Thursday, May 29, 2014

There is a really big reason I'm hating the upcoming summer

I'm in a bit of a foul mood today.  I own it and I'm not trying to wallow in it, but I just had to put it out there.  I went to Lane Bryant to find a top.  I have an event to attend on Sunday and so I wanted to see if they had anything there.  I've been recycling the same tops until I get into the next size down.  Lord have mercy, I can't wait until I can wave goodbye to LB.  Everything was either see-through, tank tops or sweaters, not to mention costing an arm and a leg.  I found a top and it fit fine, but it's just too sheer for my event and a tank top doesn't look right underneath it.  While I was there, I decided to try on some bathing suits.  That, my friends, is the really big reason I hate when summer arrives.  Normally, eight weeks off of work and a relaxing summer sounds lovely, but the very idea of sporting a bathing suit right now is completely unappealing to me.  Most of the bathing suits had built-in, padded, push-up bras or just some amazing contraption to squeeze the girls together.

As I looked in the mirror with the bathing suits I tried on, I just got really frustrated and mad.  I don't want to hang out by the pool or at the beach with my boobs on display.  Every single one of those damn suits did that to me.  I have been hit on quite a bit lately through my Twitter and Facebook accounts and I realized that I had profile pics with a revealing top on.  My friends are trying to convince me it's because of my smile and cute hair, but men tend to really like, ahem, prominent cleavage.  Besides that, I just really was unhappy with my arms, legs and belly in the bathing suits.  I finally just walked away and convinced myself that I would rather not subject myself to the stares I will get because of the boobs or because I will feel like the biggest one on the beach.  Yuck, I really did have a hard time with this because I can hear my negativity leaping off the computer screen.

Tomorrow is a new day and I will not be trying on bathing suits.  My dad is coming into town for a visit.  It's really a horrible time for me to host a visit because I have a lot going on at work and was planning on doing some work at home this weekend.  But, he is driving all the way in from Utah so the least I can do is be a good hostess.  Besides, I am looking forward to seeing him.  I just need to figure out how to relax.  I'm grateful my dad is still in my life, alive and well, so I'll take a visit any way I can get it.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Pre-op class #18, weekly weigh-in and still breathing

I know I haven't posted in a week.  My apologies but I've been pretty crazed at work.  We only have a couple of weeks before our kids graduate and I am in charge of our senior awards ceremony so it keeps me very busy at the end of the school year.  I am remembering that there is light at the end of the tunnel, though.
My weekly weigh-in on Monday was not great.  Although this is not a huge amount, I gained two pounds.  Boo. I have been slacking off in logging in my food and I need to turn that around.  I've also not exercised as much as I would like.  I've still got my Fitbit on, so you can see my miles and steps in my Twitter-feed on the right side of the screen.  Some days it was still 10,000 steps or more a day and other days ... not so much.  Powering through though.  I'm not going to beat myself up over not being perfect.

During class, we did talk about nutrition after the bariatric surgery but we also spent some time talking about anger.  One of the things I love about the pre-op classes through Kaiser is that we're not just going over the semantics of the surgery.  While that is important, it's equally as important that we deal with the emotions behind overeating.  I know the surgery is just a tool and it is wise for me to always remember that.  While another classmate was reading a section on anger out for us all to follow along, something triggered memories in the words:

  • Anger is a warning signal that my boundaries (physical, emotional, intellectual, etc.) have been transgressed and that something needs to be done.
  • Anger is an emotional response to internal and/or external conflict.
  • I may have been taught that to feel anger makes me a bad person.
  • Anger is a survival-based emotional response that can be recognized, modulated, and constructively used to deal with internal and external conflict.
The memories that were popping up for me were from when I was a kid and I was being physically abused.  I didn't go to anger ... I went to fear.  Each and every time it was about fear.  In fact, I can't even remember to this day going to the place of anger when it came to all of that.  Those are the same feelings I had when I was raped at 13.  I have never gone to that place of anger about any of that.  I lived in fear and worry.  After the reading in class had stopped, our facilitator asked if we had questions or comments and I couldn't help but raise my hand to express what was going on for me internally.  As I was talking, it made perfect sense that I went to food to help me escape.  Where does a child go when they experience those sorts of things when there is nowhere to run and no one to tell?  Of course there were people around me that could have helped, but I guess not in my fragile mind.  Instead, I crawled inside of myself and escaped to a world of cookies, ice cream, donuts and really anything else that could help me not feel.  If it wasn't food, then it became other outlets later in life, like relationships with men I should have never been with.  My God, when I think about the stupid stuff I did with men, I'm amazed I was never hurt.  Of course, I hurt myself emotionally, but I think you know what I mean.  If it wasn't that, then it was back to the food again until I was in a never ending cycle.  

