Saturday, June 29, 2013

Keeping track really does make a difference

Sometimes, if I have a bad day with my food, it's hard to actually keep track of what I've eaten or if my blood sugar level is too high, I seriously don't want to write it down for my doctor to see.  However, if  want to give myself a fighting chance of being healthier, of living longer and just overall feeling good, I'm actually doing myself a disservice by not writing things down or logging them in.  It's sort of the same idea that if I don't look in the mirror, then I haven't gained weight or my pants aren't bigger.  I mean, seriously, who am I fooling?  Nobody, not a single person.  Moreover, I'm only guaranteeing that, in fact, those pants will be bigger and keep growing. 

The same thing is true when I have a good day, a great day with my food or my blood sugar levels.  I can't express how absolutely encouraging it is to know that I'm not over my daily Weight Watchers point allowance or the fact that my blood sugar is one hundred percent exactly where it is supposed to be.  In fact, just a few minutes ago, I tested my blood sugar and it's in the healthy range.  That has encouraged me all the more to make great choices about what I will be having for dinner tonight as I pondered what to make.  What's on the menu?  Spaghetti using spaghetti squash as my "noodles" (you know how I love me some spaghetti squash!!), low-sodium spaghetti sauce and ground turkey for my protein along with a spring salad with low-fat honey mustard dressing.  It all fits into my gluten free, lactose free plan and uses a healthy amount of points following my Weight Watchers program.  And, I'm actually looking forward to having it, which is a huge turn-around in my life. 

Life is very different post-Optifast.  Those that I know who have been off of it have said the same thing.  Things were so much easier while only on those shakes.  Everything was laid out for me in very black and white terms.  I was told what I could in my shake, how often I should be having them and other such "rules" that left me questioning nothing.  I'm either compliant or I'm not.  I'm not at all saying it was easy, not at all.  Living for ten months on only shakes was a challenge like no other, especially with all the medical issues I was having.  Now I have to find balance to do what is right for my body.  Sometimes I have a really hard time because I'm such an emotional eater and always have been.  It's going to take me a long time to finding a balance but I'm working on it.  Sometimes, when I'm stressed, frustrated or just having a tough day in some other way, all I want to do is eat.  And, at times, I have.  At times, I have begged God to help me through the physical pain I go through or the desire to eat something in a bingey way when I know I shouldn't be doing that.  As I reminded in so many ways, it's one moment, one day at a time and that I have to find a place between perfection and real life.  I don't have to tackle all of my weight issues in one day.  This really is a lifetime journey for me, for most of us who have been significantly overweight.

So, in a bit, I'll start making my healthy, yummy dinner.  I'll track my points and, later on, I'll check my blood sugar again.  Not because I need to do these things to lose weight but because I want to be as healthy as I possibly can be.  That is very important to me.  And I won't be resentful because I have to do these things when it appears that other people don't have to do them.  I'll do it because I know it's a choice for me today to feel good or not.  It's a choice that is absolutely available to me and one that I am choosing to embrace.  

Friday, June 28, 2013

Busy week for me

Things have been pretty intense this past week.  I was hoping to post more, but it just didn't happen for me.  The work involved in my summer classes is a lot, more than I initially thought.  I'm handling it, but my nose is in books quite a bit.  At least it keeps me out of trouble during the summer time.  One of my friends and I are going to spend our last week of vacation in the beginning of August on a road trip.  It will be a great way to cap off a busy six weeks of classwork.  We haven't figured out where to go just yet, but we're thinking things like heading out to Utah where my folks live, up to Santa Cruz, Yosemite or even Lake Tahoe.  I'm thinking we'll probably head to cooler places since it's already been hot and the summer is just getting started.  Last summer we went into the Monterey/San Simeon area and the cool weather was lovely. 

