Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Great Adventure

This weekend I went on "The Great Adventure". It was a women's retreat at church. It was 9 ½ hours over a day and half. The title told me I would be involved in something bigger and grander, more important and extreme. It would be more significant, lasting longer. An adventure made me think of an exciting or extraordinary series of events. An undertaking involving uncertainty and risk. When I signed up for this retreat I never imagined where it would take me. I never dreamed it would challenge me to look at an area in my life that needed some serious attention. The title certainly lived up to its billing. I had to face issues I didn't want to face. Dealing with feelings daily, hourly, minute by minute.

I have been dealing with the same issues in my Back on Track program. So I guess in a sense you could say I had a jump start on the adventure I faced this weekend. I have been intensely learning to deal with feelings over the last 2 months. I used food to deal with feelings in the past. I tried to handle them on my own. Well throughout the BOT program and this weekend I discovered I cannot handle them on my own. I have to face them with God's support. I have to turn my will over to Him. Me, someone who has to be in control all the time and be perfect at it, has to allow God to take over and I has to accept my imperfection. I have talked about this in the last few blogs. That is because it is forefront in my thoughts. It is where I am at this time in my life's journey.

I have a person or two who thinks I put too much stock in my weight loss surgery procedure. They think I was fed a line and was set up with a smoke screen that didn't pan out. I on the other hand do not feel that way at all. Each step I've taken in this journey for the last 20½ months have been filled with challenges, disappointments, frustrations, blessings and rewards beyond my imagination. I knew it wouldn't be easy. I didn't know it would be so hard. And I never dreamed it would challenge me to look at myself and my relationships with friends, family, co-workers, and God. I just thought it would assist me to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle. Instead it challenged me to rethink my entire life; my reason for existence and my process of living. It became The Great Adventure I never dreamed of taking, but it has been worth every step of the journey. It's just now I know I don't have to take it alone. Yes, I have to do the work, but I have God to call upon to face the feelings, face the challenges of healthy eating and face the uncertainty of the next bite, the next step, the next leap and the next fall. See, that is the process of life regardless of if you have had weight loss surgery or not. God has to be the center; the support beam of the process.

So God, take me through the great adventure! Show me the extreme, significant, grander, extra ordinary, uncertain series of life's long lasting thrills of living in you. Give me the fortitude to face the fears and willingness to accept the joys of this adventure called life. Give me the freedom to face the feelings and live through them and not hide them in food or in the back of my mind or under the mistaken belief they will hurt me. Help me to live beyond the food, the "diet", the "obsession" of what, when, how much, how little and how often. Help me to become comfortable in my skin. Let your light shine through. This doesn't mean everyday will be bright and happy, full of smiles and glee. There will be days of frustration and doubt, fear and anxiety. Happiness is just a fleeting instance, but joy is a lasting state of mind. Let me be joyful in the good and the bad. Both result in growth. Help me see my life isn't just about weight loss, but daily experiences. Lead me through this Great Adventure.

"Every road that's traveled teaches something new."
     ~Amy Grant~


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Lessons Learned

Here are some random phrases and thoughts to mark my progress in the last 6 weeks. I started the Back on Track Program with Ronda at IWLS six weeks ago. I have finished it with FANTASTIC results! I not only lost weight, but gained my lifestyle of choice back! I have new habits and a positive outlook again! The formal program may be finished, but the end result has just begun.


"So much of my anguish is caused by my own resistance." ~Pam Vredevelt~ "Angel Behind The Rocking Chair". I think of my resistance to change. I resisted giving up my favorite foods for years. Then I had surgery. Then I gave up those foods for about a year. Then I got back into the habit of eating them again and eating for all the wrong reasons. I resisted changing those habits for about 8 months. I was in such anguish over the non-progress I was in because of that resistance. Well, over the last month I have gotten back on track and am in such a better place mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. I had to stop resisting what I didn't want to face.


