Weighty Matters

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Sorry for my Absence

Hi, All,

I was away for a four day weekend and life was crammed busy right before the trip.  I’ve gotten more reluctant to post about when I’m going away because internet stuff and safety have grown increasingly crazy.  If I’d had more time, I’d have pre-written some posts, but I didn’t.  So, my apologies.

It was a terrific trip away.  I went up home to New Jersey for my cousin’s daughter’s wedding.  As is my normal m.o. when I fly up for visits, I try to arrange things so that I get to see as many people as possible.  This trip was no different in that regard.  It was a little different because I had the opportunity to see people who haven’t seen me in a long time.  There were cousins who haven’t seen me in person since before my weight loss surgery.  There were friends who I haven’t seen in 15, 30, even 40 years.  I should qualify that statement — some of these people haven’t seen me in person.  We do connect on Facebook.

As you know I’ve been struggling emotionally and spiritually with my recovery.  This trip helped me with those things.  Yes, I soaked up the amazement over the change in my appearance and the compliments that followed, but it really wasn’t about my ego.  It helped me reconnect with just how far I’ve come in my journey, what I’ve accomplished, and the day to day recovery.  I need these reminders sometimes.  They’re good for my heart and spirit.

I also enjoyed some conversation with my sister-in-law.   When I’m struggling with the eating disorder, I need to hold onto the important fact that even if I have not reached my goal weight and I’m sort of in a holding stage right now, I have not regained the weight that I lost.  Sure, I’ve probably said it before, but that is a major difference in my life.  Whenever I’ve lost weight in the past, I have always, always regained it — and usually with more pounds added on.

So, here I am, holding all of the positives that were showered on me and integrating them into my spirit.  I need to remind myself of this essential part of my recovery.  Time and time and time again.

The disease is an every day reality.  The recovery reminders need to be every day too.

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Why Did I Bother?

I’ve been struggling over something and wanted to get it more square in my head before I blogged about it. Problem is that I’m still not sure I’m square with it but it’s been several days since I posted. So, I decided to plunge in and write about it and see if that helped me even it out.

While I was away, someone I have a “conference aquaintanceship” with chatted with me about my weight loss. I’ve seen her once before since I had the weight loss surgery and the change in my body size is pretty dramatic. She was amazed and largely complimentary. Like many people, she wanted to talk more about my process and journey. I don’t mind. Often, if someone isn’t asking for their own benefit or need, they talk to me for information because someone they care about is obese and is either contemplating surgery or they wish the person would think about it. For the record, I never tell anybody they should have surgery. It is totally not for me to suggest to anyone that they should undergo a life-altering, potentially dangerous, operation. I can only express what has worked for me and how I feel about it.

Anyway, this acquaintance and I chatted for a bit and it was fine — up until the point where she realized that it’s been more than two years since my surgery and I’m not yet at goal weight. The woman asked, “If it’s taking you this long to lose the weight, why did you bother having surgery? Why didn’t you just do it on your own?”

She sounded a little scornful and disappointed, like the time duration had burst a bubble or destroyed an expectation she’d fostered.

I immediately experienced a range of reactions. I felt criticized for not losing all of my weight faster. I was shocked at what I thought was insensitivity on her part. Then there was a healthy dose of my asking myself, “What the f**k does she know about it?”

At the same time that I was trying to process my reactions, I also wanted to formulate a decent response that didn’t include obscenities and an abrupt departure. My fall-back position is to not reveal when someone’s words hurt or upset me. It’s a natural, animal reaction. Don’t show injury, illness or weakness. If you do, predators will kill and eat you. I didn’t particular feel the urge to educate her either. Normally, I’ll give as much time and talk as needed if someone has an honest desire or need. That I just wanted to vacate this conversation told me that what she’d said had pushed a button inside and I wasn’t prepared to deal.

I mustered up a smile and said, “If I could have lost all of this weight without surgery, I would have done it decades ago.” Then I excused myself and left.

