Friday, December 31, 2010

Another good year

2010 is almost over. Unbelievable.

And of course there is the usual reflection on the year past and looking forward to the year ahead. I find myself in a very different place this year, where I look back at 2010 and think that all in all, it's been an awesome year if for no other reason what the year means for the years ahead.

It's been a bit more challenging year than I might have thought. It has been challenging financially as doing the whole home business thing has not taken off like I thought it would. I'm thankful to have found work with a great employer, but that too is challenging because while it's a steady income I also know there's so much more out there.

And yet I find myself so much more optimistic about what lies ahead because of the past year. I'm back in school, albeit for probably a long time, and actually able to keep up. Balancing the time between classes, job and family is more of a challenge than I expected but it's gone well.

And of course, there's an amazing sense of energy I feel from just... feeling better. As of this morning I'm at 304.9 pounds. I haven't been this light in 5 years, and I'm incredibly close to being the lightest I've been in more than 17 years. Honestly the earliest I remember weighing myself would be about 1993 after making a career change, I remember being over 300 then. I know I gained a lot of my weight through the 80's, and probably went over 300 pounds... maybe around 1992 or so? So about the time I hit 298 I'll be the lightest I've been in over 18 years... that's a pretty amazing feeling.

In some ways I feel this sadness just for maybe what was lost in that time. I mean, I don't know that I'd say anything specifically was lost... how do I put this? I think it's just this looking back over those years and how I viewed myself maybe. Maybe it's the years of lost energy. I look at a lot of those years as being very discouraged. That all wasn't just around my weight, there were many other factors involved, but I also would be wrong to say that weight didn't maybe enhance how I felt about other factors.

At my last checkup a couple of weeks ago, I was asked if I wanted to be on the patient panel at any of the presentation/seminars coming up. Evidently they're pretty pleased with my progress at the doctor's office. I'd lost 60 pounds since my very first visit in April. I do feel good about the fact I'd lost 20 of those pounds by the time I had surgery, and I'm really glad I did that because it helps me feel like there's more than just the surgery involved here, you know? But I do find myself being very ready to be an advocate because the truth is the surgery has played a major role in this success, both before and after.

I think in the end it's a number of things. First of all there was a great deal of encouragement in figuring out that my journey has not been that abnormal after all. Maybe getting to where I was at may not be in the norm, but the fact is once you get to this point there's almost no going back (and staying there) on your own. As I started to look at a future where this weight could be kept off, that energized me in the months leading up to the surgery. And in the end I think it's become exactly what was explained at the seminar way back then: The surgery is not a magic pill. I look with some amount of pride at all the miles I've walked since then and all the extra activity I've engaged in since then, knowing that that's had a major role in where I am now. And I know it will have a major role in where I will be by this time next year. I've quoted this in the past I think: This surgery has leveled the playing field. It's made it where diet and exercise have a chance now to make a difference. My energy and enthusiasm for doing the things I need to do to get back to a healthier me have increased tremendously. My attitude is so much better than it's been in a long, long time.

So yes, I find myself saying that if anyone is in a position where such a surgery is a consideration, consider it! Do what it takes to get healthy again. It's so worth it.

I guess that means that I'd be glad to be on the panel.

Getting back to the whole new year thing... maybe the best illustration for how I look ahead comes with the snow we had yesterday and this morning. I was actually looking forward to going out and shovelling because of the exercise it allows... I don't know that I ever could have said that. And I'm seeing another shift in myself as well. I've mentioned before that I have chosen to walk over riding the bus because of that exercise. It's becoming more than that now... it's more than just doing so because it will help me lose weight. I find myself enjoying the activity just... for the activity.

So there's a new enthusiasm, a new energy going into this year that I've never had. I feel healthier physcially, mentally, and spiritually than I've felt in a long, long time. And that has me pretty excited about what the new year has to offer. It's been an awesome year, but... nothing like the year to come!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Walking and such

It is interesting how perspectives change. And they don't seem to stop changing.

One of the best things for me from an exercise standpoint has been the commute to work. I take the bus to the light rail, ride that in, then there is a shuttle that I can take the last mile into work. When I get off work the shuttle is already done for the night, so that means a walk to the light rail. This is where in the past it's been a bit inconvenient because the timing of when the light rail arrives is about 5 minutes after my bus leaves, and the next bus does not come by for nearly two hours.

As time has gone on, I've tended to bypass the shuttle into work and have chosen to walk, at least when time has permitted. I've rather frequently turned down offers for a ride into the light rail after work. And then I've gotten to where instead of waiting for the bus for so long, I'd much rather walk home from the light rail station, slightly more than 3 miles.

And being lighter, I find myself more interested in walking now than before. I find myself now not so bothered by the bus schedule and somewhat glad for it. I find myself enjoying the walk, and walking is so much easier. There are times I think, I could so easily bust out into a jog. To a certain extent I'm having to really hold back on that as i'm liking not having my knees hurt and after my last episode of trying jogging, i messed up my knee enough that I think I still need to lose a lot more before trying again. Yes, i'm 40-60 pounds lighter than last time I tried, but...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving was definitely different

For Thanksgiving dinner we had 13 people. We have China for 12. So we put a salad plate at my setting. After passing around the food my smaller plate still looked rather empty, and when I was full there was still food on the plate.

That's good and bad. Mostly good. I ate slowly, thoroughly enjoyed every bite and didn't feel hungry. I do have to admit a big part of me (no pun intended but appropriate all the same) wished very badly that I had more room for food as some of it just tasted soooooooo good that I didn't want to stop. Thus the big part of me is probably much of the reason it's a big me, eh?

Now the nice thing was being able to go back later to eat. I couldn't eat as much but I could eat more often and not feel stuffed to the gills. And here it is Tuesday after and I'm already down. Total today: 318.

I find myself wondering if I can make 300 by January 1. I don't know if that would be pushing it too much or burning myself out. I think it's doable given a lot of exercise.

I've written before about being able to track exercise with my phone in the past. I just switched phones recently and have an Epic, one of those android phones. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that phone!!! Anyway, there are a ton of free applications out there for the phone, and there are many of them that are perfect for getting you going on exercise. A fantastic free application is one called Cardiotrainer. If you have an android phone, I highly recommend it.

Cardiotrainer does a number of things. It will track your exercises including measuring your walks or runs. It calculates the calories you burn and tracks those for you. It posts a little medallion on the home page of your phone telling you how many calories you've burned today. It will post your workouts over to Google Health, and will post them to your facebook page if you wish. It even tell you how you rank in miles compared to others using the application. At one point I was in the top 500 out of nearly 600,000 people.

There's a cute little widget they put out at Thanksgiving. It's a picture of a turkey that posts on your phone screen. You have 3000 calories to work off. As you burn calories pieces of the turkey disappear, and then when you've burned all 3000 calories there's nothing but bones left on the picture. It's a clever little motivation thing.

One thing that comes with having lost weight is that I feel more like getting out and walking. As I ride the light rail and bus to and from work, when I am coming home many nights instead of catching the bus from the nearest light rail station I decide to walk the 3 miles home. It all depends on how early I have to get up or how cold, not to mention how far away the bus is. It started with having half hour waits for the bus and deciding that if I have to be outside waiting anyway, I might as well use that time walking. Then I realized that with a good pace I could do the walk in 45 minutes (or wait 30 minutes and ride for 5-10). Some nasty weather nights have cut into that a bit, but today is nice and sunny.

And, it's about time to go to work. My phone and Cardiotrainer app await!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Another month, another10

This morning's weigh in: 321. That's 72 total or 42 since the surgery in 8 weeks. I have before and during pictures that I'll have to post soon.

I had my first 'fill' a week ago. Basically the way that works is they put the band around your stomach, and due to all the rustling around and such that creates swelling which tightens around the top of the stomach thus creating a small space where food gathers. As swelling goes down, it's almost like things are back to nomal. The band is adjustable though, meaning they can inject saline solution into the band and that adjusts whatever pouch there is. since then there's been a noticable difference in what I can eat, which is a good thing.

Ihave to run in a bit, but one closing comment. The other day I was out walking and had my backpack with my laptop and some books, and thinking about how heavy that thing was. Then it dawned on me, not that long ago I was carrying a lot more extra weight. I can definitely feel the difference, and it feels good. No regrets so far!

Monday, October 18, 2010

And finally! 60!!!

