Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A year later and a difficult decision

Yesterday I stayed home from work.  I didn't feel well and it was one of those times where I knew the best thing for me was to just stay home to rest.  It turns out it was a good thing for me to take care of myself not only for physical reasons for emotional ones, too.   I did a lot of thinking and came to some important decisions while I laid in my bed.  Indulge me for a paragraph or two as I go back and tell a short version of what brought me to where I found myself yesterday.

This last year has really brought a significant amount of change in my life.  I started the year at my heaviest weight - 420 pounds.  I never could have imagined myself in a situation like that, not ever.  But it was enough of a catalyst for me to do something drastic to care for my health if I wanted to be around for the future.  So, on February 6th, I began the journey of making big changes by starting Optifast at 417 pounds.  It was a pretty scary proposition at that time, but I never looked back once I went down that road.  It wasn't an easy journey, but, rather quickly, I began to see a significant amount of weight be shed from my body.  I lost 45 pounds in the first month alone.  When you're in a situation like being on nothing but shakes and chicken broth, as I was in those first 10 or so months, there is nothing to hide behind.  The emotions are raw and hit you square between the eyes.  Yet, I was able to be 100% compliant with the program without even a little bit of a desire to cheat.  I mean, I remember getting "special permission" to take my once-monthly communion at church because I was so worried about staying compliant.  It's actually pretty funny now when I think back on it.  At the height, I had lost 190 pounds within those 10 months.  Pretty soon, I found myself the smallest I had ever been in my life.  I had gone from wearing a size 34 down to a size 16.  I literally was shrinking.  I was doing my best to deal with things as they were coming up, but I never realized at the time how difficult things were going to become.

The entire time I was on the shakes, I was having medical issues but I really didn't press too hard in regards to them because I was losing buckets of weight that I didn't care that I was dangerously lightheaded every single day or having digestive issues.  There was a constant pain in both of my legs that I didn't remember having before going on the fast.  Now, don't get me wrong - I'm not blaming the products at all.  It's just that things were happening and I chose to ignore them as best I could because nothing seemed more important to me at the time than getting the weight off.  Good Lord, that's all I wanted.  That's all anyone wants who is classified as a "super morbidly obese" human being.  You'd give anything to be skinny; screw the consequences.  However, over time, I couldn't ignore the problems that I was having and eventually went on a modified fast and then, ultimately, a full-food plan that had me no longer taking any of the products.  In no short order, without even realizing the severity of what was going on at the time, I gained back an incredible sixty or so pounds within three months.  Yes, you read that right.  I went back over my weight loss stats to confirm that. Now, I should say that not all of that has to do with me making poor personal choices; I was having significant rejection issues to some pain medications that were prescribed to me.  Some had horrible weight gain as a side effect, but that set me on a pattern of feeling pain, trying to take medication to help me with the pain, feeling frustration because I was still feeling the pain yet seeing weight gain, eating out of that frustration, still feeling pain, more eating and then going on and on in a cycle of self-destruction.  We'd change my medication, with the same results each time.  All the while, here I was trying to function normally, putting on a brave face and feeling like I was collapsing on the inside.  Besides the stress of the pain in my legs, I was also dealing with pain from my worker's comp injury, the stress of dealing with lawyers and depositions, a demanding full-time job, college courses, attempting to have regular exercise in my life that causes pain every time I did it, incredibly low blood sugar and the list just goes on and on.

Meanwhile, I am continuing to go to my Optifast classes each week, even though I was no longer on product, because I wanted to continue to try to lose more weight until I could get down to goal but keeping the support of the group.  I'm not one of these people who can do it on their own.  I need the group dynamics to help to keep going.  Doing that costs $50 each week.  Even as the number on the scale kept getting higher and higher, even as I watched friends continue to get smaller while I was silently heading in the other direction and feeling so jealous of them even though I was happy for them, even though I was feeling emotional pain at the thought that I was failing, I kept going to the meetings each week.  I expressed that I was having a hard time, but I was still putting on a brave face.  I kept telling myself, "I'll find a way to turn this around."  Ever the person to try to "fix" things, I was also trying to fix my own stuff going on.  And it hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday -- I cannot keep up the brave face while I feel the total opposite inside.  Gaining back 60 pounds in 3 months is not only unbelievable but it's a cry for help from a person who never asks for help.  So, yesterday, I finally made the decision to ask for help.  You guys can't imagine how hard this is for me to say that I've gained so much back in such a short period of time.  Really, if it wasn't happening to me and I didn't see the numbers on the scale, I wouldn't believe it.  I mean, who has ever heard of weight coming back that fast, no matter what the reason?

