Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Top 10 and Bottom 10 . . .
Now that the journey is "over" . . . I thought I would share a long-held-in-private list of the top ten things I HAVE done since my surgery and the top ten things I have NOT done since my surgery. In approximated order of significance to me - here they are . . .
TOP 10 THINGS I DID DO . . .
10 - Learned to love soy - You're talkin' with the former King of the double cheese burger. My friend Andrea from DC used to eat garden burgers (friggin' vegetarian hippie) and I would laugh and laugh and laugh. Now TRY to get my protein bars away from me. I dare you. The easiest way to get your daily quota and all those chemical flavors . . . yuhmay!
9 - Gained a whole new perspective - I've beaten the point to death here on the blog (for that, you have my half-hearted apology) but I've gotten a whole new stance of life. What's frustrating. What's fair. What's worth it. Let me be clear - very little is really worth it and what is worth it is really worth it (read it again, it will make more sense). If I didn't figure that out - I would have probably stopped losing weight when the scale said 399. No joke - that was, to me, the proverbial brass ring of weight loss (for about 10 minutes before I realized I wanted to lose 200 MORE pounds).
8 - Set, met and reset goals - Which brings me to my next point. You have to set goals. "How you livin' Biggie Smalls?!?" they all ask . . . simple, I tell them. Here's what I did. The law of 10%. ANY diet guru (I hesitate to call them experts) that you should set manageable and attainable weight loss goals. Now, I may have argued with an "expert" at support group a long time ago (it is on the blog somewhere) but I think you need short and long term goals. I said that I wanted to weigh 200 pounds and I would get there 10% of my body at a time. 483 became 435. 435 became 392. 392 became 353. 353 became 318. 318 became 286. 286 became 258. 258 became 235. 235 will eventually become 212. 212 will hopefully become sub-200 and I'll be done. Those are my weight goals. I set over 100 other different goals and, as of post-time, I have reached or accepted defeat on 109 of the 121 that I set.
7 - Learned what an actual "portion" looks like - A serving of protein should be approximately the size of a deck of cards. Fruit juice should never be consumed more than 8 ounces at a time. Bread is no longer relevant if you have wraps/tortillas/etc. "Small" is actually an acceptable amount of food/beverage when ordering from a menu. SHOCKING to me, 32 years later, that I never didn't argue that bigger had to be better.
6 - Re-established old friendships - I'm still working on it but sofa-surfing with Casey for two months and seeing Tom Kelly for dinner and a two-hour chat with Chris Delenick and calling Kim on her birthday and voicemail exchanges with Laura and finally finding Mel in Florida all feel good. It is nice to chat with these people without feeling the dread that reflects back on me when I look at them looking at me. They've all cared about and loved me and I appreciated it then and I do now too. It's nice to help reset that dynamic . . . don't worry about me. Let's just enjoy each other in any format (e-mail, phone, etc.) we can until we meet again!
5 - Started over - I'm going to say something that might shock the masses here . . . those cynics that, like me, are fairly sure that the entire world rises and sets in what is called the "Northeast Corridor" of these United States . . . moving to Kansas is the best thing that has happened to me since my surgery which was the best thing to happen to me since Ava was born which was the best thing to happen to me since meeting Joy. Forget stereo-typing Kansans (they really aren't that gee-golly-willickers "nice" here, frankly). It's not about my new zip code, really . . . it is more about being in a place where I can truly focus on my family and no one, save for my in-laws and Tricia knows the "old Sean" at all. Sort of like going off to college all over again. I can be any one here. And I just might be!
4 - Drove, alone, half way across this beautiful land I call home - Speaking of picking up and starting over . . . if you ever want to just totally reset your brain and your perspective - do this - pack up your car at 6:00 AM on a Tuesday, go work a half-day, say "goodbye" to your co-workers and head West. Drive. Pack protein bars and bottled water. Stop only to fill the gas tank and to drain the urine tank. Enjoy the scenery (even when the scenery is a "lack of" issue). Enjoy the local radio stations (even when all you can find are country, Christian or hybrids of). Reset your clock as you cross the Indiana state line. Wonder when you will drive back - and what will be the reason for the drive. Wonder if you will ever again see the people that each mile you drive puts them a mile further away. Speculate on how your first day at your new job will go. Daydream about how Eutopian your life will be. Watch out for deer in Illinois. Laugh at the billboards that alternate between messages of Biblical importance and XXX stores ahead in Missouri. Cry a little (at the beauty) as you speed through the Flint Hills of Kansas. When you arrive in Wichita, have flowers for your wife. Kiss her. Hug your daughter and your in-laws. Go Trick-or-Treating (if you happen to arrive on Halloween, as I did). Best 1,300 mile drive of my life - and I've driven a LOT of miles.
3 - Flew without my seat belt extender - I've done it twice. Imagine almost ten years of dreading flying (and yet doign it every few months (if not more frequently)) not because you didn't want to go far away or not because you didn't want to have adventures but because you didn't want to be "that guy" on the plane that no one wants to sit next to. That gets special seating based on the comfort of those around you vs. for your comfort. That won't eat or drink any thing on a plane for fear of the eye rolls. Now imagine getting on the plane without a worry in the world. Not even the creepy air marshall behind me could have ruined that first flight. Or the ones to come.
