Tag Archives: encouragement

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 Goal Met: My Half-Marathon and More!

Yes, I did it! I ran my first half-marathon on May 8, 2016! Sometimes I can’t believe I went from this woman in her first 5K race in 2012 to this woman who ran her first half-marathon!

Here I am celebrating at my first half-marathon and my first 5K! Gastric sleeve surgery has changed me in so many ways!

Here I am celebrating at my first half-marathon and my first 5K! Gastric sleeve surgery has changed me in so many ways!

What was it like to run 13.1 miles? I’ve thought a lot about it this past week and I finally decided the best way to describe it is to compare it to my weight loss journey. Let me share the ways…

First, committing to a half-marathon was like committing to my gastric sleeve surgery. I wanted to change-up my running routine and a half-marathon seemed like the right choice. In August I registered for the Disneyland Tinker Bell marathon and then I knew there was no turning back. It was like when I decided to have gastric sleeve surgery. I started in October 2012 researching this life-changing procedure and had to wait until June 2013 to have the surgery due to my insurance company’s rules.

Waiting for a major event is tough. It gives you time to worry if you’re making the right decision. You question if this really is the right thing to do. Now, running a half-marathon isn’t quite like reconfiguring your stomach, but committing to new things can be scary. And just like when I announced on my blog that I was having surgery, I proclaimed that I would run a half-marathon. For me, sharing my goals helps me be accountable for my actions. When your friends and family want to know how your prep work is going for a new goal, you can’t hide!

Just like I prepared for the half-marathon, I had prepared for my surgery. I did all the homework on how my life would change with the sleeve. Weight loss surgery is a physical change and of course, it means you change your eating habits and exercise routine. But it is also a very mental change and in some ways, it’s the more difficult change you must make to be successful. I went on websites and I talked to people who had the surgery. I took in as much information as I could.

For the race, I also read as much as I could about running from magazines and websites. I joined Facebook groups about Disney races so I could prepare as best I could. During my race training, I reminded myself of all the changes I made to lose weight, so I shouldn’t let a training schedule scare me. Well, it did when I started. I followed Jeff Galloway’s program for the Tinker Bell run in the beginning. I changed it up when I had other races. I started the training with my first 15K which was not in schedule! It was a difficult race, but my local running partner, R., kept me going. We had to finish for the hot chocolate! Finishing this race gave me the confidence that I could do longer races, but it was a good reminder that it would be tough.

And I’ve tackled tough things during my Down the Scale journey. Weight gains, boredom, lack of confidence, stress and depression are just a few problems I’ve met and admittedly, I still fight. So even when my training runs became longer, I knew I could do it. I would do it my way, which to most runners is really slow. I run. I walk. I run again. My training pace was under the Disneyland required pace of 16 minutes per mile, but I worried about it anyway. I even tackled hills, including my beloved Golden Gate Bridge, to build my stamina and to try to quiet my fears. If I can run 12 miles throughout hilly San Francisco, what was 13.1 miles of flat Disneyland and Anaheim?

“It’s scary, that’s what!” This is what I said to myself at 5 AM on a dark Sunday morning when race day arrived. Fortunately, it was only a moment of doubt as my amazing race partner, B., kept me focused and excited about what was to come. Let me take this moment, to share how much it meant to me to have my friend, B., with me for this special day. I have known her for over 20 years and not only was she an incredible friend and sorority sister during our college days, she’s been there, via long distance though my adult life and my weight loss journey. When I asked if anyone would like to join me on this race last year, she said yes and flew across country to do it. B. is someone who I admire for so many reasons and to have her running next to me was more than I could ask for.

B. is one of many people who have supported and encouraged me since I started my journey. Listening to B.’s pre-race pep talk reminded me of all the people who have made my success possible. I remembered my fear of hitting the publish button on my first blog post, hoping I would be supported and not ridiculed for choosing weight loss journey.  A whole new world opened up to me, full of cheerleaders near and far. People shared their stories with me all while encouraging me to go after my dreams of a healthy life. By sharing my story, I have strengthened relationships and made new friendships that keep me going.

The smiling faces and cheers from strangers along the course reminded me of all the “real life” cheerleaders I have in my life. They have cheered me on during my successes, big and small! Now random strangers were encouraging to keep running (or keep swimming as it was a Disney race after all). From high school marching bands to the Red Hat Society women to Tinker Bell, there was joy and well wishes throughout the miles!

My amazing friend, B., with me at Radiator Springs during the race! Disney races are the perfect ones for first time races since you know you're doing to stop for photos!

My amazing friend, B., with me at Radiator Springs during the race! Disney races are the perfect ones for first time races since you know you’re doing to stop for photos!

