Tag Archives: life after gastric sleeve surgery

What’s In, What’s Out:  Elimination Diet & Training Update

Jen April 2017

A month after my elimination diet and new workout routine, I’m feeling strong! I’ve been on this weight loss journey for almost four years, and I’m happy to share that it keeps getting better!

Yes, I did it.  I survived a month on an elimination diet .  I managed to do this while starting a new workout schedule with a personal trainer.  Besides surviving and losing some weight, what are the results of the diet and training?  Here’s what I’ve learned:

*For a month, I avoided wheat, dairy, almonds and sugar.  Now that the month is over I’m adding a new food group for just three days and then waiting two more days to see if I can note any reaction.  So far, I added back in wheat.  The only response I’ve noticed is a bit of gas.  Not very ladylike perhaps, but not the worst reaction.  Will I keep wheat in my diet?  Maybe on occasion, but I didn’t particularly miss it.  When I reintroduced wheat-laden foods, I realized most of them weren’t healthy or particularly enjoyable.  I eat crackers mindlessly and that’s not good.  I stopped eating toast with peanut butter as a snack and switched to apple slices and sunflower butter.  As I test the foods I show a sensitivity to, I plan to be more mindful of how healthy that food is and if I really like it.

*Reading labels isn’t so bad.  In the beginning of the diet, I was thoroughly annoyed that I had to read every food label for items like sugar and almonds.  It made me realize, especially with sugar, that there are ingredients in foods that really aren’t necessary.  Bacon without sugar is just as good, if not better than bacon made with sugar.  I plan to keep buying sugar-free bacon as well as the vegan Caesar salad dressing I discovered.  If I keep sugar as just a “sometime food” as opposed to an everyday food, I know I’ll continue to feel better.

*Making meals from scratch is getting easier.  To eliminate sugar from my diet, I found it easy to make some foods instead of buying prepared foods.  Yes, it takes more work to make meatloaf than to throw a preseasoned meat in a crock pot, but I got into the hang of it.  My Pinterest food page has more recipes for me to draw from.  I’m still searching for new recipes, but I’m more confident in my cooking skills.

*I feel a bit like a cavewoman with the meat I’m eating, but that’s a good thing.  Since my iron was at 2 when the range is 10 to 232, I knew I needed to eat more iron in addition to taking supplements.  While I didn’t follow through on my nutritionist’s suggestion of adding liver to my meatloaf, I did eat more red meat than in the past.  I’m happy to share in a month my iron went up to an 8.  While it’s improving I did have my first IV iron infusion this past weekend.  It was really easy actually and I didn’t have any reaction.  I’m going for a second one later this week and we’ll see what happens from there.  My symptoms of itchy skin and fatigue are gone, so unless eating a certain food bothers me when I reintroduce it, I think my low iron levels were causing them.

*An elimination diet is more than just finding out which foods are causing issues, it helps reset your eating habits.  For me, this past month was a good reminder that I need to eat mindfully.  Making better choices like eating less processed foods and more whole foods is making me feel better, I’m sure.  Also, even if I’m eating healthy foods, I need to watch the amount.  Macadamia nuts are better than chips, but they still have calories, so you can’t eat them mindlessly. This month has been a bit of reset to my old ways of eating after I had gastric sleeve surgery and with my four-year anniversary two months away, it’s been a good reminder of how I need to eat to continue to be healthy.

*Along with the diet, I began working out with my trainer with the initial goal of improving my running.  Yes, it’s improved my running!  When I first started, H., had me run 1.5 miles for a baseline.  I ran that same 1.5 miles last Friday and I’m excited to report I did it without walking.  As I’ve mentioned in many blogs, I’ve been a runner/walker since I started my weight loss journey.  And let me say that I think there is nothing wrong with doing intervals.  If you’re moving, you’re doing great!  For me, I wanted to improve my pace and see if I could improve my stamina.  After a month of twice weekly workouts and a day or two of working out on my own, I’m excited to say I ran that same 1.5 miles without walking and beat my original time by 1:09 minutes.  I will never forget when I started the Couch to 5K program, my pace was 18:30 minutes per mile.  Four years later, my new pace is 12:07 per mile.  My body can do more than I ever thought it could!

