Tag Archives: thin

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.

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.

Re-Evaluating My Life

OMG I have been trying to post for days, but it seems life just happens sometimes! 

Big news…I’m down to 190.  As my baby sister tells me, I’m in One-derland!  She put that on Facebook when I announced I was down to 199.  She simply said Onederland!  So, of course I called her and said, “What’s Oneederaland?”  She cracked up.  (If you didn’t get this, stop reading and go watch “That Thing You Do” right now.  Seriously.  Go!  Now!)

And I’ve lost 108 pounds!  Wow!  I feel like a completely different person.  I really do.  I caught myself running across the street today to avoid being smooshed by oncoming traffic.  Me.  Running!  I could barely walk before. 

I have also been taking walks at night after work.  On purpose!

Who is this person I have become?  I feel like I do not even know myself anymore.  More than that, I have found myself contemplating what I want to do with the rest of my life, now that I seem to almost have one again.

When I started my journey more than a year ago, my goals were simple.

  • Lose Weight
  • Be Healthier
  • Not Die

Dressing better, having a more active life, etc. I pretty much viewed to be ancillary benefits, but not really the focus of why I was doing the surgery.  I wanted these things, yes, but more than that, I wanted to be healthy and not die.

But now that I have lost 108 pounds and I am only 65 pounds away from my goal weight, I feel like I have kind of achieved those three simple goals I set for myself initially.  I have lost a lot of weight.  I am much healthier than I was.  And I’m still alive!  But I find I want more.  A lot more.

So, I have spent my non-blogging time thinking of new things I’d like to do now that I am thinner and healthier.  Kind of my own personal bucket list of sorts, I guess.

  • Travel – While I have been to many states within this country, I have never really been anywhere outside of the US.  I have been to Toronto and the Bahamas and they barely count as foreign countries even though they technically are.  I’ve always wanted to go to Europe – London, Paris, Rome, Madrid, etc.  But I also want to see places like Mumbai, Beijing, and Tokyo as well.  I’m a travel agent for crying out loud.  What the hell have I been doing all of these years?
  • Write – Yes, I write now.  I blog.  I write short stories.  I write essays.  I have a couple of novels in various stages of incompleteness.  But I mean, I really want to write.  I want to finish something.  Be successful.  Sell some books.  Make some money writing to finance the rest of my dreams.  I’m tired of sitting behind a desk booking other people’s fun vacations. 
  • Spoil my niece – I kind of do this already, but it’s ridiculously easy to spoil a five-year-old.  Her expectations are pretty low comparatively speaking.  Stuffy (OK, Doc McStuffins has her own Wiki? WTF?) , a Llama Llama t-shirt, and a balloon for her birthday made her day.  What happens when she becomes a teenager?  Or graduates high school?  She’ll need a car.  Summer abroad.  A trust fund.  I don’t know how getting thinner and healthier helps me provide these for her, but there’s gotta be something I could do.
  •  Fall in love – Let’s face it, it’s been a long time since I’ve really fallen for someone or even really crushed on someone.  Or better yet, had them crush on me.  ❤  I think a good romance would do me some good and go a long way to boosting my too long neglected self-esteem.  Failing that, however, I wouldn’t mind having one or two…
  • Torrid affairs – I haven’t had nearly enough of these in my life, either.  I think everyone needs a few under their belts, so to speak, to keep them sane.  Now that’s a character building experience I wouldn’t mind having.  🙂

Seriously, though, what I really want more than anything is to live and really experience all that life has to offer.  I’m just so happy that I now feel well enough to try to do it!

Owning Your Own Body Image

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I saw this image on Facebook today and it really started me thinking about body image.  Well, I was kind of already thinking about it, really since weight loss, bariatric surgery, food, my own body image, etc are really all I seem to think about any more.

I look at this image, and I automatically start thinking, “Gee, they forgot a few descriptors for each of these women.”  I mean, seriously, there are endless lists stereotypes to describe both of these women.  All of us make judgements every day about the people we see. 

For the woman on the left you could also add:  Beautiful, Blonde, Air-head, Dumb, Tall, Pretty, Anorexic, Skinny, Popular, Slut.

For the woman on the right you could add: Fat, Chubby, Stupid, Ashamed, Loser, Un-loveable, Lonely.

I’m a woman.  I’m a feminist.  I’m overweight.  I have poor self-image.  And these are the thoughts that go through MY head when I see this image.  I’m certainly not proud of myself for admitting this.  Clearly, on a certain level, I have bought into negative stereotyping.  I also recognize that these identification tags have more about how I see myself than how I view them.  When I look at the woman on the right, I see her as a reflection of how I see myself.  When I look at the woman on the left, I see everything I think I am not.

Can you imagine what someone who much more judgemental thinks?

I know nothing about either of these women.  For all I know, this is a completely computer generated image.  These women may not even exist.  They could be models.  They could be just average women making a point.  But that does not matter.  What matters is what we think about when we look at them.

Women judge themselves as much or more harshly than they judge other women.  My questions then are when do we stop buying into the negativity and false stereotypes foisted on us by a judgemental society that thinks they have the right to own, judge, and define us?  When do we own our bodies?  When do we own our own self-image?  When do we decide who we are?

