Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Digging deep

I have often said that this process is far less a physical one than one about emotional healing.  There are many reasons that we come to programs like Optifast, but success here is not for the faint of heart nor the person that needs to lose just twenty pounds.  You choose such a program, with it's medical supervision and strict guidelines, because you have serious weight to lose.  I believe very strongly that someone that has a lot of weight to lose has more going on down deep inside than just a pure love of food.  I know plenty of slim, fit people who absolutely love food but they know when to stop.  They have one doughnut, perhaps two, but certainly not the whole box.  There is a big difference!  So I knew that when I took on this adventure, there would be issues to work through to prevent me from using food inappropriately in the future.  That being said, I am grateful that this emotional work comes in stages, otherwise it might be a little bit too much to handle.

Last night in my Optifast class, I got this vision of a worker taking out his tools, turning the light on his hard hat and getting ready to do the biggest dig of his life.  Our counselor talked about the idea of family roles.  In a dysfunctional family, which many of us come from, we take on certain roles to help us cope.  The idea of a dysfunctional family is one many people experience in different ways.  It could include abuse, an overbearing parent, co-dependency with an alcoholic, ragers and so much more.  In my own situation, it was an abusive parent on one side with rage issues and a parent who struggled with their own weight issues on the other.  Now, I need to preface this by saying I love both my parents.  They are divorced from each other now, and have their own issues to work through, but it is not my intention to rake them over the coals by saying they were bad people.  That's not true by any stretch of the imagination.  They both did the best they could.  My father is the salt of the earth and I respect him greatly.  My mother has been through a lot in her life and tries the absolute best she can to love me and my brother the best way she knows how.  However, the purpose of this blog is for me to work through my own stuff as I lose weight and heal, walking into whatever the future provides for me.  I do not wish to hurt anybody with anything I say here.  I just needed to preface the rest of this blog post by saying that first.

Now, back to the class discussion about family roles.  We discussed the various roles people take on and were asked if we identified with any of these.  They include:

  • Family Hero/Responsible One
    • Strengths:  Successful, organized, leadership skills, decisive, initiator, self disciplined, goal oriented
    • Deficits:  Perfectionist, difficulty listening, inability to follow, inability to relax, lack of spontaneity, inflexible, unwilling to ask for help, high fear of mistakes, inability to play, severe need to be in control
  • Placater/People Pleaser
    • Strengths:  Caring/compassionate, empathic, good listener, sensitive to others, gives well, nice smile
    • Deficits:  Inability to receive, denies personal needs, high tolerance for inappropriate behavior, strong fear of anger or conflict, false guilt, anxious, highly fearful, hypervigilant
  • Scapegoat/Acting Out One
    • Strengths:  Creative, less denial/greater honesty, sense of humor, close to own feelings, ability to lead (just leads in wrong direction)
    • Deficits:  Inappropriate expression of anger, inability to follow direction, self-destructive, intrusive, irresponsible, social problems at young ages, underachiever, defiant/rebel
  • Lost Child/Adjuster
    • Strengths:  Independent, flexibility, ability to follow, easy going attitude, quiet
    • Deficits:  Unable to initiate, withdraws, blends in quietly into the background, fearful of making decisions, lack of direction, ignored/forgotten, follows without questioning, difficulty perceiving choices and options
  • Mascot
    • Strengths:  Sense of humor, flexible, able to relieve stress and pain
    • Deficits:  Attention seeker, distracting, immature, difficulty focusing, poor decision making ability

The issue here is not that we identify with the strengths of any of the roles since they are positive, but if we have more deficits than anything else.  So our counselor asked if anyone identified with any one group in particular right away.  I raised my hand, saying yes, I was the Lost Child.  He asked me why I think that was and I said, "There was abuse."  I have shared that fact with the group before, although it was before the new people joined us about five weeks ago.  This is not something I keep secret in my life because it is the secrets we try to hide that will kill us.  As the saying goes, you're only as sick as your secrets.

As I described the reasons why I identified with this role, I was immediately brought back to my childhood.  I was hit as a child from my earliest memories until my parents divorced.  When I say hit, I mean beaten.  It wasn't all the time and it wasn't every day, but my mother chose me to lash out against.  It was never my brother and it never was when my father was around (he was often gone because he was in the military at the time).  In fact, I never told my father much about this until later in life and, even then, I only told him a little bit because I knew it would kill him.  I was always his little girl and he would have done anything under his power to protect me.  He did know a little when my brother and I were removed from the home while he was on a WestPac, though, because it was partially of what led to my parents divorce.

When I was a child, I was always seen as the "good" one, the obedient one.  I wore pretty little dresses, always had a smile on my face and did everything I was supposed to do.  Here are a couple of pictures of me during that time.

As you can see, I was already having weight issues.  Look at the picture right above ... that was my 6th birthday party.  I was a big girl for six years old.  The description of the Lost Child's deficits were right on - I withdrew, I tried to quietly blend into the background, sometimes I was ignored, I did whatever my mother told me to do and I couldn't see that I had a choice to tell somebody anything about what was going on.  There were good times in my life during those ages, but far more worse days.  I'm 40 years old now and I still remember those feelings, as if they were yesterday.  If you are reading this and wondering how I could have a relationship with my mother today, know that it has taken a lot of work and forgiveness.  We had a period of twelve years in which we were not a part of each others' lives.  God was doing work in both of us, leading us to reunite, forgiving the past and moving forward in a more loving and honest relationship today.

I am not that little girl any longer.  I do not accept ill treatment from anyone.  However, there are emotions that I still hang onto for some reason.  For example, I was often told I was fat and ugly.  To this day, whenever anyone says I look pretty or beautiful, I wonder why they are saying that to me.  Is it because they are trying to be nice or want something from me?  It's really hard for me to accept the compliments, but I do work hard and try my best to do so.  I also try to understand what they see in me that I do not.  I have so many people in my life, either those I know in person or who I have met online, that have given me some lovely compliments as I have been losing weight.  No one is twisting their arm to do so.  Yet, I find it hard to see what they do.  Perhaps it is those years of being told I was fat and ugly that have been cemented into my head that helps me not trust as easily as maybe other people do.  I don't have to overthink it, though.  I don't live in the past these days, so I need to also know that I don't need to live in the past in terms of not liking myself or feeling like I don't deserve good things.  My ex-boyfriend really hurt me when our relationship ended in September and I think the sting is still there to some degree.  Yet, those are his issues, not mine.  My life is better without him in it and I need to keep reminding myself of that.  The next person who comes into my life should get the best of me and that's what I'm working on right now.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Emotion overload

Today was such an emotional day for me, but in a great and powerful way.  I got up this morning and knew it was my day to weigh in at the Optifast clinic.  On these days, I don't typically work out, just to give my body a little rest since I exercise every day.  However, my back has been hurting so I knew the exercise would do me good.  So I got dressed in capris and a t-shirt suitable for the heat outdoors.  I thought it would be good to take a picture or two before I headed out.  All along my journey, I have been taking pictures to document the weight loss.  I need to see with my own eyes the progress I have made and pictures do it for me.  When I put my little camera disc into the laptop and pulled up the image of what I saw, I audibly gasped.  I couldn't believe that was my body.  I'm not saying that in an ego way, as if my body is so fabulous, but because I just had a hard time believing it was actually me.  So, I compared it to a body shot taken in the same position about a month after starting Optifast.  In that first photo, I had already lost 45 pounds, but I was still significantly bigger than today.  I posted it in some Optifast groups on Facebook online, but here it is below:

How freaking shocking is that??  So, after this, I went out to exercise.  It was such a beautiful day.  I did my three miles, which included some hills.  It was a little hotter today, so I was feeling it by the time I was nearing the end.  However, I was focusing on the music in my ears so I wasn't paying too much attention to that.  Then a song came on my iPod that I just happen to love.  It's called Beautiful Things (click on the link to see a video).  It's a song that talks about God's love for us and how He makes things new.  It talks about feeling broken, but we are made not only new, but beautiful.  It's very powerful!  I have never felt beautiful, or even pretty or cute, even now with all of the weight loss.  It's a hurt deep inside that I have to deal with to understand why I feel the way I do and perhaps discover how I can possibly move forward with these feelings about myself.  Even more, I want to change the feelings because I know I am not as awful as I make myself out to be.