*This brings me to one of the best parts of increasing and improving my exercise routine:  I believe I can do more.  I know that it was my mental block that was part of the reason I couldn’t run without taking a break.  While I’m working on my muscle memory (my body getting used to working out harder), I’m also retraining my brain to be more positive and open to changes.  I’m learning to trust my body when I exercise.  When my head and body work together, I can accomplish my exercising goals.  

So after a month of “dieting” and a new exercise routine, I am excited with all the changes I’ve made.  Sugar and wheat are mostly out, but in on occasion.  Mindful eating is in, but mindless eating is out.  Cooking is in, but prepackaged food is out as much as possible.  Exercise and working with a trainer is most definitely in, but doubting my abilities is out.  As crazy as this month as been, I’m glad I followed the elimination diet and new exercise routine.  I feel healthy, empowered, and ready to keep going Down the Scale…

Jen April 2017 Part 2

With the spring weather approaching, I’m excited to have my sunroof open and the ability to run outside! My weight loss journey continues as Spring arrives!

Training My Body and Mind…

Working Out TRX

Here I am learning to trust my body and mind using the TRX bands! Working with a personal trainer is keeping me going on my weight loss journey!

“You’re not going to drop yourself. Just lean back.”

These were the words my trainer, H., said to me casually as we used the TRX bands for the first time. For those asking what in the world are TRX bands, they are straps attached to a wall or pole used for different exercises. H. wanted me to grasp the straps with my arms extended, then walk my feet under and then lower my body backwards. Next all I needed to do was pull myself up and down. Easy right? Just let my body lean back while I depend on my upper body and core muscles to hold my body weight.

I’m not saying this is an impossible exercise, but it was more about my trust issues with my body than the ease of the task. Even though it’s been almost four years since my gastric sleeve surgery, from time to time I still think of myself as being the overweight woman who can’t do anything athletic. While I’ve been running even before my surgery and I do call myself a runner, my head and heart sometimes have a hard time believing I can perform certain exercises. Working with my trainer is proving to me that I can do more than I think I can.

I initially contacted H. for personal training so I can be a better runner. It turns out what I really need was to develop my over all strength, especially my core muscles. From what I gather, everything originates from your core muscles. After my two c-sections and my constant weight gain/loss cycles, I hadn’t thought much about my midsection. Once I lost the weight and then couldn’t run because of my hernia, I did start to have an inkling that I needed to take care of my abdomen.

So here I am, two years later, thinking about my core muscles again. While I don’t have the extra three and a half pounds of skin hanging down from my stomach and my muscles were surgically tightened, I still don’t trust myself all the time. My body is in the best shape of my adult life, but I don’t always think I can do things. One of the greatest benefits of working with a trainer one on one is that you discover you can do things. There is no hiding out in the back of a group class! H. is there to teach me, guide me, and push me. And even though she must be half my age, she does it in such a positive, but no-nonsense way that I always want to try whatever exercise she is teaching me. Yes, I’m paying her, but I’m happy to let her be in charge. Even when I want to give up, I know she has my best interest at heart. And she won’t let me die, I’m sure!

One of the important lessons I’ve learned so far is about “muscle memory.” H. watched me run during our first session and commented that my form was good, so we need to work on muscle memory among other things. I needed to get my body used to working harder for longer periods of time. My muscles needed to learn what it was like to work harder so I can improve my pace and distance. While I know this is true about my body, it made me think that my head also needs this “muscle memory.”

What I mean by this is that for me exercising is not just about improving my muscles and overall strength, but also about improving my mindset. If my brain doesn’t believe I can run faster or lift weights, my body isn’t going to either. While I’m working on building muscle memory, just as importantly, I’m developing a new mindset. Yes, I can run faster. Yes, I can hold a plank longer. Yes, I can hold myself up on TRX bands and do rows!

My personal training sessions are another reminder that my weight loss journey is not just about my body, but my brain. I need to eat heathy, exercise and maintain a positive outlook in order to be in the best shape physically. While my training sessions are improving my body, they also help improve my confidence. I’m looking forward to more muscle memory for my body and mind as I keep going Down the Scale…

Not Just a Month, But a Lifetime

Jen Week 1 Elimination Diet

Here I am, finishing up week one of my elimination diet! I feel strong and healthy! New foods and more exercise are always part of my continuing gastric sleeve journey!

