“Eat Half A Quest Bar And Chill Out!”

My morning started in earnest at the bright, but cloudy, glorious, but not, 6:54 a.m. hour.  It had only been about 22 minutes since I swallowed my thyroid medication so eating breakfast would have to wait another 38 minutes.  So I swapped my cute coffee mug for my personal blender bottle and I was out the door in less than 10 minutes.

Where was I going at such an hour?

To help my hubster.

Honest to protein bar, he’s the only thing that can drag me out of the house at that time of day…and my surgery, of course.  We’re talking serious upper-level importance or I am content to slowly, very slowly, come to life.

After travel-izing my coffee, I grabbed what I thought was a Quest Bar, dropped it in my purse, and gingerly walked down the wet stairs to my car.  I was following his truck because after we were done he had to head to work and I had a pile of honey-dos.

Much to my dismay when the 38 minutes expired I rooted around in my purse for a few nibbles of breakfast.  My purse is evil as hell so the rooting meant unloading half of it looking for the bar.

No Quest Bar.

I may have sworn.  Okay, I did swear.

Instead of the lovely Banana Nut bar I had a non-high-quality-but-on-sale-for-50-cents-each Nature Valley protein bar.  I also had a Cappuccino Nectar single serve but I’d already slurped all my coffee and no water so that was out.

Tanya’s Rule One: ALWAYS have a variety of protein in your purse, camera bag, briefcase, tote or whatever just do not leave home without protein.  Period.

I only bought the 50-cent bars as an emergency stash and because they were on sale for 50-cents.  Hey, sometimes the budget wins.  As long as I balance my day like I’m supposed to one ‘cheap’ bar once in a while isn’t going to break the protein bank.  And they have decidedly less sodium than fast food and most convenience store offerings.  Plus they are so much easier to eat than trying to pick the meat out of fast food breakfast offerings at 75-mph.

I noshed half the bar while I was waiting for hubs to catch up with me.  I don’t know how I managed it but I beat him to our storage shed.  Maybe I was going a little faster than 75 miles per hour.  Whatever.  As soon as he pulled in behind me, I carefully folded the wrapper over the rest of the bar and stuck it back in the hellish purse while knowing I’d cuss again later when I couldn’t find it.  Seriously, my purse sucks.

Hubs only needed my help for an little over an hour but despite the unseasonably cool, wet air I had actual sweat running down my back.   Eww and TMI, I know, but I want you to really understand how I make this all work–juggling medication that has to be taken on an empty stomach, eating protein without resorting to junk, having a life, having good hair, and best of all being a true help-mate and companion to the most adorable man on Earth while still sneaking in time to do my own thangs like writing these notes to you.

As he slipped me $20 for gas to complete said honey-dos I had a choice:

Cool liquids or ‘real’ protein.

My sweat picked liquids.

At that point I was thirsty and as you probably know being thirsty after weight loss surgery is a sign you are already depleted.  Protein could wait until I made it home.  If it couldn’t, I always knew I could pull over to the side of the road to empty the purse from hell in search of the half-eaten bar.  But you and I both know that unless symptoms of hypoglycemia started coming on the contents of that most-hated handbag were safe.

Can I just pause to tell you how much I am in love with Bai antioxidant waters.  OMGOSH!!!  Clean, fresh, and no chemical sweeteners.  Plus the flavors are seriously worthy of YUM!!!  I grabbed the Brasilla Blueberry, filled the tank, stretched at the gas pump (Oh yes, I did and I didn’t give one single fig that the parking lot was full of construction workers ready to start their days), rolled all the windows down and sipped my way home.

From our storage shed to home is about 30 minutes.  As I was walking up the soggy steps, only a couple of ounces remained.  When they were slurped, I made my way down the hall to pick clothes for the day.

“Humm, business meeting with hubs later…a trip up the canyon to check on one of the stores…grocery shopping on the way home…wait, screw grocery shopping…there’s leftovers…I have nothing to wear…”

There are over 65 hangers on my side of the closet but I’m at that stage where my pre-surgery clothes are looking clown-ish and my small stash of smaller clothes aren’t quite right but getting righter by the day so that I was starting the “I have nothing to wear” tantrum tipped me off to one very important thing.

I. AM. HUNGRY!

Okay maybe ‘hungry’ in the wrong word but I definitely was past time to eat.

Honestly on the way to hangry and irrational.

I made three trips from my closet to the refrigerator, “Nothing to eat.”

That there is ‘nothing’ for me to eat is not quite as untrue as the ‘nothing’ to wear.  I need to shop but there is food.  Good food.

So I took a big deep breath and reminded myself my want to eat has passed and I’ve let myself get to the need to eat stage.  There’s a difference.

“Just eat half a Quest Bar and chill the hell out woman!”

Yes, I said it out loud.

