The Demons That Haunt Me

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Obesity is such an ugly word.  I’ve hated being fat my entire life – which is about how long I’ve been fat.  And the weight causes me to hide myself from so many things.  I’m uncomfortable in my own skin most of the time – even when I leave the house feeling like I don’t look too bad.  But maybe I need to be that uncomfortable.

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Me just prior to my gastric bypass (on the right, weighing just over 300 pounds) and about a year ago, weighing about 20 pounds less than I do right now.

The two times in my life I can honestly say I wasn’t overweight were the result of drastic measures.  In high school, I stopped eating.  No, seriously – just stopped.  I drank iced tea all day long, and then for dinner, had small portions of whatever my mother was cooking.  Nothing to eat, all day long, took me from a size XL teenager to a size medium teenager.

The other time, I had gastric bypass surgery.  The surgery took me from a size 3XL woman to a size medium/large.  From a size 26 to a size 10.  And aside from the grey pallor, I thought I looked damn good.  I didn’t – and I had friends and family telling me I didn’t – but I was convinced.

Then I had a couple of surgeries, followed by complications, and with each instruction to rest and recuperate, I ate.  I learned that my surgically altered pouch could hold way more than I thought it could – especially if I ate stuff that was bad for me.

Thank you, Tania Lamb, for the photographic evidence of how far I've let myself go!

Thank you, Tania Lamb, for the photographic evidence of how far I’ve let myself go!

I’ve started and restarted diets more times than I care to count since my surgery.  It really is like an albatross around my neck – and every time I feel like I can lift my head up and move forward, it drags me back down.  We’ve started cooking all of our meals at home, so there are no fast food temptations, but I find myself grabbing a bag of chips or package of cookies every time I hit the supermarket.

And guess what?  I’m about to turn 50 years old.

This last surgery, combined with the realization that I am now only 6 years younger than my grandfather was when he died, and only 16 years younger than my dad was when he died, has issued yet another wake up call.  I don’t know how many of those calls I’ll need before I finally “get it”, but my kids leave for camp on Monday, and Jim and I are going to head back into the gym.  We have no running around or excuses to prevent us from getting there.  And the cookies and chips that I buy because I think my kids need them?  No need to have them in the house for two full weeks.  Maybe by then, I’ll have cured my own need for them.

My most recent blood work came back excellent – and my sugar level (I was full blown diabetic before my gastric bypass surgery) was 85 – which is great.  But the rest of me is a hot mess.  I’m going to see what I can do about that.  Maybe I’ll celebrate turning 50 with a little less of me.

 

Something Had to Be Done – Starting from Scratch

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Seriously?  Isn’t this where it all began??

I have battled weight my entire life.  I was a chubby baby – some babies look like the Gerber baby.  In pictures I’ve seen, I look like the Michelin tire man.  I was fat through elementary school.  By 8th grade, I was tired of kids making fun of me (Oh yes, dear children, we had bullies back in the day before bullying was big business), and crash dieted myself thinner.  I ate nothing.  No, that’s not a typo.  I skipped breakfast and lunch every day, in favor of sweetened iced tea.  For dinner, I ate as little as possible, and some more iced tea.  Some nights, I ate saltine crackers in place of dinner.  I got thin.  But, of course, that whole eating thing crept back into vogue, and I got heavy again.

My first “get real” diet was with Jim.  Planning to get married, I hoped to be a size 12 instead of a size 18, and he and I both joined NutriSystem.  We lost weight, we felt healthy, and while I was a size 12 in real people clothes, I still had a size 18 wedding gown 🙁  It was discouraging, but we were both in peak shape.

Well, until I got pregnant.

I battled again – after Brighid; after Eilis; and even after Granuaile.  I never got back to the size 12 I wanted to be, but instead got up to a size 26.  Well, I think 26, because I bought only stretchy things – mostly size 3X.  I was bigger than Jim.  With so many people promoting weight loss surgery, I jumped right on the bandwagon.

I have touted weight loss surgery as a great thing for me.  It was.  I’ve had complications, to be sure, but I am so grateful to have lost 150 pounds.  I do not think I will ever see a size 26 again, but I have fallen off the wagon.  I have gone from a low of a size 10 back up to a size 14/16, and it’s scary.

We have gotten into bad habits.  With school work, night classes, and overall busy, pizza seems like a good idea at least a couple of nights a week.  And come on, who eats one slice of pizza?  Even gastrically altered, I can eat at least two.  And if it doesn’t get put away right away, I can go back for a third later on.

