waiting in antici…pation

I’ve not been on the phone with doctors so much in my life as I have the last two weeks. From life insurance (I almost had forgotten that non-smokers pay way less than when I was a pack-a-day) nurses calling to schedule health exams, to my family doctor asking about my Thyroid medication, suddenly my weight has been put on the medical radar. Again.

Listen, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I know what it feels like to “be ignored”. Which we’re not. It’s more, impatient. I had a salad last week, why aren’t I 15 lbs lighter this week? Why isn’t it working? We don’t want things to take time. We have instant dinners, instant messages, why don’t we see instant weight loss? Everything in real time?

Top two photos, March 2018; Bottom two photos, May 2020

During my divorce in 2016, I was smoking 20 cigarettes a day. I was working three jobs, and handling a side hustle. Vegetables? What are those? Something you get on your burrito? I ate when I had the kids home, because their health was paramount. Trouble was, they were rarely home. They spent copious time during the week with Dad, given I was working most days, and all nights. So it was up to the weekends to make up for what I’d lacked the entire week prior. I lived on a solid regime of Pepsi, and whatever came out of the vending machine at work.

My weight held steady between 170 and 185. I didn’t even own a scale, so I typically checked in while I was with my sister. She’s been about shakes, and Keto, and making conscious health choices that would make even the most committed dietitian jealous. She’s a pillar of knowledge, and strength. She was the one who was keeping a keen eye on my lifestyle. And she checked me. “You sure you know what you’re doing?” she’d ask. “Are you sure you don’t need a break?” “Have you eaten today? Even a shake?” She was on the line when I called and said: they think it’s Irritable Bowel Syndrome. When I told her: they’re sending me for a mammogram. She watched me be irritable. Be frustrated. She watched me chuff down a dart at a time, in a year I was lighting one dart off the other. She was there when my Ears Nose and Throat specialist told me it was surgery or a CPAP machine for my sleep apnea. And she was there when I elected to cancel going under the knife in Kitchener for a move to Kingston. (I’d get the surgery some other time, I promised her.)

So when I told her I was ready to make some changes , she welcomed me.

I took a stroll down memory lane this morning, scaling (no pun intended) back down the My Fitness Pal app history. I’ve been monitoring my weight for two years. My first entry was February 9, 2018. I was 188lbs. It dips and ducks and over the next few weeks, finally getting down to 181 on March 11. It creeps up to 190 on June 6th, and then I stopped weighing in. I had been trying to run for a few weeks. I distinctly remember giving up with the weather grew hot and humid. I’d been playing tennis for about a month. Not well, mind you. But still playing, none the less. Again, I gave up with the sun threatened to beat down its rays until we were unable to breathe. I went ahead and just enjoyed the summer.

But on March 16th, 2019 I jotted down 191 as the next entry. It was a week after I’d started the 90 Day Challenge with the YMCA of Eastern Ontario. I made a clear, conscious decision that it was time. That I had enjoyed those brief few months/weeks in 2018 where I’d played tennis, and gone for jogs. That I was being hindered by smoking, and being overweight. It was time to revisit my ENT, and figure out if we could reschedule my surgery. I was going to quit smoking, and that would also give me opportunity to request a breast reduction again (I’d been accepted as a candidate in 2005, but being a smoker, was eventually denied.) I was going to work with the Y, figuring out a health schedule. I was going to try everything from classes, to swimming to the work-out rooms. I was going to get this under control.

Whatever kind of commitments I’d known in the past paled in comparison to what I was dealing with now. I was at the Y multiple days per week. I quit smoking cold turkey and didn’t go back. I called the ENT’s office and scheduled my sleep clinics. Two months into the challenge, it was time to visit my family doc, and step up on her scale. Time to reopen the discussion about a breast reduction. Time to see an allergist about my food concerns.

All the while, I bopped around on My Fitness Pal, logging my food diary, and denoting my weight.

Something wasn’t adding up.

What started as 191 in March, soon became 195 by the middle of April. By September, it was 199. February, I had soared to 215. Today, I am 223lbs.

By October last year, I’d worked hard enough I was able to run an 8k. By February, I was prepared to hike 65. And while my heavy work-out load has taken a hit given the pandemic, I’m still logging my food intake, and rarely exceeding more than 2000 calories on any given day.

My thyroid medication has been elevated three times in the last year. My sleep apnea surgery has been cancelled indefinitely due to my weight gain. The allergist has determined I have an intolerance for gluten, and shellfish. In the month I cut carbs out entirely, I still gained weight. Even during intermittent fasting (which I’ve tried on the last two weeks), I’ve put on another three pounds.

I wish, I wish, I was cracking open an Pepsi at 8 o’clock in the morning, and hacking a dart for breakfast. And that I was enjoying a burrito at noon, washed down with a jack and coke. I wish I was skipping dinner in favour of Cool Ranch Doritos, peppered with plain M&M’s. I wish I was sitting on my back deck with lit ciggy in one hand, regaling some tale over shots of tequila.

At least then, I was thinner and happier. I wasn’t obsessing over calories, and whether I could eat. And can I have a slice of pizza? What will it mean for my waist if I indulge on the one night this week Jan opted not to cook?

I might have pasta once a week. Maybe even biweekly. I give myself doses of shit for enjoying a Pepsi mini. I mercilessly berate myself for going another day without having a run on our treadmill. Or opting for one cookie. And even then, sometimes I’ll only have half.

The hell is wrong with this picture?

Hooked up to a CPAP machine all night. Being afraid to have more than 7 chips for a snack. Buying Boost shakes to replace meals. Not allowing to eat until a certain time everyday, and crying when I’ve gone past the closed eating window by accident because I didn’t check the clock.

And not being able to fit into my clothes. I need new bras, and panties. I can’t wear my jeans anymore. I can’t fit into my favourite dresses – some that I wore as late as last November. I can’t fit into my bathing suits. And all the while, I pass myself in store front mirrors, or catch a glimpse of reflection in lake water and see this disgusting, fat woman staring back at herself.

It takes everything I have to shake off these feelings of negativity. It takes everything I have to get dressed, and feel beautiful. And if I take more selfies than others, it’s because I need some way to feel happy inside my own skin. The skin that has betrayed me.

Every morning, I’m greeted with messages of “hello beautiful”. I have a partner who loves me implicitly. Who takes great care in our diets to ensure that all members of this family are granted access to a variety of vegetables, fruits, proteins and good carbs/grains.

But something isn’t giving. There’s a miss here, somewhere. And so long as I keep packing on the pounds, the longer I am subjecting myself to being hooked up to a CPAP machine at night, the closer I am to being an out-of-shape, heart-attack candidate in my forties. Something has to give.

Yesterday, I found out I have been recommended by my family doctor for the Bariatric Clinic here in Kingston. My doctor and I have been together since I was twelve. And three babies, one miscarriage, and 120lbs later, we have agreed that this is at least a dialogue worth opening.

I’ll chronicle that journey, just as I have the last year of my health and fitness goals. Unbelievable, in a week’s time, it’ll be 1 year that we wrapped the 90 Day Challenge. Thank you for following me, supporting me, and sending your messages of good, healthy vibes.

(And for the record – not once ounce of me truly wants to be a chronic smoker, with a steady diet of bad food choices and unbelievable stomach cramps and pains. Don’t worry.)

The message here is listen to your body. Journal. Log your food. Denote your weight. If something is off, if you’re trying and it isn’t working, if something isn’t clicking, don’t get lost inside your own mind. Talk to your doctor. Talk to your partner. And finally, give yourself a good pep talk. You’re worth every moment you spend thinking about your health.

— c ☆

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