Monthly Archives: June 2013

All Or Nothing

I have been thinking today about my problem foods.  There are some foods that I used to eat for which I have little or no control.  I consider them my “all-or-nothing” foods, meaning my only choices were to eat all of it or none of it, there was never any in between.

Now that I have had the gastric by-pass, eating all of something is hardly possible.  I mean, yeah, I could retrain and re-stretch my new smaller stomach to gradually accept larger and larger amounts of food, including sugary starchy foods that make me sick, but that is a ridiculous option.  That will make the money, time, and work that I put into my 112 pound weight loss a wasted venture.  Yes, people have done it and regained much of the weight that they lost.  I have to admit that I live in constant fear that will happen to me.

So, what is different for me now?  What makes me think I will be able to complete my journey successfully and never look back?

To be honest, I do not know that I will be able to.  One thing I do know though is that I never want to go back to being as sick as I was.  I love my life now.  I had lost ability to walk any kind of a distance, do the things I wanted to do, and live my life the way I wanted to live.

Now, I can walk just about anywhere I want.  My back and asthma are not even an issue.  I do not tire as easily.  I am not as worried about my heart and overall health as I was.   Yes, I still love delicious food and I still struggle with cravings and the urge to over eat from time to time.  But I feel as if I mostly have things under control.

The gastric by-pass has given me a tool to help control my desire to overeat.  Also, my new lifestyle has really given me hope for the future, a hope I did not have before.

That said, here are some of the foods which have given me problems in the past.  For me, eating these foods was an all or nothing proposition.  I may not have eaten all of it in one sitting, but I would have kept going back to it all day until there was nothing left.  It didn’t matter that I might not even be hungry, all that mattered was it was there.

  • Pizza
  • Potato chips and dip
  • Corn chips and salsa
  • Nutter Butters and as a subset of the peanut butter cookie categorie
  • peanut butter cookies with chocolate kiss on top
  • ok pretty much any cookie just about
  • rotisserie chicken
  • chicken wings
  • baked chicken drumsticks

These are what I call trigger foods.  Usually something happens that triggers an eating binge and these are usually the first foods that I eat to satisfy that urge to binge.

Do you have any all-or-nothing foods?  What are they?

#IAmNotADisease Should Be #IAmNotACharacterFlaw: The AMA’s War On Obesity

OK, so last week I wrote a post in support of the AMA’s decision to call obesity a disease.  I still stand by that.  The medical community has long recognized Anorexia and Bulimia as diseases and developed treatments for people with those illnesses.  Obesity, on the other hand, has always been treated as a character flaw and not something that should be medically treated.

Insurance companies have refused to reimburse doctors for treatment.  Many doctors’ only discussions with their obese patients is basically, “You should lose weight,” and then the patient is kind of left on their own to wade through the morass of diet products and schemes.

The consensus of some people seems to be that the medical community is only looking to make a buck.  Maybe so.  But, would I rather leave obese people looking for answers on late-night TV infomercials instead of talking to their doctor?  And maybe having their insurance company pay for them to seek help?  Maybe go to a nutritionist?  Find an exercise plan that works for them?  In extreme cases, find a medical solution that may include surgery or medication?

There are many people out there who advocate for fat acceptance, and I agree with them.  They rightly point out that there are many people who are larger who are quite healthy.  But many who are obese have serious medical problems.  I know I did.  And my obesity was killing me.  Instead of treating the symptoms of obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart problems, organ problems, sleep apnea, etc., why not just treat the illness itself?  I’m tired of people treating obesity as if it is different from any other illness.  As long as the obese person is seen as the problem, the treatments people need will remain elusive and inconsistent.

There has to be a middle ground somewhere.  I still think the AMA made the right choice.  I would rather fight a war against obesity than a war against those who are obese, which is where I feel we are now.

Tummy Of Fire

Today has been rough.  Not one of my better days, to be sure.  When I woke up this am, I really had to go.  I thought it was going to be one of those situations where I ran to the bathroom only to sit there and be constipated.  It took a while, but I was not constipated, thank goodness.  I felt better and got ready for work.

While I was waiting for the bus, I felt as if I had to go again.  At this point, there was nothing that I could do.  So, I proceeded with my commute.  I had my work laptop with me today, which is quite heavy.  My back was killing me.  Now my tummy was on fire.  And I had a bit of a headache.  I stopped at my normal coffee place and grabbed my morning cup and proceeded to the office.

