Weighty Matters

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Appearance and Attention

I know I still need to get some pictures up and I promise that’s one of my goals for this weekend.  I have some fun ones from the RT Convention.  I am finally, finally, really seeing the weight loss in myself.  Friends and family who haven’t seen me since the surgery can really notice the difference, too.

Obviously, I’m thrilled with the positive progress.  At the same time, I’ve reached the point where the loss is beginning to get a lot of attention.  To an extent, too much attention makes me uncomfortable.  There’s a fine line to walk.  The positive reinforcement is helpful, but when someone goes too far overboard with their enthusiasm, I cringe inside because I feel like the reaction focuses everyone’s attention on me — even people I don’t know but who happen to be around at the time.

I’ve tried to gently draw some guidelines and boundaries.  My friends at work know that I’ve designated Friday as the day when I’ll report how much weight I’ve lost.  So, they don’t ask me all of the time and that’s really helpful.   I’ve tried to gently explain to one person that I appreciate her exuberance and joy for me, but could she please not express it in front of a large group of strangers.  Unfortunately, she forgets and has been known to call out, “You’re just melting away” from a distance of ten feet when she sees me.

It’s hard because I really, really, really do appreciate how terrific everyone is toward me.  I don’t want to be rude or ungracious.

I need to accept that this might be something that I can never change and instead work on why I cringe and get uncomfortable.  This could be more negative effect from my rotten body image.  See, although I’m 65 pounds lighter, I’m still obese.  I can’t help but imagine strangers looking at me and wondering why people are complimenting me for looking good.  If that’s truly the root of the reaction, then it should improve as I lose more and more weight, right?  Eventually, even I’ll agree that I look good instead of always qualifying it in my head as, “I look better than I did, but I still have a long way to go”.

In the meantime, I guess I can try again to establish what type of support is most helpful, but if someone doesn’t get it, I just need to work on smiling and saying “Thank you”.



Ever since I returned from my trip, I’ve been craving carbs.  Even more than sweets, I think about how much I’d like to enjoy a plate of pasta, a thick, crusty piece of Italian bread dipped in herb-infused olive oil or a dense, flavorful muffin accented with creamy, soft butter.

Not that I could actually eat a whole plate of pasta, thick slice of bread or entire muffin, but I’d be more than happy to pick at the dishes a few bites at a time and put the rest away.

I feel somewhat like an alcoholic who is positive that one small drink won’t hurt.

It’s not that I’m on a no-carb diet, but I’m supposed to follow a low-carb plan.  So if I have carbs, they need to be in very small amounts and not all in one meal or on one day.  Honestly, if I’m following my plan right and eating protein first, I don’t have much room for carbs, so it should be relatively a non-issue.

Yeah, right.  Cravings are always an issue.  I’ve been extraordinarily happy to not be struck with them much since the surgery.  I don’t count when I was in week five of the six-weeks of liquid diets and craved something more solid.  Hell, at that point anyone would have craved something other than milk, soup or protein shakes.

I had a bagel today.  Not all at once, but spread out over two snacks and lunch.  This was a poor choice for several reasons.  One — a big Thomas’s Everything bagel has lots of carbs and calories.  Even thought I didn’t eat the entire thing at one time, it still upped my count for the entire day.  Two — by eating the pieces of bagel, I took up room in my stomach that was meant for protein.  So, today I not only went over my carb goal, but I’m also under my protein grams.

Blech.  I’m not beating myself up, although I’m not happy with the choices I made.  I’m just putting it out here so that I can process it all in my head and get back on track tomorrow.  I don’t want to slide down a slippery slope and repeat the behavior tomorrow.

When I quit smoking many years ago, I learned in the cessation class that the urge to smoke will pass whether or not you have a cigarette.  There’s an actual, chartable, progress to a nicotine urge.  It builds and builds for about ten  minutes but if you can make it through the peak of the urge, the craving will dissipate.   I’ve never found that to be true of food cravings.  What usually works better for me is to substitute.  A glass of water, a cup of hot tea, a bite of something else.  The trick is to be willing to not pick up the carb overload.

