Home > Uncategorized > The Gallons of Milk Theory of Weight Loss

The Gallons of Milk Theory of Weight Loss

I have a new and disgusting if useful way of thinking about weight loss. You’re welcome in advance.

A couple of weeks into the starvation diet and right after my surgery, I complained to my husband that all my weight loss – something like 20 pounds or so at the time – had been taken out of my boobs. I was sad to see them go, I told him. Why couldn’t the weight loss happen elsewhere?!

He demurred. You should look at yourself as a container – most likely a bag – of liquid, he said, much like a plastic container of milk. After all, we’re almost entirely made up of liquid. So, thinking that way, and considering that a whole gallon of milk weighs 8 pounds or so, you’ve lost more than two gallons of milk, which means that your weight loss most definitely hasn’t entirely come from your boobs. Because, after all, they didn’t start out as big as gallons of milk, nor are they entirely gone.

This explanation was foolproof but left me with a queazy feeling which has since only grown.

As of my last weighing, which close readers of my blog will know happened at my doctor’s office last week and not my home, since I threw away my scale, I’ve lost 43 pounds and counting. That’s about 5 gallons of milk, friends. And it’s definitely not exclusively coming out of my sad, baggy boobs.

Indeed I have a new theory about how one loses fat, and it’s called my “sponge theory of fat loss.”

Namely, I think every fat cell in my body is losing weight at the same rate. That’s not to say, of course, that all parts of my body are losing weight at the same rate, since my fat cells accumulate in certain areas like hips, butt, and stomach (and until recently, boobs). Although it has to be said that my shoes have been seeming to grow bigger, which is mysterious. I never thought of my feet as at all fat.

Now, the reason I call it the sponge theory is that, as my voluminous thighs lose weight, they get increasingly spongey. That is, if you squeeze them, you feel like you’re maybe wringing out a sponge. This isn’t necessarily a bad sensation, but it’s definitely weird. It’s basically a loss of density just as much, or more than, a loss of volume.

But I do think the overall loss of volume is catching up in intensity. My skin is excessive for my needs, if you catch my drift. And that’s not going away.

I’ll tell you a secret. When I was young, like maybe 39 or 40, I went on a low carb diet. To be more precise: I decided to eat stuff my friend Laura ate. I modeled myself after her. She’s tiny, and eats well, and loves food, and so I thought, why not give that a try? I lived for months on healthy food like nuts, vegetables, fruit, lentils, and cheese.

It was a good life, and I lost quite a bit of weight. I never got to the point I am now, but I did get close. And you know what happened next? I saw my boobs disappearing, and my skin get excessive for my needs, and I freaked out. I ate a bagel. A single, delicious, still-warm-from-the-oven cinnamon raisin Absolute Bagel with cream cheese. It was delicious, my friends, and it broke me. Somehow I could never look back.

I now have a theory about that, too, because why not, an overactive mind. My theory is that I’d managed to develop a “skinny biome” in my stomach due to the hard work of adjusting to the Laura diet, but that it was precarious for whatever reason, and that bagel tipped my over into a fat person’s biome once again.

To clarify:

  1. I never ate any poop.
  2. I don’t regret this experiment. It taught me that real weight loss would mean a major shift in my body, including lots of extra skin that I would have to adjust to over time (and which I definitely wasn’t ready for 7 years ago).
  3. There’s good reason to think that one of the main reasons that bariatric surgery works is because it fosters a skinny biome.
  4. That means I can expect to want to eat like Laura, rather than using my limited will power to force myself to at all times.
  5. Which is good, because honestly nobody’s got that kind of willpower to be perfect all the time.
  6. Correction: some people do fight every minute of every day to stay thin, but I wouldn’t want to be one of them. Too many other things to do.

Long story short, in the past 7 years I’ve tried to come to terms with what major weight loss would do to my skin. I haven’t, yet. By night I have nightmares that yards and yards of my own excess skin smother me in my sleep. By day I feel guilty for the implicit ageism of my fears. I want to be someone who loves every inch of herself, even the extra skin.

