I Love Me, I Love Me Not

Today is a new beginning.

Today I start my pre-op diet which means my op is imminent…14 days to be exact.  On 8 March I will be on my way to Las Vegas for my gastric sleeve surgery.

As you know, or maybe you don’t, I have been trying to coax my body to a healthy size for a little over 14 years.  Along the way so much has changed about me but also about the world.  Like…there’s a body positive movement now.  How awesome is that?

But…

If body positive is code for not caring about health then that’s not cool (at least not to me).

So personally I am always on this see-saw between self-love and self-not-so-much-love partly because the loving my body mindset is so new.

When I started this journey 14 years ago, it was nothing for me to look in the mirror and call myself a cow.

Today, I cannot even remember the last time I caught myself being so mean to the girl in the mirror.

When I started this journey 14 years ago, I felt a deep need to conform to a single standard, weight, body mass index, or some other number.

Today, I can hardly hold a straight face typing such nonsense.  Conform?  Oh man am I glad I lost that need even when losing pounds was elusive.  It’s laughable to me now.  Have given up goals weights and even science has stopped supporting the BMI chart.  Now, I am only interested in body composition including a healthy body fat percentage which for women is a wide range between 30-percent and 12-percent.  That means HEALTH fits everywhere in between.  It is not, and never has been, “a” number.

When I started this journey 14 years ago, I did not love my thighs, hips, or the labyrinth of one-inch wide stretchmarks all over the front of my body.

Today, my lack of love for those features remains.  Although, I am kinder to myself so that’s a step in the right direction.  However, today I do not ever see myself embracing them any time soon and I’m totally okay with that.

For the past year, I have been searching for my voice.  Body positivity is GREAT!!!!  But the “woo hoo I love my fat” is not me.  I don’t love my fat.  I especially do not love those stretch marks even if they came from pregnancy more than from fat.  They’re not “tiger stripes”.  They suck.

But did you see what I said?

They suck.

I do not suck.

Okay well sometimes I do indeed suck but I do not suck because I have stretch marks.  Hey, every one has sucky moments now and again but I do not wallow in suckery.

When I started this journey 14 years ago, I did not love myself much at all.  There was little difference between the space I consume in the world and who I am as a person.  Fourteen years ago, I had one identity: fat girl.

Today, who I am–awesome–and my weight–not awesome–have precisely nothing to do with one another.  Separating the two has been the hardest exercise of all.

My biggest lesson from my own journey and my biggest takeaway from the body-love movement is this:

I can love myself AND not love my weight at the very same time.

It is OKAY to love yourself AND know you need to change.  Self-love cannot ever be disguised as permission to not accept stewardship over your health.

 

 

 

“No Sir, I will NOT be punishing myself…not ever again.”

That was my response to my sweet hubs yesterday.

What prompted it?

“Hey since our anniversary is on Thursday do you think you should start your pre-op diet early to make up for it?”

NO!
NO!
NO!

See his question is full of the sort of thinking which helps people develop the mindset that food and weight loss is evil and punishable.

Wait…are you confused?  What surgery?

Oh yeah…BTW kiddos…I’m moving ahead with weight loss surgery.

8 March 2016 is the date of my sleeve surgery so that means I start my pre-op, liver-shrinking diet on Tuesday 23 February.

The diet my surgeon uses is protein shakes for breakfast and lunch and then what he calls “lean and green” for dinner which means lean protein and green and bright vegetables for dinner.

However with our anniversary on Thursday 25 February my hubs, in all his sweetness, was worried the celebration would derail the purpose.

Yes, I am going to celebrate my anniversary as if surgery is not looming.

Yes, I have cleared it with my doctor’s office.

No, I am not ever punishing myself with food again…and to start the pre-op diet early would be a punishment.

So on to the surgery…

What the heck is a “sleeve surgery”?

Well since you asked the vertical sleeve gastrectomy is a type of weight loss surgery.  The surgeon essentially turns your football-sized stomach into a banana-sized “sleeve” of a stomach.  Since the stomach is only reduced in size the body is allowed to function normally but you cannot eat as much which helps inspire weight loss.

I picked the sleeve because gastric banding aka LapBand does come with a small margin of increased risk for people with autoimmune disease and since I have one of those I thought it probably best to not give my body anything else to throw a hissy fit about.

