Thursday, December 27, 2007

I've Never Been SO Happy to be SO Sick . . .

I've been under the weather lately. Actually I've been "sick" or "sorta sick" or "icky" or "on my deathbed" since I arrived here in Wichita on Halloween. I FINALLY figured I should go see a doctor when I could barely get up the energy to climb the stairs to go to bed Christmas night (actually JOY insisted that I go ahead and make an appointment but, as per usual with these minor battles between us, she was crafty enough to have it LOOK like my idea when it was all said and done).

Anywho, the good doctor could not see me until today at 3:00 and it was totally worth the wait.

I am very pleased to announce that my weight today is 295 pounds. I know that sounds like a TERRIBLY high number to trumpet through the world wide web BUT, for me, it is a HUGELY important number and I could not be more excited right now (okay, truth be told if I could breathe through my nose and without physical discomfort in my chest I would be happier).

I am in the TWOS! My weight starts with a TWO. Not a FIVE. Not a FOUR. Not a THREE but a TWO. I am still losing almost 1/2 of a pound a DAY! I'm only 12 pounds from my initial one year goal (with three months to go I am SURE to meet it and am more confident than ever that I will meet my revised one year goal of 225 pounds lost).

On the third day of Christmas, my doctor gave to me - a greatly exciting weight, a sinus infection and a bundle of regional allergies. Good times!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas . . .

While I still have New Year's Eve and the remainder of Kwanzaa ahead of me, I feel pretty good about publicly stating that I am going to survive my first post-surgery holiday season without any real incident or problem. The only down side to the season was the passing of Joy's maternal Grandfather (the beloved Grandpa Timmermeyer went to his peace on Thursday the 20th) and even that very sad event was marked with a beautiful celebration of his life and an amazing morning of FIVE generations of family in one room, happy to be together, while sad for the reason for the gathering.

Yet, I digress. The season is over . . . the break room here at the office is largely food free today (as the office is largely employee free, that makes sense). The sugar cookies Grandma Amore made with Ava have not tempted me in the least. The equally untempting candies, cookies, brownies and cakes that we had on hand for Christmas Weekend were either eaten, thrown away or both and all of our leftovers from Christmas Eve (Joy made about 15 different appetizers (most of which were fried) that my parents and our family on Joy's side dined on (I had hummus, a little cheese and a few Reduced-Fat Triscuits)) and the six course Christmas Dinner I cooked last night (highlighted with a duet entree plat with filet mignon and pork loin with a hot cranberry-orange sauce for the filet and a chilled cranberry-orange sauce for the pork) are all on their last legs already.

So it is back to business as usual. Gone are the holidays. Gone are the holiday foods that have plagued me for the 30 Christmas Seasons I lived through previous to this one and gone . . . knock on wood . . . are the traditional pitfalls the Holiday Season has brought me in the past.

This Christmas was probably the greatest Christmas I have ever had. Here are 12 of the reasons why (sing it like the song, if you feel so inspired BUT know now that it won't match up to the tune in any way, manor, shape or form) . . .

1 - Joy had the "Christmas Spirit" for the first time in our relationship. It was almost as beautiful as she is.

2 - Ava actually enjoyed Christmas this year and helped open her own gifts. Her reaction to her playroom slide set and her princess horse carriage were almost as priceless as her freaking out (in a good way) over her frog-faced kleenex cover. Ah, simple pleasures!

3 - I had my parents and Joy's entire family with us on Christmas Eve (and I spoke with my brothers three times on Monday and twice on Tuesday so they were sort of "with us" too).

4 - I got my Santa Suit back for the first time in eight years (I outgrew it in 1999) and it is wayyyyyyy too big on me - which means I am officially smaller now than I was in 1996 when the suit was made for me (it was a little loose when it was made but I SWAM in it the other day).

5 - I got CLOTHES for Christmas - from my family. I was not embarassed to tell my family what sizes I wear for the first time since 1997. That, to me, was a greater gift than the clothes I was given.

6 - We watched Uncle Larry's 2007 video (Joy's Uncle Larry makes a photo slide-show/video-archive every year to "record" the year that was) and I saw a picture of myself from last December that made me cringe and pictures from July 4th (I remember how "great" everyone thought I looked on July 4th) and I cringed again. I am HOPING to cringe at the pictures from 2008 when I view next year's video too. My body is changing . . . and it has been an AMAZING year for personal change.

