The Failure Cycle

This started out as a very different post.

Initially, I was exercising my self-flagellation skills. I had a lousy week last week and wanted everyone to know it.

Then, about 250 words in, I realized something: No one wants to read this.

So I started over.

The Life Reset Button

You must understand, starting over represents a moral victory, for me.

My usual reaction to failure is not a healthy one: I get frustrated, decide that I can’t succeed, and quit.

I am not a good forward thinker. I am forever second-guessing my past decisions instead of planning new approaches. Lor refers to this phenomenon as “getting stuck.” I mentally chase my tail, trying to figure out what I did wrong, afraid to act again for fear of a second failure. So I end up not doing anything.

Well, that isn’t really the whole story. Actually, I used to think about my failure while over-eating comfort food and drinking beer. But, that isn’t really an option anymore, is it? Due to the whole “6-ounce stomach pouch” thing.

The hardest thing I am having to learn post-surgery is to let failures go.

If I have already blown it, I am no longer in a position to retrieve my failure. I have to accept it, try to learn from it, and do better next time. Just mash down that “reset” button, and head back the way I came, trying to figure out just where I went off the rails.

C.S Lewis said it best: “We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road.”

Moving Forward

So, what can I do in response to a week where I didn’t write, barely went to the gym, and made some pretty shaky dietary choices?

Nothing. Nada. Not a darn thing.

But, today is Monday. And today I can write my blog post, cook a healthy set of meals, and head back to the gym. And then I can set my sights on Tuesday.

It seems simplistic, but analyzing failure will only take you so far. At some point, you actually have to put yourself back in traffic and start doing again.

So, that is what I am going to do. No clever observations, no folksy words of wisdom today. Just get back on that horse and wait until the next time it throws me off. All I can hope for is that I go a little further before the next time I come crashing to the ground.

Our nutritionist, Patti, said it like this: “You are going to have good days and bad days. Just make sure that your good days outnumber the bad ones.”

Guess I need to start stringing together some good days, then. I am in a bit of a bad day deficit.

At Least I Lost A Pound Last Week,




The Slack Diet

I got up this morning just knowing that I had failed this week.
Our calorie numbers crept upwards all week long, with several days ending above 1,000 Calories. I didn’t get out and really exercise every day like I should. We slipped up on carb levels several days. I had a really bad experience with some chicken nuggets leading to 2 hours spent within 5 feet of my bathroom.
So, all things being equal, I just knew that today’s weigh-in would reflect my failures for the week. Instead of holding steady at 224 like I have for the past 3 weeks, I was going to have gained weight. I would be the first recorded example of a weight loss “honeymoon period” that lasted less than 3 months after surgery.
So, of course, when I weighed myself this morning, I came in at 221 pounds.
Isn’t it the damnedest thing? For weeks, you work your ass off, watch everything you eat, exercise religiously, and the scale won’t move.
Then you have a week where you blow the whole thing off, and you lose 3 pounds.
Makes you wonder about the “weight regulator” in your brain, really. Like, are you encouraging me to be a slacker? ‘Cause that is sure the impression I am getting here.
Yes, yes – I know. Changes in metabolic processing, serotonin levels, body adjusting to new intake levels being forced out of “Starvation Mode” – I get it. “Correlation does not imply causation” as the folks with pocket protectors and lots of letters after their names like to say: The fact that my weight loss re-started at the same time as I was peelin’ it does not mean that the two things are in any way related.
But, man, it sure feels that way. Maybe I should try the “lethargy diet” – sit at my desk playing World of Warcraft and eating ice cream for the next week, and see what the numbers look like. You know, for science.
Oh, right – honeymoon period. There is every reason to expect, now that the weight loss has fired up again, that I will lose weight lying on my back and eating Twinkies.
Damn. And it sounded like such a good plan, too.
But, in reality, there is nothing to do but buckle back down this week, hit the weights and the cardio religiously again, be more careful about our meal planning and execution. Get back on that horse and work on the plan we committed ourselves to.
But if I get to next Monday and hit another stall as a result of my “good behavior” I may just tear my hair out.
And I don’t have all that much hair left at this point.
Happy To Finally Be 80 Pounds Down,
– Hawkwind

The “Expanded” Menu

There has been quite a bit of discussion in our household over the past few weeks about the results of my surgery vs. the results of Lor’s. For the first two weeks post-surgery, Lor was unable to drink protein shakes consistently, had trouble staying hydrated, and was extremely uncomfortable. Heck, it took her three weeks of recovery before she was even able to finish a single container of yogurt.

