The face in the picture.

I was updating the photos of my journey tonight, and as I scrolled through the edit page I was actually taken aback by the face in the first picture.

I remember the day as if it were yesterday. I was in Florida celebrating Thanksgiving with my family. I had just told my siblings and my parents that I was going to have weight loss surgery. I knew then, that I was going to make major changes in my life. I was looking forward to living. I was excited about the prospects. I know this all to be true. Yet… I see that face and there is no trace of anything but pain.

Once again, I’m going to comment on the role that the camera plays in this journey. It not only helps me to show you where I have come from, but it helps me to see where I was. It helps me to look back, and acknowledge that maybe I wasn’t as “okay” with being fat, as I thought I was. Maybe I wasn’t as “content” as I told myself I was.

I’m sad for the woman in that picture, but I don’t know if its because I know she was miserable then, or if I am judging her now. Perhaps its a little of both. Admittedly, it is NOT easy to see myself that way. As much as people show their before and after photos off, there is very little pride that comes with the before photo. Its painful to embrace. I was that person. That person IS who I am now.  Its hard. Really it is. That doesn’t go away. Regardless of how much weight you lose, you will always have been obese. You will always have been a statistic of the disease. And obesity is a disease. Its physical as well as mental. Its not pretty. It doesn’t go away.

So, thats my truth for tonight. The camera plays a role. Its important. The reminders are  sometimes difficult to reflect upon. The hurts can be covered up with clothes and new photos… but they are always going to be there. You can’t escape where you came from. You don’t get to out run your past.

http://vsgmom.com/pictures-of-my-journey/  it is NOT always pretty

It’s a Conundrum.

co·nun·drum/kəˈnəndrəm/

Noun:
  1. A confusing and difficult problem or question.
  2. A question asked for amusement, typically one with a pun in its answer; a riddle.

I feel like I keep dancing around this whole body change/dysmorphia/weight challenge. But I guess that’s what weight loss surgery/rapid weight loss is all about. Right?

So, this week I went back to that place that sends me into a cold sweat. I went to the fitting room. I knew that my size 12’s were loose and baggy, especially where my ass was. If your jeans don’t fit JUST right, you risk having noassatall or a massive wedge. Neither is attractive, but I guess noassatall is more comfortable.

So I fought the urge to run, the urge to flee and I tried on the size 10’s. Truth be told, I carried a number of 12’s in with me also… because well… maybe I wouldn’t fit in the 10’s and maybe a different cut of 12’s would be better. Hey, this is what it is. Its the way MY brain works. The 12’s were ALL too big, regardless of cut. The 10’s all fit, although one cut (the boyfriend cut) was NOT bariatric/loose skin friendly. Special thanks to those jeans for letting me know that I also have loose skin on my ass cheeks. Thanks for that!

So here I am wondering out loud… WHERE does one set their goals? REALLY? A BMI chart doesn’t tell you what size jeans you should be wearing. A tag in your jeans doesn’t tell you what weight you should be. So, what happens when your brain tells you that a size ten should LOOK 20lbs LOWER on the scale than it actually does? If I were to get to where the blasted BMI calculator tells me I *could/should/wish-to* be then what would the tag of my jeans read? 4? 2? 0? SERIOUSLY? Its ridiculous, isn’t it? I mean honestly… am I REALLY wasting my time wondering about this crap? BUT the answer is

I AM damn it! I fully ADMIT that a year ago, I would have been giddy to get my fat ass into a size 16, let alone a 14… 12 and a 10 was UNIMAGINABLE! SERIOUSLY! I KNOW! A ten! BUT.. BUT BUT BUTT….. I don’t feel like I LOOK like a TEN… most of the time anyway. And if you took away the camera and the mirror and simply gave me the scale… NO WAY IN HELL would the number on the scale translate into a size ten to me. NOPE, nay never!

