Who Am I and What Have I Done with Myself?

I’ve talked before about struggles with my weight. I was pudgy as a child — “pleasantly plump,” if you will — and the mild teasing and occasional ostracism as a young person led to issues that I believe kept me from losing the weight for good because I felt like if I lost the weight I was giving in to their negativity.

For the record, let me just say again that accusing overweight people as lazy lumps who need to “put down the chicken leg and get off their ass” is not the way to motivate someone to lose weight. One of the worst statements I’ve heard is, “There’s no excuse for someone to be overweight.”

I’ve stood up on the soap box about that issue before (see link in first line), and I can say that for me, the negative experiences I had as a kid regarding my weight created a rebellion in my mind and made me want to eat what I wanted. These incidents didn’t happen daily for years and years, but it didn’t take long for the damage to settle in my subconscious.

Almost two months ago, I went to my doctor about my anxiety that had started creeping up to troublesome levels. For those of you who tuned in last fall, you’ll remember I saw my regular doctor about the possibility that I was perimenopausal, but that was a negative. After blood tests, he determined that it was probably stress.

Oh, you mean, from my dad having lymphoma and work going crazy and (at that time) The Husband’s grandmother in poor health? Stress? Who knew?

Well, the stress didn’t get much better and I started having freak out episodes where I convinced myself I was having a heart attack. Stomach ache after I eat? Could be indigestion, but it could be a heart attack. In February I started going back to the gym because I was doing the Cooper River Bridge Run on April 5th and needed to start training.

Exercise gives off those good endorphins, right? Not when you think you’re not breathing right. I would be in mid-workout and believe I was getting too winded. Something had to be wrong. I left and arrived home in full-blown panic mode.

In the back of my mind, I knew I probably needed to go back on my anxiety meds, but I had been off of them for two years and done so well. Going back on them felt like a failure. I know, I know… we do what we must to get by, but I just wanted to handle it myself.

Long story short, I went back to the doctor’s office to get a prescription for meds. However, my blood pressure was too high, so the nurse practitioner gave me a scrip for that as well. Then she wanted to do blood work, “just to make sure I haven’t missed anything.”

Well, something had been missed. My blood sugar. It was too high.

There’s nothing quite like hearing a medical professional say that you’re staring down a diabetes diagnosis to get your ass in gear. She didn’t immediately book me for rounds of more tests. She sent me home with a glucose monitor with instructions to check my fasting glucose twice a week and to drastically cut the starchy carbs — breads, potatoes, corn — as well the sweet stuff. I was to focus on lean meats and veggies, especially the green, leafy kind, and I had to return to her in a month.

For the first time, I got serious. I went cold turkey from sweetened drinks from my diet. I drank unsweet tea or water. (Incidentally, my nurse practitioner actually recommends NOT drinking water with meals so that you don’t drink water all day. Her belief is that it can mess up your electrolytes.) No artificial sweeteners either. That’s just a bunch of chemicals. I limited my starch to croutons or small pita wedges that came with a salad.

In previous weight-loss efforts, I had always given myself a cheat day each week when I ate whatever I wanted, but this time I knew that was too much. I haven’t said, “I’ll never eat bread/pizza/Mexican/French fries again.” I know I will, but those treats will be fewer and farther between.

For example, the night before the Cooper River Bridge Run, we ate at a pizza place, and I had a divine slice of pepperoni pizza. An hour or so later, I had a pain in my stomach that I had not experienced in three weeks. It came from the carbs. All the digestive distress over the years — the nausea and general miserableness after eating a big meal — came from all the starch I had eaten.

Since cutting starchy foods and eating strictly veggies with my meats, I have felt uh-maze-balls. I don’t feel sluggish or overstuffed like a cow being led to the slaughterhouse. Throwing in exercise helps as well. I hit the treadmill about five times a week for 30-45 minutes, depending on whether I’m doing a strength training workout on that day. I know some people hate the treadmill and say it’s boring, but I love it. I plug in my music and go. Plus, walking is phenomenal for shedding inches from the mid section.

Inevitably, the new eating regimen and exercise plan has paid off. I’ve lost 20 pounds and dropped a pants size. My blood pressure and glucose levels haven’t quite dropped back to normal, but I’m pretty confident that if I keep at it, those will even out as well. There is no history of diabetes on either side of my family, so I’m sure this came from my body having to deal with all this extra weight for decades and finally saying, “Oh my God. That’s it. We’re going on strike until you do something about this.”

Four months of progress
Four months of progress

The biggest evidence of my new lifestyle came last week at the gym. When I arrived and scanned my membership card, I noticed plastic eggs randomly placed at the counter, and then the towel stack, and next to a couple of machines. When I was done on the treadmill, I went into the stretching room to cool down and noticed an egg in the corner. I picked up the egg when I was done stretching and went to the front desk.

“Okay, I’m assuming these are for us?” I asked.

“Oh yeah!” said one of the front desk greeters. “Some have candy and some have orange strips of paper with prizes written on them.”

ooooOOOOOoooo, I think to myself. Free personal training session? Free one-month membership? I cracked that bad boy open, and out fell a mini Twix bar.

And I was DISAPPOINTED! Over having candy!

Who am I and what have I done to myself?

Rest assured, I don’t plan on turning into one of THOSE people. The ones who watch you bring a cheeseburger plate with fries and onion rings into the office break room and say, “Wow, how many calories/fat grams/carbs are in that?” The ones who can do nothing but talk (*cough* brag *cough*) about their healthy routine. This blog is NOT a weight loss blog. I will probably talk about what I’m doing from time to time, but you won’t see me obsessing over it because I have spent my entire life doing that and I’m done.

I share my experience because I have made changes that are truly benefiting me — some that I thought I just couldn’t do. I once believed that I just couldn’t go two months without French fries, that I just couldn’t drink tea without any sweeteners, that I just couldn’t go a week without a cheat day to eat whatever I wanted. But I could, I can, and I have. It’s not as hard as you think it is, and I guarantee you’ll feel better once you make those changes. I’m right here living proof of that. When it has to get done, you can do it.

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