Thursday, February 28, 2013

Knocking down those walls

Today I followed through on my commitment to myself and went to the appointment to begin therapy.  This is an important part of my journey.  Not everyone will have need to take such a step, but I find that my road to getting healthier is not just about having a more fit body.  It's about healing the inside as well.  I don't know how much of this process I will blog about versus writing about in my private journal.  I think time will tell on that.  I do know that I will be writing about it here, but how personal or detailed I get is really dependent upon how comfortable I feel.  Right now, it was just a big deal for me to go to the appointment.  I knew it was going to be hard because I try to do my very best to stay strong, to be there for other people or the kids I work with at the high school.  I decided, though, that I was going to be all in during this process if it was going to benefit me in any way.  So, before I stepped foot in the therapist's office, I vowed to knock down the walls as best I could so that I could be as honest as possible.  Today's appointment was about seeing where I was at and then making a plan moving forward from here.  I do have to say that the conversation was difficult for me because I was trying to hold it together at first.  I just didn't want to cry.  That lasted all about five minutes. 

Before I had gone into the building, I sent a prayer up to God to give me the strength to do what I was there to do.  I didn't know what that meant at the time, but I soon realized it was about just letting go, completely letting go.  As difficult as it was, it felt very good at the same time.  I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be doing exactly what I was supposed to do. My next step is to begin individual therapy and meeting with a doctor.  Unfortunately, I won't be able to do those things until the last week in March since I'm new, but I'll be calling in for cancellations.  And, if I can't get in sooner, then I at least know I'm continuing to move forward and that's the most important part to me.  Today's appointment was very difficult and I confess that I cried a lot, but it was one of the most healing and positive things I could have done for myself.  Hopefully I'll be able to get some sleep tonight.  I didn't get any sleep last night and very little the night before, so I'm due.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Absolutely exhausted

Have you ever had those times where you felt like you couldn't keep your eyes open one more second?  That was me today, quite a few times.  I just haven't been sleeping well, even with the aid of medication.  I was driving to my class this afternoon and I could barely keep my eyes open on the freeway.  I had to lower my window to put fresh air in my face.  As I sat in class and took notes while the professor lectured, I had to fight my droopy eyes.  I shouldn't feel like this.  It's not healthy to be this tired, but I am.

I know that I have a lot on my mind and a lot I'm going through right now.  Tomorrow is my first appointment with the therapist.  I'm looking forward to it, while also feeling overwhelmed at the same time.  I know all of this is positive action in me moving forward, but sometimes it does feel safer in a weird way to stay right where I am in the moment.  That doesn't mean that it's something I want to do, it's just more comfortable.

This whole process of getting healthier, of losing weight and making good, positive changes must be taken in baby steps for me.  Maybe other people can do it in leaps and bounds but I've been overweight my entire life with some very big mountains I've had to climb.  Sometimes I would be envious of friends who never had any difficulties in their family life or never had to overcome anything.  Yet I know these things do make me stronger and have shaped the person I am today.  I just pray that as I see this therapist that I go in there with every ounce of strength I have to face the things that have been overwhelming for me and that I find the courage to talk about them.  Most importantly, even when it becomes difficult, as I'm certain it will be, that I continue forging ahead.  Maybe these things will help me eventually find sleep again, relieve me of the pain I've been having all over my body and help me to continue letting go of the weight.  I want so desperately to find relief over the frustration and sadness (if that's the right word) I have been feeling.  I'm not naive enough to think that everything will be solved in one session with the therapist, but heading down the road is a good start.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Friend Makin’ Mondays: Q&A

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

1. Did you watch the Oscars? If so, who did you enjoy seeing most?  Not yet, I've got it on the DVR to watch later.

2. Do you drink meal replacement shakes, smoothies, etc?  I was on a medically supervised program last year where I drank meal replacement shakes exclusively for nine months straight (although I lost 190 pounds during that time) and then eventually added food back in.  So I really have no desire to have another shake, no matter how tasty it may be.

3. Share one thing you have done to help someone in the last week?  I let someone cut in front of me at the grocery store who only had one thing to purchase.

4. What is the tastiest thing you ate last week?  I baked salmon ... super tasty.  That is by far my most favorite fish to eat.

5. Think of one fun thing that you could do this week without spending any money to do it.  I'll have to think about that one, nothing is springing to mind right now.

6. Share one place that you’ve been to and would like to visit again.  Italy.  I didn't get to spend much time there when I went and would like to go back.

7. Do you prefer Facebook or Twitter?  Facebook, by far.  I do use Twitter, but get annoyed with the word count limitations.

8. What is your favorite vegetable?  Spaghetti squash.  I use it as substitute for pasta and actually prefer it now since there are much less carbs in each serving.

9. Share a goal that you have for the month of MarchTo exercise 3-4 times per week consistently.

10. Share a quote that inspires you.  One of my favorites:  "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." - Lao Tzu     

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Feeling like a little kid

I had to take my car in today to get some servicing done.  My mom has had the flu, so we haven't been able to go together so that I can help her get the car fixed but I have at least convinced her to trust me and take the Accord to the place where I get my Element fixed.  I figured it out today while I was waiting for my car and I've been with the same two guys for 24 years of car servicing.  They were the service managers at a local Honda dealership where my dad bought a Honda.  They eventually opened up their own business specializing in Hondas and Acuras, so I have been dealing with them since I had my first Honda at 17.  My mom believes that no one is going to take advantage of her because she's older so she's not understanding why I want her to see my guys.  Oh mother!  If anything, you have to love her for being so cute.  I said to her, "Mother (she knows she's in trouble when I call her mother and not mom), just trust me, please."  Turns out that they will be saving her $150.  Vindication.

While I was waiting for my car, I was on my iPhone reading blogs.  It was a great way to catch up and so the time seemed to go so fast.  It's great to spend the time to see what other people are doing with their blogs or just even the things they are talking about.  Sometimes I do feel like maybe I do a bit of oversharing, but it made me feel better to know that I'm one of many that share very personal things as they become healthier or find themselves in other ways.  The truth is that if someone feels like I share too much, they always have the option of not reading the entry.  As I've always said, the blog is for me first, but I know it is read by many others as well.

One idea that I got from a blog some time ago (and I'm sorry for not giving credit to the person with the idea but I can't remember who it was) was that the person did some toning in their tummy from a hula hoop.  I thought to myself, How fun is that!  That's a great way to get some exercise in without it feeling like exercise. The last time I had a hula hoop was when I was probably 8 or 9 years old.  Mine was pink and white, like this one.

In fact, I had just as much fun as this little girl seems to be having.  When I was a little girl, I always managed to have fun with my friends, even in the chaos of what was going on in my household.  It's like it was an outlet of sorts.  That is a long time away from a hula hoop.  When I was in Walmart today, I saw a stand full of them and I gleefully put one in my cart.  When I got home, I realized it was a Wave Hoop.  What's that?  There's water in the tube instead of whatever annoying little contraption they have in regular hula hoops that makes them noisy.  I guess the water is supposed to help keep it up longer.

I got home and wanted to try it out and discovered something ... I'm not a kid anymore.  Shocker, right?  I used to do the hula hoop with ease and this thing felt impossible to me.  I have been on Youtube looking up wave hoops and all of these kids make it look so easy.  I was giggling at myself - here I am wondering how a child can do it and I was struggling.  Practice makes perfect I guess.  And, if anything, it's making me laugh and we all need a little more laughter in our lives.  Whether I master it or not (and I am bound and determined to get that thing up and staying up), it is great exercise and, I'm sorry, FUN!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Moving away from the scale

When I was on Optifast and dropping so much weight very quickly, I posted on here how much I was losing (or gaining) each and every weigh-in.  For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you'll notice that my page with all of my scale stats is gone.  I still have it, but it's in a hidden folder right now because I realized that I was giving that scale too much power.  It was awesome to jump on that thing when I was losing so much weight.  It told me I was feeling good because who can fight that feeling when things are going well?  I remember the first week I was on Optifast products ... I lost 19 pounds that week.  I know that it was a lot of water weight, but 19 pounds?  For a woman??  Mondays was my weigh-in date at the clinic and I posted that evening so people could see how much I had lost.  People even told me they would wait to see my post before going to bed.  It really was a great time of celebration for me.  Then, when the physical pain I've been going through really took a turn for the worst and I had to be put on medication and had to make a change with my eating plan, it was a horrible experience getting on the scale.  I remember one time when I gained 30 pounds in one week.  I know many of you remember that, too.  All of a sudden, that scale became the most awful thing because it produced feelings in me that no one deserves to feel about themselves.  It didn't matter that the bulk of that weight came on when I was put on steroids.  All I could think in my head is Kathy, you have failed.  So I had to make a change.

