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Disproportionate Portions

I serve on the board of a local organization and today was our quarterly meeting. We usually get together over lunch and today’s meeting was held at a restaurant with a rep for delicious food. I think I’ve eaten there once before but it was several years ago and I don’t remember what I ate.

In perusing the menu the first thing I noticed was that they had two entire sections touted as “Small Plates”. One was Small Plates-Turf with seafood based dishes; the other Small Plates-Earth. There were several yummy sounding offerings and I finally settled on an eggplant stack with goat cheese over a marinara sauce.

When my meal came, I realized that my concept of “small plate” is a lot smaller than the restaurants. I guess I was thinking about the tiny servings I experienced at the tapas restaurant so I didn’t expect five slices of eggplant. Granted, each slice was a little smaller in diameter than the one before so that they could all prettily stack in a tower, but that sure seemed like more than a small plate serving. BTW, I could only eat half of the dish before I was full.

There have been a lot of times when I’ve gone out to eat with friends and been amazed at the huge portions we were served. I know that my perspective of portions has completely changed since my surgery, but you know what? The portions in most restaurants are huge. Most dinner entrees could easily feed two people — or feed me four times. That isn’t an exageration. I’ve gone to dinner, boxed what I didn’t eat, and then enjoyed the rest over three additional meals.

It’s hard for me to accept that there was a time when I could eat the entire entree myself at that one meal. That was then and this is now. I finally understand all the articles and news stories that quote experts who say that the reason that obesity is rampant in our country is because we are all accustomed to large serving sizes.

This made me remember back to the year that my family and I lived in France. We were there in 1967-68 when I was nine years old. Even 45 years ago, Americans were eating too much. How many times have you gone to a supermarket deli counter and ordered a half a pound or more of sliced meat or cheese to feed a family? In the French countryside, women would go to the market and order four slices of ham, four slices of cheese and a bagette to serve lunch to their family of four!

My mother, bless her, wasn’t the most proficient at speaking French. (She studied German in high school and switching to a romance language when she was in her 40s created issues.) She’d mess up a lot. Most of the time, this wasn’t a big problem, but the local market staff and butcher were convinced she’d ordered wrong no matter what she said. One time she and Dad had planned an elaborate dinner party for his colleagues. She was going to make a crown rib roast and placed the meat order with the butcher. When she unwrapped the package at home, she saw that he hadn’t given her nearly enough “ribs” for the guest list. He figured she’d ordered too much by accident and gave her what he thought she probably really needed.

Thank goodness Daddy got home in time to run down to the butcher and get more meat. He then employed his surgeon skills to make the two portions into one roast for Mom’s gorgeous presentation.

The smaller portions didn’t mean that the French weren’t eating well. French cuisine is divine! If anything, the way that they eat is good evidence that you can eat well without eating a lot.

Which is sort of where I am with the whole food thing. I want to eat delicious food but only in the amount that I need. I’ve come to accept that I will continue to run into disproportionate portions, regardless of whether the restaurant advertises small plates.

I just need to remember that no matter what amount I’m actually served, I only need to eat what I actually need. It’s no big deal not to finish what’s on my plate. That’s why there are to-go boxes!

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The Ups and Downs and Not Eating

Delight over my one year checkup, progress and the upcoming Hawaii trip aside, there have been some tough times in the last four or five days too.  Without going into specifics, suffice it to say that I’ve dealt with some sad events, some aggravating situations, intermittent stress and what not.  In other words, life.  The major difference is in how I deal with the ebbs and flows of happenings and the not-always-cheery emotions they engender.

I’m not eating over them.  Even more amazing is that I’m not struggling to not eat over them.  Amazing is not too strong a word for this realization.  You’ve heard me talk often enough about the massive quantities of food that I used to eat.  Not using food to cope is such an improvement, I think it’s equally massive.   Being so relaxed about it is also impressing me.

Honestly, I didn’t even think about this until just now.  That’s how natural and relaxed the new behavior is to me tonight.

I had a fairly stressful day at work with a couple of big aggravations.  I’m capable of working under pressure.  I just knuckle down, focus and get it done.  That doesn’t mean that having to do so doesn’t stress me out.  In the past, I’d usually coped by eating while I worked and then making poor food choices for the rest of the day at home.