"The growth process is a series of advances and retreats". Being a perfectionist has hindered my ability to take 2 steps forward and then accept the one step backwards. Through this last 6 weeks I have learned I don't have to have "all or nothing". Sometimes I just have to accept the status quo and even at times less. I know I will revert back to the perfectionist mentality at times, but I think I have gained a foundation to be able to step back (retreat) and reassess at a healthier level in order to advance. I will do this by using the tools my weight loss surgery has given me, the tools God provides for me through others, medical avenues and knowledge. There is no bag of tricks with this process. This knowledge I have gained is only another tool I must use properly and consistently in order to be healthy. For many years I tried by my own will power and made no lasting progress. God provides outside himself through many other avenues and I have to use what he provides to assist me to succeed. He is the ultimate worker of miracles. Weight loss for me was a miracle because I had tried everything for over 20 years. But I have to participate in the miracle to make it happen. God fills the jar with wine, but I have to bring the jars to Him to fill. God healed the sick, but the sick had to be willing to come to him and ask for healing and believe. God provided the tools for surgery such as financial means, determination, IWLS, etc. Now I must use those tools to the best of my abilities. Of course the biggest tool is God himself, but I have to tap into Him. "Wisdom is the application of knowledge" ~Helen Kaitlyn Barclay~


"Emotional eating has nothing to do with food." It is not about the food anymore. It is about recapturing happy memories, feeling safe, loved and having it together. I have relied on emotional eating most of my life. This is why we call certain foods "comfort foods". It got to a place where it no longer felt comfortable. I no longer felt comfortable being in my own skin. Now I have the knowledge to discern between natural hunger and emotional hunger. This isn't to say it still isn't my preference to rely on the food for that comfort, but I have learned new habits to rely on God for that comfort, that fulfillment and that power to overcome the emotional fill of food. At times "discernment is like driving an automobile at night; the headlights cast only enough light for us to see the next small bit of road immediately in front of us. But that light is enough to take us home." (from "Listening Hearts")


Wishing is safe and tidy. I can wish for success and wrap that wish in a neat little package to myself. I have to desire that wish to evolve. I pray God will give my desire feet. Unless I am willing to put forth the effort and run the race and strive for the goal, it is only a wish, and will never become a reality. Sometimes that race isn't tidy. Sometimes it is hard and dirty work. Discipline is required. Discipline is a long distance race. I am in it for the long haul!


In the wings waits a new life. I took the steps to retain that life through weight loss surgery 20 ½ months ago. Also by participating in Back on Track with Ronda at IWLS. But most importantly by finding the "wind beneath my wings" in the breath of God's love. Now is the time to grow, retreat and advance; use the wisdom and tools God has provided and discern where He is leading me in this journey. I have a grip back on the important things in life. Food is not it. People are. Goals are. Progress is. Wishing is safe, but my desire has to have feet running towards the dream and I must wish beyond the concept and put forth the effort and daily application of the knowledge God has given me. I put these tasks in the hands of God as He leads me towards my ultimate goals!


Living in the light is one of the most difficult tasks we have.

It means getting out of the way so there is no shadow blocking the source.

~Luci Swindoll~


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Progress Can Be “Painful”

Sometimes frustration and success go hand in hand.  The last 5 weeks I have been working with Ronda at IWLS (Innovative Weight Loss Solutions) on a program called "Back on Track" (BOT).  It is an intense 6 week program to get the bariatric weight loss patient back on track; although it would work for the non-bariatric person as well. I had wandered so far off track I was lost in old habits.  Eating had become out of control.  Ronda told me this program would get me back where I needed to be.  She also told me it had a lot of documentation.  Boy, she didn't lie.  She failed to emphasize it would also involve a lot of honesty and soul searching.  This program has you setting goals, changing habits, establishing and enhancing your exercise program and reestablishing your eating.  Let me tell you about my progress in this program.

Over the last 3 weeks I have completely over-hauled my eating.  I have cut my portion sizes back to the proper proportions.  I was eating 2-3 portion sizes and now am back to one portion.  It is easy to get out of control.  A portion of meat (3oz) easily becomes 3 portions (12oz).  Just take a chicken breast for example.  I would eat a chicken breast and call it a portion.  Once I weighed it, I discovered it was averaging 9-12oz a chicken breast.  There lies America's dilemma.

