Week Four: Govern Yourself Accordingly

Hello. My name is Lilly and I’m a recovering foodaholic.

In the past, I used food as a coping mechanism. I can remember having a particularly bad day. That afternoon, I ate an entire pepperoni pizza in my car and cried. I would stuff myself to avoid dealing with problematic feeling. The feelings never disappeared, I just gave myself a distraction. In the same way that people use drugs or alcohol to escape, I used pizza and pasta. I’ve done the work to decrease my dependence over the years and things were much better before I decided on gastric surgery. However, everyone wants to fall of the wagon from time to time.

It can be much harder to spot a food addict. Everybody has to eat. Unless you are very aware of another person’s habits, you would miss someone eating their feelings. Plus, eating is a highly social activity. Getting together with friends for appetizers and drinks is one of my favorite things to do. It’s very hard to plan some kind of social outing without including some kind of meal. This doesn’t seem to be an issue, but consider this.

When people eat together, bad habits are rampant. Unless you are determined to stay focused on your goals, eating healthy is more difficult. The temptation to order something fried, cheesy, or carb loaded is in full effect. At the same time, people tend to eat faster while talking. Eating faster makes your stomach full faster. So fast, that your brain doesn’t register that you’ve had enough when it happens. Most folks keep eating distracted until it becomes uncomfortable. That’s a bad time for anybody.

I’ve incorporated mindfulness to my eating. This is a technique that can improve your regular eating habits by reducing how much you take in, thus lowering calories. This is a sample of my process.

  • Do not drink anything 30 minutes before or after meals
  • Taking smaller bites
  • Putting forks and spoons down while chewing
  • Chewing until the food is the consistency of toothpaste
  • Being aware of the signals my body sends me

I started losing weight even before having the surgery using this model. It takes a little time to make the adjustment. Old habits don’t go down without a fight. This is part of why dieticians suggest eating alone for the first week or two after surgery. Forgetting the process can end up in serious discomfort and possible injury.

Speaking of discomfort and injury, I fully returned to work this week. Ha. Ha.

It wasn’t as bad as all that. I managed to work without too much pain or exhaustion. It can be hard to take it easy in my line of work. Lifting and jogging can be part of my day to day without warning. Being able to take a punch without reacting is also a plus. I tried to not exert much force on my midsection. It does feel much better, but I haven’t been medically cleared to do any lifting or vigorous activity. I guess I put myself on light duty.

As much as I could, anyway.

Part of my good feeling comes from getting control of my vitamin regimen. I have to take supplements every day for the rest of my life. Calcium, B12, multivitamins, and occasional iron have become a part of my daily routine. My doctors told me I would have to take them before surgery, but I didn’t understand the serious need.

It took a little time for me to get my act together. I acted like I hadn’t just had 80% of my stomach removed. I wasn’t until I realized I needed the vitamins to have enough energy to get through normal activities that I got my act together. I couldn’t even walk through a store without needing a two hour nap afterwards. Pain was a constant companion and I didn’t think I was healing properly. My stubbornness may have set me back a week or two in my progress.

My fault. Live and learn.

The worst part of this week was the encounter with constipation.

No one really wants to think about it, but it happens. Especially after your internal operations have been heavily altered and your body is still trying to make sense of it. I had been on a liquid diet for so long, I kinda forgot that pooping was something I was supposed to be doing.

I didn’t notice until the number on the scale stopped moving downwards. Several days went by and I had gained a couple pounds. I couldn’t come up with a reason why until the pain started. A low grade ache turned into something that required pain medication to tolerate. I tried a laxative but it didn’t have the desired result. Instead, I got a night full of excruciating cramps and no fecal removal.

The following day, I turned to coffee. It always did the trick in the past and it didn’t disappoint me now. It took a bit longer than a few hours, but it got the desired result. I make it a point to drink a cup or two of black coffee every day from that point on.
In other news, my depression has taken a backseat. I’ve been so focused on my physical health that depression hasn’t had a leg to stand on. A night of two of anxious insomnia have been the only dark spots in the last few weeks.

I’ve taken this little break in the weather to push myself to be more positive. Positive thinking, speaking, and acting has been my mantra. I’ve given myself some long term goals that feel very attainable. At the same time, I gave myself hope. My therapist is always talking about the importance of having some hope in your life. Having something to cling on to in times of trouble can act as floating log in the sea of sadness. It can keep you focused on finding your way to shore instead of allowing yourself to drown.

Getting complements has also done wonders for me. I always had a hard time accepting positive comments about myself. Since people have noticed my weight loss, everyone has been saying how good I look. There’s a message about the negative connotations of fatness in there, but I’ve chosen to put those thoughts aside for the time being. I’ll come back to it later.

My self-esteem is beginning to change as well. Before surgery, it was a struggle to look at myself in the mirror. Now, I always want to see how my body is changing. Body positivity is harder as a fat girl. I don’t think I’ll ever think of myself otherwise. In my head, I’m gonna be fat for life. Learning to like my fatness has always been hard, but it is getting a little easier now.
I’m close to my January weight goal with almost two weeks to go! I need to set my goals and intentions ready for February. If I prepare them now, everything will be ready to go when the new month starts. I would advise everyone to start planning now.

Thanks for reading this far and I’ll see you next week!