Maintenance – Day One

Today was officially Day One of maintenance for me. I got up, made my protein drink, went to the gym where I did a 16 minute/4 mile warm up on the stationary bike. Then I hit the weight lifting room to do the workout that Cathy created for me. This is the first time I’ve been able to do the whole thing since I got sick and it felt good to be back to full capacity. The last few reps of each set were REALLY hard and I had to breath and push through, but that’s the way it is supposed to be if you are going to build muscle.

As soon as I get a few words down on paper, I’ll get my shower and then have my protein power oatmeal while I finish straining my greek yogurt. Then I’ll pack up one of my mini meatloaves and some yogurt and veggies in my lunch bag and get to work.  I’ll get in a walk at lunchtime and then, because my husband is still feeling under the weather, we’ll have leftover beef stew and veggies from the freezer for dinner.

Sounds like every other day, doesn’t it?  I think that’s the point of life style change over dieting. You don’t stop. I guess the difference is that I didn’t start my day standing on the scale, feeling either good or bad based on what it said. And yes, I stood on it and yes it was down a tiny bit, but that’s just because I’m addicted to the scale and I didn’t remember to move it out of the bathroom. Automatic pilot took over and I was standing on it before I thought about it.  I moved it to my husband’s bathroom, which I try not to enter unless I’m brave enough to clean it.  I will go to Weight Watchers on Friday and get my official weekly weight then. It would be nice if it was the same as last week, since that is my goal. But whatever it is, is good data that I can use to look at what I’m doing (must journal this week to make that work) and tweak it if necessary to maintain the status quo.

I also felt a little different at the gym. The walls are all mirrored of course, and usually I spend my time ignoring the progress I’ve made and focusing on that belly or those bat wings or the sagging boobs. Today I focused on how that woman in the mirror really looked. She looks healthy. Strong.  She looks relaxed and happy. No one who sees her would ever think of her as weighing 321 pounds.  She looks good. And she feels good.

She is – I mean I am – going to ride my bike to work this morning – cool fall day, with the sun shining bright and the sky bluer than blue. I can already feel the cool air flowing past my face and the sun shining on my helmet.

Life is good. Enjoy it!

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Signs you are not in control

Here’s my sign:At 10:30 last night, I got out of bed, went to my computer, searched on recipes and then deliberately went downstairs and made almond shortbread. Then I proceeded to eat it until I wanted to die. Fortunately, that doesn’t take long with a gastric bypass. Four pieces and I was in the bathroom, huddled over the toilet, waiting to puke or die. Then a few minutes later all that crap made it to my intestines (thanks to my tiny little pouch) and I was BACK in the bathroom.

I thought about eating something else. Drinking a glass of water. I thought about blogging. I thought about putting on some music and dancing. I thought about just going back to sleep. I thought about calling for help.

I did none of those things.

I ate until I puked.

I ate until I dumped.

There, I said it. I dumped. Part of me is jubilant – I DUMP! Really, I’ve been pushing the limit and pushing the limit and other than a sweaty, heart racing kind of experience, not so bad.

Last night – hideous. My heart was pounding so hard that I was in pain. My whole body was shaking and sweating. My stomach and intestines were bloated, and so painful it stole my breath. It took about three hours for the pain and symptoms to subside. Three hours while I drifted in and out of sleep, shaking and sweating under the covers.

This morning I woke up, pain and sweat free, trying to figure out what the hell is going on in my head. It is clear to me that the shopping was doing something for me – distraction, reward, pleasure center – whatever, that I’m not getting now and that I haven’t taught myself not to need.

Here I am, entering the danger zone: close to gaol, a year from surgery. This is when people start to slip and slide or in my case, run screaming back to where they were.

I will not do that.

But – I have over eaten every night this week. I have been eating crap. I have been drinking with my meals. I have broken every rule I’ve learned, except the exercise. I have gained four pounds.  All my pants are tight, because all that four pounds is in my poor, bloated belly.

