Thursday, November 29, 2012

Did five miles today

For years I didn't participate in a regular exercise program.  That doesn't mean that I didn't try, but I would always give up, thinking that my body just couldn't take it or that it was just simply too difficult.  And I knew the exercise was beneficial.  After all, doctors have been advising me on doing a regular exercise program for years because of all the benefits - weight loss, improved cardiovascular health, increased energy, etc.

Turns out they were right.  Hmm

Exercise is now a very regular part of my life today.  For the most part, I enjoy it.  There are times when I have to force myself into doing it because I just feel too tired or my body hurts too much from all the different issues I have going on.  Yet, I can say that it gives me so much more than any pill or other medical treatment can and has given me. I can't explain it, but it helps with my leg pain, back pain and just adding a ray of sunshine into my day.  Today I walked at lunch with a friend for 2.13 miles and then I did another 3 miles by myself later in the evening.  I wasn't planning on going to long today - usually 2-3 miles for the whole day is perfect for me in terms of working well with my Optifast weight loss program without overdoing it - but I was just in a lot of pain today and so the action of moving made me feel a whole lot better. 

I really am amazed at the difference in my life today versus not too many months ago.  I remember when I started the Optifast program at Kaiser ... I didn't even exercise for the first 4-6 weeks of the program because, primarily, I had planters fasciitis in one of my feet, leaving it in a very painful condition when I put weight on it.  After that healed, I began the slow effort of adding exercise into my life again.  It was maybe 15-20 minutes at first, a few blocks down the street before I got winded.  Now I am amazed that I can do something like five miles and not even bat an eyelash any longer.  These are the changes I wanted to happen when I embarked on this life-changing journey.  I just never imagined that they would be so seeped into my life, which is a really good thing. 

I'm so grateful to God that He has dealt with me with a sincere amount of heavenly patience as I have had to find a place for me that is comfortable.  And while the exercise is great, it's only one component in the entire picture of complete health.  But, just like the exercise, I need to attack those parts in pieces as well.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Drop the scissors Kathy

There are some drawbacks to doing a weight loss program, especially a liquid one like Optifast.  You always have to weigh the positives with the negatives.  One of my negatives is a subject not many women talk about ... hair loss.  My clinic did tell us that some of us will experience hair loss, but it is temporary and it will grow back eventually.  It turns out I'm one of those having to deal with it.  I'm not surprised, given the low calories and how fast I have been losing the weight.  A couple of months ago, I colored my hair, like I do every so often.  I never accounted for the fact that my hair is a different texture and thickness than I'm used to.  I left the product in for the regular time I usually did, but my hair didn't like that and started coming out in clumps.  In addition to hair I've already lost before the coloring incident, it has left quite a problem for me.  It's very noticeable, too.  So today, in a moment of pure insanity, I grabbed a pair of scissors and just lopped off my hair.  I just couldn't stand it another second.  I know in time I'll be "normal" again.  This negative of the program isn't enough to be a true negative, just an embarrassment that makes me feel self-conscious, especially as a woman. 

Other than that, I've been doing pretty well.  I didn't get any exercise in today, which is something I do on some level every day so it felt like something was missing.  Tomorrow, though, I'll be walking at lunch, I have an acupuncture appointment after work and then will hit the gym to workout in the evening.  I definitely look forward to the exercise ... my body is so thankful for the stretches and smaller frame.  It's such a switch to want to exercise when I did everything in my power to avoid it in the past.  It's amazing how different my life is today in comparison to even just a year ago.  Even with less hair on my head, it's all worth it, that's for sure!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Weekly weigh-in

I'm grateful to report that I lost 3 pounds this week.  I'm happy with that, especially given I was away from my regular routine since I had all last week off from work.  I do have to say that today was a bit of a struggle.  I just had these major cravings and I so badly wanted to snack.  When I first started Optifast back in February, the time when I was solely on the shakes seemed so easy in comparison to where I am now after being back from the month or so of having the lean meal added in to my program.  It's almost as if some sort of tiger was awakened because I've had to white-knuckle it through these cravings.  I know there are some emotions behind all of it because obviously if I did just the shakes before, I can and will do it again.

I started thinking today about the things that are going on that leave my emotions on the edge.  After talking with someone at work about it today (hi someone!), I realized there is a lot on my mind right now that could easily be reasons to go back to the comfort of food.  The time spent with my family during Thanksgiving was good, but I did feel isolated and left out of a lot because I wasn't eating food.  It was pretty difficult sitting amongst the gorge-fest, almost like I was a child being punished or ignored by adults.  Then, twice during the week, I saw two guys that could have been dead-ringers for my ex.  One was in a grocery store and the other one was driving a truck directly in front of me yesterday.  When I saw his reflection in his side view mirror, I could swear it was him, but it made no sense whatsoever.  It has been a year since we've been together ... why do I keep freakin thinking about this man that hurt me so badly?  My feelings for him are certainly different and I know that there's no place for him in my life, so it really bothers me that I still think about him.  Grrr.

The other thing that was on my mind today is actually a much bigger issue.  As I continue getting smaller, the fear I feel inside of being a normal body size grows bigger.  What do I fear exactly?  I couldn't begin to tell you because I don't know it myself.  I suppose it's the fear of the unknown.  I have never been a normal body size.  In fact, I'm already smaller now than I have ever been in my life.  As I get closer to a weight that starts with 100, I notice I'm getting anxious.  I want it to be here faster at the same time not wanting to be in a rush.  I just can't wrap my brain around a world where I'm not the biggest one in the room, where I can buy clothes in almost any store, where I feel healthy and not like a circus freak of some sort.  How in the world do I live in a body that feels like a stranger's body to me sometimes?  I guess this is one of those times in life where I just get to put one foot in front of the other and do the next indicated step, whatever that might be.  I know that everything will turn out just the way it is supposed to turn out, as long as I do my part.  I'm just sitting here admitting I'm feeling a little scared and that's got to be okay to admit.  I know it is for you guys, but sometimes for me it feels like I'm not allowed to say I'm scared.  A lot of people seem to put me on some sort of pedestal because of the large amount of weight I've lost.  I know that everyone supports me, but this idea of feeling like I need to be perfect is difficult to deal with.  Of course I don't need to be perfect, it's just what it feels like right now.  I know I'll get through this rough patch.  It's really not even a rough patch in the truest sense ... just a challenge, that's all.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Back to my normal life

I'm back home from vacation and I'm definitely glad to have my own bed again.  I enjoyed spending time with my family, but I also was ready to come home.  The whole time we were there was about eating food, preparing food or thinking about what to prepare for food.  Not for me ... for them.  For me it was about making choices, even during the holidays, to be in a healthier space.  I made sure to get in a good amount of exercise every day except for today when we were traveling back home.  I also stuck to my Optifast program.  It was difficult to do, but I knew I made the right decision for myself and my health.  The difficult part for me was that I felt left out in a lot of the activities going on.  They tried to include me, but I was the only one not eating, so it was uncomfortable for me and for them.  Even if I had decided to eat, would it just be the Thanksgiving meal or the other meals that were made?  For example, my mother, who is Filipino, made lumpia, shrimp, pancet, chicken adobo and white race yesterday for a feast at my brother's house.  Should I have picked that over the Thanksgiving meal?  Instead, I went to Vegas with a plan to celebrate being together and to count my blessings, but to stick to my plan of eating.  If I would have allowed myself the indulgence of what they were eating since there was really nothing healthy on the plates, it would have been license for me to go ahead and just throw caution to the wind.  I'm not saying that wasn't okay for other people to do who are also doing Optifast or similar weight loss programs ... it's just that for me, this was the decision I needed to make for my long term care.  I am an overeater and I don't kid myself that I get to indulge for one day or one weekend because who knows if I'll have the courage to get right back on track.  Lord knows I haven't been able to do that before.