As I was listening to this song, I could feel tears start to form.  I was reflecting back on my journey so far and what direction I am headed in.  I weighed 417 pounds when I began in February.  Actually, I found out yesterday that it wasn't even my highest weight .. that was 420.  But I started at 417, with so many physical ailments, convinced that I was headed to an early death because of how poorly I was doing.  Yet, the moment I started Optifast, things started to drastically change.  People often times will ask me how on earth it is that I am doing this, seemingly so easily.  They want to know where my strength and resolve is coming from.  It is only by the grace of God that this is happening.  I mean, think about it ... I have lost nearly 163 pounds in just over five months.  Is it because I exercise more and have more discipline?  I don't think so.  I believe in my heart that God gives me the strength and faith to trust Him and lean on Him to do the miraculous.  Yes, I do put in the work to lose the weight, but I am given the strength to do so.  There is an incredible peace about me that I can't even describe.  By the time I got home, I took off my shoes, sat on my bed ... and wept.  Like a child.  I was basked in a tremendous about of gratitude and thankfulness.  No matter what the scale was going to say later on in the evening at my class, it didn't matter.  I already felt like a winner in that moment.

So now, if you'll notice in my weight loss ticker at the top of my blog, I have 94.5 pounds to go to get to my goal weight.  I am being made new, right before my very eyes.  At my class tonight, my counselor told me that since I lose weight so fast, I can start transitioning to food when I am twenty pounds from my final number.  He doesn't want me to wait beyond that because I shouldn't go below the goal if at all possible.  That feels manageable to me.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's a slam dunk, as if it isn't hard work.  Hellooooo, I know it is hard work.  When I first started, it was going to require that I lose 257 pounds to get to my goal.  So under 95 feels completely feasible.  There is some fear that I am feeling getting so small.  Several people even called me skinny today!  I know I'm not there, but that's the direction I'm headed in.  I have been overweight my entire life.  How do I live in a world where that is no longer my identity?  Those are things I will have to tackle along the way.  For now, though, I'm just so humbled and happy.  One more thing to think about:  the weight on my driver's license is no longer a lie ;-)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

You're not doing this alone!

When I first decided to go on this weight loss journey through Optifast, I hardly told anyone.  It was such a private decision and I didn't want to hear a comment like, "It's about time!"  I wasn't doing it for anybody else, just for me.  However, it wasn't long before I realized that I could not walk in this foreign land alone.  I had to have some support, even if it was just a friend giving me a hug to encourage me.  To keep the fact that not only was I venturing to lose weight, but that I would be going on a full-fast with absolutely no food for months on end felt like a huge secret and I didn't want to have any shame around it.  Besides, people would start noticing soon enough, I hoped, with all the weight loss.  Man, has that been the understatement of the year!  Not only do people notice, but they completely gasp when they see me now if they haven't seen me in a while or at all since I started.

In addition to friends and family, I have found that seeking out support from other people going through the same experience as I am has been vital.  I have a weekly Optifast group that I go to at the Kaiser clinic, which is great for in-person connections.  We have shared some very personal things with one another and have rooted on each other as the weeks have progressed.  I have also gone online and not only discovered that other people exist out there that have gone through the same thing, but have developed some great new friendships along the way.  For example, I met fellow blogger, Sara, from This Big Heart this morning for a lovely walk.  I got to meet her adorable little boy, husband and two doggies at the same time.  That would have never happened if we both were not blogging.  If you're looking for some online resources of Optifast support, here are a few great places to consider:

  • Set up your own blog!  Trust me, people will find you and you will find other people.  I do mine through Google's Blogger, but I know people are also doing it through WordPress and other resources.  They are free and a great way to journal as you travel along in your journey.
  • Facebook - some really great public and private pages are available, depending on your flavor (I'm not sure how to get to the pages directly, but I will note below in red text the name of the page that you can type in the Facebook search bar):
    • Optifast (look for the one that says Company) - People post here from all over the world to talk about their progress, ask questions or just share experiences.  This is a public page, so anyone can see it.
    • Optifast Chat Support - This is a closed group for people currently on Optifast looking for a place to find others going through their same experiences.  There is some fabulous sharing in this group that I would HIGHLY recommend.  You do need to request to join this group since it's private, but it's well worth it.
    • Optifast Support Group - This is also a closed group, similar to the one above.  It's an up and coming group with less seasoned members, but it also is another good resource.
  • Liquid Diet Discussion Board - people from different liquid programs are on here.  They don't post as much as the Facebook pages, but there are some great tools on the page, including before and after pictures, weight loss and vital statistic trackers and more.  They also have projections on how long it will take to complete this phase of the program if you input your information, although there is a little fee that goes with it.  Check out a couple of my charts below:

Friday, July 27, 2012

Excuse me, who's muscles are those?

I have just a few more days until my summer vacation is over.  If you work all year long, you probably just did a big eye roll!  For those of us that work in education, this is a blessed time of year to recharge our batteries and mentally prepare for the challenges that face us in our day-to-day work life.  I would not replace the sort of work I do with kids for any other type, but it is very exhausting and mentally demanding.  So, I always look forward to summer vacations even though I don't earn a paycheck during this time.  As I was working out this morning, I was hoping that the momentum I have had of exercise will not die down because I have to return to a more routine way of life soon.  During the summer, I have started most of my days with my morning shake followed by an hour or so of exercise.  That usually consists of walking where I try to challenge myself and some strength training as well a few times a week.  I would say I'm averaging about six days of cardio and about three of strength training.  Spending that time taking care of my body has become an essential part of my existence.  It's funny, when I reflect back on how I felt about physical activity when I first started Optifast back in February, I didn't know how I was going to possibly do the twenty minutes of exercise the clinic was suggesting we do 3-5 times each week.  That seemed like a lot of exercise to me.  In comparison, someone watching me today would have seen me power walking a little more than three miles, some purposely uphill so that I could challenge myself.  That usually takes me about an hour or so.  My iPod sends butt-moving tunes to my ears and I am lost in that time. 

One of the things that I did very differently today was that I wore leggings that were body hugging.  I usually try to wear capri work-out pants that are a little bit loose.  Something about my ass hanging out with people driving by as I walk down the street (or at least that's the way I think it looks) prevents me from wearing things that truly fit.  My tops are usually too big, too, because I still don't have a good conception of where my body really is these days.  I am forever exposing my sports bra straps to the world, a la Flashdance.  But, I was in a store the other day and they had this pair of capris that were fitted and they were on sale, so I thought I'd be daring and just go for it.  I put them on, put a big shirt on over it and out I went.  One thing I noticed is that I could see the definition in my legs as I passed parked cars in the neighborhood.  Were those my muscled legs or was someone else walking in my place?  Hmm, interesting.  My thighs weren't rubbing together at all, which was sort of a weird thing for me.  They're so small now, which is especially noticeable when I wear pants that fit, that there is actually space between them (hope that wasn't TMI!).  The funny thing is that more people smiled at me today as we passed each other exercising than I ever had before.  Was there something different in my attitude or was it the pants?  Maybe both, ha ha.  In all seriousness, I know that the time I spend working on taking care of my body is something that is mine and time I look forward to everyday.  I couldn't imagine going back to the way it was before.  If I do, someone, anyone, please say something to me.  I need the accountability.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Given up title as worst diabetic patient

I had an office visit with my primary care doctor at Kaiser.  I was trying to figure out how long I have been under the care of this doctor.  It's been at least 15 years, maybe longer.  She has really seen me through the worst health conditions that obesity can bring you to, as well as other non-related visits.  She is the one that diagnosed my diabetes, led the discovery of the cancer I had last year, saw me battle weight up and down and just so many other things.  She is also the one I talked to about potentially doing the gastric bypass (which I decided against), but the one that helped me to find the courage it would take to go through Optifast.  She has had many conversations over the years, in a gentle and kind way, to help me see how important weight loss is.  Of course I knew that, but it's so much easier said than done, especially when there are reasons that putting on the weight and going to food is easier than dealing with things.  So, she has not seen me in person since before I started the program five months ago.  I was seeing her for some back pain I had been feeling, tingling in my feet and to see if maybe I can start running.

