Ask Aunt Fattie: Post-pregnancy clothes and premenstrual syndromes

Dear Aunt Fattie;

I have a fat activism conundrum. I am (was?) a thin fat-acceptance ally, and a survivor of anorexia. Three weeks ago I gave birth to a gorgeous baby girl. I am euphoric over my baby, and determined to help her grow up to love her body.

Here is the thing, though – like many women, I’m bigger now than before I got pregnant. A fair bit bigger, though still in the non-plus range. I weighed about 120lbs before, and though I haven’t weighed myself, I would estimate that I weigh between 140-150lbs now.

Now, I think I look hot, and I feel great. I’m certainly no less attractive or healthy than I was before. However, none of my non-maternity clothes fit, and it’s driving me a bit nuts.

I know there’s a good chance that at three weeks postpartum, my body hasn’t settled on what size or shape post-baby me is going to be. And I keep catching myself hoping I will end up small enough to fit into my old clothes. I spent years building up an awesome wardrobe, and the idea of replacing it is overwhelming. I refuse to engage in weight-loss activity (for political reasons and for my own mental health), but does keeping my old clothes around count? Should I get rid of them all and start rebuilding my wardrobe? Or should I hold off on doing that because of the possibility I will end up the size I was before, even though that feels like an anti-FA thing to do?

Thanks,
A Stranger in a Strange New Body

First of all, congratulations! Aunt Fattie wishes you the best of luck in raising your child to be body-positive; you are working against remarkable odds, but your determination is an inspiration.

On to your question. Certainly it is a fat-acceptance chestnut to urge the discarding of “skinny clothes.” The size 18 woman with a closet full of 12s is devoting physical, and by extension probably mental, space to vestiges of her lost smaller body; cleaning out that space is both symbolically and practically useful. But is it really beneficial across the board, or are there important exceptions? Is the size 18 whose closet is peppered with 16s required to haul them out to Goodwill? Must those who were recently ill, medicated, pregnant, or simply snugged up in winter fat do a relentless closet purge?

Aunt Fattie thinks not. After all, though deliberate weight loss is almost never permanent, the same is generally true of weight gain beyond one’s natural range. It’s quite common to return to one’s usual body size, more or less, after unusual circumstances. If you are overzealous in ridding your closet of smaller clothes, you risk having to go naked once you rebound to your former size. At best, you are stuck buying two new wardrobes — one in your temporary larger size, and one when you bounce back. (It’s the same thing many of us have gone through after diets: we gleefully give away or donate our fat clothes, only to have to buy them anew when our metabolisms plateau.) And everyone has a certain amount of natural size variation; it’s nice to be able to dress ourselves no matter what season or time of the month it is, which can mean having different sizes around.

If those clothes are holding you back psychologically — if you are spending time standing in front of your closet pining for your old body, or resenting your child because your clothes don’t fit, or falling back into eating disordered habits, then by all means, sell them or give them away. This is a demanding time in your life, and the last thing you need is to be surrounded by clothes that you see as symbolic of pain or failure. And you must certainly be prepared to give up on them a few years down the road, if it seems that your body is settling into a larger size or a different shape, both of which are common after pregnancy.

In the meantime, though, Aunt Fattie sees no harm (if you see no harm) in putting your current beautiful wardrobe into boxes, buying yourself some clothes that fit right now, and waiting to see what your body will do. If you return to your usual weight naturally, you can give away the new clothes, or save them to be your post-baby clothes if you have a second sprog.

Dear Aunt Fattie,

Every single freakin’ month, when that time comes around, I get insanely depressed about my weight, appearance, and single status. Three weeks out of every month I am a happy, independent 18 year old girl but when that week comes around, I have such a hard time with accepting my weight.

I’m 5’8″ and a size 8ish, work out 6-12 hours a week, and yet somehow I feel so ugly, fat, and unwanted sometimes. Please, please help me out. How do I deal with this? It’s starting to impact my health very bad, as my eating disorders tend to flare up around these times.

Sincerely,
Pissed Off

Regardless of the impression one might get from TV and tasteless misogynist humor, premenstrual depression is not a joke. Many women experience premenstrual depression and anxiety, also known as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (that’s the DSM-diagnosable version of PMS, the milder symptoms that most women get occasionally). This is a genuine mood disorder with a genetic component — it is not “all in your head.”

Aunt Fattie is not a doctor, and even a doctor would not be able to diagnose you through the internet. You must speak to your physician or gynecologist in order to get an official diagnosis and begin treatment (antidepressants are sometimes prescribed). But Aunt Fattie suspects that your monthly depression has nothing whatsoever to do with your body or your single status, both of which are worth celebrating, and everything to do with your hormones and your brain chemistry.

While you’re discussing PMDD with your doctor, you may also want to discuss options for therapy. PMDD has a clear physical component, in which hormone fluctuations affect neurotransmitters, but that doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t benefit from therapy. A competent therapist could help you find coping mechanisms to deal with disordered eating patterns, no matter what brings them on (because even if you have PMDD and it’s being treated, something else can trigger those habits if you don’t find a way to address them). And your mention of six to twelve hours a week of exercise makes Aunt Fattie rather suspicious about your claims that these disordered behaviors are limited to one week a month — unless you are a school athlete, this is a LOT of exercise. Of course, Aunt Fattie may be mistaken, and perhaps you do indeed feel energized and wonderful and healthy after 12 hours of weekly exercise, with no component of self-flagellation. In either case, please think of therapy along those same lines — nothing shameful, just something you do in pursuit of well-being.

If you’ve got your own questions on fat, fatshion, fatiquette, self-esteem, or body image, send them to auntfattie@gmail.com.

112 thoughts on “Ask Aunt Fattie: Post-pregnancy clothes and premenstrual syndromes

  1. I’ve got to ask — is 6-12 hours weekly really an excessive amount of exercise? Because that’s about what I get, and I am definitely no longer disordered in with regard to my body. I just, you know, do some Tae-Bo five or six days a week (40 minutes to an hour/day), do quite a bit of vigorous gardening (half an hour to an hour/day), take lots of walks with my kid (20-30 minutes three or four times/week), get a kick out of jumping rope (15 minutes or so/day), etc. I get in a good solid hour to two hours of exercise most days, and now I’m worried that I’m overdoing it. At the same time, I’d hesitate to tell a person who exercises for an hour to two hours most days that they’re overexercising, unless they say specifically that they’re doing it to lose weight or that they’re exercising in a really harsh manner. I know that Pissed Off’s letter was mostly about very low body image and weight concerns, but I’m not sure we can assume that her exercise comes directly from that — or that 6-12 weekly hours of exercise is too much.

    And if it is too much, I need to know! Eep.

    So, uh, thoughts? I really hope this didn’t come across as oppositional or anything — I am honestly curious.

  2. sarawr, if she’s counting stuff like walking and gardening, nope, I wouldn’t say it’s excessive; the nod to current ED behavior made me think she was logging 6-12 hours in the gym, but you’re right, she doesn’t say that specifically. Often I find that people who calculate their hours of exercise a week are counting only formal exercise (gym, classes, etc.). But that’s just an assumption.

    I suppose there’s also the question of what she does with the rest of her life. Someone who works full time and gets two hours of exercise a day may be letting other parts of her life fall by the wayside in favor of exercise. (Shit, I only have about 3.5 or 4 hours of classes a week, and I do my gymgoing WHILE I’m at work, and I still barely have time to do anything after work except go to my classes and collapse.) Again, isn’t necessarily, but MAY be. Someone with a softer schedule may just be making exercise a natural part of it.

  3. sarawr, you sound like you enjoy every minute of what you’re doing, exercise-wise, and that what you’re doing isn’t exercise for exercise sake so much as it’s an active lifestyle. I’d vote for the amount you do is fine.

  4. Correction: PMS is a set of symptoms observed by generations of women. It is real, and can vary from mild to debilitatingly severe.

    PMDD was created by **men** writing the DSM in an agreement with their cronies in the pharmaceuticals, who wanted a way to market prozac (whose patent was expiring) specifically to women under a different name–Sarafem. Rather than having women buy generic fluoxetine for the same purpose. It is another way in which the patriarchal medical establishment has pathologized women’s bodies.

    There’s no reason to call severe PMS anything other than severe PMS.

