Sunday, March 31, 2013

Taking the time to prepare

I have found that the best way to ensure I have a good day of eating is to plan what I will be eating and make my lunch the night before.  I have tried many times to make a lunch in the morning before heading off to work, but it kills me and I tend to rush through so my choices are not always the best.  I remember times of making a stir fry at 5:00 in the morning.  I can't express how not of a morning person I am, so it's either not enough food or not the right kind of food.  I actually tend to lean on the side of not enough food and then I end up really hungry by the time I get home from work and want to start grazing in the kitchen.  One of the things I did tonight was to brown some lean ground turkey, weigh and measure three-ounce portions into containers and put them in the fridge.  I will add that to a salad, which I have already made for tomorrow as well as portioned out salad dressing.  I'll add a piece of fruit to that and - boom - I've got lunch.  It just amazes me how many meals I can get out of a package when I weigh and measure out portions.  In one package for the ground turkey, I was able to make enough for five meals.  Three ounces is actually a lot and didn't feel like I was depriving myself at all.

I have been on vacation for the last week, so while I'm not necessarily looking forward to going back to work, I am looking forward to getting back to the routine of regular daily life.  I know it's going to be busy at work, but I always do so much better with structure.  During vacation, I tend to eat meals later, may even end up skipping some food because of activities so I do look forward to being more on a normal, even keel.  I'm also looking forward to walking during lunch.  My friend and I usually end up walking 1.5-3 miles, depending on which course we take.  Occasionally I have even gone out alone if she isn't able to go.  The most important thing is that I get out there and walk.  Then, depending on my day, I may also get more exercise at the gym or do some weight training later on in the evening.  I just have to gauge how my body feels.  I have to listen to it.  If I'm in too much pain but have already gotten some exercise, then I need to be okay with that.  I aim for at least thirty minutes of exercise every day in some form or another.  I have had times in my life where I was an over-exerciser, an "exercise bulimic"some have called it.  I rationalized that if one hour of working out was good, two, three or more was even better.  That is a dangerous place for me to be.  I understand that it does not have to be black or white, even in exercise.

For this coming week, I am committing here that I will make my lunch the night before and make a plan for some exercise.  I generally do that, but I want to remember how important it is for me to take good care of my body.  It's the only one I have and it gives me the best chance of being as healthy as possible every single day.  In fact, when I do a good job of planning, I actually enjoy my meals a lot more.  Have you noticed that for yourself?  When I have strawberries now, for example, they are incredibly sweet and delicious.  I never notice how fantastic fruits and veggies taste when I'm not doing well with having nutritious meals.  They don't have to be boring to be good for me.  I spent so many years just not treating myself well with eating junk and I know I deserve so much better than that.  Especially with today being Easter, I can't take sacrifices made for granted.  I have made my own sacrifices, spending a year in the Optifast world and I don't want to lose the significance of that. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Running the gamut

In the last couple of days, I definitely have been experiencing a whirlwind.  There has been major disappointment, change and facing some challenges.  I feel at times that I'm really being tested by my faith.  How will I handle the things in front of me - will I eat over them or stay in the moment and deal with them? 

First off, I had a major disappointment happen with my worker's comp situation.   Since it's not settled quite yet, I don't think I can go into it here right now.  However, I can say that this whole situation has really made me look at the things I have taken for granted in the past.  You always expect that you will heal from injuries and I am facing the reality that it just won't be the case for this.  It's hard to deal with, especially when I see other people easily able to do things I used to do as well.  It can be small things like writing for an extended period of time without pain, sitting in a chair with no back pain or bigger things like holding a newborn in my arms.  I have a friend who I will be seeing soon that had a baby a few weeks ago and I won't be able to hold her little girl.   Those things are disappointing, yet I'm also grateful that at least I still have as much functioning as I do.  There are always people worse off and I must always remember that.

On the change front, I started taking my new medication.  The doctor is weening me onto it slowly while taking me off another one.  At the beginning of next week, I will be on the new pills full force.  One of the possible benefits of this new prescription is that it had the potential to help with the pain I have been having in my legs.  I'm happy to report that I'm already feeling better.  I still have pain there, but much less than it has been without it in my system.  I also am feeling peppier and getting better sleep, so those are major pluses.  It's always a challenge for me to introduce new medication into my system because I really don't enjoy taking something into my body that comes in the form of a pill.  However, I also take the perspective that at least I have the option to do that.  There are many conditions in this world that cannot be alleviated or helped in some way by medication, so I'm humbled by the fact that at least I get the relief I do.

And now what's left for me to talk about is facing challenges.  I went to my first therapy appointment yesterday.  Oh man, it was tough, but all in a good way.  At first, the encounter with the therapist was a little adversarial and I realized the reason was because we both have the same type of personality.  We were kind of talking over each other so we both stepped back, addressed concerns and then we were perfectly fine.  I didn't want to just spill everything during my first encounter with her.  It will all come out organically, I'm sure.  We talked a lot about what happened when I was on Optifast, what happened after I went back to regular food coupled with medication that made me gain weight and where I'm at today.  I cried a lot, to be honest.  For those of you who are or were on it, I know probably one of the biggest fears you have is what I am living through right now ... how you will feel after gaining some weight back.  Actually, this is true for any weight loss program, not just Optifast.  My feelings of failure, shame, heartbreak and everything else associated with how I have felt came out full-force during the session.  She was incredibly kind and supportive.  One of the things that we will be working through in the sessions is how I can make behavioral changes through cognitive therapy.  She reminded me that there is never an end point to change - we're never too young or too old to make change. We talked about the fact that I have black-and-white, perfectionist thinking.  That is sooo true for me, I mean duh!  That has been with me for my entire life.  I really expressed to her that I am open and willing to try whatever she suggests.  After all, that is why I decided to pursue counseling in the first place.  She did recommend a book for me to read so I will attempt to find it and start working on that.  I won't be able to see her for a few more weeks, but I do have some things to work on before I see her again.  Just going to the appointment and asking for help was a pretty big deal for me.  It's letting someone in and that's rough to do for me because it leaves me feeling very exposed.  That's probably why I've always had a type "A" personality - as long as I'm in control, then I can control my feelings, too.  When I decided that I was going to go see someone, I had committed to myself that I was going to be one hundred percent fully in the process and give my everything to this.  I owe it to myself and to healing to give it that much.  I don't want to go back to 420 pounds ... or worse. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Finding freedom

I find it so interesting the places and circumstances in which God chooses to send me a message, meaning there's something for me to think about.  It can be in the gestures of other people, meeting strangers or even in the books I read.  That's what happened to me today as I was reading the very confusing and mind-numbing words of the German philosopher, Hegel.  I was trying to focus on what he was saying when a phrase jumped off the page to me.  It read: "It is solely by risking life that freedom is obtained."

I thought about that in the big-picture sense of how it takes big risk to have big freedom.  There are many people in this world that go about their routine without thinking about what they're doing or even finding enjoyment anywhere in the sameness of every day life.  It's wake up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, go to sleep and then repeat.   Further, there are people who are overweight, maybe even significantly so, that sit in the hell of that world and are afraid to reach out for the olive branch.  It's right there, within their reach, but it's so hard to grab it because of the fear of the unknown.  I've had those same thoughts . . . What if I try and then I fail?  What if I just can't lose weight?  What if I'm just one of those people who are supposed to be heavy?  What if God really isn't there to help me? 

As I travel down my journey of weight loss and continue making life altering decisions along the way, I often wonder if anyone will ever understand how difficult this is, how absolutely courageous I must be after all to face the reasons why I ate in the first place and how really scared I am sometimes.  I will be starting my therapy sessions on Friday.  I'm very excited to go to this next level in my life of facing those fears, staring them down and dealing with them.  But there's another side of me that knows it's going to be very, very difficult.  There is significant abuse that was present in my life that I never told people about until I was an adult.  In all honestly, I've never really dealt with those things deep down in the place where they nearly broke me.  What I did instead was I chose to go to food for comfort.  Somehow food had become very soothing, like a best friend in many ways.  I suppose that is the case for any person that has an addiction or affinity to something, like alcoholics, drug addicts and overeaters.  Now its time to let it go.

