Break Through!!!

Yay me!  Woohoo!  I’m happy.  Can you tell I’m happy?  I’m happy.  To some this may be eye-roll worthy, but to me it’s huge.  I’m a little perplexed, but I’ll take it. After three flirtations with breaking the downward 230 lbs barrier, I finally did it this morning.

Honesty Check:  Yesterday I had a couple small cheats.  I wasn’t expecting much.  Maybe even a slight weight gain from the day before.  But yesterday wasn’t a throw-away day, either.  I ate decently, probably what I might after the program is over, and I did some medium-level exercise last night, so I’m sure that helped.  I had been down to 230.6 three times, then would gravitate back up a bit.  This last time, yesterday, I was back up to 232.4, and I expected a slight gain, and was not looking forward to stepping on the scale.  I was kind of discouraged and dreading it, actually.  Weighed myself this morning and… 228.6!!!

A loss of 3.8 lbs.  I weighed myself six times to make sure it was right, I wasn’t expecting it.

Now I know they don’t recommend you weigh yourself every day.  It’s discouraging they say when you rise a little.  The human body does funny and illogical and inconsistent things with weight.  I have found in the last couple months that you don’t see the true effects of a bad-eating day until two days later, not necessarily the next day, and if you get yourself right again you won’t see the positive until two days later, as well.  But I started weighing daily at the direction of my cardiologist regarding sodium monitoring and it works for me.

I also know that 3.8 lbs in a single day is a lot, maybe an aberration, and my body may “correct” itself and give me 2 lbs back tomorrow, but for now I’ll take it!  I broke through the barrier.

A Command Decision has been made!

Think waaaaaaay back to two days ago.  When I listed the things that contribute to my stress in relation to eating.  Some were bigger than others, but they’re all there.  Well, I took a step today to reduce some of my stress.  I dropped my Calculus class.

It’s an expensive decision, but it’s the biggest thing that I can control right now, and it was causing a lot of stress by itself.  Once I made the decision, I felt relieved.  Kind of 😐 at the money down the drain, but relieved nonetheless.

So let’s move forward with a significantly less-cluttered mind.  I’m keeping the other class, computer coding, but the calculus will have to wait.  I’ll reassess later.  In the mean time… 🙂

Kind of interesting how this blog has meandered and evolved from one place to another.  I still consider weight loss and everything associated with the original heart health theme.

Stress Eating

Do you believe “stress eating” is a thing?  You know, where people basically overeat to cope with stress.  It’s actually quite common.  I know people who would scoff at this notion, claim the people are just weak and/or making excuses, blah blah blah.  I am not one of those people.  I have always believed it was legit, I just didn’t think I suffered from it.  I eat excessively out of boredom and simply liking good food.  I think good food is one of the pleasures of life, so I indulge.

I have other ways of dealing with stress.  I sleep.  It’s easy. If I’m feeling stressed, or down, or whatever, I go take a nap, sometimes a long nap.  I can even stay in bed trying to go back to sleep for hours after I wake up.  Sleeping is my escape, literally.

And sleep works well when I’m at home, but I’m not always at home.  What do I do when I’m at work or just out and about?  Well, now that I’m thinking about it more closely in my weight loss program, and with current life events, I think maybe I do stress eat, albeit only as “Plan B” when there is no bed or bedroom to escape to.

I generally loathe airing my issues to others,  but I feel like I have to here so it makes sense to anyone reading.  In no particular order, I have going on right now…

  • My mother’s health issues.  She fell and broke her hip a little over a month ago, and was admitted to hospice care just yesterday.  She’s 83 and very frail and, well, very ‘close’, if you know what I mean.
  • School.  I’m still going back to school.  Two classes this semester, computer coding and calculus.  And calculus is kicking my rear end… again.
  • Work.  Work isn’t going badly, not at all, it’s just busy.  I have two projects coming to an end and I have 2 or 3 lined up right after that, maybe overlapping.  As I always say, “Beats looking for work.”
  • Toastmasters.  I have sporadic duties to keep up with for the District (State of Iowa, basically).  This is actually the least of my current obligations, but it’s still one of them.
  • Routine mundane day-to-day life.  Tasks around the house, keeping up with daily life chores, trying to fit in some relaxation and fun, too.

Yeah, that’s it.  And as I’m thinking about this more and more, and comparing my binge/cheat eating with my weight loss program… because now it’s more pronounced than normal and easier to compare and measure… I’m starting to see a pattern.  I do indeed stress eat, though as ‘Plan B’, as mentioned before.

