Category Archives: Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Being Consistent in an Inconsistent World Or Live Like a Squirrel

Jen 4 24 2018

Here I am smiling during my walk even though I had planned to run. My weight loss journey always reminds me that adjustments need to be made along they way.

This morning I watched a squirrel frantically spin around in one place in front of one of the big trees he normally climbs. He flipped and flopped back and forth and dug into the dirt. My son joined me at the window to watch the squirrel and asked, “What is he doing?”

I shrugged my shoulders and said, “I have no clue, but he seems to know what he’s doing.”

And with that statement, the squirrel was joined by another and off they went to chase each other up the tree. My son and I went back to our morning routines, but I thought about that squirrel all morning. I am an avid animal watcher in my yard as we have deers and birds in addition to the squirrels. As a city dweller for most of my life, I am utterly in love with peeking into the animal world.

What I have gathered in my time here is that these animals are pretty consistent. Today’s spinning act was unusual, but normally the squirrels have a regular routine. They run around the yard and up trees. They try to climb the bird feeders and sometimes succeed. They hide their food and uncover it when needed. And when they act unusual as they did today, they seem to know what they’re doing. They’re confidant little animals for sure.

I pondered the actions of my furry neighbors while I also thought about my own actions these days. I’m trying to be consistent with my physical and mental health, but it’s not going too well. I feel like that spinning squirrel without the confidence that my actions are for a purpose. Many things are out of my control these days and I’ve forgotten one of my mantras: “You can’t always control what’s going on around you, but you can control how you react.”

So instead of putting aside my stress and worries, I’m letting them rule my head and body. I have a twitchy right eye that won’t go away. It likes to pop up when I’m stressed and I’m not getting enough sleep. Both are happening right now; sleep is as evasive as Bigfoot is here in the PNW.

Instead of being happy with my half-marathon training, I downplayed my eight mile training run as too slow. And then today as I scrambled to get everyone ready for the day, I felt sharp pains in my abdomen. I get these now and then, but the pains heightened my stress levels as I worried I’m getting another abdominal hernia like I had years ago. I took some pain reliever and headed out to my running spot even though I wasn’t feeling good.

As I got out of the car with my twitching eye and worrisome muscles I stopped for a minute. OK, I can’t control the pain, but I could control the stress. Running would only bother me and I knew any slight twinge would make me think I was headed to the hospital. So finally, I decided to remember that I could control one thing: how I treated my body. So instead of running I walked instead.

Yes, the first five minutes I felt inadequate. If I’m not consistently running as my training program says to do, how am I going to do my half-marathon in July? Yes, I figuratively slapped myself finally. If I’m not taking care of myself in the present, there won’t be a future. If I don’t listen to my body now and give time to heal, I won’t be running in July.

Being consistent in this case means taking care of myself. Consistence isn’t following a training program to the “t” always. When life isn’t going your way, adjust.

So I adjusted today. I took a steady walk along the beautiful waterfront. My body was aching to run while listening to my running playlist, but after running for 30 seconds, I knew today needed to be a walk. I took to heart what my body was telling me and instead took a consistently mind-clearing and soul-soothing 40 minute walk.

Today was a good reminder, to listen to my head and body. Don’t let stress rule my life. Stuffing food in my stomach doesn’t plug up the stress and anxiety. I know it actually causes even more. Being consistent with my eating habits is even more important in times of stress. And don’t stop moving! Even when I can’t run, I can still walk. Keep moving forward, literally and figuratively needs to be tattooed on my forehead.

While I may be like my crazy spinning squirrel sometimes, I also need to be like the consistent and confidant squirrel. After the craziness is over, it’s time to get back to work, well, get back to life. Through upheavals and the unknown, life goes on and it’s pretty good if I just remind myself. I plan to continue to work on being consistent in an inconsistent world and keep going Down the Scale.