  5. Thanks, fillyjonk and Alyce. I kind of figured it was okay, but then… well, you know. If the intarwebz (especially someone here at SP) mentions that I might be doing something wrong, I will fret unceasingly. ;)

    Another thanks to you, fillyjonk, for realizing what I was trying to say and ask and not taking it as “OMG AUNT FATTIE UR SO MEEN.” As I re-read my comment I was like, “Damn, I sound kind of argumentative,” so I’m glad that it wasn’t taken that way (because I didn’t mean it that way).

    (End rambling. God.)

  6. There’s no reason to call severe PMS anything other than severe PMS.

    Unless, of course, you need medication, and need insurance to pay for it.

  7. Post-pregnancy clothes: Nine months on, nine months off is often TRUE. It’s well worth boxing them up – the good ones, not the junky ones – and seeing what happens to your body over the next while.

    PMS is horrible. I love Evening Primrose Oil and its GLA-soaked cousins.

  8. I don’t have the awesome justification of pregnancy and birth, but I have gained weight recently. I have spent some time in the last week removing too-small clothing from my drawers and closet. I don’t have the room, mental or physical, for them. I’m not ready to give them away so they are going in boxes in the attic, at least temporarily.

  9. It’s also good to remember that sometimes you naturally get back to the weight you were before the kidlet/medication/depression/winter and find that you are a different shape then you were the last time you were that weight. In any case, be honest with yourself about how the clothes make you feel and if you don’t feel fantastic, hand ‘em on and get something new.

    Things to keep for 1-2 years just in case? Good suits/dresses. Blue jeans. Blouses that you love.

    Things to get rid of even if…? Things that are generally easily replacable and go in and out of fashion. And bras. Never underestimate the psychological value of a good, well-fitted bra.

  10. Mae, it’s not really about excuses or justifications, just about whether you can reasonably assume that you’re going to need those clothes again. With a pregnancy, the likelihood is high. With regain when returning to normal eating after a diet, it’s low. With your recent weight gain, it would depend on the reason! But it definitely makes sense to keep things around (if you like them) for at least a while, until you see how it pans out.

  11. Let the doctors bill insurance for PMDD if they must, there’s no reason for us to allow the DSM to take over our popular lexicon anymore than it already has. (“He strikes me as narcissistic personality disorder.” “She’s kinda borderline.” “Bipolar bipolar bipolar! Everyone and everything bipolar!” “I’m feeling ADHD today.” “OMG I am so OCD about this!” “Maybe he’s not a jerk, maybe it’s Asperger’s!” etc.) It’s an insidious trend.

    Speaking here as a survivor of psychiatric abuse. It gets my bloody goat.

  12. Lily, I see your point, but on this particular one I disagree. PMS has been so stigmatized that telling a woman she suffers from PMS (even as gently as one can) is likely to prevent her from seeking treatment, and make her retreat into self-blame. I feel like the pathologizing serves a purpose here — it says “this is a recognizable, physical problem, not just wimminz getting all emotional.” I know that many people who suffer from mental illnesses whose symptoms are often treated dismissively (depression, anxiety, ADD in adult women, etc.) find it to be a distinct relief when they hear that they have a recognized condition.

    Would it be better if we could destigmatize PMS without having to resort to a proliferation of medical terminology? Maybe, but I think the same purpose is served.

  13. I think storing old clothes that don’t currently fit for a set amount of time is perfectly reasonable. Our bodies are in flux, our economy is in flux, no reason not to hedge our bets on both. As long as you aren’t storing it “until you diet away the pounds” I think you’re okay.

    Also, for Pissed off, in addition to what the wise Aunt Fatty said. A note on BC. Being on it or off it does seriously effect your monthly moods. (Obviously)

    I was on Ortho-Tri Cyclin for a long time and it turned me into a depressed and also mean person for a week every month. Normally when I am behaving irrationally I can step outside myself and say “i am beinaving irrationally and therefore I am now going to go do these things that make me feel better until I am feeling more myself.” But on Ortho-Tri I would just break down crying and occasionally throw things. Improperly done dishes != Steel Toed Boot + Boyfriends head

    If she is on BC she may want to re evaluate the type she is on. She also may want to consider going on a gentle version if she is not. My Gyno and I are both on Yasmin and that works well for us. She may want to talk to hers about what her options are in that arena. (Sometimes it takes a few tries to find a pill that doesn’t cause mood issues. So that should be kept in mind.)

  14. Great point, shinobi! And it does vary widely with pill type — if your BC is making you extra-depressed, anxious, or mean before your period, that doesn’t mean you have to go off hormonal BC entirely. Experimentation is onerous, but people can often find a brand that not only doesn’t make their PMS symptoms worse, but actually improves them.

  15. Re: the postpregnancy body question, please keep in mind that it takes at least six weeks for the uterus to return to its normal size following a pregnancy, and of course nearly all women gain weight in “maternal stores” that they will lose quite gradually after the baby is born. At three weeks in, it’s too soon to tell what your body is going to do or how quickly — but it’s important to buy a few things that fit and look good in the meantime!

  16. And, truly, I think there IS a difference between severe PMS and the incredibly debilitating PMDD I’ve watched some of my friends experience. Severe PMS means one friend has cramps that make her want to call in sick to work. PMDD means another friend has depression and anxiety that make her nearly suicidal without medical intervention.

  17. Right… and we could redefine “severe PMS” to mean that debilitating depression and anxiety, but why?

  18. Liz: “It’s also good to remember that sometimes you naturally get back to the weight you were before the kidlet/medication/depression/winter and find that you are a different shape then you were the last time you were that weight.”

    Yup, for sure. After two pregnancies, my abdomen is much more slack and my waist size is bigger, although I weigh within five pounds of what I did in high school. My boobs are also different, with tops that used to be flattering being no longer flattering and vice versa. And I’m much hippier. Some of that is also the difference between a girl’s body and woman’s body… but I had my first child at 26 and my second at 30, and I noticed lasting changes after the first and yet more changes after the second.

    I think if you know and have a similar shape to your biological mom you can often get an idea for how your body will be permanently changed by pregnancy, by asking her.

  19. Ditto to what Ruth said. Three weeks post partum is nothing–think of what your body just did over the past nearly ten months. I’m a year postpartum and finally back to my prepregnancy weight and to some extent, shape. If I’d tossed my old clothes, I’d have nothing to wear right now. Buy a few things to get you through and just pack your prepartum stuff away for now.

  20. I agree with all the advice about pregnancy weight, keep the clothes a while longer. You’ll probably find that some fit and some do not in six months or so. I found that I definitely had more belly pooch after pregnancy, even after a year or so. That meant that most of my pants had to go, but the shirts and dresses were mostly just fine. Other women I’ve talked to have had their bust stay huge and the waist become normal. In this, as in many things, people vary.

    I never found a hormonal BC that didn’t send me into wild mood swings, it didn’t matter the time of the month. If you are on some, then you might want to look into a IUD, they are safe and effective now. I used a diaphragm myself, but we knew we wanted kids and a malfunction would not have been the end of the world. (Indeed, our last was a malfunction, and we love him very much.) If you aren’t on hormonal BC, then I’d try it; particularly one like Seasonal, where the hormones don’t fluctuate and see if that helps. Different women respond very differently to hormones, and it’s clear this is related to your hormones.

    I also have more trouble dealing with any stresses pre-period; so I try to schedule, as much as possible, to have my stresses at other times of the month. (Ovulation is great, I’m so resilient then!) Try giving yourself some extra self-care and see if that helps. Do something you really enjoy, something that takes you out of yourself, so you don’t focus on your body so much. I use a good book or a computer game to get things out of my head; but your interests are probably different from mine, so what works for you would be you-specific.

  21. Thanks for including my email, it’s something that really bothers me and I appreciate the advice.

    I never thought I could have PMDD because I’m already on anti-depressants. Shouldn’t that be helping?

    About the exercise: I started working out to get in shape and healthy, but now I’ve grown to be quite addicted to the high it gives me. My exercise isn’t part of my ED, it actually helps me feel better about myself. And those are the hours I log in the gym, otherwise I’m not too active e.g. I stand and sell movie tickets 8 hours a day 3-4 days a week.