Is it just boredom? Flirting with danger so I can have a little drama back in my new peaceful, yoga breathing, meditative life? Is it that I know how to lose weight and have still not mastered the mindset for maintaining it, so I want to gain so I can go back to losing? Is it because I am so close to goal? I got to within 1 pound of my goal this week. Did that scare me too much? Is this a reaction to getting what I wanted? What I worked so hard to earn? Do I think, somewhere, deep down inside that I don’t deserve it? That I can’t ever be a normal, healthy person?

I have to stop.

I have to gain a measure of control. No one else can do this for me. I can’t blame it on my husband, my best friend, my sister or my mother who told me I was fat when I was eleven. It’s just me. Right now.  This minute. Making a choice.

In an effort to do that, every day this week I’ve gone to the beforeandafterhelp.com site and posted my intentions about what I would eat and when I would eat it. Every day I’ve made it until  mid-afternoon and then gone on a wild Mr Toad’s ride with carbs instead.

Today must be different.

I am going to start over at the beginning. Today: clear liquids with unflavored protein added. All day. 24 hours from now, I will have made a good start at de-carbing my system. Tomorrow I will start a three-day liquid protein training session. I will make protein shakes and sip them all day. For three days. That should bring me to Monday and back to sanity. Back in control.

Send me some power, my friends. I need it. Call, write, email, send up smoke signals or let fly with a carrier pigeon. Tell me that I am not alone. That I am heard and loved and supported. That I deserve to succeed.

Or not.

If I am truly alone, then I can still be okay. I am strong. I can do this, alone if I must. After all, I’m the one with the hand, cutting the almond shortbread. I have to be the one to pour the protein drink instead.

Digging Out

It is pretty mind-boggling how behind you can get, just being sick for a few days. I am sitting in my home office and surrounded with piles of mail and work. I keep doing a few inches in each pile, but the progress is slow.  I might finish by Monday or a year from Monday.

The truth is that the view out my window is much more tempting the than view inside my office. Out there the sky is blue, the sun is shining and the leaves on the trees are still green and blowing in the wind. I want to go on a bike ride or a hike. I don’t want to be on call. But I missed too many hours and the opportunity to be on call for the pre-release weekend is too good to miss. So I’m monitoring the Triage queue for defects and watching my communicator in case anyone needs me. After the morning flurry of a couple of critical defects, things are pretty slow. The testers are in Seattle, so I expect things will heat up in a bit. My cell is charged and the volume is turned up – if anyone needs me, I’m available, but for now, I’m taking a lunch break.

My husband just reminded me it is time for my b12 shot, so that’s warming up to room temperature. Sure enough, if I look at my food log for the last two days, I’ve been a snacking more than normal. It isn’t the snacking that surprises me anymore, it is the fact that I refuse to admit what it is and just keep eating. As if those calories don’t count. What a cop out. They count and they are just that many more calories between me and my next goal.

My next goal is 1 pound and 1 ounce away. 17 ounces. That’s about 4000 calories (and yes – that’s more than what I ate in snacks the last two days – ha!) I’m at 171.1 today and the NEXT goal is 170. I’ve already scheduled my reward: I’m getting my teeth whitened. This is not a splurge, it is actually a gift from my long time dentist. He is very proud of me and offered it to me when I get to goal weight. I’ve had it done before, but it never really lasts for long – I drink too much tea and coffee and even the occasional glass of red wine – they all blow that shiny white out of the water. It is a very sweet gift and I can’t say how much I appreciate it. Jerry has been my dentist for over 20 years and has seen me go from around 200 to over 300 and back again, several times. They are all cheering me on and encouraging me and even without the generous gift, I really love them for it. (If you need a great dentist in Buckhead area of Atlanta, let me know!)

The day has gotten away from me – problem solving and on call for work, paper sorting at home. My husband just reminded me that I am still recovering, so I’m going to wrap this up for today with no wise words, no useful insight and no pertinent information.

Just a wish that the rest of your weekend is sunny and bright and filled with peace.

