Sunday, September 30, 2012

Discovering the box under the bed

I was going through my closet today on the constant quest to purge the clothes that are way too big on me to wear outside my house.  It's hard to understand for someone that hasn't had the same experience, but it can be very exhausting to not fit in anything in your closet because everything is too big after so much weight loss, forced to get more clothes from somewhere.  I know ... a nice problem to have, right??  While I am so grateful to have this sort of problem, it actually is much harder to deal with than it appears on the surface.  I've been very fortunate that people have passed on clothes to me (thanks so much people!), but there are times when I have to supplement them with purchases, too.  No matter what, though, I have to get rid of my bigger clothes.  I can't hang onto them as if they're some sort of safety net just in case I might fit into them again in the future.  I don't want them to fit me again in the future.

There are some things that are too big that I have chosen to hang onto because they're not falling off of me quite yet or can be manipulated with belts and safety pins.  But, after I looked at what I was left with, I had a light bulb moment.  It was one of those aha moments Oprah would always talk about.  What a minute ... don't I have a box under my bed of clothes I had been hanging onto?  I dropped to my hands and knees, crawled under my bed and pulled out this plastic carton that had been sealed up so long that it took a little bit of brute force to get it open.  And, like a rainbow shining over a pot of gold, there it was.  Oh my gosh, there it was!  In this carton I put some clothes that were dream clothes I was hoping I would fit into again one day, items I was never willing to give up hope on.  Granted, they were in there for a very long time.  I think most of them went in the carton right before I moved over from the district office at my school district at work to my current high school site.  That was when I had lost about a hundred pounds, was looking awful cute in some short skirts and other things, then started gaining weight back until I managed to put back all the weight and then some.  I wasn't at my smallest by a long shot when I fit into them, but I thought I looked pretty good in them at the time.  Vanity run amok!!  So, it's been at least seven years since they've seen the light of day, if not longer.

As I opened the box and started pulling the pieces out, I looked at them and thought to myself, There's no way on God's green earth these are going to fit me.  Remember, I was not at my lowest weight when I fit into them but I had myself completely convinced that they were much smaller than my body is today as I held them up.  But, I decided to try them on anyway, just for shits and grins, as my dear dad always says.  I wanted to see how far off the mark I was.  At the time when I was wearing them, they actually were tight on me, probably a couple of sizes too small.  So imagine my utter shock when they all fit either perfectly or were too big on me now.  What a cool feeling that was.

Is this really just about a box of clothes?  No.  It's about a dream realized.  A dream I dared not think about for a long time.  I tried for years and years to lose the weight.  Like I've said before, my entire life has been spent on this roller coaster of weight loss, gain, loss, gain ... well, you get the picture.  I completely commend people who were able to put their minds to it and lose the weight through diet and exercise, all the while doing it on their own. 

Trust me, I gave it my absolute best effort and tried for a very long time.  It was failed attempt after failed attempt.  Instead of losing weight, I just grew larger and larger.  With the weight gain came a killing of my spirit.  I eventually grew to 417 pounds before I finally was willing to take life-saving measures.  Think about it -- how many times have you ever heard of a woman weighing 417 pounds?  I mean, you hardly hear of men weighing that much, never mind a woman.  Yet, that's where I was, so please don't judge my choice of seeking the help to lose the weight through a medically supervised program such as Optifast.  Until you have walked in the shoes of someone that was 256 pounds overweight or more, you can never understand the desperation, the utter despair, the hopelessness that comes with living in that body.  Even being 100 pounds overweight is not in the ballpark that I found myself in.  It's not my intention to disrespect anyone's weight struggles, but I just want others to understand where I was coming from when I decided to go on a liquid fast.  There's a lot of work that comes with this, though.  I work out often, I am committed to being 100% compliant in the program and I am walking through all the emotions that come along with releasing the weight.  Trust me when I say it's not an easy or easier road to travel by any means.  If anything, I'm constantly getting slammed in the face with overwhelming emotions because it's happening so fast.  Dropping 183 pounds in about seven and a half months is fast.

Okay, off my soapbox I go ;-)  Now that I've gone back in the carton and tried everything on, I have decided that these skirts, tops and other things deserve to be a part of my wardrobe again.  Some of the skirts are short, perhaps a little bit shorter than I'm comfy with because I haven't been showing a lot of leg in the last few years.  It's been out of humiliation and shame, thinking that I had no business exposing so much skin.  But, on my constant quest to better myself and be brave, I will wear them.  These things used to make me feel cute and pretty before, so why not now? 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Dealing with boredom

I was feeling soooo bored today.  I had things that I was working on - papers I had to write for my classes and work that I brought home over the weekend - but I just had that uneasy feeling that no matter what I did, I was going to be bored.  I think that I was pouting a little bit because I had these plans to get some good exercise in outdoors but it was just too hot outside by the time I got it together to go out.  Instead of letting it go and saying, oh well, next time ... I just couldn't stop thinking about the fact that I wanted to be out and exercising.

There are many reasons that people eat besides the intended purpose of fueling their bodies and one of those is being bored.  I remember times when I'd mindlessly just walk in the kitchen and pick up whatever junk was there for me to munch on.  I'd stand in front of the fridge and look for something exciting to eat, maybe something special that was beyond the norm.  Of course it didn't magically cure the boredom and really just created an additional problem.  I do believe in enjoying the taste of food, but it never gave me the rush I thought that it should.

Now I need to practice other habits to deal with situations where I would go to food to fix it.  For me, that's about changing the way that I have always done things to a new reality.  Obviously there are going to be times when I get bored, even when I have a lot to do, but the solution can't be a hand-to-mouth sort of thing.  That's easier said than done sometimes when I've been so used to doing things a certain way for my entire life.  I do know that I am going to remedy the too hot thing tomorrow by going out to walk earlier in the day.  It's supposed to be around 100 degrees, but Sara and I are going out to walk around Discovery Lake at 8:30 in the morning.  So hopefully we won't be dying out there and my body will thank me for taking good care of it.  I do love the exercise and crave it (I know, Kathy said she loves exercise? WTF!), especially when something stands in the way of me doing it.  Should be a great way to start out the day.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Always tugging at my shirt

No matter how many people make positive comments towards me in my smaller body, I still am surprised by their reaction to my weight loss.  Given my very public job, where I interact with a lot of people every day, I'm still pretty surprised when someone reacts to seeing me with shock on their face.  It happened to me again today.  I had someone do a double-take when they saw me and asked if it was me.  I haven't seen this person since probably April or May, but to not recognize me at all?  That seemed a little over the top.  Yet, this happens every single day, without fail.  I'm not saying I'm annoyed by it or anything even remotely close to that.  I guess the problem for me is that I don't see myself in the same way as other people do.  I completely get that I look different, but my vision must need some sort of major correction because I still see the old me when I look in the mirror.  It isn't until I'm in a space that used to be tight around me, like a chair or a belt, that I get what the big deal is.  Sometimes I'll put on some old clothes that barely fit me before and they fall right off my body.

The honest truth is that I'm uncomfortable being so much smaller than I was before.  I have been really trying to be brave and wear clothes that actually fit me instead of being four sizes too big.  Yet, when I do, I'm constantly tugging at t-shirts that I think are too tight or wearing my belt loose around my jeans because I can't believe I'm really that small.  Have you started rolling your eyes in disbelief that I'm actually complaining about this yet? 

Really, I'm not complaining ... I'm just saying that the notion of losing weight and the emotions that come with that is so much easier in theory than in reality.  In theory, wouldn't we all want to be thinnner?  Of course we would!  It's a dream for so many people, including me.  In reality, though, the extra weight provides a layer of protection around me and I don't feel nearly as vulnerable as I do now.  It's amazing the amount of people that stare at my body right in front of me these days.  The flip side of that is that I have such a large circle of support surrounding me with people who love and respect me.  If I say I'm uncomfortable because something actually fits me, they completely understand what I'm talking about because they've been there or they can imagine some of the emotions I'm going through with all of this, especially having known me over the years. 

