Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Regrets, I've Had A Few

I've had a lot of time to think over these past few weeks and so I've been thinking about a bad habit that I have: I tend to overthink things and then actually make myself depressed.

The worst is that I'll find myself becoming depressed over things that have happened years ago or that there's absolutely nothing I can do to change. For instance, sometimes I find myself getting angry about not having won a particular music competition in high school. High school! I mean, I'm 36 years old now, so that's pretty ridiculous. Other times I find myself regretting the fact that my current best guy friend -- whom I've known since high school -- and I weren't close when we were teenagers and so don't have that history. Yet that's also silly to worry about, as he's said to me, because we're close now and we're building a history. Then there are the millions of regrets and anger I have about insults that were hurled at me as a child by bullies, times my heart was broken by boys or by friends betraying me, stuff I wish I've done and haven't.

I believe that it's okay to think about your past -- it is a part of you, after all, and helped build who you are today -- but I know that dwelling on it to the point where I'm sometimes in tears is a really bad thing. So while I won't put my past behind me, I'm attempting (attempting being the operative word here) to view it more matter-of-factly and find the positives in my life NOW. I don't think I do that enough and well, getting depressed over something that happened in 1987 isn't going to help me!

So whenever I wish that I'd had more fun in college, that I'd spent more times at parties going crazy, I'm going to remember that I DID have fun at college and am still close to many of my friends from then. Plus, the few times I did "go crazy" at parties, I didn't even like it, so it's not like I missed out on something I wanted to do.

Whenever I get angry about the fact that I didn't make the All-State Orchestra in high school despite putting in years or training just for that audition, I'm going to remind myself that I HATED doing music competitions and enjoy playing for fun much better. When I played with my friend's band last year, the audience actually cheered for me, calling my name! And I composed and produced my own CD so it's not like I haven't been a successful musician in my own way.

Whenever I regret the fact that I've spent most of my life as a young adult being overweight and have missed out on some things, I'll remind myself that I still have done a lot of things. I got married, have traveled all over the world and have a lot of friends. I may not be a beauty queen, but no one seems to care. And I'm still fairly young. I can still lose weight and go scuba diving or ballroom dancing or whatever else I want to be healthy for.

Whenever I become angry at stuff my mom said to me 20 years ago, I have to force myself to work on our current relationship. This one is tough, but we've been doing pretty well over the past few years. We don't fight like we did when I was a teen and still living at home so it's a much different dynamic.

Whenever I become angry at the abuse I suffered at the hands of my babysitters' children and various bullies from back then, I have to remember that there's NOTHING I CAN DO ABOUT IT. It happened and I survived and if I'm still thinking about this stuff 25 years later, then they won in a way.

Like I said, I can't completely shut down my past and forget about it. But I'm trying to change my outlook and be more of an optimist about life. This way, I won't be as tempted to stuff my feelings with food and will just be able to enjoy everything around me. I don't know how successful this experiment will be, but I'm going to give it a shot!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Baby Steps

Today I got to show off my "new" walking abilities to my dad when he picked me up for physical therapy. I can now walk about 5-10 feet, with the help of a walker; it aches a bit, but my stride is getting a bit more natural. He said that it's good to see me back on my feet, even if it's only for a couple of steps at a time.

Meanwhile, I had another intense PT session today. My regular therapist was there and was upset when I told her about Saturday's session; she says that they overworked me and that two hours was too much therapy for now. Still, the (presumably) "lighter" session she had me do today still kicked my butt. She put a 2-pound ankle weight on my foot and had me do various range of motion stretches, which were fairly easy. But then I had to stand and do exercises where I raised my bad leg and held it out to the side for 10 seconds ... and then raised my good leg and did the same. Ouch! Putting all of my weight onto my bad leg for these moves was hard, especially with the weight on my foot, but I'm glad that I'm being challenged. I was seriously huffing and puffing and sweating after these, which is kind of sad, given how simple they would've been without a broken leg (but I guess that's the point). I was up for doing some more exercises, but she called time on our session and warned me not to overdo things. Still, I'm pleased that I'm now able to ambulate a little and am getting back some balance. Though I was gripping the rail while I did these, I felt less of a need to than I did before and even let go for a second to see what it felt like.

I have to say, I really like having a set exercise plan in place, even if the moves are kind of lame (no pun intended) at the moment. It feels good to be moving and sweating and well, doing something. I also like that I'm kind of "forced" to do these exercises because if I don't, well, it'll compromise my recovery. Sticking with a workout program has always been an issue for me, despite exercising sporadically for years, but I don't really have a choice with this one -- which is a good thing.

I suppose I should regard my weight the same way: that I don't have a choice and I *have* to work out if I want to get healthy. It's more difficult though, I think, when the dangers and results aren't as urgent. I know intellectually that if I don't lose the weight I can die, but that's easy to ignore when I'm youngish and relatively healthy. It can also get frustrating when I don't see the results I want as quickly. Whereas with my leg, I'm already seeing drastic results so it's a little more motivating. Right now, however, getting up and moving is only going to help me with both of my problems, so it's win-win!

