Tag Archives: skinny

The Choices We Make

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I have a co-worker, a young millennial who has a loud vibrant personality. She is brash, unapologetic, and funny. I wouldn’t have her any other way. She recently moved offices and I miss the energy she brought to an otherwise mundane job.

Every day as she breezed out of the office, she would mockingly say over her shoulder, “Make good choices!” And we would all laugh.

Recently, I was part of a pilot group with my therapist. If I had  not written this before, I am seeing someone to help me with my binge eating. She is writing a book about how to lose weight and keep it off forever.

The group I was a part of has been reviewing her book and launching a kind of support group where we read chapters of her book and discuss the ideas in that chapter. We were her beta readers/guinea pigs. This past weekend, we all met in person to discuss what we thought of the book and make suggestions for the support system she wants to create. I am so glad to have been a part of that group.

The book is very interesting. The book is less about what we eat and more about why we eat what we eat. She really encouraged us to explore the reasons behind our eating habits.

Of course she thinks the best diet for weight loss is low carb, high protein focusing on eating fresh meats and fish, high protein vegetarian options, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Very similar to any good bariatric diet, right?

So, why can’t we stick to it? Why do we constantly sabotage our diet plans? Why do we make choices we know will not help us on our path to a healthy weight and relationship to food?

Those are the questions through both my sessions with her and the book she’s working to address.

For me, a lot of my bad choices have to do with my inability to deal with stress and toxic people. I get very stressed out when I think about the toxic people in my life, and there have been several who have entered and left my world. Some stay longer than others. It has taken me a long time to realize their behavior is about them and not me and to create a distance between me and them, even if that barrier is just a mental one.

I also suffer from a low self-image and self-confidence. Many people who know me would certainly be surprised to know this. I hide it well most of the time. It is hard for me to find good things about myself.

After I had lost about 130 pounds, a guy I am friends with complimented me on a shirt I was wearing. He said something like, “That green color looks very good on you.”

I immediately replied with how much more weight I needed to lose, my hair looked awful, pick any one of the myriad of negative thoughts inside my head.

A female friend standing nearby turned to me and said, “No! Stop, Colleen. He complimented you. Your answer is, ‘Thank you!'”

She knew what I was doing. I was not used to being complimented about my appearance. She knew this. And she put the brakes on my negative thought train. At least the verbalization of my negative thoughts.

So, I have been exploring my insecurities. My inability to deal with stress and toxic people. My negative thoughts. And why I look for solace in food.

It is hard to constantly stop myself before I make a bad food decision and analyze the why. In the past, I’ve made a decision about what I wanted to eat and then just ate it. Even if I did not eat it to excess, I still often made very bad food choices.

So, this is what I do when I want to eat the cheesy poofs or whatever food I am craving at the moment. I stop and ask myself some questions.

  • Do I need this to feel full and meet my nutritional goals? (Is this choice a need or a want?)
  • Why do I want to eat the cheesy poofs?
  • What is going on? Am I stressed out? I am feeling bad?
  • What happened today, last night, yesterday to make me feel this way?
  • Will eating this particular food help me achieve my weight loss/health goals?
  • What impact will this choice have on my calories, protein, carb intake for the day?
  • What can I eat that I like that will keep me on track?
  • What other choice can I make?

 

Sometimes I even stop and pull out my phone and enter the cheesy poofs into myfitnesspal.com just to see what that choice will do to my daily goals.

I am successful in making better choices probably 95% of the time. Do I slip? Sure. One example, I had an extra slice of toast one day. Normally, that is enough to send me into a tailspin and think the whole day is lost. But the next day, I entered everything into myfitnesspal.com, and I was only a couple of points high on my carbs. I met my protein goals and calorie goals.

So, great choice? No. Diet-killer? Not even close. I was still on track.

Another thing I do is I try not to think of my entire weight loss goal every time I eat. I do keep that goal in mind every day, yes. But for each meal or snack, I think only of that meal or snack. I might think of how it fits into my daily goals, but in the moment, I do not think too much beyond that.

I chose that approach because sometimes thinking of the entire goal is too overwhelming and seems unattainable. Today, this moment, this meal, that is a doable goal.

