My ex used to joke with me when we were still together. His first language is Spanish, so when he was leaving the house, instead of saying “hasta luego,” (which means “see you later”) he would say “hasta nunca.” (which means “see you never”)
Which of course eventually ended up being true.
Yesterday I was thinking about the things that come with being obese, and those are, consequently, the things I cannot wait to say goodbye to once I reach a healthy weight.
So here is the list of things, in no particular order, to which I cannot wait to say “hasta nunca!”:
Stretching out my t-shirts over my knees
The swooshing sound my thighs make when they rub together
Constantly pulling my shirt down and my pants up to mask fat rolls
Performing contortionist moves to shower
Pulling my children in front of me for photographs
Ordering an extra drink in the drive-thru so it doesn’t look like all the food I just ordered is for only me
Having an “X” or “W” after the numbers on my clothing tags
Elastic waistbanded pants
Shopping in the men’s shoe section
Heinously ugly and floral-printed clothing (apparently overweight people need to have even more attention called to themselves)
Being scared I won’t fit in stadium seating
Lying and saying that I’m scared of roller coasters
Rearranging my clothing when I sit down
Having my shoes tied on the side instead of in the middle
Avoiding aluminum lawn chairs
Hideous swimsuits with skirts
The way my arm flab keeps waving goodbye long after I have finished waving goodbye
The little red bumps on my quads
Sweating when I’m not working out
Sweating when the humidity is high
Sweating when a hot guy is talking to me
The way my gut rests on my quads when I sit down
Seatbelt extenders on airplanes
Towels that don’t wrap all the way around
Add your hasta nuncas to the comment section below!
Now that my journey is extremely public, I am having to deal with some backlash from people who don’t agree with bariatric surgery.
Most of my commenters, messagers and supporters have been so positive.
But there are a few naysayers. And again, that’s okay.
I received a message over the weekend. I have read it no less than 1 meelion times. I can’t help it. I have this obsessive need to understand why a person isn’t happy with me, and then try to fix it. This is a person I knew years ago, but haven’t spoken to since. So it isn’t a stranger.
Here is what the message said:
Angie, I saw your page in my Facebook feed. I have to admit I was really surprised that you had the weight loss surgery. Why did you change your mind? We spent so much time in the gym and you were doing great. I am just wondering why would you quit and give up when you said this was something you would never do?
And here is my response:
Oh my dear friend, I have missed talking with you. But there is something you need to understand.
Back then, I hadn’t dealt with my eating disorder. I was going to the gym and the Weight Watchers meetings, but I was still binge-eating sometimes late at night. That is why I couldn’t get my weight under 250. Binge-eating is how I chose to deal with the stressful and emotional things that were going on in my life at the time.
It has taken me years to get my head right to the point that I could recover from the eating disorder, and now I have the enormous task of unloading a 180+ pound burden from my frame.
After researching all of my options, and trying several of them, I started to lean toward having a surgical procedure called a roux-en-y gastric bypass. This is a procedure that forces the pounds off, at a rate that keeps motivation up and self-deprecating down.
One problem. I just couldn’t bring myself to actually do it.
At the beginning of the summer this year, I went on a beach vacation with my family. At the end of every day, my feet hurt so badly, all I could do was cry.
I decided before we even left the island that I was going to come home and schedule the procedure.
And I am so glad I did.
This year after much therapy, I finally came to the fork in the road, and for a change, instead of using the fork to stuff myself I used it to choose the right path for me.
I don’t know if you still struggle with your weight as I have, but I do have to wonder if you’re asking me these questions because you’re truly disappointed in my decision, or if you are considering having the procedure done yourself. I hope that you can consider that accepting surgery as a tool is not failure.
Staying obese would be failure.
Living in a broken body that can’t walk would be failure.
Enslaving myself to an eating disorder for the rest of my life would be failure.
Finding a way, accepting help, and leaving this unhealthy vessel is the ultimate victory, regardless of how that transpires.
I think it is true that we have to pick our battles. This time the battle that I picked was ME.
Today at my 6 week post-op appointment, down 36 pounds!:
Weight gain can be a surreal thing.
Watching your body betray you as it morphs into someone you no longer recognize can make you feel like you’ve been Stephen Kinged…staring into the mirror at a foreign reflection.
(What is wrong with this mirror? That isn’t me. That CAN’T be me.)
And it starts to do things to your head.
