AARDA Autoimmune Walk in LA

Hello friends! In two months I will be turning 29. Instead of throwing a party or going out to celebrate, I’ll be walking in the second annual AARDA Autoimmune Walk in Los Angeles on November 5th.

So, here’s what I’m asking this year: please visit my AARDA Walk donation page and donate to support my team. You can do so through the link provided and support the awareness and funding for finding relief for those suffering from autoimmune diseases.

And if for no other reason to donate, our team is the AUTOimmuneBOTS, so nerd support FTW.

Visit my donation page here: Alexandra Denton’s Autoimmune Donation Page


Back to Basics

My weight has fluctuated pretty regularly over the past six months. For a long time I hovered comfortably around 135, going up or down a couple pounds every couple weeks. It was always higher during my period and would drop again afterwards. Then it crept up to 140 and started to hover around that. I was unsettled, but none of my clothes fit any different. I figured my body was settling into a groove, although I didn’t like that it was in at that weight, but it stayed there.

This morning, I’m at 144.8. That .8 is really important, because it means I’m NOT at 145, because that would send me into a worse panic than I’m already in. I know the statistics about weight loss surgery. I know that patients fail. I know that 20% see the weight gain in two years time. And over the course of ten years, that percentage goes up again. I’m sitting here, writing this because I always wanted to be transparent and honest with the struggle of weight loss. I needed someone else to know that this is a struggle for me. Not only is it a struggle, but it’s emotionally devastating.

My weight this morning had me in tears. I’m 100 lbs from my highest weight and yet that 9 lbs higher than what I’m comfortable with feels like the pressure and weight of 200. This is how the habits kick back in. I haven’t been paying enough attention to how I eat. I haven’t been thinking about how I don’t need to eat until I can’t take another bite. I only need to barely eat to survive. The problem now is that my horrible depressed and panicked brain wants to compensate these feelings of failure with, you guessed it, food. That addiction to food never goes away, even when you can’t eat much. It’s still my first thought. What can I eat that will make me feel better?

I’m lucky that I have many family members who have gone through this with me. My mother and I can easily decide that we need to eat less, differently. The problem is my own failures and my own fears. I know I have always truly believed that you are an amazing human and that it does not depend on your weight by any means.You decide where your comfortable weight is. If 9 lbs is enough to have me this upset, then I’m positive that my comfortable weight is lower. It’s why I couldn’t be happy at a higher weight. It’s why I couldn’t manage to survive at a higher weight.

So, today it is back to basics. Protein shakes will be back in my diet. I’ll be avoiding starches and sugars. For this next couple weeks, if not longer, I’ll be seriously backing off on the coffee, once I come down from the caffeine addiction I’ve developed so I don’t feel like I want to die. No more comfort foods, because food is not meant to be something to comfort me. Instead, it’s going on walks, talking to loved ones, and finding comfort in my strengths and not my weaknesses.







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The Stuff of Nightmares

A little backstory first; when I was 252 lbs, when I dreamed, I was always a much smaller person in my dreams. The me in my imagination was an average weight, maybe a little more, but nothing like my actual size. I would wake up, see myself in the mirrored doors of my closet and be reminded that no, I’m not average size.

Since my surgery, for the first time I have felt like I am the same person in real life as I am in my dreams. I finally can wake up in the morning and know that even in my head I’m average. Thank God for that! It’s the little victories sometimes. That was one of my secret non-scale victories. The fact that I knew I could finally feel like I was exactly who I needed to be and have that reflected in my imagination was incredible. Granted, there’s some extra skin and stretch marks under my clothes, but that is nothing compared to the happiness I feel when my body matches my imagination, for the most part.

But, for the first time since I can remember, I had a fat dream. Stress dreams are not uncommon. I have the reoccurring dream that my teeth are falling out. I’m always trying to get somewhere and can’t seem to make it. I’m always at work, struggling to finish my job only to hit ever obstacle. It’s a combination of being a depressed and anxious person and how that manifests in my mind while I sleep. However, I’ve always been thin in my dreams. Even when the stress is at it’s highest, I look about the same.

