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Category — Motivational Musings

ROCKS AND ROLLIN’

It was the summer between 7th and 8th grade, and my roller skates (not blades, mind you, skates) were my car. In those days, my friends and I skated EVERYWHERE, especially to the mall, the park and yes, stealthily past my crush’s house. I have no idea why I thought it was a good idea to skate “by” a guy’s house, but when you’re 12-1/2, lots of things seem like good ideas. Anyway, on this particular summer’s day, my friend and I decided to skate to the park for an ice cream. I was FLYING…wind blowing through my hair; trees, grass, kids and playground whizzing by, when – THUD! I was on the ground.

How did that happen? Oh no! Did anybody see me? Yes, of course they did; the entire world was looking at me…you know, the girl who thought she could skate…the show-off with the wind-blown hair. Yeah, that one. Ha ha, she was on the ground. Apparently, she can’t skate…

That’s what they were all thinking. I was convinced of it.

Yikes! What do I do?

GET UP AND IMMEDIATELY BEGIN LOOKING FOR THE MASSIVE BOULDER THAT TRIPPED ME. That’s right, search for the cause of my fall. Search for something to blame. Search for whatever huge thing struck me down in my finest hour.

Okay, that’s weird…I couldn’t find any boulders. Hmmm…Maybe it was a stone – something about the size of a small car…Nope. No boulder, no stone. How about…a log? A Stick? Don’t tell me it was a pebble?

(Time to up the ante and intensify my search efforts.)

Still nothing. Sigh. Despite my most emphatic gestures and impressive scene-making, I found NOTHING (not even a pebble). There was absolutely nothing there that could trip me.

Well, not one to let a perfectly good crisis go to waste, I triumphantly raised my closed hand and exclaimed, “Ah-ha! Here it is! Stupid rock! I can’t believe I didn’t see that!” And then, I threw it far, far away…toward the grassy knoll where no one would ever find it.

The funny thing is, I hadn’t thrown anything, because I hadn’t found anything. BUT, I couldn’t let everyone else know that, so I pretended that there was something to blame.

I suppose it doesn’t matter that everyone had gone back to their business and forgotten about me by the time I mimed the stone’s throw, but I was still paying attention, and so was my friend (who was pretending not to laugh), and I NEEDED TO FIND SOMETHING TO BLAME.

In retrospect, the way I dealt with that stumble was a boilerplate for my life. I hated being wrong and I didn’t want anyone to think I was stupid. Yes, I realize it was an accident, but in my mind, it was a dumb accident that I should have avoided. Clearly, if I thought it was dumb, then everyone else must have thought so too. Rather than accepting the fact that I was just another girl who had fallen in the park while skating, I learned to deflect, deny, rationalize, explain, make excuses and dramatize…those were my “go-to” behaviors, and they weren’t healthy.

I believed I needed to find something to blame so I could justify circumstances in my life. And, I did that a lot with my obesity. I was always looking for the boulder…or the stone…or the log that kept me from losing weight, keeping weight off…being skinny.

The cause of my obesity HAD to be something outside of myself, I reasoned. It had to be humongous and impossible to avoid, I concluded.

True, there were some boulders and stones and logs, but once I skated past those (genetics, environment, etc.), the rest of the path was up to me.

These days (thanks to things like therapy and a lot of personal work), when I fall, I get up, dust myself off and don’t make a big deal out of it. Either that, or I laugh it off (which I prefer!)

At the end of the day, people may think I’m a dufus, but that’s okay because I AM A DUFUS. Here’s where I’ll end my little skating tale: I’ve learned not to take life so seriously, and when you fall, don’t look for something to blame–look for a way to get back up again, and carry on.

How about you? Do you tend to look for boulders, rocks and logs to blame for the things that trip you up in life? OR, do you accept reality as it is, get up when you fall, and maybe even laugh sometimes?

You already know what I do. Now, where did I pack those skates…?

July 20, 2015   4 Comments

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

Making the Grade: Are you afraid to fail?

I don’t know about you, but I was never a very good test-taker in school. At the time, I was convinced that it was because I just wasn’t able to remember things as well as people like my brother, who often bragged that he could ace any test without even trying or studying.

I now know that my perception of test-taking was horribly flawed by misbeliefs and misperceptions.

show_your_work

Ironically, I was always in advanced classes (except in math), and typically got A’s and B’s. In elementary school, I was in a “mixed class,” where they combined first and second graders in the same room. I was always watching (studying) the second grade curriculum, rather than the first grade curriculum, because I believed that I had already learned everything they could teach me in first grade, when I was in private school for Kindergarten!

