Tag Archives: Confidence

Are We There Yet?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Embracing Sleeveless and Other Things I’ve Learned…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Running for the Win

Many changes have happened from my first 5K in 2012 to my first 10K in 2015!

Many changes have happened from my first 5K in 2012 to my first 10K in 2015!

My almost two-year gastric sleeve journey brings so many rewards. Better physical and mental health are the biggest rewards naturally. After completing my first 10K race this weekend, though, I’ve realized the best reward really is the confidence and pride I have in myself. All it took was running 6.2 miles to get this through my thick head.

When I signed up for this race I admit I was a bit cocky. I ran my last 5K race with my best time ever so I figured it was time to push myself. So what if my pace was still pretty slow and that I still walk and run? I found a 10K race set for about two months later. Perfect! I would be ready and confidant.

As the weeks passed, I started to reconsider my decision. My hamstrings and shoes were bothering me. I missed a week of running due to a cold. Excuses, excuses, I know. I got over my cold and went right to the store for new shoes. I was back on track.

Well, until I looked at the race course. I picked this race because it included running over the Golden Gate Bridge, but in my excitement I forgot I would have to go up hills to get to the bridge. Oops. So with two weeks until the race I added hills into my training. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t fast. “I am going to die” kept going through my mind as I stumbled up hills.

While I was nervous up until the race started, I did manage to keep my mantra in mind: “all you have to do is finish.” Before every race my 7-year-old tells me she hopes I win and I always tell her I’m running to finish, not to win. This past Sunday when I said it I realized I actually am trying to win. I’m trying to beat my previous pace, but really I’m trying to beat my doubts, my lack of confidence and my fear of failure.

So, how did the race go? The first quarter-mile was a lovely start and then the first hill appeared. I braced myself to be passed by “real” runners, but it didn’t happen. Yes, some people were running, but others jogged up and some even walked. Woo-hoo, I wasn’t the only runner/walker! It was a huge relief to know I wasn’t alone in my running method.

Before I knew it I made it to the Golden Gate Bridge. My Facebook friends know from my photos that I have a slight obsession with this bridge. It’s beautiful, spectacular and iconic and I can never get enough of it. To run over it and back was the highlight of the race. It was difficult to navigate at times as the walkway isn’t wide, but when I turned my head to take in the view, it took my breath away…more than the running. I couldn’t help but smile as I ran over the bridge. I’ve lived off and on in San Francisco for over 20 years and this was the first time I ever ran on the bridge.

The bridge is 1.7 miles each way and while it was amazing, the crowds, inclines, and staircases made it difficult at times. I am still getting used to confined spaces and the lack of personal space in races. I was bursting with pride when I stepped off the bridge, but self-doubt tried to creep back in. I paused for a second as I realized I had about two more miles to go. As if on cue, my ever-supportive husband texted me. I laughed and regained my confidence as I scanned his text and saw the words “Pull yourself together! What will you do? Is this a question?” It’s from my favorite Pixar character, Edna Mode from The Incredibles. Hearing hearing her voice and thinking of my husband’s support, got me back on track.

Well, until the last mile when my hamstrings ached and I calculated that I wouldn’t make my goal of finishing in 1 hour and 15 minutes. My spirits dipped and I considered just taking it slow, but I was able to brush off the negative attitude and kept going. I couldn’t finish in 1 hour and 15 minutes, but I could make it in 1 hour and 20 minutes and so I did!

Pancakes and beer with a gorgeous view after the race!

Pancakes and beer with a gorgeous view after the race!

Crossing a finish line never felt so good! The pancakes, sausage and beer breakfast afterward was the best meal I’ve had in a long time. I sat down on Crissy Field with my breakfast and new race t-shirt and stared at the bridge. I sipped my beer and smiled as I then and there decided I really had won the race. I pushed aside my doubts. I kept believing in myself. I came out a winner.

Pushing myself out of my 5K comfort zone into a 10K unknown experience was just what I needed for my continuing weight loss journey. While I’m all for comfort and stability, I know that I need challenges and goals to keep motivated and inspired. While I’m learning to enjoy where I am in my life, I know that I need to push my boundaries and limits from time to time.

I’ve also come to realize that disappointments and failures will come along with the successes. While at times I think of my slower pace and my run/walk style as failures, deep down I know they aren’t failures. Change and growth aren’t always comfortable, but for me they are well worth it. If you told me 3 years and 100+ pounds ago, I would run in a 10K race over my beloved bridge, I would have laughed and said, “Oh, no, not me.” But here I am the winner of my own personal race. Now, that is winning, isn’t it?

The Latest Balancing Act

Here I am about a year and a half into my gastric sleeve journey and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s one big balancing act. I feel like I’m a kid playing on a teeter totter by myself. I’m always trying to find that sweet spot on it. There’s a thrill when I’m out of balance, but what I really want is the joy of being in the middle with a sense of control.

JenFeb2015

I will admit I am more confident having my picture taken now that I’m 100+ pounds lighter. While we did take a family photo with Thor at Disneyland, I wanted one alone with him. Who wouldn’t?

What am I trying to balance these days? In the beginning of my journey, it was relatively easy to keep balanced with my success and failure. With the weight coming off quickly, I was motivated and excited. People noticed and complimented me regularly. My body, my mental state and my spirit were constantly changing. Although the journey was difficult and at times I stalled or doubted my abilities, I was always changing for the better.