So, while I don’t see myself as I ten USUALLY, I do take a LOT of pictures and there is a reason for that! When I was fat, I looked in the mirror and didn’t see myself as obese and as miserable as the camera saw me. I would get up, get dressed, check myself out in the mirror and say “Self, you look pretty damn cute for a big chick”. Then a week or two later I would see a photo of myself from that day and  much to my horror… there would be no trace of the cute big chick, simply frumpy cranky momma. AND NOW… well NOW… I look in the mirror and I don’t SEE thin, not fat, normal. I SEE loose skin, big girl. I don’t necessarily see obese. But I do see big. SO, I take pictures, because again… the photographs see more than what the mirror shows. The camera captures what the scale doesn’t give me, what the mirror hides, what the brain denies. The camera gives it to me straight. Be it tired, sloppy, or NOT FAT! The camera gives it to me for real. So yes folks, there are lots of pictures and there will be lots more. If I take a picture and I see fat, despite what the scale or the jeans say… the photos will keep me honest with myself.

The question, however, still remains. WHAT DETERMINES the beginning of maintenance and the end of loss? The number on the scale? The number on the jeans? The stupid freaking BMI chart? The photograph? Will there ever be a point where I will be satisfied? Will I ever it ever be ENOUGH? I just got into a size 10 and already I’m thinking about a size 8. HELLO BRAIN FUCKED! My constant friend. SIGH.

Embracing the Taboo.. BBGC

Two days ago I received a package in the mail. I wasn’t expecting anything, however, my memory is not the sharpest these days. I opened it up and let out a very loud “OH YAY!” which captured the attention of the whole family. Momma likes packages. Momma especially likes packages that she has forgotten she would be receiving, and when that package contains my latest Bariatric Bad Girls Club tee shirt, momma is down right gleeful!

My proud display of my “badness” got me thinking about my friends and a recent interaction I had with my neurologist.

I went to the neuro because of the migraines and the clumsiness. The neuro suggested ordered that I quit caffeine. My jaw may have hit the floor. There was a very distinct four year old type tantrum that followed. “No Caffeine? What? No REALLY? You’re trying to kill me? Why do you hate me?“. The neuro sat looking at me with a big ass grin on his face, asked if I was done yet and I said NO! “Look, this is not funny. Did my husband put you up to this? Am I being punked? DO YOU REALIZE THAT COFFEE IS MY TRANSFER ADDICTION?!?!!!!”

Now it was time for the neurologist’s jaw to hit the floor. Wide eyed he looked at me and said, quite seriously “You are the FIRST bariatric patient that I have had, that admits there are transfer addictions. While they know it, admitting it openly is very taboo. They do not like the suggestion that food could be an addiction and that its not all genetics that lands them in the obese category”

I explained that my obesity was certainly not genetic, and while before surgery you would have found me very much anti food is an addiction, I am now of the mind set that the habit is the addiction. When I am unhappy, angry, sad, feeling anxious I want to shove something down my throat. I want my taste buds to send happy little bits of dopamine to my brain to push the ugly out and give me a moment of bliss not so ugly. After my surgery, shoving food in my face would give me a moment of “not so ugly” right before the pain from pushing too much food in gave me a “God please don’t let me die”. So, to replace the motion of eating, I began the motion drinking. My hands are occupied with a nice, heavy, warm mug. My mouth is filled with tasty warm goodness. It hits my belly and it doesn’t hurt. Its warm and comforting. Then… the dopamine kicks in with a little help from the caffeine. WIN WIN… right?

I explained to my neurologist that some of the very best people I have met in my life are bariatric patients that do not play a role in the stepford bariatric community. We embrace the taboo. Shit happens. Its not all rainbows and unicorns. The faster you accept that your behaviors landed your ass on an operating table the quicker you will find your way to support, knowledge and answers to some of your issues. Coping isn’t always pretty, but it doesn’t have to be judgmental either. Any “life coach” who suggests that they can guide your through your weight loss journey with grace is full of crap. There are issues that follow this procedure. You are learning to live again, new, differently and change hurts! Change gets resistance from us. Our habits, our brains demand keeping to routine. Retraining your brain is not easy, it is not pretty and it is certainly not something that will ever be graceful.

If there was grace in finding your way through life changing events, reality TV would not be successful.

