Another Hill to Climb

I thought I was just tired because of the packing up of the entire back of the house and the mental energy required in figuring out a plan for how we’re going to pay for construction.   It turns out there’s a medical reason why I’m tired.  I’m anemic.  My doctor assured me I’m not ‘transfusion’ anemic (uh, reassuring, I think?) but I definitely need more iron.  I’ve been on the fence of anemia for years because the lovely menses, (AKA the monthly time when Aunt Flo comes to visit) has become heavier and that, coupled with my body’s need for absorption of iron at a different rate post gastric bypass, has made the perfect storm of anemia.   I’m exhausted and now there’s a medical reason.  I’ve been continuing to walk, almost daily, but I’ve felt like I’m totally dragging. I just chalked it up to typical mom exhaustion— March Madness, teaching grades 3rd and 5th, managing the lives of 3 children, you know, just, too-much-on-the-plate.  I’m relieved in some ways, to know that hopefully once my iron levels are in check, I’ll feel a little more spunk.

In other news, the saga with the house continues.  We’ve basically packed up our bedroom and the music studio into a storage pod and put everything else in the front of the house.  We’re definitely in close quarters.  It looks like we may be doing this for 3 months.  I’m hoping that’s a realistic timeline.  Meanwhile, we’re considering litigation against Zero Energy.  It’s a hot mess.  Now you feel anemic, right?

The picture is a hill that I used to avoid.  It’s quite steep, up Allen Avenue toward San Dimas Canyon.  I dreaded that hill before and I’d walk a different path.  Now I cruise up that sucker several days a week.  I thought I’d share my accomplishment.  It’s hard to see how steep it is from the photo.  IMG_1549

I will conquer this construction hill, this anemia hill, and the 2016-17 school year hill, one day at a time, with lots of naps.  Thank God for naps.  Anyone?  I give you permission to nap.  Let’s make a nap revolution.  I’m in.

I’m just too tired to write more.

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.

What a Difference a Year Makes

*I’ve posted my “before” photo below.

One of my mantras, when making decisions that require time commitment and discipline, is, “The time will pass no matter what you do with it.”  If I hadn’t had gastric bypass, this year would have passed, and I would have probably lost and gained the same 10 pounds throughout the year.  This year was different. March 23, 2016, was a game changer for me.  I faced my fears and embarked on an adventure that has brought many highs and lows, but mostly highs.

Many things have changed, and as a result, I have a stronger resolve that I can do hard things and not only survive but thrive.

Life still has many challenges and (dammit!) my leaner body didn’t solve all those problems.  (Surprise!)  I was under no delusions when I began this adventure.  I knew that being thinner wouldn’t magically make everything better.  I still have to deal with negative emotions in a different way.  I have literally walked my ass off.  (Smile.)

Speaking of life’s challenges, simultaneous to my surgery and the following events, we have been fighting with the LA County Department of BS.  (I love to call it that because it makes me feel better for, like, 1 second.  Building and Safety= BS.)  Just this week, we found out that the entire back of our house will be under construction for 3 months and we have to move everything out of our room and the music studio and move into Boy’s room, the living room, and a storage Pod.  (Yeah, guess what we get to do over spring break. Gah!)  The most devastating news, our construction costs may run up to $70,000.  Not kidding.  We’ve already spent $59,000 on the solar panels, roofing, and energy efficient work that Zero Energy completed without permitting.  (I’m laying this out there because I want to all to learn from my mistake.  Please don’t be hasty like I was.)  I thought I was doing a good thing, getting solar panels and making our house more energy efficient.  Nope.  This has been one of the most stressful experiences of my life, (and I’ve had a few other stressful times.)  That said, I have to find the silver lining. I have to. We will all have trouble, but we have to “dust the dust up off our shoulders, feet on ground, we’ll come round, and be human again.”

Have a listen.  I’ve been listening to this band on repeat since I heard them on KCRW.  I listened to this performance and was captivated and encouraged.


