Thursday, April 02, 2015

My Weight-Loss Journey (Why I decided to undertake it, and why I've decided to share it.)

Some of you may remember me mentioning in a blog post a few years ago that I had decided to undergo gastric bypass surgery.
Well, because of various health issues (I have multiple sclerosis along with a few other issues), I put off pursuing the surgery until earlier this year.
In the meantime, I bought a Vitamix in January, and started drinking daily green smoothies in early February.
By March, people started telling my skin had taken on a glow; I no longer had to take diabetes medicine since my diabetes disappeared, and my blood pressure stabilized and I was taken off of high-blood pressure medication.
Also in early February I went to the required orientation for bypass surgery. The nurse who was giving the orientation was talking about what would be required of patients, both pre-surgery and post-surgery. One of the things she said was that patients would have to restrict their caloric intake to about 1,000 calories per day after the surgery in order to lose weight.
I raised my hand and asked: "Well, if that's the case, couldn't we just restrict our caloric intake now and just skip the surgery?"
There were seven people attending the orientation besides me. A few chuckled. At least one just went ahead and let out a long and loud laugh. The nurse gave me an amused look and said: "Well, obviously, if you were able to do that, you wouldn't be here, now would you?"
Now, for those who don't know me well, let me explain something . . . I have always had the belief that I could do anything.
I'm quite sure I could learn how to build a nuclear reactor and then build one -- I just choose not to.
Yes, I knew that caloric intake was a key factor in losing weight, but I never committed myself to learning about portion control and the science of counting calories because it seemed so much work and so hard to maintain that I always figured there had to be a better way.
Read the above paragraph again, please.
I never thought I couldn't do it, I just felt that if there was an easier route to weight-loss, I would just take that.
For the nurse to say that it "obvious" that I was incapable of restricting my caloric intake without the help of surgery, really bothered me. I didn't argue with her, nor did I say anything else during the remainder of the orientation. I was too busy thinking.

I was quite slim as a child and in my teens, and while I gained a few pounds in my late teens and early twenties. When I enlisted in the U. S. Navy in 1980, I was documented as five feet even, and 118 pounds.

But my weight slowly started creeping up in my mid-twenties. I was a whole 143 pounds (eek!) when I was twenty-seven and found out I was pregnant with my daughter. I went up to 195 pounds during my pregnancy, but three months after Camille was born -- in April 1987 -- I was back down to 147.
Three years later I was up to 165.
Thirteen years after that I was up to 210.
I then went on a carbohydrate limiting diet, and after only six months I was back down to 185, and quite proud of myself. I maintained that weight for a year but, then, in late 2004 . . .
 . . . I was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
So 2005 was a hectic year for me.

January, I threw an engagement party for my brother, Joe Quinones. I live in Philadelphia, and the party had to be held in Queens, NY since his fiancée's family lived there, so it was kind of difficult planning and transporting all the party stuff.
February, Found out I was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for my fourth novel, Ida B.
March, I flew to Los Angeles (I live in Philadelphia) to attend the ceremony. (I lost to T. D. Jakes.)
April, I had to go prom dress shopping for Camille who was about to go on her senior prom, two weeks later I had to cradle her in my arms when she was put on suspension (rightfully so, by the way) and couldn't attend the  prom.
May, I had to attend my daughter's high school graduation. And at the last minute at that. She had decided she was going to boycott the ceremony since Central High School had the nerve to ban her from the prom, but then at 10:00 the morning of the ceremony (which was scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m.)  she came into my bedroom to say she changed her mind. We hurriedly showered and dressed and drove downtown to the graduation, and got there 30 seconds after her name had been called. But her best friend grabbed her and said: "Don't worry, they haven't called my name yet. You'll just walk with me." So Camille walked with her, and I got to applaud my daughter receiving her high school diploma.
June, I underwent successful surgery to remove my brain tumor.
July, I wrote 25,000 words to meet my deadline and complete my fifth novel, Passin'.
August, I drove from Philadelphia to Atlanta to bring Camille to her new school, Clark Atlanta University. I stayed three days, shopping for furnishing for her dorm room, going to various orientations, etc. Then I drove back, alone, to Philadelphia.
September, I arranged and hosted the Rehearsal Dinner for my brother's wedding. Then participated, as a principal, in the elaborate (and so beautiful!) Yoruba wedding ceremony the next day. 

Dang if I remember the rest of the year, but I do know that by late December I weighed 215 pounds.
When I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, in 2008, I was 235 pounds.
By December 2014, I was 287. Yikes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, I go to that gastric bypass surgery orientation in February.  And I decide I don't need gastric bypass surgery.
I can do it on my own.
I can do anything, remember?

The reason I decided to document my journey?
Well, for one, I thought by letting everyone know what I was doing it, it would keep me from backsliding.
Secondly, I figure there might people who might benefit from reading what I'm doing. Maybe I can motivate them.

Or, maybe some folks will find it entertaining!

Either way, if you do decide to follow me on this journey, I hope you'll leave comments to let me know what you think!!


Unknown said...

Karen thank you so much for sharing your journey. Like you, I am in the process of losing weight. I love & support you; we can do this!

Anonymous said...

Great Blog Karen. I'm going to do it too over here on the WestSide. 1K calories per day and walking 4 miles 5 times per week. Vonda

Unknown said...

Karen- your mission to lose weight, on your own terms, is a true inspiration to all of us. Keep up the good work. You got this. :)

sapphireblue said...

This is a big inspiration for me. This is a big step. Go for it. You got this

Anonymous said...

I'm so intrigued by your decision to bypass the surgery option, and try this instead. It makes complete sense. I'm rooting for your success and hoping your success will inspire others (especially me!)

Ochani Lele said...

I'm proud of you!

Fasaha M Traylor said...

So, no exercise? I'm intrigued on the calorie-counting front; 1,000 calories a day means you really have to control those portions. How are you doing it?

And going through what you've been through, well, I guess it's no wonder you weren't paying attention to your weight! Who could've?

jan said...

Yay for you! As a physician I am interested in hearing how you feel about things as you go along...what obstacles you encounter and how you deal with them. If this were easy, everyone would be successful. In order to help our patients, we need to understand the journey...up/down, easy/difficult, victory/defeat. Thanks so much for sharing.

Unknown said...

Gone girl! Damn right you can do it! And I would've felt the same way about the comment she made. We can do whatever we want :) You've given me very useful info in this post. I may not always get to comment, but know I'm lurking and supporting.

Unknown said...

I admire your courage and thanks for letting us in such a sensitive space of yours. I read this book you wrote about you basically you went through a lot and your still hear like an energizing bunny so I said that to say this don't stop fight like you have always because you motivate people like me.... Your strength is nothing but God and I can't wait for you to shine ....

Danesejoan said...

Looking forward to following your journey Karen. Your candor and spunk have inspired me since we met. No doubts here that you will achieve your goals. No doubts either that your story will help many other people.

DawnM said...

Thank you for sharing your brave journey! Your triumphs and tribulations are an inspiration to others!

Peggy Fisher said...

Congratulations on taking charge of your health. It is a difficult journey, but you have accepted the challenge. I am rooting for you!

Unknown said...

Alafia, great blog entries. Can you share what the green drink contains? Not sure if I'd drink but I'd at least try it. I am diabetic too now on insulin and would love to get rid of it too.

Noemi aka Omi Yale

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