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How to Lose Weight When Obese and In Pain (Part 1)

Let me start with the standard disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, a nutritionist, a therapist, a nurse, pharmacist, etc… This should be construed as nothing more than my personal suggestions based on my personal experiences to date. As usual, consult your physician before starting any exercise program, etc, etc… Use common sense above all else.

Introduction

This is written to and for other fat people. These posts (hopefully) will be the written progression of my efforts. If you have scrolled through a few of my previous posts (well, one of them really, I guess) you will know that I am fat. Well, and I just sort of gave it away a sentence ago. How fat… I do not yet wish to divulge. Let’s just say, I’m huge, but functional. More on that in a minute.

The Back (and Knee, and Hip) Story

I’ve been fat all my life that I can remember. Almost every photo ever taken of me shows me fat. The only exceptions are photos taken when I was maybe 5 years old? I am not sure my exact age since I didn’t have enough self-awareness at it. All the clothes I remember wearing when I was growing up in school were large. I shared clothes with my mom at a relatively young age, and not at all in a good way. (My mom is overweight, though she’s lost a lot of weight in recent years and was never as large as I am now.)

I got teased about my weight only twice in school. Both times were during middle school. I was a loner and extremely shy for most of my young life because I knew that I wasn’t “normal” (other reasons for that too, but weight was a primary one). Since I couldn’t wear clothes for someone my age, I often had to dress in “women’s” clothes. If you have ever compared “women’s” fashions to “junior” fashions, you’ll see why that was a big deal (especially when I was of school-age).

I was mostly left alone, but occasionally I had well-intentioned family members occasionally trying to tell me what I could do to lose weight. I had multiple people around me who were thin and attractive and I could never compare. In high school, it was as to be expected with guys. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to take note of what types of girls guys usually are seen talking to and realize you’re not one of them.

I was depressed off and on throughout my life and again, other contributing factors to that, but at one point weight was one of the largest (har, har) factors. I remember thinking in my dramatic, teenage mind that no guy would ever love me based on various things and one of the main ones, weight. I felt suicidal at times. Dramatic thinking, yes, but again I was a teenager and I didn’t know any better at that point.

It wasn’t so much that I thought “What guy would ever want me?” that made me feel suicidal as it was “Who would ever love me?

Occasionally in my life, I have felt as though I’m viewed as some sort of monster.  (It’s kind of weird admitting this on the internet but hey, that’s what blogs are for, right?) That lends heavily (har, har, har) to the way of thinking behind “Who would ever love me?”

Nevertheless, I still obviously made friends (and influenced people?). My best friend is still my best friend to this day, I love her like a sister, and she is a wonderful asset in my life. However, it was her mom who actually and unknowingly planted a thought in my head that I’ve kept for over 20 years now.

My best friend’s mom was very large when we were kids (still is/is again). She “couldn’t” do much of anything except walk short distances, such as to and from the car. I found out later that she actually was capable of doing more than that, but chose not to. Nevertheless, being around her stuck with me. I decided long ago that no matter how fat I ever got, I still had to be able to function.

Function.

Let that sink in for a minute.

The Problems

If you go back to the previous post I mentioned, you’ll know that I have had knee problems for over a year now. It started when I worked at a job that required me to walk a lot and initially I lost weight. Later on they changed the position and I walked a lot less, but still ate as if I walked a lot. One day, while descending a flight of steps, my knee began to hurt. I didn’t think much of it at the time but I stopped using the stairs.

Early last year, before leaving that job and before moving, I developed a case of sciatica. I wasn’t sure at the time that it was sciatica, but I developed pain in my left leg that started around my hip and radiated downward. Sitting, laying, everything was OK except for walking. Walking would hurt unless I limped. It was weird and a nuisance, but it wasn’t intolerable. I didn’t think much of it.

The limp stuck around. At one point, I walked around the neighborhood for about an hour and over the course of that time, the limp would go away and I could actually walk normal. I did that a few times, but not consistently. I was also eating out a lot.

Things got worse.

Much worse. I don’t remember exactly how it transitioned, but within a few months my annoying limp turned into a virtually unusable leg. Pain became vastly more intense constant. It began to hurt when I stood up for any time period. Sitting was better, but still painful. Only laying down was tolerable, and eventually even that was difficult. I am a side sleeper and if I rolled over in a certain position, or moved my leg a certain way, pain would shoot from my hip down to my shin.