I get weighed every two weeks, and in that moment, I only think of my bi-monthly goals. I do sit down with the doctor afterwards and talk about long-term goals, but only a month out. Most importantly, I’m not weighing myself every day and stressing out about the numbers on the scale.

Biking and exercising also helps. I have been biking quite a bit, although the impending snow storm in our area has really put a damper on that recently. But biking takes my mind off the stress of the day, releases endorphins, and generally makes me feel better. Not to mention, it is great exercise for a weight loss plan.

The result is, of the 58 pounds of regain, I’m down 18 pounds. And my overall goal is now lower as well. So, now instead of needing to lose 94 pounds, I only need to lose 76 pounds.

So, good news all around. I am working on improving my mental health and making better choices. I’m also losing weight, exercising, and feeling better!

Will I always make good choices? No, definitely not. No one is perfect, and I know I am not. But I know that if I stay focused, I can make much better choices moving forward.

I’ll just keep my co-workers voice in my head every time I reach for those cheesy poofs reminding me to stop and “Make Good Choices!”

 

 

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My Biggest Triggers – The Truth About Bullies

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Random picture of my cat for no particular reason.

I am going to begin today’s post with ad admission. Over the last two years, I regained 58 pounds. This is not something I’m very proud of or happy about. My binge eating returned and I went through a very busy and stressful two years. Bottom line, I was not paying attention to my health and weight the way I should.

The good news is, I have taken corrective action. I am seeing a doctor to help me get my weight loss back on track, and I am seeing a therapist to help me develop the necessary skills to deal with the crazy, eating disordered part of my brain. As a result, as of two weeks ago, I am down 10 pounds.  I see the doctor again this week where I will be weighed. I think I lost some more. I noticed my leggings felt looser this week. Not just one pair, but all of them. I am not weighing myself at home, though. I have a tendency to weigh myself every day, and every teeny movement of the scale makes me crazy. I am either delighted that I’m down a pound or two, or depressed because there was no discernible movement or a slight one pound regain. It helps me more to look at the bigger picture and get weighed less often.

This brings me to today’s topic. Triggers.

For me, my triggers are the events, emotions, etc. that cause me to lose control and find solace in food. In my case, that food is usually salty, crunch, and starchy. Sometimes, but not often, sugary foods will do. Cheetos are my standby. If I’m eating Cheetos, chances are there is something in my life that is causing me undo stress and causing me to feel out of control.

My two biggest triggers are yelling, and when people are saying negative, untrue things about me behind my back to the people I love and respect.

How Gossip Affects Me:

When people talk about me behind my back, that really cuts me to the quick. It hurts because someone thinks badly enough about me to gossip. And it hurts because I fear their words will affect how others see me.

In my head, I know that any true friend, and anyone who really knows me wouldn’t allow someone else’s thoughtless or mean words change their opinion of me. And anyone who does allow gossip to color how they see me, is not really a friend.

Maybe that is what truly hurts because in the past, I have had people I thought were my friends turn on me solely due to the untrue, or misrepresented words of another person. I start to think that someone I trusted and thought of as a friend really thought badly of me all along. I question my judgment. I question my own internal sense of self. And I begin to question if there really is something wrong with me. In short, it breaks my heart.

How Yelling Affects Me:

I cannot stand yelling. I never could. It is one thing to have a disagreement with someone, even if that sometimes gets loud. That’s different from what I mean.

Yelling, or screaming is irrational. Usually the screamer is using that tactic as a way to silence the person they are yelling at and to establish dominance. There is no talking to a screamer. There is no way to rationally discuss anything with a screamer. And there is no way to resolve a problem with a screamer. They are right, you are wrong, and they will use their physical and psychic power to shut you down.

I push back hard on screamers.

I recently had a guy I know vaguely scream at me about something. He screamed at me at the top of his lungs in a crowded room.

I did not even what he was screaming about. I just looked at him and calmly said, “I do not have a husband, and my father is dead. No man screams at me. You are no one to me. What gives you the right to think you can talk to me that way?”

I stood up for myself. I did not let him bully me. I walked away. Sounds strong right?

The truth is, I fretted about this incident for a very long time. I was shaking and very angry. I was emotionally distraught. How dare he? Who does he think he is? Why would he think it is OK to do that to me? This event happened nearly a year ago and I still bring it up. That is how much of an impact it made.

