Category Archives: Plastic Surgery

Keep on Trotting…

From 2012 to 2015 and from 5K to 5 Miles, the Turkey Trot continues for me! Just like my gastric sleeve journey continues!

From 2012 to 2015 and from 5K to 5 Miles, the Turkey Trot continues for me! Just like my gastric sleeve journey continues!

Another Thanksgiving is over which means I’ve run my fourth Turkey Trot race!  I’ve gone from running a 5K to running 5 miles in four years.  This year was almost harder than my first race though…

How can I say that?  I’m over a 100 pounds lighter than my first race and I’ve run farther than five miles on regular workouts and even ran my first 10K this past Spring!  Well, sometimes things don’t go the way you plan, but if there is one important thing I’ve learned in my gastric sleeve journey is that you have to remember that sometimes trying is more important than succeeding.

Now this isn’t to say that I don’t consider the 2015 Turkey Trot a success.  My running mantra is and always will be “You just have to finish!”  So I did finish the race and with a respectable time, but it wasn’t the time I wanted.  My first two miles went really well and I ran at a great pace and I ran more than I walked. Yeah me!

Then the pain started.  Sigh.  At first I thought the pins from my racing bib were sticking me in the stomach.  I even checked!  No, it was abdominal muscle pain.  I was so frustrated and confused.  I’ve run longer distances the past few months so I wasn’t sure why my muscles were strained.

I slowed down and even with the pain, I kept going.  I was scared that something was really wrong.  After two c-sections, a vertical abdominal hernia repair and a tummy tuck, my poor abdomen has been through Hell.  I must admit I go to the edge of crazy when I worry about my body.  “I’m going to need surgery AGAIN!” I screamed in my head.  I watched racers in turkey costumes run past me and I knew I was doomed to have my first unfinished race.  I would be found clutching my adorable turkey headband in the middle of a trail in Golden Gate Park by my worried, but mostly embarrassed son who had finished two hours earlier.  What a way to go…

Finally, I realize that if I could still walk, I must be OK. I shook off my drama queen attitude and straighten my turkey headband.  “All I have to do is finish” was my battle cry!   I managed to run and walk the next three miles and finish about the same time as I did last year.  My abdomen would not defeat me!  Well, actually it was more of my “Debbie Downer” attitude that would have been my downfall.

Yes, I was disappointed and frustrated, but I finished!  And to have my friend N. waiting for me at the finish line as she has done for the past four years, I couldn’t help but smile.  And then I found my son, who naturally finished way ahead of me, I was happy once again.

My abdominal muscles were sore the rest of the day, but I recovered with a bit of rest and pain relievers.  And the knowledge that I kept true to one my weight loss slogan of “You just have to finish!” made me happier than a piece of pumpkin pie.  Really, it’s true!

One of the best parts of running is having my son join me at races! He did his first Turkey Trot this year and next up is the Santa Run!

One of the best parts of running is having my son join me at races! He did his first Turkey Trot this year and next up is the Santa Run!

 

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Are We There Yet?

This week I had my one year followup to my tummy tuck/hernia repair surgery. Dr. C. examined my fading scar and said it looked great and to let him know if I needed anything else in the future. Otherwise we were done.

I thanked him and left smiling as I am thrilled with my results, but the word “done” stuck in my head. I never feel done with anything, especially when it comes to my weight loss. Will I ever feel done with my weight loss journey?

I will keep running toward a healthy life as my gastric sleeve journey evolves!

I will keep running toward a healthy life as my gastric sleeve journey evolves!

To be honest, no, I never will be done. For one, I will always struggle with food. Am I a food addict? I don’t necessarily think so, but I definitely can overeat. The gastric sleeve surgery keeps me from overeating in one sitting, but I can eat through the day and night if I’m not conscious of it. Gastric sleeve surgery does not take the desire to “stress eat” away.

My surgery started my path to a healthy physical and mental life, but it was by no means a quick fix. Yes, it did help me lose weight very quickly and that gave me the motivation and instant gratification to change my lifestyle. To keep the weight off and stay healthy is up to me now. I’ve seen how mindless eating and stress lower my desire and confidence in my healthy lifestyle. No, my weight loss journey is not done.

