It is amazing to me that I am ten months out!!! How did that 10 months go flying by so quickly? But then again, sometimes I think being heavy was a LIFETIME ago, not only 10 months ago! How blessed I still feel for being able to have the surgery!
This month wasn’t a big weight loss month again (eating out, going away twice, fresh Jersey peaches (so worth it!) and then finding it hard to get back on track after vacation (but I am mostly there now). I went up 2-3# in Aug but went back down to 158 so I am doing ok. I have continued to lose inches though….i put on and zipped up my first size 10 pants this month! Wow! I would have never believed it!!!
Life is super busy but I am coping well with it…no stress eating! Though it isn’t always easy and I am not perfect. However, while I am not stress eating, I do want food more than I did at the beginning and I find myself looking over other people’s food more and more….and I have found that is certain things make it into my house (usually as a “left over”) I am still not safe around them. I guess I have to do what @BurgundyBoydoes and just say no to letting stuff in (isn’t it you that can’t let trail mix in, BB?). Anyway, it was so much easier in the beginning but I didn’t go through all of this to fail, after all failure isn’t an option (wasn’t that you, @Res Ipsa that says that?) Clearly it is a battle I haven’t conquered and I have to still slay the dragon (or at least fight him since he seems un-slay-able!)….but I am willing to keep at it.
I have been watching videos lately by Dr Matthew Werner, a bariatric surgeon and he makes a lot of sense….although I have to stop because I realize that I am weakest when I entertain the ideas of others! Like his thing is to eat fruits and veggies and not concentrate so heavily on the protein (though, he still says to have 45-60 grams/day) and I honestly have been wondering why I am still forcing 80-90 grams a day into me when I know I don’t need that much….but it was my initial NUT requirement and they haven’t told me any different so I still do it. Anyway, my mind gets clouded when I start introducing new ideas like that in it. Partially bc I know some of them are right so I will implement some while still using my old tried and true…then they get to be a hybrid and suddenly I am eating fists fulls of grapes every day and wondering why I am not losing weight. Sooooo, I have decided to stick with that worked for me and revisit other foods after my 1st year it up.
I know it sounds like I am being negative but I am just keeping it real here! It was MUCH easier at the beginning but honestly I knew to expect it to slow down and get harder, I just don’t want to face it yet. Still I enjoy being thinner, having hip bones to rest my hands on when I am standing, try any normal sized thing on and it fit (EVERYTHING comes in my size now!) and feeling muscles I haven’t felt/seen in a long time, so it is still so worth it and I am still going to push through this funk. The one thing that Dr Weiner said that really stuck w/ me was it isn’t the smaller portions that are going to make you thin (anyone can make small portions of junky food) but it is the CHANGE in eating patterns (like making better choices, cutting out some things etc). I have to come to terms w/ the fact that there are somethings I will never eat again….like fast food, which is darned funny bc I NEVER would eat it before….i mean, I’d take a few fries if I got it for my kids (which was rare) but I never liked or saw the value in fast food junk, but hearing him say on the video that we need to come to terms with never having that I totally get it…he said we are highly susceptible to downfalls like that bc we had WLS…not really bc we HAD it but bc we NEEDED it. So I really don’t care about fast food but my mind had to accept that there will never be a place for it in my new sleeve (and actually I am fine w/ that, it is only the heart of a rebel hearing “no-no” that spurs a desire for it!). Other things are going on my very, very, very rarely list….like a biscuit….love them, rarely allowed myself to have them before but I would love one right now! But nope, I will not do that to me….maybe once a year like on my bday or Christmas or something if I want to chose one splurge thing I might, but I don’t really need to make it part of my life other than that. For instance, my bday is coming up in a few weeks….I like cake, love batter even more, and could eat icing by the spoons full….so am I safe around it? Nope! And I am ok w/ not having it, instead I bought the ONE bar bday cake bar as a treat for when it rolls around. I have no idea how it will taste but it had good reviews.
Now, on to my pics….I had to get new pants this month….my old size 2x stretchy whatever they were (not really shorts, not really capris, but what fat women wear when it is too hot for pants but they won’t be seen dead in shorts) wouldn’t stay up for another pic and I don’t want a pic of them at my ankles!!! Haha! So I got a size M shirt and a size 12-14 capris! I put them on for the first time for the pic….assuming they’d fit (which is a nice feeling….I do that all of the time now)….and lo and behold, something absolutely miraculous happened……wait for it….wait for it….where is @CurvyMermaid ??? Look at the picture….for the first time in my LIFE…I have a thigh gap!!!!! You can’t fake that or make it up….there it is, an ever so tiny white spot between my thighs!!!! Wow!! My husband was making the pic montage for me and adding the new one and he said…”come see this…you should be very proud of this” and I said “what?”and he said “this little white spot here”…and he pointed to it and then put it side by side w/ my before pic and I gasped! Who is THIS woman and where has Thunder Thighs gone??? Granted, you don’t want to see my thighs in real life, but really they aren’t as horrible as I imagined they’d be….i can live with them (as if I had an option). (Another bonus, my sweetheart pointed out that I have even lost weight in my nose!!! I have always hated my big nose which was a spitting image of my grandfather’s nose, but it never belonged on a girl’s face! Knowing a nose can’t lose weight, I looked at what he was talking about and really the side by side face shots from 10 months ago til now, do show a different in my big old nose!...who knew?)
I am taking the lead from my buddy, @Kio and joining Planet Fitness. I’ve been meaning to do it but have been walking 5-6 miles a day and I really don’t have the time for both. But I think the walking can only take me so far…I need to strength train now, so it is time to move on. My husband who is so super supportive is joining with me…and right now it is only 25 cents to join, and $10/month (which we get $150 back from our insurance if we go 120 in 12 months which I have done plenty of years before just to get the rebate…and then we have to pay $39.99 annual membership fee (due. 11/1) so it will be $160.24 total with $150 back….viola, $10.24/yr gym membership and a more toned body to boot!
Onward and upward, I will keep changing my lifestyle to make this sleeve work for me!
I had decided a little while back that maybe I should go on more of a maintenance diet. I posted a couple of things asking about calorie intake and maintenance, etc. I had plateaued for a while and was thinking maybe 165-ish was just where I was supposed to be. So I decided to up my calories, add in some more complex carbs, and settle into my new weight. Then the weirdest thing happened - I started losing weight again! I think I was eating too few calories as I've upped my activity considerably, so my body was hanging onto the weight for dear life. I dropped about 3 lbs in the last week eating around 1500 calories a day (I had been averaging around 1000) and riding my bike a few days a week. So I'm going to stick with this "maintenance" plan and see how it goes.
Yesterday, I rode my bike 30 miles. That's the longest ride I've been on. I'm really proud of myself! I'm going to work my way up to a 100 mile ride by this time next year. I want to ride this: http://www.thebigdambridge100.com In the meantime, I'm working up to riding the Square 2 Square ride here, which is a 30 mile ride, so I'm glad to know I can handle that. It's on September 22. My weight loss clinic has a group that is riding in it, but I'm riding on my own. I don't want to feel like I'm tied to a group - I want to be able to just go and not feel like I have to keep up with anyone else or hang back for anyone else. That's maybe a little selfish, but if I'm going to stay focused, I want to be able to focus on my own ride.
I'm on Strava now, so that's been fun! It's been kind of interesting seeing how my speeds compare to others. I am not breaking any records, that's for sure. Haha! But there are several segments where I'm doing ok, which surprised me. I kind of see myself as a slowpoke, but I'm pretty average compared to other Strave users who ride the trail in my area. It's encouraging. Right now, though, my main concern is endurance. I didn't walk any hills yesterday - and Northwest Arkansas is pretty hilly. There were a couple of very steep, longish climbs and a few slogs (that's what I call not very steep, but LONG climbs). The ride I did yesterday was 15 miles North and then 15 miles South. On the Square 2 Square ride, the whole ride will be heading South, which will be more downhill than up, so I've been trying to challenge myself to ride a more difficult ride than the organized ride. Next weekend, I might actually do some (GASP!) hill repeats. Haha! I have noticed that hills even *look* smaller to me now. I know I can make it up the hill, I know it's not any easier really to walk it than it would be to ride it, so they're less intimidating.
I haven't been taking full body pictures of myself much these days - I think it's mainly because there hasn't been much of a change and I only really bothered with it when I could see a difference. We're about to have work pictures done, though, so I should have a very nice "after" picture at the end of the year! I'm excited about that. I signed a release to be considered for Patient of the Week at my clinic, so we'll see if that happens. I would write a little testimonial and have my pictures up on social media, etc. Might be fun.
Anyway, that's how all of that is going. So far so good.
Hey, all you Losers!
I'm a day late, but I wanted to post something to commemorate my one year surgiversary. It's so hard to believe it's been a year! And yet so much has happened, so much has changed - sometimes it feels like it's been far longer than just 12 months. Sorry in advance, this is going to be another long Kio post (tm). In fact... this may be my longest one yet!
A re-cap of my story: I started thinking seriously about WLS in April of 2017, but I wasn't really sure I'd go through with it until... probably sometime in June of that year. I weighed myself in April for the first time in over a year, and clocked in on my home scale at 355 - which I have been using as my starting weight, though I know I've weighed upwards of that. I think my high weight was really about 365-375, but I'd lost 100 lbs from that somewhere in 2013 or so on Paleo, and had been steadily regaining ever since. I had given up entirely, and was eating so much crap. My typical day started with taking my housemate Leah to the train, then going to Dunkin and getting a double order of hashbrowns and either a couple of donuts or a breakfast sandwich and some donuts and a sugary coffee. Then I'd swing over to the drug store and pick up some chips (Doritos or sour cream and onion Stax were my drug of choice) and some Mike & Ike or a bag of chocolate candy. I'd work on all that through the morning, then order something out for lunch (a burger or something with fries and a coke), then after lunch start work again on the chips and candy. They'd be gone by the time Leah got home, and then we'd typically order out for dinner. There was also almost always a dessert. This was practically *every day*. I was a food addict of the first order, and it was getting worse.