When I stood, my lower back, hip, and my shin would be in intense pain. My shin would feel like it was burning. My hip felt like someone was stabbing me with a knife. My lower back has given me problems off and on for years, but I think in this case it felt painful too because of everything else going on.

And I still had the knee pain.

Eventually I got over the sciatica (I might write another post just for that, though it was nothing new or shocking). However, during the time that I had it I couldn’t stand. I couldn’t stand long enough to cook for myself, so I ate out constantly. This was detrimental to both my finances and my health. I still walked with a limp and now, if I stayed on my leg too long it would shake from the pain. I had virtually no other option during that time.

I was barely functional.

When I came out of it, I still had the knee pain and now it was worse. I originally only experienced knee pain going down the stairs. Now I experienced it going up or down them. It was much more preferable than the hip problems, sure, but it was still very aggravating. I developed a bizarre fear of stairs because I knew that it would hurt. It didn’t matter if it was 3 flights of stairs or just 1 lone stair, it would hurt.

Eventually I just sucked it up and resigned myself to the idea that it would hurt but I still had to do it. I live around stairs. There are stairs where I live. There are stairs where I work. There are stairs, curbs, sidewalks, and other things to step onto or off of almost everywhere you go. Sure, there is usually a spot for wheelchairs or shopping carts where it is a small ramp instead of stairs, but that isn’t the case everywhere. It also began to hurt when standing up or sitting down. It hurt more often than not, any time I had to use my knees.

Summary

Quite a mess, right? I know that’s long, but I wanted to give you an idea of just how far down I am coming up from. When I read about people who have 30 extra pounds and are complaining about how they feel, I want to smack them. And then, I want to smack myself. Without divulging my exact weight (yet), I will say that I am carrying a full additional (overweight) person. 30 extra pounds is what, a toddler? Can you carry a toddler? Try carrying yourself.

As I said, I am writing this to and for other fat people. I use the word fat because I hate the word “obese”. Clinically, I am “morbidly obese”. But you know, “obese” sounds worse than “fat”.

O… B… Even the letters used in the word are fat. The O is like someone’s belly, and the B is like someone standing from the side. Right?? Seriously, is that a coincidence? Does it come from some Latin word or was someone trying to be “cute”?

Anyway, I want you to know that I am not some thin person or some athletic type who has never lived a day in your shoes and wants to tell you “It’s easy, just do _____”. Hopefully the person reading this is in a similar boat – maybe not as far out in the ocean as me (or perhaps, even farther) – but someone who knows where I am coming from.

So here is the laundry list of problems I have been battling (TMI WARNING AHEAD):

  • Knee pain – when squatting/crouching, going up or down stairs, sitting up or down
  • Lower back pain – occasional intense flare-ups but mostly mild, especially occurs when waking
  • Hip pain (sciatica) – included because it set off a lot of other issues, and also because I have had other mild flare-ups since the first intense episode
  • Pre-diabetes (I’m seriously amazed I’ve never been diagnosed with diabetes)
  • Skin issues (due to skin touching other skin where it shouldn’t)
  • Digestive/gastric issues – frequent experience stomach pain after meals, won’t mention all the other fun
  • Mild asthma – primarily exists as exercise-induced asthma, but also when I get sick
  • Irregular menstruation (I don’t usually consider this a “problem” though, to be honest)
  • General fatigue/low energy – though sometimes “lazy” was also “avoiding pain”
  • Sugar cravings/strong cravings for sweets – you might not consider this a “problem” but when you’re experiencing it, it certainly is!
  • Depression
  • Plus other stuff I can’t think of off hand! (It’s late, sorry.)

As the title says, this is only part 1. In fact, this is the tip of the iceberg.

So before you say, “This tells me nothing about ‘how to lose weight’! Where is ‘part 2’?” here is piece of advice number one:

What works for one person may not work for the next, so focus on what works for you.

PS – Keep that in mind since there will be a quiz later! That is the most basic focus and motivation of my entire “program” I’ve created for myself. More on that next time!