My goal right now is a small one and it's to be able to walk the length of our hallway to the living room with the walker. This is about 30 feet -- not a terribly long distance on a normal day, but for me, it feels like a couple of miles right now. Once I conquer this, then maybe I will be able to get from room to room without the wheelchair or office chair and then I'll be on my way to being a fully functioning person once more.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Weight Loss Memoir Review: 703 How I Lost More Than A Quarter Ton And Gained A Life

In order to inspire me throughout my weight loss journey, I've been reading a lot of different weight loss memoirs. One of the favorites that I recently picked up is Nancy Makin's 703: How I Lost More Than A Quarter Ton And Gained A Life.

While I believe that anyone who loses weight and manages to keep it off deserves applause, Makin lost a staggering 500 pounds (plus a bit more when she had the excess skin removed). In her deeply personal memoir, she not only shares how she lost the weight, but how she got to become 703 pounds in the first place.

Even without the weight loss angle, Makin has a fascinating life story. As one of seven (!) girls (as an only child, I can't even comprehend this), she grew up with a very religious mother and passive father. Eventually, the mother took the family to Quebec, where they lived in a Catholic-style cult. Makin and her sisters were separated from their parents and forced to live a life of prayer, labor, isolation -- and were more or less starved -- while being governed by nuns who constantly called the children "evil." It was during this time that Makin began to sneak food and question her beliefs. Though her mother decided to have the family leave after a few months, Makin was actually sent back to the order a few years later as a teen -- but in a much more rebellious state of mind.

Makin's experience there, plus a failed marriage, affected her life and self-esteem and she eventually grew to be 703 pounds. She was basically bedridden and trapped in her home and couldn't even attend her son's wedding. However, after her sister gave her a computer, Makin made friends online -- and finally found something to be passionate about outside of food. It was then that she found the esteem and strength to lose weight. In the course of this, she also became a self-made businesswoman, running her own house cleaning business.

Makin's story is suspenseful and inspiring and I very much enjoyed her narrative. She never whines or blames anyone else but herself for her weight gain. She simply lays out the facts of her life as she recalls how she got from one point to another. I also admire her for forgiving her mother -- and even forging a decent relationship with her -- as an adult. She's a role model, not just because she lost so much weight, but because she's TOUGH. I mean, at one point in the story, she broke her ankle -- and didn't even bother to see a doctor. She just kept going about her job and didn't find out until years later that it was broken! Given my current situation, I can't even begin to imagine how she tolerated the pain.

Even if you're not trying to lose weight, this memoir makes a great read. But for someone like me who is, it reinforced why I want to be thinner -- not so that my life can be better, but so that I can enjoy the life I already have even more.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

All Hail The Warrior Queen

It's been two days since I've been back on my feet post broken leg, but today was the first day I did standing exercises in physical therapy. I'm proud to say that it went really, really well.

I explained to them that I wanted to be challenged and they didn't disappoint. My session ended up lasting more than two hours!

I'm really glad that I've been doing some standing exercises on my own for the past couple of days, so I wasn't too nervous when they asked me to get out of the wheelchair. However, I was a little hesitant when the therapists asked me to do my workout barefoot, explaining that I wouldn't be able to move as well with the AirCast. It really wasn't bad, though. I feared that without the brace, my ankle would be twisting all over the place and I'd break it again, but my leg felt surprisingly stable. Then again, I have plates and screws in it, so I have some extra support there.

Thanks to all of the practice I've had lifting myself in and out of chairs and cars and beds, etc., I was able to pull myself up out of my chair without help -- and the therapists were impressed. They then had me do 50 semi-squats, 50 shifts of weight from one foot to another and 60 marches in place. Those were the most difficult because whenever my good leg came up, all of my weight was on my bad leg. I had to take a couple of breaks during this exercise, but I managed to do 10 extra than they'd asked for.

One of the therapists, Dave, also had me do a bunch of resistance band exercises, which I really liked. He initially had me using a band that had the resistance of 1-2 pounds (the resistance comes from the thickness of the material; it's more "bendy" when the resistance is lower), but it was too easy for me and he gave me the next level up, 3-4 pounds. That was actually kind of easy for me, too, so I'm going to try the next level during my session on Tuesday. But he was pleased to see that I was doing so well and wasn't in too much pain -- and then called me a "warrior," which was cool. I think he appreciated having a patient who was willing to work hard and was enthusiastic about the process. I think it's the A-student in me; a teacher gives me an assignment and I want to do well.

It was frustrating how out of breath I was getting, though, even from just a few minutes of exercises. I don't know if it's because of my weight or because my leg is still so weak and I have to concentrate so hard to move it still. But I pushed through and got everything done. I'll continue to do the same workouts using that railing in our hallway (with Jon spotting me for safety).