Tonight, I left work, drove home to let out the dogs and pay the boat mechanice.  I then changed into my workout clothes and went to Zumba.  Once I got home, I went calmly went about the business of getting dinner — on my food plan in the appropriate quantities — eating, and easing into the evening.

No going back for seconds.  No cramming food into my mouth to stuff down the stress.  No diving into sugars or carbs for the sedative effects.   I cruised the ups and downs and dealt with them without compulsive eating.   I’m not always perfect, but I believe I’m seeing more days like this and that’s a terrific improvement.  I’m glad that I noticed.   It’s important to acknowledge my progress so that I can build on it again and again as I travel forward.

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Different Choices

My trip to Hawaii is just around the corner.  I leave next week and am mega-excited.  I’ve always been one to get very excited about things, particularly trips.  When I was a kid, my parents would put off telling me about upcoming family vacations because I wouldn’t sleep well for weeks.  One time they waited until we’d left a neighborhood kid’s bar mitzvah and were on our way home to get our luggage to then head for the airport before they revealed that we were going to Florida.  I was the last one in the family to know we were moving to France for a year when I was nine.  Dad and Mom finally told me six months before we left.  I wonder if they would have delayed even more but they’d hired a tutor to give us all French lessons.

I’ve always wanted to visit Hawaii but always put off planning a trip.  In May of 2011, my friend and I took an Alaskan cruise.  I spent extra money to pay for a first class airline ticket because I dreaded squeezing into a regular seat for a cross-country flight.  I had a wonderful time on the cruise but I was definitely hampered by my super obesity.  It was difficult for me to walk around in the ports, hell, even on the ship.  I couldn’t comfortably sit in the ship’s theater seats.  When we planned the cruise, we knew we wanted to go whale watching and do nature stuff.  Surveying the excursions, I looked for ones that were on full sized boats.  My weight definitely impacted my choices.

Everything is so much different now!  For one thing, I wouldn’t have even planned this vacation if I hadn’t lost weight.  The first class airfare would have been exorbitant.  No such worry now that I fit comfortably in a regular seat.  I’ll be fine even on the long 11 hour direct flight.  I keep telling my friend that we’re going to stand up every hour or so and do a loop around the seats to keep our blood moving.

Like before, whale watching is high on our priority list and I also love to snorkel.  Hawaii is great for both of these activities.  We have gleefully planned the water excursions with only one consideration — did the description and reviews of the excursion make it sound like something we would really enjoy?   We’ve opted for two trips that involve Zodiac inflatable boats.  I’m not the least bit concerned that I’m too fat for those vessels.  I’m confident that I will be able to get in and out without trouble.

When deciding on an excursion in Hilo, my friend read me different descriptions.  There’s a tour that includes a visit to Volcano National Park.  “It has a three mile round trip walk to the crater,” she said.  “No problem.  Sounds like fun,” I replied.

For months I’ve had ziplining on my Promise List.  I have no idea why, but I saw it on a television show and thought, “I want to do that when I lose enough weight.”  When we booked the Hawaii cruise, I started looking into zip lining excursions.  I knew there would be a weight limit, understandably so, and I promised myself that if I was less than the limit, I would sign up.  Guess what?  I am and we did!  Think of me in Kauai, hanging off lines 65 feet in the air and crossing suspension bridges.  Me.  The formerly super obese woman who couldn’t walk a couple of blocks before she grew winded from the exertion.

I won’t have a chance to post a lot while I’m away but I promise that, eventually, I will post photos.

When packing, most people think about how many dresses or pairs of slacks they should pack.  I’m debating whether to bring both my walking sneakers and my cross-trainers or just the walking sneakers.    I’d like to bring both so that I can do Zumba on the cruise ship if classes are offered.

This is such a new experience, to know that I’m not limited by my extra pounds.  From the overall trip to the separate excursions, even down to what goes into the suitcase, my life is filled with a wonderful variety of different choices.

 

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Gearing Up For Year Two

My internet connection has issues today and keeps kicking me off every few minutes.  Quite frustrating.  I’m just going to save this draft a zillion times while I write.

