Emerging From A Less Than Awesome 365 Days

Hello readers,

I know it’s been a good long while since I last wrote.  In fact, the last time I wrote, I had just had my gallbladder removed and was recovering from that surgery.

Earlier this year, one of my friends who follows (followed? since I haven’t written in so long) this blog asked me if I would be writing in it again.  I danced around the topic, saying that life had gotten in the way and that I simply hadn’t had time to do it, which was partially true.

But really what stopped me from writing was this:

I allowed me to get in the way of my progress and regained 75 pounds in 18 months.

I let the knowledge that my knees are shot dictate how much activity I engaged in weekly (from 5 days a week of 90 minute workouts to nothing) and what sorts of foods I let myself eat.

I’ve had another 2 birthdays since the news of my shoddy knees was delivered by my orthopedic surgeon and in that time, I haven’t been very good to myself.

As a consequence, I haven’t felt very good about myself in over a year.

You can see how this can easily become a vicious cycle, no?  Weight gain + feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth –> regain –> feelings of low self-esteem and self worth –> behavioral fatigue magnified –> regain.

I’d gotten to my lowest weight ever–210–in the fall of 2014 and was thrilled because I’d never imagined I’d ever see a number so close to 200 pounds before.  I thought that maybe my eventual goal of weighing less than 200 pounds was within reach.

But no matter how hard I tried, no matter how little I ate, how much protein I put down, how much exercise I did, the scale didn’t budge.

I got tired of fighting my body.  And when Dr. Ramsey said “no more squats, no running, no leg presses,” I took that as an affirmation that it was okay to stop fighting.

Except it wasn’t.

You see, my body only knows how to lose or gain weight.  It doesn’t know how to keep it off for the long term.  My biology is such that I have to work so very much harder than the average bear to keep weight off once it’s lost, and I’ll be honest–doing that work gets extraordinarily tiring after a while.

I won’t lie; I got tired.  It is a lot of work to shop for the food you’re going to eat in a week.  It’s even more work to prepare meals for a week.  It is a lot of work to plan menus and measure out the right portions.  It’s even more work to convince yourself that what you’re doing is good for you, especially when the Fat Girl in your head tells you, “But it’s so much easier to go out!”

Clothes stopped fitting correctly.  I stopped feeling good about how I looked.  I stopped caring too much about how I looked.

75 pounds and 2 pants sizes later, I finally sat up and paid attention.  I started working with a trainer in March.  I figured I’d ease back into getting healthy again by forcing myself to go to the gym, but that this time I’d go because I was paying someone to be there to teach me to properly lift weights so I wouldn’t hurt myself or further aggravate injuries I already had (knees and shoulder).

I’m pleased to report that I’ve gone every week since I started on my birthday with the exception of the two weeks I was gone for the AP reading, and for the AP summer institute I went to.  I’ve regained range of motion in my left shoulder (which got jacked up somehow) and have begun to see my upper body start to look more sculpted under all the fat I’ve put back on.  My legs are another story–but I’ll work on that.

I plan to add two more days of exercise to my schedule once school starts on the 15th.  Since I’m doing very little cardio these days, I’m planning on making those other two days cardio days–the bike, elliptical, maybe even aqua fit classes.  I figure it’s just two more days and just means I have to force myself to get to bed early during the school week, which I should be doing anyway.

I decided that this time would be different and that I’d take a scientific approach to reclaiming a weight I could live with–220 pounds, which is what my doctors said would be good for me.  I’ve decided to agree with them.

On August 1, I started by cutting out all artificial sweeteners.  I’m a Splenda user, but I’ve also seen the research that shows that using artificial sweeteners may actually cause one to gain weight.  The only place I use Splenda is in my iced tea, so that led me to the next thing I cut out:  caffeine.

I also decided to cut out caffeinated drinks, which for me means no more iced black tea.  I decided to do this to see how it affects my ability to sleep at night, which is something else I have been trying to work on all summer–getting adequate sleep.  I’ve been mostly successful in that endeavor, averaging around 7 hours of sleep a night, which is far more than my school year average of about 5 hours per night.  I’m going to try and keep this up throughout the school year.

I bought a uBiome gut kit so that I could take a survey of the microbes in my intestinal tract.  There is an increasing body of research about the influence of the microbiome on overall health, so I decided I’d take a peek at what’s growing in there so I could see what influence my cutting out artificial sweeteners and white starches would have on my gut microbiota.

I decided to start tracking again using MyFitnessPal.  As much as I hate looking at it, it’s helping me to keep my carb levels below 50 g a day.

Finally, I decided to go on a low-carb, high-fat, whole foods diet.  This is what I’ve been successful with before, and is something that I can learn to live with in the long term.  It’s what’s sustainable for me and my biology.  Protein shakes contain all manner of artificial sweeteners, taste terrible, and make me hungry because I don’t get any sense of satiety.  So that eliminates me using them as a weight loss tool.  All that, and I just plain love chewing my food.

