Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bariatric Betty's Batwings and Blessings

A reality of bariatric weight loss (or any huge weight loss) is loose skin.  Our bodies and skin have had to stretch to accommodate too much excess body mass, and the skin can simply not snap back.  It is beyond stretch marks.  It is flaps of skin that must be managed.  For appearances, we learn to stand certain ways (for example, arms are usually down, or at least close to our sides), some enjoy body shapers like Spanx to compress the excess skin around our abdomen, and some have to deal with skin infections that we become prone to with the folded skin.  Think about the care that owners of Sharpei dogs have to put into cleaning the folds of skin on their dogs.  Now imagine that the dogs wear clothing over their folded skin, which traps the dead skin cells, sweat, and bacteria in the folds.  I have been very lucky to have only minor problems with my "skrinkles" as we call them.  No infections.  But still, it has a psychological effect on me.  Every morning I see my flaps around my arms, abdomen, butt, and legs.  Most of the time I find it amusing.  Sometimes I find it awesome -"Wow - that all used to be filled with fat!".  Sometimes I am surprised - "Huh, there's a new fold there!".  Yes, muscle-building and weight training helps give the rest of my body a better shape, but to fill up all the excess skin I have now, I would need to bulk up like a world champion weight lifter/ Popeye. 

I took some pictures of my bicep to give an example.  This is what my arms look like when I'm wearing a bathing suit and my arms are down.

Pretty normal, right?  And this is what my bicep looks like when I hold it out...
I lost about 6 inches around my bicep.  So, I now have 6 extra inches of skin hanging down.  Well, I guess it's three inches folded.  I have the same kind of flaps around my waist that give me a totally different version of a "muffin top".  And then there are the folds under my non-existent butt.  It's so flat it's practically concave now, but has these lovely little folds right under where your underwear stops.  Hee-hee, under where your underwear...  Anyway - those actually give me the most trouble.  They are the smallest flaps of skin I have, but they rub against each other the most when I'm sitting down, squatting, etc - and I get patches of dry skin/ eczema there now.  Oh, and you won't be seeing pictures of any of those flaps ;)
I also have trouble sitting down on soft chairs or bucket seats, because the padding that I used to have on my behind is pretty much gone.  My tailbone is now very prominent, and gets very sore.  In a soft seat it is pressed on immediately - I literally can't stand driving in my car for over a 1/2 hour now.  On a hard chair that is flat, I can lean forward a bit and keep the pressure off.  I ended up buying a firm chair pad with a space cut out for your coccyx/ tailbone that I used sitting at our table now, and for longer car rides.  Mostly, I try to think of it as a blessing, because it makes me not want to sit around on my A** that much, so I stay more active!
Speaking of blessings, I am happy to say that I have now signed up for a mini-triathalon and 2 5ks in April!  The mini-tri is at our local rec center on April 7th.  Instead of seeing how fast you can run/ bike/ or swim, they time you and you see how FAR you can go in the set time.  15 minutes for the swim, 20 for the bike (on spinning bikes) and 20 for the run/ jog.  It's all indoors, which is a good thing for Cleveland in the spring.  The two 5ks are the 14th and the 27th.  The first is the Cleveland Clinic Health and Wellness Run/Walk here in Solon.  The second is The Color Run in Akron.  I can't believe how my life has changed since bariatric surgery.  I didn't used to be able to run or jog at all, and now I realize I can handle racing two weekends in a row. 
I haven't been jogging as much due mostly to bad weather.  A couple of days I have taken advantage of dry ice-free sidewalks and jogged 2 miles, and found that I don't even break a sweat!  Weird, but cool.  We have an excellent rec center with an indoor track that I can jog at, but recently I've been making other choices.  I started doing some upper body weight training, but mostly when I'm there with my kids, I have had to start staying with them in the gym.  My 12 year old pictures himself as a b-baller who can play with the high school boys, and tries to.  Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't.  There have been a couple incidents of bullying, so now when my boys want to play basketball at the rec we sit there and watch like a hawk.  There was one older kid who threatened to whip my son with his jump rope when his basketball rolled over and interrupted his rope skipping.  And there was the high school student who threw the ball into my sons head three times in a couple minutes.  The rest of the time it's great, and we're there just in case we see something out of line and then we can let the rec admin know.  Playing street rules (instead of rec league rules) with people 4-6 years older than you means you WILL be knocked down.  He doesn't quite get that yet, so we're working encouraging him to play with kids his own age. 
Luckily, I'm still getting plenty of steps in with walking daily (my job helps with that), and my weight is stable, shifting +/- 2 pounds.  Looking forward to Spring Break, and our first trips to Universal Studios and Sea World!

No comments:

Post a Comment