Thursday, December 19, 2013
One year ago yesterday, I came home from the doc with the knowledge that I was seriously deficient in vitamin D, iron and folate, and a lot lower than they liked in B12. I already knew that my body doesn't handle supplements (besides D3) well, so I would need to get these back in to line using food. I figured that my best bet would be to start tracking everything I ate, and learn which foods were highest in the nutrients I needed.
I got on line and started researching the various trackers available. I spent the day trying different ones to see which would be the easiest to use, and give me the most accurate information. The one which stood out for me was here at Spark, so one year ago today I started tracking my foods to make sure that I was getting at least the minimum on the nutrients of concern.
When I signed up, I entered my current weight according to my ancient analogue scale (which turned out to be 5lbs more "kind" than the new digital scale I got a few months later), and let the system choose a "goal" for me of losing 50lbs over the course of a year. I blithely ignored the calories of the foods I entered, since I wasn't actually concerned about my weight, and concentrated on changing the foods I ate to get those nutrients. This set me on the road of learning to cook, with the aim of making sure that my nutritious foods were delicious enough that I would continue to eat them forever because I *wanted* to, not because I *had* to.
A month later, that changed. I had been gradually getting back in to working out (trying to get some strength back after a couple of years of inactivity due to the cancer), and I managed to create a massive hernia along the incision from the 2 surgeries. I went to see my surgeon about getting it fixed, discussed the fact that mesh was not an option for me, and was quite bluntly told that the main cause of the hernia was my obesity (the abdominal fat on the inside pushing out on the incision, and the subcutaneous fat pulling outwards as well), and that he wouldn't consider doing the repair unless I got down to a healthy BMI. Fair enough - I was in absolute agreement that the risks of the surgery wouldn't be worthwhile if my body fat put me in the position of most likely having the hernia re-appear very shortly. Besides - that hernia hurt every day, and I definitely didn't want to go through the pain and risks of surgery only to get it back again! We agreed that we weren't going to put a time limit on it (I don't do well with deadlines), but that we'd meet in the autumn and see where I was at and whether a surgery could be scheduled.
So - I started paying attention to the calories on the tracker. In my mind, there was and is no option of ever gaining the weight back again, so I knew that I had to look at changes that would be permanent. This, to me, meant that the changes had to be ones that made me happy, since I'm not big on self-discipline and have no use at all for deprivation or guilt.
I never consciously made a big drop in calories consumed - just let them naturally fall as I learned more about proper portion sizes, nutrition, and how to make really, really good food. I always made room in my ranges to allow for the occasions when we wanted to go to a restaurant, or eat with friends, or have apple pie and ice cream for dinner (home-made and ohhhh so good). These are things that make me happy, and a world where I couldn't make them work is not a world that I would willingly live in, even temporarily for the sake of a "diet".
When I met with the surgeon in early autumn, he was happy enough with my loss to set a date for the surgery, with the understanding that I would be around 70 lbs down (not quite in the healthy range, but close enough that he was comfortable with it). Then, a couple of weeks before the surgery, we met again and he suggested a panniculectomy at the same time so that the weight of my left over "apron" (you can't spend the majority of your life obese without a price) wouldn't be a continued risk for a future hernia. His only stipulation was that I continue to do my part of the job, and get down to the healthy BMI range and stay there.
The surgery was a few weeks ago. I went in to it at 73 lbs down, but "gained" 10 that day from the swelling. I no longer have a time-line, and need some extra protein for healing, so I set my ranges for what would be maintenance at 150 lbs. That's what I'm seeing as my "goal" for now, and am finding it easy and comfortable to stay in the range that I'll have to be in for life. The swelling has been gradually going down (will take 2 to 6 months for it all to go away), and I hit a pound below surgery weight this morning. I'm figuring that I should end up hitting "goal" some time in the next year or so - without ever feeling deprived, or disciplined, or like I've been "on a diet".
The Man was and is totally on board with everything (even though it makes it a bit hard for him to not accidentally lose weight that he shouldn't), and has made it a lot of fun by challenging me with new foods to try, new cooking methods, and new ways of spicing things. We both automatically weigh everything as we are preparing it, and weigh my portions as we're serving them. He's better than I am about eye-balling a portion (I've got lousy vision), but this is such a habit by now that we don't even think about it.
We've spent the year joking about my "dieting" and how "deprived" we are (usually as we're noshing on something particularly yummy). The best example was a couple of days ago as we were at the hospital to get my staples removed. As we left the elevator from the parkade, we walked by a sale-table set up by our favourite German bakery (one which we either drive 2 hours to visit, or hit their stall in a busy local farmer's market). After we were done with the doc, the Man suggested that we take a different set of elevators to the parkade so that I wouldn't have to "suffer from temptation"...
When we were done laughing, we stopped at that table, picked up their plum cake and apple strudel, and proceeded home to have plum cake and whipping cream for brunch (we had the strudel for dessert that evening) --- which fit nicely in my ranges, left enough room for me to eat the nutritious foods that I need, and made us both very happy. THIS --- THIS is a way that I can easily live forever.
Over this past year I have lost just under 74 lbs, "met" some incredible people, learned a ton about nutrition, learned a ton about myself (my likes and dislikes, what satiates me, and what doesn't), and have had a lot of fun in the process. I've got another 16 lbs or so to go, but am perfectly content for that to take however long it takes.
I *LIKE* how I'm living, what I'm eating, and how I'm feeling now that I no longer have any nutritional deficiencies. Every change has been one that has *added* to my happiness, which has made this a ridiculously easy journey for me. I know that I'm totally un-trustworthy when it comes to eye-balling portion sizes, remembering what I've eaten, and keeping on top of nutrient values, so I'll be on here for a good, long time --- weighing and tracking every single bite. It may seem like a lot of work to some, but for me it is a pretty small price to pay in order to get rid of the hernia pain, and feel better every day.
My deep thanks to all of my Spark Friends for your knowledge and support, and most especially for sharing from your hearts --- you have been a huge part of the joy for me. I wish you all the very best of the season, with hopes that you find the same fun and happiness in your journeys that I have found in mine.
Thanks, all, and strong thoughts that 2014 brings you all of the love, laughter, and happiness that you deserve!