Tag Archives: Food Lifestyle

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…

Another Merry Christmas to Me!

Another Christmas and another year of me sitting on Santa's lap!  Being 105 pounds lighter makes sitting on his lap much easier...for both of us!

Another Christmas and another year of me sitting on Santa’s lap! Being 105 pounds lighter makes sitting on his lap much easier…for both of us!

Yes, another Christmas is here during my year and a half weight loss journey! It’s hard to believe it’s been this long since I had my gastric sleeve surgery and three months since I had my hernia repair and tummy tuck surgery. December is always a busy month with activities and of course, food. It’s a good time for me to reflect on the presents I have received this year.

The best present I gave myself this year is maintaining my 105 pound weight loss. Some days I’m down more weight and some days I am up, but I stay in my “weight window” so I’m happy. I love holiday food, especially anything with peppermint, and I’m not going to give that up. Santa wouldn’t want me to, would he? What I do is moderate my peppermint intake. A tall skinny peppermint mocha is just as satisfying as a grande. Christmas cookies are lovely, but one is just as good as three, which is what I would have done in the past.

And to help with the increased eating of the season, I am keeping up my physical activity. Adding more walking into my day-to-day routine is so simple and so effective. Running is keeping me healthy both physically and mentally during the craziness of the holiday. My Christmas present to myself was new running shoes. To keep motivated, I signed up for my next race in January with my son. The fact I can run and now share this experience with my children is better than any beautifully wrapped gift from a store.

Christmas is just one day of the year and so much pressure is put on us to have an over the top day. I’m working on making it an enjoyable and loving day with my family and not trying to keep up with an over-idealized, pressure-filled day. My weight loss journey should be the same, I think. There is pressure to hit a certain number, whether it’s a number on the scale or a clothing size. In reality, my weight loss journey is about living a healthy, positive life. Being healthy physically and mentally is a gift I need to give myself all year long. I’m looking forward to re-gifting this every day!

Taking off the Band-Aids

Halloween is much more fun now that I dress up with my kids!

Halloween is much more fun now that I dress up with my kids!  One of the many benefits of my gastric sleeve surgery!

In a panic last week I called my plastic surgeon’s office. My tummy tuck incision at six weeks appeared to be getting worse, not better. 45 minutes later I was half-naked in an exam room showing my Frankenstein abdomen to Dr. C. He took one look at one my incision and said “You have some delayed healing. I see this often in patients who have lost a large amount of weight.”

I braced myself for the bad news. I surely would need antibiotics, massive bandages or even surgery. He continued by saying “Just keep it clean. You can put band aids on it if you don’t want to stain your clothes.”

That was it?! Yes, it was. My fear was over nothing. The effects of being obese still haunt me and this delayed healing was one of them. Trust me, I’m glad I went to see my doctor even though it turned out to be nothing. What if it had been infected or what if I had needed some type of work done on my incision? Sometimes paranoia is a good thing, but fortunately it my case my concerns were normal.

I left Dr. C.’s office reassured and with band-aids on parts of my incision. Looking back, I realize those band-aids did more for me mentally than physically. The band-aids comforted me, but also kept me from seeing the ugly parts of my incision. Out of mind, out of sight as they say…

This week I also realized I was using another type of band-aid: food. The day-to-day stresses and some larger than life stresses are getting to me. Food once again was becoming a solution to forgetting my stresses and giving me instantaneous pleasure and comfort. My biggest band-aid was Halloween candy. Damn you, fun-size Snickers!

My regular weigh-in this week revealed the ugly truth of my food band-aid usage. I am at the top of my weight window. Not horrible, but another week of mindless eating and I am sure I would be over my designated weight range. So, it’s time to take off the food band-aid now! No more candy. Back to cooking healthy meals. More exercise. I can’t hide the stress and anxiety of life behind a band-aid anymore.

