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Closing One Door… A Diet Story Part 2

img_0849.jpgSo here I was, defeated and disgusted but not hopeless! Without hope, I would have never signed-up for this drastic, expensive and self-funded program. From the moment I made the call, things started to move rather quickly: within a few days, I had an appointment booked for my assessment. This meant that the diet would start the very next day following the assessment, yikes!!! Do I need to S.P.E.L.L. out what my eating patterns were like in the 72 hours preceding the big cut off from planet food? Damn girl, I can write the book on the last supper!!! Oh and the last lunch, the last snack, the last breakfast LOL!!! Move over apostles, wine and bread should have been considered side dishes, not the main attraction for a last supper, geezzzzz! You could swear that I would never eat again from that point on. I was going bananas. Like OMG, what should I eat: so many things I like that would soon be out of reach! I just couldn’t decide and although it has been quite a while now since those pre-diet days, I distinctly remember that one of those meals was sushi. I think it is an important fact to note: this particular «last» meal would dictate my future eating habits. I didn’t quite realize it at the time but over the course of the last 2 years since that dreaded day, spending many hours reflecting on all food related issues, this simple choice of sushi would prove itself pivotal. As hard as I have tried recently to remember the other treats I consumed prior to «The Diet», I simply cannot remember any of them. It was most likely burgers & fries and definitely chocolate, but it surely isn’t popping up in my mind as something that was so spectacular and so scrumptious that I would bring the memory of it with me to the grave!

The initial assessment happened on May 23 and the diet started the very next day, on May 24. A Friday for God’s sake! Who starts a diet on a Friday? Isn’t the weekend meant for awesome grub and countless glasses of wine? However, at that particular moment in my life, I was ready to jump in with both feet and a sane mind. There would be a ton more weekends in my life and hopefully a fair number of extra ones if I managed to reverse the damage obesity was causing to my body. Resigned and determined, I decided to embrace the changes that were going to start showing in a short while. I was encouraged by the claim of rapid weight loss guaranteed by this program. And my new mantra became the following: weight loss and food choice restrictions are only TEMPORARY! Get with it my dear Nat, do it now and reap the benefits later! The «temporary» affair would prove to be my life saviour through the next several months. So why was this diet I was on so effective (and controversial)? Well, besides being super expensive, it was really, really low cal. It was low everything LOL!!! Because of this, one must take some vitamin and potassium supplements as well as endure shots of vitamin B12 three times per week. And what does one eat you may ask on such a rigorous diet regiment? Well, not much to be quite frank! On this medically supervised plan, you can enjoy (I am being facetious here) 2 portions of protein (3.5oz raw weight), 2 cups of vegetables, 2 mini fruits and 2 portions of starch per day. PER DAY! And for the record, 2 Triscuits™ for instance, count as 1 starch option! A few mini (I mean MINI) flavour booster add-ons were allowed such as fat-free condiments and calorie free beverages, but that was about it. So why on earth would anyone subject themselves to that? Well, in my case, it was simple: I just could no longer stand being in my own skin. I wanted results and I wanted them fast. If I was going to restrict myself, then why would I want this to last any longer than it should? And I knew that once I would start to see concrete results, my willpower and motivation would follow rather quickly. So I nearly died from cravings the first few days on the program. And other than being pissed off at the world for eating around me all the time (you know, they constantly eat on TV dammit!), and having the breath of a dragon, I survived the «purge» my body was going through. And on my first weigh-in, after 3.5 days on the strict program, I had dropped 8 pounds. TADA! Don’t care if it is water, don’t care if it will not be that fast for the next round and don’t care if anyone raises an eyebrow at that crazy number. That is what I needed to see to keep the focus going. This weight loss journey was going to be temporary, the big job of weight management would come later which would prove to be the biggest challenge ever!

