Monday, January 26, 2009

Old "Friends" are hard to lose

How do you learn to be positive when things aren’t moving as you envisioned? I received an email from a friend that was frustrated because things aren’t going as she wished. I’ve talked to some people lately that are disheartened because they can’t seem to get past the past, get away from the old habits, and/or stay committed to the plan. Yes, this can be frustrating and lead to temptations you wish you could stay away from. I’m no expert in this, but I do have some things I do to boost my spirit, my will power and my vision.

I remember before surgery I would have “wallowed” in food. It was amazing what 2 really good friends; Little Debbie and Suzy Q could do for my spirits; albeit short lived. I could always rely on swimming in the luxury of chocolate gemettes or as some call them “suicide donuts”. Who could pass up the soothing of a big ‘ole glass of milk and a stack of Oreo cookies? Boredom could always be remedied by the close friend Chester Cheeto. I could always be cheered up with a Snicker. When I felt low about life’s blows such as finances I could depend on a 100,000 dollar bar. Any situation that didn’t “feel” right could be handled with a little chewing. Well, I guess now I still chew, but not by physically moving my jaws. Yes I still fall into the chewing thinking. I’m a little more intelligent with my choices though. Now instead of a pastry I have an apple or orange or some type of fruit. Instead of chips I have beef jerky, cottage cheese, a hard boiled egg or a few Triscuits and some cheese. I have to watch myself closely to make sure I don’t fall into the “grazing” habit.

Usually I try to focus on other avenues. That is what I mean when I say I still chew, but not physically. The fastest means to guide myself out of the old habits is to look at my goals, my wish list, my grateful list and my progress journal. These have become incentives and spirit boosters for me. I think of how much better my health is. I look at what I can do now that I couldn’t do 6 months ago. I check out the size of my pants, shirts, bras, underwear, coats, etc. Even the looseness of my watch, bracelets and ring can bring things into perspective. I call it positive outlook. I view things on a need basis. If I think I want to invite “Famous Dave” (greasy Bar-B-Que) over for lunch or eat the plate of ginger cookies, I think in the realm of “Do I need it?” That in itself will provide the answer I need to walk away and not rely on my will power alone. When “will power” isn’t enough, look to your “want power”. What do you want most? Imagine the benefits of your wants. I want to be healthier. I want to be able to do things I didn’t used to be able to do. I want to look better. The list is endless. First you have to make the list. This may take time and a lot of thinking, analyzing and truthful soul searching, but it will be worth every second you spend. Those seconds spent on making that list to refer to in your moment of weakness may be the seconds of salvation in that moment of weakness. This can relate to any area of life, not just eating.

I envision what will happen if I give into that “want”. I have several friends who do not understand the mind frame of someone who relied on food for fulfillment other than for nutrition value. They say, “Oh a little nibble won’t make a difference.” They are right. A little nibble won’t make a difference, but history tells me a little nibble is not in my vocabulary. So I know if I give into that ‘want” and have a little nibble it will most likely lead to a big bite and then a habit. So I do not tempt myself, but love myself enough to say and believe; I do not need it. Therefore a habit does not have a toe hold on me. I know this may seem simplistic and it is, but it is not always easy. Yes, sometimes I fail. Not usually by eating something I shouldn’t, but by eating when I don’t need to. At that point I rely back on my vision, and find that spirit boosting “thing” that will help me grab my bootstraps and yank myself out of the muck. Sometimes that may be my lists, my friends, my God, my support system or a personal pep talk. One and all work! I don’t beat myself up for a slip. I look at it as I once read, “they are instances of living”.

Many people know I loved Sonic’s cherry vanilla limeade or cherry vanilla Dr. Pepper. I had my last one (of each) June 20, 2008. I started the Optifast diet for prepping for surgery on June 21st. Well, since surgery I have wanted one of either and both. I think I have a high enough tolerance of sugar to be able to enjoy them. I also know I won’t have the will power to only have one now and then. If I have the 1st one I will have another 1st one every day. Therefore I don’t even go there. I would be lying if I said I am not tempted to have one and take my chances. But I also can truthfully say I talk myself out of it every time that nasty want bug infests my thinking. With the help of prayer, diverted thinking and progress vision I have not given that bug room to grow. I am amazed at a year ago food was my main focus. My focus was centered on what I was going to eat, how I was going to get it and when I would get to eat. Now my focus is on other avenues of fulfillment and food isn’t as appealing to me. I know I am still in the “honeymoon” phase. That is why I am working hard to set my routines, habits, thinking and lifestyle on the positive side.

