Wednesday, 7 October 2015

When you go backwards

That post that I said I'd write...

It's taken me a while to get the courage to sit down with my iPad and begin typing. I move between feeling confident and comfortable to share: (these moments heightened when I get hits of inspiration from other people who are brave and open in similar ways); to getting clammed up and timid from being disappointed when I'm reminded of the ignorance of some people in our society.

But ultimately I've never held back on this blog before, and when I compare the ignorant people who will possibly never try to understand anything outside of their own realm, ------ to people like my gorgeous 12WBT 30+ crew, and anyone else like myself who battle with their weight, it makes me be a little more brave. Because I think I'd rather stand up and share my experiences in the hope of making one similar person feel less alone, even if that means risking an internet troll making ill-conceived judgements. 

Besides: people who are in similar situations like me could possibly stumble across my blog, whereas the other people probably never will. :)

So this is sort of a Part 2 to this post.

I was talking about how it's been so hard to pull myself back up. Trying to lose weight is usually a hard game regardless: making an effort with calories / energy in and out requires focus at the best of times. And when you've fallen as many times as I have, standing up over and over: well, it's taxing.

I think there's a big difference in being on a weight loss mission for the first time, and being on a weight loss mission after 37 attempts. They're essentially the same in principle: the 'science' of losing weight of course carries the same guidelines no matter how many times you've tried before. But unlike the air of innocent excitement and apprehension you get on the first time you give it a red hot go, when you're early days into attempt #38, you have a very unique, added, self pressure.

Now it's possible I'm only talking for myself, but from things I've read and friends I've spoken to, it's likely I'm not alone here. That being, that the basis of the 'try again' pain is different to the 'first time' pain. This time round, you not only have weight to lose; you're also beating yourself up because you know better than to be in this situation! This time you know how to do it - you have personal, tangible proof of this. So why can't you get it together? Surely you should have by now. The more you beat yourself up on this, the more difficult it gets. And the more difficult it gets, the more you beat yourself up.

I know of so many people who are beside themselves, because they've put on some, all, or more of the weight that they lost. I feel 'lucky' that I'm in the 'some' category, knowing how upset that even 'some' makes me feel.

But for me, what makes this stage even worse, are the increasing glimpses I've been having into my 'pre-weight loss journey' self. I wrote this blog post in the first month or so of the start of my journey, and I haven't read it since. Not even when it went a little bit nuts in the media earlier this year.

I don't feel the need to read it again - I know what's there, and I've moved on. I basically listed all of the little moments that caused me to want to lose weight. It was the 'tough stuff' - my reasons for choosing to change. I didn't have One Horrifying Moment like the standard shocking holiday photo or the broken chair that snap a lot of people into action. Instead I had a million little moments.

So lately what has been so hard, is experiencing some of those moments, all over again...because I thought I'd moved past these things...

When you lose a lot of weight, you gain so much. There's so many things that become easier, nicer, more 'normal' to do, feel, see. They're what we call NSV's: Non Scale Victories. Some of us share them on social media, sometimes we tell our friends, sometimes we just have a little contented internal glee moment, where we walk around with a stupid grin on our face, or snap a picture of an inanimate object that means something to us. I have a camera roll filled with pictures of vehicles, furniture, textiles, clothing and body parts that only I know what each means.

But when you put on some (or all, or more), of that weight, some of these moments come back....and let me say, they are twice as hard, the second time around.

When I was at my biggest (141kg) and would have my blood pressure taken, doctors and nurses would ultimately always use the 'XL' Adult size arm cuff. It used to upset me - (mainly because I genuinely believed that the 'average' Adult size Velcro would stay on when they pumped it up, if they'd only give it a go!) But also of course, because, well hey - it's not fun needing the XL size. They'd often have to go searching for it too, which made me feel more freakshow.

But one day into my weight loss, a doctor used the Average size cuff... very casually, like they would most patients. It may have been an unassuming, casual move from that particular doc, but inside I was doing flip flops! OMG! I took a sneaky photo of said Average arm cuff, and the next time, the doctor / nurse used an Average one again...and the next time, and the next... It soon became the norm, (so norm that I eventually stopped feeling the need to take excited sneaky photos each time it happened!)

But recently; I think it was when I was donating blood, during my donor pre-assessment, the nurse went fishing around for the XL cuff. I was partly horrified, partly annoyed (because she had to really search, which drew it out and made it feel worse), and partly unjustifiably angry: inside I was screaming "what are you doing?! I'm an Average cuff now! I used to be XL, but I'm not any more!"

