Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Where oh where have the hamster treats gone?

I was eating lunch with a couple of co-workers (one male and one female) on Monday.  My male co-worker shares a story about when he was a boy and he drank an entire bottle of children's cough syrup because he liked the taste.  Then my female co-worker says that she used to eat the children's aspirin (who didn't?), as well as the chocolate dog vitamins (ironic since chocolate is poisonous to dogs).  Which made me remember that I used to eat my hamsters chocolate drop treats.  

Maybe you remember them?  They looked like this...
And I looked like this after stuffing them in my mouth, waiting for them to melt.  Did you know that hamster chocolate does not melt very easily?
So my mother would buy the treats for the hamster weekly, and really, there were enough treats to last the hamster months if you gave him one a day as per the suggested serving size.  Anyway, my mother is buying treats every week for the hamster and keeps cautioning that I should stop feeding Hammy so many treats, lest he get fat.  The truth is, I was the only one getting fat since Hammy ate none of those chocolate treats, and likely never tasted one in his short life.  If my mother took the time to smell his hamster breath, she would have only smelled alfalfa.  And I 'm not talking about Spanky's friend.

Hammy was with us for two years and it wasn't until the end of his life that my mother caught me stuffing Hammy's treats into my mouth.  I can still remember her shrill exclamation of "Leigh-Anna!  I can't believe you ate all the rodent treats!  What is the matter with you?"  Well mother, I am addicted to anything with sugar and carbohydrate...Incidentally, Hammy also had these wicked alfalfa wafers that were equally yummy and pure carb.

So now you know my secret shame of how I coveted my hamster's treats.  I try to think of it as a life saving tactic for Hammy.  Since his life expectancy was only around two years, I thought it was my duty as his pet owner to steer him away from anything that would make his life shorter, like carbs and sugars.  Since Hammy never had any of the chocolate drops, it's not like he knew what he was missing.  And I figured it couldn't be so bad for me because hamsters are so small, so how many extra calories could I possibly be consuming.  What I should have gotten from Hammy was his hamster wheel so I could have gotten in the cardio I needed after chowing down on his grub.

I was about 10 during this particular incident and this behaviour of not being able to walk away from something I wanted to eat has remained with me my entire life.  I can do it now...but I'm not convinced that I'll be able to walk away from tempting food that is bad for me for the rest of my life.  It may not bother me now, but what about next week, next month or next year?  I'm not naive enough to think that I have this issue licked.

Just today I was eating at Swiss Chalet with a client.  I ate a half chicken with salad and watched as she ate a half chicken with poutine fries.  That didn't bother me in the least, but I did feel a moment of longing as I watched her eat an entire slab of double layer carrot cake.  It lasted just a moment but made me realize that even though I tell every one that what they eat around me has no effect on me, maybe I need to admit that it does...a little.  I'm only human after all and I love food!  Just like many humans, and hamsters alike.

The real test will be during the holidays.  I have a couple of holiday parties to attend and of course the Polish Christmas eve (my family) and the Italian Christmas day (husband's family).  It's been three months since I've started my life style change and I can't screw up now!  I know I can do this and if I feel the need to indulge in something really risque, my dog Finn has some yummy looking Jerky treats.  Pure protein, but I'll have to drink a lot of water afterwards, they're high in sodium:)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

She always had a pretty face

Okay, maybe not always.  I'll be the first to admit that I had a less than stellar appearance as a middle school/high school student.  I was awkward, awkward, awkward.  I had a really bad perm in middle school and wore huge tortoise shell glasses.  If I had to liken myself to someone, it would be Julia Sweeney's portrayal of Pat from SNL.  I found this photo on the internet that looks eerily like me when I was about 12.
Kids are cruel and I hated school.  I was always the token fat girl and covered up my insecurities by adopting a sarcastic and sometimes abrasive demeanor.  This was my armour and security blanket when I was out in the big bad world.  People treat you differently when you are overweight.  I was the butt of many jokes and even the adults around me had something smart to say about my appearance.  For some unfathomable reason, it is generally believed that if you berate an obese person in public and make them feel shame about their appearance that this will in fact encourage them to lose weight.  Wrong!  When I was made fun of by the people in my life, I felt even worse about my appearance and would go on an emotional eating bender.  This behaviour lasted throughout my teen years and well into adulthood.

