Thursday, April 2, 2009

Closer to Accepting the "Flabby Bits"

In commenting on my last blog entry, “Hello Flies and Spiders and Little Bugs That Swarm My Wine,” blogger Debby used the phrase “flabby bits” to describe the parts of her body that she’d despaired over the morning before moving her parents into a new home. Despite her “flabby bits,” she still appreciated what her body could do since losing weight and getting physically fit.

I understand that battle. My first reaction (usually knee-jerk) upon seeing my loose skin is an eye roll. Then in the same breath, I remind myself that, overall, I’ve done a damn fine job of improving my entire body. I’m not going under the plastic surgeon’s knife, so my flabby bits of loose skin are pretty much permanent. Deal with it, Haraldson.

Lucky me dealt with it twice in the last 24 hours.

After several attempts at repair, my Oprah elliptical was declared dead a few months ago. Thanks to a good warranty, two fit young men brought me a replacement elliptical today. (Hopefully one that’s new and not refurbished.)

One of the guys saw my photos from the Oprah show on the wall in my office/gym. He asked me about it and I said I’d lost some weight. He asked how much and I told him. As he said “Wow, congratulations!” his eyes glanced over to my arms. I was wearing a very short-sleeved t-shirt, one that doesn’t hide the faded stretch marks on the underside and flabby bits of loose skin.


Thanks to a long winter, it’s been five months since I’ve worn a t-shirt in front of anyone outside my gym, and for a split second, I felt self-conscious. It didn’t occur to me that maybe when he looked at my arms he saw biceps and triceps that have more than seen the inside of a gym. Nope. I immediately assumed he was thinking, If she lost THAT much weight, she has to have loose skin. Yup. Look at that hanging there under her armpit. Yuck. It’s disgusting. She should put on long sleeves. As part of my goal to rid myself of these negative thoughts, I took photos of said skin in today’s t-shirt. I tried to look at them as an outsider. I thought, What if one one of my readers or friends has arms like this? How would I react? And the god’s honest truth is, I probably wouldn’t notice, let alone care.








So the question I is: Why don’t I look at my own body through these same eyes?

The jury’s still out, but at least they’re in thoughtful negotiations.

Skin scenario #2.

Ask my 18-month-old granddaughter, “Where’s the baby?” and she’ll lift up your shirt. Her mom is due with g-baby number 2 in 7 weeks and so to prepare Claire for her new brother or sister, Cassie and her husband tell Claire there’s a baby in Mommy’s belly. Only Claire thinks EVERY belly is a baby.

As Claire and I snuggled together yesterday after her nap, my daughter asked her, “Where’s the baby?” Claire lifted up my shirt, revealing my loose, soft, stretch-marked belly just above my jeans. This made Claire very curious and me very nervous. She dug her little baby fingers into the folds and pinched them gently. My first reaction was disgust. I can’t let my granddaughter play with my belly skin! Ew!


But Claire doesn’t know it’s belly skin. She doesn’t know I had two children, lost a million pounds over and over, or what else my stomach’s been through. She thought it was soft and pliable and fun, as much a part of her Grammy Lynn as her nose, eyes or hair. And so I let her roll it between her fingers. And it was liberating in a weird way. As I said, the jury’s still out, but thoughtful.

It’s not like I’m going to wear a bikini in public now or short-cropped tops. I’m still modest and self-conscious. But a little bit more acceptance seeped into my psyche yesterday and today; a little more softening of my loose skin intolerance.

I readily acknowledge that there’s no smooth transition from eye roll to acceptance. Perhaps the everyday mindfulness of this battle will some day render loose skin a non-issue. I’m working toward the day when upon seeing my loose skin I see just me and there’ll be no eye roll, no need for reminders, and no forgiving.

The photos are probably TMI and I’m sure they’ll find their way into some “Lose Your Loose Skin” cream or miracle pill scam on the Internet, but for now, it’s cathartic to say, “Here’s what it looks like.” To me, it’s not as scary as my head makes it out to be.

The jury’s still out.

