This is not something I talk about much because…emotional. I shaved my head recently and then saw a pic of my mom posted from a recent family get-together which prompted me to create this collage.
A bit over 10yrs ago, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had to have a partial mastectomy and suffer through months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, hospitalization and hair loss. She fought…and won!! The cancer went into remission.
Unfortunately, about a year ago, my mom’s breast cancer returned. She had a medical incident that presented in symptoms that mirrored a stroke. I remember the call from my aunt (a nurse by trade) telling me that they were at the hospital (my dad and both of her sisters were with her). The breast cancer had come back and metastasized to her groin, abdomen and brain.
The cancer and the treatment have intensely changed my perspective of our relationship. My mother has always been strong, active, vital; she’s always been the caregiver. Seeing her weakened by the treatments, unable to eat and losing weight, unable to get up and move around unassisted has been difficult for me. I think it’s been particularly hard since we live in different parts of the state so I can’t be there everyday. Add to that, worrying about my dad who is older and not in the best of health and being unexpectedly thrust into a role as primary caregiver; it’s a lot for us all.
In the midst of it all, the picture of my mom didn’t make me think about all the changes in our lives, the treatments and the care. All I could think of is how much I love my mom’s face. I love all of the ways my face resembles hers. I think of all the lessons she’s given me to prepare me for life. I think of how much I love her and want her to feel as cared for and loved by others as she has made others feel; she deserves that.
The cancer is not gone but she’s on the mend. Treatments are done, tumors are shrinking and she’s regained some of her strength but she still has a long way to go to recovery but she’s here and I am thankful for everyday God blesses us with.
The other day, I let my daughter take my picture. They were full length pics which I hate. Most days, I feel uncomfortable in my skin so when I look at pictures, all I can see are the imperfections. My daughter is a good hype-woman and one of my biggest cheerleaders so I let her take the pic and I actually felt cute. I decided to share and talk about extreme weight loss highs and lows from my perspective.
I used to weigh 226.796kg (500lbs). Here I am 150lbs down. I realize that is quite an accomplishment; it’s the smallest I’ve been in about 15yrs. You know what I see when I look at this picture? 70+lbs of loose skin in my belly, thighs and arms. That was one thing I didn’t know to expect with extreme weight loss; some days it bothers me more than others but I’m always aware of it and it makes me more self-conscious than when I was heavier. I am not a fan of the jiggly bits I have now that were solid when I was heavier.
Here is another picture my daughter took…
I have always been curvy and now that I am smaller, I do notice that my waist is more pronounced and my butt and hips are more shapely. My thighs are super jiggly from the excess skin but it is what it is. I know that will change as I continue with my cardio and strength training.
I notice that my face is slimmer as well as my neck. What is most important is that I feel better; not getting short of breath walking from one room to the next, little to no joint pain and just an overall feeling good. I’m definitely not where I want to be but I wouldn’t change a thing about my journey.
I’m not sure if I’ve discussed previously the fact that I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Originally, I had hyperthyroidism but then I had a chemical ablation about 20 years ago.
Well, among the many symptoms of a dysfunctional thyroid gland is hair thinning and hair loss. There are time where my hair comes out in my hands or sometimes fall out as I remove my headscarf in the morning. Sometimes, I lose patches or whole sections of hair. I take medication to do the job of my thyroid. Among the side effects of the medication is, you guessed it, hair thinning and hair loss. Of course, I have other symptoms associated with my lack of a thyroid like skin issues, difficulty regulating my body temperature and my medication causes frequent urination and excessive thirst and dry mouth. But hair loss is definitely the most visible
Since it is something I’ve dealt with for more than 20 years, I have no real attachment to my hair. I’ve shaved my head several times over the years because of the shedding and missing patches; it just is what it is. I’ve never felt like my hair is what makes me beautiful; it’s more of an accessory.
I am also a fan of wearing wigs and braids to change up my look.
The reason it the hair loss issue has come up for me now is that I’ve been trying to grow my hair out; and its been growing well. Well, after an adjustment to my meds, I’ve lost a large patch of hair on the side of my head. I can do some camouflage so it’s not noticeable but no more of my go-to headband. I’m going to have to go this weekend and get a haircut. Usually, I would just shave my head but I decided that I’m going to go for a stylish cut since it’s just coming out on the side so far. I’ll make sure to post pics of my new style 💇🏾♀️.
Often when I’m out, I’m reminded (in this case by a large, knotted bruise on my hip & butt) that many public places are not inclusive when it comes to fat people. Some people don’t like that word as a descriptor but I’m a lot less sensitive about it than I would’ve been two years ago at the beginning of my weight loss journey. Insert whatever word makes you more comfortable; I call a spade a spade.
I went to a sporting event this evening with a group and the seating was less than desirable for my height of 6ft and for sure not comfortable for my girth. I felt a bit like I imagine it would look to put a 10yr old in an umbrella stroller. You just pictured it and laughed…good. In years past, this situation would have sent me spiraling into despair. I would have asked for the car keys and professed to be A-OK. I would have sat in the car balling and then went home and stuffed my feelings down my throat in the form of excessive amounts of fatty food and beverages. Because let’s be honest, emotional eaters aren’t shoveling in salad 🙃. In all honesty, a couple of years ago, I would’ve avoided a group outing like the plague. But I digress.
Today, and many days before today now that I think about it, was different. Today, I created a different outcome. I was with people who value my emotional safety (that’s important) which helped me to maintain. Granted, I did not get to enjoy the game sitting with my group but I managed to find a comfortable space for myself and folks came and checked on me. This past couple of years has been such a journey of self-discovery and a few things I’ve gotten really good at are allowing myself to process through my feelings, transparency in expressing those feelings when needed and making sure I am comfortable in a space.
