Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trick or Treat? . . .

The TREAT was being home in time for Halloween Trick or Treating fun. The TRICK was a 23 hour drive in just under 26 hours . . . with sleep. Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2007

On the Road Again . . .

With only about 30 hours to go until I strap in to the ol' Matrix for the drive to Kansas, this story appeared today on with healthy eating tips for a road trip.

According to the article - a few simple actions can make all the difference . . .

• Plan ahead, bring food with you
• Drink plenty of water
• Choose grilled chicken, fish, meat
• Eat fresh fruits and vegetables

Finally a suggested diet that feels like just about every day to me. Here's what I'm packing (food and beverage wise) for my road trip . . .

1 - Four "Super Sized" Pure Protein Blueberry Crumb Cake protein bars (28g of Protein, 10g fat and 3g sugar in each bar). I'll eat one for dinner Tuesday night and then one for breakfast Wednesday morning with the other two as "safety" meals in case I can't find something else I want to eat (I should be home in time for dinner Wednesday night).

2 - A 1.5 Liter bottle of Glaceau's Smart Water - I'll nurse it all day Tuesday and will have it Wednesday morning too, just in case (room tempurature water doesn't scare me - it is apparently better for you and digestion anyway). I'll likely need more water along the way too but, that is why we stop to pee anyway, right? So we can put more fluids in our bodies?

3 - Three bags of "Smaller Hips Jalapeno Cheddar" Revival Diet Non-Naughty Nibbles. Don't let the name fool you - unlike "the pill" they may be MARKETED to womean, but they are ingestible by either gender. These snacks pack quite the flavor wallop and with only 100 calories and 7 grams of protein (0 grams sugar) they make a great road trip snack (or TV snack, for that matter).

Now, unlike when Joy made the trip two months ago - I will not be stopping for sit-down meals so I should make better time on the trip BUT I will be stopping every three hours to walk for 15 - 20 minutes and to just stretch my legs in general (I need my excercise daily, right?) and also, unlike Joy, I will probably rob a gas station somewhere around the Ohio/Indiana state line - just to prove that I can do ANYTHING after surgery.

Okay, that last part is a lie. Joy robbed a gas station too.


If you are the Indiana State Police.

Or the owners of the gas station.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pants - My Life Seems to be About Pants . . .

My khaki obsession resumed today when I tried on two pairs of pants in two different sizes at the JCPenney in the Danbury Fair Mall.

Now I know, I know . . . STOP talking about your stupid pants, Sean. And I will try. I promise.

There is a point to this open love letter to the cotton twill pant - reread that first sentence. I was shopping for khakis IN a store IN the mall. Not CasualMaleXL. Not Rochester Big and Tall. Not Westport Big and Tall. Not even Men's Wearhouse. I was shopping for pants - and had options - in yet another store that - until very recently - only my skinnier counterparts could frequent for all their khaki needs.

There is good news and better news. First - it was great. They had brown, navy, olive, black and grey pants to choose from . . . they had two different inseams to choose from . . . they had pants made by four different companies to choose from . . . I HAD CHOICES in khakis. Second - I am another two inches smaller in the pants than I was just a month ago. I've lost 18 inches off my waist. 18. That is a foot-and-a-half to you and me. Ava's waist is not even 18 inches around to begin with. I've lost my daughter's waist from my waist . . . and then some.

Anywho - I didn't buy the khakis when it was all said and done. I couldn't find the right inseam/waist ratio and if you factor in the price of the pants and the price of the alteration - they were more expensive than the pants I could get at CasualMaleXL that come to my exact specifications.

What a great thrill though. Another store to shop in. Another 2" off my waist. Another of life's little moments after surgery that remind me how wonderful life after surgery really is.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dinner with Tom Kelly . . .

I had dinner with one of my best friends from college tonight, Thomas J. Kelly. Now Tom and I used to have a very similar life - we both lived in the same 12ft. x 17ft. room. We both studied Mass Communications and we had the same circle of friends.

Life, of course, could only be that simple for the four years we both spent at Quinnipiac. A lot has changed since then. Tom works for The View. He also writes a radio prep sheet for morning radio shows and he writes comedy and preforms stand up comedy. I work in Public Relations. We both have followed our paths and we both seem very, very happy in our choices and our chosen lifestyles.

That being said - we're just not as close as we once were. Not that anything happened or that we had a falling out or whatever . . . I mean, sure, there have been some issues along the way (we were friends, right? friends fight, right?!) but the main obstacle to our friendship has just been life itself. We have lived within 90 minutes of each other for 18 months - and I just saw Tom four days before I left town - and he came to see me on his way to a wedding up 95 from Stamford.

It was a great dinner, truth be told. It was nice to sit down with Tom, catch up, share some memories and talk about how different life is now v. 10 years ago when we thought we knew what the next decade might bring us.

Tom, of course, made a big deal of the new smaller me. He thought I was back down to my Freshman year weight (truth be told - I'm about 20 pounds heavier now than I was when we graduated so - I have about 80 more pounds to go to get back to Freshman year weight). I was just happy to think that I have undone almost a decade of weight gain and could still sit and enjoy a meal with a friend who knew me when . . .

The peace tour continues. And it feels great.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Gastric Bypass? Are you CRAZY? . . .

I'm behind by about ten days on this release but a co-worker just sent me this story from WebMD and CBS News that finds 20% of all gastric bypass candidates are eliminated from eligibility for the procedure through psychological screening.

Now, 1 in 5 is a considerable number. To put it in perspective - only 9% of all first time drivers license applicants were denied permission to drive, in Utah, according to a 2002 review and only 14% of all Americans believe that Double Stuf Oreos are better than the original sandwich cookie.

BUT that number, to me, seems about right. I've been around the GB block, yo. I've known many a candidate, many a patient, many a happy success story and many a person who had the surgery and is not doing enough to realize the full benefits of the surgery at this time. Why? It is HARD to be ready for gastric bypass because, as I see it, morbid obesity is not as much a physical condition as it is a mental condition.

I'm not alone in that opinion. According to Dr. Sean C. Amore, PhD in Nothing from the University of Make Believe, there is absolute and undeniable clinical proof that any person who can get to a weight and a BMI significant enough to qualify physically for GB has no doubt been through enough mental stress in their life to lead to their weight and mass.

It could be any number of things to explain the mental impact on the physical condition on the day OF evaluation. According to the WebMD article the main mental reasons barring people from surgery are . . .