When I arrived at the office, I had to run to the ladies room.  Oh my goodness, I sick.  I did not actually vomit or anything, but I thought I might.  I didn’t think I would ever stop going, though.  And the whole time, my tummy was just burning.  It felt as if the gas was backing up into my stomach.  Finally, I started feeling better after about five minutes.  I went and got a cool glass of water and sat in my office with my head on my desk.

Now, here’s where I admit to this being all my fault because I was somewhat bad yesterday.

Yesterday my family celebrated the 4th anniversary of my niece’s adoption.  June 23 is the date the courts officially made her their child.  I met them in DC at the Smithsonian Museums and we went to see the dinosaurs and bugs at the Natural History Museum.  That’s her favorite museum.  She loves the dinos and insects.  Zero interest in the butterflies, but high interest in spiders and other bugs.  Not my favorite part of the museum, but it was her special day.  Her second favorite is the Air & Space Museum, but mostly because they have a McDonald’s.  As a result, we try not to take her to the Air & Space Museum too often.

Before they arrived, I stopped in the American History Museum and picked up a gift for her.  I bought a card that looked like a pair of ruby slippers and a small red VW Bug that was covered in flowers.  She loved them.  I knew she would love the ruby slippers because she already has a pair.  She has never really seen The Wizard of Oz, so she does not really get the whole ruby slippers thing yet.  She loves shoes and she loves the color red, so that was good enough for her.

I took a picture of the actual ruby slippers, which was super cool for me.

gabbyAnd I took a picture of Gabby Douglas’s gold medal outfit.  So cool.


I was having a lot of fun wandering around that museum.  I definitely think this is one my niece would enjoy, especially after she gets just a little bit older.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that she enjoys the natural world, bugs and all.  She really gets into learning all of the dinosaurs names.  She enjoys the dioramas when we explain to all of the details.  The one dinosaur diorama actually had dino footprints.  I pointed that out to her and she was thrilled.  It was so cute.  She also loved the fish tanks with all of the different fishes and plants.  She had fun trying to match the different fish and plants to the pictures under the tank.  And she let out a squee of delight when she got to see a tarantula eat a cricket.



We also found Nemo:


Well, a group of Clown Fish anyway.

Now onto the bad part of my day.  After the morning of museums, we went out to lunch.  We went to the Mexican restaurant in my neighborhood.  I ordered Huevos Rancheros, which is eggs, salsa, refried beans, and cheese.  That’s a pretty rich dish.  I should have just gotten fajitas or something, but I am not sure it was the Huevos that made me sick.  I think it was the tortilla chips.

I had a little bit of chips and salsa.   Then I had the Huevos Rancheros.  I could not even eat 1/4 of it.  It took a long time before I was able to eat dinner and then I had saltine pizzas, which is basically tomato sauce and a bit of cheese on a saltine that I then nuke for about 10 seconds.

I know.  I know.  You don’t have to tell me.  This morning’s wave of sickness all my fault.  Ugh.  Remind me never to do that again.

Non Scale Victories

Several other WLS bloggers that I follow talk about NSVs or non-scale victories.  These are victories, or milestones that have been achieved due to weight loss that have are not measured on a scale.  I guess I kind of have as well, I just have not labeled them NSVs.

My NSVs  mean a lot to me because my lifestyle has really changed since my surgery in October of last year.  I think I have made great progress, even though my weight loss has kind of plateaued.  I am bummed about that, but I still feel good about what I have achieved so far.

  • I dropped 112 pounds.
  • I’m only 61 pounds from my goal weight.
  • I went down from a size 32 to a size 14-16.
  • I can walk.
  • I can breathe.
  • I can walk and breathe at the same time.
  • I can walk a long, long time before I have to take a break and rest.
  • I feel more confident.
  • I feel healthier.
  • My blood pressure is normal without medications.
  • My cholesterol is normal.
  • My triglycerides are normal.
  • My back hurts a lot less.
  • My feet hurt a lot less and do not swell quite as much or as often.
  • I’ve noticed guys checking me out.  
  • I suddenly do not feel invisible.
  • I can stand on the metro without severe back pain.
  • I can run to catch a metro train if I am running late.
  • I sometimes run across the street.
  • I walk through my neighborhood on an almost daily basis.

Before the surgery, I was very sick and had great difficulty walking and breathing.  I was pretty heavily medicated for my blood pressure.  I had managed to get my cholesterol under control, but my triglycerides were off the charts high.   I feared that my poor little heart would give out on me.  And I felt just awful all of the time.  

