My Progress

I started this blog in March 2010 when I found out I was approved to move forward with Lap-Band surgery. I've always fancied myself a "writer" though I hate the pretension that usually comes along with that label. I've also never managed to keep a steady journal, blog, or website going for more than a few months (instead I've started many over the years and they've fizzled out.) But here you go, my latest attempt, and because it's an issue that's so important, I've really tried to keep up with it on a regular basis.

If you're interested in reading the whole story from the beginning, you should scroll down and start with the earliest posts, moving forward. Yes, I know you know how a blog works but my grandmother might visit this website too, you know!

I chose "Results Not Typical" because that's always the disclaimer you see on commercials for weight loss products and services. Well, I've never been typical in any sense of the word, so I'm hoping this time around is no different. I told myself when I started that I was going to excel at this (as I do with most things I put my mind to) and I'm happy to report that I already have. 15 months after my surgery, I am down 95 lbs. I truly cannot believe it, nor can I believe (or could I have imagined) the differences in my life.

I welcome comments by email or left here and hope to offer support to others.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

New successes and old failures

It's August 13th, as you can see by the blog times tamp. Just shy of 5 months from my revision. I meant to write more but where did the time go? I guess I've just been really busy focusing on the 10 million things I have to keep track of on a daily basis. Being healthy is a ton of work! I am so grateful for this "job" though.

I keep promising myself I will write more frequently. It helped me the first time and I know it would help me now. I've always been one to need to "think aloud" in order to process what's going on. So here I am again, absent for months from a journal no one else even reads. And now back.

So much has happened in these short months. I recovered well from my surgery. I sold a house that I'd owned since 2009 but no longer lived in. Got a horse trailer and truck to pull them with as a gift from an incredible partner for our 5 year anniversary. Oh, yeah, and I lost 37 lbs...or so. Whatever.

37lbs - putting me squarely at 200 and just days away from breaking the 200-barrier for the 2nd time in my life. The first time was September, 2010. I know this because I looked back at my blog. I'm not sure when I crossed 200 again from the other side (on my way up) but I think it was sometime around fall 2012. I am guessing I haven't seen 200 itself in about 3 years. I didn't keep nearly as good of records on my climb back up into obesity.

To be a "weight loss surgery failure" is very difficult. People assume that having weight loss surgery is "the easy way out" so when you "fail" at it, you are even worse than people who lose weight on their own and fail. I know I didn't actually fail. I managed to keep off 95lbs for 2+ years, then even with some regain, kept 40-something pounds off for 3 more years. And my regain was due to many factors including the band just not working for me anymore.

You see, when the band stops working, it takes many forms. Some people get a simple and clear cut mechanical failure such as a leak in the tubing or a slip or an erosion. I had some more subtle problems that I didn't even know were problems, or the extent of, until it was removed.

My band was either too loose, not providing any help at all, or too tight - leaving me unable to swallow a bite of solid, healthy food.

I had spent more money than I could afford messing with the "adjustments" trying to find a level where I wasn't in pain or sick from the tightness of it but not constantly hungry.

My esophagus, about 2.5 years in, exhausted from the constant pressure against it from the band every time I ate food, just stopped working properly. Instead of pushing chewed food down into my stomach (past the band) it would just let food sit in my lower esophagus, which stretched the muscle.

When we realized this was happening, I got all of the fluid taken out of the band, leading to an instantly enlarged appetite, but still, the band inside me would make itself known once in a while if I ate the wrong thing. And by "wrong thing" I mean: meat, fibrous vegetables; fruit, well, basically anything that wasn't chips or ice cream.

The first time I met someone else with a failing band who mentioned the "chip and ice cream diet" I was so relieved it wasn't just me. If you've never been through this it might seem impossible to comprehend how someone so determined to lose weight that she will undergo surgery, comply with a 2 week pre-operative liquid diet, and spend 5 mornings a week at the gym, could possibly turn into someone that lives off junk food. I had lost 95lbs and I had maintained it. I even underwent plastic surgery to remove excess skin and looked the best I ever had. Why would I ever go back to eating junk food?

