Thursday, September 6, 2018

Trials and Errors

My summer up through the first part of July was busy. To be honest, I've just enjoyed having quiet time to myself the last month and a half.

As an update from my last entry, I'm feeling a lot better mentally. I still have moments of doubt and all, but it feels like "normal" doubt. Not the depression monster in my head. I've gotten back into a groove with my working out, but eating has been a real struggle. I saw my pulmonologist and we've gotten the pressures figured out. He had to lower them a bit for me. Part of my struggle now is sinus issues due to allergies and the smoke from wildfires. I feel like I am permanently congested and sneezing.

The last 4-6 weeks have been a challenge. I emailed Dr. Hendrick to ask about the other weight loss meds he was thinking of having me try. At our last appointment, we started talking more about it again. He wanted to kick start my weight loss again. I was wanting information from him to do some more research. He was honest with me and let me know which ones he was thinking of, but that the good information is hard to find. There's a lot of less than reputable sites that give half the facts. He said he would give me all the information I could need at our next appointment in mid-September. 

I felt like I just wasn't making progress. I have been lifting back at full weights and upping my weights week to week. It even got to the point that I was looking at weight loss surgery again. Even going so far as to see which of the three different types of procedures I thought would work best. It made me sad to think I needed to do that, even if the surgery is just another tool for me to use. It is not the easy way out.

I don't really remember how it came about, but I started doing more research on intermittent fasting. I don't know if it was a news article, something I saw on Facebook, or what. It is something Dr. Hendrick has been wanting me to try for a while. I was reading up on the science and theory behind it for fat loss. I decided what the heck. At the time I started it, I had a month before my next appointment. I might as well treat myself as a science experiment and see if it works. On a random Tuesday morning, I decided to try it. It has been two weeks, and so far, so good. There are several different ways to do intermittent fasting, but I have been fasting for 16 hours and have an 8-hour window to eat.

The theory is that after you finish eating for the night, your body is in a digestion phase anywhere from 8-12 hours. Anything after the 12-hour mark your body is fasting and will start using fat as fuel. Eating more lean protein does help the body using fat instead of muscle as fuel. 

Overall it hasn't been too bad. It's been great having one less meal to plan, and I don't feel as rushed in the mornings. I do still get coffee in the morning, I just have to limit the flavored creamer so the fast doesn't get broken early. Aside from a few days where I felt very run down and had a headache I have felt great and have had more energy. On the days I have felt like crap, I have broken my fast early and eaten a protein bar or a piece of fruit. I felt better shortly afterward. As always, listening to my body is key.

As for breaking my fast, I break it around lunchtime after I have my workout. I have a little bit more than I normally would at lunch and dinner, but not by that much. When all is said and done I've been averaging around 1800 calories per day with a range of 1500-2100 calories. It depends on how hard I worked out and how hungry I feel. It has also helped me face my fear of hunger and get over it. Well, for the most part. Having a growling stomach in meetings is not the best thing!

Other things from the last couple of weeks:

  • I've dropped between 4-5 pounds. It depends on the day you look at my scale
  • Huge difference in how my clothes fit. I have 2 pairs of pants that I dare not wear outside the house
  • Pair of leggings purchased a year ago now fit. At the time I bought them they wouldn't go past mid-thigh
  • Better attitude
  • More focused at work
  • I'm eating less at meals and feeling satiated sooner
So right now I'm feeling hopeful and finding some success. Right now I just want to get back under 300 pounds, and I am so freaking close. This week or next and I should be there. 

I have also found that I do best when weighing myself every day or every other day. I need the data points to keep me accountable. By keeping my food logs I can go back and see what caused a spike in my weight. Anything from eating, to that time of the month, to too many carbs can cause my weight to spike as much as 4 to 5 pounds in a single day. It helps to see the trend of it going down though and knowing that the weight will come back down. I've been using an app called Libra to help me with this. They have trending weight, average loss, and projected weight loss. It's handy and I like it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Depression Monster

I've been quiet for because I've been struggling, but not sure how to vocalize it. Some days are better than others. I've been really resentful of the process. Exercising, eating, my schedule, all of it. This weekend was especially awful.

