Category Archives: Lifestyle Changes

Baby Steps Forward

MomandSonAfterRun

Enjoying an after run treat, with one of my favorite running partners, my son! I am thankful I can run with my children and model healthy living for them! My weight loss journey is good for my whole family.

Today I went running for the first time in almost a month.  It was a slowly, short and easy kind of run with one of my favorite running partners, my son.  As we ran along a new path in our new hometown, I felt calm and at peace.  I haven’t felt this way in a long time.  

Moving for the second time in a  year has upset so many aspects of my life right now.  My day-to-day schedule is inconsistent.  Workouts, eating healthy, spending quality time with my family, and my writing time are all out of whack. I thought once we finally moved all our belongings to one place, I would settle into my old healthy habits.  It didn’t happen.  Instead it became:

*Unpacking one day was empowering.  The next  day it was overwhelming.

*Taking a walk was the start of a new exercise routine.  It was not.

*Cooking from scratch one night was great.  It was not a regular activity.

*One writing session was the path back to my blog and novel.  That path was ignored until today.

*Now that the scale is unpacked, I’ll start using it.  It’s still gathering dust in my new bathroom.

If this happened instead of my actual goals, why does one day of running make me believe that I find my way back to my healthy lifestyle?  Because I finally acknowledged that I need to really want to change.  I accept the fact that I need to take baby steps to get back to the place I am healthiest and happiest.

In the first year of my gastric sleeve surgery, the weight flew off.  It took a lot of mental work, but physically I had the help of my small stomach.  I was making leaps with my weight loss.  In the following years I was still making large strides with the addition of regular exercise.  I crave the accolades of running my first half marathon and successfully learning strength training skills.  Tangible results are addicting and I think I’m feeling the crash of not having regular successes that are measured by pounds, inches, and race results.

If I really committed I could be back there.  If I tracked my food or did an elimination diet again, the pounds would drop off.  If I signed up for another half marathon or finally set up a home gym like I promise to do every year I’d be back in better shape.

Oh, I know I can do all this.  I’ve set big goals and succeeded.  What’s holding me back?

THE PRESSURE

The thought of food journaling, following an elimination diet, and a strict exercise routine overwhelms me.  Perhaps it’s because I have so many other responsibilities that I feel like adding a rigid regimen to my life is too much to handle.

Of course part of me thinks I should just wait for three weeks until my kids are in school and follow a more disciplined lifestyle.  When the kids are in school, I’ll have more time to do all those things I could do to lose weight again and tone and strengthen my body.  But for me, promising to start later is an invitation to lapse into bad habits. It could turn into a “ It’s like a last hurrah, the last meal before death row, the last party as single and/or childless woman” kind of time in my life.  I would make these last three weeks a time to eat mindlessly and lounge around.  For me, it’s time wasted and I never feel any better when I give up control of living healthy.

So instead of saying I’ll live better in three weeks, I am going to take baby steps which include:

*Running to clear by mind, not for distance or pace.  My mind and body were clear and revitalized after running with my son today.  I just enjoyed his company and the beauty of one of the many new running places I have in my new hometown.

*I am making protein a priority in all of my meals.  I am still dealing with low iron levels and I can tell when I don’t eat properly as my body and mind don’t function as well as they can.  

*I’m slowly getting back to cooking meals from scratch and this time I’m including my children.  It’s important for me to model good habits and cooking is an easy one to share with them.  I think they’re going to be better cooks than me!

*Making simple adjustments to eating habits like limiting restaurant meals and dropping a tablespoon of creamer from my coffee is actually easy to do.  I don’t feel deprived when I do this.  It’s just as  easy to fall back into good routines as it is into bad ones.

*Writing when it strikes me and letting things go like laundry and unpacking the last remaining boxes.  Now I don’t mean I plan to neglect things like feeding my children or picking my husband after work, but some things can wait, especially when I don’t have a set writing time right now.

It’s been tough to admit I have slipped this year.  It’s embarrassing to admit I am struggling once again.  But I am owning it.  With the help of baby steps, I can get back to the lifestyle that makes me feel best both physically and mentally.  Baby steps will help me back to where I want to be and will enable me to continue my journey Down the Scale…

A Quick 4 Year Update!

Jen20132017v1

I’ve changed in more ways than one since my gastric sleeve surgery four years ago! The mental and physical changes still amaze me this day. My journey to a healthy life is always evolving and for that I am ever grateful!