7 - My mother has lost some weight and my father seems to be committed to his diet too. Very encouraging and another one of those great gifts that I can't unwrap but can cherish.

8 - Joy gave me glass blowing lessons for Christmas. People who really "know" me know that I've been obsessed with glass art and glass blowing for 15 or 20 years (I collect large (and sometimes expensive/fragile/soon-to-be-in-a-million pieces) pieces of hand blown glass)). These lessons, for me, are part of the promise of this surgery - that I have a new take and perspective on life and I am doing the things that I always vowed I would.

9 - I was fitted for a new shirt and new pants for Joy's Grandfather's funeral - my neck is now an 18 (it used to be a 22) and my sleeve length is a 34/35, down from a 36/37 - that does NOT mean my arms are shorter, it means my fat body needs less fabric to cover it than it used to and my waist is a 46. That is two MORE inches and I am now down a full 24" from my waist size last Christmas. TWO FEET off my waist. Merry Christmas to my BELT!

10 - I discovered the Nifty Nut House (and it is only an easy three blocks walk from my office) where I can get my fix on dry roasted, unsalted peanuts and - when I'm feeling needy - sugar free candies ranging from Hershey's chocolate to homemade sugar-free caramel, peanut clusters. I can buy all of the above (and more) by the OUNCE so even if I decide I have to go a little crazy, I can just got a LITTLE crazy.

11 - I discovered dessert flavored teas (Sugar Cookie is still my favorite) that not only help make my aching body (I think I'm officially sick after being sort-of sick for almost a month) but taste delicious and have 0 calories and 0 sugar. Yuhmay!

12 - I lost 40% of my body weight this year and, with one week until the start of 2008, I am in the 200s for the first time in a long, long, long time and well on my way to reaching my total weight loss goals by the end of 2008.

Merry Christmas to ME and best wishes to ME for 2008 (and, of course, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you as well)!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Finally Watched the Biggest Loser Finale . . .

I finally sat down and watched the season finale of the Biggest Loser last night. In a word . . . WOW.

First off, my man Jez looked great. He lost 150 pounds and gained a ton of self confidence. I STILL think he could have/should have/would have won the entire season if not for bad politics on the part of Neil much earlier in the season but - such is life. He still won by losing in the long run.

A few other people I simply could not believe - JULIE. Holy crap! She lost so much weight, she looks SHORTER to me. Her transformation blew me away in terms of how much better she seemed to feel about herself . . . not so much just because of weight loss but because of what she found in the meantime. Unbelievable what 100 days away from your family can do for your perspective on this life (I did about 60 days this fall and I, like Julie, just hope that my child someday understands why I was away as long as I was). Jerry, too. For a guy his age - he really showed alllll the yungins how it is done - and took his shirt off at the final weigh in to show the guns and the abs. None too shabby.

In general, the episode was just like any other episode for me - a mix of tears and laughs and an appreciation for what I used to weigh - what I weigh now - and how much (little?) I hope to some day way. I was incredibly excited for all 18 contestants on the show - all of whom looked great and felt great about themselves. The teary homecomings and the insight to them still working out and busting their butts was great too - as I continue to struggle to get my butt to the gym on a regular basis.

One twist . . . I found myself looking at all the guys going "Will I look like that when I get down to that weight" or "Dear Jesus, Please don't let me lose all this weight and get those bat-wing bags of loose skin under my arms because I didn't build enough arm muscle while losing weight. Oh, and thanks for the great life otherwise. Love, Sean."

The BEST news of last night's finale (Bill won, by the way - didn't care much about Bill - I'm glad he did well and I admire his relationship with his brother but, I never really got invested in Bill) is that this stupid writer's strike has forced NBC to move up the next season of The Biggest Loser - it starts in just TWO weeks SO . . . I will have another whole season of contestants to root for and to motivate me to work harder and I won't have to wait a year or more for that motivation.

Did you watch the finale? What did you think?


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Calorie Counting and Other Annoying Things I Vowed I Would Never Do . . .

