I’m Back To Try Again

Last Blog: 383lbs

This Monday: 365lbs

I find myself in a bit of a haze while I write this. On one hand if people had been honest with me in the first place and I had been honest with myself I wouldn’t find myself in this current predicament. On the other hand my openness has set me up for people being a little too inappropriate. One comment was akin to fishing for information, and the other comment was outright insulting.

So while I was out the other day a friends mom asked me how much weight I had lost. It was seemingly innocent, and most of the time I’m more than willing to volunteer because the words of encouragement inspire me to keep up my good work. I told her that I had nearly lost 100 lbs. Her follow-up questions was, “Well, how much more do you have to go?” I cringed, but I answered honestly. I can only ascertain that if she was so obliged that she could do the math and estimate my starting weight. You know when someone is well-intended and encouraging. You also know when they’re being nosy. This was the latter.

While it was awkward I shook it off and had a nice evening. Tonight, was a different story. I’ve mentioned in previous blogs that I exercise regularly. My exercise partner is a family member of mine who pointed out that I was losing a whole lot more weight in the beginning than I am now. That hurt. There are diminishing returns on this procedure, but I am still losing weight. I understand that I need to take things to the next level with my exercise, but I don’t need to be treated like that.

I needed to get that off my chest, and I need to get back on track again. See you next week. I promise!

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Breaking Down ‘Fat Logic’

Last Monday: 386lbs

This Monday: 383lbs

 

I’ve been recently trying to understand myself so that I don’t make the same mistakes ever again. Since I began this journey, I’ve lost over 80lbs. I feel like a new person already. However, more often than not I feel like the same person that got myself here in the first place. I don’t want to be this person again. I’ve been blessed with a second chance.

As I began to read what was out there I grew angry. HAES (Health At Every Size), FA (Fat Acceptance)… The worst thing I could possibly do would be to tell someone else that this is an ideal situation because I would be lying to you. Let me make it clear, I do not believe in bullying, harassing, or ‘fat shaming’. I know what it’s like to be bullied, harassed, and made to feel humiliated.

I’m going to break this all down for those of you who might be rubbed the wrong way by today’s post. Weight is a sensitive issue for us all. For some of us it’s a miserable reality that we live with and a vicious cycle. I do not deny that at all. In fact it shapes my feelings towards the fat acceptance and health at every size movements which will all be explained.

‘Health At Every Size’ is a theory that basically states that dieting does not sustain long-term weight loss, and that self-acceptance improves mental health. This theory is insidious for the unsuspecting follower. It’s positive, uplifting, and affirming to a person who is in a very bad place. If you’ve failed at dieting, exercising, and you haven’t seen results you can end up feeling quite debilitated by that sense of failure. The problem with HAES is that it grossly misused by it’s contemporary followers.

The HAES movement began in the late 1960s. People were not as large in the 1960s as many are in the 2010s. However, just as there are today, there were many fad diets. They offered a quick fix with quick results. Once you stop, the weight returns. That’s all a diet will frankly ever offer anybody. However, long-term lifestyle changes do yield results. Can you think in terms of a diet? No. A diet is temporary. Lifestyle changes are forever. 

There’s a line between self-acceptance and complacency. I chose to change my life because I finally got to a place where I did love and accept myself. I thought I was a worthless failure. I had the low self-esteem, the shame, and humiliation. I never believed I deserved better. There was no health at my size. There was no quality of life. I had high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and I never felt like I could be clean enough. Now and again I would believe in some delusion that I was happy.

HAES and FA are dangerous. A person like myself could have really embraced the movement. I am not 10-20lbs overweight. I am over 200lbs what’s considered healthy for my frame. I don’t need to embrace that because I can and I am changing it. I made terrible decisions, and they weren’t healthy. If they were healthy I wouldn’t have gotten to this size. If they became healthy I would lose weight anyways.

What infuriates me about the movement is that there are so many young people that aren’t as big as I was or as I am that are embracing this. Change your life while you have the chance. I was fortunate to get a second shot. You might not be. Yes, love yourself. Yes, acknowledge that fad diets do not sustain long-term weight loss.

I’m surrounded by people that would have spared my feelings right into the grave, well-intentioned people that misguidedly were allowing me to die because it was too unpleasant to address the elephant in the room. Value yourself, love yourself, change your life for the better. 

