Tag Archives: bariatric surgery

Three Years and Counting: My Gastric Sleeve Anniversary Month!

The month of June means many things to people, like the start of summer, but for me it’s my three-year anniversary of my gastric sleeve surgery! I find that every year brings new challenges; surgery does not mean instant and constant success. On my three-year anniversary I find I am still working harder than ever to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This past year is full of successes and failures, so let me share what I’ve learned this year…

From 2013 to 2016, I've made many changes to my life through gastric sleeve surgery!

From 2013 to 2016, I’ve made many changes to my life through gastric sleeve surgery!

First, I’ll start with the failures. Well, maybe failure isn’t the right word, but at times my mistakes or missteps feel like overwhelming failures. First, I’ve gained weight this year. I’m up eight pounds from last year. It feels like I’ve gained a ton of weight, especially when I put on my jeans. Tight jeans are not fun nor comfortable. The fact I can put them on still is a relief, but at the end of the day, I can’t wait to get them off.

So what happened this year? A few things, but I must admit, I’ve had a bit of an invincibility complex.

Here are a few of my thoughts this year:

  • “Hey, I’ve maintained almost a 100+ pound weight loss at times, so I’ll get these extra pounds off in no time!”
  • “I’ll just eat a pastry with my coffee today, but not the next time.” Guess what I did the next time?
  • “I’ll just walk or run more and I’ll burn off those extra snacks I had today.”
  • “I’ve kept off 90 pounds, isn’t that enough?”

I always laugh when I read online about how gastric sleeve surgery is a short-cut and the easy way out. Well, I’m here to tell you that gastric sleeve surgery is not an easy lifetime fix. Sure, I lost over 100 pounds in a little more than a year, but weight loss still isn’t easy for me. I don’t mean to burst anyone’s bubble who is thinking about weight loss surgery, but I think it’s important to be honest about the reality of surgery.

Sure, my small stomach keeps me from eating too much at one time. I still eat smaller meals, but snacking is still a problem. And if I decide to treat myself with food like chips, I can eat more of that than I can something like vegetables or fruit. This year I’ve fallen into the trap of pretending that one little treat like chips or sweets really doesn’t add up. Um, yes, yes, it does!

This year it was like I had a Superman logo on my chest, but mine said “GSS” for gastric sleeve surgery. The sleeve is not a shield keeping me from food. It’s not a shield from the stress and depression I experience. Yes, food can be my Kryptonite, but unlike Superman, I can’t avoid it. I have to eat to live.

So since June 2015, I’ve told myself that the weight I’ve gained will come off easily when I get to it. Well, now that June 2016 is here and that hasn’t happened, I’ll call part of this year’s journey a failure.

It’s not a complete failure, though! While this weight gain is hanging around my neck, or actually it’s hanging around my stomach and thighs to be specific, I ‘m going to take this time to think of what has gone right this year. Yes, I feel like I do have some successes to share on my anniversary! Some highlights from this year are:

  • I ran a half-marathon! Yes, this woman who didn’t consider herself athletic three years ago, ran 13.1 miles… for fun! I followed a training plan and did it. Yes, I am very proud of myself! I set a goal to do it and I did it with the overwhelming help and support of my family and friends.
  • I sought help during the most stressful times. I found that acupuncture and therapy were two ways I could improve my health, both physically and mentally. There are times when you need people outside your family and friends to help you see the big picture and to work on ways to improve your health. There is no shame in asking for help when life get tough.
  • I didn’t buy bigger clothes. To some, this might seem like a strange success, but in the past, I would just buy larger clothes when I gained weight. Trust me, it’s easier to buy clothes than lose weight, but it doesn’t make you feel any better. I’ve been tempted to buy the next size up in jeans, but I won’t let myself. I know that I can maintain my current size with a little room to spare.

After having a year filled with failures and successes, where do I go from here? I think acknowledging how my failures have come about is the first and most important step in my continuing journey. I need to be accountable for the foods I eat and I’ve gone back to tracking my food on MyFitnessPal. I’m aware of what I’m eating, and more importantly, when I’m eating. Realizing that I’m eating when I feel stressed or bored, is helping me think about it. I’m saying no to sweets with my coffee and realizing that I’m just has satisfied without them.

