Monthly Archives: August 2013

Getting Back On Schedule

The last three weeks have really been a killer.  I have been working ten-hour days most days.    Plus, I’ve had to go to Pittsburgh to help out my mom.  The good news is her cast is off.  The bad news is she still cannot do everything she was able to do before she broke her arm.  Don’t get me wrong, she’s doing great, but she has a long way to go before her arm is completely healed.

I like my job, and certainly I feel that all of the hard work has been worth it.  And I love going to Pittsburgh to help out my mom, but all of this has thrown me completely off schedule.  Here is what all of this stress, work, and traveling has done to me:

  • I have not been to the gym in weeks.
  • Keeping my eating on schedule has been difficult.
  • When I am home and have a minute to myself, all I want to do is sleep.
  • My weight loss has plateaued again.

I’ve been trying not to get depressed about all of this, but that has been difficult.

Now I am facing a three day weekend.  The unofficial end of summer/beginning of fall.  Autumn is my favorite season.  I am really looking forward to the cooler weather, and changing leaves.  I just love it.  I’m also looking forward to wearing scarves, sweaters, cool new jackets that I bought.  My mom also gave me a couple of jackets.  I am so ready for the fall.

I was really hoping to have lost a few more pound before fall began, though.  These last 50 pounds are going much more slowly than the first 123 pound weight loss.  That’s difficult to deal with.  So, I need to get myself back on schedule.  Just dealing with the food side of things doesn’t seem to be enough any more.

So, today I am heading back to the gym.  I’m going to walk to the gym and see what classes are happening.  Maybe yoga, maybe Bodyflow.  Or maybe I’ll hit the weight machines.

I know things will not slow down at work just yet.  I may have a few more weeks of busy days.  And I still have to go to Pittsburgh to help out my mom, but I have to refocus on my health and weight loss.  That has to be the priority in my life.  Blogging might be spotty over the next few weeks, but I promise to check in as often as I can.

I am including a current picture of myself.  I feel like it’s been a while, so here you are.

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Have a great Labor Day Weekend, everyone!

My 15 Nanoseconds Of Fame

So, I have to admit, that I squeed with crazy fan-girl joy last Friday night when a famous person re-tweeted my tweet with a link to my blog.  And a week later, I’m still talking about it.

Last Friday, I wrote about Mika Brzezinski tweeting her weight.  I tweeted the post and copied @morningmika.  Later that night, she re-tweeted my tweet and replied that I have a great blog.

So, of course, I immediately texted a friend of mine, “OMG! Mika Brzeznski retweeted me!”

To which she replied, “Have you bragged about it on Facebook yet?”

“OMG! I didn’t even think of that!” I typed back furiously.  “I’ll do that now!”

(I think she was making fun of me, but I was too stuck in a fan-girl crazed haze at the time to realize it.)

I had a teeny uptick in Twitter followers and a huge increase in traffic to my blog as a result.  (As well as delusions of grandeur and fanciful dreams of appearing on Morning Joe to personally tell Mika, ((and I guess Joe, if I must)), about my upcoming, nonexistent book about how I lost 175 pounds through gastric by-pass surgery and how that changed my life.)

A week later, things have returned to a somewhat normal state.  I am reading Mika’s book, Obsessed, about her own struggles with food and body image.  I am also reading Eating My Feelings by author Mark Rosenberg, who I met this week at Politics & Prose in DC.

He is absolutely hilarious, irreverent, and foul-mouthed.  I thought he was pretty great.  I hope to have reviews and my thoughts on both of these books up soon.

Anyway, I am heading to Pittsburgh this weekend to check up on mom.  Her cast is off, things seem to be normalizing in her life.  She can drive, eat, and is doing physical therapy several days a week.  She finally found out from social security what her monthly stipend will be, so she can set her budget.  She’s starting to come out of the broken arm, husband dying, surgery, living with a cast portion of her life.  I know she still has a long way to go before she is totally comfortable with her life again, but for now, she’s doing good.