Oh man, this is hard.  Maybe this has something to do with me being buried in work this week, not posting here, being lax on logging my food in and not getting as much exercise in.  That thought just hit me like a ton of bricks ... maybe it all relates.  Don't get me wrong, I'm really busy this time of year at my job but I have to be honest with myself and ponder whether I'm escaping.  Even though all of that has gone on, I am in a really good place today and I'm definitely grateful for that.  My mom is coming over later so we can have a little barbecue.  It's an act of God for sure that we can even have a relationship today, especially as loving and wonderful as it is now.  It's totally the opposite of what it used to be and that is a miracle.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Fires all around

I have such a great respect for firefighters and police officers.  Living in San Diego County, this is what we have been dealing with for a couple of days.

It has amazed me that as people are fleeing, these incredible men and women have been going straight into the fires fighting on the front lines, dropping fire repellent from the sky and rescuing people from the ground.  In the middle of this is residents, like me, who feel helpless.  I'm caught between feeling survivor's guilt and being ready at a moment's notice to evacuate.  Since I live by myself, the most important things for me to take are my two kitties and my fireproof security box full of important papers.  Everything else really is replaceable at the end of the day.

I am situated about 7-10 miles away from the heart of a fire in my city.  This particular fire actually started in an adjacent city and then drifted into mine.  It's on the west end of the city and I'm on the east, so I'm not feeling immediate danger of my house burning down.  However, the smoke and ash have drifted into my area so it is harder to breathe.  I first noticed it this morning when, like a supreme idiot, I went out into my backyard to work on some weeds.  My school district is closed down today and tomorrow because of the fires, so I figured I had time to work out there before it hit the 104 degrees at home it eventually would today.  In a matter of minutes, I was coughing pretty consistently.  It just didn't dawn on me that I was close enough to be affected.  Doh!

I wanted to get some exercise in since I did a pretty bad job with reaching my step goal yesterday.  I couldn't go walking outside and my gym is closed due to poor air quality, so I decided to walk in place at home while watching the news coverage.  This just goes to prove to me that I can get in my exercise no matter what the circumstances.

Later on in the day, feeling mentally exhausted from fire-talk all day long, my therapist had a last minute booking and was able to squeeze me into an appointment since I had miss it yesterday because of the fires.  I had to drive through town to get to the freeway since my appointment was a little distance away.  While I'm not in immediate danger from the fire, you can see it coming my way.

I pray for all those people who lost their homes to the fires (there are nine in our county right now) and those in danger.  I pray for the continued strength of the first responders.  I have no idea how they're doing it.  Just watching them is exhausting!  Tomorrow I'm going to drive out to the coast to get some exercise in at the beach where there is some fresh air, no soot falling from the sky and a little bit cooler weather than at home.  I pray they can contain these fires soon.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Pre-op class #17, weekly weigh-in and a fire

I had a weight loss of three pounds this week, bringing my grand total to 80 pounds down from my highest weight.  Score!  That felt really good.  During class this week, we had a guest speaker from Bariatric Advantage.  They have products such as bariatric vitamins, protein supplements and more so we spent most of the time on that.  We talked about what our vitamin needs would be after surgery and taste-tested products.  I think I'll be ordering my products through them because we get a discount through Kaiser and the shipping is free.  Besides, they have a selection of lactose-free protein drinks and that is definitely what I need.  They will even send us samples to try first.  If I go with the gastric bypass surgery, then I will just need two multi-vitamin chewables and three calcium chewables.

Forgive my dry hand!  On the left is a chocolate sugar-free calcium chewable
and on the right is an advancted multi-vitamin chewable.
They were pretty tasty and definitely something that made the surgery seem less scary.  Don't get me wrong, it's still major surgery, but I guess it brought it down to a level that seemed very doable for me.  I have been spending some time doing more research into my options with the sleeve versus the bypass.  While it looks like I will probably have the bypass at this point, I'm not ruling anything out.  I'm definitely keeping a very open mind and being willing to explore every possible advantage and disadvantage of both the bypass and sleeve.  I just have to remember to be very honest with myself through this entire process.  I'm seeing my therapist tomorrow so I know we'll be talking this out as well.

