Weighty Matters

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Feeling Good, if Lazy

I’ve treated myself to an easy, lazy, Sunday. It’s not that I’m sacked out on the couch doing nothing, but I didn’t pack a 100 things into the day either. I slept until 8 a.m. and then spent a leisurely morning with breakfast, the newspaper, and some morning news shows. I’ve been fascinated about coverage of the various Women’s Marches across the country and around the world.

I helped my elderly neighbor with a problem on her cell phone and then invested time in taking care of myself and my recovery. This means that I really thought about the week ahead and my food needs so that I could think about meals and make that important shopping list. These steps are critical to me maintaining a successful effort and sustaining abstinence from compulsive eating and counter-productive food choices.  I also realize that following this process alleviates stress. When I make the plans ahead of time, I then don’t spend a lot of additional time thinking about food, wondering what to eat and when and fussing about the choices. I definitely notice a difference in my attitude and emotions. I’m much more relaxed.

I got everything I needed from the supermarket. With that chore out the way, I did some Tai Chi, and am now sort of chilling before doing another chore or two. I’m soon going to start a bathroom remodeling project, so it would be good to start storing some extra towels and things to clear out the room that’s going to be torn apart. Eventually I’ll also do laundry.

There’s a lot of benefit to a day that isn’t overscheduled. There’s time to get things done and time to relax too. We all need that some days. I hope you’re having one too.

 

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Marching, Activism, and Feeling the Burn

My day started with Tai Chi class. When we did a full set at the end of class, I felt so balanced and stable, even when balancing on my right knee. Over the last two years, that knee’s condition has worsened. It isn’t as strong and it is less stable, which really contributes to my decision to get it replaced in March. I can’t wait to get it done, complete my rehabilitation and move forward with greater strength and a lot less pain.

After class, I went to Key West with a couple of co-workers/friends to join the Woman’s March. Yes, even here in the laid back Florida Keys, we wanted to rally and have our voices heard.  I’m not going to get all political; that’s not the purpose of the blog. Plus, frankly, I’m tired of talking about it, or hearing about it, all of the time.

All I will say was that the rally was peaceful and uplifting. It was a true boost to the spirit. We walked up Duval Street, pretty  much Key West’s best known street, from on end to the other, carrying signs, waving at people, and occasionally chanting positive messages. There’s been an overload of negativity lately, so being part of this experience was simply an amazing antidote.

I was a little young to be truly active in the peace and anti-war rallies of the 60s. I remember marching and shouting against the Vietnam War in some little protest once in our home area but it was seriously a small affair.  Another time, when my friends and I were around 11 or 12 we picketed City Hall over a proposed ordinance to stop letting dogs go on the beach in the off season. We walked around with signs and dogs, including a small one in a wagon filled with sand.  My family’s dogs were at my grandparents, so I actually borrowed my next-door-neighbors’ dog. I’m not sure if we actually influenced the city government to not pass that ordinance, but I’m sure we entertained the City employees and the local police with our earnestness and signs. Someone called and told my parents. (We had not pre-informed our folks of our intentions.) Dad could barely keep a straight face when he asked me about it that night. Great memory!

I can tell you that civil marches and activism were easier on my body back then. Duval Street is about a mile and a quarter in length, plus we logged additional distance going from a parking lot to the starting point, then stood for an hour before the march began. Duval Street isn’t that wide and there were a lot of participants so we filled the street. (Hoping to get a credible estimate of the number of marchers. Edited to add: Event organizers say we were 3200 strong. That’s a big number for a relatively small town!) The pace was leisurely, but Woman’s Stroll just doesn’t have the same impact as March. Still, it’s a good indication of how bad my knee has gotten that the pace and distance really affected me. By the time we finished, I was feeling the burn as my knee throbbed and felt swollen. I was more than happy when my friends suggested we catch a cab back to the car rather than log another mile on our feet.

We went out for an early dinner after the event and then came home. As soon as I entered the house, I apologized to Nat because there was no way I was taking him out for a walk. He was happy to go out in the yard as long as I served him his dinner right after. After mixing up his bowl, I quickly swallowed two OTC pain relievers , grabbed an ice pack and sat on the couch with my leg elevated. It feels much better than it did a few hours ago, and the residual throbbing will pass.

