Category Archives: Uncategorized

My Expanding World

Now that I am getting smaller my world is getting bigger.  The one thing about my being obese is that it was very hard for me to move around.  Walking to shop area of my neighborhood was out of the question.  Between back pain and asthma, I could barely walk to the lobby of my building.  It was horrible.

Now that I have lost 86 pounds, I feel so much better.  I am walking a lot more and that is such a liberating feeling.  I am walking a lot every day now and I love it.

Yesterday, WordPress sent me an email from the Daily Post called Phoneography Challenge in which they instructed their bloggers to take their cell phones and hit the streets in their neighborhood, take pictures, and write about it.  I really wanted to do this yesterday, but I did not get a chance yesterday because of work and the general exhaustion that followed.

Today is such a beautiful day here in Northern Virginia.  The sun is shining.  The birds are singing.  Everyone is out walking their dogs, (big thing in my neighborhood).  I just could not sit still inside my apartment in this weather, especially after the horrible cold, windy non-snow storm we had earlier in the week.  I had to get out.

I left my apartment armed with my iPhone and laptop and marched myself down the hill to Shirlington Village to get some pictures, have some decaf cappuccino in my favorite café, and write a blog post with pictures.

I love the area of Arlington where I live.  There are quite a few restaurants, some specialty stores, a grocery store, a library with a theater inside of it, a movie theater where the independent movies are run, and lots of places where you can sit and read, or socialize.  It is a walking village, so there are people walking all of the time, especially with their dogs.  There are even bowls of water on the sidewalk, which there were none out today unfortunately, in case your dog gets thirsty.  Humans have to pay for their drinks.

The first thing I saw was this is the tree outside of my apartment building.

tree

 

So, here are the pictures I took today on my trek through Shirlington.  This first one is of a shop that sells locally made olive oils and vinegars.  I love this shop.

ahlove

 

Busboys & Poets is my favorite restaurant.  It is named after Langston Hughes who worked as a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel in the 1920s.  He literally went from busboy to poet.  They have good food and provide a great space in the community for art, culture, and politics.  Love this place.

 

busboys

 

 

Someone knitted a cozy for the bus stop sign.  I thought that was cute. busstop

 

Cakelove is a locally owned business.  The cakes here are awesome.  They do sell cupcakes, which works very well for this community as people can grab a yummy cupcake while walking their dog.  They also have cakes.  I ordered one today for my sister’s birthday.  The best part about their cakes is that they make gluten-free and vegan cakes and cupcakes.  Probably the best cake I’ve ever had.

cakelove

Cheesetique is a locally owned shop that sells, well cheese.  They also have a restaurant side which serves the best mac&cheese in the country.  Don’t take my word for it,  Food & Wine thinks so too.cheese

 

How nice they provide doggie-doo-doo bags. dog

 

You have no idea how hard it was to get a photo of this fountain when there are no people sitting all around it.  To the right there is a small boy and his mother.  You do not see them here because I really tried to get the picture with no one in it.

fountain

 

This is the Shirlington Library.  It is the only library I know that has a theater included.  There are plays there all the time.

library

 

Cool street lamps and my thumb. light

 

 

I got a salad at Medi, which, as you can plainly read on the napkin, is a Mediterranean restaurant.  I had not been there before today.  A friend of mine goes there quite frequently and raves about it.  It kind of works like Chipotle.   You decide if you want a pita wrap, a salad or a rice dish, choose your meat which are chicken, steak, lamb, or veggies, then choose toppings which are a combo of sauces, veggies, and cheese.  I chose chicken because as my friend Bobby reminded me through peels of laughter, that lamb is red meat.  I still cannot have red meat just yet.  The food here is delicious.medi

 

Cool sign. sign

 

Thai Shirlington restaurant where I got sick from dumping syndrome after having the soup.  My own fault, really.   I had the soup about a month after my surgery.  Nonetheless, their food is delicious.thai

 

 

 

The movie theater where the independent movies are shown.

theatre

I enjoyed my walk, coffee, and lunch today.  It was great to get out of the apartment and walk around.  I will have to do this more as the weather improves.

village

 

 

Thank you for visiting Shirlington!

