Too fat to climb

Have you ever thought, “I’m too fat/injured/old/lazy to do that thing”? “I’m too fat” is still a pretty common thought that I have even after losing nearly 50kg with the help of weight loss surgery. My partner suggested rock climbing as an activity we could do together. We were both obese when he put forward this suggestion and my initial thought was, “I’m too fat for that, I’m just going to fall but I guess I’ll give it a go”. I wasn’t very good on my first session but atleast I didn’t fall off the wall. I enjoyed it so much that I signed up for membership and I’ve been climbing now for 3 months. The progress is slow, I’m still on mostly level 0, I’m often the fattest person in the gym and I’ve even seen many first time climbers make more progress in their first session than I have seen in 3 months. But I try not to care and I’m still enjoying it.

Another activity that I’ve been exploring is running. I don’t like it much yet but I’ve heard people grow to enjoy it. I’m exploring the Nike Run app. I’ve had many failures trying to start this program but that’s ok. The first set back was a foot injury that’s pretty common with being flat footed. Went to my podiatrist, got some new inner souls and stretches for the injury. The second time I started the program I had too many other things happening that it just wasn’t sticking. This third time I started I got through 2 weeks of the program, dropped off a little in week 3 but atleast picked it back up for week 4. Talking about being too fat to run, I was researching tips for getting started. I came across a support group for fat people wanting to get into running. Once I get through this Nike Run getting started program I’ll look into joining too fat to run. Today my run involved running to grumpy doughnuts for a passionfruit filled doughnuts. OMG, was so yummy. Check out their Instagram here.

There are no secrets to living a healthy lifestyle. Try a bunch of activities to see what you enjoy. Get friends and family involved. The list of things that I’d like to try include; pole dancing, rowing, roller derby and swing dancing.

So if you find yourself saying I’m too fat, just give it a go and listen to your body. Don’t push yourself too hard and you might surprise yourself with what you can do.

The 5 elements of my health

I have 5 elements of health/well-being that are important to me and that have a huge impact on my overall well-being when just one is lacking. They all have cascading effects on my overall enjoyment of life.

First up is my physical health. To me this is what I eat, how well I poop, how much I exercise and how well I’m sleeping. One of the easiest ways for me to experience a minor relapse of depression is not getting enough sleep. My menstrual cycle creates natural high’s and lows that impact my physical health, e.g. some women get less sleep/irregular bowel movements during PMS or during menstration. It’s not generally a fun time. My bad ankle/sciatic nerve injury have contributed negatively to my physical health. I’ve caught a cold recently which is putting a little downer on this part of my health.

Next is mental health. This can be general satisfaction with life but is more often associated with depression. When I’m not going through a bout of depression I would say that I have good mental health. Mindfulness therapy has helped me develop my mental health but it’s something I can always work on improving this. My period is a good time for a mental health check, if I’m in a poor mental state I’m more likely to turn into a blubbering mess around that poor time of month.

I also have financial well being, social and sexual health in my list. I could classify sexual health as a sub component of physical health but I find it important enough to mention on it’s own. I feel really lucky to have a partner where I’m comfortable exploring this side of me, I will save you the details but it has been rare for me to find a partner that I can explore with ;). When I don’t have my financial well being under control I’m more stressed and can’t function as well. Social well being comes from friends and family. I have worked hard to develop my sense of community and I’m grateful for it.

Since my weight loss surgery I have generally felt more in control of my life and all elements of my health have improved. It’s pretty amazing. Now I’ve still had some hiccups and I’m working on some behaviour that I’d like to tweak but these hiccups haven’t caused any long term downward spirals yet and I hope that I continue to take life’s bumps and hiccups in my stride.

Some people might also consider spiritual health to be important but it’s not critical for me. What other elements of health are important for you?

Sammy’s dieting rant

TL;DR:
Try to eat a mixture of less processed fruit/vegies with less processed meats, try not to over do it with fats/carbs/sugar and you should have a pretty balanced diet. Also check out CSIRO’S total well being diet.

Now I don’t diet, it’s such a horrible word. I do try to live a healthy lifestyle and try to make healthy food choices, there are times where I go “F it, I want chocolate” and it’s ok to have those moments and not feel guilty about it. As long as I don’t do too much damage which having a smaller stomach helps control.

Lots of things are marketed as “healthy” when they aren’t. Learning how to read food nutrition labels is a good start. I look at ratios of fat to carbs to protein. I also look at ratio of carbs to fibre to assess if something really is “high fibre” if it’s trying to market itself as that.

Knowing that 1 tablespoon of sugar is 20 grams is a good guide for measuring how much sugar is in things e.g. fruit juice is horrible for sugar.

Understand that we are horrible at guessing how much we eat, even when calory counting we will still grossly underestimate serving sizes. You can combat this by using smaller plates and weighing out recomended serving sizes. We also have a tendency to eat more when we think something is healthy.