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Middle Age: Embrace It

Jenatalmost49

As my 49th birthday looms, I am proud to say I embrace each birthday! My weight loss journey has shown me who I can be and being a happy “middle-aged” woman is who I am! I’m thankful to be a mom, wife, runner, and writer as I continue my Down the Scale life!

“So, is it a big birthday?”

“They’re all big birthdays now.”

That was my response to someone asking about my upcoming birthday.  I said it with a laugh because even though for the past ten years I’ve joked that all my birthdays are big, I embrace each one.  Yes, even the big 49 this year. The last year of my 40s. The last birthday before the big 5-0. When you’ve spent most of your adult life as an obese, unhealthy person, you don’t take for granted the birthdays that come along, no matter what the number.

As kids, I think most of us thought that our 40s were when we would be really old. We would be ancient.  My 40s came and I didn’t think that at all! Even before my weight loss surgery when I was 44, I still felt young.  It could have been the my children I was running after or the frequent trips to Disney World, but I didn’t feel old. At least my mind didn’t feel that way, but my body did.  It was hard to keep up with my family and friends when I was 100 pounds heavier.

My world opened up after I lost weight, both physically and mentally.  I’m a runner now. I love walking instead of just sitting around. With each birthday, I become stronger physically.  I tried ice skating again after a 20 year gap. At age 47 I ran my first half-marathon! And at age 49 I’m training for my second.  These actions were never part of my plans for when I grew old.

The physical changes as I age are amazing, but I think it’s my outlook on life that surprises me the most.  I remember being so scared when I graduated from college. I had no clue what I was going to do with my life besides move across the country to San Francisco.  I look back now and see how brave I was, but I felt insecure and unsure of myself for most of my 20s.

I was starting to get braver in my 30s after marriage and eventually children.  When you become a parent, you have no choice but to buckle up and get things done.  For some of us, that strength comes at a price. I put my mental and physically health on the back burner just trying to get through the day, then the week, then the years.  

My 40s were my renewal. My mid-forties were my rebirth.   A cross-country move and the resulting personal issues took their toll.  I was almost 300 pounds at age 43. It took an honest friend and my ever-supportive husband to help me realize I needed to change and more importantly, that I could change.  As a middle-aged woman, I began my weight loss journey which turned out to be a journey about physical and mental health to my surprise.

So here I am looking forward to 49!  I feel like I’m coming into my own person again.  It could be that I have more time now that my children are getting older.  Seeing them grow into independent people is exciting although they still seem to need me to find where they put their clean socks. With their increasing independence, it’s giving my husband and I more time together. While mom will always be an important role, I’m relearning that there are other parts of who I am that can share the space.

This includes spending more time with my hubby that doesn’t alway involve the children or are child-centric activities.  As our children grow and spend more time with their friends, we can spend time with our friends or by ourselves. I think we’ve gone out more in our late 40s than we did in our early 30s.  We joke with the kids that we’re they’re in college, we’re downsizing to a tiny house and they’ll have to camp in the yard when they visit. We all laugh about it, but it’s really only 8 years away…and we’ll be a very young 57 when that happens!

And I’m using my new independence to define “what I do for a living.”  My 20s became the start of a fun and interesting career in the retail industry.  I went from being an administrative assistant to a buyer to a project manager running an e-commerce website until I “retired” when I had my babies and became a stay-at-home mom.  My late 40s have been me trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. It wasn’t until last year that I finally started calling myself a writer. I’ve been writing this blog for almost five years now, but I was still insecure about calling myself a writer.  And when I started working on my novel, I still didn’t say I was a writer. It took my ever-supportive husband drilling it into my head that if I didn’t believe I was a writer, no one else would. So here I am, calling myself a writer.

And this writer is telling you that getting old is not as scary as you might think.  Sure I have more wrinkles and more and more gray hairs seem to sprout up, but I will gladly take them.  Every decade is full of challenges and struggles, but now I can see that each problem, each disappointment, got me to where I am today.  I don’t believe in regret; not worth the time or effort in my humble opinion. There will always be some difficulty in life, but how I deal with it and move on from it makes all the difference.  

