Next Lunar Eclipse 2014

My husband woke us up early this morning to see the beautiful lunar eclipse over the Sierras. It was worth pulling on ski pants and a heavy coat at 5:00 am to see this as there won’t be another one until 2014.

That started me thinking about a re-framing exercise that my therapist had recommended. The idea is to imagine yourself in the future and write about what has happened since the present date. Write your story the way you want it to unfold. She believes that this is a very powerful tool and has had amazing results with it. So here goes:

April 15, 2014

Happy Tax Day everyone! Hope you got your taxes filed or at least your extension. After all those years of procrastinating, it’s been nice the last few years to have my taxes done in November every year so that I can do any paper work and juggling recommended to avoid paying unnecessary taxes. Now that we are making so much money, that’s particularly important. My writing career has just taken off and my husband’s android apps are unbelievably popular! We would like to put as much money back into the business as we can, so that we can continue to hire more people. We like that we’re contributing to the local economy and giving people the opportunity to work. Having our own company is Fred’s dream come true and he’s worked so hard and deserves all the success because he never gave up on that dream.  I have to give my friend’s James and Jenny credit for my writing success  – they showed me that it could be done and really inspired me. Hat’s off, guys!

Did everyone see the lunar eclipse this morning? It was just beautiful. I think I liked it even more this time because we were enjoying it from our beautiful patio in our very own home. The last eclipse was back in December of 2011 and we saw that from the old rental up on Stephanie Way. We had a good start on our life out West in that house, but I have to admit, having our own house, with lots of spare bedrooms for all the guests we’ve had is terrific. I love my kitchen here and the tons of cabinet space. For the first time EVER all my kitchen gadgets and books are unpacked and I can actually get to them. My office is truly amazing – lots of bookcase space, a fireplace and a view of the mountains to inspire my writing. Couldn’t ask for anything better.

My husband and son are loving their homeschooling space – big windows overlooking the gardens and the mountains in the background and lots of desk and storage space. They even have cabinets and tables for projects, so they can keep their desk space cleared. They are just about to finish the last level of Barton program for dyslexia. It’s hard to imagine that our son ever had a problem reading. He’s now 12, super tall and an amazing writer who loves to read and is constantly surprising me with something he’s learned or done.

That’s when he’s not out snow boarding and making my heart stop with all the snowboard tricks that he does. He’s always safe, but he and my husband are lunatics on the snow, in my opinion! We’ve all gotten better and better, now that we are in such good shape. We ski and snowboard in the winter, along with telemarking, snowshoeing and winter hiking and camping. Who would have thought that the couch-potatoes from Atlanta would be such outdoor people? My son is just shooting up in height these days – I have to keep letting the hem out on his pants!

Our old dog, Scrappy, isn’t interested in going with us, and prefers spending her days by the fire. She’s almost 16 now but still going strong. Sophie at four years old is the best snow dog in the world and loves to swim and run and bike and hike with us in the summer.  The last time we took the sail boat out she kept jumping in and soaking all of us when she came out and shook off her fur. My son just laughed like a loon every time. I love to hear that.

There were so many days when we first moved out here that laughing together was one of the things that kept us going. Learning my new job (which is great by the way – just got a wonderful review and a raise – how’s that for progress? And I’m busy learning about a new project that I’ll be working on next month. Can’t wait!) and trying to make new friends was hard. Now it seems that with old friends flying out to visit and new friends to see here, we have to work to find time with just the three of us.

Speaking of which, the boys were gone on a boy scout trip this weekend, so I spent the the time going through papers and cleaning out my desk. I came across the packet of closing papers for our house and the final pictures we took before we turned over the keys for the last time. I’d forgotten all about Steve – he was such a wonderful property manager for us. Upscale Staging was really the secret of our success in selling the house. He kept it beautifully staged and decorated and gave it that lived in, loved feeling that made the new family fall in love with it the minute they came into the warmth that cold January day. I know it was our lucky day! No one believed that we could sell the house for what we owed on it, but we knew what a wonderful house it was and that it was just waiting for the right family to come along.  It was only a few months before we were able to buy this house.

I thought it would take us much longer to find our dream house, but this house came on the market and the owners were just as motivated to sell as we’d been so we got our big 3500 square foot house, with guest house, huge three car garage, workshop and greenhouse, with 20 acres, a pond and a trout stream for under $400k! I couldn’t believe we’d find something so close to work and convenient to the ski resort that had all these beautiful trees AND water rights. Sometimes I want to pinch myself because everything just seems to be going right for us. My husband keeps reminding me that we earned it by working so hard and I know he’s right.