After starting WW, I decided that I wasn't going to step on my scale at home as much.  I still have it, but it's in the cabinet under the sink in the bathroom.  I can pull it out when I want, but it's not sitting out as it was before.  And if anything is going on, I don't automatically jump on it for validation, one way or the other.  I quickly realized through the course of my triumphs and difficulties that I need to celebrate non-scale accomplishments more.  That's not to say I'm not going to weigh because, let's face it, it is a tool to tell me if I'm at least headed in the right direction.  But right now, and this is just for me, I cannot put too much focus on a few pounds difference.  That will trigger me to overeat.  When I weigh in at the WW meeting, if it's going down, that's the right direction for me.  My weight loss is not going to be anywhere near as fast as it was on Optifast.  Now it's a steady 1-2 pounds per week.  Here are some tips I have learned to help me with dealing with the scale numbers:
  • (For those of you on WW) Don't look at your weigh-in results until after you've left the meeting because you can then be present for what's going on around you instead of focusing on the numbers.
  • You have no business comparing yourself against other people.  I have been so guilty of that and it's not fair to me, nor to the other person.  I appreciate that my friends are doing so well and don't want to take any of that happiness away from them.
  • Avoid weight-loss goals in terms of time, something like, "I'm going to be a size 12 by the summer."  
  • Make sure that you are also looking at inches lost, as that is a very good tool to accurately reflect where you're at.
  • The absolute most important reminder for me:  ask yourself what the scale is doing to you.  If I am weighing myself on a daily basis, is it making me crazy or is it helping me stay on track?  Be honest about this!  If it is making you crazy, like it was for me, do something to curb that.  For me it was putting my scale away out of my sight that made me feel relaxed.  
I will continue posting my weight on here, but periodically and not like clockwork before.  I have seen, after everything I've been through, that I have to be very gentle and kind towards myself in regards to that.   Having gained some of my weight back (although not most of it, thank you God) has been very difficult for me.  It has left me in tears more than I have admitted to anyone because I put so much work and sacrifice into taking off the weight to see it coming on again has been like a knife through my heart.  This has been really the most painful time for me, not just physically, which is significant, but emotionally as well.  The weight gain started with the addition of the medications that have side effects of weight gain, getting off of the Optifast products and the frustration I have been feeling with all of the chronic pain I've been going through.  That, in turn, has added more weight to my body.  As a result, I would eat more or inappropriate food to deal with the frustration and it has put me in a cycle that has left me with more and more weight on.

Thankfully now I'm on the downward trend, but I have to work very hard at fighting the urge to pick up the food.  It has been a real fight every freakin day.  It's not a fight I have all day long, but pretty much in the afternoon/evening is when I have the hardest time.  Sometimes it's a battle I win, sometimes not.  Thankfully I have my first appointment with the therapist on Thursday.  I have been trying to stay as positive as I can, but I do have my moments where the frustration gets the better of me.  I suspect that I'm going through a depression of sorts right now.  I've never been depressed before, but then again, I've never had to deal with something like this before where the physical pain has not gotten better.  When I had cancer, it was very painful going through surgery and recovery, but it eventually got better.  This has gotten worse.  Even at my heaviest weight, I never hurt near as much physically as I do now.   In fact, I found myself on webmd earlier today looking at symptoms of depression.  Obviously I'm not going to diagnose myself, but it may explain a lot.  I remember when I first made the appointment and how uncertain I was that seeing a therapist was something I wanted to do.  Now I'm certain it was the right move for me and I look forward to it.  It's pretty amazing how things work out that way, isn't it?  For me it's about facing fears and, when I do, the fear isn't anywhere near as huge as I had made it out to be.  That doesn't mean I'm not incredibly nervous about seeing the therapist because I know that things are going to come out during my appointments that I've kept locked inside of me for a long time.  That scares me, but I also realize that just because you close the door and throw away the key on something doesn't mean it's no longer on the other side of that door.  At some point, the door is going to have to be opened again if I want a fighting chance of moving forward.

Geez, puns aside, this was a heavy post today. Yet, I know that it's okay.  This is what I'm going through right now and I can all but guarantee that someone else out there is going through similar things as well.  So many people have commented to me that I have inspired them in the last year as I have lost weight and by not giving up as I've encountered challenges.  If anything,  now I hope the inspiration can be about standing up and fighting for your life, no matter what obstacles you may be facing.  Sometimes mine feel overwhelming, then I'll meet someone that is worse off than I am.  That's not to say that I am discounting my struggle, but it gives me the courage to stay and fight.  I've always been stubborn ... maybe now that's an asset instead of a defect. 

Before I close, I just want to say thank you to all of you for the support you've given me.  I have changed my blogroll list around a bit to incorporate Optifast blogs with all the others I read, but I appreciate you whether you have been on Optifast, WW, some other weight loss program or are here just to support me in general.  Sometimes when I post something on this blog, I'll hover my mouse over the publish button before I post it.  It's because I share extremely personal things on here and I wonder if I'm going to cross the line if I actually post the things I write about.  Then I remember the original purpose of this blog - to document my journey from 420 pounds down to whatever healthy weight God leads me to.  Sometimes that's a joyful journey and at other times it's incredibly difficult, but it's an honest glimpse into the road I travel.  Thanks for holding my hand and coming with me. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ability to laugh at myself

I went to bed waaay too late last night.  I think I finally went to sleep around 3 a.m.  I've been on vacation this week so I can do that, but it throws my entire day off.  I ate breakfast at 10:30 and wanted to get a workout in at the gym and run some errands before I had to go to my class.  I've been in so much pain lately with leg issues that I know I needed the workout today.  I kept telling myself that I need to take it easier if I'm feeling pain while I'm working out and that I can pull back at any point.  Normally what I do is stretching at home since I wince through the whole thing that I'd rather not have people staring at me while I do it.  I can't quite describe the pain I'm living with adequately enough, but just trust me when I say it is debilitating.  Yet, I know that this is what I'm dealing with so I'm trying to do the absolute best I can.  So, after I get to the gym, I usually do a 5K on the treadmill and then about 20 minutes on the recumbent bike.  Then I'll do stretching exercises again at home.  I do my strength training at home as well.  I have a ton of resistance bands, one of those balls you sit on, and weights for arms and legs.  I clip out strength training routines from fitness magazines I get and use those to help me follow proper form and technique.  For right now, this is the path that feels the most comfortable for me.  When I don't go to the gym, I do walking outdoors.

So, I hopped on one of the treadmills and started out in warm-up mode.  My legs were hurting, but I just kept telling myself that it will feel better once I get going.  I have put music in my iPhone that really gets me moving, so that helps me with pace.  I can't run because of the osteoarthritis in my knees, so I walk anywhere between 3.0-3.7 mph on a random hill course.  I make it sort of like circuit training where I'll go slower then kick it up for a song, then back down, then back up.  That really gets my heart pumping and leaving me sweaty.  However, today, my legs were in so much freakin pain that I felt like every step was like torture.  I did slow down a little bit, but I finally had to wave the white flag at 2.77 miles, short of the 3.2 miles I usually go.  But my poor legs felt like they were on fire and I was starting to lose my footing a little bit with my left leg that I just told myself, no, you have to stop right now and that is perfectly okay.  I skipped the bike and went straight out to my car.  I started it, sat in the driver's seat and just cried into my hands.  The pain was unbelievable and the only release I could have were those tears.  I know that continuing to lose weight is going to help with the severity of the pain, but I had it with me at my smallest weight.  So many people who see that I have lost weight assume I'm feeling so much better.  With my overall health, yes, things are so much better.  But when it comes to all of my pain issues, no, I'm in the most pain I've ever been in. 

Now, I'm not saying all of that with any regret.  It's just that, as I continue to move forward, I am dealing with the extreme challenge of significant pain.  I am doing my best to stay in as positive a place as I can be in.  If the doctors have said this is chronic pain that may or may not get better, then the best I can do is follow their directions about how best to manage the pain.  One of the big things is to get regular cardiovascular, low-impact aerobic exercise, which I'm getting through walking and the bike.  However, I think it's now time for me to pull back with the intensity.  When I plugged in my ActiveLink, it showed me actually running for 30 minutes.  Obviously I wasn't running, but at the higher pace coupled with the intensity, it looks like I was running.  I'm a very black or white person in a lot of ways, which is something I continue to work on, so my mindset has been that if I'm going to exercise, then I'm really going to exercise.  But, if I'm left sobbing into my hands because it hurts so much, I think it's time that I go slower and spend more time doing the stretching and strength training.

