Weighty Matters

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Recognizing Strength from Weakness

Almost 20 years ago, I was very involved in OA.  I worked a strong program with three or four meetings a week.  I abstained from compulsive overeating and binging for months at a time.  Without following a popular diet, I dropped 50 or more pounds.

Even more than working the 12 steps, I believed in them.  They lived in me and provided an excellent guideline for my daily choices.  In those days, I honestly believed that I could and would achieve long term success and remake my life into something far healthier physically, emotionally and mentally.

Not that maintaining abstinence is ever easy, but a program friend at the time struggled constantly and despite hard work and effort, never achieved abstinence for any significant amount of time.  I remember clearly the day she told me she was looking into having gastric bypass surgery.  I was dismayed!  I feared for her and, even more, felt badly that it seemed like she was giving up on herself.

A few years later, another friend made the same decision.  I had a pretty similar reaction.

I’ve said before that I resisted even considering having surgery myself for years and years.  Right now I can’t help but wonder how much of that was legitimate fear and how much was me comfortably living in denial.    I was talking to a friend tonight who lives the struggle daily with food and overeating.  She understands all the issues.  I shared with her that a year ago, I was broken down and as low as I’ve ever been about my obesity.   Even last year when I had my defining moment and decided to investigate bariatric surgery for myself, I felt like the moment came from weakness.  I don’t have word-for-word memory of what my friend said, but the gist was that it’s time to think about this choice differently.

She’s right.

It’s only in hindsight that I see the difference.  Making the decision, commiting to the plan of action, and all the many things that come with that action plan, aren’t acts of weakness, they’re examples of strength.   It’s kind of funny that it’s taken so long for me to truly internalize this realization.  Once I made the decision and started the process of consulting with the surgeon, doing all of the evaluations, talking to people about it, I never felt weak.  I felt stronger and rejuvenated.  The positive action changed everything.   The changes still happen on an almost daily basis.

To be honest, whenever I’ve been with someone suffering a different disease, I had reacted differently than I did with my program friends.  When my mother’s relapse took her so far down that she couldn’t get back to sobriety without going to rehab, I told her she was making a strong choice for her own well being.  I dated a man with bi-polar disorder.  He had a hard time accepting that he needed professional treatment and that the therapist and team were allies to his recovery.  I would never, ever have thought that Mom or my ex seeking treatment indicated that they were weak.

With my friends, however,  I reacted out of my own fears.  I didn’t understand that they weren’t “giving in” or caving.  They were choosing what they needed.  Their choices took guts.   I wish I could go back and contact those friends from long ago. I owe them amends.  I don’t know how to reach them, unfortunately.

At least for today I can acknowledge that I was wrong and that I definitely see things differently now.  I’m really glad that I’m acknowledging the strength in myself, too.

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Making a Choice is a Power Move

I owe the title of this blog to Skye.  She said it first in her comment on yesterday’s blog.   Making a choice is a power move.  I love this and the strength inherent in its simple truth.

When I think of the worst times of compulsive overeating and binging, I remember feeling completely out of control and helpless to stop.  I know that, at the heart of things, it was my choice to pick up food and shove it into my mouth, but it didn’t feel like it.  The disease seemed much more powerful.

The times that I successfully avoided over eating required conscious choice too, and those were the power moves.  At least, they were the moves when I felt powerful, versus overpowered by the compulsion.

I’m coming up on a year from when I made the decision to pursue weight loss surgery.  That decision came after a couple of years of doing nothing proactive to help my health.  Again, somewhere along the way I chose to do nothing.  This all leads me to believe that there are passive choices and active choices.

I prefer the active.  Those are the ones that feel like they restore positive power to me and get or keep me moving in the right direction.   Passive acts, letting things roll over me while I live in an unhealthy state of mind, body and spirit, suck away power and light.

Today, I lived within the power of my ability to make positive choices.  I chose to plan my meals and then chose to consume them as planned.  I chose to change into a bathing suit and work out in the pool after work.  I chose to eat a healthy snack instead of something that would fill me with empty calories of no real nutritional value.

