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Archive for the ‘fat’ Category

When success isn’t a habit

They say the habit of success creates more success.

What if you don’t have a habit of success?

My weight loss has currently stalled, and it’s messing with my head.

When I was in my early 20s, I did Optifast. Very unhealthy, but I didn’t know that then. I don’t have any records, but I’m pretty sure I lost around 100 lbs. I do know I ended up as a size 18, 2 sizes smaller than I wore at my HS graduation. Unfortunately, while Optifast was great for fast weight loss, they don’t teach you anything about dealing with any emotions that might affect your eating, nor do they actually teach you much about how you actually need to eat going forward. At least, that’s how it was in 1990.

In 2005 I went on the Atkins diet and I lost 100 lbs in 9 months. Unfortunately, I didn’t do it in a really healthy way. I didn’t know I was allergic to soy, which is in absolutely everything (salad dressing in particular) and it made me throw up a lot. I was intentionally eating low carb and unintentionally also really low calorie. I got down that 100 lbs and then I was stuck. I have journals from that period. I was not cheating. I was not over eating for my weight at the time. I was diligent, obsessive, and really, really frustrated.

In 2007 I developed another hernia and the surgeon told me that if I didn’t lose more weight they couldn’t fix it and I would die. So I stuck to low carb and got a little crazy with the calories and I lost another 20 lbs. I also lost my hair, my libido, my energy, my tolerance to cold, and my menstrual cycle went insane, but my TSH was still fine, so it couldn’t possible be a thyroid problem.

In 2011 I finally paid out of pocket for a Reverse T3 test and was not even slightly shocked to see that is was really, really out of range. So then I paid out of pocket to see an Integrative medicine specialist (the doctors who have an MD, but have also studied holistics, herbals, and non standard treatments.) He finally diagnosed my very low thyroid. He diagnosed my trashed adrenals (too many years of extreme dieting, another not-surprise). He diagnosed my trashed gut biome. That was kind of a new thing in 2011.

Then we moved unexpectedly and I lost access to my great new doctor. My weight ballooned with stress and bad eating. My hormones went insane. It was a nightmare. I tried several diets and got absolutely nowhere. Not even the 20 or so lbs I should have been able to count on just from water weight.

Utterly demoralizing.

So I studied more. I fixed my food sensitivities. I lived on homemade soup for about a year trying to solve nutritional deficiencies. I got my thyroid properly propped up. I sorted out my adrenal issues and support as necessary. I spent an entire summer focusing on fixing my gut biome.

I have high hopes that I have fixed the basic non-food issues that caused my problems in the first place.

But what if I didn’t?

My early Weight Watchers results have been good, but I’m now at a set point I’ve been to at least twice in the past. This is the weight I was when low carb stopped working. This is the weight I was when I first did Optifast.

I am absolutely panicked that this is the best I’ll get.

Intellectually I know that isn’t likely. I know that plateaus and stalls are normal. I know that my body is reshaping itself because my clothes are fitting differently. I know that I’m weighing and measuring and following the program. I know there is absolutely no reason that it should stop working right now.

But what if I’m wrong?

I tried telling myself that this new place is better, much better, than where I started. That isn’t helping in the slightest.

So I’m working out my panic in a blog. Because that’s what bloggers do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Not your mother’s WW

Back at the beginning of October, Mike and I started Weight Watchers after his cardiologist complained about his weight again, even though all his tests were excellent. I had an epic meltdown dealing with my own issues, and then we settled down.

We both started losing right away. Mike lost nice and steadily, because men are horrible that way, and as a premenopausal woman, I lost in fits and starts, but my progress was acceptable, and I wasn’t really invested in it anyway. I was there for Mike, I was tracking for Mike, and my body, which had declined to pay attention to many diets in the past, would do whatever it was going to do.

We made it past things that were traps for a lot of people in our group. We avoid Halloween candy by ignoring the holiday. We were getting very few trick-or-treaters anyway. We don’t have family nearby, so I bought one portions worth of a few treats for Thanksgiving, and that was that. No issues with leftovers. I had a lovely little birthday party and ate what I felt like for one day, having skipped treats on Thanksgiving, and I felt fine about it.

Then I wound up in the hospital. Twice.

