Weighty Matters

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Playing with My Food

Do any of you watch Chopped on the Food Network.  Chefs have limited time to make dishes out of surprise ingredients.  It starts with four chefs each making an appetizer.  One gets chopped so the remaining three move to entrees.  The final two each make a dessert.  The winner gets $10,000.

They don’t know in advance what each round’s basket will contain in terms of the ingredients they must use, supplementing them with a wide variety of other things in the pantry and refrigerator.  I have to admit that the show often includes ingredients I’ve never even heard of, let alone eaten, and I sure as hell don’t think I could decide how to incorporate some of them into a tasty dish in twenty minutes.  (That’s the typical amount of time for the entree round.)  This competition fascinates me.

Tonight I sort of had a Chopped moment.  This morning I remembered that I had a package of ground turkey in the fridge that I’d planned to make into meatballs for dinner.  I knew I had to stop at the supermarket on the way home from work to get milk, an onion, and a green pepper for the meatballs, plus a few other things.  I’m sure this would have been a perfectly tasty meal, but by the time I left the office, it all felt sort of boring.

I didn’t want to waste the turkey, however, so I tried to think of options.  Chili maybe?  Nah, that bored me too.  Then I thought about meatloaf.  Yes, meatloaf could practically pose as a synonym for dull and unexciting, but I wondered if I could jazz it up.  For some reason, my recently discovered love for sauteed baby spinach came to mind.  That might add something interesting flavor-wise to the meat mixture, I thought.  It would also help me incorporate more vegetable matter into my diet.

At Publix I picked up some organic baby spinach and an onion, but opted out of adding green pepper.  I got home, pre-heated the oven, and crushed some garlic into olive oil in the fry pan,  heating it up before adding the spinach.  While that cooked down, I opened the fridge to pull out the meat, an egg, and the milk.  That’s when I spotted the fresh chunky salsa.  Hmmm.  What would that do if I added it to the mixture?

About this time, I heard the voice of the Chopped host, Ted Allen, in my head intoning the instructions he gives to the contestants each week.  “Chefs, please open your baskets.  For your entrees, you must use . . . ground turkey. . . baby spinach . . . and salsa!  Your time starts now!”

I didn’t have the time pressure on me, but I dove into the preparation.  I sauteed the spinach as the aroma of garlic infused the air.  I broke the egg into a measuring cup and topped it off with some milk, then beat the two together before pouring it over the meat.  Breadcrumbs provided binder.  From the pantry cabinet, I randomly pulled out a variety of dried herbs.  When the spinach was finished, I chopped it with a mezaluna and stirred it into the meat mixture, then added a couple good scoops of the salsa.

A quick spritz of olive oil spray prepared the pan and I patted and fondled my creation into a rough loaf shape and slid it into the oven.   My dinner was officially cooking, but I had absolutely no idea how it would taste when finished.  I hoped that the spinach and salsa would give it flavor and also keep the mixture from being too dry, but who knew if I’d be successful?

An hour later, it was time to find out.  I let my loaf rest out of the oven for a few minutes.  (Let my loaf loaf?)  It looked okay, but the proof would be in the tasting.  Eagerly, I cut off a slice and took my first forkful.

YUM!  It was everything that I hoped for, and a little more.  Moist, tender, and with a melange of flavors that made my taste buds smile.  Or they would if taste buds had mouths and teeth and the ability to demonstrate facial expressions.  Pssshaw — a technicality.  The point is that my spontaneous creation was delicious.  I savored every bite and then happily wrapped up the rest for leftovers that I will enjoy again this weekend.

It’s really cool to realize that only being able to eat a little bit doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy cooking.   Experimenting isn’t ruled out.  In fact, I think I’m encouraged to try out new ideas more often.  With a little imagination, I came up with something that tasted good and was fairly healthy with reduced fat and calories, and nutritious veggies.  Who knows what I might come up with the next time that I improvise?

So go ahead and play with your food.  The results may surprise you!

 

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You Can’t Always Get What You Want . . .