 

Commuting in DC

metro

So, now that I am able to walk some more, commuting to DC is not the hassle it was a year ago.

When I used to work in DC at a client site, my office was located about a block and a half from the nearest Metro station.  I also had to walk across the street from my apartment building to catch a bus.  I did not have to walk a lot, but it was still more than I could handle.  I had to sit when I arrived at the bus stop.  After I got off the Metro in DC, I had to stop at least twice to rest my back before getting to the office.  It was awful.

Now, I am back to working in DC and no longer working from home.  My office is nowhere near a Metro station.  It is at least 5.5 blocks from the nearest station. Well, OK that’s not entirely true.  There are two stops that are about 4 blocks from the office, but then I have to go two stops out of my way and take another train, and the stop where I change trains is still adds another two stops to my trip.  It’s worth the extra block to not have to change trains and keep my metro stops down to three stations.

Five blocks are really not that far.  Normal people walk this much all of the time without even a thought.  I used to before I became so morbidly obese.  Now that I have lost 81 pounds, (OMG 81!!!!!), walking this much is easy.

I am also standing pretty much from the minute I leave my apartment until I get to the office.  I stand out in front of my building to wait for the bus…OK that’s not true.  I sometimes sit at the bus stop.  But once I get on the bus, I stand until I get to the metro station because there is often not a seat.  Then the metro train is so full, I stand for the three whole stops until I can pry myself out of the train.  There is not even time or quite frankly the room to read anything on my kindle app.  Seriously, some days you need a shoe horn to get people out of there we are packed in so tightly.  Then I fight to get up the escalators and out of the station before I begin my hike to the office.

Sometimes, I go to the little French café (where they play middle eastern music, btw…not that I mind middle eastern music, it’s just that Americans have fanciful notions that every French café should be playing Edith Piaf singing Non Je Ne Regrette Rien all day long, but I digress), that is next to my office to get a cup of decaf.  There I sit and enjoy my last moments of solitude before entering the snake pit.

Honestly, the three stops are not bad.  Even the 5.5 block walk to the office is not bad.  I just hate being crammed on the train with about 10,000 other people with nowhere to move or breathe.  I am convinced with every jerk of the train that I will lose my balance and fall into the person next to me.  There is no real room to fall, so I would probably just body slam into the person next to me and cause people to tumble into one another like dominos.  Then there is the constant stopping and waiting for no reason without explanation.  And I haven’t even mentioned the broken escalators and elevators.  The train ride is stressful.  I thank God I only have to go three stops.

I am also thankful that I can do it relatively pain-free.  I still have some pain in my feet.  And occasionally my knees and back hurt a little.  But for the most part, I am enjoying the fact that I can do this.

Two other points…I lost 81 pounds!!!!  Omg I can hardly believe it!

The other thing I wanted to mention, I kind of put on my Facebook Page yesterday.  Yesterday, upon exiting the Metro station in DC, I ran into a friend of mine whom I have not seen in about two years.  She had a gastric by-pass 9 years ago.  We used to work together.  She looks great.  I also did not know her before the surgery.  She told me over and over again that she has no regrets.  I thought about her often before and since my surgery.

Well, I saw her and walked right up to her and made eye contact and she looked at me like she has never seen me before.  Then I told her who I was and seriously, her jaw dropped.  She asked me what I had been up to so I told her that I had the surgery.  We only had a moment to talk because we were both in the mad-commuter-rush-to-work mindset, but she told me that I looked great.  I have her email address, so I am going to send her an email.  I need to tell her how her experience really helped me make my decision when I reached my breaking point.  I may not have been ready to do it when she and I talked in the past, but I thought of her often through everything I have experienced.

The Fashionista Inside of Me

scarf

I always knew there was a Skinny Girl lurking somewhere inside of me.  But what I did not expect that I also have an inner-fashionista.  (My sister Jen would be so proud!)  Now that I have purged my closet of all sizes 26 and above, I am anxious to start shopping for real clothes.  This feeling was further compounded today by my trip to the local shopping mall.