This is the reason: Imagine being so hungry but physically unable to swallow something nutritious. You'd try. You'd chew a piece of chicken until it was liquified. And when you swallow, it felt like a 1,000 lb weight was sitting in your chest. You try not to puke it up. You start to foam at the mouth, or "slime". Uncontrollable saliva begins to emerge. But it's not even normal spit. It's thick like mucous - the digestive tract desperately trying to lubricate itself to get this food down and make the pain stop.  And when you can't stand it anymore, you give in to the urge and regurgitate the whole thing into a napkin. Or a cup you keep in your car in case of emergencies. For a few minutes you feel nauseous and horrified. Disgusted with yourself and what has just happened. And when that moment passes, you realize that you're hungry. So, so, hungry. And that you don't care what you eat, don't care how it tastes, you just need to get something in you because you're shaking and dizzy. And potato chips - for some reason, go down easy. You can crush a whole bag in a few minutes. And it feels so good to finally stop the hunger for a little while that you don't worry about the calories, fat, or carbs. And you tell yourself that starting tomorrow you'll eat healthy. You'll chew better, take smaller bites, make sure your meat is tender before you try to eat it. But "tomorrow" never actually comes. Because it's not you. It's this thing inside of you.

Now, every day wasn't that bad but it would come and go. As predictable as the weather, basically. That is to say NOT AT ALL. I would have days or weeks of eating with no issue. I might start to get back on track with eating healthily or I might abuse the "freedom" to enjoy things I knew I wouldn't be able to soon. Then there would be the days when I could choke myself on a protein shake. I never understood that. Literally, drinking a protein shake and having to vomit it up because it wouldn't go down past my band.

And it might have all been ok if the band had provided me the kind of appetite suppression it did in the first 2 years. Isn't that outrageous? To admit that I might have been ok living like this if only I could have remained thin? But lucky for me, I didn't. I put back on a lot of my lost weight and I had to face the fact that nothing I could do with the band could stop me from continuing to gain weight.

And that's when I became a revision patient. There is more of the details on that below so I won't spend time on it tonight.

I will admit it though: the revision hasn't been everything I had hoped. I really hoped I would be one of those lucky people that got their hunger hormones extinguished. I mean, out in a landfill somewhere with the 80% of my stomach they removed. I had a few days of that right after surgery! Now, I get hungry just like everyone else. I had also sort of hoped I'd have some major intolerance to certain foods. Just be unable to eat things I shouldn't but still able to eat all the healthy foods. Yeah, wishful thinking. I can eat ANYTHING. At least, in 5 months I haven't come across something I can't eat. I can also eat more than I'm supposed to be able to. Most people 5 months out from their sleeve are struggling to get a mandatory minimum amount of protein and water in daily. Let's just say I haven't struggled since I started solid food 3 weeks post op.

But would I really have wanted to go from one miserable way of eating and disfunctional relationship with food to another? Knowing how things are now, I am grateful that my wishes didn't come true.

And would I do it again? A million times over and without a second thought, yes! So if it isn't some miracle cure then how have I lost 37lbs in the past 5 months? I have busted my ass, mostly! As everyone does when trying to lose weight. I firmly believe if anyone tells you it can be done easily, then they are sadly mistaken.

I watch my diet meticulously - at the moment I don't even eat sugar substitutes and obviously not anything with sugar. I am basically on a whole food, minimally processed, high protein and not much else "diet" right now. And I exercise even more religiously than ever before. I think I might have a true rest day once or twice a month.

I know my weight loss isn't impressive by bariatric standards but I can squat 115lbs, chest press 95, and deadlift 110. I can also bike 75 miles in a day! Those are all things I could not do, not even close, 6 months ago. To improve my overall fitness so fast while losing weight is actually pretty damn impressive.

And now that I am mere days away from being in the 100s again, and conceivably less than a year away from meeting my ultimate goal weight (160 - which I never got to the first time around)... I realize I have made some major changes to the way I live, eat, and treat my body in general. For possibly the first time, just now - in the recent past - I am doing everything I "should" be.  Ok, so I could get better sleep. But almost everything!

So that's it for tonight. I have other topics brewing but I'll be back. Sooner this time!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Goodbye Band, Hello Sleeve!