I picked the sleeve because gastric bypass aka Roux En Y physically reroutes the guts so your body is incapable of absorbing nutrients especially calories but also vitamins and minerals and with my gut issues including mal-absorption I figured it was not a good idea to throw gas on that particular fire in my belly.  I have also found that managing my fibromyalgia is all about making sure my body can access all the good nutrition I can give it so taking away my body’s natural ability to extract vitamins and minerals did not sound like a wise plan.

The sleeve it is!

If you have been following my journey at all you know I started this blog when I had decided to have the sleeve almost three years ago.  I won’t ‘bore’ you now with all the in’s and out’s but the short answer as to why it’s taken so long to get here is: Some loving weight loss surgery patients messaged me about a month before my surgery to suggest I hold off until I have a good doctor on board to manage my hypothyroid and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis disease.

I do not remember their names but I probably owe them my life.

It was hard to trust their experience and take that sage advice but I am so very grateful I did.

These past couple of years have afforded me tremendous personal growth as well as finding a miracle doctor locally who is actually interested in my health enough to manage my thyroid diseases.  Surgery was never fully off the table in my mind but I wanted to see if excellent management of my thyroid disease would matter.

It did!

And, it didn’t.

Yes, with excellent control of my thyroid I can almost lose weight like a normal person.

Yes, with excellent control of my thyroid my thyroid is still going to take a dive and pack on the same 20 pounds I spent the past six to eight months losing…that was how I spent 2014-2015 and what inspired last year’s ‘vacation’ from holding on so tightly to any weight loss plan…I just couldn’t deal…again…so I needed to get my head right and figure out if my weight mattered to my future.

So nothing has really changed with regards to my thyroid despite having a great doctor on board…My weight will yo-yo at the whim of the mostly dead gland in my neck.

This fact prompted me to ask: Would you like to continue another decade of gaining and losing the same 20 or so pounds?  Or would you like to use another tool…even if it means your body will still yo-yo?

Okay peeps, here’s the thing…Since the yo-yoing isn’t going away…

I would rather gain 20 pounds starting at 160 than at 230.

Plus, I also found out the both veins in my left leg were indeed damaged by the deep vein thrombosis of 2009 so I need, my body needs to be carrying less weight overall but especially in my legs…NOW!  The venous reflux is not severe enough to put my life in immediate danger however if I do not take action it could be life threatening later.  The vein specialist said she would actually recommend weight loss first and ablation second so it’s a really good thing she also happens to work in my weight loss surgeon’s practice because it’s the only time I have not come unhinged at the suggestion to lose weight (because for years, more than a full decade I have been giving it my best).

Weight loss surgery is a tool to lose a lot of weight in a short period of time.

In other words, I was headed in the surgical weight loss direction long before my body let me know it was necessary.

The moral: Listen to your gut.  Listen to your body. 

Being overweight or even obese while having excellent metabolic health is great (no diabetes, cholesterol, or blood pressure issues)…right up until you find out there is something wrong with your circulatory system (or some other measure of health not measured by a routine physical) and then you need to fight for your future life and health.

I’m grateful I was already fighting that I have never stopped fighting…and now you know why I dubbed this The Year of Probability…weight loss surgery carries a high degree of probability that, when used correctly, it will be the right tool to help my body lose weight.

 

On Never Giving Up The Hunt For Simple Solutions

Isn’t it funny how sometimes the most obvious and easiest solution is the most oft overlooked?

I have hinted here and there that I have been working with a nutritionist for the past few months.  One of the things she puts an emphasis on is supplementing with whey protein.  She was delighted to learn I have been doing so for the past 15 or so years.  She said one of the biggest battles she has with clients is convincing them certain bodies, especially those with chronic medical conditions, need the extra nutritional support.

For people with fibromyalgia the cheapest, cleanest, easiest way to infuse our bodies with the glutathione they so desperately need is with whey protein.

Except there’s a catch: Most national brands of flavored whey protein contain chemical sweeteners which can send a fibro body into a full-on temper tantrum.

Not all patients understand why the whey which is supposed to be helping them is not.  As a consumer, and a health and patient advocate, it is a source of great frustration.