Nothing is more exhilarating than to run through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and Radiator Springs when you’re a Disney fan like me. I’ve thought about all the times I’ve walked both Disneyland and Disney World and before last year, not once did I think that I would run in the parks. I have always enjoyed Disney parks even when I was obese, but when I lost weight, these trips became even better. To think I’ve gone from worrying if I would fit in a ride to running through the parks in a half-marathon was a bit surreal.

Just like the struggles I faced in my beginning of my gastric sleeve journey, I struggled during the race. 13.1 miles is long. Really long. Especially at Mile 8. Yeah, you’ve gone 8 miles! Oh, shit, you have 5 to go!! My walking intervals became longer than my running intervals. I was chewing on my Sports Beans like they were crack. I dug deep in my head and heart to remind myself I could do this. My longest run was 12 miles so I knew my body could do it, even though my thighs were trying to disagree. It was my head and my soul that were struggling the most.

And just like when I doubt myself in my abilities to keep healthy, I turned to my support group. In this case, it was B. who knew just what to do. She started timing our intervals. She pointed out the amazing scenery and the encouraging crowds surrounding us. She reminded me again and again, of this special race we were running and that we would could do it! I will be forever thankful for her determination to keep me going and for her reminders that I could succeed.

What also kept me going was seeing my ever-supportive hubby and kids near the finish line. They are 3 of the biggest reasons I had surgery and that I continue to work on my health. They support me in everything I do and this race was no exception. While I was pretty excited to see Captain Hook at the end of race, it was the smiling faces of my family that made me cry. I hope that my kids see that even though their Mommy is a bit crazy and stressed a times, that she’s also silly enough to dress like Tic Tock Croc and run 13.1 miles for fun! I’m not sure if they’ll ever know how much they help me to achieve my goals. I just hope that seeing me set up goals and then meet them, even with much difficulty, will encourage them to do the same.

Running over the finish line made me cry, too! B. turned to me and said, “You did it!” and that just made me cry more. It also made the woman next to me cry, too, after she hugged me. And that is also another amazing thing about sharing your joy…it affects everyone around you! The best running races are the ones where everyone encourages each other, and the Tinker Bell race was one of those! Even though I’m sure the woman giving out medals was exhausted, she took the time to let B. take a photo of me getting my medal.

I'm sweaty and exhausted, but excited and amazed that I finished my first half-marathon!

I’m sweaty and exhausted, but excited and amazed that I finished my first half-marathon!

And while this isn’t the most flattering photo of me from the race, I think it’s an important one to share. Yes, I’m sweaty and exhausted from the run, but I was overwhelmed with emotion receiving my medal. For me, it’s like an Olympic medal! From stumbling through my first 5K as an obese woman to running a half-marathon as a healthy woman, here I was, a better version of myself that I never dreamed was possible. Pushing myself through the race was just like pushing myself throughout this weight loss journey for the past three years. I chose to set a goal and I followed through. This is my success.

The post-race day is a bit of a tired blur. I had time to shower, take family photos with B. and enjoy beignets with no guilt. We left that same day and the car ride home was long. My thighs complained for 2 days about the race, but the rest of me was actually in good shape. I did take a week off from running, but I’ve started back up. Somehow, it’s not as fun without the cheering crowds and views of Disneyland, but it always feels good to run.

Yes, I’m back to running and I haven’t picked my next race. No, it’s not going to be a marathon! Honestly, having run 13.1 miles, I can’t even fathom running twice that amount! Even with my B. as my coach, I think I half-marathons are my max! I have set some new running goals though. I want to work on my pace and endurance. Running will always be my first love when it comes to exercise and while I want to keep physically improving, I don’t want to lose the positive mental benefits I get from it. Goals are important, but making them reasonable is important too.

Thank you to everyone who supported me during my training and my race. From my first cheerleader, N., who started me running to R. who runs with me locally to A. who restructured my training schedule and took me out to celebrate my race, I am incredibly blessed to have so many people like them in my life. When I started on journey 3 years ago, I thought it was just about losing weight. It turned out to be so much more. I became heathy. I became a runner. I became a writer. I became the person I wanted to be, but never thought I could be. Once I started sharing my fears along with my goals, I was finally able to tackle my weight as well as my mental health. While I’ve learned a lot and I’m still learning, the most important thing I’ve realized is that I can do what I want to do! It’s not always easy and failure is part of the process, but it’s a journey worth taking. I plan to keep running and keep setting goals as I continue to go Down the Scale…

Nothing is better than celebrating your half-marathon with your running partner afterward! We stopped for photos before beignets!

We did it!  Nothing is better than celebrating your first half-marathon with your running partner afterward! We stopped for photos before beignets!

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.