I was sitting on the bed, dressed in my oh-so-lovely designer hospital gown (aka "napkin").  The bed was on the side of the room, sort of behind the door.  So as she's walking in, she's saying out loud, "Well, let me see what you loo...."  She stopped in mid-sentence when she actually saw me and replaced it with "Oh my God!!"  She was absolutely astonished with the weight loss.  She wanted to get a good look at me and just smiled.  She commented that I actually have a neck and chin, that she could actually see my pretty face (her words, not mine).  Fascinated with my tale of how things have been going in the program, she just beamed at me.  She was showing me my charts over the years of how out of control my diabetes was, the weight-associated problems I was having and started removing all the medications that I used to have to take from my current list to the history section.  As she was typing things into the computer, I looked over her shoulder and some of the entries had me listed as "super morbidly obese".  That stung and I could feel a tear hit my eye.  I know the terminology is clinical based on my BMI level at the time and there's no denying the place I came from.  It was still hard to see though. 

So we got to the issues at hand.  One is that I have been having some major back problems.  I have had it for a while, but I thought it was all weight related and would get better as I dropped some weight but it seems to only get worse as I am more physically active.  I especially am having some severe pain that is absolutely shooting, so I'm going to see someone in physical medicine to review MRI findings in my spine and then do work with a physical therapist.  In the meantime, she did give me a shot in my back to help until all of that can get started.  Next on the list was tingling in my feet I have been feeling.  I was having some diabetic neuropathy in my feet from before when the diabetes blood sugar levels were out of control, but I told her that am still having somewhat painful tingling every day.  She said that, in time, that should lessen and even might stop, although there are no guarantees.  A diabetic does not want neuropathy in their feet because it is nerve damage, causing you to lose feeling so you don't know when you have a cut in your feet or something more severe.  For some diabetics, if it becomes very severe, they could lose their limbs.  She assured me, though, that I am not getting worse, which made me feel so much better.  I didn't want to be in a position where I was so far gone that I could not reverse damage that had already been done.  When she was testing the bottom of my feet, it was so easy for me to cross my legs to give her access, when before it was impossible for me to do so.

Finally, we talked about my desire to start running.  She looked at me and smiled.  I knew she was thinking something along the lines of "well now I have seen everything!"  Here was a person sitting before her that sometimes would never exercise, that was clinically super morbidly obese and now this same patient was asking her about running.  I do have mild-to-moderate osteoarthritis in my left knee that she diagnosed me with three years ago.  I had a very bad car accident in which my knee slammed into the dashboard, so we don't know if it was from that or the extra weight on my frame, but it is something I do have.  She told me that while I am absolutely free to start running, she would not advise it.  She said that eventually I will probably need a knee replacement, that my current knee is about 20 years older than the rest of my body.  So, we don't want to do more damage so that I can keep my knee as long as possible.  I was very disappointed with the news, I have to admit that, but I understood where she was coming from.  So, no running for me.  Boo!

As we were wrapping up the appointment, she asked me if I was having any issues with excess skin.  I told her that I was for sure having that and so she wanted to see.  I stood up, lifted up the gown and showed her my thighs.  Gravity sucks when it comes to that area because it looks fine when I'm sitting down but when I'm standing, there's just a crazy amount of excess skin there.  She grabbed the skin and told me I actually have little thighs now in comparison to where I was.  Then we marveled at how my upper arms were "wavy".  She told me that skin does bounce back for some patients my age and, if it doesn't, just to remember that I am in a much healthier place now.  I totally agree with her on that, no matter how much excess skin I have.  I would rather have it empty on my body than full of fat!  She told me I could get dressed while she put some notes into the computer.  When she saw me with my smaller clothes on, she just beamed at me.  She looked me in the eyes and said, "Well, congratulations Kathy ... you are no longer my worst diabetic patient!!  I am so proud of you."  Another sting to my eyes.  I didn't know I had that dubious title, but I am so grateful that it is something that is in the past now.  That doctor's visit was so empowering to me.  My life is changing, it already has changed.  And there's so much more good stuff to come.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why I chose to go full-fast

Whenever someone discovers that I've been on the program all this time and I have not eaten any food outside of the Optifast shakes and chicken broth, they are astonished.  They wonder, first, if I'm hungry.  Then they wonder if I feel deprived.  Let me just say that I am never hungry if I am following the instructions in the program.  Sure, when I was first trying to get into ketosis during the first two weeks of starting the program, I was freakin starving!  However, we were warned it would be difficult.  I drank a lot of liquids and got a lot of rest during that time, but I made it through.  Then, when I did eventually go into ketosis, it was a wonderfully liberating experience.  All of my nutrients were in those little shakes that I had 5-6 times a day.  I was utterly amazed.  Here I was, a person that started at 417 pounds, and I was actually feeling not only satisfied, but full on these shakes?  Seriously??  I am here to tell you, as a living person, that it is absolutely possible.

Now, in terms of feeling deprived, here is where the miracle truly is, at least for me.  There was only one time that I wanted to eat food.  Yet, when I look back on it now, I realize it was because I was going through some heavy emotions at the time and food was always a quick response for me in the past to not deal with those feelings.  Because I do feel full on the shakes, I don't have those feelings of being deprived.  That does not mean I don't have feelings about being the only one in the room not eating or feeling as though sometimes I am on the outside looking in or even just missing the sensation of chewing something.  When those feelings do come up, it is absolutely necessary that I deal with them.  I realize those emotions come from the way I had always walked through life ... with food in my hand or in my thoughts.  The whole point of the full-fast is to pull that part out of the equation, to change the behaviors so that they don't repeat in the future.  By pulling me out of food situations, I can sit back and be more introspective.

Here's an example of what I mean:  when I was in Vegas last week, my mother cooked traditional Filipino food for the family (I am Filipino on her side, white on my dad's side).  I knew I was not going to eat any of it, but I did smell it.  Memories were congered up of being a kid, eating 10 lumpias in a row, feeling stuffed and then going in for more.  I remembered having my own apartment when I moved away from home, making an entire pot of pancet (noodles with veggies and meat), grabbing a fork and eating it right out of the pot.  Or making chicken adobo and rice, only to keep eating until every last bit was gone.  I mean, we're talking 6-8 chicken thighs and a whole pot of rice.  Not all in one sitting, but working on it till it was all gone.  I thought about those memories as the smells were going on in the kitchen or when everyone was eating when everything was ready.  And I smiled inside as everyone complained about how stuffed they were, wanting to loosen their pants because they couldn't breathe.  I remember that feeling, oh Lord do I remember it all too well.  Optifast has pulled me away enough from food to help me gain perspective.  When I go back to eating again, there is a plan to re-introduce me in a very healthy way, following me for a long time and I must incorporate new habits if I ever hope to be in a smaller body while not going back to an old lifestyle that just didn't serve me in the least.  So I thought about the nutrition value of even one piece of lumpia, my most favorite food.  Here's what I could find:

For 1 piece of lumpia:  110 calories, 4g fat, 250mg sodium, 16g carbs.

