Friday, July 27, 2012

A Dangerous Slide

For the past week, I've been experiencing a dangerous slide. Consistently over on caloric intake and under on exercise, miserably I forced myself to step on the scale I've been avoiding. Not suprisingly, the numbers displayed a weight gain, and I thoroughly expected it. Heck, I deserved it, and pretending ignorance won't fix the issue.

Lately, I feel hungry all the time, and my willpower must be on vacation. I've begun falling back on old habits like consuming too many empty calories, found in food with low nutritional value and high in calories. I know I should avoid it, but right now I'm perilously out of control.

While a nutritional imbalance easily explains my decreased energy level and exercise apathy, I can't explain the total brake failure. Could this be the end of the road? Am I headed over the cliff at full speed minus the skid marks? Success at total weight loss has eluded me in the past. Maybe I am destined to be a plus sized woman for the rest of my life.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Peace, Baby!

I am not an early riser, and certainly never exercise before work. Today was different. For some reason, I could not get back to sleep, and the digits on my alarm clock were stalled at 6:30. I opted to lace up my running shoes and kick off the day with a 3.5 mile walk/jog.

My goal was to find a new neighborhood route about 3.1 miles in length so I can practice running for a 5K. I want to improve my speed and stamina. One step is losing weight, of course, I would like to lose 63 more pounds. Another is learning to feel the distance. Finally, I need confidence in my physical fitness to push for a quicker, longer stride.

What I wasn't expecting was the utter peacefulness that settled over me as I set out. The air was heavy with humidity, and the mercury was already on the rise. I traversed the streets of Roseville listening to birds chirping, eyeing the sun on its journey across the sky and feeling at peace with myself. I suddenly realized that this journey goes well beyond weight loss.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Successless Sit-ups

I am on a mission to do one sit-up. I can't believe my abdominal muscles are so weak they're unable to eek out a single sit-up. Mind you, I was never the sit-up queen, but I could at least do a respectable number when it came time for the Presidential Fitness Challenge in school. Even after six plus months of regular exercise I still can't perform this basic feat. It's definitely tell-tale about my starting fitness level, and to be honest I can't remember when I actually did my last sit-up.

Recently, a friend and I tried working out on the playground equipment at a local park, and it was actually a lot of fun. I have two kids 15 and 11 years, and I am ashamed that as an adult I've never used a playground to improve my own physical fitness. Fellow moms and dads, do your bodies a favor. Check out this playground workout from Shapeand quit passively sitting on a park bench while your kids play.

During our playground workout, my friend and I employed a step for step-ups and uneven squats, climbing bars for reverse push ups and swings for abdominal planks. Oh, and that bench where I usually plant myself and watch my kids play was perfect for modified push ups, mountain climbers and triceps dips. Mixing in a few cardio sprints got our hearts pounding, and by the time we finished we'd managed to burn a respectable number of calories.

Perhaps the most challenging was using a slide for sit-ups. Both of us kept slipping down. Fortunately, we did not land on our heads. As I mentioned earlier, I really can't do a sit-up anyway so I settled for a few "half" crunches. Someday soon, I know my body will award me that one sit-up. Until then, I just gotta keep trying.

Take the kids to the park and workout. Let me know how it goes!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Self Image's Unreliability

First and foremost, I'm back to exercising. I walked 2.75 miles the other night with my 11 year old daughter. It took us about an hour to make the trek, but the company couldn't be beat. Singing show tunes and telling stories we made our way along one of my familiar routes. Then, this afternoon I did a  5.8 mile jog/walk in 1:20.

I'm definitely beginning to feel better and stronger, but I couldn't help feel a little discouraged today when I couldn't just jog the entire distance like I did before my surgery. My heart rate was up around 158 bpm even during a brisk walk so I was reaping the benefit of aerobic exercise. Two weeks ago I was pushing myself a lot harder, but hey, I do still have the stitches in my bum. Anyone who's suffered an injury surely understands the impatience and frustration with the recovery process. It's a step forward one day then two steps back the next. I'm hoping from now on it's, "Forward, ho!"

