Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind


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Two Years and Three Weeks Later

On April 4, 2009, I rejoined Weight Watchers. Again. For the eleventy-third time.  I was mildly thinking about bariatric surgery and knew that I would have to have 6 months of a proven track record in an accountable weight loss program, and that WW would count.  But the only thing I was committing to was following a sensible program to reverse the weight-gain process and see what happened.

Who knew where that would lead?  I certainly didn’t – because I was taking one next step at a time, as they came up, and didn’t obsess about getting to an unrealistic place.  Those steps led to lapband surgery, working with a personal trainer, and most recently plastic surgery to get rid of excess skin.  (Which I’ve told you about in excruciating detail.)

Two years and three weeks after walking into WW, I stepped on the scale and realized I was at my goal weight of 175 lbs (well, okay, 175.2 but I’m still counting it).   I’ve lost 46% of my starting weight for a total of 137 lbs.  The last time I was at this weight was when I was in grad school 34 years ago.

Why didn’t I jump online and tell you all about it, you ask?  Well, I confess to putting it up on Facebook and getting some very supportive responses.  But mostly I wanted to just sit with it a while and let it settle in.

Many people start a weight loss journey at this point and don’t understand why I would stop at 175 lbs when in BMI terms it’s still obese.  But I’m where I had secretly wanted to be when I started all those months and years ago.  I don’t pretend to be skinny.  I will never be down to 125 lbs, nor do I want to.  My primary care doctor set my goal weight at 165-175, and I do intend to lose another 5-6 lbs.  There is no hurry, though, and it will get easier when I’m allowed to get back to the gym.

I’m now 9 weeks out from my plastic surgery, something I had no intention of doing when I had my lapband surgery much less when I started back at WW.   The arms are healed and back to full functionality; the belly still has a little bit to go but then, it was major abdominal surgery.  Sometimes I forget that.  Just another step, though a dramatic one.  But it was the right choice for me, at the right time.

One WW tool I learned (and remembered) was anchoring; having something very specific to see or touch to remind me of what I’ve accomplished and what my goals are.  For me, that’s a silver Pandora bracelet for my weight loss journey.  I already have a clock (it was time), an owl (a wise decision), Chinese symbol for happiness, a present (a gift to myself), a Christmas tree (for the pictures that opened my eyes for the need), a queen bee (“Never underestimate the power of a woman”), an embossed Inner Strength bead, a dangling tennis shoe (exercise and the gym), and pretty glass beads.

Next step:  buy two final charms, one a pair of dangling scissors (for surgical “cutting”) and a butterfly.  For the new me.


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Christmas Then and Now

Two years ago I spent Christmas with my family in Texas.  I weighed in at 312 lbs and was sad and not in a good place with my body or my weight.  This year I went again, weighing 182.2 lbs and oh, what a difference!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone I saw told me how beautiful I was, asked me how I did it, didn’t I feel wonderful, was it hard, what could I eat, etc.  And I found I had a hard time knowing what/how to respond, other than to say “thank you.”

I’m in a good place now, a stable place.  I’m proud of my accomplishments, because they are considerable and have been life-changing.  I’ve lost 130 lbs and enjoy shopping for clothes and finding things that both fit and flatter.  My belly and upper arms are annoying because of all the extra skin, but I’m having medically necessary plastic surgery in March to have those areas trimmed (at last I think we’re doing the arms; it depends on insurance).

Back in 2008 I said: “I don’t want to diet. I want to eat sensibly in moderation, to enjoy a variety of food, to ease the stress on my knees, to be comfortable in my body and with myself.  That may be mutually exclusive.  All I can do is try and take things one small step at a time.”

That pretty much describes where I am now.  Emotionally I’m in a very calm place.  I haven’t really found the weight loss to be hard this time, not since I heard the “click” that said “It’s time now” and took it one step at a time.


