Weighty Matters

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Home and Annoyed

I’ve been away for eight days. I left a week ago yesterday for a business trip. I prepared as best I can and psyched myself into doing well with my food plan – but I bombed.

Okay, maybe bombed is too strong a description, but I wasn’t clean in my eating. I let stress and tiredness get to me and I ate too many carbs and also sugar.  I’m annoyed with myself and dreading the weekly weigh-in tomorrow. However, I am going to hold myself accountable for my actions and choices and get on the scale anyway.

It is what it is. I can be annoyed and continue to eat wrong, or I can pick myself up, dust myself off yet again, and get back on track.  I will recommit to doing the best that I can each day. I will follow a more restricted plan for the next two weeks so that I can lose as much weight as possible in time for my knee surgery.

Yes, my knee replacement is now sixteen days away. I am so ready to get it done. I am not looking forward to the surgery itself, or the immediate pain in the first couple of days, but afterward? Bring it! The sooner I get it done, the sooner I am on my way to recovery and an improved knee.

i was in Miami today for my pre-surgery appointments, including the rehabilitation orientation so I know what expect as soon as I’m out of the recovery room. There were three other people in the class and they’re all also having knee replacement. I was the youngest one there by 15 years, maybe by 20 years. I know from watching the other folks walk and hearing them talk that they are experiencing even more pain and problems than I am at this point. It was a clear look at what my future would be like if I had continued to resist getting this done. I know that my “youth” and the fact that I have worked so hard on my fitness will also help me to recovery more quickly.

I’m so grateful to my brother and sister-in-law for their counsel and how they helped me work through my resistance and fear. I’m grateful to everyone who has encouraged me since.

Lest you think that I went right from an intense five days of business meetings to a full day of medical classes and exams, without any fun — I also squeezed in a quick trip to Orlando. Friends of mine drove down from Virginia so that one could run her first half-marathon (The Disney Princess Race.) I haven’t seen them in two years so it was worth the extra effort for me to drive up to see them. We spent all day Saturday together, including lunch at the Animal Kingdom Lodge overlooking zebras, giraffes, wildebeests and cool birds. A little shopping, and then dinner out and a horse-drawn carriage ride on a lovely evening. Yesterday morning, we went to Disney to cheer on our running princess.  She did great!

It was inspiring to see her accomplish this goal. Two years ago, she had to have a few major surgeries. It took a while for her to recover and then she was determined to start running again. She’s increased her endurance and distance over time and now look at her. 13.1 miles!

I have to admit that I started wondering if jogging is something that I will be able to try once I recover completely and am used to my new knee. Maybe it’s too early to even think about it, but I can find out in the future, right?

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Speaking of Mindfulness

A local newspaper article included the suggestion to check out a Ted Talk by Jordan Brewer. I went to http://www.ted.com and found the talk, which focuses on using mindfulness to break bad habits like overeating, smoking, even texting while driving.

Here’s what the description on the site says:

Can we break bad habits by being more curious about them? Psychiatrist Judson Brewer studies the relationship between mindfulness and addiction — from smoking to overeating to all those other things we do even though we know they’re bad for us. Learn more about the mechanism of habit development and discover a simple but profound tactic that might help you beat your next urge to smoke, snack or check a text while driving.

Among other things, Dr. Brewer is Director of Research of the Center for Mindfulness at University of Massachusetts School of Medicine.

If you want to watch the talk, here’s the link: https://www.ted.com/talks/judson_brewer_a_simple_way_to_break_a_bad_habit

 

 

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Out of Town / Out of Routine

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been sticking to a more strict food plan from Sunday through Friday and then giving myself permission to have a special treat on Saturday. It’s been working for me. The weight loss isn’t in big chunks but it’s been steady. By the time of my knee replacement surgery in mid-March, I’m confident that I will have lost 20 pounds since I saw the doctor last December.  I’d hoped to lose more but when all is said and done, I am grateful to have lost at all.

Tomorrow morning, I leave for a business trip and will be away from home for more than a week. (Tacking on a weekend of fun with friends.)  Being away from home and living at a hotel means that I will not be able to prepare my meals the way that I’m used to, the way that’s been working for me. I’m a little apprehensive. Okay, I’m a lot apprehensive.

Traditionally, when I go to these things, I tend to carb overload because that’s what’s usually the  most available food in the mornings with the bagel/pastry/fruit arrays that are normally provided as part of the meetings.  It’s just so easy because those foods are just there! Even if the platters do include yogurt, it’s usually the low fat stuff that has more sugar and carbs.

I also get a little anxious because the meals are on the meeting’s time schedule, not on mine. That messes with my head.  Then, on top of everything else, I tend to over-caffeinate too.

Add to all this is the fact that I will not have my rowing and Tai Chi classes for exercise, or my fitness DVDs.

In case it wasn’t obvious, I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing my past behavior at this meeting. I want to do things differently this time. I’m so afraid that I will eat inappropriately to my needs and goals and end up gaining back some of the weight that I’ve worked so hard to lose. So, analyzing the past means that I can strategize how to succeed this time out.

