Wednesday, December 25, 2013

I Survived Christmas!

Merry Christmas All!!!

Everyone worries about the holidays and the bad eating that seems to automatically ensue with them.  I'm no exception.  There's just so. much. food.  Constantly.  From light snacks in never ending supply to gargantuan dinners, not to mention the seemingly ENDLESS stream of cookies and the booze that flows freely throughout the entire season,  it's just a recipe for disaster.

I've tried to make sure I'm not going too crazy, and I've found that my big downfall at this point is not that I eat too much - I'm physically unable to do so - but that I eat more often than I need to, and that I eat all the wrong stuff.  Because I don't really ever get full when I do this, I tend to not pay attention to exactly what I'm putting in my mouth.  A cookie here, a candy there, a chip here, another cookie there, a piece of cheese, a half glass of wine, repeat repeat repeat.  There are days when I just graze all day long and by the time I go to bed I feel gross because I've just been nibbling on salt and fat and sugar all day long.  And the sugar - that's the big one.  

Unlike a bypass patient, I can have sugar.  I'm not at risk for "dumping" syndrome like a gastric bypass patient is, so a little sugar isn't going to kill me.  Except it kind of does.  I've noticed that if I eat something with a lot of sugar in it all at once - a candy bar, for example - I get the sensation that I've taken a stimulant.  I get shaky, "speedy," and disoriented.  But if I take in a lot of sugar in small doses throughout the day it produces a feeling of general malaise along with intestinal upset that catches up with me when I'm least expecting it and causes all kinds of havoc. 

It's not the end of the world, and I'm not going to beat myself up about it.  But I'm also not going to allow myself to slip into complacency.  As of right now my goal is to eat cleanly for the next week, get all my workouts in, and to be way more mindful about my eating on New Year's than I was over the last few days.   If the way I feel tonight is a lesson, I've learned it.   

Other than that, my Christmas was phenomenal.  One thing I've noticed is that I'm a lot more easygoing around my three nieces and my nephew than I have been before, and I think that's largely due to the fact that I have more energy to expend on them.  They still wear me out after an hour, but not like they used to.  Hell, just picking up a Barbie doll off the floor was enough to wind me before.  Now I can actually jump around and play with them without feeling like I'm going to pass out after five minutes.  Because I have more energy,  they don't stress me out so much.  And I think they really picked up on that.  We all had a great time.

And since you all seem to like my posts better when I produce photographic anecdotes, here's a picture of me with my nephew right after he was born two years ago in November of 2011,  followed by a photo of us on Christmas Eve this year.  We both look a LOT different, yeah? ;-)

That's all for now.  I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and if I don't get back here before then, here's wishing you all a very happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Eight Month Update: All the Stuff That Fits

It was actually a few days ago, but I'm just now getting around to posting this entry.  But...


I didn't bother to take progressive-series photos this time because I don't think there's a huge difference between last time I took a picture and now, but here are my current stats as of today:

Starting weight on 3/31/13 (start of pre-op diet): 259.8
Surgery Day weight on 4/10/13: 244.2
Current weight 12/10/13: 155.8
Total weight lost: 104 pounds (WOOHOO! I hit the 100 pound mark)!!!
Goal weight: 143
Pounds to goal: 12.8

Now, about my goal.  I chose 143 as a sort of arbitrary number.  My ideal weight is somewhere between 140 and 145, so 143 seemed like a reasonable point for which to aim.  However, I really do think that number is fluid.  I may get to 148 and decide I like it there.  I may get to 143 and decide to keep going and lose more.  I'm not basing it on the number on the scale, but rather on how I feel.  I'll know when I'm done. 

I've had a lot of people ask me recently if I've reached my goal yet, and when I tell them I still have about 10-15 pounds to go, they balk.  "No, you don't!" they'll say.  And I know they mean it as a compliment, but look.  These are people who have only seen me with clothes on.  These are people who knew me at 260 pounds and are comparing how I look now to how I looked then.  Yeah, I know I look a heck of a lot better, but I also know I'm not where I want to be yet. I know my body.  I know from experience where I feel most comfortable.  

I also know the excess skin that's a byproduct of this weight loss is contributing to a more than a few extra pounds as well.  So what I'm trying to do now is focus not so much on the number, but on my fitness and my measurements.   My BMI is currently 26, which is still in the "overweight" zone.  So that's really the number I'm concerned with.  Getting that number into the normal range of 19-24 is what I need to concentrate on.  Ultimately the more fat I lose, the less liposuction I'll need when it comes time to do the reconstruction stuff.  The more muscle I build the faster I will heal from the surgery.   And all of this translates into less money overall.  Insurance will cover some of it, but still it will come with a hefty copay. 

So.  Even though I didn't take a progressive-series shot this month, I do have some photos to post.  First, a look back at surgery day:

April 10, 2013
And a photo of me taken last weekend during the Messiah concert:

December 1, 2013

Granted, the first photo is of me in a hospital gown - not the most flattering garment out there, but still.

Here's another set, taken almost exactly a year apart at work.  First day of the holiday drink launch last year and this year:

It's time for new glasses, obviously.  Who knew you could actually shrink out of EYEGLASSES?  They don't tell you these things.  I mean, it's pretty much a given that you'll need to buy new clothes, but eyeglasses?  And shoes.  Most of my shoes are now at least a half size too big.  Who knew?

But I've had some other pleasant surprises, like my winter boots finally zipping up all the way to the top for the first time in EVER.  For real.  When I bought them  eight years ago they didn't zip all the way up, but I liked them and they were warm so I bought them anyway.  Now, eight winters later, they FINALLY fit.  The feet are now a little too big, but the shafts fit around my calves!

And here was the nicest surprise so far.   Several years ago my Claddagh ring, which I have had since my favorite aunt gave it to me as an 18th birthday gift and which I'd worn almost constantly since then, had to be shelved after my finger got too fat for it.  A couple weeks ago the rings I usually wear had gotten so big that they started slipping off my fingers, and even my biggest fingers could no longer contain them.  So I thought, "oh, I wonder if my Claddagh fits," and I went in search of it.  I pulled it out of the jewelry box, cleaned the tarnish off of it, and slipped it on my finger.  It fit.  It'd been probably nine years since I'd been able to wear this ring, and here it was on that finger again.

So, yeah.   Probably one of the happiest moments in this journey so far for me.  I skipped the bracelet charm when I hit my 100-pound mark because I can't afford one right now, but this made up for it.  Being able to pull this out and wear it again: priceless.  And I'm finding that many of the best moments along the way truly are.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Food is All the Rage

This is a WAY long overdue post, I know.  Sorry, but life just got in the way and as much as I wanted to write, I just kept putting it off.   Various projects, plus my chorus obligations, plus the holidays approaching, blah blah blah...standard excuse fare, really.

Anyway.  Tomorrow is my 8-month surgiversary.  I'm going to post my stats and such later on.  But before I get there, there's some other stuff I want to talk about first.

In the last few months I've noticed a disturbing trend with my temper.  Growing up and into early adulthood I was a hot head and had some genuine anger management issues.  But I was not allowed to throw tantrums as a kid, so I often ended up bottling the anger until I eventually exploded in a spectacular display of rage, complete with blackouts and mass destruction -- holes in walls, broken objects, and even sometimes (unintentional) self-injury.   Once I was out on my own, I stopped bottling the anger and, because I'd never learned how to control it properly, would just fly off the handle with the slightest provocation.  It was bad.

As I got older, I learned to get a handle on the anger through self-help, a shrink named Wendy, and a boss who was like, "you get zero more chances to stop yelling and throwing things on the sales floor. And you owe me a new stapler."

