Putting it all into perspective

“Your flesh is not a reflection of your soul. So when you look in the mirror, remember that your light outshines your flaws.”
D. Antoinette Foy

 

In 2012, I started a blog called “The Way Back to Me,” and it talked a lot about my life and my drive to lose weight and regain my health. Then, in 2013, I decided to actually buy the domain name for “Call Me Tabs” and start a new blog. For awhile, it was all about life in general, and later it became more about the discrimination of a fat woman in society, especially when a fat woman is going through the process of planning a wedding.

Once 2014 hit, I did not blog for a long time. I felt like I didn’t have much to say, and I was depressed a lot of the time. I started to realize that maybe, just maybe, my lack of energy, my aches and pains and stomach issues did have something to do with my weight. Then, in April, I landed myself in the hospital with bronchitis, the same day my sister landed in the hospital with elevated liver function. After three days of steroids and breathing treatments, my doctor told me that I needed to lose weight if I wanted to see life after 50, or possibly even 40. I still tried to stay true to my “health at any size” beliefs and had no idea how much life was going to change in just a short 45 days.

A month and a half after that hospital visit, my sister passed away. Her body was having issues with food digestion, and it had caused her to lose a lot of weight. I realized, as I watched her body shut down and then pass, that health at any size is a ridiculous notion. Obviously, at less than 90 lbs, it is impossible for an adult to be healthy. Obviously, at almost 400 lbs, it is impossible for an adult to be healthy. That is just a fact. If you are 400 lbs, and you start eating healthy and exercising, your body is going to lose weight. So, saying health at any size is not true — because if you are healthy, you would not be that size — your body will begin to shrink or grow, depending on your side of the scale.

Losing my sister has been an eye opener to me, as I’ve said in previous blogs. When you are faced with your own mortality after losing a sibling so young, you really start to put your life into perspective. What is important to me? What do I cherish in my life? What do I want to do in my life?

The answers were easy: My health is important to me. I cherish my family, and I want to stay with them as long as possible. And, I want to enjoy my life with energy and zest. I want to thrive, instead of just surviving, no matter where I am planted in this world. So, for the last thirty days, I have been logging into MyFitnessPal and keeping an accurate record of my food — my calories, protein, carbs and fats — every day. I’m also keeping track of my exercise and weight loss. When I initially weighed myself, I was already two weeks into the process, and I weighed 387 lbs. Last week, I weighed 373, and I’m not sure what I weigh right now. But, my mobility has improved exponentially already. I do not get winded just walking in the grocery store. I actually have the energy to get up, clean my house and cook for my kids now. My feet don’t swell up every day now, and I just feel better.

So, from now on — this is me. I am happy with myself, and I love my body. I love my body enough to keep it healthy and take off the weight that is holding it back. I’m actually starting to love myself — and I never thought that would happen.

Week 5:

20140720-110900-40140297.jpg

The woman who ate fast food too much

Every day, people go through drive thrus or sit down to eat at fast food and other restaurants all over the country. That is their decision, but their body is craving the fatty, greasy, cheesy food-like products. These products do not provide any real nourishment to our bodies, but they sure expand the waistline.

Now, can I fault those people? Of course not — I was one of them until July 1, 2014. I would swing through a drive thru to get a coffee in the morning, and then maybe head through a drive thru with the kids for dinner. Sometimes, I would sit at a cafe all day, eating a sandwich and soup while I worked on my articles for my freelance job.

I was addicted to the sugars, the fats and all the other “good things” that they put into the foods you get at all of these restaurants, just like everyone else. And like I said in an earlier post, I could eat upwards of 2200 calories of that stuff in one sitting! Not to mention, my bank account was meager because of all of this activity. I searched my bank records from June 1, 2014 to July 1, 2014 and found out that I had spent $818 in one month on going out to eat. That’s insane! I could have completely remodeled my entire living room for that much money.

So I decided on July 1 it was time to change the game. I decided to go an entire month without eating at any restaurant. This meant that I would forced to prepare all of my own meals — something I hadn’t done in a long time. This also allowed me to start working better foods into my diet, some of which you’ve seen in previous articles. Along with this, I also stopped drinking coffee, soda and other sugary drinks.

These changes, paired with regular daily exercise, have led to a weight loss of 14 pounds off of my frame in the first two weeks. What was once 387 is now 373, and I don’t plan on stopping now!

 

 

Fearful Tears

“Tears are words that need to be written.”
Paulo Coelho

This is my story. It is not always a happy one, nor is it always sad. But, there are always tears.

When I was 17 years old, just a few weeks before my 18th birthday, I met the love of my life (at least, at that time). He stayed that person for me for a really, really long time. In some ways, he is still. I had two children with him; we have a history. But, after half a decade or so, the sad times were more prevalent, and the happy times were not so happy anymore. At that point, it was time for both of us to take our leave from the relationship. Tears were shed by both of us, but I don’t think either one of us did much looking back after that.

