Tag Archives: Gastric Sleeve

Keeping Positive…Even in the Rain….and Through the Stress….

Five years and counting! I'm proud that since 2012, even before my gastric sleeve surgery, I've run a Thanksgiving race. Running keeps me going Down the Scale!

Five years and counting! I’m proud that since 2012, even before my gastric sleeve surgery, I’ve run a Thanksgiving race. Running keeps me going Down the Scale!

2016 is the year of change for me in many ways. I shared in my last blog  that we moved from California to Washington last month. I realized that running would keep me centered and help me feel at home in my new surroundings. I was sure that running my annual Turkey Trot race would help. Did it? Well, at times it did, and in times it made me more stressed about our move. Here’s what happened…

First, let me share that since 2012 I’ve run a Thanksgiving day race with my personal cheerleader, N. Not only did she get me to start running, but she has been with me at every Turkey Trot. She is always there at the finish line to snap a photo and congratulate me and go for coffee afterward. This would be the first year without her and I started to miss her from the day I signed up for a race here.

But I did sign up for a race! My two children decided to join me and I was thrilled. While this wouldn’t be the fun race through Golden Gate Park that I usually run, it would be exciting to race in a new place. The kids thought so, too….until the day before.

I never want to force my kids to do anything, so when they said they didn’t want to run, I tried to hold back my disappointment. OK, let me be honest, if I run by myself, I feel the need to push myself on time. I really wanted to make this run about family and not about the pace. Yes, I realize this is a silly notion that I am putting on myself. I’ve never claimed to have a sane mind, have I?

My son rallied the next morning and decided to join me! I was thrilled and quite impressed since it was raining. Oh, I don’t mind a sprinkle, but this was an official Washington downpour. We managed to keep positive and drive to the running store where the race was to begin and end.

My hope for this race was that we would meet some new friends. Well, this didn’t happen although everyone was friendly and chatty throughout the race. Since I was the only person wearing a turkey headband, or for that matter, anything turkey related, it was easy to start a conversation with us. Although we didn’t make new friends, we enjoyed the camaraderie that races have. I find that there’s always a positive energy at races.

We needed this positive energy as we ran the 5K through rain-soaked trails and unfamiliar neighborhoods. It was my son’s energy that kept me going and helped me forget this was a completely new course and that it was freezing cold! I think I learned just about everything there is to know about the current video games he plays, but we also talked about the changes we are facing in this move. While I always try to remain optimistic, I have to admit it’s always tough to move, even when it’s a positive change. I am thankful that Jack and I not only shared the run, but how we feel through this stressful time. He usually doesn’t run with me, but for this race he did and I was most thankful for it.

Running with my son is one of my greatest joys! He keeps me motivated and inspired! And up to date on all the latest video games during our runs.

Running with my son is one of my greatest joys! He keeps me motivated and inspired! And up to date on all the latest video games during our runs.

Well, he ran with me until the last quarter-mile and then he sprinted down the road to the finish. I didn’t mind as I was happy to see his face when I crossed the finish line. I missed my friend, N., but I was appreciative that Jack shared the moment with me. And he shared a trip to Starbucks with me, too, after the race. Coffee after a turkey trot is my tradition and I will keep to it, no matter where I am!

Running my 2016 Turkey Trot Race was tough physically and mentally, but I am thankful that I did it. It was a good reflection of the day-to-day struggles that I face during this stressful transition. More importantly, it was a good reminder that even when life is tough, or in this case cold and rainy, that there are positive things going on as well. Spending a day with my son and completing another 5K race are pretty special and I look forward to doing them again at next year’s Turkey Trot. While I know there are more stressful and difficult times ahead, I will keep looking for the positive as I continue to learn and grow during this transition and as I continue to go Down the Scale…

Let’s Get Uncomfortable

“You’ve become comfortable.”

Those important and truthful words were simply stated last week by my friend, N. She is one of my strongest supporters since I began my weight loss journey. She is also my most honest friend. She is brave enough to speak the truth even when I don’t want to hear it. That is the sign of a true friend.

“You’re right.”

Most people would consider this a "before and after" photo, but I like to think of it as a "before and my current state" photo. My weight loss journey continues to evolve as I strive to be the healthiest person I can be!

Most people would consider this a “before and after” photo, but I like to think of it as a “before and my current state” photo. My weight loss journey continues to evolve as I strive to be the healthiest person I can be!

