Tag Archives: Anger

From Shame to Hope…

If I was on Sesame Street today’s letter would be “S.” I wish it stood for success, but it stands for shame. Let me say SHAME in all capital letters. I am full of shame, disappointment and frustration. No pretty words are coming out of my mouth.

I think this photo shows a happy person and that's what who I intend to be as my gastric sleeve journey continues....

I think this photo shows a happy person and that’s what who I intend to be as my gastric sleeve journey continues….

The reason for my shame is that I’m finally admitting I am struggling with just about everything in my life. I feel like a compass with broken needle. I can’t seem to find any sense of direction. I take that back, I am going in one direction: up, as in up the scale. I guess this is my rock bottom when it comes to my journey for 2015. I’ve been in worse places and I have definitely carried more weight on my body and soul, but now I am at the bottom of a very large hill.

What brought on this overwhelming sense of shame? It’s been building for a while. A pound here or there in the summer was easy to brush aside. It’s summer! Ice cream for everyone! “I’ll stop the treats when summer is over,” I promised. Nope, that didn’t happen. I switched from ice cream to baked goods. What’s a piece of banana nut bread now and then? Just one or two cookies won’t hurt I convinced myself. I broke my rule of keeping treats as treats and not making them an everyday food.

I gave myself all kinds of reasons why I was snacking more. Stress, anxiety and feelings of worthlessness keep popping up. Some issues are self-manufactured and some came from the usual day-to-day drama. My brain tells me that it’s my choice to let pain and disappointment rule my behavior, but my heart just wants me to have peace.

For all my life, food is the peacemaker. Food doesn’t judge. It gives comfort, but it doesn’t offer solutions. It causes more problems. Logically I know this, but for as practical of a person I am, I still battle “the food as comfort” solution to my problems.

So here I am at rock bottom with my bathroom scale. I have not recorded my weight since June 5, 2015. Oh, I knew my weight was increasing, but if you don’t write it down it doesn’t count right? Today I was up 8 ½ pounds since June. Yes, almost 10 pounds. I was too ashamed to even cry. And when I realized I’m 13 pounds above my comfortable weight window, I was too stunned to step off the scale. Then the anger set in. The berating began. “How did I do this to myself? All the work and money spent and this is what I’ve done? I am a disappointment to myself, my family and friends!”

No, this story doesn’t end on a negative note. Yes, I’ve screwed up. Can I fix it? Hell, yeah! If I lost 100 pounds and made myself into a healthier and happier person, I can do it again. Fortunately life is all about second chances. Well, in the case of my weight loss journey, it is full of infinite chances. The positive spin on all this is that I can take control of my health once again and it should be easier in some respects. I know how to eat healthy. I know to stop buying my trigger foods. I know to exercise for the benefit of my body and soul. I know all this. I just have to believe.

And so begins the climb out of my weight gain and general life funk. It’s never easy in the beginning. Today as I laid on my bed to zip up my very snug jeans, I thought to myself, “You can fix this!’. As I ate a granola bar mindlessly when I wasn’t hungry, I though to myself, “You can fix this!”.

Here are some ways I plan to fix it:

*Tracking my food. I’m back to using MyFitnessPal. I hate keeping a food journey, but it really does work. Seeing what I”m eating really makes me think.

*Exercising in different ways. Normally I run alone, but I recently started to run with friends. It’s challenging, but it pushes me to keep up my pace, learn to chat as we go and most importantly it proves a much-needed therapy sessions.

*Find other outlets for my stress. Exercise is a great way to relieve depression, but I need other activities. I’m reading more when is a great distraction. Oddly enough, decluttering my home is lessening my anxiety. Accomplishing any task just feels good to this goal-oriented woman.

I know that writing more will help lift me out of this well of weight gain despair, too. That’s why I finally decided to share my shame. I’d love to be the poster child for gastric sleeve surgery, but I’m not. I haven’t come close to the goal I set before I had surgery. I don’t need to be perfect when it comes to my journey. I just have to keep trying and stay healthy.

