Weighty Matters

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Missing Food

Not sure if it’s boredom, hormones or some other reason, but I’m having a blah, blues sort of day. It started out fine with a three hour Tai Chi class.  I learned a lot and made some improvements in my form, etc.  The breaks we took involved easy camaraderie and great stories.

I came home and opted for a lazy, relaxing day, reading a good book by one of my favorite authors.  I can’t pinpoint when or why, but at some point that relaxing day turned into one of discontent.  Although I continued to read, I was just plain grumpy as the hours passed.

Finally it was time for dinner so I took the ribeye steak I’d bought out of the fridge to warm.  I still enjoy cooking and really wanted the meal to taste good.  I used a rub that had some mild peppers in it for a subtle heat, then to build some contrasting flavors I sprinkled the barest amount of brown sugar on the meat before cooking it on my new grill pan.  (It’s pretty windy out and that keeps my outdoor grill from heating properly.)

The new grill pan is fabulous.  It seared the steak with lovely grill marks and my mouth watered when the meat was done.  I cut off the appropriate small portion and savored the flavor and juicy tenderness.

When I was finished my stomach was just shy of full, but mentally I wanted more.  The mind is powerful and I was tempted.  However, I knew that if I ate any more I’d only have to throw it up.   Talk about spoiling the meal.

So, instead of satisfying the mental craving and further tantalizing my taste buds, I reasonably acted and didn’t overeat.  I’ve been pissy about it all evening.

Thankfully I don’t often experience this resentment.  I probably won’t even experience it again tomorrow.  I can handle it for tonight.  In fact, I think I’ll go soak in the bathtub before bed.  I’ll use the lavender bath salts so the water feels particularly silky against my skin and I can enjoy the lovely scent.    Concentrating on other senses will distract me from missing food.

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High Cost of Overeating

I went supermarket shopping after my hair appointment this evening.  Lobster mini-season opens next week in the Keys.  Vacation rentals are booked up and the hordes begin arriving tomorrow.  That means that on Saturday, the supermarket is going to be mobbed.  No sane local resident shops on one of these Saturdays if we can possibly avoid it.  Tonight as I pushed my cart through the produce area and then up and down the aisles, I started to think about how much food every every week just to feed myself.  This led me to do some arithmetic in my head.  I estimated what I used to spend each week at the store, then added an additional $25 for the frequent lunches I bought at work several days.  A rough guess at miscellaneous food purchases when I wanted that fast food breakfast sandwich or some rich pastry from the overprized coffee shop, a hit of candy here, pint of premium ice cream there, hold the three, carry the one and . . .  My weekly food bills were definitely high.

I honestly think that I’m saving a minimum of $50 a week.  Holy wow.  That’s a lot of money!  $200 a month times six months equals $1200.  If I keep going at this rate, then figure savings of $2400 in a year.

Now I’m musing on all of the fun, rewarding things I can do with that money.  Take a great trip.  Put it toward payments on a new car.  Buy a new wardrobe.  Endless possibilities, people.  Endless!

The flip side of all of the happy thoughts is the tough realization of how much food I used to buy with that $50 a week.  Stuff I didn’t need.  Junk loaded with sugar or fat or carbs or sugar and carbs, fat and sugar — or all three.   Considering that I was making myself sick with that food in terms of high cholesterol, Type II diabetes, hypertension and so on, I was paying a price literally and figuratively.

In more ways than one, I’m glad to be done with the high cost of overeating.

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Eating with our Eyes

I’ve heard it said that we eat with our eyes before we taste the food on our plates.

I saw a commercial on television earlier tonight where they excitedly touted something called a Baconator from a fast food restaurant.   Maybe it was the zoomed in angle of the camera but it looked like two huge, glistening cheeseburger patties with sizeable slices of crisp bacon on thick rolls.  At first glance, I thought, “God that looks delicious!”  A split second later,  my stomach clenched and  I made a face at the sheer ginormousness of the overall sandwich.

This is a strange reaction to experience, given my earlier “the more the better” approach to food.   I never dreamed that one day I would gaze at something that I would ordinarily love and immediately salivate over and instead consider it unappetizing because of the big portion size.

Overall, this is a far healthier reaction and one that I plan to cultivate.  Less is best for me now.  I’m not saying that I wouldn’t jump at the chance to savor the Baconator — crisp bacon, melted cheese and juicy beef?  Come on! —  but it would have to be greatly downsized.  Even a Baconator Junior would be too much.  Maybe a Baconator the III would be small enough for me to enjoy without my stomach becoming so full that I had to throw up.  That’s pretty much a buzz kill.