I've dealt with depression for years, but I have never been officially diagnosed. All weekend I was feeling kind of down, and by Sunday night I was retreating from the world and hiding. I sat and wrote in my journal for a good while and my husband kept coming to check on me. He knew some of what i had been dealing with and thinking, but not the extent of it.

I have been super frustrated with my weight loss or lack there of. I've been maintaining in the same 5 pound range since November. In the last 2 weeks I've crept back over 300 pounds a couple of days. There's been a lot of reasons for all of this, that logically I know. But there comes a point when logic doesn't matter. Here's what's been going on the last couple months:
  • Finishing up physical therapy for my knee. I had pulled back from weight lifting so I didn't hurt myself more. I love weight lifting and can't stand cardio. Where I could only really do cardio, I didn't want to go to the gym.
  • I haven't been sleeping well. Even with my CPAP I've been restless at night. I finally figured out the pressures were too high and needed to call my pulmonologist.
  • My self worth was in the septic tank. I had a record going over and over in my head that I was worthless. There's no point in keeping trying as I have failed before and I was stupid to think that I could do it this time. And on and on and on. 
  • Continuing on from 3, flashbacks of being bullied and the horrible things I was called as a pre-teen and teen.

I had Marshall read my journal entry. All he did when he finished reading it was hug me tight and said he was never letting me go. No matter how much I wanted to pull away. Then we sat and talked.

He brought up a good point and that was my depression symptoms have gotten worse since I've gone off of the Contrave pill I was using. My obesity doctor and I decided I should go off it because it didn't seem to be helping much. I wasn't struggling with cravings or the like so I went off of it. Well, one of the reasons my doc chose that med is that one of the active ingredients is also a mild antidepressant. We had talked a bit about my personal history and he thought it would be good for me to be on one. Nothing major. Marshall pointed out other times this has happened, including times family members do it. So there's every chance this is a bit genetic as well. I felt so much better after talking with Marshall about it all. I had an appointment with Dr. Hendrick on Tuesday. I was originally going to reschedule it. I've finally been getting back to the gym and strength training again. I wanted to even have a week to say "This is where I'm at!" But in the discussion about depression I decided I needed to keep the appointment. If I'm starting to struggle this badly with depressive symptoms I need help. I can't put it off. So I went.

Dr. Hendrick was very supportive and helpful as usual. He wouldn't prescribe an anti-depressant for me. He wants me to work with my primary care physician on that. The ultimate goal is for me to get the weight off, be good at maintenance, and not see him anymore. So there's that. So here's the run down of my meeting with him.
  • I've been doing great at maintaining. He thinks that when i get down to a good weight my body is happy at, I should be able to maintain it with minimal struggles. With a caveat of what I already know. Maintaining is harder than losing in some respects. But he said I'm already showing skills to do well at maintaining my weight in stressful situations, so there is that. 
  • My eating habits are doing really well. He's really happy with the progress I've made on that front. With what I'm eating and when. What I do when confronted with unhealthy food situations. My job is a landmine of cookies, brownies, and sweets. It's awful. As he put it, it's borderline abuse. 
  • He wanted me to follow up with my primary doc about getting on a med and talk about other treatment options. He warned me to be careful of talk therapy. It means digging up messy emotions that could trigger emotional binge eating, which we don't need. 
  • I also needed to get my cpap pressures changed so I can get good sleep at night. 
  • He's very hopeful for me and was very happy I came in and asked for help. He also said I'm really fragile right now. 

So I saw my primary doc today and we had a good chat. She put me on the same med as in contrave, but at a lower dose to get started. Luckily the med I'm on is one of the few that doesn't usually cause weight gain. I go back in 3 weeks for a follow-up and see if I need to see a counselor. She was very empathetic and understanding. She also agreed with Dr. Hendrick about going into counseling with caution.

