Weighty Matters

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Drawn to Scale

Most days, stepping onto the scale is part of my morning routine.  I know that I’m very focused on the number as a measure of my success or lack thereof, depending on what the number reads.  Someday I’ll figure out a way to break that fixation.  I tried not weighing myself for two weeks, which spread to a month, but in the interest of complete honesty, doing so right at the time more fed into my denial.  It allowed me to ignore that some poor eating choices was leading to weight gain.

So, of course, I was over-the-moon delighted that I lost 7 pounds in the first week of Lean-Clean-Green.  Yes, I was just as, almost as, pretty excited that I felt so great, but the weight loss was the true validation.  On the one hand, frequent weighing grounds me in reality.  On the other, more negative hand, frequent weighing distracts me from what ought to be my main focus – eating in a way that is abstinent of compulsion and bingeing.

Again and again I remind myself that it’s about the behavior.  My weight is more like an indication.  It’s the end result of the eating disorder.  For me, anyway.  There are many, many people with this disorder who are not overweight.  I am not a number on the scale, yet I am drawn to that square piece of glass and metal with its electronic sensors.  That number can set me up with an “atta girl” affirmation or be used as a club with which to beat myself.

This is another aspect of overreaching need to embrace acceptance.  After all, since I am not on a diet, there is no end date or end weight that halts the effort.  Eating in healthy, non-compulsive, ways is a lifelong endeavor.  There is no magic weight that I’ll reach where I can proclaim, “Ta da, I’m done!”

Yes, I can celebrate milestones, like when I eventually make it into “One-derland” or when I also eventually hit what I’ve determined is the target number that I want to use as my baseline measurement.  I have that number in my head.  I’m thinking of it as the measure that I want to stay “at or around” for my own physical well being.

Other than that, it doesn’t really matter if the number on the scale is acceptable if the way that I’m eating is off track.  So, again, something to keep working on in my program of recovery.

How about you?  Are any of you scale and weight obsessed?

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Robbing Myself of Joy

So yesterday I was in a really pissy place with a boatload of discouragement and frustration. Never, ever, underestimate the benefit of asking for help and encouragement. I asked and I received both here and via private email. Thank you, friends. I am, indeed, encouraged by your words and feel supported.

There is still much for me to think about and process as I move forward. Stirring all of your words and stories together, the first thing that I come back to is the realization I’ve had that in focusing so much on what I’ve been unable to accomplish, i.e. getting under 200 pounds and then hitting goal weight, I am diminishing the pleasure and happiness of all that I have already achieved. I’m robbing myself of joy. That, my friends, simply will not do. I’ve lost something like 85% of the weight that I need to lose which, consequently is nearly half of my total body weight. (If I’m doing the math right, which I’m pretty sure I am. Then again, it is math which has never been my strong suit.) However, arithmetic aside, I’ve lost a FREAKING LOT OF WEIGHT. I need to celebrate that every single day. I eat healthier. I have gone from sedentary to active. I don’t suffer with extreme knee pain and overall body aches. I don’t have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or high blood sugar any more.

I am healthy and active. My life used to be filled with obesity-induced obstacles. Now those obstacles are gone. This is a time to be happy, energetic, free of excessive worry and food obsession, free-spirited.

It is not a time to be anxious, stressed out, frustrated, discouraged and sad over the last 30 stubborn pounds.

One of my friends pointed out that the worrying and stress induce cortisol production. According to the opening of an article in Psychology Today, The stress hormone, cortisol, is public health enemy number one. Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels: interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease… The list goes on and on.

Screw dat.

Today, I woke up grateful for so many things and all of the positive changes I have experienced. Today I am going to catch myself any time I start to obsess over lack of weight loss again and divert myself with the positive spin. I’m not denying that there is more I want to do, but I need to recapture the happiness of all that I can and all that I am.

Each new day presents the endless opportunity to enjoy my best, most authentic life. That’s the goal. I will continue to follow my healthy eating plan and exercise efforts. The weight will come off when it comes off. In the meantime, I’m taking back my joy.