One thing I like about these therapists is that they're encouraging, but not pushy to the point that you want to kill them. I never went for the whole drill sergeant thing with teachers or conductors or coaches. I'm just too thin-skinned. But these guys gave me a lot of positive reinforcement and kicked my ass in the process.

All of this is making me wonder if I should work with a personal trainer in the future. My big concern with a trainer is that many don't know how to deal with obese clients. From the few times I've dealt with them and from what I've heard of other overweight people who've worked with them, they tend to underestimate or overestimate their clients' abilities. Back in my beloved gym, I tried out a trainer, but he was too scared to challenge me; I think he was afraid I'd get a heart attack while using the elliptical or something, so I got bored and ended up working out on my own. However, I've also heard many stories of trainers telling obese people to run or do things that can hurt their knees and backs. I'm all for being pushed, but there are safety concerns that come with obesity. I can't even watch The Biggest Loser because my knees hurt just watching these seriously overweight people run on treadmills with the trainers barking at them. Some people go for that, I guess, but I wish we'd see a show where they demonstrated realistic exercises for obese people to do. Maybe I can come up with such a show in the future when I'm in shape.

Anyway, I digress, but it feels good to be back on a regular exercise program, even if my movements are limited for now. It was nice to be told that I'm doing a great job with something physical. After months of being unable to do a lot of stuff, this was just what I needed.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Walking The Walk

Since my orthopedist advised me to "be aggressive" in regards to getting back on my feet I've been trying to follow that. And you know what? It seems to be working.

I still can't exactly walk yet and I have absolutely no balance in my bad leg, but I feel like I'm already building muscle -- even in just a day. Though I can't yet ambulate, I'm still trying to get a feel for actually being on my feet and came up with a little workout to do so that my leg can get used to supporting the weight. While gripping the stair railing in our building's hallway, I marched in place 60 times, then did 60 reps where I got up on my toes and lowered my heels (to strengthen the calves and loosen up the tight spot in my foot). I then did 60 "shuffles," where I took three side steps to the right, three to the left.

It felt pretty good to be on my feet again and even in a short time, I can feel a difference. When I tried to move yesterday, I was dragging my leg along as if it were dead; I felt as if I could barely lift it. But today, the movement felt a lot more natural, especially as my exercises went on. Even Jon noticed the improvement while he spotted me.

Of course, I still have a long way to go. As of now, I'm still not secure enough in my balance to even face forward and walk with a normal gait; I have to grip the banister and shuffle sideways. I also couldn't believe how out of breath I was after doing maybe 15 minutes of exercise. I don't know if I'm just that out of shape or if it was because I was concentrating so hard. Still, I felt as if I were accomplishing something and am looking forward to physical therapy tomorrow. Everyone I know who's had a broken leg tells me that you reach at least some level of normalcy fairly quickly, so it'll be nice to be able to walk again, even if I do have to use a walker. I'm hoping that if I do my own workout routines at home in addition to the PT that I can even get beyond that at a quicker speed. My friend, who also broke her ankle last fall, says that she's just starting to walk without a limp all of these months later. I'd like to think, though, that if I really push it, I can speed up the process.

It'll also be great to ditch the "moon boot," which is actually quite uncomfortable to wear while moving. My doctor wants me to transition into wearing sneakers, which will feel really weird after being in various casts all of this time. What's funny, though, is that the sneakers I have are still new. They're those fancy Sketchers sneakers that supposedly help tone your legs. I got them a week before I fell so I never really got to try them out. Maybe now I'll finally get to see if they work!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Get Up, Stand Up

Good news! My orthopedist says that my fracture looks to be healing much better than it was a few weeks ago and I can now walk again! Yay!

He suggested that I be "aggressive" because I don't quite have enough mobility in my heel and the back of my ankle/heel. The area is extremely stiff and I still can't quite flex my foot as far as it's supposed to go. That said, he gave me the go-ahead to add weights and time on the recumbant bike at my PT session on Saturday. Hopefully, they'll be able to help me get back full mobility in my heel so that I can walk normally again.

Meanwhile, I took a trial run at walking this afternoon. I use the term "walking" very loosely because it was more like shuffling while I gripped the rail of our building's staircase. I knew that my leg would feel weird -- I'd been warned by everyone I know who's broken a bone -- but I can't believe how WEAK it was. It felt as if I were standing on jelly and I had no balance. Jon had this idea that I'd be able to at least walk from one room to another, but I could barely lift my leg to even shuffle. I was very proud of the 20 steps or so that I did, just going back and forth and I gripped the rail.

I'm not too worried because I know that people generally improve pretty quickly in these cases. My mom says that when she first got the cast off of her arm, she couldn't do anything with that hand. But after a few weeks in PT, she was back to normal. As for me, I was barely able to rotate my ankle last week, but now I can easily do that. Now that I can work my leg again, I'll be able to regain my strength and balance. We're also going to get a recumbant bike for the home so I can also workout here.

