Don’t Judge the Weight on a Scale by Its Number

This is only one of 3 bins of clothing I packed up yesterday. I’ve been ignoring the multitude of clothing that doesn’t fit me anymore. However with returning to teaching next week, I was forced to realize I couldn’t do that anymore. Every article of clothing (mostly sizes small to medium, a few large sizes) folded up and stored away felt like a knife jab into my heart.

Left: 2012 Right: 2017

I worked hard to change my lifestyle starting in September 2013. I started by walking and then tried running which I fell in love with. I joined a local strength training group and begin to train for obstacle course races. I also began rucking in 2018. By summer 2017, I had lost 96.5 pounds. It was freeing and I felt more confident than I have in years. I know that everyone has different bodies and that’s okay but it had become a health risk for me as I was testing pre-diabetic. Luckily, the work I put into becoming active and eating healthier has meant I haven’t tested pre-diabetic in 4 years.

While I felt like I could do anything and achieve anything, life had its own course for me. In March 2018, I began to have chronic pain in my left hip and leg. It led to a surgery in June 2018 to repair a hip labral tear. While waiting for surgery, I was on bed rest and while I continued to eat healthy, the inactivity still slowly crept some weight on. I gained 30-40 pounds this setback.

After surgery, I worked a healthy recovery and at returning to my active life – deciding to focus on trail running instead of obstacle course racing. I didn’t want to risk damaging my hip anymore. I was working with physiotherapist for the best recovery possible. Little issues kept popping up and then the little issues began to become larger issues. I had slowly begun to lose weight again – about 10 of the 30-40 pounds I gained on bed rest. Then in January 2020, I found myself with such a chronic pain flare up, I could barely walk. I was sent back to my surgeon, all activities stopped, and underwent more testing.

In March 2020, 5 days before our province closed everything down due to the pandemic, I was told that the surgery in 2018 only fixed a secondary issue. The main issue was that my left hip had a condition called femoral retroversion. It was highly likely this caused my hip labral tear. My first surgeon wasn’t qualified to do the surgery to repair this condition so I was referred to my second surgeon. At the time, it was supposed to be within a couple weeks due to my history and that this issue wasn’t caught the first time.

However, the province shut down and along with everyone else, my life was frozen. Yet, I was even more limited as even walking and working was challenging. When school went to online the last few months of 2020, I was able to work the last few months from home. But each day, the pain worsened and each step was getting harder. I was prescribed pain medication – not super strong ones as I refused to go back on the addictive opioid ones I was on the first time. While I needed the pain medication both times, the second time, I did not want to be on it long term as we had no idea when I’d be able to see the new surgeon. Even when it’s prescribed and even when it’s needed, the medications are very hard on the body. Instead I managed the pain with rest, medication, and reading – taking only the medication when really needed.

I was finally able to see my new surgeon at the end of July 2020. With his consultation, the surgery he would do – a derotational femoral osteotomy – he strongly believed it would reduced or eliminate my chronic pain and the issues I was having due to the femoral retroversion. Due to the pandemic, I was told to expect a 1-1.5 year wait for surgery. This was a hard to hear but I couldn’t change it. I put my energy into reading, eating healthy, and going for very short walks to keep up some strength.

The reduced activity, even with adjusting my nutrition, still meant the weight crept back on. I am sure stress didn’t help with it at all either! In October 2020, I received a call that I would actually be getting surgery November 30, 2020. That was a hard 5-6 weeks while we waited as we were told it could also be cancelled – even up to the morning of the surgery!

Fortunately, the surgery happened as planned and I was finally on the other side. I went into surgery 185lbs. While I had fluctuated throughout my setbacks, I went into surgery 30lbs heavier than my lowest weight. The recovery that came after wreaked havoc on my body – between the medications (now having to take prescribed strong pain medications and other medications for the first 2 weeks after surgery) plus being stuck in bed with a leg that had gone through being broken, realigned, and put back together with hardware.

The last 9 months have been a doozy. The first couple months felt very slow in healing but after that I have been progressing very steadily. I am finally returning to work 50% next week and this milestone brought a whole new reality to me.

I knew I had gained weight the last 9 months. I had worked hard at eating right and healthy – with still allowing for moments of balance such as takeout and movie date night in with my partner or cooking a delicious pasta meal at home. Even with healthy eating and as I began walking again, it still seemed the scale was going up. Each time I weighed myself, I wanted to cry. I felt I was losing myself with each pound gained on the scale. The weight slowly crept on throughout the last 9 months until I went from 158.4 as my lowest weight that was worked hard to get to… to 185lbs just before surgery… to 245lbs. Jut 10lbs below what I was before I began this journey.

I haven’t shared much about this part of the journey because it hurts. I feel ashamed, guilty, sad, angry – all of the emotions all at once. Yet, I have to share as I truly believe sharing the good and the bad is how we connect with others in the world and maybe make a difference with even one person. In “Seven Days in June” by Tia Williams, she writes “There was power in showing the messiness of her life and what it took to hold her together.” Insert expletive or two here…. Holding me together has been a daily battle. Heck, some days it’s an hourly battle. I feel so lost some days, and others, all I feel is hope and motivation. I feel excited and fearful at the same time. I feel doubt I’ll ever lose this weight again, and I also feel determined to do it. I have anxiety that the pain will return at the same I am enjoying returning to previous activities.

While I am still in the recovery phase and will be classified in it for another 1-1.5 years, the surgery seems to have been successful. The chronic pain in my hip, knee and leg are all gone. I have some minor issues from the hardware put in and I will be having surgery sometime this year to remove it. I have lost some weight and I’m at 239.4lbs from the 245 I went back up to. It’s a long journey back to my lowest weight of 158.4lbs but I can only focus on today to get to the tomorrow’s.

My current combined total of weight losses and gains is likely a gazillion pounds with the fluctuations over the last 8 years but I am focusing at where I’m at now. I have lost 15.5 pounds from my highest weight of 254.9. I faced reality, I packed up my smaller clothing (but keeping it as I plan to get back there again) and I went out back to school clothes shopping for clothing that was cute and comfy – even if in larger sizes.

There have been so many stumbles the last 3 years, I’ve lost track. While I feel so far away from where I had gotten to in my journey, I still feel like I can get back on that road. I have no idea what the future looks like – and I’m not going to promise what mine will look like. I’ve learned through my setbacks that you can’t always be guaranteed where you’re heading but I can only deal with what I do in every day as it comes.

So I start with today. This morning, I went for a short walk with Ginny, I had a healthy breakfast, I did a long stationary bike ride, I did my healthy meal prep for the week, and I will also rest this afternoon. I will keep working at being the best possible of myself each and every day to come. Perhaps I’ll find the me that wears the size small and medium clothing again. Perhaps I’ll be the person that wears large or extra large but works hard every day at being healthy and her best self. Regardless of what the number is on the weigh scale, it doesn’t see the work I’ve put in or the setbacks I’ve faced. I’ll work at not letting that number on the scale define who I am either. I’ll celebrate the losses but I’ll also grow from the gains.