I may not have hit my goal weight yet, and maybe I never will.  But I am so happy with the progress that I have made and I feel great!

OH!  And I colored my hair using the professional stuff my sister used a few months ago.  I think I did a pretty good job.


Life, Rebooted!

This past week has been fantastic.  Every day I am more and more amazed at what I can do, thanks to my 112 pound weight loss, which seems to have stalled-out recently.  At least I’m holding strong though and not going back up!

As I posted yesterday, my friends Liz & Steve have been visiting.  Well, yesterday, they went to the Smithsonian Museums with their girls.  I work in DC about 4 stops from the museums metro station, which is conveniently called Smithsonian.  I walked the 5 blocks to Farragut West, got myself turned around because I do not often go to that station.  Hopped off at the Smithsonian Station and  walked over to the Air and Space Museum, which had just closed for the day, and waited outside for my friends.  Then we took the metro and bus back to my hood where they were having a jazz concert/wine tasting and dined at the inimitable Busboys & Poets.


Then we walked around Shirlington some more.  My friends bought some cheese from Cheesetique.  And we walked back up the hill to my apartment.

A year ago, I could not have done all of this walking.  I would have gone home from work, probably by car.  Then I would have waited at my apartment for my friends to call me.  I would have had to drive the 4 blocks to the restaurant, parked, ate, and then drive back home.  I would have been in horrible pain, have difficulty breathing, and would have been just miserable.

Today, I think nothing of aimlessly wandering all over the darn place.  Plus, I was able to enjoy jazz, good friends, and good food!  I truly feel as if my life has been rebooted.

Tonight, more jazz at the Sculpture Garden!

Old Friends and New

Yesterday, a couple of my college friends from the University of Maryland came to DC for a visit.  They currently reside in Delaware.  They married each other as soon as they graduated and they now have two precious little girls, ages 8 and 10, to which I can only say, “OMG they are 8 and 10 already?!”

They wanted to bring the girls to DC to see some of the Smithsonian museums and visit with some of their friends, especially Miss Colleen whom they have not seen in about four years.  It’s been so long that the girls do not even remember me, which is sad.

Liz & Steve contacted me last week and asked me if I knew of an inexpensive place to stay close to DC.  They have family in Maryland, but they are in Baltimore, which is kind of far.  I told them that my apartment building has a guest suite for $100 per night, which is cheaper than anything they will find hotel-wise considering DC is a high-priced market for hotels.  To this they said, “Book ’em, Dano!”

They arrived late yesterday afternoon, which was perfect for me since I had to work yesterday.  I pulled into my parking lot just as they were unloading the car.  Liz was already inside.  I pulled in next to Steve and the girls and hopped out of the car.  Immediately, the youngest girl Sarah, testing my cool factor, asked, “Do you like Harry Potter?”  Not hello.  Not nice to meet you.  “Do you like Harry Potter?”

To which I replied conspiratorially, “I do like Harry Potter!  Do you like Harry Potter?”

“I love Harry Potter!” she replied.  Having passed her rigorous examination of my taste in books, she then shared with me every facet of her love of said stories.  All.  Night.  Long.

After getting them settled, I showed them my apartment, and both girls were very excited to see my four bookshelves filled with books, which they immediately scanned for proof of my interest in the great HP, while I changed into more casual clothes.  Then we walked down to the village to find a good restaurant for dinner.


We went to a Chinese restaurant, which was wonderful.  We talked for a good long time.  It was nice.  I haven’t seen Liz & Steve in forever.  They are great fun.  Then I mentioned a place the girls would just love.  I mentioned Cake Love, which sells cupcakes and cake pops in addition to regular cakes.  This is an awesome place.  As soon as I said cupcakes, Ellie, their older daughter, turned and looked at me, her whole face lit up and said, “Cupcakes?!”  Then she turned to parents and said, “Can we get cupcakes?”  To which, they replied, “Thanks a lot, Colleen.”  Hey, anytime, guys.

We took a good long walk through my neighborhood, stopping to get cupcakes of course.  Cake Love is right by the Shirlington Library and the Signature Theatre.  Liz, becoming increasingly jealous of my neighborhood turned to Steve and said, “A nice walkable neighborhood.  A theatre.  A library.  A bike path.  Wonderful restaurants.  Honey sell your dental practice and let’s move here!”


Ellie, too excited for words, looked at me and said, “Can we go in the library?”  I was astounded.  Her level of exuberance was off the charts.  One would have expected her to be saying, “Can we visit Hogwarts?”  She was that excited.  About the library.

