Saturday, May 19, 2018

"Too Much" Equals "Not Enough"

It seems like everything and everyone I encounter lately point out to me that I am too fat. My previous entry, It Still Hurts, describes my experience in the grocery store a week ago. Well, it looks like that was just the beginning of the end for me. In the past ten days, my weight has been all that I can focus on. I went to a doctor of mine to discuss possible options for dealing with chronic pain. Well, I never saw the doctor. The nurse who checked me in asked if I was there for another injection. I replied that I wasn't sure if that's what I wanted to do because they don't seem to be helping anymore. She then informed me that I shouldn't expect the doctor to work miracles when the real problem is that I am too fat. If only I'd exercise and eat a salad once in a while, I wouldn't be in this position, she said. I looked over at my reflection in the mirror at the end of the examining room table and felt an overwhelming sense of deep shame. And then I got up and left. I never waited on the doctor. After all, the nurse was right, right? My pain is my own fault. When I got out to the car, I took out my phone and made several calls, cancelling appointments with my endocrinologist, family physician, and OB/GYN, telling myself that I'm too fat to ask for treatment for my medical conditions. I always apologize to the EMTs for having to track down an extra person to load me into an ambulance when I need to go to the ER. God forbid that anything should happen to me in my own apartment and first responders would have to get me up the stairs.

I got on Face book a couple of days later to find a post from a friend. It showed a picture of an obese woman getting out of her car in a handicapped spot in the parking lot. My friend's response to that picture was (he used all caps) "YOU'RE NOT HANDICAPPED, YOU'RE FAT!" He went on to say that the BMV should create a special tag for fat people and require them to park in the spaces furthest from the store so that they would have to do a little exercise on their way in to buy cookies and ice cream. Again, ,I felt ashamed. It must be what everyone else is thinking when they see me get out of the car. I no longer make eye contact with others. It's less painful to look down at my feet.

I was riding in the car with a family member about a month ago and this person commented that "----- would be so much prettier if she would lose a bit of weight." So, I asked if that meant the person in question wasn't pretty because they were overweight. The response I got was that they weren't saying the individual wasn't pretty, just that they could look so much more attractive if they dropped some weight. I then asked what they thought about me, as I am much heavier, only to be met with silence. At the South Side Diner the other day I could feel eyes on me coming from the older couple in the booth directly across the aisle. I heard the older lady say to her husband "How could anybody let themselves get that big?" I glanced over at her, wanting her to know that I heard what she said and I wanted to scream out to everyone there that I was eating a cheeseburger patty, no bun, a side salad, and cottage cheese, and drinking water, all of which are foods I am "allowed" to eat on the food plan established by my weight loss doctor so FUCK OFF! But, I didn't. I pushed my plate aside, asked for my bill, then went home and forced myself to throw up, chastising myself for being "bad". For being hungry. For needing to eat at all. For being alive.

I've found myself really listening to what others are saying about weight lately. I have several friends who have been losing weight. Some, intentionally through diet and exercise. Some due to eating disorders. Some, unintentionally as a result of other physical health issues. No matter what the underlying reason, the comments made by my friends to these individuals go something like this: "You are getting so skinny! You look great! I wish I was that skinny!" I cringe every time I hear those words and remain silent, full of shame and self-loathing. I've cut back on going out to dinner with my friends because, once again, I am worried about being judged for what I order. I worry about how I look compared to everyone else and I'm angry that I am even visible. I've started leaving meetings early, to avoid the "expected" hugging afterward because I am self conscious. I'm not sleek and thin. I'm big and squishy. I don't deserve love.

I seems like I can't not focus on my weight or size anymore. I turn down invitations to go to friends houses because I don't know what kind of furniture they have, knowing that it is hard for me to get up and down from chairs. I don't fit in most booths at restaurants any more. I can't sit outside and enjoy watching the sunset because lawn chairs do not hold me. I don't like to ride with others because the seat belts in their cars might not fit around me. I can't buy clothes at the store, because they don't carry my size. I turned down an opportunity to go on an Alaskan cruise with my family because my weight has caused some physical limitations that would severely limit my ability to go on this trip. Everything is a reminder that I'm too big. It seems like no matter how many things I do "right" (like drinking water, cutting carbs, not eating dessert), it's not enough.

