There should be a parade


I am overweight!

Unless you have previously had to hear the news that your weight and height put you in a category called Super Morbidly Obese III, you may not be able to appreciate the fact that this is a victory.

This is big.

There should be a parade. The President should send me a telegram. I should be turning down movie deals and paparazzi should be stationed outside my house to see me going for my morning run.

Yes.  It’s that big.

From Wikipedia:

BMI Classification
< 18.5 underweight
18.5–24.9 normal weight
25.0–29.9 overweight
30.0–34.9 class I obesity
35.0–39.9 class II obesity
≥ 40.0 class III obesity

Some modifications to the WHO definitions have been made by particular bodies. The surgical literature breaks down “class III” obesity into further categories whose exact values are still disputed.

  • Any BMI ≥ 35 or 40 is severe obesity
  • A BMI of ≥ 40–44.9 is morbid obesity
  • A BMI of ≥ 45 is super obese

At 321 pounds, my BMI was around 54. Not that I’m focused on NUMBERS or anything.

<insert big belly laugh here>

Yes, I’m way too focused on metrics. It’s partly my job, sure, but mostly, how I’m wired. I need to measure things to see how they are changing. Particularly when it’s me that’s doing the changing. I just can’t SEE it or FEEL it. I’ve got to measure it.

Well, by any measurement, I’ve made it back from the edge. I’ve pulled back from certain death and the hideous embarrassment that was my life.  I no longer have to suffer the torturous daily struggle as I try to live in a body that is double the size it should be.

Waking up with a headache because you’re so fat your neck tries to strangle you as you sleep.

Moving slowly because every joint is screaming their grievance as they strain to support and not break as you try to get yourself up and to the bathroom. I won’t go there, but if you are obese, you KNOW that going to the bathroom stops being a natural, biological process and becomes instead a contortionist’s nightmare.

Many obese people spend their lives in bathrobes and sweatpants because the fatter you become, the more challenging it becomes to find clothes that fit. If you can find anything, it will be more expensive but poorer quality than regular clothes. And forget about being attractive. Our goal is to cover and camouflage the worst and try to hide our sins in yards of black and navy blue fabric.

Every bite we eat is painful. We want it. We crave it. We can’t NOT eat it, but every single bite feels guilt ridden and criminal. How can we continue to abuse ourselves with every bite? How dare we enjoy it? We eat in private, and in public we nibble and taste and maintain our completely unbelievable pose that it must be thyroid or hormones or genetics or something. SOMETHING other than the pint of ice cream, basket of french fries and 3 dozen chicken wings we snarfed down as soon as the delivery man dropped them off last night. We go through the drive-thru and order three meals, complete with drinks and dessert to maintain the fiction that our children or spouses will be eating it by saying and add one Diet Coke for me at the end. The only one who believes this is us.

Our doctors try to tell us, but we cannot hear it. We continue to look for some reason, some cure, some pill or program or cure that will magically make us want to eat broccoli and poached fish instead of Big Macs and french fries. We inject our insulin and take our blood pressure pills with a glass of sweet ice tea and tell ourselves that it isn’t our fault.

Our spouses and family, if they are kind, try to gently suggest changes. If they are not kind, they ridicule or abuse us. Our friends, for the most part, support us, because they love us and most people do not equate that love with anything other than tolerance for what we are.

It is strangers through whom we really see the truth. That look in their eyes as they see you coming down the aisle of the airplane or theater. First there is the shock of your size and then the fear that you are coming towards them. Then the resignation or ANGER that you are going to sit next to them. And why not? They have paid for a whole seat. I should have paid for two because no matter how hard I tried to hold it in and suck it up, my thighs were going to overflow the seat and into the seats on either side of me. I would squeeze up against my husband or son on the other side, if I could. I would look anxiously around for an empty seat so I could try and trade with someone. I often traveled on inconvenient flights in the middle of the night or really early in the morning so that I could be on a mostly empty flight. Then I would get on last and waddle my way to an empty row of seats and ask for my lap belt extender.