Initially I learned to channel it by crying, and to this day I will still cry buckets when I'm pissed off.  People misinterpret this a lot and think I'm just a crybaby, but whatever.  It beats a sharp stick in the eye, which is what those in my direct path may actually risk experiencing if I don't go the other direction and just bawl a river when I see red.  It's worked for years at this point.  I have also learned to control it through meditation, breathing, chanting, and prayer.

But in these last few months I've experienced anger impulses again.  I'm not talking about my pointed, near-breathless rants on Facebook and such.  I'm talking about actual, physical tantrums. Not to the point of blacking out like I used to, but still badly enough that I got worried.  The door-slamming, glass-smashing incident with Polyridiculous Guy on Halloween was just one in a series.  There have been other altercations, too - incidents that I don't even want to write about here because I'm genuinely embarrassed by my behavior - and it's become clear to me that I need to calm the fuck down.

But why is this happening?  What the hell?

After thinking about it and talking it through with a close friend, it finally dawned on me that for years I have been using food as a calming mechanism.  That I used it as a crutch to deal with feelings was never a secret, but somehow I never connected it with anger. (!)  Yet looking back, it's pretty damn crystal.  Of course I ate when I was angry. If I was pissed off, a distended belly full of sugar, fat, and salt was soothing.  And it was safe. If I was shoving Little Debbies down my gullet, I couldn't scream and hurl things across the room.  Except maybe a Little Debbie, but as far as I know no one's ever been injured by a flying Swiss Roll.  And then eventually I would be so stuffed that I'd pass out, and when I woke up I'd no longer be angry at my boss, my boyfriend, my mother, or the bank.  I'd only be angry at myself.  So I'd cry a little, then wipe my eyes, blow my nose, take a few swigs of Mylanta, and roll on my way.  Problem solved.  Except not.

Well, guess what.  That's not an option anymore.  Not that I haven't tried, mind you.  I've written in previous entries about my brain and how it keeps telling me to eat things that I shouldn't, and when I do that my stomach is all, "no way, don't put that shit in here" about it.  But because I can no longer use food to drug my temper into submission, it's like someone just unhitched the beast from the post and let it run amok.  Reining it in has proven to be a whole new challenge that I'd never even considered when all this started.  I had almost forgotten what a temper I had because it'd been a really long time since I'd lost it.  But now that I understand where it's all coming from I'm better able to deal with it and have resolved to catch myself and breathe, pray, meditate, run up and down the stairs a few times, go lift some weights...anything I can do.  Just because I've attempted to free myself from one set of shackles doesn't mean I can just go settle into a new rut of equally bad behavior.  So that's it.

Man. I knew there'd be turbulence on this journey, but I didn't expect it to be the kind that makes even the flight attendants nervous, with oxygen masks popping out of the overhead hatch and whatnot.  This was a real revelation.  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Some Things Just Never Change

Recently I decided I was ready to put myself back into the dating pool.  Why?  Who knows.  I guess perhaps I thought that with my newfound confidence and the expanded options an "average" body type classification might attract, that maybe I was ready to give it another go.  I thought perhaps this go-around would be different somehow, that maybe I wouldn't get recycled messages from the same fucking people I'd been getting messages from since I moved here ten years ago.

Dating, to which anyone who's known me for any length of time can attest, has never been an easy thing for me.  Out of the past 20 years, only a collective six or so years has been spent in an active relationship - and most of those collective years happened more than ten years ago.  So, you know - I'm not all that hip on how this shit works.  And after I moved back to Buffalo in 2003, I realized that being older and child-free was a definite disadvantage to meeting anyone of quality - or at the very least someone who was on the same page as me.   I go back and forth with this - sometimes I feel ready to meet someone so I put myself out there, but I give up pretty quickly and pull my profiles down after I get messages from the first half-dozen clueless jerks who clearly haven't bothered to read my profile.

This time I got a message from someone who seemed to really understand what I was looking for.  What I am looking for, in so many words, is attachment without commitment.  I'm looking for someone to date.  Not marry, not glue myself to, but someone who can be my friend, my lover, and my activity partner on a number of different levels while still maintaining our respective independence.  I'm in no hurry to move in with someone or move someone in with me.  I'm very protective of my personal space, and I need someone in my life who will have his own place to land if I'm not in the mood for his company.  I'm in no rush to walk down the aisle.  I'm not even really all that gung-ho about exclusivity - at least not right away.  If after a few dates it looks like we're compatible and we want to exclude anyone else from the equation, well...we cross that bridge when we get to it.  In other words, I just want to date.  Too many people misunderstand my intentions and think I'm looking for a husband.  I'm not.  I'm 42 years old, for Christ's sake.  What's the point?

Anyway, like I said, I met someone who was almost frighteningly compatible.  He answered my ad because my adamancy about independence caught his eye, among other things.  He, too, had the same requirement and seemed very enthused that he'd found someone who felt the same way.  He was terrifically attractive, smart, talented, creative, and cultured.  He was in theatre! He liked coffee!  You'd not BELIEVE how many men I meet who don't drink coffee.  And not only was he handsome, smart, talented, creative, cultured, and a coffee drinker, but he was also a WLS patient.  I mean...really?!  We had MAD stuff in common.  I felt like I'd hit the jackpot.

After writing and texting for a couple of weeks, we finally found time to meet.  We spent the entire afternoon together, and then got back together and picked up where we left off later that same night.  It went great.  I was like, "wow!  I think I met someone I really, actually, honestly get along with!"  He was polite, clean, and had wonderful manners, was quirky and odd in a number of good ways, and I felt comfortable with him.  We made arrangements for another date - Halloween.  Everyone knows how much I love Halloween, so this was extra exciting to me.  He was going to come over and help me hand out candy, and then we were potentially going to hit my friends' show later in the evening.   All week long we texted and Facebooked, and by the time Thursday came I couldn't wait to see him.  He even promised to wear a kilt.  Hot.

I spent all day Thursday running around getting ready.  He had just quit smoking, so I wanted to put together a little "Quit Kit" for him; things that had helped me quit that I thought would benefit him, too.  I had gotten him some tea, but I wanted to put more in there.  So I hit the road and went to about seven different stores trying to find exactly the right stuff - and the right vessel to put it in.  When all was said and done I had a nice little gift bag stuffed with silly shit - tea, rubberbands, suckers, candy, a squeezie ball, and a card.  My house was a mess from having moved everything in my studio to accommodate Christopher's move (my best friend, who moved into that space earlier this week), so I then had to bust my ass to get that taken care of, all while answering the droves of trick-or-treaters that kept arriving at my door.  An hour before Kilt Guy arrived, I texted Chris in a panic.  "He'll be here in an hour and the kitchen is fucked." Chris texted back, "Don't worry.  I'll come clean it while you get ready."  Did I mention that this guy is my best friend?  Well, now you know why.

While I showered and primped (yeah, I shaved my legs, even), Chris cleaned my kitchen.  I was just finishing getting dressed when Kilty arrived.  I let him in and he looked weird.  Hot, as usual, but weird. I was flitting about, lighting candles and trying to calm my nerves, so I told him to have a seat on the couch and I'd be there as soon as I could.  I got him a glass of water and sat down next to him.  I started chatting about my day and my upcoming events and whatnot, and suddenly he interrupted me.  He said, "Hey, I need to talk to you about a few things."


Right in the middle of this, I got a bunch of trick-or-treaters at my door - nice timing.  I literally threw the bowl of candy onto the porch at them and then turned off my porch light before stalking back into the house.  I have a promising career in the Bitter Old Neighbor Lady business, that's for sure. I went back to the couch, and he grabbed my leg and started rubbing it.

"I like you," he said.  "I really like you a LOT.  And I really want you in my life.  We have SO much in common, and I feel like we have even more in common than we realize and have yet to explore..."

I'm thinking, ""

He went on, "but I need to tell you that I am currently involved in a committed, polyamorous relationship..."