After all of that, I was in a pretty emotional place, so I told myself that I needed to go home, take a shower, have a healthy lunch and then get out of my house to go run my errands.  One of the things I needed to do was return some clothes I bought that are too big on me at both Walmart and Kohl's.  They are next to each other in a strip mall nearby, so I had to gather up the clothes and receipts.  No problem on the items for Walmart.  However, I had bought two pairs of jeans at Kohl's and could not find the receipt for the life of me.  I was hunting everywhere in my house.  I dumped out my purse, looked through my receipt drawer, went through stacks of paperwork on my desk ... nothing.  It was driving me absolutely batty.  That was $75 that I could get back.  I finally decided to just try my luck at Kohl's without the receipt.  I remembered that I had a bag on the floor of my bedroom that was big so I could stick the jeans in there to return.  I looked at the bag and saw that it was the one from Kohl's and then I thought to myself, Hold on, maybe the receipt is still in the bag!!  And wouldn't you know it, there it was just waiting for me.  Seriously, I probably spent a good hour searching my house for that receipt.  After the physical and emotional pain I was suffering with my legs, it was a source of intense comic relief that I absolutely needed in that moment.  It really helped me see that this is all going to be okay.  The weight loss, the pain in my body ... I am doing the best I can and God is seeing me through all of it.

Tomorrow morning I'm taking my mom to my auto mechanic to get her car fixed and I'll be paying her bill because it's just too big for her to handle right now.  But that's okay.  I have the money and I want her to be safe driving in the car.  She works a second shift so she doesn't get out of work until 11:30 p.m. so I don't want to be worrying about her getting stranded on the side of the road in the middle of the night.  Our relationship has definitely evolved from those extremely rough years when I was growing up.  We had a period of 12 years where we didn't speak after that and so now we're in a much better space.  She has her issues and I have mine, but we respect each other as adults.  I won't be giving her the cash to fix the car, but I will be by her side to help her get it fixed.  Getting healthier is not just about taking care of my body but having healthier relationships, too.  My relationship with my mom today is the epitome of that.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pictures really help with perspective

I have been updating some of the pages of my blog and I have gone back to a page I've been avoiding for a little while, my pics of progress page.  I'm a very visual person and seeing pictures of not only where I was before I started losing weight, but how I looked at my smallest weight just a few months ago caused some fear in me so I wasn't willing to open up the page.  Truthfully, I was a little scared about seeing the weight gain on a body I had worked really hard to get smaller.

It was enlightening for me, though.  I was able to reflect back at how miserable I was at various weights before embarking on Optifast.  And, while I was on Optifast, I was amazed at how small I had gotten.  Of course, I still had a long way to go, but I was able to get to my smallest size and really see a difference.  I was also able to see something I didn't see before.  Some people who are close to me have commented recently that while I was on the shakes, my face didn't look healthy, that I was dropping weight just too fast.  I didn't understand what they were talking about but I could see it a little in the pictures.  I definitely was looking very different.  I was exercising all along the way while on Optifast, but let's face it, your body can only take losing so much weight a month without having some consequences.  In the first month alone, I lost 45 pounds.  I was seeing excess skin that was hard to deal with.  Now that I'm off of products, dealing with weight gain and continuing on with my getting healthier plan through WW, I can go slower and take more time with strength training.  When you're on Optifast products, you're not supposed to do any strength training.  I did a ton of cardio, more than I really was supposed to, but no strength training.

In those pictures, I was able to look back at about the weight I'm at right now and it helped me see that I'm not back at my heaviest and that I'm significantly smaller than my top weight.  It was a perspective I really needed to see because, in my mind, I was right back to where I started.  Having gained the weight after all the medication changes that had side effects of weight gain and gaining it so quickly really messed with my head.  I wasn't handling it well so I wasn't eating the best either, trying so hard to deal with the frustration I was feeling.  Besides, getting off the products so fast also was terribly difficult for me. I didn't have a transition period; I just went cold turkey.  While I was on the products, I had absolutely no cravings.  I liked my shakes.  Sure, I was tired of drinking them after a while but I was able to stick to it.  Yet, when I went back to food, this lion in me was reawakened and the cravings were fierce.  I had a period of time where I was really regretting my decision to go on Optifast in the first place because of side effects I was feeling.

Then I realized that, more than anything, I owe a debt of gratitude to the Optifast program because it gave me the confidence and assurance that I have the strength needed to do the work to get healthier.  I lost a lot of weight on that program and have been able to keep a lot of the weight off that I lost, even though I gained some back.  It also awakened something in me to get back into the exercise mode and really enjoy it.  I didn't lose the weight by just drinking the products, but also by sweating my butt off, too.  I love the high it gives me.  I love the way it makes my body feel, even when I'm in pain because at least the pain is much less significant.  It renews me in a way food never could.  More than that, my spirit changed.  As difficult as things have been at times, I am still here and doing the best I can to be in the moment, walking forward.  It isn't perfect all the time.  I have stumbled a lot, but I've gotten back on my feet and keep on this road to something so much greater than I had before.  I know that, during those difficult times, I just need to hang on because this, too, shall pass.  Those hard moments are just moments and things can change in a moment's notice.  I know I'm not alone in this because a lot of people have experienced the same thing.  I'm not unique.

I promise to post more pictures in the future on my progress page.  I am confident that I will get back to where I was and even surpass it.  It's not a contest, but it's a matter of me feeling healthier and living that way.  For now, I get inspiration from those pictures at my smallest weight, knowing that I can do it. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Friend Makin Monday: Blogger to Blogger

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section at: so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

Blogger to Blogger

1. Does your blog have one overwhelming theme? 

My blog is definitely about losing weight and getting healthy, although it's all about me so I will write about whatever strikes me. 

2. How did you come up with the theme(s) for your blog? Was it intentional? 

It was so clear to me what I was wanting to write about getting healthy and being healthy with this blog.  That was my sole purpose in the beginning.  I was embarking on a very drastic undertaking and I knew I needed the support and a place to write about everything I have been going through in make such huge changes.

3. Share something cool that has happened in your life as a result of blogging.

I have met some pretty amazing people.  When I first started writing on my blog, it was truly just for me.  I knew other people might stumble on it someday, probably by accident (ha ha), but I sometimes forget there are people who will actually read this thing once I hit the publish button.  What has come up is a true connection with strangers and friends alike.  I've met people that started reading my blog in person, like Sara or Tessa.  The first time I met Sara, it felt like I was going on a blind date, but with someone that knew me really well!  Then I've met people online like Melissa, who has become a great friend.  Hopefully someday we'll meet.  I've even shared a part of myself with the people that see me everyday at work in a way I never imagined and it has strengthens my friendships with them.  They have been and continue to be such a great support system for me. 

4. How much time to do spend reading blogs everyday?

Probably 1-2 hours, depending on how much time I have.  On some days I only have enough time to post, but then I'll catch up the next time.

5. Do you blog on the weekends?

Yes.  It's a priority for me because it's more than just writing for me.  Living a healthier life happens every day, including on the weekends.  My posts sometimes may be shorter, but I try to do it every day if possible.

6. Do you keep track of your stats? Do they matter to you?

Confession:  I do look at my stats.  I don't live by them, not at all, but it just is fascinating to me how many people have stumbled onto my blog and read it.  The day I was at 10,000 hits was so surreal to me that I don't even know what to think about it now.  I can always tell what topics are more compelling for people to read about, which tends to surprise me a lot.  I even found a link today to my blog from someone's website that was totally random because it was from a book review site.  It was such an unusual link.  I also like to see what countries people are in that read my blog.  I never think about it when I'm writing, though. 

7. How do you decide how much to share about your personal life?

At first, I was a little bit guarded about what I would post, how much detail I'd put up and then I remembered that this is my blog.  So I write about every topic and I don't have a filter any longer.  Good Lord, my weight is posted on my blog.  I definitely don't have a filter on any longer!  When I have shared really personal things about my life, people have told me they have gotten so much inspiration and hope from that.  It means a lot to know that I'm affecting other people in a positive way.

8. Do you aspire to be a writer, or did blogging happen for some other reason?

I personally don't have a desire to be a writer, but I also know that this form of writing helps me to be honest.  I started the blog because I wanted to document my weight loss journey for me and to share with at least one other person that their experience is also my experience.  So, if I can do it, so can they.  I'm such a visual person so for me to see where I've been through pictures I post or reading about incidents after the fact really helps me see how far I've come.  I have so many moments of clarity when I'm writing and get to greater aha moments.  I've had people tell me I need to turn it into a book someday.  Who knows if I'll go down that road, but never say never.

9. As a blogger, do you think it’s more important to write for yourself, or for your readers?

Ultimately I write for myself first, but I am also very aware that people are reading my blog.  My blog is me, one hundred percent, but I may hold back on the f-bombs.  I do bring readers into my posts, though, but it doesn't prevent me from writing what it is I need to write.  If I thought about it too much, I'd probably never post anything.