9 days ago, I woke up from surgery and thought I was dreaming. My surgeon was able to remove my band and revise me to a sleeve in one procedure (which was not guaranteed). I was ecstatic and I still am. Actually I can still hardly believe it happened.

I am going to start writing here regularly again because it helped me so much the first time around. It feels like I'm starting over. I know I'm not really. I'm armed with 5 years of experience with my band including successful weight loss, plastic surgery, band complications, and regain. I have learned from my mistakes and I've also learned that there is no easy, quick fix.

Also, I'm not literally starting over. I'm now in the 220s, which is 50lbs less than I started with when I got banded. I am aiming higher (well, lower) this time though. There is no reason I shouldn't be able to get down to 160. 160 was always my "ultimate" goal. 180 was great and I thought I was going to be there forever but 160 was always the number that eluded me. At my height, 160 is at the high end of normal or the low end of overweight but with my large frame and good muscle mass, I actually would be pretty thin at 160.

So, not only am I writing again for my own sanity and benefit, but I hope that once again my story can help and inspire others.

I will write more about my surgery, going to Mexico, recovery, etc. this is just a quick intro while I'm waiting on my plane to board.

So, welcome back ME! I'm back on the loser's bench and back on track. I want to lose an average of 2lbs per week (8lbs per month) which makes 8 months a realistic goal for losing my last 65 lbs. I should be there by the end of 2015. Can't wait!

Friday, January 30, 2015

A request for help

I haven't posted here in forever but it seemed like the best place to post this. I've considered starting a "go fund me" but they take more fees and I would have to use my legal name (which if you found this through some of my social network sites, you'd understand the hesitation). If you are interested in my entire back story, please read my blog from the beginning - I've been told it's a really interesting story.

But to cut to the chase, here is the abbreviated version:

  • In 2010, after 25 years of living in (and fighting) my "morbidly obese" body, failing at every diet I ever tried, I underwent LAP-band surgery.
  • It was an immediate success. It was the answer to my prayers. Finally, "eating right and exercising" worked because I wasn't constantly hungry and miserable. 
  • I lost 95 lbs in my first year and maintained that loss for another year.
  • This weight loss caused some ridiculous health gains: reversed Polycystic Overian Syndrome, reversed hypertension, reversed insulin resistance, eliminated arthritis, diminished depression and anxiety to nearly-non-existent levels. . 
  • I paid for my own skin removal surgery (no insurance since it was "cosmetic" but very worth that I could finally feel comfortable in my body.
  • Then...all hell broke loose.
    • I was laid off from my job (and lost my excellent health insurance)
    • I became freelance/self employed, opened my own business, and had to move all over the country to work.
    • I lost my partner of 5 years.
    • I was injured in a riding accident that left me unable to exercise for months. I could actually barely walk for 2 weeks. 
    • My stepdad who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer just before I got my band started declining and in Fall 2013, he passed away.
And AT THE SAME TIME, the one tool that had ever allowed me to successfully manage my weight failed. In the spring/summer of 2012, a routine upper GI study showed that my esophagus was not pushing food beyond the band properly. This was causing food to sit in my "upper stomach" and stretch my esophagus. Even though I only had the band filled to 50% of its capacity (not considered over-filled or "tight" at all) my body was not cooperating. My esophagus had become dilated and I was frequently vomiting from just a couple of bites of solid food. Before I knew there was an issue, I blamed myself for the frequent sickness but the scan revealed that the band was doing my body harm even while it was technically doing its job of helping me maintain my weight loss.

My surgeon emptied all fluid from my band, rendering it basically useless, but it was still sitting inside of me. Since I was no longer on the good insurance that got me the band to begin with, I now had to pay several hundred dollars each time I visited my surgeon for a check up or adjustment. I was earning only a fraction of what I used to be, so I decided to just leave the band un-filled rather than risk further harm to my stomach since I couldn't afford the monthly monitoring and adjustments.

Unfortunately, that meant that despite my best efforts, I gained back half of the weight I had lost. 

And the story gets even worse... I moved across the country to pursue a new relationship and switch careers and thought since I was joining a new employer health plan that I would be safely covered once again. 

But no, the plan specifically excludes ANY treatment relating to weight loss. Doesn't matter that it's a "pre-existing condition" and all I'm asking for is help to maintain my current state of health. Nope, no coverage. 

