Saturday, April 15, 2017

Food Love to Food Indifference? Really?

It's the night before Easter and I'm in my kitchen baking the most fabulous springtime cake imaginable. It's a blueberry lemon zucchini cake with lemon buttercream frosting and I can smell it's citrusy, berry-filled deliciousness wafting from the oven as I type this. I've made this thing before, on multiple occasions, and let me tell you, it's the freaking bomb diggity. It's a cake to end all cakes, I tell you. Like, get in my belly - NOW.

Of all the things I will miss post-sleeve surgery, I think making these decadent treats will be at the top of the list. I love baking and cooking and I know it just won't be the same after I have the surgery. And I guess there's good reason for that. I mean, cake is part of the reason I'm having the surgery in the first place. I should be willing to kiss it good bye without too much regret. But is it really that easy to flip the mental switch of a self-proclaimed foodaholic? I guess I shall find out in good time.

I have been trying to attend the weight loss support groups they have have at the hospital because they cover all of the topics that bariatric patients deal with both pre and post-op. So far I've only been to two but they have some really interesting topics coming up I don't want to miss. This past Tuesday, intermixed into a power point presentation about why weight loss support groups are important,  4 post-op patients spoke about their experience with gastric sleeve surgery. After listening to their stories, it was elating to walk out of there knowing I made the right choice to have this done.

One woman said something on Tuesday that really resonated with me. She said that after the surgery, her priorities changed. She no longer cared about food in the way she once did it. She literally said she didn't really care about what she ate, she just ate to sustain herself. Other things took priority in her life and she simply didn't have the same feelings about eating as she once did. Let's think about that for just a minute...she no longer cared about what she ate??? For reals?

I can't remember a time in my life that I didn't care about the food I was putting in my mouth...whether it was good, bad, or somewhere in between. It consumed my thoughts and my world seemed to revolve around eating. What to eat. When to eat. Why I was eating. How I was eating. Food was not only a priority - it was a borderline obsession.  It's hard for me to fathom that food could ever lose it's control over me. Then again, it's hard for me to believe that, even with this surgery, I will lose weight (even though I know it's pretty much physically impossible not to.)

The mind game is a tricky one. And I think it's probably the hardest part of this whole journey. While physical hunger may not be there, I am so scared of the mental hunger people talk about. I don't want to go through having 80% of my stomach cut out to still feel like I want to have a torrid love affair with pizza. I am desperate to be like that woman who spoke on Tuesday of having new priorities where food didn't sit at the top of the list. I want to wake up for this surgery ready to begin new relationships with things like exercise and a healthy self-image. I want to say goodbye to my dysfunctional dependency on food. I want to feel confident in knowing that it doesn't have to be center stage in my life anymore. I want food to no longer define a good time. I want other things to replace it. I don't even know what all of those things may be. I just know they will be different.

So June 28 is when this all begins. My surgery has been set and I am ready. I think...

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Planning for the Future

I hate how inconsistent I've been with blogging but as per usual, life seems to always be getting in the way. It's been a busy couple of months and the rest of March into April looks no better. The good news is, we are rounding the corner into spring and the last few months of school and that means I'm inching ever closer to having my gastric sleeve surgery.

After rereading my last post, I'm happy to say that my feelings regarding having the surgery have changed dramatically. I no longer have those shadows of doubt hanging over me like a lead balloon. I am content with my decision and feel more excited than anything else. For the first time I am starting to believe that this will be the beginning of a new life for me. And it's long, long overdue. By about 25 years, give or take.

I'm not sure what caused the mental change but I'm happy that it happened. This needs to be a positive experience and, trust me, I have enough nay saying from my mom right now that I certainly don't need to add to it. Honestly, I'm over the fear factor and am trying to focus on what life will be like once the weight starts coming off. My current weight is utterly abominable and so its been easy to want to separate myself from that harsh reality and direct my mental energy on the future. My closet full of clothes of all (plus) sizes has been the biggest reminder of why this surgery is happening. When even your fattest clothes aren't big enough,  you know you're in trouble. Unfortunately, this is my current situation. The spare tire that resides under my boobs and on top of my protruding stomach taunts me every morning as I discard outfit upon outfit trying to hide the double rolls. That clingy fabric doesn't lie. It tells stories of pizza and donuts and chocolate. Getting dressed is a tiring process. I always said when the 2X's don't fit, I know I'm fucked. Well, guess what?

Today I thought about going shopping. Buying yet BIGGER clothing for a body that continues to be expanding at an alarming rate. Then I asked myself, why would you want to do that? The reality is that this is a temporary situation. In approximately 3 months, I'll begin the transformation that will allow me to leave those bigger sizes in the rearview mirror. Why spend money on this body when I'd rather save it for the new one?