- Overeating to cope with stress or emotional distress (62 percent)
- Eating disorder (27 percent)
- Uncontrolled mental disorder (20 percent)
- Current significant life stressors (11 percent)
- Lack of effort at following a formal diet program (8 percent)
- Lack of social support to cope with the transition after surgery (4 percent) - Unrealistic expectation of change (2 percent)

I would argue that the list of things that lead, mentally, to the day of the evaluation and the weight of the patient might include abuse (physical, sexual, mental, verbal, etc.) as a child, adult or both, a poor self image through negative reinforcements and peer pressures, a significant life event that lead to depression without enough other coping mechanisms beyond food and, in my case, a sense that you are not your weight and people should know better.

I, myself, had two significant mental problems that lead to my life of severe obesity. One, I was never really sure of myself as a child/adult/person and two, I was pretty sure that as long as I didn't know myself, I might as well keep on eating. I was crazy enough to think that I would find myself at the bottom of a bag of chips or at the crust of the last slice of pizza or in the bottom of a large soda or whatever.

I won't blame any one person or any one thing for my life or my weight. Well - I blame MYSELF for it, I suppose.

In the meantime - I'm less emotional than I once was. I'm very much at peace with my role as a husband and a father and with profession and with my family and with my friends. I found myself some where along the way and realized, about two years ago, that I had to have this surgery and I started trying to clean up the mental challenges at that time to be more ready when my surgery date actually arrived.

To those people that maybe did not get through the mental screening of the pre-surgery procedure or for people who are prepping for surgery and are afraid they won't be able to say good-bye to food or that they are not ready for the changes they will have to undertake - I say GOOD FOR YOU. Take pause. Think it over. Be ready. Get ready. Look at why you are eating and try to figure it out and deal with it and put it to peace before the surgery. Another month or year of delay as you work on the mental - or never having the surgery period but KNOWING what is driving you to overeat and gain weight, etc. - is worth the delay because you will be better off on the other side of that delay.

As any one who has gone through the procedure only to find themselves not ready on the other side could tell you - that number, 20%, sounds fair but - if it was 21% or more . . . it might not be a terrible thing.

In the meantime, I wish continued health and success - physically and mentally to you!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Whatcha Been Up To? . . .

Greetings. I just realized that I haven't posted in almost a week . . . very unlike me and I apologize. Things are okay - fret not. It has been QUITE a week though - no joke, no doubt . . .

FIRST - my mother is in the hospital. As I've mentioned many times, I come from heavy stock. My mother and father - while not nearly as heavy as I have been in my younger life (I still weigh more than them, frankly) BUT - they are much older and much more "entrenched" in their mentalities about food and diet. That being said - my mother is having some serious colon issues. She has diverticulitis and she has a perforation in her colon and she has only just started to realize that a lifetime of poor diet has had a terrible effect on my mother's health. She is facing the chance of multiple surgeries and she's been in the hospital five days already and the end is not yet in sight for her. My heart goes all the way out to her and I wish her a quick and full recovery, clearly, but the whole time I was at the hospital this weekend - I just kept thinking - THANK GOD I had this surgery before all the health demons under an unhealthy eater's bed came out and got me while I slept (or worse, while I was awake). I am so very, very sure that a far worse hand would have been dealt to me if I would have stayed on the path I was on. Get well soon, Mom. I love you very, very much and wish you all the best through this process.

SECOND - I have been busy prepping for my big drive west to Wichita. Once again, I have been thinking a lot lately about time and opportunities and how life is a funny thing. We have only driven out to Wichita together one other time. It was the summer of 2006 when we were waiting for Gracie to be born. I was in the high 400s at the time. The whole drive was almost painful. Crammed behind the wheel. Stuffed in the passenger seat. Only stopping long enough for gas and to eat, go the bathroom and sleep. I got to Wichita and I was so damned glad to be out of that car, I swam about two hours a day in Mom and Dad Terry's pool for the first two weeks we were in town. I lost about 20 or 25 pounds. Then, I got an ear infection - a pretty bad one - I was ordered out of the pool until I got better and then Ava was born and then we left . . . I wonder how much more comfortable the drive to Wichita will be next week and I wonder if being trapped in my car for two days will make me want to walk and walk and walk for miles and miles and miles when I get there. How much weight will I lose just being reunited with Joy and Ava and just having my heart back in one piece? I can't wait to find out . . .

THIRD - I am continuing my "peace tour" - it was great to be back in Upstate, New York this weekend and to get some Ithaca-in-October air in my lungs. My father and I went to collegetown so I could get a Cornell sweatshirt and we had to park a few hundred yards away from the store. As anyone who's been in Ithaca's collegetown before could tell you - it is pretty much all up and/or down hill to walk around. We had quite the climb to get to the sweatshirt store and my father didn't do so well. We had to pause in the middle of the hill for him to catch his breath and he sat in the store while I shopped to further recover from the climb. I, on the other hand, had no problem climbing the hill or shopping at the top . . . what a difference seven months has made . . . NO WAY I could have ever climbed that hill before my surgery. NO WAY I would have not been winded and NO WAY I would not have driven around for an hour looking for a closer parking spot to avoid the walk/climb. In the meantime, peace be with you - collegetown!

FOURTH - I have just posted to my blog - for the first time in almost a week.

PS - Jez, you are my hero! Keep it up, bruddah!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Long Term Goals Cut Short . . .

I attended support group last night, as I have once a month for the last nine months, and I had another fun evening with friends old and new (lookin' good Hank, Cathy, Kate and Julie, etc.) and, as per always, the evening was well worth the time invested.

The only lowlight (overall - a very upbeat and fun session) was something that I don't know if anyone but me in the room even realized or took as a slight but, in my beady little brain . . . there was another sign that no matter where you are, people will sell you short because of your weight.

The set up . . . we had a guest speaker (who was great and he meant NO harm (to level set)) who gave us all a quiz at the end of his presentation.

Got your pencils ready?

Question number four (paraphrasing) . . .

A long term goal to lose a large amount of weight is a good short term motivator: TRUE FALSE

What is the answer?

THAT is where the "conflict" was born.

Our speaker, in his medically trained and professionally qualified experience (and in his ignorance that I was in the room), felt it was absolutely false that deciding that you want lose a large amount of weight over a longer period of time in any way motivates you to work harder in the short term. He felt that it would only be appropriate, if weight loss was your goal, to set short term goals to work towards in the short term. It makes sense, right?

Not to me. Here's my thing (get out the soapbox, kids, I'm climining on it) . . . don't sell me and my fat peers short. Don't decide for us what motivates us or what motivations will work for us. All of our lives - no matter where we go - people are doing that. Making decisions about who we are and what we are and what we are capable of based on our physical bodies and our inabitlity to maintain our weight BUT every journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step BUT - if you are foolish enough to WANT a 1,000 mile journey . . . you were working for that when you took that first step, right?