That was my immediate response to N. When you speak without thinking, without filtering your spoken words, you know you’re sharing your truth.

Why did I agree I’ve become comfortable? Because I feel stagnant in my journey to become a healthy person. No, it’s not just about losing weight; it’s about physical and mental progress. For me, becoming comfortable can lead to falling, even jumping, backward. This is not what I want.

I’ve become complacent in terms of my physical health. The weight I gained over this past year is still here. I am used to it. And if I felt like this was where I wanted to be, that would be OK, but I don’t. I don’t like my tight jeans. I don’t like the new extra jiggle in my arms. When I’m honest with myself, I am not happy with my body now.

I’ve also eased off on my physical fitness. Having run my first half-marathon in May, I should set a new goal. I like having goals. I unabashedly admit I like to check off boxes on my own to-do list. I like something to focus on down the road. I’ve become too comfortable with running two to three miles twice a week and one spin class. While it’s great that I do have an exercise routine, I’ve been comfortable just keeping the same pace and exertion.

The biggest area I’ve become comfortable with is eating. Yes, my gastric sleeve stomach keeps me from overeating, but I admit I have been snacking more. The protein bars I claim to buy for meals have turned into candy bar snacks. It’s easy to slip back into poor eating habits. “I’ll starting eating less and drinking more water” is my new Sunday night mantra.

Now that I’m being honest with myself, what do I do next? Staying comfortable is not an option. I need to push myself to get over this plateau and stop the backward sliding into poor habits. I want to get to the next level of mental and physical fitness. This means being uncomfortable. It doesn’t mean forgetting where I’ve come from, though.  This just means reminding myself of the success I’ve achieved. I’ve come along way, baby! I’m maintaining a huge weight loss, exercising regularly, and, for the most part, eating healthier. Yes, I am proud of where I am, but I know I can do better. I can be better.

And this is what I’m going to do to get to the next level of health: I’m going to get uncomfortable:

*It’s time to weigh myself weekly. While I’m a firm believer that the scale isn’t the end all, be all of fitness, it does give me a tangible indicator of where my health is going. My blog isn’t called “Down the Scale” for nothing!

*Crank up the physical intensity. I already started last week at spin class by turning up the resistance on my bike. I ran faster and longer on this morning’s run. Sure, I was tired after each outing, but my head and body felt better. Pushing through the initial pain made me improve. I still need to come up with a tangible goal like last year’s half-marathon, but starting to challenge myself in my every day life is a good start!

*Back to eating mindfully. Snacking, for me, is a mindless activity. Snacking, even if it’s healthy food, is mostly done without thought. I do it for the instant gratification or to help ignore stress, pain or depression. I promise to take the time to think about why I’m eating. I know this will be the most uncomfortable step in my continuing journey. It’s easier to ignore my feelings by eating. That is my lifelong struggle.

When I began sharing my experiences, I thought I would have a definite before and after photo and story. Yes, I have before photos, but the after photos and stories are just landmarks on my personal map. Sometimes these landmarks are strong and majestic, but some times they are more weak and ugly. And by ugly I mean negative, unhappy and dull. They are not the places you want to stop at when looking at a map, but I’ve learned I can get through those places.

When I am complacent in taking care of my body, mind, and soul, I slide back into bad habits and negative thinking. It’s easy to be comfortable in the dark. Pushing out of the dark and into the light is hard, sometimes frightening and it is definitely not a straight line type of journey. For me, stepping forward after going backward is always worth it. Being truthful is hard! Here I go being honest as I seek out new, positive landmarks on my journey Down the Scale….

Cooking and Weight Loss Go Hand in Hand

I love cooking with my kids!  And maybe one day, I'll get them to chop the onions!

I love cooking with my kids! And maybe one day, I’ll get them to chop the onions!

You learn many things when you start a weight loss journey. Of course you learn about exercising and eating right. You learn about taking care of your head and heart as well as your body. One of the more practical things I learned over the past three years is to cook. Yes, I could cook before my gastric sleeve surgery, but I’ve realized that I’m actually a better cook now than I was before I lost weight.

I can definitely attribute some of my adult weight gain to my cooking skills…well, my lack there of cooking skills. I claimed it was easier and cheaper just to get take-out or buy frozen meals since I lived on my own. I lived so close to quick and cheap take-out restaurants so it was convenient as well.

