Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cadbury Binge Eating . . .

I was having my department meeting with Shawn and Catherine yesterday. 

We were talking about Easter Baskets (pop quiz, hot shots - at what age do you (who celebrate Easter and involve the Easter Bunny in your festivities) think your parents can stop giving you Easter Baskets without you feeling "betrayed" by the action?) and Easter candy and a weird memory popped in to my head.

When I was living in DC I lived across the street from a CVS.  I treated CVS like my grocery store (the real one was an additional two blocks away so walking that far when I had something closer was out of the question (grimace)).

Now - if you've ever "shopped" in a CVS you would know that they have some groceries but it is not exactly a hub for those who want to eat with nutrition as a primary concern.  What they DID have though was enough Velveeta Shells and Cheese, Planters Cheez Balls and Ho-Hos to keep this fat man well fed.  No judgement, clearly.  

My absolute favorite part of the CVS was the seasonal delights they would stock the middle-section of the store with.  It was ALWAYS some holiday at the CVS.  They put out Valentine's Day on January 2nd, St. Pat's on February 15th, Arbor Day on March 18th.  You get the idea. 

With these tight turn-arounds and constant celebration - it was easy to imagine that they had inventory issues and that meant just one thing . . . steep discounts on holiday decor and CANDY.

And NO holiday does candy better (for my money) than Easter - you can take your Halloween and stick it in your pumpkin.  Halloween is nothing but repackaged mini-versions of standard candy.  Easter has INVENTIVE candy.  Peanut Butter filled chocolate bunnies.  Hand decorated chocolate Crucifixes (Crucifi?  Crucixees?).  Speckled jelly beans.  Cadbury Mini Eggs (pour them on a plate or paper towel and try them microwaved for about 10 seconds, sugar consumers. DELICIOUS!).  Peeps.  CADBURY CREME EGGS!

Here is where the memory came in . . . I remember making it an annual occasion (after a solid week of eating nothing but Easter Pie (more to come on that in the near future)) when I would go to CVS on my way home from work the Monday after Easter with special excitement.  Not only had my savior risen from the dead but the clearance had begun at CVS.  All in one day!  
I made the purchase of all purchases.  Every Cadbury Creme Egg I could stuff in my hand-held basket for about ten cents a piece.  I'm talking an average of 50 eggs.  Some years even more.  

I bought TONS of Easter Candy (Mini Eggs are a close second favorite, Peeps are a not-so distant third, Hershey's Peanut Butter Eggs are also a sweet memory and Marshmallow Cream stuffed chocolate (in any shape) rounds out my top five) but the Creme Eggs were my top priority every year.  

The woman behind the counter (who sold me my junk food day after day, week after week and likely knew the degenerate eater I was first hand) smiled and gave me an out without feeling awkward "Ah, are you going to freeze these to get you through the year?" she would ask.  "Uh, yeah, sure." I would wheeze (excitement over 50 Cadbury Creme Eggs was enough to get me light headed those days).  

We BOTH knew these little confections wouldn't make it to the following Sunday - much less the following Lenten Season.  

And they didn't.  I took them home and, within hours a majority of them would be gone.  By about Thursday of that week the last bit of foil wrapping was in the trash and the thrill was gone for another year.  

Do I miss Cadbury Creme Eggs?  No.  Do I regret that I used to eat them the way I did?  A little.  Would I go back and change anything?  Nah.  It was what it was.

Creme eggs were symbolic of my life at that time, frankly.  Bright, fancy and enticing foil wrapper that seemed happy and fun.  Tough chocolate shell that kept anything and everything at bay.  Creamy, fragile, fat-laden and perhaps-toxic innards that people leave as the mystery it is.  Like the Creme Egg though - that misery was seasonal.  Thank the Risen Lord!   

Monday, March 30, 2009

More to Criticize? . . .

The world of pop culture is "buzzing" today with "news" that Fox is planning to do a dating formatted reality TV show for "average looking" contestants.

Average looking?  What does that mean?  5'9" men?  5'4" women?  164 pound men?  152 pound women?  Neutral skin tones, bland eyes and moderate-lengthed, average thickness hair?  Wardrobe by Gap?  

NOPE.  It means fat, apparently.  

Yep.  The show is called More to Love and will feature a Kevin James type (Joy and I both love us some Kevin James and I always used to think if I could be his size I'd be happy (smile) so . . . ) bachelor with women competing for his heart and discovering that they can have love at any size in the process.  

This is where loyal readers would assume I'll start losing my mind and spitting venom but - sorry loyal fans (I call them Mom and Dad) that is not going to happen.

Truth be told . . . I'm totally going to give this show a watch.  I think it could just be stupid enough to work.  

I remember when Biggest Loser was first coming out.  I was soooooo offended at the premise.  I assumed it would be exploitive of obesity.  I assumed it would be sizism at its finest (the first clip I ever saw was a weigh-in with 250+ pound women in sports bras and 300+ pound men shirtless and just assumed the pie-to-the-face gags were coming soon after).  I watched that first episode ready to lose my mind and, instead, I just cried at how wonderful it was.  Hundreds of episodes and thousands of pounds later - I'm still watching loyally and I don't know anyone that watches the show that doesn't think it helps increase awareness of obesity and appreciation for the battle us fatties wage internally.

So - why can't that work for a dating show?  The only reason I am doubtful is because this is Fox (Joe Millionaire?  My Big, Fat Obnoxious Fiance?  Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?  They don't exactly have the best track record for putting the class in the "reality" genre, clearly).  I also remember a sketch on Mad TV that was about a dating service for the unlovable and the couple they featured were both overweight (Casey - help me out on this - I know your brain will have trapped away the name of the fake service so I can google it). 

Among the MANY reasons I am hopeful for this show are . . . 

a) The women are said to be competing for a man who is not perfect himself.  The 530 pounder who was scared to meet his future wife in me likes the idea that he doesn't have to be perfect and it also takes away the "chubby chaser" argument that the guy is some fetishist that just likes a woman with a little meat on her bones (not that there is anything wrong with men like that (smile))
b) The show is angled to be inspiring, like The Biggest Loser, for the participants to find their own strength and their own power and, like with the Biggest Loser, when they are "eliminated" it will not be because of their size or weight.  It will be about the way they are playing the game or how big of a "threat" they are so that wouldn't eliminate another way to make it awkward.
c) The reality is that we are, as a nation, getting heavier.  More and more people, especially women (I looked up the stats on this - I'm not just being a jerk) are removing themselves from the social and dating world because of their size accordingly.  We could all stand to see a show that allows love to bloom for people who aren't super-skinny or otherwise "perfect" for television.

I will always be the first to argue that inspiration can come from any where.  If a person watching this show can put down the box of cereal and the can of whipped cream (what I used to eat while watching Joe Millionaire) and put a toe or two in the dating pool and socialize and try to realize they are not defined by their weight or their body or their own assumptions about how people treat them because of their physical trappings and then, in turn, find themselves some happiness because of this show - it is totally worth this show.  It doesn't have to change the nation or inspire the masses.  It just has to help one person without hurting anyone in the process.  I mean, hell, the show Bones is still on, right?  Right!  

