Weighty Matters

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Bouncing!

I’m really looking forward to the RT Convention.  There are so many friends that will be there this year.  Some I haven’t seen in a year; others even longer than that!  I would be excited to see them just because I love them, miss them, and don’t get to see them nearly often enough.

The fact that I’ve lost 100 to 160 pounds since they’ve seen me (depending on whether they were at RT last year) is just extra special.  The really cool thing is that my friends love me no matter what I weigh, but they’re all really excited for me because I’m so much more healthy at this weight.

I’m anticipating a lot of fun, including much dancing.  Speaking of anticipation, mine is practically off the charts tonight.

It wasn’t always this way.  I remember years of looking forward to seeing friends where my enthusiasm was always tainted to some degree by my disappointment that I hadn’t lost weight or, even worse, if I’d gained back weigh previously lost and then some.   I’d always arrive, see people and fill in unexpressed reactions in my head.  It’s hard not to do that when you’re so conscious of being drastically overweight.  I’m not the only obese person who reads assessments in other peoples’ eyes or facial expressions.  Even if those assessments aren’t obvious, we search for them, positive that they exist.  I guess we project a lot.

Not this year.  Not anymore.  If I anticipate anything, it will be the sheer delight on my friends’ faces when we see each other.  The same delight that they’ll see on my face.

I’m so excited, I’m practically bouncing in my seat.  Like Tigger.

TTFN, friends!

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Protecting Myself and My Recovery

I had to explain to someone that I’ve taken steps to separate myself from an aspect of a particular situation because it was necessary in order for me to manage my stress.  I’m not sure the friend completely gets it, although I would expect her to since she’s had to take a similar step in other situations.  I’m giving it a couple days or until the next time she brings something up to me that would expose me again to the stress-causing aspects.

I’ve thought about it a lot today and realized that, if need be, I will go into the full explanation of my eating disorder and how excess stress is one of those things that can easily trigger me to eat compulsively and eat too much.  I have a lot of clarity in my brain right now.  In fact, I’m crystal clear that I will go to any lengths necessary to protect myself and guard my recovery.

Sometimes it’s difficult for other people to understand that an eating disorder can be as powerful and destructive as alcoholism, drug addiction or any other addictive disorder.  Maybe it’s because I still need to eat to live or maybe it’s because there are a lot of people who struggle with weight issues who don’t have eating disorders — or at least don’t realize that they do.  Whatever the case, I know from experience that some people get it and others don’t.

This friend is pretty savvy and aware.  I actually believe she’ll understand if I put it in direct, no bullshit terms.  I’d like her to understand but I also realize that it isn’t the most important part of this whole thing.  The part that matters most is that I take the measures I need to in order to stay on track and in recovery.

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The Don’t Make Things Bigger Than They Need to Be Lesson

As you know, I was anticipating a scolding from my doctor today because I’d “only” lost 20 pounds since my last visit three months ago.  I worked to process my feelings about his expectations.  I received terrific support and encouragement from all of you here.  Friends and family reinforced the fact that 20 pounds in three months is a significant accomplishment.  My boss and I talked about it some more yesterday and she pointed out that, if he was discouraging to me, I had an opportunity to educate him on how damaging that approach can be to someone who is working hard but struggling.

I gave myself pep talks several times on the way to Miami.  I have to admit that I wore the lightest pair of pants and shirt that I own.  (Yeesh!)  I still kind of worried that my weight loss would show as even less than 20 pounds since I would get weighed fully clothed in the afternoon after riding for a couple of hours and on a different scale than the one at home.  (Yes, that happened.)  I rehearsed what I would say depending on his reaction.

First I saw the physician’s assistant and we discussed how the rate of loss has slowed.  We talked through what I’m eating and drinking, both actual items and amounts.  She confirmed for me that I haven’t veered off the plan and told me that at this stage of the game it’s natural to lose weight at a slower pace.  She encouraged me to keep doing what I’m doing and not let myself get discouraged to the point of quitting.

That was a lovely positive experience but I still worried about what the doctor would say.

