Monday, October 27, 2014

Children can be cruel

I filed for divorce a few weeks before Evangeline's second birthday. She's five and a half now.  She is a very well-adjusted child considering the circumstances.  I'm also relieved to say that, at least so far, she has her mother's metabolism and eating habits.  She is a picky eater, which means she only wants to eat about a half-dozen different foods, but she doesn't eat in excess and she doesn't put on weight easily.  

I was a normal child too.  I was not a fat baby or a chubby toddler.  I was a skinny little kid through about the 2nd grade.  Then, I developed Meningitis and Encephalitis near the end of the school year.  Luckily, I survived with no serious lingering issues.  It did, however, leave me with some mild hearing loss and greatly diminished energy.  I was a different child almost overnight.  You can see clearly in pictures where I go from being a "normal-sized" kid to being overweight very suddenly.  

You've probably heard it said many times that children can be cruel.  I think that's an understatement.  As adults, children act very differently when we're around.  So, we tend to forget how mean they can be to each other.  Children can be vicious and merciless to each other.

I'm starting to realize that this may be where most of my self-esteem and self-worth issues come from.  We tend to analyze our family first.  My parents weren't perfect, but I don't think they were the issue.  Next, we delve into our romantic relationships.  Well, mine have not been great.  That's where I've focused most of my reflective energy.  I have deep issues with rejection and not feeling loved.  I always thought it had everything to do with women and relationships.  I think I may have overlooked the children.  

I was ridiculed for being fat, but it didn't start or end there.  I remember being mocked by my kindergarten teacher (and therefore, the whole class) for not paying attention.  I was just an awkward and unpopular child and I remember being the target of bullies most of my life.

In fact, I think this is where a lot of my trusts issues began.  I vividly remember an incident in the 1st grade when an older girl (2nd grade vixen) approached me on the playground and told me that she liked me.  She then asked if I liked her back, and I said "yeah."  At that point the ruse was up.  Four or five other kids then appeared all taunting me for saying that I liked the pretty girl who was, of course, only kidding about liking me.  Then, her 'boyfriend' proceeded to throw dirt at me for flirting was his girl.

Yes...  that really happened...  in the first grade.

No wonder I have so many problems trusting people, especially women.  I'm always waiting to find out that it's just a big joke being played on me.  After all, nearly every woman who ever told me that she loved me later changed her mind.  Maybe it's all just one big sham!

Wait... I got side-tracked.  Where was I?  Oh, yes!  Bullies...

It got much worse after I gained weight.

I vividly remember being scared to get off the school bus and walk home because some of the boys in my neighborhood decided to target me for reasons I still don't understand.  I trained in martial arts starting at age nine, so that I could protect myself from any physical threats.  Unfortunately, it was the mental torment that did the most damage.

The biggest problem is that the majority of kids will just follow the ringleader so that they aren't made an outcast next.  One or two kids decide to make your life a living hell and the rest just laugh or look away.  I am not going to name names.  It would be unfair to blast someone online for something they did 25 years ago or more, but I know who they are.  I only hope that they have become better people as adults.

Sadly, that's probably not the case.  My father told me something when I was in middle school that has served me very well.  He said, "Son, there are assholes everywhere.  You need to learn how to deal with them, because they don't disappear when you grow up."  That's very true.  We all try to protect our kids, but sooner or later you are own your own and the sociopaths are your coworkers, your bosses, or just people you run into.  You need to learn how to deal with them.

Until this very moment, I never equated those terrible experiences with my food addiction.  I guess I just found comfort in food and nothing else.  So, I eat when I'm sad.  I eat when I'm frustrated.  I eat when I'm nervous, and when I'm lonely.

On a side note, in the 6th grade, I had a very large and gruesome bully who was new to the area and just starting following the other bullies' lead by picking on me.  Then, one day on the bus, I told him a joke and he laughed.  He never messed with me again.  In fact, he stopped some of the others from doing so.   I figured out that I could disarm most people with laughter.  It worked in middle school as well.  By the time high school rolled around there were only a handful of bullies left, and by my senior year I had no problems at all.