We have a great corporate coach at work.  She says that every single day we can make a conscious choice about our attitude and approach to our lives.  She suggest we make that choice before our feet hit the floor.  Somedays, it’s hard to reach for the great attitude, particularly if you’re in the midst of challenging times on any level.  On those days, even if we aren’t feeling it, I think it’s acceptable to “fake it until we make it”.  We can act as if the day is going to shine like a perfectly cut, polished diamond.  We can make that choice.

Making a choice is a power move.  Thanks for that, Skye!

Tonight I feel pretty damn powerful.

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Shaking Up the Body

My weight loss stalled for a couple of weeks.  As much as I know to expect these stalls occasionally, I’m only human.  I respond better to steady progress and get frustrated when my body doesn’t fall in with my plans.   Honestly, it isn’t like my body can say, “Sorry, Mary.  I’ll try to do better.”  Over the weekend I made the choice to stop worrying and getting annoyed with myself.  I was pretty active with all of the lifting of planters and big bag of potting soil, water exercise, walking around and shopping, etc.  I also decided that eating a few more carbs than usual wouldn’t torpedo my entire effort.  Nor would that glass of fresh white sangria at dinner on Saturday night or the truly delicious piece of Dove chocolate I allowed myself yesterday.

These little variations apparently pleased my body.  The weight is coming off again.  I’m trying not to obsess with the scale numbers, but I will probably check a little more often because the positive reinforcement of seeing steady loss again after a stall actually helps.

There’s something even more significant at play here that I need to acknowledge.  It’s important for me to note mental and emotional progress in my day to day recovery effort.  The fact that I can allow myself these little variations here and there and then go right back to the regular food plan is huge.  In the past, if I veered off of one of the multiple restrictive diets I followed, it could signal the end of whatever success I’d had to that point.  The smallest slip could set off a chain reaction and send me right back to full blown overeating and bingeing.

I’m really studying the difference between my experience now and past events.   Believe me the difference is significant.  That I can make a conscious choice when to eat “off plan” and when to get back on it tells me that for today my recovery from compulsive eating is strong and in good shape.  It’s all about actually being conscious and not blindly grabbing for food.  I feel really good about this tonight, but I’m also far from being complacent.  I’ll remain vigilant about my behavior around food at the same time that I celebrate the successes.

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Fun Day, Sunday & Satisfaction

Yesterday I took my own advice and really celebrated my own happiness.  For me, this took the form of doing things that I enjoy.  It greatly pleased me to go to Tai Chi class in the morning and then spend an hour filling my planters with flowers.  I totally love that bright teacup design.  I can’t wait for the second planter to arrive.

After planting yesterday, I jumped into the pool for some exercise and also pool cleaning.  My little pool makes me happy.  I love being able to go in to exercise or relax whenever I want.  After that activity, I showered and headed down to Key West (about an hour away) for a little shopping.   You know those folks who find it recreational and fun to browse in malls for hours on end?  I’m not one of them.  I really have to be in the mood and have specific goals.  Yesterday,  I wanted to visit Pier One in search of a small table for the porch.   I also wanted to shop a store that had a good selection of sneakers/walking shoes.

The last couple of times that I’ve purchased sneakers online, I haven’t been happy.  I wear a 10 EE and even when the manufacturer specifies that they do wide-widths, the womens’ styles end up crowding my toes.  It is very difficult to walk any distance or do any extended activity if your toenails hurt!  There isn’t much difference in style between the footwear made for men or women, so I thought it was a good idea to visit an actual store and try on different pairs before buying.  The salesperson was very helpful, although he really wanted me to at least try the electric day-glo yellow walking shoes.  He finally accepted that I wasn’t, in his words, “feeling them” and brought me a few other styles.  I walked around the store in each pair before finally settling.  Mission accomplished!

Traveling on to Pier One in the next shopping plaza down the road, I spotted a charming, colorful, sort of funky woven table with a large woven daisy in the center.  The decorating scheme for my porch has swiftly become eclectic.  Nothing matches in style or color, but somehow it’s all going to work — from the eggplant finish of the plantation-style chair and ottoman to the white Adirondack style rocker to the (once it finally arrives) off-white wicker loveseat with the midnight blue cushions.  All of these, remember, sit on a porch recently painted deep blue in contrast to the lavender of the house itself with the bright white columns and railing.   If all of the elements together don’t qualify for a layout feature in Outdoor Living Designs Magazine, I don’t care.  The pieces are comfortable and they make me happy.

