Tag Archives: Before and After Weight Loss

Baby Steps Forward

MomandSonAfterRun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE PRESSURE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Quick 4 Year Update!

Jen20132017v1

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

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

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

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

Time to Go for the Distance

First 5K 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s In, What’s Out:  Elimination Diet & Training Update

Jen April 2017

A month after my elimination diet and new workout routine, I’m feeling strong! I’ve been on this weight loss journey for almost four years, and I’m happy to share that it keeps getting better!

Yes, I did it.  I survived a month on an elimination diet .  I managed to do this while starting a new workout schedule with a personal trainer.  Besides surviving and losing some weight, what are the results of the diet and training?  Here’s what I’ve learned:

*For a month, I avoided wheat, dairy, almonds and sugar.  Now that the month is over I’m adding a new food group for just three days and then waiting two more days to see if I can note any reaction.  So far, I added back in wheat.  The only response I’ve noticed is a bit of gas.  Not very ladylike perhaps, but not the worst reaction.  Will I keep wheat in my diet?  Maybe on occasion, but I didn’t particularly miss it.  When I reintroduced wheat-laden foods, I realized most of them weren’t healthy or particularly enjoyable.  I eat crackers mindlessly and that’s not good.  I stopped eating toast with peanut butter as a snack and switched to apple slices and sunflower butter.  As I test the foods I show a sensitivity to, I plan to be more mindful of how healthy that food is and if I really like it.

*Reading labels isn’t so bad.  In the beginning of the diet, I was thoroughly annoyed that I had to read every food label for items like sugar and almonds.  It made me realize, especially with sugar, that there are ingredients in foods that really aren’t necessary.  Bacon without sugar is just as good, if not better than bacon made with sugar.  I plan to keep buying sugar-free bacon as well as the vegan Caesar salad dressing I discovered.  If I keep sugar as just a “sometime food” as opposed to an everyday food, I know I’ll continue to feel better.

*Making meals from scratch is getting easier.  To eliminate sugar from my diet, I found it easy to make some foods instead of buying prepared foods.  Yes, it takes more work to make meatloaf than to throw a preseasoned meat in a crock pot, but I got into the hang of it.  My Pinterest food page has more recipes for me to draw from.  I’m still searching for new recipes, but I’m more confident in my cooking skills.

*I feel a bit like a cavewoman with the meat I’m eating, but that’s a good thing.  Since my iron was at 2 when the range is 10 to 232, I knew I needed to eat more iron in addition to taking supplements.  While I didn’t follow through on my nutritionist’s suggestion of adding liver to my meatloaf, I did eat more red meat than in the past.  I’m happy to share in a month my iron went up to an 8.  While it’s improving I did have my first IV iron infusion this past weekend.  It was really easy actually and I didn’t have any reaction.  I’m going for a second one later this week and we’ll see what happens from there.  My symptoms of itchy skin and fatigue are gone, so unless eating a certain food bothers me when I reintroduce it, I think my low iron levels were causing them.

*An elimination diet is more than just finding out which foods are causing issues, it helps reset your eating habits.  For me, this past month was a good reminder that I need to eat mindfully.  Making better choices like eating less processed foods and more whole foods is making me feel better, I’m sure.  Also, even if I’m eating healthy foods, I need to watch the amount.  Macadamia nuts are better than chips, but they still have calories, so you can’t eat them mindlessly. This month has been a bit of reset to my old ways of eating after I had gastric sleeve surgery and with my four-year anniversary two months away, it’s been a good reminder of how I need to eat to continue to be healthy.

