200 Days Down–A Lifetime To Go, Gracefully

Okay, I’ll admit it…When I had weight loss surgery I was focused on that first year, of getting to that ‘finish line.’  It’s something my nutritionist has been slowly dripping on me about ever since she met me.  I know there really is no finish line when it comes to health but I did get caught up in the first year post-op craze of making it the end all be all.

She would say things about how this is for life and how it’s so much healthier to let our bodies unfold–and unfat–in their own due course and how with thyroid disease my journey is not always going to be in my control.  All things I know.  But honestly in the beginning I was so caught up in the rush that all I really heard was “Blah, blah, blah.”

Sorry Michelle and thanks for being so beautifully patient and supportive.

So what changed?

My scale battery died.

And it did so on a week when I was too busy to rush out to replace it.  I live in a rural area so it’s a 25 minute round trip to the nearest store which might carry the right size button battery.  Instead of making myself crazy trying to work in a special trip, I just let my scale sit there in the dark under the bathroom cupboard.

Of course, that meant I was also in the dark about the numbers it displays.

As you know, I’m super anti-goal weight but what you may not know is I weigh myself daily.  Daily weigh-ins are a tool.  But, to help manage my chronic edema which is a side effect of an injury over six years ago.  The injury damaged the veins in my left leg so sometimes the fluid pools in my body and I have to use a diuretic to help it escape.  When I was heavier, I didn’t always feel the water weight gain.  I didn’t always see it either.  After gaining over 20 pounds overnight a few years ago, I decided I couldn’t rely on my own body dysmorphic eyes to show me the water retention and started the daily weigh-ins, reluctantly and at the insistence of my physician.  Water retention of that magnitude is taxing to the body so I know it’s the right thing for me.

However, now that I have had weight loss surgery those daily weigh-ins can eat my brain.  Oh sure they were cool in the beginning as the pounds were flying off my body.  Now, not so much.

My thyroid is wigging out big time so I’m stuck more than I’m unstuck and the scale is cruel reminder of how much progress I’m not having.

Frankly, and without any fanfare, I checked out of September.

reflection-quote

I just let myself think.

I helped myself avoid stressing about weight loss on any level.

I did work with my doctor on my thyroid.  We’re still working on it actually.

I did work with my sleeve and kept my focus on doing the right things for my body.

And some really amazing changes started happening…

I noticed I am happier.

I have more peace about my journey.

Without knowing my weight, I developed a clearer vision of how I want to live the rest of my life.

I have actually arrived at a place I did not expect to see so soon.

Grace.

No, I am not talking about spiritual Grace.

Personal Grace is what you think about yourself when you are alone with your thoughts.

When I started my weight loss journey in 2002, my goal was to be able to live with Grace about my body.  To love her, to be kind and compassionate to her, and to be really real with my honest feelings.

sarah-ban-breathnach

I never thought I needed to be certain size or weight to have Grace.  It has always been something I felt like I would know when I found it.

I have.  And, it’s every bit as beautiful as I hoped.

Except…

Finding it now okay lead me to more questions.  Interesting, unexpected questions:

  1. If I have Grace now, what does that mean for me moving forward?
  2. How do I balance this peace with knowing my weight loss is not finished?
  3. How do I make sure I hold this feeling?
  4. Is this feeling going to become an excuse to give up or not work hard?
  5. Am I settling for less than I deserve because I do not really believe I can do it?

Whoa, right?

Those are some pretty tough questions.  Good thing though questions have always been my favorite kind.  Such the existentialist!

thoreau-quote-achieving-goals

I don’t have all the answers yet but I do know holding this feeling is important and that lead me to thinking about what else I feel is important:

  1. Onederland–199.9  Yeah, yeah, yeah it’s just a number but after over 12 years of chasing it I think I’ve earned it.  202.3 this morning…Go body, go body, go body.
  2. 30% Body Fat–That’s been my weight loss surgery goal since I first started thinking about weight loss surgery.  On 23 September, I reached 39.9% and that felt pretty wonderful so now I’m really looking forward to dropping out of the 30-percent bracket.
  3. Sculpting and Toning–This goes hand in hand with a healthy body percentage and it has also been part of my plan.  I knew at some point I would make the mental switch from ‘worrying’ about weight loss to focusing on defining my body.  I just never expected to be even thinking about making that switch at six months post-op.  Making muscle gains can make weight loss look slower so it’s really something you have to be mentally prepared to see.
  4. Seeing Me–Like I have said before I have had body dysmorphia my whole life.  It has driven me to do some really dangerous and unhealthy things and that is so not what this journey is about.  For the past three weeks I’ve been pulling jeans out of the closet that I still cannot fathom will fit my body.  That’s some scary stuff.  I’m not too, too worried though because at the same time I have also looked in the mirror and thought, “My arms are smaller…I can see it…They look smaller.”  Just to reinforce that I am seeing my body as smaller I grab the tape measure to prove it to myself.  Yep, smaller.  Yay me…go body, go body, go body.  That I am seeing myself shrink is the ultimate victory.  This is also something I need to hold so much stronger than the number on the scale.

