Saturday, July 31, 2010

Next To Normal

We just got back from seeing Inception (a great movie, by the way) and had a fun evening. But what was really nice is that my outdoor walking has gotten so much better, even in just a few days.

Over the past few weeks, I'd have to stop at least once just to get from our apartment to the sidewalk at the end of the courtyard in front of our building. But tonight, I made it all the way without stopping. Then when we got to the neighborhood where the movie theater is, I managed to do a lot of walking, only stopping twice the entire night. The only time when things got really tough were when we were walking along a stretch of sidewalk that was at an odd angle. Since I'm still limping a bit, I really felt it!

I've been using the walker outside for extra security, but tonight, I asked Jon to hold it for me and then walked a stretch of sidewalk without it. It actually wasn't too bad, even though my balance isn't 100 percent yet. But where I really noticed a big difference is when I was walking up and down stairs. Before, I'd have to grip the banister with both hands and then carefully place one foot down and then slowly place the other. Tonight, however, I only needed to grip the rail with one hand and was able to go up the steps one foot at a time like you're supposed to.

I did well with my eating today, too. For dinner, we went to our favorite Southwestern place and I had veggie fajitas made with broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, peppers and onions. So good! I had enough points left over in the day for dessert so we got a box of M&Ms to share in the movies. I only had one serving, though, and put the rest away. The movie was so exciting that I didn't even really feel the need to munch during it. I really don't want to have to give up chocolate, so I was proud of myself for being able to eat some candy and save the rest for later.

All in all, it was a good day, and a nice way to spend my last weekend before I return to work full time. I'm feeling better about doing the commute, now that my walking has improved so much. Jon says that my limp is a lot less pronounced, too. He believes that I'm having less back pain and more success walking because I'm getting stronger, but I think a lot of it has to do with my weight loss, too. Then again, it's probably a combination of both. I don't really care, as long as I continue to feel better and my world continues to get bigger.

Future Shock

When I was at PT this morning, a new patient came in around the same time that I arrived. She was a little larger than me in size and was recovering from a broken femur. As I was when I first started going to PT, she was in a wheelchair.

While I was waiting for my session, the doctor met with her, and because they were talking in the next room, I couldn't help overhearing their conversation (not that I was intentionally trying to eavesdrop). But I learned that this woman is 68 and suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure. The doctor was very insistent that she get to the point where she can walk again, but she wasn't eager to do the training; she just wanted to stay in her wheelchair and have hot packs put on her leg.

Seeing this unwell, older woman hammered home for me what MY future could be like if I don't continue to exercise and lose weight. I mean, she's about my parents' age, but my parents are, for the most part, youthful and healthy (knock on wood) and are still able to travel around the world. I joke with them about being old, but I don't really think of them in that way because they're so active. This woman, on the other hand, was OLD. I actually thought she was in her late 80s; even without the broken leg, it didn't seem like she was in any great shape.

That said, I really powered through my exercises today. I'm having a lot less back pain (that new bra is definitely helping!) and only took breaks because I was told to, not because my back was killing me. The therapist was really impressed, especially when I told him about my journey to the corner restaurant the other day -- and when I was walking from one room to the other, he told me to slow down. I actually wanted to do more and asked if I could ride the bike or do the stair climber for a few minutes, but he said that I'd still have to wait a few sessions. They're very conservative about letting me push ahead, but I understand that they want to make sure that their patients don't hurt themselves.

Still, I'm feeling good after my workout. I thought I'd hate going on Saturday mornings, and I do when I first wake up because I'm tired. But then once I begin exercising, I start to enjoy it.

Starting Monday, I'll have to do PT and my full-time job, with the commute. This ought to be interesting! Yet I'm kind of glad I still have PT because it'll force me work out several times a week as I adjust to my new schedule. Once PT is over, I don't know if I'll continue to get up early to exercise, but I'd like the workouts themselves to become a habit. I need to start training for the half marathon, so I'll put together a walking schedule when I'm actually able to conquer distances.

I hope that when I'm 68, I'm not in that woman's position, where I'm still obese and sick, to boot. I still have a lot of life ahead of me and I plan to live the rest of it a little better.

Friday, July 30, 2010

New Clothes, New Me?

In honor of my return to work on Monday, I purchased three new outfits. I love shopping online because it's fun and so convenient -- especially when you're recovering from a broken leg -- and I love when my items arrive, all neatly arranged in a big, brown box. It's like getting a present! (even if I did pick out everything myself).

Tonight my order arrived and I got to put on a mini fashion show for Jon. My outfit of choice for summer is a cute T-shirt and flowy skirt, so I got a lavender shirt with a purple floral skirt; a white T-shirt with a beaded design to go with a blue paisley skirt and a black studded T-shirt to go with a soft denim skirt. They all looked really nice, or well, as nice as any items of clothing can look on me. I can never ask, "Does this make me look fat?" because everything does; there's no hiding it. But these outfits at least fit well and look good on me, even if they can't hide my girth. Jon especially liked the lavender outfit, so I think that's the one that I'll wear to work on Monday and will then wear again to my friend Scott's party next weekend.

As I wrote in my earlier post, there aren't that many plus-sized vendors, but these days, most make decent-looking fashionable stuff. My store of choice is Catherine's ( because their stuff is well-made and trendy, but classic. I like Lane Bryant (if you go to that site, you'll see links for Catherine's, Lane Bryant and Fashion Bug), but a lot of their clothing is a little TOO trendy. They'll sell belly shirts or tight skirts or snug T-shirts and while that might be "in," that stuff just doesn't look good on me. I prefer simple T-shirts and stylish skirts that don't look too young or old, and can work in business and casual settings. Catherine's stuff is perfect for me in that regard. Plus, their cuts just fit me well, which is important since I'm short and fat and have a big rack. I've gotten a lot of compliments on my outfits from this store, so I feel confident when I wear their things.

I can't wait until I can wear nice clothing that makes me feel good AND shows off my trim figure. But for now, I'll take stuff that makes me look the best I possibly can, even if my body isn't where I want it to be.

What Dreams May Come

When it comes to weight loss, a lot of people have this idea that they will be happy if they only lose X amount of pounds. Being thin will finally give them a chance to find love, wealth, power, the secret to life.

Having already been thin for a good portion of my life, I know that this won't be the case when I lose the weight; I'll still be basically the same person who I am now, and may even have some different problems. But when you're slimmer, you do have some more freedom, at least when dealing with the movement of your body. That said, I have a list of some things that I'm really looking forward to doing when I'm a smaller size.

1. Shop in regular stores. I'm fortunate because we live in an era where it's easy to find fashionable plus-sized clothing, but I'd love to have a larger choice of places to shop. I used to love shopping and always feel a opang whenever I see a dress I like in a window -- and know that it wouldn't even fit on my thigh. I can't wait until I can wear whatever I want and can finally purchase some really stylish stuff.

2. Go scuba diving. I've always wanted to try this, but am embarrassed at the idea of having to squeeze into one of those tight wet suits with my huge belly sticking out. A couple of years ago, we went to see manatees swimming in Florida and I couldn't swim with them because the wet suit wouldn't fit (and the water was freezing, so we needed them). Jon got to be in the water with them and I missed out. Come to think of it, I'd love to return to that spot and swim with manatees, too.

3. Scale a glacier. When we were in New Zealand, I wanted to climb a glacier, but even though I was in decent shape at the time, I was still very overweight and the guide didn't think I was up to doing it. I'd love to be fit enough to try this, either in NZ or somewhere else.

4. Eat a Japanese meal in the traditional style. This would mean sitting on floor mats, which I can't do right now because of my back and circulation problems. Actually, I'd love to be able to sit on the ground for an extended time, period. Then I can enjoy picnics and beach visits and not have to worry about finding a chair or bench.

5. Feel comfortable with going nude in public. No, I'm not planning to be a streaker or anything, but I wish I could feel comfortable enough to enjoy some of the naked treatments at the spa. We have a really nice spa near us and I wanted to try one of the hot tubs, but you had to be nude in order to enter this particular one. I skipped it, but felt a twinge of envy for those women who were comfortable enough to shed their T-shirts and shorts and jump into the water. I'd love to get to that point.