Every time I considered a blog topic today, a song suggested itself as the title.  This could as easily have wound up being called “Dance Like Nobody’s Watching”.  I’ll touch on why before I finish tonight  For now, let’s go with the title and topic that won out.  I thought about changing it to, “You Can’t Always Eat What You Want”.  This is true, but to continue with the song, if you try sometimes you just might find, you’ll eat what you need.

That’s something I need to remember every day.  Yes, I have a drastically reduced stomach that only holds small amounts.  However, it’s still only a useful, effective tool for me to use in the overall effort.  I still need to focus on a particular food plan and absolutely hit the mark with my daily food choices.  Every meal requires sticking to the plan and not eating whatever just because my brain tells me that’s what I want at the moment.   My weight loss is progressing at a terrific, rapid rate.  I do better the closer I stay on track.  Even if I only eat two-three ounces of food, I won’t be successful if those ounces I consume are made of sugar and starch instead of protein and veggies.  Some days I would love to make a lunch out of a small fast-food burger and fries.  I want weight loss more than I want that particular food, so I ignore what I want and eat what I need.

I’m not perfect.  I don’t ask perfection of myself.  There are times when I need to go ahead and enjoy that small piece of chocolate, the single onion ring, or the couple of small bites of dessert.  When I do, it is vital that I understand that I’m making a conscious, rational choice instead of operating from a place of compulsion.

Driving home from work, I couldn’t stop thinking about fried foods and chocolate ice cream.  I was tempted to stop into a store and pick up some, just for tonight.  I talked myself out of it, reminding myself that I have weight loss goals.  Tomorrow morning is my weekly “official” weigh-in and I want the number to be as low as it can be this week.  Anyway, I continued my one-on-one chat with myself until I got home.  Inside the house I greeted my enthusiastic, welcoming dogs and let them out into the yard.  I quickly changed into a swimsuit, grabbed my towel and nano and stepped into the pool to exercise.  (More on that later.)  By the time I was done, the dogs and I were all ready for dinner.  I heated up the gnudi in tomato sauce and mixed a little homemade Caesar dressing into some organic romaine and enjoyed a small, tasty, planned-it-this-morning, meal.  Yum!  A short time ago, I ate my also expected dessert — a small cup of no sugar added cherry Italian ice.

Tonight, instead of sitting in regret for giving into the temptation of compulsively veering off my chosen plan, I feel really great.  I had an honest food day and I exercised.  On all counts, I gave myself exactly what I needed.  Turns out that’s what I secretly, or not so secretly perhaps, want.

Now to the exercise.  The pool was the perfect temperature this afternoon and the weather was gorgeous with a brilliant blue sky, bright sunshine and a slight breath of breeze.  I love all of the songs on my nano but I’ve not yet organized them into separate playlists.  I might have a couple of up tempo rock songs and then a country ballad followed by a classic oldie and a couple of danceable pop tunes.

I adapt my movement to whatever song is playing.  If it’s slower in tempo I do squats, lunges, a number of different leg lifts, and some arm motions under water.  I jog in place to the faster tunes but frequently break into different dance styles — twisting, doing the pony, shimmying a little here and there.  Josh Turner’s “Why Don’t We Just Dance” came on and I attempted to line dance in the water.  About that time I openly laughed at myself.  If anyone else could have seen my overall routine, they surely would have wondered what the hell I was doing.

I’ve done true water aerobics classes.  I know they’re planned to deliver aerobic benefits while working different muscle groups.  If I want to maximize the benefits of my exercise time in the water, I should build playlists with lots of up tempo music selections in a row for the cardio work and then go into songs for concentrated arm, torso and leg work.

I’ll get around to that eventually.   Right now, the most important thing to me is that I keep moving for a minimum of 40 minutes.  When the music is fast, I step up my jogging pace.  When I’m working my muscles on the slower songs, I incorporate resistance from the water so my body really has to work.  It might not be pretty.  I might look silly as all get out, but I don’t care.  When the timer goes off, my body really feels like it exercised.  That’s what matters most right now.

My lesson from today is two fold… Get what I need and dance like nobody’s watching.   These are two excellent reminders to keep me on the road to success.

