Krissie: Morbidly Obese

Photo on 1-9-14 at 8.50 AM So I went for an annual physical, which I can get nowadays since I’m on medicare. Everything was going swimmingly. I’d lost weight, lungs were good, heart good, BP up a smudge but so was everyone else who’d come in that morning, according to Pam, the nurse, which she blamed on the extremely icy roads (and they were). So I got my pneumonia vaccine, and we talked a bit about weight loss surgery. I still don’t think it’s the answer for me, and I always thought you should weigh more in order to really benefit from it.
She looked at my chart, looked at my height (which actually had gone up a quarter of an inch — it all has to do with the time of day you get measured, and said that my overall-shrinking (about an inch in toto over the years, from just under 5’7 to just under 5’6, tips me over into the morbidly obese BMI.
That’s such a horribly term. And by morbid I don’t think they mean large and depressing and gloomy, which it is. I think they mean life-threatening. And I’d felt so good about changing my eating habits!
I was 241.1 today (I think that was what I was last time I weighed, or maybe I was 241.3. Anyway, I’m not going to bounce back up after this quick drop — now I’ll just settle down to lose slowly, I suppose. Which is 8 pounds, not 10, since I started a week ago, which is pretty good (my math skills fluctuate). I’m not feeling tempted by the things I shouldn’t eat, so that’s a good thing.
Still, that M.O. thing really gets to me. I’m sure I was much more so when I was an inch taller and thirty-five pounds heavier, but no one ever said the words.
Anyway, I’ve been following my program. Down to one Tab and maybe a Diet ginger ale later in the day, but pushing the water. No goldfish or bread or crackers. Need more fruit but I need to go shopping for it, but yesterday I went and swam and loved it. So the year has started well, with no food temptations whatsoever and ready to exercise.
I don’t know how long it’ll take me to get down from the M.O. definition (shudder). But since I just bumped over the edge because of my height I think it’s easy enough to bump below. We’ll have fireworks when we get to that point.
I want to remake my life in so many ways, physically and financially and professionally and healthfully.
Release was my world. Release the old body, the only food-crutches. I’m ready to boogie.

21 thoughts on “Krissie: Morbidly Obese

  1. I get that, Krissie. I went beyond morbid obesity into the super obesity category when I was at my top weight prior to my bariatric surgery almost two years ago. Morbid Obesity is just a horrible phrase and difficult to hear.

    Finally committing and having the surgery was absolutely the best decision for me. I resisted for years but finally did it out of desperation. It was definitely my choice when I finally moved forward with the decision.

    That said, I never tout it as “the way” or urge anyone else to go get it done. It is a serious, drastic measure and life change. Nobody should get it done because someone else — even a doctor — tells them to.

    Here’s why I believe this so strongly. Weight loss surgery is a fantastic tool. It has helped me change my life and develop into a healthier, more fit, happier person. However, it is only the tool that helped set me on the path. It restricts the amount of food I can eat. However, I still have to do the work of eating the right food items in appropriate ways. I still have to commit to following the food plan and exercising.

    Surgery does not resolve a person’s individual issues with food and eating. It didn’t cure my compulsive overeating/binge eating disorder. I work on those issues all of the time. (Thank goodness for my blog. I do a lot of my processing and work there.)

    I now know and understand that if I’d had the surgery five years ago when others urged, I would ultimately have failed and gained back the weight. I was not mentally or emotionally prepared to change all aspects of my life.

    If you don’t think that surgery is the answer for you, then it isn’t. Keep doing what you’re doing — eating less, eating healthier, exercising more. Do the best that you can.

    My surgeon is all about the BMI number, too. Even though I’ve lost 170 pounds, at my height, I’m still in the Obese category, although I’ve moved out of Super-O and Morbid-O. I’m aiming for a “merely” Overweight BMI number before I declare myself at goal and transition to maintenance.

  2. Sure Thing says:

    Wow, Mary Stella, I’d followed some of your posts after you’d had the surgery and you did document the work it took to actually get to healthier state. Thanks for that.

    Krissie – you achieved something, don’t let a number take that away from you. As for surgery – everybody is different. Any surgery is surgery – anesthesia and all its attendant issues being something to consider.