Now, I’m not saying all band-aids are bad. Just as the band-aids on my incision helped me work through my fear of my surgery progress, the food band-aid was useful for a bit. Sharing Halloween candy with my kids while in our costumes was fun. I just forgot to stop eating; I forgot the candy was a treat, not an everyday thing to eat.

Perhaps if I had taken off the food band-aid sooner I wouldn’t have to add “weight gain” to my list of stresses and anxieties. But that’s the past and I have time to get back in shape both mentally and physically. With the holiday season coming up, this band-aid lesson came at a good time. Band-aids are helpful, but they are always meant to be temporary. Hiding and brushing aside pain and stress can’t be done for long without consequences. I hope to remember to use band-aids sparingly as I continue to go Down the Scale…

Keeping It Going Over a Year Later….

16 months and 106.5 later, my gastric sleeve journey continues here at Down the Scale. To keep me motivated, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the positive habits I have made. I think it helps to remind myself of all the things that go into keeping myself healthy and happy as I continue to strive to lose weight.

For me, the most important change I made was to eat smaller portions of healthier food. My smaller stomach helps with this, but I still need to think about what I eat and how much of it I eat. I prioritize my food by protein first and then vegetables. I eat fruit as a snack or part of my breakfast occasionally. I rarely eat carbohydrates as they fill my stomach very quickly. I haven’t cut them out completely, but when I do indulge, it’s usually only one piece of bread or a small portion of rice or pasta.

Now, I must admit I still indulge in less healthy food from time to time. I still drink alcohol, but only one or two glasses. I do splurge at parties with a small piece of cake. The difference now is the amount and frequency I eat higher calorie and sugary food. It’s supposed to be a treat for a reason and now I finally “get it.”

I also have finally learned that I need to cut some foods out completely. Really, I wasn’t eating trail mix for the nuts…who does? And Chex Mix is banned from my home. I never once measured out either food like I said I would when I bought them.

There are times I do need to measure my food and track it. When my weight loss stalls I find that recording my food intake helps. Using the app My Fitness Pal is an easy way to keep an eye on my eating habits. I only have to do it for a few days to get back on track.

A year does make a difference!  On the left is last year's visit to the pumpkin patch 4 months after my surgery.  On the right is this year's photo.  I'm looking forward to comparing these to next year's photo!

A year does make a difference! On the left is last year’s visit to the pumpkin patch four months after my surgery. On the right is this year’s photo. I’m looking forward to comparing these to next year’s photo!

I also use My Fitness Pal to record my weight. I “officially” weigh-in once a week. Making my weight only count once a week keeps me from focusing solely on the numbers in my weight loss journey. While I would still like to lose seven pounds, I prefer to concentrate on maintaining my current weight loss. To do this, I have a “weight window.” It’s a five-pound range I want to stay in. This keeps me aware of my weight, but allows for those weeks where I indulge a bit. If I go above the window, I start tracking my food immediately.

If I go below the window for a month I know it’s time to adjust the window. I just changed it a month after my hernia repair and tummy tuck surgery since I lost about nine pounds. Some of that loss was from the excess skin removal and lack of eating after surgery. Now that I’m a month out and I’m maintaining a new weight, I adjusted the window to keep myself on track and motivated.

Exercising is a big key to maintaining much of my weight loss. And when I say exercise I don’t necessarily mean exercise in the sense of a dedicated activity for a set of amount of time. I do think that kind of exercise is important and I’m looking forward to running once again. And I do know that I must start weight lifting to tone my body. But I think it’s the everyday physical activity that is essential to my healthy lifestyle. Walking as much as I can is extremely important to me. I could tell how much both physically and mentally I missed walking during my surgery recovery. Now that I’m back to walking my kids to school, I am happier. Adding more activities to my week keeps me healthy physically and mentally.

