Tag Archives: Motivation

Really, No One is Watching

Getting ready for another work out session! I never thought I would wear a tank top to exercise in, but here I am almost four years after gastric sleeve surgery wearing one! Living a healthy lifestyle is the best change I made!

What is it about exercising in groups that makes me so self-conscious?  It’s not so much a problem in classes like spin where everyone is on their own bike so it doesn’t matter if you’re slow or uncoordinated.  Unless you fall off the bike or perhaps sing too loud to the music, no one cares or notices what you’re doing.  You’re not keeping anyone from advancing or slowing down the group when you’re in spin class.

Other exercise classes are a different story.  Or at least that was my preconceived notion before I did a boot camp class today.  Most of my fears and concerns were gone by the end of class.  First, I managed to do all the stations without passing out. I did however text a friend before class to remind her that she was in charge of picking out a good photo for my obituary should I die from either exertion or embarrassment.  Fortunately I did neither and I was once again reminded that exercising is about me, not anyone else.

Today’s class was my first group weight training class in about ten years. When my children were little, the YMCA was a godsend with its childcare so I tried out classes even though I was obese.  I was proud of myself for participating, albeit slowly and clumsily, until one fateful day.  A perky girl, who I could only think thought she was being helpful by cheerfully rushing up to me after class said, “Wow, good for you!  You’re doing this class.”  My dumbfounded and angry face must have given her the impression she should just back away slowly.  As if I didn’t say to myself every class, “It’s OK you’re the only fat mom in here, just keep trying.  No one cares.”  From that day on, every time I took that class I thought that people must feel sad for the fat chick in the class.  It was devastating, but I did keep going.

Here I am almost four years out from my gastric sleeve surgery and I must admit I’m still self-conscious about my body. Oh, I’m in the best shape of my adult life and I exercise regularly including running, but the “fat chick” in my head likes to make herself known from time to time.  My personal training sessions have boosted my confidence tremendously, but they will be ending soon.  I realized it was time to try out a group class to keep working on strength training.

I’m very lucky that my personal trainer also teaches the boot camp I did today.  I was reassured that she would make sure my form was good when she could.  When I walked into class I realized that it was made of women of all shapes, sizes, and athletic ability.  No, I wasn’t the skinniest woman in the room, but I fit in just fine.  But you know what?  It didn’t matter what I looked like or what I could do because no one cares!  Now, I don’t mean that in a malicious way as in people are uncaring, what I mean is that everyone is there to do their best.  It’s not a fashion show or a competition.  This boot camp was all about people doing their personal best.

Was I awkward, uncoordinated, and insecure?  You betcha!  I was also determined, strong, and proud.  Sure, my lunges were slow, but I rocked it on the TRX bands.  As I moved from station to station, I became more comfortable and relaxed.  In no time, the session was over and I did everything.  I assume everyone else did, but I didn’t notice.  This time was about me and what I could do.  And thankfully no one came up to me commenting about my abilities, weight or the fact I was even in the class.

But if someone had said something to me, I would have been irritated, but I would have brushed it off.  I am proud of what I can do and I am not focusing on my weaknesses when I exercise.  I’m working hard to be this way in all aspects of my life.  I’m taking one giant step, or rather lunge, forward to being positive mentally and physically!

Next time, you’re thinking of trying something new or even an activity you stopped doing due to insecurity, I hope you’ll do it.  One of the positive things that has come out of my weight loss journey is my confidence to try new and old things.  I want to live a life that is full of hope and happiness and how I get there is all up to me.  While no one might notice what I’m doing to get there, the results of living a healthy life are clear I think, especially as I continue 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!

Let’s Get Uncomfortable

“You’ve become comfortable.”

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

“You’re right.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tangible Versus Intangible: Thank Goodness for Both

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another Goal Met: My Half-Marathon and More!

Yes, I did it! I ran my first half-marathon on May 8, 2016! Sometimes I can’t believe I went from this woman in her first 5K race in 2012 to this woman who ran her first half-marathon!

Here I am celebrating at my first half-marathon and my first 5K! Gastric sleeve surgery has changed me in so many ways!

Here I am celebrating at my first half-marathon and my first 5K! Gastric sleeve surgery has changed me in so many ways!

