I have the privilege of writing this post from a beachside coffee shop in Daytona Beach. The weather is warm; skies are clear blue. Though I can’t hear the waves from here, I will indulge my senses in the sounds of the ocean at sunset before I leave. This post discusses one of the key lessons learned on my VSG Journey so far: Identity what will feed your soul.
In July 2018, I also vacationed in Daytona Beach. Although I was thrilled to enjoy the sun, the pool and views of the beach, my ability to function was severely compromised by my weight at the time. What I remember most was imagining what it would be like to have weight loss surgery and feel better about my health, my body and my future. All of the things I feared about having surgery turned out not to be true. For example, I was able to get out of bed and walk the same afternoon. I was uncomfortable, but I was not in any real pain. So the life I wanted so badly last year is now occurring. I can walk, jog, shop without dropping (in fact I do it often ). Last summer, I had to stop, rest, and navigate around stairs – sometimes carrying an assistive device.
This week in Florida, l’m impressed by my increased awareness of how much bigger my life is and will be due to increased mobility, strength and endurance. While surgery certainly gave me the tools for this positive outcome, I also had to embrace a huge lifestyle overhaul: following instructions, working out and learning about protein, carbs, and vitamins in order to change my diet.
Now 6 months post op, I face new challenges regularly. The proverbial onion has to be peeled back to discover deep layers of a woman who hid 30 plus years using food to deal with every emotion under the sun. Truthfully, I still run to food very often. I can be satiated with smaller quantities, so , I have to stop and say to myself: “what else can you do to satisfy this need?” It’s not usually physical hunger. Eating in large quantities will cause nausea now.
“Healthy living begins with getting to know who we are underneath the rituals that numb our emotions.“
If it’s anxiety or fear, I have learned to give myself the support or comfort that need. Discernment and emotion management is the first step. I’ve even learned to ask strangers for support. Sales clerks and service people are very receptive because often they are rendered invisible and welcome the chance to engage and offer insight or an opinion.
This afternoon, I was in an outlet store shopping the clearance section for a bathing suit (every woman’s nightmare). But they were 70-80% off, and I’m in Florida right! Can one have too many? After 30 minutes selecting 6 suits in 3 different sizes, I was so confused. The sales clerk who was organizing the‘clearance area’ was warmly encouraging me when I stated that I was dreading the ordeal. Inside the fitting room, to my dismay I could wear the 18, 20 and the size 22. (side note: The don’t even carry size 26 that I wore last summer.) This might be why I was feeling so much angst. Who am I to wear this…. ? Is this me? And if it’s not me, then who am I…?
To sum up, I told the sales associate that I’d lost a lot of weight recently and was feeling insecure about my selection. She shared from her own experience and was quite patient. I ended up getting both the 20 and the 22 because psychologically I’m not yet prepared to buy the size 18. As I left the store, I was suddenly really hungry – crazy hungry for fried chicken: my old faithful companion. (It’s like an old lover that knows all your ins and outs.)
Thankfully it was late; so I ran to a local Starbucks (my new comfort ritual). There, I indulged in a tall peach iced green tea with a shot of sweetener. (Yes, sort of bad). So while some things are different, some habits are persistent. I’m super grateful for the ability to walk and jog on the beach as long as want to in the early mornings.
In closing, we all need comfort. Healthy living begins with getting to know who we are underneath the rituals that numb our emotions. If you literally cannot have the crutch you’ve used for decades, what other options are available? For me, Blogging is one creative outlet that both holds me accountable to my new desired behaviors, and it is a tangible celebration of the progress I’m making day by day.
Where do want to be in SIX months? Or even next summer….
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