Category Archives: Rants

Proof in Pictures

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Hi.  My name is Annie and I am a compulsive overeater.

I’d like to show you a couple of pictures today.  As you may remember (and as it has been oh so long since I have written anything here, I fully understand if you don’t remember), I had weight loss surgery on May 23, 2011.  My weight before surgery was 455 pounds.  The expectation was that I would lose 60% of my excess body weight, or a total of 253 pounds, in the first year after surgery.  Of course, we didn’t expect that I would have a herniated disc in need of repair during that first year.  Yeah, that has hampered my weight loss.  It is a part of the reason that I haven’t kept up this blog as I intended.  To say I have battled depression issues since the problems with my back developed would be an understatement.  But the back and depression are only a part of why I haven’t kept up with this blog.

The other part is my laziness.  That is one of those character defects that I have to face when I work on Step Four—and in all honesty, is one of the reasons that I have avoided that Step.

Anyway….  I wanted to share with you a picture of me before my surgery.  As you can see, I look like a whale.  I even wore black that day, knowing that I was going to have my picture taken.  Black is supposed to be slimming, right?  Well, if this outfit made me look any slimmer, I would honestly HATE to see what I looked like in a color that wasn’t black.

Before surgery picture. Weight 455 pounds. YUCK

I went yesterday for my one year checkup.  It’s been more than a year, I know, but the back issues messed up my schedule a bit.  When I stepped on the scale and say my weight at 359 pounds, I wanted to cry.  I was so mad at myself!!  That weight is actually 9 pounds heavier than I was at my 6 month postop checkup.  I swore going into this that it wouldn’t matter how much or how little weight I lost, once the weight was gone it was not going to come back.  And I had allowed 9 pounds to sneak back onto my frame.  Now, that I didn’t lose more, that I have no problem “blaming” on the back issues.  It’s kind of hard to exercise with the balance issues I’ve been dealing with.  But regaining 9 pounds?  I can’t blame that on anything other than the bad choices that I have made.  I’ve not been paying close attention to my food choices.  The number on the scale showed it.  I left the office feeling really down on myself.  Sure, the dietitian had given me a diet to follow for a few weeks, something to help kick start my metabolism and help me get back into losing.  She also gave me some exercise ideas that will help and shouldn’t hurt my back much.  But all I had in my head right then was that number.  I was mad at myself about the whole thing and felt like a failure because I hadn’t done more.

Just before I settled in to watch the Olympic Opening Ceremony last night (hey, just because I don’t like to compete in any sport, doesn’t mean I don’t like watching the world celebrate sport!), I opened an email from the dietitian.  She had taken my picture again and had sent me copies.  My jaw about hit the floor when I looked at them!

Fourteen months after surgery. Weight 359 pounds. Loss of 96 pounds.

Can you see the differences?  I actually have a SHAPE now, a shape that is not just blob-shaped.  Sure, I still have a ways to go to get where I want to be, but now I can actually see the difference.  I can see that I am losing weight.  No, I don’t feel wonderful about it, but I feel much better than I did when all I knew was the number.

Now to get myself back on track and really working to get the weight off.

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Blame Responsibly

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My name is Annie and I am a compulsive overeater.

And today I am in a bit of an argumentative mood!

Can’t say that I woke up that way. No, I was actually in a pretty decent mood when I got up this morning. It wasn’t until I started reading today’s bit of wisdom in the Emotional Eater’s Book of Inspiration that I got into a fighting mood. Here is the particular sentence I read that made my blood boil: You are not to blame for your weight problem.

Well then, who is?

Should I blame Ben and Jerry for making all of those delicious ice cream flavors?

Or maybe Sara Lee and Little Debbie for making so many varieties of snack cakes?

Or perhaps the blame goes to Wendy, Ronald McDonald, The Dairy Queen and The Burger King for making it so easy to get unhealthy food without even leaving my car?

No, they didn’t do it. They are not the reason I have a weight problem. How can I blame them for finding a way to continue making money in such a tough economy? Just because they make it doesn’t mean I have to eat it. They haven’t forced me to hand over my money or take that first bite. They haven’t forced me to continue eating long after I was full. Nope, that is all on me.

So how can anyone say that I am not to blame for all of this extra weight?

This particular reading was very confusing to me. It started with that sentence above and ended with, “take responsibility and watch your life change.” But how am I really taking responsibility for anything if I refuse to realize that I am to blame for the choices that led to this extra weight?