Now - all this being said - I'll be the FIRST person to blog my rage about the show if it goes negative or somehow takes advantage of these people because of their weight.  You're on notice, Fox! 

Friday, March 27, 2009

"Snow" Storm . . .

The Wichita Eagle found some pompous blowhard (click the link and watch the video - it will make more sense) from Upstate New York to completely dismiss the, uh, "Blizzard of 2009." He took the bait. And said "like" like, uh, like 14 like times in the 10 like seconds he was like on like camera like. Holy CRAP I hate myself some days.

I know I mock way too much and way too often but this storm (while not yet over) was hyped all week long with everything from 19" in snow to severe cold and wind the likes of which could bring a man to his knees.

Uh - we're almost 24 hours in and the city of Wichita has yet to see a single snow flake (sleet and freezing rain do not equal a blizzard).

Stay warm, Wichita! Stay classy, Weather Guy!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Time and Place . . .

I don't pay much attention to sports (I think they suck, frankly) and I am usually the first person to jump on the case of the professional athelete and the attitude and swaggart that full grown men who play games for a living tend to carry themselves with but there is a story out of Texas today that has my attention and that really has me thinking.

Ryan Moats, a 26-year-old married man who plays for the Houston Texans, got in to a scrap with the law while frantically driving his wife to be by her mother's side as she died from breast cancer. Here is what happened - as far as I can tell - Moats drove as quickly as he could upon hearing his mother-in-law (a 45-year-old woman who was succuming to breast cancer) was about to die. He and his wife (and what I gather was another family member and a friend) made it to the hospital and, after stopping to observe it, ran through a red light (there was no one coming) to get to the hospital.

A police officer followed Moats in to the parking lot and that is when it got random. The officer, himself 25-years-old, would not allow Moats or his wife to leave the vehicle. He drew his gun. He threatened Moats with jail time. He challenged Moats to not "make this difficult". All the while Jonetta Collinsworth lay upstairs, just feet away, dying.

Moats wife decided to screw-all and just went inside. She made it to say "good bye" to her mother. Moats did not.

Heartbreaking. Sad. The woman is 45. She's dead. The wife, in her mid-20s, is motherless. Moats was not even able to say goodbye at all (he made it in to the hospital moments too soon - thanks to a security guard and nurse from the hospital who would vouch for the immediate need for him to be released, by the way). The cop came off like some toolbox with a gun and a God complex. Moats came off as the most admirable man in the history of the world who simply ran a red light and could not find his insurance card. No one wins. People are calling it racism. People are calling it abuse of power (for the football player and the cop). People should just be calling it sad (The New York Times agrees with me, for the record (smile)).

I am obsessed with the death of Jonetta Collinsworth for a very simple reason. Time. Life is about time. Not years. Not months. Not hours. Not even minutes. Seconds. Split seconds. Split second decisions and how we spend splits of seconds.

What if Moats was staying at a hotel down the street versus wherever he was coming from (could have been a hotel down the street, for all I know)? What if the light had been green? What if Moats would have just sat through the light? What if the cop was one block away and not right behind Moats when he ran the light? What if the cop had used his head and heart instead of his badge to decide what to do with Moats? What if Collinsworth had gotten a mammogram earlier or had a different treatment approach or had a cancer that was just a little slower in taking her from her loved ones? What if? What IF? WHAT IF?

I know two things. 1) Every second is important. 2) You can never go back. You can try to fix things and try to recreate moments and try to improve on them but you can't get them back and you have to realize the importance of the time spent.

I think about these things. I obsess and pour over these things. It is like a friend of mine - her father and sister were killed by a drunk driver when we were kids. What if the family had been five seconds faster or slower leaving the house that day? What if the drunk bastard decided to stay for one more drink or drive a little slower or what if he just ran off the road in to an empty field a mile before he hit my friend's family?

What if my father's ambulance didn't get to the hospital as quickly as it did the morning of his stroke? Or what if I had never met Joy? What if I had smart mouthed Uncle Jessie in the summer of 1999 (a long story, few people will know, for a different post) or just taken longer in Kinko's that night? What if I never had gastric bypass surgery? What if I had gastric bypass surgery at a different place or time in my life than I did? What if Ava's birth mother changed her mind during her pregnancy? What if I had eaten three more Oreos on one of my binges before surgery and died from the gluttony?  

Moments. Split seconds. Life. Death. Decisions. Impact. Fate.

Is there such a thing as fate? Is our entire path pre-determined? Would Ms. Collinsworth have died without her son-in-law by her side no matter what happened that night? Would a flat tire have delayed the family's hospital arrival if the cop did not? Would the cancer inside Ms. Collinsworth have simply taken her two minutes sooner? Would that light have changed from green to yellow to red just as Moats was approaching it just to spite him? Would Oreos really kill me for as much as I loved them for all those years?

We'll never know if we are lead by fate (unless the series finale of Lost says so). We can never go back. We can just try to make the most of the seconds we do have and hope that God is the kind and merciful omnipotent the bible says (she/he/it) is (while destroying entire cities and smiting entire armies, mind you).

Call your mother and tell her you love her. Kiss your kid a second time before you leave the house tomorrow morning. Know EXACTLY how long it takes to drive from your house to the hospital your parents might be taken to if things go wrong (I'm trying to tell you that every second counts). Sit through stop signs patiently. If your shoe is untied - look above you, to your left and right and then stop and tie it. If someone seems in a hurry - let them go past you. Treat every second with the urgency it deserves. 

And for the love of God - if you have "power" in this life, use it wisely and with compassion. 

Someone's last words with their mother might hang in the balance.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Guest Blogger MD, MD . . .

I got a post from my dear friend Michele Delenick, MD (MD MD - as she once signed one of her comments on my blog) that I wanted to share with you.  (NOTE - She's the upright citizen in the middle of this picture of drunkards.)

Michele, as I have mentioned on the blog before, is one of those people that I forced, sadly, to suffer me for many years of my life.  We had a very nice e-mail exchange in December and Michele reminded me of a few of the crappier things I said and did to her that I honestly did not even remember (forgetting what a jerk you can be and have been is just the kind of stuff to keep you humble in this life, I guess).  

Anywho, Michele, always a better person that I was, has decided that I can still call her a friend and that she is not only going to allow me that gift but she's going to turn around and actually say nice things about me.  And she's going to share her own fight with obesity in a way that really hits home to me (truth be told - one of the first things that made Michele and I friends was that, as the fat kid, I made Michele (as a formerly fat kid) comfortable . . . another brick in my jerk wall that I violated that sacred trust of fat people sticking together).  

I have not seen Michele since our wedding.  I've seen pictures of her on Facebook (the greatest tool ever for a man who is too lazy to pick up a phone but still wants to see what sort of kids his friends Chris and Michele can pop out (CUTE ones, is the answer)).  Michele claims she struggles with her weight - and she might - but I never noticed her weight or ever thought about her weight.  Michele was to me, a persona and a dynamic force.  Her size and physical body were never part of the discussion or the reason for me feeling the way I did (on any given day (smile)) about her.