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If Only . . .

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been overweight and heard, “You have such a pretty face.  If only you weren’t overweight.”

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of any statement that ended with, “…. if only you weren’t overweight.”

Raise both hands if the “if only” part was ever conveyed silently, with a rueful headshake and an implied “tsk tsk”.

I bet if I could see through the screen there would be a fair number of hands raised.

I’ve heard it or seen it implied numerous times over my life.  I cannot remember a time that it didn’t make me cringe and feel absolutely horrible about myself.  It must still bother me on some level or I wouldn’t blog about it now.  Honestly, I don’t know what triggered this topic.  I swear I haven’t heard this lately.  Maybe it’s just that I look at my changing self and have no concept of myself in terms of pretty or cute or attractive or . . . not.  I don’t have a frame of reference.  I simply do not know.

To be honest, if someone compliments me on facial beauty, deep in my heart  don’t believe them.  Even the most sincere person doesn’t penetrate the filter.  It’s like I’m always listening for, expecting, or automatically filling in the “if only”.

A few months ago, a man I know socially in town called me.  He learned from his wife and mutual friends that I’d had weight loss surgery and wanted to offer me support and encouragement.  “You’re in the club now,” he told me.  He had wls a few years ago and he had lots of great advice and suggestions.  He then said, “You were always pretty, but you’re going to be a knockout now.”

I was gracious and thanked him, but that didn’t stop the little voice inside that tells me, “Nope.  Don’t believe it.”

This isn’t a plea for those of you who know me or who have seen my photo to tell me I am.  It’s more of an exercise in embracing my features and body no matter where I am.   I’m really working hard on overcoming the “fat eyes” syndrome I wrote about a few months ago.   I don’t look at my face and think, “Smokin’ hot, baby.”  *snort*  As if I would.  Instead I study it and try to honestly note the progress.  Cheekbones are a little more evident and a jawline is beginning to emerge.  I’m not as puffy and I think I’ve lost at least one chin.   I look at my arms and legs and can see that the muscle definition shows now that more of the flab is gone.

I have more trouble seeing marked changes in my torso and butt.  Although there is less overall mass, they’re still so huge.  The photos help.  So do the smaller clothes.

In the long run, I don’t know whether it matters if I am pretty and can accept myself as such.  It does matter, however, that I recognize and truly accept the improvements in my body.  Skewed perception and fat eyes don’t do anything positive toward supporting my recovery.  Sooner or later, there isn’t going to be a need for anyone to add “if only you weren’t overweight” in thought or spoken sentence.   So, when someone offers a compliment akin to, “You have such a pretty face”, I’d like to be able to accept the words without flinching internally.  I’d like to believe them.

 

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Some Days are Diamonds, Others Dust

Today didn’t shine for me the way that my work days often do.  I’m in the enviable position of really loving my job, the organization that employs me, and the people with whom I work.  This does not mean that every single day is going to be magnificent.   Today turned out to be a “dust” day, even though it started out in good shape.

I discovered an error.  Although I didn’t make the initial error, it was connected to something that I was responsible for checking and I missed it, plain and simple.  Unfortunately, mistakes are rarely plain and simply in my world.  .   I  believe in owning my own shit and taking responsibility for screw ups.  Those are good practices.  So, today, I discovered the goof, researched the solution, found that it wouldn’t be too costly a mistake and admitted it to my bosses.   I am extremely hard on myself, often harder than anybody else is on me. True to form, they were accepted the error and the solution and brainstormed with me on how this might have happened and what we needed to do to prevent a repeat.  Then, in different words, they pretty much told me to unclench my stomach and not beat myself up about it.

A little later on a completely different subject, I misspoke a point, totally saying something that came out wrong which resulted in someone else taking something personally.  We immediately addressed it and when I apologized again, the other person said that it was okay, we’d worked through it and cleared it up.  Whew.

In between these issues, the phone simply didn’t let up with internal and external phone calls.  Some of these brought new, interesting, potentially great things into the mix; others ranged from annoying to downright wacky.  By  3 p.m. I wanted chocolate.  By the end of the day I was wiped.