He came in the room, and I shored myself up.  He launched right into the topic and . . . his attitude was completely opposite from what I’d expected!  Not only did he not come out all overly cautious and negative about my weight loss, but he absolutely reached out to reassure me that I am still doing great!   We had a great conversation in which he talked about how, at this point, it’s patients’ heads that start to trip them up.  Almost 16 months after surgery, we feel hunger again and our stomachs process food more easily so it’s really important that we remember the surgery is only a tool and we need our minds to work hard and keep us on track.

I told him that I spend a lot of time working on the mental and emotional aspects of this challenge and even shared with him that I’ve been writing a blog about it since shortly after the surgery.  We talked about how there are a lot of patients who were so heavy when they started that when they reach this point and feel so improved, they decide to stop.  I assured him that even though I feel so much better and look better, I am not done.  I want to keep going until I reach my goal and am no longer obese.

After a few more minutes, he asked me to come back in another three months and said that even if it takes me another six to ten months, the most important thing is that my weight keeps going down and that I eventually reach the goal.

Totally bolstered and feeling much lighter in spirit, I made my next appointment and told everything that I looked forward to seeing them in three months and that they could be sure they’d see even less of me. 🙂   I left the office with a better bounce in my step!  It really was a good lesson in not making situations bigger and more powerful than they need to be.  I totally could have messed up my head and temporarily derailed my effort.  Thankfully, I had people to talk to — in person, on the phone and via the blog — and received stellar support.

On the way home I spoke to a dear friend who had surgery last October.  She is experiencing great success and got some great news today too.  We shared a lot about understanding the issues and working through them.  We also both agreed how fortunate we feel.

Today, and every day, I truly am blessed.

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Being Vigilant

We’re now past the 330 post mark here at Weighty Matters.  I honestly thought I’d run out of things to say by now, but then I remember that I’ve had a lifetime of eating disorders and obesity.  It stands to reason that I wouldn’t have worked everything out, as if my magic, in a few weeks or months.

I’m in a good place overall in my life, certainly a lot better than I was before I began the journey.   When I think of how I used to react to issues and how differently I deal today, it’s really close to miraculous.  Take these last couple of weeks with the stress and anxiety-producing situations.  A couple of years ago, this stuff would have sent me leaping head long into ice cream sundaes, cakes, pizza binges and everything else you could imagine.   These days I’m rolling with them, processing the problems, living with the stress when I need to, and finding ways to cope that don’t involve binge eating.

My doctor’s appointment is tomorrow.  I’m in a good place about that too.  If the doctor isn’t 100% supportive of the 20 pound weight loss I’ve achieved in the last three months, I am not going to let it trigger inappropriate eating.  My boss reminded me that I can also use it as an opportunity to perhaps educate him on how his words and attitude could negatively impact one of the patients he’s trying to help.  I’m tougher now and able to withstand things like this, but someone who hasn’t shored up their emotional defenses could be devastated and end up with their ongoing recovery in jeopardy.

That almost sounds sort of over confident, even cocky of me.  I don’t mean to be and I sure don’t feel overconfident.  I am all too aware that I need to remain vigilant.  If I don’t protect my recovery on all levels, I can and will begin to backslide.  When faced with something that challenges my new approach to healthy eating, fitness and all that goes with the new lifestyle, I have a choice.  I can process and face the issue, come here and write about it or work it out however I need to, or I can cave in and go back to the old unhealthy habits.

I guess that I won’t run out of topics as long as I keep facing challenges.  We could be here a while, friends. 🙂

I want you to know that I’m also open to other topics.  If there’s anything you’re curious about or facing  and would like to introduce it as a topic, please let me know.

I’ll let you know how things go with the doctor tomorrow!

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Body Changes

It’s happened a few times.  I run into someone I know who hasn’t seen me in a while and they do a double-take.  I’ve actually had some people not recognize me.  It’s an interesting thing to experience.  Once they realize who they’re seeing, they usually gush and are very complimentary.  I’ve finally reached the point where, most of the time, I can easily smile and thank them for their kind words.  I have no problem telling them that I had weight loss surgery.  There was a time when I thought that admitting that would make me uncomfortable.