Recently, I became aware of a situation where someone has been bullying a person I love using these two tactics. Screaming irrationally, and gossiping about me. Why I was brought into the situation, I’ll never know, but there you have it. This situation has really made me kind of crazy. I did not even hear the yelling, but just knowing that it was going on started the wheels in the crazy, food addicted part of my brain cycling out of control.

It has taken every ounce of self-control inside me to stay focused. I have waffled between anger, sadness, frustration, rage, and feelings of worthlessness, and powerlessness.

It is true that I have no power over what this person says or does. I also have no control over the impact their words have not he people I love. But that does not make their words true, their behavior right, or me powerless.

Realizing that truth has taken me a long time. Too long.

The truth is, screaming and gossiping are forms of control and intimidation used by bullies. And that’s all people who use these tactic are…bullies.

Maybe the reason screamers and gossipers affect me so badly is because I was bullied as a child. That bullying had a lasting impact on how I see myself. It was only well into my adulthood that I accepted the truth…that when someone bullies you, there is something wrong with them. Not you.

Knowing that intellectually is one thing. Really accepting it in your heart and soul is another.

What I Think About While I’m Biking (Hint: Not you!)

I have been biking quite a lot recently. I try to get out at least 3-5 times a week. I have even biked to work, although I do not do that often. I’m often hot and sweaty after I get there and the ride home, while primarily downhill, is mostly on city streets and is kind of brutal and scary.

A few months ago, a friend of mine, or maybe someone I know only slightly posted this meme oh Facebook:

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I think the person was trying to be encouraging by showing how judgy they are not by posting a meme on Facebook. I was slightly offended by it and became more so the more I thought about it. I’m not upset with the person, just the idea. The idea that there are good fat people, those who exercise or do something other people deem to be healthy. And bad fat people. To me, this is just another form of fat shaming.

The idea that my health, my appearance somehow belongs to other people is offensive to me. If I do what you think is the right thing, I’m worthy of praise, and if I do not, I deserve derision.

Now that I am biking myself, I’m here to tell you that while I’m biking, none of that matters. Here’s the secret. Fat people bike for the same reasons skinny people bike…because they love it. Yes, it is exercise and helps to build muscle mass and burn calories, but that is not my primary motivation.

So I thought I’d share some of the things I actually think about while I’m biking. (hint: those thoughts have nothing to do with you or what I think you think I look like!)

  1. Balance! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa Whoa! Don’t fall! Don’t fall!
  2. I put my feet not the pedals! Whoo hoo!
  3. OK, pedal, pedal! Don’t fall!
  4. I’m biking! I’m biking!
  5. OK get to bike trail…
  6. Big hill! It’s downhill, you can do this!
  7. Holy crap here comes a car! It’s OK! It’s OK! They’ll go around me.
  8. Whew, they went around me. Catastrophe averted.
  9. I made it to the bike trail! OMG, it’s uphill! At least it will be downhill on the way back.
  10. On the way back: How can the bike trail possibly be uphill in both directions?? Seriously? Who designed these trails?
  11. OMG, my legs.
  12. OMG, my butt hurts.
  13. OMG, I cannot breathe.
  14. Just breathe!
  15. OMG, I think a bug flew up my nose!
  16. Now my nose is itchy!
  17. Can’t take hands off handlebars to scratch nose.
  18. I have to scratch my nose.
  19. Scratches nose. Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Don’t fall!
  20. Making bike trail part of the sidewalk…not a good idea!
  21. Case in point…who decided to put a lamppost in the middle of the bike trail/sidewalk? WTF? img_1858
  22. Bike around lamppost by railing and risk running into the railing and possibly tumbling down the embankment and into the creek? Or bike around lamppost street-side and risk tumbling into traffic? Nice.
  23. Preparing to bike up a short, but sharp hill. I can do this. I can do this. Uh oh, someone is coming downhill fast in my lane! He’s not looking up. Look up, look up look up! “Hey, look up! Coming towards you!”
  24. He moved, thank God.
  25. Lost momentum. Great, now I have to walk up the hill.
  26. OMG, I didn’t know I could sweat this much.
  27. Family with kids, “I’m on your left!” Please, God, don’t let the kids run out in front of me!
  28. Did the runner I just passed going downhill just pass me as we are going uphill? Holy crap, I’m slow!
  29. When does this get easier?
  30. Does it have to be so hot out?
  31. When does this hill end?
  32. Breathe! Just breathe!
  33. You can do this!
  34. Home at last!
  35. I so totally rock!