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Non Scale Victories

Last Monday: 390lbs

This Monday: 386lbs

 

I’ve noticed recently that my posts have been centered around my weight-loss instead of all the incredible experiences I’ve been having since I began my journey. This week’s topic is not about the number. There’s got to be great appreciation for my progress than saying, “Oh, I dropped this many pounds,” or “Oh, if I lose this much I’ll get this for myself,”.

  • My favorite pair of jeans fit.
  • I have the endurance to swim 3 hours in one sitting. (I did that yesterday)
  • I sleep better.
  • I can walk the entire length of the mall without feeling tired or needing to sit.
  • My pain level has gone down to the point where going to the gym isn’t a chore. It’s fun.

I’ve got to keep things in perspective. There’s no point in sabotaging my progress by being mopey over a number, and I had good numbers this week. I also have another non scale victory to look forward to. My favorite shirt already fits but not well. Someday soon I’m going to be wearing my favorite shirt and my favorite jeans. It’s going to be absolutely fabulous. Maybe, it will attract the attention of my dream fella, but who knows? Who cares as long as I’m living life and feeling great.

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Achieving My Three Goals

Last Week: 396lbs

This Monday: 390lbs

You might be wondering why you didn’t receive your Monday blog. Well it’s Friday and what a busy week it’s been. I’m rocking a new pair of Under Armour sandals. My Renaissance Fair ticket is in my money clip, and I spent Wednesday at the Shedd Aquarium for the first time in my life. I love the reward system.

That being said, I cannot reward myself every week. Sometimes the weight loss alone is going to have to be enough. Since it’s Saturday, I’m not writing a particularly long blog today, and I will be back Monday with my next progress report.

Thanks for your support!

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Back On Track – My Three Goals

Last Monday: 400lbs 

This Monday: 396lbs

 

The further away I get from my surgery the less disciplined I feel. When I started my pre-op fast at the end of April I weighed 465lbs. I’m almost down 70lbs today. Admirable, yes? My best effort, no.

Phase III has been marred with deviations on my diet and an underwhelming exercise plan. I’m being honest here. I could blame 4th of July, the stress of a new job, or a number of other things, but no, it’s me. The messed up part is that I’ve said before that this is my small window of opportunity. I really don’t wish to fail.

I’ve decided that in response to my recent behavior, the only solution is to appeal to my sense of gratification. I’m going to set up a reward system. I have to adhere to the rules to get my reward, with bonuses offered for excellent work. However, there are three goals that much be achieved with a reward attached to each.

  1. Phase III/Keto Combo: I’m going to stick to my Phase III foods this week, and incorporate a keto rule to help accelerate the process. Keto is essentially the first phase of the Adkins diet. You have to maintain less than 20 carbs a day. Eggs, cheese, and seafood should all keep my under this 20 carb limit. I will have to restrict milk.
  2. Exercise: My doctor asked me to incorporate 30 minutes of exercise 6 days a week. I have a bad habit of doing less frequent, but longer exercises. I might do an hour 3 days a week. Then, I’ll give myself Friday and Saturday off, and sometimes Thursday and Sunday. I’ve been asked to do 6 days, and I need to deliver.
  3. When I weighed myself yesterday at the gym, I was 396lbs. I’ve been taking off 1-4lbs per week. Last week, I said that I was losing and that’s what counts. Enough of that. I have a lofty goal of 5 pounds this week. That should put me at 391lbs. 

My goals are not unreasonable. Sticking to keto will be the easiest. Losing the 5 lbs should be easier than going to the gym 6 days. So the following is my reward system.

  1. Sticking to Phase III/Keto – I will purchase one Renaissance fair ticket. I go every summer, and I don’t have a lot of money this summer. It’s going to be a pocketbook burden, but I have to be motivated by something. (Give up something I enjoy in my mouth, get something that I enjoy for my soul)
  2. Lose 5lbs – My Nike sandals are falling apart. Honestly, it’s time to replace them. Again, money is an issue. If I lose my 5lbs, I’m going to buy them. I’m not going to replace them until I can lose 5lbs in a week. (A healthier me should be a prettier me)
  3. 6 Days of Exercise – All work and no play makes me a dull boy. I’ve always wanted to go to the Shedd Aquarium. If I get my 6 days of exercise in, I’m buying a ticket. 

Cheer me on! I’ll update you with my achievements next Monday!

 

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Public

Last Monday: 403lbs 

This Monday: 400lbs 

 

 

Bite one: “Oh this tastes wonderful!”