So this almost 49-year-old mom, wife, friend, family member, runner, and writer is proud of her age.  As trite as it sounds, growing old is a gift, especially if you do it as a healthy person. I am proud of what I’ve accomplished over the years, but more importantly I look forward to the upcoming decades as I continue my journey Down the Scale…

Have You Given Up?

Jen February 2018

“You wouldn’t have done that before.” My husband said this to me this weekend as we explored a new place in our new home state. He was right. Before gastric sleeve surgery, I would never have tried to walk along a narrow ledge for fear of falling. I would have given up. The post-surgery me tries new things and doesn’t give up!

“Have you given up?”

One of the cheerleaders in my life, N., asked me that the other day. She called in response to my “woe is me” texts of late.

“Well, no, I haven’t.”

“OK then.”

Sometimes it’s the simplest questions that lead to the most profound answers. While I haven’t accomplished the goals I made for January, I’m not giving up.

I set two goals in January: to lose weight and finish the first draft of my mystery novel. I’ve lost about a pound, but nothing earth shattering and not the eight pounds I planned to lose. My first draft of my novel is nowhere near done although I finally wrote the first murder (these are things that make mystery writers very happy).

February appeared and the feelings of failure came with it. Failure provokes such strong emotions in me. I tend to let it drag me down. I berate myself for my lack of accomplishments. I wonder if I can really do what I set out to do. Doubt becomes the prevalent emotion in my life.

I generally pull myself out of these funks, but it was N.’s words that really resonated with me this time. Well, no, I haven’t given up! Why would I? Sure I’m behind on my goals, but there are reasonable goals. The time frame wasn’t right this time. Needing more time is not a bad thing; it’s definitely not the reason to give up.

I’ve decided to let up on setting time related goals. Somethings do need time frames, like my training for my July half-marathon. You can’t cram training into a month before a race. Well, I guess you could, but I’m not that crazy. So I am running three days a week and I start my formal training in a week.

I am determined to lose more weight this year, but I’m not going to put a deadline on it. I know what to do. I’ve been on this weight loss journey for almost five years now. One of the many lessons I’ve learned it that there will always be ups and downs. Both literally and figuratively. The scale is one of those literal ups and downs, but truth be said, I don’t need a scale to tell me about weight loss. I can feel it in my clothes, in my body, and in my head. Eating poorly and exercising less are a bad combination for me and I know it.

My other goal of finishing my first draft continues. Some days writing comes easy and other days it’s like pulling teeth without Novocaine. I was so focused on finishing the draft that I lost a bit of my motivation and my love of writing. So I’ve stepped back and started writing out-of-order when I’m stuck. Sometimes getting to the finish line means taking a meandering path. For someone like me who adores structure and order, this is a bit awkward. I’m learning it’s OK to do things differently than I have before. Shaking things up is working and I feel like my novel is back on track.

February plans are to keep exercising, eat healthy meals, and write whether it’s hard or easy. No time frames this time for me. I plan to focus on the process, not the end. There is joy in doing well and being happy, not just in finishing.

So back to my original answer, no I’m not giving up. Not now, not ever. I plan to keep trying as I continue my journey in going Down the Scale….

2018:  The Back to Resolutions Year

Back to Running 2018

I survived my first run of 2018! It great felt to get back to running: a top resolution for the new year! Looking for to my recommitment to running and my weight loss journey!

 

For the past few years, I didn’t make any resolutions.  As I mentioned back in 2015, I decided not to make them as I always felt they set me up for failure.  I made re-commitments instead.  Now that it’s 2018 and I’m looking back, I don’t believe there is much difference between the words.  Sometimes you just need to change the words you use in your life to make things seem easier or different.  For me in 2018, it will be “The Back to Resolutions Year.”