Ever hear someone claim that they’re on a seafood diet – – they see food and eat it?  I’m really excited that my food point of view is changing in such a good, positive way.   Slowly I’m training myself to assess an appropriate amount of food instead of choosing too much.   In the grip of my disease there was never enough.  Now I’m learning that I can eat just enough and be happy.

 

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It’s Only Food

I used to always feel like everyone around me constantly watched me and what I ate.  Even if they didn’t say anything, I was positive that they were assessing the portion size and selection and silently passing judgment.   It didn’t matter if I ordered a “normal” entree in a restaurant or served myself a perfectly acceptable moderate portion, I was sure that other people were always thinking that I should be eating far less or something different.

I’m sure that not everyone around me engaged in this behavior, but I know that some at least did.  Just one example was a little something that happened decades ago.  A family member offered me a piece of homemade pie at the end of a nice meal.  I accepted, asking for a smaller slice than the wedges she cut for everyone else at the table.  She served me, but before I ate any I got up to get a cup of tea from the kitchen.  While I was in the other room I heard her say, “I can’t believe Mary’s going to eat that pie!”

It sucked to have so much attention focused on what I ate.  Even now the idea of it frequently makes me extremely uncomfortable.  Now, however, I know that people aren’t judging a large volume of food on my plate because large volume no longer exists in my life.  Still, I can’t help wondering if those who know I’ve had weight loss surgery check out what I choose to eat.

Maybe they are.  Maybe they aren’t.   If they are, it’s probably more out of curiosity than negative judgment.  I’m sure people want to know what constitutes a “normal” portion for me now.  Obviously, I have no control over what other people think or do, but I need to work on my internal reactions.

When I was a kid, I learned to sneak eat when nobody was watching and to hide food, like bags of candy, in my room.  Deceptive eating is not healthy.  It’s a behavior that is fueled by negativity and that in turn feeds the negativity and makes it stronger.   It makes me resentful.  Somewhere along the line I absorbed the judgment that said some foods are “bad” and others are “good”.   Yes, some food choices are healthier than others and I honestly want to cultivate healthier eating habits in the kinds of food I eat as well as the portion size.

That doesn’t mean that I need to live the rest of my life without tasting chocolate cheesecake or fried onion rings.   However, I accept and am willing to eat them sparingly.  I need to make this okay within myself.  It’s bad enough if I feel other people judge my food.  When I do so, it’s even worse.

So,  I’m working toward being absolutely okay with my food choices in social situations as well as private.  I need to learn to shut down the thought that everyone around me is watching my food and adopt an attitude that if they are, that’s their problem.  Carry on, folks.  Nothing to see here.  I need to give myself the emotional and physical freedom to support my own food choices.  It’s only food after all.

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Battling My Brain

Although I’ve been on a great streak for the last six months, I still battle old habits, patterns and thought processes.  These struggles happen to some degree almost every day.  There are days when I want to retreat into old eating behaviors virtually all day long.  Granted, I really can’t binge, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to deep six the more protein/low carb/low fat/ low sugar meal choices and eat greasy fried foods and a pint of ice cream.

This is particularly scary because if I took my time over several hours, I could eventually consume a pint of ice cream.

I’m making great progress on my plan to increase my exercise.  However, while I want to exercise on some level, the part of me that grew accustomed to sloth and laziness as an super obese person would also be perfectly content to curl up in the recliner with a book and do nothing.

I have internal conversations with myself all of the time.   This happened a lot today.

Ever since successfully doing a regular Zumba class on Saturday, I said I would go to another class today.  I was looking forward to it, really!   Earlier in the afternoon, I was out with teammates on a manatee release.   When we finally got back to work we needed to isolate some of the video clips and send them to the news bureau.  I needed to select the best photos from those I’d taken and get them approved so I could help spread the news.  On a normal day I would have left work around 4:30, which would give me plenty of time to get home to let out my dogs and feed them, change into workout clothes, and arrive at Zumba in time for the 5:30 class.  Instead, I didn’t get out of work until close to 5:00 so I was rushed.

On the entire drive home I debated and made excuses in my head.  I’d never make it in time.  I’d been on my feet and rushing around a lot already.  I could swim in the pool instead.  I didn’t want to arrive late for the class, etc. etc. etc.  I pretty much talked myself into going home and staying in for the rest of the evening.   Luckily, I recognized this as a past habit of finding perfectly good excuses and rationalizations for not exercising.