I also called my pulmonologist. I will say my CPAP is awesome. He was able to remotely adjust the settings so I didn't need to go in and see him. He did have his nurse ask me if I had lost more weight since I was in for my 6 month visit in October. I'm down maybe another 5-10 pounds. Turns out he has the pressures set pretty much as low as they can go. I have a follow up in 3 weeks to see him too. I'm hoping that this is good news and I may be getting off my cpap. We'll see though!

I don't have an official diagnosis of depression, but I'm on a low-dose antidepressant. I hope this helps. I have felt so crappy and apathetic the last few weeks and I'm over it. The last few days have been better. Not perfect, but better. It helps I've been able to get back into strength training. I've been taking it really easy so I don't overdo it and hurt myself again. So I started back at squatting 65 pounds last week and I'm already up to 85 pounds this week. I'm hoping by the end of the month to be close to where I was. 150-ish pound squats, 65 pound bench press. Those are the two I remember for certain.

I will say this though. If you are having frequent bouts of self-doubt, lethargy, apathy or other depressive symptoms. See your doctor. It doesn't matter if it's weight related or not. They can help. Your mental health and well being is far too important to ignore.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Back on track and feeling hopeful

I haven't posted in a long long time it feels like. The holidays got in the way initially, then I felt like I didn't really have anything to say, and then I didn't know how to articulate what I wanted to say. I know I needed help, but I didn't know what I needed help with or how to ask for it. Silly I know. The last 4 months or so I have been maintaining my weight. I have yet to figure out if I took a true maintenance break or if it was a plateau. At least I wasn't regaining weight.

I have slacked off on my workouts lately too. I've been battling a head cold and sinus infection the last couple weeks. Part of it is dealing with a knee injury. The irony is the non-runner has runner's knee. I've only had two PT appointments though and my knee is almost completely better! The other part of it was February and March blahs brought on by just getting tired of winter and deep in hibernation mode. All that means is I was feeling exceptionally anti-social due to seasonal depression. I'm not one to be out in the sun a lot, but damn I miss it when it disappears for a few days. On the upside I have been trying to go swimming a couple days a week with a friend, so that's been a lot of fun. It's been great girl time.

This last week I finally feel like I've gotten back on track with my eating. I bought a lot of easy foods for healthy and fast meals last week. Breakfast has been eggs, toast, and coffee. Lunch was low-carb wraps, with a variety of fresh veggies, fruit, and some cheese. Dinner has been a variety of things. I immediately started feeling good again and having more energy.  I also noticed that my craving for sweets diminished quite a bit too. I ended up having a great loss at TOPS this week as well. It was 2.25 pound if I remember right.

Friday I had a follow up with Dr. H. I am down 3 pounds from the last visit. Again we had a great discussion. He was concerned because it looked like my weight loss had slowed down quite a bit. So he brought up if I thought the Contrave was still working, and maybe changing it out with a different one. He was also concerned about costs for me, which I appreciate. In the discussion about other possible meds to try we went on to discussing changing up my eating habits. We talked about three different options.

1) Go down to two meals per day. I wouldn't be cutting out any calories, just the number of meals. I'm not sure how feasible this is during the work week for me, but on the weekends this usually ends up being the case anyways.

2) Change up my calorie distribution - make breakfast my biggest meal of the day, and dinner the smallest. Easy enough change to make.

3) Intermittent fasting - Going 24 hours without eating. He would like me try it one day a week and see how it goes. If I'm feeling up to trying a science experiment. Damn him speaking my language! haha

All 3 options have had a variety of studies done and have been shown to promote weight loss. Those who participate in intermittent fasting usually do it 3 days week (every other day) but it has been shown to be helpful with even one day a week.