    I shan’t give you our scary stories or positive stories – my folks have both – but you need to think about this from your point of view and what it would mean for you. (((HUG)))

  3. Kieran says:

    Krissie, maybe it will help if you talk compassionately to your body every day. Thank your heart for its hard work, your liver, your gut, your knees…. Reminding yourself that you’re a miracle already may lift your spirits and empower you on this journey. XOXO

  4. Auntie JB says:

    The BMI scale is a hot button for me. Any eating disorder specialist will tell you that the BMI scale is an arbitrary measure created by an actuary at an insurance company who needed a statistic for a formula to anticipate life expectancy. It doesn’t have real meaning when it comes to your health.

    THEN, the US government needed a measurement for their “get healthy” campaigns and used the BMI scale. Only they took it a step further and tightened up the scale, causing 30 millian Americans to “become obsese” overnight.

    Now granted, I also fall into the “morbidly obese” category and do feel the definition is accurate for me. HOWEVER, it does not change whether I’m healthy or not.

    Personally I’m working (slowly) to embrace the Health At Every Size (HAES) philosophy. I can’t change my genetic makeup which gives me more belly than I’d like. I also can’t go back and take back all the diets I went on that caused my metabolism to slow down, causing me to gain weight faster. But I can change how I think of my body and listen to what it is telling me. That’s what HAES is about.

    You can find more information here:

    Krissie, I’ve followed your struggles with your weight and eating issues since the inception of this blog. My heart goes out to you as you struggle with these issues. I encourage you to glance at this information and consider focusing on how you can be kind to yourself and listen to your body. You may be surprised at what happens.

  5. Auntie JB says:

    PS: I got rid of my scale years ago. I don’t allow the doctors or their staff tell me my weight. I know where it is, I can feel it in the tightness of my clothes and in how my body feels after eating pizza for dinner three nights in a row. Perhaps you can consider giving the scale away and focus instead on how you feel when you go swimming and when you eat things your body wants.

  6. Auntie JB, I love the idea of embracing health at every size. While I am not content to stay at this weight and still want to lose my remaining 40-50 pounds, I have also worked hard to improve my health. I am more physically fit and healthy than I’ve been since high school. It feels amazing.

    Mentally, I don’t beat myself up for the distance still to go. I celebrate how far I’ve come. I’m going to check out that website. Thank you for sharing the link.

  7. Words are such strange things, aren’t they? Get one stuck in that eternal mind loop and it’s like a toothache. Morbid. Ick! I’ma gonna go with curvy (doesn’t matter if it’s curvy in the wrong places) but yeah, curvy. Healthy and curvy.

  8. Carol says:

    Absolutely agree with you, Robena. Healthy and Curvy at any size. Caught myself eating a bag of chips/crisps yesterday. Mindless eating after a very busy day. Gotta stop that.

  9. You have such a good attitude!

    All the people (well, okay, only two) I know who’ve had the surgery subsequently gained all or most of the weight back, and I think it’s because there’s too little emphasis on the mental aspect of it.

    In terms of the categories, I understand that, as scientists, doctors need to use them, but they don’t need to use them WITH patients. It’s one thing to have “obese white female” in the chart, and another thing to say it out loud. It’s also potentially misleading. I’m not trying to justify my weight, which is distinctly higher than it should be, despite some consistent weight loss the last five years or so, but the charts and BMI don’t take into consideration other factors. My bone disorder gives me “fat” bones — they’re shorter and wider than healthy bones, and there’s just more bone tissue than in a normal person. There’s small-bone, medium-boned, and large-boned in some weight charts, but I’m off-the-charts-boned. If I do a BMI at what I weighed in college when I was a (not very good, but very fit) competitive swimmer, it reports me as obese. Not just a little overweight, which I might have been, but all the way to obese. Which just wasn’t the case. I had perhaps ten pounds to lose, and any more than that would have been unhealthy.

    Sorry, but BMI is a trigger topic for me.

  10. Auntie JB says:

    That reminds me of a great website, “Curvy Yoga”:

    The author, Anna Guest-Jelley, is wonderful! I purchased her yoga DVD and just love it. She shows us how to adapt traditional yoga to curvy bodies and embraces the differences in everyone. It’s so comforting.

    Check out her site. I hope you like it.

  11. Thanks, Auntie JB. I checked it out. Looks interesting and well-priced. I used to do yoga years ago, so I’m going to get one of the DVD’s and give it a try. : )

  12. Jill says:

    I have resisted refused ? to get my BMI done. Too depressing. I weigh more that I look-good enough 😉

  13. Micki says:

    Words have power. If those words encourage you to move more in a safe and sane manner, and get you back to paying attention to what you eat, then they are actually some very, very good, necessary words.