I still have significant pain in my legs and what I have realized is that, as much as I don't want to do this, I'm going to have to cut back on the distance I walk or how strenuous I make a workout.  At least for the time being.  I'm so used to walking 3, 4 or 5 miles and right now that is absolutely killing the part of my legs where I have pain.  Since they can't quite figure out what's going on and, trust me, I've been through every test known to man, I have got to just be kinder and gentler to my own body.  I think there's a huge part of me, if I'm being completely honest, that is sort of guilting my body into working out harder and longer.  There's a voice that says, "If you want to get the excess weight off, you have to walk faster, walk longer, hit the gym more."  And that really isn't helping me because when I start to feel the pain in my legs really get intense, then I feel horrible.  Besides, there's nothing that says I have to walk three miles each time.  Even a mile is great.  I know I'll build up to more in time, just as I did when I originally began Optifast.  Am I a black or white thinker?  Duh!  I'm working on it.

In the meantime, I also started the wheels turning towards applying to grad school.  I have begun dropping off the recommendation forms to the three people I have chosen to write them for my application.  They need to be either professors or people who have supervised me.  I think my workplace experience is much more extensive, so I chose three supervisors.  All of the writers happen to now be principals and I have worked closely with each one, so I'm sure those recommendations will be positive.  I then have to take the CBEST in two weeks, otherwise they don't offer it again until September ... after the application is due.  I still have to get a certificate of clearance (background check) and write a vitae and five-page essay.  I'm trying really hard not to let it all stress me out because this next step in my life is very positive and something I am looking forward to doing.  I really feel blessed to have this opportunity to pursue something that feels like my calling.  Everything has fallen into place and I am choosing to embrace that. 

My food has been really good through all of this.  I'm staying gluten free and lactose free.  It's a challenge a lot of the times and makes things more difficult when choosing food, but I'm doing it.  I'm committed to being healthy in every way possible.  Anyway, busy, busy, busy. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Motivating myself through physical pain

This week has been super busy.  With not working right now, you'd think I have some lazy days of summer like my kitties (they have such a rough life!).  I remember a time, when I was younger, that summer meant going to the beach all day long, sliding down the hill in cardboard boxes and just really not having a care in the world.  That's not the case for me, though.  I am taking two classes this summer while also trying to continue working on my health.  My Spanish class meets Monday-Thursday, 4 hours each day with just as much homework every night.  There's a lot of memorization in this class, so it's a lot of study time.  Then I have a Communications class that meets online.  That's not any easier though because we're assigned a multitude of online lectures, several chapters and summaries due each week.  Both classes have tests each week and research papers.   Let's just say it's a lot for the brain to take on.  I know I can handle it, but I'm definitely not just sitting around wasting the time away while on vacation from work.  I am definitely grateful, though, that I'm not doing this while working at the same time.  That would be pretty difficult for me, I think for most people.

On the health front, I'm religiously following what the doctors are prescribing for my diabetes, leg pain, carpel tunnel and intestinal issues while also trying to continue losing weight.  Yah, I know it's a lot.  Yesterday, I had an appointment in the evening with a surgeon to have a minor procedure done.  I'm not going to say on here what it was for exactly because it is definitely TMI, but with it comes a lot of additional pain.  It was at 6 p.m. about an hour away from me.  I left in plenty of time, but wouldn't you know that there just happened to be an accident on the freeway as I'm heading down.  I had to check in by 5:45 and it was already 6 p.m. by the time I barreled into the lot to try to find a parking spot.  I'm practically running into the hospital, attempting to find the department, thinking the whole time that if they're  going to check my blood pressure, I will be sky high from the stress of getting there on time.  If you're really late, they just move on to the next person and put you at the bottom of the list.  Thankfully, they were able to still take me and off I went to meet with the surgeon.  So we discussed what was going on and she took a look at what was going on.  She said that I actually would not have to have surgery after all, that it is treatable in another way.  That's always a good thing.