The biggest part of our discussion surrounded option 2. There was a study published this last week that had very positive and amazing results. It was looking at type 2 diabetics and what happened if they had 6 small even sized meals versus 3 meals with breakfast being the largest and dinner the smallest. Both groups at the same amount of calories. The group that ate the 6 small meals ended up gaining 2kg over the 3 month study and using 2 units of insulin more per day. The group that ate the small dinner ended up LOSING 5kg and using 20 units LESS of insulin per day. That's a huge difference! Dr. H said they weren't sure if it's the large breakfast, the small dinner, or a combo of the two that helps with weight loss. While I don't have to worry about insulin use, I will definitely be giving this a try.

Towards the end of our meeting I went back to the earlier discussion about changing up the med. He said he wasn't going to for two reasons. The first is I didn't seem particularly excited about it. The second is that given some comments I made about eating mindfully and the like, the contrave is working. He said he thinks he was just making a mountain out of a mole-hill. The slight gain I had was over the holidays. We'll see how things go this next month and go from there.

I'm so happy I started seeing him. He seems to know exactly what I need to feel like I'm getting back on track and get me moving in the right direction again.

In other news I was a division winner in my TOPS chapter this last year. Each division is broken up by how much you weigh at the start of the year. I lost 26 pounds last year.

 So far things are looking up. I really want to try and do more blogging this year. I enjoy the writing as an outlet. Hopefully I can keep this going.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Best Christmas Gift

I have given myself the best Christmas gift imaginable this year.

In April when I started with Dr. Hendrick he ran all of my blood work. There were some not so good numbers in there, but the one that concerned me the most was my A1C. It came back at 5.7%, which is pre-diabetic. Just barely, but it was official. I was disappointed, frustrated, and not surprised.

Other issues were
  • borderline high blood pressure
  • fasting blood sugar at 99
  • my vitamin D was incredibly low.
I had my annual physical this week. The nurse practitioner was really happy with the progress I have made and told me to keep doing what I was doing. Yesterday I had my blood work done. By early afternoon all of my results were available through the online portal. Except my A1C. The doctor's office said it would be today or Friday. This has driven me nuts all damn day.

About 15 minutes ago I got an email saying the online portal had been updated with new test results.

My A1C results were in.

I took a deep breath and logged in. It was the moment of truth.

Have the last 8 months of hard work paid off? Truly paid off? This is the valuable stuff. Not the scale, not the clothes, but my health.

Here's the rundown.

Blood Pressure

April: 150/96
December: 112/70

Fasting Blood Sugar

April: 99
December: 87

Vitamin D

April: 13.7
December: 44


April: 5.7%

*drum roll*

December: 5.2%!!!!!!

I dropped my A1C 0.5% in 8 months!

I have no idea how this stacks up with others and what is normally expected, but I am ecstatic. The diagnosis isn't official yet, but I am no longer in the pre-diabetic range.

I cheered. I bawled. My husband hugged me tight.

More than anything it has made all of the struggles and the moments of "I don't wanna" worth it. It's also making me more determined to get back on track as soon as possible. I'm even rearranging some of what I was going to make for Christmas dinner to make a small start.

There's times I have trouble seeing my progress, and other times it is so clear. One of those times is from my Christmas last year vs. this year. These are photo booth pics and aren't the best. You can see it easier in other pictures, but I'll upload those some other time.

With that, I'm going to go relax and read. If I don't post before, may your holidays be blessed with love, laughter, and joy.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Progress Beyond the Scale & Medical Updates

After I got back from Ireland I had a very small gain that was around 3 pounds. Not bad all in all. I think most of it was water retention from the long plane ride home. I did a lot of walking on my trip. My "low" day for steps according to my fitbit was around 10,000 steps. I was also able to control what I ate and when. Yes, I indulged a fair amount. Rich food, decadent desserts, and lots of Guinness. I drank more in that 10 days than I have in probably the last 6 months. At least. Aside from the indulgences, I had the weight off within a couple days.

