Building a Bonfire

Normally I would pontificate on how long it’s been since I updated this blog, but I wrote this entry mostly for me.  I’m only posting it publicly because sometimes I need to tell other people about things in order to keep them real in my head–it’s like one of those micro-aggressions you do against an abuser (in this case, my compulsive eating habits) to keep your resistance against them active.  So the format of this entry is a bit different.

Though for reference: The last time I weighed myself, I was in the neighborhood of 270 pounds.

My why:

  • I’m frustrated by never having any energy
  • I dislike how cumbersome my body is to move around right now
  • Practically none of my clothing fits and I both miss it and can’t afford to replace it
  • I miss feeling attractive

Challenges:

  • It is very emotionally taxing for me to control what I eat. In order to do so, my life basically has to revolve around what I eat.  I need to focus on making good choices and curtailing my self-destructive impulses.  I need to be diligent about measuring, portioning, timing, and counting calories.  I expect this will take some measure of time away from each workday, and given that my focus on most days is on productivity, it can be very stressful to shift that focus to anything else–this includes things like self-care and even housework.
  • I need the people around me to be supportive of my efforts to eat better, most specifically my two boyfriends, who are the two people I see the most during each week.
  • I worry that my finances might bar me from being able to make good food choices for one of two reasons:
    1. The food that meets my dietary criteria will be too expensive; or
    2. I won’t be able to afford a variety of foods that meet my dietary criteria, and will quickly become burned out eating the same things all the time and slip back into unhealthy eating habits because unhealthier things are less expensive and therefore easier to acquire in a wider variety
  • Eating away from my residence, whether at a restaurant or at someone else’s house, will become either exceptionally tricky or outright impossible. This has a host of implications.
  • Changing things that have become staples of my diet could be tricky.
  • I’m likely to be hungry a lot when I begin to alter my eating habits, which is going to make it more difficult to stick to the new habits. Even mild physical hunger can make it difficult for me to focus, can make me feel depressed or irritable, or even make me feel queasy.
  • The ever-present sweet tooth is still there.
  • My depression and anxiety are, in general, mollified by comfort food, and as these personality disorders are ever-present factors in my life, living without my time-old form of self-comfort can be very tricky. I actually theorize that it was a significant contributor to my nervous breakdown in 2014.

Dietary criteria and goals:

  • Eat once every 3 to 4 hours
  • Eat 6 to 8 ounces of food per meal
  • Eat 15 to 20 grams of protein per meal
  • Do not eliminate carbs, but eat them sparingly
  • Fat is fine, your brain needs it to function
  • Do not drink right before, during, or right after eating—but consume at least 30 ounces of plain water per day
  • Eat between 1150 to 1300 calories a day
  • Track meal portions, calories, protein, and carbs every time I eat
  • Weigh-in only once per month, not once per week as I used to

I am still on the fence as to whether or not allowing myself one “cheat day” each week would be mentally and emotionally beneficial, or do more harm than good.  On the one hand, it would allow me to relax the mental and emotional “muscles” that I keep clenched when I expend the sort of energy required for me to engage in better eating habits.  But on the other, I fear that even one day off from those habits might make it easier for me to slip back into the bad habits.

I have a lot of complex emotional baggage when it comes to food.  Slogging through it can be downright impossible sometimes.  It’s easy to just give up control and succumb to the addition.

But I’m tired of feeling hopeless and helpless.  The inner fire that ignited after I had bariatric surgery, when I began losing weight and feeling better, might have gone out.  But my old weight loss motivations are still striking sparks inside my heart, and I think I’m beginning to once again source scraps of tinder within my will.  Even as I’m terrified that I’ll fail again, I pull from other sources within myself my general attitude of, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” and find that I am meekly, cautiously willing to try again to build a bonfire.

But baby steps.  I need to remind myself that it’s ok to go slowly.  It’s ok to make mistakes.  It’s ok to not be perfect.  And that no, this will not be fun.  It’s going to suck ass.  But I’ll dangle my whys in front of my psyche like candy and see if that helps.

So, first goal: Lose 10 pounds by January 1st 2018.

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Status Update #16…Sort Of

My last check-in was actually a couple of weeks ago now. I’ve been meaning to sit down and write the usual blog update about it, but instead, I’ve been lax in doing so. Now, where to start.

