Ten Pounds Makes Me Invisible

The past year has brought a fair number of physical challenges for me. RA had left me fighting fatigue (I didn’t realize I had it until it was gone), physically unable to exercise most days, and in great pain on days when I did manage to exercise.

Over the course of a year I put on about ten pounds. I’m 5’6″ and I went from 125 to 135 pounds, and then there was a sudden jump to 143. With the exception of pregnancy I’ve weighed between 125-130 pounds my entire adult life. I’ve never been one for dieting, I’d just work out a little more when the scale inched closer to 130. I happen to love food, not a little, but a lot. I wake up in the mornings, and lay in bed planning my trip to the market and our dinner. I buy fresh produce and meat every day of the week.

Dieting has not been an option for me. That is not how I wish to live.

When the steroids came on the scene I gained a pound a day for a week, and then about a pound a week for a few weeks thereafter. I ballooned to 143, and I could hardly look at myself in the mirror. What I saw looking back at me was an old lady with a puffy face and a giant neck. In addition to living in a body that betrayed me, it was a big body, and I was miserable.

I started by cutting my food portions about 10% each time I set a plate for myself, but the Prednisone left me so hungry and thirsty that I’d find myself going for seconds. After a few days I was able to will myself to not eat quite so much, and to fill up on water and celery before meals. This helped me to slow down and enjoy the taste of the food, but the bloating kept me big, and the fatigue really wasn’t effectively counteracted by the jittery energy that Prednisone will give you.

I’ve mostly stopped the Prednisone, although I relied on it pretty heavily during our most recent trip. The Simponi seems to be doing it’s job, and then some. I’ve made a fist for the first time in two years, and my energy level isn’t what it once was, but I’m no longer exhausted and fighting to stay upright.

I’ve lost the first seven pounds, and I attribute that mostly to the lack of Prednisone. Now I’m fighting like hell to get the last ten off, and it’s not likely that it will be easy or quick. I’m staying with the reduced portion sizes, and I’ve significantly cut my meat intake (more on that another day as it has nothing to do with weight loss). I’m back to the gym, and I’m so incredibly grateful that I’m able to do 30 minutes of cardio a day without pain. I’m adding a few minutes to my workout every few days so that I can hopefully get up to an hour a day, also I have a race to run.

I was never the pretty girl. I wasn’t totally unattractive, but I know from the 80 gazillion jobs I had from slinging beer to selling minivans that I wasn’t the girl who was just going to look cute and make a living. I’ve had to be smarter, faster, wittier and work harder. It’s okay, because I think we’ve all seen the once pretty girl on Facebook, not a lot of happy endings for her.

But now I’m the invisible girl. I’m not fat, but I’m not skinny, I’m not an old lady, but at 40 I’m not young. I’m not single, so I’m not spending a whole lot of time trying to be seductive. I’m just me. A slightly rounder version of myself at middle age in a town that treats youth as it’s only commodity.

I am clearly being treated differently than I was ten pounds ago (in either direction), and I can see, for the first time, why a woman might want to stay big. It’s like being invisible.

I’m torn, because it’s kind of cool, yet totally disturbing.

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Comments 14

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    I’m not sure any woman would WANT to stay big but there is definitely a loss of attraction. Interesting points you brought up.

    I was just diagnosed yesterday with Crohn’s Disease. It’s an answer I have been searching for, for over five years. I start on Entocort tomorrow. It’s supposed to be an easier steroid than Prednisone. I’m not looking forward to it. I have just lost 15lbs in the last two years because of my change in diets trying to control my stomach issues. I do not want to gain it back!

    I’m really happy to hear you can work out now though. I love my daily PreCore activity. It keeps me happy and less stressed.

    1. My quote disappeared at the start of my comment, whoops. Shouldn’t use symbols, I guess.

      “and I can see, for the first time, why a woman might want to stay big. It’s like being invisible.”

  2. I can totally relate to this so crazy much. For me, my body is (from the pattern of the past several years) used to being pregnant again right about now, but it’s not, and I think it’s very confused. It’s been a heck of a time trying to get to some sort of normalcy.

    Steph

  3. I’m not saying I want to stay big but there is a certain comfort level to be found when you aren’t being hit on, let me explain; being English gave me enough attention when I first moved to LA that made me a little uncomfortable, then I found American men to much more vocal about being attracted to me which made me really uncomfortable. Being overweight stopped that. Of course when you are really overweight you feel like everyone is looking at you for being fat.

    Congrats on your weight loss and less meat eating – we are trying to do the same and I highly recommend Quorn (found in Whole foods, Bristol Farms, Ralphs) as a great non-soy substitute.

  4. I am sure you are beautiful. Personally, I am a size 14. Yes, ladies, hold your sides. I am a size 14. And guess what? I think I look pretty dman good. Not invisible at ALL. So just rock what you’ve got and be confident. Confidence is soooooo super sexy.

  5. This is true for many women,especially of our age, I think. I have been skinny and I have been fat. I have to say I’d much rather have people notice me for looking “too” skinny than being “big”.When I’m heavy, I want to be invisible. I want to hide from everyone. It embarrasses me..not because I’m heavy but because I didn’t have the self control to not get heavy. Of course, that’s not your issue. You had an actual reason ( steroids and RA):)
    Being that I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum, I could never want to purposely gain weight to be invisible.Or stay heavy to stay invisible. Honestly, I come from a long line of vain people and I love the attention..but only when its positive. I know there are some women who embrace a more voluptuous body but for me, it makes me feel held hostage inside a body that I don’t enjoy.That’s why I’m working so hard now, to get comfortable in my own skin. I’m too old to be wasting my life chasing an imaginary body that no longer exists.

