure overall. I’ve been told I’ll be up and walking within an hour of awakening to help work out the gas used in the surgery, so I’m hoping recovery isn’t too intense. I have a pretty good pain tolerance and birthed two babies, so the actual procedure itself doesn’t worry me, it’s more just the thought of drastically changing the way I eat. (Which in itself is a good thing, and a learning opportunity I need to have.)
  2. How long will you stay in the hospital?
    Assuming I have no complications, it will be overnight. (Since I’m a new parent, I think it’s funny and sad at the same time that I’m looking forward to a night of sleep with no wakeups from baby or toddler!)
  3. What will your diet be like after?
    Small, and for the first several weeks, liquids and soft foods while my tummy heals. At the beginning, I’m told to expect to be able to eat only about two ounces at a time.
  4. How much weight do you have to lose?
    My surgeon and I have agreed 100 pounds will be great, 120 would be awesome, and 150 would be bananas.
  5. Will you have to exercise?
    Yes. The sleeve surgery isn’t magic, but it’s a super helpful tool. I actually like exercise once I get into the groove, so I’m hoping I can get back to feeling good and get back to boxing and yoga and of course, training for the 3-Day. 
  6. What are you most nervous about?
    I think my fear is that I’ll regret having it. My worst case scenario in my mind is that it causes some irreversible health problem and I’m left regretting that I didn’t just stay fat. Hopefully this does not happen!
  7. Do you have any rewards set for hitting certain goals?
    Yes! Horseback riding, going to Costa Rica and ziplining, going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, etc. I want to do some things that I maybe was too heavy for in the past.
  8. Are you sure you want to do something so drastic? Yup. “But, my cousin tried this new diet called…” NOPE.
    I think one great thing about modern medicine is we usually get to choose how we treat ourselves and our ailments. I’ve spent a long time thinking about this and have researched the hell out of it, so I’m extremely confident in my decision to move forward. I need the help of a tool to help me get out of my weight loss hole – and there’s no shame in my game. Rock on 🙂
  9. Why can’t you just be happy with yourself the way you are?
    I think that some people are 100% able to live their best lives at the size they are. I’ve been fortunate to live a life I’ve loved, whether it be at 180 pounds or 280 pounds. Has it always been easy? No. But I’ve traveled, I’ve had kids, I’ve worked an awesome career, and very seldom did size get in my way. But, sometimes, it did. And I want to feel like my best self and my best me, and I can’t live my best life with the sobering reality of the health risks of obesity lingering over me. So onwards, and upwards, and loving myself through it, and hoping you love yourself, too. (And if you don’t? Get on it. Life is too damn short for that crap.)
  10. What will you do when things get hard?
    The same things I always do. Seek help, talk to knowledgeable friends who won’t judge me, go to therapy if I need to, work closely with doctors, be grateful, be persistent. I’m lucky to have several friends who have had the sleeve, and they’re graciously an open book to me and my million questions.

So that’s that! I can’t wait to update y’all in a little bit with some official “before” surgery photos. I hope you’re doing wonderful out there, and wish me luck in these next few weeks as I tackle my two-week liquid diet before surgery, and do all the blood work, etc. I always appreciate you cheering me on!

 

Coming in July 2018: Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, “The Sleeve”

I’m getting weight loss surgery.

It feels freeing to type those words. It feels freeing to have a rapidly approaching helping hand, a tool in my toolbox to help me get to a healthier weight. It feels freeing to say, “I have done the research.” It feels freeing to know that this minimally-invasive surgery is safer than staying morbidly obese. It feels freeing to know that this body of mine, the body I have fought and broken and challenged for so many years will finally have a chance to be what I want it to be.