I finally crashed through the 60 pound barrier after what, a year and a half of this blog? Longer than that I think. 333. Okay, about 3.5 pounds in 2.5 weeks, that's not exactly crashing through now is it? More like flooping through ( i know, that's not a word... but it works).

Having said that I feel very encouraged all the same. I continue to feel good, continue to feel energy, continue to enjoy how I feel. The other night I was riding the bus home, there's a spot where the bus stops on that run for a 20 minute period. I decided to get out and use the 20 minutes to walk because that just seemed better to me than waiting. The bus driver gave me a bit of a funny look when he picked me up a mile or so down the road.

So far solid foods are going well. I'm enjoying getting a normal variety of foods though soetimes it's tough focusing mostly on protein. In some ways it's like I'm back on Atkins as most food I eat is meat or cheese or something of the sort.

I've been down the last week with a cold, at the same time working like crazy getting my first academic paper in 24 years finished and turned in, so I've not gotten in the exercise I should. I still chooseto walk as much as possible as opposed to riding the shuttle in to work, so on the days I'm wrking I get in a couple miles, usually at a pretty good clip.

It's a slow, steady progress. So I can look at it two ways. One is that it's toooooo slow and steady, I want it to go faster. Or I can say wow, I'm the lightest I've been in 6 years, and look at the fact that I've broken another 10 pound barrier....

What do I choose?

Woooooooohoooooooooooooo!!!!!!!

Friday, October 1, 2010

After a week of soft food

It's now been 2 weeks. Actually 2 weeks and a day. I continue to feel good and recovery seems to go well. Actually to this point I've not really experienced any real side effects to the surgery and have felt fairly good the whole time.

It has now been a week of soft foods, and I must say that soft foods are a heck of a lot better than a liquid diet. Things such as tuna and yogurt feel a lot more like real food, albeit in very small quantities.

The weight loss has slowed some. In a week's time I lost a total of 5 pounds, quite a bit slower than the week before, but still a very good pace. With the soft foods, I'm averaging probably right at 1000 calories a day if not less, which is not very much. The key is to try to get as much of those calories in protein as possible, and getting a lot of protein in small amounts like I have to can be tricky. They want me to be getting 60-80 grams of protein per day, and so far I've done pretty well at that.

My wife and I went out to eat today for the first time since the surgery. Eating out is a totally different experience now. There are all the sides that go with your food and you can maybe just touch them. For example there was clam chowder soup, and I maybe had 4 or 5 bites of that. Most of that was because I wanted to save room for the chicken I was getting. I know, chicken's not exaclty soft food, but it went down fairly well, with a LOT of chewing anyway. So I ended up taking home half the chicken and leaving most of the soup and vegetables untouched. That's the challenge when there's only abuot 4 ounces you can put away. The waitress looked at me rather funny when we were done like, what's wrong with the food??? In some ways it seems like a waste of money now to eat out though. Unless the food's just THAT good, you know? Still, I think it was a good experience.

So far, so good


Thursday, September 23, 2010

One week - Soft food!!!!

It's already been a week. I've made it thruogh the liquid diet phase. Woohoo!!!

Sooooo.... here's how I stand from a week ago:

341.6 pounds, down 11.4
Neck 19.25 inches - the same
Chest 57.75 inches - down 1 inch (down 2 inches from when I started this blog)
Waist 58.75 inches - down a quarter inch (down 3/4 inches from when I started this blog)
Hips 49 inches - the same (down 3.5 inches from when I started this blog)
Thigh 31 inches - the same.

I have put the scale up - so I won't know what I weigh now until next thursday when I pull it down again.

Did I mention the liquid diet is over?

Now it's soft foods for 2 weeks. I can have things like yogurt, scrambled eggs, pudding (no sugar of course), tuna. 5-6 small meals (4 ounces) per day. I still need to get in 60 grams of protein but now I can do it with real food rather than protein shakes (which get pretty nasty tasting after awhile).

I had my one week checkup which was more or less weigh me - they say I've lost 20 since pre-op, which was a week before the surgery. I think the pre-op thing was a bit high - but then of course I'd just eaten a fair sized meal right before - it was kind of my last hurrah at a buffet... so there were a few pounds of padding. So maybe based on my weight the morning of preop instead I'm thinking maybe the total would be 15 or 16 instead of 20.... but if they want to insist on 20, I'll take that.

It just dawned on me.... it's now been more than 50 pounds since I started this blog not quite 2 years ago. Wow. Looking forward to when i can say 100!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

One day away from soft food.

My instructions actually say soft foods can start today, but I've got my post-op appointment tomorrow as well as soft foods class, so I'm going to hold out one more day to be on the safe side.

I continue to feel good. The shoulder aches off and on but nothing unbearable. If I knew that my shoulder would act weird like this would I have still done the surgery? In a heartbeat. If it must be a trade off, so be it, it's better than all the knee pain and such that I've had in the past year.

I got out for a good walk yesterday - took the 40 mph couch potato (the greyhound) along and went pretty leisurely - let the dog sniff around a lot more than usual while out walking. It felt really, really good. I just noticed that I'm not limping even slightly any more, I feel like I can walk pretty normal, and my knee doesn't catch while climbing steps. All very good, positive signs.

I'm thinking I should have looked more into the options for protein powders and tasted more different kinds. This stuff is some kind of mango flavor or something like that and when I checked it out to begin with it wasn't that bad. I guess it's still not too bad but, let me just say.... I'm going to be really glad when I start getting my protein through food again. The flavor has definitely gotten old on me.

I read somewhere I should hide the scale, only weigh myself every week or two. I'm considering it... okay, I suppose there's value to it. It is exciting though to see the weight dropping daily. I'm down to 346 already, a good 7 pounds from my pre-surgery weight. Sometimes I think I see a difference already in the mirror, but then I wonder if it's because I'm expecting to. Maybe the biggest test of whether there's a visual difference is when I go back to work Friday - people there haven't seen me since Tuesday, so if tehre's a real noticable difference I may hear about it then.

I feel like i'm already ready to get back to work... recuperating around the house gets boring after awhile.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Before I get much further: Before shot!



This is me, night before the surgery. Weight at that time, 353.




One barrier gone

My weight this morning: 349!!! That's a barrier I haven't been through in a few years.

I feel good. I did discover one side effect though: Shoulder pain of all things. My left shoulder was hurting as though I'd sprained it or something. I'd heard something mentioned to someone else while at the hospital about shoulder pain, so I did some research. Turns out that there are nerves in the diaphragm that are connected somehow to nerves in the shoulder. So if the diaphragm is hurting, it's the shoulder that says ouch.

Kinda weird huh?

One thing I read from a few people on forums is that they've used this as an early warning system of sorts. If they're getting to where they've overdone it or are close to doing so, they start to get a little gas right there in the diaphragm and the shoulder starts to ache.

I had just taken a drink of yogurt, possibly a bit too quickly and was feeling kind of full when the shoulder pain flared up, so it all makes sense. I'm okay with that though.... rather have an achy shoulder than be puking my guts out because I overdid it. Of course the key is not to overdo it so much eh?

Wondering how soon I break through to 340. I'm guessing.... a week from Monday? We'll see...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Day 2 - all these liquids

Today is my second full day on the lap band. I feel good.

My last prescription pain med was at midnight last night. At 10 I took some liquid ibuprofen and haven't had anything since and still have managed to feel pretty decent. So I think that I'm recovering pretty well on this.

Probably the biggest challenge on this is just keeping up with all the liquid stuff. My vitamins are all liquid. My fish oil is liquid -- yep, good ol cod liver oil. My protein is liquid. I'm having an easy time so far getting liquids down and can drink in 1-2 ounce amounts pretty well. It's just a challenge getting all this stuff down, especially when the liquid vitamins are not so tasty. The liquit protein shake gets old pretty quick as well.

I am glad the liquid diet phase is not a long one. Especially when everyone's getting to enjoy my wife's cooking but me. I have been able to branch into drinkable yogurt, a little milk, and even a sugar free popsicle.

Something very interesting about all this is that the day of surgery I got home and weighed about 6 pounds more than when I left. I may have mentioned that. But today with starting to get into a routine including the protein and such, that's allowing me to start getting the metabolism going. As of tonight I'm back to where I was the morning of surgery. I'm half way expecting to see myself break through the 350 mark by tomorrow. From there on, who knows eh?

I know, pretty boring post. Nice thing about this surgery recovery thing is I'm able to stay at home and not go in to work, meaing I can sit around and watch some football. That's always a good thing, yes?