I must say, hospitals are fabulous for weight loss. There was the 4 days I wasn’t allowed to eat while they waited for my gut to wake up after surgery. There were the 2 weeks of recovery when I had the appetite of a toddler. 6 bites every 2 hours. Then there was the week I got progressively sicker and lost my appetite again, the week I was horribly ill on ivs and anti-emetics and barely managed protein bars or shakes once or twice a day. And even after that, I was still healing and recuperating, which are energy intensive.

From my last official weigh in the week after Thanksgiving to the weight taken in my primary care doctors office the week after I got out, I lost 30 lbs. On the one hand, I feel a little weird about ‘claiming’ that, because I didn’t do anything intentional, it just happened. On the other hand, it looks awesome on my graph.

The thing is, in the 2 months since I’ve been home, I’ve dropped another 20 lbs. That I’ll definitely claim, but it’s still been pretty effortless. WW did that for me. This is not your mother’s WW in the days of starvation and shaming. This latest iteration, based on ever changing and improving science, is pretty easy. Here are what I consider the high points.

Points.

It’s a joke. Points are the current cornerstone of the WW system, and they are the reason it works so well for us.

Based on the WW esoteric formula, which probably includes weight, age, and gender, I get a number of points. My meals are made up of a combination of points and zero point foods. Most everything your cardiologist thinks you should eat is zero points. Lean chicken or turkey, salmon, all fresh veggies and fruits. Points are for other stuff like buttered toast, olive oil, or even cookies. It’s all on you, but there is no reason to be stuck with things you don’t like, and no need to ever be hungry. And, as you lose, you also lose points, which is a little sad to see, but it means you don’t have to constantly worry if you are eating too much, or to sit down and do your own math.

Points encourage you to eat real, whole foods. If you have a cup of chopped pineapple and a banana, it’s zero points. If you blend them up into a smoothy, you’re losing some of the benefits of the fiber, and it’s no longer zero. It also digests a lot faster. I have no trouble at all working the points around my various food issues, although I resent a bit that gluten free foods are higher in points then non gluten free.

The food point database makes things very easy. I’ve tried food tracking in the past and it made me completely crazy. Figuring out grams of this and sorting through a huge database of unrelated things all the time. The search function works really well, it’s easy to adjust your portion of whatever according to how much you ate. It remembers what you had the past few days, so your favorites are easy to find.

I have to say, I’m surprised, but ecstatic at my progress. I’m really glad this came up after I spent the summer rebuilding my gut biome and I was really ready for it. It is much, much easier for me than all the years I low carbed when I never felt satisfied. I would highly recommend it.

 

Summer upgrades

This summer, I’m getting upgrades!

NEW KNEES!!!!

I found a surgeon who is willing to take me as a patient, and this summer I’ll be having both knees replaced. The worse knee in July, and the second in September.

Obviously, I’m very excited about it.

Back in 2015 or so when I saw my first orthopedist about why the heck my leg hurt so much, he sadly looked at my xrays and carefully explained that, although there was a lot of damage, I was too young, and too fat, and my knees couldn’t be replaced, so I should go talk to these people about pain management.

I wasn’t in a great place at that point, either physically or emotionally. I didn’t go talk to other surgeons. I didn’t do any research. I just accepted that as a fact, too fat for knee replacement. Somehow I believed it was a limitation of the replacement parts or something. Eventually in 2016 I went to see a pain specialist, and I’ve been working with her ever since to manage some basic functionality. And I’ve just lived with ever decreasing mobility and constant pain.

Fast forward to last winter. My hospital adventures started in an emergency room, and although most of that is hazy because they were very prompt at providing the good drugs, one moment stands out very clearly. I was listing the various medications I’m on for my records, and I think I said “and I’m on x dose of y pain med because of my knees. I have severe osteoarthritis in both knees, but they won’t replace them because I’m too fat.” And the nurse’s reply rang in my head like a bell and I still remember it perfectly, in part because I didn’t expect profanity. She said “That’s the biggest load of bullshit I’ve ever heard. You need to get another opinion.”

Since she’s a nurse in a hospital, I assumed she definitely knew something I didn’t, and I filed that away.

Fast forward to my eventual release from the hospital. The second time. My insurance provided homecare specialists, including 2 therapists, one for arms, and one for legs. I made sure to ask each of them who they thought was the best person locally for knee replacements. They each independently recommended Dr F.

Once I was feeling better, one of the first things I did was call for an appointment.

“I’d like to make a new patient appointment to see Dr F at the Alexandria office.”