So, as much as I have those other kids to blame for so much misery, I realize that I wouldn't be the person I am without those experiences.

Furthermore, I owe it to my younger self to be successful.  He had to endure a lot to get me to this point.  I also need to be healthy and get into better shape for that kid as well.  So, I'm not just doing this for me and for my daughter.  I am doing it for that little boy inside me who is afraid to get off of the school bus and walk home.

* * *

I had great week.  I averaged 2300 calories per day and I walked 41,000 steps, which is 11,000 more than last week.

I lost 2.8 pounds since last week and 13.4 total (in 21 days).

Monday, October 20, 2014

You didn't gain it overnight. You can't lose it overnight.

I had a pretty good week of dieting, and I even did a fair bit of walking (by my standards).   I averaged just under 2500 calories per day.   I walked 30,000 steps, which isn't much, but it's better than I was doing before.

Still, I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed with my weight this morning.  I weighed 358.8 pounds.  I lost 2.8 pounds since last Tuesday and 10.6 since I started this thing two weeks ago. 

Why is that disappointing?

Weight loss is too often a competition in our society.  Sometimes, it is actually a competition.  I'm not just talking about The Biggest Loser.  I've been in contests at my office and we even did a DietBet online earlier this year.  Even more than that though, I find myself in some sort of imaginary race with myself.  Why?  Why am I in a hurry to lose weight?  If I lose it fast, that's great.  If I lose it more slowly, that's fine too. 

I'm going to try very hard to see any progression as success.  Losing weight is better than staying the same.  Staying the same is better than gaining.  That's it.  There are no time limits.  There is no prize other than being a better (smaller) me.  Even if (God Forbid!) I should gain weight, as long as I get back on track right away then it's not the end of the world.  

I am not going to be disappointed by a weigh-in.  

That being said, there is an ultimatum.  I have to stick to this because there is a consequence if I fail.  

About three years ago, my doctor told me very plainly that I needed to look into surgical options for weight loss.  My constant up and down weight fluctuation was never going to stop itself.  She told me that I could lose the weight, but I would always be in danger of gaining it back.  Sure enough, after that conversation I lost over 50 pounds and then gained 80 back.  

Three months ago, I decided that she was right.  It was time to admit that surgery was the best option.  I met with my doctor again.  I set up a consultation with a local surgeon.  I even went to a seminar about weight-loss surgery options.  Finally, after convincing myself and even some of my friends and family members that this was the right choice, I found out that it was not an option.  

Our insurance does not cover the surgery under any circumstances.  I work for a small company and we have very good insurance, but it doesn't cover any weight-loss surgeries for any reason.  I could pay for it myself, but I don't have an extra $23000 lying around and I can't finance it either.  So, surgery was not an option after all.  

Then, I got an email from a company that offered to set me up with a free surgery if I would promote their company on the radio.  The only catch is that it's a medical tourism company and the surgery would be done in Mexico.  

Now, before you jump to any stereotypical conclusions, let me say that I researched both the company making the offer and facilities in Mexico.  These people take GREAT care of their patients because this is their only business.  They need every one of their customers to go home and tell people how great their experience was.  Your local surgeon and hospital don't need that.  You go to them because they're close and because your insurance is paying for it.  

So, I have a option.  I believe it is a safe and viable option.  There's only one problem...

I don't want to have surgery.  I realized that after my plans fell through the first time.  I have to give it one more legitimate try before I commit to a surgical option.  

This is my plan.  I'm going to do this and I'm going to be successful.  I'm going to stick with it.  

If I don't, then I have to go with Plan B.  That's not a "premeditated cop-out" as one of my friends called it.  It's a safety net.  

It's also a threat.  

