Saturday, August 31, 2013

Weigh-in results

I am happy to report that I lost 4.4 pounds this week.  Given that it is also the week of Tom, that's pretty good and I will gladly take it!  I am feeling very good moving forward, especially with the consultant they put me with.  When I went in last week, I met with the manager of the center but she specifically paired me with this person because she has lost over 100 pounds on the program herself.  She was very sweet and understood exactly the things that I have gone through because she's been there herself.  And she's got the tiniest little waist.  Dare to dream!  So off to the races I go to Costco to buy a boatload of veggies and fruit for the week.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Night before weigh-in

As I look over the past week, I feel very good about how I did following my new food plan.  I definitely was going through a roller coaster with major headaches and biting hunger but those things eventually did subside as my body was getting used to things.  I also had to recognize that there are times when I am very knowledgeable and other times when I don't have a clue.  When it comes to food and eating in a healthy way for more than just the moment, I really don't know what I'm doing.  Sure, I know that burning more calories than you consume will lead to weight loss and I know that a plentiful supply of fruits and veggies is what our bodies need.  That old adage about "an apple a day will keep the doctor away" seems to have validity.  Yet, when it comes to living in a healthy way, not only physically, but mind, body and spirit, I just have to relearn.  Intellectually, of course I know these things to be true.  Yet, emotionally, the place where it counts for me the most, all the knowledge is not going to make a bit of difference.  It's as if that part of my brain just isn't wired the same as it may be in other people when it comes to food.  I'm glad that this part of my journey will be slower than it was on Optifast.  In just a matter of mere months, I dropped a huge amount of weight, was half my body size, lost my hair, had saggy skin and just a whole host of things.  Of course it was an emotional whirlwind that I was trying to maneuver through.  I didn't even recognize my own face in the mirror - how exactly was I not going to be affected by all of that?  As I was eating dinner tonight, I really enjoyed my meal.  I mean really enjoyed it.  Except for one dish, I have absolutely loved all the Jenny Craig cuisine so far.  This feels like something I can really do.  Now, granted, I am saying this with not even having completed a week on the program, but it's a terrific start.

So now, in terms of my weigh-in tomorrow, I am feeling anxious.  I'm not going to lie about that.  When I got home from work today, all I wanted to do is work out but it was ridiculously hot and humid here today.  Then I said to myself, "Okay, if I get up really early tomorrow and get a hard core workout in, I can lose like three more pounds before my weigh in if I don't eat or drink anything."  Rational thinking?  Um, nope.  I am admitting that - it's not rational.  I can just relax, enjoy the rest of the evening and do everything that I would normally do in the morning.  If I get up at a good time and I'm feeling like I want to get exercise in, I can do that but I don't get to kill myself in the process and I definitely don't get to do that in an effort to have a lower number on that scale.  And I absolutely do not get to skip breakfast!  This is about being healthier, not obsessive.  It's so easy to go there, isn't it?  I definitely will share my feelings with my consultant so that I'm being as honest as possible.  It's things like this that have caused me to go to food in the past for comfort and I want to break that cycle.  I don't have to race to the finish line and I think that's where the anxious feelings are coming from.  I am just so tired of fighting the weight battle, you know what I mean?  Breathe Kathy.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I'm starting to sprout

Following the volumizing approach to eating with Jenny Craig, I have been loading up on my veggies.  I have a big salad with my lunch and lots of veggies with my dinner.  I
understand how important it is, now that I've been doing it, to eat a ton more veggies than I have been.  It's amazing ... I think they have me eating soooo much food because it is filling my plate.  Then somehow I'm hungry when it's time to eat again.  I'm not starving, though.  I eat three meals and three snacks a day.  I was thinking to myself, as I was eating my lunch today, that I feel like I'm eating all day long.  