I tuned him out after that.  I don't know who he said he was in said committed polyamorous relationship with, if it was a couple or two other women or what, but what did it matter?  I was being dumped.  I didn't need to know any more than that.

I tuned back in.  "Okay, so...I thought the whole attraction here was that we were not looking for exclusivity or whatever, so what's the problem?"

"The problem is that I can't be intimate outside that circle."

"'re friend-zoning me."

"For now, yes. Because I really want you in my life on some level."

For now?  For NOW?  No.  I am nobody's fucking CONTINGENCY.   I sat silent for a minute while I struggled to maintain my composure.  My first impulse was to kick him in the head.  I pulled my foot out of his hand and curled up as far away from him as I could.   "You drove all the way from Lockport to tell me this? Why?"

"Because I like you, and you deserved to be told face to face.  I want you in my life,  and I respect you enough to tell you this in person."

That's gotta be the most self-serving line of bullshit anyone's ever handed me, for real. After a few minutes of stone silence and him staring at me, I lifted my head, looked him in the eye, and said, "You need to go away."

He stood up and walked into the dining room to retrieve his coat.  As he walked back toward me, I asked, "why didn't you tell me this before?"  He said, "I didn't know."  So...sometime in the last five days this had all come to be, but he waited until now to tell me?  A text or a phone call or an email the day or two before could have saved me a SHIT TON of time, energy, and money.  I drove all over town putting together a gift for him.  I busted my ass cleaning my house.  I inconvenienced Christopher, who interrupted HIS activities to come and clean my kitchen so I could get ready for Kilty.   I SHAVED. MY. FUCKING. LEGS.

I stood up and walked Kilty to the front door.  "Lose my number," I said to him as I opened the door, "And thanks so much for being just like everyone else."  I slammed the door behind him so hard the house shook.  I turned around, stomped into my dining room and unleashed a noise that was somewhere between a growl and a screech.  My phone beeped with a text from Chris.  "Everything okay?"

"NO!" I screamed.  "PLEASE COME DOWN HERE!!!"

I picked up the glass that Kilty had been drinking from and hurled it against the wall.   Glass and water flew everywhere.  Then I kicked an armchair.  "WHY!?!?!?!" I screamed.  "WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH ME!?!?!?!?!?!?!"

I was almost blind with rage that this individual felt it was acceptable to treat me like this, and that once again I was on the receiving end of someone's fucking BULLSHIT.

Chris, having been my dearest friend for the last quarter-century, knew to just wait outside the front door 'til it was over.  When I finally collapsed into a heap on the chair, he came inside and sat on the sofa.  "What happened?" he asked.  I told him and we spent the next hour or so trying to help me work through it all.   At one point the anger gave way to waves of sadness and I sobbed.   I just let it all out.

I'm a good person.  I'm not without my issues, my baggage, or my quirks.  But I'm real, and I'm genuine, and I care about other people and their feelings.  Christopher pointed out that these are very good qualities to have, and that I shouldn't stop being that way because of stuff like this.  But it's very difficult to not become bitter or jaded after shit like this happens again and again and again.  It's very difficult to meet someone new and not expect that they'll pull some shit like this.  How can I trust anyone?  And how can I trust all my well-meaning friends who insist I'm too fabulous to not meet someone worthy of me, now that I'm hurtling mercilessly into middle age still floundering in the dating pool?

Oh, and then there's the guy I've been crushing on forever - a customer at work who I finally gave my number to last week.  Guess who hasn't called?  Now THERE's a big surprise, huh?

Dating is fucked up.  The advice people give you is fucked up.  You get told all at once, "Stop looking, put yourself out there, take chances, be careful, men suck, there's someone out there for you."  None of it makes any sense, and too many people misinterpret my frustration.  I'm not frustrated because I can't find someone.  If my primary objective was simply to find someone, I'm sure it wouldn't be that difficult to find a willing partner.  My frustration lies with the fact that I have a nearly impossible time finding someone who understands what I'm after, who's compatible with me in the right areas, and then when I do find someone who seems to be what I'm looking for, he turns out to be an asshole just like all the rest of them.  It's like...when is it MY turn to be happy?  When do I get to be in a mutually satisfying arrangement with a person who cares and isn't an abusive dick?  What did I do to deserve this shit?  I don't mean to play victim, but for fuck's sake - when does it get better?  When does it work out for ME?

Maybe it doesn't.  Maybe it never will.  And maybe that's what I should work on - accepting that even after losing 100 pounds, some things will just stay the same.  It might bring me more peace than I realize.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


About a year ago I was in a store and I saw a sweater that I fell in love with.  It was multicolored, striped, with a cowlneck.  It was soft and kind of fuzzy and just really struck my fancy and I imagined it with all different pant/skirt combinations, and just really really wanted this sweater.  Oh, and it was on sale.  Of course.  But even the biggest size was impossible.  I could barely get it over my head. I remember taking a photo of it in the dressing room and sending it to my best friend with a note about how sad I was that I couldn't have this impossibly adorable sweater because they didn't make it in morbidly obese size.  He sympathetically wrote back with a sad face.  I'm pretty sure I went home and ate a pizza and a pint of Haagen Dazs that night.  Because, well...that's what I did in situations like that.

Anyway, a couple months later I was in another location of the same store and saw the sweater again. At that point I had been assembling my appeal to the insurance company for my surgery, and I thought, "I'm buying this sweater.  I will fit into it by next winter one way or another."  Also?  It was on clearance for SEVEN DOLLARS.  So I bought it, brought it home, and put it into the "Sweaters" bin in the basement.  Last week I unearthed it, tried it on and - gloriola! - it fit.  It fit, and it was every bit as adorable as I'd imagined it to be on me.

Too bad you can't see the whole thing, but trust me - it's cute.

So I was getting dressed for work yesterday and I put on the sweater, along with my most recent favorite pair of jeans, and thought, "what shoes to wear with this?"

Now, before I go any further I have to preface this next section with this declaration: I LOVE BOOTS.  Short boots, tall boots, ankle boots, flat boots, heeled boots.  Especially heeled boots.  And heels of any kind, really.  When I was a bartender back in the day I used to work in 4-inch heels all the time with no issues.  But that was eons ago, and in the more recent past, being as heavy as I was, I had to stop wearing them because I just couldn't support 260+ pounds on heels of any height.  Even the 2-inch wedges I wore for chorus performances would kill after an hour.

But now that I'm almost 100 pounds lighter, I find myself gravitating toward heels again.  And now that it's fall, well...hello, boots!  Specifically, hello PURPLE BOOTS!

I bought these boots about 13 years ago when I lived in Berwyn, Illinois.  I remember the day I bought them at the new Shoe Carnival on 22nd Street, in the plaza with the "Car Kabob" sculpture (if you've ever seen "Wayne's World" then you know what I'm talking about).

The Famous Berwyn "Car Kabob" Sculpture.  The Shoe Carnival is in the background! I lived two blocks up from here.

They were on sale (natch) for $30, marked down from $69.99.  I had a skirt that just happened to be the same exact color, and I wore them together frequently.  I used to get tons of compliments on them (and the exact color match with the skirt), but gradually I phased them out because I got bigger, the skirt got tighter, and the heels became painful to wear.  The skirt is long gone, but I kept the boots because, well, because purple boots.  How many people do you know with PURPLE FREAKIN' BOOTS?  Right!

So yesterday as I looked in the mirror at the newest ensemble to hit my fall wardrobe and pondered the appropriate footwear, I thought, "Oooh, maybe the purple Zodiacs?"  I don't think I've worn them since I moved back to Buffalo more than ten years ago.  I pulled them out and put them on.  The zippers, due to age and dormancy, had to be coaxed a bit, but I got them on, stood up, and marveled at (a) how comfortably they fit me and (b) how well they matched the purple in the sweater.  I threw my arms up in the air at the mirror and loudly declared, "I WIN!"

