It’s been a crazy couple of years socially speaking. A year and a half ago, my husband and I opened our marriage. A few months before we came to that decision, I was the heaviest I’d been in my whole life. It was riddled with intense pain so crippling that I couldn’t walk across a room without wincing, cringing, grunting in pain, and sitting down quickly for an extended rest. I would sprain my ankle routinely in my normal daily routine. At 5 feet 6 inches, I weighed well over 300 pounds. I’ve never been a terribly visual person with regard to other people and have struggled with some degree of body dysmorphia my whole life, and self-love and body acceptance were things I’d worked extensively on – to the point where I’d completely tuned out the weight gain, and before I realized what had happened, this pseudo-zen disconnect with my body coupled with my penchant for amazing servings of Hamburger Helper and Doritos had made me in a prisoner in my own body.
One day, I couldn’t take it anymore. As I often transcribe notes for a bariatric medicine group as part of my job, I was well acquainted with the process of gastric bypass surgery. However, instead of beginning that process, I wanted to give diet and exercise a full-fledged effort. I figured if that alone didn’t work, then I would enroll in the bariatric surgery program (Contrary to what I hear a lot of people say, I don’t view gastric bypass as the “easy way” out. It’s a multistep process, and actually quite a lot of work goes into it on the part of the patient. It was more that I’ve never had surgery and didn’t want to start now unless I absolutely had to – that and the commitment to permanent anatomical changes in my digestive tract made me nervous.). Still I wanted to give it extreme effort – so I wanted a very strict diet that would be safe for someone of my size. I took the diet that the nutritionists put gastric bypass patients on in the months leading up to the surgery and modified it to be lower carb and higher in healthy fats but still with very controlled calories and portions. I also bought myself an exercise bike and started to only let myself watch TV shows while I was riding it.
The weight peeled off me.
Twenty-one months later, I’ve lost over 130 pounds. I’ve gone from a size 26 to a 12. As cliché as it might sound, I really do feel like a different person—and what a head trip it’s been to be dating as a polyamorous person in a rural area during this time. In the beginning, I couldn’t pay someone to make out with me. I went to a New Years party this weekend and was propositioned multiple times for quick side room romps and had to physically pull drunkenly amorous friends off me (I was the designated driver), who nevertheless managed to get in a quick grope or kiss or two before I could react. I’ve actually had to reject potential relationships on the basis that I’m too busy for anybody new right now. The “full plate” as it were. I am one of the thinnest women in my exercise class (!!). Sure, by the scale and my BMI, I’m apparently still 40+ pounds overweight and technically obese, but I would be thrilled to lose another 20, and frankly I’m pretty comfy physically at this size – and people are acting like I’m physically attractive.
Recently I’ve even come to the point where it’s starting to sink in that I’m not over 300 pounds anymore, that this has really happened, and I’m at a relatively healthy weight, well under 200 pounds. As thrilled as I am about the healthy changes I’ve made, it disturbs me how much less attractive I was perceived by others even 50 pounds ago. It hardly seems fair. There are so many great people out there who are simply not given a chance on this basis. And I know a lot of people are simply not attracted to heavier people, so I’m not trying to lay blame (perhaps simple biology is to blame), only to express my sadness for the fact that there are those who are alone or stuck in abusive relationships (thinking they can’t get anything better) simply because of their size or health status.
On another note even though I have lost quite a significant amount of weight, I am a very busty woman at any size. At my highest weight, my back hurt – a lot. At this weight and with plenty of exercise, I have virtually no back pain (not any more than anyone else my age anyway) despite the fact that I am still rather well endowed. Last night I was chatting online with a friend when she casually mentioned that she was watching a documentary about breast reduction – and I immediately became defensive and tweaked out a little. This was totally psycho of me and completely uncalled for as she was just telling me what she was watching (something she typically does with all sorts of programs). I realized then that the words “breast reduction” are basically a self-destruct code for me.
I don’t know how many times over the course of my life people have recommended breast reduction to me, told me their own personal stories, asked me if I’d looked into it. I know they’re trying to be helpful, that they’re coming from a good place – but I don’t complain about my breasts. They really don’t bother me, and they’re part of my identity, good, bad, or indifferent. I’ve been a D cup since I was 11, and it never seemed to me as big of a deal as everyone made it out to be. I don’t have a problem with it – but when people offer their unsolicited opinions, they make me feel like they think my body shape is a problem, and honestly, it hurts. I can’t imagine walking up to a really overweight person you’re just getting to know and telling them they should get a gastric bypass. For some reason, culturally breast reduction is a more polite thing to recommend.
My big boobs are just a feature of me, not a disease that needs to be cured.