Friday, January 11, 2013

Life after Optifast

Let me preface this post by saying that I am grateful that I cared about my health enough early last year and decided to go on to Optifast.  It wasn't an easy choice, but once I started the program, I never once looked back.  My reasoning for doing the program wasn't because I wanted to lose the weight quickly.  It was because I wanted to lose the weight. Period.  I knew that people lost weight in this program and I didn't think twice about the statistics afterwards.  I was so desperate to take weight off my poor 417-pound body that all I could do was look right in front of me and that's it.  The first couple of weeks were tough, but only because I felt hungry and my body was trying it's hardest to get into ketosis.  Once I was roughly in week three, it was easy for me.  Dare I say that out loud?  I'm not gonna lie ... it was easy for me.  I had no thinking to do other than, "What time will I have my next shake?"  I wasn't tempted by food whatsoever.  I had no cravings.  I never cheated, not even once.  I couldn't understand the people all around me who were on the program and confessed that they were cheating all the time.  I just couldn't get it.

Now I get it.

Once I got off the fast completely and back onto real food, it was as if the craving monster reared it's ugly head at me and screamed


Sometimes I can fight off the cravings, sometimes I can't.  The entire time I was on the fast, the grocery stores still existed.  I was able to walk on two legs, stroll in there, plop my money down and get whatever I wanted.  But I never did.  I never even wanted to.  But now, the feelings for food are sort of intense and it's a fight all the time with me.  Let's take today for example.  If you walk into my kitchen, I have very healthy food:  whole wheat bread, brown rice, salmon, green leafy veggies, apples ... just a plethora of items that say someone healthy lives in this home.  And what did I do?  I added a carton of premium ice cream to my freezer because it's the only thing I wanted in the grocery store.  That food has no business being in my home because if there's an entire carton here, I will eat it until it's all gone.  Even if that means that my tummy hurts.  Even if that means I might isolate at home to do it.  Doesn't matter.  I can't have that sort of food in moderation, not when it's in my home.  I had a couple of spoonfuls and, really, it didn't even taste good.  I'm happy to report, though, that in a moment of pure clarity, I pulled it out of the freezer, turned on the hot water in the kitchen sink and sent it down the garbage disposal.  Then I went and laid down with one of my kitties on my bed and cried.  Oh Lord, in that moment, I felt so lost.

This isn't easy.  In fact, this is the hardest fucking thing I've ever done in my life.  Really, the hardest??  Yes.  The. Hardest. Ever.  Many of you know my story and so that's an impossible statement to believe, but it's true.  It's a battle everyday.  Weight has crept back on my body, some of it because of a lot of medical stuff I have had going on and some of it because food has made it back into my house that has no business being here and I have been making bad choices.  I'm not blaming anyone else, I take full responsibility for that.  But, oh my gosh, this is so hard.  It's not hard to exercise or to log my food or any of that.  What is hard is the internal battle that tells me food will soothe whatever is going on or even the times when there is no battle and I just find myself obsessing about the food or just eating it outright.  Or simply just finding myself in the kitchen with the refrigerator door open and wondering what I'm doing.  There are many times I have wondered if I should just go back on the Optifast product, even though I was feeling physically sick on it towards the last couple of months and even though I was having debilitating lightheadedness all the time, feeling as though I was going to pass out every time I got up.  No amount of tweaking I did with my liquid and sodium intake was helping.  Yet, on the product, things were just much more simple.  Then the other side of me wonders something deeper, something I have never uttered to anyone else before:  Was it a mistake for me to go on to Optifast in the first place?

Now, I'm not saying that because I think it's a bad program.  If I thought that, I never would have ventured down this road in the first place.  But, if you weigh what I did or even somewhere in the neighborhood of that, the focus cannot just be how to stay one hundred percent compliant on the products.  There has to be more of a focus of working on the reasons why we eat so much in the first place as well in a more intense fashion so that, by the time we're done with the product-only phase, the transition will be so much smoother back to normal life with regular food.  My group counselor has gone into a lot of the internal issues, but I really think there should be a deeper counseling component to this because I never struggled as much before as I am struggling now, perhaps something one on one in addition to the group sessions.  And, for me, the struggle is not about just the food but also how to incorporate a healthier life so that I just don't become another person that gains back the weight.  I'm telling you guys right now, I am not about to let that happen.  That's why I'm writing about this here.  I know a lot of people read my blog, which I am super grateful for, and I need to continue being just as real now as I was when I started writing.  I want to publicly thank Melissa and Sara for being so honest in their blogs, as well as the many other people's blogs that I read (I couldn't begin to name everyone but I religiously read the ones with links on my page) because your vulnerability helps me know I am not alone in my feelings. We all need to talk about this stuff because if one of us is going through the hard times, others are probably experiencing the same thing.  The same goes with the good days as well -- we need to celebrate those just as much.

