Tag Archives: Depression

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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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.

My Happy Surroundings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Year Without a Resolution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To My Future Fellow Sleever

Over 14 months since I had surgery and I still feel great!

It has been over 14 months since I had my gastric sleeve surgery and I still feel great!

One of the best things to come out of blogging about my gastric sleeve surgery is the connection I have made with people. Family, friends and even complete strangers continually reach out to me about my experience and to share their own. I am very excited for one particular friend who is having surgery next month. I planned to send her a note before her surgery, but I decided to share it as I hope it will help others who are contemplating surgery or thinking of making other important changes in their life.

“To my friend,

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am for you! I know what a difficult decision you made when you chose gastric sleeve surgery. It isn’t just about losing weight; this journey is about taking control of your physical and mental health. This journey is about YOU!

I won’t assume all your reasons to have surgery are the same as mine.  But I will take a guess that you have been putting your own needs on the back burner. I felt for a long time that I needed to make everyone else in my life a priority, including people who didn’t deserve my efforts. I can honestly say that making myself “number one” in my life makes me a better mother, wife, friend and person. Now that I am in control of my life and that I am happy and less stressed, I am able to be the person I want to be for me and the people in my life.  Surrounding myself with positive people makes the world of difference in my continued success.

Of course, not everything is perfect after surgery. I am not seeking perfection any more. I continue to seek happiness and joy. Some days it is a harder struggle than others, but is a manageable struggle. I am not always in control, but I now have the tools to deal with depression, disappointment and anger.

This leads me to another important piece of advice: use your resources! Your surgeon and his staff are experienced and want you to succeed. Follow their advice and don’t hesitate to ask them for help. While you might not like their advice, it is their experience and knowledge that will help you through the challenges you will face. If you haven’t met with a weight loss therapist yet, I highly recommend finding one. I go through phases when I seek her help more often than others. Having this resource will help you more than you realize.

Let your family and friends help you, too! While many people do not share their surgery publicly, I really feel you should find at least a few people to confide in. You know who you can trust, so call upon them. I was fortunate to have an amazing community of family and friends who didn’t judge me and always offered support and encouragement. Find your community! I am your first supporter, of course!

Will you be judged by family and friends for choosing surgery? Perhaps, but please don’t let it bother you. Sometimes, the people’s fears and concerns for your safety come across as judgement or disappointment. There will also be people who are jealous or threatened by your new confidence and success. Always remember that this journey is about you. Yes, it will benefit your family in the long-term, but it is OK to do what you need to do for you. Push aside everyone’s else opinions and concentrate on your own feelings, needs and beliefs. Always do what is best for you because in the end, that’s truly what matters.

I look forward to being a part of your weight loss journey. I hope my blog gave you the ups and downs of gastric sleeve surgery. More importantly, I want it to have given you hope for a happy new chapter in your life. It won’t be easy this first year. You will cry. You will be angry. You feel disappointment. And that is normal and OK. The excitement, the improved physical and mental health, the sense of control and the feelings of freedom and positivity are well worth it.

My friend, you are beautiful, smart and funny. The new “you” will be stronger version of who you already are today. Thank you for letting me be a part of this next phase in your life. Let’s go Down the Scale together!

Love,
Jen”

My Second New Year

New Year's Eve 2013!  Losing 83.5 pounds in 2013 was exciting and I can't wait to see the changes I make in 2014!

New Year’s Eve 2013! Losing 83.5 pounds in 2013 was exciting and I can’t wait to see the changes I make in 2014!

2014 is here and for me, this is actually my second new year. I consider June 4 of 2013, my gastric sleeve surgery date, the start of my new year. This is the day I made the biggest change to my body, both physically and mentally. More importantly, it is one of the most positive changes I have made to my life.

30 weeks in my new year has been emotional, rewarding, difficult, joyful and not completely what I expected. I knew I would lose weight, but I really did not comprehend before surgery how much losing 83.5 pounds would change me and my life.

Physically, I am healthier than I ever have been in my adult life. I weighed less than my current weight in my early adulthood, but I didn’t exercise regularly or incorporate every day activity like walking. I actually want to run for exercise; I want to be a runner. I want to be someone who enjoys walking outside and exploring new places on foot. I even told my husband I will try camping! OK, it has to be in a cabin at first. Let’s not go to crazy with the “outdoorsy” life just yet.

The mental changes have been more dramatic in this new year. While I still suffer from stress, anxiety and depression from time to time, I am more aware when I feel these emotions. I’m learning not to deny them, but to admit I am struggling and to find a way to handle it without food. I am far from perfect, but I realize that admitting I am hurting is the first step to dealing with it in a positive way. I am extremely fortunate to have an amazing support network who helps me everyday. Without my husband, children, family and friends, food would still be front in center in my way against stress and depression.

For the first time in my life, I didn’t make a New Year’s resolutions that I know I can’t keep. At a party on New Year’s everyone posted a resolution on a chalkboard. Mine was “to make my goal and lose 38.5 pounds.” In the past, I would not have shared something so difficult and personal. By blogging my weight loss journey, I have put my goals and myself out to the world. When I starting sharing my story in May of 2013, I had no idea how important it would be to me and how much it would motivate me to keep going.

Thank you for reading my blog and supporting me by reading it, commenting and sharing your own struggles in life. I have learned I am not alone in my weight loss journey, but more importantly, I am not alone in life. This is the best new year I could have and I look forward to another year of going Down the Scale…