Wednesday, June 30, 2010

AH-HA LIST - The signs and symptoms of a job well-done.

What is it about beating ourselves up? 

It seems I spend an exorbitant amount of time berating myself for "mistakes" made, poor choices, and sheer laziness.  And you know where this gets me?  On a short shame train to Miseryville.  Why?  Because, all it really does is create a shame cycle.  I start beating myself up for beating myself up!  Talk about counter-productive!

Every day I do my best to work on this; to be gentle and kind and loving with myself.  Of course, this is not always easy but it's a start.

Part of trying to be more kind with myself is cherishing my "ah-ha moments".  Those moments where it clicks, when all the work I've done, all the pain I went through, all the small meals and long walks seem so well worth it.  When even despite my self-perceived "shortcomings" can't compare to the greatness I am feeling.  So, in an effort to keep the positive at the forefront of my mind, rather then the negative, I've begun making a list of these moments, to which I will add whenever one pops out at me.  So, in my darker moments, I can have something concrete to remind me that I have already accomplished so much and I am in control of accomplishing even more.

So, without further ado, here is the beginning of my Ah-Ha List:
  • Totally bypassing old clothes.  Let me explain...I have a massive range of sizes in my closet from my ever yo-yoing weight.  Prior to my surgery, I went through all my clothes and packed up the clothes that were too small into bins.  I knew I would eventually be back into them but at that moment they were far too small to wear.  Since my surgery, I have often forgotten about the bins sitting in the basement and by the time I go fishing through them I have already sailed right past and out of a number of the pieces of clothing in there.  I have had the joy of reclaiming old clothes as well but actually being too big for clothes that used to be too small is a pretty amazing feeling.  I still have some stuff waiting for me in those bins and I am trying to remember to check them more often so I can at least enjoy them even for a moment before they too become too big.
  • My polish sausage legs are looking more and more like sausage links now.  It's been YEARS since I have donned shorts but with the advent of "Bermuda shorts" and my less beefy legs, I've actually welcomed the opportunity to let my white legs free.  I even have a rather itty-bitty skort I enjoy wearing from time to time. 
  • I can cross aforementioned sausage links!  Prior to surgery, crossing my legs was out of the question, as was sitting with one leg tucked under me (which was a favorite position to sit in as a child).  Now, I can cross my legs with abandon!  (Only in one direction though, not sure what that is about.  Anyone else have this?)  I can also tuck one leg under me and find it oh so comforting.  It reminds me of being a kid and sitting like that and letting my free leg swing. 
  • Chairs with arms no longer send a shock wave of fear down my body.  I no longer scan waiting rooms for a couch or armless chair to sit in.  This one is a BIG for me as my not fitting into armed chairs was actually one of the things that helped push me towards WLS.  After a very uncomfortable meal in an armed chair at a lovely restaurant in Paris, I knew something had to give.  (Even now, thinking about that meal makes me want to cry.  That was one of my most miserable fat moments.)  So from now on, whenever I sit comfortably in an armed chair, I can't help but feel a huge rush of gratitude as I do my internal happy dance.
  • Mirrors and large windows don't send me screaming for the hills.  Prior to WLS, I avoided mirrors and large reflective surfaces like the plaque.  If I did encounter them, I never looked at the reflection.  I would find something else to keep my attention.  Since surgery, I find myself actually surprised by what I see looking back at me.  When I really study myself in the mirror at home I often don't see the difference between me then and me now.  It's moments when I am walking by a store window and look over quickly that I really see it.  I am so surprised by all that's changed, that it takes me a moment to even realize that that not so bulky figure, is me!
  • Boobs, glorious boobs!  At my heaviest my shape was round, with little definition in my waist.  Since loosing weight I have rediscovered a body shape other then round  My boobs now actually stick out further then my stomach.  My stomach almost looks flat in the right clothing!  I am grateful that I have not lost much weight at all in my decolletage as being a little busty has always been a feature of mine with which I am comfortable.
While these few things may seem like small things, they all add up to some really big important things.  They are signs and symptoms of all the work I have done.  I may have bad days but even on those days I try and remind myself of all the ah-ha's I've been lucky enough to have on this journey.  There are loads more then these and in time I will reveal even more. 

In the meantime, what have been some of your ah-ha moments on your WLS journey?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Food and Thoughts - A Cage for Emotions

One of the biggest challenges in this whole WLS journey has been emotional eating.  Let's be honest, for most obese people, a lot of our issues with food stem from something deeper then just the good taste of banana cream pie. 