I will own my shame. Yes, today’s letter is “S”, but I have decided that tomorrow’s letter is “H” for hope. I have two choices: to continue down a self-destructive path or to make positive changes. I have persevered before and I can do it now. By admitting and sharing my current struggles, I know that I can let go of this shame. I will let hope fill its place in my head and more importantly, in my heart.

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To My Future Fellow Sleever

Over 14 months since I had surgery and I still feel great!

It has been over 14 months since I had my gastric sleeve surgery and I still feel great!

One of the best things to come out of blogging about my gastric sleeve surgery is the connection I have made with people. Family, friends and even complete strangers continually reach out to me about my experience and to share their own. I am very excited for one particular friend who is having surgery next month. I planned to send her a note before her surgery, but I decided to share it as I hope it will help others who are contemplating surgery or thinking of making other important changes in their life.

“To my friend,

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am for you! I know what a difficult decision you made when you chose gastric sleeve surgery. It isn’t just about losing weight; this journey is about taking control of your physical and mental health. This journey is about YOU!

I won’t assume all your reasons to have surgery are the same as mine.  But I will take a guess that you have been putting your own needs on the back burner. I felt for a long time that I needed to make everyone else in my life a priority, including people who didn’t deserve my efforts. I can honestly say that making myself “number one” in my life makes me a better mother, wife, friend and person. Now that I am in control of my life and that I am happy and less stressed, I am able to be the person I want to be for me and the people in my life.  Surrounding myself with positive people makes the world of difference in my continued success.

Of course, not everything is perfect after surgery. I am not seeking perfection any more. I continue to seek happiness and joy. Some days it is a harder struggle than others, but is a manageable struggle. I am not always in control, but I now have the tools to deal with depression, disappointment and anger.

This leads me to another important piece of advice: use your resources! Your surgeon and his staff are experienced and want you to succeed. Follow their advice and don’t hesitate to ask them for help. While you might not like their advice, it is their experience and knowledge that will help you through the challenges you will face. If you haven’t met with a weight loss therapist yet, I highly recommend finding one. I go through phases when I seek her help more often than others. Having this resource will help you more than you realize.

Let your family and friends help you, too! While many people do not share their surgery publicly, I really feel you should find at least a few people to confide in. You know who you can trust, so call upon them. I was fortunate to have an amazing community of family and friends who didn’t judge me and always offered support and encouragement. Find your community! I am your first supporter, of course!

Will you be judged by family and friends for choosing surgery? Perhaps, but please don’t let it bother you. Sometimes, the people’s fears and concerns for your safety come across as judgement or disappointment. There will also be people who are jealous or threatened by your new confidence and success. Always remember that this journey is about you. Yes, it will benefit your family in the long-term, but it is OK to do what you need to do for you. Push aside everyone’s else opinions and concentrate on your own feelings, needs and beliefs. Always do what is best for you because in the end, that’s truly what matters.

I look forward to being a part of your weight loss journey. I hope my blog gave you the ups and downs of gastric sleeve surgery. More importantly, I want it to have given you hope for a happy new chapter in your life. It won’t be easy this first year. You will cry. You will be angry. You feel disappointment. And that is normal and OK. The excitement, the improved physical and mental health, the sense of control and the feelings of freedom and positivity are well worth it.

My friend, you are beautiful, smart and funny. The new “you” will be stronger version of who you already are today. Thank you for letting me be a part of this next phase in your life. Let’s go Down the Scale together!

Love,
Jen”

Surprise, Surprise, This isn’t Really that Easy..

My new life began 10 weeks ago with my gastric sleeve surgery. 40 pounds down! My body is changing as expected, but it is the emotional changes that are the biggest surprise. I thought I was prepared for the emotional changes, but I am embarrassed to admit, I was wrong. I was nowhere near ready to deal with the feelings, stress, highs and lows that my new lifestyle would bring. Time to deal with them now, and I don’t think it is going to be pretty.