When I moved in with my husband, we weren’t the best at cooking at home either. Occasionally we would be inspired to cook new foods, but most of the time we just made pasta dishes since they were quick and simple. And when we added two children to the family, cooking became another chore, another necessity to keep the kids happy and heathy. Take out food, frozen meals, and once the kids could sit at a restaurant without too much damage, eating out were just the easiest ways to eat.

Now I can’t say that post gastric sleeve surgery meant I was suddenly the next Julia Child. For the first few months, food was a chore and I wasn’t really interested in expanding my cooking skills. And while I did start to cook at home more often, it’s really been the past year that I’ve made more of an effort. When I started to analyze labels and food costs I decided to make a change. I knew by cooking at home I would eat better, my family would eat better, and more importantly, I would set a better example for my children. How can I send them out into the world and expect them to cook on their own if I haven’t shown them?

So what am I cooking these days? Here are a few examples:

  • Crock pot meals are awesome! Really, there’s nothing better than to come home in the afternoon to the smell of a home cooked meal! Now, there is some prep work to making a crock pot meal like browning meat or chopping vegetables. Of course, there are recipes that are just a protein thrown in with a canned soup, but I avoid those since they’re full of sodium and not always the tastiest. Here are a few of my favorite meals:
  • The oven is also your friend! As much as I love my crock pot, I’ve found a number of easy meals to make in the oven. Some of my regulars are:
    • Crispy Chicken Thighs. These are boneless and skinless, but with just a bit of seasoning and olive oil, this recipe reminds me a bit of fried chicken. Not only is it healthier than fried chicken, it’s easier to make. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/269512358930672295/
    • Baked Fish. I admit I wasn’t a big fan of fish in the past. Once I realized that fish really is good for you and doesn’t have many calories, I became a convert. I still only like the meaty white fish, but it’s a start. I buy wild caught Mahi Mahi from Trader Joe’s and with just a little olive oil spray, seasonings, and lemon, it makes a great meal in less than 15 minutes.
    • Zucchini lasagna. First, let me say, this takes a bit of prep work. Sure, using pasta noodles instead of zucchini would make it easier, but I think the zucchini actually tastes better than pasta and, of course, it’s fewer calories! I’ve recruited the whole family to help me make this dish and that in itself makes it a fantastic meal! https://www.pinterest.com/pin/269512358930794427/
  • Prepared meals are a necessity, too! Listen, we all have days when dinner needs to be quick and easy. Here are a few meals that make my life a little easier some days:
    • Prepared salads are fast, easy and tasty. Trader Joe’s has a wonderful selection of salads, but you really need to read the labels. I always check the calories on each salad. Remember, salad doesn’t always equal healthy. Salad dressings and toppings can be full of fats, sugars, and calories. My current favorite is the Lemon Chicken & Arugula Salad. It’s a nice mix of flavors and only 300 calories for the whole package!
    • Pre-seasoned meats. While I mentioned earlier I’m not a big fan of crock pot meals made with canned soups, there are days I don’t have a lot of time to prep a meal. My go-to pre-seasoned meat is Trader Joe’s Cabernet Beef Pot Roast. It’s flavorful and we always have leftovers. Some days, you just need to let someone else do some of the work for you.

Again, I’m not a fancy cook by any means, but I’ve learned a few tricks to make my meals better:

  • Flavored salts go a long way to make food better. Almost every day I use Eatwell Farms flavored salts that I buy at our local farmers’ market. Rosemary salt goes on thinly cut pork chops while heirloom tomato salt is perfect on roasted vegetables. To add more flavor to baked fish, I use the lemon salt.
  • Switch things up! I admit that I get in a rut when it comes to cooking. I tend to do the same meals over and over. While it does make life easier, it also makes dinner boring. I’ve learned to mix things up; not every Tuesday needs to be Taco Tuesday. I also plan to change how we eat our favorite meals like fish. Baked fish is great, but why not make it into fish tacos?
  • Getting the whole family involved in cooking is fun. Of course my kids love to bake cookies every Christmas, but I finally noticed that they enjoy cooking all year round. My kids love to help in the kitchen and I’ve learned that they can do more than I realized. Somehow I always end up being the one to chop onions, but they like to chop other vegetables and brown the meats on the stove. The zucchini lasagna has become a family meal from prep to cooking to eating!