I've developed a whole new "twitch" in my growing list of weird, obsessive behavoirs. I count the calories of those around me. I know that sounds/seems weird but it is a game that - for me - has a point.

The simple truth is that very few people in my can/do/would ever eat the amount of food that I used to eat in the average day/meal/sitting/mouthful BUT, since my surgery, most people around me do eat more than I do.

The point of my counting is not, to be clear, to embarass or otherwise criticize those around me (I never share the calorie counts with anyone - even if caught crunching numbers in my head) but it is more to educate myself on how I used to eat and how I can and can NOT eat in the future (as my life returns to "normal" and the newness of my diet wears off, etc. - there are going to be certain mistakes I make and foods I start eating again, etc. - no doubt).

Here is the point . . . calories count up QUICKLY in this world. Before you know it - you're wayyyyyy over whatever amount of calories you wanted to eat. Case in point . . .

We went to Starbucks in Fort Worth before our meeting with our client yesterday. Here is what everyone ate and the calories they consumed (NOTE - I ballparked the calories for each and then did the research to confirm it - in all five cases, I was within a 20% up or down on all estimates). For extra fun - try to guess which one of the following is my order . . .

1 - Venti Peppermint-Mocha Frapaccino with Whipped Cream and Two Frosted Cut-Out Cookies . . . 1600 calories, 50 grams of fat and 400 grams of sugar.

2 - Venti Caramel Macchiato and the Fruit and Cheese Plate . . . 740 calories, 33 grams of fat and 65 grams of sugar.

3 - Tall Nonfat Caramel Latte with Sugar-Free Syrup and a Plain Bagel with Cream Cheese . . . 590 calories, 11 grams of fat and 19 grams of sugar (note the coffee only had 100 calories, no fat and 5 grams of sugar).

4 - Grande Nonfat Steamer with Sugar-Free Cinnamon Dolce Syrup . . . 180 calories, no fat but 26 grams of protein and 26 grams of sugar (all lactose from the milk).

5 - Hot Chocolate with Whole Milk, Peppermint Syrup and Whipped Cream and Two Slices of Pumpkin Loaf . . . 1300 calories, 46 grams of fat, 168 grams of sugar

Okay, so I had the milk. No real surprise, I guess. And it was DELICIOUS. My new favorite guilty-pleasure. AND, with about 1/4 of my suggested daily calories but 1/3 of my suggested daily protein - I can totally justify it!

In the meantime, I won't even tell you how many calories everyone had at dinner as I ate my lamb skewer appetizer (and left most of it on the plate). For some real fun . . . check out this great directory of food nutrition for just about any fast food or casual sit down chain restaurant you can think of. Happy hunting for the good stuff!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Business Trip . . .

I am leaving a little later today for my first business trip since my surgery.

I tell you this only because there was a very exciting twist to the usually dreaded task of packing last night. Since I only have one day of meetings (tomorrow), I decided to use my garment bag for packing. I put my suit in the garment bag and zipped it up.

That's right. Just in and zipped. I didn't have to fold the jacket over itself and then do the thing where you put the sleeves just so and then tuck the bottom of the coat back up as such - being sure to leave everything else perfectly flat at the same time.

In otherwords - my suits fit in a garment bag. No fancy moves or folding tricks required. Just in, zip and go. NO need to iron the entire suit tomorrow morning. NO worries about ruining my suit during travel (my formerly used magic packing moves are downright dangerous for wools) AND no need to send it out for a formal pressing upon my return either.

If my meeting goes HALF as well as the packing process . . . I'll be a happy, happy guy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

'Tis the Season for Holiday Treats (a.k.a Fancy Junk Food) . . .

In the five business days, we have had the following deliveries made to our office . . .

1 - Four dozen sugar cookies, 1/2" thick with another 1/2" of icing and a generous coat of sprinkles and those freaky, edible metallic balls on top of that.

2 - A five gallon tub of popcorn, divided in thirds so the buttery, cheddarish and caramel inspired (code for artificially flavored) goodness won't mix anywhere but in your mouth/stomach.

3 - A two-pound bag of nuts (stop giggling) that are coated in a sugary/salty "glaze"

4 - A basket full of dried fruits, nuts, snacks, baked goods and packaged cheese/meats.

