Tag Archives: Anxiety

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…

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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…

Going Down in Size and the Scale…

Two weeks after my incisional hernia repair and tummy tuck, and I'm up and going!

Two weeks after my incisional hernia repair and tummy tuck, and I’m up and going!

It’s been two weeks since I made another “investment” in myself. I’m recovering from my abdominal hernia repair and tummy tuck surgeries relatively well. I’m sore, tired and emotional, but I’m slowly getting back to normal. I thought this recovery would be easier than my gastric sleeve surgery, but I’m not sure that it is. The physical pain is worse and the emotional aftermath is more than I anticipated, but just as I knew my sleeve surgery was worth it, I feel the same way about this surgery. The past two weeks are just another part of my journey to a healthier me.

So, let’s go back two weeks ago. The ever-supportive hubby and I arrived at the same hospital in the morning. I was excited, nervous and dying for a cup of coffee. Not eating before surgery is easy, but no coffee is torture. I forgot my coffee desires once I went back to pre-op. This experience was easier than last year’s experience. Losing 100+ pounds makes an IV go in a lot easier and quicker!

The strangest part of pre-op was having my plastic surgeon, Dr. C., take a Sharpie pen to my body to mark the incisions and areas where he would remove the skin. The reality of my future body hit me. I would have a “normal” stomach. The reality of the future pain also dawned on me as I saw how much he skin he would be taking. To distract myself from that thought, I asked Dr. C if they would weigh the skin they removed. OK, I know it sounds gross, but wouldn’t you want to know? He promised me he would let me know.

Finally, I went in the operating room and I was out before I knew it. I’m not sure what my surfer-dude anesthesiologist gave me, but I went under quickly and I woke up in the recovery room feeling great. My nurse kept the good feelings going with a cup of delicious ice chips. My mood continued with Dr. C walking in. My hernia surgeon, Dr. J, finished his part first, so Dr. C was there to check on me and call my husband with the results.

Everything went well according to Dr. C. I was thrilled to have my hernia repaired, my intestines put back into place and the skin removed. Dr. C. gave me the number I asked for…three and a half pounds of skin and fat removed! Yikes! No matter how much exercise I did, I would have never worked that off my stomach.

Unfortunately my good mood faltered once I got to my hospital room. My poor roommate was in pain after whatever surgery she had and she didn’t speak English. She and the great nurses managed to communicate when her family wasn’t there, but it made for a chaotic setting. It did distract me somewhat from my own issues. The nausea set in as soon as I settled in my room. I do not handle the IV pain medication well. I must have had my own language issues because I couldn’t get the nurses to take me off it They would give me anti-nausea medication thankfully, but it made for a long night.

The next morning the hubby joined me at the hospital. Once Dr. C and J., Dr. J’s physician assistant come by and told me I needed to stay another night, I sent Dave home. I learned from my sleeve surgery that I needed to sleep as much as I could so Dave didn’t need to keep me company. Also, I felt better having him home with the kids. Much of my surgical anxiety comes from my children’s emotional well-being. Knowing Dave was with them helped me.

So, I was stuck another night at the hospital. I was not a happy camper. Just when I was resigning myself to another night of nausea and noise, an angel appeared. I didn’t think it would be in the form of a tall, slightly German accented man. This nurse happily took me off the IV pain medication. Nurse A was my hero! He switched me to a liquid painkiller, which even with its rock candy dipped in Kool-Aid flavor, was 100 times better. The nausea went away and the neon green lime jello was finally appealing.

When Dr. J and J, the physician assistant, arrived the next morning, I was sitting in a chair chatting with Dave. They smiled and said I looked like I was ready to go home. Yes, I was! Of course, it’s never that simple. I kept hearing that line from the song “Hotel California”, “You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.” Nurse E needed discharge papers from Dr. C and he was in surgery. Can I tell you how wonderfully persistent Nurse E was for me? She called, she texted and she kept calling until she received the discharge information. She and the hubby helped me get ready to go home which included finding an easy way to get dressed with my drains.

Yes, I was sent home with two drains, one near each hip. From what I understand, they are there to help with recovery, but I found them to be a huge pain and gross. I now have more sympathy for men and their external genitalia. These bulbous shaped drains were pinned to my shirt, but they bounced around and I was always worried about sitting on them.

Finally, I was home to see my babies! My ten-year old’s smile was beautiful and soothing. My six-year-old managed not to squeeze me like she normally does and it was her glowing smile that made me feel warm and fuzzy. And all the “pretty things,” like her butterfly nightlight and flowered shaped trinket box, she insisted on giving me from her room, kept the mood light.

So I was home with my spectacular family when the reinforcements arrived! My always thoughtful friend, N, organized a group of friends to help pick up my kids from school and bring dinner. We were spoiled by all the generosity and help. It was just another reminder of how lucky I am to have such a special group of friends.

