Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Hundred Pound Party!

Jackie is on a cruise down western Mexico and I was trying to put in my "100 pound party" picture, but I got this one, oh well, this is my first attempt to try putting in pictures and words by myself. Ah! so techno-illiterate, but learning step by step. On January 17th I broke 225 (sort of) and weighed 225.4 and for the past month I have been trying to get to 225.0 but ironically I hit 224.4 on February 7th so basically it has taken me a month to lose one pound, but at least it is going down and I am fluctuating around 225 which gives me joy to know that I have definitely made it over the 3-digit hump. I decided to celebrate by taking two large buckets of mints to Gold's Gym and my before and current picture with the comment, "Welcome to my FIRST 100 pound party" I've lost a mint, so take a mint! People look at me and say, "you don't have another 100 pounds to lose," but I assure them that my 2011 goal is to lose 75 pounds and get to 150 by Christmas. Well see how it goes! I will write more later, but for now, I'm in the over a hundred pound weight loss, so here's my celebration! YAHOO!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

To Die or Not to Die, that is the question?

The first of November I was working towards a monumental goal: 40 BMI. For people who are not conversant with that term, your Body Mass Index is based on your weight and your height and anything over 40 BMI is considered morbidly obese. For me the scale had to read 233, not 233.2 but 233 to be just plain obese, so on November 2nd I weighed 234. For several days, I would sniff my goal and inch closer and closer to my goal, but it kept eluding me. On the 15th of November, I weighed 233.2, but the very next day, I scored! And weighed 232.4! Yeah! I’m obese! But the next day, I went up to morbid, and for three weeks I have been fluctuating between death and plain fat, but today, December 10, 2010, I think I have turned the corner for good. I have lost 95 pounds and weigh 230. This is an important milestone or “pound”stone because it was a year ago that I was preparing to have bariatric surgery. I was determined to lose the 10 pounds before surgery so my liver wouldn’t get in the way and I was hoping that this last ditch effort would turn the tide in my constant battle of the bulge. It has been a year now since I received insurance approval for my lap-band and next Friday will be the first anniversary of my surgery. I am hoping that before the year is out, I will have reached that magical three-digit goal of losing 100 pounds! For me a hundred pounds is monumental. It means I am halfway to my ultimate weight-loss goal. I have lost a third of myself and I am no longer in the double digits of weight loss. I have never lost 100 pounds in one chunk. I have lost the same 10 pounds a hundred times or more but this has given me incredible hope that I will make all the goals I have set for myself. I have lost “Alexa” aka 235 was my pre-pregnant weight with Alexa, and now I am headed towards “Stephanie” namely 215 and then Jackie, 185 and another 25 pounds to get to my pre-pregnant weight with David. My doctor and his nurse are both very pleased with my weight loss and told me that usually lap-banders only lose 50-60 pounds after the first year of surgery. I told Dr. Clinch that I was determined to lose 100 pounds and he said, “90 is good!” But I said, “100 is better!” After 25 years of trying to lose my “babies’ fat” I believe that 2011 will be the year to get back my body. It is getting back my body that has made me ponder on truths that I didn’t understand, comprehend, believe, or even think about. And for lack of a better name, I call it is “The doctrine of ‘the body.’”

We came to earth to get a body. If that were the whole purpose of earth, we all could have just been born and died seconds later—we just would have had to have had one committed mom who would have kept pushing out babies. But I think there is more to understanding the purpose of this body than just to be clothed in a mortal tabernacle, I believe it is what we do with this mortal tabernacle that sets us apart. In a sense, I believe that the Parable of the Talents should be renamed, The Parable of the Body. In the parable there are three servants or “slaves” may be a better translation who were given 5, 2, and 1 talents
Matthew 25: 14-30
For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. and unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Here’s another way of looking at it, the Lord gave “every man according to his several ability.” In D&C 46 it says that everyone has a gift. And in this parable it says that every man gets something. The one thing we all have in common is that when we came to this earth we all got bodies. So what if this body is our talent. The fact that the first one got “five talents” or what could be said another way, “five senses.” With those senses he was able to enlarge upon his gifts and add additional insights, SENSItivities, or skills. I think of how meditation is one common denominator to all religions. We take time to ponder, to think, to meditate and commune with God. He enlarges our sensitivities to the spirit as we ponder. The more we try to listen to our body, the more at one we become with our spirit and our body. I have read how when we are born our brains can connect to many different nerve endings, but as we grow older the “juice” that enables these connections and helps us to learn and remember diminishes and we become more set in our ways and in our mid-twenties the connections are basically “soldered” and we discard connections we weren’t using. That is why chickens are pretty much up and moving as soon as they can, while baby crows take more time to develop. Higher intelligence brains need the flexibility or the risk factor to help develop imagination later on. We need both, both the flexibility and somewhat recklessness of our youth to come to wisdom in our fifties. Unfortunately, some of that recklessness we had in our youth damages our brains so much that we never get to that place where wisdom can develop. So in a sense we “bury” our talent through addictions, drugs, food, alcohol, video-gaming, pornography, whatever deadens the brain and body from sensitivity. But ultimately, we are to learn from our bodies. It is not enough just to learn how to walk and talk, but how to communicate body to spirit.

