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just say no

Trashing the fries

I battled a deep sense of sadness all day long – without ever quite realizing why. Tonight I found myself eating a milkshake, fries, chicken tenders, AND a dessert. Good lord. Halfway through the fries I thought “what am I doing?” I realized I was eating because I was sad and confused. So…I stopped. Not only do I not want a miserable stomach ache, I don’t want to live a numbed life! Once again, I find that I’m challenged to live in a mindful manner – giving attention to every ache and joy. Looking for life in them.

Today’s ache comes from realizing that I need to “let go” of my daughter to some degree (she’s only 4 soon). :) This may sound funny but I’ve been challenged lately to make sure that I’m not identifying myself solely as supermom. I don’t mean this in a feminist, down-with-mommyhood kind of way. That is where the sadness comes in. I LOVE being a stay-at-home (though working part-time) mom. I wouldn’t willingly choose anything else. I would write my own homeschool curriculums, organize co-ops, figure out how to do all kinds of handicrafts, bake my own bread, pick my own berries, and sit in the hot sun at every swim lesson I could if it meant giving my daughter the BEST, SWEETEST life possible. But that’s just it. She doesn’t need me to be quite so focused on giving her the best life ever. She doesn’t need me to get lost in mommyness. She doesn’t need me to try & be everything all of the time. She needs me to be a whole person – finding my sense of worth and contented peace as I rest in God. She needs me to be me. Loving her. Simply. Happily. Peacefully.

So, I’ve trashed the fries and half of the milkshake. Instead of numbing my ache with food, I’m looking at it – peering for a path to greater peace and sweeter family relationships.

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Obese women and Doctors: Some Encouragement

As I mentioned in my last post, obesity need not be a reason that you avoid medical attention.  That said, I know from very personal experience that it usually is a very strong reason.   Essentially, when an obese person walks in the room, her “problems” walk in with her, too – very visually, very large.  Obesity is associated with all sorts of negative connotations:  laziness, lack of self-care, gluttony, etc.  Sometimes these may be true…and sometimes they may not be.  Regardless, an obese woman walking into a room is automatically classified and often viewed derisively.  Every human has weaknesses & problems but most people can hide their weaknesses.  An obese person cannot.

So, clearly, an obese woman KNOWS she is obese.  Her shame walks with her everywhere she goes and dignity is hard to maintain.  Going to a doctor who sees all your stuff on a little chart & usually expects you to be disrobed in some manner often shreds the last remaining vestige of dignity for an obese woman.  More often than not, she also knows that she’s going to get “the talk”.  So, from the start, she walks in expecting to be unveiled, categorized, humiliated, & lectured on her biggest failures.  For an obese person, going to the doctor is a bullhorn announcement of failure and incompetence.

Sometimes you get a GREAT doctor (like my endocrinologist) – one who is helpful, thorough, & looking for roots.  Other times you get a biased doctor who doesn’t bother.  I’ll share some of my experiences with you – knowing that it may help you to realize you aren’t alone!

OBGYN.  For years we tried to have a baby.  I was referred to a specialist.  He walked into the room, took one look at me (hadn’t even weighed me yet) & told me that I would never have a baby until I had gastric bypass surgery.  He then proceeded to tell me about the great bypass support he could connect me to, etc.  I left and then cried.  And cried some more.  The thing is, though, THAT WASN’T TRUE!!  There were issues that have taken years to get to the bottom of (PCOS being one of them) but I did not need bypass surgery.  AND, I had a beautiful daughter 2 years later.  J  The message I got from that was:  Why bother.  There is no help for someone like you.  If you could just get it together then blah…blah…blah.

Random endocrinologist.  NOT my current one.  I tried this one two years ago b/c I thought something was up with my thyroid.  The lady didn’t even check me out or look at my labs before she POKED ME IN THE STOMACH & told me that my belly was my biggest problem.  She quizzed me about my family – expressing shock that my daughter & husband were not fat – and proceeded to shame me by saying things like:  “Don’t you want your husband to be proud of you?”  “Don’t you want to be beautiful?” Her parting orders were to write down every single thing I ate & to come back and see her with 20 pounds gone.  I left in tears & it took me another two years to get up the guts to see another endocrinologist.   Incidentally, the sad thing was that I did not get the treatment & help I needed.  My thyroid was enlarged & way off balance but she couldn’t see past my weight to help me get to the bottom of my issues.  I, in turn, couldn’t see past my shame to get the help I needed.