The medical community has long sold obese people short. My primary care doc, her degrees on the wall behind her, treated me like an idiot that would not even read her pamphlets on healthy eating and blood pressure management because of my fat. I'm heavy, not illiterate, you twit!
I get why she did that, I guess. Our culture sells us short. Our friends and family often sell us short. Shoot - we sell ourselves short most of the time.
There is ONE place where we need to get all the credit in the world . . . in that room. In that support group. In the medical and social treatment of us before, during and after our surgery. We clap for every little thing in that room - because none of them are small things in that room.

No one should be able to sell us short in that room. No one should doubt us.
We are all coming to grips with (before or after surgery) a HUGE decision, a HUGE life change, a HUGE defining moment in our lives and a HUGE challenge to live the next x days of our new lives knowing that all we knew is gone. All we used food for is gone. All that our weight meant to us (good and bad) is leaving. We need to be supported and encouraged. Even if we fail. Even if we aren't able to motivate ourselves. Even if we are frustrated and annoyed. We need, most importantly, to believe in the power of ourselves. That WE (you, me, the new guy, the former Marine, Cathy's sister . . . WE CAN GET THERE - we CAN overcome our weight - in time.)

Here's my thing - I have always been fat and was always gaining weight (with brief periods of diet and loss here and there). I knew, with every pound I gained in my life (and I gained 520 of them) that I would eventually want to have those pounds off me. I would lose them - one after another - or I would die and my soul would leave all 520 behind at once. One way or another . . . I would lose them.

The week before my surgery, I set my goals. I wanted to add 20 years to my life. I wanted to dodge diabetes and cholesterol and heart disease and stroke. I wanted to climb stairs and have my breathe when I got to the top. I wanted to skydive.

More relevant to this rant . . . I wanted to lose 10% of my body weight (48 pounds) in one month. I wanted to lose 10% of the remaining weight of my body in the next three months. I wanted to lose 10% of the remianing weight of my body in the next three months. I wanted to lose 10% of the remaining weight of my body in the next three months, etc. etc. etc. One week before my surgery, at 483 pounds and in my car in the drive thru at McDonald's (ah, inspiration strikes where it wants to strike, I guess), I decided that I would some day weigh 220 pounds (I've since changed my goal weight to 200 pounds).

So, how am I doing? GREAT, thank you. Ahead of schedule, thank you. Still losing weight, one pound at a time, thank you. Still BELIEVING that I will get to my long term goals based on short term success and incrimental movement towards those goals, thank you.

Will I get to my goal? Hard to say. Am I MOTIVATED to get to my long term goal to lose 263 pounds eventually by the loss of each individual pound in the meantime. You betcha!

Bottom line - enough of this doubting and trying to protect us from setting big, long term goals. Enough of the nay sayers and the doubters and the cynics and the people who will decide that because you are fat and you needed this surgery to battle that fat that you can't get to where you want to go with your weight. Enough of the negative reinforcements and doubting the will power of the obese. No more of the implication that you can't dream big about getting small.

YOU can do it, my friend. Set yourself a nice, big, lofty, ambitious and brazen goal. Hell, set TWO of 'em.
If you can take it one step at a time and if you can follow the rules and ride out the low moments . . . I'll look you in the eye and repeat that you can and you WILL do it any time you want to hear it.
YOU, like skinny people (if I understand how the world really works (smile)) can do anything, if you just take it one step and one pound at a time.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Want Some Taco Bell . . .

Some co-workers are going to Taco Bell for lunch today. "Makin' a run for the border," they quipped (hardy-har). The obligatory "Do you want anything, Sean?" was, of course, lobbed at me and the equally obligatory "No, thank you." was lobbed back. Then, I got to thinking . . . I COULD eat at Taco Bell. I have since my surgery, for that matter. Three times. We were, all three times, traveling and it was the easiest fast food and their Bean Burrito "Fresco" style only has 7g of fat and 12g of Protein (for full nutrtion of all of Taco Bell's "treats" click here).

Anywho, I had another one of those "oh my" moments. Back in the day - if my office mates were rolling out to Taco Bell. Or if Joy wanted Taco Bell. Or if I was driving past/near/in a 10 mile radius of a Taco Bell. I WOULD have had Taco Bell. And LOTS of it. And not the "Fresco" style (I had to protect my "honor"). I used to eat a lot of Taco Bell. And Popeye's and Long John Silvers and McDonalds and Burger King and Wendy's and Hardee's and . . . you get the picture.

I can honestly say that I am sort of sickened by how much fast food I have eaten in my life - especially in the four years since I first bought a car (when the real trouble began, frankly). I'm mainly just ashamed of the way I would eat fast food. The way I would think about fast food. Like if it was eaten in my car, and if it was only $1 or so per item . . . it didn't really count or something. Joy mentioned it in her post a few months ago but I would eat fast food on my way home to eat fast food. It was a problem. I am sorry for it now. I can't go back though - only forward.
I won't say I will NEVER eat fast food again - that would be a lie. I like the grilled chicken wraps from McDonald's (no sauce, light cheese, throw away the excess tortilla/wrap-thingy) and I like a bean burrito from Taco Bell every now and again too. BUT I have maybe eaten fast food seven times since my surgery. That's about once a month. And only about 300 calories per time v. the thousands I probably used to consume each time that I "treated" myself to it. I WILL say though, on this cloudy and dreary Wednesday morning, that I won't eat Taco Bell today.

Day by day. Day by day. Day by day. These are how the changes in a life are measured and how the progress in eating habits are seen.

Enjoy your Gorditas and your Chilupas, officemates. I am going to have turkey and cheese on a whole-wheat pita.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cleaning Out My Closet . . .

Upon retuning from Wichita late last night (it was about 1:45 AM by the time I got off the road for the night) I was trying to unpack my suitcase and I realized that it is once again time to clean out my closet.

I have four different sized pants in my closet. I have three different sized sportscoats. I have three sizes of dress shirts and four sizes of casual shirts (can you tell that I got a little distracted by my clothes - even well in to the early morning hours?). As I started stuffing in to a garbage bag (Goodwill will be getting some good will from me this evening) - I started thinking about the metaphoric closet of my life too.

As many of you know, I am just a few weeks away from making the move to Wichita to be there with Joy and Ava full time (for those that don't know - I am just a few weeks away from making the move to Wichita to be there with Joy and Ava full time). I am leaving behind my job, the 31 years I have lived in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic United States, the nuclear family of my childhood and the extended family and network of friends I have come to rely on over the years.