16 months of concentrated weight loss has been daunting at times. I find when I get frustrated, bored or depressed, I need to go back to the basics:

*Eating better

*Tracking my food

*Getting on the scale only once a week to see if I’m in my weight window

*Adding more exercise, either structured or relaxed

And last, but not least, I remind myself how far I’ve come in my journey…106.5 pounds gone for good! Feeling healthy and happy really are the best reminders of how important taking care of myself is for me and my family. I’m thrilled to still be going Down the Scale…

Food, Glorious Food…Really!

My babies and I waiting to explore the city.  Walking helps to work off the fantastic cuisine of New Orleans!

My babies and I waiting to explore the city. Walking helps to work off the fantastic cuisine of New Orléans!

Welcome back to Down the Scale! I neglected my blogging duties for the past month, but my weight loss journey still continues! I must say this has been one of my favorite summers. My family and I enjoyed fun activities around town and across the country. Swimming, sight-seeing, relaxing and eating were some of the great activities we indulged in this summer. Yes, I did say eating! I didn’t think enjoying food would be part of my life when I had gastric sleeve surgery over a year ago. I was wrong and a trip to New Orléans showed me how eating out can be a positive part of my life.

After San Francisco, New Orléans is my favorite city. It is full of history, architecture, charm and amazing cuisine. Even though I don’t like shellfish, I love the other types of food New Orléans is known for like beignets, gumbo, jambalaya, pralines and of course a variety of alcoholic beverages. In my past visits, I never worried about what or how much food I consumed. This trip, I knew I couldn’t eat with wild abandon. First, my small stomach prohibits me from eating too much. Second, I didn’t want to gain too much weight. I say “too much” because I knew I would gain weight as I would be eating food higher in fat and sugar than I normally do now. And yes, I’m up a pound and a half since vacation, but I anticipated that and I’m back to eating normally.

So I was excited to visit New Orléans, but I wondered if I would enjoy the food like I did in the past. My first test was breakfast. Cafe Beignet was close to our hotel and I went by myself to pick those hot, fluffy, doughy, sugary pillows of goodness called beignets. I stood in line behind other tourists (do locals eat them, I wonder?), anticipating the first bite, but also wondering would I still enjoy them. With my small stomach, would I even be able to eat much of it? Would the sugar and fat make me feel sick?

Simply put, the answer was no. I took my first bite of beignet and smiled. It tasted just as I remembered. No, it tasted better. Now that I eat healthier, which not only means better food, but eating slower, I truly enjoyed that beignet. I didn’t rush to eat it so I could get to the next one. I savored each bite of the beignet I ate. And yes, I only ate one of these delightful treats. I was full after eating one physically, but also mentally. I finally feel like I’ve learned that eating smaller amounts of food is just as satisfying as stuffing myself. My new body shape and the feeling of health I now have confirm that.

Yes, my guilty pleasure!  Cafe au lait and beignets!  I am so happy I was able to enjoy a bit of these New Orleans treats!

Yes, my guilty pleasure! Cafe au lait and beignets! I am so happy I was able to enjoy a bit of these New Orléans treats!

The rest of our vacation in New Orléans went this way. I enjoyed all my favorites, just in small amounts. Rice fills me up quickly, so I could only eat a bit of jambalaya, but it was worth it. I will admit to missing Muffulettas.   The bread is just too much for me, so a bite of my husband’s sandwich was all I could enjoy. He was kind enough to share it with me and I was kind enough to share my food with him and the rest of my family. I generally share all my dishes when we go out to eat, and even at home. I just can’t eat all the food restaurants serve.

Besides food, New Orléans is known for alcohol. I still drink since my surgery, but I am now a lightweight. One drink, maybe two is my limit. Yes, I’m a cheap date. I can’t eat and drink at the same time (liquids can push the food down too fast and it really doesn’t feel good either), so the New Orléans tradition of “to go cups.” was wonderful. I could order a drink and take it with me as we walked off our fantastic meals.