In the interest of full disclosure, a buddy had a small peppermint patty.  I gave myself permission to have it and savored every bit of this small bite.  I did not go back for seconds or thirds or go hunt up other things to eat on top of the single tiny treat.

On the drive home, my spirit was blah and I really wanted to feel better.  I started to reflect that my old M.O. would be to bury the blues in binge foods like pizza and ice cream.  In the old days, those first bites always lifted the mood, but by the time I was done, I was just numb and not feeling anything — blah, better or otherwise.

My point, and I do have one, is that comforting or coddling myself with food is no longer an option but living a happier, healthier life does not guarantee that dust days won’t happen.  I worked it all out in my head before I got home.  I’d fixed what could be fixed and if that was good enough for everyone else, it damn well should be good enough for me.  I made a conscious decision to let go of the ick and embrace a positive action that didn’t include food and overeating.

I walked in the door and greeted my dogs, then quickly changed into a swimsuit.  I grabbed my iPod nano and opted for the pool.  (It’s the first evening in a week that isn’t completely stormy.  The sun was even partially out.)  Jogging and doing other exercises in the water while Springsteen rocks Thunder Road, Adele belts out Rolling in the Deep, and Dolly Parton chirrups an unlikely, bluegrassy, uptempo version of Time for Me to Fly,  is a great way to lift a bum mood.

After about 40 minutes, I fed the dogs, showered off, and then fed myself a small, simple, tasty meal.   I’m in a much, much better place this evening than I was a few hours ago and I did it all without plowing into vast quantities of food.

Today is shining up to be more like a diamond after all!

******** Edited to Add *********

All evening while I busied myself with a few projects, I continued to think about this day.  I finally decided that I didn’t make my point as solidly as I’d like.  For me a day like today brings forth a lot of lessons.  I know these things but often need reminding when I’m in the middle of things.  (This reminds me of an old saying that when you’re up to your ass in alligators, it’s tough to remember that your objective was to clean the swamp.)  Lesson one: Keep things in perspective.  I made a mistake.  This mistake did not result in the destruction of my company or trigger a war somewhere.  Lesson two: (I actually followed this one.)  If someone mistakes your meaning, correct the misinterpretation as soon as possible.  Lesson three:  Mistakes or misinterpretations — when you do what you can to fix things, remember the lesson and then Let. It. Go.  Lesson four: No matter what, eating over the difficulties is not an option.

That last bit is the big thing that I need to constantly reinforce in myself as I continue to recover.  Overeating was always a coping mechanism.  It wasn’t a healthy one, but it filled a need in its own dysfunctional way.   I need to be aware of when I’d like to reach for the old familiar method of coping and pick something else instead.  Today I swam and exercised instead.  Tomorrow, if circumstances warrant, I might use some other way or thing to cope.  Having several healthy coping options can only be good!

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Canary in the Coal Mine

I’m a little older than some of my friends.  I hit a few medical milestones ahead of them.  Lovely experiences, like having a colonoscopy when I turned 50.  One of my friends  commented to me about liking the fact that I went first so she could learn about when it was her turn.  I joked that I felt like a canary in the coal mine – going into these experiences first to sniff out potential problems and warn my friends what to expect when it was their time.

As you might have guessed by the way that I write about the surgery and everything connected to it, my recovery, my eating disorder, my history, etc., here on the blog, I’m pretty comfortable talking about this stuff.  Honestly, doing the blog has helped with that comfort level.  I don’t mind being open and if a conversation goes overly long or heads into an area that I feel is a little too intrusive, I’m also comfortable saying so and changing the subject.

Since the operation, I’ve had a few people, including friends ask me for personal reasons about the surgery and life since.  They are also obese and are thinking of having surgery themselves, or someone they care about is obese.  I’m glad that they feel comfortable asking me about my experience.