This parable has always upset me just a bit. Why was the one with one talent so castigated and cast out to outer darkness, while the one who earned 10 talents gets another talent. It didn’t make sense that a loving and kind “Lord” wouldn’t want all his children to enjoy the talent no matter what they did with it. Why did he want the one talent servant to “put his ‘money’” to work? But if you realize how important a body is, then it makes more sense. I admit that throughout my lifetime I have not appreciated and cherished my body. There have been many times when I have hated my body. I think Satan wants us to hate our bodies. I think he wants us to denigrate, destroy, and dismiss the importance of a body. He hates us because we have a body and he doesn’t; and so he is trying to convince us how unimportant and unnecessary a body is. But recently, I have thought about how we “remember the body of Jesus Christ.” Why? Why remember His body? Why not focus on His atonement or His loving-kindness or forgiveness, why remember the body? Joseph Smith when he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ said that their bodies defied all description, that they were brighter than the noonday sun, and they emanated light. How did that happen? How did the body become transparent and glorified? Their bodies were urim and thummins, lights and perfections. I think it was magnifying their talents while here on earth. When the one talent servant didn’t appreciate his body, when he degraded it and ended up burying it in an early grave, the whole purpose of this earth life was frustrated. He was supposed to learn from his body, grow and develop and make his “talent” something more and if he had used his body instead of abusing it, then he would have received some maturity and wisdom as he got older, but he didn’t. He “dissed” his body and buried his body and when the resurrection came, there was nothing to fill with glory, no light, but just ingratitude for a gift that had eternal consequences. I think that is why the “lord” is so disappointed with his servant. He knew that if he had just allowed the natural course of growth and development to occur he could have gained wisdom, he could have made more out of this earth experience, but instead he buried it.

As I have been going through my metamorphosis with my body, I have come to appreciate how important the learning is we are gaining from this body. There is a need for our body to degenerate. It is a part of life’s experience. In a way, our lifetime is like a chiasm. Our learning curve spans from infancy to senility, and our greatest understanding and growth arrives around our midlife crises. During our lifetime, we undergo experiences that heighten our understanding and appreciation for this gift or talent. My father always said that you never really appreciate something until you lose it. The one-talent servant never really appreciated his talent until it was given to another and he was cast out. He had made a big mistake. I am coming to value and appreciate more and more the marvels of the body and spirit connection. I have come to see that as I shed the weight, there is a different person inside. And I’m coming to like that person more and more. I believe that I am killing off the natural or the fat part of my life and coming to the light. My body is shining forth and as I communicate with it more and more, it gives me great light and truths.

:;Alexa's note:: MOM IS SOOOOOO TINY!!! This picture was taken from Alexa's phone so sorry it may be a little blurry, but still you get the image that she is has gotten so tiny! Also when I got home I could wrap my arms around you and squeeze her! Even if you say that "a picture adds 10 pounds" well mom has lost almost 100 pounds! you go! I love you! ::End of Alexa's note::

Friday, October 1, 2010

Communicating Body To Spirit

When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings

Shakespeare, Sonnet 29

There is some speculation that prior to coming to Earth, God informed us of the trials and problems we would carry in this life. Some have suggested that we were given a choice to carry the burden God designed specifically for us or pick up another’s “thorn in the flesh.” After looking around at everyone else’s burden, we all ended back with the original trial God gave us to carry. In my mind’s eye, I can see God saying, “Marilyn, you’re trial will be that you will be fat.” And I said, “fat? Fat?? I’m going to be fat? While others are paraplegic, blind, mentally challenged, starved, poverty-stricken, diseased, or abused, I will be fat? Yippee, I vote for FAT!” I have voiced this scenario several times to friends in a comic relief way, but several years ago, I thought, “And Marilyn, how are you doing with your challenge? What have you done with the “one talent” God gave you? Have you overcome it? Have you learned from it?”