This decision has not come lightly. It has been the result of painful moments, of deep disappointment, of medical hurdles , of serious reflection and work. A few years back, surgery didn’t feel right for me. I was also about 50 pounds lighter back then. But babies and life and habits and hormones have taken their toll on this body and metabolism, and I find myself the heaviest I’ve ever been, ready to get to a point where I feel like ME in my skin, not a stranger in a heavy, stiff suit. For years I have tried to live between the dueling worlds of loving myself completely but being so uncomfortable in this skin. Now, I’m giving myself an exit strategy. It’s not the easy way out. In fact, I think making this decision to have an elective surgery that will seriously change my eating habits and life is pretty damn brave. But something needs to happen, and I’m ready. Let’s do this.

Am I scared? Of course. There are unknowns. There are possible side effects. Nothing is perfect, after all. But I am ready — and I’m ready to write the happy ending of the Double Chin Diary, the one where I walk happily into the sunset in a tankini, not self conscious about my stomach rolls, but instead, strutting with the positive satisfaction of a life well-lived and a body and mind that feel good. There will be bumps in this road, but it’s a road I’m excited to travel. My stomach will be reduced in size by about 80%, and the hormonal components that make weight loss very difficult for me will dissipate over time as my body produces less of the hunger hormone. I have an excellent support team — friends near and far that have had success with this same procedure, a loving husband and family. I’m ready.

For the next six months I’ll be working on changing my eating habits and getting back into fitness. Insurance requires that you diet for six months to prove that you’re serious about making this commitment. I have done the hard work of learning to love myself despite my weight. I live a happy life as a plus-sized woman. I honor my body, beautiful in its imperfection, amazing in its creation of two beautiful daughters, two legs that walk, two eyes that see, two hands that feel, a heart that beats that I wear on my sleeve. But, I want more. I want to shop in the women’s department, not the plus section. I want to sit on an airplane feeling less like a sardine. I want to hike the hills, to climb the mountains, to surf the waves, to hide and seek with toddlers, to fully live my life and come alive with physical energy and zeal. For somebody who’s fought this battle for 20 years, it feels good to know that the reinforcements are coming. It’s going to be hard. But it’s going to be worth it — and as usual, I’ll be right here, telling you all about it.