I find it interesting that here I am almost 2yrs post-op and down 110lbs and still having a hard time in a lot of spaces because of my size. I’m not saying that sports/concert venues, restaurants and modes of mass transport need to cater to me as a heavy person by posting this. I’m just pointing out what most people take for granted because it’s not something they ever have to think twice about. Do me a favor and take just a second to think about your friend or family member who may be a person of greater size the next time you breeze through a turnstile, slide easily into a booth at a restaurant, sit unobstructed down into a chair with arms, sit in a folding chair. No, you’re not responsible for decisions anyone has made or actions they have taken to make them heavy. But maybe taking just a moment to think of these people in these situations and the countless other situations that come up to remind them that life isn’t kind to fat people, you might choose to show a little extra grace and a little more kindness; both really contagious and worth catching.
I was in high school and had gone to a slumber hangout and took JaLisa with me. She always wanted to go with me EVERYWHERE and was never shy; cautious of new people but never shy.
As a child JaLisa was loud, ridiculous, funny, compassionate, loud, talkative, smart, friendly, generous, kind-hearted, spoiled, loud, imaginative, thoughtful, resilient, courageous, loud…
Here we are all these years later and she is still all of those things. She’s lived through a lot; more than most women her age and she’s still standing.
From birth I watched her scoot, crawl, walk and run. There was stumbling and falling but she got up and kept going.
From adolescence to adulthood, I watched her go through the same process from scoot to crawl to walk to run. Sometimes, things got out of order but Tomi & I, her grandparents and the rest of her ‘village’ were there to help guide, dress wounds from the falls, counsel and keep her moving ever forward.
And today, she enters her 27th year. She’s out there moving through life…from a scoot to a crawl to a walk and then a run. She stumbles and falls and we’re still here to guide her; kiss the boo-boos and hug the hurt and tears away. She needs to lean on us less, as is God’s design. More independence; less hand-holding. It’s like I blinked and my Baby Bean became a woman and I wasn’t ready.
One of my biggest anxieties comes from hearing my recorded voice or seeing myself on camera. Let me classify that; seeing my WHOLE body in pictures or videos. Well, I’m stepping into a new boldness in 2018 (although I’m feeling a bit nervous about it 🤣).
At my church, they record welcome videos that show right after Worship Service. I participated in the filming of two videos that will be featured in the coming weeks. Here’s the real biggie though. This past Sunday at church, we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr; the man and his message. How far we’ve come toward equality and how far we have to go. I was asked to sing Take My Hand, Precious Lord which is not a big deal. I enjoy singing and especially ‘making a joyful noise’. I was audio recorded for the weekly podcast which I knew and had wrapped my head around. I also knew that I was video recorded. When one of the pastors texted and asked if about posting the video, I gave an immediate yes. Please don’t think it was because I was feeling super confident about it, because I wasn’t. I hadn’t seen the video or heard all of the audio and all of my anxiety and insecurities came bubbling up with the doubt talk. It wasn’t perfect. You were kinda pitchy at that one part. Your tempo was all over. People are going to be staring at you. What if you look gross (losing 100+ lbs does not quiet your issues with body image). Well, I managed to push those thoughts aside and I. Said. Yes. Then, I sat and watched a video of myself; twice. I watched it once without sound and then again with sound. The first time through, I was anxious and nauseous and I felt like my heart was jump out of my chest. I realized I wasn’t dead 😊. Watching it the second time was a lot less stressful. I’m glad I chose the uncomfortable yes. It was scary and new but you know what? I’m looking forward to doing it again.
2017 was quite a year for my family and I; full of plenty of highs, lows and lots of in between.
New Year 2017
New Year 2018
We (Tomi & I) are -150 lighter between the 2 of us as we start this year. We became homeowners this year. We have lost a few family members & friends (may they RIP) and gained a few new ones. We have both been working toward maintaining/ reestablishing familial relationships that have faltered along the way (such a long story-perhaps in a later post). The end of 2017 was particularly busy for us with traveling. We saw a lot of AMAZING concerts last year; the highlight of which was seeing Earth, Wind & Fire.
2018 won’t be quite as busy as last year for us when it comes to traveling but we have a few trips planned. Our oldest grandbaby (the only boy) graduates from high school this year. One of our daughters is getting married this year. Lord willing, we’ll celebrate another birthday and anniversary this year.
For me, 2018 will be a year of being intentional and consistent. I am really good and being consistently inconsistent. I’ve perfected over the last 20yrs or so. This year, I plan to step my game up and be more intentional about life as opposed to just letting life happen. I know that comes with being consistent. Some would say that it’s about time but I say that every day is a good day for a new beginning. Can I get an AMEN?!? I have been making lists, making plans and setting short/long-term goals. I’m trying to do an overhaul by making small changes (I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew) in several areas of my life where I want to be more consistent; working my business, blogging, skincare, continued weight loss, cleaning house, clearing debt.
This will be a year of fostering, maintaining or releasing relationships. I’m reaching out to those that have previously fallen by the wayside, I am putting in the work to maintain those and that are hanging out there by a thread and I am releasing, with love, those relationships that no longer serve me. I’ve learned that it’s OK to let go of those that don’t want to be a part of my life (and not take it personally) and also to allow myself to be let go of by others. I am going to be more intentional about fostering my relationship with God; spending time in fellowship with Him and in His word.
I’ve also been trying to adopt the action of doing little things with big love. Doing things for others and even for yourself does not always have to involve a grand gesture.
I’m stomping into 2018 with a new look, a new attitude and a new vision. I’m excited to see what this year brings.