Virtually all of my stress eating since I started the program has centered around ‘events’ involving my mother.  I think that’s affecting me more and deeper than I was aware.  The others are somewhat normal for me, this adding a whole new amount of stuff is pushing my stress over the edge.  In short, overall I’m feeling very overwhelmed, with a new super-emotional aspect to make it all the more interesting.

I’m still at the plateau, though tomorrow’s weigh in will be interesting, and I’m roughly maintaining, so that’s good.  I’m not gaining everything back.  This is when I’m supposed to be introducing fruits and vegetables back into my diet, but I might go another week with the more bare bones plan to regain some of my momentum.

The Plateau

Still struggling, though not as bad or as much as I was for awhile.  Which is frustrating because I seem to have reached “The Plateau”, that point where you’ve lost the ‘easy’ weight and now have to actually work at it.  <full body shudder>

I think I mentioned before that I normally hovered in the 242-ish range.  I got down to just over 230… on the edge of the 220s cliff that I wanted to hit for the first time in almost two decades… and I regressed.  Shot back up into the upper 230s, then worked my way back down to the low 230s, only to shoot back up to the upper 230s again, which is where I’m at right now.

In the interest of full honesty, I think this last jump is not so much from bad meals (though there were a couple), but rather from stopping watching my sodium and missing a few days of my water pills.  Apparently even with losing weight I still need to watch my sodium intake and take my pills and squeeze as much water out as I can.

There’s also been some family heath issues that have been weighing heavily, no pun intended.  I am not a stress eater, per se, but there were times where I’ve figuratively thrown up my hands and thought, “Screw it.  I’m eating.”

On the positive side, in the work category, I’ve started exercising again.  The treadmill a couple times in the last week, for about 40 minutes at a time.  Put on a good Alice Cooper concert DVD and off I go!

Another positive aspect is that, today whenever I looked in the mirror, I swear I looked visibly thinner than I have in years.  I got kinda giddy every time I saw myself.  This matches what a friend told me several days ago, she told me it was visible in my face, my face was thinner.  The numbers notwithstanding, I can feel it, I feel good.

An Anniversary and an Update

The Anniversary

Today is the one year anniversary of my heart surgery, and I have to say that things are going generally well.  Not without some speed bumps, of course, but overall I feel better.  As I mentioned in a previous post it’s hard to imagine that something so… big… could end up being such a positive.  And for all that I really am thankful.

The scars are fading.  I have regained most of the feeling in my left wrist… wasn’t expecting that, but it’s a good thing, right?  Stamina hasn’t fully returned, but to be fair I have not been exercising like I should.  All in all, I’d say an A-.

The Update

Ah, the weight loss program.  More speed bumps, but not without solid progress.  My issues with the food consistency is increasing.  My palatable options are becoming more limited.  Anything with a bread-like consistency is still off-putting to me.

I have been branching out and trying more dessert-like options, and some are very good.  There’s a recipe for lemon bars that is absolutely awesome.  I’m still making shakes.  There’s a handful of other recipes that are good.

I have also been cheating more often.  Not every day, but more often than I should.  The positive side is that I have been making better choices than when I started cheating.  Instead of a Wendy’s Baconator or some Arby’s half-pound beefy-cheesy thing or a Popeye’s 4 pc meal, all of which weigh in at 900 to 1700 calories, I’ve discovered Jimmy John’s Turkey “Unwich” (no bread, wrapped in lettuce).  I add cucumbers, onion, peppers, and pickles, and it’s a whopping 260 calories!  Nice, and surprisingly tasty.  Add a 20 calorie pickle and we’ve got a satisfying meal for under 300.  I could see myself doing this more often even after the program is over… which is kind of the point.

With all that I have, so far and as of this morning, lost 33 lbs.  I’m on the edge of slipping into the 220s, a place I haven’t been in near 17 years.  So, even with the frustration, I am able to adjust and still make it work in my favor.

…the world hasn’t ended… yet, anyway

It just occurred to me that I haven’t given a update.  We need to fix that, so here we go.

Overall the weight loss is going well.  It’s not a liquid diet.  There are shakes involved, sure, but not exclusively.  You don’t even have to do shakes if you don’t want to, but I find them convenient, and since I’m not really a breakfast person I find drinking a meal more palatable than eating a meal.  So, no, there’s real food involved.