I believed I was smarter than all of the first graders.

I had this belief about a lot of things in grade school. My best friend was about a year older than me, so when we went to camp or Sunday School, my mom would always “weedle” to get me into the class with the older kids. I assigned myself as my friend’s protector. And this worked, (until I was in fifth grade and she was in sixth), when she found a new best friend her own age and I was suddenly lost. I was out of a job.

In junior high, there were new friends to make (and protect), only…a lot of these friends were smarter than me. They were GOOD at math and I wasn’t. Though I continued to be in advanced classes, “they” always seemed to have an “easier” time of it. They never seemed to have to work hard at it and things just came naturally.

By the tender age of 13, I had mastered the art of comparison, and if there had been a class in it, I’d surely have scored an “A” – not for achievement, but for “absorbed,” because I was consumed by my own deficiencies.

By high school, the pattern was set. There were always others who were smarter, better, brighter, prettier, faster, more artistic, more accomplished, or richer. I was in AP (Advanced Placement) classes with “very smart” people who “got” A’s and passed the AP tests (which meant they were well-qualified to earn scholarships to prestigious universities.) Meanwhile, I struggled to maintain B’s and C’s and did not take the AP tests. My friends “got” 1300+ on their SAT’s; I earned a little under 1100. I lied to myself for years about my score because I could stand the thought of being viewed as average – or stupid. By “failing” the SAT, I believed that I had failed the ultimate test: LIFE.

So, here’s the point of that characterization:

From the time I was young, I believed (through various pieces of misinterpreted empirical evidence) that things were just “easier” for others and that scoring well on tests was largely a matter of luck. I believed that test-taking was a skill I just didn’t possess. I believed that letter grades on the top of my papers were a direct representation of my value as a person. As the grades dropped, so did my self-worth. I began to take what I got because I figured it represented my true value.

After high school, I began to surround myself by people who were “less intelligent” so that I could feel superior without even trying. If they called me on it, I would simply say that I wasn’t doing anything wrong, and if they had a problem, it was there fault. In other words, if they weren’t making the grade, it was on them.

Just think, I “learned” all of this from a fear of taking tests.

I’m sitting here asking myself, “Why didn’t someone set me straight?” Oh sure, people told me how smart I was, and how I wasn’t living up to my potential – but they said that to my brother, too, and he got straight A’s. In other words, he was brilliant and a genius, yet he was told he could do better. Compare that to my self-view, and you end up with a person who couldn’t do or be better if she tried.

It only took me about 40 years to figure it out, but as my father always said, “Experience keeps a dear school, but a fool will have no other.” (Yeah, that confused me for a long time, too, but I understand it now and this “fool finally learned what dad was always saying:

If you want to succeed at anything in life, you have to….

  • Want it.
  • Prepare for it.
  • Study for it.
  • Commit to it.
  • Believe you can do it.

For the first 40 years of my life, I can say that I “wanted it”…but that is where my plan for success ended, and that is why I did not achieve the success I claimed to want!

Fast forward to my Bariatric After Life.™

People often tell me that managing my weight is just “easier” for me and that I am “lucky” to have lost as much as I did. They tell me they are terrified of regain and failure, something I will “never” have to worry about.

Well I say, weight management is like anything else in life. Look at it as a series of tests, if you want, but the thing is, it has NOTHING to do with luck or ease and everything to do with preparation, commitment and thebelief that you can do it.

If living a healthy life were like a test, what would I have to do to score a good grade on it?

  1. I would have to know (be prepared for) what is going to be on the test. Good teachers always give you a syllabus at the beginning of the course and tell you what to study. They give you a list of books and materials that you’ll have to read in order to do well in the class, and they’ll often give you a study guide. Hey, in spelling, you get the answers in advance! In other words, I’m going to need to know what is expected of me.
  2. I will have to do the assigned work (studying, reading, answering questions, writing essays) to prepare for the test. People don’t have a “testing gene” in their DNA; they aren’t genetically wired to somehow now how to ace tests. They might have an aptitude or predisposition for being able to learn quickly and understand what will be expected of them – but they aren’t psychic. In other words, even pop quizzes aren’t really total surprises. No, if you’ve been paying attention, you already know what’s on the quiz.
  3. I have to want it badly enough to ask questions when I don’t understand something, and I have put in the time and effort required to do the work. I can’t just give up when it gets hard or confusing.
  4. I have to believe I can pass the test. If I have done the work, asked the questions, and know what the test is about, I must believe that I am ready to pass it – not because I am lucky or smarter, but because I am prepared.
  5. I have to take the test. This is no time for fear. I can’t be worried about failure here…it’s time to succeed.

