Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Life lessons from one of the babies

When you're an only child but a part of a really (and I mean, really) large extended family, your cousins become the siblings you never had.

I love my cousins the way most people love their siblings--seriously. My family is incredibly close. Growing up, I'd spend every afternoon with my cousins. Weekend outings, parties, all of it was a huge part of my world growing up...they're my friends, my family. My brothers and sisters.

Which is why Thanksgiving was such a highlight for has gotten crazy for all of us as we've gotten older; some of my cousins are off in college right now; others are working their ways through their first jobs, their first big's fun to watch and experience with them and catching up with them over turkey and rice and beans (What can I say, we're Cuban!) was the best part of my day.

Of course, my cousins all commented on my weight loss. I got lots of big hugs, congratulations and encouragement. They had questions about how I was doing it, what I wanted, and what my workouts were...and inevitably, I sat and spoke with one of my cousins in particular because she's a fitness buff and she wanted to help. (We actually got a big laugh out of my mom's reaction when I started doing pilates...which went like this: Mom: "You're doing pilates? But that's real exercise. Your cousin D does pilates. Aren't you too fat to do pilates? You know, if D does pilates, that's a good thing. She has a gorgeous body. Why didn't you take up pilates sooner?")

To understand why that was funny to me and my cousin D (who I consider one of the family babies...since she's a whopping six years younger than I am) you have to understand who D is...she's the family starlet. Seriously. The girl is gorgeous. Skin as clear as you can imagine. Long, dark shiny hair. A smile that is perfect and white and has never required braces. And oh yes--the figure. D has the kind of body I would murder someone for. She has curves in all the right places and without an iota of extra fat all seriousness, she is absolutely gorgeous and our family knows--she's the beauty.

But here's the thing--while, sure, there's a little bit of genetic magic in there (How did I skip those genes?), there's a lot of hard work there too. While everyone sat around us stuffing themselves with multiple servings of turkey, ham, stuffing and mashed potatoes loaded with cheese, cream cheese and sour cream (umm....), D sat there, nibbling on a plate full of vegetable sides.

She became a vegetarian a year ago. She works out every day and just listening to her regimen made me exhausted. But it left me inspired. And it reminded me--it does take hard work to reach the goals we have for ourselves.

When it came time for dessert, D indulged--she had one (small) piece of pie. While everyone else ate multiple (large) pieces of pie. She and I sat giggling over the ridiculous quantities of food and how our family just doesn't get it. Somehow, we always have way, way, way too much food to consume. It's the family joke. There's never been a shortage of food at any get together. Ever.

Sitting there and talking to her for most of the day helped me stay on track. How could I be discussing my new healthy lifestyle while I ate a cupcake? Was I supposed to talk about my new workouts between bite after bite of flan and pumpkin pie? I think not.

Having D to talk to, to commiserate with, to laugh with was huge. And it paid its dividends two days later when I went to my WW--and I stayed the same. Was I happy I stayed the same? Not really. But I knew I'd worked to do that--after a week of eating out, after being sick and too tired to work out, after surviving Thanksgiving--staying exactly the same was a minor miracle.

Life has started calming down somewhat for me. I've worked out a few more times. My eating is back on track in the best way possible. I'm actually eager to get back to my meeting this Saturday and see if the number has finally started budging down.

And I know part of what kept me on track during that rough week was my conversation with my baby cousin D...who knew those younger siblings could be so wise?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Desperation...and a scare

I'm still in one piece. Barely, but still in one piece. I had to go out of town last week and ate out every meal...ugh. I tried to do my best, picking grilled chicken entrees, and I even got a gym workout in while I was there.

Then I got hit hard by a cold (that still hasn't gotten better) and just tried to lay low--do my work and get back home in one piece.

Since getting back though, I've been trying to regain a little bit of control over my schedule. Work is still insane, but last night, while I was in the gym I realized how much I needed to make time for my workouts. While on the treadmill, they only thing I was thinking about was my workout--how good (and yet torturous!) it felt; how the sweat was dripping down my neck, how good that cold water tasted. I wasn't thinking about deadlines or editors or games or bosses or Christmas shopping or Thanksgiving with the in-laws. I just thought about me and my body. Have to was a nice change of pace.

And I realize, my goal of hitting 15 pounds down by Paris is not going to happen...I've hit a wall--a gain a few weeks ago, a loss two weeks ago, and no idea what to expect this week...but it's okay. Last night while watching the Biggest Loser, Mr. CCC and I saw a stat that had us both a little dumbfounded--the average American gains seven pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

So, if I stay at the same weight, I've accomplished something. If I lose any weight, I'll have accomplished something. I'm just setting out to do that right now--lose whatever I can between now and the start of 2008.