Those are just two of several negative medical experiences I have had.  I responded to them just as most obese women do – with an overwhelming sense of failure and a heavy sense of shame.  I also avoided doctors (again, just as most obese women do).  It wasn’t until I got quite sick this past year that I tried again because I had to.  This time, I did research (mostly word of mouth) & found a doctor that came highly recommended.  For the sake of my family (and myself) I had to brave the shame & show up.  The results have been wonderful.  So, if you are an obese woman who is avoiding medical attention, please read the following points:

  1.  You are not alone in this.
  2. Realize that your health matters & do research to find a doctor that will look past the surface and help you dig for roots.
  3. Don’t accept everything a medical doctor tells you.  Just because he/she is an M.D. doesn’t make him/her any less of a person with accompanying prejudices.
  4. Don’t allow shame to overwhelm the love you need to have for yourself and your family.  Take care of yourself in every way that you can.  Show some love by seeking help when you need it.  Don’t allow things like skin cancer, cervical cancer, or thyroid cancer take over your life because you were too ashamed to see a dermatologist, OBGYN, or endocrinologist!
  5. Though your weight is a problem you deal with it is NOT WHO YOU ARE!  You are special, unique, & a necessary part of our human story (let alone your family’s life).  Don’t underestimate your value.
  6. Be brave & courageous.  If you have a terrible experience, don’t give up.  Try again.
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2013: The Year of the Endocrinologist

I have been fighting battles since my last post (6 months ago).  Battles of health, battles of attitude, battles of heart, battles of discouragement.  Thanks to a VERY, VERY good endocrinologist, I feel like I am finally coming out on top!  From reading my last few posts you can tell that I was discouraged, exhausted, depressed, & gaining, gaining, gaining weight.  I went to see an endocrinologist who was very thorough &, after several months of treatment, I am seeing some changes.  In a nutshell, I found out the following things:  I had extremely high levels of testosterone (due to untreated PCOS); I was taking the wrong brand & dosage of thyroid medicine for hypothyroidism; my vitamin D was almost nonexistent; I was deficient in vitamin B-12; various hormones were out of whack (due to PCOS).  I was given prescription doses of Vitamin D & Vitamin B-12.  I was given a different brand/dose of thyroid medicine.  I was put on Metformin (2,000/day) to treat PCOS.

Now, for the first time in almost a year, I feel close to normal!!!  Woohoo!!!  I was seriously so exhausted & sick that I couldn’t do much.  I battled feeling lazy, hopeless, and seriously discouraged.  Finding out that I was medically sick was almost a relief – especially because it was all so easily treatable!  Today, 5 months after being diagnosed, I have lost 20 pounds, started having a cycle again, and have so much energy that I’m taking at least 4 walks a week (this is serious amazingness considering that I didn’t want to do anything beyond taking care of my family before).  My thyroid is still being adjusted to get to a normal level but everything else has leveled out to normal.  Now, a higher protein diet is actually working for me.

So, if you are battling extreme fatigue; not having monthly cycles; have body aches; and your diet doesn’t seem to be doing much, don’t assume that you are just hopelessly fat.  See a doctor & check these things out!  Too many obese people (women especially) avoid going to doctors.  We’ve all dealt with the professional eye rolls and the silent judgement before.  Risk it anyway.  Like me, you might actually get some help.

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A whale in the hunt…

I’ve been in a funk – a funk in which I’ve gained back every single pound that I’ve lost.  Why the funk?  I’m not sure.  I’m at this time in my life where so much is being dug up & sifted through.  Things I haven’t dealt with all of these years.  I’m in my mid-30s & I find that I’m really, really tired.  Tired from all of the striving, mainly.  Striving to be okay when I’m not okay.  I’ve often heard the expression “a dog in the hunt doesn’t know he has fleas”.  I’ve been trying to stay in the hunt for so many years – trying to focus on things beyond myself – yet I never acknowledged the fact that this dog has a broken leg.  So, now, as a 30-something year old mom, wife, teacher, etc, I’m dealing with things in my life that most people probably face when they’re 20.  I’m slowing down.  I’m not pretending anymore.  I’m trying to heal.

How does my weight fit in with all of this?  I don’t know.  A while back I had a father-figure/pastor/friend try to shock me into losing weight.  He sat me down & talked at me for 45 minutes about the danger of my weight (I really had to swallow the “no shit” comments that threatened to explode from me).  In that talking to, he told me that I am a whale.  He said that I needed to look at myself in the mirror every day & tell myself that I am a whale until it sinks in & I do something about it.  Wow.  Needless to say, that has messed me over ever since.  The funny thing was that – until that time – I had never thought those things about myself.  Now, I truly do whenever I look in the mirror.  It is a hard thing to erase.  Other things I see about losing weight talk about looking at yourself in the mirror and “embracing” who you are – telling yourself that you’re beautiful.  That, however, isn’t true in this case.  360 pounds is not beautiful.  It isn’t beautiful to have my stomach hanging down & not be able to keep up with my daughter.  So, what’s the answer?  Am I a whale?  Noooo…I don’t think so, anyway…Am I prepared to “embrace” myself in this low-health situation?  No.