    Thanks for all the help guys, I’ll go to see a doctor soon. Should it be a gyno or just a family practice doctor?

    Thanks

  22. I have PMDD, and I can promise you it’s different from PMS.

    Aside from becoming suicidally depressed some months, EVERY month I get physical symptoms. Meaning my boobs swell up two inches and start burning, I bloat up a pant size, and I get severe nausea. EVERY. MONTH. This has been going on for a year. I used to have PMS and was merely irritable and bloated every month. This is so much more, and so much worse.

  23. I’d just like to accent that the actual boxing up of the clothes that do not fit is an essential point. I really feel like it’s important to get them out of sight to help get the negative thinking out of mind. It’s a very liberating feeling when you can look in your closet or drawers and know that everything in there will fit.

    As far as the birth control issue goes, I’ll completely echo Shinobi that that can really mess you up. I’m one of those lucky ducks who had to go off it completely because, after trying 8 different brands of pills, I never found one that didn’t make me depressed. No hormones for me. I <3 my IUD. :) Definitely talk to your doctor, PO. There is so much that s/he can offer in this department!

  24. Shinobi is so, very, right. My experience was a little different, ortho-tricycline was great for me in most ways, but when i switched to Loestrin for the benefits (iron supplement instead of placebo, shorter lighter periods) it was supposed to offer, i had horrible uncontrollable mood swings the week or so before my period. it was scary. Now i too am on Yasmin and it is great for me.

    It’s amazing how different each of our bodies are, i tried Loestrin because a close friend had a wonderful experience with it.

  25. And I’m on Loestrin (or rather, its generic) because I didn’t like Yasmin!

    And even a single person’s responses can vary over time. When I went back on HBC after being off it for a while, I went on Desogen because it had treated me fine as an adolescent — and it made me completely keyed-up and irritable.

  26. fillyjonk, I suppose my comment ended up sounding differently than I meant it.

    Three weeks after birth seems a little premature for throwing up one’s hands and declaring your old body shape/size gone forever. I would consider it easy to justify leaving clothes in closets and drawers– or putting them aside if they bother you– for at least a couple more months.

    Maybe I sound bitter because my weight gain is post-WLS. Virtually everyone on the planet outside of FA would call weight gain less than a year AFTER WLS– after only a small amount of weight loss– completely “unjustified.”

    Of course, I would like to wholeheartedly disagree. I am trying to disagree, some days with more success than others. But sometimes my one little heart is not strong enough.

  27. There’s a big difference between “allow[ing] the DSM to take over our popular lexicon” and respecting medical conditions as such. I’m sorry to hear that a reader has suffered psychiatric abuse; please don’t inflict it on others with such flippant and dismissive remarks.

  28. “PMS is horrible. I love Evening Primrose Oil and its GLA-soaked cousins.”

    GLA-soaked cousins. I have read in a few places that, for those of us with a history of breast cancer in the family, we might want to duck away from Evening Primrose Oil in favor of other EFA sources (flax, borage, fish, black currant seed).

    The good news is that there are lots of other choices out there.

  29. I never thought I could have PMDD because I’m already on anti-depressants. Shouldn’t that be helping?

    Probably (though I don’t really know!), but it can’t hurt to talk to a doctor about it. You may need more antidepressants or different antidepressants, for instance, or they may want to regulate your hormones instead of your neurotransmitters.

    Carry on up the charts with your exercise — it sounded like a red flag to me, but I’m glad it wasn’t, and I appreciate you clarifying.

    I would say that if you like and trust your gyno, you should go to the gyno — only because s/he is likely to have more training in this particular area.

  30. I totally hear you about the Pill changing. I was on Ortho Novum for over 4 years, and my last 6 months on it were nuts. I was going insane with PMS, absolutely couldn’t control my emotions to the point that I frightened myself. So I went on Yasmin which gave me the worst period of my life every month. So, for 5 months, each period was significantly worse than the one before. And considering Yasmin is apparently bad for people with migraines (and I am one) I got off that ASAP.

    I had a lot of luck with the diaphragm, for those shopping for a birth control method.

  31. Mae, didn’t mean to imply that you sounded bitter — it was just a useful jumping-off point to talk about excuses. That’s a formulation we all use, even those of us who aren’t really bitter at all, and it’s worth calling out because we don’t want to get in the habit (or rather, we want to get out of the habit) of thinking of fat as something that has to be justified or excused.

    I wonder if there are support groups online for people who didn’t lose weight or who regained weight after WLS? You are far from the only person who has had this experience, of course, and it has to be demoralizing — making this difficult decision that can actually endanger your health, only to have it completely fail to have the desired effect. I know post-WLS forums and discussion boards tend to discourage talking about the down sides of WLS, and I assume that would include the situations in which there’s no significant weight change. Does anyone know of alternate forums?

  32. Great answers both! But I do agree with sarawr that 6-12 hours a week hardly seems excessive and would not sound my ED alarm. That’s an hour or two a day with a rest day; I’d say two hours a day is about the top of a healthy range (excepting serious athletes), and that is the top of her range. Of course, the reasons for exercising, not the amount of exercise per se, are the salient factors in determining eating-disordered behavior, so her 6-12 hours may be unhealthy. But I wouldn’t assume as much from those numbers.

  33. P.S. Looking over previous comments, I realize this issue has been addressed. Didn’t mean to beat a dead…well, you know.

  34. I know of plenty of WLS support forums, and they are mostly filled with success stories and support for people who are finding theirs work for them, but I haven’t been made to feel unwelcome for being there. There just aren’t a lot of people posting for whom WLS has failed, and most of the advice is kind of… canned. And– I don’t know how to put this delicately– the quality level of discourse is not really up to that of the FA blogs.

    My husband has been encouraging me to try out a local, hospital-run support group that meets monthly, saying, basically, that I can’t be the only one who is having this experience.

    I would guess if shame is enough to keep me home, afraid of sitting in a roomful of slender people bemoaning their clothing budgets and trading the business cards of their plastic surgeons, it might be enough to keep those like me home.

    Sorry for the threadjack, peeps.

  35. Before developing PMDD, I never had any degree of PMS but I had had depressive episodes, and, whatever you call it, something that walks and talks exactly like a depressive episode (complete with backsliding into old disordered eating habits) except with a precisely-timed on/off switch is problematic and deserves treatment. Anyway, for Pissed Off, I did a lot of research about this and learned that every class of antidepressants they’ve run clinical trials on for PMDD has failed except SSRIs (Prozac, Zoloft, etc.), so if you’re on a different class of drug, that might explain why it’s not helping. Or it might just be a matter of a different dose or a different SSRI. Hormonal contraceptives are also sometimes prescribed (assuming you’re not on them already and they’re contributing to your symptoms) but the evidence that they help with psychological and emotional symptoms isn’t that good. Some people swear by them, though, so every individual case boils down to trial and error.

    I personally have other conditions that make hormonal BC contraindicated for me, which I evidently am better educated about than my gyn because I had to kind of strong-arm her into prescribing me an SSRI instead of BC. After a few months, I’m doing much better but have gathered that she’s not actually very familiar with managing this type of drug, so I might look for a psychiatrist to manage my meds instead. I’ve resisted that in the past because of the stigma of being a “psych patient,” but am getting over that. Anyway, all that is to say, educate yourself, do your best to find a doc you’re comfortable with, don’t give up if it takes multiple tries, and good luck.

  36. All this BC talk is fascinating — I’ve been on Orthotricyclen Lo for a few years now, but before that I was on Yasmin, which helped my cramps immensely but caused wild mood swings that I never had before. The variety of Shapeling experience on the same drugs is yet another reminder that bodies aren’t standard-issue appliances; they process drugs, food, exercise, and life experiences in wildly different ways.

  37. I am dealing with similar issues as the second person. My gyn was hesitant about strapping me with a PCOS diagnosis — I only get my period once in a blue moon (though for the first time in years, I’ve had 2 this year so far, without pills) and the pill doesn’t work very well either, except to make me feel wretched. So this time around, for whatever reason, I’m way sicker than I have been in the past. Can’t eat, can’t get comfortable, nothing is helping the pain, I’m wicked emotional, and I feel like I’m the size of a house. I have spent the past few weeks hating every square inch of myself and dreading a visit from my parents – who are completely accepting and awesome – in a few weeks. I absolutely hate to admit this, but I would like nothing more than to just disappear off the face of the earth until everything is like, 10 sizes smaller. Especially my boobs. And my ass. And my tummy.