Many thanks for all of your enthusiastic congratulations on my first year surgiversary.  I have to say that it feels terrific!   I can’t rest on my laurels, such as they are, but need to gear up and keep moving forward in year two.  My surgeon and I finally talked about my eventual goal weight.  Honestly, I had in my head that if I could get to 185 pounds, that would be great.  I figured that by then there will probably be 20 pounds of extra skin that need to come off and then I’d be at 165.  I’m only partially kidding with my math.

The doctor told me he wants me to lose another 80 pounds.  I swear on my heart as a mature woman that I did not whine out loud but, oh, I whined in my head while I asked him why I needed to still lose so much more.  He got out his iPhone so he could use the calculator and figured out what my BMI (Body Mass Index) would be at 185 and 165.  It’s all about the numbers.

Here are some basic BMI guidelines: Normal weight = 18.5-24.9 / Overweight = 25-29.9 / Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater.

So, at 5′ 5″, at 165 pounds I’ll be at a merely overweight BMI.  At 185, my BMI would still be a titch over 30 which would mean I was still obese.

I hate numbers and math.   To be perfectly honest, he really wants me to lose more than 80 pounds, operating on the experience that when I get to goal and transition to a maintenance food plan, I’m probably going to gain back a few pounds so he wants me to have some leeway.

Sitting on the exam table listening to this, my rational mature brain absolutely saw the good sense in the plan.  At the same time, my inner child whined,  “80 more pounds?  A-a-a-aaa-teeeee more pounds?  I cannnn’t do it.  I don’t wannnnaaa.  Wahhhh. Wahhhh.”

Then Mature Mary told my inner child to suck it up.  80 pounds are not insurmountable.  I’ve lost almost twice that already and I’ve dropped 20 pounds in the last two months.  Okay, I absolutely know that the weight loss rate is not going to be as rapid as it was the first year.  I need to be completely realistic so that I don’t build unreasonable expectations and drive myself into complete frustration.  That said, for at least the next four months, I bet I can lose 8 to 10 pounds a month.  If I do that, I’ll be practically half way there, right?

One thing that my doctor said echoed something I’ve reminded myself of for weeks.  He counseled me to not get complacent.  In his words, I am right on track (Coming from him that’s high praise.) but I need to keep going.

I said a few weeks ago that complacency is the enemy of progress.  I need to print that out on a little card and carry it around with me.  Okay, maybe not.  I’ll just keep remembering it in my head.  Complacency is the enemy of progress.

I’m not going to be complacent.  Not in the least.  I’d like to knock off these last 80 pounds as fast as possible, within practical reason.

I’m totally geared up for year two!

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My One Year Surgiversary

A year ago today I had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG) for weight loss surgery.  As those of you who are long time readers of this blog know, it’s been one heck of a wonderful year.  Even though I’ve lived the journey every day, sometimes the changes and improvements amaze me.  Here’s a brief recap:

At my highest weight before the surgery, I was 386 pounds.   I’m 5′ 5″ so this meant my body mass index put me past morbid obesity into the realm of super obese.  I was on a statin drug for high cholesterol, Metformin for high blood sugar, and two different medications for high blood pressure.  I was diagnosed with sleep hypopnia and put on a CPAP machine.   I couldn’t walk more than a couple of blocks without gasping for air.  My right knee hurt all of the time and I often limped when I walked.  Going up a flight of stairs was a challenge.  My pants size, depending on the cut, was a 30 or 32.  My tops were 4X or 28 and up.

Needless to say, the quality of my life was rapidly eroding and the longevity of  my remaining life was in question.

With the VSG, the size of my stomach was reduced by 70%.   This automatically meant that I could no longer eat large quantities of food.  However, I am a compulsive overeater, so the stomach surgery only serves as a very effective tool.  In order to succeed, I had to radically change my food choices, not just in quantity but in quality.  I also needed to move from a sedentary life to one of activity and exercise.

So, here’s what’s happened in a year.   As of this morning, I’ve lost 141 pounds.  I’m wearing a size 20 pant and it won’t be long before I can get into size 18.  I wear an XL-2XL shirt, depending on the make and style.  (Mostly XL.)