As an aside, I guess I have not been to the mall in a very long time, but my last two excursions to two different malls left me shocked by the preponderance of designer and high-end, high-fashion stores like Louis Vutton and Gucci.  Yes, the Gap and other stores are still there, but seriously, when did everyone but me start to think they should dress like Brangelina?  I guess being a fat chick for so long, I missed out on the social significance of being a fashionista, but I seem to be catching on quick!  And what the heck, why don’t these designers make clothes for larger girls?  I mean, we like to be fashionable too!

But I digress…

Today I went to Tyson’s Corner Mall, I guess it’s really called Tyson’s Fashion Center or something like that.  My original goal was to go see Les Miserables before the Oscars tonight.  Well, the movie starts at 335pm, which left me plenty of time to get some walking in, drink some fruffy tea or coffee at Barnes and Noble and write a blog post.

I parked at the part of the mall closest to the main roads.  AMC is at the furthest point from that location.    I figured this would give me lots of walking space, which it has.  And, I could stop at a store and get some panty hose and/or tights for my new job, which I start tomorrow.

What I did not count on was the effect “window shopping” would have on me. Seriously, I could really empty my bank account at this place.  Fortunately, I stuck to two pairs of tights, some tea and the cutest scarf from Free People (see pic above).  That store certainly appeals to my inner bohemian.  But I was sorely tempted to buy the clothes at Ann Taylor Loft even though I cannot yet fit into them.  Fortunately, I held off.  The LL Bean store did not have the shoes I like in my size, but the sales associate kindly reminded me that I could order them online.  The woman at the Spanx store wisely talked me out of buying any more Spanx until I lose more weight.   (The 3x I have is quickly becoming useless to me, but I cannot quite fit into the 1x I bought online).

I actually had a funny exchange with the sales girl at the Spanx store.  I guess it is their policy to approach people by asking them if they have ever tried a Spanx product instead of saying, “Can I help you?”  It’s clever, I’ll admit.  “Can I help you?” is pretty cut and dry.  Yes or no, that is all that is required.  The people who say “no” actually mean, “Leave me the bleep alone! If I have a question, I’ll ask you!”

Asking if they have ever tried the product is still a closed question, but if you say no, that is an invitation for the sales person to explain the product to you.  Sneaky.  One side of me likes that.   Another part of me is still irked that they are trying to sell me something.  Well, my response when I was asked was, “I’m wearing one now,” which you know, I am.  That led to a conversation about why I’m wearing one and ultimately led her to advise me to wait to buy any more.  Maybe not their original goal, but my wallet feels better.

All I know is that I had better start saving now, because when my weight loss is complete, I am going on one heck of a shopping spree!

C-c-c-changes

OK, so yeah, I stole from David Bowie right there with the title of the post.  I have not written in a while because I have been afraid that I would spill the beans about something before I was actually able to talk about it.

I have been going through so many changes since the surgery.  I have lost 78 pounds. and I am creeping up on the momentous 80 pound mark.  I am now able to wear clothes that I have not been able to fit in for years.  I had my hair done, cut and colored.

You never know though what one little change in your life can bring about once you get started.  Yes, I have lost a lot of weight.  I have made big changes in my personal lifestyle.  I am walking more, breathing easier.  All of these things I just love.  I had also anticipated a lot of these changes.

There is a lot that will happen that you may not expect once you start making changes in your life.  Friends of mine have told me that I am much more energetic, that I am happier and bubblier and more confident than before.  One of my writer friends at my writer’s group told me that when I critiqued someone else’s work, I was much more confident than I had been in the past.

But the biggest change of all happened a couple of weeks ago…I got a new job!

I can hardly believe it myself. I have not put this on Facebook, my blog, or any other social media because I wanted to make sure that I had left my old job and given them the appropriate notice before announcing it to the rest of the world.  I have no hard feelings about my old employer.  They were very good to me.  But this new job a big promotion for me.

I was not actively looking for a new job.  I found this job through a friend of mine who recommended me.  Then the company pretty actively recruited me for the job.  That is a nice feeling.  I went in to the interview completely relaxed and really not even that sure if I wanted the job.  The more they told me about the job and the company, the more excited I became.   They made me a pretty good offer.  I thought about it for a long time before accepting, at least a couple of days.

