What they don’t tell you about massive weight loss

Before and after

Hint: The one on the LEFT is the before photo

Everyone tells you that if you lose the weight everything will be different – and it was.  There are stories about fitting into compact cars, restaurant booths, airplane seats and pants you’ve never been able to wear.  All true.  There are stories about having more energy, recovering from chronic conditions and throwing away your meds.  I’m here to tell you those are all true as well.  But it turns out that there is plenty that nobody tells you about ahead of time and you wish they had.  I don’t exactly know why nobody talks about these things.  I go to the meetings and there’s nobody there saying “first rule about fat club is nobody talks about fat club.” On the other hand it may be one of those unspoken rules I don’t pick up on due to the Asperger’s enhancement.  So I’ll commit to writing here those things I wish someone had told me about massive weight loss and if I disappear without a trace you’ll know there was in fact an unspoken rule about this kind of thing.  Which I suppose would qualify retroactively as yet one more thing I wish someone had told me.  Here goes…

Losing weight is expensive

What they tell you is that you will save so much money on food and from the ability to buy clothes at regular stores.  What they don’t tell you is that while losing the weight you will buy all the sizes of clothes you went through on the way up.  Except that gaining weight took years and you spread that expense out, whereas losing weight takes months and you spend it all at once.  In my case my job as a consultant meant I needed a full set of clothes every other week for several months so I could go to customer offices to work.  I wasn’t able to reliably find what I needed at thrift shops so I was buying retail.  At one point I had a standing order at the Big & Tall store: “get me exactly these same pants and shirts one size down in two weeks.”

The first time I bought new clothes I was so happy that I even picked up some non-dress items for yard work.  Then I realized I could just wear the baggy dress clothes for yard work and this saved me a lot of money.  Of course at one point I was weeding the garden wearing a brand new pair of dress pants and a long-sleeve button-down shirt and my neighbor wandered over and remarked “you are the BEST dressed gardener I’ve ever seen!”

One day arrived at the Big & Tall store to pick up my standing order and the clerk, a wonderful gal I’d known for over a decade, informed me they didn’t have clothes that small.  I’d shrunk right out of their store.  We hugged and shed a few tears before saying goodbye and I walked out the door for the last time.  Every year on my birthday they still send me a card.  “We miss you!  25% off on your special day!”

(Side note: if your Big & Tall store has the same size door as all the other stores, they lack sincerity.  Find another store.)

What I wish someone had told me a year in advance is “Start stocking up on clothes in smaller sizes now and buy from thrift stores and discount houses.  Just get all the sizes, you will go through them one by one anyway.”

(Other-side note: this does NOT apply to full-face motorcycle helmets.  If, like me you lose several sizes IN YOUR HEAD then wait until your weight levels off to buy a new one because those things are freaking expensive!)

Medical issues

Lose enough weight and your endoskeleton threatens to become an exoskeleton.

To help lose the weight I had gastric bypass surgery and immediately afterward stopped my blood pressure meds and gave up the CPAP machine that helped me breathe at night.  Eventually I stopped being bothered by asthma, edema and most allergies.  But just as I was beginning to feel invincible I noticed a hard lump in the center of my chest.  “This is NOT good,” I thought and immediately made an appointment with my primary care doctor.

“Doc, I am feeling so much better and I’m free from all those chronic conditions I used to have.  Just when I thought I put all my medical issues behind me, I find this lump in my chest.  What is it?  Cyst?  Cancer?  Am I dying?”

She examined the hard mass in my chest, took me by the shoulders and looked directly into my eyes.  “That’s your sternum,” she announced.  “It holds your ribs together in the front.”

“Really,” I asked with amazement.  “Has that always been there?”

So in this category what I wish is that before surgery someone had pulled out a skeleton model and given me a quick refresher anatomy course.  “This is a human skeleton.  You actually have all these bones.  No, it’s true, you do.  Soon, you will begin to see and feel some of them for the first time.  This one here is your sternum.  Over here we have a collar bone.  This thing at the tail end of your spine is called a coxyx and sooner or later when you have no butt to speak of, it WILL make you leave the movie theater in the first hour.  Don’t be alarmed, this is all normal.”

