It was exactly a year ago this week that we left Amsterdam for Frankfurt after deciding that the only way I would ever get my weight problem solved is to go the route of weight loss surgery. I was going through a million different emotions this time last year. My marriage was going through a weird time… we were talking more than we ever had in 24+ years of being together; it was good but awful at the same time. I was having this huge internal conflict with myself because my personality always projected a lot of confidence; if you put me in a room with a lot of people, I would always be one of the more social people there. I liked being the leader, boss, ‘traffic director’ in most situations. But being in Europe where people are tall and thin and fit, not to mention fascinating and multilingual, my normal self-confidence took a total nose-dive as I limped along on my bad knees, feet and hip! I didn’t want to go places, I just wanted to stay in, sit in a corner and not be noticed for the first time in my life. But we were finally retired! We were traveling for a year and I was in Europe! We were seeing friends! How could I not be happy?
So I fought with myself: I loved my life. Wait, no, I hated my life! One moment I felt like the luckiest person in the world, the next I was having a pity party for myself. So, it was time to say “enough already!!!!” I signed on the dotted line, had the surgery, and now, I love my life ALL THE TIME.
Yesterday I celebrated my 59th birthday and for the first time in my entire life I ate some birthday cake without feeling guilty and had my first birthday as a thin person. (It still feels weird to say that!) My husband gave me the most amazing gift: a hamam massage! Long-time readers will remember I did this once before in Berlin last November… well today, I am going to try to explain in detail just how heavenly this is.
I went to a place called Spa Zuiver, a beautiful spa here in Amsterdam, very chic and contemporary and makes you say “aahhh” when you walk in the front door! Now this is Europe, so people here are NOT shy when it comes to bodies… so the dressing rooms are shared by men and women, and people just walk around naked (or in a robe) or you see them shower and IT’S NO BIG DEAL… I love that attitude. But of course, most people here are pretty fit and I didn’t see any huge people there at all, so a year ago I would have felt a little uncomfortable (the old “I’m the fattest person in the room” feeling…). This time, I just undressed in the communal dressing room, put my robe and slippers on and went downstairs passing Asian water falls and orchids everywhere and never feeling self-concious.
My masseur was named Joost; he welcomed me into this beautiful area with a steam room, shower area and the massage area. Asked me to take my robe off and to sit in the steam room, which I did. No one else was in the steam room with me but there could have been. I was in there for 5-10 minutes; I have not liked steam rooms in the past but this time I did. Was it because I felt better about my body? Maybe… not sure, but it felt great.
After the steam room, we walked over to one of the hamam tables, which is a stone table on a stone floor; it’s unlike a massage table as it gets very wet. Joost is wearing what looks like a dishcloth wrapped around his waist, that’s it. You can see others getting their massages as well; it’s a large room with open bookcase-style dividers. The lighting is soft and there’s some background instrumental music playing.
I lie on my back and he places a small dishcloth over my lower private parts only. The next part is something that happens over and over during this massage and there is no way to explain how incredible this feels. It’s something that has to be experienced and I never wanted it to end… they take these bowls of very warm water and pour them over your body. It’s like sheets of soft warm water caressing you and it’s one of the most sensual touches possible.
This is followed by a body scrub with a semi-rough cloth. Then more water… AHHHH! When you think all you want is the water over you, he then takes this pillowcase-type thing and fluffs it up somehow (it’s filled with soap bubbles) and massages you with it. Trust me, it is the softest thing you will ever feel, yes, even softer than a baby’s skin. Once he does that, he then squeezes the bubbles all over you and gives you a full massage using the soapy bubbles instead of oil.
Of course this is followed by MORE WARM WATER… then you turn over and he does it all again!!!! Water is amazing; I love to look at it, be in it, and having it poured over you in this ancient Moroccan way is very special.
As a last sweet touch, he washes your hair and your face and gives you a head and face massage. At this point you are one wet noodle and are on the verge of ‘falling in love’ with Joost, your masseur, and wondering if your husband would mind if you brought him home… “LOOK WHAT I FOUND, HONEY!!!”
Sadly, after an hour and 45 minutes, it’s over. He helps you up and makes sure you can walk, then leads you over to the shower area, which is this large round room with no knobs anywhere. You step inside and a hundred shower heads turn on automatically from the ceiling at the exact right warm temperature… at that point I was wondering how I got so lucky to be living this life!!!
After putting your robe back on, you then walk up the stairs where a cup of tea and a little fruit is waiting for you so you can figure out how to re-enter the real world slowly.
By the way, all this cost only 89 euros (about 115 USD) and they don’t take tips. Plus you have use of the rest of the spa as well — workout facility, etc. And to all my readers, if you make it to Amsterdam… I would be most happy to accompany you there and show you around!
Would I have this surgery all over again? Do I think the money I spent on the surgery was the best money I have ever spent in my life? Was the pain of going through a difficult period last year worth it? Did my weight problems carry over into other areas of my life but I didn’t want to see it? Was I headed for more medical problems as I got older if I didn’t get the surgery and become healthy? And finally, would I have gone to the spa if I were still 200+ lbs? I think the answer to all but the last one is an obvious YES!
As you can see, it’s been a wonderful week here in Amsterdam. We’re settling in nicely but it’s a good thing we didn’t come for the weather! It’s been cold and cloudy with a little rain but we have had a few bouts of sunshine here and there. I’m still walking in the park regularly but next week I’ll join the health club and start working out there, weather wimp that I am!
Thanks to everyone for the encouragement to continue the blog… it means a lot to me to have the support of others out there. Since I will be continuing this for a while, I would love to highlight some other success stories! If you have an interesting story to contribute, please send it to me using the comment form below. I may feature your story in a future post.
Tot die tijd! (Until then)
Queen of Crop
(Click on photos to enlarge)