I, on the other hand, have had no such restrictions. I was able to down a full yogurt container the day after I got home from the hospital. I am able to drink an entire water bottle in under 10 minutes (if I am not paying attention) without any discomfort. I even re-started several oral medications a few days early (with my surgical staff’s permission, mind you), again, without any kind of feeling of blockage.

Being myself, I developed a fabulous conspiracy theory: I had not actually undergone the surgery. They had just taken me back to the operating room, punched 5 holes in my abdomen, pumped me full of gas, and then left the OR for an early lunch. It was the only reasonable explanation for why I was having none of the diet-related side effects I had been warned about (and that Lor was experiencing.)

Silly conspiracy theories aside, it was obvious something was different between the two of us, so I went into yesterday’s appointment full of confidence and optimism. Maybe I wouldn’t even have to go through the soft foods phase since I was doing so well! They might put a little gold star on my chart and release me into the world of steak and lobster!

Turns out Dr. Tyner was not so impressed with my abilities to power through liquids like a boss. His theory was that I was being affected by luck, not extraordinary healing skills. People’s internal organs swell at a different rate post-surgery, and while he thought Lor had gone through a normal “swelling” phase, I had gone through a reduced amount of swelling, giving enough room in my innards for liquids to shoot right through the system, I was going to run into a serious roadblock the minute I tried solid foods, even soft ones.

I left the doctor’s office with the clearance to start on soft foods and a firm admonishment by our nutritionist to really bear down on protein intake – things had gone so easily for me up to this point, I was really going to have to change my thinking about intake. I left with my head held high, confident that my previous experience of the last 2 weeks was going to repeat itself, that no matter how much I ate, I would be able to handle it.

Turns out that there is a reason that I am not a doctor and Dr. Tyner is.

My first soft-foods meal, 2 tablespoons of scrambled eggs and ricotta, with a tablespoon of mashed banana, had the exact effect I anticipated – no problem ingesting, no feeling of fullness. I began to privately speculate about potentially ingesting more than the mandated “3 Tablespoon” meal size.

Then dinner arrived. 2 tablespoons of salmon, and 2 slices of avocado. I obeyed all the rules, putting the fork down between bites, chewing thoroughly, waiting at least a full minute between bites. I noticed immediately that the salmon had some texture and density to it that my first meal hadn’t. 2 Tablespoons took me over 20 minutes to eat. But I still wasn’t full! Gleefully, I dove into the avocado.

2 bites in, I suddenly had a problem. I literally felt as if someone had pushed a cork into my esophagus, right where it enters the stomach. I instantly was aware that, not only could I not have taken another bite, but it was going to take some serious focus to not revisit the last 20+ minutes worth of work heading the other direction. So, apparently, I had undergone the surgery after all. Bummer.

To complete my disheartening discoveries, I punched in my day’s intake into my Bariatastic app and found out some really bad news. My new “soft food” diet had resulted in only 35 grams of protein all day long. Epic fail.

I guess protein shakes and I haven’t broken up yet after all.

Not Entirely The Results I Was Looking For,

– Hawkwind

Fear of Failure at the Finish Line

Photo Credit: schiiiinken via Compfight cc

After another grueling 8 hours across the desert (including 4 different multiple-mile construction zones) we have returned home. Arizona is safely behind us, and we will not return until the average temperature drops 20 degrees.

At least.

An interesting (and discouraging) shift took place while we were there, though. Throughout the process of switching to a low-carb diet, I have rarely actually been hungry. Even the first 6 days of the liquid diet didn’t make me hungry – just cranky and stupid. Oh, I have had cravings, of course. But real, live hunger? That had not been an issue.

Until our first day in Tucson.

Since our arrival there 5 days ago I have been ravenous. I have never been closer to breaking diet protocol than I am right now. I am so ready to throw it all away so I can go have a waffle. Topped with blueberries and whipped cream. With 6 fried eggs, and maybe 12 pieces of sausage. And a cheeseburger for dessert. That kind of hunger. My stomach has literally hurt constantly for 5 days straight.

