Maintenance – Day Two

So all day yesterday there was this nagging feeling that I was gaining weight and fat and blah blah blah. I was convinced it was all in my head until I took off my clothes last night and realized I’d grabbed a pair of size 10 pants yesterday instead of the size 12. No wonder I felt like a sausage all day!

The good news is that I can wear size 10 pants. The bad news, is I thought, the whole day, that I was already screwing up maintenance. I need to relax more and trust in the process and the progress that I’ve made. I’ve learned so much. I’ve changed my whole life. There is nothing about my life that is conducive to gaining back 147 pounds. There are no sweet and salty treats in my pantry and no stacked cases of Coca-Cola.  My freezer is bereft of half  gallon cartons of my favorite icecream, logs of cookie dough and frozen pizzas.

If I want something off plan, I have to go out of my house. What’s in my house and at my desk is all on plan. I have vegetables and lean protein and high fiber, good carbs. I have oatmeal prepped and ready for breakfast or eggs and frozen sprouted grain bread for toast if I feel like a change. I have fat free yogurt and milk and frozen fruit and protein powder to whip up a healthy smoothie if I want something sweet and creamy.

I know how to measure and weigh my food – both with tools and by eye. I am more self-aware about my eating than I have ever been in my entire life – including when I was on strict diets, where supposedly I was paying attention.

I have memberships at two gyms so I can swim or weight lift or kickbox depending on my mood. My bicycle is always leaning against the wall in the garage, ready to hit the streets. My sneakers (all three pair!) are easy to find and I now, officially, have more workout clothes and athletic socks than I do regular clothes.

A nurse from my insurance company came out this morning to give me a physical for my new life insurance policy. The expectation (to be confirmed by the underwriters) is that I would be able to get twice as much insurance, for another 30 years, with twice as much coverage, for the same price I was able to get 8 years ago. As much as I decry those insurance tables, I’m pretty psyched about the idea that I might finally fall into the “select” or even “standard” category for the first time in my adult life. And there was the added benefit of being able to share my story with the nurse this morning. She categorically did not believe I had been that heavy – she said she couldn’t imagine it. So I whipped out my handy 8×10 before and during photo collection (I put it together for the Weight Watcher’s Success Forum two weeks ago) and showed her.  I got the jaw drop – love that!

That’s the best feeling EVER. Better and more comforting that my weight in chocolate or french fries. I love that so many of my friends have been making changes and improving their health, too. If I’ve had a hand in inspiring that, then that makes me feel fabulous.

Day Three is just going to keep getting better.

Hello, My Name is Karen. It’s been 3 days since I shopped

On Friday, I went out to the board and posted about my compulsive shopping. I didn’t really wait for any replies, just kind of posted and bolted and haven’t had the courage to go online and look at the responses. I should have known better. Those guys are the best.
The answers I got were supportive and loving and not the harsh, what the heck are you doing things I was thinking to myself. So here’s what I’ve done:
I added up the damage. (Still working on just exactly what I bought)
I figured out how long it will be before I can pay it all off again. (A couple of years)
And finally, I confessed to my husband.

Boy was that hard. The first thing he said was, well, if I have to go back to work, I have to go back to work.
That still makes me cry.

I know how much it means to him to be homeschooling our son. To help him overcome the dyslexia and get his confidence back.
Plus he had the most stressful job – and a mean, nasty boss that made him nuts.

So for the last few days, every time I’ve felt the shopping urge, (and it was a lot more often than I thought it would be) I’ve imagined my husband going back to that and my son going back to school and feeling stupid (his words).
Other great suggestions were to take some of the clothes to a consignment shop and to have a yard sale – all great ideas.

I’m also going to keep any eye out for any other cross addictions, because I noticed that several times yesterday I considered having a drink, a beer or a glass of wine. And I am always scared of that, as alcoholism runs rampant in my family.

Heck – I even had thoughts of gambling yesterday – trying to win it all back. And I can do math – I KNOW that’s a sucker’s dream.

So, no compulsive anything: eating, shopping, drinking, gambling or exercise. (I felt bad after I realized what I was saying, wishing I had an exercise addiction. I know that’s a problem and I was making loose with the jokes – not cool.)

So, one day at a time.
Hello, my name is Karen and I haven’t shopped for 3 days.