    Hate. This.

  38. I see all the people talking about BC now…I was on Loestrin for like…years and it worked like a charm. And then it stopped. Then I didn’t have insurance and went off them. Then I was put on Yaz, which was the most horrible experience…ever. It was awful. I was horrendously sick with nausea for most of the three months I was on it and had breast tenderness so bad that I cried if I even brushed a boob with my arm. I’m not taking anything now because I can’t afford to see the doc or get the meds.

    /ramble

  39. Mae, this might be a silly question, but have you talked to your doctor about this? Asked him/her for referrals to support groups, information on how often this happens and why, requested that he/she run tests to make sure there’s not a problem hiding somewhere? Your experience sounds really hard and painful — surgery, complete restructuring of eating and lifestyle post-surgery, only to have the surgery not work at all — and it might be something your doctor could help out with. If nothing else, your doctor probably has heard of this happening before and might know of some groups or statistics that could help relieve your mind, you know?

    I hope it works out, somehow; you’ve got to be one awesome woman to go through all this and keep kicking at it.

  40. I’m in a similar situation as “A Stranger,” except change “had baby” to “quit smoking.” In my case, it’s probably more likely that my set weight is now higher (b/c smoking all those years was speeding up my metabolism), which is fine. What’s not fine is I don’t yet know where my body will land and I’m about to take a huge pay cut and go off to graduate school. I’ve been arguing with myself a lot lately, whether to buy new jeans, shirts, shorts, etc that actually fit, or put the money in the piggy bank to save for grad school (to be used to pay for necessities like rent and food). Clothes that don’t fit are the worst. But clothes that do fit cost more money than I have. Maybe I should use my two months off this summer to learn how to sew. *grimace* My strategy so far has been to buy empire-waist style summer dresses since those will fit me pretty much the same whether I’m on my low-end or high-end weight.

  41. sarawr, I need a doctor, a good one.

    My surgeon is very, very far away, as in, a four-and-a-half hour flight and over night stay far away. Call me cynical, but based on knowledge of his practice and others’ experiences with him, I am pretty sure what I’d get is an admonishment to eat less and exercise more. Or, maybe I’d get a cute little session with his cute little nutritionist, complete with tiny rubber fake foods designed to teach me portion sizes. Because, you know, I’d never heard of such a thing as portion control.

    My primary doctor (ironically) got very, very judgey with me for getting the WLS– she didn’t approve it– and basically is unable to communicate with me about anything now. I need a new primary doc but am feeling gun shy.

    I’m just sick of doctors right now, I guess, can you blame a girl?

  42. Yeah, I wouldn’t trust a bariatric surgeon to react rationally when someone’s not losing weight from bariatric surgery.

    Here’s the fat-friendly health professionals list, which might help, and I’ve also had some luck with ratemds.com. I think there are several other physician rating sites as well, but I haven’t tried them.

    sumac, you could go to the thrift store and eat for a day — or you could learn to sew and eat for a lifetime. Maybe you were joking, but seriously, learn to sew — I wish I’d done it before grad school. (I still haven’t worked up my nerve, though I did finally bust out the machine to hem something — I tend to get really overwhelmed by crafty stuff and worry that if I’m not doing pro-level work right off the bat, I terminally suck and can’t ever learn. DON’T BE THAT GUY)

  43. p.s. I vote for Nuva Ring as a fabulous, low-dose-hormone alternative to the Pill. I can’t take the Pill because of how moody and awful it makes me feel (tried for years and years), but since I switched to the Ring, I haven’t had a single side effect from the Ring. Plus, you insert it once a month, so it’s a lot harder to screw up and miss a day.

  44. sumac, you could go to the thrift store and eat for a day — or you could learn to sew and eat for a lifetime. Maybe you were joking, but seriously, learn to sew — I wish I’d done it before grad school.

    I hear you. I am totally that guy. Hate doing things I’m not good at right away. It doesn’t help that I am the least coordinated and talented person ever to put a needle to thread. I just seem to have no ability for it at all. But perhaps you are right and I need to have patience.

  45. Mae, I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. You are definitely not alone in having a failed WLS. Have you seen the blog Big Fat Delicious (http://bigfatdelicious.blogspot.com/) ? Mariellen, the awesome owner of the blog, had WLS that ultimately did not work (though I’m not exactly sure if her story is similiar to yours or if she lost some weight and regained). She is a great writer and her posts are always interesting to read, so if you haven’t seen her blog yet, you might wander over!

    Also, I can so feel you on the doctor fatigue, but I hope you will keep looking; a good place to start is the Fat Friendly Health Professionals list (http://www.cat-and-dragon.com/stef/Fat/ffp.html). If you haven’t already, you might also ask some of your fatter friends about their doctors and whether or not they have been friendly and accepting. You do not deserve to be going through this, and I hope you find a doctor smart enough to realize that. I can see from your comments that you already are developing the right attitude of avoiding people who will blame you, but won’t help you, so I’m sure with some hunting and some luck, you will get someone to pay attention.

  46. You do! Be a better man than me, sumac! You can do it!

    If you start learning to sew I promise I will too.

  47. I am so, so thrilled for this post. It echoes what I wrote on the Big Fat Blog “Congratulations” post comment thread and I was feeling very alone. I am 10 lbs. above my prepregnancy weight (which was obese and affected by Graves [thyroid] disease). I felt shunned by other fat acceptance “allies” for just announcing that it might be possible that I could still lose those 10 lbs.–in likely not a radical way. If I weren’t so exhausted from parenting my little girl and working full time, I think I would be crying right now. Thank you.

  48. Thanks fillyjonk & Jae for the link. There’s not a ton in Atlanta, Georgia but its a good start. And, I can keep my eye on it.

    Ah, yes, I love bigfatdelicious. Mariellen has a lot more strength than I do, I’ve found her writing to be very inspiring.

    I just had an “accidental” weigh-in yesterday for the first time in months and am feeling really down about it. Thanks for being kind and encouraging, Shapelings.

  49. Give your body more time to adjust to its new shape and size. Especially if you are breast feeding your body may hang onto those extra pounds until you stop. And please do not be hard on yourself if you are hungry. If breastfeeding you are not sustaining life for a much bigger and quickly growing baby. More calories are sometimes needed for this to be successful.

    Total agreement to getting new bras. Nursing bras are ok but not so supportive and your boobs, back and mirror will be thrilled if you allow yourself new supportive bras when done.

    The most important thing is to not let the body issues get in the way of enjoying the kiddo.

  50. “I hear you. I am totally that guy. Hate doing things I’m not good at right away. It doesn’t help that I am the least coordinated and talented person ever to put a needle to thread. I just seem to have no ability for it at all. But perhaps you are right and I need to have patience.”

    How could that be possible I am the least talented needle and thread girl ever! I fat chicks sewing circle would be a delight.

    Seriously, I am barely 5 feet tall and cannot even hem my own pants. I screw up during the cutting phase and it goes down hill from there. Learning to sew would be smart, economical and pretty cool.

  51. I would totally do Fat Chicks Sewing Circle! Although I have been a failure at getting Not Very Crafty Chicks Who Aren’t Fat Except Me Sewing Circle together (that was meant to be made out of my current group of friends).

  52. I am moderately crafty. I do a lot of crafts moderately well. I can needlepoint, sew moderately well, emproibroider and crochet. Should we start an on line sewing circle? “YouSew?”

    (I’m sortof like Sumac in that I don’t like to do things I’m not good at, weirdly I tend to be moderately okay at a lot of things until I get bored and go do something else. This is in part the reason that there is no form of excercize I actually enjoy. I am terrible at most physical activity and always end up feeling like an idiot and quitting. Aaaaanyway. )

    I am currently making needlepoint key chains for some friends. They seem very impressive and only take like 3 hours, which is the maximum of my attention span. Highly recommend!