Recovering (in more than one way)

I woke up this morning feeling MUCH better! I got a lot sicker before I got better, so I’m glad I decided to rest. I even went to the doctor. They tested me for flu and strep, but apparently I just had a bug or a cold or some other untreatable illness. I treated myself with chicken soup and hot tea with honey. I also used my neti pot and some saline solution to clean out my sinus/nasal passages. When it got really horrible, I succumbed to some over-the-counter decongestant and a big dose of liquid Tylenol, since I can’t take NSAIDS post-WLS.

Now I have to catch up on a whole day of missed work. I guess I’ll be working through the weekend to get those hours back as my budget cannot afford any hits right now. The truth is that in the last 13 months I’ve made a hash of our finances. Last year in September we were out of debt and had money in the bank and now we are in debt thousands of dollars and there are no savings. I got a good kick in the rear from Rebecca on Wednesday. I mentioned something about still shopping when I’m bored or stressed and she let me have it with both barrels.

Cross Addiction or transference occurs when you exchange one bad habit for another. So smokers take up eating when they quit or drinkers start smoking or compulsive eaters start shopping. The result is that you’ve not really made the progress you think you have, you’ve just swapped out one life destroying habit for another. As Rebecca pointed out, financial problems are the number one reason that couples divorce. And I haven’t been exactly keeping my husband in the loop. I pay the bills, so unless he asks, which he doesn’t, he doesn’t really know what is going on. Since we had talked a few months ago about this problem and agreed that he would take over paying the bills, she reminded me that my continuing to pay the bills was a little like asking your alcoholic wife to mind the key to the liqueur cabinet.

So Rebecca made me promise to confess all and sit down together to figure out a plan and what we were going to do. I spent a couple of hours figuring out exactly how bad it was and then told him. He was pretty wonderful. Upset, obviously, but he controlled it manfully and stayed calm. He’s going to get quikbooks setup this weekend and start paying the bills.

I am going to put all my credit cards away and just keep a debit card and checkbook. It’s a lot harder to spend recklessly when you do it with cash. If that doesn’t work, I’m going to take a cash allowance and get rid of the debit card and checkbook as well.

If I can kick the compulsive eating habit, I can kick a compulsive spending habit. I have enough clothes. I have enough shoes. I have enough body care products and makeup. All the things I’ve been buying, using the excuse that it was part of my recovery. Now I need a plan for this like anything else. The good news is that unlike eating, I can quit cold turkey, something you can’t do with food.

I read up on twelve step programs and though I’m not going to be giving myself up to a higher power, there’s a lot of value in some of those steps. So here my version and the 10 steps that I’m going to work on until I feel I have this under control:

  1. Admit that I have a problem and that it has become unmanageable (done)
  2. Make a searching and fearless inventory of my weakness (done – but I suspect there is more lurking beneath the surface)
  3. Make a list of all the outstanding debts I have (done)
  4. Became willing to pay them all, do what it takes to meet those responsibilities (done)
  5. Confessed to my husband (done)
  6. Opened myself up to accountability (done – will have to keep doing this with weekly financial meetings)
  7. Am entirely ready to be guided by my husband and therapist The Twelve Steps. (done – I think this will be the hardest)
  8. Continue to take personal inventory and when I’m wrong promptly admit it.The Twelve Steps.
  9. Add the compulsive spending to my focus in meditation and steps to success
  10. Share what I’ve learned with others

It’s taken me a few days to get my head around all this. I was so mad. I spent a few hours in denial, raging against the idea that I’d taken the easy way out and transferred my emotional eating to emotional spending. But the numbers don’t lie. I’m spending more than we have. I’m putting my family in jeopardy. And if that is true, then I can fix it.  But not alone.

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could become an emotional exerciser? Whenever I feel stressed, I would be overcome with the  need to take a walk or run a mile or lift weights. Now that’s a problem I’d like to try for a while.

I’ve got to (virtually) get to work now. Be gentle with yourself today, I know I will be.