But after all those months in the rental house, it was almost like a dream, that first Saturday morning in this house, waking up, making pancakes for breakfast and sitting over coffee in the new breakfast nook, looking out over the lawn and the pond, making plans for unpacking all our stuff and getting the garden started. Even the timing was perfect that first year! We moved in May, just in time to get the kitchen garden started with the greenhouse covering and then we built the chicken pen. Or was it the goats first? I can’t remember now, but I do remember learning to gather eggs, make goat milk yogurt and cheese and how much work it was, but how much fun, too. I had to laugh the first time we sat down to a meal of an omelet with vegetables and we had grown everything but the rye for the bread – it felt like being on an episode of Little House on the Prairie!

Well, I need to run drop off the new truck for it’s first service before I go to work, so I’ll wrap up for now. Have a great day!

Savor this moment

It’s Saturday morning. The sun is up and shining on fresh snow on the mountains. Down here in the valley it is clear and cold. I’ve got the fire burning and my dogs are sleeping after their early morning run. I’ve got a hot cup of coffee, a blanket and my laptop. Damn I’m lucky!

Hard to feel that way last night when I went to bed exhausted. That seems to be the norm now. Work until I can’t stand up anymore and then collapse. Sleep and recover, then get up and do it all over again. Not taking enough down time to just enjoy life. Rush, rush, rush.

I would like to go to the lake or up to enjoy the snow in the mountains but I have to do my taxes today so I can get them filed by the Oct 15 deadline. Guess it would be a good goal to finish by Sunday afternoon so we can do that.

In the meantime, I’m taking an hour to just enjoy the peace and quiet. That will shortly be shattered when my son’s friend arrives. I feel sure they will play video games most of the day, until I make them go out and ride their bikes or play ball or something for a little while.

I am going to make carrot and ginger soup today. That and a pan of the rye quick bread I’ve been making will be lunch. Dinner is grilled shrimp with some gluten-free pasta.

Did I mention that my husband has discovered he has celiac disease? Yup. He’s been suffering from horrible breakouts for the last couple of years and when we got out here, someone noticed and suggested he try gluten-free. Amazing response in only a few weeks so that’s our new lifestyle – Gluten-Free! Glad as hell it’s now and not 10 years ago. There are so many wonderful resources and products out there. We particularly like the Pamela’s baking mix, though it’s not great for me – too carby. But there are tons of great, healthy, non-gluten good carb things to eat and we’re going to find them all. Quinoa is still a staple and of course, meat, veggies and fruit are all gluten-free. For some people rye causes them to react, but my husband seems to be good with rye so I’ve learned to make this bread. It takes about 10 minutes to get everything out,  mix it up and then clean up the mess. That’s also about how long it takes to pre-heat my oven, so I’ve been making a batch every other day. The boys love it and so do I!

Quicker Rye Quick Bread (with my modifications!)

  • 2.5 cups Bob’s Red Mill dark rye flour 
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp natural grey seat salt
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (or milk – I like the tang of the buttermilk)
  • 1/4 cup honey

Pre-heat oven to 400° f and spray a 9×9 baking dish with canola. Mix together all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix together wet ingredients in another bowl, then stir quickly into the dry until combined. Don’t over mix! Spread into the baking dish and bake for 15 minutes at 400° f. Turn down the oven to 350° f and continue to bake for 15 minutes or until the bread has pulled away from the sides of the pan and a knife inserted comes clean. Allow to cool in pans for 5 minutes, and then turn out onto cooling racks. This bread will stay good for several days if wrapped in plastic.

Rye Quick Bread (original recipe)

Compliments of: Bluebird Customer & Professional Baker Lynda Oosterhuis

This Swedish bread is traditionally made with cumin seeds but I find it covers up the lightly sweet rye and honey flavors.

  • 5 cups Rye Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 cups Yogurt
  • ½ cup Milk
  • ¼ cup Honey

Pre-heat oven to 400° f and butter 2 8 X 4 inch loaf pans. Mix together all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix together wet ingredients and stir into dry. Continue to beat with a wooden spoon for several minutes. Divide among the loaf pans and bake for 20 minutes at 400° f. Turn down the oven to 350° f and continue to bake for 30 minutes or until the bread has pulled away from the sides of the pan and a knife inserted comes clean. Allow to cool in pans for 5 minutes, and then turn out onto cooling racks.