I know that it’s been rough,
It shows in your reflection,
You’ve fallen out of touch,
Got lost along the way,
I know it’s not enough,
But these things they all get better,
And even if its tough,

This is us, you know it on the inside,
This is us, so you should show it on the outside,
This is us, dust the dust up off your shoulders,
Feet on ground, you’ll come round,
And be human again.

I know that its been hard,
But even when its hurting,
You’re gonna have to start,
To learn to recognise,
That even in the dark,
There’s lines between the spaces,
Hiding where you are,

This is us, you know it on the inside,
This is us, so you should show it on the outside,
This is us, dust the dust up off your shoulders,
Feet on ground, you’ll come round,
And be human again.

So, even though there’s so much stress and uncertainty, I remind myself often that we are not promised a life without trouble.  Trouble in the form of storms is part of life.  (I’d like for this particular storm to end soon.)  If you pray, I’d appreciate some prayer, because right now, it feels like a dark ominous stormy night at sea with no lighthouse in sight.
I’ll be there for you and you be there for me.  We’ve got each other, and that’s really the most important thing.  This concrete (foundation of our house), wood (all the beams have to be replaced), and paper (money is just paper with attached value) isn’t something that will last forever anyway.

Be There lyrics

I’ll be there when you need me most
I’ll be there if you’re ever alone
Together, we can grow old.
I can’t leave you
I can’t leave you,


Thank you for being there for me during this first year post surgery.

I’m grateful.

I’ve sustained the 90 pound weight loss for several weeks now.

Here’s my “before” photo:


I’m back to my 3 year old self.  If you were hoping for a photo from last year, well, I’m not posting those, not because I’m ashamed. My reasoning is that, I liked myself in March of 2016 and I don’t want to criticize who I was last year.  I’m kinda done comparing.  I’m focusing on living.

Until next Friday…Love you loves.


Blast to the Not-too-Distant-Past: Part 2


Yesterday, I was so exhausted coming off of teaching, just two days in my 5th-grade class, that I fell asleep watching Goliath, Billy Bob Thorton returns as a down and out alcoholic divorced attorney and takes on his old firm. <<Commercial>>  Post- Goliath, I decided that I should probably just crawl into bed on a Friday evening at 9pm.  Yeah, it’s the life of a middle-aged mom, one that’s been sick with a pesky cold all week.  You know the kind of cold where your nose is itchy and you feel like you’ll sneeze any moment, and then you don’t.  The problem I have is, I have terribly dry skin already, and then when I have a cold I use hand sanitizer every 2 minutes, because I’m blowing my nose every two minutes, and well, my poor hands are competing for first place against the Rough-skinned Newt.

I went back to my posts in February of 2016, O*1sity- A Label.  I posted about my feelings about the word- O*!sity and included some of the research I was reading at that time.  This piece from the article I included is promising.  After 7 years, those who maintained their weight loss, who had the RYGB surgery, like mine, exercised regularly.

Regular physical activity is an important factor in weight loss maintenance (31). According to one survey in RYGB patients with a mean follow-up of 7 yr, successful patients (those who maintained at least 74% of their initial weight loss) exercised regularly (no details given) (32).

So, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, walking to get to 10,000 steps as often as I can.  It’s much easier being active when I weigh less, no question.

Check out my post from 2016, see link above.

My label has changed, but I’m still the same Joy.

Gastric Bypass Update:

I’m down 90 pounds.  For the first time, I fit into pants that I bought at the thrift store, size 10.  I don’t think I’ve worn a size 10 in over 20 years.  That was exciting and kind of unbelievable!  I’m not going to show you a picture of me with my “HUGE” pants and then smile next to them.  Because honestly, I hate those kinds of pictures, and I loved myself in the bigger pants too.  So there. 🙂





What? A Year, You Say?

Yes, it’s been a year since I decided the Roux en y Gastric Bypass was going to be my next rabbit trail.  Yeah, that picture is me, unfiltered with no makeup, wild-haired and gap-toothed, the real me, yo.   I’ve said often, about hard things in my life, that the time will pass, no matter what I do with it.  I might as well make use of the time, right?  Being stuck sucks. What I had done up until the August-2015-point-on-the-timeline-of-my-life hadn’t worked.  Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results is insane, so I had to do something different.  I did.