Knowing that I “only” need to lose another 25-30 pounds has energized me. It’s like I’d gotten weary of the journey or bored with the food plan but now I’ve perked up and am excited about hitting the homestretch. The happy feeling has stayed with me all day.

For some reason, I had trouble sleeping completely through the night but kept waking up every couple of hours. I’m not sure why since I wasn’t stressing anything in particular. Whatever the case, I finally gave up around 6:30 a.m. The wind wasn’t too bad this morning, so after feeding the dogs I went out for a seven mile ride. Came home, ate breakfast, walked the dogs and then hopping on the bike again to pedal to my Tai Chi class — slightly less than two miles each way. This was an introductory class session where we invite newcomers that might be interested in taking the class. At the tea break we share a little about the society that developed and runs this particular form and some of us shared about our personal experiences with the health benefits.

I shared my story, explaining that other than simple walking, Tai Chi was the first form of exercise that I started after weight loss surgery. Some of my classmates didn’t know the story. There were audible gasps when I said that I used to weight 386 pounds and have lost 182.

The whole class as we worked on the first four moves of the set, and then at the end of class when we did the entire 108 move set, I really enjoyed the grace and ease of my body in motion. I felt balanced, strong and flexible. After that 90 minutes of class, I hopped on the bike for my ride home, still soaring on that strong, ease of movement feeling.

All day long I’ve thought about the weight still to lose. I don’t want to get ahead of myself and start estimating how long it will take me. Sure, I’d rather lose it sooner than later, but I also don’t want to drive myself crazier than I am when it comes to obsessing about the scale number. That obsession leads to me doing dumb stuff like I did the other night.

I just need to focus on eating right and exercising. There’s a difference between staying focused and obsessing. Focusing on the healthy behavior keeps me in recovery. If I do that consistently, I don’t need to obsess. The weight will come off as it’s meant to do.

It’s also important for me to balance my emotions. Right now I’m on a high because it only recently hit me that I’m in the homestretch. I can’t maintain at this level of excitement. That also leads to obsession.

So, everything in moderation, including my emotions and my eating. I’ll get there. The end goal is no longer a far, far off impossible mark. For the first time in my life, it’s within my reach.

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Temporary “Screw It” Day

I want to thank you all again for your thoughtful suggestions, comments and support. I value the input you provided and have a plan.

Have to admit that the emotional impact of the doctor’s appointment and “cut more calories” suggestion stayed with me. Okay, it’s still with me today. Yesterday, I decided to give myself permission to say, “Screw it” to my food plan. No, not long term. I do not want to give up my healthier lifestyle. I just needed a day to not worry about eating any carbohydrates, enjoying a glass of wine, or eating a freaking cookie.

Last night was the holiday boat parade in my city. This sails right past my home and I usually have friends over. This year, I invited some close friends for dinner. I’ve said before that I still enjoy cooking and no cooking makes me happier than Italian. The smell of a good tomato sauce simmering on the stove delights my senses and makes my mouth water. I love mixing up a batch of meatballs to go with the sauce. Knowing that the friends coming over particularly like my Italian meals simply made me smile as I chopped, sautéed, seasoned, tasted and put everything together. The end result — a big bowl of meatballs, sausage and penne in sauce with crusty Italian bread and salad on the side. For dessert a plate of cookies and biscotti.

I’m sure between the preparation and the actual meal, I ate more than I would normally. I didn’t gorge on pasta but had some penne and some bread and a couple of cookies. All told, I ate less than half what my friends consumed. Strike me down, diet gods, I also had two small glasses of red wine.

We ate on my porch in the glow of my twinkling holiday lights. My friends savored the food I’d cooked. I experienced the time-honored joy of feeding people I care about. One couple’s three year old son entertained us with his energy and adorable “Wows!” whenever another brightly lit boat passed. It was a beautiful, fun, relaxing evening and I enjoyed every minute of it. Of course I made a huge amount of food so I packed up two generous “to go” containers and sent most of the leftovers home with my guests. I kept some meatballs and a little bit of penne for myself. Today I don’t even care so much about the pasta but I’ll enjoy the meat and sauce. I can always run up to Publix and get a spaghetti squash as a substitute.