There are a lot of emotions I have about this, naturally. The first and the most powerful is - of course - elation that I am soon going to be back with MY family (Joy and Ava) and that that I am making the necessary sacrafices for us to have a better and happier life as a family. At the same time, I have some anxiety about having to resocialize myself and going in to a very different political/social culture than the one I am used to (PLEASE don't start stereotyping Wichita or Kansas - it is a wonderful place - it is just different than here - not better or worse in all ways (but better and worse in some)).

I am also struggling with the fact that I am going to be facing the very real chance that I might never again see friends of mine from high school, college, my DC/Baltimore years and even my year and a half here in the New York/Connecticut area. Not that I don't want to see them again or they don't want to see me but I have barely seen any of the people from each "previous phase" of my life as I enter in to the "next" phase . . . why would this transition be any different?

So I'm at a crossroads - I can make myself crazy and try to figure out a way to see everyone one last time (or see them again and promise (each and every one of them)) that this is not goodbye OR I can just sort of let my life and my actions in this life speak for themselves.

There are, true to my nature, complications with that logic. What about the friend that I left things on not-so-good terms with? What about the friend that is still waiting for me to return borrowed DVDs or CDs? What about the friend that owes ME DVDs or CDs? What about the friend that worried about my health and my weight for years but never saw me in this phase of my weight struggle - losing weight, feeling good, hopeful that I've "won" this time, looking healthier than I have in almost a decade, etc.? What about the friend that I never told them how much them meant to me? Or the friend that never had a chance to tell me what a jack ass I am?

So, for now, I'm going to start cleaning out my other closet too. Getting out the trash bag and heading for the Goodwill.

I won't make myself crazy in that process though. I'm not even going to try to see a fraction of the significant number of people that have meant significant things to me in my life. I might send some e-mails, I might make some calls, I might hope to see a handful of them and I might even try to plan our next trip back east around the hope of seeing people then. I might just make sure that my contact numbers and e-mail addresses for people are up to date. I might just try to make sure they have my information (this is a two way street, I suppose).

I'm rambling.

The point is that I am mainly looking for peace at this point. I am already AT peace with my (our, more over) decision to make this move. With leaving this job. With finding another one. With having my family in a better place for us.

What I still need is more peace. Peace with my weight. Peace with the struggle that I am currently waging against my weight. Peace with my family. Peace with my friends. Peace with the voices in my head that used to make me feel like I "had" to see all these people or "had" to reach out to all of these people. Peace with the fact that part of the transition in my life is understanding that everything is changing: my eating, my body, my mentalities, my emotional crutches, my hopes for "normal" and the way I am percieved by strangers and intimate relations alike based on the size and shape of my body, etc. My zip code, social circle and mentalities on who I have been and who I will be might as well change too.

I can't afford to look too deep or too long at my old life or the person I was or the great times I had or the adventures I undertook or the stupid things I said or the mistakes I made in those "previous" phases of my life. I can only offer peace and try to take peace away in return.

I will only find peace with all those things if I clean out my closet and share that good will back.

For those who know me best and are rolling their eyes right now - I might remind you that if you don't know this part of me (DISCLAIMER - Just a few short years ago (months?) I would have laughed in your face if you tried to talk to me about making peace and acceptiong things and trying to make your life simpler by doing so, etc. I have not always been the nicest of jolly fat men!) perhaps it is because you don't know the next phase of me or the latest attempt at me.

Me today is cluttered. It's not perfect - but it is improving. It's streamlining, it's decluttering, it's focusing on quality over quantity and it is looking to grow and develop and further to reflect who I really am versus what used to fit "me" or who I was or what seemed like the right thing for the moment. Just like my closet.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Cause of Death . . .

Clearly, I have nothing but sympathy for the husband and six surviving children of Annette High but I have a problem with the way the story of her death has been told.

Here is the headline . . .

"Mum-of-six dies days after gastric bypass she was convinced would 'improve her life'"

Here is the cause of death, three paragraphs below . . .

"She died as a result of heart disease."

NOW - no doubt that being overweight most of her life, as the article implies she was, had put strain on her heart and no doubt that, as the article points out, the surgery itself might have put her body through enough stress to agrivate the heart condition she had PREVIOUSLY DEVELOPED but - is it responsible to imply that gastric bypass killer her?

NO! It would be like if you went to McDonalds and used the drive thru and, as you pulled back on to the street you were blind sided and killed . . . and they said the Big Mac killed you. Okay, maybe not but you see my point.
What WOULD be appropriate is what she said to her husband who begged her not to have the surgery . . .

"I warned her people had died having them, but she said people also died from being overweight."

What killed Annette was her weight and her heart. She had tried the lap band which worked at first, as it often does but it was no longer as effective and she was gaining weight again (as statistics would show is very common). She decided to take her weight in her own hands and have this surgery. She saw it as a way to extend and protect her life and her health.

Her heart, not gastric bypass, decided otherwise.

Again, no disrespect to Annette's memory or the remorse of her family and friends - I'm sure that I would be looking for any one to blame and any finger to point if my wife was ever taken from me by any circumstance BUT, the journalist who wrote this story should have had better senses to put this story in the appropriate context.

The story does point out that there are risks of death following surgery (I would disagree, based on my readings and research and experience, that 2% of patients die within a month of having the operation but - the University of Washington says it is true so . . . ) and that her heart condition was "possibly" upset by the surgery.

I, like Annette and no doubt many other people who have struggled with their weight and made this agonizing and somewhat scary decision looked at the risks of surgery and the chances of serious complications (including death) associated with it and then I, like Annette, looked at what my life might include without the surgery and the far more serious complications and risks that I would face and the far greater likelihood that my life would be cut short without doing "something."

I can only hope that most would-be patients are confident and emotionally ready enough to make their decision without stories like this - freakish occurences - obstructing or blurring their view of what lies ahead of them.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Feeling Blah about Food . . .

I think I'm hitting my "wall" when it comes to my normal food regiment.

Not to say that it has to be this way - in reality I CAN eat thousands and thousands of foods in this world. Flavors could and should abound. It should be a great treat and a great reward to find foods that are delicious and nutrtious and dine sensibly on them. I just have to be smart about it, watch portion size, count my calories, sugars, fats and proteins and know that I am responsible for every bite I put in my mouth.

The reality is also that I am very afraid of food still - after almost seven months. I eat a very, very small arsenal of foods. Those foods include . . .