Taking this action can be a big, scary, thing.   I was afraid for years and strongly resisted.   When I had my epiphany a year ago and decided that I needed to now pursue the surgery to rescue my life, I wish I’d had a few people I knew that I could talk with and ask questions of to help me in those early days.   Instead I dove into research the best way that I knew — the Internet.  There was a lot of confusing information but I soon lucked out and hit ObesityHelp.com and its forums.  Those forums were populated by people who had either had surgery or were in the process.  I soon learned that there wasn’t a single question I could think of that someone couldn’t answer — either from the benefit of their own experience of because they knew a great resource for the information.

I wish I’d had a few personal canaries to talk with about weight loss surgery, but at least I had the forum folks.  By sharing their stories, they taught me about a lot of things I needed to know before, during and after.   I’m still learning.  It reminds me a lot of OA where I sat in rooms as a complete, confused newby and gratefully listened.

Pink Pelican is a regular commentor at this blog.  She had weight loss surgery about six months before me.  I learn a lot from the things she says in her comments.  She might be pink and a pelican, but for me she’s become a bit of a canary, too.  I appreciate her knowledge a great deal.

I’m sort of in a reflective mood thinking about all of this tonight. I know without a doubt that being a canary for others is a good thing — for me and, hopefully, for them.   I’d just like to say if there are some of you out there who have questions, go ahead and ask.  If you aren’t comfortable doing so in the comments, send me an email:  mary @ mary-stella.com.

Everyone, please keep singing with me.

 

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A Shame Relapse and Rallying Cry

Yesterday I went to a Celebration of Life for my boss’s husband who recently passed away.  I’d just had my hair colored, cut and styled.  I slipped into a cute dress and did my makeup.  I felt really good and pretty when I looked into the mirror.  At the C of L, I saw several people that I don’t see all of the time so my weight loss was really noticeable.  It felt good to receive their compliments.

This morning I woke up, weighed myself and smiled at the number.  I’ve lost 91 pounds in shortly over five months.  First I was so happy, and then an evil little weed of a negative thought sprouted in my head.  It said to me, “Yeah, you’ve lost 91 pounds and that’s great, but now people are going to look at you and think, ’91 pounds and she’s still so fat?  Geezus, she was a pig.’”  Immediately, I relapsed into shame.

That is an ugly, horrible thing for me to have thought about myself.  I know this but right now I’m struggling to banish the shame.  It is  stinking thinking that achieves nothing positive or helpful.  If I let this weed take root and flourish, it will undermine my emotional recovery and that will jeopardize my physical recovery.   I have a long, long way to go on this journey and the amount of weight I lose is only going to grow.  It will not be healthy for me to foster an environment where the shame continues to grow and I start to hang my head.   I refuse to permit this, but even as I write my heart is beating faster and my stomach wants to curdle around my breakfast.

I came here to write a blog post as a proactive strike, to process the feelings instead of giving into the negativity.  I’m fighting back against the shame.  I do not deserve to feel bad about myself.  Yes, in the throes of my unchecked compulsive overeating/binge eating disorder, I grew to super obese and 386 pounds.  However, and this is the rallying point, I stopped myself and took action by having the weight loss surgery.  I will not let anything or anybody make me feel anything less than joy in what I’ve accomplished and the good that I am doing for myself.  The positive choices that I make every day create a fertile, rich environment on which I am growing a new, healthier, more active, amazing life.

Okay.  My heart rate is calming down somewhat and my stomach is relaxing.  If anyone wants to know why I write this blog, here’s one great reason.  It helps me work through these things and circumstances without using food.  Trust me.  In the past, an event like this would have shot me like a cannonball into overeating.

Today I choose to stick to my food plan.  I’m going to get into the shower, put on cute clothes that fit my improving body, and go out to spend time with friends.  I’m plucking out that weed and grinding it under my heel.  Shame can kiss my smaller ass.

Thanks for being here and listening to my temporary freak out.  :-)

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Tai Chi

Before I get to my topic, I want to do a shout out to a very dear, long time friend with whom I’ve recently reconnected.  *waving toward Oklahoma!*  She’s about to embark on her own journey toward weight loss surgery.  We spent a long time in a great “catch-up” phone call.  I’m still smiling.  It’s been too long!  You’re going to do great, girlfriend!

