I’m 38 years old and I’ve weighed as much as 246 pounds and as little as 152 pounds in my adult life.

That looks like a weight loss of 94 pounds but lets be real: it wasn’t a linear process.

When I tried to figure this out I calculated that in the past four and a half years alone I have gained and lost 200 pounds. That number doesn’t even take into account the weight I gained when I was pregnant and the minor 2-3 pound swings that happen on a regular basis.

Consider all the years (about 26 since I remember being on my first diet in 2nd grade) of gaining and losing that led up to my weight loss surgery and I think it’s safe to say that number must top 600 pounds gained and lost.

Then there is the 94 pounds I lost after my surgery and the 5 pounds of muscle I gained when I started running.

I think conservative estimates put my overall number of pounds gained and lost in my life at nearly 1000.

Let’s not forget my two pregnancies and my two c-sections.

I may wear a size six, and weigh 153.5 pounds (at least I hope I still weigh that! no weigh in until next week!) and I am starting to see that I look pretty good in clothes, but I don’t look like anything much when I have no clothes on.

I really looked at my body the other night before I got into the shower. I mean really looked.

I was pleased to see that my gut was much smaller. Although, it’s not gone by any means and my c-section “ledge” is still there in all it’s crooked glory. But, it grows ever larger in my mind and I spent so long avoiding seeing it that it was something of a relief to realize that it’s not as big as it was and as much as I hate it and want a tummy tuck, I can live with it for now.

I was dismayed, on the other hand, to really see my breasts. To be euphemistic, they are not the breasts of a young person anymore. I wear these very sturdy bras that have definition and shape to them and I realized the other day that the top half of them is giving the impression of nicely rounded breasts but that top half is, in fact, empty. My breasts sit resignedly on the bottom of the bra and look sadly wrinkled. While standing, without the bra on, the top half of my breasts are essentially flat against my chest with wrinkled puckered skin. The lower half of my breasts would seem pleasingly rounded if you could help but notice that they are significantly lower on my torso than they have any right to be.

My legs are thinner, as my baggy pants can attest, but they too have suffered my years of weight fluctuations. My thighs have nicely defined muscles. I know this only because I can see them in yoga class when I lie on my back and put my legs up straight in the air and gravity makes the flabby lose skin and deflated-balloon-like-fat-cells slide down and my knees and thighs suddenly look young and shapely. Standing up, however, gravity makes it all slide down to my knees and the muscle definition all this walking and running has gotten me slides behind an impenetrable veil.

My arms have that same flabby looseness that says I lost weight, but it was too late, my body just doesn’t have the elasticity it once did and I will forever carry around with me this reminder of my excess weight.

That missing elasticity also means that when I sit I can see my saddle bags crumple like forgotten satchels on the sides of my butt and for the first time in my life I understand why these delightful collections of fat are called saddle bags.

Don’t even get me started on the spider veins, burst veins, wrinkles, and stretch marks all over my body.

I am, at least, grateful that I have no “non-cosmetic” side effects from all of this. I’m not suffering from skin rashes or sores from excess skin sticking together. I know people who’ve experienced that after a significant weight loss and it’s no fun to say the least. No, my skin stays where it’s supposed to… generally.

But I think about the fact that when I was fat, my skin was taught. Yes, I was lumpy and bumpy and I looked like I was swollen from a bee sting or stuffed like a sausage, but at least I was… you know… “filled out”. Now, I just feel a bit like the deflated soccer ball that’s been lying in my backyard since the summer.

Here’s the funny thing. Now that I’ve said all these things that seemingly tear me down and make me less: they kind of don’t.

I was feeling sad about all of this the other night and when I went to bed I apologized to my husband for the flabby mess I’d made of my body. He looked at me with a look of such utter disbelief I knew he couldn’t be faking it. He’s the only other person in the world who sees me naked and he doesn’t see me the way that I’ve described. He’s not blind, he’s a man, he knows what he’s looking at. But he told me something wonderful and amazing and romantic and true: The “you” that I love is not so narrow and literal as to be affected by physical changes.

This is from a man not prone to flowery, sentimental, romanticism. Am I lucky or what?

So I decided to see myself through his eyes: imperfect but worth it.

The more I thought about this and my body the more I realized that how my body looks is a testament to what I have accomplished.

I have this lopsided c-section scar with fat hanging over it because I had two kids. Two amazing, funny, smart, loving, generous, wonderful kids. Who cares that other women have c-sections and then have a flat belly again. Mine isn’t and that’s ok.

I have these saggy boobs, flabby arms, loose thighs, and stretch marks on my abdomen. They are only saggy, flabby, loose, and stretched because I succeeded in my goal of losing the weight I set out to lose. Sure I could look at it that they are like that because I gained the weight in the first place, but I’m not going to anymore. This was my journey, and that’s ok.

Sure, it’s probably time for me to think about some toning exercises. Of course it’s good to continue to improve. I’ve already talked to my yoga instructor about doing some personal training with me (to get more toned) starting in January. But no matter how that turns out this is who I am and that’s ok.

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