As much as I hated it in the past, it felt so much worse this time around, because I'd previously worked hard and moved into Average cuff territory, and I thought that was my new norm. Going backwards doesn't feel so good...

There's been so many other moments like that lately. Which makes sense: that's what happens when you put on weight! 
Although, it may make sense, but it feels like shit.

While losing weight, I had so many 'aeroplane seatbelt photos'. The cool part of flying when getting smaller, was seeing how much extra length I had after doing the belt up. When I was 141kg, the seatbelts would always do up, but only from me having to breathe in and almost strain my arm muscles in an attempt to clasp the buckle. The belt would be so tight that it would feel like I was constricting blood flow to my limbs, and I would end up with red marks across my body from the tightness. I would drape my jumper or jacket across the top to hide it until I could release it and breathe again.

So as I lost weight, my blood flow got healthier lol, and I started gaining extra length in the seatbelts. You know, that flappy, extra length that you don't need?  The longer the flap, the more rewarding!

When I started to gain length, I started taking photos. I shared some on social media, I think several times - and photographed so many more. It never got old. I have so many photographs of my lap- it's a bit strange!

But over the past 18 months as I've slowly put on some of the weight, and battled to get rid of it plus more, I've lost seatbelt length. It's been a slow process of course: I guess I noticed the length was getting smaller, but not to a worrying degree. Until on a recent flight, I took this photo after I landed. That's my belt on the bottom, and the standard length on the top. I needed to use the entire length to do mine up...I currently have no flap.

The all-black-clothes situation has also come back to haunt me. At my biggest, all of the clothes on my washing line would be black. I wore top to toe black, and really only had 1 or 2 outfits that I felt comfortable wearing. They were my safe clothes. My safe clothes could do me for work, casual and semi formal, changed ever so slightly. It's all I wore.

Then, the more weight I lost, the more colourful my washing line became. But recently, I realised that my lines are mostly all black again. Colourful underwear doesn't count, and that's really all there is...

Feeling anxious walking alongside traffic and crossing at lights has come back, too. When I was 141kg, I would get so socially anxious crossing a street, imagining what motorists would be thinking of me. Those feelings have started coming back. I mentioned recently about how I was trying to park halfway between work and home, so that I'd get in km's of 'incidentally planned' exercise. 

I hadn't done it for a few weeks and didn't feel like doing it again, at all. It did take 1 hour each way, so practicality wise, it was hard. But moreso, it was because 55min of that hour was spent walking alongside heavy traffic, and crossing between 3 major intersections (five ways). 

The busy streets were hard enough, but each time I reached one of those intersections, I would feel so anxious: my heart would beat like crazy and I would often dig my fingernails into my hands or clench my fists to distract me. It was like gritting your teeth to help you block everything out.

Last week I realised it wasn't worth the agony I was putting myself through, so I decided not to do that walking for now. I quickly came up with a second best option: parking a little closer. The new parking location would mean only a 30min walk each way, and it would avoid 1 of the 3 intersections (my least favourite one).

I tested it out last Monday. I really thought I would be ok, but it was almost as awful as the longer walk. On the way from my car I said to myself it's just not worth it, and decided I probably wouldn't do it again. The walk back to my car was a little easier though, so I haven't decided against it yet. I also thought of another parking location that might work and would mean I'd only have 1 intersection, and still take about 30min. I tried it for the first time today - I coped, but it wasn't fun. It's such a fine line, between doing something that makes you feel so anxious; and being brave and pushing through the painful stuff to get the results that you want. 

There's so many little things that are getting harder again. I get concerned about chairs breaking from under me again: I've gone back to having to choose my chair choices wisely. Some chairs I actually don't fit in! 

Clothes are an issue: I'm not only choosing all black because black hides, but because that's all that fits me these days. All my beautiful clothes I was wearing have been temporarily put to the side again. Other items that still fit, dig in or cause blow out bulging. 

My fitness has decreased, but worse than my fitness is my flexibility. That's probably what I'm struggling with the most. It took me a while to realise this. I've had so many injuries and body issues that have been limiting what I can do. I'm so used to attributing my limitations to these injuries.  But after a while I finally realised that some of the things I can't do are nothing to do with them, but everything to do with my current size and ensuing cumbersome flexibility.

Probably the worst 'reminder' moment I've had was recently when I was in Bali on holiday. I've only told two people about this - I haven't even talked about it with the friends I was with at the time. (So, in true Kate style, I share with the entire internet!)