“Alexandria, that’s tough, let me see…oh, here’s one next Tuesday.”

“Perfect.”

So I only had to wait a week to get in to see him. By the time the day of the appointment arrived, I was so nervous. I wanted this so much!

Dr. F was a jerk about my weight. But it wasn’t completely superfluous. The statistics are clear, fat patients have more problems and more infections post surgical than normal weight patients. I was not happy that he gave me a long lecture about bariatric surgery and told me to go talk to these people, here’s a pamphlet, as if there was some chance I hadn’t already looked into that option. In truth, by the end of my appointment, I wasn’t perfectly sure he’d accepted me as a candidate until he said “I’ll send the nurse in to schedule.”

It’s on!

Now I am very, very focused on doing everything I can to improve expected outcomes. I’m back in the pool 2 days a week, working as hard as possible. I also found out that they now make seated elliptical machines and I’m using that to improve flexibility in my knees as they are now. When I saw my pain specialist I discussed the need for extra meds so I can manage the pain of more exercise when my latest cortisone shot wears off in about 6 weeks. I’ve always been as sparing as possible with the good drugs, but now that there is an end in sight, I’m willing to take what I need to build strength.

Turns out my pain specialist also respects this surgeon, he’s the one she refers knee patients to. Although she agrees he has the social demeanor of, well, the average surgeon.

I can’t even properly explain how excited I am that I’m going to get my life back.

Am I really doing this?

If you read this post, or really any of my posts, you’ll know I have a lifetime of Issues about dieting, weight loss, and body image. Emotionally, I would rather stay fat than ever face another diet again, ever. Too much trauma. Too many horrible experiences. Too many unintentional physical consequences like seriously messing up my adrenals.

20171028_190212And then my beloved says “I want us to do this together, I need your support.”

And there you are, signing up for Weight Watchers.

We signed up for the six months that would be necessary if either of us wanted to be considered for weight loss surgery. No decisions have been made about that. I don’t think he’ll need it.

We signed up over the weekend so we could check out the specifics. How many points? (plenty) How comprehensive is the database? (Very, even a lot of my specialty foods are in there.) We had already planned to eat two places we enjoy that we won’t be frequenting for a while.

Beloved, who adores data, immediately became obsessive about checking points, entering points, figuring out possible meal combinations, and has in general come in under his points every day. Even the day we had pizza. This surprises me not at all.

I have had several panic attacks. I have had crying fits. I had a dream of my body asking me to please, please, not take her food away again. I’ve been a complete mess.

Let me be clear, my behavior in no way reflects the reality of the WW system. I have ample points. They focus on whole foods and there is absolutely no reason to ever be hungry. There is real flexibility and there is no reason not to indulge in favorite foods on a reasonable basis. Beloved researched very carefully before we got started to make sure it would work with my various food allergies, and without any kinds of frankenfood, which we both avoid. It’s not them. It’s me.

It’s been a week now. In between my fits, I’ve kept track of most of my points, made some very simple changes to a few things, and haven’t been hungry. Or deprived. If my brain and my poor tortured Inner Dieter can catch up to the reality, I can probably make this work and properly support the love of my life.

Whether or not it will make any difference in my weight is a whole other kettle of traumatized fish.

More from the cardiologist

My husband had his two year follow up from the cardiologist the other day. The good news is, he looks great. She’s very pleased. The better news is, he also had a stress test (which he utterly failed 2 years ago before his quadrupal bypass) and he passed with flying colors.

The best news is, he’s finally off the beta blocker, which slows down his heart rate and is known to cause weight gain. The doctor is sure that isn’t his weight loss problem. Really, she’s sure. I think she just doesn’t like that as an answer. Because the last time she cut his dose his slow weight creep stopped, and it has been slowly, painfully inching down, even though his meals (which I procure, so I am certain) haven’t changed a bit.

The bad news is, he got another lecture on being fat and what a risk factor it is for future problems. I am very, very glad he takes his health seriously, but I don’t really love to hear doctors pushing weight loss surgery. There was a conversation about whether or not our insurance really will cover it, despite categorically stating that it doesn’t, but we’ve put that aside for the moment.

Because as a fat woman, you can be certain that 1) I have looked into the surgery and 2) I have friends who have had it. More research will be done, but one thing that seems to be standard is, in order to have the surgery, you must have been in a standardized weight loss program of some sort for 6 months before you  can be approved. And if that is the case, we might as well start there and see if he ever even needs to consider surgery. Which, off beta blockers, I think he won’t need.