So, back to the Bariatric Bad Girls Club. Support with a solid dose of reality. We celebrate victories, we do not judge when you stumble, we admit our failures, and find support in picking ourselves up. We are not bad at all. We are real. And because the bariatric community is so filled with “TABOO” our reality makes us appear to be “bad”. We take our vitamins, we eat properly, we admit that indulgences happen and are OKAY (from time to time, not every day)! We are not robots, we do not hide the truth, we do not try to sell you products, we openly discuss medical issues that may be a result of our surgery. We discuss the frustrations. We tell newbies that you will lose weight, you will gain loose skin, you will not be a bikini model and most of all surgery doesn’t suddenly fix the universe. Some people take offense to that view. Some people prefer a less in your face approach to support, and thats okay too. Find it. But know this. The BBGC is a strong community. We embrace Taboo, we speak truth, we offer support, we admit to cross addictions, we do not claim to be perfect or graceful. We do kick ass! We are not bad because we eat poorly, or drink with straws (many of us do drink with straws, we have not died), we are bad because our balls to the wall approach on honesty has been tisk tisked by many.

I love my BBGC tee shirt. I love my BBGC support, and I am honored to call so many of those men and women close personal friends. With in that group of “bad” I have found all kinds of beautiful and I have found so many hands willing to reach out and help me through some of the most ungraceful moments of my post op life.

The end of a week of SLACKING!

 

If there is a book about how to be a good wife, a motivated mother, Susie freaking sunshine… I may need to read it. Because frankly, this past week… I have not been any of the above!

"Slacker mom reality" Hi this is totally what my house has resembled this week, and that is the exact position I have had on the couch!

 

 
So much so, that I didn’t even take Ruby out for our hike this weekend. She was very content to slack with me though.

belly up, hanging off of my lap.

 

So, once again, I fess up to bad behavior. And once again, I tell myself that tomorrow is a new day. I will get up, I will move, I will not make excuses.

Tomorrow is nearly here, so I had better get some sleep. I will be accountable this week. I will check in with those who keep me on my feet, I will look at myself in the mirror, face the reality and buck up!

This past week has been chock full o’ drama! What drama you ask? Hubby with no work because things are slow, kid with scarlet fever… which, for the record is not the plague or a death sentence, a lightning bolt smacking into my air conditioner unit, children up all night because of said bolt, which my husband didn’t believe actually hit anything, A/C unit going electrically defunked, seizing up and the upstairs soaring to a high in the mid 80’s (I have a child who doesn’t sweat, this is very bad.), hot flashes, spousal arguments, and the saving grace of a friend who owns North and South Mechanical… who rigged the unit for the time being. I got to claim my very first home owners insurance claim, and now we wait to see what happens next. There has been a lot of time spent with book in hand, head in pillow, and fingers in ears. I saw my doctor and got diagnosed with migraines, ended a week long migraine, and still found 100 excuses to not do a damn thing! It ends tonight.

Tomorrow… yep…. that’s when I will put my best foot forward.

Tonight I’m going to bed, thankful that my house didn’t burn down, none of my children were hospital bound, heat stroke didn’t happen, my dog loves me no matter what, my husband loves me despite it all, only ONE of my children spewed out “I HATE YOU”, and maybe, just maybe I can still make it to NY by next weekend.

Migraines… they’re what I’ve got.

After a week of seriously screwy brain pain, my husband urged me to get my ass into the doctor. Knowing that I have seen her about headaches in the past, and her suggesting I see a neurologist…. I made an appointment with a neuro first, then went to see her.

“Tell me about your symptoms….” she said. I rattled off… dizziness, light sensitivity, nausea, insane head pain, worse when I bend down. Did I mention that I’m on day six of this? Oh, yeah, and uh.. I passed out in the shower once and I keep falling because my balance sucks. When the pain lets up and is more tolerable, there is ridiculous ringing in my ears, and on occasion, when I walk outside, I get spots in my vision.

Now, I admit, when writing it all out and admitting it out loud… I was an idiot to not go to the doctor before. My doctor, God love her for dealing with my entire family as often as she does, was unamused at best.

I am scheduled for an MRI next week. The week after I see the neurologist. My doctor gave me a beautiful gift in the form of a prescription for Imitrex and I took it at bed last night. I was afraid to sit upright this morning, for fear that the heavy head sensation would greet me as it has every morning for the past week, but alas, I sat up and my head didn’t feel like a bowling ball encased in skull. HOORAY!

