Why liking your doctor makes a huge difference.

When I think about the past two years in terms of doctors, I have a veritable cast of characters that come to mind. Getting married, becoming unemployed, going on my husband’s insurance meant switching from Kaiser, where all of everything was neatly contained in one HMO system, to the wild west (but totally awesome) land of PPO. I didn’t need referrals to see specialists for all that ailed me; and for once, my histamine-hating body rejoiced at the fact that I could pick my allergist based on reviews, proximity, and office hours of convenience. Granted, there were some trials as I adjusted to the PPO plan, like the fact that I needed several different docs — an allergist, a primary care doc, a dermatologist, a lady doc, and an endocrinologist (apparently I’m high maintenance). I hit gold with my allergist, but didn’t so much love my primary care doc. Instead of a doctor who actually listened to my complaints about my weight, I got the old “You’re not trying hard enough. Exercise more, eat less.” Now. Surely there’s some truth to that. But had this doctor taken the time to *really* investigate my claims, they’d find that blood tests don’t lie, and neither was I. So I dumped him, and moved on to the next. I bumbled around with a few different doctors, and now, a year later, I feel that I finally have my medical dream team assembled.

Curvaceous and Stunning Vaudeville Star Lillian Russel

Yesterday I had a two month follow up with my endocrinologist. I like this guy, because not only does he have a great sense of humor (reminding me that I was born in the wrong era, because my weight back then would have been highly desired — even mentioning the curvy old film star Lillian Russel, see below!), he TAKES TIME TO EXPLAIN THINGS. As in, he actually busts out his doctor pen, and starts to draw diagrams on the paper sheet on the exam table. Yesterday, he drew a diagram of the kidney’s role in weight loss, and why a long-term low carb diet can be challenging on the kidneys. (We’re trying a 1,300 calorie  day diet now, with moderate “good” carbs.) I had some very pointed questions about some of the hormone issues I’ve been having, and he gave me very direct, yet polite, responses. There’s a bedside manner that’s needed anytime you’re working with the public, especially when it’s sensitive stuff. I don’t need to be coddled, but if I ask a direct question, I want a direct answer, but delivered softly. This guy has it mastered — even making jokes about Dexter while taking blood. Schwing! I have what’s called “white coat hypertension”. I’m usually nervous at doctor’s appointments, so yesterday, my first blood pressure reading was sky high (156/92. YIKES!). I now know to ask the doctors to re-check mid-way through the appointment. I’ve known this for years, yet Kaiser wouldn’t retest me, and I ended up having to visit a hypertension clinic where, no surprise, my repeat blood pressure readings were great. The doc yesterday got me laughing, took my blood pressure a second time while cracking jokes about my Metformin induced nausea, and lo and behold, my blood pressure was a relatively healthy 126/79. That? Is a good doctor. One who listens, takes note, suggests helpful modifications, and cares.

So who cares if I like my doctor, right? I care. You have to decide to take action after leaving your doctor’s office, to try and manage the things YOU can control. Some things you can’t control, but some you can. I left my appointment feeling encouraged, positive, and motivated to keep working on my weight loss. And that’s why I realize it’s important to like the person who’s helping to take care of and treat YOU. Because YOU matter at the end of the day, and to keep yourself in tip-top shape, “liking” the person who’s giving you the orders is super important. Have you found a doctor you like?

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Recap, Double Chin Style

Hello, hello! Sorry for the tumbleweeds blowin’ around here lately…I’ve been on the road living life, and sometimes living life means my little dusty corner of the internet gets neglected for a few days. Here’s what I’ve been up to!

1) I got really POed last week at my weigh in when I gained a pound. I was mostly POed because I *mostly* refrained from eating carbs (except for some delicious Scotchmallows on Easter), walked over 10 miles total, and did a horrifying Jillian Michaels Shred class at the gym. In my mind, all of those efforts should have meant I got skinny right away, because you know, of course eating mostly right and exercising for seven days should automatically result in a 70 pound instantaneous weight loss… I had to talk myself down from my unreasonable yet totally realistic-in-the-moment musings of “I should just accept I’m always going to be heavy and move on with my life”. I actually made a pretty funny comparison now that I think back on it, and I’ll share that one in a few days when I have time to summarize, but it involves everyone’s favorite new movie, Frozen, as shown below.