Have a great weekend!

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My Thoughts on the Diet Industry

A couple of days ago, I read this fantastic open apology letter that a former weight loss counselor wrote to her former clients.  It appeared in the Huffington Post today, but also was originally posted on this blog.

I found that very interesting.  I have hated what I view as the “diet industry” forever.  Fad diets, diet pills, prepackaged meals, I’ve tried them all in all of them failed me.  Yet, I was always made to feel that my failure to make these diets work and keep the weight off was always my fault.  I did not exercise enough, walk enough, I ate too much, I ate the wrong combinations of things, if I only did this or that, etc.

I found it very interesting to hear from a former “weight loss counselor” about how some of these plans deliberately stack the deck against their clients to keep those clients coming back as they rebound from diet after diet.

“Wait a minute,” I thought to myself as I read this apology letter, “they sold a diet plan which they knew would not work or have a lasting effect, one which would most likely keep their clients coming back again and again?  How, exactly, is that healthy?”

Simply, it is not.  The diet business is just that.  A business.  There is no real lasting money in the cure.  It’s the repeat business that keeps the store open.

This is another reason why I think categorizing obesity as an illness is good.  Have people work with their doctors and trained dietitians to help them lose weight.  And force companies that want to pretend that they are offering solutions instead of a lifestyle of using their service, meet medical standards for a healthy weight loss and lifestyle plan.  Eat right.  Exercise.  Work with a doctor or nutrition specialist.

There is no real short cut to weight loss and a healthy lifestyle.  Yes, I guess you call the bariatric surgeries a short cut, but really, it is only a tool.  I am forced to eat smaller meals, but I work very closely with the nurses and nutritionists in my surgeon’s office to make sure those meals consist of nutrient rich food.  This is something I was not doing before.  I ate a lot and I ate a lot of junk.  Now I eat a little, and it’s primarily healthy food.

Here is an example of my before surgery diet:

Breakfast: (choice of one of the following)

  • Toasted bagel from Panerra with egg and bacon.
  • Breakfast burritos from local deli with egg, bacon, potato, onions, green peppers.
  • Croissant from deli with egg and bacon. (croissant fried on grill, of course).
  • 2 bowls of cereal with fruit.
  • Fried potatoes and eggs, bacon, or sausage, and toast or english muffin.

Lunch:  (choice of one of the following)

  • Chipotle burrito.
  • Chinese food, usually kung pao chicken with rice and an egg roll or pot stickers.
  • Sandwich and potato soup from Panerra.
  • Chicken drumsticks and rice and some kind of vegetable.
  • 1/2 rotisserie chicken and some bread and vegetables.

Dinner: (choice of one of the following)

  • 12-24 Chicken wings and fries.
  • Large Bag of Chips and some kind of dip.
  • 1/2 rotisserie chicken and bread.
  • Chicken Saag – entire order, rice, one somosa, garlic naan.
  • Chinese food, same as lunch.
  • Subway sandwich – footlong, cookies and chips.

Snacks: continuously throughout the day, chips or whatever.

Examples of meals post WLS:

Breakfast: (choice of one of the following)

  • 4-6oz nonfat plain greek yogurt & 1/2 cup of berries.
  • 4-6oz nonfat plain greek yogurt and peach or nectarine.
  • 1 scrambled egg with spinach and 1/2 banana.
  • 1 hard boiled egg with some kind of fruit.
  • 2 oz cheese and fruit.

Snack:

  • 4-6 oz nonfat plain greek yogurt & 1 scoop protein powder.

