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Category — Motivation

We See What We Choose to See.

Where is your focus?

 

Which way is she spinning?

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. Now, as a rule, I’m not really a “holiday sorta girl.” I’m just. Not. It’s not that I don’t love my mom, and it’s not that I don’t feel loved as a mom, but, I dunno, I sorta feel like there’s a great deal of pressure to show and receive affection in a particular way on a particular day, when it’s better to show and receive affection that way – every day.

So, there’s that.

But, there’s also the very real fact that I don’t like to be disappointed, and I hate not having my expectations met. “If I can’t have it my way, I don’t want it any way.” (Really attractive quality, isn’t it?) Now, truth be told, I’m recovering from this “all or nothing” way of thinking, but it’s still ingrained, and it still rears its ugly head sometimes. Especially on: HOLIDAYS.

Fortunately, in my house, we never really make a big deal of Mother’s Day, which means I don’t have to be disappointed.

Well…*suspicious* emotions and motivations aside, THIS particular Mother’s Day was different. It was truly different.

For starters, my 21-Year Old daughter (Hannah) BOUGHT ME A MOTHER’S DAY CARD (yes, with her own money) – several days BEFORE MOTHER’S DAY. It is an adorable card; so her; so me. I love it. She also handmade me a super-cute “CERTIFICATE OF AWARD” which entitles the bearer (me) to – wait for it – 1 FREE HAIRCUT!!

Heck, yes, I’ll be using that.

Ahh, but it didn’t stop there. MexiKen bought me a super cute card that is completely contrary to those typical, sappy Mother’s Day Cards (did I mention I don’t like sappy Mother’s Day cards?) Anyway, he got it for me because the cartoon on the front of the card has a woman in these cute pumps with sparkly stones on the toes. He said it reminded him of me. (Love that).

To top it all off, we took a lovely 18+ mile bike ride up the canal and back, then dropped by the grocery store to pick-up some salad fixins’ before heading home. It was a delightful afternoon.

And that was the good stuff. Got it? Cards. Certificate. Bike Ride. All good.

BUT…what I didn’t mention is, before the cards, certificate and bike ride, we (Hannah, MexiKen and I) went out for breakfast to a place I had hoped wouldn’t be crowded (I was mostly right): Panera. Now, Panera is pretty much ALL BREAD; ALL THE TIME – something I don’t do. BUT, they do have a Mediterranean egg white thing (which I order sans ciabatta bread), and they also have a soufflé (which I can eat about half of) – so, that’s what I typically do.

Except for yesterday.

Yesterday, they were sold out. That’s right, they were sold out of everything my pouch could tolerate. So I had: NOTHING. My family ate (because I wisely had them order first), but I had…crappy coffee. (I don’t like Panera’s coffee, but I didn’t want to just have a glass of water…I don’t know why not.) At some point, I decided that maybe I could try some black bean soup. (For Mother’s Day breakfast….right) but, I really was not in the mood for black bean soup…so I hated it.

And then we headed home.

I was deflated, to say the least. I felt cranky and cheated and disappointed. It wasn’t “fair” I thought. Why couldn’t I eat the way everyone else does? Of course, I already answered my own question, (Because I chose to have bariatric surgery as a tool to combat precisely that sort of unhealthy behavior – at least eating like that every day) – But..that didn’t make me feel any better. Sometimes…like on holidays…I really resent my Bariatric After Life™.  Sometimes, I just want to be: NORMAL.

Fortunately, that’s what pity parties are for. So I had one. For an hour. I frowned and groused and just felt pitiful. It was delightfully self-indulgent.

And counterproductive.

So, I decided I’d had enough of that, and changed my attitude. Yup.I pretty much started over and changed the way I looked at my day.

Okay, so I didn’t find anything that would work for me at the restaurant. Big deal. I had a protein shake when I got home. And then I ambled back to my computer, where I began to create a wonderful video for Las Vegas (which felt pretty good). And then…well, THEN, I decided to DO SOMETHING that I really wanted to do. Something I NEVER would have done in my “Before” life: I decided then and there that we should go for a bike ride, and that is precisely what we did.

Guess what? We had an incredible time.

So, how did I go from pity to party in 10 seconds flat? I changed my attitude….my outlook…my perspective. I changed the way I looked at my day, my options…my life.

Here’s what I’ve learned: There are many different ways you can look at a situation. You can focus on the negative, or you can focus on the positive. You can see only what you can’t do, or you can look for the things you CAN do. You can step away from the situation and look from a different angle or, you can get closer. Whatever you do, in those times when life looks dreary or down, the best thing to do is find the UP.

And that’s why I put that picture of the pirouetting girl at the top of this posting. Because there are always different ways to see things – and, while one is not necessarily “wrong,” sometimes, there are better ways.

Which way is she spinning?

This Mother’s Day, I chose to focus on what made me happy, rather than what made me sad. (And, yes, I called my mama, sent her a card, texted her, post on her Facebook wall – and sent her a Facebook message. I covered all of my bases, and we are going to celebrate together over Memorial Day weekend.)

Now that I’ve told you about my day and my struggles, I want to know what you do when you’re feeling down and all you can see around you is failure or roadblocks? How do you deal with disappointment? Do you get resentful? Do you give into it, or do you change your point of view and enjoy the life you’re given?

I know why I chose bariatric surgery: To live.

How about you?

May 14, 2012   3 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

License to Thrive or License to Drive?


Having weight loss surgery is a lot like being given a racecar when you don’t know how to drive (and can’t even reach the pedals!)

True, before surgery, you go through a whole bunch of driver’s education courses, but you’re given no test to prove you can actually stay in your lane, safely merge into the flow of traffic or even parallel park. Despite that, you get the keys to an Indy car, are warned not to go too fast, and told to check-in regularly with a mechanic (who probably only works on foreign cars, when you own a domestic, or vice versa.)