Clearly it doesn’t or I’d never have started this blog, let alone kept going with it for more than 330 posts!

Next week I’m going on vacation to a fun-filled convention for writers and readers.  I’ve gone to almost all of them since 1999.  My favorite thing about it is that many dear friends also fly in from various places around the country.  We don’t get to see each other nearly often enough and it’s always wonderful to reunite and spend so much time together for a few days.  Most of these friends have seen pictures here and there on Facebook, but I know from having seen some people in person that the photographs really aren’t completely accurate.

So, next week I will be seeing a lot of people who last saw me this time a year ago when I was down about 60 pounds.  Sure, that weight loss was already an improvement but I’ve lost 95 additional pounds since.  Zumba, Tai Chi, walking, and water aerobics have shaped, toned, and streamlined parts of me too.  Suffice it to say that a year’s time has brought about huge change.   It ought to be fun.

Remember last month when I tried on a dress that I thought was in the smaller size that I could wear and it was too big?  The replacement dress arrived today.  I was a little worried about trying it on because it’s a 16/18.  I don’t even know if I wore a 16 in college.  I can no longer remember.  Well, I slipped on the dress and it is a perfect fit!  I ran to two different mirrors just to get different views.  I really love this dress and can’t wait to wear it next week at one of the evening events.  Yes, I will get a photo taken and post it.  I promise.  Pinky swear.

After trying on the dress I changed into exercise clothes and headed out to Zumba.  I don’t know where I found the extra energy, but I killed it this evening in that class!   Every move had that much more power and “oomph” in it.  My abs were tight and my arm movements strong.  I even managed more crunches than ever before.  Doing those crunches while dancing isn’t easy.  Depending on the dance, I can’t always coordinate the move and do them correctly.  It amazes me to watch the instructors.  Their moves are so fluid.  I swear they can do 10 crunches to my one!  I said tonight that within two years I want to be able to move my ab muscles and crunch with that same speed and fluidity.  One of the instructors told me that two years was too long and I’d get there sooner.  I’m not so sure, but we’ll see.

In the meantime, I’m not coasting through any of the moves.  I give them my all, building my strength and burning as many calories as possible in that hour of dance.  It sounds gross, but I even enjoy working up a sweat and having to blot it off my face.  At least I know that I’m producing that sweat and ramping up my heart beat through genuine, effective, hard exercise.  It’s a whole different feeling than when I struggled and gasped from the simple effort of walking in my enormous, out of shape body.

This is just another body change that I love.  I sure as heck plan to keep building on it in the future.

 

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Simple Solutions

I’ve ranted on about the stress I’ve been under.  It’s been crazy, really, all for an organization for which I’m a volunteer!  For days, the fray would start right up by 7:30 a.m. and go on intermittently throughout the day until 10 or 11 at night.  Last week, I woke up one morning after a completely crappy, restless night of interrupted sleep and my jaw throbbed from having been clenched all night.  The first OMG text came in at 7:15 a.m. and we were off to the races.

That night, I relaxed in a bathtub and was all ready to get into bed, when I remembered how yucky and stressed out I’d felt in the morning.  I’m a chronic jaw clencher, even when I’m not stressed.  I think my muscles and tendons are used to it, but while I might have a little tension in the morning, I don’t normally feel real pain.  I have a night guard that I’m supposed to wear but I have fallen out of the habit.

So, the other night when I sat on the edge of the bed and thought about waking up in horrible pain or cracking the hell out of a remaining molar, I rolled my eyes and shook my head at my own missing of the obvious.  I then got up, went to the bathroom and fetched the night guard.  I got back to bed and reached for my phone to set the alarm.  (Since my clock radio malfunctioned a year ago, I’ve used the phone’s alarm feature to wake me up in the mornings.)  “God, I hope I don’t get an early email or text first thing,” I thought.  Before I could push tap my phone’s screen, I stopped and, instead, pressed the power button and turned the phone completely off.  I went into the guest bedroom and brought back the alarm clock.  Instant solution.