10. What kind of plans do you have for the future of your blog?

At this point, my blog evolves as I evolve.  I started out with a very simple background and then got a bit more fancy.  For now, I like it just the way it is.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Yuck, I'm annoyed

My day didn't start out well and so here I am writing because at the end of it, I'm annoyed.  I have all next week off of work, so when I'm in vacation mode, I pay no attention to what times I go to bed or get up except when I have something going on.  Last night I went to bed at 1:30, but I had plans to walk with Sara around our usual lake on Sunday mornings, so I wanted to be sure to be rested.  It's hard being dead tired and walking at the same time.

At about 3:30 a.m., I woke up from a deep sleep and realized I had been dreaming.  This is significant for me because I usually don't get really good rest enough to actually dream.  Yet, there I was, scratching my head and wondering why I was dreaming about drugs.  I know ... weird.  Don't ask me why.  The reason that I woke up, though, was because I was sweating, my heart was beating fast and I was very shaky.  I turned on the fan in my bedroom and sat on the edge of the bed in front of it.  I ran my fingers through my hair, which was damp, and then I realized Oh no, my blood sugar must be low.  I haven't experienced an episode like that in a long time.  Lo and behold, my meter did confirm I was too low.  Dang it.  Unfortunately, it has happened enough in the last couple of months that I knew exactly what to do and found the bottle of grape glucose tablets to eat.  Yuck, that sugary feeling in my mouth.  Double yuck.  Maybe that is why I was dreaming about drugs.  I couldn't settle down my racing chest nor could I close my eyes to get more sleep, so I texted Sara around 7 a.m. and asked if we could go walking around noon.  God bless her for being so flexible.  As we were walking around the lake, I really was in a lot of pain.  My legs felt like they were on fire, so I was really happy that we weren't rushing.  Sara did remind me that a lot of people have pain and that I'm not unique.  I completely understand that, but I would like some relief from the pain that is with me all the time.  I mean, I'm trying to do something healthy like walking and I can't do it without pain.  I could understand it more if I knew why I'm having the pain, but this is the chronic pain my rheumatologist told me I have that really does not have a cure.  It may go away, it may not.  We did three miles and I was glad that at least I'd get some activity points from my ActiveLink since walking that distance is definitely above my baseline level of activity for the monitor.

Later on, I talked to my mom.  We were talking about my brother.  She sent him $400 about a week ago because he and his wife have been struggling financially.  He is an electrician and the current economic bust really hit his industry out in Vegas.  My mother was so concerned about him more than usual because he commented to her that the money she gave him would allow him to get his medication.  He underwent a heart transplant seven years ago, so for him to say something like that is, of course, very unsettling.  If he doesn't have the anti-rejection meds in his body, it could be life or death for him.  I then texted him and asked if he needed more money and he said thanks but no thanks, that they were fine now.  So as my mom and I were talking about that, which is something that I brought up, she said to me on the phone, "Now I could use the help."  I knew what that meant ... she wanted to borrow money from me.  Just to have a good picture of the dynamics, my mother is always trying to borrow money.  She has a gambling problem, so I generally do not give her money.  If she's in a jam, I'll pay for the thing she needs like paying her cell phone bill for the month so that she doesn't have it cut off, that sort of thing.  Our roles are most definitely reversed with me being more the responsible adult than she is.  Don't get me wrong, I do love her, even after everything we've been through, but the issue of money is very sensitive to me.  Yet, I will help her if I can, but never by giving her money.  So today, the reason she needs help is the car I gave her two years ago (when I bought my Element) occasionally needs things repaired.  It was already 12 years old when I gave it to her, but Accords last forever if you take care of them.  I told her to take it to my mechanics because I've been going to their shop since I was 17.  They specialize in Hondas and are honest.  Besides, they took care of that car when I owned it.  I've also warned her that she was going to have some money saved up just in case the car needs repairing, as cars frequently do after they've been around for a while..  It was paid off for several years by the time I gave it to her, but being that old is almost a guarantee that it would need things repaired from time to time.  She was told by some other mechanic that she doesn't even know that she's going to need some work and it's going to cost $500.  She believes this guy and I basically told her that he may be right about whatever she needs done, but I can all but guarantee that he may not be honest with her about the true cost of the repairs.  So my condition to my helping her is that we go together to my mechanics and have it checked out there.  She's been so stubborn about going to them, instead opting for people she doesn't know to fix it because they "look honest".  So was Eddie Haskell!  We're going on Tuesday morning and I'll get my oil changed while I'm there.  I was annoyed because this came up with my brother refusing my money, so that's the moment I felt pounced on.  Like I said before, my mother will not know that there is any sort of settlement surrounding the worker's comp injuries.  There's no way I'm about to share that.  No matter what the amount is, that money will never reverse the injuries in my body that are a result of work - they are permanent - so I'm not about to have it thrown around.  Just the thought of that annoyed me.

Then the final annoyance was when I took off my ActiveLink and plugged it into my laptop to see how many activity points I earned.  Walking those three miles was painful today, so at least give me a few activity points for that, please.  I don't really use them to eat more food, even though I'm allowed to do that through Weight Watchers, but I like to see how active I am when I'm really trying.  And how many did I earn?  0.  That's right, nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  Zip.  Oh man was I annoyed by that.  Then I wondered if maybe it was because the intensity level wasn't there.  Maybe my baseline of activity shows me as more active generally and I have to work above that level.  So then I wondered, Okay, if I walked three miles today and didn't earn any activity points, then am I supposed to walk six?  Am I supposed to jog?  Should I kill it when I'm at the gym tomorrow?

So there you have it ... I was annoyed today.  And, okay, truth be told, I'm still annoyed.  I can tell because I can feel my fingers angrily typing the keyboard on this laptop as I'm writing this message.  I don't want any of this to send me in a tailspin of emotions.  The pain in my body is something I'm going to have to learn to live with and understand I have limitations.  I have to work at accepting my mother at the place where she is right now and love her.  And I definitely don't need to kill myself with exercise.  If I can do more, I will, but if I'm already in pain and worried about maintaining a certain level of intense activity, it's going to set me up to wanting to eat something to make myself feel better.  Excuse me, but I'm not about to go there, not today.  I'm heading in the right direction, down, and I want to keep going.  I am going to commit to whoever is reading this that I am going to let the annoyances I felt today go for the rest of the evening, perhaps go to bed at a decent hour to get a good night of sleep and just trust that God is walking next to me as I continue to move forward.  Breathe, Kathy, just breathe.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The power of acupuncture

If you have never had an acupuncture treatment before, I highly recommend it.  It is one of the most relaxing yet deeply spiritual things I've ever done for my body and my soul.  I'm going through the treatments to help with the pain that is always coursing through my body.  Somehow, though, my acupuncturist has this ability to make the tears come out.  She does it before she even lays a hand on my body.  We always sit and talk before she does her work and today I was telling her about everything that has been going on with the pain I've been feeling, the quieting down of the stress around the worker's comp injuries, not being able to sleep well and my body recovering from the toll of being on Optifast products for the better part of a year.  While I lost a ton of weight on the program, there were some negative side effects that I personally went through, one of which was the threat of fainting every time I would arise from a sitting position and another other was the loss of my hair.  I went through other things, too, but those things are enough.  Somehow, all the feelings of everything I have been going through in the last year, let alone the few before that, just came out in a flood of tears that I wasn't prepared for.  I've just been so stressed out, teetering on the edge of collapse I think.  Valentine's Day didn't help me because as I was cleaning out my office the night before and found a picture of my ex-boyfriend on my desk.  He broke my heart and shattered it into a million pieces.  Most of the time I'm fine and I can move forward knowing it's for the best that he is no longer in my life and then at other times it still hurts just as it did when things were still going on. Oh that cowardly bastard, but perhaps that's a story for another time.

It's not as if things are going badly in my life.  Things are actually moving forward and I'm doing the best I can to live in a healthy manner in body, mind and spirit.  But we all have our breaking points. A person can only take so much and I really feel like I've had my fill in the last few years to last me a lifetime.  So, when I was talking with the acupuncturist and she spoke to me in such a compassionate manner, I just found tears falling onto my cheeks.  Today, given how emotionally raw I was, she wanted to spend some time working on my spirit because she told me she could tell I was sad and feeling depressed.  I don't know ... am I?  I haven't put that label necessarily on it, but maybe I am.  I do have some of the symptoms.  And who could blame me if I was.  She told me to lie face up on the table and she would be back shortly.  So, while I waited for her, the tears just kept falling.  I suppose it was a safe place for me to feel whatever I was feeling.  By the time she came back in, they had stopped.  She put needles in unusual places today, on my earlobes and on the outer ridge of my ears.  I just relaxed though, completely trusting the process and letting whatever I was holding inside go.  It was such a calming experience and just what I needed. 

