I’ve been dealing with a lot of family drama lately. The drama is centered around two members of my otherwise peaceful family. If you follow my Facebook fan page, you know one as the Drama Llama. I never talk about the other one, but I’ll call him the Drama Moose. Because I can.
Over the past few weeks I’ve become more and more in touch with the fact that it’s normal again to have potato chip bags around the house. Trips to the vending machine at work have become more and more “necessary” in the afternoons. And I’ve had this nagging, guilty feeling I can’t shake.
I hate guilt. It’s a shitty feeling, whether it’s deserved or not. And when there’s family drama going on it can be hard to identify whether you’re down in the dumps because the Drama Llama or the Drama Moose is acting up or because you’re slipping back into your old, horrible habits and your new self defense mechanisms are kicking in.
The real wake up moment happened on Friday when I had my hair done (because it was time to cover those “wisdom highlights” that Mother Nature has bestowed upon me). It’s never fun to look in the mirror when you’re in the chair at the salon. Does anyone ever look pretty in that damn chair?
Anyway, I looked in the mirror and my first thought was “Holy shit, how did my face get that huge?” There was a lot more face on my face than there used to be. And then, to kick the guilt machine into overdrive, I was looking through my phone for a picture to show my hair stylist and this popped up:
This was taken in 2015 when I ran into my pal during a follow up with our surgeon. Yeah, I still have that shirt…and I can still wear it…but it doesn’t look like that on me anymore. And my face is definitely smaller here. A lot smaller, actually.
The guilt is coming from the best place possible. I’ve been turning towards unhealthy eating as a mechanism for coping with a shit ton of stress. Before my surgery and the amazing experience I’ve had since then, I would have turned that guilt against myself. You’re lazy. You’re fat. You’re a horrible person. These are the things I said to myself with horrifying regularity. And then I’d eat again. It was a destructive cycle that lasted 25 years.
The guilt is waking me up from my complacency. The guilt is nudging at me, reminding me of how hard I worked to lose 118 pounds and drop 8 sizes. I’m grateful for it, really. But all day today I’ve been trying to give it a hug and send it on its way. You can’t hold onto guilt for too long or you start to believe you’re just a shitty person.
This is why I announced on Facebook this morning that I’ve started the “pouch reset” that my surgeon’s office talked about in their latest newsletter. Yes, more than three years later I’m still getting support from these amazing people. Just another reason why it’s important to pick a great doctor if you decide the surgical route is the way you want to go.
A pouch reset is basically a mini bootcamp course that takes you back to the weeks after your surgery, forcing your body to burn the fuel it already has and helping you to gain control over any carb cravings you might have. It’s not even a bootcamp, really. It’s more like a trip down a dietary memory lane. You take yourself back to the basics. Back when you were only allowed to drink everything and were petrified to eat a cracker for fear of ripping your stomach open. I was, anyway.
So today through Wednesday I will be drinking protein shakes to get my nutrition in and (hold onto your asses) I’ll get unlimited amounts of sugar free jello and sugar free popsicles. You’re jealous, aren’t you? Actually, to sweeten the sugar free pot even more, I can even eat red and purple jello and popsicles…because I’m not having surgery next week! Yay me!! (Red and purple shows up on a video screen as blood and it freaks the hell out of the surgeons…that’s why pre-op patients aren’t allowed to eat those colors.)
On Thursday I’ll be allowed Greek yogurt as well. Actually, I’m allowed a bunch of other shit…but it’s all disgusting. Chicken salad. Tuna. I could go on, but I might barf up my last protein shake. I’m happy with the Greek yogurt. On Friday, I can go back to my regular high protein foods…and then I’m done!
There are a ton of other “pouch reset” plans out there. There’s no right way to do this. The intention is to bring the patient back to basics. I’m…12 hours in as I write this, and I can honestly say I’m well on my way back. I really needed this.
This morning I read through some of the posts I made right after surgery. I relived the morning of my surgery:
- The long drive to the hospital in the icy cold weather
- Crying repeatedly as I worried in the pre-op area, overthinking and obsessing like crazy
- Waking up and making an ass out of myself in front of the recovery room nurse
I remembered, with a smile on my face:
- The night I spent in the hospital
- Coming home and starting the recovery process
- The first lessons I learned about my new life…and my old one
Before I knew it, I was smiling ear to ear. Guilt leads to smiling. Who is this woman???
Today has been a challenge, but it hasn’t been hard. When you start heading back to your old habits of eating crunchy things when you’re stressed…and making yourself feel better with some chocolate after a stressful day…you can look at this kind of thing in one of two ways: a wake up call or something to feel guilty over. I’m so happy that I’ve grown to a place where I know when to kick the guilt to the curb.
I’d asked Hot Mess Hubby to throw all the chips out before I got home, which he did. But he didn’t see the bag on the coffee table, so it was waiting for me when I got home. I didn’t eat any. I picked it up, walked straight to the kitchen, and threw it out. Buh-bye. I don’t want you in my life right now, chips.
Something else: I’ve been looking forward to going to the gym all day. WHAT?? Who the hell is this person? Even though I’ve made some great progress towards working out, I still have the very strong urge to throw up any excuse not to go. Yet when I got home today I reminded myself not to get too comfortable, because my plan has been to head to the gym in time to swim for 30 minutes, shower and get ready for bed before I head home. But not in jammies. My gym is kinda classy, actually, and I’m pretty sure that schlepping through the lobby in my Star Wars jammies would be frowned upon.
If I do this right I’ll have about a half hour to stitch and relax before bed. What a lovely way to end the day, right? Swimming. Pampering. Stitching. Bed. Hell yeah!
Some of you may be wondering if I haven’t been hungry all day. My protein intake requirement is 90 – 100 grams a day, and just one of my protein shakes has 30 grams in it. It only takes me 3 protein shakes to hit that goal and I don’t get anything else but sugar free jello. The answer? No. Not a bit. I haven’t been hungry at all. I’ve felt a little empty here and there, but no hunger like I did before surgery.
Have I had the munchies? HELL YES! My brain wants me to eat. The professional worrier inside me wants me to eat. Ultimately, though, I wanted to continue with the pouch reset. It’s comforting to me to wander down memory lane. It feels good to take care of myself. And it definitely felt good (and surreal) to toss out those chips. Who is this woman????
She’s me. And she’s awesome. Guilt doesn’t suck if you learn from it. Just make sure you wrestle the bitch out the door after you’re done.
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