I passed the Zumba place and timed how long it took me to get from there to my house.  The clock told me that I could accomplish what I needed to do and still get to class on time.  That’s exactly what I did.   When the class finished an hour later I was proud of myself.  Not only had I successfully done Zumba again, but I’d confronted an old behavior pattern and triumphed.

That set me up for the evening’s second challenge.  I’d worked out with every bit of effort and energy I could muster.  Believe me, I don’t coast in these classes!  Didn’t this mean that I deserved a reward?  Something like a bag of M&Ms or a rich, gooey Milky Way bar?

I absolutely believe it’s important to reward myself for following my food plan and exercising.  However, it’s equally important to find rewards that don’t negate the positive efforts I’ve put forth.  Again I almost had myself convnced was really craving a chocolate bar on the way home.  I made a deal with myself.  I needed to first get some protein into my body for dinner.  I decided that if I still truly wanted some chocolate for dessert I would run down to the store on the corner.

By the time I got home five minutes later and heated up a small hamburger patty, my appetite for food had diminished.  I took my time because I really needed the protein to meet my nutritional goals for the day.   I resisted the urge to break off most of the meat and share it with my dogs.  Eating slowly, I finished the patty and a small serving of vegetables.  I had no desire for anything else at that point.

A couple of hours later, I felt a twinge of “want chocolate” return.   However, I didn’t want it enough to change out of my sleepwear and go to the store.  Instead, I grabbed my jar of PB2 with Premium Chocolate — a product of dehydrated peanut powder and cocoa — and mixed up a couple of tablespoons with water for a snack.

As a comparison — 39 grams of peanut M&Ms have 200 calories, over 90 of which are fat calories.   They also have about 24 grams of carbs, over 19 grams of sugar and less than 4 grams of protein.

A two tablespoon serving of PB2 with chocolate has 45 calories, 10 of which are from fat.  There are 6 grams of carbs, 3 grams of sugar and 4 grams of protein.  It’s a great, still yummy, alternative.

If I wanted to keep score for the day, I’d give myself two marks and my brain’s old behavior patterns a big zero!  I’m pretty pleased with the results today and will do my best to build on them tomorrow and the next day, and every day after.

This doesn’t mean that, as God as my witness, I’ll never eat M&Ms again.  When I do, however, I want the treat to be a positive, conscious choice.  I don’t want to indulge because I fell back into an old pattern.  So whenever necessary, I’ll continue to battle my own brain.

 

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Cheap Shots

I went to see the movie Magic Mike over the weekend.  I’ll cop to being shallow enough to enjoy spending some time looking at sexy men with great physiques showing off their mostly naked bodies.

Anyway, I wasn’t expecting a movie with a deep, involved storyline, so I was pleasantly surprised that it had more depth than I expected.  I was having a pleasant enough time at the theater until somewhere in the middle.   One of the actors portraying male strippers is Joe Manganiello, who also places Alcide on True Blood, which is one of my favorite shows.   I’ve seen enough of his body on TB to know it’s a prime one.  He’s 6’5″, over 200 pounds, and clearly very strong.  In True Blood and in this movie, he’s done his fair share of hoisting women up in his arms.  In fact, in a recent TB episode, he not only hoisted Sookie so that her legs were wrapped around his waist, but he walked up a flight of stairs carrying her in that position.

In Magic Mike, after showing various dancers pick up, carry and otherwise demonstrate that they were obviously strong enough to tote slender women, the movie’s action showed a woman who was carrying a few extra pounds being escorted to the stage.

Two guys walked her up onto the stage to Manganiello’s character.     He picked her up.  She wrapped her legs around his waist.  He held her there with his hands under her butt and then he flinched like he’d strained his lower back.  He put her down and walked stiffly from the stage, not finishing his act.  That left the poor woman up on stage, looking around awkwardly and embarrassed in front of the crowd.

I’m not great at assessing someone else’s weight, but she was far from obese.  I’m pretty sure that she weighed less than 200 pounds.  Whatever the case, I’d bet real money that Joe Manganiello bench presses more than her weight on a regular basis.

This scene was completely unnecessary and totally manufactured to make people laugh — at the chubby woman.  Gotta tell you, perhaps I was the only woman in the audience who got pissed off by the scene, but not a single woman in that theater laughed.

This kind of thing is nothing new.  Maybe there aren’t a lot of “big hunk throws out back lifting chunky woman” scenes, but I’m sure we all remember numerous scenes throughout television shows and movies where people who were slightly, or a lot, overweight were fodder for ridicule.  They became the brunt of jokes.

