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The Fallacy of Control

From the Gastric Bypass Barbie vault:
Originally published November 6, 2009.
 

As I reread this, I realize how far I’ve come…how much healthier I am emotionally and physically…how much freer I feel since I’ve cut those ties that bound me. Thanks to some wonderfully supportive friends and a willingness to do whatever it took to get well, I learned that, the first step in being a recovering control freak is to recognize you really control…nothing. My wish for you is this: Let go of your need to control, and watch how much more “in control” you feel…  ~ Cari

The Fallacy of Control

 

I would describe myself as a “recovering control freak with latent OCD tendencies.” The idea of “control” is quite seductive and appealing for a Type-A personality like me. Unfortunately, it’s always tantalizingly out of reach — just around the bend, over the horizon, or in the next “whatever.” Which is why control is such a lie. You see, no one ever really has it — not over situations, or others, but least of all over SELF. I mean, PUHLEASE — Self-Control. What the heck does that mean??? Does it mean that I get to control everything I think and do? Does it mean that, as long as I try hard enough, everything I touch will stay in check? Does it mean that I can actually be the master of time and space?

Not so much.

I spent years misunderstanding the idea of control, and more importantly SELF control. The reality of control is that, despite all best laid plans, intentions, hopes, dreams or preparations, whatever is GOING to happen, will happen. It’s what I DO about it that really gives me CONTROL (limited control, naturally).

I began to learn this painful lesson when my daughter (who will turn 19 on the 16th) was 3. We had dressed her as “Belle” from Beauty & The Beast; she had a lovely golden yellow dress, and cute black patent mary jane shoes, white tights, a plastic pumpkin with a handle (to carry her loot) — and an incredibly intricate undo with about 10,000 bobby pins holding it up, and an entire can of hairspray CONTROLLING every single hair on her head.

She looked ADORABLE….as long as she stood perfectly still. The problem was when she moved. LIke any 3- year-old, she had to RUN to each house. Of course, as her *loving* mother, I *patiently* encouraged her to *take it easy.* I think it went something like this:

HANNAH! Quit running! Stay here! ”
“HANNAH!!! You are MESSING YOUR HAIR UP.”
“HANNAH!!!! Come here so I can fix your hair. NOW!”

Oh my God.

About 3 houses later, it hit me: What the HELL was I doing? I was chasing my 3-year old in a frantic and misguided attempt to CONTROL — her hair. That was my “come to Jesus” moment for sure. At least in THAT arena. I made a solemn vow that I would STOP being so neurotic about things that didn’t matter, (as long as it only pertained to Hannah’s hair, apparently! Everything else was still fair game.)

So, I pulled out the bobby pins and said, “Baby, go have fun.” Which she did.

That might sound like a happy turn of events, but what I didn’t mention is the fact that inside I was boiling over in frustration, filching Snickers and 3-Musketeers from her pumpkin after each house:

Why can’t she just hold still? Her hair looked so beautiful and I spent *so much time* on it? People are going to wonder what kind of a mother I am, sending my kid around looking like such a scruff muffin…”

Parent at door: Oh, don’t you look ADORABLE?! Who are you supposed to be?”

Me: Well, she is Belle, from Beauty and the Beast, but her hair fell. It looked so pretty a few minutes ago. But you now how little urchins can be….”

Okay, that doesn’t sound like a recovered ANYTHING. I just stopped trying to control my kid and tried to control everybody who opened the door!

Fast forward a few years.

We go camping with our friends and family. It’s always a big to-do; a huge — well-organized — affair with exquisitely planned MEALS and events! I always pre-reserve sites, so there won’t be ANY SURPRISES when we get there.

Only…there always ARE surprises. We always end up in a campsite with a big rolling trashcan (the one that everyone in the loop uses for their garbage), or a telephone pole. Our trees are always lacking shade, and the site isn’t level, so we have to sleep rolling downhill. And no one likes to eat when I say it’s time to eat: “Be back in time for dinner!! No later than 7, okay?”

Are you noticing a trend here? A sick pattern?

I was ruining everyone’s time in my endeavor to CONTROL the situation. Instead of just going with the flow — rolling with the punches — I would get bent out of shape, like someone had intentionally hollowed my insides out with a spoon. Nothing to do but EAT to make it feel better. Fortunately, I always had Red Vines, Double Stuff Oreos and BBQ Ruffles potato chips to assuage the pain. There was always plenty of bacon in the morning, extra blueberry pancakes, and s’mores after dinner. There was always room to stuff my frustrations way down so I could “fully enjoy” myself.

The only problem was, I didn’t enjoy myself. I stayed behind in camp while everyone else was off hiking, biking and exploring. I would carefully (and gracelessly) climb down out of the motorhome (trying not to fall and sprain my ankle — for the umpteenth time) and lumber over to my big-butt beach chair. There, I’d pop open my 13th can of Diet Pepsi and flip through one of the 17 gossip magazines I’d brought along for entertainment.

“Look at her — she is WAY too thin! Please! Who looks like that? ‘Lose 10 pounds in 1 week!’ — Are you kidding me? I have to lose 200 pounds…nobody has only ’10 pounds’ to lose. Piffle.”

And on it went, until my family was late returning for dinner — which would allow me to get all worked up. Again. And I’d eat some other junk I’d stashed in the cupboard (like Zingers).

Fortunately, through the help of my very best friend in the entire world (Jan), I began to see the error of my ways. Now, understand that I didn’t realize how cancerous the behavior was to my psyche; I only understood what it was doing to those whom I loved. So, my motivation to correct the crippling behavior was borned from my desire not to hurt OTHERS; It had nothing to do with HELPING myself.

Whatever the case, I made a solemn vow that I would NOT have nuclear meltdowns all over everybody when something didn’t turn out as I’d perfectly planned. If it didn’t “fit my picture” then I’d paint a new one.

Here’s how it looked in application: When we’d roll up to a campground, and the site would be “less-than-perfect,” my initial reaction would always be one of intense unhappiness and frustration. But, rather than letting it ALL out all over everybody, I would stop for a beat, take a deep breath, clench my fists, and announce, “Okay. I’m going to need about X minutes calm down. Just go about your business, and I’ll be with you soon.” The amount of time required to talk myself back away from the ledge would vary, depending upon the “severity” of the campground or situation. If it was “really bad”, I’d need 30 minutes.

Of course, my family members would protest, but I’d tell them that if they wanted me to enjoy myself, they needed to back off until I could come to terms with the situation. They were to “carry on” with their business until I was feeling human again.

So, I’d sit there and talk myself through it. Sometimes, I’d pace. Sometimes I’d stop and grouse. I’d say things out loud, like,

This really SUCKS! I HATE THIS! It’s not FAIR.”
And then, I’d say, “But…it’s okay. It doesn’t fit my picture, so I’ll create a new picture.”

