Tag Archives: Goals

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….

2018:  The Back to Resolutions Year

Back to Running 2018

I survived my first run of 2018! It great felt to get back to running: a top resolution for the new year! Looking for to my recommitment to running and my weight loss journey!

 

For the past few years, I didn’t make any resolutions.  As I mentioned back in 2015, I decided not to make them as I always felt they set me up for failure.  I made re-commitments instead.  Now that it’s 2018 and I’m looking back, I don’t believe there is much difference between the words.  Sometimes you just need to change the words you use in your life to make things seem easier or different.  For me in 2018, it will be “The Back to Resolutions Year.”

So why the change of heart this year?  Well, I am embarrassed to admit it, but 2017 was a year without concrete personal goals.  Yes, I did accomplish many goals last year such as

  • Moving my family from one state to another and then to another town all in nine months.  There are so many smaller accomplishments under this list, but the fact that we’re happy and feel settled in our new hometown is all I need to say.
  • I learned that I can run without walking for over a mile at a time.  I finally got over my fear that I couldn’t run without stopping.  I still have a much to do, but the fact I can do it is thrilling.
  • I lived through an elimination diet and actually learned a few facts about nutrition that I use to this day.  I learned that almonds trigger an allergic reaction and that I can live with less sugar in food.  And I still make some of the recipes I learned that month.  Meatloaf is still my kids favorite recipe.
  • I started my first mystery novel.  This book has been floating around in my brain and heart for so many years, but in 2017 I finally started to put it down on paper.

Now that I’m writing down my accomplishments of 2017, I’m feeling pretty good!  While I’m happy with what I’ve done, there are goals I’ve slacked on.  These include:

  • I haven’t lost any weight this year.  And as much as I hate to write this, I know I have actually gained weight.  I don’t need a scale to tell me this. Tighter clothes, less exercise and a lack of desire to do it, and a general feel of “blah” are all I need to show me that my lack of focus have caused me to gain weight.
  • While I started off 2017 with a trainer and a dedicated workout schedule, once we moved to our second home, I gave up.  I ran occasionally and did a few weight workouts, but nothing like the serious schedule I followed in the beginning of the year.
  • My mystery novel is perhaps a third of the way done, but I could be farther along if I had set aside the time to work on it.

And now I’m depressed about the lack of accomplishments.  And that’s OK. I feel it’s important to be honest about the good as well as the bad going on in my life.  Honesty in my blog and in my day-to-day life is what has kept me going on my weight loss journey since 2013. Of course I’d rather share the positives than the negatives, but it wouldn’t make me an honest person.  I’m not looking or wanting to present myself as this perfect example of a gastric sleeve surgery patient and someone who has an easy time with food and living a consistent healthy lifestyle.  I am far from perfect.

Now that I’ve told you the good and bad of last year, what am I planning to do this year?  Yes, the part about resolutions.  Before I share my list of goals, I want to tell you one of the most important part of setting resolutions for me is PUTTING IT ON THE CALENDAR.

I’m not yelling at you, but I feel it’s an essential part of my 2018 plans.  I’ve learned that if I don’t put an activity on the calendar, I don’t take it seriously.  I put everything on the calendar for my kids and hubby.  I make sure everyone’s activities are noted so we don’t forget them.  Sure, I’ve put my appointments on the calendar, but not my exercise or writing time. It’s changing this year. Here are the resolutions on the calendar this year:

  • My running schedule is posted three days a week, every week until my half-marathon in July.  One thing I’ve really missed from living in California is running races on a regular basis.  Fortunately I have made wonderful friends in our new hometown who decided running a half-marathon this year would be a great idea!  I am thrilled to have a new running goal for this year, but also for the encouragement and support of local friends.  
  • My writing schedule is on the calendar for five days a week.  I had a hard time setting up that repeating event.  As a stay-at-home mom, I feel guilty setting this much time aside.  My amazing ever-supportive husband insisted I make the time to write though.  I always feel like I should be doing other things like laundry and dishes during my writing time, but I generally don’t produce my best writing when I multitask.  As I somewhat obsessive multitasker, this is one of the hardest goals to strive for this year.  