5 - A Sweedish Pastry Ring (all caps to show respect) that looks, at first, like a cinnamon ring but it has poppy seeds AND cinnamon instead of just cinnamon under the glaze, the sprinkles, the marschino cherries and the m&ms on top.

6 - Three dozen Panera bagels, cookies and danish and a bucket (best word for it) of homemade sugar butter (yep - people make such a thing) to go with the baked goods.

. . . and, finally . . .

7 - A cheese log/roll in the shape of the state of Kansas (the rest of us call it a rectangle) with pita chips, tortilla chips and various crackers to go with the cheesy/nutty/spiced lump on the platter.

Now, mind you, it is only December 11th. My co-workers are all promising their own holiday treats and traditional dishes in the days to come before we close at noon on the 21st for the four-day Christmas weekend we are all living for.

Here's the rub . . . I have not been able to eat a SINGLE thing that has been brought in or sent to us. I can't partake in any of it (some of it I COULD eat (technically) - the crackers, pita chips, cheese log, dried fruit and the cheddar or butter popcorn, specifically but WHY take on the fat and the calories without the protein or the desire to eat the stuff to go with the bad stuff?).

My co-workers have taken every single morsel of the food out of here in their bellies (okay - full disclosure - there is a little bit of popcorn left) and many of them stand around the kitchen table each morning (my desk is next to the kitchen so I am privy to all the happenings of the "break room") and openly lament how they don't "need" the food or "shouldn't be doing this" (tee hee, tee hee) and the comments about the sizes of butts growing has already begun.

It occurred to me a few minutes ago (as I snacked on my Revival protein chips) that - a year ago - I could not have sat next to a kitchen full of junk food 45 hours a week. I could have never NOT partaken in (and eaten more than my share of) the junk food and the snacks that are being delivered daily and I could have NEVER looked at the spread on the table with disgust and disinterest just nine short months ago.

"They" say that when some patients have gastric bypass, their food urges (the mental component to morbid obesity) is somehow altered. Some lose those urgest altogether (I was warned by one peer that about a year after surgery those urges might return) and some just lose part of their food lust.

Knock on wood - I am almost nine months out and I have not had a single food urge. SURE - I might eat a Cheez-It every now and again and I don't always eat reduced fat cheese and I at a Chicken McNugget the other day when I was cleaning up Ava's lunch mess BUT I have not craved sweets or sugars and I have not binged with the out-of-control zeal I used to bring to my eating.

That, for me, is the best gift of the season for me and one of my deepest desires for 2008 - to go another year without food urges and to maintain my commitment to a lifetime of eating well, feeling great and improving myself - one passed up table of Holiday foods at a time.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Back to the Gym and Other Weekend Adventures . . .

What a weekend! I went for my initial consultation with my personal trainer (giggle, giggle, gag that I have a personal trainer) at the YMCA Saturday morning. The first thing he wanted to do was weigh me, get my blood pressure, body fat percentage, log my BMI and get my fitness goals. While my numbers would probably HORRIFY the average personal trainer (or the average gym goer, for that matter), I was PROACTIVE to tell my trainer that, while I didn't know exactly how much I weighed, I have lost about 200 pounds since the begining of the year and over 170 pounds since my gastric bypass surgery.

Here are the specifics (I am proud of them, gasp in horror all you want) . . .

Weight - 303lbs. That is 230 pounds less than the heaviest I have ever weight, 180 pounds less than I weighed the morning of my surgery (less than nine months ago) and 20 pounds less than I weighed the last time I stepped on a scale in late-September (still losing about 1/4 - 1/3 of a pound per day). MOST encouraging . . . I am almost in the 200s (should be there by the end of the week or by my 9-month marker for SURE) for the first time since I started at GW in January,1998).

% Body Fat - I'm at 38% right now. That means well over 1/3 of my body is fat. That being said, I was in the high 60s the last time I had my % body fat tested. I'm down to almost half of that fat percentage. More interesting (for me) is the fact that I am not that far off the national figures for my gender and age on % and - if I meet my weight loss/fitness goals in the next year - I will be BELOW average (and in a healthy range) by this time next year. That is a statement I could not have even said, without laughing, a year ago.