Our vacation to New Orléans will go down as my favorite. I really love the city and this time we also enjoyed the company of some of our East Coast family. We enjoyed all the typical vacation activities and it definitely included food. I am thrilled that I can still enjoy food, but with a more positive attitude. Eating is definitely different for me now and I am proud of how I handle eating out now. I look forward to more vacations and now I know they can still include eating out and I can still go Down the Scale…

My First Year Anniversary of My Gastric Sleeve Surgery!

Yes, a year makes a difference!  96.5 pounds are gone!

Yes, a year makes a difference! 96.5 pounds are gone!

96.5 pounds are gone! This is one of the ways I am marking my first anniversary of my gastric sleeve surgery. Yes, I am thrilled and amazed by the numbers, but that’s not the only success I feel from my surgery. Losing this much weight changed my life in more ways than I could have imagined:

  • I now enjoy walking and participating in outdoor activities! Walking instead of driving to pick up my kids from school and running errands is easy now. Hiking and exploring our great city and surrounding natural attractions are now some of our favorite family activities. For a girl who was always searching for the gift shop and snack bar when doing outdoor activities, this is a huge change!
  • I still enjoy food! I thought going to the Farmers’ Market and eating at restaurants would be a thing of the past, but it is now part of my life in a positive way. I look for better quality food and I eat in smaller amounts. Dinning at restaurants can be challenging, but I can always find a healthy option on most menus.
  • Yes, I will admit that I feel like I am more attractive. And some of this does come from outside validation. Having friends and family comment on my looks does make me feel better about my “outside.” But more importantly, I am more confidant on my outward appearance which makes me seem more confidant. A confidant woman is an attractive woman.
  • Mentally I am in a better place than I could have imagined. Once the crutch of eating my feelings was taken away, it was necessary for me to face my feelings. It’s still not easy and I will always have to work on my mental health. And you know what? That’s OK.

The best measure of success hasn’t been the scale. Sure the numbers are important, but it’s not the end all be all of my weight loss journey success. I finally realized that taking care of myself is not only important, but essential. It doesn’t make me a bad mother or bad wife or bad friend or bad person when I put my physical and mental health first. Such a simple lesson, but it is one I needed to learn.

I look forward to continuing to share my journey…the good and the bad! A huge thanks to everyone who supported me in my first year of my weight loss journey. Here’s to another year of going Down the Scale…

Let’s Talk About Some Good Stuff…

My son and I at our first Maker's Faire!  Staying on my feet all day is much easier with 94 pounds less on my body!

My son and I at our first Maker’s Faire! Staying on my feet all day is much easier with 94 pounds less on my body!

Here I am at Week 50 and up a pound. No, that’s not the good stuff. It puts my total weight loss from 95 pounds to 94 pounds so I won’t complain..too much. I think I’m still figuring out what my “real” weight will be so I’m going to put the numbers aside for today. Let’s have a positive chat about the good, no, the great things, that losing 94 pounds has done for me!

  • Staying on my feet all day and walking around is not a problem! This weekend we went to Maker’s Faire which basically is a science, computers, arts and crafts, techie geek festival. All day we wandered a convention center full of wonders for nerds of all ages. It was overwhelming, fun and interesting, but I know if we had gone last year I would not have felt that way. Walking all day and standing on my feet with another 94 pounds on my body would have made it miserable.
  • Having more physical stamina rocks! Not only is walking around and standing on my feet all day a really great feeling, but just being able to do more without it being an issue is incredible. I still don’t like doing laundry, but going up and down two flights of stairs is so much easier. Walking my kids back and forth to school is a breeze! And yes, having better physical stamina in other personal areas is really, really great, but let’s just keep that between me and the hubby…
  • Clothes shopping is a whole new world! I can choose from such a huge variety of clothes now that I’m not limited to one section of a store. I will admit it is still confusing and overwhelming shopping in larger stores like Macy’s and Nordstrom. Can they just have a section for 45 year olds who want to dress modern, but not too trendy? Not matter how much weight I loss, short-shorts will not be featured on this body!
  • Positive comments from acquaintances are great for my ego! Just this week, a school secretary and a parent at my children’s school told me how great I look. Now that I’ve lost such a large amount of weight, I think more people are comfortable commenting on my new appearance. I will honestly admit I love the positive feedback. It really helps during this fluctuating time in my weight loss journey.