*Along with the diet, I began working out with my trainer with the initial goal of improving my running.  Yes, it’s improved my running!  When I first started, H., had me run 1.5 miles for a baseline.  I ran that same 1.5 miles last Friday and I’m excited to report I did it without walking.  As I’ve mentioned in many blogs, I’ve been a runner/walker since I started my weight loss journey.  And let me say that I think there is nothing wrong with doing intervals.  If you’re moving, you’re doing great!  For me, I wanted to improve my pace and see if I could improve my stamina.  After a month of twice weekly workouts and a day or two of working out on my own, I’m excited to say I ran that same 1.5 miles without walking and beat my original time by 1:09 minutes.  I will never forget when I started the Couch to 5K program, my pace was 18:30 minutes per mile.  Four years later, my new pace is 12:07 per mile.  My body can do more than I ever thought it could!

*This brings me to one of the best parts of increasing and improving my exercise routine:  I believe I can do more.  I know that it was my mental block that was part of the reason I couldn’t run without taking a break.  While I’m working on my muscle memory (my body getting used to working out harder), I’m also retraining my brain to be more positive and open to changes.  I’m learning to trust my body when I exercise.  When my head and body work together, I can accomplish my exercising goals.  

So after a month of “dieting” and a new exercise routine, I am excited with all the changes I’ve made.  Sugar and wheat are mostly out, but in on occasion.  Mindful eating is in, but mindless eating is out.  Cooking is in, but prepackaged food is out as much as possible.  Exercise and working with a trainer is most definitely in, but doubting my abilities is out.  As crazy as this month as been, I’m glad I followed the elimination diet and new exercise routine.  I feel healthy, empowered, and ready to keep going Down the Scale…

Jen April 2017 Part 2

With the spring weather approaching, I’m excited to have my sunroof open and the ability to run outside! My weight loss journey continues as Spring arrives!

Let’s Get Uncomfortable

“You’ve become comfortable.”

Those important and truthful words were simply stated last week by my friend, N. She is one of my strongest supporters since I began my weight loss journey. She is also my most honest friend. She is brave enough to speak the truth even when I don’t want to hear it. That is the sign of a true friend.

“You’re right.”

Most people would consider this a "before and after" photo, but I like to think of it as a "before and my current state" photo. My weight loss journey continues to evolve as I strive to be the healthiest person I can be!

Most people would consider this a “before and after” photo, but I like to think of it as a “before and my current state” photo. My weight loss journey continues to evolve as I strive to be the healthiest person I can be!

That was my immediate response to N. When you speak without thinking, without filtering your spoken words, you know you’re sharing your truth.

Why did I agree I’ve become comfortable? Because I feel stagnant in my journey to become a healthy person. No, it’s not just about losing weight; it’s about physical and mental progress. For me, becoming comfortable can lead to falling, even jumping, backward. This is not what I want.

I’ve become complacent in terms of my physical health. The weight I gained over this past year is still here. I am used to it. And if I felt like this was where I wanted to be, that would be OK, but I don’t. I don’t like my tight jeans. I don’t like the new extra jiggle in my arms. When I’m honest with myself, I am not happy with my body now.

I’ve also eased off on my physical fitness. Having run my first half-marathon in May, I should set a new goal. I like having goals. I unabashedly admit I like to check off boxes on my own to-do list. I like something to focus on down the road. I’ve become too comfortable with running two to three miles twice a week and one spin class. While it’s great that I do have an exercise routine, I’ve been comfortable just keeping the same pace and exertion.

The biggest area I’ve become comfortable with is eating. Yes, my gastric sleeve stomach keeps me from overeating, but I admit I have been snacking more. The protein bars I claim to buy for meals have turned into candy bar snacks. It’s easy to slip back into poor eating habits. “I’ll starting eating less and drinking more water” is my new Sunday night mantra.

Now that I’m being honest with myself, what do I do next? Staying comfortable is not an option. I need to push myself to get over this plateau and stop the backward sliding into poor habits. I want to get to the next level of mental and physical fitness. This means being uncomfortable. It doesn’t mean forgetting where I’ve come from, though.  This just means reminding myself of the success I’ve achieved. I’ve come along way, baby! I’m maintaining a huge weight loss, exercising regularly, and, for the most part, eating healthier. Yes, I am proud of where I am, but I know I can do better. I can be better.