So today my plan for exercise is to go walking for 3-4 miles and enjoy some of our beautiful weather since I don't have school today.  I do have errands to run, but taking care of me is first on the list.  I had a really great gluten free breakfast, so I'm energized.  Exercise is painful for me so I have to remember to take it easy and spend some good time stretching beforehand.  The exercise is good in so many ways and I know I'll feel better afterwards, so I try to remember that in the moment.  Not only is it good for weight loss, but it helps with the depression, keeps my blood sugar down for my diabetes and keeps my heart healthy.  These are all really great reasons to go out there and just do it.  When I have moments of wanting to avoid exercise, I just need to look back at the beginning of my posts on this blog and realize that I was able to do it at 420 pounds.  When I think about that, it gives me a huge sense of motivation.  I travel the same paths and roads now as I did back then so I definitely can do this.  When I think about it, I've walked many, many miles over the last year and a half when I first started Optifast so I know nothing for me is impossible.  Obviously I can't compare where I was then to where I'm at now, nor should I, but I am reminded that I really am able to do so much more than I think I give myself credit for, especially when I'm feeling pain. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Yes, I followed through

I started my summer classes today.  I'm taking a third level Spanish class and an intro Comm class.  The Comm classes feels so silly to me - it's a requirement for my undergrad major but I've taken junior and senior level Comm classes, yet I'm being forced to take this intro class.  Whatever, though - I know I can do it.  The Spanish class had me freaking out a little bit because I felt totally unprepared.  I haven't had Spanish in 3 years and I just had this vision of Profe kicking me out of the class because I couldn't speak a lick of Spanish.  Of course that didn't happen, I can speak Spanish and it was perfectly fine.  Actually, both the classes will be manageable but there is so much busy work.  I'm taking them at two different community colleges and I definitely notice the difference between them and university courses that I just finished.  I know I can handle it though, especially since I'm not working while doing the classes.

Afterwards, I went to my doctor's appointment.  No, I didn't cancel like I wanted to so many times yesterday and even this morning.  I had to wait a long time to see her, longer than usual, so it helped me have the time I needed to pull myself together.  I just felt super emotional.  I felt like she was going to judge me for having gained weight and tell me to exercise harder.  I don't know why I have her associated with a drill sergeant in my head.  She's never been like that with me.  I think it's more my stuff and not hers.  She did notice the weight gain and we talked about it and other issues I've been having.  She looked at me and just said, "You have had a lot going on in the last six months, haven't you?"  I swear, at that moment, the tears started to well in my eyes.  Yes, I've had a ton going on medically and I'm just doing my best to hold it together.  We talked about the pain in my legs, intestinal stuff and the appointment with the surgeon that I have on Thursday.  She actually spent a lot of time with me and we made a plan for me to get my blood sugar back down.  It's been climbing in the last few months, no matter how perfect my food has been.  That's what happens at a higher weight.  She reminded me that there was a time that I needed no medication so we want to work to make that a goal.  It was a really good visit and I'm glad I went.

Sometimes the reality of a situation is completely different than what I have built up in my mind.  I'm sure the five people reading this can relate.  Okay, I know more than 5 people read my blog but it helps me to stay my authentic self instead of worrying about being perfect when I really know hundreds read this space every day.  Perfectionism is such a dangerous thing for me to live in.  I notice that so much these days, especially when I compare myself when I was on Optifast versus where I am now.  It's really apples and oranges and I do myself a huge disservice by doing the comparison thing.  I know that I'm not going to be able to lose 80 pounds during the summer.  Perhaps that might have been a reality on Optifast (perhaps not), but I'm not on that program any longer.  I'm right here, right now - flawed, totally imperfect and still a good and decent person.  I need to always remember that it's one step at a time, one day at a time.  My body will get healthier and smaller one pound at a time, not ten pounds at a time.  My doctor did give me a really big compliment today.  While we did talk about weight gain, she commended me on the fact that I have been able to keep so much of the weight off, that I didn't gain it all back.  She said she sees so many patients that go on Optifast and then promptly gain it all back and I haven't done that.  Miss Sara reminded me of that, too, when I walked with her yesterday (thanks for that!).  I'm still clawing.  I hope you are, too.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Do not cancel your appointment Kathy

I had a great walk this morning.  Here's my evidence:

I use MapMyWalk+ to log all of my walks.  I got in four miles, 2 laps without Sara and the rest with her, which was great.  But I was in sooo much pain.  As Sara and I were talking, I was trying to focus on our conversation and not on the burning feeling I had in both of my legs.  I did pretty well, but damn my legs really were on fire.  My legs have been hurting for over a year and it's only worse when I exercise.  As much as it hurts during exercise, though, it makes me feel better afterwards.  There are times when I want to keep exercising from somewhere deep down inside of me, but my body is screaming out in pain.  This is one of the reasons I have an appointment to see my primary care doctor tomorrow.  I don't want to go, though.  Truthfully, I would rather eat something I shouldn't just to make myself feel better.  Of course I know it won't make me feel better, but emotional eaters tend to give food a far larger importance than it ever deserves. 