The more weight I gained, the more I lost myself. Where did Angie go? Since I couldn’t see her, maybe she really wasn’t there anymore.
I stopped wearing bright colors. I didn’t wear as many hats or nearly as much jewelry. And consequently it affected the way I felt about the person I presented to the world. In short, I stopped being sassy.
And when I stop being sassy, I stop being ME.
So yes, I did cry a little when I saw this photo of me, taken this morning.
This is how I remember Angie.
Happy, goofy, wild haired, and glowing.
Don’t give up on your dreams for yourself. And don’t let anyone else tell you how to get there.
Friday night dinner. Pan-seared bay scallops marinated in chimichurri sauce, roasted asparagus with goat cheese, and a smidge of avocado.
This was actually too much food. I could only eat one of the scallops, two of the asparagus, and about half of that piece of avocado.
But I gotta tell ya, I love making foodie type meals. And since I eat so little, I can afford to.
I paid $3.97 for a quarter-pound of bay scallops at Whole Foods. Since I could only eat one scallop, that quarter-pound will last me EIGHT meals. I also bought just over a pound of wild-caught salmon. I cut the salmon into FOURTEEN portions.
I put all the scallops and salmon portions into a gallon ziploc bag, and added my marinade. For this marinade, I went lazy. I bought a bottle of Chimichurri sauce from the Whole Foods “fish fridge,” and dumped the whole thing into the gallon Ziploc bag. Chimichurri sauce has zero sugar. And it goes great with any kind of seafood.
I let the seafood marinate for about 4 hours, then I heated a tiny bit of coconut oil over medium heat for 5 minutes, and then dropped in my 2 scallops. I seared them for 2 minutes on each side, and they were done. Scallops cook very quickly.
For the asparagus, I tossed them with a bit of melted coconut oil, about a tablespoon of shredded Danish goat cheese, and some pink sea salt and ground black pepper. I roasted the asparagus in the oven for about 10 minutes.
I think it is important to eat foodie-type meals. The few bites I eat as a bariatric patient need to be highly nutritious and very delicious. This way I will enjoy my food and savor it. I am not part of the boiled chicken and canned green beans camp.
I want to take a little extra time to make sure my food is prepared well and has excellent flavor.
The bonus to eating approximately 2 ounces of food at a time, is that now I can afford things like wild caught salmon. That piece of salmon was $26. And normally I would have eaten that at one sitting. Now that $26 piece of fish is going to last 14 meals.
So I took the rest of the marinated seafood, and put each piece in a separate Ziploc, and tossed it in the freezer.
Frozen fish that is already marinated? Yes please.
This will make dinner easy on those nights when I am too tired to cook. I’ll just toss a little piece of salmon into the steamer or onto the grill, and I’m golden.
What ideas do you have to simplify bariatric eating? What money-saving ideas do you have?
I just put my piggies on the floor…and guess what?
No aching joints. No shooting nerve pain. No wincing.
Starting my day off with no foot pain brings a different kind of tears to my eyes.
Tears of joy. And relief.
I walked 3 times yesterday. Over 6,000 steps. Just short of 3 miles.
Just over a month ago it hurt to walk 3 steps.
Those of you who are struggling with obesity, lost in pain or an eating disorder, and suffering in silence, I’m gonna need you to listen up.
Tune out the naysayers. Follow your path. The one YOU choose for yourself. Your journey doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s.
Stop beating yourself up and accept the help that is available to you. And if you need guidance, just ask me. There are resources available to you.
You don’t have to spend the rest of your life binge eating and living in an unhealthy body.
There are options.
It’s going to be hard. But I have to believe that it’s going to be worth it.
Never give up.
I have to tell you that a month ago I was about as hopeless as they come. My body hurt all the time. I felt hungry constantly. I was so hard on myself that I had already decided that even weight loss surgery wouldn’t work for me.
This is ludicrous thinking, because I work in a bariatric center so I see how much this procedure helps people…every single day.
But when your mind is sick, that’s what happens.
You can tell yourself lies that no one else would ever believe.
As of today, I’ve lost 33 pounds.
When a month ago I doubted that I could even lose weight anymore.
There is hope.
Reach out and take it.
People will always be talking.
They run their mouths when you’re struggling with obesity. They run their mouths when you’re going to the gym. They run their mouths when you reach your goal weight and feel good about yourself.
That much is never, ever going to change.
So just decide right now that their opinions and ideas are really none of your concern.