Six days after surgery, my drains and many of my bandages were removed. I could finally see some of the results of my surgery. I think “Holy Sh*t” were my exact words the first time I looked in the mirror. I was shocked by my new stomach, in a good way. Although my incisions are Frankenstein-like and my abdomen is swollen, I can see that I am considerably smaller. Let the photos show you:

Here is abdomen on the day of surgery and two weeks after.  What a difference!  I can't wait to see what it looks like when my tummy isn't swollen and is completely healed!

Here is my abdomen on the day of surgery and two weeks after. What a difference! I can’t wait to see what it looks like when my tummy isn’t swollen and is completely healed!

Impressive, if I may so myself. I cannot wait to see what it will look like when I heal completely. I know I will never have the abs of a supermodel, but I don’t care! I just want to have a “normal” body.

So here I am healing and finally getting out and about. I am nowhere near 100%. I tire easily. I am very sore. My incisions itch now and then and they’re still gross to look at. I didn’t expect to be so emotional, but some days I am weepy. I think it’s because I feel a bit helpless and unproductive. In theory, it sounds great to lay around and rest, but after a while it is surprisingly depressing. I never thought I would have strong urges to get up and clean and organize my house. Who knew I would have laundry withdrawal?

Hopefully, these cleaning and organizing urges will be around when I’m allowed to resume normal activities. I’m listening to my surgeons and my personal doctor, Dr. Hubby. My ever-supportive husband is incredible. He is handling his normal responsibilities plus mine while taking care of me. Once again, I realize how lucky I am to have him as my partner in my journey.

Just as I took charge of my health in June 2013 by having gastric sleeve surgery, I am happy that I took charge once again and had the hernia repair and tummy tuck surgeries. Every choice I make that improves my health is worth any pain, depression and nausea if it gets to me to my final goal: being the healthiest and happiest person I can be.

One and a Half Pounds of Physical and Emotional Weight…

My first new dress in my weight loss journey!  And high heels too!  It was nice to feel confidant and comfortable wearing this on a "moms night out" evening.

My first new dress in my weight loss journey! And high heels too! It was nice to feel confidant and comfortable wearing this on a “moms night out” evening.

It’s hard to believe it has been 49 weeks since I had my gastric sleeve surgery. My total is 94.5 pounds which is good, but I have this one and a half pounds that keeps me going up and down the scale.  It’s not just physical weight, but emotional weight that is frustrating me. I have come to realize that emotional baggage can be as damaging and painful as the actually physical pounds.

I don’t want to be “Debbie Downer” completely. Physically I’m in pretty decent shape. I am still 17.5 pounds away from my goal, but my practical side thinks that’s OK. My perfectionist side is disappointed that I’m not at goal and that I haven’t lost 100 pounds. I know I look better as shown by the photo I’ve posted. I went to a moms night out and felt great. But you know even when I looked at a lovely photo of me with a few other moms, my first thought was “I’m the fattest woman in the picture.” Sigh. I need to get those thoughts out of my head. I worry that I will always think of myself as the “fat chick” even though I know I look “normal.”

So how am I going to get myself out of this “fat” mentality? Well, first I am going to take care of myself physically. I have an abdominal hernia from my c-sections that didn’t bother me in the past. I assume all the fat I carried around was supporting my muscles before, but now I am in pain from the hernia. I had to stop running because of the pain and I think it is keeping me from progressing in my weight loss.  It is also keeping me from the mental relief I get from running. I am trying to put the guilt of the time and financial burden this causes my family in the back of my mind. It isn’t easy, but I do have an appointment with my weight loss surgeon who can also fix this hernia next month. I promised myself that I will take care of this so I can move forward with my weight loss.

Another important promise I made myself was to get help mentally with the struggles I face as I lose weight. Part of the pre-surgery requirements was to be evaluated by a therapist. I felt very comfortable with the one I met and a few weeks I reached out to her for an appointment. Not being able to shove my feelings down with food has brought out higher levels of stress that I thought possible. I realized I need a professional to help me learn to cope with my stress in other ways besides eating. I have come too far in this journey to regain this weight. Mental and physical health go hand in hand and I need to focus on both. I hope to find a healthy and positive way to move forward.

So here I am at the crossroads. I’ve come so far yet I realize I will always be on this journey. Some days I don’t believe I deserve to spend this much time on me. The guilt of focusing on me haunts me. And while most of the time I feel supported by my family and friends, some times I still feel alone. But then I realize, if I don’t think I’m worth the trouble, how can they?