But, if I woke up one day and couldn't swallow my own saliva because the band slipped and had to go to the ER and get it removed immediately, they'd surely cover that, right? 

Nope. Not one little bit. Doesn't matter if it's an emergency. Doesn't matter if my stomach has eroded into the band or the band has eroded into my liver or if I start bleeding internally or have to be hospitalized for dehydration due to nonstop vomiting. IF it has any relation to my band, my insurance doesn't cover it. 

I spent the past year fighting, researching, begging, appealing, writing letters, 
At least in case of emergency, right? No, nothing. 

So now, I have this ticking time bomb inside of me that's already proven to be doing damage to my body. I have no ability (financially) to monitor it properly. And worst of all, I have the constant fear of the what-if, someday the worst happens and I have to seek emergency treatment and I have no insurance coverage. 

I already know (because it has happened) that in my state of residence, I am not eligible for financial assistance with this because it's considered "elective." 

I also know that again because of the state I live in, I can't get coverage on the exchange/marketplace that's any better than what my employer offers. The state I live in does not mandate coverage for obesity (some states do) so no individual plans cover it, period. 

Given all this, my only real option is to get my band removed electively and pay for it myself. I don't want to just remove it though, I want to revise to a gastric sleeve, which will get me back to the way life was when I had a functioning band and could maintain a healthy weight. 

Please understand I am not doing this out of vanity or convenience. It is not because I am lazy or don't want to exercise or eat healthy. I do all of that and it makes not a single lick of difference. In fact, the more I exercise, the hungrier I am and the more weight I gain. 

I am doing this so that I don't end up back where I was 5 years ago before my band. I don't want to get all the health problems back that I got rid of. 

I am going to Mexico for my surgery because the cost is about 30% of what it is in the US. However, the cost is still more than 20% of my annual salary and I have to pay for travel and take unpaid time off work.

It's really difficult for me to ask for help but I am doing it because I don't have a choice. I hope that if this speaks to you, you will consider donating even a dollar to my cause. I will be absolutely transparent about what I receive and how it's used.  And I vow to pay it forward in the future, in any way I possibly can.

Thank you for reading.

Total cost of surgery + travel + unpaid time off work = about $15,000.
Fundraising Goal: $3,000
Funds donated by amazing people like you since I posted this: $740.00

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

50 Mile Bike Ride (Part 2 - The Journey)

When I decided a couple of weeks ago that I was going to bike 50 miles on the Heritage Trail, one of the first thoughts I had was "What makes you think you can even do that?" It's weird because I have rarely ever ridden my bike in the past 5 years and when I have it's been 30 or 45 minutes at most. Yet for some reason, I decided I could ride 50 miles which would take me at least 5 hours (more with stops) and I had no doubt in my mind that it was doable.

 I started thinking about this and it seemed like an appropriate metaphor for my weight loss journey. When I set out to get my lap-band, I didn't have any reason to believe I could lose massive amounts of weight but I somehow just "knew" that I would. I could envision myself reaching the finish line. 180lbs was always a number in my mind that stuck out. I zoomed to that goal and I felt unstoppable while doing so. And I largely attribute my success to the mentality that there was just no choice, I had to make it there. It seems as though my body followed my mind's lead and took me where I "had" to go.

It's the same thing with the bike ride. I knew I could make it 25 miles and I knew that once I made it that far I would have no choice but to ride the other 25 home. Sure, if I had an emergency I could have called a friend or a cab to drive me back to where my car was parked but that was a backup plan and certainly wasn't going to be necessary. I just felt like I had no choice but to complete the journey and so I knew that it would happen.

Here is where this metaphor becomes really significant. Now that I am (about) 180 and have been maintaining there (about) for close to 2 years, I still have no ability to visualize myself achieving a lower weight. As much as I want to get to 160, I don't have the same conviction that it's possible. I can't see myself there. I don't have that feeling of knowing or trust that I will get there. I know, oh believe me, I know that this is THE single biggest factor in why I still have not lost my final 20(ish) lbs.

