Weighty Matters

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Unexpected Realizations

I enjoyed Tai Chi Awareness Day today.  Even though we only focused on the first 17 moves, I learned from the practice.  I also enjoyed the camaraderie of the group where five from our location joined up with a dozen or so from the Upper Keys and eight folks who came to learn something about Tai Chi itself.

I rode up and back with two friends.  On the way home, one asked me about my surgery.  I honestly don’t mind talking about it if someone wants to know.  If anything I might be prone to be too detailed but I think the motivation is to be as open and informative as possible.

This friend has a long time friend who is super obese.  In the course of the conversation, I shared about my breaking point.  I remember that I’d all but given up on myself, positive that I’d be dead or disabled by the time I reached 60.  For those who don’t remember my writing about this before (and I have no idea in which of the previous 386 posts I shared it), I got smacked upside the head with an epiphany in the summer of 2011 when I couldn’t haul myself out of the water up the ladder of my boat.  Right then and there, I knew I didn’t want to give up and became willing to go to any lengths to regain my health.  Knowing myself as well as I did/do, I also knew that I couldn’t sustain a regular diet long enough to lose more than 200 pounds.  So, I resolved to investigate weight loss surgery.

I had resisted taking that move for years.   People who love me had suggested it.  I certainly was aware that the procedures were available.  The truth is that I could have had surgery years ago.  But I didn’t.  The obvious question is why not?

There are a number of excuses but no truly solid reasons.   The overall culprits were fear and fear.  Oh, and fear.

Yes, I said it three times because there wasn’t just one thing about having weight lost surgery that scared me.  Yes, I was afraid of the surgery itself, but I think I was more afraid of the surgery taking away my security blanket.  My eating disorder included the insidious feeling that I needed overeating in order to function.  It’s like the food protected me and I wasn’t at all sure that I was brave enough to live life without it.

Looking back, I have so much more clarity.  It’s difficult to sort out feelings and emotions about the drug of choice when one is operating in the middle of the disease.  I clutched onto the old overeating habits, giving food so much focused, that I completely ignored all of the positive evidence that would have showed me that I no longer needed the crutch.

****** Some great realizations are coming up for me, right in the middle of the writing, as I process through this.  The post is definitely going somewhere I didn’t expect but it’s really helpful.******

Here I sit, looking back, and knowing that I don’t need to overeat.  Big amounts of food do not make me happy or make me effective at my job.  Huge portions don’t help me cope with issues or make my heart smile for no reason.  Eating unhealthy foods don’t make me feel great physically or emotionally.  Overeating does not contribute to a successful life in any way — unless my goal was to actually make me unhealthy and unhappy, in which case, I beat the band on that one.

I have an excellent life.  I didn’t get it because of eating, in fact, I’m lucky that my overeating disease didn’t totally trash it.

Life would have been a lot better if I’d figured this out beforehand.  Sadly, I don’t know if I’d have “gotten it” before.  I sure wouldn’t have believed it just because someone else told me it could be this way.

Now having had these realizations tonight, I need to figure out how to use them.  When I’m faced with a compulsive urge to eat something not on my plan, or am tempted to take an extra portion, I have discussions, sometimes arguments with myself in which I tell myself over and over, “No, I don’t want that.  It isn’t on my plan.  I can’t eat that.”  I wonder if I can learn to say, “No, I don’t need that” instead.

I don’t need to overeat anymore.  I haven’t for a very long time, I just didn’t realize it.  This alone is a major advancement.  It’s going to take me awhile to get used to thinking and feeling this way.


A “Me” Kind of Saturday

Our branch is holding a Tai Chi Awareness Day tomorrow so I’ll be doing Tai Chi moves off and on for three hours.  Since I had a board meeting Tuesday night that prevented me from going to Zumba class and then did a Tai Chi class on Wednesday evening, I decided to skip class today and do Zumba.   Did you follow all that?  🙂

Prior to Zumba, I did some Tai Chi moves at home and then went full out for the hour with our dance moves.  According to My Fitness Pal, I burn more than 900 calories in an hour of Zumba.  That’s a hell of a lot, but it feels great.  My crunches are getting better too and, goodness knows, we do a lot of them in this class.  This particular instructor is Brazilian.  I have never seen someone able to move their abs and hips with such speed and flexibility.   She’s amazing.