I was single for seven years. And, to be completely honest, they were some of the most successful years of my life, so far. I went back to school and graduated. I started a career. I even fought for a job I wanted, and I got it. Everything was right on track. I don’t remember too many tears during that time — unless stress took over.

When I was 33 years old, I met a man who I thought was the true love of  my life. He had many flaws, some that were not easy to overlook, but I did — who doesn’t have flaws, right? At the time, I was sitting at 300 or so pounds, and it felt really nice to meet a man who didn’t try to get into my pants or play some game with me. We only knew each other a couple of months before he proposed, and we married two days after our one year anniversary. Then, the flaws that each of us thought we could overlook started to come out. Everything changed, and every day, you could cut the tension in our house with a knife. We both know that one misstep could set off a blowup. Finally, we came to the tipping point, and we separated. The tears flowed every night for the first two weeks, but there is no going back now.

Now, I sit here at age 34, reflecting on the last 16 years of my life. I have loved one man, and I have tried to save one man. I love and continue to raise two wonderful children. I love my family, and mourn the loss of an important member of it. But, where am I in all of this?

I don’t have any identity anymore. I have been someone’s daughter, girlfriend, wife or mother for my entire adult life. I’m tired of the tears. I’m tired of holding onto a man because I feel like I don’t have any identity without him. I’m tired of the fear that I feel when I’m leaving a relationship. I’m done with all of it. I’m starting to realize that maybe the love of my life shouldn’t be another man. Maybe…just maybe…the love of my life should be me.

Tabby’s Picture Project!

So, if any of you are on Facebook, you will notice that I have been putting up pictures of my food lately. I swear, this is not to make you hungry or annoy you. I take the pictures to A) remember recipes and food combinations and B) to keep a record of how my food is changing over time.

Here are some of the pictures I’ve already shared:

20140713-140748-50868744.jpg20140713-140749-50869185.jpg

20140713-140750-50870183.jpg20140713-140750-50870470.jpg20140713-140751-50871119.jpg

20140713-140753-50873249.jpg20140713-140751-50871374.jpg20140713-140749-50869544.jpg

20140713-140752-50872392.jpg20140713-140752-50872154.jpg20140713-140752-50872792.jpg

20140713-140751-50871633.jpg20140713-140750-50870869.jpg20140713-140749-50869801.jpg

 

It’s not all perfect, but I’m getting there. And most importantly — it’s made at home, and most of it is not highly processed.

 

Now on to the reason for this post:

I figured that it would be fun to also keep a record of my face as it changes throughout this process. So, every week, I’m going to take a picture of myself. It should be interesting to see the differences.

I’m on my fourth week now. Here are the pictures from the previous three weeks and today:

Week 1

20140713-142739-52059859.jpg

 

Week 2

20140713-142740-52060118.jpg

 

Week 3

20140713-142740-52060692.jpg

 

Week 4

20140713-142740-52060815.jpg

 

Now it’s time to continue on with the day! :)

 

 

Saving, Slimming and Satisfying

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is Day 20 of my journey to a better, healthier life. I am seeing a few changes here and there — my energy level is way up, working out is more fun than I thought it would be, my clothes aren’t quite as tight anymore and I just feel better. That is the big thing — I feel BETTER…better than I’ve felt in a decade or more.

I have set a goal for myself, and I think I can hit it. I was 392 lbs in April when I went into the hospital. I am now 380 lbs. By Dec. 31, 2014, I want to be 299 lbs. Then, my next goal will be the following New Year’s Eve when I will attempt to hit 199 lbs. It is going to be a fun and fantastic year and a half! I’m starting to get the exercise side of things down, and I’m really focusing in on the food I eat. For me, it isn’t just about eating when you’re hungry. It is about eating the right food to fuel your body, and not always listening to those feelings that called out for junk food because I was sad or bored.

I getting my taste back for fresh, healthy, well-prepared food. I’m enjoying cooking more than I ever did before. And why am I discovering all of this? That is probably because of the July challenge I set for myself. I made a decision to not eat anything from a restaurant, including fast food and pizza, for the entire month of July. My kids and I are also buying less processed food. Instead of buying things like Banquet Family Sized Salisbury Steaks, we’re making BBQ chicken in the Crock pot. We’re eating more seafood and fish. And the salads — forget about it! I’ve never been a salad fan, and now I usually eat at least one salad a day. You can ask anyone in my family; I’ve never been a fan of veggies. Now I can’t get enough!