Mind you, it's not just about fitting into the sweater or not dying of crushed feet on the 3-1/2" stacked heels.  This was a victory of more than just an adorable sweater and some funky boots.  No, see, because not only did I fit into these things, I walked out of the house feeling confident in them.  Purple boots aren't for everyone.  But me?  I was going to pull it off because I had resurrected not just the sweater and the boots, but the confidence to wear them.  Never mind that the sweater was a clearance rack item and the jeans were from a thrift store and the boots were purchased for 60% off 13 years ago.  Worn together I felt like a million bucks.  And that, my friends, is truly priceless.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Six Months Later: Feeling Groovy

Last Thursday (October 10th) was my 6-month surgiversary.  Six whole months have gone by since I was wheeled into that OR, and more than a year has passed since I started the whole process.  At my follow-up last week the doc told me I'm 8% ahead of the targeted loss they establish for most patients at this stage.  Cool.

I've lost 92 pounds and something like 70 inches.  I think. Actually...can anyone PLEASE explain the quantification parameters for lost inches?  Do I add up all the inches I've lost from all my body parts? Or is it an average of those numbers?  Or something else?  Whatever the case, I've lost a good third of the person I was.

I haven't posted one of these in a while; for some reason I opted not to pose for months four and five.  But here's the progression at six months for those who aren't squeamish about these things.

March 31             May 19              July 10             October 11
My arms need a LOT of work and I still have that goddamn extra chin and my wrists are still mutated from Prednisone, but it's nevertheless a VAST improvement over where I started.  And thankfully I have addressed the mess on my head in the very recent past and it no longer looks like that now.  It seems to have slowed down with the falling-out business, too, which is nice.  There's nothing pleasant about pulling clumps of hair out of your head.

Anyway.  Now that the weight loss has become apparent to many people and the comments and compliments are coming in, I find myself engaging in conversations about my decision and my journey with a lot of them.  Naturally people want to know how I have achieved the loss, and I'm just straightforward.  "I had surgery," I tell them.  I do so without a twinge of apology in my voice, without looking sheepish, without exuding any kind of shame over the statement, because, well...I'm not sorry, I'm not ashamed, and I don't care who thinks what about my decision.  I didn't make it for them.  And regrets?  I have zero.

I get a lot of questions, too.  I have had many people ask me, "How do you feel?" And my answer is that I feel great in general, but I also feel great about my decision to have VSG.  I feel like it was the best decision I've ever made for myself.  Has my life changed?  Yes.  It has.  Has the way I eat changed?  Indeed it has.  Do I have any unpleasant side effects?  Yes.  I'm not going to lie.  I lost a lot of hair.  I still throw up if I eat something that doesn't agree with me or I push the envelope and take a bite or two over my threshold.  I still have to remember to sip my drinks and not chug them.  Liquid introduced too quickly is a recipe for spew. If I skimp on my protein or vitamins, it catches up to me - and quickly.  I still have some bad days.  And I miss Pepsi.  Of all the things I had to stop consuming after this procedure, I think that's the only one that I truly miss and have actually tried to think of a work-around (they really ought to make Pepsi-flavored candy or gum or something).

But there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING, that I have experienced or been denied at this point that has EVER made me think for one second that I made a mistake.  My ex said something about the surgery being a bad thing because I'd have to give up bread.  I didn't have to give up bread.  I had to give up eating whole loaves of it in one sitting.  I had to give up thick slices slathered in butter and dredged in vodka sauce.  I can tolerate it in small, toasted quantities, but you know what?  I don't miss it enough to go through the hassle or the expense of buying a loaf I'm going to end up throwing most of away.  I can have crackers, I can have tortillas/wraps, and that satisfies my carb cravings.  Pasta hasn't gone over well, so I avoid it because my cross-addiction with bread was so strong I don't want pasta if I can't have a half a loaf of bread to go with it. I haven't even attempted pizza or donuts.  For a girl who used to eat an entire small pizza for dinner and follow it with three Paula's donuts for dessert, that's something.

So I can't have Pepsi, pizza, donuts, or bread.  But you know what I can have? Clothes that fit me. Pants that I can get into without a struggle.  Cute, non-queen-size tights that I don't stroke out trying to put on.  The confidence to walk through a grocery store without feeling judged.  I can walk into a clothing store and not immediately head to the Plus section.  I can shop in thrift stores and buy designer jeans for $2 because for the first time in YEARS I'm not limited to the three-foot section of picked-over plus sizes.  I went to the Goodwill last week with a Groupon voucher good for $30 worth of clothes and actually had to put some things back that I wanted.  Six months ago I never would have found $30 worth of stuff that even fit me.

I can bend over and pick things up off the floor without grabbing the wall for support or feeling like I might pass out.  I can hold yoga poses for longer than I could before.  I can lift more weight.  I can bend and stretch and twist and CROSS MY LEGS.  Oh my god, I can cross. my. legs.  I can get on the scale and not cry.  I still have 25 pounds to go to get to my goal, but at 25 pounds overweight I'm more "average" than I've been in a good long time. I can smile a little wider.  I can laugh a little louder.  All this because six months after Dr. C took 85% of my stomach out, he has helped give me my life back.  And that feels pretty damn amazing.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Perils of Progress

Today I am down a total of 90 pounds.  Holy shit.  I mean, really. With another 26 pounds to my goal I'm not there yet, but the descent has begun.  And truthfully, I'm in a weird place right now.

This past weekend my friend Amy got married.  Being broke as I am and not having any disposable income to buy new clothes, I hit the thrift stores (of which there are MYRIAD in my neighborhood) to see if I couldn't find something to wear.  A wedding is always a good excuse to buy something new (or new-to-me, as it were), but I had zero luck finding anything.  I came close a few times, but nothing that really said, "you should spend ten bucks on this because you look amazing in it."

Defeated, I went home and resolved to find something in my closet and make it work.  I pulled out all my dresses and began trying them on.  First up, the dress I wore to my cousin's wedding in July.  Too big.  Next, the dress I wore to another cousin's wedding a couple years ago after I'd lost a bunch of weight.  I remember feeling ultra cute in it, but when I put it this time on it hung on me.  That went into the "no" pile, too.  Then I tried the dress I wore for my Master's graduation in May 2011.  Loose, but not too bad since it had some stretch to it, and a possibility if I dressed it up with some funky jewelry to distract from the fact that it didn't fit me quite right.  That went into the "maybe" pile.  Dress after dress was tossed onto the "no" pile until I had nothing left to try.  Then I started with the skirt and blouse possibilities.  Nothing.  The only combo I found that fit me reasonably well and looked nice looked far more appropriate for a job interview than a fun wedding in a funky urban brewery.  Sigh.

Finally I remembered the tote of spring/summer dresses I'd packed away the week before and decided to dig it up.  All of the dresses in that bin were smaller sizes (thanks to recent thrift, clearance, and clothing swap acquisitions), but I knew there was one in there that might fit me now.  I pulled it out, put it on, and luck was on my side. It fit.  It was a summer pattern, made of cotton with a peekaboo crinoline slip, but I figured if I dressed it up with a sweater and some black tights I could make it work for a fall wedding.   It worked indeed, and I got a lot of nice compliments.

Take THAT, potential fashion faux pas!

My friend Katie was at the wedding, too.  At one point during the evening we started talking about the last time we had been at a wedding together,  back in February of 2010 when our friend Nicole got married.  I had started Weight Watchers a couple weeks before that, and by the time Nicole got married I'd lost 11 pounds.  I remember feeling kind of awesome about myself, too.  I was wearing a nice dress and nice jewelry, my hair was freshly cut and colored, and I felt pretty.  