This is what I want to say to people who congratulate me for losing a ton of weight, starting now and ending never: Please don’t equate thin with beautiful. I liked my body so much more when I was fat, when I looked like an enormous buddha, full and round. I didn’t do this to look better, I did it to be healthier, to bike in the summer and to avoid diabetes. I’m hoping to eventually find a way to love my body in spite of how it looks, but it’s a monumental challenge.

Statistically speaking I’m expected to lose quite a few more gallons of milk before stabilizing. I’m scared. I’ve decided to give it a few years of adjustment before turning to surgical means of dealing with excess skin, which would be expensive, dangerous, and a blow to my identity as someone who can adjust to things and rise above issues of vanity.

Wish me luck.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. September 11, 2017 at 9:58 am

    Glad to hear that you’re recovering okay. Thanks for keeping us posted about your journey. The Laura diet theory is really interesting, especially point #4.

    Recently I got a really bad case of food poisoning, where I couldn’t keep anything down for a solid few days. After, I tried to go back immediately to things I usually ate (not necessarily unhealthy) but found it really hard to stomach meat, which literally has never been an issue in my life. As a result, I’ve been eating Laura-diet-esque since the food poisoning and it’s really strange to me because I’ve never been able to follow any specific diet before, but now fried foods and meat makes my stomach turn. For the first time in my adult life, I also don’t have desire to drink coffee. Wondering if food poisoning — like surgery — is a stomach/biome reset. Even though I’m a small person (I think that has to do more with baseline metabolism from being an athlete for many years, genetics, and anxiety burning off all my calories), I grew up with a really white carb-heavy diet due to rice.

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  2. Wimsey
    September 11, 2017 at 11:46 am

    Thanks for sharing your adventures Mathbabe! You are an inspiration for to us all. And very interesting and entertaining. Also, I seen you talk a lot about food and nutrition. But what about exercise/workouts? Have you been doing anything different since your surgery? I know that you mention riding a bike. Anything else? I know that some people have luck with weight lifting after weight loss surgery. (with regards to dealing with excess skin and keeping the weight off long term) Good luck!

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  3. September 11, 2017 at 11:47 am

    If you had to choose
    between
    EATING TACOS
    everyday or
    BEING SKINNY
    would you choose
    hard tacos
    or soft tacos?
    (^_^)

    Like

  4. September 11, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    I haven’t had bariatic surgery, but I have recently lost over 30 lbs, and weight lifting has made a bigger difference in some ways in changing the shape of my body than the weight loss. Doesn’t help with the boobs much, though.

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  5. September 11, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    Is it possible for the loose skin caused by weight loss to tighten up? And if so, how long would that take?

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  6. dotkaye
    September 11, 2017 at 7:40 pm

    best of luck Cathy.. I didn’t know about the loose skin issue, yikes.

    Like

  7. Kayla
    September 12, 2017 at 11:49 am

    I had bypass in April! How crazy that a public intellectual I admire had it too! My experience has been pretty easy, considering how not-easy dealing with my weight has been since, basically, toddlerhood.

    I’ve lost 80 lbs (today is my 5 month surg-iversary). I was terrified that I would be bag of skin stuffed with a few smaller organs. Fortunately, this hasn’t really happened–maybe because I’m still young or maybe the doom is still impending. Hard to say. In any case, although you didn’t state it outright in this post, the fact is that massive weight loss is a complex psychological experience. It’s not just physical one, especially in relation to skin and post-weight loss appearance. I sometimes catch glimpses of myself and I don’t automatically recognize myself yet! That’s a total trippy brain moment!

    It’s been important to me to be realistic throughout this process. Part of that has been knowing that, once obese, even if I lose the poundage, my body will never look like the body of a person at is my same weight but that was never obese. Plastic surgery is an option, but even then, it’s a mitigation not a miracle.