Every area of my life was affected by my weight. Even my career. As a consultant, I really felt that I spent most of my time in interviews and first interactions convincing people that I was a lot smarter than I looked. How smart can a 321 pound woman look? It’s not SMART to be that fat, that unhealthy. Am I really going to pay this person for her opinion, her expertise if she can’t even take care of herself? And forget about longevity. No one wants to make a consultant permanent if they are going to be a drain on the employee benefits or be out sick all the time.

This is not my life anymore. I finally got smart. I finally got strong. And today I get to celebrate that I’m overweight.

I’ve earned my parade.

Historic Occassion

Mark this down: August 18, 2010, 9:18 am: I actually liked the way I looked.

Yep. I liked the front view, the side view and the back view. I was not focused on the belly or any “shrinkle” areas. I even took a picture and mailed it out to my sisters to mark the historic occasion.

It wasn’t just a one moment kind of thing; it kept going all day. I got to boot camp and changed into my workout clothes and tee-shirt and I even liked that. (Although I had to take my glasses off to quiet the concerns about the shrinkles.  (If you don’t know what shrinkles are, they are the wrinkles caused when you lose a lot of weight, or shrink. So we call them “shrinkles”. Mine are not that bad, but I can see them, of course!)

Another great moment at boot camp was realizing that I ran for 8 solid minutes for the warm up. Not super fast, but consistent speed for 8 minutes. Another personal best. I’m starting to feel pretty excited about my Survigersary 5k next week.

Wow! Next week? How did that happen? Is it really a year since I had surgery? A solid year of being focused and on track and successful. It is hard to think back to where my head was last year. I look at some of my old writing and plans and think “Did I really think that was enough?” because, frankly, it wasn’t.

I think that is why so many super morbidly obese people stay super morbidly obese. It takes a full-out attack, an onslaught of apocalyptic proportions to begin to tip the scales (literally) in the other direction. The surgery wasn’t the first thing I did or the last, but it was the one that won the war. Like bringing Gatling guns into the Civil War. Or the Atomic Bomb into WWII. The allies were so far behind, that even if the Weight Watchers ground troops were eating right and the drill sergeants were exercising – they couldn’t do it on their own. They needed those big guns, plus a steady stream of battle related intelligence from my weight loss therapist. And don’t forget the impact of morale on the battle: my letters to the front were my husband, my son, my friends, my family and in person and online weight loss communities. The blogging and Facebook postings earn me so much support and comments from my friends. I’ve made a lot of new friends, too. Friends who have taught me so much and understand that even after the war is won, the cold war will continue forever. Battling my demons and keeping them in their place while I maintain the weight loss. In some ways, that is the most dangerous part, and it is still to come.

But for today, I’m going to enjoy the victory celebrations, because it has been a hell of a good fight and an amazing year.  I’m really looking forward to this next year. I have so much planned already: I’m going to keep writing; finish boot camp; get scuba certified; learn belly dancing; some rock climbing (maybe); a trip to DC in the fall; Phoenix and Tahoe for the winter break; more skiing in February; my 48th birthday in March (probably going skiing for that) and the Warrior Dash in May.

Whew! A year ago I would have been tired just reading that! But now, I guess I just need to get busy!

Have a great day!

PS: I hope you have a day where you like what you see in the mirror.

Hey, Dr Phil- it’s been over a year!

I got on the Wii Fit this morning and noticed that it has been 395 days since I started making changes to my life. Must have missed the 365th day – but it helps if I take a moment to remember the changes I’ve made, even if it is a month late:

Move! I exercise almost EVERY day.

Eat! I eat as little as possible, as healthy as possible.

Live! I am doing the right thing, being responsible, going for joy.

Think! I am learning to think positive thoughts, be gentle with myself and others, learning to meditate.

The result is that in 395 days I’ve gone from being unhealthy to feeling (at times) that I’m not half bad. LOL – okay – maybe a bit better than that. Let’s face it – I’m feeling NORMAL for the first time in my life. I’m still obese (can’t seem to get past that 30 BMI) but my body fat percentage has dropped from above 50 (and no idea how far above, frankly) to 36%. Weight is down from over 300 to 178 (and holding, holding, holding – gotta love the plateaus!). I was able to do the Wii fit for 5 minutes at a time, now I can survive boot camp for 75 minutes. I have dropped over 12 dress sizes – from 28 women’s to 10 regular.  My stomach measured 59 inches and now it is 36 – that’s almost 2 feet.TWO FEET!