And that is how we joined Weight Watchers.

 

Which way is care?

I wrote this some months ago and held it back because it felt too raw, but now it is January and the season of dieting, so it’s time to post it.

On a private forum with women I care dearly for, there have recently been a number of posts about how they are once again getting back on the strict diet wagon in the endless pursuit of a size they like better.

My next thought was that I, too, should get back on the diet bandwagon because there is no question that my life would be easier if I were lighter.

And right after that thought, my stomach clenched. And I was overcome with a very visceral feeling of fear. And it was all I could do not to cry.

This is crazy.

I have spent over half my life depriving myself of food. Punishing myself for being fat. Eating what I ‘should’ even when I really, sincerely, would rather never eat again than have another bite of kale.

Just the passing thought of another strict diet was panic inducing. I can’t. I feel frantic, and sick about the idea. My body is enacting a flight response. It is clear to me that my body and mind find the idea traumatizing.

Even worse than that are the voices ringing through my mind as I type this. The kind ones say I shouldn’t give up on myself. The firm ones tell me no pain no gain and if I just try <insert preferred method> that it will be easy and I’m sure to see results.

The last results I got were burnt out adrenals and a thyroid crisis.

There are even uglier voices in my head too. Quitter. Loser. Fat lazy slob.

At what point does something you do for yourself become something you do to yourself?

Why is cutting bad, but starving yourself good? Why are recreational drugs bad, but damaging your brain chemistry via food is encouraged?

I think about the best eating plan to follow and I feel despair. Another long procession of food that I don’t want. Forcing myself to eat, and yet still so hungry.

Does saying no make me weak? or Strong? Is it self love, or self hate?

If it were a job I hated that much, people who love me would tell me to do everything possible to find another job.

If it were a relationship with a person that caused me such fear and anguish, people who love me would tell me that it’s a bad relationship and that I should remove myself.

Somehow because it is food and fat, the rules are different.

But after a lifetime of self torture, I’m ready to try living a new way, where I might treat myself with love and respect and ignore the voices that tell me I must fit into a mold that is too small for me.

So no more kale for me.

Unico 20.87- Unplugged

 

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Riviera Maya let us unplug. That’s not to say that Unico didn’t have complete wireless access everywhere on the property. It did. They also assured me that they offered free long distance calls to the States and Canada. But we had agreed that we would treat it as a cruise, where internet or phone access is ridiculously priced so we opt out. I checked my email twice a day to see if there was anything from my cat sitters and that was it. We unplugged. No phone, no news, no social media.

I don’t realize how much all the frantic activity wears on me until I opt out of it. I ‘knew’ that I’ve found this year to be particularly stressful, but I didn’t really ‘know’ until I got away. And now that I’m back, I’m very reluctant to completely reconnect.

I really enjoyed reading for long hours. I enjoyed having good conversations with my Beloved, and several with the random other people I met in the pool, or at the spa. I loved feeling that I had plenty of time to just sit back and watch the clouds and listen to the wind.

Where do we balance our need to be informed citizens and the desire to participate with our friends and loved ones, even if only online, with the need for quiet introspection and space to just think? Daily meditation practice, even when I’m good about it, isn’t quite enough.

One thing that surprised me was how distressed I felt watching other people at the quiet pool be on their phones. Not talking, that would have been rude, but intent on their screens. I thought it was sad. To go to such a beautiful place and stay connected to the electronic tether. To miss out on the moment while glued to the every day world by screen. That may not be at all fair. Maybe they were e-readers and no different from my own vacation choices. Not that it was any of my business anyway, but it bothered me quite a bit. Such an amazing moment was offered, and it seemed like they were missing it.

The other thing I didn’t notice until we returned was how beautifully quiet it was. I live outside DC and even though my neighborhood is thoroughly suburban and could be anywhere, you can always just barely hear the sound of the traffic, of airplanes. Of neighbors tending their lawns. It’s always something. The only mechanical sound I really heard there was the constant hum of the air conditioners, and honestly, I’d have really missed those if they weren’t there.

I wonder if there is a way to find that quiet and peace at home, or if it really requires stepping out into another world? The holiday season is almost upon us, so I guess I’ll have time to experiment.

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