This bread will stay good for several days if wrapped in plastic.

 

As I cook this morning, I’m going to keep reminding myself how fortunate I am to have a great job, in a beautiful location with my healthy family all around me.  Have a great day!

Mind to Mouth Resuscitation

Someone was posting today about the attitude towards weight loss surgery and how much they hate the Rachel Ray talk show because she’s promoting people who lost hundreds of pounds WITHOUT SURGERY.

Well good for them. I tried and tried and tried but could never stick with it long enough to make it work for me. Having the surgery is my safety net. But it’s only one of the things I did and in the long run, not even the most important.

The most important was finding a weight loss therapist and working on the problems that got me to Super Morbidly Obese in the first place.

Then joining Weight Watchers and learning to track and stick to a plan and having that weekly accountability and support. Plus – I learned a lot about losing weight and what works for me and what doesn’t. I’m still doing all that stuff and I know if I wasn’t, I would be gaining again. (Because when I’m not doing all that stuff, I AM gaining!)

Working with a nutritionist, learning to plan menus, shop, prepare and eat healthy has been a core part of the process. So many people really and truly don’t know how to eat or what to eat to be healthy. I have to pack as much nutrition as I can into a small amount of food – about a cup a meal. So I eat lean protein, vegetables, high fiber grains, fruit, nuts and lean dairy. Plus I MUST have my daily vitamins because my body no longer absorbs enough food from the food I eat. And don’t forget about drinking water – I can get dehydrated and end up in the hospital if I don’t sip, sip, sip all day long. I like the fact that the surgery made it difficult and painful to eat too much sugar or too much fat or too much ANYTHING. I needed that while my head was getting straight. As you all know, there are days, even after three years, that I STILL need it.

What has really changed my body and helped to change my mental attitude is finding a gym (or two) and a personal trainer (or three) and learning to push my limits on exercise. Trying new things every month so that it doesn’t get boring and I always have something I can do to exercise that sounds good to me. Today the treadmill sounds good – tomorrow will be kickboxing again. This weekend, hiking or biking. Later this month, skiing and snowboarding. This summer, I’m going to try wake boarding, water skiing and surfing and get my scuba certification.  And did I mention I was an iron girl triathlete? Okay, maybe a few hundred times…

I think that only time and OUR success will determine the attitude of the public to surgery. If 50% or more of the people who have the surgery stop doing the right thing, they will gain their weight back and the attitude that it is a cop-out/easy way out will continue. But if more people lose the weight in a smart way – changing our lifestyles, exercising, working on the mental health issues that GOT us to MO or SMO, then we can change those attitudes over time.

I never forget that I did this to save my life.  It made me think about other life saving techniques that were originally scoffed at and I found this:

“Whether you were ‘dead’ or not depends largely on what medical technology is lying to hand. The longer you are in cardiac arrest (heart not beating) or respiratory arrest (not breathing) the harder it is to revive you, but you’re not dead until the doctors decide nothing else can be done. However, it wasn’t always this way. There was a time when both of the symptoms above indicated the cessation of life. In fact, when early reports of successful mouth-to-mouth were presented to the Royal Society, their prickly response was: “Life ends when breathing ceases.” You were either dead or you weren’t. ”

I was super morbidly obese, but I wasn’t dead yet and this is my own version of mouth to mouth. I call it MIND to MOUTH.

Oh – and I have to stand up for weight watchers – like anything else, it only works if you follow the plan and don’t get off the plan. They have recently changed their points system so that it is a lot more balanced and you can do WLS-style eating with more protein and stick to your points and LOSE or maintain as is my goal. It teaches balance, accountability, journaling and encourages exercise. I did it for two years before surgery and though I only lost 40 pounds in that 2 years, I did learn how to be aware of what I was eating and I consider my WW leader and group a key part of my success.

Dream Work: Messages from Myself

I woke up just before 6:00 AM with my dreams still in my head. I reached for the notebook and pen I left beside me on the bed and started to scribble in the dark. I guess I woke up my poor husband, because he got up to go to the bathroom, so I turned on the light and wrote as much as I could remember. Then I was going to come downstairs and write, but he was awake, so I started talking through the dream images with him. He’s very good at seeing the metaphors my mind is throwing at me, while I tend to just look at them literally.