Bite two: “Things are finally returning somewhat to normal.

Bite three: “OH DEAR JESUS I THINK I’M GOING TO BE SICK!”

 

That is literally how each one of my meals goes. When I’m at home or eating alone this is alright. However when you add the public to the mix, this creates for some uncomfortable situations. I won’t cast blame here, because I am also admitting making judgments in regards to public eating.

For me it’s incredible to be on the outside looking in for once. The sheer amount of food served and consumed by your average everyday American is staggering. Appetizers, soup, salad, rolls, sides, main course, desserts, drinks. I tend to stick to the appetizers because I don’t want to sit there without food while this obnoxious parade of dishes goes on. I don’t bring it up. For one, I don’t want to draw attention to myself. For two, I don’t want to draw attention to the people I’m with. I feel that’s being considerate.

My courtesies aren’t often returned unfortunately. People tend to be quick to point out the lack of food I’ve eaten. I never know where they are coming from either. Are they self-conscious about their own eating habits? Do they think I dislike the food? Or is it just so mind-boggling that someone my size isn’t shoveling in meals like it’s the end of days?

It’s funny, when I was eating that way I never felt self-conscious. I saw myself as keeping up with the pace, no different than anyone else in the restaurant or at the table. Of course I was clearly blinded by my own willful ignorance.

I have to admit, a positive experience did come out of all of it. I halfway explained myself without getting into too many details, and she pretty much signaled that she got it. Well she came back later, and told me that she wished me all of the luck in the world. She told me that I was going to be feeling and looking so much better in a year’s time. It gave me hope, not for my own success, but that maybe the world isn’t this terrible place where we all scrutinize people under a microscope.

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Did He Quit Posting Already?

Two Monday’s Ago: 408lbs (gym scale)

Last Tuesday: 407lbs (doctor’s scale)

This Monday: 403lbs (home scale)

 

I’ll be addressing my absence at the end of my post. My main topic this week is scale differentials.

 

Now I could argue about scale differential, but that would defeat the point. The point is that my number is going down and I’m feeling better. To give you an idea however, I want to use last week’s weigh-in’s to show you the fluctuation. Last Tuesday my doctor’s scale said 407, mine said 406, and the one at the gym said 404. I don’t want to argue the accuracy because they are all so close together.

Your weight can fluctuate in excess of five pounds based on water consumption, sodium consumption, and even whether or not you’ve used the restroom. The truth is that I don’t consistently weight myself no matter how earnestly I try. I had a meal before the doctor’s visit. Yet, at the gym I had ate all day. This morning when I took the measurement, I had an ate later in the evening last night than I normally do. What matters, is that every week when I look at this scale the number is going down.

Fitday.com has an excellent resource here explaining the phenomenon.

 

For my extended absence, as you may have noticed I went to the doctor last week. I wanted to do a post doctor visit update Tuesday. I drove 2.5 hours to the doctor’s appointment, and 2.5 hours from the doctor’s appointment. I was exhausted when I got home. Wednesday evening, I went to the pool. So when Thursday came along I decided to combine this week’s post with last week’s with the intention of returning to your regularly scheduled posts.

 

Exercise highlights: 3.5 mile hike at Cowles Bog, 25 minutes on the elliptical, 2 mile walk through Chicago’s Buena Park neighborhood, 1 hour lap swimming. This isn’t all I did, but they were certainly the most exciting exercises of the two weeks.

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Learning New Limits

Last Monday: 414 lbs (Phase Two: The Last Day)

Today: 408lbs* (Phase Three: Week One)

 

Last week, I discussed the mechanics of pushing my limits and coping with the aftermath. The odd thing about that, and the reason for such a similar post is that during this week I’ve been given a whole new set of limitations and experiences. To break this down in three parts, I’m going to tackle the topics of food, exercise, and general adjustments to my new life in general.

Cheese, eggs, fish, and seafood are all mainstays in my diet these days. While, I’m very happy to have passed the full liquids phase I’m learning that the foods I eat now (especially the cheese) doesn’t digest as fast as the items allowed in the previous phase. In addition to slower digestion, I like the foods I am allowed in this new phase. I never truly knew how small my pouch was until this phase because I never filled it until this point.