When I think about it, though, it’s not truly a weight loss journey that I’m on now. Oh, I still have at least 10 pounds I’d like to lose, but my focus is on being healthy in body and mind. In many ways, a healthy mind and soul keeps my body in check. When I’m depressed or anxious, I want to be immediately comforted. In the past, food was my comfort. Food gave me pleasure and distracted me from my true feelings. Since I’m determined not to gain back the 100 pounds I lost, what do I do now?

I wish I had the complete answer to that question. Naturally I have some of the answers like exercising, eating properly and talking about my stress and depression. I am doing some of these things, but sometimes it isn’t enough. I need to learn to believe in myself and be comforted by my past successes and current achievements. Keeping off this much weight is a big deal! Exercising regularly and running races are successes!

But to be honest, sometimes it’s just not enough. It’s so easy to fall back on the failures of my journey. Those last 10 pounds taunt me from my scale. Some mornings my walk/run style of running feels pathetic as I watch “real” runners pass me by. Some days I feel utterly alone in my struggle to be positive and healthy.

So for anyone who thinks that gastric sleeve surgery is a cure-all, I am here to share that it is not. Don’t we all wish for a magic pill to fix what ails us? My journey continually reminds me that to be the person I want to be, I have to work for it. No one else can do it for me. I can’t do it for my husband, kids or my friends. It will always be me who is in control of my behavior and attitude.

Now this doesn’t mean I am always alone. I am incredibly lucky to have a supportive network of family, friends and doctors to lean on. I am still learning to reach out. I hate feeling like a burden. I feel like I shouldn’t have to ask for help this far in my journey. Aren’t people tired of helping? Of course the answer is no. The people who love you want to support you. Fortunately I have people in my life who remind me that they’re there for me. I hope I am there for them, too.

So, basically, my answer is “No, I’m not there yet.” For me, my weight loss turned healthy life journey will need to evolve as I do. Sometimes it will be about losing weight. Sometimes it will be about motivating myself to eat right and exercise. Sometimes it will be about fighting depression. It will always be about being the healthiest woman I can be in this lifetime. And that will keep me going Down the Scale…

Embracing Sleeveless and Other Things I’ve Learned…

Time flies when you're healthier!  These past two years since my gastric sleeve surgery have been challenging and rewarding in more ways than I imagined.

Time flies when you’re healthier! These past two years since my gastric sleeve surgery have been challenging and rewarding in more ways than I imagined.

Another year bites the dust! This month I celebrate my two-year gastric sleeve surgery anniversary. It’s been a challenging year, but I will declare it a successful year! Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

*It’s not always about losing weight. At my two-year check-up with my surgeon, he noted I was down a pound from last year, making it a 98 pound loss since the surgery. Well, if you’ve read my blog, you know I actually was maintaining a 100+ pound weight loss. I’m struggling with about four to five pounds that keep coming and going. Considering I used to have 20 to 30 pounds I would gain and lose, this is not bad. I am not obsessing about it, but I am working at it. Granted, it’s at a slow pace, but I’m OK with that.

*I’ve learned to be more patient with myself. In the past, I would have beaten myself up over the yoyoing weight and changed it to a “F*** it all” attitude. Now I know that straying from my regular healthy lifestyle will happen and it’s not the end of the world, or rather, not the end of my healthy life. It’s as simple as choosing better food for my next meal or going for a run the next day.

*Running will always be my go-to stress reliever and the way to maintain my weight loss. After my hernia repair/tummy tuck surgery in September, I was able to run again without pain. It keeps me sane and happy to go out for a run, even if it’s more walking than running. I never thought I would find an athletic activity that I would crave. Some days I’m slow and some days I improve, but every time I run I know I’m doing something important for my physical and mental health.