Here’s what I can remember with some early thoughts on what the metaphors might mean:

Early in the dream I’m traveling in a car and I know that we have a long way to go. I’m not sure where I am, I keep guessing Las Vegas and other places, but I am not driving. The driver is a woman [who makes me think mother – but not my mom], keeps telling me that I am further than I think – on the other side of the country, Connecticut. I keep looking for signs, which are EVERYWHERE, but they are going by so quickly that I can’t read them. I don’t recognize where I am.

Then I’m trying to park my car in a deep, subterranean car park. [I think Coca-Cola corporate offices where I once worked] I drive around, looking for spots and I get the impression there are lots of spots, but not the one I want. I keep trying one after the other, but just not a good fit. Then I find one and pull in, only to have a whole row of cars park behind me, illegally, and block me in. There’s another line of cars behind those, but they are supposed to be there. They aren’t in the way. I can’t pull my car out because of the cars blocking me, but I’m getting grief because I’m the one who is blocking everyone else. I am angry because it is so frustrating and unjust – it isn’t fair. Now I have a big wooden chair with red velvet padding and strong arms and I try to take it off to the side and get out of the way while the problem gets resolved, but the attendant yells at me. A woman [my internal authority figure?] – makes me realize that I need to get back in my car and deal with the problem. I can’t just walk away from it. I raise the chair over my head and crash it into pieces, then head back to my car.

Now I’m in a car or plane – traveling again. I get a message on my cell phone, but I can’t understand it. I try so hard to listen, over and over but my husband is talking to me and I keep missing the details. I can’t find a pen to write it down and I miss the message. Something about a problem that needs a ticket opened now, rather than later (being proactive? more efficient), so that this woman can get ahead of the queue when the problem resolution begins. [The woman who is leaving me the message reminds me of a college roommate that I always admired – Elahna. Super smart, very strong and confident in her work, but unsure of herself socially. Never saw herself as attractive, though she was beautiful, just not conventionally pretty. ]

So now I’m trying to get to this woman and respond to the call for help, but there are obstacles. At one point I’m stuck on a plane, having to go to the bathroom in front of everyone. I am completely exposed, but feel like I have no choice, I keep going and realize that no one is really paying attention to me. I do my business and close the lid, but feel that I can’t flush it away because there is too much and it will get stuck and overflow. I just leave it and keep going.

Then I’m roller skating – with my son? I keep thinking I am doing everything wrong, and my pants come down, exposing that I am wearing a girdle under my clothes. There are ropes that I’m holding on to but have to go under and over. They aren’t very supportive. I am taking baby steps on the skates, learning to glide but feeling that any minute I could fall/fail. Then this amazing Mammie figure, a huge black woman, very loving and comforting says “You are making it”. And I realize that I am making progress and though it isn’t the way I think I should be doing it, I’m keeping my balance and moving forward.

Then we’re at the door of the building where we need to be. I don’t know who the we is – but the door is open and I think it should be locked. Someone says something about the cat being able to get back in, if she needs to. We head up the stairs but there are gaps that seem impossible. Somehow I manage to find something that lets me fly up and over the gaps to the next level. It’s like a wing that I’ve built. Very light light, almost transparent, but stronger than it looks. Everyone can follow me across the gaps to the other side.

Now I can see that the others with me are all in costumes – capes, fancy skirts, beautiful and dramatic and so rich in color and detail. [I think they are all the parts of me that help me. ]

We make it to the apartment at the top. The woman who left me the message is there and we are in time. Everything is going to be alright. She is on the phone, busy, engaged, talking. But the message that comes across is that she is in a part of the apartment that always stays warm, even when there is an emergency, this part will be okay. From the “cold” part of the apartment a man in a fat costume comes out, laughing and says “Guess who I am” and I wake up.

Reading this and typing it up, I can’t stop crying. There are so many messages here. So much that right now I can only write it down and save it for later. But I feel grateful, calm and strong.

I am making it.

Dream Work: Asking for Answers

You know that I’ve been reading Dr. Anita Johnston’s book – Eating in the Light of the Moon. Last night I read the chapter on Dreamtime.  Listen to this:

“If there is a certain problem you want help with, make a mental note just before falling asleep at night, to ask for a dream that will give you the insight or guidance you need. Whatever your struggle happens to be with food, fat or eating, ask for a dream that will reveal the symbolism of food, what fat means to you or what feelings you are trying to express or suppress by eating. Ask for helping in discovering the underlying issues you need to resolve or the attitude that will be most helpful to your recovery process. You may not get a dream immediately, it may take weeks, but when you do get the dream, there is a good chance you will recognize it as the one you asked for.”