I started out with my breakfast, which was cute little blueberry pancakes with sugar-free syrup, turkey sausage, half a banana, soy milk and egg substitute.  Then three hours later I had a snack bar loaded with vitamins and some mango.  Then a few hours after that I had my lunch, which was a stuffed potato with broccoli, a big salad with Walden Farms cilantro ranch dressing and more mango.  A couple of hours later I had 2 slices of deli meat, dill pickles and a Fuji apple.  Then for dinner I had their baked fish and chips with malt vinegar and two zucchinis sauteed in a tablespoon of olive oil with garlic and onions.  Then, finally, for the last snack, I had more soy milk and their triple chocolate cheesecake.  You read that right - cheesecake.  And may I say it was totally sublime.  It's not very big, but so yummo.  My consultant told me to try to eat all the food prescribed in the plan so I don't lose weight too fast.  Trust me, it sounds like a lot of food and it is a lot of food.  However, the only things that are really substantial are the veggies and, of course, having fruit frequently.  The Jenny meals aren't huge, but they are the right size.  In fact, it's startling to compare the volume of certain foods I had been having when I compare them to what size they should be.  My hunger headaches have gone away and I'm definitely getting enough fluids in.  Something is working because I've already lost weight.  I'm not questioning it, just going with it.

For tomorrow, I think it's time for me to get back to the gym to work out.  I haven't done so in a very long time.  Part of it is because of the never-ending pain in my legs.  However, a bigger part of it is my feeling self-conscious about my weight gain.  Obviously, if I don't go to the gym, I'll only continue to stay in a place of wanting to avoid going.  Generally speaking, no one cares about other people at the gym like we think they do.  Mostly they are more concerned with themselves - running on the treadmill, looking at themselves in the mirror while working out and just really stuck in their own zone.  Actually, I think I've only had one negative experience.  For the most part, people are usually super nice and supportive.  Besides, I pay for a freakin' membership every month - I might as well use it.  Just sayin'.  Okay, after I submit this post, I'll go in the kitchen and fix my food for tomorrow to take with me and then pack some workout clothes in a bag so that I can go to the gym on the way home.  No excuses, Kathy!!!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hair does return after Optifast

I felt icky today so I decided to stay home from work. I had a really high fever this morning, pretty insistent coughing and I just couldn't sleep last night.  It was a good thing because my fever did go down and I was able to get some good sleep during the day.  It was very cute - I went to sleep and then woke up with both of my cats sleeping on my bed next to me.  Aw!!  As if they were watching over me.  That or I was sleeping in their spot.  Hmm.

My third day on JC has gone better.  I talked to my doctor's office and she does want me to add in some insulin in the mornings to regulate my numbers.  I can already see my numbers adjusting, even before starting the insulin, because while it was still high today it was not nearly as high as yesterday.  And I've discovered I've already lost four pounds since Saturday.  I'll take it!  My weigh-in at the center is not until Saturday morning, but it's a great start.

So, if you've been following my blog for a while, you'll know that I lost some hair from the products while I was on Optifast. At the time, I remember absolutely freaking out because it was very noticeable.  For a woman to lose hair so drastically is not socially acceptable and I always felt people looking at my head when they would talk to me.  Instead of looking at my chest, the attention was paid to my head.  That's just great.  At the time, I took vitamins to see what I could do to stimulate regrowth and even tried Ovation to help my hair come back.  I'm here to report to those of you who may be on Optifast now that your hair actually does come back.  I took a selfie picture today to post on my JC profile, so I'll do before and after shots below so that you can see for yourself.  Am I the bravest girl in the world or what??

It's shorter but you can clearly see my hair has come back.  Yay!  I was told by the Optifast clinic that it would come back and though it took a long time, they were right.  Now I'm moving forward with the weight loss in a way that I don't think will affect things like hair as drastically.  It is hard looking at a picture of myself with the weight gain, but it is what it is.  I can't erase the past, but I can move forward from here.  Outside of not feeling well today, I'm actually in a good place and looking forward to an even better day tomorrow.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Hello ketosis?