After so many years of sedentary life pre-weight loss surgery, and then the last five years of becoming more fit and enjoying so many physical activities, I don’t like these reminders that I am hampered in any way. I think the thought of my knee getting worse and worse – to the point where I’d have to start giving up more activities, is what really pushed me over the edge to making the surgery decision. I don’t ever want to get to the point where I start to think, “No, I can’t do that.” Now and forever when something comes up that I want to participate in, I always want my answer to be, “Yes I can!”

 

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Hydration Determination

We’ve all heard it: Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day. For most weight loss surgery (WLS) patients, the daily water intake recommendation is between 64 and 100 ounces a day. However, there are also other challenges, such as not drinking water with meals or, in some cases, not closer than 30 minutes before a meal. After a meal, good luck if you can get any water into the restricted stomach space.

I like water, but it has always been a challenge for me to get in the recommended amounts on a daily basis. The women who run the group I’m connected to post weekly challenges for us. Last week, the challenge was achieving adequate hydration every day.  For many days I improved my water intake but didn’t reach the goal I’d set for myself – 80 ounces minimum a day. I do better on days that include a rowing workout because I’ll go through 20 ounces during the workout or immediately after.

A book of daily writings for WLS peeps offered some suggestions a few days ago. The book suggested creating strategies for how I could improve my water intake. Oh, before I forget, most doctors that I’ve heard of count water or decaffeinated tea without anything added. Anything else doesn’t count to the total goal. A few other doctors apparently count any fluid.

Anyway, after reading that entry, I thought and thought about what worked for me and what might work even more effectively. I knew if I kept a glass filled with water on my desk, I was more likely to regularly sip on it while working. So, I decided that having a larger glass might naturally lead to me drinking more, plus I’d have to make fewer trips to refill.

A few days ago when shopping at the supermarket, I passed the small section of refillable water bottles and glasses. I spotted the perfect new plastic glass.  It holds 32 ounces, has a handle and a lid for a tight seal (a necessity in an office environment that includes curious cats), plus a reuseable, washable straw.  I laughed when I saw that it was appropriately called The Bubba. I grabbed that glass and added it to my cart in a heartbeat.

Let me tell you that The Bubba has become my best tool in my determined effort to achieve proper hydration.  With its help, I’ve absorbed between 92 and 100 ounces of water each day for the last two days.

I truly have noticed that all of this hydration brings benefits. It makes my muscles feel good, particularly when I’ve done intense workouts. It flushes out my system which is an asset when working on losing weight. I also see and feel less puffiness in my joints.  I also don’t experience the 3 p.m. sleepiness that happens your brain isn’t hydrated enough.

Being a WLS patient is a lot of work with many different things to remember. Setting myself up for success with planning and The Bubba makes it a little simpler as I strive to reach my daily hydration goals.

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Creating with Cauliflower

The food plan that I’m following these days is high on protein and low on carbohydrates. Even in the low carbohydrates, I’m mostly abstaining from eating flour-based products, potatoes, rice and refined sugar products. I still eat fruit but not more than once a day and not every day at that. For variety, I sometimes get protein in beans and legumes.  I have goals for myself each day in terms of total calories, number of grams of protein, number of grams of carbs. Mostly, however, you can sum up my food emphasis on P & P – protein and produce.

P & P keeps it relatively simple, but it doesn’t have to be boring or flavorless. Was I trying Plated.com back in June before I went on my blogging hiatus? If not, we’ll save that for another blog post, but if you haven’t heard of Plated.com, it’s one of the services that sends you all of the ingredients and recipes/instructions on making the meal. I don’t use it every week, but it’s a great time saver. It has also taught me to try new things, cook meals I’ve never tried before, and taste new flavor combinations.