Don’t get me wrong, we still enjoy the occasional take-out meal and restaurants. Who doesn’t? And sometimes you have to eat the best and quickest way you can that night. But now that I put effort into meal planning and recruited the best sous chefs, we have better meals. Learning to cook and appreciating healthy and tasty food is one of the best results of my healthier lifestyle. The fact that I am sharing this with my children is even better. I am thankful I can share this positive effect of my weight loss journey as I continue to go Down the Scale…

I love that the whole family takes part in cooking dinner.  Zucchini Lasagna is our current favorite!

I love that the whole family takes part in cooking dinner. Zucchini Lasagna is our current favorite!

Three Years and Counting: My Gastric Sleeve Anniversary Month!

The month of June means many things to people, like the start of summer, but for me it’s my three-year anniversary of my gastric sleeve surgery! I find that every year brings new challenges; surgery does not mean instant and constant success. On my three-year anniversary I find I am still working harder than ever to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This past year is full of successes and failures, so let me share what I’ve learned this year…

From 2013 to 2016, I've made many changes to my life through gastric sleeve surgery!

From 2013 to 2016, I’ve made many changes to my life through gastric sleeve surgery!

First, I’ll start with the failures. Well, maybe failure isn’t the right word, but at times my mistakes or missteps feel like overwhelming failures. First, I’ve gained weight this year. I’m up eight pounds from last year. It feels like I’ve gained a ton of weight, especially when I put on my jeans. Tight jeans are not fun nor comfortable. The fact I can put them on still is a relief, but at the end of the day, I can’t wait to get them off.

So what happened this year? A few things, but I must admit, I’ve had a bit of an invincibility complex.

Here are a few of my thoughts this year:

  • “Hey, I’ve maintained almost a 100+ pound weight loss at times, so I’ll get these extra pounds off in no time!”
  • “I’ll just eat a pastry with my coffee today, but not the next time.” Guess what I did the next time?
  • “I’ll just walk or run more and I’ll burn off those extra snacks I had today.”
  • “I’ve kept off 90 pounds, isn’t that enough?”

I always laugh when I read online about how gastric sleeve surgery is a short-cut and the easy way out. Well, I’m here to tell you that gastric sleeve surgery is not an easy lifetime fix. Sure, I lost over 100 pounds in a little more than a year, but weight loss still isn’t easy for me. I don’t mean to burst anyone’s bubble who is thinking about weight loss surgery, but I think it’s important to be honest about the reality of surgery.

Sure, my small stomach keeps me from eating too much at one time. I still eat smaller meals, but snacking is still a problem. And if I decide to treat myself with food like chips, I can eat more of that than I can something like vegetables or fruit. This year I’ve fallen into the trap of pretending that one little treat like chips or sweets really doesn’t add up. Um, yes, yes, it does!

This year it was like I had a Superman logo on my chest, but mine said “GSS” for gastric sleeve surgery. The sleeve is not a shield keeping me from food. It’s not a shield from the stress and depression I experience. Yes, food can be my Kryptonite, but unlike Superman, I can’t avoid it. I have to eat to live.

So since June 2015, I’ve told myself that the weight I’ve gained will come off easily when I get to it. Well, now that June 2016 is here and that hasn’t happened, I’ll call part of this year’s journey a failure.

It’s not a complete failure, though! While this weight gain is hanging around my neck, or actually it’s hanging around my stomach and thighs to be specific, I ‘m going to take this time to think of what has gone right this year. Yes, I feel like I do have some successes to share on my anniversary! Some highlights from this year are:

  • I ran a half-marathon! Yes, this woman who didn’t consider herself athletic three years ago, ran 13.1 miles… for fun! I followed a training plan and did it. Yes, I am very proud of myself! I set a goal to do it and I did it with the overwhelming help and support of my family and friends.
  • I sought help during the most stressful times. I found that acupuncture and therapy were two ways I could improve my health, both physically and mentally. There are times when you need people outside your family and friends to help you see the big picture and to work on ways to improve your health. There is no shame in asking for help when life get tough.
  • I didn’t buy bigger clothes. To some, this might seem like a strange success, but in the past, I would just buy larger clothes when I gained weight. Trust me, it’s easier to buy clothes than lose weight, but it doesn’t make you feel any better. I’ve been tempted to buy the next size up in jeans, but I won’t let myself. I know that I can maintain my current size with a little room to spare.

