A longer story
We’re forever forming (and transforming) matter. Physical descriptions don’t really matter. Or maybe they matter way too much. Can you describe yourself physically without any prejudices? With no a priori? No fear? No hesitation? Without any emotional charges positive or negative? Tall/short, fat/thin, blond/brunet, bald/hairy. Aren’t those supposed to be description adjectives? When did the world made them into qualities? Why is it ok for us to say “that tall lady”, but we’re being prejudiced if we say “that fat boy”?
I’m tall (for Brazilian average), almost blond (it depends on the sun), I have green small eyes, long fingers, one flappy ear and a normal one. And I’m thin! Indeed. I wasn’t. I’ve never been. Now I am. And do not think the description comes easy or naturally – even if the world sees this “thin” as the ultimate compliment of all.
Well, now’s that time where I tell you that I lost (or eliminated) a total of 40Kg and I should attach those nice before/after pictures, right?
Here you’re not going to find the standard before/after shot that so many media flash when they talk about lifestyle (and body) change. I don’t discriminate who does that. Each and everyone of us know what’s the best way to deal and cope with the process. I’m not ashamed of the body I had before. I just don’t like the idea that, for me, hides behind those comparisons. It is as if the before was wrong/ugly and the now is the right/beautiful version of me.
I rather share food pictures. Or nice shots of my nieces. Or Parisian blue skyline.
You won’t gave the before and after picture, but you will have a long text with the before and after short story. Get ready for it! I should be telling this on a Podcast (hint, if you have a Podcast, do invite me to join for it’s my ultimate dream). Well, for now, I write.
Let’s start from the beginning… mommy and daddy met at grandma’s restaurant. They fel in love. Got married and then, decided they wanted to have kids. Voilà, baby Luana was born. I’m the oldest (of two). So much joy and happiness. Except for the fact that, eventually, people realised that I had manufactured defect, aka, I had bilateral congenital hip dysplasia. Congenital, meaning I was born with it, and bilateral ’cause it was (is) on both my legs. I have hit the jackpot. It’s a long story that is irrelevant now but, let me tell you that, the side effect of that condition is a huge detrition of the head of my femur and a 90 year old lady arthrosis before I was even 20. I’ll only say one thing: IT HURTS! A lot! A 100% of the time!
Another consequence of the dysplasia is that I can’t do physical activities. I can’t run, jump, ride a bike… Anything that causes impact or may help to use even more my femur articulation. It’s quite nice when you’re a teenager that has a lifetime excuse to get out of gym class. And it’s interesting when you get older and manage never to go to a gym because you are not able to. But then what? How do you do when you need to loose weight?
I ask and I answer. You swim. I can swim. And I have to. And I hate it (or hated, but I’ll come back to that latter). No one is ever happy with what they have. That’s normal. I thought it was too boring and lonely to stick your head under water and swim from one side to the other of a pool. Result of it: a very sedentary life and with medical approval, that would say I should walk as little as possible.
I think that, in a certain way, I always carried my deficiency with some pride – not for the limitation per se, that people could barely notice, but I like ti think that I always handle it with dignity and bravery, making it a mere detail in my life, like if it was a supporting actor, third of forth caracter on my life main plot. Imperceptible, secondary, but quite real, aching and physically exhausting because of those pains. On the other hand, I’ve always lived this discomfort as being part of myself. I don’t even know if I could recognise myself without the pain and I don’t see in it no kind of masochism or self-pity. It’s just something that’s inherent to myself and I never liked it when people would give too much importance to my suffering or my condition (for lack of better word). It was not altruism, nor denial. Eventually a certain fear of being defined by the deficiency which I didn’t consider to be a big issue after all.
I didn’t consider but, with time, I was forced to start considering. The pain increased, the limitation got bigger and the purity that I used to attach to my speech when I would say “I have a ‘problem’ in my legs” gave place to the understanding and the conscious use of the so threatened word “handicap”. I kept seeing myself as that little girl with ‘a problem with her legs’, but now anyone could understand this handicap as they wanted and, for that, I felt I wanted this matter more and more private.
Ok, now that I have cried my river about my handicap you wonder: “girl, if you wanted to keep it all to yourself, why on earth are you still blabbing about it? “Well, all this talk is just to let you know that I’ve spent all my life hearing that I had to lose weight. All my life doctors would tell me that the less weight I put on my legs, the better. That they would suffer less. And, of course, just to place the small pretty cherry on top of it, I’m as human as the next person, and of course that my wish to lose weight would go far beyond my poor little legs. Of course I was not happy with my body. We’re talking about the 90’s when all this talk about body positive and acceptance didn’t exist. By the way, I think the people that embody those movements were getting born.
I speak of what I know and I find it very unfair when people think that vanity is not enough motivation for someone to lose weight (or to go out there and change something physically or psychologically). I believe that every motivation is worthy of being embraced and each one of us knows what it is that makes us move ourselves. For me, apparently, the Doctor “telling me to” was not enough. – At least not at that moment. And vanity wasn’t either.
I hate it when I hear those truths like “someone’s only fat because they want to”, ou “he/she doesn’t lose weight for lack of willpower”. For me, there is no bigger proof of willpower than a person who faces a certain diet (whichever it is) and then, even if that diet doesn’t work (for whichever reason) they go out there and try a different one, and a different one, and so on. I never had that kind of willpower. I never tried the diets. I did flirt with a couple of them, but I never got to it. I had as a fact that I would never lose the weight. I used to say that I had a ‘slow metabolism’. That I couldn’t do any kind of sports. That I was hard to please when it came to food and that if I didn’t like salad and vegetables I could never go on a diet. Anyway, I decided I was fat and that I was going to be fat forever because I couldn’t do what was necessary in order for that to change.