This time, if I don't stay on the wagon, I'm taking a trip to Tijuana.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

An Eventful Weekend

One of the hardest things about any lifestyle change is sticking to it when your routine is broken.  As tough as it is to eat right and exercise on a normal weekend, it is much harder to do so when you're traveling or attending big events.  

I got through my trip to the water park without getting too far off of the path.  I managed to to face the temptations of the trip, track what I ate, and keep it from getting too bad.  The weekend didn't end there though.   

I had to put on my suit (yes, it is a very large suit), and go to a wedding on Sunday afternoon.  I hate wearing dress clothes because I feel enormous.  Everything is constrictive and uncomfortable.  Don't get me wrong, I don't like dressing like a slob.  Yes, it's more convenient and more comfortable but that's not the only thing.  I just feel like wearing a (very large) suit and tie just draws attention to my body.  That's never a good thing.  

So, I was very uneasy about the way I was dressed.  That being said, I should also point out that this was the wedding of one of my very closest friends and most of my favorite people in the world were there.  I was not lacking for great conversation or warm, fuzzy feelings.  It was a happy and enjoyable evening.  It was also a sad reminder of my biggest problem...

Now, it's hard to count calories at a wedding or any other party.  That's not an excuse.  I diligently counted everything I ate to the best of my ability.  I went through the buffet line and got a small amount of food.  I logged my calories into my fitness pal and everything was fine.  

The problem isn't that I went back later for seconds, even though I shouldn't have.  I hadn't eaten that much and I still had a little wiggle room under my Basal Metabolic Rate.  The buffet was out of sight of the dining area.  I walked over to it when no one was watching and got a little more food.  I want to emphasize that it was only a tiny bit more food on top of my already small dinner.  It was certainly not worth feeling any real guilt over.

But then, I sat in the lounge area, away from all the other guests, and ate my second helping in secret.  I didn't even think about what I was doing until the last bite was gone.  

Again, I know what I need to eat (or not eat) in a given day.  Even with the second trip to the buffet table, I hadn't eaten too much.  Nonetheless, I didn't want to be seen eating a second serving.  I made an almost unconscious decision to eat quickly and out of sight.  This wasn't an event full of strangers or casual acquaintances.  I was surrounded by people who love me and care about me.  Why did I feel the compulsion to hide what I was eating?

This is what I am trying to change more than anything.  This is where most of the guilt comes from.  

That being said, it could have been worse.  I didn't even eat a piece of cheesecake.  I made it through the long weekend, and my first week, without a lot of food issues.  

Oh, and the bride looked beautiful, and the wedding was lovely, and I wish them all the happiness in the world, and blah, blah, blah.  

* * *

Last week, I averaged 2400 calories per day, just 658 total calories over my goal for the whole week.  I also lost 7.8 pounds.  

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Water Park

It's fall break. So, I'm taking Evangeline to an indoor water park in Indiana.  It's a resort where you stay in the adjacent hotel, play in the water park, eat in the restaurants, and never need to leave the property for the short time you're there.

I love water parks. I always have. It's not nearly as much fun when it's just you and a 5 year-old who's a bit of a scaredy cat.  She won't do any of the fun stuff, so I can't do any of the fun stuff.  Nonetheless, it is a great place to spend a couple of days.

It does have a lazy river.  The lazy river is the only thing that Evangeline and I both think is awesome.  Every good water park has a lazy river. I remember Waterworld in Houston when I was a child. It seems enormous now, and maybe it was, or maybe it just looks that way in my memory.  The lazy river at Waterworld was not only a ride, but also a means of transportation. It sort of went throughout the whole park and you could enter and exit at different spots. There is also an excellent lazy river at the Phoenix West condos in Orange Beach, Alabama. That changed my perception of what a lazy river should be.  I will say that as an adult, a lazy river is not complete without alcoholic beverages. However, at water parks, this is not usually acceptable. 

