surreal

I had what was a surreal experience for me. Some dude flirted with me. It was a week ago when I went to Homeland to wire some money to my son in Peru. It was more odd than surreal but there was a feeling of “this is not happening in real life.” It wasn’t a big deal,  there was nothing to it and I imagine this sort of smarmy dude probably flirts with every female from 20 to 60.  He did back up a little when my husband showed up, which amused me a little.

It happened again today, we had a substitute mail carrier today, a male. Our usual carrier s a woman,  she’s friendly and kind of chatty and  I always say hi to her when she comes in. I said hi to the sub before I realized he wasn’t the Mail Lady and commented on that. He smiled and said there was only a little difference between them, that he was a little taller and held up his forefinger and thumb to show me the difference. He asked if we had any outgoing mail and lingered a second before leaving.  Again, no big deal, no harm, no foul.

It’s the sort of thing most women are accustomed to, casual flirting that means nothing and is easily forgettable. Except it’s not something I’m used to. It didn’t make e angry, I didn’t feel threatened or anything except “WTF?” When I weighed 39 pounds more it did not happen, so  I am surprised when it does.

Lest anyone think I am complaining or bragging I’m not. If anything I am confused.  I know people respond more favorably to those they consider attractive.  Babies do it and adults do it too, I admit I do it myself. And people in this time and place, in the Western world consider thin the standard of what’s attractive. The thinner the better in some cases, but heavy or overweight people are not normally cited as being attractive unless it’s an exception. Even the standard of what’s considered “heavy” is debatable. I could do a whole screed about the misleading, dangerous and infuriating effects  body image has on people, particularly women and how it twists our beliefs about ourselves. But the gist is fat=unattractive. I am still technically overweight, according to the BMI standard.

When I prepared for my bypass surgery I had to make an appt. with a psychiatrist. He asked me questions about what I expected the surgery to do, what  hoped to achieve by having the surgery and asked about my eating habits and relationship with food, particularly if I was a binge eater. I  said I hoped to be healthier and live longer, to finally kick diabetes’ metaphorical ass (not in those exact words).  I also mentioned something my husband said, that other men would be flirting with me now and how he’s a jealous man. He said this in a joking way and I remember rolling my eyes when he did. The psychiatrist surprised me by saying that was a real possibility, not that I would be seeking attention from other people but that they would respond to me. Especially if I felt better about myself and my appearance, that people will pick up on that. I’d be changing, not just how I looked but how I interacted with people, that many bariatric patients become more confident after losing weight. Some people even find the strength to leave abusive relationships, to try new things they only dreamed about and make major changes in their lives. He admitted some make lousy choices  but overall the effects were positive.

I don’t consider myself particularly attractive,  I am a middle-aged woman who was no beauty when I was young and time hasn’t helped. I also noticed another phenomenon. When I was bigger other women seemed to like me because they looked better compared to me. I could tell by their faces, “I may be getting fat but thank god I’m not as huge as that.” Or “Well, I’m prettier than her.” It’s how some women judge themselves and others, looks are important to us whether we want to admit it or not. It’s more important to some people than others, particularly women who work hard to achieve and maintain their beauty. It’s how they perceive their worth.  But some of those women who were friendly and smiled at me because I made them feel better and more secure are not as friendly now. I’ve seen them, a couple, appraising me like a piece of merchandise and not being pleased that I’m not as fat as they remembered. I’m no threat to them or anyone, I am not the second coming of Salma Hayek. She’s got nothing to fear from me.  My husband doesn’t need to worry about the mailman or the Homeland dude either. But if that mailman looked like Enrique Iglesias…

The whole thing has surprised me and frankly it’s made me think about how I perceive people. Pretty things over plain catch our eye and packaging makes a difference whether we’re talking about people, yogurt or wrapping paper.   I don’t think I can change human nature but I can be more aware of how I react to what I see.

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Half-way point

I’m a little more than halfway to my goal. I realized this the other day and it surprised me. I had been feeling a little cranky about my weight loss slowing down and that I haven’t seen any dramatic changes in my body lately. I also have to add I haven’t been working out like I should either so it’s my fault too.

This occurred to me in yoga class. I was able to do a modified handstand, using the wall to support my short stubby legs. This.

handstand

The last time we did this in class I came crashing down and couldn’t keep my feet off the ground. This time I was one of the few who did the pose and held that sucker. I didn’t hold it for 30 seconds like she recommends but I remember thinking, “Holy cow,  I am doing this.” I’m able to stretch a little more and don’t need a block to modify my poses any more, well, very rarely. I’m even thinking of taking another class, maybe the Vinyasa flow, something beyond the beginner’s class. My next goal is to buy my own mat, I saw some at Barnes and Noble and might see what they have. I feel funny about buying something so non-literary as a yoga mat there, how I often looked down on people who came into my old bookstore and went to look at the t-shirts or coffee mugs we were forced to sell and ignored the books. I’ve become what I hated. Sort of. I may buy a book too so I don’t look like a total poser.

