Saturday, 16 July 2016

Met my Initial #Weightloss Goal Tattooed on my Left Hip, You Ask, What Now?

In 2014 I went to the Northern Quarter in Manchester.  I lay on a table with my left hip raised and my left arm fell over the flesh of my stomach.  This left arm was prepared to aid in any way, ready to pull tight my skin.  But, it wasn't needed-the artist was sympathetic.  My right arm was an angled pillow under my head-sometimes rising to cover my eyes when the etching became a bit much to bear.   My pulse was strong and steady in my heart and my hip.  I lay there emotional, the pain was barely bearable, the feeling was empowering and every fibre in me was quaking a 'Thank You'. 
The tattoo design has more than the number 168 in the simple script you see in the picture.  A flight of five  birds cross over the hip, ascending from the one.  It's hard to fully express in words how I reached this decision.  Like me, many of you will have battled nearly a life time with weight and no one can ever understand the complexity of this relationship-each of ours is unique.  Mine is wrapped up with a body that rejects parts of itself-how is that for comfort.  It makes no difference.  It is mine and I own it, and thank God everyday for it.  Which is funny that I would want to mark it-so, some may say.
Tattoos were never really a topic of interest in our house growing up.  Oh there were sailor stories-many of my dad's Navy buddies had them.  But, my dad never did.  He wasn't allowed to, he was in intelligence during the cold war and after-too easy to track him down.  My Lebanese great grand father had a cross on his wrist-he had made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and had it done there at the foot of the rock. 
I made it to my 40's not really inclined towards ink, but always interested in others.  When my mother died in 2008 everything changed.  My body became a vessel-I had not fully internalized this metaphor before.  I got my first tattoo on my right ankle that year-an ichthus <>< this was followed by my mother's name above my father's in Arabic script on my left forearm.  My husband has many tattoos each telling a story.  The one I love best, of course, is my name in Arabic across his heart.    There is a sense of permanency with a tattoo; I know they can be altered, cover, lasered-but the mark is indelible.   Permanence is also odd, because this vessel will not last.  But why my goal weight?  What if I never reached it?  What if I do? It was always more than the number, it was the meaning of the number for me.  Something inside me clicked when I trusted that I had it in me to find a way to journey towards the goal.  
Prior to laying on the tattoo artists table, I seemed to be going in loops with stops in valleys and a few peak experiences; but, more often than not, I was wiped out.  Many of you know that I live with FMS/Lupus and even with weeks of careful eating with light exercise, my water weight went up and down over night-so did my bra size!  I was feeling pathetic, out of control, covered in psoriasis and tired all the time. My efforts needed to be focused on my psychological well being.  I grasped the opportunity to mark the beginning of this acceptance of who I was and that my travel to my goal was mine alone-and it was beautiful in it's uniqueness to me.  It worked.  I embraced my body and loved it-forgave it, clung to it in pain and celebrated in rare pain free moments.  I have taken care of it by listening carefully and giving myself permission to fully acknowledge that it is OK to go to bed early, to tactfully bough out of the late night invite, to limit how much exercise I can do, to take breaks, to rest when I need it, to nourish it with good foods, and not berate myself when I indulge. I could go on, and I know you too who run this same race will know and feel what I mean.  
Today, I stood on the scale for my weekly (not daily!) weigh in.  167.  I shuddered-I bowed my head to thank God, lifted my head to my mom and then hugged myself.  I then ran down stairs (clothes back on!) and danced a jig in front of my husband.  He gave me a high five and I ran to do a Snap Chat to send to my Dad and sisters-had to find a funny face of course! 
Now, I have no problem leaving my tattoo as is-it is a testament.  Of course when I got the tattoo I was about 280 pounds and 168 seemed a far way to go.  When I reached 180, I decided that 160 would be my new goal.  At this weight I would no longer be 'overweight' according to the BMI charts (not that I put a huge amount of accuracy in them).  I'll see how I feel in time.  
I would love ideas and suggestions about what I could do with my tattoo-possibly put the final goal number at the top of the flight of birds...maybe have a circular tattoo designed around my hips...I am not opposed to having a tummy tuck and half body lift.  I will investigate the possibilities after I maintain my weight for 6 months to a year.  If I did go this route, the tattoo will go or at least a part of it.  You have to remember I have been overweight for 35 years and that does effect your skin.  I just need to research more and would love any advice about your own experience with surgery after weight loss.
For now, I am just so dang happy!  I feel inspired to make more positive changes starting with organizing my office/spare room!!  I did it though-I wanted to be 168 by my 51st birthday-it's next Thursday.  Happy Birthday to me. :) I'll probably brag a bit on my birthday post, I hope that is okay!

Much Love on Day 13,
Leila

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