What was it like to run 13.1 miles? I’ve thought a lot about it this past week and I finally decided the best way to describe it is to compare it to my weight loss journey. Let me share the ways…

First, committing to a half-marathon was like committing to my gastric sleeve surgery. I wanted to change-up my running routine and a half-marathon seemed like the right choice. In August I registered for the Disneyland Tinker Bell marathon and then I knew there was no turning back. It was like when I decided to have gastric sleeve surgery. I started in October 2012 researching this life-changing procedure and had to wait until June 2013 to have the surgery due to my insurance company’s rules.

Waiting for a major event is tough. It gives you time to worry if you’re making the right decision. You question if this really is the right thing to do. Now, running a half-marathon isn’t quite like reconfiguring your stomach, but committing to new things can be scary. And just like when I announced on my blog that I was having surgery, I proclaimed that I would run a half-marathon. For me, sharing my goals helps me be accountable for my actions. When your friends and family want to know how your prep work is going for a new goal, you can’t hide!

Just like I prepared for the half-marathon, I had prepared for my surgery. I did all the homework on how my life would change with the sleeve. Weight loss surgery is a physical change and of course, it means you change your eating habits and exercise routine. But it is also a very mental change and in some ways, it’s the more difficult change you must make to be successful. I went on websites and I talked to people who had the surgery. I took in as much information as I could.

For the race, I also read as much as I could about running from magazines and websites. I joined Facebook groups about Disney races so I could prepare as best I could. During my race training, I reminded myself of all the changes I made to lose weight, so I shouldn’t let a training schedule scare me. Well, it did when I started. I followed Jeff Galloway’s program for the Tinker Bell run in the beginning. I changed it up when I had other races. I started the training with my first 15K which was not in schedule! It was a difficult race, but my local running partner, R., kept me going. We had to finish for the hot chocolate! Finishing this race gave me the confidence that I could do longer races, but it was a good reminder that it would be tough.

And I’ve tackled tough things during my Down the Scale journey. Weight gains, boredom, lack of confidence, stress and depression are just a few problems I’ve met and admittedly, I still fight. So even when my training runs became longer, I knew I could do it. I would do it my way, which to most runners is really slow. I run. I walk. I run again. My training pace was under the Disneyland required pace of 16 minutes per mile, but I worried about it anyway. I even tackled hills, including my beloved Golden Gate Bridge, to build my stamina and to try to quiet my fears. If I can run 12 miles throughout hilly San Francisco, what was 13.1 miles of flat Disneyland and Anaheim?

“It’s scary, that’s what!” This is what I said to myself at 5 AM on a dark Sunday morning when race day arrived. Fortunately, it was only a moment of doubt as my amazing race partner, B., kept me focused and excited about what was to come. Let me take this moment, to share how much it meant to me to have my friend, B., with me for this special day. I have known her for over 20 years and not only was she an incredible friend and sorority sister during our college days, she’s been there, via long distance though my adult life and my weight loss journey. When I asked if anyone would like to join me on this race last year, she said yes and flew across country to do it. B. is someone who I admire for so many reasons and to have her running next to me was more than I could ask for.

B. is one of many people who have supported and encouraged me since I started my journey. Listening to B.’s pre-race pep talk reminded me of all the people who have made my success possible. I remembered my fear of hitting the publish button on my first blog post, hoping I would be supported and not ridiculed for choosing weight loss journey.  A whole new world opened up to me, full of cheerleaders near and far. People shared their stories with me all while encouraging me to go after my dreams of a healthy life. By sharing my story, I have strengthened relationships and made new friendships that keep me going.

The smiling faces and cheers from strangers along the course reminded me of all the “real life” cheerleaders I have in my life. They have cheered me on during my successes, big and small! Now random strangers were encouraging to keep running (or keep swimming as it was a Disney race after all). From high school marching bands to the Red Hat Society women to Tinker Bell, there was joy and well wishes throughout the miles!

My amazing friend, B., with me at Radiator Springs during the race! Disney races are the perfect ones for first time races since you know you're doing to stop for photos!

My amazing friend, B., with me at Radiator Springs during the race! Disney races are the perfect ones for first time races since you know you’re doing to stop for photos!

Nothing is more exhilarating than to run through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and Radiator Springs when you’re a Disney fan like me. I’ve thought about all the times I’ve walked both Disneyland and Disney World and before last year, not once did I think that I would run in the parks. I have always enjoyed Disney parks even when I was obese, but when I lost weight, these trips became even better. To think I’ve gone from worrying if I would fit in a ride to running through the parks in a half-marathon was a bit surreal.

