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Dieting isn’t that different from Astrology

Dieting isn’t that different from Astrology

As of this morning, I am on a diet.

Well, no, not really.  It’s more like I’m resetting my eating.  But I’m using the South Beach model to get me going,  because good food decisions just feel so overwhelming these days.  It’s probably appropriate that I’m starting this of all weeks, as it was a year ago this week that I went completely off the rails in a combination of stress and anxiety eating.  But it has to stop.  None of my clothes fit, and I’m back to not liking how I look in pictures.  This weekend I did all my shopping, this morning I got on the scales for my starting weight, and off we go.

As I was looking over all the lists and plans and menus for this system, though, I started to realize something.  Really, the SB diet is just the diet they gave me once I was released back to real food after my surgery.  Lean protein, lots of veggies, low carbs and sugar.  It wasn’t anything I didn’t know, I just couldn’t see the forest for the trees.  By stepping out of my head, all the mental clutter that was getting in my way, I was able to see that I knew what I needed to do and put away all that extra stuff.

Which of course made me think of astrology.

No, don’t leave.  I’m not one of those people who reads their horoscope every morning (mostly because those are too general to be of any use whatsoever). But I did study astrology, and tarot, and in the end, I realized the value of both those tools isn’t that they tell us truth, but they take use out of the clutter of our minds to look in different ways at whatever the issue is we are trying to address.  A reader will give you all their thoughts on the symbols and patterns they see in the cards, and then you try to make sense of them given your own knowledge of the situation.  And maybe you realize soemthing that you hadn’t been allowing yourself to consider before.  Or maybe it brings you around to an entirely new angle on your problem to give you an a-ha moment.  That didn’t come from the cards.  That came from you narrowing your focus, blocking out the extraneous for those few moments it takes to think “How does that piece of symbolism actually reflect in this situation?”  It comes from you.  You were just in your own way.

I think diets are the same way.  “Diets” don’t work.  Everyone knows that (or I hope they do).  Fad diets especially don’t work.  I get into this with my mother occassionally.  BUT.  The change in thinking that starting a diet brings, the analysis of “what am I doing now and what do I need to change” that comes with a new diet, THAT insight does work.  It resets your brain, as long as you understand that the diet, like the stars or the cards, are not telling you truth, they are changing your perception.

So here I go.  Starting Phase 1 today with some modifications and exceptions.  I have to eat protein first and not the high volume of veggies that this plan requires, and I have one meal coming up that is totally out of my control (plus Thanksgiving.  Oof.), so I’m going to do Phase 1 the whole month of November with those exceptions and see where I’m at from there.


Confidence in Insecurity

Confidence in Insecurity


I’m entering a phase of my weight loss process that I somehow thought I’d skipped but which is making it’s presence felt forcefully now.

I don’t know who I am anymore.

This is pretty common among folks who have gone through weight loss surgery. A lot changes when you lose that much weight.  It can be dumb, simple things like suddenly having too many options on what to wear.  When there are only two stores you can buy clothes in, your fashion options are limited.  Getting under a size 16 is kind of overwhelming (and I’m down to a 10!).  Some people lose friendships and relationships because of the weight loss. Our identities have evolved around us being heavy.  Most of us have been heavy from a fairly young age (I was overweight by 19, obese by 25), so all we know of ourselves is filtered through that lens.  I know I still think like a fat girl in a lot of ways.  Wehn I go out running, I have my headphones on and my music loud so I don’t hear the jeers and catcalls that I would get every time I exercised out in public while heavy. I used to get them all the time, whenever I was out on a bike or trying (and failing) to run, some complete stranger would feel entitled to make a comment about my fitness and my right to work out where someone might see me.  Except now they don’t come.  Cars don’t slow.  People I pass smile at me.  I’m tense and defensive for no reason.  At least no current reason.  Just 20 years of experience that doesn’t apply anymore, apparently.

My interests and activities have changed.  Not all of that is entirely on me.  I’ve had to give up a lot of evenings in the last few months to help the kids slog through their backlog of homework.  That will go away in a few weeks (hallelujah), but even then, things have changed.  I don’t write anymore.  I’d like to, I miss it quite a lot, but I just don’t have the fire to do it anymore.  This from the woman who was writing scenes while waiting to get wheeled in for cancer surgery 3 years ago.  I don’t knit as much.  I’m still spinning, but not regularly, and I’ve finished 2 knitting projects in the past six months.  I still like to knit, I just…I don’t know.  Don’t make the time for it?