I was told so many times that I had a pretty face and should really do something about my weight.  It makes you feel almost sub-human.  Like you will never be good enough because your weight will always be the one thing holding you back.  For those that struggle with their weight, it's not about getting the will power or the strength to gain a healthier lifestyle.  It's about being accepted and respected for who you are despite your size.  Some people may never be able to control their eating habits and may not be able to see past one day at a time.  Some people may be happy at the weight they are, even if society deems them to be "unhealthy".  Some of us are blessed with great metabolisms and lucked out in the gene pool.  That wasn't me.

I accepted a long time ago that I was likely going to be heavy my whole life.  Regardless of how I was treated in school and throughout my life due to my weight, I was no longer going to let anyone's words dictate my actions.  Therefore, I stopped letting name calling or rude comments get to me.  Any binge eating I did after this realization was done purely out of habit and enjoyment.  I'd be lying if I pretended that I didn't like the times I pigged out on something particularly yummy.  Ironically enough, I always binged on some sort of carbohydrate and would feel sick afterwards.  I definitely didn't like that feeling.

When my husband fell in love with me and wanted to marry me, I was shocked.  He was a pretty boy in high school (we attended the same one) and had MANY female admirers.  We didn't get together in high school.  We got together 12 years later when we became reacquainted and started dating as much older and wiser adults.  He thinks I am beautiful as I am now.  He has always supported me and never told me or even suggested to me that I should lose weight.  He does worry about my health though. I can certainly respect that because if something happened to me, he would be a single parent and that's not fair.  To him, or my son.

My health is something I do have control over and I truly do want to be the healthiest person I can be.  Thirty-six pounds of weight-loss is significant.  It's a flash in the pan for all the weight I have to lose, but it's a good start.  It took me a lot of time to gain as much weight as I did and I can certainly take the time required to lose it.  The experts say that a steady weight-loss and lifestyle change is the best way to maintain a healthier lifestyle.  I'm certainly not going anywhere and have all the time in the world.  Oh, and the next time you see a pretty woman or a handsome man who is also overweight, appreciate them for what they are.  A beautiful person:)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Dr. Poon's diet for cats?

Five pounds of fat GONE.  Just like that.  I saw Dr. Stephen for my weigh-in this afternoon, and am happy to report that my weight keeps going down, down, down.  My weight-loss isn't as quick as some people who are on the same diet, but I'm okay with that.  I think an average of 10 pounds of weight-loss per month is still really good, and I don't think I should be losing more than that in a month.  So this now brings my total pounds lost to 36.

I'm looking at my very fat cat (Smitty) and wondering why, if she is on a high protein, low carb diet like myself, she isn't thin.  Then I take the time to read the label of her kitty kibble and discover that the first ingredient is chicken and the next three ingredients are ground yellow corn, wheat flour and ground wheat.  So actually, Smitty's cat food is very high carb and would not be Dr. Poon approved.  Poor Smitten, she has no chance of losing weight now. She in fact has several barriers to losing weight.

