Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last post for 2009

It's New Year's eve,and we really aren't doing anything exciting, but's it's fine. I really don't like new years eve. All the NYE parties I have been to as an adult have been duds. Expectations are too high, and the reality doesn't quite match up. I kind of like to go to bed and let the new year surprise me.

I am excited for this new year. I have a feeling that it's going to be much better than the last.I will make some resolutions but I think the reason I started this blog in that never never land between Christmas and New Year's is that I wanted to put things in place, and get ready to make changes. I'm not resolving to lose weight - I'm resolving to consistently do the things that lead to weight loss.
These are my resolutions for 2010.

1. I resolve to ignore completely the "you can lose 30lbs in 3 weeks" ads. I will not respond to their siren song because I KNOW they are filthy liars.

2. I will keep blogging, even when I fall down and feel like a failure. Persistence is everything, and maintaining this new habit is something I believe will help.

3. I will have fun doing something active every day. I am going to try to get a good workout of some variety every day, but progress is the key, and perfectionism is my enemy.

4. I resolve to give myself credit for the things I do right, and not beat myself up over the things that aren't "just so".

5. I want to be a better mum and the best wife I can be. I have a wonderful husband and family, and I would like them to know everyday, just how much I appreciate them.

Goodbye 2009, and Good morning, 2010.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What is lipedema/lipoedema and what does it look like?

Lipedema is a fat disorder, and can be distinguished by 5 characteristics.

  1. It occurs nearly exclusively in women

    It is inherited. My mother, although she never became obese, has the characteristic early stage legs. My dad played rugby, and is stocky, so I got it from both sides I guess.
  2. It can occur in women of all sizes, from the seriously underweight to the morbidly obese
  3. It involves the excess deposit and expansion of fat cells in an unusual and particular pattern - bilateral, symetrical and usually from the waist to a very distinct line just above the ankles. The feet are normal size.
  4. Unlike normal fat, lipedemic fat cannot be lost through diet and exercise. My plan is to lose as much non-lipedemic fat and then research my options.

These are not my legs. I will have to screw up the courage to post my own legs on the internet. I haven't worn dresses for years, so no one gets to see my legs in real life. I will do it though in the next few days, just for the sake of honesty. I know that I am more fortunate than others. There are ladies out there that suffer dreadfully. I know that there are many who can no longer wear jeans or trousers because their legs will not fit. I know that there are women out there who have lost their mobility.

Add to this a couple of other things. The fat can be painful. My husband loves having his legs and ankles squeezed. I simply cannot tolerate it.

The condition can deteriorate so that the expanding fat cells constrict the pathways of lymphatic vessels and sufferers can develop secondary lymphedema.

Doctors in the US and Canada are largely unaware of the condition. It seems to be more common in Europe, particularly in Germany and there are doctors there who specialize in treating the condition. There is not a lot of research being done into the condition.

Surgical options like liposuction have been extremely controversial. Frankly, in the past it has made the condition worse. The thrusting motion used in conventional liposuction tends to play havoc with the delicate lymphatic vessels in the lower legs. There is however a new method, the water-jet assisted method, which uses water and not heat or violent motion to break down the adipose tissue. There have been experiments done that show that it can be done without disturbing the lymph system. This is the method I think I will eventually go for but I am waiting, planning and doing a lot of reading.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

the weighty history - from soup to nuts

I was totally normal in both shape and weight until puberty. I have (actually my parents still have) an old photo of me at about 8, and I can see knobby suntanned ankles. I love that photo.

After puberty, my ankles just disappeared. I didn't really notice until a boy at judo class asked me why I didn't have any. Up to that point, it wasn't something I thought about. After that, it was all I thought about. My weight was normal but I didn't ever feel OK. I never felt just HOT. I was beautiful....BUT. I think it was all my mother thought about too. She talked about it constantly and criticized me constantly. You know....oh you'd be so pretty if ONLY you could slim down your legs. She was a food nazi, and no matter what I did, how much exercise I did, how little I ate, it wasn't enough. There was always something that I just wasn't doing right, and if I just did something else, then I would be acceptable in her eyes.

I forgave my mother a long time ago. She was only doing what she thought best. Now she has Alzheimers and can no longer identify a banana. Really.