In other words, you’re given a license that says you’re an expert at doing something you’ve never had much success doing, because you pretty much always ended up crashing.

Of course, since you’ve been entrusted with this amazingly fast and agile vehicle, you’re not going to tell anyone that you aren’t old enough or experienced enough to drive it, because you’ve convinced yourself you’ll figure it out along the way.

That first year is supposed to be spent learning how to make your car operate at optimal performance, yet many of us have the pedal to the metal because we want to see “how fast we can go.” Most of the time, we’re doing 150 miles per hour, while complaining that we’re “going nowhere fast,” (since the speedometer says we should be able to go 200.) Meanwhile, we’re texting-while-driving, busily updating our Facebook statuses about how fast we’re going, and don’t have a single finger on the steering wheel!

Once we survive the first year, the second year is supposed to be spent preparing for maintenance. You know, checking the tires (are we getting enough exercise), checking our fuel levels (are we consuming healthy foods in appropriate portions), checking the fluids (are we drinking enough water), and determining what we’ll have to do to keep our car on the road (creating a routine). All too often at this point, the pit crew is frantically waving us in for a quick touch-up, but we’re too busy to stop because things are “going so well.”

Who needs labs? Who needs vitamins? C’mon, I can eat pretty much anything I want and still lose weight…!

Year two should be about moderation and adjustment, but more often than I care to recount, it’s about pushing the limits and ignoring the warning signs.

Don’t believe me? During this period, you’ll frequently hear people say that their car will be able to run like this FOREVER! That they’ll NEVER slow down and will ALWAYS be able maintain this level of performance.

“100 pounds gone FOREVER! I’ll NEVER go back again! I will ALWAYS workout every day and measure all of my food!”

Unfortunately, those of us who have been around the track a few laps will tell you that the road is NOT always clear, you DON’T always get to “draft” the leader, and SOMETIMES, there will be collisions that you might not be able to avoid. You will have to learn evasive maneuvers…you will have to learn to slow down and speed up; you’ll have to learn to be efficient with your fuel, and be vigilant in your maintenance and routine inspections, you’ll have to learn how to make repairs, and yes, you’ll have to establish ROUTINES.

  • Does any of this sound remotely familiar?
  • Do you think it sounds reasonable?
  • Would you give your toddler keys to a Ferrari?

I think not…

Here’s the point: Having weight loss surgery doesn’t make you an expert at anything, except learning to drive really fast before you’ve learned to even how to start the car. Okay, okay, I hear you: Is it reasonable to believe that anyone is ever really ready when they have surgery? I dunno. I think maybe not, but I will allow that some people are really quick studies.

Perhaps it boils down to this: Should everyone automatically be given a license to drive, just because they happen to be able to reach the pedals?? Will everyone who GETS that license be able to drive forever without crashing?

Maybe so, but likely no.

What can we do to change or improve this situation? Well…

  • Maybe we should explain to people that weight loss surgery will give them a license to THRIVE, not a license to DRIVE.
  • Maybe we should stress that it’s up to them to gain experience behind the wheel before they start racing around a track without the knowledge of how to avoid injury.
  • Maybe, as “mature drivers” ourselves, we should start waving the yellow flag to warn new drivers of potential hazards on the track.

I don’t pretend to have all of the answers, but now that I have a “few miles” under my belt, I have come to the conclusion that it’s my job to tell new drivers that they aren’t trying to capture some checkered flag so they can hoist a big silver cup that says, “I lost 150 Pounds. Forever!” I have to tell them to go easy and get those new tires warmed up before they race into that sharp turn. I have to tell them about hairpin turns and spinouts (regain and plateaus). I have to encourage them to run their race at a safe and maintainable pace…

I don’t know if anyone ever did that for me (or if I’d have listened anyway), but I don’t want to find some post-op broken down on the side of the road – or worse, in jail for a DWI (driving while ignorant).

Weight loss surgery is NOT a race to the finish line.

Weight loss surgery IS the keys to a new car that will take you as far as you want to go…if you maintain it, that is.

Enjoy the ride…responsibly 😉

* * *

If you are having trouble “keeping your car in your lane,” feel like you’re “permanently broken down” on the side of the road, or just “can’t keep up” with the flow of traffic, find a MECHANIC (doctor, therapist, counselor, support group) and get a check-up from the neck-up. It’s the best thing you’ll ever do for yourself and it will definitely extend that “lifetime warranty” we all signed up for!

March 14, 2012   No Comments

When You Look For Trouble…
You’ll Always Find It.

The WLS community is a microcosm of our world at large, which means that it’s made up of all sorts of people who might not normally “play together,” were it not for the common bond of bariatric surgery. If you think of our group as a high school, then — for better or worse — you’ll quickly see where the problems begin.

Let me draw some parallels for you:

In high school, the only thing that everyone has in common is the fact that they are students. Some are better students than others. Some try harder than others. Some don’t try as hard, but succeed anyway. Some are popular. Some are athletic. Some are quiet. Some are boisterous. Some are creative. Some are nerdy. Some will graduate. Some will drop out. Some will go to college and go on to become teachers themselves.

In the WLS community, the only thing that everyone has in common is the fact that we have all had bariatric surgery to treat our obesity. Some of us follow the eating program to the letter. Some of us do not. Some of us are extremely athletic. Some of us are not. Some of us are outgoing. Some of us are reserved. Some of us will maintain. Some of us will regain. Some of us will have longterm success and inspire others in their own journeys. Some will disappear and never be heard from again.