The week after I got home I went to DC for a work conference. That trip was harder. Most of the meals were catered or were networking functions at a restaurant others chose. It left me having to make the best choice out of a lot of bad ones. I came home with about a 7 pound gain! I was only gone 3 days! Luckily I had most of it off by the time I had my Thursday weigh in for TOPS and turtled (turtle = stayed the same).

The Monday after I returned from DC I had a follow-up with Dr. Hendrick. I was dreading going in because I had a gain. I didn't know what he'd say and I thought for certain I was in for a lecture. It turns out my gain wasn't as bad as I thought, about 0.5 pounds. He only mentioned it briefly during the appointment though.

We had a fantastic discussion! Successes I had on my trips and struggles. We went over strategies for getting back on track. He talked about the gains I had on my trips, but told me to look at the broader picture. It had been 6 weeks since I had seen him. I had a total of a half pound gain. He said when I'm at home and doing things right, I'm losing. The trips were just trips. I have ideas on how to handle business trips in the future. And I was within my rights to enjoy Ireland to the fullest. He told me I am on track and doing really well and to be proud.

The last thing we talked about was tracking my food. The way he put it blew my mind. I have my reasons why I eat the foods I eat. It  could be a meal that fuels my weight loss or it could be a comfort meal, but I need to track it. Why? Because I need the data. All MyFitnessPal, or any food journal does, is measure the nutrition value of a meal. Yes there are multiple meals a day, but it measures that one meal to the standards and needs I have. If a  meal is "off" I can look at the data and see where I can improve. It's a tool to measure my fuel intake. Nothing more or less. It isn't judging me or my behaviors, just the content of my food.

When I said I had never looked at it that way and to just treat it as data he grinned and then got the scientist in me going. He told me to treat each meal as an experiment. My hypothesis is to see if the meal I built fuels my weight loss or not. The data will tell me and tell me where I can tweak. Silly doctors and knowing their patients! Looking at it that way has helped though.


Yesterday I had my 6 month follow up with my pulmonologist since starting my CPAP. It went well. I was commended for taking it with me on my business trips and to Ireland. Dr. J wanted to know if I filled the reservoir with Guinness. I told him no and that I used Jameson instead. He laughed.

I got some grief because I have missed some nights here and there for usage. Some nights I fall dead asleep the moment my head hits the pillow and before I get a chance to put the mask on. Other nights, I haven't wanted to wear the damned thing. So I need to get better about that. I also was lectured a bit on my usage each night. I am supposed to use it for at least 6, but 7 is preferred for optimal sleep. My average use was about 6 hours 45 minutes. Part of that is due to a bit of a crazy schedule right now with Marshall filling in on some night shifts and I don't get to bed until 11:30-midnight. Ugh.

As the appointment was winding down he asked if I had anything else to discuss. I told him I had taken his advice and started seeing Dr. Hendrick. Dr. J recommended him after my 1 month appointment and I was frustrated that there was no change in the scale.

Dr. J lit up and said he had been getting updates. He wanted to know how I was doing and was very congratulatory when I said I was down 35 pounds from my highest, but I didn't know what my chart said there. According to their office I'm down 25 pounds. He apologized for not even looking at that part of my chart. He was excited that I am getting so close to being 10% down. He wanted to know about my Dexa scans and if I had a second one done yet. I told him no, but the first one was cool. I told him that according to the scans I have 140 pounds of bone and lean muscle. Dr. J and his nurse stared at me in surprise.

Dr. J came over to me looking very serious then, but with a bit of pride too. He wanted to know if we had set a goal weight yet. I told him I hadn't, but given my muscle and bone mass, that I think I am looking at 180-190 pounds at the lowest. Provided I don't lose too much muscle mass. He freaking beamed at me. He said that should be my absolute lowest and right at 200 pounds might be good for me. 200 POUNDS. I never thought I would hear a doctor say that would be a healthy weight for me. I'm so used to hearing that I need to be under 150! Anyways, Dr. J said that I am not due for another year and if I keep up like I am he has no problem scheduling another sleep test to get me off of it! Then he said if I get another 50-60 pounds off before my visit next year to give him a call. He will do the sleep test then! I almost hugged him.