And I, too, am guilty of judging others based on their weight. A friend posted a picture of her daughter's ballet recital on Face book the other night. There were four girls in the front row. My immediate response? The third girl from the left is too fat. And then I started thinking about how painful her life will be if she doesn't slim down. I've totally bought into the idea that thin is what matters. I find myself thinking that thin is all that matters. One of the hardest things to hear from friends and family is "Oh, but I love you anyway." Yes, anyway. That's like saying to someone who has blond hair that I love them anyway, implying that being blond isn't good enough. I know that it shouldn't matter to me what anyone else thinks or says, but it does. There is a saying that goes "what others think of you is none of your business". It's so hard not to make it my business when everywhere I turn, I am faced with reminders that I'm not enough. Several years ago, I was out on a walk and a car of guys, I would say in their early twenties, drove past me. They rolled down the windows of the car and made "oinking" and "mooing" noises at me. As if that weren't embarrassing enough, they turned the car around and made a second pass at me, this time with 3 of them dropping their pants and mooning me while yelling "Here piggy piggy!" So, I joined a health club. I mustered up the courage to go in for my first workout, which took a lot for me to do. I heard two young men mocking me after I got up from using one of the machines. I tried to brush that off and went over to the treadmill. The most I could do was five minutes. I thought I was going to die. As I stepped off the treadmill, the man next to me, who was running on the treadmill, said to me "That's it? That was hardly worth the effort!" I went over to try the recumbent bike but my left knee wouldn't bend enough to allow me to use that either. I crumpled up the exercise plan that the personal trainer had designed for me and I left, hoping I would make it to my car before starting to cry. I never went back, even though I paid the membership fee each month for a full year.  I would so much rather admit to being an alcoholic and drug addict, a sexual abuse and rape survivor, or that I am living with mental illness than have to have the whole world see that I am fat.

I don't know where to go from here. I know that I don't have any answers. This entry is coming from a place of deep pain and frustration. I've lost roughly 60 pounds in the past six months. But, (yes, there is a but) I've gained back 7 pounds in the last two weeks, due in part to a medication change which has resulted in a significantly increased appetite. So, I'm feeling defeated, again. I worry that no matter what I do, or how hard I try, I'm never going to reach an acceptable weight. I'm finding it so hard not to give up.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

It Still Hurts

It's after 10:00 p.m. and I'm getting pretty tired but I wanted to write this while it was still fresh in my mind. I don't really know how to start. There are so many thoughts and emotions running through my mind. So, I guess I'll just start writing and hope that at some point it will make sense.

This afternoon, after visiting my mom, I went to Wal Mart to pick up a few groceries. For about the past six months, I have been using the motorized carts to do my shopping. Last September, I was at my highest weight ever, weighing 437 pounds. I have become involved in a couple of programs to help me address this and become a healthier person. As of today, my weight is down to 383 pounds. I know that I still have a long way to go, but I'm working on it. Besides my weight, I have several other health problems that impact my mobility. As a result of a car accident back in 1997, I have a lot of metal in my right foot and since that injury, experience tremendous  pain in my foot and ankle with every single step I take. I also have severe osteoarthritis in my knees. There is no cartilage at all left in my left knee. Over the years, NSAID pain relievers and cortisone injections have helped with the knee pain, but they no longer provide even minimal relief. I am still too heavy for knee replacement surgery and at this time there aren't really any other options. Throw in a diminished lung capacity, due in large part to my asthma, and a heart arrhythmia, and well, it all makes things a bit harder for me to do many things I once took for granted.

It has taken some getting used to on my part to adjust to limitations in my mobility. There are simply some things that I am not able to do at this time, and shopping is one of them. I am often uncomfortable and self-conscious when I use the motorized carts. I see older adults pushing grocery carts through the store and find myself thinking that if they can do it, then I should be able to do it. I see other morbidly obese customers pushing carts and chastise myself for not "trying harder" and I hear that overly critical voice inside my head saying that I'm being too lazy. All of my difficulties are my own fault anyway, so I should just suck it up and push the damn cart! I start to imagine what others must be thinking of me when I scoot past them, which makes me forget why I am in the store in the first place. I practice my defense for every item in my cart because God forbid I have anything in it that I "shouldn't" have. And I pray that the unthinkable doesn't happen. I pray that the cart doesn't lose it's charge while I am still shopping, leaving me stranded.