While I was standing I tried to determine if I feel any lighter than a few weeks ago, but it was difficult to tell. I was really concentrating on not falling over! It's amazing how quickly you can build up muscle when you begin a workout. After a few sessions, things generally become easier, whether it be weight lifting, aerobics or running. On the other hand, our muscles also atrophy just as easily, it seems. I'm looking forward to having two legs to stand on again.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Larger Than Life

This weekend, my friend showed me a rather shocking news item: it was an interview with a woman named Donna Simpson from New Jersey who is striving to break the world record for "Fattest Woman." She is currently 600 pounds and aspires to weigh 1000 within the next two years. To make money, she runs a web site where people can watch her eating, and she has her husband and children's full approval. No, I am not kidding.

As disgusted as I am by this, though, I have to think: how much different from her am I really? Sure, I'm not exploiting myself nor am I going to such extremes to pack on the pounds, but I am aware of the damage I've done to my body. I've known all this time that I've been putting on the weight and I haven't successfully stopped it. So while we may gawk at this woman and exclaim, "But she's going to kill herself! What about her kids?" basically, I'm doing the same thing -- albeit in a more subtle manner.

I suppose I can understand her wanting to "own" her obesity, rather than being shunned by society. And I can definitely understand her wanting to just throw in the towel and eat what she wants after failing on one diet after another. What I don't get, however, is how she can want to so blatantly do something that I imagine will make her very uncomfortable. I already suffer from back and knee problems and I can't imagine what it would be like to have to deal with that, not to mention bed sores and the many other problems that accompany extreme morbid obesity.

I'm not sure if this woman's goal signifies sheer stubborness on her part -- a proverbial slap in the face to all of those obesity epidemic alarmists out there -- or if she is just trying to commit suicide. Guess I'll never know. But though I don't quite get this goal, I wish her good health and happiness ... and the deep hope that I continue to have LESS in common with someone who is destroying her body.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Small Changes

At this point, I'm still in a wheelchair and am still not sure if I'll be able to put weight on my leg on Thursday at my doctor's appointment. However, I've been doing my physical therapy and have noticed some small changes in regards to my weight.

For one thing, my husband says that I now appear to be more narrow from the back. He also says that I don't feel as heavy when he pushes me up the ramp from our building. Of course, it could just be that he's gotten stronger after pushing my wheelchair around for almost three months, but I'll take his word for it.

I am definitely not snoring as much, though. Before I would snore loudly enough that I would wake myself up, but Jon says that he hasn't really heard me snoring lately. I also haven't had a sleep apnea episode in a while. This weekend, we had a party and a friend slept over. I was so exhausted that while she was talking to me, I fell asleep in the bed, on my back, with my head rolled back. I usually wouldn't sleep this way because it's when I'm on my back that I have breathing episodes. But I didn't have one during my two-hour nap and my friend also reported that I wasn't snoring -- even in that awkward position.

Of course, with the party, I didn't eat as well as I should've. I had three drinks (for a light drinker like me, this is practically a binge) and had some leftover ziti and cake today. But I didn't go crazy, either. Our guests were like vultures so the food disappeared quickly -- and I was glad that we didn't have tons of stuff to get rid of (and for me to snack on). Tomorrow is another day and I will get back to my usual meals.

At the party, though, I really wasn't thinking of food at all. It was about being with my friends and laughing, and being grateful that I know such awesome people. I guess this is what life is about. Food is just one part of it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Let's Get Physical (Therapy)

Today was my first real day of physical therapy (as opposed to the last time, which was just a consulatation). It wasn't too bad, though the session lasted longer than I thought at 90 minutes. I didn't think that there would be much I could do since I'm still non-weight bearing, but the therapist, Abigail, really gave my foot a workout.

First, she had me put heat on it for 20 minutes and the massaged it for 10 (this was my favorite part). After, I had to move my foot in every way possible -- curl the toes, flex and point, rotate my ankle. None of these exercises hurt, but my foot felt very stiff and it was shaking a bit because it's still so weak. She then had me do some movements where I actually put my foot on the floor (while sitting) and THAT felt strange. She had me rest my toes on the floor while I did calf raises with my heel and then rest my heel on the floor while I raised my toes. The calf raises hurt! I wasn't in agony or anything, but my muscles were quite sore. This makes me even more nervous about what it will feel like when I actually stand on my foot again, but the therapist told me if I do these exercises twice a day, I'll build up my muscles and the swelling will go down. I sure as hell hope so. I'm not intending to half-ass anything, though. I'll do these exercises daily.

I also picked up a mini ultrasound machine that's supposed to help my fracture heal. I haven't used it yet so I don't know what it'll feel like, but I have to keep it on my leg for 20 minutes a day, as well. So between this and the therapy, a good chunk of my day is filled.