I am no different.  I KNOW that all of my "issues" with food stem from my emotions.  I KNOW that I eat when I am feeling stressed, lonely, tired, bored, sad, or even happy.  I KNOW all of this but I am starting to realize that while I KNOW all this, I have not let myself FEEL it for years. 

In order to protect myself from myself I turn to food.  But, I don't just turn to food, I also disengage.  I live in my head.  I am an intellectual type person.  I think and think and over-think everything.  In a way this is a HUGE defense mechanism.  Thinking is my way of disengaging.  I can rationalize my emotions and therefor not have to actually feel them and, in turn, deal with them. 

I THINK I am dealing with them by thinking about them but really I am just rationalizing, which is definitely not the same as dealing with them.  In order to face ones emotional shortcomings (though I am not sure I like that word as it has a negative connotation - will have to work on finding a more fitting word), one must actually face them.  I am just now starting to work on that.  It's a slow and arduous process as I am trying to retrain long standing habits that I once believed were helping.

I know now that through both food and thinking, I believed I was helping myself, preserving myself from feeling too much.  The thing is, there is no such thing as feeling too much.  There is no emotion too big that I can't handle.  (Again, this is my brain talking.  My heart still doesn't fully believe or grasp this concept.)

So, how am I combating this?  I can't really put it in to words as the process is all still new to me.  I am trying to listen to my heart more.  When I feel an urge to eat or zone out into thinking too much, I try and stop for a moment to be present in whatever it is that is causing me to want to retreat.  Most of the time this is very hard as my instinct is to flee into my head or the ice cream bowl.  I've had a couple mini-breakthrough moments but it is still very much a battle for me. 

This is where I am right now in the process.  I am working through and trying to better identify what I am truly FEELING and let myself actually FEEL it, even the bad stuff.  If I need to break down in order to breakthrough, so be it.  I know once I better learn to let myself FEEL just what is actually there rather then trying to eat or think it away, I will be able to better move on and let go.  Because really, until I can do all that, I am just rehashing and falling victim to my own caged emotions. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Move it and lose it, Toots!

I move.  You move.  We all move. 

I don't exercise.  I despise exercise.  Exercise sucks.  It hurts.  It's hot.  It makes me cranky just thinking about it.  It shall be forever known as the "e-word".

Part of the whole WLS journey is adding the dreaded e-word into your routine.  I tried doing it and failed miserably so I stopped.  I stopped e-wording and started moving.  Moving suits me so much more then the e-word ever did or will.

The e-word is a loaded word.  It gets thrown around so much that it's become heavy with expectations.  I don't do well with those sorts of things because I am a perfectionist.  I MUST get my 30 minutes in a day.  I MUST sweat this much.  I MUST get my heart rate up to this level.  BALONEY!!!! 

So, now I move.  I listen to my lovely little (well smaller then before) body and she tells me what feels good and right.  She knows when I need a walk instead of a cookie.  She knows when a dip in the pool will do me just fine.  She knows when dancing around my room to really random music will make my heart sing.  She knows when chasing after a stinky mutt will actually be fun and not a penalty for not locking the gate.  She knows when that Pilate's class at the Y, that always leaves her just a little more sore then it seems like it should at the time, is actually just what the doctor ordered. 

You see, up until recently I didn't trust her.  I lived solely in my head and heart and forgot to give my lovely little body a say in what I was doing with her.  Shame on me!  She has a lot of great things to say and low and behold all this moving actually not only appeases Miss Corpal Loveliness but also eases and appeases the intellectual and emotional lovelinesses as well!  Who'da thunk it???

Does this mean that I always listen to Miss CL?  Nah!  Sometimes I can be a stubborn ox but I am learning more and more to listen to her and move it, move it, move it! 

I always feel so good once all's said and done and it's not even that ego stroke kind of, "I rock I did something good for myself.  I deserve a cookie." kind of feeling good either.  It is the my-lovely-lady-lumps-are-sore-and-lethargic-and-worked-all-to-goodness feeling good.  I sit down and I can feel each and every muscle I have so long neglected.  I can feel how each one connects to one another and to my lovely bones and tendons and how because of them I can MOVE in the first place!  I can feel them cool down after being warm from use and sheer pleasure of it all. 