I lost my dad in 2016. He was the best dad ever. He made it to 84. He had sleep apnea, diabetes, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, and COPD, and was getting around via motorized wheel chair for around the last 5 years of his life. I miss him terribly. When he died, he weighed about what I did. I think that's what made me decide to try again - try something, anything, to avoid living out his past as my future. It took some time and a few more precipitating events (not much worse in life than needing an MRI and not fitting in the machine).
But eventually April 2017 rolled around and I started investigating WLS. At the same time I went totally low carb / keto. I knew it would work - it had before - I just had no faith that it would work long-term. I still think I was right about that - it wouldn't have worked long-term - but it worked great to get me to a safer weight for surgery, and that was the logic I used. I wasn't sure I was going to have surgery yet... but still, weighing less, just in case, seemed like a good idea.
I met my surgeon for the first time in May, at 350 lbs. I had some issues that ruled out the sleeve, so we agreed on bypass. I went through the program's various appointments with a "we'll see" attitude, and sometime in June, I went from "if I have surgery" to "when I have surgery" in my head. It coincided with the point at which I had to pay a $350 non-refundable program fee to the hospital. I wasn't about to lay that out for no reason. I went through it, got my surgery date, and on September 8 (weighing 298 lbs!) I went under the knife.
Everything I could say about the journey after that, I've pretty much already said over the past year in this blog. So let's fast forward to yesterday!
Yesterday morning, I got on the scale first thing, as usual. I weighed 173 lbs. That's a loss of 182 lbs total, 125 since my surgery date. I now weigh less than half of what I did when I first started this journey, which means I've lost an entire ME in this process. And since I'm a big fan of reflecting and looking back, it's time to go to the LIST!
Here's what I wanted out of WLS when I started - originally posted September 2, 2017, a week before surgery. Commentary in black is from that date; commentary in red is from today.
Top 10 things I want to do when I'm lighter:
Yoga. I've spent so long being basically disabled - painful joints, sore muscles, walking by holding onto things - that I'm really looking forward to getting some flexibility back. I want to do poses and salute the sun and god knows what else... that is the extent of what I know about yoga! I... have not done any yoga yet. Yoga classes, it turns out, are expensive! But I'm counting this as half a win anyway, because I do stretching sessions with a trainer at my gym. I keep waiting for something to be too hard to do... but nothing is too hard. I've got a little twinge in one shoulder unrelated to weight, but that was it. And I am TONS more flexible than I used to be!
Crossfit. Right now it sounds absolutely horrible, but it also sounds like the kind of thing that gets you in shape and keeps you in shape through the combined forces of resistance training and cult-like peer pressure. I've never done much of the former, but I'm extremely susceptible to the latter. (however, I've just looked it up, and crossfit gyms are freaking expensive. WTH. Well, maybe I can use some of the money I'll be saving by not eating much???) I checked out a Crossfit gym, but honestly, it DID give me a really strong cult vibe, so I stayed away. Also, super expensive. But this is a win anyway, because about two months ago, I joined my local Planet Fitness, and I've been alternating resistance training one day with cardio the next. I feel really good - like with the stretching, when my trainer first showed me the weight machines, I kept waiting for some movement I couldn't do. But there never was one. Everything was possible! It even felt GOOD. Plus, PF has an on-call trainer you can get help from as part of your membership, no extra fee - or take random classes from, which are usually 1:1. I've been taking shameless advantage.
Hiking. This one's a bit out there, as I have always found walking very difficult and I have a deathly fear of insects, particularly flying ones. Particularly flying ones with stingers. Still, I love the woods, and I live next to a huge lovely reservation with trails and like...terrain. I can't remember the last time I walked on anything you would call terrain. Most of the time it's challenging enough to walk on things called "concrete". But nature! I want to be in it. OK so, truth... this is just half a win. I am still deathly afraid of insects. And the mosquitoes have been dining on me WAY too frequently lately. I do not hike. Maybe I will when Fall really sets in and the mosquitoes all die off. But right now, not so much. Instead, I walk the dog a LOT. Anywhere from 2 to 4 miles. And that may not sound like a lot to many of you, but for me it's a new life. I couldn't walk from one end of my living room to the other a year ago, not without pain and breathlessness. Now I can walk a few miles and come back home and mow the lawn. Speaking of...
Mow the lawn. God knows it needs it. It combines all the worst parts of hiking with gross sweaty manual labor, but it would be great not to have to rely solely on my housemate feeling like mowing or our lovely, helpful neighbor coming over and doing it himself when he gets disgusted with the height of the grass. (really, he's great, and has never once hinted that this is his motive. But nobody is that genuinely helpful - right??? He has to be doing it for his property value. Or maybe he's just a saint.) This one definitely goes in the "win" column. I mow the lawn like a mad thing - and we moved to a bigger place with a bigger yard three months ago, so the mowing is pretty intense. It takes me three charges of the lawnmower battery to do the front, and at least two to do the back. Then there is weedwhacking to do - about an hour to do the entire perimeter and the edges of all the beds - and then the clean-up, which is mainly blowing grass off the driveway and sidewalks. I've gone from watching my housemate mow the lawn because I could barely do one trip the length of it to being the sole person in charge of lawnmowing in the household.
Park far away from things. One thing I never need to know about myself is how much time I've wasted in life looking for an open parking spot close to whatever. I look forward to not having to care. I'd rather park in Timbuktu than circle endlessly finding a good spot. You know - something close enough that I can walk from the car to the thing without getting too tired/achy to actually do the thing I came there to do. Another full win. I can park blocks away if I need to, and I often do. At Costco or when we need to be downtown, I don't think anything of parking a long way away and walking in to wherever I need to be!
Shopping! I actually just thought of this one. Not only will shopping be more fun because I can buy nicer, more flattering clothes - it'll also be easier because I can do it for more than 5 minutes without needing to sit down and rest. Another win! I can wander endlessly through clothes stores, department stores, grocery stores... and I never need to sit down to rest. AND I never need to hold onto a shopping cart! I used to have to prop my front half up on the cart, basically, leaning on it like a walker. Now I often grab a handbasket in the grocery store instead of a cart, and I amble around as long as I want.
Stand around chatting with people at the office. I'm not the world's most outgoing person - in fact, I'm pretty socially awkward. But part of that social awkwardness has come from fear that if I walk anywhere, someone I know will stop me halfway there and want to either talk to me, or join me for one of those walking meetings like on West Wing. In the first case, I end up talking to someone while in great pain, and then having to sit down before I can continue on to wherever I was going. And in the second case, I have to huff and puff between sentences because I'm out of breath from walking. To avoid those things, I generally walk a lot of places as quickly as I can with my head down, refusing to make eye contact. Believe me when I tell you - this does not make people think you're super normal and probably a great gal to spend time with! Definite win. I stand and chat ALL THE TIME at work now. Or walk and chat, like we were characters in The West Wing. I am a fully upright and mobile Kio now! It has really expanded my social world at work a lot, and I love it.
Kayak! I actually don't really care much about kayaking, but my housemate does, and she won't do it by herself, so I want to be able to go with her. At my current weight I feel like I'd sink most boats, so I'm not too keen on it. No win here... but to be fair, we don't own any kayaks, and Leah hasn't gone kayaking either yet! When she does, I will totally go with her. And I won't sink the boat, because WE WEIGH EXACTLY THE SAME NOW.
Go back to Turks and Caicos. I had an amazing time going there at 308 lbs; I imagine going there at my goal weight would be amazing times infinity. We're planning to go back in 2 years, and I can't even imagine how different it will be. I'm looking forward to finding out. No win here yet, either, but that is financially driven, not weight-driven. I would go in a heartbeat, and I would love it, but we're still saving. Right now, the plan is maybe to go next year. And I am QUITE sure it will be totally amazing!
Travel of other sorts. I'm thinking maybe about Scotland. I've got a friend who lives there and I'd love to go see the countryside, maybe visit some castles. I've always been deterred by the number of stairs conjured up by the term "castle". Plus I imagine you get there by walking long distance on the moors. Or something. Are there moors in Scotland? I guess I'll find out! I haven't been to Scotland... again, finances. But I have done other travel - most notably a road trip to Chicago that was perfectly miserable when I did it several years ago, and which was awesome and fun this year. I drove all the way, and was comfortable all the way - I didn't feel stuffed into the driver's seat even once. So half a win!
So a definite 6.5 out of 10 on things I wanted to do. But you know, I really count this as 10 out of 10 - because I COULD do any of these, if I wanted to and had infinite cash on hand. I'm no longer limited by my weight - just finances and personal inclination. Just the fact that I COULD do something, just by wanting to, is enough to count it as a win here. I have so many more choices now, and my world has opened up so much... and THAT is what's really important.
There are a few negatives. I have a lot of floppy skin hanging out on my arms and belly and thighs - enough that I'm seriously considering plastics, if I make it down to goal and manage to stay there. I have a daily, haunting fear of failure - that I'll never make it to goal. That I'll stop losing, start gaining, and end up back where I started. My weight loss HAS slowed - I only lost 3 lbs this month, though that was at least partly due to a splurge on vacation. And I've felt hungry lately - mainly in the mornings when I wait too long before breakfast. I can eat more lately - not a ton more, but definitely more than I used to. My hope is that these fears will keep me honest, and on track - and not just drive me insane.
And honestly - I wonder what I would have said if, a year ago, my doc had told me: "You'll lose most of your excess weight. But only for about three years. Then you'll gain it back." Would I have gone through with it anyway? I think I would have. I don't think that will happen - I think I'll be okay. But I do think I would have gone ahead, even if there had been some kind of expiration date. This experience would make it worth it.
So I'm going to keep on keeping on! I know I have all of you guys to cheer me on and help me stay on track - you've been with me this far, and I'm sure TT will help me haul myself the rest of the way to goal. I'm so grateful to you all, and to this wonderful, supportive place. *HUGS* to you losers!!!
(33 lbs to go! I can TOTALLY do this!!!) (Pics to come... after more mowing!)
