Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Thoughts on Losing Weight

I've already shared a little bit about some side effects of my current medication. The one I didn't really talk about was how it causes me to lose weight.  Why? because I know as soon as I go to complain about getting skinny - I lose all sympathy from all women, everywhere. (Including my former, occasional dieting self)

I used to be on this medication before so I know the drill well (and it's repeating again this time) and it goes something like this....

*wake up tired, because the sleep/wake regulator of my brain was damaged in the accident and I don't sleep really, at all, ever.
*wake up in pain, because I'm always in pain
*feed myself with what feels like herculean effort - despite the fact that I'm often nauseated (and still tired and in pain)
*continue with this cycle of saying things like "How did it get to be six o'clock? I probably need to eat some more. Or maybe I can wait till Neil gets home so I don't need to make anything."
*lose weight because my medication increases my metabolism

Unfortunately being skinny while on Topamax is not necessarily synonymous with feeling healthy. And I quickly get sensitive to the snide comments from women that tend to go like this.. "wow. I wish I could lose weight like that too." Because my weight comes at a cost and I would trade anyone 40 pounds and their healthy brain any day for them to have just an hour in my shoes. Does that sound bitter? I hope not, I'm trying not to be.

This was especially difficult around the time of my wedding, when I was working very hard to put on at least five pounds so my dress would fit and I would be back into a 'healthy' weight category. Meanwhile, wedding blogs and fellow brides were diet obsessed. I wanted to shake these friends that felt that their beach honeymoon would be better with a better body - when that kind of honeymoon was inconceivable in my condition. (sorry friends, please remember that I'm sleep deprived but I do love you and your nice honeymoons and look fine with those 5 pounds, it's all good)

the article this photo came from:

I also become sensitive because I work hard to make the best choices I can for my body hoping my mind will follow. The vast majority of what I eat is non-processed, healthy food. The vast majority of my days involve some sort of exercise - despite how much more painful that exercise may be. I do put in great deal of effort.

I've seen both sides though - about a year ago I went off Topamax and I slooowly gained over 20 pounds in that year. To be honest, part of it was hard to see numbers creep up and not know when they'd stop, but another part was just fine by me. I was eating really well and training for a half marathon at the time and I was in really good shape. I feel I settled into what was a healthy weight for my height and so gaining weight ended up being a good thing.

Now I'm back on the drug and losing again, oh the ups and downs of weight. If I lost your sympathy in the beginning, maybe I can get a little back with claiming the 'yo-yo' issue?

My pre-accident self would have LOVED to drop some pounds and probably associated a lot of happiness with pant size. My current self feels a little bit of panic at how to find ways to eat enough calories - that are still 'good' calories - and not dip into an underweight BMI like I did last time I was on this medication. (I've been getting lax on the healthy part and eating a lot of cheeses and snacking a lot just to keep up - I had a 'won't hold back' policy this holiday season and I still lost 8 pounds!)

My pre-accident self would have longed for someone to notice when I lost a hard earned dress sized. My current self wants to lash out and cry when anyone comments on my appearance, because looking 'good' and feeling 'good' are not the same for me.

When recently sharing my medication side effects with someone they said "I was gonna say - saw a picture of you from years ago and man, you lost weight! You look really good now!" It took all I had to lash out at this poor, unsuspecting friend and tell her that "my past 'heavier' girl didn't hurt and you aren't allowed to say bad things about her because I want her back."

I have some friends that are losing weight and feeling really good. Its a positive thing. I hesitate to comment though. On one hand I always thought they were absolutely beautiful - plus, I've grown to disdain comments on weight. On the other hand, I feel remiss in not saying anything because I know they're making hard and healthy choices.

In the end, I'm realizing it doesn't matter as much as I used to think it did. I see pictures of me as a kid and remember thinking at that time I was fat in that outfit - but the girl in the photo is not fat, just pretty and disillusioned. There are ups and downs to both sides of the coin and I think that Tina Fey (in her book Bossypants) wraps it all up in a much better way than I ever could....

"Remembrances of Being Very Very Skinny
For a brief time at the turn of the century, I was very skinny. This is what I remember about that period.
• I was cold all the time.
• I had a pair of size-four corduroy short shorts. That I wore. To work. In the middle of Manhattan.
• I loved it when people told me I was getting too thin.
• I once took a bag of sliced red peppers to the beach as a snack.
• I regularly ate health food cookies so disgusting that when I enthusiastically gave one to Rachel Dratch she drew a picture of a rabbit and broke the cookie into a trail of tiny pieces coming out of the rabbit’s butt.
• Men I had met before suddenly paid attention to me . . . and I hated them for it.
• Sometimes I had to sleep with a pillow between my legs because my bony knees clanking together kept me awake.
• I had a lot of time on my hands because I wasn’t constantly eating.
• I ran three miles a day on a treadmill six days a week.
• I felt wonderfully superior to everyone.
• I didn’t have a kid yet.
We should leave people alone about their weight. Being skinny for a while (provided you actually eat food and don’t take pills or smoke to get there) is a perfectly fine pastime. Everyone should try it once, like a super-short haircut or dating a white guy.
Remembrances of Being a Little Bit Fat
For a brief time at the end of that last century I was overweight. This is what I remember about that period.
• My boobs were bigger.
• I once left a restaurant in the middle of dessert to get to Krispy Kreme before it closed.
• Even though I only liked McDonald’s fries, I believed it was more nutritious to make a meal of it and have two cheeseburgers as well.
• If I was really ambitious, I would get a Whopper Jr at Burger King and then walk to McDonald’s to get the fries. The shake could be from anywhere.
• I could not run a mile.
• I wore oversize men’s overalls that I loved.
• Guys who were friends did not want to date me . . . and I hated them for it.
• On at least three occasions, I vomited on Christmas Eve from mixing chocolate, peel-and-eat shrimp, summer sausage and cheese. No alcohol was involved.
• As a size 12, I took pride that I was “real woman”-sized. “Size 12 is the national average,” I would boast, “no matter what magazines try to tell you.”
• Once, while ironing in my underwear, I grazed my protruding belly with the hot iron.
We should leave people alone about their weight. Being chubby for a while (provided you don’t give yourself diabetes) is a natural phase of life and nothing to be ashamed of. Like puberty or slowly turning into a Republican."


  1. My dear, you don't need to tiptoe around this issue like you're going to offend every woman in the world. This is your story, it's just part of your road to healing & no one in the world should be offended by that.

    And for the record, you've been beautiful every day that I've known you... from our first year of apprentice to now & every time in between. Love you!!!

  2. This is such a honest post about such a complicated issue. After battling an eating disorder for over 7 years, these are the thoughts that go through my head on a daily, heck minute by minute, basis. It's so comforting to know that others feel the same way. You put into words perfectly the things I try to explain to others.

    I have always thought you were beautiful. I remember when I was younger, I I was so envious of your curves and couldn't wait until I looked like you!

    Stay strong!

  3. Allison, thank you so much for sharing that. I had no idea this was a struggle for you - I think its hovers under the surface of so many of our minds. For all the good things there are about social media, one of its failings is the perpetuated guise that everyone else has it all together (which makes it so refreshing, those moments we learn aren't alone in our thoughts). For the record, you are stunning as well and I'm so impressed by the path you have taken in life!

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