We all know about CLIQUES which, by their very nature are exclusive. This exclusivity necessarily means that some people are accepted, while others are not. Some people fit in, while others do not. With that said, does that mean that cliques, in and of themselves are inherently bad? After all, birds of a feather DO flock together. And. there’s a very good reason for that: They have something shared in common. Isn’t it better to do something you like with someone else who likes to do it to? In a perfect world: YES. But, unfortunately, cliques (like the WLS community) are made up of — gulp — PEOPLE. Yes, those imperfect creatures that make mistakes and can be mean, insensitive, thoughtless and spiteful. Ahhh, but those very same (imperfect) creatures can also be loving, thoughtful, courageous and forgiving.

So, what happens when you introduce the variable of typed words into the discussion? Do you think people can misinterpret things? Do you think it is possible for people to think the worst and immediately stomp all over people? Do you think that adding photos to those written words can make the situation exponentially more confusing? How about videos? EEEK.

Here’s my point: Just because someone shares ONE commonality with you, doesn’t mean that they share ALL OTHERS. And, just because they share a commonality with you, doesn’t mean they FEEL the same way about it as you do.

Let me explain my rationale for this little discussion. Over the course of my online life, I have noticed something of a maturation process that many people undergo. They start out life as “newbies” (just like post-ops) and eventually branch out into more confident and frequent contributors. In other words, they get the hang of things and venture out into deeper waters to test their new skill set. Some people sink; others swim, and still others retreat to the safety of the kiddie pool (preferring not to get in “over their heads.”) All of this is fine until a person in the deep end calls the person in the shallow end a loser just because they are in a different part of the pool. Or, the person swimming laps complains about the high diver because they believe that pools should only be used in one way. And, in the high school context, the seniors start calling the sophomores and freshmen stupid and, blah, blah, blah.

Speaking of pools, did you ever go to a pool party when you were in high school? If you’re like me, the sheer thought of donning a bathing suit struck terror all the way to my toes! I did NOT like to go to the beach or pool parties or anything remotely resembling an event that required little clothing – because I thought I was fat. And, you know what? I used to get quite disgusted with people who “wasted so much time at the beach,” or “wore skimpy bikinis to the community pool,” because I was sure they were just doing it for attention. It’s amazing how worked up I’d get all because I was: JEALOUS. Yup…it hurts to say it, but I was jealous and insecure.

But, I never said anything to anyone. I just stewed in silence. I was unconfident and nervous and didn’t think I had a right to say anything. And, well…in that case, I probably DIDN’T have any business trying to “break up the party” so it was just as well, but here is a little secret I have learned since then: I thought I was overweight and was absolutely convinced that my friends thought they weren’t. That’s right, I thoroughly believed that they thought they were perfect. Oh sure, now I know better, but back in those days, my weight made me angry, insecure and invisible. I didn’t fight my battles and I believed I deserved everything that “happened” to me. I’m not sure what they thought because I was too busy worrying about myself.

Anyway, all of that changed when I turned 40 and had gastric bypass surgery. As the pounds disappeared, I became more visible and finally learned that I have a voice, an opinion, and valuable experiences –– all of which have translated into seeds of confidence and self-assurance.

Truth be told, you’d have thought they operated on my vocal chords, rather than my stomach, because I began to talk like I’d never talked before — and I really did talk a lot before 😉 I also got OFFENDED a lot. Yeah, I spent a lot of time fighting battles — using my newfound confidence and vocal chords, of course –  but, when you spend all of your time fighting, you actually stunt your recovery progress!

Perhaps recovery is a double-edged sword.

Imagine standing in the middle of a circle with a big sword and just swinging at everything around you. Unfortunately, one of those people you strike might be trying to help you, and someone else might not be doing the thing you are absolutely convinced they are doing. Picture this: Did you ever “windmill” somebody? You know, defend yourself by flailing your arms wilding, like a windmill? The net effect was that people would get ‘karate chop” and “whacked” by your arms, hands, fingers and elbows. It’s really hard to defend against he windmill maneuver. Unless you just choose to stay away.

You’ve heard it a million times: Perception is EVERYTHING. What do you see when you hear someone say that having weight loss surgery is cheating? Do you automatically “windmill” them and chop them down to size? What about those people who tell you their surgery is better than yours? Or the people who say that people who consume artificial sweeteners are going to burn in hell? Or what about people who make rash decisions about you, based only on your pictures?

The old-new Cari used to go after every one of them with a chop-chop-chopping action. The old-new Cari windmilled everything. If it even looked remotely egregious or offensive, I was on it. But, like Don Quixote, everything began to look like a windmill that needed to be neutralized – until I finally figured out how walk away…I stopped windmiling, and I stopped trying to stop OTHERS who were windmiling,  I stopped perceiving everyone who disagreed with me as windmilling and I just…moved along.

Fortunately, the new Cari realizes that, in general, most people tend to speak their minds without any intention of harming me, some are trying to harm me (but probably don’t recognize that they are striking out) and MOST are simply hapless. In other words, they are ignorant to everything from weight loss surgery, to hair color, to shoes, vitamins and protein shakes! So, while everyone is entitled to their own opinion,  not every opinion requires a comment.

What changed in this scenario? Are other people doing anything differently? Maybe. Maybe not….I’m not sure, because I have’t checked. (No, I’m not an ostrich, sticking my head in the sand) I now choose to focus on the good stuff and let the other stuff take care of itself — which is, I think, the moral of this story. We don’t have to treat everyone who disagrees with us as if they are an attacking windmill, and we don’t have to be windmills that attack others. Likewise, just because we share a common surgical procedure, doesn’t meant we are all “automatically” (and necessarily) in the same club (or need to swim in the same part of the pool).

We can just be who we are and let others do the same.