Night guard installed, phone off, I shut off the light and was asleep in less than five minutes.   I woke up the next morning without jaw pain and didn’t turn on the phone again until after I’d already showered and dressed.  I was so less stressed than I’d been in days.  It felt marvelous!  Somehow, it seemed like I’d stopped giving all of the power to the situation giving me grief and took it back for myself.   In the spirit of the Serenity Prayer, I accepted what I can’t change — that the stressful situation is going to continue for awhile.  I then had to be wise enough to figure out what I could do about managing its impact, and then took the action to change what I could.

The solutions were so simple!  Put in a protective device and shut off the freaking phone.  I only wish I’d seen that sooner!

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Don’t Ignore Your Health

Earlier this week, one of my dearest friends had to be immediately hospitalized for heart problems.  She had an angioplasty on Friday.  The doctors inserted three stents to handle blockages of 80% and 90%.  There’s another 50% block in an artery but the doctors think that they can reduce that with medication and lifestyle.  We feel very blessed and grateful for this outcome.

She is incredibly lucky that she did not have a heart attack and die.  She’d experienced symptoms of heart trouble and episodes but kept quiet about them because she didn’t want to worry the family at a time when they were already dealing with sad medical news about her mother-in-law.  So, she covered up the symptoms until they got so bad that she couldn’t anymore.  I love this woman.  Her family is like extended family to me.  I love her and if she wasn’t recovering from heart procedures, I’d want to spank her.

Then I need to step back from my fear and relief reaction and smack myself upside the head for being a hypocrite.  How many decades did I keep my health and life in jeopardy?  The short answer is forever.  Along the way, I not only ignored symptoms for far too long before getting treatment for high blood pressure and Type II diabetes, but I put off necessary annual tests and screenings like Pap smears, mammograms and skin cancer.  I hated going to a doctor for basic, routine physical exams and health maintenance because I was super obese.   In 2006 I had the symptoms of a possible heart attack and debated going to the E.R. until I was in my car and about to drive past the hospital on my way to work.  Thankfully, it wasn’t a heart attack or angina, but it damn well could have been.  I could have died that day because fear and self-consciousness overcame my common sense.

Over the next year, I had bouts of stomach discomfort.  It got worse and worse, but I self-treated with OTC antacids, pain relief meds, and other stomach stuff.  I told myself it was stress or just a “to-be-expected” side effect of being so fat and eating crappy, fatty foods all of the time.   It was really getting bad, to the point where it was interrupting my sleep every night, when I was near the end of the busiest three weeks I’ve ever had at work.  When that finally finished, I thought I had the flu and finally called the doctor for an appointment.  Within five minutes of listening to my symptoms and examining me the doctor diagnosed a gall bladder problem.  I went into the hospital for tests the next morning and by noon was in the operating room having my gall bladder removed.

I’m sure there are bullets that I’ve dodged over the course of not practicing good health maintenance.  I live in the Florida Keys and am outdoors a lot.  Even though I wear sunscreen and am careful, there is still a high risk of skin cancer.  I could have had it growing somewhere on my body that I couldn’t even see.  Yep.  I was lucky.  I finally started going regularly to a doctor in 2008 so I received treatment for my Type II diabetes and high cholesterol.  (The doctors around the time of that heart scare put me on meds for my blood pressure.)  I got my annual Paps and mammograms.  I had my first colonoscopy on schedule when I was 50.  The doctor discovered a polyp which, fortunately, wasn’t cancerous, but it could just have easily been malignant and, had I continued to ignore getting diagnostic tests, it would have eventually killed me.

Once I made the decision to have weight loss surgery, I then was examined, poked, prodded, scoped and tested for pretty much everything you can imagine.   Nothing more serious than I already knew about came to light.  Very fortunate indeed.

Now, of course, it’s a whole new ballgame.  I’m healthier than I have ever been in my entire adult life.  I no longer need to take medications because my blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol are all in normal range.  I had a follow up colonoscopy last fall and all is clear.

This does not mean that I can slack off.   I will not ignore my health and, by so doing, put my future at risk.  If I experience any symptoms, I will not ignore them either.  I’ll call my doctor and get checked out A.S.A.P.  I’m not going to set myself up to die because I don’t want to worry people or inconvenience them in some way.   Nothing, Nothing, is more important than taking care of myself.

