Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Discussing scales and regain

This was a post on ObesityHelp.com that I answered and I'd love to share my response because I think it helps to share real stuff and real answers. I hope you'll see something you can relate to.

Here's the original post:

For those of you who had RNY, are past your “honeymoon" stage, and are now sailing smoothly, not struggling or falling back into your obese lifestyle, what personality shift did you make that helped you become a long term success. I don’t mean the golden standards like keep a food diary, drink all your water (sip, sip, sip), or get regular exercise, not the habits you changed. I mean the head stuff, the light bulb moment, the trigger that made you do turn around and say I’m not doing this anymore and I’m not looking back.

This is what I shared:

I will be 9 years out next week. I don't think I would call it smooth sailing but more a comparison to the "regular" people you know that are constantly fighting that 5-10 pounds. The thing that works for me is changing my relationship with food. It is fuel and no longer "sex in a plate". I have discovered so many wonderful other things in life that I can take part in now that I couldn't before. I am hyper aware that if I eat things that are bad for me that I will only experience a momentary time of pleasure followed by self loathing and then a need to eat again to self medicate the pain away for beating myself up. I actually don't keep a food diary. My food diary is the scales. Every morning I check to see where I am and I do damage control when I go over the magic number and fix it while it's small. It is a black and white thing....no "I'll wait until tomorrow". I fix it then and when I get back under that number I just eat carefully but I don't journal or count calories. Let me state that this is my way. I also don't eat more than 8 grams of sugar and I totally believe that the way to stop cravings is to stop eating the things you don't want to crave. I spent years trying to stop drinking Coke and couldn't but after surgery I had to. I don't even remember what it tastes like. If you stop doing certain foods you will forget the cravings. I am not suggesting that you go in a bakery and press your face in freshly baked bread that you won't get some euphoric recall so I don't do that. There's a great saying "If you hang around a barbershop, eventually you'll get a hair cut". Keep yourself away from things and triggers that will tempt you.The other way I keep it fresh in my mind is that every morning I seriously concentrate on my before picture that was taken the night before surgery. I remind myself just how miserable I was and how much I don't want to go back under any circumstances. I don't ever want to take for granted the little things that I wanted so badly. As long as I am vigilant about doing that damage control while the problem is small, I can handle what comes my way.

This picture was taken the night before surgery. I was the happiest 260 pound woman on earth because I had hope for the first time in 30 years.

I would rather be doing these things.

She then responded that she liked the concept of doing damage control early on and I continued with this:

That's one of the reasons I very carefully stated "this is my way". I was told once that someone considered getting on the scale every day made us a prisoner to our scale. I only do it in the morning and once a day. I record it on my daily calendar on my iPhone. I visualize what I expect to see and I'm very nearly right every day. I then forget the scale and my weight until the next morning. I don't look at it as the scale ruling my world. I use it as a measurement to keep me in line. I could gain 5 plus pounds in a week. 5 pounds is more difficult to fix than 2 or 3. I don't freak out, I just fix it. If I don't weigh I would be more likely to worry about what it is. Knowledge is power. Worrying about what "might be" is more damaging for me. Dealing face on with "what is" is far easier for me and it makes me accountable.

I was listening to a bariatric surgeon speak a few years ago and he was talking about post-ops needing to keep food journals and emotional journals (write down what they were feeling before they ate the wrong things) and many other things. Later on he was asked how he stayed thin and he said he got on the scales every morning and adjusted his activities for the day when he went over his weight he wanted to be. I immediately questioned why we couldn't be the same...just be a normal person that maintains their weight. For me the scales are my friend and knowing where we are is called feedback. How do you solve a problem if you don't know all the information involved?

If you are a person that doesn't care about a 20 pound difference you will not need to check that often. Sometimes men are that way. Many women care very deeply about 20 pounds. If you are the type that is deeply affected by 10 or 20 pounds, it is very important to check your progress and do the damage control or else it will eat you alive and it seeps into every area of your life. I call that "regain strain" or "looking at everything through regain glasses". I don't want to write a novel here but you have to find what works for you. I just know that the majority of successful post-ops have some things in common and one of them is doing damage control on the small regain. Please let me know if I can help any further OK? hugs, Y