Since I am now close to 370 pounds, floating on top of a tube is quite difficult. Over the past few years as a larger person, I have preferred to put the tube over my head and rest it around my midsection. Then, just lean forward and try to relax while floating around.

Today, that was more of an issue than usual. Today, when I attempted to put a tube over my head for the first time since July, it was a complete disaster.  Today, the tube got stuck.

I'm not kidding. The tube got stuck on my belly.  Once it's shoved onto you, it's hard to get it back up over your head.  So, I had to get into the pool and use the water to help me get the thing back off. 

Mortifying?  Yes. 

Am I glad no one I know was there to see it?  Yes.

Why am I telling you all now?  Transparency.

* * *

Yesterday, I had another good food day. I stayed right at 2000 calories. Today, I have not been in my home or my office with all of my easily countable food.

At dinner tonight, I was faced with my oldest friend and mortal enemy, the all-you-can-eat buffet.  I didn't have much of a choice. It turns out that on Friday night the restaurant turns into a buffet. That's it. We could get dressed and drive off the resort property, or just try to make good choices at the buffet.

I made good choices, but I still ate more than I should have. I'm at 2800 calories for the day, which is still under my Basal Metabolic Rate.  I'm a little disappointed in myself, but not too much.  It could have been a lot worse. I could have ate the fried chicken, and the mashed potatoes, and the dessert, and... You know what?  I'd better not think about it.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

I need to lose weight and I don't know how...

That's not true.  I know HOW to lose weight.  I have done it many, many times.  I know more about nutrition, exercise, and weight management than a lot of so-called experts.  I just can't stick to it.

Let's try that again.

I need to lose weight, and I can't do it alone.

I am not going to write this blog because I think that people will be interested in following my story.  They might, but that is not the point.  I am not going to do it under the guise that it will help other people.  It might, but again...

I am going to do this because I NEED help.  I am hoping that being public with my struggle will help me stay on track.  I need to know that everyone around me knows what I'm doing.   I'm not foolish enough to think that a lot of people will read this often, but I will know that anyone can read it at any time.  I'm just hoping that helps.

I will succeed.  I will also fail.  The only way to have more success than failure in your life is to respond to your failures with action.  I need accountability.  I have it in all the aspects of my life except one... what (and how much) I eat.

Even worse than not having accountability, is that I lie about food.  I am an honest person.  I try hard to be honest with my friends, my family, my colleagues, my business associates, and everyone else.  It's not easy.  No one is perfect and we all hide things from each other, but the one thing that I lie about often is food.  It started when I was a little kid, lying about how much I was eating, hiding food from my parents, eating when they weren't looking.  I have always eaten in secret.  I have done it in every relationship I've ever been in, including my failed marriage.  I was honest with my ex-wife about everything... everything but food.

In a way, I'm also lying to myself.  By hiding the way I eat from other people, I make myself believe that it's not as bad.  That's what I'm trying to do here.  I'm going to attempt to remove the veil of secrecy about what I eat so that there's no difference between eating alone and being watched.  If I tell you honestly in this blog what I eat and what I do everyday then it's the same as having someone watching me.

I'm not asking for your advice.  I'm not even asking for encouragement.  I just need one thing from anyone who actually reads this.  Read it.  Comment if you want, but that's not necessary.  Just be there on the other side of this and I'll try to do the rest.

Thank you.

Less Fat Guy

* * *

On Monday October 6th, 2014, I weighed 369.4 pounds.  I can't tell you what size pants I wear because they are not real pants with a zipper and a button and a size.  They have elastic and a drawstring.   My shirts are mostly XXXL.   I am going to start by counting calories with My Fitness Pal.  That's the first step.  If I can break the cycle of eating badly for one week, I will take it from there.  Today is Day 4 and I haven't broken down yet.  I'm eating around 2000 calories per day this week and I haven't eaten in a restaurant since Sunday, but I haven't had the energy to go to the gym yet either.  The weekend will be a challenge, but I will do my best.  No matter what, I need to be honest about it.