I’ve mentioned before that the goals of my diet are low fat, low sugar, high protein, and I’m always supposed to focus on protein first. What’s really compelling about this that I’m now noticing is that this works in stark contrast to a  restaurant’s menu selection. Now that I can have fish, I can occasionally dine with my family. The first thing most people receive at dinner is your appetizer/soup/salad/bread,  sides/main course, and dessert if that’s your thing. There’s a disproportionate amount of fat, sugar, and carbs to the protein you’re supposed to receive assuming that your main course is in fact your primary source of protein.

I noticed this sitting at Red Lobster. They brought out the Cheddar Bay Biscuits (carbs and fats). They tried to get us to order an appetizer. Most of Red Lobster’s appetizers are more carbs and fats. The soups and salads have a little more hope, but protein is not the prevalent component. The sides consists of vegetables ranging from steamed to fried and offer very little if any protein. Then we get to the seafood, your protein component. Even the protein component can include, pasta, bread, breading, sauces, and a number of other components that detract from your goal.

So while I sit there waiting for the one thing I can and am supposed to eat I’m learning a hands on lesson of how and why things got so bad. I never thought I ate any worse than the other people around me. Here’s what I didn’t factor in. Small choices can make or break how much and how fast you can balloon up. If I eat just as much in bread as another person eats in salad or steak I’m going to gain weight faster.

People like to tell the morbidly obese that they eat too much or that they don’t exercise enough. It’s so much more complex than that. Seemingly innocent choices can make or break a person. Something I never considered is that the people I’m comparing myself too aren’t the best choices of people whose example I should be following. Just because a person weighs less than you do does not qualify them to speak to a healthy lifestyle. Had I known this years ago, I could have saved myself from the “Cabbage Soup Diet”, “NutriSystem”, and other abominations to my health.

Last week, I also discussed how exercise had become a part of my regular regimen before surgery. As I began to feel better I finally overcame my fear of injury and started to get moving again. Yesterday, I spent a half hour in the pool. Today, I took a forty five minute walk. I don’t feel great, but I’m not injured either. More importantly, I’ve realized that if I can heal up more my endurance is going to increase too. No longer do I feel pain from my buttocks pushing into my lower back.

The last thing I wanted to discuss is easing myself into this new life. I’ve been unemployed since January, but last week I started up a 300 hour contract with AmeriCorps to ease myself back into the daily grind. From here my goals are simple. One, I’m going to slow down my eating. I need to space out my meals better and lay off the cheese. Two, I’m going to increase my exercise. Three, I’m going to stop measuring myself up to other people. Four, I’m going to continue to commit to my journey.

*I weighed myself Saturday at the gym.

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Pushing My Limits

Last Monday: 417 lbs (Phase Two: Diet Week Three)

Today: 414lbs (Phase Two: The Last Day)

 

“Cheater.”

That’s what I told myself on this final week of Phase Two when I preemptively ate eggs (reserved for Phase Three), cheese (reserved for Phase Three), and cranberry juice (not in the diet plan at all). The theme of this week has been focused on facing some really harsh realities about myself and my behaviors. So, today I’m going to go through the week chronologically and discuss what has been happening.

 

Sunday: I’ve been pushing myself hard to start feeling normal again. Without food, a job, or the ability to adequately exercise I felt empty. The coping mechanisms in my life for stress have been gone for a couple of weeks. I am an avid swimmer these days. I joined a gym in January that had a pool because I don’t feel right without exercise. I used to think that I hated the thought of working out, but swimming does not feel like a workout.

My doctor told me, “No pool for two weeks.”

Sunday was two days shy of two weeks. I figured, “Close enough.”

I swam for 45 minutes and it felt great. I felt reinvigorated.

 

Monday:  This was my medical scare day, and the day I started this blog.  I went out with my brother to the bookstore to pick up some books. Afterwards, I went to my Grandma’s house. She hadn’t seen me since before the procedure. There I was sitting innocently in my chair. I turned towards her to speak, and I felt warm tearing sensation. I was convinced that I tore my staple line. I was more traumatized at the thoughts of having to go under the knife again than I was at the physical pain.

Horrified at what I had done, I hobbled down her stairs to go home and call my doctor. I spent an agonizing hour wondering whether or not I was going to be readmitted. I hated myself for swimming the previous day.

 

Tuesday & Wednesday: These two days, I spent in a slump. I did not leave my house. I moped around and did nothing. I wondered when I’d ever feel alright again. I grew angry. I lashed out at my loved ones. All the while, all I wanted to do was cry into a pizza. Not only did I grow concerned about my frame of mind, but I began to put together the honest to God’s truth about myself. I am a stress eater.