With all of the cooking yesterday, I didn’t get in my full 10,000 steps. This morning I woke up to a beautiful day and immediately went out for an hour-plus bike ride, followed by a 15 minute dog walk. By the end of the day I’m sure I’ll exceed 10,000 steps. I will not overindulge in a pity party but will keep myself in good check with my eating.

I’m not going to cut my calories to 600 per day. There is not part of me that thinks doing so is a healthy choice. We’re heading into the holidays. I will be out of my normal routine for several days. While I would love to lose more weight during the rest of the month, I’m setting very simple goals: Maintain my current weight and keep exercising. When all is said and done, I’m going to be fine. No, I’m going to be better than fine.

Whether it takes me six months, nine months, or all of 2014, I am going to reach my goal weight at some point in 2014. On that I would never say screw it. I am absolutely committed to this goal and I will make it.

The best overall entry, it copied the leg lamp from a popular holiday movie.

The best overall entry, it copied the leg lamp from a popular holiday movie.


Emotional and Physical Revolt

I had my every-three-months follow up appointment with my weight loss surgeon. This is the worst period of weight loss I’ve experienced since my surgery almost two years ago. I had ups and downs and the last couple of weeks were better, beginning with the post-Thanksgiving detox. However, overall, the total number of pounds was somewhere between few and pitiful.

Frankly, I’m puzzled. I believe that I’m doing good with my food plan. For sure I’ve stepped up my exercise. Simple math of calories in and calories burned should have added up to more significant weight loss, but my body apparently didn’t get that memo.

I went down the list of info with my doctor, explaining what I eat each day and how much physical activity I do. I don’t know what I was expecting in terms of advice, but I know I wasn’t anticipating that his suggestion would be that I cut out more calories. Seriously? I eat between 800 and 1000 calories a day and between my regular basal metabolism rate I burn more than 2000 calories daily. Honestly, I cannot fathom how in hell I’m going to eat less, take in fewer calories. The doctor acknowledged that I’m taking in quality with high protein and low carb. However, he feels that perhaps my body’s metabolism is lower/slower than normal. He went into a lengthier explanation about how cells of the body, etc. but I had a little trouble following the explanation and difficulty focusing on what he said. I do know that in his mind, reducing volume — cutting by a quarter in his words — is the strategy I should try.

Friends, color me shocked and shade that with some accents of dismayed and confused. Emotionally, I’m in full revolt tonight. I’m pissed off, even though I’m not sure at what or at who my anger is directed. It’s unfair of me, I guess, to be ticked off at my surgeon. I guess I wanted some magic solution that would wipe out the slow progress and put me back on the path of rapid loss. It isn’t his fault that I had unrealistic expectations. He told me what he medically believes. It just didn’t jive with what I wanted to hear.

Pointless as this is, I think I’m angry at my body, my stubborn, holding-onto-fat, cells and my underperforming, uncooperative metabolism. I resisted whining in the doctor’s office but, believe me, I’m whining to myself here at home and mentally stamping my feet in tantrum mode. I don’t want my metabolism to be slow. I want it to rev up and melt the freaking remaining pounds off of me asap.

I can’t let this derail me. I have to reconnect with my own focus and remember the promise to “go to any lengths to get it”. If that means cutting back on the already small portions I eat and compensating with even more water if I’m still hungry, then that’s what I’ll do. Or at least I’ll try my very best to do so and remember to have convenient small snacks available if all of the exercise triggers the need to eat. All that I can do is my best effort and hope that it’s enough to keep me going. I hold onto the thought that even though I didn’t lose the amount of pounds I hoped, at least I lost and didn’t gain. I know I’ve reduced my body size and my percentage of body fat. I am still moving in the right direction, even if I’m moving slowly.

To share a quick funny, in our appointment the doctor cautioned me about the approaching holidays. “It will be tough, he reminded me. “Lots of food around all of the time.”

“Dr., food is all around me all of the time every day,” I replied. “It has to be my choice to not eat it.”