After having a year filled with failures and successes, where do I go from here? I think acknowledging how my failures have come about is the first and most important step in my continuing journey. I need to be accountable for the foods I eat and I’ve gone back to tracking my food on MyFitnessPal. I’m aware of what I’m eating, and more importantly, when I’m eating. Realizing that I’m eating when I feel stressed or bored, is helping me think about it. I’m saying no to sweets with my coffee and realizing that I’m just has satisfied without them.

Creating new goals is helping me keep a positive mindset which in turns keeps me healthy. If my mind isn’t occupied I tend to snack and be less mindful of what I’m eating. Last year my big goal was to run a half-marathon, but I’m not adding a full-marathon to my goals. I’m not that crazy…well, not yet at least. Here are some new goals I have come up with:

  • Write more! I keep saying I’m going to turn my blog into a book and that I want to write my first mystery novel. Well, no time like the present! I’ve learned that I need to separate my writing time from my “mom time.” Trying to concentrate at my house with all my “home responsibilities” is tough for me. I’m learning to get over the guilt of “me time” and learn to accept the help my ever-supportive husband gives me with a thank you and then head out the door.
  • Find new types of exercise! I will always run because I love it, but I know I need to try new exercises to help my body and mind stay healthy. I’m starting small with the seven minute workout app that features body weight exercises. This might be the year to add in yoga regularly or start Pilates. I’m open to new workouts, but I’ll never say no to a run.
  • Have more faith! What in the world does this mean? Well, when life is tough, I tend to feel it with every bit of my heart, head and soul. Sure, I make statements like “Everything happens for a reason.” and “It always works out for the best.”, and while I do believe it, I don’t always act like that. I can get depressed, stressed, and angry about things, many of which I can’t control. While I always pull myself out of this state, some times my feelings go on for too long. And I know this affects my health, especially when I use food to numb or comfort myself. I hope that writing, exercising, talking it out, and some good old-fashioned prayer will get me through the pain and stress faster, and hopefully, lessen these situations.

While it’s been a tough three-year anniversary, I’m thankful that I can share the ups and downs of my weight loss journey. Keeping off 90+pounds for these past years is a success and I remind myself of that every day. And I will also remind myself that losing weight isn’t a onetime moment for me. I will always have to work on my health; it’s just part of who I am. Accepting my shortcomings as well as taking pride in my successful traits, is an important part of my journey as I continue to go Down the Scale toward year four….

“Just Keeping Swimming” and Other Water Metaphors

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here at Down the Scale. I guess I’ve been waiting for some big weight loss or outstanding accomplishment to share. Well, I’m still waiting.

The past few months have been stressful for a variety of reasons and my 10 pound weight gain from the holidays is still here. It’s as if I haven’t thrown out my Christmas tree and it’s taunting me with its brown needles and limp branches. I just haven’t been able to get over the “hump” and get back to losing weight. What’s a girl to do?

12 Mile Training Run

Here I am at mile 2 of my 12 mile training run for my first half-marathon next month. When I had my gastric sleeve surgery 3 years ago, I never imagined I would be able to run this far! Running is my anchor!

This girl did a few things! First I’m admitting to the world that my jeans are tight, I’m still snacking (albeit on better foods than the holidays) and that I’m scared. I’m terrified of going back to the “old” me: the overweight, unmotivated about my health kind of person that I was most of my life. Yes, I’m admitting this on my blog, but the first person I really admitted it to was my therapist.

I’ve talked about going to therapy in many of my blog posts and once again, I can’t stress the importance of having a professional to talk to about weight loss, stress and basically anything else in life you need to talk about! I went to see my therapist about everything going on and told her I just can’t get back on track. “How do I do it?”, I asked. And she just said, “You’re here now. This is your starting point.” Why, yes, yes it is!

So we talked about my struggles with food and then exercise came up. I told her that I’m training for my first half-marathon in May. Her eyes opened wide and she said that was great! I shared that running is the one thing I have been able to stick to during these stressful months. She said, “Running is your anchor.”

That phrase is now one of my mottos as it pretty much sums up one of the most important aspects of my weight loss journey. Whether I’m running slow or even walking, I’m moving my body. My time to run is all about me. It’s my time to exercise, but more importantly it clears my head. I use that time to listen to music, to daydream and to get out the tension in my body and soul. Whether my run is short or long, I always feel better afterwards.