Lately, I've been thinking about self-image. I, like many, look in the mirror and am unsatisfied with what I see. I critique my hair, face, body shape and clothing choices. Rarely do I truly like what I see, but by the time I walk away from the image in the mirror I've forgotten it.

When I was at my heaviest, I never thought of myself as a 300 pound person unless I was buying clothes which I hated doing, by the way. It is absolutely disheartening to know that you only have a couple choices when it comes to clothing stores, and as a plus size woman most of the clothing displayed I'd never dare wear. A friend and I always refer to that particular clothing genre as "hoochie mama." Who the buys the sleeveless skin tight crop, leggings and minis in a size 28? It's definitely not this girl.

I ultimately dressed in comfortable clothing. Pants with a snap and elastic waistband were heaven set, surely. Tee shirts, I bought one in every color, and big baggy sweatshirts lined my closet shelves. Seldom did I dress up. I always felt like every bulge was visible even with the miraculous advent of Spanx. At least in my over sized leisurewear I fooled myself into believing I was successfully camouflaging my rolls.

In high school I spent enough time obsessing about my physical image. Surely all that aerosol Aqua Net in the 80's damaged my lungs. Back then, I ritually tortured my hair with perms, peroxide, bleach and various hot irons. I'd spend at least an hour getting ready for school. My makeup was carefully applied, and I considered my clothing choices carefully.

My younger sister is still conscientious about her image. Believe me there is some sibling jealousy regarding how young and attractive she appears at 39. My own physical traits are rather unremarkable, and I could definitely use a professional makeover and better wardrobe. I hardly lament my looks so don't think I'm obsessed with the injustice of genetic code. Frankly, I don't considered my appearance beyond my morning preparations. Once I leave the bathroom mirror I idealize my body image as a size 10 and, of course, attractive.

I admit to NOT having a full length mirror anywhere in my house. I can only view myself from waist up unless I'm in a store's changing room. That's probably the reason I loathe shopping for clothing. Not having a full length mirror has helped me cope with being overweight. "See no evil," per say. By not regularly seeing my whole self I've allowed my brain to form a more perfect mental image.

My wake up call was the serious decline in my fitness level. I struggled to get up if I sat on the floor, became winded climbing a flight of stairs and felt sluggish and tired most of the time. It was past time to make a change in my life, and I needed to get moving immediately before my health declined to the point of no return. I was already a type 2 diabetic with high blood pressure and continuing on that trajectory would have been suicidal, plain and simple. I was killing myself with food and sloth-like behavior. My conscious self provided an inaccurate self-image, and until I stopped to cross-examine it I was perfectly happy just rolling along.

With half my weight shed I'm moving toward my ideal-self. As the distance closes I'm beginning to feel more satisfied and successful in my life.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Frontman of My Future

“Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you're living?" - Bob Marley

My family went to the Ziggy Marley concert at the Minnesota Zoo last night. There's nothing like Reggae music to lift a person's spirits. Of course, I couldn't resist a little dancing even post surgery. As I watched Ziggy perform, I started thinking about his band. Who are these musicians? I'm familiar with the headliner's biography and family roots but know nothing about the driving force providing the rhythm to Ziggy's melody.

I performed a quick Google search, and found only bits and pieces. I looked at Ziggy's discography crediting the contributing musicians, but I'm sure some are studio musicians and don't tour regularly. There seems to be plenty of information about the Marley family and legacy, but I've been unsuccessful in pinpointing a cohesive list of Ziggy's touring musicians. Musing about the many talented and creative artists stuck behind a frontman made me consider my life's journey.

Some people are perfectly satisfied going along in life uncredited. While others sometimes deservedly and/or selfishly receive all the credit. Upon examination it's becoming more clear to me that success begins and ends with taking credit for your accomplishments and admitting your failures.