Over the last five years I tried to cultivate an attitude of “Sure I’ll try it” when it comes to healthier alternatives in meals. Well, and healthier choices overall.  In the course of this endeavor I have become a huge fan of the humble cauliflower. In the past, the only way I wanted to eat cauliflower, and that “wanted” was a stretch, was if it was steamed and then covered with cheese sauce. I thought it a boring vegetable without much flavor. To some extent that “not much flavor” part is true, but cauliflower turns out to be a great foundation for a lot of dishes that rock their yumminess.

First I started with a basic mashed cauli – something I’d first seen friends do on the South Beach Diet. Steam the veggie and, after it was cooked and drained, mash or puree it with some butter or olive oil and season it. It really did turn out to be a great substitute for mashed potatoes. I got into roasting veggies of all kinds, and cauli was an excellent edition with some olive oil and fresh herbs drizzled on it.

A few months ago, I was craving baked macaroni and cheese.  I decided to see if I could make a version using cauliflower instead of macaroni.  I’m here to tell you that I succeeded with tasty results. If you try it, just make sure to drain the cauliflower really really well before adding it to the cheesy sauce mixture and baking it.

Tonight I tried something I’ve wanted to try for a long time. I’ve been hearing a lot about cauliflower “rice”. This is really just cauliflower pulsed in a food processor until it’s turned into rice-sized pieces. I love risotto. It is one of my favorite side dishes and, with very little urging, I could make a meal out of it with no other accompaniment.  I actually did that once in, of all places, Venice, Italy. I was there as part of a tour. At one of the dinners arranged for us, the appetizer was octopus and the entree was liver with risotto on the side. I don’t eat things that swim and the very thought of liver makes my stomach curdle. So, I ate a double-serving of risotto and was perfectly happy.

Some years ago, I think it was pre-WLS, I took a cooking class and learned how to make risotto myself and I’ve refined my dish by picking up tips from cooking shows.

Sadly, it’s a dish that I’ve denied myself in the last five years, except for a few extremely rare times. Given my love of this particular food, you can see why the prospect of being able to substitute a vegetable for the starchy rise would appeal to me.  My supermarket only recently started carrying cauliflower rice. I could have made it myself, of course, but spotting the package with everything already shredded gave me extra motivation and I grabbed a bag.

Traditional risotto takes a good 45 minutes to cook as you slowly add liquid in thirds and stir until each addition is absorbed. I wasn’t sure exactly how to cook the dish with cauliflower so I did the best thing I could think of – I Googled for some recipes.

I am here to tell you that the resulting dish was absolutely delicious! Seriously delish, like I would serve it to guests. I input the ingredients into my food tracking app and was pleasantly surprised that even with some cream, cheese, pancetta and peas, the nutrient counts for protein and carbs are completely workable. I had no trouble eating a serving tonight and knowing that it was inline with my daily nutrition goals. Put another star in the cauliflower column for versatility and taste.

While I won’t make risotto all of the time, it’s helpful to know that I can choose a healthier, more veggie-based version of a dish that I love and enjoy eating. Like everything else on my daily food plan, it’s important me to incorporate this in balance with other things, but it’s completely doable. If you need to get more vegetables into your daily menus, I highly recommend you experiment with getting creative with cauliflower!

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Surgery Preparations

After five years, I’d sort of forgotten how much preparation work is necessary before surgery. Granted, I had to do more things before having weight loss surgery than I do for the knee replacement, but there are still several tests I need to have done. I also have to schedule a pre-surgery registration appointment and a rehabilitation orientation. I’ve already had the CT scan that the surgeon needed so that my custom knee implant can be built.

The surgeon’s office issued detailed instructions, including the phone numbers I needed to call. I’m pretty impressed by their operation, although there are a couple of flaws.  The instructions tell me that their office recommends that I have the pre-surgery tests done five to six weeks ahead of the operation and that they need to have the results in their hands a week prior.  That sounds cut and dried, right? Well, almost. A few sentences down from that recommendation is the information that the lab tests are only good for 30 days.I think they need to double-check their own math because five to six weeks = 35-42 days.