  1. Smitty has no access to a supportive weight-loss community (ie: Weight Watchers geared towards cats).
  2. Smitty is advanced in years and at 9 years old, is considered a senior cat. It's always harder for the elderly to lose weight due to lack of mobility.
  3. Smitty has no other food options other than her kibble and the occasional treat.  She's a very finicky eater and refuses to deviate from her regular eating routine.
  4. Smitty has the added pressure of the younger cat "Baby" in the house.  Baby can eat whatever she wants and stay as slim as a supermodel.  The constant pressure Smitty feels in Baby's  shadow, causes her to binge eat when she's feeling depressed.  If Smitty had her way, she would put Baby in the corner. Permanently!
  5. Smitty's biggest barrier to losing weight is that she's an emotional eater and she's also a VERY nervous cat.  Everything, and I mean everything makes her anxious, scared, angry, sad, happy, mean, mean, mean.
Well, regardless of Smitty's weight, her meanness, and her peculiarities, we still love her.  But we don't love her enough to fork out more money for a higher quality cat food.  Let's face it. All she does is eat and sleep.  She barely even catches mice anymore because the mice are way faster than her and, quite frankly, can be quite cruel in the way they tease her.  So poor Smitty will have to remain our "Fatty Arbuckle" until she has passed onto kitty Heaven.  Just to give you an idea what I'm talking about, here's a photo of Smitty and a neighbourhood slug.  Measures have been taken to protect their identities.  The slug is pretty fat and could stand to lose a few grams as well.

Alright, so back to me.  This week has been an interesting one, food wise.  For some unfathomable reason, I felt an unnatural urge to make banana bread, knowing I could not eat any.  I left a loaf for my husband and brother-in-law to eat, and gave another loaf to my co-worker.  Now this reeks a little of sadomasochism again.  I'm not sure why I did it, but even worse, enjoyed doing it.

At work we had a cultural potluck lunch.  One would think that someone who is making a strict lifestyle change should stay away from such events.  Not only did I attend for a bit, but I even contributed a dish I could not eat.  Perogy Casserole http://www.kraftcanada.com/en/recipes/easy-pierogi-casserole-126267.aspx . Be warned, it is extremely delicious, and very bad for you.  It was a hit and I had to leave the event to go and buy a Poon approved lunch of grilled chicken and vegetables.  It was yummy too though.

As I sat around with my co-workers and watched them eat all the foods I previously loved like pastas, curry chicken with roti, patties, samosa's, butter chicken etc., I thought about a time in my life where it really would have bothered me to be around so much food that I shouldn't eat and not be tempted.  Funny thing is, I wasn't bothered in the least.  I just kept my goal in mind and thought about the reasons why I'm doing this.  First and foremost, for my son.

Those of you that are parents know what is is to love your children more than you love yourself.  We all say we would die for our kids and although that may be true, I want to live for my son.  I want to be around to see everything that happens in his life.  I want to see him graduate from high school, graduate from university, fall in love, get married and hopefully one day give me grand kids.  Not only do I want to be a fit mom, but I want to be a happening grandma too.  I know enough about obesity now to know that if I continued to live the way I was, I could die at a young age of a heart attack, stroke, or worse.  The odds are stacked against me and I am determined to not be another statistic.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Surgery? Not the weigh to go

December 12th is a date swimming in my mind.  That is my appointment date for my orientation for gastric bypass surgery at St. Joseph's Hospital in Hamilton.  The quagmire (which ironically means dilemma as well as anything soft or flabby) I'm having is...should I go or not?  Before I came across the poondiet.com this was the only option I believed I had.   I've already done all the weight-loss drugs (all of them except for Xenical are off the market now), weight watchers (good program, but I always fall of the wagon too quickly), and don't even get me started on Dr. Bernstein!

I actually went in for a consultation for gastric bypass just after my son was born (4 years ago), and got approved for the surgery.  But then the doctor (Dr. Joffe) lost his license due to sexual abuse against four of his patients.  Made sense to me in hindsight why during our consultation his nurse (who looked like a WW II general) sat silent in the room with us.  I wasn't sure of her purpose at the time, but now realize that he was being investigated for the sex scandal.  Long story short, when my time to receive the surgery came, Dr. Joffe had fled the country and was practicing bariatric surgery in Mexico.  I lost my place in line.