Day two was more difficult.  Just like when I was on Optifast, my body is working hard to get into ketosis, where it uses fat for energy thereby burning it instead of muscles.  I really hope I don't replicate my experience on Optifast because it took me nearly three weeks to get there.  What happens to me is that I get headaches and think I am really hungry, even after I eat.  So I'm just trying to work through it, but hanging in there.  One thing that was alarming was that my blood sugar was elevated when I checked it before dinner.  I didn't understand why since my blood sugar was normal when I got up this morning and I followed the plan all day long.  The consultant at JC has a theory as to why this happened but advised I contact my doctor to ensure my diabetic meds were okay and to work with her on what we can do to make adjustments where needed.  I'm completely open to that.  In my mind, I immediately went to, "Oh, no, what if this means I can't be on Jenny Craig after all?"  I prove over and over again that I'm a black and white thinker, don't I?  I really have to chuckle at myself, just going from 0 to 60 in three seconds.  Meanwhile, I still have not been getting great sleep so I think I'm going to turn in after this and take something to help me get rest.  Especially with an adjustment in my eating program, I definitely have to get the rest.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

How my day went

I have to say I had a lovely day, which I guess surprised me on the first day of a new program.  My food went great.  I actually need to have one more snack before I go to bed to make sure I get everything in.  It does feel like a lot of food, but really it's not.  I think it feels that way because I'm eating a lot of fiber-rich things and that definitely is making me feel more full.  The food tastes really good and I'm feeling thrilled that things went so well.  Yes, I know I'm on my first day but it's a great start for me.  I told my mom that I'm doing JC and she was surprised, but happy.  She confessed that she was really worried when I was on Optifast because, as she told me, "You were sooo skinny."  Now, I've had a lot of people call me things but "skinny" has never been one of them!  I showed her all of my food and my planned menu.  I do have to say that I really appreciate that I don't have to make many decisions around what to eat outside of which fruits and veggies I will have.  That leaves me more open to focusing on other things besides the food.  I am an emotional eater, so I want to work on the reasons why I have gone to food as a coping mechanism.  I know I'm not alone in this; many people suffer the same malady.  I really want to be healthier and happier with my body.  It feels like an almost impossible task.  Who in the world is happy with their body?  Perhaps my thing is that I want to be happier and eventually I can get to a place of love and acceptance.  I am just so critical of myself and I want desperately to move away from that.  Anyway, on to day two.

Up early and doin' this!

I could not sleep last night, but it was easy to pinpoint.  One of the medications I have is a water pill.  Every time I have it, it makes me feel like I've quickly downed three glasses of water.  I have to time it well because it makes you go to the restroom frequently for a good 2-3 hours I would say.  When I was having my dinner last night, I realized I forgot to take my pills for the day so I quickly swallowed them before I realized I took the water pill.  Oh man!  It was too close to bedtime so I was up constantly in the night.  Lesson learned.

I had my first Jenny breakfast and it was very good.  As I bit into the cinnamon roll, I was pleasantly surprised.  I heard the food has really improved and I have to say I agree so far.  In a few hours, Sara and I will go walking on our regular Sunday morning jaunt around Discovery Lake in San Marcos.  Then later in the afternoon, my mom is coming over to my house for a visit.  Looking forward to a great day!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Here we go

My consultation today at Jenny Craig went well.  I was fully expecting to burst into tears, but I didn't go there.  All the emotions just clump at the surface and sometimes I feel like tears are the only release but I was very relaxed.  The person I was working with, who I think was the manager of the center, was super nice and we had a great conversation about my road with weight loss.  The first thing we did, after the intros, was to go and do a weigh-in.  Gulp.  I haven't been on a scale in a while because mine at home kept showing an "E" in the display every time I would get on it.  In my irrational and self-obsessed mind, I was convinced it was because I have exceeded the maximum weight of the scale.  That number is 450.  Obviously I had not because that's beyond my starting Optifast weight, but the only conclusion I could come up with is that one since it wouldn't register my weight.  Anyway, today's weight was a heart-breaking 367 point something.  It was one of those scales that you step on but the number appears level with your eyes and I couldn't look past the 367.  I joked and told her my number was up because I was wearing heavy jeans and bulky shoes.  I was joking, but not really.  Things are always better when you're standing naked in your bathroom on your own scale.  Man, 367 ... going to seek help at the center was exactly the right move for me and that new weight definitely confirmed that.