I can do this.  I will do this tomorrow.  Today wasn’t horrible, but tomorrow is going to be even better.


Keeping Perspective

I got back to Florida from Chicago late on Sunday and drove from the mainland directly to work yesterday.  So, last night was my first night back at my home and this morning was the first time/opportunity I had to weigh myself since before the trip.  I didn’t lose any weight over the week.

Naturally, my first reaction was one of disappointment with a sizeable dollop of internal whining.  “Ohhhh, but I was sooooo good and I tried soooo hard!”  “I barely ate and I only had a few pieces of chocolate but I did alllll that walllkkkiinnnggg.”  “Whine whine whine, kvetch, kvetch, moan.”

Then I got some healthy perspective.  In the past whenever I went away to a conference, I absolutely ate too much food, including dessert at every meal.  I also used to have a few drinks every night and some nights more than a few.  I was heavier so I didn’t do any more walking than necessary and, although I danced, I didn’t set the floor on fire in high-aerobic, calorie-burning workouts.  Invariably I returned from conferences weighing more than before I left.

To have spent almost a week away from home and out of my routine and managed to maintain my weight is a victory.  Let’s look at some facts.  Liquid is liquid.  I could have had wine or a mixed drink or two every single night.  They served chocolate cheesecake after dinner one night and I absolutely could have slowly but steadily consumed the entire piece.  Instead I took two moderate forkfuls and then moved the plate out of my reach.  Yes, I grabbed some small pieces of chocolate, compulsively, when moving between the rows of promotional materials on my way to various panels, but it’s not like I binged on pounds of the stuff.  I was mindful of my eating and my nutritional goals.  I took care of myself and I maintained.

Yes, definitely a victory.

More to the point, I’m back home and back into my routine.  Before, whenever I was on a diet and then veered off, I usually did not get myself back on track.   Things are different now.  I’m different.   The losing trend shall recommence immediately.


Last Thoughts on Convention Adventures

My bags are almost packed.  The friends with whom I shared a room have left.  I just finished my morning protein shake and caught up on some email, etc.  I feel a little reflective about my first big convention/conference post-surgery.  I learned a lot about what I need to do to succeed in this environment and how easy it still is to mess myself up sometimes.

All in all, I think I did really, really well.  Like I said before, preparing in certain ways was key and I would not have done so well without the planning.  I had milk in the fridge in the room so I could make those protein shakes most mornings.  The cheese wedges and peanut butter cups meant that I could get something protein-based into me every few hours.  My friends were terrific at understanding if I said, “I need to get something to eat” and were usually happy to go with me if we hit a restaurant.

Gotta give props to the Hyatt Regency-O’Hare.  Even with so many people, their food service in the bar and the grill was quick!  The fridge in the room also meant that I could bring leftovers back and have them to eat at other times.  I did that twice, since no matter what I order, whether entree or appetizer or salad, the portions are more than I can or should put in my stomach.  However, we’ve already established that I need to eat every few hours so the leftovers were great additions to my food plan.

I ran into trouble with staying hydrated on Thursday.  Very busy day and, foolishly, I did not keep a water bottle with me so I wasn’t sipping throughout the day.  I ended up feeling lousy and drained and even needed to rest in the room in the evening.  I rallied for the dinner event and drank several glasses of water at the meal after eating some chicken.  Lesson learned.  I keep a bottle with me at all times on Friday and Saturday and refilled it from pitchers often.  No further problems ensued.

I was also reminded that “once a compulsive eater, always a compulsive eater”.  I have little restraint against small, individually wrapped chocolates.  I didn’t overeat, but if they were around, I’d occasionally grab one just because I love chocolate.  Not good to give into the impulse, but I’ll give myself some props for not gorging on them.  I was also quite proud of myself for only tasting two small bites of the incredibly rich, yummy chocolate cheesecake dessert at dinner one night.  After my second bite, I relocated the plate to the center of the table where I could not easily reach it again.  Victory!

