For this post, I am sharing my feelings about something so personal that I’m amazed I’m able to do it. It isn’t easy to talk about being overweight and dieting.
I went through some old picture albums to add thinner pictures of me to this story. Remembering the time in my life when I embraced hiking and the outdoors was poignant.
Turning my life around is a lyric line from my song named “Clear.” My song speaks about letting go of fear. Trying to lose weight definitely confronts my fears of failure.
“I’m a loser!”
”It was morning and I stretched leisurely in my bed. My body felt very strange; I began imagining ways I could describe it.
I was in a submarine. In the ocean depths I could feel the water pressure squeezing my head. The submarine’s engine hummed and my body was propelled through dark depths.
I was standing at the North Pole. My body couldn’t stop shivering. The strangest part was that I was warm and not shaking at all. My mind was just imagining those shivers.
I was a participant in a drug orgy. Yet I wasn’t euphoric or sick. I noticed that every movement was an effort; I was gliding in slow motion. My thoughts kept bumping into each other as a freight train ran through my mind. There wasn’t any sound; just a “chug chug” that made it impossible for me to think clearly.
All of this was related to the intense diet detox I was going through. I was on Day #5 of a medically supervised weight-loss program. (I’m not sharing which one because I don’t want to advertise anything at this time.)
In 2012, my father died. My mother was in a nursing home and had dementia. I made the decision to end my marriage of 31 years.
Before I moved out, I had three cataract surgeries (I had what was called a “cortical chip” and the doctor had to go back for a third surgery). I had other complications and developed dry eye syndrome. My mother died the following year, two days before my birthday in 2013.
I carried grief over ending my marriage and losing my parents whom I was so close to. But it was my dry eye condition that overwhelmed me the most. I was frustrated, depressed and discouraged because I was living with chronic pain in my eyes.
Over those past 4 years, I devoted myself to my healing. Fortunately, I had music to soothe me but unfortunately, I also soothed myself with food. As a result, I gained a lot of weight. I wondered whether my weight problem caused my eyes to hurt more, but I didn’t have the strength to change my eating habits.
Not a day went by that I didn’t feel terrible about it. I let my problem mushroom even more out of control as I gave up.
But deep down, I knew I was capable of turning my life around. I had done it in a huge way already by finding the courage to end my marriage. When would I be ready to do it again?
My readiness came after I had an endoscopy last month. While I was on a gurney recovering, the gastroenterologist told me that a 30-pound weight loss might completely resolve my condition.
My “condition” was a persistent cough that was related to gastric reflux. Being on acid blockers alleviated some of my cough, but I didn’t want to take them forever.
My motivation was because I still had a cough whenever I sang. Singing was my expression of feelings and my passion. I had to do something and couldn’t be complacent any longer.
Two weeks ago when I had lunch with my brother, Norm and sister-in-law, Jo, I asked them a lot of questions about the diet program they had been so successful with. They both looked amazing and were maintaining a 40 and 25 pound weight loss respectively. I was so happy that Norm didn’t need to take blood pressure medication anymore. Clearly, he had really improved his health.
I’ve been on many diet programs in my life and have lost large amounts of weight before. But since having four children, I’ve struggled.
He told me, “Jude, the first two weeks are tough – but then it’s great. You’ll be so glad you did it!”
The next day, I made an appointment to sign up for the same weight loss program Norm and Jo were on. I liked structure and it was a program that I was certain could work for me.
I entered the clinic and was very subdued. For my appointment, I was instructed to fast so labs could be taken that morning. A nurse took some of my blood, then I was weighed and a lot of my body parts were measured.
I kept thinking about how hungry I already was.
When the counselor explained the program to me, I told her I hated feeling hungry. She assured me that the low-carb program was designed to put my body in a state of ketosis, which meant I was burning fat. I would be eating protein every two hours and I wouldn’t feel hungry, but would possibly have a headache the first two days.
She shared with me that she had lost 130 pounds on the program. Losing that much weight seemed unbelievable. I didn’t have to lose even half that much, so it would be a piece of cake for me. (Okay, I’d better watch my metaphors!)
I chose a ten-week weight-loss plan and signed a bunch of papers. Even though I was seldom negative, I confessed to her, “I feel like I’m signing up for prison today!” She smiled and reminded me that a positive attitude was much more helpful to ensure weight-loss success. Of course, I knew she was right.
I decided it was more like boot camp.
And as far as being in a prison, I was miserable with how my body felt in its current state. So that was my prison. This program was going to see me free!
I left that day and was fascinated how the protein bar sample they gave me kept me full for several hours past lunch. It was a good sign.
I was set to begin the program five days later.
