Blessing In Disguise
Everyone’s been asking me about my secrets to all the weight I’ve lost. I still have a good way to go before I reach my target weight. But I thought it was time to tell my story about how this journey all began.
So when we last left off, which was admittedly a long time ago, my mom posted about how often I was at the doctor and wondering if things could change for me. Well. After the last several months, I finally have an answer for her.
Some things can change and will change for the better. Some things won’t. There is a lot I can do to help myself. I’m not as helpless as I thought I was. How did I realize this?
For those who do not know, TMJ is short for Temporomandibular joint dysfunction. What is that? Well short explanation: my jaw joints no longer work the way they’re supposed to. This was confirmed by MRI testing. The meniscus on both sides are displaced. One permanently, the other moves in and out.
What does that mean in layman’s terms?
I had to drastically change my way of eating. I was banned from crunchy foods. Crunchy foods include cookies, ice, chips, croutons, anything with nuts, my favorite candy bars, you name it, I couldn’t eat it. To say I was upset about it is an understatement.
But it was a blessing in disguise. It sparked the beginning of change. It rewired my brain. A marvelous blessing.
One of the best things to ever happen to me.
If you have intense pain upon eating something, you sure will think twice before putting it in your mouth ever again. I dropped my 30-year-old ice crunching habit cold turkey on the spot. My parents had tried everything short of breaking my jaw to get me to stop this habit as a child. Nothing worked. I chewed all the sealant off my teeth once. They gave up after that.
All the things that I had loved as comfort foods were crunchy and horribly bad for me. I was eating way too much sugar and nothing at all resembling a healthy diet. I lost ten pounds alone just on the soft food diet.
Then I bought a writing workshop. That wouldn’t be too big of a deal, normally. I buy them fairly often. But this one. This one was different. This one changed my life. What was it?
Holly Lisle’s workshop, “How to Motivate Yourself.”
My writing was feeling a bit lackluster at the time and I needed something to get me going again. This was a writing workshop of hers I’d wanted to take for a while and in that course she took what she learned about weight loss and applied it to writing to show how your brain works to trick you into doing what’s bad for you.
What REALLY got my attention was her own brutal honesty and that she realized at some point she was suffocating herself and for what? A few potato chips and some candy because they feel good and she didn’t want to give them up? That was a huge whack on my head.
I can’t describe the feeling that came over me then.
I read the words in black and white on the video transcript. They were there on paper right in front of me. The video itself was in my ear at the same time. The same excuses she’d been using, I’d been using.
I was doing the exact same thing.
Suffocating myself for nothing.
That workshop plus some cold, hard science about my genetic condition made me really understand that I had to change. 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome varies a lot among patients. I began to research my condition more. In my research, I read that our lifespan depends a lot on quality of care. With good quality of care, we can have a normal lifespan. I have the best surgeons in the world at UAB. They are excellent. But excellent quality of care did not mean being 70 pounds overweight.
I began to be really uncomfortable. But what really was the real kicker was that with poor quality of care, the median age of life expectancy was 41 years.
When you’re a kid, 41 years old seems ancient, but standing on this side of 32, I gulped. That was only 9 years! That wasn’t nearly long enough to write all of the stories in my head and to have the career I wanted! 70 pounds of extra weight was definitely poor quality of care. Even the best of surgeons couldn’t fix that for me! We’d looked into it before. Because of my extensive medical history already, the fewer surgeries I have the better. Gastric surgery is irreversible and my doctors did not want me doing it. The only one they would approve for me at the time was the lap band, because it could be taken out in the future if necessary. But the lap band severely limited the medications I could take.
Surgeons weren’t the answer to fixing this problem.
Only I could.
My breath left me. (Temporarily.)
I knew I had to change. And change drastically. I’d lost the first ten pounds without trying.
The rest, I lost the hard way.
I began eating lots of protein. Chicken being my preference because it is soft and easy to chew. I used the canned stuff at first, which helped with portion control. Then I started looking at the sodium counts of everything in my food. Yikes!! They were terrible! I began to read labels. We started swapping our pantry items for low sodium stuff. It had been doctor ordered by my cardiologist years ago but I’d ignored it at as unimportant at the time.
I gave up Dr. Pepper. It took several weeks of gradually weaning off it, going little by little, until I was finally pouring the can just out of habit and throwing the rest away. When I realized I was doing this, I decided it was time to drop it completely. And I did.
Now I drink water.
I gave up most sugar. My one small treat has been mints. Because they’re soft and mint has the added benefit of calming me down. I can eat a couple of them and have just enough to have a little something sweet.
I gave up junk food, microwaved dinners, most bread, and pasta.
Let me tell you. THIS WAS HARD.
The withdrawals were horrible. It was an emotional roller coaster. My panic attacks became even worse.
I fortunately had a dear friend help guide me through this intense process and hold my hand to hold me accountable. She pushed me to better myself. My family members had tried their very best to get me to do the same thing. My parents had offered me a trip at one point to anywhere I wanted to go in the world, if I lost the weight. I never took them up on it. I had to hit rock bottom before I could begin to climb up.
I started exercising.
Starting exercising was very difficult. When I first began exercising, I had so little arm strength I could barely lift a pound. I used green bean cans in the kitchen and began practicing lifting those. I walked for a few minutes standing in place also in my kitchen. I put up a load of laundry piece by piece. I couldn’t carry the basket, it was too heavy. But I did it.
And gradually, over time, I got stronger. I graduated from 1 pound hand weights to 3 pounds. Now I can carry a small load of laundry. I can do a very small load of dishes.
Within the last year, I’ve lost 36 pounds. I’ve gone from 187 to 151.
I was wearing size 18. Now I’m at size 12.
Here is what I look like now. The picture on the left is Before. The picture on the right is me Today. 🙂 For the record this is the exact same shirt. I did not order a smaller size for this photo. I did put my hair up in a ponytail, though. 🙂
For years I convinced myself that I didn’t need to eat healthy. My body was so messed up with its missing parts, my diet wasn’t going to fix anything. But it has.
Losing weight hasn’t solved all my problems. I still get sick a lot. For weeks at a time. I still visit the doctor fairly regularly. But it has helped a lot. I have more positions to sleep in at night, now. I can move around more and I don’t have to spend all of my days sitting in bed like an invalid.
With the increase in energy, I’ve had more energy to write. I’m working on my books. I have at least three projects in various stages of progress on my desk.
I’ve been posting on Twitter and making friends with other writers, teachers, people who love science fiction and fantasy as much as I do, agents and editors, too.
Sometimes bad things happen, but they can turn out to have good results. They can be wonderful blessings in disguise.
“All things work together for good for them that love the Lord.” Romans 8:28.
@miaokuancha said:I’m so overjoyed to see you blogging again! Look at you shining in your picture, too. You go girl!
Thanks!! It’s not been easy. Neither has been trying to figure out how to reply to comments on tumblr, lol. I’m still fairly new to using this. I’m more familiar with Livejournal.
It’s so good to see you and know you’re still reading! I’m on Twitter, too, btw. 😀 I post there much more regularly. I’m lmorbison on Twitter.
@bookishdea reblogged this from you and added:
You look wonderful! How are you? I’m sorry to hear that about your jaw, but I am glad that you’re feeling…
Thank you so very much. It was definitely not fun and I kinda get the point now that I need to eat healthy and would like my jaw back. 😛 It’s pretty difficult to find vegetables that are soft enough I can eat, too, but I’m managing. 🙂 I’m pretty stubborn and it helped rewire me, so it wasn’t so bad in the grand scheme of things. 🙂