Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Series Post #1: Are You Ready?

*- This series is based off both my husband and I's personal experiences of having lost 225 and 190 lbs respectively and how what you go through physically can also affect you mentally. Your experience may be very different.  As a reminder, I am not a health professional. All physical and mental health issues should be discussed with a medical professional before making any changes to your current routine.

I was going over some old journals during the thick (no pun intended) of our weight loss journey and I was glad I did.  There were a lot of important lessons I learned back then and they were lessons I thought might be beneficial to share- especially for those beginning a monumental weight loss journey.  While we're still trying to slay the dragon, I sometimes forget that I have already lost 225 lbs and there was power in that journey from my heaviest and most depressed.

In a country with an obesity epidemic, it's not unheard of for people to have 50-100 lbs to lose anymore.  There are still stigmas and stereotypes attached to people with that kind of weight to lose but imagine you have 200-300 lbs to lose.  Well, the answer most people give to people with that kind of journey ahead of them is "have the surgery."  I get it.  I understand they think that's the "easy" way but anyone who has ever had the surgery can tell you that it's far from easy.  I had a mother, co-worker and best friend who had it and I saw what it did up close and personal.  While I wish them luck with their paths, it wasn't going to be ours.  We had discussions about it and it just wasn't how we wanted to live our lives even if that meant we'd never truly reach our "goal" weight.  One thing I learned from them all is while surgery can give you an advantage to a degree, it does not address the mental part of the weight loss struggle.  You can eat your way around the surgery eventually if those things aren't addressed...I've seen that up close too.

I remember being at a restaurant one night when I was about 18 and my mom and husband (then boyfriend) were geared up to start losing weight.  Well I wasn't there yet.  All I kept thinking was about the restriction, about how I finally graduated and had a boyfriend and now I was going to be reduced to salads and misery and passing up fun with friends, all the exercise which I hated and how I'd rather be doing other things.  I got defensive...super defensive because their excitement was translated to my brain as betrayal and them calling me a loser for not being on board.  I was driving and got snappy and I ran an orange light and a cop pulled me over.  My mom was yelling at me from the backseat and asking me what the hell my problem was and now I did it and I'm sure she said other crap but I just heard Charlie Brown teacher voice in my head.  The cop sauntered up to my window and he asked if I knew I ran a red light and I just burst into big sobbing tears.  This served me well as he cringed at the show of female emotion, probably thought I had my period and let me off with a warning rather quickly.  Of course my tears had nothing to do with being pulled over and everything to do with feeling like I was being forced into a lifestyle I wanted nothing to do with at the time.  It wasn't really discussed when we got home and they never got anything going on the weight loss front.  I blame myself to a degree but if they were truly ready they would've followed through because no one should stop you if that's your goal just as no one can talk you into doing it if your heart isn't in it.

You can make a list of every ache and pain that is related to your weight.  You can know every statistic like for every pound lost, four pounds of pressure are taken off of your knees.  You can be frustrated about not being able to shop in regular stores and being expected to be grateful for the frumpy frocks the plus sized stores throw your way for 4x the price.  You can know that you should be drinking water but nothing gets you through your morning like soda or that venti iced caramel macchiato with an extra shot.  (Those who know me just laughed because they know I had to actually look up "how to order at a coffee shop" because I hate coffee.)  You know that those veggies you cut just end up a neglected moldy mess that you keep pretending isn't there when you do attempt to eat healthy so you stop buying them.  You can hear every attempted "inspirational" saying like "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels" and you think "actually Krispy Kreme does."  I get it.  We get it!

You may have had someone you love come to you with the "I'm worried about your health" angle.  Please know they come from a place of love but don't want to say something that could offend you and send you into a spiral.  I know it's not pleasant to hear but try to have empathy for someone who tries that approach.  It's much better than when my great aunt told my cousin "wow, you've gotten fat!" and his response was "[expletive] you very much!"  I know this comes from a place of love because I have people who have already lost weight, gained a lot of it back and are having serious mobility issues because of it.  Yes, as someone who has been there I knew I was fat and didn't need anyone reminding me but I also felt something interesting when I was in the thick of losing weight.  No one EVER said that to me.  No one ever said "I'm worried about your health" when I was 494 lbs but when I lost 100 lbs (with 200+ more to go, mind you) then I started hearing "I'm worried you're losing too much weight."  When it was said in front of my whole family once, I responded with "I'm sorry but no one gave a sh*t when I was almost 500 lbs about my health so you don't get to comment on it when I'm getting healthy."  That shut 'em up!  :-)

