Tears On My Pillow; The End Of An Era

A couple weeks ago, before fleeing the country, my friend Karin and I had a conversation about depression. Fortunately for her, she doesn’t have this affliction and she admitted to not really understanding it. She didn’t know much about the clinical types of depression and so I explained my “condition” to her.

My version of clinical depression, the one that – for those of you who don’t know – is the most common type, is called dysthymia. Basically people with dysthymia have a “low grade” depression pretty much all of the time, with occasional lapses into more severe depression and, at least in my experience, even less frequent bouts of feeling not so bad. (God forbid it should be characterized as “feeling good.”)

Karin asked me where I was on that spectrum at the time. I told her, “I guessed I would have to say that I’m on the high end… and that’s almost worse.”

“Why?” she asked.

“Because it’s not real,” I told her. “Because all the time that I feel this way, I know it’s only a matter of time before it ends and the bottom drops out again.”

~~~~~

I had a really shitty day yesterday.

My doctor told me I was twenty pounds heavier than the last time I saw him, fourteen months ago. I knew I had gained back some of the weight that I lost, but I didn’t realize it was that much. To be honest, I’ve been in a bit of denial about that. Trying not to think about it and definitely not accepting how bad it really is. Most days I feel like I’m not that heavy. My birthday party should have been a wake up call…

Weight is an issue for me. Always has been and most days I want to just throw in the towel and say, “Fuck it! I’m never going to have any control over this anyway. I should give up trying.”

The only success I’ve ever had is being vigilant about following the nutrition program on the Abs Diet program I’ve talked about before and by going to the gym regularly. The nutrition program is good but it becomes tedious after a while. I don’t know how to use most of the weight equipment in the gym and so all I can really do is aerobic exercise. The only time I can stomach going to the gym is mid-morning or mid-afternoon. Any other time is either too crowded or too early/late for me. When I can get there mid-morning or mid-afternoon it works out pretty well, except that It takes 90 minutes to two hours round trip (including travel, changing clothes, shower and dressing again.) And if there’s any disruption in the office schedule, like someone not being there, then it’s hard to get away.

I’ve given up any hope of ever being buff like I really want to be, just being fit and healthy – thinner will do, but even that seem so far out of reach…

I’m ready to consider more drastic measures. While I was waiting for my doctor to come in to the exam room yesterday I noticed a flyer on the wall. My healthcare organization now offers Cosmetic Surgery. I was shocked. Liposuction was listed. Someone recently told me that you can’t get fat again after liposuction because your body doesn’t grow new fat cells. Is that true? One of the side effects of liposuction is hair loss… I don’t have to worry about that…

A few months ago, my friend Lori (have you noticed all my friends are girls – sad) started a medical fast. She has lost 47 pounds in about six months. When she started, I thought it was overkill, to be honest. I tried to be supportive, though I’m not sure I succeeded, but I didn’t think she needed to do it. She was not grossly obese, in my estimation, and I felt like if she had the determination to stick to the fast then she had the determination to change her thinking and watch her nutrition. Now…. I’m wondering how much it costs, and if I would have to pay for it all at once or if I could make installments.

Once upon a time, specifically because I drank too much and knew I would feel better faster if I threw up, I tried to induce vomiting. I apparently have no gag reflex (something that might be useful someday – but probably not) and I don’t think bulimia is an option. Not that I could really be bulimic. I hate to vomit and will do everything in my power to prevent it.

I don’t know what to do.