When I got home from Amy's wedding and uploaded the pictures from my camera,  I placed one of Katie and me from that night next to an old one of us from Nicole's wedding.  I was absolutely astounded at the difference:

Well at least my hair looked better then.

What's more disconcerting, I think, is that in between then and now I've lost 75, gained 65, and lost 90.  In three years.  And this is part of why I'm in a weird place.  

I'm in a weird place because every time I've lost weight I've gained it back, and I somehow always gave in to my self-destruction - and I'm still worried that could happen again even after all I've been through this time.  I'm in a weird place because I'm getting compliments all the time and I'm never quite sure how to accept them with grace (that's a whole other blog topic in and of itself) - not because they're not nice to hear, but because I feel like I don't deserve them (see first sentence about self-destruction).  I've gotten better about it, but it's still weird.  People are noticing, and it wasn't until I saw the above side-by-side comparison that I realized just HOW noticeable it really is.  I'm in a weird place because I still can't believe I don't wear plus-sized clothes anymore.  And yet...I'm still overweight by 26 pounds which, in the grand scheme of things, isn't THAT much, but it's still enough to bother me and make me feel fat most of the time.  I'm in this limbo between being "thinner than I was" and being actually thin.  I'm in a weird place because this all happened so damn fast, even though it feels like eons ago that I was waking up in that hospital bed with most of my stomach gone.  It's just weird.  I don't know if it will ever stop being weird.  

But I'm progressing, and that's all that really matters.  Right?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Perspective and Perceptions: The Debbie Downer Edition

Okay, so it's been a full month since my last update.  I really hate when I go that long between posts because I have way too much to say, and trying to put it all in one entry is a pain - not just for me, but for those who have to read a novella-length post.

So for this I'm just going to write about what's immediately on my mind and save the other stuff for future posts...

This past week was my five-month surgiversary.  Five months!  It's hard to believe it's been that long, but it has.  So far I'm down 82 pounds, but about two weeks ago I hit a plateau.  It's totally my own fault; I've been eating way too much salt, way too much fat, too much sugar, and my workouts have been lame.  I've been cutting corners all over the place.  Why?  Well...I don't know.  Because I was on vacation for the last two weeks of August?  Because I'm lazy?  Because I'm tired?  Because I'm stressed? Because something in my head doesn't believe I deserve to not be fat?  Because I look at my melting body and my sagging boobs and think, "I'll never be perfect, so why bother anymore?"  Because I think I am doing great and then I see a bunch of pictures of me in which I look enormous? Maybe it's a combination of all of these,  I don't know, but I need to snap the fuck out of it.  I'm turning to food again as a comfort agent, and not as a source of nourishment.  The fact that my skin is so dry it's flaking and my hair is like straw and falling out in massive wads should be a wake-up call that my protein and hydration are deficient, but still I find myself popping handfuls of M&Ms instead of a chocolate protein bar.

I'm not gaining any weight, but I'm not losing any, either.   I need to step up my game, get back to the gym three or four times a week, get back on that yoga mat once a week, stop with the shitty eating, and power through this.  I have to remember that the cosmetic issues will be resolved, but not until I've maintained my goal weight for six months.  And the sooner I hit my goal the sooner the clock starts ticking on those six months.  But blah blah blah...just because I know what to do doesn't automatically make it happen.

Ironically in the last few weeks I've gotten a number of compliments from people who are starting to notice the weight loss.  Mostly my customers, but last week at our first rehearsal of the new season a few of my fellow choristers came up to me and told me I look fantastic.   A few people have said they hardly recognized me.  And sometimes when I look in the mirror I hardly recognize myself either.  Eighty two pounds is a pretty big chunk of oneself to disappear.  Some people ask, "what's different about you?" or "Have you lost weight?" A few are very surprised when I tell them how much weight I've lost, as if they didn't believe I had that much to lose in the first place.

And yet...tonight I saw a bunch of photos of me from a recent event and I look FAT.  Look. I am 5'5" and weigh 177 pounds.  That's still big.  It's still obese.  And it's stuff like THIS that throws me into that untenable position where I want to overeat.  Just stuff myself silly with chocolate and potato chips and ice cream and declare myself a hopeless case.  Of course my body gives me a hearty "fuck you" when I try to do that, but what if the day comes when it doesn't?  What if it finally concedes and lets me continue like that?  I can't let that happen.  I just can't.

The people who know me tell me I look great.  I look in the mirror and see muscle definition where there wasn't before.  I traveled recently and noticed that my backpack straps hurt my shoulders because the bones are now not as protected by fat as they were before.  Most of my clothes are too big on me now. I have more energy.  I sleep better.  I'm generally happier.  I notice these changes, but some things haven't changed.  I still feel large.  I still have puffy wrists and back fat and dimply thighs and a double chin.  I still can't get the time of day from any guy.  I'm still my own worst critic.  I'm still broke. I'm still 35 pounds heavier than I should be.  And even though I've come so far in the last five months, some days it's just hard to keep it all in perspective.

Sorry. Like I said before, I can't fart sparkly rainbows all the time - least of all when I've been eating garbage.  But that's what this blog is for - to put it out there, to write it out and try to make sense of it.  If I just buried my head in a bag of chips and ignored the issues without coming up for air now and then, I'd suffocate.

So there it is.  Happier posts to come, I promise.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Four Months, 75 Pounds, and Vacation Jitters

Seems like two weeks is the magic number for entries lately.  It'll be another two before I update again, too, since I'm leaving on vacation for the Pacific Northwest in a few hours and won't have access to a computer.  My laptop shit the bed a few months ago and I haven't had the extra cash to fix it.  This really kind of sucks, actually, since my laptop would definitely come in handy for downloading all the photos I imagine I'll be taking, would be nice to have in case I have some downtime to do some work (yeah, I know, I'm on vacation but remember, I'm largely self-employed, so I grab work whenever and wherever I can), and would be nice to have in case I want to do some writing.  Oh well.  Life goes on.  I'll be packing the journal/sketchbook and rolling old-school I guess.

So.  A number of things have been going on recently. Last week was my four-month surgiversery.  I didn't take photos because there isn't really a major difference between three and four months; I've lost another 13.5 pounds and a couple more inches all-around.  However, there was a milestone that arrived this past week, another charm on the bracelet, and that's...drumroll, please...



The other day I was at the gym and I decided to see what 75 pounds felt like.  I went over to the weights and grabbed the 75 pound dumbbell with both hands and lifted it off the rack.  Just as soon as I picked it up I had to set it down on the floor.  I couldn't lift it.  And I thought, "Damn.  I'd been carrying that around on my body for a really long time."  It really put it into perspective.

During a routine visit with Dr. H. last week he asked how my skin situation is.  It's...well, it's not pretty.   I don't have a lot of time to go into detail (and the details are gross anyway) but basically he looked at it and declared it time to start documenting stuff so when the time comes to have it remedied, there will be a "treatment trail" for the insurance company.  So there's that.  But I'll get more into that some other time.

And now...the bad stuff.  The last week or so I have been intermittently eating like crap.  Like junk food and even the occasional half a candy bar. And I'm finding myself slipping into old patterns: eating when I'm bored.  Eating when I'm not hungry.  Eating in front of the TV (goddamn Breaking Bad is taking over my life).  Eating until I'm too full.  Of course now when I do that I get sick, but that's not good either.  I shouldn't be doing it in the first place.  This is probably why it's not a good thing for me to blog only every two weeks.  I should be writing about this stuff every two DAYS.  And even though I'm still losing weight, I'm not nourishing my body properly.  My hair continues to fall out to the point where my comb is full after I use it.  I'm starting to feel that familiar fatigue.  The headaches.  The discombobulation and discomfort from a too-full stomach. My body TELLS me when it's not happy, and I have to LISTEN to it.