After class I did a few errands and then came home to clean the pool.  Surprisingly, this involves some extra upper body work.  Later on in the afternoon, I took the dogs for a nice walk.

Is it any wonder that I’m physically tired tonight?  But, to borrow from James Brown, “I feel good!  Huh!”

I’ve had a great week program-wise.  Good adherence to my food plan.  Good attention to exercise.  Good weight loss.   I plan to build on this week by following it up with another great week, and another one after that and so on.  I feel like I was slogging along at a lower speed but this week shifted into a higher gear.   I’m really focused on reaching my goal, sooner rather than later.  Every good day put me one step closer.

The wind blew up today so I couldn’t get out on the boat.  Instead, after I cleaned up from the pool, I hopped in the car, dropped the top and headed for Key West to do a little shopping.  I only intended to hit the arts/crafts/fabric store but figured as long as I was down there, I should at least stop into one of the clothing/house stuff stores.

I’ve never shopped at this particular store before, but it might become one of my new best friends.  Decent quality clothes at really great sale prices.  Since I plan to lose 60 more pounds in the next five to six months, I’m going to start shedding garments at a more rapid pace again.  Being able to get a pair of shorts for 9.99 is a bargain.  Finding the casual dresses that are great for the Keys and not paying more than $16.99 a dress is amazing.  I selected an armful of garments, tried them on and was on my way to the register when my eyes beamed in on another dress in a size 16.  Not a 16/18 – just a 16.  It’s a Calvin Klein with contemporary, fake-wrap styling in turquoise, purple and black – one of my favorite combinations.  It was so reasonable and so eye-catching that I didn’t even bother trying it on.  I figured if it didn’t fit me now, it would in another month.  I couldn’t resist.

I got it home and it fits.  It’s a little clingy and really will look better in another month, but if push came to shove and I put on a Spanx slip underneath it, I could totally pull it off right now.  Booyah!

I need to be careful about things like sleeves right now.  As toned as I’ve gotten my biceps, there’s serious sag going on beneath my arms.  No amount of working out is going to get rid of that, unfortunately.  It will have to wait until surgery.  Another reason I like this dress is that it has 3/4 sleeves.  The other dresses were all sleeveless, but light knit shrugs help camouflage the arm swing.  Thank goodness for alternatives.

All in all, it’s been a good “Me” day, focusing on my needs, wants and enjoyments.   I think it’s important for each of us to have these kinds of days.  We spend a lot of time putting our energy into other things, responsibilities, and people.  Putting as much time into ourselves helps us accomplish good healthy things.   I don’t consider it selfish as much as I feel that it’s necessary.

I might not get a chance to do it again for awhile, so I’m going to enjoy the few remaining hours in the day and keep it going.


On Being Normal

As I was mindlessly playing Bejeweled Blitz a few minutes ago, I realized that I was procrastinating on writing this post.  I’ve had something bugging around in my brain and I wasn’t sure what to think about it or how to put it into words.  I was going to log offline, shut down the computer and go to bed, but I had a sneaking suspicion that the thoughts would follow me and make it more difficult for me to sleep.  I decided to come here and just write, trusting that the words and ideas would come if I opened up the door.

In OA. in group we used to regularly talk about use of the word normal, how because of our size we frequently felt abnormal.  Let’s face it.  To many others in the world, we who are overweight aren’t normal — not in their eyes.  Much of society has images in their minds and we don’t fit that image.  To temper the negativity associated with the term, some of us often used the phrase that, “Normal is just a setting on the washing machine” to kind of temper the negativity.

It’s hard not to feel like a freak when you’re more than 200 pounds overweight.  I imagine it’s difficult to not feel somewhat freakish no matter who much overweight you might be, so trust me I’m not discounting someone else’s experience.  Right now I can only relate from my own reality.   It really sucked, to be honest.  That constant feeling of being and looking so different; of standing out in a crowd for a wrong reason.   Knowing or anticipating how others viewed us made issues of self-acceptance that much more challenging.  I yearned to be considered “normal”.

I don’t know what it means to have a “normal” body.  God knows there are conflicting ideas of that in our world.  You can’t trust magazines where images of beautiful, already slender models and other celebrities are airbrushed away from reality.

