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A journey in body recovery

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Hmmmm.... so, I'm a bit in shock.

For all of you who are looking at losing a lot of weight, let me just prepare you. You shouldn't be discouraged, it's definitely still something you want to do. But making it look good at the end is a LOT harder than I thought.

So at this point, I have lost 70lbs from my original high weight. I've never lost that much in my life before, because I had never gained that much in my life before. I really hope I never gain it, ever, ever again! But now being in my later 30s, the skin has some elasticity, but it is not snapping back the way it used to.

Another issue is, I gained all the weight because I'm sick. So when I lost it, it was through sheer will power, not really through exercise. I'm still sick, so I still can't do much exercise, and I still have a metabolic problem that prevents me from gaining muscle in a normal way. So this probably makes my body's journey look worse than most.

But wow, I'm starting to realize, it's going to take a hell of a lot of work to try to regain the athletic body I remember having before I got sick. Like, now that I've lost the weight, I almost look fatter than I did when I was fat! At least then, my skin was tight (stretched to its capacity) and I carried it pretty proportionally so I looked kind of like I do now, just larger. But now the skin sags, and the fat that is left is in these awful lumpy deposits that have created bad cellulite on the back of my legs, weird looking thighs, and a very doughy-looking stomach. My face used also be more cut at this weight, with much more visible cheekbones. My BMI is about 20 now, but I look extremely doughy, everywhere! And, I'm honestly surprised. I've never seen myself at this weight before looking fat like this. My body used to look pretty close to as perfect as it was capable of at this same weight, and now, I just look like I have to lose 20-30 lbs of fat! I can wear smaller sizes, but clothes don't look that good on me. I'm still embarrassed to go swimming, or have my legs or arms showing... almost more now than I was when I was at an "obese" BMI. What's up with my stomach being so thick, like twice the size it used to be at this weight? I have quite the spare tire now, which is pretty shocking to me.

I guess it's a few things. Part of it is probably age. Maybe even if I was healthy, it just would not look the same as when I was younger, no matter how much weight I lose or how in shape I get. But also, I must have a significantly lower muscle mass than I used to, and perhaps a significantly lower one than most people who are at this weight. I mean, I've been bedridden a lot. It's funny though, I feel so tired all the time, so sore all the time, it feels like I must have a ton of muscle because I'm working them so hard all the time just to keep going and survive. It feels like I run a marathon every day, and do a 400-lb deadlift. I should look awesome!
But, I don't...?

Also, if I lost 20 or 30 lbs, I would be underweight. I'm not trying to disappear. Maybe in the old days, when I was anorexic, that would have been cool with me. But now, I just want to live, and be healthy. I don't know that I want to look huge, but I do want to have muscle. I always had good legs, and strong thighs. They were always slim and tight, and I didn't really have to work very hard at it. I never had a great butt or stomach, but they never looked this bad... I look at pictures of myself, and they look like they are on a very obese lady, and I don't think anyone would ever guess how little I weigh! Argh. I DO look smaller. But I still look fat.

I think probably because I used to walk a good 1-2 hours a day when I was healthy, and now I almost never walk at all because I don't have enough energy or balance to do so. It's amazing how much walking kept my body looking and feeling good, even during the times I wasn't running or doing much in the way of weight lifting!

So, I guess the solution is to lose about 10-20 lbs of fat now, and gain about 10 lbs of muscle, and then I won't be underweight. I will be a pretty low BMI in the healthy range, but perhaps at this age and with the limited muscle I'm capable of, maybe that's more appropriate for me now. I just don't want to look like I have a 1-2" loaf of bread wrapped around my entire body anymore.

I ended up getting an oval trampoline/rebounder/jogger with a railing, which is definitely necessary for me since I tend to get dizzy and have low blood pressure. Even when I'm sick, it isn't very hard to use, and I can get in ab work on it even laying down on it and bouncing on my back if I'm too tired to stand. I also find that using a hula hoop is doable for me on days I can stand, which works my abs quite a lot, and my legs and arms a bit too. I started trying to jump rope again - in the old days I used to do about 2,000 a day. Now I'm lucky if I can get too 300, on a good day, but I'm glad at least I can technically do it. I also got a slide board, so I can try to build up thigh and hip muscle like the days I used to skate back when I lived in a frigid climate. That is HARD, and especially because it's slippery and without a lot of muscle, I need to be careful not to fall. But I will say, between the rebounder and the slide board, I'm already seeing some noticeable slimming and improvement in my legs in just a week. So in a month or two, hopefully I will be doing a lot better, and have two things supporting me that actually resemble legs again. I also have to increase my protein intake significantly, which I can only do through protein powders because my diet has to be medically limited. So I think that too is helping a bit. I will consider maybe adding creatine or HMB powder, and/or BCAAs.