So I finally got back to using the scale again this month. I weighed in at the hospital on the 21st when showing up for my EGD, and was thrilled to know I have hit and surpassed the 100 pounds down mark! I was 209 pounds that day. I still haven't really gotten my scale out of it's closet of shame right now, but I'm feeling good about that
The dysmorphia has been hella bad the last two months. I'm one of those that never felt I was as large as I was (until staring at the number on the scale or seeing a picture of myself). So to some extent, I'm fighting the notion that I haven't really lost much weight. I also fight feeling smaller than I am. I can wear a 14 jean quite comfortably (which was a total surprise), and I've had to stop shopping at plus-size niche shops like Lane Bryant and Torrid for the most part. However, sometimes when I pick something up, I feel it should fit, only to have it fit me like a sausage casing.
Essentially, I feel overall I have no idea what I really look like, no matter how much I look at pictures or in the mirror. All part of the journey, I think.
In other news, I've been going to the gym much more faithfully and have noticed some forward momentum in stamina. I've also been doing (super duper beginner) yoga at home on a regular basis (thank you, youtube) and feel my muscles aren't as tight and my idiot left hip is finally coming around. Hiking continues to be a mainstay, although it'd be great if the rain could subside for more than a day or so.
I had the EGD, and thankfully, only one small ulcer. They put a bravo capsule in me (it attaches to your esophagus) and I walked around for a couple days with this giant data collector that connects to the capsule by bluetooth to measure my pH levels. It has a few buttons on it that I press to indicate when I am eating, sleeping, or feeling symptoms. I had 105 episodes of reflux in two days. I'm not sure what this means, still waiting to hear back from the bariatric office.
And I'm kind of burying the lead here, but last week I found out some major news.
I'm pregnant, y'all.
This comes as a complete and utter shock after nearly 8 years of trying, including 3-4 years of off and on fertility treatments. I have a completely blocked left fallopian tube, and polycystic ovaries, and was told in no uncertain terms I'd need IVF to conceive. We were planning after I'd at least hit the year post-op mark and gotten under 180 to go for IVF. Then last week, after a full week of aching boobs that were a lot worse than my normal PMS-type symptoms, I kinda shrugged and took a test, not thinking much of it. And then I saw two lines and lost my mind for a second. I quickly took a second test, told my DH, and we both said - "theyre cheap chinese tests, lets go get a real one". Ran over to CVS, bought several "real" ones and brought them home only for them all to pop positive within 10 seconds. Whew.
You guys are pretty much the only ones to know right now, because it is an ingrained part of my WLS journey. I haven't told my parents yet because my mother has been literally begging me for a grandchild for 13 years, and I'm at a high risk of miscarriage, so I'd like to at least meet my OB and make sure things are okay before I tell them. I'm actually kind of thankful for TTF, because I'm going to scream if I don't at least tell SOMEONE - and because, no matter what way this ends up, it is entwined with my WLS journey like a pretzel.
This certainly takes any revision surgery (for the heartburn) off the table for me for now, and has brought up a slew of questions about navigating nutritional needs while post-op. Thankfully, there's a lot of literature out there for this. I haven't yet told my bari team, partly because I know they're not going to be happy. We're supposed to avoid pregnancy until at least 12 months, and preferably 18, and here I am, pregnant at 9 months post op. I meet my OB in a couple weeks, and plan to call my bari team as soon as I know it's not an ectopic or otherwise problematic pregnancy.
So yeah. That's been my month. And my last couple weeks.
This is just something I posted on another board - not specifically a weight loss board, but one I frequent. It's kind of a catch-all advice site, and someone had asked how she could get herself motivated to try to lose weight again, when she had already tried everything, and everything had failed her. She mentioned her family - a wife and kids - and wanting to be able to be active with them, and to not be in pain all the time. I assumed, with the comment about constant pain, that she was probably of a weight that would qualify her for WLS - though she never stated it, just said she had a "significant" amount of weight to lose. She listed all the stuff she had tried and failed - low carb, low fat, keto, paleo, fasting, intermittent fasting, therapy. She was looking for -- I don't know, maybe encouragement, maybe support, maybe just some mental tricks to help convince herself that trying again was worth it.
You guys, it made me so. Damn. MAD! I was literally shaking with anger on her behalf as I read it. Take away the wife and kids, and she could have been me a year ago. I was also desperate - but I knew that I was at the bottom of my bag of mental tricks. I had given up on trying to eat rationally - it never worked, and it always made things worse. Even worse than failure was success that was inevitably followed by failure - I knew I couldn't go through that again. But there's so much predatory crap in the diet and fitness industry, and so many people have bought into it when damn it, there IS an easier way out! Not even just an easier way - for most of us who have/had substantial weight to lose, right now it's the ONLY way out. It's just that almost nobody wants to talk about it!
So I responded, and maybe it wasn't the response she was looking for, but it felt good to just be honest about it. I didn't even do it anonymously, so my usual "handle" was out there for everybody to see.
Everyone else who responded to her was suggesting "Maybe if you thought about it this way" or "the trick is to find exercise you love" or "only eat after 2pm and before midnight, like a gremlin"... And that's all fine advice for maintenance, but it's all basically crap when you're 100 lbs or more overweight. At that point, your body is so out of whack it's going to take a miracle for diet and exercise to be anything but a pointless torment for you.
Anyway... here's what I said to her. I'm posting it here because I don't want to lose track of it - other forums come and go, but TT is home!
~ ~ ~
So, I can't tell from your post how much extra weight you're carrying. What I'm going to say is tailored specifically toward women who are seriously obese. It's coming from the perspective of a woman who has been fat all her life, and who topped the scales at 350 lbs, and whose obesity is now in remission.
The fact that you have tried everything and nothing has worked makes you dead normal. It is vanishingly rare for anyone who is significantly overweight to be able to lose that weight through diet/exercise and keep it off long-term. Only something like 5% of people can do it, and many of those do it by turning weight loss into a career. Trying to fix obesity with diet and exercise is like trying to repair a computer with a hammer - the harder you try, the more you @~$& up the machine.
Please believe that you haven't done anything wrong. You haven't failed. You've got exactly as much willpower and inner strength as any normal-weight person. People who are thinner than you don't have any secrets. They are what they are because their bodies LET them be what they are, not because they're just that awesome.
You don't need another way of thinking about dieting or a better way of motivating yourself to exercise or managing your emotions about your weight. And you certainly don't need therapy -- unless it's to get over the piles of mental and emotional crap society has been shoveling onto you since you gained your first five extra pounds. There is nothing wrong with you. Let me repeat, with greater emphasis: There is nothing wrong with you!
Nobody really knows how weight loss works physiologically. Certainly nobody in the scientific community devoted to the study of obesity. Believe me, I have made a PhD-level survey of the literature. Everybody knows how to lose weight in the short term; nobody knows how to keep it off long-term.
At this point in our scientific understanding of weight loss, there is only one thing that reliably reverses obesity for the seriously obese - and that's weight loss surgery. It works really well for most seriously obese people who have it - while diet and exercise alone only work for about 5% of them. But since most people still tend to view obesity as a character flaw rather than a physical illness, most people (and most doctors) will just advise you to diet more and exercise harder. Hell, that's what we tell ourselves, too. It's somehow comforting to think that if we were better people, diet and exercise would work for us. It's not so comforting to admit that they probably never will.
I'm not responding here to preach. I just wish someone had told me fifteen years ago, "Hey, you're not weak. You're just sick. There's a physical cure for it, you should look into it" instead of telling me to eat less fat, or fewer carbs, or go to the gym more, or see a therapist. Because I wasted literally years of my life eating less of whatever and exercising more and examining my emotions and adjusting my mental state -- but what finally cured my obesity was a couple of hours with a surgeon, who rerouted my insides and gave me a shiny new metabolism that allowed me to return to a normal weight.
TL;DR: If you're in the weight range that would qualify you for weight loss surgery, I would seriously suggest you look into it, because it's a simple and safe procedure that corrects the metabolic processes that keep you fat. Science doesn't know for sure why it works, but they know that for most people, it does. I'm convinced that for the seriously obese, any other advice is basically woo.
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I've been stalled for a while. I'm still deciding if I even care, though. I'm a couple of pounds below the low end of my surgeon's goal (he gave me a range), so any more weight loss is honestly just sugar-free icing on the sugar-free cake. Haha! The fact is that I feel awesome! I am healthy. I am active. I eat a normal amount of food - maybe a little less than others, but pretty normal. I'm out of plus size clothes. I feel really, really good. So I'm not sure if I want to mess with continuing to try to lose weight. If I lose more, that's fine. But I just don't know if I really care to keep trying.
Anyway, I'm trying to shift focus into what my body can do now and improving on that. I can't really afford a gym, nor do I have time to travel to a gym to work out, so I'm really trying to figure out how to work in some body weight exercises (and some dumbbell stuff) to my day. It's really tough. I just do not have a lot of time! But I'm going to figure it out. With all this cycling, I need to work on my core and my upper body strength. My legs are getting a hell of a workout, but I also want to build my core strength and upper body strength for improved balance and agility on the bike - not just to get toned!
And here's a pic of the stats from my ride today. There was a bunch of NONSENSE with headwinds today that I could have done without. Also, I had never been on the north part of the Greenway before, so I got confused about where I was supposed to go and had to backtrack, so there's some weirdness on the first little bit of the map. But it was a really fun ride! I'm tired, though!
I had a lovely week and a half in three European cities, in which I denied myself very little. I ate a bunch of croissants and other delicious bread-type things. I drank a lot (like a lot) of cocktails (un autre Campari spritz, s'il-vous plait; einmal noch Aperol sour, bitte). I came home with six RitterSports in my carry-on. I managed to consume nearly an entire döner kebab in one sitting. I also prioritized protein the majority of the time and walked a ton—I don't keep track, but walking around is a primary travel activity for me by inclination. And on Tuesday, when I got on the scale when I got home from the airport, I weighed 176.8—about a pound and a half above where I was when I left. I'd been hoping just to come home still under 180, so that felt like a big win.
Then, of course, I ordered Chinese food, because years of family travel have carved into my bones the law that says that when you get home from the airport to an empty refrigerator, you have to order Chinese food (though I went for mu shu pork and BBQ ribs instead of childhood staples like young chow fried rice and sesame chicken)—so after two days (and some leftovers), I'm still up a couple pounds of bloat—I can tell that it's water because my fingers and face are puffy. I'm running water and home-brewed kombucha through my system to bring it down, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the scale says in a couple of days, once I've gotten myself back to baseline. But basically, it's looking like I didn't gain more than a pound or two at the most.
