Tag Archives: Mom

Another Item Off the To Do List

Everyone must have a list. I’m sure I’m not the only one who made one when I decided to have gastric sleeve surgery. It’s the “When I’m Thin” list. Well, I’ve changed it to the “When I’m Heathly” list, but the list is still the same:

  1. Buy clothes in a “regular” store.
  2. Become a runner
  3. Go on the rides at Disneyland without worrying if I’ll fit in them
  4. Ice Skate
My first time ice skating in over 20 years! Loved every minute of it!

My first time ice skating in over 20 years! Loved every minute of it!

Fortunately I stared working on my list before I hit my weight loss goal as I found doing these things made me happier. And this in turn made me healthier! Two and half years later, there was only one thing left on my first list: ice skating. Over the Thanksgiving holiday I finally crossed it off my list.

So, why ice skating, you ask? I used to ice skate as a child. I even took lessons for a bit. I don’t recall why I stopped, but my guess is I ran out of babysitting money and confidence. Most likely it was confidence. I was always overweight and unsure of my body, so I imagine I gave up once the lessons became more difficult.

The last time I went skating was in college. My obesity kept me from many activities as an adult and no matter how fun it looked, I wouldn’t go ice skating. Every November when the outdoor ice rinks go up, I would look at them with sadness. The thought of my fat self falling and not being able to get back up was too much to bear. When you’re obese, being humiliated in public is a huge fear. At least it was for me. I’ve been at a “normal” weight for a while, but I was still scared to try to skate.

“Mom, please can we go ice skating this year?!”

This is what finally made me decide to cross ice skating off my list. My two children have asked for years to go skating. Really, I had no excuses to give them. When I run a race, my mantra is “all you have to do is finish”, so I revised it to “all you have to do is try” for ice skating.

It was the first time my kids were ice skating, so I wanted it to be a positive experience for them. I told them that they would fall, it would be cold, but all they had to do was get back up and keep trying. I repeated this in my head until I took my first step on the ice.

Jack, Jill and I clutched the wall on our first turn around the outdoor ice rink. It was scary trying to glide forward on those thin blades, but it came back to me. Call it muscle memory or just plain old memory, but I started to skate. I held on to the wall for another two or three times around the rink, but I finally decided to let go. “If I fall, I fall,” I reassured myself. I wasn’t the scared, unsure obese girl, but a healthy, confident woman who could survive the humiliation of falling. And really, it wouldn’t be humiliating…I would be like any other person trying to skate!

Well, I didn’t fall once I’m proud to say. I was prepared for it, but I skated forward and backwards even! I was wobbly at times, but I didn’t care. It was wonderful to glide on the ice and just have fun. It was one of those genuinely happy moments.

What made it even better was that I was experiencing this with my kids. We skated together and we skated apart. Watching my children try something new reminded me of when they were babies learning new skills. Here I was helping them find their footing, but more importantly, their confidence, on the ice. I am forever thankful that I can share these experiences with my babies.

I thought we would only stay for 30 minutes, but we stayed for the whole 90 minute session. When both kids asked if we could go again, I knew it was a successful day!

My first step on the ice made the day successful for me, though. Each time I skated around the rink, I realized this day was more than crossing an item off my to do list. This day was a reminder of how much I have changed since I started my “Down the Scale” journey. I am more confident, happier and braver. And when I fail, I know it’s OK because I’m not perfect. Life isn’t perfect. The only thing that is perfect is living life to its fullest. I’ve learned not to let anything, anyone (especially myself) keep me from trying to do my best. So from eating better to trying new activities, I am enjoying my healthy life. And that will be on the top of my to do list, each and every day.

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My Weight Loss Journey: My Messy, Beautiful Truth

93 pounds gone in Week 44 of my weight loss journey!

Today’s blog is part of Momastery.com’s Messy, Beautiful Project. I am proud to share my gastric sleeve weight loss journey here at Down the Scale and now with other Warriors. In the Momastery community, everyone shares their truths – the messier the better. Life is Messy. Life is Beautiful. My weight loss journey is a perfect example of this philosophy. When I decided to take control of my obesity, I though I was searching for complete control and perfection in my life. What I really found is that losing weight and becoming healthy isn’t full of control or perfection. It is messy, painful and chaotic at times. But it is also rewarding, inspiring, loving and perfectly imperfect.

While my head knew that losing weight wouldn’t solve all my problems, my heart sure hoped it would. Being obese caused so many problems, but losing weight doesn’t solve them all. Sure, physically I am in the best shape I have been in as an adult. I enjoy exercising now. I can keep up with my kids at the playground. I can shop in the “regular” section at clothing stores. I don’t take high blood pressure medication anymore and I’m not pre-diabetic. Losing 93 pounds from my body is the best thing I have physically done for my body.