I do not think about what other people think I look like. Not at all. I think about safety and the other people I see on the trails. I do not want to put myself or anyone else at risk.

A friend of mine recently asked me that since I live in an urban area and I bike on the streets a lot if cars scare me. The answer is, they terrify me. I have a healthy fear of cars. Every time I have to cross a street or bike on the street, I’m terrified. I know most drivers are cautious and do not want to hit me, but in that moment, all I can think about is trying to avoid being hit. I yield to everyone.

But here’s another secret, I spend most of my time on my bike being terrified. Terrified I’ll fall. Terrified I’ll run into a pedestrian. Terrified of going uphill. Terrified of going down hill. Terrified of going too slow. And terrified of going too fast. Still, I get out there.

So, why do I do it? I do it because I have to. Not because I’m required to, or that the doctor told me I must. I do it because I love it. When I’m on my bike I’m not concerned about what I look like or what anyone else thinks of me. It is the only time I feel free from the judgment of other people; free to just live in the moment. I think that more than anything gets me out there on the trails as often as possible.

I see people of all sizes on the bike trails. Some a much smaller than me, some much bigger. One girl in particular stands out. I saw her this weekend and I think she was biking with her boyfriend. She looked like she was struggling. Still, she was faster than me. The two of them whizzed by me without a problem. I later caught up with them as they had stopped for water. She saw me coming and smiled. She looked just as hot and sweaty as I felt. I smiled back and gave her the biker nod – the nod many bikers have given me. A nod of recognition; of camaraderie; a welcome to the club. I hope she sticks with it and loves it as much as I do.

Looking Back

Two years ago today, I weighed 298 pounds and was in the hospital. I had my gastric by-pass surgery October 24, 2012. It’s amazing how my life has changed! I’m not quite at my goal weight yet, but I know I will never weigh 300 pounds again!

BEFORE AFTER

I feel so much better and my life, which was once so lonely, is very full. I am happy with the new direction my life has taken. I know a lot of people look down on bariatric surgeries. I know I did for a long time. Many people think this is the easy way out. For me, where I was in my life, it felt like the only choice. I have no regrets. I am not looking back!

Edna Mode

Here is a brief list of the many positive changes

  • I can walk without pain.
  • Breathing is easier.
  • I can walk and breathe at the same time!
  • I feel very self-aware.
  • I am no longer invisible.
  • I am no longer invisible to men. (!!)
  • I feel more confident.
  • My blood pressure is normal without medication.
  • My blood sugar is normal.
  • My triglycerides are normal.
  • My heart rate is normal.
  • I don’t have to shop at plus-sized stores any more!
  • My grocery bills have gone way down.
  • My overall health is right on target!
  • I have a whole new wardrobe!
  • I got rid of all of my fat girl clothes.
  • I can use a small suitcase as my clothes do not take up so much room.
  • I am very active.
  • Because of my improved health, I can go to all kinds of fairs and festivals!
  • For the first time in a long time, I really see a future for myself.
  • I look cute in clothes!
  • There is room between me and the steering wheel of my car.
  • I can fit comfortably in most airline seats (as comfortable as one can get in those).
  • I can run a little bit.
  • I re-discovered just how awesome my friends and family are!

Sometimes this journey is still hard. I will always have challenges, and I will always fight this fight. But for the first time in my life, I feel like I am winning!

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Colleen’s Fleet Street Spinach Pie

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So, my friend Joanna who is in my writer’s group had a wonderful little party last night. The New York Philharmonic performed Sweeney Todd and she was the assistant producer. PBS filmed the production and it was broadcast on Friday night. Joannaaaaaaaaaa had a private screening for all her friends where she served “meat” pies and held a pie making contest.

I made spinach pie. I had never done that before. I was not really sure how to make a spinach pie. I had a three goals in mind when I started. One, I wanted a vegetable and spinach is my favorite. I was a little afraid that with meat pies and fruit pies, I would not have anything that was very bariatric friendly. Two, being bariatric friendly, I didn’t want to eat too much crust. And three, I wanted to win.