Coming soon on the DCD: Why Alyssa's weight loss struggles parallels Elsa, a queen with a frightening magical power.

Coming soon on the DCD: Why Alyssa’s weight loss struggles parallels Elsa, a queen with a frightening magical power.

2) I’m meeting with my endocrinologist next week for a follow up, and I can’t wait to switch medication versions from a normal Metformin to Metformin XR, which is extended release and will hopefully make me less nauseous after taking it. After two weeks of feeling constantly urp-ish, I summoned Dr. Google and discovered this PCOS medication can “hit you” five-six weeks after a dosage change, when levels increase in the body. I’m not a doctor of course, so don’t quote me on the accuracy of that, but it made sense to me. You’d think that constant nausea would translate to weight loss, but nope, not this week. Next week, hopefully. Ironically, whenever I eat too many carbs, the gastric distress is enhanced, making me wonder if I do have some sort of gluten intolerance. Maybe I should look into that. Oh carbs. Why do you have to be so delicious?

In honor of Mean Girls 10th anniversary.

3) Fundraising! Thank you SO much to everybody who has donated to my journey towards 60 miles. I’m currently at $669 raised out of $2,300, and my teammate Aubrey has challenged me to raise $200 by Sunday evening. Can you help me get there with a donation of $50?     I have been enjoying training, and today did my longest walk in awhile, clocking in 4.80 miles with my friend Amy. I’m a little bit sore now and am kind of like “Oh, crap. I’m going to be walking four times that in a couple months?! THREE DAYS IN A ROW?!” Scary, but awesome. I can do it. You can do it too. Wanna walk 60 miles with the Double Chin Divas? You can join us on our quest to end breast cancer by fundraising $2,300, walking 60 miles, and then enjoying a fun-filled weekend of walking and glamping. Let me know if you’re interested; I have a special coupon code I can share. Cancer sucks, and this is something we can do to help kick its butt.

Let's leave breast cancer out in the cold. Besides, who doesn't love penguins? Please support me on my journey towards walking 60 miles with a donation.

Let’s leave breast cancer out in the cold. Besides, who doesn’t love penguins? Please support me on my journey towards walking 60 miles with a donation.

4) My bestie got engaged this week! I flew to Northern California to celebrate her birthday and engagement. She and her soon to be hubby are a lovely couple, and I had so much fun at their BBQ and catching up. I also got to squeeze in a nice dinner with all my parents which was lovely. I’m so grateful for an awesome job that allows me to work remotely, as it gives you such a nice flexibility. I can work anywhere that has wifi and cell phone reception — so rad. Now to actually try and work standing up one of these days. Has anybody done it? Any tips?

 

Checking out the ring!

Checking out the ring!

5) I got a haircut. It’s fun to have a change. 🙂

Ok, that’s all I got, because it’s 11:28 p.m. and this chickadee should be asleep in bed by now. Tell me what’s new in your world, and have an amazing Thursday!

Alyssa

 

 

 

Buy the box weight loss

Even though I am currently “doing” Weight Watchers, it took me a while to get keen on  the idea of paying money to do a program that had already been determined for me before nothing was known of my own personal condition. But since I can’t resist a good deal and I knew I needed some sort of extra pressure to help me… I signed up.  As you guys saw with my last update, I have actually been having some success over the past few months.  Whether or not I could have done that on my own, who knows.  I do know that I counted points for like 2 weeks and the rest of the time I have just been eating my typical “earth food” that comes from the ground rather than a box.

I’ve got this issue with boxes with more than just avoiding food from them.  I also have a big issue with companies that try to fit their potential customers or current customers into a box.  Specially, weight loss plans.  Ever since I started gaining weight as a teenager, I’ve had suggestions of weight loss programs that I should do.  Slimfast.  Nutrisystem. Jenny Craig.  Weight Watchers.  Atkins.  Now, as an adult blogger, the suggestions come on even stronger.