Make your choice. If you know you need therapy for binge eating, seek it. If you know you need to walk more and you can physically do it, go on. Do it. You don’t need to go to the gym or lift weights. Just move your butt, if you can. If you know in your heart that you’re interested in bariatric surgery, research it. Go to a free informational seminar. There is no commitment. Just go and listen. Find out the options that are available to you. The more you know, the more informed you are, the decisions you make will be that much better.
Stop basing your decisions and your self worth on other people’s ideas and opinions. You’ve likely done it your whole life. It’s time to stop and do what is best for you. Make the choice that is going to help you live your best life.
Let me tell you what my life was like no so long ago.
I would wake up at 4am, my mind reeling and my body aching. The stress of the day ahead would start to seep in, as I wondered how I was going to accomplish the laundry list of tasks I had to do, while suffering from the ever increasing pain in my feet and legs.
I had fractured my feet 3 times over 3 years. My attempts at Weight Watchers had yielded tiny results.
I was trying to exercise. But it was causing me so much pain, I couldn’t bear it.
So I would sit. Which made me sad. And what do I do when I’m sad?
Mmmm hmmm, that’s right.
I would eat comfort foods.
And then sit some more.
All day at work. All evening at home. Most nights I was passed out in a seated position in the living room chair as the kids and dog played around me. I had no energy. I was quickly losing hope.
I felt broken.
These are things a scale won’t show me.
At this writing, it has been over a month since I had gastric bypass surgery.
And even in this short amount of time, so much has already changed.
I’m not talking about the 27 pounds I have already lost. Or the baggy clothes. Or that I look 10 years younger, even to myself.
Though yes, these things are lovely.
But the things I am mostly referring to are the immeasurable.
I sit up in bed in the morning, in zero pain. Every day at noon, I walk clear around the hospital campus with my biz and we giggle our butts off. My clothes fit me more like clothes and less like a sausage casing. My fingers touch when I wrap them around my wrist. I can put my foot on the floor and tie my shoe instead of hiking it up onto my knee.
These are things a scale won’t show me.
My bath towel reaches further around me now. I can look at myself in the mirror, and see not perfection, but progress. My daughter’s pride in my hard work shows on her face every day. My back boobies are shrinking. I can stand up out of a chair at work without grunting. I can attend a function with my girlfriends and enjoy the company and our insanely loud laughter without obsessing about what I am going to eat.
These are things a scale won’t show me.
I can say no to bread and chocolate and beer, because I know right now, those things would truly hurt me. My friends and family have given me more love and support than I ever could have imagined. My buns fit better into the chairs at work. I feel great pride in myself for facing this obstacle, so I hold my head higher. Even strangers treat me differently. And that is because of how I view myself. My feet are pain free. PAIN. FREE. I can take walks again. I CAN TAKE WALKS AGAIN!
These are things a scale won’t show me.
Scales are dumb. I hate them. For too long I defined my worth by the number on that scale, and it annihilated me mentally.
Sure, goals are important. But weighing myself every single day?
Not. Gonna. Happen.
I am strong and brave and beautiful and loved.
The number on the scale is just my gravitational pull.
I have conquered a lifelong eating disorder. And now I am slowly chipping away at the weight.
It will come off. It is already coming off.
And after all of these layers are gone and the real me is unearthed, you will still find the same strong, brave, beautiful gal.
I had some messages yesterday from folks who don’t understand how it’s physically possible that I lost a pound a day for a month.
Well, first off my surgeon turned my football sized stomach into the size of an egg.
And that’s a chicken egg, not an ostrich egg.
I am taking in less than 500 calories per day. That is going to yield enormous weight loss at first.
Or if you speak Big Bang Theory….
I eat 2 ounces of food 3 times a day. That’s about 40-50 calories each meal.
So let’s say meals are 150 calories per day total. Then drinking 2 premier proteins throughout the day, that’s another 320 calories. So my total caloric intake is less than 500 calories per day.
A 358 pound body has a BMR of 2239. With moderate activity, (ie: walking 3 times a day) that brings the metabolic rate up to 3626.
3626 calories burned per day
-470 calories consumed per day
3155 cals burned per day = weight loss
If a pound is roughly 3500 calories, and I’m burning 3155, you can see how I’m losing close to a pound per day.
Below are my total steps today by 10:30 a.m. Not too shabby for someone who did nothing but sit a month ago, due to sheer pain.
Enough nerdery for now.