At the end of the day, not everyone is a windmill, and I don’t need to “windmill” everybody who sounds like they *might* be disagreeing. Every pool has it’s “warm spots,” and every high school has it’s annoying people, and that’s just the way the world works

It’s okay to be Y-O-U and it’s okay for others to just be themselves.

And what about if they are different? Well, you can choose to make a big stink about it, or just move to a different part of the pool or campus; It’s your choice.

March 12, 2012   5 Comments

Let’s Go Fly a Kite

I grew up in a great neighborhood. First of all, our block had a cul du sac, which meant that we didn’t get much traffic (except for the kind that thought there was an exit out the back). Secondly, we had a really cool hill (both on the street AND in our driveway), so we spent most of our summer days hurtling our bikes, skateboards, Big Wheels and roller skates (not blades, thank you very much) down the hill at *death-defying* speeds. When we weren’t tempting fate, we were doing “bike rallies” — which really just consisted of a bunch of us going ’round and ’round and ’round the “big block,” hooting and hollering (to beckon kids out of their houses) while blasting some Gordon Lightfoot song on our AM transistor radios and clothes-pinning playing cards to our spokes so we’d sound like ‘motorcycles.

It was great fun, and we never tired of the monotony.

Unless we were doing something else – like playing kickball (running the bases we’d painted on the street in reflective spray paint), tag football, HORSE, hide-and-go-seek (in the dark, naturally), or – on windy days – flying kites from Mr. Taylor’s front lawn.

His house was prime real estate for a number of reasons:

  1. It was situated at the intersection of a “T”, meaning that you could run up the block (to launch your kite) and end up straight on his lawn (which was on a hill, so you could comfortably recline on your elbows.)
  2. It had super thick St. Augustine grass (which was not particularly soft, like Bermuda or Fescue, but did create a nice cushion.)
  3. He had apricot and plum trees in the backyard (so we didn’t have to go home when we got hungry.)

Yes, our neighborhood was quite active, but also competitive. With a nearly equal ratio of boys-to-girls (boys being older), that meant there were lots of Barbies getting kidnapped (mine, mostly) and flour bombs being dropped on houses, and mock wars being fought in the streets. It also meant that kite flying was not just for fun: It was serious business, not to be entered into lightly. Sometimes, we would have “dog fights” at low-altitudes, where the “loser” found his line sliced or his kite torpedoed into a tree. The winner would ink a skull and crossbones on his kite to signal another kill.

To up the ante, eventually, the boys learned that fishing line presented a greater defense to the opposition, as it was much harder to see, didn’t snap so easily, AND had the added bonus of distance! You could fly your kite A LOT FARTHER on fishing line, than you could on standard kite string. Some boys were very smart and ran their kites from fishing rods (for easy “reel-based retrieval”); others used wooden dowels, or just held the spool in hand.

Never one to miss out on a great idea, I checked around and learned that the best line was something called “100# Test,” and it came on “450 yard” spools. If memory serves, it was about $1.99 at the corner Thrifty Store.

Not one to let St. Augustine grow beneath my feet, I hopped on my trusty bike and headed to Thrifty to pick-up my very own secret weapon. I wanted to be the first girl to beat a boy (which did happen, by the way…except that it was Howard, and most people weren’t very impressed by this victory, but that’s not the point of the story…) Anyway, at first blush, the idea seemed reasonable enough: Find the fishing line marked “100# test, 450 yd length” and buy it. Unfortunately, when I got there, I learned that there were many different KINDS of line (nylon, braided, salt water, fresh water, fly-fishing, stream) AND, they were all priced quite differently. As a matter of fact, *some of them* cost as much as $5.00 per spool – for only 50 yards!

After about 20 minutes of indecision, I determined that the most important factor was PRICE, at which point, I narrowed it down to the nylon line and grabbed for the appropriate spool. Which would have been the end of the story. Except…I noticed that, FOR THE VERY SAME PRICE, I could get something called “80# Test” and it had (get this): 975 YDS of line!!! In other words, whoever was smart enough to fly their kite from it would SURELY win the neighborhood award for “greatest distance.”

The case was settled and I bought my fishing line. I couldn’t WAIT to attach it to my kite and show the boys how it was really done.

I can remember the day like it was yesterday: There were the proverbial fluffy white clouds dotting a cerulean blue sky and it was just windy enough to launch the kite, but warm enough to bask in the shade on Mr. Taylor’s lawn. I took my “Sky Spy” kite (replete with new 80# test fishing line) out into the street…assumed the position…and ran! Soon enough, the kite was aloft, and I was gleefully unspooling yard-after-yard of fishing line. My kite was the envy of the block…at least, as far as anyone could tell…you see…at some point, I had let out nearly ALL of my line, meaning my kite was nothing more than a tiny, 2-eyed speck in a big, blue sky.

This was great fun. For about 15 minutes. (Seriously, how long SHOULD you fly a kite?)

Soon enough, moms started bellowing out their front doors for their kids to “come home for dinner!” Mine was no exception and, not one to disobey, I immediately set about reeling my kite in. As it turns out, my brother was ALSO flying HIS kite, so we both had to bring our Sky Spies back to earth. Misery loves company.

Except…

  • Did I mention that my brother was using 100# test/450 yd fishing line on his kite?
  • Did I mention that he wasn’t shooting for a “distance” record that particular day?
  • Do you remember the “rock incident” from Big Sur?

Well…he got his kite down pretty fast…in like…five minutes, and quick-as-a-whip, he was ready to head home to wash up for dinner. As a matter of fact, EVERYONE had their kites in hand pretty fast. Except me***

*** I refer you to the aforementioned 975 yard spool.

Needless to say, the task of winding my kite back to Mr. Taylor’s front lawn was a daunting (and lengthy) one, and soon enough, my brother was back to gloat tell me that I was “in really big trouble with mom and dad.” I asked for his help, but I’m *pretty sure* I didn’t get it. He might even have laughed at me (but I don’t want to fib if I’m not sure.)