The next thing for us to do was to set a goal weight.  We settled on 190, for now.  She wanted to go with 200 and I wasn't comfortable with that.  In my mind, my number is 175 but we compromised on 190 since I have the option of adjusting it as a I get closer to the number.  Then we focused on how the program works and the choices I have available.  Jenny Craig has definitely changed significantly since the first time I was on it.  Granted, that was either in the very late 80's or early 90's.  I was telling the consultant about how they made me eat the chipped beef that came in a grey can and how I refused because it was beyond disgusting but that I was forced to eat it anyway.  I hardly turn my nose up at anything, so you know it had to be bad. Really, the program is completely different in so many ways, except that you get one on one consultations with their counselors instead of being in a group situation.  I really like that accountability piece.  One of the new components they have, if a client chooses to do so, is have five days with Jenny meals and then two days on your own (with guidelines).  I was honest with her and told her I don't want to go down that road quite yet, even though it's cheaper.  I need to have some time in following the program before I do things on my own.  So, without going into a lot of boring details, my plan calls for me consuming 2,000 calories per day because of my current weight and the fact that they don't want me dropping the weight too fast.  I have a menu all planned out and am making substitutions where necessary.  Each meal, except for one of the snacks, contains a Jenny product but then you eat things with them that you buy at a regular grocery store.  For example, tomorrow morning at breakfast I will have Jenny cinnamon rolls, a piece of fruit, 1.5 cups of soymilk and three strips of turkey bacon.  In my mind, that seems like a lot of food and I'm sure it will feel like that in the beginning.  The one thing I was floored with was the amount of fruits and veggies I will be eating.  I had to buy 25 servings of fruit at the store for the week.  I guess I will be very, um, regular ;-)

I'm excited to get started in the morning and feel very committed to this decision.  I've also already checked out their website online where people have blogs, forums and chatting available.  I've also signed up for a closed support group through Facebook and, of course, I'll continue blogging about my experiences.  Here we go!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Needing more structure

Incredibly happy it's the weekend, beyond happy  I still am not getting great sleep, so I'm looking forward to getting rest tonight and this weekend.  Tomorrow I'm taking my car back to the shop.  I had a bunch of things done on it earlier in the month, including having the front and rear brakes replaced.  However, when I'm stopping from faster speeds, the brakes are making loud sounds.  I'm trying not to do a freak out about it because it should be something they would take care of, I'll just have to see when I get there in the morning.

After taking care of my car, I have an appointment to have a consultation at Jenny Craig.  I actually wasn't going to talk about that here for quite some time for several reasons, but I decided that it's a forum that is mine and is the whole point of blogging.  I hope someone can gain from my experience, but it's ultimately for me to write about what's going on with me.  I have been following the Weight Watchers plan for about six months after ending my Optifast adventure.  With WW, there just isn't enough structure for me.  It's very easy to hide in the background or behind a computer screen.  For me, and this is just for me, I need more structure and accountability.  When I was on Optifast, I was one hundred percent compliant and was accountable to the counselor of our group.  It was different than the groups in WW.

So I've been looking at other programs, doing a lot of research, reading blogs of other people's experiences and just gleaning as much information as I can about what the right move is for me.  I can't stay in this place any longer.  I need the help to get healthier and just to feel better overall.  Sure, I dream of getting back into my size 16 jeans (or even going lower in size).  The pain I have in my legs I know will be better with less weight on my body.  I actually have this blog to thank for helping me come to a decision.  Writing out how I've been feeling on a pretty normal schedule has really helped me own where I am and what I'm feeling.  I know there may be some people reading this that are convinced that Jenny Craig is "just another diet".  Who knows, it might just be, but it is offering me something of what I need.  I need to be accountable to another human being and tell them what's going on when it comes to my weight and my eating.  Through the program, I can meet with a counselor on a one-on-one basis 1-3 times each week with no added costs.  That is really appealing to me.