Here's a happier photo of Claire petting our 12-year-old puppy Jake. Golden Retrievers are perpetual puppies. Remember, there's loose skin lurking under that shirt and above those jeans! LOL


33 comments:

  1. Honestly the first thing I noticed when I saw the pics of your arms was wow look at those muscles!

    After losing 93 lbs (still going, 20-25 more to go!) my arms and tummy are where my loose skin is too, and I am getting more and more OK with it as time goes on. I've started strength training in the last two months more consistently and am very pleased with my biceps!

    Keep up your good work!

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  2. Lynn-

    Delurking to say-- I really can't see the loose skin you are talking about. Your arms are very toned and look wonderful. You need to see what I see. Get yourself some spaghetti strapped something for the summer! :0)

    Dina

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  3. Alls I noticed was the muscles! You go, girl!

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  4. Oh Lynn, what a fabulous post! And of course, you know what I immediately thought..."well, I'd be thrilled if my flabby bits looked as good as hers" and "mine really are disgusting, her arms look nice." Oh brother, I've got a long way to go (mind work.) On the upside, I am almost always happy with how I look covered up (dressed.)

    And you look mahvelous, dahling!

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  5. Yup, that was my thought, too: "Daaaaang, Lynn is *buff*!"

    I've got my own melange of muscle and floppy bits, and I'm still struggling to be at peace with the whole package. You know what helped a bit, oddly? Looking at my mom with new eyes, realizing that even slender people will develop some loose skin over time. None of us can control time and gravity. We can eat healthfully, be active, and strength train, though, and see where it takes us. (And even with the self-pep talks, I still help sulking about the sorry state of the "ta-tas" sometimes...*sigh*)

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  6. You have nice muscles. I don't find loose skin to be gross, really. My arms are like that as well. I have great biceps, but loose skin.

    My 5 year old niece likes the feel of the loose skin on my arms. She was rubbing it, and I told her not to do that, and her answer was "but it's so soft!"
    At least someone likes it LOL!

    I'm like you with having good days and bad days with the skin. I don't like that all the hard work that I've done is marred by the skin, but then again - it is the result of what my body has been through, and I can't expect there to be no consequences from that.

    I don't know if we ever will really get used to or accept it, but you have done an amazing job!

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  7. Lynn, I think you have done a wonderful job at weight loss and maintenance! You inspire EVERY time you blog I can't wait to read you next blog! I come here every day I too have lost alot of weight and maintaining (110 lbs) to be exact :) I also have loose skin I HATE it I struggle every single day looking at it wishing I could get it taken off, but I can't afford the cost of a plastic surgeon and I would be extremely afraid! so I like you deal with it I get very self-conscious but I'm gonna kep trying to look at the good I've done in getting my body healthy and possibly saved my life so I guess I'll have to deal with loose skin too. I want to thank you again for posting the most needed subjects it seems I need every one!!
    Thanks you again
    Gail

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  8. Your arms are awesome - I would love to mine look like yours someday! Thank you for talking about loose skin, though. It's something that I can see I will have to face pretty soon, and, like you, accept. Of course, what is the alternative? Elective surgery just isn't an option for me, for several reasons. What does that commercial say? "Love the skin you're in" - we all need to remember that.

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  9. Lynn,

    Great post. I do the eye roll at least once a day too. Most of my loose skin is on my thighs, but it's there on my arms and abs too. It's a mental/emotional challenge not to beat myself up about it, but it's worth every inch of loose skin. Your arms look fabulous!! Nice muscle definition, you should be so proud!

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  10. Pubsgal, I've got a case of the "ta-ta blues," too.

    Lori, it feels weird having someone feel our skin like that, isn't it? It's like I've hidden it for so long, been ashamed of it for so long and when Claire got curious about it, I had to just let those insecurities go. It's skin, for god's sake, not poison!

    Thanks, all of you, for your encouragement and kind comments. I will learn to "love the skin I'm in." It may take forever, but I'll figure it out :)

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  11. Lynn, You Look Mah-vah-lous! There are 21 year-olds that would love to have those toned arms.

    I have a skin-moment every morning after workout, before shower. I think "ewwww", then I pull myself together and start looking for the muscle tone and other benefits of dropping 100 pounds & exercising 6 days a week.