So why the change of heart this year?  Well, I am embarrassed to admit it, but 2017 was a year without concrete personal goals.  Yes, I did accomplish many goals last year such as

  • Moving my family from one state to another and then to another town all in nine months.  There are so many smaller accomplishments under this list, but the fact that we’re happy and feel settled in our new hometown is all I need to say.
  • I learned that I can run without walking for over a mile at a time.  I finally got over my fear that I couldn’t run without stopping.  I still have a much to do, but the fact I can do it is thrilling.
  • I lived through an elimination diet and actually learned a few facts about nutrition that I use to this day.  I learned that almonds trigger an allergic reaction and that I can live with less sugar in food.  And I still make some of the recipes I learned that month.  Meatloaf is still my kids favorite recipe.
  • I started my first mystery novel.  This book has been floating around in my brain and heart for so many years, but in 2017 I finally started to put it down on paper.

Now that I’m writing down my accomplishments of 2017, I’m feeling pretty good!  While I’m happy with what I’ve done, there are goals I’ve slacked on.  These include:

  • I haven’t lost any weight this year.  And as much as I hate to write this, I know I have actually gained weight.  I don’t need a scale to tell me this. Tighter clothes, less exercise and a lack of desire to do it, and a general feel of “blah” are all I need to show me that my lack of focus have caused me to gain weight.
  • While I started off 2017 with a trainer and a dedicated workout schedule, once we moved to our second home, I gave up.  I ran occasionally and did a few weight workouts, but nothing like the serious schedule I followed in the beginning of the year.
  • My mystery novel is perhaps a third of the way done, but I could be farther along if I had set aside the time to work on it.

And now I’m depressed about the lack of accomplishments.  And that’s OK. I feel it’s important to be honest about the good as well as the bad going on in my life.  Honesty in my blog and in my day-to-day life is what has kept me going on my weight loss journey since 2013. Of course I’d rather share the positives than the negatives, but it wouldn’t make me an honest person.  I’m not looking or wanting to present myself as this perfect example of a gastric sleeve surgery patient and someone who has an easy time with food and living a consistent healthy lifestyle.  I am far from perfect.

Now that I’ve told you the good and bad of last year, what am I planning to do this year?  Yes, the part about resolutions.  Before I share my list of goals, I want to tell you one of the most important part of setting resolutions for me is PUTTING IT ON THE CALENDAR.

I’m not yelling at you, but I feel it’s an essential part of my 2018 plans.  I’ve learned that if I don’t put an activity on the calendar, I don’t take it seriously.  I put everything on the calendar for my kids and hubby.  I make sure everyone’s activities are noted so we don’t forget them.  Sure, I’ve put my appointments on the calendar, but not my exercise or writing time. It’s changing this year. Here are the resolutions on the calendar this year:

  • My running schedule is posted three days a week, every week until my half-marathon in July.  One thing I’ve really missed from living in California is running races on a regular basis.  Fortunately I have made wonderful friends in our new hometown who decided running a half-marathon this year would be a great idea!  I am thrilled to have a new running goal for this year, but also for the encouragement and support of local friends.  
  • My writing schedule is on the calendar for five days a week.  I had a hard time setting up that repeating event.  As a stay-at-home mom, I feel guilty setting this much time aside.  My amazing ever-supportive husband insisted I make the time to write though.  I always feel like I should be doing other things like laundry and dishes during my writing time, but I generally don’t produce my best writing when I multitask.  As I somewhat obsessive multitasker, this is one of the hardest goals to strive for this year.  

So far these are the two new year’s resolutions I’ve put on the calendar.  I’m contemplating others like meal prep and cooking days; reading books; yoga; and other positive self-care activities.  I think it might be a bit overwhelming to put all of this on the calendar.  Can you imagine all the calendar alerts I would get in a day?!  

Instead I believe that by setting two of my most important and attainable goals, exercise and writing, it will naturally lead me to make other important goals a priority in my life.  So whether I call it a recommitment or resolution, I am thankful I have the support and encouragement of my family and friends to keep making positive and healthy living a priority.  I look forward to a healthy, happy year as I refocus on my goals so I can continue to go Down the Scale…

The Year Without a Turkey Trot

NoTurkeyTrot2017

I won’t add a Turkey Trot Race Bib to my collection this year. Dental surgery is keeping me from running this year, but it’s not keeping me from my journey to be the healthiest person I can be this year and in the future! This is just a blip on my Down the Scale journey!