The past few months on Weight Watchers has really confirmed my disliking of programs that are designed to place certain people in certain boxes.  For example, my daily point allowance for WW was based on my age, height, weight, and my suggested activity level.  The spectrum for everything is pretty broad though.  According to this handy blog by LaaLoosh, age groups are clumped within ten years and people who fall between 5’1 and 5’10 are clumped together as well.  So that means a 27 year old female who is 5’9″ and 200 pounds who is sedentary will have similar point values to a 37 year old female who is 5’2″ and 160 pounds and walks often.  I would like to believe it is balanced accordingly per person, but I just doubt the specific attention each member receives when determining what they should eat every day.

Weight Watchers gripes aside, my point is this:  I believe there is no program that works for everyone.  The weight loss industry in the United States is driven by one thing: money.  Our country feeds into this multi-billion dollar industry by quickly latching on to whatever they feel is going to be the easiest solution to their weight loss.  I know when I signed up for Weight Watchers, it was and is because I still feel like I need the weekly meetings in order to feel accountable for myself.  I had a feeling that I probably wouldn’t actually track points and  even without it, I have still been able to have success.  Whether or not it is because I’m enrolled in the program and going to the meetings, who knows.  I do feel more determined that ever to get this weight off so whatever it is that I’m doing, it is working.

However, I can not just go and say that Weight Watchers works for everyone.  I think the only sort of program I can really advocate for is one that a trained dietitian and nutritionist creates specifically for YOU.  Anyone that I have talked to about their successful weight loss has been on a journey that has consisted of what they have crafted together by what works best for their bodies.  There is no simple, by the box, weight loss program that works for everyone. The trick is just finding what works for YOU.

Lots of love,

AprilSignatur

 

 

 

April’s 2-month Weight Watchers Review

It has been roughly two months since I signed up for Weight Watchers.  I had never been a fan of doing “molded into a box” programs that have been designed for the masses, but I figured it was cheap at $21 a month and I struggled with being accountable for my own actions.  Eight weeks in, I’m down roughly ten pounds.  January I lost the majority of that, February I fluctuated up and down because of sickness and winter blues, and now that it is March… well I guess we’ll just have to see what this month brings for me.

One major criticism that has been bugging me about this program is that I don’t feel I’m getting what I should out of it.  According to this article, Weight Watchers pulled in  $253 million dollars in 2012.  The article highlights the low wages their employees are getting, which isn’t surprising to find out about since most large corporations pay the backbone of their company like crap anyway.  However, I’m sure that profit margin is still reasonably high considering the actual work the company does for each individual client is relatively small.

Once I was registered for my first meeting and my weight and height were popped into the system, I was assigned my point value for my day.  There was no personal assessment of the foods I could and could not eat because of health restrictions.  There was no measuring of my body fat or even just with a tape measure to my gut.  I stepped on the scale, got my sticker with my weight, and sat down with the rest of the stickerfied people ready to listen to our leader.

With all the complains this blog post may have, I do have to emphasize the greatness I have gotten out of the meetings.   The meetings are why I signed up for the program in the first place.  I didn’t think I needed help with knowing what to eat, especially when I discovered what kind of processed food they suggest (but I’ll get to that another day).  What I wanted is a group of like-minded people to get together with and talk about our struggles and accomplishments with our health.  So… basically this blog!  Haha!  But in person.  My meeting leader Adrienne is spunky and inspirational and always motivates me to share my own experiences or to get up in front of the group and do a demonstration of food portions or, my favorite, writing on the white board.   I have noticed a correlation between my weeks of losing and going to meetings compared to the weeks I gained and NOT going to the meetings, so that’s interesting.

Outside of the meetings, however, I nitpick on the little things that irritates me about the program.  Alyssa and I both agree that their smart phone app is horrible in comparison to Myfitnesspal.  Their database of food is incredibly small and navigating your way through the app can be slow and frustrating as you discover that you accidentally were searching for a food in your “favorites” section instead of the general search.  For such a large company, we feel their app should be flawless and incredibly easy to navigate.  If two young women brought up in the technological world of smart phones and computers have issues with  the app, what do the people who didn’t spend their teen years with a cell phone in their hands do?

