Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Half of Me
As of today, I have officially lost 150 pounds. Dayam. Yep, both of those pictures are me. Actually, I've lost weight since the one in the green suit -- another twenty pounds or so. I'd take a more recent picture, but you'd see my red nose and haggard face from bronchitis, and I frankly don't think either of us needs that. And yes, I did lose that last stubborn six pounds from being sick as a dog the last week. Heck, I'll take what I can get. So anyway, I thought I'd discuss the things I've learned about myself and about weight loss the last 19 months.
1.) Gastric bypass surgery is not a magic wand. I thought it was. I thought I'd just plunk down my $26,000 (ACK!!!!) and viola!! Instant skinny woman.
Uh, no. A lot of people think it is that easy. They think it's the easy way out, that Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig is so much harder. Well, yeah, in some ways, it is easier. In all the hanging-over-the-toilet-throwing-up ways, no. In all the I-look-like-I-survived-a-knife-fight ways, no.
(That's my husband's standard line, by the way: I'm his knife-fighting kitty. Right after I had the laproscopic surgery, I was left with five small horizontal cuts at different points on my stomach. Mike, who is a cop, said, "You know, I've seen people who've been in knife fights that had injuries like that." That's when he threatened to punch the first person who said I took the easy way out. He spent a month sniffing bandages and watching me for signs of infection, so he's entitled.)
WILLPOWER, MY BUTT
Let's be clear here: I would never have lost the weight without the surgery. Period. Partly because I didn't believe I could do it. I'd watched my Mom struggle with obesity for my entire life, lose 80 pounds, TWICE, and gain it back both times. I knew I just didn't have my mother's ferocious willpower. I was screwed before I even started.
But you know what? I have a LOT more willpower than I thought I did. I realized that the first week after I had the surgery. I was staggering around the kitchen, sick as hell, hungry. And my husband had made himself and my son toasted garlic bread with butter. I was DYING to eat a piece of that bread, but I knew it would kill my butt if I did. So I didn't. And I thought, Damn, I have more willpower than I thought.
It was never about willpower. It is about consequences. For me, overeating never had immediate consequences. The consequences come later, quietly, in additional pounds, not in ways that you really feel as instantly painful. Gastric bypass gives food instant consequences that are highly unpleasant RIGHT NOW, and that makes it easy to say no. When you know that if I eat this chocolate cake, I'm going to be sick as a dog for the next ninety minutes, you freaking don't eat the chocolate cake, because it ain't worth it. Nothing tastes that good.
So I have plenty of willpower. I always did. I just never wanted it badly enough. Now I do. I have experienced what it's like to walk around without 150 extra pounds on my body, and let me tell you, it's a HELL of a lot easier. I am a devout lazy person. I don't like carrying around 150 extra pounds. It sucks. It hurts. Getting off the toilet hurts. Walking around the block hurts. Not being able to breathe sucks. Now I stride everywhere I go, and I like it.
I was thinking about this today. If you asked me to pick up 150 pounds and carry it right now, there is no way on God's green earth I could do it. And I've been working out. I've got biceps now and everything. I'm a lot stronger. But I couldn't do it.
I always thought I was lazy. People always think that fat people are sooo lazy, they don't want to work out. Well, think about this. Strap 150 pounds on your body and get on that treadmill and carry it for a mile and a half for thirty minutes. I defy you.
No wonder obese people don't want to work out.
Yet I used to do that three times a week, every week. That took a hell of a lot of willpower and determination I never gave myself credit for.
I think a lot of obese people sell themselves short because everybody else sells them short. They just look at the weight and think, "Ah, you're lazy, and that's why you're fat." But we're not. We can do it.
We just don't think we can.
Secrets of the Roux-en-Y Sisterhood
I learned a few things over the past 19 months about losing weight. First off, I learned that protein is key to weight loss. They tell you it's all about cutting calories, but let me tell you, if you ain't getting enough protein, you can't loose weight no matter how you try. Gastric patients only get about 300-600 calories a day those first few weeks, so cutting calories is NOT a problem. And yet sometimes we get stuck. That's because we're not getting enough protein. Without protein, your body doesn't have what it needs to metabolize the fat.
So for us, all the focus is on getting in the 68 grams of protein you have to have every day to live. That's more complicated than you'd think, because your body can only absorb about 25 grams at a time. So you can't just eat one big bar or something. You have to make sure you get it in usable chunks. I found a nifty protein drink I loved here: http://www.bariatriceating.com/achievone.html
It's called Achieve One Cappuccino drink, and it's the only protein drink I was ever able to stomach at 20 grams a bottle. It can be hard to get, but it's worth it.
EXERCISE IS GOOD FOR MORE THAN JUST YOUR BUTT
I also discovered that exercise is my life-saver. For all that I always hated to work out before my surgery, I realized that it was the solution I've always been looking for when it came to stress and anxiety. Unlike antidepressants, it's instant -- you don't have to wait six weeks for it to kick in. A good work out can burn off more screaming stress than anything I can think of, with the possible exception of good sex.
I have come to see it as a necessity for my mental health, not just something I do to look good in jeans. Cause frankly, my jeans aren't a good enough incentive. Keeping myself from going batshit, however, is.
SOMETIMES YOU'RE NOT HUNGRY, YOU'RE THIRSTY
My Weight Watchers leader says this, and it's true. The nerves in your stomach that detect hunger also detect thirst. So if you're hungry, and it's not time to eat, drink something instead. That may be way you really need.
Anyway, those are a few of the lessons I've learned on the way to becoming half the woman I was.
By the way, soon after I started work on this blog, I learned that Shifter, my new anthology, hit #14 on the New York Times list. So I have TWO major things to celebrate today!
So I'm doing the Kermit the Frog dance of ecstasy!
Posted by Angela Knight at 4:14 PM