No class for me this week as I am in Kansas City attending the General Assembly (GA) of the Unitarian Universalist Association. I am sorry to have missed class but the content of the denominational meetings are giving me hope in a world with so much pain and despair. We are an activist faith and we are trying to deal and provide remedies to the white supremacy culture both in the wider world and within our faith. It has also been wonderful seeing old friends.
I am staying on plan despite the awkwardness and complications of flying. It is hard to drink enough water, but I am trying. I am also skipping the afternoon workshops in order to check out the hotel pool and get some exercise in. I hate to miss anything, but after years of attending GA, I have attended versions of most of the workshops before. It is the plenaries, the business meetings, the voting and exercise of our democratic principles that most engage me these days. And I really do need to exercise.
I have refused lunch and dinner invitations because I don’t need that challenge, but last night I did sit in the hotel bar drinking a sparkling water with lime as my friends had gin and tonics while we talked. Life is good. The very fact of life is good.
(No stats this week)
We are officially half way through the total meal replacement phase. Then we will gradually began eating real food again, but making better choices and consuming much smaller portions than previously. I am at 300.3 pounds as of last night. Only 100+ pounds to go to get down to a weight where knee surgery will be a viable option. Somehow, that doesn’t seem nearly as daunting as it did a few months ago. It is still a big number, but I am making progress and remain determined to do this. It has been difficult to get this far, and I can’t let the efforts I have already made be in vain. Si se puente!
Class was much better last night, we asked and the substitute facilitator agreed to let us do check-ins before the content part of the class. It is so helpful to hear from everyone and to give and receive support. We are also very happy that our regular facilitator will be back in a couple of weeks.
Challenges for me this week included attending a retirement party with lots of food. It was outside, so I could put my camp chair away from the table, but it was still a challenge. Watching others eat a regular meal isn’t as hard as watching folks snack.
Then there is physical pain. I got an x-ray on my shoulder this week and have severe arthritis there as well. Swimming is harder, although the hot tub helps. Good food has always been comforting to me. Eating more yummy food than I need has been a useful distraction when I have been in pain, physical or emotional, at least in the short term. Now I will need to rely on cortisone shots and physical therapy, and ice. (But oh, not the ICE that is causing so much pain to our immigrant neighbors. We need to melt that one down and wash it away.)
We leave for General Assembly (Unitarian Universalism’s annual denomination-wide meeting) in a few more days. Other than getting all the meal replacements into my suitcase, it shouldn’t be that hard. Finding time for actual meals during GA’s jam-packed days is always difficult. I think it will be much simpler to just mix up and drink a shake every 2-3 hours. Unlike in the past, however, I won’t be able to hang out in the hotel bar with a martini, chatting with the good friends that I only see once a year. I still hope to spend some time with those friends.
Doing hard things
Is always hard
I have done many other
Hard things in my life
Never making the easy choices
When it came to love
I can do
This hard thing too.
(My stats for last week – down 2.4 pounds, drank 7 gallons of water and exercised for a total of 250 minutes. My total weight loss so far is 24.2 pounds.)
This week we had quite a bit of discussion about which week of the program it actually is. The facilitator thought it was week 8 and she is correct in that it was our 8th meeting. We are, however, just beginning our 7th week of full meal replacements. We go 15th weeks without any real food and then gradually reduce the meal replacements as we, um, “replace” them with real food. We are almost half-way through this first phase and the entire program is 18 months long.
This week was a little disappointing as I only lost a half of a pound. Some folks even gain some during this phase, so I shouldn’t have been surprised. Bodies adjust differently to change,
I find that I am increasingly aware of my body, how I feel in it, where it hurts and where it feels good. My knee is better after the cortisone shot, but my left shoulder is now very painful. Had an X-ray today and see the doc on Monday. I’d never write about this physical stuff normally; there are always aches and pains and they increase with age. The reason I am doing this is to feel better, however, so when I feel worse, it frankly pisses me off. This is hard work. I want rewards that I can feel in my bones.
We talked about rewarding ourselves during class, and no, going out to dinner is not an option. I bought a few extra bottle shakers this week. The powered “shakes” are very sticky and the shakers get sort of yucky after repeated use and are almost impossible to get really clean. The dishwasher just bakes the crud on. I got a two pack of these for $5 on sale at Tuesday Morning. I like them quite a lot, they have an air hole that makes it easier to drink, but I hate the writing on them.