That is not what happened the other night. As usual, I was dreaming of trying to go somewhere and couldn’t seem to get ready. Everything was a struggle. Nothing was working right. My clothes were bothering me. I kept putting on different outfits and nothing felt like it looked right for felt right. In the dream, I finally looked at myself in the mirror only to find that I was fat again. I was struggling to wear clothes I had in my current weight and there I was, stomach bulging, arms struggling to move in the shoulders of my shirt. It was horrible. I woke up and was completely disgusted. My immediately thought was, “I have to go on a diet right now!”

Granted, My lowest weight was 131 lbs. I hover typically around 136 lbs and I am currently at 138 lbs. None of that is a strange thing. None of those numbers have effected the way my clothes fit at all. All of those numbers are within normal weight gain and loss from morning to night and week to week. This is not weird. I do not need to diet. Should I eat better? Probably. I need more veggies in my diet. I should be taking my vitamins better than I do. Believe me, I struggle badly with maintaining healthy habits. The surgery did not magically give me the healthy habits of a paleo-diet obsessed crossfitter (no offense, you guys are way more motivated than I am). All I’m saying is that the nightmare of gaining weight is in my control and I need to keep it in check.

Nightmares or not, real or dreams, this is my life and I have to do what’s right for me every single day. I’m really bad at it. I need to get better at. So, have those nightmares, because that was one hell of a wake up call.

The Hardest Part (And How I Was Wrong)

Most often when people ask me what the hardest part of weight loss surgery is, I answer that the first two months. Those are the months that you spend frustrated at your limited diet, wishing you could chew, tired of protein shakes, learning your limits, discovering foods you can no longer eat, and being frustrated as your body learns how to work with a three ounce stomach. I do still believe that it is a very, very difficult time in post-WLS life. It’s so hard to figure out and so hard to get past, but once you’re through it, its smooth sailing.

Except I was wrong. I’m taking it back. That is not the hardest part. That is the second hardest part. The real test is after you’ve lost your goal weight. After your three ounce stomach relaxes, because your normal daily routine becomes a fact of life and not something you have to think about each time you put something in your mouth, you suddenly forget what you went through all this for. This is where the real test begins and this is why I say it’s the hardest part.

I’ve shared so much of my success, and I do still believe I’ve been overall successful. I’ll share my numbers with you again; I started pre-op at 252 lbs. I have since lost between 115-120 lbs. I say that range because I know that our bodies fluctuate in weight around five pounds up or down and it’s a totally normal thing. There is no reason to be afraid of gaining a few pounds and then dropping it again. I have sat on average at about 134 lbs. I have gotten very comfortable with that weight. However, I’ve noticed in the past month, something has changed.

Now, I’m at 136 lbs as of this morning. Again, totally in a normal range for my body. However, I’ve been sitting at 136 or 137 lately and not dropping back to 134. Luckily, I’m so afraid of gaining the weight back, I immediately needed to start watching what I was eating again. That, it turns out, is a lot harder than I realized. I lost much of my weight just by letting my sleeve do the work. It didn’t take much for my body to want to drop pounds once I was in a place that it could. Restricting my diet, regardless of content, to small meals actually did the job for me. Sure, I worked out (not consistently), but it was fine. But now, when I’m noticing that my weight isn’t fluctuating down as much as it is up, trying to eat better is a struggle.

Those habits we hold onto, the ones we had to break post-op will sneak back into your diet over time. I find that I can eat more than I could a year ago, which isn’t that surprising and it’s okay. I also choose foods that aren’t as good for me. Things higher in calories than I should. I tend to snack in a way I shouldn’t. I have a habit of not eating much of a meal, leaving said meal out and grazing, which that right there is a bad word among WLS patients. Don’t graze! You can slowly take in way too many calories in the day. Suddenly, I’m finding that those bad habits I had to break are leaking into my daily routine again and sure, two pounds up isn’t a reason to panic, but it’s a reminder that the alteration to my stomach can only work for me if I’m utilizing it.

This is the real test. This is the rest of my life where I still can only eat a small amount of food and I have to choose very carefully what foods those are. I have to eat until I’m satisfied, not full. Eat when I need it, not because I’m bored. Eat when it’s necessary to keep me going. I have to refocus all of that. This is the hardest part of weight loss surgery. Not the surgery, not the first two months, not the hair loss, or the stretch marks, or the loose skin. This, right here, facing the rest of my life having to think consciously about what I eat, eating with purpose only and realizing that this is the rest of my life that I will have to deal with this struggle, this is the hardest part.