So on my 200th day post-op, I’m declaring I’m done.

Not done with weight loss, done with being a jerk to myself.

I am making the switch to building my body and holding this Grace I have found.

Existentialism = Living authentically

Living authentically = Having Grace

So much more me than any number could ever explain…

grace-beauty-quote

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A Love Letter To My Sleeve

Dear Sleevey Weevey,

I seriously love you!  I really want you to know that and how much I appreciate all the hard work you do for me each and every day.  I know I have been pretty grumpy lately so this is me apologizing.  If I know one thing about friendships, I know what it is like to be the friend who is always there but gets taken for granted.  I am deeply sorry I have been treating you that way.  This is me making a promise to you that I will be better at giving you the credit you deserve.  You are really amazing and I really want you to know I do appreciate you and your place in my life.  You have saved me from so much and inspired me to so much so it’s high time I give you the thanks you not only deserve but have earned.

All my love,

Me

This love letter was inspired by learning yesterday my TSH has shot up to 15!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  For you non-thyroid peeps a normal TSH is between 0.5-2.5.

With the thyroid it’s all opposite land.  A TSH over 2.5 means your thyroid is slow and a TSH lower than 0.5 means your thyroid is running too fast.  As you can see, thyroid health has a very narrow, and for me personally an elusive, optimal zone.

But a 15!!!!!!!!!!

I have not had a TSH that high since before my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis diagnosis in 2012.

Two months ago my TSH was running slightly too fast at 0.15.

ARGH!!!!!!

What inspired the drastic shift?

Well, honestly when I found out the copper in my multivitamins was pooling in my blood my NUT switched me to copper-free–read super expensive–vitamins so I needed to start a generic desiccated/natural thyroid product to balance the cost.

Since desiccated thyroid brands vary quite a bit I was mentally prepared for the dosage to be incorrect.  I was thinking maybe a TSH of 5 or 6 so when the doctor said 15 I nearly fell on the floor.

After the initial shock wore off, I started thinking back to all the other moments–the many, many, many moments–my thyroid has gone whack-a-doodle.

The last time–the time that inspired me to stomp my foot and demand weight loss surgery–was October 2014.

Earlier in 2014, I applied to be on Chris Powell’s Extreme Makeover.  I did not make it past my audition but I was successfully applying carb cycling and had been having the most rewarding weight loss experience of my life–30 pounds since January 2014.  October rolled around and my body flipped the switch and by Christmas I had gained all 30 pounds back while strictly adhering to the exact same things I had been doing for 10 months to lose weight.

Boom!

Ballooning up like that while following my eating and activity plan was nothing new.  But, I promise you just because it was my ‘normal’ didn’t make it any easier to deal with.  It took six months for my thyroid to re-stablize.

Soul Sucking!!!

But, I’d had enough.

Weight loss surgery was the one and only thing I had not allowed myself to try so I started investigating surgery practices.  After settling on a practice, I had my initial consultation in November 2015 and was sleeved in March 2016.

Since March I have needed three previous thyroid medication changes.  Every time I lose the next 15ish pounds my levels change.  It stands to reason since thyroid medication is partially dosed by weight.  Honestly, I have spent more time waiting for lab work to confirm my TSH levels and verify the new dosage than I have had an optimal thyroid in my corner.

And that leads me to now…

In the past, a TSH of 15 would have been bad news but a rapid drop would have meant at least 30 pounds of unearned weight gain.

Yesterday, that all smacked me in the face really hard….

I.
Have.
Not.
Gained.
30 (or more).
Pounds.
With.
A.
TSH.
Of.
Fif-freakin-teen!!!!!!!!!!!!

Since my medication change on 4 August, I have actually LOST…

3.5 pounds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have LOST 3.5 pounds with a SLOW THYROID!!!!!!!!!

Inconceivable!!!!!!!  (From the Princess Bride)

Honestly, until yesterday those 3.5 pounds didn’t feel so much like a victory.

Dear Sleevey Weevey, I seriously love you.

Medication change is being called in (doctor asked for time to consult with the pharmacist so hopefully we can get super close to right this time, of course I agreed to be patient) and my retest is already scheduled for 18 November.