And this is what I’m going to do to get to the next level of health: I’m going to get uncomfortable:

*It’s time to weigh myself weekly. While I’m a firm believer that the scale isn’t the end all, be all of fitness, it does give me a tangible indicator of where my health is going. My blog isn’t called “Down the Scale” for nothing!

*Crank up the physical intensity. I already started last week at spin class by turning up the resistance on my bike. I ran faster and longer on this morning’s run. Sure, I was tired after each outing, but my head and body felt better. Pushing through the initial pain made me improve. I still need to come up with a tangible goal like last year’s half-marathon, but starting to challenge myself in my every day life is a good start!

*Back to eating mindfully. Snacking, for me, is a mindless activity. Snacking, even if it’s healthy food, is mostly done without thought. I do it for the instant gratification or to help ignore stress, pain or depression. I promise to take the time to think about why I’m eating. I know this will be the most uncomfortable step in my continuing journey. It’s easier to ignore my feelings by eating. That is my lifelong struggle.

When I began sharing my experiences, I thought I would have a definite before and after photo and story. Yes, I have before photos, but the after photos and stories are just landmarks on my personal map. Sometimes these landmarks are strong and majestic, but some times they are more weak and ugly. And by ugly I mean negative, unhappy and dull. They are not the places you want to stop at when looking at a map, but I’ve learned I can get through those places.

When I am complacent in taking care of my body, mind, and soul, I slide back into bad habits and negative thinking. It’s easy to be comfortable in the dark. Pushing out of the dark and into the light is hard, sometimes frightening and it is definitely not a straight line type of journey. For me, stepping forward after going backward is always worth it. Being truthful is hard! Here I go being honest as I seek out new, positive landmarks on my journey Down the Scale….

Keeping the Vacation Alive…

With my hat and shorts, I was ready to start Summer Vacation 2016! Being comfortable in my own skin is one of the best rewards of my weight loss journey!

With my hat and shorts, I was ready to start Summer Vacation 2016! Being comfortable in my own skin is one of the best rewards of my weight loss journey!

Another summer is winding down and it will soon be time to get back to the “real world.” You know, the world that includes a schedule, rules, and hard work for children and their parents. There is something to be said for a bit more structure in life, but I must admit I’ve really enjoyed the relaxed months of summer. Besides my children fighting with each other, this summer was full of days of “let’s see where the day takes us.” Our 12 day vacation to the East Coast was full of those kind of days. I also realized that for me it was full of really active days, which before my gastric sleeve surgery, wouldn’t have happened.

I decided to really enjoy this summer and not pressure myself about losing weight or exercising. Without this pressure, I realized I didn’t go too crazy with my bad eating habits and I kept active naturally. This is what happened on vacation:

*Food was enjoyable, but not the end all, be all of the vacation. Now, I’m not saying I didn’t look forward to every meal in New Orleans. It is an amazing place for food! I’ve learned to savor special foods and meals, but that doesn’t mean overindulging. One beignet gives me the same satisfaction as three beignets would in the past. Certain foods and drinks like pralines and Pimm’s Cups I only eat or drink when I’m in New Orleans so I know that it’s a treat. My weight loss journey has taught me to enjoy the treats because they’re special and not everyday food.

Here I am overlooking Jackson Square on my 7AM run in New Orleans. It was well worth the heat and humidity to run through this beautiful city. And the beignet at the end didn't hurt.

Here I am overlooking Jackson Square on my 7AM run in New Orleans. It was well worth the 80 degree heat and humidity to run through this beautiful city. And the beignet at the end didn’t hurt, either.