Because, sometimes I have to get that tough on myself.  I have to hear it.

So I noshed the Banana Nut while I started this post to help me from chomping through it too fast.  Distraction is a necessary tool for me when I let myself reach this stage.  Otherwise I can plan on the next several hours dealing with a sad tummy.  Did I mention I have things to do today?  I do not have time for a sad tummy.

It doesn’t matter one single bit that I do not want to hold still and babysit my belly.

Or that the former me might decide to skip breakfast altogether in the name of “Stuff to do” even though the truth would be skipping meals is just a form of self-punishment or abuse, and can inspire disordered eating.

Today I have a sleeve.  Sleeves need food on a fairly predictable schedule.  They need high protein of good quality along with fiber and plenty of water.

Today I know I have to love my sleeve, myself and my body if I want to stay happy and healthy.

I ate the other half of the bar after I showered and while waiting for my trusty t-shirt to extract most of the water out of my curls before blowing them to smithereens since, thanks to my hangry moment, I was now out of time to let them dry naturally.

And then I was able to get to the rest of my day which included choosing to not have the most glorious sweet potato fries in the whole world when we stopped at one of my favorite cafes for lunch.

Sweet potato fries, no matter their glory, are actually worse than letting my day spiral to the point I have to ‘force’ to eat.  Glad I was not hangry because I might not be quite so rational.

And, this my friends is how you get through a real life post-op day.

Weight loss surgery success is all about navigating your life within the requirements of your new tummy.

Choices.  Always, always, always making your choices and holding yourself accountable for them.

So far days like these and making these choices have yielded weight loss totaling 35 pounds in seven weeks.

 

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The Reliability Of Your Inner Voice Should Be Suspect

As most of you know I’m a writer.  Today I am going to share with you something all writers experience.  It’s called the ‘inner editor’.

If you’re not a writer you might not understand writing and editing are not the same thing.  Not even close.

The writer is creative.

The editor is corrective and sometimes bent on destructive.  Self-editing especially while writing is also highly unreliable.

For the writer to truly edit her work she needs distance from the project and also knows to never attempt editing when she’s feeling emotional, discouraged, or just plain bitchy.  Good writers know self-editing is a minefield and just how often the inner critic is a liar.

Oh gee, doesn’t that sound like the inner ‘fat’ person who hasn’t quite caught up to the outer thinner person?

Of course!

Self Criticism

Last week it was raining so I took the opportunity to try on my favorite blazer.  I have had it around 10 years.  For the last eight or years so I have only been able to wear it a handful of times so I was beyond thrilled when it fit.  It was even loose in the arms.  Of course, I had to take a selfie.

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As proud as I was to be standing there in all my blazer fitting glory, when my daughter came over a few hours later and said…

“Mom…with your arms down…it’s actually too big for you…look see…right there,” as she pointed to my waist.

My brain had a hissy fit.

It’s not too big.

It can’t be too big.

She’s just being nice.

She’s lying.

“Oh well thanks for being so generous sweetie.”

“No mom, I’m serious.”

I couldn’t handle it.  I did not know how to handle it.  The former bigger girl within wasn’t ready to listen.

Then a few days later I tried on a pair of mesh-y capri workout pants.  You know that fabric that is used for basketball shorts?  It’s that heavier material not the thinner yoga type.  Anyway, they’re this lovely shade of yellow-orange that’s almost fluorescent.

“Honey, BE HONEST…Can you see my cellulite?”

“Babe, I don’t know how to tell you this but your cellulite is almost gone?”

“Shut up…it is not.”

“Honey…listen to me…it is almost gone and no what’s left is not showing.”

I rolled my eyes convinced my sweet hubs was lying to me.

And the inner bigger girl went on with the smack talk about my lumpy, bumpy, bulbous thighs.

Just so you know they were over 31 inches EACH when I started my journey and they were riddled with cellulite.  These are not ‘cottage cheese’ these are ‘cheese curd’ bumps and lumps.  And, I have a life-long hatred for them.

For him to say those curds were almost gone was inconceivable.

Two days later I slid those same unforgiving capris on and checked my backside in the mirror.

“Well whattaya know,” I said aloud while I stood there flummoxed and blinking in disbelief.

The backs of my legs are about 75-percent smoother.  It’s really unbelievable.  It feels more out-of-body than real.  The front side still has a ways to go but the point is I couldn’t see, I couldn’t feel, I couldn’t appreciate my daughter’s unsolicited assessment or my hubs solicited one because my inner bigger self has not caught up to my outer thinner self.

I need to tell that inner big girl to shut up in the same way I tell my inner editor to shut up.  I can get rather mean to my inner editor and feel okay about it because I have confidence in my writing ability.

My inner big girl…umm…she’s a bit more fragile.  Okay, a lot more.  Who am I trying to kid.  That part of me still has a lot of healing to do.