I have weighed, measured and counted for the last 3 weeks.  I have planned menus and been diligent in being conscious about my eating.  This week has been a challenge.  For the 1st 2 weeks I was eating protein and non-starchy vegetables only.  This week I was allowed to put other things back into my diet.  So I sat down and read my material for the week and quickly became frustrated.  I will share a little of my week's observations and feelings with you.  I will rely on my journaling to take you inside my thinking and feelings.

Jennifer (dietician) says I need to eat more food because my calorie count is too low for the amount of exercising I do.  I don't feel tired or exhausted.  Dr Hachem wants me to take in less than 1000 calories and Ronda has allotted me 1200 calories.  Jennifer suggests 1200.  I have to keep my fat count, carb count and protein count at a certain percentage in regards to my calorie intake.  If I add certain foods they may trigger a gain or cravings, but I am now allowed some of those foods.  Jennifer tells me as I add these foods my calorie intake will increase, which is what she is looking for.  I on the other hand want to continue to lose weight so I fear adding these foods.  It has become a catch 22 situation that had become very frustrating to me.  I wrote, "Some days being fat was so much easier.  Do I increase calories?  Do I not increase calories?  How do I increase calories without increasing fat and carbs?  How do I take in more calories when I am already eating more often than I want?  How do I keep within portion sizes and increase the calories?  Too many questions for my brain!  Before I was eating wrong, now I'm still eating wrong.  Maybe there are no answers."  As I gave up for the day and went with the status quo and allowed myself to feel the frustration, journal instead of eating (my old habit was to eat past the "crisis") and think about what was going on in my head.  I was able to settle down.  I slept on the "problem".  I knew giving up was not an option and I would have to adjust something.  I woke up with an entirely different perspective.  I realized part of the problem was my perfectionist nature of all or nothing.  A thought popped into my head.  One word—TRUST.  I needed to trust God first.  I needed to trust the Back on Track program.  I needed to trust Ronda, Jennifer and myself.  I needed to trust it would get better with time if I just followed the program.  Just hang on and get past this "bump in the road".  I don't have to be perfect ALL the time.  Some days I will fall short.   This is true with anything in life, not just eating.

I do feel like I am back on track.  I have made great progress in weight, eating and new habits.  I have thrown off old habits that I latched onto again after a year of surgery.  Yes, I know there will come a day I will eat beyond only proteins and non-starchy vegetables.  As that time comes I will have to make choices from things that got me back in trouble 9 months ago.  I pray for the wisdom.  I also pray I lean on my new habits.  BOT has broken the cycle of craving carbs.  It has broken the cycle of eating out of control.  As I add some of those carb foods (fruit, grains, cereal, wheat pasta, milk, yogurt, etc) I will monitor its effects on my cravings and weight.  I will stay on top of everything this time and NOT take the 1st bite of the "forbidden foods" (sweets, desserts, crackers, white breads,
etc.)  It was those forbidden foods I knew I should never have taken the 1st bite of that got me in the dark pit I was in.  As my appetite returns and increases I will have to eat because I am hungry and not because I am bored or don't want to deal with a certain feeling.  That is part of my new habits I have formed during BOT.  Right now I rarely feel hungry.  I am in the infancy stage, like right after surgery. I eat by clock to keep my metabolism up. Adding certain foods will push me into another stage, just like after surgery.  When I am ready to move forward I will do it wisely and with the knowledge I have gained over the last 5 weeks.  It all comes down to wise choices!  This is true for anyone, not just the weight loss patient.  It just seems I am more focused than the average person.  I want to be healthy and that requires a conscious effort to be such.  If it didn't need to use a conscious effort, I would never have been overweight to start with.

In essence, thank you God, BOT, Ronda and my diligence to succeed and be as healthy as I can be.    


"To Hear with my heart, to see with my soul

To be guided by a hand I cannot hold

To trust in a way that I cannot see

That's what faith must be."

     ~Michael Card~

"That's What Faith Must Be"