thirty-six x

I have a notebook. Small, spiral. When I go somewhere, it goes too. It has a lot of things in it, mostly mundane: iterations of the ever-changing shopping list and to-do list. Errands I'd like to run. Thoughts. Phone numbers to call. During trips away from home, lists of postcards to send and assortments of new addresses and driving directions tend to pop up.

Were my notebook just comprised of those lists, I'd have no hesitation in letting anyone see the contents. The problem is that there's always a little more in there, and that "little more" is personal enough for me that I just can't share the full contents with anyone else.

Those are my lists of things I want out of my life as my weight loss progresses. Some of them are overarching. Some are little. Some are just dumb. Every one of them represents something intensely personal that I've felt I've lost due to the extra weight I carried.

Some items on the list come and go. My first lists, from when I started weight loss, clearly showed my greatest longings: dropping below size 20 and 200 pounds were on the very first list, and remained on every successive one for many, many months, until they were accomplished.

About six months in, a new one appeared. For me it was so simple, so pervasive, it needed no explanation past the number: 36(x).

The smallest bra size I ever remember wearing is a 36C. It is my memory of "before" - from before the weight came tumbling on me faster than I could handle - from a time when I could look at myself in the mirror and not hate what I saw. I remember as my weight spiraled, I put those bras away, and every time I found them in my drawer, I ached. Eventually I donated them, because it hurt too much to see them in my drawer.

I wanted that number. I wanted to be that number, and everything it represented: someone who fit into the norms of American sizes. Someone who could buy bras at 'normal' stores. Someone who could look in the mirror and not be devastated by her reflection. Someone who could look in the mirror and say, "Yes, I know internal beauty's the kind that lasts, but I look kinda hot in this shirt."

I was pretty sure of the outcome when I went into Victoria's Secret on Saturday to try on bras. I knew my measurements, but I had to see this for myself to believe it was true. I hooked myself into a 36DD bra and stared at myself in the mirror, willing myself to see what was really there, not just what my mind said was there.

Fifteen months into the process of weight loss, and I am still not done. I lack about twenty pounds reaching my original goal (a specific body fat percentage, so the actual poundage number fluctuates depending on my weightlifting). It's hard to ignore the twenty pounds left to go, because they do have an effect on my appearance, but the overwhelming nature of the changes to my body is becoming more and more difficult to deny.

I looked in the mirror and saw myself in the semi-mythical 36(x), clapped my hands over my mouth, and very nearly cried. More importantly, I saw myself - the real me that's been hiding in this body all along - beginning to emerge from the chub. At first, there were just shadows and hints of what might lie beneath, but now there are muscles and features and the beginnings of indications of what my body might be like once I'm done.

For now, though, I can take the 36DD and be happy. I've come a long way since 44DD in January of 2004.

I've written '36(x)' in my notebooks more times than I can count. Never again.

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Good deal. :)

Thank you for the smile in the middle of my work day - it has been too long :)