    The only way my skin would tighten up would be to gain 100 pounds. HELLO! That ain't happening - I'd much rather have loose skin.

    If you're reading this and you're climbing up the scales, this is a red flag. The less you gain, the less skin you'll have to deal with. Please learn the lesson from our woes.

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  12. Lynn, thanks for another great and inspiring post. I'm in my early forties and about halfway to losing 150 pounds, and I know there is some loose skin in my future. YOUR ARMS LOOK GREAT and the hope that mine might one day look that good will keep me in the gym!

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  13. I hadn't thought about it until I read your post. Thanks!

    Had to take a moment and think about it. All of the extra skin I have to look forward to. AND the loss of boobs.

    Just wrote about my thoughts about it on my blog. Too much to leave here.

    Vee at www.veegettinghealthy.blogspot.com

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  14. I have two trains of thought after reading this post. One is, oh man, I would GLADLY trade you arms. If my arms EVER look that good I will be thrilled. (This main thought splits into two trains)...

    1) You look amazing

    2) I have horrible, truly horrible arms. And then I think, hey, wait a minute, this post is ABOUT acceptance. I should really be nicer to myself just like Lynn is learning to be nicer to HERself.

    And then I think about taking a picture of my arms and I realize how far I have to come mentally, because I think my arms are hideous...

    Ah well, I'll get there.

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  15. Dear Lynn

    I've been a regular "Lynn reader" for almost 2 years now. You have kept me inspired to loose and keep off the excess weight.

    Alright now girl, you look beautiful! Nevermind those little chicken wings of yours, you look just fine! And you should be darn tootin' proud of yourself. You are a healthy woman, that's very important. We all have something jiggly-wiggly, but hey, we have come a long way from the "big girl next door". Enjoy life, don't sweat the small stuff!

    Your #1 Canadian Fan,
    Anne, Ingersoll Ontario
    Canada

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  16. This is great post. Just think back to that overweight girl and I bet she would envy a girl who looked like you! She wouldnt even notice the "skin."

    I find we have to lose the weight in "Our Heads" Be well

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  17. I was just thinking about this issue a couple of days ago. After losing 53 lbs I am starting to see where my loose skin is going to be (stomach, arms, legs etc) and when I look in the mirror it is all I see. Your arms look amazing and you have nothing to worry about but I can feel what you are saying- why can't we look at ourselves in a positive way.

    But I am going to go under the knife when I lose all of my weight and I will look at each scar and smile and know I have achieve my ultimate goal! Keep smiling Lynn you inspire each of us everyday!

    Mara
    http://24stepstogo.blogspot.com/

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  18. All I thought was, "If she was african american, I'd be looking at Michelle Obama's arms!" Hot mama!

    You forgot to mention how Claire said, "Wow!" when she saw your belly because it's little and she's not used to seeing a little belly. I always think to myself, I'm so glad you lost all that weight, because now you're going to be around for a long time. So what if you've got some extra skin, I've got "thunder thighs." We all have something we don't like about ourselves, but if you're healthy, you've got it made in the shade!

    Love you! (Your daughter)

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  19. I love your arms, they look fabulous. I've never lost a ton of weight, but I did have babies (9.9, 10.1,8.7 and 7.7 pounds of them) and my stomach looks just like an elephant's butt. I'm trying to love my elephant butt belly but as you know sometimes it's just hard to be nice to yourself. I'd love the muscles you have in your arms, but at the moment I'd just be happy if my right arm would work right. Oy!

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  20. You look great! I so get about the loose skin though. You give me hope though that it won't be so bad after I lose all the weight I want to. Great muscles btw!!! Thanks for this post I definitely needed to read it. Learning body acceptance is a biggy for me.

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  21. Lynn,

    If the picture you posted was of someone else, I am sure your first thought would be "look at HER arms -- they're so buff!" We need to treat ourselves as well as we treat others:-)

    I am so excited when I get an email alert that you have updated your blog because I enjoy your stories and insight. As I make my way along the weight loss journey, I am continually inspired by your story (and those of the other ladies who have lost the weight and kept it off). Who cares about baggy skin or stretch marks...look at those arms...you've earned that look!