6. Go on a zipline tour. I'm not a thrill junkie, but these always seemed like they could be fun ... that is, if you're not afraid of the cable breaking from your weight.

7. Go parasailing. Same deal. Seems like fun if you're not so heavy that you break the apparatus.

8. Go caving and tubing. Again, when we were in NZ, you could take this cool tour where you ride tubes through caves and then scale the cave walls. It sounded so fascinating, but I just wasn't in shape for this sort of adventure.

Truthfully, I don't know how many of these things I'd really do if I were thin because I am kind of a fraidy cat about roller coasters and sky diving and basically anything where I could potentially get hurt. But I like the idea of having OPTIONS, which you just don't have as many of when you're overweight. I have done a lot of interesting things like travel and play with a band at a club, but I'd love to have the opportunity to do even more interesting stuff and really live. There have been so many times when we've been on a trip and Jon has done something cool that I've missed out on because of my weight or lack of physical fitness. Now that I've been off my feet for a few months, I want to get that back more than ever -- and not waste any more time watching everyone else have the fun.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Good News!

I jusr returned from seeing the head doctor at the physical therapy place and he gave me a glowing report! He admitted that he'd had concerns about my recovery since I'm overweight and my bone was taking so long to heal, but said that I've ended up being one of the quicker recoveries he's seen --and that I should be finished with PT in 3-6 weeks. Woo hoo!

I told him that I've been working really hard and he said that that's obvious, as is the fact that I've lost some weight. Overall, he was really impressed, which was nice. He was expecting my recovery to last about six months and was very happy for me that it's only going to take about two.

I mentioned my plan to walk a half marathon next May, in honor of my friend's sister, and he thought that this is a great idea. He said that I should increase my walking distance slowly, but that given how well I'm progressing, this should be perfectly doable by then.

Next week, I'm seeing my orthopedist and I'm anticipating -- knock on wood -- a good report from him, too. I'm a little nervous about what story the X-ray will tell, but since I'm not feeling any severe pain, I'm optimistic that my bone has healed like it's supposed to.

Still, I'm very excited to have gotten a nice report from a doctor, which doesn't happen for me often. My weight almost always comes up as an issue and I'm a wimpy patient, to boot. I don't see doctors as often as I should because it's often a frightening and embarrassing situation for me. I know that this is something that a lot of overweight patients deal with and I'm trying to slowly get over that fear. I'm already planning to see an endocrinologist this fall when I'm a lot more mobile.

That said, it felt good to be doing something RIGHT with my body for a change. It's kind of like a C student finally getting that A in a class, LOL. The doctor said that maybe this could be a wakeup call for me to continue watching my weight so that my joints and overall health will stay in decent condition. I think he's right. I'm feeling a lot more optimistic about getting back in shape than I have in a really long time.

For Girls Only

I got some new bras yesterday ... and my "girls" are very happy right now! I've always been well-endowed, even when I was skinny, and let's just say that right now, my breasts are real -- and they're spectacular. But I have a bad habit of wearing ill-fitting bras, which is a big no-no when you're as a big as I am. It can be hard to find bigger bras, though, and I'll admit, it can sometimes be embarrassing when you're walking around carrying this huge piece of underwear that could couble as a pup tent.

But I found some great plus-sized bras online by Just My Size (and no, I'm not a shill for the company; I just like their stuff) and I'm feeling nice and supported today. Come to think of it, my back is feeling a bit better also. I don't know if it's the new bra or the weight loss, or both, but I'm going to make it a point to get better-fitting undergarments from now on.

In other news, I've been reading a lot of other weight loss blogs and watching weight loss videos online lately to find some inspiration. Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who've posted weight loss video diaries up on YouTube. I give these brave souls a lot of credit for just putting themselves out there because I don't think I could do that, at least not yet, anyway. It took me a long time to even get the guts to start writing this thing.

Anyway, while many of the blogs did indeed boast success stories, one caught my attention because it was more of an anti-success story. This person kept a blog for years and while the weight went up and down, it mostly went up -- way up, in fact -- and yet this person kept blogging and trying, blogging and trying for a long time. This person hasn't posted in a while, so I'm not sure what the update is, but I give a lot of credit for the effort and honesty, and wish continued success. But this is yet another example of how complex obesity is and how it goes beyond someone simply overeating. Clearly this blogger was determined to lose weight somehow and because there was some success, knew what to eat and how to exercise. However, for various reasons, mainly emotional, the food addiction just kept returning.

It's tough and for people who don't have an eating disorder, very difficult to understand. But I think stories like this are more the norm than the exception. Think of how many celebrities have gotten gastric bypass surgery, like Carnie Wilson or Al Roker, only to gain the weight back. I mean, these are people who CHOSE to have something drastic done to their bodies ... and yet it still didn't work.

People are wringing their hands over the "obesity epidemic" and trying to come up with "solutions" for our poor eating habits. While this is certainly important to look at, I wish that more attention were paid to the psychological needs of the obese. I think that at least part of the reason why we're seeing more obesity -- as well as anorexia and bulimia -- is because we just live in a more complicated society than say, a hundred years ago. We have more choices, more technology, more expected of us. That can really mess with one's head.

I know that many wish for an "obesity pill" that would just zap the fat off of overweight people. But as I continue to lose weight, I'm realizing that -- cheesy as it sounds -- working on my inner self has become as important as working on how I look from the outside.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Long Journey

I took my longest walk to date tonight; my friend Karen and I went to the restaurant that's around the corner from my building and I successfully walked there and back! I had to stop a lot of times and what's usually a five-minute walk took about 15 minutes, but that's okay; I'm slowly building up distances. That particular corner also happens to be my bus stop, so now I know that I can make it there for my commute.

Surprisingly, I found it much more difficult to go downhill than uphill. On the way there, I only had to stop three times and I felt good by the time we reached the restaurant. But on the way home, I had to stop five times, was sweating and my ankle hurt. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's because I'd already walked a "long" distance and my body was catching up. Karen mused that it took more work for me to walk downhill because I had less control and had to keep myself from tumbling. That makes sense.

My eating is still going really well. I ate a small lunch today so I could enjoy dinner out and had a nice meal of roasted pork with steamed veggies, black beans and rice. We also split a plate of fried yucca, but between the two of us, we didn't even cover a third of it. I'm discovering that when I have many components to a meal, I tend to eat less of each component. So I filled up on the pork, veggies and beans and then I had less of a craving for the fried stuff.

Karen says that each time she sees me (and we see each other about once a week), that it looks as if I've lost more weight. That's really encouraging to hear, especially since I've been working so hard at it these past few weeks. It's definitely helped me with my walking, as I'm now at least semi-functional.

It's going to be tough when I return to work next week, though, and I'm trying to figure out a food strategy. My problem with my office is that I'm surrounded my temptation. There are take-out places all around my building, a vending machine down the hall and people are always bringing in treats. That said, I think my best bet is to bring some breakfast, lunch and snacks and just continue with the same meals that I've been eating: rolls, low-fat cream cheese, mozzarella, fruit. This way, I'll be set for the day and won't be tempted to order in pizza or something.

I'm definitely not worried about having to sit around all day, though, because just commuting to my job and walking around the office is going to be a strenuous workout for me! It's kind of funny how I used to be able to do 90 minutes on the elliptical not even two years ago, but now a tough workout for me is walking up the block! I think that's why the weight is coming off fairly easily at the moment; now that I'm being so active after months of being immobile, my body is in shock. I'm taking advantage of it while it lasts, because pretty soon, my walk to work will be an afterthought and I'll have to up my game again.

I know that I'm going to have to bite the bullet soon and actually weigh myself. But for now, I'm happy to see my body changing for the better and just want to enjoy feeling independent again.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Big Steps

I made my second journey by myself today when I went to PT. However, this time, I found it so much easier to get downstairs on my own. After being so sore last week, I was concerned about what this would mean for my walking, but I felt good today. My leg feels stronger and my back is hurting less.