The weird thing is that the struggle is in the bad times, good times and even boring times all equally.  I was on the products for about ten months with absolutely no food, so obviously things are going to be difficult when food comes back into the picture.  I have to remember that.  I also need to remember that I don't have to beat myself up over this idea of perfection I have in my head or if my pants are feeling tight.  I am mourning the fact that I got down to 230 pounds and the scale has slowly, and sometimes rapidly, been creeping in the other direction.  In fact, I haven't weighed myself in a while because I'm a little afraid of what it's going to say (although I will be going back to the clinic on Monday and commit to posting my new numbers at that time).  This is real life and sometimes real life downright sucks and sometimes it's gloriously wonderful.  I get to deal with real life all the time and the challenge now is to find ways of doing it without going to food, no matter what the circumstances.  Here's an example of that.

I have been working on my bachelor's degree and will be finishing at the end of this summer.  It has been a really long road for me, with a lot of ups and downs, but it was a personal goal of mine as well as a professional one.  I ultimately would like to go to grad school to become a high school counselor, but no matter what happens with that, it's important for me to get that B.A.  Well, I found out today that I am eligible to walk in the graduation ceremony at my university this May.  The date is about four months away, May 18th for my department.  When I found out, I started to feel a little anxious.  Part of me wants to walk in the ceremony, part of me doesn't.  The part that doesn't is because some of the students who attended the high school where I work attend that university and I would be graduating with them.  A big part of my job is helping students with what they will be doing after graduating from high school, yet I'm just now finishing my own B.A.  I know my job really well, so it's not a matter of me being uneducated in terms of giving them advice.  I work really hard at knowing my stuff, of learning about the various colleges across the nation, of what careers require what skills, being an expert in scholarships, etc.  I am an expert in many aspects of my job.  I'm not saying that in a braggy way, but I work hard to overcompensate for the fact that I don't yet have that degree.  But I don't want to feel self-conscious if I participate in the ceremony.  Seriously, it might be 10-20 students that we're talking about here, yet I'm making it all about me!  The part of me that wants to participate in the ceremony is screaming at me that I must be there to celebrate this huge milestone in my life, that I'd regret it if I didn't participate.  I have worked hard, damn hard, to get here.  I have overcome those negative messages when I was a child that I was not smart enough, when obviously I am if I'm getting a degree.  My parents want to be there to celebrate this special time in my life and I want to be there, too.  I know I'll cry and I know it'll be a big moment for me.   And perhaps that's the real reason I am convincing myself that I shouldn't walk in the ceremony.  Is it, then, a huge leap to wonder why I bought ice cream and brought it into my house?  It's my drug that soothes anxiety, stress, uneasiness and other feelings, yet all it does is compound the problem.  The great news with that, though, is I got rid of it, and not by eating it.

Anyway, I feel like I've been rambling, but I just want to say that, despite what it seems like in what I've written here, I am grateful for how far I've come in my getting-healthy journey.  I also have a lot of work yet to do.  Taking care of myself and my health is job number one.  When I see my doctor on Tuesday, I plan on talking to her about possibly seeing a nutritionist since I have unique needs with the low blood sugar or perhaps continuing on with the group support at the Optifast clinic even though I'm no longer on their product.  These are difficult things to do because there's a part of me that doesn't want to disappoint others who are now on Optifast if I completely walk away from it.  Yet, if I do, it's because this is simply the next part of my wondrous journey.  No decisions are being made right now, except that I will continue to fight, fight, fight.  Like I said in my last post, I'm scrappy that way ;-)

2 comments:

Leigh C. said...

Good luck on Monday. Get right back on the wagon and do what you need to. It's not worth it to lose all the ground you've made. You've done it before. You can do it again. Even though I know it's harder to see a different number than you want to, you need to move forward now so you don't lose anymore ground. Good luck!!!!!

Kathy said...

Thanks for the pep talk ;-) You're right, I know I can do this no matter what the road looks like in front of me.

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