I tend to hold so much inside of me and do a pretty good job most of the time covering up how I'm really doing.  I'm not intentionally covering things up for the most part, but I suppose that has been my nature my entire life.  When I was a child and being abused, I always covered the truth up because I knew, even as a little girl, that the truth would tear apart our family, that it would hurt more than the physical pain of the abuse.  So I became the brave little girl who faced the world in her perfect little dresses with perfect little ponytails and a great big smile always on her cute and sweet little face.  No one would ever guess what was going on behind a closed door.  As an adult, I can see that I do the same thing ... I hold things in because the truth of whatever is inside is what I have held onto for my entire life.  As I get closer to the time that I will meet with the therapist, I am becoming more aware that it is going to be a process of a lot of self-discovery and perhaps dredging up of pain before I can  then move past it enough to finally let it go.  I'm not sitting here in blame of the one or two people who abused me because it was a long time ago and they were sick individuals, but if you don't tell anyone what's going on, where does the pain go?  Now, I'm trying to do things differently but then that means that sometimes things just come gushing out, like with the acupuncturist today.  Yet, I would rather have that than be diving into a carton of ice cream.  I deserve so much better than that.  Let's face it, we all do. 

Who knew that the act of weight loss would be such a soul-searching process.  I sure didn't.  I just wanted to feel healthier.  Yet I know that to feel physically healthier means I will need to dig into why the weight came on in the first place and why it stayed with me for my entire life.  I'm 41 now and I can say with every ounce of certainty in my body that I'm utterly willing to let it go.  I don't want to hurt  in the way I did when I was at my heaviest.  I wish that on no one.  Can you imagine the sort of pain a person has to be living in to weigh 420 pounds, especially as a woman?  Yet, I'm willing to go there because I don't want to be the person of having the experience of weighing 520 pounds or even more.  Who knows what the stopping point is.

Now I'm on a break from work for a week. I made no plans for this week except to ensure I'm getting in some good exercise each day.  I still have class during the week, but it will be nice to spend some time just getting the sleep I don't normally get, maybe visiting with some friends and who knows what else.  It's a week of vacation that I really need and a week I know I'm incredibly grateful for.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Got back on the horse ... okay, the treadmill, but same diff

I had one of my communication classes tonight at the university.  When we started the class three weeks ago, we were in a different room with tables instead of desks.  I'm always the one having a worry about whether or not I'll fit in the desks.  I was convinced, even at my lowest weight, that I couldn't squeeze in them and would embarrass myself in front of other people.  So, for this class, the professor ended up moving us to a bigger room but they have desks.  The first time I saw them, I gulped because I am no longer at my smallest weight.  Granted, I still am 117 pounds down from my top weight, but I wasn't getting a good feeling inside.  By the way, I have five students who are graduates of the high school I work at in my class.  I don't think they've recognized me yet but it was one of the things I was to avoid - not to have college classes with the kids that attended my high school because they likely would have known me when they've come into my office for help.  It's just an awkward situation.  Not to fit in the desk in front of them would have been even more mortifying.  Thankfully, though, I did fit in the desk but just barely.  It still cuts into my tummy and my right side.  When I get up, there are red marks on my skin.  I know that I only have to endure that one time each week because the other class I'm in has bigger desks, but this is the second week that has left me feeling really bad about myself for having gained weight and being in that position to have to worry about fitting in the desk.  Last week I was really upset with the situation and I caught myself feeling the same way during class tonight.  However, I told myself that it's not fair to treat myself in that way because I deserve to be treated in the same way I would treat another person.  While the professor was lecturing, I devised a plan in my head for the rest of the evening that would lend to me not taking it out on food, which was in my mind.

After class was over, I chose not to head to the grocery store, which is where I was planning to go on my way home from school.  We're having a potluck at work tomorrow and I was going to pick something up to make for that.  Then I thought to myself, No, you have absolutely no business going into a grocery store with how you're feeling right now.  So, instead, I decided that going for a workout would be a better idea.  I headed home first to have a healthy snack before working out because I hadn't had anything to eat since 1:00 p.m. and it was already 7:00 p.m.  I knew in my heart that if I didn't have something to eat before working out, my blood sugar would plummet.  But, before I walked in the door, I planned out what my snack would be - a banana and some luncheon meat for protein.  I checked my blood sugar and it was right in the range it was supposed to be in.  Tomorrow's luncheon can have something prepared by the grocery store folks - taking care of myself in the healthiest way possible was far better than bringing something to the potluck that is homemade.

At the gym, I saw the treadmill where I fell and decided to get on one on the other side of the room.  Why chance it!  I started out slow and a little gingerly because I really didn't want to fall again.  Just in case, I completely familiarized myself with where the emergency button is to stop the treadmill.  Everything happened so fast when I fell the other day that I don't think I even had time to look for it.  I took my time stretching before getting started, did a warm up and then I was at regular pace.  It felt really good knowing that I was taking great care of my body with the exercise and healthy snack.  And oh man was I really moving ... there was sweat dripping down my chest and soaking part of my shirt.  My body was really happy that I was taking care of it, though.  I am always in pain between my arms, back and legs, but the exercise helps tremendously for my back and legs.  It doesn't take the pain away necessarily, but it gives those parts a good stretch and takes some of the edge off.  I ended up doing three in a half miles in an hour and I was so happy I made the decision to go there. 

When I got home, I had a really healthy meal and felt proud of the good choices I made.  I have been using the Weight Watcher's Active Link.  It's their version of a Fit Bit.  You put this little device on your body and it tells you how much you've been active in the day and turns all of that into activity points.  In Weight Watchers, every food you eat is assigned a point value based on the amount of fat, carbs, fiber and protein is present in that food.  You are also assigned a certain number of points to eat per day based on your height and age.  So I have 47 points.  I can also use any activity points I have earned towards more food if I choose since I'm more active.  With the Active Link, the bummer is that you have to spend eight days setting a baseline, which is where it measures your typical activity so that it can help you set goals for the day.  Today was the first day, after completing the assessment, that I could finally see how many activity points I ended up with.  The problem with my day is that I do a lot of sitting in my job, so I have to make a point of getting up to stretch.  My back appreciates when I do that.  So I'll do things like put my lunch in one of the refrigerators in the staff lounge instead of keeping it at my desk so I'm forced to get up to get my snacks or lunch.  Or I'll drink a lot more water so I know I'll be making trips to the restroom more frequently.  The goal set by the Active Link is for me to earn two activity points per day.  Today I did six, which, according to the program, is the highest zone for physical activity.  What was hilarious is it told me that I spent 37 minutes running today.  No, I didn't run but I looked to see where it said I did that and it was while I was on the treadmill.  I must have been walking fast enough to feel like I was running.  That could explain why I was sweating it up.Anyway, all in all, it was a pretty good day.  I'm so grateful to feel peaceful at the end of the day. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Feeling vindicated

I had to laugh at myself today.  Today was the first day I had to work with the splint the doctor gave me after my treadmill incident on Saturday.  I wore it yesterday but it was easier not having to work.  Check me out.

Insert the middle finger jokes here ;-)  Some of you already have after seeing this pic posted on Facebook or seeing me today.  It gave me a good laugh because after everything I've been going through lately with all the medical stuff, this just seemed so ridiculous!  I had so many people asking me what happened that I finally would say, "I had a fight with the treadmill and it won."  Truly, I'm thanking nothing was broken or sprained.  I have decided that I'm going to wait until I'm completely healed before signing up with the personal trainer.  I know that he or she is going to have a lot to work around with my medical issues that I don't need to add one more.

On to my vindication.  As I posted before, I received the medical report on my work injuries back from the doctor on Friday.  While I haven't finished reading all parts of the report yet, I did speak with my attorney today about where I stand.  It has been a long haul for me with all of this.  These injuries and dealing with the worker's comp system go back a couple of years.  I have dealt with people who have accused me making my injuries appear bigger than they think they are, questioning why I'm still getting medical care and even being harassed.  I won't go into too many details until everything is settled, but trust me when I say that there has been an immense amount of stress on my shoulders in dealing with all of this.  I have worked for my district for 24 years and I was simply doing my job, so to have to deal with the negativity from a couple of key players has been pretty difficult.  My attorney went over the report with me and told me the final percentage of my disability since I am now being declared "permanent and stationary", meaning my condition will not improve from where I'm at right now.  Because we went with an arbitrator, that decision on my status is the final one.

So now we're looking at settling the case, which involves a stipulation of future medical care.  I was clear with the attorney that the biggest issue for me is that I will be receiving future medical care, coverage of all expenses incurred for my various medical appointments/procedures and having the attorney's fees covered.  She explained to me everything that this would cover and was clear to tell me that the doctor's finding completely vindicates me of any questions around the severity of the injuries.  Having her put it that way to me was such a heavy weight off of my shoulders.  It's not as if I have to explain anything to anybody, but my integrity has been questioned during this process and I sort of feel like flinging the report in the face of those that acted that way towards me.  Maybe this is where the middle finger joke should be inserted!  In addition to the medical coverage is also a monetary award that is based on the level of permanent disability.  The attorney's fees will come out of this settlement amount.  As I've said before, I was never after money - I just wanted the medical care.  I have decided that I will not be discussing the dollar amount with my mother.  While it isn't a huge amount of money, it may be in her eyes and, as much as I love her, she has a problem with handling money.  She's the one that you will always find at the Indian casinos on the weekends and spends all night playing blackjack whenever we go to visit my brother in Vegas. Once she finds out that there is a settlement, I know she'll be asking me about it. 