Fats and sugar aren’t really the enemy and protein is not this amazing thing just because everyone keeps raving on about it. Over consumption is the enemy, your body is an amazing self regulating machine.

Every cell in body needs sugar to survive, your body will convert carbs/fats/proteins into sugar (in that order) to support your body. Eat too many fats/carbs and your body will store it as fat, eat too much protein and you’ll have smelly expensive poo.

It doesn’t really matter if/how you skip meals. Intermittent fasting is a tactic that lots of people use to keep their overall food consumption low and stomach capacity down. E.g. I’ll often skip breakfast if I haven’t been to the gym in the morning. It doesn’t matter when you eat your large meals. There is a lot of misinformation out there around this though so tread carefully.

There are some things you can only get from your diet and they usually start with the name essential, e.g. essential amino acids (the building blocks for protein) can not be created in the body and need to come from your diet. This doesn’t mean essential oils are essential in any way though, that’s just misleading marketing.

Try to eat a mixture of fresh-ish fruit/vegies (nothing wrong with frozen) with less processed meats, try not to over do it with fats/carbs/sugar and you’ll have a pretty balanced diet. Processed foods tend to have higher amounts of fat/carbs because these are really tasty and these tasty enhancements help companies sell more food. If you need recipe ideas check out CSIRO’s total well being diet, it’s backed by science and isn’t the latest fad.

You can even try cutting out meat/dairy for a little bit if you are up for it. I’ve seen many people have success on the vegetarian/vegan diet. You don’t need to worry about protein if you are eating a mixture of things (e.g. peas, beans, legumes and nuts have some protein). Be careful with nuts though, it’s easy to over do because of the high fat content. I’ve challenged myself with periods of vegetarianism.

It’s easier to overconsume when alcohol is involved. I’ve challenged myself with dry periods when I’ve wanted to focus on my health.

40 kg down

I had weight loss surgery just over 5 months ago. I’m now down to 87kg which equates to 40kg lost. I’m starting to notice a bit of loose skin but I’m ok with that. This is what 40kg weight loss looks like in photos:

40kg down

40 kg loss side view

I still have another 8kg to go before I beat obesity and another 20kg before I’m no longer considered overweight.

Weight loss, where does that weight go?

Have you ever wondered when we lose weight, where does it go? Turning it into energy is the common preconception but chemistry doesn’t work that way, you can’t create energy from mass (easily). Have a read through this article by science alert.

Turns out we breathe out most of our weight as Carbon Dioxide(CO2). This is probably why high intensity cardio vascular exercise is encouraged for weight loss, you breathe more and therefore expel more carbon. If you are weighing yourself as an indicator of weight loss, it’s generally recommended to weigh yourself at the same time of day under roughly the same conditions. For example, I weight myself in the morning, after I’ve gone to the toilet and just before I jump into the shower (so I’m naked). Have you ever weighed yourself during the day and observed the fluctuations? Or if you are female, have noticed a few kilo’s creep on just before that time of month? Our weight varies, alot.

We breathe in oxygen and out comes CO2, where does that carbon come from? Nearly everything we eat is based on carbon. CARBoyhydrates get their name from CARBon. Sugars are simple, short chained and are easy for us to turn into fuel for our bodies to do things with, that’s why we think they are tasty. Alcohol is like a sugar but with an alcohol molecule added to the end of it. Fat’s are more complicated but still based on carbon chains just linked together a little differently. Proteins are even more complicated (your DNA helps create proteins and that’s pretty complicated stuff). The field of science that is based on the study of carbon based chemistry is called organic chemistry and we aren’t just talking about organic fruit and veg here either. Plastics and fuel for your car also fall under organic chemistry.

Trees consume CO2, so by losing weight you are encouraging trees to grow. Fancy that.

Salts are an example of chemicals we consume that aren’t based on carbon and they are useful for many other things in your body; from you heart pumping to your nerve’s transmitting pain signals. Think; anything electrical needs salt. While I’m on the subject of salt, there is actually no conclusive scientific information that too much salt is bad for you, don’t believe me? watch this.

People tend to weigh less in the morning then at night time. This means most of your weight loss happens when you are sleeping. What’s happening when you sleep? Your body is repairing itself. In the brain there is a build of chemicals during they day that can be toxic if they aren’t cleared out of the system on a regular basis. Listen to Tell me something I don’t know from 22:41 to listen from a sleep doctor about this.