Well, Sean has asked me to be a guest blogger and I'm not really sure what to say.  Now I realize how tough it must be for him to come up with something on a daily basis!  I am an old friend of Sean's from the Quinnipiac days...but I'll spare you readers stories of Sean in his wild and crazy days--they're not for the faint of heart.   He did say I could pretty much write whatever I want but I'll stick to the topic at hand so I'll reflect a little on Sean's journey and my own weight issues.

First, I am in awe of the work Sean has done in his surgery process.  Don't ever let anyone say that bariatric surgery is the "easy" way out.  That is a load of crap.  Nothing that takes a lifetime commitment to change is easy.   If you think it's easy then you have no idea what you're getting yourself into and you're setting yourself up for failure.   I have seen patients (and we can see someone now on the Biggest Loser) who didn't get that long lasting attitudinal and dietary changes are part of the process and the weight has crept back on after the initial year or so.  There are days when I am trying to make better food choices and I think to myself, "well it could be worse, I could be Sean and have to do what he does when he eats--now that's hard!"

Sean's journey has been amazing to watch for me, as I'm sure it has been for all the people who know him and love him, but it's also been meaningful for me on a very personal level.  I have struggled with my weight since I was about 8 years old and Sean has inspired me to finally focus on my own issues.  I have exercised and eaten well and lost the weight in the past but it was always temporary and old habits found their way back in.  It was always easier to not exercise and eat what I wanted because I was feeling sad, tired, angry, whatever.   I have been ignoring my weight and my eating habits for years, citing my pregnancies and med school/residency (ie lack of time and money) as reasons why it was not the time to deal with it when really I think I was in large part trying to avoid looking at the reasons why I over ate as well as the hard work it would take to change.  Unfortunately for me, Sean with his introspection, commitment and incredible changes as a result (all while dealing with everything else in life AND showing it on the internet for everyone else to see no less!) has kind of forced my hand.

Now here I am, a wife and a mom and a doctor and I think its finally time to do what I need to about my weight.  One reason is that I absolutely don't want my children to have weight issues, or more accurately eating issues.  I don't want them to think that food will comfort them, reward them or fulfill them.  I don't want them to be embarassed about their bodies.  I don't ever want to hear my daughter say she's fat.  I realize now that I am the one who will teach them these things if that's all I show them.  Another reason is that as a physician I'm supposed to be a role mode for my patients.  Every day I see the end result of obesity with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, debility and disability.   A healthy weight is crucial to a healthy life and I want that for my patients.  I want them to believe that it is possible to eat well and exercise regularly and that these are things that can be done for a lifetime.  I want to be able to show them that with kids, a home, a job and all the rest of life's stresses it can be done.  I know how to talk the talk, but I realized over the past year I don't walk the walk.   So finally, the last reason I need to do this is that it's for me.  I want that long, happy life for myself and I don't want my weight to get in the way of that. 

So, I decided to make 2009 "the year of me."   That's right, in all of its selfish sounding glory I've decided to put myself at the top of the list.  Frankly, for the past 4 years or so I haven't even made the list of "Michele's life priorities" so it's quite a change that I'm trying to embrace.  What does "the year of me" mean?  Well, it means I'm striving to be happy, healthy and grateful for who I am and the life I've been so richly blessed with.  So I've begun exercising again.  I'm trying to do activities with the kids that are well, more active.  I'm trying to be more mindful of what I eat and why.  The results so far?   I'm realizing how much I like to swim and ride a bike and that the gym isn't too bad either.  I'm remembering how good you can feel at the end of a workout.  I'm realizing that it's ok to take time for myself to recharge and reconnect with who I am in addition to the wife/mom/doc roles.  The weight is (slowly!) creeping off and I feel stronger.  I'm starting to think of food less as therapy and more as fuel.  It's a work in progress, some days are better than others, but as Sean has shown me, it can be done.

Thanks Sean, for sharing your story and for inspiring me.   Happy Surgaversary!

I'm truly honored that Michele took the time to share some thoughts.  I'm shocked and flattered that I might have somehow "inspired" her through my journey.  I hope that 2009 is The Year of Me you always hoped it would be, Michele.  And I hope 2009 is the year our families can sit down, break some bread (not eat it - just break it), hug it out and get back on the right track of supporting and loving each other.  

I love you, Beer-Man!  

Bomb Pop . . .

You know how you learn something new everyday?

Here is what I learned today . . . the middle layer of the "original" Bomb Pop is lime.  NOT lemon.  For the hundreds of Bomb Pops I have scarfed down in my life you would think I would know the difference between chemically-fabricated lemon and chemically-fabricated lime.  

There is a box of them in our freezer here at work and I was getting ice and I happened to draw focus long enough to be educated.

There you go.  Your "something new" for the day.  You're welcome.  

OH - you learn something new every day part two - there are TEN types of bomb pops.  And that is just from the official maker of them.  The delicious cocktail (who remembers the gallons we ran through at The Last and Greatest Ghetto-Cue Ever?) is type number 11.  

Monday, March 23, 2009

Trampoline Pictures . . .

Stephanie was able to capture a picture of us on the trampoline the night of Uncle DJ's birthday that was less dark (but equally grainy) as the pictures Joy took.  

Visual proof that I actually braved putting my large butt over a piece of stretched rubber.  And JUMPING up and down on that contraption.  I don't have nearly the "ups" that Lexy has (and Ava's "ups" suffer based on my poor "ups" (I'm trying to say "ups" as much as I can here, sorry)).

Thanks for the picture, sis!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

You Should See the Other Guy . . .

Two hours after trying to put Ava down for her nap - we called it quits, packed the family up and headed to Dillon's for the weekly grocery run.

Well - let me tell you - that parking lot must have really said something bothersome because Ava got a running start, tripped on her sneaker (or something) and took a serious header to show that parking lot exactly who was boss (she found out, upon impact, it was the parking lot).

This was our first serious "injury" as parents (we've had some bumps and bruises but never the bleeding, immediate head swelling, crying, anxiety or the size/fury of the tears we had today.
"Come get some!" - she screamed at the asphalt upon getting up (Okay, I made that last part up.)

We abandoned groceries for the week and got her home. Put her face on ice (smile) and then waited it out. She seems to be doing just fine. She refused to eat at dinner so stuff is pretty much back to normal (smile).
I waited until Mommy had calmed down and snapped some shots of my kid and her forehead shiner, her split upper lip and her swaggart. Ava will live to fight another day (see picture below if you don't believe me (she's ready for a rematch)) and we'll always have these pictures so we can always remember Ava's first "fight".

Nap Time?

The video says it all . . .

Saturday, March 21, 2009

No Longer a Baby . . .

Two things happened this week that made me realize that we no longer have a "baby" and both of those things a) made me cry, b) made me wonder if I do, in fact, want another child (shut up Gamma and Gampa Amo (smile)) and c) made me sure that I love my little bidders.