 

 

This past week I have been a slug. I mean, really, beyond doing the hike on Saturday with the hubby and Ruby, which was pretty low key, low impact, slow moving…. I have NOT done a whole lot of moving. I have been quite content hanging low at home. A few days I didn’t get out of my PJ’s.  My husband made remarks about “who is that woman? Is my old wife back? My new wife wouldn’t be caught dead with PJ’s on and no make up. Are you OKAY?” Uh, yeah… not so okay, but still not excuse enough to slip back to old ways.

  I see how easy it is to fall back into habits. Its much easier to get out of bed and transplant myself from bed to sofa. Head in a pillow, letting the kids run a muck. Its easy to ignore the things that need to be done around here, especially when I know my husband will pick up my slack with out saying a word. Its easy to say “it’s too hot outside to go out” and its too easy to say “my head is killing me and so I won’t move because I don’t feel like it.” Even when the headache was a dull roar with ringing ears, I just laid around. BLAHH!

So today I hold myself accountable for the past week of excuses, and now that the pain in the brain is gone I have NO excuses. I’m going to get the kids out and pick some blackberries, then I’m going to catch up on housework. When the man comes home, I will see where the exercise will happen, dependent upon time, heat index, and weather I will either be down by the lake or up on the elliptical. Today the excuses end.

 

Confessions of a bariatric foodie

First off, let me point out my blog roll and the fact that there is a WHOLE blog dedicated to being a bariatric foodie. So yeah… stealing an idea here, but simply because I am inspired and frankly, I’m a self declared foodie.

I come from a family of foodies. My family has some of its very best moments in the kitchen, creating meals for each other. My dad, my sisters, my brothers, my husband, and even me… we’re all quite adveturous, and we all have amazing palates. My husband of course is beyond a foodie. He is a chef, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. His skills have been put to good use through the years, my family has no problem using him to their full advantage.

Having had weight loss surgery did not alter my taste buds. It has altered the amount of food I can consume, it has even made me apathetic toward food on occasion, but my love of new things and my palate has not changed!

On Saturday we went over to Whole Foods and we stumbled upon a tasting of peach infused balsamic vinegar. They served it over watermelon, with a bit of fresh basil. They had me at “fresh basil” so I went ahead and gave it a try. OH MY, holy peach loveliness! I am not a peach fan. Nope, just not. But this… the heavens open, a choir sang, and my brain immediately went to the endless possibilities that this product could create.

We had friends coming over for dinner, and Saturday night friends + dinner is usually finger foods. Delicious divine finger foods, made with love!

Our favorite stand by is the grilled Angus rib-eye with caramelized onions and horseradish sauce, served on a garlic Parmesan crustini. YUM!

20110704-045933.jpg
Then, Kevin made an amazing chicken salad with fresh grapes, pecans, and of course the peach infused balsamic vinegar. It was amazing! Sadly, there is no awesome way to capture chicken salad. Its just sort of ugly, but here it is anyway:

Chicken salad

Finally tonight, the 4th of July, we wanted simple and delicious. There is nothing as wonderful as Caprisi Salad. NOTHING! Some fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella cheese and a drizzle of some reduced peach balsamic vinegar:

And while confessing about the glorious things we created this weekend, here is a photo of the mocha chocolate chip cake I made for our friend’s 4th of July party, it was a hit:

20110704-052644.jpg

 

Behaviors, Flaws, Cross Addictions R US

We have all read the facts, we have lurked the forums, we have listened to stories friends have endured. Cross addictions happen after WLS. Can’t stuff the face with food to drown  sorrow, so drink to numb the pain. Can’t eat when stressed, so  shop to make yourself feel better. Have a new body, sudden attention, and suddenly sex fills a void you never knew you had. Right? Shopping,  Drinking,  Inappropriate sexual behavior. Its out there, its discussed, its hard to come to terms with, and difficult to understand what makes us tick.

I think there are more cross addictions or behaviors than those that are commonly pointed out.  Personally I think we all deal with behavioral issues post WLS that were probably lurking under the surface pre-op. I don’t think that we were all addicted to food, but we did have behaviors that landed us in fat camp.  Now that we are post op, there are behaviors running rampant, and because they don’t make many people raise an eyebrow, we don’t pay much attention to it, or ask ourselves why.

