Saturday, April 18, 2015

Two Years Later: My Big Fat Emo Blog Post

Settle in, kids.  This one is a doozy.

It's been well over a year now since I updated this blog, and while I have frequently thought, "I should update, since, you know, I'm paying for hosting fees and whatnot, and also perhaps I would feel better if I wrote my emotions down instead of engaging in self-destructive behavior," I never quite got around to writing a new entry.  Why not?  Well, you know. Shit happens.  And I have excuses.  Some are more legit than others, but here they are:

1. I've been busy working a gazillion hours between two jobs and fulfilling other obligations like chorus participation, skating lessons, and social interactions when I can actually get out to have them.
2. I'm rediscovering how time consuming and labor-intensive relationships can be.
3. I'm freakin' TIRED (see excuses #1 and #2).
4. I've become a regain statistic and was sort of hoping I could make that go away and then come back and pretend everything was still hunky-dory even though it's really not.

So.  Yeah.  There it is.  Excuse #4 is probably the biggest one.  I mean, after all my shameless "rah rah, check me out, I'm a TRUE SUCCESS STORY!" posts,  it wasn't exactly a priority to come back here and say, "Hey, so...I've gained some of my weight back and I feel kinda shitty about that."

But yes, that's what's happened.  After hitting my goal last year right around this time, I maintained for about three months and then I went to the doctor (my regular PCP who I see once a month or so) and was up a few pounds.  I still remember the number - I was 142 pounds, up 3 pounds from the month before.  He expressed concern, but I scoffed at him and said, "it's just bloat.  I'm about to get my period."  This was true, though I had also been sneaking a candy bar or a slice of pizza here and there.  I'm sure that didn't help.  Despite having started a desk job shortly after my one-year surgiversary, I was still managing to make it to the gym a few times a week.  I was able to take some time off from my part-time job (the one I maintain for health insurance) so I wasn't yet feeling any real crunch in terms of working.  The weather was beautiful, I was riding my bike all over the place, and was generally doing a fine job maintaining my diet and exercise regimen.  I bounced two or three pounds back and forth over my goal line, but seemed to be keeping it in check.  The following month I'd gone back down and all was well.

My full-time job, for those who don't know, is a graphic artist position with a printing company that also publishes a weekly community newspaper.  Toward the end of the summer, my boss asked me to write an article for our paper about my surgery and how my life has changed.  I was delighted to do so.  Right around that same time I started hearing comments from people about me being "too thin."  I thought I looked fine.  But I think that triggered something in my head.  Something that told me, "it's okay to eat this pizza/candy/ice cream because so what if I gain a couple pounds?  I'll take it off easily, and even if I don't, it's not like it'll matter.  It's just a few pounds."

So that guard that had been in place, that resolve that I'd kept, that knowledge I'd been armed with that reminded me that the surgery was just a tool and that it was still up to me to do the slowly began to erode.  I started to eat dirtier and dirtier food. I stopped paying attention to what I was eating.  I started eating out a lot because that's what you do when you're dating someone who likes to eat and has a metabolism the speed of Mario Andretti on crack.  I started cooking a lot more because that's also what you do when you're dating the aforementioned type.  I started to skip workouts because working a full-time day job and then working a couple shifts a week at the coffee shop were taking a toll on me and sometimes I was just too damn tired to drag myself to the gym and spending an evening cuddled up on the sofa with a big, warm dude was more appealing than busting my ass in the weight room.

And then the weather started getting colder so the bike came in and the crockpot came out.

And then the shit hit the fan with my work schedule and I worked two 80-hour weeks in a row so that I wouldn't lose my health insurance.

And then it snowed a lot, which made for good skiing...when I actually had time to go, which was never (see previous sentence),  but otherwise made me want to stay firmly planted on the nearest horizontal indoor surface.

And then the holidays happened.

And then I got a Kitchen Aid Pro Series mixer for Christmas and started baking like a fiend...and eating too many of my own creations.

And then....and then....and then....

Every month my weight crept up another two or three pounds.  And every month my doctor was like, "what the hell?"  And every month I'd say, "Oh, I know...I ate too much sugar/it's late in the day/I haven't pooped yet/I'm getting my period/I just drank a bottle of water/this sweater weighs a ton, etc etc etc...I'm not worried."

But I was worried.  I'd briefly gone back to my therapist to see if a few sessions with him could get me out of my rut.  My behavior was heading in a direction I was not happy with, but I felt out of control.  Being a compulsive overeater with a reduced stomach, I have found, does not make one want to eat less.  I still wanted to eat. all. the. food.  Except now when I did, I would get sick.  Not cool.  I don't like that.  But even if I didn't eat too much, even if I restricted myself to the small 8-ounce capacity of my little sleeve, I was choosing shitty stuff.  I wasn't drinking eight ounces of protein shakes, or eating eight ounces of lean meat and vegetables and other clean choices.  Eight ounces of pizza, chocolate, ice cream, and pastries fits just as easily - and gets digested a whole lot quicker, which makes me hungry again sooner, and plays tricks with my head and triggers my cravings and "head hunger" even more.  And I fell deeper and deeper into the abyss of bad eating and self-loathing until my whole life was beginning to spiral out of control before my very eyes.  And yet...I went to the doctor yesterday and have gained more, still.

