Tag Archives: Normal

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.

Another Merry Christmas to Me!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Going Down in Size and the Scale…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making an Investment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s Talk About Some Good Stuff…

My son and I at our first Maker's Faire!  Staying on my feet all day is much easier with 94 pounds less on my body!

My son and I at our first Maker’s Faire! Staying on my feet all day is much easier with 94 pounds less on my body!

Here I am at Week 50 and up a pound. No, that’s not the good stuff. It puts my total weight loss from 95 pounds to 94 pounds so I won’t complain..too much. I think I’m still figuring out what my “real” weight will be so I’m going to put the numbers aside for today. Let’s have a positive chat about the good, no, the great things, that losing 94 pounds has done for me!

  • Staying on my feet all day and walking around is not a problem! This weekend we went to Maker’s Faire which basically is a science, computers, arts and crafts, techie geek festival. All day we wandered a convention center full of wonders for nerds of all ages. It was overwhelming, fun and interesting, but I know if we had gone last year I would not have felt that way. Walking all day and standing on my feet with another 94 pounds on my body would have made it miserable.
  • Having more physical stamina rocks! Not only is walking around and standing on my feet all day a really great feeling, but just being able to do more without it being an issue is incredible. I still don’t like doing laundry, but going up and down two flights of stairs is so much easier. Walking my kids back and forth to school is a breeze! And yes, having better physical stamina in other personal areas is really, really great, but let’s just keep that between me and the hubby…
  • Clothes shopping is a whole new world! I can choose from such a huge variety of clothes now that I’m not limited to one section of a store. I will admit it is still confusing and overwhelming shopping in larger stores like Macy’s and Nordstrom. Can they just have a section for 45 year olds who want to dress modern, but not too trendy? Not matter how much weight I loss, short-shorts will not be featured on this body!
  • Positive comments from acquaintances are great for my ego! Just this week, a school secretary and a parent at my children’s school told me how great I look. Now that I’ve lost such a large amount of weight, I think more people are comfortable commenting on my new appearance. I will honestly admit I love the positive feedback. It really helps during this fluctuating time in my weight loss journey.

These are just a few of the positive results I am feeling this week and I realize how fortunate I am to feel this way. Life can’t just be about numbers! I plan to keep my eye on the scale, but I can’t let a number define me. Feeling good about my accomplishments and keeping a positive attitude in life is the true goal in my journey Down the Scale…

Taking Control…Again

Enjoying my 85.5 pound weight loss with a run at one of my favorite running spots!

Enjoying my 85.5 pound weight loss with a run at one of my favorite running spots!

Week 33 of my gastric sleeve surgery journey is here and I have lost a total of 85.5 pounds! I am thrilled, but I must admit I didn’t blog last week because I gained weight. I was a bit freaked out, OK a lot freaked out, over the half pound weight gain I had during Week 32. Common sense says this is normal, but I have plateaued, but not gained since my surgery. I was depressed, worried and scared. I lost one and a half pounds this week so I calmed down and took the time to think about what caused my weight gain.

Of course the weight gain could have just been water gain or just a blip in the weight loss road, but I think it was more than that. I took an honest look at my food consumption and finally admitted I bought the Cheez-Its for me, not my children. I wasn’t eating as many vegetables and fruits as I have in the past. I took control of my food choices this week and fixed my eating habits. I prepared a lot of vegetables to keep in the fridge for easy meals and snacks. I also brought the crock pot back out and I’m making healthy meals like turkey chili that the whole family enjoys.

One of the reasons I choose my surgery is that my smaller stomach keeps me from eating large quantities of food. It also keeps me from eating some “bad” foods like fried foods. Some foods are still easy for me to eat like crackers, pudding and wine so I have to keep quantities and how often I eat them in check. I know that keeping a food journal will help, but I’m saving that for another weight gain or a plateau. I honestly hate keeping a food journal. I find it tedious and boring after a while. I’ve counted points, calories and fat grams throughout the years of dieting. I will journal if I have to, but I hope to make eating the proper amounts and types of food part of my normal life. I am in control of my eating habits, no one else.

I took control of my exercise program again, too. I wasn’t making it a priority and this week I did. I planned out my running days and kept to them. I also changed my running locations. Changing my routine really helped! I ran today in one of my favorite spots in the city and it was invigorating! It inspired me to keep on track and make exercising a real priority in my busy schedule.

I am, and always will be, working on controlling my anxiety and stress levels. Some days I feel completely overwhelmed with the day-to-day activities my husband, children and I have to attend. While some things like school and work can’t be ignored, I feel like the other activities we commit to take away from our time together as a family. I am not sure what the answer is to this stress, but we did take a day this weekend just for our family. We went to Point Reyes National Seashore for the day and it was perfect. We had spectacular weather, amazing views, interesting wildlife to view, great walking paths, but more importantly no cellphone service! No phone calls, no texts and no alerts to interrupt our family day. My stress levels dropped considerably and I felt closer to my family. While we can’t run away from our responsibilities, it’s time to spend more time as a family.

Taking control of my weight loss is an ongoing process and I expect there will be more bumps in the road. Hopefully by taking control of my eating and exercising habits will help my weight loss to continue.   And I do know that spending more time doing fun activities with my family will help, too. I’m looking forward to going Down the Scale even more now!