Yes, it’s time to get refocused on my journey and learn to appreciate the beautiful and amazing things that have happened. But I know it’s OK to admit defeat and reach out for help. Going Down the Scale (and yes, sometimes up) is full of drama, depression and chaos, but it is also beautiful, inspiring and full of hope. I look  forward to working toward hope…

My Weight Loss Journey: My Messy, Beautiful Truth

93 pounds gone in Week 44 of my weight loss journey!

Today’s blog is part of Momastery.com’s Messy, Beautiful Project. I am proud to share my gastric sleeve weight loss journey here at Down the Scale and now with other Warriors. In the Momastery community, everyone shares their truths – the messier the better. Life is Messy. Life is Beautiful. My weight loss journey is a perfect example of this philosophy. When I decided to take control of my obesity, I though I was searching for complete control and perfection in my life. What I really found is that losing weight and becoming healthy isn’t full of control or perfection. It is messy, painful and chaotic at times. But it is also rewarding, inspiring, loving and perfectly imperfect.

While my head knew that losing weight wouldn’t solve all my problems, my heart sure hoped it would. Being obese caused so many problems, but losing weight doesn’t solve them all. Sure, physically I am in the best shape I have been in as an adult. I enjoy exercising now. I can keep up with my kids at the playground. I can shop in the “regular” section at clothing stores. I don’t take high blood pressure medication anymore and I’m not pre-diabetic. Losing 93 pounds from my body is the best thing I have physically done for my body.

That’s not a messy part of life, is it? No, it’s pretty beautiful. What is messy are the mental hurdles I just assumed would go away with the extra pounds.

“If I’m thin, I won’t be as stressed as much.”

“If I’m thin, I’ll be popular and have tons of friends.”

“If I’m thin, I’ll be a better mom and wife.”

“If I’m thin everything will be perfect.”

Pretty crazy of me to hope for these things, isn’t it? I don’t think I’m alone in dreaming of an easy, perfect solution to my stresses and anxieties. And I know some people felt by having my gastric sleeve surgery I was taking the easy way out on losing weight. My smaller stomach does make physically losing weight much, much easier, but it doesn’t truly affect your brain, your heart and your soul. I can’t stuff my problems down with food now. I have to acknowledge them and deal with them. While my body isn’t working as hard to survive, my brain, heart and soul have to take up the slack.

Sounds messy doesn’t it? Yes, it is, but I was surprised to see the beautiful side of my perceived weaknesses and vulnerabilities. When I started blogging  with my post “The O Word”, I was terrified to put my feelings on paper for the world to read. Would anyone really understand how it feels to be obese? Would anyone relate to the shame and feelings of failure my obesity caused me? Would I be judged negatively for my solution to my overwhelming issues?

Here’s the beautiful part….I am understood. My family and friends rallied around me and showed me more love and support than I could have imagined. Mere acquaintances became huge cheerleaders in person and online. Strangers found me and became new friends. Suddenly, people who I thought were “perfect” shared their own struggles with me publicly and privately. My community grew and strengthened when I shared my story. I finally knew I was not alone. I realize my weight loss journey will never really end. I will always struggle, always be emotional and always worry if I’m doing “enough.” But that is OK. I think these weaknesses are really a sign that I care. I care about life, my family, my friends and most importantly, about me.

I realize now that striving for perfection isn’t the solution. I want joy, happiness and love in my life. And by sharing my messy, beautiful life with others, I am finding those things. Who knew a weight loss journey would help find not what I wanted, but I really needed?

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Which Change is the Right One?

Week 43 and down 92.5 pounds!  Time to make changes like exercising more to reduce stress!

Week 43 and down 92.5 pounds! Time to make positive changes like exercising more to reduce stress!

Week 43 is here and I am down a half a pound and I am grateful for it. A loss is a loss and it does bring my overall weight loss total to 92.5 pounds, so it can’t be bad. The last few weeks of the scale going up and down is making me think of the changes I need to make to keep motivated. Unfortunately, I am not very practical at times when it comes to changes and the past few weeks have been no exception.

Let me honest and share that I am the queen of “let’s make big changes…NOW!”. In many cases, this is actually helpful such as having gastric sleeve surgery. Having your stomach reconstructed to lose weight isn’t a small change, but it was the big change I needed to get healthy. After years of fighting my weight and living as an obese woman, I finally came to the conclusion I needed this drastic change to be the person I wanted and needed to be for myself and my family.

This change was necessary for me and I am very happy with my weight loss and my new healthy body. But…I’m bored. I still have much work to do on my body such as losing another 20 pounds, toning up and having my abdominal hernia repaired. I need to get excited about the next part of my weight loss journey, but my head and heart aren’t feeling it.

