What a roller coaster these last few days have been! First my knee surgery, which has been scheduled for 9/16, was delayed until the 23rd. Then it was back on for 9/10 which is only a few days from now. I was supposed to check in at 11:30, then it was 9:30, and now it is back to 11:30. We will see if anything changes again. I have had a ton of phone calls and emails from Kaiser (my health care provider) in the last few days. I had to change other appointments because of the date changes. The surgery team thought I still have diabetes and sleep apnea as my primary doctor hasn’t corrected my records yet to show “history of” in front of those conditions. Luckily they listen when I tell them my latest A1C is 5.2 and explain how much weight I have lost, but it is more than a little frustrating. All this chaos has at least saved me from stressing too much about the actual surgery. I am ready I think. I have the walker and thing that goes over the toilet ready. We will pick up all the throw rugs this weekend and and make sure there is enough food in the freezer.
I did reach my weight loss goal this week, the one I have had for over a year. Now I am simply overweight and not “obese.” I may set a new goal after I have recovered from the surgery and can get back to serious walking. One interesting thought that I have been smiling about: with all the excess skin around my knees now, maybe the scar will be less obvious. There have to be some advantages to saggy skin. But even with a large ugly scar, I will still wear shorts. Like my gray hair, I will have earned the scar and will be proud. No worries, I don’t think I will post any pictures of my early healing stages. .
Tonight we are going out to dinner. I will have the swordfish and maybe two martinis.
Time for another before/after pic.
My appearance still startles me when I look in the mirror. No wonder that old friends don’t always recognize me. There have been a lots of changes since April of 2018 when the earlier picture was taken. It isn’t just my appearance that has changed (my hair is shorter!), but most importantly my health is so much better. I can walk for miles, I don’t get out of breath on the uphills, I am off all regular prescription meds, and my C-Pap machine is history. I feel better; I feel stronger; I may even be happier. Back then my health was deteriorating which was depressing and my world, my life, felt like it was becoming more and more limited by things I could no longer do.
For 385 days, after the meal replacement period was past, I have logged every calorie I have eaten into an app on my phone. I have guessed sometimes, especially with restaurant meals, but have continued to lose almost 2 pounds per week on average. The graph of that loss is pretty dramatic.
My goal has been 180 pounds, which would get me out of “obesity” into overweight. I hate those weight charts, but it is kind of fun to be only a week or so from achieving “overweight” status. I may not be done losing, but I am will also fine with simply maintaining where I am now.
I exercise, at least an hour a day and sometimes more. I enjoy it. My knee surgery is coming up in a few weeks, which was one of the reasons I needed to lose the weight as they would not operate on me at the size I was. I got a little frustrated today because the surgery was delayed for another week because of a UTI. They want you to be in stellar health so the surgery goes well. More antibiotics should do the trick, and another week isn’t so long after all the time I have put in preparing, but it did seem a little unfair. Very little in life is fair, however, and I know I have been luckier than many. A little whining seems justified none the less.
It is a bummer partly because the scheduled surgery meant I could not have another cortisone shot and had to stop taking naproxen. As a result, my knee is toast and getting too painful to continue my long walks. I am going to switch back to mainly the stationary bike and swimming, with maybe a few short walks with a knee brace. Perhaps it is all a plot so I will be really happy to have the surgery and not complain too much during the recovery period which everyone says is fairly painful.
In group this week, we talked about RMR (resting metabolic rate – or the calories you would burn if you were in a coma. The coma explanation is mine and is not the official one.) You can affect your RMR some by the foods you eat, the amount of muscle mass you have, how much sleep you get, and how you deal with stress. Other things such as age, gender and hormones are pretty much out of your control. RMR also goes down as your weight goes down. I had mine tested last November when I was 75+ pounds heavier than I am today. I will get it tested again after my knee surgery, just so I know the number. It helps with the math. I seriously have both a lot less weight and a lot more muscle than I did then.
I am not on a diet. This isn’t a fad, a quick fix that can’t be sustained. This is my life.
L’Chaim! This week’s stats: I am drinking about 96 ounces of water most days. My Fitbit report shows 99,609 steps last week for over 42 miles, down from last week when we walked an extra lot in Monterey. I ate approximately 9527 calories and burned 17443 for a deficit of 7916. I am down 3.1 pounds for a total loss of 140.9.
We rode the shuttle up to Muir Woods on Saturday. Nice flat walking for most of it and what glorious giants. I felt even smaller around them.
I had a non-scale victory this week too as I had blood drawn in preparation for my knee surgery. They were able to use a vein in my arm! For years, they have had to use my hands to draw blood. The arm is MUCH preferred.
I had a huge (6.6 pounds) weight loss this week, which would be kind of scary except for the 4 pound gain I had last week. That gain was all water due to a medication that I have now stopped taking. It wasn’t helping anyway, and my ankles were seriously swollen as a side affect. OK, maybe some of the gain was the moules frites but the med was clearly the biggest part of it.
