Saturday, April 14, 2012

My path with Optifast

The decision to go on Optifast was not an easy one for me.  I would venture to say that is the case for most people who choose this path.  It's sort of one of those "last house on the block" type of decisions.  Just so that you can get an idea of the paths I have been down in my efforts to lose weight, here's a snapshot of what I've tried:
  • Jenny Craig
  • Weight Watchers - I think I was on it 4 or 5 different times
  • Overeaters Anonymous - I did this for a good 10+ years
  • Cabbage Soup Diet
  • Alphabet Diet
  • South Beach Diet
  • Eating disorder rehab through the Raider Institute
I am sure there's more I'm forgetting, but you get the picture.  I would say that I lost some weight with all of these programs to some degree, but then they worked until they didn't work.  I gave Overeaters Anonymous a very long haul because I did lose 100 pounds in the program and, more than the weight, it brought me to a level of serenity and healing I had never before experienced in my life.  In fact, if there was more success with losing the weight and keeping it off there, I would still be in the program.  I do still practice a lot of the principles that I learned in the program in my life, such as prayer and turning things over to God.  I just know that I needed something more in order to lose weight, at least for me.  That is hard for me to say because I met so many amazing people there, some of which are still very good friends of mine. 

My life has not been easy, not at all.  There's been a lot of abuse, rape and a battle with trust of people, especially of men, to get me to a place where I was willing to get on my knees and beg God for help.  And when I say beg, I mean beg.  Just typing this brings tears to my eyes because I consider myself to be an intelligent person who can figure things out pretty well most of the time, resilient, independent and just overall a good person (at least I try to be).  So why couldn't I just lose the weight?  Finally, when I reached over 400 pounds, I hit my lowest low I could ever imagine hitting.  Isn't 400 pounds like the fat lady in the corner that they point at when going to a circus?  I'm not making fun of someone's weight here; these are just the thoughts that ran in my head about me alone and no one else.  The health problems I was experiencing, especially for someone at my relatively younger age, was a result of all the weight.  I considered gastric bypass, seriously in fact.  I have a friend at work who had the surgery done, who I know reads this blog (hola chica!), that I would ask questions periodically about the process.  What kept me from doing it is the things I had to do leading up to it, like taking classes and having to lose weight before doing it, as well as the permanent nature of such a surgery and the complications that sometimes comes with it.  I considered lap-band as well, but there are people who have serious problems from that, too.  So, I dropped it for a while, still praying to God to help me, to please show me a way out to a better life.  On the outside, I would smile and the world would never guess what was going on with me.  On the inside, I was dying and desperately needed help.

Then, a man who was very special to me, who I had a relationship with for a very long time over the years, one who I was supposed to marry, absolutely hurt me in a way that I could never describe in words.  It wasn't physical, but it may as well have been.  It was not another woman, either, but it was devastation beyond anything I had ever experienced in my life, or could ever even think of.  That was the straw that broke the camel's back.  Between that and having had a recent surgery that was unsuccessful, in addition to surviving cancer last year, led me to getting to a new level of hurt I felt like I could not breathe through.  I remember just praying to God, through a tremendous amount of tears, to just please help me.  Help me to breathe, help me to be strong and courageous, help me to lean on my faith.  With all of the humility in the world, I told God that I trusted Him to carry me through and that's what I would need now ... to be carried. 

Suddenly I found myself feeling an inner renewal that brought me to the next step.  I had an appointment with my primary care physician for something unrelated.  I had talked to her about weight loss options before, including Optifast, but never felt strong enough to follow through.  At this appointment, however, I looked at her with tears in my eyes and told her that I was ready.  This doctor had been having serious talks with me over the years about why the weight loss was important, but she was kind and gentle in her approach.  I heard her, each and every time, but I just wasn't ready.  This time, she couldn't have been more supportive than she was.  I had resolved to myself that I would follow all the rules of Optifast because I know people lose weight on the program.  I also know people can gain it back when they go back to having regular food again, so it was especially important for me to do what they tell me I need to do with no deviation whatsoever, as if I know more than they do.  I don't!  In the process, I have been praying to God often to please give me strength through this and not to be afraid to do the work involved.  I don't mean just drinking shakes, I mean the soul-searching, the leveling of pride, dealing with things now that I never wanted to deal with before.  Maybe that means I will have to deal more with being abused or surviving a horrendous rape.  I can't eat the feelings away, so I'm going to have to walk through them.

People in my life have been really supportive.  There are times when some will see me, notice the significant weight loss, and then look at me with eyes of judgement once they find out I'm doing Optifast.  I understand that it won't be easy for everyone to understand, and I can definitely respect that.  Hopefully, though, people that have read this post can understand why I chose the path I did.  Still, if not, perhaps they can support me anyway because all I want to do is be healthier.  I don't ever kid myself that I'm going to be a size six, but a normal, healthy body size is what I look forward to.  God is doing such an amazing work in me and I feel His grace blessing me every single day.  He blessed me before, but I wasn't present enough to accept it or even to acknowledge it.  I had to be brought down to my knees, literally, to be open and willing enough to receive.  Every day is one that is filled with gratitude.  I don't go to food now to hide away or seek some sort of false comfort.  I am doing what is prescribed and, truly, I am so humbled at the opportunity.  There is a peace and joy in my heart that I have not experienced in a very long time.  I smile a lot now.  Thank you, God, for this.  You have woken me up.


Melissa said...

I am very familiar with 12-step programs and the wonderful serenity they bring. My "spiritual awakening" is a blessing, and I utilize my experience with it as I am working the Optifast program. One day at a time. Let go, let god. Easy Does It. So glad to hear you have the similar framework to use as well. It makes you strong and you will achieve your goals!

Kathy said...

I do believe so strongly in 12 step programs. It helped me grow so much. It's just that I wasn't losing the weight and I really needed something that was going to help me in that arena. Sounds like you are really familiar with it! So many slogans that mean a whole lot ;-)

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