How to Stop Biting Your Nails (And Maybe Other Things Too)

Er, I meant to say how to stop biting your nails and maybe other bad habits, not how to stop biting nails and biting other things. Unless you do bite other things. I mean I hope you aren’t biting any other non-food items to begin with but… You know what?

Let’s just continue.

The Problem

I have bitten my nails for years. I was doing this ever since I was a child. I would bite my nails down to nothing, and still be tempted to bite at them more. They would hurt, bleed, and I’d still want to nibble at them.

English: red nails

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My mom would get after me for biting my nails, and we tried “everything” to help me stop. Fingernail polish didn’t work. Bitter fingernail polish didn’t work. Nail strengtheners didn’t work. Nothing worked.

Fakes weren’t any better since they weakened my nails – which made me want to bite them off completely since I didn’t like feeling my nails so weak and flimsy.

One day, while gnawing at my fingers into adulthood, I stopped to think about what might be causing this behavior in myself. I discovered something both terrible and wonderful: I bit them all the time, regardless of events, circumstances or environment.

I realized there was no distinct pattern to my habit.

I would bite my nails while anxious, relaxed, happy, sad, any time. I could be busy, or bored. It happened more while bored, but I think that’s merely a product of having more time to do it.

As I thought more about it, the cause finally dawned on me.

The Solution

For some reason, I’ve had a mild oral fixation most my life also. This is especially evident when I eat. Some foods I will eat like a normal adult, but I’ve always loved to play with my food.

I don’t make mashed potato castles or anything, but I do like to break apart foods with my teeth before eating them. Corn, for example, I will peel the skin off and squish the middle out of – right before chewing and swallowing. I do virtually the same thing with edamame. After popping a bean out, I will pull the beans out of their skin, and bite each half into littler pieces.

English: A variety of nail clippers, including...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I honestly don’t know what compels me to do this or how many other people have this compulsion. (Do you?) It doesn’t take me hours to eat or anything to where it’s a problem, it’s just something I do when I can and depending what I’m eating.

Where does this help with a nail biting habit?

Simple – it’s the reason.

Rough edges.

My eyes, hands, and mouth just couldn’t stand to have rough nails. I realized that I never bit my nails when they were smooth, unless they got too long (i.e. too flexible – as you might expect I have weak nails). When they break, feel sharp or rough, or feel like they are on the verge of breaking – I can’t handle it. I have to chew them off.

Biting them off doesn’t leave a clean, smooth edge like clippers. That leads to more biting in an impossibly endless quest for smooth nails.

I was able to immediately stop the habit by cutting my nails down very short and filing them smooth. I cut them down to a point where they wouldn’t “feel like they might break”, to avoid the temptation to chew them until they did.

I also kept a nail file with me so that they were constantly smooth. If I got a snag of any kind, I could file it away to avoid biting at it.

It worked perfectly.

The very few times I’ve ever broken a nail without a file handy (after discovering the solution), I was instantly tempted to nibble at it again. Sometimes I even did. But it never became an issue again because I knew to get a nail file or clippers as soon as possible and I wouldn’t fall into the habit again.

Other Problems

The point of this isn’t so much about the actual nail biting habit. It’s about the contemplation about oneself that is required to determine the why behind it. Nail biting, like most other bad habits, is merely a symptom of another problem. Nails aren’t tasty or interesting and aren’t appetizing to look at, so it isn’t about the nails themselves.

Problems

Problems (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

This is why things like bitter nail polishes weren’t enough to deter me. It wasn’t about an express desire to munch my nails. (That sounds really gross. Not as gross as the actual habit is, but still really gross.)

The problem was about a mild obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) tendency I possess, my oral fixation.

I realize that solving the nail biting doesn’t solve the compulsion problem, but had I not stopped and reflected on my behaviors I wouldn’t have figured out that much even.

The Mentality

I tend to lean toward the, “There’s always a solution, it’s just a matter of finding it” mentality, even to a fault at times. The right words, the right actions, the right environment change – if we can find the cause, we can figure out the solution.

I know this isn’t always true, and is almost never this simple.

But let’s start with who you know best – yourself.

The brain

The brain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You may not be able to use this logic when dealing with others, but you can often use it on yourself, provided you are willing to reflect on your life.