“But I wanted a BEAUTIFUL campsite with a bubbling brook running along side it.”
“But running water brings mosquitoes. It’s better this way.”

Over and over I’d repeat things like, “It doesn’t fit your picture, but it’s going to be okay. No one else saw the picture you painted in your head. Only YOU know what you expected. They had other expectations, but they are fine with the reality. Everyone is having a good time. You need to mellow out so everyone will enjoy themselves. Don’t ruin everyone’s time. Calm down, It’s going to be okay.”

At some point, I’d tell myself I was done being cranky and it was time to move on. Whether or not I actually FELT done was of no consequence. 20 or 30 minutes was sufficient and it was time to grow up, move on and deal with reality.

And so it would go.

When they were late for dinner, I’d just told myself that we’d eat at 10 PM.

It didn’t always work, but it was better than it had been before, and people seemed to have a better time without me raining on their parade like Eeyore.

Of course, what I didn’t do was cope with the reasons behind my discontentment, and I didn’t deal with my reaction to force-feed the bad feelings away. So, during the time I tried to “cure” myself of my crippling negativity, I ballooned to 316 pounds.

And then I had weight loss surgery and I couldn’t eat the lack of control away. I had to find a better tool. I had to realize the error of my ways once and for all. I had to quash those negative feelings dead in their tracks and replace them with truly positive ones. I had to reshape my actions into something healthy, rather than destructive.

Now, I’d love to tell you that I have perfected this art form — but as we all know, perfection is impossible and is a convenient way we set ourselves up to fail. Obviously, if perfection is unattainable, then making that the goal is self-defeating.

Anyway, I haven’t killed the beast of CONTROL, but I have won more battles than I’ve lost. As a matter of fact, up until 2 nights ago, I can’t remember the last time I unwisely decided to cope with my unhappiness by consuming an entire box of Jujubees. I can tell myself that I had a very good reason for eating myself into a post-gastric-bypass-coma. I can tell myself that sleeping in the fetal position all night was the perfect solution to my despair.

But it wasn’t, and everybody knows that.

So, I had a couple of really bad days, and then I awoke this morning, looking forward to my therapy session (Jim will get an earful from me!) and realizing that only I can control my actions.

The bottom line is: I can’t control HOW I feel, but I sure can control what I DO.

So, I’m still a recovering control freak with OCD tendencies. I still try to make things as “perfect” as they can be — but then I step back and let reality take over.

Sometimes, as you can see, I do better than others 😉 Fighting for control, like maintaining a 170 pound weight loss, is a war that is never permanently won. It must be fought anew each day — and maybe even each hour. But, with each victory, comes the knowledge that there is hope and the battle is worth fighting.

March 29, 2013   No Comments

I Just Wasn’t the Person I Wanted to Be

Originally published on GastricBypassBarbie.com in September 2009. 

I Wasn’t Bad. I Just Wasn’t Who I Wanted to Be.

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I have a very, very dear friend (we go back 30 years) who has always been there for me whenever I have needed him. He is the truest sort of friend, because he says what I need to hear precisely when I need to hear it. He was my knight in shining armor when I was young and impetuous, gallantly swooping in to save me from the travails of young adulthood with a cold wine cooler, a soft shoulder and a waiting ear.

Mostly, I think, he saved me from myself.

He never asks for a single thing in return, (which is good, because I cannot imagine a single thing I could do for him), and I always wonder what value he sees in me as a friend. Through it all, he tells me I’m as dear to him as he is to me, and for some strange reason, I believe him.

We “dated” for an entire 3 months when we I was “15-1/2” and he was 16. We might have lasted longer, had he not lived 20 miles away (in a different area code) and cared so much “more” about soccer and his friends. In other words, he was a typical 16-year old guy.

We had met at Knott’s Berry Farm when I was 13-1/2 and he was 14. I was chunky and going through my ugly duckling phase. He was cute as a button (surfer blond, blue eyes, typical Southern California hottie.) We wrote letters back and forth for awhile, but then that stopped. Remember: This predates unlimited long distance phone calling, email and cell phones, so writing letters was a really big deal.

Time passed and we found ourselves starting high school. I lost my 20 pounds of baby fat over the summer, got my braces off and was sorority-girl cute. I gave him an innocent (yet, scandalous) call, *casually* mentioning my weight loss (and braces, of course!) — I was about as subtle as a heart attack.

He invited me and my friend to meet him at the mall (which we promptly did), and from there, it was an invitation to Knott’s for his birthday, a little smooching and hand holding, and before we knew it, we were boyfriend and girlfriend. (At least for 3 more months.)

It was a fairly amicable breakup and we stayed in touch, constantly flirting with the idea of giving it another go, yet just missing (since one or the other was usually in some sort of a relationship.) The one thing I know is this: he was always there to pick up the pieces from my “failed relationships” and “drama-queen life”, NEVER judged me as my weight began to increase, and always loved me for who I was — even if I didn’t believe him.

Eventually, I met an amazing man whom I would marry, thus, any rumblings of a possible rekindling were roundly silenced forever. My friend graciously DJ’d our wedding reception. and a few years later, when he met an amazing girl, we brought our little 4-year-old to his wedding. Through it all, we managed to keep in touch and fell into a comfortable stride with our friendship.

About 12 years ago, he developed cancer and we very nearly lost him — twice. Thank God he beat it and is still in remission! But, I remember that call from his wife, telling me he was in the ICU at Memorial Hospital — about 5 minutes from my house. I have a hard time admitting this, but I actually hesitated going to see him because I was fat! I seriously contemplated NOT seeing him when he needed me most, all because of my shallow insecurities.

Fortunately, I ignored them and went anyway, and he — in his inimitable fashion — complimented me on how great I looked.

Typical Mike.

After that, it was more pounds and fewer visits. At one point, we met for lunch — but I brought my daughter along as a distraction. His email to me that afternoon was “you looked beautiful, as always.” Even though I’d warned him that I was “really heavy,” he insisted that it wasn’t the outside that mattered; he loved me for who I WAS and NOT what I look like.

I tried to believe him, but how could I believe him when I didn’t believe myself? If I didn’t think I was beautiful, how could anyone else? I was convinced the cancer had affected both his vision and sense of reason.

That lunch was about 4 years ago. In the ensuing years, I’ve had 4 surgeries, lost my weight, rebuilt my body, and learned to live life as a thin person. He’s been one of my biggest champions — cheering me on with every updated picture I’d send. All the while, he continued to tell me that, though he was immensely proud of my success, I was no more beautiful now than I ever was before. Again, I doubted his ability to think clearly.

So, today he asked me about my before and after pictures — you know, the ones where I’m standing in one leg of my fat pants? Interestingly, I haven’t actually TAKEN that one yet, but I told him that I thought my befores were “icky” and they really bothered me. I told him they made me want to cry when I saw them.