“Oh, no, you can’t do that.”

Those words broke my heart this past Friday.  My dentist was following up after I had oral surgery that morning and those are the words he spoke when I asked if it was OK to run the 5K Turkey Trot this week.

While he explained why I couldn’t exercise this week, all I could think of was it would be the first Thanksgiving day run I didn’t do since 2012.  I did my first race even before I had gastric sleeve surgery.

After I hung up the phone and cried to my ever-supportive husband.  I moaned about how stupid I was to have the surgery so close to Thanksgiving.  Fortunately, as he does many times, he put everything back in perspective.  I had to have this surgery and between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there really wouldn’t have been a better time to have it.  And he was right and it was done so I had to move on.

My reaction surprised me though.  Yes, I’m definitely the type of person who doesn’t like to change  plans.  I am an admitted planner although I’m always up for spontaneous activities.  I do love traditions and I have run this race for years even if it’s in different cities.  No, it wasn’t losing the money on the entry fees.  Every Turkey Trot I’ve run as been for charity so I’m glad to support them even if I’m not running.  

Maybe it’s losing out on time with my son that was bothering me. The last few races, he has run them although with his friends.  Last year as we were new to the area , he ran with me though.  I loved sharing the run, although not the steady rain, with him.  

What I really think is bothering me, is that racing, particularly the Turkey Trot, is such an important part of the new healthy me.  It’s part of what defines the “Down the Scale Jen.”  And while I first did this race before my surgery, it was an important part of defining who I wanted to me after surgery.   I would be a healthy person.  I would be a runner.  I would be normal.

Now, I realize it seems silly that missing one race changes who I am.  I know it doesn’t.  I am still committed to my weight loss journey.  Well, it’s actually a healthy lifestyle journey.  My decision to lose weight in turn made me confront many emotional issues that lead to my unhealthy eating habits.  Exercise is a huge factor in keeping me focused on being a healthy person.  

So missing one race won’t change that. It’s disappointing, but as soon as my dentist tells me I can run again, I’ll get back to it.  Running is a part of me now.  Striving to be as healthy as I can be (albeit with a treat thrown in now and then), is who I am.  This bump in the road was a good reminder that I am still dedicated to my weight loss journey.  Although I won’t be running this month, I am still continuing to focus on being positive and healthy as I keep going Down the Scale….

Cookie Regrets…

This is the aftermath of my cookie hangover. Even with my smaller stomach from gastric sleeve surgery, I can still eat cookies. And I regret it every time. Time to get back to mindful eating on my weight loss journey!

I have a cookie hangover. I just finished a big chocolate chip cookie with just a touch of sea salt on top and before I swallowed the last bite I felt ill. Like when you have that last drink that you know you should have said no to, but drank it anyway. That’s me with sweets. I still crave them. I still love them. I still hate them after I finish them. It’s the never-ending battle of good versus evil; healthy versus unhealthily; knowing better versus ignoring the facts. It’s like a bad relationship where you know you shouldn’t even start it, but you do and for a while you’re happy. And then the part (that you know is coming) is when things turn. You feel like shit and you knew it was coming but you did it anyway. And you say you won’t do it again, but you do….

When will I learn? I should know better by now wouldn’t you say? I feel like a failure most times when I eat poorly. OK, not always. There are times like a holiday celebration that I know I won’t make the heartiest of eating choices and I’m OK with that. Those are days I’ve made a conscious decision to make some unhealthily choices. Yes to pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. Yes to peppermint anything on Christmas Day and a hell yes to peanut butter eggs on Easter.