Just like the struggles I faced in my beginning of my gastric sleeve journey, I struggled during the race. 13.1 miles is long. Really long. Especially at Mile 8. Yeah, you’ve gone 8 miles! Oh, shit, you have 5 to go!! My walking intervals became longer than my running intervals. I was chewing on my Sports Beans like they were crack. I dug deep in my head and heart to remind myself I could do this. My longest run was 12 miles so I knew my body could do it, even though my thighs were trying to disagree. It was my head and my soul that were struggling the most.

And just like when I doubt myself in my abilities to keep healthy, I turned to my support group. In this case, it was B. who knew just what to do. She started timing our intervals. She pointed out the amazing scenery and the encouraging crowds surrounding us. She reminded me again and again, of this special race we were running and that we would could do it! I will be forever thankful for her determination to keep me going and for her reminders that I could succeed.

What also kept me going was seeing my ever-supportive hubby and kids near the finish line. They are 3 of the biggest reasons I had surgery and that I continue to work on my health. They support me in everything I do and this race was no exception. While I was pretty excited to see Captain Hook at the end of race, it was the smiling faces of my family that made me cry. I hope that my kids see that even though their Mommy is a bit crazy and stressed a times, that she’s also silly enough to dress like Tic Tock Croc and run 13.1 miles for fun! I’m not sure if they’ll ever know how much they help me to achieve my goals. I just hope that seeing me set up goals and then meet them, even with much difficulty, will encourage them to do the same.

Running over the finish line made me cry, too! B. turned to me and said, “You did it!” and that just made me cry more. It also made the woman next to me cry, too, after she hugged me. And that is also another amazing thing about sharing your joy…it affects everyone around you! The best running races are the ones where everyone encourages each other, and the Tinker Bell race was one of those! Even though I’m sure the woman giving out medals was exhausted, she took the time to let B. take a photo of me getting my medal.

I'm sweaty and exhausted, but excited and amazed that I finished my first half-marathon!

I’m sweaty and exhausted, but excited and amazed that I finished my first half-marathon!

And while this isn’t the most flattering photo of me from the race, I think it’s an important one to share. Yes, I’m sweaty and exhausted from the run, but I was overwhelmed with emotion receiving my medal. For me, it’s like an Olympic medal! From stumbling through my first 5K as an obese woman to running a half-marathon as a healthy woman, here I was, a better version of myself that I never dreamed was possible. Pushing myself through the race was just like pushing myself throughout this weight loss journey for the past three years. I chose to set a goal and I followed through. This is my success.

The post-race day is a bit of a tired blur. I had time to shower, take family photos with B. and enjoy beignets with no guilt. We left that same day and the car ride home was long. My thighs complained for 2 days about the race, but the rest of me was actually in good shape. I did take a week off from running, but I’ve started back up. Somehow, it’s not as fun without the cheering crowds and views of Disneyland, but it always feels good to run.

Yes, I’m back to running and I haven’t picked my next race. No, it’s not going to be a marathon! Honestly, having run 13.1 miles, I can’t even fathom running twice that amount! Even with my B. as my coach, I think I half-marathons are my max! I have set some new running goals though. I want to work on my pace and endurance. Running will always be my first love when it comes to exercise and while I want to keep physically improving, I don’t want to lose the positive mental benefits I get from it. Goals are important, but making them reasonable is important too.

Thank you to everyone who supported me during my training and my race. From my first cheerleader, N., who started me running to R. who runs with me locally to A. who restructured my training schedule and took me out to celebrate my race, I am incredibly blessed to have so many people like them in my life. When I started on journey 3 years ago, I thought it was just about losing weight. It turned out to be so much more. I became heathy. I became a runner. I became a writer. I became the person I wanted to be, but never thought I could be. Once I started sharing my fears along with my goals, I was finally able to tackle my weight as well as my mental health. While I’ve learned a lot and I’m still learning, the most important thing I’ve realized is that I can do what I want to do! It’s not always easy and failure is part of the process, but it’s a journey worth taking. I plan to keep running and keep setting goals as I continue to go Down the Scale…

Nothing is better than celebrating your half-marathon with your running partner afterward! We stopped for photos before beignets!

We did it!  Nothing is better than celebrating your first half-marathon with your running partner afterward! We stopped for photos before beignets!

“Just Keeping Swimming” and Other Water Metaphors

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

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

12 Mile Training Run

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

The End of Summer and New Fall Goals…

I did it!  I signed up for my first half marathon!  I hope Disneyland and Tinker Bell will be ready for me next year!