These are NOT my hands. That is pretty much how my line looked, though.

Anyway…there I sat…for 1, solid hour. By this time, of course, it was dark. The street lights were on. I was alone…and YES, my kite was still aloft — SOMEWHERE OUT THERE. Lord only knows how, because it didn’t seem to be windy anymore.

Which might explain what happened next: I’m fairly certain I was within 200 short yards of retrieving my kite, when the darnedest thing happened: It began innocently enough with a tiny “plink” and then…quicker than you can say “I spy a loose kite in the sky”…the tension on my spool was gone…and the remaining line inexplicably drifted to the pavement…and across the treetops, front lawns, power lines, streets, and chimneys.

Hmm…Let me see if I got this straight: I spent ONE SOLID HOUR reeling in my kite, risking life, limb AND grounding, JUST so I could LOSE MY FREAKING KITE SOMEWHERE OVER BOYAR PARK (1 mile away?)

In a word: YES.

In retrospect, the moral of that story is pretty simple: MORE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER AND SOMETIMES MORE IS LESS.

The corollary is: CHEAPER ISN’T ALWAYS BEST.

So, how do I apply this to my Bariatric After Life™? Well, just like I tried to get the most bang for my buck with that blasted fishing line (without fully understanding its usage or considering whether or not it even made sense), I have tried to do the same thing with food. There have been times where I have tried to “get away” with eating things that are “not as healthy as other things,” (like: sugar free cookies), and there are times that I ended up eating WAY TOO MANY of those things that are not as healthy as other things (like sugar free gummy bears)…and well…I paid the price. I learned the hard way that before you choose a fishing line (or food), you really need to understand HOW YOU INTEND TO USE IT and whether it makes sense.

I guess you could say, you need to choose the right “pound test” for the job!

In my defense (thanks, in no small part to brilliant marketing) I really believed that a lot of those food choices were equal to the alternatives (even BETTER) – just like that fishing line seemed equal to the alternative (even BETTER) — but the reality was, I lost sight of what I was really trying to achieve; I forgot what was reasonable; I forgot the real goal.

At the end of the day, any kite-flyer worth his salt will probably tell you that the goal to successful flight is MANAGEABILITY. It’s not always about distance or height – yes, you can do tricks – it’s about maintaing control of the kite. It’s about proving that you are in charge — not the other way around.

Weight management is the same way: It’s not about some magical number on the scale, or some teeny number on your clothes. It’s not about weighing what you weighed in high school, or squishing your shrinkly butt into those acid-washed “mom-jeans” from the 80’s. It’s about MANAGING your health and feeing good doing it.

You know…as I look back at that summer…so long ago on Mr. Taylor’s front lawn…I realize my kite was flying ME. Just like when I ate those things that seemed okay.

These days, I’m flying MYSELF — Oh, maybe not as “high” as other folks, but at least I’m airborne, and — hey, my life is manageable. At least for today.

Now, where did I put my black marker? I think I need to add a skull and crossbones to my scale…I killed another pound today!

January 25, 2012   4 Comments

Throwing Stones (and Missing The Mark)

Greg and a Pouty Cari - Big Sur circa 1971

This is Me (Pouting) & My Big Brother (Greg) in Big Sur
My mom did this picture for me.

When I was about six, my parents took my big brother and me camping at Big Sur. If you’ve never been there, it’s a stunning area on the central California coast, just off picturesque Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway). There are towering redwoods (though, not the tallest on the coast — those are further north in Humboldt) and lush ferns (think: Jurassic Park or Return of the Jedi, and you’re close), babbling brooks…and WILD BOARS. Yes, wild boars. My big brother, Greg, used to traumatize me by taking me on *long*  hikes *way out in the forest* and convincing me that there were wild boars hiding  in every burned out tree trunk — or, if they weren’t there at the moment, they’d be returning any second (and they would probably eat me!)

Despite the wild boars (and scary big brother) Big Sur was wonderful and we vacationed there several summers.

Side note: My mom (God love her) was not the…um…er…outdoorsy type, though she gamely tried to be (so I’ll give her credit). On many trips, we all slept in a big (heavy) canvas tent with a little porta-potty just inside the “door,” so it was pretty *rough.* Being an RV person myself, I can understand why tent camping might not be the most inviting thing to a girly-girl, but I think my mom *might* have taken that whole “comforts-of-home” thing a tad far…she actually packed her LIGHT UP MAKE-UP MIRROR  so she could do a “full-face” each morning. I am not kidding you! This mirror was like one of those old-school beauty mirrors with bulbs dow either side — AND (since this was the deluxe model) — three lighting conditions: Indoor/Fluorescent, Outdoor (camping), and Evening. I loved that mirror and she always looked beautiful in it, but it is sorta funny to think back now and imagine doing that myself. Okay, maybe I would…

But, back to my little story. On this particular trip, my dad decided it would be a great idea for us to hike up to the “famed” Big Sur waterfall. No, this is not the ‘really’ famous Pfeiffer Falls, but rather, the smaller, less notable, but still pretty ‘Big Sur Waterfall.” it was a very easy 1/2 mile hike, but to my little 6-year old legs, it felt like a full day’s walk (which meant that my dad would have to carry me on his back sometimes…)

Less-Famous Big Sur Waterfall

Well, after about 7 hours (or 30 minutes, depending upon who you talk to), we arrived at our destination: BIG SUR FALLS! My dad went right up to it and let the water *dangerously* run into his hand! Meanwhile, my mother kept yelling at him to ‘be careful,’ and ‘come back!’ While this was going on, my brother had found some neat, flat rocks to walk out onto, which put him sort of towards the middle of the stream. He was very brave and, as much as I wanted to go, my mom wouldn’t let me.