That’s not a messy part of life, is it? No, it’s pretty beautiful. What is messy are the mental hurdles I just assumed would go away with the extra pounds.

“If I’m thin, I won’t be as stressed as much.”

“If I’m thin, I’ll be popular and have tons of friends.”

“If I’m thin, I’ll be a better mom and wife.”

“If I’m thin everything will be perfect.”

Pretty crazy of me to hope for these things, isn’t it? I don’t think I’m alone in dreaming of an easy, perfect solution to my stresses and anxieties. And I know some people felt by having my gastric sleeve surgery I was taking the easy way out on losing weight. My smaller stomach does make physically losing weight much, much easier, but it doesn’t truly affect your brain, your heart and your soul. I can’t stuff my problems down with food now. I have to acknowledge them and deal with them. While my body isn’t working as hard to survive, my brain, heart and soul have to take up the slack.

Sounds messy doesn’t it? Yes, it is, but I was surprised to see the beautiful side of my perceived weaknesses and vulnerabilities. When I started blogging  with my post “The O Word”, I was terrified to put my feelings on paper for the world to read. Would anyone really understand how it feels to be obese? Would anyone relate to the shame and feelings of failure my obesity caused me? Would I be judged negatively for my solution to my overwhelming issues?

Here’s the beautiful part….I am understood. My family and friends rallied around me and showed me more love and support than I could have imagined. Mere acquaintances became huge cheerleaders in person and online. Strangers found me and became new friends. Suddenly, people who I thought were “perfect” shared their own struggles with me publicly and privately. My community grew and strengthened when I shared my story. I finally knew I was not alone. I realize my weight loss journey will never really end. I will always struggle, always be emotional and always worry if I’m doing “enough.” But that is OK. I think these weaknesses are really a sign that I care. I care about life, my family, my friends and most importantly, about me.

I realize now that striving for perfection isn’t the solution. I want joy, happiness and love in my life. And by sharing my messy, beautiful life with others, I am finding those things. Who knew a weight loss journey would help find not what I wanted, but I really needed?

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Which Change is the Right One?

Week 43 and down 92.5 pounds!  Time to make changes like exercising more to reduce stress!

Week 43 and down 92.5 pounds! Time to make positive changes like exercising more to reduce stress!

Week 43 is here and I am down a half a pound and I am grateful for it. A loss is a loss and it does bring my overall weight loss total to 92.5 pounds, so it can’t be bad. The last few weeks of the scale going up and down is making me think of the changes I need to make to keep motivated. Unfortunately, I am not very practical at times when it comes to changes and the past few weeks have been no exception.

Let me honest and share that I am the queen of “let’s make big changes…NOW!”. In many cases, this is actually helpful such as having gastric sleeve surgery. Having your stomach reconstructed to lose weight isn’t a small change, but it was the big change I needed to get healthy. After years of fighting my weight and living as an obese woman, I finally came to the conclusion I needed this drastic change to be the person I wanted and needed to be for myself and my family.

This change was necessary for me and I am very happy with my weight loss and my new healthy body. But…I’m bored. I still have much work to do on my body such as losing another 20 pounds, toning up and having my abdominal hernia repaired. I need to get excited about the next part of my weight loss journey, but my head and heart aren’t feeling it.

So instead of focusing on the next phase of my journey, this “big changes now!” queen was focusing on other things, most of which aren’t truly productive. We’ve considered moving to the suburbs so I focused on that for a few weeks. While it is practical and positive option for our family, I was using it to run away from my anxiety and stress of my life now. I am overwhelmed with finances, the kids’ activities, lack of social life, little time alone with my husband and my slow weight loss. Instead of working on each issue on its own, I tend to come up with grandiose solutions, like “let’s move and change everything!” While moving might eliminate some stresses, in reality it adds another set of problems and issues. I can see that now, but for a few weeks I focused on making a big change to escape my issues.

Don’t get me wrong, big changes can be productive and just what you need, but when I focus on them instead of what really is bothering me, it isn’t productive. I’ve put aside the “suburban solution” for now and think I’m ready to tackle each issue on its own. Yes, I said I think because quite honestly I am terrified to face many of these issues. I’m not sure how to deal with many of my stresses and anxieties since they affect others. Being a parent is the hardest job I have ever had and finding the balance between my needs and my family’s needs is something I struggle with every day. My other stresses, like finances and spending more time doing fun things with my husband and children, have concrete solutions so I know I can find the solutions I need for my anxieties.

No change can be good. Small changes can be good. Big changes can be good. I need to figure out which changes are right and when to make them. Since I don’t have a crystal ball, it’s up to me to decide what solutions will work for me and keep me healthy, happy and sane. Wish me luck as I get re-motivated to go Down the Scale…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time to Celebrate

Week 11 of my Down the Scale journey is here and I’ve decided it’s time to celebrate the positive aspects of my weight loss!