“Not Just a Month, but a Lifetime”

By that statement you might think I mean that my elimination diet feels like it’s lasting forever. In some way it does feel that way as I’m missing the convenience and flexibility of eating foods with wheat, sugar, dairy, and almonds. What I’ve really come to realize is the I need to think of this diet as a lifetime change. By that, I hope to keep many of the healthy changes I’ve made so far this week. Some of them include:

*I’m focusing on eating protein first. When I first started eating non-liquid foods after my gastric sleeve surgery, I always ate my protein first followed by vegetables. Now that wheat is off my list, I am making protein my first choice in my meal. Not only is this helping me by giving me more energy, I’m sure my iron levels will show an increase on my next blood test.

*There are less preservatives, sugar, and sodium in my diet. By taking the time to read food labels, I’m now aware of what really goes into food. Well, if I could understand what some of the words included in the food are, I would know if there were good or bad. If an ingredient has more than four syllables, my guess is it isn’t good for you. I could be wrong, but I’ve decided this month to buy foods in which I actually know what the ingredients mean. There is one exception but I’ll talk about that later.

*I’m not frantically trying to figure out what I’m going to cook for each meal. I wish I was one of those people who meal plan and cook on a Sunday, but I’m not. With my kids and husband’s ever-changing schedules, I don’t always know when and who will be home for dinner. So, each morning I decide what to make for dinner based on what I know that morning. Tuesday is always Taco Tuesday thanks to the Lego Movie, but every other day, the meals change. Fortunately, I have a number of dishes that I can draw from based on the amount of time I can cook that day. My Pinterest board is filling up with more healthy recipes.

*I have more energy…finally! After wondering why I was so tired for so long, I finally feel energetic for most of the day! Instead of trying to keep my eyes open past 9 PM, I can make it until 10 PM. OK, so that makes me still sound old, but some days you just enjoy these small victories. I’m sure the new vitamins and iron supplements I’m taking are part of the reason I feel better, but I know eating better is a big part as well.

*I can exercise more! With better fuel and vitamins in my body, I am able to workout longer and better. Now, I’m sure working out with my trainer twice a week is a large part of my increased athleticism. Having a professional guide you, motivate you and push you is well worth the cost and time, in my opinion.  And by my increased interest and commitment to working out, this is a new way of living that I plan to keep!

With all these great changes, what in the world would I not want to keep from this elimination diet? Here you go:

*First, I would say coffee, but as I mentioned in my post about day one, I decided not to give it up. I tried for the first few days to drink it with cashew milk and stevia, but it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t particularly good either. So I broke down and went back to my non-daily sugar-free creamer. Yes, the one with words that are too long. Honestly, if this is my only vice in life, I’m good with it. Eventually, I’m willing to try other sugar alternatives, but for now this creamer makes me happy. Silly, I know, but right now this is my biggest vice, so I’m OK with it.

*All right, I’ll be honest and say that sugar-free non-dairy creamer is probably not my biggest vice. My love of Starbucks would be my worst vice. Now, if I was buying pastries or bagels along with my espresso, that would be really bad, especially when I know how great I currently feel without large doses of fat, sugar and wheat in my diet. I broke down on day three of the elimination diet and drank a tall soy latte. The only reason this drink breaks the rules of my diet is that Starbuck’s uses vanilla soy which has cane sugar in it. This is my big treat about three days a week. Yes, it might seem ridiculous, but I really enjoy lattes.  I really love grabbing one while I’m out running errands or drinking one while I write outside my home. Yes, I know they make regular coffee, but I don’t particularly care for it. I want my latte and I’m going to keep getting it..no pastries or bagels, though.

*I can’t wait to eat at a restaurant again! As a family, we only eat out once a week, but it’s a nice break from cooking for me and it gives us a chance to focus on our time as a family without home distractions. I’m sure I could eat out, but honestly I believe it will be a pain to frantically search the menu for food without dairy, sugar, wheats or almonds. Choosing better dishes that are protein and vegetable centric will be my new goal when we return to dining out.