I did the math and yes, according to what my doctor has recommended, I’m halfway there. I’m currently between sizes, I can fit into the smaller size but the bigger size is loose but not that loose. Tonya told me last week “Are you wearing those pants for all of us?” I didn’t get it at first but she meant “your pants are so baggy we could all fit in there with you.” They were loose but not that loose and I prefer my clothes to be a little loose rather than too tight. I’ve seen people in too tight clothes before and most of the time it is not a pretty sight. Even if I had a supermodel body (and that’s not going to happen, no matter how much I lose) I’d rather err on the side of caution and good taste.  I’m also reluctant to give up some things, clothes I waited to fit into and now  that I can it feels good to slip it on and say I made that goal and conquered. But I did put away one pair of jeans that’s way too baggy and I’ll be going through my closet again. It’s about time to hit the thrifts and go for the smaller size.

the eggroll and refried beans test

I had an eggroll yesterday, my first in five months. It was greasy, full of cabbage and it was delicious. I was concerned the grease might cause me to dump or throw up but I swallowed it and it stayed there. I also had some refried beans and cheese from Taco Bueno, another test of my stomach. I had these about a week ago, the worst part was the taste but with enough salsa nearly anything can be made to taste decent. I had the beans again today and besides a little gas everything was OK. I managed better than expected and I’m grateful and amazed. The next day is the second part of the test, seeing what the results are. So far so good, no problems in the bathroom and I feel indomitable now. Not bulletproof or immortal, but pretty darn strong and good. I’m not pushing my luck though, I don’t plan to have another eggroll for awhile and the beans and cheese can wait too but it’s good to know that I can tolerate more foods. It’s also reassuring to know I can order out like everybody else.

new year’s day

I stayed in New Year’s Eve and ate meat for what is probably the last time. I had three Little Smokies and cheese dip with sausage.  I ate a lot of stuff I probably shouldn’t have, like tortilla chips, Chex Mix and thin multi-grain crackers. I felt OK at the time, figuring those warnings from my doctor about breads bunching up in your stomach were a little over-inflated.  learned this morning they were not, I had another hard, painful time in the bathroom. It was one of the dreaded “feel like I’m freaking giving birth here” BMs. I survived but it’s convinced me to stay away from carbs, at least it did until this afternoon when I had a piece of toasted garlic bread, but then I had only one piece.  But I still ate black-eyed peas.

I’m foregoing meat for health reasons and because I haven’t had a taste for it. I thought I’d want a burger when I could eat “real” food again but when I had the opportunity it wasn’t what I wanted and though it smelled good it didn’t look good. I’ve heard bariatric patients can experience changes in their tastes and may not like or want the stuff they craved before surgery.  I have a friend who gave up meat, except for fish and it seems to be working for him, he’s healthy and eats otherwise ordinary meatless meals without any trouble.  I know I have to be more careful about my protein intake than he does but from what I’ve seen, after reading labels, is that it can be done. It’s cheaper, healthier and I’ll have less guilt and fear over how my food is raised and butchered.

I did the New Year’s Day 5K today too. I went to bed at 11, tearing myself away from  watching Kathy Griffin and poor Anderson Cooper. I got up and made my way to the race site, there were people everywhere, most running in place , huddling or jumping to stay warm. It was below freezing and my fingers shook when I pinned my number to my coat. I hadn’t worked out in over 2 weeks and I knew my time would be slow. And it was, I did it in 52:38.  Though it was darned cold once we started moving it wasn’t as bad, after awhile the cold didn’t seem to matter. I wore two pairs of socks, for cushioning and for warmth. I wore earmuffs and I wasn’t the only one to do so, most people opted for bandannas or fleece headbands. Others were brave or didn’t thing about it and went bareheaded.

I got passed by babies in strollers and three, no, four dogs. But a funny thing happened as well. At the beginning I was trailing at the end but after the halfway marker I was warmed up and hitting my stride. I finally felt good and moved faster, I passed a group of three women, another woman and a man who were all ahead of me. The woman didn’t like to be passed and she jogged ahead of me twice but by the end I had passed her and finished ahead of her. Some people put their effort in at the beginning and were feeling fatigued before they were halfway finished. I could hear them breathing heavily and puffing when I passed. I didn’t push myself that hard, partly because I knew I hadn’t worked out and because it was so cold but I managed it all without getting short of breath. My time might have been slow but I felt comfortable at the end.  All the better to enjoy my black-eyed peas. I am determined to start training and since Christmas is over and things are slowing down again I should be able to do it. My big goal is to run the half marathon in the Memorial marathon in April.  I saw people out there who could, who probably have. There were cars with 13.1, 26.2 and other stickers. In my little lazy heart I want to be one of them, I want one of those 13.1 stickers.

My jacket’s zipper broke off though I was still able to zip it up. So I went to Academy and bought myself this jacket. I got it on sale, otherwise I wouldn’t have bought it. It’s light and incredibly warm and I look good in it.

http://www.columbia.com/Women%E2%80%99s-Mighty-Lite%E2%84%A2-III-Jacket/WL5030,default,pd.html