It's not that I'm trying to shame or hate on myself but I will admit I'm sick of living in this fat shell and I have been for years. For the first time, even though I haven't yet had the surgery, I feel little cracks beginning to form in it. It sounds corny but I'm so freaking ready to emerge as a new and improved version of myself. I'd be lying if I said that being fat hasn't held me back from life in some ways. Not in everything - but definitely in some ways that maybe I'm not even really aware of yet.  All I know is that for the first time, I am confident that I will have success in a weight loss endeavor that will be long lasting and life changing. If you've ever struggled with weight and played the ever popular "lose some, gain more" game, you know long term success is hard to come by. That's why I'm thankful that I finally made this decision to get the help I so desperately need.

Hopefully it won't be so long between posts next time. I have a consult with my surgeon in the beginning of April and will get to choose my surgery date then. Lots to do to prepare for that! In the meantime, I'll just keep dreaming of the future....

Monday, January 16, 2017

History Repeated

I just went back and read a post from this very blog from January 2, 2016. At the end of the post, I make a desperate plea (to myself?) to not be in the same boat in January 2017 as I was at that very moment. Fast forward to now - that moment in the future I was speaking of. It's here - and guess what? Not only did I not meet the goals I had wished for myself to meet that year, but I happen to be in even deeper shit than I was the day I wrote that post.

Funny how life works. Well, maybe funny's not such a great word in this case.

In all of my blogs (and there have been many), I blame myself for all of my failed attempts at weight loss. My lack of willpower or my love of sugar were always culprits. My inability to portion control anything that tasted good. Not to say these things aren't true - of course you can't have it both ways - eating anything and everything you want with reckless abandon and still expect to lose weight. It doesn't work like that. Not that I thought it did, but I so badly wanted it to be so. And while my attempts at weight loss were always well intentioned, as soon as I had some success, I'd fall off that wagon and it would be months before I'd even realized I was in serious weight gain trouble.

Needless to say, I have a totally fucked up relationship with food. If food were a person, I would have rightfully left its ass long ago because of how abusive we've been to each other. It's a damn shame you need food to live, but I guess until someone comes up with a way to simply exist on love and air alone, I have to make my relationship with it better. Otherwise the rest of my life is going to be pretty freaking miserable.

Not unexpectedly, I've been doing a healthy amount of research on the gastric sleeve surgery I'm proposing to have. I say proposing because ever since I made the decision to do it, I'm all over the place mentally about my decision. One day I'm about as gung-ho as a person can get, and the next I'm shitting a mountain of fat bricks convinced it's the worst idea in the world. I have read this is relatively normal, considering it's no small thing having two-thirds of your stomach cut out and thrown in the trash (or whatever it is that they do with it after surgery). Anyone and everyone who is either a doctor, nutritionist, behavioral therapist, or actual sleeve recipient will tell you the surgery is only a tool that works as well as you allow it to work. Meaning, it's not a magic solution to your weight woes, especially if you don't follow the rules. One article even went so far as to say that if you think you can continue on with the way you were before the surgery and maintain your weight loss, you're in for an even bigger heartbreak than you can imagine.

I get it. I really do. But when I go back and look at my history I have so much fear of failure, it's crippling. I've never had what I would deem real weight loss success - at least none I've been able to maintain. Every time I've lost weight, it's found me again, and it always brought lots of asshole friends along. I have no iota what it even feels like to shed weight permanently. I only know what it's like to be disappointed to lose and then gain, lose and then gain more, lose and then gain even more until you find yourself at a number on the scale that you just cannot allow to get any greater. To think that this unhealthy cycle can actually become a part of my past is so foreign to me, I'm not really sure how to wrap my head around it because in 45 years, I've never, ever been able to do it.

I do know that my brain needs to change along with my body. It actually needs to change BEFORE my body goes through this whole thing. I'm tired of being Debbie Downer about being fat. Ok, so I haven't had success long term but that's why I'm having the surgery in the first place, right?  I've made up my mind that the negative thoughts need to be put to bed, and I need to start believing this is the fresh start I've been wishing for all these years.