I called my primary care physician to schedule the appointment for my labs. The scheduler suggested two weeks before my surgery for the tests and then 10 days before for my appointment with the doctor to get the medical clearance. Worried that we might be cutting it close on that “surgeon wants the results and the clearance letter a week prior”, I made the scheduler confirm twice that everything would be done and reports received on time.

The other two appointments – pre-surgery registration and rehab orientation – have to be done in Miami where I’m having the operation. Thankfully, I was able to schedule these for the same day so that I don’t have to take two days off from work to drive up, have an appointment, and drive home.

Do I sound like I’m whining? I don’t mean to. Honestly, I completely understand why all of the lab tests are necessary. It would be a very bad thing to be harboring an infection or some other medical condition I didn’t know about when I go into the hospital to have my knee opened up.

This is more my “bottom liner, get things done” tendency. I resisted the very idea of having the surgery for so long, but now that I’m committed, I want to have every last thing scheduled, organized and in place. Not only is this necessary to make sure things stay on track, but it will actually reduce the potential for stress as the surgery date approaches.

 

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Hello, It’s Me

I can’t believe that I have gone seven months and not blogged. I am so sorry.  As I look at comments, I am deeply appreciative that you checked up on me. Again, I’m sorry.

I really didn’t mean to be gone so long. I thought it would be a short break and then I’d think about blogging and not feel like I had anything of any interest to say. Other times, I’d think that I really should check in because I missed all of you, but I’d feel overwhelmed or overtired from the day and think, “Tomorrow.”  Lots of tomorrows followed one right after the other.

Looking back, I’ve had a lot of days when I felt all of those things and more – that I had nothing of interest to say, that I was overwhelmed, that I was exhausted. It’s been crazy for me at work and for most of the last seven months I’ve been a department of one doing all of the responsibilities that are normally handled by me and another person. No surprise that by the time I finished in the evenings, I couldn’t muster the energy to write. To be honest, I had a lot of nights where I’d fall asleep on the couch, right in the middle of a television show I wanted to watch.

Honestly, I think the thing that really held me back was not knowing what to blog about. Frankly, I was in a really bad place with my food and eating, and I was constantly struggling with my eating disorder.  Emotionally, I was on a roller coaster. Physically, I felt like crap as I kept putting on weight, losing it, then putting it back with a little extra.  I guess I thought that all of my blog posts would be bummers.

Not that all of the last seven months have been horrid. No, far from it. I took an awesome trip to Brazil and the Amazon forests in August. I’ve continued to work on my workouts and Tai Chi. I’ve had some fun times with friends and family.

Still, I let so much of my emotional state get wrapped up in my eating disorder or success at dealing with it and all that stuff.

Here’s the bottom line, I regained 50 pounds of the 182 I initially lost. I don’t know if I ever typed that reality before. I kept trying different things and approaches but my disease keep getting the better of me. I started to get really frightened that I wouldn’t be able to stop and I would become one of the bariatric surgery patients who ended up regaining every pound. Did I say frightened? Hell, I was terrified!

Fortunately, right when I needed it, I got an email from a company of two women who have created a business offers programs and support to people who have had weight loss surgery. (Both principals have lap bands.) I checked out their website and an upcoming six week web-based class designed to help people get back on track. I signed up and it really helped me settle my head and emotions.  From that, I joined their year-long online group that does a weekly weigh-in but encourages lots of sharing and posting via a closed Facebook group.  The women also create weekly challenges and suggestions.

Just in a couple of weeks (that group started January 3rd), I’ve begun to settle even more and, more importantly to me, I have learned a lot. The key learning is how much I don’t know about long term strategies and suggestions for weight loss surgery patients. I am now getting some concrete, workable suggestions on how many grams of protein to aim for a day, what range to keep my daily carbs in, how much water I should drink, etc.

There are other practical tools on exchanging habits, goal-setting, fitness, and the like.  All of these things have been huge gifts and just what I needed to hear, learn and implement in my life.  I now am no longer backsliding and terrified that I will regain all of my weight. I am confident in my ability to stay emotionally even, eat healthy, stay on plan, and lose weight. I’m staying consistent with my fitness goals too.