On to the blog post.

This morning I had Tai Chi class.  I’ve now been going since February.  Except for the times when I’ve been away, I’ve been a faithful student, making classes twice a week.  We’ve completed the beginning course where we learn the “set” with 108 moves in sequence.  Some of the moves are repeated throughout the set, but it’s still going to be a while before I can do the entire set on my own and not lose track.  Thankfully we have an instructor and, usually, a more experienced student to follow along with so we don’t get lost.

For those not familiar with Tai Chi, it’s a “soft” martial art.  You’ve probably seen television ads that show groups of mostly older people doing graceful movements in synchrony.  That’s Tai Chi.  There are several different styles, but many of the basics are the same.  It’s good for improving balance, flexibility, mobility and leg strength.  I find that it also reduces stress and improves breathing.

This is the second time I’ve studied Tai Chi.  I first got into it back in 1995 or 1996, studying a different form.  I was diligent for about five years and then fell away when I moved down to Florida.  I do better with some class structure and then bridge that back to practicing the art at home.

I’d seen it advertised here in the Florida Keys some years ago but the classes were about an hour from my home, so I never enrolled.  This winter, I saw that the same society was holding an open house and classes closer to where I live.  I’d only recently had the weight loss surgery so I missed the open house, but a friend posted on Facebook that she’d signed up.  I asked her to find out if they would let me start a few classes late.  They would, so I started going a couple of weeks later.

For someone who has been largely sedentary and out of shape, Tai Chi is a great way to start moving again.  The movements are done fairly slowly with low impact and your ability increases over time with practice.   It isn’t a race, that’s for certain, and nobody expects perfection.  The prevailing attitude in Tai Chi is that you might learn the set in a few months, but you spend a lifetime refining the moves.

Even when I first studied many years ago, I wasn’t in great shape.  I wasn’t at my top weight, but I was still really heavy, but I could still do the moves.  Same thing this go-round but with every week that passes I see improvement.  I don’t need to take frequent breaks.  My leg strength is increasing which makes the weight shifts or empty steps easier to accomplish.  I can stretch more and do certain turns or kicks with greater flexibility and balance.

At the end of the hour long class, my body feels relaxed and loose.  My brain is in a nice relaxed state too.  There’s a reason this is often referred to as meditation in motion.  It’s very difficult for your thoughts to race around when you’re focused on doing the set.  The internal energy — the chi — flowing through me  just makes me feel terrific all over.

I first heard of Tai Chi so many years ago that I can’t remember the year, but it was in a book by Sidney Sheldon.  I’ll have to research the title, but the main female character was wrongly imprisoned.  To save her sanity and work her body while she’s in a small cell, she continues to practice her Tai Chi.  The moves have beautiful and interesting names.  I think the names caught my imagination in the beginning.  White Stork Spreads Wings.  Carry Tiger to the Mountain.  Grasp Bird’s Tail.  Go Back to Ward Off Monkeys.   Fair Lady Works Shuttles.

Honestly, aren’t they great and descriptive?  Now picture yourself gracefully moving through those beautiful moves with intention in every gesture and step.  It’s a powerful exercise all flowing from within.

When you’re as out of shape as I was before renewing my studies, being able to do any part of Tai Chi is greatly encouraging in and of itself.  Over the weeks, feeling myself improve and my body respond with more energy and greater ease of movement, generates even more positive reactions.

Being so overweight for so long, I’d lost connection with my own physical ability.  Most of the time I felt awkward and clumsy.  Now, thanks to Tai Chi, I feel much more graceful and stronger.   There’s an authentic feeling of power and that just makes me feel that much more terrific.

This time I’m determined to continue as a practitioner of Tai Chi.  I’m reaping the benefits of the art and these are making a wonderful, positive difference in my life.

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Packing Lunch

Sometimes I just cruise along on my day to day journey and all of my food choices are simple and pretty matter-of-fact.  Then I hit a day like today when something makes me stop short, something that causes me to really marvel at the big and small changes in my life.