After I made the final decision that I was going to move forward on this, I have to admit that a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders and I felt ... happy.  I just so desperately want to feel better.  The funny thing is that I'm not even balking at the cost.  It's actually about the same cost of what I spent each week on Optifast.  When I add together all the money I have spent on going out to eat, Starbuck's drinks and my food at the grocery store, it pretty quickly starts really getting in the ballpark of the cost of doing a program with so much support and help.  It's what I need and, frankly, what I want.  I deserve to spend this money on myself, my happiness and my health.  So I meet with one of the counselors tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m.  I have done the program before and lost a lot of weight and I know it is possible for me to lose weight because I lost 190 pounds on Optifast.  I feel strongly that this is a good move for me and I also know that if it's not right, the door swings both ways.  Now I pray for strength and courage as I walk forward.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Working hard at NOT going there

After I went to an emergency dental appointment (had some major pain going on in there), I decided retail therapy was in order.  Actually, I wanted to get a few new things to wear but was really motivated after having my teeth attacked.  After having gained weight, I have been wearing a very small wardrobe selection.  There's been a refusal in me to buy new clothes, especially after I gave so many away last year when I had lost so much weight, convinced in my mind I wouldn't be here long.  It's very humbling to be in this space, that's for sure.  At the store, they were having a two-for-one sale on jeans but they didn't have my size for the second pair so we ordered it online for the same price.  In order to do so, we grabbed another pair of jeans to grab the tag numbers.  So, the sales clerk had a pair of jeans in my current size on the counter and had placed the pair she grabbed for the numbers right on top.  I realized that the pair on top just happened to be the smallest size I fit into when I got down to my lowest weight while doing Optifast.  Immediately, I started comparing the difference in the sizes.  But, I know people will be proud of me when I say that just as soon as those negative comparing thoughts came into my head, I banished them out.  They don't belong with me.  It doesn't do me any good to go there and I'm all about doing things to make myself feel good.

So I did buy a few things that I thought looked pretty nice on me.  There will be a day soon in the future when I can buy new clothes because mine are too big on my body.  For today, I refuse to get down on myself for being a human being trying to work on being healthier.  This is not something that has been easy for me because the emotions around my weight get the better of me, but I have such a huge circle of support and love surrounding me that I can't help but be grateful for every person who touches my life.  It doesn't matter if I know you in person or online, I really do feel your support and I cherish it so much.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Plugging along

Overall, I had a pretty good day today.  Checking in here everyday, even though it's only been a couple of days in a row so far, does help me.  My day was busy.  The kids will be returning at the high school where I work tomorrow, so of course there are a lot of things that go on behind the scenes.  In comparison to other people, I wasn't crazed today but definitely busy in my own way.  When I got home from work, I fully intended to go do some exercise, but my body had other plans.  I did not sleep well at all last night and laying down on my bed for "just five minutes" turned into much longer.  Of course, if I needed it, then I needed it.  There is always tomorrow and I do have to remember that things don't have to be black or white.  If I don't get in the exercise at every moment that I intend to do it, it really is perfectly okay.

As a fun little side note not at all related to what I'm talking about right now, I did have someone flirt with me today that is younger than me.  It made me feel like a cougar, although this is way beyond that ... 13 years younger.  That felt wrong somehow, even though I know it's not, but it certainly was nice to feel pretty, especially when I have been particularly hard on myself lately.  I am trying to work on that, though, by catching any negative thoughts when they pop up and countering them with something positive and doing the best I can to take good care of myself.  Before I go to bed tonight, I will make my lunch for tomorrow so that I make good choices instead of going out to get something.  Or, worse yet, just having nothing at all. I do that, too, and that can be just as bad as choosing the wrong food.  Anyway, off I go to brown some ground turkey for my salad.

