November 15, 2010


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Shortly after 1pm on Saturday afternoon, I was in Lincoln Park. It was raining, and I was standing next to the fountain in the middle of the plaza between the North/Clybourn El station and the new Apple store. from flickr : zolkAnd I was sobbing. Weeping. Bawling, even.

Let's backtrack.

On Friday, my iPod stopped working - sort of. It appeared to be playing fine, but no sound would come out of it. Sure, I've had it for a few years, but up until the night before, it had been working perfectly. I was a little frustrated, but I figured it would fix itself when I got home and put it on the charger for a few hours - usually when something seems off, a good charge heals it. The only problem was that I was scheduled to run the last day of the fourth week of C25k after work, but that was minimal - I just wrote out what times I needed to walk/run at on a piece of paper.

There weren't any problems with keeping track of time, but I really missed having music to work out to. When I don't have something to distract my thoughts, my mind wanders - and lately, my mind hasn't been the loveliest place to be. There are so many stressors on my plate right now, and so I really look forward to going to the gym, putting on some music, and just zoning out for a little while. After running, I headed over to the elliptical machine, but with all my thoughts racing around in my head (plus the sound of a couple dozen basketball players on the two courts below me), I could only manage to do about half the time that I usually do.

I knew my sister Katie got an iPod about a year or so ago, so I called her on Saturday morning to see how much it cost. My mom interfered and said it didn't matter the cost, she would order me one for my birthday. I told her that (a) I didn't need her spending money on me, especially since she's temporarily out of work because of her surgery and (b) I would need one right away since I need it for C25k and working out. I was on the bus headed downtown for a meeting when I got a text message from my sister Lisa that said Mom had deposited money in my bank account and to just accept it (instead of my usual mail-it-back).

It wasn't about the money - I had already taken the $150 I had been saving out of its secret hiding place. Something else had my stomach in a knot over the idea of getting a new iPod. Hopefully the Apple "geniuses" would be able to just fix the problem and I would walk out happy.

Shortly after walking into the store, a young man asked me if I needed help. When I showed the guy my iPod, you'd think I had reached into my purse and produced a dinosaur or a unicorn. to chicago, feb. 2007"Is this even a Nano?!" No, Sir. It's a Mini. I got it ... um, maybe eight years ago? He set me up with an appointment to talk to a specialist, and about ten minutes later, another young man was testing to see if there was a problem with the iPod itself or the listening components - if it was with the earphone part, I was tough out of luck, but anything else and it could be fixed. (I wonder if that was code for "None of this really matters, we're gonna try and sell you something new.")

And of course, it was the earphone part.

The guy told me that they could order a refurbished Mini for fairly cheap, but it would take about a week, week and a half. I asked what my other options were, in terms of buying new. So we walked around the store looking at all the new models. It was incredibly intimidating. Everything is fancy, touch-screen, and super small. I was so conflicted: wait for what I truly love, or get something new now and just roll with it. In my awkward nervousness, I made a joke about Mr. Right vs. Mr. Right Now. The guy was very kind and patient - he laughed at my stupid joke, and he didn't say anything while I looked visibly upset. sofa king tinyAnd so, I chose a green iPod Nano, which is about a sixth the size of my old blue Mini but holds twice as much music and has a ton of new features like a touch-screen, pedometer, and photo album.

The guy said that if I "recycled" my Mini, they would take ten percent off the price of the Nano. There was a form to fill out, but they didn't have any on hand, so he went to print one, and I stood at the register with the Mini in one hand and the Nano in the other. My stomach ached. I bit my lip. I thought about handing the Nano to one of the other cashiers and hurrying out. I wasn't sure why, but I just didn't think I could do it. It seemed silly even to me, which is why I felt incredibly strange as my throat started to tense up and my eyes welled up with tears.

The guy came back with the forms, and even as I filled them out, I thought about tearing them up and fleeing. But I signed it, he took the papers, and then he rang me up. I took the little plastic case and slid the old iPod towards the cashier, tears silently streaming down my face as I walked out the door. I'm pretty sure everyone in the area thought I was crazy - it's just a piece of metal and plastic, lady, get over it!

But it was worth so much more than the sum of its parts.

I've had this iPod for years - and I used it so much that it's hard to recall not having it. It came with me to Paris - twice. paris 2008 - picture by roy templeIt visited Chicago with me, and it came with me when I eventually moved here. It was with me through endless sleepless nights cramming for exams in college and working on my MA research in grad school. I had this iPod the first time I kissed a boy and the first time I got my heart broken. Yeah, it was big and bulky, but it was mine, and I loved it. It was solid, sturdy, simple, and seemingly hard to break - this new thing is adorable but so tiny, and it has a ton of new features that I'm going to have to learn to use.

At which point I realized: Am I still talking about the iPod?

The crying turned to sobbing, and I just stood in the plaza getting rained on. I moved the station lobby for a few minutes and just let it happen. I didn't care who saw. I could barely move.

