I knew it was coming. I ran into an old friend - we’ve known each other so long I can’t remember when we met, some time in adolescence - and I didn’t get the “you look good.”
Granted, as soon as she said “Julie!” I fell into her arms like a kid. I definitely feel safe with her. I sometimes do things like that now: not socially acceptable “normal” things like collapsing into a friend’s arms at the grocery store or starting to cry when someone asks how things are going.
It’s been a rough time.
I chatted with her for a few minutes. I was so happy I got to see her, her lovely husband and kid.
They said nothing about my outside which is unusual these days.
When I got home, I looked in the mirror and realized that my hips are gone. I mean, they are still there! But not the way they’ve been for most of my adult life. I’ve always had hips! My frame is noticeably different.
This is a tough one for me to talk about because many people struggle with body image issues and consider weight loss a “good” thing.
For me? Shrinking is not the goal! I saw a video last night with Cardi B and Bruno Mars. She was dancing with several back-up singers - all women of color - they were all very curvy women who looked gorgeous dancing together.
I finally put it together: I don’t strive to look like the “white woman” shape. I NEVER HAVE. (How did I never realize this about myself and the connection between women of color body shapes and the strange pressure white women feel to be so much smaller than their frame wants?) I don’t know if it’s because I have Spanish blood or because I’ve had health issues over the years which resulted in a negative connotation with “skinniness.” FOR ME, this is the case. I don’t care if others are skinny. Or heavy. I truly don’t give a rat’s ass what other people look like - I realize that’s hard for some people to believe, but I really don’t. Do your THING. Be YOU. I subscribe to the Millennial Mantra: you do YOU. I think women who are still really judgmental of other women have a REALLY hard time believing that some women - like me - really don’t give a shit what others look like, who they fuck, how they live, or whatever the hell.
YOU DO YOU.
I was diagnosed with an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) at age 17 years old. For the next decade, the WORST times in my life were when I was having a flare-up. I didn’t have daily IV bags back then which help keep me plumped up now. So when I was going to the bathroom between 20-40 times a day (yes that many, it’s HORRIBLE - happens now many, many days now), I couldn’t eat much or keep anything in me so I got super scrawny. Plus, I was young and not well into menopause. Thank you menopause for saving my life with your slow-ass metabolism!
The only drug I responded to was prednisone. That nasty steroid that they no longer prescribe for IBD patients. They have so many other drugs now! But this was in the early 90s and they didn’t have anything else for me because I was allergic to sulfa. I had this weird reaction to it where it caused arthritis and lupus-like symptoms. I’ll never forget the gastro doctor looking up side effects in this huge tomb of a book and said I was ONE in 16,000 to have this side effect. We know it can’t be placebo because I was a kid and had no idea that those symptoms were even possible!
I remember waking up freshman year in college and not being able to move my right thumb and having other arthritis throughout my hand. I was terrified. I was like what the fuck? Then they said I might have lupus and I’m like TWO DISEASES WHAT. Thankfully, our family doctor figured out that it was the sulfa drugs that were causing the problems - I’ve never taken sulfa-based drugs since. Not the gastros (hmmm….running theme here).
Anyway, I would go through these periods where I was super scrawny and then puffy from the prednisone.
When I’m “down” on my weight which is how I phrase it - I don’t assign judgment words like fat or skinny to this body of mine, never have - I was usually miserable.
I really need to stop typing and go to my dentist appointment.
YESSSS, I have a regular person appointment! The appointment is covered by my $34 dental insurance that I add to my Medicare plan (and yes, then I drop it right after that, whatever! I have to do what I have to do). I haven’t had dental insurance in like 20 years so I actually enjoy going. The dentist is one of the few doctor appointments where I always get rave reviews. I like getting rave reviews from a doctor!
Sigh. I need to decrease my stress and not get in my car at the last minute which has been my habit for years. I like to pack in as many activities as possible. Now? I HAVE to pack in as many tasks as possible to my day.
Ok be back in a few.
Quite the adventure. When this brain doesn’t work well something goes a little cocka-mamie (sp?) when I drive myself anywhere. Yesterday, I got lost in West Seattle AFTER MY APPOINTMENT IN A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PART OF THE CITY (Queen Anne for locals).
But first, I have to share that I had an odd dentist appointment. It was literally 15 minutes long. I hung up with Bestie right as I was walking in and then called her when I got back in the car and was like “um that was fast right?” She said WHAT YOU ARE DONE ALREADY. I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt but I feel like it might be…well, let’s see what they say. I did get the “your teeth look beautiful!” which makes me happy. But shit. I could feel that she didn’t clean every part of my teeth. Why would I not notice something like that?
I happened to have the dentist’s email so I’ll ask him in a very direct but gentle way “yo why was my appointment so short?” Sigh…I apologize to all the marginalized folks in this country. I am so sorry I didn’t realize how bad it is and how poorly you’ve been treated for far too long.
I will do what I can to make it up to you. In any way that I can.
I then lost my debit card in my own car. Yep! Lost my debit card in my trunk. What a hassle. I feel like I struggle to be efficient these days - efficiency is something I strive for and respect a lot. It feels impossible now when I’m running to the bathroom all the time and my brain isn’t always working right. It’s like trying to be efficient with small children. GET YOUR SHOES ON. Why does this take them 20 minutes? Every batch of kids, same thing. They always take forever.
Back to the body changing. This is going to be an ongoing theme for me. I’ve been nervous to write about it because I know so many people that struggle with their weight and body image. I worry that if I say too much, people will feel like they can’t compliment me or won’t know what to say to me. It’s taken a long time for ME to figure out what makes me most comfortable.