I’m a runner now.  Like, a little bit obsessively.  I run 3-4 times a week, every other day religiously.  When I have down time, I’m reading running websites.  Thursday I will finish my Couch to 5K training.  Finish it, where when I tried it two years ago, I couldn’t get off day 1 despite running it every other day for a month.  I can run almost 15 minutes without stopping.  When I’m on a rest day, I often find myself disappointed as I WANT to go out and run.  Which is madness. I know a lot of it is the shiny newness of it.  Whenever I take anything new on, I throw myself in headfirst, learn as much as I can, practice as much as I can.  But this is *running*.  Exercise.  My eternal nemesis even in high school.  I just don’t even know.

One of my coworkers told me the other day that I look tiny.  Which I know she meant as a compliment, and I took it as such at the time.  But thinking about it made me feel…small.  Like I wasn’t big enough physically to back up the badass personality I’ve kind of cultivated for myself.  My brain, which still thinks like a fat chick, remember, is trying to understand what being thin means.  Assumptions I’d always had about how people would respond to me and what expectations I would have to work against aren’t true any more, and I don’t know what the new expectations are.

The thought of dating again is truly terrifying.  Not that I’m ready for that, but…

I know this sounds like a lot of whining, and a little bit it is.  But it’s also the process of WLS, letting go of the past and trying to define a new self.  I don’t even know where I’m going with this.  I like who I am physically now.  Well, the boobs could be a little perkier and the belly a little flatter.  But I can run. Actually, flat out run.  For fun.  Because it feels good.  The last time running felt good to me was in the 5th grade when we did the President’s Physical Fitness challenge and I beat the fastest girl in the grade in the mile.  That was a loooooong time ago.  I’m glad to have these new things, but I miss some of the old things, too.  Maybe I’ll write again, when there isn’t so much pressure on me.  It’s happened before.  And slowly bits and pieces of me will get reintegrated in new ways, or new things will come up to take the place of the old.  I’ll find my new normal.

But right now, I feel more than a little adrift, and it’s tempting to go back to where it was comfortable instead of forward into something new.

Happy Surgiversary!

Happy Surgiversary!

One year ago today, I was waking up from my bariatric surgery.  And no one could bring me my damn glasses.

A lot can change in a year.  I’ve lost 75 pounds postsurgery (115 since I started the whole process), and my BMI has gone from 42 to 27.5.  My pulse and blood pressure were always pretty good and haven’t changed much.  I’m still waiting on all my lab results.  But some things you don’t need a test for.

Pre-surgery me Me 1 year post

Yeah, I’m different.  When he called me for my birthday, Ben asked if I felt any different at 48 than 47.  Um, YEAH.  When we were at the cabin, Mom said she can definitely tell I have more energy.  And it’s true, even though there are times I still don’t feel it.  But when you consider that in the last three months I replaced a kitchen floor and painted the woodwork, stripped and painted the dining room, deep cleaned the whole first floor of the house, laid a new sidewalk, purged over 1200 gallons of stuff out of the basement and, oh yeah, raised 3 kids on my own, yeah, I think there’s energy going on there.

My one year appointment was yesterday, and they told me I’ll probably lose for about 6 more months.  Which I’m fine with.  I really only want to lose about 15 more pounds.  That will leave me a little room for the inevitable bounceback everyone experiences when they start maintaining.  But I’m eating now about the way I will during maintenance, and I’m happy with it.  The nutritionist said if I wanted to lose more, I’d need to reduce the number of calories I’m taking in, but I think that would lead to a bad mental state of deprivation and number chasing.  If I didn’t lose another pound, I’d be satisfied.  Honestly, I *think* I weigh less than my mother right now, and I’m almost 50.  Just how skinny do I need to be, and will that make my life better?  I don’t think so.  So if it happens, it does, but if it doesn’t, that’s okay, too.

The one piece I haven’t got in place is the exercise.  Both the nutritionist and the nurse practitioner reinforced to me that exercise won’t help with the weight loss, but it will help with maintenance, and honestly I just WANT to be able to do it.  Finding the time is hard, though, with the kids doing so many activities, so I have to figure out how to carve out the time.  Running is easier, but I like it less.  I want to get the bike going again, but that means getting to the Y and learning how to ride the damn spin bike without killing myself until it’s warm enough to get outside again.  No resolutions.  Again, resolutions are bad mental juju, but plans.  I’m getting good at plans.

This me even accomplishes them!


Six Months

Six Months

It’s been a little more than six months since my gastric bypass surgery.  It seems to have made a little difference…

Pre-surgery meJuly 21, 2014 174 pounds

That’s 90 pounds down since I started on this path last August, 60 since the surgery.  It’s slowed down to about a pound a week, but it is still going, which is all I can ask.  I want to lose another 40 pounds, but even if I stopped tomorrow, I would be pretty happy with how it’s gone.