When I got home from my trip, I had plans to take a nice hot shower since we left Vegas really early this morning to beat the traffic.  Unfortunately for me, there was not hot water in my house.  It was fine on Thanksgiving morning, but now there's nothing.  I reset the circuit breakers, checked the switches on the hot water heater, even turned up the temperature of the water.  So I resorted to taking a cold shower.  That was NOT a good thing to do, trust me on that one.  Thankfully I have a home warranty that I always renew every year (thank you God!) and I can take a shower at the gym if I can't find any other place to do it.  If you have a home warranty, please keep it up!  I have saved thousands of dollars in repairs by keeping mine current.  Since I bought my house, it's saved me almost $7,000.  I'd say it's worth it.  I don't want to deal with it, but I can't put my head in the sand wishing it would go away.  Part of being a grown up who owns her house I guess.  After a lovely week off, this was not the way I wanted to end it but oh well.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Don't be afraid to look in the mirror

Today I went out shopping with the mission of getting myself some tops that actually fit (instead of looking like a bum wearing clothes that are way too big on me).  I knew I was a bit crazy doing this on Black Friday, but, hey, when they have sales 50% off and more, a girl's gotta do what a girl's got to do. 

I ended up getting five tops for myself, but along the way I gained such a terrific insight to where I am today and not where I think I am.  What I mean by that is that I was able to look in the dressing room mirrors and really check out my body in the various things I was trying on.  I have been so critical of it lately, although I haven't said anything to anybody about this.  I just have found that I'm comparing myself against other people, even friends.  Of course, when you compare, you come out the big loser and so it's a dangerous thing to do for my ego and value as a person.  Why must I do that?

Today, though, I was able to sit in the moment and really see the girl looking back in the mirror.  I was able to see these amazing collar bones that  couldn't always see because they were hidden by fat.  I could see clothes fitting me well instead of my body busting out of buttons.  More importantly, I could look at my body and feel pride.   Normally I try to stay away from being prideful because I'm not a boastful person.  But I have a lot to be proud of.  I have lost a lot of weight, I mean a lot.  Of course you all know that because you've been following my journey, but I don't think I have always appreciated that.  I was just doing the next indicated step without really thinking about it.  But today I stopped and thought about it.  How is so much weight gone from my body and how could I not appreciate how special that is?  It really is and it's a gift that I appreciate more than I could ever say in my writing.  As I start nearing the point where I can start shopping in the regular section of a store, I can look in the mirror more and not fear that place.  It's a scary space for many overweight people, especially those that have had this battle for their entire lives.  I don't know how to walk in this world in a normal body size with a BMI in the healthy weight range.  But I also know I am willing to go there today, even when I still fear it.  Who knows, by the time I get there, I may not fear it any longer.

So my challenge for you is this:  look in the mirror.  Not in a critical way, but with love and appreciation for the journey you have been on this far and the one you have yet to travel.  Change is hard, but it can be very exciting and will be completely rewarding as long as you are present enough to appreciate every moment of blood, sweat and tears.

Day after Thanksgiving

Hello from Vegas!  It was a great Thanksgiving spent with friends and family.  I was fortunate to start my day out with doing the 5K Oceanside Turkey Trot.  Check out some pictures I snapped with my iPhone.
View near finish line taken as I was heading to the start line

Sara and me before our group started
Family we followed ... and then passed
Woo hoo, we did it and have medals to show for it

Afterwards, I picked my mom up and we started our drive over to Vegas.  It was horrible traffic getting out of the L.A. area.  After about an hour or two, I did ask my mom to drive.  I have been having a hard time getting sleep at night and was feeling super drowsy behind the wheel.  I was able to nap for a little bit of the way, which was part of what I needed to do to take care of myself.

Dinner was fine for me.  I had Optifast while everyone else ate turkey dinner.  Of course, everyone was stuffed beyond measure afterwards, having to practically unbutton everything.  I felt perfectly fine doing what I needed to do.  In fact, I felt great.  There is a part of me that felt left out in a way, but I also know that I can't eat food like that and hope to have a normal body size.  Perhaps in time I can learn to have this meal in a healthy way, but it wasn't something that was available.  My brother and sister-in-law make very high fat food.  Sure, the turkey would have been lean, but all the veggies had other stuff in them that made them unhealthy and so I felt good knowing my Optifast products are what I needed to do for me.  I was watching the news last night and they were saying that the average for a Thanksgiving meal is 3,000 calories.  Good Lord, 3,000 calories!  Truthfully, I would always eat more than average.  No, this is better for me.  I checked my blood sugar this morning, which is something I normally do even though I no longer have diabetes, and it was 94.  Perfect.

We have some shopping on tap today.  Even with all the clothes people have given me because all of my old ones are way too big on my body, I do need to pick up some tops.  I just don't have enough of those and I like them to be a little roomy.  So I think I might brave the crazy Black Friday shoppers.  Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Preparing to hit the road

As is my norm, I've procrastinated and now find myself scrambling a little preparing for my road trip tomorrow morning.  I'll be doing a turkey trot 5K in the morning, which I'm looking forward to doing with Sara.  But then right after that I'll be picking up my mom (thankfully she lives near the 5K) and then doing a 5 hour drive to Vegas to spend the holiday with my brother and his wife.  I'm definitely looking forward to it, but I wish I would have done some preparations sooner than now.  I'm washing laundry to throw in a suitcase and I still have to get things ready for my friend who is coming in to take care of my cats.  Breathe, Kathy, breathe!

