Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Digging Deeper, Finding Wellness/Balance

The journey to have weight loss surgery is often a long one.  A number of failed diets over many years, regained pounds multiplied by stress and life, feelings of hopelessness, years of depression, and hopefully, an acceptance that therapy may play a role in helping you understand where the urge to overeat comes from- what is it within you that has caused weight gain?

For each of us, it's different yet often similar experiences that brought us to armor ourselves with adipose tissue.  The gain did not occur overnight, it was gradual and the emotions behind it were deeply rooted.  Often, when the pressures of life were out of hand, be it harshly judging parents, poor parenting, trust issues, lack of self esteem, uncertainty, or traumatic events, we turned to food.  It was reliable, it made us feel good.  I can't depend on you, but I can depend on this Snickers to soothe me.

What do you do when food can no longer soothe?  It's not uncommon to have transfer addictions post weight loss surgery.  We may well "commit to our physician's requirements for the first year" but it seems like after that they just become mere suggestions for some.  Bad habits creep back in, new bad habits develop, or some become overly obsessed with calorie counting, exercise and watching the scale like a hawk.  Introducing the dangers of alcohol and drugs to the weight loss surgery after life bring up a host of issues.  Often the stomach, be it banded, pouched, or sleeved, your weight and body is no longer what it used to be.  If you've also developed the habit of drinking fast and go out on an empty stomach, there's possibility that it won't be too long that you've blacked out and done something you'll regret.

You may drink to feel better, to socialize, to meet new people.  You're receiving attention you may or may not be comfortable with, you may find a new side to yourself.  Realize, exploring your new self sober is the best way to gain knowledge of your true self.  If you are suddenly getting a lot of attention from the opposite sex, be cautious about your involvement.  Develop an understanding of what you will and will not put up with and have respect for yourself.  The repercussions of only one one night stand can have an impact on the rest of your life.  Take responsibility for your actions before they happen.


I'm repeating that because it's applicable to every aspect of this journey.  It's as simple as having a plan when you dine out, to having a plan when you go to a bar, to knowing what your expectations are from the opposite sex, down to engaging in healthy, positive behaviors at all times.

Now, let's talk about the extremes of post-op behavior - that seem healthy, but are actually extreme, obsessive-compulsive actions that could be counter productive to your overall wellness.  What is reasonable when it comes to dieting and exercise?  1-2 hours?  You be your own gauge, but if you've developed a leniency toward exercise bulimia, or you find yourself obsessing over calorie counting for months at a time, then you binge on something ridiculous, you're going to extremes.  BALANCE IS KEY.

Again, BALANCE IS KEY.   Daily exercise for 30 minutes is a reasonable, bare minimum.  Excessive exercise for weeks on in without giving the body a break is extreme.  Consider resting yourself 1-2 days a week.  I use the rule of exercise 4 days a week for 1 hour or 5 days a week for 1/2 hour. This is my balance.  Prior to surgery, I went through extreme periods of exercise bulimia where I worked out every single day at 5:45am, came home from work and repeated this process, but still I did not have the balance in my eating habits.  I was working out so much that I built up more *head* hunger, that I felt it was okay to binge in the evenings.  That went on for a period of two years before I realized my self defeating behavior.

Then I found balance.  I used my formula of 4/1 or 5/.5 and I ate reasonably.  My body plateaued for 4 years at or around 265.  It resisted change.  I fought for change, and my body had a mind of its own.  I looked at whether or not I was having "food amnesia," I went to therapy to deal with my issues, and still, I fought the scale and the scale won.  It took me 10 years to make the decision that I had tried everything, I had done all I could, I needed something more to help me through to healthiness.

Now, I live an alcohol and drug free life.  All drugs, I no longer take any medication for anything.  Nothing for anxiety, depression, mood.  I have developed positive self talk, improved self esteem, and appreciation for the gift of weight loss surgery.  I have accepted my body for what it wants to be, where it wants to be, and though I would like to be down to this or that weight, I realize that scale doesn't matter.  What matters is how I feel every single day about my successes.  The journey includes the successes and the mistakes.  We all will make mistakes in this journey.  What mistakes are we willing to change, or how have our behaviors contributed to the problem, and where are we unwilling to compromise?  This is about that.  What are you willing to give up?  Where can you find a balance between what you want and what you need?

You don't have to spend thousands of dollars on therapy. (However, if it's covered by your insurance, do it.  Some of us aren't so lucky!) You just have to reflect on the mistakes you've made and understand how you can apply yourself to do better. Each and every day, make conscious, mindful decisions about what you put into your body, what you get out of each day, and how you live your new life.  Are you counting your blessings?  Are you thankful for what you've received?  I am.

I am thankful for sobriety. The other day a good friend and personal trainer I know asked me, "So, you've given up everything?  No vices?  You won't even have a drink with us?"  I simply responded, "Yes."  I have given up everything.  No, I won't have a drink with you tonight.  But yes, I will have a drink with you in the future.  My balance is simply to understand where and when indulging in something is appropriate, meaningful and deserved, not just because it's Friday night.  I don't need alcohol to relax and have a good time.  I enjoy the company of friends without it.  If they are uncomfortable with my sobriety, that's their problem, not mine.

Several years ago, these words would not have come from me.  I've grown and prospered so much, and for that, I am thankful.

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