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September Progress Report

I saw my lapband surgeon and my primary care doctor this week, covering a lot of bases. They were both pleased with my weight loss (121 lbs in 18 months), which has slowed down a lot lately. But I’m still losing an average of 1 lb/week while feeling very normal; that counts a lot.

I’ve been having problems with my back and my right knee, which limits what I can do for exercise (tho I’m still doing what I can with my trainer and on my own).  One reason for the back issues is probably the apron of belly skin left from losing weight. It’s just not elastic enough to come back to a normal shape.  I got a referral to a plastic surgeon to talk about options, see what they advise and what their rules are, etc. I hadn’t thought I’d actually do this but am seeing now that it makes sense. In any case, the surgeons aren’t likely to do anything until I’ve been at my goal weight for a year.

Which led to the “what is my goal weight?” discussion, really for the first time. I had a ballpark number but have been having some reservations about it as the pounds fell off.  My brain hasn’t caught up with the loss, which is actually normal since it usually takes approximately one year for every 25 lbs for reality to take hold.

Much to my relief, my primary care doctor advised that my goal be 165-170 lbs and that she’d be very happy for me to be at a BMI of 30.  (It’s already dropped from 54.9 to 33.2 so 30 isn’t that far away.)  I’d been afraid she would want me out of the obese & overweight categories and down to 130, a weight I haven’t seen since junior high and don’t think I could maintain.  Dr. W. is practical and stressed that a healthy BMI for ME doesn’t have to match what a chart says.

FYI: don’t worry if you don’t hear from me very often over the next weeks.  I am program chair for my professional association’s annual conference next summer and we’re gearing up to review 200 proposals, evaluate and rate, and finally select programs.  I’m also learning the ins/outs of the new responsibilities I take over on Nov. 1 (the day after we finalize the programs).  So I’m likely to be slow on the blogging front, but I’ll check in when I can!


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A Year in My Life

Two events in my life happen every July:  my birthday, and my national professional conference.  Next year they will even overlap – and I can’t begin to tell you how much I will enjoy spending my birthday doing that, although it will be nice to see friends on the day and I’m guessing there will be cake somewhere.  In any case, both occasions give me a chance to view the previous year in perspective.

Last year my conference met in Washington, DC where it was hot and sticky (kind of like now everywhere).  The convention center was humongous and we had quite a hike from the hotels to our event location.  I had been working on weight loss for a few months and was down about 20-25 lbs. from my starting weight.  But I weighed so much that it barely made a dent in my appearance or how I felt.

My right knee hurt all the time and I lurched when I walked because of the pain and immobility.  I used a cane to get around all week, and took cabs to go longer distances because I wasn’t sure I could manage the stairs of getting on and off buses.  I wore colorful but shapeless floaty dresses and felt like a whale; the folds of skin developed rashes from chafing and heat.  I had little energy and opted out of events and social things I wanted to do because I wasn’t sure I could get to them in any comfort.  It was great to see people except I didn’t really want them to see ME.

Flash forward to July 2010 in Denver, which was hot but much less sticky.  I lost 80+ lbs between the two Julys and it made such a huge difference in how I felt, looked, and acted.  Many of my friends weren’t all that surprised by my new appearance, since they follow me on Facebook and had been following progress and pictures for months.  Others were completely in the dark and didn’t recognize me, which was cool but odd.

Changes in looks, attitude, comfort, and behavior came slowly over the last year and had become normal; it’s just seeing them with the perspective of a year to see the difference:

  • Fitting into one seat on a plane – and not needing a seat belt extender
  • Being able to move quickly and easily
  • Spending lots of time in the exhibit hall and hallways without needing to sit down every 10 minutes
  • Clothes were fitted and still colorful and comfortable
  • Went shopping for more clothes when realized some of what I brought stopped fitting while in the suitcase flying out
  • Making good choices about food, including giving my ticket for a dessert reception to someone else.  Brought protein powder and bars.
  • Felt more confident, assured, and comfortable
  • Had way more energy and was on the go for very long days
  • No CPAP machine to lug around since my sleep apnea is gone
  • Took a mountain train excursion to actually see something of the area instead of hiding in my room

Maybe the biggest obvious sign that things were different:  I was happy to be photographed and even like the results.  In the past, I hated it because I didn’t think I looked in real life the way I looked in pictures – even though it was an objective image.  This time I thought the pictures looked really good because I knew that I looked good.

