The Whistler's Dream

Everybody needs a dream...
Mine is to go to Oklahoma and play whistles for The Pioneer Woman. (Having been invited, not in a "creepy stalker" kind of way, for the record.) Heck, I'd play in a pup tent in the backyard for the joy of the cows and critters. What can I say? I'm a fan.
Everybody needs a dream...

Random Fluffy Foto!

Random Fluffy Foto!
Writing in bed, and Beka editing by ear. Really. The ear typed some letters. Really.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

One of Those days...

It's one of those days... I'm always a little ancy on weigh-in day, but there's other things. So, dear readers, bear with me... maybe if I get some of the jumble out of my head, it'll leave room for what I actually have to accomplish today. :-)

- Had a strange dream. Can't remember the details, but I do know it involved being with my brother and Vicki outside my mom's house, and we were holding hands and praying that the Lord would move in the sale of the house, so that we can move on with certain aspects of our lives. I remember how we were pouring our hearts out to God, but upon waking, I can't remember the words. Just the passion of coming to His presence and casting our cares...

...which makes me think of...

- I wish I had my mom's eyes. :-) Granted, my eyes are blue like hers, while my brother's are hazel. But Mom's eyes were a pale sky blue, very clear, and quite pretty. My eyes, on the other hand, are a darker blue, and if you look closely, there's a ring of yellow right around my pupil - a gift from my dad, who had hazel eyes. There's something to be said for bearing the image of both of your parents, but still... I kind of feel that if my eyes were like mom's , I could look in the mirror, and see her looking back at me. I'd love to look into those beautiful blue eyes one more time. April 26th, it will be two years since she went to dwell in the Lord's house, and it's more on my mind than I'd realized.

...which brings me to...

- Vicki's eyes, which aren't blue, but a pale green, and quite lovely. Depending on what she's wearing, they go from pale green to a bluish-grey. And a steely grey, if she's a little "frustrated" with a certain someone... :-)

...hmmm. Can you tell I have a thing about eyes?...

(last one, I promise!)

- Why can I not bring myself to practice God's presence more? One of my favorite phrases is found on Carl Jung's tombstone - "Vocatus, atque non Vocatus, Deus aderit." Wasn't that moving? Oh - translation, please? Well, the wording is a little different, depending on whose translation you read, but the one I prefer is: "Bidden, or not Bidden, God is present." Why do I mislead myself into thinking that any of my thoughts or actions are hidden from him? If anything I do can bring Him glory, why can I not realize that anything I do can also bring Him shame? But we limited creatures convince ourselves that when we're doing something that is wrong, well, God's probably looking the other way right now. He's talking to the guy next door. He's speaking through the gal from Touched By An Angel and making her glow, so I can get away with it for a mintue... I can't get it through my head that whatever I am doing, wherever I am, He is present. My attention or lack of attention to Him doesn't change his presence one bit. Don Francisco had a song years ago that said "Who do you think you're fooling?" True dat.

(I lied...)

- One of the blessings about the weight loss is getting back things that I thought I'd never wear again. For example, my wedding ring. Granted, this is not the one that Vicki placed on my hand almost 24 years ago - that one was cut off after an allergic reaction to some leather dye I was working with, and subsequently lost. This one is the one I tend to think of as my real ring - it bears Celtic knotwork and a Celtic cross with an emerald in its center. And, since my birthstone is emerald, that works out fine. Actually, my friend Topher and his lovely bride have ones that match it. (or had - don't know if they still wear them) It was fun seeing my ring on someone else's hand. Anyway, I'm finally at the point where I can wear my ring again, and it's nice to see it on my hand again. I remember my mom holding my hand shortly before she passed away, ahd feeling my ring, and saying, "Didn't your ring have a cross on it?" She was holding my right hand, and the ring on that hand has a smooth stone. So, I held out my left hand, and she ran her thumb over the cross on the ring. Nice memory... Vicki is also wearing her rings again, since we found them and she's lost enough weight to be able to wear them again. Her rings came from my great grandmother, passed down from my mom, and it's a special treasure to see them on her hand again. :-)