I hope to be able to check back in a month or two, and hopefully have improved the bat wing arms, protruding stomach, and dough-body look. And yes, it will be awesome if I can gain some muscle if I actually feel a bit less tired, a bit less exhausted every time I move, a bit more circulation and oxygen to my cells. But I'm not going to expect miracles. I'm kind of impressed with myself that I lost 70lbs all on my own without any help at all, and while very sick, but I am genuinely shocked at how little this helped the shape of my body, not to mention of course the completely lack of improvement in how I feel physically except feeling a bit lighter for the extreme energy expenditure of moving my limbs. Even adding dessicated thyroid, helped me lose about 30 lbs and stop feeling so cold all the time, but did not really give me much in the way of energy. So we shall see how this goes. After trying for a week, I have gained a few lbs - which is standard every time I exercise. But I feel ok, and my body seems to be keeping up relatively better than it usually does, increasing the inflammation but not so much that I can't keep trying. Hopefully in a month or two, I will have good progress to report.

Funny thing to note: if my bladder isn't 100% empty, I peed on myself whenever I tried to jump rope or bounce on the trampoline! That never happened to me before! And, I haven't had kids, so it's not like it was caused by pregnancy. I am very happy to report, the rebounder seems to be helping a lot with that, after only a week I can already bounce after drinking some water and I'm fine. I don't know that I've graduated to being able to jump rope on a full bladder, lol!, but at least I don't feel like I have to wear a diaper to work out! I guess my body has just been too stagnant for too long, and even pelvis muscles have gone to nothing.

For those who are able, make sure that you exercise and lift some weights while you lose, or at least try walking a lot (maybe with wrist weights?), because it will really make a difference not only in metabolism, but in the way your body looks. Food is not the whole story. Even being at a small weight, the body can still look shockingly pretty bad, and old.

I think the difference for me, in what is making me look like an old lady, is I guess that young people tend to have a lot of muscle, even if they are overweight. So, I think as I age, I will need to work hard on strengthening my bones, and on adding as much muscle as I'm capable of, to try to get back to the way I was able to carry my body in my teens and 20s. In my head, I still feel maybe like I'm 22 or 23! But, my body doesn't seem to be agreeing with me lately. I'll work on it and see if I can improve that. My grandmother was youthful and walked everywhere into her 90s, and ate very well, so I'd like to follow her example. But, be even more toned, and athletic, for a more modern twist on middle age! I actually got a skateboard, something I haven't been on since I was probably 20. So we'll see just how extreme I'm capable of being. Being honest here that with my energy issues, that might be a bit of a stretch. But, it helps to have a goal! Maybe someday I'll be able to surf, or take on the ramps at a skate park! I would like to be an aerial acrobat when I'm about 80. So at least there is something to aim for.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Thanks, PHEBESS, for such a thoughtful reply!

    I don't have health insurance. But if I did, physical therapy would have been very helpful at many points since I got ill! The island I live on doesn't have a gym, much less a personal trainer! But, I am lucky that I can ship things here, which is why I bought the equipment I did. I have found that any equipment that can move on its own once momentum is built up, like a hula hoop or trampoline or the slide board, is much easier for me to use with my illness, than exercises that require me to carry all my own body weight all the time, like jumping rope or running. I just don't have the energy. Part of the problem is that the illness attacks my ability to make muscles, so even with a PT, I'm not sure how well proper form or even nutrition is going to fix that. But I fortunately know a good bit about it, and so am doing ok on my own, considering my prognosis was pretty poor.

    I did injure my back before, back when I had access to doctors, and have kept in mind the things I learned when I went to physical therapy back then. Kind of my whole body needs more muscle at this point, and I'm not really sure what I can do to pack it on given my medical limitations. But I did manage to do 15 minutes in a row of slide board today (started with only 5 when I got it), which was soooo HARD and left me dripping with sweat, and I do see a little definition in my legs and arms now that wasn't there a week ago before I started. So I guess it must be doing something. I hope if I keep it up, I can increase the amount of time, and in a month or two I might see body improvement. Then I'll probably add some free weights, if it ever gets any easier at all! So far, I have to work hard just not to fall down and hurt myself, so I have to take it kinda slow. Exercise makes my condition much worse, so I don't know if this will all be sustainable or not in the long run. I would hate to do a lot of work to put on muscle, and then end up bedridden again and immediately lose it all all over again!
    747 days ago
    My husband is going to physical therapy due to a back injury - so he's working on rebuilding a lot of muscle. Which leads me to wonder if you could possibly get your dr to prescribe physical therapy for you? Not that you have a physical injury, but for you to learn exercises that target where you need to build muscle. Do you think that would work?

    With DH's injury, they started him doing mostly exercises lying down, because his injury caused scoliosis - so balance is a huge problem for him. But he's worked from lying down to seated to standing exercises - and while standing, he usually is near a wall or chair to use for balance. But the therapists have been really good at going slowly, step by step, to help him have better balance while exercising. And he definitely has built quite a bit of muscle, even though he doesn't think he's really doing a lot of exercising.

    My other thought is that you could join a gym and hire a personal trainer, but they usually don't have the training for working with someone with a chronic illness or an injury. That's why I thought PT might be more helpful for you.

    Besides, medical insurance will pay for PT, and for most of us it doesn't pay for gym memberships.

    Anyway, good luck to you!!! Losing 70 lbs is an amazing achievement!!!!! And yeah, aging skin doesn't bounce back as quickly - but everything I've read says exercising helps the skin shrink.

    747 days ago
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