I am following in the footsteps of others that have walked before me, though.  Sheryl over at Bitch Cakes wrote such a terrific post about self-acceptance recently.  I think the acceptance is not just about where you're going, but where you are now.  That is such a significant part of the journey.  I'll keep working on wearing things that fit and working on acceptance that where I am right now is where I'm supposed to be.  I don't need to run at full speed to the finish line because really, really, there is no finish line.  When I have times where I feel pretty, I can embrace that and not try to shy away from it.  Don't misinterpret me, this is not about ego.  I think, for me, it's about letting go one hundred percent.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Well helloooo half-Kathy

I am sitting in what feels like a dream today.  I am now wearing size 16's as of this morning.  When I started Optifast in February, I was wearing size 34 pants in my body assessment photos.  Now I'm in a size 16, more than half of the person I used to be.  As I got dressed for work, excuse me, but I felt gorgeous!  To some people, they would be mortified to be in a 16, but for me, well I never even imagined to experience such a thing.  A couple of friends from work gave me some of their old clothes for the time when my body was ready to fit into them.  So I put them away in my spare bedroom closet.  Nothing else was hanging in there except clothes just waiting for me to catch up.  They were in there for months.  Slowly, some of them started to fit me and now the smallest size of the bunch fit. 

As I was driving to work, I think the enormity of it all hit me and I just started to cry.  They were absolutely tears of joy in gratitude to God.  I felt so humbled and incredibly thankful to have this happening to me in my life.  Of course, I put in the work to make it happen, but you seriously could not wipe the smile off of my face today.  Here I am, 183 pounds down from my highest weight and clothes nine sizes smaller.  Wow.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Felt the fear grip me

Today after work, I decided to stop off at Smart & Final because I'm running low on sugar-free Torani for my shakes.  I hardly ever go into grocery stores these days.  Why do I need to when all I buy is water and drinks for my shakes for the most part?  Every time I have gone into one for whatever reason since I've been on Optifast, I have felt some sort of guilt wash over me, like I am not supposed to be there, like I would get in trouble if I were to get caught.  Totally ridiculous thinking, but there you go!

Today, though, as I was looking for what I needed, I had a flood of memories of overeating from other times in my life flood into my consciousness and I got this sudden, overwhelming feeling that I was going to blow it once I finish this phase of the program.  The fear was so strong that I was going to make a huge mistake that I couldn't think about anything else. 

It made me wonder why I was thinking like that.  Looking back on my day, we did have an event at work where there was a lot of food and celebration.  Everyone was partaking in the food, except for me.  I sat there with everyone else and I drank my shake, which is something I always do at social events.  I am comfortable enough with those around me to do that.  I was able to make conversation with people so I wasn't focusing on their food necessarily, except the smell was driving me crazy.  Not in a negative sense that it was bad, but in a sense that the smell was going to drive me to eat.  I didn't feel any desire for the food, but I suppose the smell got the better of me. 

Don't worry, my fellow co-workers, I was absolutely fine and didn't really want any of what you were eating.  It's just that I'm not perfect and the smell was attracting me.  What was doubly hard for me was that someone came up to me and told me that I was a huge inspiration to them, not even in relation to just the weight, but the courage I have been displaying in so many of the things I do.  It actually was very touching.  I can't even say that it was hard necessarily, but it brought up these feelings for me of wondering if I was really the person they said I was.  I never imagined I would be some sort of inspiration for anyone, let alone myself.  Yet, my story is definitely full of inspiration in various ways and I don't think I properly recognize it. 

These are the times when I need to work through the emotions that pop up for me, particularly as I get to a place of truly transitioning from this phase to the next one.  That is going to be difficult, but I also know that God gives me the strength to rise to the occasion and do the absolute best I can in every situation.  For now, I'm doing the best I can to be in the moment about it.  Playing the "what if" game can actually be more debilitating than helpful.  And the truth is the fear doesn't have to grip me.  If I continue being honest, writing down my feelings and trying to work through problems that have arisen, I also know I have the tools I need to make it through to the other side.  And, trust me, I am going to make it to the other side.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Time for a change!

I decided to give the look of my blog a little bit of a change.  Hope you like!  I like to switch things up periodically and this just screams healthy living.  That has become such an important part of my life, if not the most important part of my life next to God.  I am so committed to living a different life than the one that led to diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Speaking of healthy living, I tried going in to work today, but I just felt so yucky that I lasted for about half a day and decided to turn around and come right back home.  Everyone at the office was so supportive and encouraged me to take care of myself.  Novel concept, right?  I knew I shouldn't have gone in but I was being stubborn.  I came home and rested, which helped tremendously.  I did do some work from home just because it is a crazy time right now for me, but I also did take some time to rest.  My fever is pretty much gone now so that makes me happy.

The taking care of ourselves thing is so hard, isn't it?  It took me a long time to get to this spot where I finally put my health as a priority.  Many people have asked me why I chose the path I did in losing weight through Optifast other than a "normal" way.  Let me answer that by painting a scenario of my reality at the time for you. 

I had always struggled with weight.  In fact, I have never been a normal body size in my entire life.  I never had thin years as a teen, I couldn't look back and revel in my 20's as a healthy adult and wasn't even small as a child.  I was always a big girl, most of the time the biggest one in most rooms.  But I seemed to compensate for that by being a likable child, a sweet girl and a friendly person in general.  That part of me has never changed because that's genuinely who I am.  People who know me know that I would give the shirt off my back for them if they needed it. 

Yet, inside, that was a different story.  I was abused and raped.  I made horrible decisions when it came to men and I just felt so lost.  I had a hard time trusting people, always wondering what their ulterior motive really was.  My weight continued to creep up and up, always surpassing a point that seemed unlikely.  I was teased relentlessly.  This world can be so cruel to people who are different.  Just walking amonst people gave others the license to make fun of me and treat me as a third class citizen.

I tried every diet known to man, even tried things that I made up on my own and nothing seemed to work.  I did give things my best effort for a long time.  I was in Overeaters Anonymous for 14 years, even lost weight there, but it worked until it didn't work any longer.  When I was a freshman in high school, my father put me into an eating disorder rehab facility here in San Diego called the Raider Institute through Mission Bay Hospital.  It was an intensive, in-patient 6-week program.  I did manage to lose weight there, that is until I went home and didn't have that inclusive environment any longer.  I tried Weight Watchers (several times), Jenny Craig, South Beach and a myriad of other diets.  I tried exercising, restricting, calorie-counting, fat-gram counting ... you name it, I did it.

Then, earlier this year, I found myself tipping the scales at 417 pounds (in fact, I would go up to 420 before it was all said and done).  That was easily the lowest point of my life and the moment I knew that I had hit rock bottom.  There are certain events that happen your life that you never forget and I will never forget that.  I knew that I was willing to do absolutely anything at that moment and got on my knees and begged God for help, with the most heartfelt sincerity that I possessed.  Up until then, I had been researching different weight loss solutions, even seriously considering having gastric bypass surgery.  After having several discussions with my primary care doctor which, trust me, were very difficult conversations to have, I opted to go the route of Optifast. 

This medically supervised weight management program was something that felt like light in the darkness for me.  I needed the medical supervision and I just didn't feel like going on another calorie-counting diet that I tried again on my own would suffice.  For some people, that is the perfect road to weight loss, and I salute them on that.  For me, however, I needed the structure this program was going to provide for me because I just didn't trust that I could do it on my own.  I needed help and was desperate for it.  I especially liked the fact that this was not just focused on weight loss, but working on the very reasons why I chose to eat in the first place.  Even after getting to a normal body size, this program does not drop you like a hot potato.  It's another almost year of maintenance and a booster program so that patients can always have support if they would like to participate. 