So after reading that, I found a beautiful green leather notebook that is very special to me. I got out a brand new, gel pen that I love writing with and found a fresh page in my notebook. Then I wrote the following down at the top of the blank page:

Dream Notes
Saturday, January 29, 2011
What blocks me from reaching my goal?
Why don’t I keep working towards it and making progress?
Why do I keep going off track?

As soon as I put the notebook aside, I could FEEL the mental blocks going up. It was like one of those scenes from Matrix with the walls being built up out of nothing and clicking together to trap me inside. I could feel my shoulders tensing up and my neck turtling down into my chest.  It was only for a few seconds, but I paid attention. I did some deep breathing, deliberately relaxed my shoulders, my neck and unclenched my teeth. Then I started repeating a kind of mantra that I made up on the spot:

I want to see. I need to understand. I’m strong enough to see the answer. I’ve been afraid too long. I want to see. I need to understand. I’m strong enough to see the answer. I’ve been afraid too long.

Over and over until I fell asleep.

Labor of Love

My husband built me a light therapy box. It’s beautiful. It is 11 1/2 inches wide, by 15 inches tall and 9 inches deep. It’s made of sanded and polyurethaned pine so it is soft and satiny smooth. The inside is painted silver and has six super bright daylight bulbs that produce 10,000 lumens at a light temperature of 5500 degrees Kelvin. It has a lightly sanded plexiglass cover that defuses the light and can be removed to get to the bulbs. The wiring on the back is covered by velcroed plastic disks that can also be removed to get to the wiring. There is a timer switch that allows me to set it for a 5, 10, 15, 20 or 30 minute treatment – all the way up to 60 minutes, though the maximum recommendation is 30 minutes.

I started with 15 minutes yesterday, but didn’t get the same effect as I do with the Apollo Golite P1 device until I did it for 30 minutes. Interesting. Perhaps something to do with the bluewave lights? Or the 6500 degree Kelvin light temperature? I may try experimenting with different light bulbs – we went with the slightly less expensive daylight bulbs rather than the $25 therapy lights since my husband’s research indicated that there wasn’t really a difference. I feel like there is a difference, so we’re going to add in one therapy light to increase the light spectrum that is produced.

I have to confess, I never really thought it would be finished. He started the process in October and it was so much more complex and so much more involved that I honestly thought it would join the long list of projects that we start but don’t finish.

I stand corrected. My husband built me a light therapy device. And it was a labor of love.

Help Me Start a Healthy Epidemic!

An epidemic is defined as something spreading rapidly and extensively by infection and affecting many individuals in an area or a population at the same time.  If I inspire two people to live healthier and they each agree to inspire two people, and so on, then we can start our own healthy epidemic. Maybe even a PANDEMIC! (Global epidemic)

Why are we waiting for the government or medical community to do it for us? That’s not what government is supposed to be about – but it is what PEOPLE are supposed to be about. Go out there and start living healthy and then start to pay it forward.

When I think about all the people who have inspired me, I actually feel guilty that I’m not inspiring more people. Does it really take dozens, maybe 100’s of people to move one woman from super morbidly obese to healthy? My aunt dying at 54 – that inspired me to join Weight Watchers. My weight loss therapist, Rebecca, inspires me. My nutritionist, Alyssa, inspires me. My trainer and the guys at my gym, Knuckle up Fitness, inspire me. The folks at Dunwoody Fitness Center inspired me. My sisters inspired me to get healthier by their examples and now we inspire each other – seeing my sister lose weight and feel good about herself makes me go back and think about how I can do better. The women on my message boards and support groups and at weight watchers all inspire me by their success and their honesty in sharing their struggles.

If I thought that losing weight was easy for everyone else, it would be so much harder. But I know how hard it is. I know that it is a daily battle and sometimes we lose the battle, but we don’t ever give up on the war.

So was all that inspiration meant to just stop with me? I say NO!

So – who have I inspired? I know that my husband and son are living healthier, and I see some of my friends starting to eat healthier, exercise, drink water and focus on eating to live instead of living to eat, too. Knowing that they are looking at me as an example keeps me on track and from slipping too far when I do go off path.  How can I be the inspiration I want to be if I’m sitting at my desk, munching on almonds and chocolates and putting on a few pounds? I have to exercise and eat right and look and feel good – that is the inspiration.