Life is a bit crazy these days with a move in the works.  While we’re only moving 30 miles away, it’s a bit more difficult when  you’re moving to an island!  As soon as we’re settled, I promise I’ll have a more detailed post of my life at Down the Scale.

In the meantime, I wanted to note that it’s been four years since I had my gastric sleeve surgery.  This year as been full of ups and downs, literally and figuratively, but I still believe that surgery was the start of a much better life for me.  I am healthy in more ways that I can measure.  There are always challenges in life, but I feel more prepared to tackle them since I began my journey to what is now a healthy life.

I’ll share more of my four-year journey soon.  Thanks for reading and more importantly, for supporting me through the years.  Yes, it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to support and encourage those who seek change.  Thank you for being with me as I continue my story, going Down the Scale…

Time to Go for the Distance

First 5K 2017

Here I am enjoying my margarita at the end of my first 5K race of 2017. Running is one of the best results of gastric sleeve surgery! My weight loss journey continues with more runs this year.

When did I become a running snob? It was this past Saturday. Perhaps snob is too strong a word, but after running my first 5K race of the year, I learned that I actually take running more seriously than I thought. It’s just another one of the many surprises I’ve experienced in my four-year weight loss journey.

After last year’s Tinker Bell Half Marathon, I took a step back on running long distances. The mental and physical exhaustion from training was part of the reason. Lacking a new goal was another. I’m the type of woman who needs goals and I didn’t come up with a running goal for a while.

After a crazy year of moving and settling into a new state, in January I finally got serious about exercise again. To improve my running, I began working with a personal trainer. While my main goal was to increase my running pace, the focus was on building my strength and endurance through weights and speed drills. Yes, it is working! I’ve cut almost three minutes off my average pace and I can run for at least a mile without stopping. Success!

What I don’t feel successful with is my endurance. Yes, I can run for almost a mile whereas before I would do intervals as in run then walk, run than walk exclusively. I can run for a mile or so, but then at about mile one and a half, I start to slow down or go back to intervals. I know this is my brain playing tricks on me. I’m pretty sure I can run longer than that. It’s time to break through this mental barrier and run longer distances.

My plan was to do this at my first 5K of 2017. I should have known by the name “Margarita Madness 5K Run/Walk” that there wouldn’t be an emphasis on running. When I saw the lines of people buying margaritas before the race began, I mistakenly thought that as a sober runner I would fly through the course. I was wrong.

A few things kept me from running the whole race. Sure, I could blame the participants who were more concerned about spilling their drinks through the asphalt and trail course. I could point my finger at the people who were walking three or four across the path. I could blame the lack of racing etiquette: walkers on the right, runners to the left, and only pass on the left. I could use the surprising heat and sun as another reason.

Sure, these are all good excuses, but I know I’m fighting a mental game. My head still hasn’t grasped the fact that I can run longer. All the work I’ve put into strengthening my body and improving my pace needs to be put to good use. Time to go the distance. Time to believe in my training. Time to just do it.

Today is Global Running Day so it seems appropriate that I go out there and run the best run I can. I’m not planning on running any crazy distances, but I know I can run for more than a mile without stopping. That is my only goal. No, actually my other goals are to have fun and appreciate the fact that four years after gastric sleeve surgery, I am a runner. My plan today is to enjoy the unusual warm and sunny weather of the Pacific North West with a peaceful and positive run. Here’s to believing I can go the distance while I continue to go Down the Scale…

Really, No One is Watching

Getting ready for another work out session! I never thought I would wear a tank top to exercise in, but here I am almost four years after gastric sleeve surgery wearing one! Living a healthy lifestyle is the best change I made!

What is it about exercising in groups that makes me so self-conscious?  It’s not so much a problem in classes like spin where everyone is on their own bike so it doesn’t matter if you’re slow or uncoordinated.  Unless you fall off the bike or perhaps sing too loud to the music, no one cares or notices what you’re doing.  You’re not keeping anyone from advancing or slowing down the group when you’re in spin class.

Other exercise classes are a different story.  Or at least that was my preconceived notion before I did a boot camp class today.  Most of my fears and concerns were gone by the end of class.  First, I managed to do all the stations without passing out. I did however text a friend before class to remind her that she was in charge of picking out a good photo for my obituary should I die from either exertion or embarrassment.  Fortunately I did neither and I was once again reminded that exercising is about me, not anyone else.