Talking about running with my therapist helped me get a little perspective on my journey. At this time last year I was prepping for my longest race, a 10K. This weekend I’m running a 10 mile race and then in less than a month I’m running 13.1 miles! I will proudly toot my own horn and say that it’s pretty awesome!

So running is my anchor, but what do I do next? In the poignant words of Dory, “Just keep swimming.” In my case, swimming means taking care of myself. I feel like I’ve been treading water, so to speak, and that’s OK. Well, it’s OK for a while. Eventually you have to swim or you’ll sink; you can’t tread water forever.

I’ve focused on these 10 pounds and it’s been more stressful than helpful. While I need to get them off so that I feel better and so that my clothes fit better, I think I need to approach it a different way. I’ve got to find a balance of being more aware of my eating habits without obsessing about them. Honestly, I’m not sure how I’m going to do that. It’s something for me to figure out. I don’t want to live my life obsessed with a number, but I don’t want to go back to not caring about it either.

Back into the weight loss pool I go! I think I have enough water metaphors to help me get back on track to the healthy person I know I can be. It’s been almost 3 years since my gastric sleeve surgery and I’ve kept off about 90 pounds! Sometimes you just need a reminder of where you’ve been, both good and bad, to get you back on course. Here I am, diving back into the waters of weight loss and more importantly, health, at Down the Scale….

A Good Reminder?

Normally when you get a letter from the DMV stating you can renew your license either online or by mail, you jump for joy.  I can’t think of anyone who enjoys waiting in those long, endless lines at the DMV.  So when I received my letter, there shouldn’t have been a doubt that I would avoid the DMV, but I haven’t renewed it just yet.  It’s all because of this photo:

Here is my driver license photo from 2011, pre-gastric sleeve surgery. Not a bad photo except for the extra 100 pounds I weighed!

Here is my driver license photo from 2011, pre-gastric sleeve surgery. Not a bad photo except for the extra 100 pounds I weighed!

 

This is me from 2011.  It’s obviously pre-gastric sleeve surgery.  It’s actually not a bad photo except for the extra 100 pounds I was carrying.  I can avoid the hells of the DMV and just live with this photo another five years.  So why am I even contemplating renewing my license in person?

Of course, it’s all about the photo.  It’s an upsetting reminder of the literal and psychological weight I was carrying.  Sometimes I forgot who I was back then.  I have many friends tell me that they just think of me as I am now:  healthy and happy, not the obese woman who hid so many painful feelings.  And on a practical note, it causes delays when I present this ID at the airport or for any type of verification.  I get a few raised eyebrows when I give my ID to someone, but I’ve just learned to smile and say I’ve lost weight to keep the line moving.

A new photo will represent the new me. The healthier and happier me.  I would say a new picture would show the person I am striving to be:  the woman who does her best to be treat her body and mind with the respect and nurture she needs.  I will always be a work in progress, but I think my current photos show me as the person I want to be and not just an obese woman.  Because let’s face it, when you look at a picture of someone who is obese, most people notice the obesity first, if they can even look past it.

Besides avoiding the DMV, why would I consider keeping this photo? Well, it’s a good reminder of how far I’ve come.  Yes, I am proud of my success, but honestly, I struggle every single day with food.  I am embarrassed to say I’m still struggling with the holiday weight gain.  I’m letting stress and fear get in my way.  I am working on it through exercise, positive reflection, more mindful eating, and a bit of good old-fashioned prayer.  Looking at my driver’s license photo is tangible proof of my success.  More importantly it’s a reminder of where I’ve been and gives me the encouragement to continue focusing on my weight loss journey.

I have about a week to decide if I should keep my current license photo or go get a new one.  Any thoughts, my readers?  One of the greatest parts of my journey is the encouragement and advice I receive from my friends, family and blog community.  I would love your opinions as I think about braving the DMV and continuing to go Down the Scale…

Lack of Anticipation….

Here we are in mid-January and I have to say I’m not doing as well getting back to my heathy lifestyle. Oh, it’s not like I’ve gone back to my pre-surgery habits, but I haven’t gone back to my pre-holiday habits either. The Christmas break lackadaisical way of eating is more in play than I’d like to admit. I’m back to nonfat lattes, but sugary snacks are finding their way into my pudgier than I would like belly. What to do, what to do….