So today I want to find out if I have inspired anyone and if I have, who have YOU inspired? If you haven’t inspired anyone, is it because you haven’t committed to making all the changes you need to make? Or maybe you just need to let your light shine instead of hiding it under a barrel?

I’m posting on WordPress that has over a million people a day – Facebook with millions more – message boards with thousands of users. If we all inspire 2 people and they agree to inspire 2 more, we can hit the population of the US in a few DAYS. The population of the world in a few MONTHS. How’s that for a pandemic?

I’m going to finish my cup of Caribbean cooler (protein) tea and go do my treadmill. 45 minutes, 3 miles, cranking up the incline all the way until I get to 12% and a good, solid sweat. Then I’m going to pack a healthy lunch and snack and get to work.

How inspiring is THAT?? Pass it on.

Body Image

Today I am proudly borrowing this post from Teresa1031, a friend from my online community, because I felt like she was speaking to me.

It’s been a while since I posted this but it’s one of my favorites. I’ve read posts here lately from people concerned about pictures, whether they look too thin, things other people say to them, etc. All are common issues with people who have had WLS, I believe. It means we have to work on body image. What we look like needs to be more closely aligned with how we view ourselves in our heads. 

I’ve written about this before (probably many times) because it was a tough thing for me. Some people can maybe just shift into a thin way of thinking, especially if they had been thin at one point in their lives. I don’t remember ever in my life thinking of myself as a thin person so it was a difficult adjustment.

My husband believes that unless you start thinking of yourself as thin, the changes in your physical self (weight loss) are harder to maintain. We fight hard to keep mind and body together. I made a list once of things I could do to help with the adjustment in my thinking. Not sure I can think of all of them again but maybe we can add to this thread…ideas to change your body image. How do you start thinking of yourself as a thin person and stop thinking of yourself as the morbidly obese person?

1. Take lots of pictures and study them. My husband has a nice camera and loves to take pictures. When I buy new clothes he has me try them on and he takes pictures so I can see what I look like. He takes lots of pictures. Sometimes I print them and I have kept a few in my desk drawer. I know it probably seems vain but I’m not showing them to other people as much as absorbing this new image of myself.

Sandy’s idea: Another way to see the changes is to take a photo with out your head, just your body. When you look at your own photo you see yourself in your mind not as you are. The headless shot shows the body without a veil in your mind.

2. Get rid of your old clothes and buy things that fit you. Find a store where the sales folks are willing to help. Tell them you have lost a lot of weight and need some assistance finding your size and what looks good on you. Or take a supportive friend along. Do not keep wearing the same old baggy stuff! Shop at thrift stores and discount stores until you settle into a size but don’t go around with safety pins in your clothes. Smaller sizes are physical proof of the changes in your body.

3. Don’t neglect your under garments. Some women appreciate lingerie and if you are one of them, buy some! They make you feel good and them help you appreciate your new body. Once as I was losing weight, my cousin took a photo of me and photoshopped my boobs up where they should have been rather than hanging down where they were…if you get my drift. It made such a difference in my appearance. Get some help with fitting from a professional if you can.

4. Measure yourself! Now there is proof that your body is changing. I measure myself the day of my first consult and once a month after that. My waist was 52 inches the first day and now it’s 28. I hold the tape out to 52 sometimes just to visualize the difference. Measure your upper arms, your calves, your neck, your bust, your waist, your thighs, and your hips. Make a chart so you can keep track of the changes over several years.

5. Alanis Morissette said:I think there is no better way to invite a human being to view their body differently than by inviting them to be an athlete, by revering one’s body as an instrument rather than just an ornament. It’s a really great way to reorient how you see your body so you can see it as this incredible, awe-inspiring machine that you need to fuel well in order for it to function.

Even if you don’t get into exercise, do something physical with your body. Recognize the things you can do now that you couldn’t do before your WLS. Can you run up steps? Can you pick up your grandchild? Can you carry two bags of groceries? Do you dance? I had WLS so I could DO things and paying attention to all the things I can do helps me cement the image of the new me in my head…which decreases the risk of going back to the obese person I was.

6. Brag about your efforts and your rewards. Your family and friends might get tired of hearing about it but we don’t here at your 24 hour a day support group! People who have been obese are not very comfortable bragging about themselves especially when it comes to their appearance or their athletic pursuits. Get over that! We love to hear about the wonderful changes that are happening in your life…your new size, your new exercise class, your new romantic interest. Get out there and live your precious new life and then come back and tell us about it!