Today at work we had an unexpected turn of events when a pretty big fire hit our local area.  Our high school became an evacuation center for one of our elementary schools.  Imagine the scared faces of little ones walking onto a big high school campus waiting for their parents to come pick them up.  I helped direct the kids to our gymnasium and then answered parent questions.  I also was all over campus, delivering off-campus passes to kids with parents picking them up because their home was being evacuated.  Then, because the fire was heading towards our campus, we had to move all the elementary kids to another high school and then prepare for the early release of our own high school kids.  What drove me nuts was that our kids were just hanging around campus afterwards and I had to get a little mean and tell them to leave campus now!  They just sort of looked dumbfounded at me, as if I was an alien from outer space speaking a foreign language.  I received this message from a friend on Facebook while everything was going on:

"I tried to take a photo of you off our TV. Twice there was a close up on Ch8 of the high school letting out & I saw you w/2 other adults in front of school. Just as I'd get my camera focused, the camera panned on to another scene.  I like your purple top. Very pretty.  Get home safely."

About the time that we were all catching our breath and trying to get cool from the heat outdoors (it was in the 90's after all), the fire started coming over the mountain towards our high school.

It actually was much worse than this picture shows.  When it started inching more towards us, I finally decided to get out of there.  I wasn't wearing shoes that were conducive for a lot of walking, so I felt blisters on my heels and I was sunburned all over, even on top of my feet.  Of course you do what you need to do, especially when you're protecting children.  The thing with that is that this body is not made for being on my feet for a long period of time or running across campus multiple times.  I get reminded over and over again every single day that I'm doing the right thing by pursuing bariatric surgery.  I need to be in a healthier place.  Sure, there's a tiny bit of vanity involved but, really, it's all about health.  I can't begin to describe the pain my body is in every day.  Just trust me when I tell you that a 125 pound body is much different than a 340 pound body, that's for sure.  I'm working on it every day, but I really can't wait until it's time to go in for the surgery.

Friday, May 9, 2014

What exactly is an eating disorder?

I started working on the packet of questions and answers I have to return to the surgeon's office as part of the process to get bariatric surgery.  I knew it was going to be pretty intense, so I wanted to spend some time focusing on the questions and being as thorough as possible.  From history, I know these sorts of things are pretty invasive.  I was prepared to see things asking about all the diets I've been on, checking boxes in regards to conditions I've had, describing previous surgeries and that sort of thing.  They ask everything under the sun and I have had a lot of the ailments.

Sleep Apnea - yes
Diabetes - yes
Osteoarthritis - yes
Cancer - yes
Fatigue - yes
Numbness - yes
Dizziness - yes

I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.  They were looking for dates, names of doctors I've seen and many more details that I just couldn't remember.  I did remember, though, that I could log into my Kaiser account online and grab some info.  I found a handy PDF that I was able to download with some vital information.  It was actually a pretty nifty document with so much detail.  I started perusing it and then I got to a section that talked about my active problems.  The list of conditions is ongoing and the dates for these things is reflected by the last time a diagnosis was put in to the system.  I think they also group things together.  I didn't see a listing for the osteoarthritis, for example, but I know it has been diagnosed.

I recently had a little bit of a high reading on my last two blood pressure check-ups, so my doctor put me on some medication until I go in for surgery.  I knew about that one.  The one that surprised me, though, was the diagnoses noted on February 19th of this year for an eating disorder.  I thought about who I saw at that time and that was just after I had an appointment with my therapist.

I just stared at it, almost in disbelief.  I had never before had a medical professional tell me that I had that. When most people think of an eating disorder, the things that come to mind are those who suffer from anorexia or bulimia.  Think about what you hear in the news.  Never is someone who is obese given the same consideration because we're thought of as not being able to control ourselves versus, for example, someone who is bulimic and just can't stop purging.  At the end of the day, isn't it the same disease, just manifested in a different way?  I started to wonder and so I looked up some information.

The National Eating Disorders Association describes a binge eating disorder with details such as "indications that the binge eating is out of control, such as eating when not hungry, eating to the point of discomfort ..."  The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders explains binge eating disorder as, among other things, "cravings that can occur any time of the day or night, usually secretive, and filled with shame.  Bingeing is often rooted in poor body image, use of food to deal with stress, low self-esteem and tied to dysfunctional thoughts."