    Sick Days

    I’m home sick today. Sore throat, headache, slight fever and the occasional sneeze. Nothing I couldn’t dose and cover with meds and get to work, but that seems so unhealthy to me. And so inconsiderate to my co-workers. I mean, sure, I can mask the symptoms, but I’m probably sporting some bug and OTC doesn’t do anything about a contagious virus.

    Last night my wonderful husband made me chicken soup with matzo balls. So good – fresh, free range chicken boiled in organic chicken broth with leeks, onions, carrots, celery, shallot with some herbs and spices. It took him almost 3 hours to make it, but boy was it fabulous. Now THAT is a labor of love.  It made my sore throat go away for hours and I slept like a baby. I’m probably going to have more for lunch, though he also has some fresh tuna steaks marinating that were meant for last night’s dinner. He and Jacob will be going to a Sukkot dinner tonight, but I’m going to keep my germs at home.

    It’s kind of fun being in bed all day. It’s been a while since I had a sick day. They used to come pretty often in my SMO3 days (super morbidly obese category III) but now I’m the “poster child for health” as one of my co-workers called me the other day. I was sitting on my 75 cm exercise ball (now my chair at work) and eating my Jenny O ground turkey breast with grilled veggies and talking about my new fitness challenge. I guess I’m one of THOSE people now. The ones I used to tune out for the most part, because I wasn’t ready to hear about how much fun it was or how good it feels to feed my body what it needs and push my body to the limit and a bit beyond.

    So I’ll take my sick day and piddle a bit with work and get a few hours in, so I’m not too behind. But for the most part, I’m just going to doze and drink liquids and rest. Being healthy means taking care of myself, and frankly, I’ve learned that I’m not irreplaceable. Anyone on my team can pretty much step in and do my job and that’s as it should be. I don’t need to create situations where no one can do what I do – I don’t want to be indispensable. Even last year when I got laid off, I was actually proud of the fact that someone could take over my work. That I was caught up and documented and could hand off pretty easily. My co-worker took over seamlessly and they have been successful. I wish I was still there, but I’m glad that the project and the work went on without me.

    I think that’s a good attitude for life as well: I need to be working with a partner (my husband) and be so in synch with him that if something happens to one of us, the other is not left lost and struggling. Sad and grieving, yes, that goes without saying, but life should go on and go on as well as it can. I need to be organized and documented and not leave too much mess behind for someone else to deal with after I’m gone.

    Today is my appointment with Rebecca, my weight loss therapist. I’ve got a lot of stuff to talk about – mean people and opportunities that didn’t pan out; my new challenge at the fitness center; my contract getting renewed through next year; the weight watchers’ success day; in general, all my progress and challenges in the last two weeks. Seeing Rebecca firms things up, gets them clear in my head.

    Sort of rambling today, but that’s okay. Have a great one and talk to you tomorrow.

    Overcoming Inertia

    Hard to get going today. It’s raining and dark and after this great, warm fall we’ve been having, I’m not feeling the spirit move me up and out the door. Had such a fun and busy weekend and managed to get in a fair amount of physical activity: Sunday was a fun trip to the Tennessee Aquarium. So much better than the Atlanta one in terms of accessibility and flow. Not as stunning to look at architectecurally, perhaps, but just wonderful. We got a season pass so we’ll be going back! Can’t wait.

    Saturday I took a yoga class, which is getting better and harder at the same time, if that makes sense. Better in that I am starting to get some of the breathing and movements more and harder that I’m trying to stretch myself a bit more and do the forms more accurately. I was pretty stiff on Saturday – probably because after the 10k I ran on Thursday, I took Friday off because scuba class is over. After yoga I met with Cathy Marshal for the first time. She’s the trainer in charge of the fitness challenge at Dunwoody Baptist Church fitness center. I joined there early this year to swim and have stayed because it is probably one of the nicest, most well equipped fitness centers I’ve ever used. My son and husband are also now members so we can go as a family and walk/run or swim.  There aren’t a lot of things kids under 13 are allowed to do, so that’s a bummer, but so far, the only one.