7. Accept compliments graciously. When people tell you that you look good and healthy and strong, just say thank you and it’s been a lot of hard work. Don’t minimize the effort that it’s taken. Kathy adds: It was very hard to learn to just smile and say thank you when complimented; I kept pointing out what I thought was wrong…oh my arms are so gross….my stomach is so big….nobody else notices those things…it is just my mind trying to trick me into my old patterns and habits.

8. Deal with your other psychological baggage. WLS won’t make your life perfect but it sure helps with that obesity thing that hung around your neck for all those years. WLS won’t solve all your problems but it gives you a head start on a new way of thinking about yourself. Pinkie adds: If you are not ready to deal with the baggage, you likely are not ready for the surgery! Its a very tall order, but also a very doable one.

9. From Yvette: Get a full length mirror and look at yourself every day. I have one hanging opposite my bedroom door, so I can’t help but look at myself every time I walk out of the room.

10. From Chandra: It’s important to me to find areas of my body that I like, think about why I like them, and to remind myself of them, even by touching them sometimes, every day, several times a day. For example, I love my shoulders and arms, and the flatness of my belly (shrinkles aside). If I focus on them, I am not only reminding myself of how different I am now, but I am also focusing on the positive versus the negative aspects of my new body. And you know, even though the girls don’t look so hot naked, the fact that they are much smaller is a plus when I’m running, hiking, or playing a sport (and the right bra makes all the difference!). Yvette adds: I have recently fallen in love with my waist. I don’t remember it ever being this small. I keep looking for clothes that show it off. Lately I have caught myself smoothing my hands over my waist in the back. It’s like this reminder that “yup, I have a new skinnier body”…

11. Another one from Chandra: But perhaps the best way to remind myself is to deliberately move myself through or into small spaces whenever I find them. In the gym the other day, I looked at the space between the arms of two elliptical machines and automatically thought, “I won’t be able to get through that.” I recognized the thought, shoved it away, and mindfully thought, “Bet I can!” Then I did it – without touching either arm. Same goes for those walks through restaurants that we used to dread, walking between racks in clothing stores, sitting in an airplane seat, sitting in a restaurant booth where it looks to me like, “uh-oh, it looks like that’s going to be tight fit,” or sitting in a desk at my daughter’s school, among many others.

12. Another from Chandra: I think that the single most important way to correct our body image is to engage ourselves in mindful self-talk – to combat those negative thoughts about our bodies with new, more positive ones, and making it a habit, day in, day out. When we were MO we were obsessed with how awful we looked, so why not be obsessed with how good we look now?

I was just going to post a link, but you can’t get there from here unless you are a member. If you want to be a member, go to beforeandafterhelp.com and sign up. Great place, lots of wonderful people and useful information.

PS: Here is my headless torso picture. Without my own head in the picture, I find that it looks thinner. Strange, but fascinating.

Anger after WLS

I responded to a post on BariatricEating.com yesterday about the anger she felt after weight loss surgery and thought I’d share it here:

Hello!

I can see that you had surgery recently and have already lost over almost 40 pounds. Have you EVER in your LIFE lost that much weight in 2 months? And you will lose MORE in the next few months, whether you are following those good, new habits or you let your old, bad habits sneak back in. But if you do that, eventually, you will gain most, if not all of the weight back.

I think you should be very aware of your anger. For me it was always an indication – kind of an x marks the spot – for areas that I needed to work on with my weight loss therapist.

I felt ANGRY that I couldn’t eat what I wanted to eat after the surgery and I learned….
that I had been eating what I wanted before the surgery, but it didn’t make me happy. So it won’t make me happy now. Happiness isn’t about eating what we want. It’s about doing what we want, living how we want and feeling good about ourselves.

I felt ANGRY that other people could sit around eating junk food in front of me and I learned…
I could set a good example and the people around me would follow my example instead of the other way around. Now many of the people in my office are like me and bring their lunch and often take nuts or fruit or just a drink into meetings, instead of chips or donuts or pizza – and a lot of people have lost weight in my office. Be the example you want to see.

I felt ANGRY when I thought that I have to eat like this for the rest of my life and I learned…
That I don’t have to eat this way, it is pretty easy to go back to the old ways after only a year. But – I WANT to eat this way and I CHOOSE to live this way so that I can continue to lose weight and stay healthy.