This is not only discouraging, it is frightening as well. I am afraid of “falling off the wagon” and eating so much that I regain enough to disqualify myself for surgery. (Not sure how I would regain 53 pounds in 4 days, but who said fear is rational?) I fear sneaking out behind Lor’s back to go binge somewhere and then lying about it when I return home – you know, addict behavior. I am even afraid to be in proximity to pretty much any “real” food right now. When Lor threw away half a boiled egg last night that she couldn’t finish, I almost cried.

The real fear, though, is what happens after surgery? I know that removing the greater curvature of the stomach takes with it the majority of the ability to produce ghrelin – the hormone responsible for hunger. But I can’t wrap my head around how that will feel right now. My biggest fear is that I am going to come out of surgery and feel exactly the way I feel right now – that my whole life post-surgery is going to be a constant, gnawing hunger that I am fighting off 100% of the time. I know myself well enough to know that I won’t succeed in that case. And then all this, including having the majority of one of my major organs removed, will have been for nothing.

Lor keeps trying to encourage me, pointing out the fact that I have been taking in only 600 calories (plus or minus) a day while expending more than 3000 a day in moving activities every day that I have felt this way. I am difficult to encourage. I just know that I have 4 days left until surgery, and I don’t want to fall flat on my face, here within sight of the finish line.

87 hours until I cease eating entirely for surgery prep (at 10 pm on Sunday). Wish me luck in keeping the faith until then.

Dying For A Quarter Pounder,

– Hawkwind

Slow And Steady Wins The Race

Photo Credit: Antonio Ciriello via Compfight cc

It is a story most of us heard growing up. The slow and patient turtle wins a race against the quick and agile bunny by virtue of putting his head down and continuing to keep moving while the bunny screws off doing a multitude of things that are not related to winning the race. While I always questioned why the bunny didn’t finish the race first and then go amuse himself, the example holds true even today, in our pursuit of long-term weight loss.

Consider this: this is not my first rodeo when it comes to trying to lose weight. I have tried Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Atkins and a version of Paleo (back when it was still called “The Caveman Diet”.) I was always able to lose 10 – 20 pounds fast. After that: nothing. I would then embrace my guiding philosophy: “If at first you don’t succeed, quit.” Needless to say, the weight instantly returned.

Now, making dietary and lifestyle changes in preparation for bariatric surgery, we have had more success that ever before, mainly due to the slower speed of our weight loss. Lor’s sudden weight loss spike since her surgery notwithstanding, we have actually been  maintaining a pretty decent rate of “healthy body recovery” (also known as “weight loss”.) It has been 22 weeks since we started this process with my terrifying discovery that I weighed over 300 pounds back on February 2. As I mentioned yesterday, as of this week we have collectively lost 100 pounds. Do a little math (something like 100 divided by 22 weeks then further divided by 2 people) and it turns out that we have been losing, on average 2.27 pounds a week. According to the CDC, this number falls right into the “healthy weight loss” category.

Other demonstrations of “slow and steady” progress? Back in February, it took me around 25 minutes to walk .44 miles a day (the exact mileage of walking the dog around the block one time.) This would leave me covered in sweat, gasping for air, and exhausted for the rest of the evening. Today, in 45 minutes, I can cover 2 miles. The runners among you may be chuckling at this “mile every 22 minutes” speed, but remember:  back in February I was managing the brisk pace of 1.05 miles per hour. 4 months later I am almost up to the average human walking speed of 3 miles an hour. As far as the 45 minutes goes – that is as far as Vixen’s furry little legs will take her. We have discussed, once Lor is back in fighting trim, hauling the dog once around the block, then dropping her off at the house and walking another 45 minutes or so, to get in a full hour of walking a day.

Our walking speed should also increase from not having to stop while Vixen sniffs every bush, bag, and foreign object that looks like it might be edible.

Even Misdirected is showing the results of slow and steady. Maintaining a posting schedule of 4 posts a week, every week, we have grown from about 20 occasional readers to almost 50 daily readers. We will occasionally have really big spikes (like the day of Lor’s surgery), but nearly 50 people are checking in on a daily basis to see what is happening here. This is with no marketing as such – any readership increases are coming strictly by word of mouth, people sharing the fact that there is some dude talking about him and his wife going through bariatric surgery.

Patience has not been my strong point over the years. But, maybe, learning to re-adjust to a changing body and diet is what it takes to learn to wait for other positive changes in life. Maybe this is a sign of developing maturity and spiritual awareness?

Nah. I still hate driving in the slow lane.

At Least I Passed That Lazy Bunny,

– Hawkwind