It feels fairly remarkable to be able to travel without either worrying about what I eat or don't eat constantly or coming home ten pounds heavier than I left. I had a good talk with a friend in Berlin in which I told her more about my surgical experience and the eating disorders history that contextualizes it than I've told most people, and that was the thing that I stressed to her, as I've also stressed it here—that the real victory feels like the ability to ease up, to not be trapped in the clutch of hyperfocus and anxiety and dysfunctional, disordered behavioral cycling.
I've got a hectic week ahead—very much hitting the ground running—but I'm looking forward to settling myself back into a good food groove; I'm still interested in dropping the 10-15 pounds I was interested in losing before I left. (Possibly nudged by the fact that I definitely feel a little more outside the norm of body size in Europe than I do in America.) I'm sort of informally shooting to do so by the end of the year, though again, I'm committed to prioritizing behavioral health and balance and happiness over scale weight, so if those two things are incompatible, the weight loss goal goes. But they're not feeling super incompatible right now. There's a little discomfort gnawing at me (that outside-the-norm feeling?), which is something I have to keep my eye on, but my behavioral goals are very much my own. I'm putting together a menu for the week that's all things I like that simultaneously support my nutritional needs (big batches of stewed lentils, quinoa salad, tuna salad, slaw), and feeling pretty calm and purposeful.
I thought I'd better get this posted before it's my tenth month!!!
Here's my 9 month pictures and update. I wasn't sure I could believe Jenn when she kept saying that little weight losses mean big inch losses at this point. I mean I believed it for HER because it was obvious but that could never happen to ME!! Until this month. It's so happening! I haven't really changed pant sizes mostly because I haven't tried plus I've been wearing dresses more since they can be a little big and still not risk falling down like pants and I don't suffer from thigh chaffing like I used to! I haven't ventured below a size 12 pants or a large top....although I bought a white tank top in Medium because I wanted it to wear it under my shirts to keep me decent (some of my shirts are so big when I bend over) and since it would be very tight, it would also act as a comfortable shape wear. Today I put it on for the first time, hoping it wouldn't be too restrictive that I couldn't breathe and to my shock it didn't even touch anything below my bust...it just hung there!!! What??? A medium, just hanging on me?!? That's not the shape wear I thought it would be...haha! I'm finding moments like that are getting more and more common! And the funny thing is I'm STILL shocked each time! (I still try to reason out they're "vanity sized"! I just can't mentally grasp it! It doesn't get old and it doesn't get mundane. Soooo glad I chose to have the surgery...this is amazing!
My husband is the same way....just as amazed. He put his arm around me when I got home from work and I knew all he felt was ribs and he said "you are just getting so small!". So I hugged him and his arms went around me and overlapped so that his hands clasped his elbows! It's been over thirty yrs since he's been able to do that! So amazing things are happening with my body that I am just not used to and they still don't cease to amaze me! (SO glad I had the surgery...have I said that enough?!?)
It's weird but I can feel my legs shrinking too. My thighs are getting smaller and all I can feel is solid muscle (I walk a LOT) and excess, ripply skin, but I don't care as much as I thought I would. I still would never wear shorts to work (which is fine bc I couldn't) or church but I will to walk in them every night and every Saturday I wear them. When I walk, I FEEL my muscles working and my skin jiggling but I choose to be more impressed with the strong muscles than obsessed with the loose skin! My butt is getting tighter (muscle wise, I'm afraid to look at the skin but I'm sure that's not getting tighter!!!) and oddly enough my hands end where my butt ends now (my butt used to keep going and going...) So that occasionally my hand hits the end of my butt and I am always amazed at how much smaller and higher it is! (Have I mentioned yet that I am thrilled I had the surgery?!?)
I occupy my time with doing squats and lunges while working in the kitchen or doing wash etc. Every 15 mins my watch tells me to do something so at work, I do tricep work or squats. I keep my muscles moving constantly... probably bc I am so aware of them now! And I find that pretty cool!
I bought and wore my first S-M 8-10 dress this weekend and it fit plenty well to wear. On labor day our local salvation army will have their 50% off of clothes so you know where I'll be getting my fall wardrobe from!!! But oddly enough, I still can't grasp getting mediums but I'm going to!
As for my eating, well that's a different story. We went out to eat two weekends ago with my in-laws to celebrate our anniversaries together (see attached pic...34 years and counting!). I got grilled salmon on a salad bed with vinegarette and took most salad and half the salmon home. Problem is it was an Italian restaurant and they had warm bread with dipping oils. I only had a bite of my husband's then a second and finally one more nibble. And that was it for the evening. Until they brought us lemon cookies at the end and I had one small bite. All in all a fine night...didn't stray too far. BUT then we went out on Sunday and then Friday we went out one more time for our anniversary together. So, my problem is one of two or perhaps a combo and I don't know for sure. For some reason I can't stop eating now. It could be that I ate the forbidden bread (haven't had more than five bites of bread since November) and carbs and now my body wants them badly OR (and I'm leaning towards this one) it didn't effect my weight so I feel invincible...which is a scary place to be! That means it's mind game time. I ate plenty all weekend (admission: stale cheese curls that my son had in the cabinet.... really??? Have I not learned to be more careful by now?!?!). but my weight didn't go up. So I don't know if I'm subconsciously testing my ability to indulge and see how far I can go without it affecting me (scary!) And then the conscious half of my brain thinks "yeah but if you didn't overeat, your would have lost so you're sabotaging yourself!". (all true). I hate getting to the mind game part of losing weight. Ugh. I don't want to be here.
I'm super swamped at work right now so keeping busy keeps me from eating too much at work but two nights ago I couldn't stop eating at home! Last night I.had a better resolve and did.much better. I have GOT to snap out of this--immediately!l
Still I wouldn't change having had the surgery, but I clearly need to change mindset. We are going away soon and I need to be back on track BEFORE we leave or this will snowball out of control and I'll be at 241.5 again in no time!
I said I was going to blog daily, but that has not happened. Ha! This last week has been very intense on the work front. There is a homeless encampment on University property that has been there for a long time and the university is basically evicting somewhere around 80 people from that spot. My work has been constant crisis management and feeling a bit like a failure when I can't find everyone housing (because no one can right now - my town is totally gentrifying and and it's a nightmare for human service providers - not to mention the people who need, you know, HOUSING). Basically, work has felt like I'm in a hamster wheel - lots of work and getting nowhere. And lots of crisis and frustrated clients.
So I'm taking most of this week off. I am giving myself today to catch up with clients and do some trainings for work and then Tuesday through Friday are MINE. I'm going to be working on my house and yard and going for bike rides, mainly. My kids and husband will all be gone during the day, so I'll have the place to myself. I'm eager to see what can be accomplished with my increased energy and an entire 4 days to work on projects! As long as I don't let the Netflix monster eat my days, I'd imagine a lot can be done.
I have noticed that I'm starting to get comfortable in my body and starting to feel more relaxed about my body's capabilities. For example, I'm more likely to take calculated risks on my bike because I have more confidence in my body's ability to recover if I take a turn a little fast. I'm more likely to walk down stairs in heels a little faster than I would have a month or two ago because I'm confident in my balance and ankle strength. This is kind of a big deal for me, as a huge reason I hated doing any kind of exercise pre-op was because I wasn't sure I wouldn't fall down or hurt myself somehow. There are still no guarantees, of course, but before there was a 50/50 chance that if I really put effort into exercise, I would seriously injure myself. I remember deciding that I would try a workout video and really trying (though not really100%) and spraining my ankle and also hurting my wrist from catching myself. Just knowing that I can literally bounce back if things don't go just right lifts a big weight (ha!) off my shoulders and allows me to try harder without so much worry.
On Sunday, I had breakfast with someone that I went on a study abroad trip with about 4 years ago. She is a heavy person (heavier than I was) and she and I bonded a lot over being large travelers. She still travels extensively and is thinking about starting a blog about traveling as a large person. She asked a little about surgery, but she is clearly ok with being a large person and doing her thing. I think that's awesome. She told me that she was able to climb the steps of the Sacre-Coeur (tallest church in Paris), which is pretty impressive! She is very young still - I found it easier to get around at my former size when I was in my 20's, too. But I will never tell someone that they shouldn't be content in their body or suggest that they change something they're happy with. It did remind me, though, of traveling at my former size and how difficult that was for me. When I went to Rome and Florence, I couldn't go on some of the excursions where we had to climb lots of stairs and it was a real bummer to miss it. One day I'll go back, though, and climb climb climb.
I rode 16.52 miles today - 11.2 without stopping except to snap a quick pic of the lake - complete with some intense climbs. My ride ended in a cemetery, which is fitting for I am now dead. Lol! My legs could probably go longer, but my butt hurts so I’m done for the day.
I've been enjoying riding my bike (which you all know because I won't shut up about it), but my husband had been feeling kind of low about it. He used to be an avid cyclist, but got cancer 2.5 years ago, recovered, and has had issues with neuropathy from the chemo ever since. He got on some meds that are working, though, so I basically forced him to go on a ride with me. Well, not so much forced as annoyed the crap out of him and aired his tires up and put his bike in the car and.... well maybe I did force him.
ANYWAY, he did great and it was so much fun! We rode a short jaunt (about a mile and a half) from a trailhead to a local restaurant on the trail and shared some food (way more affordable for us post-op - ha!) . We waited there for a surprise storm to pass, then we rode until he wanted to turn around, which he kept going a little further and a little further because he was having fun. He tracked it and says we rode a little over 7 miles. I'm hoping he'll jump into this active lifestyle with me. I really like riding with him.