~~~~~

I’ve been obsessing all day about my ordeal yesterday. And I’m pissed off because IT’S NOT RIGHT and I have no recourse. My options are to get the physical and pay the money, effectively paying my health care provider twice for one instance of service, or not getting the physical and not being able to get my ambulance driver license. Clearly, I don’t really have a choice, but the egalitarian in me can’t let this injustice go. I’m getting screwed and there’s nothing I can do about it. That makes me physically ill.

~~~~~

Last year, my boss, John, decided that I should be involved in the Green initiative for our building. Then he went off to Hawaii for four months and expected me to run the program in his absence. The fact that I have made it abundantly clear to him that I don’t give two shits about green initiatives was irrelevant. He had created this Green Advisory Council with a handful of building employees who wanted to be involved in “greening” the building. The whole lot of them are hippies (sorry Karin) and they’re all gung ho about the programs. They all annoy me in that capacity, but there’s one person on the council who is like a rabid dog with a juicy bone. He will not let anything go. He comes up with an idea that is not achievable with the limitations we have (or just not advisable at this time with good justification) and when told “no” brings it up again at the next meeting. He just keeps bring it up and keeps pushing until he gets what he wants, because ultimately, John is a push-over people-pleaser who will say “yes” just to satisfy this guy, even though it’s not the right thing for the situation. He pushes my buttons at every turn and as hard as I have tried I just can’t manage to like him. After the meeting today, I’m finished even trying to like him.

~~~~~

I’m lonely. When I left work today, a Friday, at around 6:00, I tweeted this:

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All day today, when I wasn’t feeling murderously angry, I felt like I needed to cry. But as we know, I don’t do that.

~~~~~

Between me and the fence post, I’ve been craving Vodka for a couple days…

~~~~~

You know when I started this post, it was going to end with me saying, “I hope this is just a bad day and not the end of that all too infrequent “not so bad” time. Now that it’s written…

(Sigh) It was nice while it lasted.