He replied that he didn’t like his cancer pics either — especially when he was purple from head to toe and bald, to boot. But he still looks at them to reinforce the fact that he is no longer in that situation. He does not like to look at them, but he uses them as reminders of what his life could still be like. He says it reminds him to be happy now that he is no longer that other person.

But, he didn’t leave it at that.

He continued:

Sweetheart:
Be very proud of yourself today,
but do not believe that what you were was bad.
It was just not who you wanted to be.
And you were never not loved,
no matter what you looked like.
Trust me on this one.

The words are so powerful, yet so simple:

I was not bad. I just wasn’t the person I wanted to be.
I was always loved, even when I didn’t believe it.

I guess it’s time for me to stop hating that morbidly obese girl I once was.

She was neither unlovable nor unloved.
She just wasn’t the person I wanted to be.

I will strive to remember those precious words every day; especially as I fight to be the person I have become, while learning to love the person I once was.

March 21, 2013   3 Comments

Survivor’s Guilt & That TV Show

Have you ever watched INTERVENTION on A&E? It’s a program where addicts, who are (ostensibly) unaware that they will soon be facing an intervention with their family and loved ones, are given the chance to go to inpatient rehabilitation to learn how to treat their disease. The ultimate goal is for the addict and loved ones to enter recovery together, but that doesn’t always happen. In the majority of episodes, the family doesn’t go to treatment themselves, even when they are offered a chance to attend the Betty Ford Clinic. Of course, this decision doesn’t help the addict, who often returns from their 90-day program to the same, unhealthy system they left.

As a viewer, it’s incredibly frustrating.
As a food addict, it’s downright frightening.

I don’t know about you, but when I watch that show, it all seems so clear…and so easy. I mean, you watch the addict and you think, “STOP THAT. JUST STOP IT.” And then you watch the family, and you think, “STOP THAT. JUST STOP IT.”

Meanwhile, the addict continues to abuse the substance while the family continues to enable the addict to do so, and the whole thing just makes you throw your hands up and yell, “WHY CAN’T YOU SEE WHAT I SEE???”

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve sat there (MexiKen, Hannah and I), talking to the television. We say things as if the people on the show can actually hear us: “C’mon! How could you possibly think you’re not an addict? Look at yourself! You need help! You can get better! Just say ‘Yes.’” And then we talk to the enablers, and say, “Can’t you see what you’re doing? Isn’t it obvious? You’re not helping! You’re part of the problem! Stop that!”

And then, at the end of the show, we learn whether the addict chooses rehab or not, and…we cry. We hear that music, and we just cry, because we hope that they will make it. Now, since we have a DVR, we always pause to take a round robin of everyone on the couch.

“So…did they make it, or not? What do you think?”

So often, we are wrong. And that’s great – as long as we thought they didn’t make it and learn that they did. It’s those times where we absolutely thought they’d make it, but learn that they didn’t…those are the times that make us really sad.

You know…it’s those words that scroll across the screen at the end of the show…with the sad music. “Jane left recovery after 15 days and has begun using again.” Or, “John was asked to leave the program after 29-days. He has returned to life on the streets. His mom continues to pay his cell phone bill.” Ugh.

It is tragic and frustrating to watch, because IT SEEMS SO EASY ON TV.

But then…I think about my own life. I think about the challenges of being in recovery from obesity. I think about my food addiction, and I realize that I will fight my disease for the rest of my life. I hope it will become easier over time, but for now, it is a daily job, just to stay in recovery…to stay on track.

I know that my own family and friends are willing me to succeed; silently yelling at me like we yell at the TV: “C’mon, Cari! You can do this! Just don’t eat too much of that, work out over here, stay on track, you look great!”

And, you know what? I don’t disagree. I CAN do this. I AM worth it. I DO look (and feel) great. However, it’s not that easy, as anyone who shares my struggle will affirm. There is a huge community of people who battle the same demons. Some battle obesity; others battle both obesity and addiction; most have chosen to treat their obesity through surgery, but many choose to ignore their addiction…

Why? Why not complete the treatment? Why not FIX the problem, instead of ignoring it??? Do they think that since no one can “see” their disease anymore, they don’t have to worry about anything else? I can’t say for sure, and won’t venture to guess, but I know this: Sometimes, I have Survivor’s Guilt.

I think the weight loss surgery community is cyclical, like the Lion King and the Circle Of Life. With each passing year, I see people disappear…evaporate…leave the community. The old king goes away to die. BUT, I see others join (a new baby is born!)
And everything is okay. For awhile.

People lose weight.
People regain weight.
People maintain weight.
People re-lose what they regain.
People develop addictions.
People get sick.
People leave.

It feels like…INTERVENTION. I’m watching that show, and I’m screaming at my computer when someone doesn’t “make it.” I’m screaming that they can do it…not to give up…to be strong. I’m thinking…that could be me – There’s a reason, in recovery circles, they say, “There, but for the Grace of God go I.” There’s a reason they say “Easy does it,” and “One day at a time.”

It’s too hard to think 90-days down the road.
Heck, it’s too hard to think about tomorrow.

But, that Survivor’s Guilt. That’s how it feels to be the lone survivor in a plane crash. Obesity is my plane crash…it’s devastating and deadly. I look to the left, and I look to the right, and I think to myself, “That could have been me. If I’d done X, I’d have set the wheels in motion to regain my weight. If I’d done Y, I’d have jump-started my food addiction…” And then, of course, I realize this is not healthy thinking, so I set it aside in favor of better throughts. I think about what I’m doing well. I think about how grateful I am that I have stayed the course (for today) and am working my program; trusting the process. I am thankful for my growth and the peace that comes with it.

But, that doesn’t stop my heart from aching for those whom I know are suffering and feeling like failures. I realize that our community is a lot like…well…just about any other community. Whether it’s an AA meeting, with people coming and going, newly recovered, and newly relapsed…or a circle of friends who are newly married, newly divorced, newly single – whatever. People make choices, things happen, and we do our best to survive and thrive.

I know that I can’t change what other people do with their lives, and I know I can’t make them think the way I think, but that doesn’t stop me from WANTING to.

I think my message for today is this: We must never lose hope for ourselves, and others who are on this journey. We must always believe that recovery is not only possible, it’s happening – all around us. I know, I know…I used the “must” word…BUT, I feel strongly about this, so that’s why I’m saying it.

It’s like the 80’s band, Journey said: Don’t Stop Believin’.

I’ll leave you with this: If you’ve relapsed in your Bariatric After Life™, consider this your personal intervention. It’s never too late to do the next best thing. Happy Recovery, guys…

June 29, 2012   4 Comments

The Scale: Friend or Foe?