Other issues have popped up that have caused me to gain a little but I know full well that I can and will get back to my 180. But from there, it's like an abyss that for some reason I cannot imagine there being an escape from. So, back to the bike ride... Being alone, in nature, on a bike, for about 7 hours really gives one a lot of time to ponder things. I definitely had a lot of "aha" moments on my ride and I think I learned a lot of lessons. Or maybe things I already knew sank in a little bit more. I paid particular attention to when the lessons I was learning on my ride also could be applied metaphorically to my weight loss journey. It happened more often than you might imagine. It might seem cheesy but keep reading all the way to the end, there's a big punch line (in the sense of life just jabbing me with one of those "oh I'll show you" type things) It'll be worth it, I promise.

Without Further Ado...

What I learned on my 50 mile bike ride:

1. Make sure you have everything you need for your journey ready to go at the start. I was pretty well prepared with 3 liters (plus 20oz more) of water, a flat repair kit and pump, a bunch of trail mix, beef jerky, cheese sticks, cliff bars, and way more stuff than I actually needed.

I only ate trail mix all day after starting the morning with some cereal and bacon. I guess I kind of thought 50 miles was longer than it was. And I thought I'd be more hungry along the way since I burn about 800 calories per hour biking. But as it turned out, the amount of water was just right and the food was overkill.

2. Know where you're headed. 
They were nice enough to put this etched in stone map out for people on the trail. It looks like an awfully long way when you look at this one.

3. Break a long journey up into smaller steps. 

Going 50 miles seemed kind of nuts. But going 25 didn't seem so bad. And then I saw that I only had to go 3.7 to be at Durango! And 9.1 to be at Twin Springs! And so on... 

Having intermediate stops, particularly with snazzy names, makes it not feel like such a haul mentally to get to your destination. 

It took me no time at all to fly past Durango and I stopped for my first bathroom/rest break when I got to Graf. That was the furthest I had previously ridden so it was exciting moving forward from there into uncharted territory. 
Trail Marker where I started at "Heritage Pond" - Dyersville, 25 miles, here I come!

4. Don't forget to enjoy the scenery and take lots of pictures. 
It's really sad that these photos didn't come out anywhere close to capturing the beauty of what I saw. The countryside was just gorgeous and I stopped periodically to snap photos on my phone.  It's really important to not forget what's happening along the way. I am glad I wasn't so focused on just simply getting there to the detriment of my actual trip. 

Beautiful landscape. That's a corn field.

View of Cornfields and Farmhouse 5 miles outside Dyersville

5. Iowans are inherently afraid of raccoons.

I don't have a picture to go along with this one but I have a story. Not too far into my ride, I came across another biker. He zoomed past me when I had stopped to use the little girls room on the side of the trail. Luckily my pants were up by the time he came by. I got back on my bike and tried to catch up with him, actually excited to find someone else on the trail. Maybe I'd have company all the way? Well, I never caught up to him but within a few minutes he was screeching to a halt and turning around in the other direction. As he passed me again, this time opposite of me, I asked what was wrong and he pointed at a raccoon. Yes, there was a raccoon just chilling in the middle of the bike path but it didn't look that scary. I told him I was just going to ignore it and I rode by without an issue. I was a little worried that he knew something about raccoons that I don't and this one was going to chase me or lunge at me and latch itself onto my throat or something. But nothing of the sort happened and I finished my ride in peace. 

6. Putting a banana in the freezer overnight does NOT (contrary to logic) make it a tasty frozen potassium snack. Instead, it turns out looking like slime and will splat open like a banana grenade when dropped.

7. When determined to make it to your destination. "Road Closed" signs DO NOT apply to you.

Seriously, there were so many obstacles on my ride...everything from a utility truck blocking the path to road closure, to blockades, to raccoons, to a kid with Down's Syndrome (seriously, don't ask!) but I was not letting anything stop me from making it to the end of the road. I mean, it looked fine to me! I still have no idea why they put this block up. There was nothing warranting it.

8. You better have enjoyed the journey (remember number 4?) cause sometimes the destination is just a big empty parking lot with no picnic area, no bathrooms, no water fountain, no lake, and surrounded by nothing but corn fields. Seriously. This was the biggest bummer. I thought at the end of my 25 mile ride there would be something worth seeing but nope. Just corn.