It was my last day in Bali, and we were driving around different places, in our drivers van. Our lovely driver pulled up at an auto spare parts shop, and explained to us that we had a flat tyre. The shop didn't have what he needed, so we drove to another auto shop, and another. I think it must have been flat from a compression point of view, rather than being flat and broken from being split or pierced, as he was still able to drive.

I was already feeling a bit uneasy, but tried to ignore my overactive, imaginative gut.  We ended up not being able to fix it straight away, so our driver said we could continue on and he'd fix it later. But before we drive on, he asked me to swap sides of the van.

I'd been sitting in the back left corner of the van, with my 23kg suitcase right behind me; both me and it, sitting right over the problem tyre.
Photo I took while in the van, feeling horrified
I acted smiley and normal and of course agreed, all big smiles and unassuming chatter.  But inside I was in shock.  I swapped sides and we continued driving until they dropped me at the airport a little later on.

I was so horrified that I couldn't say a word. Years ago I was asked a couple of times to swap sides of cars to "even out tyre pressure", and its always been one of those things that hurt me, or got to me more than others. And if it wasn't bad enough that it was happening at all, like the other stuff I just mentioned, it was happening again.

I know my worth is not judged on flappy seatbelt lengths or Average sized blood pressure cuffs, but this fact is literally of no comfort because when it comes down to the crunch, these things don't feel good.  I know I'm a good person.  But worthy human or not, this stuff feels like shit.

Obviously all of these things are in my control to change: and that's what I'm in the middle of doing - however imperfectly. I guess I just wrote this post to help others in my position feel less alone...and to share how stuff feels. Because when I, or someone, is going on a journey that seems to take forever, or when they have put back on some of the weight and are on Attempt #87, this is possibly how it feels for them.

Sometimes I think it feels like a funny zip back to the past - (or is that back to the future?) to remember how things felt.  It's like "hmm, I'm not sure whether I truly remember how awful it felt back then; so let's experience it again to remind myself, how I don't want things to be...."

One positive thing is, it's like total brand new scope for new 'Before' photos!!  I used to commiserate with "weight loss friends" that we never had enough 'Before' photos to use in Instagram collages.  Here's a fix!  Just pile on the weight again and take some new ones!

Sometimes I write this blog and think "really Kate?  You're sharing this, with the World Wide Web?"  And this post is no exception.  Yes, it's brutally wearing my heart on my sleeve.  Writing stuff like this feels like I'm posting a naked photo of myself on the internet.  But, like the rest of my blog, I can only keep it real.

There's such a misconception out there, that everyone should lose weight at a text book pace, and keep it off.

People like this do exist, and these people are my idols.

But for a lot of us, the reality is starkly different.  And that's why I wanted to share, as this is just part of the story.

Some of us do falter big time.  The old feelings and occurrences start to reappear, one by one, and they feel even worse than before.  We don't want to admit it to ourselves - it's like a hands over ears "la la la not listening!" moment.  But I think once we do accept that it's just part of our story, it gives us the confidence to keep going.

Yeah I wish I was like those people I mentioned above, who work hard, and get there and don't go backwards.  But I'm not one of these people. :)

Whether you've put on some, all, or more of your lost weight, just know that you're not alone.  I know it sux.  But the only way to fix it (if you want), is to keep trying, every day.  We'll probably learn more from doing it this haphazard way.  Maybe it will take you 6412 attempts.  Maybe just 6.  You only truly fail if you stop trying.  We'll all be able to waltz confidently down the street in our colourful clothes again, don't you worry.
This is just part of the story.
Just start moving in the direction you want to go: that's all you need to do to be on the path you want. 
When you've smelt how beautiful the rose garden is, you'll find a way to get yourself back.


  1. Oh Kate - I feel all of this at the moment too....the backwards steps have become my norm again and with only 4.5 weeks till my brothers wedding I now know I'll be in pants and a top not a dress like I wanted to wear a year ago when my future sis in law and I giggled about omg imagine what I'll look like at their wedding.....I hope you too know you are not alone :) as long as we keep picking ourselves up we will get there eventually xxoo

  2. Oh Kate honey there will be so many people nodding along you are definitely not alone. And as the weight is coming back and you finally realize it, panic sets in. And it doesn't help when people say 'you know what to do you've done it before'. That doesn't help!!!! So I'm hearing you completely loud and clear as I'm trying to get my mind back into the right space too. Continued strength to you Kate. You are a fighter.

  3. No words other than sending you love and strength. Keep going x