The attorney did express that while this is the ending of one part of the process, it does not mean it's over because I've got the right to the medical care.  If they find that my condition is getting worse, the doctor will reevaluate to determine if the level of disability should be changed.  The attorney will still be involved.  I'm so grateful for the help from them that because I couldn't even imagine doing this on my own without their expertise.  Now I have to continue walking forward and dealing with the emotions that all of the stress of this has brought up for me.  Hopefully I can breathe a little easier knowing that the truth has come out.  I can definitely use a little less stress in my life.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The very emotional side of my journey

When I embarked on this odyssey of getting healthier and losing weight, I just knew the process would be highly emotional.  Yet, I don't think I was as prepared as I thought I was.  Food has been an addiction for me in my life, just as the alcoholic is addicted to alcohol or the drug addict is addicted to whatever substance will give a high.  So, too, am I in a dance with food.  My escape from it is non-existent because, let's face it, we do have to eat to survive.  There has got to be a different relationship with it because it was always the go-to thing if I was bored, angry, happy, sad or whatever the emotion was.  It is not the avenue I can choose any longer to deal with things or help me walk through life or even to treat as a friend.  It's no friend of mine!  What that means for me is that it leaves me raw and extremely vulnerable. As a result, I'm finding myself feeling every emotion much more strongly than I have allowed myself in the past while the food was there to help me wade through.  It's not as if I was even thinking to myself, Hmm, I better eat these chips to help me because I'm upset.  Instead, it's opening that bag of chips, eating half of them and then finally realizing what I was doing only to then think, Oh well, I already screwed that up so I might as well finish the whole bag.  That sets up a never ending cycle that brings a person to 420 pounds.

You're probably wondering if something has happened to bring me to this train of thought.  Yes and no.  The no comes because I know that as the weight has come off of my body, I was going to have to deal with the reasons why I ate in the first place.  Invariably that means that I would have to deal with my entire life because I have always been overweight and, more accurately, obese.  I couldn't just leave all those reasons sealed tight behind a door.  Believe me, I want to, with everything in me I want to leave the past in the past.  The problem with that is if I don't deal with the past, it will come with me into the future.  I've had to deal with these feelings as I've lost weight and also as I've gained weight.  The last several months have been extremely difficult for me in seeing weight that I worked so hard at taking off come right back on my body.  All the various medications that I've been on included some that cause weight gain.  As a result of the frustration with that and other physical issues that I will get to in a moment, it has caused me to pick up food and eat when I knew I wasn't physically hungry and making choices of certain food to have over healthier versions.  The frustration I have felt has come out in the food I've eaten.  As it's gotten cleaner, I have to deal with these things in another way - walking through it.  It's really not even just the issues of the weight gain but also the fear of being in a smaller body when I have spent my entire life in a bigger one. 

So that brings me to the yes of something happening to lead me to my train of thought in this post.  As I've made decisions for myself that include not just living healthier physically, I've also moved forward on healing on the inside as well.  That means making the appointment to see a therapist, it means more time spent journaling and most definitely more time spent praying as I lean on God to help me walk through all of this.  And when I have things that come up for me, I have to choose to deal with them differently.  This last week has been especially clean with my food as I've started my new program and that feels really good, but it also leaves me very raw.  I've had some significant blows this week on the physical front that I'm dealing now and trying the best I can to walk through. 

As I shared earlier in the week, I saw my rheumatologist about the pain in my legs.  Based on all the tests that have been run and examinations I've had, it appears to be a type of chronic pain that I'm going to have to live with.  It may leave me, it may get worse or it may be this way permanently.  Given that I'm in pain every single day from it, that was a blow.  Did I eat over it?  No.  Yes, I wanted to but I didn't go there.  The weight gain has caused me a lot of emotional pain, more than I can ever really describe, but it was enough pain that I knew the diagnosis from the rheumatologist could not be filtered through food of any sort.  Then I received a bigger blow on Friday.

I've shared on here before that I've been dealing with some work injuries for quite a while and have been in the middle of the worker's comp world.  It's a place I hope no one that is reading this ever has to be a part of.  The people at my workplace have been great and so accommodating as I've had to deal with my injuries by going to medical appointments, changing some of my duties around so that I'm not using my hand strength as much and just being overall very supportive.  My experience with the insurance company and other people associated with my claim, however, has been very different.  Thankfully I have an attorney to help me wade through all of this, but I have felt very attacked through this process and I personally can't wait for it to be over.  The latest with all of this is that I have been seen by a QME, who is a doctor that is neutral that does a thorough examination, runs more tests if necessary, reviews all records and comes to a conclusion as to a worker's level of disability and determination on whether or not this is a permanent condition.  On Friday, I received the 53-page report he wrote on the status of my medical condition when it comes to those injuries.  I haven't read the entire thing yet because it was very difficult for me emotionally to read what he wrote, but essentially my condition is now permanent. When I received the report on Friday, I shared with couple of friends at work the findings, but it hadn't yet hit me as to what it all meant.

Yesterday I decided that I needed to stop thinking about it and go for a good workout.  So I headed over to my gym.  It was in the middle of the afternoon with not too many people in the gym.  I found a treadmill in the back row, which is usually where I like to go.  I brought my iPhone with me to listen to music while I walked on the treadmill.  This is something I usually do, so it's not distracting for me.  I stretched my legs before starting the treadmill, so it was feeling really good and I was getting pumped up to do a few miles.  At about 2-3 minutes into my warm up, where I walk slower to get ready for a faster pace, my phone rang.  I didn't have the earpiece in that would let me take a call, so I decided that I'd let the phone ring.  I looked down at it to see who was calling and I think that's when I lost my footing.  My knees hit the moving belt on the treadmill and then my hands until I was on the ground next to it.  And, of course there were people right next to me.  They saw what happened and asked me if I was okay.  It reminded me of one of those scenes from The Biggest Loser where the contestants, during the first week of being on the show, fall of their treadmills because they couldn't keep up.  It wasn't as if I was going fast, just one of those freak things.  I stopped the treadmill and got back on.  I had a moment where I thought to myself that I should turn around and go right back home.  But, I just knew that if I left and went home, I might be getting ice to put on it, but I would definitely be in the food and eating over this.  I started back slowly, holding onto the sides just to be sure I didn't fall again and eventually did three miles.  I then went over to the recumbent bike and spent some time on there as well.  By this time, the pain in my fingers from bracing myself for the fall was intense.  My legs were starting to hurt, too.  I hadn't even looked at them yet.  When I got home, I saw that two of the fingernails on my left hand had bleeding underneath and one of those fingers is black.  I don't think it's broken, but it is very bruised.  Then I saw my legs had dragging marks on my shins and knees, with bleeding there as well.  I grabbed some ice and then got on the phone to call a friend I had plans with to cancel.  That's when the tears finally came.  Not from just the treadmill episode, but all of it ... the worker's comp stuff, the leg pain and more.  In fact, to give you a full picture, here's everything I'm dealing with physically:
  • Osteoarthritis in both knees
  • Diabetes that is being currently controlled through diet and exercise, with episodes of low blood sugar (although much less than it used to be) and slight neuropathy in my feet that from when the diabetes was out of control before - leaves my feet in pain at times
  • Sleep apnea that has gotten better with the more weight I lose, but I can't use one of those machines because I can't fall asleep with it on my face since I'm a tummy sleeper so I have a very hard time getting a good night's sleep most of the time
  • Unexplained muscle pain starting from my knees all the way up through my hips, leaving me unable to do certain physical activity without extreme difficulty
  • Degenerative disc disease in my back with spine narrowing (much more complicated than I'm describing but this is the gist of it) that leaves me very uncomfortable if I'm sitting for longer than an hour
  • Carpel tunnel in both arms which is recommended for eventual surgery, as well as median neuropathy in my forearms and right wrist  and associated muscle tenderness
  • Scar tissue damage from the tendon release surgery I had in my right hand that leaves me in excruciating pain by the end of the day depending on how much I used my hand - hurts more with the more computer work and/or writing I do
As you can see, it is a lot to deal with.  I do have some pain medication that takes the edge off, but I am always in pain of some sort.  In the meantime, I'm also continuing on weight loss, working full time and going to school as well.  Just seeing it all listed in one place reminds me that I definitely do have a lot on my plate.  On the flip side, it does show me that I am a resilient person who is tougher than I give myself credit for.  Seeing a therapist through all of this is long overdue, that's for sure.  If you are embarking on a similar journey of weight loss or just getting healthier, don't underestimate the emotional side.  It is very important to be present enough to deal with it.  I know that, for me, I need to keep taking this one day at a time.  I can let yesterday go and look forward to the day I have in front of me.  It's supposed to be nice weather here in San Diego today and I don't have to work.  I get to do whatever I want to do and that's a nice feeling. 