It’s the spur of the moment eating that is bothering me these days. Here I am at a coffee shop with my coffee which should have been enough. It’s always enough but I saw the cookie and thought what the hell. Then I inhaled the cookie and now I’m sitting here in a sugar coma thinking “You idiot. You feel like crap from all that fat and sugar and you can’t even drink your coffee.” I’m saying more to myself but you get the point.

Why is it that I can be so strong some days and eat well and other days I slip? Other days I really don’t seem to care. Yes, stress is a lot of it, but honestly I can’t keep using that as an excuse can I? No, I can’t.

What can I do?

BRING BACK MINDFUL EATING

Yes, it’s time to be aware of what I’m doing with food. I’m using it for stress relief. I’m using it to fight boredom. I’m using it as a reward system. What I’m not using it for is to be healthy.

I always, always feel better when I eat healthy. There is no doubt about it. Time to make better choices and this mean stopping the sweets when I can get coffee. It’s time not to eat granola bars mindlessly because really, they’re not a healthy food. It’s time to remember food is fuel.

Oh, I’m not going to pretend I’m giving up completely on unhealthy food, but I need to be more conscious and selective when choosing it, especially with the holidays coming up.

Time to end the sugar hangovers and feel better about my choices and myself. Time for me to be mindful in order to be healthy. Time to stop, think and make better choices so I can keep going in my journey to be healthy and happy and continue to go Down the Scale…

Dress For Success: Warrior Clothing

 

IMG_7917

This view was my reward for running a mile this morning.  Putting on my “warrior clothes” and making the time to exercise is an important part of my continued success on my weight loss journey.  Keeping healthy physically and mentally should always be a priority!

As usual this morning, I came up with a ton of excuses not to run. You know, the usual list of chores like laundry, cleaning, paying bills, and putting the house back together after a busy week. There is always something, but today I ignored the list for a bit and put on my workout clothes. They’re also known as my warrior outfit. There is something about my sturdy black leggings, my “dri-fit” black running shirt covering my favorite industrial strength sports bra, and my Spanx-like underwear that makes me feel strong. Rounding out my outfit with my cheerful purple running shoes and comfy socks, I knew I was ready for my run.

There are all those annoyingly clichéd sayings like “dress for success” and “dress for the job you want”, but they are true. When I put on my running clothes I know I’ve made a commitment to exercising whether it’s for 20 minutes or an hour. Even if I’m feeling lumpy and bumpy, exhausted and stressed, I have made a promise that I will do something that’s good for me.

Today’s run was my only other one during this second week of school for my kids, so I felt a bit rusty. I started the run by going downhill and while in some ways that felt like cheating, it helped me get in the mood. New music from the Foo Fighters inspired me to pick up the pace as I reached the bottom of the hill.

When I was getting dressed this morning, I told myself I just had to go one mile. Whether it was the help of going downhill, the new music or my warrior outfit, I did it without stopping like I did this winter with my trainer. Since I’ve moved, I don’t have a trainer, but now that I’m working out again, I keep what she taught me in my head. Not only did she teach me proper running form, she gave me the confidence to trust my body.

I gaged a mile from house to be along the water and when I heard the mile marker ding of my running program, I saw the beautiful water in front of me. The peaceful Pacific Northwest scenery greeted me as I walked onto the shoreline and checked my watch. While it wasn’t my fastest mile, it was a mile and I was happy with that. Completing what I set out to do was enough reward; pace and distance will come back in time.

So as silly as it may sound, putting on my workout clothes got me going this morning. I ran a great mile and walked uphill another mile and I took in the comfortable Fall weather as well as the peaceful scenery of my new hometown. Starting out the day in such a positive way is just what I needed. It was a good reminder that I can fit in exercise no matter what I need to do that day. It’s OK for the dishes and laundry to get done later. It reminds me that part of my job is to keep myself healthy and sane. If I’m not healthy, both physically and mentally, I’m no good to myself or anyone else.

Whether it’s a 15 minute walk or miles of running, it’s important for me to prioritize physical fitness in my life. Time to put on my warrior clothes as much as possible so I can keep happy and healthy and continue to go Down the Scale…