Several years ago I went to a kinesiologist with the burning question, “Why can’t I lose weight?” I felt I was exercising, eating right, and every time I would lose 30-40 pounds I would boomerang right back up and even higher. Why couldn’t I lose weight? She translated what my body wanted to tell me and that was that I wasn’t listening to my body! I was having a “hate-frustration” relationship with my body. My body was upset that I wasn’t listening to it, so it made me fat. As ridiculous as it may sound, I could see my body’s point of view. I was only focusing on the one thing I hated about my body, but I wasn’t appreciating it for all the things it could do. I thought here I have been griping about being overweight while my body is pretty remarkable for all the abuse I have put it through. I remember one day Rob said, “If I weighed as much as you do, I’d be dead!” And I thought, “Yup, you would be.” He has high blood pressure, vaso-vagal, wears glasses, and takes medication. Whereas, I’m almost 58 years old and I don’t take any medication. My good cholesterol is high, the bad is low, I’m not diabetic, have a great heart, 117 over 58 blood pressure, I have very little gray hair, great teeth, can still read without glasses and as my doctor said once, “You’re vanilla; there’s nothing remarkably “sick” about you; you’re like a cockroach in a nuclear war, you will survive.” So why wasn’t I grateful? Why wasn’t I listening to my body?

It comes back to the “trials” of life. God gives us experiences so that we can become “better” people not “bitter.” I believe we came to the earth with a gaping hole in our soul that yearns to be filled with the light and love of God. We feel the hole, feel the emptiness, but we condition our bodies to think that a quick fix like food, drugs, shopping, projects, sex, work, money, etc. -- those countless physical addictions/distractions-- will fill the emptiness and make us whole. But God gave us the “hardship” to turn us to Him and ask our body what is it you really want? If one of the primary reasons we came to this earth was to gain a body, then it seems to me that there is more to understanding our connection to our bodies than just teaching it how to walk or talk. In some way I think our body is our own personal urim and thummim that helps us to translate life’s experiences or maybe “record” those experiences in physical, tangible ways.

The reason I am even blogging about this is because I think that there is a definite connection between body and spirit and as I have struggled to put the pieces together of what has made me fat, kept me fat, and now in a sense released me from the need for filling my body with food, I find that I am pondering and grateful for how long my body has put up with my ingratitude and childishness. Man shall not live by bread alone, but the spirit can feed the soul in ways that food never could.

As I lay on my back, trying to keep the migraine away, where a few days before I way lying down to keep the pain from a spinal bulge and pinched nerve away, I now think, “What can I learn from these experiences?” First off, I have been surprised that I definitely don’t like being a couch potato. I do want to be active—big surprise for those who remember the “Eula Varner” in me. Second, I realize how much others have endured. You never really appreciate something until you lose it and for someone who never has a headache, this has been a big wake-up awareness and empathy call to me to have compassion for those who don’t go a day without severe migraines. I think of Ryan DeGroot and his bout with a broken skull and my admiration grows and grows. And finally, I have learned to allow others to serve me. It has been a blessing. I think of my dad in his last months of colon cancer eschewing morphine shots because he wanted to have clarity and I never knew the magnitude of pain he was enduring. It helps me to appreciate his sacrifice and how much I want to “fight the good fight,” to be upbeat and positive. The body is a gift. I’m starting to appreciate it and thank God for the gift of “Fat” that has made me stop “beweeping my outcast state” and start focusing on Him.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

9 months later...

Dec of 2009....

Today, 9 months later on September 26th, 2010.
Jackie's note: Mom - this is so wonderful!! CONGRATS!!! You can do 100 lbs in the year, I just know it!! 20 more lbs! YOU CAN DO IT! Love you - Jackie

Monday, September 13, 2010

How do I feel?

Today is September 13, 2010; it has been 75 days since I blogged and in those 75 days, I have lost 25.6 pounds or basically one pound every 3 days. That is a shocker! Because although I have seen a decline, it hasn’t been as precipitous as I would like it, as we always know, one can never have too much money nor be too thin—at least not me! So today on September 13th, I broke the 250 and weighed 249.6! I am closer to 200 than 300, it has been many years since I have seen this weight, over ten for sure, so it is a red-letter date!

It’s not surprising that one of the first questions a person will ask me or more than often it is a rhetorical question—I bet you can really tell a difference! I have thought about that question and to tell you the truth, I have lost over 75 pounds, but I really can’t tell a big difference. I mean I realize that my clothes are hanging on me and that clothes that I bought ten years ago that were a little tight and I told myself then that I would lose weight to get in to them, now fit. So I do notice that my clothes are roomier and that my face looks thinner, but the question or statement—don’t you feel so much better, I honestly have to answer, “Not really.” I mean I am still morbidly obese so it is not like I feel thin or anything, but I just feel like me. I never saw myself particularly as grotesquely overweight, simply because in my mind’s eye, I’m pleasantly plump.