    Anyway, they are having another fitness challenge. I won the Beach Body Challenge in June and thought it would be a nice way to keep myself motivated to get off the last 26 pounds. I wasn’t expecting that it would be such a great bargain! For my $20 entry fee, I got a free one hour session with Cathy, who is not only a personal trainer, but she competes, as well. She was describing how they have to be inspected all over, so she’s familiar with targeting specific areas and being really efficient at weight loss.

    The workout was good – quite a change, though, from the boot camps I’ve been doing. She had to keep slowing me down and pointing me to smaller weights. I was used to doing timed intervals where you go as heavy as you can while keeping your form. She’s going to have me doing much slower, more controlled movements with what seem to be really little weights. The routine changes up constantly and you go back and forth to do three sets of three exercises at a time so you are constantly moving. This is what I’m going to start doing 3-4 times a week (though how do you do 4  days a week alternating and stick to a schedule? The project manager in me is conflicted – that means this week it will be Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Then next week it will be Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Monday. Ach!) everything is 15 reps:

    • Set one – Ab crunch machine; elbow to knee standing crunches
    • Set two – bar push ups; squats, tricep dips on the bench
    • Set three – bicep curls (8 pound weights); seated rows on the machine with no added weight
    • Set four – Shoulder press (5 pound weights); calf raises; knee raises (suitcases Stephen called them; I call them torture)
    • Set five – Chest press machine (no added weight); leg press (no added weight – that sucker is heavy); leg curl machine

    That plus cardio every day is my new routine. She wants me to do the bike before the workout.  I’ll see how whacked I am afterward, but I’m going to try to run on the elliptical after the workout to keep working on my 10k.

    She also reviewed my current meal plan and though I was pretty smug about that, she had some eye-opening suggestions if I want to reach my goal weight:

    • Stop eating peanut butter and peanuts – switch out to almond and cashew for both butter and nuts
    • Add in tuna a couple of times a day – lunch and snacks
    • Reduce the amount of beef that I was eating from 4 ounces to 2 ounces; same amount for turkey but fish I can have 3-4 ounces at a time.
    • Increase my veggies (not a surprise, I don’t eat that much volume!)
    • Cut out all processed foods – no rice, no bread, even super healthy versions (I was only having bread about once or twice a week anyway)
    • Change from Omega 3’s to 3-6-9 and add two new supplements: chromium picolinate – 200 mg twice a day to stabilize my blood sugar and CLA – conjugated linoleic acid which comes from safflower seeds to increase my fat burning and get the hard, brown fat that’s been stuck on my body for the last 30+ years

    So that’s my new plan. Whew! I had a lot to say today. That’s what happens when I don’t get a chance to blog for two days, but it’s 7:12 and I need to get to the gym by 7:30 if I want to get my new workout done, plus the cardio. Have a great Monday!

    12 Stages of WLS

    I was watching the most recent episode of Bariatric TV and one of the people interviewed was Katie Jay, who has done some research (fairly minimal – only 15 people) but came up with these 12 stages of weight loss surgery.

    I did the same thing on myself a few months ago, so I thought it would be fun to compare:

    My list:

    • Denial
    • Avoidance
    • Guilt
    • Depression
    • Curiosity
    • Acceptance
    • Procrastination
    • Shock
    • Bargaining
    • Hope
    • Success

    Katie’s List:

    • Decision Point
    • Shock and Awe
    • Grief and Loss
    • The Miracle
    • Testing Limits
    • End of Invincible
    • Give Up or Change
    • Learning
    • Experimenting
    • Self Trust
    • Mastery
    • Freedom

    Looks like her list starts a bit later in the process than mine and keeps going past where I am now. She is supposed to have some resources for when you find yourself in each stage and have problems, so I’m going to check those out. I think I’d like to see more than 15 people in the study, though, wouldn’t you?

    Well, gotta get to my Weight Watchers’ meeting! Have a great day and be gentle with yourself and others – we all deserve it.