These are just a few of the positive results I am feeling this week and I realize how fortunate I am to feel this way. Life can’t just be about numbers! I plan to keep my eye on the scale, but I can’t let a number define me. Feeling good about my accomplishments and keeping a positive attitude in life is the true goal in my journey Down the Scale…

The “S” Words

Week 40!  While the scale has gone up and down these past few weeks, I am putting on a smile and working it out!

Week 40! While the scale has gone up and down these past few weeks, I am putting on a smile and working it out!

Forgive me, blogging world, for it has been two weeks since I last blogged here at Down the Scale. The last two weeks have been “the ugly” part of “the good, the bad and the ugly” of my weight loss journey so I resisted writing. Time to get back on the saddle and share my story here at Week 40…

Well, you’ve probably guessed that I’ve gained weight so that’s why I haven’t blogged. Week 39 I was up a half a pound and yesterday I was up a half a pound for a total of one pound gain. This morning I am actually back down to a half a pound under my lowest weight, making my loss 90.5 pounds. But I’m a stickler for rules and since Tuesday is my official weigh in day, I’m going with yesterday’s number and making it officially 89 pounds down since I started this journey last June.

Yes, I have tons of reasons and excuses for this weight gain. I think there are two main reasons for this jump: sugar and stress. They’re the “S” words in my life.

Sugar is an obvious reason. The past two weeks have been a good reminder that my new stomach, my sleeve, is just a tool. No, I can’t eat the quantities of food I could before, but I still need to watch my caloric intake. Sugar sneaks in so easily and since I celebrated my birthday last week it was easy to see how it snuck in my diet. That is easily fixed; the birthday celebration is over!

I also realized I was going back to some old habits like drinking sugar coffee drinks like my old favorite, the non-fat white mocha. I love it, but it is definitely not worth the weight gain. Back to my skinny vanilla lattes!

Instead of going to get those sugary or even the sugar-free drinks, I got back into my walking and running schedule. It was my ever supportive husband, who while I was having a breakdown, gently asked when I ran last. I’ve been back to running and adding in more walks with friends. It has made a world of difference this week and again, it was a good reminder to go back to the basics of weight loss: exercising and eating right.

The other “S” word in my life is stress. And I really should be honest and say my stresses are truly “first world problems.” I am extremely fortunate to have an amazing life! My husband and children are my world and I have great friends and family. We live in a beautiful state, we have a roof over our head and we’re healthy and happy. So why the stress?

I think I feel this stress and anxiety so deeply because I care so deeply. Now, that’s not really a bad thing, but I haven’t really learned to temper the stress to realistic levels. The issues I deal with wouldn’t seem so bad to other people and I’m sure some of my friends think I’m crazy about the things I worry about. I just am always thinking that I’m going to disappoint my family or the people around me. It’s usually about something that I can’t completely control such as dealing with a group or person. While I have tried and occasionally succeed in extracting myself from an unhealthy situation (for me), I can’t always do that. I end up feeling out of control and guess what I can control…my eating habits.

So in theory, I should control my eating habits by eating healthy, right? Instead I try to comfort myself and numb myself with unhealthy food. I realized what I was doing the past two weeks when I finally admitted that I was eating more than usual, especially sugar. I let anxiety, stress and depression control me. Obviously that’s one of the main reasons I became 100+ pounds overweight.

They say talking about your problems is the first step to solving them, so I hope that putting this out there is my first step. I am very proud of the progress I have made so far in my journey and I need to remind myself of all the positive changes and progress I have made this year. I hope, no, I WILL tackle my stress issues so that I will be healthy both physically and mentally. Time to kick the “S” words to street and keep running Down the Scale…

The Week I Gained a Pound and So Much More….