My running shoes and Garmin watch are out of temporary retirement!  Looking forward to doing my 2nd 5K (with a better time!) this year!

My running shoes and Garmin watch are out of temporary retirement! Looking forward to doing my 2nd 5K (with a better time!) this year!

First, I’ve lost 45.5 pounds! Losing 5.5 pounds this week was a surprise, especially since  I had a few days where I ate more than normal. No matter what I eat, even if it’s more than usual, I track it in MyFitnessPal. It is keeping me accountable for my food intake and does make me think about my choices. It seems a bit silly, but seeing what I eat in black and white really does help me make better decisions and think about why I’m eating.

That leads me into another celebration, my awareness of why I’m eating. Yes, I do eat when I’m hungry, but I also want to eat to relieve stress and anxiety. No, I haven’t lost my stress, but I am becoming more conscious of my feelings and trying to deal with them instead of eating them away. I can’t say I have a good handle on this, but I feel like I am more honest with myself. This will be a constant struggle, but I feel more hopeful than I have in the past.

Running is back in my life which is a huge reason to celebrate! I started  running last year and even did a 5K race. Tuesday I started day one of the Couch to 5K program and felt great! The energy and stress relief running gives me is priceless. I am also walking my kids to school and back each day which is a half a mile each way. Every bit of exercise I can fit in makes me feel great!

And the last “big” celebration of the week is the return of school! I love having my kids home, but as a stay at home mom, a little break is good for all of us! My baby boy is a 4th grader and my baby girl is a kindergartener! It is a year of new changes, new schedules and new rewards for all of us!

I am thankful that I have so many things to celebrate this week. I need to keep all these things in mind during the difficult moments and weeks. I am still struggling with food-centric activities like grocery shopping, eating out and parties. My guess is that I will always have to reign in my food activities and my stress related eating. I just hope that I can remember all the positive aspects of my lifestyle change and keep on celebrating my success, a pound at a time…

The “O” Word

This is a rare photo of me from head to toe without my children strategically placed in front of me.  My daughter asked to take my picture and you can't say no to a 5 year old with a camera.

This is a rare photo of me from head to toe without my children strategically placed in front of me. My daughter asked to take my picture and you can’t say no to a 5-year-old with a camera.

Am I obese? Yes, yes I am. I am finally using the “O” word. I’ve never denied I have a problem, but I’ve always used “cute terms” to describe myself. I’m full-figured. I’m overweight. I’m plump. I’m the fat chick. No, I am medically obese. I need to lose more than 100 pounds to be even considered overweight. This is the harsh reality that I’ve hidden from most of my life.

Finally, as of 2013, I am taking control of my obesity. I’m 44 years old and admitting I am not in control of my weight. I know I can control it, but it has been a struggle since childhood. Now as a mom, I don’t want my children to have this issue. I can’t protect them from everything in this world, but having an obese mother isn’t going to help them nor does it set a good example.

 Fortunately, I married a man who loves me through thick and thin and when I’m thick or thin. Not once has he complained about my weight, but I know he wants me happy and healthy. Don’t we all want that for our loved ones?

 Of course my family is part of the reason I am on this new weight loss journey, but the biggest reason is I want to feel normal. I want to run and walk and climb without thinking about my weight and having to stop to catch my breath. I don’t want to be the biggest woman in the room. I want to join conversations about clothes and exercising without feeling like I don’t fit in. I don’t want to be known as the fat mom. I want to be known for who I am – the smart, funny, cute woman, the mom of the fairytale children and the wife of a smart, funny handsome man, a good friend to people, a writer…just Jen.

 I am starting my new weight loss journey next month with gastric sleeve surgery. This isn’t a decision I’ve made lightly. In many ways, I feel like a failure in that I need surgery to take control of my health. And yes, I’ve tried every diet, exercise and drug available.

At 44, I want to enjoy my life and my body. I want to be a runner. I want to take hikes. I want to wear a bathing suit without fear or shame. I want to be normal and I know this uncomfortable, stressed, obese woman isn’t really me. Gastric sleeve surgery is just one of the tools I will use to find the person I know I am.

 I’m starting Down The Scale to share my journey. I hope to keep myself accountable to my weight loss, but I am openly looking for support and the sharing of experiences. While I feel like I’m the only one in my immediate community who looks and feels this way, I know I am not. We all have fears, struggles and dreams and they’re not always the same. Not everyone will agree with my actions and opinions and I’m OK with that. Supporting someone doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing with them, but when it comes from a place of love it is important to take it in.

 Thank you for reading and hopefully being a part of my Down The Scale community. Here’s to finding peace, happiness, humor and love in our lives….