A side bonus to cooking everything at home? I am not spending $20-$30 on dinner each night. There was a time not so long ago that my ex would go out to McDonald’s, and I would get a 20-piece nugget, a large fry and a Big Mac, and eat it all by myself. Now, the thought of that makes me physically ill. But, when you eat your feelings, and you’re stressed out every day, you need a lot of food to medicate. That exact McDonald’s meal, including a large sweet tea, has 2210 calories and 112g of fat. That is more than I eat in an entire day now. On a typical day, I eat between 1,600 to 2,000 calories (75g or less of fat) and burn over 1,000 calories by swimming 45 minutes to an hour. As I said above…the thought of putting that into my body all in one meal makes me physically ill now. I can only imagine the damage it has done to my body over the last 30+ years.

So…no more fast food. And, after this July project, we’ll see about healthier options for dining out. Even those options will probably be visited sparingly, to save money. But, all in all, the best reason to eat at home is because the food is just better, and I know what is going into it. I can’t wait to visit farmer’s markets in the area this weekend, and I’m excited about going apple and blueberry picking with my kids. I really want to make sure they are included in these new food choices. They were a little hesitant about the switch from cow’s milk to almond milk, but they seem to have even taken that in stride!

It looks like I’m in for a wild ride in the next 17-18 months. I’m ready for it! :)

Reinvention and Rediscovery

“Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.”

Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

 

I am in the midst of a year that has brought major upheaval and transition in my life. Thankfully, I take easily to change in many situations, otherwise I may still be lost in a fog of chaos and confusion. Instead, I am swiping my way through the fog and trying my best to find the bright spots.

I lost two people I loved very much this year. One of them passed away, leaving a large hole in my heart (you can read about my dear sister in the previous entry). Another I left by choice, which was far less difficult. Not because I loved the person any less, but because at some point, you have to realize that you can’t save someone, and instead, you have to save yourself.

So, that is what this year is about – Rediscovering myself. Reinventing myself. Saving myself.

I spent the first 7 years of my adult life being completely involved in a marriage that was toxic. Then, I spent the next 7 years of my life finding my own voice and identity, just to let myself be lost in another toxic marriage — a relationship that didn’t even last two years. As I leave that second relationship, I realize that I need to get back to me more than ever before.

That is why I swim. That is why I cook. That is why I write. That is why I laugh. That is why I breathe in and out. That is why I get up every morning and keep on living. Eventually, I am going to find that person that has been hiding for the last two years. That loud, brash, opinionated woman who won writing awards and had big dreams for her future as a writer. I miss her — where did she go?

Tabs is out there. I will find her one day. :) I just need to keep repeating my mantra, “I am enough,” and looking forward to the future. There’s no reason to look back — I’m not going there anymore.

 

When you lose someone…

“Have you ever lost someone you love and wanted one more conversation, one more chance to make up for the time when you thought they would be here forever? If so, then you know you can go your whole life collecting days, and none will outweigh the one you wish you had back.”
Mitch Albom, For One More Day

 

When you watch your little sister die, your world stops, especially when you’ve been pissing your life and health away for so long.

My sister passed away a month ago. She was 28 years old. She left behind two children, ages 6 and 9, and a husband who loved her very much. It still doesn’t seem real to me. 15 days in the hospital, and then she was gone. I was the last one to sit with her at the hospital. I was the last one to leave her graveside. I can’t believe she is really gone. My heart breaks over and over again every day when I wake up and realize all over again that she is gone.

Her death has really make me reassess my entire thought process on health, my weight, and my life. She died way too young, and yet I’m sitting here stuffing McDonald’s into my mouth, just inviting a heart attack or stroke into my 350+ pound body. How selfish can I be?

However, my sister is not the only person I lost in this last month. My marriage is also over. I left my husband of not even a year, because I realized that it was not healthy for me to stay in that relationship, and life is too short. That’s what I’ve really learned — life is too short, even if it is the longest thing we will ever do. I’ve been faced with my own mortality in the face of losing someone so close to me, and my life is too precious to waste it on someone who does nothing but make me feel terrible about myself.

So, what do I do now? Well, I’ll probably keep doing what I’ve been doing for the last week — I’ll just keep swimming, as Dory says. I swim every day for one hour. I just put my head down and paddle. Every stroke takes me further away from my ex-husband’s negativity and closer to the goal I promised my sister I would reach — a healthy weight and life.

And what happened over the last week? I’ve started to feel better. I have more energy. I’m not as hungry as I once was, and I have rediscovered my love of fresh food. My favorite meal so far? A seared tuna steak and a salad with fresh fruit, romaine lettuce and just a touch of poppyseed dressing. I am also a big fan of avocado, which I didn’t even realize I liked until recently. It is getting easier to get up and go to the Y every day, even if my muscles are a little sore. While I have not yet seen any difference in my appearance, I just feel better overall, so I know that something is working.

In the last month, I’ve lost someone who I loved, and someone who didn’t love me. Like I said, it has helped me to realize exactly what I need to do with the rest of my life, and I wish my sister was still here to see the change.

Dress Fitting

My sister is on the left, and my daughter is on the right.