Lunch: (choice of one of the following)

  • 1/2 chicken breast, 1/2 avocado, 1/2 cup of fruit
  • 2-4oz cheese and fruit
  • Chicken Saag (2-3 cubes of chicken breast, 1/2 cup spinach), and fruit.
  • 1/2 cup tuna salad, fruit & vegetables

Snack: (choice of the following)

  • 4oz nonfat greek yogurt (plain)
  • 2oz nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, etc)
  • 2-3oz cheese

Dinner: (choice of the following)

  • 4 wings, celery and carrots (that is a rare, but special treat)
  • cracker pizzas (usually 4 or 5) (saltines, tomato sauce, cheese bake for a few minutes in toaster oven)
  • Chicken Saag (2-3 cubes of chicken breast, 1/2 cup spinach), and fruit.
  • 4oz Chicken breast and two vegetables of some kind.
  • 4oz salmon and two vegetables of some kind.
  • 4oz cheese and vegetables and fruit.

See the difference?  So, yes, I am eating considerably less than I was before.  I am following the Dr.’s plan very closely.  I may allow myself a treat of chicken wings or cracker pizza, but look at the difference between my before surgery meals and after.  I used to eat out a lot.  I still eat out sometimes, but I often end up coming home with a huge amount of leftovers that I eat over the next couple of days.

Conceivably, you can try to continue to eat all of the bad food and make yourself sick stretching out your stomach so that you can eat almost as much as you did before the surgery.  But why would you do that?

The WLS surgery does not solve all of your problems or change why you ate badly, binged, or ate out for nearly every meal in the fist place.  It’s a tool to jump-start you on the path to good health, and it’s not for everyone.  But all of the good you can achieve can be undone if you do not take steps to address why you became fat in the first place.  These are things the “diet industry” was never designed to address and therefore never will.

Whatever you decide to do to improve your health, lose weight, or whatever, you need to find the will within yourself to stick to the plan.  It’s hard.  I still struggle every day.  And people on the outside continually give me bad advice or tell me what I’m doing wrong, even when I know I am doing what the doctor told me to do.  Staying focused is tough.  But once you experience all that you can gain from improving your health, it becomes harder to turn back.

All I know is that while I may want to eat certain things, and sometimes I may find a way to fit a night out at a restaurant or a special treat into my diet, I do not ever allow that to throw me off my plan.  I’ve come too far and worked too hard.  I do not ever want to go back to being the fat girl who could not even walk to from the bus to the office again.  Ever.

So I kind of wandered away from my point here about the “diet industry,” so let me try to find my way back…

Anyone who tells you there is a short-term quick fix to losing weight and being healthy is selling you something.  One thing I have learned over the past year is that it is a lifetime of work.  The changes you make will have to be permanent.  I will never be able to go back to having the kinds of foods I ate before my surgery.

Bottom line, if you’re not willing to make the commitment to truly change your behavior, you will never permanently lose the weight.  All the fad diets and pre-packaged plans in the world will never replace a life-long, sustainable, sensible diet and exercise plan.  And that’s what the “diet industry” does not want you to believe.  As long as you believe there is a short-cut, or a quick fix, they know they have you right where they want you, in their pockets.

Another One Bites The Dust

Yesterday, I said that I would weigh myself this weekend and post a picture of my weight on the scale.  Well, I did that this morning.  So, I’m going to post that picture here.  As you can see, I am down another pound from yesterday’s numbers.

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I now only have 50 pounds to go until I reach my goal weight.  This is absolutely amazing to me.

When I started this journey, I weighed 298 pounds.  To get to 125, I had to lose 173.  I have lost 123 pounds or 71% of the weight I need to lose to reach 125.  I am almost there.  O.M.G.

Today I have the whole day to myself.  My brother is in Pittsburgh visiting my mom, who got her cast off her arm this week.  His wife and daughter are with him, so no adventures in DC this weekend.  My sister is off boating with her husband.  I have plans with friends tomorrow, but I am being left to my own devices today!

I have some work I have to do.  I need to get to the gym.  I also plan on getting some writing done today.  And grocery shopping absolutely has to happen.

I will keep posting pictures of the scale as I continue to lose weight.  Hopefully, I can get close to my goal weight eventually!

Have a great Saturday!