Some people never really had a social life. As obese children, grown into obese adults, very many of our peers were wall flowers. As the pounds shed, the “normal” sized person is not only seen, but is glorified for all that they have lost. Showered with compliments “You look amazing!” “You are incredible!”, the wall flower begins to peel off the wall and is willing to throw caution to the wind. Suddenly the social butterfly, they may measure their value in the praise of others rather than for the incredible job they have done themselves. Despite all of the positive responses from friends and family, its still difficult to love themselves, unless of course, other people are telling them they are worthy. This is a COMMON behavior.

Other people shed the pounds, and suddenly find themselves surrounded by friends who are unsatisfied with parts of their life. The constant flow of discontent that they hear from their peers weighs heavy on them, and they become sympathetic and hopeful that they may be able to breathe some positivity into those friends who struggle. The savior complex is born. Poor savior is going to be emotionally drained by their friends. We are all broken and flawed. The person who hopes to save the others, has not yet begun to save themselves. This is just another behavior seen through out.

Fallen angel, first we must save ourselves.

It has been said time and again that WLS may fix your gut, but it doesn’t fix your brain. What we don’t really prepare for is all the issues losing weight reveals with in us. We had ideas that losing weight and being “normal” would suddenly fix everything. While it may fix physical health issues, and it may boost self esteem, it also reveals years and years worth of insecurities that we didn’t even know we had. What do we do to deal, when we have never had to cope with them before? What happens when our new behavior affects other people, and with out knowing it, we leave a trail of  hurt behind us?

WLS should come with a mandatory year of therapy. Really it should. And although we all seem to admit that the post op journey is a roller coaster, that we are learning more about ourselves every day, that we don’t know how to cope well with, uh.. anything… the majority of us, myself  included, do not seek therapy.

Personally, I know I SHOULD find a therapist.  I know that while my support system is phenomenal, they can not give me the tools I need to cope, nor should they be expected to. But, I struggle with the ability willingness to open up to somebody who has not lived the life. Who has not walked the path. How can somebody help me, if they have no idea of the mind blowing reality that losing 140lbs in 10 months can be. THEN… if I DID find a therapist who was a bariatric patient… would I believe that they could be objective enough, did they deal with all of their own crap?

Oh post op life, you really are a great big conundrum.

I am flawed. My friends, my support love me despite my flaws. I adore and love my friends despite their flaws. But boy oh boy, we are quite the community of flawed, scared, screwy folks. Don’t worry, come on, bring your flaws, you will be loved anyway.

When fat girls get skinny

I have been sitting at my computer, participating in, and lurking about the bariatiric communities. I am about to enter their world. I’m taking it all in.

What I am seeing however, more than anything else, is this clamoring for the just out of reach jump into popularity. They have lost the weight, and with it, the mean has come out. They will cut down, chew out, and passive aggressively push *their* surgery, *their* diet habits, and *their self righteousness right down each others throats.  The groups of the bariatric world are very much like the cliques of high school or those of parenting.

There are the leaders, those who have taken what they know and put it out there for the world to see. They have built themselves either upon honesty and a desire to share their knowledge, on creativity and the willingness to share their personal kitchen success, or on their ideals and their businesses. None of these are wrong or mean or entirely clique like. But those who fall into place… the loyal followers, well thats where the drama begins.

There are former fat chicks who actually HATE fat people. They have little tolerance for somebody who may be just starting out and struggling through their 6 week post op diet. Some are thin, and have become the cheerleaders of the groups with their ideas on how to train  your brain to enjoy the shakes you must force down each day. Others guard their territory like junk yard dogs, questioning why somebody who thinks differently than they do, would possibly want to be part of THEIR coveted community. Of course we always have the girls who have always been, and always will be the funny girls. They can sway in and out of any group at any time unnoticed and usually unscathed. It seems as though the moment one person takes a lead position, they become instant targets for the insane insecurities of the fat girl oppressed.

Beyond the perimeters of this community are those who have been through it all and back again, those who have successfully hit their goals and have maintained with out effort, those who struggle daily, and those who are born new into the society. Thousands upon thousands of people, who are out there trying to enjoy what is in front of them. The roads traveled, the roads visited by others. So many who go along day by day, connecting, enjoying, learning with out hostility. Sadly some of them are the fodder for the queens to chew up and spit out.

It seems to me, that no matter where you are in life, those mean girls manage creep up when least expected.