There was a lot of torment and fear of the unknown in those months of nutrition appointments and research about what the weight loss surgery would do to my body.  But I’ll tell ya, it was totally worth it. I’d do it all over again.  I had this strong sense that anything would be an easier recovery than back surgery.  I was right.  RYGB was a piece of cake (mmmmm, cake) recovery-wise compared to what I had endured during back surgery.  In fact, I didn’t take any pain killers post RYGB.  The hardest part for me was eating slowly and methodically for 3 months.  If you think about it, that’s a pretty small sacrifice to make for the amount of weight I’ve already lost.  It was like retraining my mouth muscles (muscle memory) to move slower.  I’m not perfect (and will never be), but I know when I eat too fast.  I avoid foods that get stuck easily (usually a bread/meat combination).  Overall, the transition has been so much better than I expected.

Here’s a link to my very first blog entry: August 2015 post. This is when the rabbit trail began.

If you’re stuck in a loop, change.  Do something different.  The time will pass, and it’s all about what you do with the time that changes everything.

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.


*This week is a shorter post because I’ve got a lot of anxiety about going back to work. Not just going back to work, but getting the kids ready to go back to school.  It’s a crazy busy time of year.  I’ll write more about anxiety next week.


the wilderness

This liquid diet has felt like the wilderness.  Feeling deprived has actually forced me to deal with my emotions rather than mask the feelings with food.  I’m a master food masker. (Say that 10 times fast.)

Introversion is a term I didn’t discover until college. Prior to those years, I always felt inferior.  I’d berate myself, “Why do I have to be so sensitive & quiet?  Why can’t I just let things go? Why do I obsess and replay situations or conversations that occurred?  Why do I hate social encounters with people I don’t know?  Why can’t I just be more like… <insert extroverted friend’s name here>).”  I am an INFP and an on-the-fencer INFJ according the Myers Briggs Personality Scale.  The I is for Introvert.

With a name like Joy, people expect you to be a joy…all the time.  (It’s like having the name Angel or Heaven or Precious. What happens when you don’t live up to your name? I’ve seen some Angels that aren’t very angelic.  Parents: don’t name your kids Angel, it’s just not nice.)  I am my most joyful when I’m alone.  Don’t get me wrong, I love all of you.  I love my family and friends, but I will start to feel immense hatred and turn into a beast with steam coming out of my ears if I don’t have time to myself, to think, to process, to contemplate, to rehearse the days’ events.  I don’t know if anyone else does this, but I actually go through almost everything that happened in the course of a day, before I go to sleep at night.  It’s a way I process my world.  It’s a blessing and a curse.  Anything unresolved usually shows up in my dreams.  (Why can’t I have Peter Pan flying dreams?  I still would rather have adventure dreams rather than an obsessively-boring-processing-dream in which I try to process someone’s facial expressions during a strange social interaction.  Yes, I’m a weirdo, but a lovely one.)

Bel Canto choir tour in 1993 was one of the moments in my history where I realized…I AM AN INTROVERT.  Two weeks, on a bus with over 100 other 20-something women college students (screeching laughter and hilarious jovial fun-for some), traveling to states across the country (still on said bus), eating with these 100 women (still with said jovial women), performing nightly concerts with them (more noise in close proximity with said jovial women) and then, post-concert arrival at host family’s residence (more obligatory social contact as not to be rude to the hosts and interaction with a few of said *jovial women).  Toward the end of the tour, I thought I might lose my mind.  I needed quiet. I needed time to decompress.  I felt terrible for feeling so moody. Now I realize that there was no time for me to be alone.  This is what I craved to recharge.

*(If you are reading this and are one of the said jovial women that was on this tour, I still love you.  But I love you more now that I’m not on a bus with you for two weeks.)

On Being an Introvert

“Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating. Shyness is inherently painful; introversion is not.”
Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

“Introversion- along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness- is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology. Introverts living in the Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man’s world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are. Extroversion is an enormously appealing personality style, but we’ve turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform.”
Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

“Unlike their Extraverted cousins though, INFPs will focus their attention on just a few people, a single worthy cause – spread too thinly, they’ll run out of energy, and even become dejected and overwhelmed by all the bad in the world that they can’t fix.” Source.