So, I perused a few spinach pie recipes and then just winged it. It was absolutely delicious. Even people who claim not to like spinach liked it. And I won!

I won a little plastic 1st place medal, a decanter of whiskey which I cannot drink, and the best part of all! I won a one month light membership to Canvas, which is an alternative co-work space for artistic types who do not have an office.

I was so thrilled because I really only expected to win the bragging rights for making the best pie, which really would have been enough for me. (Don’t tell Joanna, though!)

People have been asking me for the recipe. While I’m a good cook, I’m really bad at putting together recipes. I’m the worst kind of cook. I don’t measure and I just mix everything together until it “looks right”. So, here is the recipe for my award-winning Fleet Street Spinach Pie! Good luck!

Happy Sunday Morning

I made a promise on this blog Friday I think it was. I promised to go to the gym at least one day this weekend, possibly two. I kept that promise yesterday.

I went to the gym for the first time in nearly a year. I did 30 minutes on the elliptical and I did the Body Flow class. Today my muscles are doing this:

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Nonetheless, I am currently sitting at the Starbucks next to Gold’s Gym in South Arlington. As soon as I am done with this blog, drinking ample quantities of their dark roast coffee, and drinking some water, I am going to head over to the gym for yet another punishing workout.

I have been afraid to get on the scale. I think I’m going to cut myself a break and give myself a good solid week of working out before I brave the big, scary scale. I need to be a bit stronger for that.

So, I have been asked to tell some more stories about my cat. I haven’t really talked about her or shared pictures of her in a while. I have been trying to get some pics of her sitting on me, but she’s quite uncooperative. She’s kind of like my six-year-old niece. When she knows we want a really good picture of her, she does everything she can to sabotage it…looks the other way, moves, makes a strange face, ignores you. I think they are in collusion with one another to ruin all fun pictures.

Anyway, here is my cat sitting on me looking very unhappy.

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And yet another pic of her sitting on “her” chair.

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When I moved into this apartment, a friend of mine gave me this extremely tacky yet fun purple shoe chair. I love it. One, it’s purple. And I love the color purple. Two, it’s so obnoxious. I mean, look at it. It goes with absolutely nothing, and yet it works for me.

Anyway, almost as soon as the chair was brought into the apartment, Naomi claimed it as hers. I think she sees it as a giant scratching post. She sits on it, sleeps on it, sits on the very tip-top. She even barfed on it once.

If I every TRY to sit on it, she throws a complete fit. I was talking to my mother on the phone while sitting on this chair and Naomi attacked me and meowed ceaselessly until I moved. My sister came over once and tossed a jacket on the top of the chair. Naomi went bananas. Finally, I had to tell my sis that she put her coat on Naomi’s chair. So, my sister moved her coat. She can sit on MY couch, but I cannot sit on HER chair. Typical cat.

She has had a rough time recently. I had to take her to my sister’s place twice this summer so that my sister could watch her. One, I went to the beach for a week. And this past weekend when I went to Pittsburgh.

You would think I’m torturing the cat by the way she reacts. I have to fight her to get her into the cat carrier and she meows all the way there and all the way back home. I can understand. Being a rescue cat, I’m sure she’s used to people putting her in cat carriers and just dumping her on someone else. It is a gut wrenching experience.

She’s good once I get her to my sister’s place. She actually likes it there. And despite her growling, I think she actually likes my sister’s cat, Oscar:

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And Oscar loves Naomi. In fact, my sister told me that when Naomi leaves, Oscar meows and walks around looking for Naomi. Sandy bought Oscar a squeaky toy that is similar to one that Naomi has. Sandy tossed it onto the floor for Oscar and the cat ran downstairs meowing looking for my cat. I feel kind of bad for Oscar. I think she’s kind of lonely.

And Naomi punishes me for taking her away from Oscar. Once I get her home, she sits on the little shelf I have in my bedroom closet and glowers at me for at least a few hours.

On the upside, at least Sandy and I know that if anything happens to one of us, the other can take care of the cat without disrupting their lives too much, because you know, it is all about he cats.

Anyway, I think I have procrastinated enough. Coffee is almost gone. Time to hit the gym. Have a happy Sunday!