This journey all along has really not been about weight loss and getting healthy.  To a sense, it has been about that because I did want to feel better and be healthier.  But I see that, more than that, this has been more about finding freedom.  Not freedom to eat what I want whenever I want, but freedom to risk having a new life.  A better life.  Perhaps one in which I don't hate my body, where I don't equate what I look like to the kind of character I have.  And especially one where I don't live through the food.  If I can have those things, then the weight will continue to drop off and, God willing, stay off.  This is not easy, which I knew when I began this journey.  No one ever said it would be.  I have to constantly keep reminding myself of that.  Not easy but it is something that is possible.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Supportive circle is so important

There are moments where I get reminded how very precious the people in my life really are to me and how blessed I am to feel their arms around me.  Yesterday, on a previous post and on my Facebook page, I put up a request for prayers as I begin another new medication in hopes that it will help with the depression and pain in my legs.  My Facebook page is a personal page, not associated with this blog, so the people that know me there know me on a closer level.  Although I must say that the things I write about here are very personal so regular readers probably know me well, too!  It was so touching to have so many people reach out to me, let me know they were praying for the removal of the pain and my continued strength to move forward.  I have had people who were supportive who changed their tunes when I had weight gain.  That's disappointing and it has hurt, but the true test is people who will still be there through the tough times. 

I have gotten to see how others view me, not on a physical level, but who I am as a person.  My case in point is a gift a received for my birthday back in December.  It was a small Christmas tree, the kind that comes in it's own pot.  It came with a string of paper ornaments.  On each one was a personal note to me.  This gift, which was by far the most precious thing I received for my birthday, maybe ever, was given to me by my friends at work.  The organizer of this, who also reads this blog (hi special friend!), had everyone in the office of the high school where I work write a personal message to me. The tree is now deader than a doornail, so it was time to let it go, but I kept the string of messages.  They were all such beautiful messages about inspiration, perseverance, my character and just how much I mean to them.  It wasn't just about weight loss, it was so much more.  These are people who have known me over the years, some who have known me for a great number of years.  They have seen me at my heaviest, breathing heavy, sweating because of the excess weight, the out of control diabetes, the attempts at diet after diet, my fight against pain, my triumph over cancer ... just so much.  They have watched me meet challenge after challenge.  They have laughed with me, prayed with me and have encouraged me.  Most of all, they have surrounded me with so much support and love that I certainly could never repay.  The best thing I can do is to continue to move forward and hopefully give to others what they have given to me.

I can't express adequately enough how important it has been to me to have that support because weight loss is an incredibly difficult journey.  It's one thing to lose the weight, but it's another to deal with the emotions that come up throughout the process.  You get to really see how confident you are, how you view yourself deep down inside.  It's a highly personal process.  Sometimes, when I'm writing a post for this blog, I wonder if I really have the nerve to actually post what I've written because I bare my soul here.  Yet I have found that its that level of honesty that helps me be my genuine self and does affect others as well.  So I can't be bothered by the large number of visitors to the site.  Bothered is not even the right word, but just letting the numbers intimidate me into being quiet.  I'm so glad others get something out of my story and my journey.  As difficult as it is right now, I am not hiding out.  This process is not a quick one and it's not a once-and-done proposition either.  It takes sacrifice, commitment and a baring of my soul that I've avoided doing for too long.  It's kind of scary in one sense but absolutely freeing on the other.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The doctor's visit

As I discussed in yesterday's post, I had an appointment today to see a doctor.  At the time when I saw the therapist to talk about a plan of action, she discussed with me the possibility that I have a major depression going on and that my next step would be to meet with the doctor.  At the time, I was feeling good about that but also full of nervousness, too.  This is hard to describe, but when you have your life in a certain mode for a while, you get used to it.  It may not serve you well (if at all), but it's familiar and there's nothing unexpected.  It's sort of like that with weight loss, too - you want to lose the weight so badly yet staying right where you are is comfortable because you know it. 

So I started my day by sleeping in, which I desperately needed.  I shouldn't really say it was sleeping in because I didn't sleep well.  I got up and then ended up going back to bed.  I was meeting one of my friends for lunch before seeing the doctor, so I thought it would be great to keep me at ease.  This particular friend has known me for probably 15-20 years, something like that.  The last time she saw me was in September.  She was on our campus at the high school where I work and she hadn't seen me for several months before that.  In between the visits, I had lost oodles of weight, I had moved offices and straightened my hair that was always curly.  So when she came up to my office, she clearly didn't recognize me and had to look at the name plate on the outside of my door to make sure it was me.  When we were making plans for today, I felt the need to tell her I had gained weight since the last time she saw me.  We've shared a lot over the years of knowing each other through our work and eventual close friendship, yet I felt the need to explain to her about the weight gain, almost as if she would feel differently towards me.  Silly, isn't it?  People who love and care for you will still feel that way, regardless of the weight.  We ended up having a great visit and she told me that I still looked fabulous.  Friends are really the best!

I then went over to the doctor's office.  I actually had a lot of time to spare, so I checked in early and just sat in the lobby.  The nervous nellies were starting to gurgle in my tummy, so I knew having the extra time to just relax was good.  I found an article about Facebook in a magazine before they went public selling their stock (typical doctor's office - the magazine was over a year old).  It was an in-depth analysis of how Facebook became to be what it is, where it's going, etc.  So by the time the doctor called me back into her office, I was so engrossed in what I was reading that the nervousness was gone. 

We began by reviewing my visit with the therapist as well as additional questions this doctor had.  She is a really sweet person and I was glad to be assigned to her caseload.  I knew this was a very clinical visit, so I didn't suppose the questions would be entirely too emotional for me.  Part of my purpose with her was to determine if I did, in fact, have depression and what course of action would we choose for me.   However, when the questions came around to my weight loss, weight gain and how I feel about myself in relation to all of that, the tears came.  There was the analytical part of myself that go so frustrated.  I thought, Geez, are you going to cry at every freaking appointment?  Then the emotional part of me said, So what if you cry?  Obviously there are feelings there and it's really okay to express them.  I was just so overcome with emotion that it took me a little bit to compose myself enough to answer her questions.  She was very compassionate in waiting to let me gather myself and caring in how she guided me.  The weight issues with me go back a very long time, really for my entire life. 

There came a point in her interview with me that most of the talking shifted from me to her.  She explained the various types of depression that people go through, the onset and treatment options.  She told me that based on my symptoms as well as review of my medical records and the visit with me that I am indeed going through a clinical major depression.  I knew I heard her loud and clear today when she said "major".  So we talked about several treatment options, one of which included medication.  She gave me two options.  Both types of medication have the same success rate, but one has a side benefit of helping with chronic pain as well as suppressing appetite.  However, that one is harder to get off of when it comes time to do so in the future.  It will take months for a gradual weaning, otherwise my body will go through withdrawal.  Yet, given both choices, I opted for the one that has the possibility of helping with the pain in my legs.  It will also likely give me lots of energy and help me to get better sleep.  She did tell me that the success rate for these meds helping patients is increased by other factors, such as a regular exercise program but I also have to monitor my blood pressure because it may go up.  She also stressed the importance of individual therapy as well.  I am already set up with that, which will start on Friday, so I'm feeling good about moving forward. 

I begin the new medication tomorrow.  It will start in small doses as I wean off another medication and then will increase in a week.  If you are a person that prays, I just ask that you please include my pain relief in your prayers.  I have been trying to hang in there, but as most to you know, I'm in pain all the time.  I believe so strongly in the power of prayer.  Things have been tough but I'm still here and I'm grateful for that strength to continue to walk through difficulties.  And, yes, I'm still tracking my food, too!

Friend Makin' Mondays: Ten Questions

In my last post, I promised that I would talk about how my doctor's visit today went, and I will, but it's Monday morning and time for something else first: 

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!