I avoid using the word normal whenever possible.  I speak of my goal in that term.  I don’t want to be a “normal” weight.  Honestly, I have no idea what that means.  I want to be a healthy weight.  That I understand and it’s all I really care about.

Although I am still overweight, I’m not super obese.  I’m closer to what many people would describe as “normal” body size.  Here’s where my own insights need to be strong because, bottom lining it, I don’t need to focus on the perceptions of others.   It only matters how I feel about myself, my body, my appearance.

I feel so much better about myself at this weight.  Even though I still have a good chunk to lose, I don’t feel like a freak any more.  Physically and emotionally, I’m all around healthier.   That matters more to me than fitting some preconceived notion – either my own or that of others – about being “normal”.

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Food Isn’t An Event

I received a long, wonderful, “catch up” email from a dear friend today.  She had weight loss surgery last fall and both knees replaced last month.  We’ve known each other for almost 20 years.  Of all of my friends, she most understands my food issues and struggles with the eating disease.

It was great to hear from her and learn how she’s doing with her recovery and rehab.  I’m so proud of her and excited for her future.  In her email she said something that really got me thinking.  In a nutshell she said that food cannot be her friend and it can’t be an event.   That has stayed with me ever since I read it.  I realize how often I made food an event even though I didn’t realize it.  It wasn’t enough for food to be part of a celebration or holiday.  It often became my focal point.  Sort of like, “Oh, great.  It’s Christmas.  Mom’s making Beef Wellington” or that the whole point of the birthday was the license it gave to eat cake and ice cream.

Those were just the big things.  There have been countless other times when food took on much greater relevance, when it surpassed the event to become the event itself.

It’s sort of a thin tightrope to walk.  Whether it’s a date, or a celebration, we’re big on the practice of marking such things with a fine meal. Whether we prepare it ourselves at home, or go for the entire ritual of dinner out, we give food this powerful quality.   It’s really difficult to sort it out emotionally.  How can I relish the reason for the celebration and make celebrating at all the reward without elevating food and eating to star status for the occasion?

So much of my focus is still on food these days.  In order to successfully proceed with my journey, I honestly need to think a lot about my food, what and how I’m going to eat.  Again, there’s a tightrope — to balance between not making food and eating an event, but giving enough thought and consideration to my planning and the way that I consume.

The pre-planning helps.  I’ve done well with putting together lunch and my snacks the night before.  It’s like once I’m prepared, I can forget about the food.  I don’t have to think about it anymore once everything’s packed up and ready to go.

For the rest of it, I think I need to work even more on the awareness factor.  I love the social aspects of going out with friends or family to eat.  I think it’s okay to roll in enjoyment of a tasty meal that someone else created, as long as that’s not the priority.  So, before I go out, I guess I’ll need to remind myself that the point of the evening is the socializing and company.   Food is the accessory.  An important one, for nutrition’s sake, but an accessory just the same.

There’s more here for me to delve into.  I’m not quite at the root, but it’s a start.  I need to think, consider, and process this some more.


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Layers to Happiness

Over on Reinventing Fabulous, the Sunday post always asks us to share examples of things or experiences when we were happy in the prior week.  I think it’s good to get in touch with our feelings on a regular basis.  Lots of times we can get numb to what’s really going on.  I used vast quantities of food to numb me out a lot of the time when I was upset, angry, lonely, frustrated, sad — you name it.

But that’s not really the point of this post.  I’m experiencing a strangely wonderful feeling today and, by contrast, realizing just how not wonderful I’ve been feeling below the surface for a couple of weeks.  To pull out the onion analogy, we’re like onions and sometimes you have to peel down layer by layer to get a true sense of what’s going on.   On the top layer, I’ve felt like I’ve been chugging along, looking at my positive changes, happy with the big picture progress of the last year and a half.  All the good stuff that I share here on the blog.  Honestly, my life and health are so greatly improved that I can’t help but be happy.  It almost seems small-minded, or shrunken-hearted, of me to be any other way, right?

Yes, and no.  Today I realized that while overall I’ve been super happy, the slower progress and frequent stalls where I haven’t lost as much at all, have upset me on a deeper level.  I haven’t been as much in touch with the frustration, the concern, the “what am I doing wrong or not doing right enough” feelings.  Those not so bright and cheerful emotions have weighed on me and I haven’t allowed myself to really admit they were there and then dig through them.  It’s sort of like if I didn’t acknowledge them, they didn’t exist.  In retrospect, this was a form of denial.