Officially I am up 30 pounds since hitting my goal.  Thirty pounds.  In less than a year.

It doesn't seem like *that* much, right?  But you know what?  It is.  It's a lot.  It's too much.  And when I pulled out my bin of spring and summer clothes the other day and realized that not a single fucking stitch of it fit me, I nearly broke down.  Every morning is a battle trying to find something I can wear to work.  I have a closet stuffed full of clothes, two dressers with drawers that barely close, stacks of bins full to capacity, and piles beyond that of clothes I can't wear.  Even my underwear is too small.  I have one bra that fits comfortably; the rest are too tight.  It's all making me miserable.  And yet what did I eat for breakfast today?  A goddamn piece of fucking COFFEE CAKE.  Not because I had no other options; my boyfriend gave me fruit this morning and I could have sliced that up into some oatmeal, which is in plentiful supply at work.   But I grabbed a piece of cake.  This is the sick shit I'm up against.  It doesn't matter that I went through hell and high water to get this surgery and worked my ass off for a year afterward. It's like as soon as I hit that goal, my switch flipped and I thought, "okay, I'm home free now.  Bring me a pizza!"

And that's why I'm writing this entry.  Because the biggest lesson I've learned through all of this is that I WILL BATTLE THIS SHIT FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.  I am HUMAN.  With FOOD ISSUES.  And despite having had the utmost confidence that I could beat this thing, these last eight months or so have beaten the shit out of me.  I am not bigger than my issues, and I am in so many ways powerless.  This was not the cure-all.  The surgery is a TOOL.  Who said that a couple years ago?  Oh, yeah.  I did.

I went into this knowing I was a compulsive overeater, and I knew that I "didn't have surgery on my brain" and that I'd be up against INCREDIBLE adversity and challenges.  But the first year just went so smoothly overall, I reached my goal so quickly, and even though I worked very hard, I was enjoying the work because I was seeing constant progress.   Every week, every month, something would fit better, I would feel better, I would get more compliments, I would be stronger.  But once I hit my goal, it was like, "okay, where do I go from here?"  I got what I wanted, so then what?  Where was my motivation?  Life was awesome.  I reached my goal weight.  I landed a job in my field.  I got my finances under control.  I started dating and fell in love with someone I'd been actively crushing on and passively chasing for years.  It was like I reached a point and felt like it just couldn't get any better.  So what did I do?  I sabotaged it.  Because I, for some sick reason, don't feel "whole" unless I'm "fixing" something.  Like those people who put their wipers on intermittent during rain storms (which always drives me bananas), I wait until the situation gets all messy and then set to cleaning it up, feeling satisfaction when I've achieved a goal and get to bask in my accomplishment. Maintenance is anti-climactic.  And I've never been particularly famous for stability, yet the whole reason I pushed for this surgery was because I saw it as a way out of the yo-yo I'd been riding for 30 years.  Well, guess what.  It's not.  What a fucking bummer.

Look.  I can write whiny blog entries about it, or I can put my big-girl panties on and pay attention to how uncomfortably tight they are, and DO something.  I can absorb how shitty I feel every time I run into someone I haven't seen in awhile and there's an awkward moment where I can tell they think I look a little bigger than I did the last time they saw me. And I can maybe spend less energy stressing about what to wear and channel that into getting a handle on things again.  So I put the few remaining things that do fit me into heavy rotation while I work on fitting into the stuff that will eventually fit me again.  It's thirty pounds, not three hundred.  It's still manageable, and I don't have THAT far to go in the grand scheme of things.  It's just that backsliding can feel SO damn defeating.

I can say that writing this entry was a big step.  I'm putting it out there.  I'm once again bringing my personal struggle to the public light.  I'm admitting to the entire world that I am not perfect, that I, despite my cockiness that it "wouldn't happen to me," have fallen into the same trap as so many before me.

So, yeah.  That's where I've been, folks.  Gaining weight and making excuses.  Until now.  The turbulence has been rough, but I'll land again soon.


  1. Love your blog. Hope mine will be like yours.

  2. Hi, I just had my sleeve done about 3 weeks ago and sometimes I feel like this is the best thing I did for myself and to quit the yo-yoing, but reading your post has been really eye opening, and it's making me understand that this is going to be a lifelong struggle for me. Thank you for sharing!


    P.S. your posts are hilarious!

  3. I am a little over two years out (sleeved Nov. 2013). I have been able to maintain my weight within 5 pounds for about a year now, but it is a constant daily struggle. I understand you; if you have been in a constant binge/diet cycle your entire life, you're not really sure what to do with yourself once that is no longer so present in our minds, so we recreate the need for it.

    As a graduate student who sometimes has class until very, very late at night, I totally get the "I'm too tired to cook or think about healthy food" thoughts when you're exhausted. I gained about 10 pounds over the holidays and it freaked me out enough to get my butt back in gear.

    I just wanted to let you know you're not alone in this, and that maintenance is a much harder phase of our lives than the weight loss ever was because this phase will never end, and the only applause we will get for maintaining is from our surgeons at our yearly follow-ups. Incidentally, because of my competitive nature, I use my follow-up appointments as motivation since my surgeon did warn me about the average 15% regain of pounds after the first year. I'm competitive enough that I want to be one of those patients who is at the same weight (or within a few pounds of it) every year. Its all about finding what motivates you to keep going.