So, I’ve told you that I’m going to Scottsdale Weight Loss Center and I’ve explained why (as best I can), but I haven’t talked about what it entails. What exactly is the program?

SWLC takes a multipronged approach to weight loss. Their goal is to help me get the weight off as fast as safely possible and then keep it off.

The base program is 20 weeks. (I’ve been going for six.) There are three levels — Jump Start, which is what I am doing, Optimum and Total Access.

No matter what level you choose, the whole thing kicks off with doctor visit, in my case Dr. de Guzman. After that there are weekly follow-ups that include weigh-ins on Tanita, the mother of all scales. With the Jump Start Program, I alternate between seeing Dr. de Guzman and his medical assistant, Jaime, also known as the Queen of Numbers. She’s the one who keeps track of everything Tanita spits out about me. More on Tanita another time.

Anyway, with the Total Access Program you see your doctor every week. He or she is even available via text message.

Is it weird that I have lots of pictures of my veins being drained?

Is it weird that I have lots of pictures of my veins being drained?

There is comprehensive blood work (three tubes) at that first visit. After that, they check the basics every two weeks to make sure your kidneys and liver are doing what kidneys and livers should do. It’s your basic metabolic panel — just one tube of blood.

When I see the doc, we go over my labs and make any program tweaks I might need. I was having some trouble with my energy level early on, so he switched me to a high protein shake in the morning.

Which brings me to the food. For me, the active weight-loss phase involves total meal replacement. At SWLC, that means Optifast by Nestlé.

There are powder shakes and ready-to-drink shakes in strawberry, chocolate and vanilla. There are two soup options — garden tomato and chicken — and three bars — peanut butter chocolate, berry yogurt and chocolate. There also are some partial meal replacement bars in a variety of flavors, but I’ve only had half of one in the entire six weeks.

The nice thing about Optifast is that the meals have all the nutrients my body needs. With the exception of a little extra fiber, I do not have to take any supplements.

Left: Old, admittedly unwise, breakfast or lunch at work Right: New breakfast AND lunch at work

Left: Old, admittedly unwise, breakfast or lunch at work
Right: New breakfast AND lunch at work

The meal replacement is designed to give you — me — “a break from constant food choices.” That means as long as I stick to the program, I can’t make a bad choice. It’s kind of boring, but that’s part of the point. Right now food is fuel. Nothing more. Nothing less.

I’m consuming between 800 and 950 calories a day, and while I’m clearly not eating more than I was seven weeks ago, I’m definitely eating more often. No doubt about it. Five times a day — every three hours (no more than four) while I’m awake. I’m struggling a bit with that part. Remembering to eat is hard for me.

And it feels like I’m constantly eating. Seriously. It’s like all. The. Time.

I used to eat once or twice a day. No more!

While this scheduled eating thing probably is one of the harder things for me, I’m getting the hang of it. I set an alarm and treat meals like meds. And I’m starting to feel it when I go longer than four hours. I’m not exactly hungry, but I notice myself start to drag. Small meals throughout the day keep the metabolism running smoothly and the blood sugar stable.

I’m also taking phentermine, which is an appetite suppressant, so being hungry — physically hungry, that is — is not really an issue for me.

Cravings, however, are another thing. Cravings are generally mental. I’m learning to talk myself out of them.

That brings me to the other part of the SWLC program.

In addition to the medical side of weight loss, SWLC also addresses the mental and emotional side through a series of classes. I have not made those the priority I should, but I did go to the one about eliminating negativity from my life. Would you believe me if I said I didn’t cry my way through it? Yeah. I didn’t think so.

Homework!

Homework!

It was a good class, one I probably need to take at least three or four more times as I work to vanquish my inner voice of evil. (Those of you who read my Fat Girl Walkin’ blog might remember IVE (pronounced Ivy). Yes, I gave the bitchy voice inside my head a name. I name everything. Bella is my car. Eve is my ailing computer. It’s just what I do.)

But I digress. Shocker, that.

The class on eliminating negativity — really, this whole process — is helping me to realize that I’m not as broken as I thought. No more broken than anyone else anyway.

SWLC would not exist if they weren’t both a need and a market for it. The support from my family, my friends and even strangers, shows me that I am not alone in this endeavor.

I was watching “A League of Their Own” the other day (y’all know how I love my movie wisdom) and a chat Doris (Rosie O’Donnell) had with Betty Spaghetti (Tracy Reiner) and Kit (Lori Petty) on the team bus resonated with me. They were talking about Doris’ boyfriend and why she was with him.

Doris: “All the others boys made me feel like I was somehow wrong, like I was some sort of a weird girl or a strange girl — or not even a girl — just because I could play. I believed ’em, too. But not anymore, you know? I mean lookit. There’s a lot of us. I think we’re all all right.”
Betty: “We are.”

It kind of applies. Judgey people made me feel like something was seriously wrong with me, like I didn’t deserve to be out in public,  like I’m not worthy of being loved, or even liked, because I’m fat. I not only allowed it, I believed it. Shame. Embarrassment. More shame. More embarrassment. Talk about a vicious circle. It goes back to the “what not who” difference I talked about in my first post.

I’m not broken. I’m not wrong. I’m not less than.

We all have our struggles. Whether it’s weight loss, weight gain, getting fit, learning a new skill, rebuilding  your credit history, adjusting to some kind of life change or simply trying to make a good life for ourselves and our families, we’re all on a journey of some sort. There’s a lot of us. And I think we’re all all right.