So instead of focusing on the next phase of my journey, this “big changes now!” queen was focusing on other things, most of which aren’t truly productive. We’ve considered moving to the suburbs so I focused on that for a few weeks. While it is practical and positive option for our family, I was using it to run away from my anxiety and stress of my life now. I am overwhelmed with finances, the kids’ activities, lack of social life, little time alone with my husband and my slow weight loss. Instead of working on each issue on its own, I tend to come up with grandiose solutions, like “let’s move and change everything!” While moving might eliminate some stresses, in reality it adds another set of problems and issues. I can see that now, but for a few weeks I focused on making a big change to escape my issues.

Don’t get me wrong, big changes can be productive and just what you need, but when I focus on them instead of what really is bothering me, it isn’t productive. I’ve put aside the “suburban solution” for now and think I’m ready to tackle each issue on its own. Yes, I said I think because quite honestly I am terrified to face many of these issues. I’m not sure how to deal with many of my stresses and anxieties since they affect others. Being a parent is the hardest job I have ever had and finding the balance between my needs and my family’s needs is something I struggle with every day. My other stresses, like finances and spending more time doing fun things with my husband and children, have concrete solutions so I know I can find the solutions I need for my anxieties.

No change can be good. Small changes can be good. Big changes can be good. I need to figure out which changes are right and when to make them. Since I don’t have a crystal ball, it’s up to me to decide what solutions will work for me and keep me healthy, happy and sane. Wish me luck as I get re-motivated to go Down the Scale…

The “S” Words

Week 40!  While the scale has gone up and down these past few weeks, I am putting on a smile and working it out!

Week 40! While the scale has gone up and down these past few weeks, I am putting on a smile and working it out!

Forgive me, blogging world, for it has been two weeks since I last blogged here at Down the Scale. The last two weeks have been “the ugly” part of “the good, the bad and the ugly” of my weight loss journey so I resisted writing. Time to get back on the saddle and share my story here at Week 40…

Well, you’ve probably guessed that I’ve gained weight so that’s why I haven’t blogged. Week 39 I was up a half a pound and yesterday I was up a half a pound for a total of one pound gain. This morning I am actually back down to a half a pound under my lowest weight, making my loss 90.5 pounds. But I’m a stickler for rules and since Tuesday is my official weigh in day, I’m going with yesterday’s number and making it officially 89 pounds down since I started this journey last June.

Yes, I have tons of reasons and excuses for this weight gain. I think there are two main reasons for this jump: sugar and stress. They’re the “S” words in my life.

Sugar is an obvious reason. The past two weeks have been a good reminder that my new stomach, my sleeve, is just a tool. No, I can’t eat the quantities of food I could before, but I still need to watch my caloric intake. Sugar sneaks in so easily and since I celebrated my birthday last week it was easy to see how it snuck in my diet. That is easily fixed; the birthday celebration is over!

I also realized I was going back to some old habits like drinking sugar coffee drinks like my old favorite, the non-fat white mocha. I love it, but it is definitely not worth the weight gain. Back to my skinny vanilla lattes!

Instead of going to get those sugary or even the sugar-free drinks, I got back into my walking and running schedule. It was my ever supportive husband, who while I was having a breakdown, gently asked when I ran last. I’ve been back to running and adding in more walks with friends. It has made a world of difference this week and again, it was a good reminder to go back to the basics of weight loss: exercising and eating right.

The other “S” word in my life is stress. And I really should be honest and say my stresses are truly “first world problems.” I am extremely fortunate to have an amazing life! My husband and children are my world and I have great friends and family. We live in a beautiful state, we have a roof over our head and we’re healthy and happy. So why the stress?

I think I feel this stress and anxiety so deeply because I care so deeply. Now, that’s not really a bad thing, but I haven’t really learned to temper the stress to realistic levels. The issues I deal with wouldn’t seem so bad to other people and I’m sure some of my friends think I’m crazy about the things I worry about. I just am always thinking that I’m going to disappoint my family or the people around me. It’s usually about something that I can’t completely control such as dealing with a group or person. While I have tried and occasionally succeed in extracting myself from an unhealthy situation (for me), I can’t always do that. I end up feeling out of control and guess what I can control…my eating habits.

So in theory, I should control my eating habits by eating healthy, right? Instead I try to comfort myself and numb myself with unhealthy food. I realized what I was doing the past two weeks when I finally admitted that I was eating more than usual, especially sugar. I let anxiety, stress and depression control me. Obviously that’s one of the main reasons I became 100+ pounds overweight.

They say talking about your problems is the first step to solving them, so I hope that putting this out there is my first step. I am very proud of the progress I have made so far in my journey and I need to remind myself of all the positive changes and progress I have made this year. I hope, no, I WILL tackle my stress issues so that I will be healthy both physically and mentally. Time to kick the “S” words to street and keep running Down the Scale…