Celebrating being on the other end of the trail. 25 miles to get back to Heritage Pond!

View of corn after riding 25 miles.
View of the parking lot at my halfway point. Dyersville, IA. Yep, worth the ride. 

9. The last 10% is always the hardest. Ain't that the truth! It was when I had 5 miles left that I started feeling the first real soreness in my muscles. It wasn't bad though. I could certainly make it five more miles.

10. Scratch that...the last 3 miles are the hardest.

After breezing through my day at a much quicker pace with less rest stops than I anticipated, I was on track to be back at my car a full 90 minutes before schedule. I was very proud of myself and was already patting myself on the back for a job well done. Then pedaling started getting kind of hard. And then I noticed a noise I hadn't before. I got off to make sure I wasn't dragging a tree, dead animal, water bottle, small human child, etc. and of course, my rear tire was flat.

With THREE miles left to ride, I had a flat tire. Mother fucker. Just like life to do that too, you know? Knocking me upside the head just when I'm feeling all confident and proud.

So, I stopped to try to fix the tire since I did have a repair kit and pump. And a nice middle-aged couple even stopped to offer their help but it was no use. The valve on the inner tube broke while we tried to find the puncture and patch it. I had no choice but to walk myself and the bike the last 3 miles home.

This was perhaps the most valuable lesson of the day. Bring a spare inner tube, yes, but that's not what I mean. What I mean is that...sometimes those last 3 miles are harder than the 47 previous ones.

Sometimes just when you think you're home free is when the real challenge begins. Believe me, it was a FIGHT not to abandon my bike and find a main road and call a taxi. Or call my friend to drive 20 minutes to come pick me up and take me back to my car. On top of the frustration of being so close and hitting a major snag, my left inner thigh muscle had really started hurting in those last few miles and every step I walked was painful. And you can only walk so far while dragging a flat-tired bike along with you. AND every time you forget for a moment that the bike is there, your leg rams full force into the pedal. I was close to crying. I had to take 2 rest breaks in those last 3 miles when I'd gone 10-15 miles between breaks all day. I felt nearly crushed by the distance still in front of me and every time a biker would come zooming by I would feel bitter and annoyed. But not finishing was not an option.

Sometimes the real accomplishment is how you finish the journey, not how you began it.

Sometimes it takes 5 times longer than you'd planned, or than you'd like, to complete the journey.

But ultimately I knew I was going to finish. I was going to get to say that I traveled on my own muscle from Dubuque to Dyersville and backand that I didn't quit when it got tough. I knew that if I kept putting one foot in front of the other that eventually I would complete my 50 miles even if it took a while and happened through sheer grit and determination.

This is so much like my weight loss journey, it's not even funny. This was like life saying "Hey, you want a metaphor? I'll give you one!"  It took me 9 months to lose 90 lbs and now almost 2 years later I've still got the last 20 to go. And I have to fight tooth and nail and be nearly perfect for each fraction of a pound.

The big question in my mind now is, how do I come to mental terms with my end goal? With the absolute certainty of reaching it no matter how long it takes? If I could just find that conviction, I would be unstoppable. I can do it when it comes to other journeys but this one seems so prone to just turning into an "Oh well, I've come so far, why do I need to go further?" Yesterday, I never seriously entertained the thought of finding another way to get home without completing my course. But for the past 2 years I've found every reason under the sun why it's ok to not finish what I started.

How do I find that missing element within myself? Or what does it mean if that element just isn't there and never materializes?

I have a lot to think about.

The 50 Mile Ride (Part 1 - intro)