So far these are the two new year’s resolutions I’ve put on the calendar.  I’m contemplating others like meal prep and cooking days; reading books; yoga; and other positive self-care activities.  I think it might be a bit overwhelming to put all of this on the calendar.  Can you imagine all the calendar alerts I would get in a day?!  

Instead I believe that by setting two of my most important and attainable goals, exercise and writing, it will naturally lead me to make other important goals a priority in my life.  So whether I call it a recommitment or resolution, I am thankful I have the support and encouragement of my family and friends to keep making positive and healthy living a priority.  I look forward to a healthy, happy year as I refocus on my goals so I can continue to go Down the Scale…

Days Will Come and Go…Down the Scale…

As corny as this may sound, I am thankful to have my ever-supportive hubby by my side as I swing through my weight loss journey! Through the ups and downs, he is always by my side as I navigate my new life since my gastric sleeve surgery.

I think I’ve been pretty honest throughout the past four years of my gastric sleeve blog that I have control issues.  Obviously I do since I’ve had weight issues all my life. Weight gain isn’t necessarily all about control; for me it’s an emotional issue more than anything.  While I am doing better dealing with my emotions, this past weekend I was the poster child for epic meltdowns.  It wasn’t pretty and I’m fortunate that I’ve kept my family and friends who experienced it.  Now that I’m over it, I’m ready to tackle my control issues or rather learn to deal with what I can’t control.

First, let me say, I lead a charmed life.  When I share my “woe is me” and self-pity episodes, I’m pretty embarrassed.  I realize how fortunate I am to have a loving family, supportive friends, and the ability to lead the life I have.   When things go wrong though, I tend to forget all the good things in my life.  I focus on what’s going wrong or what I can’t have or what I can’t control.  Yes, my chest-heaving sobs and dark moods make me a lovely person to be with.

Finally, I pulled myself from this self-pity abyss and began to focus on the good in my life and the positive changes that are happening and will happen.  It seems pretty silly that I love change, but when I’m not in control of some changes, I, for a lack of better words, freak out.  It was when I was singing this verse from one of my favorite Foo Fighters song, “Saint Cecilia,” that I stopped to think how true this is for me:

“I know no matter what I say

Days will come and go

No matter what I say

Nothing’s set in stone

No matter what I say

Days go by”

What I mean by these lyrics is that I tend to think I can change things even when I can’t.  While my head understands there are things out of my control, I still want to control them.  But what I finally started to come to terms with this past week is that yes, “days will come and go, no matter what I say.”  Time is going to pass no matter what, so it’s up to me on how I live.  I can dwell on the negative or appreciate the positive.

No, I’m not saying I’m going to be Little Miss Sunshine all the time.  I don’t think that’s truly possible and I think it would be unbelievably stressful to try to be perky all the time.  But I know I’m happier and healthier when I focus on the positive and not the negative.  I’m a better wife, mother, friend, and human being when I focus on the good in my world.

If you’re wondering what this has to do with my weight loss journey, I’ll tell you that it has everything to do with it.  Mental health goes hand in hand with physical health.  My head tells me that I should control my weight if I can’t control other things, but for me it doesn’t work that way.  I let everything go when I feel out of control, especially eating.  Sugar made a comeback this weekend.  The instant gratification of sugar left so quickly and I still had my anger and sadness and now guilt was added to the list of negative feelings I felt.  

Now that I’m done “mourning” what I can’t control, I’m working very hard on remaining positive and thinking about what I can control, or at least, be happy about what is going right.  I’m taking charge of my goals and working toward them.  One of the ways I’m doing this is by communicating what I need from the people in my life.  No one can help you if you don’t tell people what you need.  So far, no one in my life is psychic, so I need to actually say the words and not assume or hope my needs and desires are understood.

