Tag Archives: Healthier

Another Merry Christmas to Me!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Running Down the Scale

Here I am in 2012, 2013 and 2014 at the races! I love see how happy I am every year after the race.  And I'm happier that I look and feel healthier every year!

Here I am in 2012, 2013 and 2014 at the races!
I love seeing how happy I am every year after the race. And I’m happier that I look and feel healthier every year!

Last Thursday I ran my third Thanksgiving Day race. While my speed improves each year, I am most proud of my increased confidence in setting and reaching goals. Running is more than just exercise; it keeps me focused and motivated to keep living a healthy life. While I knew running would help in my gastric sleeve journey, I didn’t expect the many positive results it would bring.

My last two races were 5K races on city streets. My friend, N., and I decided to switch to another race in our neighborhood. It seemed like a great idea until I received the first email from the organizers. That’s when I noticed that it was a five-mile race not a 5K (3.1 mile) race. In the words of Scooby Doo, “ruh roh!” Not only was this race an extra two miles, but the course wasn’t on roads, but mostly through grass fields and woods. N. and I decided to do it anyway. What could go wrong?

My head told me there were many things that could go wrong! The race was only nine weeks after my abdominal hernia and tummy tuck surgeries. My incision was healing slowly and my abdominal muscles were sore and strained from time to time. I only started running four weeks before the race so I didn’t have much training or miles under my belt. I had every reason to back out of the race or at the very least change it back to the 5K race. Believe me, I thought about it often in those weeks preceding Thanksgiving. What kept me committed to the new race was one thought: all I have to do is finish. That simple phrase kept me training and made me show up on Thanksgiving morning with my turkey headband and running shoes on.

Here I am getting ready for the Thanksgiving 5-Mile Race!  I love that running on Thanksgiving has become a tradition.

Here I am getting ready for the Thanksgiving 5-Mile Race! I love that running on Thanksgiving has become a tradition.

All I really needed to do was finish the race to feel successful. I’m not a competitive runner…with anyone but myself. I only need to be competitive with myself. I ran two earlier races with hindering factors and I finished. If I could do the first race 100+ pounds heavier and finish I could do this new one. And last year, I ran four and a half minutes faster than the previous year with my abdominal hernia still intact and I finished. I could do this even if it meant I was the last person over the finish line.

But I wasn’t the last over the finish line! I finished with my best running pace ever. But more importantly I loved the race. There is an amazing energy on the starting line of a race, especially one with people dressed as turkeys and pilgrims! I lined up with the other runners and followed the lead runner dressed as a turkey though the course.

I managed to actually run the first two miles which surprised me. I am more of a walker/runner but the excitement kept me running. Throughout the race I ran when I could and walked when I needed. I finally realized there is no shame in walking. Many people were doing the same. Again, I kept in mind that I just needed to finish.

When I came to the three-mile mark, I had to make a choice. There was in fact a three-mile walk I could do or keep going to the five-mile finish. I came up on the literal fork in the road and chose the five-mile. I really wanted to finish five miles I decided. At that moment I realized I could do it!

I made it to the five-mile finish line with a smile on my face! Nothing feels better than accomplishing a goal that you set. Even though I had doubts up until race day and even in the beginning of the race, I kept going. Running is the perfect metaphor for my weight loss journey: do your best at your own pace and you can work through your doubts and fears. I never thought something as simple as running would give me such hope, joy, and confidence.

Another Thanksgiving Day run is done and the turkey headband is back in storage. My running shoes are not. I am already signed up for another run! This one is a 5K with my son in January. Am I worried about keeping up with my naturally athletic son? Yes, I am, but you know what I say to that…all I need to do is finish. Wish me luck as I keep running Down the Scale…

Taking off the Band-Aids

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keeping It Going Over a Year Later….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Eating better

*Tracking my food

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

*Adding more exercise, either structured or relaxed

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

The Line Drawn on my Abdomen…

A month has passed since my abdominal hernia and tummy tuck surgeries. How am I doing? Honestly, it’s bad. Honestly, it’s good. Yes, I’m a bit wishy-washy about how I feel about my surgery. Just as there are two sides to a coin, there are two sides to my recovery.

Let’s talk bad and get it out of the way. The worst part is that I feel like Frankenstein. I have a large incision from hip to hip. It’s pinkish with a few scabs here and there. At each hip, the incision is bumpy and ridge-like. My lower abdomen is swollen and my abdominal muscles hurt from time to time. Beneath my clothes, it’s just not very pretty.

Here I am about 3 weeks after surgery, out and about with my family.

Here I am about 3 weeks after hernia repair and tummy tuck surgery.  It feels amazing to have lost 105.5 pounds since my gastric sleeve surgery!