I definitely could have ridden a lot further, but today was all about him getting back on the bike. I'm going to start going for training rides soon for the Square to Square ride. My goal is to get to where I can ride 30 miles and still want to do things for the rest of the day. LOL
I'm about to take off for ten days in Europe. Two things about that relevant to this space:
1) I'm a little bit grumpy about the fact that I'm disrupting a really good groove. I've been interested in losing a little more weight, and lately that's been working out well for me: I've been in a good, easy, pleasurable routine that's made that feel very achievable. I'm seeing scale weights below the bottom of my usual range—the last few mornings have been below 177. You know what's not like an awesome step towards losing five or ten pounds? Eating in nice restaurants in Paris. That said, am I complaining about heading off to eat in nice restaurants in Paris? Good lord, no. I'm not an ungrateful idiot. I'm going to do what I've done before successfully during travel: hit my water hard, walk around a lot, and eat enjoyably in moderation with a focus on protein. In my other stops I'll be staying with friends, so there it'll be easier, although of course I'll still want to try things, and will in fact try those things. I'm going to try to keep near the forefront of my brain the fact that it would be really nice to come back still in range of that low point; I'm also not going to be super strict and regimented about my behavior while I'm away. I'm not taking protein powder or anything special. Just being a normal person who keeps an eye on things.
2) I've never been in Europe as not a fat person. It's always been a presence in my travel, that sense of alienation, of being looked at, simultaneously conspicuous and invisible. My last stop is Berlin—the last time I was there was fifteen years ago, the summer before I was inpatient for ED treatment. I remember the way it felt to be in that differentiated body. I remember how much it defined my experience there. This is going to be different. I am nervous and excited. I have fussed a lot over my packing. What clothes, what shoes, what makeup. But as I'm headed out the door, I feel okay about my ability to move through the world.
I'll check back in when I get home.
I signed up for a local bike ride in late September called the Square to Square ride. If you want to know where I"ll be September 22, it's here: http://fayetteville-ar.gov/1931/Square-to-Square-Bicycle-Ride
The ride is 30 miles on very hilly roads (but that's just how it is here - haha!). We have an amazing trail system here! The Razorback Regional Greenway spans 36 miles with some offshoots that provide even more mileage (especially in Bentonville and Fayetteville - two cities that have an avid cycling scene). As many issues as we have with the Walmart corporation, they sure are generous when it comes to bikes and art!
Anyway, I'm working on a training schedule. So far, the longest I've ridden since I started up again is about 10 miles. I will say, though, I felt like I could EASILY ride twice that. So I feel like I can fairly easily ride 30. Still, I want to make sure I can get it done in a reasonable amount of time and feeling great at the end. So I"m working on a training schedule. After this, I want to train for a century ride!
I’m still working toward the low end of my surgeon’s year out goal range of 167. This morning I’m at 168. Next goal - 150. After that I will likely focus on maintenance and quit weighing outside the doctor’s office.
(The colors don’t mean anything other than I like lots of colors and I have a lot of pens and highlighters. Haha!)
Well my org had a happy hour event. I drank half a Kentucky mule and ate a wing with the skin taken off and the cheese off some cheese fries. It was tough, honestly. Those social situations where there’s communal food and an expectation to drink are weird and difficult. I did have a nice time though. My coworkers and bosses are goofballs.
Last night I went to a launch party at my weight loss clinic where they were introducing the new minimally invasive cosmetic procedures they are starting to offer. I ended up winning a $250 gift certificate that they let me use as a deposit for future work. If we put down a deposit last night, we get 20% off if we book something within the year. At the very least, I can have some laser hair removal done. Ha! But I’m going in for a consult on my arms, thighs, and neck. We’ll see what they say. It might be worth saving up for.
Hopefully this won't just get annoying, but I'm going to try to blog about my WLS stuff every day, partially in an effort to get it out of my brain and get on with my life rather than focusing on it overly much in my day to day. I'm starting to want to move on somewhat, but I still recognize that it's a huge part of my daily experience currently. So I'm hoping that taking a few minutes to write down my thoughts about it in the morning might help.
I've been struggling with eating more carbs than I "should" (according to my clinic's eating plan - which I honestly feel is a little on the strict side), so I've been paying closer attention to that. I'm not necessarily cutting them, but rather just trying to pay attention to when I eat them and why. The problematic ones are at night when I'm bored, so I'm taking a few steps to curb that, as well as build better overall habits. I've cut out TV watching for the next 4 weeks (for multiple reasons), so that should help. I won't be eating mindlessly in front of the laptop while binge-watching. I've also gone on a social media diet - where I only check my Facebook and Instagram once in the morning. That's more of an anxiety issue than anything else. If I can keep that in check, my anxiety goes down and I can focus a bit better on what's important.
I'm still struggling so much with exercise. I'm riding my bike 3 days a week now for around 10 miles a day (give or take, depending on my work that day). That's awesome, but that's pretty much all the exercise I get outside of my general day to day activity. This week, I'm working on changing my sleep/wake schedule and just getting up at 5:00 a.m. After a week of that, I'll start planning exercise in the mornings. On riding days, I'll do stretching stuff. On non-riding days, I'll do strength training. I'll take Sunday as a rest day and just go for a walk then. Hopefully that will help.
And hopefully jotting down my thoughts in the mornings will help, too.
So my return here for the two-year mark has me wanting to think out loud about some stuff, I guess. I do really like this space for thinking through things.
I often feel pretty out of step with the general discourse here or elsewhere in WLS support internet space. I have a sense of myself as a "bad" patient, I think, someone who gets away with things, who breaks or bends or disregards the rules, who doesn't work hard enough. The constant vigilance! The culinary monotony! The things that aren't delicious! How do people do it? I feel simultaneously concerned that I should be doing it and delighted that it seems like I don't have to.
For example: you hear a lot of people talking about how they gain on fourteen hundred calories a day, twelve hundred calories a day, a thousand calories a day. I am not one of those people. I don't track, but I have been a disordered eater and a recovering disordered eater for long enough that if I stop and think about it and adjust for the human tendency to underestimate, I can ballpark my daily intake in my head. I would say it is pretty much always north of fifteen hundred, probably more likely usually around 1800-2200. There are definitely days it's above that, too—sometimes I go out for ice cream/fall face-first into a box of See's candy/drink three cocktails instead of two Jameson-and-sodas/end up reverting to symptomatic late-night-secret-eating habits while visiting my parents/pull an all-nighter fueled by sour cream and onion chips and citric-acid sour apple gummy straws/have a terrible hangover that ABSOLUTELY REQUIRES as much of the neighborhood's best bacon egg & cheese on a roll as I can comfortably contain. That makes sense as an estimate, because when I go to my favorite calculator and calculate my approximate total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) I get a number just above 2200, which is to say, if my normal range is at or just below that mark, and then there are some higher days, I am eating in a way that maintains the weight I'm at now. Energy balance is a beautiful thing. This number suggests that I have a normal human metabolism, which is particularly delightful news given that my endocrine system has been borked since childhood.
I'm tempted to say that I have a hunch that folks who swear they gain on a thousand calories tend to underestimate their own consumption (which is an empirically observed phenomenon and not a personal flaw) but it's also true that a lifetime of dieting is a predictor of metabolic damage (it's also empirically observable that people who've lost a lot of weight often need to be more active and consume less than people of the same weight who've been weight-stable most of their lives). I wonder if the years I spent as a superheavyweight (this is the technical term for the weight class, not negative self-talk!) powerlifter, training twelve hours a week and radically increasing my caloric needs and then increasing my intake to match them helped me repair some metabolic damage. I also wonder if because of the degree of peace I came to with fatness I'm simply content at a higher weight than some others might be, which means I don't have as much of the psychological need to fight my body all the time to maintain a weight lower than the one to which it's internally calibrated (even after the recalibration effect of a surgery like the VSG, which is one of the reasons I chose it in the first place).
I also eat regular food, mostly, which seems sort of not to be the way of things for a lot of folks after WLS. I keep Fairlife high-protein milk in the house for coffee (though I sometimes use regular whole milk and sometimes buy half-and-half), and Breyer's Delights protein ice cream in my freezer, but on the whole, I just eat regular things. (Not always the same things I ate before surgery, but things that are normal food items.) It's a holdover from ED treatment, really—they did whole milk there, no reduced-fat things, and I never switched back; also diet foods make me uncomfortable because they feel shamey. And I dislike artificially sweetened things, as a rule, except Diet Coke; yes I know it maybe kind of gives you cancer and Alzheimer's but I simply do not have the energy to deal with rather than indulge my Diet Coke habit; there is a lot going on over here and it doesn't even crack the top ten on the priority list.
Yesterday I had four strips of bacon and two-thirds of a piece of toast with mayonnaise and two fried eggs for breakfast; I finished the egg toast with half a grapefruit a few hours later; I slugged coffee with Fairlife chocolate milk all morning and much of the afternoon; I had six homemade chicken & vegetable dumplings (pan-fried) for a late lunch; I had some feta cheese with tomato and olive oil and garlic and about half a pint of protein ice cream for dinner; I had four ginger chews before bed. Oh, and some home-brewed kombucha, because I'm that person these days (frankly, I worry about the sugar but apparently the yeasts eat most of it).
Today I had another egg toast (four strips of bacon and two fried eggs on top of tomato, scallions, and feta cheese; it was a significant achievement in the field of breakfast and kept me full all day), more coffee and Fairlife chocolate milk, a prefab ma po tofu for dinner, some protein ice cream as a snack, a jerky and two ginger chews even as we speak. This one's on the lower end of things. I'm okay with that.
Like pretty much I'm a normal person. I do still have significant volume restriction—I notice it most when I eat out with others, when I am conscious of how little it looks like I've eaten in comparison—but these are pretty normal amounts of food for a human to consume. Which I enjoy! But which also seems out of step sometimes. Equally unusual: I employ no diet plans (i.e. I eat carbs, albeit in relative moderation that has more to do with space in my modified anatomy—and not just the "good" ones, either—and I have no macros and I have no calorie goal and I will try a bite of anything. And if failing to plan is planning to fail, baby, I'll take the F. I run out the door running ten minutes late figuring I'll grab something later a lot.
I have also been known to play pretty fast & loose with the no-drinking-and-eating rule. I could maybe experiment to see if it matters—it honestly hasn't really felt like it does for me. If I drink while I eat, I take little sips slightly less often than I would ideally like to until it's been an adequate amount of time.
But here's the thing: when I really think about it, I actually do think I'm a pretty good WLS patient.