Wow.  That's pretty intense on one hand and, on the other, it also is amazing that the medical community is starting to look at this with more consideration.  I do want to spend some time looking at those websites a little more, as well as others.  This helps me feel less stigmatized in a sense.  Even when I went to the talk with the surgeon the other day, he kept talking about how obesity is a disease and that we need to take serious action towards eradicating it.  This is exactly why I am pursing weight loss surgery.  I have tried a million things to try to lose the weight and keep it off.  I mean, think about what I did when I was on Optifast ... I ate no solid food for eight or nine months.  I even got permission to take communion at church once a month to make sure I wasn't ruining anything.  Clearly I have given it my all before taking the radical step of having surgery.

While the diagnosis of "eating disorder" initially was pretty shocking to me, I can see now where actually it was a blessing in disguise.  I really don't have to feel like this is a judgment towards my character or feeling as if I'm lazier than other people.  There is a treatment plan in place for me to help put it in remission.  I pray daily for the courage to keep walking forward through all the hills and valleys that I encounter on my journey towards a healthier life.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Pre-op class #16, weekly weigh-in and thrown for a loop

I have a deep suspicion this post is gonna be a long one - a lot has happened since my last post.

First off, thanks so much for your sweet messages from my last post.  Reflecting on my experience with cancer has really helped me actually be very centered for things that happened Monday and Tuesday.  Looking at my own scar from my back seems pretty surreal.  Most of the time, I forget the scar is there unless I'm having pain from the scar tissue, which tends to be on a regular basis, or I catch a glimpse of it.  Regardless, I'd rather have the scars than cancer.

On Monday was my regular pre-op bariatric class.  I was a tinge disappointed with my weigh-in results this week, having lost two pounds.  I have to keep reminding myself that all of the losses are adding up, so it does not have to be a gargantuan number.  In fact, even though our goal is to lose ten percent of our body weight before going in for the surgery, the doctor who approved me said I'm okay if I don't lose weight but I just shouldn't gain any.  Besides, these additional two pounds brings me down to 77 pounds from my heighest weight.  So, I'm reminded that the bigger picture is the most important piece of this.

We're done with week 16 now, which was about post-surgery exercise.  We have just eight weeks left.  Wow!  We discussed the things that we can start doing now to ensure as much success as possible after the surgery.  For this week's class, our regular facilitator wasn't there so our structure was a little different with a sub.  This class was particularly odd because a stranger just happened to walk into our room by accident.  The place where our class is situated is in a corner room, so most people don't come there unless they are specifically looking for it.  It turns out that she was looking for a person in one of the classes, but it was the wrong time.  This person, though, had bariatric surgery six months ago.  We took the opportunity to ask her questions while she was there.  It was pretty funny because she stood in front of our class for about 45 minutes and gave us an impromptu talk on her story.  She had gastric bypass surgery and we haven't had one of those speakers yet, so we threw a million questions at her.  She was a great sport, though, because she answered every single one and even ended up showing us her tummy to let us know what the incisions looked like.  Imagine that ... a complete stranger lifting her shirt and showing us her tummy.  I loved that!

Prior to her walking in the room, I was one hundred percent all about the sleeve.  I had my mind made up that it was going to be the surgery I would select when it was time to let the surgeon know my decision.  There was absolutely no question in my mind. Then she shared her experience and I sat there almost in stunned silence because I was seriously starting to question my decision.  I know that everybody has a different story.  Some people have a great surgical experience and some are not so great.  I know that deep down inside, especially with all the research I've done and talking to various people online.  I have a good friend that had the bypass as well and I will often throw random questions her way.  She very sweetly answers them every single time [thank you for that my love!].  With the telling of her story, the person who happened to walk into our class told us about the fact that she had no pain from the surgery, no side effects, being able to be more active with her kids and so much more.  She also talked about the difficult parts, like mourning over not being able to eat certain foods and having an episode of dumping.  Yet, she kept saying, "You guys will be fine, you'll be just fine."  No matter what difficulties came up, she reiterated that she had absolutely no doubts about her decision and wished she had done it sooner.  I listened to her story and I thought to myself, "Gosh, that doesn't sound bad at all."  I keep wondering what I was so afraid of with the bypass.  I listed to her, asked questions along with other people and left there feeling struck with a million more questions inside.