I have noticed some interesting things though. I have ankles, my fingers are thinner, I still walk slowly and I still pant. I believe the moment I can sit down on the floor and get back up again without feeling like a cockroach on its back will be the day that I will say, “I can feel the difference.”

I love the lap band! I love it because when I have an insatiable appetite, and fill up my dinner plate with mashed potatoes, gravy, salad, and chicken it pulls me up short with a quick, “You didn’t really think you could eat that, did you?” And I smile and say, “You got me!” I eat about three bites and say, “I’m full!”

These past few days I have been in agony. More than likely I have a slipped disk, bulge on my spinal cord, whatever, and I can only be up for about five to ten minutes and then I am back to being prone. With my being flat day in and day out it has made me aware of what people told me happens to your aperture when you first get up. They say that it is difficult to eat first thing in the morning. I never had a problem, because I go directly to the gym for three to four hours, come home and then I eat, so this having difficulty with your first meal never fazed me. But now because I am on my back a lot, I just don’t feel hungry. After two or three bites, I find that even a salad is sometimes too much. Yesterday, I was really in a nut mood. I wanted cashews or mixed nuts or something. So I asked my sister if she had some and sure enough she brought me a small bowl filled with cashews. Imagine my surprise when I ate about eight cashews and said, “I’m full!” So now I understand why I have been losing weight while being a couch potato. I’m just not hungry! Who would have thought that being on your back could curb your appetite.

Not me!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Breaking the 'Pound' Barrier

Today, June 30, 2010, I stepped on my nemesis (aka the scale) and was surprised to read 275.2. I looked at it, studied it and thought, “There’s something different about those numbers.” My mind pondered, “5, 5, 5,” “Yes, it is the FIVE that it different! It says ‘275.2.’” Could it be true?! Am I actually seeing a 5 where just yesterday I read an 8?!! So being a person of great faith, I stepped on the scale 10 more times. And yes, it read 275.2--275.4--275.2--275.4--275.4--275.2 ad nauseum. And so I wondered, “Have I really done it? Have I lost FIFTY POUNDS?” I mean do I need to be at 275.0 to qualify? It was at that point when I realized, “I would have been happy with 275.9! Just to see that number 5!” And so I am taking the honor, glory, fame, and admiration! I have lost 50 big ones! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!! And despite the numbers going down, it has been a very UPHILL battle! But for the first time in a long time, I feel hope. I feel like I have been having a stare-down with my body and the body blinked! Sure, tomorrow I will weigh 276 or 277, but for one brief shining moment I was 275! Yeah!

Naturally, I am not going to be content with 275, I want MORE, MORE, MORE! I want 250!!! I want to be closer to 200 than 300! I want 225, a number I haven’t seen since 1991! And, of course, my Christmas present to myself is to weigh less than 200! Naturally, I expect disappointment, but it’s not going to stop me from being hopeful. My lap-band has truly given me that—HOPE! In previous attempts, my discouragement and despondency was so profound, I would literally throw my arms up in the air and grab anything to put in my mouth and show my body was who “boss”—It was! And so I binged and gained more weight. But now with the lap-band, I go through the same motion, but I can’t binge. It won’t let me and by the time I have calmed down, I thank the lap-band for giving me restraint and trudge on to figure out what I need to do next.

I am in the process of trying to find the perfect solution to my body, I am playing “mind games.” Is it the protein? Is it the grains? The vegetables? The fruits? The Lemonade Fast? The order, portion or proportion of food? Is it the mind, is it the body? What really keeps a body from letting go? What is a “set” level or “set point”? I’m still trying to find that “philosopher’s stone” that will turn fat into muscle and flabby into lean. It is the quest for the fountain of youth or the holy grail; to find that one great truth that makes everything fit, including a size 6!

But for today, I just went Mach 10! And I broke the pound barrier!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

White Sugar--The Real Culprit

Years ago before I was married, I read William Duffy’s book, Sugar Blues. It was such an extraordinary book and it scared me so much that I didn’t eat sugar for almost a year. I still remember the opening story about Gloria Swanson “hissing,” “That stuff is poison, I won’t have it in my house, let alone my body.”

Several years later when I felt inherently that sugar was bad for me, and wanted another fix to get me off the stuff, I reread it, but it didn’t make half the impression as when I read it the first time. I thought of the famous quote by Alexander Pope:

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As, to be hated, needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.