 Ten Questions

1. Describe the kind of home you would live in if money were no object. I would definitely live in a home overlooking the ocean with a large number of bedrooms so that I had room for everyone that comes for a visit, something like 7 bedrooms.  I would still be living in San Diego because it's my home but walking on the beach everyday would be incredible.

2. Are you more conservative in your actions or more rebellious?  I'm more conservative, with a hint of rebellion.

3. Would you go to Mars even if it meant you could never return to Earth?  Never! For me personally, I don't have a desire to explore other planets. 

4. Name one song that makes you want to dance every time you hear it.  Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO.  It's actually one of the songs on my iPhone that I work out to.  When I'm on the treadmill and it comes on, I am driven to increase my pace and move it.

5. Share one thing that you wish you could go back and do differently in your life.  I'd say probably get involved with my first boyfriend.  He was a very good looking guy that was like poison to me.  Even though it was a negative experience, it helped me really appreciate the value of not judging a book by its cover.

6. Share at least one accomplishment that people wouldn’t expect you to be proud of.  I'll have to come back to this one, nothing's popping up.  I can say that one people know I am proud of is that I'll be walking in my college graduation ceremony in two months.  At 41, I never thought I'd want to participate in that but I will be gladly celebrating the fact that I did it.  Being the first one in my family to have a college degree is a big deal.

7. Describe one delicious thing that you’ve eaten lately. The thing that pops up immediately is part of what I had for dinner last night - salmon.  It is by far my favorite fish and so yummy.

8. If you had a theme song that would play every time you entered a room, which song would you choose?  Hands down, my song is Eye of the Tiger.  I'm a scrappy fighter who does not give up, even when knocked down. 

9. Had technology enhanced your life, or has it over complicated your life? Definitely enhanced my life.  I use it in my job and obviously for blogging.  I've met some great people online that I will likely never see in person but I never would have had the opportunity had it not been for the technology. 

10. If you could get paid to do any job, which job would you choose? School counselor.  It's something I'm actually pursuing right now.  I already work in the counseling department of a high school so I do know what it's like.  Even with all of the demands, I do have a heart for kids.  Maybe less schedule changes, though.  People on the outside could never imagine how many changes occur at the beginning of each quarter/semester.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Down the disposal and treating me right

I am so thrilled to report that I had a good weekend.  In Southern California, we are experiencing a beautiful start to spring.  I'm so sorry for those that are getting pounded by the horrible weather in other parts.  I've felt a little guilty for our gorgeous weather, although we do pay through the nose to live in it!  Yesterday morning I went for a walk with Sara around the lake that we usually frequent.  Her husband was with us for parts of it as well.  We did three miles and then spent some time chatting.  I noticed the pain in my legs was pretty strong in the morning, but that exercise really helped because by later in the afternoon, it was lessened a little bit.

I ran a ton of errands on Saturday, among them was to go and get some groceries.  As I've shared on here before, after I stopped Optifast, I eventually went over to Weight Watchers.  It wasn't right away, but I knew I still needed and wanted the group support.  So, with the program, everything is done on a points system.  You get so many points you're allotted to eat each day based on your age, height and weight.  Each food has a point value based on the amount of fat, carbs, fiber and protein in it.  I track my food by writing absolutely everything down, even if I have something that was a poor choice.  It helps me stay accountable.  It's actually easy to do since WW has a lot of tools to help with that.  For me, it makes me feel more sane than constantly counting calories, fat grams, carbs, etc.  I do weigh and measure my food, though.  Perhaps there will come a day when I won't need to do that but, for now, it's working for me.  When I was at the store getting groceries, I had a little craving for a food I have been trying to stay away from, ice cream.  If I eat it away from home, I'm fine and can stop after a serving.  But if I bring a half gallon or similar container home of it, I am constantly digging into it.  However, I've been doing really well with my food, wanted it and so I absentmindedly opened the door to the freezer section and grabbed an ice cream container.  I rationalized in my head that I would measure it out like everything else.  Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right?

I got home, put the food away and did some cleaning around the house and gardening in the back.  I didn't think anything about that ice cream until I made dinner and thought it would be nice to have something sweet afterwards.  The serving was a half cup, so I measured it out and went on my merry way.  As I had it, it tasted really rich, almost unappealingly rich.  I went back into the freezer and pulled out the container.  It was in absolute shock when I looked at the label for what turned out to be super premium ice cream.  The first thing I noticed is that each half cup serving had 298 calories.  Are you freaking kidding me??  The carb serving was much more than should be in one serving, especially for a diabetic like me.  So I calculated the points value and this one serving was eight points.  Just to give you perspective, my breakfast usually has less points for the entire meal.  So, I promptly went to my sink, turned on the hot water and dumped it all down the garbage disposal.  In that moment, I realized that I deserve better than putting that crud into my body.  If I want a sweet treat once in a while, WW does make individual servings of desserts but I have absolutely no business bringing in ice cream like that.  Seriously, almost 300 calories for just a half cup just isn't worth it.  I am proud of myself for having enough clarity in that moment to get rid of it, though. 

I started out today in church.  I usually go to a Saturday night contemporary service, but I like going on Sundays for Palm Sunday and Easter.  I was exactly where I needed to be, hearing exactly what I needed to hear.  The message was so clear that God loves me so deeply and never leaves me.  Even when I'm going through rough stuff in my life, He still never leaves me, giving me enough strength to handle the challenges that come before me as well as the joy that I get to feel.  Afterwards, I went out to breakfast with my friend that goes to church with me.  I haven't seen her in about six weeks since she's been out of town so we were catching up.  I was talking to her about my upcoming graduation and she told me it would be her honor to host a get-together afterwards since she lives so close to Cal State.  I have worked really hard to get this degree and it's been a very long road.  I want to celebrate that with friends and family, especially since my dad and stepmother are coming into town for the ceremony.  Besides, not everyone wants to sit through a ceremony but who doesn't love a fun little party! 

I ended my day by going for a workout at the gym, did a 5K on the treadmill, and then did strength training at home.  I had a really great dinner that was very clean, nutritious and even tasty.  Who knew healthy food could taste so yummo?  Living in a healthy way is a great thing for not only my body, but for my whole being.  My blood sugar has been perfectly in range and right now I can honestly say my legs are only mildly painful.  Trust me, that's a big leap from the pain I usually feel in them.  Tomorrow is the appointment with the doctor, so I'll report back on that tomorrow night.  I'm not even feeling nervous about it.  I'm just grateful to be moving forward.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Not pretty but pretty honest

I just realized as I got on my laptop that the last time I posted was four days ago.  Sorry I have been incommunicado.  I had a killer mid-term last night so all my energy had to go to that.  Graduation is in two months for me, so I definitely need to at least pass the classes.  I had been procrastinating on the readings and just not devoting enough time to studying.  Bad Kathy.

This week has been a whirlwind of heavy emotions.  Although I can't go into specifics, this past week at work has been beyond difficult in dealing with the feelings that came up surrounding a near tragedy.  All I can say is that I work with an amazing group of people that make me feel blessed to be there.  We all care about kids so much and I honestly couldn't imagine being in any other line of work.  Speaking of which, I have the entire next week off because of Spring Break.  Well, I have work off but I still have school.  Ain't complaining though!

The other emotions that I have been dealing with is all about me.  I have been really hard on myself, especially in this last week, about how I have been doing since getting off Optifast.  As most of you know who have been following my journey for some time, I was (and still am) having some medical issues.  Some happened while I was on Optifast and stopped as soon as I was done with the products.  I didn't talk in too much detail about the issues I was having while I was on products because, for one, who wants to know the TMI type of details and, two, I was losing a hell of a lot of weight.  190 pounds in something like nine months.  Frankly, if I wasn't having all those medical issues, I would have stayed on the program all the way until I hit goal weight.  God had other plans for me, though.