Thanks for reading <3

10 Tips for an Enjoyable and Healthy Plus-Size Pregnancy

Several years ago, I knew the idea of having kids was becoming less of a thought and hopefully, a near reality. I kept putting it off, saying that I wouldn’t get pregnant until I had lost some weight. Well, given that I’m now the heaviest weight I’ve ever been, I sure am glad I didn’t wait until I lost weight – because I wouldn’t have my joyful little girl and second one on the way. While pregnancy and family planning is a deeply personal topic and one you shouldn’t take lightly, I’m so glad that I stopped “waiting” on my weight and just went for it. It was my endocrinologist at the time, whom I see for PCOS, that told me that there was no reason to wait for the number on the scale to tell me I should have a baby. He suggested I go for it — and try to become the mom I always knew I wanted to be. And so, I did, and now, I’m a mom 🙂
While navigating my first pregnancy as a plus-size woman was nerve-wracking, I found it was way less scary than I had imagined, thanks to a strong penchant for research, an upfront and honest attitude with my doctors, and a determination to honor my body for the amazing work it was doing. Now that I’m on my second pregnancy (and was months away from having the sleeve weight loss surgery when I found out I was pregnant), I wanted to share some tips, tricks, resources, and anecdotes with other plus-sized and pregnant women.
1) Find a compassionate OB
Have one you love? Fantastic! You’re a step ahead. Don’t have an OB/GYN you like and trust? Time to start asking your friends, especially plus-sized ones, or visiting Yelp.com. Can’t find anything near you? Ask in the local forums on What to Expect and Baby Center. There’s also a great list of plus-size care providers here on the Plus Mommy site.
While it’s unrealistic that you’ll find an OB who never once mentions your weight (and in fact, it’s their job), you do want to find someone who approaches it in a factual and TACTFUL way. My OB worked with two other OBs, and the OB who ended up delivering me was fine, but the third OB was constantly saying things that made me feel guilty about choosing to have a child while being heavy. So, I stopped scheduling appointments with her and crossed my fingers she wouldn’t deliver me. I got lucky!
Now, don’t laugh at this – but I moved to a new area for this pregnancy, and had to find a new OB in an uncharted territory. Believe it or not, I chose my OB based on her yelp reviews, and a photo I found on her Facebook page — showing that she too was plus-sized. Childish of me? Maybe. But, I now have an OB I frickin’ adore, who GETS IT, and is perfectly pleasant to be around and be monitored by. So – there are many ways you can work hard to find a doctor you love. You’ll be with this person for almost ten months, and they’ll have their hands up your V, so make sure this person is cool.
2) Learn to brush it off and move on
You’ll interact with many people during your pregnancy, some who will make you feel glowy and happy and like a maternal unicorn. You’ll also interact with people who make you want to smack them over-the-head with your pint of Ben and Jerry’s and then choke them with your maternity pants. You may unfortunately have some snide comments made to you about your weight, because weight seems to be one of the last socially acceptable conditions to make fun of.
I don’t forget that somebody said, “Oh, I don’t think you’ll even be allowed to try for a natural birth,” insinuating that because of my size I’d be an automatic C-Section. Or the day that THREE SEPARATE PEOPLE asked if I was having twins. Or even the sales rep at the maternity store who said “We don’t make such large sizes in maternity clothes.” Maybe some of this is prego-sensitivity? Maybe. But maybe it’s also recognizing that unless you’re my doctor or trusted confidante, you don’t need to comment on my body. But… if it does happen… which it likely will… be pissed about it, vent about it, and then let it go.
The most recent sting I got was a nurse telling my husband my weight, including the lovely prefix of “Oh! She’s UP TO ###.” Gee, thanks so much. Cuz it’s the 1950s and he controls my body and health information, right? But, I stewed about it for a little bit, and then I moved the eff on, because life is life and people are people and some people just lack that little filter from brain to mouth. You’re awesome. Shake it off, let’s go.
3) Be upfront and transparent
I’m honest to a fault sometimes, and I learned a few years ago that playing coy and acting shy and embarrassed about my weight was doing nothing but a disservice to myself. When I got serious about approaching my weight as a medical problem and not a failing of self, I took that big old bull by the horns and discussed it loudly and clearly. What happened was surprising — people didn’t tip toe, but they also didn’t bring it up, or even really pick at it, like it seems like had happened in the past.
Case in point – my OB warned me that the perinatal doctor would likely be critical of my weight. I went to that appointment, told him upfront I was months away from weight loss surgery before I got pregnant, and asked what he would like me to do to make sure my weight wasn’t more of an issue than it needed to be. He responded to do the best I could, and that if it was easy, nobody would have a problem with it. Super awesome, super compassionate, super relief to just address it, and move on.
Now — I understand that this isn’t easy for everybody. Approach it if you’re comfortable with it, but if you don’t and it comes up, try not to take it as a personal attack. Unfortunately our weight can complicate risk factors for pregnancy-related health conditions, so it’s usually just concern for you and baby. And that’s fine, and good — because the end game here is healthy mom, healthy baby.
4) Move as much as you can
I’m lazy about fitness when I’m not pregnant, and when I’m pregnant, hoisting myself out of the bathtub should earn me the Olympic medal. But… it doesn’t, and I know that the more I move, the better it is for ME and baby. So just challenge yourself. Can’t make it to the gym? Fine — but walk out to get the mail. Park further away from the store. Play outside with your dog, or kiddos, or take a walk at night with your partner. Movement keeps things moving, helps with prego related aches and pains, and prepares you for your labor.
5) Consider alternative therapies – like acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage.
Oooh, lawdy. When I’m pregnant, my back aches like a beast. I discovered chiropractic care in my first pregnancy when my hip kept popping out of its socket (yep, that’s a thing. horrifying, right?!). I was amazed how much a simple adjustment kept my body and mood feeling good. I also used acupuncture to treat my anxiety, and massage just because massage feels good.
You’re limited when you’re pregnant with what you can do, so if something’s bothering you, talk to your OB about what’d be best for you and baby. There are alternative (and non-alternative) methods that can help you while keeping your little one safe.
6) Order plus-size maternity clothes
My first pregnancy I got away with wearing my usual stretchy clothes until I was about 25 weeks. This pregnancy, the bump showed up loud and proud around 10 weeks, and I was rockin’ my maternity jeans pretty early on. While we don’t have a ton of great options for plus-size maternity, there are some; and it seems to be getting better as the world realizes that yes, large people can and will procreate.
Some of my favorite sites to order from have been Motherhood Maternity, Pink Blush, JC Penney. Old Navy has maternity that goes up to a generous XXL, which works well in their jersey knits, cottons, and spandex materials. I’ve also heard good things about ?? but haven’t tried it.
There’s also a great Facebook buy/sell/trade group called FatToo Expectant, where you can buy gently used plus sized maternity wear from other curvaceous mamas.
7) Get your maternity photos
Plus-sized gals have a tendency to hide from the camera, but trust me when I say you’ll want to look back on your pregnancy. I see it in the plus-size mom groups all the time – moms who say they regret not doing maternity photos. I’m always an advocate of family photography (my mom is a photographer), and I know that a good photographer will find ways to pose you in ways that make you feel comfortable and beautiful.

