Fat Girl Wearing Thin

Life beyond the loss.

   Jul 06

Starting Over

I am not a runner. 

Heck, I’m not even much of a walker right now. 

I’m sure you’ve seen this photo in some form or another.  Maybe on Pinterest or around the Net, but in case you haven’t:


Right now, I would love nothing more than to run like the little girl on the bottom.  Seriously. 

When I went to my post-op appointment my doctor said that I could begin incorporating my normal routine back into my life as tolerated. ‘Yoga? Sure, you can slowly begin doing that. You can even do some light jogging!’ he said with enthusiasm.

Light jogging?! Is he joking?  I know for a fact that if I even attempted something like that, well…..let’s just say the outcome wouldn’t be pretty.


I’m having déjà vu moments these days.  When my mind tells me that I must try to get up and exercise – any exercise, my body simply fights the idea.

I’m tired.

It’s too hard.

It’s physically draining.

How about I don’t but say I did? 

These are the same phrases I used when I was 100 pounds heavier.  In many ways I have never felt more like the fat girl wearing thin than I do right now.  My circumstances may be different – I need to put on some weight due to the post surgery blahs, but  thin doesn’t necessarily mean healthy. Or strong.  Or competent.  Or physically stable, even.   I may not be carrying the weight this time around, but I feel as if that healthy gal I long to be, is far,far from my grasp.  

Don’t get me wrong.  I am making progress, though my definition of progress is the fact that I’ve mastered the art of rolling out of bed without wincing.  Pain and fatigue seem to be my BFFs right now.  I encountered a minor setback this past Monday when I fell going up the stairs; no serious damage done but I’ve been pretty uncomfortable all week long thanks to that little spill. Still, I simply couldn’t allow any more time to pass without doing something physically productive.  So, I started forcing myself to walk on the treadmill.  Currently, it takes about 30 minutes to walk 1 mile.  I do the majority of that walking with one hand on the machine, the other hand gently holding onto my stomach.   

This is certainly not where I thought I’d be five weeks after surgery.  Hearing from other women who have had this type of surgery provides a bit of comfort in the way that at least I don’t feel so abnormal.  Almost every woman I’ve been in contact with has said that it’s taken anywhere from six months to a year before they started feeling really good again. 

If that’s the case then I’m officially placing myself back at the starting line; square one.  It’s been a while since I’ve had to start over.  I thought that part was behind me, but clearly life hands us surprises now and again, and we either face them or we don’t.  My body was far from perfect before my surgery, but I felt healthy, strong.  I want that strength back, no matter how long it takes. 

So, the million dollar question is: how do I start?  Well, I’ve done this before so I should know, but what I needed was motivation.  I started pouring through old journals, hoping for some entries that described what I was doing in the beginning.  I didn’t find anything relevant so I went to Sahar’s FatFighterTV and read through the amazing stories of my fellow maintainers like Jane, Lynn, and Cammy.  Then I  reread my story.  It was a very emotional read.  In one sense I was deeply saddened because I’m clearly not at the level of health I was when that article was published.  It was as if I were gaining strength from someone else’s story.  The following words were the ones that jumped out at me:

…I focused solely on one thing: moving my body. I bought a pedometer, attached it to my waist, and kept track of how many steps I was already averaging; then I aimed for 500 additional steps every few days until I reached the recommended 10,000 steps a day.

Wearing the pedometer gave me instant gratification because I could see my progress at any given time.

Moving my body was the key to my success all those years ago.  Here today over a decade later, it’s still the one thing that’s going to be critical if I want to get back in shape and stay that way, so I’ve got to get back to basics: dig out that pedometer, and literally take it one step at a time.


How do you keep a positive attitude when you have to start over?

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  1. I think the number one way to stay positive is to kick out the “all or nothing” attitude and to embrace with enthusiasm that any form of movement is, in fact, movement and is thus beneficial, no matter how small. And then to understand that the next day, you might need to take a break and that’s okay too. And then number two is to be okay with the idea that you might not feel positive, and that negative is okay, as well. We don’t make continuous improvement. We ebb and flow.

    • Ellen says:

      Yes, you are of course right, Karen. Thank you for taking a negative emotion and putting a loving, more logical perspective on it. I needed that.

  2. I can certainly understand why you would feel as you do. I’m not sure we’ll ever lose that lingering fear that we’ll revert to our old ways of living. I’m not sure we should lose it. We just have to learn to manage it. :)

    One thought process I’ve found enormously helpful from _Excuses Begone!_ by Dr. Wayne Dyer. Among other things, he suggests questioning our thoughts by asking first, “Is it true?”