  53. See, the reason I spend so much of my free time doing exercise (which is why it BOGGLES my MIND that the question-asker can easily do 12 hours a week — I don’t know how I’d find the time! I’d have to quit goofing off on the internet or something, and then my brain would explode!) is because that’s the only thing where I don’t get upset at myself if I can’t do it well right off the bat. Usually. Sometimes. Because I don’t have any expectations of myself — of course I would be clumsy and unathletic — so I can’t be disappointed.

  54. I’m ever so in for Fat Chicks Sewing Circle! I’ve managed to make a few wearable things, but have hit a bit of a wall. I definitely need it right now, as I stopped taking Paxil semi-recently and have no idea what my weight is going to do, but really need some new stuff in the meantime and don’t have a shitton of money to spend on it.

    And on related BC topics, this wasn’t funny at the time but is kinda funny now: I switched from Ortho Tri-Cyclen to Yaz for a few months and was ragingly depressed for the entire time. Yes, Yaz, which is clinically shown to help PMDD, which I probably have. Gotta love chemical differences!

  55. Yessssssssss, learn to sew! DOOOOO EEEET!

    Also, if there are any crafty or not-so-crafty-but-wish-they-were-craftier fatties in Florida, they are welcome at my house any time for sewing and general making of stuff.

    Fillyjonk, did you see my ridonkulous goth sundress? I have to figure out the damn tripod to take better pictures but WHOO HOO ruffler foot!

  56. As for birth control, I am also on a generic version of Loestrin and while my PMS comes with more anxiety flavor than its previous insecurity taste, I am pretty well pleased with it.

    The one thing I HAVE noticed is that my allergies flare up the day I start my period. I am hoping this is a fluke because if my sinuses rebel every 28 days I may have to dig them out of my head with a spork.

  57. Fillyjonk, did you see my ridonkulous goth sundress?

    No! You posted pictures already? I’ve been, uh, working really hard today! And not refreshing the blog constantly at all.

    The one thing I HAVE noticed is that my allergies flare up the day I start my period.

    Whoa, I may have to watch for this. I’m a notorious dumbass when it comes to noticing cause and effect with allergies — took me about 28 years to realize I even had seasonal allergies. (Yes, that means I just caught on this year.)

  58. I’m in for the Fat Chicks Sewing Circle, too!

    I just discovered that here in Germany, I’m suddenly in need of the (nearly non-existant) petit range of pant sizes. I can sew skirts and dresses, and probably blouses, but pants I don’t do. Luckily, I can hem.

    About the BC topics… Lo-Ovral made my PMS get worse, Ortho-Cyclen was ok for me–until my insurance co. made me switch to the placebo, which made me bleed 4 weeks out of 4. Not fun. Yasmin was ok, but I still got weepy and depressed and had the same physical PMS symptoms as I had before on Ortho-Cyclen (can we say “morning sickness” and horrible horrible cramps?). Yaz was a total disaster when my doctor decided I should go low-dose. Not quite on the scale of the generic Ortho-Cyclen clone, but close. Then my endocrinologist suggested Diane-35, and I tried it over the objections of my gyno (“it’s a higher dose, so you’ll probably have more side effects!”), and my weepyness is nearly gone and the morning sickness and cramps with it.

    Nothing like trial and error with pharmacology to make life interesting…

  59. If Pissed Off really likes to exercise/work out, she might want to join a sport. Working out on my own used to make me feel the need to lose weight, and I would find myself comparing my body to that of other girls at the gym because i’m simply a competative person, and that was the focus of the workout. Working out with others, for my sport, is different because I feel I’m now working to make my body stronger, faster, and healthier. Team sports are also a great way to meet people and may help with low self-esteem (at least that’s what happened with me).

  60. I posted a quick and dirty picture (not, like, DIRTY, just no makeup, no proper shoes, that sort of lack of context) in the comments to my sewing entry over on Livejournal (and it is in my Flickr stream), but you haven’t missed any Proper Photos, no worries. I am trolling Joanns looking for more gothy fabric though because I think I’ve finally hit on a good wardrobe for Convergence that is coming up. In August. In Ybor. In the sweltering heat.

    The allergies thing…. I only noticed the correlation (which, as we all know, does not equal causation *grin*) recently – my period was so super irregular before that it never occurred to me it might be related. It’s nice knowing exactly when I’m going to start on the birth control, I have to say.

  61. Also (I promise I’ll start saying everything in one comment instead of two), I’d be totally down with an online Fatty Sewing Circle or other crafty group.

    PLEASE SOMEONE MAKE THIS EXIST.

  62. Yay sewing whee!

    Right this second I’m wearing a dress that I made, I spent less the $15 on materials (99 cent Simplicity pattern, 100% wool fashion fabric, lining, zipper, and matching thread) and it was really very fast to make. It fits perfectly at the bust waist and hips unlike any Ready-to-Wear dress I’ve ever bought. LEARN TO SEW LEARN TO SEW LEARN TO SEW.

    On the topic of BC, I’m the only person I’ve ever met who was able to handle the Depo-Provera for 4 years although I do think it might be behind my fat but that’s pretty difficult to confirm. I really don’t respond to hormone fluctuations at all. I just switched to generic Ortho-Tricyclen (Sprintec?) because the Depo was too spendy, so far I haven’t noticed a damn bit of difference except that I’m a dork about remembering to take it at the right time and I’m praying I don’t get preggo.

  63. I totally want in on the fatty sewing circle. I already sew, but only moderately well, and I am so incredibly sick of shopping ready to wear.

    Unless someone has a better idea, I can start something on blogspot…

  64. On BC: I’d been on Yasmin and it gradually stopped being effective (taking it for my really bad cramps), and I tried a couple of other kinds – and ended up having PMS weeks where I was near-suicidally depressed. (I also had stopped taking antidepressants earlier, but it was so much worse during PMS week that it was pretty clearly hormonal.) Seasonale was really helpful for me. (And going back on antidepressants, but that’s another long story.)

  65. Ok, for some reason this isn’t showing up….

    I started fatchickssew.blogspot.com Come on over?

  66. Oooh, I used to sew but stopped. I got a sewing machine for Christmas but so far have only used it for hemming and very minor alterations. I’d definately be into a sewing circle.

  67. This comment might be too far down to ever be read, but on the PMDD front: TRY LYBREL! Seriously, ask your doctor about Lybrel! I spent the last 20 years regularly becoming — literally — suicidal during the week or so before my period. Lybrel has eliminated my period, and thus the suicidal episodes. It’s 100% better than any other birth control pill I’ve tried
    LYBREL!!!

  68. *delurks* My first comment! I hope I do this right.

    My PMS symptoms have generally (not every month) eased up since I started taking calcium supplements. I stopped drinking milk when I went off the bottle so it seems like a good idea to take them “just in case” especially now that I’m lactose intolerant. Of course, I’m aware that it could just be psychosomatic; because I think the calcium helps with PMS then it does, but hey, not arguing.

    I’m curious since there are so many people who have had experience with various types of BC, so I’ll ask: I went on the Pill a number of years ago (in a doctor’s misguided attempt to stop the symptoms of multiple cervical polyps instead of finding said polyps, long story) and in the mere three months I lasted, it KILLED my libido. I mean, there was just nothing left. I’ve stayed far away from all forms of hormonal BC since then but I remember that feeling still. Is this a common occurrence or a rare one or are y’all looking at me going “What the heck?”

    DRST

  69. Oooh, birth control fun. I was in an LTR and on Microgynon for ages with no side-effects, but I am as scatterbrained as a small scatterbrained mouse and kept forgetting to take it and having to ring the helpline people to ask, “So, if I took it Monday and Tuesday, then 13 hours late on Wednesday, then on Thursday, then not at all on Friday…am I covered?” And they understandably would be like, “…We don’t know.To be on the safe side, use a condom?” and in the end it just wasn’t worth it because we were having to use condoms as often as not.

    So I got Depo-Provera. NEVER AGAIN. Before DP I would go to the Indian and share a starter, main, rice and naan, and be more stuffed than I’d been in my life. After it I would eat the WHOLE of ALL of those and still be hungry for dessert. I realise for some people that’s their natural appetite, but for me it was such a huge departure I gained about 21 pounds and have never (permanently, safely) lost it since. I’m now back to my normal appetite (four years later) but still carrying those pounds. I’m pretty sure it permanently changed my set point.

    Then it turned out I was gay, and that was awesome, because I never have to worry about birth control again. Victory!

