Monday, February 02, 2009

Fatness categories

In ten days it'll be a year since the gastric bypass surgeries Siobhan and I got. My weight went from a high of 487 (two years ago June) to 420 before the surgery to 325 now, a total loss of about 165 pounds. Siobhan didn't have to lose nearly as much before the surgery since she was well within the allowable weight ranges for the laparoscopic surgical implements; she went from 327 to 305 before the surgery and is now down to 202, for a total weight loss of 125 pounds.

So I've lost more weight than she did (and more of it the "hard way", pre-surgery), but a little less as a total percentage of body weight (34% for me versus 38% for her). However, it's pretty close either way. Still, whenever people see us who haven't seen us for a while, they always coo over her weight loss, and then mine is kind of an afterthought, like, "oh, yeah, you've lost a lot too, didn't you?" but it's hers they notice immediately.

202 is still above the 'standard' weights published by insurance companies for her height, and even above more realistic 'average' weights. It's still "overweight". But it's not really "fat" anymore; in the informal, undefined, but everyone knows it when they see it, categories of fat, she's if not "normal" than at least closer to it than to the other end of the range. She can buy clothes in Walmart, and if that's not the definition of mainstream, what is?

But even after all I've lost, I'm still firmly in the "fat" part of the spectrum; I'm just in a different part of it. There's a psychological category boundary I haven't crossed in the minds of observers, and one I probably never will cross. I still can't buy clothes at Walmart, and if I ever am able to, it'll probably be just barely, and only from their "big and tall" sizes, where they have some.

I'm not really driven by the question of what other people think of me nearly as much as other people seem to be. It's certainly not even part of my motivation for the surgery or the diet or anything else. But even if it's not validation, it is kind of nice to hear someone notice and say kind words. I am only human, and this was a lot of hard work.

And while it's categorically not true that it's "easy" because of the surgery, it is true that the part done without surgery was harder. Even now, I still have to work harder than Siobhan does to get the same results. I need a lot more exercise to get the same effects, and my appetite requires a lot more struggle. Certainly those 70 pre-surgery pounds required a lot of effort and will and sacrifice, and it's nice to have that acknowledged.

Yet for all that I had to, and have to, do more and harder stuff, my results are a footnote, all because of some arbitrary boundary category at the edge of a Walmart clothing catalog. Sometimes that irks me.

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