Poking at scabs

Bandaid on a woundWhen I was at my fattest, miserable and deeply unhappy, I dug deep inside and decided that I was worth more than being that person. I was worth changing the way I live my life to be more healthy and eat in ways that didn’t keep me running on that damned hamster wheel.

I asked a male friend to help me, to listen and to hold me accountable for what I said I would do because I didn’t trust myself to stick to it on my own. I had a great track record for starting and then failing so many times that I wanted to beef up the support to help me stay focused until I could it for myself.

That friend did exactly what I had asked of him for a long time but I did the work; he helped me stay focused and was more gentle with me when I failed than I would have been with myself. Over time, I was able to stand on my own two feet and make hard choices and decisions without second guessing what he would say or how he would react.

Our relationship changed to something else along the way, mostly on my end. When I finally ended it, I was in much better shape physically but emotionally was a mess. And when I’m emotionally a mess, I eat for comfort. I’m not proud of it but I am proud that I had learned enough to only gain back 50 lbs instead of the whole 110 that I’d lost.

I thought I had let go of him completely but really, I haven’t and I’m ashamed to admit that I still go online to his website or to sites that I know he’s involved with, or to his Yahoo! profile, to just see what he’s up to. We have no contact – no mail, no phone – and I have nothing physical or digital to remind me of him.

But I continue to poke at the scabs to see if I’m all healed yet. I do that with the bruises from my fall – will it hurt if I push them? how about now? – and of course they do hurt. They wouldn’t hurt at all if I didn’t poke and prod until I get a response. Sometimes nothing is the answer. Not checking his web presence would be a nothing and it will be hard for me after all of these years.

He’s really a loser, involved with a rather seedy business and not someone I like very much, let alone respect at this point. So why do I keep poking the scabs and scars? Because he was the last male who paid attention to me. I was flattered by his attention because attention from men was so rare that I didn’t even recognize it when I was faced with it most of the time. But picking the wounds just keeps them fresh even when so much of me has moved on. Plus it wastes a lot of time that could be so much more productive.

I’ve been dropping pounds slowly but steadily lately and it’s time to go cold turkey on peeking into the past. I have a feeling that getting a handle on this will help me focus on continuing the goal I have for myself, in terms of weight loss, general health and personal satisfaction. Who knows, rumor has it that there are men in CT; maybe I’ll be in a better place to see them when they see me.

Big Medicine

Fat woman in a bikiniI watch a lot of programs on TLC about renovating a wardrobe or a house, and my beloved “Clean Sweep” gives me tips on decluttering. With my unhappy back, I’ve been watching (or listening – I can multi-task) to quite a number of shows in the last few days. And I’ve been noticing the ads for their new show “Big Medicine” which premier’s tomorrow (Mon. May 28 at 9/8 c).

Have you seen the ads? They’re sort of in black and white with large bodies dotted with cellulite, seen only in part with voiceovers talking about things we say to ourselves – things like “I just want to be a normal person.” The voices were heartbreaking to me because I could so easily identify with them and with the lumpy bodies.

The premise of the show is to “chronicle the emotional journeys and transformation of obese people who have opted to undergo weight-loss surgery in an attempt to regain their lives. ” I don’t think I can watch it, however good it may be. I already know it’s an emotional journey and the reasons why people opt to undergo the surgery. I don’t want to see them be exposed and vulnerable because I feel vulnerable myself when I do. It’s not sensible but it’s there.

About 10 years ago I shared a hospital room with a woman who had just had a gastric bypass. Our room was set up so that the beds faced each other which made conversation easier when we felt like talking and weren’t drugged up and out of it. It was the first time I’d talked to someone who had made that choice and we had an open and honest discussion about living as obese women. About all the diets we’d tried and failed; the problems with clothes, furniture, and travel; the deep sadness and anger and sense of personal failures because we were fat and couldn’t reverse course. She took the brave step of surgery; I stayed with Weight Watchers and have going up and down and up and down. I’ve often wondered how she did after her surgery and hoped she was happy.

I’ve been singlemindedly focused on food and weight loss for too long and am now in a different place. My approach now is to just go with the flow, working my program and listening to my body. It’s slow but it works for me and I don’t feel obsessed with food. I know how to do this and can tell I’m making better choices than I was even 6 months ago.

I lost 1.4 lbs this week. And I won’t be watching “Big Medicine.” If you do, tell me how you found it.