Will the Real Karen Renee Couch Brier Please Stand Up?

A friend from the WLS board commented on my post about this not being the new me, but the REAL me. That made me think. Who is the real me? The real me is someone I live with almost every day now, but I only got glimpses of her in the past. She’s smart and strong. She’s fierce and brave and adventurous. She’s witty and entertaining and not always tactful or politically correct. She’s messy and creative but loves making order out of chaos. She’s easily hurt but a good actress that can hide it. She loves to sing but is tone deaf. She wants to be a writer when she grows up, but keeps showing up at her day job so she can support her husband and son in their homeschool adventure (who in turn support her in her goals to get healthy).

So when have I glimpsed the real Karen?

  • When I was a little girl called KayKay who lived at the dead end of a dirt road but read every book she could find (thank you Nanny and Aunt Tena for the books)
  • Like when I joined 4H in the 4th grade so I could do presentations and get over being shy. (I think that worked, don’t you?)
  • When I decided in the 6th grade to be a writer and started writing.  (Mrs. Agnew – where are you?? See? I’m writing!)
  • When I learned in the 7th grade that it was easier to win a fight with my brain and my smart mouth than my fists
  • When I got my counselor to get me waivers so I could apply to every Ivy League school  (and got into Yale…)
  • When I played Albert’s Mother in Bye Bye Birdie and wore combat boots with a sable coat and sang from a trash can in my senior play. (Hi David and Lana!)
  • When I worked to support myself through college with sometimes 2 or 3 jobs at a time.
  • When I got a job at the Yale Film Studies department so I could see every movie ever made
  • When I took on some bullies in the TV room one night over Remington Steele vs the football game and won (and most important, met my best friend)
  • When I talked the head of British Studies into letting me into the program so I could study abroad.
  • When I went to London with only $400 and managed to live on it for 4 months until my scholarship check finally arrived after the Yale strike  (thank you Ellen, I will never forget you!)
  • When I bought a beaded black gown in a thrift store and threw a huge party just to wear it (I miss you, Sam)
  • When I stood up to a bully head cook in a restaurant where I was waiting tables to pay for my first car and took off my uniform and threw it at him and then told him off  (so loud everyone in the restaurant heard!)
  • When I impulsively decided to move back to Georgia rather than hanging around waiting for a guy to notice me (Danny, did you ever know?) and was packed and moved two weeks later (Thank you Meredith! I miss you Lisa and Cathy)
  • All the times I sold everything I had to travel (and then slept on sofas when I got back (Thanks, Andy!)
  • When I worked at Coke and got to travel around the world (Miss you Ross, Teresa, Rose, Karen, Julie, Sandra, Rick – best team ever)
  • When I went to Spark and discovered I was a “whole brain” and understood why I could always see both sides of an argument (to the point where it annoys even me)
  • When I was on the board of directors of ARCA and helped run the Uncork a Cure fundraiser (Hello, Andrew! Chris and Matt!)
  • When I volunteered for a 3 month assignment in Africa and had to leave for the airport the same day.
  • When I found out I had a four day wait in Nairobi and was on a plane for the Masa Mara an hour later.
  • When I met Fred and was friends before anything else. (And we’re still friends almost 16 years later)
  • When I quit my job at Coke after a completely unfair and politically motivated review
  • When I had a new job 45 minutes later, closer to home, business casual and a 30% increase in pay (thank you, Fred – the best revenge is living well!)
  • When I used my huge profit from my Coke stock to take a year off
  • When I hiked the Appalachian Trail
  • When I kept going when my partner quit after the 1st week (Hi Ron and Sheri!)
  • When I planned our beautiful wedding at Nantahalla Outdoor Center alongside the AT (and 12 years later, people STILL talk about it!)
  • When I said no the first time Fred proposed (I really needed to make sure HE was sure)
  • When I went to Montreal to help with the twins after my miscarriage
  • When I had my hysterectomy and started to get control of my health for the first time in decades
  • When I went to Sante Fe on a spa trip with Meredith (we need to go again SOON)
  • When I traveled to London, Dubai and Singapore for IHG and did great work and had a blast
  • When I joined Weight Watchers
  • When I found a weight loss therapist
  • When I had weight loss surgery
  • When I signed up for kickboxing
  • When I joined the first Biggest Losers Challenge
  • When I started my blog and started writing EVERY DAY (what took me so long?)
  • When I went to my 25th reunion wearing clothes from the Goodwill (and looked GREAT!)
  • When I was the first one on the dance floor with my son at Reunions
  • When I signed up for scuba lessons
  • When I signed up for belly dancing