Sarah chimed in with, “Yeah, let’s go to the library!”

“Your girls are book nerds!”  I said to my friends.  “Awesome!”  Kindred spirits, all of them.  Both are big readers and Liz is a former librarian, which explains the girls’ love of the library.

In the doorway of the library, they keep a stash of old books that the library is selling.  Ellie holds up an encyclopedic style book and says, “Look mom!  Pompeii!”  I was cracking up.  I remembered being obsessed with Pompeii, when I was just about her age.  But don’t worry, she is still a kid with kid interests.  She expressed the same level of excitement when she asked if she could borrow a book, “Look mom!  Fairies!”

They bought a selection of book from the front.  Sadly, no books were borrowed.

Now, my writer’s group meets on Wednesday, and this week, they were meeting at the Shirlington Library.  If they saw me wandering around the library, I’m sure they were thinking, “WTF?”  I did see them at the end of the meeting as I was watching the girls outside near the fountains while their parents picked up some food at the grocery store.

They also loved these yarn-bombs which are all over Shirlington.


Before that, however, we walked on the bike path for while and I gave them the grand tour of my neighborhood.  There are rent-a-bike’s on the path, which they were also thrilled about.  Then we walked back up the hill and played games for a bit.

I just love their girls.  They are so funny.  They talked nonstop from the moment I got out of my car until I went back to my apartment to sleep.  I think I maybe understood 1/3 of what they said, but I loved every second of it.  I cannot believe I have missed the last four years of their lives.  I will not be making that mistake again.  And it was great to see Liz & Steve, too.

I was so exhausted, I passed out cold at 1130pm.  But I had a great time!  We plan to meet for dinner tonight after my second writer’s group.  I cannot wait!

That’s Right…Obesity Is A Disease

Today, the American Medical Association (AMA) came out and stated that obesity is a disease.  This is a pretty big deal.  This means that obesity can be medically treated as the disease that it is and not just treated as a character flaw.  All I can say is it is about freaking time.  Eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia have long been treated as illnesses, but obesity has always been viewed as a deficit in the character of the obese individual.

I do not know what the full implications will mean, what insurance will be required to cover, etc., but this is a big step and one that I hope will lead to effective treatments for people struggling with obesity.  The Today Show did a nice little piece about this very exciting bit of news this morning.




I know my personal experience with fighting obesity is complex.  Often doctors just said, “please lose weight.” Or asked, “What are you doing to lose weight?”  Now doctors will be able to look at you like an individual and work on a weight loss plan with you or recommend you to someone who can.  Insurance companies, in the past, have refused to pay doctor bills for my annual physical because the doctor added, “patient should lose weight” to their comments in my file.  The reason the insurance company used to deny payment was, “plan does not cover weight loss treatments.”  It didn’t matter that this was my annual physical, which was theoretically covered under the plan.

If insurances agencies and company benefit plans can be compelled to offer obesity treatments in their benefit packages, that would be great.  Many companies that provide insurance to their employees already try to offer incentives for people to improve their health.  Making obesity treatment and prevention part of the benefit package would really increase the likelihood people will be able to make those adjustments.  This would also hopefully remove some of the stigma attached to obesity and help many people receive appropriate healthy treatment.

I think this is a big health victory for Americans and could really go a long way to making it possible for people to receive proper treatment and preventative care for obesity.

Awesome Saturday

So far, today has been pretty great.  I made plans with a friend of mine to do a morning walk along the bike path.  I got up, had breakfast and walked down the hill to the shops and met her.  Then, we walked for more than an hour on the bike path.  I rewarded myself with a nice large steaming cup of cappuccino with cinnamon sprinkled on top.  Isn’t everything just better with cinnamon sprinkled on top?  Even chocolate, which really does not need improvement at all, tastes a teeny bit better with some cinnamon.


Then I walked back home and showered, changed, and went back out to buy beauty supplies so that I can color my hair later this weekend.  Then we went to lunch at Busboys & Poets where I had about 1/3 of a cobb salad.  OMG yum!

Now I’m going to rest for a bit and wait for my sister to call me.  She and I are supposed to do something today.  If she bails, I am going to an art show with a different friend of mine.  At some point, I really should take a nap I think.  But I feel so good, as if I have accomplished so much!  I never could have done this much so early in the day before.

I really do love my new life!

Am I Enough?

Last night I had a very long conversation with one of my gamer friends about why I stopped gaming.  He was calling BS on the fact that gaming is a problem for me.  Mostly because he would like me to really get into Guild Wars 2.