I am grateful that at least I don't have to worry about food.  I will be on my full-fast Optifast 70 products during the holiday.  I know a lot of people who are going to go off of it for the day so that they can eat with their families.  I totally understand that and definitely don't sit in judgement of them at all but, for me, that month of being on the modified fast where I had one meal a day showed me I wasn't ready to be off the shakes.  I wish that wasn't the case because I was on the shakes for 8 months prior to doing the modified program.  Yet, there were times where that old familiar feeling of wanting to overeat for no good reason was with me.  Cravings came back and I did indulge a time or two.  It just showed me that I still have work to do.  The truth is that I have to let go of that life, as familiar and comfortable yet disasterous as it was and do things differently.  I can't go back there, I just can't.  Getting up to a top weight of 420 pounds is not something that is going to miraculously go away in a few months of being on Optifast and I totally get that.  It takes work and a lot of effort.  I have started journaling again, which has been great for me, and I will continue exploring not only the reasons why I may have/do want to overeat and also divorcing myself from that life so that I can have a better one.  I don't want to be fighting with the food for the rest of my life, that's for sure.  I have already done a lot towards being healthier, like exercising.  I do it practically every day and I have come to love it, honestly.  I wouldn't have always said that before.  I am also learning to appreciate the body I have now, knowing it's a work in progress, but that there definitely IS progress. 

So ... happy Thanksgiving to everyone.  May you appreciate the time you will be able to spend with your family, friends and yourself.  Take a moment to count your blessings.  We all definitely have a lot to be grateful for in our lives. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Weekly Weigh-in

I had a pretty shocking weigh-in tonight:  I have lost 15 pounds this week since last Monday.  Say what??  Obviously that medication I was on before was the culprit.  That, and changing the Optifast product from 800 to 70 really made a difference.  I completely get that there was probably a vast amount of water weight, but to lose 15 pounds in one week after 41 weeks is pretty awesome and I'll gladly take it!

I did make it over to the gym today.  I did 40 minutes on the treadmill and 20 minutes on a recumbent bike.  I had to purposely take it slower because my competitiveness came out.  When I was on the treadmill, I so badly wanted to start running.  I just felt so compelled, but I know I can't, not with osteoarthritis in both of my knees.  I did jack up the incline, though, so I could feel it on the backs of my legs and bootie.  And when I went over to the bike, I remembered what the physical therapist told me about pulling back and slowing down since I am also walking.  It took some big effort and self-control on my part not to go faster when I was already pumped up.  What I did notice was how much easier it was to use the bike than it used to be in days past.  When I was heavier, my tummy would get in the way.  Now it felt so easy and like I had so much room on my lap.  These are discoveries of having a smaller body and I guess they never get old!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I did it!

As is my usual practice on Sunday mornings, I met up with Sara and we went walking around Discovery Lake.  We did six laps around the course, which ended up being 4.3 miles.  I burned 801 calories.  Yay!  What's so amazing is that when she and I get together to walk every week, it never really feels like exercise because we chat as we go and we don't walk super fast.  Just a couple of girls talking, laughing and having fun while shrinking our booties at the same time.  If you want to get out and exercise and it feels too much like exercise, then do it with a friend.  I noticed we weren't the only ones out there with friends.  In fact, most people there were with other people.  After we were done, I committed to her that I was going to go and open that gym membership that I talked about yesterday before I went home so I wouldn't chicken out. 

Having just exercised and feeling all pumped up, I strolled into the gym and announced to Miss Peppy behind the counter that I'd like to join the gym please.  I felt like such a geek after the words came out of my mouth ... One gym membership, please!  There were no less than three people helping me fill out the paperwork.  Must have been a slow morning.  Their basic plan is $9.99/month, but their premium membership was just $10 more which then allows me to work out at any of their gyms, bring guests as many times as I would like, have unlimited access to massages, etc.  So I signed up for that one.  I looked around while they were processing everything and it was just everyday people, like me, working out there.  Older people, younger, married, single.  I wasn't intimidated in the least.  Funny how that is after how worked up I had gotten everything in my mind, isn't it?  I'm looking forward to hitting it tomorrow.  I texted Sara and told her I followed through.  I was pretty darn proud of myself.

There's something fun about a 5K
with people dressed up as turkeys!
On Thursday, before heading out to my brother's house in Vegas, I'm going to be participating in the Oceanside Turkey Trot 5K with Sara, her family and some of her Optifast peeps.  My mother dropped a bomb yesterday morning that we may need to leave for Vegas sooner in the morning and I pouted because that meant I wouldn't be able to participate.  My sister-in-law is having surgery the day before.  However, us leaving for Vegas just a few hours earlier is not going to change the fact that she needs to have surgery.  My mom wanted to help my brother cook the meal, even though he has friends that will be there.  I thought about it and this is one of those times in life I had to put my foot down.  First of all, I want to do the 5K.  I've been looking forward to doing it.  Secondly, exercise really helps with pain management for me because when I exercise, my body feels better.  Given we're going to be sitting in the car for five hours traveling to my brother's place, I want to feel as good as possible.  Besides, getting in physical activity is an important part of my life.  Third, and most importantly, we will not be able to prevent my sister-in-law from having to have surgery simply by being there sooner.  My brother has friends that live there that will be coming to the Thanksgiving feast who can help him with chopping celery and peeling potatoes.  In fact, he didn't ask my mom to come and help ... it was her idea to come sooner.  I get why she would want to, but our presence there sooner doesn't erase the reality of what's happening.  I'm the one that's driving and leaving after the 5K is over doesn't set us back timewise at all.  In fact, we'll probably get there the same time we usually do since the race is first thing in the morning.  After thinking about it, I told my mom that we'll leave when we orginally planned on doing so.  We're going to be there for four days afterall. I have got to take care of myself.  Is that being selfish?  I really don't think so because if my brother truly needed us, I would be there in a heartbeat. He knows that.  In fact, we texted each other today and he was perfectly fine with it, no worries at all.  When I told my mom, there was some silence on the phone.  Then she came back with, "But what if there's traffic on the road?"  I said to her, "Mother (she knows she's annoyed me when Mother comes out), when have we ever encountered traffic on the freeway on Thanksgiving??"  The truth is, no one is on the road on Thanksgiving.  One year there was an accident that caused a back-up, but normally there's nothing.  So I told her, no, we're leaving at the regular time.  Talk about putting my foot down ... I'm stomping my foot down!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Stepping out of my comfort zone

One of the things I wanted to get done today was to sign up for a new gym membership.  There's a local gym that costs just $10 a month for a membership and I had every intention of doing so, but something was leaving me stifled.  I used to belong to a bigger, more popular gym.  In fact, I used to work out there a lot before I bought my house.  I always ended up going with friends to work out.  Then I let my membership lapse.  However, after I bought the house, I thought it was time to rejoin at a center closer to me.  I did that, but hardly went, so I cancelled my membership.  I really believe part of the reason I didn't go much was that I was intimidated.  It's that stigma of thinking you'll be the biggest one there and people will judge you.  The truth is, I have always found that people really don't care and, if anything, they encourage you in your efforts in getting healthier.  However, I do feel uncomfortable at times because of both the men and women there.  Watching them work out sometimes makes me feel like I'm just not good enough.  I'm not a cute, petite little version of the women I see out in the world.  Even when I get down to my smallest size, I won't be that person.  Just my height alone - 5'9" - puts me in a different group of people.  I look at the women and compare myself to them.  Of course, there are all different body types and ages of people working out, but my mind goes to the younger ones, either at my age range or younger.  Every flaw I think I have gets magnified a million times in my mind when I compare.  Then I think of the men ... they definitely check out the women there, even if they do it in a casual way.  I know it's my own insecurity but I just don't feel like I measure up.  Yes, I know that health and fitness is not about that.  I get that, completely.  But there's that part of my brain that is wired wrong because we live in a society where we are definitely judged by how we look.  Given that I'm single and got my heart broken in my last relationship, I'm more aware of being judged.  Sure, I know I'm not joining a gym because of any of these dynamics, but I'm just being honest.  There's a part of me that still feels like I'm the ugliest and biggest one in the room.  That is going to take me time to move past.