I do plan on a longer-term basis—I think about what I want to have in my fridge for the week, and I certainly consider my nutritional needs a priority in that planning. I build around protein options (and try never to eat a meal without a substantial protein hit, and ideally not snacks without them either). I keep an eye on what I have a tendency to overeat (chocolate, popcorn, those perfectly sweet-salty butter toffee cashews from the coop, sesame sticks, pasta, takeout, good bread) and make changes if things are going overboard (stop bringing them into my house for at least awhile, figure out what I need to/can sub in for them)—I don't just beat myself up about it and get into cycles of compulsivity, I actually just change the thing (I mean, it takes a minute, but for awhile I was overeating chocolate and now I'm not). I batch-prep things I want to be able to grab quickly (beans, tuna and chicken salad, poached shrimp, dumplings for the freezer). I try to add a little greenery to every protein thing. I usually keep a protein bar and a stick of jerky or two in my bag so I don't have to eat any old thing if I'm running around the world (I also eat a lot of drugstore string cheese; so sue me).
I've expanded my culinary horizons in ways that work for me, and enjoying expanding them keeps me getting pleasure out of my kitchen life, which is super self-caring for me. I'm really having a tofu moment. I've also established new rhythms in the kitchen that work for me now around what and how I'm eating. I've done some pickling and fermenting (kombucha; I'd like to start doing sauerkraut again). My favorite want-a-food-experience-don't-actually-need-one-want-one-anyway snack is just chopsticking (bought, not homemade) kimchi right out of the jar. I also like hot sauce and spiciness in general way more than I did before surgery—I think it's about sensation. I want more POW from my food now, often. Which has the interesting effect of making a lot of easy-to-overeat foods kind of less thrilling.
I was scrupulously compliant when scrupulous compliance was necessary. The only thing I ever advanced on early was seltzer, and that very cautiously and only slightly before my surgeon had said I could try it. I weighed and measured food, tracked it, counted my calories, hit my numbers, took my vitamins, and drank my water. I still take my vitamins and drink my water—I'd let it lapse, then noticed that it was affecting me and got it back on track (I literally text my partner every day she's not here with a picture of a palmful of vitamins).
Even though the amount of food I eat is a pretty normal amount of food for a human to eat, it's also true that it's not historically a very normal amount for me. Like, six dumplings would have seemed like not enough dumplings. I really like dumplings and sometimes I'm mad that I can't eat more of them. (Sometimes I eat eight dumplings. Sometimes six is fine.) A box of mac and cheese definitely felt like not enough mac and cheese, like it just looked so small; if I get one now it lasts two meals and maybe a snack (also I still glow it up with extra cheese, which definitely makes me feel like a bad WLS patient, but honestly otherwise what's the point?). And when I see the box, it doesn't look so small anymore. It's getting to be normal, is the thing: I'm recalibrating. A few weeks ago I caught myself exclaiming over how giant the ice cream cone I'd just been handed was, and then felt like it was a kind of jerky diet-culturey thing to say (especially in the context of my family), but the thing was, it just looked so giant! (It was objectively giant.) A recalibration of perception. Another recalibration: figuring out what my hunger and fullness cues are now. When I worked with an ED nutritionist for years, we did a lot of this: rating hunger and fullness in the food logs I kept for her. I realized recently that I'm figuring out when I'm hungry post-VSG. It's a different sensation: it's not in my stomach anymore so much as in my gut. I think that it has something to do with my actual body needing fuel even if my stomach isn't yet actively distressed by its emptiness. I had to look for it a long time in order to find where it had gone. But I'm catching on. It's there if I look.
The point is, there's getting to be an auto-pilot in there, I think. I mean, that's what I'm hoping. I feel self-conscious about saying that I eat like a person and my weight is stable; I feel like someone's going to swoop in here and slap my hand and tell me I should be weighing and measuring and counting and don't I see I'm still quite fat? But I'm doing what works for me. This works for me. I guess I think the reason that I'm actually a pretty good WLS patient is that I'm in command of my own choices. Could I do the weighing and the measuring still? Yes, sure, I guess. Could I lose another ten, fifteen, twenty, even thirty pounds if I did it really rigorously? Yes/probably/maybe. Do I think the effort is worth the reward? Not really. There are a lot of things in my life that need my energy right now! It is frankly kind of insane! I don't have the brain space. But I do think it's potentially worth it to see if I can take another little step down without doing those things, just paying a little more attention. And I definitely think it's worth it to squelch any symptomatic eating that threatens my long-term stability. I feel good about the fact that I'm not denialist, avoidant, or helpless about that. That needs my attention, it gets it, my attention can change the behavior. That's reassuring.
I definitely don't want to sound like I have everything all together. I am still paying a lot of attention to this thing. I have some moles to whack that other people probably don't—symptomatic behavior and the things that trigger it, my slightly intense aversion to being too diet-y, etc. I worry because when I'm making a conscious effort to eat on the lower end, I am also on and off the scale all day, just like I was my freshman year of college when the disorder really got me, closed the walls in around me. And I'm sure that someone will think that my consumption of a box of mac and cheese every couple or three months is a slippery slope to hell. Please don't comment to tell me so! I respect your opinion but am okay with the choices I'm making. That's sort of the thing: I'm okay with the choices I'm making. I'm making my choices consciously, with respect for reality and the difference between want and need, which puts me in the driver's seat. And as long as I'm there, I feel good about where I am.
...it turned out I had a lot of feelings about this!
It's been two years. I had surgery two years ago—well, two years and a week or so.
Things have settled in. My goal with surgery was always the same: stop dieting, stop white-knuckling, find stability that works.
I've succeeded at doing that.
I never hit my tentative goal, but I also (as readers who were reading back when may recall) didn't really have a goal weight—I never set out to reach a goal of thinness, or of a particular number. I did what I had wanted to do: found a place at which I do not have to diet, a way of eating that can autopilot and course-correct without tipping into obsession. I operate pretty comfortably in the range of about 177-185: when I go above 185, I tighten up a little until I'm closer to 180. I eat basically ad libitum. This morning I made four strips of bacon and a piece of toast with mayonnaise and two fried eggs; I ate all of the bacon and about two-thirds of the egg toast. I drink a ton of seltzer (my surgeon said I'd likely be able to drink carbonated things again & I feel very grateful he was right). These days I'm devoting a little effort, a little thought, to maybe kinda losing another fifteen pounds or so, but I'm never going to be the person who sweats the fact that my BMI isn't below 25. I had surgery so my weight and my eating could stop running my life, not so they could run my life differently. I wanted my weight to stop being the focus of my life. I wanted out of the cycle of dieting, of obsession, of shame. I got what I wanted and now my job is to refuse to give it up. If I'd have to diet obsessively to lose that fifteen pounds I'd kind of like to lose, I won't ever lose fifteen pounds. Stability and sanity are more important to me than size.
I've worked with a therapist (the one I'd already been seeing for years) all the way through this. She's aware around both eating disorders and bariatrics, which has really helped. I always said to her that if I got what I really wanted, I'd be a nice stable size 14-16—I have built a lot of sense of self around fatness, and I was uncomfortable about giving it up. I'm more like a 10-14, but I was pretty on the nose. I do wonder if my identitarian attachment to fatness is part of what makes it hard for me to get lower than I am on the scale, if I'm scared to divest myself from a claim to fatness.
I still have flickers of discomfort, dysmorphia. I was walking through a street market with the person I've been seeing a year now, who wanted to buy me an anniversary present. A bracelet caught my eye, but when I picked it up, it looked teeny-tiny. I said it would never fit. It fit. It's sitting on my dresser. I do the same thing with clothes sometimes. Whose tiny pants are in my closet? (I wear pants sometimes now. Before surgery, I hadn't worn pants since college.) And I frequently begin my weight in my head with a "2," as if I only read the last two digits and then just substitute in the thing I know on some bone-deep level. If the scale says 180, I say 280 in my head. Then I correct myself.
Sometimes people don't recognize me, and that's hard. Whenever I see someone I haven't seen in a long time, I gird up for their surprise, their compliments. Sometimes it's fine. Sometimes I hate it.
It's strange to be thought of as pretty, even beautiful. It's strangest still to begin to be unsurprised by that, to consider it part of the normal way I navigate the world. Beautiful is a hard word for me—the first time this year-long partner used it on me, I said "'beautiful' is not a word with which I identify" (why yes, I AM a delight to go on a date with, why do you ask?) but I've gotten used to hearing it since.
And yet I also think I look pretty much the same. My face is my face—its bones are all still where they used to be, even though they're more visible now. I inhabit my body the same way. I walk the same way, sit the same way. The swagger that sometimes tinges the way I move reads a little (or sometimes more than a little) differently now, but it was all still there before, too: I think often of a time that from behind me I heard a man behind me say, "Girl, I see you, walking like that." I was pretty much runway-stomping it out, I confess; I weighed around 300 pounds at the time.
I think about plastic surgery, but have neither the time nor the money to consider it an immediate possibility. Part of the reason I'm thinking about losing another little chunk, though, is because I'd rather lose it before plastic surgery than after—so I do consider it a possibility. I feel embarrassed about my saggy arms, my saggy breasts, my loose tummy and thighs and @*#. But I can live with some embarrassment. I don't have to like everything about my body in order to inhabit it happily and completely, which I feel grateful to get to say that I pretty much do.
With my weight and size stabilized in a place that feels good, I have turned to my life instead, and have been making some painful progress on things that matter to me. I have learned how many things I was, in secret often even from myself, considering myself not entitled to, afraid of, or simply deferring. It's time to stop deferring and start living. For me, continuing to fine-tune, to perfect, to define myself around what I eat or don't, what I weigh or don't, would only be more deferral.
This months stats:
Well. I'm not sure.
See, I was having a mental battle with the scale as it dropped weight even more slowly this month. I so wanted to hit 100. I was jumping on it every morning and night and stressing the actual hell out of myself. So I handed my scale to my husband about 10 days ago and told him I didn't want it back until after my next medical appointment (August 21st). On the one hand, I wanted to go grab a ladder and get the scale from where he hid it so I could have numbers today. On the other hand, I'd only lost 3 pounds up to 10 days ago, so chances are, the numbers would not have made me happy.