So to revisit my initial question-how do you learn to be positive when things aren’t moving as you envisioned? Envision your initial reason(s) - your reason for wanting or having surgery or whatever goal you wanted to accomplish. Assess your progress. Assess the process to get to that goal. Re-evaluate your needs and draw a map to reach that goal. The road to success is never easy, but it is certainly fulfilling. The journey may seem long, so make the small steps 1st. You can’t overtake a staircase in one leap. Each step must be walked and experienced. It makes the journey so much easier and more appreciated.

Now that it is the last week of January I challenge you to look at the goal(s) you set for 2009. If you haven’t set any yet, I encourage you to do it now. It is never too late to set a new goal. Assess your progress and have at it. If you’ve accomplished a goal, pat yourself on the back. This is a neat self booster! Reward yourself with something non-food; like a new shirt, a new CD, a massage, a book, time spent with a friend or anything you can imagine and would enjoy. If you’ve abandoned your goal and it is still a valid goal, grab it by the neck and hold on tight. Hug it close to yourself and feel it in your soul and work hard to attain it. I wish you luck in this journey called life. But remember, we make our own luck by hard work, God’s blessings and the supporting people we surround ourselves with.

"Those who trust to chance must abide by the results of chance."
~Calvin Coolidge~

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

From size to size

Yesterday I came home from the “Y” and announced to mom and dad “this is the last time I am going to wear this coat.” Mom said, “Too big?” I said, “Yes! And it is very frustrating.” You see I have been wearing a coat I couldn’t even get zipped last winter. It is a 3XL. It has become so big the pockets are close to the knees. So I put on another coat I tried to wear last winter and couldn’t get zipped. It is a 2XL. It too is too big. Not as frustrating as the 3XL though. You see these 2 coats have been my favorite coats and I hated to give them up, but too big is too big. There comes a time when too big becomes cumbersome and frustrating. So mom pulled out a spare coat of hers. I bought her a new coat for Christmas so she hasn’t been wearing this one. Well, I am now wearing it and it is an XL. It fits nicely and I can zip it as well. So I hope it will take me through this winter and next year I will invest in a new coat, hopefully even smaller!

Now to move on to the pants!

Surgery does not cure obesity; it just gives us tools to battle it.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Insights to Inspire

The following are some insights I have gained over the last week. I thought I would share them with you. Stop and think about what they are saying. I think they will help you take on that new goal you had your sights on for 2009.

1. Progress doesn't happen overnight. It is a process.
2. Most of the time, change does not happen overnight.
3. Give yourself permission to fail, learn from mistakes and try again.
4. Baby steps will get you to the finish line.
5. Allow it to be a process - with ups and downs - until you get to your finish line.
6. Adjust your expectations so that you give yourself the space to improve over time.

This week has been an enlightening week for me. From several people at several different times and several different places I kept hearing the same things over. “There is nothing left to hug.” “You are vanishing before my eyes.” “You look so different.” “You look so much healthier.” “Your color is so much better.” I would always gratefully say thank you. I just wasn’t seeing it though. Yea I will admit I saw I was getting smaller, but I see the change on a daily basis, so it just doesn’t appear as noticeable to me. Well, today I was walking into the Olive Garden for lunch with a very special dear friend. The sun was at my back and my shadow was in front of me. I could actually see my head and body outline was smaller than I remember it being. I gave my friend a picture of myself. She asked when it was taken. I told her the 1st of November. She said, “You have already changed. You need to have them done every month.” I laughed and told her I couldn’t afford that. So I guess she will just have to live with this particular picture. I want to go back and find a picture I have of me from 1982 that I am particularly fond of and compare it to today.

The only frustration I have at this point is the belly isn’t decreasing in proportion to my face and neck. Therefore I am having to take my own advice from the insights I put at the top of this posting. I have to be patient and realize it is a process and it will have both ups and downs, but the end result will eventually come as long as I adjust my expectations and adjust my strategy according to the progress within the process. There are so many areas of life this philosophy takes place (financially, spiritually, emotionally, physically and most certainly mentally).

I had my 6 month check up with my surgeon (Dr. Hachem). His goal for me 3 months ago was to lose 25 pounds. Well, I did!!! I did not make it to my 30 pound goal I set for myself, but I am still proud of myself. My BMI is officially out of the morbid obese category and into the Obese II category. I will continue to work on it until I can get into the overweight category. I doubt I will ever make it into anything lower than the overweight because of my height. I don’t think I will feel good at less than my target weight. We will reevaluate when I get there. I also told Dr Hachem I had decided on a reward when I get below 200 pounds. He skeptically asked what that would be. I’m sure he expected me to say something about going out to eat and splurging on whatever I might want. Well, I told him my reward is a day at the spa. I am going to have a massage, manicure, pedicure and facial; a day to pamper myself and reward myself for the hard work and concentrated effort over the last 6+ months. He told me to start looking for the appointment because it wasn’t far off with my progress. I figure about mid February. It will cost me an arm and leg, but I think I am worth it!!! I am looking at places here in Salina for a package deal. I have a couple of places that have been suggested to me. One place is where a friend who is a certified masseuse goes for her pampering!

