Saturday, May 28, 2016

On Being a Failure... Part One (A Weight Loss Story)

My Greatest Success is Failing. 

Oh, I've failed in a lot of things... but it's never stopped me from trying again. I've failed to live up to the expectations of people. It's not always a bad thing to fail in this way, sometimes it leads you down new, happier paths. I've also failed in that I expect others to live up to my expectations, with the result of always being disappointed.

Japanese Proverb
But let's not get all deep and moody and philosophy-ish. There's plenty of stories about that stuff. I want to talk about every-day-life failure. For me, that would be my failure to lose weight. 

I'm not talking about "I want to look good in a pair of size 8 jeans" type of weight loss. (Although...) 

I'm talking about "If you don't lose weight, there's a bigger chance of cancer recurrence, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, GERD, arthritis, and a host of other diseases caused by obesity" type of weight loss. The serious shit. 

Some failures (like being a wife) make you give up and choose a new path. But this failure, the attempt to lose weight, makes me feel like Thomas Edison when he said "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

In the past 30 years I've found about 1000 ways that didn't work. But yet... I can't give up, it's just not in me. I've had so many setbacks and issues, and I've wanted to say "F*ck It" so many times (and sometimes I do... for a week or a month) but I always try, try again. And fail again. 

I can't blame it all on the cancer... I've always been on the "heavy" side during my adult life. After I moved back to Illinois after living in Arizona for 9 years, I had a job that was so stressful, the only way I could breathe was to run. After work every day I would go to the park across the street and run a mile around the track, just to force myself to breathe deeply. Then I could go home. A bonus was my pants started to hang off me and I lost about 30 lbs. I felt good. (My coworkers noticed. My then-husband asked why I needed new clothes.) 

My chronic plantar fasciitis and heel spurs in both feet barely allow me to walk the dog without pain, so I can't run anymore.

I gained it all back when I got pregnant. After the baby 15 years ago, is when I made it into the unhealthy category. (Although is was cool when I dropped 10lbs in about an hour!) Then life for 10 years, then came the cancer. 

Actually, after I was diagnosed and before I started treatment was the first and only time I managed to lose about 10 lbs in about two months, without running. I called it the "Shit I Have Cancer and I'm Really Stressed" diet. When my Endocrinologist saw I had lost weight, she congratulated me and told me to keep doing what I was doing. 


Chemotherapy, stress, steroids, stress, hormone suppressing drugs, stress, menopause = barely holding on for dear life. I recently had a physical exam and blood test, and it came back borderline high for cholesterol and triglycerides. The doctor wanted to put me on Statins right away (I am a drug-resistor. That's another story.) I told her no. I wanted to try to lose weight (again) and see if that made a difference. 

Clearly, I need help. I was a freakin' genius in the "fail-to-do-it-myself" department. Maybe if I could get help from a Nutritionist or Dietitian? My health insurance refuses to pay because I don't have diabetes. Cancer, Hypothyroidism, GERD, High Cholesterol, Food Allergies, and General Obesity are not enough for me to get help. They pay for cancer treatment, Synthroid, acid blockers, and Statins, and even obesity surgery, but not counseling with a Nutritionist. Go figure. 

So I'm on my own. Again. 

I don't believe in cutting out food groups, although I have tried "gluten free" and "wheat-free" diets in the past. The result was "not a bit of difference and not an ounce of weight loss." That failure led to the success in cutting out white flour, rice, and sugar, and as a result, a lot of empty carbs in general. My Radiation Oncologist suggested I cut out ALL carbs for a month, then stick with under 30g of carbs a day. That would probably work, but I would also want to kill myself (and you) in the process. Food allergies don't help... NO raw fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, or soy protein. 

In the past two years I've made a lot of changes, I don't eat processed "boxed" foods anymore, frozen or otherwise. One of the advantages of living on my own, I can make meals that actually have taste. My daughter and I make everything from scratch, from pancakes and waffles, to birthday cakes, to tortillas for our tacos. I buy organic foods whenever possible. I've cut way down on sugar and I don't drink pop/soda anymore. I don't have cookies or sweets laying around. I've cut out chemicals, preservatives, food dyes, etc. 

Three weeks ago, I started counting calories again. (Note: This was actually written the third week of February, so I started counting/logging Feb 1st.) I measure all my food and log everything into an app called "MyFitnessPal" and stay under 1400 calories a day. No results worth mentioning.

In my recent research into healthy eating, I came across an eating "program" based on science and how the brain works. It's not a diet, it's a way to train your brain. I'm a huge nerd when it comes to learning how the brain works, so this really got me excited. 

But I'm going to tell you about it tomorrow, so come back.

"We learn from failure, not from success." Bram Stoker


  1. We are kindred sisters here Lisa.. I wont publish here.. but Ive yoyo in so many situations with my weight its not even funny.. I am morbidly obese and as much as it ften seems impossible for me to ever lose any weight.. especially with me getting bored or upset and referring to the closest bag of chips.. i still keep trying. I know more then anything I will be an informed weight loss patient. I think the only thing I havent tried is drugs.. lol Can you only imagine the knowledge you have acquired throughout the years? WIsh there was a way to make a best selling book off that!! lol Anyway, back to the drawing board.. You are indeed not alone!! ((hugs))

  2. This could be the story of Every Woman. I have about 25-30 years on you LIsa, okay, maybe only 15. I have found something that works forthe plantar fascitis and heel calcium deposits. Doctors and sports nutritionist don't know about it so call me - I figured it out on my own with trial and error and I have no evidence other than going from crippled to running again - for one person, me.
    The only failure is to give up and quit looking for something that will work. The other thing I found that I know works is a hypno-therapy series on disc that works on what is between your ears vs on your butt or in your stomach. I would love to talk with you.


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