I'm grateful that I've had my parents to drive me around to these various appointments. I was afraid that we'd kill each other, because we tend to argue when we spend a lot of time together -- especially when I'm alone and without my husband -- but so far (knock on wood, knock on wood), it's been okay. They still annoy me; for instance, my dad refused to listen when I told him to back the wheelchair out at a certain point because this is how Jon does it ... and sure enough the chair got stuck. And he still keeps asking me questions about my medical history (have you seen this type of doctor? Why are you listed as being pre-diabetic -- what does that mean?) whenever my mom goes out for a cigarette (yeah, I get the irony, too). But I'm trying to keep my cool and not flip out at him, even though I wish he wouldn't ask me this stuff.

We actually had a very civil conversation today about my weight. He said that he saw an interview with Al Roker who'd shared that even though he'd gotten a gastric bypass, he'd gained weight back -- and that no matter how thin he got, he'd always be a fat person inside, kind of like an alcoholic always is an alcoholic, even if he's sober. I explained that yes, this is exactly how it is for me -- that I want to be thin and have succeeded before but it's just been so difficult for me to stay on track. That even though I know what to eat, that I'm often overtaken by a compulsion to binge, and that I have to think about every bite I eat. I also revealed that I've been speaking with a therapist about my eating disorder and my dad was happy to hear that. I think maybe he's beginning to understand how complex obesity and how me being fat doesn't mean that I'm lazy or "misbehaving" because I ate "bad" food. I think that maybe Roker's interview hit a nerve or something and he saw how even someone who went to great extremes to lose weight has had a difficult time fighting his food addiction.

This conversation was important to me because I feel as if my weight has created a barrier between my parents and me. When I began to gain in college, it understandably frustrated them, but I don't think they handled it well. They'd lecture me as if I were a naughty child, attempted to use negative reinforcement ("You'll never get a boyfriend, job, etc.") and actually threatened to take me out of school if I didn't lose. Then when I did lose a little, they'd remind me that I had more to go. When I was a bridesmaid in my friend's wedding, I looked GREAT and a lot of people complimented me -- but then my mom replied, "She still has to lose some more."

I get that they were concerned, but I wished that they'd taken a different approach. I don't think that they meant to make me feel badly about myself, but they did. Not only was I upset about gaining the weight, but now I was disappointing them, as well. That's what really got to me, that I let them down so much. The thing is, I TRIED to lose the weight, as I am now. But they didn't seem to understand that or understand how hard it was for me.

Eventually the pressure got to me and I just stopped coming home during holidays whenever it was possible for me to find another place to stay. During our long spring break, I went home with my now sister-in-law and spent Passover with my now in-laws (on a sidenote, this is how I got to know my husband). And during Thanksgiving of senior year, I chose to spend the weekend in our house by myself rather than come home. I lied that I had to do a shift at the newspaper where I was working at the time, but I just didn't feel like dealing with them. So while everyone else was enjoying Thanksgiving with their families, I was all by myself for four days. It sucked. But it was better than going home and getting in an argument.

These days, I have a decent relationship with my folks, but we don't see each other much. They travel often and I've made a point to only see them when Jon is with me to act as a buffer. I would like to be closer, though. I think that they could handle things better, but then again, I probably can, too.

Now that I'm older, I can see their side of things a little better. I'm not sure what I'd do if I had a daughter and she became obese as an adult. I don't know what I'd say or how I could help her without hurting her feelings. I guess I can see how it would be a tough thing to deal with. I don't think that my parents are bad people at all, but they (unintentionally) made ME feel like a bad person.

I think that there are too many bad memories tied in with my parents and my weight for me to ever fully let them in on my weight loss struggles; as of now, they don't know that I spent some time bingeing and purging. But if I can let them in at least a little, maybe we can find some peace.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

That Loving Feelin'

A friend recently pointed out to me that I'm much more open in this blog than I am in real life. I suppose that's true. I do have a difficult time opening myself up to people, though I'm getting better at that.

Back in high school, I was so shy around guys I liked that I wouldn't speak to them unless they said something to me first. Great strategy, huh? I guess they could sense how uncomfortable I was in my own skin because I wasn't very good at flirting at none of the boys I liked ever liked me back. This definitely took a toll on me emotionally. What initially kicked off my starvation dietback then was that I was hoping to impress a boy whom I'd had a crush on for a long time. He was a total jerk and we had nothing in common, but well, I was 16 and clueless. When we were at a mutual friend's party, we were playing truth or dare and he had to name which girl in the room he thought was the most attractive. He picked this cute, pixie-ish girl who was extremely slender. I was so desperate to get him to like me that I figured that I just had to lose some weight.

The thing is, when I began this diet I wasn't even close to being chubby, let alone fat. I was 5'2" and weighed 115 pounds, which is right in my ideal weight range. My goal at the time was to lose five pounds, but I ended up losing almost 25. Thankfully, I managed to reel myself in before I became completely skeletal.

Looking back, there were other factors that contributed to me crossing into anorexia: I was in an extremely competitive academic program at school, so I was stressed out with work and exams. My music class had also become incredibly stressful because our conductor insisted on pitting all of the flute players against each other. What should've been a fun class was instead agonizing. Meanwhile, family was dealing with several crises at once, including my grandmother getting injured an uncle dying, so there was also a lot of stress at home. And then I had to deal with the typical teen stuff like friends and dating and hormones.