Firstly, my weight is, according to my doctor’s scale, a little over 190 pounds again. According to my scale at home, it’s still a couple of pounds under. I tend to feel that my at-home weigh-ins are more accurate, as they are done without the weight added by breakfast and clothing, but the metrics from my surgeon’s office scale are what I’ve been reporting in all of these status updates.

With regards to the last couple of weeks…

I used to wish for a nervous breakdown. It seemed like it would be a cathartic release rather than a quagmire of emotion with no definitive beginning and an even more poorly defined termination point. Now that I’ve actually had one…I think I could really have done without.

No, this isn’t a recent thing. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, actually, and realized that the point at which I was in October, right before I started my anti-anxiety medication, probably qualifies as a bona fide nervous breakdown. I couldn’t sleep. I was doing a lot of stress eating. I couldn’t think about housework or my own music without wanting to run and hide in a corner and just cry and cry and cry. Social interactions frazzled me. Being alone left me feeling anxious and depressed. I was a raw nerve, and effectively useless. I have no idea how I managed to finish out the end of my band’s tour, to be honest.

So…yeah. That happened.

By contrast, I’m much better now. I still feel like I have a long way to go, but at least I’m not as bad as I was.

I’ve started therapy. I’ve had only a handful of sessions thus far, so my therapist and I are still getting to know each other a bit. But I’m hoping it will help.

Otherwise, I invite you to read these two articles to get a glimpse of the muck that’s swirling around in my head right now. I find it difficult to be even half this elegant about my own experiences, but these articles are pretty close to some of what I’ve been going through.

11 Habits of People With Concealed Depression

9 things I wish people understood about anxiety

Determining it’s Time for an Adjustment

Everyone’s body is different. Some people have ridiculously high metabolisms—they can eat well over the suggested 2,000 calorie daily limit and not gain an ounce. Some people do just fine with that 2,000 daily limit. With that number and a reasonable amount of physical activity, they maintain a healthy weight and/or comfortable weight for their body type and personal preferences.

Then there’s me. When I eat around 2,000 calories a day, I gain weight. My body doesn’t seem to want to lose weight until I’m eating around 1,200 calories a day. Before surgery, there was no way in hell I could have eaten that little every day. Eating disorder aside, I would have been too physically hungry to maintain those portion sizes.

In the last few months, I’ve had between 1,700 and 2,200 calories a day, on average, give or take. And now I’m back over 180 pounds. Some of my clothes are beginning to fit poorly. I’ve noticed that going up stairs and just general movement is becoming less comfortable or me, and more awkward. As my husband said the other day, I was walking in a straight line, there just happened to be a wall in the way of the route of that straight line…

So I need to begin eating smaller portion sizes in order to return to a weight that is more comfortable to me. But I know from tracking my intake that I can’t currently eat portions that small. I’m just too physically hungry for that. Which means it’s time for another adjustment.

As my surgeon says, the Band is a tool. This sort of situation is what it’s there for.

Though that being said, I was dreading when I might have to do this again. It takes about a week for me to be back to eating solid food again after every adjustment, and I get a little twitchy from the hunger in the meantime. And there’s only so much Ensure a person can drink…

I know that it will be worth it in the long run. It’s just the short-term discomfort that I’m not looking forward to.

My body seems to go in this cycle. I’ll have an adjustment and deal with the hunger while my stomach calms down. Then there will be a period during which it’s still not too sure about a lot of things and I have to be really careful. Then my stomach gets used to this idea again, and I become able to eat more than it feels like I should be able to.

I’m in that latter most phase right now. And as usually happens during this phase, I’ve put on some weight.

My next visit to my surgeon’s office is in mid-January. I’ll ask about getting an adjustment and, as always, post an update on how it goes.

Putting Things in Perspective

So by now anyone reading should know that I have some issues with willpower when it comes to food. …normally that sentence would contain at least one link to a relevant blog entry, but there were so many to reference that I just left it out. But really, if you’ve read even one of my last few entries, you should be up to speed on that aspect of my personality.

The reason why, in this particular entry, that information is pertinent, is because this summer has been…decently terrible as far as my willpower is concerned. My weight is still below 170 pounds, thankfully, but I was so close to 160 at one point. Yes, it’s only a difference of about ten pounds. But my body shows even five pounds gained or lost. The joys of my individual body type.

I hate to say this but, well…I’ve been feeling fat. I find myself back in that cycle of wanting junk foods and eating them while in some weird state of denial that surely I’ll be fine later, and then feeling like a failure and all-around horrible human being after the denial and endorphin high wear off. To say that I didn’t miss this would be putting it mildly at best.

