Monday, April 30, 2012

Health Insurance

In the fall of 2009, I was denied health insurance from Blue Cross and Blue Shield. They told me I was in the obese category due to my height, weight and BMI, and therefore, they would not grant me coverage.

I was substitute teaching, which doesn’t provide benefits. I wear contacts/glasses, go to the dentist, doctor, etc. I needed health insurance. I was willing to pay a large amount per month to get it, and I was prepared to pay around $200 or $250 dollars per month. I filled out the online application, put in my height as 5’4”, my weight at 190 (was at the time) and listed everything medically that had ever been or was still wrong with me. Seemed pretty standard to me. I disclosed that I had my tonsils and adenoids out when I was 12, wisdom teeth out at 16, two benign lumps removed from my chest at 21 and listed any issues with vision, dental work, mental health and asthma. All of my medical “issues” seem pretty normal to me. No red flags here!

A couple weeks later, I received a letter in the mail. I sat down at the desk upstairs to read what I thought was going to be a letter welcoming me into the program and detailing the payments.

What I GOT was a rejection letter. The letter explained that due to my height and weight, they estimated by Body Mass Index (BMI) to be 31, which, to them meant obese. I probably read the letter five times I was so shocked. I didn’t even know they could deny health insurance to people. What if someone had cancer? Was pregnant? Needed medicine? Jesus, according to them, I was just a heffer, and, there are a lot worse things than that. What about all those other people?
I’m not sure who I called first, Mac or my parents or my sister. I don’t remember if I yelled or screamed or cried or threw something. I probably did all of those things though. Are you effing kidding me Blue Cross Blue Shield? You think I’m OBESE?! You think I’m too dangerous to insure? For the LOVE OF GOD. I have never, not even once, not even today considered myself obese. I reserve the word obese for someone who is like 600 pounds and has problems moving. Hello, I still move. A lot. I may be overweight, but obese?! Bitch, please.

How could someone deny me? I wanted to give them MONEY. I am not a risk! Again, I was/am overweight. Not fat. (Don’t like that word.) Not obese. I guess in my anger, I could have called them and complained. But I knew if I called them, I’d be crying on the phone to some person who didn’t really make the decision, all the while asking for their supervisor. I thought if I called, I may get personal with someone, asking what their BMI was, and if it was over 24, well HOT DAMN they’re lucky BCBS let them work there! And if I had gotten someone with a thick accent, I probably would have been a total biatch. Nothing worse than trying to get answers about a complicated issue (benefits, customer service, student loans, computers) from someone you can’t understand.

I didn’t apply for any other types of health insurance. I was too upset and so hurt. I did not ever want to see a rejection letter like that again. I’m actually still surprised it happened, to be honest. If I didn’t have health insurance now, I don’t know what I would do. Even though I truly believe in my heart that BCBS was wrong, I wouldn’t even want to read another letter that called me obese.

During that year, Mac and I were engaged. We consistently half-joked about going to the courthouse and getting married, just so I could share his benefits. We didn’t go to the courthouse, and fortunately, I didn’t have any huge medical issues. I am very lucky. I don’t know how I would have reacted if something had come up.

I don’t really have a point to that story, just that I am still shocked it happened. I’ve told a few other people, and their reactionary facial expressions justify my emotions. It is so comforting to have people agree with you, especially about a topic that hurts your feelings and/or angers you.

Soooooooooooo, now I joined Jenny Craig. Again. On their website, they have a BMI calculator. According to them, my BMI is 36.9. I am in the “very overweight” category. Alright, that’s fair. Yes, I am very overweight. My goal with them is to lose 50 pounds. Crazy thing, is that when I put in my goal weight (167), it still tells me I’m overweight. I mean, I guess I understand it. The thing is though, I know what I look like at different pounds. That’s why I think in terms of numbers. And at 167, I don’t think I’ll look that bad. I know that my face won’t get smaller until I hit 190, maybe a little less. (Mac thinks I’m crazy for thinking that. He told me my face looked thinner and I answered him with, “No, it won’t get thinner until I hit 190.”) I know that right now, I wear a size 16. About every 20 pounds, the size changes for me. I.e. at 200, I can squeeze into a 14. And of course you’re different sizes in different stores and different brands. Blah blah blah.

The almost-last thing I’m going to write about is how I wonder when I’ll feel good again. Like, not so much jiggle, less belly, smaller everything. Literally, feel better. I keep saying I felt good at my wedding, because I did. I hope that whenever I start to “feel good,” I keep up with proper eating habits, because feeling good may happen before my weight goal. And yes, clearly, I cannot lose 50 pounds by July 29th. If I do, someone call a doctor. But hopefully I’ll keep up with this for a little bit after my birthday as well. I want to feel so good that I won’t want to ruin it by eating out for dinner 4 times a week. I want to feel so good that I continue to weigh myself each day and maintain whatever weight I make it down to. I want to get back to believing the saying, “Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels.”