While in Pier One, I wandered around just for fun.  They really stock a lot of whimsical items.   A set of china measuring cups caught my eye.  I don’t need them for cooking, but I immediately thought that they would make great, small cups for me to eat from.  I can measure my portion and serve myself in the same piece!  Next to them on the shelf sat an adorable deep purple-blue berry colander.  When I buy berries, I don’t immediately wash the entire container.  I rinse what I want as I’m ready to eat them, so having a smaller colander, rather than always pulling out one of my bigger ones is a perfect idea.  Did I absolutely need this thing?  No, but between the cuteness, color and potential functionality it made me smile, so I bought that too.

Just look at these things.  Who could resist?

A little while ago, I spooned low fat yogurt into the 1/3 cup measure and sliced up the berries for a snack.   I know it would have tasted just as good in a plain white ramekin, but my overall pleasure was increased because it looked so darn pretty in the little flower bowl.

After I finished shopping, I met up with a friend who lives in Key West.  We then picked up another friend who’d just flown in.  My friend Em has heard me speak about wanting to find restaurants that serve small portions of really flavorful food.  She suggested we go to dinner at a place in town that serves a Tapas-style menu.  My friends, this experience was so terrific, I now fervently wish someone would open a similar place in my town.  The menu offerings were amazing!  Three or four soups and several salads, which the server said were large so one was usually shared by a party.  Then they had at least 15 cold tapas offerings including an exotic cheese platter, hummus plate, different veggies and many other things.  The hot tapas selection was even greater.  I didn’t count the choices, but there were at least 20, maybe 25, representing many different cuisines.

Everything sounded absolutely delicious and it took awhile for me to narrow it down.  I finally decided on two, knowing that I wouldn’t finish them, but craving the opportunity to try a variety.  For my first plate, I chose dates stuffed with goat cheese, wrapped in proscuitto.  Pardon me while I sound like a Food Network chef, but the crisp saltiness of the proscuitto paired with the chewy sweetness of the date and the creamy tang of the melting goat cheese combined for a small, flavorful bite of joy.  There were six on the plate, of which I ate three.  For my second choice, I opted for herb crusted beef tenderloin with a topping of melted bleu cheese.  Picture a small round filet mignon sliced crosswise into thirds  and you’ll have an idea of the portion size.  It was a tender, perfect medium-rare serving with delicate herbs and just enough bleu cheese for extra flavor depth.  I savored the three bites that I ate after the three dates.  I had a bite of my friend’s croquetta and was full.   The only thing better than that tapas meal was knowing that I could take home the rest of the meat and dates to enjoy a second time!

My friends and I chatted, laughed and thoroughly savored our meal.  It was such an enjoyable evening.  I found myself smiling about it for most of my ride home.

After a leisurely morning sitting on the porch with a cup of tea, the Sunday newspaper and my dogs, I ventured out to do my food shopping for the next few days.  I’m trying a recipe in the slow cooker with chicken breasts, low cal honey barbeque sauce and fresh pineapple.   I’ve noticed that if I eat chicken, it has to be really, really moist or I have problems.  My friend told me about this dish and swears that the chicken is fall-apart tender, so we’ll see.   On my way to the supermarket, I stopped by Home Depot for two bright planters for my gardenia bush and my small Meyer Lemon tree.  Yes, more color for the porch! I finished repotting a short time ago.

It’s the middle of the afternoon and I’ve completed the things I really wanted to do on my Sunday.  The Phillies are playing the Braves and TBS is carrying the game, so I have a chance to see my Phils in action.  (They’re having a horrible year, but I still love being able to watch a game.)  I’m going to pick up my sequinning, settle into the recliner and watch the rest of the game.   It will be one more way to make myself happy on what has, so far, been a really terrific weekend.