To that end, I've decided that I am going to discontinue going to the Optifast support class, especially if it is costing me $50 each week (that's $200 in a month for those of you doing the math) when I'm going in the opposite direction.  Instead, I'm going to continue doing what I started a year ago - taking care of myself.  I do feel that continued support is necessary for me, though.  So I'm going to go the Weight Watchers route for the rest of my weight loss since it will give me the same sort of support at a fraction of the cost, while continuing to work with my personal doctor and dietitian.  I want the weekly accountability in a group setting, as well as the support of people going through the same stuff that I'm going through.  And, most importantly, I'm going to also look into going into counseling to help me through.  I have been overweight my entire life and I need the help if I even have a fighting chance at having a normal, healthy body and life.  Even though I have a very public blog that a lot of people read (for which I am incredibly grateful), I'm actually a very private person who is conservative, in control and tries to handle things on her own.  Can you say Type A??  I can no longer keep doing that.  I have so many people on my side that love me to pieces and just want to see me happy.  Ultimately, as painful as this entire process has been, I want that for myself, too.  I'm not seeking another diet, as I've been on many before, but what I am seeking is continuing to move forward in a positive direction.

Today, as I was talking with an extremely caring friend who has the same type of personality as me, the tears finally came.  I was trying to hold them back as best I could from her because I knew that if I started to let them out, it would take a long time for them to stop.  But that's the beauty of friendship ... the other person loves you through the tears, the rationalizations and, frankly, the bullshit.  It wasn't just the talk with this particular friend today.  It was the culmination of all of my talks with friends old and new like Sara, Melissa, Kim, Mercedes, Kristin, Tracy, M and so many others that have made the difference in me seeking more in terms of taking care of myself.  All of you have meant so much to me when I could share such personal things with you all the while knowing that you all stand by me in unwavering support.  I wish I could tell people reading this that the journey of weight loss is an easy one in which you get on a special plan to take the weight off, you reach goal and then move into happily ever after mode.  It takes work, a lot of faith and a level of unprecedented humility that I never imagined before.  I think back through the last year and I have felt tremendous joy.  Sure, there have been incredible challenges (especially when I look back over the last couple of years), but make no mistake about it ... there's been a lot of joy.  In an effort to keep moving down that road of continued joy, sometimes it means making hard decisions that ultimately provide the best healing. 

So, onward to the next part of this journey. This time I think I'll put my seat belt on so I don't fling myself over that cliff.  I was pretty close this time.


Big Heart said...

I'm glad you took some "me" time to rest your mind about what's been going on. You know what's best for you, so whichever you choose I will support you wholeheartedly! I still want to go to WW too, after maintenance so maybe we can go to the same one. I think you're taking care of you the best way possible right now, both physically and mentally so I believe you will succeed in reaching your ultimate goal weight. It takes time and what is so difficult for us is that on Optifast the weight loss was so quick and consistent (overall).

So, here's to a new fork in your path (pun not intended)!


Kathy said...

Thank you so much Sara for always supporting me. That means so much. That would be awesome if we could go to the same meeting! The meeting I will be going to is on Saturday mornings at 9:00 or 9:30 on the other side of Escondido near Auto Park Way. I'm really looking forward to it.

Melissa said...

Hugs dear friend from Ohio...I was thinking that the RIGHT decisions may initially seem difficult, but I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that you a pursuing the healthy road on our never-ending journey for weight management. What touches me so very much is you are asking for help -- I'm the typical "Type B" but I know many, many "Type As" (married one, actually LOL!). Lean on us, on your new friends at WW, your doctors, the new therapist. You have built/continue to build a fabulous network of people who love you and support you every step of the way.

I really thrilled and proud of you for pursuing the talk therapy option. It keeps me sane, Kath. It's so key to my journey. The way I look at it is I'm going to get as much support as I can from all angles -- I'm going to tap every resource I can find. It's "holistic" for me.

You nailed Optifast right on the head -- we get so wrapped up in those magical weigh-ins, incredible drop in clothing sizes, and other things and ignore problems, or some just don't think at all about maintenance and how tough that truly is going to be. You know I am struggling mightily with it. The program has drawbacks -- you know it, I know it. What's important is we gained more experience about ourselves -- and it gave birth to our blogs. That in itself is priceless.

Love you and I'm here for you -- always. xoxo Melissa

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