Safety Nets

6:37 am Today is about support. I think that has been one of the biggest differences between this lifestyle change and past (failed) efforts. I have asked for help. I have sought out support. I have not tried to do this on my own. As if I could! What was I thinking all those years, trying to go it all alone?

Facebook I’ve been playing on Facebook instead of writing, which is appropriate, because it is one of my supports. I started posting my goals and status on Facebook before my surgery. I even posted my before and after pictures. I try to post my progress and confess to any slips. Several people have said that they started exercising because of my posts – I love that!

The First Strand in My Safety Net was my doctor’s office: Laureate Medical Group. I got a complete check up, including a heart test (the shortness of breath was a concern for everyone) and a whole panel of measurements. I went back at six months after my surgery and had significant improvement in every measurement. That’s the kind of motivation that keeps you getting up and eating oatmeal and going to the gym.

Weaving in the Rest of the Net took a while, but has been worth it. I work with the nutritionist from my doctor’s office – Alissa Winters. She runs a weight loss class that I’ve now attended twice and may go back for a third because I learn something each time and reinforce the habits I am trying to develop. I meet with her every three months to review my journal and record my new measurements.

We are Family I reached out to my sisters and friends to ask for help and to make me accountable. If I slide, I want them to kick me in the butt. Mostly they are amazing for all the positive feedback and helping me see how far I’ve come. Sometimes, really and truly, I can’t see it. Isn’t that strange? It’s like there is a photograph of obese me and I can’t see past that to the real me in the mirror.

Weight Watchers at Work I had joined Weight Watchers in the past, and I’d done the online WW for a while, but I really got serious with the Weight Watchers at Work. It was right there in the building, I knew people there and it kept happening, every single week. I wasn’t very good about following the guidelines at first. I didn’t really count points and I didn’t even read the materials. Mostly I had my weigh in book and a date every Tuesday to fess up to what my weight really was. The first day was so hard. I had already been trying to walk and to exercise for several months on my own, but when I stepped on the scale it was over 300 pounds. My first 10% goal was 30 pounds. Thank goodness they have 5% goals now – that would have been less intimidating.

Weight Watchers Today It is so different for me. I try to go to every meeting, weigh in and stay for the meeting if I can. I love our leader, Jane Brown. She is so funny and so loving and makes me feel like she really cares about my success. I follow the Simply Filling technique, because I still can’t count points. I use my extra points for stuff like bread or treats, but for most of my meals I pick from the list and eat mindfully until I’m satisfied. I try to stop before I’m full, but I’m still working on that. It is actually a huge accomplishment for me to say that I now stop eating when I’m full. Those of you without food addictions won’t understand, but – HUGE! Also, I have my necklace of WW tokens – five of them now – one for each 25 pounds I’ve lost. I wear it almost every day and count them whenever I feel like going off track, thinking to myself – is it worth it? It usually isn’t!

Weight Loss Therapy I’ve written about Rebecca before, so I won’t bore you with how WONDERFUL she is. But she is! I started seeing her the week before surgery and saw her every week after surgery. In the last few months I’ve switched to every other week, so I can make my mental health insurance last for the whole year. It helps to have someone who sees thru my BS. (Hey, of course I’m good at it – I’ve got a BA in BS from Yale for God’s sakes!) I don’t know what I would have done without this board. There was so much more to learn than I thought. I bought books, I researched online, I interviewed dozens of people and collected notebooks FULL of info. But still, nearly every week, there is something that comes up that I need help or advice or heck, even a recipe. I’ve made friends on this board that are so dear to me. I follow along their progress and am just so excited when they hit their goals: Having the surgery = Welcome to the Loser’s Bench; Under 200 for the first time = Onderland and losing the first 100 pounds = Century Club. And getting to maintenance? That’s the big one, the 4th of July fireworks. My friend LaDeeDa (everyone has great board names – mine is just Karen1, how dull!) just got to maintenance and I felt as if my best friend or sister had done it. Check it out if you are at all interested in the surgery. Very positive, very upbeat and seriously organized and moderated by some of the most knowledgeable people I’ve encountered on this journey.

My Surgeon’s Support Group Okay, but not such a a good fit for me. Meets in a dicey part of downtown that I don’t usually drive through, much less want to park my car. I am a spoiled white girl from the burbs now – doing the downtown thing just doesn’t work for me. Plus, I am so blessed to have a great job and good insurance. A lot of the focus for these groups was how to get insurance approval and how to afford the protein and vitamin supplements and new clothes. Worse was that so many of the people who came seemed to be struggling with regain. There was ONE great session where they brought in a chef – loved that one. But I want more focus on getting active and changing the messages in my head. I did crash the Northside Bariatric Support group a few times. It was better, but they only meet once a month and our schedules haven’t clicked very often.

My Pouch is probably the sternest and least forgiving of all my safety nets. I had surgery to re-route my intestines and create a pouch that was about 2 ounces in size. That, more than anything, gave me a road block to the overeating. Now, if I’m in a mood and the donuts are calling me, I have three things that act as safety nets: the first is that I can’t actually fit a dozen donuts in my pouch, there just isn’t enough room. Second, all that sugar will make me sick – maybe even dump. And let’s not go there – TMI! Third, no matter how much I eat of something bad, I’m not absorbing all the fat and sugar anymore because of the surgery. I’m so glad I have my pouch and I’m glad it will always be with me. I’m glad I didn’t have the band because you can have that removed. I wear a medical alert bracelet with my surgery type on it and I make myself read it every time I’m tempted to eat something I shouldn’t. It helps.

Last, but Most Important Every single minute of every single day, my husband and son are there for me. They give me praise and tell me how beautiful I am. They brag on me to their friends. They listen while I ramble on and on about my obsession with weight loss and nutrition. They wave goodbye cheerfully  (mostly) when I go off to the gym for hours on Saturdays. They humor me and go on 22 mile bike rides and hikes up mountains. My husband shops and cooks and freezes to make sure there is always a good option for me to eat that tastes FABULOUS. He doesn’t bitch and moan about the 10 new wardrobes I’ve had to build. (Though he’s glad I discovered the Goodwill and wishes I was more into tailoring…) I don’t know how people do it on their own. I don’t think I could have done so well or gotten back on track so quickly the times I’ve slid. I love you guys.

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