Even though the protein and vitamin stuff are a bit awful tasting, I will have to admit that the whole liquid diet is not as bad as I first expected. That said, I'm looking forward to being able to get into soft foods in another few days.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Lapband - 1 day... and counting

So here it is day one, life with a lapband.

Nothing exciting to report, which is a good thing. I still feel pretty good all things considered. There's still that dull ache where everything was done, but nothing that is difficult to live with.

I wish I'd grown accustomed in the past to sleeping on my back. I'm not too accustomed to it and right now that's about the only way I can sleep - If I try to lay on my side gravity goes to work and that causes some hurt.

I've gone up and down the steps a lot, such as using hte restroom etc. I'm surprised how easy it is to do so. I guess it's like a lot of things, just... surprised how well it's gone.

Okay, so far I've probably gained a pound since yesterday morning. I think from the IV bag and all the fluids and so far very little or no metabolism since I had pretty much nothing yesterday until after surgery. Walking around and getting my protein in will get that going here shortly.

Mixing liquid vitamins into a glass of water is a bad idea when you can only drink the water an ounce at a time. Nasty stuff I'm telling you.

So far I think I"m doing pretty good on the drinking as well as the protein. We'll see by the end of day.

Life is.... very different right now. In a good way. And a different way.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

In and Out

So here I am tonight, sitting up at my dining room table with a somewhat clear head typing about the surgery. I can't get over how quickly they can do these things.

I feel good. I really had no idea what to expect having never had any surgery of any kind. But it all happened pretty quick - they put me under and next thing I know I wake up in post-op. In fact I don't even remember being put under.

I do remember waking up and wondering if they had done the surgery. First thing I notice is I'm not in the operating room. But then the next thing I remember is feeling like there was a clamp around my stomach... (I wonder why!). There was a fair bit of discomfort but not any kind of severe pain - the toughest part was that what pain there was would come when I breathe ... so there's no way to avoid that pain.

Let me say, Rose medical center in Denver has a fantastic staff. I'm duly impressed. They just treat you so well.

The biggest challenge right after surgery is drinking enough water. You have to drink in one ounce increments, at least right to begin with, and somehow you have to drink at least 40 ounces and preferably 64 or more. When you're kind of swollen up there's not a lot of room for water to get through, and it's kind of a weird sensation feeling it seep down. Probably the worst thing is that the first thing you do is take a sip of berium, a really nasty substance, so they can take pictures of my guts to see if everything looks okay.

Gone are the days of laying your guts open. I have 4 tiny little incisions where they did everything laproscopically.. they stick tubes inside me and use tiny little cameras to see where it all is and work through those. It's pretty amazing stuff really. And the fact that the doctor can do 9 of these surgeries by early afternoon is pretty impressive as well.

So there never was a lot of pain, just... discomfort afterwords. Now I'm sure some of that can be attributed to good drugs. But so far I feel pretty pretty good. Okay, my wife has noticed some typos here so maybe i'm not as clear headed as i think. I don't feel the kind of high some people talk about from their pain meds, I feel pretty normal for the most part. But I think driving's probably not a good idea right now. I think I mentioned I didn't really know what to expect, I was surprised how nervous I wasn't, though there were definitely some times I wondered what I was getting into. And other than that moment that I woke up, had that quick realization that I felt this clamp around my stomach and asked 'what was I thinking???' - It has not been that bad an experience.

And the nice thing is I get home and everyone treats me really good. Well, except for my wife's proof reading -- something about being a community college instructer I guess.... but all in all... not a bad day.

And the time has come

Alright so I haven't said much about feelings leading up to the surgery. Probably because there haven't been a lot? I mean there's some looking forward to what life will be like, some apprehension about what life will be like, some apprehension just because it's my first surgery, but I don't find myself scared or anything.

Tuseday night we had cookies at our team meeting and I commented that may be the last bit of solid food I get until sometime in October. That is looking like that will be the case. All day yesterday was clear liquid diet - no food whatsoever. If you can't see through it you can't drink it. I was able to have an Isopure protein drink which was okay, and some apple juice. But other than that all water baby! I guess that's to clean the system out so there's no food in there to try to puke up when they do the surgery. And then of course today... nada. No water, no nothing.

Anyway, heading out the door... guess we'll see how it goes eh?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Another day on the rollercoaster

So after resigning myself to starting all over again with new doctor new insurance new everything, I get the phone call that my surgery was approved through the previous insurance. After some phone calls I find that I can still continue my old insurance as it hasn't been 30 days yet.

And so the dilemma becomes, do I pay extra for the old insurance for another month, or start anew? With all the tests and preliminaries I had done in the past, on the old insurance I won't have any more out of pocket, not even any copays. New insurance, different story. So, while a month's premium for family insurance is not really cheap, in the long run it's going to save money...

So, my surgery is scheduled the 16th of this month. I went in yesterday for my pre-op visit where they sucked some blood out of me, let me pee in a cup, all that fun stuff, got some instructions, and now it's a matter of getting ready for something completely different... life changes so quickly in a week.

Exciting news... and scary. Now it's for real, or at least it's about to be.




Saturday, August 28, 2010

And Slim Just Left the Building

You know, slim and none.... though I wasn't really thinking about the double meaning until after I typed the headline....

Well at least under this insurance it's not looking real positive. There's still a shot at a last minute verdict coming through from insurance but it's not looking too good. What it's coming down to is my insurance covers the procedure but it also requires a six month medically monitored diet, which I've been doing, but when it comes right down to it, between my doctor's office and myself we just didn't get a total grasp of what all that means. Now this is all according to the surgeon's office but from their experience there's not a real good chance the insurance company will accept this as a qualified plan....

so in some regards it's back to square one. With my insurance change it will also require a change of doctors since it's an HMO I'm going to, so.... just what they will expect and recommend and require, I don't really know yet. They may pick up where the others left off, or they may be more inclined to say diet and exercise are needed, or they may see all the tests and the sleep apnea and diabetes and all and say let's move forward. Who knows?

In some ways I'm a bit intimidated by an HMO, but there's an advantage to one in that all sides tend to work together more? At least I hope so. What I mean is, if they have a requirement for a period of dieting I have to think they have a better idea of just what that entails and there won't be the miscommunication.

And hey, the other insurance hasn't said no yet, right?

But while it's been a frustrating period, I'm not worried. Mostly because the positive stuff from walking more and eating less and all that is playing together well. I got down to 352 -- first time I've been there in 4-5 years, so that's really positive and I'm holding fairly steady. It's just slowly inching downwards, and that's good.

So yeah, clock still ticks a wee bit... but... that's okay.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The clock is ticking.

Ticking ever so slowly for one thing, considering it's taken more than a year to get back down to where I was before. FINALLY back to the 353 I was at before I stalled out spring of last year. That took long enough.

Ticking not quite as slowly at least when you look at progress the past few months -- about 20 pounds lost going back to what... March? Not quite a pound a week, though for the most part that's not from any kind of real diet, more like having been more active and restricting my access to junk. But hey, it's 20 pounds and I'll gladly leave that off.

Ever carry a 20 pound backpack?

I guess that explains why walking gets easier all the time. Dang... if I ever lose all this weight I'm thinking I could start to jump pretty high, considering these poor legs have been used to lugging around so much weight... they won't know what to do without it all, except party.

Though when and how long... depends. Another clock ticking thing.

September 1 my insurance changes. My new insurance is with Kaiser, an HMO. The Doctor I'm doing the surgery with isn't with Kaiser, so if I"m doing the surgery with him it has to happen in 8 days. At this point it's not even scheduled.

tick

tick

tick

I guess in some ways you could call it a lost sale for their office though if it doesn't happen. This coming from a guy who spent too many years in sales, so that kind of messes up perspective huh? There's more than a little frustration with Dr. Snyder's back office. I've tried contacting them several times and said okay, where are we, is there any information you still need? If there is ever any response to communication, it takes close to a week.

tick

tick

tick

So then finally, the beginning of August I contact them and say hey, we need to get this scheduled in August if at all possible. My insurance runs out and we've already paid out so much in deductibles and for other expenses in the family that at this point my out of pocket maximum on insurance is met, so this needs to happen. A week later I have to contact them again to say hey, I haven't heard back yet.

tick

tick

tick

Finally, I get an email that everything is in dictation and being sent to insurance.

tick

tick

tick

And now, on the 23rd, I have yet to hear anything.

tick

tick

tick

Is it safe to say I'm ticked? This guy is among the best in the country at this procedure and I like him personally, but the responsiveness of his office leaves much to be desired.