His nurse was walking me out and talking to me about everything. We had talked a bit in the exam room about my energy and sleep quality. She said she was wanting to get more active but that it was hard. I bit down on my initial reply of she didn't need to lose weight. Body image issues are so rough, and if she wants to get healthier, good for her. I told her that if she really wants it, she'll find a way. She asked what I was doing for workouts and how I fit them in. I told her I go on my lunch breaks a couple days a week. She looked kind of surprised and asked why that time. I was blunt and said I won't get up early, and once I get home I'm done. It's what works for me. She agreed with that thought and said she would try it. I told her, quite honestly, if I can get my butt in gear and do this she can too.

She looked me dead in the eye and whispered, "You're my new hero." I had no idea what to say other than thank you.

I wanted to deny it. I'm still so close to the beginning of the journey and haven't done much. At least it feels that way. But I have done a lot. I have been hearing from quite a few friends that I inspire them, and it warms my heart. I see Marshall making small changes because of my examples. I wasn't expecting someone, who is pretty much a stranger, to say that to me.

I think that doctor's visit was a success. :)

Oh, one last note for this post. The fall rally for the TOPS chapters of the Front Range was while I was in Ireland. When I got back I was given an award I had been awarded. Between the 1st of January and end of July I had lost 20.25#!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Getting back on track

I am finally home and feel like my schedule is getting back to normal. October was a whirlwind month to put it mildly. It was fantastic and wonderful and I am so glad I went on my trip to Ireland. I am so so happy to be home though.

Ireland was amazing. I didn't know how many shades of green there were. I wasn't expecting flowers to still be blooming in October. Fuchsia, dahlias, hydrangeas, and so many more were in bloom. It was gorgeous. I was also surprised by the size of the plants. It's amazing what great soil and plenty of water can do. Dahlias as tall as me. Hydrangea bushes that came up to me chin and twice my arm span. Giant fuchsia bushes and not the little ones I see in hanging pots around here.

Our tour was fantastic. Driftwood tours did a great job and I can't say enough about it. From accommodations, restaurant recommendations, lodging, activities, and how they set our group up I couldn't be more pleased. All 16 of us got along and had a great time. No one was ever late to the bus, and by the last day were all 10 minutes early to the surprise of our guide.

I took so many pictures and I am working through them all slowly. I did get some through Lightroom so I could enter the monthly contest for Vagabond. They narrow down photo submissions to the top 5 and the one with the most votes wins a prize. This month it's a hamper of chocolates from Skellig Chocolates. Of course I have to enter that!

Of course I keep getting asked about my favorite thing about the trip.

There were so many places we went that it's hard to narrow down in some ways what may favorite places were. The top ones that come to mind were not the major places like Blarney Castle or the Cliffs of Moher. Don't get me wrong they were fantastic and I would go back in a heartbeat, but the off the beaten track places were where I really fell in love with the country.

Meeting an old druid at Poulnabrone Dolmen who was making jewelry. I bought necklaces with Marshall's and my names in Ogham on them.

A surprise stop at St. Brigid's well and seeing all the memorials people have left behind with prayers for their sick loved ones and those who have passed.

Seeing cemeteries that will have a headstone from the 16th century feet away from one from 2017. They don't stop using the old cemeteries there.

The town of Dingle will always hold a special place in my heart.

Facing my fear of heights to climb castles. Especially Blarney Castle and kiss the Blarney Stone.

And I could go on and on.

There is only one real negative from the whole trip I can think of. Dublin was surprisingly dirty and had a lot of graffiti. I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't that. The city was nice, I felt relatively safe, and I had no issues. Aside from some things in Dublin that I didn't get to see this time, it won't be where I want to spend my time though.

My absolute favorite thing though? Without a doubt hand's down?