So, I’ll take the advice I’ve heard before. Don’t focus on forever. Don’t focus so far down the road that you can’t see what’s right in front of you. Meet your goals meal by meal. Treat each meal as a means to be successful. It isn’t about the long-term if you can’t see the steps to get there.

Choose Your Own Adventure

It’s come up a couple time lately in conversation that you have to make the decision to be happy. I do believe that’s true. I firmly believe that all of us have the ability to choose to be happy and choose to find a better mood. I also know that I sometimes really want to choose the bad mood. Sometimes, I just want to be so mad at the world and cranky and I don’t care who knows. There are days where cranky and alienating yourself is so much easier and more satisfying than choosing to be not a jerk. Don’t get me wrong, the satisfaction is short lived, but sometimes I just want to be mad.

Today is one of those days. There’s not a specific reason for it. I just want to be in a bad mood and be left alone. I have been burning the candle at both ends lately, so I’m a little worn out. Maybe I think that being cranky will keep people away and then I can finally have some down time to myself. That very well could be it.

That doesn’t mean I should let myself be cranky, though, right? I like being happy. Happy is better for you. I want, most of the time, to feel happy, so I shouldn’t let myself feel this annoyed at the world for no reason. I guess I am making that choice to be happy today. That’s what I’ll do.

After all, there’s plenty of reasons to be happy. I keep seeing women getting to the hair loss part of their post-op WLS journey. Hey! Just be happy that the hair loss indicates that your body is losing the weight and the surgery is working. Seriously. That seems odd to say, but that’s kind of how I felt about it at the time. I have loose skin on my stomach that certainly isn’t attractive, but it means that I did it. I lost the weight. I fend off cravings. I don’t over eat. I don’t make myself sick. I am continually doing better in my health every day, minus missing the gym lately, and that’s a good reason to be happy.

It really is a choose your own adventure book and we get to decide what parts of the adventure we see.

Best Friends Know Best

This past week was a week of firsts. I traveled across the country all by my lonesome, arrived in a state I’d never been in and traveled around the area along side my best friend. Rarely do I get to travel distances that require an airplane ticket and rarely is it for as good a reason as last week.

My best friend of eight years–we aren’t sure the exactly time frame anymore–lives in North Carolina. She moved there from Orange County, California about a year ago. It was devastating. Don’t get me wrong, I was supportive of her and her husband taking that trek. It was important and it was good for them. I knew that. She knew that. It didn’t make me any less sad. In addition to that, it was very difficult for me to accept that life was changing faster than I knew how to deal. She told me about two months before she moved that they were moving away and that was around the time that I had just been scheduled to have my VSG surgery. My mother’s immediate response was that this couldn’t be better timed. I was sure that it then wouldn’t matter.

See, I didn’t realize that losing weight would bring back my confidence. I was sure I would lose weight and then be alone with no one to share it with it. I wouldn’t have a reason to get out of the house. I wouldn’t have a reason to show it off. I’d still be the girl who was introverted, scared and only had one friend; the difference was that the one friend was now across the country instead of with me.

However, instead of wallowing in it like I so often would, I took action. I started making plans. I started working on costume ideas, preparing for the coming months when she moved away. I knew that if I didn’t start right then, I would only let myself wither away in my tiny apartment with my cat. I didn’t want to throw my life away, hinged on the distance of a friend at the age of 26. Even I knew I was too young for that, and I have depression that wants me to think otherwise.

As many of you know, the year changed significantly. I’ve met many goals and seen my hard times, but the one constant was that even in all this, my best friend remained my best friend, even from 2,300 miles away. Finally, this past week I got to see her again and it was like none of that time and distance had happened. We picked up exactly where we left off, already starting our normal speech pattern of talking a million words a minute, usually over each other to the point that her husband stares at us in disbelief and pure confusion.

We went horseback riding, something I didn’t ever want to do 100 lbs overweight. We went hiking–admittedly a modest and relatively short trail–but hiking! We went shopping. We went to the Renaissance Faire. I never felt like things were out of place. I felt confident and I felt like all was right with the world.