Well, today, it happened. I was finished with my shopping and was heading to the checkout lane when the cart ran out of juice. There I was, stuck in the middle of the aisle, completely blocking the way of people coming from both directions. Shit. So, I flagged down a store employee and told him that the cart had died and asked if there was someone who could help me by bringing me another cart and get the one I was using out of the middle of the aisle so that the other shoppers could get through. The guy looked at me and said that he was stocking shelves and that it wasn't his job to do that. Um, okay. Then he turned around and walked away. So, still stuck, I flagged down a second employee who informed me that he was on his lunch break before I even got my plea for help out of my mouth. When I heard that, I apologized and asked if he could ask someone else to help me but he had already turned away from me and started to walk away. My old way of thinking immediately pounced on me and I felt guilty and ashamed. I found myself thinking that all of this was my fault. My fault for being too fat. My fault for playing the catcher's position in softball for years, which everyone knows is bad for your knees. My fault for having asthma. My fault for trying to do my grocery shopping in the middle of a Saturday afternoon, and worse yet, on a holiday weekend when the store was so busy. My fault for not more closely watching the battery charge on the cart. My fault for being an inconvenience.

Thankfully, another customer had been there and witnessed what had happened and heard what the two employees had said to me. She went looking for another employee to help me, and made it clear that I had been treated disrespectfully and promptly dismissed by the others. This worker went and brought another cart to me and helped me to transfer my groceries to the other cart. I sheepishly thanked him, still feeling like I needed to justify myself or explain why I was worthy of his time and assistance. I then proceeded to the checkout, paid for my groceries, and headed out to my car. And then I started to cry. I still couldn't shake the feeling that I had deserved to be treated that way. And then I was angry - not at the workers, but at MYSELF! How could I have let what was a ten minute long unpleasant experience totally wipe out all of the progress I've made over the past six months to take care of myself, physically, mentally, and spiritually?   I found myself wondering if I would ever learn to love myself enough to not feel like I owe the world an apology for living. After I got home and had an opportunity to collect myself, I called the store and asked to speak to a manager. She apologized and told me that she would address the issue. And here I am, eight hours later, still trying to figure out how I'm going to get my groceries from now on because the fear of that happening again seems insurmountable. I shouldn't have to feel that way. No one deserves to be brushed aside. I have to remember that how I was treated this afternoon is a reflection on two insensitive individuals and not on me. But, it still hurts.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

I'm Scared

I am scared. I am struggling. I am feeling defeated. This past weekend, I went to a convention in Fort Wayne but I never left my hotel room. When I arrived and went to register, I discovered that I couldn't walk the distance to the registration table. I was totally winded, huffing and puffing and struggling to catch my breath. My legs were throbbing. I couldn't do it. My friends went on ahead and registered for me but it was immediately clear that I would not be able to walk the distances needed to be able to attend the convention sessions. The convention center had wheelchairs, but they were regular width wheelchairs and at 426 pounds, that would not work for me. I became painfully aware of just how deconditioned I have become. It had never occurred to me that I would have difficulty attending the conference. I was so upset over this that I ended up making myself sick and so not only was I restricted to my hotel room, I was physically ill all weekend on top of that.

Needless to say, I had a lot of time to think and to feel over the past two days. I was embarrassed that I was so out of shape. I was ashamed of how I have become. I was saddened and lonely. I felt trapped in my body. I even thought about dying. At one point in my life, I swore that if I ever reached 400 pounds, I'd kill myself. Then I reached 400 pounds. Those thoughts came back to me this weekend. I found myself thinking about the quality of my life. Right now, I'd have to say that my quality of life is poor. I do have friends and family who love me dearly, and yet I feel so very alone. I don't want my life to continue on this way. And yet, I don't want to die. But I'm afraid that that is what is happening to me. I get out of breath putting on my shoes and socks. If I take a bag of trash to the dumpster, it feels like my heart is going to jump right out of my chest. Then I start to panic, which only makes matters worse. I really thought that I was going to collapse at the convention center this weekend trying to walk to the registration table. That was a frightening feeling. That is how I feel all of the time now. I can't do this any more.