I’ve planned some things that will help. I’m taking a shaker cup and some individual protein powder packets so I can shake up a protein drink in the morning before I go downstairs to the meeting. The protein will definitely be a better choice for me than white flour products and sugar.

I’ve also packed some cheese wedges that don’t need to be refrigerated and some jerky sticks. Again – good protein choices that are easy and to take to the meeting with me and consume when I need to.

For the caffeine kick, I know perfectly well that I don’t need four cups of black tea. I do, however, need to keep up with my water intake. So, I will commit to no more than two cups of black tea in the morning and then make sure to sip, sip, sip my water throughout the day. Not hard to do when there will be pitchers and glasses on the tables.

For lunches and dinners, I am reinforcing a positive mindset that I can make healthy choices from whatever is on the menu. Protein and produce are the key things on which I want to focus. I’m sure I can find some at the other meals.

As far as exercise, the hotel has a fitness center. My boss is in training for a bridge run in April. In addition to going to rowing classes, she also runs a few times a week. Neither one of us wants to take a week off from our exercise routines, so we’re packing some workout clothes and planning to get up early enough to hit that fitness center at least a couple of times while we’re there.

So… I’ve pre-planned and packed what I could so that I’ll have food available. I’m working on my mindset. In the end, that’s really the key to whether I do great with my food plan this week or crash, burn and compulsively consume unnecessary, unwanted calories and carbs.  I will do my best to be mindful and thoughtful whenever I am around food. Staying conscious and “in the moment” are vitally important.

Maybe instead of worrying that I’ll be “out of my routine”, I should just start cultivating the idea that I’ve developed a new routine for whenever I am out of town.

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Cheat Day?

Last week, I did six days in a row of a more restricted food plan. Not only did I not have any white flour products, white potato, rice, pasta or anything with refined sugar, I also cut out milk, yogurt, beans, legumes, nuts, fruit and a number of vegetables.

I still ate delicious food and did not feel in the least like I was starving. It’s just a good solid high protein/low carb plan that boosts my metabolism and weight loss.

I planned for six days and that’s what I adhered to. Yesterday, I knew I had two social functions. I didn’t want to go wildly off plan, but I wanted to have a little more flexibility. The plan was to take yesterday and today off from the restricted plan and then get back to it tomorrow through Friday.

I was pretty proud of how I handled the day yesterday and the functions I attended. I did have a small piece of brownie at lunch and a chocolate chip cookie at night but I had also worked out and made very good food choices for all the other meals. I felt like I was still in a balanced plan for a “cheat day”.

Today started off with an hour bike ride followed by a good protein-specific breakfast. I was on plan for the day. I did my supermarket shopping for things that would fit my restricted food plan this week and I even prepared for a business trip that’s coming up. I got some cheese product that doesn’t need refrigeration and some jerky sticks that I can take with me as 911 foods.

Tonight’s dinner was from my Plated.com subscription. Barbeque turkey meatloaf with roasted broccoli and mashed sweet potato. I made adjustments in the recipe such as using less of the barbeque sauce because I  know it had sugar or molasses in it. The mashed potato recipe called for adding maple syrup. I like sweet potatoes without lots of stuff added so I opted to bake mine instead and then only ate half of it. (I treated Natty to the other half.)

But here’s my beef with myself. I am wondering if there will ever come a time when mentally it will be okay with me to eat certain things and not feel like I’m cheating.

There really isn’t anything wrong with having half of a sweet potato, for crying out loud. To be 100% honest, there isn’t anything wrong with occasionally having sweets like a small piece of brownie and a cookie. It isn’t like I gobbled down an entire pan or binged on a bag. (In the interest of full disclosure, in my old out-of-control binge days, I would eat an entire bag of cookies or two in a single evening.)

So, despite the fact that I ate perfectly acceptable quantities of food with a good balance of protein and produce; even though I ate sweets in small portion; I feel like I failed.

Sweet Lord I am hard on myself. At least I recognize it. The issue for me tonight is getting the scold out of my head. I keep thinking that I failed and that tomorrow morning on the scale I will have gained back the pounds that I lost last week.

I try to tell myself that this is the weird FEAR acronym of False Evidence Appearing Real.  I want to believe that I did not trash a week of effort with one mild “cheat day”. Then I start thinking that as a WLS patient with an eating disorder, maybe I’m in denial or fooling myself to think that a cheat day is very okay.

Right now, I don’t have any good answers, only diseased thoughts. To deal with them, I’ve closed the kitchen for the rest of the days which means nothing more to eat. I have my meals for tomorrow planned and the foods I need for a snack and lunch at work are ready to be packed.

I’m leaving my weighing options open. I may elect to not weigh myself tomorrow morning but to wait for Tuesday morning, which is the regular weekly weigh-in day for my group. Perhaps by having a solid day tomorrow I can resolve some of the negative thoughts and worries that I’m experiencing tonight. We shall see! I’m hopeful.