Still haven’t figured that out. But I do know this:
I wish people realized how scary it is for me to keep shrinking. I’m not excited about it. I don’t get excited that I can’t wear most of my clothes because they don’t look right anymore. I don’t want to buy new ones because…well, I finally said it bestie today: why bother if I’m dead in a couple of years and someone has to go through my shit? I think it surprised her. These are the thoughts I have! I’m sharing the real deal.
Also, I am a white-skinned woman that has never, ever aspired to be skinny. I can wear children’s clothes right now - I don’t like that at ALL. I’m a grown ass woman! I like being fit, for sure. I like having muscle. I actually enjoy being curvy - I think this is connected to me not feeling “invisible” and small and “unseen” in the world - but that’s like 10 other blogs posts. I also really enjoyed eating and drinking and dessert.
That’s why I miss my old figure the most and why I hate what’s happening to it now.
When I’m heavier, my life is full of FUN, and FOOD, and I have energy to DANCE and I’m able to TRAVEL and meet knew PEOPLE. And engage with the world IN the world.
Ok, sure, yes, I’ve worked my ass off for my entire life in the gym and in the kitchen, and it’s paying off now. It makes me happy that I’m physically strong. I also find it interesting - from my weird mad scientist part of my mind - to watch my body evolve into more of a dancer’s frame rather than the soccer / boxer shape I had for most of my life. It’s been fascinating to notice what it can do now that it’s more limber and leaner.
But how is any of this “exciting?” when most of the time I’m trapped at home, on the treadmill, in the bathroom, in bed or at the doctor’s? That’s literally 98% of my life. I get maybe a few several-hour shifts PER MONTH to do something leisurely. The rest is dominated by what I have to do when I stop writing here: email the surgeons and beg them to do an “ex-lap” which is exploratory surgery - see what’s going on in there - and then come back out and have a discussion before anything is cut. I need to call in some prescriptions. Make sure my volunteers are good with everything. And then I start my hours-long evening routine of trying to poop out THREE WHOLE EGGS. Can you imagine what the world would look like if they had to dance, stretch and walk for several hours to poop out a few hundred calories?
Today, I had only one appointment and found out my therapist couldn’t meet at 5pm and I felt like a kid in the candy store. OMG a few hours to do WHAT. Clean my car, apparently (wahoo!), run a couple errands, and recorded a podcast (yeah! It’s coming out soon after 2 week hiatus - it’s called Hunger for Touch).
I would give anything to have my old GI back. Even though I couldn’t eat a lot of things like dairy or gluten without issue - I’d still take it back!
It’s hard for me though - it really is - that some people want the ONE thing I have and I want all the other things they have so badly. My own residence, a career, travel, FOOD, eating out, a little booze - not even a lot - my own source of income, so many things.
Would I trade all that in for exchange for a skinny body? Hell yeah. Give me back my muffin top PLEASE. That muffin top meant some GOOD meals, man.
I do wonder if any of these people would trade the many lovely things in their life, independence, their homes, their income, their career and have pain, hunger and poor health instead - all for the body that they want.
I doubt it.
I guess the way I can angle this particular issue is: be careful what YOU get excited about with regards to a sick person’s body. YOU may think it’s wonderful and exciting that the sick person looks a certain way. But first, gauge how the person feels about it before going on and on. Able-bodied people need to truly understand that we often have unconscious bias that “thin is good” and “thin is healthy.” When in reality, they really are just that: bias. Neither of those beliefs are actually true.
When I did nutrition trainings for college grads, I made sure to drive that point home over and over again since most of them would be working in communities of color where “white skinny” wasn’t part of the culture. I’d remind them that plenty of “skinny” people have low lean body mass - which isn’t good for all kinds of diseases as we age - and just because someone is heavier doesn’t mean they don’t have a super strong vascular and cardiac system and incredibly fit muscles.
Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.
Our culture has so much work to do on releasing belief systems about our “outer shell” - which is a new term I’m using to describe our looks / bodies / hair, all of it.
My OUTER SHELL tells you almost next to nothing about my personality, my level of education, my sense of humor, my financial status, and most of all: MY HEALTH STATUS. Ok, my mohawk says a LITTLE bit about my personality…. ;)
This will be a difficult one to un-do from the conditioning we’ve received since we were young. I don’t know why I didn’t swallow it. Maybe because my mom shared how much she struggled with being treated badly for being overweight as a kid and adult. Maybe because I was small and athletic at a young age.
Or, maybe, I just connect skinny with pain, misery, loneliness, starving, and possibly death.
The last one is definitely why I don’t love how I look right now. I’ll leverage it, like I’ve said in past posts, for the Cause. And I think it sounds fun to share my exercises for motility issues in some format that I haven’t figured out yet. Stretching and strength training is also key as we age! I had so many injuries when my muscles were atrophying in 2016! When my testosterone was zero, I couldn’t maintain muscle! It was terrible. Now…? Well, I’ll save that debut. I’ve always been quiet about my athletic side.
If it is a way out of this basement, then I won’t be so quiet anymore.
I’d like to target different types of exercises for different types of health ailments instead of this ridiculous one-size-fits all bullshit so prevalent in the nutrition / exercise world. I’ve been dreaming on THAT for over 20 years.
We are well into the 21st century. Isn’t it time our beauty standards evolve? And recognize that we are all gorgeous unique individuals and glorious souls with different bodies, needs, and shapes?
I’m SO glad the Movement has been hitting fashion and Hollywood hard lately on widening the narrow perception of beauty.
Been waiting a long time for this. For all of this. I hate the Patriarchy and all that it stands for.
It’s one of the reasons I stick around. This is a once in a ten thousand year opportunity.
How can I miss that?
Orgain Vegan Protein 32 oz containers (better for the environment than the small ones - please recycle them!)
Small Orgain Vegan Protein Drinks (good for outside the house!)