Monday, August 19, 2013

As promised

I had a decent day today, despite how it started out.  For the life of me, I just could not fall asleep last night.  I gave it a really good try, too.  I had my alarm set on my phone for 5:30 a.m. and, when I woke up after finally falling asleep, it was light outside.  I knew it was not 5:30.  I never jumped up so fast when my phone blared 6:19 at me.  Shoooot (or some other word)!  I had to get myself put together and out the door in about half an hour.  Easy for some people, but no small feat for those of us who aren't exactly morning people.

When I got into work, I immediately went into an almost two hour meeting with a family.  Then all of our teachers came back and I had a lot I had to get done in my office.  As I talked about yesterday, I wasn't feeling terrific with all the staff back, knowing I had gained weight since this time last year.  We took our staff ID pictures as well as a group photo and I just had to get over myself.  The person taking my picture to get my ID card said I had a great smile.  That always makes you feel nice ;-)  And, truly, no one cares to the level that we do.  I seriously just need to feel what I'm feeling but then be proactive and move forward.  That's the best I can do.  If I forget where I have been, I just need to look at the pink ticker tape at the top of this page.  It's no longer at 420.  While I have gained weight back, I have still kept off 71 pounds, which is no small feat.  I don't even know where it is now since I have to weigh myself to do an update ... it may be even more.

I have a full and very busy day tomorrow, the day before our kids return to school on Wednesday, so I better head off to bed.  Maybe I'll be able to get in some exercise tomorrow after work, even if it's just a little bit.  My body really needs it, so does my soul.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Been struggling the last week

I have to admit that I'm feeling out of sorts right now.  In the last week, I have felt just plain bored.  B-O-R-E-D.  It might be because I know I have a semester in between finishing my undergrad program and starting graduate school.  Unstructured time sometimes gets me in real trouble.  I have even contemplated stopping my posts on this blog and taking the blog down.  Why?  Sometimes I feel like I have nothing to say, other times I feel like it's because I think I have failed.  I have moments where I really, really want to go back on Optifast.  Never mind the fact that it made me very sick and that I have some medical problems now I am convinced are as a result of the product, I still know I lost a ton of weight.  No, it's not the solution.  Having gone on the product and having lost 190 pounds (I think that was the final number I had lost), it actually would be pretty crazy for me to do it again.  I'm not saying people are crazy for doing it, but having had the experience of the medical problems as well as losing so much weight only to see a big amount pile back on, I realize in the deepest part of me that going back on the shakes is not going to solve the weight problem.  I will still be faced with the same issues, if not more, whenever it is that I would transition back on to food.  People contact me all the time on this blog to talk to me about Optifast.  If you do a search on the Internet for it, my site does pop up.  Hindsight being 20/20, I would not do it again and I very easily can ... I have a ton of packets left in my house.  The truth is that if I don't fix the inside, then the outside is a mess, too.

I know I have been doing a huge amount of comparing.  The worst part is that I'm not comparing myself against other people more than I am comparing myself against me at my lowest weight about a year ago.  Let me describe an example to illustrate my point.  A year ago, when we were doing registration at our high school for the upcoming school year, I was literally the talk of the volunteers at the registration tables because of my huge transformation.  Obviously many people hadn't seen me over the summer, but a lot hadn't seen me for months before that unless they came to our high school to meet with me on something.  I had parents stopping me in the middle of the campus and just gawk at my new body.  Fast forward a year to last week when we had registration.  I had people eyeing me up and down, without saying a word to me, very clearly judging me on the weight gain.  They weren't trying to be blatant, but it was humiliating.  And what was I supposed to say, stop staring at me?  Tomorrow our teachers will be back on campus and I don't want to participate in our welcome back staff meeting/lunch even though I know I have to participate.  I feel like a big loser with a "L" on my forehead.  I know I'm not, but it's just how I feel.  Can you see now why the idea of going back on Optifast seemed enticing?

Intellectually, I know it's calories in and calories out but my heart doesn't deal in common sense equations.  It aches for how things were when I was thinner.  Even then, I was still overweight, but I sure felt light as a rail in comparison to how I feel now.  There is still a lot of fight left in me, though.  I am spilling my guts here right now, that's true, but it's the best way for me to move forward - doing so honestly.  I have so many people who are in my corner, supporting me and holding my hand as I go through this difficulty.  They know I can do it, I just wish I felt as confident inside.  More than anything, I do want to be healthier.  The physical pain I live with will be better with less weight on my body.  Heck, even painting my toe nails will be easier without a tummy in the way of getting it done.  Life is so much more enjoyable in every way possible when I love and carer for myself as I do for other people.

