I had bariatric surgery 7 years ago, my heaviest weight was 385 ish pounds, standard scales go to around 350. Since I worked as a nurse in the hospital, I at times had to take patients in a wheelchair to the shipping dock to be weighed. One day while weighing a patient I dropped my pen, and walked back on the scale alone to get my pen. It was a rude awakening to see the scale had gone up to 385.
KNOWING that I weighed that much, I continued to deny it for at least two more years before I started to pursue bariatric surgery. I was lying to myself, instead of stepping up to the plate and taking care of business. It was very hard to face the fact that I weighed that much, so I avoided it as long as I could.
After my surgery on September 11, 2003 I became addicted to the scale reading. YES, I did. I weighed every morning and every evening. Crazy right? I realized my roller coaster ride was still going strong and my drama for the day related to the number on the scale. So I tossed them. Instead of working on my “issues” I buried my head in the sand and tried to “stop the clock, and the scale” It really was a typical case of avoidance.
Today, I decided to face one of my inner fears…. I asked myself if I had the courage. So many people deal with fear of regain, and many people actually deal with regain. Regain is a real issue, and it is an issue I am looking at square in the eyes. It’s a stare down!
If I didn’t love myself and accept things as they come, I would have been mighty sad when I stepped on the scale this morning. When I saw the number, I decided not to attach to it. I don’t plan on keeping it. Something inside me clicked, when I realized, I am not beating myself up trying to figure out what I did “wrong” so that I can blame myself for this gain and properly punish myself in the name of bariatric success.. Instead it was more of a ok, let me put a plan into action, let me face my feelings and let me learn from my mistakes. It gave me a perfectly clear view of how far I have came in my journey with polishing my spirit, because the number on the scale was not polishing my ego.
First, let me identify what it is exactly I was avoiding. I had to really go deep within myself here to self explore. I know why I avoid going inside and exploring my feelings, they hurt quite a bit. I have come to a conclusion though that not facing my feelings and dealing with them just “accumulates” and so does the number on the scale.
I avoided looking at this because there is always that fear of “failure” but what really constitutes failing? Have I failed because my weight has increased? I don’t think so. Now, if I continued to let the weight come on and gain all my weight back instead of changing my unhealthy habits now, well then I would have to readdress this, and let’s face it addressing these issues with compassion rather then judgment is much more soothing to the soul.
I also avoided the issue of the number on the scale because let’s face it, I was still stuck in the caring what others think. What will people think of me if they know I have gained weight (hello * just saying) When I listen hard enough I can almost hear the *gasp* that might be heard when people look at the number on my scale, and I can almost hear the whispers. In the past when thoughts like this came to my mind it made them my reality. There comes a point when one has to learn that sticking their head in the sand does not make the issue disappear. In order to have my head in the sand, I have to be on my knees with my tail end in the air. When your tail end in the air, its right in the path of the hurricane when it hits. So, I am making a conscious effort to get up off my knees and stand up and Fight Like a Woman… Let me Pick up my Stick!
Reality check… what made me avoid the number on the scale? My OWN shame and guilt! I can wallow in those two “feelings for days” and all that it accomplishes is beating myself up. Shame and Guilt have led me many times to react with anger and fear. Angry at myself for not being “perfect” and Fear of losing “control” Only let’s face it who is perfect and have I really fooled myself into believing I am in control by avoiding the scale?
One of the things that has helped me open my eyes to reality is my friendship with Jill, who is 10 months post op. She and I spend a lot of time together and we often eat together, and talk about our surgeries and the feelings that go with it. Jill is still in the honeymoon phase of surgery and I watched her excitement as the number on the scale moved down to her goal weight. I watch her excitement as she discovers a new protein drink or makes a WLS friendly meal and I wonder when I lost that excitement? Is the bariatric surgery really that much like marriage that once the honeymoon is over ALL excitement is gone? Because if so, we have an issue, since we can’t divorce our surgery.
I find myself sort of in a marriage with a surgical procedure. It’s not a perfect marriage and I am going to have to do some work if we are going to get along.
1. It’s time to incorporate more activity into my life. PHYSICAL activity. Bike riding, trampoline jumping, walking, core training, yoga and being the best I can be.
2. Food journal. I journal everything in my life, and its time to add food back to the journal. If I hold myself accountable and write down what I eat, I will be aware of each thing that goes in my mouth. Mindful eating is going to be my best friend in this journey.
3. No judgement. It doesn’t matter how I got here or why, what matter is that I move past this place and not get stuck here. (Put Your Scissors up girls)
4. I don’t have a number goal, I am not going to plan to lose 20 pounds in a month, nor am I going to try to lose 5 pounds in a month. I am releasing unhealthy habits and the weight they have accumulated.
5. Water… water… WATER… Water is such an important element in this journey. Water of course washes away what I am going to release, it also represents flexibility. I am going to flow through this journey like water, taking each day at a time. Allowing myself to be in the moment.
6.Protein, Since I am a vegetarian I am going to be very focused on getting my protein in for this journey.
There is a Story I want to share with you all.
This story was given to me at a support group a couple of years ago by a featured speaker who impacted my life greatly. I did not understand the significance of the story at the time but now my eyes are opening.
It reminds me of the bariatric struggle. You see we built a cocoon around us when we became obese. The bariatric surgery removes us from that cocoon, but sometimes it removes us “prematurely” if we haven’t dealt with the underlying issues. These issues can be a variety of things from childhood sexual abuse, trauma, or PTSD. Once we are out of the cocoon it’s hard to fly when we carry this baggage, it often comes out of us as anger or fear and we find ourselves “hungry again”.
Join me on my journey to Click away the pounds one day at the time. Let’s walk each other home.
Struggle is Good! I Want to Fly!
Once a little boy was playing outdoors and found a fascinating caterpillar. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his mother. He asked his mother if he could keep it, and she said he could if he would take good care of it.
The little boy got a large jar from his mother and put plants to eat, and a stick to climb on, in the jar. Every day he watched the caterpillar and brought it new plants to eat.
One day the caterpillar climbed up the stick and started acting strangely. The boy worriedly called his mother who came and understood that the caterpillar was creating a cocoon. The mother explained to the boy how the caterpillar was going to go through a metamorphosis and become a butterfly.
The little boy was thrilled to hear about the changes his caterpillar would go through. He watched every day, waiting for the butterfly to emerge. One day it happened, a small hole appeared in the cocoon and the butterfly started to struggle to come out.
At first the boy was excited, but soon he became concerned. The butterfly was struggling so hard to get out! It looked like it couldn’t break free! It looked desperate! It looked like it was making no progress!
The boy was so concerned he decided to help. He ran to get scissors, and then walked back (because he had learned not to run with scissors…). He snipped the cocoon to make the hole bigger and the butterfly quickly emerged!
As the butterfly came out the boy was surprised. It had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. He continued to watch the butterfly expecting that, at any moment, the wings would dry out, enlarge and expand to support the swollen body. He knew that in time the body would shrink and the butterfly’s wings would expand.
But neither happened!
The butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings.
It never was able to fly…
As the boy tried to figure out what had gone wrong his mother took him to talk to a scientist from a local college. He learned that the butterfly was SUPPOSED to struggle. In fact, the butterfly’s struggle to push its way through the tiny opening of the cocoon pushes the fluid out of its body and into its wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly would never, ever fly. The boy’s good intentions hurt the butterfly.
As you go through school, and life, keep in mind that struggling is an important part of any growth experience. In fact, it is the struggle that causes you to develop your ability to fly.
As instructors our gift to you is stronger wings…