Intellectually, I knew sugar was not good for me, but I had become inured to its evils. I felt I would be a fanatic to drop white sugar from my life—I mean everyone eats it! Sugar is in everything! And so even though I wished, wanted, and yearned for a beautifully thin body, I wasn’t willing to give up any of my habits. I felt I could overeat with impunity, gobble up white bread and ice cream and somehow it would all work out. I felt a c-pap machine was the ticket, and then the lap-band was the answer, but they were all pieces to the puzzle. I counted calories and felt if I just ate fewer calories then things would come together and I would lose weight. But last week after visiting with the family of my daughter Stephanie’s former companion, Ashly Gross, I started to rethink. As they say, two crop failures and an imminent drought got the Smith family to move to Palmyra, a convert usually has ten to twenty contacts with the church before really listening to the gospel, and me, well, I looked at Ashly’s mom, Lori, and I thought, “Marilyn, you are either serious about losing weight or you aren’t.” Lori hadn’t eaten white sugar since 1996 and she looked fantastic. She wasn’t always that way, but her husband introduced her to eating well and she went from there. After our talk and visit, I thought, “Marilyn, you have always known sugar was bad for you.” As Lori said, ‘Sugar is just one step away from alcohol. It is an addiction.’” And so I decided to do an experiment. I would go for one day without eating anything with white sugar. That meant NO yogurt, NO skinny cow ice cream, NO chocolate covered acai-blueberries, nothing! Basically, I had an omelet, cottage cheese and pineapple, chicken and vegetables. I wasn’t giving up the fat and salt (the other two addictions that Rob often mentions as the triumvirate of what food manufacturers lace their products to win American appetites—sugar, fat and salt) just sugar.

You can imagine my surprise when after the first day, I lost two pounds and then Saturday night, another two pounds, so that today, Monday, June 21, 2010, I hit an all-time low for my weight since my lap-band, 276.0, I am one pound away from having lost 50 pounds! That is amazing! It’s a wonderful event because whenever I get within sniffing distance of 50, I hit the wall and now I believe I have found the “culprit.” Sugar! White, granulated, C&H sugar! I didn’t want to believe it and the question now will be, how long can I stay “on the wagon?”

Surprisingly, it has been easier than I thought. Before I would start craving things and then sampling things to figure out what it is I wanted. But now my grazing is pretty limited, in fact, what used to be “grazing” is now breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I don’t have that same rapacious thirst. And I definitely do not have the “stomach” to “stomach” it anymore.

My Gold’s Gym buddy, Laurie, tells me that whenever she goes on vacation, she eliminates sugar from her diet because she can’t exercise and invariably, upon her return she weighs less. When I was on my mission, I did Atkins, which I wouldn’t recommend to anyone, but I lost a lot of weight, and one of the premises is that you can’t eat sugar. I believe my body is allergic to sugar and when I eat it, instead of getting rashes or anaphylactic shock, I get fat. Some people can smoke and live to 100; others can drink without serious consequences, and others can eat sugar and it not be a problem, but I can’t. Just as a celiac has to avoid gluten like the plague, it is now evident to me that sugar is my nemesis. I once asked my friend who had hypoglycemia how he could forgo the donuts, brownies and other treats, and his response was, “The consequences are worse than the enjoyment.”

Life is a series of delayed gratification. Like the “Marshmallow Experiment” those children who could not wait to eat the marshmallow struggled later in life and had more behavioral problems, while those who waited tended to be more positive and better motivated, have higher grades and incomes, and have healthier relationships. Those children who were told the marshmallows were “yummy and chewy,” broke down in five minutes. But if they coolly thought of the marshmallows as “white puffy clouds” they could wait an average of thirteen minutes. Some children could wait almost eighteen minutes simply by pretending that the treat before them was a picture. In contrast a preschooler shown only a picture of a reward but asked to imagine that it was real lasted less than six minutes. Imagining the treat in all its proximate glory triggers an emotional response, while thinking about the reward in cool, distancing contemplative terms makes waiting easier.” (See Distracted, page 229)

So in order to overcome an addiction, I have to distance myself from the “drug.” I have to be cool and detached and look forward to the ultimate reward. A great tool has been the lap-band because it has given me the ability to think, think in a detached, calm manner. My object now is to strip away the glamour of chocolate and ice cream and calmly see them as the “vice,” the monster, the addiction that has controlled my life for lo, these many years. The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, and for me this is Day 6 of no sugar! I’ll just have to keep on walking.