And to conclude, I’m sure we all know where I think Blue Cross Blue Shield should go. My mom calls this attitude “Jersey attitude.” My dad calls it getting your “Irish up.” Mac calls me the “Meganator” when I become a full blown maniac. Ashley applauds this type of behavior, because she spends half her life throwing fits and putting people in their places. ;) And while I’m no longer sad, it would be wise for a rep from BCBS to never come in contact with me. I will become an Irish-Jersey-Meganator. And it is not pretty.

p.s. In spite of this blog having a somewhat negative story, I want to put it on the record that after my first week of Jenny Craig, I weighed in at 5.6 pounds less. I'll take it! :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Joining a program

I’ve made an appointment with Jenny Craig. As dramatic as this may sound, I went through several emotional stages to get to this point.

The “no way Jose” stage:
I can do this weight loss thing on my own. I am smart. This will be easy! Just eat well and work out. I definitely don’t need a program to lose weight. I did before, but not anymore!

The “See I told you I could do it” stage:
I lost a few pounds. I worked out. I didn’t eat that badly. I journaled. So there. I proved it to myself.

The “I’m so confused why I’m not losing weight as I gobble m&ms” stage:
The scale goes up and down a few pounds. I still go to the gym, but am not really losing any weight. I feel strong, but because I’m doing such a good job at the gym, I reward myself, too much and too often.

The “angry” stage:
What the hell man. I’m working my butt off at the gym. This is ridiculous!

The “defeated” stage:
I should not have started such a public blog. I feel the urge to lie about my weight on my blog and then catch up behind it. (I have never lied about my weight on the blog.) I stop going to the gym. I lose energy and motivation. I am procrastinating, but I haven’t totally given up. Yes, I am aware 30 is right around the freaking corner.

The “ok, maybe I need help” stage:
Self-explanatory. I feel embarrassed and a little foolish. Programs work great, but why do I need one when I clearly know what is wrong and right? Why do I make bad choices?

The “curiosity” stage:
Research Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig. Maybe I should do a program. Look how well they work for everyone else, and quite frankly, it worked for me. At that time. The only reason I gained weight back is because I started ignoring everything I had learned and I stopped weighing myself.

The “I’m doing this come hell or high water” stage:
I decide to do Jenny Craig. It is ridiculously easy. Not thinking about meals or preparing things is kind of nice sometimes. I have a good history with Jenny Craig. I don’t think I’m strong enough to do Weight Watchers, where you can eat whatever you want. I think it’s an amazing program, but again, I don’t think I’m strong enough to have “anything I want” in the house. I know what you’re thinking. “Just don’t buy the bad stuff, Megan.” Well, you’re right. However, you haven’t experienced me in a grocery store. Sometimes I make noise out LOUD when I pass the Mint Milanos.

So this is where I am right now. I signed up for Jenny Craig. I have an appointment this afternoon at 4:00. It’s at the same center I went to before. I truly adored the consultants and while I got sick of some of the food, I got kind of excited seeing some of it again in an online menu. Some of their stuff is really good. I would buy it in a grocery store over Lean Cuisines any day. Some of their stuff is really bad.

I had to do a budget for this. I’m going to try to do it in under $300 per month. Their food is expensive. I think I’ll be buying lunch on my own though. I can make a good lunch for school. Tuna salad, chicken salad, sandwiches, regular salads. I can do that on my own and truthfully, their lunches are not that hot, in my opinion.

At the grocery store, the only groceries I will have to buy are lunch items, diet soda, veggies and fruit. That is not so bad. I will allow myself to go out to dinner once a week if something is planned. I’m not going to deprive myself. I know that sounds weird, but I truly feel like this is the best decision for me right now. I have realized that perhaps I am not strong enough to lose weight on my own. That thought really upset me in the beginning, but now… meh. Don’t care about the pride factor as much. Again, I lost weight before with this program, and I wasn’t even working out. Hopefully, I will be back to working out ANY DAY NOW, and that, combined with the program will do the trick.

I know it’s not a trick. I know there’s no secret to losing weight. I know that I won’t eat Jenny Craig for the rest of my life. I know I will have to work to maintain any weight I do lose.

