The Brilliance of Butterfly

There is a brilliance in the butterfly. It’s the perfect exercise. The perfect stroke. I’ve frequently said that swimming is the best sport. It’s a full body workout without the hard impact on joints like running can be. It’s a fantastic sport for obese people trying to lose weight. In fact, it’s how I lost my weight.

What makes the butterfly stroke so unique and special is that it truly does use your entire body. The breast stroke and freestyle are great strokes and use most of your body but not like the butterfly. The butterfly takes grace, coordination and strength to be able to do it. You have to have the upper body and core strength in order to do it. The butterfly uses your core in a way that other swimming strokes don’t and you’ll see results.

You have to be able to move your arms and body through the water, then above the water. Your arms move together from behind you, up and out of the water and end above your head before returning to the water. During this,  your legs do a dolphin kick. This stroke is a tremendous workout for your shoulders and core.

I’m not skilled in the butterfly. It’s the one stroke I never properly mastered in my youth and now as an adult I rarely do it. I’m like a fish in the water–all other strokes are seamless, splashless and graceful (which I’m not on land!!) but the butterfly is a lot of splashing and thrashing for me. I wish I was better at it.

I recently got a question from a reader:  “I just found out that i have arthiritis in my knee and have decided to continue my weightloss journey by swimming but can I still lose my 100 pounds by swimming?”

My answer: Heck yes! Swim! It’s the best exercise and it’s how I lost most of my weight. Swimming was what activity I chose to do. I did it 2-4 times a week for about a year and then started introducing other activities (like the treadmill and elliptical). But really, swimming was how I lost probably 75 pounds. I think it’s a great choice for people trying to lose weight. If you are new to swimming, start here. And good luck!

QUESTION: Can you do the butterfly stroke?

Tell Me What You Don’t Like About Yourself

“Tell me what you don’t like about yourself.”

I watched Nip/Tuck from the beginning of the show. The first season was really good and then it just got weird. It turned from a trashy guilty pleasure into a weird soap opera with Transvestites and Midgets, Gangsters and murders. But one of the phrases that was in every episode was “Tell me what you don’t like about yourself?” And that episode’s character would tell their story of what brought them into the plastic surgeon’s office.

I was never the type of person that even thought about plastic surgery. Even when I was 100 pounds heavier and wishing for a quick fix to lose the weight, stomach stapling, liposuction and a tummy tuck were never things that I even considered. I always thought it was an unnatural thing to do and I knew I could lose the weight by myself without those things. I did. I was successful. I successfully kept it off. The one thing I never thought about: the loose skin that would remain even after toning my body through vigorous exercise and a healthy diet.

Buying a bikini and longing to be able to wear it made me think about whether or not I am happy with my body. I realized that I WAS happy- I was really happy with my muscles in my upper body from weight lifting and swimming. I was happy with my narrow waist from swimming. I was happy with my toned, muscular legs from cycling and running. I was so happy and satisfied with my body that I even wrote a post about how I Am Okay With My Body. And I am–95% of the time. That other 5% is my stomach that will most likely require surgery to fix someday. It’s disappointing that all the ab work and crunches I do haven’t fixed that area.

The first question I always get from people when they found out I lost over 100 pounds is “How did you lose the weight?” The second most popular question is “Do you have a lot of loose skin?”

The answer: not really. I have a little bit of loose skin in a certain area.

I think losing weight the slow way — through healthy eating and exercise not fad diets — kept me from getting that issue. I think starting to lose weight in my mid-20’s made a difference, too. The biggest factor though is probably the fact that my weight loss was slow. Sometimes painfully slow (especially those damn plateaus) but I kept at it. Losing 1 pound a week was okay by me as long as I was still losing. It took me almost two years to lose 110 pounds.

That does not mean that I don’t have the usual battle scars of someone who lost half their weight.

  • Stretchmarks. Oh boy do I have them. I once had a boyfriend who commented that it looked like Freddy Kreuger had scratched my stomach. He didn’t remain a boyfriend much longer after that.
  • Loose skin. A little bit. It’s not like the loose skin you see on those tabloid shows where it drapes over my pants. It’s different than that.
  • Cellulite. Yep. Mostly on my stomach. Not so much anywhere else on my body.
  • Sagginess. SIGH. Biggest bummer. Yes, I know I’m in my 30’s and I can’t expect to have perky boobs like I did when I was 20. But still. It’s frustrating–but to be expected. You can’t go from a 42FF bra to a 32DD and not expect some sag.
  • Flab. Pretty much the only place I’m flabby is my under arm area. Basically, Lunch Lady Arms. Swimming toned up my arms nicely but didn’t do the trick. I started weight lifting and finally saw some changes! I think a continued weight lifting program will tone my arms nicely.

I never thought about plastic surgery before. As a 250+ pound 20-something I never considered liposuction to lose the weight. Just hard work and dedication (which worked for me). Now, after maintaining my weight loss for over three years I have started thinking about plastic surgery.

It’s a strange thing to think about. Do I want to pay that much money for vanity? And will it even matter in the grand scheme of things? I weigh about 145 pounds and wear a size 4 jeans–do I even need to consider this?

I was talking to Michael about it, explaining the two sides of this issue. His stance is that if I want to do that, I have to do it for myself–to make myself feel better about my body. I already feel pretty good about my body so it’s not something that’s big in my brain right now.

The other issue is kids. Someday I want to have kids and won’t consider plastic surgery before I have kids. Seems like a waste of money right?

While I am not really in a place to think about plastic surgery right now for the loose skin, I will admit it’s something I am curious about. I’ve been thinking about seeing a doctor for a consultation just to satisfy my curiosity. Time will tell.

QUESTION: Have you ever had plastic surgery? What was your experience with it?