Now, when I would have 10 pieces, that is 1100 calories, 40g fat, 2500mg sodium, 160g carbs.  Wow!  Of course, that's not all I would have in a day, but it was good for me to reflect on that because it put it into perspective.  If I was eating food right now, that would all be lost on me because I would be focusing on that food.  I can understand that there are emotional responses to certain types of food and also a better, healthier approach.  I can honestly say that while they were eating (and they were sweet to do it in another room so that I wouldn't feel left out), I had zero desire for what they had.  Everything had a lot of salt or was deep fried.  Being on Optifast, my desire for a lot of salt and oil has been wiped away.

That is the beauty of doing the full-fast program.  I am much more aware of my emotions around food, or just my emotions in general.  I can approach life through a healthier lens, where I finally take care of myself in the way God intended.  In the meantime, I can live my life and be fully functioning.  I don't have dreams of food any longer like I did in the beginning of doing this program.  In fact, the time I spend thinking about food is incredibly little.  Hmm, I just realized that as I was typing this.  How interesting is that!  I have never felt physically better in my life.  That doesn't mean I don't have aches and pains because I do, the residual effects of being so obese.  However, I am dealing with those, seeking medical attention when necessary and doing my best to work through it. 

There are dreams I have that I am fulfilling.  My body is the smallest it has ever been and continues to shrink at a rapid pace.  When I started this, my body assessment photos have me in a size 34 pants.  Yesterday I bought some new jeans and they were size 18.  Just think about that for a minute!  I have never looked better or, to be quite honest, felt better.  I have absolutely no regrets going on Optifast and certainly none doing the full-fast.  I don't care that I didn't eat all the seafood when I was traveling up the California coast or participated in the buffets while I was in Vegas.  The truth is that I will eat food again in the future, probably in another four months or so, and I really feel in my heart that I will be more prepared to do it in a loving, kind way.  Right now, though, I can celebrate the amazing work that is happening in the moment.  In fact, I will be seeing my primary care doctor today.  I can't wait to see her because I know she's going to be amazed as well.  This journey of mine is truly a miracle and it isn't over yet!

Monday, July 23, 2012

I am completely shocked

I came back from my Vegas vacation today and knew I had my weekly Optifast group tonight.  I was  just hoping that maybe I lost a pound or two, especially given the fact that vacations throw you off your normal pattern.  Imagine how incredibly shocked I was when I got on the scale at the Kaiser clinic I discovered I lost 8 pounds.  Say what?  I was in such disbelief, in fact, that I got right back on.  I mean, good Lord, I was wearing heavy white jeans since it's so cold in our classroom and it still said what it did.  That means I am down 156.5 pounds right now, after 24 weeks.  I'm just going to say this (and I'm sorry if it's offensive), but holy shit!! 

Then I thought back to just this past few days in Vegas.  When my family was at a buffet, I was in the fitness center working out.  When they had a big spread my brother's house last night, I left them early to go work out again at the fitness center so that I could take a bath and get to bed early to prepare for the 5-hour drive home today.  I needed to take care of myself and that's what I chose to do.  My brother told me he is proud of me and actually took my picture.  Can I tell you - that's not something he does.  He is always so aloof, although a great big brother, but for him to show me how much he cared was touching.  So, I am going to get over my shock and realize I do put in the work and I am going to appreciate every single pound no longer on my body.  Thank you, God, for this ... from the bottom of my most grateful heart.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Interesting discoveries

Last night, while my family was eating at the buffet downstairs in the hotel, I was on the second floor in the fitness center.  There was just one other person in there when I went in, so I pretty much had free reign of the place.  I used to belong to a gym over the years, but I just didn't like working out in there so I left the gym and instead opted to exercise outdoors or in my own home when I need to do strength training.  So I wasn't sure I would like being indoors on the treadmill.  However, it turns out I loved it.  I got on the treadmill, punched in a random course for an hour, kicked up my speed and off I went. When I walk outdoors, while I do work hard and sweat, the breeze keeps me very cool so I'm not dripping.  However, after my hour was complete indoors, I was sweaty even though the room was cooled by the AC.  So I thought to myself, okay, perhaps I need to challenge myself more, look for more hills, or maybe even consider getting into the gym again.  Regardless, I was glad I made the choice to work out.

Meanwhile, it turns out the topic of conversation with my family while they were at the buffet was me.  My sister-in-law told my mom I look so good, beautiful in fact.  Wow.  Then one of my brother's friends, who I have known for several years, was also eating with them and I saw him today.  He was there last night and he told me they were talking about the program I do and he had all sorts of questions for me since he has cousins that are thinking about doing this sort of program.  I made a shake in front of him in the blender and he was very curious.  He told me I looked fantastic as well.  My sister-in-law did end up asking me today, after she saw a before and after picture, at what point did I start to feel cute.  I sort of laughed out loud, thinking to myself, "Have I ever felt "cute" at any point since I've started losing weight?"  That was a good question for me to ponder because, unfortunately, I don't know that I have gotten to the point yet where I feel cute, whether it's now during weight loss or, really, ever.  I can definitely say that I look better, feel more energetic and such ... but cute?  Hmm, I don't think so.  Is it because I don't believe I am or I think it's egotistical to perhaps admit I think that?  I really feel in my heart that I'm just not cute, and that's an unfortunate thing to admit, let alone feel.  Something I really need to look at, I think.

My lounge chair view at the pool ... ahh!
I did make it down to the pool this morning.  I had to ... it ended up being 110 degrees here in Las Vegas today.  I felt great in my bathing suit, although I did have a little bit of self-consciousness because the suit was hugging me on the top.  That meant my breasts were not hidden from view.  No, I didn't expose myself, but perhaps more than I would have normally.  And it was noticed.  A few men hit on me down at the pool and a couple of others that talked to me that were swimming near me were talking to the boobs and not to my eyes.  Maybe I am cuter than I think, although that little voice inside my head says, "Get real, Kathy ... the reason they were hitting on you was because of the girls."  Oh geez, shut up you awful voice!!  Regardless of all that, I'm so proud of myself for getting out there in a bathing suit, swimming and reading a trashy novel by the pool.  I was in a bathing suit with my ex-boyfriend last summer, but that was with the security of him near me. Before that, it had been several years that I donned a suit, so I was feeling good that I was able to walk into the pool area by myself and exposing my skin to the sun.  Don't worry, though, I was using the sunscreen heavily.  I did get some spots of being a little red, but overall did good until I just couldn't stand the heat one second longer.  Overall, things have been going great on this vacation and my dealings with my family.  I was even able to not be bothered being around them today when they were all gorging on Filipino food my mother made for everyone at my brother's house.  I can honestly say I wasn't bothered because the truth is that most everything they were eating was very high in sodium and fat.  I am already aware, even though maintenance is months away, that I cannot eat like that anymore on a regular basis.  So I was perfectly content to play around on Facebook while they ate.  They finished and then we watched a movie.  See, I can handle it after all!!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Made it to Vegas

We made it to Las Vegas in one piece, but man on man is it hoooot here.  It's 104, compared to the lovely 82 degrees we left in San Diego.  Thankfully everything is air conditioned and there is a fabulous pool to call my own tomorrow.  Seeing my brother and sister-in-law this evening was great.  They haven't seen me since Thanksgiving, so they were astonished at my weight loss.  They don't quite get Optifast.  Here's the conversation I was having with my sister-in-law as they were discussing the buffet at our hotel:

Sister-in-Law:  Okay, we'll meet you guys a little later on tonight at the hotel for the buffet.
Me:  Sounds good, but I won't be eating since I'm not having food.
SIL:  You're not?  You don't chew at all??
Me:  Nope.  I haven't had any food in five months, but I get all the nutrients I need in my shakes.  I'm also allowed to have chicken broth and sugar-free gum.
SIL:  So, you can't even have a butterscotch candy?
Me:  No, I'm not having any food I need to chew.
Then there was silence.