2 weeks ago, while on vacation in Iowa, I discovered a trail that runs 25 miles between 2 cities. It's a really nice crushed limestone trail, flat for the most part, and mostly shaded. People walk, run, and bike this trail and it's well maintained with mile markers and even some very primitive restrooms along the way. I had brought my bike with me from home with the hope of enjoying it up here in Iowa so I took it out for a ride one day. I rode 5 miles down and 5 miles back, which seemed like a lot at the time cause I can't ever remember riding 10 miles before or at least being aware of having done so. But it was in fact very easy to do. I decided that day that I would make the entire 25 mile trip from Dubuque to Dyersville, resulting in a 50 mile ride. I started riding my bike every day for an hour and then a week ago I went on a 2 hour/23 mile trip on the trail. Having completed that and still feeling fine, I decided to just go for the 50 (with a week of 10 mile practice rides in between). This may sound crazy to other people. It pretty much sounded crazy to me too. I thought 50 miles would be a distance you'd really have to work up towards. But the more I rode, the easier going 10 miles felt and I figure if I could go 10 miles and then rest a little there's no reason I couldn't go 50 miles in one day. So yesterday I did, and here are the photos and travelogue to prove it. But first, I want to pause to talk about a few other (related) things. I have been following (more or less) the Medifast plan since July 29 now. Had been doing pretty well sticking to it or at least to a version of it that was workable for me. The lowest weight I'd seen on the scale was 184.6, which made me very happy, but days kept going by without any scale movement. I was discouraged and getting annoyed about that. That's normal for me though, just a part of life when I'm on a weight loss journey and it's to be expected. Doesn't mean I need to give up, I'm just saying yes, the frustration was there. One thing that isn't exactly normal though and that I haven't confessed to anyone until now is that ever since starting Medifast a few weeks ago, I have dreamed every single night that I had gone and eaten something off the plan. Some nights it was that I dreamed I'd eaten an apple. Other nights it was that I'd gone for chocolate or baked goods. But every morning, without fail, I'd wake up wondering if I had really done that before realizing it was just another dream. What this tells me is that my mind is way too worried about food. I mean preoccupied to the greatest extent. My brain is obsessed with good food, bad food, right food, wrong food, being on a plan or off it, being perfect or not. This is disturbing to me because this never happened even when I was in the midst of losing 90 lbs with my band. I wasn't dreaming about food and I really can't remember a time in my life where I have. Maybe once or twice in the past while on a restrictive diet but I'm talking about every single night, the same thing? No...this was definitely out of the ordinary. So, Sunday, knowing that my big ride was coming up on Tuesday and that I basically had no reserves of anything except fat to burn in my body, something in mind just kicked into gear and I started to want to eat everything. And I can recognize the difference between a craving that is irrational and just needs to be ignored and something that's coming from a different place. This was like a primal need. Like survival instinct. That's all I can call it. Sure, it might have been misguided but my body was shouting at me loud and clear that I needed sugar and carbs like I haven't felt in a really long time. I analyzed it a bit and decided to give into it because truth be told, I wanted to successfully complete my ride more than I wanted to be down on the scale this week. Thinking about it carefully, I knew that I've never asked my body to work that hard for that long as riding 50 miles would be. I estimated that I'd burn about 3600 calories (my heart rate monitor ended up telling me I burned 4,131). I would have to eat 5 days worth of medifast food to not be in a deficit there when you add my normal daily caloric needs to that. And who wants to eat 5 days of medifast food in one day anyway? I'm not saying I needed to eat 5,000 calories in advance of my bike ride, that's not the point. What I felt I needed was to have some reserve energy stores in my system so that I could actually complete my ride without fear of passing out or having to just eat medifast food continuously the whole ride. If someone knows more about exercise physiology than me, I'd love to know your opinion. But needless to say, I did go a bit crazy on Sunday with eating all sorts of things I hadn't eaten in ages (and it was FUN and amazing, by the way, and really scratched an itch to just eat and enjoy it) but moreover, I was barely hungry on Monday and by Tuesday, I didn't need to eat much of anything to sustain me on my ride. I made some trail mix with nuts, granola, dried berries, and chocolate covered almonds and I brought a bunch of other stuff with me like beef jerky and cliff bars but I really wasn't hungry at all on the ride and just had trail mix every couple of hours to make sure I had energy. I could definitely feel the difference as time went on and I needed to refuel. So where does that leave me? Well, this morning my scale was at 188. I know that it's inflated not only from the sheer volume of food I've consumed over the past 3 days, the fact that a lot of it was carbs which add on "water weight", and also the amount of water I actually drank. I drank 5 liters yesterday. On a normal day I drink between 2-3. I know it's going to take a few days for my body to recover from this incredible task and maybe I'll end up back down at 184. Or maybe not and it takes another week to get there. I am ok either way. I realized something very important in the past few days. I have goals that do not revolve around the weight on the scale. Being healthy, being fit, being able to just decide to go bike 50 miles and DOING IT. That makes me incredibly happy. It doesn't make me feel less accomplished because I'm still a bit pudgy. But in terms of where I'm headed from here, I am back on "the plan" this morning and I am not craving or desiring food that I shouldn't. It was great to get it all out of my system in the few previous days and now feel ready to be back on that path. One other thing I'm realizing... I think I need to stop seeing myself as the fat person I once was. I often find myself thinking things like "Hey, I did that pretty well for a fat person." But that's just not true anymore. I'm sure there are plenty of people who are not in good enough shape to go on a 50 mile bike ride. And, without more than 2 weeks of practice at that! I should be proud of myself and grateful to my body for taking care of me and allowing me to do things that I want. That's the way I'm feeling right now.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A slip-up as a victory