I met with a nurse the day before starting. She checked me and went over the lab results. I was relieved to know that on most of the tests I was in the normal range, but there certainly was room for improvement.
I was very interested in a test that was a marker for inflammation. I thought it might explain my allergies and even my eye problem.
I asked the nurse what my result for that test was. She called it my “CRP.” The words “highly sensitive” were next to my number. I had 11.80. And under that was a paragraph stating that anything over 3 led to a high risk of cardiovascular disease.
Normal was supposed to be less than 1. Yikes!
The first three days I ate every two hours; mostly the program’s packaged foods – a shake, a protein bar, pudding, chili, as well as a low-carb yogurt and a scrambled egg. My counselor was right; I wasn’t hungry.
But by the end of the day a fog rolled in, also known as “the diet flu.” I also had a real flu shot the day before to compound things.
At every bi-weekly clinic visit I was given a Vitamin B-12 shot, a standard thing that was supposed to perk me up. Each time I was there I was offered an appetite suppressant, but I didn’t want it. I wasn’t hungry – just spacey.
I learned that on the fourth day, I would be able to have fruits and vegetables again. My counselor told me I’d definitely feel better after that. I was pretty excited about it.
Doing this intense weight loss program was something I had dreaded and yet, I’m so glad I followed through and signed up. I’m being reborn again!
My experience so far has been different from what I expected. I’m floating instead of hungry. The weird sensations have been fascinating, but slightly disturbing.
I do need my brain, as it was difficult to even write this story.
The night before my fourth day, I was dreaming about which fruits and vegetables I’d eat. I had to admit that I was getting hungry. But it was okay because I could feel my progress and everything tasted so much better.
There was a knock on my door and it was my son. He said, “Mom, I feel terrible. I ate your container of chicken without thinking. I know that’s the only thing you eat – so I’ll go buy you more tomorrow.”
I looked forward to that chicken every night. I noticed my voice was shrill as I said, “Don’t tell me that!”
I was very crabby and took a deep breath. I didn’t want to be angry with him. Our refrigerator was pretty empty and my son loved eating.
Lately, I had gotten tired of shopping for food so often for both my large sons. Since I wasn’t eating much, this was a great time to make a change. I told my son I would appreciate him going food shopping the following morning.
I wrote out a detailed list with two columns: “food for mom” and “your food.” I wanted chicken, a few low-carb yogurts, lots of salad, vegetables and some assorted fruits. Then I jotted down a few items I knew my son needed.
I debated once more about letting him have a wad of cash to buy food, but reminded myself that this was an important step in his development. For God-sakes, he was almost 20 years old!
“I’m glad I can laugh about this now”
I was gone all morning and dreaming of my lunch. Soon I would have some warm chicken and a big salad. Which fruit would I choose?
I could feel my energy draining out of me. I needed fuel and soon I’d have some real food.
I drove into my coop’s parking space. I practically danced through the front door and asked my son how it went at the market. He smiled and said it went fine.
I was really pleased; it was apparent that he had even put everything away.
But I didn’t smell my rotisserie chicken.
I opened the fridge. My face was probably slightly contorted as I looked at an entire shelf filled with a cinnamon roll flavored low-carb yogurt. I said, “Didn’t I tell you to buy only 2 containers of yogurt? I know it was clearly written on my list!”
My son grinned and said, “But mom – it was on sale! You have to buy 10 to get the sale price.”
I began to launch into an explanation with him about sale prices and quantity. But then I decided it would be better to do that later. I really needed to eat!
Where’s my chicken?” I asked.
His face looked bewildered. He stammered. “I didn’t see any that was ready when I was there. And I forgot to check before I left. Oh, Mom, I’m soooo sorry!”
My brain began to pound. I couldn’t believe it. I was dreaming of it being right there on a plate ready for me to eat.
I was shrieking as I reminded him that only the night before, he had promised to get me some chicken. That was why he went to the market in the first place – to make it up to me!
He said quickly, “I’ll cook you some right now, mom! Is there any in the freezer?”
I glared at him, “I need to eat now, not wait for you to cook it. And it won’t be garlic-flavored like the container you finished off last night.”
“Okay, I’ll just run and buy some right now,” he exclaimed. He was halfway out the door, running away and trying to escape my wrath.
I yelled at him to come back. With every ounce of calmness I could muster, I said, “Let’s just eat lunch together and then you can get it later. I’m just going to make myself a nice salad. I can just make do with some packaged turkey.”
My son smiled and said, “I bought you mushrooms, carrots and bell peppers.”
I stopped in my tracks. “What about lettuce?”
He squirmed and said slowly, “Oops. I forgot that, too.”
© 2016 by Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.