All of these things would be important overall in my life. They are particularly and acutely important right now. One of the other aspects of my life that I’ve had to face is that the condition of my right knee has deteriorated from two years ago. I have more pain, less strength and less stability and it is affecting my life much more than it used to.

I had been fighting the inevitable. The only way to improve my condition is to have knee replacement surgery. I resisted this solution like the most obdurate woman alive. It took some gentle questions from my brother for me to dig into the why of my resistance. It came down to the fact that there will be a period of about four weeks when I will be unable to drive. I hated the thought of losing my independence for so long.

It took awhile, but I’ve resolved the resistance.  I consulted a really good orthopedic surgeon, scheduled a surgery date (March 15th) and have everything in motion to get this done. The sooner I have the operation, the sooner I can rehab and recover.

The surgery date is also extra motivating for me to focus on my food plan. I intend to lose as much weight as possible before my operation while I continue with my fitness commitment. These steps will aid my recovery process.

So, this pretty much summarizes where I’ve been, where I am today, and what I’m looking ahead to in the near future. Another goal is to once more return to blogging here. Hopefully, I won’t bore you while I’m working through the process.

How are all of you?

 

 

 

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Portion Awareness

One of the biggest challenges for me is assessing how much food to put on my plate.  We never really had the “clean plate club” or the “eat everything because children are starving in Europe” mentality at home when we were growing up.  However, we were eaters; if there was food in front of us, we ate it.

Combine that with the binge eating and compulsive eating disorder and I have a lifetime of not being able to clearly estimate portions.  I’m not good at knowing up front what amount is the right one for me when I’m serving myself and putting together a meal.

Pre-surgery, I could eat and eat and eat massive quantities – enough for two plus people.  It took a lot for me to reach the uncomfortable point.

My restricted stomach prevents me from binge eating, obviously.  I can no longer consume large volumes of food.  However, I’m still not always the best judge of what is enough or, more importantly, when my real hunger is satisfied.  Sometimes I’m one bite more than full and then completely uncomfortable.

I am actively working on improving my portion awareness.  There’s a disconnect between what my eyes and mind agree is an adequate amount and what is the reality for my stomach and nutrition.

It would seem that the obvious solution would be to weigh and measure everything.  I’ve discussed before how much I hate doing those things.  I want to learn to eyeball the portions first, then develop better mindfulness while I’m eating.  Ideally, I will develop my portion awareness to the point where I take just enough.  However, if I put more on my plate at the outset, but then reach satiety and have had enough, I want to stop eating – even if food remains on my plate.  There is no law, written or unwritten, that says every single bite must be consumed.

Some of the challenge remains mental.  I see smaller portions and think they will never be enough.  This is a holdover from the days when I was wildly out of control with my eating and, certainly, from before weight loss surgery.  Make no mistake; my portions these days are already definitely smaller than I used to eat, but I think I still start out with more than I need.

I believe the plan that I’m on helps with this balancing act.  The whole fat versions of dressings, sauces, etc., create a good mouth feel and increase satiety.  I’ve had the physical experience of this, but still fight the mental images and the familiar “It won’t be enough; it’s never enough” refrain that still runs through my brain far too often.

Those are the times when I need to remind myself to just do it; to try a little harder; to go with less and see how I feel.  Again, this effort presents more evidence that this is a process, not an event.  It’s a journey.

What a trip.

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Slicing, Dicing, Cutting Back and Keeping Fit

Silly title for a post, I know, and I’ll do my best to make it all relevant to the content.

I had an excellent time away last weekend at my Tai Chi Sabre workshop.  After doing the regular set for more than four years and feeling at least somewhat competent and balanced, it was interesting to return to being a complete newbie with the Sabre Set.  As I joked to a friend, when I started Tai Chi before, I felt awkward.  This time I felt awkward but I was armed.

Did you play sports or do any activity where you had to have a special outfit or equipment?  I remember when my Dad took me to a sporting goods department to help me pick out my first, very own glove for playing softball.  I felt so special in that moment.  Same thing when I got my first two wheel bike, or, later, my own purple bowling ball.  These things were rights of passage in a way and signified our full participation in whatever activity we were involved.