I’m no longer on any medications.  My fasting blood sugar level is in the low 90s.  My cholesterol is in the normal range.  My blood pressure is normal.  Although the pulmonologist isn’t quite ready to take me off of the CPAP machine, my sleep apnea numbers have improved a great deal.  Even though I’m still overweight, my co-morbidities have already resolved!

I’ve gone from someone who dreaded moving around to a person who exercises regularly and with great enjoyment and enthusiasm.  I love Zumba class, long walks with my dogs, and Tai Chi classes.  I have more energy and less pain.  In fact, I physically feel stronger than I have since my 20s.  (I’m 55, by the way.)

I make much healthier food choices with more protein, fruits and veggies and a lot less sugar and crap carbs.  Fresh, tasty, and healthy are the key qualities I look for when I eat.

My spirit and psyche are light and energized too.  Instead of fearing that my future was short, I’m planning, embracing and trying a whole list of new adventures.   I used to feel completely limited and constrained by my super obesity.  Today I feel so fit that nothing seems impossible.  I’m up to trying just about everything!

There have been dozens of Non-Scale Victories (NSVs) occurring, from fitting comfortably in an airplane seat and not needing a seat belt extender to kayaking to shopping in a regular department store and finding clothes that fit.

Along the way, I’ve learned a lot about myself.  I’ve worked hard on my head and emotions, delving into why I overate in the past, why food was my drug of choice, how I used it to cope and, most importantly, what I need to do differently.  The surgery is only one tool in the toolkit to succeed.  The head and heart work are vital to long term success.

I still have a long way to go.  Longer, in fact, than I thought.  I saw my surgeon today.  He wants me to lose another 80 pounds so that I go below where I actually need to be.  In his experience, once patients transition to maintenance, they naturally put back on a little weight so going further will put me right in the long run.  (My reaction to hearing 80 pounds is the subject for a future blog.)

However, initial whining aside, I’m not afraid of the goal, or not much anyway.  I know that I’ve built the tools and confidence I need to get to the desired weight.  It will take diligence one meal at a time, one day at a time, but I’ll get there.  The biggest barrier to progress is complacency so I am determined to not get complacent just because I’m doing so well.

I’ve showed some photos here from time to time.  Today at the doctor’s office I asked for copies of the pictures they took of me last year before the surgery.  Then I asked them to take a couple of me today.  It’s good for me to look at them and see the photographic evidence of my progress.   For years, I hid in the backs of groups whenever someone pointed a camera in my direction.  It’s another indication of how far I’ve come, inside and out, that I’m willing to publically share these photos now. (By coincidence I wore a pink blouse each day.  Different blouses, of course!)

MaryStellaBefore1One Year - 1

MaryStellaBefore2

One Year - 2

This blog has been a big part of my overall progress.  It’s helped me identify and work through issues, kick old secrets out of the dark and into the light, and stay accountable.  I don’t know if I’d have made as much progress without writing about all of the different topics and events.   Thank you all again for being part of Weighty Matters and supporting me with your participation, encouragement and comments.  I hope you’ll stick with me for the days, weeks and months ahead.

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Heart Smiles

A friend that I don’t get to see very often came into town today.  I met her and two other women back in 2000 when I began volunteering at the dolphin center.  They and their husbands were “snowbirds” who came to the Florida Keys every winter.  The three women helped train me in my volunteer duties and we all became friends.  Over the years, their retirement plans changed and they ended up going to other places each winter, but they find a way to visit now and then.

The friend who came today, L, told me that she’ll visit again in February and one of the other ladies, B, is going to come for a few days with her.  B is experiencing a tough time lately.  Her husband has had a few strokes and is currently in a rehab center trying to build up his strength so that they can continue to live independently at an assisted living community.  It’s been a rough road for her as she takes care of him, understandably so, but fortunately they live near family.  The family is going to see that she gets some respite, hence the trip to see L in Florida.

When I learned that they’d also visit the Keys, I actually clapped my hands, rapidly, like a delighted little kid.  Then L and I agreed, emphatically, that if the two of them are going to be here, the third friend, A, should be too.  A and her husband are wintering in Arizona.  I know them both and fired off an email to her husband saying that A should join L and B.  Within an hour, we had an answering email that she’s going to come too!