I am working hard at the “Y”. I have started my new work schedule so I had to revamp my “workouts”. I go to my 1 hour water aerobics class followed by my 15-20 minute self initiated routine on Monday. Tuesday I go to the “gym” side and do my strength training and focus on the abs and upper arms. Wednesday I go to the pool and do a routine I have devised that works with the abs and upper arms and thighs. I have incorporated a simulation of biking, the arc elliptic machine, running, walking, sit ups and barbell resistance within the water. I find this routine very challenging and relaxing at the same time. On Thursday it is back to the “gym” for my strength training again. Friday I decide between the water and the gym according to how I feel. I am at the “Y” between 1 hour and 2 hours depending on what I am doing that day. It sure feels good to start my day off this way. I keep the “just do it” saying running through my head when I try to debate myself out of not going/not doing. I feel so much better after my workout. I use it as time for me and God. We chat a lot during this time. I have found it has also increased our time together and strengthened my reliance on Him. That in itself feels good.

My friend today gave me a set of ankle weights. I have wanted some, but not taken the time to go purchase them. I hope to use them to tone and strengthen my legs. I still take the elevator up stairs because my knees are still weak. I appreciate her investment in my health! Now if they just made some “miracle” something to take this belly away. I guess they have—exercise! All in due time.

Well, I hope this posting has given someone some encouragement and a new vision to plug on. Just remember progress is a process and not a one step leap. The baby steps get you to the goal. Set the goal, set the rewards and work on it bit by bit. Give yourself permission to fail because sometimes within that failure you learn the best lessons. If you learn, it really wasn’t a failure was it? Nope, it was an unexpected step towards the goal. Improvement only happens over time. Good luck on your journey to a greater you! I know I feel so much better because of this journey.

Chocolate is God's apology for broccoli.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A resolution is not the same as a plan for success

Eleven days have passed in the New Year and we have had time to settle into 2009. I look at New Year’s resolutions and look around me. Most people I have talked to who made New Year’s resolutions have broken them. Some barely made it into 2009 before they broke them. I have talked to people who have been unable to stay on a diet, quit smoking, stop eating sweets, exercise more, etc. I asked what happened and the majority of them said they tried to quit smoking, they tried to eat less, they tried to stay away from sweets, and they tried to go exercise. I think there are many reasons why we can’t seem to keep a new year's resolution. The first reason falls in the "trying". Unless you "just do it" you won't do it. If you made a resolution thinking you would try to...… you are probably finding yourself not doing ...… Another reason I believe we don't stick to that New Year’s resolution is because we weren't committed in the 1st place. We said some words and thought in the back of our minds we would try to do...… but also knew in the back of our minds if it didn't work, "oh well, I tried." Many of us make the same resolution year after year. Some people I talked to said they didn't bother to make any because they knew they wouldn't keep it anyway. Once again there was no commitment intended from the beginning. Now I hear you say, "So DeAnn, what is your solution to the resolution flop?"

Well, I already stated the 1st solution--commitment. Is it really something you want to do? If you made the resolution because it is the "right thing to do" you probably weren't really committed in the 1st place. You have to do it because you want the outcome it will provide.

The 2nd solution is, don't make a resolution. As I told everyone, I did not make resolutions this year. I made goals. I think the biggest solution to the resolution flop is to make goals. I see resolutions as statements, but goals are steps. They are plans. You make the big goal and then make the mini sub-goals to reach those goals. This allows you to see progress without being overwhelmed with the big project. My goal when I had RNY surgery was to become healthier by eliminating some health issues I had at the time, to exercise more and exercise consistently, to lose 150 pound, and to feel better about myself. In order to reach those goals I had to have a plan in place before I had the surgery. I knew the surgery wasn’t going to magically make all those things happen. It was only going to assist my willingness and dedication to put in the sweat and work to accomplish those goals. That meant before surgery I joined the YMCA, nabbed onto a trainer, put an exercise routine into place and began doing that exercise routine. I began eating like I knew I would have to eat after surgery. I tried different foods and I began using the pouch rules before surgery. I wrote down a list of things I wanted to accomplish and figured out what it would take to initiate the fulfillment of that list. I had to realize the list would not fall into place on its own and wouldn't be a success if I didn't invest in the process. I don't "try" to exercise daily; I schedule exercise into my daily routine. Yeah, some days, life gets in the way and I miss my session, but it isn't a reason to quit the program. I just get back up the next day and start again. In the recent past I made the statement life is 2 steps forward and 1 step back. Many times it is the back and forth motion we learn the most from. So if you have "broken" that New Year’s resolution and found yourself facing the resolution flop, just recommit and make it a goal. Sit down and take a few moments to make a plan of attack and figure out the steps to the prize. You can do it. All you have to do is ”just do it". Turn your back on the "try" method and activate the "do it" method, one step at a time.