I would cover the writing with stickers, but that would make them even harder to wash.
The class is just barely tolerating our substitute facilitator. We were grumpy about her not having the forms we need. We played with our phones and had side conversations during class. Behaving badly can be a little empowering at times.
Don’t tell me I will be beautiful
When I am thin
I already am beautiful.
Don’t tell me there are other ways
That would be easier
This is what I am doing.
Cheer me on.
Tell me I am brave
Be proud of me.
I hope I would do
You needed to do.
(My stats for last week – down .5 pounds, drank 7 gallons of water and exercised for a total of 390 minutes. My total weight loss so far is 22 pounds.)
We had a substitute facilitator this week – and we will have her for the next 3 weeks before our regular one comes back. It was a little disorienting. The substitute was fine, and is likely awesome, but the group, including me, acted out a bit. We have bonded, and our regular facilitator is part of that bond. She knows us. We know her. It felt a little like it did back (way back!) in high school when we had a substitute teacher. This program, with its rigid rules about the meal replacements, doesn’t encourage much flexibility. Any change is hard when we are trying to make such a big change in our lives.
We also talked about support systems and not so supportive folks, of who to tell we are doing this and who not to tell because they might be judgmental about our choice. I have been extremely public about being in the program. It doesn’t get much more public than posting about it on a blog and then sharing that blog on Facebook. I have received only positive support, which has been very helpful. My family and close friends have been particularly wonderful.
I gave up shame years ago, and believe that sharing this process may be helpful to others. The one concern I have is that the friends that I have bonded with over the years around being fat might feel abandoned by me and might be afraid that I will start judging them. It is hard to live in this world as a “person of size.” We have shared tears, anger, and laughter over our common experiences. They loved all of me and I loved all of them. That won’t change, for me anyway. I know the pain too well to judge anyone for their size. We are all beautiful and worthy of love just the way we are. I would not be doing this if I did not know that my health and my life are at risk. I will do this and I will succeed, but it is a hard choice and not one I would recommend to anyone unless they have similarly powerful motivations.
(My stats for last week – down 4.2 pounds, drank 7 gallons of water and exercised for a total of 370 minutes. My total weight loss so far is 21.5 pounds.)
Am I shrinking
Or am I growing?
Both I think.
Outside I am changing
Slowly but surely
Reclaiming a shape
That will serve me better.
At least that’s the plan
The lavish blooms
Winters have been hard.
Small seeds planted
To just the right size
Tend the ground
Tend your soul
How organized can one be?
This week we talked about organizing our lives so that we can make the changes we need to make, to stay on program, and to reach our goals. We need to remember that the goals are not just numbers on a scale, but the deeper goals, the “why’s” that brought us to this point. Mine are listed here. I keep referring to them when things get hard.
Since I am retired, being organized has been fairly easy for me. There are not many things I have to do. I don’t have small children I need to feed, and my wife Anne is completely capable of cooking her own meals. I can keep a gallon jug of water in the fridge, and set out my meal replacements for each day on the kitchen counter. I can exercise at home in my pool. A challenge for me has been going out. Because of the water I am drinking, I can’t make it through an hour church service without a bathroom break. Maybe I need to slow down on the water on Sunday mornings before church, but that would require being more flexible. Flexible seems hard as compulsively following the routine, a regimen really, is what has made this easier for me. Can I do the Mountain play next week? The hours in the sun, the hike to the bathrooms, and folks eating fancy picnics all around me, might be more of a challenge than I am up for right now. We will see.
One of the ways I am “organizing my world” is by doing this blog. Since I post it on Facebook as well as on my website, I have in some ways created a “community of accountability”. Friends, family, and others know I am doing this. As a minister, my community of accountability has been my colleagues and our professional organization which hold me in covenant to certain standards of ethical behavior. I count on those good people for feedback, for help as I struggle with all kinds of issues, including how to be a decent ally in the holy work of dismantling white supremacy and other forms of oppression.
My group at Kaiser is also a community of accountability in this particular and very specific journey.
Community is so important. Friends are so important.
It must be time to post a link to a video. Music is also important.
a little help from my friends (I get by)
(My stats for last week – down 5.2 pounds, drank 7 gallons of water and exercised for a total of 270 minutes. My total weight loss so far is 17.3 pounds.)