I confess, last night, I had a bit of a slip-up. My husband brought home a bag of soft-baked chocolate chip cookies -- which I loved -- and I ended up eating three before asking him to take the bag away. But it could've been worse. I LOVE cookies and they're one of my worst trigger foods, I guess, because they're so compact and you can't just eat one. I can deal with frozen yogurt or even cake being in the house, but if there are cookies, I'll eat an entire box in one setting. I'm going to let Jon know that we just can't keep those in the house. I've gotten better as mastering this whole idea of "everything in moderation," but when it comes to me and cookies, I almost always end up bingeing. The fact that I stopped myself from doing so yesterday is a big deal.

The good news is, I had a good session at PT today. After Saturday's sucky session, I was determined to kick some butt and felt like I did. I blew right through my standing leg exercises, which are getting pretty easy for me now. I used to have to rest in between exercising the right leg and the left, but now I can do 30 reps on each side without taking a break. I was all set to do step-ups and stretches, too, but they were being kind of cautious with me since my foot swelled up so much the other day. Still, I easily got up the steps in my building this morning, so I guess that counts for step-ups and I did some stretches on my own. I wish they'd challenge me a little more, but I understand that they have to be careful with patients and I can always challenge myself. I'm actually in the mood to do the BowFlex today, so I'll do that later this evening before dinner.

I'm glad that my leg is feeling stronger, but I'm really happy that my back is feeling better. It still hurts if I stand for too long, but I'm able to stand for longer periods of time now. I definitely think it's because I've lost a little weight. Granted, I'm still obese and have about eight chins, but even I can see the weight loss at this point. When I was looking in the mirror at PT this morning, I noticed that my stomach doesn't stick out nearly as much as it did a couple of weeks ago. Yeah, I still look fat, but at least I don't look pregnant! (pregnant women are beautiful, but I don't want people thinking that I am when I'm not).

Yesterday, I officially let my workplace know that I would be back in the office full-time, so let the countdown to Monday begin. I'm very nervous about surviving the commute, but am also excited to be back in the "real world." I can't believe that it's been four months already, since I broke my leg. What a crazy year it's been!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Surviving The Week

Sunday marks the end of my "week" for Weight Watchers and I'm proud to say that I stayed within my plan all week, even when I was feeling stressed. Tonight, we met a friend for Japanese, so I finished up the week with a healthy dinner of miso soup, grilled mushrooms and Hibachi chicken.

I was going to post earlier about how I've gone for the past four days without eating any chocolate (which believe me, is miraculous for me), but I ended that tonight when I took a bite of Jon's chocolate lava cake. But I did take JUST a bite -- and then journaled it. And I was satisfied with just that one taste. I didn't feel as if I had to go an order a slice of lava cake all for myself.

What's interesting is that I haven't been craving sweets as much as I used to. Cookies and chocolate have always been my trigger foods, but I haven't wanted them the way I used to. When we went to the movies last weekend, for example, Jon and I got M&Ms to shares, but he ate most of them and I only had a few -- and I didn't care. Meanwhile, we had leftover low-fat frozen yogurt in the house, but I didn't touch it until Tuesday, and then I only had about three bites and put it away. After that, I didn't touch any chocolate until today.

Instead, I've been craving fruit as my go-to sweet. I really love grapes because they're good for you and you can munch them and feel as if you're eating candy, but you're not. I also really like berries and bananas. Berries are SO GOOD when you add them to low-fat yogurt or even if you just freeze them. And they're much healthier than cake!

I've also been having a lot of chicken and cauliflower. The Spanish place across the street from us makes great roasted chicken that's falling off the bone. Whenever I order it, I remove the skin and just have the plain, white breast meat, but because it's been roasting for so long, it's tender and delicious. I don't even have sauce with it -- I just have the plain, roasted meat. As for the cauliflower, I was happy to discover that a cup of aloo gobi (an Indian dish featuring cauliflower and potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce) is worth very few WW points. So I've been having that for dinner whenever I crave Indian food. I'm not much of a cook and we often eat out with friends; I'm just trying to find healthy, low-point alternatives. As I've said before, I don't really want to give up any foods because I like eating. And that's okay. But I am making a point to eat low-fat options and to watch my portions. I'm actually measuring out the servings to make sure I stay within my alloted points.

As for exercise, it was a pretty busy week with all they had me doing in PT, but I was told to rest my leg this weekend, so I am. I did walk a little tonight and I was feeling some pain in my ankle, so right now, I'm keeping it elevated and iced. I do feel like I'm getting better with distances, though. I managed to walk from the restaurant to the next block and only had to stop once. My friend who ate with us is TINY and said that she also had back problems after she broke her foot, so it's apparently not just my weight that's affecting me.

Still, I'm prepared to really crack down this next week. I'm planning to return to the office next Monday and am very nervous about the commute. It's a block to the bus stop, which I can deal with, but then it's about a 10-minute walk to my job, which is all uphill. I know that I need to push myself, but at PT, they've been warning me not to push myself to the point of injury. I usually love living in the city, but it's times like this where I wish I lived in the suburbs and could just drive to work. Then I could just park nearby and would only have to worry about getting to the office. Now I have to navigate the streets of Manhattan, which usually isn't a big deal, but I'm not sure that I'm ready for this. I figure that I will take car service to work, but it's easier to just take the bus home. That means walking about seven blocks with my walker and then somehow getting onto the bus -- and then getting off the bus without falling and breaking my leg again. Yikes.

I suppose I can ask for more time to work at home, but it's been four months since I've been out and I don't want to push my luck. So all I can really do is lose more weight so it's easier for me to walk and continue with my PT ... and then, I guess, see what happens when I try to commute. I'm mentally ready to return to the real world, but unfortunately, my body isn't quite as ready to catch up.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Getting A Grip

So far, I'm having a shitty day, to put things lightly. I think I've been overdoing my workouts because my ankle is all sore and swollen today. I had a difficult time getting it into my sneaker and it hurts to walk on it. That said, they only had me do stretches today at PT and recommend that I keep it elevated and take a break for the rest of the day. I realize that it's normal for muscles to get sore from exercise, especially when there are torn ligaments involved, but I was doing so well ... and now I'm not. It's frustrating. But I'll do what they say and trust that I'll be in even better shape by the time my muscles relax and heal.

Meanwhile, my husband and I had an encounter with a crazy cabby this morning. We've been using the same car service for years and they are always reliable. However, this particular cabby freaked out when he went to put my walker in the trunk and Jon said, "No, I got it." I don't know if it was Jon's tone or what that set him off, but all of a sudden, the driver started yelling at Jon and calling him crazy and threatening to beat him up! Then Jon started screaming back and I screamed because I just wanted my husband to walk away and not provoke him any further. My husband is a good guy, but he can be very hot-headed and his temper makes me nuts (even though the cabby was clearly the one who started it today). I wish that Jon would learn to just let things go. I know that I need to learn to be more confrontational, but he's sort of the opposite.

The cabby finally drove away and they sent us another car, but it was a big mess and I arrived at PT shaken and crying. I think that had I been there under different circumstances, I would've pushed through my sore leg, but I was just not mentally in the game today.

On top of this, I totally have PMS and am tired and cranky and crampy. But the good news is, I haven't binged. I kind of want to right now, but I'm writing in this blog instead and am hoping that I can clear my head by the time I sit down for breakfast. I have a bagel and some fruit and I'm going to eat that slowly and then stop. I'm resting with ice on my leg right now, so I'm going to just try to relax and let my foot heal itself.

Whew, I am a bit calmer now that I've written out some of my thoughts. I'm going to enjoy my breakfast, watch some sitcoms to cheer myself up and try to forget that this morning ever happened...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

One Meal At A Time

I'm really proud of myself for having a productive and healthy day. I just got back from dinner with a friend and was pleased with all of the choices that I made. We went to one of my favorite restaurants, a Tex-Mex place called Santa Fe, but instead of getting a burrito or enchilada drenched in cheese (and trust me, they are soooo good!), I ordered the veggie fajitas, which came with nice chunky pieces of cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini and onion. I put together two fajitas, spreading on a salsa and just a bit of guacamole. There were chips on the table, too, but I only had a few. And though this place has AWESOME desserts, all I had after the meal was a cup of coffee -- and then when I came home, I had one fruit pop. I was craving chocolate, but didn't give in to it.