I frequently reflect on my life, my choices, and my actions. Why do I think like this? Why do I feel so strongly about this? Some things you know right away, others require some deep thinking.

Some things you may realize about yourself but be unable to provide a reason for – and that’s OK. Maybe one day it will come to you, or maybe thinking about another aspect of your life will eventually lead you to it. Maybe finding the reason will take a few days, months, or even years.

Through contemplation and reflection, I have determined many behaviors that I otherwise hadn’t taken explicit notice of. I’ve also gained understanding about reasons behind such behaviors or patterns I have.

Maybe you are in and out of bad relationships constantly, and can’t figure out “why you can’t seem to find any good guys/girls”. This isn’t a coincidence – it starts with you. Take note of how you prioritize your interests. Do you always tell yourself you can “tolerate” this or that, that you later end up regretting?

Do you notice a pattern in your relationships that perhaps is realized in the beginning (but ignored)?

The only way to stop these problems is to realize why you have them in the first place.

Final Thoughts

Obviously what worked for me, to stop a bad habit, may not work for you. Maybe you do bite your nails out of anxiety, and when you’re relaxed you don’t have the problem. The solution then is to focus on easing your anxiety or chew gum while anxious – whatever fixes the problem for you.

Through honest self-examination, you can discover things about yourself you may not have been fully aware of.

The Silver Lining

The Silver Lining (Photo credit: Cayusa)

If you truly want to improve, don’t be afraid to ask for help if need be. Surround yourself with supportive but honest friends and family who can help you realize and address problems that you have. Pray that God will guide, direct, and change you.

But don’t expect your answers to be immediate.

If you are prone to depression or anxiety, you may need to contemplate only in small doses. Delving too deep on anything that troubles you can become very depressing and may not even have a solution, or at least not a readily identifiable one. It can be daunting. Don’t rush yourself.

And contrary to what many would have you think – contemplation isn’t always beneficial. Some problems won’t have simple or quick solutions, and may not have any solution.

Don’t let self-examination turn into overanalytical dwelling on all your problems. The point is to help you learn why your problems exist and how to go about resolving them, not to become flawless.

Never forget that in the end – we are all human and we will all have problems. Only work towards solutions and understandings that will help you change parts of your life that you are unhappy with. 🙂

Dealing with Dreaded Nights of Anxiety, Stress, and Insomnia

Are you stressed? Anxious? Depressed?

Does this look like you at night?

Everyone, at some point and time, kind of wishes they could just crawl in bed and stay there. For some people, this sort of thought only occurs when something extremely tragic happens. For others, it’s an every day thing.

Some people want to crawl into bed and sleep, only to find that they can’t – no matter how tired their body feels.

For me, it’s kind of off and on. There are days I don’t really think about anything troubling. Other days, I can’t stop thinking about things that trouble me. And there are some times where… I just can’t stop thinking. Good or bad, thoughts just won’t go away.

It’s all too common to climb into bed, expecting to fall asleep right away, only to be kept awake. Thinking of ideas, worries, stresses, trying to plan my day, my future, anything. The thoughts just don’t stop!

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Are You a Nice Guy? Then Quit Calling Yourself That!

Would you say you’re a “nice guy”?

Do you ever wonder why “nice guys finish last”?

Does it feel like people just take advantage of you because you’re “too nice”?

Do you ponder if women really are attracted only to jerks?

Do you feel like women just don’t appreciate you?

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Learning to Take Responsibility and Control Your Emotions

All Things Depression
“When you blame others, you give up your power to change.”
Unknown

I don’t understand why people seem to think that anyone else is to blame for their problems. Granted, I cannot say that I have never been guilty of saying, “You made me do it!”

I think that too many people confuse being provoked with being made to.

You can be provoked to anger. But you can’t be made angry unless you have granted a person that level of power over you. However, in the end that is still your choice.

It’s such a popular saying though, “You make me so (fill in the blank).” You CAN influence someone’s emotions, their happiness, etc. But only if that person allows you to.

In the same way, someone can influence your emotions, but only if you allow that person that level of power over you. In a loving relationship, it’s natural to want give and to give that power to someone.

But have you given too much?

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