    In the case of regaining your health, it’s true that you’re not where you were at this time last year, but it’s also true that you’re not where you were 100+ pounds ago. So can you truthfully tell yourself that you’re starting over? Or is it more true that you’re starting fresh, from a place you’ve never been before? You may be at a starting line, but the line moved over the past many years.. You’re starting very close to the finish line this time, which increases your chances of winning enormously. In fact, I should probably go get my pom-poms ready and butt back out of your life. :)

    • Ellen says:

      As I sit here two days later, I am feeling a bit embarrassed for writing that post; I try not to allow my immediate emotions dictate what I write, but that one got away from me. I shouldn’t feel that way because it was exactly how I felt (and still feel to some extent) but I think the idea of it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Thank you for pointing out the rays of light, Cammy. I’m just starting fresh, not starting over. hugs to you.

  3. Kyra says:

    I should do the pedometer thing… any one I have tried has not worked well though, any suggestions?

    • Ellen says:

      Kyra, the one I bought may not even exist anymore it’s been so long ago. BUT, the newer versions are out and they even have them with management software. Check Amazon for the Omron HJ-112 Pocket Pedometer. That one looks pretty close to the one I own. All of the ones from Omron are quite reliable.

  4. Caron says:

    They tell us at Weight Watchers not to compare ourselves to others but most of us will do it anyway. If you don’t spring back in the amount of time they “say” you should, you’re still getting better. Hang in there. :)

    • Ellen says:

      Thank you for reading my pity-post (as I’m now calling it). I have been having post-op blues for the past few days and that post just sort of came out. You’re right – better is better, no matter how you look at it.

  5. Vickie says:

    I identify with this so much (broken foot, still in cast, can’t do anuthing that puts uneven pressure/stress on my left foot, can’t do stationary or recumbent bike, can’t swim, can do Pilates and weights, but nothing cardio)

    I have started over many times. I know what is coming.

    For me, said with a smile – i know it is going to suck.

    It takes me three weeks of solid effort to push past the mental and physical aspects of a restart. And I don’t know when I am going to be released for full activity.

    I am in my worst asthma time of the year, and that will make it harder.

    I am very jealous of your treadmill time, I am not anywhere near being able to to even that much.

    You are very smart just to start where you are and do it, even if you have to hold your belly with one hand and the side rail with the other.

    • Ellen says:

      …I had to laugh because initially I thought, ‘I really envy the fact that Vickie can do Pilates.’ And here you are envious of my treadmill time. This just reminds us of what we already know – we cannot compare, only continue on. Hang in there, Vickie. You are most certainly not alone. xo

  6. You may be starting over but you’re starting over from such a different place! The treadmill may become your best friend and 30 minute miles are still miles walked! I have a quote on my desktop…”No matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch.”

    sending wishes for warm fuzzys, a heating pad, a cup of tea and a good book

    also, I LOVE the picture!

    • Ellen says:

      That quote is wonderful, Gina – and SO true. That’s what I need to keep reminding myself. Small steps are bigger than no steps at all. Many thanks for your comment :)

  7. Oh I hear you! I didn’t do cardio for six months! I used to do it daily, often twice a day. It was so hard to start back. I had to tell myself it was not only okay to go gradually and slowly but actually the smartest way to approach it!

    • Ellen says:

      I am learning that the hard way, Karen. I never know if I’m doing too much until I’ve already done it; then I’m down for several days. I need to do less than what I think I can. That is a new concept for me!

  8. Jan says:

    I’m SO proud of you! You’re doing great already and listening to your body by actually getting up and moving (even if it takes a half hour to walk a mile). You go girl!

  9. Michele says:

    My advice is to remember it’s about a process and NOT about a goal. Like the spiral on the pottery, we go round and round in the process… sometimes up and sometimes down, but we just keep going with a focus on health and well-being in mind.

    • Ellen says:

      Yes, you are right Michele. Very wise thinking. If I could just work on the process – the moment, instead of trying to compare myself to what I used to be, I’d be emotionally better off. Thank you.

  10. Val says:

    Honey, I’m sorry you are having (what seems to me to be) a slow & rough recovery…
    (I won’t send you pictures of any gamboling kitties or puppies; today’s patient was a mid-term semi-feral momma cat – saved the world from 6 unwanted kittens. She wasn’t happy being here, or being restrained so she rewarded us by urinating on us 😉
    Take it slow & don’t waste your energy comparing yourself to either your own or anyone else’s previous accomplishments. You’re gonna come back! I remind myself every time the going gets tough: I’m an endurance rider; I have racked up over 6,000 mi. Every one of my rides is like a link in a chain that lets me pull myself up by my bootstraps (sorry for the mixed metaphors) !