On a brighter note, I ran into Kohl’s while I was “off the rock”. I needed new black pants that go all of the way to the tops of my feet versus stopping at capri or cropped pant length. Before I could get to the Women’s Department with its more familiar clothing sizes, geared toward heavier women, I had to walk right by the Misses Department. I get really confused about all of the different departments in a particular store, but I decided to brave the Misses section and see if I could figure it out. Yes, I know, it sounds on the surface like I’m pitiful. Imagine a grown woman of almost 56 getting confused and intimidated by store clothing departments. Still, if you don’t know and have never shopped them, you really need time or help to navigate and find the clothing you want.

The good news is that I went into the Misses section and found the Simply Vera Wang line. “Oh what the hell,” I thought. I grabbed a gray sweater that I thought was pretty and went to a dressing room to try it on. I’m at a weird place with clothing sizes. In some I’m still an XL, as opposed to a 1X, 2X, 3X or 4X. In other styles or cuts, I’m a L with tops. I can wear a 16 W pant, but still need a straight 18. Anyway, I found a couple cute sweaters from Vera Wang in XL. They look terrific with the new pants I purchased. I’m almost as pleased about my navigation of the store as I am about the clothes themselves. It’s a great advancement for me to take this on, silly as that sounds. I’m so glad I was successful.


The Why of Motivation

After my morning bike ride (17 miles – a personal best. Booyah! I was shooting for 20 but, frankly, I needed to pee. There’s always next weekend.) I sat out on the porch in the gorgeous weather with a cup of tea and read the Sunday paper. (Bonus, two manatees swam by while I was sitting there.) Parade had an interview with Pastor Rick Warren who spearheaded a weight loss and fitness effort in his congregation using something he created in consultation with experts (Dr. Oz) and called the Daniel Plan. (He’s written a book about it but I don’t actually know the deets.) The article was interesting and the story of the congregation supporting each other is inspiring. Something Warren said in the interview really struck me. I’m paraphrasing, but basically he said that why we want something is the key to how long we sustain the effort.

I often wonder why I’m sustaining a successful effort now, longer than I ever had, when I ultimately failed numerous times before in my life. Oh sure, I often achieved significant weight loss but never got all the way to goal weight and never kept it off.

Perhaps I’m putting the cart before the horse. I haven’t actually reached goal weight and once I do, only time will tell if I maintain the loss. However, I feel more confident than I ever have in my life that I will succeed in both of these goals. In the meantime, I can look at where I am today — one year and ten months after weight loss surgery with a weight loss of 175 pounds. I have never lost this much or sustained an effort this long before. Why is this time different? What was the “Why” of my motivation?

I go back to the lightning bolt “aha” moment I had in the summer of 2011. For months I’d told myself that I was resigned to being super obese for the rest of my life, regardless of how short a period of time that “rest” turned out to be. Then in that big moment of clarity, I said to myself, “I do not want to be disabled by the time I’m 60.” My goal was to lose weight, and use weight loss surgery to help me achieve it. The “why”, the motivation was to enable myself, to become healthy, and to live a better life as long as possible.

What made this different than all of the times before? Well, that depends on which time before. I think when I was a kid my motivation was so others would stop picking on me, so boys would like me. I’m sure that even when I was older my prime motivation remained to make myself more attractive.

As an adult between, say 30 to 40, I’d talk about wanting to get to a healthy weight. Why wasn’t that enough? Looking back and pondering this from my current perspective, I believe that at that time, I wasn’t yet experiencing the true negative impact on my health. I knew I was risking high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart attack, clogged arteries, stroke, early death. However, I wasn’t yet on medication for any of these things. I hadn’t experienced the health scares. I also was still mobile. The horrible, eventual future as still sort of abstract.

Flash forward to 2011. I was so overweight that I was hampered by it in countless ways. I was on medication for high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. I couldn’t walk without breathing hard and needed to help pull myself up stairs, gasping. My knee could have given out on me at any time. Nothing abstract about it. When I couldn’t haul myself up the ladder of my boat, it all came together that my eventual future had arrived.