    OTOH, if they plunge you into a depression, make you hungry and rebellious, or cause you to starve yourself or push your body beyond healthy limits, then they are very, very bad words.

    There’s a lot of guilt and peer pressure in Japan that helps people stay within certain weight limits. Most people do well with it, and don’t go off into anorexia (although, there are a few who do).

    My gross-out of the year (and it’s only 10 days into the year!) is where they showed hearts coated with fat. The woman who had a big problem was perhaps 10 or 15 pounds overweight. But, she was very sedentary and ate poorly, and it was really taking a toll on her heart. I think she lost two pounds in 20 days, and when they scanned her heart again, it was still gross, but better. She ate more veggies and started walking 30 minutes a day, I think, in order to get this improvement. (Measurements were in kilos and grams, so don’t quote me on this.)

    I am much, much more than 10 or 15 pounds overweight, and it scares me to think how many layers of fat are constricting my heart. In addition, they were worried about my spleen, and I had to have a CT scan yesterday. It turns out that it’s OK . . . for now. But, I must be more mindful. And that mindfulness must translate into not eating junk for the sake of a buzz, and also getting my body in motion for 20 minutes each day.

    Being sick with the flu was a great jumpstart in my eating habits. I just have to keep eating that way . . . .

  14. German Chocolate Betty says:

    I read an article a few days ago, which I cannot re-locate for love nor money, about a study in which participants either used a precise digital scale (with those nasty little decimal points) and a fuzzy (vague-ish numbers) one.

    They discovered that the folks who had used the digital scales had more problems trying to drop weight than those who used the “in-the-neighborhood” analog (read: old-fashioned scale).

    One theory was that if you were driven by whether your weight went up or down by a tenth of a pound, you were more likely to be depressed which you saw a statistically insignificant weight increase (for example, 0.3 lbs gain) and your behavior might be more negative (for example, seeking solace through chocolate). The theory as to why the imprecise scales didn’t cause this effect was because the normal fluctuations (you may go up and down by a couple of pounds each day due to variety of factors) were not really reflected, so you just kept marching along…

    Just FYI.

    I agree with what the others have said re: weight designations and BMI and such. I am (luckily) in the normal ranges for both, although at the upper end now that I am getting within smelling distance of 60. I do, however, have problems with the hips-to-waist ratio, which is the in-fashion indicator at the moment, and for me not good. On the other hand, I must say that the way I am built, I may have had the same problem when I was underweight, so I am not sure that I should put a whole lot of stock in that anyway.

    Also: while I have some hypertension, I have steadily reduced the amount of medication needed and am now down to a half-tablet of the last of the three medications I was originally taking. (And checking my BP, because I may be able to ditch that one as well.) I have not lost weight, my hips-to-waist hasn’t improved, but I have been doing more biking and walking…

    I guess I am tending toward the “you should just feel good, screw the numbers” philosophy….

  15. I haven’t ruled out surgery. However, I’m someone who can lose significant amounts of weight by moderation, whereas I have a cousin who can only use with aids like diet pills or liquid fasts. She should have the surgery.
    It may come to a point where I get the surgery, and I know many people who’ve done great. No, it doesn’t instantly make you Audrey Hepburn, but you’re healthier and fitter and feel so much better.
    I’m still wanting to do it with an eating plan and exercise. Right now the tools I have are working (support, commitment, nutrition knowledge).

  16. Jane Doe says:

    I remember the first time my doctor told me I needed to lose weight.

    I have usually have a reasonable-to-high level of body confidence and think of myself as pretty fabulous, most of the time – everyone wants to be me or do me, after all.

    So I had really never thought of myself as “FAT”, maybe a little “curvy” and “pleasantly plump”, but not FAT. I thought I was at a “who couldn’t afford to lose ten pounds” weight not at a “you’re significantly impacting your health” weight.

    After hearing nothing on the subject for years, I went in and having maybe gained 3 pounds since the previous year, my doctor told me I was obese. And she said, I think you need to lose fifty pounds. I’m 5’7 and was about 200 lbs at that time, and I said, “Fifteen?” and she said “No fifty, 5-0.”