The other side of this is why I want to join the gym.  I need to use the recumbent bike to build strength in my legs.  Given the osteoarthritis in both of them, I can't be running for exercise or other things that are unhealthy for me.  In addition, I want to work on the machines for my legs, as well as building muscle in my core to help with my back pain and fibromyalgia and to tone my arms.  I do walk 5-7 days a week, so the exercises I would do at the gym wouldn't be every day and certainly not as intense since I don't want to go crazy with overexercising.  But I need to do this for my overall continued progress towards good health.

This is not about other people, this is about me.   It's important for me to feel strong, both physically and mentally.  Once I go a couple of times, I know that the things that are intimidating me in my head will not be as important as they seem to be right now.  I saw a post on Twitter today where someone put a challenge out there to "list five things you like about your body".  Egads, that seems like an impossible list to make.  That's precisely why I need to get over myself and get my booty to the gym.  If it is something I'm avoiding, there's a reason and it's my responsibility to myself not to shy away from it. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Putting myself at the top of the list

I really don't consider myself to be a selfish person.  I'm always willing to help the kids at the high school where I work, I'm a good friend to other people and my family knows that I will always be there for them.  That's just my nature ... caring and nurturing.  The only problem with that has been that taking care of myself has always been last.  When you're in an airplane and they're going through the emergency procedures, what do they always say about oxygen masks?  Something to the effect that if the cabin loses pressure, the oxygen masks will come down.  If you're with a child, secure your mask first and then do so for the child.  And why is that?  Simple ... you can't help someone else if you're dying yourself!  Yet, why is it that I am the last one that I have paid attention to my whole life?  That's a good question and one that I really need to ponder.  Self-care is not about being selfish.  In order to be completely present in this world, I must take care of myself first.  So that's what I did today.

It was the Friday before a week off of work for Thanksgiving and a lot of people were absent at work.  Of course, that always seems to be the way before a long break.  But I had a physical therapy appointment that got scheduled today and it was her only opening.  Of course administration was perfectly fine with it because I let them know in plenty of time and, besides, they have been super supportive of me seeking medical care as I need it.  I am a good employee and work hard, so they know I'm not taking advantage.  After I went walking at lunchtime with my friend, which we do every day, off I went to my physical therapy appointment.

The physical therapist has been working on the pain in my back, so now we're adding working on building strength in my legs, too.  I caught her up to speed on the osteoarthritis in both knees and fibromyalgia diagnosis so that she could adjust what she is doing with me.  She wanted to see my range of motion and look at my legs while I was walking, so she told me I was going to need to put on shorts since I was wearing jeans that covered me up.  I thought, Oh no, here we go again.  If you've been reading my blog for a while, you may recall that months ago I had to get a MRI and was told to change into scrubs but they didn't fit me.  My first thought was, geez, the shorts aren't going to fit, especially when she gave me a pair that had a label that said "large" on it.  I don't recall ever, in my entire life, fitting into just a large ... it's always been XL, 1X, 2X, etc.  I slipped off my shoes, took off my jeans and held my breath as I climbed into the shorts.  And do you know what?  They fit!  Not only that, they were actually too big.  Maybe that large runs big, but whatever - it made me feel good.  So the physical therapist did her examination of me and talked to me about exercises for my legs.  Then I asked her what exercise would be good for me to do everyday in addition to the stretching exercises.  She said the best thing would be an exercise bike or swimming.  I shared with her that I walk every day and she said that's good, as long as it doesn't hurt me more.  In fact, because I already spend the time walking, I can have little to no resistance when using the bike but it would be good for me to do it since it'll build muscle.  I don't have a bike at home, so I'm planning on joining a local gym tomorrow.  I've actually been thinking about it for a while since it's only $10 a month for a membership at this particular gym.  I want to increase my strength training, especially around my legs, but I also don't want to go crazy with the exercise.  If I limit myself at the gym, that'll help tremendously.  I am definitely putting my all in taking care of my body now, so I'm willing to do what I need to do to remain healthier.

Don't worry, it doesn't hurt at all.
If the walking and physical therapy wasn't enough, I also had an appointment with my acupuncturist later in the evening.  I always look forward to going, it's so soothing.  We focused in on my legs today since that's where most of the pain was concentrated, with a few spots on my arms, forehead and ankles as well.  She stuck the needles in me, turned on soothing music and left me to relax as much as possible on the table.  It's funny, every time I go, I end up having some great prayer time with God, where I just close my eyes and pray not specifically seeking answers but expressing what's in my heart as I lie there vulnerable underneath the needles. Today I prayed for continued healing, not only from the pain in my body but from the pain of battling weight my entire life and the emotions that come with that.  Dealing with why you choose food to deal with stress, boredom, unresolved feelings or just living life through food is difficult and I find that it is completely challenging.  Will I always feel like the food is calling my name or will I someday have a normal existence when it comes to it?  It has always been an escape from my feelings for me. 

Feeling angry?  Food's the answer! 
Feeling happy?  Food can be a way to celebrate.
Feeling anxious?  Food will calm your nerves. 

Developing new habits, even the healthy ones, takes time.  I have to constantly remind myself of that because I like things now.  I don't want to wait, yet I'm seeing that sometimes I just don't have a say in the matter.  That sucks, but okay, okay, it's what I have to do. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Reflecting and letting go

I've done a lot of reflecting the last couple days about the medication weight gain.  I still don't understand what happened, but I have let go of blaming myself for this.  Even in my worst moments and at my heaviest weight, I never had gained that much weight so quickly.  So, even if I had a part in this, that might account for 5 pounds or so, if anything.  I do now accept that the gain was from the side effects of meds.  Thankfully I'm not taking them any longer and taking something else instead.  One of my friends today asked me why this happened with the meds.  Frankly, I don't know.  Normally I would want to know why in circumstances like these ... except for this time.  The truth is that I can't go back and change the outcome, even if I had the knowledge of why.  All I can do is pick myself, dust myself off and keep moving forward.  And that's exactly what I have done.  Things are going great being back on the Optifast 70 product.  I am weighing myself on my scale at home again, not because I'm obsessing about the number (which I'm not), but because I need to know that I'm headed in the right direction, even with possible fluctuations from day to day.  Something is working because I'm already down 7 pounds from Monday alone and it's now Wednesday.  I'm sure that's a lot of water weight, but whatever - I'll take it!