1 - We packed up all of Ava's old baby stuff (all the stuff that made the trek west with us, at least (stroller, umbrella stroller, baby monitor, crib, toys, clothes, high chair, etc. etc. etc.) and gave it to a co-worker who's daughter just had a daughter. Beautiful little baby, by the way. As I stood in the basement, consolidating and stuffing and carrying up to load stuff in to Mother Terry's truck, I got very teary. NOT because we were getting our basement storage room back (that is a plus) but because it was the first time our house has ever been babyless. Without the trappings of or capabilities for a baby - we'll put it that way (as long as I'm here, the house will be "with" baby).

2 - We went Easter shopping for Ava this weekend. The Easter Bunny stopped by and gave us some scratch to get her a few things with (thank you, Eastah Buhnay (who remembers that old school commercial for either Cadbury Creme Eggs (which reminds me - I need to blog about the time I ate 25 Cadbury Creme Eggs in one sitting (trust me, there is a story there)) or for Hershey . . . I digress). We decided that the Backyardigan's Trike that Uncle Patrick and Aunt Joyelle gave her for her first birthday has been too weathered and the pink Barbie Escalade is not quite ready for park appearances yet so - Ava is getting a tricycle (shhh, don't spoil the suprise) for Easter. We plunked Ava down on a few of the floor models in Target to see which one looked best (in terms of her using it, not the general appearance of her sitting on the trike) and which one she seemed to most "embrace". The results were, for both of us, tearful. Our little Bids just hopped on, started pedalng, cruised out in to the main aisle and headed towards housewares. Not a concern in the world. I remember, not that long ago, when she couldn't even figure out how to roll herself over.

Anywho, I'm over it (for the moment). The tears have dried and my mind has been realerted that I love being the dad to a toddler and that I am happy having nobody to share my parental love with but Ava BUT - I had a few moments of weakness. And in those moments I realized just how badly my wife wants another child and just how much her happiness means to me too.
What to do . . . what to do . . . what to do. The clock is ticking on this one, literally.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Stastics . . .

The numbers don't lie (click on the chart to the right to see a more legible statistics grid).

As I sit here today, I'm either at or below everyone of my pre-surgery goals (as far as my physical body is concerned) except that I still have 30 pounds to lose (ugh) and my BMI is 3 points higher than I want it to be (obviously one impacts the other).

Overall, I'm pretty happy with my numbers and proud of myself.

VERY weird to think I have been losing weight and getting smaller for two straight years. Never - in the 30 years before my surgery - could I have ever said that was possible . . . nor did I probably even DREAM that was possible.

Here's to getting the last 30 off and a life time of maintenance.

Happy Surgaversary To Me . . .

Well. Today is (was?) the big day. Two years since my surgery. Two years since I was rolled down that hall. Two years since the sweet, sweet drugs took me under. Two years since I first walked after surgery. Two years since I tearfully told Wifey that "we made it". Two years since those first anxious days and weeks after surgery when every thing I put in my mouth would, I was sure, pop my pouch and/or make me dump and/or lead to immediate weight gain and a lifetime of screwdness as I exhasuted all possible weight loss options available to no positive result.

Two years since I felt so crazy (and two years since I started feeling and acknowledging crazy in other areas of my life and working through it all).

I last updated my statistics chart at my 18-month mark (the end of the journey) and it seems like, true to the expert decloration, the journey of how gastric bypass will impact my weight and body did, in fact, end six months ago.

I have had SINGLE DIGIT weight loss since then. Yep. Six pounds. Six. I could have lost way, way more than that by just getting off my butt. And that, my friends, is the point of this post. The truth. The confession. The repeating of what I've been saying for two years on this blog.

Surgery is not the easy way out. It is not a guarantee of weight loss. It is not a guarantee of lifelong success. It is a tool. A vehicle. A first step. An aid. A hope and a prayer and a start.

Those hours on the table are all the surgeon or the procedure give you.

The rest is up to you. Same as it was before surgery. Same as it was when you first fell in love with junk food. Same as it was when you first realized you were morbidly obese and needed help. Same as it was when you took that last bite of solid food before you had to all-liquid-diet to ready for your surgery.

I have 30 pounds to lose. I might well be technically gaining weight. The number is down but Joy and I both feel like I might have been lighter around New Year's than I am now by a few pounds (promise to self - I will not go more than a month without weight myself ever again).

I have to lose them. I have to take responsibility. The ride of the surgery is long over. Six months over. Enough with the kidding around that the weight will just fall off me. Time to get to the gym. Time to use the treadmill in the basement. Time to start using my Biggest Loser DVDs again. Time to sign up for that yoga class instead of looking at the sign-up form. Time to start tightening my diet again.

I'll be fine. It's up to me. I got me this far. I've had this much success. I've done this much work. I've made it work and I've figured out a lot about myself and food and who I really am in relation to food. I can do this. I will do this.

It is up to me and I, two years after surgery, am strong, committed, loved, blessed and ready.
Much love to those that have read the last 440 posts of this blog. Much love to all the people that loved me when I was morbidly obese. Much love to those that love me now. Much love to the fine medical professionals at Danbury Hospital. Much love to my BGBFF Kate (who has a blind date this weekend and is "talking with" three men right now (get out there and enjoy it, my skinny, intellegent, caring, wonderful (and beautiful) friend)). Much love to my family (Amore, Terry, Salmans, Delenick, Kelly, Koskie, et al). Much love to my little Ava Grace. Much, much, much love to Wifey, without whom I truly would not be here today. Not the current version of me or any other version of me. I owe you my laughter, my love, my light and my life - and I thank you for sharing your gifts, patience, virtues and life with me.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go sit on my duff and watch some TV. Tomorrow. I'll go to the gym tomorrow! It's my surgarversary. I deserve to take today off (smile)!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Another "Fat" Debate . . .

I got upset when they called strung-out-and-losing-her-kids-Britney fat (ah, the old days when I used to actually put real thought and energy in to my blog posts (smile)) and I tried to sort of defend Jessica Simpson when her exercise video was delayed because of her weight but I can not and will not allow any meany (especially Laura Friggin' Ingraham) to talk crap about Megan McCain.

Yep.  Megan McCain.  Daughter of John McCain. (Maybe) Would-be first daughter of these United States if her father knew how to pick a running mate and/or if anyone really believed he ever actually wanted to be President and/or if the Obama movement hadn't swallowed up John, Cindy and the whole crew.  I digress . . .

Here's all I know about Megan McCain - she's probably one of the smartest dummies in her generation, her blog makes me jealous of her travels and her experiences (in a good way), she's got the best taste in music in any person I've ever known who doesn't work "in" music and she's NOT fat.  

She's just not.  

Sorry (read the following in one breath and slur the words together to carry the right emotion), skinny women who have worked your butts off and been able to succeed in the media world on a national level despite us living in a world that is, professionally, male-dominated and is often thought to be sexist, sizist, crass and horrible to endure for women who are just trying to be respected for their brains and who might be tempted to "resent" women who have not fallen to the pressures to be perfect in body, hair, makeup and speech and who might attack those women for gaining the 10 pounds you might not feel you can gain BUT it is not okay for you to call these women fat.  