Today’s class was my first group weight training class in about ten years. When my children were little, the YMCA was a godsend with its childcare so I tried out classes even though I was obese.  I was proud of myself for participating, albeit slowly and clumsily, until one fateful day.  A perky girl, who I could only think thought she was being helpful by cheerfully rushing up to me after class said, “Wow, good for you!  You’re doing this class.”  My dumbfounded and angry face must have given her the impression she should just back away slowly.  As if I didn’t say to myself every class, “It’s OK you’re the only fat mom in here, just keep trying.  No one cares.”  From that day on, every time I took that class I thought that people must feel sad for the fat chick in the class.  It was devastating, but I did keep going.

Here I am almost four years out from my gastric sleeve surgery and I must admit I’m still self-conscious about my body. Oh, I’m in the best shape of my adult life and I exercise regularly including running, but the “fat chick” in my head likes to make herself known from time to time.  My personal training sessions have boosted my confidence tremendously, but they will be ending soon.  I realized it was time to try out a group class to keep working on strength training.

I’m very lucky that my personal trainer also teaches the boot camp I did today.  I was reassured that she would make sure my form was good when she could.  When I walked into class I realized that it was made of women of all shapes, sizes, and athletic ability.  No, I wasn’t the skinniest woman in the room, but I fit in just fine.  But you know what?  It didn’t matter what I looked like or what I could do because no one cares!  Now, I don’t mean that in a malicious way as in people are uncaring, what I mean is that everyone is there to do their best.  It’s not a fashion show or a competition.  This boot camp was all about people doing their personal best.

Was I awkward, uncoordinated, and insecure?  You betcha!  I was also determined, strong, and proud.  Sure, my lunges were slow, but I rocked it on the TRX bands.  As I moved from station to station, I became more comfortable and relaxed.  In no time, the session was over and I did everything.  I assume everyone else did, but I didn’t notice.  This time was about me and what I could do.  And thankfully no one came up to me commenting about my abilities, weight or the fact I was even in the class.

But if someone had said something to me, I would have been irritated, but I would have brushed it off.  I am proud of what I can do and I am not focusing on my weaknesses when I exercise.  I’m working hard to be this way in all aspects of my life.  I’m taking one giant step, or rather lunge, forward to being positive mentally and physically!

Next time, you’re thinking of trying something new or even an activity you stopped doing due to insecurity, I hope you’ll do it.  One of the positive things that has come out of my weight loss journey is my confidence to try new and old things.  I want to live a life that is full of hope and happiness and how I get there is all up to me.  While no one might notice what I’m doing to get there, the results of living a healthy life are clear I think, especially as I continue to go Down the Scale…

Getting My Ducks in a Row

My gastric sleeve journey turned weight loss journey turned be healthy journey includes running. I always feel good when I run, especially when life seems out of control.

Just a quick note to say that I’m working on getting my ducks in a row!  After struggling with my control issues last week, I’d love to say I’m feeling 100%, but I’m not.  Every day I’m dealing with new challenges and I’m trying desperately not to fall back into old habits of eating mindlessly.  To combat my negative feelings this morning, I went out for a quick run.  It was me and the ducks outside this morning enjoying a rain-free morning.  Today’s run helped me some positive things:

*There will be breaks in the rain.  All the locals here in my neck of the PNW say it’s never rained this much in the past. I’m trying to believe them after months of never-ending rain.  With no rain in sight this morning, I took a chance and ran outside instead of at the YMCA.  While it wasn’t sunny, it was clear and 48 degrees even felt warm as I ran.

* I love that I call running two miles a short run.  I remember four years ago how long a mile seemed.  At 18 minutes a mile, it was, but I am thankful I kept going.  I can really see the results of my persistence and the addition of strength training this year.  In the fall I was happy for a 14 minute mile and now I’m happy with a 12 minute mile.  Running is tangible proof that my dedication to exercise is paying off.

*Clearing my head will help clear my soul.  It’s amazing how a bit of exercise and a change of scenery makes me feel so much better.  The lake and trees satisfy my soul more than the indoor track at the Y.  With the sounds of construction starting early this morning, I knew I would be irritated and distracted at home.  While there are a list of things I could do at home if I stayed, I knew I wouldn’t get any writing or research done.  I’m working to make my writing time a priority so my iPad, notebooks and pens are with me now at Starbucks.  Not dishes or laundry to bother me from my work and I get to write and enjoy my coffee without home distractions.

It’s going to take a while to get out of my latest funk, but that’s OK.  My weight loss journey is full of ups and downs, positivity and negativity.  I’m aware of my negative attitude and I’m trying to find realistic ways to combat it.  Today’s run and dedicated writing time are just two of the things I need to do to keep my head, heart, and ducks in a row.  Wish me luck!

