And to all a good night
Saturday, December 29, 2007
This weekend is the first weekend in over a month that we haven't had a million things to do all weekend. Ah, the holiday season. Party after party, errand after errand, all while bundling up against the cold and trying not to eat your way across America. And also not blogging, obviously.

"They" say that Americans gain an average of 5 pounds every holiday season; I think I've probably beaten that estimate pretty much every year since I was 18. Cookies are my kryptonite, and spending a month surrounded by them (and boxes of See's candy and cans of Almond Roca and cups and cups and cups of eggnog lattes) meant spending a month filling my face with them. I want to say I didn't eat any of that stuff this year. I wish I could say that I said no to every offer of dessert, that I walked by the treat table at work without ever tasting something, that I was a perfect WLS patient throughout the entire holiday season. But I can't, because I totally indulged this month, and I indulged more than once.

I did not, however, eat the pounds and pounds of cookies that I have eaten in the past. I had one or two Hershey Kisses every so often, instead of handfuls every day (because those candy cane ones are awesome). I baked 4 kinds of cookies and made rocky road fudge with my Little Sister, and I shared a couple of cookies with her while we baked. And then all the baked goods got sent out of the house, gifts for people at work. I made a kick-ass apple pie for Christmas dinner...and then skipped a slice in favor of a couple of my favorite cookies ever during the day. I broke my no alcohol rule and had a few glasses of champagne at one of my friend's parties. I drank numerous lattes but this year, they were sugar free cinnamon dolce or sugar free gingerbread lattes instead of those luscious eggnog lattes of Christmases past.

In other words, I still enjoyed myself and enjoyed the treats of the season but I did it with an awful lot of moderation. For once I didn't slip into my usual holiday stressfest habit of surviving on fast food and baked goods, and it's amazing how much better I felt through it all.

I won't lie and say that all this moderation has been easy. I still have a lot of intense guilt surrounding cookies. And Hershey Kisses. And champagne. Empty calories! Sugar! Fat! BAD FOOD! More than once I had to talk myself down off the ledge about the whole situation. I had to remind myself that I had only eaten ONE cookie, not ONE DOZEN, and that one cookie is okay as long as I'm doing everything else...the water and the protein and the vitamins and the working out. (Okay, the working out did not happen as much as it should have but hey, I was sidelined by some lovely acute bronchitis so there's no guilt there.) It helped that at least once a week, someone would load up our treat table at work with a plate of cheese and summer sausage. It was protein! And a treat! Perfection!

The hardest part was being given food gifts. A huge can of Almond Roca. A pound of See's Candy. Homemade fudge. A gift basket from Harry & David. And some of that was from people who knew I had the surgery! So the Almond Roca was regifted to my mom, who likes it as much as I do. The See's Candy was given to my Little Sister's family. The fudge and the gift basket were nibbled a little by my husband and me, then thrown away.

As whacked out as my head got, and as off kilter as my schedule and eating habits were, I survived. I survived by making a huge pot of turkey chili that was loaded with beans and protein at the beginning of the month and living off of that. I survived by making my pink salad a couple of times, and eating that for breakfast (or lunch or dinner or whatever). (Pink salad is a family recipe that is actually perfect for weight loss surgery patients...sweet and fruity and creamy but high in protein. Tastes indulgent when it's really not. Try it, you'll like it!) We're staying home for New Year's Eve, because we're socialized out. I'll cook up some Marinated Chicken Skewers from Trader Joe's, and some pink salad for me and cheesy broccoli rice for Kevin and we'll survive on that for 24 hours.

And I resolve to not feel guilty about it. Happy New Year indeed.

No more fantasies, no more excuses
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Have you read Kate Harding's entry The Fantasy of Being Thin? If you haven't, go. Read it now. I'll wait.

Done? Okay, settle in because I have Things To Say about it.

Now, we all know how I've struggled with being both a body acceptance advocate and a WLS patient; they are two things that seem 100% at odds with each other, aren't they? How can I say that I accept my body when I took the extreme measure of rearranging my intestines in order to change it? How can I tell women "Love yourself and ignore your flaws! Weight is just a stupid number!" when I keep a spreadsheet of my measurements and weight to track my losses? I am either the world's biggest hypocrite or I am very, very confused.

But here's the thing. I believe that to be successful with this surgery, to be able to not only lose the weight but develop a healthy relationship with food and exercise and all that other good for you stuff, you need to first accept your body for what it is. You need to look in the mirror and memorize every bit of it. You need to figure out what your limitations are, what your talents are, what your abilities are. And then you need to accept them and move the fuck on with living your life to the fullest.

Blunt, aren't I? Stop waiting until you are "thin enough", stop putting things off until you reach "goal". Just go out there and start seeing what you're made of. Run, dance, cook, shop, read, travel, whatever it is you want to do, stop waiting to do it, regardless of whatever size you are right this second. Because here's the cold, hard truth: you may never reach the goal weight set by your doctor. I may not either. But I'm not going to let that stop me from having a damn good time with this life of mine.

I was talking to my college roommate the other day, for the first time in over a year. And I told her about me having the surgery and she was, quite frankly, a little surprised. She wasn't the first one; a number of people who have known me for years were surprised since (in their words) I was always happy with myself and my life. It's as though there is this perception out there that you have to be miserable in life and hate yourself to do something so drastic. For me, it was the opposite. I did it out of love for myself and my body. I paid close attention to my body, and it was telling me that I was on the cusp of numerous health problems, and I saw what my body's future was every time I looked at my mother. I wanted something different than that for myself, and I needed help to get there.

Before the surgery, I did not let my weight rule my life. I didn't starve myself into a smaller sized wedding gown; I worked with what I had and I was fucking gorgeous the day I got married. I didn't shy away from meeting new people or dating prolifically, and my bed wasn't empty unless I wanted it to be. I traveled all over the country, I applied for (and got!) new, better jobs when I was bored with my old ones. I walked in 5Ks, I walked in the Breast Cancer 3-Day, I took road trips with friends. I wore high heels and red lipstick, dyed my hair whatever color fit my mood, and danced until the wee hours at bars filled with drunk coeds. And the only times I tried to lose weight were when my doctors said things to me like "high blood pressure's becoming a problem" or "your cholesterol's higher than I'd like to see it."

Here's the thing: my life today is not that different than it was before the surgery. Seriously, it's not. I have the same awesome husband and the same (usually awesome) job and the same fantastic friends. I also have the same family and the same volunteer work and the same day to day stressors. I have not magically become smarter or more popular or better in any way. And I'll tell you another thing: that is why this surgery has been so successful and so easy for me so far. I already had a life that I loved, a life that makes me happy and fulfilled and content before I lost a single damn pound.

A perfect body does not equal a perfect life, nor does it equal a perfect soul. And I don't expect to have a perfect body as a result of this surgery. I expect to have a healthier body, and already, I'm there. Can it be even better? Yeah, I think so. Every day I can push it a little harder, I can do a little more than I used to. I'm going to start running this month, something I was physically not able to do a year ago. I'm going to start running even though I'm still pudgy and soft and do not look like a runner, but I want to run so I'm going to run.

What are you going to do?