So what happened instead?  I gained weight.  Most of it had to do with being put on medication that had a lovely side effect of weight gain.  Yeah, I know, great side effect for someone that was trying to lose weight.  That's just swell!  Then, I didn't help anything by not dealing with things very well.  It wasn't just all the medical stuff I was dealing with.  Yes, the physical pain I am in everyday is very difficult to deal with.  Between the unexplained chronic pain in my legs, the back pain, the carpel tunnel and tendinitis in my hands ... well, it's just a lot of pain.  Imagine trying to put exercise on top of that.  It actually makes me feel better, but it never takes the pain away, just takes the edge off, and sometimes it's very difficult during.  In fact, it makes me sweat more because I am doing everything I can to just breathe through it.  Then I add in things like going to school at night while working full time in a stressful (albeit great) job, dealing with a worker's comp system that is essentially calling me a liar at every turn and it's all just too much.  I have not been handling frustrations very well and, as I put on weight because of the medication, I put it on for other reasons, too.  That's not to say I'm not losing.  I actually am and I'm grateful for that.  But it's a very different experience than Optifast.

I didn't talk much about this at the time, but about a month ago, I went and saw a therapist.  I just had been feeling so blue.  Actually, therapy should have been a part of my life prior to this, but it's difficult.  I have been in therapy before, didn't have a good experience and so I didn't go back.  Regardless of the coulda/shoulda/woulda's, I made the decision with the help of a very dear friend to revisit it.  I have insurance so I decided to start down that road first.  I only have $10 co-pays every time I go for an unlimited amount of visits, so why not.  At the time, I wasn't ready to share it here, but I realize I need to, at least for me.

You see, weight loss is not easy (I know, news flash!).  Anyone who says it is does not truly have a weight problem.  It's not just mind over matter.  Sorry, it just isn't.  I was 420 pounds at my highest recorded weight.  There is more there than the love of food.  When I was doing Optifast, the majority of people I have met have had less than 100 pounds to lose.  So, when they got off of the products and then could go about with their lives as if nothing happened, they had a different experience.  For me, the food has been tied in with emotions.  I have always been an emotional eater.  So when I started gaining weight after getting off of the products, I felt like a huge failure.  It's not like you can hide the problem behind closed doors - you wear your weight.  As more weight was coming on, the more I hurt inside.  And I have been all but shunned from people who supported me during that time.  Relationships have definitely changed with some, although strengthened with others.  I can't describe the sacrifices I went through, the time I spent in exercise just to lose the weight.  It did not happen just because I had five shakes a day.  Nope.  It was blood, sweat and tears.  In comparison, though, it was easy compared to this.  

Then, all of a sudden, my clothes started getting tighter.  In my night classes, the desks are tight.  My Wednesday night class has a desk that feels like it's digging into my body and I have red marks on my body after getting out of the desk.  Last night, as I was taking my mid-term, I was sitting in a classroom that I was in last semester.  During that semester, I was able to cross my legs under the desk and fit very comfortably with room to spare.  As I was trying to write two hours worth of essays on Socrates, Marcuse and other philosophers' take on the value of art in society, all I could think about was my legs crossed under a desk then and my tummy now.  I feel shame.  And that's why I went to see a therapist.  Tied in with feeling blue, my feelings about myself after the weight gain, lack of sleep and Lord knows what else, I do not want to be another statistic.  I don't want to be a Negative Nancy on here, either.  Honestly, it's not my intention to do that.  But, we all have good days and bad days. 

So, when I went to see the therapist, it was just a screening appointment to talk about what's going on and then to set forth a plan of action to move forward.  As I was filling out the patient questionnaire, I could feel the tears in my eyes as I realized that I needed to be there.  Why?  Because the questions spoke right to me.  Not all of them, but some of them were right on the mark.  By the time I made it into the therapist's lovely little office, I was in tears in about three minutes.  I realized that all of my feelings, the deepest part of my soul and heart, were being kept inside.  Of course I do talk about things here, but most of us feel things more when we're in front of another person looking into their eyes than in front of our laptops.  I obviously needed to be there and I obviously needed to talk about what was going on because the tears would not stop coming.  The thing that has broken my heart the most was the weight gain.  I was cursing Optifast but I was also counting it as a great blessing to me.  I know, confusing!  I cursed it because it felt like a band-aid with the shakes.  Sure, if I don't eat food and I drink just shakes, of course I'm going to lose weight.  But I felt like I didn't learn what I needed to to be successful in keeping it off.  Yet, at the same time, I was praising it because it gave me a really good jump start.  Although I have gained a lot of weight back, I have not gained as near as much as I think I have.  In my mind, I'm right back where I started but that's just not true.  I still fit behind the steering wheel of my car without the need for a seat belt extension. There is still lots of room to spare.  I am not wearing size 34 pants.  More than that, Optifast gave me a glimpse of what could be.  Even though I was not down to goal weight, I was able to buy clothes in any store and I was starting to feel like a human being.  When you weigh 300, 400 or more pounds, you just don't feel a part of the human race.  At least that's what it felt like for me.  Now I'm much more aware of bigger body parts that I just don't like.  So, anyway, back to the counseling session ....

The therapist asked me questions so I could talk more about certain facets.  Then she said to me, "Kathy, it appears to me that you're going through a major depression."  Now, I don't know if the word "major" was the actual word she used but it could of been some other adjective that closely resembles it.  It might have been "significant" or "serious".  She asked me how I felt about medication.  I was prepared for the possibility of having this conversation.  I told her that I am okay with it, provided it is necessary and it is not used as a crutch to solve a problem.  If I was to go down the road, I would want to do that in conjunction with individual counseling sessions.  I have been struggling with weight my entire life.  If you've looked at my photos link at the top of the page, you'll see a little girl with excess weight from early on.  We discussed some options and I will be seeing a doctor as well as a therapist.  As I walked out of there, I literally felt like the weight of the world had been taken off my shoulders.  I told myself that if I was going to do this, I was really going to do this, leaving no stone unturned.  It does take a bit of waiting to get an appointment, but I finally get to see the doctor on Monday and the therapist on Friday.  I don't feel like I'm ready and, at the same time, I am beyond ready.  There have been some major issues in my life that have contributed to the weight and those very issues helped keep me there for a very long time.

When I originally started this blog, it was about transparency to myself.  I didn't imagine many people would find my little blog, let alone be interested in my journey.  Yet, I do know that I have a story to tell and I am finding the courage to somehow put myself out there.  My story isn't one about getting on Optifast, losing all my weight and then going on with my merry little life.  That's a storybook ending.  Instead, I'm a real person battling through a real fight.  If you know anything about me, you at least know I am a scrappy little fighter, Kick Ass Kathy some have called me.  Geez, after four days of not blogging, now I'm chatty Kathy ;-)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Friend Makin’ Mondays: Pondering Personal Thoughts

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!

Pondering Personal Thoughts

1. How old would you feel if you didn’t know how old you are?  There is a big part of me that feels much younger, like in my mid-20's.  She's the part of me that convinces me I can start jogging, the one that thinks wearing something pink is oh-so-cool and is just silly.  Sometimes I wish the rest of me could be as carefree.

2. Are you the kind of friend you’d want to have as a friend? I would hope so!  I think I'm a good friend who laughs with you, cries with you and will always stand by your side.  I try my hardest not to hurt other people and just to be a decent person.

3. Look back at the last year.  When did you feel most excited about something in your life?  I do have to say that this last year has probably been one of the most difficult ones in my life.  Through it all, though, what excited me the most was to look all around me and see friend after friend who supports me, no matter what.  That excites me because it's pretty rare to have one or two of those special people in our lives and I had/have many.  That makes me feel extremely blessed.

4. Have you ever been with someone and not spoken a word, only to walk away thinking that was the best conversation ever?  Yes

5. If you won 100 million dollars Monday, would you continue doing whatever you usually do on Tuesdays?  Knowing myself, I would.  If I won that sort of money, my life would change for sure but I don't know that I'd up and quit my job right away.  I think about the people left to deal with it and I couldn't do that to them.  Eventually, though, I could see myself making changes.  Getting up at 5 a.m. to go to work each day, for example, would change for sure.  It would take some time for it to sink in that I actually won that money.  I don't trust things so easily.