Change does happen, you just have to work at it. When I was cleaning out the garage a few weeks ago, I came across the Dr. Phil Keys to Weight Loss Success cd set that I bought when they came out – 2002? 2003? Anyway, I don’t remember if I listened to them all, but I decided, since I’m focused on losing the last 30 and KEEPING it all off, I’d give them a listen. I’ve been playing them in the car, which means I only get a few minutes because I have a short drive time. But I’ve discovered that I really have made a lot of the changes that I need to make to keep losing and to keep it off. That’s reassuring. The program also reinforces some of the stuff that I haven’t been doing so consistently that I need to work on:

Accountability – I have found a new Weight Watchers meeting, but I’m not REALLY counting points or tracking. This would probably be a good thing, since I’m stalled at 178 for the last two months. Until I collect some real evidence about what I’m doing, I could be lying to myself about how much I’m eating. Probably am.

Environment – I have let the junk food back into the house. I don’t buy it, but the boys do, and I need to convince them to either keep it in a cupboard separate from where I look, or to get rid of it. Frankly, they don’t need it either. I also had easy to reach snacks at my desk – healthy ones – but too easy to over do it. I moved them into the pantry at work and now I have to walk to the other end of the building to get them. It is amazing how much that helps.

Thoughts – trying REALLY hard to meditate and think positive thoughts instead of “My god, woman! Look at the size of that stomach! If it looks this bad after losing 140 pounds, think of what it looked like when you were at your heaviest. Yuck!” Now I’m trying to think “Wow! What a lot of progress! See how much stronger I am. I can lift things and balance. My body is doing what I want it to do and need it to do. Good body. ” Occasionally I even notice that my legs look nice and thin or that the tops of my arms and shoulders look trim and that I have a waist. It is still too hard for me to focus past my stomach and the horror of the bulge. But I’m working on it.

Life  – I’m caught up on my taxes (I was 4 years worth behind!), my garage, basement, yard and house are more organized. I will start a second pass and REALLY organize things, now that the worst is done. It would be nice to be able to find all 11 hammers at once, instead of going out to buy a new one when we need to drive in a nail.

Work – I have a great job. I work for a wonderful boss and am part of a fun, hard-working team where no one gets stressed and yells (even me) and we get the job done, but are more sane about work/life balance. True – I don’t get to travel internationally anymore, but I can do that on my vacations. I make enough so that Fred can do the stay-at-home Dad thing and he and Jacob are so much happier and less stressed.

Fun – I’m trying to have more fun and see my friends more often. I have to really work at it, because some of them live in different countries or states, but it is worth it. I love reconnecting after so many days, weeks, months and years passing in a blur of work and stress with too little time spent together.

Anyway – that’s my status, day 395. Gotta get to work now.

Where’s the Parade?

I’ve missed you guys. My computer has been on the fritz and I’ve been super tired from boot camp and blah blah blah excuse excuse excuse. If I can’t be honest with myself, I can at least be honest with the world:  the truth is that I’ve just been down in the mouth, as we say in the South. Grumpy and mean and bitchy about my lack of progress. Which is ridiculous, because I am making progress. Hell, just being on track and focused for over a year is tremendous progress for me.

And I know, this journey I’m on isn’t supposed to be about the number on a scale. It is supposed to be about changing my life and living strong and healthy. I know I’m a size smaller. I know I’m stronger. I’m faster. I have more endurance.

But – in the last two months I’ve gained 5 pounds on vacation, lost those, then gained two pounds at boot camp, lost THOSE and I am STILL  at the same weight I was three months ago.  ARGH!
If someone else was saying this, I would be merciless: “Forget about the number on the scale. The scale should not rule your life. Your focus needs to be on how you feel. How you look. What you can do. Forget about the scale.”

Easy for me to say. But –

I can’t have my big Hurrah I made it to goal party and parade IF I NEVER MAKE IT TO GOAL! What if I never do? Should I just go ahead and have the party and parade? Like those women who want to be married, but don’t have a guy, so they plan the wedding anyway? Or wait, did I dream that?