Now what I want to focus in on is spending more time working on the emotional issues surrounding putting on the weight in the first place and what kept me there for so long.  The cravings I experienced when I was back on the once-daily lean meal was not a comfy feeling at all, so I need to work on developing better ways of dealing with stressful, frustrating or unexplained feelings as they pop up.  I don't want to spend my life always fighting with the food.  This is all about letting go as well.  I will let go of the control and let God take care of the things He needs to.  I get to step out of the way and do the next indicated thing.  That's so much easier said than done, but I'm working on it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Checking in

Hi everyone.  I am exhausted today, but I did want to do just a quick little check-in before I go to sleep for the night.  I had a much better day and am grateful for all the people who contacted me sharing their stories with me.  While it seems crazy to have gained that much weight so quickly in the last two weeks, it's a relief to know it's happened to others. Not that we want that to happen to someone, but it's nice to have an explanation.  Onward!

Weekly weigh-in

I am a mix of a lot of emotions tonight as I type this.  To say I am upset and confused is the understatement of the year.  I missed my weekly weigh-in last Monday, so I didn't have my official weight for two weeks.  Tonight I found out that, in that time, I have gained 30 pounds.

Yes, you absolutely read that right.  In just a matter of two weeks, I have gained 30 pounds.  If you'll recall, a couple of doctors had prescribed me with medication to manage the pain associated with osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, tendonitis of the wrist and fatigue that I am experiencing.  Three of the meds had a lovely little side effect of weight gain.  In fact, the neurologist was very clear with me that the pill she was prescribing would cause weight gain.  But I thought to myself, "How much weight gain can we possibly be talking about here?"  One of the other meds that I am taking right now has the potential for weight gain as well, but it should only be temporary.  Thankfully I'm not taking all of the meds right now since the newest pill replaces some of the others.  Regardless, though, I'm dealing with this horrid weight gain and the awful feelings that come with it.

I wondered to myself if I somehow screwed it up by eating the wrong kind of food when I would have my one meal (in addition to the Optifast shakes) each day.  No, that one meal did not consist of a gallon of ice cream, cookies, cakes, pies and the other foods that I wished it had.  I had myself convinced that I was the cause of this weight gain and I had no one to blame but myself.  Even though, as I sat there and thought about it, I have never, ever gained that much weight so quickly simply by eating too much good food.  Good God, 30 damn pounds.  I knew my clothes were feeling more snug and I just had a feeling something wasn't quite right.  In fact, before I even knew what my new weight was, I went into the medical office at the Kaiser clinic that I go to for Optifast and told them I would like to discuss going back on the full-fast.  The reason I had gone to the modified fast with the daily meal was because I was feeling weakness in my legs and lightheadedness, so it was felt that it would be helpful to add in more calories just to ensure nothing was wrong nutritionally.  Since we now know the reasons for the weak feeling in my legs, I wanted to go back to the full fast to increase my weight loss, even though I continue to have the light headedness.

After discussing it with the medical staff, I made the decision to return to the Optifast 70 product line instead of 800, which means that I will just be having those shakes and not including the lean meal.  Since I do exercise at least five days a week as much as possible for about an hour or so, they wanted me to return to taking six shakes instead of the typical five that most patients have.  I have to admit that there was a sense of relief that I was going back to just having the shakes.  Being on the food for just one meal a day for an extended period of time honestly was pretty difficult for me.  The cravings returned and a lot of issues that were centered around food before seemed to come back with a vengeance.  Now, I know this is by no means an escape from the reality of food temptations in life.  What it will do, however, is give me more time to work on those issues in greater detail.  I also need to accept where I am right now and sit in those feelings.  If I had continued on the modified fast, I would be sticking my head in the sand and I don't want to do that to myself.

I must say that I am extremely grateful for the support I had in my class.  It's amazing how negative I was being in convincing myself that I caused this weight gain when everyone else in the class except for brilliant me (extreme sarcasm, just in case you missed it) understood that weight gain does come with medication, especially with the type of medication I am taking.  One of my classmates is studying to be a pharmacist, so he was able to speak on this topic, along with the group's counselor.  It was the end of my second 20-week session so we all went around and gave testimonials about how things have changed for us since being in the program.  Some are going on to maintenance while others are continuing on to the next class starting on Monday.  For me, it will be the third 20-week session, as is the case for some others as well.  As people gave their testimonials, each one of them expressed to me how much of an inspiration I have been and continue to be to them.  If I step out of my own way, even I can see how inspirational my story is.  The things I have overcome to get to this point are too numerous to mention right now, but I definitely feel like the poster child for resilience.

So, while I was very upset with the 30-pound gain, I am thrilled that I am back on the Optifast 70 product exclusively.  I will be checking in with the medical office at the clinic to let them know how I am doing.  And, as all of this sinks in, I will soon be able to forgive myself for immediately blaming the gain on something I think I did, even though that just isn't the case.  It's so much easier to blame other people or other situations rather than dealing with what's right in front of me.  I can honestly say all of this has really shot at my ego.  One of my first thoughts was that I can no longer claim that I have a 190-pound loss from Optifast ... now it has to be a 160-pound loss, at least for the time-being.  That's not to say that the second number is anything to be ashamed of because it sure as hell is not.  Vanity run amok I tell ya!!  As I have done from the very beginning of this journey, I am putting myself out there unreservedly and letting you all know that this is not easy.  I may smile when you see me, but my heart really is heavy right now with this revelation.  However, I will keep moving onward.  I look forward to seeing the next group that begins on Monday and I am especially looking forward to bravely moving into the next chapter.  I know in my heart that I will persevere through this, stronger than ever before.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Self-care is top on the list

Today we had something unusual happen in Southern California ... it rained! Yes, most of the time it is around 75 and very pleasant.  However, today it pretty much poured in the morning.  When it finally let up, I decided to go for a walk to get some exercise.  I went to Discovery Lake, which is the place that Sara and I go walking on Sunday mornings, which we will do tomorrow morning.  The course is about three quarters of a mile per lap with a lake in the center. I decided that I would do to six laps for a nice extended walk. In the middle of lap four, I experienced excruciating pain in my left knee.  I valiantly tried to shake it off so that I could finish all six laps, but it just wasn't meant to be for today.  That was frustrating for me because I really wanted to walk about 5 miles.  Since I have the recent diagnosis with all the medical staff going on, I have been really trying to make an effort to listen to my body when it is in pain. So, I stopped.  One of the things that was interesting on the walk was there was this woman coming in the opposite direction who was working very hard at doing her best.  She was about the size I was when I started and I smiled at her each time we passed one another, hoping to silently give her encouragement.  I know how hard it is to put yourself out there and how discouraging it can feel in the beginning.  It feels like climbing a huge mountain, but eventually you do get to the top.  That was also another factor in me stopping at lap four ... I didn't need to prove anything to anybody.