During the afternoon, while watching L and her step-daughter play with some dolphins, I couldn’t stop grinning as I watched them have so much fun.  It just felt right that she was back here visiting.  I turned to a co-worker and said, “Seeing her here, knowing that the others will be here too the next time just makes my heart smile.”

I know that my heart doesn’t actually smile, but that’s how it felt.  When I’m happy, it’s like everything inside me smiles as much as my mouth.

People who don’t see me very often have commented that I seem happier these days.  Sometimes this makes me self-conscious.  I can’t help but think back to the days before my weight loss and wonder if I was plodding around with some aura of sadness that I didn’t realize.  I’ve since come to the conclusion that it isn’t so much that I was dragged down or mired in depression.  It’s just that right now, I’m on such a roll of positive energy and wonderful transformation.  It’s natural that this energy is going to manifest as extreme happiness.   I feel so great physically, mentally and emotionally, how can it not show?

When your heart smiles, it lights you up from the inside out.

I think it’s important to keep looking for and experiencing things that make my heart smile.  It’s an excellent way to live.

Perhaps I’ll make a list.  Losing weight, working out, long walks on the bridge, warm cuddles with my dogs, spending time with friends I don’t see very often.  Reading stories from friends who are making improvements in their lives.  Waking up to a beautiful sunrise.  Those are just a handful.  It isn’t important that I list them all.  It only matters that I know these things exist; That I appreciate them and feel the effect that they have on my spirit.  They add quality to my life in immeasurable ways and I’m better, and happier, as a result.

So tell me, please, what makes your heart smile?

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Med Free!

Before I had weight loss surgery, I was taking medication for various health issues.  My doctor had me on a statin drug to control high cholesterol, Metformin for high blood sugar, plus Atenolol and Ramipril to combat high blood pressure.   The day after my surgery, my bariatric surgeon told me to stop taking the statin and Metformin.   I did so, but continued to monitor my blood glucose level at home.  The fasting number kept dropping.

Throughout the last year, I’ve had blood tests several times.  We watched while the overall cholesterol number began to decrease.  As my weight went down and my exercise increased, we saw the ratio of good to bad cholesterol weight heavily in favor of the good.

In mid-December, I saw my primary care physician.  She evaluated everything and we decided we would try taking me off of the two meds for the high blood pressure.  I was to check my pressure a couple of days a week at home and see her again in a month.

That visit happened today.  In the office, my blood pressure numbers were so good that the nurse checked me twice just to be sure.  I showed my doctor my log from the last five or so weeks.  The numbers didn’t lie.  She told me I could stay off the meds and that I didn’t have to see her again until December for my annual visit!

I am now off of all of my meds.  Pharmaceutical freedom!

It’s amazing that the co-morbidities have resolved so beautifully when I’m still overweight.  I’m not sure why this happens.  I’ll have to ask my surgeon again when I see him on Friday for my one year “surgiversary”.

When all is said and done, the why doesn’t matter.  It’s only important that it’s happened.  I’m treating myself with diet and exercise and, clearly, it’s working!

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Compulsive Eater’s Equivalent of a Dry House

Recovering alcoholics are urged to keep “a dry house” which means that they need to not keep alcholic beverages in their homes.  That way if they get the compulsion to take a drink, their drug of choice is not readily at hand.  Perhaps instead of grabbing their keys and driving to a bar or a liquor store, their recovery practices will kick in and they’ll grab the phone to call an AA friend or sponsor or drive instead to a meeting.

I’ve needed to adapt this to my home.  It is ridiculous for me to think that I could have M&Ms or a batch of my own homemade brownies in the house and not eat them compulsively.  I wouldn’t have to be upset or hungry or sad or bored.  I’d want them just because they were present.   Over November and December, I wasn’t as careful with other tempting foods.  I had some things in here that I foolishly told myself I could handle or would be good for an emergency.  It doesn’t matter that I bought the 100% whole wheat English Muffins, for example, or that I only ate half a one at a time.  Because they were readily available, I found it too easy to justify smearing some peanut butter on that half and calling it a healthy choice.  Is it a horrible choice?  Not under the right conditions, but doing that twice in one day or grabbing one late at night when I wasn’t really hungry made it unhealthy.

Same thing with those packages of crackers and cheese product or crackers and peanut butter.  They were on sale at the supermarket and I thought that on those “rare” times when I needed something quick on the run, I could grab a package and have only a couple.