 

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Obsessing Over What’s Right

I went to a massage therapist/intuitive healer yesterday.  I clench my jaw and grind my teeth at night and am supposed to wear a night guard.  I usually don’t mind it except that for the last several months I’ve had to use the CPAP machine at night.  Even though the mask for that is relatively small, wearing the mask and the night guard bothers me.  So, I stopped wearing the guard which isn’t good for my  mouth and teeth.  *le sigh*

Hopefully when the pulmonologist sees how much weight I’ve lost at my followup appointment in August he’ll schedule another sleep study and we’ll find out that I no longer need the CPAP.  (Maybe I’m getting my hopes up too soon but it’s possible!)  Until then, I need to do something about the clenched jaw.  The dental hygenist suggested I see a massage therapist, so I did.  The woman is amazing.  Before she does any work, she does hands on reading of energy, muscles, etc.  She then proceeded to work on my head, neck and mouth for an hour.  I could feel tight muscles loosen up and go soft.  She also suggested that I stick my tongue between my teeth and lips when I go to sleep and see if that prevents my jaw from clamping down.

During the treatment she asked me what I obsess over before I go to sleep that results in the tension.   Most nights I don’t.  Unlike some rougher times in my life, I don’t have chronic, ever lingering anxiety.  I get tense over some situations.  If something upsetting or annoying happened during the day I might still focus on that with repetitive thought or replay conversations in my mind.  The massage therapist and I both observed how quickly we go to what might be wrong and look for the negative.

I observed that it would be great if we more often obsessed over what’s right.   I’ve been obsessing over this idea ever since. 🙂

I have a happy life.  I recognize and appreciate this every day and don’t go around waiting for the sky to fall or something else to happen to mess up things and take away my happiness.  However, today I’m musing over whether I should stop acting like happiness is commonplace  and do more to celebrate its presence in my life.

Over on Reinventing Fabulous, Sundays are usually given to sharing things that made us happy during the week.  That’s a good start because the exercise helps us connect to those moments or events.

Happiness should not be taken for granted.    I’ve come to believe that it deserves to be nurtured.  Just like dwelling in negativity can breed more of the same, happiness begets more happiness.  I’m going to make it a point to celebrate good things

Today I’m going to experiment with obsessing over what’s right and celebrate my happy life.  It’s already a good day.  I enjoyed Tai Chi class this morning.  The rain clouds have passed and I have several plants in the car ready to be arranged in planters.  I ordered an quirky, adorable planter that’s shaped like a brightly colored teacup.  (I have another teacup planter also on order but it hasn’t arrived yet.)  Just the planter makes me smile and I can’t wait to see it with the flowering plants I bought a short time ago.  I have another planter for the pool deck and a flowering shrub that I’m going to plant beneath some palm trees.  I love flowers!  Right now I have a small arrangement of peachy-pink roses on the table in front of me.  Once I finish planting, I’ll have brightly colored flowers inside and out.  That’s a hit of happy I’ll enjoy day after day.  When I’m done I’ll take pictures and share my happiness here.  That will be another form of celebration.

Enjoy your day, everyone.   Look for what’s right and spend some time obsessing over it.  Celebrate what makes you happy!

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Edited to add pictures.  I wish I’d found a whiskey barrel planter that was a bit taller, but this is still fine.  It will also be easier to move in case of a storm event later this season.  I totally love my funky tea cup planter.  Another one that’s patterned like a French postcard is due today or Monday.  I go outside, look at them and smile.

             

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It Occurs to Me . . .

. . . that I’m really hard on myself sometimes.   I’m sort of a sporadic perfectionist.  Marti, who comments here sometimes, and I have known each other about 50 years.  She has said that I’m a type-A personality.  I don’t normally cite Wikipedia as a valid source, but this appears to be a pretty accurate description of Type A:  “. . .ambitious, rigidly organized, highly status conscious, can be sensitive, care for other people, are truthful, impatient, always try to help others, take on more than they can handle, want other people to get to the point, proactive, and obsessed with time management. People with Type A personalities are often high-achieving “workaholics” who multi-task, push themselves with deadlines, and hate both delays and ambivalence.”

