First and foremost, Happy New Year everyone! It's now officially 2012, can you believe it?! There are a lot of things that are going to be happening this year, and I for one, am very excited...which I'm sure has nothing to do with the fact that I'm GETTING MARRIED this year! ;) Of course, this upcoming year will hold plenty of difficult moments too, especially when it comes time for the hardcore wedding planning; I already know that picking out a wedding dress is going to prove to be very difficult without my mom by my side, but she's with me in spirit and I just have to hold on to that knowledge and I'll get through it. Luckily though, I'm feeling increasingly better each and every day since my surgery and I'm using that positive energy (both physically and emotionally) to plunge ahead into the New Year.
Speaking of my surgery, I was more than a little curious to see how well I would do throughout the holiday season, in terms of eating, since if your families are anything like mine, the holidays all revolve around food and all the marvelous things you can stuff into your face. Thanksgiving was the first big hurdle because let's face it, it's a holiday all about food and eating as much as possible. I mean honestly, who even really remembers what this holiday is really supposed to be about, considering that every portrayal consists of pilgrims and stereotypical "Indians" eating turkey and corn? But I digress. I'm happy to report that just shy of two months after my surgery, I was able to eat actual Thanksgiving food on Thanksgiving! Albeit it wasn't a lot, but it was more than enough and I was incredibly thankful to just be participating and not having to "chow down" on Jell-O while everyone else stuffed themselves with turkey, potatoes, buns, stuffing, and pumpkin pie (all my favorites). The key was (and always is post-surgery) to just eat slowly and pay attention to feeling full...and then STOP! On my plate I had turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole (only we make it with peas and affectionately call it Pea Goop), and stuffing...and it was all delicious! I tried to eat more turkey than anything else (proteins are VERY important post-surgery) and even though I wasn't able to have seconds or even clear my plate (something I have never had a problem with in the past), I left the table feeling very, but comfortably full and had little-to-no side effects the rest of the night, even after having a small piece of pumpkin pie. I call that a success!
Already having battled Thanksgiving, I figured Christmas would be a breeze, especially since this year we ended up having very similar dishes on both days, the only difference being the locations and the people who actually made the food. Christmas dinner consisted of turkey and ham (always good options when feeding a large family), mashed potatoes, stuffing, squash, green bean casserole (this time made the traditional way), buns, salad, and I think a few other things (I lost track!). I stuck with pretty much the same menu as I had on Thanksgiving, with some ham and salad thrown in for good measure, and basically repeated the same process. I ate slowly and stopped when I started feeling full. It didn't matter that my eyes are still (and almost physically) bigger than my stomach (lol) and that I didn't (again) even clear my plate...it just mattered that I ate what I was comfortable with and paid attention to my body's signals until I reached the level of being comfortably full...and stopped.
I know I keep making a big point of this, but it's a very important point since anyone who has ever had a weight problem and/or a food addiction (it's amazing how often they go hand in hand!) knows that being able to stop eating when you feel full is a very BIG DEAL. I have lost count a million times over about how many meals I have walked away from feeling completely bloated and so uncomfortably full that I have vowed to never eat that much again...whether it was during a big holiday meal or just a dinner out on the town at our favorite Mexican restaurant, and yet time and time again it continued to happen. I have always had trouble just saying "No" when it comes to food, and it was nothing for me to eat past my full capacity at every meal. This is where the emotional aspects come in and where it's time to face the food and addiction demons, especially when trying to find out why I was eating so much so often and basically filling any emotional holes in my life with my main comfort: food.
Having an emotionally and physically distant father my whole life left me with quite a few insecurities. Although I got more than my fair share of love and support from my mother, stepfather, sister and other family members, it's still hard to focus on all the good when there's that one big blemish in your life that gives you so much pain. I'm not going to sit here and blame my weight and any failures in my life on my father, but I do know for a fact that my relationship (or lack thereof) with him definitely played a key factor in the need for me to seek emotional support from food. It's a compensation tool that I took way too seriously, and it took me until I became an adult to truly understand what all of this meant. I was in and out of therapist offices throughout most of my adolescence as I suffered with my weight and a general depression and anxiety disorder. I was given anti-depressants (turns out Prozac is NOT good for teenagers who might have suicidal thoughts/tendencies! Who woulda thunk it?!) and one doctor even prescribed me Phen-Phen (remember that lovely little lethal weight loss drug???). Suffice it to say that at the time, nothing really helped and even though I gradually came out of my depression some time during high school, my weight still continued to climb as I sought acceptance in any fatty/sugary/comfort food I could get. Even after I graduated high school and then received my Bachelor's Degree, I was looking forward to becoming an adult but couldn't ditch the main thing holding me back, my food addiction. I wish I could say there was an easy way out or a great epiphany that helped me...but the truth is, like with any addict, I wasn't able to fix the problem until I could understand it and face it head-on. It got to the point where I had finally met the man of my dreams (Awwww) and knew that I wanted to marry him, have a family with him, and spend the rest of my life with him...and none of that would really be possible unless I made some serious changes. I had to take a serious inventory of what was going on in my heart and in my head that was making me think I needed to fill this emotional void with food, and I'll be honest, it took a lot of soul searching. Things got uncomfortable and I had to have some serious discussions with myself and with my family, friends and my fiance. I forced myself to talk about my weight and my fears and my struggles, and it wasn't until I started to honestly open up to other people, that I began to honestly open up with myself. By facing my fears and concerns head-on, I was able to finally see my food addiction for what it was and therefore begin taking the necessary steps to fix it. For me, one of those necessary steps was gastric bypass surgery, but that doesn't mean that is a fix for everyone. Each person has their own path and journey. Despite the fact that I now eat considerably less at each meal than I used to and try to eat more healthily than I used to, it doesn't mean that I can't still have slip-ups or think that I need to eat more than is necessary. It also doesn't mean that I no longer find comfort in food, as that is all very much still a reality. What it does mean is that I am more conscious of how I am eating and work hard at each meal to stick to my overall plan. Like they say, it's one day at a time...and I want there to be many MANY more days in my future!