If at first you don't succeed,
relax—you are just like the rest of us!

Sunday, January 4, 2009


This week I am going to look at 2008 and list what I am grateful for. I will separate it into 2 lists actually.

One will be in reference to my weight loss journey. I had a pre-surgery list of things I wanted to do that skinny people take for granted. Some of the things on that list I have accomplished. This list also includes some other aspects of accomplishments I have had in regards to my health.

The other list is a list just of general gratitude.

Weight Loss Grateful List

  • No acidy feeling or upper discomfort after eating since surgery
  • Getting off the C-PAP machine (10/08)
  • Exercising consistently (and actually enjoying it)
  • Only occasional back pain/little stiffness
  • Only occasional joint pain
  • Positive attitude developed since surgery
  • More positive outlook since surgery
  • Depression is less and less every day
  • Renewed sparkle in my eyes
  • Joy on my face
  • Making wise food decisions
  • Doing healthy activities
  • Eating small portions
  • Cross legs
  • Tying my shoes with the bows on the top and center
  • Walked through the turnstile square forward instead of to the side to get my belly over the top
  • Getting on the floor to play with great niece and nephew
  • Being able to sit in a booth at a restaurant instead of having to have a table
  • Walking for more than 5 minutes without being out of breath
  • Clipping my toenails without being in a million contortions
  • Driving without having to suck in my belly to turn the corner
  • Crossing my arms comfortably
  • Reaching the middle of my back to scratch an itch
  • Getting on the floor to exercise
  • Zip my winter coat
  • Walk farther distance
  • Bike farther
  • Sit in the movie theatre more comfortably
  • Loss of 80 pounds in 6 ½ months

    General Grateful List

  • Loving, giving, caring, supportive, active parents
  • Freedom to do what I want (work, play, leisure, religion, etc.)
  • Home with all the utilities
  • Means and ability of transportation (financial, safety, etc.)
  • Plenty of food for nourishment
  • Medications to keep ailments in check
  • Ability to pay for my daily needs
  • Friends who are supportive
  • Bible study group that is growing closer
  • Inspiration to grow in Christ
  • Church leaders that genuinely care about the body and their willingness to serve
  • A church family that is growing in numbers and spirit
  • Sister & brother that are loving
  • Nieces & nephew that have always been there for me
  • Healthy family and friends
  • Job I enjoy and feel is a career and not just a job
  • Ability and talent to do that job in an above average capacity
  • A boss that is understanding, supportive and caring
  • Knowledge for healthy eating
  • Energy and desire to exercise regularly
  • Attitude to be positive most of the time
  • Common sense
  • Reasoning skills
  • Giving spirit
  • Good self imagine / positive self confidence
  • Good communication skills
  • Friends and family to share all these things with
  • Support staff in my weight loss
  • Support of others in my weight goals

    (I know some of these may seem like strange items to put on a grateful list, but in my career I see a lot of different aspects of life through the eyes of citizens, co-workers and “politics”. My life outside of work is strongly tied to diet, exercise, daily obligations and a new lifestyle.)

    My goal is a closer walk with God in hopes of glorifying him. That is not always easy to do on a daily basis with honest consistency. I get my inspiration from his “angels”. They are commonly known as family and friends. I have discovered a new network of friends in my Bible study group. Each week I feel a deeper connection to them. I thank God daily for their support in my life. I pray they find the same from me. I have found a spiritual inspiration in my pastor and the leaders of my church. Today for communion at church the pastor, youth minister and the 3 church leaders served the congregation. As Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, these men served us communion. I look forward to a year of growth, challenges and blessings. All within my faith, within my new lifestyle and the new healthier journey I started in Feb 2008 with the decision of weight loss surgery. That decision has changed every aspect of my life. My wish for those in my life is for 2009 to be filled with new opportunities, interesting challenges, personal growth, sufficient knowledge and decision making skills and abundant blessings.

    "It's not who you knew.
    It's not what you did.
    It's how you live."
    ~Point of Grace~