Wednesday, September 2, 2009

When there is no finish line

I've been exercising daily.... and it feels incredible. Like I have control over my body... It sounds bizarre, but before I started this program, it was like I had no control over my eating habits. I would literally "find" myself driving to McDonald's with huge orders, acting like the food was not all for me. This would always leave me feeling sick and tired... yet the addiction was so strong... it didn't matter. I was so unhappy with my body that I could not even look in the mirror. Nobody should have to live like that. Yet, I would turn around and cope more with food... creating a very vicious cycle. Food addiction is real.

Each night, walking to the bathroom, I would wonder why I ate so much that day. It was like I just knew I was going to mess up. I never really held myself to any kind of standard with sticking to a plan, so I just gave up trying.

I still think about food a lot, but at least it's to the degree that I can control my eating. I was actually considering weight loss surgery (and had the BMI to do so). I'm extremely happy that I did not make this decision... but really, I considered it and thought it was the only way "out" of my morbidly obese body.

My brother, who is an RN, really did not think that surgery was a good option for me, as he has personally seen the struggles one goes through with an option like this. This is not about weight loss surgery... I actually commend and admire those courageous enough to take this desperate step to regain their health. For many, it IS necessary. My ex boyfriend at the time was also against it. He performs sleep studies and said that I was "not big enough" for surgery... as he gives sleep studies to people before they have it. He also told me something that I still hold with me to this day.

"Angela, I won't love you any more if you have this surgery," is what he said. I didn't realize until he said this that maybe that was what I was after... anyway. Thankfully, I lost my dad's incredible health insurance when I got my Bachelor's degree, so no surgery for me.

I've been "big" since as long as I can remember. From my school pictures, first grade seems to be the year that I really started to balloon. I must mention, in kindergarten, my dad would pick me up from school and we would (always) stop and get a Happy Meal. He never would get anything... he would just come back home and sleep while I munched my meal down. See, he worked third shift at the prison and so he slept during the day while my three older brothers were at school and my mom was at work. Sometimes, after my "happy" meal... I would find myself "hungry" (read: craving carbs), so I would snack on plain white Wonder bread. That year started my carbohydrate addiction. My parents soon divorced, and I turned to food for comfort.

I tried low-fat (unsuccessfully) several times in high school, consuming white bread with jelly for breakfast and whole bowls of minute rice with fat-free butter, thinking I was doing "good." I liked the idea of low-fat because I was never much of a meat eater anyway... and bread was my FAVORITE. I was entirely convinced that low-fat was the way to go... but I knew that for some reason, I could not stick to it. Now, I understand that my body was not getting the nutrition it needed, which left me constantly hungry for real food.

I just want you to know, my food addiction was serious. My legs could literally not support my growing, large body. In sixth grade, I had such severe knock-knees that they required surgery. Experimental surgery, we later found out. I had both knees operated on over the next year... My doctor performed my left knee surgery too early, resulting in an over-correction my leg. It swung too far the other way. Luckily, he operated on my right knee just at the right time (miraculously). See, my surgeon (and I'm using that term loosely) did not have any clue I would grow to be 5'10,'' so he did my left knee surgery too early.

After this orthopaedic pediatric surgeon was done, I was left with an arthritic, degenerative knee and a one-inch leg length discrepancy, which has caused major issues with my back and will surely cause hip issues. Thankfully, I have an amazing chiropractor who beats me up when I need it. I have issues with this orthopaedic pediatric surgeon (again, using this term very loosely), clearly, but it was really a surgery I needed. I just wish he would have done the proper wrist x-ray to see how long my growth portion was. It's a simple chart. Of course, most people don't grow so tall, but my whole family is tall!

The reason for my surgery was knock-knees... but really, the reason was obesity. What caused my obesity was my large consumption of carbohydrates. I'm just saying, this disease/ailment/whatever you want to call it... obesity... has taken enough of my health and beaten up my body enough. I will not be a victim of it anymore. Being a victim may be fun at time time, but it gives you no power and ultimately... screws you over.

I've already had a botched surgery (weight-related)... so I'm not really the type to think of surgery as a way to fix anything. I know it does work, and I know I need a lot more... but it really just freaks me out. During my second surgery, I actually woke up on the operating table... I do not have any memory of this, but the anesthesiologist had all kinds of questions for me when I woke up, like do I sleepwalk. Why, yes, I do... He said that my body does not go into paralysis when it should. They told me I ripped my IV's out and was kicking and screaming... I do NOT remember this, but I'm sure it was horrific. I woke up with my IV in a different place, and I asked about it.