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to start today.

I am smart.  I am pretty.  I am capable.  I am attractive.  I am independent.  I am proud.  I am happy.  I am a woman.  I am strong.  I am likeable.  I am loveable.  I am healthy.

How about you?

I survived!

No, I did not have to be rushed to the hospital for anxiety because I had a public speaking gig on Wednesday.  I survived it and it actually went pretty well.  I did nervously race through all of my remarks in about 20 minutes, which was kind of hilarious.  The leader of the writing group did notice that too.  He just smiled at me and he and another writer actually helped me out by starting a very detailed and lively discussion about my writing “process.”  Everyone asked me a lot of questions as if I am some kind of expert.  Ha! I was actually very comfortable with answering questions, so that went very well. 

The workshop was called From Real Life to Fiction.  I have taken a lot of my own real life events and then fictionalized them, often creating completely different stories.  Some have been pretty good and others not so much.  One story actually received honorable mention in a contest, so I guess that’s something. 

But enough about writing…onto weight loss.

I am down to 201.  That’s a total of 97 pounds.  I am surprised that I lost anything at all this week, I have been very bad food-wise.  One day I actually ate quite a lot, which is not good.  I have also had trouble keeping myself on a normal eating schedule.  I’ve just been so busy.  Plus I have been feeling very bloated.  But on the flip side, the chronic constipation has abated.  Keeping my fingers crossed that I can keep that at bay. 

I am kind of excited about the 201 mark.  In just 2 pounds, I will be in territory I have not seen in more than 20 years…below the 200 mark!  It’s kind of a big deal.  Ok, let me be honest here…it’s more than kind of a big deal…it’s a ginormous deal!  I am also freaking out just a little bit, too.  Dropping below the 200 pound mark somehow makes it all seem like this is all really going to happen.  I am really finally going to be thin, whatever that means.  I have not been “thin” since my early 20s. 

It’s weird, because I never thought of myself as thin when I was younger.  In high school, I weighed about 125-128-ish.  College, my weight went up to about 130-140-ish.  At 140, I may have been a little bit chubby, but I certainly was not fat.  I certainly thought I was, however. 

Self image is a strange thing.  I guess sometimes it is easier to believe the negative stuff.  I know I did for a long time.  I am trying to change that, though.  I still struggle with it, but I try to keep telling myself over and over again all of the things that I want to be as if they are true.  I am thin.  I am beautiful.  I am healthy.  I am smart.  I am a good writer.  I am successful.  I am loveable.  I am confident.

I don’t always feel these things, but I try.  Maybe if I keep telling myself this, I will truly begin to believe them.  Maybe if I keep it up long enough, they will all one day be true.

Enjoy some cherry blossoms.  It rained today, so they are all most likely gone already. 

Cherry Blossoms

Conquering The Fear

Like pretty much all people, I have been living with fear my entire life.  In my case, however, that fear has been paralyzing.  I felt stuck for a very, very long time.  I kept waiting for it to end, for life to get better and less scary, but that just was not happening. 

I tried many forms of escape to keep me from dealing with my problems and facing the truth.  I have already discussed on this blog my obsession with World of Warcraft.  Obviously, I over-ate.  And I had a whole host of financial problems.  Each of these fed off the other, spiraling around and around, keeping me in a very dark place for a very long time.

I was unable to break the pattern and set any kind of realistic goals for my life and I was not doing the things I know I needed to do to make my life better.  Furthermore, I was absolutely convinced that my obesity was going to kill me sooner rather than later.  I could not handle any kind of real stress.  My blood pressure was out of control.  I had pains all over my body.  My feet are a mess.  My back is a mess.  I was certain I was days away from a stroke or heart attack.  I was afraid of dying.  I was afraid of not dying.  I hated going out with my friends in case I got myself into a situation where I could not walk to where they wanted to go or I could not afford a cab if I needed it.  Not to mention my finances were out of control.  A few more months of ignoring the problem and I’m sure I would have been homeless.

What did I do about all of this?  Nothing.  I spent more time living in Azeroth, (see previous WoW reference), than the real world.  I mean it would have been fine if I was living inside some fantasy world that I created in my head and was writing it all down in the form of short stories or a novel, sold the book on Amazon and made a mint,  but I wasn’t.  My escape was a computer generated fantasy land where I totally rocked.  Except in real life, I did not.  My real life was falling spectacularly to pieces around me.

I had to do something.  I finally accepted that my life would not improve if I did not take action.  When I made the decision to do something about my health, I just started fixing everything else as well.  I kind of had to.  Everything was connected.  Things were a mess for quite a while, but they did start to slowly get better.  Some of the health changes that I started making before the surgery really improved my quality of life just a little.  And let’s face it, a little bit of improvement was a big change for me. 

I took control of my finances.  I had to borrow money from a friend of mine with the caveats that I would take decisive action to fix the problem and that I pay him back.  I am happy to report all of my bills are paid.  I have money in my savings account.  Furthermore, I only owe him one more payment, which will occur next month.  I’m not proud of the fact that I had to do this, but I am very proud of the fact that I was able to turn things around and pay him back.  He’s has been my best friend for 25 years and I would do nothing to jeopardize that friendship.  Clearly he is way too good to me.