I wish that I could say that this experience this past weekend has left me motivated to take action. I pray that it will, after my emotions settle down some. Right now, I am extremely sad. I feel like giving up. It is so hard for me to see the big picture of what my life would look like if I lost the weight. Even seeing small improvements is hard for me right now. I'm scared that I don't have it in me to do the work that it will take to get the weight off. I'm afraid of the physical pain and discomfort, the blood, sweat, and tears that are going to be an inevitable part of the journey. I'm choking back tears as I'm sitting here writing this because I feel so lost. I'm hurting so deeply inside. I'm not so sure that I know what to do at this point. This is not how my life is supposed to be.

I am utterly and totally defeated now. I guess that that means there is nowhere to go but up. I have scheduled appointments at the medically supervised weight loss clinic and also with a trainer at the gym to see about designing an exercise program that would help to get me moving. I'm not looking forward to either of those appointments at this moment. I am hoping that in the next couple of days I will find some strength and courage to proceed down this path to a healthier me. I know that it's going to be hard and I don't like that. But, it is what it is and I will prevail. Tonight, I'm going to curl up with my kitties and cry myself to sleep, knowing that tomorrow is a new day.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

To Be Or Not To Be...

As I'm sitting here, trying to get my mind to turn off so that I can fall asleep, I'm thinking about what kind of person that I want to be moving forward. I have decided that I want to be the person who takes charge of her health and well being, rather than the person who leaves things up to chance and makes poor decisions for herself. I'm so very tired of being dragged down by apathy and self-pity. Neither of those states feel comfortable to me anymore. I'm ready for some changes. I have already started implementing some new practices into my daily routine, including writing down what I am eating and drinking more water. I'm starting to exercise, even  though it is very difficult for me to do. I'm taking action on making myself a priority. I no longer want to be the fat girl sitting in the drive through parking lot stuffing French fries into her mouth and gulping down cokes. I don't want to spend all of my spare money on junk food and treats that I eat in seclusion and shame. It's time for me to be the person that God has meant for me to be.

I know that I can do this. I have lost weight before. I have taken care of myself  and felt good about it in the past. I want to be able to go to Alaska with my family next summer. So it's really not a question of whether or not I can do this, it's a question of whether or not I'm going to do this. I have to believe that God wants good for me and that He wants me to take care of myself so that I can be a blessing to others. I cannot do that if I'm just sitting around, stuffing my face full of donuts and crying. I'm lucky to have a strong support network available to me if I would just tap into that and allow others to love me. Its time tp move beyond my good intentions and put some work in on being the best me that I can be.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

At a Crossorads


It's been nearly a month since I've written anything. When I came back to this blog in April, I had wanted to commit to writing an entry a week but I haven't managed to stick to that. Maybe because I only thought that that was what I was going to do. I thought about the commitment, but had not fully, well, committed to it. Then I thought that it was too late now, because after all, I'd already missed several weeks in a row. And then it hit me. It's not too late to begin again.

I'm finding myself at a crossroad in my weight loss journey right now. I have recently gained some weight again and so I'm asking myself just how important am I? I mean, really? Am I important enough to do something about it or not? Do I care  enough about myself to want to make the changes necessary to live a healthier life? I thought that I was but I'm sure not acting like it. It's getting harder and harder to justify eating the Mary Lou donuts and Peanut Buster Parfaits. I don't get any enjoyment out of eating those things anymore but I feel compelled to eat them anyway. I have been using my addiction to food as an excuse to continue eating, rather than as a catalyst for change. I have been allowing myself to believe the myth that I don't know any better. But that is not the truth. I do know better, I just haven't been choosing better.

I am remembering the quote by Maya Angelou: "When you know better, you do better". I am particularly mindful of those last three words, "you do better". Its about taking action. I have to first make the commitment, but then move beyond that and act on it in order to be truly successful. Otherwise, nothing is going to change. I have the opportunity to go on an Alaskan cruise in June of 2018 with my whole family. At my current weight that would be extremely difficult to do. I don't want to miss out on a chance of a lifetime. That is just under a year away. I'm running out of time to "begin again" if I want to achieve my goal of being able to go on that cruise with my family.

So, what am I willing to do? Between now and next Saturday, I will write down what I am eating and share that with a friend who is willing to help to hold me accountable. I will drink 64 ounces of water every day. I will exercise 3 times. I am writing these three things down on a card that I will post in several places in my apartment to help remind me of my action plan for the week. When I do my next blog entry in a week, I will report on how I did with my goals. I am important. This is worth it. I can do it!

Monday, June 12, 2017

When Did This Become Okay?