Yeah, right.  If I grab and open a package, the contents will be eaten.  Maybe not all at once, but within an hour for sure.   For me, having these things around all the time is not keeping a dry house.  It does not set me up for success but, instead, gives me easy access to failing.  If I think I can keep them in stock, I am not taking good care of myself.  Bottom line, someday I will be able to eat more carbs in a day but right now is not that day.

Yesterday I mentioned cleaning out my pantry cabinet.  I tossed some things that were past their expiration or “Best if used by” dates.  I also found a few things that I knew would be better off out of my house completely.  I packed those up and took them into work today to palm off on my co-workers.   I haven’t brought in any inappropriate carbs to keep in stock since I got back from my Christmas vacation.  I knew that I’d gotten complacent and sloppy in my food plan and I’d promised myself that I’d get back on track.  I’ve kept that promise.  So far I’ve lost another ten pounds since New Year’s Day.  This picked up the pace that had slowed and I attribute it to being more vigilant with the carbs.  To keeping a dry house.  Instead, I get most of my carbs from the healthy foods that I eat like fruit, some veggies and the like — and not so much from breads, potatoes, crackers and cookies.  If I eat any of those, it’s in very small portions on an occasional basis.  They are not incorporated into the majority of my meals.

After my pantry clear out yesterday and my kayak trip, I needed to stop at the supermarket to pick up some greens and goat cheese.  At each entrance to the store, Girls Scouts had staked out some territory and were selling cookies.  I love Girl Scout cookies.  Peanut Butter Sandwiches, the chocolate covered peanut butter ones, thin mints and shortbread varieties are all favorites.  I have absolutely no will power around these cookies.  Not one speck of will power, I tell you.

Walking from my car toward the store, my mind tried to sabotage me.  I heard it saying, “Buy a box.  You can limit yourself just like you do with the Weight Watchers products.  You’ll be fine.”  Thankfully by the time I stepped up on the curb, I’d silently cried, “Bullshit” on myself.  I bypassed the table and went in to complete my shopping.

I have to admit that I felt guilty.  I was a Girl Scout.  I know how hard girls work to sell these products and raise money for their troops.  It made me feel awful that I wasn’t supporting their effort.  I got to the register and, just before completing the transaction, asked the cashier to break a $20 into smaller bills.  On my way out, I asked a Scout if I could please make a donation instead of buying cookies.  Of course the answer was yes.  Dilemma resolved!

From now until I transition to maintenance, I will continue to maintain my dry house.  If I have friends over or need to bake brownies for an occasion outside of my house, the carbs that aren’t good for me will come in only temporarily and will exit as soon as possible — and not by me consuming them.  Outside the home, a few carbs sometimes are consumed, but I’m able to keep them at a minimum.

The bottom line is that it’s easier for me to “Just Say No” to my drug of choice if I don’t have it calling to me from my own kitchen.

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Kayaking Excursion

Today the weather was gorgeous in the Florida Keys.  Warm but not super hot with a light breeze but no driving winds.  Ordinarily, I would have jumped out on my boat, but there’s an issue with one of the throttles and the guy can’t fix it until next weekend.

I told myself I’d just enjoy a day at home and take care of some chores that I’d promised myself I’d complete.  I’ve wanted to go through the pantry cabinet and throw out things that were past their expiration or “Best if Used By” dates.  That took me about half an hour, longer than it would have but I wanted to dismantle some packages so that I could recycle the outer boxes.  I’m very satisfied with how neat and organized the shelves look now.

I moved onto a project that I’d dreaded — cleaning out the disgusting mess that had become the cabinet beneath the kitchen sink.  Since I also keep the small kitchen trash can in that cabinet it was, indeed, disgusting and quite untidy.  I grabbed an empty cardboard box from that other chore-that-is-not-yet-done (The storage room/office.) and loaded it with the cleaning supplies.  Once the cabinet was completely empty, I ditched the old dirty shelf liner, grabbed a new sponge and started scrubbing.  It looks so much better now.  I’ll no longer be embarrassed if someone comes over and opens one of the doors to throw out something!