Since my surgery, I have been concerned that I was healing properly. I meet with both my hernia repair surgeon and plastic surgeon last week and I finally was reassured. Dr. J. said my hernia repair went well and I was in good shape. He gave me his approval to start moving more and to even run when I’m ready. Phew!

My meeting with Dr. C., my plastic surgeon, was even better. I disrobed and he took one look at what I considered to be my horrible stomach and said everything looked great. Really? I pointed out parts and he said the healing was all completely normal. The ridges on my hip incisions would settle in time. The incision was healing properly. He had no concerns. I had to laugh when he told me the scars would lessen in time and would be like my c-section scars. I actually never saw my c-section scars due to my large overhanging stomach!

My concerns lightened even more when Dr. C said I could be swollen for 9 to 12 months after surgery. Even with all my scars and swelling, I will admit I think I look pretty good right now…with clothes on. Considering how far out my stomach protruded before surgery, my stomach seems pretty flat to me. I am now excited to see how it will look a year from surgery.

More importantly, I feel good. The first few weeks, I was very achy and scared that I would be sore for a long time. A month later, I am sore at the end of the day, but I can get around much better! I’m back to walking my kids to school. Both doctors gave me approval to start running as long as I feel up to it, so I have committed to my third Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving. I don’t expect to run a personal best, but if I run any of it, I will be thrilled. I am just happy to get back to being the active person I became after my gastric sleeve surgery.

My surgeries were not the easiest procedures I have been through, but I don’t regret them one bit. Everything I do from surgeries, to eating better, to exercising, are all part of my overall plan to be a better me. Looking good on the outside is great, but feeling healthier and happier are the best rewards.

Going Down in Size and the Scale…

Two weeks after my incisional hernia repair and tummy tuck, and I'm up and going!

Two weeks after my incisional hernia repair and tummy tuck, and I’m up and going!

It’s been two weeks since I made another “investment” in myself. I’m recovering from my abdominal hernia repair and tummy tuck surgeries relatively well. I’m sore, tired and emotional, but I’m slowly getting back to normal. I thought this recovery would be easier than my gastric sleeve surgery, but I’m not sure that it is. The physical pain is worse and the emotional aftermath is more than I anticipated, but just as I knew my sleeve surgery was worth it, I feel the same way about this surgery. The past two weeks are just another part of my journey to a healthier me.

So, let’s go back two weeks ago. The ever-supportive hubby and I arrived at the same hospital in the morning. I was excited, nervous and dying for a cup of coffee. Not eating before surgery is easy, but no coffee is torture. I forgot my coffee desires once I went back to pre-op. This experience was easier than last year’s experience. Losing 100+ pounds makes an IV go in a lot easier and quicker!

The strangest part of pre-op was having my plastic surgeon, Dr. C., take a Sharpie pen to my body to mark the incisions and areas where he would remove the skin. The reality of my future body hit me. I would have a “normal” stomach. The reality of the future pain also dawned on me as I saw how much he skin he would be taking. To distract myself from that thought, I asked Dr. C if they would weigh the skin they removed. OK, I know it sounds gross, but wouldn’t you want to know? He promised me he would let me know.

Finally, I went in the operating room and I was out before I knew it. I’m not sure what my surfer-dude anesthesiologist gave me, but I went under quickly and I woke up in the recovery room feeling great. My nurse kept the good feelings going with a cup of delicious ice chips. My mood continued with Dr. C walking in. My hernia surgeon, Dr. J, finished his part first, so Dr. C was there to check on me and call my husband with the results.

Everything went well according to Dr. C. I was thrilled to have my hernia repaired, my intestines put back into place and the skin removed. Dr. C. gave me the number I asked for…three and a half pounds of skin and fat removed! Yikes! No matter how much exercise I did, I would have never worked that off my stomach.

Unfortunately my good mood faltered once I got to my hospital room. My poor roommate was in pain after whatever surgery she had and she didn’t speak English. She and the great nurses managed to communicate when her family wasn’t there, but it made for a chaotic setting. It did distract me somewhat from my own issues. The nausea set in as soon as I settled in my room. I do not handle the IV pain medication well. I must have had my own language issues because I couldn’t get the nurses to take me off it They would give me anti-nausea medication thankfully, but it made for a long night.

The next morning the hubby joined me at the hospital. Once Dr. C and J., Dr. J’s physician assistant come by and told me I needed to stay another night, I sent Dave home. I learned from my sleeve surgery that I needed to sleep as much as I could so Dave didn’t need to keep me company. Also, I felt better having him home with the kids. Much of my surgical anxiety comes from my children’s emotional well-being. Knowing Dave was with them helped me.