*I realized “formal” exercise on vacation can be fun. OK, full disclosure here…I only ran once on my trip. The only vacation I’ve run on was in May for the Tinker Bell Half-Marathon, so this was a big step! 7AM on a hot and humid morning, I was out there running through the French Quarter. It will go down as one of my favorite runs. Not that I ran fast or for very long, but on this run I really felt like a runner. What I mean is that I didn’t run for any particular goal, I ran because it felt good. I didn’t run with any music as I normally do; I took in the sights, sounds and some unfortunate smells from Bourbon Street. This run was also for research for the novel I’m working on, but I would do this run over and over just for the joy it gave me. And yes, I did end the run at Cafe Du Monde. I earned that beignet that morning!

*Nothing reminded me more of the success of my weight loss than being active. Now, I’m not talking about formal exercise, but just the fun activities you do on vacation. Walking around New Orleans in 90+ degree weather isn’t as draining as it was when I was obese. On one day, between running and touring the French Quarter, I went 8.5 miles that day. I would have been miserable if I had even tried that before my surgery; actually I wouldn’t have tried to cover that much ground. I try not to think about the activities and places I missed in the past when I wasn’t interested in being active. I am thankful I have the body and mindset to appreciate the places I get to go now as a healthy person.

*Letting go of my body issues means more fun, especially on vacation. I shared a few years back about how I’ve learned to wear bathing suits and sleeveless shirts without care, and this vacation I took this to heart. Yes, my thighs are wrinkly and flabby, but who cares? My arms aren’t full of muscles, but sleeveless shirts are comfy and look good! Now that I have a properly fitted swimsuit, I am out in the pool and beach with everyone else. Really, when you feel confident you look good, not matter what size you are. So there I was at the pool and the beach enjoying my time with my family, not thinking about how I looked. When the waves at the Atlantic Ocean knocked me over, I just pulled up my suit, brushed my hair off my face and went back to laughing with the people I love spending time with the most. Thank goodness I learned to appreciate my body for what it can do!

A visit to Florida isn't complete without a trip to the beach! Neither getting into a bathing suit or the big waves kept me from having fun in the surf with my family!

A visit to Florida isn’t complete without a trip to the beach! Neither getting into a bathing suit or the big waves kept me from having fun in the surf with my family!

There was one day in particular that summed up my new life as a healthy person. My fun-loving sister brought 300 water balloons for us to play with at my parents’ home. Yes, three adults and four children were going to have an epic water balloon battle. I shared with my sister that I wouldn’t have wanted to take part in something like this before my weight loss. When you’re obese, the thought of being in a bathing suit and running around is terrifying. I know three years ago, I would have watched from the sidelines, smiling at everyone else, but feeling sad that I wasn’t part of it.

As I ran around the yard, dodging water balloons and chasing everyone, I couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear. Well, first, I’ll admit it was really, really fun to throw water balloons at my children. While it will never make up for the years of watching Power Ranger at 5AM during their toddler years, it was satisfying to run after them during the battle. And I know they loved chasing their mom around knowing there would be no repercussions for dousing their mother with water!

If you want to feel like a kid again, start a water balloon fight! Running around after losing weight is so much fun!

If you want to feel like a kid again, start a water balloon fight! Getting to chase your kids with water balloons is the best therapy ever!   Running around after losing weight is so much fun!.

The battle was short, but oh, so, very sweet. I can’t think of a better example of how far I’ve come in my weight loss journey. I didn’t think about how I would look in photos, wearing a bathing suit and running around like a crazy person. I got out there and took part of a fun and special moment on our vacation. I didn’t let the fun happen around me…I was part of the fun! Being present and contributing to a happy moment in my family’s life was life affirming, as dramatic as that may sound.

Now that summer is ending, I hope I can keep these positive attitudes and actions as part of my scheduled life. When I want to eat another protein bar, I want to remember that sweetness and fullness that one beignet gave me. When I want to skip a run, I want to remember the joy and sense of accomplishment of running through the hot and humid French Quarter. When my kids ask me to play with them, I want to remember the silliness and fun of our water balloon fight. I can’t spend my entire life on vacation, but I know I can keep the spirit of it alive as I continue to go Down the Scale…