Days Will Come and Go…Down the Scale…

As corny as this may sound, I am thankful to have my ever-supportive hubby by my side as I swing through my weight loss journey! Through the ups and downs, he is always by my side as I navigate my new life since my gastric sleeve surgery.

I think I’ve been pretty honest throughout the past four years of my gastric sleeve blog that I have control issues.  Obviously I do since I’ve had weight issues all my life. Weight gain isn’t necessarily all about control; for me it’s an emotional issue more than anything.  While I am doing better dealing with my emotions, this past weekend I was the poster child for epic meltdowns.  It wasn’t pretty and I’m fortunate that I’ve kept my family and friends who experienced it.  Now that I’m over it, I’m ready to tackle my control issues or rather learn to deal with what I can’t control.

First, let me say, I lead a charmed life.  When I share my “woe is me” and self-pity episodes, I’m pretty embarrassed.  I realize how fortunate I am to have a loving family, supportive friends, and the ability to lead the life I have.   When things go wrong though, I tend to forget all the good things in my life.  I focus on what’s going wrong or what I can’t have or what I can’t control.  Yes, my chest-heaving sobs and dark moods make me a lovely person to be with.

Finally, I pulled myself from this self-pity abyss and began to focus on the good in my life and the positive changes that are happening and will happen.  It seems pretty silly that I love change, but when I’m not in control of some changes, I, for a lack of better words, freak out.  It was when I was singing this verse from one of my favorite Foo Fighters song, “Saint Cecilia,” that I stopped to think how true this is for me:

“I know no matter what I say

Days will come and go

No matter what I say

Nothing’s set in stone

No matter what I say

Days go by”

What I mean by these lyrics is that I tend to think I can change things even when I can’t.  While my head understands there are things out of my control, I still want to control them.  But what I finally started to come to terms with this past week is that yes, “days will come and go, no matter what I say.”  Time is going to pass no matter what, so it’s up to me on how I live.  I can dwell on the negative or appreciate the positive.

No, I’m not saying I’m going to be Little Miss Sunshine all the time.  I don’t think that’s truly possible and I think it would be unbelievably stressful to try to be perky all the time.  But I know I’m happier and healthier when I focus on the positive and not the negative.  I’m a better wife, mother, friend, and human being when I focus on the good in my world.

If you’re wondering what this has to do with my weight loss journey, I’ll tell you that it has everything to do with it.  Mental health goes hand in hand with physical health.  My head tells me that I should control my weight if I can’t control other things, but for me it doesn’t work that way.  I let everything go when I feel out of control, especially eating.  Sugar made a comeback this weekend.  The instant gratification of sugar left so quickly and I still had my anger and sadness and now guilt was added to the list of negative feelings I felt.  

Now that I’m done “mourning” what I can’t control, I’m working very hard on remaining positive and thinking about what I can control, or at least, be happy about what is going right.  I’m taking charge of my goals and working toward them.  One of the ways I’m doing this is by communicating what I need from the people in my life.  No one can help you if you don’t tell people what you need.  So far, no one in my life is psychic, so I need to actually say the words and not assume or hope my needs and desires are understood.

I’m running more often and I feel better every time I do it.  My training sessions are very helpful and by adding more running to my week, I feel even more invigorated and happy.  Being exhausted after a workout helps me feel in control and I believe it relieves me of much of my anxiety and stress.

After my sugar binge this weekend, I’m back to eating mindfully and making better choices.  My elimination diet showed me that almonds aren’t good for me.  My doctor told me that people who are sensitive to almonds can experience more anxiety and after eating them twice, I found that to be true for me.  I know that eating healthier foods and avoiding foods like sugar and almonds which make me anxious and guilty, I am more in control of my body and mind.

 
So, here I go on my continuing journey trying to be the healthiest person I can be.  It’s not always pretty, but all in all, it’s a very good life that I have the privilege of leading.  I’m thankful I have the opportunity to make the changes I want to make, but more importantly I am thankful that I’m learning to handle the changes I can’t make.  Days will come and go and I plan to keep them going Down the Scale…

Engaging My Core

How could I not be engaged with these people? The ups and downs of my weight loss journey reminds me to remember what is really important: making your life a priority. For me, spending more time with my family is my top priority!

“Remember to engage your core.”