Fitting into pants you haven’t worn before

Many folks in the support group tell tales of wearing pants they’ve had in storage for years.  In my case I was heavy early and gained slowly but steadily for years.  Even if I had saved pants of the waist size I wear now I would not be able to fit in them today because I WAS THIRTEEN then and the legs would be too short.  Maybe if I’d thought to save some shorts I could still fit in them but I don’t think I’d want to be caught dead in shorts from the ’70s.  So I had the experience of getting to wear pants of a size and style I’d never worn before in my life.

But why, you might ask, do I wish someone had told me about this in advance?  Because unhappily there was a mix-up in the closet and I had the misfortune to walk out and model the wrong new pants for my wife.

“Hey, check it out!  How do I look?”

“Wow, Sexy!  Those look pretty good.  Turn around so I can see the back.”

I sashayed across an imaginary catwalk, spun on my heel and returned.  Her expression had changed to something between anger and tears.

“What’s wrong?”

Even if you and your spouse have grown to look alike after 30 years, it’s best to wear different colors of jeans.

“You think that’s funny? Take my pants off!”

She practically shouted the order.  I was getting mixed signals here but who am I to argue? I reached for her waist but she slapped my hands away.

“No, dammit!” She unbuttoned my pants and pushed me backwards on the bed.  The expression on her face did NOT say “you are going to enjoy this.”  More mixed signals.  Then as she yanked the pants off by the cuffs I caught sight of the pocket stitching on the back and the designer label.  These were her jeans.  Worse, they were her skinny jeans, and of the two of us I was the only one who could fit in them at the time.  Oops.

So in this category what I wish someone had told me in advance is “Look, after surgery there may come a time when you can fit into your wife’s clothes.  You must never, EVER let her see you wearing them.  Best case, she believes it was an accident but you sleep on the couch for eternity because she now thinks you look better in them than she does and she is alternately depressed and pissed off at you.  Do you actually look better in them?  Hell no.  Does that matter?  Hell no.  She will believe it regardless.”

“The worst case is that she doesn’t buy the story that it was an accident and you sleep on the couch for an eternity.  How is that worse?  You also have to start watching the Women’s Network, taking her clothes shopping, attending Girl’s Night Out and appearing to think about the question ‘do these make my butt look fat’ before assuring her that they do not.”

About T.Rob

Computer security nerd. WebSphere MQ expert. Autist. Advocate. Author. Humanist. Text-based life form. Find me on Twitter or LinkedIn.
This entry was posted in Aspergers, Clue train, Humor and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to What they don’t tell you about massive weight loss

  1. Charles says:

    Thanks so much for your perspective! I’m just about to do the gastric bypass and I’m totally freaked out… This helps a lot 😆

  2. Renee says:

    Thanks for the laugh. I have lost 86 pounds, only 30 more to go so I am running out of clothes and can totally relate….but sure is a wonderful problem to have!! Congrats on your success!

  3. Shelle Blalock says:

    Oh my god your story was wonderful made me laugh so hard. I congratulate you on your weight loss journey gastric bypass or diet and exercise there is no real easy way to lose weight.
    I recently lost 40 pounds and I’m having the same problems with clothes. I work in an office job but I am lucky that no one sees me. I decided not to buy any new clothes until my current ones are falling off of me. I wore a pair of pants the other day to work that were so big on me I ended up using a paper clip to hook the two belt loops together.

  4. This was absolutely fantastic! Really, really witty and rather brilliant. Honestly, I’m in tears laughing at this. Not that it isn’t also useful and insightful for people losing weight, of course.

  5. judgefree says:

    Yup. Losing weight is great, losing clothes not so much!

  6. jes says:

    Another foolish mistake that i have made as a yoyo dieter, is that i was told to throw out all my old clothes that no long fit as i wont ever go back to that weight… i then gained the weight back and had to buy all new clothes.

    i wont make that mistake again, even if i have sizes ranging from xxl to small in my closet, i no longer care. its too much of a waste of money. i do hope one day i find the right way to keep the weight off, but regardless, im not throwing away anymore clothes…

  7. Ali Atkins says:

    This has got to be the funniest, most-upbeat weight loss article i’ve ever read. And i understand your wife’s anger.. My husband has been doing so well with his weight loss (without surgery) that it’s honestly awakened my own drive to lose weight, partly because i think my gorgeous man should have a gorgeous woman on his arm, and i want that woman to always be me. Anyway! THANKS FOR THE LAUGHS about honest truths. I’ll be sharing this with my husband also!