Now, I can understand not dwelling on my guilt. That is just going to make me want to eat more. But to deny that I am the cause of the weight? That doesn’t make sense.

Yes, I realize that I have a disease. I realize that it is moments when the disease is at its worst that I eat more than I need to. But that’s not an excuse. By not getting help, by not following the 12 steps as I should, I allowed the disease to gain the upper hand. If my addiction was to alcohol and I caused the death of another person by driving while drinking, would I get out of trouble by saying, “I am not to blame for this; it is the disease that did it?” No way! And I just don’t think that that I can ever take responsibility for my actions if I don’t accept the blame for my weight problem.

Selfish

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My name is Annie and I am a compulsive overeater.

I have to ask a question. PLEASE give me an honest answer. After all, the topic of discussion tonight at meeting was honesty. Honestly, I don’t know what to think at the moment, and I need to hear what others have to say. Am I looking for advice? I don’t think so. Just looking for some feedback.

Am I selfish?

More specifically, does wanting weight loss surgery make me a selfish person?

Earlier today, I told you about my official acceptance into the bariatric program at the University of Michigan. There are a couple of things that I still need to do before surgery. One is a nutrition class that my husband is supposed to attend with me (since he does some of the grocery shopping) and the other is a workshop our counseling program that deals specifically with food addictions. Both requirements make sense to me. The class is supposed to help my husband learn how to read labels and know what sort of things I should be eating. And dealing with my food addiction—well, that is something that I have been doing with my OA meetings anyway. I am willing to do whatever I have to face it, even if that means driving to Ann Arbor once a week to work with a food addiction counselor.

And that is, apparently, what makes me selfish.

In all fairness, my husband did not use the word “selfish” in our conversation. He did yell (literally at some points) about how unfair it is that he is expected to do these things with me. “Why should I change my eating habits just because you need to change yours?” He asked if I expected that he and our sons would eat nothing but protein shakes like I am. I told him no, but I do expect them to eat healthier. “I am not going to be cooking pizzas and deep fried foods,” I told him. He said that he likes that kind of thing. I told him that I understand that, but I can’t keep preparing food that way. “I thought you could eat whatever you want after this surgery,” he said. Well, in a way I can. I will be eating much smaller portions, but I will be able to eat basically any food that I choose. However, if I eat nothing but fast food and ice cream, I will get right back to where I am now. I told him that if he and the boys want that kind of food, they will have to go out and get it or else he will have to cook it. Know what he said to that?

“If I have to cook for myself, you’d better find a way to support yourself.”

Oh, that pissed me off more than I can say! I work from home, making a little money here and there, but nothing steady. And every time he disagrees with something that I say or do, he has to throw that up in my face. I hate that he does that! And I had no clue what to say about it.

I can tell you what I wanted to do. I wanted to eat. In fact, I still do. I want to stuff my mouth full of the junk food in the kids’ snack cupboard. But I didn’t. I haven’t. And I won’t. As I told my husband, the point of the food addiction counseling is to learn how to deal with disappointments and other feelings without turning to food. Instead of eating, I turned to my computer and my journal. I guess that is a step in the right direction. And the fact that my husband is still breathing, well that is a good thing, too.

Isn’t it?

He threw a fit about the cost of counseling sessions. I will have to pay a $10 co-pay for each visit. “And why now, after 35 years on this planet, is this food thing such a problem for you?” Did he actually say that to me? I heard it myself and I still can hardly believe it. I mean, just LOOK AT ME!!! I am 35 years old and 5 feet 6 inches tall. And I weigh over 400 pounds. It’s not like I was 165 pounds yesterday and BOOM another 250 pounds found their way onto my hips and thighs. Food has been a problem for a long time. It’s just that I am finally facing it, finally trying to do something about it. Why now? That is pretty easy to explain, actually. At the end of February, I had some horrible chest pains. My doctor sent me from his office to the emergency room with an EKG readout that said something about not being able to rule out an anterior infarct, which I knew was “doctor speak” for “may have had a heart attack.” All I could think about was leaving my husband to raise our three children alone. That scared me. I don’t want my kids to grow up without me. And I don’t want to even think about some other woman taking my place in my husband’s heart. Even when I am mad enough and hurt enough by his words to not want to be near him, I can’t stand the thought of another woman being with him.

And the truth is, if I don’t do something about my food addiction, that is what I am headed for. If I can’t figure out how to live with this addiction (not beat it, as I am not sure that is possible, but live with it in a way that, well, allows me to LIVE), I will be taking away his wife and I will be depriving my sons of their mother.