And if you don't believe I'm going to do it, come read my blog posts next January. ;-)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Stages of Isolation

It’s Saturday morning and I’m engaged in my typical weekend routine -  sitting at my kitchen island drinking coffee, surfing Facebook and very much enjoying the absence of any pressure to get in the shower, get dressed and paint my face for public scrutiny. Normally on a Saturday I don’t have an agenda for my day. At least this has been the norm for a few years now. I typically like Saturdays to be as lazy as possible. There are days when staying in my pajamas, especially during the winter months, has been perfectly acceptable. I do my morning thing on my computer, and then move a few steps to the couch and plant myself for hours. Some days it even feels like I’m growing roots. I like to blame it on how tired I am, even though it’s more than likely that I got anywhere from 8 – 10 hours of sleep the night before. Meanwhile my husband is out taking a run, doing the dishes, stacking wood, taking care of the dogs, etc. In other words, I go into a hibernation state while the rest of the world runs circles around me.

Today I actually do have to get myself up, showered and looking presentable. My friend Margaret is having a party at her place, and it starts at noon. (That’s definitely a tell-tale sign I’m hanging out with an older crew today, if there ever was one). There was a time that the sheer mention of a party would send jolts of electric excitement into my body. Historically speaking, I’ve always been a big celebration girl. My philosophy is any reason is a good reason to get together and hang with friends. Laughter, food, drinks  - all in excess? Yes freaking please.
But my mindset has been different lately. I don’t look forward to gatherings as much as I used to. In fact, sometimes I absolutely dread them.

At first, the shift in my attitude was subtle enough that I attributed my lack of desire to be social to being run down from work. Managing a group of nineteen 5 and 6 year olds all day isn’t necessarily rocket science, but it does drain a person. Teaching is an exhausting occupation and anyone who hasn’t spent 7+ hours a day inside a classroom has no idea just how much energy it takes to be “on” all day. Except, being tired was never an excuse not to party before. Something else was definitely different. I realized it wasn’t necessarily the party I wanted to avoid. It was the people -  people I loved and who were my close friends. People I had spent a great deal of time with in my past. It made no sense to me as to why I wouldn’t want to hang out with them now. Why, all of a sudden, did my love of couch and pajamas trump a good time?

Embarrassment. That’s why.

There are many stages I’ve gone through on my journey to weighing 250 pounds. And it’s amazing how each increment of 10 - 15 pounds from 200 on changed how I looked and felt. Not that I was ever ok with being 200 pounds, especially at my height, but that was an adult “low” weight that I was sort of used to and, dare I say, somewhat comfortable living with. As I creeped into the 2-teens, it was scary and uncomfortable, but still, I felt like myself and could “manage” at that weight and felt I had not drifted so far off the mark that I couldn’t find my way back to 200. The 220’s were much harder to accept. New size, new discomfort, new self-image, and not a positive one. The 230’s were of course, even more awful to bear. How the hell did I get here? I was sure this is where I would draw the line. Things are starting to hurt. I can’t believe I allowed myself to get to this point. Lots of anger started to seep in, especially as I went from the lower 230’s to the upper end. Crossing the threshold to 240 was like the worst gut punch you can imagine. My arthritic knees requiring cortisone shots was the last draw. This cannot be happening! Once I hit 244, I raised the white flag, stopped weighing myself, and like an ostrich, paralyzed in fear, stuck my head right in the sand. When I finally was forced to pull my head out at a doctor’s appointment, I was 250 fucking pounds. Ding! Ding! Ding! Highest. Weight. EVER. Lowest. Self-Esteem. EVER.

Do I want to go to this party today? Yes and no. I want to see my old friends, but… I do not want them to see me. Even though I have my plan of action in motion in terms of my surgery, I still am hovering in the upper 240’s which is probably about 30 or more pounds heavier than I was the last time I saw most of them (with the exclusion of Margaret). Will they care that I am fat(ter)? Probably not, and chances are maybe some of them are heavier than when I saw them last too. But I don’t care about that. I only care about my own discomfort with being at a place I never thought I’d be. I don’t want to have to explain that I’m having surgery because that too, is still tough to deal with mentally and although I know it’s the right thing for me, I wish like hell it wasn’t.

What I do know is that I am tired of letting life pass me by. I want couch and pajama days to be a thing of my past (unless we have a snow day – then all bets are off) and I want more active, social fun days in my future. I want to be comfortable in my own skin and stop feeling like the elephant in the room at social gatherings… Literally, I feel like a damn elephant.

This surgery is going to help me get there and I’m so excited for that. In the meantime, I’m going to try to put on my big-girl pants and go out and have fun and laugh, no matter how much my belly rolls jiggle when I do. I have to keep reminding myself that my friends don’t care how I look. They aren’t judging me for the size of my ass, even if I judge myself that way. Although the surgery is months away, I’d like to start trying to live the life I want to have post-surgery, now. Today seems like a good day to start.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Birthday Musings

 As I sit and write this, there’s a stink bug residing in my bathroom light fixture. It’s belly-side up, legs flailing about, trying desperately to move, to flip itself over and save itself from near certain death. It seems to know it’s in a hopeless situation, lying still for a few minutes and then with a sudden burst of energy, making exasperated attempts to escape the slippery, unforgiving surface of the glass dome. The heat of the light must be unbearably hot and uncomfortable. I imagine, if that stink bug had the brain capacity to reflect on a human level, it would be probably be thinking, “How the fuck did I get here?”