Photo by Lynnette Joy Photography

My mom recommends doing your maternity photos between week 34 – 37, so you’re not as exhausted as you’ll be in weeks 38-40, but really, do them when you can. Don’t be afraid to bring cute little props like your baby’s shoes, or ultrasound photo. I’m so glad we have these photos of my pregnancy with Holly, and am looking forward to taking photos for this baby, too. Not sure how to find a photographer? Again, I recommend Yelp.com, or asking in one of your local mom groups on Facebook.
8) If you have a B belly, round it out with a belly band
What’s a B belly? It’s when your pregnant tummy starts out more on the top, and your naturally buoyant lower belly creates a seam by your belly button, so from the side, your belly looks like a Capital B.
I have a B belly until I’m about 28 weeks, but I fake my round basketball belly really well with the petti-pant from Belevation (I wear an XL). These things have been my best friend even when I’m not pregnant, helping to prevent chafing or the dreaded “chub rub” when you wear a skirt or dress. They also help round out your bump beautifully and smooth out the hips, thighs, and tummy area.
If you don’t want the thigh-containing variety, I also like their plain old belly band. In my experience it fits a little more generously than some of the other store brand belly bands.
9) Find a community 
When I confided to a friend that we were “Trying” the first time around, she added me to a great group on Facebook called Plus Size Mommy Memoirs. There’s also a Plus Size Mamas group on What To Expect, and I’m sure many other collectives around the Internet.
Even though everybody’s pregnancy and circumstances are different, it’s so awesome to have people to chat to, lean on, commiserate with, and share good finds. And if you’re lucky enough to have friends with a bun in the oven at the same time you do, even better! One thing that is true for all pregnant women, plus size or not, is there’s no shortage of things to complain or delight about 😉
Not into online message forums or groups? I found some great support within these books about plus-sized pregnancy: Big, Beautiful, and Pregnant , and My Plus-Size Pregnancy Guide.
 