*This is the year to embrace the way my body looks now. Having a tummy tuck did wonders for my physical appearance and my mental health. It put me down a one size smaller and I’m much more comfortable in a bathing suit. But (there’s always a but), I still have wrinkly thighs, flabby arms and oversized breasts. Sure if I wanted to spend the time and money, surgery would fix it all. Also, if I ever commit to strength training, I would have a better looking body. Maybe one day I’ll choose surgery and/or strength training, but for now I’m accepting my body as is. It’s time to embrace me as I am and not shy away from shorts and sleeveless tops. I’ll never go as far as embracing a bikini, but I’m going to wear those sleeveless dresses and shirts I’ve always been afraid to wear. It’s about time!

Here I am embracing a sleeveless dress!  Something I wouldn't have done before my weight loss journey.

Here I am embracing a sleeveless dress! Something I wouldn’t have done before my weight loss journey.

I’ve learned all this and more over the past two years, but the best conclusion I’ve reached on this anniversary is that I truly am a success. Perhaps that sounds cocky or conceited, but I don’t care! I am proud of the person I’ve become. I always thought of myself as the “fat chick” with no hope of changing. My gastric sleeve surgery was just the beginning of this incredible journey to find out who I could be.

I just don’t mean a thinner person. I discovered I was tougher, smarter and more confident than I thought. I’m not perfect and neither is my weight loss story. I struggle. I feel defeated. I feel unsure of myself. But I am not giving up…ever. It’s taken me years to believe in myself. Now I have a lifetime to live my life with a positive and confident mindset. Two years down and a lifetime to enjoy going Down the Scale..

Another Merry Christmas to Me!

Another Christmas and another year of me sitting on Santa's lap!  Being 105 pounds lighter makes sitting on his lap much easier...for both of us!

Another Christmas and another year of me sitting on Santa’s lap! Being 105 pounds lighter makes sitting on his lap much easier…for both of us!

Yes, another Christmas is here during my year and a half weight loss journey! It’s hard to believe it’s been this long since I had my gastric sleeve surgery and three months since I had my hernia repair and tummy tuck surgery. December is always a busy month with activities and of course, food. It’s a good time for me to reflect on the presents I have received this year.

The best present I gave myself this year is maintaining my 105 pound weight loss. Some days I’m down more weight and some days I am up, but I stay in my “weight window” so I’m happy. I love holiday food, especially anything with peppermint, and I’m not going to give that up. Santa wouldn’t want me to, would he? What I do is moderate my peppermint intake. A tall skinny peppermint mocha is just as satisfying as a grande. Christmas cookies are lovely, but one is just as good as three, which is what I would have done in the past.

And to help with the increased eating of the season, I am keeping up my physical activity. Adding more walking into my day-to-day routine is so simple and so effective. Running is keeping me healthy both physically and mentally during the craziness of the holiday. My Christmas present to myself was new running shoes. To keep motivated, I signed up for my next race in January with my son. The fact I can run and now share this experience with my children is better than any beautifully wrapped gift from a store.

Christmas is just one day of the year and so much pressure is put on us to have an over the top day. I’m working on making it an enjoyable and loving day with my family and not trying to keep up with an over-idealized, pressure-filled day. My weight loss journey should be the same, I think. There is pressure to hit a certain number, whether it’s a number on the scale or a clothing size. In reality, my weight loss journey is about living a healthy, positive life. Being healthy physically and mentally is a gift I need to give myself all year long. I’m looking forward to re-gifting this every day!

Running Down the Scale

Here I am in 2012, 2013 and 2014 at the races! I love see how happy I am every year after the race.  And I'm happier that I look and feel healthier every year!

Here I am in 2012, 2013 and 2014 at the races!
I love seeing how happy I am every year after the race. And I’m happier that I look and feel healthier every year!

Last Thursday I ran my third Thanksgiving Day race. While my speed improves each year, I am most proud of my increased confidence in setting and reaching goals. Running is more than just exercise; it keeps me focused and motivated to keep living a healthy life. While I knew running would help in my gastric sleeve journey, I didn’t expect the many positive results it would bring.