So the goal of losing weight gained a more powerful, concrete motivation — so that I would not be disabled, but enabled, so that I would be fit and healthy with a chance at a good, longer life. That’s the “why” in my motivation and the reason that I have sustained the effort this long and am heading full sail into the future until I reach my goal and beyond. The goal will change once I get to whatever number/size my doctor and I eventually agree on. Once I achieve my “goal weight”, my goal will be to make the choices that maintain the weight loss and fitness levels. The motivation will remain the same that has served me so well thus far — to live my best, most enabled life.


Stepping Stones and Milestones

Day two of the detox went great again. Part of me thinks I should keep going with what is essentially the “full liquid” program that the doctor put me on for two weeks prior to my weight loss surgery. Then part of me says, “You’re honeymooning the detox because you had two great days. Let’s no go overboard.” That second part of me is so sensible.

This is coming down to weight loss. I’m 13 pounds away from my next big milestone – reaching what others on this journey refer to as “One-derland”. It means getting to a weight lower than 200 pounds. I have an appointment with my surgeon on December 13th. It would make me incredibly happy to lose 13 pounds in that time, but at this stage of the game, it is unrealistic to set my sights on that rapid a weight loss in two weeks. I’d have to go on a complete hunger strike which would be neither sustainable nor healthy.

I don’t even know that I can set this as the goal for the end of the year. Well, I could set it. I could set anything, but going by the number does not mean that I’m setting myself up for success. In fact, I know that it would set me up for stress, frustration and, possibly, failure. As much as I want to get there right now, I need to trust that the process and my efforts will get me to my destination.

Everything that I say or do needs to be a stepping stone to continued success and eventually reaching my goal. Think about what stepping stones do for us. They define the path and, when the ground beneath our feet is unstable, marshy or otherwise difficult to travel, they support our steps and keep us going forward on the journey.

I think I’m a little road weary but at the same time committed to continuing on. Sticking to the food plan, working hard on my exercise, attending to all of the little things adds up to achieving the big things. The stepping stones lead to milestones.


Stalled or Self-Sabotage?

Yesterday I read a truly outstanding, revelatory blog post by Skye. I couldn’t possibly do it justice in my description here, but you can go and read it too at her blog.

Skye talks about power, protection and progress and how she often diminishes herself, her strengths and talents, largely out of a need to protect herself.

This really made me think. It touched something inside that I need to tug out and study. I have been musing a lot about where it’s my body that’s had me sort of stalled in my weight loss, or if I’m self-sabotaging my progress. Am I having a few more incidents of eating compulsively strictly because I have the eating disorder, or am I using my disease to interfere with my weight loss success?

I’m sort of in a tug-of-war with myself. On the one hand, I bought my bike and am riding it regularly. Whether riding to Tai Chi class and back yesterday, or the half hour bike ride I did a short time ago, I’m definitely increasing the amount of exercise. On the other hand, I know for a fact that I should not buy that snack mix. Even if it has healthy nuts and raisins in it with a sprinkling of chocolate pieces, it is not a good food for me to have in the house because there is a great likelihood that I will snack on it too often.

I bought a bunch of fresh fruit and veggies to prepare for meals this week. I also gave in to the buy one-get-one-free on English Muffins. In my brain at that moment of decision was the thought that, everyone once in awhile it’s okay for me to have a little bit of carbohydrates and at least these were the whole grain, low fat variety. Honestly, these would be okay if I ate half of one. Believe it or not, just that little restraint can be a struggle for me.

Anyway, I am really wondering whether I’m self-sabotaging and purposely slowing myself down. If so, why? I do not have the slightest idea of why I would be reluctant to achieve goal weight. I am so incredibly happy — joyful, elated even — with the progress I’ve made so far. There is no payoff to me in not seeing my way through to the end. There is nothing that I fear about being healthy and at goal weight. At least, there is nothing that I can identify.

This is an interesting conundrum to ponder. In between Skye’s terrific post and her follow up sharing about the rebound and my own musing, I was reminded of the Marianne Williamson piece that says:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

We are all meant to shine. I love this idea.
So, for now, whenever I am tempted to make a poor food choice or grab for a little more of even a healthy snack, I’m going to ask myself why. Why do I want to eat that? What’s the payoff? Why do I think I want that more in that moment than I want to keep making progress toward my goal.