No wonder why I began starving myself -- this was totally about gaining control when everything else in my life seemed to be spiraling. Even though I managed to overcome that, however, I still didn't feel comfortable in my body and started bingeing and purging instead.

But my issues didn't disappear simply because I was able to wear the "perfect" size. I still didn't know what the hell I was doing when it came to guys and continued to be clueless when I got to college. There, I fell for two men, neither who reciprocated my feelings. Meanwhile, it seemed as it my roommates, especially my now sister-in-law, could get any man they wanted. I was heartbroken and felt so disgusting. As I listened to my housemates giggle with their boyfriends in their bedrooms, I comforted myself by dishing out huge portions of lasagna.

As I continue my weight loss journey and try to figure out WHY I'm morbidly obese, more and more of these memories are jumping out at me. I suppose that there are a million things that triggered my eating disorder in its various forms, but I definitely think that my ability (or lack thereof) to relate to people is a huge factor. Happily, I met my husband and we have a really good relationship, but I still have a lot of work to do. Like I said, I've gotten better at relating to people and am lucky to have the close friends that I do, but in general, I'm not very demonstrative. I'll hug my friends and family members, but it's usually kind of perfunctory and done as a greeting because it's expected. I rarely hug people (other than my husband) spontaneously.

I'm also not that comfortable saying, "I love you" to friends. I think it's because I take those words so seriously. I've actually only had three men (other than my dad or family members) tell me that they love me ... and two of them were gay. Since my only serious romantic relationship has been with my husband, I've come to truly value love and see it as something sacred. Some people can walk around easily saying that they love everyone -- and there's nothing wrong with that -- but I've always been very reserved about that sort of thing.

I'm beginning to wonder, though, if I need to relax about love and let more people in. Is that what my fat is -- a layer between myself and others? I've been hurt A LOT by people in the past, friends and family and unrequited romantic interests alike, but I now have a core group of people in my life who've proven to me that they can be trusted. Maybe it's about time I let down my guard and be the loving person I know I can be.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Foot Notes

Since I have good news, I figured I'd give my post a nice punny title -- foot notes, geddit? Ha ha.

Anyway, my foot is well, actually starting to look normal -- less like a chicken fetus and more like a regular body part. It's still swollen and a bit bruised, but it's no longer shriveled and the skin is returning to its normal hue. When I look at it, I no longer cringe in horror at its disgusting appearance.

Even better, it's getting easier to move it. The physical therapist gave me some very simple exercises to do each day: basically, I spend a few minutes moving the foot back and forth and then side to side. I've been able to move it back and forth for a while, but it hurts less when I do that. And I can finally move it side to side! The therapist had warned that I might not ever be able to fully move it in that direction, but I can move it side to side and rotate it at the ankle, which I think is better than he'd expected me to be able to do. It's very stiff and I have to concentrate hard when I do it, but it's possible. I was even able to keep it in time with my other foot when I was moving both side to side simultaneously in a rhythm.

I'm hoping and praying that this means that the fracture is finally healing and I'll be up on my feet again. I'm still nervous about what that's going to feel like, but let me tell you, I'm way more confident about standing for the first time on a normal-looking foot than that withered THING I saw at the orthopedist's office last week. I feel that while I may be sore that this foot will at least be able to support me.

I'm wondering how long it'll be, though, before I can walk without worrying that I'll break my bone again. We went out to dinner tonight at a restaurant that's across the street from where I fell and I cringed as I saw the spot. I'm guessing that I'll feel dread whenever I pass it for a long time to come. But will I be able to do the things I enjoy, like hiking or dancing, in the near future? I hope so.

I was telling a friend recently that I hope that I'll be able to run again. He wondered why when I never really ran in the first place. But it's the idea that I CAN if I want to. I don't want my possibilities taken away. And who knows, maybe if I get into good enough shape, I'll like running. I ran for a short period during the summer between 8th and 9th grade and I really enjoyed it. I'd get up early -- around 5 a.m. when it was still cool out -- and jog about two miles around my neighborhood. I loved how quiet and still it was at that hour and how I'd always be awake when the sun first came up. Unfortunately, I stopped when school started and I was overwhelmed with homework and other activities. But I've never forgotten how peaceful it felt to do those runs. Maybe I want that back. I don't miss much about my teen years, but I do miss that feeling of being slender and light enough on my feet that I could run for an extended period of time. I was never athletic and disliked gym, but I enjoyed running when there weren't gym teachers screaming at me to go faster.

For now, though, I'll take a reasonably decent-looking foot. I've been fighting for it these past few months and it's nice to see that it finally seems to be fighting back.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Getting A Little Personal

I was speaking with a friend earlier tonight and pointed out to him that whiile he faithfully reads my blog, there are still some personal things that I don't know about him. Then it occured to me that as much as I'm getting into my weight loss (and broken leg) saga here on this blog, that many of my readers still probably don't know the basics about me. So here are some fun facts about Mrs. Thighs (sorry, I'm remaining anonymous).