It is a fragile balance, the likes of which I expressed in the soup. A cortisone shot helped my knee and my potassium is back in the normal range based on a blood test this week. My blood pressure is also now OK I think, based on the only vaguely accurate home tester we have. But now my shoulder aches. I injured it in a fall a couple of years ago, and I suspect the naproxen was easing that pain too. Oh, and I have back pain as well. Yes, I think it is OK to whine a bit. I am looking for a new normal, a better way of being, and of course the transition is difficult. Things get out of balance, and I need to give my body (and my spirit) some time to adjust. I survived a church luncheon this week while staying on program, but have been seriously fantasizing about a slice of Italian salami, a comfort food of mine since childhood. Just one, to hold in my mouth and suck all the flavor out. I don’t even have to swallow it. So far, the fantasy is enough.
There is a difference between a fantasy and a dream. A fantasy can be satisfying even if it stays in the imagination. A dream is something we want to make real. More peace, more justice, fewer murdered children, those are the dreams I want to realize.
There is also a difference between a desire and a want. We’ll reflect on that more later maybe, but my quick thought is the difference is time frame, with desires being short term and immediate, whereas wanting is more longterm.
Don’t look any of those words up. I am making up my own definitions as I go along. No worries if you have a different understanding.
A good cook knows
It’s a delicate balance
Not too much salt
This spice not that one
Taste as you go
Try it and see what will happen
As the broth bubbles
Blending the flavors
In mysterious ways
The complex chemistry
Of our bodies
Responds in ways
Not always predicted.
Any change has an impact
In our bloodstreams
A riot of flavor
Reducing some risks
While creating others.
Add the spices slowly
Let them simmer.
This is a medically supervised program, which is a good thing because although I feel just fine, my lab results last week indicated my potassium level is now a bit high. Balance is everything, right? Potassium, one of the body’s electrolytes is problematic if it either too high or too low. Medications can affect the level, and I am have been taking two that can cause the retention of potassium. One is for blood pressure and the other is naproxen, which I take for knee pain. Add that to a severely restricted calorie intake, one which contains the amount of potassium a non-medicated body needs, trouble was on its way “right here in river city.” When I got the lab results, I did some research and stopped taking the naproxen. I had already scheduled a cortisone shot for my knee (today) so what was a little pain for a few days if it could get my potassium level back down to the normal range? Pain, however, can increase blood pressure, so when that was checked last night, it was way higher than my normal. When one thing is out of balance, everything else is affected, something that is just true about life. I’ll be checking my blood pressure more frequently and we are redoing the potassium blood test, but it was upsetting. Here I am trying to get healthier and some things are getting worse! Is this justice? Is this fair?
I know the answer to those questions, and the answer is, of course, “no.”
I am grateful for the doctors and the support of our weekly group, and I am trying to keep focused on the moon, not the nagging little fingers of stress at the ups and downs of this process. If you don’t understand the moon/finger references, there is an old Buddhist story that I thought of today. The teacher stood very still and pointed at the moon, but all of his students focused on the tip of his pointing finger.
Keep your gaze on the moon.
No matter the distractions
No matter how low the valleys
Or how high the mountains
We must climb
Bend your mind
Your heart your spirit
Toward the golden guide
That rises in the night
(My stats for last week: down 4.4 pounds (total to date +12.1), drank 7 gallons of water, and exercised for 390 minutes – mainly swimming)
Bread is made
From simple things
Flour, water, yeast,
A dash of salt.
Not so simple
Is the work involved
Forming into loaves
In good measure
A warm beginning
Then a trial by fire
Creating a strong crust
To keep from getting stale.
I wonder at myself sometimes. Choosing “Daily Bread” as a blogging title seems a rather strange choice at a time when I am not eating bread. Bread will also doubtless stay on the list of foods that I won’t ever eat daily, if at all. “Give us our daily bread,” the prophet Jesus prayed, but he must have been talking about more than the bread that can feed the hungry. He broke the bread and called us to a path that just might sustain our lives. I don’t believe in transubstantiation, but I do believe in transformation.
Mix it up
Pound it on the table
Put it in a bowl to rise
Bake it in the oven
Create a miracle
Miracles take work.