It's not.  It's not okay to joke about them being "plus sized".  It's not.  It's not okay for you to make it seem like these women are somehow going to explode with one more bite of Bon Bon.  It's not.  I would still loathe Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham if they gained 100 pounds.  It is not about their weight.  I would still adore Wifey if she gained 100 pounds.  It is not about her weight.  I would still think that Imp is a lot of attitude for a little package if she gained 100 pounds.  It is not about her weight.  I would still love my BGBFF Kate if she hit goal weight.  It is not about her weight.  I would still love Ina Garten if she lost 20 pounds.  It is not about her weight.  I would still love or loathe men in the world for weight gain or loss too (it is not about their gender either (smile)).

I don't really understand the female mentality (and - let's just all admit - this crap is much more common with women than with men, before someone gets all bunched up and writes me some hate mail) to attack each other and criticize each other and go after each other for stupid stuff like weight, hair color, shoes and clothes (unless we're talking really bad fashion - then I have your back to attack (smile)) or any other superficial part of a person.  Ladies - you gotta' love each other.  You've gotta' lift each other up.  You've gotta' stop making it sound like it is okay for men to dismiss women for the size of their butts by YOU dismissing women for the size of their butts.  You've gotta' start spreading the knowledge that people will take better care of themselves, be healthier, be more productive and live longer, better lives when they feel accepted, loved and empowered (just ask any dog that spends its whole life in a crate inside a dark closet if you don't believe me).  

Megan McCain (and I've read enough about her on her blog and in the mainstream media) is young.  She's smart.  I think very smart.  She voted for John Kerry despite the family politics so she must be a free thinker (I don't, for the record, endorse her because she is a sorta democrat in a family of definitely republicans) and she is a woman who might just serve as the poster child for her entire generation (in many more ways than one).  Does it matter how much she weighs?  No.  Does it matter if she's "attractive" or not?  No.  She's smart and funny and seems to want to help and enrich the world.  

Does it matter that she's being attacked on a national level for just trying to be her?  Yes.  Does it matter that she's not asking for anyone's approval of her weight or body but is still being attacked?  Yes.  Does it matter that her attacker is a fellow woman?  Yes . . . and no.

Let's leave the "fat" labels to those of us that want to self deprecate.  Let's at least leave the "fat" talk and the sizist BS labels for those, like me, that are okay with being labeled for what we are.  Let's at LEAST agree to stop trying to make the weight of one person an "issue" (who, at heaviest is a few pounds "overweight") in a nation where MILLIONS of us are overweight.  Morbidly overweight for MILLIONS at that.  It just trivializes the argument, empowers those that don't need to feel like it is okay to be super heavy and it makes it harder to have real conversations about real issues (like true obesity) in this country.

Hey, Laura Ingraham.  Shut it.  Seriously.  Leave Megan McCain alone.  

And Megan, please at least channel this experience in to a killer iTunes playlist that I can steal (really, the woman knows her music).    

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Biggest Loser . . .

I know I don't post about the show as often as I used to (know that I still watch every second of it and still adore it) but I have just one word for last night's The Biggest Loser . . . dehydrated.

I cried for about 104 of the 120 minutes of the show.  Real tears.  Happiness and sadness.  If you are NOT watching The Biggest Loser you are missing the best show on television, seriously.  

These people ran 1/2 marathons tonight.  All of them but two, I think, over 200 pounds and all of them, but one, ran 13.1 miles.  With their friends and family cheering them on and me on the couch crying and crying.

It makes me want to lose my last 30 pounds.  Makes me want to be a better man.  Makes me sad that the season is already winding down.  

Happy Irish Stereotype Day . . .

Depending on who you ask, I am somewhere between 50 and 87.3% Irish.  I am 25% Italian (paternal grandfather, the "Amore" part) and very proud of that but I am more proud of the Irish-ness that lives inside me (thanks, Grandma Ramona Gleason and Grandpa John Coyle and the Irish part of Grandma Coyle too).  

I've never really "understood" St. Patrick's Day though.  My mother used to love the holiday (still does, judging by the 20 pound box she and my father sent Ava the other day) and she would go NUTS with stuff for the day.  NONE of which was really "Irish" at all.  We'd have green, shamrock shaped pancakes for breakfast.  We'd have green Knox Blox (Jell-O Jigglers, for those that are newer to the format) cut as shamrocks in our lunches.  We'd have lamb cake (the most delicious of allllll the cakes) for dessert that night.  We'd have green, green, green with no real nod to the actual culture or heritage of our "people".  We weren't totally nuts.  We did not, for the record, eat Corned Beef for dinner - THANK GOD! - for instance.  

I was typing with my friend Melissa the other day and I realized that St. Patrick's Day, like many holidays, was always sort of "about" eating and food and food associations.  

I remember many a St. Patrick's Day in DC with us going bar hopping (never to the big, popular Irish bars like Fado and Four Courts and Biddy Mulligans but to places like the cigar bar across the street from my office or Mexican places like Cactus Cantina).  I remember my first St. Patrick's Day at IBM.  I was driving back to Maryland and I stopped at some road stop in New Jersey and got about 4,000 calories of Cinnabon, Roy Rogers and Snickers bars. 

I also remember, vividly, the St. Patrick's Day lunch we had two years ago (during my last days as a "real eater" before my surgery).  We walked to a pizzeria in Bethel (How else would you celebrate St. Patrick's Day?  NOT with pasta and pizza?) and got Ava a huge bowl of pasta (she was in a pasta phase at the time) and Joy got a hoagie (or grinder or whatever the heck they call them in Connecticut) and I got a grilled chicken breast.  I remember being so proud of myself for showing restraint.  Feeling smug that if I can just have chicken breast "today" - I can go the rest of my life without eating foods that might compromise my surgery and long term weight loss success.  

I felt lucky to have a wife and a daughter and a mother-in-law who was going to fly in to help take care of all of us during my surgery and parents that, while anxious to join us, were respectful enough to not bring the craziness of three parents and a surgery patient in to our small house.  I was lucky to have my surgery scheduled and I was lucky to have survived to the date of my surgery.

Last year though . . . we . . . uh . . . we . . . I don't know what we did (I went to the doctor, according to the blog archive).  Why don't I remember?  It was NOT about food or beverages.  I broke the association.  I didn't make a holiday or special occasion "about" food and it was clearly less than memorable accordingly.

I feel lucky about that this morning too!

NOTE - NO. I did not eat any Lucky Charms.  This is just a picture that Imp took of me for a client project where I play a fictional person who's obsessed with sugary snacks and bow ties (oh irony of ironies).  Imp has, however, been working her way through every marshmallow in the box of cereal though.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Getting Better? . . .