Running Toward New Challenges

I’m the kind of woman who needs new goals. They can be small ones like getting my kids to put away their dirty dishes to big ones like maintaining my weight loss. I thrive on new challenges, especially when it comes to running. From new places to run to different types of races, I’m always searching for the next big thing to keep me motivated and inspired. This past Sunday I tried a new type of race and it was just what I needed to keep me going on my weight loss journey.

Not my best time for a 5K, but for my first trail run, I'll take it!  Running is one of the best things to come out of my gastric sleeve surgery journey!

Not my best time for a 5K, but for my first trail run, I’ll take it! Running is one of the best things to come out of my gastric sleeve surgery journey!

A few months ago, I received an email about the Double Adventure Run. It’s an 8K race, but split into two parts. First you run a 5K, take about an hour break and then run a 3K. This one took place at Land’s End which is full of trails by the Pacific Ocean with incredible views including my beloved Golden Gate Bridge. I knew this distance was doable as I’ve done a bit of trail running and I did a 10K in April. This seemed like the perfect challenge, especially when my 11-year-old son, Jack, asked to join me.

Jack and I arrived early at Land’s End on race day. If you’ve ever participated in a running event, you know about the energy in the air. This was a small race of less than 200 runners, but it was still exciting. I’ve found many runners to be very friendly and encouraging, especially when you have a child with you. We chatted with other runners and took our pre-race photos in this scenic locale.

I’d love to say we ran the race together, but I can’t keep up with my athletic son. Jack tried to go to the front of the starting line, but I made him go to the back with me. Pacing is not in his vocabulary just yet, so I knew he would start trying to keep up with the master runners. As a soccer player, he’s used to sprinting and I have to remind him that 5K races are a different type of running. This wasn’t his first 5K, but he did the first one with a friend so they paced each other.

My obliging son did start the race with me. We were only about a quarter of a mile in when he batted those big blue/gray eyes at me and politely asked if he could go ahead. I wasn’t finished saying “OK” before he grinned and went running ahead. As much as I wanted him to run with me, I knew I had to let him go. He knew to stay on the race path and wait for me at the end. Part of me hoped I would catch up to him, but I was doubtful.

And my doubts were correct when I came to the first 100 step staircase. I knew I wouldn’t see Jack until the end as I huffed and puffed up the stairs. The 5K race started nicely downhill and then up a relatively easy incline, but this beautiful park is full of evil, killer stairs. I’ve walked and run a bit through Land’s End before, but when you’re in race mode it’s three times as hard. Fortunately the other runners around me seemed to feel the same way. There was a feeling of struggle and determination in the air along with a lot of heavy breathing. This mixed with the salt air and sweat made this race unique to say the least.

After this first staircase I realized I wouldn’t be able to have a PR (personal record) for this 5K part of the race. I begrudgingly told myself this was OK. This was my first real trail race with hills and staircases. This 5K would be the new baseline for trail races I decided so I pushed through to the end.

Here is my amazing son running to finish the 5K portion of our 8K race.  He inspires and motivates me with his athletic abilities!

Here is my amazing son running to finish the 5K part of our 8K race. He inspires and motivates me with his athletic abilities!

Running to the finish line, I finally saw Jack. Nothing made me happier than seeing his smiling face! He finished 11 ½ minutes before me and I was proud for both of us. Jack said he chatted with other runners throughout the race and one particular runner recommended he try to pace himself. He said he tried to after she talked with him. I just smiled at him instead of saying “I told you so!” Sometimes being a parent means keeping your mouth shut.

We weren’t done yet! It was halftime, so to speak. We had about an hour to rest, stretch, hydrate and dance to “Shake it Off” about 10 times before the 3K race. I really enjoyed this time to hang out with my son. We talked with other runners, many of whom congratulated Jack. I love races that have such a positive spirit. While it is a competition I’ve found everyone to be encouraging to each other.

I must admit it was hard to get pumped up for the second race even though it was only a 3K. (OK, I never thought I would say “just a 3K” ever in my life!). It’s a bit strange to think about racing again after a break, but once we start lining up, the race energy got me going.

As before, Jack went off on his own. This is the time I wished I brought my headphones. I didn’t plan to run with music like I normally do since I would be with Jack. Silly mommy, thinking her baby would run with her! I can’t say I completely enjoyed running without music, but it was a good experience. It was such a beautiful place to run that I really took in the views as I ran. I’m sure it was a safer way to run through the narrow dirt paths and up the steep stairs too. But sometimes when you’re slowing down, having the Foo Fighters sing loudly in your ears motivates you to pick up the pace.