This disappointed me to no end and I was completely inconsolable.

Until my dad started throwing rocks into the creek. Naturally, *I* started throwing rocks, and we had great fun.

Kerplunk! Sploosh! Splash! Kathunk! Whee!

And, just when I thought life couldn’t get any better, my dad encouraged me to throw “overhand.”

Now, up to this point, I’d been throwing underhand (granny-style) because that’s what 6-year old girls do. I told him I couldn’t throw overhand and didn’t want to. But he insisted that I “at least try.” So, I did. I found a really great rock, took aim at the stream and…let her rip.

I would love to tell you my aim was true and that I hit the stream right where I targeted, but that isn’t *exactly* what happened. No…actually, I beaned my brother in the back of the head (and he bled…a little). That’s right, I hurled a pitch that would make Fernando Valenzuela proud — right at his noggin’.

Oh. Brother.

Not ironically, Greg was extremely unhappy about this event and, as far as I can remember, called me a really bad name. Something like, ‘Stupid!’ — which is as coarse as it got in my house. Maybe I deserved it…a little…but I didn’t mean to hit him. I was AIMING somewhere else!

Well…I was totally devastated after I hit my brother with that rock. Absolutely demolished…and I cried and cried and cried (until I started hiccuping and had to stop because my mom said she didn’t want to hear another peep out of me, and you KNOW how that goes.) Eventually, I got over it (although, I think my brother is still a bit steamed about it to this day) –– AND –– I did finally learn how to throw OVERHAND.

Which brings me to my point: Sometimes, we MUST try things that we aren’t really sure we can accomplish…even though we might fail…because, sometimes (maybe often), we WILL fail.

Like, trying to lose weight. How many diets did I try (and fail) before weight loss surgery? Here’s a hint: About the same number of pitches I threw as pitcher for my summer league girls softball team, the Bat-Her-Ups. Yeah, I know, stupid name, but we had super cute uniforms – blue and green polo stripes with white collars – don’t ask. To be clear, it was soft pitch, and it was underhand, BUT when I was not pitching, I played 2nd base, which meant that I DID have to throw OVERHAND, so at SOME POINT I had to figure out how to do it, right? Let’s just say it’s a skill I acquired somewhere between the time my brother threatened to hit ME with a rock and about age 9.

How did I learn this particular skill? By trying — over and over and over — until I got it right. True, I was never a STRONG thrower (so, putting me in right field was a horrible idea without TWO cut-off men), and the ball often went straight into the ground, but thanks to my “pitch back” in the front yard, and some much-needed instruction from my pop, I got fairly accurate at making the ball go where I pointed my toe.

Did you catch that? I learned to point my toe where i wanted the ball to go.

Guess what? I kinda learned the same skill in my Bariatric After Life™! I  learned to look where I want to go (towards healthy weight management) — NOT where I DON’T want to go (towards uncontrollable weight regain) — and guess what? That is where I go (mostly).

However, when I take my eye off the ball (stop journaling my foods, stop working out regularly, stop paying attention to my behaviors, etc.), I veer off course…and the ball goes straight into the ground — OR, I hit MYSELF in the head! D’oh! Fortunately, I get it over the plate more than in the dirt, so I’ll consider my RBI pretty good (and improving)!

Anyway, let me leave you with these two things:

1) Big brothers can be mean, but you shouldn’t hit them in the head with rocks, and
2) Weight management IS possible, if you learn  proper form and practice regularly.

Just like throwing overhand.

January 24, 2012   4 Comments

OBESITY IS NO LAUGHING MATTER

OBESITY ISN’T FUNNY

By now, I’m thinking that most of you have already read Dr. John Kelly’s unfortunate article, where he used one-liners to “find humor” on the subject of obesity. If you haven’t read it, I’m not going to post a link to it because I think enough people have already read and responded to it, and there is really nothing new that could be added to the discussion.

That article (and the reaction from the obese community) inspired today’s post, because everyone has the right to be unfunny.

Let’s begin:

COMEDY IS NOT A LAUGHING MATTER

Comedy is important to me. Being funny takes guts and you have to be a risk taker to pull it off well. Sometimes that works out great; other times…not so much. Just take a poll of people who know me, and ask them to describe me in 5 words. I guarantee you, the word “Funny” will be near the top (and might be repeated). It’s who I am, and it’s a part of myself that I’ve always embraced — especially when I was obese. You see, being funny was a great way to deflect attention from my obvious *indelicate condition.* Like most comedians, I used my humor as protection from the world, figuring that if I said something derogatory about myself first, others would realize that nothing they could say would hurt me. I was offensively offensive. (Or defensively defensive. Or defensively offensive…I can’t be sure).

However you define it, you and I know it was a lie, but that didn’t stop me from believing it.

LAUGHING UNTIL YOU CRY

Have you ever laughed so hard, tears streamed down your face and you couldn’t see straight? There’s a fine line between humor and anger — at least in my experience. The thing that truly makes something “funny” is the kernel of truth behind the joke. We feel better when we can laugh at an uncomfortable truth; it diffuses the tension. And, any comedian worth his salt will string you along, dropping bread crumbs of your life experiences so you can follow the joke to it’s “inevitably” funny conclusion. He’ll invite you to agree with him so you can laugh with him. How many times have you listened to a comedian and said, “Oh my gosh! That’s happened to me!” or, “That is SO TRUE!”

Basically, the comedian’s job is to make sure we are on his side, in order to keep the laughs coming.

WHEN THE JOKE FALLS FLAT
(Alternately known as, “Oh Crap!” or “I Take it Back!”)