Those feelings were real and hard at the beginning, but with time and a lot of work, all this has become easier for me and the anger has faded. When it flares up again, I hope I can continue to be gentle with myself and listen to what my heart is telling me so I can keep learning and growing and changing.

This isn’t easy and I’m sorry if you expected it to be. That’s why the statistics for re-gain are so high. It’s good that you are aware, good that you are posting and good that you are working so hard to change NOW when you have your new pouch – a strong tool to help you change.

Good luck!

The 2010 Countdown – 5 days to go

Time keeps on turning, turning – into the future! It’s the last week of the year and time for a little retrospective.

I’ve been on this journey towards health since January 2007.  That’s four years.  And no, I didn’t lose much weight that year and I didn’t keep ANY of it off, but I did get started. I just wasn’t consistent, which was always my problem. I think the best thing I did that year was join Weight Watchers. Even when I wasn’t making progress, I was paying attention EVERY WEEK. Something I had never done before.

2008 was better, still not a lot of pounds lost, but so many habits changed and my mind-set was getting to be where it needed to be. I KNEW I needed to eat better and exercise more and live life to the fullest – all at the same time and consistently! What a concept, huh? Still, up and down – losing the same 20 pounds over and over for most of the year. Still, I went into a funk in October and lost all the ground I’d gained in the battle.

2009 was still off occasionally, but became all about forgiveness and course correction. For a change, I was more on path than off and for the first time in my life, I ended the year weighing less than at the start of the year. Then I had my big fall in July of that year. After that, it felt as if I had my feet firmly set on the path and I was committed to doing WHATEVER it took to get healthy again – modified eating style, exercise as much and as often as I could, weight loss counseling, support groups, surgery and still keeping up with the weekly support from my weight watcher’s group.

2010 has been so  amazing for me – it is the first year of my life that I was on track for an ENTIRE YEAR. The first year in a long time that I didn’t have any health issues – no surgeries, no hospitalizations, no medications. And for the second year in a row, I ended the year weighing less than I started the year. Although 2010 started with me still over 200, I made it into the Century Club in February when I lost my first 100 pounds. And I will never forget how it felt to enter sweet, sweet Onderland in March when the scale dipped below 200 pounds for the first time since college – rolling the clock back almost 25 years. I loved that I did all those boot camps and a triathlon and a 5k – learned to scuba, belly dance, rock climb and so much more. Learning to use my body and build strength and endurance and energy.

This year, once again, I went into a funk in October, but instead of abandoning everything, I decided that I’d be gentle with myself and just shoot for MAINTAINING. That seems to have worked. I’m indulging myself a bit more on some days, but back to basics on most days. No super-duper exercise routines, but lots of steady, brisk walking. And I haven’t gained any weight. I know I’m flabbier, and I have to kick it in gear to recover from that, but I know I can do it.

It’s a nice feeling to look ahead to 2011 and think, now if I can only get back to strength training and lose that last 25 pounds. Compared to the overwhelming effort of getting started and trying to lose 150 pounds, that doesn’t sound so bad, but I’m still going to break it up into small goals. First goal: to get back to doing strength training with my daily cardio and to lose 5% of my current weight – about 9 pounds. That also puts me under my endocrinologist’s goal weight and makes me a lifetime Weight Watcher’s member, which are pretty special goals. Second goal: do the half marathon and lose another 5% – about 8 pounds.  And when I get those done, then the final 5% goal – about 6 pounds and hey – maybe a 10k!  Why not?

For the first time in my life, I’m not figuring out how fast I can get to those goals. I’m not setting a goal of doing it in one month or 8 weeks – though, who am I kidding? I love schedules! Instead I’m setting a goal of doing it in a way that I can maintain – no deprivation – no weird soup diets or pills. Just me and my pouch and my HEALTHY low carb/lean protein eating plan, vitamins, water, exercise and therapy.

I don’t regret this three-month break. Because I didn’t stop living healthy, and I didn’t go that far off track. I just stopped expecting to lose every week. No, I’m not as toned as I was in September, but despite that, I feel mentally strong and stable and not scared anymore. I know what I have to do to maintain, so I feel as if it’s safe to work towards my goal now. I’m no longer afraid that I’m finally going to reach it and then fail, which would be heartbreaking.

My New Year’s resolution? Next December, when I’m looking ahead to 2012, I want to be able to say “2011? This was the year I kept the magic going”.