 

To Reveal Or Not To Reveal…That Is The Question

Yesterday, apparently Mika Brzezinski from MSNBC’s Morning Joe tweeted her weight and this made news.  Not only did she tweet her weight, she took a picture of the scale while she was standing on it and tweeted that picture.  I’ve never done that, but you know what…I will do it some time this weekend!  Furthermore, I promise to always take a picture of what the scale says when I post my weight on my blog.

mikaI’m not sure this is actually news but, considering I that my blog is all about weight loss, I wanted to take a minute to talk about it.

As someone who put her weight on her blog from day one, I have to say, Bravo Mika!

Conversely,  this was discussed on theToday Show, and the female host there would not reveal her weight.  At first I was like, “Oh come on, it’s no big deal!”  But you know what?  That’s her choice.  And she made some great points about what the focus on the scale says to young girls.  I applaud her decision as well.

http://www.today.com/video/today/52763659#52763659

This is not an easy decision.  Once I decided to blog about my weight loss journey and my gastric by-pass surgery, I decided that the best and most honest way to do that was to openly tell people my weight.  I had never done that before.   Weight and emotions are so tightly wound together, it can be a real struggle to openly discuss.  It was very difficult for me to put my weight up on the internet for the whole world to see when I weighed close to 300 pounds.  It was embarrassing.  It was also really admitting to the world and myself that yes, I am fat…really, really fat.  Even though I knew I was that I was fat, as long as I did not reveal my weight openly, I could continue to pretend it was not the problem that it was.

Let’s face it.  When you weigh close to 300 pounds, there is no way to really hide it, even from yourself.  So for me, to put it out there and to be really, truly honest about how much I weighed, was liberating.  I was finally able to take steps to fix the problem, even if that step was extreme.

Today, I have no problem telling people how much I weigh.  It’s still on my blog.  I weighed myself this am, in fact.  I tell people all of the time.  I weigh 176 pounds.  I am proud of that.  I’m delighted to tell people that.  I tell perfect strangers.  Openly.  Willingly.  “Hi! Guess what?  I weigh 176 pounds!”

You know what else I tell people?  I used to weigh 298 pounds!  I have lost 122 *&$##ing pounds!  I so totally rock!

(I love to see the look on their faces when I tell them that!)

Yeah, I’d like to lose another 51 pounds.  My goal is 125.  I would love to get there.  But you know what?  If I don’t I’m OK with that.  What I’m not OK with now is pretending any longer.

So, thank you Mika for keeping it real and being truly open about what you have been through and where you are now.  I hope to always be as candid as you!

Follow Mika on Twitter here.

Follow ME on Twitter here!

Unintended Consequences

me gymSo, recently I have been experiencing some unintended consequences of my extreme weight loss.  All good, mind you, but still, ideas I had not considered.

Among things I had never expected to ever hear or experience are the things I hear my friends say.  Here are some examples:

  • You look so good!
  • You are so small!
  • You walk fast!
  • Slow down, we can’t keep up with you! (OMG! I never expected to hear those words.)
  • You are amazing!

I just talked to a friend of mine on the phone.  She was in the car with her in-laws driving back to DC and she told me she just finished telling them how she cannot keep up with me anymore when we walk.  This is really a surprise to me.  I know I am walking better, farther, faster than I used to.  But I am short.  I am 5’1″ and I have a 28-inch inseam. Short, short legs.  I have taller friends who have to seriously slow down their walking so that I can keep up with them otherwise, I would have to run to do so.  So to hear that I have friends who have trouble keeping up with my walking, I find that to be shocking.

Another unintended consequence is the idea that I have friends, co-workers, and other people in my life who did not know me as a fat girl.  Their reaction to the idea that I used to weigh 300 pounds is funny to me.  I changed jobs in February.  My boss knew that I had lost weight as I discussed it in my interview.  At that time, I had lost about 90 pounds.  I have lost 31 pounds since then.  So, I’m even smaller.  But I have other co-workers and colleagues who have only known me during that 31-pound weight loss window.  Some of them have noticed that I’ve lost weight since then and others have not.  Or at least, if they have, they haven’t said anything.