I won’t bore you with the details of the few following weeks: the diet itself was pretty straight forward and humdrum, to say the least. As I have mentioned, my family and I were moving out of our home. We were so busy trying to purge the house, packing boxes, hosting garage sales and cleaning up; I didn’t have much time to succumb to my own pity party. I was on one track mind only: from here to skinny Minnie whatever it took. Needless to say, the first few weeks just flew by, pretty much at the same rate the pounds did. And we were so physically active moving all the stuff out of our house that I was actually starting to feel a lot better already. Within a week or so of eating air, water and dust, I had ditched the Zantac. Yup, in just a short week: uh-huh, no heartburn going on anymore! That was the number one sign that I was doing the right thing. In the midst of all the chaos, when I least expected it, I received some pretty awesome news: my spot at the hospital’s weight management clinic (covered by my medical insurance) would be available soon, if I was still interested. Still interested???? Are you kidding me? Let me think about that one here for one moment: private clinic at $125/week or weight management clinic funded by OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan). Hmmmmm… private «for profit» weight loss center, or WMC: «for science» bariatric institute?  I think the decision was a no brainer… Both were drastic and both were highly controversial. But I will repeat: I strongly felt (and still do), that the damages I was doing to my body by staying obese far outweighed (excuse the pun) the benefits of shedding the excess weight. These 2 programs were medically supervised including regular visits with doctors and healthcare professionals. I was constantly being assessed for any side effects. My assessment with the lead doctor at WMC was set for June 7th. We were moving our possessions to storage and to our temporary home (the cottage) that very day. Did I miss the appointment? Hell no! We had hired professional movers: they could do the job under the watchful eye of my husband while I was taking care of myself. I was definitely going to that info session, come hell or high water!

June 7th 2013 is a date I will never forget: I was moving AND changing my life forever. As I entered the clinic to attend the information session on the various weight loss solutions offered by the clinic, I was feeling an equal amount of shame and relief. Here I was, sitting in room full of people just like me. If there were smiles on faces, they were sad smiles. The kind of smiles people pin on their faces when grieving a loss… I was not the heaviest nor was I the smallest. Isn’t it funny how we tend to always compare ourselves to a group: as if that would define the very person that we are. And funny that I still thought I probably did not belong there. I was sort of convinced the clinic would turn me down because I was not heavy enough. I was also worried that I may be rejected because I had already started a weight-loss program. As I sat there, assessing all the others, I noticed many with obvious ailments: oxygen tanks, canes, wheelchairs, leg bandages (often seen in diabetic patients), just to name a few. The age group was varied although it seems there were more women than men. The presentation was about 2 to 2.5 hours. They presented the philosophy of the clinic, the various programs available including gastric bypass surgery, the expectations and the cost of the meal replacement program. It would be the only portion of the program that would cost something: the cost of «nourishment». All other services would be covered by OHIP. The lead physician, Dr. D, had done such a great job developing this program and contributing to bariatric research that the province of Ontario had decided to fund the medical weight-loss program about 5 years prior. The most important message I retained from that session was that the obesity I was plagued with was not my fault… What a shocker! You mean to tell me I am not a hopeless, lazy, food orgy lover fat person? Wow! I left feeling empowered and for the first time, I thought maybe I was not such a looser after all. That maybe, just maybe, the science could help me figure this all out according to my body’s needs and genetic markup. It had a name: genetic metabolic disorder! And maybe, just maybe I would be able to manage this condition with scientific knowledge instead of going about it blindfold. But, I still had to wait for a spot… If I was lucky, I would make it into an early fall group. This information session was set merely to explain the various programs and take our registration if we were still interested in joining. It goes without saying that I signed up immediately. Until I was given a start date, I thought I would simply continue to follow the diet at the other private clinic I was attending since I had already purchased an 8 week program. It would mean I would be that much further ahead when I would finally get my spot at this clinic… Although a bit disappointed to not start sooner, I didn’t have time to dwell on it: I had a moving truck to go meet!