I’ll avoid ranting excessively other than to say I cannot wrap my head around the sense of doing healthy things for your body only to be battling artificial sweeteners at every turn.

Pure whey protein is nourishing and healing.

The chemicals in artificial sweeteners are potentially disease-promoting.

Isn’t this a case of multiplying fractions imitating real life?

Remember, sometimes numbers cancel themselves out when you multiply fractions.

Whey
X
Artificial Sweetener
Not doing any good whatsoever

However in case you have yet to taste plain, unflavored, unsweetened whey protein it is fairly vile on its own therefore ingredients do need to be added to make it more palatable.

Ingredients NOT chemicals.

There are a few brands gaining national traction which contain non-chemical sweeteners but they also come with a bit of sticker shock.  In some cases, the price is more than triple.  I don’t know about anyone else but my wallet cannot absorb triple the price for the convenience of a ready-to-mix flavored powder.

The other drawback to the pre-naturally-sweetened varieties is they are often so sickly sweet I cannot bear to drink them.

My solution has been using unadulterated whey and blending it with fresh fruits and vegetables.  I rarely add a sweetener.  Simple.  Inconvenient.  Time consuming.  Messy.  Good for me.

Healthy is as healthy does though and my body has responded wonderfully.

I really do try to keep doing the things which coax my body to respond wonderfully.  It’s just good practice for us all, don’t you agree.

Yet, I am always on the hunt for ways to simplify or even add a little convenience for the days when life is overflowing.  Remember, I have been doing this for at least 15 years so I have had a lot of time to not realize I can mix my own whole ingredients to make my own mixes.  Two days ago I found this great blog with recipes for homemade whey protein powders.

Seriously?

Like, really…where was my brain?

SO SIMPLE?

After I tested her “Gimme Chocolate” recipe I started thinking of all the ways I could expand on her concept to bring other flavors to the mix.  Those thoughts sent me down a four hour research hole.  I’d love to tell what I found but I’m keeping it a secret until I can order some supplies and make some mixes.

The recipe was PERFECTION, by the way.  Intense cocoa, lightly sweet, easy, convenient, and from jar to glass was six pure ingredients including the water and ice.

Pure ingredients have no other ingredients: for example, my cocoa powder contains only cocoa powder.

Please do not be fooled with convenience recipes which say they have a certain number of ingredients when the truth is each ingredient has 3, 8, or 27 items listed on its own packaging.

SIX INGREDIENTS.

That’s it.

And, it tasted great too!

The journey to this point has been wonderfully worth the effort.

I can pat myself on the back and say it takes a lot of courage and determination plus a healthy amount of stubbornness to hang in there as long as I do sometimes.  When it comes to health and healing, those qualities are crucial.

Remember:

It’s not supposed to be easy because if it was everyone would be healthy.

However:

We also do not have to go out of our way sometimes to make it so damned hard.

“Just eat real food.”~ Michelle, my nutritionist.

(She has helped me lose 11 pounds so far even with a 10-pound water weight gain nightmare.)

 

 

 

 

 

Back-building

No, despite evidence to the contrary, I have not fallen off the face of the Earth or my mission to seek and experience what ‘Weighing Healthy’ means to me.  Yes, it has been a whole month since my last post and with most absences there is a reason:

I’m back-building.

????????

You’re confused…

Allow me to explain.

In weather terms, ‘back-building‘ occurs when a thunderstorm begins gaining strength on the upwind side.  It creates a visual illusion of making little forward progress when in fact it is building in a backward direction hence the term.  Back-building thunderstorms are deceiving to the naked eye especially if you are looking at the leading edge.

Back-building thunderstorm

See how from this side angle you can see the storm building backward.  Imagine if you changed the perspective and only looked at it from the front…there’s no way you could see this energy so you would underestimate its power.  Image courtesy of Weather Underground; used without permission.

Frankly there is no more perfect word, hyphenated or otherwise, in the whole lexical universe to describe my life right now.

I am back-building…

Not because I am trying to deceive you or avoid my usual transparency but sometimes a girl just needs a little ‘me time’ for the journey ahead.

Translation:  I am brewing something big and I’m not quite ready to unleash it yet.

(Okay that’s not completely true…I am actually building a couple of big things but one is going to happen a lot sooner than the others.)