 

Thursday: Feeling better, I got out of bed. I filled my day’s activities with a trip to the mall. I behaved myself with a low calorie, soy protein smoothie. I cringed at my desire to have a soft pretzel. They were beckoning me with their wafting aromas.

However, that night at the request of a friend, I went out to eat. I’ve restricted myself from going post-op because it’s tormenting to be honest. This was my first violation. Eggs and cheese. My stomach said no, but frighteningly my brain said, “You’re so close to Tuesday. Go ahead.”

I justified it by saying that I could make worse choices, and that my transgression was okay because I was only cheating one phase ahead. I make excuses.

 

Friday: I nibbled on my egg leftovers. I did my first over the phone job interview.

 

Saturday: Ready to do physical activity again, I decided to accompany my friends to a local club to see a band. I was the designated driver, and this was the night of the cranberry juice violation. So, I’m following a strict no alcohol rule for 6 months. My per serving sugar limit is 10 grams. Cranberry juice has 25 to 35 grams of sugar on average per 8oz. glass. I probably had 12oz. total. Regardless, I was over my 10 gram limit. I bend the rules.

 

Sunday & Today: I went grocery shopping yesterday for my Phase Three items. Needless to say I’ve broken the rules again.

 

This is not a running theme that makes me feel proud. However, I do not feel entirely hopeless either. Before I had a structured program, before I had focus, I gave up when I made a transgression. I feel hopeful. I now spot signs of stress. I might make excuses for my transgressions, but I don’t use them as an escape. I bend rules, but I don’t consistently do so. For once in my life, weight loss is a long term goal and not a short term fix. I make mistakes, but I’m committed to getting my life back on track.

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The Story Behind the Name

I am morbidly obese. This sentence evaded my vernacular from the time I started putting on weight in 1997, until at a staggering 435 pounds I began my weight loss journey in January of 2011. In the three and half years I’ve been on this journey my weight dropped dropped to 383 pounds and climbed up to a staggering 460 pounds. Today, I’m back on the decline at 417 pounds.

I’m a 26 year old male so I’m going to work in some arithmetic. I started gaining weight when I was 10 years old. Before, I begin seriously working on my weight my biggest weight loss was in 2004. I was 16. I went from 340 pounds to 320 pounds. Weight loss surgery was never an option for me. I was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea in 2005 at 17 years old but promptly lost my insurance a few months later when I turned 18. From September of 2005 until October of 2010 I went without insurance.

I had just turned 23, I was able to see a doctor, and I was at a point in my life where I didn’t want to live another year the way I was living. I turned to the gastric bypass route. I had insurance, and nothing in all the time I had spent being morbidly obese made any significant impact. My first weight management clinic convinced me that gastric bypass was the only way to go. They also convinced me that if I did everything they told me to do that my insurance company would go along with the procedure. Thousands of dollars of medical debt later I was informed by my insurance company that my procedure was an exclusion on the policy. I was devastated but not entirely undeterred.

At 415 pounds I decided to continue along on a medically supervised weight loss option. They threw an unhealthy prescription of Tenuate and Phentermine at me simultaneously. This clinic wanted my money and offered band-aids that someone with my condition happily takes. The up and downs with this group helped me to get to my lowest weight in my entire journey. In January 2013, I weighed 383 pounds.

Then, June 2013 came along and I was informed that I would be without insurance effective July 1st leaving me devastated. Without my band-aids, I steadily climbed back up to 465 pounds as of April 2014.

During this time, I amassed with the help of family members enough money to pay for the procedure myself. Thankfully, this time I found the right doctor and the right procedure. My doctor based on my history, diet, exercise, and eating habits recommended I get the gastric sleeve. My new doctor also changed my outlook on this journey. I knew how to talk the talk. This doctor has helped me to begin walking the walk.

My sleeve took place May 13th. My pre-op liquid fast netted a 30 pound loss. Since the procedure, I’ve lost 18 pounds. I’ve lost 48 pounds in one month. My sleeve is a tool. It’s not a band-aid. Without my effort, I risk gaining everything I’m about to lose back and then some. While I “sleave” my body, I hope to provide you readers with an honest look at an earnest attempt to reclaim my life. I hope to hold myself accountable to all of you, and offer you a look inside of the kind of journey a person attempting serious weight loss goes through.

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