I’ve also started to realize that, as far as content went, I usually ate pretty healthy pre-surgery.  Not the soda, obviously, and when I’d have a treat, I’d really overdo it, but we rarely had dessert, and I’m not a big chip/snack eater.  I’ve been putting a lot of my old stand-by recipes through the food calculator, and they actually come out within a reasonable calorie range per serving.  My problem was always that I would eat 3-4 servings.  I used to joke that the best diet in the world would be to only eat the serving sizes on the food labels.  Which was patently ridiculous.  Those amounts weren’t reasonable.  A person would starve to death doing that.  5 ravioli?  Really?  Well, guess what?  The serving sizes were right, and it’s my head that was wrong, with my stomach eager to help out.  Now the serving size indication is spot on, and I’m learning to live with it.

My clinic is pleased with my progress.  There’s a new dietician on staff, and I really like her.  She’s very pragmatic and honest with me.  She gave me some useful information about why some rules are set, which made it easier to know when and how to break them (my life philosophy).  Like I don’t have to get 65+ grams of protein.  45 is enough, but the higher amounts are better UP TO A POINT.  After that she said the body will encapsulate it and store it, which we don’t want.  So I don’t stress the days I don’t quite make 65.  I’m always close, and usually I hit 80 or higher.  That will balance out the days I go low.  My biggest concern was hydration and eating while exercising, especially on longer bike rides.  the rule is no drinking half an hour on either side of eating, but if I’m riding, I need to stay hydrated and still keep my energy up.  She said 5 minutes before (to give it time to move out of my pouch) and 20 minutes after (to let the food move through) is fine.  so again, I’m sticking to the rules, but now I have a better sense of how to bend them when I need to.  I go back to see them in January for my one year follow-up.  Scary/exciting to see where I’ll be then!

The other thing I did was I finally purged my entire wardrobe.  That was painful.  Five(?) years ago, I dragged Nikki with me to Lane Bryant to help me get some new clothes that looked good on me.  At the time I’d just gotten laid off thanks to the banking collapse, so I was job hunting in a brutal economy.  Because of that, and because I was collecting a very nice severance, I was home a lot, and watched a LOT of What Not to Wear while knitting and waiting for the kids to come home.  I don’t consider that time wasted, as I learned a lot and was much better prepared to dress myself.  Between us we picked out some really nice pieces, including a silk print skirt that I never would have tried but which Nikki insisted on.  These clothes had a lot of memories.  My power red dress shirt I wore like armor whenever I had to face down the psycho-boss.  The striped shirts with gold thread woven through it to bling it up.  The stretchy kimono dress that was so dressy and yet so comfortable.

It all went.

Before the purgeAfter the purge

I was ruthless.  If it wasn’t a size 16 or below, it went in the trashbag.  The comfy shorts went.  The brand new bathing suit went.  All those beautiful dress shirts went.  I’d forgotten about the denim skirt with the ruffle.  Into the bag.  I got rid of all the pajamas except the two cotton sleep shirts (because those are supposed to be big).  I kept a couple of fleeces just because they’re good for winter cabinning since I need to have layers underneath.  The fandom t-shirts stayed, but I can alter those.  The other t-shirts, all gone.  See those baskets?  All but the bottom two are pretty much empty.  Ready to start over.

Which I did in a big way.  What kicked this off was that I tried on a pair of size 14 jeans from my hope chest, and they fit easily.  Okay then, thought I, I’ll need another pair, and a pair of slacks, if I can find them in petites.  Time to go to the thrift store.  And maybe I’ll pick up one or two tops that fit at the same time.  Famous last words.  I came home with a pair of jeans, a pair of slacks, a pair of shorts, two pairs of pajama bottoms (one for now, one for later), and SIXTEEN tops.  Plus three outfits for Hero and a pair of Heelys.  All for $150.  We’re encouraged not to buy a lot of clothes during the weight loss phase, because we won’t be able to wear them for long.  But honestly, I’m only likely to go down two more sizes, and everything I’ve got fits pretty closely now, so I think these will get me through the next six months before I start looking at my likely final sizes.  And since I ditched everything else, I need SOMETHING to wear.