Ugh.  I get how people don't understand, especially if they haven't done research on the program.  Yet, I do know they support me greatly, so I think they are trying their best.  Really, that's all I can ask for.  So, as we speak, they are downstairs at the buffet having a free for all (trust me, I've seen my brother and other family members put some serious food away at a buffet).  Meanwhile, I just had one of my vanilla Optifast shakes with sugar-free watermelon Torani syrup.  Then, in about a half hour, I am going to get dressed in work out clothes and head down to the large gym they have here in the hotel.  I brought my iPod with me, headset and I can't wait to get sweaty down there.  This is how I take care of myself today.  Do I feel bad that I'm not sitting with the rest of them?  Not at all because I know with each healthy choice I make, I am getting stronger and stronger each day.  I can be very proud of myself that I made the right choice for my health.  Besides, I'll see them all later or at other times during this weekend.  I'm perfectly fine with that.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

On the road again

Tomorrow morning I head out for road trip number two, from San Diego to Vegas.  This time I am in absolutely no danger of being too cold.  It's supposed to 104 degrees while I'm there.  I'm thinking shorts, capris and my fun little bathing suit to wear in the pool (but not too long, don't want to turn into a lobster).  I am looking forward to seeing my brother and the rest of my family that lives out thee.  They haven't seen me since November, so I'm sure they'll be able to tell the difference with my weight loss.  Today was a much better day than yesterday.  It was amazing  but the anger that I was feeling when I put up my last post left me within a few hours.  I didn't want to sit in the feelings, but by forcing the issue and dealing with the feelings I was having, I was able to work through it.  Hmm ... novel little concept. 

I started my morning by going out for some exercise.  Awhile back, I posted about cutting back on my exercising because it was impeding on my weight loss.  Yet, truth be told, it makes me feel very good, so I have decided to not cut back on how many days a week I exercise, but the amount.  So instead of walking 3 miles, I still hit the pavement each day but cut back by a quarter of a mile and that seems to give me what my body, mind and spirit crave but it's just the right amount of exercise.  I have been experiencing some back pain and it seems to really help with that.

I had lunch with a couple of friends today (hi ladies!).  When I say "lunch", I mean they ate, I had a diet Coke.  I was enjoying their company and not at all focusing on their food.  I do look forward to the day when I can incorporate chewable nutrition back into my repertoire, but I am perfectly okay with what I am doing right now with Optifast because, frankly, it is working!  I could have never imagined being okay with not eating.  I mean, good Lord, I have not had any food in five months.  Can you imagine?  Yet, I'm fine with moving forward and continuing on this path.  The way I look at it is that food is not going anywhere and I will be able to have healthy, yummy food in the future when I am ready for it.  It is absolutely the healthiest approach for me because I am not mourning over the loss of the food but understanding that this is absolutely a process and a journey for my life.  I don't need to change a thing because I'm on vacation.  If I start thinking that way, then I'm heading down towards a slippery slope and I would need to be honest with myself about my true intentions.  Deep down, my true intention is to be successful on this program and not another statistic of a person who is repeatedly on the program.  This is such a huge commitment and sacrifice ... I only intend on doing this once.  So I know that my family will be eating my mom's lumpia, chicken adobo, pancet and other Filipino fare ... and I will not.  And I'm not at all sad about it.  Taking good care of myself feels awesome ;-)  Now, I need to pack my suitcase.  Vegas baby!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My new desire

With weight loss comes changes in so many different ways.  Obviously is the reduction of weight and other health benefits, but things inside of you begin to change, too.  Your outlook is different, there is a renewal of your spirit and the things that perhaps you secretly wanted to do, but never verbalized out loud, begin to have a voice.  For me, that voice has been a little bit louder and louder each time I go walking.  That voice says to me, "I want to run." Um, say what??

This started happening several weeks ago.  I feel stronger and stronger each day, with so much energy and this drive to want to push myself to a place I feared before.  Today I went out for a walk and that voice was louder than it has ever been.  Why?  I have no idea, except to say I am finding this power inside to keep growing physically.  Perhaps it was scaling mountains during my recent vacation.  I don't know.  I have always felt different on the inside in terms of feeling like I was this inner athlete trapped in a larger person's body.  When I used to do 5K's, which I know I will get back into soon, and they'd sound the horn to get started, I wanted to run with the people in the front of the pack instead of merely walking.  There is absolutely nothing at all wrong with walking, it's just that I want more.

When I was on my walk today and I would cross a side street, I jogged across from one side of the other and then I'd go back to a walk.  I do have an injury from a car accident from quite a few years ago in which my left knee got slammed into the dashboard and, compounded with all the additional weight I had, created a bunch of pain.  However, that pain is barely noticeable now.  So, what I would like to do is get my doctor's blessing on this before I attempt to add in jogging and then eventually running.  I don't want to cause greater damage, no matter how loud that voice is telling me to just run.  In the meantime, I'll continue my fast-paced walking and enjoy that.  I just ache for more right now.  What is happening to me??

Monday, July 16, 2012

Back home from my trip

I am so glad to be back in my own bed!  I loved my trip with my very dear friend and we didn't want it to end, but I was looking forward to falling asleep back in my own bed.  We journeyed over 966 miles, starting from San Diego.  We went up to Montecito, Santa Barbara, Morro Bay, Cayucos, Hearst Castle (San Simeon), Monterey (including the 17-mile drive and Pebble Beach) and then eventually back home. 

I had a lot of insights on this trip.  First of all, I learned that I have more strength inside of me than I ever realized was possible.  I went to fabulous restaurants with my friend and brought my program with me, having shakes, chicken broth and other beverages.  You know what?  I was perfectly okay.  Better than just okay. I was fascinated with the food she was eating, but not in a sense that I wanted any of it.  One night, for example, she had a grilled salmon, steamed asparagus and a spinach salad.  I thought to myself, how yummy, I look forward to having that healthy meal in the future.  I wasn't sad about it at all because I am starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel.  The light is not near me right now, but it's coming in the horizon and that's terrific.  I think it was eye opening for her, too, because she is working on losing weight herself and I used to be the heavier one -  now I'm not.  We had a lot of great conversations about being healthier with a lot of honest sharing.  I also was amazed at my focus during the trip - I wanted to do active things.  I went on a very long walk one day around the bay and beach in Morro Bay.  It ended up being 2 hours, but it was wonderful.  Then another day, we were going to go to the hotel's gym to work out in Monterey and I said to her that instead of that, let's drive 5 miles up the road to Carmel and go hiking ... they have mountains that are right next to the beach with hiking trails.  We did that and it was gloriously wonderful.  We both had moments where we cried because we felt God's blessings on us in a most tremendous way.  For the most part, there was a lot of walking for me and I felt good about that.  I think I wore her out a little, and I did apologize, but I felt so alive and just really realized what I had been missing out on in my life of thinking food was more important than anything.

In the theme of treating myself well, I went to the hilt of that when we were at Pebble Beach.  We were walking around the grounds of the supremely opulent Lodge there and decided to go into the shops they had.  We started out at a typical touristy shop, but there was nothing there that really caught my eye.  But then I spotted a jewelry store right next to it.  I wanted to go in just to look, I promise.  That's when I fell in love.  There I spotted a pair of earrings that were enticing me with their exquisite beauty.  They were in a case for 50% off, so how could I not look, right?  Right!  I honed right in on them and, silly me, asked the sales woman how much the earrings were.  Like a pro, she took them out of the glass display, showed them to me and even let me try them on.  They were white gold hoop earings with little diamonds running through them.  Gorgeous earrings, not too showy but just really pretty.  She told me they were the kind I could wear every day (yeah, she was good at her job).  When she told me the price, I gulped and told her I would have to think about it.  I don't buy things like that for myself normally.  When I found my friend looking at some earrings for herself, I told her about my find, how much they were and she said, "Kathy, I think you should do it.  You deserve something very special!"  I looked at her, back at the case, back at her, smiled and said, "You're right."  So, like a child on Christmas morning, I walked back over (more like skipped) to the sales woman and told her I would take them.  Perhaps I don't normally do things that like for myself, but I am in a place in my life where I am trying to actually do the things I like because I want to treat myself like I deserve.  I like things that make me feel pretty and feminine.  So I have a new pair of earrings, and so does my friend!  I also got a new Coach purse at an outlet mall we stopped by on the way home.  I know, I know ... I went crazy but so what!!  I can afford it and I deserve to do things for myself that make me happy.  I'm really not just saying that - I mean it.