I’ve lost lots of weight before, and really did think I was the same person inside at the lower weight that I’d been at the higher one.  This time I know I am different.  The lapband was a big part of it, because I simply can’t do “life as usual” now.  I’ve had to think about choices, actions, and consequences, and have taken responsibility for things that didn’t work as well as those that have.

Yes, I celebrate losing weight, but except for big landmarks, I try not to make a big deal about it (my friend may disagree with my success at it, but I do try!).   I’m using anchors to remind me of my success in very tangible ways – I have a Pandora bracelet that I got for Christmas, with charms to mark this specific journey.  And I just bought a new “anchor ring” to replace the one I started with that now falls off all my fingers.

It’s really now about just living a new way.  That way includes eating healthy “pouch friendly” foods that include enough carbs for me to feel normal and balanced, including exercise on a regular but not extreme basis so it’s something I can actually continue.  I weed out clothes that no longer fit and buy new (or gently used) ones that work with the changing body.

I’m not in this for a number on a scale.  I’m in it for my life.  I like myself, my body, my health, my attitudes better now than I think I ever have.  What a nice birthday present to myself!


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Weigh In Day

My official weigh in day is Saturday, and I’m two weeks away from my anniversary. Here are my stats measured from April 3, 2009:

Can you believe it?  90 pounds in just under one year, 49 of it on WW and 41 since my surgery 5 months ago.  I celebrate the losses, am mostly patient through the stalls, and am not setting any particular time or pound goals.  I just know that in 2010 two things will happen:  I will reach the 100 lb mark, now only 10 lbs away, and I will break the 200 lb barrier into ONE-derland.  It’s possible that both will happen before I go to Denver in July but if not, it will still happen when my body is ready.

It’s a very good place to be, not just in my body, which is feeling both lighter and smaller, and in my spirit.  I’m getting more compliments from people when I wear properly fitted clothes, probably because 90 lbs ago I had to lose a LOT before anyone noticed.  Now my body is re-arranging itself pretty darn often:  I lost an inch each in my bust, waist, and hips in the last 2 weeks.  I have no clue how that happened but I’m not going to complain.

I keep track of my numbers on Saturdays, weight every week and measurements twice a month.   They are not judgements, just numbers.  They happen to be going down now but the fact of weight loss is that there will be lots of plateaus and some gains before more losses happen.  I am surprisingly (to me) calm about whatever happens and confident that I will manage whatever challenges come up.  And I know that as I get closer to my goal, the weight will come off more slowly.   It just feels different this time, in a lot of little ways.

Today I went to get a haircut and was surprised when the stylist made a huge fuss over the physical changes in the last 7 weeks.  I didn’t think they were particularly noteworthy, but then, I’m wearing clothes that fit me (yayyy for eBay shopping).  We plotted out my hair appointments so that I’m at maximum beautifulness for both my nephew’s wedding on June 26 and my national conference which starts on July 10.   And then, after weeks of thinking but not doing, I dropped 4 pairs of Birkenstocks off to be reheeled and headed to the lingerie shop to be fitted for a bra in my current size.  Stacy and Clinton are right: I look a lot better when the girls are up where they belong.

It’s been a gorgeous few days and today we got up to 72 with bright sun and soft breezes.  My windows and back door are wide open, taking it all in, and Tessie is in heaven being able to hear the birdies and smell the air.  Best we enjoy it all now because by next week it could easily be snow.  Spring doesn’t come to stay this early in New England.