Honestly, I have not counted points for weeks.  Because of my hatred of  the app and not being home enough to be focused on checking in on the computer every day, I just don’t track my points.  I have a basic idea of what I should be eating to stick within the Weight Watchers plan, but really, if I’m not using the app or website…. I am basically just paying to go to the meetings.  $5.25 per meeting to me is worth it to see Adrienne and the rest of the awesome people fighting the struggle with me, but is it worth it to everyone?

I hope that the majority of people using Weight Watchers are finding more of a value in it than I am.  Maybe if I had no idea of what I was doing I would like it more.  Maybe if they bought out Myfitnesspal’s database for their app, I would like it more.  Maybe if they sent me an annoying email every once in a while saying “We notice that you have not tracked your points for 37 days,” I would like it more.   Myfitnesspal does that and they don’t even charge for their website.

It is unlikely that I will register again after my six months is up in August but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try to make the most out of my Weight Watchers experience.  It is working for me and I do credit the new support system I have found in the meetings for keeping me motivated. I just hope that Weight Watchers can use some of the hundreds of millions of dollars their pulling in each year to put it back into their products and individualized customer service.

Lots of love,

AprilSignatur

#deep

Last Friday night I had an interesting interaction that lead me to do some deep thinking over the course of the week of how I view myself.

I was walking towards Chipotle (mmm) to get my favorite standard salad with no dressing when I noticed a dude checking me out as I approached.  As I got closer, I decided to actually give him some eye contact for once instead of shyly looking away and avoiding looking at him.  The cute dude smiled and said, “Hello”  and feeling brave I said “Hi” back and walked into the restaurant.  As I stood staring and the menu and debating between chicken and pork, the dude came up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder.  He said, “Excuse me, I know this is random, but would you like to have dinner with me right now, my treat?”  I gave him a curious eye but decided he seemed harmless enough and said, “Yes, I hope you like Chipotle.”

So I ordered my salad and he ordered an enchilada, something that any Chipotle fan knows that is NOT a menu option.  Although he clearly told me he liked Chipotle after my question above, how could he not know they don’t have enchiladas?  Then when it comes to pay, he struggled to find his check card and then claimed his buddy had it along with his phone.  I silently wondered why but insisted that I didn’t mind paying for his $3.75 quesadilla so we could get the horrible awkward moment over with.  Twenty minutes pass and we learned a bunch of random information about each other and got to the point of exchanging numbers.  But wait, his buddy had his phone!  Well, I suggested that he should just use my phone to call his own phone to get in touch with his friend, who supposedly had gotten separated from him an hour earlier at the mall Chipotle was in.  Sure enough his friend picked up and they were set to meet at Applebee’s.  The dude was quite persistent in trying to get me to come with him but I was quite focused on going on and doing nothing as I had been gone all day already.  As we hugged goodbye, he tried to kiss me and I immediately rejected his plan and said my goodbyes.

So that was that.  Now, I guess it could be a common situation for some people but for me, it is not so often that I get blatantly hit on and asked out on the spot.  It happens, but never like this dude.

All throughout the entire situation I kept thinking of this horrible scenario that relates back to the dating website Okcupid.  One of the great things about the site is that is asks all these questions and one of them is “Would you ever go wart-hogging?”

If you don’t know what it means, I didn’t until I was on  this site, it is when a group of men/women go out and try to “bag the warthog” or basically to pursue someone ugly/fat/unattractive that they weren’t interested in just for kicks.

What if I was the warthog?

I just didn’t get why a relatively hot guy would single me out and follow me into Chipotle without some other type of motive than just pure attraction.  Maybe he was a con-artist who uses women for their money to buy him food.  Maybe he was going to steal my phone but Chipotle wasn’t the right place.  Maybe he was going to try to abduct me if I went with him to meet his friends.

All these what-ifs crossed through my mind but the one that DIDN’T was:  What if he is just into me because he thinks I’m hot?

