Weighty Matters

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Squashing Hope and Pride

If you don’t want to read a rant, you might want to move off to another blog.

I joined a Facebook group of people who are also following the Always Hungry? plan.  Today someone posted about a recent visit to her doctor.  She’s worked hard to follow the plan and has lost 11 pounds.  Emotionally, she was feeling good and strong about sticking to the plan and seeing weight loss.  She had to go to her doctor about a knee problem.  While he praised her for the weight loss, before the end of the appointment he also said that she might have to consider weight loss surgery to stop the progression of her body breaking down.

You could read in her post how his words deflated her spirit.  When I read it, all I could think was, “Damn him. There were other ways that he could have handled this situation.”  He could have encouraged her to keep on going with her weight loss efforts and pointed out that every pound lost reduces the stress and pressure on joints.  Nope.  Instead of positively reinforcing her efforts and building her up for continued success, he tore her down.  In his mind he was probably doing due diligence, just being honest and fulfilling his responsibility to his patient.  I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t realize the negative, hurtful, upsetting message he delivered.

I also don’t know if he gets that telling someone they may need to have weight loss surgery isn’t necessarily an effective message that will achieve the desired results.  Based on my own experience, I emphatically do not believe that anyone should have such a drastic, life-altering surgery unless it is 100% their choice to do so.  This is all my own opinion, of course, but I’m putting it out there.  If they are not completely committed to researching all options, to delving deep into their own heads and hearts, to redefining their relationship with food and eating and change their behaviors, it is the wrong choice.  They may enjoy success at the outset, but ultimately, there is too high a chance that they will ultimately fail.

I had a similar experience to this other woman.  In 2007, I had a significant gall bladder issue, namely a gall stone the size of a large olive was stuck in a duct.  I was in the last week of managing three weeks of filming for a tv series.  All around me, co-workers were suffering stomach virus symptoms and I was positive that’s what I was fighting off.  The symptoms of stomach upset, would come and go in waves.  Finally, when the shoot was over, I conceded that I should get to the doctor.  Maybe I needed a pill or something, right?  The night before my appointment, I was in constant discomfort, felt like if I could only start throwing up I’d be better.  I also felt like I was running a fever.

By the time I got to the doctor, I was absolutely miserable.  I stretched out on his exam table, hurting.  Even before he listened to my symptoms and did an exam he said, “I would not be doing my job if I didn’t tell you that you need to have weight loss surgery.”

I was shocked.  Not that he thought this because, well, he was a surgeon with a morbidly obese patient in front of him, but because, hello!, that patient was lying on his table in pain.  Bad timing.  Because I was in pain I couldn’t even come up with a great answer.  I sort of mumbled, “I know, I know, but could we focus on the problem I’m here for right now?”

It only took him about :30 seconds to diagnose the problem and schedule me for a couple of tests the next morning to confirm his diagnosis.  By the middle of the next day I’d already had my gall bladder removed, come out of the anesthesia, and was in a room for the night.  I was discharged the next day but not before hearing again about my urgent need for weight loss surgery.   I never went back to that doctor again.

Here’s the thing, right or wrong, I wasn’t ready.  I wasn’t in denial.  I knew, pretty much every single moment of every waking day, that I was super obese, but I also knew in my heart that I was not in the state of mind, state of emotions to commit to all of the changes that weight loss surgery would mean.

I struggled for the next four years.  I resisted.  I gave up on myself.  I went up and down emotionally and in my spirit.  When I had that defining, line in the sand moment and the big realization that I did not want to give up on myself, that I didn’t want to be dead or disabled by the time I was 60, I was ready to make the choice.  Because I was ready to make the choice, I was ready to commit 100%.

You know the success I’ve had and the struggle. Overall, I am more successful than not.  Just because I’m not yet all the way where I want to be does not invalidate my progress and the level of success I’ve achieved and, more importantly, maintained.

I wish the woman’s doctor was more aware of his words and their effect.  I wish he’d handled the situation differently.  I hope with all my heart that the woman is able to take support from the me and the other posters who commented back to her and not get so depressed and discouraged that she stops trying.  I also hope that she doesn’t allow herself to be pressured into a surgery that she isn’t ready for.  If she comes to the decision on her own, that will be a big difference.