These next two weeks are going to be challenging.  This is the first time I've traveled since the surgery, and I'm going with a very limited amount of cash.  I'm packing a couple boxes of protein bars just in case, figuring in the worst-case scenario I'll just eat one of those if my meal options are less than optimal.  If I have room for some protein powder I might pack some of that, too, but something tells me carrying unlabeled white powder onto a plane might not be the best idea.  Anyway, in the past when I've traveled I've used it as an excuse to stuff myself stupid ("but this is a local delicacy!  I have to try it!") and/or throw all dietary rules out the window.  Can't do that this time.  The last thing I want to do is be bent over the railing on the Space Needle, hurling whatever "local delicacy" I've indulged in onto unsuspecting passersby.

I'm also concerned about exercise.  I don't think I have enough extra money to buy a temporary gym pass, but I'm going to investigate some options and perhaps scour the local ads for free yoga classes.  Most cities do have them.  And if that fails, then I'll just have to find time to take a 30-minute walk every couple of days.  I will be walking quite a bit anyway, but I need to keep up on my strength training, too.  Hell, I want to be able to lift that 100-pound weight when the time comes.

So my vacation pledge is this: I am on vacation.  My nutrition and exercise are not.  I will find a way to make it work, and I will come back feeling healthier, happier, stronger, and rested.  Because isn't that what vacations are supposed to do?

See you all in two weeks.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"You look like everyone else."

Sorry for the two-week gap in updates, but I've been insanely busy getting ready for - and participating in - the Buffalo Infringement Festival.  This is historically the busiest time of the year for me, so things like blogging...and housekeeping...and other responsibilities tend to fall by the wayside. For those who aren't privy, the BIF is an 11-day art, music, theatre, dance, literary, and what-have-you festival that is quite possibly one of the most balls-out things you'll ever experience.  The irony is that as outrageous and in-your-face as it can be, it flies "under the radar," so to speak - there are no corporate sponsors, no censors, no limits.  Here are some links for more information if you're interested in finding out more:

So then.  Now that Infringement is about halfway through, I've amassed quite a collection of photos.  As I was looking through them, I thought about last year's photos and decided to put them up against each other for comparison.

For example, here's a shot of me doing my "Prattletales" show last year and again this year in the same venue:

That's not the only example, but it's the best one I could find at the moment where I'm not wearing zombie makeup or a space costume involving otherworldly boobs.  But looking at my photos and remembering last year, how miserable I was and now realizing how much different I look and feel since last year, it gives me another boost of assurance that I really did make the right decision and am on the right track.

Twice in the last few days someone has hugged me and made a remark about how much less of me there is to hug.  My friend Carla, who recently had eye surgery and cannot see very well at the moment, told me I was freaking her out a little because my silhouette is so much different.  "You look...well, you look like everyone else," she said.  She told me I move with more grace, more confidence.  And while I hadn't noticed it until then, hearing it come from her made me realize that she was right.  I'm still overweight and have a long way to go before I'm at my goal, but being 70 pounds down - and the healthier dietary choices and exercise regimen that have gotten me here - has made a huge difference in the way I move, the way I feel about myself, and the way I present myself to the world.

I'm no longer the biggest person in the room most of the time.  I don't waddle anymore. I'm no longer out of breath and sweaty and exhausted after walking a half a block from my car.  A few days ago I went to see a play at the Manny Fried Playhouse, which is on the third floor of a converted factory.  Beautiful space, but I used to dread going there because the three flights of stairs nearly killed me. The only elevator is the service elevator and you have to seek out someone to operate it for you, and I was always too embarrassed to say, "I'm too fat for the stairs; can you give me a lift?"  This time, I walked up the stairs and didn't break a sweat.  I didn't gasp for air.   My legs protested a little, only because I'd worked them at the gym that morning and they were like, "oh, come ON, didn't we already do this today?"  I told them to shut up.   I got to the top of the stairs and kept walking; I didn't have to stop to catch my breath or hit my inhaler.  I felt fine.  Holy shit.  I felt...FINE.

There are days when I curse the stomach acid that plagues me, wakes me up in my sleep, and sends me into coughing fits.  There are days when I bitch and moan about my hair falling out, or not being able to poop.  I have my moments and my emotions are all over the place, but I can say without a doubt that of all the feelings and emotions involved in this process, regret is not one of them.

And if I ever do start to feel like I might have regrets?  I'll just go find three flights of stairs to climb.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Peek Inside My "Toolbox"

I love tools.  I salivate at the mere mention of Harbor Freight, can spend hours wandering home improvement stores, and am pretty sure my Fein Multimaster would be one of the first things I'd rescue in a house fire.  I love tools because the right tools can get the job done faster and more efficiently, and can help produce optimal results with minimized stress.  And like any project, this one is no different; it requires the proper tools to help it get done, and the right tools make it easier. So I thought I would offer some of the tools that I've been using to keep me on track.  Obviously having had 85% of my stomach removed is a pretty reasonable incentive to behave, but that's only one tool.

I'm usually pretty motivated by financial incentives AND I can be a little competitive by nature.  Now, I'm not the type of competitive where I mow people down and feel an incessant need to be the very best at everything.  But contests where I compete ultimately against myself, particularly when my money (of which I don't have much most of the time) is involved and I stand a chance to make a little cash - that's more my speed.

So the first thing I did was join a Dietbet last month.  Dietbet is a contest where you pay in a determined amount of money (the one I joined was $25) to lose a certain amount of weight (4%) and at the end of the month if you've succeeded, you get a share of the pooled money with the rest of the winners (or losers, as it were).  In June there were over 1000 people who participated, bringing the pot to more than $25,000.  I ended up winning $43.60.  I rolled $25 back into the next month's bet and came away with $18.60 I didn't have before.  All for doing what I'm supposed to do.  Not bad!

Another incentive tool I use is an app called Gympact.  You pledge to work out a certain number of times per week and attach a monetary value to your workouts.  Gympact uses location services on your phone for check-ins to verify your workouts. At the end of the week if you have missed any workouts, Gympact takes the money from you and then distributes it to the folks who met their pledges.  I have pledged to work out three times a week with a $10 value on each workout.  I've been Gympacting for 2 weeks, and both weeks I met my pledge.  The first week I earned $1.65.  Last week I earned $1.35.  That's an extra $3.00 for just doing what I do.

Granted I'll never get rich doing DietBets and Gympact, but if I can stay on track and meet my fitness and nutrition goals AND earn a couple extra bucks in the process - I don't see the harm in that!!

Some of my other tools include 1/2 cup plastic containers, pre-fab protein drinks, an insulated lunch bag with a freezer pack,  Balance Bars, and Isopure Plus clear protein drink.  The plastic containers are great for portioning out just about anything from snacks to meals to protein powder.  I have a few Rubbermaid ones which are a really convenient and compact square shape, but Glad also makes some disposable ones which are great for taking to work and on the road.  I'm famous for forgetting to take my containers home with me, so if I leave one behind it's not the end of the world.  I will often make a dish and then portion it into these small containers and freeze them.

My freezer is full of these things!

I have a few different favorites when it comes to protein shakes.  Obviously when I'm at home or at work where I have access to a blender, I make my own.  But if I'm traveling or just out and about, a pre-fab shake can save the day.  I like Muscle Milk because it doesn't need initial refrigeration.  Not that I would drink it at room temperature, but it's an added bonus to not have to worry about keeping it in the fridge all the time.  You can also find it in the cooler at just about any convenience store on the road, so if you don't have a way to keep it cold you can just stop off at an A-Plus or 7-Eleven and pick one up for about $3.50.  But if you have one of my other tools - an insulated lunch bag - then you can buy it a little cheaper at the grocery store or mass merchandiser and tote it along with you.