I was able to do, physically, everything I wanted to do.

Climbing castles, walking all day, short hikes, wandering after we got to our hotels at night, and so much more. I couldn't have done it a year ago. Even six months ago would have been a real struggle for me. That more than anything made me realize how bad off I was. But I have no regrets or guilt about how I treated my body. I am grateful for NOW. I'm fixing the issues. I was able to fully appreciate being fully mobile and full of energy. It's hard to comprehend how much mobility you have lost until you have it back.

I am still so proud of myself and I am still riding the high I have from all of that and thinking about all I accomplished personally on the trip.

There was only one day I said no to doing anything. We were going to Bantry House and there is a beautiful garden and overlook of the house and Bantry Bay. But the overlook is a steep stairway that is made of slate. The slate is slick as hell when it gets wet, and of course it was raining that day. I knew going up would be ok, but my knee was giving me fits going down stairs. There weren't any handrails. I took one look and said "Nope!" and headed inside. Laura went on her merry way up.

I do think that some of our tour mates thought we were mad at each other sometimes because we weren't always attached at the hip. It wasn't the case at all. We just knew when the other needed alone time and went our separate ways. We knew the other would find the bus or hotel or whatever when the time came.

Here's a few photos. I'm sure I'll post more here and there as I get them done.

Fountain at Abbeyglen Castle Hotel 
St. Brigid's Well

Dingle Bay


Heavenly Port at Dingle Bay

Rainbow over Killary Fjord

Slea Head drive, Dingle Peninsula

Slea Head Drive, Dingle Peninsula.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Learning self-love and forgiveness

I'm down 30 pounds. I actually hit it a few weeks back. I'm being so cautious about losing weight this time. It is so easy to dismiss 5, 10, and even 15 pounds lost. 5-10 can easily be gained or lost in a week depending on what you eat and, for us ladies, the time of the month it is. There was something in me about hitting 30 pounds lost. I am finally starting to feel the smallest bit of hope that I am doing it this time. Hope that I will get there, eventually. It's such a fragile bit of hope. I feel like I'm trying to get a wilted plant to grow and baby it along.

Marshall wanted a pic the other day to prove how tired I looked. We were both able to see my weight loss in my face.

It's a long, slow process this time. But it is so worth it. I'm doing it the right way. More importantly I'm doing it for the right reasons. Yes I want to wear clothes from "normal" stores. Yes I want to wear cute clothes. Yes I want to feel like a "normal" part of society and not deal with being fat-shamed anymore. Yes I want to feel good in my skin again. And hell yes, my health is at the top of this list. But my reason? I'm learning to love myself again. I was doing good years ago, and I am not sure what happened or when. I don't think it was one thing. However, I am back there now.

Some of it is being down 30 pounds. I won't lie. It feels great. More than that, it's the things I'm doing day to day that are making me feel amazing that are helping the most. I am noticing with my strength training, I'm walking taller. I'm not hunched over or looking at my feet as I walk. I'm holding my head up high again. I'm feeling better with the foods I am eating, and learning how to eat again.

I had a follow up with Dr. Hendrick a week and a half ago. It was a fantastic visit. I don't know if I had caught him on bad days previously or what, but he was laughing and joking with me. Part of me wonders if he had been reserved until he knew I was truly taking this seriously and after being 25 pounds down since starting with him he sees that I am serious. I don't know. We had an incredibly positive discussion about the eating habits I'm developing. We talked about how I am eating when I'm full. What eating to satisfaction means. And whether it is a healthy piece of fish or a decadent cupcake of just eating 80% of it to see if that satisfies me. Does it satisfy my hunger? Does it satisfy my cravings? He acknowledges that there are times we emotionally eat, it will happen. What we need to do is recognize when the food is no longer tasting good and allowing ourselves to stop and be ok.

