Monthly Archives: March 2017

From 18 to 48

18to48

From my senior high school prom to my last trip to New Orleans, here I am! While I’d love to have part of my eighteen year old body, I’m a happy forty-eight year old today, much in part to my weight loss journey at Down the Scale!

Today, my senior high school prom date, J.,  sent me a photo from that night.  Wow, how have eighteen years passed by this quickly?  It’s always fun to see photos from the past, but this one was a good reminder my current success in my weight loss journey.  My face and body have been bigger at times during the thirty years in between photos, but I think I still can see my old self in my current photo.  Many of my pictures from, especially when I was in my thirties show a much heavier person…both in body and spirit.

While I wish I had the wrinkle free face and perkier breasts of the eighteen year old Jen, I am  happy with who I am now.  Sure, I’m always working to better myself, but I am  proud of where I’ve been and where I’m going.  Life is always changing and I am happy to change along with it, especially as I go Down the Scale…

 

Prom 1987

And here’s the whole photo from my senior prom! Thirty years pass by quicker than you imagine…

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Training My Body and Mind…

Working Out TRX

Here I am learning to trust my body and mind using the TRX bands! Working with a personal trainer is keeping me going on my weight loss journey!

“You’re not going to drop yourself. Just lean back.”

These were the words my trainer, H., said to me casually as we used the TRX bands for the first time. For those asking what in the world are TRX bands, they are straps attached to a wall or pole used for different exercises. H. wanted me to grasp the straps with my arms extended, then walk my feet under and then lower my body backwards. Next all I needed to do was pull myself up and down. Easy right? Just let my body lean back while I depend on my upper body and core muscles to hold my body weight.

I’m not saying this is an impossible exercise, but it was more about my trust issues with my body than the ease of the task. Even though it’s been almost four years since my gastric sleeve surgery, from time to time I still think of myself as being the overweight woman who can’t do anything athletic. While I’ve been running even before my surgery and I do call myself a runner, my head and heart sometimes have a hard time believing I can perform certain exercises. Working with my trainer is proving to me that I can do more than I think I can.

I initially contacted H. for personal training so I can be a better runner. It turns out what I really need was to develop my over all strength, especially my core muscles. From what I gather, everything originates from your core muscles. After my two c-sections and my constant weight gain/loss cycles, I hadn’t thought much about my midsection. Once I lost the weight and then couldn’t run because of my hernia, I did start to have an inkling that I needed to take care of my abdomen.

So here I am, two years later, thinking about my core muscles again. While I don’t have the extra three and a half pounds of skin hanging down from my stomach and my muscles were surgically tightened, I still don’t trust myself all the time. My body is in the best shape of my adult life, but I don’t always think I can do things. One of the greatest benefits of working with a trainer one on one is that you discover you can do things. There is no hiding out in the back of a group class! H. is there to teach me, guide me, and push me. And even though she must be half my age, she does it in such a positive, but no-nonsense way that I always want to try whatever exercise she is teaching me. Yes, I’m paying her, but I’m happy to let her be in charge. Even when I want to give up, I know she has my best interest at heart. And she won’t let me die, I’m sure!

One of the important lessons I’ve learned so far is about “muscle memory.” H. watched me run during our first session and commented that my form was good, so we need to work on muscle memory among other things. I needed to get my body used to working harder for longer periods of time. My muscles needed to learn what it was like to work harder so I can improve my pace and distance. While I know this is true about my body, it made me think that my head also needs this “muscle memory.”

What I mean by this is that for me exercising is not just about improving my muscles and overall strength, but also about improving my mindset. If my brain doesn’t believe I can run faster or lift weights, my body isn’t going to either. While I’m working on building muscle memory, just as importantly, I’m developing a new mindset. Yes, I can run faster. Yes, I can hold a plank longer. Yes, I can hold myself up on TRX bands and do rows!

My personal training sessions are another reminder that my weight loss journey is not just about my body, but my brain. I need to eat heathy, exercise and maintain a positive outlook in order to be in the best shape physically. While my training sessions are improving my body, they also help improve my confidence. I’m looking forward to more muscle memory for my body and mind as I keep going Down the Scale…

Not Just a Month, But a Lifetime

Jen Week 1 Elimination Diet

Here I am, finishing up week one of my elimination diet! I feel strong and healthy! New foods and more exercise are always part of my continuing gastric sleeve journey!