I have often felt totally overwhelmed by all the bad in the world that I can’t fix.  I just have to turn off the news and limit input.  It’s a way I can deal with what’s right in front of me rather than hearing about 100 million things I can’t control or fix.

“INFPs feel most comfortable among colleagues – they aren’t interested in controlling others, and have a similar distaste for being controlled. Among their colleagues, INFPs will feel freer to share their ideas, and while they may maintain some psychological distance, they will make every effort to be pleasant, friendly and supportive – so long as their coworkers reciprocate. INFPs don’t like conflict or picking sides, and will do everything they can to maintain harmony and cooperation.

Most of this comes down to good communication, which INFPs prefer to conduct in person, for that personal touch, or in writing, where they can compose and perfect their statements. People with the INFP personality type avoid using phones if they can, having the worst of both worlds, being both detached and uncomposed.”  Source.

“INFPs prefer to conduct in person, for that personal touch, or in writing, where they can compose and perfect their statements.”  Writing my thoughts is my lifeline (that’s why blogging has been so exciting for me).  I abhor business-type phone calls where I don’t know the person on the other end.  It makes me cringe just thinking about it.  I can’t read facial expressions in a phone call.

Watch this if you are or know someone who is an introvert:

“Solitude matters, and for some people, it’s the air they breathe”
Susan Cain

This is why I have continued to job-share even though my kids are in school. I need time to stay home and think, without interruption.  My mom used to always say, during my childhood, “I can’t hear myself think!” in exasperation.  I know exactly what this means now.  Exactly.  She is clearly an introvert too.  I’m a much better mother, spouse, colleague and friend, when I have time to enjoy solitude.  Confession:  So, if I decline your social invitation, I might say, “I have plans.”  I won’t always tell you what those ‘plans’ are, but sometimes, it’s a plan to stay home and enjoy solitude.  This is the air I breathe, and I believe it keeps my healthier and more sane.  Everyone wants Sane Joy, trust me on this.  

To paraphrase Susan Cain, without the experience in the wilderness, there would have been no revelation.  I’ve grown to appreciate the wilderness episodes in my life.  I am who I am because of my travels there.


In addition to the book, Quiet that was quoted extensively, these are two other books that are worthwhile reads for understanding yourself or the introverts in your life.

imgres.jpg imgres-1.jpg

Update on the Gastric Bypass healing process:
This past Monday, I attended another support group at Lewis Hall at Arcadia Methodist Hospital. Many of the topics included what to eat/ not to eat, emotions tied to gaining weight, plateauing in weight loss efforts, dumping and vomiting when eating foods that get stuck. Once again it was reiterated that chewing food to an apple sauce consistency post surgery is extremely important.  Wha?  Yes, applesauce consistency.  Try it.  It’s hard to chew a piece of chicken to applesauce consistency.  I tried before surgery. I haven’t had chicken yet post-surgery.
My follow up visit with Dr. Lamar at is office in Arcadia was yesterday.  He looked at my incisions, and said they looked, “Perfect.”  I’m a model post-surgery healer. (Virtual high five!) I think he might have given me a gold star if he’d had one in that moment.  Our visit took about 5 minutes, and I explained that I feel great and haven’t needed to take any of the prescribed Norco.  I told him that the pain has simply felt like I’d done whole bunch of sit ups and the residual pain of post workout.  My follow up appointment will be in 6 weeks.  He told me I’m making his job easier.
From my highest weight, I’m down 24 pounds at this point.  24 pounds in 4 weeks.  (Those are words I never thought I’d see in writing in reference to ME.)
phase 3
Phase 3:  Now I am eating Full Liquids, which include, cream of wheat or rice, pudding, yogurt, cream of chicken soup.  Still boring, but a little more variety. Emphasis on little.


Until next Friday… Love you loves.

The Hospital Stay

Five stab wounds later, my stomach is now the size of an egg.  That’s a horrible way to describe it, Joy.  Well, that’s what my upper belly looks like.  Each incision is about the size of the width of a pink eraser (shout out to my teacher friends).  

