Second chances…

As I sit here enjoying my cup of coffee I am feeling particularly thankful this morning. Life, overall, is going pretty well.

Work is busy, but that’s not a bad thing – challenging – but not bad. Home is good – but then being married to Frank has been a pretty great ride all along. And today our friends Randi and Wade are coming to visit for a long weekend and I’m super excited about the visit.

In addition to the list above, this has been a reset week.

When I began this blog back at the very end of 2016, I was in a pretty difficult place. I was incredibly unhealthy, very overweight, and I felt powerless. Those feelings didn’t make me give up; quite the opposite. They made me dig in. I was determined to regain my life and stick around for the long haul with my family.

2017 was my year.

In February of that year, I sought medical intervention and found a bariatric surgeon. I’ve said this before about a zillion times, that wasn’t my first step and it wasn’t an easy step, but for me it was the right step at the right time.

Having struggled with my weight my entire life, and having lost both parents to preventable illness in their 60’s, I was primed for some real problems not too far down the road. I had literally tried everything I could on my own and I was failing miserably.

When I found Dr. Long I was in a rough spot, but in meeting with him, I felt a glimmer of hope. I knew I was up to the task of all the challenges post-surgery would bring, and trust me when I say there are many. I’m a dig in and get it done kind of girl.

From that first meeting the journey was on.

I had surgery on July 31, 2017. This year will mark four years since I took that step. Today my life is so much different and I am forever thankful. Would I make the same decision if I had it to do over again. In a heartbeat. would I recommend the surgical route to anyone — absolutely not. Wait, what?

Surgery is not a quick fix. It is definitely not an easy way out. It takes determination and dedication like I’ve never known before. And to complicate things – the surgery only removes your organs (depending on the route you go). It does not remove your thought patterns or change your coping skills. That is the hardest work of transformation. The surgery changes your eating habits immediately — it does not change the way you want to handle stress in the least.

I spent years shoving down my feelings with food. Literally years. My first memory of food-coping is when I was four. Four years old, there I sat in my closet with a small bag of Doritos waiting for my parents argument to pass. Four.

I was 47 when I had surgery.

That’s a lot of years of coping with stress through eating. And suddenly, my coping mechanism is gone.

The pre-surgical classes prepare you for dietary changes. They educate you about how much sugar is in sugary drinks, what a portion size looks like, why proteins are more preferable to carbs when you can only manage to eat a 1/4 cup of food at a sitting. And sure, you have a psyche evaluation, but that’s to determine your mental ability to cope with the surgery and the lifestyle changes you’ll have to make. They don’t sit you down and explain that the first time you hit a stress barrier you will feel like your life imploded. There’s really no warning for that part of the change.

And truthfully, had someone tried to explain it to me, I wouldn’t have grasped just how difficult that part of the journey was going to be. There’s really no way to understand it until you’re in it.

But even though that part was, and is, difficult, I wouldn’t have made a different choice.

The road hasn’t been perfect. That first year I hit my -100 goal. My doctor’s goal for me was -150 (which would have put me right around 135 pounds. I didn’t weigh 135 in high school when I was “healthy”. I carry a lot of muscle and have a decent sized bone structure. 175 was my goal. And I came really close. Then I had a touch of cancer. A story for another day.

When my cancer came, I sort of stuttered. There were parts of that experience that were jolting and in a way I froze. I sat down and took a long pause. I may not have been able to shove food down to cope, but I could change what my calories were made from. And I slowly did.

Carbs replaced my proteins and Chips Ahoy replaced chicken. And my movement slowed wayyyy down. I haven’t been consistent in moving for the last 2 1/2 years. I’ve moved, just not like I did that first year. All in all, it could’ve bee much worse. In the end I regained 16 pounds at my highest. And it’s interesting how the mind works. It’s not like I didn’t know the numbers were going up and I was getting soft where once I had built muscle. I stood by and justified it. I let myself off the hook. I’m still so far away from 300 pounds that I became comfortable with where I was.

And I made that comment to my friend a few weeks ago, and the conversation was pivotal.

We were talking about I don’t even remember what, and the topic of exercise and goals came up. I mentioned that I was about 15-20 pounds away from the original weight loss goal I had set for myself, but I wasn’t all that upset about it. I was no where near where I had once been and I was comfortable where I was. Bea didn’t miss a beat.

Do not accept comfortable was her message back.

She shared where comfortable had led her and how she took her fitness back and it sparked something inside of me. The steps I’d taken to get where I was flooded back. How hard I fought, what I went through and suddenly being comfortable felt…uncomfortable.

I went home and thought long and hard about our conversation and what I really wanted. All the things still rang true. I still want to be healthy, be active, feel empowered and I still want to stick around for the long haul.

My next call was to Michelle.

Bea’s neighbor Michelle is a health and fitness coach. And she’s awesome. We chatted through my history, I shared the story of my bad knees and bad eating habits and she came two days later with eating plan and battle plan in hand. She showed me modifications for my knees, that quite frankly no one had before. I have dug in and worked hard this week. Stared watching my macros (which in all the years I’ve never done, but I like it) and refrained from my habit of night eating. And little by little I’ve come alive again.

So this morning I sit here feeling very thankful for many things. For the journey and story I have to remind me of how far I’ve come and how far I still have to go. For good friends who hold me accountable and don’t let me accept that comfortable is the best I can hope for. And for second chances.

Time to go hit some goals!

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