Oh, by the way, I lost five pounds this week.  Hooray!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Oh the pain!

Curses ... I should never say how anxious I am to get some good sleep, like last night when I posted on my blog.  I didn't get much sleep at all. I dealt with it, though, aided by some lovely caffeine.  I had the appointment with the rheumatologist this morning.  He's an arthritis specialist who I first went to see when they suspected that I might have rheumatoid arthritis.  Today's appointment was to see how the pain in my legs was going and how I'm managing.  Just to give a little context, I began having significant pain in my legs when I started Optifast a year ago.  Prior to that, I did have osteoarthritis in my left knee from a previous injury, but then I started to develop this immense pain in my upper legs, hips and pelvis.  Just imagine having not exercised for a while and then going to the gym and giving your hardest workout, leaving you with major muscle soreness the next morning.  That's how my legs feel everyday, but the pain never subsides.  The last time I went to see the rheumatologist, he ruled out R.A. and suspected it might be fibromyalgia (which has since been ruled out as well).  He did discover osteoarthritis in my right knee, so now I've got it in both.  He put me on some heavy duty meds in addition to the neurologist putting me on other pain meds.  I have had every test possible to rule things out.  I've seen a physical therapist for the pain and am currently getting acupuncture treatment.  So, the doctor explained that, in addition to the osteoarthritis, I've got myofascial pain syndrome.  Basically what that is is localized chronic pain that comes on sometimes for unexplained reasons.  For some patients, the pain goes away eventually, while others have the experience of it getting worse and the rest just feel the same with no change over time.  My pain is real and it is very uncomfortable, but thankfully it is not another disease.  While it hurts, I still have functioning with limitations.  The best course of action for me is to continue on the pain meds (I am going to talk to my primary care doctor about changing one of the meds because it has made me gain lots of weight) while also building strength in my legs.  He recommends I have some sort of low impact aerobic activity on my legs every day and continue with the exercises the physical therapist gave me to do.  He's also recommending an education class through Kaiser that teaches patients how to manage chronic pain.

Although the news was tough to take, realizing that I'm going to have to remain in pain for the time-being, I also got another reminder that this is why I embarked on my whole weight loss journey in the first place.  I want to feel healthier.  Continuing to take the weight off will help with the joint and muscle pain. I decided that I'm going to splurge on myself and get a personal trainer at the gym to help me with doing the right kind of exercises and working on the right weight machines to help with the pain.  I know there's an expense that comes with that, but I'm worth it.  Damn skippy I'm worth it!  Besides, this is another level of support and self-care that I want.  It's okay to go after what I want, especially when it comes to my health.  It's very hard living in the sort of pain that I do,  so if I can do things that will help bring me some relief, I'm all for that.

Speaking of weight loss, things are going well on the Weight Watcher's front.  With each new day that I'm managing my plan of eating through the program, the more comfortable I am feeling with it.  One of the things that I didn't want to do is treat the weight loss as another diet I'm going on until I'm done.  I want it to be a lifestyle that is sustainable over the long haul.  I don't want to feel obsessed with food, feeling fear around it as though I'm clinging to safety of a life raft.  And I can honestly say I don't feel that way at all on this plan.  I love knowing I can eat healthy without feeling deprived and enjoy the variety of food at the same time.  I've been experimenting with new recipes and doing lots of writing as I go through the success journal that I recently got through their store.  I've even lost a few pounds already since Saturday.  That feels really good, so I'll take it!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

That thousand pound telephone

I'm doing pretty well so far on the commitments I made for myself that I posted on Sunday.  Yeah, I know it's only Tuesday, but let's see ...
  • Pack my lunch/snacks the night before work for the next day. Done.
  • Continuing to track every food I have in my WW tracker, no matter what. Done.
  • Figuring out what I'll wear the night before so that I have plenty of time to eat breakfast in the morning and other things I need to do before heading out the door without rushing. Done.
  • Setting up a fruit bowl on my dining room table which is where I will go for easy to grab snacks.  I might even consider doing one at work, too.  Done.
  • Putting my workout clothes in see-through bins in my bedroom so that they are in plain sight as a reminder to exercise.  In fact, tomorrow I plan on bringing my clothes with me so that I can go for a workout on my way home from work. Done.
  • At some point this week, I will look into scheduling an appointment to meet with a therapist through Kaiser. And a big fat DONE
I am the first one to admit that preparing takes a lot more work than just dealing with things as I go.  Packing my lunch and picking out clothes the night before does take more work but it's more than worth the time.  The mornings don't seem as harried and I know that I'm taking good care of myself.  The biggest accomplishment on the list, by far, was the phone call I made to get the ball rolling on therapy.  I have to say that I was feeling the nervous nellies in my tummy as I picked up the phone but it was the bravest thing I did today.  Brave? Seriously??  Yes, brave.  It was a step in continuing to walk toward putting the past behind me and daring to adventure into an unknown land.  It's me not willing to accept a life where I am a miserable 420 pounds.  As the assistant was asking me questions to see what type of therapy I need, I could feel the tears well in my eyes.  It wasn't out of fear or feeling scared, but I think more a sense of relief that I am facing demons head on.  The soonest appointment I could get was February 28th, unfortunately.  I did ask her to put me on a waiting list if any cancellations come up.  She acted like it was a big deal and told me she would have to get her supervisor involved.  Instead of backing down, I thanked her and told her I would appreciate that.  Otherwise, I would have to wait until mid-March just for the initial meeting, which is where I complete the paperwork, meet with a therapist and we go over a treatment plan.  The only bummer is that I have a community college coming onto our campus to conduct a workshop at the high school on the 28th, so I'm hoping one of our counselors can help with that so that I can keep the appointment.  I always hate to impose on them since they are just as busy as I am, but I also know they all care for me deeply.  Hopefully there will be a cancellation and I won't have to wait so long.  I'm one of those people who, once they make a decision, they want to take action on it now.

One of the fun things I did today was I finally got myself a little activity tracker.  I have been talking about getting a Fitbit or something similar for a couple of months now.  It's a little device that tracks your steps and other activity throughout the day and shows how many calories you're burning.  I didn't end up getting that little gadget, but I did get the Weight Watcher's version, Active Link.  It's a little gadget that looks like a thumb drive that I wear on my body.  It tracks my movements for seven full days to get a baseline of my activity to help me set fitness goals.  Then, the following week, I'll be able to see how active I am each day.  Then, when it's plugged into the computer, it syncs with my WW account and converts all my movement into activity points.  I currently am allotted 47 points for food on a daily basis and activity points converts to add to my daily total.  Let's face it, the more active we are, the more food we require to keep up energy levels.  I'm still learning as I go with how WW works, but so far it's been good.  While I was at the Weight Watcher's store buying my Active Link, I bought this really awesome success package they put together for new people.  For $40, it comes with a recipe book with meal ideas, a workout video, diary for tracking my food manually, a workbook that has strategies for being successful on the program, measuring cups and measuring tape all in a too-cute-for-words carrying case.

Look, you can even see my bowl of fruit ;-)

I am doing everything I can to be as successful as possible.  I feel like a sponge just soaking it all up, but that's not a bad thing at all.  My goal is to do whatever they tell me successful people in the program do and to do it without question.  I have a really open mind about it all and staying positive, I think, is half the battle.

Tomorrow morning I have an appointment with my rheumatologist.  I'm hoping we can get closer on figuring out what is causing the pain I've had in my upper legs for the last year.  I'm really tired of not feeling well and living with something for a year with no explained reason can't be good.  Hopefully I'll have more to report after I see him. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Great test results

I received some really great test results back today.  Every three months, I have blood work done that shows my average daily blood sugar.  Doctors want diabetics to have an average blood sugar reading called an A1C of 7% or under.  Just as a frame of reference, a year ago when I started to lose weight, my A1C level was 9.9%, which is completely out of an acceptable range.  I eventually started dropping that number the longer that I was on Optifast, going to an all-time low of 5.9%  A "normal" person (meaning someone that does not have diabetes) is a 6% or less.  So, while I was on the products, I was considered normal.  Being off the fast and on regular food now since about October or so, I naturally assumed my levels would return to something higher.  So here's where I'm at right now.

If you can see, the last three readings have been exactly the same with the straight line since September ... 5.9%.  It's an amazing testament to how important weight loss is and how it can drastically change things if you look at where I was in 2011. While I have suffered some episodes of my blood sugar being too low, it looks like I didn't go too low to have a drastic affect thankfully.  I still do make a point of watching the carbs that I take into my system, but I'm so thrilled to know I've been steady at the same point for some time now.  It reminds me to stay the course and continue taking good care of myself.