Am I oversensitive to this topic?  I’m sure that I am, but that doesn’t change the facts.  Making fun of overweight people is mean.  It’s also unnecessary.  Surely any writer or filmmaker can dig deeper to create humor.  They don’t need to take cheap shots.

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Clear Thinking

Different friends have given me much to think about this week.  Skye discussed how we tell the stories of our lives and how we view ourselves in those stories.  Tracey got me pondering about all the times I’ve lost weight in the past only to eventually backslide  and put it all — and more — back on.  I’m not sure if I set that pattern simply because I have a disease called compulsive overeating or whether I self-sabotage or have some other unclear reason.

I’m going to need to deeply ponder these things for a while.  I don’t have answers yet.  Why then, you might ask, did I title this post Clear Thinking?  That I  can answer.   When I’m deep in the disease of compulsive overeating and binging like crazy, it’s a struggle to think clearly about anything.  The food and the behavior muddle my mind.  They create so many negative feelings and thoughts, that navigating my way through the mental sludge to reach any clarity is nearly impossible.

Now that my head and heart aren’t confuzzled by overeating, I’m largely free of diseased thinking.  Sure, I occasionally slip back, but there’s a world of difference between then and now.   It’s like I polished up my thought process and can view things as they are, unaltered by the smears and cloudiness caused by overeating behavior.

It’s fabulous to be able to think clearly.  Clear thinking leads to greater awareness and, also, clear action.   I’m sure this is why I’ve been able to write so much here on the blog.

Hopefully, as I continue to make progress, I’ll be able to delve even deeper into my issues.  This will serve me well in the days, weeks, and months ahead.  Believe it or not, but getting thinner doesn’t eradicate every issue.  In fact, it will no doubt uncover ones that I haven’t needed to face in decades.  I’ll need clear thinking even more.

 

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You Don’t Know Until You Try

I didn’t have Tai Chi class this morning so I made plans to try a regular Zumba class at 9 a.m.  You might remember that on Memorial Day I went to Zumba Gold, which is supposed to be a little less intense and geared to the over 50 crowd.   Six weeks ago, I was delighted that I managed to keep up with the quick pace and maintain the movement for the full hour.  I’d hoped that the place I went to would soon add some ZG classes in the evenings so that I could go a couple of times a week.

That hasn’t been able to happen yet.  I’ve been feeling the need to step up my exercise routine.  Yes, I’ve been as diligent as possible with my water exercises, as well as doing my in-home DVDs.  However, I still feel like I haven’t progressed as far as I should with the exercise part of my recovery plan.  I decided to check out the regular intensity Zumba.   After all, what was the worst that could happen?  I flail around in back out of synch but keep moving?  Well, I guess that the worse that could happen is that I pass out and die, but why be negative?

I suited up in comfy shorts and picked a Bruce Springsteen t-shirt to wear for inspiration.  I figure if the Boss can rock out a full concert for three hours at age 62, I could last an hour mixing dancing and exercise.  I slipped on my new sneakers, grabbed a bottle a water and headed out.

They had a full turn out this morning.   Several women I know arrived for the class and warmly welcomed me.  Pretty much all of them gave me the same advice.  “Even if you mess up the steps, just keep moving.  Just keep moving.”

That’s what I did.  Through mambos and traveling steps, squats, lunges, kicks and all of the rest, I just kept moving.  To my complete surprise, I actually kept up with the class through all of the songs. Did I do every step and move perfectly?  Oh heck no, but I kept moving with a high level of energy.   I boosted my heart rate and worked up a sweat with the best of them.

By the time the hour was over, my body knew it had worked.  I felt terrific!  I’ve already decided to go again on Tuesday after work for another class.   Looking at their schedule, I know I can make a class on Tuesdays and alternate Thursdays.   This schedule will go a long way toward advancing my overall exercise commitment.   The cardio routine will do great things for my heart.  Burning off calories is an added benefit.

I could have waited to see if they scheduled an evening Gold class.  I could have delayed until I’ve lost even more weight.  I’m glad that I went in with the attitude that I’d give it a shot and see what happened.  This was far more positive than letting fear of failure keep me stuck.   Successfully working out in a regular Zumba class provided a terrific boost and I’d never have known I could do it, had I not tried!

 

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Additional Realizations

It’s been a great week where I’m aware of myself in good, not negative ways. I had a social function to attend earlier this evening. A few weeks ago when doing one of my closet purges, I found a dress that I loved years ago. I haven’t worn it in more years than I can remember because it was so tight that the line of buttons down the front gapped open and the material stretched across my boobs like someone wrapping an Egyptian mummy. The fabric is a deep purple batik which, given that I live in the Keys, is always in style. It totally didn’t matter that the dress is 10 years old. It was still in style. Anyway, when I found it in the closet, I looked at the size tag and figured I might as well try it on.