I guess as far as my weight is concerned, I’ve been doing somewhat well thus far, all things considered. But this 160-170 pound neighborhood in which I currently find myself is becoming my new baseline, and thus, putting on even a few pounds because of poor eating habits makes me feel pretty bad about myself. I’m trying to get my eating habits back on track, but it’s not easy.

So I’ve been trying to keep in mind these photos:

Status Update #9

From Status Update #9.

The photo on the right was taken when I weighed only about two more pounds than I currently do. I know there is a remarkable difference between the photo on the left, taken before surgery, and the right hand photo. It’s an amazing record of how far I’ve really come. So as I’ve been hating myself for gaining five pounds, I’ve been trying to put things into perspective. I’m not sure it’s helping, honestly.

And I’ve been trying to keep in mind how much better I feel in the long-term when I don’t give into temptation and when my weight is around the 160 mark. That’s unfortunately pretty difficult when my brain is screaming at me for short-term gratification.

I think one thing that’s been weighing on my mind a lot lately and adding to this overall feeling of “fat” is my stomach. The loose skin is really starting to bother me, and there’s no way to do anything about it without further surgery. Which I can’t afford. …I’ve never wanted to crowdfund something in my entire life, but no way in hell is that happening.

My food and body issues have been weighing on my mind a lot lately. Enough so, in fact, that I finally looked into psychiatric help for dealing with them. But my insurance will only cover 80% of the bill after I have paid my yearly deductible (which I haven’t yet), and before that, naturally, it would be entirely out of pocket. While 80% is a nice high number, the remaining 20% is beyond my means. Not to mention the 100% I would need to pay out of pocket before my deductible was paid off.

So I’m feeling a little stuck in a couple of different ways. I hate being aware of a problem but lacking the ability to do anything to fix it.

About the only positive body-related thing I have to report today is that my hair seems to finally be making a comeback. Hair fall is a natural part of a weight loss surgery patient’s post-op life, and over the course of the last year and a half, my hair has thinned by a noticeable amount. Even the strands themselves seemed less thick than they had been prior to surgery. But I’ve noticed recently that my hair is feeling and looking thicker and fuller again. I was beginning to worry that would never happen, so it makes me very happy that that doesn’t seem to be the case.

…though that happiness is somewhat tempered by my current dismal feelings concerning the rest of my body. Before I had surgery, I typically felt that my only genuinely attractive feature was my hair. My brain seems to be trying to wriggle itself back into that old, familiar mindset. And I’m trying to prevent it from going there. We’ll see how successful I manage to be.

In the meantime, I think I could use a boost. What positive things are going on in your lives that you might be willing to share, readers?

Status Update #12

Greetings, gentle readers! It’s been around two months since my last Status Update, and boy do I have some things to share. So settle back and prepare for lots of words coming at your face.

First off, as always, the usual progress report.

Weight on day of surgery: 239.2 lbs
Weight last month: 166.4 lbs
Weight today: 164.6
Total lost: 74.6

Woo! I got my 75 Pounds Lost pin today from my surgeon. By their measurements I’m still .4 pounds away from truly hitting the 75 mark, but sheesh. Close enough. Besides which, my scale told me I was 162 this morning, so I think it works either way.

75 pounds lost

*achievement unlocked*

I am, as you may surmise, rather pleased with myself and my progress. I know I’ve said in the past that my goal was to get down to 130 pounds, but honestly? I’m pretty happy in the 160 – 165 range. I feel comfortable, I feel attractive, I don’t feel inordinately fatigued upon exertion, life is good. The only thing I’m actively unhappy about these days is the loose skin around my midsection that’s giving me some tummy rolls. Sadly, those aren’t likely to go away without some surgery, and that’s not in my budget (to put it mildly). But overall I’m very happy with the results of this crazy thing I did to myself a year ago February, which is an awesome thing to be able to say.

I’m a little surprised that I’ve reached this latest milestone, though, because May was not the greatest month on record. It’s not every menses that makes me want to eat all the chocolate in the world, but last month’s did, and for up to a week on either end of my cycle to boot. Hooray ladybits?

I’ve also been experiencing some difficulty with anxiety management, which is a thing I frequently struggle with, and a very large trigger for bad eating habits. But I’ve been trying, and that really is an important thing. It’s so tempting to just give up and/or in for at least a little while, but dancing on that particular slippery slope is a Bad Idea.