I hear these words for an hour twice a week now that I workout with my trainer, H.  Dedicating two hours a week to exercising with the guidance of a trainer is helping me improve my physical health, but focusing on my physical core made me think about my core in a mental sense.  What I mean is that for my body to work better, I need to engage my core to support the rest of my body no matter what exercise I’m doing.  It’s also my mental core that needs engaging as well these days.

The past few weeks I felt unfocused, like I was going through the motions of life, but not really feeling it.  I have all these goals in my head, but I wasn’t working toward any of them.  Sure, I’ve been eating better and exercising more, but I still didn’t feel fulfilled.  It wasn’t until my training session last Thursday when H. reminded me to engage my core muscles that it hit me.  I’m not engaged in anything.

Now, I’m not saying I’ve just ignored my family, friends, and my life in general during here last few weeks, but I haven’t felt involved.  Besides the goals of being healthy I have other goals, but I haven’t made them important.  If I don’t make my goals a priority, how will I accomplish them?  Unless there’s a magic wand somewhere that I don’t know about, I need to work toward my goals instead of talking about them.

The first step in the new engagement of my core, i.e. my life,  is to stop talking about them and start doing them.  Here’s how I’m beginning to be more active in my life goals:

*Being confident in my physical self is a must, no matter what happens.  As I mentioned in my last blog, I do feel stronger and more confidant in my athletic abilities, but I took a step, well, a run back, two weeks ago.  I was doing fast laps around the YMCA and my first one went great.  The second set was two laps, but halfway through the second lap I just stopped.  It felt like my body couldn’t go on.  I was winded and my legs cramped.  I was angry with myself.  I finished the training session, but it bothered me the rest of the day.  Normally, I would have let it go and just waited until my next training session to try again.  Instead I went to the gym early the next morning and ran without stopping for a mile and a half like I’ve been doing.    Instead of acting like I was going backwards in my training, I tackled the problem head on.  I was engaged.  I will continue to be engaged in my athletic endeavors no matter if they’re good or bad.

*Making my goals a priority, even if it means saying no.  I’ve put off building a new career for the past year.  Sure, at times, I had to put my goals aside to work on immediate issues like moving to a new state and setting up our new life in the Pacific Northwest, but we’ve been here almost six months and we’re pretty settled. Each day I come up with excuses not to make the time to work on my writing with the exception of a blog entry here and there.  No more excuses!  I am now scheduling in time to work on my writing which includes my blog and my fiction writing.  I’m doing this even if I have to say no to meeting a friend or pushing housework aside for another time.  As I type, I’m at a café while my daughter is at a theater class.  This is my dedicated writing time; no running errands or playing Words with Friends.  I am engaged in my writing, which in turns means I’m engaged in my personal and professional goals.

*Spending time with friends and family is essential.  I realize that I’m with my children a lot, but I’m not always “there.”  While I’m not quite sure which games my kids are talking about, I am trying to listen intently.  If it’s important to them, I need to make it important to me.  I’ve realized if I’m not engaged when they’re talking about everyday things, I might miss the important life stories they’ll share.  And with my ever-supportive hubby, I need to be with him in addition to our time as a family.  We’ve made the effort to go out to dinner and breakfast on our own and having this time alone with him is necessary.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in our lives as parents, so to spend time as a couple keeps us engaged in our marriage.  I can’t forget my friends, either!  So many of my friends are far away and while an email, text or Facebook post helps enormously, FaceTime is my new favorite app.  During a “woe is me” moment, I texted my constant cheerleader, N., to see if we could schedule a FaceTime appointment. We video chatted yesterday and it really lifted my spirits.  Seeing her face while talking was just what I needed and I realized much of it was because I was focused just on our conversation.  I wasn’t texting in between loads of laundry or running out the door to an appointment; we were focused on talking only.  When I am focused on the person I’m talking with and not trying to multitask, I am engaged in my life as well as this person’s life.

Now that I’m focused on engaging my core physically, I am going to engage my emotional core.  Sometimes, multi-tasking isn’t helpful.  As a lifelong multitasker, this is going to be a challenge.  Just from the small changes I’ve made over the past few weeks though, I can already feel some of the physical and mental weight being lifted.  There really is something to be said about slowing down and focusing on your goals.  Now that I’m making my core muscles stronger, I am going to make my figurative core, meaning my heart and soul, stronger.  I am engaged as I continue my journey Down the Scale…

Making the time to write is one of my goals and by setting up outside in the occasionally clear day in the PNW, I can write. No excuses, it’s time be engaged.