10) Enjoy yourself, and honor your body.
Pregnancy can be wrought with concern, and I know that even when not pregnant, we all have days where we look in the mirror and think “I’m huge!”, or “I wish my butt wasn’t so big,” etc. But, if you remove the negative self-talk about your body, and instead, focus on the amazing thing your body is doing, it can help give you a great dose of perspective.
Pregnancy is a gift that many people can’t enjoy. It’s not all sunshines and rainbows, but the fact that your body is creating life; its very own living, breathing, human, with its own personality, talents, and identity — is a miracle. Give your body some credit. However big, imperfect, or flawed, it’s doing something spectacular. And that’s worth honoring, recognizing, and thanking.
Now: go out into the world and enjoy your plus-sized pregnancy, knowing that you’re doing the wonderful work of creating life.
*There are a few affiliate links that will make me mad skrilla if you click ’em and buy something. Like a whole 4 cents or something. Enjoy! Also, this is a reminder that I wasn’t good enough at math to be a doctor, so don’t take anything on this blog post as medical advice, and instead, see a licensed and qualified medical professional.

The Oaks at Ojai: The Ultimate Weight Loss and Fitness Spa

Imagine a small town nestled in between rolling golden hills and tall, green mountains. Natural rock formations jut out of the scenery, and the land you’re in has a rich Indian heritage, with citrus groves dotting the scenery. This quaint little town is just an hour and 15 minutes north of Los Angeles; seemingly make believe, a peaceful respite away from sirens and smog, a stone’s throw from the glistening coast in Ventura. Welcome to Ojai!

I had the pleasure of being invited to the Oaks at Ojai Spa for a long weekend, and I attend October 7 and 8th. Initially, I had some concerns about attending a “Weight loss spa” for the first time. I had visions of Biggest Loser style challenges, being surrounded by platters of junk food that I needed to psychologically resist, and carrying giant packs of heavy stuff up a 15-mile mountain. Thankfully, the Oaks at Ojai is not like any stereotype of a fitness or weight loss spa, and it is instead a safe haven of serenity for those looking to relax while improving their health.

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My childhood best friend Katelyn drove up from Sacramento be with me, and we checked into our adorable little casita. It has a private patio with lounge chairs and a table for outdoor dining. Inside the Spanish style door, the decoration was clean and classic, with a gigantic Talavera style bath tub that I couldn’t resist posing in a picture for. There are even organic bath soaps and shampoos! We settled in and then headed over to the dining room for our first health-conscious meal.

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I was super pleasantly surprised at the way the food was made. The Oaks at Ojai uses almost no salt, so if you’re a big salt user, you may at first feel like everything needs salt. I admit at first I wanted to grab a salt shaker, but there wasn’t one – and the home-grown spices helped. The Oaks uses herbs grown onsite for their blends. How’s that for farm to table? There are a variety of spice blends, including vinegar, so if you feel like flavor is lacking you can jazz things up to your liking. I especially liked the salsa that was served several times throughout the weekend; it just had the right touch to add a little heat.

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Let’s talk portion sizes. Of course, the portions must be made for someone the size of a mouse, right? Nope! The portions are generous yet healthful. You’ll never go hungry at the Oaks, and I felt like I ate more (but more healthfully) there than I did at my own home. Between meals, there are broth breaks, with potassium rich broth, set out between exercise sessions, and then a vegetable break, too. The veggie break was my favorite as there were three different types of dip, including a beet hummus and a garlic hummus. Yummy! I also was obsessed with the unsweetened iced teas that were constantly available, including this incredible Meyer lemon iced tea that I should have gotten the brand of, because it was so flavorful. There was also always spa water (Water with fruits or veggies), so I was always hydrated. You even got a popcorn break after dinner for a little post-dessert nosh!

Of course, health means more than just eating well, so the Oaks offers you a robust daily schedule of many different kinds of exercise. The best part is you get to choose what you want to do: so there’s no obligation, but if you wanted to do three or four classes a day, you could, but if you’d rather just relax and do yoga, you can do that too. There are literally classes for every fitness level here, from meditation and gentle yoga to endurance hikes and boot camp. I started my Saturday morning with a cardio bootcamp lead by Gloria. Gloria was funny and motivating, but also encouraged each person in the class to go at their own pace. This is so important in fitness as you really have to listen to your own body. As someone dealing with a heel spur, I knew I needed to go low impact on my left foot, and kick it up with the weights on the arms. Gloria helped me customize the plan when sections of the class just wouldn’t be a good choice for my foot.