Comparing photos really helps me see my weight loss!  I love that my babies are growing, but my hubby and I are shrinking!

Comparing photos really helps me see my weight loss! I love that my babies are growing, but my hubby and I are shrinking!

Here it is Week 37 at Down the Scale and my total weight loss is 88.5 pounds! It hasn’t been easy these last three weeks to get there. During Week 35 I gained a pound. It took a few weeks to take it off and then lose another pound to get to my current total. It was a good reminder that my gastric sleeve journey is not only full of emotional ups and downs, but physical ones as well. The scale gives me important information, but isn’t the complete picture of my health.

The week I gained a pound, I also gained perspective on how much my weight loss journey has changed more than my body. My spirit and mind gained peace, silliness and love and that makes gaining a physical pound worthwhile.

I gained the weight on our four-day trip to Disneyland. My family and friends already know that my husband and I are true Disney fans. Perhaps über Disney geeks would be a better description. Dave and I bonded over our love of Disney World and even spent our honeymoon there. Our children’s infant and toddler years we spent at Disney World at least once a month when we lived in Florida. Now that we’ve been back in California for almost three years, we decided to take some time off from the “real” world and go on a family trip to Disneyland.

As excited as I was to finally take my babies to Disneyland, I was nervous about the food and rides. Amusement parks are full of fattening, sugary treats seemingly positioned every few feet. Before we left, I decided I would treat myself to a Dole Whip as it is my favorite Disney treat. And would you believe they were refurbishing the machines?! That was my one disappointment the whole trip and in the scheme of vacations, that’s really not bad.

So did I indulge? Yes, yes I did. The difference in my eating habits this trip as opposed to the past was that I shared all snacks. I didn’t get a churro for myself, but took a bite from one of my kid’s. I shared a carton of popcorn with the whole family instead of scarfing one down by myself. I must admit I did look longingly at the Mickey Mouse ice cream treats. I am still worried that if I start eating large amounts of ice cream, I will start eating them on a regular basis, so I decided to pass on this food.

For meals, I ordered soup or shared entrees with my husband and kids. Having children, who during growth spurts, can eat like Olympic athletes, makes sharing meals easier and cheaper. We also brought snacks like almonds, turkey jerky and protein bars so we could snack when needed. Being ready with snacks and sharing meals made eating during our vacation easy and eliminated much of the stress I associate with eating out.

The other stressful situation I feared before our vacation was the rides. My son is now at the age where he wants to ride rollercoasters and fast, bumpy rides. The last time we went to Disney World, he was 6 and just starting to express an interest in rollercoasters. We did ride one rollercoaster, Big Thunder Mountain Railway then and I was scared the whole time. I wasn’t scared of the ride since Big Thunder isn’t really that fast, scary and doesn’t go upside down; I was scared for safety issues. I was terrified the bar wouldn’t go down far enough over my big belly and that I would squish my son. Neither happened, but the worry was always there.

No worries this trip! The bars on all the rides went down easily and I truly felt safe! And yes, I rode a scary rollercoaster that went upside down and I didn’t fall out. The California Screamin’ Rollercoaster was one of my favorite rides of the trip and I am so happy that I was able to share this experience with my son as a healthy mom.

So in the past, I am sure I would have gained more weight and been secretly terrified of the rides. This trip was perfect in so many ways: time with just my family, no schedule or commitments, and just plain fun! While it was a struggle to take off that pound I gained and to get back on track for losing weight, it was well worth it. And really, that’s what my journey is all about…being healthy for me and my family. Bumps in the road will arise, but I can conquer them with my sleeved stomach, support of my family and friends, but most importantly my belief that I am worth it and I can do. Going to the “Happiest Place on Earth” was the best reminder that I make my own “Happiest Place on Earth” right here and right now…