One of the things I have been thinking about is talking to my Optifast counselor about going back to the Optifast 70 product line, which is where I would have 5-6 shakes per day.  Currently I am on the modified Optifast 800 product, which is where I have three shakes, 2 bars plus a meal of vegetables and lean protein.  The reason I had originally gone to the modified food plan was because of the weakness I was feeling in my legs and the lightheadedness I was experiencing every day. Now we know that the weakness in my legs is due to the osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia combo.  Going on the modified plan helped only slightly with the lightheadedness.  I still routinely have it almost every time I get up from a sitting position.  There is the possibility that it can have something to do with the fact that my blood pressure is on the lower side now.  They have pretty much done every blood test known to man on me and nothing has come up in that regard.  So now I want to talk to my counselor about going back to the original Optifast 70 that I started with since the reasons for the modified program have changed and I want to see more of a loss each week.  Going to a modified program significantly reduces how much a person loses each week.  Obviously I want to do what is right for my health and I do want to keep up my current exercise level, which is about 60 minutes 5-7 days per week.  I do anticipate that it will be about a year total from the time I started in February until I hit on or near a goal weight that I have worked in active weight loss mode so my interest lies in doing what is right for me.  The dilemma is going back to all shakes since I have now reintroduced food. Truthfully, it is an easier process because there's no thinking involved, but it's also difficult going back when I'm used to having a meal now.  I also get the fact that I will have meals again the future, so that isn't the biggest deal in the world.

I will follow the guidance of the clinic on this no matter what direction it goes in.  Obviously the less weight on my knees, the better for me since I feel pain in them and I want to try to strengthen them as much as possible. Gone are the days that I do this on my own and follow that thinking that got me to 420 pounds.  I really do like my counselor and the group of people I work with at the Optifast clinic and I trust that we all have the same goal, which as my good health.  This has just been on my mind in the last week.  I also feel like I have gained some weight since my pants are feeling a little bit tighter, which doesn't surprise me because three of the medications that I was put on has a weight gain side effect.  However, I am now off of those and on another replacement medication that doesn't do that.  I just want to feel like I'm losing again and moving forward.  I still have a ways to go, but I feel confident that I'll get there sooner or later.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Why did I choose Optifast to lose weight?

I was reflecting today on my weight loss and just how far I've come since February.  I've been at this for nine months now.  I don't know where I am exactly with the weight loss since I missed my official weigh-in on Monday, but I had lost a total of 190 pounds as of the week previous.  People at work today were commenting on how loose my pants were fitting.  Now size 16's are loose on me.  Can you imagine?  When I started, I was snugly zipping into size 34 pants.  Now I'm on the threshold of fitting into size 14's.  That's just mind-boggling to me.  Sure, for some people a size 16 would be absolutely huge.  For me?  It's the land of being able to buy clothes off the rack in a regular store, not Lane Bryant or The Avenue.  Don't get me wrong ... I was grateful that such stores existed, but I don't ever want to go there again once I get too small to fit in their products.

Some people will ask me why I chose to go the route of such a drastic method such as the medically supervised liquid program I chose in Optifast.  To be honest, it was not an easy decision by any stretch of the imagination.  I tried so many ways to lose weight, some were even successful for a period of time.  Then I reached the point of utter desperation with my weight.  Look at my pics of progress page and you'll see my before pictures.  I eventually got to a top weight of 420 pounds.  420 pounds!!  How on God's green earth does anyone get to that weight, let alone a woman?  It's almost as if I blinked one day and I had morphed into someone unrecognizable who was very unhappy.  The sad part of that is that I didn't even allow myself to recognize it at the time.

I finally hit my bottom and told myself that it honestly was either time I did something serious to lose the weight or I was going to die.  I felt that so strongly in my heart, not just me being melodramatic.  This felt like it called for more than just another go-around at Weight Watchers.  Don't get me wrong, I love Weight Watchers and think it's a terrific program.  But my problem was bigger that counting points, calories or the like.  I needed medical intervention.

I was very, very close to getting the gastric bypass surgery.  In the end, though, I just couldn't go through with the process.  I know I needed something serious like that, but I wasn't ready to have a surgery that had potential horrible side effects, let alone the possibility of dying from the surgery.  All the while, I knew Optifast was an available option for me through my insurance company, Kaiser.  In a moment of crystal clear clarity, where I could feel it down to my bones, I just knew in my heart that this was the right path for me.

I also knew that if I was going to be serious about my weight loss, I was going to do whatever they told me to do.  They have over 30 years of experience running this successful program that has helped not only over 25,000 patients in the San Diego area, but countless other Optifast patients across the nation and world.  So I told myself that I was all in.  And if I was going to do it, I wasn't going to do it half-assed.  I would see it through to completion.  This was not about losing the weight as fast as possible for me.  That never was the intention.  I chose this option because I know it works for those that are committed.  The weight comes off and stays off if you follow the plan.  It was about being healthy.  Sure, after losing 190 pounds and now being on the modified program that includes one lean meal a day, I could very easily say, See ya Optifast ... I'm out!!  After losing that much weight, I certainly have some tools in my arsenal to help me be successful in doing it on my own and every reason in the world not to doubt myself.  Yet, I am absolutely honest enough with myself to admit that I need this program.  I need the professional medical advice that comes with it, I need the group support that I have each week in class, I need the counselor to be my biggest supporter.  But more than all of that, I need to not feed into the thinking that got me here in the first place, namely that I have enough knowledge and determination to do it on my own.  I have lost 100 pounds before, and gained it all back with change.  Now I needed to go for behavior modification, have some accountability and just do things differently.

I'm admitting on here to all you lovely people that I'm not a perfect person.  Shocker, I know!!  I need the support and boy do I get a lot of it.  If it's not from the Kaiser group, blog readers and Optifast's Facebook page, then it's from the world of support in my family, friends, co-workers and the many people who give me a smile of encouragement every day.  Even the kids I work with at the high school are my biggest cheerleaders.

The end of my second 20-week group is on Monday and then I go into round three when an entire new group of people just starting the program will be joining us.  I am committed to seeing this through to the end because I need it.  I'm humble enough to admit that I need the help, and that's perfectly okay.  I have the rest of my life to live in maintenance - there's no reason for me to sprint to the finish line by stopping what I'm doing now.  Yes, it's expensive.  Yes, it takes a lot of my time.  But, literally, it has saved my life.  I have lost 190 pounds.  Good Lord, what other situation is that even within the realm of possibility, really?