A friend pre-ordered our sabres for the workshop.  When I picked her up and she brought them to the car, I almost said, “Ooooh.  It’s so pretty.”  Honestly, it’s a nice wooden sabre made from red oak, so there is a prettiness aspect to it if you like and appreciate different kinds of wood.  The next day when the workshop instructor first told us to pick up our sabres and showed us how to hold them for the beginning of the set, I felt like I did as a kid the first time I took the field with my brand new softball glove.

The cool, special feeling remained through the weekend, even when I felt my clumsiest or despaired of ever finding my balance and coordination, let alone remembering the sequence of the moves.  Let me tell you, we worked hard.  Each morning we began with two full regular sets of Tai Chi, followed by several minutes of foundation exercises.  After a short water break, we worked on the sabre set.  We learned it a few moves at at time in a sequence and practiced over and over and over again.  Then the instructor would demonstrate the next sequence of moves, adding on to what we’d already learned.

We enjoyed a 90 minute to two hour lunch break during which we shared a meal but then broke into groups to do scheduled tasks such as washing dishes, chopping fruit or vegetables for dinner, putting away tables, etc.  Back from lunch, we all did another full set of Tai Chi, followed by a few more hours of more sequences from the Sabre set.  Break for dinner, do the after dinner tasks, reconvene for another full Tai Chi set, then a couple of hours more of Sabre.  By the time 9 p.m. arrived and we stopped for the night, collectively we looked like we’d just run a marathon.  I believe we all felt the same way.  The next day followed the same schedule and we finished learning all of the set moves.  The next morning when we reconvened, we concentrated on refining the moves and doing the set over and over and over and over again.

Thankfully, even with close to 100 people learning with all of the turns, chops, cuts and “throwing” of sabres (that don’t ever leave our hands), nobody actually got sliced or diced.

I will not pretend that I am anything close to having it down.  I am happy that I can remember most of it, but need to consult my notes if I get stuck on a transition from one sequence to the next.  I just keep practicing and practicing, knowing that eventually I’ll have the sequence down and then can really focus on refining my moves.  I will tell you without hesitation that I had a blast!  This is a fun set to learn and do and there’s something very cool about doing Tai Chi with my red oak sabre!

Food wise I was not strictly compliant.  I gave in to enjoy some really tasty carbs and I don’t regret doing so… particularly not with the overload of physical exercise we got.  Now that I’m back, I’m definitely cutting back — cutting the white carbs out again — and am back on track.

Today I saw my new primary care physician for the first time.  I’m happy to report that my blood pressure numbers remain good.  My cholesterol ratio of HDL:LDL is really good.  So is my blood sugar.  The doctor and I talked for a long time about my weight loss and my fitness levels.  She said that she looks not just at the numbers as in pounds on the scale, but at the overall condition of the patient and my condition is pretty darned good.  She encouraged me to stay on the path that I’m following, have faith that the pounds will come off, add some fiber supplement to my diet and she’ll see me in a year.  So, booyah for a great medical check up and keeping fit!

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Checking In Before the Holiday

The stormy seas on which I’ve been sailing lately have significantly calmed.  (Pardon the alliteration.)  More to the point, I’ve worked hard to reach a place of serenity, determining what I can change, what I can’t and recognizing the difference.  A lot of what is going on that was causing me so much stress really is out of my control.  I can only manage my actions and reactions, do my best, remember to breathe and kiss the rest to God.

I’m delighted that I’ve reached this point without binge eating through the tumult.  I’m doing a steady, consistently good job of sticking to my food plan.  Doing so not only makes me feel better physically, but also mentally and emotionally.  When I do not get side swiped by my eating disorder, overall I am in a much better place.  It’s still a matter of facing this one meal at a time, but I’m working the tools of my program.  I make sure that I plan ahead and prepare my foods.  I say no to the compulsive thoughts when they hit.  I find some other way to alleviate the stress-triggered impulses.

It helps that I’m losing weight again. A little here, a little there.  I’ll go several days, even close to a week, without any reduction and then see a couple of pounds have dropped off.  I really need to do my measurements again, too, because when I look in the mirror, I see a difference.  Having the numbers back up the visual will be good.