Nobody Thinks This Is Funny But Me

One of my favorite blogs to read when I need a good laugh, The Bloggess has a tag on her blog “Nobody thinks this is funny but me”.  It’s almost never true, of course, but I think today, that’s probably going to be a perfect tag for this post.  I forgive you.

~~~~~

I was working on my menu for next week.  You know, the one that comes up on my nifty little website that has weekly meal plans and exercise plans?  You know, the one that I’ve done a pitiful job of following for months now?  You know, the one that I could actually do a pretty decent job of controlling my weight and getting into shape if I’d just follow it?  You know the one for which I’ve been paying for over a year, even though I only half-@$$ed follow it…  Yeah, that one.

I was working on next weeks menu, and I came across a menu item, for breakfast that I did not want.  One of the things I like about this website is that it provides the menu, but then you can substitute anything they suggest that you don’t like for something that you do.  You gotta know, every time they suggest “brussels sprouts” I hit that swap button faster than you can say, “ew gross.”

I confess that I usually change the breakfasts they suggest because I don’t have a lot of time, or gumption, in the mornings to prepare the smoothies they recommend (not to mention I only own two blenders and that’s a lot of dish washing if I follow their suggestions.)  I usually change breakfast

These were the suggested alternatives… FOR BREAKFAST!! :

Now you know why I like this program!

Finally!!

By this time, it should be no surprise to you that I’ve been fat my entire life, unless of course, you’ve never read this blog before, in which case… I’ve been fat my entire life.  This, by the way, is not going to be a self-pitying, feel sorry for me post.  The fact that I’ve been fat my entire life is just that, a statement of fact.

Anyway, over the years, I have tried on more than one occasion to lose the weight and be skinny and sexy.  Over the years, I have failed repeatedly.  I can blame this on any number of factors, but the basic factors are as follows:

A)  I lacked will power and eventually got tired of depriving myself of anything and everything good and I broke and gorged; and

2)  I was trying to get skinny and sexy.  Two things I may never be able to achieve.

It is also not news by now, unless this is still your first time to this site, that I’m making an effort to change my life and be healthier.  This time around I’m focusing on eating healthfully, but mostly being cognizant of what I’m eating when I’m eating.  In other words, I may still have a piece of cheesecake (or four) around my birthday (Oh wait, that’s a post I never wrote – it was my birthday last Saturday and the end result of that day was four pieces of Cheesecake Factory cheesecake coming home with me (I can never decide) and being eaten over the course of three days) but at least I’m paying attention to what I’m doing, I’m allowing myself the indulgence and I’m moving on.  Most of the time, I eat healthfully and therefor, I do not feel guilty when indulging in something less healthful.  Anyway, this time around I’m focusing on eating healthfully and getting regular exercise.

In fact, I don’t even feel like it’s right to say, “this time around” because this isn’t a temporary situation.  I’ve made the decision to live my life in a more healthy manner and this is something I’ll be doing for the rest of my days.  I’m not worrying about what I look like (not that I don’t have a secret desire) or how much I weigh (although, as a fat person, losing weight has been and will continue to be a side effect of being more healthy) I’m just working to live a healthier lifestyle and let the chips fall where they may.

I’m getting a little off track.  Course correction now engaged…

I’ve been seeing the same doctor for at least five years now, probably longer.  My doctor is pretty cool for the most part.  I mean he’s a Doctor and I’m not looking to go out for drinks after our appointment or anything like that, but as far as Doctors go, he doesn’t scare me or make me feel anxious and that’s really saying something because I’ve always hated going to the doctor.  The biggest complaint I have about my Doctor is that every time I would go in to see him he’d ask me about my weight and why it was so high.  I’d give him some kind of answer to placate him and try to avoid really discussing it with him because I wasn’t really ready to do anything about it, let alone do the right thing about it.  Even though I didn’t dislike my Doctor like I have  disliked most Doctors over the years, I still always sort of dreaded going to see him because I knew this conversation was unavoidable.

About four years ago, I started The Abs Diet and lost 30-40 pounds.  I went out of town for nearly two weeks to visit my Aunt and Uncle and help plan and execute my Grandfather’s 90th birthday party.  During that time, I managed to eat fairly healthfully, but I didn’t exercise once the entire time.  I had an appointment with my Doctor right after I got back, though now I have no recollection of the reason why.  I sat on the table in the exam room waiting for him to come in, and feeling somewhat enthusiastic because I just knew my Doctor was going to come in and comment on the fact that I’ve lost weight and encourage me to keep it up.

When he finally did enter the exam room, he was all business (which he always is) and went straight to work addressing whatever my issue was at the time .  The good news is, he didn’t say anything about my weight.  The bad news is, he didn’t say anything about my weight.  Anything. I was so disappointed and while it would be inaccurate to say that “it’s his fault I gained it all back”, that’s how I felt for a long time.  I had done the diet, in part, to satisfy him and he didn’t even seem to notice.  (This, by the way, was an entirely wrong reason to do the diet.)  After that  I never got back to the gym and my dedication to the diet waned greatly to the point of hardly following it at all.  Eventually, I canceled my account because it was stupid to be paying for access to something I wasn’t even using.