I think the answer lies somewhere else.  Recently, I sat in a counseling session where we talked about the fact that I am not my body & that God isn’t fixated (or limited by) my weight…”For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).  Where that leads me isn’t to despair or acceptance of my weight.  It leads me to questions about my heart.  What does the state of my health say about what I believe?  What does it reflect about my hopes, fears, etc?  Does it reveal anything about what my heart is fixed on?  Is God at the center of me?  I’m also thinking about Psalm 139:14 – “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows  very well.”

God made me.  His works are marvelous & wonderful.  This is not something that my soul knows but I think it is something my soul can learn.  He wants the fullest life for me that I can have &, in that, He cares about my weight.  Beyond that, though, my heart is what concerns God.

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I see skinny people

It’s hard to be fat.  The health risks are obvious.  The fashion/beauty fails are obvious.  Even the problems with extended movement are obvious.  There are so many heartaches that are not obvious, though.  Like Haley Joel Osment saw “dead people”, I see skinny people – everywhere I look.  My friends are thin.  My husband is thin.  Almost everyone in every shop, restaurant, and play-date at the park is thin.  To most people this isn’t unusual.  For me, it begs a continual question…Am I really the only one who can’t seem to beat this?  My husband told me that I am being courageous.  His thinking is that most women who deal with morbid obesity probably just stay home.  That is sad but it is also so incredibly understandable.  And tempting.

When I am the only obese person around (which is the usual case), I feel a weird mix of invisibility and nakedness.  Because I’m so different (and large) I am an immediate object of attention (usually given in muttered comments and sideways looks).  Yet, I’m standing in a world that doesn’t fit me at all.  It is like I’m granted admission on sufferance – able to visit but not ever a true part of things.  I went wedding dress shopping with my size 4 sweet friend today (and a few of our other friends).  It did not escape my attention that nothing (literally…nothing) in that shop would ever fit me.  When we talked about bridesmaid dresses I cringed.  The lady at the shop said to me:  “it’ll look great on you when we order it in your size”.  I smiled politely and didn’t bother to tell her that they don’t make that dress in my size.  This store (like all of the others) is not made for me.  I don’t fit here.  In a sense it is like I don’t exist…or shouldn’t.

Yet I do exist.  And I should – because the God of the universe created me and called it good.  For me the answer is not to join the ranks of the fat acceptance movement – demanding that the world be altered for the select few of us who weigh too much.  I don’t want to accept my fat.  I want to be healthy.  300+ pounds is not healthy.  Also, I don’t want to be about fat anymore!  My answer is also not to hide in my house and eat even more cookies.  For now, my answer is to live.  To show up.  To brave the stares; to be honest about bridesmaid dresses; to swing my daughter at the park (even if we can’t swing together); to swim with my family (as the only fat person around); to ride the ferris wheel with my daughter (despite the looks of others); to make memories with my family and to be a sweet part of them; to not make my life about weight and to run to God, asking Him to show me the beauty that He created in me.  Did He intend for me to be over 300 pounds?  Clearly not.  It isn’t too big for Him to help with, though, or else what kind of God would He be?

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Mini-goal reached

It has been too long since I posted.  We were out of town for a couple of weeks & things have generally been quite harried.  I have not been eating low-carb for several weeks now – though I have been trying to be more mindful about the amount I have been eating.  The good news is that I haven’t gained any weight & I have reached my mini-goal of being under 350.  The bad news is that I’ve only lost 1.6 pounds in the last month!  Maybe that isn’t the way to look at it, though…At least its gone.  Soon I will brave the rapids of the transition to low-carb again.

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Buttercream and Jesus

Truly, I am an emotional eater.  This may come as no surprise to most of you.  How does a woman get to 350+ pounds without eating emotionally?!  The truth has really hit home to me in the last couple of weeks, however…Nothing like trying to take carbs out of your diet to make some things very obvious.  After a row with my hubby I found myself buying a 4 inch chocolate cake from a bakery in town & taking bites with my fork right out of the box.  That first bite was such a relief.  Almost orgasmic, you might say.  Maybe better than orgasmic, in fact, because it didn’t require much of me (in the immediate sense, anyway).  “Orgasmic,” you say…”who gets such pleasure from food?!”  Apparently, I do.  Along with most sugar/carb addicts (i.e. – the majority of America).

Do I like discovering this about myself?  Do I like discovering that I’m about as addicted to sugar as many people are to drugs?  No, no I don’t.  Do I like discovering that I have such little self-control when I’m feeling hurt and/or angry?  Not at all.  In my life, I really seek to live with God.  I believe in Jesus (no…really.  I do.  He’s not just alright with me as the Doobie Brothers chime).  Today, as I headed to the bakery, I realized anew how very broken I am.  How very broken our whole beautiful, messy planet is.  My faith was tested.  Still is.  Do I believe that Jesus will intervene with me?  Do I believe that he can (and will) heal me & give me joy outside of buttercream chocolate roses – that he can (and will) intervene in this whole beautiful mess we call Earth?