    • T.Rob says:

      Glad you got a laugh out of it, Ali! Best of luck with you and your husband’s weight loss program. I hope you are both as happy with the results as I was. And maybe a little less drama than I had. 😉

  8. Brian says:

    I have lost 265lbs in the past year through exercise and diet (no surgery). I worked my ass off, came up with my own diet/workout plan and did it all by myself. It really bothers me to hear someone complaining about expensive clothes and worrying about their sternum sticking out too far (I, too, have this problem). It is exactly this reason that I am so bothered by the amounts of people having bariatric surgery. People don’t really solve the problem by having surgery, they only treat the symptoms. Nothing is given to you. If you want something, you need to work for it. I suppose I appreciate it more by having to work for it. It’s hard to empathise with this article.

    • T.Rob says:

      Congratulations on your success, Brian! Of course I’m disappointed you don’t like the post but that has more to do with *why* you don’t like it. The idea of the post was to point out that massive weight loss is a lot more nuanced than what the prevailing conversation about it is likely to reveal. We tend to have a preconceived notion of life without the weight and it’s important for people to realize that it won’t be like that. I tried to point out some things that were unexpected for me, and to do so in a humorous way. The reality of course is that there can be tragic negative consequences. Long term relationships might end if the dynamic between the couple relied too heavily on the weight. Marriages break up when one person is suddenly more attractive. Friendships break up when the “wing man” suddenly is in demand.

      The comment about bariatric surgery seems based on misconceptions. The notion that “people don’t really solve the problem by having surgery” assumes the problem is something the surgery doesn’t address. However, there are many cases in which surgery directly addresses a medical problem that can’t be addressed any other way. There’s also a little overtone self-righteous contempt in the belief that someone who had surgery didn’t work for their weight loss. The surgery doesn’t cause the weight loss. It creates the conditions for the weight loss to succeed but the patient has to diet and exercise like anyone else in order to lose the weight and having lost it they must maintain it – also through diet and exercise.

      I’m not sure why you believe you “appreciate it more.” This post isn’t me complaining about the weight loss, it is me celebrating it. But with nuance. It is me talking about it without succumbing to the common practice of ignoring the negative aspects. Our lives aren’t all good or all bad and talking about them as if they are isn’t realistic. So I don’t try. I tell the bad with the good. If I’d thought about the clothing issue ahead of time, I’d have stocked up in different sizes. Someone who I told this story to had the opportunity to do so because I bothered to tell it. I think that’s a good outcome. I’m disappointed you interpreted it as petty complaints but perhaps that means I need to learn to communicate more clearly and nothing to do with you.

      But if that actually does mean you appreciate it more, I can live with that. I’m not trying to keep score, I’m just trying to have fun. Trying to evaluate one’s worth as a person by comparing to other people does not, to me, sound like much fun. Whether I worked more or less than you, or appreciate my success more or less than you, has no bearing whatsoever on your success and does not diminish your experience in any way. Nor does your experience diminish mine. By all means, come on here and celebrate that success! But to define “Us and Them” groups out of it, to judge the relative worth of other human beings with it, is to completely misunderstand what this blog is about. A person’s character is revealed by measuring against principles of right and wrong, good and bad. It’s not about being better than the next person but about being objectively good without regard to anyone else’s performance on that scale. Character can never be revealed in comparisons to other people or through social hierarchy, except to note that the person judging others in that way reveals something of their own character in doing so.

      Once again, congratulations on your weight loss and thanks for the read!

      • neg2sim says:

        I just discovered your blog and I would like to compliment you on your response to Brian. I have only read this one post so far (and shared, hope that’s okay). I would like to congratulate you on your success as of this post and am looking forward to catching up to present day 2016. I’m hoping to find you are still in good spirits and that you’ve maintained that lovely sense of humor.