For the past few weeks I’ve tried to think of how to get back on track. For some strange reason I thought of Helen Mirren in the movie Gosford Park. (Spoiler alert!) My heart broke when her character, Mrs. Wilson, explains how she knew her son was going to try to kill his father. It’s because she’s a good servant who can anticipate the needs of those she serves. She knows what they need before they do.

The Tinker Bell Half Marathon is keeping me motivated to maintain my post gastric sleeve lifestyle!

The Tinker Bell Half Marathon is keeping me motivated to maintain my post gastric sleeve lifestyle!

Now, I’m not putting on the martyr hat and declaring myself a servant. Although when my adorable children yell down the hall for a new roll of toilet paper that is within their reach, I feel like Cinderella, and I don’t mean the glass slippers version. What I relate to is Mrs. Wilson being able to anticipate other people’s needs when it’s clear she is subverting her own.

Again, I’m not being melodramatic and saying my needs aren’t important. If that was the case I would never have started my Down the Scale journey. What I’ve noticed is that I’m not anticipating my own needs. I always try (but admittedly don’t always succeed) to be there for my family and friends. I try to be as helpful and prepared for them as I can be. When I’m not prepared for my own needs, though, life is harder than it should be.

For example, I’m always a bit sad after the holidays. I love the break and spending time with my ever-supportive hubby and sweet kids, but I miss the East Coast and my family back there. January means back to demanding schedules and early, dark evenings and with El Niño it means lots and lots of rain.

I should be prepared for this and find ways to combat the post-holiday blues since this happens every year. Instead I let myself keep to my erratic eating and exercising habits. In December I should anticipate my upcoming funk and make a plan of action.

Even though I missed planning ahead, I still can change my mindset. Yes, I’m suffering from East Coast homesickness, but I’m working on summer plans to visit our families. Anticipating a trip always makes me feel better.

The biggest and most useful preparation I can make is to have better food choices, so when I get the January blues, I’m not using food to numb my feelings. All the holiday treats are now out of the house. While low-fat cherry Greek yogurt isn’t the same as peppermint bark, it’s a better choice. No more peppermint mochas, just nonfat lattes.

I’m not sure why I didn’t think about my two upcoming Disneyland trips to help combat my post holiday depression. First is a family trip which is one of the happiest trips my family makes each year. It’s one of the fun and silliest times with my Disney crazy family! And I want to be at my healthiest because there will be lots of walking and I want to look good for my annual photo with Thor. Or maybe Captain America this year.

Then there is my first half marathon in May. I am nervous but I’m excited to complete this big goal in my weight loss journey. Training is tough, but deep down I know I can do it. I am now following a training schedule which is easy to follow and fits into my schedule. I also bought new running shoes and a running raincoat is on order so I can run even in the rain.

While I can’t fix my rough start this year, I hope this revelation will stick in my mind as the year progresses. There is the winter slump, the sugar crash post-Easter, the first wearing of the bathing suit and the mid-summer “how do I keep my kids from fighting anymore blues”, just to name a few events.

My plan is to prepare my head, heart and pantry for these upcoming challenging times. Since I don’t have Helen Mirren anticipating my needs, it’s up to me. Being responsible for myself is the best thing I can do as I continue to go Down the Scale.

No to Resolutions. Yes to Re-Commitments

Yes, I’m saying no once again to New Year’s resolutions just as I did last year. As I shared last January, I feel like they set me up for failure. Why should the start of a new year require me to set goals? Of course I make goals all year long like running a half-marathon and decluttering my home. Instead of resolutions I decided to recommit myself to my weight loss/healthy living goals. It all started with resizing my rings.

Here I am with my properly fitting rings to start off the new year!

Here I am with my properly fitting rings to start off the new year!

What do rings and recommitment have to do with a healthy life? For me, resizing my wedding and engagement rings were the final piece of my weight loss metamorphosis. My big, loose rings were the last physical reminder of my obese life. I admit it was nice to have a reminder of how far I’ve come over the past few years since my gastric sleeve surgery. The rings spinning around on my slim fingers said to me, “See, you did it!”

But there was a part of me that was scared to have them permanently resized. I’ve lost and gained more weight in my lifetime than I can count, so thinking of myself at this weight permanently was daunting. No, it was frightening.

So for the past few years I put off doing it, which is really silly considering if I need to adjust my rings I could do it. For full disclosure, these aren’t even my original rings. I had my engagement ring reset to a different shade of gold and the wedding ring is a new one I needed when I gained my pregnancy weight the first time around. So even with that in mind, I still thought of the act of resizing my rings as the final commitment to my new life as a healthy woman.