    Beth

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  22. Skin really is an issue, isn't it? It seems more a mind than body thing. What we see isn't always what other people see. Thanks for your insights, everyone. And those of you who delurked to comment, glad to see you!

    Yes, Claire did say "Wow" when she dug into my belly flab. I forgot about that. And it made me strangely uncomfortable, like when your dog watches you pee or something. You KNOW they don't know what you're doing logically, but it feels like a grown adult is watching, you know? LOL

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  23. Even though you are not 100% happy with what your skin has done (not done) is it BETTER than you ever thought (at the beginning) possible?

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  24. I just had to tell you that your blog made me create a blogs I love folder in my bookmarks.
    I was worried about skin as well,
    but I think I will gladly embrace it as my battle scars instead.
    It will serve as my reminder of my fight with obesity, poor self esteem and self consciousness.
    I think your are are fab not flab by the way. Your story is so inspiring.

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  25. Your arms look great. I've only lost 50 lbs and my "flabby bits" have not been accepted as of yet. My mother and her friends call them "Angel Wings", but alas I live thru you vicariously and I am trying to accept them. Keep up your great work. I keep reminding myself this weightloss is also a journey not a destination. I am not going to stop eating and living healthy.

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  26. My flab is on its way. Later today I am having Lap Band surgery. My goal is to lose about 120 pounds. As I am 70,never to old to do something good for your self, I have two things in the not so great column. My weight and age. I expect to be a walking advertisement of why you should not let your self go. One wiggle giggle little old lady. But a little old lady that's alive and moving under her own steam. I have given a lot of thought to sagging skin and have decided, so be it. It can't be any worse than looking like a barrel. My age and pocket book prohibit any thought of cosmetic surgery to get rid of loose skin so it goes where I go. And I plan on going where ever I darn well please for as long as God lets me do it.

    Sorry this is turning into more about me than you. Any how, I will be honest and say one of the first things I looked at in your photo where your arms. And I thought they looked super. Don't think twice about it, go strapless, wear what ever makes you happy. As the old saying goes, You have come a long ways Baby.

    Best of luck in the future. I wish you a long life full of love and happiness.

    Joan

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  27. Lynn, I think you look absolutely awesome and I am quite sure that guy was checking out your guns!

    Best,
    Molly

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  28. I think your arms they look great- that was my first reaction. I, too, am trying to get my head wrapped around the fact that I have to lose weight for ME and when I mentioned my fear of flabby bits with a huge weight loss ( I need to lose about 180lbs) my sister's response was "Who cares? You'll be thin!" It made me realize that flabby bits are nothing compared to the label 'morbidly obese.'

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  29. I am DOUBLY glad I "discovered" your blog....the loose skin is something I am having a VERY hard time dealing with/accepting. I JUST recently was able to stop seeing it as loose skin and not as fat. That's how sick my perception had been. Still not sure if I will eventually get it surgically removed or not but I want to work on building up my muscles first before deciding. Thanks for the pictures and transparency you are showing about yourself Lynn! You are helping so many of us!

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  30. You are so real, so inspiring. Your arms are fantastic! But its your humility & humour that I love reading. Your a blessing.

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  31. I totally agree, you are very inspiring! I have my own loose bits of flab that I am learning to grow old gracefully with, but you have also motivated me to keep going with my own fitness goals - thanks so much!

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  32. Thank you for this one! I'm just starting my weight loss journey, but since I've had the weight for more than a decade and I'm in my 40s, I'm expecting the same issue to crop up no matter how much I exercise or tone. Speaking about it has to be a character strengthener, and I applaud your courage.

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  33. Those are some Michelle Obama arms! They're gorgeous and strong. I don't even know you and that pic makes me happy for you.

    I'm always worrying about loose skin. I gained my weight fairly recently (after August 2010, when the photo in my profile was taken) and extremely quickly -- 70 pounds in well under a year. I don't have any major stretch marks, but I just turned 40 and can't tell that my skin is really starting to age. Your fantastic attitude (and great-looking arms) have given me some very timely encouragement. Thank you!

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