        • T.Rob says:

          Thanks for the read and the kind words! Of course its OK to share. I encourage it. I pay^H^H^H I mean pray for it. 😉 I hope you enjoy some of the more recent posts and will leave to you the assessment of whether I’ve maintained the sense of humor. In fairness though it’s more to do with funny stuff happening to me than my being funny. After all, I didn’t make those store clerks nosy and whatever I did to them they had it coming. And I definitely didn’t intentionally overdose my cats on beef jerky. They did that on their own and I just wrote about it.

          So like I said, funny stuff just sort of happens around me and I report on it so I can’t take much credit. I expect that I’ll eventually use up all the bizarre events that are my life’s quota but with any luck that’ll happen a few moments before I die. Probably preceded by the words “hey y’all, watch this!”

      • Deb says:

        Thank you !

  9. Lloyd Irvin says:

    Hi this is kinda of off topic but I was wanting to know
    if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.

    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding know-how so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    • T.Rob says:

      Yeah, that is kinda off-topic for this post but what the hell. The ones I know about use WYSIWYG editors. Go to wordpress.com or blogger.com and sign up for an account. Don’t worry, you can delete it later so pick any name you want just to play around with. I use WordPress for all my blogs but mainly because I liked it best at the time I got started and I have no idea how it compares to other systems around today. There are lots of WordPress and other blogging groups in meetup.com and if you are in a reasonably large town or city you should be able to find a local group to get help or talk about blogs over coffee. Good luck!

  10. Wonderful blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers?

    I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a
    little lost on everything. Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a
    paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m totally confused .. Any tips? Kudos!

    • T.Rob says:

      Thanks for the kind words! My advice for aspiring writers is to write a lot and read more. I tend to have a problem that I go buy stuff related to what I’d *like* to do because it feels like I’m closer to actually doing the task or meeting the goal. For example, if I aspire to learn more about Arduino and hack some electronic projects together, I’m liable to buy supplies and then let them pile up. When I get discouraged that I haven’t done anything with it, well then buying a new soldering iron or some LED bulbs feels like progress.

      You may recognize this theme if you’ve ever purchased a gym membership and then not used it. Or vowed to eat healthy and then let several pounds of stock ingredients rot in the pantry. The same thing applies to writing. Many people focus on the platform as if the wrong one will hinder their writing, when all along its focusing on the platform that is what’s actually hindering the writing. Consider the story of a guy who aspired to be the next great blogger and started tinkering with WordPress so he could perfect his online image. Years later he’s making his living customizing WordPress and has so much work he doesn’t ever blog. The point being that you become what you focus on, even if it isn’t what you aspire to. (See Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life by Winifred Gallagher)

      So I say aspiring writers should write a lot and read more. Write for the practice, and read – with a writer’s eye – to learn from better writers. Write on paper. Write in the sand. Write in Windows Notepad. Want to blog? Pick ANY platform. If you get to the point that your platform is what’s limiting you that’s a good sign but it isn’t likely to happen until you build a following. (Someone who’s not on the autistic spectrum will also tell you to seek out a mentor or a writer’s group and it’s probably good advice. Said person would probably advise you to ask friends who blog for their recommendation as well. Also probably good advice. Having no experience with such things, I’m not qualified to offer said advice but it seems appropriate to suggest it.)

      I had my own domain long before I blogged, mainly to interact with consulting clients but also to post pictures of the family and pets. My hosting provider had WordPress and that is the primary reason I’m on it now. By the time I wanted a personal online space, my domain was already well known for the technical content and I didn’t want to try to wedge a different site into it. But I knew something about WordPress by then, so here I am. The platform, in this case, chose me.

      Hope that helps. Now go write something! When you do, post a link here so any of my readers can find it. (Secret tip: Nobody actually reads the vast majority of blogs out there, including mine. But we all write for the imaginary audience we don’t have [implied ‘yet’ goes here]. Note the reference to “my readers” above as a prime example. Although the overwhelming majority of my readers are imaginary, they figure anyone who appreciates my humor is worth checking out. So post a link and you are guaranteed to get massive volumes of imaginary traffic.)

  11. Ora Kerss says:

    Good day. Impressive task. I didn’t count on the following. That is a superb story. Thank you!

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