Along the way, I have made a lot of new friends and discovered so many parts of myself that needed a second chance.  Sure, there's been physical pain along the way that I'm still dealing with, but there's been so much joy, too.  Even writing this blog all began because of Optifast.  I know that it has reached out to other people who are thinking of going on the same journey or who are looking at taking good care of themselves.  I know that because I receive e-mails from people I would have never met under different circumstances.  So many people root for me and pray for me, which touches me more than my words could ever express.  I even have readers that don't have weight issues, but they stumbled onto my blog and read about my story of triumph and that makes them coming back, which is beyond cool.  As I venture onto the next 20 weeks of the program, I do so with a very strong commitment.  I'm not looking to other methods because, helloooo 190 pounds gone.  I know I keep saying that and you're probably rolling your eyes at me, but I don't care.  This is a big freakin deal.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Much improved

I had a much better day today.  My doctor is already starting me on a treatment plan, so I pick up some new medication tomorrow which will replace two pills I'm taking.  I like the two-for-one deal.  He has also referred me to physical therapy for my legs, which is a process but the ball is rolling.  In addition, he has given me the green light to continue on my current eating plan with my modified Optifast program.  He really is very supportive of what I'm doing with my weight loss and feels continued work in that area will only help me with pain management since the less weight that is resting on my knees, all the better.

Our little crew that goes on lunch walks got out today with someone new added to the mix and we were able to laugh, chat and just enjoy the sunshine.  It really helped me focus on good healthy actions to continue taking care of my body.  Ultimately, that is the most important thing for me to do.  When I got home, I got in goofball mode.  I recently bought myself a new iPhone 5 and started new service through a different cell carrier.  I'm playing with all the bells and whistles since my other phone was not near as fancy as this phone, one of which is the ability to take self portraits.  So I took a couple of me.  I haven't uploaded a face picture in a while, so here I am!

And here's one of Sasha, one of my two kitties, just cuz she was so cute.

All together now ... Awwww!!
I'm feeling like I'm in a good space for today.  Tomorrow I meet with the physical medicine doctor who has been working with me on back and neck pain I've been dealing with.  I do plan on updating her on  the recent diagnosis to see if that changes my treatment in that regard.  Onward and onward.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Felt so close to the edge today

Most people that know me know that I am a very strong person.  I may get emotional at times in private, but I am generally the person who is calm in the middle of a crisis or can be the sound voice of reason.  Yet, I felt very vulnerable and naked today. 

My day started with me not getting much sleep last night, probably the result of the stress I was feeling yesterday learning about the severity of my medical situation.  In some ways, I'd like to kick my heels together three times like Dorothy and wish I were in a different place.  Yet, who's to say that a different place would be a better place?  I'm definitely grateful things aren't worse, but I am overwhelmed with the state my poor body is in right now.  Here's what I'm dealing with:
  • Constant lower back pain
  • Tendinitis in my right hand causing constant pain, doctor feels I will need a second surgery there
  • Carpel tunnel in my left hand that has improved over time but hurts significantly when I try to ease the pain in my right hand by using the left one more (did that make sense??)
  • Light headedness/dizziness when I stand up
  • Significant pain from my hips all the way down to my shins in both legs, which the doctor feels is being caused by the osteoarthritis, as well as a weak feeling when I climb hills or stairs
  • Fibromyalgia that contributes to the pain and fatigue
Good Lord, that's a lot to have at one time.   It's no wonder that I got emotional with a friend at work and cried when I told her what was going on.  The tears came from a place of frustration and stress, as well as the realization that the osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia will be with me for the rest of my life.  There are things that can be done to manage the pain (the doctor has already referred me to physical therapy), but it just felt incredibly overwhelming in the moment.  I just want to feel better, and I know that even with everything going on, it's still better than the place I used to be in.  I have to remember that I had deadly cancer last year (melanoma), diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  Those things are gone now and I really am very grateful, I just need to also honor my feelings about what I'm dealing with now.  Living in constant pain is not easy, trust me. 

Tonight, on my way home from my class, I had an incredibly strong urge to stop by the grocery store and pick up ice cream to take home.  That is not a food I eat today and has gotten me in some major trouble in the past, but the urge was so overwhelming.  And I knew that if I did such a thing, I would eventually eat the entire container.  If I did that, there would be no boundary I'd be unwilling to cross.  So I started praying as I was driving, asking God to help me get through the moment.  I didn't really want the ice cream but I honestly think I wanted something else ... an escape.  I can escape into food and then I don't have to deal with the fact that I'm feeling overwhelmed and tired.  I'm happy to say that the prayer was answered - I didn't stop at any store on the way home and I had a very clean dinner of salad, asparagus and 3 oz. of baked salmon.  I measured out my veggies and weighed my salmon.  It's what I needed to do and it made me feel better that I can overcome the cravings in the moment.  That's the challenge for me, and for many of us ... finding a way not to go to the food to solve problems but to be present and walk through life with all of it's hills and valleys. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Repercussions of the past

It looks like we're getting closer to figuring out what's been going on regarding the pain I've been experiencing since I started losing weight nine months ago.  As it stands right now, it looks like I have osteoarthritis in both knees as well as fibromyalgia.  I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis years ago in my left knee.  I was involved in a horrible auto accident where I was hit from the side and my knee slammed into the dashboard.  So my doctor wasn't certain if it was from the accident or the excess weight I was carrying.  However, because I was so young at the time, it was assumed it was from the accident.

Today I found out from a message the rheumatologist sent to me that I have mild osteoarthritis in both knees, although more significantly in the left knee (which is the one that was involved in the accident).  In addition, he also diagnosed me with fibromyalgia.  We're still waiting for some lab results to come back, but he is feeling right now that these issues can be significant causes of the pain I've been feeling.  After the other results come back, I then need to see my primary care doctor to discuss options for pain relief, possible physical therapy in those areas and some exercises I can do to strengthen the weak areas.

Prior to hearing this news, I wasn't feeling very good today so I ended up coming home from work.  I had doubled up on some medication that the neurologist gave me, under her direction, and it made me feel absolutely sick to my stomach.  So, I was feeling like I was in a vulnerable place already.  When the doctor mentioned the problem with both knees, it brought a sting of tears to my eyes.  It's because, as I move further away from my highest weight and closer to goal, I have been feeling very emotional about the life I lived before, with blinders on as to the damage I was doing to my body.  When you keep on piling on weight and you stop paying attention to how tight your clothes are fitting or you stop looking in the mirror or whatever method you may have chosen to try to pretend you weren't getting larger, the more emotionally painful it is to look back and realize it was a life of merely existing and not really living.  I had lunch with a friend yesterday who was about 50 pounds less than me when I started losing weight.  Now I way much less than she does and she's been trying to lose weight, but told me yesterday that it's not a priority for her any more.  We talked about the concern being about being healthy and I could tell she just didn't want to talk about it.  I let it drop because you can't force anybody to be ready to lose weight unless they are there themselves.  I totally get that.  I mention this friend because I remember being in that space and now I see the damage I have done by being a super obese person.  Some of this damage is not reversible and that is a very hard pill to swallow. 