“Not Just a Month, but a Lifetime”

By that statement you might think I mean that my elimination diet feels like it’s lasting forever. In some way it does feel that way as I’m missing the convenience and flexibility of eating foods with wheat, sugar, dairy, and almonds. What I’ve really come to realize is the I need to think of this diet as a lifetime change. By that, I hope to keep many of the healthy changes I’ve made so far this week. Some of them include:

*I’m focusing on eating protein first. When I first started eating non-liquid foods after my gastric sleeve surgery, I always ate my protein first followed by vegetables. Now that wheat is off my list, I am making protein my first choice in my meal. Not only is this helping me by giving me more energy, I’m sure my iron levels will show an increase on my next blood test.

*There are less preservatives, sugar, and sodium in my diet. By taking the time to read food labels, I’m now aware of what really goes into food. Well, if I could understand what some of the words included in the food are, I would know if there were good or bad. If an ingredient has more than four syllables, my guess is it isn’t good for you. I could be wrong, but I’ve decided this month to buy foods in which I actually know what the ingredients mean. There is one exception but I’ll talk about that later.

*I’m not frantically trying to figure out what I’m going to cook for each meal. I wish I was one of those people who meal plan and cook on a Sunday, but I’m not. With my kids and husband’s ever-changing schedules, I don’t always know when and who will be home for dinner. So, each morning I decide what to make for dinner based on what I know that morning. Tuesday is always Taco Tuesday thanks to the Lego Movie, but every other day, the meals change. Fortunately, I have a number of dishes that I can draw from based on the amount of time I can cook that day. My Pinterest board is filling up with more healthy recipes.

*I have more energy…finally! After wondering why I was so tired for so long, I finally feel energetic for most of the day! Instead of trying to keep my eyes open past 9 PM, I can make it until 10 PM. OK, so that makes me still sound old, but some days you just enjoy these small victories. I’m sure the new vitamins and iron supplements I’m taking are part of the reason I feel better, but I know eating better is a big part as well.

*I can exercise more! With better fuel and vitamins in my body, I am able to workout longer and better. Now, I’m sure working out with my trainer twice a week is a large part of my increased athleticism. Having a professional guide you, motivate you and push you is well worth the cost and time, in my opinion.  And by my increased interest and commitment to working out, this is a new way of living that I plan to keep!

With all these great changes, what in the world would I not want to keep from this elimination diet? Here you go:

*First, I would say coffee, but as I mentioned in my post about day one, I decided not to give it up. I tried for the first few days to drink it with cashew milk and stevia, but it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t particularly good either. So I broke down and went back to my non-daily sugar-free creamer. Yes, the one with words that are too long. Honestly, if this is my only vice in life, I’m good with it. Eventually, I’m willing to try other sugar alternatives, but for now this creamer makes me happy. Silly, I know, but right now this is my biggest vice, so I’m OK with it.

*All right, I’ll be honest and say that sugar-free non-dairy creamer is probably not my biggest vice. My love of Starbucks would be my worst vice. Now, if I was buying pastries or bagels along with my espresso, that would be really bad, especially when I know how great I currently feel without large doses of fat, sugar and wheat in my diet. I broke down on day three of the elimination diet and drank a tall soy latte. The only reason this drink breaks the rules of my diet is that Starbuck’s uses vanilla soy which has cane sugar in it. This is my big treat about three days a week. Yes, it might seem ridiculous, but I really enjoy lattes.  I really love grabbing one while I’m out running errands or drinking one while I write outside my home. Yes, I know they make regular coffee, but I don’t particularly care for it. I want my latte and I’m going to keep getting it..no pastries or bagels, though.

*I can’t wait to eat at a restaurant again! As a family, we only eat out once a week, but it’s a nice break from cooking for me and it gives us a chance to focus on our time as a family without home distractions. I’m sure I could eat out, but honestly I believe it will be a pain to frantically search the menu for food without dairy, sugar, wheats or almonds. Choosing better dishes that are protein and vegetable centric will be my new goal when we return to dining out.

