Tag Archives: doubt

Have You Given Up?

Jen February 2018

“You wouldn’t have done that before.” My husband said this to me this weekend as we explored a new place in our new home state. He was right. Before gastric sleeve surgery, I would never have tried to walk along a narrow ledge for fear of falling. I would have given up. The post-surgery me tries new things and doesn’t give up!

“Have you given up?”

One of the cheerleaders in my life, N., asked me that the other day. She called in response to my “woe is me” texts of late.

“Well, no, I haven’t.”

“OK then.”

Sometimes it’s the simplest questions that lead to the most profound answers. While I haven’t accomplished the goals I made for January, I’m not giving up.

I set two goals in January: to lose weight and finish the first draft of my mystery novel. I’ve lost about a pound, but nothing earth shattering and not the eight pounds I planned to lose. My first draft of my novel is nowhere near done although I finally wrote the first murder (these are things that make mystery writers very happy).

February appeared and the feelings of failure came with it. Failure provokes such strong emotions in me. I tend to let it drag me down. I berate myself for my lack of accomplishments. I wonder if I can really do what I set out to do. Doubt becomes the prevalent emotion in my life.

I generally pull myself out of these funks, but it was N.’s words that really resonated with me this time. Well, no, I haven’t given up! Why would I? Sure I’m behind on my goals, but there are reasonable goals. The time frame wasn’t right this time. Needing more time is not a bad thing; it’s definitely not the reason to give up.

I’ve decided to let up on setting time related goals. Somethings do need time frames, like my training for my July half-marathon. You can’t cram training into a month before a race. Well, I guess you could, but I’m not that crazy. So I am running three days a week and I start my formal training in a week.

I am determined to lose more weight this year, but I’m not going to put a deadline on it. I know what to do. I’ve been on this weight loss journey for almost five years now. One of the many lessons I’ve learned it that there will always be ups and downs. Both literally and figuratively. The scale is one of those literal ups and downs, but truth be said, I don’t need a scale to tell me about weight loss. I can feel it in my clothes, in my body, and in my head. Eating poorly and exercising less are a bad combination for me and I know it.

My other goal of finishing my first draft continues. Some days writing comes easy and other days it’s like pulling teeth without Novocaine. I was so focused on finishing the draft that I lost a bit of my motivation and my love of writing. So I’ve stepped back and started writing out-of-order when I’m stuck. Sometimes getting to the finish line means taking a meandering path. For someone like me who adores structure and order, this is a bit awkward. I’m learning it’s OK to do things differently than I have before. Shaking things up is working and I feel like my novel is back on track.

February plans are to keep exercising, eat healthy meals, and write whether it’s hard or easy. No time frames this time for me. I plan to focus on the process, not the end. There is joy in doing well and being happy, not just in finishing.

So back to my original answer, no I’m not giving up. Not now, not ever. I plan to keep trying as I continue my journey in going Down the Scale….


Another Item Off the To Do List

Everyone must have a list. I’m sure I’m not the only one who made one when I decided to have gastric sleeve surgery. It’s the “When I’m Thin” list. Well, I’ve changed it to the “When I’m Heathly” list, but the list is still the same:

  1. Buy clothes in a “regular” store.
  2. Become a runner
  3. Go on the rides at Disneyland without worrying if I’ll fit in them
  4. Ice Skate
My first time ice skating in over 20 years! Loved every minute of it!

My first time ice skating in over 20 years! Loved every minute of it!

Fortunately I stared working on my list before I hit my weight loss goal as I found doing these things made me happier. And this in turn made me healthier! Two and half years later, there was only one thing left on my first list: ice skating. Over the Thanksgiving holiday I finally crossed it off my list.

So, why ice skating, you ask? I used to ice skate as a child. I even took lessons for a bit. I don’t recall why I stopped, but my guess is I ran out of babysitting money and confidence. Most likely it was confidence. I was always overweight and unsure of my body, so I imagine I gave up once the lessons became more difficult.

The last time I went skating was in college. My obesity kept me from many activities as an adult and no matter how fun it looked, I wouldn’t go ice skating. Every November when the outdoor ice rinks go up, I would look at them with sadness. The thought of my fat self falling and not being able to get back up was too much to bear. When you’re obese, being humiliated in public is a huge fear. At least it was for me. I’ve been at a “normal” weight for a while, but I was still scared to try to skate.

“Mom, please can we go ice skating this year?!”

This is what finally made me decide to cross ice skating off my list. My two children have asked for years to go skating. Really, I had no excuses to give them. When I run a race, my mantra is “all you have to do is finish”, so I revised it to “all you have to do is try” for ice skating.

It was the first time my kids were ice skating, so I wanted it to be a positive experience for them. I told them that they would fall, it would be cold, but all they had to do was get back up and keep trying. I repeated this in my head until I took my first step on the ice.

Jack, Jill and I clutched the wall on our first turn around the outdoor ice rink. It was scary trying to glide forward on those thin blades, but it came back to me. Call it muscle memory or just plain old memory, but I started to skate. I held on to the wall for another two or three times around the rink, but I finally decided to let go. “If I fall, I fall,” I reassured myself. I wasn’t the scared, unsure obese girl, but a healthy, confident woman who could survive the humiliation of falling. And really, it wouldn’t be humiliating…I would be like any other person trying to skate!

Well, I didn’t fall once I’m proud to say. I was prepared for it, but I skated forward and backwards even! I was wobbly at times, but I didn’t care. It was wonderful to glide on the ice and just have fun. It was one of those genuinely happy moments.

What made it even better was that I was experiencing this with my kids. We skated together and we skated apart. Watching my children try something new reminded me of when they were babies learning new skills. Here I was helping them find their footing, but more importantly, their confidence, on the ice. I am forever thankful that I can share these experiences with my babies.

I thought we would only stay for 30 minutes, but we stayed for the whole 90 minute session. When both kids asked if we could go again, I knew it was a successful day!

My first step on the ice made the day successful for me, though. Each time I skated around the rink, I realized this day was more than crossing an item off my to do list. This day was a reminder of how much I have changed since I started my “Down the Scale” journey. I am more confident, happier and braver. And when I fail, I know it’s OK because I’m not perfect. Life isn’t perfect. The only thing that is perfect is living life to its fullest. I’ve learned not to let anything, anyone (especially myself) keep me from trying to do my best. So from eating better to trying new activities, I am enjoying my healthy life. And that will be on the top of my to do list, each and every day.

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.

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.


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…