So today I decided to slide on my white jeans.  I’ve been toting them around longer than the blazer.  But, these white jeans are much more sacred.

You see these are the jeans I was wearing the day I found out my divorce attorney had absconded with my $1,000 retainer, moved to out of state without telling me, and would not be in court to represent me.  I had to fire him over the phone in open court and agree to represent myself if I wanted to get divorced that day.  After two years of my children’s father dragging it out and being an ass I needed to be done right then and there.  These jeans and I went to work rebuffing each of my ex’s objections to the terms of our divorce.

These jeans are part of one of the most badass days of my life.

I kicked my ex-husband’s attorney’s ass wearing these jeans.

I’m talking to the point the judge’s mouth kept gaping in disbelief.

I might not be fully feeling the outward changes to my body but I’m definitely remembering the fierceness of that day.

I am basking in the strength of the white-jean-wearing woman…while I’m reminding myself that 33+ pounds in 43 days is also badass.

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And…

The truth is to keep from sabotaging my progress I have to help my inner critic catch up to where my body is today…breathing and trying to be present.

Hello non-scale victory!!!

I am wearing white jeans with a waist band loose enough that fresh out of the dryer I could still fit my whole fist in the gap…HELL YAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!

My inner critic can shut up today.

Her opinions are not valid.

 

Feelin’ A Bit Off…The Next 25ish Pounds

So if you’ve been following along you know I hit what I call my ‘fibromyalgia weight’ four days ago.

Honest to hell nothing clicked in my brain on any day prior to Sunday to warn me I was inching ever closer to the number I have been fighting for, for the past two years.  The shock of seeing it has left me in a funky, funk ever since.

Fighting.

I have been fighting to reclaim my body from the weight Lyrica and Cymbalta piled on for over TWO YEARS.  And thanks to weight loss surgery those pounds just melted away like nothing.  I should be turning cartwheels.

Shouldn’t I?

Ahh, the ‘should’ problem.

No wonder I’m feeling depressed and angsty.

I’m telling myself I should NOT be feeling anything other than rainbows, butterflies, and unicorns–purple, glittery unicorns.

The truth…

The truth is I feel sad.

I feel lonely.

I am grieving…not the pounds lost but the life I have lost since the day fibromyalgia changed my life forever and what sparked its arrival in my life.  I was 236.6 pounds on 9 September 2009 and again on 10 April 2016.

And to be entirely transparent in that way that keeps me real…

The next pounds to lose are the ones I gained after I married the professor who turned out to be a narcissistic psychopath (No, I am not exaggerating in the least in case you don’t know that story).

Oh Sweet Mercy!!!

More grief is coming.

There are a tiny handful of things I would truly change about my life if grated the power and marrying that man is definitely one of them.

I was my best me when he found me.

As with all charming narcissistic psychopaths, I was beguiled enough to say ‘I do’.

What I did not know is he trolled for me because my four children and I were supposed to be his Penance for destroying the lives of his wife and four children.  He had a magical plan that God would forgive him if he swooped me and my children up.  As we stood as proxy for his ex-wife and children, he was sure he would be healed by God’s Grace.

Of course, part of his plan included me being demure, submissive, and perpetually blinded by his charm. (Oh God, I can’t even type demure or submissive without laughing.  As anyone who really knows me, knows those are probably the last words that could be used to describe me.)

I guess his plan could have worked if he had managed to remain charming.

Instead he committed unspeakable atrocities.  He humiliated me for sport.  He abused me.  He told me of his plans to rape and pillage those who have wronged him.  And, he was enraged when I wouldn’t sit back and take it all with a cheerful and willing spirit much less worship him what he felt was magnanimous charity toward me and my children.

Fortunately for me, he failed to plan on his mental illnesses to unmask him.  His true colors are the stuff Stephen King writes about.

The stress of our 18 month marriage piled on about 25 pounds.

As we were divorcing, he called me ‘elephant ass.’

Right now…

Right this very minute…

I am sitting on those 25 pounds.

Yes, the bulk of the weight I gained landed on my booty.  Yes, those words stung.  The tear sliding down my cheek says they still sting.

But what you don’t know, unless you know the whole story, is the professor was teetering close to 500 pounds when he decided on this cruelty.

The man with the waist bigger around than I am tall called me ‘elephant ass.’

Unfortunately he’s not the first super obese person in my life to say something nasty about my weight so it triggered all of those past pains too.

Those are the next 25ish pounds on my To Lose list.

Losing weight isn’t about losing weight and losing weight alone.  It is about losing all the shit that came with the pounds.

A 500-pound man with a questionable grip on reality called me elephant ass…and I have to deal with it.

Even though I already knew this was coming I guess I am a little surprised it has arrived so quickly.

Fuck.  Fuck.  Fuckity.  Fuck.