So how come I’m realizing this all today?  No, the dam didn’t suddenly break, leaving all of the negative thoughts and feelings to freely flood until I was drowning in the emotional morass.  Far from it.  At some point over the weekend, I reconnected, or made a stronger connection, back to the big picture but broken down to the day by day.  My energy and commitment rekindled.  I feel stronger and more capable, ready to plow through the remaining pounds that stand in the way.

I’ve been almost goofy inside all day long.  It’s a great feeling.  I’m happier, not only on the top layer, but several levels deep.  Each meal and snack, planned for and eaten on target, reinforces the happiness.  The contrast illustrated to me that while I was happy, I wasn’t happy.  As soon as I got the big “Aha!” moment, I knew that I had to blog it and lock it down in my conscious and on the virtual page.  This is something on which to build and keep me powering through to the end.


Planning to Succeed

We’ve all heard the saying that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  So it is with food and me.  This doesn’t mean that I automatically mess up with my eating if I don’t plan in advance, but the percentage of likelihood definitely increases.   Definitely when I plan my meals and prepare ahead of time, I do better at staying on track.

I’ve been sort of la-la-laing my way the last few weeks and progress is slow.  Pardon the pun, but I’m fed up with this stage of my recovery and definitely want to lose the remainder of my weight and meet my goal a.s.a.p.  I know I’m not going to wake up tomorrow 60 pounds lighter.

Wait.  I have to pause here and marvel at the wonder of it all.  Sometimes a terrific realization hits out of the blue, like just happened.  I used to wallow in the heart-numbing despair of thinking, “It will take me forever to lose more than 200 pounds.  I’ll never, ever be successful.”  Now I can look at the journey and know that, holy wow.  I only have 60 more pounds to go!  Woohoo!

Okay, pause over.  As I was saying, I’m not going to wake up 60 pounds lighter tomorrow, but it’s a reachable goal in the months ahead.  Ideally, without fail, I want to have the rest of this weight off of my body before the two year anniversary of my surgery in January.  I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on saying it because I am determined to make that goal a reality.

Without going crazy, I’m stepping up my exercise with a little additional something-something every day, whether it’s an extra 15 minutes of walking, a session on my Pilates machine at night, the opportunity to jog in the pool, some Zumba dancing during television commercials, practicing Tai Chi, whatever.  As long as I do something.

I’m back to logging my food and activity on MyFitnessPal every day too, even creating recipes or finding out the calorie/nutrition numbers for dishes I make from a recipe.  There are programs online that will calculate these numbers for me if I plug in the ingredients.  Pretty cool.

Sometimes the planning isn’t just what I eat or what exercise I do, but organizing my life so that I can fit this all in.  I usually pack my lunch in the mornings while sipping my morning protein drink.  That’s good planning, but it takes a little time.  Some mornings I’m rushed and doing the lunch prep cuts into the period when I would otherwise take the dogs, and myself, for a morning walk.  So, tonight I put together my lunch bag and stuck it into the fridge.  Without that task needing to be done tomorrow, the dogs and I will both get our extra exercise first thing.

The amount of preparation also figures into success.   I’ve learned that if I give myself an inch, I’ll take a mile.   For example, it is not wise for me to take a jar of peanut butter into the office and leave it in my desk drawer for when I want to use it as a snack.   For some reason, I can control myself better at home, but when I’m busy at work, that is just too tempting.  Same thing with hummus or carrots, nuts, or (fill in the blank).  Last year at some point, I visited one of those places that sells in bulk and also supplies restaurants but is also open to the public.  I bought the little containers and lids that are used for take-out salad dressing and the like.  These are perfect for holding a tablespoon of peanut butter or hummus.  (I clean them out and recycle them, I promise.)  I added green apple slices and carrot sticks to reuseable containers.  I measured out some Greek yogurt and fresh fruit in another glass container for lunch.  There you have it.  Two snacks and lunch all ready to go in them morning.