Whew! Sorry to make you endure all that! But my head feels a lot emptier... which is a better state for me to be in, believe me! :-) I have clinic and class this afternoon, so I'll check in this afternoon with the result. Thanks for allowing me to clear my head. :-)

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Progress, albeit slowly (weekly weigh-in)

Another three pounds. I'm now under 380 lbs. for the first time in more years than I can remember. And, it was a great class - Neil, our exercise guy, gave us an entire routine on a ball - which I love. Confirms that I'll be placing that order for a couple of balls - one for Vicki, and one for me. :-)

(why not just run down to the store and get one?... Well, in order to use it, and be able to use weights with it, it has to be able to support both my weight and the weights I use, as well as allowing me to do exercises on it. So, since weight capacity isn't generally listed on the ones you'll find at local stores, I have to shop for a "big boy ball" on line, for one of the ones we use at the center.)

All in all, another good day - good sleep last night, good day today, and good time of worship tonight at church, playing my whistles at our Maundy Thursday service. Need to work harder on staying strictly in the program, making sure to use my scale to weigh portions, and journal everything. Need to focus harder...

But, it's looking more and more like spring, which will allow us to get out and explore our world, and that always helps my motivation. Don't get me wrong - I'm a dedicated winter person. But, I've learned more appreciation for warmer weather, because I've found I really look forward to getting out with Vicki and doing stuff - playing catch, taking a walk (or a wheel, if I'm in the chair) by the river, etc. Even using the ball and weights on the back patio instead of inside will be a real treat.

Thanks to the Lord of the changing seasons, for all His mercy every day!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

A little loss, and more focus (weekly weigh-in)

2.4 lbs. Not much, but at least it was in the right direction. Just a little reminder that I need to focus harder and put in more effort into this thing. So, off to play at WCSG's Father-Daughter banquet, and to contemplate more structure in what I do with my time. "Teach me to number my days" is running through my head lately. :-)

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Time to clean the slate

I always find myself doing some reflection, the night before my weekly class/clinic/encounter with the scale... Have I been doing the program? Have I been doing it correctly? Have I been doing better than last week? Am I cheating? Could I have done better? It's been tougher this time through the fasting. The tendency is to use past experience to "manage" things this time. So, if I know what foods will upset the balance and make me sick (heavy fat content for example, that will make me really sick), then if I stick to sneaking in foods that won't make me sick, and I journal all the calories, then I'm good, right?

Well, technically, that's right. But honestly, it doesn't work that way. Part of the process is taking a break from all the complexity of eating, especially for someone like me who has issues about food, and to use that time to unlearn bad habits. The goal - to (hopefully) learn some new and better ones. But, if I'm trying to add in this, and sneak in that (those DARN Girl Scout cookies, for example...), then I never really take a break from the food, and thus the slate doesn't get cleared, and space isn't made for better habits... See the picture?

By doing this fast for 12 weeks, we get tabula rasa - a blank slate to write a new life upon. But if I hold on to the old habits, there's no space for the new ones.

And, as always in this experience, it's not too far to leap from the weight loss to other aspects of life. As a follower of Christ, have I ever totally submitted to Him so as to allow Him to write new things on me? Have I laid all the old things down, or am I carrying them around like chains and weights that keep me from a clean slate? Compared to the weight loss program, this is the most important consideration. So, as I try to stay away from those things that will slow my progress in the fasting, let my eyes be opened to the other things, that slow my progress in running what Paul called "the race set before us."

tabula rasa...

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Down we go... (weekly weigh-in)

Well, it's Thursday, which means weigh-in and clinic and class... And, another milestone. The first time I did the fast, I got just a smidge over the 100 lb. mark - in the neighborhood of 386. Today, we're at the lowest I've been since starting this whole thing last April - 383.4! Over 100 lbs lost, and falling. The total today was 6.4 pounds - not the 17 I did last week, but a nice chunk for one week. On we go, into week 3...

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

A mini-milestone!