I have to get back to the gym, when life settles down in two weeks.  And I am going to.  But my diet needs to improve.  Portion control needs to be a priority again.  Eating to live, not living to eat needs to be the focus.

So here we are, back at the beginning.  I am trying 30 days of NutriSystem to see if it can help get me back to where I belong.

Pray with me.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

 

This is me today; me at my lowest; and two pictures of me at my highest.

Bryce Dallas Howard, You Are My Hero

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I cannot tell you how many times I have nearly tossed my cookies (literally, threw my Oreos at a TV screen) when I see a rail thin celebrity doing an interview about getting her body back after having a baby.  As a mom who is still struggling to lose the baby weight from my first baby (although she’s only 249 months old, so cut me some slack), it makes me feel so inadequate that in a matter of weeks after the birth of a baby, I’m not in a size 0 pair of jeans.

Thank you, Bryce Dallas Howard.

I know there are celebrity followers who are going to say something nasty about this girl, but I want to just hug her.  She has spent the four months since welcoming her beautiful baby girl being a mom.  There’s no trainer turning up on her doorstep at the crack of dawn to help her work out while her private chef is whipping up low fat, low calorie protein shakes, gourmet soups and salads, and other starve yourself thin foods to help her get back to her svelte self.  And I totally love her for that.

I don’t personally know Bryce Dallas Howard (although, Bryce, hit me up, honey, anytime), and she may very well be struggling on levels I completely understand, I so admire her for coming out and about in her brand new mommy body.  This is what most moms look like four months after giving birth.  We’re tired from being up all night feeding new babies, and we probably order more take away food than would normally be healthy, but our focus is on our babies, not our bodies.

Bryce, you are so gorgeous – at this size, and every other size.  I can’t tell you how much better you make me feel about wanting to spend those first precious months with my baby and not my fitness trainer.

And if the time comes that you want to lose weight FOR YOU, cash in.  If Jessica Simpson can get $2 million from Weight Watchers, see what Jenny will do to top that.

Gastric Bypass Surgery – What Happens When You’re Gastrically Altered?

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Yep, that’s me.  It’s July 2006, just one week before my  Roux-en-y gastric bypass surgery.  Yeah, I tipped the scales at over 300 pounds.  I was a big fat ass.  Can you believe I thought I looked good in this photo?  Can you imagine what photos of me that I didn’t like looked like?

But making the decision to alter your body so drastically is only the beginning of the decisions you’re going to have to make.  Let’s hope you’ve done your research, you’ve checked out the doctor and the hospital you are going to work with, and you feel confident – if a little nervous – about your decision to have your surgery.  But what comes next?

I’ll be posting a series of blogs to help you get through some of the post op stuff – the stuff you may not have had a chance to talk about with your surgeon.  We’ll talk protein (blech!), we’ll talk losing your drawers when you sneeze because they’re too big, we’ll talk about adding exercise and how important it is, and we’ll talk about plastic surgery – because, honestly, it’s where a lot of us end up.

So stay tuned.  Once a week, we’ll tour that unknown world of what to do once you’re gastrically altered!

 

Muscle Milk – Lunch of

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Fat asses  Champions!  Yeah, that’s what I meant to say.

So the “I’m getting serious about losing weight” thing a few months ago?  That took a back seat to “Holy Jesus, did I sign up for SEVEN classes this semester?  We’re ordering Chinese. Or Pizza. Or Burgers.”

And here I am, after an initial super job at losing the weight, finding it back again 🙁

Oh, and did I mention, I have a life insurance physical in two weeks?  And when I actually applied, I put the weight that I WANT to be on the application?  You know – it was like going to the DMV, when you put the weight that you were when you got married – but there, the guy taking your picture just snickers and snaps the photo of your triple chins, hoping the cops that pull you over don’t think you are driving with fake ID.  With an insurance physical, the nurse is coming armed with a scale.  And I don’t think I can get naked in front of her, claim it’s water weight, tell her I ate ball bearings for breakfast (maybe if it wasn’t a fasting physical?), and wish for the best.

So, I’m on a SERIOUS serious diet this time.  Breakfast, Muscle Milk protein shake, and something protein-y for dinner.  Yum.

Protein shakes are not my friends.  Post gastric bypass, I was supposed to be living on them, but they’re yucky.  No one wants to live on yucky.  I found one I could tolerate, but only if I doctored it up with instant flavored coffee and fruit and junk.

I bought Muscle Milk Light this afternoon, to use as my midday meal.  I opted for the Vanilla Creme flavor, thinking that if I needed to add stuff to it to make it palatable, more stuff goes with vanilla.

The first thing you notice when you open the container is that it is VERY vanilla.  It’s sweet and pleasant smelling, as opposed to some, which are very chemically smelling.  I mixed two scoops with a little less water than you’re supposed to, but I always do that, so I don’t have to drink as much 🙁  Without tasting it “plain”, I added a spoonful of peanut butter – old habits die hard 😉  Then I filled the cup with ice and made my shake.

The drink, even with the peanut butter is REALLY sweet.  It’s not necessarily a bad sweet, but it’s definitely sweet.  The vanilla is stronger than the peanut butter, so I don’t really taste the one tablespoon full of peanut butter that I added – but adding two will add too many calories.  The two scoops of Muscle Milk are 210 calories, with a generous 25 grams of protein.  With only two grams of sugars, it’s a great option for the gastrically altered who dump on too many sugars – total carbs are only 13.

I think the next time I make it, I might throw in a bit of orange juice instead of the peanut butter, making it more of a creamsicle type of drink.  It will help cut the vanilla sweetness a little, and make it more of a summery drink than the disappearing peanut butter did.

Just in case, I bought the smaller container, but I’d definitely buy this again.  I think I could drink it straight if that was necessary, but I think it will adapt well to other added flavors.

 

So How’s That Weight Loss Thing Going?

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Yeah, well, ppffffttttt.  That’s how it’s going.

After a great first week, the second week, things slowed down to nothing.  And then there’s this week.  Monday was Valentine’s Day, and Jim took me out to lunch, and the kids out to dinner – except, yeah, I went too.  And when you take kids out to eat, you take them to restaurants where you know kids will eat – not those fancy gourmet restaurants that give you just enough food to make you want to stop at Burger King on the way home.  My kids chose the Chinese buffet.

Fortunately for me, Chinese food generally makes me deathly ill, but I can eat my weight in the little sugar coated nuts they have at the buffet.  And as we know, my weight is substantial.  That’s a lot of nuts.

Then came Tuesday, a day where I did nothing but run errands all day.  And it was Eilis’ birthday!  So after we picked up three dozen heart shaped doughnuts for her to celebrate at school, we followed that up with taking Eilis out to dinner Tuesday night.  Yeah, Granuaile and I went too.  And Eilis picked the restaurant.  Famous Dave’s BBQ.

And with all that fat already on my arse from the first two days of the week, I do what every chunky chick does – I threw in the towel on the rest of the week.  I was stressed over school, over some issues with a friend, over my mom (who is back in the hospital as of this evening), and it just seemed like that last box of chocolate covered peanut butter cookies was screaming to me from the hiding place they were in.

So, I am up 2 pounds this week.

But I haven’t fallen completely on my face.

I am back on the bandwagon tomorrow.  Rally the troops, call in reinforcements!  I’ve got to just keep swimming…..

To My New Good Friend and Gentle Reader, Carrie!

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My new friend Carrie took the time to post a comment on one of my Blog Posts (find the original post http://beautygirlsmom.com/2010/06/14/i-took-the-easy-way-out-gastric-bypass-surgery-bitching/ ).  I’m taking the time to answer her!

Dear Carrie:

Unless you’ve had the opportunity to know me and my reasons for having Gastric Bypass Surgery, I wish to politely invite you to shut the hell up (whew, I avoided the “f” word this time – quite a feat considering I have absolutely NO self control, as evidenced by my need for gastric bypass surgery).  I don’t believe I was bitching about my surgery at all – I was bitching about the ignorant woman at the airport who sat in a seat eating doughnuts and drinking soda, all the while talking about her phenomenal weight loss through diet and exercise.  Because I recognize that gastric bypass surgery was my choice, I don’t bitch about the procedure.  I may have complained now and again about the things I experience as a result of this choice, but I never bitch about the choice itself.

And Dear Carrie, if you bothered to get to know me, you’ll know that I have had gym memberships.  I’ve been at least partially responsible for our local gym owner having the ability to send his daughter to private preparatory schools.  While that may make me a martyr of some kind, I don’t proclaim to be a martyr, neither for being such a generous contributor to a child’s education, nor for my gastric bypass surgery.

I’ve had the common sense to put my fork down; and I’ve had the common sense not to put my fork through ignorant people who think that we all have the ability to make a few lifestyle changes and be on the road to skinny.  Jaysus, I’m showing an awful lot of self control for someone who couldn’t stop eating!

You suggest a lifestyle change for people who have weight loss difficulty.  I made one.  It certainly wasn’t a lazy route.  Jenny and I are on a first name basis.  The Fresh Diet failed me until I was fresh out of money to pay for the pricey service.  Weight Watchers watched my ass get bigger every time I went to the meetings, after a week of eating their recommended amount of food.  So you see, Dear Carrie, I’ve exhausted every carefully constructed weight loss method before making the lifestyle change that led to my surgery.  Please note the use of the word “exhausted” – because that’s not something lazy people get very often.

We don’t all have the ability to follow the food pyramid, the USDA recommended dietary intake, and expect to be average sized people.  If you had bothered to get to know me before accusing me of being lazy, you’d know that I suffer from PCOS, a disorder of the endocrine system, making it difficult for me to lose weight.  Not that I’m using that as a crutch to stuff my face full of Twinkies, but it is a fact of my biology that weight loss is not as easy as giving up cookies and cake.  And I would guess that there are other people out there who have turned to Gastric Bypass Surgery who have similar metabolic disorders or thyroid conditions that make losing weight The Dear Carrie Way less than ideal.

And let’s give credit where credit is due.  Lots of us got fat because we ate too damn much.  But whether it’s stress; depression; a coping mechanism – for some of us, food means comfort.  It’s an addiction, like alcohol, tobacco, cocaine.  There is a euphoric high after you eat a slice of cheesecake, and a terrible guilt as a fat person when you do.  To regain the feeling, you eat another; and another; and another, until, ultimately, you’ve eaten the whole damn cake, you feel badly about yourself, and you fear judgement from people like Dear Carrie.  That sets up the whole cycle all over again – you eat to feel good, you feel badly when you do, so you eat more to feel good.

So tell me, Dear Carrie, if my therapist and yours went head to head in a psychological Top Chef of sorts, which one of us ends up with the more normal patient?  Mine at least knows my issues.  Does yours know how angry you are at fat people?  You might want to bring it up at your next session.

End of Week One In The Land of the Losing!

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Yeah, I did it.  I survived the week on a diet.  No husbands were maimed, no children were injured, no small animals were harmed.

And I lost five pounds.

I know – that sounds like I should be jumping up and down, praising the diet divas (Richard Simmons and Susan Powter); bowing down to the gut busting gurus (the trainers on the Biggest Loser – and Harvey from Celebrity Fit Club); lavishing love on the lard losing dieters who have gone before me, blazing the trail with fad diets and starvation plans.

But I can’t.

If I get excited that I’ve lost five pounds, I might start looking to reward myself.

And you know how fat chicks reward themselves?  It’s how we got fat in the first place.  Food.

This is one of the hurdles in the diet challenge for me – learning to be proud of my weight loss and reward myself without using food.

In the past, if I lost five pounds in one week, I’d start thinking “Hmmmm, if I ate X number of calories this week and lost five pound, then next week, I can eat 200 calories more each day and STILL lose weight!”  It’s a vicious cycle for me; another way I sabotage myself.

The good thing this time around is I am recognizing the things I’ve glazed over in the past (oooh – she said “glaze” – how far is the Krispy Kreme from here?).  I don’t have to be three quarters of the way through a Quarter Pounder before I realize I could have just patted myself on the back, given myself an extra hour of “me” time, and skipped the fat laden calorie consumption.

I’m down five pounds.  My goal is 30 pounds.  With less than 17% of my goal reached, now is not the time to rest on my pleasantly plump laurels.

Closing In On The End of the Dieting Week – Sinking My Own Ship

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I am my biggest obstacle.  I do a lot of things wrong when I diet, and they are all starting to rear their ugly heads.

The first thing I do wrong – I crave.  Now, I know that’s not something I can get around.  We all have cravings.  This week, I’ve craved everything from fried pickles (thank, Lisa!) to coffee ice cream.  I don’t even like coffee ice cream.  Last night, while watching the Food Network, I saw back to back commercials for Olive Garden’s new ravioli dish and the TV show Cupcake Wars, and began to seriously wonder how amazing cupcakes would taste wrapped inside a ravioli, drizzled with chocolate?  I know, right?  A totally new food group!

The thing that’s wrong with my cravings is I give into them in all the wrong ways.  I had coffee ice cream last night – only a couple of bites, stayed within my daily calories, don’t panic.  But because I don’t LIKE coffee ice cream, even though it cured the coffee ice cream craving, it left me feeling empty – and I wanted to eat something else.  Which I did.  Which put me over by about 100 calories for the day yesterday.  Not a major misstep, I know, but it definitely stinks.

The solution?  Obvious, isn’t it?

Duct tape – it fixes everything!