I need to apologize in advance for the winding and sordid path that will be this blog post. Although it's true that life has been a bit overwhelming for me these last few weeks, which is a partial reason why it has taken me a while to find the time to write, the other reason is that I have been having trouble thinking of what to write about. As much as I love writing this blog, it can be difficult at times to figure out what exactly to write about...or...in actuality, the fact that it's hard to sort through all the jumbles of thoughts and ideas that are bouncing around inside my head at any given point in time. I suppose I could just make shorter blog posts more frequently, enabling myself to maintain a better track record here, but that just seems the easy way out, and I like a challenge! Besides, what would happen if I posted more regularly and it turned out that all of you started to get sick of me? What would I do then? No, I think it's better the way we've been going. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, no?
In a few days it will mark the seventh month since I've had my surgery. I have now lost about 130 pounds, but I still have a lot more to go. My weight loss has definitely plateaued at this point, and I find myself feeling anxious about getting it jump started again. For the first four to five months, all I had to do was wake up each day and I would lose weight. No real effort on my part was really required. I ate the foods that I was supposed to eat (mostly) and exercised here and there, and the weight literally just fell right off me. Since hitting the six month mark, things have become a little more difficult. I am still losing weight, but it is at a much slower rate and I find that I am now at the point where I really need to focus and use my surgery as the tool it was meant to be. Because of the surgery, I still need to eat slowly and even then I can only eat so much at a time, but this is where using the tool comes into play.
Prior to having the surgery, I tried repeatedly to lose weight by using that old stand-by of eating healthy and exercising more often. The exercising was difficult because I was so heavy that not only did I not have any energy by the time I got home each night, I also found even the most mundane exercises to be taxing at times. I would walk the dogs but could easily get winded and riding our exercise bike was better than nothing, but it never really felt like I was really working out since I never really felt like it got my heart rate up, and I'm a firm believer that you're not getting a good workout unless you're hot and sweaty. It might sound gross, but it's the truth, and the bike definitely wasn't doing it for me. So, exercise was hit or miss. I often tried to compensate for that by eating better, but the problem was that I could bring veggies to work with me every day with the great intentions of only eating those for lunch, but the reality was that they wouldn't fill me up and/or would make me hungry again only an hour or two later, which often resulted in my snacking on something or having a second helping at dinner, both of which derailed whatever progress I made by eating the veggies in the first place. This is where using the surgery as a tool comes in. Since having the surgery, my stomach can only hold so much food at a time, which means that not only can I bring a sandwich bag full of veggies for lunch that will fill me up, I will also stay full longer, meaning not as many desires to snack in the afternoon. The great thing about that too is that when I eat mainly veggies for lunch and limit my carb/starch intake, I find that I'm not as likely to crash when 4:00 comes around, which means that by the time I get home at 6:00 I don't feel like a zombie and have an easier time jumping right on the elliptical or taking the dogs for a mile and a half walk. And of course, being pretty much a whole person lighter than I was seven months ago doesn't hurt either!
I will admit that it's a good feeling to know that I'm learning how to work with the surgery to make better choices for myself, because these are choices that are going to be lifelong. However, even though I know I'm making these good choices and can feel a certain pride about that, it sometimes only adds to the anxiety I currently have about being stuck at my current weight. I have had to work hard to lose these last ten pounds, and I've been stuck near the 130 mark now for a couple of weeks. I know it's common to plateau during any weight loss regimen and it's a difficult time because when you don't constantly see those numbers on the scale decrease, it gives you stress and anxiety...and what happens when you're an emotional eater? You eat when you have stress and anxiety. I've been doing better with this, and I know that I will get past this plateau point eventually, but I know I have had probably more than my fair share of cheat days these last couple weeks. Nothing way overboard, but I have allowed myself dessert more frequently throughout the week, which is something I try to only limit to the weekends, and preferably only one day a week at that. The worst part is that even though I always felt guilty before the surgery about having too many cheat days, now I feel even worse about it, and I think it's because I have come so far. Maybe I expected that once I lost all this weight I would be a different person who would be stronger and capable of making better choices overall and all the time...but that doesn't seem to be happening. I'm still me and I still have the same struggles, the only difference is that now I have had some success and need to make a stronger effort to keep that success in mind and not let myself slip into old, bad habits.