I believe I can lose 10 pounds per month. That is about 2.5 pounds per week, and that is a healthy amount. I will probably be hungry in the beginning, but sometimes, when my stomach growls, I like to think it’s eating itself.  I also believe that if I had to be in the Hunger Games, I could survive for a little bit, because, I have some insulation. I am chubby Katniss. And, just like her, I support archery. (Side note, I am terrified of guns. Will never allow one in the house. Mac asked if we could have a taser. Hell to the no. I could see friends (including me) having a few drinks and deciding to try it out. However, I did tell Mac we could have a bow and arrow. That’s right. Then I told him, “You’re welcome.”)

I’m kind of glad I’m going back to something familiar. I feel like I know deep down that it will work. It’s like going back to your same vacation spot or watching your favorite movie. Amazing, every time. Ok, well maybe not amazing. But it’s reliable.

The bottom line is that if I am successful with Jenny Craig, I will be so happy. I will be healthier. I will be proud of myself, because program or no program, losing wieght is not easy, and whenever someone accomplishes a healthy weight loss, they should be congratulated.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


I'm a huge procrastinator. I can only think of a few things in my life I haven't waited until the last second to complete: my arranging project, my recitals and my technology portfolio. Those things were just too big to put off. I completed them while in college.

I often host with wet hair because I'm showering 10 minutes before people come over due to the fact that I spent the whole day cleaning.

I get up for school at the last possible minute. Partly because I'm so sleepy, and partly because I can get ready quickly when I have to.

I waited a long time to get my wedding dress. I looked for a long time as well. Mac and I only tasted and ordered our cake on the Tuesday before our wedding. :)

I'm procrastinating on this weight loss thing. Clearly. Hello, my blog says "thin by thirty." THIN?! Actually, people have different opinions of what thin is. I do still believe I can get there. I actually believe I can get there by my birthday. I actually believe that losing 40 pounds can still happen. I may be foolish, but it's what I believe.

Here's the thing. My arranging project, my recitals and my technology portfolio were far from perfect. I mean, I passed. I got pretty decent grades. But perfect? Nope. I am still proud of those accomplishments, and anyone who did them in college should be. They're HARD. They were so very hard.

Weight loss is also SO VERY HARD. I went to my parents in SC over spring break. I did ok in the beginning. I asked my mom very bluntly if she thought I was over-eating. She told me not at all. Sweet! :) By the end of spring break though, I think I had drunk three bottls of wine, eaten a bunch of cheesecake and started drinking a couple regular cokes. Let's call those things "treats." I also didn't work out.

I came back last week, and I still didn't work out. Suffice it to say I was exhausted. I'm a night person, so over breaks, I start staying up late and sleeping in. Combine that with trying to get back on track to a school schedule, and allergy season, and I was a mess. I took naps after school, had a couple nose bleeds, my eyes were bloodshot for a little bit and I had a headache that lasted days. Uch. Spring. I love and hate you.

So, now it's Thursday night, and if I want to work out three (not even four) times this week, I have to go to the gym tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday. No qualms about it. I keep saying I have to eat better, work out, cut back, be disciplined. I mean all those things. Why am I not delivering?

I'm procrastinating, I guess. And I'm STUBBORN.

I totally believe weight loss programs can work. Jenny Craig worked for me in that I lost weight, without even working out. I learned lots of things. However, I'm being really stubborn right now and telling myself I can do this without the help of a program. I want to make decisions that I can keep up with in a year, five years and ten years. I want to literally change my diet. And by diet, I mean food I eat. No more overeating. Treats, sure. Not too many treats. Gym, definitely. I felt so good when I was working out. I want this to be a lifestyle change.

Last week I was pretty negative. Dare I say, unpleasant. I was tired and cranky. Guess what? No gym either. Funny how that works out.

I am also dealing with two major stresses right now. One is a work thing. My job is not totally secure. That makes me really scared. I'm procrastinating in talking to my bosses about my fears. The other is this blog thing. I go from feeling confident to foolish to guilty to strong to insecure to apathetic to embarassed to right now. Hopeful.

All of these stresses take a toll on my body. (Really, who doesn't have stress take a toll on their body?) I don't break out. I don't lose weight. I get ulcers in my mouth. My tongue swells (ew), and I have trouble eating and speaking correctly. I also eat for comfort. Um. Hmm. Not good Megan.

I may not want the help of a program, but oddly enough, writing this post has already made me feel better. I guess that's why I started, and it's good to remind myself. I may also go back to journaling, because I think at this point, it's important for me to see what I'm eating in a day.

Sorry if any of this seems needy. Again, thank you to anyone who read this long post. I know other people out there feel the same way.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The scale.

Should fitting into clothes that you wore a year ago be considered a victory? Absofreakinglutely.