I don't know what came over me yesterday. It was my 11th day of trying to follow the Medifast plan very closely and it was working out well for me. I had lost 7lbs in the first week but I had stayed there for the next 3 days so I guess that was getting kind of frustrating. I never planned to go off of the plan to the extent I did but something just came over me and made me think it was a good idea. I also was more hungry than normal yesterday, probably because I had ridden my bike first thing in the morning. And I was also a bit bored and restless, which never helps. The combination of factors definitely added up and lead to this incident. I ate 1 spoonful of nutella, a super thin slice of a spice-bread, and 3 bites of apple pie. All in all, maybe it was an extra few hundred calories, if that. As soon as I had my little "binge" my first thought was that I had ruined my day and really should go down the road to Dairy Queen and get an ice cream. And then, my second thought was that maybe I had fallen off the wagon a little but it wasn't THAT bad and eating more stuff I know I don't really want wasn't going to make me feel better. This is a huge success in my book because I really cannot remember a time in the past that I've diverged from whatever my "plan" is and then gotten right back on track like it never happened. Normally it would be a spiral of junk food with the promise to myself that I'd get back on board the next day. And of course that one day would have undone all the progress I'd made up to that point and I'd be starting over and discouraged. This time was so different! Something shifted and did what I knew I should do instead of what my silly emotions were telling me in the moment. I woke up this morning and weighed and I am back to 187.4, from 186.8 where I'd been holding steady for a few days. But so what? I'm recommitted to my plan more than ever today and the best part is having the experience of straying slightly and not letting it become a runaway train. Each time I can do this it will make the next time a little easier and more natural. And of course there will be a next time. There will always be another time when I decide to eat something that isn't the best choice. But I can decide to do that and then continue eating well or I can decide to do that and let my entire day, week, or life go to "I-don't-care-land". I think learning to do the former is a much better option. So, I am really happy with my slip up experience and proud of myself.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Something to be proud of

The past 10 days I have not been perfect but I have been really, really good and feeling better and better about myself all the time so it's something to celebrate. Most importantly, I seem to have rediscovered that "will power" or whatever it is when my head is in the right place to do this. I feel as though I am back on the right track and that's really important to me. I see myself differently when I look in the mirror than I did just a week ago. Being in control of what I'm eating has a way of doing that to me. I wish that the scale would move more quickly. Don't I always wish that? I weighed in on Sunday 7/29 at 194.4 and today I'm 186.6. It's been so long since it consistently moved in the downward direction that I've forgotten some of the patience it takes to go a few days without any numeric progress. I keep reminding myself that as long as it's staying the same or moving down at all, then I must be doing something right. Last night I was lying in bed and could feel my ribs. I really think this is the first time in my life I've experienced that. For one thing, it's weird. I started thinking, "are they really that close to the surface that I can feel each individual bone? I'm not that thin. I still feel as though I've got plenty of padding to be lost. But maybe not in my ribcage area at least. I've probably said this before but it always strikes me as interesting and amusing that despite losing any amount of weight, there is just nothing I can do to change my large bone structure. Not that I'd want to but it just goes so counter to what I always believed. I thought if I could just lose enough weight, I'd be tiny. One of the things hitting home for me is that I am never going to be tiny. Learning not just to "accept" but to admire my structural largeness is an evolving journey but I think I'm getting better at it.