I am here to tell you that this program changes lives.  My life is changed in a way I can't even begin to describe, but if you've been following my blog for a while or know me in person, you have seen the change in me.  It's not that all of me is different now -- just enhanced.  I still walk in this world that is foreign to me, but I'm starting to get more comfortable in it as the days pass.  My confidence grows as my body gets smaller.  There is so much power in taking charge of your life, in getting up and shouting that you aren't going to sit by the sidelines any longer quietly in a living hell that no one else knows about.  While others may occasionally judge me for the choice I made in how I was going to lose the weight, they soon come to see this was the right decision for me and support me.  No one loses the amount of weight I have by chance.  There is work that goes into this, whether that is following through on a commitment of following the program to the letter, spending time exercising my body or delving into an emotional space I would rather stuff away with food.  I'm doing this and it's not as scary as it first seemed.  I absolutely refuse to be a sad statistic, not any longer.

Monday, September 24, 2012

I feel icky today

I woke up this morning with a very upset tummy, but thought I'd tough it out at work.  I ended up leaving in the afternoon, after just not being able to handle it any longer.  I had my first shake of the day at 6:30am and had to force myself to have another one at about 3pm when normally I would have been absolutely ravenous with a huge headache by then if I waited that long.  I did have to drive over to the clinic to check in since I have my group on Monday nights to do my lab work, weigh in and grab my products for the week. 

Just yesterday, when we were walking at the lake, Tessa and I were talking about our respective weight losses slowing down and being a-okay with that because we have revved up our activity levels.  The thing for me is that I know my body, mind and spirit feel so much better when I'm more active and I get in more exercise.  There is going to come a day, not too far off into the future, where I will be off the shakes and need to incorporate regular exercise into my life so working on that now will only be positive for me down the line.  So, when my weight loss this week registered at a pound and a half, I really was fine with that.  Sure, I had a tinge of disappointment ... I'm human and would like the scale to reflect all the hard work I've put in.  Yet I also know that I'm super excited about my progress so far.  I started this journey on February 6th of this year, feeling as horrible as I possibly could about myself, out of breath all the time, sweaty, worried that I could possibly have a heart attack or something similar at any moment.  Fast forward to yesterday when, after completing our 5-miles around the lake, I joked to the girls about going for round two!  I do have aches and pains that are a result of years of being super morbidly obese, but overall the difference I feel in my body from then to now is like night and day.  I have lost 183 freakin pounds.  Excuse me, but that totally rocks!!  God, thank you for that.  I'll never be able to express my gratitude adequately enough.  Yeah, I'll take that pound and a half, happily so.

As for me and my icky tummy, we're hanging in there.  I did sleep most of the afternoon and am now sitting here not feeling much better.  I've got a fever and the rest of me is screaming to crawl back into bed.  I really hope I'm better in the morning because I have a crazy day at work tomorrow with so much going on.  But, if I'm not better by then, I have to put my health first and stay home.  I don't need to be stubborn and try to soldier on.  I don't want to get other people sick and, really, I want to feel better as soon as possible and the best way to do that is to rest and get plenty of fluids in.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Taking care of ourselves

I went out this morning on a walk around Miramar Lake with Sara and Tessa, as well as Sara's husband and little boy.  It's about 5 miles around the lake, which is flat for the most part, with little hills here and there.  It was a little hot out there, but here we are afterwards and the course we walked (I sometimes log in my exercise here to see how far I've walked or how many calories I burned).

Sara, Tessa and me
After logging in our time and my weight, turns out I burned 874.4 calories ... yahoo!

We did stop a few times as we were walking and slowed down our pace with Sara's little boy, but I was glad to do that.  I get so competitive sometimes, not with other people, but with me.  If you don't believe me, check out the last time I walked at the lake and see how fast I went then and then you'll know for sure.  Slowing down and letting go of my competitiveness is a good thing.

It was so great to get out and get a great walk in.  Even better?  That I did it with fellow Optifasters!  We are all on the same path, even if our journeys are a little different.  As much as we all have support in each other's lives from people not doing the program, there is no one that understands the things we go through better than those doing the same thing.  I completely appreciate that we can share with each other so deeply, as we do on our respective blogs and in-person groups.  I couldn't imagine going through this process all alone.  We'll do more walks and would love others to join us that live in San Diego county.  We're all here to support each other! 

-- Kick Ass Kathy

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Changing eating behaviors

I was driving down the street today near my house and I spotted a fast food place where I would often get food on the go.  It started me thinking about what I used to eat.  Here's an example from three different places to give you an idea of how my food choices got me up to 417 pounds:
  • Jack in the Box's Sourdough Jack Hamburger and order of Medium Fries:  Combined total of 1131 calories, 61g fat, 2271mg sodium and 99g carbs.  This doesn't include the diet Coke I'd always order with it.
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken's 2 piece meal with Original Recipe breast and thigh, coleslaw and macaroni & cheese:  Combined total of 950 calories, 55g fat, 2680mg sodium and 37g carbs.
  • Pick Up Stix's (Chinese food) orange chicken with fried rice:  1115 calories, 1985mg sodium and 136g carbs.

Each one of these items would be just one meal, perhaps a lunch or dinner.  If I had a burger and fries at Jack in the Box during lunch and then had orange chicken and fried rice at dinner, I'd be at almost 2250 calories for just these two meals, not counting breakfast or any other food.

That's scary stuff to me.  I can't go back to that world of insanity, which is really what it is, pure and simple.  The taste may seem delish right now, but I can't do that to my body any longer.  I've worked really hard to get to this spot and I need to be more aware of food when the time comes for me to eat it again.  This is exactly why it is important to keep a food journal along the way so that we can see exactly what we're putting into our bodies.  I really don't have any desire to be so haphazard about my weight any longer.  As tedious as the thought of writing down every food that I will eat seems to me, it's much better than the alternative - gaining the weight back and then extra as a back-up for those "just in case" moments.  Having excess weight doesn't just happen to any of us, it's all about how we're coping with life, whether the addiction is food, overexercising, gambling, sex or whatever else.  At the end of the day, that's all the same, just manifested in different ways.  I want real, lasting change to occur.

Lost subscribers that follow via e-mail

I'm not sure why this happened, but my Google Feed Burner somehow wiped out everyone that was following my blog posts by e-mail.  So, if that includes you, I'm so sorry.  Damn the technology!  If you want to continue following my posts by e-mail, I think you'll probably have to sign up again.

Update: Turns out all is fine.  It's just that all the subscribers no longer appear on my end.  No biggie though!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Yes, I do deserve this

In the midst of my crazy life, I do try to find the time to do non-required reading to continue expanding myself.  Lately I've been reading books on health.  That's just the mode I'm in right now, not surprising I'm sure.  I'm almost at the end of reading Ali Vincent's story, the first female winner on The Biggest Loser.  I'm all about seeing how people before me went through the experience of having their lives changed as they have lost significant amounts of weight. 

In talking about her experience, she tells stories of the ways in which her family and friends supported her during your her journey to lose her weight.  In one particular section of the book, she describes a letter she received from one of her sisters.  It said in part, "Somewhere along the line I think you decided you didn't deserve it and I'm here to tell you that you do."  I felt an inner sting inside when I read this because I think I honestly felt that way about myself, too.  Somewhere in my life, I decided that I wasn't worth the extra effort.  That's a very sad thought, isn't it?  I was talking to a special friend at work today and we were commiserating with how we just didn't treat ourselves very well, not wanting to look in the mirror or even cutting off labels from our clothes so that we wouldn't be faced with the reality of where our choices took us.