I’m running more often and I feel better every time I do it.  My training sessions are very helpful and by adding more running to my week, I feel even more invigorated and happy.  Being exhausted after a workout helps me feel in control and I believe it relieves me of much of my anxiety and stress.

After my sugar binge this weekend, I’m back to eating mindfully and making better choices.  My elimination diet showed me that almonds aren’t good for me.  My doctor told me that people who are sensitive to almonds can experience more anxiety and after eating them twice, I found that to be true for me.  I know that eating healthier foods and avoiding foods like sugar and almonds which make me anxious and guilty, I am more in control of my body and mind.

 
So, here I go on my continuing journey trying to be the healthiest person I can be.  It’s not always pretty, but all in all, it’s a very good life that I have the privilege of leading.  I’m thankful I have the opportunity to make the changes I want to make, but more importantly I am thankful that I’m learning to handle the changes I can’t make.  Days will come and go and I plan to keep them going Down the Scale…

Engaging My Core

How could I not be engaged with these people? The ups and downs of my weight loss journey reminds me to remember what is really important: making your life a priority. For me, spending more time with my family is my top priority!

“Remember to engage your core.”

I hear these words for an hour twice a week now that I workout with my trainer, H.  Dedicating two hours a week to exercising with the guidance of a trainer is helping me improve my physical health, but focusing on my physical core made me think about my core in a mental sense.  What I mean is that for my body to work better, I need to engage my core to support the rest of my body no matter what exercise I’m doing.  It’s also my mental core that needs engaging as well these days.

The past few weeks I felt unfocused, like I was going through the motions of life, but not really feeling it.  I have all these goals in my head, but I wasn’t working toward any of them.  Sure, I’ve been eating better and exercising more, but I still didn’t feel fulfilled.  It wasn’t until my training session last Thursday when H. reminded me to engage my core muscles that it hit me.  I’m not engaged in anything.

Now, I’m not saying I’ve just ignored my family, friends, and my life in general during here last few weeks, but I haven’t felt involved.  Besides the goals of being healthy I have other goals, but I haven’t made them important.  If I don’t make my goals a priority, how will I accomplish them?  Unless there’s a magic wand somewhere that I don’t know about, I need to work toward my goals instead of talking about them.

The first step in the new engagement of my core, i.e. my life,  is to stop talking about them and start doing them.  Here’s how I’m beginning to be more active in my life goals:

*Being confident in my physical self is a must, no matter what happens.  As I mentioned in my last blog, I do feel stronger and more confidant in my athletic abilities, but I took a step, well, a run back, two weeks ago.  I was doing fast laps around the YMCA and my first one went great.  The second set was two laps, but halfway through the second lap I just stopped.  It felt like my body couldn’t go on.  I was winded and my legs cramped.  I was angry with myself.  I finished the training session, but it bothered me the rest of the day.  Normally, I would have let it go and just waited until my next training session to try again.  Instead I went to the gym early the next morning and ran without stopping for a mile and a half like I’ve been doing.    Instead of acting like I was going backwards in my training, I tackled the problem head on.  I was engaged.  I will continue to be engaged in my athletic endeavors no matter if they’re good or bad.

*Making my goals a priority, even if it means saying no.  I’ve put off building a new career for the past year.  Sure, at times, I had to put my goals aside to work on immediate issues like moving to a new state and setting up our new life in the Pacific Northwest, but we’ve been here almost six months and we’re pretty settled. Each day I come up with excuses not to make the time to work on my writing with the exception of a blog entry here and there.  No more excuses!  I am now scheduling in time to work on my writing which includes my blog and my fiction writing.  I’m doing this even if I have to say no to meeting a friend or pushing housework aside for another time.  As I type, I’m at a café while my daughter is at a theater class.  This is my dedicated writing time; no running errands or playing Words with Friends.  I am engaged in my writing, which in turns means I’m engaged in my personal and professional goals.