Starting a weight loss journey is something I’ve done many times, but this time it is extreme. The surgery permanently changed my body and while I knew I would have to change my mindset about food, I was naïve to think it would be simple. When food is your reward, your comfort, your stress reliever and your go-to friend for boredom for more than 40 years, changing your mindset is harder than you think.

Week 9 and on vacation!  A non-food oriented vacation was just what I needed.  Better yet, I loved it!

Week 9 and on vacation! A non-food oriented vacation was just what I needed. Better yet, I loved it!

Some lifestyle changes have been easy, like reducing my craving for sweet things. We were on our first vacation last week, and I didn’t find myself looking for the closest ice cream shop or candy store as I did in the past. We didn’t eat out much so I didn’t face temptation or feel deprived constantly. One of the few times we did eat out, I did indulge in a burger and fries. A half a burger and three french fries were all I could eat and it wasn’t that great. I would have enjoyed a salad more I think.  I hope I can keep that mind-set.

What helped me keep my mind off of food were all the outside activities we did each day. For a girl who used to say “that roughing it was a hotel without room service”, a vacation in Lake Tahoe was pretty radical. We hiked, we swam, we relaxed without making food a highlight of our trip. I guess this is what most people would consider normal, but for me, an emphasis on eating has always been part of my vacations. Treating myself to fattening food in large quantities was part of the vacation experience. This vacation showed me that having fun, by being physically active, is better than any food experience. I am thrilled I have changed my mindset, but I am more excited that my children will think of vacation as a fun time full of physical activities and not food.

So changing my food mindset on vacation wasn’t so hard, so what’s the problem? Every day life is now my problem. We came home from vacation to a stressful traffic weekend due to a three-day concert in our neighborhood. We came home to bills stacked up, loads of laundry and no food in the house. My commitment to my children’s’ school overwhelmed me even before we made it to our home. Real life slapped me in the face and I melted down quicker than a pint of Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream.

Every day stress is nothing new, especially when coming home from a vacation, but this time I felt crazy, out of control and angry. Part of it could be the hormone changes from my surgery, but I think most of it is that my old way of comforting myself is gone. Oh, I could eat sugar or fatty food if I want to soothe myself, but only two ounces of it. I can’t gorge on food like I did in the past to numb myself. I have to handle stress in a different, more healthy way. This is the biggest struggle I think I have ever faced.

I haven’t handled it very well, I must admit. I have cried more this weekend than I can remember. Suddenly, every stress, every hurt, every betrayal I’ve felt is heightened. It’s not pretty or fun, but I am coming to terms that this is part of life…my new life, and I can’t ignore it. My numbing agent of food is gone. I come from a family of addicts and I am determined not to exchange my food addiction for another.

So, what am I going to do? Now that the tears are gone, I have decided that the first thing I need to do is acknowledge my stress, anger and pain. It’s here, but I think it’s also important for me to come to terms that having these feelings is normal, but how I handle it is what makes me who I am. I will not eat to deal with these feelings, I have to find ways of handling it like exercising, talking with my ever-supportive husband and friends, and of course, writing about my feelings.

The next part is probably the hardest for me. I’ve always wanted to please my family and friends even to the detriment of my sanity and happiness. I used to feel that if I made someone else happy, I would be happy. While I will always believe in a need for compromise, I am finally realizing my joy, my happiness, my peace are important, too. I need to stand up for myself. The consequences of this are not always good; I have lost family and friends because I am putting myself, my husband and children first. Realizing that I am not in charge of everyone’s happiness is still hard for me to believe, but the times I have stood up for myself, have made me realize this is right for me.

I am going to have to change commitments I made, say no to people and really think about my actions in terms of my physical and mental health. I can only hope I will find understanding and support from the people in my life. Saying no to people isn’t easy, just like saying no to food isn’t easy. This tough new journey Down the Scale is tougher than I imagined, but the thought of being healthy mentally and physically is too important to give up, no matter what struggles I face…