Tag Archives: Anxiety

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…

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Sharing the Good After Sharing the Bad…

When I post a blog entry like last week’s From Shame to Hope, I always worry about how it will be received. I seem to forget that every time I share a difficult situation I’m having in my weight loss journey, I always feel better afterward. By sharing my experience, I feel a huge sense of relief. Being honest is difficult, but so rewarding. And let’s talk about all the support and encouragement I receive from family and friends. It’s a good reminder that once you share your problems, you are not alone.

Here I am wearing my new workout clothes while hiking on a different route with a great friend! Changing up my routines is doing wonders for my gastric sleeve journey!

Here I am wearing my new workout clothes while hiking on a different route with a great friend! Changing up my routines is doing wonders for my gastric sleeve journey!

In last week’s blog, I came up with some plans to get out of my funk. What I found was that changing things up really worked! Here’s what I did:

*Acupuncture! I thought it was time to approach my health in a different way. I had a short, but pleasant experience at my sister’s wedding last spring. I kept thinking I should try it and one of my biggest supporters, N., has told me for months about her acupuncturist.  I finally went to her last week and what a great session! The doctor was informative and calming. No, the needles didn’t bother me at all. The hardest part was relaxing for 25 minutes! I am going back this week. I think coming at my stress and weight gain from a different angle will help me immensely.

*New Workout Clothes! Once I committed to running about three years ago, I made sure to buy nice workout clothes. I figured if I wanted to be a runner I should dress the part. Once again my friend, N., helped me this week by taking me to Lululemon for the first time. I’m not sure I would have gone on my own as a store that sells nothing larger than a size 10 still intimidates me. N., my personal fashion consultant found (on sale!) a new pair of running Capri pants and my first running skirt. She assured me that I’m not too old for ruffles on my booty, so I bought the skirt with my Tinker Bell Half Marathon in mind.

*Apple Watch! Yes, this was a huge splurge. It’s an early anniversary present from my amazing hubby. Trust me, its way more romantic of a gift than flowers! I ran with a Garmin watch before, but recently started looking into a FitBit as I wanted to track my overall health. Fortunately, I have an extremely tech-savvy husband who did the research for me. He concluded that an Apple Watch was the best investment. Who I am to argue? I love seeing my walking and running stats. I love that it reminds me to stand up and move around every hour. I also like that it connects to MyFitnessPal so I can easily track my exercise along with my food intake.

OK, by now you’re thinking, “Jen, you’re spending a lot of money to get out of that funk!’ Trust me, the spending, or the monetary investing of my health, is done. And while all these purchases have helped, I also made “free” changes this week like:

*Food journaling! Yes, I hate it, but it really does help. I’ve decided to track my food on Monday through Thursday to start. If my weight loss continues, I think this will be a less stressful tool. MyFitnessPal does make it easier to track my diet and helps me be aware of my mindless snacking.

*Changing up my exercise routine! Each week I make plans to meet up with one or two friends to exercise with. Sometimes it’s running, some times it’s walking. I will learn how to run and talk at the same time! I’m also changing up my program by extending my exercise time, adding stairs, and changing my routes to keep inspired and challenged.

*Positive Mindset! This is the most important change I’ve made this week. Some days you just have to scream at yourself (OK, in your head, not aloud) and say “You’ve got it pretty damn good!” To have a loving family, supportive friends, and a healthy body and mind shouldn’t be taken for granted. Sometimes you just need to step back and look at yourself from the outside.

I’m happy to share that all these changes helped me lose three pounds this week! I am thrilled with the weight loss and the positive changes I made this week. Yes, I’m out of my funk and heading back Down the Scale…

From Shame to Hope…

If I was on Sesame Street today’s letter would be “S.” I wish it stood for success, but it stands for shame. Let me say SHAME in all capital letters. I am full of shame, disappointment and frustration. No pretty words are coming out of my mouth.

I think this photo shows a happy person and that's what who I intend to be as my gastric sleeve journey continues....

I think this photo shows a happy person and that’s what who I intend to be as my gastric sleeve journey continues….