It felt really good to have a very satisfying and filling meal that was actually good for me. When I finished, I was full, but I didn't have that sick, bloated feeling that I often get when I've scarfed down too much salt or too many carbs. Plus, it was nice to be out with my friend and enjoy some girl talk. Of course, I relished my food, but I was mainly paying attention to what she was saying; I wasn't obsessing over my meal like I tend to do sometime.

My friend noticed that I've lost weight, too. She'd mentioned this to me when we met up last week, but said that she could see even more of a difference even over the past few days. The difference isn't that big yet, but it's encouraging that people are starting to notice -- and her compliment made me want to keep the momentum going by having a healthy dinner.

Between my tough PT session and successful night out, I'm more positive about the future. This weekend, my goal is to take a long "journey" and circle our block. Right now, that seems as if it's 10 miles long, but I'd love to be active again. If I can move any way I want and do whatever I want, my world will continue to become a much larger place.

Making Mom Understand

I was worked really hard in PT today, which is a good thing. In addition to having me do my standing leg exercises (which are beginning to get a little easy), they had me do step-ups and then walk around a bunch of obstacles so that I could practice getting the correct gait. On top of that, my dad parked the car about two blocks from the place, so I got some real walking in, as well. I'm pretty exhausted now, but I feel good.

Meanwhile, I actually had a civil conversation with my mom about my weight. I've been trying not to get angry with her whenever she brings up the subject, so when she stated that she hopes I'll see "that other doctor" when my mobility improves, I just nodded and said that I would. By "other doctor," by the way, she means an endocrinologist. I'm not diabetic, but I do have slightly high blood sugar and insulin resistance. I have an endo in the city, but really don't like him since he keeps wanting to put me on drugs. Therefore, I know I need to see a new doctor.

My mom was glad to hear that I was planning to go soon, but she seems to think that an endo is a "magic" doctor, who will give me some miracle cure to make me thin. I tried to explain to her that though endos deal with some conditions that could contribute to weight gain, like thyroid problems, that they can't automatically make you lose weight, and that's not really what they're job is. She's hanging on to this belief that I have some glandular or thyroid problem and I'm pretty certain that I don't. And she said that she didn't like the endo I've been seeing because his plan didn't work. What plan? He diagnosed me and gave me meds, but again, it wasn't his JOB to make me thin.

I wish my mother would understand that there's no special cure that's going to make me lose weight. Even if I do have a thyroid problem, I know that 99 percent of my weight gain is because of ME. I take full responsibiliy. I can see a million nutritionists or bariatric doctors, but ultimately, I'm the one who chose to binge on candy and doughnuts and pizza and sticks of butter and whatever the else I stuffed my face with for the past 10 years. This is why I'm seeing a counselor because I know that my problem is mental and not physical. I assured her that when I had my blood work done -- twice! -- this past April that my results were really good and the doctor told me that other than being overweight, I'm in decent shape. I'm not against getting more blood work done, but she seemd to believe that a) I'm about to explode and b) that again, once they get my blood work, it'll reveal some tangible reason for why I'm fat.

I appreciate that she's concerned, but I wish that she'd let go of this hope that I can be cured because she's just going to be disappointed. She needs to understand that I have a mental disorder, one that I've held onto in different forms, since I was a child. Since she doesn't have food issues, I suppose it's difficult for her to comprehend this, but then again, she's been smoking since she was 22. She's tried to stop many times and has come close, but always goes back to her cigarettes. You figure that she'd get the whole notion of addiction and how even with patches and gums and hynosis, the only true "cure" to stop smoking is for HER to stop.

I want my parents to be supportive of me as I attempt to lose weight -- again -- but they need to understand a few things: this is MY responsibility, not there. They can support me, but they can't become so involved that my weight troubles become a problem for me AND them. I can't take on the burden of losing weight for all three of us! Two, they need to let me TAKE responsibility and not blame my weight on genes or glands or anything like that. Three, they can't judge me for my weight. Me gaining weight is not a personal thing. It doesn't make me a bad person or a lazy person or anything like that. Finally, they need to respect my boundaries. If I want to discuss my weight, fine, but if I don't, they need to accept it. I'm 36 years old and a grown-ass woman. I need to take care of myself.

I'm not sure that they're ever going to truly understand how complex eating disorders and obesity are. Hell, I wish I could understand because it would certainly make my life a lot easier!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Looking For Some Positives

Well, I made it to my counseling session BY MYSELF yesterday. It wasn't easy, but I brought the walker with me and stopped to sit whenever I needed to rest. And I got there and back in one piece.

Needless to say, I am so SORE after enduring three very active days. On Sunday, I climbed up that long flight of stairs in the movies and then walked a couple of blocks; yesterday, I traveled alone and also walked a couple of blocks; and then, this morning, I had PT. They finally gave me a new exercise to do besides the standing leg movements and stretches; they had me maneuver my foot on this balance board to get a better range of motion. Sounds easy, but it was actually quite hard to keep my foot on the board and then rotate it along with my foot. I ached afterward.

When I came home this afternoon, I was so stiff and sore that I found it difficult to walk, even just around the apartment. My ankle hurt, my back hurt and my knees hurt, too. I found myself wanting to beat myself up for it, for not being able to walk well enough yet, for not losing enough weight yet so that I don't have back pain.

But then I sat back and thought about all that I DID manage to accomplish over the past few weeks and tried to focus on that instead. I can now walk up and down stairs. I can now walk without the walker for short periods. I can now walk for a couple of blocks with the walker (if I take a couple of breaks, but the point is, I can get the distance completed). I can now balance on my bad leg and raise up the other leg during my standing leg movements (when I first started, I could barely do this). I can now travel by myself and don't have to rely on Jon to take me everywhere.

These are really big things! I am proud of myself, but I do tend to be impatient about life in general. I wish my leg would heal more quickly and I wish that the weight would just fall off. But I can see the beginnings of some improvement. I'll just have to keep working hard.

I'm still struggling a bit with my eating. I haven't binged in a while, but I know that I need to eat better things. I tend to have a lot of bread and rice and pasta, and while none of this is bad in of itself, I do eat too much starch in general. I also tend to overindulge on cheese and not have enough vegetables. I didn't do too badly today; instead of having a bagel for breakfast, I had a couple of small rolls with some grapes and bananas, and then for dinner, Jon made me gazpacho. I did overdo it on the cheese, but I journaled everything. My main problem is that if I like something, I'll eat the whole thing. So if there's a block of cheese in front of me or a tub of low-fat cream cheese, I'll nibble on it until it's done. Part of me has considered getting all of these trigger foods out of the house ... but then, there wouldn't really be anything left. As of now, I'm having Jon keep minimal food in the house, anyway, and I've been known to eat weird stuff when I get desperate. I mean, I've eaten sticks of butter. Gross, I know.

I am getting better at monitoring myself, though, and am trying to come up with a game plan for when I return to work full-time in a couple of weeks. I used to order in often, but I think that I'll bring a lunch bag each day instead. I really like having grapes because you can nibble on them all day and it's like eating healthy candy. That will also keep me away from the vending machine. I suppose it's good that I can't walk well because I won't be able to make trips to buy M&Ms or even to pick up food from the outside!

For now, I'm going to continue to take my eating one meal at a time and my walking one step at a time. It's a little disheartening for me that I have to deal with my recovery and my weight simultaneously, but I figure that I'll have one hell of a story to tell when I conquer both.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Small Victories

As time goes on, my walking continues to improve, though it's still very difficult for me to get around. Last night, though, I enjoyed a relatively "normal" evening out. We went to see the Sorcerer's Apprentice at a theater near us, and had a nice time. The last time we went to this theater, we couldn't see the movie because it was playing upstairs and the wheelchair accessible elevator was broken. This time, the movie was also upstairs, but it didn't matter; I managed to walk up the huge flight of steps to the second floor! I didn't count the steps, but I'm guessing that there were about 30, which is A LOT for me to climb at this point in time. I was proud of myself, even though my ankle hurt afterward.

Later, we went to get a cab home. The cab stand was about two blocks from the theater, which right now, seems like two miles to me. But I did it. I had the walker with me, so I stopped ever few feet to rest (gotta love the built-in seat on that thing). I made it to the cab with no real problems.