Now, some of you might question why I couldn’t give up a few things like coffee, creamer, and Starbucks for just a month. True, in the scheme of life it’s not that long to remove these foods from my diet. But it was making me cranky, irritated, and I was focusing on what I couldn’t have instead of the what I could eat. I actually have a wide range of foods I can eat and I’m discovering new foods like sunflower butter and paleo-style meatloaf that I love. I have decided that I need to concentrate on what I can do easily and forever, not just for a month. I keep going back to the thought that I’m working on a lifestyle change, not just a month change. Just like I realized that going Down the Scale wasn’t a “before/after situation” but a continuous journey, this elimination diet is helping me focus on a healthy lifestyle permanently!

Is it Over Yet? Day 1 of the Elimination Diet

IMG_5658

Here I am making a new recipe, dairy-free asparagus soup! My gastric sleeve journey continues as I strive to be the healthiest person I can be!

So I survived Day 1 of my elimination diet! Only 29 more days to go…oh my! As I wrote in my last blog post, “Standing Tall”,  dairy, wheat, cane sugar and almonds are no longer a part of my meals for the next month. The food sensitivity chart marked these foods as ones I should avoid. Yes, coffee was on the list, but for my sanity I’m not giving it. A woman can only handle so much in one month!

So, how was the first day? At times, it was ugly and other times it was just fine. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

*Cane sugar is in everything! My beloved bacon is full of it and of course, all the flavored dairy substitutes have it. I must have shopped twice as long at the grocery store yesterday to find items that didn’t have it.

*Almonds are in everything, too. I was excited to find cashew butter and milk, but the first brands I looked at also had almonds. Again, it took a lot of label reading to find items without it.

*Yes, you crave certain foods when you can’t have it. The sugar-free chocolate pudding is taunting me from the back of the refrigerator. I forgot it was even there until yesterday. Is it that good? Not really, but when you plan to take certain foods out of your diet, you think they’re the best food ever. My guess is the apple I ate instead last night was just as good as the pudding.

*There are tons of resources to help including doctors, nutritionists, family, and friends. Naturally, I’ve been on the web researching new recipes and food alternatives, but the best resources are actual human beings! My new doctor and nutritionist took the time to answer all my questions and gave me the tools to set up this month-long diet. I am extremely fortunate to have a sister who is well versed personally and professionally in healthy eating. The information she shares, but more importantly, her encouragement and support make the world of difference to me. My friend, N., texted me throughout the day to check in on me which helped tremendously! My biggest cheerleaders are my ever-supportive husband and children. They always back me up no matter what I need to do, but I think they were more relieved than me when I decided to keep coffee in my life!

*Cooking from scratch will be my saving grace. After spending over an hour grocery shopping yesterday, I concluded it would be easier to do as much cooking as I can. So many repackaged foods are full of sugar and sodium, that I fear I won’t really learn much about my body if I eat them this month. So yesterday, I picked up ingredients to make my own meals like meatloaf, sausage patties and soup. And don’t mind me when I tell you my first soup, was great! While this does mean more meal planning, shopping, and cooking for me, I think it is well worth it to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

*Exercising is the same so far. Day 1 of the elimination diet was also another hour-long training session. How was I going to lift weights and run on such little food…OK, how would I workout without having had my coffee and sugar-free creamer? Umm…just fine! My session was tough, which is normal as I have a great trainer, but I didn’t feel any different having had my coffee with cashew milk and stevia. My breakfast of bacon, kale and brussels sprouts was plenty of energy to get me through the morning.

*I feel like I’m back at the beginning of my gastric sleeve surgery and that’s not a bad thing. Once you’re done with the liquid stage of post-surgery, you get to eat food with the emphasis on protein. Because of my low iron levels, I’m really concentrating on protein. And since I’m eliminating wheat, I’m focusing on more vegetables. By resetting my diet I hope it will help with weight loss in addition to finding out what foods my body truly needs.

I fully admit I was whiney when the day began and I’m sure I’m going to feel deprived and frustrated as the month goes on. When I really stop and think about how I’m feeling physically and mentally I know that it’s really not that bad. I plan to stay focused and positive. Change is always hard, but I find that it’s always worth it. I look forward to feeling better and continuing to go Down the Scale…

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!