Dinner is also planned for tomorrow so I don’t have to do the whole “shop when I’m hungry” gauntlet.  That rarely turns out well.  I’m also good to go for all day on Tuesday.  A couple of days of planning usually carry me through.  Tuesday evening I have a meeting at night, after dinner.  When that’s done I can hit the supermarket and pick up what I need for meals the rest of the week.

Reading all of this over, it sure sounds like I have it all together.  Trust me, I really don’t.  Every day is still fraught with potential pitfalls, and possible slips.  That’s the reality of life as a compulsive eater.  I could grab and eat for no other reason than food is in my immediate vicinity.  If I lived in a bubble and never encountered any other food possibilities other than the things on my plan, I’d be fine.  That’s not a practical reality.

Instead, I simply try to do the best that I can.  When I’m working a strong recovery, I keep the appropriate foods close and available so I don’t need to make decisions on the fly.  I organize my life as best I can so that I can keep up with my fitness activities.  I plan what I can in order to succeed.


Curbing Cravings

I ran across an article online today at ABC News entitled 9 Ways to Curb Food Cravings.  It has some useful tips, I think, and I particularly like these two:  Plan on Giving In and Go Gourmet.

According to fitness trainer Jillian Michaels (Best known for Biggest Loser), if you completely deprive your sweet tooth, you set yourself up for a binge later.  She suggests allotting up to a fifth of your daily calorie allowance to your chosen sweet.  Her choice is Paul Newman’s Organic Peanut Butter Cups at 180 calories a pack.

That means that on my 1000 calories a day food plan I could have 200 calories a day in chocolate.

Under Go Gourmet, Janis Jibrin, MS, RD, the lead nutritionist at TheBestLife.com suggests that ordinary, run of the mill treats leave us unsatisfied so we should opt instead for really good stuff — a terrific cookie, high quality chocolate, a premium potato chip.  I honestly believe there’s a lot to this particular idea.  A few years ago, friends sent me a package of Bissinger’s Chocolates from St. Louis.  Hand to God, this is the best chocolate I have ever eaten.  There were 30 pieces of dark chocolate with either 60% or 70% cacao.  They were so good that I actually savored each one and limited myself to a single piece a day for the next month.

If you’d ever seen how I previously plowed through a bag of M&Ms, which I love, you would scoff at the thought that I had any chance of stretching out those Bissinger’s treats for 30 hours, let alone 30 days, but I did.  I think I’ll order myself some and revisit that success.

I know my mindset.  There have been many days when I’ve been on my way home from work and started to crave some sort of sweet treat.  If getting the treat would require me stopping in at a store, I often can successfully divert myself if I remember that I have some sort of thing that I like at home, whether it’s fat free pudding, no sugar added Italian ice, or even really good fresh fruit.

I have never dealt well with the thought of eternal deprivation.  In my years in OA, I knew without a doubt that I would never make as one of the people who completely abstained from sugar and/or white flour.  The mere thought of saying, “Never” makes me want something more.  The trick is to find my balance.  I think if I know that I have really excellent chocolate waiting for me at home, I can withstand any other carb, sugar or chocolate temptation.  Remembering that first Bissinger’s experience gives me hope that I can actually adjust my relationship with chocolate into something that doesn’t damage my recovery but actually helps strengthen it long term.  We shall see!

There were several other suggestions on that list from saving our candy wrappers to faux frying to picturing ourselves at our goal.  Excellent suggestions on all counts and ones that I want to keep front of mind as I go through the days.  I really, really want to hit my goal weight before my two year surgiversary.  I’m rallying my internal forces and techniques and reminding myself every day that I want my recovery more than I want to eat off plan.   That said, I’m human.  I get cravings.  Anything that I can do to curb them and set myself up for success will be a very good thing indeed.

If you’d like to read the entire article, click here for the ABC News site.  It also originally appeared on Health.com.

What foods do you crave?  Are you into chocolate and sugar?  Carbs?  Salty snacks?  Fats?   When you get a craving, do you have any great suggestions for constructively dealing with it?  Please share!


Weight Loss Shows

Mary note:  I wrote this post last Tuesday but only now discovered that it stayed in Draft format and didn’t post.  Sorry!

I watched my first episode of Extreme Weight Loss tonight.  I’ve seen several episodes each season of Biggest Loser.  Maybe it’s because I don’t watch these series week after week after week, but it generally appears to me that the coaches/mentors/trainers put the main emphasis on exercise.  Particularly in Biggest Loser, the workout routines are extreme as they strive to knock off as much weight as possible in the shortest period of time.