    • Ellen says:

      Thank you, Val. I like those metaphors. Those links, one by one may not look like much; but when you look at all of them together, they make one very strong chain. (hey, there’s another metaphor for us to play with!) Thanks for the encouragement. xo

  11. munchberry says:

    Oh. I bet you tensed when you fell up and it robbed you of a little bit of confidence. But you are right when you pointed out that you are good at picking it up when the shit hits the fan so you can totally do this!

    You know – you can go to the easiest yoga class. Go talk to the instructor, tell her what is up and then find a comfy spot and stretch and do what you can. Get someone to help you off the floor if you need it.

    If you can do a pool, go when it is quiet, ease in and do ultra light stretching swirling foot, leg waist circles. Get the parts moving again, but with no pounding.

    When you are up and exercising (per se) – moving. You will feel better and that will make you want to do more and feel confident. It will be a thing that feeds itself. Plus your sleep will be better.

    So glad you are progressing well. Small things do NOT matter. You will gain the weight back in a healthy way and feel terrific and mostly – PAIN in the PELVIS FREE!

  12. gardengirrrl says:

    I wanted to start by saying I love your blog. To answer your question, “How do you keep positive when you have to start over,” I tell myself that I have a plan, a tool, a roadmap, whatever it is that you have laid out to help you get to the goal, and that is a great start. Sometimes the question of “how to do it” is the hardest part so once you have that plan formulated, you can trust in it and as the old Nike ad said “Just do it.”

    That said, I think you are on your way because you are already asking the questions and challenging yourself. Knowing a little bit about you from your blog I can see that you will get back to healthy because it’s important to you and you have a track record of doing what you set your mind to.

    Lastly, love yourself enough to not feel guilty or discouraged or any of those other negative feelings that can be replaced with positive ones like “I’m doing this for me,” or “I’m going to do this at the right pace.”

    Best wishes!

  13. Cindy says:

    I love it when I am in my groove and eating well, regularly exercising, etc. However, it’s not consistent due that little thing called life. Sometimes, though, I think I do like the feeling of restarting because it is about starting from a new place. Thankfully, not from the place I originally started. Two years ago I broke my leg and after healed was literally left with a withered looking leg that didn’t work too well. Rehabing from that was a precursor to ultimately getting on the road to my weightless. It ended up being just what I needed to get to where I am now. I always remember this and it pushes me forward whenever I fall behind. I know you’re going to do great!

    • Ellen says:

      Thank you, Cindy. I so enjoy hearing stories of recovery like yours. It propels me forward and I realize I’m not the only one who’s gone through this (it’s easy to forget that when you’re in the midst of it). xo

  14. Hanlie says:

    You are in no way starting over – you’re just picking it up slowly again. And that’s okay. Plus, you have so much wisdom and insight from your past experience to see you through. Have you thought about how much worse this surgery and recovery would have been if you hadn’t been fit and 100 pounds lighter?

    Thank you for sharing that picture! It reminds me of Phoebe running…

    • Ellen says:

      Hanlie, I was actually going to make a reference to Phoebe instead but didn’t think anyone would get it. Thank you for not letting that joke go to waste 😉
      I am unofficially calling this my ‘pity-post’. I have been having post-op blues lately and am having a hard time seeing things for what they truly are. Grateful to have all of you to set me in the right direction. Thank you.

  15. E. Jane says:

    Starting over is something we do again and again in our lives–and it’s okay. Surgery takes a while to recover from, and doctors never seem to really understand. They are usually text-book based, and I have often found their advice to friends and family members (and myself) who have had surgery to be premature in their expectations. I think it is a bit harmful to the patient, unless they have others who can help them with realistic expecations and the idea that we’re all different in our recoveries.

    • Ellen says:

      I didn’t feel so ungrounded until I heard the word ‘jogging’. That about knocked me off my chair. I figured that if he thought I should/could be jogging then I must be WAY behind. Thank you for your reminder that my recovery will not be like anyone else’s. xo

  16. goosh says:

    Lots of familiar thoughts here. I have faith that you’ll figure it out ~

  17. Goodnuff says:

    I know nothing of exercise but I’ve heard and I vaguely remember it being true that muscles have memory. Once you start moving your body will remember how good it feels and take over.
    Now, to convince myself of the same.

  18. FatFighterTV says:

    It’s true – we all recover from surgery differently. I’ve had several and it always takes me way longer than what is “expected.” So I say give yourself a break – you will get there when your body is ready.

    I am thinking of you!! xxoo

  19. I just found your blog — I can tell that I am going to be a follower.

    It all starts with the first step. Taking action — any kind of action will help you more forward.

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