When he met me, I was the strongest me I had ever been.

I had risen from the ashes of abuse and neglect.  I had healed myself and my soul.  My words were even being featured on the gratitude journal section of Oprah’s early 2000’s website.

Me.  On Oprah’s website.

Less than two years later we were divorcing and the tell-a-tale symptoms of fibromyalgia started appearing.

It is the scar of our relationship that will never leave no matter how many pounds I lose.

Despite much personal growth, I am still not back to where I was the day he found me.

Even if I could snap my fingers and be instantly rid of those 25 pounds, fibromyalgia will remain.  It has changed me and the course of my life.  Granted some of the change has been positive but this new reality does not lead back to that woman I was.

So maybe I just need to get a grip.

Maybe I need to cut myself some slack.

Maybe I need to deal with the terrifying horror that was being linked to the most truly evil human being I have ever known.

“These next 25 are some of the most painful ever placed on my body.”

Maybe I just need to say that, put that out there, and let it be.

Maybe I need to trust myself and all the work I have done to reclaim the spirit of the woman who captured the attention of Oprah’s people.

Maybe I just need to be present.  Because my here and now is even better than the woman who was the best me could have foreseen and frankly that’s pretty damned amazing considering all the shit I’ve waded through to get here.

Maybe I just need to do the work instead of feeling glum.

For my sleeve to do its job, I have to do mine.

So I’m feeling a little off…

If this is all you know about my story, I am sure you’ll tell me it’s to be expected.

Maybe I need to give my elephant ass a hug before I shove it off the wall…

Elephant

 

I Took My Life Back One Month Ago Today

In some ways, this first month has passed so slowly.  In other ways, it has flown by.

People have asked, “Has it been hard?”

Frankly, no.

Learning how to live again after consenting to have 90-percent of my stomach dissected and discarded–vertical sleeve gastrectomy–has been relatively easy.

But…

I have been preparing for this for over two years so I have had a lot of time to get my head right.

When I started college at 32 years old and as a mostly single mother (trucker wife to my now-ex-husband) of four in 2002, I made a commitment to myself to figure out how to get healthy, lose weight, and live with Grace toward my body and my weight.

Each semester I took a fitness class to ‘force’ myself to focus on fitness and weight reduction.  I stopped eating junk and took to learning everything I could about nutrition and focused on fueling my body.  I also worked on never looking in the mirror and saying, “You’re such a fat cow,” ever again.  Through it all I graduated with honors and finally kicked the no good so and so to the curb.

What I did not know then is on top of the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome I already knew I had I also had Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.  I knew I had hypothyroidism and I knew something more was thwarting my efforts to lose weight but I could not find a doctor to listen.  They all assumed the fat girl was lying about how much she was exercising and how she was managing her food intake.

It would take 10 more years–TEN–for me to find a doctor willing to write the lab order for the test to detect the autoimmune antibodies to confirm Hashimoto’s.  The test was positive. Fighting two hormonal conditions is insane.  It’s also a losing battle.  So I lost but not weight.  Okay, I did lose a bit of weight.  I would average 1/4 of a pound–the meat on a fast food burger–a week!!!  It didn’t feel like a victory then and it certainly doesn’t fourteen years later.

The struggle was not without reward.  What the experience did do for me was teach me how to get tough and real about my body.  For that my gratitude for the journey knows no bounds.  The positive antibodies are also what sparked my interest in weight loss surgery.

Compared to that ‘highlight’ reel of my 14 year journey to reclaim my health, weight loss surgery has a been a piece of cake…the cake I no longer want to partake.

The past month has felt like a dream compared to the nightmare I lived.

As of this morning, I have lost 28.1 pounds!!!!!! since the day I left the hospital weighing more than when I went in (read about that here) and 15 inches and 2.1 percent body fat.

In my adult life and not even postpartum have I ever lost this much in an entire YEAR!!!!

My best effort two years ago was 21 pounds.

Of course, my Hashi’s flared and my hormones piled it all back on in less than three months.  That, actually, was my last straw.  Because, if my stupid hormones are going to do that then weight loss surgery is the only tool to fight back.

You see your body stores hormones in fat.  When you are over fat, you are also over hormone’d.  When you are over hormone’d, your body is confused.  Slow weight loss through traditional means cannot and will not ever be fast enough to correct the hormonal imbalance.  Weight loss through surgical intervention is the only weapon to leech enough fat from your body to force a change to the chemical imbalance holding your body and health hostage.

And, in the event my thyroid whacks out again I would rather gain 20 pounds starting at 160 than at 220.  Simple as that.

Fortunately, I finally have a really great doctor willing to stay on top of my hormones so now I can focus on helping weight loss surgery do its job.

Fortunately, I am finally using the right tool for my personal metabolic chemistry.

Finally, I am moving in the right direction.