So, I was stuck another night at the hospital. I was not a happy camper. Just when I was resigning myself to another night of nausea and noise, an angel appeared. I didn’t think it would be in the form of a tall, slightly German accented man. This nurse happily took me off the IV pain medication. Nurse A was my hero! He switched me to a liquid painkiller, which even with its rock candy dipped in Kool-Aid flavor, was 100 times better. The nausea went away and the neon green lime jello was finally appealing.

When Dr. J and J, the physician assistant, arrived the next morning, I was sitting in a chair chatting with Dave. They smiled and said I looked like I was ready to go home. Yes, I was! Of course, it’s never that simple. I kept hearing that line from the song “Hotel California”, “You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.” Nurse E needed discharge papers from Dr. C and he was in surgery. Can I tell you how wonderfully persistent Nurse E was for me? She called, she texted and she kept calling until she received the discharge information. She and the hubby helped me get ready to go home which included finding an easy way to get dressed with my drains.

Yes, I was sent home with two drains, one near each hip. From what I understand, they are there to help with recovery, but I found them to be a huge pain and gross. I now have more sympathy for men and their external genitalia. These bulbous shaped drains were pinned to my shirt, but they bounced around and I was always worried about sitting on them.

Finally, I was home to see my babies! My ten-year old’s smile was beautiful and soothing. My six-year-old managed not to squeeze me like she normally does and it was her glowing smile that made me feel warm and fuzzy. And all the “pretty things,” like her butterfly nightlight and flowered shaped trinket box, she insisted on giving me from her room, kept the mood light.

So I was home with my spectacular family when the reinforcements arrived! My always thoughtful friend, N, organized a group of friends to help pick up my kids from school and bring dinner. We were spoiled by all the generosity and help. It was just another reminder of how lucky I am to have such a special group of friends.

Six days after surgery, my drains and many of my bandages were removed. I could finally see some of the results of my surgery. I think “Holy Sh*t” were my exact words the first time I looked in the mirror. I was shocked by my new stomach, in a good way. Although my incisions are Frankenstein-like and my abdomen is swollen, I can see that I am considerably smaller. Let the photos show you:

Here is abdomen on the day of surgery and two weeks after.  What a difference!  I can't wait to see what it looks like when my tummy isn't swollen and is completely healed!

Here is my abdomen on the day of surgery and two weeks after. What a difference! I can’t wait to see what it looks like when my tummy isn’t swollen and is completely healed!

Impressive, if I may so myself. I cannot wait to see what it will look like when I heal completely. I know I will never have the abs of a supermodel, but I don’t care! I just want to have a “normal” body.

So here I am healing and finally getting out and about. I am nowhere near 100%. I tire easily. I am very sore. My incisions itch now and then and they’re still gross to look at. I didn’t expect to be so emotional, but some days I am weepy. I think it’s because I feel a bit helpless and unproductive. In theory, it sounds great to lay around and rest, but after a while it is surprisingly depressing. I never thought I would have strong urges to get up and clean and organize my house. Who knew I would have laundry withdrawal?

Hopefully, these cleaning and organizing urges will be around when I’m allowed to resume normal activities. I’m listening to my surgeons and my personal doctor, Dr. Hubby. My ever-supportive husband is incredible. He is handling his normal responsibilities plus mine while taking care of me. Once again, I realize how lucky I am to have him as my partner in my journey.

Just as I took charge of my health in June 2013 by having gastric sleeve surgery, I am happy that I took charge once again and had the hernia repair and tummy tuck surgeries. Every choice I make that improves my health is worth any pain, depression and nausea if it gets to me to my final goal: being the healthiest and happiest person I can be.

Making an Investment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Food, Glorious Food…Really!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

100!

Here I am with my beautiful children enjoying delicious snacks at a cafe.  We worked off those snacks with games of tag in the park and then a long and steep walk through one of our favorite neighborhoods.  This defines my weight loss success more than losing 100 pounds -- a day of fun with my kids is of the best weight loss rewards!

Here I am with my beautiful children enjoying delicious snacks at a café. We worked off those snacks with games of tag in the park and then a long and steep walk through one of our favorite neighborhoods. This defines my weight loss success more than losing 100 pounds — a day of fun with my kids!

Yes, I have officially lost 100 pounds! Technically it’s 100.5 pounds in 1 year, 1 month and 11 days.

First, let’s get over the part of me being a little sad about this fact. There is a little voice in my head that tries to negate my success by saying “It’s pathetic you had to lose over 100 pounds to begin with!” Yes, I am telling this voice to take a hike. I’ve always believed that regret isn’t worth the trouble. What has happened has happened and hopefully I learn from my earlier choices and don’t repeat the bad ones. And if I do repeat them, I just try harder not to in the future.