I've also recently discovered Shamrock Farms' Rockin' Refuel, which does require refrigeration because it contains milk, but has more protein in it than Muscle Milk and is a little less expensive (my local supermarket sells it for $1.99).  It's also 12 ounces, which is easier to get through than the 14 ounces in Muscle Milk.  Yes, two ounces really do make a difference when that's half of what your stomach can hold!

The downside to this stuff is that it only comes in one flavor.  But maybe after it's been out awhile they'll branch out.  :-)

And finally, Balance Bars.  Really, any protein bar will apply here, and I do buy many different varieties, but I happen to really like Balance yogurt honey peanut flavor the best.  I also happened to stumble upon a stellar deal in a store that was discontinuing them, so I have a plentiful supply to plow through before they all expire in August.  Ha.
I'm guessing by the end of my third box I'll probably be really frickin' tired of these things. But they ARE delicious.

I can only eat half of one before I'm full, but I always have at least one whole bar with me at all times.  I keep the half-eaten one in a plastic bag to avoid contamination by purse flotsam.  In hot weather, it's best to keep these in your insulated bag, though, because I found out the hard way what a melted protein bar looks like.  It's not pretty.  And it's inedible.  The whole point of having bars with you is to be able to eat them!  I find it's really helpful to have one on hand just to take a bite of to take the edge off.  Sometimes I'm hungry but I don't have time or opportunity to sit down and do the whole meal ritual.  So I eat a bite or two of the bar, I feel better, and I have taken in a few more grams of protein.  And now that I'm supposed to take in at least 80 grams a day, I have to get it wherever and whenever I can.

I also like Oh Yeah! bars because they taste more like candy bars than meal replacements.  Met-Rx also makes a protein brownie that is pretty tasty, but contains way more sugar in the form of sugar alcohol than I'd prefer to consume.  But it's not bad for an occasional treat, especially if I'm running low on my protein quota for the day.  And it satisfies my sweet tooth.

And finally, Isopure Plus protein water.  I like the Alpine Punch flavor.  The Grape Frost is disgusting.  A friend once described it as "sandy, grape-flavored vomit," and she wasn't far off the mark.  Nasty.  But the punch isn't bad - especially if you throw it on ice and sip it throughout the day.  The awesome thing about this stuff is that it not only provides 15 grams of protein, but it also counts as eight ounces of fluid, so I'm killing two birds with this stone.  I'm hydrating AND taking in protein.  I just wish I could get it more easily.  It's available online, but the shipping charges are outrageous because it's liquid.  So I go out to Synergy every week or so and buy whatever they have in stock.  I may start asking them to order more!

So there you have it.  My favorite tools, the stuff that helps me stay on track and get closer to my goal every day.  I know a lot of people have asked me what I use to help me, and I'm always happy to answer questions. Even if you're not a WLS patient, any of this stuff can help you with your health and fitness program.

Now I wonder if I could get any of these companies to get me an endorsement deal.  Hmm...

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Three-Month Stats and Update

Happy 3-Month Surgiversary to meeeee!!!!  I can't even believe it's been three months since my surgery.  In some ways it feels like it was a million years ago, but other times I feel like it was just yesterday.  Hard to believe, too, that it's been almost a full year since I decided to have the surgery!

I had my 12-week checkup today and was told that I am right on track - if not slightly ahead - with my weight loss.  My labs after my last checkup came back with favorable numbers and I'm healthy (excess weight notwithstanding).  The doc was pleased with my progress, and I grinned like a fool the whole time.  At one point I ran into the eating behavior counselor, whom I'd not seen since before my surgery (I'm seeing a different practitioner for that part of my process),  and she was thrilled for me.  I felt so proud at that moment, like a little kid running home with a good report card.

In the past week, several people who haven't said anything up until now commented on my weight loss.  It's like it suddenly became apparent between last week and this week, like 60 pounds was the magic number or something.  My next door neighbor mentioned it, and then three of my regular customers, people who see me nearly every day, made comments about it.  That's encouraging!

So anyway,  my current stats at three months post-op:

Starting weight on 3/31/13 (start of pre-op diet): 259.8
Surgery Day weight on 4/10/13: 244.2
Current weight 7/10/13: 197.6
Total weight lost: 62.2 pounds
Goal weight: 145
Pounds to goal: 52.6

Again, I have no idea how to quantify my total inches lost, but I've lost a few more since last month,  though most of them seem to have come off my chest and hips this time.  

And remember  when I said in my 2-month update that I had some "official" photos from various angles?  Well...I've decided to release them.  It's a big step, because even though I know I should be proud of my progress, I'm embarrassed by the photos.  The beginning photos are the stuff of mortification, and because of what I'm wearing, the current pictures aren't exactly glamour shots, either.  But...this blog is all about the good, bad, ugly, and embarrassing, so...*deep breath*... here you go.

March 31                    May 19                   July 10


So there it is.  My fat lil' self in pajama bottoms and a tank top.  Not as pretty as the sweater picture, but this series is supposed to serve as a closer look at the actual bodily transformation in progress.  Much of what got me to 259.8 pounds in the first place was a lot of denial.  Denial that I was that big, denial that what I was eating was killing me, denial that I was miserable in my own skin, denial that I was out of control.  At least now when I look at these I'm not covered with flattering clothes; I can't hide and deny.  This is honest and true, and more revealing than I wanted to be but necessary to keep myself in check and on track.  I see progress made, but I also see how far I still have to go.  

Sally at Unbrave Girl has challenged her readers to start posting full-length photos of themselves and to stop being ashamed of their bodies.  I'd like to think this is a step in that direction.  I'm happy with my decision, hopeful for the future, and excited at the prospect that some day I won't have to apologize for the way I look in my loungewear. :-)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Well I'm a-Movin' on DOWN

Remember that Pandora bracelet I bought before my surgery?  Well.  It's got four charms on it now!

I feel so accomplished - and fancy!

The two large ones with the circles on them are called "Stepping Stones" and I thought they were fitting to mark weight milestones.  The red Stepping Stone represents 25 pounds and the purple Stepping Stone represents 50 pounds.  (I've got my eye on a blue one for 75 pounds). The orange "Zen" charm on the end I gave myself for reaching my halfway point.  The rat charm, a retired piece that I was able to find on eBay (and for which I paid way more than I ever thought I'd spend on one charm but simply HAD to have), is my reward for reaching...



Yes!! I am HERE!!!  Yippeeee!!!!  Current weight: 198.

I haven't been here in about two and a half years - and even then it was a fleeting visit, a layover between 196 and 199 that ended after a few weeks when shit starting hitting the fan.  Anyone who knew me during that time can totally tell you about it.  I'd rather not rehash it, thanks.  Anyway, this time I'm moving in to Onederland for good.  There's no going back now.

And I think that's what really keeps me going; I know that this time I cannot fail (well, technically I suppose I could - and some people do - but I'm not leaving it open as an option). There's no place for me to go BUT down.  I'm doing this.  I really, really am.  And my wrist - while still fat (seriously, I have the equivalent of cankles on my forearms) - is a little prettier for it.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

It's All Fun and Games 'til Someone Loses Their Hair...or Their Lunch.

It's been kind of a banner week in terms of milestones, accomplishments, and valuable lessons.

First, I have begun my descent!  With 58 pounds lost and 57 to go, I have officially breached the halfway point in my journey.  Woo-hoo!!!! I know the second half won't be as quick as the first half, but having been on this trip now for the better part of three months, I am confident it will be smoother - at least for awhile.  I'm not thinking about the landing yet.  I just know that having gotten more used to my new system and my changing body, I'm more prepared for the second half than I was when I first took off.  Also?  I'm just a few pounds from "One-derland."  Looks like I'll be adding a couple more charms to that bracelet soon!!