Thoughts about tests.

There are lots of different kinds of tests: Pop Quiz, Essay, Multiple Choice (otherwise known as “Multiple Guess), Fill in the Blank, Verbal, and True/False (just to name a few). We took those tests in school and still take them in life. The difference is, we don’t get a letter grade on the top of our paper – but we do know when we come up with the wrong answer! I used the word “wrong” on purpose. That’s because we are familiar with the terminology of tests: You’re Right or Wrong; You Passed or Failed – and it was either Incomplete or complete. When you miss something, you get a check mark, and when you do well, you get a gold star or a happy face. Right?

Well, I believe that many of us have applied what we think we learned in school on tests to what we think we know about life: We’re right or wrong. We pass or we fail. We give up because we are afraid we’ll miss one of the questions…which earns us an incomplete.

Hmmm…why are we afraid to miss a question on the test? Isn’t that how you learn? Didn’t your teacher give you the right answer when you answered incorrectly? Didn’t you learn that getting something wrong enables you to get it right next time? What about those math tests…show your work! Why? So the teacher can show you where you went off track – and give you partial credit!

You know, I think we should show our work on our life tests. I think we should not look at life as a series of passes (successes) or failures; rights or wrongs, trues or falses…we should look at life as a series of lessons. When we learn that something doesn’t work, we need to change our answer for the next time that same question shows up in life. We need to build upon the work we are doing – the studying and preparation – so that we can advance, move up, learn more…succeed at life.

Life is full of tests – but you don’t have to feel unprepared for them. You already know the answers (or have enough knowledge to figure them out) because life is the best teacher of all – if you’re willing to learn.

Here’s the bottom line for me: When I didn’t do well on tests, it was because I didn’t study or prepare; I didn’t learn from my incorrect answers…I didn’t ask questions, because I thought I should already know the answers. I didn’t do well on essays because I didn’t believe I knew enough about the question to answer, and the 50/50 chance of the true/false often felt like 90/10 (false!)

I’ll end with this true story from 10th Grade AP History.

Our teacher, Mr. Wyatt, was a great instructor who was passionate about the subject of history. He loved watching his students succeed and gave us all the opportunity to do well in his class. We got study notes, knew what would be on the tests, and were encouraged to ask questions.

Now, here’s the unique part: His tests always featured a “correction factor” because he knew that, not all tests are perfect, he might not have covered a certain topic thoroughly enough in our class and, that people can misinterpret meanings.

The correction factor was equal the highest grade in each class, so if someone scored a 93/100, that person would earn the factor of 7 and get a 100/100; everyone else would get 7 points added to their score. This was a great system, but many of us hoped that the highest grade in the class would be low so we’d get a higher correction factor added to our grade!

It’s funny, really, because we still missed what we missed, but it was just easier to blame the “smart person” in the room.

Unfortunately, I didn’t like to read my history book (it was big and wordy) and AP History was 6th period for me, which was immediately after 5th period lunch – so I always fell asleep and Mr. Wyatt always kicked my chair to gently “nudge” me awake. Did I mention my brother was one of his favorite students four years earlier? Did I mention that the semester final contained 200 multiple choice questions? Did I mention that anyone who could miss 100% of the questions would score 100% on their paper (thus, eliminating the correction factor)? Did I mention that one guy got exactly one right on the final exam? That took guts and needless to say, he scored a 1/200…well, the correction factor was 13…so he really got 14/200 – clearly, not an A.

The moral of the story? Life has a correction factor…if we look for it. And that’s a good thing. We can pass the tests that come our way – even if we don’t get a “perfect” score on our paper, a big red “A+” on page one, or a gold star at the top. We can learn when we get it wrong, and we can encourage others to do well.

The Bariatric After Life is not a pop quiz. We don’t have to fear the test; we can welcome it as a new opportunity to learn where we can do better. Ultimately, we must believe that we have the answers to the questions, or have what it takes to figure it out. We are prepared (or are preparing) to pass the test. There are no letter grades here, and the only “fail” is the one you put on your own paper. You won’t get in trouble if you ask your neighbor for help here, but it’s best to ask the teacher. The correction factor is as big or small as you make it, but at the end of the day, you have to BELIEVE that you can succeed at maintaining a healthy life.