Type B people are supposedly the “. . . perfect contrast to those with Type A personalities. People with Type B personalities are generally apathetic, patient, relaxed, easy-going, no sense of time schedule, having poor organization skills, and at times lacking an overriding sense of urgency.

Based on this I’m more A- / B+.  I can be very laid back and procrastinate with the best or worst of them.  I’m organized in my own fashion when it comes to tasks and projects, but my office overfloweth with piles of unfiled papers.  Status conscious?  Not so much.  Low resistance for dithering — absolutely.  Apathetic?  Rarely. High achiever — at least in the workforce.  And so on and so on.

I do know that I have more patience with someone else’s screw ups than I do with my own.  It’s like it’s okay for someone else to be human and make mistakes, but I don’t tolerate it so much in myself.  I’ve written before about my less than stellar performance in college, but when I graduated and went to work I was super responsible, productive and driven to be the best copywriter that radio station had ever hired.

Even before that, when I was a teenager and we had some issues at home with ill grandparents, my mom developing alcoholism, and other stuff, I had the reputation as a champion coper.  No matter what, I could handle it.

I’m proud of the job that I do and always, always, always want to do it to the best of my ability — and I consider my ability to be pretty high up the scale.

So it puzzles me how I could not drive myself to achieve a healthy weight for most of my life.    I wonder if, deep in my subconscious, overeating became my outlet.  Perhaps when I was a teenager, instead of always being proud that I could cope so well, my folks should have stopped and said, “But is it fair to ask her to cope with so much?”

On top of the Type-Aish overachieving stuff, remember that I also battled horrid body image and low self-esteem.  I think to some extent, I used overeating and being fat as a way to invalidate myself.   It occurs to me that the self-esteem issue made it a challenge to accept my strengths, creative abilities, and successes.  The same time that I was working so hard to measure up, inside a fearful side of me worked to demonstrate that I never would manage the task.

Thinking too highly or too little of ourselves isn’t healthy.  Balance and objectivity about our qualities — both positive and negative — keeps us on an even keel.  It’s good to take responsibility in appropriate measures, but harmful to beat ourselves up over less than optimal results or situations.  I’m not saying that we should be egotistical and arrogant, but at some point in our lives we should own that which is fabulous about ourselves.

Several years ago, I was introduced to a quote by Marianne Williamson.  (At the time, it was attributed to Nelson Mandela.)  It reads:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

It occurs to me that I need to study on this some more and find that balance.   It’s okay to be imperfect.  It’s perfectly okay to not beat ourselves up over it.

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The Numbers Game

I feel like my weight loss is a little stalled.  Okay, if I’m being honest I haven’t stalled but the rapid rate of pounds dropping has slowed down a little over the last 10 days.

Oh how quickly we grow accustomed to losing three to five pounds a week so losing “only” two pounds feels like a stall.  I’m telling myself to not be ridiculous.  Two pounds are still two pounds and as long as I’m sticking to my food plan and exercising, the weight will continue to come off smoothly and steadily.

The rational adult side of me knows this and is satisfied.  The childish side of me that sometimes comes out to whine says, “But I want to lose fasssterrr!”   That child is tired of thinking, “I’ve lost almost 95 pounds.”   Yes, I admit it.  I wanted to lose 100 pounds at the six month mark.   It was  a secret, seemingly impossible, goal that I set in my head.  If I count by number of weeks, then a week from today will be 24 weeks since my surgery.  Divide that by the average of four weeks to a month and next week counts as 6 months.  I don’t think that I’m going to lose seven pounds in the next seven days.

If I go by the actual calendar date, I can calculate it differently.  I had the surgery on January 25th.  So, perhaps I should really make July 25th the six month mark instead.   I’m positive I can lose the full 100 pounds by then.   If the mathematic month manipulation brings me positive reinforcement, why not?  That’s my decision and I’m sticking to it!

It’s probably not a good idea to focus so strongly on the numbers and I swear that I’m not completely obsessing.  My mood and spirit do not generally fluctuate depending on what I see on the scale.  I know that I’m doing the work and progress will be made.   The most important thing is for me to remember that every day is another step down the road on the journey.  One day at a time I need to stay on track and I’ll get there.