6. What would you do differently if you knew no one would judge you?  That's a tough one to answer ... people always judge.  I might be more willing to dance more freely in public.

7. Share something you do differently than most people.  I never learned how to tie my shoes using the bunny rabbit/around the pole method.  I tie them differently, the way my dad does.  It's hard for me to even say how I do it, it's just way different.  So if I had to teach a child how to tie their shoes, I think it would take me some effort to teach them the way everyone else knows how to do it.  On the other hand, there's a lot to say about doing things different than other people.

8. What’s one thing that you really want to do that you’ve never done?  I would love to travel to parts of the world that I haven't been to yet.  I've been to a lot of different countries in Europe and I'd love to see more places while I still can, like Greece, Scotland, Ireland, Spain. 

9. If you had to move out of state right now, where would you move?  To be honest, I'd fight it if someone told me I have to move.  I'm a California girl, although not the typical blonde, blue-eyed one most think of when they think of California.  I just love where I live ... close to the beach, desert and mountains.  No matter where I go, I always miss home.  There are some great states out there and I'm by no means putting down any other, but I need to be near the ocean.  That's just me.

10.  What is the one thing that you’d like to change most about the world?  I would say the thing that bothers me the most is the way people feel superior to other people and treat them as though they are underlings.  That might be someone judging you because of your different skin color or the fact that you weigh more or that you think differently.  Honestly, I wish we could all respect each other for our differences, yet still love each other for them.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Best attempts at handling compliments

Another weekend has come and gone, in the blink of an eye it seems like.  As I sit here in front of my laptop, I'm fresh from a post-workout shower.  How incredibly awesome does it feel to step into a shower after giving it your all at the gym or wherever you work out?  It feels awesome and generally makes me sleep like a baby (at least I really hope so). 

I realized earlier today that I have exactly two months until I go through my graduation ceremony at Cal State.  I started getting the less-than-wise train of thought going in my head, wondering just how many pounds I can lose between now and then since I'll be walking in it.  Is 80 pounds doable?  I know, completely and utterly ridiculous.  I rationalized that if I was still on Optifast, I could probably do it since I lost 45 pounds in the first month alone in that program.  Never mind that I was secretly sick all the time while I was on the program and had all these medical issues going on.  Is this the thinking of a sane person?  Hardly!  Yet, when it comes to weight loss, obesity or anything related to the subject, I swear I lose all common sense.  Of course I won't lose 80 pounds in two months, but there's another part of my brain that says, "Okay, maybe not 80 pounds but how about 70??"  And where is this all stemming from?  Fear.  Fear tells me I'll be too big to fit in a cap and gown.  Fear tells me that I won't be able to sit in one of those white chairs without it collapsing beneath me.  When I started thinking about all of this, I decided that I really needed to get out of my head so I called my mom.

My relationship with my mom has been difficult over the years.  I know that she's done the absolute best she could do, but she was abusive towards me when I was a kid.  Actually, for many years.  Then, as an adult, long after the physical part of the abuse was over, we had a disagreement when I confronted her on it and we stopped talking.  That lasted for twelve years.  Can you imagine not speaking with your living parent for that long?  I basically told her that until she could own up to it, not to speak to me.  So she didn't.  In those twelve years, we both grew tremendously, not only as people but as mother and daughter.  Despite her flaws, and mine, our relationship is really lovely now.  She is going to be in the audience watching me graduate from college.  It's been a long road for me, so I know this will a very emotional event and I'll probably cry.  Okay, okay, I will cry.  I know it will be the same for my parents.  My dad will also be there (they are divorced) and probably my step-mom as well.  I will be the first one with a college degree.  As we were talking about it, my mom said, "Kathy, I want you to know I am very, very proud of you."  I think this is the second time in my life that she's said that to me.  The only other time was about two months ago when I was buying furniture for my house and she could see that I was able to afford it.  I'm 41 so I've never heard that before now.  And you know what?  It meant a great deal to me.  I thanked her without having to lessen the compliments, like I tend to do.  My dad has also told me he is proud of the person I have become.  I tell you what ... winning the lottery will never make me feel anywhere near as joyful as my parents have made me feel in hearing how they feel about me.

Addressing those other issues:  Yes, I will fit into a cap and gown.  And, no, the seat will not break underneath me.  How do I know this?  That's an easy one.  As a staff member, I participate in the graduation ceremony our high school puts on and for several years I was part of the processional greeting the graduates on the field.  I was adorned in a cap and gown and I sat in those white chairs each time.  More than that, I weighed well over a hundred pounds more than I do now.  So, Kathy, it will be just fine.  Scratch that ... it will be more than just fine.  It will be a wonderful experience that I know I'll remember forever.  I am planning on going to grad school next winter, but this step is a huge one for me, accomplishing something I've always wanted for myself, uncertain as to whether or not I was smart enough to do it.  Of course I'm smart enough, but the self-doubt can really convince you of some really big lies if you let it rule. 

So, even if I don't lose those 70 or 80 pounds in the next two months, I can be proud of myself for being the person I am, pursuing dreams and goals because they are important to me and staying true to myself.  The scale has had way too much power in my life and I refuse, absolutely refuse, to let it stand in my way of participating in that ceremony.  This is not about what I look like but, instead, something major in my life that I have accomplished because I did the work and committed myself to it.  That feels good. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Being comfy at the gym

Unfortunately I could not sleep well last night.  I tried, but only a few hours is what I could swing.  So I got up and decided to just start my day regardless.  Thankfully, since it's the weekend, I could take a nap later if I needed to.  I checked my blood sugar and I'm happy to report was a very normal 113.  80-120 is what I'm looking for in the morning.  For years and years, my diabetes had been out of control so believe me when I say I am extremely grateful for normal numbers.  After I had a great breakfast, I decided to start stretching and doing strength training.  I have found that, given the leg pain I have been dealing with for well over a year and the back pain that has been ongoing, taking the time to stretch my joints really makes a difference when I go work out.  I do have to say that it was particularly painful to do the stretching to the point of tears in my eyes.  I just have to remember to pace myself and breathe.  I'm not racing anybody to the finish line, so I can take good care of myself by just taking it slow with my hurting body.  After I was done, I headed over to the gym.

For many years, I belonged to a big-name gym.  Whenever I went there, I always felt self-conscious.  For the most part, you didn't see a lot of overweight people there or many different age ranges, at least not at the ones I have gone to.  I always felt uncomfortable there and self-conscious because of my body, but I would get over myself enough to at least go.  Now I belong to a gym that makes me feel very comfy.  There are "regular" people that go there.  Let's face it, we're not all 20-somethings with rock-hard bodies wearing skimpy outfits to show them off.  At my gym, there are people in every possible age range and there are many different types of bodies.  I noticed that more than ever today.  I was in the back row of treadmills, so I can see everyone coming into the cardio section.  I saw quite a number of larger sized men and women in there, working very hard.  I could see the self-consciousness they were going through, constantly tugging at t-shirts, looking around at other people ... I recognize the behavior because in them, I see myself.

We all come to a point in our lives when we find the courage to seek something greater.  The shame of obesity and being different than most everyone else around you is difficult, but it takes an extremely courageous person to stand up against that and put one foot in front of the other.  Sometimes there is physical and emotional pain as you take more and more steps, but oh my goodness the payoff is worth it a million times over.  I know that when I turned on my treadmill today and settled in for an hour that I would feel amazing.  It happens to me every time I get on that treadmill or go walking.  I challenge that Negative Nancy that tells me to just stop trying or that I can't do it.  Sometimes I feel like decking her!  I feel such power there.  From the moment the music comes on in my earbuds, I'm transformed.  In an instant, most of the people around me disappear (except for the awareness today of the two chickies that were chatting the entire time - super annoying).  I wonder if other people go through what I do when I am working out.  I'm not dreading the time ... it's like an empowerment of sorts.  My legs still do hurt, but they definitely feel better than when I don't exercise.  Every time I go and I leave there with sweat dripping down my chest, I know I've done everything I could to be courageous.