And you know how I wasn’t sure about how i was feeling about my personality recently? I was afraid I was too much and had changed? Well, this is what best friends are for, people. She told me, in no uncertain terms, that the person I am now is exactly who I had always been. I was always loud and flirty and outgoing and energetic. The difference was when I got a response from someone when I weighed 250 lbs, I backed off. I hated the attention in return because how could someone want to flirt back at me? How could they see all that and think it was a good idea to engage in anything friendly and sarcastic and loud and enthusiastic? I didn’t want that attention. I didn’t think I deserved it even though I clearly demanded it. Now, I do all the same things but also know how to respond.

So thanks, Katie. That was probably a week of rest and recreation that I’ve been in desperate need of for months.

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The Common Denominator

I’m learning a lot lately about how weight loss surgery can greatly influence the relationships you have with people, be it old friends and family or new acquaintances. In my cracked.com article, I talked about how that is one of the major changes that people don’t expect. Suddenly you find yourself facing something you couldn’t imagine. Maybe your family suddenly isn’t as happy for you once the weight comes off, or your friends don’t seem to treat you the same way.

Well, it seems that treatment goes both ways. I think I’m different. I’m more confident. I’m more extroverted. I’m more engaged in relationships around me. I’m also louder, obnoxious, sarcastic, bold… These aren’t new personality traits. Those things didn’t suddenly develop. Those traits were always there in me. I was always very, very much that same person, but the layer of fat kept me from wanting to draw attention. The obnoxious, sarcastic remarks were reserved for close friends and family; I kept the rest to myself. No one else needed to know that this already big girl in the literal sense also had a big personality.

Now, I’m finding that those traits that already lived inside me are starting to show up and I’m not sure I like them. I come across as loud and pushy, sometimes overwhelming. I have very poor control over my mouth. I have a tendency of saying anything that comes into my head. Maybe it’s the lack of experience since I’ve lost weight in these social situations. Maybe it’s just how I am in general. Maybe I don’t want to be that way.

I realize this blog post is getting very personal and very outside the normal weight loss surgery post. I’m not sure if it belongs here, but maybe someone can sound off for me about this, give me an idea of what they have seen their own personality shift into once the weight came off. Did you run from it? Did you encourage it? Did you try to change it? Was that the right thing to do?

I’m pretty sure I can’t change my personality. I’m not certain I would ever want to. I like who I am. Yes, I frighten some of the more introverted among us. I’m a lot of personality in a now relatively small body. The problem is, I still suffer from depression and anxiety. I still worry myself sick over the fact that I could be alienating myself from everyone by being this person that I am. That wasn’t the weight loss’ fault either. Before, when I weighed 252, that acted as my buffer. It kept my distance from anyone. Now that I don’t have that, and I’m more likely to strike up a conversation with someone, I’m not able to utilize a buffer like I had before. Should I be trying to filter it all through something first? Am I even capable?

I suppose I’m laying this all out here like this because I needed to see it all written down. Maybe I’ll have an epiphany about who I am and what I want and how I should be, but so far nothing is coming to me. Instead, I’m locked in this unending cycle of being myself, regretting being myself, deciding that being myself is just fine and no one else should have a say, and then starting all over after really being myself to someone I’d rather not scare away.

I know the answer is that anyone who is scared away from me is not the one to worry about, but… how many times do I have to scare someone away before I realize that it really is something about me that’s the problem? I seem to be the common denominator and I shouldn’t ignore that.

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There’s Always Something

I first want to make an announcement before I continue on to the meat of this post. My brother and I have started a podcast! We call it Wild Accusations. It’s mostly about nothing, but the past two weeks, we have had episodes about our respective weight loss journeys through weight loss surgery. We then also spoke about a few other people that have had surgery and where they are in their journey. I’m inviting you to keep sending me those stories. You can connect with me on Instagram @waistingawayhere or Twitter at @waistinawayhere. If you’d rather email me, that’s fine too! Waistingawayhere@gmail.com or the podcast email is wildaccusationspodcast@gmail.com.

To hear our podcast, go to soundcloud.com/wildaccusations. Episode 5 and 6 are our two part series about weight loss surgery. I’d love to expand our listeners, but also hope that it can be a tool for people if they need to hear more about what weight loss surgery can do for them.