 

I had a few hours of free time on Saturday and unfortunately Katelyn was under the weather, so I walked around downtown Ojai (just a few steps across the street from the spa) and bought myself some pottery. Downtown Ojai has a bunch of cute boutiques and there is something for everyone if you’re looking to bring home a sweet trinket for a loved one. After strolling around, I wanted to hit the pool. I was the only person out basking in the sun, and I lazily flipped through a magazine, waded through the pool, and admired the gorgeous scenery around me. It was the ultimate “me time” that I had been craving. I love my husband and kiddo, but it sure was nice to take a few hours to just be still, soaking up the sunshine. After my pool time, I headed back to the spa for some YOGA! I did an hour of a totally peacefully yoga-flow, and I left limber and inspired for our dinner of chicken with peanut sauce and broccoli. Thai inspired and oh so yum! In the spirit of not lying and maintaining authenticity, I will admit that in true Double Chin Diary fashion, I allowed for one indulgence I love, the unsweetened Starbucks Black Tea Lemonade. I admit it, I brought contraband back into a weight loss spa! Haha!

Next up was SPA TIME! I chose to have a body wrap as I had never tried one before. The aesthetician helping me was fantastic about setting my mind at ease, as a body wrap requires full nudity. Say what?! Don’t worry, your parts are covered by a towel at all times, so you’re not just going commando for a show. My treatment began with a coffee bean scrub, helping to draw out impurities and bloat. After being slathered and rubbed with several different concoctions, I was swaddled in a wrap and cozy warm blanket where I snuggled for 15-20 minutes. After being wiped down and cleaned up, I received a wonderful scalp massage, and ended up leaving being TWO pounds lighter than when I had gone in. That’s two pounds of bloating and excess water weight, folks! It’s not uncommon for me (or other PCOS folks) to bloat up to 9 pounds overnight, so I’m not surprised. I felt svelte and slim! Katelyn also had a body wrap and raved about how her skin was unbelievably soft.

Speaking of skin — the Oaks is a Skin Authority Spa. I received some complimentary Skin Authority products, and because my skin is sensitive, my favorite product is the Vitamin C Serum. It fills in fine lines, rejuvenates cells, and sloughs off dead skin. In the week that I’ve been using it, I already feel like my skin is getting a gorgeous glow to it. Definitely ask at The Oaks how Skin Authority can work for you.

After our spa treatment, Katelyn and I headed back to our cozy casita, where we nestled up in our beds and drifted to sleep under a sky full of stars.

I’m so grateful for my experience at the Oaks because it showed me that a vacation CAN be a trip without eating junk food, guzzling booze, and laying around like a slug. I also can now say that any preconceived notions of a weight loss spa being like a fat camp are totally not true. I felt at ease, rested, well-fed, and best, totally pampered and respected at my time at the Oaks. Though the Oaks will run you a bit more than your average hotel (starting at $250 a night), remember that all of your meals, snacks, and drinks are provided. In addition, the fitness classes, steam rooms, pool, and hot tubs are well worth that extra cost. Be sure to look into the specials they’re running – this would make an amazing romantic get away or weekend away with the girls.

So, if you’re looking for a total mind and body reset, the Oaks at Ojai is for you. Pamper yourself, work your body, calm your mind… you’ll do all of that and more at The Oaks. Learn about how you can experience the Oaks at Ojai now!   Also, November 1- 20, experience the BRING A FRIEND DISCOUNT!  It’s twice the fun and a 25% discount for both of you when you share a room!  Workout, chat poolside, explore Ojai and stay up late catching up!  Click here to learn more about this amazing bring a friend deal that Katelyn and I got to enjoy 🙂

 

I was gifted a stay at the Oaks Spa including a spa service and skin care products in exchange for my honest review. I am grateful to the Oaks for the awesome opportunity. It most certainly went above and beyond expectations. 🙂

Body Positivity and Weight Loss: Can you have and want both?