Unfortunately, humor is not a guaranteed thing, and what one person finds funny, another might find disgusting or offensive; what I laugh about might not be what you laugh about, which is why there are so many forms of humor: Visual, slapstick, potty, crass, edgy, whimsical, goofy, biting, audible, sardonic, droll, juvenile, etc. Ever think about the number of comedy movies out there? Trust me, I’m a very discerning comic, and I admit that I don’t find much of the contemporary movies to be funny. But, just watch my daughter and husband viewing “Jackass” and you’ll see what I mean. I’m left scratching my head, going “What’s so funny about someone getting locked in a car with a swarm of angry bees?” and my family is saying, “Let’s watch that again! That’s freaking HYSTERICAL!”

Comedians put themselves out there and hope that everything they say or do will be funny. When it isn’t, it can be downright uncomfortable. Ever seen a joke go over like a lead balloon? At best, you’ll hear uncomfortable laughter and throat-clearing; at worst, you’ll get a roomful of boos, or some walk-outs. Comedy isn’t pretty. But, that doesn’t stop us from trying. Maybe we’re slow learners, but as a comic, I LIVE for the laugh. I LOVE it when someone gets my humor. I LOVE it when I can make my best friend laugh so hard, she snorts cherries through her nose and begs for mercy (as best she can between guffaws.) I’m relentless and sadistically string her along — waiting for the moment when the laughter will die down (meaning that she is recovering) just long enough to spring my next salvo on her. It’s my favorite pastime.

But, guess what? Not everybody likes my humor. Some people think I can be mean, while others are sure I’m just trying to be superior by saying things so cerebral, no one will ever get the joke. Trust me, it’s the “Jackass” crowd; I’m convinced…but anyway…

WHEN LAUGHTER IS NOT THE BEST MEDICINE

If you will recall, I began this post with mention of Dr. John Kelly and his unfortunate article. I’ll be honest: I experienced a broad range of emotions when I first read it. Initially, I was disgusted. I remember saying that I thought the man was a “pig.” I might have even said he was a “stupid pig” (I’m not sure). Next, I was dismayed, because I didn’t think the hurtful one liners were even FUNNY. It’s one thing to say something mean that’s funny, and quite another to say something that’s both mean AND unfunny.

Fortunately, I didn’t stop there. I decided to write the “stupid” doctor a letter — but took great care not to lambast or insult him. After all, it’s pretty hard to educate someone you’ve just eviscerated. People are funny that way…

Anyway, here is why I took the time to write the letter:

  1. I felt he deserved to be treated the same way I would want to be treated if I found myself in a similarly untenable position.
  2. I knew he was already getting run through the meat grinder by angry obese people, and didn’t want to “pig pile” on him.
  3. I really wanted an explanation, so I could better understand the “why” behind the article.
  4. I truly believed he had made a catastrophic, yet innocent, error; he had a momentary lapse of judgment; he made a huge mistake. I wanted to help him understand why he was getting attacked.

Guess what? He wrote me back — and boy, did I feel his pain. He’d been insulted, verbally assaulted, lambasted, grilled, belittled and yes, even threatened. Why? Because he wrote an INSENSITIVE and UNFUNNY article. He poked fun at an easy target. Everyone laughs at the fat person, right? Sadly, I think what made the situation the worst was this simple fact: HE IS A DOCTOR, and he should *know better.* That’s right, he, more than just about anyone else, should understand the pain of this disease.

Guess what? He’s human and he screwed up.

But…he OWNED it — immediately. He fell on his sword and did everything he could to stuff that genie back into the bottle. But, of course, just like when we (weight loss surgery people) eat something we shouldn’t, and get horribly sick, we can’t undo the damage; we can only try to do better next time and HOPE we are given a second chance. Sadly, that is not at all what happened. He wasn’t given a second chance, and apparently, to some letter writers, only death by a thousand cuts would come close to serving as penance for his grievous sins.

Here’s what confuses me: We (as obese and formerly obese people), demand compassion and understanding. We scream and holler about how insensitive people can be; how rude and judgmental they are; how mean and unforgiving they are. We don’t let anyone get away with ANYTHING that smacks of insensitivity to the obese population.

So, if that’s the case, why wasn’t Dr. Kelly treated with the same compassion and understanding we demand? Why wasn’t he given a chance to explain himself, acknowledge his error, and apologize?

I don’t know about you, but I was given a second-chance when I had weight loss surgery.

I was treated by a doctor who was probably just as frustrated as Dr. Kelly with having to operate on an obese patient — but he operated on me anyway — just as Dr. Kelly does.

Fortunately, there is a lesson to this mess:

We  Should All Be Perfect and Never Make Mistakes.

Wait. Maybe that *isn’t* the lesson, although, to read the hate mail Dr. Kelly received, you’d surely *think* it was.

Let me try that again…

The moral of the story is this:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Take the time to understand what you do not understand
  • Make decisions based upon accurate information
  • Forgive when forgiveness is honestly requested

Pretty simple, don’t you think?

I am a fan of Dr. Kelly — the man who made a serious mistake.
The man who offended a million people in one fell swoop.
The man who tried to be funny, but wasn’t.
The man who saves people’s live through surgery.
The man who apologized for the error of his ways.
The man who is not being given a second chance.

I’m not asking you to be a fan; I’m asking you to forgive and allow him to make amends. I truly believe he is a “convert to the cause.” He wants to join the battle against bias, stigmatism and criticism of the obese. I think that, if you’ll give him a chance, you might hear something you actually agree with.

At the end of the day, no one issued me death threats when I was obese; I believe Dr. Kelly deserves the same consideration. He is, after all, only human.

October 27, 2011   11 Comments

Drinking & WLS: I Choose Not To

What we say is as important as how we say it, and what we hear is most important of all.