4:57 - "Would all employees please report to the main conference room."
4:58 - Stopped looking around at my colleagues to see who would tell me, visually or with words, what was going on.
4:58 - Got up.  Headed "that way".
4:58 - Arrived in main conference room (it is 15 feet from my desk)
4:59 - Made some pithy remark about how this had to be quick because I leave at 5:00 on the nose.
4:59 - Only I laugh at my pithy remark
5:00 - Our CEO begins to explain that we did not, as an agency, get a large piece of business that we (collectively, my work was minimal in the process but, emotionally, I was all in for this project and work) had been working very, very hard on for weeks
5:01 - I want to eat, out of stress/sadness/misery
5:02 - Meeting concluded
5:02 - I linger in the room.  Talk to a few colleagues about the news and "what happened".  There is no food in the conference room.  I am safe here.
5:07 - No one left to chit chat with.  Walk the 15 feet back to my desk.
5:07 - Look at my desk.  Look at my stash of snacks (some beef jerkey - nothing too serious).
5:07 - Want to eat.  Not sure why.  
5:08 - Try to get back to work.
5:08 - Can't/won't.
5:12 - Announce that I'm going home for the evening.
5:12 - Get distracted by iTunes (I'm newly obsessed with Josh Ritter and there is a new Decemberists album coming out on Tuesday) 
5:15 - Leave.
5:16 - Back my car out of my parking spot.  
5:16 - Ponder breaking in to the snacks that I keep in my car for Ava.  Cursed sugar, with your popular status amongst toddlers and people who make snacks for toddlers.
5:17 - Scan the radio.  Wichita, while a wonderful place to call home, has pretty bad radio options.  Can't listen to the local college baseball coach's weekly show today.  Will drive me to DRINK (forget eat).  
5:18 - Put in the last Decemberists CD.  They are soooooo good.  Can't wait for the new album.
5:24 - Arrive in my neighborhood.  Yes.  It is only an 8 minute drive home (with "traffic" for me).  
5:25 - Drive around the block.  Not ready to go home yet.  Too stressed out.  Must honor promise to Joy to not bring my stress home.  Every night.
5:26 - Drive by the spot where I killed a squirrel a few weeks ago (I tried to stop, I swear). 
5:26 - Feel bad about the squirrel.  Want to eat even more.
5:27 - Contemplate leaving College Hill to go get something to eat from a drive-thru.  
5:27 - Continue driving home.
5:28 - Pull in to the driveway.
5:29 - Finish listening to O Valencia.  Must listen to more Decemberists, I've decided.
5:30 - Arrive inside the house.
5:30 - Notice that the kitchen is now a shade of orange (Pumpkin Spice Latte or something, I'm told).
5:30 - Remember that orange is an appetite stimulant. 
5:30 - Must
5:30 - Leave
5:30 - The
5:30 - Kitchen
5:30 - There is food in here.
5:31 - Kiss my girls.
5:32 - Tell Joy we lost the pitch.
5:33 - Sit down to watch a little bit of Tinkerbell on DVD with Ava (she's in rare form lately so it is often easier to just turn on a DVD for 10 minutes before directing her back to her crayons, her board games or the book Joy was reading to her when I walked in).
5:55 - We leave for Panera (the kitchen is not in any shape to provide us with a meal)
6:02 - Arrive at Panera
6:03 - Sit on the leather love seat with Ava while Joy stands in line.  Ava tells me that she has decided she is a princess and mommy is a dragon.  I am a tiger.  I have a good laugh.  Ava seems to be tapping in to her sense of humor and enjoying being an entertainer.  She starts belting out "tiger, tiger, tiger, tiger, tiger".  It gets less funny each time.  I try to explain that the best joke teller will leave 'em wanting more.  I seem to be boring her.
6:06 - Order food for Joy and Ava.  Nothing on the menu looks good to me.  I must be emotional, I realize, if NOTHING at Panera looks good to me.  
6:11 - Our food is ready.  Not a moment too soon.  I sense it has been a long and stressful day for Joy and Ava as well.  Joy looks like she's just finished a race.  A long race.  In poor fitting shoes and a business suit.  Having to pee the whole time.  
6:19 - Arrive home.
6:22 - Get Joy and Ava settled in to the playroom with their food and Tinkerbell on DVD.
6:23 - Joy reminds me this is the 4,826th time she's watched part of all of Tinkerbell on DVD.
6:23 - I laugh.
6:23 - Joy knows enough to leave me wanting more.  She's a good joke teller.
6:24 - I return to the pumpkin room to seek out dinner.
6:25 - Consider a protein bar.
6:26 - Decide that Boca Burgers is the way to go.
6:36 - Take my first bite of dinner.  Boca Burger with reduced fat cheese on half of a whole-grain wrap.  340 total calories.  25 grams of protein.  
6:37 - Sigh with happiness that I've gone 90 minutes since I wanted to eat without eating and when I did finally eat it was nothing I had to worry about or feel bad about.  
6:38 - Realize that, two years after surgery, I am getting better.  I never got cranky.  I didn't eat.  I didn't freak out.  I didn't act short with the women in my life.  I didn't do anything shameful.
6:40 - Joy leaves for the grocery store to get more milk and diet iced tea.
6:50 - Ava, Lily and I leave for a walk and some swinging in the park.
6:55 - I load Ava in a swing.  She reaches up, tickles my chin and calls me a tiger.  Once.  I laugh. 

Guest Blogger - Brandi Koskie

My dear friend Brandi (whom I've given several nods to here in the past) was also kind enough to do some guest blogging for me.

One of my favorite things about Brandi (and I may have already said about Brandi here but I will say again) is that she is probably the MOST empathetic skinny person I have ever met when it comes to obesity.  Not only does Brandi gather and share knowledge to and from fat people for a living but she also can sit, without the slightest bit of awkwardness, and talk about obese people who over feed their children, obese people who self loathe, obese people who don't take care of themselves and really disrespect their families in the process and the charms of the rare morbidly obese person who is not just a morbidly obese person (that is sarcasm, obviously).  Brandi is the only person that I have ever met who is not the slightest bit overweight that I have not ever felt odd about being overweight in front of (I get over it with most people but not quickly or easily) and she is the only person that I have met since moving to Wichita (the rest of my crew of honest-keepers came with me, to be clear) who I truly believe could easily put me in my place when and if the time ever comes that I need someone to do the "tough love" thing with and for me.  

Thank you, Brandi.  For coming in to our life and bringing your husband with you.  We really enjoy you and we appreciate you.  Skinny or not - you Koskies are gooooood people.  So good, in fact, that I can't resist another plug for your site!

I remember the first time I saw Sean. I had gone into the agency to visit a friend for lunch. I am an alum of Sean's current employer. I was taken back when I saw this portly fellow walking through the agency. Being totally frank and honest, as mine and Sean's relationship has grown to be, I initially had all the stereotypical flags wave in front of me that the ignorant people I hate would typically have. But there are members of my family who are in a position to consider bariatric surgery and so I reminded myself that he's probably just as normal and lovely as they are. I have no idea what he said, but I remember thinking, "Nice! He's kind of cocky and full of himself."

