Weighty Matters

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When life is tough and issues appear to pile on, I have found that it is helpful to treat myself with as much kindness as I can muster.  Being nice to ourselves is necessary, particularly when nobody or nothing else is leaning toward that course of action.

Emotional and mental stress can affect us physically – whether in general, chronically, or even acutely.  You know from my previous post that it was a high suckage week for me.  As if all that had already happened wasn’t enough, on Thursday morning when I was getting dressed, I felt a pop in my hip.  Okay, not actually my hip.  I’ll be honest it was high on my right butt cheek.  Immediately, I experienced greater discomfort in walking, including throbbing going down the back of my right leg and also horizontally around to the front like in the crease of my upper leg.

Oh, and all week, I’ve had increased, uncomfortable tightness in the back of my problem knee.   I can’t decide whether it was better for me to now have two painful conditions on the same side, or whether I should have wished for one on each side to balance things out.

Whatever the case, I was miserable all morning at work and extra grouchy.  Luckily, I already had an acupuncture appointment scheduled for the late afternoon.  I called the practitioner and asked if we could switch to a private session because of the new problems.  She was able to bring me in earlier.  I got a thorough treatment and, thankfully, was already feeling better by the next morning.

Good thing because I had determined that this was going to be a weekend of relaxation and fun for me.  I’d taken Friday off from work  to get some things done around the house in the morning.  Then, I had plans to be in Miami that evening to see a good friend of mine perform in a community theater group play.  (I was scheduled to do rowing class in the morning but decided to give my body more time to improve.)

I’ve spent two days doing things that I wanted to do and not worrying about work stresses or other issues.  I joined my friend’s family for dinner last night and then we sat together and thoroughly enjoyed the play.  I stayed up on the mainland overnight and this morning went to a continuing class of my Tai Chi.  Yes, I was feeling that much better physically.  Acupuncture is amazing!

After class, I got together with two dear friends whom I do not see nearly often as we all would like.  In fact, it’s been two years since I saw her and more than four years since I saw him.  (He was living in Texas for a couple of years.)  We had a great time over a leisurely lunch.  Then I did some shopping.  I bought a few clothes, visited Trader Joe’s, browsed Bed, Bath & Beyond and bought a few neat kitchen things that I don’t need but will enjoy, and, of course, hit a pet superstore for things that Natty will like.

Among the things that I bought were three small bunches of bright yellow daffodils.  I love daffodils – from their uplifting color to their sweet aroma.  They just delight me.  We had bulbs planted all around our house up in New Jersey and I always looked forward to seeing their green shoots break through the ground in spring.  I miss them here in Florida so it’s no surprise that I immediately smiled when I saw them available in the flower section of TJ’s.  They’re sitting in a vase on my table right now.  I see them every time I look up and smell them even when looking at the screen while I type.

I had one element of stress intrude on my weekend.  I discovered that it was more difficult than I expected to stick with my protein/fat/carb ratios while away from home.   Oddly enough, the toughest part was getting in enough full/healthy fat.  Last night I did fine with a warm kale salad – even pushing away the small white potatoes that were included.  (Odd choice in a salad, I thought.)  To up the fat ratio, I should have asked for some ranch or bleu cheese dressing.  This morning at the hotel’s free breakfast, I expected there to be eggs available, but there weren’t any for some reason.  I didn’t want to eat a waffle or cereal, so I grabbed two small yogurts.  Lunch featured a salad bar in which I passed by things like croutons, Chinese noodles and pasta salad.  I opted for a small bowl of chili to round out the meal by did not pick up any muffins or corn bread.  Again, I should have picked a fuller fat dressing, but overall I think I was closer in my ratios.

There were also a couple of instances when a cookie looked far too tasty to pass up and later I let myself get far too hungry past dinner time.  I needed something to eat asap, chose an egg and cheese sandwich from Starbuck’s for expediency.  I intended to not eat any of the bread but I caved and had half of the roll.  It’s the first white flour bread that I’ve eaten in five weeks.

I’m not beating myself up over my food choices.  I did the best that I could outside of my home and home-work environment where I can do a more thorough job of planning and preparing.  I had a couple of small indulgences, enjoyed them, and now they’re over.  I already know what I’m going to eat for breakfast and lunch tomorrow and will plan dinner as well as meals for the next few days once I’m up and moving.

Being gentle and kind to myself is so important.  My recovery is not served by me getting angry about a spare cookie or piece of bread here and there.  Instead of focusing and being negative about those indulgences, it is far better for me to look at the good things that I did on the fly.  I also am embracing the lesson. I have a conference coming up in the future, which means that I will face nearly a week of not being home where I can carefully plan and prepare my meals.  I know I’ll have a fridge in the hotel room, but don’t know about a microwave.  I plan to bring in some backup foods for snacks or to supplement meals if my ratios weren’t balanced.  My goal will be to not get so far out of whack that I can’t reel myself back in.  I have reasonable expectations for what I can and cannot do ahead of time.  I also resolve to be kind to myself as I go through the process.



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Booyah is my word of the day. Actually, it’s my word on a lot of days. My assistant at work and I use it a lot to indicate a victory, the completion of a particular accomplishment, or when we’ve had an opportunity to be a little “in-your-face-take-that” in a somewhat metaphorical way to some opponents.

Tonight, I feel all of those things. Tomorrow it will be a full week that I’ve been on this new program. I can already tell that I’ve lost weight. That’s a victory over the stall I’ve experienced and an accomplishment. No matter what, every single one of us should remember that every successful day on a program – whatever that program happens to be – is an accomplishment. I’ve had a string of great days in a row, so Booyah!

