Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Flying then and now

The below entry I wrote on the flight from Kansas City, MO to Portland today...

While I sit on this (what seems like) never ending flight to Portland after a 3 hour layover in Kansas City I’ve had a lot of time to just think and look back.
While emailing Jen H back and forth in the Kansas City terminal she said something that really struck me, in a good way.  She said that during our hs reunion next weekend I should be voted “most changed,” both on the inside and out.  I couldn’t agree more.   As I sit on the plane with lots of room between me and each arm rest, typing away with perfectly manicured fingers and flying across the country for work that I love doing, I am struck by how different I am than a particularly painful plane ride Christmas 2007.
Riding a plane at over 400 lbs is a nightmare.  Even at this weight a small part of me liked flying because it was exciting- and that’s the front I would always put on to friends and family.   But the reality was I would dread the flight for weeks leading up to it and feel embarrassed and depressed for weeks after because guess what?  I was still morbidly obese and flying was horrendous.   I don’t think my husband ever realized how difficult flying was for me at that weight.  How humiliating it was to need a seat belt extender.  How painful the seats were.  The arm rests would dig into my hips and a trip longer than an hour would not just leave sore and sensitive spots, but bruises.  Let’s face it, a plane is not designed for the morbidly obese, and nor should it be.  That’s why now many airlines require you to purchase 2 seats.  Even though this in itself is humiliating- it’s better than the alternative.  The whole time you are aware of spilling into the seat next to you, no matter how hard you try to hold yourself rigidly with your arms crossed against your chest.  As if that would make you smaller, but we all do it.  Sitting next to a loved one makes this slightly more bearable, but I would always feel so guilty for Adrian.   I wouldn’t have wanted to sit next to me at that weight, and I hated subjecting him to that.
And there was something about that Christmas in DE….I really, truly saw myself and how I had ballooned since my grandmother’s death.  It freaked me out and rightfully so.  If only I had started with weight watchers then, I might already be at my goal weight and getting skin removal surgery now….or maybe not.  Things happen for a reason and click when they are meant to.  
I hit a different kind of rock bottom in October 2009.  One that allowed me to act on my feelings and not just sink further into depression to consider other alternatives like stuffing my mouth with more food.   I have always called October 2009 my rock bottom but I don’t think it’s fair that I call it that, it was more of a tipping point.  I hit the bottom WAY before that fateful day I stepped up to Joni on October 21, 2009 and faced the reality of what eating myself to death had done to my body.  Whenever I am getting down on myself I come back to that day and the courage it took me to walk into that first weight watchers meeting.  The old adage that the first step is the hardest was SO true for me.   I was actually scared the scale wouldn’t go high enough to weigh me.  How pathetic and sad is that? But it did and I saw that number, 399 lbs, and Joni simply said “You will never see that number again” and sure enough, I didn’t.
So, needless to say, riding in a plane at 187 lbs is like…..a dream come true. Even 125+ lbs more than I am now, it was so much easier, less painful and embarrassing.  The first trip to Pittsburgh in October 2010 was amazing and eye opening and spurred me on.   On this 4 hour flight where going to the bathroom is not just an option but a necessity, my body (and the other plane riders) thank my fitness regime.  Because now I can waltz down the aisle, not having to go sideways or shimmy or thinking about who I am going to wake up as my big butt goes by to try to squeeze into the tiny bathroom.   Trying to use the bathroom on a flight at 400 lbs…..you might as well just give up and hold it and pray you can and won’t have to get up because the stall is so tiny.   Now my size 10 butt fits just like it should down the aisle, not having to shimmy or slide and going into that bathroom is easy.  I see myself in the mirror and I can’t believe my eyes.  Yeah, that’s me, at 187 lbs.  I can’t help but smile and be so grateful where my life has taken me in the past 3 years.  And I know, without a shadow of a doubt, I will never go back to that unhappy girl I once was.


  1. A small part of me was in denial about how much you didn't like flying because of your weight, but most of me was just so ecstatic about getting away from South Dakota for two weeks...
    Honestly though, I wasn't uncomfortable at all. We would have been in close contact regardless cuz we're just cute like that ;-) I'm so glad flying is a totally difference experience for you now. Too amazing for words!