The reason for my shame is that I’m finally admitting I am struggling with just about everything in my life. I feel like a compass with broken needle. I can’t seem to find any sense of direction. I take that back, I am going in one direction: up, as in up the scale. I guess this is my rock bottom when it comes to my journey for 2015. I’ve been in worse places and I have definitely carried more weight on my body and soul, but now I am at the bottom of a very large hill.

What brought on this overwhelming sense of shame? It’s been building for a while. A pound here or there in the summer was easy to brush aside. It’s summer! Ice cream for everyone! “I’ll stop the treats when summer is over,” I promised. Nope, that didn’t happen. I switched from ice cream to baked goods. What’s a piece of banana nut bread now and then? Just one or two cookies won’t hurt I convinced myself. I broke my rule of keeping treats as treats and not making them an everyday food.

I gave myself all kinds of reasons why I was snacking more. Stress, anxiety and feelings of worthlessness keep popping up. Some issues are self-manufactured and some came from the usual day-to-day drama. My brain tells me that it’s my choice to let pain and disappointment rule my behavior, but my heart just wants me to have peace.

For all my life, food is the peacemaker. Food doesn’t judge. It gives comfort, but it doesn’t offer solutions. It causes more problems. Logically I know this, but for as practical of a person I am, I still battle “the food as comfort” solution to my problems.

So here I am at rock bottom with my bathroom scale. I have not recorded my weight since June 5, 2015. Oh, I knew my weight was increasing, but if you don’t write it down it doesn’t count right? Today I was up 8 ½ pounds since June. Yes, almost 10 pounds. I was too ashamed to even cry. And when I realized I’m 13 pounds above my comfortable weight window, I was too stunned to step off the scale. Then the anger set in. The berating began. “How did I do this to myself? All the work and money spent and this is what I’ve done? I am a disappointment to myself, my family and friends!”

No, this story doesn’t end on a negative note. Yes, I’ve screwed up. Can I fix it? Hell, yeah! If I lost 100 pounds and made myself into a healthier and happier person, I can do it again. Fortunately life is all about second chances. Well, in the case of my weight loss journey, it is full of infinite chances. The positive spin on all this is that I can take control of my health once again and it should be easier in some respects. I know how to eat healthy. I know to stop buying my trigger foods. I know to exercise for the benefit of my body and soul. I know all this. I just have to believe.

And so begins the climb out of my weight gain and general life funk. It’s never easy in the beginning. Today as I laid on my bed to zip up my very snug jeans, I thought to myself, “You can fix this!’. As I ate a granola bar mindlessly when I wasn’t hungry, I though to myself, “You can fix this!”.

Here are some ways I plan to fix it:

*Tracking my food. I’m back to using MyFitnessPal. I hate keeping a food journey, but it really does work. Seeing what I”m eating really makes me think.

*Exercising in different ways. Normally I run alone, but I recently started to run with friends. It’s challenging, but it pushes me to keep up my pace, learn to chat as we go and most importantly it proves a much-needed therapy sessions.

*Find other outlets for my stress. Exercise is a great way to relieve depression, but I need other activities. I’m reading more when is a great distraction. Oddly enough, decluttering my home is lessening my anxiety. Accomplishing any task just feels good to this goal-oriented woman.

I know that writing more will help lift me out of this well of weight gain despair, too. That’s why I finally decided to share my shame. I’d love to be the poster child for gastric sleeve surgery, but I’m not. I haven’t come close to the goal I set before I had surgery. I don’t need to be perfect when it comes to my journey. I just have to keep trying and stay healthy.

I will own my shame. Yes, today’s letter is “S”, but I have decided that tomorrow’s letter is “H” for hope. I have two choices: to continue down a self-destructive path or to make positive changes. I have persevered before and I can do it now. By admitting and sharing my current struggles, I know that I can let go of this shame. I will let hope fill its place in my head and more importantly, in my heart.

Taking a Break from the Numbers

Lately it feels like the song “Under Pressure” is the soundtrack to my weight loss journey. My weight is up a few pounds. My running pace is slow. I ate a lot of sugary and fatty foods while on an out-of-town trip. My to-do list is longer than the hours in the day. The pressure to get everything done along with losing weight is overwhelming at times. It’s so daunting some days that I don’t feel like giving much, if any, effort.

Here I am running on the Golden Gate Bridge for fun, not for speed or distance!  My 100+ pound weight loss sure makes it easier and fun to exercise!