Did I mention the fact that my hair has been falling out? That's another anxiety I have been dealing with for the past 6 weeks or so. Generally, around the sixth month after surgery, your hair starts to fall out, which I believe is mainly due to your body attempting to maintain itself with the probable lesser amount of protein that you are now consuming and/or digesting. Because I had the gastric bypass surgery, my intestines have been partially rerouted, which means that I no longer digest many things the way I used to, including vitamins and other good for me things. Since my body is likely not absorbing the same amount of protein it was used to prior to my surgery, it is now compensating by making me shed like crazy...which to be honest, is something I never had a problem with anyway. The surgeon told me it would only be temporary, but I'm not sure how long "temporary" really is, or maybe he and I have a different meaning of the word "temporary". At this point, I know that temporary definitely means longer than days and weeks, and I am at the verge of knowing that it also means longer than months...I'm hoping my knowledge will stop there. I don't think the surgeon would lie to me, but it's hard to keep that in mind when I see the large clumps of hair in the drain every time I take a shower. Let's just say it's a little unsettling. To help compensate for the hair loss, I am taking a supplement called Biotin on a daily basis. It helps support metabolism but is primarily used for nail and hair growth. I take it every day without fail, and I can admit that it has definitely sped up the growing process for my hair and nails. My hair seems to get longer by the day (which is good considering I want to grow it out for my wedding in October) and I find that I can barely keep up with how fast my nails grow...and yet my hair is still falling out on a very routine basis. It's kind of funny actually in that my hair is growing very quickly while it is also falling out very quickly, so somehow these two things seem to help balance each other out. Mind you, I would much prefer to just have the growing quicker part and cease the falling out part, but at least the Biotin has (so far) stopped me from having any major bald spots (at least that I'm aware of!). My hair is noticeably thinner than it used to be and I long for the day when I can wear my hair down without having to pull off random hair strands constantly throughout the day, but until then, I have to remind myself that I have to take the good with the bad. I might not be happy about my rapidly thinning hair, but it's a small price to pay for losing as much weight as I have and making myself healthier overall.
Another contributing factor to my overall stress and general difficulty finding the time to write posts for this blog is that I have also been suffering with bouts of depression on and off for the last month or so. My body is still going through a lot of changes, which I'm sure plays a part on my emotional well being, but there is also the stress of wedding planning, everyday financial woes, finalizing my mom's estate, and generally just missing her like crazy. The financial woes are nothing new and will likely remain for quite some time to come, but I, like probably most people, am looking forward to the day when I will not have so many debts hanging over my head. I have already come to the realization that I will be paying off my student loans for the next 20 years, so that isn't going anywhere, plus I have a car loan and past credit problems that continue to haunt me, and I don't even want to think about what will happen when someday Roland and I are ready to own a house. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that Roland and I will ever be able to be completely debt free since we are your typical middle-class couple who make OK money to get by, but really don't have a lot on the side to do anything extravagant with. We still live paycheck to paycheck and sometimes have to be creative when paying bills in order to make sure everything gets covered. We get by though and as I said, it's not something that will be fixed anytime soon, but still, it would be nice to not have to worry about it so constantly. I'm sure that's a concept that's nothing new to most of you out there reading this right now.
Usually I try not to let money worries get me down, but that is difficult while trying to plan a wedding. It's amazing to me how expensive weddings are and I have no idea how so many people can afford to have such elegant and over the top weddings when we are just going to be scraping by on a very meager budget. I am very lucky in that I have a lot of very wonderful people around me who will be helping me in numerous ways for this wedding. I am getting a discounted rate on my DJ, cupcakes, photographer, and printing costs, plus I have friends who are constantly on the lookout for ways of doing traditional wedding trends at do-it-yourself prices, which I am incredibly thankful for. Overall, I'm going to be able to have this wedding without completely breaking the bank, but it's still difficult to not worry about all the money adding up that is needed to pay for everything...and the one major thing I have learned about weddings is that there is always something else that is going to come up that will require money that you either forgot or didn't even know about. I'm trying desperately to focus on the good aspects and just enjoy planning the wedding and using my creativity to make this day really be all about what is important to Roland and I...but again, money has a way of interfering even with that at times.
The hardest part out of everything though is that as happy as I am to be getting married to my best friend in a mere five months, the closer I get to my wedding day, the more I miss my mom. Weddings are always showcased as a time when mothers and daughters come together to do all the planning and pick out the wedding dress and set up the bridal showers, and I never expected to have to do all of this without my mom. I feel very blessed that I have a really great relationship with Roland's mom and I have been warmly welcomed into their family and am glad to have them all with us on our big day, but it's still hard to not have my mom here. It's especially hard when today would have been her 55th birthday and Mother's Day is just around the corner. This is a difficult time of year for me in general, but this year it seems even more intense due to the fact that I'm missing her while also trying to plan a wedding that she was supposed to be here to help me with. Knowing that with her birthday and Mother's Day approaching I would likely have more than my usual amount of down days, it still doesn't prepare me for when the down days really hit, especially since they don't often come when I expect them to. You would think that with the amount of grief suffered in this world on such a frequent basis, we, as people in general, would be able to better prepare for and deal with grief once it hits. This is not true. No matter how much you think you are prepared for it, grief can catch you completely unprepared and kick you in the ass. I think about my mom multiple times every single day, and although it's still easy for me to feel overcome by sadness, I'm also slowly learning how to think of her and the happy times we shared, without having the memories altered by feelings of sadness or anger. It's not easy, and in all honesty, I remember her with tears more often than I do with a smile, but as time progresses it does get a little easier....albeit very slowly. I would give anything to have my mom here with me right now, as I get ready to try on wedding dresses and write my vows, but since having her here with me in spirit is the closest I'm going to get, I'll have to accept that and know she is with me and guiding me along the way