Today is my 45th birthday. Instead of the expected celebratory mood, I’m feeling more like that unfortunate stink bug in the bathroom light, wanting desperately to change my current situation and wondering just how the fuck I got to where I am. Where I “am” is the highest weight I’ve ever been, and aside from being abundantly blessed with a beautiful home, a good job, a happy marriage and wonderful husband, the most miserable I’ve ever been too. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the two are directly related.

This birthday mirrors so many that have come before it. By now, I’m used to cycling through of the familiar range of emotions that have haunted me year after year. Denial that I’m getting older. Fear that I’m not living my life to it’s fullest potential. Anger that I’ve let myself get to this weight. Worry that I will never get my eating under control and shed myself of this 247 pound monkey I’ve been hauling on my back for what seems like an eternity.  Throughout my 20’s, 30’s and now halfway through my 40’s, I’ve been in various stages of that “stink bug dilemma” – belly-up, trying to flip myself over and escape the deep unhealthy hole I somehow allowed myself to fall into. I’ve pleaded to God, the Universe, and Weight Watchers to help me make the necessary changes that would lead me to a better life. I’ve known for a long time that if I did nothing to correct my relationships with food and exercise, I’d be sorry. Well, mission accomplished. I’m sorry, very sorry indeed.

On birthdays gone by, I’ve made countless half-hearted resolutions to get my shit together. I’d vehemently vow (in my head or on a private blog space) that I’d not spend another birthday in these same tight, uncomfortable shoes. I’d swear to all that is holy that THIS was going to be the year of change. Sure, I’d said it a million times before, but THIS TIME, I really, truly, sincerely mean it. It helps that my birthday falls so close to New Year’s – a time where resolutions hold great expectations, and new beginnings actually seem attainable. I never felt ridiculous making those claims for better health and happiness. I never stopped believing I could achieve my goal, despite years of utter failure.

Then my dad died this past May, six days after his 79th birthday. It still knocks the wind out of my sails to even speak the words. I don’t think there’s anything in life that prepares you for losing a parent. The pain and sadness caused by my dad’s death was nothing I’d ever experienced before. I’m still deeply grieving nearly 7 months later. However, somehow, through the sadness and depressing darkness there has come some light, bringing me clarity and direction in other aspects of my life. This has been both unexpected and enlightening.

Food and drink held a prominent place in my dad’s life, as it has in mine. I like to think that my jovial nature and love of a good time are some of my best inherited qualities from my dad.  Eating and drinking need always be center stage to any good time, according to Bauder Law. I don’t know that any of us ever believed that which we loved so much would betray us so terribly.

I was at my dad’s hospital bedside when he was delivered the news that he had stomach and liver cancer. I watched his face turn to stone as the doctor matter-of-factly presented the worst news he, and the rest of my family has ever received. His diagnosis and subsequent death less than 3 weeks later made our heads spin and our hearts shatter. When the smoke started to clear a bit, I began to think about how fleeting life can be and the choices we make affect us, whether we choose to acknowledge them or not. It’s my belief that my dad felt sick long before he acknowledged he was having problems and was given his diagnosis. I’m not sure how far in advance, but I believe that it was maybe long enough so that perhaps something could have been done. My dad wasn’t one for doctors, and went to see them obligatorily, but not necessarily because he wasn’t feeling good. I’ve been the same way for much of my adult life. I’ll ignore a problem hoping it will go away, knowing damn well it won’t. Denial - it ain’t just a river in Egypt, as they say.

This year I could deny no more. My health has been on a steady decline and no amount of denial and wishing it away can change the fact that certain parts of me are not functioning they way they should. At 44, I’ve had doctors tell me I have spine deterioration, and I’m looking at full knee replacement (to which I responded with an emphatic, “No thanks.”). The truth is, I do have a choice. I can keep on with what I’m doing and maybe end up like my dad, or I can finally put and end to what’s been bringing me down and make the next 45 years, God willing, count. I choose the latter.