I’ve spent a lot of time dissecting my self-talk. I think about how I speak to myself – what tone I use, whether or not I’m condemning myself, and whether I’m being kind, compassionate and loving, or mean, unforgiving and shaming. You’ve heard it said that you should talk to yourself the way you would talk to your friend, and if you wouldn’t say it to them – DON’T say it to yourself.

I’ve done pretty well with cleaning up my self-trash-talking (although I still beat myself up and take a little longer than I’d like to express forgiveness), but something happened this past weekend that really threw me for a loop.

Here’s where my tale begins: While I was at the final Obesity Help event of the year (Thank you, Long Island) I found myself doing things that I don’t normally do. For starters, I went out to dinner. Twice. And, I ate something other than a salad. Now, you know my travails and you’ve heard all of my pouch woes, so my food choices are often less about tremendous “will-power” and more about what will actually “go down the gullet” (and stay there.) Typically speaking, there just isn’t a great deal out there that I can really “feast upon,” so I tend NOT to go there (if you know what I mean.)

As a result of wanting to be able to eat well when I travel, I pack (Read: schlep) tons of protein with me. I bring shakes, drinks, bars and soy chips. Yup. I’m a walking processed protein factory, but that’s only because it’s über hard to travel with lettuce, vegetables, cottage cheese, salsa, greek yogurt and feta cheese!

But, I digress.

As I said, this time, I did things I don’t normally do. I went out to eat, and I ate. I made healthy choices (sesame encrusted ahi tuna, antipasto and veggies). For the food, anyway. Here’s where things got squirrelly: I had a drink – no, not water. I had a crazy martini drink. I loved it and told myself that, since I never do it, it’s okay. I don’t have a problem with alcohol, and I always keep it in check, so…no biggie.

Except that, later in the evening, I had ANOTHER DRINK. Yes, Me.
Okay…I bowed to some “peer pressure” (which is no justification, but it makes a super great excuse.) Anyway, that was that and I collapsed into bed for the evening. No harm, no foul, though I was a little worse for the wear.

That might have been the end of it…had I not gone out to dinner. AGAIN. THIS TIME, I had TWO DRINKS. Yes, you read that correctly. I ordered two ridiculous drinks…and got loopy. I didn’t like the way I felt and I wished that I could undo what I’d done. But, I couldn’t. So, I was left with my poor choices…and my self-loathing.

It took me until the next morning to figure out the lesson in the behavior. You see, I try to live my life as a positive example for others – and that’s a lot of pressure. No, I don’t try to be perfect, but I do my best to model healthy behaviors that I believe in. I am honest about my shortcomings (hello, Oreos?) and don’t believe in being someone I’m not. I have values that I live by and respect.

So, what’s the deal here? On the face of it, I can tell myself that I’m ashamed that I did this in front of people who expected more of me (but, hat’s the easy thing to say). I can’t undo it, and I’m finding it really hard to forgive myself for my poor choice – though I know forgiveness will come.

Here is where the self-talk comes into play: For so long, I told myself that I wouldn’t drink any alcohol because I “don’t need it,” and because “I don’t feel it’s appropriate” for my healthy lifestyle. I mean, if I say no to sugar in my food, how can I say “okay” to sugar in booze? It’s dishonest.

In other words, I didn’t drink because I shouldn’t drink, which really translated into something that sounded more like, “I CAN’T DRINK.”

Hmmm…

Evidently, that didn’t sit well with my psyche because, logically, anyway, I know that I CAN drink. In other words, I have been lying to myself, and the petulant little Cari found a way around it by saying, “Yes, you can drink. Don’t tell me what to do.” 
 
So, here’s the ultimate lesson from my drinking episode: I CAN drink, but I CHOOSE not to. In other words, it not a willpower thing, it’s a value thing. It’s honoring and respecting my personal valuesWow! That sounds really crazy, right? But, when I “distill” it down, I realize that I value my health more than I value alcohol.
 
So I have made a solemn pledge to myself that I CHOOSE to never (yes, never is a long time), ever drink alcohol again. I made this promise because I believe that drinking is detrimental to my mental and physical health. 
  • I am lying to myself when I say it’s “not that bad,” because…it really is that bad.
  • I am lying to myself when I say, “I can do whatever I want,” because I know that just because I can, doesn’t mean I should.
  • I am lying to myself when I say I can’t, because ultimately, I know that I can.

Chalk it up to personal accountability and taking responsibility for my body. But, make no mistake: Drinking is a choice. It’s not a “don’t” or “can’t.” And that’s where the whole self-talk thing really comes into play. For a long time, I told myself something I knew wasn’t true. Just like a child, I said, “don’t tell me I can’t, because I can.” This weekend, I paid a price, and my self-respect took a hit.

The good news is, it’s only a wasted experience if I DON’T learn anything from it – and I have. Hey, if I have to shovel this much horse-poo, there’d better be a pony under here somewhere, right?

Okay, I know what you’re saying: But, Cari, where is the bigger lesson in all of this???

Here it is: If I CAN drink, but CHOOSE not to, then the same must hold true for FOOD. I CAN eat Oreos, cheap carbs and unhealthy foods, but I must CHOOSE not to because, doing so will compromise my personal values.

Phew..that is some heavy stuff…and I won’t say I’m “there yet” (because I’m not) but I am closer than I’ve ever been  – AND I believe I’ve made a breakthrough. I’m on my way.

Here’s the take-away? I am (finally) learning to hear what I’m actually saying, and learning to say what I actually mean.

How do you talk to yourself and what do you hear yourself saying? Do you have a “sliding scale” of acceptable things you put in your mouth? Do you tell yourself, “Hey, I don’t eat this, so I should be able to have a little of that…?” I’d love to hear the conversations you have with yourself, so leave me a comment and let me know.

October 26, 2011   4 Comments