But than, it came a day where something did change. I can give you a precise date that would turn this post into a beautiful overcoming story. I can tell you that one day the pain got so bad that they started to be unbearable and I decided that it was time to get my femur prothesis. O can tell you about how I pent months remembering the words of my orthopedist saying “our goal is to postpone the surgery because you’ll ask for the first one, but for the next ones, I play the cards”. Ok, prothesis got more modern but I was still too young to be able to spend my whole life with the same one. I can tell you that I went to see a different Doctor, one that was specialised in hips, and he told me “I can operate on you tomorrow, you’re a healthy girl. Buuuuuut, if I were you, I would lose some weight in order to obtain a longer prothesis life”. I can tell you that I left the office crying my eyes out, but that at that precise moment I decided to schedule an appointment at an endocrinologist, who led me to my nutritionist, who made me lose the weight, making me not need the operation for now. I can tell you that cute story, but now, when I look back, I don’t think that that was actually the exact moment that made de difference. It’s like when we explode for no reason. It’s that last drop before the glass of water overflows.
And it’s when that last drop hit the glass of water, that the planets align and things seem to move on their own. I left the Doctor’s office and texted a friend that would always talk to me about her awesome endocrinologist. Her office was all the way across town, but they accepted my health insurance and it was around my childhood neighbourhood. I thought it was worth trying. We did all the measurements and she ordered some exams. I was 103Kg (about 230lb). When I got back with the results she said: “you don’t have no heath problem, all you need is a good nutritionist. I have one for you, but you can look for a different professional if you want to.” One of the things that made me bet on her (and her advice for the nutritionist) was her answer when I told her I could never diet for I didn’t like salad. She laughed and said that I was not a cow to only eat salad.
I explained that I was going on vacation within a week (20 days in Paris) and that I would never do a diet at that moment, so, that I was going to call the nutritionist once I got back. At that moment, she prescribed me a pill. Those “magic” pills. An appetite moderator. Simple stuff. She suggested that I took the pill with me on the trip and that it could help me to go easy on the gastronomic stravaganza that France would provide me. I’m scared. I had no courage to buy the pill. What if something went wrong in the middle of my vacation? I decided not to even think about that during my holidays. And so I did.
When I got back, I confess that the excitement about “let’s lose weight” was long gone and all I wanted was to schedule the prothesis surgery so I could move on with my post-op life. But I had promise myself I would give it a shot so I went to see the nutritionist. I still remember my mother saying: “we’ll go and see. If you don’t like it, we don’t have to go back.” And so we went. Me and her. And it was on that 2016 Thursday that my life started spinning 180°.
My appointment with Hevoise lasted about two hours and I was brutally honest (with her and with myself) about my reality, my limitations (both physical and psychological), about my wishes, my needs and about my frustrations. I know that it’s part of a nutritionist’s job to listen to that story in order to be able to come with a plan tailored for me, but, nevertheless, some professionals are the living proof of such thing as a professional calling. It’s not enough for us to talk and for someone to listen it. You need them to actually hear and comprehend what you’re saying. Among a lot of things I explained that I was addicted to coke-zero and that I didn’t like salad. That I would not eat veggies. That I loved cheese. That I thought I was addicted to sugar and that I would like to try and cut sweets for a while. My mom said: “Luana wants to lose weight eating pasta everyday”.
When I left her office I was feeling pretty confident for I was under the impression that someone had listen to what I had to say and was going to design something according to my weird lifestyle. She said that there’s was no problem in eating pasta everyday and that coke-zero was very bad for my heath but, with so many changes, maybe we shouldn’t touch that detail right now. Think about it… how many times in your life you thought you’d run into a nutritionist that would tell you that it’s ok to eat pasta everyday and that it’s all right if you’re addicted to coke-zero? Of course it ain’t the ideal if you just have pasta everyday and your coke-zero addiction is sort of ok (or actually, not ok at all), but the fact that we would tackle “one thing at a time” made me feel more than understood. It made me feel RESPECTED!
Voltei uma semana depois para pegar o plano alimentar que consistia em… COMER MACARRÃO TODOS OS DIAS! E tinha pão, e tinha queijo e tinha peixe e carninha de vez em quando (eu contei que não era muito fanática por carne vermelha). E tinha frutas. TODAS! Sem essa de uma é mais calórica do que a outra. As frutas (in natura) seriam as substitutas dos doces. E, sim. Tinha salada e legumes. Como opção. Se eu quisesse me aventurar. Eram a vontade, caso eu me interessasse. Era inverno e minha mãe lembrou que eu gostava muito de sopa (a única maneira de me fazer comer legumes). A nutri disse que se a sopa não tivesse tubérculos, nem proteína, eu poderia comer a vontade. Bingo! Já tinha minha porção de legumes garantida pela sopinha.
On that day we didn’t talk about weight goals or measurements. We just established that the important was that I would be in good heath and that, eventually, my legs could hurt less. I said I used to swim 2 ou 3 times a week. I was not considered to be sedentary. And she was very emphatic when she told me I should bot become the crazy gym chick. That I shouldn’t do anything that I would not be able to keep doing ‘for the rest of my life’ because that would only make me regain the lost weight whenever I stoped my new pseudo-habit. I left with my 100sh kilos and no big expectations, but I kept thinking it was worth to try.
The idea was to go grocery shopping on the weekend in order to get ready to face the challenge starting on the famous Monday. We got busy during the weekend and for some reason it was already Sunday night and no one had thought about taking a walk on the supermarket. Monday arrived and during lunch I said to my mother: “would you go grocery shopping with me tonight?” I thought it could mean something to start my diet on a Tuesday, taking away the weight o the so feared Monday. It may sound silly, but, at times like this, any nonsense that can lift you up, counts.
And so, that’s how it all began.. on June 28th, 2016. A Tuesday.