Saturday, July 06, 2013
When my partner got home yesterday, I advised him that he no longer had an obese girlfriend, merely an overweight one. He said "Congratulations, Babe --- you've worked so hard to get here, and made so many sacrifices..."
Then we both howled with laughter...
(He is such a good straight man for comedy.)
Over the past 6 months, there have been many changes to our eating habits:
No more multiple restaurant visits each week. Sacrifice? Well, no, not really. I am learning to make almost anything that we'd normally get at a restaurant, and make it taste better and be healthier, so the multiple visits aren't a loss. Now it is truly a treat when we do go out, as we go for something really special that I can't (yet) make at home.
No more delivery pizza. It came up on Thursday night when a commercial came on for one of the commercial pizzas. I did the "mmmmm, pizza - that's what we're having tomorrow" thing, and he looked at me like I had lost my mind. All was well when I explained that it would be our favourite cauliflower crust pizza, piled high with all kinds of goodness. Not much of a sacrifice to have something that we like better instead!
No more chinese take-out. We tried it a couple of months ago as a "treat", and ended up throwing most of it out. After a few months of making our own stir-fries and playing with lots of flavourful sauces for them, the food from our previously favourite restaurant tasted like salt-encrusted crap. Guess I can't count this one as a sacrifice, either...
No more chips. Hmmm, surely this must be a sacrifice: it was the thing that we would sit and share as we watched TV or a movie. Oh yeah, we switched it to popcorn, can play with the flavours to be whatever we're in the mood for, and both feel better physically with adding the extra fibre each evening. Soooo, no sacrifice here.
Changed up the desserts. We've both always been fans of really good dark chocolate, real ice cream, and real cheesecake. Did we banish them? Nope. That really would have been a sacrifice! Instead, we have them less often, and I have smaller portions. No sacrifice on that, since I'm now generally too full on the healthy meals to even want more. Other days I have plain yogurt with cocoa and maple sugar and berries and almonds and... and... well, whatever yummy thing that I want to add. I get all of the flavour and nutrition that I'm looking for, and don't miss the cheap crap "ready-to-eat" desserts at all.
Well then (pout) - guess I can't do much crowing about all of the "sacrifices" I've made, can I?!
So... how did I get here?!
I'm now entering completely uncharted territory for me. I was overweight as a child, and have been obese since I was 17, so it's been 3 decades since I was the size I am now. It's a weird feeling, as I was one of those mythical creatures who was quite happy, fairly fit, and completely confident at my obese size. Cardio was never my thing, but heavy lifting was, and it was something that I thoroughly enjoyed. I never had the "must hide my fat behind loose clothing" issue, and never had trouble finding comfortable, professional, and flattering clothes. If it was summer, I was out in my bathing suit without a second thought beyond making sure that the type of suit was suitable for my activity! My priority has always been on what my body could do, and not what it looked like.
I've always loved food, and loved exploring new tastes and textures and cuisines. I had an intellectual understanding of what a calorie was, but never actually thought about them or how they applied to me. I had a really basic idea of nutrition, but never thought about the nuts and bolts of it (vitamins and minerals) beyond including lots of veggies for the simple reason that I liked them. I focused on enjoying my life, and that included thinking about food primarily for what happiness it could add, whether that was from the taste or the joy of sharing the experience of it with friends and loved ones.
I was right around the 190 lb mark from 13 to 17, somewhere around 215 lbs from 18 to 20, shot up to somewhere around 300 lbs from 20 to 27, then dropped back to around 215 lbs for the next couple of decades. I did have a one year spike back up to around the 290 mark when my late husband was fighting lymphoma, but it dropped right back down to my "usual" in the six months after he died.
I'm not an emotional eater, nor really a binge eater, and don't have problems with stopping when I'm full. I read accounts of the folks on here who have to deal with these issues and am in awe of their strength and success. I can only be grateful that things have been so much easier for me since I don't have these things to deal with, too.
I got fat as a child likely because I had undiagnosed IBS, and the only thing that stopped the pain and nausea was saltine crackers with butter (and lots of them). That was essentially my dietary staple until I was diagnosed in my 20's. I suspect the spike around age 20 was the change from being highly active most evenings to working 2 or 3 mostly sedentary jobs. I was tired and not moving, but eating lots of empty carbs for energy. I dropped to my "happy" weight when I was able to work just one full-time job and get back to being active in the evenings. My spike up around my late husband's illness wasn't from emotional eating --- it was from looking for carbs for energy (I averaged 2 hours sleep per night that year), and the fact that hollandaise became an essential part of every meal in the attempt to help him get some weight on. I never "dieted" or watched calories or consciously changed my eating habits - my drops in weight were from increased activity (and likely an unconscious change in my eating).
I did have a spike up from my usual 215 late last year, thanks to surgically induced menopause. I literally went up over 20 lbs in 3 weeks, and then settled in around 240lbs. I was (and still am) dealing with a mysterious medical issue (I randomly faint a few times each day, and spend a few hours essentially incapable of thought), and started on this site in an effort to track some vitamins and minerals that I showed deficiencies in. Since the docs still haven't been able to figure out the cause of my problems, we were hoping that correcting the deficiencies might help. I spent the first month here ignoring the calories, and learning how to get the nutrients I needed.
I honestly wouldn't be bothering with losing weight now, except that I developed a nasty incisional hernia in January that needs to be repaired (it's severely limiting what my body can do --- and I *miss* my lifting, darn it!) and I have to get down at least another 20 lbs from here for a successful surgery. I also have to stay at that size, or risk having the hernia come back due to extra fat.
For all that this journey for me hasn't been exactly voluntary, I have to say that I'm really enjoying it! I'm having fun with the challenge of discovering new flavours and textures, and finding out which foods I can add to get the nutrients I need. I'm loving the fact that I am full and satisfied, and can enjoy all of the foods that I really want, in a calorie range that should work for maintenance at the weight I need to get to.
I truly am astonished and grateful that I'm now officially overweight. Astonished because it's just somewhere that it never occurred to me that I might be, and grateful for the tools here that have allowed me to get here. I am especially grateful to my greatest "tool" here: those of you who share your thoughts, your ideas, and your menus! I've learned so much more from you all than I would have ever thought possible. You inspire me in so very many ways.
I was recently put on a med in an attempt to fix my medical issues, and this med is notorious for weight gain (there are many anecdotes of up to 60 lb gain in 2 months). Knowing that this would put my hernia repair in jeopardy, I was really hesitant to try it (especially since this is more of a "let's give this a shot and see what happens" situation). Well, I don't know if I'm just one of the lucky ones, but even with the obvious extra water retention I am still managing to lose. It's slowed down the pace of progress, but that's perfectly ok (I never had a date in mind, anyways).
It's been a fun run so far, and I'm looking forward to seeing what else I can learn as I continue on down the scale. It's going to be an interesting experience to find out what else in my life is going to be impacted by just being a smaller size! I'm looking forward to finding out what new things my partner and I can find to add even more joy to each day as we continue to "sacrifice" our old way of life...
Wishing happiness, health, and humour to all of you - and that your "sacrifices" be as painless as mine!