I also find it funny that Marshall knows when I'm done before I do. I'll start looking at the food on my plate, usually unconsciously, and stare at the food. Mentally I'm just staring at it. Sometimes I wonder what I want next. Sometimes there's no thought there at all. Sometimes I know I'm within one or two bites to "done" and wondering what I want to finish with. Every single time Marshall looks at me and tells me I'm done. It's ok to to put the fork down and leave food on my plate. That's hard for me sometimes. I was raised in a household where you clear your plate. There's such an odd sense of freedom in being able to eat until I'm done and leaving it. Case in point, dinner tonight. We ordered calzones. I left just under half of my calzone. I was done. This never would have happened a year ago. I would have eaten until I was painfully full, and regretting it.

The other thing we talked about is learning my signals better. I haven't talked about it a whole lot to anyone, but I am taking a prescription med to help me. It is called Contrave. It is two different drugs combined into one. They were originally meant to help with addiction (smoking/drugs and alcoholism respectively). How they act is by one dulling the cravings and hunger signals, and the other making my satisfied and full signal louder. I still control what I put in my mouth, but it helps me battle the cravings for chocolate or just the urge to eat for no reason. Sadly insurance doesn't cover it, and I could rant on that for a while. However, for me it's working. It has helped with my cravings. It does help me recognize when I'm full. It's been a fantastic tool to help me learn my body again. When I do get hungry, I'm truly hungry. Well, most of the time. The cravings aren't gone completely.

I surprised Dr. Hendrick when I told him my reason for letting myself get to true hunger (belly growling LOUDLY). I need to know what true hunger actually feels like. I need to know it's ok to be hungry, and it's a natural signal. I know he is concerned with keeping me on track and not letting it start a binge. I respect that. However, he agreed with my reasoning and somewhat agrees. I also told him I want to go off the Contrave at some point soon, as an experiment. I need to see if I can start learning the signals my body naturally has. I don't want to be on the med forever. He agreed and reiterated I can go on and off the meds at any time. It's my journey and he is there to help me however. Dr. Hendrick also said what I have been experimenting with mindful eating, and he was impressed with what I have been doing on my own. The hospital here does some mindful eating classes, but I will miss a good portion of this session. I did get some links and book recommendations from the good doctor though.

When I mentioned this to Marshall, he had a surprising take on it. Marshall said he doesn't want to see me derail over the holidays. There are so many temptations around, and it's a stressful time at work. He doesn't want me to undo the hard work I have done. His opinion is to try after the first of the year. After much discussion, I agree with him. I will wait to try going off the meds until after the first of the year. When I first discussed it with Dr. Hendrick I hadn't even considered the upcoming holidays.

I will say the last couple of weeks, I've been glad to be on the Contrave though. We're coming up on a hard time of year for me. October is when my best friend growing up died. It's always rough on me. On Saturday I fly to Ireland with my best friend from college for a 10 day trip. Part of the trip is to finally say goodbye to her and hopefully get some closure. Grief is a funny thing, and I thought I was doing pretty good and pretty healed. I lied to myself. Big time. I've been on the verge of tears for weeks now. I've also been wanting nothing more than to binge. To eat like I used to. Because eating the point of over full, almost sickly full, numbs you. For a little bit. It's the same as drinking to forget in some ways. It's to numb you. I've given in some days, and others I haven't. I have recognized it for what is though, and it's been a surprisingly good thing.

Sometimes I give in and get a treat at lunch. Other times I can bargain with myself and wait until I get home to go to the sweets shop a block over and get something actually worth spending the calories on. Sometimes I eat peanut butter out of the jar stashed in my desk at work. But no matter what I have eaten to fulfill the emotional rawness right now, I've been trying so hard to be forgiving and gentle with myself. I've been trying to treat myself like I would anyone I love. It's helped a lot. It hasn't been easy, not by any means. Allowing myself to say that I want to emotionally eat because I am grieving and it's ok to eat a little is ok. As a result it hasn't resulted in any out right binges.

With that, I'm going to go work on more packing.