- Fat Free/Skim Milk
- Reduced Fat Triscuits
- Reduced Fat Cheese
- Chicken Breast (no skin and often from the deli)
- Turkey Breast (no skin and often from the deli)
- Whole Wheat or Whole Grain Pitas/Wraps
- Protein Bars (I like Pure Protein and Protein Plus brands the best)
- Fat Free Refried Beans
- Chicken, Turkey and/or Beef Chili
- Boca Chik'n and "beef" Patties
- Black Bean Soup
- Fat Free Sour Cream
- Fat Free and Sugar Free Yogurt
- Hummus
- Veggies
- Sugar Free Mentos candies (no more than two or three discs per day)
- Egg Whites
- Salsa, Mustard, Reduced Fat Mayo and Pickle Stackers for "flavor"
- Water, Flavored Waters and my new favorite Fuze Slenderize and Tea (hot or cold) every now and again too.

Oh - and I eat Fat Free Pringles Light and Fat Free Pretzel Nubs if I'm feeling desperate for "salty junk food" (limiting portion control to no more than one portion per day and being sure to count those calories for the day (fret not)).

That's pretty much it. Has been. For seven months. If I'm being honest - MOST days, I just consume fat free milk on my drive to work, a protein bar for breakfast, a cup of chili for lunch, a turkey or chicken or Boca pita for dinner and some triscuits for an evening snack. I eat on the low end of the 800 - 1200 calorie per day dietary guidelines almost every day.

I'm in a rut though. It's starting to take its toll on me. Like looking at my closet in the morning trying to find something to wear - there are lots of options, there are lots of things that I am familiar with and that have served me well and that would do the trick but - I just can't seem to find anything I WANT to wear. Today, for instance, I'm wearing a blue v-neck wool sweater, a button down shirt from before surgery so it's way too big on me (collar just POPPING out) some pleated (I just thew up a little in my mouth) khakis so I can have the smaller waist I want and the room for my still-big belly that I need and my favorite loafers. Uninspired! I'm feeling the same way about my brown bag lunch and my breakfast too. Thank GOD they don't make pleated protein bars.

I need to break out - in my closet and the fridge. I know this. I've struggled with this before. In my long and legendary history of a dieting, about the time the food starts to bum me out - the diet starts to bum me out which CLEARLY means the diet needs to go (in my head at least).
I don't have that option now. This diet is for life.

I DO have the option to shake up my food choices though. Maybe I'll get a new bag-o-tricks for the next seven months or at least expand my food circle a bit.
In the meantime, my morning milk is getting warm and my protein bar is not going to eat itself after that. Blah.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

What's In a Name . . .

An interesting thing happened to me tonight while I was on my way to rescue a family of kittens from a burning tree . . . I started thinking about nicknames. The "affectionate" little psuedonyms that people put on us (and that we put on people) when calling people by their full names just don't set the right tone.

I'm not talking about people named Charles that go by Chuck or people named Penelope that go by Nickel. I'm talking about people who are known more as Mutt than they are Stephen (or what have you).

In my life, I've had several nicknames - a few of which I could share in this forum. My high school friends, for instance, called me "Pudge" and "Chester." My college friends called me AmSnoop, AmTrak, AmWay and AmErica . . . as well as Crumb and Bigs (based on my deep love for Christoper "Notorious B.I.G." Wallace. My graduate school/DC and, now, Connecticut friends have largely just called me Sean or the ever-popular professional tagging that is the last name only salute . . . Amore. Now, that doesn't count all the people that sing "That's Amore" when I walk in the room or "Sean Love" as I'm frequently monikered.

Of all the nicknames I have had, the one that has stuck was "Tons of Fun." Yep. You read that right. TONS of fun. I was three when my parents started calling me tons of fun. It was a compliment, I can assure you (my parents, both heavy themselves have never intended any slight on to me). The theory was that I was a heavy kid but I still had a good, cheery, rosy disposition.

I'm 31 years old. I've been up and down the scale - well into the mid-500 pounds range. My parents, my father especially, have always kept Tons of Fun as a term of endearment. And I'm okay with them calling me Tons of Fun.

Them. ONLY them. And that is because I feel like they have nurtured me and watched me grow and loved and supported me through all of my life. They still, in many ways, see me as their little boy. Their little funster.

Would I prefer a new nickname from my parents? Maybe. Would I prefer that maybe that nickname goes the way of the 160+ pounds I've lost? Perhaps. Am I sensitive to it? Nah. Not really. They are my parents. I can take it in stride from them.

Bottom line - as long as I know people have their hearts in the right place and as long as I feel like people are looking out for me and are using a nickname, any nickname, with love and affection - they can call me just about anything they want . . . even Pudge. Hell, I call my wife Pop Tart. What do I know?

I am what I am and I'm not afraid of that or ashamed of that or looking to shy away from that. But, let me repeat, no one but my parents can call me Tons of Fun. If they do, I'll give them one of my custom FOUR LETTER nicknames.

Monday, October 8, 2007

iNsiprational iTunes pLaylist . . .

Based on my open love letter to all things iTunes in a previous post, I got a question from a loyal reader (yes, there arepeople who check my blog "routinely" - Hi Aunt Gertie and Uncle Mort) asking me what songs I have on my iPod that I find to be encouraging or helpful. Well, get ready to roll your eyes, muscial cynics, because I am going to share a playlist with you here AND tell you why I like each song.

Enjoy . . .

iNspirational pLaylist . . .

1 - Why Georgia, John Mayer. I love John Mayer. I can't help it. I know, I know, I know. I said I can't help it. This song, having never lived in Georgia, feels like it was written for me. Why do you make certain decisions? Why can't you make other decisions? "Am I living it right?" The moral of the story is that you might never know for sure but - while you are there, eat a peach (or what ever people in Georgia do). I used to feel like I was in Georgia (or in the song) a lot before I met Joy and I still sometimes feel that way when I have a down day (work, weight, food, excercise, my friends, my family, etc.). "So what, so I've got a smile on. It's hiding the quiet superstitions in my head. Don't believe me. Don't believe me when I say I've got it down." Sometimes, I don't have it ALL "down" (shhhhh).

2 - I Live With It Every Day, Barenaked Ladies. I used to LOVE BNL. LOVE THEM. I've seen them in concert three times and I have only been to about seven or eight concerts (not held in concert halls) in my entire life. This song is one of my favorites off my favorite of their albums (Born on a Pirate Ship - say it while pulling the corners of your mouth out with your fingers and you sound like you are saying "Born on a pile of sh . . " (HILARIOUS))! This is another of those "That's right, I said/did/felt/implied/wrote/begged/urget that, and I understand now why it was wrong - but I'll worry about that later!" songs that embraces my general demeanor.

