Monday, October 8, 2012

Half full cups

When I first began the whole weight loss regime at the beginning of the year, there were two things that never even entered my head - 1) It might actually work, and 2) Clothes will start getting too big, and more clothes required.

With the first matter, all I was concerned about was going to Australia (in September) looking better than when I'd left. Trimmer, but nothing radical. I think I achieved that, but I am actually far slimmer than I thought possible.

With the second matter, I generally find clothes shopping a pain in the arse. I never got that particular girly gene, but I did get the frugal gene. I don't get excited about clothes. I see something, I might think it looks okay, try it on, and if it doesn't make me look like crap, then I might buy it - as long as it's priced within my budget. I've never been one of those women to blow half a week's pay packet on a pair of shoes or a pretty dress. I can never justify spending much on clothes for myself when I have two growing daughters who need clothes too.

Which brings me to where I am today. When I joined the gym at the end of January, I weighed 87 kg (191 lbs). Keep in mind that I'm 183 cm tall (just over 6")... so my height allowed me to carry the extra weight better than on a shorter person. I wasn't unhappy as such, but I hated how hard it was to find things in my size that I liked. Nothing seemed to sit the right way on my frame, so I decided I needed to trim down.

(I should also add that what I weighed then wasn't baby weight. No, it was pretty much what I've weighed since my mid-twenties. I only gained a small amount during pregnancy, and lost it within days of giving birth, both times. No tricks, I was just lucky.)

I am currently around 68 kg (150 lbs).

That's a grand total of 19 kg (41 lbs) lost.

I honestly never thought that would happen.

I reached a point (a few months back) where I stopped being so careful with the calorie-counting (via MyFitnessPal). When we visited Australia, I didn't bother at all; I just enjoyed myself completely. I still watch the calories now, but it's become more about maintaining where I'm at. It's been easy because I've managed to successfully change my snacking habits and certain things I eat. I have much more awareness now about how high in calories some things are, so I know to limit those (but not avoid - I love sugar too much!). On Fridays and weekends, I eat what I want, and have fun with it. I'm hoping that soon, eating within a range will become second nature most days.

The exercise I've been doing has changed as this year has progressed. Initially, I was going hard with cardio-based classes and the cross-ramp, along with some strength-training. Gym visits were three nights a week. Then, not long after we moved during the summer, I hurt my neck and shoulders pretty badly, so I decided to ditch the weights altogether and just focus on cardio workouts. Since returning from Australia, I've gone easy on the cardio and rarely do that. Instead, the most bizarre thing has happened: I've begun to enjoy yoga - something I've tried repeatedly over the years and never taken to in the past. I guess it goes to show what an impact the right yoga instructor can have, because I just love the teacher I have now. I usually go twice a week, and love how my body feels for the next few days.

Throughout this year, I've been really careful about the discussions I've had with the Faery regarding my exercise. She has no idea that I've been losing weight, or that I even wanted to. I don't want her to to even get a whiff of the concept of body image, or dissatisfaction - she'll have enough of that to deal with as she gets older. Instead, I've focussed on the health aspect of exercise.

My own body image has been a strange affair. I never suffered from the intense loathing that so many girls and women seem to. Growing up, I was always one of the skinniest girls at school. Super skinny, and eventually, super tall. There were other girls at school who called me names like Lurch, Hightower, Beanpole... you get the picture. Naturally, they were shorter, and not so skinny. I wish I'd just known at the time that they were jealous, but my teenaged self-esteem had no idea.

After finishing high school, I gradually gained some curves and was thrilled to finally have boobs. The following years of tertiary study, partying and travelling saw the curves keep on coming, until I was no longer that skinny girl. It took some adjusting to, but I accepted it and began to view my amazonian-junk-full-of-trunk as the way I was meant to be.

And yet, here I am. A bit of careful eating and regular exercise... and I am almost the old skinny me again. It's a bizarre thing to get my head around, and when I catch glimpses of myself in shop window reflections, I'm often surprised to see the tall chick who no longer has bingo-lady-arms. People make jokes about having a 'fat' person inside, trying to get out. With me, it's almost a case of the opposite - who knew there was a former skinny girl still in me?

Last week, I went bra shopping for the first time in about a year. Walking around in my 36DD bras, I'd been feeling fraudulent for a number of months, knowing those DDs were half full of air. My poor boobs. They seemed so much smaller that I'd put off bra shopping, not wanting to know the truth about my newer size. Was I now a C, or even a B?

I was buying a few other things from Target, and on a whim decided to grab a handful of various bras to see what size might fit. That in itself was a novelty, as I haven't had much luck finding decent 36DD bras from Target in the past. Armed with various bras, I headed to the fitting room, bracing myself for whatever sad news was about to become official. I started off with a 36D bra, expecting the cups to be too big.

