I’ve struggled with my weight all my life. I grew up to the taunts of my peers about being fat. I’m not alone. A lot of us have.

My weight has yo-yoed. I weighed probably 120 and wore a size 10 when I got out of the military in 1998. By early 2002, I went up to 198 and was probably a size 22, though I continued to be in denial and stuffed myself into the size 20 clothing I wore. Then I stepped on a scale to realize, yes, I was 198 pounds.

I dieted. I played Dance Dance Revolution. I tried to go on walks. Oh so slowly, the weight came off. In 2003, a friend of mine got me to join him in karate. By early 2006, I was just barely getting back into size 10 clothing and weighed 148. I was finally starting to feel more confident about myself.

Then I got divorced. (Spring of 2007, for those interested.) Oh, sure. All sorts of people told me that the life changes would be hell. Did I listen to that? Of course not! We all think we’re invincible, that we’ll be the one to break the pattern. I lost my home, I lost my car, and I lost my job all within months of the divorce. The weight flooded back on. I couldn’t afford karate anymore, and I was depressed even despite having jumped into a new relationship.

Out of control? You BET. I hated that I’d undone all the hard work, yet despite the guilt and self-flagellation, I couldn’t get myself to get back on track.

After a disastrous breakup in fall of 2008 that also followed my filing for bankruptcy, an all-time low of depression forced my body to start mimicking bulimia. I’ll say this now. I love food. I do not, however, like revisiting it. I spent the better part of October, all the way through December, throwing up. It took all sorts of trickery and things I’ll never admit to my parents (hi, Mom!) to get my body to keep anything down. I lost 20 pounds, hating every moment of what my body was undergoing. I knew that it wouldn’t last forever- both the depression and the weight loss. I knew once I got my body under control, all the weight I’d lost would come back, and I’d have to bring it off again… HEALTHILY.

I spent 2009 trying to get myself together. Finally I could keep down food again, and I was thrilled. I used this to my advantage and started trying to be more conscious again of what I put into my body. I’d spent years learning what foods my body reacts well to, and which ones it really doesn’t like. Potatoes and refined starches? I have to avoid those. Fruits, seafood, lean meats and veggies? More please! You’d be amazed at how easy it is to ignore your body when you’re just trying to survive. Slowly I began undoing the damage I’d done dietarily, including finally taking vitamin and nutritional supplements regularly, but I couldn’t figure out an exercise path that really made me happy. I’d loved karate, but the events of the years led me to an important conclusion- I really didn’t like violence, even simulated and controlled. I just didn’t have the spirit to go back.

I was lost. There were things I’d talked about wanting to try for years, but always made excuses. Time, money, etc. Pole dancing was one of them. I’d seen some classes listed on Colorado Free University for it, but again, there were many excuses not to try it out.

Until last spring. I’d finally started getting myself back on track financially. My post-bankruptcy debt was becoming manageable. I couldn’t find the classes listed on CFU anymore, so Google was my friend. “Denver Pole Dancing Lessons” brought up the site that I recalled seeing the address from- TranZenDance Studio. (www.tranzendancestudio.com). I scraped together the $50 for the intro class, and took it the end of May.

I must say, it was the most fun activity I’ve ever tried. I was instantly hooked. The instructor, Lori, was gentle, patient, and encouraging of everyone. I knew then and there I wanted to continue. I still had some financial obligations to work through, but I was determined. The second I’d freed myself up enough, I was going to take those classes.

And I did. I officially started on July 26 with a few of the most fantastic women I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. There were a few people who joined in as the next few weeks progressed. Within a month or so, we had a solid core of us. Talk about support! For once, I felt like I wasn’t alone. We all had different body shapes and sizes, and we all cared about each other. We cheered each other on.

My life changed again, because I’d finally found my fitness home. I’ve now spent the last several months at the dance studio or wishing I was there, and finally started taking a second class a few weeks ago. I’ve worked in strength and flexibility training a bit through the rest of the week. The weight has come off, and I’m in the best shape of my life.

I’m now sitting around 145 pounds. And get this. I’m wearing a size 8. I’ll probably be in a size 6 in the next month or two. I’ve never been in single digit clothing, not even since puberty, even at my “fittest” and “thinnest”. That’s fantastic. It opens up all those cute clothes I never thought I’d be able to wear. I look great. This brings me to the title of this post. Nobody warned me.

I can feel my bones now. Acutely. I’ve always had a nice, soft layer covering everything. I still have plenty of padding in those “trouble” spots- butt, thighs, waist… for the moment. My ribs, hipbones and shoulders are the current bony culprits.

Let me say. OW. I have to learn how to sleep differently. Nobody ever told me what it’s like to adapt to having that soft cushioning gone. I was prepared for the bruising class would provide. This is completely different. It HURTS. The afore-mentioned boney areas feel bruised, even though they aren’t. It’s not just because of the workout. It’s because my body has never experienced anything of this nature. Ow, ow, and did I say ow?

Ladies, there’s something that nobody’s fitness talks prepare you for, in addition to the sudden bone prominence. It’s called bra and underwear fit. When you play with the weight yo-yo, you forget how undergarments are supposed to fit.

Don’t laugh. It happens more than you’d think.

Because my weight has shifted so much, I’ve stayed stubborn about wanting to invest in clothing. Undergarments in particular. It’s expensive and embarrassing. So I’ve kept myself going a bit with regular clothing, assisted with the wonderful hand-me-downs provided by peers who’ve also been working on getting into shape. Bras and underwear? You can’t get those second hand. You don’t WANT to get them second hand.

I’ve bought a couple of bras out of necessity, but they haven’t fit right. I’ve dealt with it. Once I started being so acutely aware of my ribs, I realized I can’t “deal” anymore. Owowowowow. Even though I have to wear them because of my shape, underwires are not my friend. Especially ones that don’t fit correctly. And I’m really tired of being ashamed of wearing baggy, misshapen underwear, even if they aren’t granny-style. (Or weren’t, when they fit all those years ago.)

It happens. Guess what. I’m still not alone. It’s just that nobody wants to talk about the humiliation involved.

After an enforced shopping trip today (I needed a new white, collared button-down for a concert performance this weekend), I decided to splurge a little. Time to say “goodbye” to the sports bras and undies that are all stretched out and horrifying to wear. Regular bras, unfortunately, need to wait another trip. I’m learning how to deal with my new body, knowing even more changes are to come.

This is still just the beginning of everything.