I was hoping to just stay over night on March 23, but I ended up staying one night longer, until Friday, March 25.

I wasn’t able to keep the liquids down.  When I was given watered down apple juice on the 23rd, I couldn’t tolerate it, and proceeded to throw it up.   I ‘ate’ ice and water for 48 hours.  I am 5 pounds less. That’s it?  Yes, I thought it would be more too.

Food smells so good.  I just want to eat. Even though I don’t feel hungry, I’m dealing with the thoughts of food, the textures of food, the joy of it.  I’m just gonna say it, in case it wasn’t obvious enough, I love to eat.  Cheetos, nachos, french fries, any kind of junk food, I’ll eat it.  I also love to cook and I’m pretty darn good at it.  Soups, hash, paninis, pastas, any recipe on, give it to me, I’ll try it.  I’m no chef, but I can make food people will eat, and those peoples happen to be my husband, boy, middle, little and our neighbor who is always here.  I cook for a family of 6, and I love it (most nights).  Food is sustenance.  It’s gotten a bad wrap.  Food isn’t bad.  It’s how we eat it and use it to mask other things that creates unhealthy events and strain in our lives.

I’m not going to stop eating.  I’m just relearning HOW to eat.  I’ll tell ya, after 2 days of ice, I’m looking forward to protein shakes and jello (not so affectionately called HELL-o in my housephase 2.jpg now).  So now I must drink 4 oz. of liquid every hour I’m awake, so I made it more fun using these 1 oz jello shot cups.  (I can pretend.)  I’ll be in Phase 2 for two weeks.  See details on the left.

shot glasses of water.jpg






The nurses and assistants were so good to me at Huntington Memorial Hospital and Dr. Lamar and his team of assistants were thorough and kind.  I told Dr. Lamar, “Thanks for not letting me die.”  That was my biggest and most vulnerable feeling going into surgery,
Dying.  I think God must want me to stick around a little longer.  Hopefully a lot longer.






Gastric Bypass Today

I can’t sleep.

I wanted to keep sleeping because I can’t drink or eat anything for the next 12 hours.

When I started this awful No-Chew-Diet-From-Hell, I didn’t think I could do it.  All I’ve had to ‘eat’ for 13 days is: protein drinks (Pure Protein and Isopure*), chicken broth, herbal tea, Bai drinks, Vitamin Water, sugar free popsicles, & sugar free jello.

I don’t recommend it.  If I were to start eating normally tomorrow, I’m fairly certain I’d gain it all back in 13 days or less.

I’ve lost 16 pounds in 13 days, from 250 pounds to 234. Some might say, if you could lose that much that fast, why do you need to have surgery?!  Because I still have diabetes and I know that this isn’t a sustainable pattern of eating that I can maintain. (No shit, Sherlock.)

You know you all wanted to know how much I weigh…  I hesitated, because there are some things that are meant to be private.  Guaranteed, you’ll see no staged pictures of my BEFORE look. I like myself now, so I’m not going to be the token poster mama and show you my ‘fat pants’ and then show you my ‘skinny pants’.  I am much more than my pant’s size. Can I get an Amen!?

I’m off to surgery in less than 10 hours.  Surgery is at 2:30.

I’ll leave you with a song from a man who’s struggled with his own demons. He also has amazing eyebrows. This song is apropos.

I think I need forgiveness
I think I need more than the rest
I think I need just not to know
I think I need a hospital

I think I need not to go there
I think I need a heart to share
I think I need just not to know
I think I need a hospital

I think I need to love you more
I think I need to lock the door
I think I need to pay the toll
I think I need a hospital

I think I need to write this song
I think I need to sing along
I think I need to quit this job
I think I need a bank to rob
I think I need another show
I think I need some place to go
I think I need to let you know
I think I need a hospital

Countdown Day 7

My feet feel skinnier.  Yeah, you heard it, feet.  You’re jealous, huh?  