*Spending time with friends and family is essential.  I realize that I’m with my children a lot, but I’m not always “there.”  While I’m not quite sure which games my kids are talking about, I am trying to listen intently.  If it’s important to them, I need to make it important to me.  I’ve realized if I’m not engaged when they’re talking about everyday things, I might miss the important life stories they’ll share.  And with my ever-supportive hubby, I need to be with him in addition to our time as a family.  We’ve made the effort to go out to dinner and breakfast on our own and having this time alone with him is necessary.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in our lives as parents, so to spend time as a couple keeps us engaged in our marriage.  I can’t forget my friends, either!  So many of my friends are far away and while an email, text or Facebook post helps enormously, FaceTime is my new favorite app.  During a “woe is me” moment, I texted my constant cheerleader, N., to see if we could schedule a FaceTime appointment. We video chatted yesterday and it really lifted my spirits.  Seeing her face while talking was just what I needed and I realized much of it was because I was focused just on our conversation.  I wasn’t texting in between loads of laundry or running out the door to an appointment; we were focused on talking only.  When I am focused on the person I’m talking with and not trying to multitask, I am engaged in my life as well as this person’s life.

Now that I’m focused on engaging my core physically, I am going to engage my emotional core.  Sometimes, multi-tasking isn’t helpful.  As a lifelong multitasker, this is going to be a challenge.  Just from the small changes I’ve made over the past few weeks though, I can already feel some of the physical and mental weight being lifted.  There really is something to be said about slowing down and focusing on your goals.  Now that I’m making my core muscles stronger, I am going to make my figurative core, meaning my heart and soul, stronger.  I am engaged as I continue my journey Down the Scale…

Making the time to write is one of my goals and by setting up outside in the occasionally clear day in the PNW, I can write. No excuses, it’s time be engaged.

Trying Not to Drown…

“Our only goal is not to drown!”

Goggles are making it easier to get over my fear of putting my face in the water.  My weight loss journey continues with new physical and mental challenges!

Goggles are making it easier to get over my fear of putting my face in the water. My weight loss journey continues with new physical and mental challenges!

This was the first promise my friend, S., and I made when we decided to join the pre-masters swim class at our local YMCA. It’s a class for adults who want to improve their swimming techniques along with getting a good workout. She and I were both looking for a challenge to our regular workout routine for the new year.

So, how’s it going a month into the new year? The class is full of friendly adults, many older than me, and has a great coach. We start with core exercises on the pool deck and then get into the lap pool for a variety of drills. I’d really love it if I didn’t have to swim. Wait, what? Yes, the swimming part is the hardest part for me! Here’s a few reasons why:

*I have no recognizable swimming style. I never took swimming lessons and I’ve pretty much learned to swim by watching others. I can swim enough to be comfortable in the water, but I always feel like I’m splashing about. I don’t know how to breathe properly when swimming so I stay above the water as much as possible.

*I’m scared of putting my face in the water. I’ve used the excuse that I wear contacts so I don’t want to go under water, but really I am scared. As I child I got caught in some rough waves at the beach and it took a number of turns around the ocean to finally get out. And while my brain knows I won’t drown in the pool and that I’m perfectly safe, the rest of me isn’t buying it.

*Swimming involves more prep work and wearing a bathing suit…I hate it! Actually, I’m OK with wearing a suit even though I’m feeling lumpy and bumpy these days. Swim class isn’t a fashion show and really, no one cares who wears what or how your body looks. I just hate having to switch into a suit and either shower at the Y or rush home to shower. Running is all about putting on your running shoes and going! Not much preparation there!

So, with all those complaints, why am I still going to swim class? Because…

*I need to make myself uncomfortable. I blogged about pushing myself out of my comfort zone last September and I find that I still need to do it. To keep myself motivated and interested, and yes, to help with weight loss, I need to challenge myself whether it’s my exercise or eating routines. This swim class makes me try something I haven’t done so far in my weight loss journey.

*I feel great afterward! Yes, I hate the prep and clean up after class, but my body feels good. Oh, I’m sore since this is a full body work out, but it’s a good kind of sore. I also feel empowered. While I’m not a great swimmer, I complete the class! And no, I haven’t drowned yet! I’m even putting my face in the water more and more each time. Who knows how far I’ll go to improve my swimming technique, but I do know that I’m doing something great for my body and mind.