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending BlogHer for the very first time. It’s always fun to connect in person with other members of the blogosphere and learn from their successes (and flops). I was hanging at a protein powder booth at the expo hall, and introduced myself to the brand rep. “Hi, I’m Alyssa,” I said, beginning my usual elevator pitch, “I blog about losing weight without losing my sense of humor, though lately this weight loss blog is more of a weight gain blog because I recently had a baby.” The rep and I chitchatted for a few minutes, and then I turned to leave, when I saw a girl approach me. I knew she was on the younger side as she had that youthful skin that no lotion or potion can give you back. “Hi, I heard you say you’re a weight loss blogger and I have a question for you.” She went on to explain how she struggles finding the balance between being body positive but also wanting to and trying to lose weight. She wanted to know, how did I find balance between the two and what was my perspective on it all? First of all, I asked this girl her age and she’s 17! Seventeen! Wow! Color me impressed for such an awesome, thoughtful query at such a young age.

BODY POSITIVITY

The answer to this question is both simple and complicated at the same time. The question, if we reduce it to one direct statement is “Can you still be body positive if you are trying to lose weight?” To that, my answer is yes, yes, and more yes. I’ve actually had a few bloggers snark on me for not “being body positive” because I want to lose weight, but if you go through my blog, I think you’ll find my body positivity is pretty on-point. The key to this equation for me is that I can love myself just as I am, and I should, because once that weight comes off, there’s a lot of me that will still be the same. But more importantly, it’s about loving my body ENOUGH to know that it deserves the very best. For me, the very best is a lighter body — not just for how it will look in size 12 jeans, but to walk miles without my heel spur aching, to get my blood pressure taken without anxiously spiking it, to not fret about fitting in airplane seats or going ziplining.

 

Now, these two things can exist and both be true, and that said, I’m a big advocate of body positivity and am grateful it’s become a “thing” now that I am a mother. Images like this make me so very happy, to be living in a world where different shapes and sizes are becoming more accepted, just like skin color, sexual orientation, and gender.

However, I have to scrutinize a little bit about the body positivity community if those who are wanting to lose weight are being challenged. If we’re advocating for acceptance of all bodies, wouldn’t it be hypocritical to be against those who are wanting to make a change to their body? I think that you can love yourself just as you are but still want to make improvements; for example, how my husband adores the heck out of me but really wishes I didn’t need 10,000 reminders to empty the dishwasher. I think perhaps the emphasis of body positivity can shift slightly to be just more positivity in general; with your pants size, your religious beliefs, your diet, your hobbies, whatever makes you YOU. However, I suppose a key difference here is if you’re coming at your body and size with negativity, no confidence, and self-hatred while wanting to lose weight, THAT doesn’t really work as body positivity, ya know?

I guess the point of this is, and what I told that girl, is that you can lose 100 pounds, 5 pounds, or 1 pound — and you might look “perfect”, or whatever the meaning of that word of what we’re desiring really is, and if you haven’t done the hard work on the INSIDE of learning to love the person you are, then you’re not much better off than when you started. We all know happiness comes from within, and it sounds cliche, but it’s true. If you hate yourself at 300 pounds there’s a chance you’ll hate yourself at 100, too. So, I say, rock on with your body positive self, but if you’re wanting to lose weight to feel better or heck, even look better, rock on with your self-loving self. Because there’s nothing more positive than believing in the person you are and were meant to be — regardless of what the number says on the scale.

An update from Alyssa and April: A fresh start in 2016!