I did it! I signed up for my first half marathon! I hope Disneyland and Tinker Bell will be ready for me next year!

Summer is ending and I, for one, am relieved. This summer has been more difficult on many levels than past ones. My usually adorable children have fought about everything and anything. My ever supportive husband works from home two days a week so in the summer he gets to experience the kids’ fights along with my nonexistent patience all day long. My long list of summer goals including decluttering the house, writing my Down the Scale book and losing more weight are still glaring at me from my to-do list. Sigh…

Now, I’m not saying the summer was completely bad. We managed to have some wonderful family time on vacation. We’re all still in one piece, but I think we’re all looking forward to heading back to a routine that includes time away from each other. I think the school year provides structure, time with our friends and an appreciation for the time we do have with each other.

For me, it is a time to refocus on my personal goals. I still haven’t been on the scale, but I know the weight that creeped up on me in the Spring is still there along with another pound or two. My clothes still fit, but not like they have in the past. I know what caused this: random snacking. Whether the kids and I were home or out and about, it was easy to grab a snack without thinking about it. Mindless eating has always been my downfall. Although I do have a smaller stomach from my gastric sleeve surgery, once my stomach empties out, I have room for more food. I really hate keeping a food journal, but I must admit, it might be time to start one again.

Managing my stress is always one of my personal goals and this Fall it will be no different. My children will have completely different schedules so life will be changing again. I know it always works out, but until we come up with a working schedule, I worry. Since I’m a stay-at-home mom, I feel extra pressure to make their lives and our entire family’s schedule seamless. If this is my only job, I should do it really well, right? But then I remind myself that no one is perfect at any job, right? Right?

To help me manage my stress, I realized I need to increase my physical activity. As a former sedentary woman, it still seems strange to tell myself to go for a run to feel better. But it works every single time. Even if it’s more of a walk than a run, I never regret going out to exercise.

So to help me refocus on my exercising goals, I signed up for my first half-marathon. Umm, isn’t that adding more stress by setting up a huge goal like running 13.1 miles?! Well, in theory it should be, but I’ve decided that it is a positive goal for me in many, many ways. How so? Let me share:

*I’m a goal oriented person, so having a goal like this helps me focus on what is important to achieve success. And by success, I mean my own version of success. Just finishing the marathon is success to me. My finish time is not important; finishing is important.

*I’m the kind of woman who likes to have something to look forward to. Knowing that I will have a girls weekend in May at Disneyland will get me through the days when I’m overwhelmed. Thinking about that upcoming break from reality will get me through the stressful days.

*This goal is all about me! This isn’t about my role as a mother or wife or friend or family member. I can’t control everything about myself in these roles. I admit I’m not particularly good in these roles from time to time, but thankfully I have understanding people in my life. I can control, though, how I handle this goal. It’s up to me to train properly, eat right and pick out the perfect race day outfit.

Time to say goodbye to Summer and put my disappointment and unfulfilled goals aside. I have new goals to work on so there is no time for regret. My Fall goals will still include decluttering the house, working on my book and losing weight, but now I’ve added running a half-marathon to the list. I know that adding this running goal will help me with my other aspirations. Running helps me lose weight, but more importantly it clears my mind and lessens my stress. I look forward to running toward my half-marathon goal and running Down the Scale…

Running Toward New Challenges

I’m the kind of woman who needs new goals. They can be small ones like getting my kids to put away their dirty dishes to big ones like maintaining my weight loss. I thrive on new challenges, especially when it comes to running. From new places to run to different types of races, I’m always searching for the next big thing to keep me motivated and inspired. This past Sunday I tried a new type of race and it was just what I needed to keep me going on my weight loss journey.

Not my best time for a 5K, but for my first trail run, I'll take it!  Running is one of the best things to come out of my gastric sleeve surgery journey!

Not my best time for a 5K, but for my first trail run, I’ll take it! Running is one of the best things to come out of my gastric sleeve surgery journey!

A few months ago, I received an email about the Double Adventure Run. It’s an 8K race, but split into two parts. First you run a 5K, take about an hour break and then run a 3K. This one took place at Land’s End which is full of trails by the Pacific Ocean with incredible views including my beloved Golden Gate Bridge. I knew this distance was doable as I’ve done a bit of trail running and I did a 10K in April. This seemed like the perfect challenge, especially when my 11-year-old son, Jack, asked to join me.