So, every day I try and listen to Miss Corporal Lovely and move when she says move.  It works out so much better then the evil e-word.  You really should try it sometime. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My Philosophy (ies)

In my last post I mentioned being 100-some pounds lighter.  I don't know my exact weight loss for a number of reasons but I am honestly happy to keep it that way as it fits my philosophy for this whole journey.

It all starts with the simple and true fact that I am an addict.  I am a food-addict.  My surgery cannot and will not change this fact; this is something I have to deal with no matter the size of my pouch or rerouting of my innards.  As part of this battle, I often find myself becoming obsessed with food and then on the flip side, weight loss.  So, to help combat my tendency towards obsession, I don't track.  I don't count calories.  I don't count fat, sugar, or protein.  I don't journal. I don't obsess (or so that's the goal).

This all actually started with my surgeon.  While my WLS office does weigh me, they do not encourage their patients to count calories.  They believe, as do I, that this journey should not be treated as a diet where one must track and journal and watch everything like a hawk.  Instead it is about learning to listen to your body, not you emotions or your mind, but your body.  To listen to your body you have to learn how to trust it.  I trust it by eating until I feel satisfied (not FULL).  With an itty-bitty stomach, this is not nearly as hard to do as it was before surgery.

I try to make healthy food choices and do watch (not count) my protein and sugar intakes.  Again, this is something in which my body will let me know when I've gone off track.  While I don't dump per say, I do get gnarly headaches when I eat more sugar then I should.  And the protein?  I get light-headed and dizzy when my protein intake dips too low.  My body knows what I need and so I try to listen to her.  She really does have my best interest at heart.

So back to my poundage.  In the beginning of this journey I did count the pounds.  I mean let's be honest when you are dropping that quickly after many years of the scale going up, it can be a total rush to watch the numbers plummet like a lead balloon.  But, then you start to plateau and you find yourself playing the old head games with yourself and so I stopped.  I stopped worrying about the scale and haven't looked back.  Every once in a while I will step on the scale just to get an idea but I do not and will not let myself become a scale whore ever again.

I now base my progress on the real stuff, on the stuff that really matters, the stuff that was my motivation for all of this in the first place.  I base it on how I feel in my own lovely skin (flabby as it may be).  I base it on the fact that I am now comfortable in skirts, as my thighs no longer rub and chaff. I base it on the fact that clothes that once were impossible to get into are now actually TOO BIG!  I base it on the fact that I spent 3 weeks traveling in the UK and was able to see and do all I wanted to without feeling sore, uncomfortable, achy, or anything but ready for the next day of adventure.  I base it on the fact that I take my pup for a one-mile walk on a whim without batting an eye.  I base it on the fact that I have yet to hit a wall when swimming laps in the pool, I stop because I have run out of time, not because I can't possibly go any further.  I base it on the true and simple fact that I feel better and healthier then I ever have before.

I do still struggle, don’t get me wrong. I make unhealthy food choices.  I push my pouch just a little too far.  I get lazy and don’t move (remember I don’t exercise – I move).  But, I am slowly learning something about this whole thing: guilt and shame over bad choices, pounds gained, lazy days, and simple lack of effort will only perpetuate the cycle.  Being loving and kind with myself is when I am most apt to shine.  When I am not doing all this because I “have” to but rather because I want to, I start to feel better all around.  I forgive the bumps in the road and look at the whole picture and realize how far I have come and that is nothing to be ashamed of!

*Disclosure: Despite all this, I still reserve the right to have down days and woe-is-me blog posts but this is ultimately what I am striving for every day!

10 months and 100-some pounds later....

I had intentions of starting this blog even before I had my RNY Gastric Bypass in August 2009 but as they say, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."  So here I am, 10 months later, 100-some pounds lighter, and finally getting around to my first post. 

Why now?  Well, while my brain knew that weight loss surgery was not the magic bullet, my heart may not have gotten the message as I am now finding myself falling back into many old habits.  I feel that putting my thoughts and feelings on this whole thing out there for all the world to see might just help me get back to the place I want to be.  No, despite what many people might think, this is not about weight loss.  It's about making healthy long-lasting life-altering choices that will not only give my life more year but my years more life.

I will be using the space to talk about all things weight loss surgery related, food related, movement related (I don't exercise - I move), and hang-up related (let's be honest, that's what got us to this spot in the first place).  So, come along and join the ride.  I'd like to think that this diatribe might help to enlighten others but most of all, it's to enlighten (no pun intended) myself.

Welcome and thanks for reading!