Well, today is one of those days that makes staying on this path worth it. I'm playing at Meijer Gardens tonight - an event for their members called Night Of The Butterflies. And, Vicki shortened a new pair of pants for me.

All pretty boring, but here's the thing... The new pants are corduroys, and are the first non-stretch pants I've worn in at least three years. (but probably more like 5 years...) And, they're a size lower than I've worn in many years. And, they aren't wide leg!

A note for those who are saying, "Not wide leg? What's the big deal with that?" One of the issues that I deal with is called lymphedema - the inablilty of a part of the body (in my case, my left leg below the knee with leanings toward it showing in my right leg as well) to evacuate fluid via the lymph system. So, the fluid just gathers in that extremity, causing it to swell and be succeptable to all kinds of nasties. If you get the mental picture of one of Popeye the Sailor's arms, that's kind of the effect... I wear compression stockings on both legs to keep my legs from swelling during the day, and sleep with them raised at night to reduce the swelling.

(Whew! That was a long way to go for all that, wasn't it?...) Anyway, for me to be able to wear pants that don't have wide legs, and for my legs to actually fit in them is a huge thing. :-)

So, we'll be whistling and wind synthing at the Gardens tonight, and weighing in at MMPC tomorrow. And, getting to use three 'W' words in the same sentence right now. Life is good!! :-)

Saturday, March 05, 2005

As we settle in...

One thing I'm noticing this time through the process, that wasn't so much of a issue last time, is hunger... I seem to be hungry all the time, while last time, it wasn't much of a problem. I suspect that it's just going to take more time for my body to accept the fact that "this is all you get. Deal with it." And, after we get further into the groove of this thing, it should get easier.

It always amazes me how little our bodies can do well on. You'd think pushing myself down to 1000 calories would be serious starvation mode. But, after I adjust, it should be fine. Interesting, isn't it - in our days of huge portions, and over-the-top extravagance, that we can exist on so very much less. (Yes - I did make a transition from physical needs to material needs and even non-material needs. Nice of you to catch that. :-) If only I can find the wisdom and strength to apply my caloric reduction to other areas of life...

For example, my whistle collection. Huge. More than humans ought to be allowed to posess. ("Big collection. Big. Huge." Three gold stars to anyone who guesses what movie quote I based that on) On one hand, the idea of a collection is just that, to collect, right? On the other hand, these are instruments - meant to be played. When do I have time to play all of them? These are the kind of ponderables that tend to jump out when I'm thinking about simplifying things. No asnwers - just ponderables. (and ponderous ponderables at that...)

Time to simplify my time management by bringing this to a close. Have a wonderful and worshipful Sunday. :-D

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Sittin' on the porch at The Shack

Cal at The Shack (a great B & B!) on a winter
break with Vicki. It's now become one of our
favorite places to go!!Posted by Hello

A big first week!

As was the case last year, my first week on the liquid fast was a big one - 17 lbs lost. So, I'm actually now a bit lower than where I ended the "official" program last year, and just a few pounds away from the 100 lb mark total. Amazing! It was both a tough week, and a not-so-tough week. Some headaches and dizziness off and on, but still tolerable. We've learned from the things I had issues with last time, and are making adjustments to compensate this time.

I'm working with Dr. Osborne again - she's a hoot! She's very practical, down-to-earth, and really makes you believe that if you don't straighten up, she could put the hurt on you, even though she's smaller in stature. I feel privileged to have her watching over me again. :-)

One more note, before life rolls along. This entire journey wouldn't be possible without the support and encouragement of some key people, and I'll be mentioning some of them from time to time. God alone gets all the glory for what is being accomplished, for He alone is making it all possible. His strength is being made perfect in my weakness, on a moment-by-moment basis...

But I want to take a moment to acknowledge the other person who is not only supporting me, but in a very real way, is walking the road along with me. From the moment I set out on this path, through the Lord's graciousness, my beloved Vicki has been there beside me. Through the tough issues. Through the triumphs. Through everything. She makes my supplements for me, so that I don't have to think about things like, "what shall I drink today," which could lead to a big ol' pity party and take my attention to what I'm not eating, instead of what I am. She goes to clinic with me, so that if I miss a detail in the program, she catches it. Every step, she is there, just as she has been for the past 22 years of our marriage. I could not do this without her love and support.