With this negativity pushed away, let’s talk about success! I am a goal-oriented gal so finally hitting my goal of 100 pounds makes me happy and proud. It feels amazing to have met this goal, but it’s not the highlight of my journey like I thought it would be. As I talked about in my last blog, The Scale is Not the Be-All and End-All in Weight Loss”, the scale isn’t my biggest measure of success. The way I feel these days was really what I was looking for when I finally committed to losing weight. Being 100 pounds lighter reflects not only my new body shape and health, but also the more positive outlook I have on myself and my life.

Where do I go from here? I still have my goal of losing another 11.5 pounds to make my goal of being healthy according to the BMI chart. I am still working toward it, but I am not pressuring myself. Sure I’d like to lose this weight, but I am more concerned about maintaining my current weight. All the yo-yo dieting I did over the past 30 years has to stop. I want to treat my body with more respect now. Considering all the damage I’ve done to it, my body has been there for me and given me two amazingly beautiful children. It’s time to pay my body back with eating well and exercising as part of my life and not just as a dieting phase.

Mentally I still struggle with my weight, but when I think about over-eating or making poor choices, I get myself to stop and think about how much better I feel now. I am happier. I am healthier. I can do so much more than I imagined I could. Losing weight is giving me a whole other outlook on life and what I can accomplish. I will always battle the “fat chick” inside of me, but I feel more ready to handle her than I did 100 pounds ago.

So, yes, I will celebrate my weight loss of 100.5 pounds! I am celebrating it every day with the life I now lead with my ever-supportive husband and sweet children. I also celebrate it with my family and friends who have supported me along the way. I am glad that I am sharing my gastric sleeve journey. Going Down the Scale with love and encouragement is one of the best rewards!

The Scale is Not the Be-All and End-All in Weight Loss

Yes, I realize for a blog called “Down the Scale”, naming a post that downplays the scale’s role in a weight loss journey might seem strange. Now that I’m a year past my gastric sleeve surgery, I realize that success is more than a number on the scale. There are so many other ways to measure my success and I need these other kinds of measurements to keep me inspired.

My daughter and I enjoying her first Giants game!  I was thrilled that I only took up my designated spot on the bleachers instead of spilling over into my daughter's seat.  Losing 96.5 pounds is rewarding in so many ways!

My daughter and I enjoying her first Giants game! I was thrilled that I only took up my designated spot on the bleachers instead of spilling over into my daughter’s seat. Losing 96.5 pounds is rewarding in so many ways!

I’m not saying that the scale isn’t important in my life because I will always need it. It keeps me on track and since it is showing me a 96.5 pound weight loss now, I love my scale. Here’s the but…I wish it showed a 100 pound weight loss. I really like the idea of a three digit total loss. I also would ideally like to lose another 15 pounds. When the scale doesn’t show me what I want to see, it’s easy to get frustrated and depressed.

How do I keep from get frustrated and depressed? Fortunately I’ve come up with many ways! First, I went to see the weight loss therapist I met with before I had surgery. I knew I needed help with dealing with my emotions about food (see my blog post One and a Half Pounds of Physical and Emotional Weight…”). When she confirmed all my feelings post-surgery were normal, right there that made me feel great. Who doesn’t like to know that their emotions are typical and not too crazy? Taking care of myself emotionally with professional help reminds me how far I’ve come since I decided to have surgery.

Another important measurement of success is my clothing. I donated all my larger clothes so I can’t go back to wearing them. I used to have at least two different sizes of clothes, so that I would always have something to wear. Even though the scale keeps showing me up and down by two pounds, my clothes still fit well. As long as I stay in my current size, I feel successful with my weight loss.

Feeling “normal” was one of my goals when I chose to finally lose weight. I was tired of standing out for being the “fat chick.” At least that’s how I felt when I was out in crowds and especially when I was out with other women. Last week I enjoyed a great night out with friends and this time when I saw a photo of us all together, my first reaction was “What a great photo!” instead of “Oh, I’m the fat one.” A simple change in my attitude means the world to me.

My favorite measure of success is my overall feeling of health. Just moving around without the physical and emotional weight of 96.5 pounds still amazes me! Walking, hiking and swimming are some of the fun and healthy activities I’m enjoying this summer. I never thought I would crave being outdoors and being active as much as I do now. And let’s not forget the everyday activities that are easy now! Carrying multiple heavy grocery bags up two flights of stairs isn’t a hardship, but just another part of my day. The mental and physical “lightness” of my life is more than I dreamed of when I committed to changing my life over a year ago.

I’m not throwing out my scale, but I am learning not to let it rule my world. Weight loss is more than a number on the scale. It is about feeling good mentally as well as physically. I am thrilled that I am learning to see my accomplishments in more than terms of numbers. Going Down the Scale definitely means so much more in my life now!