So, I'm going to commit to something right now: I will post on this blog each day during the week this coming week, even if I think I have nothing to say.  That's the way I was feeling when I started this post and look at all I managed to write about.  I really don't want to hide because of any shame or guilt I may be feeling.  I'm a human being and, like many others, I am walking through the struggle of being healthier but I also am a fighter and I don't give up either.  If I had, I wouldn't be here typing my thoughts away.  This is not an easy thing to walk through and, if anything, I know people are seeing that through reading about my story.  I haven't gained all my weight back, far from it actually, and I praise God for that.  Thank you, Father.  So now I keep on walking down the path I am supposed to be on, wherever it will take me.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Own worst critic

I've been MIA for longer than I wanted.  I think I just needed some time to process the last few days and sort of regroup. When last I posted, I was going to head out to Vegas for a final mini vacay before heading back to work from the summer break.  It was both a great time and not at all a great time.  I always drive to Vegas since it's just five hours away.  This time I went alone and was going to meet some friends there.  The plan was to stay at the Venetian for two nights and then head back home.  My mom was really anxious about me driving out by myself and kept asking me if I was going to be okay.  She's a worrier, so I did my best to assure her I would be fine.  Besides, I have my cell phone so I was confident I would be okay.  Just as I was beginning to head up the Cajon pass, I saw flames shooting out of a mountainside on the right.  I knew it was going to be bad.  In a matter of minutes, this is what was in front of me on the freeway:

What this picture doesn't show is the helicopter that was literally right above us dropping fire retardant on the mountain to the right.  There were about 20 fire trucks that came in front of us, forcing us to a dead stop on the freeway.  We were stuck there for at least an hour and it got to the point where I knew the names of the people who were driving next to me because we were all out of our cars.  It felt pretty surreal.  After we got on our way, I encountered three accidents on the road.  So a five hour ride turned into a nine hour nightmare.  By the time I checked in at the hotel, I was done.  Stick a fork in me, I'm done!!  When I called my mom to let her know I arrived safely, she burst into tears.  It turns out my grandmother, her mother, died.  My mother was so upset I told her I would check out of the hotel and come back home so that I could be with her.  She refused to let me do that, telling me instead to have a good time.  How am I supposed to do that exactly when that happened? 

Worse still are the circumstances behind my grandmother's death.  The short story is that they were having a huge amount of rain in the Philippines where she was.  She walked everywhere she went, that's just the sort of place it is.  She went to my uncle's house and he and his wife refused to let her in because they called her a "witch" for getting their children sick.  The last couple of times she came to visit, the kids ended up sick so they think the reason is because my grandmother was visiting and she had some sort of evil spirits with her.  I know, it doesn't make sense but that is what happened.  She was visiting on foot, having walked from her home to theirs, and so she turned around and tried to walk back but by this time the rain became dangerous and flooding occurred.  Since they refused to let her into the house for shelter, she had no choice.  She had to find some sort of shelter from the downpour.  She was 83 years old and her little 90-pound body could not take the weather conditions.  She fell in the water, couldn't fight the currents, and died.  They found her the next day.  It's one thing to die of natural causes but the callousness of the family members is incomprehensible to me and it just hurts my soul every time I think about it.  Someone please tell me how I'm supposed to have a good time in Vegas with this sort of news.