Over the three or more years that followed, I gained back every pound I had lost and then some, culminating in the condition I was in when I started this blog, weighing 309 pounds, never exercising and being in a lot of denial about what I looked like and what my condition really was.

About a year ago, I decided that I wasn’t happy being so over weight.  I decided I needed to do something about it.  I wasn’t fully convinced yet, but I was working on it.  I started paying attention to what I was eating.  A lot of that time was spent paying attention to how bad the things I was eating were, while I continued to eat them, but I firmly believe that’s an important first step.  If you’re not being honest with yourself about your eating you won’t be able to change it.  OK, I’m getting off track again.

Anyway, a few months later, I began seriously considering a career change.  I’m still considering it and I don’t know if it’s going to be realistically feasible or not.  But I’m thinking of becoming an EMT.  (Clearly this part of this post is for you newbies who have never read this blog before – and my guess is there aren’t any of you reading this.  Oh well.)  I realized that I couldn’t physically do the job and that if I was serious about becoming an EMT I was going to have to make some serious changes in my life to be able to physically do the job.  What I realize now is, whether I change careers or not, whether I become an EMT or not, I don’t ever want to be held back by my physical ability again.

When I started, a year ago, just being cognizant of what I was eating, I lost 10-15 pounds.  When I went to take care of my mother, for two weeks, after her by-pass surgery and ate many of my meals (healthy ones) with her, (but still sometimes eating junk when not with her) I lost another 10 pounds, all from paying attention to what I was eating.  But by then I was beginning to be more thoughtful of my choices and deliberately choosing healthier fare.  Once I made up my mind that I wanted to be healthier physically, I joined a gym and I began really trying to plan my meals and eat better.

I am now, once again using The Abs Diet but not because I’m “on a diet”.  I’m using it because for a relatively nominal fee, I get a preplanned menu with good food (and the ability to swap out anything I don’t want), a prepared shopping list for that menu, a preplanned work-out routine for the gym and a mechanism for tracking my progress.  It takes all the guesswork out of it for me and I like that!  Using this program for guidance, but not adhering religiously to the letter of the law on it, I am, as of this morning, down to 255 pounds – which, by the way, is just one pound over what I weighed the day I sat in the Doctors office waiting for him to congratulate me only to have him not say a word.

What’s the point of all this?  Well, I’ll tell you.  I had a Doctors appointment this morning.  Nothing major.  I pulled something several weeks ago, while on the stationary bike at the gym.  I thought it would go away on it’s own, but it hasn’t and it’s preventing me from being able to stretch properly, which in turn is making it harder for me to follow through on my running endeavor.

I sat on the bed in the exam room for just a couple short minutes while I waited for the Doctor to come in and the minute he walked in the door, the very first words out of his mouth were, “Well, you’ve lost a significant amount of weight!”

Yes!  Yes, I have!  It’s about damn time you noticed!!!

Here We Go Again

Last Monday marked my final day of Personal Training for a little while.  I’m disappointed for sure.  I liked having the help, and the accountability is more helpful than you can imagine.  With someone waiting for you at a set time and day at the gym, it’s a lot harder to blow it off.  With someone telling you how many of which exercises you’re supposed to do, and not feeling sorry for you when you whine and whimper, it’s harder to slack off once you’re there.

Of course, there were some draw backs as well.  Tawaiin’s measure of my success was my weight and measurements.  There’s a whole elaborate set of measurements that they take every three weeks to track your progress.  I suppose that makes sense from a tracking standpoint, but it didn’t matter to me, weight loss wasn’t my primary reason to be there, and toward the end, I found that I was dreading going on the days that he would take my measurements.  My goal was to get stronger, have more endurance.  I’m not sure about the endurance, just yet, but I definitely got stronger, even just working with him one day a week.

Of course, I see a difference in how I look.  My waist is slimmer, my chest is less “moob”-like (that’s man boobs for anyone who doesn’t know.)  There is the slightest of diagonal lines running from my collar bones to my armpits and slightly less slight diagonal bulges running around the outside of my upper arms.  This is good.  I wouldn’t dare say I’m looking buff, far from it.  But this is good.  Imagine what I could have accomplished with twice a week sessions… or, you know, working out any other day of the week.

I couldn’t afford to see Tawaiin twice a week, and sadly, I never really learned how to work out on my own.  For the last month or so, I only went to the gym on Monday’s.  Not getting my money’s worth and not getting the maximum impact.  Nonetheless, I lost twenty-eight pounds; I don’t know how many inches; and four or five percentage points in “BMI”.  When I started, I was fully entrenched in the ”NOT HEALTHY” section of their chart.  On the last night, he took measurements and I was .01% below the “NOT HEALTHY” section in the “Acceptable” category.  I would have to lose another ten percent to fit into the “Fit” category.  I don’t know if that will ever happen.  I did build some strength and endurance, and for that I am grateful.