Remember to show your work – partial credit counts!

February 18, 2013   1 Comment

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

A Reason to Quit

This was originally posted on Gastric Bypass Barbie “way back” in August 2009. I thought it was quite apropos. Especially for today…when I see people flirting with disaster…making unwise choices…quitting…giving up on their weight loss goals…quitting the journey. May you choose to ignore all of your own reasons to quit, and cling to the one reason to keep going: Y-O-U. ~ Me

A Reason to Quit

 

Today, I was making the rounds on my new favorite blogs, when I came across an article that hit me straight between the eyes. The site is refusetoregain.com, and, while it’s not bariatric-centric, it IS relevant, as anyone who has lost a ton of weight needs help to keep it off.

“Refusing Under Stress,” is written by Dr. Barbara Berkeley, a board certified internist who specializes in the care of overweight and obese patients, and is one of two doctors who operate the site. In this particular article, she discusses the rationale of using “stress” as an excuse to practice “food soothing” (the fine art of making yourself feel better by eating things like cake, cookies, ice cream sundaes, and other garbage.) She includes a short list that mentions everything from worrying about money, to having trouble with a child, being sick, being busy, or even worrying about a doctor or dentist appointment. In other words, there isn’t a single day in anyone’s life where there isn’t a “qualifying stressor” that could trigger the “right” to participate in “food soothing.”

Ouch.

She agrees that the list could go on for pages, but her point was that anyone who plays the “just this once” card to deal with stress is more likely to do it daily, rather than “once in a great while.” Clearly, this is a habit that leads to weight regain.

But, how do we deal with stress? We’ve all heard that one solution is to distract ourselves with another thought or activity, which in her case, revolves around running. When she first began this form of exercise, she bought a book by an Olympic runner that explained how to build up to long distance running.

It turns out that distance runners are a lot like weight maintainers, in that they struggle to continue DESPITE DISCOMFORT. Hmmm…

In other words, even though I, as a gastric surgery after lifer experience hunger throughout the day, I am training myself to distinguish the type of hunger, address it properly and administer the appropriate fix! But what is the exact “thing” that I’m trying to “fix” when I feel hungry? Turns out, it’s DISCOMFORT. I don’t LIKE being hungry.

And this general disdain for discomfort doesn’t limit itself to food. No, as it turns out, it extends to my workout regimen — just as the distance runners say. The more I think about it, the more I realize I am guilty of not pushing myself because I don’t like the way it feels! Here are some of the things I say while I’m in my 2nd half hour on the elliptical at the gym or trying to do my 90th consecutive jumping jack at power tae aerobics:

  • I can’t go on.
  • It’s too hard.
  • I hurt.
  • I’m tired.
  • I’m bored.
  • I can only do so much.
  • I am doing better than yesterday.
  • I should’nt overdo it.
  • I need to build up to it.
  • What if I hurt myself?
  • She’s been doing it longer.
  • I’m blood type A. I’m not as strong as the type O’s.
  • I’m taller.
  • I have bad knees.

This is what the marathon runner in the book calls “messaging” and it’s a very powerful force!

The Mind is Divided: “The power of the mind to push the body to its potential is limited by an internal conflict. The logical side (left brain) does not communicate with the creative side (right brain). A primary mission of the analytical side is to steer you into comfort and away from stress. The more stress you generate from running and other areas, the more negative messages: “slow down,” “stop,” or what is even worse, “why am I doing this?” If you don’t have a mental strategy for dealing with this barrage of negativity, you’ll start losing confidence in your ability to achieve your potential…”

Source: http://refusetoregain.com/my_weblog/2009/08/refusing-under-stress.html

Now, if we can participate in negative messaging, and we can participate in POSITIVE messaging, do we have a third option? YES! We can IGNORE THE MESSAGES. That’s right! We do not have to address the message. As Dr. Berkeley says, we can acknowledge it as if it is a helium filled balloon just “floating by.” It’s like saying, “Hey, that’s a balloon,” but doing nothing about it and returning to the task at hand.

I’m taking this concept of messaging to heart and will be employing my new technique at tae tonight. I will NOT give myself a free pass to slack off just because I’m tired or it gets tough. I will not say that I have a week core, so I can’t do all of the leg lifts. I will not push myself to the point of unreasonable pain, but I will push beyond the manageable sort, because it will help me to build strength.

I guess another old adage proves itself to be true: That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger!

June 24, 2012   4 Comments

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