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Re-Learning

I’m really enjoying the support of this online group I joined of all weight loss surgery folks. With a weekly weigh-in that we report and post about, it helps me with my accountability. Trust me, it wasn’t easy for me to be willing to step on the scale, take a picture of my weight and post it to the group. Then, I saw so many other women doing it – some who weigh more and some who weigh less – and decided to stop resisting the idea.

It is easier to do this when I’ve lost weight from the week before. That’s happened every week but one, but I was still honest on the week that I’d put back a couple of pounds.

There are different tools to be used and also mindsets to be cultivated. I’m re-learning things about my stomach and my eating that I’d been introduced to after my surgery and for the first year or so.  After that, I sort of unlearned them so it’s good to reconnect.

One of the main lessons is that I physically do not need as much food as my head wants, or that it tries to make me believe that I do. When I eat mindfully, really paying attention to the quantity on my plate and, most importantly, my hunger and satiety levels, I eat less.

Here was a big lesson that I’m still working on so that I’m more consistent. The group coaches advise that we always remind ourselves that we are Weight Loss Surgery people. That sounds obvious but I realize after a lot of reflection and consideration that I wasn’t keeping it front of mind. It’s like I was pretending that I could eat like a regular person just in restricted quantities.

Well, I can but I can’t. Maybe what I should say is that I can sometimes but those sometimes need to really be only some of the time – not all of the time. Tagging onto the WLS reminder is the need for me to always remember that I have the eating disorder of compulsive eating/binge eating.

For ease of typing, I’m just going to combine the letters and identify myself as WLSBED. So what have I relearned in the last month, or at least stopped denying about food? The big things are that I cannot eat what I call “junk” carbs every day or even every other day. Bread, biscuits, pancakes, waffles, cookies, cakes, white potatoes, white rice, regular pasta – These all need to be exceptions. If I eat them with any regularity, I might as well just pick up globs of fat and slap them on my butt. I am a WLSBED – These carbs are not food plan friendly and will lead to weight gain.

It’s a given that refined sugar products – candies, ice cream, those cookies and cakes again, you don’t need a full list – definitely need to the rarest of rare indulgence.  I can get away with a very small amount of good dark chocolate that has a lower sugar content, but definitely not even that morning, noon and night.

One of the hardest things for me to accept was that I had to really cut back on my fruit intake. I love fruit. It just doesn’t seem fair, but it’s something that I’ve come to accept as a WLSBED. Honestly, prior to joining this group, I was eating fruit three times a day on most days – in my morning smoothie, my afternoon apple snack, and then often another piece as a late night snack. I don’t know where my common sense went but I finally get that I was just sucking in a whole lot more sugar than my body could handle if I wanted to maintain or lose weight.

There are lots of other food-related things that I’m either learning or breaking out of my denial about.  There are still other things that I knew and accepted that I’m positively reinforcing myself for doing which helps to make them stick. For example, I always look for the sugars in other products and try to cut them down or cut them out.

In case you haven’t realized it just by reading this post, one other thing that I’ve re-learned is that being successful in this endeavor, meeting my goals and challenges, daily living as a WLSBED is a LOT of work.  Thinking ahead, planning and preparing my daily foods takes thought and time. It all calls for effort and willingness. The willingness I have in abundance. So the days that I’m exhausted, I reach down for the spirit to keep going.

Today I’m grateful for all that I’m learning and re-learning. They are helping me make progress to where I want to be.

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Connecting with Hunger

I wish I had a signalling device in my head that would indicate when I am truly, physically hungry and when I just think that I am.  Honestly, hunger is my go-to reaction for a lot of situations, all connected to various emotions. As a compulsive overeater, I can eat my emotions a lot, which then causes more emotions – mostly negative – and that just snowballs into more eating.

So, it’s really important for me to be sure that I eat when I’m hungry and not when I’m experiencing an emotion that is triggering my brain to want to eat. In program we talk a lot about HALTS, an acronym for Hungry, Angry or Anxious, Lonely, Tired or Thirsty, Stressed.  I sometimes think of the L standing for lackadaisical because it’s the closest word to Bored that I can come up with and fit in the acronym.

HALTS is a helpful tool. When I think I’m hungry, before I eat I ask myself – am I physically hungry, or am I angry, lonely, tired or stressed instead?  This simple act, when I employ it, does a good job of connecting me with true hunger and helps me safeguard against eating something  compulsively. I can then reroute my behavior to a healthier choice.

Take this afternoon, for example. At 4:30, I was tasked with an urgent project at work. As I walked to my office to get started, I passed a friend as she unwrapped a tasty piece of chocolate from the office stash. Immediately, I thought I was hungry and absolutely needed a piece of candy, too. I stopped and ran through the HALTS checklist. I knew as soon as I got past the H that I wasn’t really hungry yet. I was stressed. With that confirmed in my head, I walked into my office, drank some water, and dug down into the project.

Like any exercise or technique, I get better at HALTS when I practice. These days, I practice a lot because I know that it works and will help me work on my goals.  Eating when I’m truly hungry and not compulsively grabbing for unplanned foods keeps m healthy and on the path for recovery.

 

 

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