I also cleaned out my closet this week. All those 3x clothes will go to someone else.
My closet looks much better. It isn’t hard to decide what to wear with fewer clothes to choose from. Getting rid of the clothes I have shrunk out of was an emotional experience. I loved some of those outfits and had memories of the fun and significant times I had worn them.
I did keep a few things that I will likely never wear again – including the outfit I wore for my ordination back in 2007. I wore it on many other special occasions afterward. I mostly had to be quick with the cleaning out, taking no time to fold or sort, or I knew I wouldn’t have been able to do it. Too many memories were woven into too many of those clothes. I hope they bring joy to whoever will wear them next. Large sizes can be hard to find in second hand stores, so maybe they will be appreciated.
As hard as it was, it was important to for me to do this. It was an act of faith, of faith in myself really. If I kept the old clothes around, part of me would have been expecting to wear them again. I am not putting all that weight back on! It is funny, but I went through a reverse process a few years ago when moving. I got rid of the clothes that I didn’t think I would ever be small enough to wear again. I guess I was wrong about that prediction, but it was still a good decision to let them go. Lugging them around through a couple of moves was too depressing, and it was good for my mental health to get rid of them. At that point in my life, I just needed to accept myself as I was and just be fat and happy. Now I am again learning to accept myself as I am now, thinner but still happy. Change is always hard.
Group this week was good again. We talked about the Maya Angelou quote, “when you know better, you do better.” So many meanings, and so much nuance to be found in those words. More knowledge is almost always a good thing, and damn, don’t we all want to do better? I wish our POTUS had even a smidgen of that approach.
We also talked about the food industry and how it keeps us confused and unhealthy.
This program is not a diet. Diets don’t work. This isn’t about depriving yourself for a short period of time and then going back to old habits. It is a complete change in approach to food, exercise, and to life. I don’t feel deprived. I feel good.
L’Chaim! This week’s stats: I am drinking about 96 ounces of water most days. My Fitbit report shows 116,448 steps last week for over 49 miles, which was way up from the week before and included a very long walk in Monterey. I ate approximately 9996 calories and burned 18180 for a deficit of 8184. I am down 6.6 pounds for a total loss of 137.8 .
This week proved that doing the math is not always enough. Even though my calculated calorie deficit was larger than last week, I gained 4 pounds, my largest weekly gain since beginning the program. Maybe it was the 3 dinners out I ate while in Monterey on a short get away. Eating out always involves calorie guesstimates and I could have grossly underestimated. Maybe it was because I cut back on calories the week before while increasing my exercise and that sent my body went into starvation mode. Maybe it is a new medication that causes some water retention, and most likely it is a combination of all 3.
There is so much mystery in life.
Monterey was beautiful and I walked a lot amid simply gorgeous scenery. I enjoyed myself and I enjoyed the dinners I ate. It was all good food, just a little too rich and a little too much. This week, I will get back to my more usual habits, because they really are habits now.
The class was helpful tonight. I had been a bit overconfident due to being so successful for so long. Humility is important and this week was a bit of a wake-up call to keep paying attention. We talked about emotional eating and I don’t think I do that anymore, although it was a habit in my past. Eating is not how I deal with stress anymore. I don’t eat out of boredom and I avoid junk foods. I just need to be a bit more careful in French restaurants as good Moules Frites are just too yummy for me to resist. And I did underestimate the calories in them – by a lot. The mussels were cooked in both butter and cream. They were REALLY good though, and it is OK to indulge once in awhile. One of my friends in the group said that when she indulges, she gives herself a penance, something as simple as a walk around the block can make up for a handful of tortilla chips. Some things obviously require longer walks.
L’Chaim! This week’s stats: I am drinking about 72 ounces of water most days. My Fitbit report shows 89431 steps last week for over 37 miles. I ate approximately 9247 calories and burned 17547 for a deficit of 8300. I am up 4 pounds for a total loss of 131.2 .
I really wore out my knee last week on the Tennessee Valley hike, so I took it easier for a few days afterward. I actually drove to take the above walk. It was also super hot and only a tad cooler by the water. The cortisone shot has definitely worn off so it is back to naproxen for awhile. I’ll probably need to stop that as well a bit before my surgery. All good I guess. Some pain now will get me ready for post surgery pain. Because of the opioid crises, doctors limit the prescriptions for the heavy duty pain meds that can lead to addiction if used for too long. I assume they will give me enough to get through the worst of it. Full anesthesia for the surgery at least! The expectation is to be sent home the same day and a physical therapist comes to the house a couple of times a week until I can make it to the clinic. Another adventure!
