Kathy Diamond Davis

Name:
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States

Author of the book "Therapy Dogs: Training Your Dog to Reach Others," 2nd edition published by Dogwise Publishing. Canine Behavior Series at www.veterinarybehavior.com

Sunday, May 29, 2005

My Weight-Loss Story

I wrote this for another purpose today, and wanted to share it here, too:

If I was ever an addicted eater (other than wanting more sugar whenever I had any!--which is basically physiological when you're diabetic), God had dealt with that over the years. My problem was metabolic and autoimmune, and I was really trapped in the weight. Whenever I tried to lose by cutting calories, the rheumatoid arthritis would go berserk, accompanied by the severe respiratory allergies getting dramatically worse--and I would get an infection. The stuff I was catching had become quite serious, including a gum infection and two tooth infections that got very complicated. As a result of those I'd lost about 30 pounds and there were foods I couldn't eat. That 30 pounds is on TOP of the 181 pounds I lost on Atkins, so I'm more than 200 pounds below my high weight, and holding steady for a year and a half now.

But when God answered my prayer to lose weight (in his time--I guess when I was really ready) by showing me the Atkins plan, I realized these were foods my mouth could handle. No sugar was something I had tried at one point before, but at that time I had not known about the other carbs that do the same thing sugar does (white flour, potatoes, corn, honey, high-sugar fruits, etc.). Basically, when God gave me the plan, I simply said "Yes," and surrendered. And kept surrendering, all the way. And STILL. Because I have to stay alert to the "My" foods that try to sneak in and cause trouble, and be willing to give up ANY food that God shows me is not for me. I weigh every day, and just stay straight about it.

I learned so much and am still learning. I had been an avid crafter while heavy. Now, not as much. That just shifted in my brain. When I was young I had been an avid fiction reader, but during the years of gaining weight I wasn't. Right after I started losing, I started reading fiction again, craving it! I found a quote in Zig Ziglar's "Success for Dummies" (super book) from an expert on drug addiction that reading an exciting book stimulates the same brain areas as drugs and such. You know the quote "Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker"? Well, I do think that sugar, alcohol and some other things are all going into the same place. Fiction is a much better way to go there!

I have always sought out positive reading, and of course did that to help through the weight loss, too. One book that inspired me--and I think next to the Bible this may just be the best book ever written--was the AA Big Book. I was also blown away by the traditions of AA. It is like no other organization I ever heard of. I remembered hearing about an organization like AA, for overeating. So I sought out Overeaters Anonymous. By this time I had lost 119 pounds, and looked normal. The emotional stuff that goes with this change in your body image after 20 years is unbelievable. Unlike an addiction to alcohol or drugs or cigarettes, addicted eaters have to WEAR it, for all to see. I thought I was a compulsive overeater. So I went to OA. God is there, wow. AA and the other 12 step programs are his workshops! Such love, such acceptance, such support. OA really supported me through the huge emotional steps of accepting myself as "normal" and dealing with the changes in how other people perceived me. I just sailed through all that, thanks to the people God brought into my life through OA.

After 10 months in OA, it had become clear to me that I'm not actually an addicted eater, not mentally addicted, anyway. If that makes any sense. My food cravings are sheerly physical and are easily managed by diet. I do find the amino acid L-glutamine helps, but it's not a drug, just an amino acid found in chicken. I didn't even buy any until I'd lost all the weight. The L-glutamine makes a safety net for me against cravings, plus it's a very healthy nutrient in other ways. I probably always needed it.

The real danger time (believe it or not!) is in maintenance, because you have to stop the weight loss but not gain. That is soooooo hard! You have to experiment with foods to learn what you can handle and what you cannot. It is just too dangerous to do what the majority of people--including me in the past--try to do in maintenance, which is "blow the diet," alternating with dieting off the weight gains. Atkins will NOT work that way. No plan works well that way, but you could make yourself really sick doing it on Atkins.

I had to leave OA when I realized I'm not a compulsive overeater, because at that point I had gone as far as I could there. I can't sponsor someone, because I'm not a compulsive overeater myself! And it began to feel like eavesdropping, hearing about problems that just don't apply to me. I worked through the 12 steps, including the moral inventory and sharing it with a sponsor, and there were no surprises. Realizing I need to give control of my life to a higher power? Not a problem. Helping others--the 12 Steps are basically the Christian life. The angels must sing every time there is a 12-step meeting!

I learned so much about addicted eaters in OA that I really needed to know as a "role model" who has lost so much weight. Lots of people are trapped by weight these days, due to the American diet, bad information, health issues, lifestyles, and certainly in many cases food addictions. There is no one reason. One thing I am determined not to be is one of those people who has been delivered from a problem and becomes hypercritical of those who have the problem. Not a good idea for someone to ridicule a fat person around me. I have a menopausal mouth!