Creating new goals is helping me keep a positive mindset which in turns keeps me healthy. If my mind isn’t occupied I tend to snack and be less mindful of what I’m eating. Last year my big goal was to run a half-marathon, but I’m not adding a full-marathon to my goals. I’m not that crazy…well, not yet at least. Here are some new goals I have come up with:

  • Write more! I keep saying I’m going to turn my blog into a book and that I want to write my first mystery novel. Well, no time like the present! I’ve learned that I need to separate my writing time from my “mom time.” Trying to concentrate at my house with all my “home responsibilities” is tough for me. I’m learning to get over the guilt of “me time” and learn to accept the help my ever-supportive husband gives me with a thank you and then head out the door.
  • Find new types of exercise! I will always run because I love it, but I know I need to try new exercises to help my body and mind stay healthy. I’m starting small with the seven minute workout app that features body weight exercises. This might be the year to add in yoga regularly or start Pilates. I’m open to new workouts, but I’ll never say no to a run.
  • Have more faith! What in the world does this mean? Well, when life is tough, I tend to feel it with every bit of my heart, head and soul. Sure, I make statements like “Everything happens for a reason.” and “It always works out for the best.”, and while I do believe it, I don’t always act like that. I can get depressed, stressed, and angry about things, many of which I can’t control. While I always pull myself out of this state, some times my feelings go on for too long. And I know this affects my health, especially when I use food to numb or comfort myself. I hope that writing, exercising, talking it out, and some good old-fashioned prayer will get me through the pain and stress faster, and hopefully, lessen these situations.

While it’s been a tough three-year anniversary, I’m thankful that I can share the ups and downs of my weight loss journey. Keeping off 90+pounds for these past years is a success and I remind myself of that every day. And I will also remind myself that losing weight isn’t a onetime moment for me. I will always have to work on my health; it’s just part of who I am. Accepting my shortcomings as well as taking pride in my successful traits, is an important part of my journey as I continue to go Down the Scale toward year four….

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A Good Reminder?

Normally when you get a letter from the DMV stating you can renew your license either online or by mail, you jump for joy.  I can’t think of anyone who enjoys waiting in those long, endless lines at the DMV.  So when I received my letter, there shouldn’t have been a doubt that I would avoid the DMV, but I haven’t renewed it just yet.  It’s all because of this photo:

Here is my driver license photo from 2011, pre-gastric sleeve surgery. Not a bad photo except for the extra 100 pounds I weighed!

Here is my driver license photo from 2011, pre-gastric sleeve surgery. Not a bad photo except for the extra 100 pounds I weighed!

 

This is me from 2011.  It’s obviously pre-gastric sleeve surgery.  It’s actually not a bad photo except for the extra 100 pounds I was carrying.  I can avoid the hells of the DMV and just live with this photo another five years.  So why am I even contemplating renewing my license in person?

Of course, it’s all about the photo.  It’s an upsetting reminder of the literal and psychological weight I was carrying.  Sometimes I forgot who I was back then.  I have many friends tell me that they just think of me as I am now:  healthy and happy, not the obese woman who hid so many painful feelings.  And on a practical note, it causes delays when I present this ID at the airport or for any type of verification.  I get a few raised eyebrows when I give my ID to someone, but I’ve just learned to smile and say I’ve lost weight to keep the line moving.

A new photo will represent the new me. The healthier and happier me.  I would say a new picture would show the person I am striving to be:  the woman who does her best to be treat her body and mind with the respect and nurture she needs.  I will always be a work in progress, but I think my current photos show me as the person I want to be and not just an obese woman.  Because let’s face it, when you look at a picture of someone who is obese, most people notice the obesity first, if they can even look past it.