Tonight is my biggest test: I'm going to my first in-person counseling session since March (my shrink has been doing phone sessions with me) -- and I'll be doing it by MYSELF. This means that I'll have to make it downstairs and coordinate one flight of stairs WITH the walker, without Jon or my parents there to help me. I'll then have to get to the counseling center from the cab, since it's easiest for me to be dropped off by the corner, which is about a block away. I'm hoping that I don't kill myself while dragging the walker up and down the steps to our building.

You're probably wondering why I'm bringing the walker with me when I no longer use it around the house. There are two reasons. One, it's security. My balance is not 100 percent yet and I like having something to grab onto when I'm walking along cracked and broken sidewalks. Two, it has that built-in seat. I'm still having back issues and I like knowing that I can sit and rest whenever I want. Since I can only walk about 100 feet before needing to rest at the moment, this is really important. I don't want to put too much stress on my back or ankle as I'm still building strength.

My back pain continues to be the most frustrating thing about my recovery. It seems like it's worse than ever. My therapist thinks that it might be my shoes; she pointed out that my Sketchers (I have the kind that are supposed to tone your legs and butt) don't offer great balance and suggested that I get something with better support. So today I ordered a pair of standard Reebok sneakers and some new bras. I hope that both will help in the "support" category!

I'm very worried about the back pain, though, because I feel as if it's the main thing that's keeping me from being fully functional. I can deal with the soreness in my leg and the limp. Hell, it doesn't feel nearly as bad as it did when I finished the 20-mile walk. The next day, my leg hurt so badly that I seriously wanted to saw it off. But the back pain is really bad. I've been losing weight to ease up on it, but I need to lose a lot more before it'll make a difference -- and I'm expected back at work by the end of this month. I don't know how I'm going to complete the 10-minute walk -- that's up a hill -- from the bus stop to my office. I suppose if I have the walker with me, I can stop every few feet and just take my time, but I'm not looking forward to it. I can barely stand for five minutes and I hate to say it, but in some ways, I miss the wheelchair because when I was using it, I didn't have to deal with this.

I'm wondering if I should see a back specialist, but I'm certain that I'm going to be told that the pain will disappear if I lose the weight. Frankly, I'm a little sick of doctors right now, too, given that I've seen so many in the last three months. So for now, I'm going to continue to work on my weight loss and pray that my back gets stronger. I'd like to be able to stand tall again -- and enjoy it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Look Ma, No Hands!

I can walk! Really -- I can now walk without holding onto a walker, cane or anything else. Granted, I limp when I do so, but I'm ALMOST back to normal at this point. Hallelujah!

My parents were really happy when I showed them how much I've improved in the past week, though, my dad made fun of me and said that when I walk with my limp, I look a bit like a penguin. Still, I'm getting places. I realize that I have a long way to go; I still can't walk for more than about 100 feet until I need to sit down and rest my legs and back and I've been told that it can take months until the limp is gone. But the fact that I can get from Point A to Point B with a lot less help is a huge deal.

I've been working hard in PT, but frankly, it's getting a little boring. Because I'm now working, I've been coming at an earlier time and they put me with a different therapist. She's nice, but she has me doing the same, old standing leg exercises that I've been doing for the past two weeks. At this point, they're getting pretty easy and I'd like to switch to something more challenging. The last therapist I had was all set for me to do the stair climber and some resistance band balance exercises. I've brought this up with the new person, but she says it's not time for them yet. It's a little confusing and this is one thing I don't like about this PT place, even though I'm mostly satisfied: the therapists don't seem to communicate or be on the same page. I've worked with almost everyone there at this point and each time, I'm given a new routine that contradicts what the last therapist gave me. They're supposed to operate as a community and often work with each others' patients, but they need to gel as a unit a bit more. Still, I've been pushing myself on my own and figure that PT is a place for me to work out with professionals spotting me.

Happily, the weight loss is going well, too. I'm continuing to keep a journal and watch what I eat and I'm feeling some results. No, I haven't stepped on the scale in a while (I know I have to soon), but I'm definitely lighter on my feet and believe that the reason why I can now walk without support is because of the weight loss. Also, Jon and my friend both said something to me about it the other day. Jon noted that when he pushes my wheelchair (I still use it for long distances) that I'm not as heavy and then my friend told me that my face is obviously thinner. I'm grateful for the compliments, but I'll truly consider myself to be on the road to success when I lose enough weight so that my back pain disappears. Then I'll be able to walk and bend and do so many more things comfortably. It's something to look forward to.

We were supposed to go to a wedding this weekend, but Jon's been sick all week so we decided to stay home. That said, this will be the first weekend in a long time that I have no PT and both days free. I intend to take advantage of it by walking some more. I've made it to the front of my building. Who knows? Maybe I'll find the strength to walk all the way around the block. In my current state, that would be as much of an accomplishment for me as when I did the 20 miles!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rock Bottom

Okay, I have a somewhat embarrassing confession to make: I've been a little obsessed with the Lindsay Lohan case over the past few days. I enjoy keeping up with celebrity gossip for fun, anyway, but because I've had more time on my hands than usual -- even with my job back in place -- I've been reading ever news story and blog about this trainwreck ... and then I relay everything I've learned to Jon. He won't admit it, but I think he's kind of obsessed with the case, too.

My husband believes that her case is interesting to us because I write about entertainmet and he's a criminal attorney, but for me, I think there's more to it. She's a prime example of how an addiction can lead someone to hit rock bottom over and over and over again -- and how that person STILL can't figure out how to fix herself out. Granted, I'm not a complete basket case who's ruined her life and career due to my eating addiction the way Lindsay has with drugs and alcohol, but I can sort of relate to her destructive tendencies.

Jon thought I was being ridiculous when I shared this with him, but I'm not so sure I am. No, I've never done drugs or have broken the law (unless you count driving 70 in a 65 mile-an-hour zone), but just as Lindsay has completed several stints in rehab, I've lost weight on several different diets. And then, just as she's fallen off the wagon time and time again, so have I -- and I've gained the weight back.

In many of the news articles I've read, sources have said that despite all she's been through Lindsay still hasn't hit her rock bottom -- though that's hard to imagine, given that she's about to go to JAIL. However, this has got me thinking -- have I hit my rock bottom yet? I'm not sure.

There have been plenty of times where my weight has led me to say, "Never again!" or I thought it was THE wake-up call. I was so afraid that I wouldn't fit into my wedding dress that I basically didn't eat for two weeks prior to our wedding. It fit -- it was actually loose -- but I was still an overweight bride and it was very awkward when I had to greet guests whom I hadn't seen since I was a teen. One set of my parents' friends actually gasped when they saw me and it was not a good gasp of, "Hey, look at the beautiful bride." Most of the guests told me how beautiful I was and I think they really meant it, too, but these family friends did not. They just kept staring at me. I vowed to lose the weight so I could at least begin our married life as a thin person. It didn't happen.

In 2004, I went to London with Jon and our friend, Lani. We stayed in a lovely hotel that was a renovated town house and was near many great sights and restaurants. The rooms even had private bathrooms (which can be unusual in England and Europe). Unfortunately, I could barely fit into the bathroom. In order to get to the shower, you had to squeeze around the sink and I just could not make it. They didn't have any other rooms for us so for four days, I had to take sponge baths. I was humiliated.

Later that year, we went to a holiday party at my cousins' home (I don't have any first cousins, but I do have distant ones). I hadn't seen them in years and they, too, were shocked by my weight gain. They kept saying, "You look so, so ... beautiful." When I told one of them that we'd recently been to Australia, she looked me up and down and asked if I rode in first class. I know that she didn't ask this because she actually thought that we could afford it -- she just didn't understand how I could possibly fit into the seats in economy.

Also that year, I was doing a feature on actors' healthy habits and fitness tips. I invited a certain actress up to my office (trust me, it's an F-list actress, no one you've heard of) and this woman gave me a "pep talk" about how I was too young to be this heavy and needed to lose weight and get my life together. She was kind and even offered to go to the doctor with me, but this was none of her business. I was trying to be professional and she ended up embarrassing me and making me cry right there in my office. I didn't ask for her advice and as well-meaning as she may have been, it made me feel terrible about myself.