I haven't seen my doctor in about six months.  She pulled her back, so she's been out on medical leave but I have seen other doctors for various things in between.  It's just that I've been with this doctor for probably 20 years.  She kicks my ass when I need it and is caring when I need that, too.  In the last six months, I've had weight gain and I'm sure my A1C level (3 month average of blood sugar) has gone up.  I told Sara today that I wanted to cancel seeing the doctor until I can lose 50 more pounds.  That sounds sane, right?  I know, it's lame and I get that.  Rational thinking tends to go out the door when it comes to dealing with weight issues.  The last time I saw my doctor, I was gaining weight and she warned me to be careful because she saw me lose so much weight through Optifast and didn't want me gaining it back, more for health reasons than anything else.  The truth is, though, I need to see her.  I have some medical stuff going on and, despite how hard I know it's going to be, I need to talk about these things with her, especially as I have a surgery coming up this week.  So, I'm committing right here and right now that I'm not going to cancel the appointment with my doctor.  I need to keep it and I just have to get over myself in the meantime.  Question is how do I do that exactly?  I don't know but what I do know is that I have absolutely no business cancelling this appointment.  I promise I will report back tomorrow that I went.  I don't go back on my word, so you have my word that I'm going.  Done and done.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

On vacation for 2 months

My hectic end of the year stuff at work is done and today is my first day of summer break.  I have seven weeks off and I think my boss wants me to take one more week on top of that because I have so much comp time.  I'll find out next week if that's the case, which I would not be sad to take.  Unfortunately, being in education, these summer weeks are unpaid but whatever ... I'm on break and I'm happy about that.  I do have two summer classes I will be taking, starting on Monday, but doing it without working at the same time makes things much less stressful.  I will also be working on my grad school application during this summer, so I will be busy. 

I had a really healthy, gluten-free and dairy-free breakfast this morning and after I post this, I'm heading outdoors to go walking.  I haven't exercised regularly for several weeks now and I miss it.  I've been dealing with a lot of pain and have to have a surgery on the 20th.  Now that I'm on vacation, I sort of want to regroup and take better care of myself.  I have made the change with my eating plan, but I have also been going through some feelings of sadness over the weight gain, feeling as though I failed in someway.  I know intellectually that I haven't because I don't weigh anything near what I used to weigh when I first started this blog.  Besides, this is not a contest of how low can you go.  This is my life and it's for my health.  It's always been about health and not about a number.

I miss being smaller, though, I have to admit that.  I was on my feet a lot helping out at our high school's graduation and, by the end of the day, I was in a lot of pain.  Granted, I probably would've been in pain at the smaller size, but I know it would have been far less significant.  There's a shame I have been feeling because of the gain.  I know the reasons for it and I completely own them, between medical issues and dealing with frustrations and physical pain through food.  It hasn't been my best, shining moments.  The other day, though, I saw it.  I mean I really saw the reality of where I stand right now.  A picture was taken of me with a student after our senior awards night.  It was not a flattering picture in any way and it almost made me want to cry.  I know it's not me at my worst, but I sure felt bad.  At the event, which is something I am in charge of, I was called onto stage by our school's administrators to thank me for not only the event, but my work throughout the year.  They gave me flowers and hugs.  But I didn't want to step foot on that stage only because I felt as big as a house.  Yet, based on the faces of those kids and their parents, they weren't focusing on that at all.  I guess I have a big ego because, trust me, that was what I was focusing on.  I certainly was celebrating the kids' accomplishments with them, but my thoughts would invariably go back to me and how I was feeling about my body. 

