Tag Archive | Kaiser Medical Weight Management Program

Daily Bread (Week 9)

 

IMG_1945No 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.

L’Chaim!

(No stats this week)

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Daily Bread (Week 8)

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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

Or justice.

I can do

This hard thing too.

 

L’Chaim

 

(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.)

Daily Bread (Week 6)

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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.

L’Chaim

(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.)

 

 

Daily Bread (Week 5)

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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.

The Beatles:

a little help from my friends (I get by)

 

L’Chaim

(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.)

 

Daily Bread (Week 4 Day 5)

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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.

L’Chaim

Daily Bread (Week 4)

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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

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L’Chaim!

(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)

Daily Bread (Week 3 Day 5)

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Bread

Bread is made

From simple things

Flour, water, yeast,

A dash of salt.

Not so simple

Is the work involved

Mixing, kneading,

Forming into loaves

Adding patience

In good measure

A warm beginning

Then a trial by fire

Creating a strong crust

To keep from getting stale.

 

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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

Knowing

Miracles take work.

Daily Bread (Week 3)

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I woke up a little weepy this morning.  Change is hard, and knowing that those rocks we are trying to push uphill just want to roll back down over us, makes it all a little harder.  Little victories are the clue, placing small wedges under the rocks, keeping a steady pace, and taking the time to rest.  Good shoes for the journey can help too.  Traveling companions make the journey less lonely, and a friend can help you with your shoe laces.

Speaking of laces, we had another good group meeting last night, and the connections are deepening as the sharing becomes more personal.  We went around the room talking about our successes this last week and why we are doing this.  I was moved by many of the stories.  They resonated with many of my own struggles.  Personal stories always do that.  Empathy shimmers around a room and we are moved to laughter or tears.  The stories are all different as each individual is unique, but in broad strokes the pictures being painted are all the same.  This is even truer when a group has gathered around a common issue.

When it was my turn, I had a moment of befuddlement.  I had already shared in my head and also right here in my earlier post.  Writing is like that sometimes.  The words flow out and then they are gone into a deeper part of my being.

We also talked about goals, and the need to be specific about changing behaviors in order to reach a goal.  Deciding to “lose weight” doesn’t work as well as deciding to exercise “x” hours per week, or deciding how many calories to have tomorrow.  The calorie decisions are being made for me in this program, as long as I follow it.  The other stuff is up to me, as always and of course, with more than a little help from my friends.

The idea reminded me of the churches who say they want to “grow,” but are unwilling to change in order to meet that goal.  Change is hard, no matter the issue.  We need to acknowledge what we will lose as well as what we will gain.  Churches may need to give up some familiar practices (music, liturgy, gossip, and exclusive habits of all sorts) in order to welcome the seekers who will help reenergize them in fulfilling their mission. I am giving up the pleasure I have found in eating (and over-eating) delicious high calorie foods in order to live longer and better.  L’Chaim!

 

(My stats for last week: down 2.8 pounds, drank 7 gallons of water, and exercised for 375 minutes – mainly swimming)

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Daily Bread (Week 2 Day 3)

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Our homework assignment this week is to make a list of why we are doing this rather draconian program.  It isn’t just for fun; that’s for sure, although in a weird way, I am starting to enjoy some of it.  I feel stronger and I can swim longer and faster.  I am not hungry at all.  They say it is like drip irrigation, if you take the calories in slowly (every 2.5 hours) you need less and you burn fat not muscle.  It is also sort of nice not to have to think about food.  “What’s for dinner?”  “Where should we eat tonight?”  “Should we have a salad or vegetables with the meal?”  Anne still has all those decisions to make, and they are lonely decisions without me participating.   In some ways it is a relief knowing exactly what I am going to consume each and every day for the next several months.  It frees my mind to think about other things, like “why” I am doing this.

So here is my list of “whys,” at least for now.  The most important ones are:

Improve my health.  I have a whole raft of health issues that, if not all caused by my weight, certainly haven’t been helped by it.  One big one is my knees, which both need replacement and I need to lose weight in order to safely to have the surgery.  Bum knees limit my mobility and what I can do.  The other is the lipodermatosclerosis I have in both legs.  It involves hardening of the skin, swelling and lumps, and is very painful.   The pain combined with the spacey side effects of the gabapentin I have needed to take for the pain, is the reason I needed to retire from active ministry.  Being unable to stand for very long is also a limiting condition.   I just want to feel better physically and being in pain affects everything including the mind and spirit in addition to the body.

Live longer. This is part of health, but needs to be listed separately I think.  Our 3 adult children are all well established, but I’d like more time with them and with my dear wife, Anne.  If grandchildren become a possibility I’d love the chance to play with them. I want to see more sunrises and sunsets, and have more time to spend with those I love.

Secondary “Why’s.”

  1. I want to be able to participate in marches, rallies, and other acts of resistance in order to bring more love and justice into the world.  I have been an activist my entire life.  It is hard to need to stay home when other folks are “hitting the streets.”.
  2. I want to be able to stop focusing so much on my own issues and limitations.  This requires focusing on myself for awhile.  In the ministry we call this “self-care.” If you ignore your own needs you simply can’t be effective in helping others.  Part of it is role modeling.  Mind/body/spirit are all one in my theology, and I have been ignoring the body part of self-care for too many  years.
  3. I’d like to be able to travel to places that require more physical stamina than I currently have.

Relatively Trivial “Why’s.”

  1. I am tired of having to ask for a seat belt extender on airplanes.  I don’t want to pray that a friendly and skinny person sits next to me.
  2. Packing will be easier with smaller clothes.
  3. I don’t want to worry about breaking chairs. 

That’s enough for now.  Maybe later I will list things about this program that are really hard, but right now I am focusing on having a positive attitude.

May we all learn to love ourselves and each other.  And again, L’Chaim, to life!

Daily Bread (Week 2)

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There is something very sweet and inspiring about a relatively diverse group of people bonding over their engagement with a common issue.  It happens all kinds of groups (i.e. cancer and grief support groups, non-profit boards, committees, and 12 step programs of all sorts).  I should not have been at all surprised that it is happening in my weight management group, even if the personal sharing has been somewhat limited given last night was only our 3rd meeting.  I was a bit surprised, however, at how quickly the mutual rapport is developing.  Maybe it is partly because we have all committed to journeying together for at least 82 weeks.  That commitment is probably a key factor as well as is having a common mission.  We want/need the group to jell well so we can all be successful.  We are rapidly becoming a “We” and not merely a collection of individuals.

This is a spiritual exercise, coming to a deep realization that we are connected, that we are not alone, in our struggles or in our triumphs.  In Unitarian Universalism, this is our seven principle. “We covenant to affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”

This connection is what many people are seeking when they join a religious community.  Commitment to a common mission is what makes for a successful group and a successful church.

Success can be defined partly as transformation, both individual and collective, a transformation that goes much deeper that what the scale says or how gorgeous a church building is.  It is what is inside that matters.

(My stats for last week – down 5 pounds, drank 6 1/2 gallons of water and exercised for a total of 365 minutes, mainly swimming.)

Rock on, rock on.