When did this become okay? When did it become okay to not be able to put on my shoes and socks without straining and becoming short of breath? When did it become okay to not be able to shower in my own home because I cannot raise my legs high enough to step into the tub? When did it become okay to not be able to reach in the bathroom? How did I let things get to this point? I was suddenly struck by the realization that my normal is no longer "normal" this afternoon as I sat on the side of my bed, struggling to get up. I have to rock back and forth, big time, to build up enough momentum to hoist myself off of the mattress into a standing position, which usually takes me 4 or 5 tries now. Its not a pretty sight. I'm not a pretty sight. When did this become okay?

And as I sat there crying, I had to acknowledge that unless I do something about this, unless I take action, this isn't going to change. I presently do not like where I am. I do not like how I look. I do not like how my clothes fit. I do not like how I feel. I do not like that I am limited as to what I can do by the size of my body. So I have a choice to make. Accept that this is my lot in life or do something about it. I refuse to accept that the way I am living now is okay any longer! I want better for me. I have been reluctant to join a gym out of the fear of what others might think of me or how I look. I'm not going to let that stop me anymore. Today, I made a phone call and set up an appointment with a personal trainer to help establish an exercise program to get me started moving again. I know that this is going to be difficult, but I am up for the challenge. In the past, I always enjoyed working out. I have faith that I can get there again. Is it going to be difficult? Yes! Am I going to curse at the treadmill? YES! But I am going to do it anyway knowing that it is what is right for me.

I am also going to commit to drinking four bottles of water a day. My doctor has been pushing that one for several months now and I have continued to balk, giving in to the temptation to drink pop time and again, even though it does not quench my thirst. I'm not going to wait until I figure out why I keep sabotaging myself first, before adopting healthy habits. Otherwise, I'll never start taking care of myself. I have time to work on that in therapy while I am working on becoming healthier physically. I really have no more excuses to keep putting off what I know I need to do. I'm ready to work on getting back to "normal".

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Today, I am Sad

Today, I am sad. I'm not so sure why, but I am. I have been sitting here in front of the computer for over an hour trying to figure out what to write this week and nothing has really come to me besides this overwhelming feeling of sadness. As I sit here at my desk looking out the window, I have a view of the pond with the fountain, some nice big trees and lots of green grass. The sky is that perfect shade of light blue, with white fluffy clouds floating in the air. It is in the mid 70s today, and is quite nice now that the rain has moved on.

I met up with a friend Friday afternoon and we talked a little about finding some way that I could make a beginning at being more active. She wanted to "do the math" and figure out how many steps a day I'm getting in so that I can set a goal to strive for. I hem-hawed around that one, embarrassed to acknowledge how few steps a day I really get in. She offered to be a walking buddy sometime and as I sat there listening to her say those words, all I could think about was how I used to power walk four miles a day after work and now I can hardly walk 100 feet, and I felt crushed beneath my weight.  Again. This morning I went to church with my parents. I was out of breath. Not just a little out of breath, but huffing and puffing out of breath by the time I went up my six stairs and walked  down the sidewalk to get into the car. I try not to make it so obvious that I'm winded by trying to breathe deeply, in through my nose and out through my mouth, but there is no quiet way to "suck air".

I wish that I could be out there, enjoying the fresh air, walking through the grass with my dad's dog Max, watching the geese at the pond. I feel as though my world is closing in on me with each passing day. My life is quickly passing me by. I feel trapped inside my body, limited by what I can no longer do. I wonder how I must look to others, even though I "shouldn't" and I want nothing more than to be able to shrink down in size or fall through a crack in the Earth.  I'm becoming more and more socially isolated because I now have to consider whether or not restaurants and theaters and coffee shops will have chairs that I can sit in. And if I fit, will it hold me? Picnic season is upon us and lawn chairs are not designed to hold someone who weighs 408 pounds.  I can't even sit on the porch swing at my mom's house right now.

I know that I have people out there rooting for me and supporting me. But right now, that doesn't change the fact that I feel so helpless and alone. I think that it is important for me to acknowledge my sadness and to allow myself to feel it, rather than trying to push it away or minimize it. I am hurting, and that is okay. I am now acutely more aware of all of the things that I took for granted when I was smaller (like fitting in a chair or putting on my shoes) and it stings and I'm going to have to work through that. I just wish that hurting wasn't part of the path on my journey towards healing.