Sometimes taking care of ourselves is easier said than done.  I chatted with a friend today I haven't had an opportunity to talk to for a while and ended up in tears.  It wasn't a bad thing.  We actually were both in tears for different reasons, but it was just another release of what has been building up inside of me.  It's different if I spill my guts on here and write behind a screen about how I'm doing and how I'm feeling than it is to sit in front of another human being who is a friend.  It's like all the resolve that you have to be tough and just soldier through gets broken down.  I have some really terrific friends and people I work with that have become really wonderful friends.  I am blessed to work in a place where people really care about one another, even if we have our moments of getting on each others' last nerve!  This is exactly why I wanted to continue in a support group as I lose the weight and not trying to do it on my own.  It's so important to write about things that are going on and equally as important to feel them.  I have been so emotional lately, but that's a good thing I think.  It's about breaking down walls that I put up to "protect" myself.  I act as though things don't hurt me when they really stab at my insides and it's just not good to keep it bottled up inside.  I have done that all of my life and it got me to 420 pounds, so no more of that. 

I never did hear back from my Optifast counselor today after leaving him the message that I was leaving the group, but I didn't really expect to.  It was just a little disappointing because he was always rooting for me.  I'm looking forward to really embracing WW and the new people I'm sure I'll get to know there.  One thing I already love is that my weigh-in time is now in the morning instead of at the end of the day.  You guys know what I'm talking about ... after a full day of having your meals and drinking all of your water and then you're going to weigh in??  I don't think so!  Another day coming to a close and I'm looking forward to getting some really good sleep. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Commitments for the coming week

I have been forgetting to call my counselor at the Optifast clinic to let him know I was leaving the group, so I decided to just leave him a message on his voicemail today.  I felt a little weird leaving a message like that for him, but I never really catch him at his desk or I'm working and can't really talk to him.  I have to say that I got the nervous nellies in my tummy as I was picking up my phone to call.  I don't know where that came from since my decision is very firm that I'm moving on. It's understandable, though ... Optifast has been a part of my life for the last year, in some form or another.  I've had the same counselor the whole way through and he was incredibly supportive.  It was hard making the decision to leave that to go down a different road, although not something I'm regretting.  I don't want anyone getting the wrong impression about the program.  While I couldn't stay on it the entire time because of medical issues, I did lose a lot of weight on it.  Of course, there are things about it that I wish it were different because when I went back to food, it was extremely difficult for me and I just don't think I was prepared enough for how hard it really would be.  However, there are some people that go on it, lose their weight and go off of it with absolutely no problems.  I'm glad it works so seamlessly for them.  For me, it was the first half of my journey.  The most important part was that it showed me how strong I am and how absolutely resilient (maybe stubborn?) I can be so that I know I can make it through the next part of the journey. 

For this coming week, I'm committing here that I'm going to follow through on some changes WW suggests for success on the program.  It's not even just with the food, but with some lifestyle changes, too.  Here's what my plan is:
  • Pack my lunch/snacks the night before work for the next day.
  • Continuing to track every food I have in my WW tracker, no matter what.
  • Figuring out what I'll wear the night before so that I have plenty of time to eat breakfast in the morning and other things I need to do before heading out the door without rushing.
  • Setting up a fruit bowl on my dining room table which is where I will go for easy to grab snacks.  I might even consider doing one at work, too.  
  • Putting my workout clothes in see-through bins in my bedroom so that they are in plain sight as a reminder to exercise.  In fact, tomorrow I plan on bringing my clothes with me so that I can go for a workout on my way home from work.   
I have one more I want to add that is not part of WW:  at some point this week, I will look into scheduling an appointment to meet with a therapist through Kaiser.  It's time.  I have avoided this for a long time, probably years, because I have history with therapy.  What I mean by that is that things come out in sessions with a therapist, things that I probably wanted buried and didn't want to deal with, things that I am certain will make me cry.  I've shared on here before that I had a pretty horrible childhood that included abuse and sexual assault towards me, which resulted in some pretty horrible adult years and food was the thing that was my coping mechanism.  I don't sit in hate in any longer about that time and I have forgiven the abusers, but that doesn't mean I've treated myself in the same way.  And I know that when I get stressed out, frustrated, sad, happy - whatever the emotion is, I pick up food to help me deal with that feeling.  I've never been thin before, having always had this issue in my life, and I don't want to get down to a normal weight only to put it all back on again.  Even as small as I got before I gained some weight back caused some of those feelings to surface.  So, as much as I don't want to see a therapist, I know that it is something I absolutely must do if I want to continue moving forward in the most healthy way possible. 

I'm in a good space right now as I type this, feeling some much needed peace that I haven't felt for a long while.  My body is still feeling pain, but I'm seeing the rheumatologist later this week to deal with my leg pain and I know I'm doing everything I can to find some relief in that realm as well.  Putting one foot in the front of the other is the best thing for me.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Walking back into the room

As I shared in my last post, I started Weight Watchers today to begin the second leg of my weight loss journey.  I was prepared for a weight gain because I'm back on some pain medication that made me gain weight before.  My doctor, who wasn't the one that originally prescribed this particular medication, wanted me to go back on it.  I couldn't remember the exact reason I got off of it before in the moment when we were discussing it a couple of weeks ago, but then I remembered that it was the one that made me gain a significant amount of weight.  I thought that I'd stick it out, though, because maybe I just didn't give it a shot before to see if it could alleviate some of my pain.  Unfortunately, weight gain has happened again with it.  This time I knew, without a shadow of doubt, that it was the medication and not me.  I blamed myself the last time because I couldn't believe that a medication would make someone gain that much.  This time I have been diligent about logging my food and really watching myself.  Even with mistakes I made or poor choices, it still could not have led to the gain.  However, I took it pretty well when I weighed in at the WW meeting.  I'm now back over 300 pounds, which was heartbreaking to me in the moment I found out, but also was a catalyst for me to know I'm doing the right thing by leaving one group behind that hasn't been working for a while now and moving forward with another choice.  I also have to remember and constantly remind myself that I am not where I used to be, not by a long-shot.  I'm still 111.6 pounds less than my highest weight and that's not something I can ever take for granted or push to the side as no big deal.  It is a very big deal.  And now I continue to move forward.

I have been on WW before, several times in my life.  The last time was purely online a while before I started Optifast.  So, during that time, I never went to in-person meetings and never felt that connectedness that comes from the group dynamics.  This time I decided that I want the group, in fact I need the group.  I appreciated it so much when I was on the Optifast products.  We are there to encourage each other and celebrate our mutual accomplishments.  It's a big deal to know you're not doing this alone.  I'm slowly wading through all of the materials, but I have decided that I'm all in.  Whatever they suggest I do, I'm doing.  I'm not acting as though I know everything because I've already lost so much weight.  In some ways, I know nothing!  Although I have the weekly meetings, I also decided to subscribe to the online tools that they have too because it helps tremendously with planning my meals, giving great tips on how to navigate successfully while following the plan and just offering an online community of support.  They are also focusing on non-scale items as well, which I like.  It can't be about just the number on the scale ... it has to be an entire shift in lifestyle.  Some new components to the program since the last time I did it include how to shape up your routines and your spaces.  So, for example, a routine can be making sure that you're eating a fruit/veggie with every meal.  I'm sure I'll go into program specifics as time goes on.  I'm on a little bit of an information overload right now, so I'm still trying to digest it all.

The one thing I do have to be careful about is marrying the two worlds of being on WW while also being a diabetic.  Since I've been dealing with low blood sugars and periodic high blood sugars (such as I had with the recent cortisone injections), I have to be especially careful to follow the advice of my dietitian from Kaiser in conjunction with the WW plan.  Here's an example.  There are certain foods that WW allows you to eat with no limits.  Each food is designated with a point number based on the combination of fat, protein, carbs and fiber.  Most fruits and veggies have a point value of 0 with a few exceptions.  However, as a diabetic, I can't eat an unlimited amount of bananas, for example.  I am well aware of that, though, so I'm paying attention to what I'm eating to ensure I'm having balanced meals.

Today was a good first day for me.  I'm so glad that I made this decision for myself, as hard as it was to walk away from the Optifast world.  Had I not had medical issues, I'd likely still be on the shakes.  Yet, as I have always believed, everything happens for a reason.  Sometimes, in the moment, I have no idea why things happen the way they do but I understand if I just look back afterwards.  Hindsight is always 20/20, isn't it?  Truthfully, I'm pretty excited about this part of my journey.  I have not been knocked down, despite all the medical issues I've been dealing with that includes weight gain.  I'm still moving forward.  Truly, this is where the rubber meets the road.