We had a great gaming-social network back in our WoW days and I think he wants to try to re-create that in GW2.  He misses the camaraderie of our group.  We played pvp (player vs. player) battles.  Our faction, the Alliance, battled against players who made up the other faction, the Horde.  Our group extended beyond our Alliance team.  We were also friends with many of the people who played Horde characters.  We talked back and forth on the message boards and we joined each others vent chats.  (pre-Skype voice chat program).  We had a lot of fun.

He misses that, and frankly I do too.  I just cannot bring myself to game right now.  I may never again, at least not at the same level I did before.

He is a recovering alcoholic and has been doing the 12-step thing for about 15 years or so.  And I have talked about my battle with food on this blog as if it was an addiction.  I feel that for me, it is.  He wanted to understand how I felt gaming was part of the problem.

He thought I was blaming WoW for making me fat, which is what he was calling BS.  I was not and I do not blame World of Warcraft for my obesity.  I was fat before I started gaming.  I have only myself to blame for that situation, (my mother will be greatly relieved to hear that).

Here is my problem with gaming: avoidance.  While playing games, I ignored all of my other problems.  I allowed the game to consume all of my time so that I didn’t have to deal with my life falling apart around me.  I did not want to deal with my financial problems or my health problems, so I immersed myself in an imaginary world where my characters were powerful, capable, and financially solvent.

Gaming didn’t stop my other problems from getting out of control and taking over my life.  Gaming didn’t make my real life any better.  Just like binge eating didn’t solve anything.  My problems only got worse because I was not dealing with them.  In the end, I had to face my problems, both health and financial.  I had no choice.  I had to reign in my finances or risk losing everything I have.  I had to deal with my health or start preparing to die.

I was explaining this to my gamer friend when he asked me, “So what changed?  Why make these changes now?  Why, all of a sudden, are you enough?  What do you see now in yourself worth living for that you didn’t before?”

Those are hard questions, and I struggled to find an answer.  I imagine that these are questions he had to find answers for during his own recovery from addiction.

I am not sure if I have a complete answer for this or not, but I simply just decided that if I did not want to die, I had to find a way to live.  To quote Stephen King’s Shawshank Redemption, “It comes down to a simple choice.  Get busy living or get busy dying.”

I may not have thought I was enough of a reason, or good enough period, but I knew that was something that I needed to work on.  And I did.  I wouldn’t say I’m completely cured of low self-esteem, food addiction, avoidance, etc.  I struggle every day with all of my problems, but each day does get easier.

Once I started working on my problems, I was amazed at the number of people who were willing to help me, who cheered me on, who were so supportive in so many ways.  My sister encouraged me through the whole process and took me into her home for a month.  My mom helped me financially and came down to Virginia for the surgery.  My niece, who may not understand all of the changes I have made, totally loves it that I can go to museums with her and walk all over DC and go to fairs with her.  My brother and his wife are really happy to see how much I have improved.  My writer’s group dedicated an entire meeting to writing stories for and about me.  Not to mention, the members of my writers group routinely cheer me on and tell me how great I’m doing and how happy they are to see the positive changes in my life.  (I totally heart you guys!)  Even my gamer friend is happy for me, even if he is disappointed that I am not playing GW2.

I may not have thought that I was enough of a reason to live for when I started this process, but I quickly found out that a lot of people care about me and want good things for me.  I am constantly amazed and overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and love.  They think I am enough.  And that’s good enough for me.

The Walking Project


I know I have been walking for exercise, but I have not actually fully committed to walking a certain distance every day.  Life is busy and it is easy not to make time for something like exercise.  But if I want my diet to truly be successful and be in good shape when I am done, I need to exercise more.

I downloaded an app that a friend of mine told me about.  It’s called Zero to 5K.  It’s a running app.  Let’s be clear, I have no intention of running.  I hate running, always have.  But I will use it to improve my walking and actually walk for exercise and not just take a leisurely stroll.

Today, I am going to walk for 25 minutes.  There is a 5 minute warm up, 15 minutes of walking, and a 5 minute cool down.  That’s what the app says anyway.  What it boils down to is 25 minutes of walking.  I am going to do the walking during my lunch.  I have my writer’s group tonight and will not have time for a walk after work, so lunch time is the only time during the day I can make this work today.

Once I actually have time and money at the same time, I will join a gym.  I can get a discount a Gold’s gym because my niece works there, but I am going to price around and see what kind of deal I can get.

I also need to upgrade my walking shoes.  I am thinking of purple New Balance.