Then the time came where the Mr had an x-ray and they found a spot on his liver.  That weekend was like hell on Earth.  We were both at our heaviest weights and there were a lot of tears shed.  That feeling of our bad habits finally catching up to us was finally upon us.  That weekend on TLC, they aired this special from British hypnotist Paul McKenna called I Can Make You Thin.   (affiliate link) Look, stop rolling your eyes...when you feel like maybe you're on death's door and you feel like somehow something higher than yourself is putting something in your path to help, you listen.  While some things didn't click with us like his tapping technique, other things did like just the simple act of portion control and actually analyzing your meal as you chew thoroughly.  So much of it made sense and for whatever reason, it all penetrated.  Our defenses were down and I believe we were in a place to mentally be ready to receive the information we needed to get us on our way.  That was the start of it for us.  Once we really began to put those tips into practice consistently, 50 lbs came off like nothing.  We even lost 8-10 lbs on our Hawaiian vacation that year and we ate pizza, salt laden Hawaiian food and cake.  But we portioned it correctly and stopped when we were full.  For us, that was the key.  When that first 100 lbs came off for both of us, we knew that we could do this and better, we could do it together.  Having that built in support system is so important because believe it or not, you will likely have more saboteurs than supporters.  When someone who is overweight sees someone else losing weight, it shines a light on their own perceived failures in that department and it's better to try to push food or encourage skipping a workout or tell you you're being too strict, etc.  I can't count how many eye rolls I'd see when we'd go out for birthday dinners and order something healthy.  Um, you can have the Admirals Feast, I don't care what's on your plate but don't you roll your eyes at me because I made a healthy choice without patting myself on the back in front of anyone and passed when the dessert came around.  You should be happy for us, not making us feel like crap for doing what's right for us!

I hope that if you're new and reading this that you know that you do NOT have to have pills, surgery or extreme diets that restrict or cut out entire food groups (unless you legit have allergies) to lose weight.  I hope you know that maybe you found this post because somehow you were meant to or maybe someone you loved shared it with you because they want you around for a long time and not because they're judging you.  I hope your heart opens up to the possibilities that better things lie ahead and you actually do have the power to do it and that the journey will not be perfect or even a constant downward trend.  Matter of fact, I went back and found all of my old journals where I had weights written down and put it into my tracker so you can see where I started in 1999 after I had already had my first weight loss success with Tae Bo and lost 80 lbs, then got sick and had to stop exercising and my weight started going out of control...

Click to enlarge

You can see I went outer limits and almost 20 years later, I'm not much better off than when I started but the difference is the 225 lbs that was not supposed to be there is gone.  There are occasional blips upward after vacations and weight to re-lose and I'm tired of that cycle and we're working to fix that.

I won't lie, we're still struggling with that last 50-100 lbs but we are able to do most things fit people are able to do and life is so much better.  We also know we're not getting any younger and at some point it stops becoming working toward a high school reunion, getting abs or whatever vanity project may be at the root of it when we're younger to it being about being healthier, stronger and being active as we age.  It affects not just our mobility but our brains and not exercising is a path to dementia in our later years especially if you are pre-disposed.

This series will tackle some of the things we experienced and saw with what they like to call "extreme" weight loss.  If it helps just one person know that someone else has done it, what could be down their path and the mental changes that could take place, I will consider it worth writing.

For those of you who have been with me for a while, thanks for hanging in there with me!

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  1. This is all so true and so honest for you to share. It has been a struggle at times and it's all about your attitude toward that struggle as to how the outcome is going to turn out. We do still have more weight to lose but nowadays it really is out of becoming healthier instead of other, more vanity oriented, reasons. I am proud of us for how hard we've worked and how far we've come and I hope others can see our journey for what it is and find some hope in there too.

  2. YoU are awesome, enjoy your day!

  3. On the other hand, I think reducing weight is very difficult. There are so many things involved - support and knowledge is key. But being in the right mind-set, tackling the demons that got you to a certain point, coming up with a plan that works for you -- those are the important things that will help you succeed in the long run. Knowing that you are doing this for you and not for someone or something else means you are more likely to stick with your plan for life. Portion control is super important and when you like to eat, that's VERY difficult. Mad respect to those of you working it every day to lose weight and keep it off. I started my journey after my mom died in 1993 and 24 years later I'm still working it. But I know my mom is proud of how much I've lost and kept off all these years because it is very difficult....

    I am very proud of you and the Mr. and I thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. I've told you before, yours is the only blog I just can't wait to get every day!

  4. This one really spoke to me Anele. I have lost 178 lbs back in 2010-11, then regained minor amounts twice before losing it again returning to my 150-lb. goal. Of course I lost my focus yet again, & am in the middle (hopefully the end) of yet another regain. Cripes! Will I never learn??!! Obviously not!!

    Amidst my concern over my own regain is worry over my two sons who really need to lose some weight to be healthier. One of them is close to 600 lbs. I'm pretty sure. The other could be there someday if he keeps gaining as fast as has since he stopped weight loss efforts a year or so ago. I keep thinking I'll lead by example. Like you I realize a confrontation will not work even tho it comes from love and caring. The desire to change your lifestyle has to come from within. Like you I also had a life threatening condition, or so I thought, which got me started on a journey to get healthier. Although the heart problem turned out to be a false alarm, I knew it was only a matter of time before those heart problems would only be too real. And I still know that today, seven and a half years later, at age 66. But does it stop me from binging?! Nope! Everyday I start off with new resolve however and one of these days I'll get it right. I've done it before and I can do it again.

  5. Thank you (as always) for your honesty, and inspiration.

  6. What a great series you're doing to allow people to see the details of the road you've been on. I think people will benefit from this greatly, whether it's a new person who's just beginning, and an "old-timer" who can recall their own ups and downs and the wonderful reminder to just keep pressing on. Loved this!


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