Thursday, December 16, 2010

my aspirations and plans for 2011 - my weight loss journey #OWNtalk

I've mentioned it before, but I'm overweight. Morbidly overweight, according to my BMI. Morbid.

mor·bid (môrbd) adj.

  1. a. Of, relating to, or caused by disease; pathological or diseased.
    b. Psychologically unhealthy or unwholesome: "He suffered much from a morbid acuteness of the senses" (Edgar Allan Poe).
  2. Characterized by preoccupation with unwholesome thoughts or feelings: read the account of the murder with a morbid interest.
  3. Gruesome; grisly.

I'm diseased. Gruesome. Grisly. Unwholesome. Well... isn't THAT special?

I can't pinpoint the exact moment when my weight spiraled out of control. There have been factors my whole life.... I was a chubby kid, a curvy teen (I was probably 150-160 pounds, and a size 14). In college, I packed on the freshman 10, and a couple more besides. Every year at my checkup, I was 2-5 pounds heavier than the year before. Never a big deal, it's only a few pounds, right? Other than the weight I was healthy. The doctor always said so. They weren't concerned, so neither was I.

When I was pregnant with my son, I was sick. VERY sick. I couldn't eat. It literally made me vomit to use toothpaste to brush my teeth. I saw my doctor regularly, and he told me not to worry about not eating - he made sure I was getting plenty of vitamins and minerals, and that I was well-hydrated. He said it was worse to be sick than not to eat, so not to force it. So for the better part of 6 months, I ate very little, maybe a piece of toast and yogurt, or a little cottage cheese. That wasn't breakfast - that was what I'd eat in a day!

I was also under a tremendous amount of stress (my father died unexpectedly when I was carrying my son, plus there were issues with his father). All of this put my my body under tremendous stress. My metabolism basically shut down.

Fast forward to the birth of my son (I actually weighed 5 pounds less the day I delivered him than I did the day I got pregnant), and I resume eating. Only I have no metabolism at this point, so now I'm gaining 5-10 pounds a year.

My son turned 21 this year, so you do the math. Oh, I've lost weight at times - but it comes back. It ALWAYS comes back. When it comes back, it brings along even more weight. I can't escape it. Amazingly enough other than the weight, I've been fairly healthy my whole life; but in the last few years, I'm developing issues that are either caused by, or exacerbated by my obesity. Sleep apnea. Insulin resistance. PCOS. Asthma. Degenerative arthritis in my knees. My kidney function is compromised. I retain a lot of fluid in my feet/ankles/legs - at times I can't even wiggle my toes, and it feels like my skin is going to split. My hormones are soooo far out of whack it's not even funny - I hate to think what'll happen when I go through menopause! At times, I have been hypertensive. I'm severely anemic. Stress incontinence. Depression.

Then there's the non-medical issues.... like finding clothing that fits. BRAS that fit. Going out to eat with friends, and having to check that the restaurant offers tables as well as booths (I don't fit comfortably in most booths). Flying.... dear God, FLYING. Don't get me started. I just don't travel anymore - it's easier. I don't do a lot of things I used to do anymore.

This is the year that I've decided enough is enough. I've spent (probably) the first half of my life carrying not only extra weight on my body, but extra weight on my soul... emotional, mental, spiritual and (at times) psychological weight that is killing me as certain as the extra pounds on my body. I want to be free of the proverbial monkey on my back - although in my case, the monkey is now the size of a full-grown man, and I've literally been carrying it.

I've always told myself once I lost the weight, I could reclaim my life.... until I realized I needed to reclaim my life in order to lose the weight. I had to do this. Doing nothing was killing me - one french fry, cheeseburger, soda at a time.

So, I took the plunge - I admitted the problem more than I could handle, and I asked for medical help. I'm now working with a nutritionist, who has me on a medically supervised diet, as well as prescription medication to help control my appetite. I'm reading food labels, I've cut out all drinks except water (I will occasionally have a small glass of juice or unsweetened tea). Turkey bacon instead of bacon. At least 1 fruit or vegetable at every meal. Whole wheat pasta, quinoa or couscous. I have to keep a food journal, and right down everything I eat. I do. I write down EVERYTHING. I figured out how many calories were in a slice of pepperoni (10). A Dot (12). I exercise. Not as much as I should, but I try.

It's been about 2 months, and I've lost weight. It's not coming off as fast as I'd like, but I tell myself it's coming off faster than it went on! I'm not 100% compliant - I do cheat a little here and there (otherwise, I wouldn't know that a Dot has 12 calories!). I'm probably 75-80% complaint... this isn't a diet, this is a lifestyle change. I won't spend the rest of my life not eating chocolate cake, or fried chicken. I just have to learn HOW to incorporate them into my diet. It's about moderation. Choices. Cheese in my eggs, or butter on my toast - not both. A Dot (or 6, in a small box) isn't the large box I used to eat. 2 or 3 slices of pepperoni in my salad are OK (better than 8-10x that amount). One tater tot isn't an order. Turkey bacon isn't that bad.

Even though I've been working with a nutritionist, I plan on having WLS. I was all ready to go, but then the doctor's office told me that my medical history notes weren't complete - my doctor hadn't completely documented my dieting attempts. So, I have to do a 6-month medically supervised diet before I can re-submit (which I'm doing with the nutritionist). Although, I did find out a couple of weeks ago that although my insurance carrier requires the 6-month MSD, my company's specific plan doesn't have that requirement in it.... so I could re-submit again and get approved.

But, I'm going to wait and stick with the nutrionist for a bit longer. I've seen too many cases of people who have WLS but don't change their eating habits, so they either don't lose as much weight as they could, or they end up gaining some, or all of it back. I don't want that to be me. So, I'll keep with the nutritionist for now (although I may not do a full 6 months). I can learn how to eat post-surgery (yes, there are guidelines you need to follow to be successful). Every pound I lose prior to surgery means that much less stress on my body (not to mention it makes it easier for the surgeon when we re-engineers my insides!).

Plus the extra time will allow me to work on other things, like getting my anemia under control (which will be harder to manage post-WLS), getting rid of all this excess fluid I'm retaining, improving my overall fitness. A healthier me pre-surgery means an easier recovery, and I'm all for that.

I'm looking forward to little things. Not needing a seat belt extender on an airplane. Not needing to sleep with a mask on (for my sleep apnea). Shopping for clothes in the "regular" stores. Fitting comfortably in a regular chair (with arms). Walking up stairs. Riding a bike. Wearing heels. Crossing my legs. Touching my toes.... heck, SEEING my toes!

I'd like to ride the rides at the fair next year, or fit through the turnstiles at the train station. To be hugged and have their arms reach ALL the way around me. Heck, maybe even swept off my feet, literally... and not by a forklift!

So, that's my story.... where I came from, how I got to where I am today, and where I'm going. I'm looking forward to the New Year - more so than I ever have before. Because now, I have a plan, and the tools to make that plan a reality. I have people who will help me, but more than that I'm helping myself. I'm looking forward to seeing how much weight I can lose on my own pre-surgery, and then post-surgery how close I can get to my goal weight. I'll keep you posted on my progress :)

I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network blogging program, for a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

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