So anyway, home sweet home.  I will be heading out for another trip on Friday to go to Vegas with my mom.  We'll be spending time with my brother, sister-in-law and aunt.  I'm going to post some additional pics from my trip below.  I posted a bunch on my Facebook page, but here are some highlights for those of you who don't do Facebook. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Brought me to tears

Now I'm in Monterey on my vacation.  Yesterday we left Morro Bay and headed up the 1 going north.  For about 100 miles, the ocean was on the left and the mountains were on the right.  As we were driving through Big Sur, I had to make sure I was paying attention to the road ... it was incredibly gorgeous.  I felt so moved by the majesty of God as we drove.

This morning, instead of going to the gym at the hotel, I encouraged my friend to go with me on a hike near the hotel.  The hike was in the mountains overlooking the ocean.  How could we not do that?  It was an incredibly moving experience for both of us.  Here I am, climbing up a million stairs, scaling down rocks and feeling the wind blowing my hair as I overlooked the vast ocean and felt the mist in my face.  I was 417 pounds and I was scaling down freakin rocks!!  My friend didn't go all the way down with me because she was starting to feel some pain, so I told her to hang out at the top but that I wanted to go to the bottom where the waves were hitting the rocks and seals were just hanging out.  We both were absolutely overwhelmed with emotions, but in a very good way.  God is supremely blessing me and I know it.  I feel it. 

I have been handling being in restaurants just fine.  We have been in some pretty amazing ones with all the seafood around here, but I have not even thought about the food. I would bring in my chicken soup, shake and stick to a tea.  It wasn't a struggle at all.  How?  Lord help me, but I just don't know.  It has shown me that I am much stronger than I ever give myself credit for.  Below are some pics of my hike so you can see what I was talking about.  Tomorrow we're leaving Monterey (boo!!) and heading down to the Santa Barbara area and then concluding our lovely vacation back in San Diego on Sunday.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A different feeling

One of the things I committed to when I decided to go away on vacation was that I was still going to make exercise and taking care of myself a priority.  Nothing changes because I'm away from home.  So when my friend called me from her hotel room this morning to announce that she was feeling lazy and didn't want to go with me, I didn't let that stop me.  I got in my car and went to the downtown area of Morro Bay.  Living in a big city, it's a little different for me when people look me in the eye as they pass me with a very cheery, "Good morning!"  Practically everyone I walked by this morning did that.  It actually was rather lovely.  I ended up going to the bay, walking on the boardwalk and then eventually found the beach.

Taken on my walk this morning.
Ah, the ocean.  I have lived in sunny San Diego since I was three years old.  I am a California girl through and through and love being near the ocean.  Watching the waves break and come into the shoreline is the most peaceful sight and sound in the world to me and I just love it so.  As I got off the boardwalk and stepped onto the sand, I had forgotten how thick it can be when you are wearing sneakers.  I was utterly amazed at how much easier it was to navigate my body through that sand.  Before, I would have been huffing and puffing the whole way through or, worse, not even have gone in the first place.  Even though the distance from the parking lot to the actual shoreline was pretty far, I practically bounced there.  I walked pretty far on the shoreline and just breathed in that air.  Mmmm!  I felt so much a part of the living, instead of feeling like I was heading toward death's door.  It's an amazing feeling that is pretty hard to describe.  I was out there for two hours this morning and I absolutely loved every second of it.

Going on Optifast is a huge sacrifice, not only financially but emotionally.  At least I can say that is the case for me.  Sure, someone could view it as easier because all you're doing is drinking these shakes and not eating, right?  Give it a try for a week, for just a few days, and you'll soon find out how hard it really is.  The world around you eats food and you don't.  I certainly am not complaining, though, just saying that it's not as easy as it may appear to someone judging the program.  I know there are some people right now who are struggling with the products ... not liking the taste, fighting the process, maybe even picking apart the program.  All I can is that I have had to look deep within myself to figure out if this is all worth it or not.  I have not had food in five months.  Of course that is difficult!  But, unless there is medical issue going on, I had to leave the bargaining at the door, at least in my situation.  I was absolutely in a bad place when I first started the program ... 417 pounds, a myriad of medications I was taking, aches and pains 24/7.  I had no room for negotiations any longer.  I trusted the Optifast process because they have been doing this for a very long time and, frankly, people lose significant weight on the program.  So I stopped questioning and just did it.  Please don't take offense at what I am saying if you are struggling on the program ... it is not meant to be offensive in any way possible.  I just know that for me, I needed to stop doing the things that got me to the bad place I was in. 

That leads me back to this vacation.  It's different for me, very different.  I am not holed up in my room ordering room service, bringing large amounts of food into the privacy behind the door.  I am out going on two hour walks in nature and loving it.  I can appreciate the company of my friends and strangers without it being about the food.  These are things this gloriously wonderful program have brought into my life. Now I'm about to head out the door for more walking.  Can't wait ;-)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

First day of trip

Hi everyone.  We had a good drive up from San Diego to where we currently are, the Inn at Morro Bay, which is near San Simeon.  We're so excited to do active things on vacation, like working out in the gym or on the beach and then just exploring each day or hiking.  My, oh my, how my world has changed!  We were in Montecito and Santa Barbara today before arriving here in Morro Bay.  We have lovely rooms overlooking the bay with huge beds and fireplaces.  So nice to treat ourselves.  Here's an updated picture, taken today.  Hope you all are doing well ;-)

146 pounds down.  Yay!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Amazing reaction

My weekly weigh-in was pretty good.  I lost three pounds, which I am perfectly okay with, especially given that it was that time of the month during the week.  Truly, I have finally, finally gotten to that point where I totally get that it is okay not to lose a gargantuan amount of weight each week.  I am doing everything I am supposed to be doing, not cheating on my program and exercising, so I feel good.

During my last post, I wrote about shopping for the dreaded bathing suit.  I had two suits at home, but they were way too big on me when I tried them on.  I was practically swimming in them, so that was a no-go.  I said to myself, okay, I will go out to one more store.  If they don't have something that will work for me, then I will let it be okay.  I really was at peace in the moment about it, realizing it's certainly not the worst thing in the world if I don't go swimming and having gone through my process of feeling negative, then turning it around and ending on a positive note.  It is what it is.

When I got to the store, I pulled about eight bathing suits into the dressing room in different sizes, just in case.  The first one was not looking good on me, so on to the second.  It was a tankini with underwire bra with a cute little skirt for the bottom.  I tried it on and, in that moment, I understood what Cinderella felt like when the glass slipper fit like a glove.  It was perfect on me.  In fact, I looked in the mirror and actually thought I looked cute.  Do you know how huge that is??  Cute in a bathing suit?  Crazy but true.  The little skirt covered the parts of my upper legs that I wanted covered without being long and the rest of the suit accentuated the right parts.  I thought of my ex-boyfriend again, knowing he would have loved the bathing suit on me, and thought to myself, "Ha, you're the big loser, not me, you ass!!"  Okay, I know that was immature, but it's what I felt.  After what he did to me, it was a big deal for me to recognize and really feel in my heart with complete sincerity that he is the one missing out on being in my life, most definitely not the other way around.  When our relationship ended, I was utterly devastated and while he did me no favors, it actually ended up working out for the best because I don't need someone in my life treating me less than I should be treated. 