It sucks because there has been very little to make me have the self-esteem that I do.  I typically think that my self-esteem is pretty great and all the men I have dated I have always found pretty attractive and they seem to be attracted to me.. so why don’t I think I deserve a genuine situation like this to happen to me?

I think it may have to do with the fact that my relationships either come out of guys who I meet through friends or using Okcupid where the interest is sparked through conversation first. It’s just such a random thing to be approached out of nowhere for this day and age and clearly, it’s messed with my head.

Have any of you had issues similar to this? Have you ever felt not worthy even though you knew you really were deep down inside?

In other news, I’ll be updating this blog around 11am with my Weight Watchers results of the week.  I’m not expecting a loss, but we’ll see.

I hope you all have a glorious Friday and first weekend of March!!

Peace and monkeys,

AprilSignatur

Assumptions: Why they’re usually never good.

This week, I saw my amazing friend Alan at Sweating Until Happy post this on his Facebook page:

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 10.08.33 PM

Do you know Alan? You should! He’s lost over 140 pounds, and is doing a triathalon soon! He’s an awesome athlete. It’s ironic that Alan posted this this week because I’ve also had several innocent assumptions this week come at me in the wrong way. I had a doctor’s appointment with a new practitioner, and after discussing my weight loss goals, he looked at me quizzically and said, “But do you exercise?” It was really hard for me not to pull out the sassy-snarky-sarcastic card that I play so well and be like “Nope. Not at all. In fact, I only move about 12 feet total each day, when I wake up in my bedroom and commute down the hall to my office for work.” However, my face probably showed some irritation as I patiently explained that yes, I hike, I do yoga, I run on the treadmill, I walk, I zumba… I am active. I know that it’s his job as a doctor to make sure I’m getting some physical activity, but I more resent the idea that just because I’m heavy, it’s assumed that I must not move. In the past, I’ve actually whipped out a business card for this blog at doctor’s appointments, just so I don’t have to explain the whole history of my ridiculous weight loss/gain/medical maladies. I may do that next week when I meet with a new endocrinologist… or maybe I’ll just get a t-shirt made that says “YES. I exercise at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes. YES, I am still obese.” (but I’d probably add a smiley face to the end of it, cuz that’s how I roll.) 🙂 (This same doctor told me to lose 100 pounds. I actually did laugh (politely) in his face and said “Yeah, not gonna happen. I’m cool with just 55 more.”
(Underachiever? Nah. Realist? Yah.))

Big girls climb mountains!

Big girls climb mountains!

Then, as if once this week wasn’t enough, I also tried a new fitness class at a new studio. While this comment wasn’t so direct, I got more of the “Oh, have you ever done this before? Is this your first time trying it?” all the while being corrected about the moves. Innocent questions, but perhaps because I’m already sensitive about the whole weight/exercise thing, I felt a tad annoyed as I explained that I’d done this particular type of exercise several times for several years, but that I just like to try different classes. These things come up all the time for all kinds of different people. I know that my single friends hate how people always assume they’re lonely or unhappy. There are a million different assumptions we make about people at any given time, and that’s fine, because it’s human nature. But maybe if you’re going to assume something, pause for a moment before verbalizing. I have to work on this too. As a chronic sufferer of foot in mouth disease, I definitely have said things I shouldn’t have, or made assumptions, or reinforced stereotypes… and I’m workin’ on it. And that’s fine. We will never be perfect at never offending anyone or hurting feelings. But, we can work on an awareness, a type of “sympatico” that you gently roll around in your mind, reminding you that next time you want to blurt out something like “Good for you!” to the heavy person huffing and puffing around the block, they may not need those kudos. AND, those words of encouragement? Might actually be kind of a downer for the person on the receiving end. While the intentions are good, of course, remember what Alan said. You never know where someone is at in their journey.

Where have you experienced an assumption that didn’t quite jive with you? I know it happens with career types (like assuming because I’m a social media manager, I update my Facebook and watch YouTube videos all day), body types, ethnicities, hair color… you name it! I guess any trait could create an unwanted assumption, couldn’t it? 🙂