After I left there, I came home, had lunch, took a shower and then took a nappy.  Ah, the weekend!

Friday, March 15, 2013

How far will you go?

This week has been exhausting for me, plain and simple.  When I'm not able to get enough sleep as it is, it has made me feel like a zombie.  I've been pulling it together, though, to be functioning but it has been a real effort.  It's made me think a lot about how far I'm willing to go to take care of myself.

There have been times in my life where I would say, "I'm too busy to exercise."  I'm sure other people have uttered the same words and felt the same way.  Yes, there are some days where it's just not possible to set aside that hour.  I experienced that this past week.  For a couple of the days, it just wasn't physically possible with working, going to school and studying for a huge mid-term exam that I had to take on Wednesday.  Given that I'm in my last semester at the university except for a couple of summer classes, I can't slack off now.  With the business of the week at work, my friend and I haven't been able to go on our lunchtime walks except for one day. 

Then there were other days this week where I made the time to exercise.  I always feel better when I do that, especially with the ongoing pain I have.  Exercise, even if it's just for 30 minutes, is the best thing for me.  That's how far I am willing to go.  I can think of many times in my life where I went to far lengths to eat at a certain restaurant for a decadent meal I knew I shouldn't be having but I wanted or other times where I went out of my way to drive to a grocery store where people didn't recognize me to buy food that I wanted to have.  There's shame when I think back to that behavior now, but I did it.  It's as if I was a drug addict, but my drug of choice was ice cream or a sugary doughnut.  If I was willing to go to those lengths to do those things before, I certainly can eek out time to take care of my body in a healthy way. It reminds me of that saying:

That's not to say that what we all have to do is not important, but I have to always remember that, for me, I have to be committed to take action towards having a healthier life.  Speaking of which, I found out in my other class last night the mid-term we will be taking next Thursday is all essay writing.  I have the same professor for both of these classes.  On Wednesday night, half the exam was essays and they were long.  For next Thursday, it will be a two hour exam of pure writing.  Why should I complain about that?  Well, it's not the content or the formulating of essays that's bothering me.  I have carpel tunnel, tendinitis and scar tissue damage from a botched surgery in my writing hand.  Under normal circumstances, I am in extreme pain by the end of the night because my job requires a lot of work using my hands or I'm taking notes in class.  If you add in two hours of solid writing, that's tear-producing pain.  So, with the continuing theme of going to any lengths to take care of my health, I am taking next Thursday off of work so that I could rest my hand before taking the exam.  Living in pain 24/7 is extremely difficult.  I put on a good face a lot of times where people can't see the pain, but trust me ... it hurts.   

Tonight I plan on going to sleep and sleeping in until my body is done getting what it needs.  Then I'll be doing some strength training before heading over to the gym for a good workout tomorrow before I hit the books again.  I actually miss the exercise when I don't get it in every day.  Believe me, I never imagined I'd live to see the day when I would say I miss exercise.  As difficult as my weight loss journey has been, there are some things I've picked up along the way that have been invaluable to me and the joy of exercise is one.  I'm extremely grateful for that gift.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Checking in

I've been quiet for a few days, but nothing is wrong.  I'm studying for a midterm I have tomorrow night and then I have one next week on Thursday.  I generally post daily on my blog and I miss it when I don't do that.  Let's see, besides the studying, things have been pretty crazy at work.  We're in the middle of doing the California High School Exit Exam testing at the high school.  I don't administer the test but I do help with check-out and check-in which, is a very tedious and time-consuming process.  I haven't been sleeping very well, as has been my plight for a while now, so I'm just trying to keep my energy going for each day.  I do have to make sure I'm prioritizing with taking care of myself by eating when I should be eating, doing my best to get some sleep and just to remember to pace myself.  The times I can't get in my regular exercise has been difficult as well because when I don't get in enough, my pain in my legs is excruciating.  It's always painful but probably three times as worse when I don't have at least 30 minutes of exercise.  This is just another reminder of how important it is to take good care of ourselves, not just for our own health but for others around us.  When I'm in pain, I'm grumpy and a little short-tempered.  I try to stay on top of those emotions and not lash out at other people because it's not their fault that I'm in pain.  The days that I can get good exercise in and I'm able to eat my meals in regular intervals, it's as if I took some sort of happy pill.  I don't have to fake the smile or good disposition.  The other day, for example, I did a really good session of strength training at home where I was taking my time, stretching my body out and using my resistance bands.  Then I did an hour on the treadmill and really killed it.  I was walking at a 3.8 mph pace on that thing (hills included) for most of the hour with the warm-up and cool-down at a lower rate.  Don't ask me how, but I think those endorphins took over.  All I know is that it made me feel fantastic.  I love that feeling and am craving it right now.  Back to studying I go though.  Ho hum.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


I am happy to report that I've lost 10 pounds since my last update.  Hooray!  It's so nice to see the weight loss and even better to know that I'm back into the 200's again.  I kept telling myself, as the weight was coming back on, Just don't go past 300, please don't go past 300.  When I did, I just had a sinking feeling I would head back to my all-time high of 420 pounds.  This gain has broken my heart, but I do have to say that, in a very weird way, it actually ended up being a blessing for me.  Wait, hear me out on this one ...

When I got down to my lowest weight while doing Optifast (I started at 417 and got down to 227), it was a difficult time for me.  Don't get me wrong, I was super excited that I had lost that much weight.  But it was happening so fast that I just wasn't prepared for how hard it was going to be for me.  The hard part was not about drinking the shakes or exercising.  Those things were almost easy in comparison.  The hard part was about looking in the mirror and not even recognizing my own face, about not knowing my body and how I fit in the world.  All I had ever known was morbid obesity and I was getting closer and closer to finding a normal body.  That scared me. If I was no longer Kathy, the fat/obese/overweight one, then who was I?  I was also having some issues come up from the past that I don't think I properly dealt with at the time.  The biggest one was the ending of my relationship with my ex-boyfriend and being abused, both physically and sexually, when I was younger.

I soon realized, after I got off the shakes and back on to regular food, that it was a temporary reprieve for me.  I was going to have to deal with these feelings or deal with the consequences of what the food does to me.  Feeling so frustrated with all the medical issues going on as well as the physical pain in my body from work injuries and the unexplained chronic leg pain that has been going on for over a year now, I gained a lot of weight back.  A lot of it was the result of various medications that had the side effect of weight gain.  However, some of it was me, just not handling things well.  I'm an emotional eater and I always have been.  This blog has been such a wonderful outlet for me, but when I wasn't writing, then maybe the frustration and the emotions got the better of me.  It was all enough of a catalyst to get me to find the courage somewhere deep inside to finally see a therapist.  In a couple of weeks when I go to see a doctor and the regular therapist I will be having, I know the digging will lead to continued healing, I hope.

It wasn't until I felt the heartbreak of the weight gain that I had enough of a push to seek help.  I'm a very independent person who is great during a crisis.  I handle things in the moment and it isn't until later that it hits me.  I'm sure a lot of that has been conditioning over the years.  When I was a child and was being abused, I handled it to get through each moment, even though I was dying inside.  To the outside world, I was a happy person.  I had lots of little friends and people tended to like me.  They never knew what I was going through when the door was shut and the blinds were drawn.  I handled it, stoically.  And then I went to food.  However, now, I am not willing to just handle it stoically.  I busted my butt with a lot of work when I did Optifiast, not to mention the huge amount of money I paid.  I am NOT about to put back on all the weight I worked hard to lose.  There is just no way on God's green earth I was going to let that happen.  I didn't just drink shakes, I worked my butt off (literally!) to lose that much.  Here I am declaring that it just ain't gonna happen, not on my watch.  That's why all of this has actually been a blessing ... it got me to get up and fight for myself.  Let's face it, no one is going to do the fighting for us, we have to do it for ourselves.