And because I haven't had enough proof of why this battle is so important, I got yet another life lesson in desperation and weight loss today.

My stepdad's sister had to be rushed to the hospital this morning...why for you ask? Complications from gastric bypass surgery.

In all reality, I'm not one of those people who is completely opposed to gastric bypass. Sure, I think it's better to try and lose the weight in a healthy way that helps you adjust your habits and doesn't require surgery, but I know that for some people--gastric bypass is the only way out.

Only problem is--my stepdad's sister is NOT one of those people. She was overweight--by about 40 pounds when she had the surgery (it was post-baby weight). Her initial doctor told her she wasn't a good candidate for gastric bypass at all, but unwilling to accept that from her doctor, she began searching for another doctor willing to take her on. To make things easier, she even sewed weights into her clothing so that upon stepping on the scale, the number would be higher.

How a doctor with common sense didn't catch on to that is beyond me (and let's be honest--there are probably more than a few doctors willing to perform this surgery for the money) and she had the surgery a year ago. She's had several complications since.

The most serious came today--when she started bleeding. Upon further research, the ER doctors learned that not only had she had an unnecessary bypass, she had overeaten, rupturing the stitches in her stomach, causing the damage and the bleeding. She had to have emergency surgery to save her life. Her family is a wreck. Her children are scared. Her brother is angry.

I got angry too when I heard the whole sordid story...something my mom didn't understand. She said to me, "How can you be upset? You're trying to lose weight. You've been desperate." I had to explain to her that the reason I was so angry was because stepdad's sister put her life in jeopardy with the surgery. Then she put her life in jeopardy again by overeating when she knew she wasn't able to.

She risked her life for what? To lose an extra 40 pounds? Hey, with some lifestyle adjustments, that comes off. And you don't jeopardize your life. Why anyone would do that--particularly a mother with two small children--boggles my mind. It was selfish vanity....but as one of my friends pointed out to me--vanity is one of the seven deadly sins.

The good news is that it looks like my stepdad's sister is going to make it through this mess. The emergency surgery saved her. She's in recovery right now and everyone is yes, still holding their breath, but a whole lot more hopeful than they were early in the day.

And the whole experience made me grateful--grateful that I haven't reached that point in my life, that I would put vanity above my health; it made me grateful that there are healthy options out made me grateful to know I'm making changes in my life that won't hurt me or the people who care about me.

I can only hope my stepdad's sister learns something similar from this scary experience.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Hiding in shame...and in panic

I know what you're thinking.

I had a gain on the scale and a meltdown ensued.

That's not true. What is true is that I've had 3 weeks with 2 days off; I've worked nights more than I've worked days. I haven't had time to set foot in a gym (Literally--it's a little hard when you're working 9 a.m. to about oh, midnight)...heck, I haven't had time to set foot in a grocery store. Combine all that and you get a meltdown.

This time of year is brutal for me at work; It's been so bad the other day my boss called me into her office and asked if I was okay--because one of my coworkers confessed to her she was ready to crawl in a hole and cry. I've gone through this before and I'm used to it, so I told my boss I wasn't ready to throw it all to hades--but I was close. And at least for now, I'm starting to see a *little* bit of light at the end of the tunnel.

With all of this going on, I'll be honest. It's been hard to make myself a priority. Gym time? Laughable. Even my WW meeting last week had to be abandoned when I was called in for a last-minute assignment. And this weekend, I'll be packing my bag for an business trip. To make matters worse, I didn't even feel like I was in control of anything--including my eating.

I wouldn't say I've gone overboard with my eating--I haven't. But I do know that I haven't been in control of it. I've skipped meals because literally, taking the time to go get or heat food has been impossible. I've snarfed down dinners at 11:30 p.m. because I had to eat *something* and I was starving.

I've been abusing my body and while I can get away with that for a little while, it started catching up with me in the past few days. Even my face looks tired--dark circles under my eyes that inudstrial-strength concealer can't hide; two giant cystic pimples that I know are stress-induced and just a general dullness that has left me feeling on top of exhausted, ugly. (Not a good combination for me since I'm self-conscious to start out with.)

The good news? Like I said--I'm starting to regain a little more control. Yesterday, even though I wasn't finished with my work, I got up early and left for my Pilates class; when a coworker asked where I was going and why I was leaving early I said, "I'll finish my project tomorrow."

After Pilates, I stopped at the grocery store and picked up a few healthy items to make dinner for a few days; this morning, I had a chance to sleep in and tomorrow morning, I'll face the scale. No matter what it says, I'll pick myself up and move forward.

I realize I've probably jeopardized my goal of losing 15 pounds before New Year's...and that bothers me, but I will keep on plugging...who knows? Maybe the damage isn't as bad as I think (Or I'm just eternally optimistic)