Now, some of you might question why I couldn’t give up a few things like coffee, creamer, and Starbucks for just a month. True, in the scheme of life it’s not that long to remove these foods from my diet. But it was making me cranky, irritated, and I was focusing on what I couldn’t have instead of the what I could eat. I actually have a wide range of foods I can eat and I’m discovering new foods like sunflower butter and paleo-style meatloaf that I love. I have decided that I need to concentrate on what I can do easily and forever, not just for a month. I keep going back to the thought that I’m working on a lifestyle change, not just a month change. Just like I realized that going Down the Scale wasn’t a “before/after situation” but a continuous journey, this elimination diet is helping me focus on a healthy lifestyle permanently!

Is it Over Yet? Day 1 of the Elimination Diet

IMG_5658

Here I am making a new recipe, dairy-free asparagus soup! My gastric sleeve journey continues as I strive to be the healthiest person I can be!

So I survived Day 1 of my elimination diet! Only 29 more days to go…oh my! As I wrote in my last blog post, “Standing Tall”,  dairy, wheat, cane sugar and almonds are no longer a part of my meals for the next month. The food sensitivity chart marked these foods as ones I should avoid. Yes, coffee was on the list, but for my sanity I’m not giving it. A woman can only handle so much in one month!

So, how was the first day? At times, it was ugly and other times it was just fine. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

*Cane sugar is in everything! My beloved bacon is full of it and of course, all the flavored dairy substitutes have it. I must have shopped twice as long at the grocery store yesterday to find items that didn’t have it.

*Almonds are in everything, too. I was excited to find cashew butter and milk, but the first brands I looked at also had almonds. Again, it took a lot of label reading to find items without it.

*Yes, you crave certain foods when you can’t have it. The sugar-free chocolate pudding is taunting me from the back of the refrigerator. I forgot it was even there until yesterday. Is it that good? Not really, but when you plan to take certain foods out of your diet, you think they’re the best food ever. My guess is the apple I ate instead last night was just as good as the pudding.

*There are tons of resources to help including doctors, nutritionists, family, and friends. Naturally, I’ve been on the web researching new recipes and food alternatives, but the best resources are actual human beings! My new doctor and nutritionist took the time to answer all my questions and gave me the tools to set up this month-long diet. I am extremely fortunate to have a sister who is well versed personally and professionally in healthy eating. The information she shares, but more importantly, her encouragement and support make the world of difference to me. My friend, N., texted me throughout the day to check in on me which helped tremendously! My biggest cheerleaders are my ever-supportive husband and children. They always back me up no matter what I need to do, but I think they were more relieved than me when I decided to keep coffee in my life!

*Cooking from scratch will be my saving grace. After spending over an hour grocery shopping yesterday, I concluded it would be easier to do as much cooking as I can. So many repackaged foods are full of sugar and sodium, that I fear I won’t really learn much about my body if I eat them this month. So yesterday, I picked up ingredients to make my own meals like meatloaf, sausage patties and soup. And don’t mind me when I tell you my first soup, was great! While this does mean more meal planning, shopping, and cooking for me, I think it is well worth it to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

*Exercising is the same so far. Day 1 of the elimination diet was also another hour-long training session. How was I going to lift weights and run on such little food…OK, how would I workout without having had my coffee and sugar-free creamer? Umm…just fine! My session was tough, which is normal as I have a great trainer, but I didn’t feel any different having had my coffee with cashew milk and stevia. My breakfast of bacon, kale and brussels sprouts was plenty of energy to get me through the morning.

*I feel like I’m back at the beginning of my gastric sleeve surgery and that’s not a bad thing. Once you’re done with the liquid stage of post-surgery, you get to eat food with the emphasis on protein. Because of my low iron levels, I’m really concentrating on protein. And since I’m eliminating wheat, I’m focusing on more vegetables. By resetting my diet I hope it will help with weight loss in addition to finding out what foods my body truly needs.

I fully admit I was whiney when the day began and I’m sure I’m going to feel deprived and frustrated as the month goes on. When I really stop and think about how I’m feeling physically and mentally I know that it’s really not that bad. I plan to stay focused and positive. Change is always hard, but I find that it’s always worth it. I look forward to feeling better and continuing to go Down the Scale…