Well, yesterday I was officially six weeks post-op. I am really surprised how fast the time went. The time sure CRAWLED to get to the surgery date and through the liquids phases of the post-op diet. At this point, I basically feel like me again. I don’t have any tenderness in my tummy, my energy level is pretty much back to normal, and I am allowed to have a full range of diet options. What does all that mean? It means I feel like I am teetering on the edge of my own personal possibility of groundhog day, of either spring coming early, or an interminable stretch of time ahead of me where I continue to battle darkness, personal choices and challenges. I want spring to come early for myself, and with it the possibility of change, new behaviors and new hope. I want spring to come and bring me new confidence, increased self-esteem and higher belief in myself that I can change my behaviors, tiny steps at at time, to develop a new normal.
This surgery is sooo not about the physical and mechanical aspects of all of this. I keep thinking of other analogies in life and none of them quite work but have parts that resonate. At first I thought, its like declaring bankruptcy. But that is long before I realized the truth of the matter about weight loss surgery, about how the day of surgery is really just the beginning of hard work. Up until the last while, I realized that even a part of me felt I was taking “the easy way” out. But this is not the easy way out. Just because my stomach is smaller doesn’t change my personality, my habits, my behaviors. It is easier to stick to the post-op diet in the early phases, ironically. Honest to god, I do think its like the “rehab” equivalent for a drug or alcohol addict. The radical change in behavior, supervised medically, to ensure you don’t hurt yourself and have a chance at a do over. You don’t feel like yourself, you feel very “medical”, you fear complications if you choose the wrong behavior. But I can see that as the medicalness fades, and the risk of complications decreases over time, its just me out there. Me and the things I choose to do next to make my life different than it was before.
I started with a therapist locally last week, and I was given two homework assignments. “Stay in Today” and think about what triggers me to eat. The first assignment is better for me right now, because I can do that. I know that I have the tendency to spend my life thinking about everything but the day in front of me, and making today the best day I can make it. Imagine what the world would be like if you lived each day just focused on today? Trying to do what I can, just in the day, to make it good. After many of those days, the past starts to become easier to look back on, and the future starts to potentially become something less to worry about, if you’re taking care of each day, one at a time. I know this cognitively, but it is hard to change the behavior of daydreaming about tomorrow, in particular. When I pay off this bill I can….when I get my tax refund I can….when I weigh 199 I will….when I am a size 14 I will….What a shame that I have been living my life in suspended animation, always holding off the good stuff for later. What is going to be good about today? What is going to be good about today for you? Think about that. Because that is at the core of this thing, I think.
The thinking about what triggers me to eat is much harder, particularly because I’m post-op and everything just feels kind of different right now, if that makes any sense. I think because i have gone through my six week rehab, whatever triggers there are aren’t working the same way on me, so its hard to pinpoint what they are. I did identify the ones about travel back in October or whenever that was, for sure. So that was good, but in day to day life, I’m not necessarily seeing it. I know that at the end of a work day, I can feel pretty mentally wiped out and lazy, and that its easy just to succumb to going out. That is still true, and we eat out a lot, even now, post-op, but I am able to make good choices still when I am out. It is easier now that I have a wider choice on the menu. When i was in liquids or softs, I felt pretty pissy about eating only what I could eat. Now I feel pretty happy that I can eat a good portion of protein and try some tastes of other things. My worry is, its a slippery slope? Do I valiantly NOT have any tastes of other things, to avoid sliding down the slope, or is it better to have the tastes and get some joy out of it, so that I don’t take a nosedive off the top of the slope at some point? My guess is, that answer is different for everyone, and we have to find that truth within ourselves. Shit, I hate that answer. 🙂
Another thing we talked about was fear being at the base of a lot of behaviors like addictions (and i consider that I have a food addiction) And she mentioned that for a lot of people with issues with food and money, that fear of lack is at the core of it. I haven’t been magically been able to put my finger on the reasons I am the way I am. Its like an elephant in the room that I truly can’t see. I know certain truths about my past that I can logically see have probably influenced my life, but I haven’t had that big “a-ha” moment that I feel like I should have.
I am working so hard right now on amassing my knowledge around behavior change. I am a researcher my nature, I love to know about stuff, and why it works. So that is pretty time consuming. I can’t blindly follow one methodology either, so I am in the midst of learning about several, including The Beck Diet Solution, Change Anything, and Tiny Habits. Honestly they all support each other, and have different steps to approaching the same thing, which is behavior change. I like comparing them and taking different ideas from them, but at the moment I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by it all. I wish God would just knock on my head and say, “here, this is the way, you’re making this way too complicated.” But honestly, I feel that I have to practice some critical new skills that come out of these methods to get to the other side and see it get easier. One of the things I liked hearing about in Change Anything is this idea of “being a scientist” — to try different approaches and after you try them, look at them to see why they worked or did not work. This is something that honestly happens in my work life all the time, so why this should be so novel to me in my personal life is kind of ridiculous, but I like the idea of framing that way. Because again, it takes out the “that was a failure, therefore, I am a failure.” thought process. It makes all of this an experiment to see what works and what doesn’t, and then a matter of assembling those things that work and figuring out how to hang them together to make a total program of change.
I have joined an accountability group for six weeks with Tracy from mytinytank.net and some other lovely ladies that hopefully will join us as we go along. The idea is to commit to a single thing we want to make a change around and be accountable to each other to report our progress, our successes and our challenges. We have a once a week brief call to report on this, and are free to reach out to the other members durign the week to ask for support at crucial moments or victories. I like this! I think two elements I’ve avoided in past attempts to change behavior is social support and exercise. So therefore, these are two areas I am focusing on the most right now to help with setting in new habits.
Phew. That was soapboxy. Thanks for reading.