Monday, November 28, 2011

A spoon full of sugar.....

…..makes you feel like total ASS. Seriously. I have always had what you call a “sweet tooth”. I craved sugar like a drowning man craves air. I had to have it. Starburst, Skittles, Lemonheads, Lifesavers, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, cake and ice cream were all my drugs of choice. For the first month without sweets, life seemed almost unbearable. I hated everyone I saw eating something sweet. I wanted to high five them in the face….with a chair.

As time went on, it got easier to walk past the dessert table without wanting to swan dive head first into a raspberry cheesecake. I could even smell cookies baking without salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs. Eventually, not eating sweets was just a way of life. Ironically I found comfort in making the things I can’t eat, because somehow just touching and smelling it satiated my need to physically inhale it.

Over time I started to allow myself a treat here and there. A cookie at a Christmas party. A small piece of cake at a kids birthday bash. A few pieces of candy from the kids Halloween stash. Then the late night snacks started. Instead of having a cup of tea before bed, I would have a few vanilla crème cookies. Maybe wash them down with a miniature Butterfinger or two. As long as the scale didn’t move up, I had it all under control. Until I didn’t.

I started finding myself stashing candy in my drawer at work. Grabbing a candy bar in the checkout line at the grocery store and eating it in the car. Grabbing a handful of chips while I was cooking dinner. A couple of times, the scale got angry and screamed big numbers at me. My once loose pants didn’t feel so loose anymore. So I would slow down, eat less for a few days, maybe try a laxative and then start over.

I started feeling like absolute shit. I was tired all the time. I didn’t want to work out. My body felt sluggish and worn down. I had headaches and mood swings. Most men would say this was just me being a woman, but after a year and a half of living a healthy life, I could tell it was more than that. I was OD’d on sugar and coming off the high. No one has created a rehab for that, my friends.
Food is a drug. Plain and simple. Like an alcoholic with a drink, you can’t choose to just indulge a little. You have to go cold turkey. So I stopped making excuses, put down the miniature Snickers bar, stopped buying those delicious vanilla crème cookies, and hopped my ass on the elliptical. I opted to eat supper an hour later so I would have no excuse to snack at night. I stopped bringing candy to work. I started prepping my foods ahead of time so I had no reason to skip over the uncut celery and opt for the carb filled sandwich. I stepped away from the bowl of Halloween candy and put my chubby, chocolate covered hands in the air. I surrendered.

My name is Lisa. And I am a sugar-aholic.

Surprise, surprise, once I made the change I felt better (after a few days of feeling like total garbage!). I lost the 5+ pounds I had gained. My pants fit again. I found a renewed energy. I started to believe in me again. I play the following on repeat in my food addicted head:

I will not fail. I am strong and I am capable.
I will not fail. I am strong and I am capable.
I will not fail. I am strong and I am capable.

And it gets me through.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Run, fat ass, RUN...

A little over a year ago, the way I looked at exercise and the confidence it could give you changed. I went to Vermont with my best friend, Sarah, to visit and to watch her sister run a marathon. No joke. She ran 26.2 miles. Without dying. And so did a lot of other people. It was amazing.

I remember talking about it on the way to Vermont, and my friend Sarah and I were talking smack about how crazy these people were to do such a thing. I mean who wants to spend 2-6 hours of their day RUNNING? Not these girls. At that time we couldn’t even fathom running a 5k. 3.1 miles seemed like an awfully long way to run without an ice cream truck or a check from Ed McMahon waiting at the finish line.

But then we went, and what I saw changed me.

People of all sizes, shapes, ages and physical capabilities….running. Some fast, some slow, some with walks in between, but running nonetheless. And as we stood at the finish line I saw people bigger than me, and older than me, and maybe slower than me (?) crossing the finish line. And in that moment, I thought….I can do this. Maybe not 26.2 miles, but I can run. I can at least try to run. I can stop using my size or age or fears as a reason not to do something. That’s the point. Stop making excuses, and try something new.

Now the funny thing is, I went home hell bent on trying the Couch to 5k running plan because, damn it all, I was going to be a runner. I never did quite successfully make it past the 2-3 mile mark before I realized that will does not a runner make. But my friend Sarah, the one who SWORE that she would run to support me but had no interest in doing marathons of any kind, is now one HELL of a runner. She is aiming for a half marathon, which is only half as crazy as a whole one, but is crazy nonetheless!