Reality showed me just how striking it could be today.  There is a friend I have that I worked with for a very long time, probably 20+ years.  She worked with a non-profit agency that ran a program with our school district, but I've always had a very close relationship with her.  She saw me today and she truly didn't recognize me.  I mean, when she came into my office at the high school, she had absolutely no familiarity with me on her face as we spoke and I actually had to convince her that I was the Kathy she has known all these years.  She just looked at me and was dumbfounded.  Now, I've had people not recognize me that perhaps don't know me as well as this friend, but we have shared many lunches together, have been in each others' homes and I have held her grandbabies many times over the years.  And yet she had no recognition when she looked at me.  I think I had myself convinced that those people who said they didn't recognize me where just being nice and supportive of my weight loss endeavors.  But here was this person that knows me well and I was like a stranger to her?

I have been going along my journey, putting one foot in front of the other and not thinking too much about what I'm doing.  Time for me to have another shake?  Okay.  Time for me to get some exercise?  Glad to.  Time for me to be in a normal-sized body?  Whoa ... hold the phone.  I don't think I'm quite ready for that!  Yet, I need to get myself ready because it's likely only a few months away that I'll be transitioning from this phase into the next one.

And I think that is the thing that is shocking to me.  I don't know that I really believed in my heart that I would ever lose as much weight as I have lost.  Of course I was hopeful.  Down deep, though, I was pretty convinced that I would mess it up somehow, like I had done with every other attempt I have made to lose weight.  182 pounds gone.  Who freakin does that anyway?  Apparently I do.  There will come a time where there will be no more weight to lose, just me left dealing with my fears, anxieties and thoughts that I really am worth the effort at the end of the day.  I know this is not nearly the epiphany to other people as it is to me.  It's just that when you get to a certain size, something gets lost.  There are reasons we pick up food in the first place and it's up to me not to do that again. 

No matter what I'm going through in my life, a shift had to have taken place for me to have any sort of weight loss success.  As much as I might internally fight the idea that I may be a normal size one day really soon, if I'm not already there, I can choose to let go of the fight and embrace the fact that I am in the middle of really important healing right now.  I do deserve this healing, I really do.  Maybe I don't buy into it 100% right now, but eventually I will.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Inner strength and power

I came home from work today, looking forward to having the time for a long walk.  Gone are the lazy days of summer when I wasn't working and I could go out each day and exercise for as long as I wanted.  I miss that, but it is what it is.  Despite whatever else I had going on, it was an absolute priority for me to walk a few miles this afternoon.  It's my time to take care of myself and I really have come to enjoy it.  I love exercising with other people, don't get me wrong, but I also do cherish those times when I can be alone.  It helps me de-stress, get centered and just feel good.

As I tied my laces and fired up my iPod, I was excited at the prospect of climbing hills and feeling my body responding to the challenge.  It's these times that I really discover how much strength and power I have.  Not just in the bodily sense but, more importantly, what's on the inside.  On the inside, I am a stubborn, scrappy fighter who will not be messed with.  Kick-Ass Kathy.  She's the one that can walk for miles and miles without getting tired, the one that keeps getting up each time she's knocked down, the one that just comes out swinging and fights till there's nothing left.  What don't you love about Kick-Ass Kathy?

This journey of weight loss to a healthier me, at the end of the day, has not been about weight loss at all.  I know it seems like it, but it's really not.  It's about discovering that I've always had the strength inside to rise to the challenge, to reach my goals, to be the person I wanted to be, finally realizing I already was her.  Yesterday was an eye-opening experience for me in that I was uncomfortable in my body but that I was brave enough to stare it in the face and not be the one to blink first.  There's an evil, corroding presence in this world telling us that we can't do it, that we're not good enough and so why even try?  As more and more weight is being shed from my body, that voice tries to get louder.  It tries to get my attention by making me feel badly about myself, yet I have absolutely no reason to do so.  When I look at the fact that I only have about 75 pounds to lose before I reach my goal weight, I can rejoice in that.  When I started, it was going to take 256 pounds lost for me to see my goal.  I know that I won't cross some magical finish line at that point, but with each passing day, I get stronger and that really is the whole point.

After I came home from my walk, I got in the shower and just stood under the water, letting it wash over me.That is the most vulnerable place in the world for me.  It was there that I wept after I was diagnosed with cancer last year.  It was there that I discovered I had diabetes twelve years ago.  And it is there that God cradles me the most.  The water spraying down on me releases me from holding onto appearances that everything is perfectly fine when perhaps it isn't, but it also is incredibly invigorating.  That's what I felt today ... I have the power to walk through the muck that comes up as I am dealing with this new body and this new world I find myself in.  It's hard to describe these feelings to someone who hasn't been there before.  You have to remember that I have never been a normal body size in my entire life.  Never.  Not when I was a kid, not a teen and never as an adult.  I have no personal frame of reference for the things that I am going through right now.  Can't you see why I was tugging at my shirt yesterday?  Take away the weight, which I've had surrounding me my entire life, and you take away my security.  Yet, that scrappy fighter reemerged to remind me I have nothing to fear and that I can keep heading down the road I'm currently on.  I can keep letting go of the weight and doing things that are not altogether always comfortable for me.  In that way, I am very powerful and incredibly strong. 

As my strength grows, other people hold onto that for encouragement in their own lives.  I am reminded of that constantly.  As I blog about my experiences, people comment to me that they related to this or that situation and respect how open I am about the things I go through.  If I can walk through a foreign land, so can they.  I appreciate it when people tell me that I inspire them because, trust me, they inspire me.  So, kids, I'll keep walking through the feelings as they pop up, pray that God continues to give me strength to meet the challenges, and know that I am well on my way to living a different life in every way possible. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My own worst critic

Recently a friend reminded me of the immense value in remembering to look forward, not backwards.  It was a good reminder, but sometimes it's awfully difficult to do.  I don't intentionally look backwards, but there are moments when those thoughts do pop up.  I want to look forward, I really do, but behind me is a lot of physical and emotional pain, trauma if I'm really being honest, and that glares at me as I continue to on this journey to finding myself.

At work today, we began our annual college series workshops for seniors to help them begin wading through the often trecherous process of applying to college.  So, on Wednesdays when we hold our workshops, we all wear t-shirts either from our colleges or just simply a t-shirt from a college in general.  Now that I am fitting in just regular old t-shirts, I decided I would participate this year.  I haven't done it in the past because, frankly, nothing would fit me.  I never said anything, but that's the truth.  Nothing ever fit me.  Oh, the shame and humiliation of something so simple.  A t-shirt that most people could just pick up in the store or that they would get for free somewhere only goes up to a certain size and then there's nothing beyond that, so that overweight person could never fit in, even if they really wanted to.  I had committed to myself that I am going to move forward in stopping my practice of wearing clothes that are way too big on me because it's a more comfortable thing for me to do than wear something that actually fits. I'm in this place that things don't fit because I'm losing a lot of weight, but I mean stopping the practice of buying new things that are way too big to begin with.  Yet, when I was getting dressed this morning, I really had a hard time being comfortable in a shirt that actually fits me versus one I am swimming in.  All I wanted to do was pull at it and make it stretch out.  I decided, though, that I would be brave and get over myself.  The only problem was that I was being overly critical of my body.  I was focusing on every imperfection, or what I deemed to be an imperfection in my mind, and just had a hard time being okay with looking at myself in the mirror.  Here's what I wore.

That's a plain old XL t-shirt, not the 4X I used to sport.  Just for the sake of seeing where I no longer am, here I am side by side with a pic I've posted before of me eight years ago.