I had a lot to consider.  I was with my old company for eight years.  I had accrued a lot of vacation time.  But I did not see a lot of advancement opportunities.  I would not say I was unhappy with my old job, but I was starting to get kind of bored with it.  If this job did not seek me out, I could see myself in that job in another year, maybe, before I started looking around if things had not changed.

I am convinced that the 78 pound weight loss had a lot to do with my getting this new job.  If I had not had the surgery, I might not be looking at this new opportunity.  Well, that and the new hairdo…obviously!

Another thing I have changed recently is my closet.  I have finally decided to get rid of all of my clothes that are a size 26 and above.  Most of the pants I had before the surgery were a size 26.  Some tops ranged from 26-32.  I had only kept the clothes that were in good condition in my pre-surgery closet purge.  So the clothes I have decided to get rid of this time are in really good shape.  I am currently looking for a place or person to give them to.  I reached out to a friend of mine to see if she has suggestions.  If that does not pan out I may just give them to Goodwill or a women’s shelter or something.

In another ten pounds, I will start getting rid of the size 24 clothes as well.  I figure around 210-200 range, I should be looking solidly at size 18-20 clothes, if memory serves me right.  Once I get below 200, I will be moving into the 14-16 range.  After that, I will be in the strange limbo between fat girl clothes and skinny girl clothes.  Once I move beyond that, I will be in territory I have not been in since college.  Wish me luck!

Fatty Fatty Two-by-Four

Do not like fat people?  Think they are ruining the health of this country?  Bully them!  So says prominent bioethicist Daniel Callahan.

OK, to be fair, he does not use the word bully, but I see little difference between what he is recommending and bullying.  He calls it “stigmatization.”  He tries to compare it to the successful stigmatization campaign against smokers to reduce smoking in this country.  He justifies his theory thusly:

It will be imperative, first, to persuade them that they ought to want a good diet and exercise for themselves and for their neighbor and, second, that excessive weight and outright obesity are not socially acceptable any longer. 

Really?  Excessive weight and obesity are not socially acceptable any longer?  When, pray tell, was being fat ever acceptable?  I would like to know when he thinks that is.  I have been battling poor self-image all of my life because even when I was thin, everyone told me I was fat.  I have faced social ostracization,  mean comments uttered both aloud and muttered so that just I could hear them, and mockery because of my weight.  I have been held back professionally because of my weight and my weight also affected my dating life.

So, when exactly, does he think it became cool to be fat?

Here are some of his suggestions for bringing social pressure to bear on fat or on their way to being fat people:

I do not know what is scarier, the fact that he is promoting bullying as a useful tactic in the fight against obesity or that he thinks that overweight people do not know what so-called thin people think of us.  Yes, I stand by my term bullying because that is exactly what this kind of social pressure is.

The worst part of all of this?  Mr. Callahan makes many other astute and valid points in his thesis.  He talks about bringing government pressure to bear on the food industry, taxing high caloric, high fat food, changing school lunches, finding ways to address childhood obesity.  All excellent ideas.  But those ideas are completely overshadowed by his promoting negative social pressure.

He spent a lot of time comparing fat shaming to smoking shaming.  He also tried to address what he views as the reasons other people do not think fat shaming will work.

Why is obesity said to be different from smoking? Three reasons are common: it is wrong to stigmatize people because of their health conditions; wrong to think it will work well, or at all, with obesity; and counterproductive with the obese because of evidence that it worsens rather than improves their condition. Ethically speaking, the social pressures on smokers focused on their behavior, not on them as persons. Stigmatizing the obese, by contrast, goes after their character and selfhood, it is said, not just their behavior. Stigmatization in their case also leads demonstrably to outright discrimination, in health care, education, and the job market more generally. The obese are said to be lazy, self-indulgent, lacking in discipline, awkward, unattractive, weak-willed and sloppy, insecure and shapeless, to mention only a few of the negative judgments among doctors and nurses.

These are the wrong reasons.  I am not saying that he does not have a point with some of these reasons, but he is missing the bigger point.