Boom! It fit like a glove. Thinking it might be a fluke, I tried another 36D on. Boom! Another glove.

I can't describe the purely vain relief I felt. Skinny girl, curvy girl, skinny again... whatever adjustments I've had to make in my own perceptions of my body size... drastically shrunken boobs wasn't part of the package in my mind. All my adult life, my ego has thoroughly loved and enjoyed having a good old rack. Even now, a little smaller, I'm happy that their overall shape has generally withstood the challenges of pregnancy, breastfeeding and weight loss. I've been very lucky. We all need at least one body part that we love and want to show off, right?

Yesterday, the Faery was playing with J's old phone, and took a photo of me as I was sitting in a chair. I assumed she was just using the regular camera app but a few hours later when I was browsing my feed on Instagram, there my portrait was - eek! She'd somehow managed to apply a filter as well, under J's Instagram account. Needless to say, that phone is going into lockdown mode with the apps, so she can't do worse damage. Anyhow, I was more than bemused when I saw the photo she'd taken. Who was that skinny chick? Look at those long legs unfolding out from under her, not unlike a praying mantis? It wasn't a flattering angle, but the photo could have been much worse. I just looked plain gangly, and reminiscent of the photos of me as a teenager.

Not sure where I'm going with this ramble. I just thought it was time to put down into words what has been happening to me, physically, this year. Also, it's important to acknowledge the way those physical changes are affecting the way I see myself, even if I do forget from time to time that I'm now a slimmer version - a Madeleine 3.0, I suppose.

Bring on autumn, and the new clothes I shall be requiring. Knitted, shorter dresses with boots, here I come...


  1. Congrats on reaching your health and fitness goals! As you pointed out, it is more about how you feel inside from having achieved something great. It's nice not to ache in the mornings and to feel that you are really living inside your body, not just dragging it through the day.

    I had no idea you had lost so much weight although clearly I can see the difference in your pics. You have always looked great to me but what is important here is that you feel happy with how you are and what you have done to get there.

    The body image thing is so difficult. I have been pondering whether or not to tackle it in blog form myself. It is something that has been and still is very much an issue for me.

    My life's focus has been learning to live inside my skin with acceptance and acknowledgement. My late teens and twenties were characterised by disordered eating and bouts with depression. I started to come out of it in my 30s but then some reproductive issues reignited many of those insecure and anxious feelings. I felt it was yet another way that I didn't measure up.

    I feel for the young women today - although I know that men are also not immune - as they are bombarded from everywhere with unrealistic images of the human form. I am very aware of how I speak to my children about weight and food. I have a dislike for the "anti-fat" messages that are bandied about so carelessly today. I think there is a better way and it is up to us as parents to guide our children wisely, not just by word but by example.

    Oh and great news about the cups! It's amazing what a correctly fitting bra can do. Heh. =)

    1. I'm sorry to hear that you've had your own struggles with disordered eating. It's not a path I've been down, but one that has been very close to home. I've watched several loved ones go through it badly, with hospitalisation and so on. It's terrible enough to witness the effects; can't imagine actually living the reality of it. I really do worry about my own girls' acceptance of their bodies once they hit adolescence. Society is so fucked up in that way, and I can't see it improving any time soon.

      F never even knew the word 'fat' until she started preschool, but it's not a word I let her use at home. I've explained that no matter what size a person is, they can feel really upset and sad if someone else calls them fat. I think she understands, as I haven't heard her describe anyone that way for a while now. Empathy starts at home, right?

  2. You weigh about 12 kilos more than me at the moment - and you're a foot taller. Ahhhhhh!

    Or what I meant to say was, you.are.awesome.

    You really are. And I LOVE that Instagram shot. You are all limbs but not in a gangly, awkward teen way. Nup, in a tall, slim, GORGEOUS way. The transformation is pretty amazing. And yet, like Mel said, you've always looked beautiful.

    I don't even want to think about cups half full and whatnot. Like you, my 'thing' is being racktastic. I can't imagine 3 breastfed babies will leave much of worth behind. Stay tuned...

    1. So sorry I didn't see this comment earlier! Blogger does something strange with comments for older posts, and I don't always see them for moderating/publishing. Must fix that.

      When you put the weight/height comparison like that, it makes me feel like I'm freakishly light! Truth is, though, there's no way I'd fit into a size 'small' (which I'm guessing you do). Tall or not, I'm just not small when it comes to waist and bum etc... I shudder to think how skeletal models must be. They're my height but fit into such tiny sizes. As it is, I feel like I'm on the bony side at the moment and I absolutely wouldn't want to get any lighter. Cannot imagine weighing 50-something kilos!

      Anyhow, ramble over. Thanks for the lovely words. I've been sorting through photos to get printed, from this time last year. I'm a little shocked (with pics of me) at the difference between then and now, I have to say.

      And with that, I'm off to eat some more Halloween treats...