Tasks accomplished, I went out on the porch for awhile.  Again I was struck by the beauty of the warm sunshine and the calm water.  All of a sudden, I was inspired to do something special, which would also cross something off of my Promise List.  I went kayaking.

I haven’t kayaked in more than seven years.  The last time was when my older nephew was 17 and stayed a month with me.  We went on a kayak-snorkel-sail trip out of Key West.  He and I teamed up in a double kayak.  I wasn’t my heaviest ever weight, but I was probably 80 pounds heavier than I am now which means I was significantly heavier than my lean nephew.  Luckily, I didn’t sink the back end of the kayak.  We had a really good time that day, but I was very conscious that I wasn’t physically comfortable kayaking.  When you’re morbidly obese, sitting in that position constricts veins, muscles and nerves in the legs.  My body weight adversely affected my circulation.  In a fairly short amount of time, my legs tingled and then ached.  My lower back ached, too.  In order to ease the discomfort, I’d try to shift — without tipping us over.

So, even though the overall experience was a good time, the kayaking activity wasn’t something I cared to repeat.

Until a few months ago when it struck me that my weight loss would allow me to kayak without pain!  After I had that realization, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat on my porch, looked out at the harbor and thought, “On any given nice day, even if I don’t take out my boat, with a kayak I could still go out on the water.”

Once the idea took hold today, I launched into action.  I was so excited about taking this adventure, that I didn’t even think about calling up friends to see if they wanted to go with me.  I just wanted to head out as soon as possible!  I grabbed the waterproof pouch I use on the boat and put in my license, credit cards and some cash.  With a full water bottle and a towel, I was ready!  I drove up to a nearby state park where I knew I could rent a kayak for a couple of hours.

In no time at all, I was on the ocean, paddling around mangrove islands.  I spent the first twenty minutes staying fairly close to the park.  Not only did this help me refresh my memory on my technique, but it also gave me time to see if I’d get that leg pain again.  After enough time to reassure me that I was good to go, I struck out exploring.

Let me tell you, if you’ve never done it, kayaking gives you a good upper body workout and plenty of reps for the arms.   From Zumba and Tai Chi, I have strong biceps but my triceps need work.  They got it today.  I kayaked around for nearly two full hours!  The water was crystal clear.  I spotted iguanas and several species of birds in the mangroves.  It felt terrific to use my muscles to work the paddle and glide on the ocean.

When my time was up, I was in an almost Zen-like state with my body, mind, and spirit at peace and in harmony.   Tonight, my muscles know that they worked but I’m not in pain, more relaxed.   I’m also more determined than ever to get a kayak of my own.  When I get back from Hawaii, I’ll start looking.   This is something that I want to do a whole lot more than once every seven years.  Speaking of Hawaii, I bet I can find a kayaking exursion on one of the islands. 🙂

During the trip I was able to take a few photographs.  I didn’t want to risk losing my iPhone overboard, but these should give you a little idea of what it was like.  Enjoy!

Red mangroves sink their roots into the salt water.

Red mangroves sink their roots into the salt water.

My view from the kayak.

My view from the kayak.

I'm not sure of the species of this bird.  It isn't a cormorant.  A birding friend is researching for me.

I’m not sure of the species of this bird. It isn’t a cormorant. A birding friend is researching for me.

The water was beautiful.

The water was beautiful.

I explored a water trail through the mangroves.

I explored a water trail through the mangroves.

 

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Wins and Losses

Yesterday at work, we celebrated the birthday of one of our top execs.  A group of us usually orders in lunch from the restaurant of the birthday celebrant’s choice and we gather on the porch to share the meal.  I’d volunteered to pick up a birthday cake on my way into the office.

It was a nice time.  I ordered a roasted lamb sandwich with egg plant, feta and tsatsiki sauce.  I ate the meat out of half of the sandwich with a couple of bites of eggplant and a little of the foccacia bread.  Then I wrapped the rest of the sandwich back up and stuck it in my bag to bring home.