Holy wow.  Look what I’ve done just since January!  That’s what I need to remember when the whiny side makes an appearance.  It should be enough to shut her up.

I was talking to my sister-in-law earlier today and told her that these two pounds were being stubborn.  She reminded me to just keep walking.  Right now, walking is not the most pleasant activity in Florida.  While, ironically, it isn’t as hot here as it is in most of the rest of the country, I don’t love it with the sun baking down on me.  I am, however, committed to just keep moving.  I’m exercising in the pool multiple evenings a week.  I’m faithful to my Tai Chi.  I haven’t been back to Zumba, but next week I am determined to try one of the regular classes to see if I can keep up.  Today I tried a new workout program that I heard about from my friend Beth.  (Hi, B!)  It stars Valerie Bertinelli and her personal trainer.  I popped in the DVD and picked the 20 minute beginner program.  If you’re looking for a program led by friendly, non-intimidating people that actually does deliver some cardio and strength training, this is a good place to start.  There were a couple of floor exercises that I couldn’t quite manage all of the way, but when the program was over, I could feel the positive effects.  I’d also worked up a sweat and boosted my heart rate.

I’m going to supplement my other efforts with this program for a while and then step up to their 40 minute workout.  I also realized mid-way through that I can use several of the exercises in the pool which will increase the effects of that effort.

Is anyone else a Finding Nemo fan?  In it Dory the blue tang (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) reminds herself to just keep swimming.  Just keep swimming.  When it comes to my journey, playing the numbers game, and continuing to exercise, I’m taking Dory as inspiration and will just keep moving.  Just keep moving.

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Medical Necessities

A dear friend has started the process to have weight loss surgery.  She’s chosen a surgeon and attended his seminar about different options, then met with his surgical coordinator.  Now she needs to schedule the many appointments with different specialists and have a number of examinations and tests.  These are all medically necessary to give an accurate picture of her overall health and clear her for the surgery.

About this time last year I first went to a weight loss seminar and then to the consultation with the surgeon.  Before I left that appointment, they gave me a letter for my primary care physician which listed all of those many tests.  I already knew by then that my health insurance plan wouldn’t cover the actual surgery, but when I looked at the required procedures, I crossed my fingers and hoped that they would at least be covered.  Thankfully, they were, probably because there wasn’t a single test that a doctor wouldn’t reasonably prescribe for someone who is super obese.

Over the next few months I was scanned, scoped, poked, prodded, tested, examined and asked the same questions about my personal and family health history over and over and over again.  In case you’re wondering, by the time the pre-surgical procedures were complete, I’d had:

  • Extensive blood tests — twice
  • A cardiologist exam, EKG, chest x-ray and echocardiogram
  • Pulmonology study and two overnight sleep tests
  • Upper and lower G.I. endoscopy
  • Psychiatric evaluation

Many bariatric patients also have to undergo a nuclear stress test.  I’d had two of them five years prior and neither time was fun.  When the cardiologist told he he didn’t see the need, I almost hugged him in the office and did a happy dance on the way out.

I share all this because, honestly, a lot of people don’t realize how involved the journey is before you even have the surgery.  I also know that most of us would skip as many of these tests as we could if the doctors and hospital would let us get away with it.  I sure would have and that would not have been in my best interest.  In fact, it would have been an enormous risk.  Not that risking my health was anything new to me.  Look how long I’d been obese, than morbidly obese, then beyond that — all the time knowing, but shutting out of my mind, that I was risking early death from heart attack, stroke, cancer or numerous other conditions.

Then we can factor in that many extremely overweight people avoid going to the doctor even for regular check ups.  I was better about that in recent years, but there were stretches of time before when I neglected to have even the most important, routine examinations.  I metaphorically buried my head in the sand and ignored common sense and rational thought.  Over the years, I hated going in for checkups or anything else, pretty much because I didn’t want to face the scale and the doctor and hear the lecture I knew I deserved.  Because of this, God only knows how long I had high blood pressure and Type II diabetes before I was actually diagnosed and put on medication a few years ago.  I’ve probably suffered sleep hypopnia for several years, too, but never got tested until last fall.