It was several weeks before I saw Sean after that. As a work-from-homer I enjoy getting out of the home office space occasionally and the "employer" was letting me share a desk for a few days. I heard Sean say something about Biggest Loser and my interest peeked more. With my job I do some work with the show so I was excited to pat myself on the back and share this with a perfect stranger. That same day Sean came into the office I was using to meet with a co-worker about a client. This would become our first real engagement with one another. It was February. I had just received my order of Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies. I'm what you might call a sharer. So I offered. A cookie. Just one. To Sean.

INSERT PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: At the zoo, they advise that you not feed the bears for a reason. They will bite you. The same phenomenon is true with a Mr. Sean Amore. Do not offer him food. Food with sugar and preservatives. He will bite.

So I held out my sleeve of icy cold Thin Mint cookies and said, "Would you like a cookie?" I got a response somewhere along the lines of "Did you REALLY just offer ME a COOKIE?! You don't offer someone who has had GASTRIC BYPASS SURGERY a COOKIE?! ARE YOU KIDDING?!" And so on. And with each ALL CAPS word or phrase he spouted, I lost two inches off my small 5'4" frame. By the time he was done berating me for offering him a cookie the size of a Ritz cracker, I could have run laps around the blasted cookie. 

And wouldn't you know it, after that we became friends and lived happily ever after. 

Seriously, while his outrage over A COOKIE shook me a bit (and rarely do I find people who "shake" me), I was impressed. He was funny. Rather sure of himself. He can play sarcastic word exchange like a raucous game of volleyball. And I liked it!

A few days after that we went with a few of his current and my former co-workers to lunch at Chipotle. While standing in line it came up that he has an adorable little girl named Ava whom he and his wife Joy adopted because they couldn't have kids on their own. Again, the stars aligned. I of course had to pipe right up and offer that my husband and I also can't conceive on our own and are pursuing IVF. 

So an unlikely friendship was formed. An accidental meeting between two cocky, sarcastic people who shared a very odd bond over obesity, Biggest Loser, infertility and a certain Wichita ad agency. 

It took several months of scheduling negotiations but we were finally able to bring our spouses together and let our new little foursome finally meet under proper terms. The Amores invited us to their house for dinner and my husband, Shelton, and I left feeling as though we'd left with much more than full bellies. (That Sean can cook, p.s.!) We had two new friends.

We spent that evening swapping stories about our broken reproductive systems, Sean's battle with weight and that had by some of our loved ones, the emotional angst that can only come from being all-too-involved with the Biggest Loser and a few other topics you should always discuss with new friends - politics, religion, abortion and money. 

So enough about our love story. This was supposed to be ALLLL ABOUT SEAN, right? Well, that's my Sean story. It's how I know him. In the year since I met Sean he's grown to be one of my favorite people. While I didn't know the pre-GB Sean, I'm incredibly proud to know the one that exists today. I'd love to be able to clink a frothy beer glass against Sean's and kill some tacos together, but I much prefer being the tipsy one in this relationship if it means that his life has changed for the better in the endless list of ways he says it has. My heart swells when I hear, see and read how happy Sean is. It's never fake with him. He's probably one of the most legitimately happy people I know. He's one of the few people I know who can genuinely say he has his priorities straight. It's strange how losing "a few" pounds can do that for someone. Of course, "a few" might be the most understated thing I've written here. 

I applaud Sean for so steadfastly sticking to his proverbial guns about his diet and lifestyle. There are no beers. There are no GIRL SCOUT COOKIES! There are no salads full of evil, evil lettuce. There's a happy man. A healthy man. A man who will live to see that gorgeous curly-mopped little girl grow into a beautiful woman. A man who will stand beside Joy long after Ava has her own kids keeping her up all night. While to this point in my life I've probably only ever had a good ten extra pounds to lose, and so my empathy might feel like a slap in the face to some, I've learned one hell of a lot from Sean's experience. And since we're like buddies now, I hope to keep watching and learning from Sean. Moreso, I look forward to watching Sean meet and beat more milestones in his very, very post-bariatric journey.

Happy Surgaversery, Sean!!!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

New Haircut, and Glasses . . .

I got a new haircut yesterday. They changed the "shape"of my hair - for the first time since I was in the 6th grade. There is only so much you can do with a balding, greying 32 year old man who hates the very process of a hair cut but I sorta' like it. Thanks, Mary-Kate!

The glasses are courtesy of Ava - who was also our photographer for the day. She's taken about 1,000 pictures already this morning. Her sense of "composition" is actually sort of impressive. She's doing things with the ottoman and a few of her toys that is really very "cutting edge" stuff.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

If A Girl Will Smoke . . .

DISCLAIMER - The following post contains adult language and subject matter.  It works its way around to be sentimental and impactful but the first few paragraphs will have to be endured to get to the good stuff.  

One of my very best DC friends (who shall remain nameless here because he is now married to a wonderful woman and has a beautiful daughter and I would assume (as a husband and dad to a little girl) that he is not nearly as proud of his once-profound observation as he was when he first shared it with me in 1998) once gave me an honest and "deep" observation about the fairer species.

"If a girl will smoke, she'll f&*$!" he mused.

I laughed.  And laughed.  And laughed.  And then I immediately scanned the bar for ladies with cigarettes (this was a long, long time ago when people could actually smoke themselves to death while drinking and eating themselves to death in the dive bars we frequented in my early DC days).  I saw a few smokers at the bar.

Yep.  They looked like the type.  I did nothing about it, of course, because my self esteem would not let me approach a woman . . . even a sure thing.  

Instead I thought about every young (or older) woman I knew to that point in my life.  There were high school friends who smoked.  I had lots of female college friends that smoked.  I had some DC friends that smoked.  I had never been intimate with any of them (I saved my ultimate gift for my wife - not that any other woman wanted it) but I knew, on fairly sure authority, that all of them were in fact willing to, uh, you know, uh . . . 

I was pretty sure my friend had a hilarious, disrespectful and, to a 20-something with the hormones of a 12 year old provocative piece of human understanding that he was sharing with me on this evening over $1 buds and bad nachos.  

But his point was clearly flawed, right?  Of COURSE he was wrong.

Grandmas.  Some Grandmas smoke and they are surely chaste . . . but haven't always been.

What about . . . ?  No.  How about . . . ?  Well, not them either.  I am sure that . . . no they probably do.  OH.  GOT IT!

"What about nuns?  I know nuns that smoke and they have given their lives to Jesus, his dad and their friendly ghost," I shouted.  

X smiled and calmly responded (having clearly had his argument challenged in this nature before) "You wouldn't know if the nun would be 'down' or not until you tried and I'm assuming you've never tried."

An excellent point.  I can proudly tell you that I've never thought about trying to sexual proposition a smoking nun in the past (and still have not, frankly).  I dated a woman later that summer who was a smoker though . . . and I feared every puff she took in front of me.

What is the point of all of this?  

Clearly there are women in the world (nuns and otherwise) that smoke and are not of loose moral character and clearly there are women in the world that respect their lungs more than their "head count".  One has nothing to do with the other.

You can't judge a book cover.