I recently shared my blog with my boss and she saw pictures of what I looked like when I weighed over 300 pounds. I had told her that I’ve lost 121 pounds, but she still could not really fathom what that looked like.  Her reaction to seeing that picture was stunning.  “Oh my God, Colleen! I can’t believe you ever looked like that!”  Yeah, me either.

At a recent writer’s group meeting I had an interesting experience as well.  The meeting was in my neighborhood. I walked to the meeting, stopped at Caribou to get some iced tea, and then walked over to the library where the meeting was being held.  After the meeting, we went to a local restaurant for dinner where I noticed that I no longer had my debit card.

I hurried back over to the coffee shop to see if anyone there found it.  I went back to the restaurant and one of my friends suggested that I go back over to the library, which was about to close.  I raced over there just in time and bingo!  Someone had found my debit card, which I had dropped in the courtyard, and turned it in.  I then went back over to the restaurant, where everyone cheered for my success.

Then my friend turned to me and said, “Aren’t you glad you are healthy enough now and your weight is not such an impediment that you are able to run over there so quickly?” Or something like that.  She was clearly celebrating the change in my health since my weight loss.

There was a new member of the group who was unfamiliar with my personal story.  He looked absolutely horrified that she would say something that he thought was so clearly offensive.  I noticed his look and turned to him and said, “I had gastric by-pass surgery.  I used to weigh 300 pounds and had a lot of health problems and great difficulty walking.  I also write a blog where I openly discuss these problems on a regular basis.  She’s actually cheering on my success in how I’ve changed my life.”

The look on his face changed to relief and understanding as he comprehended the context of her comment and then changed again to shock, which said he couldn’t believe that I actually used to weigh nearly 300 pounds.  “Wow!”  Was pretty much all he said.

I never expected that I would have to explain to people, “Yeah, I used to be really, really fat.”  Nor did I ever expect that I would be able to outpace my friends with my walking.  I think this is a great position to be in.

Here are some new pics of me that I took today.  Now I’m off to the gym.

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Living For Myself

illusionSometimes it is hard to tell when you are living according to your own dreams or when you’re living for your own dreams.  For years, I allowed the opinions of others to be more important than my own.  What other people thought of me was more important than what I thought of myself.  This was an enormous mistake.

Of course other people are always going to try to impose their will and expect you to live according to their expectations.  I was a shy and insecure child, who turned into an insecure teenager.  I had low self-esteem and I always looked to others to for approval.  I also had a habit of surrounding myself with people who needed to put other people down to make themselves feel more important.  So, myself esteem was really in the toilet.

Living like this almost destroyed me.  I weighed 315 pounds at my heaviest and my body was really suffering the effects of long-term morbid obesity.

Fortunately, I realized my life was going in the wrong direction.  I cut out of my life the people whose vision of who I am did not match up with who I thought I was.  I stopped associating with and seeking the approval of anyone who had to try to make me feel bad to make themselves feel superior.  I started befriending people who treated me with the respect I deserve.

In some cases, the end of a friendship was mutual.  In other cases, I was not able to cut a person out completely, either because they are married to  a friend or family member, or closely connected with one of my groups of friends.  The difference between now and before, I know who I am and how I feel about myself.  I can keep their negativity in perspective and give their opinions no consideration whatsoever.  In short, I do not listen to them or allow them to affect my own self image.  What they think of me or how they treat me says more about them than me, in my opinion.

None of this was easy.  It is never easy to end long-time friendships, or distance yourself from people you care about.  I learned that I had to care about myself more and that if they cared about me at all, they would have to learn to accept the new me on my terms.  Some of them, I’m happy to say did. Others did not.  Those friendships have either gone by the way side, or I only associate with them on special occasions.

Once I made the decision to care about my own opinion over the opinion of others, I was able to make choices that helped me improve my life.  I feel and look better than I have in years.  I am happy.  And for the most part, I feel I am making better choices.  I’m not all the way there yet.   But when I look back at where I’ve been and realize how far I’ve come, I know I can get there.

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