Anyway today I’m going  to yoga class to stretch out my spine and work on my meditation and dream about my parade.

Soldier without a Fight

I have been amazingly successful  at losing weight in the last year. I honestly believe that it was not just because of weight loss surgery, but because I’ve worked hard.

I have spent countless hours researching so that I could learn a lot of important information. I have honed my project management skills and created plans that have helped not only me, but my friends be successful.

I have learned to exercise and even though I started from a very low-level of ability, I have made tremendous progress and have become an athlete.

I’ve worked through a lot of mental problems and overcome fears and stumbling blocks that have kept me prisoner in an obese body most of my life.

I have reached and exceeded my original goal of being a size 14 regular. I am now a size 12 and I KNOW that I”m going to keep losing.

I have battled obesity and I have won. I have been a good soldier.

Now I have a new challenge. I have to learn to live in peacetime. Without a battle, without a struggle, I find myself lost. Creating artificial drama and situations that require me to fight and struggle again.

I have been struggling for the last couple of weeks. Going off plan and skipping my workouts  with the predictable result of gaining weight. Which I then had to scramble the troops to fight. A skirmish!

All these thoughts were discussed today during my weight loss therapy session. As we talked, my stress started to drop away. By the end of the hour I felt so much better. So much more focused and in control. Because I really am in control. In control of the plan. In control of my reactions. In control of my life.

I accept my new challenge: to learn to live the life I’ve worked so hard to create and make the transition from fighting to recover from illness to living in a state of wellness.

So here is the  action plan I came away with:

  • Go back to my basic habits. Which includes making sure I get to bed on time so I can get up and execute my plans every day
  • Continue with the yoga, but explore meditation or Tai Chi – work on my ability to relax and be comfortable with a state of peace so I don’t subconsciously create more battles to fight
  • Continue with my writing – work on my book so I have a good mental challenge
  • Take up a new physical challenge – scuba diving
  • Schedule some date nights with Fred so we have a social life

I’ve got my plan. I’m ready to face tomorrow.

Countdown to Surgiversary

I was trying to get in touch with some of the folks on the beforeandafterhelp.com board who had surgery in August of 2009.  I posted, but no response, so I sent personal messages to everyone and no one responded.

Oh well! I hope they are all doing great and their lives are so changed for the better that they just don’t have time to sit down in front of a computer.

As for me, I’m going to keep getting ready for my surgiversary:

  • I have lost 3 of the 2 pounds I gained while on vacation/off track – 2 more to go! Yay for me!
  • I’ve gained 2 inches in my stomach and my fat was flapping on my run yesterday.
  • Moved up to week 2 of the couch to 5k program and felt good
  • Getting my plans together for the 5k on August 26th – my version of a “birthday” party!
  • Signed up to get email about the London Marathon in April 2011 and the London Playtex Moonwalk in May 2011 yesterday
  • I keep battling my demons and have invited my husband to go with me to my weight loss therapy session today
  • Starting weekly sessions again – rather than bi-weekly – to get back on track
  • On day 2 of a partial LPT  – LPT all day, healthy dinner at night
  • Going to start measuring out all my portions again. I know I’m overeating when I don’t do that

Now – what should I do? I swam on  Monday, ran on Tuesday and today I slept through kickboxing, so I’ll have to see what I can find that starts at 8:30 or go swimming or power walking or lift some weights or do an ab workout. Yes, an ab workout to work on that belly flapping sound when I run!

Have a great day everyone!

11 Month Update

Stolen with pride from blog.americanfeast.com

Stolen with pride from blog.americanfeast.com

Today it is ‎exactly 11 months since my gastric bypass surgery.  I have come a long way but I am still focused on the last 30 pounds I need to lose. So today I thought I’d do a monthly status report to myself and focus on what I have accomplished:

Weight: I am down 95 pounds from the date of the surgery and 138 from my highest weight. There was a post the other day that said that is equal to one baby elephant, one bald eagle and one skunk. On the down side, I am the same weight I was last month because I gained 5 pounds on vacation. Still haven’t taken that off.