In 2005, I stopped in a deli for breakfast and this group of guys came in. One looked at me and began singing, "Fatty girl, fatty girl." His friend stopped him and told him to use Spanish instead, but I still understood what they were saying and that they were making fun of me.

In 2006, I began walking a lot and was convinced that I'd lost weight. Yet when I went to my doctor's, he informed me that I hadn't. Then when I broke down in his office, he had no idea what to do. A few days later, while I was still reeling from my doctor's diagnosis, I went for a walk around the city with a friend -- and a homeless guy called out to me really loudly, "Hey, Fat Girl, you got what I need?" Okay, so he was homeless and probably stoned, but I hated being singled out like that.

In 2007, after I'd lost a significant amount of weight, I was walking around the city and passed a little boy and his father. "Look at how fat that lady is!" the boy cried out. I'm proud to say that I lectured the father on teaching his son manners and the father sincerely apologized, but I was still mortified by the incident. The good news is, I made the little brat cry. Served him right!

This year, after I broke my leg, Jon took me to the local medical supply store to get me a walker. The clerk asked me in front of everyone how much I weigh and was afraid to sell me the walker, for fear that it wouldn't support my weight and I'd break it. We convinced him that it would be fine (and it has been fine as I'm using it all the time now), but I hated that this even had to be a concern when I was dealing with so much else.

These are some of the main "rock bottoms" that stand out in my mind, but there have been many other small instances where I've said, "This is it. I'm not going to be fat anymore." And yet, here I am, still obese. Jon said that maybe me breaking my leg is really my rock bottom, but I guess only time will tell.

From all I've read, Lindsay doesn't sound like a very nice person and it's frustrating that she keeps sabotaging herself and putting other people in danger. Still, I hope that jail and rehab end up helping her in the long run. As for me, I also hope that I can continue to pull my life together, but like any other addict -- food or otherwise -- I'll have to continue taking it one day at a time.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


I made some huge strides today. I managed to walk a few feet without using the walker for balance. I then made it through my exercises at PT without "cheating" by leaning over the rail to relieve the pressure on my back. And then this evening, I walked (using the walker) from my apartment to the sidewalk in front of our building and even successfully made it down the flight of six stairs in our entranceway! Jon brought the wheelchair with him in case I needed a rest, but I never had to stop and sit down. By the end of my walk, my back was hurting and I was hunched over te walker to relieve the stress, but I reached my goal. Tomorrow, I plan to walk a few feet more up the sidewalk ... and I'll keep practicing until I can make it to the bus stop up the block.

At PT, my therapist was so happy to see me walking around. The other therapist who was working with me today was also pleased that I'd memorized my exercises and appreciated that I'm so motivated to work and get well. He told me that a lot of patients hate doing the exercises and end up leaving their practice to go to another one where all they do is give patients massages and have them relax with heat compresses. I admitted that when I'm doing the actual exercise moves that it sucks because I'm out of shape and it's painful, but that it felt really good afterward. He was very encouraging and cheered me on when I managed to complete 30 reps in a row without stopping or slouching over. What was really nice was that when I was finished, this other patient there -- who's overweight herself, but was further along in her therapy than I am --came over to give me a hug and said that I was doing a great job.

Next week, my therapist wants me to start doing balancing exercises and using the stair climber. I'm a little nervous about this and how it'll affect my back. The good news is, I've been working really hard to lose weight this week because I know that this is only way that I can get rid of my back pain. So far, it's working, at least somewhat. I've diligently returned to keeping a food journal and have been doing my PT workout every other day. I already feel a bit lighter and am finding it easier to stand for longer amounts of time. I know that as long as I keep this up, I'll get stronger and leaner. I can't say that I love working out because it's very tough for me right now, but I really like the therapists at PT and feel that they're pushing me just enough; they're encouraging and give me a lot to do, but they also understand that I have some limitations because of my leg and my weight. And yet they're never judgemental about it.

With so much going on, I almost didn't realize what today's date is: July 10. It's also the official 20th anniversary of my eating disorder.

For as long as I can remember, I've been obsessed with food. Don't get me wrong, my parents never starved me or anything; in fact, my mom is a great cook. But I did get a lot of "Nos" and "You've had enoughs" as a child. We didn't keep sweets or chips or sugary cereal in our home (which is a good thing, but I didn't see it that way back then) and whenever we went to a restaurant or a party, my mom would always give me a disapproving eye if I ate too much. Treats were saved for special occasions, like birthday parties or holidays; plus, whenever I got a good report card, we'd get ice cream sundaes at Friendly's. Whenever we went to a concert or movies, my parents would let me get one small bag of candy.

And yet, I was always hungry. I don't know why, exactly, but it seemed as if no matter how much good, healthy food I ate, I always wanted more. My parents tell me that when I was four or five, I actually went to my neighbors' homes and complained that my parents weren't feeding me so I could ask for food. I don't remember this, but I do recall judging my friends based on what kinds of foods they had in their homes. I used to love going to my friend, Michelle's, because she always had tons of junk in the house for us to snack on. But I didn't like spending time at Dina's because the food selection there was limited.

By the time I turned 11, my obsession went into overdrive. By now, I was a latch key kid and was staying home by myself a lot more. During these times while my parents were away, I'd gorge on bagels and low fat ice cream and anything good that I could find in my parents' kitchen. One time, my dad received a box of cookies as a holiday gift and hid them in the back of the pantry. I found them and ate the entire thing. Another time, I ate through all of the leftover frosting that we had from when I'd made birthday cupcakes. I even ate an entire jar of sprinkles. I think my preoccupation with food is best illustrated, though, by the time my parents took me to see a classical music concert and I freaked out because the candy stand didn't have M&Ms. I'd be so looking forward to having them that I actually broke down and cried. Over M&Ms! Can you imagine that?

I still haven't quite figured out why food meant (means) so much to me, so that'll have to be a post for another day. But I do know that by the time I was a sophomore in high school, I was no longer obsessed with food and had become more obsessed with being thin. To clarify things, I was NOT fat. Not even close. I was about 5'2" and weighed about 115 pounds -- pretty ideal, come to think of it.

But during my freshman year, I fell for this guy, who didn't know that I was alive. He, in turn, liked the skinniest girl in our class. Looking back, I'm not so sure how healthy she was, but at the time, I was envious of her 95-pound frame. I figured that if I could get to be that thin and lose my wide hips and big butt (they were not wide or big at all, but this is what I thought back then), that this boy would find me attractive, too.

Many other things were going on in my life, too, at the time. I was shy and didn't have many friends. My childhood friend, Lani, whom I'm still close with today, was a year ahead of me in school and popular, so we didn't see as much of each other. The friends I did have weren't exactly loyal toward me, so I didn't feel very connected to anyone. I was in a special advanced program in school, so I was drowning in homework and reports every night and weekend. Plus, I was played flute in band and was very competitive with it at the time, so I was battling with some other flute players for first chair. In other words, I was lonely, stressed and getting hardly any sleep.

During sophomore year, my life spiraled even more out of control. My grandmother broke her hip and was given medication that made her really depressed. My then 90-year-old grandfather got pneumonia and wasted away to 75 pounds in the hospital (he survived and lived to be 98 1/2, but that's another story) -- and then moved into a home for the eldery. And then my great uncle died.

All of this happened in the span of about two or three months and it was very overwhelming for me. That's when I began my extreme dieting. The first time I tried it was when we were helping my grandfather clean out his apartment so he could move to the home. We'd always go to a nearby diner for lunch and I decided to eat only half of my meal that day. I was pleased when I lost three pounds that week.

But my real diet didn't begin until July 10, 1990, 20 years ago. My parents, who were both teachers, usually took me to some exotic place each summer like China or Egypt, but because there was so much going on in our family, decided to take a tour of the South instead that year. This was fine with me because I'd decided to use the five weeks we were away to lose some weight. I was scheduled to get my braces off at the end of the summer and I wanted to enter my junior year with a "perfect" figure and perfect teeth.

My plan worked -- sort of. That summer, I stuck with salads and fruits, making sure to cut out "bad" foods like breads and snacks. I ended up losing 15 pounds and went down two sizes. But that wasn't enough for me.

