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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Eight Years: Eight Lessons

This is an article from the You Have Arrived Newsletter (September 13, 2007) which marks my 8 year Arrivalversary. I am sharing it here for those who may not receive the Newsletter.

1. The tool requires maintenance. Just like a saw blade that needs sharpening, so does the weight loss surgery tool require maintenance. For me that means daily feedings of vitamins, copious water consumption, eating appropriate foods and a healthy dose of daily exercise. In addition, my maintenance plan includes an occasional 5 Day Pouch Test to give the tummy a break and remind me (and it) how it is supposed to work. Without maintenance the tool becomes worn down by use and occasional abuse. Maintenance keeps it in tip-top shape so that it may function in the way it was intended.

2. Even though my weight is fairly consistent I occasionally measure some of my personal self-worth by the size of my clothes or the number on the scale. I counsel others not to do this and speak of positive affirmations that celebrate each of us as whole beings. Yet occasionally I find my spirit lifted or diminished based solely on the size of my body. And I have decided this is OK because the ebb and flow of personal perception is what makes us, each of us, beautiful and unique individuals.

3. The same eating plan that helped me lose weight is most effective for weight maintenance. In the course of 8 years I've gone through phases of tweaking the post-WLS diet: adding grains or extra veggies or "healthy" sweets. Nothing works as well for weight maintenance as the basic weight loss surgery diet of lean-clean protein, light sauces, minimal veggies and fruits and no starches. I accept this and finally understand that the Four Rules are indeed for life. Finally accepting this is like the moment when Dorothy, wearing her ruby slippers, realizes she has had the power to go home all along.

Kaye's Regular Eating Plan

4. It is far easier to fall off-track than it is to get back on track. I have said it before: Nobody wakes up to say, "Today is the day I will fall off track." It happens quickly and often without notice for a variety of reasons. Getting back on track requires a deliberate plan and firm commitment. A support network is useful when trying to regain control of a the WLS tool and way of life.

5. There are some people in my life who I prefer do not know that I was once morbidly obese. To me this feels hypocritical and is reminiscent of the shame I felt when I was fat. As an overweight child I recall believing that being fat made me a bad and undesirable person. Perhaps it is this insecurity that makes me want to keep secret my obese past because I do not want to be judged bad or undesirable. I am working to accept this insecurity because I believe it allows me to have deep empathy and compassion for others. However, I'm still not quite comfortable whipping out a before picture and saying, "Do you want to see how huge I used to be?"

6. Though I consider myself fiercely independent I need support in life and in the weight loss surgery experience. For the first several years of my journey I traveled alone, save it for the kindness and support of my husband. The evolution of the LAWLS Neighborhood has given me the strength and power of many. I never need to feel alone and lost again. My dream is that no one will ever feel lost and alone with weight loss surgery.

7. There are days when I resent the hell out of my tool. I get tired of being concerned about what I need to eat and bored with eating the safe foods. I get hungry for old favorites that now do not agree with me. And once in a while I simply miss gluttony. These days pass, but they do exist. On most days I am forever grateful for my tool and my healthy life, but once in a while I'd like to shut-off the tool and go crazy with a hot fudge brownie sundae. Fortunately, fear keeps me in check.

8. If I had it to do over again I would take the same path I have traveled the last eight years. Surgical weight loss is not the easy way out and I expect in the next eight years I will face more challenges and learn more lessons as I continue to learn my tool. I wouldn't trade this last eight years for anything. I've learned to be healthy and learned to be confident. The struggles have been many but are far outnumbered by the successes and celebrations. I am grateful for this new life; I am grateful that I have arrived.

Thank you for celebrating this special day with me.

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