Jack and I arrived early at Land’s End on race day. If you’ve ever participated in a running event, you know about the energy in the air. This was a small race of less than 200 runners, but it was still exciting. I’ve found many runners to be very friendly and encouraging, especially when you have a child with you. We chatted with other runners and took our pre-race photos in this scenic locale.

I’d love to say we ran the race together, but I can’t keep up with my athletic son. Jack tried to go to the front of the starting line, but I made him go to the back with me. Pacing is not in his vocabulary just yet, so I knew he would start trying to keep up with the master runners. As a soccer player, he’s used to sprinting and I have to remind him that 5K races are a different type of running. This wasn’t his first 5K, but he did the first one with a friend so they paced each other.

My obliging son did start the race with me. We were only about a quarter of a mile in when he batted those big blue/gray eyes at me and politely asked if he could go ahead. I wasn’t finished saying “OK” before he grinned and went running ahead. As much as I wanted him to run with me, I knew I had to let him go. He knew to stay on the race path and wait for me at the end. Part of me hoped I would catch up to him, but I was doubtful.

And my doubts were correct when I came to the first 100 step staircase. I knew I wouldn’t see Jack until the end as I huffed and puffed up the stairs. The 5K race started nicely downhill and then up a relatively easy incline, but this beautiful park is full of evil, killer stairs. I’ve walked and run a bit through Land’s End before, but when you’re in race mode it’s three times as hard. Fortunately the other runners around me seemed to feel the same way. There was a feeling of struggle and determination in the air along with a lot of heavy breathing. This mixed with the salt air and sweat made this race unique to say the least.

After this first staircase I realized I wouldn’t be able to have a PR (personal record) for this 5K part of the race. I begrudgingly told myself this was OK. This was my first real trail race with hills and staircases. This 5K would be the new baseline for trail races I decided so I pushed through to the end.

Here is my amazing son running to finish the 5K portion of our 8K race.  He inspires and motivates me with his athletic abilities!

Here is my amazing son running to finish the 5K part of our 8K race. He inspires and motivates me with his athletic abilities!

Running to the finish line, I finally saw Jack. Nothing made me happier than seeing his smiling face! He finished 11 ½ minutes before me and I was proud for both of us. Jack said he chatted with other runners throughout the race and one particular runner recommended he try to pace himself. He said he tried to after she talked with him. I just smiled at him instead of saying “I told you so!” Sometimes being a parent means keeping your mouth shut.

We weren’t done yet! It was halftime, so to speak. We had about an hour to rest, stretch, hydrate and dance to “Shake it Off” about 10 times before the 3K race. I really enjoyed this time to hang out with my son. We talked with other runners, many of whom congratulated Jack. I love races that have such a positive spirit. While it is a competition I’ve found everyone to be encouraging to each other.

I must admit it was hard to get pumped up for the second race even though it was only a 3K. (OK, I never thought I would say “just a 3K” ever in my life!). It’s a bit strange to think about racing again after a break, but once we start lining up, the race energy got me going.

As before, Jack went off on his own. This is the time I wished I brought my headphones. I didn’t plan to run with music like I normally do since I would be with Jack. Silly mommy, thinking her baby would run with her! I can’t say I completely enjoyed running without music, but it was a good experience. It was such a beautiful place to run that I really took in the views as I ran. I’m sure it was a safer way to run through the narrow dirt paths and up the steep stairs too. But sometimes when you’re slowing down, having the Foo Fighters sing loudly in your ears motivates you to pick up the pace.

While I didn’t particularly run a fast pace during the 3K, I finished with a smile on my face and received a big hug from Jack. I need to start bribing my husband and daughter to come to these races just so I have them waiting for me at the end. Nothing is better than having the people you love waiting for you to complete another challenge. So my little runner finished with a total combined time of 49:51 and his momma finished with 1:09. Would we do it again? You betcha! Splitting the race into two parts was difficult, but fun. Trail running is such a great change from road races and I plan to do more.

Every race I do gives me more things to work on like running more hills and increasing my pace. Finding the motivation to keep active and heathy is sometimes hard, but for me, finding new challenges is helping me as I head into year two of my weight loss journey. I plan to keep on running Down the Scale for a long, long time…

Here we are after running our first 8K race!  I'm looking forward to sharing more runs with my son!

Here we are after running our first 8K race! I’m looking forward to sharing more runs with my son!