So anyway, I was proud of myself for being so positive with the experience today and thrilled that it turned out so well.  I'm headed off tomorrow morning with my friend and we are both sooo looking forward to this.  We're excited to become Thelma (me) and Louise (her) for the week, minus the mayhem those two got into!  I am bringing my laptop with me, so I will still be blogging, even from the road.  This is an important process in my program leading towards a successful weight loss.  I am bound and determined that this is my time to finally heal and be in a healthy body.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Bathing suit shopping

A few weeks ago, I wrote about some difficulty I was having in trying to buy a new bathing suit for this summer.  Since I will be leaving on Tuesday for my first of two trips, I'm starting to run out of time to get one since I do plan on swimming during my vacation.  So I decided that I would get this done today.  The last time I tried on bathing suits, I was really hating how I was looking because of all the excess skin on my upper legs since losing the weight I have lost so far.  I do have two bathing suits at home.  One is a few years older and I never liked the way it fit on me.  The other one is a tankini top with a skirt for the bottom.  I wore it last year.  I wasn't digging the skirt because it didn't really suit my tastes, but it also reminded me of my ex because I spent a lot of time wearing it when we were together.  So I wanted something new.

I went to a store that I knew had lots of bathing suits that would fit me.  I grabbed about ten different ones and went into the dressing room.  I decided to take pictures of myself with each one on with my cell phone so that I could objectively select the best one for me.  I hated the fit of each and every one.  I even grabbed bathing suits that were a few sizes too big to see if that would help, which, of course, it didn't.  They were either body-hugging and made me uncomfortable or the excess skin was prominently displayed and it made me incredibly uncomfortable.

In all this time that I have been losing weight, I have not been as negative about my body as I was when I was in the dressing room trying on those bathing suits today.  I finally had to get out of there.  As I was leaving the store, a woman crossed my path, but not before she looked at my body up and down.  I swear, I could have decked her for taking a look at my body and blatantly staring at me.  But whatever, I wasn't caring about her in that moment. 

I got in my car and caught what I was doing.  I was completely feeding into the negativity.  I sat there for a minute and said to myself, Whoa, stop it right now!  Okay, so things aren't where I want them to be today, but like hell was I going to let myself play into the stupid mind-game that I was entering.  There is an amazing work that is being done within me right now and I am not going to discount that by horrid self-talk.  So, I began to refocus.  I quickly did a little gratitude list in my head of where I am right now from a physical standpoint, since that was what I was focusing on.  It included things such as:

  • I have lost 143 pounds in five months, which is no small feat.
  • When I first started Optifast, I was wearing clothes that were size 34 or 4x.  Today I wear an 18/20 or 1x.
  • I am no longer a diabetic who has to inject insulin or take oral medication.
  • I can fit behind the wheel of my car without a seat belt extension when before my tummy always touched the steering wheel and I had to have that extension.
  • I no longer sweat, except when I'm exercising.  In fact, most of the time I am cold.
  • My skin glows because of all the water I'm drinking.
  • I have an incredible amount of energy.
I could go on and on with the list, but you get the idea.  Beyond the physical changes are so many wonderful things as well.  Ultimately, I need to face the fears I was feeling inside, whatever they may be.  Maybe I'm not perfect, but I'm exactly who I'm supposed to be right where I sit today.  I am a loved person, even I know that deep down inside.  I was not going to let that negativity that was doing it's best to creep in stay with me.  I refuse to do that to myself.  I deserve so much better than that crap!  Actually, we all deserve so much better than that.  That's not to say that it doesn't take a lot of work to combat the negative talk.  It does, but I really don't want to repeat patterns of the past.  I want to walk forward in the healthiest way possible.  I am thrilled I was able to catch myself in the moment.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Stepping out of the comfort zone

I have discovered that the best way to find out why I was overeating was to put down the food and the causes would become abundantly clear.  Now that I have done that, the reasons seem to attack at me from several different directions and it is my job to actually deal with them instead of constantly running.  Otherwise, I will inevitably run right back to food.  As a child, I felt very unsafe.  I was living with a mother who physically abused me for years and then I was sexually traumatized by someone I trusted.  That led to going to a very safe place ... food.  That was my drug of choice to numb the pain, express my anger, punish myself and keep people at a very comfortable distance from me.  I did not trust people and, as a consequence, I had an extremely difficult time forming intimate relationships.  I do not want these events in my life to be what defines me.  Yes, there is tragedy and heartbreak there but I have a fighting spirit.  While events of the past are in the past, they still can affect the present if they are not dealt with.  There are times, however, that I feel like a fish out of water as I attempt to find healing.  One such thing is the issue of confrontation.

For most of my life, I avoided confrontation.  I certainly did that with my mother because the few times that I was brave enough to tell her she was hurting me, she would only hurt me more.  If other kids were making fun of me for being large, I wouldn't confront them because they would only ridicule me more.  So I learned rather quickly that to avoid those feelings, I just simply would not confront anyone.  Confrontation is a part of life, though.  If someone is stealing from you, you must confront them to recover what belongs to you.  If someone is hurting your children, you definitely will be a bear and confront them.  And for me, if someone is treating me in a way less than I deserve, I must confront them as well.  Today I was given the challenge of confronting someone.  I must admit, in the moments leading up to having the discussion with this person, I was feeling the anxiety inside that normally would have been soothed by some ice cream, chips, cookies and other forms of toxicity that would convince me to just not say anything.  When that little voice started going on in my head before making the phone call I had to make today to deal with this other person, I had to tell myself, "Kathy, you have to deal with this.  Just stay calm and know you will be very proud of yourself for being as strong as you know you are." 

Okay, yes, I was talking to myself.  But you know what?  It made all the difference in the world.  I had the conversation I didn't want to have, yet it turned out much better than I could have imagined.  My voice was not shaky, I was not letting the other person off the hook and I did it with peace inside.  It helped me remember that as human beings, we are more than what we appear to be on the surface.  Have you ever been at the beach, swimming in the waves and been out so far that you could no longer touch the bottom?  Below us is a vast sea that is so grand in size and contains such depth that a glacier is much larger than it ever appears.  The Mariana Trench is over 36,000 feet below the surface (never realized my high school oceanography course would come in handy here!).  There is more depth to me than a person who ate too much in her life.  How do you cope with not only the trauma of certain events in your life, but the residual affects such as lack of trust of other people, even those with good intentions?  It was just easier to not deal with things, to go to the food and put on a smile, hoping and praying I could just shut the door to feelings.  That doesn't work.  Who knew that when I decided to embark on this journey of improving my health that the true healing would not come in just the physical transformation but something much deeper.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Journey of a thousand miles

As I was doing some reading this morning, I was reminded of the saying, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step".  When I started Optifast, I knew it would be a journey for me because I didn't have just 40 pounds to lose.  I knew it was going to be significant.  As the weight started dropping off, though, I got in this mindset that I should be losing a minimum of double digits every week.  A little insane?  Definitely!  As my friend Melissa blogged about, it is a process.  I have been fortunate to have lost more than the average person almost every week.  I mean, when I think about it, I lost 45 pounds in the first month alone.  Now that is crazy.  Granted, I started off needing to lose a lot but I never expected to shed so much in 30 days.

As time marches on, it's now been five months that I have been on product.  And it will likely be almost as long until I reach goal weight.  That little girl inside of me, who is super impatient, is loudly stomping her feet in the corner screaming about how unfair that is.  Ten months of no food, not even healthy food, let alone the stuff that got me here.  That's a long time.  Women conceive children, deliver them and take them home in a shorter amount of time.  While I don't have desire for food, I do think about how I have been able to do it so long already and how I will be in the second half of this.