Treating this version of weight loss as an experiment and looking at it through the lens of the scientist that I am has helped me to avoid falling prey to cravings for the tacos, ice cream and iced tea that I’ve wanted so much this week.  I figure if I reintroduce those things, I’ve just ruined whatever data set I’m in the midst of collecting, so it’s best not to introduce them at all if I want to have a good data set.

When they tell you that bariatric surgery is a tool, it is precisely that, a TOOL. It is a tool that you must skillfully manipulate every single day, without much wiggle room.  I have learned that while yes, moderation in all things can be part of a healthy lifestyle, moderation does not work for me.   For me, moderation in eating is the equivalent of giving an inch and taking a mile.  I have taken far too many miles, and I’ve arrived at this body.  This makes me sad, because I’d hoped that I could do maintenance.  The past 18 months proves that I can’t, no matter how hard I try.  Like I said, I know how to lose weight and I know how to gain it.  I have to learn how to balance the two behaviors out.

For my 40th birthday, I gave myself the gift of getting the body I deserve to live with the rest of my days, and I’ve abused it.  Now I’ve got the body that gave me diabetes and high blood pressure, both of which I’ve avoided again so far, but not if I continue on in this body.  I had a checkup earlier this week that showed key health markers were out of whack compared to this time last year, so I’ll be back at my PCP’s office in February/March to see how my experiment has changed these indicators.

I figure that I ate myself into this body, I will eat myself out of it.  Or at least back to where I was 18 months ago. At least back to 220 pounds.  That’s a body I can live with and try to maintain.

I just want to feel good again.  I want to feel good about how I look, and I want to be proud of myself again.
Here goes…




12 responses to “Emerging From A Less Than Awesome 365 Days

  1. I was just thinking about you and wondering how you and your Bariatric journey were progressing. I understand regain and wholeheartedly agree that this is a tool and that for most people “moderation” is not a realistic option. Yes, losing ( especially after surgery- and unfortunately GAINING too) are easy – the real work is maintenance. I’m so glad to see you back and sharing your journey. I wish both of us continued success.

    • Yeah, moderation is for people who have never had a weight problem I think. 😉 It just really doesn’t work for me in the long term.

      • I absolutely agree! If you’ve never had a weight problem moderation is probably possible, however I find that if you have ever suffered with obesity, it’s not a viable option.

  2. Great post! You are not alone. I regained about 35 lbs and was struggling a bit. I decided to focus on eating better and feeling better rather than the number on the scale. I’ve never been okay with eating almost nothing (I can’t revert to 800 or 1k calories a day – or I should say I won’t!) and have worked hard to repair my metabolism. I generally eat 2k calories a day and have just started fully the keto way of eating (I’ve dabbled in it before) and am loving it. The scale is moving down for the first time in forever which is a bonus. I’m more trying to find a sustainable way of eating that I enjoy!

  3. Did my post not go through?

  4. My friend – it’s good to see you back. You are not the first or the last to hit the wall . Me me me me mee!!!!!! Some times it takes a while (fingers tapping on table, waiting….) to get our heads back in the game – and remember that this TOOL we have – this surgery we had …. is STOMACH SURGERY, not BRAIN SURGERY and the headbattles continue. Get back into it as best you can and don’t give up …. say I as I keep fumbling at trying to “get back into it”.

  5. It’s so good to hear from you. I am so sorry to hear about your struggles, but I know you are a strong person and I know you can do it. You’ve proven it once before!! Writing helps a lot of people and I hope to see more posts from you in the future. It’s real, it’s raw, it’s honest and helpful to a lot of people (hopefully yourself included!) Hang in there!

  6. Hello there. I’ve been following your blog for a while and was wondering what you were up to. Please don’t feel bad about yourself. I’ve gained all of my gastric sleeve weight back, and thanks to a medication that I was given in a psych hospital, even more. I am saddened and disgusted with myself. I’ve seen my bariatric surgeon and I’m getting back on track with working out every day and logging my food on MFP. So far, so good, but I need to stay motivated! I fell like it’s such an uphill battle, and I’ll never get to my goal. I want to get down to 170 and my surgeon isn’t too optimistic, but I’m determined to prove her wrong. You can do this. Over the time you’ve started your blog I’ve admired your persistence and dedication. I am confident that you can get down to a healthy weight again. I’m sending polite vibes your way. Keep fighting the good fight!

    • Thanks for your support–I’m slowly creeping back down to where I would like to be, but now I’m battling the extra skin. I’m physically stronger than I was a year ago but there is so much extra skin that it’s discouraging.

      I hope you are able to get back to your weight as well. I’m 50 pounds from where I’d like to be, but I think I can be okay with losing 35 more. I’m just tired of fighting and ready to finally settle on being happy with the body I have–isn’t that what we should all strive for?

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