Another one from the archives. This one ran back in September of 2009. I reread it and…guess what? I still believe it! Are you letting your scale judge you? ~ Cari

The Scale


I don’t know about you, but in my past life, the scale was my enemy. And I don’t just mean the scale on the floor that you step on…barefoot…and naked…first thing in the morning…to make sure you are at your absolute feather-lightest. I’m talking about ALL scales, (which includes the stupid Weight Watchers scale you put on your counter top to weigh apples on. Is it a medium apple? A small apple? A large apple? Of course, it was *always* a small apple, wasn’t it?)

For 40 years, my experience with THE SCALE was negative — Heck, I weighed 11 lbs. 6 oz. at birth, where did I expect to go from there? The frustrating thing is, it never showed me what I wanted to see. The “points” value on the food scale was always higher than I expected and my weight value was never as low as I expected.

  • Why couldn’t I make that scale like me?
  • Why did it hate me so much?
  • How could I make it lie to me so I’d feel better?

That scale was judge, jury and executioner — no two ways about it. Good news NEVER came from a scale and I never measured up. My value and self-worth were inexorably tied to the scale.

But that was then. How do I feel about scales now that I’m living a successful bariatric AFTER LIFE?

In the beginning, in the honeymoon period after surgery, the scale was my very best friend. It would whisper sweet nothings into my ear just about every day: “You lost another 5 pounds! You are good and wonderful and successful! You are worthy or value and praise. People love and admire you because of your amazing achievement! Cari is GOOD.”

Over time, the scale stopped giving me new news and started telling me the same, tired old story. Day after day, the number never changed. But, that was still okay (no news is good news) and the scale was still my buddy.

One day, the scale told me that I weighed 137 pounds. This was titillating — for about a week. Then I realized that I couldn’t find any clothes that fit me unless I wandered over to the “Junior” department. Even then, it was a challenge. So, I was in conflict. Was the scale telling me I was GOOD or BAD?

As time wore on, people began to tell me how skinny I was, that I was too thin and looked anorexic; they didn’t think I looked fabulous anymore. The scale stopped being my BFF and started being that familiar enemy again. Cari was BAD.

But, just as it always had before, our relationship took a turn for the best and, eventually, as I started to gain weight again, the scale and I rekindled our magical romance. 145! 145! 145! It said. Cari is GOOD. Cari is GOOD. Cari is GOOD.

And then it happened.

That fickle scale told me something I didn’t want to know (even though I had asked). It had the audacity to show me I weighed 150 pounds! Maybe it was broken? But then it started fibbing and giving me even bigger numbers…151…152..153.6. In no time at all I felt bad about myself AND my scale.

And then it hit me: The scale is neither friend, nor enemy; it delivers neither good, nor bad news. It is not a judge, and does not determine my worth or value. It simply gives me a number. What I assign to that number is in my control. How much power I give to it, how much authority it has over me, how much value it deserves — it’s all up to me.

Awhile back, I had determined that I would like to weigh no more than 150 and would try to stay within a 5-pound range. Anything between 145 and 150 would be great. That’s because I feel most comfortable at around 145, but realize that “sometimes” I’m going to weigh a little more, due to water retention or muscle growth, or whatever. So, when I found myself outside that range (higher, not lower) I started an LPT (liquid protein train). I decided that my priorities were off kilter and I had begun to give entirely too much authority to food. I was eating too much, too fast, too late and trying to compensate by exercising like a fiend. I reasoned that the LPT would reset the meter, help me regain balance and perspective, and prove that I would no longer be controlled by food again.

Since I began this journey Sunday morning (so, 3-1/2 days ago) I am happy to report that I feel powerful, happy, balanced and focused. Overall, it has been a very rewarding and positive experience.

And the scale? Oh, it tried to whisper sweet nothings into my ear again this morning, but I relegated it to the corner, where it belongs.

You see, I’ve decided that I will no longer use the scale to determine if I “measure” up, decide if I’m GOOD or BAD, or assess my value or self worth. Instead, I will use it as a roadmap to show me how far I’ve come, where I am now, and how far I have to go. After all, a road map is neither positive nor negative; good nor bad. It simply IS. Or maybe my scale will be like those scales you see in the marketplace. Something that should be BALANCED, not weighted more heavily on one side than the other. I mean, isn’t that the goal of life? To achieve homeostasis — balance? Hmmmm….

  • What does your scale look like/
  • How much power have you given it over your life?
  • Does your scale judge you?
  • Is the number on the scale merely a number, or does it determine your self-worth?
  • Is your scale in balanced, or constantly shifting?
  • What does your scale mean to you?

I welcome your comments. Otherwise, I’ll think I’m the only woman on the planet who ever had a love-hate relationship with her scale…

June 26, 2012   6 Comments

Faster. Stronger. Higher. Farther. NOT.

This article was originally published on Gastric Bypass Barbie in August 2009, but I reread it and noticed that…I’m still the same girl: Not the front of the pack; not the back of the pack…just right 😉 Feel free to read, enjoy and comment!

Exercise in the Bariatric After Life™
Celebrating My Limitations

I’ve discovered something fascinating about myself:  When it comes to physical exertion — I’m not speedy, I don’t have a lot of endurance, and I’m pretty much just middle of the road.

  • If you’re looking for explosive bursts of speed, or incredible bouts of endurance: I’m NOT your girl.
  • If you don’t need the greatest strength or the most sweat: I AM your girl.
  • If you want me to show up with a smile on my face, give it my best effort, and promise me I won’t die trying: I’m your girl.
  • If it’s going to hurt a little: I AM your girl.
  • If it’s going to hurt a LOT: I’m probably NOT your girl.

On the plus side, I am persistent, fairly consistent, and learning to be less resistant.

So why am I sharing all of this? Well, I had this epiphany about my “limitations” (or shall I say “realities?”) while I was riding my bike with hubby the other morning before work. We rode 15 miles in an hour, which means that we weren’t breaking any land speed records, and I wasn’t “leaving it all on the trail” either. I guess I was moving along and a consistently decent and fairly quick clip, but didn’t kill myself doing it.

So, is that good or bad? Is it good that I don’t like to push myself too hard? Am I letting myself off easy, or just making sure I don’t overdo it (and wind up quitting, because it’s too hard or I end up hurting myself?)

Like the other night: MexiKen and I were out for an evening walk and, as usual, we weren’t speed walking (or running), and I wasn’t swinging my arms wildly. We were just walking –  faster than a crawl, but slower than a sprint.

I commented that:

  1. I should never walk if I’m in a hurry to actually “get” anywhere.
  2. I should not expect the scenery to change quickly.
  3. I should focus on the WALK and not the WALKING.
  4. I probably won’t be breaking any “distance” records any time soon because I get bored quite easily.

So, what do I do with this knowledge? Well, as I continue to transform myself in this Bariatric After Life — mentally, physically and emotionally — I think it’s important to regularly self-assess; to take stock in how I think and feel about exercise, especially since I never exercised before. I think this keeps me grounded and on track, but also gives me room for growth. It’s the same as introspection and reflection on emotional stuff — I need to know what makes me tick so I can exploit my strengths and not be hamstrung by my weaknesses.