My last two races were 5K races on city streets. My friend, N., and I decided to switch to another race in our neighborhood. It seemed like a great idea until I received the first email from the organizers. That’s when I noticed that it was a five-mile race not a 5K (3.1 mile) race. In the words of Scooby Doo, “ruh roh!” Not only was this race an extra two miles, but the course wasn’t on roads, but mostly through grass fields and woods. N. and I decided to do it anyway. What could go wrong?

My head told me there were many things that could go wrong! The race was only nine weeks after my abdominal hernia and tummy tuck surgeries. My incision was healing slowly and my abdominal muscles were sore and strained from time to time. I only started running four weeks before the race so I didn’t have much training or miles under my belt. I had every reason to back out of the race or at the very least change it back to the 5K race. Believe me, I thought about it often in those weeks preceding Thanksgiving. What kept me committed to the new race was one thought: all I have to do is finish. That simple phrase kept me training and made me show up on Thanksgiving morning with my turkey headband and running shoes on.

Here I am getting ready for the Thanksgiving 5-Mile Race!  I love that running on Thanksgiving has become a tradition.

Here I am getting ready for the Thanksgiving 5-Mile Race! I love that running on Thanksgiving has become a tradition.

All I really needed to do was finish the race to feel successful. I’m not a competitive runner…with anyone but myself. I only need to be competitive with myself. I ran two earlier races with hindering factors and I finished. If I could do the first race 100+ pounds heavier and finish I could do this new one. And last year, I ran four and a half minutes faster than the previous year with my abdominal hernia still intact and I finished. I could do this even if it meant I was the last person over the finish line.

But I wasn’t the last over the finish line! I finished with my best running pace ever. But more importantly I loved the race. There is an amazing energy on the starting line of a race, especially one with people dressed as turkeys and pilgrims! I lined up with the other runners and followed the lead runner dressed as a turkey though the course.

I managed to actually run the first two miles which surprised me. I am more of a walker/runner but the excitement kept me running. Throughout the race I ran when I could and walked when I needed. I finally realized there is no shame in walking. Many people were doing the same. Again, I kept in mind that I just needed to finish.

When I came to the three-mile mark, I had to make a choice. There was in fact a three-mile walk I could do or keep going to the five-mile finish. I came up on the literal fork in the road and chose the five-mile. I really wanted to finish five miles I decided. At that moment I realized I could do it!

I made it to the five-mile finish line with a smile on my face! Nothing feels better than accomplishing a goal that you set. Even though I had doubts up until race day and even in the beginning of the race, I kept going. Running is the perfect metaphor for my weight loss journey: do your best at your own pace and you can work through your doubts and fears. I never thought something as simple as running would give me such hope, joy, and confidence.

Another Thanksgiving Day run is done and the turkey headband is back in storage. My running shoes are not. I am already signed up for another run! This one is a 5K with my son in January. Am I worried about keeping up with my naturally athletic son? Yes, I am, but you know what I say to that…all I need to do is finish. Wish me luck as I keep running Down the Scale…

Taking off the Band-Aids

Halloween is much more fun now that I dress up with my kids!

Halloween is much more fun now that I dress up with my kids!  One of the many benefits of my gastric sleeve surgery!

In a panic last week I called my plastic surgeon’s office. My tummy tuck incision at six weeks appeared to be getting worse, not better. 45 minutes later I was half-naked in an exam room showing my Frankenstein abdomen to Dr. C. He took one look at one my incision and said “You have some delayed healing. I see this often in patients who have lost a large amount of weight.”

I braced myself for the bad news. I surely would need antibiotics, massive bandages or even surgery. He continued by saying “Just keep it clean. You can put band aids on it if you don’t want to stain your clothes.”

That was it?! Yes, it was. My fear was over nothing. The effects of being obese still haunt me and this delayed healing was one of them. Trust me, I’m glad I went to see my doctor even though it turned out to be nothing. What if it had been infected or what if I had needed some type of work done on my incision? Sometimes paranoia is a good thing, but fortunately it my case my concerns were normal.