A few years ago, I signed up for a program through Men’s Health Magazine called The Abs Diet.  I really liked it because it took all the guesswork out of everything.  Computer generated, but fully customizable, weekly meal plans, daily work-out routines ready and waiting, progress tracking all right there on the website.  It was great.  It is for a fee, but it’s a pretty reasonable fee for what you get (about $15.00 a month.)

One of the new features since I last signed up for the program is a support section, a community of users in a forum and a personal journal which can be kept private or made public… Kinda like a blog.

Anyway, I wrote this, this morning and frankly, I don’t think I can sum things up any better than I did:

Yesterday was my first day of my second go round with this diet.  I did the Abs Diet for several months a few years ago.  I liked it and did fairly well with it without going crazy with every little detail.

I really enjoyed having the meal plan laid out for me without having to put much thought into it.  Each week, I printed out a detailed list of meals and a grocery list to accommodate those meals and, bam!, my thinking was done for me.  The part I struggled with was the exercise.  I never really knew what I was doing and my resources were limited.  I lived in an apartment complex with a gym, (now I live in a duplex) but it was a somewhat limited space and in the evenings it was too crowded to be able to make use of it.  I tried to make it in the mornings, and I did for awhile, but it was tough – I’m not a morning person.

(Full disclosure – I was also drinking pretty heavily and it was tough to make that fit into the plan and get up early enough in the mornings to work out.  Now I don’t drink at all, but I’m still not much of a morning person.)

I went on a two week vacation to visit extended family and didn’t work out a single day while I was away and I just never managed to get back on that horse when I came home.

I started that go round at nearly 290 pounds.  The lowest weight I remember seeing on the scale before I gave up was 254.  My weight climbed slowly – or rather, I thought it was slowly – and I was distressed but never motivated to do anything about it.  For the next three years my weighted fluctuated back and forth always climbing a little higher before coming down again and at my worst I was up to 309 pounds.

Through paying closer attention to what I was eating, eliminating Alcohol from my life and trying to be more active in general, in my daily life, that number came back down to about 288 pounds.

Last year, I decided I wanted to consider a career change and become an Emergency Medical Technician.  The field fascinates me and I’ve got some work experience that lends itself in that direction.  I looked at what they have to do, and I looked at my own condition and knew that physically, I can not do it.  I can’t lift the amount of weight an EMT has to lift and I don’t have the stamina to do a physical job all day long.

In October, I joined 24 hour fitness.  In November, I signed up with a personal trainer.  I worked out with him once a week.  I would have liked to do more, and he wanted me to do more, but it was simply too expensive to do more than once a week.  I’ve gotten own to 265 pounds.  Last week was my final session before the funding ran out.  I couldn’t afford to go back again.  I want to go back as soon as I’m able but it’s insanely expensive and I really don’t know where I’m going to find the funding to pay for it.  And then I remembered the Abs Diet.  I remembered the step by step outlines of what exercises to do and what food to eat and everything.  So I signed up again.

Yesterday was the first day.  I printed out my meal plan and my work out plan and set about making it work.  It was a little tough. I’m a big brother and I spend Sunday afternoons with my Little.  We went to a miniature golf/go kart/arcade/etc center.  Fortunately, food never entered the equation yesterday, but it was five hours out of the middle of my day and I didn’t manage to fit my afternoon “snack #2” into the day.  I went to the gym in the morning, later than I had wanted to.  I thought if I could get there early enough, the weight room wouldn’t be terribly packed and I could figure it out.  I realized, only after I got there and started reviewing the paperwork, that I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing.  The machines all look like medieval torture devices and there are limited, if any, instructions.  I ended up faking most of the exercises using the Nautilus type equipment at the other end of the gym that no one wants to use.

I know that I was better off using that equipment than not doing anything at all.  I also know that a leg press is not the same as a squat and that I won’t get the same results by doing different exercises than what the program prescribes.

I like today’s prescription.  Walk for 45 minutes?  I can do that.  That was always my favorite part from the last go round too…  I’m hoping that tomorrow, I can get into the gym super-early before work and fumble around like an idiot with some of the torture devices– er, weight machines and figure out what the hell I’m doing.

I walked in there yesterday telling myself not to worry about the other people and what they might think looking at me as I screwed everything up, but apparently, I didn’t listen.  I know that if I can just acclimate myself to how it all works, I’ll be fine.  It’s just the acclimating that’s proving to be difficult.  Here’s hoping for a better outcome tomorrow.