When you are sleeping, it’s like your body does a stocktake of it self. It goes, “hmm, how much fuel do I need to do stuff with?”. If you have consumed excess fuel, your body is going to store it for later. If you haven’t consumed enough fuel, you body will breakdown fuel from storage, use it and breathe it out. It feels like there is a preference to store fuel, evolutionarily speaking this is easy for us to do and it has helped us survive as a species. Our bodies have many different tactics it can deploy to ensure survival. For example, starvation mode is a state your body can go into to preserve energy. E.g. with my recent rapid weight loss from surgery my menstrual cycle was out of whack. It’s like my body went, “CRISIS, CRISIS, we are in starvation mode, we do not have enough resources to sustain another human being, put the breaks on the baby making machine NOW”. My menstrual cycle seems to be back to a regular rhythm now.

So “burning energy” is not really an accurate scientific term but it’s all chemistry.

6 weeks post surgery

wow. Things are starting to feel more “normal” now. I’ve had some hiccups along the way but overall I’m very pleased with my recovery. I’m now down 20kg. I was meant to take 2 weeks off after surgery to recover but I was feeling well enough to get back to work after 1 week. I was up and walking about my ward just a few hours after surgery, I was discharged after 2 nights in hospital. I had some yoghurt a few days after surgery and it was the nicest yoghurt I had eaten. ever.

In the first few weeks after surgery, I found it uncomfortable to sit down. I had pinched a standing desk at work and was doing a lot of walking.

My first slip up happened a week after surgery, we were having a diwali festival at work and I made some gulab jamuns for it. My downfall was I like to sample my food as I bake. So I had 3 gulab jamuns and I had to lie down and moan for a bit because my stomach was too full. I felt like chundering but I didn’t. It was like when you eat too much at christmas time and you feel like lying down and moaning afterwards but it was a tiny amount of food that made me feel like that. My next slip up was Melbourne cup, at work we had everyone bring in a plate of food. I find it hard to want to sample everything. I overate a little and had to lie down for half an hour afterwards.

The post surgery diet hasn’t been horrible. On an average day I now have some yoghurt for breakfast, a tin of tuna for lunch, some sort of protein beverage during the day and dinner is more varied. Some days I’ve forgotten to eat breakfast. I’m not really hungry much. When they remove that much stomach they remove a large portion of the cells that produce the hunger hormone ghrelin.

In 2 weeks in back to “normal” food but I will always have to prioritize protein and nutrient rich vegetables. I’ve still had some emotional lows but I hope they get less intense as time goes on. I’m glad now that I’ve gone through the procedure. I feel like I’m taking control of my health rather than letting my emotions dictate my health. It’s still hard though, there’s many habits I still need to break. The idea of many sweets now grosses me out, it’s the idea of “if I ate all of that I would feel physically sick”. I’m happy to sample sweets but the size of dessert servings almost makes me feel ill. It’s a lot easier for me to waste food now.

1 day before surgery

I have my first ever surgery tomorrow. I’m nervous yet excited. The pre surgery diet has been ok. When I was in Melbourne 2 weeks ago for a conference I slipped up and I didn’t stick to the diet completely. Part of me feels like a failure for needing to rely on surgery to get on top of my health, it feels like I didn’t care enough about my health to want to do anything about it. But a few months ago, I tried a liquid food diet with the idea of , “if I can keep this up, I don’t need surgery” but I couldn’t keep it up and that was a realization for me.

I’m an emotional and experience eater. When I’m upset I often want to eat my emotions, I didn’t sleep very well while in Melbourne and I was a bit pre menstrual. So we can say my emotions were running high. I also find it hard to walk past a new experience, one of my undoings on my road trip was wanting to try all of the country towns pies. If I’m surrounded by a feast of food, I want to try everything at least once.

other than the slip up in Melbourne I’ve been ok with the diet. At least I’m not a boredom eater or an over obsessive clean eater. What type of eater are you?

Fatness and You Can’t Ask That

I was watching an abc iView episode about fatness on a series called You Can’t ask That and I thought I would also answer their questions. So here goes it.

Why Are you so fat?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been fat. As a kid I was encouraged to eat everything off my plate, had asthma and loved playing video games. As an adult I’ve struggled with depression and I’ve had some bad behaviours around food develop.

Do people treat you differently because you’re fat?

Yes, I was always bullied as a kid for being overweight, it’s not as bad now but I have been called a whale on dating sites before. there is also an unconscious bias towards fatness, it signals laziness, disregard for health, overeating and poor lifestyle choices. This bias impacts fat people’s access to health care and earning potential. I’m concerned that during my career someone will judge as lazy and recognize the hard work I’ve put in. I tend to over compensate by over committing and ensuring I’m heard.

How do you wipe your butt?

I don’t, lol that’s not true I wipe my butt with toilet paper. If you really want to know, I wipe from the front because of easier access. I know this comes with higher risk of bacteria infections. I once had someone ask me, “How big is your shit?”, how does someone respond to that?

How do you feel about the word “Obese”?

Feel? it’s a medical term to classify fatness. I don’t have any feelings towards it, is indifferent a feeling? I know I’m obese, just like I know I’m fat.