When I came home, I promised my mom that I wouldn't get below 95 pounds (which was probably still underweight for me), but I didn't listen. I hardly ate anything so that my stomach grumbled loudly in school. I exercised for hours a day. I ended up getting down to about 90 pounds, way underweight for someone with my frame. I remember my grandfather telling me that I was too skinny, but I usually wore layered outfits so it was difficult for most people to tell just how thin I was. Yet I could see every bone in my torso sticking out and bruised easily because I had no cushioning on my body.

Of course, the guy I liked continued to show no interest in me and people started making comments about my weight. The turnaround came for me when I went to a friend's sweet 16 and wore a slinky dress, thinking I looked great. My friend's older brother, who was always very nice to me, told me point-blank that I was too skinny and now had chicken legs. Since I was at that age where a boy's opinion meant everything, I actually listened to him and put some weight back on. Then, I entered the bulimia phase of my life, which wasn't much better ... and here I am.

I didn't realize until health class in my senior year that I'd flirted with anorexia, but I was a classic textbook case: the "good girl" who tries to please everyone and starts to diet when her life spirals out of control. I wish I'd gotten help back then, but am glad that I found the strength to pull myself out of it before I became really ill.

Still, it's pretty sad that 20 years later, I'm dealing with the same eating disorder, albeit in another form. It never went away; it simply changed. I honestly don't know if I'll ever beat this thing entirely, but I'd like to be able to at least manage it. So here's hoping that 20 years from now, my problems with food will be a very distant memory.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Back To The Land Of the Living

I got a surprise call this week from my job: seems that my temporary disability has run out (it ends after three months) and if I don't return to work, my job could be in jeopardy. Happily, my boss and the nice HR lady were willing to find a loophole and have finally allowed me to work from home for the next few weeks. I start tomorrow. I'm hoping that I'll be up to commuting at the end of the month, but this will be a nice way to transition back to full-time employment.

I'm not entirely sure why I wasn't allowed to work from home in the first place (something to do with disability payment laws, I think), but I'm touched that my boss fought for me and is making sure that my job remains safe. As you know, I've had some doubts about the job and about how much I'm actually respected at my office, but this shows that I am. I have to say that during this whole time, none of my higher-ups or anyone from HR has ever given me a difficult time about me being absent.

I'm still not sure what will happen with the job in the future, but for now, I'm looking forward to returning and feeling useful again. I think I can deal with it not being my dream job as long as I find some other purpose or project to keep me busy. For now, I guess, it's getting back on my feet and improving my health.

Still, I'm trying to think about my longer-term goals. My counselor thinks that I should eventually do something relating to weight loss. I have to say, I really like this idea, even though I haven't yet been very successful at it myself. But I like writing and enjoy helping people ... if I could somehow tie all of these things together in assisting other obese people with their weight-loss goals, that would be great. I just haven't yet figured out what that is. Perhaps as I continue to work on my own body, some ideas will come to me.

For now, it'll be nice to return to work and bring home some decent money. Disability DOES NOT pay well at all! Maybe when all is said and done, I'll splurge on some new shoes. Now that I can wear normal shoes again, this seems like an appropriate way to celebrate my gradual return to normalcy.

The Heat Is On

It's over 100 degrees today in New York City ... and of course, this had to be the day that the PT office flooded.

It's usually a pretty quiet office, but my appointment was later today and it was insane! The place was so packed that they could barely find workout space for everyone. Then an elderly woman used the toilet ... and it began to flood. The water kept on gushing on the floor so that we all felt as if we were on the Titanic. My therapist and a few others frantically tried to stop it as they waited for the repair person to arrive. All the while, more patients were filing into the waiting room, including one older woman whom I've seen around the neighborhood and know simply as "Crazy Lady." She stood in the doorway and screamed amidst the chaos; ironically, what she was screaming for was a glass of water.

Throughout all of this, I did manage to complete my workout. It's definitely getting easier for me. I've been using a 3 lb ankle weight at home, so the 2 lber they had on me today felt really light. But I can now dip a lot lower during my squats and can place much more weight on the bad leg. Before, when I had to balance on my bad leg and lift my good leg, I could only maintain the pose for half a second. But now I can hold it for about 3-5 seconds, a big improvement.

Meanwhile, my dad was really happy when I greeted him at the door to our apartment standing rather than sitting. And my cat was really pleased last night when I was able to get up and feed her, and she didn't have to wait for my husband to come home. See? My walking is good for everyone.

Understandably, my therapist was distracted today, but I felt as if I had a good session. I'd like to mix things up, though, so on Thursday, I'm going to ask if I can try the recumbant bike. Who knows? If it floods again, I might need the bike to swim out of there!

Monday, July 5, 2010

TV Review: Huge

There's a new program on ABC Family Channel called Huge, which is a "dramedy" about kids in a camp for overweight teens. Since I'm overweight and was once a counselor at a sleep-away arts and music camp (I taught woodwinds and was in charge of the 7-10-year-old girls), this show seemed like it would be right up my alley. I was right as I really like the program so far.

What I'm enjoying about it is that the teens featured really are overweight -- they're not "Hollywood fat" -- and are portrayed as real, three-dimensional kids, not fat stereotypes. In other words, it's not a camp filled with class clowns stuffing their faces or shy girls who stress eat. Instead, you have your usual group of jocks, bitches, pretty girls, snarky kids ... only they all happen to be chubby to morbidly obese.

The main star of the ensemble is Nikki Blonsky, whom you may recognize as Tracy Turnblad from the movie version of Hairspray. In this show, though, she's anything but sunny. She plays Will, who's surly, troubled and clearly doesn't want to be at the camp ... though you can't help but cheer for her, despite her attitude issues because you know that she has a lot going on beneath the surface. The character is just starting to open up and I'm looking forward to seeing her journey unfold.

In tonight's episode, she had one scene which really hit home for me. After being forced to play basketball -- and finding that she liked it! -- she tried to write a letter to her parents, with encouragement from the camp director. Only Will couldn't make herself send it. In it, she said, paraphrasing, that she knew that her parents wouldn't celebrate her victory, but would pat themselves on the back for knowing that the camp was good for her. She added that she knew that she was a disappointment to them and could see it in their eyes every time they made a comment about her shirt being too tight or gave her a look when she reached for dessert. She recognized that her being fat had let them down on a personal level.

Given my history with my own parents, this scene resonated with me because this is exactly how I've felt in the past -- that my size was more than a health concern for them and that they were disappointed in me for not having self control or being beautiful or taking care of myself, etc.

I think now that I'm getting older that the issues are getting somewhat resolved with my parents, but I liked that the show included a scene like this because I think that many obese kids feel this way. That said, I hope that ABC Family is living up to its name and has an audience of many teens AND parents watching together. If Huge continues to be as good as the first few episodes were, I think it could help viewers realize how complex weight problems are and how fat people are well, people, and not just statistics in the so-called "obesity epidemic."

Family Circus

Much as I'm glad to be somewhat up and about, I have to admit that our Fourth Of July celebration was disappointing. We went to see the movie Letters From Juliet, which was so-so and then we had dinner at a nearby Argentine restaurant, which was very nice. I enjoyed Jon's company, of course, and am grateful that I had someone to celebrate with, but well, the holiday still felt empty to me.

What did I miss specifically? Barbecue. Not the actual food so much -- I mean, we had grilled meats at the restaurant so that counts as barbecue, I guess, but I missed the idea of being at a barbecue or Fourth of July party with friends and family. I missed sitting around with a large group of people, laughing and having fun as we waited for the fireworks display to take off. I missed jumping in the pool on a very hot day or being at the lake or hiking or doing some kind of fun summer-type activity. I'm glad that we did go out and do something, but we see movies and have dinner almost every weekend. I missed that feeling of being part of a group, of being part of a family. Seeing everyone's posts on Facebook about their pool parties and barbecues and hikes and camping and whatnot got me depressed to the point where I burst into tears this morning and couldn't stop. I felt better when a couple of friends complained that they had to work last night and didn't get out at all, but I've still been feeling depressed about it all day and just left out of the loop. I went so far as to send out an invite to my family members for July 4, 2011 so that we could host a party and they could clear their calendars NOW.