In the past, I spent a great deal of time and mental energy comparing myself to others. Typically, I didn’t measure up and fell short because they were prettier, skinnier, richer, healthier, happier, smarter — whatever-er.

As I lost weight after my WLS, I kept comparing myself, but now I began to see that I was “as thin as…,” or “as pretty as…” or “as worthwhile as…” — but I still struggled with being “as fit as…” or as “physically talented as…” — Instead of running my own race (literally and figuratively), I was measuring my own accomplishments against others’ and coming to the conclusion that I was falling short and not keeping up with them! If someone else was doing more RPMs on the elliptical machine, I was not worthy; if someone else was able to kick higher at power tae, I was not worthy; if someone else could run a marathon (and I couldn’t run for 1 minute), I was not worthy; if someone else was able to ride farther on their bike, I was not worthy. It didn’t matter that I was doing 45 minutes of good, hard work on the elliptical, or riding 30 miles on my bike, or walking 5 miles, or kicking as high as I could for an hour at power tae.  In my estimation, I was “less than…” (again.)

I invalidated everything I was accomplishing if it didn’t measure up to what others were accomplishing. Fortunately, I realized that this was destructive and counterproductive and, with this latest epiphany, I have begun to right some debilitating and crippling wrongs.

Here’s what I know:

  • I am who I am.
  • I am good, and getting better.
  • I have limitations; some are permanent, others can be corrected with time and effort.
  • Life is not a race, and I’m not in competition with anyone else.
  • As long as I work hard at improving my abilities, whenever and wherever possible, then I’m making progress.
  • If I never run a 5K or swim a mile, I’m okay.*
*I have walked a 5K and I’m a reasonably good dog-paddeler.

 

At the end of the day, I’m happy with my second chance at living, and have learned to spend my days dreaming of new and wonderful ways to use my improved body.

Just this weekend, MexiKen and I went to REI and bought some hiking boots and a book with 100’s of California Hiking trails. There are details about the trails, difficulty, distance and length of time required to complete the hikes. We cannot WAIT to get out there and explore our Golden State. Oh, and if I DON’T finish the hike in the time mentioned in the book, that’s okay! I’m going at my own pace 🙂

Life is good, and getting better;  and, it’s okay that I probably won’t be crossing the finish line first…because, hey, I probably won’t be crossing it LAST, either!

Does all of this mean that I will live my life settling for mediocrity? Nope. It means that, now that I know who I am:

  • I  celebrate my success.
  • I strive for greater success — at my own speed.
  • I do not compare my success to others.

Are you fully celebrating your limitations? Why not shoot me a comment and let me know how “limited” you are? LOL.

June 25, 2012   1 Comment

Ampersands & Addiction

Call it cleansing, or organizing, or restructuring — call it whatever you want, but since we moved (for the first time in 18 years), I’ve been in something of a reminiscent sorta-mood. So much so that I decided to go back into the Barbie Archives and pull out some of my favorite blogs. This one never got much “airplay” because I didn’t have much of a readership then, so I’m hoping it will find new legs with my Facebook Friends! Enjoy what I originally wrote in 2009…It’s still good. I mean it! – Cari

This & That: Nearly Derailed By An Ampersand*

 

*An “ampersand” is the proper name of the symbol you use between two, separate items, to make them one, compound item:  “Salt & Pepper,” “Bert & Ernie,” and “Tea & Crumpetts”

“University study finds ampersands leading cause of obesity in US;

poor use of punctuation mark linked to high BMIs.”

 

Can you imagine surfing the web one day and seeing that headline on a major news site like Foxnews.com or CNN.com?


Okay, I know that headline sounds silly, but here’s where I’m going with it: Yesterday I caught myself musing that I should be eating a donut with my decaf coffee!While I did not act on this impulse, it did get me thinking: What caused me to make the gigantic leap from “coffee” to “donuts” so quickly? I thought I was cured of those temptations. Maybe I’d forgotten about that neatly paved, well-marked, 5-lane wide, permanent “coffee & donuts”  neuro-pathway in my brain. Whatever the case, as it turns out, the ampersand problem was much bigger than donuts.

The longer I thought about it, the more I realized this innocent little punctuation mark could actually mean the difference between success and sabotage in my weight loss After Life!  I mean, it’s not like overusing a comma, or something, where someone just has pause a little longer! This deceptively simple little squiggly mark (just above the number “7” on your keyboard) has the power to permanently combine two, separate things, and turn them into one, potentially dangerous combination!

If that sounds melodramatic, think about this: We are conditioned from the moment we are born to experience food in “twos” (applesauce & bananas, strained turkey & peas, lamb & rice). This concept continues to be reinforced as we mature: Macaroni & Cheese; Hamburgers & French Fries, Ice Cream & Apple Pie. Eventually, we are convinced that we cannot have one thing without the other: Steak & Lobster, Champagne & Strawberries, Bagels & Cream Cheese.

It gets to the point where we are unable to watch a movie without eating popcorn (& butter), have a campfire without making s’mores (& hot chocolate), get through Halloween without eating chocolate (& candy corn), or celebrate Christmas without baking cookies (& fudge)! Events become inexorably linked to the combination of foods we consume until eventually the memories are defined by the combination of food & event.

Morning = Coffee & Donuts. Lunch = Hamburger & French Fries. Dinner = Meat & Potatoes.

The better the combination, the better the memory. “Oh my gosh, I can’t remember a Thanskgiving where I had a yummier pumpkin pie & Cool Whip!!” “Can you remember a better Sourdough Bread Bowl & Chili than the one we at at that little restaurant in San Francisco?” “Those BBQ ribs at the company picnic would have been tasteless without those bake beans!” And on it goes….

Armed with this revelation, I decided to make a quick list of common food pairings,  just so I could see how pervasive the ampersand problem was. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Peanut Butter & Jelly
  • Lime & Tequila
  • Bacon & Eggs
  • Beer & Pretzels
  • Spaghetti & Meatballs
  • Hamburgers & French Fries
  • Nachos & Salsa
  • Coffee & Donuts
  • Coke & A Smile <– that’s only 1/2 bad
  • FIsh & Chips
  • Cake & Ice Cream
  • Cheese & Crackers
  • Bagels & Cream Cheese
  • Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
  • Turkey & Stuffing
  • Pork Chops & Applesauce (any Peter Brady fans out there?)
  • Curds & Whey <– Hey, that’s a good one!
  • Peas & Carrots <– healthy!
  • Popcorn & Movies
  • Chips and Dip
  • Corned Beef & Cabbage
  • Mom & Apple Pie <– Again, 1/2 of this is okay
  • Buffalo Wings & Ranch Dressing
  • Latte & Biscotti
  • Champagne & Strawberries
  • Biscuits & Gravy
  • Pancakes & Sausage
  • Green Eggs & Ham <– Dr. Seuss fans?
  • Vanilla Ice Cream & Hersheys Syrup
  • Dinner & Dessert

 

Did any of those resonate with you? I’m guessing you can come up with about a hundred more “combos”, but here’s what I want you to do: Take a moment to think about how often that little ampersand has threatened to undermined your post weight loss success.  Did the necessity of unhealthful food combos nearly derail your family gathering or holiday experience?