Nothing in your life is more important either.  Please do not make the same mistakes that I did.  Whether you weigh far too little or are super obese, whether you have something else going on that makes you fearful or embarrassed to go to the doctor, do not let these things stand in the way of you taking care of yourself.

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Exercising Options

As usual, you all were terrific with your support when I definitely needed it.  Thanks again!

The last 24 hours have been a fun exercise in, well, exercise.  Yesterday, I had a work thing going on that necessitated me being on my feet for three hours straight.  Let me just tell you that this is a whole hell of a lot easier to do since I lost weight.  Overall I just move with greater ease and less pain.  It isn’t a chore for me to escort people around and handle the physical aspects of the job.  After one of those types of days, I also no longer need to go home, knock back 800 mgs of OTC pain relief, put up my feet and whine about my throbbing knee and ankles, stiff back and overall exhaustion.

Sure, I still get a little tired and my knee might be a titch more stiff and sore, but it’s definitely better than it’s been for me in years.  As a matter of fact, after I got home, ate dinner, and three a load of laundry into the machine, I leashed up the dogs and we all went for a nice, relaxing walk.

I then returned home and became engrossed in the live news coverage about the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing.   The most bizarre aspect was discovering that I really didn’t need to watch the television knew.  Friends in Boston learned of each development first via their police scanners and posted on Facebook.  We knew the suspect had been taken alive before the networks announced it as breaking news.

I was busily trying to keep myself awake because I had plans to join friends for a late night Zumba session.  Zumba at night?  Yep!  Last night was our area’s Relay for Life to raise money for the American Cancer Society.  My Zumba instructor friends arranged to entertain the crowd at 10:30 and wanted regular class participants to come and dance with them, so I agreed.  Once the music started, a couple of dozen other people — mostly middle school and high school students — joined in.  It wasn’t easy doing all of the steps on the field — harder to pivot — and sometimes I was a little self-conscious about doing the routines all out in public instead of the dance studio.  However, for the most part I had a “Who Cares?” attitude and just threw myself into the exercise and fun.  I think we went for about 40 minutes and had a blast.

When we were finished, I hurried home, washed up and went right to bed, setting the alarm for 6 a.m.  I had to meet up with friends by 7:30 to drive up the Keys for a Tai Chi intensive.  We did three hours of Tai Chi, with one short break.  First off, two full sets, each of which takes about 15-20 minutes.  Then the guest instructor took us through “foundation” exercises.  While some of these do not require a lot of full body movement, in each some part of your body is always moving.  The Dan Yus involve a move much like a basic squat — really good for leg strength, particularly when you do 25, 30 or more of them like we did today.  I also lost count of the number of repetitions we did of a move called Go Back to Ward Off Monkey.  A few dozen, maybe more.  Then we finished with another full set.

It doesn’t matter that each Dan Yu, Tor Yu or other foundation is done slowly and deliberately, or that we aren’t running marathons when we perform a set.  We were bodies in motion again and again and again.  I have to say that I feel incredibly limber and stretched out from all of the Tai Chi.  Between that intensive this morning and the Zumba last night, it’s safe to say that I’ve worked out this weekend, don’t you think?

I’m hoping for decent weather tomorrow morning so that I can get the dogs out for a good bridge walk.  If it’s too hot for the bridge when I get up, then I’ll make it up to them with a walk later in the day.  I find that around 7 or 7:30 is a great time.  The sun’s mostly down so it’s cooler but there’s still enough light.

Zumba dancing, Tai Chi, or simply a nice walk have become my three favorite forms of exercise.  I might not usually do all three of them in a relatively short number of hours, but I really like that I enjoy them all and want to do at least one of them, maybe two, almost every day.

It’s great to have options.

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Self Pressure and Expectations for Self

I had a great conversation with my boss, a woman I greatly admire for her insights and forthright attitude.  She commented that I looked like I’ve lost more weight.  “I have,” I said, “but not enough.”  Realizing that I seemed discouraged, she asked me what was up.