    Regarding the bagel thing–this has 100% been my experience. Even now, at the 5-month post surgery point, I had something with a bit of carbs/bread in it. I went from having had no cravings in months to having intense cravings for carby food. Carby foods ARE DEAD TO ME. I’m okay with occasional hunger, but there’s no way I’ll survive post-surgery if I have to fight non-stop carb cravings. My advice is to take your surgeon/nutritionist serious and avoid carbs like the effing plague because after months of none, you’ll feel a wildfire of torturous desire for that crap if you have even the smallest amount. I hate bread, because I love it too much.

    Looking forward to following your journey!

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  8. Kayla
    September 12, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Oh, one more thing about skin, my surgeon did say that the skin does “tighten” up to some minor degree in the year post surgery as your weight stabilizes. But, that lifting weights is critical to help with muscle mass to fill out some of the skin.

    For me personally, skin brushing and intense spa scrubs do seem to help my skin. I’m not conducting some sort of legitimate experiment, but I had read that causing minor damage to the skin prompts it to self-repair, which can be one way of trying to improve overall skin appearance. This obviously won’t fix previously stretch(marked) areas of skin damage, but it can’t hurt right? Plus, “this spa treatment is for my medical condition” means my FSA will reimburse me. Score.

    Also, if nothing else, the skin brushing and body scrubs cause my skin to be glowing and soft. If you’re gonna have a lot extra skin, it might as well be glowing and soft, eh?

    Like

    • September 12, 2017 at 11:56 am

      Thanks for the tips, Kayla! You sounds awesome and positive. You’re giving me inspiration!

      Like

  9. Alfred Curtis
    September 13, 2017 at 10:36 am

    Hi, Cathy, Just want to say that you and your Blog is awesome. I am so enjoying Weapons of Math Destruction. I am trying to put together a POV so that our models are more rational, sort of like a marry of quantitative & qualitative…..we’ll see. Love this Blog!
    ADC

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  10. Nick
    September 14, 2017 at 8:21 am

    Could you not innovate some sort of system of sub-dermal balloons? These could be filled with an inert gas (perhaps lighter than air), giving you the full bodied appearance you desire while you remain stealthily lean.

    Like

    • September 14, 2017 at 8:39 am

      Brilliant. And I’m sure there will be a startup with that very concept soon. Or maybe I’ll be lean but in pictures and videos I’ll look nice and round.

      Like

  11. dana
    September 19, 2017 at 11:51 am

    With you 100%. I wish I could lose the weight without anyone noticing or remarking on it. It makes me feel like they feel I was less of a person when I was more of a person.

    I’m also with you on the skin. I am fighting a knee jerk reaction to seek skin surgery. I can’t imagine that it won’t improve a bit over a few years… and maybe it won’t be as floppy as I imagine??? and really would I rather be fat?? not sure. hurts my brain to think about it.

    i hope the change in my tastes and appetite sticks- right now I couldnt imagine eating like I used to. I will keep fighting hard to make this habit… thank you for sharing your journey, it makes me feel less alone in my crippling analysis paralysis.

    Like

  12. September 21, 2017 at 8:49 am

    I love your gallon of milk/sponge theory of weight loss! My sister measures weight in bags of cat food, dog food, and kitty litter. (In other words: bags of heavy.) She says, imagine you’re carrying all these bags of pet food or pet litter with you all the time. You take them to the movies. You take them with you to work. You take them on a walk. You take them out shopping…. Then you wonder, why are my knees so sore? Why does my back hurt? Why are my feet so tired? It’s great imagery, visualizing yourself physically carrying this stuff everywhere. 🙂

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  13. September 23, 2017 at 7:19 pm

    A good friend of mine just got her first skin removal surgery. She lost a lot of weight and has been doing a lot of working out, etc. Her first brachioplasty was last week. Her name is Mary Carmen Nyce and she’s doing a lot of public videos on FB about the process, what it’s like, what she’s experiencing. If that would be helpful to you to know more about the process.

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