To a normal person (i.e. not me), the difference is obvious when looking at my body.  If I didn't recognize it in my mirror, all I had to do was listen to people who saw me today.  A lot of people commented on how good they thought I looked.
"You look amazing!"
"Oh my gosh, Miss B, you look incredible!"
"Look at how little you are!"
Those were actual comments people shared with me today.  And it wasn't just a few people either, it was all freaking day long.  I'm not complaining, just saying these were not isolated incidents.  So why, good Lord why, am I my own worst critic?  I don't want to be that way.  Even when I was in class tonight and we were doing some group work, I sat there and compared myself to people in my group.  I compared my legs to theirs, even my wrists to theirs.  My wrists?  Seriously??  I was actually shocked when I saw that I was smaller than several of the people sitting around me. 
I need to out my thoughts about myself right here on this blog because it's important that I am honest about how I'm feeling.  These are the very things that would lead me going to the kitchen and grabbing something to eat.  It starts with a piece of something healthy, then two pieces and pretty soon I'm back in the addiction of the food.  If I focus on that, then I don't have to deal with any fears I have about someday being a normal body size, even if that's the very thing keeping me from realizing I'm on the road to that now.  I have no idea if this is making any sort of sense to people reading this, but I think maybe you do understand. 
I am changing.  Scratch that, I've already changed.  Just the fact that I'm willing to explore a place of uncomfortability is huge for me.  I have hidden my entire life behind the weight for one reason or another and I don't want to spend another minute doing that any longer.  I deserve so much better than that.  As hard as this is sometimes, it is such a better place I find myself in now.  I am committed to continue working on letting go of the notion that I have to be perfect.   I don't expect that of other people, so why are the rules different for me?  They're not!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Weekly weigh-in, my new addiction and just stuff!

It feels like I've had a very busy past few days but then I got reminded ... it's only Monday.  Okay, that was a mildly depressing realization!  I spent a good majority of my day testifying in a deposition for my worker's comp injury.  As un-fun as that sounds, and trust me it was, it was far less painful than I had imagined it in my mind to be.  I was a nervous wreck on the drive down to the attorney's office and I started crying in the car.  Why?  I just don't know.  I think it was the overwhelming emotions surrounding the physical pain I have been enduring, the fear of being "attacked" during the time I was to give my testimony based on what other people were telling me and, ultimately, just being present enough to feel the emotions instead of going to food to cover up all of my feelings.  But, like the grown-up I think I am most of the time, I faced all those fears.  After I was done, though, life still went on. 

I decided that because I had a lot of studying to do tonight and I am still having an adverse reaction to some new medication I was given at the end of last week that I was going to skip my Optifast class tonight.  I'm pretty good about attending most of my sessions, so I felt okay with that decision.  I did stop by and did my weigh-in, as well as picked up this week's stash of product.  Unfortunately, I gained a half pound this week.  Boo.  Yeah, okay, I was pouting a little.  But I'm not terribly surprised.  Don't worry, I didn't have anything to eat, stuck to my program like a trooper, but I also didn't exercise near as much as I would have liked and I was majorly stressed out this last week.  So, okay, I'm not perfect and the scale doesn't always want to listen to my rationalizations.  It's just a reminder to me that I have to always, always take care of myself, no matter what is going on.

To that end, a couple of us at work have been talking about starting to walk during our lunch when the weather cools down a little bit.  It's still crazy hot right now, but our plan was to walk during the period after our students have finished their lunch and are back in class.  So, fellow co-workers, get ready and think about bringing in your walking shoes soon.  I am committed to doing this.  Not walking so fast that we get sweaty for the rest of the day, but just getting out, getting some exercise and de-stressing.  If anything, just to see daylight!  Let's face it, we can all use less stress, no matter what our profession is.  Maybe we can start this next week or the week after, depending on our weather.  And if you don't work with me, maybe you're a reader on the other side of the country, think about doing this at your own workplace.  Even if it's with just one other person, what a great way to take good care of yourself.

Last on my list to write about tonight is my new addiction.  It's actually not as ominous as it sounds, so don't worry about needing to do some sort of intervention on me, but I have picked up a new addiction that actually is a good thing for me.  As a person who blogs, I have gotten in the habit of reading other blogs.  Not just of people who are doing Optifast, but people who talk about their own weight loss using other methods, healthy living blogs and even sites that write about good recipes for the time when I am ready to transition back to food.  The only problem is that I just don't have the time to go to each and every blog that interests me daily.  I wish I did!  I am committed to doing that with my fellow Optifasters, like Melissa, Sara and Tessa (among others).  For the others, I have signed up to be a "follower" via e-mail.  So each time a person posts on their blog, I get a copy of their writing sent to me on my smartphone.  So when I have a few moments, I can read what they've written.  If I want to look at their blog or make a comment, a link on my phone sends me to their webpage.  If not, their text in an e-mail works, too.  It's really a nice way to get doses of support in those hidden moments, like when I'm waiting for a class to start or just relaxing for a few minutes before I pop open a textbook.  You guys can do that for my posts, too.  I have a link to sign up to be an e-mail follower somewhere near the top of my blog.  Anywhoo, that's it for now.  Back to studying.  Joy!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Making the choice to be brave

When I think of acts of courage, I think of firefighters running into a towering inferno to save strangers from certain death or a veteran of war learning to walk on new legs after losing his in battle. I have never considered the fact that I could be among people classified as one of the brave ones. Yet I realize that my story, while different, is one that is full of the sort of bravery I never knew I possessed.  To walk away from a life of obesity into one full of unknowns at every turn really scares me to no end, yet it requires incredible valor and boldness.  I am walking away from comfort, albeit false comfort, but I am walking away.  I have the support of an army, though.  An army of people who care for me more than they could ever say, whether they are strangers or people who know me well.  They pray for me and they encourage me.  Sometimes they understand the struggles I have been through, sometimes they don't.  To each and every one of you, I want to say thank you.  I hope I have the courage to tell you this in person because not every moment of this journey has been or continues to be easy.  It may look easy for me on the surface because, hey, all I'm doing is drinking shakes, right? 

Anyone who is doing the same type of program knows it is far more difficult than it looks.  I have been one of the fortunate ones who has been able to not cheat or deviate.  That doesn't mean I have some hidden source of willpower being dispensed to me.  It means I hit my bottom and I was willing to do anything I was told to do by the medical staff overseeing my weight loss.  I also knew there would be a lot of emotional work I would need to do as well, which is just as important. Sure, I am compliant with following the program and getting lots of physical exercise in, but there is a mound of work to be done that no one can see.  I have to face things head on that I have run away from my entire life if I ever have hope of walking away from the crutch of food.  I have to develop new habits, new ways of thinking and embracing life differently.  So while it may seem easy and many people ask me how on this earth I am managing this, the truth is I just don't know the secret.  What I do know is that I am making the choice to be brave.  I am making the choice to hold God's hand as I walk forward into a world that I know absolutely nothing about.  If you're reading this and struggling with walking into that world, too, just know that you are much braver than you give yourself credit for.  Continue to be courageous.  Put down the food and let go.  Someone will be there to catch you.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

She cried when she saw me

I haven't seen my mom in about a month or so.  She's just been busy, or I have, and our schedules just haven't jived.  When she walked into my house this afternoon, her first words to me, in her Filipino accent, were, "Oh my god, Kath ..."  At first I thought it was her reacting to what I was wearing - dark gray sweat pants with the words Old Navy in pink sewn in on the side of the left leg and a black tank top.  It was revealing my arms in all their glory and I was a little self-conscious of that, I must admit.  Her reaction was not about that, though.  It was about how small I've gotten.  She started to cry.  I knew they were tears of a mother, having wanted this for such a long time, for her little girl.  It has always pained her to see me heavier and I know she just wants me to be healthy and happy.  She told me that I'm beautiful and I have to say I felt so loved in that moment, from a mother who couldn't always show it or had a hard time expressing herself.  Our relationship hasn't always been easy, but we've both grown so much, especially over the last few years.  These are moments as I go through this process that I won't forget. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Staring at my old clothes

One of the really great things I have gotten to celebrate in my journey to being healthier is that I am eight sizes down from my top weight.  That's a huge blessing to me.  I never thought I'd see the day when I would actually fit into the size of clothes that I do now.  As difficult as this is for me to do, it's now time for me to let go of those bigger sized clothes and get them out of my house.  You're probably wondering why I say "difficult".  After all, wouldn't it be a really good thing to let pants go that fall right off my hips or shirts that I swim in?  Yes, of course it would.  Down deep, though, there is a sense of security hanging onto things that don't fit anymore.  If I get rid of those clothes, in a sense it's like getting rid of a part of me.  I don't have any intention of fitting into those sizes again but there is a lot of history there.  I have things that bring back memories, some joyous and some painful.  I have skirts that I didn't have hope of squeezing into that now are huge on me and pants that brought a smile to my face as I could zip them up again.  Then there is the pain of not being able to wear much because nothing fit me, having gone up and up in sizes, with more emotional pain brought on by bigger sizes on the tag.  There's a sense of security in those items in a way.  Letting go of them means I am letting go of the past me.  The truth is that I want to let go now.  I have no business trying on clothes that don't fit me any more, which is what I sometimes do.  The thing is that I don't see what the rest of you probably see when you look at me.  You see a person who has lost about half of her body size and I see myself somewhere between where I was and where I am now.  I don't completely see myself at 417 pounds, that's true, but I have no accurate conception of the body looking back at me in the mirror today.  By hanging onto these sizes, I stay safely in that world, unable somehow to move on from here.  Yet, I know it's time to let go.  Just writing this out makes it incredibly clear to me ... I need to let go.