But... the month's not over yet.

tick

tick

tick

tick

tick

tick.....

Friday, August 13, 2010

3 Days of the Fullbar - or is it the Snickers diet?

Wow. I got my first commercial comment. Does this mean I'm hitting the big time? Of course it's gone now. Trusty little trash can icon!!! If you want to advertise on my site please check with me first or send me some money.

Okay, so I've done the Full Bar 3 days. This morning I weighed in at 355. Four pounds in 3 days. And I'm not really doing the all out routine for this thing because from what I remember it was recommended for using before two meals a day, and I'm only using it before my lunch.

My daily routine has been, breakfast is usually a bowl of cereal, usually about 8 AM. Then off to work, which starts at 10. At about noon I get my break, and I'll have a snack, usually either a granola bar or some peanuts or almonds. Then at lunch at about 2, I eat my fullbar and drink a glass of water. Then I'll typically go for a walk for about 10-15 minutes, wander back, get my lunch, and then go to the lunch room. Lunch these past 3 days has been really small portions, usually a leftover from the night's supper before. A single piece of chicken one day. A small serving of casserole, something like that. And that's it. The serving size is half of what I'd normally have, if not less, and there's nothing else, where typically in the past I'd have some yogurt and a salad and a piece of fruit to go with it. In fact I've been asked if that's all I'm eating by my co-workers and i give them the big sad puppy dog eye look and nod my head like a martyr.

Okay, I don't do the martyr routine. I just nonchalantly say yep, that's it. Granted, I don't think that I've demonstrated at work any of the eating habits that have gotten me to where I need to lose the weight in the first place. After all, in the first 4 weeks there I've lost about 12 pounds. That success is due to a number of things -- the biggest being not carrying cash. That means no stopping for fast food along the way, no raiding the vending machines. I'm forced to eat what I bring for lunch. It's been a reasonable meal, never anything lavish but never anything spartan (until this week of course). So I'm eating decently, not starving myself but the key is not overeating. And the fact I'm usually walking 2 miles a day just getting to and from bus and train stops plays a hand as well.

Okay, so back to routine and all. What I've found so far is the Full bar does what's advertised so far. I do not feel hungry after such a small meal. And the part that's actually kind of surprised me a little is that I don't feel really starved in a couple hours. At break at 5 I'll have another snack similar to my 12 oclock break and I feel just fine. Then I get home usually after 8 and, this is the part where I depart from Fullbar advice as I don't have a bar before supper. But here's the amazing thing.... I'm not super hungry. In fact for supper I find myself full much more easily than before. That's been a pleasant surprise.

As to what I'm eating, the classes I've been to for weight loss surgery have stressed making sure there's enough protein. A lot of things can be taken care of by multivitamins but when portions are low you do want to make sure you're getting enough protein. This isn't like what people tend to relate to protein diets where you eat far more protein than you normally would without any carbs, but it's more like, since your overall food quantities are really low you do want to make sure that you're getting enough protein, and then take enough vitamins to keep healthy. But as it is I'm still not eating as little as I would with surgery, but still...

So should this be a replacement for the idea of surgery? Probably not, just because I know myself. This will work for awhile.... the day will come when the full bar will get really old and when it's really easy to fall back into old habits. I have many years of yo yo life to back that up.

But in wrapping it up... I wonder if I should call it the Snickers diet. The last couple days I've had a snickers bar as an extra snack. So, is it the Fullbar? Or the Snickers?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fullbar

Has anyone had any experience with the Fullbar? Or even heard of it?

I saw an article not that long ago in the paper about it because it was developed by someone locally. So I read a bit into it. Turns out the one who developed it is the surgeon who will be performing my lap band surgery. Well, maybe, insurance depending of course. That's a whole nother post.

Anyway, I guess this thing is distributed all over the place now. It's billed as the only solution based on the principles of weight loss surgery. The concept is a lot like how weight loss surgery works in that the reason the lap band and others are successful is they eliminate the cravings. It's not so much about limiting the quantity of food you can eat as it is limiting the desires for food. The reason the band on the stomach is placed where it is in a lapband surgery is that the sensors in your stomach that tell you you're full are, naturally, towards the top, and what the lapband does is keep the food at the top for a little while before it drops into the rest of the stomach. So, you're feeling full and satisfied with a lot less food.

So anyway, the way the Fullbar works is that you eat this bar about 20 minutes before you eat. It's made up of foods that expand inside your stomach, thus filling a lot of your stomach. This allows you to eat a much, much smaller portion of food than you normally would, and feel quite satisfied.

I'm going to try it out today for lunch. I have a simple piece of chicken with me. Okay, I also have a cup of yogurt and some almonds for snack times. But that's not a heck of a lot of food.

I think the thing that's an interesting question to me is, yeah, it may head off the physical cravings. What about the psychological cravings? You know, the ones that look at that little piece of chicken and say, no way in heck that's going to be enough. And even if it really IS a satisfying amount, which really it would be.... will there still be cravings that say I still want more, if for no other reason than habit?

I'll let you know how it goes...

What if I Stumble?

Great song many years ago by DC Talk: What if I stumble, what if I fall? What if I lose my step and I make fools of us all? Will the love continue when the walk becomes a crawl? What if I stumble, what if I fall?

I loved that album.

Okay, so this isn't totally what they were thinking about with this song, but... it is a question that comes up a lot with dieting. What if I stumble? What if I really blow it? Is there a point of no return?

What brings this whole question up is the dreaded Pot Luck dinner. Our team at work had a pot luck Saturday, and ohhhhhh was the food good! I worked forever on making lasagna for it and oh did it taste great! Someone brought some egg rolls to die for. There was some killer spaghetti, some amazing enchiladas, fried chicken and some great deserts, fruit salad... for a team of 17 people we had food for 50, easily.

I had joked that I'd lost 12 pounds since starting work there 5 weeks ago and I probably gained them all back in one day. Okay, I ate enough that I'm not totally sure I was joking, at least in my mind. On top of that I didn't walk nearly as much because when you're taking a piping hot pan of lasagna to work, walking to the bus, riding the light rail and walking in to work just doesn't work.
I think the interesting thing is that the two days since the pot luck, I didn't go overboard trying to make up for it all. I didn't go try to walk 10 miles. I didn't starve myself crazy. I just got back to normal, walked my normal amounts (if not a bit less?) and this morning? 359 pounds. I didn't lose any weight this past week, but I didn't gain.

So... stumbling isn't the end of the world I guess, eh?


Sunday, August 1, 2010

34 or 54?

August started on a happy note. My morning weigh in had a 5 in it, and it wasn't the last digit. I broke out of the 360's and am sitting nicely at 359. 359 point zero I should add, since it does weigh in tenths of a pound. This is the first time in the 350's since a year ago maybe?

So depending on how you look at it, I've now lost 34 pounds, or I've lost 54. I'm sure 34 is the appropriate one to state since I'm 34 pounds lighter than when I started this whole blog last year. But having lost 40 originally, then gaining 20 back, and then losing 14 of that again... it's pretty much like losing 54.

Though if I wanted to go that route, I've probably lost a total of 300 - 400 pounds in the past decade.

Okay, that's just depressing to think in those terms.

The key to my latest success? Probably pretty simply not carrying cash (or a check card). I pack a lunch to take in to work with me, usually have a couple miles a day walking to bus stops etc, and if I don't have cash I can't break down and buy junk food. I don't know that I'd say my diet itself is anything too structured lately.

So, as to a surgery update, I'm asking the bariatric center to submit for preapproval to see if I can get scheduled for August. I'm not sure if I've met all the requirements with insurance as far as the 6 month medically supervised structured diet goes, but considering that my current insurance expires the end of August and new insurance kicks in then, I've already met all my deductibles and such for the year under the current insurance, so it will save a ton of money if it can be done under the existing insurance. So, we'll see how that goes.

Maybe I can be to the 340's by the time it happens?

Friday, July 2, 2010

A slight delay

Ladies and gentlemen, there will be a slight delay in the undergoing of the lapband procedure.

Maybe that should be lady and gentleman. Or just lady? Or just gentleman? Or is even that overly optimistic?

Anyway, back to that delay thing.

