Hi folks! (You like how I say "folks" like I have more than one follower of my blog? Heh.)
Anyhoo, I have some pleasant news to share. In one of my earlier posts I talked about some milestones I have set for myself. In addition to those, I split the calendar into quarters so I could have an easy gauge of wether or not I was on track. What I'm trying to say (not very succinctly) is that in order to be on track for my HealthyWage wager, I needed to hit 230 by August 15...which I did. Woot!
But! Even more exciting, I weighed in this morning at 224. You guys! That's just 4 pounds from my first milestone of 220. That's college weight, y'all! That's pretty huge for me (no pun intended).
I know, I know, that's a lot of numbers to digest. And I know this adventure is about more than numbers. I know that I am more than a number (though the Social Security Administration might disagree). I understand all of that. I also understand that for a lot of people, seeing a number on a scale is scary. For me, it keeps me motivated. From my heaviest, I've lost 43 lbs. That's a three year old. I've lost a whole person! (Well, a small person. Okay, half a person...maybe a third...I guess in my case closer to a quarter...but STILL!)
So, now that you've had a chance to wallow around in my happy dance, I wanted to document other things I'm doing. Primarily trying to keep on top of the "extra skin" issue. It's a thing. I mean, my skin had to stretch to accommodate that toddler's worth of weight I've lost. And it's been slowly stretching for years. (That sounds kinda gross, but hang in there.) The wonderful thing about skin is that it is really elastic-y. So, yeah, it's all stretched out now, but it can (and will - eventually) pull itself together. (Pun intended.)
It occurred to me that this is something that I can work on at the same time as I'm losing weight, instead of making it an entire additional process afterwards. Now, don't get me wrong - I am under no delusion that after losing nearly 100 pounds in a year that I will walk away with no sagging skin. But most of what I read said that it takes a year or two for your skin to tighten back up (for most people), and I figured why not try to make as much of that year the same year that I'm losing weight in the first place? Make sense?
Here's what I've learned (Science Time!!):
Pretty much everything I read said the first step to avoiding (or reducing) extra skin is not to lose weight too quickly. It'll be easier for your skin to keep up if you're losing 1-2 pounds a week. I'm shooting for 2-3, so I'm feeling pretty good on that front.
There are different layers of skin and they're made of different kinds of cells. The outer layer (epidermis) cells are the ones that slough off and replace themselves pretty regularly. Maybe every month or so. When your skin stretches, your epidermis generates more cells to compensate. So, as your skin retracts, those cells just sort of...go away. You can encourage this going away business by exfoliating. But, in reality, those cells aren't the problem. (Like I said, they recycle every month or so.) The dermis layer underneath is the stretchy bit. Those cells have elastin and collagen that makes skin stretchy and supple and wonderful and tasty...nope...not tasty. Just making sure you're still paying attention. The point is, you can encourage the elastin and collagen in your dermis and this will help your skin "snap back" after significant weight loss. (Or so I've read.)
So, the idea of "extra skin" is kind of not true. The dermis layer doesn't grow, per se. It doesn't generate additional cells for expansion like the epidermis. The cells that are already there stretch and expand. So the idea is to provide those cells with what they need to produce lots of collagen and elastin so they can shrink and tighten back up!
I did some research (read: Google search) and it turns out what your skin needs most is moisture. (I know! Shocker, right?)
So, I went to Lush and bought some potions. An exfoliating, super moisturizing body bar thing (that scratches me, but in a lovely way) and a body wash with olive oil which provides a lot of awesomeness for your skin. (I also let the guy talk me into face wash, and shampoo that comes as a bar. A bar of shampoo! Are you comprehending what a crazy great idea that is? You can toss it in your carry on and not have to worry about all the extra quart size zip-lock bags at security! And it won't leak on your clothes! Because it's a SOLID BAR OF SHAMPOO! This is GENIUS! *ahem*. I digress...)
The idea is, you want to avoid things that dry out your skin (too much sunshine, chlorine, the state of Arizona), and do things that hydrate it instead (drink lots of water, moisturize, dance naked in the rain). The dermis needs LOTS of moisture - so I'm trying to keep up on my water intake. Water is awesome. It's good for all sorts of things.
Also, blood flow is important and the best way to increase blood flow to your skin is massage. So, I also picked up some cocoa butter that I'm massaging into just about every bit of me in the evenings and now I smell like chocolate when I go to bed at night.
There are worse things.