Ever since having my toenail pulled off (sorry, such a gross visual), I have felt worlds better. I was able to get out and go hiking several times again this month, which does wonders for my mental health and physical! I got DH to go camping with me - albeit at an REI hosted campout where they had all the fixing for smores and made pancakes for us the next morning - but still, it was something (actually, thats the way to camp, man. someone else cooking for you?). It was fun to meet people and hang out by a fire all evening. The next morning, as we gathered around the fire again for breakfast, a boat on the lake started blasting music - smooth jazz, of all things. It was amusing and also made for a fun atmosphere.
I have a longterm goal to be able to do an overnight solo backpacking at a trail nearby sometime next spring. So by next spring, I need to be able to carry some heavy stuff and have the stamina to do 10ish miles in a day, so getting to pick the brains of REI staff and some guests who were thru-hikers on many big trails was great.
I also did my first ever organized 5k this month! A group of us from work got together and went. The weather threatened repeatedly to rain us out, but thankfully held off. It was a color run, so we got doused in powdered paint at different run-through stations, and after the finish line, everyone is given a packet of color to go join in a "color party" at the main stage. Next, we're planning on doing a "Muddy Miler" obstacle course as a group next month.
I also went on a good number of hikes this month, including one to the Mill Creek area, which is just gorgeous. I'm trying to build up to 5 miles of hiking by fall. I can do 3 pretty comfortably, although the last half mile or so starts to bother my repeatedly-reinjured foot. Slow and steady progress, though!
In actual WLS news, my EGD with pH monitoring is scheduled for August 21st. In the meantime, they have me on protonix twice a day and sucralfate four times a day, plus tums whenever I need it. The meds have helped some, thank goodness, but aren't a long term solution. If my body could go back to whatever it was doing from February to May and just stay there, that would be great. It's a bit of a head trip to fight acid feels all day, as sometimes it feels like hunger - and feels better after I eat a bit - so I'm sure that's not real helpful on the weight loss front.
August is sure to have a good few events in it, and hopefully plenty of time for honing my hiking skills and making progress on different goals. Onward
So today I rode my bike to work, rode to the downtown entertainment district/city hall after work to grab some dinner before a housing commission meeting, then rode to the trailhead that my husband meets me at after the meeting (actually I left early - it went REALLY long and I left at 9:30. My community is very passionate about public housing....). Anyway, all of these times I could have gotten a ride. All of these times I chose to ride instead. When I got to the trailhead, my husband wasn't there yet and instead of getting off my bike and waiting, I rode in circles in the parking lot until he got there (for about 10 minutes! He didn't get my text when I left city hall).
ALSO, I didn't walk any hills. None. Rode up every one of them. And I live in a very hilly town. I'm going to have incredible calves! Now I just need to remember to turn on Map My Ride so that I can get that elevation counted. LOL
And now I am thinking about riding to my morning meeting, even though it's mainly street riding (as opposed to trail riding). I rode on the street a little tonight and it went fine. But if I rode in the morning, I would have to ride on a very busy street and turn in kind of a dangerous area, so I'm still deciding. I may ride a portion and walk a portion.
Maybe not as fast as before, but I'm having a loss week this week. I admit, I struggled this month, mentally and emotionally. Intellectually I know that my weight loss is periodic - I stall for about 3 weeks a month, then lose over one week, then stall again for 3 weeks. It's like clockwork. But somehow I felt sure that this month's stall was different - that this was the stall that wasn't going to break, that I wouldn't lose anything, that I might even end up regaining. I'd gone up about 2 lbs in the middle of my stall weeks, then dropped down one and stayed. And stayed... and stayed - I was 186.6 for ten. days. straight! without variation. Didn't seem to matter what I ate or how much I drank. 186.6 started to feel PERMANENT. The brain is a scary device, y'all. And it will screw with you just for giggles.
But then I went down to 183, and that's where I am today. I *hope* I have a few more pounds of loss to go before I settle into the next stall. One of my little mini-goals was to be below 180 by my August vacation, which starts on August 8th. I know missing that won't mean anything in terms of how my body feels or looks - nobody is going to be weighing me to the tenth of an ounce with their eyeballs! But I just *want* it, so I'm hoping I can get there. Also, if I don't, it'll mean I only count 2 lbs of loss for this month - because my 3 week stall will likely still be in effect by August 8.
ANYWAY. That's enough of scale numbers. Time to talk about other numbers... like my heart rate and BP.
I thought very hard about subtitling this post "Still Not Dead!" My pulse is super low these days. My resting heart rate is in the low 50's throughout the day, and (according to my apple watch) dips into the low 40's while I'm sleeping. I know this because I got a new sleep tracking app, and it requires that I sleep with the watch on. The first night, my watch kept waking me up to alert me to my low pulse! That was kind of freaky. It's even dipped down to 39 once or twice at night.
And then: Today is the 2nd day of my every-five-to-six-weeks IvIG infusion for my autoimmune issues (which don't do me any harm as long as I get the infusions). Every 5 weeks or so a visiting nurse shows up and I have two days of infusions - 4 hours each day. Then I'm good to go for another 5-6 weeks. During the infusions, the nurse has to check my pulse, temp, and blood pressure at the start, once an hour, and again at the end. Today my first BP reading was 86/59! I was like - "Uh, that can't be right, can it?" At my last infusion my average was something like 115/80. We re-checked it a few times over the next five to ten minutes and got 100/60, 95/59, 106/55. I asked my nurse if I were, perhaps, dying. She asked me how I felt - and I felt basically fine. Normal. I certainly didn't feel anything that would indicate a suspiciously low BP. She said as long as I felt ok, I shouldn't worry about it.
I know a lot of you vets have the same issues - suddenly low BP and pulse rates after surgery. I did a search for "bradycardia" and low pulse and low heart rate here, and found a LOT of posts on it (including one of mine, from back near surgery day!). So I know this isn't something to be really nervous about, but honestly - since when have I needed a reason to have health anxiety!? It doesn't help that yesterday my nurse told me how she ended up in the ER a few weeks ago with an extremely low pulse - in the 20's. She had RNY 10 years ago, so she's also a serious vet, but this was the first time she ever had that issue. (For those of us who worry about regain, here's some inspiration: She did regain a LOT of the weight she had lost originally... and has now lost it all again, just by getting back on the program.)
I'm just going to keep an eye on it, and see how it goes. If I stay worried, I'll talk to my PCP about it. But I suspect she'll say the same - if I feel good, don't worry about it! I wonder if this is somehow related to how hard our bodies had to work to get our blood around when we were much more obese? Maybe we DO have the hearts (and heart rates, and BP) of elite athletes from doing all that work!
In other numbers news, I'm wearing size 14 pants now! Granted, they are pretty damn tight. The first time I fit into them, I told Leah it was like having an external lap band on top of my RNY! But they fit well enough to wear in public, so I'll take it.
I'm eating mostly (I'd say about 95%) on plan, and the 5% off plan moments are few and far between. I'm much better at getting my protein in these days, and my liquids. I use Fairlife Milk instead of Premier Protein shakes unless I'm in a SUPER hurry. And I'd say that most of my food still falls into the category of "mushy". I still eat a lot of greek yogurt, some eggs, some refried beans, some chili, some cheese, and the occasional protein bar (I like Kirkland brand these days, which have a ton of fiber and protein and taste "okay" but not great). About 300 of my daily calories (which hover around 1000 each day) come from Fairlife whole milk. I don't do a lot of vegetables, but I do go through salad phases sometimes, and I love berries - mostly blackberries and strawberries, but also some blueberries. I'd love to eat apples, but they're a bit too stiff/woody for me still. My new "sister in law" (Meg's brother's wife) made us brunch this past weekend, and made two LOVELY quiches - which may be the only way I eat eggs from now on, they were SO delicious. As far as meat goes... I mostly stick with easy stuff like bacon, ground beef (in chili or in "burger" form with cheese and lots of mustard). And lately, scallops! What else... oh, so those Mission carb balance tortillas with 4g net carbs and a whole bunch of fiber? I eat those sometimes. Usually with refried beans in the middle and a bunch of shredded cheese melted on it, and then dipped in greek yogurt (which is exactly like sour cream!). Leah makes fajitas some nights, and I'll spread guac on one of those tortillas and then shred chicken on top of it, and layer on onions and some sour cream. It is FABULOUS, and essentially the only way I can eat chicken - which 9 times out of 10 is just too dry for me.
With regard to exercise - I'm still mostly walking. But I have joined a gym and intend to start using it! I just need to get through this infusion, which takes a lot out of me for a couple of days, and then I'm going back in to start my official workouts! I'm smaller now, but ready to get STRONGER too.
Finally - I FINALLY had a follow-up appointment with my actual surgeon! I had most of my immediate follow-up with his PAs and with the NUT. I was supposed to meet with the surgeon at 6 months, but it was rescheduled... and then rescheduled again... and then again. The last time I asked what was up, and learned he had had some health issues of his own. But I did see him last month, and it went great. He was really impressed with my progress - he said I had lost over 70% of my excess weight in just 9 months, and if I never lost another pound I was still one of the best outcomes he'd had. Then he went on to say that he expected I would keep losing for a while yet - and asked me how I was doing with loose skin, etc. So we talked about that for a while, and he said if I ever wanted to have anything done, just let him know, and he'd refer me to a great plastic surgeon. And he told me to document EVERY skin issue I had, no matter how small, to make a case for insurance covering it. I made a point of telling him that I'd really been looking forward to meeting with him just so I could thank him, because he had changed my life for the better in ways I couldn't even begin to describe - and he said I'd just made his day.
So another month down - two more to go before my Surgiversary! I can't wait to get there, and see where I've landed after a full year. I have Great Expectations.
So, first of all, five months of maintenance success! Hooray! I’m basically always between 132 and 135, even when my calories and exercise vary a fair bit. That makes me feel fairly confident that I can do this. That’s a good feeling. I still wonder if I’ll be able to eat/exercise like this forever, and I have that old nagging feeling like things are going to come crashing down around me and I’ll start the regain process (again), but those feelings are a little quieter than usual right now.