I did stay and tried to make the best of it, checking on my mom several times to make sure she was okay.  I stayed in the most gorgeous room.  It was pure luxury, that's for sure.  It had a full living room, dining room, remote-controlled drapes, three TV's including one in the bathroom - it just was heavenly.  Here's a couple of pics I took the first day (I didn't take more because I was beginning to feel very touristy):

While my surroundings were to die for, I became very lonely.  I was in a relationship that ended two years ago, one that ended very badly.  For the most part, I'm doing so much better than I was at the time but I have my moments were the deep hurt I felt at the time surfaces.  He absolutely broke my heart and it has taken a long time to pick up the pieces.  Of the times I think of him, which is much fewer and far between than before, is when I am in a hotel room.  Over the years, we traveled a lot or would meet in a city between the both of us when we were apart (we dated long distance for quite some time).  No matter what the situation is, if I'm in a hotel room, I think of him.  It always felt like we were on a honeymoon in those rooms.  Don't worry, I'm not going to get graphic here but there was just a very strong connection between us.  Being in that sublime king-sized bed made me feel very small and it hurt from a deep part of my soul.  It didn't help that I got hit on while I was in the casino level of the hotel because I didn't want to do something stupid that I would regret later.  Besides, I know it would make me feel lonelier so I didn't need that.  While there, I was definitely doing a lot of comparing of my body to these girls with fake hair, fake boobs and fake everything.  I just felt so inadequate - I guess that's the right word.  I know I have no business comparing myself with other people, especially the fake kind, but it's what I did.  Even when I saw overweight people I wondered if I looked as big as they did. 

I've been back at work for a couple of days now.  Today we had summer registration for our seniors, so I saw a lot of parents that I haven't seen in a while.  And, unfortunately, I saw the looks they exchanged when they saw me.  Last year at this time, I was at almost my lowest weight and it was very evident that I have gained a lot of the weight back.  Not all of it, thank you Lord, but a significant amount.  I held my head high as I walked in front of hundreds of people today but it was extremely difficult for me to do.  Honestly, there was a huge part of me that wanted to just hide away.  It shouldn't matter what other people think but the truth of the matter is that the very things they think are the things I that I think about myself only ten times as worse.  I'm very well aware of the fact that I have gained weight.  I feel like a failure in that respect because there's a big part of me inside that feels like I just couldn't cut it.  Seriously, how hard is it, right?  You just eat less and move more, right??  Perhaps for some people it's as easy as that.  For those of us with an addiction to food or emotional issues that we deal with through food, it's not a simple proposition in the slightest.  I mean, good Lord above, I spent 10 months I think it was purely on Optifast products to lose weight.  I had absolutely no food to speak of for all that time, being 100% compliant on the program.  I was taking in about 500-600 calories a day through the shakes, something like that.  It was crazy, especially with all of the medical issues I was having as a result, but you do desperate things when you are in a desperate situation.  At 420 pounds, I was absolutely desperate.  Other people might not have the drastic consequences that I did on the program, and good for them if that's the case, but it was not good for me in the end.  However, the positive thing that came out of it besides the great friendships I developed with other people going through the same thing was that I recognized I am capable of having a smaller body size.  So I'm working on getting there again through healthy eating and exercise.  The difficult part is that I am in a lot of pain, especially in my legs, so the more I exercise the more pain I'm in.  I'm trying the best I can to push through it because I know things will be better all around when there's less weight on my body.

Ugh.  I wish I could just click my heels together three times like Dorothy and - poof - be in another time and space where I am in a different body.  Yet, I am a faithful person and I am trusting that God is having me go through this time and this difficulty for a reason.  He's loving and a I absolutely know that, so I'm just trying to put one foot in front of the other and do the absolute best I can in this very moment right here.  In the process, I'm trying the best I can to be as loving as possible towards myself.  I need to be able to look in the mirror and honor the person staring back at me.  A lot of people love her, so the least I can do is try to do the same.  I need to be less critical and know that things will come together in due time.  There's a reason I'm not with my ex right now.  Frankly, that &*%! jerk did not deserve me, and so I need to work through those lonely moments and know that this, too, shall pass.  And the times when I'm being critical of my body have to be times where I don't shy away from the mirror but love and accept myself where I stand right now, in this very moment.  It won't be this way forever and if I do the work, it will get better and better each day.  Perhaps there will be physical and emotional pain that comes along with that, but this, too, shall pass.