I’ve been reading about overcoming emotional eating.  It is all cerebral information.  It doesn’t help.  I’m praying for help from the inside out.  Meanwhile, I’ll roll back onto the low-carb track & keep trying to be mindful.  For those of you who feel like you have been helped from the inside out, do share your secrets!

Also, for others of you who may have wondered…my hubby and I did make up.  AND – I lost almost 2 pounds this past week  I’m at 350.6…SO CLOSE to my mini-goal of being under 350.  :)

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Shocking mini-goal and sugar sensitivity

I feel frustrated today.  I gained 1.4 pounds this week.  Of course, as I mentioned, I did have a birthday week splurge.  Also, (tmi) pms is happening.  I know that tomorrow morning it will look different.  Still, I CANNOT emphasize to you HOW MUCH I want to stop seeing 35_ on the scale.  I guess I wanted that birthday cake more…OR, to not beat myself up too much, I’m learning that my body is REALLY sensitive to sugar.  My splurges last week didn’t seem so extreme in light of an entire week but they were enough to completely stop weight loss.  That said, I also felt really lousy & was actually happy to go back to a low-carb diet.  I’ve been doing pretty well since then so I’m looking forward to the next weigh-in.  Maybe I’ll finally be under 350.  Wow.  I can’t believe I’ve let myself get to the point where getting under 350 is a mini-goal but…there you have it.  I’m going to try & not weigh-in until next Monday.  Maybe I’ll have a wonderful suprise waiting!

On another note, I ordered a book that I’m really looking forward to reading.  It is called “Wheat Belly” by William Davis.  Have any of you read it?  If so, what did you think of it?

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See that spot in the distance? That’s the wagon.

If you look closely, you’ll notice that I’m not on it.  I fell off.

I had a birthday this week.  On my birthday, I threw my low-carb diet to the wind & visited Starbucks.  Twice.  2 days later, my family came over & we had cake.  Full on flour, sugar, chocolate buttercream, butter-yellow cake.  It was divine – at the time.  If I had stopped there it would have been fine.  I didn’t, though.  Today I reasoned with myself that I had already blown it this week.  That became my excuse for a frozen caramel mocha & donuts.  Plural.

I’m mentally shaking myself now.  Every moment is a chance to live healthier, feel better, & choose life.  Blowing it today does not need to be my excuse for gorging on sugar and wheat tomorrow.  Besides, I don’t feel good.

In a way, that is kind of a cool revelation.  I actually don’t feel good.  I had to take a nap today (partly because I couldn’t sleep last night after eating cake & when I did, I had bad dreams…I don’t usually have bad dreams).  My body aches.  I feel groggy, moody, & bloated.  How about that?!  It is official.  Sugar and/or wheat affect me.  Negatively.  I’m actually excited to go back to my low-carb (i.e. – feel good) diet tomorrow.

How about you?  Have you had “aha” moments regarding sugar and/or wheat?  If so, do tell!

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A new language

I’m feeling encouraged today.  The kind of encouraged that says…”hey, you can do this”!  Let me just share.  I had a bacon cheeseburger today.  BACON!  CHEESE!  I took the bun off, of course, but it was filling & yummy.  I’ve never had a burger on a diet before.  Let alone a burger with bacon & cheese.

On another note, I’m finding that this way of eating takes a good deal of planning and prep (especially because I want to make sure I’m including veggies).  I think as long as I have stuff on hand, I can keep it up.  I’ve been a BIG carb eater (ah…punny…) my whole life.  I never thought about the fact that everything I snacked on was a carbohydrate.  Now, I’m having to re-learn what to eat.  I’m not just grabbing handfuls of triscuits, cookies, or making toast with nutella & banana…So, I’ve been perusing lots of blogs looking at recipes.  I’m learning that there is a whole, huge world of low-carb cooking.  Who knew?!  Almond flour, coconut flour, xantham gum, xylitol, kale chips, cauliflower rice…it is like learning a different cooking language.  I’m willing, though.  I feel so much better just in the last few days that I’ll gladly put in the time.

That said, I do wonder what my lab numbers will look like in a month & a half or so.  I’m resolved not to spend much time thinking on that right now, though.  For now, I’m losing weight, I’m not hungry all day, and I’m waking up pain-free & ready to go….while I eat bacon, cheese, and meat…

Here are some blogs that I’m finding pretty useful for recipes:

http://yourlighterside.com/

http://www.elanaspantry.com/gluten-free-recipes/

http://www.joyfulabode.com/.

Let me know if you have others you think I should look at!

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