Okay, so here's the story on the delay. Albeit the delay part on the surgery is a bummer, it's also a story of good news here and there, so all in all it's good stuff.

The good news is I start a new job next week. I've talked in bits and pieces about my business in the past, and there are times it's really great. But... there are times it's really slow and that can make things really tough on the budget. The funny thing is how it came about, as I was just doing a search for a service center for Sprint phones when one of the results was something about applying for work at their offices in Denver. I had no idea they had any offices in Denver other than their retail stores and such. So it was pretty much on a whim I applied, and before I knew it I had an interview, and then a job offer. So I'm pretty psyched about that.

It's an interesting thing when you look at jobs. There's a stubbornness on my side about the business because I want so badly to make it work. I also know that I can make a lot more doing my business than what I'd be making at this job. That is of course if it's all going well and I'm busy all the time. But the truth is there's a lot of down time and so it's pretty much feast or famine. And quite honestly, the feast portion isn't a real smorgasborg, you know?

And then there's the part that is the great equalizer: Benefits. Bennies.

And the whole health insurance piece really comes in to play when you're considering a surgery such as I am.

Anyway, added to this is another piece of good news. My wife has the opportunity in her career to move into something that would focus on the parts of her career that she's the most passionate about, which is great news, so she too is transitioning into a new position.

And of course, hence comes the delay. With two of us moving into new jobs we have to take a look at what insurance works the best. The good news is my insurance would kick in by early August, hers not much later, so of course we pay to extend the current insurance we are on.

From a surgery standpoint the best thing would be to try to get the surgery scheduled as quickly as possible, as we've met all our deductibles for the year (easy to do with a family our size) so there would be NO out of pocket cost on this going forward. The problem is that my new job requires me to be in 100% attendance for the first couple months during training. So taking time off for a procedure won't work there.

So, right now I'm thinking maybe September or so. But we shall see. We're still waiting to see what kind of coverage we can expect on either of our insurance policies - of course the big question being will either one cover bariatric surgery? And how much of it? So it's going to be an interesting road ahead trying to weigh all of that.

But, given the choice of doing the surgery now and not starting the new job? I'm taking the job, especially in this economy.

And then on top of that is one other tidbit of change for me, part of what helped me finally let go of the business as well. After a lot of soul searching and really trying to determine just what it is I feel the best about doing, I'm finding that the whole people serving thing is what really brings the most joy to me. It's the part I love the most about what I currently do. I don't know if I ever mentioned this in the past in this blog, but my whole work career started out in the ministry, having graduated from Bible College. There was a point I burned out, but I find myself ready to consider going back in. So starting in August I also begin part time pursuing my Masters at Denver Seminary.

Gee, any other changes I can lump into my life? A lot of changes.... and they're all pretty exciting.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Lawn Mowing




So today the lawn was needing mowing, so in a bit of whimsy I turned on the GPS tracking on my cell phone to see just how long a walk it would be. I figured a quarter mile, half mile, something like that. It's a pretty average size lawn... so it turned out about a mile and a quarter. Which probably isn't that surprising considering it usually takes about a half hour...

What was fun was to look at the picture afterwards....



No, I didn't cross the street and no, I didn't cut across the neighbor's swimming pool behind us... big privacy fence... so I guess the whole GPS thing isn't super precise off a cell phone, but still... kinda fun.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Getting Back to Speed

Some time back I did a 4 mile walk in which I think I averaged between 16 and 17 minutes per mile, and I was really working for a couple of those to try to maintain around a 15 minute pace.

After all the tightness in my muscles and the troubles my knees gave me for awhile, now I'm feeling like a 20 minute pace is kind of brisk. Amazing what a difference.

This is significant for one reason: The Denver Marathon requires a minimum pace of 4 hours for the half marathon, or 18 minutes and 19 seconds per mile.

I got me some trainin to do.

Actually, the fact that not that long ago I was able to do between 16 and 17 minutes fairly easily and at that time thought that with some more regular walking and training that a 15 minute pace was achievable, that leaves me thinking I can do it again.

The good news is my knee's been rather cooperative lately. For awhile the knee was feeling okay but the rest of my muscles were screaming, and I think it was because I was favoring the knee so much. For a few walks I decided to wrap the knee with an ace bandage and that seems to have made all the difference in the world -- with the added stability or something I could walk a bit more normally. Now I'm where a 2 or 3 mile walk doesn't incapacitate me for the rest of the day -- kind of a good thing you know. And, I've been used to walking much more slowly, so now it's just a matter of getting back into the swing of things.

Plus my wife's going to have me coming along when she's training. Once a week comes the longer runs (or walks for me) and then during the week there are speed workouts and then hill workouts. So this next hill workout is supposed to be something like 8 times up a hill for 45 seconds at a time. Not sure what the time inbetween is supposed to be, but it's supposed to help with endurance. Anyway, I'm working on getting a longer stride in and that's helped -- on my walk today the last mile and a half was closer to an 18.5 minute pace, so.... hopefully by October with a lot less pounds I should be doing good yes?

What am i thinking???

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Diet Coke: The Root of all Evil?

Okay, maybe not all evil. That's going a bit far, all for the sake of a title I suppose. Maybe the root of all plateaus?

My greatest success dieting started with simply giving up soda. I had started off just deciding to give up pop - at the time I was a big drinker of regular soda - I'd call it the sugary kind but I'm not sure I want to call the corn syrup laden stuff sugar. Now THAT stuff is deadly, I will say this much. It was a bit later that I decided to go a step further with the Atkins diet.

And I rocked it! For awhile. Then things kind of leveled out, and that was about the time I had started drinking diet sodas. After giving up pop for so long suddenly the diet stuff didn't taste so awful. There were several months that I was still pretty good about the diet and didn't start lapsing into the foods that I shouldn't lapse into, but at the same time I still stalled out.

I remember before the diet formulating my own theories that diet soda was evil (though at the time it was still more a justification for my drinking the regular sodas, be it still by the gallon or so it seemed) - I grabbed bits and pieces of information I heard from doctors and formed this notion that diet soda ends up being so sweet that it creates this expectation in the body of the sugar that goes with it, and when that sugar doesn't get there it starts craving other things.

Now of course I have other opinions about the evilness of Diet Coke in particular. It has to do with the fact that Diet Coke was formulated to taste like Pepsi, not Coke, and that it was the basis of "New" Coke (of which the scars from its introduction and subsequent removal of "Real" Coke have never really healed). Not that I ever thought Pepsi was all that bad, I drink plenty of it as well. But still, I felt Coke finally got it right when they came out with Coke Zero, being as it tastes more like the real thing.

But when it's all said and done, I find myself realizing that there's still a sense of addiction to the stuff. Whether it be diet coke, diet mountain dew, diet dr. pepper.. just soda in general there are times I find myself really needing to get a soda. And while I don't drink it nearly as much now as I used to, it's still a pretty real thing - meaning craving can be pretty powerful.

And my schedule tells me it's time to go and do things... I guess what I'm coming to is with the surgery coming up that's one thing I'll have to give up anyway.... maybe now's the time?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Eating through a straw

My wife thinks a good title would be "drinking my life away". There's probably a lot of good titles to be had on this one. Maybe I should hold a contest. All... what? 2 readers? 3? Chime in with a good title. The winner gets... the honor of winning?

This morning was my nutritional class in preparation for surgery. I got to find out some of the realities of life right after surgery. I knew already that I'd be on a liquid diet for a bit afterwards, but I learned more today. Not sure I want to know what I know now.

What caught my attention was what they called a grocery list - things you want to have before you do the surgery. Big on the list was chewable vitamins. Emphasis on chewable. For the first week after surgery the opening into my stomach will be approximately the diameter of a drinking straw. One good look at a typical multivitamin tells you why it's gotta be chewable -- there's no way it's fitting through otherwise. So for a good week or so, if you can't fit it through a straw, it's not going down the pipe.

Maybe that would make a good diet plan without surgery huh? If the food can't fit through a straw you can't eat it. It would be pretty effective. Of course, no one would stick with it either.

The area of my stomach that will hold food will, for that first week, hold about an ounce. Much of that (and the straw size opening) comes from the swelling that occurs after the poor guy's been manipulated around and banded. Once that goes down then I'm essentially working with about 4 ounces of stomach, so even then... that's not much food. Get out your measuring cups and look at a half cup -- and that will be as much as I can put down at a time. Believe me, I've already been staring at one of those and asking myself... what am i thinking???