As long as I’m ranting, I’ll share something else that happened this week on that same group.  It’s a very active group so I can’t possibly go back and find my exact post, but I had shared how good I felt not experiencing cravings and that I was really enjoying freedom from compulsive eating behavior.  The doctor who devised the plan and wrote the book left a comment on my post.  The gist of it, or at least the gist that I read and reacted to, was that people buy into the idea that there is a psychological reason for overeating when it’s really just necessary to eat the right combination of good foods.

I read that and it felt like he was invalidating eating disorders; like he was saying it’s all in my head.   I respectfully disagreed in my response and explained that I’ve lived with this for decades and recovery is not just about eating the right combo of foods.  I’m not denying that following this plan has improved my physical satiety and that helps to reduce physical cravings, but the compulsive behavior is more than hunger or cravings.  Heck, I don’t even need to be hungry, in fact, I could be stuffed to the gills, and still reach for food compulsively if I have something else going on and brewing inside my head and/or emotions.

Right now, the food plan that I am following is an extremely useful and effective tool.  If the percentages of fat, protein and carbs work to reduce the physical cravings, great.  That can go right along with the surgically altered stomach forcing me to cut down on  portions.  If I’m in a bad place and binge eating, there is only so much room in my stomach to overeat before it will hurt and come up again.  Stomach… food plan… both tools.

I honestly don’t think that the doctor intended to invalidate my experience as someone with an eating disorder.  He responded back to me and another poster who also disagreed with him in the comments.  His followup comment clarified his position a little more clearly and I felt better afterwards.  I don’t really need him to validate my experience; I’m just touchy when I perceive that someone thinks that food disorders aren’t every bit as much of a real disease as any other addictive disorder.

Okay, my rants are over for the day.  Thanks for sticking with me.

 

 

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Fooling My Brain

Very often I think that I’m hungry, am positive that if I don’t have a particular food right that very second, I will starve.  Yes, that’s overdramatized, but sometimes it’s close to how I feel.  It’s brain or head hunger, of course.  I’m not actually in danger of starvation.  My brain wants what it wants when it wants it and convinces my body to go along.

I’ve fallen into that trap more often in recent weeks.  It either happens with specific foods or with the quantity of food.  I’m not eating huge binge amounts.  Thank goodness, the restricted stomach prevents that intake.  However, I could eat a reasonable portion, wait a while, decide that I must have more and then squeeze in additional foods.

I honestly could demolish a package of cookies that way, one cookie at a time spread out over an afternoon and evening.  Mental hunger is powerful.

Determination not to give into mental hunger must be even more powerful.  Those of you old enough to remember the Reagan Administration will recall Mrs. Reagan’s campaign of “Just Say No” to drug usage.  In this case, I must just say no to my own brain cravings.

Often, I take to joshing around with my brain.  Instead of scolding myself when the food thoughts attempt a coup, I give myself a mental nudge along the lines of, “Oh come on.  Don’t be silly.  You don’t really need that (fill in the inappropriate food).”  It helps.  It makes the whole process less difficult than if I argued with myself or made myself a victim of my eating disorder.  I have to walk away from dramatic internal monologues.

This morning while preparing lunch to bring to work, I realized that I was out of nuts.  I like to bring nuts for a mid-morning snack.  For a few moments I started to get a little, well, nutty about it.  Thankfully, I stopped, did an eye-roll at myself and got a grip.  For months, I satisfied the mid-morning hunger with a single, low fat cheese stick – of which I had several in the fridge.  I plopped one in my lunch bag.  Problem solved.

I fooled my brain.  Serenity returned.  I’ve continued through the day so far without food or eating difficulties.  The cheese stick was fine mid-morning.  My lunch was the perfect, healthy, appropriate meal.  I just enjoyed a small apple for the mid-afternoon snack.  I’m meeting a friend for dinner out and already know what I’m ordering.  Likewise, I know what’s in the house for my reasonable evening snack.  It’s all good.

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