    I, also, desperately need to learn to sew. I have a disproportionate amount of awe for those who can make clothes. Make! Clothes! If I had a legitimate excuse to buy pretty fabrics I don’t think I wold ever have any money again.

  70. I feel the need to join the chorus of birth control stories. When I was a teenager, 1-2 days every month, I would hate myself and literally burst into tears if anyone looked at me cross-eyed. (And at the time, I was a hostess at one of those little town restaurants where the customers constantly whine and complain that you put them at THIS table and not THAT one, which is clearly superior. Not a good combination.) Starting the pill at 18 was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

    And OMG, I was so glad to see Mercy’s comment about getting morning sickness from the pill! I thought I was the only one that happened to! About a year after I started, I noticed that every time I forgot a pill and doubled up the next day, I was violently ill the following morning. So then I switched to the patch, and I love it. (Though now that I’m insurance-less and the patch is UNBELIEVABLY expensive, I may have to resort to the pill, plus a tattooing “TAKE PILL!” backwards on my forehead…)

  71. Caitlin, this:
    Then it turned out I was gay, and that was awesome, because I never have to worry about birth control again. Victory!
    made me lol. Irreverent, cheeky humor. I love it. ;)

  72. Caitlin, I know that feeling, the pill made me ravenous when I first went on it. I guess the hormones made my body think I was eating for two. For me though it settled down after a while, although my appetite does still seem to be bigger when I’m on the pill than when I’m off it. (I also seem to be thinner when I’m off it, but there are a lot of confounding factors).

  73. I’m totally on board for a sewing circle! Finally a use for my evil talents! And for anyone trying/learning to sew – be patient with yourself. Sewing takes a lot of patience (and a good seam ripper). Give yourself time and read the directions, and you’ll be fine. Also, swearing like a sailor helps.

    On the BC/PMS/PMDD discussion – I thought I had it bad with PMS before. Now I’m on fertility drugs and holy mother of god are my hormones awful. Zero to bitch in .2 seconds. I’m so thankful that I have an extremely loving husband.

  74. I get mood swings around my period; laughing one minute, crying the next and when I’m like this I never recognise it for what it is. Even if I have all the symptoms (sore boobs, cramps etc.) I’ll insist that it’s not my period, I’m just completely irrational.

    My partner noticed that the mood swings only happened around my period and he’s helping me understand that it isn’t me, it’s PMS, PMT, or PMDD – whatever you want to call it! Whenever I start getting mood swings now my partner – very tentatively – makes the suggestion that maybe, I could very well possibly, be getting my period. Then he ducks for cover. After he does this I come to my senses and realise what’s going on and stop thinking I’m going crazy.

    I haven’t found doctors to be useful at all, I even had one tell me that, “there a some people that don’t believe PMS exists” (clearly talking in third person). Grrr!

    On the sewing group idea: I have found it easier to find plus-size sewing patterns than knitting patterns. I’d like to find a nice plus-size jumper or vest pattern. Fatty sewing and knitting group?

  75. On wardrobes: I’ve been bouncing around the same 25-pound range for almost a year now due to medication trial-and-error, resulting in a closet of “big butt” skirts and one of “little butt” skirts. This has actually saved me money on clothes: every time the weight changes, I “shop” in the other closet. :)

    On premenstrual misery: I have PMS like the wrath of an Old Testament God. It’s not PMDD, either – that particular list of symptoms doesn’t fit the everloving hell I go through every month (or would go through, were it not for Lo-Ovral). Hell sucks.

    Lo-Ovral is less my friend than it used to be, though. Which is why I’m having an endometrial ablation at the end of the month. *crosses fingers*

  76. I’ll put in another voice for the idea that 6-12 hours of exercise is not particularly excessive. I think the really big thing is how she approaches it; is she enjoying the exercise? Does it increase the quality of her life? I know that if I get much less than 6 hours of exercise in a week, I start to feel depressed. While I usually do less than 12, I certainly put in about that when I’m heavily training for a big race; a lot of that may be a 4 hour run on a Sunday morning/afternoon. However, it’s something out of which I derive immense joy. I couldn’t see living my life otherwise.

    I also totally agree with hlynn that pissed off might want to consider playing a sport. I am mainly an individual sport person, and I mostly run (although I do go to the gym for weights and cross-training); it’s both incredibly simple, but one can always improve. Shorter distances, longer distances, speed, hills…it provides tremendous variety. And while I realize that not everyone is goal-oriented, I personally find that setting goals of running new distances or faster times really enriches my experience; breaking a PR feels damn good. Plus, and this is a big thing, when I’m focusing on improved performance, I’m focusing on what my body can DO rather than what it looks like. Team sports are great, too. Not only do you get to move your body and focus on performance rather than appearance, but you get a chance to meet new people or to get to better know others. I know that sports (individual and team) are not for everyone, and I absolutely respect that, but I just wanted to throw this out there as an option to consider.

    And I’ll echo some of the voices about BC here; wow, that stuff screwed me up. During the year that I was on Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo, I had some really bad panic attacks as well as depression. Plus, and I don’t know exactly how to explain this, but I felt stress shooting through my body a lot of the time when I was on the pill, and when my prescription ran out, I could just tell I needed a break. Almost immediately the problems got better, and it became really clear that they had been related to BC. I don’t have PCOS or any other outside issues that would require me to take BC, so I’ve promised myself that I’m not going to put artificial hormones into my body again unless necessary.

  77. I am totes down for a fatty sewing circle, especially since I cannot sew but want to. The last time I tried to sew anything, I was in home ec in junior high. I opted to make pillows in the shape of my name instead of shorts.

    I wonder how long it’s been since I wore shorts? Maybe seventh grade? It’s going to be a long summer.

  78. Regarding the PMS/moodswings, does anyone here have a good online herbalist resource? Evening Primrose Oil was mentioned, and I know there are a slew of other herbal options to optimize allopathic regimens, but I really want someone knowledgeable to come up with a plan for me. As a plus-size woman I moving forward in my thirties, my PMS has defintiely gotten worse and while lowdose BCPs have made a signigicant difference, I like to avoid as many drugs as possible and turn to more natural solutions. I am very interesting working with someone in Chicago if anyone is local/regional, but of course will consider an online doc as well. Oh, and the kickass sewing thing…will someone please make some workout wear that fits active chicks with tits while you’re at it?!

  79. Hi, I’m new here. Hello, everyone!

    I’d just like to chime in on the BC issue–man, I love the Nuvra ring. (I’ve never tried anything else; at first, I would get slight cramps and breast tenderness, but those symptoms went away after a month, so I’ve stuck with it.) Without BC, I’d randomly get depressed, I’d get panic attacks, I’d binge-eat, and before my period I’d be a complete bitch, but with the BC, I feel like myself again. Whoo!

  80. In my case, I didn’t lose anything but the weight of the baby, placenta, and uterine fluid. Whatever fat I gained, stayed. (And yes, I breastfed. Exclusively for the first five months, and thereafter according to the baby’s cues.) But for some women, their bodies do naturally seem to adjust back down to pre-pregnancy level, slowly over time. If it were me and these were clothes I was really attached to, I’d give it a year. After that, move on. It was soooo freeing when I finally let go of my “skinny” clothes, and starting buying things that look good on me *now*. :)

    p.s. For anyone feeling conflicted about the changing *shape* of their body after pregnancy, check out The Shape of a Mother linked to in SP’s sidebar. –>

  81. In my case, I didn’t lose anything but the weight of the baby, placenta, and uterine fluid. Whatever fat I gained, stayed.

    Oh, Linda, WORD. Me too. And I think whatever fat I gained brought friends with it — so weird. For about a year post-partum I just had the pregnancy weight on me, then I suddenly gained about 15 more pounds. WTF, body? I thought I was kind of weird in this regard, so you have lifted an immense (well, okay, a mild niggling) concern from me!

    I’d love to do the sewing circle, but am currently too poor for a machine! Can I get in on this once I can replace my ancient Singer?