So what should I do with my clothes?  I have boxes and boxes of this stuff.  Should I donate them to the Salvation Army or some other charity?  I itemize my taxes so I could get a tax deduction for them and I know they'll come to the house to pick everything up.  Should I sell them on E-bay?  That seems like a lot of work, but it might be worth it to make a few bucks.  Or should I just drop them off at a donation bin and be done with it already?  Tell me what you think.  It feels so clear to me that I need to not hang onto them any longer, but I just can't seem to make a decision on getting rid of them. 

Taking care of myself is about letting go of shame

Yesterday I had two doctor's appointments, one to deal with my back issue and the other for an ongoing work injury.  The way things were before when I was at my heaviest, I would have just suffered through the pain and not gone to see doctors.  Part of the reason for that is I feared another doctor saying to me, "If you just lose some weight, then ..."  Yes, I know, if I lost a little weight, I wouldn't be having these problems.  If I lost a little weight, then I would feel better.  If I lost a little weight, the world would be a cheerier place for me.   Something to that effect, right doctor?  I promise you that this is not said out of resentment at all.  In fact, most of the doctors I have seen are compassionate and very caring towards me.  There have been a couple over the years that acted as though I had some sort of contagious disease they would catch if they dare touch my body with all the weight on it.  Those moments are difficult because they are the doctors that get etched in the brain of someone that doesn't want to see a doctor in the first place, not the kind ones.  It's unfortunate that I have chosen to remember those people the most.

For my back, I will be continuing physical therapy and seeing a specialist.  It's sort of comical in an ironic sort of way because after all of this weight loss, you'd think my back would feel better.  It does in a sense since exercising and movement does give me some relief, but the moment I stop, pain returns.  This helps me realize, though, it's not just about the weight.  I always attributed any sort of pain I was having to the weight.  Yet, there might actually be deeper issues there.  The sort of pain I feel is something I would have eaten my way through to make myself feel better.  Having my hand in a bag of chips while sitting on the couch watching something mindless on TV would somehow be my solution to dealing with the discomfort.  Yet I know that it was not about dealing with any sort of discomfort, it was about not being present and ultimately not taking good care of myself.  Chips don't take anything away, they just add to the problem.  When I'm done with the chips, what comes next? 

Then there's the injury in my hands.  That has been highly stressful to deal with.  You don't realize, until you have such pain, how vital your hands are to your life.  It can be anything from the work you do, writing something on a piece of paper or just simple little enjoyments in life.  A few weeks ago, I visited with a friend who gave birth to an adorable little girl during the summer.  Oh my gosh, all I wanted to do was pick up this soft, squishy, precious bundle of joy and hold her in my arms.  But I can't ... the pain would be too immense.  There are pleasures that I just can't participate in because of the pain, but I am also doing things to see if it can get better.  When I went to see the doctor yesterday, it took everything in me to hold it together and not cry as I was telling him about my pain level, almost desperate for him to wave his magic wand at me and, poof, make it all better.  Wouldn't that be awesome?  He did end up injecting a couple of shots into my arm and gave me a prescription for four different medications we haven't tried before to see if it helps. 

It was difficult for me to accept all of this medication because, as you may have recall reading from previous posts, I have been taken off all of my prescribed medication.  Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol ... all gone.  Thank you, God, for that.  In fact, when I was getting checked in for the back injury doctor, the nurse asked me if I had always had low blood pressure - 100 over 63 - and I just smiled back at him and told him about the fact that, actually, I was on high blood pressure meds and was taken off because of all the weight loss.  That led to a great, uplifting conversation about the road I have traveled to get here.  Anyway, I digress (I tend to do that at times). 

When the doctor injected the shots into my arm, I was just praying for some relief.  There was no warning of side effects from him and the pills that he gave me didn't include any paperwork to say what they were about.  So, last night, when I was checking my blood sugar before I went to bed, which is something I normally do, it read 163.  I checked it again, thinking I must have done something wrong, and it read 150.  Of course I didn't have anything to eat since I'm on the shakes, so there was nothing out of the ordinary to cause the spike.  Normally I would have not been alarmed but when my bedtime readings these days have been about 75-80, it was concerning.  I did find some insulin in the fridge and took a few units just to ensure it didn't go higher in the middle of the night.  Then when I woke up this morning, it was 110.  Okay, much better.  I went about my day at work and then I started feeling very peculiar.  When I was talking to some friends, they even noticed it and said something was different, like I was just out of it and almost slurring my words.  Luckily, with the help of others, I was able to borrow a friend's blood sugar meter and checked again a couple more times and it was within the normal range.  Whew, what a relief.  I did call the medical office at the Optifast clinic and talked to them about the shots and meds the doctor gave me, just to ensure it was okay to take with the shakes.  The nurse practitioner explained to me what all the medication was.  Turns out one of the shots was a steroid and, yes, it would raise my blood sugar.  That would have been nice to know when the doctor was injecting it into my system.  The nurse practitioner wasn't concerned at all with the reading I had last night since it wasn't something like 300 but she understood my concerns because it was literally twice the level my body was used to.  Later in the afternoon, I felt better, but then I started to feel really bad just as I was leaving the office.

I headed out to my car and felt drained, very groggy and still hurting from the injections.  I could barely keep my eyes open.  I live about 45 minutes away from work, so it was a desperate drive just to make it home.  Why is it people drive like turtles when all you want is to put the pedal to the medal?? I did make it into the house, feeling dizzy and like I might pass out.  I went into the kitchen, looked at the bottles of meds and tried to see if there was anything listed on the label before I attempted to go online and figure out what was in these things for myself.  One of the bottles had an instruction label covering the one underneath but the line I could read started off with, "May cause d..."  May cause drowsiness, perhaps?  No shit, Shirlock!  I fumbled into my bed.  That was seven hours ago and now I'm up in the middle of the night.  My poor body, just going through the ringer these days.

Given all of these things going on, it really is an amazing gift from God that I am still able to walk through and not go to the food to make myself feel better.  I was a grazer, just picking up things to eat mindlessly and never having a conception of what I was doing.  And then there were other times where I was very much aware but couldn't stop, even if I wanted to.  When I was in a different group in my efforts to lose weight, before Optifast, this man would talk about crying as he was eating a half gallon of ice cream right out of the carton, not able to push away from it.  There is so much shame in that.  I so badly wanted to stop what I was doing and have a different kind of life, but I was caught in this web that I couldn't break out of.  Food was my savior and my killer, all at the same time.  When people ask me how much weight I've lost, sometimes they will ask me where I started. Generally these are people that are not strangers to me, but know me pretty well.  I remember the day my mother finally asked me how much my starting weight was after I had lost about 100 pounds. I told her, "Mom, you don't want to know."  I had a huge lump in my throat as I told her that.  Yes, I wasn't at that weight any longer, but oh man the shame was intense inside of me.  Would she think differently if she knew the truth?  Would everybody?  She told me she loved me and wasn't going to judge me, but she did want to know.  As I told her that it was 417 pounds, I wanted to cry.  I looked at her and she had tears in her eyes.  I can't imagine the pain she felt inside when her child, even at 40 years old, became honest about the pain she was in.  No matter what she's done to me in the past, I was ultimately the one to go to food to seek comfort.  Yes, she treated me in a deplorable way when I was younger, but food was the comforter I ran to make my world a better one.