2 - Lost my "love" of food - How great is eating when you don't want anything from the food beyond nutrition? It's not my friend. Not my soul mate. Not my crutch. Not my partner. Not my enabler. Not my downfall. Not my pick-me-up. It's just FOOD. Enjoy it - or don't - it doesn't matter anymore. Beautiful and delicious, this type of freedom is.
1 - Lost just-shy of 250 pounds - No elaboration needed on this one, I would not think. I mean I lost .45 pounds each day (on average) for 549 consecutive days. Beat that with a wiffle ball bat!
TOP 10 THINGS I DID NOT DO . . .
10 - Got back to all the places I've called "home" - I still need to go see my "people." It has been over a year since I saw my brothers. Two years since I saw the Thomases and Ben. Longer since I saw Chris and Bruce. The list could go on and on and on. I wanted to see them all in the 18 months I've been on this journey. I'll catch them in the next phase for sure!
9 - Replaced food with another obsession (sorta) - I went to a support group just a few weeks after my surgery and an article about a woman who had GB and went NUTS with the ol' credit cards was shared. LOTS of money spent. Broke the bank type shopping. We were all warned we would all take on an obsession to replace the emotional rush we felt with/from food. They even hinted some of us would turn to excercise for that fulfillment (ha, ha, ha - I laugh because that is FUNNY). I don't have any vices today. No smoking. No drinking. No eating. No drugs. No affairs. No cheating, stealing, lying. No nuttin'. Okay - I spend too much money on clothes but that is because I can finally shop in stores and I like clothes. It is not a problem. I can stop at any time. Right?! RIGHT!
8 - Lost my perspective - I've had a few days and moments in the last 18 months where I wanted to start dipping my toe in the bad-food waters. I wanted to wander. I wanted to yell and scream at people. I wanted to break a few necks (figuratively, of course) and I wanted to let Old Sean out of the box in general. I focused though. I have a Chinese Fortune Cookie fortune in my wallet that I got a few months after my surgery (I didn't eat the cookie, relax) it says "A journey of 1,000 miles can end with one small misstep." Hilarious and true.
7 - Lost my hair - How to Scare People Who are Considering Gastric Bypass 101: The Side Effects. Your hair will all fall out. You will become frail and weak. Your spine will curl. Your love of pastel colors will be used against you. You will start to believe George W. Bush has a good idea or two on his resume. NONE of it has turned out to be true for me. I've been lucky. I've worked hard. I've been lucky. I've been lucky. I'm still balding but I blame my genetics for that - not my surgery.
6 - Lost my cool - It is part of my perspective but, let's be honest . . . anyone that knows me is not sure they can believe that in a year and a half I've not just freaked out on ANYONE?! For ANY reason?! I mean - I HAVE lost my cool a little bit here and there but - no classic meltdowns. Even when challenged. Kept my cool. Kept my perspective. Kept on that journey of 1,000 miles.
5 - Had a pronounced, long and awkward "plateau" in my progress - God bless those of you that push through them and scratch your heads and re-apply yourselves and get over the hump. God bless the families and friends that support you through it. God bless that I didn't have one (I had a few scares and the weight loss has slowed way, way down but no loss-stopage to report) and God bless that I didn't have to work through it. I'm pretty lazy about some things (just ask my gym membership).
4 - Became a "grazer" - I'm back to snacking. I eat. Not just at meals. I know, I know. Slippery slope but I'm not buying a bag of M&Ms and stretching them out over the day to not dump. I'm not buying chicken nuggets and letting my computer fan keep them warm through the day. I'm not eating chicken parm subs in quarter pieces. I'm still eating all foods that I would eat in front of my surgeon (that is my new test - WWDZD?). I'm handling my food and my urge to eat. It's not easy but it's not impossible either - yet.
3 - Called one particular "old friend" - You ever have that one person that you just don't know what to do with/for? Could be an old intern that sucked but wants you to be a reference. Could be that one co-worker who wants to stay in touch. Could be that old friend that you just don't know what the reason to still be friends might be? Sure you do. We all do. I've got one. Get an awkward e-mail from them every now and again. Have considered trying to address things with them by phone but when I tried to get/give closure by e-mail it went terribly wrong and I am really proud of #6 above. This person is a test to me. I love them and always will but I just can't figure out what they want from me any more. And I'm not willing to ask. And I'm not going to give in and call them. It is a trap. I will lose - my cool and my progress.
2 - Got down to my goal weight - It's not a huge thing. I wanted to get there but I'm at peace with the fact that I'm not. I will get there and it gives me a glaring goal on my latest set of goals.
1 -Dumped - My hair falling out was not a big concern. It is just hair and it is all going eventually either way. Now DUMPING . . . I'm scared of that. Can't even think about it without getting nervous. I won't eat some foods in restaurants or social settings for fear of hidden sugar. I won't eat some foods that say they only have 1g or 2g of sugar for fear that I get that one serving that has an overly concentrated dose of sugar. I won't look at sugar. I won't taste sugar. I won't graze on sugary foods. No sugar = no dumping. No dumping = the goal. 18 months and counting. Goals in sight. 1,000 mile journey still under way.