  6. Wow. You just told us how much you weigh! My kids don’t even know how much I weigh! But I can tell you that I am 5’6 and I ain’t 143 lbs! And since I past the 45 mark, it doesn’t look like I will see that number any time soon. To top that off, I am healthy and not in pain ( since my knee surgery 2 mos ago) so I have no excuse for the extra pounds.
    So I do yoga. It puts me in my body; I appreciate that I can do crow now (no idea WHy Now), it’s a sport I can do for life and I’ve never found a bra that can ease the pain of running.
    So good on ya, gorgeous, for being candid, smart, witty, and 10lbs heavier.

  7. Jessica,

    As someone who never had more than a few ounces of fat on me my entire life, the 30 lbs I gained over the first couple years my asthma kicked my tail was devestating, because it was as if having to deal with severe asthma attacks in public, and in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping was already so traumatic.

    To have become “the guy that has no business wearing t-shirts that stretch over his belly” was a challenge to say the least. Combine that with my ever more graying hair (yeah, guess what – I found Touch of Gray- Just for Men- and I love it!), and it was just too much.

    As you sought out ways to alleviate the pain, the symptoms, so have I. This summer I’d dropped half that extra weight and was not only exercising regularly, but even went dancing with friends half my age a couple times. And it was like heaven had enveloped me.

    Here I am though, having regained 10 pounds, and wondering if I’ll ever be able to run a mile again, let alone the 4 I used to be up for. I’m not so sure about the liking the concept of being invisible. On the one hand, it’s just sad. On the other, any pressure to play social head-games that used to be a regular is now gone. So just maybe, you’ve given me the opportunity to see the upside…

  8. I’m sitting here trying to think about *which* reaction I’m having to this deserves taking up the space in the box.
    The tallest I’ve been was 5’8″ at 19. Due to a back which thinks it’s an accordion (degenerative disc disease) to drugs that create ‘bone-loss’ and age? I’m scraping the bottom part of the line at 5’7″ and I suspect it’s only getting worse.
    The height loss I could live with. Except, like you, I naturally vacillated between 125-135 lbs until I was almost 30 years old.
    The factors that blew it out of the water for me went sort of like this:
    1) Take Norplant out of left arm after 5 years, put it in right arm. Put on 30 lbs within 3 months – right before getting married. Have very nice custom seamstress adjust for disturbing weight gain. Discover you are one of the eventual ‘class’ that got the settlement in the class action because it adds sudden weight. Leave in anyways because Dr.’s only solutions are Phen/Fen or removal & possible pregnancy.
    2) Survive at that new “base weight” plus a few pounds more from wedding & next 5 years. Remove Norplant thinking “yes! At last I might get my metabolism back!” Celebrate mildly, as there have been points where your weight crept up all the way to 173 lbs! (gasp). Swear you will never again mock truly overweight women by standing in a dressing room wearing a size 4 and say “I don’t know, I think it makes my ass look big.” despite the ‘great weight loss’ you should experience any day now.
    3) Go to work one day, feel back twinge. End of day, post screaming in agony as an idiot chiropractor tried to “adjust” without looking – find self at ER. Beginning of “the back thing”… 2 months of disability, 2 different insurance policies, and 2 different doctors – discover L5/s1 is pretty much gone… yadda yadda – need to lose weight to help, pretty much only thing that won’t make it worse: pilates or swimming. Turn into “that woman whose hair smells like chlorine” due to swimming after work at health club 3x a week. Through herculean efforts, manage to keep weight under 175.
    4) Decide to get pregnant. Balloon up to 202 in pregnancy and swear that you won’t ever be that big again unless you’ve accidentally inhaled a bowling ball.
    5) Harrowing birthstory left out – lose 40 lbs due to birth AND horrible recovery of worst delivery ever. (We’re back down to 162 here!) looking somewhat like a whale due to all of the IVs they pumped in… I am a funny whale who is still thinner than I was.
    6) Start out parenting thinking “I still have 35 lbs at least to lose.” Ha! That’s when the formal diagnosis showed up. Fibromyalgia.
    7) Since then, it has been a battle that I lose more often than not. The Rx all have weight gain as a side effect. The Fibro is the part that keeps you in so much pain that you couldn’t “work out’ forfeits the benefits that you might get if you.
    8) You are now “that” woman. Enter the up-swings that take you 20 lbs past your fattest. Over the next several years – major losses like 20 barely register for anyone else. Meanwhile this goes on for a number of years… up/down. But it never gets below 169.
    You know… you start trying to fit in. But as one of people for whom it’s a new thing – you don’t exactly look unawkward. But you don’t move with the wit and grace of those who have found that path.
    I’d like to be invisible again. Right now I’m too be to be invisible. If that’s how I can get with 10 lbs… I’ll strip down someday.

    If I hadn’t fallen asleep writine this… Ii’ cdre

    1. I personally am a fan of my last sentence… yes, I really fell asleep at the keyboard. I woke up long enough to hit enter and apparently type “If I hadn’t fallen asleep writine this… Ii’ cdre”

      I will say Kim, that if my tubes weren’t tied, I would use anything else first. Although apparently, Norplant is no longer available in the US. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norplant

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