Finally, I took my rings to the jewelery store. It was fitting that my friend, N., who was instrumental in me starting my journey three years ago, came with me. I slipped off my rings and handed them to jeweler who looked a bit confused by the size of them. I went from a size 8 ½ to a 5. Yes, even fingers lose weight! As I proudly shared my story with him, I knew I was doing the right thing.

I did panic though when I picked the rings up a few weeks later. They felt tight and restrictive. My face must have given away my fear as the jeweler told me to come back if they felt too tight. It reminded me of the day after my surgery, when I struggled to sip water and felt panicked about my decision. No one likes to second guess themselves.

No, I didn’t take them back. I would say they’ve loosened up, but I think it’s me who’s loosened up. It’s great to have rings that fit properly. And that’s how I feel about my healthy life now. It’s the right fit. I can’t imagine not being the person I am today. Sure, I still want to lose a few more pounds, run faster and handle stress better. I think most people are always striving to improve a little, or a lot. I know that I am healthier and happier than I’ve ever been in my life.

2016 is not the start of new resolutions, but a recommitment to the positive and healthy changes I made years ago. My perfectly fitting rings symbolize not only my commitment to my ever-supportive husband and the family we created, but to myself. They are a good reminder of the best commitments I choose. I will continue my commitments this year as I keep 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.

Keep on Trotting…

From 2012 to 2015 and from 5K to 5 Miles, the Turkey Trot continues for me! Just like my gastric sleeve journey continues!

From 2012 to 2015 and from 5K to 5 Miles, the Turkey Trot continues for me! Just like my gastric sleeve journey continues!

Another Thanksgiving is over which means I’ve run my fourth Turkey Trot race!  I’ve gone from running a 5K to running 5 miles in four years.  This year was almost harder than my first race though…

How can I say that?  I’m over a 100 pounds lighter than my first race and I’ve run farther than five miles on regular workouts and even ran my first 10K this past Spring!  Well, sometimes things don’t go the way you plan, but if there is one important thing I’ve learned in my gastric sleeve journey is that you have to remember that sometimes trying is more important than succeeding.

Now this isn’t to say that I don’t consider the 2015 Turkey Trot a success.  My running mantra is and always will be “You just have to finish!”  So I did finish the race and with a respectable time, but it wasn’t the time I wanted.  My first two miles went really well and I ran at a great pace and I ran more than I walked. Yeah me!

Then the pain started.  Sigh.  At first I thought the pins from my racing bib were sticking me in the stomach.  I even checked!  No, it was abdominal muscle pain.  I was so frustrated and confused.  I’ve run longer distances the past few months so I wasn’t sure why my muscles were strained.

I slowed down and even with the pain, I kept going.  I was scared that something was really wrong.  After two c-sections, a vertical abdominal hernia repair and a tummy tuck, my poor abdomen has been through Hell.  I must admit I go to the edge of crazy when I worry about my body.  “I’m going to need surgery AGAIN!” I screamed in my head.  I watched racers in turkey costumes run past me and I knew I was doomed to have my first unfinished race.  I would be found clutching my adorable turkey headband in the middle of a trail in Golden Gate Park by my worried, but mostly embarrassed son who had finished two hours earlier.  What a way to go…

Finally, I realize that if I could still walk, I must be OK. I shook off my drama queen attitude and straighten my turkey headband.  “All I have to do is finish” was my battle cry!   I managed to run and walk the next three miles and finish about the same time as I did last year.  My abdomen would not defeat me!  Well, actually it was more of my “Debbie Downer” attitude that would have been my downfall.

Yes, I was disappointed and frustrated, but I finished!  And to have my friend N. waiting for me at the finish line as she has done for the past four years, I couldn’t help but smile.  And then I found my son, who naturally finished way ahead of me, I was happy once again.

My abdominal muscles were sore the rest of the day, but I recovered with a bit of rest and pain relievers.  And the knowledge that I kept true to one my weight loss slogan of “You just have to finish!” made me happier than a piece of pumpkin pie.  Really, it’s true!

One of the best parts of running is having my son join me at races! He did his first Turkey Trot this year and next up is the Santa Run!

One of the best parts of running is having my son join me at races! He did his first Turkey Trot this year and next up is the Santa Run!