As I move farther away from that weight, I am slowly letting go of that past and, ultimately, of that shame.  I ache for that Kathy that couldn't break away from the addiction of the food, yet I also celebrate this one right now.  Today I don't have to feel that shame.  I recently have shared this blog with some people in my life who have been incredibly supportive of my journey (hellooo new readers and friends!).  I knew it was a brave thing for me to do because not only do I just spill out my guts and tell you the honest truth here, but my weight is actually posted prominently.  It's one thing to tell you this is such an emotional journey, but it's another to tell you how much I freakin weighed!  That's akin to telling my age, which I do a lot, too.  Ha ha, I don't think I have a filter any longer ;-) 

The support I have gotten from others means so much, some traveling the same path and others cheering as I go along.  I can't even begin to describe how wonderful it is to hear positive comments, to get a hug or even just a smile that says so much.  I am so incredibly blessed to work where I do, to have the people in my corner that I do and to be able to share myself with so many others that I consider to be friends.  In fact, there is not one person in my life who has looked down on me because of the path I have chosen to take off the weight.  Don't get me wrong, that hasn't always been the case.  It's just that they have seen the change that has come over me and they know something very special is happening right before their eyes.  No, I don't need to hang onto shame any longer.  I can embrace the lovely place I am in now and keep walking with courage towards the next step, wherever that may lead me.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Feeling full on Optifast

When I first started Optifast, I remember very well that feeling of being hungry, even an hour or so after having a shake.  Oh my gosh, I wondered if I would ever get into ketosis and not feel like I was absolutely famished.  I wrote about that hunger feeling here, knowing I had to push through the uncomfortable part since the clinic gave us plenty of warning.  They said, yes, the first few days are very hard, but it will get so much better.  When I decided to do this program in the first place, I was so desperate to get healthier that I was willing to do whatever the clinic said I was supposed to do.  I trusted them, given their success rates with thousands of people over many years.  I had to trust if I wanted to walk away from being a super morbidly obese woman.  And the desire I had to do that is beyond any words I could ever express here.  Let's just say that I have wanted nothing more in my life than that, which says quite a bit, given the things I've been through in my life.  It's just that being that heavy person hurt me more than just in a physical sense ... it crushed my spirit and the world is a better place with a happy Kathy in it.

Thankfully, I did eventually go into ketosis after about two weeks, although most people only take about three days.  What can I say ... if I'm going to do something, do it to an extreme!  I can honestly say that not only am I not hungry any longer, but I actually feel full.  It's a weird sensation because I just have my shakes and an optional 1-2 chicken broths each day.  That's it - no food that I chew outside of the once a month communion tablet I have with permission from the clinic.  (Don't be alarmed if you're not sure how the nutrition part of this program works - I get all of my daily nutrients if I have the minimum five shakes a day and I actually have six because of the diabetes.  I even take vitamins to seal the deal!)  I do prefer my shakes made in a blender with lots of ice so they end up frothy and almost chewy.  After seven months, I kid you not when I say I am full on Optifast.  There are so many people that see me blending my drinks in my handy-dandy little blender I have at work like the one on the left and tell me they never could do what I'm doing.  I didn't think I could seriously do this when I first got the idea in my head to go the Optifast route.  On the surface level, I had a lot of doubts with my ability to follow through with this because I had failed at so may attempts to lose weight before.  I had huge resolve, don't get me wrong, but I'd hardly last an entire week, sometimes even breaking it before the day was done.  Yet, down deep, I knew my faith would give me strength to move a mountain if that was my charge.  I knew I wasn't walking this alone, so I was willing to give it a try. 

I haven't always had such a strong faith, especially when it came to issues of my weight and being healthy.  In fact, I can honestly say that I was really so doubtful.  After living 40 years and finding myself at 417 pounds, having never been thin in my entire life, yes, I had doubts.  Yet, when you get to a place of desperation in your life and you're willing to do anything to not die because the weight is killing you with each passing day, slow but sure, you become very, very humble.  You get down on your knees and pray to God with tears in your eyes and a heavy heart.  That was me.  Now when I'm on my knees, it's from immense gratitude.  So, if you're reading this and you don't think you can do it, I'm here to tell you that it is possible.  Look at my progress pictures.  Look through to see where I've come from and where I am now.  It is possible, my friend

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Kathy, is that you?

When I returned from summer break last month, my office was switched to a new location a few doors down from where I was so sometimes people have a hard time finding me.  Today a woman who works at our district office, who I have known for a good 15 years or so, was visiting our campus to meet with a few students.  She generally pops in to say hello to me when she's there.  When she walked up to my office, I recognized her right away.  That wasn't the case for her, though.  She looked at me sitting at my desk with absolutely no recognition of who I was, even though I was smiling at her.  She backed up, looked at the signs on my door and nearby window that said my name, and then looked back at me as she walked in.

"Kathy, oh my goodness, is that you?"

"Hi!  Yes, it's me.  How are you?"

"Oh my gosh, look at you!!  How much weight have you lost?"

It kind of tickled me inside to see her reaction to me.  It had been a few months since she's seen me, so I forget how strikingly different I look to people that don't see me everyday.  She told me she literally didn't know who I was.  This from a person who has known me for 15 years.  That really struck me ... I have no conception of how different I must appear to other people.  When it gets to the point that people who know you well don't even recognize you, well that says a lot.  That's an important lesson for me to remember when my head gets in that space of insisting that I can't see the difference when I look in the mirror.  Sometimes I still see myself as I was.  I don't know if that's because I can't accept where I am now, if I have blinders on when it comes to my own body or what exactly the reason is.  What I am doing to take care of my health affects other people, too.

Speaking of taking care of my health, I received some great news from the lab work I had done at the clinic yesterday.  As is the practice for all Optifast patients that go through Kaiser, we have blood drawn every other week to ensure our levels are where they should be in all respects while on the program.  For me, since I'm diabetic, they will occasionally run other tests.  One of those tests that I had yesterday is called Hemoglobin A1C.  This test measures your average blood sugar numbers over the course of 2-3 months.  It's different than pricking your finger every day because those results can be skewed based on when you last had a shake, time of day or other factors.  So, they give the results to you in a percentage.  Look at my results.

Just to help you interpret what you're seeing, the line graph above shows results of all of my A1C tests over the course of the last two and a half years.  Prior to starting Optifast in February, all of my numbers were about 9.5% and higher.  For a person with diabetes, doctors want you to aim for around a 7%.  When I started the program, it took a while to wean me off the medication and insulin.  So my first A1C test after starting was done in April and that was 8.9%.  Then the last time they did it, it dropped to 6.7%.  As a point of reference, the normal range for a non-diabetic is a 6% or lower.  The results from yesterday have me at 5.9%.   Ladies and gents, that means that I'm normal! 

As a person who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes twelve years ago and has struggled the entire time to have normal blood sugar levels, this is absolutely huge.  Gigantic.  Enormous.  Really big.  If I never lost a pound doing this program, it would have been worth it just for these blood sugar results.  I remember when I was looking into getting the bypass done, before I considered Optifast, and my doctor was explaining to me that people with type 2 diabetes generally have normal numbers within a couple of weeks of having the surgery, if not right away.  I thought about that as some sort of incredible miracle.  At the time, I didn't realize it was possible to have those sorts of results without having surgery.  Later, when I had gone to see my doctor about doing this program, she did tell me that some patients completely reverse their diabetes.  And, for others, they are able to maintain normal numbers.  I never, not in my wildest dreams, imagined I could be one of those people for either scenario.  In fact, when I went to the medical office yesterday to check in with the nurse practitioner to give her my daily blood sugar numbers, she told me that I can see her every few weeks now since I'm normal.  This was something she said before we even received the results of the latest tests. 