God gave us menopause for a reason! Menopause has been physically rough on me because estrogen is a powerful anti-inflammatory. My autoimmune ailments are inflammatory. Remove the estrogen, and oh my. It has been one not-so-pleasant surprise after another, and I would have been in serious trouble carrying more than twice this weight. I CAN'T carry that weight. If I were to go back to the way I used to eat, it would come back fast, and probably kill me. I am committed to keeping the weight off--and it has NOTHING to do with appearance whatsoever for me. It's about moving and breathing and continuing to work as a writer and to help people with their dog problems! (I love my work.)

The mental effects of menopause are NEAT, though. There's creativity, and all sorts of newness. I feel like a young old person--getting things all ready for a new stage of life. A natural menopause is a good thing. Physically I figure it's better for my body to go on and make the adjustment to the lower estrogen level--it's my understanding that it takes about 3 years, and I'm 1-2 years into it--than to take hormones and put it off until I'm older and might have even more health issues.

God helps those who humble themselves and accept his help. It's like someone clinging to a handhold that's the only thing keeping them from falling to their death off a cliff, and God's hand is out offering rescue. He won't snatch them up against their will. If they so much as let go to reach toward his hand, he will deliver them. I think sometimes people know that, and they think they'll wait and try it on their own first. Meanwhile, their situation continues to deteriorate while they mess around--life getting out of control from addictions as one example. Time wasted. Opportunities missed.

But then again, who knows what trouble I might have been getting into if I'd stayed slim when I was young? I gained 100 pounds on birth control pills in 3 years in my 20s, got off them and dieted that weight off. The male attention was not a healthy thing for me. This time that did not happen. I have a great marriage and no interest in other men. My body language says that. Plus I think they are more interested in my assistance dog than in my body!

God is so good!
God bless you,
Kathy

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Good Dreams

I've been sick with a virus, ugh, and still in pain with the shoulder and hands. I've continued to work with Believer maybe 5 minutes a day on the dishes nest-and-pick up, and she's got it. Now I'd like to add more dishes and eventually get her flipping them over from upside down, but we'll just keep taking it slowly. I'm so proud of her.

I had a vivid dream last night that my Miniature American Eskimo Dog, Angel, was alive again. She died in 1993. She was a brilliant dog, a wonderful friend, and a super therapy dog, 15 1/2 pounds of love. I know what the dream means. Just have to decide if it's only about what I want, or what I need.

I have been unwilling to get another little Eskie during Spirit's lifetime, because she would treat her very badly and I won't let that happen. But Spirit turned 12 in March. I got Spirit 3 days after Angel died. I'm glad Angel came to see me in my sleep. She is always welcome. The rescue site for the breed is called Heart Bandits. Very aptly. She certainly stole mine. That's okay. Heaven is a good place for my heart to be.

Eskies bark, so it would be noisier around here. Believer and Gabriel and any future male Terv I get would surely be good to an Eskie and would enjoy her. I just need a good temperament and good health. Conformation is not important. But, I don't know, we'll see if it's meant to be or not. I DO have the ramp now...

I haven't work further on picking up coins with Beevy, but she picked up a macademia nut off the floor to eat the other day and gave it to me on command. Whew, those are toxic to dogs. Probably not just one, but I'd rather not take chances.

Good dreams to all.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Believer Going Strong

Today when I took Beevy into the garage and slid out three dishes, I had her "Hold It," "Put It In" and she didn't puzzle over which to put into the other, and go back and forth like she's been doing. She held to the one(s) in her mouth and concentrated on figuring out how to get them into the one on the floor and then pick up the lot. It went fast, and she was much more confident. I'm interested to see what tomorrow will be like.

First thing this morning I was in the garage where I hang clothes to dry, putting on a clean shirt over an extremely sore and stiff shoulder. I took my glasses off to reduce that problem as it went over my head. But managed to drop them on the floor in handling the fresh shirt. I can't see worth squat, and didn't want to risk stepping on them by moving around. Beevy in the living room heard the soft sound of them hitting the floor (the lenses are plastic, frames are metal, and I paid a lot extra to get them thin and light for such a strong prescription) and shot through the door to help. I reminded her to be easy with them, and she was very careful.

Amazing that the sore shoulder finally let me sleep--a solid 12 hours. I don't think I've had more than one night of even 8 hours in a month. Good thing hubby was here to let the dogs out. The shoulder (tendon is inflamed) was so bad this morning I improvised a sling to go out to breakfast, and had to use the cane with the other hand. But it loosened up some through the day. It's not injured, but is inflamed from rheumatoid arthritis and can be better very quickly when it makes up its mind! It's being made more difficult by being the right arm--I'm right-handed--and the big joint connecting my thumb to the right hand is also badly inflamed. Inflamed like this, the joints are vulnerable to injury, so I have to be careful. The pain reminds me.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Adventures in Dish-Stacking (Believer)

The last few days I've been going with a sidetrack from the coin retrieval (still don't have my nickel back, about 10 days now), because Believer and I got interested in the task of stacking and carrying stainless steel dog dishes.