Swimming in public, pretty frequently. I’m growing more comfortable wearing a bathing suit. My thighs are a bit saggy and wobbly, but I kind of don’t care that much, particularly if I’m somewhere I don’t really know anyone. (I mean, deep down inside I care, but I try really hard to look at the bright side on this). I love love love swimming, and it’s been really fun to remember that. Sometimes I see a larger person rocking their bathing suit and feel like “Good for you! I was not strong enough to do that!” Yesterday was my birthday, and I went swimming in the sea to celebrate. It was wonderful - the air outside is infernally hot, but the water is just cool enough to be refreshing. I also went to the gym on my birthday, which is its own NSV, I suppose…
I went to the Dead Sea last weekend (it’s a pretty quick getaway from here) and was totally comfortable parading around in my bathing suit, down to the water, back out to the showers (wow, so salty, gotta get that water off fast!!) and to the mud pots! Dead Sea mud is renowned for its healing/restorative mineral content, so people smear the mud all over themselves, let it dry, and then go into the water to wash it off. Like a mud mask for your whole body. I felt OK enough doing that (laughing pretty hard the whole time) that I was OK with another tourist taking my picture for me while I was all full of mud. Photo. Stranger. Bathing suit. I know I don’t need to explain any further why that was such a novel experience. I had a really good time, and I know that I would have had a really bad time if I had gone when I was a lot bigger. I would just have been too self-conscious to do all the things I did. I probably would have stayed in a long flowy maxi-dress and pretended like I didn’t really want to swim. Maybe put the mud on my face. And felt awful and depressed. I also found a place where I can float like a champ: the Dead Sea has like 10x as much salt as the ocean, so you actually can’t NOT float. Like physically impossible to put your whole body under the water at the same time. I may not be able to float very well in a pool anymore, but Dead Sea floating is a cinch. Vertically upright, I was floating with everything down to just above my elbows out of the water. Laying flat, it’s like you’re laying ON the water instead of in it. Weird!
There’s only so much damage I can do at an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet! Breakfast buffets - like the fancy hotel variety - were always my favorite favorite favorite. And, to be fair, there are always a lot of good, healthy options there: omelettes, cheese platters, yogurt, fruit, and in this part of the world, hummus, veggies, and other Middle Eastern things. I’ve had a few of these now post-op, and although I’m basically never going to get my money’s worth, I can definitely find a wide variety of things I can have small servings of, which altogether add up to be a pretty healthy although sometimes too big breakfast. The size is very much self-limiting, though. Whereas before I would have had multiple plates of amaaaaaaazing things, now I can have really one one small plate not very full, and I usually leave a fair bit on it. I have snuck in some less healthy options on occasion (mini pastries) but the world has not ended, and I have not been triggered to eat all the pastries in the whole wide world. One and done. Not super, but not terrible.
I still seem to eat things that disagree with me fairly frequently. Sometimes this is self-inflicted, for sure: if I eat something too soon after having eaten something else, or if I eat too much, or if I eat something I know has caused problems in the past. However, it is sometimes a huge surprise: I eat something that should be OK, I eat it at a totally OK speed, I don’t eat too much, and still I have problems. By “problems” I mean I have to run to the bathroom and revisit my meal. This happens more frequently on vacation - unfamiliar food, not being in charge of my eating times, and being served large quantities all seem to be things that make it more likely. This is not fun, especially if I’m at a restaurant. I suppose I will learn in time, but right now there’s a lot of trial and error going on.
Traveling. I didn’t take enough bars/shakes with me to Jordan, and I was staying with a friend, so I wasn’t really in charge of what to eat or when. This led to some hungry times when I should have had a snack, and to some bad restaurant times when there wasn’t really much available that was suitable for me. This is a friend who doesn’t know about my surgery, so difficult to steer my actions in a non-weird way when I was needing food for the fifth or sixth time that day, or not really wanting to go to a pizza restaurant for dinner. Also not a person with a firm understanding of low-carb or dieting in general. Some awkward times. Next time: bring more bars and other snacks.
Some observations on my body:
My skin is tightening up some (come on, faster!). I’m also lifting weights a fair bit now, so I presume that is helping. I actually have arm and leg muscles that you can see pretty easily. Like even in my forearms!
My hips and other joints are slowly changing in their angles and my posture is therefore changing. I no longer have a really big thigh gap - my hips have moved enough so that I have a very small thigh gap. This is a good thing, because it felt kind of weird, like my legs were too far apart. Biomechanics. I just move around better now.
My body is changing composition a bit. I’m the same weight I was when I got to GW, but I wear one or two sizes smaller now. Clothes I bought when I got to GW are now too baggy. This is also a good thing! It means I’m leaner. I don’t have one of those impedance scales (however well they work) but I can tell that I have more muscle and less fat now.
When I’m at the gym, I look like a gym person. I look pretty lean and somewhat like I know what I’m doing. If I look down at my legs when I’m doing leg presses or whatever, I can see muscles working. If I look at my arms in the mirror when I’m doing arm exercises, I can see muscles working. Fascinating. Now I know why those horrible gym people are always staring in the mirror at themselves.
That's February on the left and yesterday on the right. Not much difference in size, but different posture. My arms are thinner, too.
Some observations on my brain:
I’m feeling more like an EX fat person now. I can remember clearly what it was like, and I can imagine my own reactions to various situations based on being heavy, but my first thought in most situations is not a fat-person-thought. The “I can’t do that” reaction is fading somewhat. The “I couldn’t have done that before, but I’m sure I can now” reaction is winning at the moment. That said, I look down at my thighs and they look big. So it’s not the body dysmorphia that’s going away.
I don’t feel like I’m on a diet anymore. Partly this is because I have a pretty high daily caloric requirement (about 2000), so I’m mostly trying to eat more all the time instead of less <— (I know, if you’re struggling with eating less, this is not what you want to hear from me. I totally get that. Somehow I won the WLS lottery and my metabolism is pretty much “fixed.” I feel extraordinarily lucky about this and do not take it for granted. On the negative side, this means I have to eat very frequently, which is a total pain.) I still eat pretty much by the book, just more food. Sometimes I have things that are definitely not on my list of “stuff I should be eating” but they are occasional indulgences, and they don’t send me into a feeding frenzy, so that’s good. I had half a small Pinkberry on my birthday, and while it was good, the sugar was a bit of a shock to my system and it made me feel like I was going to have a heart attack for about a half an hour (no dumping though, for better or for worse). The things I really don’t eat (bread, rice, pasta, sweets, fried things), I mostly don’t eat because they make me feel bad, or too full to eat things I need to eat. I eat whole wheat crackers with cheese everyday (this would have been my downfall previously) but I can only eat so many/much before I feel full, so it doesn’t really trigger an eating binge. It fits in my daily MFP numbers, too.
What’s coming up:
I’m going home to the US this week for a visit, so I’m sure that I’m going to be facing a lot of family/friend conversations about my weight and appearance, and I’m really dreading most of them. I kind of wish it was all over with - like it will be next year, I suppose. Having lived thousands of miles from my people during much of the losing phase, I haven’t really had to face much of this, besides on social media. This will be real life, and I worry a bit about how it’s going to make me feel. There are some people who I’d like to tell, but I worry about whether they will keep this information to themselves. There are some people in my family with their own weight struggles, and I worry about making them feel bad about themselves when they see me. Oh, they’ll be happy for me, but also feel bad about themselves at the same time - I know how that goes. Wish me luck.
I have this coworker who whenever she gets stressed out she says “Breathe, Tina.” I work in a call center and sometimes life can be pretty overwhelming. There’s always one more call to make, one more dollar that needs to be collected to hit goal, 1 more minute that I need to be chained down by my phone cord to make my productivity goal.
I feel like all week I’ve been telling myself to breathe. “Breathe, Emma.”
Not just because I’m overwhelmed by a lot of things, but because there are a lot of things in my life. Blessings, burdens, fears, anxieties, questions. Sometimes I just find myself telling myself to stop thinking and just breathe.
This week I took a really big step. I went to my GP and talked to her about my weight. I had a really crazy realization as I was talking to her. I realized how important the mind stuff is going to be in this journey.
My GP showed me my chart and I crossed over into the obese BMI category in 2011. I was 16 years old. It was also the summer that my life got really, really messed up.
My aunt, who was one of my very best friends died. She was 53. She had a massive heart attack. She worked as an in home caretaker at an agency that helps adults with disabilities. It was 10 days after my great grandma passed away. It’s also when my future step father started being more verbally and emotionally abusive toward my mom, sister, and I.
Whoo. “Breathe, Emma.” Isn’t it kind of crazy how we have these really major life events but we don’t process them until much later? Or how they manifest in ways we didn’t even think were possible?
I realized where I am at currently, my future health isn’t very bright. Both sides of my family have morbid obesity, alcoholism, and heart problems. Those are a big deal. Especially in that combination.
I was totally terrified to take that first step this week. I was terrified to acknowledge the elephant in the room, and to take that really big plunge. I am terrified of heights, and I feel like a kid trying to jump off of the high diving board at the pool.
My doctor said she was really proud of me for making that choice. We talked about getting my weight on track, and what the probability of getting to my goal weight of 140 with and without surgery, as well as what that looks like long term as far as keeping the weight off. It’s not in my favor.
As of right now, my game plan is to meet with the care coordinator in my doctors office biweekly for the next 6 months, then I can have a follow up with my doctor in January, 2019. The goal is to get me educated on my diet, and exercise routines, and how I can better care for myself.
I found out that my insurance does cover bariatric surgery, and I don’t believe they require a 6 month education/nutrition plan, but the surgeon in my local area does require it.
After that period, if my doctor thinks things have progressed well, and I’ve managed to lose a good chunk of weight, she said she will be happy to refer me to the local surgeon to see what my options are.
This week I also have my first counseling appointment to start addressing some mental stuff.
Weight this week: 282.4
Wins: I took the first step in taking control of my weight, and taking responsibility for my life and my choices.
Setbacks: I’ve been really upset by some family members who I think mean well, but aren’t very supportive at this point.
Verse of scripture I’m finding especially encouraging this week: