Monday, August 30, 2010

Lose to Win

If you've never heard of this movement, Google it and check it out.  It's called "The Ripples Project", and I get their weekly e-mails.  The whole point of it is to "explore the extraordinary power of tiny actions."

Ain't that the truth when it comes to weight loss!

You may (not) be surprised that I am a bit of a drama queen.  (SHOCK!  HORROR!).  I've never been good with planning, or consistency, routines, or baby steps.  Baby steps are for suckers; I wanna leap from one place to another, dammit.

Weight loss doesn't work that way.  Sure, the drama of losing 30+ pounds between the time I had my surgery and the time I went home 8 days later really fed my drama appetite, but it's been a month and my weight hasn't changed--except for up and down 2.5 lbs.  So I'm having to rely on the little things, instead of the big losses.  Like not eating until I get sick.  Like choosing a protein over a carb.  Like being able to do 15 minutes on the elliptical when I could only do 10 minutes last week.  And what I'm really hoping for is that all of these little things will eventually add up.  That I'll feel the "extraordinary power of my tiny actions."

I thought of this today because in their weekly e-mail they always include some cool quotes, usually submitted by other readers.  This week, it really struck home:

"When I let go of what I am,
I become what I might be."
--Lao Tzu

(Disclaimer:  It does seem like I'm all cool and zen-ish with this quote, doesn't it?  Zen doesn't exactly describe me.  Case in point, one of my all-time favorite quotes is this one:  "Whenever I'm driving through the desert, and I see a roadrunner, I run it over and say, 'That's for the coyote!' I don't really like the coyote, but it's a good excuse to run over things."—Craig Stacey.  Yeah.  Zen, I ain't.)

So anyhoo, right now I'm taking baby steps (grumble, grumble) and trying to let go of the fat person I've been to be the healthy person I might be.  That's this week's homework assignment.

Does anyone have a quote that they live by, are trying to live by, or that they just really like?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Attitude of gratitude

This morning, I had my last pre-paid Pilates class, and I really do like it.  I'm trying to figure out a way to pay for more sessions, as I think it really helps get me in touch with my body as it's changing post-bariatric surgery. 

On the way home, I was overwhelmed by a sense of how grateful I am for so much in my life.  It's easy to get caught up in the number on the scale (which hasn't changed more than a pound or two in the last month and a half!), or a still-bulging belly, or how hard it is to eat differently.  I feel compelled to wear my "before" picture on my shirt so that people can see, saying, "Yeah, I'm still fat, but look how far I've come!"  I even find myself comparing how much I've lost to other people who have gone through gastric bypass--have I lost more than them, or more quickly, or am I on track?  I wonder if I could have started exercising earlier how much more I would have lost by now.  I worry that because I ate some croutons yesterday that I'm blowing my chance to lose more weight and get to my goal.

I've been doing a lot of beating myself up lately for all of this, and this morning I just took a breath and realized I need to concentrate more on the positives (I think the Pilates reminded me of this).  For me that starts with being grateful.  So it was time to check in with my center of gratitude and fill it up.

I am so grateful:
*That my parents support me, both in paying for the surgery and for the moral and physical support following it.  Yeah for Mom and Dad!  You guys rock!
*For my job.  I have wonderful people I work with, and they are very understanding.  How many bosses have you had that tell you to take time off?  And I also know that with this economy, I'm lucky to be employed.
*For Sophie the cat, aka. The Beast.  She keeps me company and reminds me to be less self-centered.
*For my friend Goldilocks, who reminds me to go to the gym, who keeps me company there, and who even slows herself to be patient with me and my physical limitations.
*For my body.  As much as I resent it, and tell it how ugly it is, it still gets me around.  It's easy to forget how wonderful your body is when you focus on how it looks and not how it feels.  And I need to continually remind myself how I couldn't walk without pain, or go to restaurants with booths, or go swimming.

I'm sure there's more, but I'm meeting with a friend to eat some low-cal Japanese food for lunch and then walk the mall, so I gots to go. 

What are you grateful for?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

It's been a hard days' week...

...and I've been working like a dog.  This week, I've just gotten tugged in every possible direction.  I've been bullied by management, threatened (with lawsuits) by employees, and led around the office by our CEO like--well, like a dog.  I knew it would be a rough week because I'm in a symposium on Thursday and Friday, so there ends up being extra stress to get everything done by Wednesday.

It got to the point yesterday that people were asking me "What's wrong?"  Which only happens when I'm extremely ill and don't have the strength to keep up the "HR Professional Mask," or when I forget to put on mascara (seriously, I look like I'm suffering from H1N1 when I don't have eyelashes).  My boss even came into my office and told me to take a day off...soon.  So yeah, the cracks in my armor must have been pretty visible.

And you know what I realized?  I haven't done anything active since Sunday.  No walks around the block, no stretching exercises, no yoga or pilates, no swimming, no weights, no nothing.  You could have knocked me over with a feather, I was so shocked when I realized this.  The woman who refused to sweat (unless you count sweating while trying to open a stuck  jar of pasta sauce), NEEDS to work out in order to feel right.  Who knew?

Well, I guess I sorta knew.  I mean I knew about all the studies on how exercise boosts your mood and that the effects can last over a day.  I know that I'm mildly ADD and need variety.  I know that anxiety can be burned off, along with some calories, by a brisk 10-minute walk.  And yet, before I lost the weight I couldn't take advantage of this.

You see, there is an idea out there that fat people are lazy, and if they just got off the couch they could turn into Ironman.  I don't believe being lazy makes you fat--I've met far too many skinny people who won't lift a finger if they don't have to.  I DO believe that being fat can make you lazy.  I am a hard worker, I'm dedicated and stubborn as all heck, yet I got truly lazy because moving around just didn't feel good.  I was in near-constant pain when I walked--to the point of wanting to just give up and lie down.  I hated feeling my thighs rub together, and my jiggly spots jiggle.  So I avoided it like the plague, and I'm sure people around me assumed that I was lazy.

Now I'm finding that I can actually move, and that it's fun.  And that when I don't make time to work out, I really miss it both physically and emotionally.  Don't get me wrong--running around the block isn't going to make my CEO less of a bully, or keep the employee I secretly refer to as "The Emotional Titanic" from cornering me in my office to tell me of her most recent crisises (or crises?).  It just helps me burn off the stress, anxiety, and tension that result of these things so that I can start the next day fresh.  Then, I can see my CEO as a powerful, decisive woman (which she is), and I can see the Titanic employee as a very troubled lady who just needed a sympathetic ear (which she also is).

So after my symposium ended this afternoon, I made a stop at the gym.  I saw a friend there, and watched a bit of the Turbo Kick Boxing she's been telling me about (I'm a little scared to try it just yet).  Then I did a warm-up on a recumbent bike (7 minutes) and 12 minutes on the elliptical (a new record for me!) doing intervals.  Then I did weights for my shoulders, my back, my pecs, my biceps, and my triceps.  I know it probably sounds wimpy to those of you who work out a lot, but remember that I've had 2 major surgeries in the last 7 months and I'm still 225 lbs, which is just barely out of the morbidly obese column for my BMI.  (Woo hoo!  I've lost about 130 lbs and now I'm just the regular kind of obese!).  So I've got a long way to go before Ironman.  But this evening I feel better--less stressed, and less driving to eat unconsciously.  So this is definitely a new, positive discovery for me.

Basically, the moral of the story is that if you work like a dog, you should run and play like one too.  Or you just might end up "barking" mad.  (sorry about the pun...feel free to punish me in the comment section).

Monday, August 23, 2010

High anxiety--a tribute to Mel Brooks

OK, maybe not a tribute to Mel, but I keep thinking of him singing that  song, "High annnnnnnzzzzzziety!!!"

I've been worried about everything lately.  How much money I (don't) have, how stable is my job, what if I get laid off, how do I go about rebuilding my savings, what will I do when the Beast dies (she's about 87 in people years), what if I never reach my goal weight, what if I do and then regain it all...

I tell you, sometimes my brain is an exhausting place to live in.  Wildly entertaining, but exhausting.

So I'm trying to let go, and live one day at a time (thanks for the reminder, TinaM!).

Is it bad if I say that I'm starting this tomorrow?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I'm a star! And a role model! (be very afraid...)

This Thursday night,my surgeon held a bariatric seminar, which he requires all of his pre-op patients to attend.  He talks about his background (Dr. Michael Snyder of Rose Medical in Denver, also the inventor of the Full Bars you may have seen on late-night TV), the different surgical options, and what each one entails.  I was invited to be one of the speakers on the panel of post-ops, who tell their story and answer questions.

This was really exciting, because:
1.  They thought of me as a post-op success story (so far...)
b.  They realized how articulate and charming I am
3.  It's a great way to remind myself of where I was, and where I am now

It was a wonderful experience.  I got to see my surgeon while standing vertically, instead of lying down and drugged up.  I wish I'd had a chance to talk to him, but he got a call into the ER and had to leave early.  I would have liked to see if he still recognizes me, or if remembers that it's me whose new pouch was swollen shut for 7 days (and that he told me if it went one more day that he would have taken me back to surgery--which he's never had to do).

The biggest thing is remembering what it was like for me to attend the very same seminar, back in November of 2009.  I remember that I was worried about how far I would have to walk before I could sit down, because I was in so much pain.  I remember being too timid to ask any questions, or talk to any of the post-op panel.  I remember trying hard not to cry as I listened to him speak, and as he reignited the hope that I could have a life again.

So that's what I told everyone on Thursday.  I brought my before picture, and heard someone ask, "Which one is that?" because they weren't sure who on the panel the pictures belonged to.  I introduced myself, told them what kind of surgery I had, when I had it, and how much I've lost (down 130 now, which is only 15 pounds shy of what my mother weighs).  I told them the best thing about the surgery was getting my life back--being able to do things, go out, walk as much as I want, and all without pain.  I told them that the worst thing is the routine and planning--I'm not naturally good at either and have to work on it every day. 

What I didn't tell them was that I've only lost 5 pounds in the last month, and am worried about how I might not lose more.  Or that I will gain it all back again.  Or that I still cannot control myself around bread, but sweets now hold very little appeal to me.  I didn't tell them that I used to order pizza 2-3 times per week, and that I haven't had real pizza since the last night I was allowed to eat before surgery.  I didn't tell them about the strange comments I get while losing weight, or that I get mad when I get judgmental looks for being fat (I assume) and that I really want to shout, "You think I'm fat NOW?  You should have seen me in January!"  I also didn't share that I'm so anxious to get to a size 16 or less, so that I can shop at normal-sized clothing stores (I'm still around a size 22, since all my weight is in my midsection).  And what if I never get there?

And I don't know if it was right of me to leave that part out.  Because I wanted to know that sort of stuff as a pre-op.  I just didn't know how to ask anymore than I knew how to say it this time around.  Such a long way I've come, and yet such a long way to go...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New stuff I'm loving...

I thought it might be time to update you on some new things that I've really been liking.  Note that these are all snacks (which become meals for me) and so they aren't high enough in protein to enjoy too often.  But lately I've been craving snack foods, and these are things that help beat the cravings with the least amount of damage.  Please ask your doctor/nutritionist what is right for you.  And, no, I don't get any free product, new cars, or even a slap in the kisser for mentioning these items--I just really, really like them.

Laughing Cow cheese wedges:  I know that this isn't new, but what is new are the flavors--blue cheese (icky--but I don't like blue cheese), queso fresco and chipotle (my new favorite), and sun-dried tomato and basil (haven't tried it yet).  They are all "light" with 35 calories, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.  Now for me, that isn't really enough protein for a meal, but it sure does solve the need for some creamy cheesy goodness on occasion.  Visit the website for recipes and a fun 80's workout mix.

Justin's Nut butters:  They are from Boulder, CO, and so they have hit major popularity in my area.  What I like is that I can get single-serving squeeze packs.  No temptation to eat out of the jar.  My favorite is honey almond, and I've found them at Vitamin Cottage, Whole Foods, and just about any natural supermarket in my area. With 190 calories, 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of sugar, it isn't idea for WLS folks.  But it helps me get my peanut butter on in a controlled portion size (and all-natural, with no high-fructose corn syrup).  And if you go to the website you can enjoy the catchy song by a fan crazier than I am (good singer, too!)

Dr. Kracker:  You gotta put that nut butter and cheese wedges on something, right? (just not at the same time, please)   Enter, Dr. Kracker, cheddar and pumpkin flavor flatbreads.  They are SERIOUSLY crunchy (as in you might lose a filling), they are slightly cheesy, and they are quite filling.  100 calories each (they are big), with no sugar, no transfat, 4 g of fiber, and 5 g of protein.   Hey, they didn't go to 4 years of Kracker Medical School just to make some crappy crackers--they are delish!

Newman's Own Soy Crisps, White Cheddar flavored:  Danger, danger!  These will squish in a pouchie and let you eat too many.  Either portion them out in single servings or don't buy them.  In fact, I don't think I can buy them anymore (I'm going to order some higher protein snacks from a bariatric website), but I thought I'd share.  120 calories, 1 g sugar, and 8 g of protein PER SERVING (so if your serving size the whole bag, these numbers will need to be adjusted).

Arctic Zero:  It's like a frozen protein shake, especially if you don't feel like making your own (please go visit the fantastic blog of Eggface if you do feel like making your own--she gives great directions).  This stuff is good if you need an ice cream fix--really good.  Like, 150 calories for the ENTIRE pint.  It tastes wonderful--especially if you haven't eaten real ice cream in over 7 months!  My fav is the chocolate mint, but I also tried the chocolate peanut butter and liked it.  It's 45 calories for 1/2 cup (no, that's not a typo),  4 grams of protein, and 6 grams of sugar.  I avoid anything with more than 5 grams of sugar, but for a couple of spoonfuls (about 1-2 T is all I eat at a time) it's a lot less.  Amazon sells it, but I get it at my local Sprouts market.

Dreyer's No Sugar Added Fruit Bars:  Yum!  Especially the raspberry!  Now this is not like sugar-free bars, each one has 25 calories and 1 g of sugar, so don't eat half the box.  But they are made with actual fruit and no high fructose corn syrup, so I feel nearly guilt-free.

Now my nutritionist and surgeon said these are the types of treats that I can have 2-3 times a week.  My problem is more about not having them once a day, so I talked to my support group and they recommended some bariatric foods that are high-protein, no/low sugar, and low calorie.  These are special order items, so when I get around to ordering some I'll let you know what I try, and give you my opinion.

If you get a chance to try any of these and you like them too, let me know.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

My tips on going to the gym...

Hi again to everyone--especially those that are new who have joined me.  Thank you!

I'm having a great time, now that I can work out.  I like going to the gym, I love my new pilates teacher, and I've even been swimming laps.  It is all very cool, and very new to me.  And I'm learning there are a lot of things I don't know about going to the gym.  I've been going with a friend of mine, we'll call her Goldilocks, who is VERY athletic and actually knows what she's doing.  I recommend finding yourself someone like her to go with.  If for nothing else, then to help you get off the &^$ floor when you're done stretching.

Now she had warned me that the gym has it's own culture, and that there are lots of unwritten rules to follow like putting back the things you use, wiping down the machines when you're finished, and not talking to other people who are working out at the same time.  According to Goldi, people are there to work out, not socialize.  She is so naive.   For example, I have made me a new gym friend, I'm sure of it. 
Goldi:  "You made a friend?"
Babe:  "Yeah.  He was filling his water bottle at the same time I was filling mine and so I told him that we were racing, and that I won."
Goldi:  "You know that people aren't supposed to talk to each other at the gym--you need to respect that person's private circle."
Babe:  "I think you're wrong.  My friend and I (after racing to fill our water bottles) both went to the hot tub.  I got out first and said to him, 'OK, I'm leaving you in charge.'  It was hilarious, and we laughed together."
Goldi:  [sigh]  "Honey, that was polite laughter.  The 'if-I-laugh-maybe-the-crazy-lady-will-leave' laugh does not constitute a friendship."
Babe:  "Sure it does.  He and I are tight now--being gym buddies and all"
Goldi:  "Really.  So what is the name of your new friend?"
Babe:  "Uh...Baldy."
Goldi:  [snort of derision]  "And his last name?"
Babe:  "Uh, yeah...he doesn't have a last name.  Like Madonna.  Or Cher.  Only his bathing suit was completely devoid of sequins, which is weird for someone with just one name."

It's worth mentioning that at this point in the conversation, Goldi just gave up, which means I win.

Now just in case you are also new to the "workout scene," let me share some additional tips that I've learned so far:
1.  Never, EVER take off your shower shoes at the gym.  Seriously.
2.  You can always spot the serious weightlifters by the gallon jug of water they carry around with them and drink from.  What is that about?  They can't pour their water into a normal-sized bottle like everyone else?  My workout buddy, Goldilocks, says that they just really like lifting heavy things, and that they can accomplish that with every sip.
3.  Try and get a spot on a machine that overlooks the personal training area.  Then you can watch the Marquis de Sade personal trainer make their client do ridiculous-looking training activities to humiliate them in front of the entire gym.  It makes for a more interesting view when you can watch a 5'2" petite woman make a gorilla of a man walk on all fours, with his feet on slippery disks, and do frog-kicks.  I don't know if that gave him a good workout, but I know that it made my workout more interesting.
4.  Take your iPod with you, and get a good workout mix (let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions, or would like the list I'm using right now).  Using ear buds will help drown out the two women on the ellipticals next to you who are carrying on a full conversation, texting, and managing to make comments on every other woman that walks by.  Without even breaking a sweat.
5.  Do not wear your old baggy clothes (like I've been doing).  Apparently my shorts are so big that when I get on the floor to stretch they gap and show my undies (also too big) to anyone who cares to look.

How about you guys?  Any tips you'd like to share?  Please leave them in the comments!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Out with the old

Today I went through my closet and got rid of any size 30/32's that I have.  I got rid of most of the 26/28's too.  I had a threefold test to see if it was time to get rid of it:  1. Is it so big that it looks ridiculous?  2. Is it totally out of style?  3. Would this item be better served with someone else?  If I answered yes to any of them, into the Goodwill bag it went.  I have 3 large paper bags (from Whole Foods, see I recycle too!) full.

And instead of being thrilled that I'm smaller and able to get rid of my largest clothes, I find that I'm a little melancholy.  It's funny how going through your old clothes is like looking at little pieces of your life.  That's the outfit I bought because I needed something for an event and it was the first thing that fit that didn't make me want to gouge out my own eyes.  It was also my first visit to the real "fat lady" store, because I was getting too big for Lane Bryant.  That's the outfit I got at Christmas that I never even tried on because I knew how awful I would look in it (Sorry, Mom).  That's the first outfit I got at Avenue, and I was so thrilled to find it had size 30/32.  That's the shirt with the retro graphic on it, that made me feel like I wasn't so out-of-step with everyone else ('course, this is back when retro graphics were cool).

I'm terrified to get rid of it all, it's like getting rid of my history.  At the same time, it would make my life easier to have clothes in the closet that fit and that I actually like.  So my compromise is to keep the outfit I was wearing in my "before" picture.  It's a reminder of where I came from...and where I hope to never be again.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Proportion Distortion

So I talked before about how a lot of post-surgical peeps are thin, with a bit of bulk in the abdomen/hip area from extra skin (I spoke about this previously here).  Since it seems to be very typical of post-ops to be disproportionate this way, I'm trying to be kind to myself and not let the weeble-wobble image in the mirror throw me.

But I finally had to replace my jeans because it isn't attractive when you have to keep hitching them up as you walk.  You can see in my 6-month pic that they are pretty baggy, so I went to Lane Bryant.  They have a new sizing system based on your build--curvy, average, or straight.  I tried on an average pair first and I was a size 22.  Shocking to think that 6 months ago I didn't even know my size because I wouldn't have been caught dead in a pair of jeans.  But the 'average cut', while just barely fitting around my waist, was way too big in the hips, butt, and thighs.  So I got the slender straight cut...and found out I had to get a size 24.  While they fit smaller, the size was larger.  And the tops I bought were all 22's.  Grrrr....

I know that sizes and numbers shouldn't matter, but at this phase they really do.  The scale isn't moving, my clothing size is still starting with a two--shouldn't I be thin by now?  And why is it that my stomach is still so increadibly out of proportion? 

I don't know the answers.  I don't know what will cause those numbers to go down further, other than to keep doing what I'm supposed to.  And I know in my head that my proportions will be off and strange until the time I lose enough weight and get plastic surgery to correct that.

But it still is very frustrating.  Anyone who says that surgery is the easy way out should be slapped.