  • When you planned your 4th of July event, did you automatically include hot dogs & buns?
  • Last Thanksgiving, did you insist on eating turkey & stuffing (because you deserved it)?
  • Did your Super Bowl party experience include buffalo chicken wings & ranch dressing?

Now that you know about this little ampersand, how will it shape your future? Here’s what I think: To be successful in this WLS After Life, we have to begin recognizing, accepting and breaking those old habits that revolve around things we THOUGHT were eating imperatives. Old habits die hard, so this will take some brain power; but like mindful eating, we must learn to identify those ampersands before they sabotage our success!

I say we kick that ampersand to the curb and replace it with an EXCLAMATION POINT!!!! What do you think?

May 29, 2012   4 Comments

I Was Never A Girl Scout

FROM THE BARBIE ARCHIVES…Originally published August 17, 2009 on Gastric Bypass Barbie. 

Maybe There’s a Reason I Stopped at “Brownie”?


©Smithsonian Institution Press

I was a Brownie, but quit before I became a Girl Scout (always a bridesmaid, never a bride?). At the time, I said it was because I was too shy to participate, but I remember that I was always confused by all of the rules and regulations for “earning badges.” Okay, in my defense, I was only about 6, but even then, I struggled to be prepared — and find knee socks that actually fit all the way to my knees! (Yes, even THEN I was cursed with Kankles.)

In retrospect, I can see the beginnings of a bunch of really bad habits:

  1. Feeling inadequate in the face of new ideas and tasks
  2. Disliking the need for preparedness
  3. Being worried about the future, and whether or not I would succeed.
  4. Hating the idea of merit badges. (Okay, I’m not sure how bad that one turned out to be in my real life, but seriously, that one always bugged me. Especially when my MOM had to stitch them to my sash. C’mon! Wasn’t there a “sewing” badge???)

The reason I bring this up is, I got to thinking (worrying?) about the future, and I realized that there are lots of different ways to entertain these thoughts. There are healthy ways (preparation, anticipation) and unhealthy ways (vexation, hesitation), and which ways I choose will determine my success in the gastric bypass after life.

Here are some phrases that came to mind when I started thinking about the future:

  • Anticipation
  • Hesitation
  • Preparation
  • Trepidation
  • Vexation
  • Exhilaration
  • Procrastination
  • Celebration

Interesting mix of ideas, don’t you agree? Not surprisingly, many post-ops (myself included) worry that we will “regain all of our weight” and that somehow we will “fail” after bariatric surgery. How is it that *some* people DO regain their weight, and *some* do NOT? I’m thinking that it has to do with the way in which we view the future. Do we view it with trepidation (fear, anxiety, worry), or with preparation (planned success)? It’s kind of weird, when you think about it. I mean, surgery gave us a second chance at life. In many cases, it eliminated serious, debilitating, even life-threatening conditions. So, why should our vision of the future be one of angst, turmoil and unhappiness? Shouldn’t we embrace the future with dreams, goals, and visions of sweet success?

Ahh, if only it were that easy.

So, how do we go from FEAR to ANTICIPATION? Here is my thinking on the matter:

I say the first step is PLANNING: If we PLAN to succeed, then we will do what it takes to make it happen. We have to visualize ourselves living a successful and healthy After Life before we can achieve it.

Next is PREPARATION: Once we’ve PLANNED to succeed, it’s time to lay the groundwork, build the foundation for success through careful PREPARATION. This takes the form of pre-measuring our foods, creating menus, bringing protein and fluid with us when we run errands, and even scheduling exercise.

Next is ANTICIPATION: Shouldn’t we be excited about our plans and preparation? We should awaken each day with verve, vigor and enthusiasm for the coming day. We should know that we are READY for whatever the day will bring, and will succeed because we have PLANNED and PREPARED — even for the unexpected!

Finally, is CELEBRATION: We have to ACKNOWLEDGE our successes and celebrate the victories (small, big, scale and non-scale). Life is about living. It’s about experiencing joy (along with suffering). I think a big part of success in the After lIfe is being aware enough to notice when great things are happening in our lives.

Unfortunately, being the flawed humans that we are, life is not all happiness and joy; it throws us curve balls and unexpected drama. Anyone can succeed in calm seas; it’s what happens when the tide is high, winds are strong, and waves are crashing all around us that determines our grit. How do we deal with the inevitable vexation, trepidation, hesitation and procrastination? I guess if I had the answer to that, I’d be a millionaire, but I do have a few thoughts:

1) Marinating in my woes only serves to make them stronger (just like it does when we marinate a steak!) So, like I learned when my Dad passed away, it’s okay to be sad for a time, but when one sad thought begets another…and another, it’s time to stop being sad. In other words, it’s time to stop marinating in worry, and move on to more productive things (like remembering successes — or good times, as in the case of my pop.)

2) Worry doesn’t solve anything (and makes your face wrinkly!) I’m working on “letting stuff go” rather than laying awake at night worrying about what “could” or “might” happen. When the worry sets in, I try to focus on things that give me joy — like hiking with my hubby, wearing really cute (tiny) clothing, feeling healthy, and being able to get up EARLY!

3) Put more energy into planning and less into procrastinating. Now, I’ll admit, being a world-class procrastinator is NOT an easy thing to overcome, so it’s something I struggle with just about every day. But, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so I just keep plugging along, hoping for the best (but bracing for the worst!)

4) Living in the moment (the here and now) is way more fun than the uncertainty of what was or might be. I must remember to taste each bite, breathe through each high kick in aerobics, feel the breeze in my face while I’m strolling with Juan, and soak up the sun when I’m out on my bike. That is exhilaration. That is the goal of an Gastric Bypass After Life worth living.

So, where does that leave me now — today? I guess you could say I’m: Planning, Preparing, and Anticipating Happiness, while Exhilarating and Celebrating Every Day Life and banishing any hint of Vexing, Hesitation, Trepidation, or desire for Procrastination.

That’s a tall order, and sadly, there’s no such thing as a “Bariatric Badge” — but maybe there should be!

How about these?