1. I'm technically Jewish, but don't really practice anything having to do with the religion.

2. My favorite color is blue, though my favorite shades are turquoise and aquamarine. I love any blue that reminds me of the ocean and sky.

3. I play flute and a little piano. In college, I also played saxophone and clarinet.

4. I hate fish and seafood. I also hate mayonnaise.

5. I have really strange taste in movies. I hated The Godfather, which is supposed to be this epic film, but I love the original Bring It On with Kirsten Dunst. I also love Muriel's Wedding, Stand By Me and adore mockumentaries. Drop Dead Gorgeous and Waiting For Guffman are classic.

6. I have eclectic musical taste. I like classical and 80s pop, but also enjoy disco, rap and dance music. I used to hate country, but it's starting to grow on me. But I'm not a big fan of ballads and schmaltzy music -- I need a good beat.

7. I don't read nearly as much as I should. I read a lot of teen novels because I tried to have my own teen book published a few years ago. I also like Stephen King and Haruki Murakami's books, as well as John Irving's.

8. I don't keep up with politics as much as I should. Most of what I know is because my husband fills me in. Terrible, I know. But to be fair, I help him out with pop culture, so I guess we're even.

9. I consider myself to be liberal when it comes to my beliefs, but I like to see both sides of an issue. I try to, anyway, though I can get pretty heated if someone is against something I stand for.

10. I have an annoying habit where I "cutesify" anything I find adorable, like animals. I mainly do this to annoy my husband (cuz it's fun!) but if we pass a field of cows, I'll be like, "Look, cowies!" or horses, "Horsies!" or sheep, "Baa baas!" Note that I do NOT speak like this in my every day conversation, but I do it to be (sort of) funny.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hello, Captain Obvious!

So today was my first day of physical therapy. I didn't do much -- mainly showed the therapist my foot and he tested my range of motion. He was pleased to see that I can move it up and down, but says I might not ever be able to fully move it from side to side. Still, he assured me that I'd be walking again and will eventually have my life back.

Of course, my weight came up. Upon seeing it listed on my chart he remarked, "You do know that you need to lose weight, don't you?" Well, duh, yes, of course, I know! I get that he was trying to give me some friendly therapist/patient advice and he WAS a nice guy -- I liked him a lot and hope that he's my main therapist -- but let me tell you a little secret: fat people know that they need to lose weight. TRUST ME. We might not be able to accomplish this, for whatever reasons, be it lack of will power or emotional problems, etc., but we know that we're fat. Pointing it out to us isn't going to help us -- it just makes us think, "No, shit, Sherlock." Guess what? My leg is broken, too, but I didn't need anyone to point THAT out to me!

Just to clarify, I'm not in some sort of denial mode here; I don't expect the doctor or therapist to ignore my problem. But I guess I'd rather he or she just handle it more constructively, i.e., "Losing weight will help you when you begin walking again." I'm open to discussing my weight issues with any medical personnel, but I don't want to be treated like a dummy, either. Believe me, I've been trying to lose weight for years; hopefully, this blog is shedding some light on how complex a weight loss journey is.

Ultimately, we did get to talking in a more productive manner and he was impressed when I told him that I've been lifting weights. He encouraged me to continue and also gave me a few exercises to do with my foot. I asked if I can use a recumbant bicycle, but he said I can't since I'd be putting too much pressure on my foot. He seemed to think it was a positive sign that it didn't hurt when he poked at my leg. I'm just anxious to get going. My first real appointment is on Tuesday morning, so we'll see how it goes. Meantime, I'm going to follow the therapist's instructions and do my weight lifting and leg exercises each day.

All in all, it was a positive experience ... so far. Everyone who's had PT keeps warning me that it's going to get tough at points, so I can't say that I'm looking forward to that. It'll be worth it, though, if the exercise does help me lose some more weight in the longterm.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Seeing A Difference?

This weekend, I went out to dinner with a bunch of people and my best guy friend noted that he could see that I've lost weight. He's absolutely not the type to coddle me and give me a compliment simply as a means of making me feel good, so I know that he was sincere when he said this.

I'm not sure that I can see a difference myself, especially since these days I'm unable to stand in front of a full-length mirror. But I have to say that I do feel pretty good, broken leg aside. I don't know if it's because I've been away from my job, but I feel less stressed out and more energized. I also haven't had a sleep apnea episode in a long time. I even fell asleep on my back a couple of days ago and was okay, whereas a few months ago, I would've had breathing problems.