Here I am running on the Golden Gate Bridge for fun, not for speed or distance! My 100+ pound weight loss sure makes it easier and fun to exercise!

“What to do, what to do?!”, I keep saying to myself. Giving no effort to my responsibilities isn’t the answer. The answer for now is for me to take a break from the numbers. By this I mean to stop evaluating and determining my success by the scale and my running watch. As I said in a blog post from last year, “The Scale is Not the Be-All and End-All in Weight Loss.” Since I’m struggling right now I think it’s a good time to remind myself of that and also put other numbers aside.

To do this, I’m putting my scale away for a bit. I will need it soon, but now I feel anxious just looking at it. I swear it’s taunting me. It’s going to come alive like one of those “Chucky” dolls any day now. Maybe that’s being a bit melodramatic, but if an inanimate object is starting to control your life, it’s time to step away from it.

Honestly, I really don’t need the scale to tell me I’ve gained weight. By the fit of my clothes I know when I’m up a few pounds. My clothes still fit, but some pieces are a little tighter than others. As long as I can wear them without busting a button or flashing those around me, I know I’m within my weight window. I’d like to blame the dryer on the tightness, but since I do the laundry, I know the clothes haven’t been shrunk.

I also know the scale will show a weight gain when I think about the food I ate over the past few weeks. Eating salty and sweet treats without thinking about it simply means I will gain weight. No ifs, ands or buts (except my increasing butt size) about it. When I eat mindlessly it’s easy to slip into my previous bad habits. I don’t need the scale to see the results of eating poorly: my short (OK, shorter) temper, my exhaustion, my acne spotted face, and my unmotivated attitude are all signs of an unhealthy diet.

Besides the numbers on the scale, my running watch data is causing me stress. Lately, I’ve caught myself looking at my watch more often to see my mileage and pace. I’m not sure why it took me this long to realize it’s distracting me from my runs. If I’m focused on the numbers on my pretty pink Garmin watch, how can I enjoy my run?

I decided to keep wearing my watch as it is helpful to see the data, but only after I’m home. On today’s run I didn’t look at my watch until the end of my run and it was wonderful. Since I wasn’t worrying about my speed or distance, I ran up steps and hills. I even ran halfway over my beloved Golden Gate Bridge just because I wanted the view. I knew my pace would be slow, but I challenged myself in other ways and that was more satisfying than a fast pace.

Now, I’m not saying to throw out your scales and running watches. Actually, numbers are essential, I feel, in evaluating my overall success. I just know that I need a break from the numbers for a bit. Hopefully, just getting back to the basics like mindfully eating and exercising for fun will take some of the pressure off. I hope that when I’m ready to get back on the scale the numbers will be better. If not, it will be time to track my food and add more exercise to my life. I think that stepping back is what I need to do to maintain a healthy lifestyle right now and eventually go back Down the Scale…

My Happy Surroundings

Here I am with my writing practice inspirations:  my journal and coffee!

Here I am with my writing practice inspirations: my journal and coffee!

This past weekend I went to a writing seminar. Not only was I inspired to create a writing practice, I was reminded that I had already created a weight loss practice. It’s this routine that I developed after my gastric sleeve surgery that is keeping me healthy and happy.

The writing instructor shared many helpful and insightful writing information, but one hint he shared really struck home. He mentioned he liked to keep one of his favorite books on his desk when he writes. His favorite author inspires him. Sometimes he reads from the book to get ideas, but not to copy. It reminds him of different aspects of writing such as structure, word choice, etc. Surrounding himself with his inspirations and influences keeps him writing.

As he told this story, I realized I am already doing this with my weight loss journey. Since my surgery, I made the conscious effort to make my surroundings healthy. I believe it is one of the biggest reasons for my success. What are these positive things I surround myself with? The first is food. Out with the bad, in with the good. Soda, junk food, fatty food had to go.

No, I’m not an angel by any means. As I write, a pan of chocolate drizzled rice crispy treats are in my kitchen. They are leftovers from the ones my daughter took to a school event. Am I going to have one today? You bet! It’s a treat, not a regular food choice. The rest of the my food choices today will be healthy, especially when I know that large amounts of sugar make me ill. I am surrounded by better food so that what I choose now is what I truly want.