In the morning I went to my surgeon’s office and met with the surgical coordinator, Mary Ann.  She made sure that all of the pre op procedures had been faxed to her: mammogram-check, ekg-check, abdominal ultrasound-check, blood work-check, chest x-ray-check, endoscopy-check. You’re really jealous now, huh? Prescriptions for Actigall, Norco, and Prevacid were prescribed for me to take post surgery.  Actigall is so that my chances of developing gall stones are reduced to 5%, Norco for pain management (which I hope as all get out that I don’t have much of), and Prevacid for stomach acid reduction which will help with my ulcers.

Disappointed that the gastroenterologist, Dr. Sidhom, (Yes, doc, you’re being thrown under the bus, feel that?) didn’t test me for the H. Pylori bacteria during the endoscopy, Maryann gave me orders to go to LabCorp and have a breath test done.  So far I’ve only been taking Protonix for the ulcers, but if it turns out that I test positive for the H. Pylori bacteria, I need to begin 1 of several rounds of antibiotics to get rid of it.  She did not think this would hamper my surgery date, whether I test positive or not.

The upside, and only upside, of this diet: 10 pounds of weight loss in 7 days.  It’s been so hard and I have a miserable headache today.

Mid-afternoon, I scarfed 3 Werther’s sugar free caramel cappuccino hard candies like a wild animal.  I just want coffee!  Just a little coffee flavor helped a little.  Just a little.  In an attempt to describe how hard this is, every time I smell food I want some, just one bite, please.  Oh, that salad looks SO good.  Oh, greek yogurt, looks so tasty.  Oh, that hummus looks so inviting.  Rice cakes even look amazing right now.  All those mouthwatering recipes on Facebook, you’re killin’ me!  Today when I walked outside, I thought I smelled corn chips.  Weird.  This is why I don’t diet.  It’s just ALL consuming for me.

In the late afternoon, my last appointment was a pre-op appointment at Huntington Memorial Hospital. I’ll be there again for a pretty awesome sleepover.  Now you’re really really jealous, right? Wanna come?

As Day 8 comes to an end, I’ll leave you with a couple of interesting Ted Talks weight loss and dieting. Peace y’all goodnight.  I’m gonna breathe out some of my weight while I’m sleeping.  You’ll understand if you listen to the Ruben Meerman Ted Talk.

He answers these fundamental questions: “When somebody loses weight where does it go? How does it get out of your body?”

Sandra Aamodt is a neuroscientist. “Your brain has it’s own sense of what you should weigh no matter what you consciously believe.” About 7 minutes through the end of the talk is totally worth a listen.  Her conclusion based on her research experience, “What if we told all those dieting girls to eat when their hungry? What if we taught them to work with their appetite instead of fearing it? I think most of them would be happier and healthier and as adults many of them would probably be thinner.”


Cold Turkey Countdown Day 13

Cold-Turkey-No-Chew-Diet-from-Hell, is what this pre-op diet should be called.  I like to chew my food more than I thought. There was very little chewing allowed, except for the popsicles.  I gave up starving myself long ago. Today totally felt like I was going back in time to my high school and college days of self deprivation.   Living with plenty is my way preferred way of living.  Some might say eating in plenty is gluttonous, and yes, sometimes it is.  However, the days of poring over a journal of calories and such is just…exhausting and drains the life right out of me.  Gastric bypass is the only way, for me.  I must have a near immediate consequence for eating this way.  Anticipating an outcome is all that is motivating me at this point.  Knowing there is an end in sight is all that challenges me to continue this cold turkey way of eating.

Today’s menu, if it can be called that: 2 commercial protein shakes (I use Pure Protein), Vitamin Water, Bai Cocofusion water, 2-8oz cups of chicken broth, 8oz cup of decaf tea, 2 sugar free popsicles, and sugar free jello.  Ugh.  So boring.  You may have noticed there are no real proteins, fruits, or vegetables allowed on Dr. Lamar’s pre-op diet.  I’ll be eating the same way 2 weeks post surgery.  The ONLY reason I’m sticking it out today is, as I’ve read, if you don’t follow this diet, surgery may be cancelled if your liver hasn’t shrunk to an appropriate size.  The liver must decrease in size prior to surgery to allow the surgeon to lift the liver and reach the stomach effectively.  This video is by another bariatric surgeon that explains why the liver must decrease in size.