So many big things are changing in my world. Getting rid of seventy pounds sounds amazing, but there are drawbacks. I feel uncomfortable in that my body feels so different, and I feel trapped in a strange place that I cannot get out of. I can't wear my favorite shirt because it's too big - in fact, most of my clothes are. I can't binge to comfort myself because it will make me feel sick and it will make me further away from my goals. All of the little familiarities that have made up my life for the longest time are slipping away from me. The iPod? Not a big thing. But it was the little straw that broke my emotional camel's back. Another seemingly little insignificant constant in my life that I can't have anymore. Nothing is familiar these days, and so even a seventy pound weight loss feels surprisingly depressing. I am truly hurting.

I knew getting into this that I would have to deal with these emotions, I just thought it would happen later rather than sooner. I'm wondering if this emotional wall that I've hit is because my loss is so fast, or simply because it is more of a loss than I have ever experienced. If it's the former, I can slow down - work out every other day, or work out less intensely, or slightly raise my calorie intake. But if it's the latter, I don't quite know what to do.


Anne H said...

Pinky Jinx, my Twin Sister!
Relax - ommm - easy - *sigh* - that's better!

I had the same uncomfortable thing happen to me,
And also, my best camera broke down!
I've since come to believe the changes I need to make
are in the mind, and not so much in the body.
Not so much in the "body of affairs," either.

We went on this weight-loss journey willingly!
Now we stop. Why?
Maybe it's just an "ego" trick.
Maybe keep going. Maybe slow down.
But take heart - It does get easier!

Amy said...

Wow. Sounds like it was really a tough weekend. I cannot imagine how you're feeling because when I lost nearly 40 pounds in high school I really struggled with these details. I was even telling my boyfriend on the weekend that I stopped trying right before I got to a great weight because I was afraid of what it meant, I was already getting tons of attention from guys that I'd never had before and I was afraid what having a perfect body wuold bring. So I can't imagine after losing 70 pounds how you feel.

I think that with time you will find new coping mechanisms and you'll learn to love your new body...but for now it seems like it's in a time warp... you can't get used to your new body because it's always changing. I think that what you're doing is healthy, and being aware and addressing your feelings is so important!

Sorry to hear about the iPod... they hold a strange significance in our life. I just got an iPod touch recently, and was very reluctant to get rid of my old Nano because I got it the last family Christmas I ever had, my mom and dad got both my brother and I engraved iPods. Luckily, it's still around because I gave it to Stewart, but giving it up was really hard. It holds a lot of symbolic significance!

Unknown said...

Oh, Mary. If I were anywhere near you right now I'd come over and give you a big hug. Of course you have every reason to feel the way you're feeling. Weight is more than just extra pounds; it can be a shield, a wall of comfort. If you lost 70 pounds in a short amount of time, it's understandable shy your mind is having a hard time adjusting to this new, physical self. I am no expert by any means, but if you are otherwise healthy and don't need to lose any more weight for health reasons, maybe you should take some time to get to know your newer self for a while. On your goals page you have listed to 'fall in love with the girl in the mirror'. You need to recognize that girl first, and if you don't then you need to get reacquainted with her. Feel free to email me if you need or want to. If you don't have many 'real-life' people who understands, I think many of your readers do and we all care about you.

Jessica said...

Mary- I know change is soo hard! (I still have the same cell phone I had 8 years ago!)
You are so worth the changes that are happening to your body! There is so much emotionally attached to losing weight, but atleast you are aware of this and you are putting in the work for both the physical and emotional changes!

Anonymous said...

It's like a grieving process. I don't think that slowing down your weight loss will make a difference because time is such a funny thing. It seems slow in the moment and fast in hindsight.
You are already going through those emotions, so slowing down your weight loss isn't going to stop them from happening. But you are strong and you will work your way through them, I have no doubt.

Tim said...

I think Ellen is spot on. Losing a lot of weight will show a lot of change in your body and maybe you need to spend some time getting used to the change before you're ready to continue on your journey to reach your target goal. Maybe it will then be easier in the future too.

Anonymous said...

This may sound completely insensitive (and trust me, it isn't meant to be that way) but I can't relate to what you're going through here. You seem almost sad that your favorite shirt is too big but for me, when my clothes are too big I am ecstatic. I just posted 8 pairs of pants for free on Craigslist because they are way too big and I held on to 2 pairs of jeans so that I can look back and remember how big my pants were at one time!

It sounds to me that your sadness and stress are coming from other things besides your weightloss. (Work, family, relationships, etc.) I know that losing weight IS emotional but there was nothing good about being overweight. Losing weight is making your life better. You have energy, you have a positive outlook on the future, you are getting healthy, your body is starting to look good and change. So hooray your favorite shirt is too big! Sucks that you have to go find a new favorite shirt but that new favorite will be smaller and show off your hot bod better!

I don't agree that you should pull back on the exercise and diet until you adjust to who you are now. Who you are now is not who you want to be anyways! You've got momentum...go for it! Slow and steady wins the race so if you are comfortable with your exercise and calorie intake at this stage and it is something you can sustain for good, then go for it. If you are exercising A LOT and your caloric intake is really low, then I would adjust that which would slow your progress.

Sounds to me that there are other areas in your life that you are unhappy with. You were unhappy with your weight so you've done something about it! So do something about the other stuff too! But don't let go of all the hardwork you've put in... you are kicking ass and taking names!