Sunday, September 05, 2010
To say the stress of, well, everything along with celebrating multiple birthdays last month and generally using every occasion as a reason to eat anything I wanted de-railed my weight loss efforts is a gross understatement. Two weeks ago I was six pounds heavier than my depressing recent heaviest weight! Talk about defeat. Did I let that be an excuse? No. I bitched a little bit and had a nice big kick in the ass conversation from my husband and am happy to say as of this morning I am back down 7.5 pounds after a week of mindful eating and mostly juicing it a few days. It's helping a lot that my normal day includes about three extra miles of walking than before. I also dropped my Tuesday/Thursday class so that I'll have breaks in between those non-stop school/work days. I do plenty of walking on campus so if I work out the other five days a week I should stay on top of things.
I started off my morning today with no sugar coffee, some fresh fruit and a tablespoon of peanut butter on whole wheat. It seems to be a good balance of carbs and protein for me though I think I'll start adding a boiled egg to that routine as well as some protein/fiber in my cup of joe just to maximize it all. I also bit the bullet this week and bought fitted yoga pants, fitness tank tops, four sports bras, good moisture wicking socks and got fitted for a brand spanking new pair of saucony running shoes. I may be fat but trying to workout or do yoga in clothes that are too loose, too big or ill fitting just sabotages my efforts. I'm wearing my new workout gear as we speak and sure, it's a little embarrassing. I hate my arms, I have a stomach roll covering up what should be my abs and my thighs and ass, though shapely, are HUGE. I see people of all shapes and sizes though work out in the exact same clothes at the gym where I work. Some are new mothers, some are old ladies, some are women, like me, who just put their own health last priority for a while and are working their way back into healthy routine. I've got to stop using my fat as an excuse to stay that way. I have muscles, I have some endurance and I know form from previous years of dance, cheering and sports. The thing I haven't had is balls. I've let my shame be my excuse. Guess what, some people are never going to like the way I look regardless of the number on the scale. Some people will find my scars, my birthmark, hell- even my red hair a huge disgusting turn off. Who cares?
When I think about the level of pain I was in before my surgery and even how my bones are still growing as we speak, I think about the nutrition I need to maximize my healing so that it never happens again. I also think of the work I must do to recondition those muscles and improve my core strength so that my spine is well supported for the long haul. Coincidentally eating for maximum nutrition and strength training along with cardio is my ticket to weight loss.
Counseling, the support of my good friends and husband and focusing on the long term rather than quick solutions at the bottom of a milkshake are what will get me through mentally. I've already done a lot of the heavy lifting on that end of the spectrum. Now I just have to get moving and pray that inertia carries me and pushes a little air under my wings. It also helps that program director and main instructor for our university fitness program just took over as the director of fitness at the recreational center where I work. Considering I see Carolyn almost every day I have no doubt she is going to keep me inspired and push me hard to achieve my goals both with my own personal health and my future career in the field of Health and Wellness Promotion.
I'm back on the wagon y'all and this time I'm taking the reins. I'll be eliminating baggage along the road. Be sure to wave if you see me but don't be offended if I don't hear you over the music in my ears and the thud of my heart. At least it lets me know I'm still alive.
Friday, July 30, 2010
Yesterday was my three month post-op appointment from the two level cervical spine fusion I underwent in April of this year. I had to get x-rays again and see my surgeon. He says my neck looks GREAT and I'm clear to swim, do yoga (although some advanced poses are a permanent no-no) and work out as much as I want. At this point everything is set though the bone will continue to heal and grow up for about 4 more months. I doubt I'll ever do much headbanging or stage diving again but for the most part I'm returning to normality. I took this pic right before work yesterday.
My eyes look bright and there's no effort behind that smile for the first time in a year. I get finished with my shift at work and I'm ready to do something else. I still have tons of energy where before I could barely make it through work and once I finished I'd come home to collapse on the couch until bedtime. I've got a little fatigue in my neck, shoulder and upper arm muscles still that will likely get worse for a bit as I rebuild my strength there but I'm excited that I can be active again. I'm excited that I can clean my house, do laundry, play with our dogs, run errands, cook, dance and act silly again. Chris, my husband, and I were cleaning a few days ago and he commented on how good it was to see me dancing around and shaking my butt without even realizing it. I feel like I've come out of a fog. The mental and physical fatigue are disappearing more and more.
I'm a lucky one. This surgery doesn't work for everyone and there's a strong possibility I will need a repeat of it again years from now. I am definitely going to do everything within my power to improve my health as much as possible though and not take this body for granted anymore. The fact that I do feel like running tells me maybe I should.
