Monday, October 22, 2012

Bariatric Betty - Swimsuit Edition, 9 mo. post-op

OK, I'm feeling brave.  Still scared, but I figure if I can't share these pics here, where can I show them???

In January, after I had lost 25 pounds pre-op, my family went on a vacation to Kalahari Resort (a wonderful indoor waterpark).  I was wearing size 18/20 swimsuits then, and on our second day I asked my family to take some "before" pictures of me.  They weren't pretty.  I didn't expect they would be, but I wanted to document how I looked before surgery, and the swimsuit shots sure did that.  I didn't know if I would ever show these pictures to anyone, but figured if I did, it would be when I was at goal, and accompanied by new pictures of me in a smaller swimsuit. 

Fast forward 10 months.  I'm 9 months post-op and at my goal give or take a few pounds.  Finding swimsuits has gotten harder as I have lost weight, because my lower torso has lost weight and sizes quicker than my upper torso.  I have been wearing tankinis with different sized tops and bottoms to make sure that the bottoms wouldn't fall off and the tops would cover the girls.  Still, as my sizes have continued to change, I have had to go through several different suits to keep keep it that way.  After my most recent swim resulted in the girls starting to float up out of the top while I finished laps, I decided I had to do something drastic. 

I looked online for an athletic-cut suit that would provide decent support, would be a one piece, and would have a high enough neck that my chest would stay contained and compressed into place.  Given it being a one piece, the size would be tricky - my top is currently a 14/16 and my bottom is an 8.  I decided to forgo the skirt.  I have sagging extra skin on my thighs and below my rear, but that is what it is.  I wanted this swimsuit to swim laps with - not lounging by the pool.  When summer comes, I'll get a sarong or something. 

I found a swimsuit on by Aquasphere that seemed to fit the bill.  Higher neck, clip around the back like a bra, chlorine resistant... I was just worried about the fit.  After looking at the size chart several times I decided to try a size 10.  Any bigger and the leg holes would show way more than leg, any smaller and I knew the girls wouldn't fit.  Thank goodness they are a lot more compressable now!  It came in today and worked surprisingly well.  ***Unsolicited recommendation for other WLS women out there - the cut on this suit covers a lot of excess skin that other swimsuits don't. 

I showed it to my husband and kids and they all gave it the thumbs up.  My husband pointed out that the kids could now really see the extra skin on my legs and stuff, but that "Mommy's not embarassed about that, and that's cool."  I reinforced it saying "Yeah, it's kind of like having a scar after being shot - you're grateful to have survived and don't mind people noticing because it's a reminder that you survived.  All my fat got too small for my skin."  The kids kind of nodded and said "Yeah, it's nice." with prompting.  I started thinking maybe it was time to take the "after" pics but wasn't sure.   My husband thought I should just wear it around the house for the rest of the evening!  Hah!  I decided to go change.

I was on my way upstairs when someone rang the doorbell and without thinking I opened the door.  That poor election volunteer!  I'm sure she didn't expect to have a middle-aged woman wearing a swimsuit open up the door on an October evening in Ohio.  Oh, well.  I apologized and answered her questions.  When I closed the door I thought - well, if I can have a conversation with a total stranger in this swimsuit, I guess I'm as ready as I'm going to be.  So here we are; front and side views of before and after surgery.


I've lost over 70 pounds since the first picture was taken (I don't have a full length picture of myself in a swimsuit at my heaviest - but I think I'm grateful for that).  I've lost over 10 inches around my waist, 10 inches around my chest, even 5 inches from my thighs, 3 inches off my biceps and one cup size.  Whew.  Thanks for sharing this journey with me.  It's not over by any means - I will be working to continue to maintain my weight loss and improve my health (mental and physical) for the rest of my life.  And I'm so grateful to have this blog and my supportive readers.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Bariatric Betty's a shadow of her former self - PICS!

I'm blown away.  After seeing some pictures people had taken of them "wearing" a pair of pants they used to fit in pre-surgery by fitting both legs into 1 leg of the pants, I decided to try it.  So yesterday I dug through my old clothes and couldn't find any of my old size 20 pants - I donated a lot of clothes right after surgery.  But, I did find a pair of size 18 jeans and tried it.  It worked!  The funniest thing was that they were tightest around my calves and ankles, the THIGHS fit in easily.  So when I went to visit my father-in-law with my boys I had a documenting session.  This is the picture my son Justin took of me!

Seriously?  Holey cow. 

So, the second part of my documenting was the body tracing.  Flashback: the weekend before my surgery, my younger son Ian and I were talking and I realized that even though I thought I had explained the surgery really well to him, he thought I would be coming home from the hospital skinny, or at least signifigantly smaller!  So, in an effort to explain the reality, I laid down on a piece of posterboard and had him trace my torso.  Then I filled in some of the internal organs involved in red (a little hard for you to see on the pink posterboard, but it worked for him and that's who I made it for).  Then I used a blue marker to show where the cuts would be made on my skin, and what the surgeon would do on the inside.  Then I explained that when I got home, the outline of my body would still be the same, that is would take months of my new eating and exercise for it to get smaller.   I ended up cutting it out yesterday and laid it against a blue background.

About 5 months post-op I was curious to see how my "new" body would compare to the old one, so I laid down on the pink posterboard again and had my son trace me again.  That's the smaller outline you can see inside.  I was surprised (and pleased) to see that it had changed that much at that point.  Then I decided that when I had reached my equivalent of "goal weight" (my doctor never set a number, but I had suggested being in the 150s and he thought that was great) I would do it again.  That evolved into thinking that I would have my son trace me again on a different piece of posterboard and cut it out so I could lay it over the old me. 

Now I'm in the 140s (never really thought that could happen 8 months ago) and my guess is this is pretty close to my final weight.  I'm down to 28.3 % body fat I would like to see that go down a little (healthy is considered 25), but I think that will be more turning fat into muscle, so the scale won't change that much.  95 pounds down from my initial weight.  So, time for the tracing! 

OK, I have to say that my son's tracing must have angled in under my muffin top, my chest, and the rest of me, and apparently when I lay down my bat wings go underneath the rest of my arm.  I considered having him retrace me and tell him to try to make sure the chalk went straight down - there were a couple spots that his tracing seemed to have two different tracks (I cut on the larger one).  But then I decided no - he had done all the other tracings of me without directions like that - he might have been angling those as well.  So you can see from my picture at the top that my arms are not stick-like - so take this as more as a perspective, not reality - but WOW!

So after I spent a while wrapping my head around THIS I realized something else.  I lost 30 pounds BEFORE the pink one was made.  My pink self could have been BIGGER.

This shows me as literally a shadow of my former self.  But I don't see myself as a shadow.  I see myself as distilled, or concentrated.  The essence of me, with the excess and unneccesary boiled away by walking, jogging, swimming.  I am distilled.  I am high proof.