3 - Drinking in LA, Bran Van 3000. When I was in college, I would frequently go visit my friends Jess and Tim (who lived in Providence at the time). Tim was, to me, the ultimate cool cat - he bartended, he knew every one in Providence and he had an easy going sensibility about him (something I'm not exactly known for) and - perhaps most relevant here - he had a killer music collection. One of the groups he introduced me to (I was also with Tim the first time I heard Macy Gray sing on CD, among other greats over the years) was Bran Van 3000. The week between college finals and "Senior Week" - I stayed with Jess and Tim and I would listen to this song over and over again while they were at work. To this day, I can remember feeling like a total slacker and a cool kid all at the same time - with all the ease that comes with finishing school and the fear of having to then go on from school. Good song. Good times.

4 - Through the Wire, Kayne West. I'm not going to try to pretend this song somehow relates to my life or in some way speaks directly to my experiences (I've never been in a car accident or recorded my first platinum album) but - it's fun. I just love it. As Kayne explains - after his accident "Not to worry - Mr. Wizard is back to wiz-ork." After my surgery, when I was still home full time, I would walk two or three times a day and would listen to this song at least once per walk. At LEAST once. Mr. Wizard was back to wiz-ork!

5 - Humpty Dancy, the Digital Underground. There is nothing technically "uplifting" or "reaffirming" in this song. It's actually sort of crass and very insincere in direction but - I love it. Always have. Since the 8th grade or whatever. And, if I'm alone (or with people I trust) - you might just see me limp to the left like my leg was broken. Those who know the magic of the song will get the reference. For the rest of you - education is power!

6 - Not Ready to Make Nice, Dixie Chicks. Here is that moment where I lose some of you - I'm willing to take that risk. Many people walked away from the Chicks as fast as they did President Bush but, for my two cents, this song is exactly why I love the Dixie Chicks. A year and a half or so ago, there was a fairly serious toss up in my family and I got very upset and, in the process, I alienated my family and started to lose a good friend over taking a stand on something that my family did not understand. We've all made up in the meantime (for the most part (awkward smile)) - I apologized for all I said and did from my defensive stance - but this song still reminds me that my life is my life - and I'll do it my way. As long as I'm not hurting anyone (again, I apologize, sincerely, for what I have said and done that does hurt people) or asking anyone to take part if my decisions in that pursuit - I don't feel like I have to make apologies or bow to others for the right to be me.

7 - Storm Coming, Gnarls Barkley. Most people go for "Crazy" on this album (probably the biggest radio hit of 2006 - in their defense) but, for me, Storm Coming is the best way to go. This little diddy warns all listening that "I" am coming an you better watch out. "There is truth in the thunder, love in the lightning." Yes. Yes there is! And you'd better watch out accordingly. Or something like that.

8 - The Story, Brandi Carlisle. This song is one of those "whoa, where did that come from" type songs. It starts off all mellow and chill and then just starts kicking and screaming. "All of these lines across my face, tell you the story of who I am, So many stories of where I've been and how I got to where I am." Give it a listen. You'll love it. And you might just kick and scream when the chorus comes in too . . .

9 - In My Place, Coldplay. This song just makes me happy. I don't really know why. Coldplay is, admittedly, one of those bands that people love or hate (I'm in the "love" camp) but In My Place and Yellow are my absolute favorites. In My Place is another song that, for me, reaffirms that there is a time and a place for all of us and that we can try to stretch out of that spot but - we'll fall back in eventually - and be welcomed back. Like a nice, warm blanket just out of the dryer on a rainy day.

10 - When I Find Time, Cody Chesnutt. When we lived in Baltimore, I was still working in DC. I was gone from the house from about 6:00 AM until about 8:30 PM most days so Joy and I only really had the weekends to be together and my diet and my physical health were suffering, terribly. I would always tell Joy that I would get healthier when I had more time. That I would be less anxious when I had more time. That I would be better as a friend and husband when I had more time. I'm not really sure if life has really slowed down or if I really have more time (ah, parenthood) BUT I've made some changes that have helped guarantee that, eventually, we will have more time. In the meantime, this song always reminds me of how miserable I was when I had "no time" and how much happier I am these days.

11 - Knocks Me Off My Feet, Stevie Wonder. I love me some Stevie Wonder. "I celebrate his entire catalogue," - and all that jazz. This is one of my favorites though. It's a good song if you're just going for a walk or just trying to focus on life and how good it can be. AND - It's not a bore, Stevie, to tell people that you love them - or to hear it!

12 - Gonna' Make You Sweat, C+C Music Factory. I'm going old school on ya'. HIGH school - to be more percise. "It's your world and I'm just a squirrel trying to get a nut, so move your butt . . ." Need more be said? I didn't think so - now get out there and perspire! And wear SPANDEX while you do it, gentlemen.

13 - Mama Said Knock You Out, LL Cool J. I'm never been a boxer or a serious athelete and I've never been dismissed by my peers in the rap community either (I'm straight street, son, fo-real) but if I ever did want to start serious physical training OR if I felt like I had to fight my colleagues for respect . . . this song would be blaring in the background when it happened.

14 - Do It Anyway, Martina McBride - This song is just plain good. One of a long line of songs from Ms. McBride that I like - it's about the fact that all your effort COULD lead to nothing . . . but you won't know until you try. Sort of like a diet or excercise or a lifestyle change, right?

15 - Crazy, Seal - If you are not pumped up by the end of this song . . . play it again. This song makes me think of high school and how hard AND easy it was to just be yourself and to find out that the "right" people would accept you for that. No, we're never gonna' survive unless . . .

16 - Thank You, Alanis Morissette - Just a great song for knowing that you can't take it all on at once and that not everything in the world is "manageable" but if you just relax and let things happen - it will all be okay - EVENTUALLY. I find myself tapping my foot by the middle of the first verse. "How 'bout that ever elusive kudo?!"

17 - The Luckiest, Ben Folds - My wife and I danced to this song at our wedding. It's about knowing that you have your soulmate and that it is meant to be and that you might not deserve that love and support BUT you're not going to let it go.

18 - If Only, KT Tunstall. I have a musical crush on KT Tunstall. She makes me feel like my life is a teen high school drama or a young-20-something "coming of age" tale because all of her songs (except Black Horse and the Cherry Tree (?)) remind me of part of my experience here on Planet Earth (oh, the stories I'll tell when I return to the mother planet). If Only, off KT's new CD, reminds me of all five or six people who were ever silly enough to have told me I would never do x or would never realize y or would never become z. Well, look at me now. Or don't.