I cried with a patient yesterday. She had just finished what she thought would be her last therapy appointment for food addiction.
It wasn’t. She will likely need another 3-6 months.
She was sobbing. I couldn’t hold back, I sobbed with her. I don’t always share my own journey with our patients, but this time I ripped right open.
I told her. I poured it all out that I’d had WLS surgery just a month ago. That it took 2 years of therapy to get me there.
And that some days I STILL don’t feel ready.
Do you think weight-loss surgery is “the easy way out?”
If so, then wake up. You are wrong.
It isn’t just about losing pounds. It’s about losing demons. Losing addictions. Losing self-deprecating behaviors. Losing fear of judgement.
Goliath still has to be slain. Weight-loss surgery is my slingshot.
It isn’t easy. But it’s worth it.
My sweet patient left smiling. Sometimes all we need is someone to hold our hand and listen.
And as for me, some days it just helps to lose myself for a minute and focus on someone else. It makes my problems so much smaller.
And my heart so much bigger.
I know I said I wasn’t going to weigh until my 6-week appointment. But my biz and walking buddy Nicole has been after me to weigh in. Since its been a month today, I gave in.
Down 27 pounds in 1 month!
You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest by searching Destination: 175.
You will likely never hear me say this again, but TGIM.
Thank God it’s Monday.
This weekend was brutal. Working through addiction is painful, no matter what form that addiction takes. It is plain to see why so many WLS patients suffer from addiction transfer.
Addiction transfer is the act of exchanging one addiction for another. The binge eater becomes an alcoholic. Or shopaholic. Whatever.
This weekend, 4 different stressors really tested me and my new pouch. I just wanted pizza. And wine. (That makes everything better, right? Ugh.)
Even I didn’t realize how often I was pacifying myself with comfort foods before surgery.
Surgery took away my pacifier. And I am grumpy. Oh yes, that is putting it lightly.
But I have to learn how to cope with the stress of my life without pouring gravy over it and eating it.
And I am getting there. One day at a time.
Which is funny, because I was never really much of a donut gal before surgery.
But today, you could put 30 of them in a large basin, cover them with cappuccino, and I would bob for them.
I don’t know if it’s that I can’t have them. Or maybe I saw something on Pinterest and it sparked the desire deep in my brain. But everything about the donut today says get in my belly.
Of course this is lunacy. It would make me so ill. Roux-en-Y patients cannot consume sugar or it will cause dumping syndrome.
Don’t know what dumping syndrome is?
Use your imagination.
One moment of sugar weakness, and about 30 minutes later you will either be praying to the porcelain god, or attempting to shoot through the bathroom ceiling, space-shuttle style, from the blast coming out of your backside.
Not exactly my idea of a good time.
And yes, you’re welcome for the visual.
Through my pre-op therapy and education, I have come to realize that I could never be a bulemic. Never, ever, ever. Honestly, I would rather stay fat. I will do just about anything to keep from vomiting. I try to position myself differently, walk slowly, breathe deeply, practically meditate so that I won’t have to throw up.
I hate it.
This is the main reason I chose the Roux-en-Y. I have forced both my body and my mind into submission. I know if I eat that donut, I am going to ralph.
That means no nibbles. No bites. No chewing it really, really well.
That means donut end game.
No. More. Donuts. Missy.
Which brings me to #2. (pun very much intended) The only thing worse than vomiting, has got to be diarrhea. This is the more common of the dumping syndromes. Now, I’m fully aware that there are bulemics who, in lieu of vomiting, will take laxatives to poo out all of their calories. Again, I would rather stay fat. What is the point of looking like Kate Moss, if you have to walk like you have a corn cob wedged in your arse?
Mmmm, that’s hot.
Now while all of this may have been some massive TMI, it is what is real. There are consequences to my choices now that force me to live and eat right.
Now instead of giving in and eating that donut, and then another, and another…I have to face the fact that I am NOT hungry, and what I am experiencing is emotional.
And emotions can be worked through.
It isn’t easy.
But it is worth it.
No donut on the planet is worth dumping syndrome.
And I am worth every ounce of this fight.
So Kate Moss, you keep doing your thang, and I’ll do mine. Put that in your toidy and flush it.
I have received so many e-mails and messages from folks struggling with obesity and binge-eating.
It is a very real issue. And more common than you’d think. But to “lose that weight” permanently, you have to be ready.
It takes focus and commitment to deal with the real issues instead of just the size 28 jeans.