No Longer Taking the Back for Granted

Back painI’ve been anticipating (fearing?) a fall for months now, even before Lori had hers in NYC. When your knees are as messed up as mine, the idea of a fall on ice in the winter makes me take baby steps when I walk on untreated surfaces or simply stay inside. Out in Denver two weeks ago, I almost took a major header on the brick sidewalk after exiting a bus while out shopping. I flailed my arms around and that seems to have altered the inevitable crash with the ground.

My luck ran out on Wednesday. Or rather, the anticipated fall arrived.

I was walking back from a doctor’s visit, enjoying the nice weather and taking pictures of things along the way, when I stopped at an ATM machine in one of those little teeeny spots along a strip mall where you use your card to enter. I swiped my card and opened the door and promptly fell forward like a tree falling hard to the ground. No time for the arms to flail, or space either. I knew I was falling and there was nothing I could do about it.

My head had a glancing blow with the machine and my right upper arm/shoulder hit that privacy guard thing on the side. My knees smacked down and my chest took the brunt since my arms were not helping to break the fall. Whooomp. Immediately my BACK started screaming at me, though why the back hurt so much when it was my front that hit, I’m not entirely sure.

People helped me get up, although it took an astonishingly large number of them to get me vertical. That was humiliating, since the aware part of me knew that a smaller person wouldn’t need so many people to haul her weight up, and I found myself apologizing for making it so hard for them. I refused several attempts to call 911 and just thought I needed to walk it off a bit and figure out what hurt.

It didn’t take many steps to realize that my back felt as though it was on fire – the whole back, with every step or turn or breath. My knees were getting stiff, especially the “good one” which hit harder. I walked back to the office, taking a lot longer than the usual 10 min. to make the trip. By then I knew I had to go see someone to get drugs, if nothing else.

I ended up at the hospital ambulatory care unit, much smaller than an ER and also with a shorter wait; I was only there 2 hours. After x-rays and limb pushing and pulling, they told me nothing was fractured and that the back muscles were in spasm. I wasn’t at all surprised that the worst part was in the areas where the front had hit first; I knew from massage therapists that muscle tension on one side is balanced by muscle pain on the other.

I now have big honking Motrin for pain and spacey-making muscle relaxants to, well, relax the muscles and also help with pain control and ice packs on assorted sore places 4-5 times a day.

The hardest part was getting in and out of the car. It’s low to the ground and I do more twisting and turning than I’d realized and with every move or breath making the back fire worse, I found myself sitting in the car with one leg in and the other leg out, trying to gather the nerve for the spiked pain that would get me all in. Getting out wasn’t any easier.

I spent yesterday at home moving as little as possible but enough to keep me from stiffening completely in one position. I’ve been taking the back for granted and had no idea, really, how many things the body does that involves using all those back muscles that are now as sore as hell.

It seems to be resolving itself into knee stiffness and bruising, upper arm stiffness and pain, and moderate to spikingly bad back pain on the right side. I sit and write with an ice pack on that section of the back and it feels wonderful. I also have my trusty bag of frozen peas on the knee.

It’s the Friday before Memorial Day and it would seem sensible to stay home but I don’t think I’m going to. We have an out of state visitor at the library and I already missed my scheduled time with her on Wednesday, having preferred a date with the hospital. So I think I’m going in to fulfill that commitment today and to see what all I left on my disaster of a desk. No sudden moves allowed. I know, going in is not my brightest move; if getting in and out of the car is still as hard as it was, I won’t even start the engine. But I know that moving around – carefully – is good.

It makes a change to be thinking of my body and evaluating pain and muscle reactions instead of only seeing excess pounds.

What I’m eating and not eating now

Eating donutsI came back from my conference tired and with a sore, scratchy throat. For the last two days I sounded like a frog and had no energy to do much beyond watching old movies on Lifetime.

I did go to my WW meeting Sunday morning, just to weigh in. After two weeks away, I wanted to get back to the routine and discipline of stepping on the scale, getting the number recorded, and moving on. I gained 0.6 lbs after eating out in restaurants 3 meals a day for 10 days, so I’m not bothered at all. The weekly weigh in let me touch base with my roots and I really did head out with a clean slate.

Yesterday I ate a lot of potato rolls. Martin’s potato rolls come in an 8-pack that look like yellow hamburger buns and are yummy; the flavor is very rich and satisfying and I can usually content myself with one to make a small sandwich or eat as bread with a meal. Or a snack. Really, any time is good for a potato roll. But mostly I can restrain myself. Yesterday was another story. I looked at my food log and saw “potato roll” listed with every meal and a snack, which is a little bit of overkill.