The differences between smoking and eating are this.   One, we need to eat to live.  People need to consume calories, protein, vitamin rich food every day or we starve.  We do not need to smoke to live.  Two, smoking affects the health of the larger community through second-hand smoke.  Obesity generally only affects the health of the obese person unless that person is pregnant or may become pregnant.  Also, there is no evidence that social shaming and ostracization keeps people from gaining weight or makes fat people lose weight.  It only makes them feel bad about themselves and encourages fat discrimination.

Finally, we will never really find a way to combat obesity in this country as long as many people live in poverty, lack access to healthy food, and lack access to health care.  Also, as long as losing weight is seen as part of the “diet industry” and a way for business to make money off of people who want nothing more than to be healthy we will not adequately be able to address the obesity problem.  People need real knowledge on how to become and stay healthy.

I have no problem with some amount of social pressure to encourage people to be healthier.  I just think that the pressure needs to be positive and encouraging not shaming and negative.  I think most people want to be healthy.  Most every woman I have ever met has dieted or tried to change their diet to lose weight and improve their health.

I imagine that on many issues concerning obesity, Mr. Callahan and I are much closer together than we are apart.  I just cannot agree with his fat-bullying campaign.

What we do not want to do is create a world where it is OK to harass fat people and create such stress that it drives many people into eating disorders to live up to negative social pressure to meet seemingly untenable goals set by people who do not have their best interest at heart.

Wait…what?

Continuing Weight Loss

First, I’d like to begin by dedicating this post to my friend Joanna who when I told her I had lost 58 pounds earlier this week, said to me, “Oh come on give me 60 at least!”  She was joking of course, but now I get to poke some fun right back at her.

I weighed myself this am.  I am down to 238 pounds.  That is a total of 60 pounds lost since October 24, 2012.  So, there you go, Joanna, 60 pounds!  🙂

I have to tell you.  I am amazed.  It is hard sometimes for me to believe that I have lost this much weight.  I do see the difference when I look in the mirror and when I look at pictures of myself from before the surgery.  So, I do actually believe it, but I am still sometimes surprised when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror or put on clothes that just a few months ago were far too small or me.

Today I went to see a movie with my friend Sushmita and then we went to lunch.  The restaurant we went to had booths.  Normally, I prefer tables because I do not fit well in booths.  I could have asked for a table, but I decided to be brave and test out the booths now that I’ve lost so much weight.

Good news too!  I fit very comfortably in the booth with room to spare!  I was so happy.  Eating there was pretty easy too.  I had a lamb burger, with no bun and instead of a side of fries, I had a side of grilled asparagus.  Gotta love mediterranean restaurants.  So, I had half the burger and three spears of asparagus.  I did bring the rest o the burger home to have for either dinner tonight or lunch tomorrow.  I have not decided which.

I have had some problems this week.  I have been suffering constipation off and on.  I’ve been trying to follow my doctor’s advise when this happens.  Drink a lot of water.  Do not skimp.  Make sure I get 64 oz in no matter how difficult.  I can take some chewable fiber pills, but if I do that, I absolutely have to make sure I meet my water requirements.  Also, when I suffer constipation, I am not allowed to push at all.  I know it’s kind of gross to think about, but I just cannot put that kind of pressure on my stomach.  So, I have been in a bit of pain this week.  Good news is, I was finally able to go.  Now I am feeling really good.

I am including a photo of me sitting in the booth at the restaurant.  Excuse my hair.  I did not have time to do anything with it this am, so I just pulled it back in a pony-tail.

 

IMAG2866

 

A New Low

So, I weighed myself today and I hit a new milestone.  I’m down 40 pounds.  I was a little bit pleasantly surprised.  It has been more than a week since I lost anything and it seems as if my weightloss has slowed down.

I think some of the slow down is natural.  I also think some of it had to do with the return of my period.  So, now that I have completed my cycle, I decided to see if there was any difference today, and there was.  Today, I weighed in at 258 pounds.

Tomorrow I go to the doctor and will get an official doctor’s office weigh-in so, I would say that this number is tentative until I am weighed on the doctor’s scale.

I’ll take it anyway, though!  🙂