What have been my issues with the bypass?  Well, for one, the malabsorption that occurs is a concern.  I thought about the fact that I would have to take supplements for the rest of my life.  I never went to the place of consideration that I'm already taking medication, so what's the big leap?  If I don't take my insulin, for example, I'm pretty screwed.  Then the idea of having my intestines moved around scared me.  What if they surgeon makes a mistake?  What is my course of action at that point?  It's a permanent surgery and my system will be forever changed.  Okay, that's a valid concern.  I also had thought a lot about stories I have heard of people gaining the weight back and other possible complications.  I was forgetting that the sleeve comes with its own potential issues.  Yet, that stranger's talk was replaying in my head and I wondered if perhaps I was closing my mind to at least being open to looking at the other side more.

The next night, which was last night, I had the infomation session with a surgeon at Pacific Bariatric.  It is a requirement for us to go to at least one information session prior to being referred for surgery.  With the discussion from the previous night replaying in my head, I reminded myself that I needed to have an open mind and be as honest with myself as possible.  As I drove up to the hospital, was incredibly nervous.  As I looked at the buildings, I was hit with the realization that my life would be changing forever in one of those rooms in just a few months.  Holy crap!

Our session was in the auditorium of the hospital.  I chose a seat right in the front.  I work in education, so I always rationalize to myself that I'll learn better if I'm sitting in the front.  I sat literally in front of the doctor - no better seat than that as far as I'm concerned.  I must say that he was absolutely amazing and I hope I can choose him as my surgeon.  He had an incredible bedside manner.  He was personable, spoke concisely, educated us and made himself available for absolutely every question the audience threw at him.  His approach to the issue of surgery was to first help us understand about the nature of obesity.  He didn't just stand in front of us and tell us we were overweight because we ate too much.  He came right out and described how obesity is a disease.  He talked about the factors that go into it, such as genetic, environmental, psycho-social and more.  I wanted to get up and give him a big hug because I felt like he "got" it.  This isn't just about this particular surgeon, but the entire Pacific Bariatric practice.  The approach was much more than just about the surgery itself, reminding us that this is not a diet but a new lifestyle.  Many doctors do judge patients who are overweight.  Yes, they are quite caring, but I can't tell you how many times I have been looked over and judged by the medical community for my weight.  I didn't feel that at all last night.  I just can't express enough how absolutely impressed I was with the talk.

Because I had such a primo seat, I was able to really pay attention when he demonstrated how each of the surgeries work and what our bodies look like internally before and after.  I wanted to focus, so I didn't take any notes until I got home.  This is such an important decision in my life with such a major surgery.  It is going to affect the rest of my life, so I wanted to be present enough and open enough to hear everything.  In my mind, I was really starting to focus more on the bypass and less on the sleeve, just like I had in the impromptu talk the night before.  As a diabetic patient who has sleep apnea and other issues, I needed to know what was the right choice for me.  As if reading my mind, the discussion started going in that direction.  The doctor told us that, when we meet with a surgeon, we will talk about all the options and select the one that is going to serve us the best in terms of long-term success for our specific needs.  My surgeon will not be telling me which surgery to have, but he will be giving me his recommendation as we discuss my options together.  There were a couple of things that really stuck out for me:

  • If a person has a severe case of diabetes and is taking insulin, they recommend the bypass.  While it is possible to go into remission with the sleeve, the chances are much better with the bypass.  I knew this, but the doctor was pretty clear to say that those on insulin benefit much more with the bypass than those just taking oral medications.
  • If a person has more than 150 pounds to lose, they recommend the bypass.  While people can lose a lot on the sleeve, and many have, the chances for losing all my excess weight and getting into a healthy BMI range is great with the bypass.  The very idea of being in a healthy weight range brings tears to my eyes. 
  • The rate of complications is very low with the bypass.  Their statistic is that one patient in every two thousand, or .28 percent, may have a complication.  In the over 16,000 bariatric surgeries they have performed, only four had to go in for revision surgery because of a complication.  They have only had one death and that was not related to the surgery, but it did happen a month after it was performed.  In fact, they are a center of excellence and have the best morbidity rate in the nation.  In the nation.  
  • There is thirty years of data that backs up the success of the bypass versus no long-term data for the sleeve since it has only been around for nine years.  This does not mean the sleeve is not a great surgery, but there just simply is a lot of history with the bypass.
If you haven't figured it out already, I am seriously considering the bypass again after the talks on both Monday and last night.  I believe in my heart, stronger than I can ever express in words, that it was God's hand at work that our visitor appeared in class on Monday.  Had she not come in, my heart would not have been as open to the possibility of the bypass in yesterday's information session.  His hand was at work as well last night with such an impressive surgeon.  I am praying that I continue having an open heart and a willingness to search my soul for the truth of what is going to be the right decision for me.  At the end of the day, the decision is going to be mine and mine alone.  Clearly I am going to take everything into consideration, but I also know that I have to be honest with myself.  Don't I want to give myself the best opportunity for long-term success and  the possibility of a healthy, long life?  Of course.  