As you know, I’ve really embraced exercise along this journey, so I would never devalue its importance.  I’m just left feeling that these programs don’t show enough of the healthy eating aspects of losing weight and then maintaining the loss.

While watching EWL tonight, toward the end I found myself getting really annoyed. They kept pounding home the crucial need to “step up the intensity” of the workouts in order to make up for a less than expected weight loss at the previous weigh-in.  Run harder, lift more, do more sit ups and pull ups, run some more.  Go, go, go, go.

The really sick thing is that while watching I jumped totally into the frame.  I caught myself thinking, “Hey, maybe I need to step up my intensity.”  I started to wonder if I should join a gym or sign up for sessions with a personal trainer.  I reminded myself that I hate going to the gym and already am short on time in my daily schedule.  No matter.  I could go full out with exercise at home with my DVDs and pilates machine.  (A machine I’m still learning to correctly use.)  Nah, I should rethink that gym membership idea.

The thoughts ran around in my head like a hepped up hamster on a wheel.  That kind of frenetic mental process does not make for clear analysis.  I gave myself a figurative head smack to stop the cycle.  I still exercise a good amount.  Do I need to get obsessive and take on additional routines at a gym?  Honestly, I don’t think so.  Have I slacked off a little from what I was doing a couple of months ago?  Probably.  It’s significantly hotter out so the walks are a little shorter.  Normally, I’d compensate by getting in the pool and jogging/dancing for an hour after work.  Time-wise, that’s been hard.  Still, if I embrace the “don’t let the little you can do keep you from doing the little you can do” approach, I know that I can make some time somewhere to add more minutes of activity each week. So, that’s a goal for the rest of the week.  Seize workout opportunities.  An extra ten minutes a day adds up to a whole extra hour plus in a week.

Back to tonight’s show.  In the last half hour or so, I started to get really annoyed.  Not only did I not feel like they showed enough about the participants learning and practicing better eating habits, but it seemed like all they talked about was the skin removal surgery.  When anticipating the next weigh-in, the trainer/host actually said that if the couple hadn’t stepped up their weight loss, he didn’t feel comfortable taking them in for the consultation with the skin removal surgeon.  The couple, a husband and wife, expressed stress and anxiety over whether they’d lost enough to get approved for their operations.  The wife was practically in tears about whether she’d qualify or what would happen if she qualified and her husband didn’t.  She finally said that if he didn’t qualify, she wouldn’t have it either.

Hello!  What about being delighted because you were on target to lose well over 100 pounds and your husband more than 160 pounds?

Look, I dream of the day when I’ll have my skin removal surgery.  That’s at least a year away, perhaps more.  I need to lose the rest of my excess weight and then maintain the loss for an as-yet-unknown period of time.  (I haven’t asked, but I’m guessing I probably will be told to wait a year after hitting my goal.)  However much I want to have it, that is not the priority.

I can’t believe it was actually the priority of the couple on the show either.  Sure after losing so much weight, they wanted the surgery so they could look their best, but I’m sure that improved health and overall quality of life had to be the prime motivating factors.  Don’t you think?  I’m willing to bet it just seemed like the priority because of the way the producers/directors edited the program.  They probably cut out a lot of other things in order to build the drama.  Will they or won’t they qualify to have their skin removed??  (Cue tense organ music.)

I’m not really sure why this show set me off tonight.  I’m trying not to come off like I’ve learned it all and know it all.  That’s not the case, believe me.  I’m still figuring this out.  I learn more as I go along.  All I know is that the presentations seem wildly out of balance.  I’m concerned for the message.  I’d feel the same way if anyone did a show about dieting that only discussed the eating plan and didn’t discuss the importance of increasing physical activity.  I know I’d howl with anguish if a show about weight loss surgery didn’t delve into both eating and exercise.

Whatever the case, I was annoyed and not inspired by the program.  I think next Tuesday I’ll put the time to better use and exercise instead of watching.

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An Independent Life

Happy 4th of July, here in the U.S. I have the day off from work and am celebrating with an extra Zumba class at 9 a.m. After that, I’m walking a dog from our local animal shelter in the city parade. Tonight my porch provides a wonderful spot for friends to join me to watch our town’s truly wonderful fireworks display and we don’t need to fight the crowds at the beach.