When things seemingly falling apart it's so easy to lose sight of the wins. I listen to criticism from others, and it often affects the way I move forward. I inhibit my progress by over thinking, stalling or being self-effacing. If I want to succeed and be the frontman I need to be more aggressive, fearless and confident. My body-size has definitely contributed to some of the floundering in my personal and business affairs. I want to get up in the morning, look in the mirror and feel confident. It's hard to put your best foot forward when you can't see your feet.

Today's Independence Day, a day for celebration, but I'm feeling melancholy. When I'm sad I like to eat so I've been working extra hard to keep my calories in check. A big bowl of ice cream with chocolate sauce and sunflower seeds would have been so soothing and comforting on a day like today. Determination and reason ruled, and I settled for an 80 calorie Edy's fruit bar. It's time be the master of my own destiny and the frontman of my future.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Too Tired to Exercise

I can't believe how exhausted I feel. I thought I would perk up faster after this hemorrhoid surgery. It's been five days, and I just completed my first full day back at work. Since my job as a video editor means sitting for long hours in a chair staring at computer screen, I figured it was fairly safe to return to work. Not much pain today but now that I'm home I feel physically and mentally exhausted. I am actually considering a nap or maybe even just going to bed at 7:30PM.

I know I should try to at least walk around the neighborhood later tonight after it cools off. Perhaps some exercise will give my body the boost it needs to turn the corner. A nice brisk walk, hike, run or bike ride releases adrenaline and endorphines energizing me physically and mentally. It's hard to believe just a few days ago I was logging the miles and moving everyday. Now, I'm too tired to exercise.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

TMI Hemmies and Hernies

I had outpatient surgery on Wednesday for hemorrhoids, and I just haven't felt up to writing over the past few days. The recovery's been going well, and I've been taking Vicodin for pain. It tends to make me sleepy and nauseous. Most of the time I can manage my pain with Ibuprofen alone, but last night I had my first bowel movement after surgery. Today I feel like I'm starting all over in the healing process.

"Hemmies" are an embarrassing talking or even writing point. In fact, I can't believe I just wrote about them in this blog! I am hoping that my experience encourages others to get hemmie help sooner rather than later. Hemorrhoids are mentioned in writings across the ages and have afflicted famous and infamous people alike, but that doesn't make it any sunnier when dealing with discomfort where the sun don't shine.

I've been harboring hemorrhoids since my first fullterm pregnancy in 1996. Hemorrhoids are swollen varicose veins in the anal canal. They can occur internally or externally, and increased pressure can cause them to swell. Everyone's got them, but only some suffer. My hemmies tend to flare during my monthly flow, but at the beginning of May they became a major pain in my ass. I had one explosive stool that setoff a blaze. Every time I had a bowel movement it felt like I was passing razor blades. My anus would burn for a couple hours after, and the only thing that gave me any relief was wrapping an ice cube in a paper towel and shoving it between my butt cheeks. I tried nearly every tip I could find on the internet to help alleviate the discomfort - hot sitz baths, witch hazel wipes, Preparation H, various creams and ointments as well as natural home remedies. Nothing seemed to help, and the longer I suffered physically the more I broke down emotionally. Screaming and crying as I voided, curling up in the fetal position on my bed, weeping and sobbing for relief I finally accepted the need to see a doctor.

My hemmies weren't noticeably engorged with blood or thrombosed so my doctors's initial plan to lance them providing instant relief didn't come to fruition. Instead, I was prescribed steroid suppositories to help calm and sooth the swelling and irritation. After two weeks, my condition did not improve.

During my followup, I talked to my doctor about a softball-sized lump in my abdomen. I'd lost weight, and this bulge was more pronounced. I thought maybe it was putting pressure on my pelvic area aggravating my hemorrhoids. The doctor sent me for an abdominal and pelvic ultrasound. Thankfully, she also wrote me a new prescription for an ointment containing 5% Lidocaine to help numb my hemmie pain.