When I am having rough days with the emotions that come with losing all this weight, it is a great reminder to me that this is the path I am absolutely supposed to be on.  This is exactly what I am talking about when I say I am working on taking care of my health.  It's not about what size my jeans are ... it's about being a person with normal blood sugar.  In essence, a non-diabetic.  Wow, just w-o-w!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

This week's Optifast class & my day

It's been a pretty long day for me and I still have some reading to do for my class tomorrow night, but first thing's first ... taking care of myself.  So here I am posting about how my day went because I need to keep journaling through this entire process.

Today I had a dentist appointment.  Here is another truth I'd never thought I'd tell anyone, but it's the secrets that cause me shame and embarrassment, ultimately leading me back to picking up food and I just don't want to do that.  I have an awesome, fabulous, terrific dentist.  But, I haven't been to see her in seven years.  Is it because I don't have insurance to cover the cost?  No, I have great insurance through the school district.  Is it because I thought she was going to cause me pain?  No again, she's very kind and gentle in her approach.  Then why wait so long?  At first, it was because I had moved and didn't get the reminder card they send.  Of course, at any point along the way, I could have picked up the phone and called to make another appointment.  Then, as time went on, I was embarrassed to be seen.  It's sort of the same reason I avoided the mirror.  I rationalized that if I didn't see the dentist, she couldn't tell me how I was damaging the enamel on my teeth or gums by the bad food choices I was making.  It was something I had built up in my mind that I dared not face the truth because it had to be just like I was envisioning it.  Thankfully, today's visit was good.  I did have some tartar build up from not brushing after every single Optifast shake I was taking (bad Kathy), but not a single cavity.  I did have a filling that somehow came loose.  I'm having that worked on next week but I practically floated out of there knowing I haven't personally done any damage that is irreplaceable.

Then later at my Optifast group, it was such a great time of good talking.  I opened up to the group about the struggles I have been having with the emotional part of this process.  I described feeling like a foreigner in a strange land where I don't speak the language.  Our counselor asked me a lot of great questions to get to the heart of what was going on.  When I talked to him about my desire to start dating again, but feeling unworthy, unattractive and all of those feelings that I have bottled up inside of me about myself, I almost started crying as he shared his response with me.  It was gentle and he was listening, not just giving me a pat on the back and saying "Oh, it will be fine" that I tend to hear from some other people sometimes.  One of the things he said would be good for me to do, a little assignment for me, is he gave me the task of writing a short story, maybe even a novel.  My charge is to write a story about a girl or woman going to a strange land where they do things like put salad dressing on the side (weird) or measure their food (double-weird).  I then tell the story of this woman getting stronger and stronger as the tale develops, finally having her conquer her worries or feeling like a stranger in Skinnyville or whatever the name of the town is that she visits.  I thought that was an inventive and fun way for me to realize I am much stronger than I realize and then, in the end, things really will be okay.

I am grateful for the weight loss of three pounds I had this week, making my total now 182 pounds lost.  I am getting so close to my next mini-goal, which is to get to 209 pounds.  I'm currently at 235 pounds.  When I reach that number, I will literally be half the woman I was.  That's pretty surreal.  Then again, so is this place. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Following myself around Wal-Mart

I was at Wal-Mart earlier to pick up a few things I need since I generally don't have the extra time during the week.  My cart looks very different these days when I stroll through there.  I had a case of water, highlighters, some cleaning supplies and vitamins.  When I go there now, I get flashbacks on the way things used to be.  They have cheap food there, mostly the processed variety that made it really easy for me to make bad decisions.  Things like Pringles, frozen pizzas, sausages, potato salad, ice cream, donuts and a myriad of other foods found their way home with me after an excursion to Wally-Mart.  I'm not blaming them, it was me that bought those foods.  It's just that it was a very dangerous place for me to be, yet I was there a lot.

As I was in the water aisle, I spotted a woman who looked very similar to the way I looked before.  Or, at least, the way I envision how I looked before.  I smiled as she walked past me, but I couldn't stop looking at her as she continued to walk away.  She was significantly obese and looked to be in considerable pain as she went down the aisle.  I noticed she wore flip-flops and had swollen ankles, just like I used to.  I sort of snapped myself out of the trance and went about picking up what I needed, only to spot her again.  I walked towards her and, pretty soon, I found myself following her to the next aisle.  Why?  Lord only knows.  I promise you, I am not a stalker!  The resemblance to me was striking, although she probably didn't look that much like I used to but there was something drawing me to her.  Then a few minutes later, when I went to check out, there she was again!  Okay, God, you've got my attention, but why?  As her things were being rung up, I noticed her items were very similar to what I used to buy.  She was breathing heavy and looked to be very uncomfortable.  I felt tremendous empathy for her because I remember that place all too well.  All you want to do is get the hell out of there with your stuff, go to the privacy of your own home, only to be stopped by a very slow cashier.  Here are some pictures of me that I have never posted on here, looking my absolute heaviest.  I'll post them on my "Pics of Progress" page, too.  Forgive the big hair (it was the 90's ... what can I say??).

Me in my high school graduation pic at 17, told you the hair was big! 
19 years old

Compare me to the person standing next to me, 19 years old here, too

Wearing a sweater during the summer to cover myself, 20 years old

Feeling miserable, a very unhappy girl at 24 years old
At a friend's wedding, 32 years old

I am flooded lately with the way things used to be and I share these pics with all of you because this helps me to be honest.  I don't want to go back to that world, I can't go back there.  God bless her, but I am not that lady at Wal-Mart.  To be honest, I don't think I ever was.  Perhaps in the bodily sense, but I was never satisfied with that life.  Although I am not at goal weight yet, or even transitioning into maintenance, I am already taking action towards making healthy changes in my life in hopes of making them habitual.  One of the biggest things is that I have truly incorporated living a more physical life.  Yesterday I went hiking up and down a none-too-easy cliff.  Today I did about three and a half miles around a lake.  When I went shopping, I parked my car far from the entrance so that I could be in the habit of doing that over the long haul.  The magazines I subscribe to now are all about living a healthy lifestyle - Fitness, Shape, Women's Health. 
In fact, there's a book I'm reading now by Bob Harper (one of the trainers on the Biggest Loser) called The Skinny Rules:  The Simple, Nonnegotiable Principles for Getting to Thin.  It's not because I want to read it to learn how to take the weight off.  I think I'm doing that pretty well with Optifast and believe very strongly in the program.  This book is read for me now because I want to incorporate things into my lifestyle to keep the weight off.  I just love, love, love Bob and his very direct style.  There are some very striking things said in that book, like:
"You've got to divorce yourself from the past and
find a different way of living.  And you can never go back."
I can never go back.  That Wal-Mart lady today is a symbol to me of going back.  I pray for her and, at the same time, I pray for myself.  I pray I never forget what it felt like to live in that world and that I can literally be one bite away from that.  It all begins with that one decision to say, "Oh, screw it, I'm going to have that piece of _____.  After all, I've worked hard and I deserve it!"  It's true that I do work hard, but what I deserve it this.  Right here.  This is what I deserve.  That's not to say I am perfect, nor will I be with the food, but I also can't let that sort of thinking creep into my head.  Even though I am often times very scared of this place because it is so foreign to me, I am willing to learn the language and do the best I can to say I don't know all the answers but I'm willing to fall flat on my face to figure out what they are.  And someday, very soon, I'll stop falling.  Someday, very soon, I'll feel comfortable in this world I now find myself in, as well as the one in the future.