Well, here's what I'm thinking. I want to be able to play basketball again someday without worrying about what all that's doing to my knees and ankles. I want to get on the floor and get up again without a major production. I want to not have to avoid booths at restaurants. I want to walk by kids without them looking at me wide eyed. I want to walk into places for a sales call or job interview or whatever without being self conscious about my size.

I did go through this thought process of, couldn't you do all the same things that would happen without going through surgery? I'm thinking that's a vague looking question -- what I mean is, the end result of the surgery is that it keeps the portions smaller, so couldn't I do that without surgery and just eat smaller portions? Yes. For a few weeks maybe. Or a few months. Been there done that got the yoyo. The difference being, now (now being then as in after surgery) if I eat too much or fall off course, I'm either puking or just feeling rotten. It restores a sense of self regulation that's gone right now. There's a real sense of being full again. There's a limit to how much food you can eat overall, and if you're not making good choices on what foods those ARE that you eat, you feel it because you're not getting the nutrients you need.

Remember the whole Seize the Day thing? You only have so much time, so make the best of it. It's a similar kind of thing in that you can only fit so much food through this tiny little opening -- if you choose to eat crappy foods -- bread, sugary stuff and such -- you don't get enough protein and nutrients that you really need and you start to feel it. So now you have to start thinking in terms of what are good food choices.

I used to look at this as the easy way out. I look at this one ounce thing and the kind of life long commitment you have to make to a whole new way of life and this is by far NOT the easy way out. It's going to be hard work. It's going to be tough at times.

So I just look at all those things I said I want. Right now that's what I'm thinking. All of a suddent eating through a straw seems pretty okay.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Preparations

So I spilled the beans last post about deciding to do the lapband surgery. Right now, I don't know when it's going to be. I'm hoping it's not too far away, but a lot depends on insurance and when they get approval.

You get to go through a whole plethora of tests when preparing for something like this. Be prepared to be poked and prodded and stuffed into things. I've spent more time in doctors offices the past couple months than I probably have in my life. I've had more blood taken out for this that and the other thing. The only thing that hasn't been required is a cardio workup, my other consultations have cleared me on that fortunately. But it's quite a process.

Basically they want you to get psychological clearance and then a pulmonary workup. Thank goodness for good insurance eh? In some ways I'm glad I'm doing this now instead of when some of the new health care policies kick in because I wonder in a few years if I'd be able to get in to everyone as quickly as I could. Anyway, the psychological clearance was pretty easy. The pulmonary -- wow what a work up. I'm not sure I can remember all the tests - I got stuffed into a glass cube for a breathing test, had x rays and sonograms and electro cardiograms and some other tests that I can't quite remember all of them. It's been an interesting experience -- all of the pulmonary stuff was done at Jewish National Health, which is the top rated pulmonary hospital in the country so I'm guessing they know what they're doing eh?

I learned a couple new things. I found out I have pulmonary hypertenstion -- a slightly enlarged pulmonary valve that is pretty normal with obesity and/or with severe sleep apnea. I have both, so... surprise! The XRays also showed I have a hiatal hernia where my stomach is trying to escape out my esophogus or something like that... after all the abuse I put that thing through over the years I can't blame it for trying to escape. So then they have me do an upper GI exam where you drink this nasty chalky stuff and they take pictures of it as it goes through you. Really fun stuff. It's been fascinating, I'll say that much.

The thing about this is that it has helped me understand even more that this is the right course of action for me. Not so long ago I though okay, I'm healthy but overweight. Now I find out I've got diabetes, arthritis, pulmonary hypertension and a hiatal hernia. Fortunately none of these are to the point where I'm needing severe intervention, but.... maybe it's time to give my body a break and take some steps to help me get there?

And oh yes... I'm going to start training for a half marathon.

What??? Haven't I learned my lesson from the October jogging fiasco that's still giving my knees fits? Okay, it's not that crazy... just partially so. My wife's the crazy one. In October there's a group in our church putting together a team to run in a marathon and half marathon -- not sure if it's the actual Denver Marathon? Might be. Anyway, my wife's done a couple of half marathons but hasn't for a bit and has been thinking of getting back into one soon so she mentioned maybe training for that one. So I foolishly spout out... if you do the half marathon then, I'll walk a half marathon then, how's that?

She's holding me to it.

What was I thinking?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Do I need to rename this blog?

So I've been somewhat officially informed that I should be shooting for about 235 instead of 200. So I suppose this should be 158 at 5420.

I do have to say, 158 sounds so much better than 193. Or, with my last weigh in being 365, that would make it 130, yes? It definitely sounds less intimidating than 393.

I'm not sure how easy it would be to change the name, so I'll stick with with the current name. But going forward, the blog will be taking a different direction. It's still going to be reflections and bits about my journey and getting rid of the weight, but... it will be different.

At my last physical my doctor just pointed out that I've done all this up and down for so many years. She pointed out all the other things related to it, now including diabetes, sleep apnea and arthritis and said maybe it's time to consider surgery.

This is not something that I take lightly. I've always looked at surgery as taking the easy way out, that it's a sort of admission of failure. But the part that maybe got through to me was finding out what the actual success rates are for someone in my position - pretty much zero percent. Yes, people lose weight all the time through diet and exercise. The number of people that actually keep off the weight in significant numbers for very long, no matter what diet or program, is extremely low. Like close to zero percent.

It's like you hit a point of no return or something. There's something reassuring in that, to find out that in some ways there's something normal.

I've finally come to a point where I realize it's not a copout to do the surgery. As one doctor explained it, it sort of levels the playing field so that diet and exercise actually can have the affect that they do for other people. It's a pretty major change, but one I can now accept.

I'm still probably a couple months or so out from having a surgery date set, just depending on insurance and all. I'll be getting lapband surgery, which places a band around the upper part of the stomach. The way it works is that as you eat, the band makes it so your food is kept in the upper part of your stomach, and so you get the full sensation early on. It's different than something like the gastric bypass that actually alters your stomach. The band is adjustable, where you can increase or decrease the restriction, and can also easily be removed if need be.

So that's the direction the blog will take -- yes, diet and exercise are still very key, but this will be something to track the journey as I go forward, prepare for the surgery, and what goes on afterwards.

It's scary, and exciting.

So hopefully I start doing better than these current montly posts eh?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Catching up, again

So I get into this pattern. I post something once a month. When I post it I apologize for how long it's been since I posted. And then I'm sure I'll get better. But... truth is it's pretty much the same stuff. So for now I'll just say I'll post again when I post again.

Not that that really makes a lot of difference -- I mean I'm all apologetic about taking so long to post but really, who am I apologizing to? I've posted so little lately that I doubt anyone's reading this at all, if they ever did, so.... if a tree falls in the forest but there's no one there for it to apologize to.....

So anyway, I have to give thanks to my old college friend Lance, who told me about wowfm.com. It's an online radio station playing Christian music, but it's different cuz it's the OLD stuff. Stonehill, Norman, 2nd Chapter of Acts, DeGarmo & Key, Sweet Comfort Band... talk about memory lane! All the stuff that my friends and I used to play back in college.

And if I may be so honest... most of this stuff wasn't really all that great. But I think I figured that out long ago, but the truth is, I'm loving listening to all this stuff.

Okay, so going back to my D-word post of a little while back (though only a couple posts back)... my doctor has made it official and given me the D-word diagnosis. She's not prescribing any medicine yet or anything, it's a a level that she thinks it can be controlled by diet and exercise.

I've done alright lately. Not great, but not bad either, other than the occaisional trip to get the 2 cherry pies for a buck at McDonalds. I haven't gotten back into a regular walk regimen or a regular bike ride, but i'm doing one or the other frequently enough to be doing okay. My knee is definitely feeling much better, though it still stiffens. My most recent weigh in was at 365, so there's some slight progress -- about 8 pounds in about 2 months time or so.

It's an interesting thing to come to discover you're not as healthy as you thought you were. I think I've talked about this, but I think for so long I felt like okay I was a few pounds heavier but otherwise healthy. And while yeah, I could be a lot worse off... it does make a guy think.

And oh, while I said some of that old stuff wasn't all that great, there were some REALLY good songs from the day. They're playing an old Kerry Livgren song..... forgot how good it was!