The worst experience of getting lectured by a doctor happened in 2007 when I had acute gall bladder problems.  Suffering great discomfort, I finally went to see the doctor.  After asking a few questions and examining me for five minutes, he concluded it was my gall bladder and wrote orders for further diagnostic tests I could have the next morning.  He was positive I’d need surgery and arranged everything so that I could have it after the tests.  He then launched into a lengthy scold of why I absolutely had to have weight loss surgery.  I was literally lying in pain on his examination table while he went on and on and on.  I just nodded and told him I’d think about it, but right then I was only thinking about getting through the night.

The following morning I went into the hospital where a scan confirmed that a sizeable gall stone had blocked a duct.  An hour later I was in surgery.  The following day when the doctor came in to write my discharge orders, he took the time to lecture me again about weight loss surgery.  In fact, he came thisclose to telling me I was stupid to put it off.

Looking back, I realize that, even though he’d done the surgery laparascopically with less invasion, I could have died just from the anasthesia because we really didn’t have a clear picture of my overall health.

So last fall, when I got the list of what I’d need to do before I would be cleared for the bariatric procedure, I didn’t really complain.  I’d come to see the medical necessity of learning everything we could about my condition inside and out.   When all was said and done, I was pretty happy with the results.  Hypertension, sleep hypopnia and high blood sugar aren’t great, but hot damn, the results could have been so much worse.

It is so much better and healthier to not blind ourselves to our own reality.  Not investigating whether problems exist does not mean they won’t develop.  It’s enough of a risk to be overweight without ratcheting up that risk level by ignoring life-threatening problems.  I’d urge anyone who is obese, whether or not they’re contemplating weight loss surgery, to bite the bullet and go to the doctor.  Get an in depth assessment of your condition.  Find out if there’s something bad going on in your body and treat it.  Not matter what happens after, you’ll be better off in those moments.

By the way, now that I’m almost six months post-surgery, conditions are improving.  I haven’t taken Metformin since the surgery but my blood sugar has dropped around 50 points.  My blood pressure is consistently lower than it was even though the medication is the same.  I won’t be surprisd if the doctor has me try going off one of the two pills to see how I do.  I feel like my heart is strong, my breathing improved, and my body stronger than I ever guessed.  Best of all, it’s only going to continue to get better from here!

 

 

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Changing Perception

I didn’t take lunch today.  It’s not that I didn’t plan ahead, I actually did, and today I planned to order chicken salad from the lunch truck at work.  I took strawberries and a cheese stick for my two snacks.  See?  I did plan.

When I picked up my order, the first thing I thought was, “Wow.  This is a lot of food.”

Tonight I cooked a thin-cut rib eye steak for dinner.  When it was finished, I forked it over to my plate and thought, “That looks delicious.”  Then the oddest sensation came over me, like I was forgetting something important.  It took a few beats, but then I remembered, oh yeah, I can’t eat an entire steak.

These reactions, more than the way my stomach feels when I’ve had enough, tell me that my head is changing. Honestly, in the pre-wls days, I rarely looked at “normal” portions and thought, “This is a lot of food” or even more to the point, “This is too much food.” I might have said that sometimes, but if I did it was most likely more for show, to make it sound better when I was around other people.

When I was on a diet, I’d practice portion control and always take less than what I usually ate.  Every time I felt deprived, like the smaller amounts would never be enough to satisfy my hunger.  It’s a true delight to see myself now voluntarily take less food, smaller spoonfuls, thinner pieces, and so on.  It’s even better to experience satiety with those smaller portions, or even before I’ve consumed what I put on my plate.

I still need more retraining work.  Sometimes I mete out more than I physically want or can fit in my stomach.  I’m getting better at assessing.  Although I don’t usually measure every food, I do pretty good at eyebaling the portions.

Best of all, I make my choices with clear perception and an accurate representation of what is true in the moment.  I don’t over-serve myself or pick larger varieties when out with friends.  Most entrees present too much food, so I’ve gotten good at separating out the right amount for me to eat and packing up the remainder in a to-go box.