19 - Life is Beautiful, Vega4. I'm sure this song has been on or will some day BE on Gray's Anatomy or in some movie and I'll have to distance myself from it when I realize that (smile) but, in the meantime, I feel like Life is Beautiful is my little secret. Great song. Builds up the song as it helps you build up yourself. On my worst day, even in sarcasm or disdain, I like to remind myself aloud that life IS beautiful (or "grand" or "swell" or some other adjective that pops in to my brain in my moment of weakness). Of course, later that same day I see Joy and Ava or talk with my family or a friend and realize that life IS beautiful.

20 - Somerwhere Only We Know, Keane. Joy and I lost a pregnancy before we adopted Ava. It was a terrible, terrible experience to go through - as one could imagine and anyone who has gone through it can sympathize - but it was especially hard for me because I am an emotional idiot and I was ill prepared for the emotional process of being pregnant and becoming a parent to begin with and, just as I was starting to get my feet under me - I was tossed in the air again. We didn't just lose our pregnancy though - I almost lost Joy in the process. Joy, you see, was slowly internally bleeding to death, under my constant "watch" and "care" for four straight days. If we hadn't gone to see her doctor on day four, she would have died. No question about it. I live with that responsibility and that guilt every single day.

Of all that I have done right and all that I've done wrong in my life, that was my defining moment. That I held all that I loved in my arms but could not bring myself to really open my eyes enough to realize what terrible thing had happened inside her and what was happening to her.

My "big moment" was not my surgery. Not getting married. Not becoming a father. Not gradutating from high school or college or graduate school. It was not the first time I kissed a girl. It was not the first time I realized how small I was in this earth and in the universe. It was then. That moment. When they took Joy to emergency surgery and I was left truly alone . . . not knowing if she would come back.

I went home to get some things for Joy's stay in the hospital and to call our parents and explain what had happened and I turned on the radio. This song was playing. It was the first time I ever heard the song. I cried and cried and cried. I still do cry.
I have not been as selfish since that moment as I was my entire life up until that moment. I learned the lesson of my "big moment" and I am a better person for it. Keane helped me get through the moment - in some weird way.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Time Lost and Perspective Gained in Barnes & Noble . . .

I went book shopping today.

That's right - ME. I have only read nine books since I met my wife over four years ago. I am still an avid reader - magazines, newspapers, online, etc. but BOOK reading for me seemed to be a lost part of my life. It might be because of all of the reading I did in high school, college, graduate school and the years following grad. school, it might be that I think I have some sort of mental ADD against reading a multi-hundred page book but it likely is just that I am slow to find something that I am interested in enough to commit the time, effort and energy to reading - cover to cover.

One of the exceptions, which I have blazed about in the past, is Living Large.

I was there because, with all of my recent flights to and from Wichita (I'm going again this coming weekend (CAN'T WAIT)), I have decided to rededicate myself to reading and reading BOOKS at that! I was specifically at the book store though searching for a William Seward biography (long story - but I'll tell you what got me there - IF YOU WERE TO LIKEN YOURSELF TO ONE OF THE GREAT THINKERS OF ALL TIME, WHO WOULD YOU BE?). There was no Seward to be found though . . . but I didn't really look all that hard, to be honest.

I was, instead, drawn to the cookbooks, the self help books, the nutrtion and diet books and the workout books. I know, I know, a wee bit odd but there was a rhyme to my reason - Joy and I have been more "nesting" oriented lately (hence the cookbooks), I have been all about my own diet and nutrition lately and - the workouts . . . there is a new The Biggest Loser fitness book that I really, really want. The self help well . . . that one is not so clean cut. I was looking for a book on body dysmorphia but, on looking at a few, PHEWWWW - I realized I do not have body dysmorphia at all (according to the self help book aisle at least (smile)). After getting overwhelmed and spending almost two hours in the non-fiction section, I headed over to fiction land . . .

This reminded me that one of my favorite authors in the world, Mike Magnuson, also wrote another book I have read in my life with Joy. The book is called Heft on Wheels. Heft on Wheels is about Magnuson, a professort at the University of Illinois at Carbondale (I think), deciding he was overweight and sick of being overweight and reconnecting with an old love of his, the bicycle (Magnuson has also written three of my other favorite books (two of which are fiction) - The Fire Gospels, The Right Man for the Job and Lummox (non-fiction, it is his own autobiography)).

Focus, Sean . . . Heft on Wheels . . . Magunson REALLY gets in to biking and he ends out entering competitive races and really discovering a new obession in the process. He also loses a ton of weight and really improves his health - about two years ago (when I read the book) - I was ALL about running out and buying a bike based on the book . . . something I'm still considering now that I am a little less afriad of blowing out the tires when I get on or breaking every bone in my body on my first spill.

I had hoped he had something "new" (newer than Heft on Wheels at least) on the shelf for me - no luck BUT I was also thinking about his transformation through his bike.

I spent three full hours in the bookstore today - I looked at a hundred different books and I was all over the store. I made a LIST of books that I would like to read and I have a full page of my notebook that is now full of the topics and ideas I would like to spend more time with - by reading books on the subject.

ANYWHO - I wound out eventually picking up Jasper Fforde's The Big Over Easy. But, picking out that book and getting through the book story was not "easy" at all.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

One Year and 160 Pounds Later . . .

I weighed myself today . . . I've lost exactly 160.2 pounds since my surgery. To celebrate, I went through my picture archives and found these two pictures, taken exactly one year apart.

I Don't Really Like My Body, YET . . .

I spent this weekend in Wichita with Joy and Ava. One of the many things we did in our very short weekend in the Wichi-Wichi was shopped for a new outfit to wear to a very important meeting I had on Monday (I had packed an outfit but my shampoo burst on the plane and soaked clear through my sportscoat and spotted my pants too).

We went to my new favorite clothing obsession The Men's Wearhouse (where they offer alterations for life - for those men, like me. that have to dress a certain way for work and find it expensive to keep replacing their entire wardrobe every month or so post surgery) and Joy and the sales clerk, Joellen, took over from there. Why did I not pick out my own clothes?

Simple - and COMPLICATED. I hinted at it in a previous post but, as the anxiety becomes stronger by the day . . . I've come to the conclusion that I don't like my physical self one bit lately. I am MORE self concious now than I ever was (and I once weighed TWO HUNDRED pounds more than I weigh now) before surgery. I don't like the way I look and I don't think I look good in anything. Don't get me wrong - I'm AWARE that this phase will pass and that part of it is that I want the weight loss over so I can just have my future body now and so I don't have to readjust to the constant shifting of my fatty deposits and the shrinking of parts of my body and the swelling of others, etc. In the last month - this has become a problem though and I am trying to address it and acknowledge it.