So anyway, in light of everything... I guess at this point I'll just say it will be interesting to see how I respond eh? I mean I find myself ready to say okay, I'm all inspired, I've got my wake up call and I'm gonna be awesome from here on out... but sometimes I think that's a lot like how I am with posting on this blog -- it's easy to have good intentions. But right now I think it's better to just let it be what it will be and see how it goes.

I pray though that all this actually does make a difference.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ecclesiastes and dieting

Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless.

Encouraging words to start a post, eh?

But that's the kind of thing it's tempting to say about dieting and weight loss stuff after reading some of the information I've received lately.

Basically what it comes down to is that studies have shown that among those with a 40 BMI or higher that it doesn't really matter what kind of diet you choose or even how successful you will be, there is almost a hundred percent chance you will gain it all back within 5 years. 'That's pretty sobering.

The news isn't a whole lot better taking an exercise approach. You can have success for a short while but then statistically you're going to gain it back.

Now reading around after hearing all that, i've seen some things written to dispute those findings. But even the ones I read show that even where there's success keeping weight off, there is still a tendency to gain back 80% of the pounds that were lost. And those studies basically took a wider group of people that are losing weight and include those who are not in the morbidly obese range such as myself. And in those studies, the average weight lost over 5 years? 6. Pounds.

Sorry, I mean yeah, every little bit may be good, but... a pound a year? Not enough.

Kinda makes you want to chime right in with the writer of Ecclesiastes. Meaningless, meaningless.

Now, that said, it's NOT meaningless. Actually I find something somewhat encouraging in it all.

First of all, trying to live healthy and get into healthier patterns of living is never meaningless. Even if you do end up getting off track, it doesn't mean that what we're doing right now is in vain. I lost 40 pounds since starting this blog. I gained 20 back. I've lost 5 of those since then. Yeah, it's a yo yo but I'm better off now than I was 25 pounds ago. Even if I end up gaining those pounds back, I'm better off now. I'm riding my bike more and more, and that's a good thing. Maybe someday that won't continue but at least I'm making myself healthier for now.

But the other part of it is that knowing that ends up taking a bit of stress off, you know? If you have been or are as much overweight as I am, you know what I'm talking about. It's that heavy chain of guilt that goes with the weight... if i'd have just eaten differently, if i'd have gotten out and exercised more... it would all be so different. Those who don't struggle with weight say it's very simple, just don't eat so much. We hear that and take it to heart and we think we're so terrible for being where we are. And then we go, we lose some of that weight, we feel great, but then something happens somewhere, we lose the momentum, it comes back, and we think we're failures.

But here's the truth... we're statistically normal. Incredibly normal. No, maybe not normal being where we are -- but for those of us who have gotten to this point, who have crossed some kind of line and gotten to this extreme level of being overweight, very, very few people ever take it off by diet and exercise and keep it off. It's extremely rare for it to happen.

No, that doesn't mean quit trying. The stakes are too high. The truth is that we know amazingly little about why some of us get to this point and others don't. We know that yeah, it's a matter of diet and exercise and skinny people don't have the trouble we have keeping it up. But there are things that go on inside us, some psychological, some physiological, that skinny people have no idea what it's like. Hell, we don't even understand it ourselves. But it's there and it's more powerful than anyone who doesn't deal with it can even begin to understand.

If it's simply a matter of "if I had better will power I'd lose it and keep it off" then there would be a pretty reasonable percentage of real long term success. It wouldn't be at nearly 0%.

Again, that doesn't mean give up. It's not meaningless. Everything we can do today to make it better does exactly that, makes it better. It buys us some more time, keeps away the real serious stuff that much longer, and keeps us plugging along until we find that breakthrough. For some the breakthrough is surgical... for others there may be something else, I don't know... I have to believe that somewhere along the line we're going to discover something that's going to help us discover what exactly that bondage really is about and no, it won't solve everything, but... somewhere along the line something really does work.

It's not all meaningless, even though it may look it. Just keep hanging on....

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's all in the shoes

I've lived my life on $40 shoes. Or cheaper. And yet I should know better.

I finally decided to invest in good walking shoes. In the process I even bought some socks at $12 per pair.

It's amazing the difference shoes can make.

This is nothing new. Years ago I stopped by a shoestore that someone I knew owned. It turned out his son was now running the place, and I figured I needed some new dress shoes and decided to try on a pair. It was comfortable, I said I'll take em... okay, not a wise thing to do when you haven't checked the price first. Total cost was $210. I think i had $215 in my wallet, not exactly planning to spend the full amount on shoes - but I was too proud or too foolish (or both) to back down and plucked down the money.

Best. Shoes. Ever. They were so amazingly comfortable. It turns out this guy's store specialized in orthopedic shoes and these shoes were very big in support. I was amazed how good I felt wearing these shoes. And they looked good too.

Since then I've at least focused on buying better shoes at least for work but have still skimped on the athletic shoes. So I don't know, maybe the whole thing of running last November or so and messing my knees up finally taught me a lesson.

All I know is, I did a total of 4 miles walking yesterday between walking to the bus station, doing some extra walking and such, and I'm amazed at how little stiffness I ended up having in my knee. My wife has commented in the past how I still pretty noticably favor my left leg when I walk even as the knee has been feeling better, but it seems like the first thing I noticed after getting these shoes is how much less it feels like I'm favoring it. But the biggest test is how I'm feeling the next day, and... waking up today I wasn't hobbling first thing in the morning like I have been... and that feels pretty good.

There are places to skimp.... shoes is not one of them.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Unspoken

That is a word that's been a big part of my life.

I know, seems an odd thing to say about someone who's now sitting at his computer blathering on about this, that and the other thing and leaving it there for the world to see.

But when all is said and done, that word says a lot. It speaks of a life of not being willing to take a chance at my flaws and errors being seen. Unspoken is safe. Unspoken is protection.

Unspoken is exactly the opposite of all of that.

I don't know if unspoken is as big a part of life for everyone else. Maybe? Possibly more than I realize. All I can do right now though is speak for myself. I have those times in my life that I look at and think should be unspoken, never to be mentioned again. Times where I thought that I knew what I wanted, not thinking about how that which I wanted had to be unspoken. And if it could not be spoken, it it had to be guarded so much, what could it really be for me?

The amazing thing is, time and time again when I let go of the unspoken, when I release what I so stubbornly hang on to, when I quit being so focused on what it is I'm trying to protect or what I think is the be all and end all, when I finally surrender, when I quit living in fear of the unspoken... when I let myself be vulnerable, God always comes through and lets me have far beyond what I ever could have hoped for.

Sometimes, it's big things. Sometimes it's little things. But every time, when I can finally let go, he shows me there's so much more out there.

His timing is pretty amazing at times.

And this isn't really going where it seems it might be going, more that these are thoughts that come from events of the past few days, and it's just gone over and over through my head. And then that one word came up and it summed it all up, and this light went off, and here I go.

Unspoken.

It all comes from my physical that was this week.

There's always been a hesitance to going in for a physical. There were times where I would absolutely not let myself even consider it. In reality it hasn't been all that long since I've had one. But I always wanted to make sure it was at the right time, maybe at a time when I had some things under control. A time when I've been good at keeping diet under control and such.

See, when you get to my kind of weight, there's always the unspoken.

Here's the deal with me: So much of my life as an overweight person has been about denial. Not really denial about my size, I always knew and accepted, sometimes embraced, that I was big. I started gaining my weight in college and soon after. I never really stressed about it -- I didn't like it but I still knew I was healthy. My blood pressure was good. My cholesterol was good. I was fine. So fine that it wasn't until well into my 30's that I ever even thought about making any kind of real effort to lose weight. I was in denial about any concept that health and weight were related.

When I finally started thinking about and then attempting weight loss, and started reading up and learning things about what's involved with it all, I started to get some head knowledge about things -- things that were really tied to the real dangers of weight and to where I am.

And that began a journey with a big unspoken.

Deep down, I knew what the potential was for something major. But again, that D-word. Denial. If it remained unspoken, unthought about, then it wasn't there.

Stubbornly I hung on to this idea that I'm really okay.

I don't know what started the change. Maybe it was the beginning of this journey. Maybe the success for awhile, maybe even more the set back of gaining back some of what was lost.

That's been my journey really, hasn't it? Up and down. Enough down that I always knew I could tackle it. Enough successes to think I could always conquer it. Maybe part of the denial came from my first year of college -- I gained quite a few pounds my freshman year in college. I was actually underweight going in, but I would guess i was probably 20 pounds overweight by the end of the year. (Today I'd kill to be 20 pounds overweight) That summer, I worked a lot and lost the weight effortlessly. And I think I always thought I could do it again.