The best thing I can do now is move forward, just as I did when I was on Optifast.  While I won't go back on that program because of the negative toll it took on my body, I can remember my commitment level while I was on it and take that with me as I walk forward now.  It was soooo much easier while I was on the shakes.  Anyone who has done it and then gone back to food afterwards knows exactly what I'm talking about.  It's such a black and white thing - you drink the shakes or you cheat and eat food.  On the other hand, things can be black and white with the food as well.  You eat appropriate amounts of food at meals and snacks, or you don't.  Having Weight Watchers as a tool for me really helps in keeping me accountable of what I'm eating.  Writing is very therapeutic for me, too, whether here on this blog or in my private journal.  I know it helps me sort out whatever I'm feeling and so the food doesn't have near the hold it has had on me. 

I'm not here to give you advice on the proper way to lose weight, how to be successful on Optifast or anything else.  I am certainly no authority and it was never my goal to do so.  I know for some others they may feel that way, but I do not.  I also don't kid myself that I have all the answers.  Frankly, if I did, this would be a very different blog.  I am here to share my experiences and story, hopefully connect with others that are going through the same things I am going through and just to be as honest as I can.  At one point, I lost 190 pounds on Optifast in ten months.  I now will continue in my efforts to be healthier, but not with shakes.  I have to listen to my body when it tells me something is not working, which is something I didn't do so well when I was on Optifast.  Back then, I was tunnel-visioned because I was losing so much weight so fast.  So I ignored things when I wasn't feeling so well, refusing to get off product.  I have had some extremely wonderful, supportive friends tell me how worried they were during that time - that my body was smaller but I wasn't looking well in my face, gaunt I think was the word they used.  I didn't take it badly because I knew it came from a place of love.  So now I just keep moving forward, continuing to work on my physical health, as well as the emotional.  Obviously that's easier said than done, but I'm committed to this for myself. Things are not easy.  I mean, I have to eat no gluten and no dairy just so that my body doesn't feel upset.  You can't begin to imagine how hard that is, but I'm doing it.  After not eating for 10 months and drinking my food, anything is possible!

Anyway, off for my walk.  One foot in front of the other.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Dragging myself from here to there

Hi everyone,

I have been crazy busy with end of the year stuff at work.  I'm in charge of our Senior Awards Reception, which is a lot of work.  It's chasing kids down for information, writing the speech we'll use for the event, dealing with scholarship sponsors, last minute changes, printers that jam at the worst times and the list goes on.  We have about 160 kids participating and I can say about half of them turned in half of the information I have needed, so calling them into the office is so time consuming.  I've been working full days and then putting in several hours each night working at home in front of my laptop.  Tomorrow we have the beginning of senior check-out, so I'll be busy with that, too, as well as other end-of-the-year stuff.  So I've been quieter than usual on my blog.  I can't apologize, though, because I'm only human and life gets in the way sometimes.  A week from tomorrow with be my last day for almost seven weeks, so I know I can get through it just fine.  Besides, I do love participating in these great events for our kids, even if there is a lot of work behind it.

On to medical stuff ... I saw a specialist today in regards to the intestinal issues I've been having.  Making the change to gluten-free and dairy-free food has been great for me, but it hasn't taken care of the problem one hundred percent.  Oh how I wish it could have done that.  Without going into too many TMI details, the specialist told me today that I'm going to have to have surgery and then, depending on how I'm doing after that, potentially more.  It's sort of a "wait and see how this works" sort of thing.  Being told I needed surgery was not what I wanted to hear and I felt like it increased my stress level a huge amount, but the doctor was very sweet with me and extremely caring.  Wouldn't you know, while I was talking to her, I started crying.  I don't know where the tears came from.  Probably a mix of being scared, frustrated, relieved and just at my wits's end.  Sometimes I don't know how to handle it when people are extremely compassionate as she was and how so many of the other doctors I've been dealing with have been the same way.  My emotions are right there on the surface in these situations, especially when I start talking about what I've been through in the last couple of years.  Any one of those things could have seriously broken the strongest person and yet here I am.

For right now, I'm trying to put those worries about whatever the surgery may bring off to the side so that I can finish off my work school-year and be present during all of these special graduation events with the kids.  And when I do have the surgery, thankfully it's an outpatient sort of thing and it is supposed to make me feel lots better, God willing.  Oy, the challenges of life.