I left Dr. C.’s office reassured and with band-aids on parts of my incision. Looking back, I realize those band-aids did more for me mentally than physically. The band-aids comforted me, but also kept me from seeing the ugly parts of my incision. Out of mind, out of sight as they say…

This week I also realized I was using another type of band-aid: food. The day-to-day stresses and some larger than life stresses are getting to me. Food once again was becoming a solution to forgetting my stresses and giving me instantaneous pleasure and comfort. My biggest band-aid was Halloween candy. Damn you, fun-size Snickers!

My regular weigh-in this week revealed the ugly truth of my food band-aid usage. I am at the top of my weight window. Not horrible, but another week of mindless eating and I am sure I would be over my designated weight range. So, it’s time to take off the food band-aid now! No more candy. Back to cooking healthy meals. More exercise. I can’t hide the stress and anxiety of life behind a band-aid anymore.

Now, I’m not saying all band-aids are bad. Just as the band-aids on my incision helped me work through my fear of my surgery progress, the food band-aid was useful for a bit. Sharing Halloween candy with my kids while in our costumes was fun. I just forgot to stop eating; I forgot the candy was a treat, not an everyday thing to eat.

Perhaps if I had taken off the food band-aid sooner I wouldn’t have to add “weight gain” to my list of stresses and anxieties. But that’s the past and I have time to get back in shape both mentally and physically. With the holiday season coming up, this band-aid lesson came at a good time. Band-aids are helpful, but they are always meant to be temporary. Hiding and brushing aside pain and stress can’t be done for long without consequences. I hope to remember to use band-aids sparingly as I continue to go Down the Scale…

The Line Drawn on my Abdomen…

A month has passed since my abdominal hernia and tummy tuck surgeries. How am I doing? Honestly, it’s bad. Honestly, it’s good. Yes, I’m a bit wishy-washy about how I feel about my surgery. Just as there are two sides to a coin, there are two sides to my recovery.

Let’s talk bad and get it out of the way. The worst part is that I feel like Frankenstein. I have a large incision from hip to hip. It’s pinkish with a few scabs here and there. At each hip, the incision is bumpy and ridge-like. My lower abdomen is swollen and my abdominal muscles hurt from time to time. Beneath my clothes, it’s just not very pretty.

Here I am about 3 weeks after surgery, out and about with my family.

Here I am about 3 weeks after hernia repair and tummy tuck surgery.  It feels amazing to have lost 105.5 pounds since my gastric sleeve surgery!

Since my surgery, I have been concerned that I was healing properly. I meet with both my hernia repair surgeon and plastic surgeon last week and I finally was reassured. Dr. J. said my hernia repair went well and I was in good shape. He gave me his approval to start moving more and to even run when I’m ready. Phew!

My meeting with Dr. C., my plastic surgeon, was even better. I disrobed and he took one look at what I considered to be my horrible stomach and said everything looked great. Really? I pointed out parts and he said the healing was all completely normal. The ridges on my hip incisions would settle in time. The incision was healing properly. He had no concerns. I had to laugh when he told me the scars would lessen in time and would be like my c-section scars. I actually never saw my c-section scars due to my large overhanging stomach!

My concerns lightened even more when Dr. C said I could be swollen for 9 to 12 months after surgery. Even with all my scars and swelling, I will admit I think I look pretty good right now…with clothes on. Considering how far out my stomach protruded before surgery, my stomach seems pretty flat to me. I am now excited to see how it will look a year from surgery.

More importantly, I feel good. The first few weeks, I was very achy and scared that I would be sore for a long time. A month later, I am sore at the end of the day, but I can get around much better! I’m back to walking my kids to school. Both doctors gave me approval to start running as long as I feel up to it, so I have committed to my third Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving. I don’t expect to run a personal best, but if I run any of it, I will be thrilled. I am just happy to get back to being the active person I became after my gastric sleeve surgery.

My surgeries were not the easiest procedures I have been through, but I don’t regret them one bit. Everything I do from surgeries, to eating better, to exercising, are all part of my overall plan to be a better me. Looking good on the outside is great, but feeling healthier and happier are the best rewards.