Several years ago, I lost 40-50 pounds pretty easily. And so what if I gained it back? I knew I could do it again. Then I lost 86. Incredible! And even when it came back on, I knew that with some dedication and hard work it would be gone again. And so the story goes. And even now, going back through all I've written, I see the same thing, this idea that no problem, it's all good, I just have to buckle down and focus and get back on track and all will be okay.

And that big unspoken hangs out there.

After the run attempt last year where my knee started acting up, I think I started just noticing little things. I'm sure a lot of it came from the realization that my knee is part of my body crying out ├źnough!" The way my doctor put it, that every step is asking that knee to hold nearly 400 pounds and it just can't keep doing it.

Anyway, getting back to avoiding physicals. The main reason of avoidance is that I knew the role that blood sugar plays with weight, especially with me. The signs are just there. And honestly, I didn't want to see a doctor because I didn't want that inevitable diagnosis. That D-word. And I don't just mean Denial.

The unspoken.

But I don't know, there's something different that has come of the past couple months. Maybe it's the limping around, or being tired of being tired. It was actually last year that the appointment was made for my physical, and I remember being a little perturbed that it had to be such a long time before I could get in.

But this is where God works. Little things here and there. An openness to getting serious about changing. And maybe finally accepting whatever it is.

And being able to speak the unspoken. This time... the unspoken being that D-word. No, that hasn't been a diagnosis, though I went in with, for the first time, an acceptance that I was in all likelihood pre-diabetic. And I know my blood work has come back "consistent with Diabetes." So maybe that IS a diagnosis... and maybe there is still a denial of sorts if I'm not ready to say it's a diagnosis.

But this gets me back to all the other unspokens of the past.

My kids recently had this big kick of watching Harry Potter movies, and I was reading while it was on when I heard people mention the villain as someone who's name is not spoken. I remember being caught by something that was said in response -- that not speaking the name only gives it more power.

Isn't that the truth of Unspoken?

I look at the unspokens of my life. And it's the unspoken nature of it all that gives it power. And yet we strangely hang on for dear life. And then we let go, and live.

And so I learn with this. Maybe if I can let go of my stubborness. Of my denial. Quit hanging on to what I think I need to do and quit avoiding those things, people, ideas, solutions (and work) that are out there.

Let go of the unspoken. Take the power back.

That's where the answer lies.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Back on track with some help maybe?

I got a note from my son who noticed the mapmyrun settings on my facebook page. Of course, he's got to boast a bit about running 3 miles a day now and so I better be keeping up on my running or he's going to pass me pretty quick.

Of course there's been no running for me, at least not since my little attempt back in November which I'm still paying for. But... I sent him a note back that said well, no running, but I am starting to get back into walking again. In fact, to simplify things around here lately I've been utilizing public transportation to get out to my job, including walking to the bus stops and such, but now with the weather starting to warm up, I plan to start riding my bike to work on a regular basis.

One thing I love about Denver, they really are set up nicely for people getting around without using a car. The transportation system is good, the trail system is great. And the two go great together. Buses have bike racks, you can take your bike on to the light rail, so you can do a combination if you need. The other day I was able to drop the car off with my stepson so he could use it, ride my bike over to the light rail, take it on the light rail to get closer to work, ride my bike the rest of the way to work. That night it was too cold for riding (or that was my excuse) so I could just use the bike rack on the bus... it really makes a great combination and gives me a chance to start getting more active again.

My knee still stiffens up at times, something that seems to come and go. I have my annual physical today and I'm sure that will be addressed... it's been 3 months that it still stiffens up so it's time to find out if it's just a matter of time, if there's something else that needs to be done.

Okay, I know already the first answer is... lose weight.

Ahh, that brings me back to where I was starting out by talking with Josh, my son. I said okay, so I do need to start losing weight and ramping up the exercise again, and asked if he wanted to help keep me accountable.

I hope he does. It'd be fun to keep up on each other at different parts of the world. He in Korea, me here in Denver... maybe a good chance to get back on track here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

the accidental exercisist

This week begins a week of unintentional exercise. A lot of climbing up and down ladders, walking back and forth ad-infinitum for a work project. Since I'm being paid decently for it I won't complain and overall it should be a good thing for me.

At least as long as I don't fall off any ladders.

Times like this my work can involve pulling cables for phones and computers. It hasn't quite been 2 years ago when pulling cables for some new offices a company was building upstairs when I nearly busted through the floor. Some of the decking that was on the floor was kind of old and rotted, something I discovered as one foot punched through -- I was quite happy about the fact that the rest of me didn't follow, but it was scary enough. I think that was when I figured out that I really didn't want to spend much more of my life up on ladders and such. I'm getting too old for this stuff.

But then, when the opportunity comes along to get paid well enough for doing it for several days... I can overlook that. And if I can get the other guys on the project up on ladders more of the time... that's okay too.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The good news is the bad news is the good news

Okay, so I have good news and bad news

The good news is we finally replaced the scale that was flooded out.

The bad news is we finally replaced the scale that was flooded out.

373. I've gained a total of 20 pounds since I got down to my low of 353. Ouch.

I guess whether something is good news or bad news often depends on how you choose to look at it. Yeah, it's kinda bad news because it told me I gained more weight back than I thought, I thought maybe 10, 15 at the most. So yeah, getting the scale is bad news.

Or... is it good? What I mean is I'm no longer oblivious. I'm seeing that and thinking, maybe this is the kick in the butt I need to get back on track?

In the end it's up to me whether to make it good or bad.

I can look at the weight and decide that the 20 is bad news. Or I can look at it and say yeah, but for the year I've lost 20 pounds, so there's good news in that.

In the end it's up to me how to approach that. It's what I do with it that makes the difference. I choose to look at the 20 lost as good news, but at the same time not to ignore the other 20 that was lost and then regained. I think I need a healthy balance of the 2... the encouragement of the 20 lost overall, but the wakeup call of the bad.

And if the 20 lost gets me back on track... that's good news.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

It's been a good year

I think when you look back, whether or not a year has been a good one depends a lot on how you choose to look at it.

I can choose to look at the economy, how some of the year has been a struggle financially, or look at how much i've lost momentum from when I started this blog earlier this year.

Or, I can choose to look at all that has been good, and that's what I've determined to look at. And no, it's not just this somewhat phony thing where I say it's been a good year and therefore it must have been. Not sure if that makes any sense, but what I mean is, sometimes we grin through our teeth and say hey, everything's good just for the sake of saying it when you don't really feel it. But for me, when I look at 2009, in my heart it just feels like... it's been a good year.

It's been a full year to spend with my wife, and that has been a fantastic thing. Her spirit, her support, her encouragement, her friendship have been everything to me. Our relationship was a real whirlwind where we only knew each other a few months by the time we were married, but it was one of those things where we just knew that this is what God had for us. And this past year has just made that more real.

It's been a healthier year than I've had for many years. Even if I didn't keep up the momentum and have been on a long plateau as far as the weight loss, I still ended up substantially lighter at the end of the year than at the beginning, and that's always a good thing. Okay, I don't know exactly where I ended up, i haven't weighed in a long time, but I know still it's 30 or 40 pounds lighter than the start of the year.

It's been a year to embark on some dreams. I started my own business finally. It has been a slow go and sometimes I struggle with that, and yet... it's still a go. I've shifted some focus for a bit, taking on subcontract jobs here and there doing work for other companies as a way to bring in more steady income, but that's allowed me to keep the dream of Barnabas Communications going. I look forward to a great year in that.

It's been a year that's been good for family. I know anyone I talk to that hears about our blended family says we have to be insane. And the blending will always be an ongoing process, but I look at my own kids and they're happy. They have a good life and while yeah, it's a bit crowded, it's a good thing.

It's been a year of watching my son grow incredibly. He started the year in basic training and now is a full fledged soldier stationed in Korea. I miss him, but I'm incredibly proud of him. He's grown into a good man.

It's been a year of returning faith. For too long I think I let my faith take a back seat. I always felt I had it, and to some degree I did, but... it didn't have the center of importance to me it used to have. I can't say it necessarily does even now, at least in comparison to where I know it has been at times in my life, but... it's getting back there.

It's been a good year. 2010, I believe, will be even better. I can't wait.

And if there happens to be anyone at all reading... I sincerely hope it's a great one for you as well.