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!  

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