*Exercising with other people is fun and encouraging! Being accountable to another person is a great way to keep up with an exercise program. I’m thankful to have my friend, S., meet me at class. But even when one of us can’t make it, the other person goes to class and let’s the other know what the drills were that day. For me, I like the instructor and the other swimmers. Our instructor is well aware of my underwater phobia so she encourages me to keep trying, but never guilts me into doing more than I’m comfortable with. And the other swimmers are great! When you swim with women 20 years older than you, you are inspired! It reminds me of one of the many reasons why I started my weight loss journey: to be healthy as I grow older. Yes, it’s humbling to have older people swim better and faster than you, but I use it as inspiration, not negativity.

So, yes, like Dory, I will just keep swimming. I hope to improve my technique and get over my fear of going underwater, but I am not pushing myself too hard. I always tell my kids, it’s important to try something, even if you fail or it doesn’t work out. I am now telling myself that, too. I hope I’ll get more comfortable with swimming so it will lead me to a triathlon, but now I’m just taking one stroke at a time. As long as I don’t drown, I’ll keep swimming Down the Scale…

 

Proof that I am actually going in the pool!  And yes, I'm in a bathing suit!  Be comfortable with your body..it's the best gift you'll give yourself!

Proof that I am actually going in the pool! And yes, I’m in a bathing suit! Be comfortable with your body..it’s the best gift you’ll give yourself!

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….

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….

Tangible Versus Intangible: Thank Goodness for Both

Today my ever-supportive husband hung up the wonderful running bib and medal holder he made for me. Since I started running in 2012, my bibs and medals have been scattered around the house. It was wrong to treat them as knick knacks because they aren’t just meaningless objects. The awards from the races are tangible rewards of my heathy lifestyle that I started with my gastric sleeve surgery and continue to strive for each and every day.

"I Did It!" Why, yes, I did run all these races featured on my new display. It still amazes me that running is part of my life. From obese to a runner...my Down the Scale journey makes me so happy!

“I Did It!” Why, yes, I did run all these races featured on my new display. It still amazes me that running is part of my life. From obese to a runner…my Down the Scale journey makes me so happy!

Since I’ve become the healthier version of myself over the years, I’ve realized I have many tangible results. Obviously I look different. I’m in better shape and happier than I was before I took charge of my body and mind. Photos from the past compared to the present show the obvious difference. Smaller sized clothes, a collection of race t-shirts, and a closet of running shoes and accessories also prove my new lifestyle is a reality.

The way I live my life is more tangible proof that I’ve changed for the better over the years. While I’m still battling some weight gain this year, I am healthier according to my scale and by my blood work. My normal blood pressure and “regular” sized clothes are part of my life now. Now that walking and running are part of my life, I can see how sedentary I was before I made the decision to change my lifestyle.

So what are the intangible results of living healthier? In some ways, the way my life has improved since my surgery is hard to quantify. Everyone can see results through numbers and pictures, but I think the “hidden” improvements are the best. My improved disposition is measurable proof that a healthy lifestyle does make a difference. Trust me, I’m not overly perky or positive, but I don’t think I’m Debbie Downer either. And of course, I still battle stress and depression, but I know that I handle it better than before. When I face difficult challenges, both physically and mentally, I know I will get through them. My weight loss story shows me every day that I can tackle what life hands me!

My new race display perfectly represents my journey. It shows my successes in a tangible way, but when I look at it, I see more than medals and finishing times. I see that I take on challenges and that I finish them. Some races were easy and some were hard, but I didn’t shy away from a difficult test of my physical and mental abilities. My race display encourages me to keep working toward new running goals and to keep trying new races. While the board shows the tangible results of running, in my heart I know it’s also proof that all the intangible results of my hard work are there too. Here’s to adding more medals and positive changes to my Down the Scale journey…

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!