I know that I tried Weight Watchers before and lost interest in it after a few weeks. Part of why I lost interest is because of the flack I got from my husband and sons about the healthier foods I was making for them. Part of it, but not all. I am not putting all of the blame for my past failures on any shoulders but my own. I got bored with it. Not with the foods I was making, because they were actually pretty good. I was bored with keeping track of POINTS all the time. I got tired of looking at the way others could eat anything they wanted and I had to make other choices. I lost interest in Weight Watchers because I was lazy.

And that laziness allowed all of this weight to attach itself to my body. That laziness allowed a problem to settle into my heart. It led to high blood pressure and borderline diabetes.

The laziness led me to an afternoon in the emergency room, forcing myself to breathe and wondering if I was going to leave my husband and sons alone.

That afternoon in the ER forced me to look at what I am doing to myself. Each bite I take when I am upset or happy or anything other than hungry is pushing me one step closer to dying. And I don’t want to die. There are too many things that I still want to do with my life. Including seeing my sons graduate high school and college, get married, and have children of their own. And I want to celebrate my 50th wedding anniversary. None of that will happen if I don’t face this “food thing” head on, starting now.

Does that make me selfish?

Accepted!

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Hello. My name is Annie and I am a compulsive overeater.

And today, I am EXCITED!!!

As you may remember, I had my medical evaluation for weight loss surgery on March 3 and then my psychological evaluation on March 18. I’ve been told ever since the 18th that my case would go before the review board “any day now.” And I was getting rather frustrates that nothing was happening! Today, I called and found out that my case was presented to the review board on Tuesday, April 12. I had to wait on hold to speak with someone specifically about it, but I learned that I have been accepted into the program!

There are a few things that I need to do yet—like attend a nutrition class—but now I am officially in the bariatric program. I am beyond happy about that!

One thing that annoys me, though, is that I have to either see a counselor who specializes in food addictions or go to a Hunger Within Workshop. Now, neither of those options is a particularly bad one, especially as my health insurance will pick up the tab. The problem is that I have to drive at least half an hour to get to the appointments. Half an hour, on the highway. And I am paranoid about highway driving. Oh, and the workshop? Yeah, it is pretty much out of the question. The current workshop is full and the next one doesn’t start until September. SEPTEMBER!!! I am so NOT willing to wait that long for my surgery.

There is one other option. If I provide documentation about my activity in OA, they “might” consider that in lieu of counseling or the workshop. That would be the easiest for me, and I am praying that it works out that way. But if not, I will have no choice but to conquer my highway driving fear and get to counseling appointments in Ann Arbor.

Less Alone

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Cover of "Idoleyes: My New Perspective on...

Cover via Amazon

My name is Annie and I am a compulsive overeater.

And today, I am feeling just a little less alone. There are two things making me feel less alone in my fight against food addiction today. One is abook. The other, a piece of jewelry.

The book is Idoleyes: My New Perspective on Faith, Fat and Fame. It was written by former American Idol contestant Mandisa. As much as I enjoy reality TV, it was not the American Idol Connection that drew me to this book. I heard about it on Smile FM, my favorite Christian radio station. Right after playing a Mandisa song (My Deliverer, I believe) the DJ mentioned that the singer had written a book about her struggles with food addiction and how her relationship with God help her to deal with it. That really caught my attention! As soon as I got home that day, I search Amazon for the book and placed my order. The book was an eiveeasy read, something I likely could have finished in a day. But I took my time with it, slowly savoring every word. In Mandisa I found something I have yet to find in the members of the OA group I belong to—a woman my age (Mandisa is almost exactly 9 months younger than I am), with a close personal relationship with Christ, who is battling an addiction to food. (Please note, I am not commenting on the relationships the women I have met at OA have with God. That is up to them! I am only commenting on what I see in Mandisa.) Reading through this book, I saw a lot of me and a lot of the woman I would like to be. I could really relate to her in so many ways. What I came away with was HOPE. God can—and will, I am certain—use this addiction to food to bring me closer to Him. I know that He has a reason I am going through this, and if I just listen and follow His leading, I will one day understand that reason.