So the weight I am losing now is blood, sweat and tears.  When I was at the gym today, I was working it hard.  Sweat was dripping off my body and instead of focusing in on the pain of my legs, I focused in on the power behind them.  They have had to endure quite a lot in my lifetime, but they haven't given out on me yet.  I was on the treadmill, climbing hills and walking fast, yet I could feel myself standing tall almost doing the stare-down to the fear I had been feeling.  Come on, bring it.  You think you've won?  Oh, I. Don't. Think. So.  I've been knocked down, but I get back up and I fight.  It's what we all have to do ... fight, fight, fight! When I think back through all the things I've been through, I realize I've always been a scrappy little fighter and I'll continue to do that with this weight battle, too.  I refuse, absolutely refuse, to be another sad statistic. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Never imagined I'd love the needles

When I was a kid, it took some pretty substantial coaxing for my dad to get me into the doctor's office for anything having to do with a needle.  Even when I would have blood drawn, I was Miss Drama Queen of the Century.  I'd pitch a fit and do a really good job at convincing him that whatever the reason was for me having a needle stuck in my arm, it just wasn't necessary, thank you very much.  I should have become a lawyer looking at the way I would lay out my arguments.  Later in life, it would come back to bite me, though, because when I became diabetic, the doctor told me I would have to stick needles in my fingers a couple of times a day to test my blood sugar level.  That was a rude awakening.  And, eventually, I would have to stick needles with insulin in my tummy when my numbers were high (I don't miss that at all!).  Talk about being slapped across the face.  But, if you would have seen me today, you woulda thought I loved needles. 

I was sitting in my acupuncturist's office talking to her about how my leg pain just wasn't getting better.  So she told me we would need to attack this from a different angle.  It would require that she put some of the acupuncture needles in places I haven't had them before.  What did that mean?  Well, I had to take off every stitch of clothing, lay face down on the table and lay the sheet over me.  I couldn't see where all the needles where going, but some of them I could really feel.  They didn't hurt necessarily, but she said she definitely found my chi.  So I had needles all over my back, on the side of my hips, on the back of my legs, my feet and down the back of my calves.  She then turned on some soothing music and left me to "relax".  As I laid there with my head in that weird donut shaped contraption they had sticking out of the top of the table, I just really tried my best to tune everything out, listen to my breathing and just find a peaceful place of meditation.  When I was in that zone, I completely forgot about all the needles sticking out of me.  I actually was completely relaxed.

I have been trying to find that very place of relaxation a lot lately, where I can just let go completely.  Things have been so stressful in my life and it has made me feel like I can never just "be".  Yet, I do know when I allow it to happen, it feels wonderful.  I have felt like that around my food this week, too.  It has been very clean and healthy.  I have felt no shame around my choices, dare I even say peaceful.  In fact, the peace and freedom I have felt around the food this week was exactly like the euphoria I had when I was on Optifast and in a good groove with the shakes in that I had absolutely no cravings.  I know these feelings don't last forever, so I'm appreciating them for today. 

It seems like ever since I had the visit with the first therapist, there has been an internal shift in me working at just letting things go.  It's definitely a process, but perhaps there will be a day in the not-too-distant future where I can let things go completely and just enjoy where I am in the present moment.  My acupuncturist made the comment to me today that my skin has really gotten so much healthier since I've been off Optifast.  While I was on the product, there wasn't the freshness on my face that I have now.  Maybe it was because I was losing weight so darn fast or perhaps there was something somewhat unhealthy going on.  Of course, everybody has a different experience, but I only speak of mine.  I really feel like being on Weight Watchers as I continue on in my weight loss journey was the right decision for me.  It is not making me feel crazy in what I need to do to follow the program versus other programs out there where people seem to really obsess about their calories.  Of course there are guidelines to follow with WW, but I just feel more like a normal human being doing this method.  I will do my weigh-in tomorrow and report if there has been a change on the scale.  I think there has because my clothes have been loser on me.  That's usually the best gauge of progress.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Trying not to overdo it

On Thursday nights, I have a late class at the university that doesn't let out until at least 9 p.m., sometimes later.  I know I can't go for a workout at the gym because they close at 10 p.m.  So, in the past, I have skipped exercise.  I know there's no hard and fast rule that says I have to do a workout every single day when losing weight, except I have been advised to get in at least 30 minutes of exercise daily from Kaiser to help with the pain in my legs.  Because I am trying my hardest to take good care of my body, I asked my friend at work that I walk with at lunch if she wouldn't mind if we walked longer today.  Usually we get in about one and a half to two miles each time we walk.  There are a lot of hills near our work, so it's generally never a straight path for us and it does get our hearts pumping.  I figured this way, if I can't get to the gym later on, I would have gotten in a longer than usual walk.  Every time I walk outdoors, I use MapMyWalk on my iPhone to track how far I've gone.  It tells me my speed and how many calories I've burned.  Even though it was a little chilly since it had been raining, here's the walk we did:

We ended up doing a 5K during our lunch break, which was awesome.  For those of you that know where I work, we turned left from the campus, went down the hill into the houses on the left, then turned around and went past the high school down to the Albertson's shopping center and the road behind it, went to the end and turned around to go back to the campus.  We went 3.3 miles with lots of heart-pumping hills and I burned 626 calories.  Yay me!   Then later in the day, I got a text from my professor saying that he was cancelling our class for tonight because he had food poisoning.  I was really sorry that he was experiencing that, but then I thought, Hooray, I don't have class tonight.  Yahoo!!  I just get so tired with leaving house each day by 6:45 a.m. and not getting home sometimes until late, especially when I haven't been sleeping well.  In this case, on Thursdays, I generally don't walk in the door until 9:30 p.m.  That's a looong day.  Then I wondered if maybe I should to the gym if the class was cancelled.  But, I know me well enough and, if you've been reading my blog long enough, you know me well enough to know that I'm competitive and I would likely overdo it.  I probably would go to the gym and end up doing another 5K on the treadmill, as well as probably adding more machines.  The overexercising can be just as addictive as the overeating is.  There have been times in the past that I would spend a couple of hours at the gym and that's just not healthy behavior for me. Not only that, I do have significant leg pain all of the time and that might just be too much for me to take right now.  So, I came home and took a nappy poo ;-)

The thing that I am trying to learn in living a healthier life is that I must have balance.  If I go to an extreme with the exercise or obsessively counting calories to the point that I become too critical if I don't do enough or I do too much, then that's not good for me either.  Those are the very things that can cause me to pick up food I don't need to have.  Food has this way of soothing a moment or even making me forget what I'm doing.  There have been times that I've picked up food to eat before even realizing it how much I've eaten.  That's how cunning it can be.  Instead, I had another fantastic day with my food.  I have been tracking it using the Weight Watcher's e-tools to make sure I'm within my allowable points for the day and to be honest about what I'm eating.  I'm so grateful that I can end this day with no shame about what I had or the exercise I did.  In fact, I'm pretty proud of myself.  I've had times where I've gone to bed beating myself over the bad choices I made in the day or wanting to hide what I ate.  It's great to feel so clean.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wow, sleep does make a difference

I have not been sleeping well lately, actually for the last several months.  I try really hard to relax as much as possible and I take pain medication that makes me drowsy, yet I either get no sleep or just a few hours worth.  Yesterday at about 8 p.m., I saw one of my cats taking a nap on my bed so I decided to lay down next to her for a few minutes. Hearing her purring is always so soothing.  Next thing I knew, I woke up, checked my cell phone to see what time it was (3 a.m.) and then turned over to go back to sleep.  I ended up waking up completely at 5 a.m., arising out of my slumber like Sleeping Beauty.  I felt totally refreshed and full of all kinds of energy.  So that's what it feels like!  Obviously my body was craving every moment of sleep. 

The rest of my day was fantastic.  I went to work, had one of my classes at the university and then went for a workout.  I did great there, earning 6 activity points for the day with my Active Link (for the Weight Watcher's folks out there).  Best of all, my food was really clean and I felt like I took really good care of my body today.  Even sitting in the desk at my class was easier ... it didn't feel as tight a fit as it has been, meaning I'm doing something right because I'm losing pounds, inches or both.  I haven't been on the scale in about a week, so I should probably check that soon.  I missed my Weight Watcher's class on Saturday, so I'll probably just wait until this Saturday and then update my weight on here.  That helps keep me accountable.