Size: I was a woman’s size 28 three years ago. Now I’m a size 12 and wear some 14’s and some 10’s. My stomach was 59″ when I started and now it is 38″.   I have lost over 21 inches off my stomach. That’s almost TWO FEET.

Fitness Level: I can swim a mile now. I can bike for hours.  Yesterday I ran/walked for over an hour. I am using the couch to 5k podcasts so I can reach my goal  of running a full 5k without stopping. I can work out for 3 hours at a time.  I start boot camp on Aug 2 – so will be cranking up my intensity a lot.  I signed up for a 5k on Aug 26 to celebrate my one year surgiversary. I am strong. I am fit. I don’t huff and puff when I walk. I take the stairs, run to the store and bank (literally) and work out almost every single day.

Mental Health: I am more aware of why I do the things I do, especially the damaging ones.  I still struggle every single day to make good choices in what I’m eating and what I’m doing. Some days I fail. Most days I don’t.  I suspect that it will never be easy and I’m getting better at accepting that.

Some days I want to rage against the universe. Why can’t this be easy? Why can’t I just pick the path and stay on it? Why do I struggle so much against what I know is right?
Other days I accept that being thin wasn’t my gift. My gift was stubbornness.   Determination. As one friend on the boards put it “This weight had better just go away already, because obviously, I am not giving up.”

Spa Day

We drove over and spent the day in Lake Placid today. What a beautiful day! After a lovely drive through the mountains, we arrived in town and found the Mirror Lake Spa. We’ve been there before, and were delighted to find that it was just as good as our memory of previous visits. Our day started with a little time in the jacuzzi and then we tried the eucalyptus scented steam room.  For our treatments, I had a seaweed wrap which was just fantastic and my friend had the hot stone massage. We finished up with pedicures and had our legs scrubbed and rubbed and our toes painted blue while we chatted away for an hour. After a lovely time flipping through magazines and letting our minds wander while our nails dried, we drifted down into the village to have lunch at the Cottage, which is right on the Lake. Afterwards we strolled along the main street and did a little shopping before driving back to Westport.

I’d like to say we should do this every month, but I know that doing it every couple of years is probably as close as we’ll get. But next time I have a  massage or a pedicure, I’ll be thinking of today and what a lovely time I had with my friend.

B12, Grazing and Focus

Wikipedia has this to say about B12:

Vitamin B12, vitamin B12 or vitamin B-12, also called cobalamin, is a water soluble vitamin with a key role in the normal functioning of the brain nervous system, and for the formation of blood. It is one of the eight B vitamins. It is normally involved in the metabolism of every cell of the body, especially affecting DNA synthesis and regulation, but also fatty acid
and synthesis and energy production…Vitamin B12 is normally involved in the metabolism of every cell of the body, especially affecting the DNA synthesis and regulation but also fatty acid synthesis and energy production.

After weight loss surgery, it is very difficult to absorb enough B12 through food sources, so I take a daily B12 supplement. But I also take a B12 shot. I started  with once a month, but soon discovered that taking it more often made  a huge difference in my ability to stick to plan. Whenever I find myself eating when I’m not hungry or mindlessly snacking, my husband looks at the calendar and points out that it is time for my shot. In the last 10 months I have gradually increased the frequency (with my doctor’s advice and permission) to every two weeks. This seems to work for me.

In addition to the  munchies, I also find that I have problems concentrating. My job as an analyst is a great measuring stick for that. Before I increased the frequency of the b12 shot, I had one day where I was so disoriented that I had to go home. Fred figured out it was the shot and I took it right away.

It is a little weird how quickly it takes effect.  I can take it and in about five minutes start to feel different and in an hour be completely back to normal. I keep doing research, but so far, haven’t found any indications that  there is any harm in the shot. I do worry that the frequency will continue to diminish. I mean, I can’t take it every day, can I?

Week before last, I didn’t get my vitamins organized and relied on the backup vitamins I keep at work. I only had a couple of b12 left at work, so didn’t take my full shot. By the end of the week, I really noticed the difference because it was also, bad timing, time for my shot. But I took the shot and continue to take the daily sublingual from Bariatric Advantage. This week I felt more in control of my eating and  able to focus and get more accomplished.