  • Protein Patch (for meeting daily protein intake goals)
  • Salad Badge (for making amazing salads — why not?)
  • Carb Badge (for recognizing good carbs from bad carbs)
  • Timed Bites Patch (for waiting 5-10 minutes between bites — can you lose this badge or earn demerits???)
  • Hydration Patch (for getting your fluids in — but not at the same time as you eat!)
  • Vitamin Patch (for taking supplements every day, even when the chewable vitamins taste yucky and the iron stops you up!)
  • Exercise Badge (for living an active lifestyle — every day!)

Can you think of anymore Bariatric Badges for my sash? Let me know; I’d love to hear!

March 24, 2012   4 Comments

Perspective

Another one from the archives. I always liked this one because it made me look at myself, my life and my world from a positive perspective. It truly changed my attitude and helped get me through some rough times…Enjoy the repost. – Cari

A New Perspective: What I Learned From
A Guy Named Chet and a ’71 Ford Truck

A funny thing happened at the plastic surgeon’s office a few days ago; I got handed a fistful of “before” surgery pictures and wanted to cry. Not tears of happiness. No, I was genuinely mortified by the images staring back at me.

  • Why wasn’t I happy to see my amazing transformation?
  • Why couldn’t I see how far I’ve come?
  • Why didn’t I understand that I don’t even remember those arms or those breasts?

Well, for starters, I look old and haggard (because I didn’t realize my face would be included in the shots, so I wasn’t smiling), I have a turkey waddle under my chin, and worse – my body is skinny, bony and downright ugly. I realize these are harsh words, (especially coming from someone who supposedly has a good self-image of her new body), but those are the words that came to mind.

On the one hand, I was thankful that the droopy, deflated breasts are no longer hanging around, and my wingspan has been replaced with lovely, toned arms – but I just couldn’t erase the picture of the person with the non-existent hips, bony shoulders and boyish frame.

That is, until an enlightening little conversation with a “wise guy” from my Thursday night support group. We couples (he and his wife, and my hubby and I) were taking in a show at the theater downtown. While waiting to take our seats, I happened to mention my eye-opening experience.

Well, Dave (that’s the wise-guy’s name) thought about what I’d said, and offered this sage tale (to see if it might strike a chord):

Way back when Dave was a skinny young kid, he had a neighbor named Chet. Now, Chet was a funny guy who loved drinking beer and washing and waxing his beloved 1971 Ford F-150 truck with camper shell every single Saturday. The odd thing is, Chet only ever waxed the hood. (Contrary to what you might have guessed, the beer had nothing to do with this seeming lack of attention to detail.)

According to Chet he just waxed the hood because that was the only part of the truck he ever saw when he was driving it.

It didn’t make sense to him to waste time, effort (and beer) waxing something he couldn’t even see.

Which brings me to my little epiphany: I have been worrying about stuff that I can’t even see – not when I’m walking, not when I’m bathing, not when I’m sitting, not when I’m driving – as a matter of fact, it’s pretty hard to see that stuff at all.

Ironically, the only way I can see it is if I’m in a try-on room with a 360º mirror, or if someone is pointing a camera at my naked self! Trust me, when I’m in the try-on room, I am not looking at my bony back – I’m looking at how fabulous my clothes look on me – and I don’t tend to indiscriminately disrobe in front of random photographers.

Which brings me to part two of my little epiphany: Would I rather look good naked or clothed? Well, since my hubby says he loves me no matter what, and my plastic surgeon doesn’t get a vote, I’m going to say that it’s best to look good clothed.

The moral of the story? I’m going to stop worrying about what’s behind me, and start concentrating on everything in front of me – like the future!

No more waxing the whole car; I’m just doing the hood – then hitting the road.

March 22, 2012   No Comments

Carpe Diem: Seize the Someday

I originally wrote this for Gastric Bypass Barbie (my first blog)  in July of 2009. You know what? I still feel the same way…even 2-1/2 years later. I hope you will enjoy this little chapter from the past — and actually seize your day…every day. – Cari

Someday is Not A Day of the Week.
Someday Does Not Appear On Any Calendar.

I remember an old email that went around a few years back. I think it apropos to reprint here:

If I had My Life to Live Over
By the late Erma Bombeck

If I had my life to live over,

  • I would have talked less and listened more.
  • I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.
  • I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.
  • I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
  • I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
  • I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.
  • I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.
  • I would have cried and laughed less while watching television – and more while watching life.
  • I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.
  • I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.
  • I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.
  • Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
  • When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.”
  • There would have been more “I love you’s”.. More “I’m sorrys” …
  • But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute… look at it and really see it … live it…and never give it back.

One of the lines I remembered most from Erma’s essay was the part about the pink sculpted candle shaped like a rose. That resonated so strongly with me at the time, because I was guilty of leaving my candles unburned. Why did I ever buy a candle if I didn’t intend to burn it? Was I waiting for a special occasion (or was I waiting for hell to freeze over?) Who knows?

One thing’s for sure, though – after reading Erma’s message, I started burning my candles (all over the furniture, and onto my good doily, thank you very much!) But, what fun I had smelling the wonderful fragrances, and basking by the soft glow with the lights turned off. After all, candles are made for burning.

So, how does this apply to WLS? Well, if you will indulge me a bit, I’m going to take a stab at rewriting Erma’s message to fit our new lives.

I Will Live the “Bariatric After Life™”
(Before I Join the After Life)

Before I leave this life to join the next, there are a few things I need to do. Since there’s no time like the present, AND, since “Someday” isn’t a day at all, I intend to begin now (and even repeat the things I like the best.)

TODAY:

  • I will not wait until my thighs stop jiggling to put on a bathing suit and go to the beach.
  • I will not beat myself up when I don’t get enough protein in one day, or eat too many carbs another.
  • I will go for a long ride on my bike, and not be afraid that I won’t make it back home. The journey is what matters most; not the destination.
  • I will stop calling attention to the clavicle bones that are jutting out of my shoulders, and will, instead, celebrate them with a cute sleeveless top.
  • I will not wait until my legs are tan enough to wear those cute crop pants without panty hose.
  • I will not insist that we turn the lights off so my hubby won’t see my shrinkly belly.
  • I will laugh heartily and with great gusto when my body jiggles in ways it never did before.
  • I will allow my family to “lay on the good pillows” when they are on the couch, and stop worrying that they will flatten them out. (Maybe I will have to work on this one a little bit…I really like those pillows!)
  • I will stop worrying about the dust on the fan blades in the bedrooms. If I dust them once a month, that should be good enough for anyone!
  • I will stop beating myself up because I can’t do that silly ab-machine at the gym (You know, the one where you lay down with your arms on the bars and then sit up while your back is entirely supported? I get horribly dizzy…)
  • I will hug my daughter tightly and non-judgmentally and not feel responsible for her obesity.
  • I will respond lovingly to my mom when she laments that she wishes I could “eat normally again.” I know that she loves me and wants me to be happy.
  • I will spend less time weighing and more time playing
  • I will stop measuring myself up against others to insure I am “no longer the fattest person in the room.”
  • I will quit obsessing over whether Catherine Heigl really wears a size 6 or not.
  • I will ride a horse on the beach next time I am in Mexico, and not worry that the horse will “break” under the weight of my butt.
  • I will stop worrying that my bra gives me little bulges on my back.
  • I will never utter the words “does this make my butt look too small” again! – By the way, Victoria’s Secret “But Lift” jeans with “engineered lifting panels” do not work.
  • I will not feel compelled to preach the WLS gospel to every big person I see. They will come to it in their own time.
  • I will stop wishing I had done the surgery sooner, and be thankful I didn’t do it later.
  • I will no longer beat myself up because I cannot run. I can do many other things that I never could before – running just isn’t one of them.
  • I will stop criticizing myself because I cannot ride my bike 100 miles in one day (for now).
  • I will not get upset when someone does not like my advice (even if they asked for it.)
  • I will thank God I am able to get out of bed every morning (without feeling like I was run over by a truck), and not complain about the ungodly hour!
  • I will not complain that I must measure my food, and will be thankful that I have food to measure!
  • I will relish flying for business trips (even back to China) because I now have plenty of space between me and the chair and me and the person next to me!
  • I will not take it personally when someone says I took the “easy way out” by having weight loss surgery.
  • I will jump in FRONT of the camera (rather than behind it) when someone wants to snap a picture of me.
  • I will send out Christmas cards with a FAMILY PHOTO on them.
  • I will make plans with high school and junior high school friends, and not worry that they will see my shrinkles (or wrinkles!)

And, with an appreciative nod to Dead Poet’s Society:

  • I will suck the marrow out of life and not choke on the bone.
  • I will sound my barbaric “yawp” over the rooftops of the world.
  • I will live my life to the fullest, with each new breath, because, when that day finally comes, I want to find that I have lived deliberately and not discover that I have not lived at all.
  • I will seize the day (Carpe Diem!)

I don’t know about you, but I waited 40 years for someday (which never came).
The last 2 years have been filled with amazing days, and I don’t intend to slow down anytime soon.

Are you waiting for someday to happen, or is today the day?

What SOMEDAYS are you making TO-DAYS?

March 21, 2012   8 Comments

Walking, Breathing, Climbing Stairs & Eating

This originally appeared one year ago on GastricBypassBarbie.com.
I love going back and rereading some of my archives…just to see if I still feel the same way today. HINT: I DO!

Walking, Breathing, Climbing Stairs, and Eating


Sometimes, as I’m going about my day, something ordinary will happen, and I will see it through extraordinary eyes.

Today is no exception.

I was walking to my car and, as I stepped down the curb to enter the parking lot, I caught myself worrying that I might fall. When I didn’t fall, I wondered in amazement how it is that I manage to ambulate every day — up and down curbs, through parking lots, to the store — WITHOUT EVEN THINKING ABOUT IT. See, that’s the key to this little ordinary moment. I walk without thinking about it.

Okay, it’s true: Every once in awhile, I will trip (usually, it is over an imaginary speed bump in the carpet, but sometimes, there really is a crack or a rock or a tree root.) If it’s a really bad day, I will actually fall. Of course, before I land, I am already panicking about hitting the ground (which is the wrong thing to do), so it usually hurts more, because I have tensed up (I overthought it). The best falls are the ones that happen before I know it’s happening – LOL.

So, when that happens, do I just lay there and never ever get up again because I am convinced that I am not able to walk? No, I pick myself up (or accept a hand-up, if someone is around to see my clumsiness), dust myself off, and carry on. That’s how it works: I walk, I trip, I fall, I get up, then I walk some more — just a bit more carefully this time.

And then there are stairs. Now, stairs are a little more challenging for me, because stairs and I have a very bad history. I have fallen down more flights and steps than I care to remember. Fortunately that doesn’t keep me from climbing up and down them, now, I just don’t do it as frequently as I “walk.” That means I am “not as good at navigating stairs, as I am at walking.”

Now, if you talk to MexiKen about this, he will tell you that I’m not especially good at either thing, but I contend that I have improved since shedding over 160 pounds, so that is a major victory, but I digress.

Even though I may not navigate stairs that often, I usually do okay. That is, until I stop to think about each step. Then my rhythm gets all funky and I trip or miss the stair or something. (Thank goodness for handrails, that’s all I can say.) In the past, I avoided stairs, pretty much at all costs, but not anymore. Now I kinda view them as a challenge that I usually win.

Same with walking. I used to hate walking (in all forms, including, but not limited to: strolling, hiking, jogging or striding.) Not anymore. Now I actually relish the idea of taking a long walk on the beach or up a steep hill or something.

Okay, so what do walking and stair climbing have to do with the Bariatric After Life™? Well. I’m glad you asked and am thankful you have stuck with me this long.

Walking is something we do without thinking (unless we have extenuating circumstances). It’s like breathing. We don’t think about breathing, yet we do it. When we choke on something, we don’t just “stop breathing.” We clear the airway and keep breathing! Same with walking: If we trip, stumble or fall, we don’t stop walking forever; we get up and keep walking.So, I look at breathing and walking like I do eating properly and making smart food choices (ahhh, there’s the connection).

With eating, I have learned that if I think about it TOO much, I “stumble,” but if I do what I “know,” I am more successful. Now, I’m not advocating that you NOT think about what you are going to eat, anymore than I would suggest you go walking without a purpose, destination or direction (that would be like meandering…or grazing!)

What I’m saying is, I think there is a way to move the concept of healthy eating in the Bariatric After Life into the “involuntary” part of the brain, right alongside walking and breathing!

And what about those stairs? Well, in my case, since they are a bit challenging, I look at stairs like I do eating at a party or a restaurant — in other words, something I don’t do *as often* as walking, but something I need to be good at, in order to “get where I need to be.” So, stairs require a bit more thought — but not OVER-thought, or I will stumble and fall out of rhythm.

For example: When I see stairs, I do a quick assessment: How many flights are there? What shoes am I wearing? How much time do I have to get to my destination?

Same with eating “out.” Where are we going? What’s on the menu? What will I order? How much time will I have after we are seated? Once I get there, it’s time to move into the involuntary mode, so I’m not preoccupied with overthinking the process.

Since I walk, breathe and even climb stairs without THINKING about it, I believe that becoming a confident healthy eater can be handled the same way! When I occasionally trip, fall, or choke, I simply pick myself up, dust myself off, and take the next best step (or bite). Hey, everyone makes “missteps” in the Bariatric After Life. It’s what you do next that matters most.

Gosh! I got all of this from not tripping when I stepped off the curb in high heels. Imagine how profound I am when I tie my shoes (and don’t pass out from lack of oxygen.)

Does this make sense? It’s okay if it doesn’t, but to me, the parallels are kinda cool.

June 28, 2011   No Comments