Well, now they are getting to be pretty much every day or at least every week, so I guess I need to stop listing them. Thanks, Teresa for the inspiration. Thanks to anyone who is reading. Thanks to Dr. Finley for my surgery. Thanks to Fred and Jacob for always being there for me. Thanks to my friends and family who have been so supportive.

It’s been an amazing year, but it’s only one year out of 47 amazing years. I can’t wait for the next 53!

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 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

Stolen with pride from

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.”

I dropped another size – why am I sad?

I have been putting off my monthly closet purge. I keep saying I don’t have time, gotta work out, gotta do this or that. My clothes have been getting loser and loser and yesterday I kept tripping over my baggy, too long pants. So last night I hauled stuff out of the closet and started trying on. All the size 14 pants, except the smallest ones – too big – into the Goodwill pile!

Then I started pulling out the size 12’s thinking – there’s no way. But – half of them fit. I’m a size twelve. 12. One Two. TWELVE.

I was never supposed to be a size 12. My goal was size 14, which I hit in March and have been hanging on to by my fingernails.

Why am I so resistant to being a size 12? I was standing there last night, looking in the mirror and even standing side-ways, which I hate to do, cause that’s not usually a pretty site. Well, guess what? I have four good sides now. My stomach (in clothes, at least) looks NORMAL. Not flat, not Heidi Klum, but NORMAL.

I can’t stop tearing up. I feel sad and scared and not sure what’s happening. I’m not at my goal weight – I want to lose another 30 or so pounds. And that’s gonna put me down to a 10, isn’t it? Maybe – gulp! even an 8. That’s just too freaky. I can’t get my head around it.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be bigger, but I honestly think I’ve been slacking off on the exercise and eating because I was afraid to be smaller than goal. With the triathlon over, I started the couch to 5k yesterday and just finished an hour-long kickboxing class. I’m tightening up on what I eat. Oh boy. It looks like I’m working on being a size 10.

Anyone else zip past their goal size and know what I”m talking about?

Goals are not just a list on a piece of paper

My Goals for 2010Yesterday was an amazing day. Got back the test results from my physical and everything was normal. All day I kept smiling and telling people (many who, frankly, couldn’t understand why I was sharing!). I wasted several minutes on Google searching for blood glucose charts so I could find my results and see the words “normal for non-diabetics” a few dozen times.

This morning I’m still floating on a cloud, grinning like a loon and humming my theme songs (Defying Gravity from Wicked, The Climb by Miley Cirus, Lose Yourself from Eminem, How do you like me now by Toby Keith and Feeling Good by Nina Simone).

It finally feels real. All this time, all the progress I’ve made, it wasn’t real to me. Not deep down. Deep down I was afraid that it was too late, that my blood sugar would never be normal again. And it would be all my fault. All those years of not exercising. Thousands of fast food meals. Gallons of ice cream. Buckets of soda. A mountain of french fries.

In a couple of hours I’m going to go and check in for my first triathlon. I don’t know if I’ll do another one yet, but I am going to enjoy every second of this one. I leave you to enjoy your Saturday with the words from my theme song:

Play sample: Miley Cyrus from The Climb:

The Climb lyrics
Songwriters: Alexander, J; Mabe, J;

I can almost see it
That dream I am dreaming
But there’s a voice inside my head saying
“You’ll never reach it”

Every step I’m taking
Every move I make feels
Lost with no direction
My faith is shaking

But I gotta keep trying
Gotta keep my head held high

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose

Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb

The struggles I’m facing
The chances I’m taking
Sometimes might knock me down
But no, I’m not breaking

I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I’m gonna remember most
Just gotta keep going

And I, I got to be strong
Just keep pushing on

‘Cause there’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose

Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb, yeah!

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Somebody’s gonna have to lose

Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb, yeah!

Keep on moving, keep climbing
Keep the faith, baby
It’s all about, it’s all about the climb
Keep the faith, keep your faith