For the first time in a long time, I’m looking forward to the new year. Instead of making empty resolutions, I am finally on a path to success that I KNOW I can achieve. May 2017 is going to be a huge mixed bag of emotions for me. On one hand, it will mark the one year anniversary of my dad’s death which will be terrible and painful; but it will also mark an important event for me. I’ve decided I need more help than I ever have to rid myself of the weight I’ve carried for too many years. It’s taking its toll and I’m ready to admit just how scared I am. It’s taken me a long time to reach this conclusion but I’ve chosen to do what I feel I need to in order to live the life I feel I deserve to live. In May I’ll be undergoing a gastric sleeve operation. It’s the scariest decision I’ve ever made. But for my health’s sake, here’s hoping it’s the best one.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

A Couple of Goals

I've gotta take this one day at a time. One meal at a time. One decision at a time.

Looking at the big picture was/is/always will be overwhelming. When I think about the number of pounds to lose or why I have failed so many times, it becomes a suffocating and daunting process. So, I'm not going to do that anymore. Instead, I want my focus to be about victories, both big and small - as well as feelings of positivity. No more focus on the negative. I really don't need to be living in the past. Honestly, does anyone? It does nothing to propel you forward.

We're three days into the new year and I am feeing good about what lies ahead in the next 12 months. First of all, I am glad that I decided to take the reigns back in the beginning of the year. There is something about cleaning the slate in the first week of January that makes me feel good about this physical and mental renewal process. I didn't make a list of New Year's resolutions to dictate my journey, however, I do have a few goals in mind that I would like to accomplish that I haven't done in my past attempts at weight loss.

One of the first things to address is reducing my addiction to artificial sweeteners. Main culprits are Splenda added to drinks like coffee and tea, and diet soda. If I can kick the need to put Splenda in my coffee, it will be a HUGE victory for me. I start every single day of my life with a cup or two of coffee and a taste for something sweet. If I'm going to be successful, I need to stop thinking that everything is better if it's sweeter. Today, I'll admit I did put Splenda in my coffee - but I reduced it to two packs. I'll ween myself if needed, but the goal is to break up with Splenda entirely in a week or two. The fact that I resisted putting it on my grapefruit this morning was definitely a step in the right direction.

Another goal is to make exercise a priority, not an afterthought. I started with a 30 minute walk yesterday, which, I'm not gonna lie, wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. I climbed a rather unsubstantial hill and at the end of my walk, my back was hurting. I hate saying it, but I've reached the point where exercising is no longer enjoyable and easy. This is the part that's going to take serious effort and I'm going to be uncomfortable doing it. But if that's what it takes,  then so be it. I really want to make sure I move at least 4-5 times a week. I am serious about getting healthy, and that is going to require readjusting not just what goes past my lips every day, but also how many calories I can torch along the way.

Of course I have other goals. But I want to give each one the priority it deserves. I need to focus on a few smaller manageable short term goals and then move on to the next round. I'm ready!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Yes, It's a New Year...But Who Says It's Happy?

Holy Shit has it been a long time since I visited this place.

Avoidance of a weight loss blog can mean one thing and one thing only...and it's not good. It means I've run away from the very reason I started this thing. I've abandoned ship, turned tail, gone AWOL - call it what you want. It all boils down to giving up on the weight loss goals I set for myself last year. Ouch.

I hate the words "giving up." Because technically, I didn't give up. Giving up means you completely surrender and have abandoned all hope of ever meeting your goals. I didn't do that - not entirely. I'm back to try it again, which means I still do have hope. I still believe, despite the numerous failed attempts at getting my weight loss shit together, that I will - one day - be successful.

Last year wasn't my year. Sure, I made some good attempts at losing weight because I had to. My gallbladder issues forced me to eat differently - not necessarily to lose weight - but to feel somewhat human.  Then I had my surgery. Of course the real story is, once the surgery was all said and done, I went back. Back to all of the junk. Back to bad habits. Back to the lifestyle that landed me at 244.5 lbs. As of yesterday morning's weigh-in. I don't even have words for that number. Actually I do. Two words. Fuck. Me.

Look, I don't want to cry in my oatmeal over this, but I do realize the severity of the situation. This is my reality and it blows in every way possible. But the silver lining is, I am still able to make this happen. If I want to. And I do want to. I know I need a game plan and I need to be held accountable. I need to understand why every time I try to get a handle on my weight, I fail. I have questions. A lot of them. I want answers. But I'm not totally sure where I'm going to get them. Not yet anyway.

In the last week, I've turned 44, and the entire world has welcomed the year 2016. Within this year I will turn 45. I do NOT want to be and CANNOT be the same person on January 2, 2017 as I am today. I need to be different. I NEED to be healthier. To be more confident and secure. To be the best damn person I can be. Lord knows she's in there somewhere. I can't wait to meet her.