I’m going out of town this weekend for a Tai Chi workshop.  In addition to the regular set that we do, the Taoist Tai Chi Society also teaches some other sets, including one that includes sabre work.  I’ve never done this set and am excited to learn it.  I just think it will be a cool addition to my Tai Chi practice.  A friend from the society is riding up with me and ordered our sabres for us.  (They’re oak, not steel.)  It will surely be an interesting experience.  Plus workshops usually have more than a 100 participants.  Heck, some of them have 700 or 800!  Doing Tai Chi in harmony with so many people creates an entirely different energy feel.  I love it!

At the same time, I have a little apprehension about the food.  Meals are prepared for the workshop participants.  I know that I will be able to make choices that suit my food plan.  However, in the back of my mind is always the concern that I won’t make those choices.  Instead, if a white starch is available, will I take a spoonful out of impulse just because it’s there?  Sadly, with this disease, that is always a possibility.  So, I’m mentally psyching myself up to remain compliant to the plan and abstinent.  I’ve also thought ahead to my particular need to eat something every couple of hours.  Rather than put myself at the mercy of the workshop’s meal schedule, I have portable snacks ready that do not need refrigeration.  So, I can fuel my needs on time. This will keep me from getting over-hungry which often can lead to poor choices once food is actually available.

So, this is where I am before the three day holiday weekend.  I’m looking forward to a good time and keeping myself on an even keel.

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Medical Check-Up

Once I made the decision to have weight loss surgery, almost five years ago, it seems like I spent the next few years always going to a doctor.  First there was the consult with the surgeon.  This was followed by a number of tests and evaluations – Endoscopy, colonoscopy, pulmonology consult, first sleep test, pulmonologist’s eval of test, second sleep test, psychiatric evaluation, cardiologist appointment, echocardiogram, blood labs.  And so on and so on.

In between all of those tests I was still seeing my primary care physician for regular monitoring since I was on medication for high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar.  Doctors, doctors, specialists – I was always in one office or the other.

After the surgery, I saw my surgeon twice a month, then once a month for a year, then every three months.  In between I regularly had more blood labs done.  My primary care doctor still monitored me to make sure that I could now stay off of cholesterol and blood sugar medication and then, eventually, gave the okay for me to go off of the blood pressure medications completely.

Two and a half years ago, my primary doctor relocated.  Almost two years ago, I stopped going to my bariatric surgeon.

So, I’ve been pretty much going it alone for the last couple of years.  Except for the stall in my overall weight loss and slight regain which effected me emotionally and mentally, I’ve felt so terrific that going to the doctor has not been at the top of my mind.

This might all be well and good except that there are so many things that are important to keep an eye on for a woman of my age, family history, and previous self-history.  I came to accept, and give myself a mental head smack, that I’ve been ignoring my health.  I have no business being overdue for a complete physical and blood work.  Then there’s the matter of a mammogram and pap smear screenings.

It dawned on me that, since I stopped steadily losing weight before I reached my goal, I could be risking a recurrence of my blood pressure and blood sugar issues.  I monitor myself at home and things seem to be okay, but that doesn’t mean I should keep skipping full tests.  I also know that not having regular diagnostic screenings is just plain dumb and irresponsible.

So, I’m remedying the situation.  I found a new primary care physician to try and have an appointment for fasting blood work tomorrow.  After that, I’ll have a full physical, get a pap smear done and get a scrip for a mammogram.

I’m not big on self-diagnosing, but I’ve been reading up on thyroid issues.  I have requested a thyroid screening test too to see if it’s functioning the way that it should.  If it isn’t, that could shed some light on the stalled weight loss as well as some other symptoms I’m experiencing.

This is all a valuable lesson for me.  Eating healthy, fresh, clean food and working out are important for my health, but they aren’t a free pass.  I can’t neglect myself in any way by not going for regular checkups.  I’m glad that I’m taking the steps that I’ve put into place and that I’m ramping up my dedication to good self-care.

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