The best thing about this is that I’m actually finally getting to reassert my own style.  When you’re a plus size, unless you sew for yourself, you’re limited to what the big girl stores think you should be wearing.  Well, as is the strikhedonista way, I didn’t WANT to be wearing what they told me to.  I have a lot more choices now.  there’s definitely a trend developing, though.  Lots of ethnic prints, a hint of sparkle, surprisingly close fitting.  I did get a couple of khaki/beige sweaters, but that’s just so I can  wear them with shmancy skirts without going overboard.  A lot of cotton and silk, a little bit of lace and spandex, and surprisingly a LOT of red.  About a third of what I got was some shade of red or another, although I did hit the full spectrum except for green.  So that’s all good.  And I just realized I can go into any store and find a belt that fits me.  A women’s sized belt.  That’s…wow.

Now I really need to talk with Mom about sewing me a vest out of my weaving pieces, though.  It would go perfectly with this wardrobe.


The Weight Thing

The Weight Thing

For those of you who don’t know me, let me tell you that I am a big girl.  And not just in personality.  but when I topped out at 275 pounds last year, I decided it was time to do something about it.  I’ve done diets both sane and not so sane, and I’ve struggled with how relatively unsupportive society is when you are overweight.  But during the course of my cancer treatments two years ago and some of the reports that come across my desk as part of my day job, I started learning more and more about bariatric surgery.  After a LOT of thought (and making sure my insurance covered it), I decided to have it done.

You don’t just decide to do it and get it done the next week.  You basically have to prove yourself before you have WLS (weight loss surgery).  Different insurers require different lengths of time.  Mine wanted 3 months of what’s called medical weight management, where basically you’re on a restricted diet to prove that you can follow the directions you’ll be given.  Anyone who tells you that WLS is the easy way out of being overweight has their heads up their asses.  You still have to do all the same things that people who lose weight by dieting do, with the added fun of throwing up if you eat to much, getting horribly sick if you eat much (or any) sugar, the potential to become lactose intolerant and all the usual fun risks of any surgery.  But I needed it.  So I opted for the full gastric bypass, did my medical weight management, my psych tests, my nutrition classes, my exercise program, sleep studies, etc. etc.  And five months ago last week, I had the surgery done.

WLS 060924

I have lost 50 pounds in that time, and 80 since I started the process back in August.  It hasn’t been easy.  The first six weeks were pure hell, and even now I’m still making mistakes or being surprised by things I shouldn’t eat (really can’t do even small amounts of bread or pasta.  Makes me nauseous.  Potatoes are fine, though.  Go figure.)  But it was totally worth it.  I’ve gone from a size 26 to a size 16.  I confuse my jeans with my kids’ because they’re so small.  I just bought new bras for the first time since I was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago.  That had gone down two band sizes, and went down another one in the two weeks I had them.  My biggest ah-HA moment so far has been realizing that I don’t need to unbuckle my seatbelt to bend down and take off the parking brake in my van.  And I’m realizing again that I have legs.  That’s going to sound bizarre, because of course I *knew* I had legs.  I dress them every day and walk on them and fold them under me when I’m sitting on the couch.  But my legs have always been my least favorite feature, and as I got bigger, I just started ignoring them.  I dressed them in the most plain, boring way possible (loose jeans, brown slacks), rarely shaved them, never put lotion on them unless it itched, just basically did my best to pretend my body started just above my butt.  But now, they aren’t long, but they look long to me because the jeans fit closer.  I do take care of them more.  I actually want to sit out and sunbathe to get some color in them so they aren’t as fishbelly white.  My body sense is starting to change.  I have 50 pounds more to go.  It will be interesting to see where the rest of the journey takes me.

One thing I do need to get better at, though, is the activity piece.  The last six weeks have been a roller coaster as far as that goes.  I started taking a boxing class, which I really enjoy, but then stuff with the kids came crashing down and ate all my free time, so I haven’t been in weeks, and likely won’t again before the end of the school year.  I have been doing 3-4 hours a week of heavy reconstructive gardening, though.  Lots of heavy lifting, down on my knees, up to my elbows in the dirt gardening.  Except for toting a couple of bales of hay around, though, that’s done now for the season, and it’s just weeding and training now, so I’ll have to come up with something to replace that.  The biking has been very hit and miss.  I’ve taken the kids out on two long(ish) rides, once around Valley Forge Park (4 miles) and once up and down a section of the Delaware Canal Trail near us (13.5 miles).  Hills are still my nemesis, which is what has been keeping me from riding to and from the Y for work the last few weeks.  That and the fact that I needed the van after work to go pick up heavy bags of dirt and groceries.  So again, I have to get that back on track.  And I committed to starting C25K again when I reached 185 pounds.  I’m as good as there, so next week I’m starting, and taking Junior Junior with me, kicking and screaming presumably.  I have no idea if it will go any better this time than last time, but having taken 85 pounds of stress off my knee can’t have hurt any.  And I’m picking a better, flatter route, so that will hopefully help as well.  We’ll see!