It not only fit, it looked great I looked great in it! It has a scoop neckline and, for the first time I noticed that my collar bones are beginning to show! I was so excited to wear this dress tonight that I didn’t even mind that I needed to iron it first. (Ironing is not a household chore that I adore.) To go with the dress, I pulled out a pair of shoes with a wedge heel. A dress and shoes that aren’t flip-flops? That practically constituted semi-formal wear for me.

Off I went to the function where I’d do a fair amount of networking. I knew I’d see people I already know but expected there to be several whom I’d never met. I’m usually comfortable at these kinds of things, but even though I’m good at walking up to strangers, introducing myself and making conversation, in the past I always had to gag the ugly voice in my head first.

That voice used to harangue me about being the biggest person in the room. It used to whisper that the other people who watched me arrive were all thinking, “Good God, that woman is huge! How does someone let themselves get that big?” The voice lectured me about what I chose to eat at these things too, and told me that everyone was watching to see how much food I put on my plate.

Let me tell you, it’s amazing that I ever went anywhere with that voice bitching at me in my own psyche. Somehow I learned to do what I wanted or needed to in spite of the voice.

Tonight, it was so much fun to stroll from the car, smoothly and gracefully, feeling really good about my progress. I walked into the room confident that I projected all the positive vibes glowing inside.

Obviously I wasn’t the smallest attendee in the room, but I wasn’t the only person with some size. It didn’t matter. I didn’t feel judged or unduly assessed and I sure as hell didn’t judge myself. I just let myself enjoy the function, network as I needed, and have a good, relaxed time.

On this evening, I only heard nice things — from the people around me and from my own psyche. It’s good to know that I can change not only my body — my physical frame — but also my internal framework. I’m not only seeing the changes, I’m internalizing them. That’s a great realization for me to celebrate.

Progress update: I broke through the stall. As of this morning I have lost 96 pounds! Four more pounds to reach the 100 pound mark. At that point, I’ll get another photo taken to post. Woot!

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It’s Fitting.

I’ve mentioned before that being extremely overweight causes one to be hyperaware of size and surroundings.  For years, I didn’t sit in a chair without first mentally assessing whether it would bear my weight.  In restaurants or large conference halls where tables and chairs are often close together, I’d worry that there wouldn’t be enough room for me to walk between tables without bumping into people or having to ask someone to pull themselves closer to their own tables.

I could list a dozen other examples.  Let me tell you, this constant state of hyperawareness of my size created a lot of stress and tension.

I’m still a larger woman, but I’m a lot less large than I used to be.  I wish I’d lost as much of the hyperawareness, but it’s still present.  However, I’m retraining myself one circumstance at a time.   Whenever I encounter a situation where my body fits better, I take the time to really acknowledge that it’s happened.  I note how it feels.  Doing this not only reduces fear and tension, it also creates smiles and happiness.

When I first went out on my boat, I’d already lost a good chunk of weight.  I could definitely feel the difference just in swinging my leg over the gunwhale.  Then I sat in my captain’s seat and looked at how much more space existed between my stomach and the steering wheel.

The other night while sat at the bar (on a high stool that I was able to much more easily boost myself up on) with my friends, the rest of the restaurant filled up.  When we turned to leave, I had a moment of sharp concern that there wouldn’t be enough room in between the different parties for me to navigate gracefully through the room.  I paused and studied the open space, then had to deliberately remind myself that I am physically smaller than I was months ago.  Maybe at my largest weight I would have had difficulty.   Now, even if some of the spaces were a little tight, they weren’t too tight for me to glide through.

Earlier this evening I drove to a local restaurant to meet friends.  Most of the parking spaces in the lot were already filled except for one between a small sedan and a larger truck.  I figured out that if I pulled in slowly and adjusted, I could fit my SUV in that space, but I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to then open my car door wide enough to exit without having to squeeeeeeeze out.  Six months ago, it would have been a very tight fit and I don’t think I would have succeeded.  Tonight it was still a tight fit, but my body didn’t rub against any part of my car as I got out.  I walked out smiling.

Each one of these examples stands as an NSV.  They also help me rewire my thought patterns.  Each time I fit into or through a smaller space, or sit in a different chair and know that it’s strong enough to hold me, I make a little more progress retraining my perception of my own size.  That, my friends, is truly fitting.

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