Booyah to my eating disorder, too. That’s the “in-your-face” part of my feeling. My eating disorder sometimes acts like an ever-criticizing voice in my head. When I struggle, it says rotten things to me about how I’m screwing up, how I can’t stick to a program, how I’m doomed to regain all of my weight, how I’m weak-willed. Blahblahblahyousuckandshouldadmititblahblahblah. Well, eating disorder, you can take your critical, demeaning attitude and stuff it. I’ve had a great week, despite your effort to sabotage or undermine me so, Booyah!

Every day I stuck to the food plan and did the scheduled exercise routines. These were not easy. I’ve been sore most of the week which tells me I’ve worked muscles that needed the extra effort. I’ve also kept up with twice daily dog walks and daily Tai Chi. Today’s routine involved Pilates. I have zero experience with Pilates but I did the entire routine. I hope that my abs will thank me when they finish cussing me out. In keeping with my experiment to do some of the routines in the evening, I worked out a while after dinner and the evening dog walk. That’s probably why right now I feel particularly strong.

For so many years my body just felt beaten down, tired, and old beyond my actual age. To feel this strong and capable is more than a physical boost. It’s truly an emotional high. I love it!

I’m taking the positive energy experienced this week and bridging it into the next week of effort. I can build this into real momentum and keep chugging toward my goal.

Say it with me now, friends, “Booyah!”

**********Quick Edit************
I weighed in this morning (Friday) since I started the new program last Friday. I’m down 9 pounds! Yes, I know some is the water weight bloat but that’s still significant. So, again I say Booyah! Have a great day!


Food Plan vs Diet

You might have noticed that I rarely call what I’m doing dieting. That’s deliberate. I hate thinking of being on a diet so I try to keep my brain trained on following a healthy food plan which, right now, is also intended to be a losing plan. But not a diet. 🙂

Why, you might ask, am I so resistant to a simple word? I admit that there are a lot of negative memories and experiences infused in that simple four letter word. When I think of a diet, I automatically think of every single extreme, desperate, or even crazy thing that I tried over the years. Many of these were medically supervised, thank God, or I could be dead.

I can’t remember if my first structured commercial diet was Weight Watchers, or if it was the fat camp that I went to when I was 11. Here’s all that I’ll say about fat camp — it knocked off the pounds and we were definitely physically active, so it wasn’t a bad experience. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn enough to transition the benefits to my every day life for very long.

What I remember most about Weight Watchers was Mom driving me to the weekly classes, hating the weigh-ins, and Mom also buying some of the foods. (This was long before WW had their full lines in grocery stores.) I also remember being forced to eat tuna, which I hate. I don’t like any seafood. The only way I could choke it down was if I drowned the taste in mustard. Still, Weight Watchers is not a horrible, extreme diet to follow. Even back then it was well thought out.

So, those were the least extreme diets in my life. Now let’s get to the other end of the spectrum. In college, some doctor released the first liquid protein diet. My father checked it out and I believe it was a sign of how desperate my folks were for me to get healthy that he ever greenlighted me for it. Mom took me to the first appointment. Basically, all I took into my system for months was this viscous red, godawfultasting protein liquid. Not very much of it at that. It’s a wonder I never passed out, but I lost weight. My body fed itself on its stored fat. I took the train into NYC from school every week for a check up and to get my new supply of liquid. I was deep in ketosis, had to constantly guard against bad breath, and emotionally miserable. I can’t remember how long I stayed on this diet — maybe six months? — but I never did reach goal weight. Of course, as soon as I stopped and began eating, I put the weight right back on.

Next on the extreme scale, was one that earns its ranking for weirdness and unproven methodology. A local doctor claimed that shots of human placenta would accelerate weight loss. I don’t remember now if that was before or after my Dad’s death. I know I was an adult and Mom went with me the first time for moral support. I can’t even remember what the eating guidelines were for this program. The doctor was definitely on the creepy side. I didn’t last long with this effort.

The most successful diet I went on, prior to the weight loss surgery effort and my current success, was another one that focused primarily on protein. Nine ounces of protein a day and a cup of salad a day. No starches, no fruit at all. I ate so much chicken that year, I’m surprised that I didn’t cluck upon waking. I lost 103 pounds. Because this was another extreme plan, I went to the clinic three times a week for monitoring and also attended the weekly discussion class.

Sprinkled among the years were more attempts with Weight Watchers and forays into other popular plans like Optifast and other similar ones. I was a yo-yo dieter for sure. In 1996-1997, I consulted a nutritionist and had decent success, helped by one of the popular “diet” drugs. That drug was later pulled from the market because of it possibly causing heart problems.

After that, except for a couple more Weight Watchers online attempts, I really didn’t have any big loss successes until I decided to do the vertical sleeve gastrectomy. One could say that my current food plan is pretty extreme, but it doesn’t seem crazy. I eat enough and it’s well balanced. There just isn’t much to it. Honestly, I think I eat healthier now than I have ever, and not just in terms of quantity. I really do make an effort to eat lower fat and less sugar. I don’t eat a lot of junk starches. Fast food restaurants, which were once staples in my weekly eating, are now places I drive by instead of drive-through.

It’s almost two years since I had the surgery. Two years where I have either steadily lost weight or, when I’ve plateaued, at least maintained the weight loss. This is a record for me in terms of time. It’s been a terrific confidence boost too. I grow less scared that I’ll ultimately screw up again with every day that I soldier on. I still want to lose the remaining pounds. When I do, I don’t yet know what the maintenance food plan will look like. However, I feel really strong and positive that I can incorporate this one for life.