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Started out with the end of the water challenge, but had cancer on my mind

This post was going to start out with how excited I am to have finished my 100-day water challenge.  Here's the post I put on my Facebook page this morning.

Back in January, I got involved in a "Drink Your Water Challenge" thanks to xxx. It was 5 days of drinking half your body weight in ounces of water every day. It was so good for me that I turned it into a 100-day water challenge, which I have now completed. Over these last several months, I have turned a hatred of drinking water into a habit. I'm not perfect every day, but it has been such a major turnaround. In this time, I have hardly had any diet soda, started exercising every day and dropped nearly 30 pounds as of today. Does it all have to do with the water challenge? All I know for sure is that it got me on my way. If you took up the challenge, too, I'd love to hear how you're doing. Now that I'm done, I'll still continue drinking my water because I've now come to love it.

I am so glad to have made this very important change in my life.  It's really helping me now as I lose weight and even more so when the time comes for my weight loss surgery.  Now something else has come up for me that I need to write about.

As I have shared on here before, I had cancer a couple of years ago.  This month marks two years, maybe three, since I was diagnosed with melanoma.  The difficult part with that type of cancer is that many people don't take it as seriously because it's "just" skin cancer.  The first thing most people would ask me when they found I had it was how much time I spent out in the sun when I was a kid.  The problem with that is that melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer and happens even when people don't spend a crazy amount of time in the sun.  Of course I felt judged, wondering if I caused this myself.  Melanoma continues to grow and, if not removed in time, it will kill you.  My surgeon was the first one to really help me understand how serious it was.  What appeared like a good-sized mole on the outside was actually embedded far into my body and required a very long and deep incision to remove it. No amount of food I could binge on would ever take that fact away.

Up to that point, I had never had a surgery where I was put under anesthesia, let alone been cut open out of necessity.  The reason I'm bringing this up now was that I was watching a movie called 50/50 tonight.  I think it came out about a year ago with Joseph Gordan-Levitt and Seth Rogan.  It's the story of two friends, the cancer diagnosis of one and walking through the journey towards health together.  It was the first time I had watched a movie about cancer since I had it.  Oh my gosh, it was such an emotional thing to watch.  They did a great job with the movie, but watching it helped me realize all that not only I went through, but also my family and friends.  My mother cried in the waiting room while I was being operated on.  My dad came in from Utah to take care of me while we waited to hear back from the surgeon to find out if it had spread or not.  I had 30 staples in my back and I was in great pain (at the bottom of this post is what my back looks like from the surgery, but I'm warning you before you scroll down just in case scars flip you out).  I had so many friends praying for my healing.

In the middle of all of this was me.

I had moments of sinking to my knees in tears.  I remember taking a shower one day before I had the operation and I just went to the corner in the shower and cried while the water continued to spray on me.  For the most part, I was numb and was going through the motions.  I did what I needed to get done.  It wasn't until I watched this movie and remembered my same moments that paralleled the character that I understood what a blessing it is that I'm still here.  Really, in retrospect, the overeating with food is just stupid.  I didn't have a situation that brought this on necessarily.  It's just that I do have those moments where I see a particular food and I want to eat it.  And for what?  Pardon my language, but I had fucking cancer.  Cancer.  The very idea of going to food to solve some problem is just asinine in comparison.  I'm not minimizing the fight we all have with it, not at all.  It's just the fears I have over not being successful with the surgery because I'm afraid that I'll still overeat is nowhere in the same ballpark as the fear of dying I had with cancer.  I don't have to fear not being successful because I'm doing everything I'm supposed to be doing.  In those moments of doubts, I can embrace whatever feelings are behind that and know that I can still keep moving forward.  I have such an amazing support system of family and friends, as well as all of you reading this.  I have a great therapist that helps me get to the heart of the fears and, especially, God who is always by my side holding my hand.