While I didn’t particularly run a fast pace during the 3K, I finished with a smile on my face and received a big hug from Jack. I need to start bribing my husband and daughter to come to these races just so I have them waiting for me at the end. Nothing is better than having the people you love waiting for you to complete another challenge. So my little runner finished with a total combined time of 49:51 and his momma finished with 1:09. Would we do it again? You betcha! Splitting the race into two parts was difficult, but fun. Trail running is such a great change from road races and I plan to do more.

Every race I do gives me more things to work on like running more hills and increasing my pace. Finding the motivation to keep active and heathy is sometimes hard, but for me, finding new challenges is helping me as I head into year two of my weight loss journey. I plan to keep on running Down the Scale for a long, long time…

Here we are after running our first 8K race!  I'm looking forward to sharing more runs with my son!

Here we are after running our first 8K race! I’m looking forward to sharing more runs with my son!

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?

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!

Making an Investment

Next week I head back to the hospital for another procedure since my gastric sleeve surgery. I am excited as well as extremely nervous about my next step to creating the healthiest body I can have. My surgeons will repair the damage to my body by fixing my incisional vertical abdominal hernia and removing excess skin. Committing to more surgery was a difficult decision, but I finally realized that this surgery is just another step in my continuing process of taking care of me.

I have an abdominal hernia from my two c-sections. I never felt quite “put back together” after my first c-section, but I felt a little better after my second so I never really gave my protruding stomach much thought. Since I was obese I just assumed my asymmetrical stomach was normal. It wasn’t until my gastric sleeve surgeon asked me if I knew I had a hernia that I even knew my abdomen wasn’t normal.

15 months after my gastric sleeve surgery and I'm still making changes to be the best "me" I can be!

15 months after my gastric sleeve surgery and I’m still making changes to be the best “me” I can be!

Aside from the displeasing aesthetic look, the hernia didn’t really bother me until almost a year after my gastric sleeve surgery. My running speed and endurance were increasing since I had lost about 100 pounds. I was excited and looking into 5K races. Then the pain started. I couldn’t run without stopping for the pain in my lower right abdomen. After another run cut short by pain, I knew I had to fix the hernia.

Fortunately, my gastric sleeve surgeon could fix my hernia so I headed back to him to schedule the surgery. I just assumed it would be a simple procedure like my sleeve. A few incisions, a night in the hospital and then I’d head home and start running in a few weeks. “No,” was the simple answer Dr. J gave me at my appointment. My assumptions were wrong. This surgery involves pushing my intestines back through my muscles then stitching the muscles up and then my incisions. I’m sure my disappointment and fears showed on my face. I thought I could have this done at the beginning of summer and be back up and running (literally) quickly. This was just a tad more involved, to say the least.

Dr. J added to my fear by telling me that the incisions could get infected easily, especially with all the excess skin I have from my weight loss. He recommended I go see a plastic surgeon to discuss having the skin removed (similar to a tummy tuck). I’m sure I looked at him like he was crazy. Me going to a plastic surgeon? I’m the fat chick aren’t I? It took me a minute to realize that I’m not the obese woman I was before and that plastic surgery was a viable option now. I made the appointment that day to see Dr. C, a plastic surgeon that Dr. J regularly works with on these types of surgery.

My appointment with Dr. C went better than I could have imagined. He’s a calm, practical doctor who answered every question I could think of during my appointment. He showed me pictures of other patients who were like me; seeing proof that my abdomen could actually look normal was thrilling. I appreciated his honesty in telling me my stomach would be better, but I wouldn’t have the abs of a 20-year-old. His office emailed the financial estimate the next day and the ever-supportive hubby and I went through the details together.

Dave and I talked about the surgery and the expected positive outcome for me both physically and mentally. Having the hernia fixed will make me better physically and going back to running will help physically and mentally. I miss running more than I imagined. Even with all the positive reasons to have both surgeries, I was still reluctant. Surgery doesn’t just affect me, but my whole family. After surgery I will have to rely on my family and friends even more than I do now. My husband is going to have to take more of the household and children responsibilities all while maintaining a demanding work schedule. I will need to ask my friends for help in getting my children to school and to their after school activities. The financial burden weighed heavily on my mind, too.

With all these negatives, all it took was one simple sentence from the ever-supportive hubby to make me see the light. Dave looked at me and said, “You’re making an investment.” Besides telling me he loved me for the first time and asking me to marry him, he has never said anything more loving and sexy to me. The person I love thinks that the steps I take to be a happy and healthy person are worthwhile. This was all I needed to hear and I emailed both surgeons to start the process for these next surgeries.

I now realize that my whole weight loss journey is about investing in me. Everything that I do to make me a healthier and happier person is well worth it. Any positive change I make in my life from losing weight to surrounding myself with positive people, is simply an investment in my present and future life. My Down the Scale journey will continue with a variety of investments including my upcoming hernia and tummy tuck surgeries. Who better to invest in than me?