I am a little stressed about the surgery recovery time and maintaining my weight loss while I can’t do long walks or swim. I will try to eat a little less so I don’t gain, but it will be tricky. Food can be such a comfort. But I didn’t do all this work to regain it all!
Stress was the topic in group tonight. As compulsive as I am, I don’t actually stress all that much. This was the handout:
The physiological impact of high levels of stress is pretty scary, so I am glad I don’t do it that much. “What? Me worry?” (Does anyone else remember MAD magazine?) I loved it when I was young.
I also did some quick research on weight loss and how many people regain all the weight they lost. This article was interesting as it mentions what factors are correlated with successfully keeping the lost weight off.
I loved this paragraph:
“National Weight Control Registry members have lost an average of 33 kg and maintained the loss for more than 5 y. To maintain their weight loss, members report engaging in high levels of physical activity (≈1 h/d), eating a low-calorie, low-fat diet, eating breakfast regularly, self-monitoring weight, and maintaining a consistent eating pattern across weekdays and weekends. Moreover, weight loss maintenance may get easier over time; after individuals have successfully maintained their weight loss for 2–5 y, the chance of longer-term success greatly increases.”
I’ll be even more confident in another year.
L’Chaim! This week’s stats: I am drinking about 65 ounces of water most days. My Fitbit report shows 84,498 steps last week for over 35 miles. I ate approximately 9289 calories and burned 16605 for a deficit of 7316. I am down another .7 pound for a total loss of 135.2 .
There are some great places to walk to near my house. This is about 1.5 miles away, which gives me 3 miles round trip and all uphill on the way back.
I may have overdone it today though with a hike on the Tennessee Valley trail. It was about 4 miles round trip and took 2 and a half hours. My knee is in serious pain now. Maybe it was too long and maybe the cortisone shot is wearing off. Good thing I have knee surgery scheduled!
It was seriously beautiful though.
Class last night was good, although bittersweet as it was the last night for the excellent facilitator who is going to another position.
We talked about motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic. The stuff that comes from inside you works better. No one loses weight because someone else, even a doctor, tells them too. No, the reason to do this is because you like how it feels, because you want to do things with your life that will be easier if you are healthier. I have been able to stay motivated partly because I have had so many rewards along the way, mainly significant improvements in my health. I called it luck, but maybe it is grace instead – undeserved blessings that have rained down upon me. It all gives me some pause. Before I started this program, my life was narrowing because of my weight related health issues. There was so much I could not do. Now, a year and a half later, I am still amazed at how my life and abilities have expanded again. But in terms of staying motivated to stay the course, to make this how I will live for the rest of my life, what happens when the rewards are less obvious than they are now? If I get used to them? What happens when advancing age again catches up with me? What will happen after my knee surgery?
Life is, and always will be I guess, an adventure of sorts.
I want to stick around as long as possible partly to see what happens – I can never stop reading a book until the end – but the world will (I hope!) go on without me at some point. Until then, I want to have as big of a positive impact as I can, on the world and on the people around me. At church we sing a closing song at the end of the service each week. It has the line “for the children of our children, keep the circle whole.” For that we need wisdom, courage, and strength.
And ice. Time to put more ice on my knee.
L’Chaim! This week’s stats: I am drinking about 54 ounces of water most days. My Fitbit report shows 85,990 steps last week for over 36 miles. I ate approximately 9289 calories and burned 17252 for a deficit of 7963. I am down another 1.6 pounds for a total loss of 134.5 .
We got out to Tomales Bay State park last week. I tried using 2 hiking sticks, but went back to the cane for my cane. It works more like a third leg, and takes the weight off my left knee much better than a hiking stick. The other stick helped with balance though. Maybe two canes would be even better. There was one trail that I couldn’t do as there was a ditch to cross and the step up across it was just too steep and scary.
We did a couple of other trails instead.
The weather was great near the coast and we stopped for oysters for dinner.
There are also some great gardens I have enjoyed during my morning walks.
I am settling into the walking habit and amazing myself. I actually get grumpy if I can’t get my 90 morning walk in. I try to swim in the afternoon and take a shorter walk after dinner. Hopefully I will be in great shape for my knee surgery and the healing will go well.
Class was great tonight and I really love the new group. They love to laugh and I find laughter very healing. There was a joke about throwing out the refrigerator and not just the tempting unhealthy food. One man broke his FitBit and was distraught about it. I can relate. It was also fun seeing a few people from my old group who came in as our group was ending. One of whom just got a FitBit. My spouse laughs at me when I pace around the house trying to burn a few more calories so my FitBit screen turns green for “goals met.” Laughter is good.