I had that kind of moment this morning when I was packing food to take to work.  I’m still focusing on protein and also need to plan my eating around multiple small meals.  First thing into the bag — a single cheese stick for the mid-morning snack.  I made French Onion soup a few nights ago, without the melted slab of cheese on top and still had about 3/4 of a cup of it waiting for me in the fridge at work. To go with that for the noon meal, I brought some leftover hummus and a few baby carrots.  I like to eat again around 3.  Strawberries are in season and they are absolutely gorgeous.  I sliced up two juicy organic berries into a container and added a few spoons of low fat French Vanilla yogurt.  Perfect.

I zipped up my lunch bag and that’s when the moment hit me.  My food plan was built around small servings of a variety of yummy foods that are fairly healthy for me.  This alone isn’t entirely new.  During the periods when I dieted relatively successfully, I’d pack similiar foods. Most of the time I resented the hell out of this being necessary.

Now I cheerfully consume a LOT less and make healthier choices.  With pleasure.

This is a huge difference from the days when I chowed down on a foot long sub with a side of chips, 12 ounce bottle of soda and some cookies for dessert.

I will freely admit that I’m not always cheerful.  Sometimes I still wistfully wish for some greasy entree with a side of fries, but most of the time, I’m quite happy with what I pack for lunch.  I don’t need food in the same way that I thought I did.  Eating right for this stage of my recovery satisfies me and the results sure are tasty too.

Throughout the day my mind kept returning to the differences between now and before.  I got distracted mid-day when friends arrived for the afternoon.  So distracted, in fact, that I never got back up to the office for that 3 p.m. snack.  This is not good.  I don’t normally feel hunger, except when I miss eating something every couple of hours.  By 5 p.m., I definitely had pangs, but thankfully my friends were hungry too so we stopped into the restaurant next door.

Fridays happen to be their “Big Ass Prime Rib” night.  I love prime rib and decided to order it, sticking with the slightly less big ass “Lady” portion of a 12 oz slab of meat.  Steamed veggies and a baked potato on the side.  Can I just tell you that it is a remarkable thing for me to look at what passes for a “normal” plate of food and know that it will provide three to four meals for me.  A couple of pieces cut from the meat, followed by a few forks of veggies and a couple of bites of potato and I was finished.  When everyone else was done, the waitress came to clear our plates.  She looked at mine and her face fell.  Clearly she was concerned that something had been horribly wrong with my meal.  I reassured her that every single bite was delicious and that I’d enjoy everything a few more times.  I left with most of the dinner packed in a to-go box.

It’s now about 10 p.m.  Prior to weight loss surgery, around this time I would dig into a sizeable bowl of premium (premium = higher fat content) ice cream.  Right now, I think I’m going to finish this blog post and dig out that container of yogurt and fresh strawberries that I didn’t eat earlier.  A couple of bites ought to put a really fine end on a good food day.

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NSV and Some Random Observations

I experienced a big (for me) Non Scale Victory (NSV) today.  Here comes another one of those confessions that I’ve never shared with anyone before.  :-)  Ten years ago when I started working for my current employer, I was issued a foul-weather jacket.  My boss had ordered it in a larger size, which was great.  Unfortunately, I was still larger.  Although I could put it on, I was never able to make the sides meet in the middle so that I could zip it up.  I never said anything, nor did I ask if I could exchange it for a larger size.  I was too embarrassed.

Today, for the first time in over ten years, I put on the jacket and zipped it up.  It fits!  I was so proud and happy over this one small thing, that I had to wear the jacket to visit a couple of friends and share the news.  I must have seemed like a little kid who received a particularly joyful gift.  Overall it was a great feeling and I still smile tonight when I think about it.

I had to lift and carry some moderately heavy boxes today and yesterday.  While I was toting one, I noticed that I can actually see a somewhat defined bicep muscle in my upper arm.  Granted, I have some batwings of flab underneath but, hot damn, I’m showing some muscles.  Same thing with my calves.  Honestly, the muscles have been there all along.  I’ve been physically strong for yeras.  Many people don’t think about it, but we who are overweight have to be strong just to get around.  Carrying all of those excess pounds builds muscles beneath the fat.