I know this might sound weird to most readers and now I look officially crazy but I feel like I HAVE to get this out in case other people are struggling with this same issue.

I had a full blown, room was spinning, heart was racing, breathe was fleeting, head was sweating, voices were the-teacher-on-Charlie-Brown sounding panic attack in the changing room of the Men's Wearhouse on Saturday.

Why? The clothes that I was trying on were smaller than the last clothes I had tried on - all of them - and the pants that Joellen gave me based on the measurement she took of my waist did not fit. I just lost it. I should have, as Joy pointed out, been happy to be shopping in Men's Wearhouse and to have the opportunity to fit in smaller clothes than those I bought a month ago and to have the option of trying sizes up and down v. just having to make due with what I mail-ordered and was delivered to me but - I just couldn't get that perspective. Not at that moment.

I refused to look at the clothes from there - I had Joy and Joellen just put together an outfit and I tried it all on and I walked in the 360 degree mirrors and refused to look up at myself and I fought tears and I fought the urge to run from the store (admittedly I did try to run but Joellen and Joy talked me back down) and I just bought the clothes and sulked for the next two hours. Ruined time with Ava and Joy. Ruined my afternoon. Ruined the shopping euphoria that should have come from the $600 we dropped on a new fancy-schmancy suit for me . . . because I don't like my body.

I say this here - for those that have already started planning my intervention and who are readying their cell phones to call me with a pep talk - I am fine. I get it. I will adjust to all of this and I will some day start looking at myself in the mirror for more than shaving and popping pimples and I will some day look at my whole body and think that it looks amazing compared to the old me. I will probably regret not having the right perspective during this time but, for now, I am doing the best I can to not have panic attacks every morning while finding clothes that look good on me and while not going broke chasing clothes that fit, etc. I am just trying to keep up with all the changes in my body, mind, energy and self. That is my day to day.

In the meantime, I will continue to be gracious when others compliment me and I will be excited when the clothes that I was small enough for just a month ago are suddenly falling off me again (I know - tough problem to have) and I will be more aware of myself through this transition and will focus on the positive more - or try to.

And, for the record, I looked DAMN good in the outfit that Joy and Joellen put together for me and it seems like the clothes made the right impression on the people I was meeting with. Life is good. Even if I can't yet look it in the mirror.

The NEW Fad Diet? The GB Diet . . .

A new book out from our friends at Random House, Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease, is trying to becoming the next big thing in dieting a la the impact that Mr. Atkins and Mr. South Beach and Mr. Grapefuit all had with their various diets. What is interesting about this book, written by established scientific writer Gary Taubes, looks at - for the first time that I can think of in a mass circulation DIET book - the connection between food and the digestion process and the impact on the body.

Taubes argues, obviously enough (and yet hardly reinforced with most diets that have become all the rage) that the kind of calories we consume matter more than the quantity. "Good calories," says Taube, "come from foods without sugars or easily digested carbs - meat, fish, cheese, non-starchy vegetables. Bad calories," he continues, "come from foods that overstimulate insulin secretion - bread, potatoes, pasta, sugar, tropical fruits."

Hmmmmmm. Interesting. So you're saying that I can eat foods but I should be concious of what is in them . . . and should avoid sugars and should avoid heavy starches and complex carbohydrates and that I am better off with a low fat, high protein diet than I am with a diet of suargy sweetness and bulk? Wow. That sounds EXACTLY like the advice that Mary Lou preaches. Which is EXACTLY the advice that I follow and the diet I adhere to.

Maybe we're not so crazy to give up "all those other foods" if we can still have what we really need to begin with to live longer, healthier lives. This is one "fad" diet that I plan to stick with and have long term success with.

THANKS MARY LOU (and thank you too, Gary Taubes, for spreading the word to the rest of masses)!

Obesity . . .


Main Entry: obe·si·ty
Pronunciation: \ō-ˈbē-sə-tē\
Function: noun
Date: circa 1611

:a condition characterized by the excessive accumulation and storage of fat in the body

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Crazy Stuff People Say . . .

I've been loving life post surgery. Loving all the challenges it has presented and all the good stuff it has brough to me. ONE of the many things that I (as a naturally cynical person with a sense of humor that thrives on the awkward and the ordinary) MOST enjoy is the stuff people say to me.

Now I KNOW they mean well. Don't start thinking that I'm some sort of horse's behind because I don't know how to take a compliment - I really DO appreceiate that people would say anything at all and I know it is awkward to talk about other people's weight, etc. - BUT some of it just cracks me up.

Here are my favorite 10 comments (in no particular order) that people have made, with no context and no names-named (because some of the guilty read this here blog on a regular basis).

10 - "Holy f&$k! Look at YOU, kid! Damn. Sh*t. Crazy. LOOK AT YOU! F#^k. Wow. Crazy. Sorry - you look good."

9 - "I was afraid that you were going to look like one of those starving African kids but you're still pretty plump though, thank GAWD! You wouldn't look good 'skinny' - it's not you."

8 - "Well, well, well . . . if it isn't Mr. Skinnypants and his loose fighting friend The Golf Shirt."

7 - "I'll bet you Joy is loving life these days!" (said while WINKING at me)

6 - "So, uh, if you don't really digest and absorb most of your food . . . does your poop look like the food you ate - like when a dog eats corn?"

5 - "I would not have even recognized you if I didn't know it was you. Do you hear that alot? I'll bet you do - you don't even look like you. You know?!"

4 - "So when you go out to bars, do people think you have a fake ID or do you just tell them that you don't look like 'that' anymore because of surgery."

3 - "A friend of my mother's had that surgery a while ago - she lost a ton of weight and then gained it all back in like three months. She said that they did the surgery wrong so her body absorbs MORE fat and sugar and calories than her old stomach did. I think she's going to sue. Do you worry about that? I would."

2 - "So when you go to Starbucks now . . . what do you order? Do you find it hard to go to real restaurants and places without a way to eat or drink?"

1 - "It's too bad you didn't decide to have this surgery years ago - think about how different your life could be. I mean you've got a sweet enough life - Joy is great and Ava is great and your job is great and you seem really happy but - just imagine how different things could be. Do you ever think about that? I would. Totally."

To ALL of the above commenters, I do thank you for you interst in and support of me during this process and I hope you don't mind that I outed your intended compliment for what it really was - just plain fuhnay!

For the rest of you - PLEASE feel free to post your own experiences and the nice/mean/awkward/enjoyable/laughable/frightening/romantic things people have said to you since surgery below too. If you share the best comment (I am judge and jury) - I will send you one sugar-free grape lollipop (flavors vary).