 

My 12 Step Bracelet

The other thing that has me feeling less alone is a bracelet that I received last week. The ladies in my OA group had a craft day about a month ago that I was not able to attend. One of the crafts they made was a 12 Step Bracelet. Knowing I would not be able to attend the gathering, I paid for a kit and one of the women made the bracelet for me. I’ve been wearing mine on my left wrist ever since it was given to me. Each of the stones represents a different one of the 12 Steps. The stones really remind me of the women I see at meeting each week—different, colorful, something you wouldn’t think would actually belong together, but when placed together they make up something beautiful. Wearing the bracelet reminds me that there are others going through what I am. Not only that, it reminds that there are others who love me enough to really care about my recovery from this disease.

 

February Depression

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My name is Annie and I am compulsive overeater.

And apparently I am depressed. I don’t mean I am hovering on the edge of a depressed episode. No, I mean I am deep down, over my head in a bout of depression. How can I tell? Well, lots of ways. The way that I want to eat everything I see. The way I am so doggoned tired all the time. The way that all four of the males living in my house are getting on my nerves lately. The tears that feel like they will fall for no apparent reason. And most of all, I know I am deep in depression because I haven’t been writing.

It’s not uncommon for me to write something and think, “Gosh, that is crap.” But I still write. Not the last couple of weeks though. Normally, even if the fiction isn’t flowing, I am blogging or journaling. SOMETHING that keeps my creative juices flowing. But no. Not now. For the month of February I’ve looked for any excuse I can to not write anything. I’ve even used the excuse that my Facebook games will wither away and I’ll lose all the progress I’ve made to not write.

It makes no sense that I would be like this. I was forced to go six weeks without much writing because of a dead computer. Now that I have one and I have time to write, I am not doing it.

Why???

Well, actually I know what. It happens in February. And it will likely happen again in October. February marks the anniversary of my miscarriage and October marks the anniversary of a birthday never meant to be. Even when I think I am doing well, it just slams me down. Thoughts of my little girl (or boy, but I prefer to think of her as a girl) and what might have been hit me like a sucker punch. This year, I swore that I would get through without food. Hasn’t happened.

And that makes me MAD. I KNOW this will be a tough time for me. I KNOW that I am an emotional eater and that I tend to force down “negative” feelings with food. I have phone numbers for gals in my OA group. I have a way to contact those gals on Facebook and email. Yet, I choose to go through this alone. How dumb am I?

Victory and Embarrassment

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I’m Annie and I am a compulsive overeater.

This weekend, I was feeling pretty good.  I had to testify in a custody hearing on Friday, which stressed me out enough to make me want to eat.  Saturday was my 11th wedding anniversary, something that my hubby and I like to celebrate with a big, fancy meal.  Oh, and also on Friday, my second grader brought home a note about the school accepting registrations for preschool starting this week; my youngest son meets the age requirement and is BEGGING to be allowed to go to school.  All of these things were chances for me to indulge the emotional eater in me and scarf down everything in sight.

BUT I DIDN’T!!!!

No, I didn’t starve myself.  And I am sure some of my food choices were not the healthiest.  But I avoided soda pop (except for the last drink in the bottle that my two oldest sons were fighting over) and I avoided overeating.  I ate enough to satisfy me and nothing more.  That is a victory.

But it is a victory that meant very little to me yesterday morning in church.  About three years ago, the church changed from traditional wooden pews to padded pew chairs.  There wasn’t money in the budget for wide, comfortable chairs, but the ones that were purchased were very nice and very deeply padded.  And they don’t have arms, which is a major plus in my eyes.  We choose seats yesterday morning in the center section, second row.  My husband sat on one end, then our 7-year-old, our 9-year-old, and me, with an empty chair beside me.  I like to have an empty chair where I can place my purse and Bible for the praise and worship portion of the service.  It’s easier to grab them off that chair than to bend over and retrieve them from the floor.  My weight just makes that bending difficult.

Well, something even worse happened yesterday.  When the singing ended and I took my seat, I realized I was really taking my seats—my butt was on both chairs.  I don’t know if anyone else noticed it.  Likely they didn’t (at least they didn’t if they were paying attention to the sermon).  But I noticed it.  I felt so humiliated.  Every time the pastor looked in my direction as he spoke (which seemed to happen quite often because my family was sitting so close to the front) I was almost positive that he could see the way I was sitting on two chairs.  I didn’t tell anyone about it, not even my husband.  Yet I couldn’t get the thought out of my head.  When I tried to take a nap after Sunday dinner, I kept thinking about my butt spanning two chairs.  I dreamed that I was too large to fit into my queen size bed and needed to have a second one set up in my room in order for me to sleep.