QUESTION: First off, I want to say thank you for the book, Secrets of a Former Fat Girl. It was so inspirational, and I can totally relate. You have shown me its actually possible for us normal people to lose weight and keep it off. I am currently enrolled in a “Lifetime Health and Fitness” class to learn more about nutrition and exercise. Everything you said in the book pairs perfectly with what I am learning in class. I finally feel like I have control again. I gained my weight very rapidly (painful breakup) and it has stayed with me for years. Since I read your book and started to lose, I’ve discovered some stretch marks on my stomach. Did that happen to you? Will they go away or at least become less visible as you gained your new body? — Jessica
DEAR JESSICA: Thanks so much for your nice note! I'm so glad my story helped you down the path to a healthier life. As for stretch marks: Yes, I did end up with stretch marks after I lost the weight. They're on my hips, and frankly, they don't bother me at all. For one thing, they're not visible to anyone (except my husband!) — even my swimsuit covers them. And for another, I guess I've accepted them as the price I had to pay for getting healthy — a very minor price, if you ask me. In a way, I'm kind of proud of them: They are a badge of honor … a reminder of where I've come from.
You might not feel the same way about yours. Since they're on your stomach, they might cramp your style during bikini season — I get that. One thing to know: Stretch marks typically go from angry red or purple streaks to white, so they're less bothersome in that way. You can also cover them up with sunless tanning products. Maybe it's time for a spray-on tan this summer? Most of what I've read says that over-the-counter products promising to fade stretch marks don't work. If you want to get serious about getting rid of them, see a dermatologist. He or she may recommend a prescription retinoid cream to help fade the marks. Some derms also use laser therapy and even microdermabrasion and chemical peels to zap the annoying blemishes. If that sounds like too much trouble (or money), consider this: There are plenty of cute swimsuits that cover up your middle and still show off your former-fat figure. Plus — and this was an important lesson for me — we can always find something to focus on as a figure "flaw," even after we've reached our weight goals. Part of the journey is to make the changes that will make you healthy, control what you can control, and let go of the rest. Sometimes the letting go is even harder than the controlling part. But that's what makes life interesting. Thanks so much for writing and very best wishes on your journey!
Spry editor Lisa Delaney is one of the rare souls who know what it’s like to be an “after.” This journalist and author of Secrets of a Former Fat Girl shed 70 pounds—and six dress sizes—and has kept it off for 20 years. She answers your questions here each week.