Going through “The Change”

I grew up differently than everyone else. We didn’t call housework “chores.” Housework was referred to as “You do this right now or I’m going to bust your butt, mister!” We didn’t call punishments “demerits.” We had “Go out there and cut me a hickory switch! If it’s not good enough I’ll make you get another one! Then I’ll make you wish you got a good one the first time!” Long, but effective!

Fast forward a few years to me between my freshman and sophomore years in high school. I got the opportunity to go to a summer camp with the Upward Bound program. The first few days I felt like I had went to a foreign country. The counselors used terms like “chores” and “demerits.” There was an imposed curfew, lights out and bed time. If I had stayed at home that summer I could have stayed up all night long if I had wanted to. This was an interesting change to my lifestyle from home.

Fast forward to August 13, 2016. I have been on this bariatric diet for two weeks now. I think I have been doing a fantastic job. Have I lost any weight? I don’t know. Have I cheated? Oh, absolutely! We all do when we’re dieting, right? Right? You had better have answered YES to that! However, there is a night and day difference between what I was eating and what I am eating now. I haven’t raided the vending machine in two weeks. Okay, I went one time because I didn’t bring enough food for my 10 hour shift at work. I got beef jerky. Then I realized how much sodium was in one package. I won’t be doing that again!

I have finally realized, truly realized, that there is nothing in that vending machine that is even remotely healthy. Not even the granola bars. Just because it is a healthier option doesn’t mean it is a good option. That machine haunts me! I can hear it calling me from my desk. When I am sitting in the break room during my lunch break eating a salad I hear it calling me.

“Andy! Andy! Andy! Come and get some Ruffles! Just think about how good they will taste! Don’t stop at one bag! You know one bag isn’t going to be enough to satisfy your craving!”

I stare at it. I look at each and every item thinking: “Would that really be that bad?” Then I stop myself. “YES! Andy! YES! It would be!” I really want some Ruffles Cheddar and Sour Cream chips. I want them with sour cream and onion dip. I want an entire family size bag and tub all to myself! I can’t though! Not even one chip!

I went to the grocery store three times last week. I had the hardest time shopping. Prior to starting this diet I had gotten into a bad habit of buying freezer meals. At the time I didn’t think I was buying terribly unhealthy food. It was either something from Trader Joe’s (they have an absolutely amazingly delicious selection of frozen Asian food) or the organic section of Fred Meyer. After starting this diet I REALLY got to looking at the sodium, fat and carbohydrates in the nutrition facts. It was shocking!

This diet truly is a lifestyle change. If I am going to have bariatric weight loss surgery, I have got to make it a permanent change. Going out to eat will be happening a lot less. Preparing food at home will be happening a lot more. It’s a good thing my partner and I love to cook (we just wish we had more time to do it … and a cleaner kitchen to do it in)! It’s one of the hardest lifestyle changes I have had to make. Even harder than getting used to being away from home at summer camp. At least with summer camp I knew there would be a time when I would get to go back home and resume my normal life. I can’t ever go back to my previous eating habits! Maybe I need someone to beat me when I eat the wrong things? We’ve got plenty of bamboo canes!

Even going through the grocery store is a new battle. Even if you stay on the outside perimeter of the store. Every aisle I go down I see everything differently. I don’t see what they’re trying to sell me. I see one of the following: carbs, sugar, fat, sodium. Canned soup? No, it’s canned liquid salt. Suddenly Salad anyone? How about Suddenly Fat! I think not!

One would think that they could order a tuna sandwich from Jimmy John’s, right? That sounds healthy. OH NO! 1,700 mg of sodium. I had no idea it was a salt lick. Maybe that’s why it is so good? I won’t even talk about the carbs! 2,414 mg in the Italian Night Club (my personal favorite). 3,534 mg in the Gargantuan. How did I or anyone else not instantly die after eating the Gargantuan? Goodbye Jimmy John’s. I will miss you!

I still have a long way to go before I am eating right! I am doing good right now, but it could be a whole lot better. I am eating better foods, but I still need to work on portion size. An omelet recipe in the South Beach diet cookbook calls for 3 eggs. Says that it serves 2 people. Mind boggling! I used to eat 3 eggs in my own personal omelet. I need to focus on eating while I am eating. We still sit in front of the television for dinner. Perhaps it’s time to go get the table cleared off once and for good!

I just wish these cravings would go away! I am really wanting a pizza from Costco right now. I want to go out for Mexican food! I want Chinese food! Jesus, take the wheel!

NOTE: In regards to the first paragraph. I was spanked for misbehaving, but it was not abuse. It was included as a humorous way to tie in other thoughts in this entry.

Goodbye 425

Apparently, I have decided to have weight loss surgery (WLS). For years, I have railed against the idea of having WLS. I have been frightened by the thought of having WLS. I always thought I could lose the weight on my own. I have always thought WLS was for the super morbidly obese. News flash, Andy. You weigh 425 lbs. You ARE super morbidly obese!

