Monday, May 31, 2010

Reflections on Three Years in H.O.W.: Physical

There's a saying in 12 step rooms: "First things first." So, first things first, on this Memorial Day, I want to publicly express my humblest gratitude for the men and women who have given service to our country in the military. Thank you.

There's another saying in OA, "Came for the vanity, stayed for the sanity." I can't say I was vain, but I am extremely happy that I have lost 103 pounds sensibly and safely -- without surgery and mostly without exercise. I love exercise, but due to a very serious ankle sprain and two subsequent surgeries, I was unable to really move around too much. Consequently, my weight reduction was mostly caused by my dramatic change in eating habits. This entailed giving up all trigger foods, and retraining my palate to like foods I previously eschewed, like whole wheat bread instead of white bread, and natural peanut butter instead of the sugary junk that passes as peanut butter.

When I came back to OA in June 2004, I was a size 22-24; my jeans were bigger. My hips were so wide, I would sometimes activate the emergency break in the car when my extra fat spilled out of the front seat and into the middle console in the car, actually raising the emergency break unintentionally. I took up 1.5 seats on the bus, and was so easily fatigued. I look back in amazement that I wouldn’t walk to the movie theater that’s just a 15 minute walk from my house, or to the dog’s obedience class only about 5 blocks away, because it was so hard for me to move. Now I’m a size 10-12, and though I still have about 25 pounds to lose, I’m working on it, and I’m mostly happy with my body (except when I see something like Scarlet Johansson in a cat suit. Then I compare and despair). 

The truth is, if I never lose another pound, I'll be ok with that. I feel like I pass for normal in society, even in the fittest city in America, meaning, that my weight is no longer so high that it attracts public attention. I'm glad I'm mostly accepting of my body, because I've had two excellent registered dietitians tell me that because of how much weight I gained at the particular time in my life I gained it (mostly in high school), I am unlikely to ever be a "healthy"weight, as defined by height-weight charts. Hey, I'm glad to move brackets from "morbidly obese" down to just "overweight." That's great! At my current weight I have much more energy, except as compromised significantly by my Lyme Disease. I walked to the movie theater today, and I don’t take up 1.5 seats on the bus.

I've had another miracle of physical recovery in OA: my life is no longer dominated by food cravings and my attempts to fulfill them. Those cravings used to control me, as I described in detail in my last post. Because I've eliminated all trigger foods from my food plan, and because I don't allow myself the option of volume eating because I weigh all my food, I am mostly craving free. This is as miraculous as the weight loss itself. Now, when I occasionally have cravings, I can usually pinpoint the source to PMS or emotional turmoil. Most importantly, I understand that just because I have cravings doesn't mean I have to heed them, and I choose to use an OA tool instead.

One last thought: I told a friend that I hated myself at my old size. That comment alarmed her because she was afraid that if I gained all my weight back, I would hate myself. Don't get me wrong, I felt terrible about myself when I was so obese. However, what was really behind my comment was that I can't like myself when I am practicing the behaviors that got me to 250 pounds. Its hard to respect the self-centered, conniving, dishonest woman I have to be to reach that weight. We're not talking a slightly unbalanced diet -- it was an addictive feeding frenzy. 

So I'll end this post where I began it: with gratitude. I am grateful to be in recovery now, and very thankful to has a husband who totally supports me in this. A few minutes ago he asked, "How is your program?" So sweet.


Stef said...

First things first: I ADORE natural peanut butter, and have no idea how I ever entertained the sugary-processed crap. I’m with you on that one! (And probably on lots of other ones, too.) : )

Oooohhhh, “compare and despair” – I *really* like that. I think that one is going in my bundle o’ sayings I carry with me (figuratively, not literally).

I fully relate to the physical impacting so much of life, without even realizing it. I, too, was always EXHAUSTED, and I had no idea “why”. (Seriously.) Isn’t it amazing how we can let our lives be changed by this disease? Wow.

And regarding your last paragraph, as soon as I read it I immediately thought, “Awww, that is so sweet!” What a wonderful man you have in your life; and what a gift that you get to now be a wonderful wife to him. Awesome.


Steven said...

Your frank and sincere posts, and who you are, of course, have helped me gain greater respect and empathy for obese and overweight people. Thanks. You are in inspiration.

I never would have guessed that DC was the fittest city in the country by any measure. Thanks for that link.

When you're ready for more exercise, there's a lot you can do with dynamic FlexAware.


Sarah said...

Thanks, Steve. I appreciate it.