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.