  82. penguinlady, I took Clomid for a year and it shot my prolactin levels through the roof (one doctor said that *never* happens, I pointed to lab results and he hmmmed.). The result was that Clomid was very pacifying for me, I was a happy cheerful chick. Then they put me on an antagonist for the prolactin (it was over ten years ago, I forget the drug); and that was pure misery, I felt like I had flu all the time. Clomid ended up not working for me, not least I think because my docs didn’t know it thicked the cervical mucus and I should have been taking guaficin with it. Once I found out about it on my own and tried the guaficin, I got pregnant; but lost that one early like the others before.

    Anyway, a long winded way to say that yet again everyone responds differently to the drugs!

  83. Sewing is uber useful and very fun! Even if you don’t make your own clothes you can learn how to alter them to fit you better. Go slow, take your time, and don’t be afraid to sew by hand if it works better or if you are nervous of the machine.

  84. voluptuousrobot: not so much someone to give an actual consultation, so you’d probably still want to find someone local if possible, at least initially, but I (and my herbalist after I told her about them) have been very happy with <a href=”http://teetercreekherbs.com/” Teeter Creek for ordering traditional medicinals and they do have a good bunch of general advice on the site (try the archives of “ask the herbalist”). Great prices and they carry tons of stuff.

  85. some other comments reminded me of this, i also take calcium supplements now and they decreased my tender boob PMS symptoms.

    i also take Vitamin “B”itch…which i refer to thusly as it has made a noticeable difference in my mood all month long. my sister-in-law recommended i try it after it helped her, she had it suggested to her because of a study showing hormonal BC leeches B from the system. A heads up if you want to try it, it turns your pee BRIGHT NEON yellow. My naturopathic doc was really happy with my B levels when she had me tested extensively last month.

  86. sarawr: there’s nothing wrong with sewing by hand, although I personally wouldn’t try making blue jeans that way. (Actually, I WISH I had an ancient singer –the really old ones don’t have fancy stitches (which I never use), but they go through ANYthing!)

  87. Well, three weeks postpartum your body is still saying “Holy shit! Did you see what just happened here?” I’m right with everyone who said that it takes several months to get to pre-baby state, if it happens at all. I happened to go down to almost pre-baby state, and then went right back up and then far past due to stress eating, but that’s another story.

    Ah, the bc talks. It’s amazing what that stuff can do to you. DRST, I definitely had a loss of libido from certain kinds of bc I was on. I first went on Ortho-Cyclen at 20, and in retrospect I’m sure it had a huge effect that I didn’t quite notice, because I wasn’t active enough at the time to know what normal-for-me libido levels were. Post-partum I started bouncing around different types since I was breastfeeding and couldn’t go back on the same thing again. The mini-pill and Depo led to weight gain and major depression. When I did finally go back on the regular pill, that’s when I noticed the libido-killing aspects of it. Finally I got around to Mirena, and I’ve been happier with that than absolutely anything else ever.

    I can’t sew, but I like to pretend I can. :) I’d love to join up and learn from people.

  88. 1) I went to http://fatchickssew.blogspot.com and it looks like it’s going to be great. I’m very excited!

    2) Mae, I’m in Atlanta as well. I just moved here about a year ago and I will be seeing my 3rd endocrinologist in July on my never-ending quest to find one in this area that doesn’t insist (despite a prior diagnosis, two current ultrasounds showing multiple cysts on my ovaries and a noticeable decline in health when I’m not watching my sugar intake) that I don’t have chronic PCOS and if I would just lose weight all of my problems would magically disappear.

    I am allegedly quite obese whatever that even means, but I’m 5’10” and wear between a size 12 and a size 14 depending on what brand of clothing I’m trying on. I eat mostly whole grains, lean meats, fruits and vegetables. Not for weight loss reasons, but for health reasons. I exercise a little more than an hour a day because I like how it makes me feel and because if I don’t and I accidentally miss breakfast or get caught up and have to wait past noon to have lunch I get debilitating migraines and vomiting because my blood sugar gets all wonky.
    All of my bloodwork is excellent. Now, I am not saying all of this to judge anyone else. I think everyone ought to be able to live their lives however they want without falling prey to lazy and/or judgmental medical professionals. I’m just pointing out that I’m a very healthy person apart from the troubles my PCOS gives me and even though I live a healthy lifestyle, and know from experience that starving and exercising myself down to my “healthy weight range” does not fix my symptoms I’ve had a hard time finding a doctor around here that doesn’t look at my chart, look at me and say “LOSE SOME WEIGHT FATTY! If that doesn’t work then maybe I’ll consider giving you some actual medical care.” Point being, don’t let those a-holes shame you out of the care you deserve. I won’t give up if you won’t. (BIG OL’ HUG)

  89. A lot of alterations are actually easier by hand than they are with a machine.

    And for anyone looking for a machine who cannot currently afford one, I highly recommend Craigslist and Freecycle. People who meant to learn to sew or who have upgraded their machines often use these methods to pass them on to other sewists.

  90. DRST, it’s a running joke among my friends that birth control works by killing your libido, ensuring you don’t have sex, and thus ensuring you don’t get pregnant.

  91. I second penguinlady:

    Sewing takes a lot of patience (and a good seam ripper). Give yourself time and read the directions, and you’ll be fine. Also, swearing like a sailor helps.

    It also helps to know what “nap” on a fabric is and how to deal with it, and also what “straight of the grain” is and how to use it. (Otherwise things will hang funny.) A salesperson at a fabric store might explain that to you — or heck, another customer, even! (It’s not complicated; you just have to know what you are looking for.)

    I inherited two sewing machines from my mother — a 1950 Kenmore that has only straight stitches and a more recent (but still pre-1970) Kenmore that has a zig-zag stitch. The zig-zag stitch is just about essential for knits. I usually use the older machine, though — it is really solid and cool. Plus it has all sorts of little attachments (rufflers, etc.)

    I think that it shouldn’t be too hard to find an old machine for sale. Old machines have another advantage — they are designed so that you can oil them and fuss around with how tight the threads are when you stitch. I think that you have to take newer machines in to be serviced. (If you get an old machine, though, make sure that you can find out how to thread it and adjust it, and make sure that you have or can get bobbins to fit it.)

    I also really enjoy reading “how to sew” books. The pattern companies published these and updated them from time to time. The old books are still useful, especially if you want to work with vintage patterns.

    Don’t be disappointed if some (lots) of the projects don’t work out, though. It takes a while to develop a sense of what the fabric is actually going to do, and what the thing will actually look like once you’ve got it on. The old books usually suggest making a “muslin” (a trial run made of muslin) first so that you can adjust the fit before you make the thing in the final fabric. But even so, sometimes the “real” fabric might surprise you even if everything fits right. (I used to make muslin-like trial runs of inexpensive fabric, especially if I was inventing my pattern instead of using a published one, and sometimes the trial runs were themselves really wonderful.)

    Used to. It’s been a while since I’ve sewn (time problems) but I should start again, because I’m really tired of how limited my off the shelf choices are (not to mention how expensive.)

  92. I’m really tired of how limited my off the shelf choices are (not to mention how expensive.)

    And how incredibly goddamn simple. I’ve been living in a couple of American Apparel skirts (pay no attention to the size chart, ladies; these fit this 16/18 ass just fine) and I love them but it kills me that they’re not even hemmed. If I could sew, I could whip one of these up in an hour. But I can’t, so I pay $28 for it. (Although, who knows what I would pay for materials, I guess.)

  93. I just got my mom’s old sewing machine that I literally learned to sew on; she brought it down when she came to visit. I have no table for it, but I have a place to put it when I get one! I want to make skirts and pillowcases first.

    TR: You live in Florida? Where? I moved to WPB in October and I am lonely. I’m trying to meet people but I absolutely suck at it.

  94. Everyone feels fat when they gain water weight, no matter your size, shape, or activity level. It’s hormonal. Second of all, whether you are plus-sized or wearing clothes from the children’s department, it really doesn’t matter. The question is what is normal for YOU. I think the question to ask is how your body shifts over time, and it takes lots of experiences to figure out how your body will respond. For example, I have 12s, 14s, 16s in my closet. When I’m more active, I’ll fit into 12s, when I’m having a day I feel heavier, I’ll fit into the 16s. but ultimately, none of them really matter. I guess the question to really ask is why you have them around–if it’s because you want to motivate yourself to lose weight, I’m not sure that’s a good idea. If it’s because you’re just not sure if you’ll fit into them again, that’s just fine. If it’s playing with your head, put them in another closet until you feel your body has stabilized.