The weekend of June 7-11 was particularly trying: I was leaving my HOME forever… It was more profound than simply moving; I was letting go of so much more. I was closing the big, big life chapter of owning a house purchased mainly as a home in which we would raise our children and create a nurturing nest. My dreams as a young woman, longing to have a family of my own and building mental images of children growing up around us, had materialized and they were all what I had ever hoped for.  On moving day, it was hard to accept that this part of my life was now over. That it would never come back… I would never be the mother of young children ever again… Sigh… Ahead was a future that had once seemed so distant it had almost become an afterthought. Many young girls (myself included) dream of meeting Prince Charming, of getting married, of having children, of living in a house with a white picket fence and of living happily ever after. For some reason, the dreams of the future that lies shortly after «happily never after» never seem to spring up in a young person’s mind. The following chapters of life may get the occasional thought or reflection but it invariably starts with: «when we get old…» but never get much further than that. The «getting old» part never seems quite as romantic as the first dreams that’s for sure! And I think safe to say that most of us would rather not think of aging at all, even if it is a privilege to grow old… Well, at any rate, I had reached that time in life. And good for me, I still had the original Prince Charming by my side, still my prince and still charming!!! We had been blessed with two beautiful, intelligent, healthy and happy children. And through my many struggles with weight, even when my body took dangerously wide proportions, my Prince Charming had always stood by my side. Yes, I have been blessed by life so far. All I had to do now at this intersection in my life was to concentrate on the «and they lived happily ever after…»!

As I toured my house in the suburbs for one last time, I was an emotional mess… My eyes were like streams in the spring as I couldn’t hold the tears that were profusely pouring out. I would later blame the redness and puffiness to allergies because God forbid one should show weakness through emotions right? And to make matters worse during that last farewell to a house that had seen my children grow up, I couldn’t even count on my dear, dear, old friend and accomplice for solace. FOOD, my faithful ally, was not available to comfort me… In the past, I would have, without a doubt, pacified the pain and sadness I was experiencing with a comfy meal (or several). Well this time, I was not about to sabotage my weight loss efforts by downing a few sugar-fat-salt laden feasts (because one feast would not be enough). And boy oh boy did I want to drown my sorrows in a bountiful plate. Pretty much like an alcoholic seeking comfort with a bottle of scotch… I took the last walkabout in my empty house by myself, hiccupping and blubbering away like a fool, remembering so vividly the day we had bought the house and the first day we had gotten the keys: it had been a magical moment! This house was so big it made me swell up with pride: I felt so wealthy! Never in a million years had I ever thought that I would someday own such a magnificent house. It had a circular staircase in the foyer and to me, it was as grand as the one Scarlett O’Hara would run up and down in Gone with the Wind. My house was simply beautiful and I loved every minute I lived there. As I entered each room, I closed my eyes and let the memories invade my mind. I could see our Christmas tree standing tall and proud in the living room… I could hear the laughter, the giggles, the pitter-patter of little feet running around and even the brotherly fights between my little boys… I could see (and smell) those stinky hockey bags piling up in the basement and the memory of it made me wrinkle my nose out of habit… I could see my basement fitted for a daycare and scrapbook studio, cramped up by day with toys and the happy children I cared for everyday and filled by night with a lot of amazing women who came to scrapbook… And of course there was the kitchen: the soul of many homes and definitely the soul of mine! And a good kitchen it had been helping me concoct so many chef worthy meals. My house was a happy house: there were dinner parties and birthday parties and Margarita parties and celebrations of all kinds. Every single square inch had a story to tell and thank goodness for my scrapbooks, I was bringing all those stories with me, captured in photos and documented diligently.

I was relieved to have these last intimate and private moments alone with MY house. And after the door was locked for the last time, after gently sweeping my fingers over the mailbox I had tole-painted myself, after sitting in my car looking at the front of the house for a good 5 minutes, it was finally time to go and to let go… It is maybe at that moment that I let go of many things too? But I did not know that yet… At that particular moment in time, filled with the grief of a life past, all I really wanted was a BIG MAC meal, supersize it please, and an extra Quarter Pounder with cheese on the side. Comforting, familiar, filling… To fill that void… But I DID NOT go there! I gave myself the time to breathe and to calm down. As I drove away, I knew I was starting a new exciting chapter of my life: MY life, completely lived and invented by me. Since it had been pretty amazing so far, why should I expect anything less from this moment on?

Seems I was closing more than one door for the very last time…

To be continued…

A work in progress:

The first picture was taken in June 2013, dressed-up as Superman for work, part of a team building exercise. The second picture is one month later, July 2013.