When it was time to cut the cake, some big pieces went around the table.  Everyone to the left of the birthday guy was female.  All of the guys were to his right.  It was sort of comical because those plates of cake made a full circle as we women kept passing on the bigger pieces.  When it was my turn I asked for a very thin slice.  He cut it so thin that the top half fell off.  He started to scoop it up to add it to my plate but I assured him that what was left was more than enough.   It actually was.  The piece I had was maybe two inches by one inch by half an inch thick — if that, but it gave me a good taste of deep chocolate with a little bit of buttercream frosting and I was completely satisfied.  That was a big win for me — to be able to enjoy a bit of the celebration cake without overeating.

Since January started, my weight loss has been going well.  I’ve done a good job of being vigilant about carbs.  I identified when I was letting them creep a little too much into my daily plan and cut back.  I woked up this morning an experienced a very encouraging number on the scale which started my day off in a great way.  I had Tai Chi class and then went to get a facial.  I love that sort of pampering.  After that I drove down to Big Pine to the well known, popular “flea market” and saw a friend.  Then I strolled down the rows of different merchandise.

I’ve been a little concerned about having enough clothes for Hawaii.  The dresses I plan to take might be a bit too big by the time our cruise ship sails.  I thought about getting them taken in before I go but then decided that they probably won’t hang like sacks, so I should be okay.  I also stressed a bit about casual tops to go over my shorts or capri pants.  The ones I have that I’ve bought over the last few months fit okay, but, again, at the rate I’m losing will they be too big in three weeks?

The cool thing about this flea market is that they have a pretty array of different styles of clothes, but most are great for tropical weather since we live in the Keys.  In one “stall”, I found some hand-painted T-shirts and bought one for the wildly expensive price of $10.  A few stalls after that displayed a colorful selection of batik dresses, tops and pants.   I found a dress and then put together a top-pant set.  Each piece was around $12.  That quickly, I was able to round out my vacation wardrobe without busting my budget.

I could not have done this a year ago at the sizes I was wearing.  It is so much fun to go wherever I want and find clothes that fit!  Another win.

When I got home, a freak thing happened.  I couldn’t get in the house.  The lock and knob on my front door have been a wonky for months.  This morning when I left, the door stuck.  I was in a horror so I slammed it closed.  In doing so, I completely messed up the inner mechanism.  When I tried to unlock the door, the key moved back and forth but didn’t completely disengage the lock.  As luck would have it, bad luck anyway, the only locksmith in town is on vacation and another locksmith from forty miles away was covering.  He could come, he said, but it was going to take awhile.

I sat on my steps, griping to a friend, feeling like a dope, and, in general, aggravated.  I also felt bad for my dogs who intermittently cried, whined and barked inside.  Clearly they didn’t understand why they could hear me but I wasn’t coming inside.   When I said to my friend that I couldn’t figure out how the locksmith was going to get in, she told me he could always pry or hammer the knob off the door.

It dawned on me that I’d probably need a new one.  Rather than settle for whatever he might happen to have in his truck, I ran up to Home Depot to pick out a couple of options.  Unfortunately, the check out line had a display of candy.   Mentally, I really didn’t want that pack of M&Ms, but emotionally I craved them like they were going to save the day.

Honestly.  The only way a package of multi-colored candy coated chocolate things could save the day was if they had power tools and knew how to use them on the door.  Unfortunately, my common sense lost the skirmish with my compulsion.  I ate the M&Ms on my ride home.  Instead of enjoying the chocolate, the whole episode just pissed me off at myself.

The locksmith got to my house about half an hour after I got back and in less than an hour he’d gotten the door open and replaced the hardware with one of the sets I’d bought.   It didn’t cost me an arm and a leg.  The dogs didn’t pee in the house.  The new set resolves the problems I’d had for months.  Things were once more on a positive uptick, except that I was still annoyed that I’d eaten the chocolate.

I went out on the porch with the dogs and realized that we were experiencing a beautiful late afternoon.  Rather than sit around feeling the calories congeal into fat, I decided to take Nat and Pyxi for a bridge walk.   I’m so glad that I opted for exercise.  The temperature was cool with a light breeze and the lowering sun painted colors across the sky.  Not only was this good for my mood, it was good for my body, as well as for my dogs.  I definitely walked off most of the M&M calories, too.

Definitely a win to put the cap on what was  mostly a great day!

Here are a couple of images from the walk that I shot with my cell phone.  That white dot in the photo to the right is the moon.  Enjoy!

Bridge sunsetbridge sky

 

 

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