I love how much more energy and ease of movement I had this year over years past.  Instead of dreading making the hike back to the ballroom or the meeting rooms, my get-up-and-go stayed with me and I trucked around without pain and with very little stiffness in my knee.

Yesterday morning doesn’t count.  The evening before I enthusiastically participated in the dancing and might have stomped just a little too emphatically during the Cha-Cha slide.  Some Motrin took care of the problem.

When I get home, I’ll figure out how to post some photos and also dig out one from last year for comparison.  Right now, I’m going to hang out for a few more hours with what friends are still here before I head for the airport.

It was a great time with lots of terrific affirmation and successes on which to build!  I’m dying to see what I weigh.  If I held even, I’ll be happy.  If I managed to lose more, even with the different meals and foods, I’ll be even happier!


Taking Care of Myself

Hi, All,

Checking in from RT.  I’d just written a full post but, unfortunately, the hotel Internet connection ran out in the middle and the draft didn’t save.  I have to run out now before I can rewrite it, but all is well and I’m taking care of myself amid the fun mayhem that is this convention.

Thanks for all of your comments.  I’ve been reading them on my phone.  I can feel the support and it makes me smile.

Hope you’re all doing well!


Some Traveling NSVs

I hope everyone had a good holiday weekend!

I’m writing this from the airport, waiting for a flight to the RT Convention. A friend’s staying at my house while I’m gone and I got a boatload of stuff done before I left.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to post every day but I’ll definitely check in. In the meantime, here are some observations that make me smile.

The pants that I had altered can stand to be taken in even more!

I feel very prepared to take care of my nutritional needs at the convention. I packed protein powder, cheese wedges and peanut butter to-go cups that will get me through delays, etc between meals.

My weight loss made it so much easier to hoof around the airport, pulling a heavy suitcase!

I bet I won’t need a seat belt extended on the plane.

Last year I just knew that people would notice my weight gain. This year I’m so happy that things are sooo different!

It’s going to be a fun time!


Holiday Eating – License to Ill?

Happy Easter to all who celebrate the day.  A belated Happy Passover to my Jewish family members and friends.

It’s a quiet, sunny, lovely day on the harbor at my home.  Unfortunately, it’s too windy to take out my now repaired boat, but that’s okay.  I have a lot to accomplish today before I go away next week.

I didn’t make big plans for the holiday.  In recent years, I cooked dinner and invited friends over for the meal.  Not doing that today had less to do with my new way of eating and more to do with the above mentioned “lot to accomplish”.  I am, however, going to cook much more of a meal than I have in more than three months.  A good friend is caring for a terminally ill loved one.   I remember from when my mother was terminally ill how much I appreciated when someone offered to make dinner for us.  It was a relief to not have to figure out and prepare a meal.

I’ve been thinking a lot about family holidays the way we celebrated them when I was growing up.  No matter what the holiday, dinner was always a big deal — whether Christmas or Easter with a big sit-down meal planned or a 4th of July barbecue.  Food, food and more food.

Holidays were also days when I felt like I gained a reprieve from lectures about how much or what I chose to eat.  If family members still watched and catalogued what I put on my plate and in my mouth, they kept their opinions to themselves.  It was like I had a license to eat on those days, even if I could consume enough to make me sick.  License to Ill for sure.   I looked forward to those meals all day long — and not just because my mother was a world class cook.  Even if we were going to one of my grandmothers (Italian feasts at one house or a succulent roast at the other) the food was always going to be something that I loved and I relished being able to eat.

I never really thought twice about any negative implications of what we put on the table until one fall when my brother was in college.  He went away to school and came back a vegetarian and health food fan who was suddenly shopping for clothes at the Salvation Army and making his own granola and yogurt.  While he lost his liking for meat products, he didn’t lose his cutting wit.  (We both have a healthy vein of smart assedness running through us even now.)  I remember him looking at the Thanksgiving table with all of the various dishes and exclaiming with scorn, “Is anybody planning to eat anything other than Starch?”

