Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Half the body, twice the woman!

For some reason, this title made me think of Superman: "Faster than a speeding bullet, leaps tall buildings with a single bound." I'm not Superman though, mainly because I really don't think I could pull off all the spandex in that particular outfit. Anyway, I made up this little catch-phrase last Tuesday night before my weigh-in (yes, I'm a bit late writing this post...been busy!). I was kind of  afraid I would jinx myself, but for some reason I was absolutely sure I hit my goal of losing half my body weight. Those who have read my blog before know that this is never the case for me. I'm usually sure I gained weight. But this time, I just knew I had done it. So yes, I devoted 10 minutes to thinking up a clever (haha) catchphrase even before I weighed in. At first, I thought about going with the People magazine favorite "Half my size!" or maybe "Half the woman I used to be!" But I thought it was important to recognize that while my body may physically be half the size it used to be, I felt like it was equally as important to recognize that I have grown emotionally in ways I am not even fully aware of yet. In many ways that journey has been even more difficult for me than losing weight. Emotional baggage is much harder to shed than physical pounds. Hence, "twice the woman!"

When I stepped on the scale last Wednesday, my heart was about to beat out of my chest. To see that number, to see that scale read 163.6 when it once read 328, it's something I will never get tired of seeing. I just kept thinking, "I did this." It is immensely satisfying to know that I accomplished something like this all due to my own blood, sweat, and tears. I know, I know, it's about so much more than a number on the scale. But sometimes, it does get to be about that number.

Me being me and obsessed with pictures, of course I had to have a picture to commemorate this day. For some reason, I kind of wanted to raise my arms in a victory salute or something but I felt like I needed a trophy (and maybe the Rocky soundtrack?). Sadly, they do not make a trophy for losing half your body weight, so I figured I could raise the scale in a victory salute.

Yes, I am that corny. I wanted to take a picture with my equally corny sign outside, but the wind wouldn't cooperate. But then I figured it was actually more fitting anyway to take the picture in front of the door where I take all my monthly progress pictures. So here's a side by side comparison of when I started and now.

Pretty cool! And yes, I do realize it also looks like I shrunk vertically (something I can't afford being only 5'1"), but I'm not really that gifted with photo editing so I couldn't get it to do what I wanted (apparently screaming "Do what I say, you devil machine!" at the computer has very little effect).

So it's crazy to think about, but this latest milestone puts me quite close to my ultimate weight loss goal. Like only 23 lbs away. You may have noticed (well, probably not) that I changed my weight loss goal tracker at the top of the page. I had originally made my goal weight 128 lbs, which would put me at exactly 200 lbs lost. I mean, who doesn't like a nice round number like 200? The BMI scale says that I would still be considered overweight until I weighed 132 lbs. So originally, that was why I said 128 lbs (you know, around 132 but a bit lower to make it an even 200 lbs lost). But now I have had multiple people confirm (my doctor, a trainer, and a nutritionist) confirm that 128 lbs is too low for me. They have all said that around 140-145 lbs is an ideal number for me. I have always believed that I had a lot of muscle, but I was afraid to increase my goal weight due to that because I know a lot of people falsely justify weighing more due to all their "muscle." But I figure with 3 professionals all telling me that I do have a lot of muscle and all agreeing on what my goal weight should be, I'm making the right decision increasing my goal weight to around 140 lbs. Also, according to body fat percentage (which I believe is a better measurement that BMI) I am already within a normal range right now, so 23 lbs from now, I'll be great. I know there are some people who will think 140 lbs sounds like a lot for someone who is barely 5 feet tall. I would say I used to agree with them. The BMI scale said my optimal weight would be 105 lbs. And really, society in general would say that 105 is an optimal weight for me. I thought I needed to weigh that. But I know my body now. I'm not going to try to weigh some arbitrary number, be it 105 or 128, just because some someone I don't even know says I should. I would be sick if I weighed 105 lbs. I am going to end up weighing what it is healthy for me. Something I can maintain without killing myself at the gym and without subsisting on carrot sticks. Maybe that number will be 140. Maybe it will be 145. I don't know. We'll just have to see. But what's important is that I've decided that weighing what is healthy for me is much more important than losing exactly 200 lbs or trying to live up to what society or the BMI scale says I should weigh.

Friday, May 16, 2014

I guess an apple a day really does keep the doctor away

Well, I don't really eat an apple every single day, but I do eat a good amount of them. Anyway, so I had a physical with my doctor this week. This was significant and something I was actually looking forward to like a dork because my doctor has not seen me since I was over 300 lbs. So yeah, I was kind of excited for him to see the change (though a small, idiotic part of me wondered if he would notice the change).

I used to see way too much of my doctor for someone in their 20's. My asthma used to be so out of control that I would invariably either wind up at his office (when I wasn't in danger of actually dying) or the emergency department (when my asthma attacks got so bad they would put a crash cart outside my room because they thought I was about to go into respiratory arrest) pretty much every month and sometimes multiple times in a month. And then when I was at my heaviest, I started getting kidney stones due to my diet and obesity. I got 3 stones in 6 months! So yeah, not much fun.

So even though I used to see my doctor quite regularly, my weight did not come up as a topic of conversation even though I had gained 80 lbs in a year. I can see why, because naturally an in-depth discussion about my alarmingly increasing weight wasn't really on the priority list when my lips were blue from an asthma attack or I was writhing in pain from a kidney stone. I never seemed to make the time for a physical then either because I knew my weight would undoubtedly come up as a major topic of conversation during that visit, and I was kind of subconsciously avoiding it. Every now and then though, I would see one of my medical records and see those words I dreaded staring back at me: morbidly obese. It was humiliating and I did my best not to think about it.

