By Karen Secord

(Note: You can find Karen’s previous posts in the Article Archive)

Gastric bypass surgery on March 31. Lots of challenges.

Weight loss? 81lbs and counting. . . .

I don’t spend much time in the grocery store anymore. I don’t cruise the bakery isle, sniffing out the cheese bread and chocolate croissants like a hound dog on a mission. I don’t get in my car and drive to the 24-hour supermarket in the middle of the night to buy chicken wings and ribs, swirly chocolate mint ice cream or diet pop (litres and litres of the stuff).

Make no mistake, the instinct to eat sugary or fat-filled “treats” has not gone away, but nausea (or the ever-present threat of purging on the spot) seems a strong enough deterrent.

In recent days I have, however, gone into my neighbourhood Loblaws to do some heavy lifting. I stood in front of a mountain of 10lb potato sacks, oblivious to the hustle of hurried shoppers around me. One at a time I began picking them up, trying to manage eight, because eight times 10 is 80 and that is the amount of my body that has disappeared. I needed to feel the substance of all that weight, since I can’t seem to see it.

If the truth be told, attempting to juggle bags of potatoes is not my only uncharacteristic behaviour these days. There are other oddities hounding me.

Karen’s Changing Behaviours in No Particular Order:

  1. My nagging sweet tooth is gone, been extracted. However, I now have this incredible desire to watch folks eat sweets. “Let me smell your breath. Please!” I say to my 10-year old niece as she chows down on a particularly beautiful looking sliver of organic chocolate.
  2. I walk. Not only do I walk, but I miss it if I don’t. I have spent most of my adult life telling myself that I hated walking. You hate walking! I was afraid of falling (plate and screws in ankle, numbness, instability). It made me sweat. I don’t care much for sweating. I can honestly say that I have never enjoyed walking alone on the road to nowhere. My sister says walking is a solitary activity of the highest order. “Stop talking, Karen,” she once said (to my utter shock and dismay). “Walking is a time to think, and I can’t think with you blabbering on.” (Sisters can say that kind of thing and get away with it. They have earned the right.)
  3. There is a scale in my bathroom. I bought it. Not only did I purchase a scale, I can’t seem to walk past one without getting on it. Strange.  When I was in my early 20’s and well over 200lbs, I made a pact with myself in order to retain my self-esteem. No scales! Weighing myself had become a self-defeating obsession.  Not only that, I was hiding from the truth. Deny, deny, deny. The simple act of stepping on that scale now reminds me that I am responsible for me. I do it once a day or so. As always, sometimes I am up and sometimes down, but I am always aware. There is power in that. I have the power.
  4. I cook. I hate cooking. Well, normally I hate cooking. I swear that when my children were growing up there was this ever-present faint smell of burning something in the kitchen. In my defence, cooking is not any Secord’s strength. True, we are all big people with a zest for eating, but we have never been able to get past the fact that although stoves have a “high” heat adjustment, it should rarely be used. Hotter-is-faster-is-better has always been our collective mantra. But if I can only eat 2/3 cup of food three times a day then it had better be good food! The quest to feed myself the highest quality food available began while I was recovering from surgery at the Healing House. The hosts — Sandy, Carol, Kim and Lise — taught me to taste, to think before I decide to eat, and to listen to my body. “Always listen to your body’s wisdom,” they told me collectively, with their own unique life force. I have so much respect for them. Finally, I listened. Dinner today? Two oz. of steak, two oz. of steamed spinach, and 2 oz. of sweet potato.
  5. Water now irks me. I use to drink heavily. Water and diet pop were my liquids of choice. I drank all day. But now I forget to drink. Therefore, I don’t pee. It’s a scenario that reminds me of the if-this-then-that principle I learned in Philosophy 101. If you don’t put enough liquid in to the body then not enough liquid will come out. Not enough liquid coming out will make Karen a sick girl. A dizzy-going-to-pass-out-foggy-brained girl. The rule after gastric bypass surgery is no drinking 30 minutes before a meal or one hour after a meal. Far too many rules for this girl. So if you see me around, don’t forget to remind me to drink.
  6. I buy my clothes at Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul, and Value Village IN THE REGULAR SIZE SECTION.  I like clothes. I am drawn to the design and quality of high-end fashion. But I have never, never ever. . . ever (and I am not kidding!) been able to wear clothes in the up to size 16 range. As a 250-300lb woman I was always a solid size 20-26. (At 272 lbs in mid-March I was a size 24.) If it wasn’t for my amazingly frugal friend, Dina, I would be lost about how to cloth myself during this period of rapid weight loss. Dina, in true shopaholic form, greeted me upon my return home from the Healing House with a new (recycled) dress. It is gorgeous soft green linen. Size 18. I doubted it would fit, but it did. The handmade tag from the Sally Ann boutique read $4.99.  Since that day I have gorged on the cast-offs of others with great abandon. I have discovered that the best second hand clothing selections are often found in neighbourhoods where there is more disposable income. Westboro is a case in point. I have bought designer labels — some barely worn and others still sporting the tags — at the Westgate Salvation Army and St. Vincent’s on Wellington. Imagine my utter joy!

So, here is the challenge (don’t worry, I am not going to dare you to eat less than 3 cups of food a day): Don’t buy anything new for an entire month.No late summer sales duds. You can get better deals than that. Used clothing goes on sale too. The Clothes Secret on Bank Street has 70-percent off a wide selection of their awesome consignment clothes and shoes. Check it out and send your tips and tricks.

Who knows what size I will be next month! (Or, how many more odd habits I will have acquired. . .)