Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What I did right: emotionally

The above photo is on Cape Cod during a summer I can't even identify, not the winter weekend I described below. But it conveys my mood well enough. Yuck! And I thought my shirt was flattering. 

Work holiday party last week.

I was ready.
I know I've said before that I think dieting is 80% mental and 20% cooking and planning logistics/understanding nutrition but I may not have gone into detail about why I was in such a ready place - aside from my kids being older and less needy.

I made an album of before pictures....not in date order but you get the point. Please do me a favor and look at a summer 2009 album when you're done. For after pictures see the Cape, Carmel or Texas albums. Or above.

I had really started thinking about long-term health in about 2007. My father developed an ocular melanoma at 38 and I was getting close to that age. Despite a complex medical history involving many other cancers, it was a metastasis to the liver of the ocular melanoma, decades later that caused his death. I decided to undergo a few cancer screenings and have my varicose veins examined. My veins were absolutely horrific aesthetically and my mom kept telling me they were a health threat as well. I had always had some but my pregnancy with Alex really made them over the top. So my plan of attack was, get eye screening, get veins removed, get colonoscopy, exercise more, visit dentist more. Weight loss was kind of on the agenda but not as a top priority. I did make an effort to cook more "whole foody" with lots of new grains, beans and even mixing tofu into the rotation.

While I was formulating this plan I found out about 2 people I knew in their 30s who developed serious cancers. Ultimately one died and the other was "cured". Of course all cancer patients have web sites so I was reading their heart-breaking updates daily. All this together left me feeling quite vulnerable and mortal.

So two springs ago I did the following...I got my teeth cleaned and any cavities filled. I got my eye screening - (no tumors!), I consulted with a vascular surgeon, with the plan being to get the colonoscopy once the varicose veins were healed. I was saving the best for last (ha!). I started exercising regularly. My vascular surgeries were far more involved than I realized. I needed 7 procedures, and the surgeon very cleverly did them in order of ascending pain. After each one I couldn't exercise for a few days. But I plodded along, getting back into the swing of things as soon as I could. The process took months, as it was summer and we were both busy. The last one was something like Sept. 1. It was by far the most painful and I had trouble exercising for well over a month. By the time I could exercise again in was towards the end of daylight savings time - a constant downfall of mine for decades. As fall slid into winter I put on probably 10-12 lbs: my usual winter weight gain plus some extra. This takes us to Dec/Jan. Time for the colonoscopy. It was the initial visit with the GI doctor where I was weighed at 183 lbs. An emotional event detailed here.

Decision day - January 7, 2009

My fat clothes are tight. I'm not buying new ones. My husband is polite but I know he's disappointed in me - he's as in shape as he's ever been. My friends tell me, "Yeah it's time to do something." not "You look great!" I'm doing something. I remember the one time in my life I was thin for a long time. I ate less. Pure and simple. Thin people don't eat big portions. It's not that complicated. I can't think of a thin person I know who eats a lot. Well maybe a couple. I was weighed at the doctor's office today and the nurse politely kept the lever at 183 for such a brief moment I couldn't even discern if it was 183 or 184. I was wearing my Uggs and jeans so I'm going with 183.

Here is the whole post.

My year of attempts to make health a higher priority resulted in a precipitous weight gain! I had no more excuses. I felt horrible. I was scared that cancer was just around the corner. I know a healthy BMI cannot forestall all cancers if one is genetically pre-disposed, but statistically, it helps. We do the research here at my place of employment so it's drilled into my head a lot.

So I was VERY ready. The actual straw-that-broke-the-camel's-back moment was when a friend of mine made an innocent off-hand comment. I complained that my clothes were too tight and I didn't want to buy bigger ones and she said, "Yeah, when that happens you have to diet your way out of it." It wasn't an insult, or personal or anything, just an irrefutable statement of fact. In that instant, I thought about the several women I know who have lost dozens of pounds on Weight Watchers and had the following self-loathing conversation in my head,
"Why can't I be one of those people? Elissa and Erin and Jennifer all did it at some point. They lost 30 lbs each at least. If they can do it I can do it too. I have to or my husband will really be furious - I'm fat and unattractive and my fatness is costing us money!"
I walked up the hill furious, sad and resolved. Way more resolved than I realized at the time. I don't know why I suddenly had the self-confidence to do something that I never thought I was capable of previously, but I'm beginning to think it was fear - I was afraid if I didn't do it some seriously bad things could happen. Those things still might happen. But I've tamed as many risk factors as I can.

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