My weight continued to be within the normal range. I was around 118-126 lbs for my young adult life, and I skiied cross country and was very fit. Then, I got the adult form of whooping cough and was really sick for a while. I lost a lot of weight, but hey, guess what??? The legs stayed big. My cheekbones were sharp enough to slice butter, but no ankles had come into view. Bugger.

This photo was taken when I was 21, in 1981. Check the hair style. No one would ever guess that this girl had fat legs and only felt good when no one could see them. For that reason, I always loved ball gowns.

When I got pregnant with my first child I was 29 and weighed 135 lbs. I put on a chunk of weight, but I lost it straight away. A couple of years later I got pregnant again but this time I didn't lose it so quickly but eventually it came off. With my last pregnancy, I felt really well. I swam a km nearly every day. I walked and did maternity yoga. I had the easiest pregnancy and birth ever. Afterwards,however, it was a different story. I was breastfeeding, exercising, watching what I ate, and the weight was going in the wrong direction. I was cold all the time, and exhausted beyond all reasoning. Oh, and my pulse?? My resting pulse rate was 40 bpm. I got a referral to an endocrinologist.

He did one test, didn't examine me, or ask me anything. He informed me that my thyroid function was normal. All I needed to do, in his illustrious opinion, was to "step away from the trough, and get on the stepper". I felt like I had been spat upon. I wanted to slap his arrogant face, but of course i didn't. I just retreated and didn't go near another doctor again for years. All these years later it still makes me angry.

My first marriage started its slow decline just about when my second daughter was born in 1992. It finally bit the dust in 1999, when my youngest was 4. By that time I was huge. I'm only 5'4" but I weighed in at 232 at my largest. The weird thing is though, that if anyone had seen a picture of my face, they never ever would have guessed that I carried any extra weight at all. My face never got fat. In some ways though, it allowed me to kid myself. I could look at myself in the mirror and never acknowledge that the rest of me didn't match. Denial is a tricky beast.

I started losing weight in 2001. Oh God, I worked so hard. I had not been back to get a second opinion on the thyroid issue, but I was working, working, working. Every pound that came off had been worked for.

I met my wonderful husband in 2001. He was in the US and I was in Australia, but against all the odds we got together. I moved to the US and we got married in November, 2002. By the time we married I was down to 184lbs. I went to a new doctor who was recommended to me by friends. She did a number of tests and said, "this explains your weight gain" I told her that I had actually lost over 40 lbs and she gave me the longest look and held my hands in hers and said" oh my dear, you must have worked so very hard". I felt like crying.

I was put on thyroid meds, but it took a long time to get it to anywhere near the proper level. Eventually I got down to 166 lbs. Then, at the beginning of 2008, I accepted a full time substitute teaching position because my childrens' math teacher had lost her mind and was in the loony bin. I was teaching high school algebra and geometry and it was really stressful. My thyroid got waaaay out of whack, but I didn't really put everything together. I ought to have, but I didn't. By the end of the semester my weight had gone up to 181. It was the first time I'd been over 179 in 4 years. I joined Sparkpeople to use their tools, but still, the weight didn't move. I was recording every morsel I ate. I was exercising every day. Nothing. Nada. It was so discouraging.

In July 2009, I decided to to and see the University of Nevada weight control folks. It was touted as being medically supervised, which means to me that someone might have a clue. I knew that something was off, but I didn't know what to do. I printed out the food and exercise diaries I had been faithfully keeping. I trotted off to Reno with a smile on my face and hope in my heart. I described what i had been doing. The doctor nodded and glazed over. They sent me off for a battery of blood tests. My sugar levels, triglycerides and cholesterol levels were a work of art. My bad cholesterol is low, my good ones are high. My blood pressure is 100/70. All fabulous. Then they did this awful test to measure my Resting Metabolic Rate. I had to sit quietly with a peg on my nose and breathe into a device that made me feel like I was drowning. The nutritionist sat and watched me, and then when it beeped to indicate completion, she had a look, said "Oh, that CANNOT be right" and made me do it again. And again. And again. And again.I did that frigging test 5 times.

