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Saturday, June 11, 2005

Adjusting to a whole new world

Originally published June 11, 2005, in Our Town for the Tracy Press.

Before having gastric-bypass surgery, I loathed placing myself in the category of being overweight. I considered myself more active and more nutritionally educated than most of my peers, obese or not. I also thought I had more confidence than other women. I had a husband who never complained and thought I was gorgeous. I paid attention to my appearance and tried my best not to be slovenly.
Of course, the bigger I got, the less those things seemed important or even possible and the more I saw myself as a hopelessly obese person. I felt that there was no point trying to improve myself because it wasn’t possible or even worth the trouble.
Taking the elevator to my second-floor office became more of a necessity than an example of laziness. My knees just couldn’t handle lugging all 300-plus pounds of me up a single flight of stairs. Even getting out of my office chair to walk across the room to the printer seemed an impossible feat.
At home, things were no better. I stopped painting my toenails because I couldn’t reach my feet. Shaving my legs stopped being an absentminded shower habit and started requiring advanced planning. When would I have time to lock myself in the bathroom for hours as I tried to contort myself to reach hairy patches of skin with a sharp blade? To be truthful, I lost the energy to even think about shaving.
While others spent their weekends planning hiking, skiing or boating trips, I preferred to be a homebody who would rather go to dinner and a movie than the lake or anywhere outdoors. It’s not that my husband doesn’t enjoy the outdoors — he does. It’s that I have never had the self-assurance to actually enjoy the outdoors. Anyone whose thighs rub together can tell you how miserable being outside in the summer can be.
Beyond that, I’ve never felt comfortable using outdoor furniture. I would avoid picnics and barbecues because the white or green plastic patio furniture most people have wouldn’t fit me or, even worse, would break under my weight.
Being the life of the party is one thing, but being the person who gets laughed at because she broke a chair and fell to the ground is entirely different.
I know from experience.
So as I got bigger, my world became smaller. Now the reverse is occurring.
I’m losing weight at what feels like a rapid pace, and the world is opening up to me just as quickly. My husband and I are making plans for activities and getaways that I only dreamed about before. We’re talking about flying to New England in the fall to visit friends and see the leaves change color. That’s possible, because I won’t have to worry about fitting in an airplane seat anymore. And I hope to spend some time on a friend’s houseboat this summer. I’m even going swimsuit shopping this weekend to prove my willingness.
I know we’re going to be a much more social couple this year than ever before, and the prospect is equally scary and exciting. Doors are wide open for us, as if there’s a whole new life waiting for us out there.
It’s as if I have a chance to be a child again.Now that I don’t have to be as concerned about social catastrophes related to my size, I’m more willing to attend those backyard barbecues, picnics and houseboat parties. And who knows what that will lead to? For the first time in my life, I’m open to new adventures.

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