BMI (Body Mass Index) - My current BMI is 42. That is down from 66 the morning of my surgery. I've lost over 33% of my body mass in the last nine months. More encouraging - if I can lose 3% more of my body (about 20 more pounds) - I will be simply "obese" instead of "morbidly obese" for the first time since the start of my junior year of college.

So all those numbers and stats are great and encouraging and exciting but here is what is even better . . . Joy and I went ot CasualMaleXL on Friday evening so I could buy some sweatpants and t-shirts for the gym. I bought a 2x for both. There was a time - not that long ago - when I wore an 8x for both. The morning of my surgery, I wore a 6x for each. Visually it looks like this . . .


XXXXXXXXL
XXL

See the difference? How about this . . . I was also treated to a new pair of jeans (my wife loves me) and I tried on the 52s (the last pants I bought) and they were too big. I tried on the 50s and they were too big. So I got the 48s. That's 22 inches off my waist, for those keeping track at home. I have lost almost TWO FEET from the equator that is my waist. Not bad at all.

Anywho, I start my four days a week work-out routine tomorrow morning at 6:00 AM. I'll be anxious to see how quickly I can get down to my goals now that I have sweat and physical activity back on my side (I've been more than a wee bit lazy on the workouts since Labor Day).

Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

C-c-cc-Cold E-e-e-eev-ening in Wi-wi-wi-Wichit-t-t-ttt-a . . .

Joy and I, swept wayyyyy up in the holiday spirit, decided to take Ava to Wichita's performing arts and convention center, Century II last evening for the official lighting of the Wichita City Christmas Tree (yep, we are here in the Heartland where you can just say Merry Christmas v. Happy Holidays without fear of what might happen - it's an odd feeling after more than a decade in Politically Correct America).

I have talked in the past about how summer turning to fall had me realizing that there are some "downsides" to losing 200 pounds in nine months . . . namely (in this scenario) the insulating impact that weight once had on your frame. Let me be very, very clear - early October in Connecticut simply does NOT compare with early December in Wichita in terms of realizing just what a difference a few hundred pounds can make on a person's body.

It was COLD here last night. All day yesterday, frankly. It never got higher than 35 on the old thermometer and the wind chill put it in the low 20s. I ran home after work to put on a sweater and to grab my coat and scarf. That's right. I wore a COAT and a SCARF and a SWEATER. A year ago - the very thought of all three clothing items at the same time would have made me sweatier and itchier than I can even explain. I even considered wearing the same socks that I used as gloves while decorating the outside of the house on Sunday morning (Dear Santa, I need some gloves. Please. - Sean) to keep my fingers warm. That would have been a bit much though, right?

So we got down to Century II and we were early - too early - about 5:35. We huddled in the lobby of the building for 15 minutes and then headed out in to the cold. The Mayor arrived, the college choir took the stage and I slowly realized I could no longer feel my nose, fingers or ankles. The choir sang their first song. The shivering began. The choir sang their second song. My back started to hurt from the cold (it was not Ava's 20 pounds of warmth in my arms (Ava, by the way, was wearing three layers of clothes, gloves, a hat and a scarf (she was actually toasty warm when we got her home and started to peel the layers off)). The radio DJ spoke. I started looking at the tree going "eh, who cares?!" The Mayor spoke. Yadda, yadda, political yadda, I grunted. The choir sang AGAIN. Surely Jesus doesn't want this to mark his Birthday, I thought. The countdown began "10, 9, 8" "The MINUTE they flip that switch, we take two pictures and run to the car," I stuttered. "7, 6, 5" "Hell yes," Joy retorted. "4, 3, 2, 1" - CLICK, CLICK, CLICK. Thump, thump, thump (My frozen feet across the cold, cold concrete).

All in all - it was nice. The choir sounded great. The tree was pretty. We went and took part in the festitivites and Ava's photo album will never know that we didn't stick around for the fireworks, face painting, Santa's arrival or horse drawn carriage rides.

I drank three mugs of hot Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride Tea (I swear it tastes JUST like cookies and is a great Christmas snack for the GBer who can't eat cookies anymore - they also have Gingerbread Spice and Candy Cane Lane too ( have yet to try them)) while preparing dinner.
It was goooooood. The tree lighting, the feeling returing to my extremities and, of course, the holiday spirit and this Christmas just being DIFFERENT!