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Well hey there! How are ya? Lots has happened  in the past year… mainly that I had a baby! Holly was born on 11.09.15 and is an amazing, sweet, happy little baby. My life has changed dramatically in just two months, and as I suspected, I’m finding that my attitude towards my body and weight loss is changing. The desire to get healthy is even stronger than ever now because it’s no longer just about me – being a healthy Alyssa is being a healthy mom for my daughter. April and I decided over Christmas this year that we wanted to come back to the Double Chin Diary.

Managing a full-time job, marriage, baby, and writing on my blog is going to be a bit difficult, so this year I’m not giving myself any “goals”. It’s simply trying to move to a frame of mind for feeling good. Pregnancy and the post-partum time period does a doozy on the body, so for now, I’m ready to get started with a few simple things; 1) Getting back to gentle exercise, like walking, yoga, and riding my bike, 2) Moving away from sugar, and 3) focusing on self-care like sleep, gardening, and eating nutritious things. That’s all. No goals of “I must lose this much weight by so and so,” because that stuff has never worked for me. I just need to try to do and be better.

A blogger friend of mine has been experiencing some health issues, and she posted this on her Facebook: “To all of you youngsters on my friend list who are carrying extra weight, PLEASE heed my warning and lose the weight … sooner rather than later! We only get one shot at this life, so please don’t waste/throw away years of it being overweight like I’ve done.”

It really resonated with me, and as I approach the ripe old age of 31, no day or time is ever promised. Why wouldn’t I want to spend it feeling great? I’m thrilled that so far mommyhood has been wonderful; I feel happy mentally, and now it’s time to start feeling better physically. My back in particular has been aching a lot since late pregnancy and labor (more details about that later: the chiropractor is my new best friend), so I’m ready to shed some weight to see if that helps.

Feels good to be back… I’ll check in soon with more details about my body during pregnancy and after.  2016: let’s do this! (PS: You can also find me on my other blog, LaLaLyssa.com sharing more lifestyle related things like tales from motherhood, random posts about cats, and other stuff.)

XOXO

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From April:

It has been a year since I stopped writing on the Double Chin Diary. This past year went by quickly as I didn’t have much time to rest with my usual chaotic schedule. I spent 2015 working an assortment of positions at a local humane society, babysitting, and being a full time student. I am proud to say that I’m just one class away from completing an advanced certificate in Environmental Resource Management and Pollution Prevention!

Even though my life was on the constant move, I managed to gain 45 pounds. I know why I gained the weight. I ate for convenience and not health. My idea of exercise was walking from the farthest parking spot in the lot at work. I stopped hiking, playing tennis, and going for walks around the town. I hit my ultimate level of exhaustion and my body took the impact of it.

This year I can’t continue to act the same way. My body just can’t handle any more weight. My legs get all twitchy when I’m tired, just like they used to do 8 years ago before I had lost 50 pounds. I eat Tums like they are the only thing that keeps me alive. I spend my weekends sleeping and cleaning because I’m too tired from the week to do anything productive after work. I need to start making the changes necessary for me to lose weight and regain my health. Plus, with my niece Holly around now, I have even more motivation to get fit.

Alyssa and I have been talking how we need to start writing again on the Double Chin Diary. I never had an extraordinary amount of weight loss while writing here but a major benefit I found was the accountability for myself to do well. I felt like I wanted to have positive things to write about so I was motivated to try harder.

Now that it is a new year and my crazy schedule should be calming down, it is time to start again. I plan to write at least once a week about my adventures of being back at the gym, eating well, and regaining my health. I’ll be using Myfitnesspal.com to track my weight and maybe my food and exercise, if I can be disciplined enough. I need to start COMPLETELY avoiding the foods I’m allergic to (wheat, rice, oats, apples, oranges, and bananas) as I do think my denial of my food allergies over the past four months definitely attributes to my weight gain.

Like so many at the beginning of the year, I am full of great intentions. I hope I can actually fulfill them this year.

Happy 2016 everyone!

Cheers,
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