Believer finds stacking them a little confusing, which I can understand since I have the same problem with putting my hair into a bun. It's not a habit yet, and I haven't figured out a way to verbalize for myself, so I sort of fiddle with it until I get it. I see her going through the same process.

The last 2-3 sessions, I've gone into the garage with her, away from Spirit. I set out three dishes a few feet apart, and direct her in a quiet voice to get them. I want her to keep trying, but be able to think and not feel too much pressure. If she starts to give up, I gently touch her side with a couple of fingers and urge her on.

She'll pick up one, walk to another, and then have trouble figuring out how to get one into the other. She may set down the one she's holding and pick up the other to set into it. She may do that twice. She's working through it.

I help her by pointing into the dish on the floor when she's holding one or two others (yes, once we get two in her mouth, she'll walk to the third and keep working it) and saying "Put It In." This is not a cue I've taught her before, and I'm excited about adding it to our language. It could contribute to the coin task, too, if I decide to have her "spit" the coin into the shopping bag or a purse instead of my butterfingers hand. With the cane in one hand, I've only got one hand to catch that cotton-pickin' coin. Considering my sore hands, those are not good odds. Typically the dog has to pick up the coin twice to get it to me once, because I drop it the first time.

There's nothing like mastering a new task together to make your heart swell with love for your dog. She continues to step up more and faster, to grab a shoe I kick off and hand it to me and the other one, to pull off my socks, and to respond quickly to my cues to get it or leave it (I don't want her picking up broken glass, dropped pills, etc.). The communication gets more and more subtle.

I didn't expect to be having such a pain crisis at this point. Rheumatoid arthritis is sneaky. I had it under good control, cut back my medication too much, and man oh man. At the moment I can't sleep enough. The pain wakes me up and just won't let me go back to sleep. It also drags at me through the day, making a lot of things harder to get through.

The good part, though, is that it's increasing my focus on training my assistance dog. And if I'm hurting and I'm more abrupt about directing her than usual, well, turns out that's not a bad thing. She reads my moods very well and doesn't feel less important to me just because I'm cranky. In fact, I think it tells her the truth that I need her more.

I'm blessed to have work I love. I think Believer would say the same thing about herself.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Adventures with Believer, and More

Believer and I are getting closer and closer, and I'm thrilled with her work. She's learning to nest the stainless steel dog dishes and carry them. In the process it gives me a chance to develop language with her for putting something down into something else. It seems like everything I do with her now opens up other doors.

I'm reading "The Drowning Tree," by Carol Goodman. It's as enjoyable as the first book of hers I read, and I have her "The Seduction of Water" here, too. I read reviews and voted on upcoming books for the Murder and Mayhem list today.

And on DogRead next month we're doing "Sighthounds Afield," a chance to delve into the delights of the sighthound breeds and their lure coursing events. I'm planning to do one of my Canine Behavior Series articles on the sport of lure coursing, so I'm pleased to have a chance to understand it more thoroughly.

There's a free book conference in the area on Saturday with a lot of writers and other professionals coming, and I'm going to try to go. Hubby is taking a few days off, so he could drive Beevy and me over, and when I'm ready to leave I could call him on my cell phone.

Tonight I tested my cell phone by calling the house from the car (I was a passenger, not the driver). When I got home, the machine showed some other person's name. I called Virgin Mobile and they said they could fix it by changing my number. I've only had the number about 23 days and have not had it published anywhere, so that was fine. The new one is very easy to remember, a bonus.

I only used one minute of time (25 cents) to make that test call, and another minute later to call again and see how it showed up on the Caller ID. Pretty cool how easily they changed the number for me on that one phone call. I hope they morph into a good unlimited plan later, because I'd love to stay with them.

I bought some new shirts, including the first pink shirt I've had in a lot of years! And two white shirts that look great with black or navy slacks. Today I went back and got some white shirts to wear under some of my lighter ones.

I'm also going to be reading "Women in Therapy," by Harriet Lerner, so I can discuss it with a friend who's getting a lot out of it. I'm so interested in how the brain works--dog and human. And the spirit.

I have a movie playing on the VCR, "Breaking All the Rules," with Jamie Fox and some other good actors. He's very good in this, and it's a smart script, too.

I just wish there were more hours in the day!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Obsessed

Last night I skimmed through Ted Dekker's novel "Obsessed." The suspense was too much for me, so I read it rapidly for plot. I've been having trouble sleeping because of arthritis pain, and unfortunately last night was no better. I got up to go to the bathroom still needing two or three more hours of sleep, and heard someone talking immediately outside the window. By the time I could look at, he was gone. That, plus letting the dogs out to potty plus the pain made it impossible for me to get back to sleep. Tonight I'm drinking chamomile tea and hoping it will help. I'm going to read more in Michael Crichton's State of Fear while pedaling, before washing my hair.

I watched a movie and skimmed two more while combing dogs and doing their nails. Spirit was pretty cooperative, though I didn't push my luck by trying to get her nails too neat.

Little Caesar's pizza won't make my pizza to order anymore. I'm disappointed. Big companies: phooie.