One of the coordinators was upset with me that I switched groups, but while I understand the need to balance the numbers, the groups are all about the same size and other people have switched in the past. It really helps me to meet new people, all of whom have a unique perspective to share. Plus the later time is just so much better. Given that I am one of their more impressive success stories, I doubt they will throw me out, especially as I would not go quietly. Have I ever been quiet? In any case, one of the messages of this program is taking control of your choices. That empowerment has to include more than just what you eat and how much you exercise. Once you know what you need, trying to get is a no brainer. Just do it!
Roses have thorns. I have had huge improvements in my health with my weight loss, but there are some minor issues that have developed partly because of it. I have “age spots” now, where blood accumulates just under the skin on my hands, and if I bump them, sometimes they bleed. Skin thins as one ages, and now that I don’t have all the fat in my hands to help protect my blood vessels. A good hand cream should help some, at least according to my doctor. And maybe TMI, but I need to do more Kegel exercises, a common need for women after they have given birth. I have lost more weight than my thirty year old daughter weighs, so yeah, I just had a very large baby.
I’ll take those minor problems. So much better than having diabetes and the multitude of there conditions I had before. I am still smelling the roses, even if they have a few thorns.
L’Chaim! This week’s stats: I am drinking about 54 ounces of water most days. My Fitbit report shows 90,935 steps last week for over 38 miles – down some from last week. I ate approximately 9961 calories and burned 17266 for a deficit of 7305. I am down another 1.3 pounds for a total loss of 132.9.
Shrinking, I am shrinking. Or melting, who knows? It has been pretty hot on some of my walks. It is important to get out early. I have been trying to do two walks most days, a longer one in the morning, a shorter one after dinner, and I like to swim in between. Being retired gives me the time to do that almost every day.
This week my wife Anne gave me some of her clothes that are too big for her. They fit! This is amazing because I used to weigh 3 times as much as her. I still weigh more, but no longer even twice as much.
I am still not getting my gallon of water in most days. Does that make a difference? I have reduced my percentage of protein, so maybe it is OK as far as my kidney health goes. I haven’t felt really hungry, even though I ate a bit less last week, so I don’t need as much water to feel full.
The good and scary news this week is that my knee surgery is now scheduled. September 16th. I am excited and somewhat apprehensive. From what I have heard doing the rehab is the most critical part. I think I can do that given that I already have an exercise routine. I won’t be able to swim of course, so swim season will end early for me this year. But maybe after the surgery, I can ditch my cane on my walks. I don’t use it indoors, unless there is a crowd.
I went to an earlier group tonight with a facilitator I had before that I like a lot. She is leaving for another job in a couple of weeks and there will be someone new. The time is much better for me. I was even able to take a short walk when I got home.
I liked the new group a lot. I missed people from the other group, but it was also good to hear some new stories. The support and sharing is so important.
It upsets me that so many people have dropped out, but I guess that is typical. Apparently 95% of people who diet to lose weight, gain all the lost weight back in a few years. Kaiser’s record is somewhat better but the “failure” rate is still high. Sticking with the lifestyle changes seem to be the most important factor in success. Maybe it is good I am still so compulsive about this.
L’Chaim! This week’s stats: I am drinking about 72 ounces of water most days. My Fitbit report shows 101,769 steps last week for over 43 miles – down some from last week. I ate approximately 9,996 calories and burned 18,227 for a deficit of 8231. I am down another 2.4 pounds for a total loss of 131.6
I know now
Both are hard work
Blessings that may come
Only after old habits die
The stones that block
Partly of our own making
We need help to chip away
It helps to work
Up a sweat
Trying to climb over them
It helps to have friends
To lend a hand
A leg up
It is springtime once again
There are flowers
Among the rocks
We got back home and I realized I actually live in a place where people pay big bucks to go on vacation. I did so much walking while we were gone, I thought I would try it here. I have a new routine now I think. I walk for 45-80 minutes mid-morning before it gets hot and try to do it again after dinner. You can’t beat the views from my neighborhood and the flowers are all in bloom.
It is very hilly here and although the downhills slow me down some because I am afraid of falling if my knee gives out. I am getting to be an expert with my cane, but will be really glad when I no longer need it. Uphills are much easier, and I don’t have to stop to catch my breath or rest like I did before.
Standing without moving is still hard, though. I went to a local protest against the current administration’s draconian immigration policies. I did the short march around a block in downtown Novato and could have done more walking, but I was glad that I found a place to sit to listen to the speakers.
I was back at the group last night for the first time in a month and had my official weigh in. I lost 9.6 pounds during the month I was on vacation. I am slowly getting used to my new body, but at least I seem to be on track with the lifestyle change. I want to lose another 12 pounds or so before my knee surgery and right now, that seems like a fairly easy goal.
L’Chaim! This week’s stats: I am still not getting my gallon of water in most days, my bladder needs time to adjust back up to that volume. My Fitbit report shows 109,110 steps last week for over 46 miles – up from last week. I ate approximately 11,000 calories and burned 18,693. I am down another pound for a total loss of 129.2.