Like many other typical parts of life, going to the doctor presents numerous potentially embarrassing moments for an obese person that an average-sized person does not even think about. It all starts with the scale. I always tried to step on it nonchalantly, like I wasn't about to see a number that was 200 pounds more than it should be. I tried to pretend I didn't see how the nurse either 1) tried to act like the number wasn't shocking or 2) only thinly veiled their disgust. And then there's the blood pressure cuff. Always, always the large cuff, even though in my denial I hoped one time that maybe the nurse would think I only needed a regular sized cuff. Gowns that don't close are always fun too. The exams were a blast, if you call letting another human being see and touch all your fat fun. I once had a doctor (not my regular one) ask me why I had so many stretch marks and also comment on the fact that I was "just so bulky." Yes, he used those exact words. He was a real winner.

But going to the doctor for my physical this week was nothing but a positive experience. I didn't have to be ashamed of the number on the scale. In fact, when I weighed in, it was even fun because because the nurse looked back in my chart to see my previous weight (I guess since it was a physical) and I got to see her be shocked in a good way. She said, "You would never know you used to be that overweight!" That couldn't have made me any happier. I finally got to use a regular sized blood pressure cuff, and then see that my blood pressure was an awesome 103/62. And far from not fitting around me, the gown was huge on me. When my doctor walked in, he literally did a double take, and then was like, "How much weight have you lost?!?" To be able to tell him that I had lost 163 lbs, only one pound away from being literally half the person I used to be, made me prouder than I can say. He just kept shaking his head and saying he couldn't believe it. He told me that he would bet that only 1 out of 1000 of his patients would do what I had done. That actually kind of made me a little sad, because I truly believe that anyone can do what I have done; it's just a matter of will they. He was genuinely interested in how I had made the change. It made me so proud to see how impressed he was by my diet and activity level. He said at physicals he usually discusses what lifestyle changes should be made, but he couldn't see any changes that needed to be made in my case. My lungs were in great shape, and he said that it seemed losing the weight had made all the difference in making my asthma infinitely more manageable. I still have asthma attacks from time to time (especially in the winter), but they have been mild enough that I can manage them at home without going to the doctor for steroids (truly the devil!), much less have to go to the emergency department. As far as kidney stones go, I've been stone-free after the trio of stones I had a couple of years ago. During my exam, he asked if I had a goal weight, and I told him probably around 140 lbs without skin removal surgery. He said, "Yeah, you don't need to lose that much more." Seriously, it still blows my mind that someone would think I couldn't stand to lose more than 25 lbs or so. He told me we would go ahead and check my cholesterol, kidney function, blood sugar etc, but that he expected my numbers would be excellent.

I got my lab results back yesterday, and all my numbers were excellent. My kidney function and blood sugar were well within normal limits, and my cholesterol numbers were as follows:

Total cholesterol: 132 (optimal is less than 200)
Triglycerides: 76 (optimal is less than 150)
HDL (good cholesterol): 62 (optimal is greater than 50)
LDL (bad cholesterol): 59 (optimal is less than 100)

Pretty awesome! I would like to get my HDL up even higher, just because I'm an overachiever like that, but otherwise I couldn't be happier. Here's to hoping next year's physical is even better!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The centennial post: a pretentious way to say dis blog done got 100 posts!

100 posts later and what do I have to show for it? 163 pounds less junk in the trunk, some loose skin, a whole lot of new friends, a different way of looking at food, way more endurance, and I believe a much healthier way of looking at weight loss (and actually if I want to get all philosophical, life in general). When I first started this blog, I worried that I would not have enough to write about. I figured there was only so much you could write about this topic. Luckily, this hasn't appeared to be a problem because new issues just keep popping up. It has truly been a crazy and wonderful ride.

When I wrote my first post, I didn't think I had 100 posts in me. I didn't even know if I had the strength to lose weight period. I mean, I didn't even take an official before picture! That's how little faith I had in myself. But what I had in spades was desperation. I was desperate to stop living the way I was. I think people believe that being desperate is always a bad thing, but I think sometimes it can be a catalyst for change. Sometimes you have to sink to the bottom to be able to start climbing to the top. Yes, I realize that I sound like I am quoting a corny motivation poster or something (probably with a picture of a person climbing a mountain on it), but it is true. Ironically enough, I had to take it on faith that I would eventually start to have a little faith in myself.

If this were a fairy tale, I could say that after losing the weight I have morphed into a tight and toned supermodel, have the self-confidence of 100 women, and now live the perfect healthy lifestyle existence with no slip-ups. But as they say, life is not a fairy tale.When I look in the mirror, there are some days when I am proud. But there are many others when I see the ravages losing so much weight has wrought on my body, and I feel nothing but shame and disgust. As far as self-confidence goes, I am working on it, but I realize that I am often my own harshest critic. And the perfect healthy lifestyle? Oh yes, I would say 80-90% of the time I do a pretty good job (though not perfect), but there are days when I can wolf down a cheeseburger with the best of them. So many people believe that simply losing the weight will solve all their issues and problems, but as much as I would like that to be true, it just isn't. Does it solve some problems? Of course it does. But it's no magic cure, and you have to tackle those problems the same way you tackle losing weight. One day at a time of hard work and faith that eventually you will succeed.

This blog has not been the story of someone who lost weight and now has everything all figured out. It has been the story of someone who has lost weight and is still figuring things out every single day. It has been the story of someone who even though she still struggles with self-doubt, genuinely recognizes that she is worth fighting for. It's also apparently the story of someone who enjoys speaking about herself in the third person. But seriously, I'm proud that my blog has represented not just my weight loss journey, but my journey towards the realization that progress, not perfection, is the way to go. I hope you all have enjoyed reading my blog, and I hope you'll stay with me during the next 100 posts and beyond!