And, at the end of the day, what makes it worth it? Is it how I'm feeling these days? Is it out of some deep yearning to finally wear that Speedo? (don't panic - it isn't!) Is it improving the quality of my life? Well, it's a little of all those things - except for the Speedo thing... that was just to make you laugh... But the bottom line is this - I do this because God is glorified in this journey, and I do this because of the light in Vicki's eyes when she sees me succeed. Those two things make it all worth it, and I'd stay on this path for however long it takes just to know God is being glorified in my actions, and to see how proud Vicki is of me. That makes it all worth it.

Now, off to do a Google search for Speedos for the horizontally challenged. Hey - a guy can dream, can't he? :-)

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Our story so far...

My good friend Topher suggested that I start this blog, to document some events going on regarding weight loss... Was it a good suggestion? Read on and see...

Going on two years ago, a series of events started with the death of my mother. The Lord had been gracious in walking me through Mom's passing, but I didn't realize what kind of changes would be following. I've been overweight my whole life, from a family of dimensionally challenged folks, but something in the loss of my Mom triggered something in me - telling me that it was time to make some changes. At the time, I was around 460-480 lbs, not moving much and getting sicker each day. My knees were blown out from my weight and arthritis, I had been diagnosed as a diabetic, etc. All the catalog of complications that arise from obesity.

In January of 2003, our insurance at Cornerstone University had switched to Priority Health, and one of the things that brings to the table is their cooperation with MMPC - Michigan Medical Center, a great place for overweight folks like me. Forward to January of 2004. Our doctor, Dr. Jill Bultje, had arranged for me to get a wheelchair, since I couldn't walk for more than a couple of minutes before my knees gave out. With that, I was able to move around a bit more, and realize just how much of life I was missing at my present weight... I did some research with Priority, and learned about the programs available through MMPC. My intent was to pursue gastric bypass surgery, but in order to do that, Priority requires their patients to go through MMPC's medical weight loss program - 12 weeks of fasting, using their supplements only, followed by 5 weeks of transition back to solid food. On April 1st of 2004, I started my first day of the fast, going from 3600 calories on Wednesday to 800 calories on Thursday. Oi!!

After losing 18 lbs the first week, and having a week long headache from the stress on my body, the doctor raised my calories to 900. Week two - 14 lbs, and calories raised to 1000. That was the level that worked the best, so we kept that throughout the rest of the program. End result? Right around 100 lbs lost, going from 486 lbs to 386 lbs in 17 weeks, and giving me hope of avoiding gastric bypass surgery by working on weight loss with diet and exercise alone. From there, I worked on maintaining and continuing on my own. I found I was able to maintain, after gaining about 14 lbs back, but couldn't seem to keep losing.

Forward to two weeks ago. While chatting with Gina from Priority, who was checking to see how I was doing, I happened to ask if they would ever allow me to repeat the medical program. I assumed not, since Priority uses it as a step toward the surgery. I explained my reasons to Gina, my hope to get closer to my goal of 270 lbs and to hopefully be able to have knee replacements after losing more weight. As I expected, Priority usually does not cover a second time through the medical program. But she said she'd talk to the medical supervisor, and told me not to get my hopes up.

This is where God steps in, in a very large way. The next morning, I got a call from our Dr's office, telling me that I was approved to repeat the medical program at MMPC. After getting off the phone with them, I heard from Gina - she said that because the first time through the program went so well, and because I was so motivated, they were going to cover the second time. Amazing!

And so, dear and patient reader, here we are - I'll complete my first week of this time through the program tomorrow, and we'll see what the scale says tomorrow at the clinic. I started at 407 lbs, so we'll see where we go from there.

This is enough for now. I'll go into some of the things the Lord is teaching me through the fast, both last time, and this one, soon. In the meantime, it's time for another yummy liquid supplement. :-)