I just had my breakthrough on why this has bothered me so much for so long. Her comments, although I don’t believe she meant them in a hurtful, malicious way, triggered my disease, believing-I’m-not-good-enough (B.I.N.G.E.) reaction. In that instant, I felt like I’ve somehow failed because I’m still not at goal weight. Even while I type this, I know that it’s screwy and untrue. I have not failed. This is a lifelong journey, not something with a finite beginning, middle and end. I’m still walking the walk, one step at a time. I’ve been on this road for more than two years. I’ve never before sustained an effort this long.

For the record, what I said to the woman is also the absolute truth. If I could have lost so much weight and kept it off without surgery, I would have done so. Years and years ago with every diet, I wished that I would get to goal weight and keep it off. I was never successful for longer than a year. Why did I bother having weight loss surgery? That’s why. I couldn’t do it on my own but I’m doing it now.

That’s victory, not failure.

Ok. I feel better now.

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Super Dieters and the Other 85%

Have you ever noticed how January is a virtual diet-fest, or is that diet feast, on television? Weight Watchers starts their newest program in January. Talk shows all have stories about diets, getting healthy, all this kind of important stuff. I think it has to do with the whole “new year, new you” approach when the calendar flips over. There was a story recently on Good Morning America about a guy who lost 392 pounds! Today, Dr. Oz devoted a big part of his show to his two week rapid weight loss plan. People Magazine’s current issue profiles people who lost half their body size on various plans, but without bariatric surgery. I’m sure across the various forms of media there have been any number of other stories to help us all lose weight.

Do any of you watch World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer in the evening? I had it on tonight, waiting for their story on Super Dieters. They opened up with a fact that floored me. They said that 85% of people who diet and lose weight, regain the pounds. 85%! As a nation, are we simply doomed to fail?

The news story talked about an organization call the National Weight Control Registry that tracks more than 10,000 people who have lost weight and are succeeding in keeping it off. I went to the website and saw that they operate with an address associated with Brown University and a Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center. They’ve published a number of research papers in what appear to be reputable publications and they post some interesting data gleaned from the participants. For example, here’s one bullet point with some percentages:

There is variety in how NWCR members keep the weight off. Most report continuing to maintain a low calorie, low fat diet and doing high levels of activity.

78% eat breakfast every day.
75% weigh themselves at least once a week.
62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.
90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day.

Back to the concept of Super Dieters. It appears that World News is going to stretch out the info over multiple nights but tonight they gave the first two tips that I guess are used by a high percentage of the Super Dieters who provide their information to the NWCR. Tip One: Don’t Cheat. By that they explained that the successful maintainers don’t deviate from their plans, not even to treat themselves on holidays. Tip Two: Eat Breakfast.

There are some success stories posted in which people describe how they lost and what they’re doing now. I haven’t read them all but the ones I did seemed infused with strong common sense and knowledge that, at heart, we all really know. Eat fewer calories. Eat better quality food as in fruits and vegetables over sugary junk food snacks, etc. Exercise more.

Oh jeez. Is that all?

Okay, that was cynical. I apologize. I’m harkening back to the fact that I know all of this and it does all make sense. Consume less, burn more. I get it. I’m doing it. What I want to understand is why these people are in the 15% who are able to continue to make these good, positive, successful choices day after day after week after month after year.

I honestly believe that all of us know what it takes. Where we run into trouble is consistently making the healthy, successful choices. That’s what I want to know. Is there research on how one keeps themselves motivated? How one always says “No” to the stuff that isn’t on their plan?

As I approach the two year anniversary of my bariatric surgery, I’m happy that even if I haven’t yet hit goal weight, I continue to live healthy, make better choices, and keep off the weight that I’ve already lost. This is longer than I have maintained an effort ever before. I guess despite my commitment to myself, to my healthy eating, to my consistent exercise, I’m still afraid that one day that motivation switch will have flipped to “off”. To guard against that happening, I want to know more from the people who succeed long term.

I want to be one of the 15%.

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