When was the last time you were skinny?

Maybe when I was 3, before I had proper memory so I don’t remember. I have lost weight before but I’ve never been skinny.

Why don’t you just eat less?

I have mental health issues, if it was just that easy than I wouldn’t be this fat and we wouldn’t be talking about the impending obesity epidemic in developed countries. That is a simplified understanding to a complex problem that is different for everyone. Diets aren’t sustainable, those industries don’t want you to keep the weight off, also we are constantly being bombarded/tempted with food. Alcoholics are told to avoid alcohol, I can’t exactly avoid food.

Are you worried about your health?

Fuck yes, that’s why I’m going through weight loss surgery next week. I want to try to mitigate some of health risks that come with long term obesity.

How do you feel about airplane seats?

They aren’t designed for comfort, it’s always nice when you get an empty seat next to you or get the emergency exit rows with a bit of extra legroom. The first time I had to ask for a seat belt extension was nerve racking but after that it was ok. The first time I struggled with my seatbelt brought on a depressive episode, when the seats start to feel comfortable again it’s a little boost in confidence to show me the progress I’ve made. I always try to strike up conversations with the people I travel with and I’ve met some interesting people this way.

Do you exercise?

Yes, I need to do more but the fact that I have more weight means I use more energy just moving about. It’s great in winter but horrible in summer. Once I’ve recovered from surgery I will be getting back into a good routine.

Is sex difficult when you’re fat?

In my experience, no. I’m not exactly going to be doing standing 69ers really easily, but where there is a will there is a way. It might require a bit more prep and a bit of rope but I could still do standing 69ers if I really wanted to. Also if someone doesn’t like my weight, I’m not forcing them to sleep with me. I try to find non judgemental people to sleep with anyway.

If you could weigh less tomorrow would you?

Yes. This is like asking, if you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you spend it on? In the abc iview I really like the quote, “I could take a dump and I’d weigh less in 5 minutes, if you like”. I would prefer to focus on my health rather than some arbitrary weight number. I could weigh less if I went to the moon. My health is so much more than my weight, there’s physical, mental and social health.

33 days BS (before surgery)

I’ve done all of my pre surgery appointments; I’ve had my blood tests, nutritionist appointment and doctors appointment. I’ve decided to test out the pre surgery diet starting today. I don’t need to start the pre surgery diet until 2 weeks before surgery but I’d thought I’d test it out a little early. I’m currently 126kg with a BMI of 47.

this pre surgery diet involves having optifast for 3 meals a day, snacking on low carb vegies, drinking plenty of water and avoiding all sugary drinks. I’m aloud to drink black coffee and tea. Here’s an example of what I’ve been consuming today:

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I’m 2 meals into my first day and my verdict is it’s not completely horrible. It’s not as bad as I thought it would be. Sure I’ve been hungry and food is everywhere but the 2 shakes so far haven’t tasted horrible and I’ve been able to explore the coffee scene in Perth. I’ve basically been exploring Perth via lane ways and espresso. Perth has a good coffee culture and I haven’t struggled finding good coffee.

Just before lunch, I did feel a little lite headed. I was doing research yesterday on loose skin after surgery and I’m a little concerned that I’ll have loose skin around my thighs which could make exercising difficult but it’s the price I might pay for trying to become a healthier me.

Here’s some more photos from today:

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Surgery, Surgery

Those words remind me of “Repo! The Genetic opera” and this catchy song:

Repo! is a musical set in some future time where people are addicted to surgery/body modifications. And if you can’t pay the repayments the repo man will come and take back what was modified; leaving people dead, disabled or otherwise incapacitated. It’s an interesting reflection on our consumerist society.

Anyway, I digress. The reason I’m thinking about surgery is because I’ve booked myself in for weight loss surgery for mid October. This will be my first ever operation. I feel like this is a sensitive topic. By now it seems that a sensitive topic = time for me to write a blog post about it. I feel like this is a extreme procedure but I obviously have an issue with my weight and I haven’t been able to fix it completely on my own. I currently weigh 126 kg and it puts my BMI at 47 which is in the, “Morbidly Obese” category. I’m going for the sleeve option where they remove 4/5ths of the stomach and staple it up. There’s around a 1 to 4 week recovery time.

I would like to take a risk based approach to this surgery. Being obese increases my risks of developing type 2 diabetes, poor mobility, poor mental health, reduced life span and reduced quality of life. Most people think life is a priceless thing that should be protected/preserved no matter what. By doing an extreme thing like weight loss surgery, I will greatly increase my chances of having a longer, more fulfilling life. My goal is to get my waistline below 80cm, I don’t actually care about the weight itself that much. My weight does impact my mental health and my mental health has been something shocking recently.

 

Would you consider almost any options to get a few more quality years later on in life?