The thing with all of this is that I'm trying my very best to take care of myself now.  It's just difficult dealing with the reality of the space that I was in before.  No, I'm not there now, but I'm dealing with the repercussions of those decisions I made to overeat now.  The pain I feel is looking like it was caused by putting so much weight on my body that it just couldn't handle it.  After losing so much weight, the truth of the damage that was done is now being revealed.  I'm in major pain all the time, even if it may not seem like it.  I'm a master of disguises.  If someone asks me how I'm doing, I'm not going to complain to them unless they know what's going on.  I will smile and say I'm doing fine.  Yet, through all of this, I know I will end up stronger on the other side.  I am a fighter and so I know that I will make it through this time.

If you are reading this blog, contemplating going on Optifast or some other method to lose your weight, the best advice I can give you is to tell you to do it ... do it now, do it today.  Please don't wait till Monday or a better time in your life.  You do not want to subject yourself to the sort of pain I'm living through or the hundreds/thousands of other people out there who perhaps did similar damage to their bodies.  I will continue working hard through this difficult time, but I pray that my story resonates with you in some small way.  

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Letting go of the past

I've had a pretty relaxing day, which I sorely needed.  The stress of the medical stuff the last couple of weeks has been so hard to deal with and I think I was just stressed beyond conception.  The only thing I absolutely had to do today was take the car in to get serviced.  My brother lives in Vegas, so my mom and I are heading out there for a Thanksgiving visit in a couple of weeks.  I like to be the driver because I've got a SUV and it's just a more comfy drive for me.  Besides, my mother has anxiety behind the wheel so I like to let her just chill out as much as possible.  Before taking the car in, I decided to clean out the console and bring some other things into my house. 

The console has sort of been my collection spot for things ... some CD's, trash and whatever else I can't be bothered with while driving.  Have you ever gone through your CD's before?  Some of the ones I had in there were hilarious, like this one.

What can I say?  I grew up in the 70's and 80's.  When no one's looking, I might sing their songs in my car, perhaps at the top of my lungs.  I also had CD's from Dave Matthews Band, MC Hammer and Pearl Jam, among others.  My tastes run the gamut. As I was digging deeper in the console, I found something that made me stop right there in my tracks.

When I bought my car, I barely fit in the seat.  In fact, my tummy touched the steering wheel, so there was really no excess breathing room for me.  As humiliating as this was at the time, I bought the seat belt extension to make things more comfortable for me.  I'd use it every day and hide it in my console when I wasn't driving.  I didn't want other people discovering the fact that I had an extension.  Since I lost 45 pounds in the first month when I started Optifast, I was able to remove the extension pretty quickly and stow it away in case I needed it in the future.  It's been something I have been hanging onto, almost like a security blanket.  I no longer need it, as was evidenced by the picture I uploaded in this post.  So, it's time to let it go.  I don't plan to put myself in a position where I would need it again in the future. 

I forget how much my body has changed until I see tangible things like the seat belt extension.  Even when I went to get my car serviced, I sat in one of the chairs with arms in the waiting room and fit very comfortably.  In the past, I had to squeeze in the chairs.  These are triumphs I get to experience, not just the numbers changing on the scale.  I need to celebrate these victories much more often.  Today I celebrate the fact that I no longer need a seat belt extension in my own car.  That's an amazing feeling.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Putting myself first, such a concept

A while back, I talked about starting a lunch walking club at work as a way for me to continue getting my exercise in now that I'm no longer on summer break.  Some days it is hit and miss in terms of how many people end up going.  Most of the time, it's just me and one of my friends that go consistently.  We have offices next to each other at work and we both have stressful jobs, so, if anything, it was a time for us both to see the sun and get away from the demands of the job for a while.  Sometimes we'll have 1-2 other people join us, which is also lovely.  I enjoy getting out and exercising.  Today I was the only one that was able to go.  Part of me said, "You know, you can skip it.  No one's going with you so it's really okay."  The truth is, though, if I'm trying to convince myself that I need to skip it, that's the last thing I should be doing.  So I slipped off my sandals, threw on my sneakers and went out walking by myself. 

I decided that I would challenge myself and took a new route that involved a lot of hills.  What I love so much is that when I'm walking, even though I start out with pain in my legs and back, the exercise really helps with that.  I'm never pain free, but I get such a good stretch going and feel so much better.  It's almost as if I don't want to stop because I know I'm getting some relief.  As I walked and I was looking over the canyon behind the school where I work, I thought about how grateful I am.  Not only that I'm walking through this weight loss process and not only because I'm walking through getting treatment for pain but because I just feel a huge difference in my life.  I feel God blessing me at truly every turn.  I'm present enough today to recognize that and I'm willing to do the work that is put before me.  I couldn't have ever imagined that this place where I am right now is something that would have been my reality when I first started Optifast.  Can you imagine ... down 190 pounds and still going?  That's really crazy talk when I think about it.  Yet, this is the world I live in today.  No matter what challenges I have had along the way and continue to have, I am living a dream right now as I type this.  When I started, I was hoping to lose somewhere around 100 pounds.  Not only have I lost almost twice that, but I'm no longer a diabetic?  I no longer have high blood pressure?  I no longer have high cholesterol?  All of that is crazy talk, but that's exactly what happened.  There's no way I could be anything by grateful.  Who knows where I'm going to end up as I continue down this path, guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Glad to have a non-eventful day

As I have been watching coverage of the devastation the east coast has endured because of the storm, I'm just reminded how precious everything is.  While I have been and continue to deal with painful medical issues, I'm grateful that it's nothing worse.  Don't get me wrong, the pain I live in every day is nothing I can ignore - my body makes sure I am well aware of pain - but big picture here ... I can deal with it.  I thank God that my family that lives in the middle of the storm is okay, that they didn't lose their home and that they're all safe.  It's just a huge reminder for me to count my blessings every single day.  I had an acupuncture appointment today and it was a painful one because my body is in pain, but the action I'm taking is all about healing.  As I laid there with a million needles sticking out of me, I was in a peaceful place.  I even fell asleep on the table ... twice ;-)  Eventually I will get to a place where I will feel better and so I always try to keep my eye on the prize.  I mean, I can consider myself a living, breathing miracle.  I was at 417 pounds when I started Optifast.  Today I can do things that I never even imagined I could do before, let alone hope for.  It will only continue getting better, even with the hills and valleys of life.