Anyway, I can't look back. I do not feel sorry for myself. In fact, I feel such little knee pain now. I went to a surgeon when I was 21, six years ago, and I was shocked at the x-rays. The doctor who screwed up my left knee in the first place did not even tell me that when he went to take out my staples in my knee, he did not even get them out. Might have been nice to mention that. Imagine my surprise when I saw my x-rays with all the staples! I'm sure he charged the insurance company properly to remove them... Can you tell I'm bitter?

To get on with it, the second surgeon had no idea about what to do... he was talking about taking out wedge of a bone here and there to make my legs the same length. I told him that I was not as worried about the length of my legs (as I have a one inch lift on my shoe anyway), but I was more worried about the functionality of my knee. He even told me he was clueless and wanted to consult a friend of his... I actually appreciated that.

"What if I don't get surgery at all?" I asked.

"Well, then you won't have a knee at all," he chuckled. Now, I'm just as sarcastic as the next person, but this guy's sense of humor left a lot to be desired.

He told me that I would be looking at a knee replacement when I turn 40, so I asked him, why not replace it now? He told me that my knee was too deformed for a knee replacement and I would need several surgeries just to prepare for that. I ran out of that office and haven't looked back. I was not even in (any) pain six years ago... so why was he wanting to cut me up? Oh yeah... you only go to a surgeon for surgery.... just like you go to the barber shop for a haircut!

Since my mother is an amputee, I see first-hand that our limbs are not immortal. Anyway, I did take one piece of his advice seriously.

"If you really want to help yourself, lose weight," he said bluntly and disappeared.

By then I knew I was a carbohydrate addict, and I went on a plan called the Carbohydrate Addict's Diet, where I lost 65 lbs in 8 months. However, I basically just binged every night and it was not healthy for me. I really wasn't following it properly because I never ate salad with dinner like they recommend. Needless to say, since it was not a lifestyle change, I just eventually gained (nearly) every pound back.

This is why I no longer even really care how long it takes me to lose my weight. I mean, there is to end to low-carb for me. When people ask me how long it will take them to lose x amount of pounds doing Atkins, I just have to laugh... because if you want to maintain any kind of weight loss... then there is no finish line.

In the past six years, I've restarted Atkins, sometimes several times per week. I think of all those false attempts as learning experiences where I learned great recipes, great tips, etc. I just wasn't ready yet. Oh, and it's all psychological for me, despite me going on and on about my physical symptoms of obesity. I just want you to know that no matter how desperate of a situation you are in... it can be turned around. I'm 19.4 lbs away from my lowest adult weight and I can't wait!

It totally breaks my heart to see youngsters with knock knees like I had. I saw this Tyra show where this one 13 year old girl reminded me of myself... with her knock-knees... and it was very upsetting. Parents need to get real and quit abusing their children with food, acting like they are "treating" them to something. To quote Jackie Guerra, "[The parents] are sentencing their children to a lifetime in fat prison for a crime they didn't commit. "

Do I personally blame my parents? Goodness, no. My mom fed us grilled food every night... She just didn't realize how horrible the Rice a Roni and bread was for us... and I always ate seconds if not thirds of these options. In fact, many nights, I would skip the meat altogether.

So, if you wonder why I'm so serious about this... I have a lot at stake. The good news is, I'm turning it all around. I would say, see you at the finish line... but we all know there is none. So, let's enjoy this marathon together!


  1. Love the blog! Great job on losing the weight!!

  2. WOW...Angie, what an inspiring and AMAZING person you are!! Love your post and so very true, there is no finish line only a marathon and I will join you in it!! see you along the way...I will follow..

  3. Good for you Angie! I think the real secrect to weight loss (besides low-carb!) is an attitude adjustment. I have a friend who is very overweight, who had lapband surgery last January, who is angry with his doctors because he's not losing much weight. He really hasn't changed his eating or drinking (alcohol) habits at all. He's seen my 80 pound loss with Atkins, he's talked to me about it, I've told him what he needs to do, Atkins or otherwise, and he continues the way he is. He needs to change his attitude big time, or it won't happen. So, good for you (and me!) we have cracked that particular code!

  4. No only can you do this, but you shall.