The truth is that I don't have some magic source of willpower.  I don't have this resolve inside that says I am just going to do this!  If I did, trust me, I would not be doing a medically supervised liquid program.  I have people that contact me and flat out ask me how I am doing this, especially when it seems to come so easily to me.  I don't know.  When I came to the Optifast doors, I knew I had to follow directions and not try to say "Yeah, but" at every opportunity.  I needed to give up the fight and let go of all the notions I had about how to lose weight.  I was desperate enough to shut up about it and put that one foot in front of the other.  No one can appreciate the true challenges that come along with this type of program, not only the physical ones but moreso the emotional ones, until they have done it themselves.  This program is unique in that it does take off the weight, but it does not end there.  In fact, for most people who've already been through the program, they say this phase was the easier part.  The hard part is maintaining it and living regular life.  I can well imagine that's true. 

My daily journey right now as I face more weight to lose is to focus not on how long it is going to take me to get to a satisfying place, but to focus on where I am right here and now.  That road of a thousand miles is one foot in front of the other that, for me, must be done with peace.  I can't spend the time doing mathematical formulas as to how many calories I'm burning every day, looking at my carbohydrate ratios, trying to get away with eating foods that are "free", obsessing about how long it takes me to walk while I'm exercising or any of the other things that sometimes plagues people when they are losing weight.  Instead, I need to celebrate my daily successes.  I can honor the journey I have already been on and feel the power of that.  And each day that I arise, I can remember that all I have is that one day to be present in, not the past and certainly not the future.  There is beautiful peace in that, a peace I would rather live in humbly and by the grace of God.  So if you see me exercising, I am not timing how long it takes me to walk a mile.  And if I cry on the way home from one of my weekly Optifast meetings, it is not because I did something wrong ... it is because I am in a place where it feels like the weight is just being taken from me, but with love and encouragement.  I feel this miracle in my life so deeply and if there is ever a time where I take it for granted and think I should have lost ten pounds during the week, God reminds me where I have been by a person I meet, an old picture of me at my heaviest, the look of shock on someone's face when they haven't seen me in a long time, the happy smile on my face when I look in my own mirror or even just the gentle breeze I feel when I am outside putting that one foot in front of the other.  I get to celebrate all of that every day.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Power of positive thinking

Today is a holiday in the U.S. and a time when family and friends get together, typically around food and alcohol.  I wasn't with my family today and people I would have hung out with were with their own families, so I was alone. It made me think about my ex, Mr. What's His Name.  I miss being in a relationship, but not one in which I am with someone that treats me less than I deserve.  On days like this, though, I miss it more than normal.  In my days before going on the program, I would have used food to avoid uncomfy feelings, like feeling lonely.  Not today.  In fact, I didn't even have a desire for food, even though the fourth of July is about hamburgers, ribs and hot dogs by a barbecue.  Instead, as feelings come up, I need to deal with them.

One of the things I have been doing is really trying my best to incorporate positive things into my life as I continue on my weight loss journey.  There will come a day when regular food re-enters my life and I definitely do not want to fall back into old patterns that brought me to 417 pounds in the first place.  I strongly believe in the power of positive thinking.  I remember this old Saturday Night Live skit with Al Franken playing Stuart Smalley.  Do you remember that?  He would look in the mirror and say things like:

"I'm good enough.
I'm smart enough.
And doggone it ... people like me."

Each time I would see it on Saturday Night Live back in the day, I would crack up.  I would think to myself, "Do people actually do that in front of  a mirror with a straight face?"  I couldn't ever imagine that I would do that and be serious because it just seemed really ridiculous.  And while it does take the notion of positive thinking to an extreme, there is some validity there to a certain degree.  I know that when I come from a positive place, even in the face of extreme adversity, it is a much better way to approach life.  I don't need to sit in a mirror and tell myself that I'm good enough or smart enough, but I can combat any negative talk with positive energy.  People who do so have less stress, are healthier and just generally seem happier.  Part of the process of putting weight on over the years involved an extreme amount of negativity about myself and I frankly am unwilling to go down that road any longer.  I'd tell myself that I was ugly, unworthy and deserved it if I found myself alone.  Then, lo and behold, I'd find myself in the food, with no immediate escape possible.  Looking back over my day, I realized that there was none of that negativity with me.  I may have been by myself today, but that was perfectly okay.  I was able to work on boxing up some of my clothes that are too big, watched a movie and even gave myself a pedi.  Best of all, thoughts of food were not even with me.  These are things I need to really appreciate and celebrate more often, especially when I know people who are really struggling with their programs, whether Optifast or other methods of weight loss.  For me, the struggle and the clawing through white knuckle moments are just simply not there.  Instead, I have peace inside.  What a miracle that is for sure!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Weekly weigh-in

I had my Optifast class tonight and found out I lost 7.5 pounds for the week.  That brings my total to 143 pounds shed in just under five months.  I sat in our class and just felt shell-shocked, but in a positive way.  How is it that I have lost that weight?  Me?? I could have never dreamed I would have this sort of positive result when I decided to do Optifast in the first place.  Yes, I prayed that I would lose weight, as I have wanted for all of my life, but I couldn't have ever imagined that I would lose this much, let alone so fast.  As I was driving home tonight, I was listening to music and just got so overcome with emotion.  Tears started to fall from my eyes.  I have so much gratitude for God laying His hands on me and blessing me.  I can't even begin to put into words the depth of what I'm feeling inside, but I'm sure you can well imagine if you've been following my blog for a while or know me personally.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

I'm not a turkey

My mom came over to my house today to spend some time with me and to do her laundry.  She hasn't seen me in two weeks I think it is.  She came into my house with a greeting of "Oh my God!!"  I get that reaction from people a lot these days if it's been a few weeks or more since they've seen me.  She asked me how much weight I've lost and was just astonished when I told her.  Not five minutes passed before she took the opportunity to tell me that she wished she could give me some of her boobs since apparently mine are now small.  She's gained a lot of weight over the years and now hers are pretty big.  I looked down at mine and wondered what she was talking about since my size hasn't changed at all there since dropping weight.  I decided to let it go.  Then she started talking about what she's doing to lose weight and how she's joined a gym, expressing that she thinks I should join one, too, to lose more weight.  I stepped in and said that what I am doing is perfectly fine.  I almost felt like saying to her, "I've lost 135.5 pounds without a gym ... how much have you lost?"  That felt sort of childish, immature and a little braggy so I just told her that I enjoy exercising so much more outdoors than paying money for a gym membership.  Then she started to say that I need to have skin removal surgery under my chin because I was looking saggy.  That just congured up an image of a turkey in my mind.  Do I have turkey neck now?

I told her that I am not worrying about that right now because I still have a lot of weight left to lose so we'll see what things look like around my face later on.  Besides, I said to her, I think I look fine.  She didn't need to know that I have already been having personal feelings about excess skin (although not around my chin, that was a new one to freak me out).  I didn't want her to feed into any insecurities I was having.  How about the fact that I've lost so much weight ... can we please celebrate that and not pick on any flaws you might see in me, Mother??  I was not about to pick a fight with her, but come on!

It reminded me of when I was a kid.  I was never good enough for her.  She was always picking on the clothes I was wearing, how pretty she thought I wasn't and certainly how I was too fat to be her daughter.  Things have most definitely improved in our relationship over the years and I can, in fact, have a relationship with her as an adult.  She is no longer abusive towards me and does try to love me in the best way she can.  I had to remind myself that she is limited in terms of knowing how to say something or how to be appropriate.  She just doesn't have a filter.  I am not going to rip at her because she is not tactful, but I did let her know she was starting to hurt my feelings.  Argh, how is it that family can still push your buttons?  The good thing for me, though, is I said what I needed to so she could understand that it's not okay to pick me apart, but just to love me anyway.  This is the most challenging thing I've ever been through in my life and I need her support, not criticism.  She got it.  Finally!!!