Now, let’s not front, the food is not gourmet.  I’ve been able to make some pretty decent things, like an enchilada bake that is surprisingly good, and some banana walnut muffins that were awesome, and there have been a couple things that were absolutely horrible, but overall the food is… meh.  Let’s be real, even a ‘foodie’ like myself can sacrifice a few months of culinary enjoyment for my end goal of being a slimmer trimmer Ken.  We’re on track.

We are on approximately Day 21, and so far I have lost 16-ish lbs.  Was 19 lbs, but there’s been a couple ‘cheat days’ (including yesterday where I gained 3 lbs back in one day, that’ll teach me!), but overall I’ve been trending steadily down, and it feels good.  I’m finding (‘that’ deleted for Michele) I have more endurance and stamina for routine daily activity like climbing stairs and just doing simple chores.

Missy has lost just over 12 lbs as of the last weigh in.  We’re not supposed to weigh ourselves every day, but I have been.  I’ve gotten used to doing it since I was monitoring my sodium.

While encouraging so far, what is frustrating to me is that I am now down to what I weighed before my weight starting jumping up back in February.  I feel like I haven’t actually gained anything (pun semi-intended), but have merely got back to my ‘base’ weight, so now I am actually starting.  I know that’s probably not the right attitude to have, but that’s how I feel.

At least I can fit into my work clothes again and don’t have to wear my ‘fat jeans’.  🙂

It’s the end of the world as I know it… and I feel fine.

Ok, maybe not the actual end of the world, but these song lyrics make it sound a little more dramatic, a little more interesting, so we’ll run with that.  Life has taken a drastic change of course, however, and we’ll get to that later.  First, a sodium update.

I have successfully stymied my cardiologist.  My weight basically has not budged.  Even, as he put it, we have squeezed all the water out of me there is to squeeze.  Every time he checks I’m not bloating, so that’s good.  End result, he’s perplexed.  There is no higher dosage or stronger medication, so we’ve decided to maintain for the foreseeable future.  Which brings us to…

THE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!  TA DA!!!

Missy and I both have embarked on a medically-supervised weight loss program.  We had our first meeting this past Thursday and started the actual plan today.  We’re doing the Health One (HNT) Meal Replacement Plan.  It’s medically-supervised (I already said that).  You’re held accountable.  You have accountability with both a coach and peers in weekly meetings.  There is no surgery.  (I have been told it’s based on a Mediterranean diet, but I cannot find anything to back that up.)  So… we’re taking the big leap.

Missy’s and my motivations are very similar.  It’s not just losing weight and being healthy, though there is that, too.  But there’s more to it.  Ever since I was about 7 yrs old I’ve wanted to go skydiving.  I even had Missy and Matt convinced to treat me for my birthday the last two years with a skydiving trip.  It never happened because I weigh too much (for tandem skydiving).  I want to be able to go to a concert or a ball game and fit in the damn seats, reasonably.  From what I see even skinny ‘normal’ people have trouble fitting in them, they make them so narrow now trying to shoehorn everyone in to maximize profit.  We’d like to lose our CPAP machines.  I’d like to get back into routine walking and hiking like I used to.  Basically daily life things that make life a quality life.

Oh, and I’d like to stop taking these industrial strength water pills, too.  I’m sick of running to the loo every 30 minutes.  One day I went 18 times between 7am and noon.  I am not kidding.

Anyway, about 25+ years ago I started Weight Watchers .  I did very well, lost 11 lbs the first week, and that was with eating an entire medium pizza by myself the last day of the week.  But after a few weeks I slowly fell off the boat, and never did another weight loss program… other than occasional instances of just trying to choose healthier options in general… until now.

So what’s kept me from doing anything about my weight all these years.  Well, I’ll tell ya…

First, most ‘diets’ I do not find credible.  Most people gain the weight back afterward, and I don’t want to hear that even if I know it’s true.  And I know that people will either tell me that to my face or say it to others behind my back.  But if you think about it, if you go back to bacon cheeseburgers every other day afterward, of course you’re going to gain it back, even with this program.  Duh!  Granted seaweed and garlic smoothies are not sustainable long-term, but the idea is to change your eating habits.  There’s no getting around that.

Second, and I won’t front, fear of failure.  I like to eat.  I like to eat good food… a lot!  I never had the confidence that I could succeed.  And to be honest, I still have concerns.  But with recent events and other concerns, and the fact that I believe I have more self-discipline at this stage of my life, something inside me is telling me I can do it.  The program is 24 weeks, almost six months.  This will take us through both Missy’s and my birthdays, Thanksgiving, and right up to somewhere around Christmas.  Oh, and we will have to forego our weekly Thursday routine of eating out with friends after Toastmasters while the program is going along.  Holiday eating will be in moderation this year.