    Also, I wouldn’t suggest non-weight changing activity. I don’t really know what that means? Diet is not a temporary thing, it’s an everyday thing. One does not “go on a diet,” they change their diet. Eating foods that are nourishing to your baby and your body that may happen to at some point (along with nursing), return your body to its previous weight, that’s just your body returning to where it wants to be. Physical activity in moderation is healthy for all people in terms of both is physical and mental benefits, and doesn’t have to be done with the purpose of weight loss. I’m not sure the absence of activity is the answer.

  95. Mercy, I’d love to sew by hand but arthritis precludes it. I adore my ancient Singer, but something inside it is busted and there don’t seem to be any ancient-Singer experts around here. I plan to replace it with an equally ancient, but much more healthy, Singer — it belongs to my grandmother, but I have to get myself to Colorado to get it. That… could take a while. ;)

    This thread has made me realize how lucky I’ve been with birth control. I started on the pill (a generic tri-cyclen) when I was 15, it worked fine, I went off it when I ran out of insurance at 19, and went back on early this year. It still works fine. I think I’m a little more moody pre-period, and a little more hungry overall, but that’s the worst I’ve experienced on it. It’s changed my life, seriously; I have some female plumbing issues that have required surgery in the past, and the pill really helps keep the symptoms and the icky stuff at bay.

  96. I don’t sew much, but back in eighth grade I learned to sew on an old treadle machine. It was really cool, because it was easy to coordinate changes in speed with how fast the needle went up and down to change stich length. I’d love to get one today, but they’re antiques and I can’t afford them.

    I do all my hemming by hand, not that I’m particularly good at it; but everyone in my family, including my husband, is shorter-legged than the pants we can find. I’d love to find out how to make it not wrinkle up.

  97. Finally I got around to Mirena, and I’ve been happier with that than absolutely anything else ever.

    Same here. Initially I had an extended period of spotting and a little moodiness as I adjusted to the hormones (they say its effect is purely local, but I don’t believe it, and my doctor agreed with me.) But since then it’s been fabulous. I love it.

    Re: sewing — YES! I have just had it with poorly fitting clothing. Occasionally I will find some really high-quality garment at the Goodwill, but I can’t afford that sort of thing otherwise. I can’t even afford most poorly-fitting clothing (I’m thinking Eddie Bauer, for instance.) I really don’t have that uncommon a shape — I’m a pear with a thickish waist. I have a few things that fit beautifully and are just really flattering. So I know it’s possible. All I can think is that the clothing manufacturers don’t have incentive to put the money into designing well-proportioned clothing, because people will buy it regardless, if they don’t have any other choice. Well, that stops with me. I wish we could empower our entire culture to start making their own clothes, then the manufacturers might get a clue.

  98. Penguinlady wrote: Give yourself time and read the directions, and you’ll be fine. Also, swearing like a sailor helps.

    Whenever I’m asked what the most important tool is when starting to sew, I always answer “my extensive and colorful vocabulary of curse words”. Because I use them more than even my seam ripper.

    Sewing is fun and a great hobby and I encourage everyone who wants to learn to do so, but like anything else, it’s a skill that takes practice and time. I’ve run across a lot of folks who think that it should just come naturally without effort, and it’s not like that. Especially when they figure out it should be called measuring and pinning and ironing and seam ripping rather than sewing, because sometimes the actual sewing takes the least amount of time!

    Learning to sew doesn’t mean you have to go all the way to mastering tailoring, either. Sewing on buttons or raising hems can be mastered easily, and there’s nothing like changing the buttons on a jacket or blouse to really change the look of it.

    This happens to be one of my pet subjects! :)

  99. I’m in for the sewing circle! Right now I need curtains and I have everything but the motivation to get a new-to-me machine out of the box and figure out how it works after a couple years of not sewing. I could whip out a pair of pants in a couple of hours, but my skirt attempts have been … um … let’s say I would have been voted off Project Runway.

    BC-wise, I was on Alesse in early college but it killed my libido and emotionally flatlined me. I didn’t get angry or depressed, but I didn’t get happy, either. Off the Pill, I become a raging bitch during my period (whoever mentioned kicking people with steel-toed boots for improperly done dishes, I am right there with you!), so after a year of that plus a pregnancy scare, I went back on for a couple of years. I had several varieties of Pill depending on what doctor I went to, and none of the names stand out as being especially good or bad for me. I went off the Pill again in February because we’re hoping to conceive in the next couple of years, and oh joy, Bitch Week is back. So are the cramps, but BC seems to have permanently shortened my period and reduced the cramps to a Day of Hell.

  100. I’m taking what’s it called… whatever the generic for Desogen is. However, I occasionally wake up a week or two before my period with the most enormous cramp in my left camp. I end up limping for two days! I’m wondering if it’s the pill and I should switch. I dimly remember that I got along all right with Ortho-Tri…

  101. Wait, those nighttime leg cramps can be caused by birth control? Because I have been getting killer ones about once a month — the kind where sit up in the middle of the night and beat my leg furiously against the bed while actually crying from pain, the kind where I limp for two days afterward because my calf feels like it’s been stabbed with a filet knife, the kind I only ever have had before when I was pregnant. I never connected it to my birth control! Crap.

  102. everstar, I am in Orlando, about three hours north. I make it down to that area sometimes to visit friends, so I will try to let you know the next time I do – email me if you’d like as it is possible I can plug you into some awesome social networks (though not fat-centric ones) down there!

  103. sarawr: well, after I determined that I could put my left heel on the ground — my mom once told me that not being able to was a sign of a blood clot — I ate bananas in case it was potassium, but I thought it was my birth control because I never had those before I started Yaz or Yasmine, and when I switched to Desogen (for cost) the Planned Parenthood people gave me what was closest to those. I tried googling birth control leg cramps but what I found was kind of inconclusive. So it’s really more my suspicion than anything else.

    But yeah, I have the kind where you wake up all at once because it hurts so much and you literally cannot think of anything else than trying to make it stop.

    TR: Yay, that would be lovely :) and yay, social networks! I’m doing some meetups and thinking about volunteering, but I probably need all the help I can get XD

  104. First of all, Stranger in a New Body, congrats on your new baby! Second, as an “average” sized HAAS allay who’s struggled with eating disorder and yo-yo dieting for most of her life…I totally identify!

    In my mid- 20s, after overcoming (most) of my issues with dieting I reached what I felt was a healthy attractive size. Then two years ago I took a job that was much more sedentary (I went from walking or riding a bike to work and standing on my feet all day to driving to work and sitting at a desk all day) I gained 10 pounds. For the longest time I was beating myself up about it, telling myself I was too lazy to lose that 10 pounds again and being really cruel to myself, and then I realized that maybe the reason why I wasn’t losing weight was because deep down inside I just didn’t want to! Like you, I “felt hot” and liked they way I looked (in my opinion that’s 90% of the battle) but I felt like I wasn’t supposed to feel good about my new body because although it was just as curvy and pleasing as my “old” body, it happened to be slightly heavier. I DIDN’T HATE MY BODY, I WAS DISPLEASED WITH IT BECAUSE I THOUGHT I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE.

    Once I realized that I was able to be a lot kinder to myself. Now I’ve discovered that weight gain and loss is a natural part of life. As somebody with a history of ED it is hard to accept that a gain or loss of even a few pounds isn’t a relapse, but if you’ve worked on your issues you need to understand that you are in control of having a healthy life and it doesn’t have to be. I know that now in the summer when I bike and get outside a lot my weight naturally goes down closer to that old “ideal” weight. Likewise, in the winter when I go into hibernation mode I naturally gain some padding. That’s OK with me now.

    You just had a baby three weeks ago… so now is WAY too early to start agonizing about not fitting into your old clothes…. or to start giving them away. Focus on being healthy right now, caring for yourself, and adjusting to motherhood. Later when you feel ready to be more active you may naturally lose some weight… or you may not but you may still discover that your body is strong and beautiful and attractive in new ways that you haven’t yet discovered. Remember, don’t give into those old ideas that tell you a number is what makes you healthy and attractive. If you like what you see when you look in the mirror and you feel healthy then there is on reason to change.

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