In honor of the day, I’m thinking of all of the things I’m free of today because of my weight loss and fitter lifestyle. Today I’m celebrating my independence in a myriad of ways.

I’m free of chronic pain in my knee. Free of shortness of breath from merely walking. Free of always feeling bad about myself because of my super obesity. I’m free of the constant, nagging stress of worrying about whether I’d fit in a seat, break a chair, be able to buckle a seat belt, have enough room to maneuver in a bathroom stall.

I don’t project about other people’s reactions to me because of my size, or project my own concerns. I used to spend a lot of time assessing situations and spaces and relating them to my body shape and heft.

I’m free of medical conditions including high blood pressure, Type II diabetes and high cholesterol which means I’m no longer taking medications to help those conditions.

There are so fewer regrets in my life these days. Mostly I rued the things that I wasn’t doing and the experiences that I wouldn’t try because of my weight. Now I have the freedom to explore, to try, to do virtually everything I can think of that appeals to my sense of adventure and fun.

When I was at my top weight, I felt like I was living my life in lock down. It’s so much better to have thrown off the chains and given myself permission to move however and wherever I want to go — and to enjoy moving, dancing, and going with the energy flow.

Mind, body, and spirit are unfettered. I’m incredibly grateful and so happy for my personal independence.




It’s Not How You Fall, It’s How You Bounce Back

The title of this post is a still-slightly-new-to-me attitude that I’m trying to ingrain in my head so that I can reinforce good recovery behavior.

I have a history of yo-yo dieting.  I could go great guns for months on some diet or another and lose a good chunk of my chunkiness right until the day I fell off of the proverbial dieting wagon.  At first I didn’t understand that this was my compulsive overeater’s version of a relapse.  I only knew that once I went off track of the diet plan, I couldn’t seem to steer myself back on course.  I didn’t bounce back.  When I fell, splat, that was it.  Diet over and the lost weight was regained in short order.  To add insult to injury, those pounds usually brought along friends and I ended up weighing more than I did before I started the diet.

Emotionally, that pattern “dissed” me — as in dismayed, discouraged, disappointed, and, eventually, dissolved my motivation to try again.

There’s a lot of emotional and physical suckitude inherent in that lose/gain/succeed/fail pattern.   If I’ve had any lingering fear during this whole journey, it’s that my history would repeat.  Even after weight loss surgery, it’s possible to screw up the process and regain all of the lost poundage.  How’s that for a horrifying thought?

Trust me, I have pondered a lot about how to counteract such an established behavior cycle.  Looking at myself with complete, no bullshit honesty, I knew that I would not be “perfect” on my food plan for the rest of my life.  Falls were going to happen.  If I truly wanted long term success, I needed to take on the challenge of developing a new pattern.

That’s when I began to consider more than how I could prevent falls.  Not falling would not be enough to succeed in my new lifestyle.  I needed to learn how to bounce back after it happened.   But how?  The first step, I came to understand, was to believe that I could bounce back.  Being imperfect was okay and didn’t mean that every effort put forth before the fall was ruined or doomed.   I could and would get back on my feet, on my plan.

Secondly, I couldn’t fool myself.  Just because I accepted that I would be imperfect, and even that there would be times when I consciously decided to veer from the plan, I had to maintain awareness and rigorous honesty.  I have an eating disorder.  There is a world of difference between making the choice to eat off of my plan, and doing so compulsively without thought.  If I don’t support my own awareness, then compulsive eating takes over and sets up a pattern of thoughtless eating bite after bite after bite.  I don’t bounce back from that my friends.  I crawl and try to pull myself up off of the ground.

There’s more to consider and ponder, but for right now, these steps are a good start.  For the last 17 months, I’ve had long periods of great success with steady, rapid weight loss, times of stalled weight loss, and a couple of vacations where I put back on a few pounds.  I have not, however, experienced crashing to the ground and not being able to get back on track at all.  I’m not yo-yoing.  This is good for my confidence.  It helps to ease my underlying fear that I will eventually regain all of my weight.  I’m learning, by experiencing positive actions, that it’s possible to bounce back onto the wagon and return to the recovery road.

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