This is a sign right?  I absolutely should not go.  I remember Dr. Joffe insisting that gastric bypass was the only solution that would cure me of my obesity.  My conscience tells me not to listen to him,  he's a sex offender for pete's sake!  Now that I have learned so much about carbs and sugar and how it affects my body, I feel like I have another option.  I can stick to my current diet, lose weight in a much healthier way with none of the risks that surgery brings, and have the bragging rights that I did it myself.  Not that I'm putting down bariatric surgery.  I'm sure it is right for some people.  I thought it was going to be my answer.

The last nine weeks has not only brought me 30+ pounds of weight-loss, but it also allowed me to reflect on my struggles throughout my lifetime with my health and weight.  I now know that I have to do this on my own (with Dr. Stephen's help) in order to feel like I did this right.  Anyone who has had to lose 5, 10 or 100+ pounds knows what an emotionally frustrating, astronomical human feat losing weight is.  I feel like I must endure the pain, disappointment, crying, pity and yes, even envy (of all those thin), to get the full experience of my weight-loss journey.  I have been through this all before (many, many times) and perhaps I am a bit of a sadomasochist (without the sexual gratification).  But you get my drift, I'm tired of trying to look for the easy solution.

People who aren't overweight think it's as simple as cutting down on food and exercising, but for those of us who struggle with this everyday, it's not that cut and dry.  There's a whole emotional element that goes hand in hand with weight gain, body image etc.  If it was as easy as decreasing food intake and taking a mambo class, the entire world would be in shape.  Bottom line is that there is no quick fix.  I'm going to have to blubber my way through another weight-loss episode.  Only difference is that this time, it's gonna stick.  Oh, and I have also decided that I won't be going to the gastric bypass appointment on the 12th.  By that time, my BMI (body mass index) shouldn't even qualify me anymore:)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Caught with his hand in the Nutella jar

I had my 6th weigh-in this past Friday.  I lost another 6.5 pounds of fat.  I'm in a very awkward size stage right now.  All my clothes are too big for me, and except for my smaller sized yoga pants, none of the next size down fit me as yet.  Almost though...I can put them on, but not do them up.  Even though it seems depressing, it's rather exciting.  I know that in a couple of weeks I will be able to do them up.

Did I mention how much I love Value Village.  I bought three pairs of Gap Jeans, that barely look warn, for under $30 with tax.  That is excellent value, and I will definitely keep shopping at Value Village.  My husband thinks that I'm crazy, but I told him not to knock it until he checks it out.  He's a visual shopper and needs rows of the same clothing on display so all he needs to do is look for his size.  I like going through the racks and finding unique things.  My brother-in-law has always raved about great designer deals he finds at Value Village and he's a pretty snappy dresser.  I think I will borrow a style page from him:)

So with last week's six pound loss I've lost just over 30 pounds.  Don't ask me how much is fat and how much is water.  The whole fat/water thing is so confusing to me.  Dr. Stephen does "the math" with me every weigh-in and I stare at him with a glazed, deer in headlights expression.  This is why I am in social services, so I wouldn't have to do math!  The bottom line is, I don't really care, just so long as the number on the scale keeps going down.

It was pleasant to go to a family gathering this weekend and have MANY people approach me and tell me how good I looked.  My father-in-law was such a sweetheart.  He kept giving me the thumbs-up and making the "OK" sign.  I barely walked in the door when he walked up to me and whispered "how mucha you loose?".  He's the cutest Italian gentleman and it meant a lot for me to see the pride in his face.  That right there was a good motivator.

I'm in my 9th week of the diet (which I will refer to as my lifestyle change from now on). The food I eat still does not bother me in the least.  I belong to a Facebook page about Dr. Poon's diet which is managed by his son.  Many people talk about struggling with the diet and falling off the wagon and having to start again.  I can certainly sympathize with their struggle, but one thing that really stands out for me is that I will be in the same predicament if I can't keep carbs and sugar out of my life.  That is my main focus and I can honestly say that I still do not miss or crave them.  Even when I reach my goal weight, I will continue to eat VERY limited sugar and carbohydrates. Many of the Poon dieters talk about boredom with the foods, but I eat the same things every day.  I eat to stop my hunger, then I want to move on.  For the first time in my life I'm actually thinking of food as a life source and not the source of my entertainment and enjoyment.