Today, however, I want to talk about how your life changes for the better, but that doesn’t mean it gets easier. One of the most common questions I get about my 110 lb weight loss journey is if the loose, saggy skin bothers me, or if I have any at all. My problem areas are pretty easily hidden beneath clothes, so it isn’t so bad for me. Usually my answer to this question is that the weight loss is such an incredible experience and knowing how much healthier I am makes it so that no amount of loose skin would bother me. THat’s all true, too. Overall, the fact that my stomach and breasts and thighs sag a bit doesn’t really bother me.

Well… until it does. See, it may not bother me enough to do anything, but it bothers me enough to think about and poke and prod and wonder what it would be like without it. Then, it dawned on me. I used to poke and prod at other flaws when I was 100 lbs overweight. I would obsess about how I didn’t like my knees, or I wished that some random, inconsequential part of my anatomy did something very slightly different–notice the weight was never my problem at the time. I was completely in denial. Now, I do find other things to poke at even though I should be just happy that I’m not struggling to find clothes even in the plus size section.

There’s always something. You will always obsess. You will always nitpick. You will always boil it down to if this one little thing looked different I’d be fine with my body. The truth is, if I do get a tummy tuck, I’m going to find an annoying spot on my hip that bothers me. Or suddenly I’ll be mad that my thighs don’t match the tautness of my stomach. Or I’ll find that my butt sags too much. Or I’ll hate that wrinkles show more in my forehead. It will never, ever be enough. I finally understand how people do become obsessed with plastic surgery. We think that there’s one flaw on us that if we could change it, we’d be fine with the rest. The truth is, once that one big flaw is gone, we find a new flaw to be the one big flaw.

Yes, lose weight for your health. Worry about what it will be like 20 or 30 years from now when you’re older. Care for your body. Don’t try and fix each little flaw you see. I promise, only you are seeing those flaws. Everyone else is seeing your confidence, not your so-called problem areas. Besides, what everyone else sees doesn’t matter. It’s what you feel that you actually have to live with.

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Society is Shallow

Hi everyone!

I’ve been terrible at keeping this updated. Life has been busy and though that is no excuse, it doesn’t mean it’s not true. You’d think with life being busy I’d have more to say, but honestly I don’t, because in the long run, my VSG doesn’t feel odd at all anymore. It used to feel like something I had to think about and it no longer does. Instead, the changes have been social, for the most part, and that is not always a great thing.

I noticed about three months out from surgery, when I was starting to look more of an average weight that people treated me different. People working the checkouts at the grocery store were more friendly, baristas at Starbucks were more charming and in general I seemed to grab more attention from strangers around me. Now, I used to believe that weight was no one else’s business and that the world could not possibly believe that someone’s weight made them less of a person. I think, for the most part, in people’s minds and opinions they believe that to be true, but in subconscious thought and action, that don’t. The heavier you are, the less the world sees you and when they are ‘forced’ to see you, they have awful things to say. Is it right? Absolutely not. Is it the truth? Yeah, I think it is.

Since losing 100 lbs, my entire world has opened up. Not only can I climb 60 stories on the stairmaster without breaking into an asthma attack, but I also feel confident at the gym in a pair of shorts. Why? Well, yes, I am more comfortable in my own skin, but also I know that others aren’t seeing me as an offense to their eyes. Maybe they don’t find me attractive or their ‘type’, but I’m not invading their comfortable space. Again, this is not okay. This is not how society should operate. No one should feel the presence of another person is personally offensive because of the way they look. Another person’s value is not in how much they weigh, but the truth is, there’s something like an instinct.

Now, I’ve struggled greatly with the idea of body positivity. I believe that you should learn to understand and love the body you’re in–after all, it’s the only one you have. In some people, that comfort and positivity happens at any weight. I’m a firm believer that it’s a personal thing. I’ve seen some plus size women look so happy and confident in their skin. I’ve also seen girls who are plus size and saying how confident and happy they are and utilizing the eff your body standards hashtag, but you can sense that it’s a hollow response. They don’t always feel it. I don’t think everyone can be body positive at any size. Some people cannot feel that way. I, for example, was never going to feel confident at 100 plus pounds overweight. It never was going to work for me. Now, at 145 pounds? Yeah, I feel damn good and I can be body positive at this weight, but that’s me and my personal journey. No one is the same.