Looking back, he was right.  It probably is overkill to have bread stuffing, mashed potatoes, and candied sweet potatoes at one meal.  If we’re going to be truly honest, green bean casserole technically has vegetables  in it, but it isn’t one of those healthy concoctions.  Ditto on creamed corn.

One year I was on my restrictive, medically-supervised, 9 ounces of protein a day and that’s it, diet on which I lost over 100 pounds.  It was so difficult to chew on my six ounces of turkey meat while the sight and scent of all of the other dishes tortured me.  I freely admit that I sneaked bites of everything away from everyone else while I helped clear the table after the meal.

So this is my first holiday, post- weight loss surgery.  The only focus I’m devoting to food, other than meeting my nutritional needs today, is the meal I’ll assemble for my friend.  I’m going to keep a very small portion of it out for my own dinner.

I don’t need to pile up a plate and overfill my stomach in order to celebrate.  My holiday today is about treating myself well, acknowledging all of the things for which I am grateful today, and celebrating a good and happy life.

Wishing you all a very happy holiday.


Overcoming Resistance and Daring to Get Better

A few years ago, my sister-in-law asked me if I’d ever consider weight loss surgery.  I can’t say that I’d never thought of it, but every time it crossed my mind, I immediately rejected the idea.  At the time I knew only about lap-band surgery and the gastric bypass.  I had no faith that I wouldn’t end up eating around the lap band and I feared the more drastic bypass surgery and the effects I’d heard of with malabsorption of vitamins and the altered digestion process.

I held onto that fear with a nearly unbreakable grip.  I honestly cannot say why I was more afraid of the surgery than I was of my super obesity killing me.

As much as I hate how much fatter I got in recent years and the negative impact on my body and emotional well-being, I’m really glad that I reached the point of my own personal wake-up call last summer.  My physical condition had steadily decreased for quite some time.    There were things I’d once enjoyed that I couldn’t any longer.  I felt like crap all of the time.  The day that I couldn’t pull myself up the ladder of my boat to get out of the water was the last straw.  In that moment I knew that I needed to stop damaging myself and get myself on the road to healing.  I was done resisting and began researching gastric bypass surgery.  Even though I still feared it, I planned to go ahead despite the fear.

After I made the decision to pursue weight loss surgery, I could view my attitude and fears with a different perspective.  I began to see that my resistance was very similar to the way my mom had resisted going to rehab for her alcoholism.   Her refusal was the strongest when she was in the worst grip of relapse.   Thank God she always reached the point where her walls would break down and she would agree to go.

Mom’s post-rehab recoveries were never perfect, but God love her, she did her best to fight her disease.  In her later years, her periods of sobriety were longer and her relapses shorter.

Once I committed to having surgery and then discovered that there was a newer procedure called the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, I got pretty gung-ho about the whole thing.   I made the decision and, from that point, everything in me focused on making it happen.  Now here I am, ten weeks post-op, and I can’t help but look back and wonder why I resisted for so long.

What is it in us that makes us continue to choose destructive, harmful behavior over healthy behaviors that make us well or keep us well?   Even with therapy, I don’t understand why I took refuge in overeating instead of facing things without food.  The best I can do is that it fulfilled a need and had a purpose.  I think at this stage of my life it was also what I knew.  The habits of a lifetime were so ingrained that I didn’t know anything else.  The devil I knew was somehow more reassuring and it fed my resistance.

I know now that overeating no longer serves a purpose that is in anyway positive.  I’m willing to give up the comfortable numbing and dare to face whatever might come at me without the food.

When I was a kid, if someone dared me to do something, I never said no.  I temporarily lost that spirt for too many years.   Today, I’m daring myself to keep changing.  I’m daring myself to get better.