By this time, my beloved had become worried and had come looking for me. We sat there and listened while she told me that the tests had revealed that my body burns calories at the rate of 840 per day. Given my weight and age it ought to have been about 1500 cals. She had NO clue and no explanation. She was just going to send me off with a diet plan written for a 1200 cal diet. HUH??? I had been eating this for months. I KNOW what a healthy diet entails. The doctor called me the next day and just blew me off. Maybe it was my experience with the first doctor all those years ago, but i just kind of blamed myself and gave up.

So, here i am. I weigh 202 lbs as of this morning. My husband, who is so loving and supportive, is helping me research options. He thinks I need to do something different and is willing to go into bat for me. It's mad, but I still feel that if I work hard enough, and try long enough, I will have the results to show for my efforts.
Last night I did the Biggest Loser cardio DVD. I did it for the first time last week, and it kicked my butt. The movements aren't difficult, but oh man, when I was done, everything I have was quivering. I hurt the next day - quite badly. It cracks me up though. I watch the people to see how to co-ordinate things, but everyone is doing something different. Bob just yells, "It's OK just KEEP MOVING", and so I do.
This morning I walked Gizmo, and did a yoga workout. It felt good.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The First day of skiing

I love skiing. I am fat, but when I ski, I'm not. I don't feel as earthbound as I do in everyday life. I love the swooping down the hill and the carving of turns. I love the sound of my skis whooshing across the snow. I love everything about it. I'm not anywhere near an expert, but I feel so pretty when I ski. I don't want to lose this thing that I love. It will happen if I cannot lose weight. It will happen if I can no longer fit my legs into ski boots. It's a near thing. Yesterday it took two people, besides myself, a good long while to wrestle the latch of the ski boot to the red safety latch.

This blog is about my quest for normal weight and normal legs. I would like to be able to go into a ski store and choose ski boots because I like them, and not because they are the only ones that will ever squeeze around my legs.

I read Lyn's blog regularly, and when I read it this morning, she asked what her readers were going to do with the rest of the year, and the idea for this project came to me. Quite possibly, no one will ever read my blatherings, but I need to put it out there, and make it something real for me. That way, I can't deny the problem and I need to get on with it and do something positive about it. I don't think it will be easy, but I promise to myself (and to readers, if I ever have any) to keep it honest.

I have a condition called lipedema. It can also be spelled lipoedema. It should be Latin for "bog ugly legs". It is a fat disorder which begins for many, as it did for me, with the onset of puberty. My legs, before then were just normal legs. Puberty hit, and my ankles disappeared. My legs were bigger than my friends' legs, even though I weighed the same, or less. My legs looked like tree trunks, heavy all the way to the ground. I was like a ballerina above the hips; all fine bones and slim muscles, but below the hips I was more russian peasant, and OLD Russian peasant at that. It was pretty upsetting, and all the more so because I didn't know what it was. I just had big, fat legs, and I felt faulty.

Then, a couple of years ago, I found a website that put a name on my affliction. I looked at these pictures and I saw my legs. It was comforting in a way to have a name, but not comforting at all in that there is no cure. Lipodema doesn't respond to dieting and exercise. So, what should I do? Give up? Get older, fatter, heavier? Lose my mobility? Get Lymphedema? There are folks in the Lipo/lymphedema community who just say, "accept it, there is nothing you can do". I can't do that. Just no bloody way. So, what is my plan?

I am going to eat clean, exercise hard and often with the goal of reducing my non-lipedemic weight. I KNOW I can do this. I KNOW it. Then, when I have reached a "normal" BMI, even though my legs will still not be normal, I am going to be assessed by a physician for water-jet assisted liposuction, which is a new technique that shows promise for this condition.

So....these are my goals.

1. To be able to do up my ski boots unassisted. This is possible. I did this last year. It wasn't easy but I could do it.

2. To get stronger and lighter so my skiing, and my day-to-day lifestyle improves.

3. to get to a BMI within normal limits

4. To have liposuction on my legs.

5. To be able to walk into a ski shop, try different things on without the horrible embarrassment of knowing that nothing will work, and choose Ski boots because I like them.

So. That's the beginning. I will get organized with photos, but at least I've made a beginning.