This, of course, does not mean that society is going to accept you at any weight. There’s been some amazing marketing strides made for fashion and beauty that are changing the way we see bodies of different shapes and sizes. There is no such thing as a one size fits all and they’re starting to admit to that. It doesn’t mean it will all just turn around and it doesn’t mean it’ll be easy, but it’s happening.

What’s the point of this blog post? Not sure. Maybe I’m saying you should find your comfort zone. Maybe that means you are okay at 50, 100, 150 pounds overweight for a medical healthy weight. Maybe that means you have to accept that losing 100 pounds to feel positive about your body is an okay goal to have. Not everyone is the same and no one should feel shamed for wanting to be thinner and fit a more socially acceptable mold. Society is shallow, but that doesn’t mean you have to be. And it certainly doesn’t mean you have any right to shame someone else for what their body positive weight should be.

In unrelated news, I’ve now got a podcast I run with my younger brother. You can find us at soundcloud.com/wildaccusations. It’s a weekly podcast, released on Tuesdays (new one should be up soon). Also, follow us on instagram at wildaccusations, email us at wildaccusationspodcast@gmail.com or just use the hashtags #wildaccusations or #wildaccusationspodcast We’ll answer questions and make fun of you, probably.

My weight loss journey is still a work in progress. I’m now 107 lbs down, bouncing around the 145 mark pretty steadily. It’s all a matter of working out and weight lifting now. Find me on instagram at waistingawayhere or twitter at waistinawayhere.

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How I’ve Missed You!

Hello! Well, I’ve done the absolute worst job at keeping this updated, haven’t I? This past month in particular has been very very busy and I’ve scarcely had time to think let alone form a coherent thought to actually post about, but I’m about to give you all a very long overdue update!

First things first, as of the end of April, beginning of May, I am officially 100 lbs down from my starting weight. I dropped five pounds very quickly and gained two of those pounds back. Those two pounds crept off again and put me at this monumental goal. I have in the past week lost another pound, which makes me very happy because it means that it wasn’t a fluke and I”m not going to hover and gain and lose over and over right around this weight. I think I will have to work a bit harder now that I’ve hit this point, having noticed that the weight loss has slowed up considerably. I haven’t been making it to the gym like I would have liked, but my life has been busy and active (like stage managing a kids musical and pushing heavy set pieces all over a stage for two days). I’m still acting and rehearsal for my up coming performance of Little Shop of Horrors that is happening at a festival in Las Vegas in a couple weeks, which keeps me on my feet.

The last you heard from me about a personal update was that I was dressing as Ariel for Wondercon and I did indeed do that. I was beside myself with how it all came out. I’m going to absolutely spam some pictures here at the bottom of this post because there’s another one I think I’d like you all to see. The Renaissance Faire is a love of mine and last year in May I had made a full Elizabethan corset and time era accurate costume. I wasn’t happy with it. I didn’t like the way it looked or how I looked in it. I felt that it didn’t seem to follow what they call ‘Ren Faire accurate’ representation of dress, which is a lot more cleavage than what I had going on with my dress. So, being 100 lbs lighter, I took apart the corset and dress and remade them into a new one. There’s a side by side photo below, too. It was a HUGE success for me. I was so happy with how it turned out and how I looked in it that I felt confident at the faire this year and cannot wait to go next year.

So this post is just an update that things are generally going well. I’m having a regular scare that I’m eating too much or that I’m going to start gaining the weight back. It almost feels like it’s too good to be true and I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. This is bound to be something that gets snatched away the minute I’m feeling confident about myself, right? Doubting my abilities to stay on track and stay the course is only holding me back. I have to remember that the success isn’t just this sleeve of mine, but my choices and dedication to making this tool work for me.

And while I aim at that last 12 or 13 lbs to lose, I’ll try to remember to post more often here. I’m much more active on instagram, though if you are looking for another way to see my journey. Same name there too! WaistingAwayHere

Now for pic spam!

Ariel cosplay at Wondercon 2015 with the wonder LonsterMash

Ariel cosplay at Wondercon 2015 with the wonder LonsterMash

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Left: 252 lbs Right: 152 lbs

Left: July 4th, 2014 Right: May 1st, 2015

Renaissance faire, both costumes made from the same pieces, simply redone.

May 27, 2015, last night Disneybounding as Hipster Ariel.

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