No one else can tell you it’s time.
Not your doctor.
Not your friends or your family.
YOU have to be ready.
Because at the core of it all, it isn’t about being lazy or bonging Twinkies in your panties or not understanding nutrition.
Though there is that at times.
We’re not stupid. We know that kale is better for us than chocolate.
It’s about the mental demons that caused us to binge in the first place. And if we don’t deal with those first, we will not lose the weight and keep it off, no matter how much surgery we have.
Mental demons are painfully difficult to overcome. They are the monsters and the ghouls still living in your brain, born from years of feelings of inadequacy and loss. The demons of your past may stem from abuse, sexual or otherwise. They may have been born from losing a parent or close friend as a child. They may exist because you were demeaned and cut down in your youth, so you have spent your life talking to yourself that way in your head.
Negative self talk is a bitch.
But it is real.
And the weight is never going to come off, until you seek therapy and kill those demons first.
And honestly, that therapy will likely continue for years to come. And that’s okay.
You have to keep your mind healthy to keep your body as such.
Here is the thing about binge eating. You have to be ready to break up with that lifestyle for good. Forever.
Just the way you would break up with someone who is bad for you. You have to end it. For good.
There is no going back.
Years ago, after my divorce, I started seeing someone who was horrible for me. He was a gorgeous, silver-tongued bastard. A player. And I knew it. But no guy that pretty had ever even looked at me before. I was love-stoned. When we were together, I felt like the only woman in the world. I loved how I felt about me.
But that treatment was momentary. He would come to the house for the evening, we would listen to old music, laugh, maybe share a few drinks. But he was no sooner there, then he was gone again. He would go days sometimes weeks without seeing me. But the moment he called, I would see him again. And I let him treat me this way for the better part of a year.
What I finally realized is that I had to end this relationship forever. I had to tell him to get the hell out, and be done. And I did just that. But then after some time, I would miss him. And I would cave and call him again. And he would always come right back.
We would last another month or so. Until I’d had it with being treated like an option instead of a priority. And then I would tell him off and to get out…again. But guess what? He came back. Same story, different day.
We did this maybe a dozen times before I finally wised up for good, and realized I was going to have to stop calling him. And stop answering those text messages. Stop answering the phone. Stop answering the door. And just do a complete shut out of him altogether.
And you know what?
It took over a year for him to go completely away, but ending that destructive relationship cold-turkey was the only way to get my life back.
Sound familiar? I’ve had the same relationship with binge eating.
There will be no more one night rendezvous with enough Mexican take-out to feed a small village.
No more afternoon delight with a chocolate creme pie and a vat of cappuccino.
No more planning a quickie binge with Puccini’s pizza and bread when I know the kids are going to be gone.
I had to be completely ready to focus on my eating disorder, and deal with the demons that sent me to it in the first place. And before now, I just wasn’t ready.
I listened to my doctor blather on for years about “losing weight.”
Well I’m here to tell you it isn’t about losing weight. Or dieting. Or moving your ass more.
You have to break-up with binge eating. End it. Never see it or speak to it again. And until you’re ready to do that, it will always come back.
I am not going to lie, it is painful. It is a mourning process. You have used food as a comfort for so long, that you know no other way to appease those demons in your mind.
It isn’t about being lazy or ignorant. It’s about getting to the root of the problem, and eradicating it. Forever.
Let me tell you one more story and then I’ll shut it.
One week after surgery, the head hunger for me was awful. I just wanted comfort food. Big time.
I just wanted everyone to shut up and go away and stop asking me what they could do to help. I wanted to be alone.
My mom came over unannounced, and I barked some snarky thing at her, I can’t remember. It wasn’t nice. She just smiled and went outside and started weeding my hosta beds. When she came back inside, I was crying. I told her I wanted Doritos.
She just smiled.
I said, “Mom, I need Doritos. I just want to suck on them, I won’t eat them.”
She tried to hide her smirk. Then she started giggling.
I was so mad that she didn’t understand my pain. Why can’t I just suck on some Doritos??!
And this, after 2 years of behavioral therapy. Le sigh.
Anyone who has dealt with food addiction understands this ridiculousness. But it’s real. And that desire is still going to pop up from time to time. Trust me, there are days I still want to call that fool who had me on his hook. But I don’t. Because I know I deserve better than him.
And I know I deserve better than losing myself to a life of addiction to food and binge eating.