Today I did that twice.  When I’d eaten enough of the chicken salad, I packaged it up and put it in the work fridge so that I can have more for lunch tomorrow.  Tonight, I cut my flat steak into two parts and wrapped one half up to put into the refrigerator and enjoy tomorrow.

These actions are no big deal to someone who naturally eats this way.  For me, it’s nearly a freaking miracle.  I’m working on always being aware of my portions and to deal with them meal by meal if necessary.  Seeing the changes in my food and eating perception really inspires me with ever more hope.

I am successfully doing this.  I believe I will succeed long term, not return to my older disease-ridden eating behaviors.  That’s a big change in perception that I now believe with go on and on and on and on.

 

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Weekend Eating

Whenever I dieted, it was always more difficult for me to stick to the plan on weekends.  For me, as a compulsive/binge eater, food and the eating of it was almost always on my mind.  When I wasn’t dieting, I’d still obsess about whether I’d have access to the food I needed/wanted/craved.  I’d stock up for the weekend and then make regular trips to the fridge or pantry cabinet.  Maybe I’d only take a little each time, but multiple that by many times and the food and calories added up.

During diet times, I as most likely to fall off the good plan wagon on the weekends, particularly if I didn’t make lots of plans that got me out of the house.  Food was in the house, calling to me, luring me to take a taste, a bite, a sliver, a heaping spoonful.

Alcoholics in recovery are strongly encouraged to keep a dry house — no alcohol or even products that contain alcohol, such as some mouthwashes.  That way if someone is tempted to take a drink, the stuff isn’t readily accessible.  Seriously, when you have an addictive disease, the compulsion always lurks inside to some degree.  Even if someone mentally/emotionally doesn’t want the drink of they’re around alcohol, it could trigger their disease, thwarting their conscious decision making process.

I am in no way suggesting that recovering alcoholics have it easier than compulsive eaters.  Let me state that up front so that everyone’s clear.  🙂  There are, however, some differences, just like there are between alcohol addiction and illegal drug addiction.  An adult alcoholic can legally buy his/her drug of choice in any liquor store, bar, etc.  A coke or heroin addict needs to score the drugs somewhere and can be arrested and prosecuted for buying, possessing, or using.

For a food addict/compulsive eater, the choice is whether to give into the behavior of compulsive eating or binging.  It is not eat or don’t eat.  We have to put food in our mouths and stomachs multiple times each day in order to survive.  My friends and I in OA used to call it letting the beast out of the cage.  It is really difficult for a food addict to keep the equivalent of a dry house.  Part of my success relies on me having the appropriate foods available to me for every meal — which is roughly six times a day.  It would be highly impractical for me to leave the house and go get something each time.  What’s more, engaging in that routine would, I believe, ultimately lead to me eating more junk food instead of healthy choices.

For as long as I can remember, as long as I stuck to the routine of planning my day’s meals and taking my food with me to work, I did better during the week.  There were not as many opportunities for me to cheat and those chances that came up were not insurmountable.  I was around people and could satisfy myself with a sliver rather than a slab.

Even now, weekends are harder, but I’m finding that I’m consistently doing better at handling them, one meal at a time.  I don’t keep junk food in the house.  I do my best to have healthy stuff around that fits my plan — like fresh berries instead of packages of cookies.  That kind of planning and preparation helps a lot.

Plus, I continue to work on my mindset.  I’m learning to reinforce the positive habits and healthier thinking that I’m developing.  I do not need to live my life controlled by food and an eating disorder.   I can be stronger than my disease.

I tell myself a lot these days that food is not a big deal.  I believe if I continue to embrace this thinking, I can reduce the power of the obsession.  I don’t have to focus on what’s around to eat, how much can I have, will I be able to get what I want and all of the other obsessive thoughts.  I can substitute other thoughts and devote my mental energy to other things, adding in more physical tasks as well.

Am I always 100% successful?  At this point, no, but I’m definitely improving.  It’s important to remember that this is progress not perfection.  One day at a time I believe I can make it so that weekend eating is no different and no more difficult than any other day of the week.

Hope you’re all enjoying a lovely weekend doing things that you enjoy!

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