So there’s one milestone! And this is my 80th post on this blog. Another milestone! The next milestone involves my wedding bands.

I took them to the jeweler today, because I have finally determined that it’s time to get them re-sized. I’m not expecting to lose much more weight, and certainly not enough from my fingers for it to make much of a difference. And dammit, I miss those rings. It’s been almost a year since I’ve been able to wear them.

But there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that my wedding band, which is a simple ring with no settings, can be re-sized very easily. The jeweler is even doing it free of charge, since we bought it from them.

But the bad news is that my engagement ring cannot be resized due to the nature of the setting and the drastic change in sizes.

My engagement ring

This is what it looks like, for those unfamiliar. And it’s garnet and black spinel, in case you’re wondering. (Can you tell I get asked that a lot?)

The ring is currently a size seven. My finger is down to a size five. So it’s likely that resizing it will cause the side stones to pop out pretty frequently.

I wasn’t surprised by this news. I was actually expecting this to happen. So while it’s unfortunate, at least I wasn’t completely blindsided by it.

The jeweler does have the capacity to do custom work, so they could completely remake the ring…but we can’t afford that. So at this point, I’m not sure what’s going to happen as far as this ring is concerned. I will at least be able to wear the super-important wedding band again, but the husband and I will have to discuss what we want to do about the engagement ring.

The last thing I wanted to add to this entry is something about which I am giddily excited. I have always loved corsets. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 2006 or 2007, I learned how to make them myself. And I don’t mean those flimsy things you can buy in the mall—I mean sturdy, steel-boned, tightlaced, real corsets that create waist reduction and wide expanses of glorious, erm, tracts of land. But I had to stop wearing them even prior to surgery because of my hernia. And then after surgery I figured that I wouldn’t be able to wear them again because, well, I have a physical object wrapped around one of my internal organs.

But I asked my surgeon about it today. Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t have much experience with the combination of LAP-Bands and corsetry, but he said I could go ahead and try it. Carefully. And if it’s comfortable, then I can continue to wear corsets. Carefully. If it isn’t comfortable, well, at least I’ll have tried. I can’t tell you how much I miss them.

Obviously none of the corsets I made for myself back in the day will fit me anymore, so I’ll have to wait until my next convention before I can try one on. But that’s not going to be too long of a wait. I intend to go armed with my measurements and find a corset vendor (thank the gods for Steampunk being a Thing these days—there’s almost always at least one corset vendor at any given con with a dealer’s room) and try a corset on. And then…we’ll see. And I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Because if it’s comfortable to try on and hang out in for a few minutes, then I get to start making my own corsets again.

And I cannot wait to see what this new body looks like in a corset. I was frequently assured that the old one was a sight to behold, and I like this one better, so I’m excited. I’ll post an update and possibly a photo or two (if the vendor will allow) once this happens.

For now, off I disappear into the mists of the Internet again until I have something more to say. Thanks for reading!

Status Update #12

PANTS?! What is this craziness of which you speak?

Subtle Shaming

As I’ve discussed previously, I am a big advocate of being body-positive. A friend recently shared “10 Ways We Body Shame Without Realizing It”, which I thought would be good to further disseminate here.

Whether you’ve experienced any of this and couldn’t put your finger on why it made you uncomfortable, or you were raised in an environment wherein which this type of discourse was considered normal, all of these points are good things to be aware of.

Anyone out there have anything they might want to add to this list?

Female Bodies: A Weighty Issue

I’ve been meaning to share this for a while. This relates in a MAJOR way to that whole idea of being body-positive that I’ve been going on about lately. If you haven’t seen this around the internet yet, I highly recommend giving it a read.

shattersnipe: malcontent & rainbows

Hypothesis:

We have, as a society, such a completely disordered, distorted perception of female bodies that the vast majority of people are incapable of recognising what “overweight” actually looks like on a woman, let alone “healthy”. As such, we’re now at a point where women are not only raised to hate their bodies as a matter of course, but are shown, from childhood, a wholly inaccurate picture of what they “should” look like – a narrow, nigh on impossible physical standard they are then punished, both socially and medically, for failing to attain.

I don’t say this lightly. I say it because this is the only conclusion supported by the facts.

Let’s examine the evidence, shall we?

1: BMI

Overwhelmingly, the measurement used to determine whether or not someone is a “healthy weight” is the BMI, or Body Mass Index. Most people are still taught it in schools; indeed, it’s…

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