I have been working really hard at trying to get in at least 30 minutes of exercise in every day.  During the visit with the therapist and my last appointment with the rheumatologist, they both mentioned how important it was for me to get in at least a half an hour of exercise to help with the pain I have been feeling.  It doesn't have to be strenuous, but just movement is great.  Depending on my activity, my movement is sometimes more intense than others.  When I go walking with other people, it's a bit slower because we talk while we walk.  I am walking with someone else almost every day.  I go with Sara on Sundays and then I walk with one of my friends from work during our lunch break.  Then, in the evenings when I have the time, I will go work out at the gym. 

When I'm working out by myself, it's definitely amped up.  For instance, I spent an hour on the treadmill tonight at the gym.  But I don't just walk at a regular pace.  I add in hills and have intervals of intensity with rest periods in between.  So, for example, after I've done the warm up phase, I'll kick up the speed getting ready for an incline for the length of a song on my iPhone.  Then, when the next song comes on, I'll kick it up more, then pull back when the next one comes on, then kick it up with the next song and so on.  My course is one with hills, so even though I'm not running, I am sweating for sure.  I mean, even my butt feels it.  I left the gym tonight with the front of my t-shirt soaked and I loved it!  It felt so great to come home, have a healthy dinner and then take a shower.  Those showers are the best after a good workout, aren't they?

I am so grateful for the peace that I felt today.  It just felt lovely, like a gift wrapped with a big red bow. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Friend Makin' Mondays: Almost Spring

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!
 Almost Spring

1. What do you love most about Spring?  Spring is my favorite time of year.  The flowers start blooming, the weather is really pleasant and the time changes so that we get to have longer days.

2. If you’re lucky enough to have a Spring Break, what will you do to enjoy it?  I'm fortunate enough to have two of them, although I wish they were in the same week.  I work in education so I will have one week off of work, but still have a couple classes to take and then a week later it will be the reverse.  I'd really love to do some exploring outdoors whether that's going on a hike or enjoying our beaches.

3. What is your favorite flower? By far my most favorite are tulips.  To me, they are gorgeous and perfect, even if they don't stay around for very long.  My parents used to have a house with the walkway lined with them as you walked to the front door.  That always made me smile looking at them.

4. Do you have a garden?  If so, what do you grow?  I have a dead garden.  Does that count?  I know, so sad!  The weeds have just taken over.

5. Share one thing that you hope to accomplish during Spring.  A project that I plan to work on is to pull up bricks from my backyard and look at putting some new ones down to freshen up the look of the patio area.  When I bought the house, the bricks were falling apart and wearing down with age.

6. Do you do Spring cleaning? I do, but the generally is just limited to my garage and going through all the paperwork in my office.  But I do try to go through those areas at least once a year.

7. What is your weather *really* like right now? Don't hate me if the rest of you are living in bad weather, but it was in the 80's this weekend.  What can I say ... southern California is known for it's mild temps.  We pay for it though since it costs a fortune to live here.

8. Share one photo that you’ve taken during the month of March.  This photo is one of my kitties, Sasha.  I was laying on my bed not feeling well one day and she crawled up next to me.  Her sister, Monique, looks just the same.  She's adorable, isn't she?

9. What’s your favorite thing to do on a sunny afternoon?  I do love going out in the backyard, sitting in a lounger with a great book and enjoy the sunshine with iced tea.  The other thing I love is sitting out on a beach and watch the waves crash in.  That feels so serene to me.

10. If you could spend the day doing anything in your city, what would you do?  I live in the northern part of San Diego County.  In my city, there's absolutely nothing to do.  But in the city of San Diego, which starts at about 15 minutes from my house, are beaches, museums, the zoo, Sea World and a ton of other touristy places. I'd love it if I could play tourist for a day and hit as many of those places as possible.  I never go to those places unless I have company coming from out of town and I tend to forget how great it is here.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Healing and my skinny jeans

My agenda for this weekend was to get some good sleep and exercise.  I just haven't been sleep well, so these are times when my body is practically begging me to find some nappy time.  When I was in my 20's, I thought naps were for old people.  Now that I'm in my 40's, I either have totally changed my attitude about them or now I'm considered an old person.  Ha ha, hardly!  I did have a great walk with Sara today at the lake.  Here's a picture I took overlooking the lake from where we were sitting and chatting.

Walking around this lake with all the ducks swimming, children playing, dogs running around and such beautiful weather makes me feel pretty blessed that I get to have that time being healthy with a good friend.  3 miles seems to go pretty quickly on our walks.  If you have never walked with a friend, I highly suggest it!  You can easily get lost in the conversation and forget about all the calories you're burning at the same time.

I was telling her my story of seeing the initial therapist this past week.  I thought a lot about that encounter this week and the tears I shed as I told the therapist why I was there.  I really think it was a big release for me since I was just holding in everything so tightly.  The thing that has broken my heart the most and I think really contributes tremendously to the sadness I had been feeling is weight gain.  When I came to Optifast in the beginning, I had hit my bottom.  I didn't think things could possibly get worse.  And, as I was losing weight, things were changing so drastically for me.  I never realized how much I was allowing the weight on my body to dictate my self-worth as a woman and as a human being.  As I got smaller and smaller in sizes and as the pounds and inches were just falling off my body, someone else entirely was emerging.  That's not to say that I wasn't the same old Kathy, just a Kathy with a different attitude, one that smiled a whole lot more and meant it.  Think about it ... I had shed 190 pounds in about nine months.  It's impossible not to have some sort of change.  However, after I got off the Optifast products and as I've been on different medications to help deal with the pain I've been battling, a drastic amount of weight has come back on my body.  A lot of it was a direct result of the medications.  A couple of them had the most significant side affect being weight gain.  Instead of attributing it to that, I was viewing myself as someone who had failed.  That coupled with all of the pain and emotional turmoil that I have been going through the last year, two years, five years, etc. led me to pick up food to deal with emotions.

About a year and a half ago, I was dating someone and it was very serious.  We talked about marriage a lot and were in a really good space with each other.  I loved him deeply and I know he felt the same way for me.  But, something happened and it ended.  Perhaps someday I will say on here exactly what happened but some of you who know me personally already know.  At the time, it broke my heart.  Shattered me into a million pieces.  I felt like I couldn't even breathe.  I'm not trying to be melodramatic, but I just mean that it was terribly difficult to live through and pick up the pieces afterwards.  Somehow, one day piled onto the next and I felt like a part of the world again.  I haven't dated since that time; I guess it has just taken time for my heart to mend.  That feeling I had at the time is exactly how I felt with the weight gain:  brokenhearted.  In time, though, I will heal from this, too.  I'm a tough girl in many ways and I know I can whether this storm.

In the meantime, I did something today to stop punishing myself for gaining weight.  My clothes either are extremely tight on me or they don't fit any more.  So today I went out and bought some clothes that actually fit me.  Yes, they are bigger than what I was fitting in, but there is no reason for me to torture my body by wearing clothes that just don't fit me.  I put the things that are too small in the closet in my guest bedroom.  One of the hardest things for me to put away was this pair of skinny jeans I had fit into.  I worked really hard to get into them and they looked really good on me.  Now looking at them on a hangar, they look so tiny!  I wasn't tiny necessarily, but definitely at my smallest.  I know someday soon, if I stay on a course of eating healthy, continuing on with Weight Watchers and therapy, I'll get there again.  And I bet I'll even make those skinny jeans look big on me.  Thank you to everyone who has continued to support me as I've gone through these challenging times.  You have no idea how much it has meant to me as I've been trying hard to heal my broken heart.  Thanks so much especially to the other bloggers who share themselves so honestly on their pages.  It helps me know it's the healthiest thing I can do for myself, too.