I am 30. I will soon be 31. Tick tock. Time is running out. I want to lose weight. I want to enjoy my 30s! I can’t in my current condition. I want to be able to climb the stairs, hike the trails, take the spectacular photos that I can’t take right now because my weight hinders me from being upwardly mobile.

My health is rapidly declining. Last year I found myself in the hospital diagnosed with blood clots. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. I developed a hernia a few months ago that has further hindered my mobility. I am extremely fortunate that I don’t have diabetes! I really don’t want to wind up with anymore special conditions!

Two of my good friends who also happen to be coworkers have been positive influences in my decision. I have witnessed their amazing transformation. Not just in their size, but in their mindset. They are more determined, more outgoing and happier!

Two months ago I started on this journey. A couple of weeks apart from each other I attended two WLS seminars. One at each of the major hospitals in the area. After going to the two seminars I made my decision on which provider would be better (I went with the provider that has been doing the surgeries the longest). After the seminars I made an appointment and I met with a surgeon. The surgeon HIGHLY recommended that I have a gastric sleeve. I had initially wanted to have gastric bypass. The surgeon said that he would do it, but he really believes the sleeve would be better. He said that due to my size, it would be much riskier to do a gastric bypass. From what I gather, more surgeons are highly recommending the gastric sleeve now. So the current plan is to do the sleeve, but we do have some time to change our minds.

Since I don’t have $30,000 to pay for the surgery out-of-pocket, I do have to go through insurance. My insurance company requires that I go through a 6-month doctor supervised diet. Two days ago I had my first appointment with a dietician. I will be following the South Beach diet plan. I am well equipped. My wonderful sister-in-law bought me a stack of South Beach diet books. They are full of valuable information. In addition my dietician provided me with meal plans.

Another requirement of my insurance company is that I go through a psychological evaluation. I did that yesterday. While I won’t tell you the results of that test (because it will probably show that I am crazy). I will tell you that if you are planning on having the surgery, be prepared. It was a 3 hour long session at a psychologist’s office doing testing and discussing my entire life history with a psychologist. Not an ideal way to get your day started!

In a couple of days I have to go to the hospital to have an upper GI tract X-ray. It’s a good thing that I liked to eat chalk when I was a kid!

I am going full on with the South Beach diet on Monday morning. It’s going to be hard for me. I don’t think it’s going to be hard to give things up. I think the biggest problem I am going to have is preparing fresh food. I have relied on ready to go meals too much lately.

It’s definitely going to be a long and quite possibly a difficult journey. I want you with me for it. I have been wanting to get back into blogging for a few years now. Perhaps this is the best reason to make myself do it! Please excuse the default WordPress theme. I plan something much better! Please, watch this space! Thank you!

Edit 8/13/16: Before I published this I forgot that when I was in the hospital last year I weighed 464 lbs. I don’t know if that is my heaviest weight, but it is the heaviest weight I have ever had recorded.

MikeyPod Interviews Joi Ito of Creative Commons

A couple of years ago I found out about Creative Commons. I watched the videos on their website and I was intrigued by it. Everytime I would create something I would stamp a CC license onto it because I thought it was so cool. A couple of years passed and I got out of the habit of CC’ing everything until the other day. I listened to MikeyPod‘s latest podcast where he interviews Joi Ito who is on the board of Creative Commons.

During the interview Joi Ito discusses Flickr and the benefits of having your images on Flickr having a Creative Commons license instead of the standard “All Rights Reserved” license. I would love for more people to use and see my photos. I don’t necessarily care whether I get paid for them or not as long as I get credit for them. I also would prefer that if people use them they have whatever they make be licensed under Creative Commons as well. I opted to change most of my photos to a Creative Commons Share Alike license. I didn’t change them all because I didn’t want photos of my family to be used by a commercial entity, they would not appreciate that. I changed a few of mine to CC, just in case someone decides I’m important enough for a Wikipedia article, someday!

During the interview Joi mentions the reasons people have really horrible pictures of themselves on their Wikipedia pages, that’s because a lot of images have copyright restrictions. I thought that was a really good point to bring up. A lot of people forget about that when they go to a portrait studio and have their photos taken and later on down the road want to have them re-printed but cannot find a photo copy center that will copy them because they are copyrighted by the photography studio. I know many people who have bought scanners because of this!

Also during the interview Joi mentions a plugin for WordPress for inserting Creative Commons meta information into your site. I have installed the plugin, I honestly don’t see where it has changed my source code. I don’t know if it’s suppose to or not. However. I just wanted to do my part of sharing my content to the world, just as long as I get credit and they share alike!

You should check out the interview MikeyPod did, it was really a great interview. Lots of valuable information. The interview has renewed my love of Creative Commons.