I have moved out of Azeroth.  I no longer play WoW.  I did have a very short visit there recently when I took advantage of a 10-day free trial.  I took that time to put a whole bunch of game gold in my personal guild bank which was chock full of game goodies.  Then I gave it all away to some random newbie player.  When the 10 days ran out, I did not re-up.  They had my old debit card info and I never gave them my new info, so the account has been deactivated and I have not looked back.

My health has significantly improved.  I have lost 90 pounds.  I walk everywhere.  My back no longer hurts so much.  My feet still have some problems, but they are getting better.  I no longer live daily wondering if today is the day I will have a stroke or heart attack.  I know I still have a long way to go and that I still have many health problems to fix, but I feel so completely different.  I feel good for the first time in a very, very long time.

I am no longer afraid of every little thing.  I feel more confident.  My friends have even told me that I act more confidently.  At one of my writer’s group meetings, one of my friends told me that during a critique I spoke confidently and with authority.  I was kind of surprised.  I never thought of myself that way.  Yeah, my little brother and sisters always told me I was bossy, but that was only because they are family.  I immediately thought, what right do I have to speak with authority about someone else’s work?  I’m a novice and a dilettante at best.   Then I thought, meh, somebody has to do it, why not me?

You see, I still have fears and doubts, but I am no longer crippled by them.  I still find myself falling down that dark hole sometimes, being tempted by horrible food.  Not wanting to leave my apartment.  Still tempted to return to my old ways of escape.  Still wondering if my bad choices will catch up to me some day.  I just do not let those thougths paralyze me.  I recognize what is happening much sooner so that I can stop it.  I just feel much better equipped to face my fears.  Maybe one day, I will actually conquer them.

 

Being Prepared: It Is Not As Easy As It Looks

Now that I am working at an office again, I have to spend a lot of time preparing and being ready for my day as far as food and vitamins go.  Staying on schedule as far as food/drink/protein/vitamins is very important post surgery. 

When I worked from home, it was pretty much a no-brainer.  I could cook when I want.  Take my vitamins and drink my protein as necessary.  Everything was right there with me.  It was easy.

Now I have to make sure that I have two protein supplements, all of my vitamins for the day, my lunch for the day, and money to purchase food in case I forgot something.  Not to mention, I have to factor in a 30 minute breakfast window into my morning routine.  I normally just barely have time to shower, dry my hair, style my hair, get dressed – keeping in mind that he getting dressed portion of my routine includes squeezing myself into some Spanx – find everything I need to take with me and dash out the door in time to catch the bus to the metro.  Now I have to take 30 minutes to have breakfast?  What a P.I.T.A.

I tried eating breakfast while I dry my hair and get dressed, but that has not been working out too well.  I start eating and then forget I was eating and end up throwing it away.  Or I eat too fast and get a stomach ache.  Not good.

I could wait to get to work to have breakfast.  If I do that, I have to carry one additional meal with me on the Metro.  Plus that puts my breakfast too close to lunch.  So, I either put off lunch until later in the day, have my meals too close together, don’t get enough water in, skip a protein supplement so that I’m not too full for lunch, or some combination of the aforementioned.  It just throws my whole schedule off if I wait. 

It has been a struggle to get the combination right, but I think I have a good system going.  I have also done some things to help me streamline the morning process.  I pick out my clothes the night before.  I prepare at least 3-4 days of breakfast and set it aside in refrigerator to only be used for breakfast.  I make 3-4 hard-boiled eggs, small pot of oatmeal, and some kind of fruit.  I also keep extra non-fat plain greek yogurts handy just in case.  I make my lunches ahead of time too.  Then I pack up everything I think I might need; laptop, keys, vitamins, protein supplements, etc.   In the am there is less gathering and less prep work.

Here was my am schedule last week:

  1. 6:30am  – wake up and shower
  2. 6:50am  – dry hair
  3. 7:10am – get dressed
  4. 7:20am – gather everything I need
  5. 7:30am – dash out door

Here is my new and improved schedule for this week:

  1. 6:00am – eat breakfast
  2. 6:30am – shower
  3. 6:50am – dry hair
  4. 7:10am – get dressed
  5. 7:20am – gather everything I need
  6. 7:30am – dash out door

In between all of this in my crazy morning routine, my sister calls me nearly every day.  We have our daily sister-chat in the morning otherwise we would never have time to fit in a good gossip.  Some times we talk for a full 30 minutes, but most days, we barely have 5-10 minutes to talk.  It’s quality not quantity that counts right?

I hate getting up at 6:00am.  It is so early, but I found I had to make starting my eating schedule off properly a priority.  Some days this may shift a bit as I have some flexibility with my starting time.  And days like yesterday where the government was closed, I can work from home which helps. 

I just cannot afford to lose focus just because I am working in an actual office now.  Staying on the proper food/water/protein/vitamin schedule is too important if I want to continue successfully losing weight.