No Running to Food

I just learned about the unexpected death of a young co-worker’s father.  Many of our long-term management team have known the man for many, many years and the news has rocked them too.

But my mind keeps returning to his daughter, who is in her mid-20s, around the age I was when my Dad died unexpectedly in 1983.  That was the single most devastating thing I’d ever experienced and it ripped me apart.  In my struggle to cope, I ate.  And ate.  And continued to eat.

In the couple of years before his death, I’d lost 100 pounds on a medically-supervised, highly restrictive, mostly-protein diet.  It sure as hell was a simple plan — 1 oz of protein in the morning, 3 oz of protein at lunch, 5 oz of protein at dinner with a cup of vegetables.  Six months before Dad died, I was the thinnest I’d been in my entire adult life.

After his death, I steadily gained back all 100 pounds and over the years continued to add more, in between bouts of weight loss.  What a roller coaster.

That was my m.o.  I ate to numb my feelings, to anesthetize my pain.  Food was my sedative.  The heck with limiting myself to comfort food.  ALL food comforted me.   The despair I felt about packing back on my pounds was a far distant second to the despair over losing my father.

I’ve been on a really even keel for the last four months.  Sure, I’ve experienced the occasionally upsetting situation, but with the help of my sleeved stomach and the work I’m doing on my head and emotions, I haven’t needed to run to food for numbing.  We had a saying (one of many) in OA that the feelings won’t kill me, but the food will.  I’m glad that I’m developing and practicing more effective, less unhealthy, coping mechanisms.

However, I can’t help but wonder what would happen if I was suddenly hit with something as devastating as my father’s death.  Even if I tried to stuff down the pain with food, I can’t physically handle the necessary volume.  Big pain needs a semi-truck’s worth of food to keep it from erupting and blowing me apart.

I believe that I need to be proactive right now and practice when small upsets occur.  If I get stressed, angry, annoyed or whatever over something in my life, I will stay conscious and remain in touch with the feelings.  I’m strong and capable.  I can handle the emotions without numbing myself to the feelings.  I will do it without food.  The practice will do me good, just in case I get hit with something much bigger.  Sure as all get out, running back to food is not an option!


As Sick as Our Secrets

We’re only as sick as our secrets.  That’s something else I learned at OA. The idea is that if we air out these things, chase them out into the light of day, we can break their power over us and head toward healing.  Every once in a while I second guess myself about being as open about things as I’ve been on this blog.  A couple of friends have, in a caring way, asked if I really ought to talk about everything that I share.

When the doubts come, I remind myself that I’m only as sick as my secrets.  If there were OA meetings anywhere near where I live, I’d go and discuss all these things in the rooms.  I’d probably still blog them, but I know for a fact I’d talk.  However, there aren’t any meetings. so this blog is my room.

If the process didn’t feel good, if I didn’t honestly believe that I benefit and grow healthier by sharing, I wouldn’t do it.  Sharing relieves me of more of the shame, every single time.  The secrets diminish in enormity and power.  I become stronger.  This blog is good self-care.

Thank you for being the witnesses that listen to my sharing.  I’m happy that you’re here, even all of you quiet ones who read and don’t comment.  It’s okay.  You’ll speak up if you need or want to.  That’s totally your choice.  Just know that even if you never type a comment, you’re welcome here.

Moving on. 🙂

I had another NSV today.  For the first time, when I looked in the mirror, I saw the weight loss in my face.  I was so surprised that I stopped rubbing in cleanser and stared.  I touched the promise of a cheekbone that I spotted lurking beneath my skin and smiled.

Other than watching the number reduce on my scale and feeling clothes get steadily bigger, I haven’t seen the weight loss — except in my hands and fingers.  This morning was a revelation.  It felt great.  I also know that every morning and every night I’ll look at myself — my growing thinner self — and feel the positive reinforcement of all the effort.   My own image will serve as a terrific reminder that I’m making positive progress.

Love it!