Much as I've been down all day, I think it's a positive thing that I'm facing my feelings and writing about them rather than bingeing. That said, I've been trying to imagine what my shrink would say; she'd probably suggest that I try to figure out what it is specifically about the holiday that's made me feel so down.

I think what it comes down to is family, or a lack thereof in my case. These days, I have a decent relationship with my parents, but we've had a lot of shaky times over the past few years. They travel often, so they're out of the country for several months a year. Plus, our family is very small; it's just me and them. I don't even have any cousins or aunts and the one uncle I do have is in a home. Meanwhile, I love my in-laws, but my siblings-in-law haven't turned out to be what I'd hoped for. Neither they nor their spouses is great at keeping in touch and I've given up doing all the work. One used to be a close friend (that's how I met my husband) and it hurts that we're not so close anymore. It's not because she's a bad person; it's just that our lives have taken us in different directions. I'm fortunate in that I'm still good friends with my one-time neighbor whom I've known since we were babies, but much as she's like family, she has her own husband and blood relatives. For most holidays, she understandably spends time with them.

Because of this, I didn't end up with the large, close family I'd anticipated when I got married. The family gathers maybe twice a year -- for Passover and Thanksgiving -- and I always really have a great time because I like having so many people around. It gives me a sense of belonging and identity. Even with Christmas, which we don't celebrate and which I sometimes feel left out of, as well, it's not so bad, because I always meet up with Jewish friends for a movie and Chinese. It's not a family holiday for us, but we spend the time with a different type of family.

I think that's what I felt was missing this Fourth, especially since my mobility is compromised on top of everything. In the past, we've "borrowed" families for the holiday. A couple of years ago, we visited a friend upstate and crashed her family's barbecue. It was so much fun, especially when we all walked over to the nearby fireworks show after dinner. A couple of times, we've also spent the fourth overseas.

I'm lucky because I have a lot of good friends and they've basically become my family. But most of them have DNA families who they spend time with and I realize that I probably put more weight on our relationships than they do. I don't doubt that my friends love me, but I don't know if they feel the need for that surrogate family like I do, if they need me in that same way. It's not fair of me to put such high expectations of them when they have other people and responsibilities in their lives.

What's really ironic in all of this is that I'm not sure I want kids -- which would be the easiest way to get myself a large family. But I'm not sure I have what it takes to be a mother. Having kids is a huge responsibility, which I don't know that I'm prepared to take on.

Right now, my goal is to fill my soul rather than stuff myself with food and I definitely do think this familial identity crisis comes into play for me. Not sure what I can do about it, but I think for starters, I'm going to plan more family outings and encourage us to see each other more. I'm certain that my sisters-in-law won't bite as they don't care much for social get-togethers, but if I nag enough (that's what siblings do, right?), maybe they'll understand and indulge me. And maybe I won't have to be so needy with my friends and will stop feeling like I'm drifting in the wind.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day

I've always liked the Fourth of July. In past years, it meant barbecues, fireworks, family gatherings and memories from when I was a kid and would chase fireflies through the yard. It's a holiday that I associate with warm nights, days off and fun.

This year, though, things are different. It's hotter than hell outside. It's quiet as most of the people in my life are away. Jon and I will be celebrating with a night out at dinner and a movie rather than a barbecue or fireworks display.

It's a little depressing, but I do have much to celebrate aside from it being our country's anniversary of independence. Each day, I'm becoming a lot more independent as my mobility increases.

The PT exercises I've been given are killer, but they seem to be working. Each day, I've been faithfully going through them -- doing squats, marching in place, lifting my good leg out to the front, back and side as I balance on my bad leg (these moves are the worst) -- all of these being done as I keep a 3 lb ankle weight wrapped around my bad leg. To someone with perfect mobility, these moves might not seem like much, but by the time I'm through with my workout, which takes about 40 minutes, I'm dripping with sweat. I've never been into yoga or pilates as I've always preferred weight training and aerobic-type exercises, but I'm beginning to understand the value of strength and balance moves. It takes a lot of concentration and power to keep your leg elevated as you balance yourself, especially when the bulk of your weight is resting on an injured body part.

However, I do seem to be getting stronger. I can now stand up on my own without having to grab onto the walker and can walk a few feet before I need to do a balance check. I still need to "cheat" a little on some moves by leaning over the walker for balance, but I can do more reps in a row and hold my leg up at the various angles for a few seconds longer. And my back hurt a lot less today when I exercised. I made a point to stretch it out between each move and that seemed to help. I think that this, as well as my increased strength made things a bit easier.

The best part of all of this are the small things I can now do on my own. If I need to use the bathroom, I don't need to call Jon for help. If I want something from the kitchen, I can get it myself. It's amazing how just being able to move a few feet can open up your world.

Granted, I still have much work to do. My back is still sore and I know that it's because of my weight. I keep telling myself that if I'm pleased with how much I'm able to do just by getting around the house, imagine how much I'll be able to do if I can walk a few miles without stopping or am able to easily jump, run and dance. So I'm pushing myself to take every step I can and look forward to when movement becomes a second thought again -- though after all of this, I don't think I'll ever take advantage of it. What my body can do will always be appreciated.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Big Improvements

Okay, first the bad news: I didn't go crazy yesterday, but I did have a mini-binge last night. It's my time of the month (sorry any guys who are reading this) and I was craving salt and so I asked my husband to bring me some mozzarella sticks and fries. I ate the mozz sticks and a couple of fries ... but then I was like, "What are you doing?" and tossed the rest. I guess it's good that I stopped myself.

I'm not sure what triggered this exactly, though I have been a little depressed. I think that summer is getting to me. It always seems to be too hot, too long and rather endless and well, kind of empty. The city quiets down. Most of my friends are teachers so they have the time off and many go away. I'm happy for them because they've worked hard, but this year in particular, it's getting to me because we were supposed to go to Argentina and now we can't. I also feel as if my support system isn't around as much as it was thia spring. It's a bit ironic that just at the point that I'm getting more able to do things, the people in my life are disappearing. I realize that it's selfish for me to think this; I mean, I realize that the world doesn't revolve around me, but the situation has made me restless. i'm going to sound like a big baby for what I'm about to say, but, well, here goes: I'm jealous that everyone else is going to have fun and I feel as if I'm being left behind. I mean, what do I have to look forward to -- going back to work, really. I wish I could go on a REAL vacation, as opposed to just having time off for an injury.

But there is good news. Each day, it's getting just a little easier for me to get around on my own. I switched from the Air Cast to a regular sneaker yesterday, so I'm finally back to wearing normal shoes (even though the sneaker had to be unlaced halfway because my foot is still swollen). PT went well and when my dad brought me back upstairs, I successfully managed to walk from the front door to our bed. Then yesterday evening, I walked to the bathroom and Jon helped me into the shower -- my first REAL shower in three months! Yes, I HAVE been washing frequently, but I've been doing it by sitting at the sink and cleaning myself that way. Since our shower has a step into it and I wasn't supposed to get the cast wet, it was tough for me to climb in all of this time. But I finally got to do it last night!

This morning, though, was my biggest challenge. Jon always leaves me breakfast, but instead of giving me a roll, gave me two packs of low-fat cream cheese. I didn't want to live on grapes and bananas all day, so I took the walker and made my way to the kitchen and back -- by MYSELF -- to get my roll. I was a bit nervous about traveling while I'm home alone, but it was fine. I feel as if I'm getting the hang of this whole walking thing. I know I'd mentioned that my goal was to walk from the front door to our living room, but this was actually a longer distance. I had to stop halfway to sit for a few seconds, but the mission was completed.

Don't get me wrong, walking is still very difficult for me. My foot is very sore whenever I place weight on it and I'm limping really hard. I kind of look like the Frankenstein monster as I go, step, CLOMP, step, CLOMP, but I'm moving and putting weight on it, which is important.

What's a little frustrating is that my back is bothering me when I walk for a long time or do my PT exercises. My therapist assures me that it'll ease up as my leg and back get stronger, but it concerns me given my past back issues. I just hate having the return of that familiar aching sensation. Much as I hated being off of my feet for the past few months, it was nice not having to deal with back pain when I walked.

Of course, I know that things will continue to get easier for me. But being able to get around our apartment is a great start and very appropriate for Independence Day weekend!