The radiologist reported an umbilical hernia. A hernia is a bulge of small intestine that manages to work its way outside the abdominal muscle wall near the belly button. I underwent a hernia repair in 2006. The surgeon inserted mesh into my abdominal wall for reinforcement, and I assumed it would prevent any future problems. The ultrasound also showed an abnormally thick lining with a small fibroid in my uterus and a 1.5" mass on one of my ovaries, probably a cyst.

My doctor called me immediately and referred me to a general surgeon. This surgeon had already performed two previous abdominal surgeries on me. He removed a fistula from my abdomen in July of 2002 and repaired my first hernia.

Presenting with a high fever and pressure in my abdomen one week post cesarean section in June of 2001, I underwent a medical procedure performed on a CT table to drain an abscess that had formed in my abdomen. After using a local numbing agent, a doctor and CT tech used the imager to help guide a giant needle through my abdomen directly to the abscess and drain it. Miraculously, my body managed to wall off the infection. I watched the medical team fill two 32-ounce Nalgene-like bottles with this vile smelling brown puss during the first procedure. Lab results proved the fluid contained e. coli and other intestinal bacteria. When finished, the doctor sutured a tube and surgical drain into place, and I sported the device for nearly a month. In addition I was treated with heavy duty IV antibiotics followed by antibiotics in pill form when I was sent home from the hospital a week later. After a year the pain and pressure in my abdomen seemed to return. After more tests, imaging and another CT procedure to drain the infection from my abdomen I met with my general surgeon who recommended open cavity surgery to remove a fistula that had formed and repair my small intestines likely at the root of the problem and leaking into my abdominal cavity.

Now it's 2012, and I'm diagnosed with a second hernia, an intrauterine fibroid, a mass on one of my ovaries and a case of horrible hemmies! On Wednesday my surgeon removed 3 external hemorrhoids plus a skin tag. I am nervous about my recovery and getting back on track with my weight loss quest after a doctor mandated 10-day break from biking, running, lifting and working out. I do plan on trying to take a nice walk tonight, though. I'm worried this speed bump is going to slow my progress. I stepped on the scale the day after surgery and gained 6 pounds surprising since I didn't really eat anything. I know it was because of all the fluids they pumped into me for surgery, but it's still disheartening to see a gain.

So far, the pain from the hemmie surgery pales in comparison to my suffering these past couple months. However, last night I thought I was going to pass out having my first bowel movement post surgery. I've been taking Miralax and stool softener since the surgery, and my surgeon warned me that I'd want to load up on the pain meds and Lidocaine before my first BM. I even did some reading online about it, but I must say that I was wholly unprepared for the shear agony of it. Straining and screaming at the top of my lungs, it felt like that I was pushing a pool ball through my b-hole. Even with soft excrement it was excruciating! I've had a couple more BMs today, and thankfully they were a lot easier and definitely not as painful. I'm using witch hazel wipes to clean and continue to reapply the Lidocaine. I've also had couple warm sitz baths. I am crossing my fingers that this surgery ends my hemmie suffering!

I still need to schedule a hernia repair with my surgeon, and I'm having a followup pelvic ultrasound in August to check the fibroid and mass on my ovary for growth. I talked to my primary care physician and surgeon about a possible abdominoplasty/tummy tuck along with my hernia surgery. Neither dissuaded me from looking in to it. My general surgeon works with a plastic surgeon, and I am going to do a consultation. I'm just not sure if my health insurance will cover an abdominoplasty. I doubt I can afford to do it otherwise.

Since I've had several abdominal surgeries my muscle wall is weak. My fat tends to gather around my mid-section resulting in a belly apron. Since, I've lost a lot of weight already my belly sags and pulls. I've been doing crunches and planks trying to increase my muscle tone. I want to shed another 70 pounds before I schedule a hernia repair and an abdominoplasty. It's just something I'm considering. It would definitely help during my workouts not to have all the excess skin hanging around my midsection. I'm not even sure if it's even possible to fix my belly apron with exercise alone after a 140 pound weight loss.

Today, I am just going to concentrate on recovering from this hemorrhoidectomy without gaining weight. That means adjusting my caloric intake to meet a more sedentary lifestyle.