Now that I’ve maintained the same weight for six weeks, I’m happy and disappointed. I’m still about nine pounds away from my initial goal weight. I feel sad, but I also feel healthy and strong at this weight. I’ve gone from a size twenty-two to a size ten so I really can’t complain…but I really want to be size eight. I can run faster than ever, but I still do a combination of running and walking. I am in the best shape of my life, but some days all I see is flab and stretch marks.

So I find myself balancing success and disappointment. I wonder, though, wouldn’t it be OK to just learn to enjoy where I am right now in my journey. Isn’t it all right to be happy with what I’ve done so far? Isn’t it enough?

Perhaps it is enough, but I worry that thinking that way will make me complacent in maintaining my health. Because that’s my usual modus operandi. I’ve achieved weight loss goals many, many times in my life…for a short time. In the past, my success was always short-lived as I let any type of real or perceived crisis, depression or even happy events like my pregnancies disrupt my healthy path. The weight would always come back as I would just give up until the next time. The cycle always continued. I am terrified of this happening again. But I’m also exhausted of stressing about my weight. How do I balance this fear with the joy of being a continually healthy person?

My first plan of attack is to add new goals that will help maintain my weight loss. I really enjoy running 5K races so my new goal is to run a 10K race in April. I hope this new goal will inspire me to keep up my running program and add in other exercise like yoga to keep fit. I also think making reasonable goals is important. Jumping from 5K races to marathons would be foolish on my many levels, but mostly it would be setting myself up for disappointment and failure.

An important part of my continuing success is setting new, realistic goals. Losing so much weight so quickly was amazing and made me feel very powerful. The new achievements I reach for aren’t going to be quite dramatic and I need to be OK with that.

I also need to find a sense of accomplishment and success outside my weight loss journey. Just as I learned I could be and needed to think of myself as more than a mother and a wife, I need to learn that I’m more than just a person who lost 100+ pounds. I’m still working on this. I hope that writing will give me the sense of power and pride and perhaps even become a career. I’m sure I can find many other goals. It’s time for me to try, isn’t it?

It’s back to the teeter totter I go. Learning to be proud and content with my success and learning to strive for new goals is my new balancing act this year. Although I’m not going “down the scale” literally any more, I know that I have much more to accomplish in my life.

Running Down the Scale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learning to Wear a Bathing Suit…

You didn't think I would post a picture of me in a bathing suit did you? Well, I'm gaining confidence with my body, a swim suit photo isn't going to happen!  A cute hat and swim suit cover up go a long way in giving a girl confidence, though!

You didn’t think I would post a picture of me in a bathing suit did you? While I am gaining confidence with my body, a swim suit photo isn’t going to happen! A cute hat and swim suit cover up go a long way in giving a girl confidence, though!

Yes, I really did title this week’s blog post as “Learning to Wear a Bathing Suit.” Don’t worry, I do know how to put one on, but before my gastric sleeve surgery, I wasn’t happy to wear one. First of all, finding a plus size bathing suit is difficult especially when you’re cursed with a large chest. After I would find one, I would have to squeeze my body in it and then go out in public. It was difficult, depressing and scary when I did this, especially when I would go swimming with my kids. Now that I’ve lost 95 pounds (yes, I keep fluctuating with these two pounds, but that’s for another blog), bathing suit season is easier, but it still comes with its own struggles.

First of all, finding a bathing suit was much easier this summer. I could finally buy one with a built-in bra in my actual size. Having my breasts actually supported and somewhat covered is liberating, so to speak. I’m not as worried when I’m splashing around the pool or walking around. Wearing a bathing suit that fits and is stylish is a huge bonus after losing weight.

So, what do I mean about learning to wear a bathing suit? I mean, even though I am not obese, I still have issues with my body. The parts of my body exposed in a bathing suit are not my favorite parts. A bathing suit shows off my flabby arms, my wrinkly thighs and my lumpy and protruding stomach. I was so excited to try on my normal size bathing suit, but when I looked in the mirror I just about broke down in tears. My body still shows the wear and tear of being obese. Some might call them badges of honor, but when I first looked at myself, I thought of myself as a failure.

I took a moment to wallow in self-pity and then I figuratively slapped myself. I’m 45 years old and was obese for most of my life. I will never have a supermodel body. Even with plastic surgery which yes, I am looking into for my stomach and breasts (another blog post!), I will always have issues. But then again, I really don’t know anyone who doesn’t have some body issues, no matter what their shape or size is. I have to live with the body that I have and do what I can which means keeping a healthy weight, exercising, and perhaps having some surgical intervention.

I promised my kids a summer full of swimming and I will not let them down, no matter what I look like in a bathing suit. Yes, I have flabby arms, but they can hold on to my daughter as she gains confidence to swim on her own. These wrinkly thighs can kick fast as I race my son to the end of the pool. My lumpy stomach isn’t keeping me from having fun with my children!

So, if you see me at the pool, you’ll see a woman with the remains of an obese body, but I hope you will also see a confident happy woman who is enjoying the summer with her kids. Going Down the Scale has taught me many things and I am happy that one of them is to live with my new body in a joyful way.