The first 10 weeks is relatively draconian.  The next 8 weeks we add in more fruits and vegetables.  The final 6 weeks we add in more meats and everything else that resembles a more practical diet.

Having expressed those two concerns, I believe that this program is different.  It’s not a guarantee.  It’s not a panacea.  But it’s reasonable and safe, and worth a shot.

I will make one promise.  I won’t run to Facebook and regale you all with how tasty and wonderful the recipes are.  (I wrote about people who do that in my other blog.)  I will, however, give random updates from time to time.

So that’s it.  That’s our big announcement.  Interesting where life leads you.

My View on Ken’s Sodium Struggle

It has been hard to watch Ken with this latest frustration. He is the heaviest he has ever been and it is water. He knows this, but it doesn’t make it feel any better when you don’t fit in your clothes. He cuts out a lot of sodium foods. Still nothing budges. I see how frustrated he is and can do nothing but encourage and pray.

This is something I have not had too much experience with. I have high blood pressure so I don’t add salt myself. I just have never had the water weight like this. I continue to support and do my best. I just know we will get past it. One more trial that we will win!

Quickie update

As I have said before, the farther I go out the less I’ll post, and there’s been nothing earth shattering to report, I feel like giving a quickie update, so here goes…

Sodium and Weight

The last week of May my Cardiologist put me on a much more serious dose of a new water pill, Torsemide, and off I went.  I was supposed to check in a few weeks later, but haven’t yet.  I will do so early this next week.

I still have the extra weight.  In fact, other than a couple short forays up to 268, I basically haven’t budged.  What HAS changed, and not for the better, is that now I am more achy, I am getting winded and getting tired easier.  Those aren’t good things.  Those are effects of the extra water weight.

We will get this worked out.

Scars & Body Image

A strange topic, but one that most people don’t talk about, so here I am.

My chest is looking very good, almost natural skin color.  You can still notice it if it peeks above my shirt collar, but it’s not bad.  There is no pain to this or any of the scars, which is good.  My arm scar is still not progressing as fast as the chest scar, but is itself moving along nicely and I have no issues with it.

Part of my left wrist is still constantly numb, and always will be.  Expected, warned, but just sayin’.  I hardly even notice, anymore, and I’ve always retained full functionality.

The only new development that I do not like is that I now have the beginnings of varicose veins.  On my inner left knee, next to where an incision was made to remove a vein for the surgery.  They’re small, but they’re still there.  I am NOT happy about this.  I have never had a varicose vein, until now.

Upcoming

I will have a major announcement in about three weeks, but don’t want to say anything just yet.  Not even hints.

It’s been awhile…

…yes, indeed, it has.  You’ve heard the old cliches… life gets busy, you feel better and start forgetting, yada yada yada.  And all that’s true.  I have been feeling better.  Life has been busy.  You forget things as mundane as keeping up a blog.  All that stuff.  And while things have been going in a generally positive direction, for which I am deeply grateful, all has not been perfect.

Back on December 18th I talked about water weight, sodium, and weight in general.  My cardiologist and I got things worked out pretty quickly and things were going along well… until mid February of this year.  Nothing had really changed, and I started gaining weight in leaps and bounds.  Long story short I gained about 22 lbs in just over two months.  I usually hover around 242-ish, give or take a pound, or two, on any given day.  Now I’m hovering in the 260 to 265 lb range, the highest I have ever been.  At least I seem to have plateaued, but it still feels defeating.

For about two months I didn’t think it was water weight, so I didn’t contact my cardiologist, which was a mistake.  I wasn’t showing any of the other symptoms.  I wasn’t bloated (heavy, uncomfortable, but not bloated), I wasn’t achy, I wasn’t short of breath, or any of that other stuff, just gaining weight rapidly.

Once I woke up and realized what was going on, to the doctor I went.  We decided to change one of my medications, the ‘water pill’, and increase it and my potassium to twice a day, lower my sodium intake as much as possible, and go from there.  I’m still hovering, which is kind of disappointing.  I owe him a new blood test next week, and we will reassess then and move forward.

The moral of the story:  Don’t be proud.  Don’t be stubborn.  Stubborn is dumb!  Stubborn is dangerous.  Stubborn could lead to congestive heart failure.  That’s not a real fine option.  Don’t be stubborn!

Upcoming:  Rehab & glucose monitoring.  (For my own reminders, more than anything.)