Of course, I'm still obese and have a long way to go before I'm remotely in the range of "normal." It's frustrating to not be able to do things, though I begin physical therapy this week, so that will be a start. Still, getting told that my weight loss is noticeable is very encouraging and means that I'm at least doing something right. So for now, I guess, I will continue following my "broken leg plan" of lifting weights, eating well and eating in moderation. Meantime, I now have an extra three weeks to lose some more pounds before I start walking, so maybe having to be off of my feet still is, in a way, a blessing in disguise.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Good News, Bad News

First the good news: my hard cast was removed today and I am now sporting an Air Cast, which looks a bit like a Storm Trooper boot. I'm also beginning physical therapy next week so that I can start regaining stength in my bad leg. My doctor says that it's healing well.

Unfortunately, it hasn't healed enough for me to start walking on it. The bone is still fractured, so I have to wait another three weeks. Damn.

This news, of course, messes up a lot of my plans. I'm going to need more time off from work, which I'm sure my boss will LOVE, and it means more work for Jon, who's been taking such good care of me. It also means three more weeks until I can stand on the scale again. So for any readers who've been keeping up with my "countdown," I'm afraid, it's kind of anticlimactic. Guess you'll have to tune in for Countdown, Part 2: Electric Boogaloo.

Meantime, I'll continue lifting weights, plus I'll now be getting my workouts at physical therapy. Not sure what they'll be able to have me do since I can't stand up -- I guess they'll have me stretch the foot or perhaps someone will manipulate it. My doctor is also having someone come by my place with this ultrasound machine that stimulates the bone growth. How high tech -- and weird! I wish they made something like that to destimulate fat. It would be sort of like liposuction, only instead of sucking out fat, you'd vibrate it and it would melt. If only...

At this point, I'm wondering if I ever really wil walk again, but since my leg IS improving, I guess I have to believe it. Still, I was feeling a little sad as I looked over some pics from the New Zealand trip that we took a few years ago. I was in decent shape at the time and was able to do quite a bit of hiking -- more than I'd anticipated. I hope that I'll be able to have another trip like that, if not in NZ than somewhere else.

My emotions have been all over the place during this journey. Some days, I'm fine and even happy and then there are days like today, where I'm a bit frustrated. All I want is to be healthy again -- in regards to my weight, my leg and my mental well-being.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Two-Month Mark

Today marks my two-month "anniversary" of my broken leg. Um, yay? This has definitely been one of the more surreal periods in my life, where I've been forced to sit back and actually slow down for a change.

Now that I think about it, this is the longest that I've been away from work since around December, 1996. That's when I had my last big college winter break. I then worked full-time the next summer, went to grad school and then began working at my current job almost immediately after I graduated. Since then, I've had many vacation, but the longest ones have been only two-weeks long. Going for 14 years without a substantial break is a looong time, though I imagine this is how it is for most of us.

That's not to say that I've been unproductive during this time off. Quite the opposite, in fact, only because I've been forcing myself to do more than just lie around all day. I've definitely gotten a lot of writing done, especially on this weight-loss blog! I've enjoyed being able to concentrate on my own writing goals without having to deal with the stress of work. I really like being able to write what I want.

But since my job will soon be in the picture again, I have to start thinking about how my weight loss plan will work into it. Obviously, I can't blame my job for making me fat, but I do think that MY habits at the job have contributed to my obesity. Having had a position where I've been sitting and stressed all day has prompted me to have some terrible eating habits over the years and I need to change that. Yes, I've always suffered from weight problems (eating disorders and otherwise), but I don't think that it's a coincidence that I became legitimately fat once I began working. It's easy to ask, "Why'd you do that?" or "Why didn't you just eat healthy foods?" but if I had a definite answer, I wouldn't be where I am today.

I feel a little embarrassed as I recall all of the food mistakes I've made over the years at work. It all started when I began as an intern in 1997 and had to do a lot of boring and thankless tasks like transcribing hours of tapes. I started bringing little bags of candy with me in order to make things less dull and those little bags turned to big bags. Then I started going across the street to the salad bar, but would never actually get salad and would get mac and cheese instead. Then I'd start sneaking extra pieces of the cakes that people would bring in for office birthdays. When I had a stressful day, I'd stop by the bakery on the way home and get a large cookie. And so on and so on.

I sometimes wish I could go back in time and stop my 20something self from doing all of these things. Hell, I sometimes wish that I could bitchslap my self from last week. But when I truly take stock of how I've eaten for the past 13 years, I realize the scope of the damage that I've done to my body. It's frightening.

As of now, I intend to return to my job when I'm able because it's the clearest thing in my future. But I'm still considering becoming a fulltime freelancer. I've been working overtime on my online writing projects and am actually seeing some results pay off -- literally! And while I do have some doubts about working from home (like being lonely), I do think it will be a different experience when I can walk again. I see myself writing for a few hours in the morning, then taking a long walk outside, then writing some more in the evening. It would be a lot of work, but I've met so many people who make a living on the Internet. And I've done pretty well for someone who mainly does online writing as a hobby.

I'm going to keep on writing then as I count down the days until Old Castie comes off (two if you're keeping track). I then have the not-so-fun task of standing on the scale so I can see what I weight. Trust me, I am NOT looking forward to this, but who knows? Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised this time around.