I didn’t feel that strong before, weighted down so much.  Now, with over 90 of those excess pounds gone (Bye, bye and good riddance!), I feel downright powerful.  Booyah!

When I lie down and the remaining fat redistributes, if I press in certain places, I can actually feel my ribcage.  It will be several more months before I can feel those ribs consistently without the fat redistribution, but locating them now with my fingertips reminds me of the improvements still to come.  That’s just glorious, as far as I’m concerned.

I know that even when I’ve lost all of the weight that I want to and achieve the as-yet-decided goal, there will be some things with which I’ll need help.  Even as I increase my exercise, I know that all of the workouts in the world won’t remove all of the flab.  My skin isn’t sagging yet, but it will before I’m done losing weight.  I’m okay with that and absolutely plan to have cosmetic procedures to surgically take away what can be healthily removed.  Although I have significantly less pain in my right knee and more mobility, I’m not confident that I’ll be able to restore it to 100% shape.  I can’t say at this time whether knee replacement is in my future.  I’ll have to see how far I can improve that joint, or how much I can assist it by building up its surrounding muscles.  If it doesn’t measure up all the way to my left knee but doesn’t hamper me or cause me constant pain, I’m sure I’ll be okay without surgery.

A year ago I was bemoaning my condition and living overwhelmed by the knowledge that I was steadily and surely disabling myself with my super obesity.  Today I’m celebrating positive changes and looking forward to continued efforts to lose weight, grow stronger and improve my body.

One day at a time I’m renovating myself with wonderful results.

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Self-Imaginings

I’m not 100% sure where I want to go with this topic, so if I ramble around a little, please forgive.  My thought process isn’t always linear.

Over on the Reinventing Fabulous blog, Krissie was imagining people as flowers and thought I’d be a sunflower.  The image has me smiling.  Earlier today I was musing over self-acceptance and how much improvement I’ve already seen in myself in this area.  I don’t mean the improvements in my physical shape although, for sure, that’s happened!  I also see that I’m much more accepting of myself than I used to be and I’m learning to be kinder to myself in my thoughts and opinions.

Being lighter in body is one thing.  Lighter in spirit is an added, wonderful benefit.

When I was a kid, my friends and I used to play act.  We’d take roles in our favorite television shows when we played after school, inventing grand adventures and being heroines.  We were brave, strong, resourceful — all of which are qualities that I wanted to have when I grew up.  There have been times in my life when I believed that I have those traits.  There have also been many more times when I didn’t think that I measured up the way I’d always imagined, and hoped, that I would.

The times when I was positive or negative on my own scale of self-acceptance largely correlated with where my weight hit on the scale.  Back in the 90s, I started learning how to build and maintain my own confidence and strength, regardless of what I weighed.  I was able to separate the issues so that my sense of self-worth was not tied to how things were going with food, diets, or excess pounds.  That was a gift beyond measure and developing it got me through some really painful events.  I believe it’s also the reason that I’ve held my dream job for over 10 years and grown in the position, taking on tasks and aspects that I would never have imagined myself doing when I was drowning at the bottom of my emotional barrel.

Lately, I’ve been going back to my early habits of imagining myself in a different role.  for the first time in many years, I’ve begun to really picture myself as a woman who is a healthy weight.  For the record, I have absolutely no idea what I will come to believe is a healthy weight.  People sometimes ask me about a goal but there’s no number in my head.  I think I’ll know it when I get there; when I see it for myself and in my image in the mirror.  Please remember that I haven’t been at a healthy weight in decades, so it’s understandable that I haven’t figured it out yet.  However, with every day of improved mobility, better fitting clothes in smaller sizes, easier breathing, and increased energy, I believe more strongly that I am definitely going to get there.  I can picture it in my mind, shape-wise, even if I don’t know the number of pounds.

This is a good exercise for me, to imagine myself thinner and healthier.  It isn’t an unattainable yearning.  These are very real, very healthy self-imaginings.

A famous Mahatma Ghandi quote says, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”  I realize that I must embrace, and imagine, the change I wish to see in myself.

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