Feelings check:  I have a terrible headache this evening.  No sugar and no caffeine have made today most unbearable.  I’ve been in and out of the house taking my kids to various activities and running errands. I’m marathon watching episodes of Downton Abbey and avoiding the kitchen.  If I knew I had to be this hungry indefinitely to lose weight and ultimately cure diabetes, I’d give up. I’d much rather be heavy and happy.  My heaven will be eating whatever I want, not gaining weight, and having no consequences as a result of what we eat.  I’m laying it bare here.  Did I say how much I hate diets?  12 days left until my surgery. 12 more days until the BIG DAY. Ba-dum-dum.

O*!sity- A Label

I love label makers. I love to categorize things and put them in the same drawer, take a collection of books and put them all on the same shelf, sort office supplies and place them in compartments in my desk.  I love searching the categorized aisles at the store find just the right product. We humans naturally label things. We naturally make patterns and put things in categories. We do the same thing with people. This label, obesity, is my most unfavorite label.

Feelings check: **Sigh** Every time I see the word, obesity, it makes me feel very sad. And I don’t just have morbid obesity, I have, wait for it—morbid (severe) obesity. I know it’s a label. I know it’s a medical term based on specific data, however, the word, obesity, carries a stigma. Unlike with other stigmas, mental illness, learning disabilities, being born into poverty; obesity, morbid obesity, morbid (severe) obesity all carry this unwritten inner dialogue, the unwritten inner dialogue is, “You made yourself obese. You could have prevented it. What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you control your eating? Why don’t you exercise more? You’re nothing. You’re fat. If only you were more disciplined.”  Sure, I can choose to not identify or agree with this inner dialogue, however I wear my label.  I can’t hide it. It’s there, in the rolls of belly fat.

It seems odd, but if I’m honest, one of the things I’m afraid of after my surgery, is being thin. Believe it or not, I remember days in my late teens and 20s when I was thin, and received compliments on my appearance and whistles as I walked down the street.  That objectifying, is the part of being thin that I’d like to avoid. I’ve grown to accept my ‘heavy mom’ identity. I’ve grown to love who I am in spite of how I look.  Embracing myself at any weight helps me to embrace others.  I don’t want to simply be loved for what I look like. These are qualities I treasure. These are qualities I cherish in other people. In a way being heavy, has made it so I have to love and reach out— in spite of labels.

So why not just stay obese?  Well, there are the complex effects of long-term obesity and comorbidities and specifically the effects of diabetes, that convince me to go ahead with Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB). There are many articles on the subject of Long-Term Mortality after Gastric Bypass Surgery at New England Journal of Medicine.  Diet, exercise, and medical therapy have not been shown to be effective in treating severe obesity in the long term” -see more at Long-Term Impact of Bariatric Surgery on Body Weight, Comorbidities, and Nutritional Status.

In my January nutrition meeting, the most impacting take-away was that I need to chew my food to applesauce consistency. What?  Have you tried this?  Whether you realize it or not, chewing and swallowing is pretty much involuntary.  We don’t think, “Oh, chew 1, 2, 3, 4…25…30, yup, applesauce consistency, swallow.”  No, we don’t think. We’ve learned from a young age, just how much we have to chew our food in order to not choke.  That’s it.  Simple. Chew. Swallow. Repeat.  There’s not a lot of mindfulness involved in that.  However, I’m supposed to change over 40 years of eating habits.  Here are the three steps of mindful eating: 1) tuning in to the physical characteristics of food (Oh, this salad is really crunchy. Mmmm.) 2) tuning into the repetitive habits and processes of eating (Sit at the table instead of standing or sitting in front of the TV.)  3) tuning into mindless eating triggers. (Even though you’re starving, Joy, wait until you get home instead of eating in the car.)  I definitely eat mindlessly.  Can I get a “Hells yeah!” from the moms in the audience? If we’re honest, most of us eat mindlessly. We are surviving this thing called Life…come on.  Can I get an “Amen?”

So back to label-making.  I’m going to think of it as what it is, a label.  I can rip off that label and make a new one, right?