Exercise is another positive aspect of my life. When I don’t move, I am cranky. Trust me, I know I am. Even if I’m just walking my kids to school I am a happier woman. Now running is a passion. I’m still a solo runner, although I am getting closer to running, and hopefully chatting as I run, with friends. I really enjoyed the 5K races I completed. Even though I’m not running and talking with people during the race, I am inspired being with people who are putting themselves out there. Whether these people are competitive runners or determined walkers, they give me a sense of affirmative energy that I love. This is one of the reasons I signed up for another 5K race less than a month after my last race. When you find something that makes you happy, you keep reaching for it.

This leads me to the third thing that makes my surroundings healthy: choosing positive people to keep in my life. Naturally, I can’t control who I am in contact with 100% of the time. I have learned it’s OK to keep my interactions with negative people to a minimum when possible. I am a firm believer that positivity breeds positivity. When I’m with people who are interested in me, who encourage and support me, and see the light and humor in life, I feel better about myself. Hopefully I offer the same to my family and friends. I don’t believe a person needs to be perky and positive all the time, but if your first thoughts are always negative, how can you let in positivity? I continue to struggle with anxiety and depression and I know I always will since life is full of family drama, financial issues and just plain old unhappiness. I feel like I handle these struggles quicker and better because I have a positive, strong network in place to help me in my continuing weight loss journey.

I will take my writing instructor’s advice to surround my writing environment with things that inspire me. For me this means a cup of coffee, my journal and stacks of books that I love and ones I want to read. To lose weight and maintain my mental and physical health, I surround myself with good food, exercise and positive people. I plan to apply my positive weight loss environment method to my writing practice and hopefully other areas of my life. I look forward to a successful writing practice and healthy lifestyle as I continue to preserve my happy surroundings!

The Year Without a Resolution

It’s that time of year when many people make a New Year’s resolution. This year I’m not one of those people. I made a conscious decision not to make any resolutions for 2015.

Yes, I'm the woman who is not making a New Year's resolution!  My weight loss journey still continues though!

Yes, I’m the woman who is not making a New Year’s resolution! My weight loss journey still continues though!

For someone on a weight loss journey I’m sure this seems strange. Isn’t setting goals part of the process? Don’t I need concrete goals to keep focused and motivated? Yes, these things were true when I started my journey after my gastric sleeve surgery. To become healthy I had to commit to eating properly, exercising and maintaing a positive mental outlook. These were my resolutions for my gastric sleeve surgery new year back in 2013.

So if I made those resolutions in the past, why wouldn’t I make them again? There is always room for improvement. I’m still five to ten pounds away from my original goal. I want a faster running pace. I could definitely deal with stress quicker and easier than I do. I could go on and on with new goals for this year.

Why not make them again for this year? The first reason is I don’t feel the need to make these same resolutions because there are now a part of my normal routine. Eating healthy is how I eat every day. OK, most of the time. No one is perfect. And for the safety of humanity, there are days I must have chocolate.

Exercising is now the rule than the exception. In the past, exercising was a chore.  Now running makes me happy! Walking and running are just part of my day-to-day activities. I am so glad that being active is easier, fun and just part of my life.

Maintaining a positive outlook is probably the most challenging resolution I made a year and a half ago. Stress, depression and anxiety all rear their ugly heads in my life. I think I handle them better now than I did before my weight loss journey began. The scale and my more frequent smile I believe are a testament to that.

My second reason for not making any 2015 resolutions is that I’m just plain tired of making them! I have set them for over 30 years. Since my pre-teens, I struggled with my weight and each new year brought a spark of hope and then a year’s worth of disappointment. I pressured myself each year and now I feel I deserve a break. Time to be patient and loving to myself!

Not making New Year’s resolutions doesn’t mean I’ve given up on losing weight or making physical and mental improvements. This just means I’m not going to pressure myself. I will still track my weight weekly and be aware of my chocolate consumption. If I find either or both go up, I will take action. I don’t want my weight loss journey to end, but I hope that by not pressuring myself I will learn to relax and enjoy my success and new lifestyle. I’m excited to see where this New Year takes me in my journey 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…