I'm pretty much done with this entry, but must add this as a side note.  I just got up to stretch and caught my husband sneakily getting Nutella out of a cupboard we would not keep Nutella in...because he secretly bought it!  When I confronted him he erupted into fits of laughter (as did I) because he knows I'll give him shit.  Funniest thing is, that he'll argue till death that Nutella is nutritionally sound because there are "no preservatives, no artificial colours and it's a source of vitamin E".  I know better ;)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

He ain't heavy, he's my husband

So there have been quite a few things for me to reflect on this past week.  Halloween was a lot of fun for Julien, and even though he got tons of candy, he did what he does every year and handed it out to the kids who came to our door after we ran out.  One way that I really lucked out is that my kid does not like sweets.  Give him a bag of chips though and he's enthralled.  This is probably the first Halloween that I can remember where I did not eat one sweet, or indulge in anything save, my sugar-free chocolate snacks (which I am allowed).  I know you're probably thinking sugar-free chocolate is gross, but don't knock it till you try it.  I can't really tell the difference.  Russell Stover and Hershey both make excellent sugar-free chocolate.

The 2nd of November was also my 9th wedding anniversary.  I can't believe my husband and I have been married 9 years already.  When we got married, my mom was pretty sick and close to the end of her life.  She died less than a year later.  I thought it was great that we decided to get married on All Souls Day.  We even needed special permission from the Vatican to marry that day.  It was cheaper than many other Saturdays because of it being All Souls Day, and most Catholics do not want to marry on that day.  And in retrospect I like my anniversary being on that date because not only do I reflect on my marriage, but I also reflect on my mother's life.

Something that excited me a lot was that I needed to buy smaller clothes.  I considered just buying new, but really thought it might hurt me financially in the long run because I don't plan on wearing the next size down for very long.  So I went off to Value Village and bought 4 pairs of pants.  I have never shopped there before and was actually pleasantly surprised by the whole experience.  I spent $27 with tax on pants that would have easily cost me over a hundred retail.  I wore my first pair this past weekend and they are actually comfortable on me.  I haven't worn this size of clothing since probably 2001.  Ten years ago.   That sort of pisses me off because I could have prevented my weight from getting so high in the first place if I just had the knowledge then that I do now.  Oh well, I can't beat myself up over what could have been and can only move forward from here.

My first semi-cheat happened this weekend.  My hubby and I went out for our anniversary and we went to an all-you-can-eat Japanese restaurant.  There were many things on the menu I could eat and I did order them, but my husband ordered too much sushi and in an attempt to not get charged for items we didn't eat, I ate a really big hand-rolled California roll.  I also ate a few pieces of Sashimi (raw fish) and had the worst stomach upset when I got home.  The Sashimi was allowed, but the California roll, not so much.  Being sick afterwards has taught that it's really not worth it to cheat.  We were home by 6:30 pm last night and it's 2:30pm as I write this and I still haven't really eaten today.  My stomach is still not 100%.  I will likely not eat Japanese again, and really wish we had just went to the Keg.

This coming Friday will be my 8th week on this program.  Time is just motoring along and I still feel really strong and positive about my choice to change my lifestyle.  My husband, though being supportive, said something to me that really made me think about how this is affecting him.  He saw me in my smaller sized pants and said (though jokingly) "you're going to get all thin and leave me for another man".  I'm not sure how that made me feel.  First off, I had no idea he was feeling even remotely threatened by my weight-loss.  Secondly, he did know the much thinner me.  I weighed a lot less when we got together and I gained a lot of weight in a short time span of two years.  He still married me even though I was significantly heavier then I was when we first started dating.  He never made my weight a condition to love me and I would never make it a reason to leave him.  We took each other in sickness and in health and my sickness has been my weight.  I'm tired of sickness and am more than ready to move onto a more healthier me.