Did I become a distance runner? No. Can I run a marathon? Only if you give me a year and a lot of naps. The point? Get up and do something. Anything. Just turn off Maury (don’t worry, he’s NOT the father!), put down the Ben and Jerry’s, stop making excuses, and find something that motivates you. Whether that be yoga, or running, or mall walking, or competitive laundry folding….try something new today. You never know what you’ll be good at until you try.

Monday, November 14, 2011

It ain't all skinny jeans and rainbows.....

For the longest time, I was the unofficial spokeswoman for gastric bypass. People would ask, “Are you glad you did it?” and without hesitation I would reply, “Absolutely! Everyday!”. They would ask, “If you could go back, would you still do it?” and I would reply with fervor, “A million times over!”. Over time my hesitation to answer these questions grew. My answers became less enthusiastic, and more questionable.

As you can imagine, the height of my excitement came at a time when my weight loss was almost incredulous in nature. To stand on a scale week after week and watch the pounds literally dissipate was amazing. I was awe struck and blinded by smaller jeans and the reappearance of a waistline I had forgotten existed so many years ago. I overlooked all the missed celebrations, the bouts of “dumping”, the jealousy over those around me who could indulge in sweets or finish a meal, and the fact that my stretch marks were no longer hidden under layers of cheese cake created flubber, because in turn, I was not only wearing skinny jeans, but I was, in fact, actually becoming SKINNY. And trust me when I say that the only time that the words ME and SKINNY went together was when used in a sentence like, “Hey, give ME the SKINNY on the nearest Cheesecake Factory!”.

The truth is, when someone promises to change your life in a way that you had given up hope on, you are willing to take the leap no matter the cost. When someone says this will affect the rest of your life, it doesn’t sink in just how long that will be. But let me tell you, my friend….it’s a mighty long time. When the initial excitement fades, and the weight loss comes to a stand still, and you are the lone wolf at the dessert table, holding an empty plate and drooling over the double chunk, macadamia cookies, I can guarantee you, you are instantly reminded of just how long “the rest of your life” actually is.

Is it worth it? In some respects, yes. Whether or not we want to admit it, we live in a visual and judgemental society where first impressions really are the lasting ones. People look at me differently now, they judge me differently, and they accept me easier than they did the 317 pound me. I blend in better now that I can fit in an airplane seat or a restaurant booth. People don’t give me the stink eye when I walk into a store like Ann Taylor or Express, nor do they worry I might want to try on their clothes. I am no longer the fat girl with a pretty face. I am the average woman. I am just like everyone else. Is that a good thing? Not always. It makes me less memorable. Less apt to speak out because I’m not really standing for anything. But also, it’s a good thing because I don’t stand out. It’s easy. Sometimes too easy.

I find that I not only lost weight, I lost a part of myself. When I was the big girl in my group, I never wondered what my friends thought. I ate what I wanted, wore what I wanted and knew that I was accepted. Now, sometimes I look around and almost feel shame for the way I look. I try not to try too hard. I don’t wear revealing clothes because I don’t want people to think I’m a narcissistic whore just because I lost weight. I try to eat what everyone else eats, because I don’t want to be the annoying girl eating a salad while everyone else chows down on steak and baked potatoes. I try not to make anything about ME. Maybe part of it is because I am always afraid that I will inevitably fail, and I know that if everyone’s eyes are on me ALL THE TIME, it means they will be the first to notice when I gain weight back. So, by not tooting my own horn, they won’t be able to say “I told you so” when I fall flat on my fat ass.

These are only a few of the things that run through my head everyday when I wonder if I made the right choice. And I never thought it would be this way. I thought it would be all protein shakes, skinny jeans and fields of rainbows. What it ends up being is a lot of time avoiding people all together, looking in the mirror, pulling on excess skin, wishing I could trim it off with a pair of scissors, and never feeling like I measure up. And then, an equal amount of time internally beating myself up for feeling/acting like a total asshole when there a millions of people out there who wish their problems were as minute and trivial as mine.

So am I still glad I did it? I don’t know. Would I go back and do it again. I can’t say for sure. All I can do is deal with the fact that it’s done, and I made the choice to do it, and I have to learn to live with it and do everything in my power to be grateful for this opportunity. Because although hidden sometimes, it’s still a blessing.