Those nifty 100-calorie packs that are showing up everywhere with teeny tiny tastes of things I used to eat whole packages of – just make me want to eat the whole box of the little bitty ones, too. These clearly are not good “have on hand for a snack” foods for me. I just don’t get enough satisfaction from one little bag so feel I need to eat more.

This isn’t healthy, so I’m not doing it. The Edy’s Slow Churned ice cream bars? Forgettaboutit. Tried it and failed. Even the WW Toffee ice cream bars don’t work – a serving is 2-3 and at 3 points each, it’s a waste. I can manage having Skinny Cows or Healthy Choice Premium Fudge Bars, and can eat one of those and stop. Most of the time.

Those pre-packaged snacks are really just reminders of things I used to eat, not things that I find particularly satisfying now.  I’m not totally convinced that an apple will taste better than a bag of Fig Newtons, but I understand that I don’t like the way I feel when I eat the cookies.  Pavlov would be pleased that I learned something in the last 5 years.

I guess my biggest pre-processed snacky thing right now are the Fiber One Peanut Butter bars (3 points). LOVE them, though I can’t eat more than one at a time because there is so much fiber that I’m full and don’t want more. Unless I’m stuck on an airplane, when I will eat anything within my reach not nailed down. Something weird happens to me when they close the door and I’m stuck inside.

The smartest thing I did this weekend after going to WW was to hit the grocery store and replenish the fridge with the healthy things that are the staples of my normal life food plan: fat free plain yogurt + cheesecake pudding with strawberries (aka Pudding Yogurt), cans of black beans and corn with avocado, tomatoes and salsa for my salads; peppers, Vidalia onions, grape tomatoes and mushrooms to roast and eat with everything; broccoli to steam; fizzy water; ground turkey to add to Zatarain’s Red Beans and Rice for several meals. Egg Beaters and Kashi Go-Lean blueberry waffles for breakfast. Fresh cherries and bananas.

And potato rolls.

Being squished into seats

I spent this week at my favorite conference with 1800 of my best friends. The sessions are stimulating and practical – and very crowded.

People with bodies my size have a hard time at meetings like these. All those chairs chained together make it difficult to have personal space – whenever a row is filled, people sit in every other chair so there’s room to spill over without risking having the rolls of fat hit anyone else. But then the session turns out to be popular and the chairs fill, and we sit squished on the row, everyone uncomfortable and awkward and vulnerable. Even the thinner people want space around them; for me, it’s a necessity.

I never felt judged for my size – and there were plenty of other people my size or larger who both attended and presented sessions. We know our stuff and are valued for who we are when we go to something like this, not our pounds or body shape.

But it mattered to me. I don’t expect to be skinny; my goal is to be healthy and thinner but not skinny – but I hated that I didn’t go to some sessions because the only seats were those little 1/2 seats left when people on either side had spilled over, just as I know I do. Standing up for an hour wasn’t really an option because my knee was hurting more and more as I walked myself silly.

Crowded planeBeing on the plane on the way home felt the same. We get herded like cattle through security, with instructions barked at us to take off shoes and coats, remove any liquids and put them in little plastic bags, take laptops out of our bags, put everything in the machine, stay in line and don’t change to confuse things, keep moving, have your boarding pass that you just showed to the person who let you into the line in the first place, having bags searched or items wanded to make sure we’re not bringing bombs in with our CPAP medical machines.

Obviously today was not a happy travel day. After a happy 45 minutes of security, we waited in herds before getting on planes where we were chided, er, reminded, that this plane was extremely full (has anyone been on a plane in the last year that WASN’T completely full?) and to keep moving, get our bags shoved in the overhead compartments ASAP, sit into the little squished seat, and try not to breathe for the next 4 hours. Assuming the plane is on time; if not, you have extra time on board while it circles. Getting out is like releasing that “snake in a can” that would explode when the can was finally opened.

As I was looking for a picture of a full plane, I ran into this page that just made me cry. The author is entitled to his opinion. I don’t have the energy to deal with it tonight.

I’ve been eating out for 10 days and wasn’t able to preplan much of anything. I overate points every time I opened my mouth and even though I did record them at the end of the day when I had time, I felt out of control and bloated from not enough water. The hotel water was terrible and bottled water in the quantity I drink got expensive plus I had to be sure not to go far from a rest room – hard to do at a meeting or on a plane.

Now I’m home with a chance to sleep until I wake up, and grocery shop for healthy food. It’s actually a relief to get back to the foods that make me feel good, to my WW meeting on Sunday, and the routine that helps me stay on track.