Besides avoiding the DMV, why would I consider keeping this photo? Well, it’s a good reminder of how far I’ve come.  Yes, I am proud of my success, but honestly, I struggle every single day with food.  I am embarrassed to say I’m still struggling with the holiday weight gain.  I’m letting stress and fear get in my way.  I am working on it through exercise, positive reflection, more mindful eating, and a bit of good old-fashioned prayer.  Looking at my driver’s license photo is tangible proof of my success.  More importantly it’s a reminder of where I’ve been and gives me the encouragement to continue focusing on my weight loss journey.

I have about a week to decide if I should keep my current license photo or go get a new one.  Any thoughts, my readers?  One of the greatest parts of my journey is the encouragement and advice I receive from my friends, family and blog community.  I would love your opinions as I think about braving the DMV and continuing to go Down the Scale…

No to Resolutions. Yes to Re-Commitments

Yes, I’m saying no once again to New Year’s resolutions just as I did last year. As I shared last January, I feel like they set me up for failure. Why should the start of a new year require me to set goals? Of course I make goals all year long like running a half-marathon and decluttering my home. Instead of resolutions I decided to recommit myself to my weight loss/healthy living goals. It all started with resizing my rings.

Here I am with my properly fitting rings to start off the new year!

Here I am with my properly fitting rings to start off the new year!

What do rings and recommitment have to do with a healthy life? For me, resizing my wedding and engagement rings were the final piece of my weight loss metamorphosis. My big, loose rings were the last physical reminder of my obese life. I admit it was nice to have a reminder of how far I’ve come over the past few years since my gastric sleeve surgery. The rings spinning around on my slim fingers said to me, “See, you did it!”

But there was a part of me that was scared to have them permanently resized. I’ve lost and gained more weight in my lifetime than I can count, so thinking of myself at this weight permanently was daunting. No, it was frightening.

So for the past few years I put off doing it, which is really silly considering if I need to adjust my rings I could do it. For full disclosure, these aren’t even my original rings. I had my engagement ring reset to a different shade of gold and the wedding ring is a new one I needed when I gained my pregnancy weight the first time around. So even with that in mind, I still thought of the act of resizing my rings as the final commitment to my new life as a healthy woman.

Finally, I took my rings to the jewelery store. It was fitting that my friend, N., who was instrumental in me starting my journey three years ago, came with me. I slipped off my rings and handed them to jeweler who looked a bit confused by the size of them. I went from a size 8 ½ to a 5. Yes, even fingers lose weight! As I proudly shared my story with him, I knew I was doing the right thing.

I did panic though when I picked the rings up a few weeks later. They felt tight and restrictive. My face must have given away my fear as the jeweler told me to come back if they felt too tight. It reminded me of the day after my surgery, when I struggled to sip water and felt panicked about my decision. No one likes to second guess themselves.

No, I didn’t take them back. I would say they’ve loosened up, but I think it’s me who’s loosened up. It’s great to have rings that fit properly. And that’s how I feel about my healthy life now. It’s the right fit. I can’t imagine not being the person I am today. Sure, I still want to lose a few more pounds, run faster and handle stress better. I think most people are always striving to improve a little, or a lot. I know that I am healthier and happier than I’ve ever been in my life.

2016 is not the start of new resolutions, but a recommitment to the positive and healthy changes I made years ago. My perfectly fitting rings symbolize not only my commitment to my ever-supportive husband and the family we created, but to myself. They are a good reminder of the best commitments I choose. I will continue my commitments this year as I keep going Down the Scale…

Almost Famous

Jen Double Runner Magazine

Almost famous…OK, not really, but I am in my first magazine article!  Well, OK, I’m included in a picture in a magazine.  OK, I’m in a crowd in the upper corner of a photo, but I’m in there!

It’s not being in a magazine that makes me smile as much as the type of magazine it is…it’s a running magazine!  Who would have thought when I started my gastric sleeve journey that I would ever find myself included in a magazine that was all about running?!

This non-athletic over weight woman is now a healthy running woman and she couldn’t be any happier or prouder!  Yeah, me!

Thanks for letting me share my “15 minutes of fame” with you at 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.