I thank God every day for the graciousness and kindness of those close to me that helped out SO much before and after my surgery. I am here right now because of their love, encouragement and care. It was a long dark tunnel for awhile and I was ready to give up hope more than once. I'm glad I didn't. Precious doesn't begin to express what life is to me now. I'm done biding my time, I'm ready for the "L-I-V-I-N" to quote Matthew McConaughey.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Today is a big day, literally. I stepped on the scale after months to discover my weight has sky rocketed to 290.4 lbs. I sat down in disbelief and just cried while my husband offered up advice and consolation about what I must to do to get back on track with my weight loss efforts.
Once upon a time I was a wee little child that blossomed into a wholesome, healthy pin-up styled young woman. Hips and boobs are just part of my package and have been since puberty. It's great in a cleavage inducing gown but not so much when you're trying to bat and find your ample bust in the way of your swing. I accepted that I was built more like Mae West than Chris Everett Lloyd. I even embraced it because it does feel very womanly. A few years worth of steroid treatment to combat respiratory issues along with a poor choice in birth control saw my weight ballon out of control. When I spoke to a doctor about the depression my weight gain had caused he prescribed an anti-depressant that packed on even more weight. I was at least 316 lbs at my heaviest though I refused to step foot on a scale for nearly a year and am quite sure I topped off closer to 325. The need to manually landscape my nearly three acres of lawn along with sheer determination helped me regain my self confidence and shed close to 120 lbs. I maintained at least a 75 lbs weight loss without much effort for years. Sure, I knew I could stand to get serious about losing more weight but I lived an active life, ate fairly healthy and was too busy enjoying being an attractive single musician with a busy social calendar to care.
After meeting my husband I decided to get serious again about my health. He has maintained a 140 lbs weight loss for quite some time and stays incredibly active. I know he understands my struggle. He loves rich comfort food as much as me and knows all about how to validate poor choices and excuses himself. With his support I lost 40 lbs almost effortlessly. I cut out sodas and fast food, I walked 2 miles a day and drank lots of water. It was then that the pain began.
In August of 2009 after months of uncomfortable pain in my shoulder I scheduled an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon for what I assumed was a rotator cuff injury due to years of fast pitch softball in my youth. Instead I was sent to a spinal surgeon where I learned I had two degenerative discs in my neck and a bone spur that were causing nerve compression and damage. I tried conservative therapy- injections, pain management and physical therapy but my pain increased to the point of near incapacitation. I spent months arguing with my insurance company to get the approval for surgery all the while losing myself to the pain. I sucked it up as best as I could all the while propped up on high doses of vicodin and muscle relaxers just to make it through my work day. I slept most of the time I wasn't working, lost use of my right hand and had to stop playing piano completely. I ate like hell. I mean, why not? Eating had become the only pleasure in my life and I definitely indulged myself.
Two months ago I checked in for an anterior disectomy and two level anterior fusion. I had every confidence in my surgeon but being a singer the front entry and stress to my vocal chords along with the risk of permanent damage scared me to death. At this point though I expressed to my husband that I was in so much pain all the time that dying on the operating table seemed preferable to the life that had become mine.
I am thankful to say my surgery was quite successful and on a bad day a few advil are all I need to get me through. I still have a long way to go before my bones are completely fused and I can resume life without physical limitations. Being free of the pain though is a miracle and I am so thankful to be getting my life back a piece at a time. I spend hours at my piano again now that my dexterity has returned. I've had to do some vocal training to recover the full range of my voice but I'm happy to say I can sing just as passionately as ever. Best yet I am well aware that my health is not something to take for granted. When I imagine the low quality of life I experienced for all those months it's all I can do to keep from running straight down the street screaming for joy that I am no longer in that place. I also am armed with the knowledge that I have a similar back issue in my lower spine that if I do not take action will eventually put me back under the knife. There is one way to avoid that, however, it requires making a commitment to losing the excess weight, improving my core strength so I can support my spine better and maintaing that lifestyle forever.
I am appalled that my previous efforts have been erased and I am back to the drawing board as they say. When I stepped on the scale and it flashed 290.4 lbs at me today I was speechless. What I am not is in the dark anymore. I know where I stand and what lies ahead of me. I have a game plan, I have lots of love and support from a great man and with this wonderful place I know I will meet more folks just like me who know how it feels. I've bitched a lot about my weight off and on over the years but today feels different. There is an acceptance of where I've been that makes me confident that where I am going is quite a new and exciting direction.
This is me a few days ago, my first public appearance without my neck brace and bearing my new scar. It will never let me forget how precious my life is and the importance of striving for lifelong health.
"Here comes the sun, Here comes the sun and I say... It's alright."
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