Starting off on the Right Foot

attachment-1

Finished my first run in 2017 at the indoor track at my local YMCA!  Neither weather delays or long to-do lists could keep me from getting back to exercising! I am thrilled to continue my weight loss journey in 2017!

It only took me to January 10th, but I finally got my first run in for the year.  As I wrote last year, I don’t make resolutions any longer, but I do like to start the new year on the right foot.  The holidays alway make it harder to stick to a healthy eating and exercise routine.  And let’s not forget that trying to stay sane and calm doesn’t always come easy during the holidays.

This was true for me.  Between construction in our rental home, stomach bugs and homesick kids, our first Christmas and New Year holidays in our new home state made the whole family feel a bit out of sorts.  Adjusting to some many new places, people, schedules, and even snow, was exhausting for all of us and it took its toll on my body and mind.

So, yes, it’s taken me this long to get back on track.  And I thought it wasn’t going to happen as school was delayed two hours due to icy roads.  I planned to go run at the YMCA, but when I woke up to the school news, I almost gave up on my plans.  Oh, it would have been easy to skip it. My to-do list is a mile long, but I stopped myself and said, “You are important, too.”  My health must be a priority.  I know how I feel when I don’t take care of myself and I don’t like it.  I never want to go back to the version of me who didn’t think it was important to make my physical and mental health a top priority.

Although it was only 30 minutes, I did get to the YMCA and run around the indoor track.  For that quick half hour, I recharged my batteries.  Isn’t it strange how exercising actually makes you feel better?  That good feeling was just the reminder I needed to keep to a schedule when it comes to exercising and planning healthy meals.  I’ve already put my exercise schedule in my calendar so I remember to keep it a priority!

So whether it’s January 10th or May 10th, whenever you start a new routine or go back to your previous one, it’s not too late.  I am excited to start running again, trying out new recipes, finally unpacking the last boxes, and exploring my new hometown.  I will continue to keep trying to be the healthiest version of me as I go Down the Scale in 2017….

 

Finding the Familiar in the New

Jen First Lake Run

Here I am on my first run in my new hometown! I am very lucky to have a running trail around a beautiful lake by my home! No excuses not to run now!

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted here at Down the Scale. Honestly, I have a good reason! We moved from California to Washington! We’ve gone from noisy city living to the quiet wooded suburbs. It’s a big change for the entire family. New schools for the kids. New job for the hubby. New everything for me. Well, today I found one familiar thing in my new life…running.

Yes, I finally went out for a run this morning. Well, more like a walk/jog/run. It was slow and I’d like to blame my pace on the incredible new scenery, but in fact, it’s the first run I’ve done in a month. Yes, a month. Forgive me fellow runners, for I have sinned. Yes, I let my running slide in the midst of our move.

Actually, it was easy to let everything slide during this move. Bad eating habits and little sleep become the norm during the past month. While it’s fun to have treats and drink sugared coffee drinks at times, after a while it becomes old. I never thought I would believe that, but when I think about how my body felt over the past month, I know it’s not the comfortable me. It reminds me of the old me who didn’t know how important and rewarding that eating well could be.

It felt great to put my running shoes on once again! Keeping healthy, no matter what the circumstances, is so important!

It felt great to put my running shoes on once again! Keeping healthy, no matter what the circumstances, is so important!

So today’s run was slow and involved more huffing and puffing than I’d care to admit, but it still felt good. Being outdoors, especially in a new and beautiful setting, was just what my body and soul needed. It took me away from the boxes, the struggles of new schools and routines and reminded me to take care of myself. Just 30 minutes of exercise helped me to clear my lungs, but more importantly my head.

Oh, the boxes and stress and worry of the move will be here for a bit, but I’ll get through it. I’ve moved many times before, but this time I have more “tools” to deal with it. Since having my gastric sleeve surgery, I’ve learned to take on new challenges with the strength, courage, and determination that I now know that I have as I go back Down the Scale…

A Good Reminder?

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Lack of Anticipation….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No to Resolutions. Yes to Re-Commitments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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