November 26, 2010-present weight loss

2012 weight loss

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Gypsies, Freaky Eaters and Willpower

I landed in London this morning, and yes, it is rainy and gloomy.  I don't suffer from serious jet lag the way many do... lucky for me considering how frequently I travel among timezones.  On overnight flights I bring my own pillow, blanket, fuzzy socks, eye cover, Ambien, and bottle of water (purchased at the airport, of course).  I skip dinner, drink a glass of wine, pop an Ambien immediately upon boarding and then tuck myself in and stay in the same position until about an hour before landing.  My strategy works very well, and my fellow travelers are always amazed that I can sleep as they toss and turn for hours.  Still, I am lethargic for my first day or two back in town- and it doesn't help that I frequently wind up crashing on the couch for two or three hours during the afternoon.  To get myself up and moving, I went swimming right after landing.  Now I feel like I really need a nap, but I will blog instead. 
On my last night at my mom's, I watched My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding for the first time.  I was dumbstruck by what I saw (people living in caravans- without toilets- on purpose).  It was actually fascinating and was like watching an hour long competition... who can dress her daughter most like a tramp while not violating international standards regarding the welfare of children... but at the end, there was no prize.  Had there been a competition, all contestants would have tied.  Apparently tramp is the 'traveller' norm. 
Afterwards I saw the first few minutes of Freaky Eaters.  The subject of this episode was a 50 year old woman addicted to ice cream bars.  She had had gastric bypass a few years back, lost weight and then gained it (thanks to the ice cream) after her divorce.  What amazed me was the quantity of bars she would eat- up to 40 IN A DAY!  The show said that she had been doing this for over a year (3 years maybe) and had gained 50 lbs.  This woman must have a fabulous metabolism.  If I were to eat 20-40 ice cream bars per day, I am 100% certain that I would gain much more than 50 lbs over the course of a year or two; I would put that on in months. 
This got me pondering WLS and how so much of this process is mental.  The band, sleeve, and bypass are so instrumental to losing weight, but each of us could fully sabotage our progress in a matter of minutes- a 'little' pint of Haagen-Dazs, a bagel with scallion cream cheese (or better yet a bacon, egg and cheese on a buttered bagel), fried rice, penne ala vodka, and on, and on, and on.  Before I started the WLS process, it was easy to rationalize adding these unnecessary calories.  Assuming I was eating 3,000-5,000 a day (I never counted, but I didn't get to my weight by following a diet of moderation), it wasn't such a big deal to add in an extra THOUSAND calories some days.  After all, what is really wrong with a 20-35% increase in calories when what I ate tasted so damn good?  Now I recognize that this mentality, this ability to rationalize my sometimes ridiculous consumption, contributed to the dire situation that necessitated my WLS.  It just occurred to me that I have not brought a pint of ice cream into our flat since about a month before I was banded.  It is just too much of a risk to bring in that pint.  I am still not convinced that I could eat 1/4 cup and put the container back in the freezer, so I abstain.  The same goes for most of the other foods listed above; I do my best to avoid them.  If I must sample them on occasion, I do so out of the house.  No leftovers, no ability to take just one more bite, no nothing.  
I've always been annoyed by people who say (mostly in the form of a lecture) that weight loss is all willpower.  While this might be the case for many people, losing weight was so much more than mere willpower for me.  I was hungry and nothing in my mind could make me anything other than hungry.  With the help of the band, I am less hungry.  NOW my willpower must step in.  I could easily continue to eat all of the junk I desire.  I went right from the airport to the gym... didn't I earn a pint of ice cream?  Don't I deserve that 1,300 calories of ice cream- even though the reality is that I burned less than half of that working out?  Of course I don't deserve ice cream.  That is just silly, and it is no different from an alcoholic who deserves a glass of vodka after cleaning the house or after a tough day at work.  What I deserve are the results I can get from working out.  I deserve a leaner, less sweaty figure, a stronger body and lower blood pressure.  Sweets and fatty foods should not be my reward, and from what I read, an understanding of this is something that many successful bandsters and I have in common. 


vickyd said...

Well said! I'm impressed with the fact that you can go work out right after a long flight like that...very impressive!

Christine said...

What a wonderful post. It's so awesome to see you making such positive changes, not just with the food choices, but your mental health as well, prioritizing your life differently. It's pretty awesome, and not at all insignificant.

MandaPanda said...

Fabulous post! I agree with every last bit of it. I've been really surprised at how much of this weight loss thing is mental. I didn't think I was an emotional eater until I didn't really have the crutch to fall back on anymore.

Melissa Wolf said...

Thoughtful intelligent interesting post, as always Nora. Thank you! I hear that "I deserve it" voice in my head too, as well as the "Screw this/him/her!" angry eating. Yes, there's a strong emotional component to compulsive overeating...but what I'm still trying to figure out (as I approach decision-time this summer re: getting banded or not) is why the band works so well for some and not for others. I'm reading dozens of blogs and it's amazing how different the journey is for people. Some are stalled, others make steady progress. Some throw up/get food stuck (the issues I fear the most about banded life) and others never or almost never do. Some say it's worked like magic in their lives, and others get it removed or replaced with a gastric bypass. Still trying to figure it all out.

♫ Drazil ♪ said...

I watched Gypsies too - every time by the end my jaw is wide's shocking but I just keep watching it.

Bandita Senorita said...

Great post!

And MBFGW is crazy! Do you see any gypsies in England? I'm curious whether they dress like that when they are on the streets there. You'll have to let us know if you see any!

Nora said...

Yup, Gypsies is like the car wreck on the side of the road. I must take a look, though I know I won't like what I see.

@Bandita, I have never seen gypsies. I think they are mostly outside of the city, but I could be wrong.

Andrea Brooks said...

I LOVE this! I always felt, and sometimes still do, that I deserved food as a reward for myself. What you said really hits home. I'm going to start looking at it in that way and tell myself that I deserve to be healthy and so on!

Steph R said...

I think you touched on a very important aspect of overeating in that mentality is only a part of what is going on. It has been shown in studies that the same physiological factors that drive people into drug addiction are behind the compulsion to overeat, pushing people into obesity.

I think it is very beneficial for us to remember on our road to recovery that part of our esteem is damaged because of how we have treated ourselves and in turn food. It has actually helped me to own my responsibility to myself knowing that there are medical and bio-chemical factors associated with my tendency to overeat and that the physiological aspects are as real as the behavior itself.