Tonight, I tried on a bunch of shorts, skirts and capris from the past couple years. Even though I’m trying to lose weight, I’m really grateful that they fit. It is a huge sense of relief to me that I can still button everything, and it has been ok’d by another person (Mac). Do you get excited when you pull out something you haven’t worn in a while and it still fits, or even better, if it’s loose? I do. And yes, if something doesn’t fit, I get frustrated. I’ll admit to having several items of clothing in my closet that I’d like to fit back into. All in due time. Hopefully.

I’ve been thinking about the scale lately. If the scale and I were in a relationship, we’d need serious counseling. I feel like it lets me down, pumps me up, deceives me, lies to me, and changes on me with its passive-aggressive self. Truthfully though, it’s me. And that’s ok. At this point, I probably should be lower on the scale. But I've been enjoying food and/or drinks too much. I'm not down on myself, I'm just telling it like it is. If I want to lose weight faster, I'm going to have to change some things.

A lot of people don’t even own, or use scales. They judge their health by how they feel, how they look or how their clothes fit. That is perfectly fine. Me, I need the number. I need to see progress, because if it’s day 2 of wearing jeans, well you know I feel good. If it’s day 1 and they’re fresh-out-of-the-dryer, you know I’m doing squats in the bedroom before going out. I need the number. If it has gone up, I need to see that and reel myself in a little bit. Call me crazy, but if the scale says I’m 2 pounds lighter, I’ll usually feel 2 pounds lighter. I also double-check with the scale at the gym. Sometimes I weigh myself at night, just to see how much weight I can lose as I sleep. That is so weird, I know.

I also like the scale, because I equate the number with what I look like and how I feel. When I weighed 160, I was a size ten, and I felt good. By the end of July (bday time), I'd LOVE to be 170. I'll be really happy with myself if I get lower than 190. These numbers are completely DOABLE, if I truly put my mind to it. I bet some people think anything over 120 seems big, but just to give you an idea, when I was in college, I sometimes wore a size 6, and I weighed 140. Never felt like that was a large number. It's the height thing, I guess it plays in.

I won’t lie, this week has been tough. Spring break started(WOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOO) and I love to celebrate anything, so this = major celebration. And no, sadly, I don’t celebrate by going on the elliptical. I crack open a beer. I will say that up until the past few days, I’ve felt a decent change in my overall attitude. I’ve been somewhat perkier, a little happier and generally, more pleasant. I guess you could say I’m happier with myself. The past few days are an exception to how this month has been, and the past few days have been a little rough. I’m extremely anxious about a bunch of things, work, taxes, money, weight loss, but I’m going to focus this blog on the last month. Because these few days of anxiety are nothing compared to the goodness I’ve felt most of March.

I’m happy I’ve worked so much at the gym. I’m happy the elliptical is now at a level 8 for me, and the bike is at a level 6. I started at 7 and 4, respectively. I’m happy that my legs feel stronger, and sometimes they’re tired. I’m happy that my belly feels smaller. I’m REALLY happy with my new haircut. (Nothing to do with weightloss, but man, a good haircut can do wonders.)

I realize that the bike is not easy, just because you’re sitting down. I truly thought it would be easy the first time I got on it. I was wrong, oh SO wrong.
I realize that the harder I work out, the happier I am. I realize that when I shortened my stretching post-work out, I lost some flexibility. I realize that I can no longer go out in public after the gym, because the kind of sweating I do is almost similar to that of an animal. I realize that stretching after working out is SO important. I realize that I am a seasonal eater, and I should go with that. For example, I love tomato, mozzarella and basil with balsamic vinaigrette, so I’ve been eating a lot of that, and will probably start to eat more salads since it’s getting warmer out. I don’t like eating cold things when it’s cold out, and I don’t like eating hot things when it’s hot out. I realize that if I have something in the house, I’ll eat it. Allow me to share a defensive example:

• Last Friday, I was in a baking mood.
• I had all the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies.
• I LOVE chocolate chip cookies.
• If I make them, I’ll eat them. It’s just that simple.
• I had all the ingredients for banana bread.
• I’d never made banana bread.
• I don’t like banana bread.
• I made banana bread. 2 loaves.
• Halfway through the baking, I realized I could have included chocolate chips, and threw some in on TOP of one of the loaves.
• That just ended up looking silly at the end.
• I realized it was good I hadn’t started with the chocolate chips in the banana bread, because I would have fought my way through the banana bread to get to the chocolate.
• I took one loaf to Ilana, Jason and their new baby, Felicity.
• Mac ate the other.
• Overall, success.

One last thought. I’ve considered doing a weekly picture for myself, but posting a monthly one on the blog. A visual progression. I’ve heard pros and cons on doing this. Thoughts? Cares? Concerns? If you've tried this, has it worked for you?