Eight more weeks of me over here doin’ my thang and sticking to my calorie and protein goals to inspire my body to release some pounds, swallowing my medication every morning like a good girl, moving daily and working with my trainer weekly…only to have to steel myself for the very real possibility the medication change will still be wrong and I’ll just have to repeat this scenario in eight more weeks but…

This time it will be with a greater appreciation of every ounce my sleeve saves me from gaining and even helps me to lose.

perception

 

Six Months–Shrinking

This, my six month sleeveversary, post is dedicated to all the newbies, the still deciding, and those who just need to take a step back and really see how far they’ve come…because like I always say:  This journey will eat your brain if you let it…
As most of you know, I was sleeved 8 March 2016 so I just passed my six months. I do not ‘celebrate’ my surgery day because that’s just the surgeon doing his job.
Instead I celebrate my first full day home from the hospital because that’s the day it’s all on me now.
That was yesterday. 
Of course, I have been extra contemplative. 
It’s only natural. 
Extra contemplative, however, to the point I have written this six month post more than three times already. 
This journey cannot be contained in a reasonable amount of words so I decided to pick the ones that would likely help others as much as they have helped me.
Anyway…
I scooted out of the house yesterday before taking my measurements. This morning I was half dressed before remembering and stripped back down just to mark the occasion. But, not before debating if I really “needed” to take them.
Thankfully, I decided that since I have to be out of the house before 8 a.m. tomorrow that I had better stop now and record the numbers. It only took me about five minutes and then I got dressed so we could go out to breakfast.
 
It wasn’t until coming home that I was actually able to reflect on the numbers and compare my progress.
“Whoa!!!”
 
All the “big” body parts–chest, waist, hips, thighs–have shrunk more than one inch for every month I am post op.
 
A whole inch.  Per month.  Minimum.  Per body part.
 
I am six months post-op so that means I am at least six inches narrower than I was. To give yourself and idea go find a ruler and look at six inches.
 
But here’s the thing my chest (bra band) was the smallest shrinker at 7.25 inches.

My waist: 9.75 inches.

My hips: 10.25 inches.

My thigh: 6.25 inches (right leg only because I’m right handed…some people measure both but I don’t).

All the ‘little’ body parts–neck, bicep, forearm, calf, ankle–all shrunk from 1.5 to 3.75 inches.
Actually one of the things I am really loving about my journey is I am shrinking in nice proportions.
 
What I really want to stress especially to you newbies is thanks to the ‘joys’ of thyroid disease I am a slow loser by comparison. I try not to compare but most post-ops lose so much faster than I have so I’m only mentioning it to give you an idea that my results are slower than what many people experience.
Slower.
But, still awesome…and it feels great!!!!
be-proud-of-yourself

Now take a look at that ruler again.
Put it up next to your body.
Make yourself see it.
Half of a foot, at least.
 
Six months.
So what have I been contemplating?
Well, like I said I cannot contain it in a reasonable amount of words so I have decided my focus thought for September is: “Self-Reflection.”
I have changed in more ways than size.
Thoughts I had at the beginning no longer matter.
Things I never thought to think or at least thought I would not be thinking about at this point are flooding my brain.  The only logical thing to do is let myself think.
My journey has always been about becoming rather than losing so one of the big questions I am asking myself is: Who am I becoming?
So far, I’m liking the answers.
Plus, I’m still waiting on my thyroid retest results anyway and since my body is clearly unimpressed with my efforts of late now is the perfect time to think.  I am sure my doctor will be lowering my thyroid medication so it will be a few more weeks before my body is rid of this stupor.  Instead of driving myself bananas I am just going to sit right here and be…(and by sit right here I mean while doing all the things I know I am supposed to, to elicit results).
Skinnier…by at least half a ruler and close to a full ruler at the widest part of my body.
nobody-sees-the-number-on-the-scale
 

Irony, Schrodinger’s Cat, And Me

Here’s some irony for you…
 
I’m (this close) to Onederland and my scale battery picked this morning to die. For all I know, I’m there and I don’t know it.
 
BUT….
 
I’m also not freaking out about needing to race out and get the right batteries (bought the wrong ones yesterday) because I don’t care. Okay, I do care but it’s not an obsessive, “I must know right this instant” sort of feeling. I’ve been chasing 199.9 for as long as I have been trying to lose weight.
 
This morning…It’s. JUST. A. Number.
 
It’s this whole Schrodinger’s Cat moment…Am I? Am I not 199.9?

And what are all the possible outcomes for my day and my life whether I am or am not that particular number at this particular moment.

 
Today, tomorrow, next Tuesday…the number isn’t why I am here.
The number…DOES NOT MATTER!!!!!
I did want to and made a goal to celebrate the anniversary of my grandmother’s early obesity related death by reaching that milestone but it absolutely does not matter that I do not know if I made it.
Not being wrapped up in the number today or ever again…coolest thing in the world!!!
Cat