    Honestly what she was saying felt so far from where I felt I was and it felt like such a huge goal that she was proposing that I pretty much dismissed it. And I did nothing for almost a year…except gain another 8 pounds.

    But then, towards the end of that year, I had a bit of a mental shift. I had a big birthday coming up and I realized I always thought that I would lose those “extra ten pounds” SOMEDAY, but WHAT THE HELL WAS I WAITING FOR? Every moment I put it off was just going to make it harder and harder. And I started having conversations with people who I thought were “Not Fat” and learned that they actually pay attention to what they eat all the time and what I needed wasn’t a “lose that ten pounds everyone needs to lose diet” but a lifestyle shift to healthier eating.

    It sounds so obvious, but I swear it felt like a huge revelation to me – I SHOULDN”T diet away ten pounds- I should find a healthier way to eat forever.

    When I went back to the doctor, and she had left the practice and there was a very nice and supportive PA there. I was talking to her and telling her that I was feeling ready to make a change and she prescribed weight watchers to me – and she told me that she belonged to weight watchers – she was a clear size 4 to my size 14 and it helped me see – being mindful of what you put in your mouth is necessary for everyone. It’s not that those skinny people had it lucky, it’s that they paid attention. Or that maybe there were some insanely skinny people who didn’t have to think about what they eat in the way that there are some insanely rich people who don’t have to think about what they spend – but that I wasn’t in either category, and in the same way I would never go out and spend money without tracking it and paying attention to what was going in and what was going out, I couldn’t just eat whatever I want without paying attention and think there wouldn’t be consequences.

    W.W. really worked for me because it gave me a plan with a lot of flexibility, and I benefit greatly from group support and having my “Accountabili-buddies” helping me to stay on track but really, the real revelation for me was to understand that for me – losing weight isn’t about one big decision to go on a diet, it’s about a dozen little decisions everyday to keep trying to make a healthier choice in my eating and to be more active in general. Big decisions and big amounts are hard. But I could keep make small decisions, and losing little bits.

    I ultimately lost 37 pounds, so about 18% of myself in about 6 months, before I plateaued. And boy did the scale stop moving on me for another 3 months. And I got frustrated and annoyed and feeling like I was spending all this time and all this effort and not progressing.

    So I gave myself permission to stop paying the WW fees and do it on my own for awhile. That was about a year and a half ago. I didn’t significantly gain or lose since then, because of my lifestyle philosophy, and because I did keep to a lot of the good decision patterns I had established.

    But this year I resolved that I will rejoin because I’ve started to find myself slipping on my choices and I’m ready to get back into actively losing again. At 5’7″ and in the upper 170s now, I’m still overweight according to BMI Scales, but it’s not about the numbers and the charts, it’s about my mental space and where I want to be and how I want my life to be.

    For me, it was hugely damaging to hear about it as the BIG DECISION needing immediate BIG ATTENTION and BIG results or don’t bother – that did nothing but turn me off.

    For me the change could only come in my time on my terms, I’m just a stubborn Taurus that way – Tell me to lose 50 pounds, and I’ll gain to spite you. Support my decision to chance and let me know even a small reduction would make a huge impact, and I’ll surprise even myself with what I can do.

  17. oneoftheotherjennifers says:

    I have always been in the “normal” weight range, and my weight is very steady. My doctors have always, at every single annual exam, frowned over it and advised some change.

    “You’d be healthier if you gained five pounds.” A year later, “How much did you weigh in high school? You should try to lose ten pounds to get back to that weight.” Or the atypical year I lost six pounds and my doctor freaked out because I couldn’t tell him why. No idea- maybe I switched soda brands or something. Ran a slew of blood work, then insisted I come into the office again and wouldn’t let me leave without a prescription for an antidepressant. I wasn’t depressed.

    Don’t let the doctors’ judgement (and sorry, yes, that is judgement) bring you down. Screw them. You know what’s best for you, what makes you feel good, and how you want to get to that place.

  18. Susan says:

    I was “technically” morbidly obese at the end of my last weight-loss journey – and thinking I was looking great – and my doctor said to not get obsessed with charts, that I was at a great weight for me.

    “Morbidly obese” can be as incorrect as the Wii Fit game declaring “you’re obese” to my 10-year-old niece (definitely NOT obese) – much to our collective horror last Christmas.

    So – don’t freak out. You can do this…..

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