“I have a doctor’s appointment at the end of next week and he’s going to think that it isn’t enough because I’ll only have lost 20 pounds in three months.”

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I knew that my thought process was screwed up and she knew it too.  We started to work through the process and how, based on my last conversation and appointment with the doctor, thought I should have lost 30 pounds by this upcoming appointment.

She told me everything that I actually know but that I’ve been mentally and emotionally veering away from.  That 20 pounds in three months is still a significant loss.  That I’ve lost 155 pounds since my surgery.  That I’ve changed my way of eating and living.  That 155 pounds is a great success and I’m still losing.  Not gaining.  Not staying in the same place.  Still losing.  It’s natural that the pace at which I lose is slower now but I’m not going backwards.

My boss helped me clarify that I am putting all of this pressure, and fostering negative thoughts about my progress because I’m wrapped up in my doctor’s expectations.  He sort of acknowledges how much I’ve lost but always qualifies the acknowledgement with reminding me that I still have a way to go.  I know I’ve discussed this before but, clearly, I haven’t worked through it yet as an issue.

I’m really chewing on it now, I can tell you.  I’m really musing and working through what I can reasonably expect of myself at this stage of the game.  What is my assessment of where I am and where I’m going?  I have questions that I need to mull over and answer.  Am I pleased with my progress thus far?  Am I eating in more healthful ways and, for the most part, not falling prey to my compulsive behavior?  Am I satisfied with my weight loss enough to let it stand as is?  Do I want to lose more?  Does it matter so much that I lose at a more rapid weight as long as I continue to lose?

So, that’s my homework.  Mull the questions.  Answer.  Internalize.  Most of all, I need to check in that I’m living to my expectations for myself and not putting undue pressure on myself to please someone else’s expectations.

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Self-Trust

We’re two days into the week, my friends.  How’s everybody doing with choosing positive attitudes, starting our days off right and building great weeks?  I think I’m achieving about a 75-25 ratio of positive to not-quite-as-positive.  That 25 percent hasn’t been bad, it just hasn’t been quite as up and great as the rest of my time.  A little stress here, some unforeseen complications there, a soupcon of annoyance, blah blah blah, yada, yada, yada.

It’s okay, however, because I’m consciously choosing to not give up the glow.  I’m smiling, shrugging, and finding the humor in the situations when they try to affect me with negativity.  It’s just a nicer way to live.  Not false, not “faking it until I make it”, but simply choosing to be happy.  That isn’t always a simple choice.  Today I feel like it’s working.  This helps set me up for success in other areas,  like my eating.  For this week, so far so good.  I hope you’re having good ones too.

I’m not sure why the idea of exploring trust came to my mind a little while ago, but it popped in so I’m going with it.  All in all, I consider myself a trustworthy person.  Maintaining my integrity matters to me and lights my way like the headlights on my car illuminate a dark, unfamiliar road.  Acting from a place of integrity is a good guideline.  When faced with difficult choices, “doing the right thing” usually turns out to be the best option.

I don’t have much problem with this in external situations.  I trust myself to make the appropriate choice when called to do so, as long as I’m doing it outside of my self.  When it comes to trusting myself in other ways, I’m not always so sure.  That’s how powerful compulsion can be on a person.  Regardless of what I want, I can’t always trust myself to make the right choices when it comes to food.  The compulsion to eat inappropriately can be incredibly strong, steamrolling right over what I believe I actually want.  If I’m around food that isn’t on my plan, I might successfully ignore it, but depending on how I feel and what else is happening, I might not.

This kind of imbalance does not shore up a person’s self-trust, that’s for sure.

So in the mornings, when I’m choosing my attitude for the day, I’ve decided to consciously focus on my self-trust.  I think this will be another way to set myself up for success with my daily food plans.  I believe that I can stay aware, be stronger than my compulsive disorder, and maintain that strength.  I know that I’ve complained that losing these last 60 pounds is a real challenge, but I need to trust that I’ll succeed.  If that’s another choice that I need to make at the beginning of every day, then I’ll make it.

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