I know that this next accomplishment may seem a little silly and is perhaps not such a huge deal to most people, but a couple nights ago I was lying on the sofa on my back.  The show I was watching was over, so I sat up to grab the remote.  And just like that...I sat up.  I knew something felt different to me, but what?  And then I realized it: I'd sat up from a lying down position without using my arms, without rolling over,  without swinging my legs off the side, without rocking back and forth, without struggling like a turtle flipped on its shell.  This, my friends, is a big deal.  It means that even though I'm still carrying a great deal of excess weight in my midsection, those abdominal and lower back workouts are doing their thing and my muscles are stronger. I was so excited that I continued to sit up and lay down a few more times just to make sure it wasn't a fluke.  Hey, you's the little things.

The third milestone - if you can really call it that - is that I've reached the point in this journey where my hair is starting to fall out.  I knew this day would come, and I knew it would be sometime around the three-month mark.  But yeah, it's happening.  The drain trap in my tub is gross with hair after I shower, and big clumps of hair come out with the comb.  When I take it down out of the clip after work, I get another handful of hair.  And I've noticed many strands on my pillow in the morning as well.  I'm trying not to stress about it because (a) I know it'll grow back, (b) I have a LOT of hair, so it's not like it's all that noticeable if some of it is missing, and (c) it gives me an excuse to buy some cute new hats.

However, I do know that I can help the situation if I ramp up my protein intake and pay close attention to my nutritional choices. I learned a hard but very valuable lesson last week when I didn't do that (remember the last post about getting lazy around this time?) and after two days of forgetting to take my vitamins and making poor food choices, I hit a wall.  My body simply said, "Yeah, you know what?  Fuck you."  And I was done for.   Too many carbs, not enough protein, too few vitamins, and too much sugar.  It doesn't take a lot of excess or deficit to throw me off, I've discovered, and the repercussions are pretty swift and severe.

Between last week's crash and this week's wad of hair in my drain, I'm reminded how important it is to pay attention to my diet.  And that throwing-up business?  That's getting tiresome, too.  When I started this journey, I signed a contract to myself.  It opens with this line: "I will be hyper-aware of everything I put in my mouth and will eat mindfully and with purpose." So this coming week's goals are to honor that commitment, to work an extra protein shake into every day, to continue to stay on track with my workouts, and to remember my vitamins.

Oh, and I've got some shopping to do, too.  :-)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Some Days the Glass is Just Half Empty

As of this week - 10 weeks post-op - I am down 53.4 pounds.  At this rate, I should move into Onederland by the end of the month.  *Fingers crossed*.

However, as happy as I am to be losing weight, there is that doom and gloom side of me that can't really see it for the accomplishment others think it is.  Yes, I have come a long way.  And yes, I look better than I did two months ago.  And yes, I am proud of my progress.  But my weight has fluctuated so much over the years that I've been this weight before - many times, in fact.  So when I hear people say, "Wow, you look great!" the compliment is appreciated but I take it with a grain of salt because I just think, "I look like I did two years ago.  And a couple years before that.  And a few years prior to that.  And when I first moved back to Buffalo ten years ago I was this exact same weight. And in fact I was only about 10 pounds heavier than this while I was traipsing around India exactly a year ago."  To me, it's not that impressive.  People tell me I look "amazing," but really, I don't look that much different than I did at various points throughout history.  My hair's a little different, I might have a few more wrinkles and I've taken to wearing lipstick more than usual, but I still can't fit into those cute [insert smaller size] dresses I always thought I'd "diet into someday."  I'm still significantly overweight, as I have been for most of the last 30 years.  In the grand scheme of things, not much has changed.

My progress is met with a fair amount of trepidation in my mind because this is historically the point at which I've gotten stuck and have subsequently given up and begun gaining the weight back.  I know that's not going to happen this time, but it's a hard sell for my pessimism-prone brain.  But this is ultimately WHY I had the surgery. This time I can't just give up and start horking down whole pizzas and pints of Haagen Dazs again.  I've upped the ante this time, and I can't go back.  But I'm still, right now, in a place I've been before.  So while it feels better than it did a few months ago, it feels pretty much the same as it did a few years ago.  I feel good, yes, but I still suffer the ill effects of excess weight because, well, I'm still overweight by 60 pounds.  I'm still invisible to the opposite sex. I'm still wearing plus-sized clothing.  I still feel fat.  I'm still one of the biggest people in the room wherever I go.  I'm barely 5'5" tall and weigh 206 pounds.  That's still rather large.

About five years ago I was about this size after having lost 50-some pounds.  I was feeling good about myself, so I decided to put myself out there and joined some ridiculous dating site or another (does it matter which one?  They all suck).  I got barely any responses, and when I took a chance and wrote to someone I found interesting, he wrote back and said, "Sorry, big girls aren't my thing."  I was positively crushed.  Even though my friend who was sitting next to me when I got the message assured me that I was beautiful and shouldn't listen to tools like that guy, I broke.  I went home that night, curled up on the couch and ate a whole pizza and washed it down with a liter of Pepsi because, why not?  If I could lose 50 pounds and still be called a fat girl, still be rejected, still not be able to get a date, then what the fuck was the point, after all?  By the end of that year I'd gained half the weight back.

Even now, as I face a number of obstacles in my life, I'm  still tempted to overeat to comfort myself.  Only now I get really, really sick if I do, and I'm becoming rather weary of throwing up.  So I've been trying to find other ways to get past the hurt, anger, frustration, fatigue, and other negative emotions that I have traditionally medicated with food.  I go to the gym every few days.  That helps.  I spent all day in my garden yesterday.  That was great.  But old destructive habits die hard, and tonight when faced with a long, arduous project that I wasn't particularly into, and a sudden household to-do list that I hadn't planned on tackling for a few more days and couldn't possibly make a dent in on such short notice, my first thought was, "Fuck it.  I want to eat."  The old me would have gotten my hands on a chicken finger sub, a bag of Cheetos, a box of snack cakes, and a 2-liter Pepsi and gone to town, stuffing my feelings and responsibilities as far down as I could until I could fit no more in there, ending the night passed out in a cloud of sugar, salt, and self-loathing.

I still hate that my house is a mess, my work's not finished, I work a job that robs me of quality sleep and peace of mind so that I can continue to have health insurance, et cetera.  And I KNOW that with or without surgery, now is the point in time when I am most vulnerable to fall into my most destructive habits.  But I can't.  And I'm all twisty and conflicted now.  I'm down 53 pounds but I'm still fat.  I've had 85% of my stomach removed but my brain is still trying to convince me to do bad stuff.  I try to clean a little of my house every day in an effort to maintain the habits I started to develop while I was home for five weeks and not working.  But it's still messy and cluttered, and the rat cage is neglected because every time I want to wheel it outside and give it a righteous scrubbing, it fucking rains.  My house is never clean enough.  I never have enough money.  My goal is still so far away and I just want to cut the shit and get there already.  It's just. never. enough.

I know this is a downer post, and I'm sorry.  But I can't fart sparkly rainbows all the time, and that's just the truth.  I know my life is no more difficult than anyone else's.  There are parts of my life that really fucking rock, actually.  But right now I just feel overwhelmed and unsure of myself and in a really vulnerable place in my weight loss, and it'll be a good twenty or thirty more pounds before that starts lifting.

When I was in school, I was always stressing about this project, that deadline, this assignment, that presentation.  I'd freak out and my friends would say, "Don't worry.  You'll get it done.  You always do."  And somehow, their vote of confidence always proved correct.  I spent a lot of nights in the studio, logged a lot of hours in the library's 24-hour study quad, greeted many a sunrise while furiously tapping out a paper, mounting a print, or cutting a mat to do it, but it did - it got done. 

And so I just need to remember my three Ps - patience, persistence, and presence.   I must be present in the now, persistent in my pursuit, and patient with myself.   The house will get cleaned eventually.  The bills will get paid somehow, some day.  And the weight will come off this time.  It'll be okay.  I'll get it done.  I always do.