Wow, this was a pretty deep post.  I'm so grateful to be cancer-free as I write this.  Below is the picture of my back.  The long scar goes from the bottom of my shoulder blade all the way down to my waist.  The little circle above it was when we did another biopsy because there was a suspicion that it had spread.  I've actually had four such biopsies after having the original surgery.  Not serious my ass!  Okay, enough of my potty mouth for tonight :-)

Friday, May 2, 2014

Shocking to read about food addiction in that magazine

I have a couple of fitness magazine subscriptions that I get every month.  I signed up for them during a time when I got really cheap deals, like $10 for a year.  I was interested in healthier ways of living, exercises to do at home and inspirational stories of transformation.  I'm slowly letting the subscriptions run out because I find myself having less time to read them and after getting them for a few years, it seems like the same types of stories are recycled.

I picked up my latest issue of Shape with Ivanka Trump on the cover and eye-grabbing headlines, such as:

Easy Weight Loss:  See Results in 4 Days
Trimmed and Toned in 23 Minutes
Send Your Sex Drive Soaring

I don't want to bag on Shape, but I did roll my eyes and felt like my decision to let go of the subscription was a good thing.  Maybe those articles are something a lot of people look for, but I guess I have moved on.  I'm more interested in making lifestyle changes that will stay with me over the long haul and not the latest faddish trend that's just more of the same for me.

I was absolutely floored, though, when I stumbled upon an article in their May issue, Could you eat just one?  A sidebar had this lead-in:  "If snacking on cookies, chips, or other treats regularly becomes a binge, some experts might consider you an addict.  Here's what you should know about compulsive eating - and how to maintain a healthy relationship with food."

Wow!  I was intrigued that they were delving into such a deep and searching subject.  Not many people openly talk about food addiction without putting some sort of societal judgement upon the subject.  In fact, the addiction to food is presented as almost a non-issue as compared to drug or alcohol addiction.  Those are much more serious than a little problem with food, at least in the eyes of those that look down on the issue.  The truth is that food addiction is a problem and the fact that most don't consider it to be so only aids in it becoming a bigger problem.  It is really easy to say to someone, "Just push away from the table" or "Why don't you just eat less and exercise more?"  If you have an addiction, how do you do that exactly?  Can you imagine telling an alcoholic, "Just stop drinking alcohol and drink more water."  It's not that simple.

I was really pleased with how deeply the article went into cravings versus addiction and identifying what may be the difference for people.  I certainly identified with the danger of having certain foods in my kitchen because I know I just can't stop with having only a little bit.  For me, a bag of this or a carton of that calls to me until it's all gone.  I'm generally fine when things are out of my house, but not when they are brought in.  It's so fascinating that I can abstain from a certain food group for a long time but still be drawn back like a moth to a flame.

I remember a situation a long time ago that made it clear as day to me that I was addicted to food or could be labeled as a compulsive eater.  I had a situation at my workplace over fifteen years ago in which a student had threatened to commit suicide over the phone with me.  I handled the situation at the time, but I did request the opportunity to participate in refresher crisis intervention training.  A little bit later, a workshop was being held and so I decided to attend.  We talked about a lot of issues in that workshop, but one such area was about addiction and the hold it has over an individual and their loved ones.  We role-played interventions, which was so eye-opening for me.  Our scenario was that we were dealing with a student who was addicted to drugs and were doing an intervention with him.  As this activity was going on, I thought to myself, "My God, this could be me except with food and not drugs."  Then, when we watched the video of an actual intervention in that dark room, tears started to fall down my face as I realized that it not only could be me but it was me.  In that moment, I knew that it was more than just mind over matter.

I applaud Shape for tackling such a difficult subject.  It takes a lot to stand behind such a controversial topic, but they did it justice The best part of the article for me was the ending piece where it talked about a person who had weight loss surgery.  She got to a normal body size but her "mind remained hungry".  As I work my way towards my own surgery in the next few months, I have to remain ever vigilant to doing the work to heal the addictive part of my relationship with food.  I'm so glad I am continuing to seek the advice of my wise therapist and participate in my weekly bariatric classes.  Those things are really aiding in my healing and leading towards a healthier life.

Water Challenge Day 98:  Drank 180 of 178 ounces