You have to break an egg to make scrambled eggs. 

You need to respect women.

Still wondering what the hell I'm talking about?  Well.  I'll tell you.  Obesity.  Yep.  I'm talking about the obese and who they are and why they are obese.

I had an interesting conversation with a total stranger the other day that sort of fueled this realization.  Stranger had no idea I weighed 500 pounds just two years ago.  He would have been shocked to realize that I had, I would assume, based on the way he talked with me about the "fat %ss" that had just walked by us (he weighed about 20 pounds more than I do, I would assume).  Stranger went on to talk about what restaurant the guy had probably come out of and what restaurant he was probably heading to and what snacks he had in his car and how hard it must be to walk at his weight and so on.

Just going OFF with the sizism and the nastiness and the hatred.  

Stranger proposed the guy was probably a pedophile (I kid you not) and that he was probably unemployed and that he probably hated himself - with good reason (again, kid you not).

I got upset.  Very upset.  I asked stranger, as calmly as I could, why he would make ANY of the above assumptions about the guy that walked by us and why he was sharing ANY of those thoughts with me, a total stranger.

The guy looked at me - sort of miffed - and asked me why I was defending a guy "like him".

I wanted to argue with the guy and I wanted to tell him he bothered me and I wanted to point out that I was, in my mind, a 530 pound man scrapping for some self respect and acceptance from the world that sees a 530 pound man walking around and I wanted to call the guy stupid, childish and absurd.

Then I remembered that night, 11 years ago, that I perused the bar looking for a woman with a pack of cigarettes because, hey, after all, if a girl will smoke . . . 

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Magically Delicious . . .

Did another "photo shoot" for a client here in the office today.  The shoot was for St. Patrick's Day (as is likely obvious).  

There are 11 grams of sugar in a serving of Lucky Charms.  46 grams of sugar in a Sno-ball.  Very little protein to be found.  I don't miss either food.  

Guest Blogger - Jen Handau

I've never met Jen Handau.  I didn't know what she looked like until I saw the pictures she sent me with her guest blog post the other day (I'm having issues figuring out how to extract them from the document she sent me to post them here).  

I don't know much more about her than what she's told me and I doubt, in all reality, that I'll ever meet Jen Handau.

None of that matters.  In my heart - Jen Handau is like a sister to me.  A peer.  A fellow soldier.  A friend of friends.  Jen, you see, is on the "other side" of her obesity journey too.  She's had gastric bypass surgery and I "met" Jen in the context of her surgery.  Jen e-mailed me around the time of her surgery a year ago and we typed back and fourth about the surgery and about life before and after and about hopes and fears of life after surgery.

I think we GBers are like alcoholics or any other addiction group or any other group that has been through a shared trauma.  We tend to immediately "take" to each other.  I will hug and share the most intimate details of my life with a total stranger when and if I find out they have struggled with their obesity their entire life and/or that they have had gastric bypass surgery or are considering the procedure.  I don't know why.  It doesn't make sense.  Yet, it is what it is.

Anywho - Jen is a simpatico soul.  And a damned good person.  I am proud to call Jen my friend and I am proud of the progress she's made and the journey she is taking and how I'm happy that she sent me that first e-mail a year ago and for letting me prattle on at her (I tried to find it and could not but I do know that in my response back to her I literally told her what type of shoes to buy to wear after surgery on her walks (no joke)) and I'm glad she reads this here blog and shares her experience with me as I share with her.

Thanks for writing for me and being a friend, Jen.  I appreciate it!

Sean has asked me to write some thoughts on my first year post bypass and my experience thus far. I first got into contact with him through Danbury Hospita
l’s website when I was researching the surgery. He was very reassuring (funny, sarcastic – all those things I needed) when I needed help.

I am a 42 year old wife and mother who decided on the surgery because I was tired all the time, unable to keep up with my four kids, and generally feeling bad about myself. 

The hypertension, knee pain, and “stress incontinence” also had an effect. All my kids were out of diapers, I was NOT willing to go back in! Clothes choices were abysmal, and boots were out of the question (for all of you who do not know, if you have fat ankles and calves, trying to get into boots is be like trying to fit a sausage in a straw). So I made the leap.

Since then, I have learned quite a few things and had a few A-HA moments, so I will share them (I talk a lot, so I’ll try to be brief):

1.   All protein shakes are not created equal. I cannot even begin to describe how much I hate them. I TRIED to like them. The taste just. . . lingers.  If you find youself in my shoes, MaryLou suggested “DS milk with Carnation Instant Breakfast – No sugar version”. Same amount of protein. Tastes like chocolate milk, no vile aftertaste. Magic.

2.  Small things mean a lot as you are losing weight. I remember the first time I was able to lean forward and flip the button to open the gas cap without having to open the door so I could lean the OTHER way over my belly. My smile was a mile wide. I remember when I went to the doctor’s and ONE GOWN covered me. All of me. No moon! Awesome.

3.  My issues with food are less, but have not gone away. I sti
ll deal with them daily, and want to eat when I am stressed (PS, if you remember, I have four kids – 19,18, 12, and 10 – so stress is PRETTY common), and I re-negotiate my relationship with food daily. It is no longer my best friend, but I would like to rub up next to Forbidden Chocolate now and then. Now, I choose banana and sugar free chocolate sauce with Cool Whip and nuts (protein, baby!).

4.  My relationship with my hubby has never been better now that I take the time to take care of myself and actually feel GOOD about myself.  We do not “go out to dinner” for every date. We play pool. See a movie. We’ve become less-food centric. More. . active. . and on that note:

5.  My body parts and the way my body has reacted to surgery: Gravity has taken over. Sunlight is not my friend. My heretofore endless cleavage has ended. The wonder bra isn’t quite as wonderful as I wish. Let’s just say the girls need help. We’re addressing that now and NOT through surgery. Creative mechanical engineering.

6.  The part that has been the hardest for me at times had been being SO excited about my change, accomplishments, and milestones and sometimes having less than positive reactions. My friends who were the ‘skinny ones’ in our group have sometimes asked me NOT to discuss how well I am doing as it depresses people who do it “the hard way”. By no means to do think I chose the easy way. I chose the way that was going to work for me. And I am SO excited about what I have accomplished.  I will talk the ear off of people who are truly interested in my experience, but have learned to ignore some of the . . less PC comments I get. It took a while. I’m Italian. I have cement.

7.  And for the final note: I don’t think Sean has addressed the problem I hear the most among my friends who have had GB. Gas. Yes, farts. They have a new life of their own. And the aroma is. . unique. Regardless of what you eat. So get used to it. Hang in crowds and look accusingly at the people next to you.

I would have the surgery again in a second. It has given me QUALITY time with my family and a new sense of self I haven’t had in years. The hypertension and all the other lovely side effects of being heavy are GONE. All of them. I will live a long and happy life with my family and put forth a good, healthy role model for my daughters.  

EDITOR'S NOTE - I HAVE talked about farts, Jen.  I guess we have different farting experiences.  Must be a lady thing (smile)!