 

Some Really Good Things Happened This Week

chillin

That blog title reminds me of one of my favorite childhood books, And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss. And this blog post may ramble about as much as that story does, but I’ll bring it around to a somewhat sane ending, I promise.

I wanted to post about each of these this week, but I feel like I have been all over the place emotionally, time-wise, etc. and just haven’t been able to get it together to blog. So here goes…

Last weekend, I went to Pittsburgh. My high school is having a reunion in November, and I am on the planning committee. In a million years, I never would have thought that I would be one of the people organizing a reunion. I was definitely not one of the popular kids. I was very social. I was in the band, the orchestra for the school plays, FBLA, etc. I knew a lot of people, but one of the cool kids? No. I wouldn’t say that I was tormented by the cool kids the way nerds are in movies. I just wasn’t one of them. I may not have been tortured because my cousins were on the football team and quite popular. Or it could just be that I was so insignificant as to not even warrant being tormented…at least not by the A crowd. Still, if you had told me when I graduated that I would be one of the people planning the reunion, I would have laughed in your face.

That said, I am sooooo excited about the reunion.

Anyway, we had a little pre-reunion get-together to try to drum up interest in the actual reunion and encourage people to sign up. It was sparsely attended, but I still had a good time.

I got way dressed up for this little shin-dig. We had it at the casino in Pittsburgh. I wore my pink sparkly dress and my little silver sandals. I put on make-up. Did my hair. Wore jewelry. I was ready to party. Everyone else wore jeans and casual clothes. Ha!

A small group of the “cool kids” did show up. Most of them had no idea who I was. I introduced myself to one guy and he just shook his head and said, “Yeah, I don’t remember you.” I told him I was in the band. And he replied, “That did not help at all!” I was like, “Dude! We were in home room together for four years! WTF?”

The one guy did know who I was because I talked to him at the last get-together. I have also had a quick email exchange with his wife, who was the most popular girl in our class. (Yes, the beautiful people married each other and had beautiful children.) They are lovely, truly. So nice. And they always were. She owns a fitness place in Pittsburgh, which is very cool…of course.

But the best part of the evening was when the one girl, who I really thought was super-cool in high school, told me that she reads my blog all of the time. I have friended a bunch of my high school friends, so they have access to my blog posts. And everyone sitting there all nodded their heads and said they read it too! They told me it is great, so honest, and they love the story of my transformation. I was on cloud 9.

So yeah, that happened. I think the reunion will be fun.

Speaking of schools…my writer’s group is back at the high school this week. We have been meeting at a local high school for the past few years. The PTA generally sponsors us so that we do not have to pay, because, let’s face it, we are aspiring writers and therefore have no money. But that’s not the cool part.

They moved our room on us. We are now meeting in a class room instead of the room we were meeting in last year. So now, we have to sit in desks. I haven’t been able to fit into a desk since…well since high school.  OK, maybe the first couple of years of college too. The last time this group met in a class room, I had to find a chair and sit at the table. So, I walked in and saw desks and my stomach just dropped. I immediately thought, “Oh crap!”

But, the good news is…I fit! I sat down in the desk and I had lots of room! Of course I did. I no longer weigh 300 pounds! Still, the fear was there that I might have to squeeze in.

The last good thing I will write about hasn’t actually happened yet. I have decided that I need to get my butt back to the gym. I really am just tired of this last 46 pounds hanging on. I want to lose them! Even if I don’t get all the way down to 125, I’ll be happy in the 130s range. I just want to get the losing weight part of my journey done with and I’m so close. I would like to lose it before the reunion. I do not know if that will happen, but if I get down to the 150s by then, that will be good.

I am going to hit the gym this weekend, both days if I can. I am also going to finally break down and buy a new scale. There is also a gym 3 blocks from where I work. I am going to start bringing gym clothes to work and hit that gym after work. I have to walk by it 2x a day. No excuse not to just stop in.

So there are 11 weeks until the reunion. That’s 4 pounds a week. That might be a bit excessive as far as weight loss goes, but like I said, I do not expect to get all the way there. If I start the new year at or close to goal, that will be good enough.

I have another blog post about weight loss and my own experience body dysmorphia brewing, but that will have to be for another day.

Have a great weekend!