My Journey to Phase 4

imageThe journey isn’t over when you reach goal. It’s just Phase 4!
I’ve identified my whole life as the “fat girl”. When I was 8 years old, I joined weight watchers. That’s right EIGHT YEARS OLD. I come from a long line of alcoholics who also happened to be some of the best chefs in the world. (Seriously, the guys in my family are predominately chefs.) So, not only do I have the addiction component, but I have amazing tasting therapy to fuel the addiction. And food isn’t something you can quit cold turkey (tried that too!)
Fat children shop in the “hefty” section. (Could they not have come up with a better name?) And fat teens just go to the adult section. When I was 12 years old, I was wearing a woman’s size 12 pants, uncomfortably. I had three brothers (all skinny) one sister (also skinny) and a Mom and Dad who loved us all very much. I played volleyball, and I was pretty good at it, but because I was overweight it hurt. Everything hurt, so I spent a lot of my childhood watching.
Enter my teenage years, and I had a ton of friends. I had a core group of friends, and felt a sense of belonging. I didn’t know I was different, other than the fact that I could not exchange clothes with the rest of them. I was in the school plays, I always played the Mom. I sang in the choir (standing behind as many people as I could) and I joined all kinds of groups. I saw a nutritionist, who put me on a no white food diet, a doctor who put me on a grapefruit diet, one that put me on the cabbage soup diet, and for about 3 weeks gave up eating anything but water and a little chicken. I graduated from high school standing at 5’6” and weighing 184.
Then college, and work life. I got a little taller, tried a few more diets (Jenny Craig, Nutri-System, Weight Watchers, Atkins to name a few), met someone I thought would be my answer, and married him. He was not the gift I thought he was, and I was not the tower of strength he thought I would be. We ended up divorced after 6 years, and I was left alone in a city far away from home weighing 311 and not really sure how all those diets had failed. I qualified and had gastric bypass (Roux-en-Y) in April of 2004. I lost 140 pounds in 2 years. Life was good. And then, it just wasn’t. My body started to hurt, I had a ton of stress, and I was taking care of everybody. My father died, and had a Mom who needed me, a family who couldn’t seem to plan a family dinner without me, friends who were in need of help, a job that took 16 hours a day, and pets that needed walking. There was always something. Next thing I knew, I had found 40 pounds that I had already lost forever. WHAT THE HECK???
And yet, I didn’t change. So, what made me change? I went on a trip to Boston. My leg was in a cast (My tendons have calcified, my joints are disintegrating from years of abuse.) I could barely walk from the pain in my leg, and the breath I couldn’t catch. I felt like I was suffocating, and that I had failed myself. I cried a lot, and ate even more to compensate from the pain and frustration. I was angry at those around me for making me walk, making me move, and not seeing/caring how much pain I was in. I was standing in Alumni Stadium watching a football game between Boston College and USC (the reason we were there in the first place) in the pouring rain, and feeling alone. And something broke. Deep inside. There wasn’t a cab who could get closer than 2 miles, and I couldn’t walk that far. I couldn’t climb the stairs to get to the people I knew. I was stuck. There were thousands of people around, and the claustrophobia became over
whelming. I was stuck. No food could get me out of this or even comfort me. I was STUCK. And I was broken. Physically and mentally broken.
The next day, I flew home. I called my doctor in tears. I need help. I am broken, and I can’t fix this myself. I went to counseling, her response was you need to go on a diet. REALLY??? That much I can figure out! I know how to diet. I also know diets make you gain weight. No thanks. I went back to my doctor, please I need help. She and I researched options together (did I mention I LOVE my doctor.) We found Ideal Protein and began my journey. I could have just done a shake three times a day, simple protein and a salad, but this time needed to be different. This isn’t a diet, it needed to be a way of life. I needed to change the way I look at food. Remember, I grew up a foodie… I need to learn how to make food my friend, and NOT my life.
Something to know about me: I love lists. They help me be prepared without the stress of trying to figure out what to do next. I highly recommend if you are trying to make changes, you begin with a list. I made a few lists that first day.
• A list of goals
• A list of foods that were important to me
• A list of rewards (non-monetary.)
• A list of resources.
In my list of goals, I decided that numbers on the scale were one goal, not the whole picture. I wanted out of that cast! And as one want was written on that paper, millions more came flooding in. Things I was AFRAID to put down on that paper.
And something clicked. I wasn’t stuck anymore. I had hope, I had a plan, and it had NOTHING to do with the number on the scale!!!!!!!!
I would love to say the pounds just melted off. But they didn’t. I would love to say that it was easy, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t hard either. It just happened… I made food out of the packages, I figured out how to enjoy what I was eating. One day I woke up, and I was at goal. Still not entirely sure how 7 months disappeared. But I was heading to Hawaii for vacation, and I was under the goal weight and on phase 2. Funny, I see all these posts about how they can’t wait to eat this, have the glass of wine, or enjoy this splurge when you get to goal. I never once strayed from protocol in the 7 months I was in phase 1, I sure as heck wasn’t going to quit now. Too much fun enjoying life. So I stuck to my guns, came home from Hawaii 5 pounds less in 10 days (Hello bikini on the beach, for the first time ever). I went through phase 2 and 3, lost a few more pounds, and went to phase 4.
Oh hell… what do you mean Splurge meal? The very thought terrified me… It took me 3 weeks to work up the courage to have a splurge meal. Whatever I wanted… and I didn’t even know what that might be. I finally gave in and ate my meal (a Po’boy and French fries), and freaked out. I felt sick to my stomach, the guilt, the grease, the sugar… who knows… but I told myself, this is real life, and you just eat something you know your body likes for the next few meals, and don’t stress on it. I was up the next morning by a pound, gave myself the same speech, had a healthy breakfast (I had a shake, because I know my body is good with it) and low and behold, that pound was gone. GONE…
I am now 4 months into maintenance. I have found for me that a day of cheating is like opening a bag of potato chips… you can’t stop. But, telling myself I can have one cheat meal, twice a week, followed by a single day of phase 1 protocol, I am golden. This blog will be to share my meals, my tips, my success, my fears, and my journey. I have made a choice to not focus on the diet because diets don’t work for me. You will see I use the word protocol. It gives me a way to judge where I am at in my head. Phase 1 protocol, I need to be very tough and stringent because I am exerting control over something. Phase 2, mischief is managed. Phase 3, life is good but I am still vigilant. Phase 4, Life is being lived. I eat what I want, when I want, and hold myself accountable. Follow my blog, you will see the struggle is real. The journey isn’t over when you reach goal. It’s just Phase 4!

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