Tag Archives: Obese

Taking off the Band-Aids

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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?

Learning to Wear a Bathing Suit…

You didn't think I would post a picture of me in a bathing suit did you? Well, I'm gaining confidence with my body, a swim suit photo isn't going to happen!  A cute hat and swim suit cover up go a long way in giving a girl confidence, though!

You didn’t think I would post a picture of me in a bathing suit did you? While I am gaining confidence with my body, a swim suit photo isn’t going to happen! A cute hat and swim suit cover up go a long way in giving a girl confidence, though!

Yes, I really did title this week’s blog post as “Learning to Wear a Bathing Suit.” Don’t worry, I do know how to put one on, but before my gastric sleeve surgery, I wasn’t happy to wear one. First of all, finding a plus size bathing suit is difficult especially when you’re cursed with a large chest. After I would find one, I would have to squeeze my body in it and then go out in public. It was difficult, depressing and scary when I did this, especially when I would go swimming with my kids. Now that I’ve lost 95 pounds (yes, I keep fluctuating with these two pounds, but that’s for another blog), bathing suit season is easier, but it still comes with its own struggles.

First of all, finding a bathing suit was much easier this summer. I could finally buy one with a built-in bra in my actual size. Having my breasts actually supported and somewhat covered is liberating, so to speak. I’m not as worried when I’m splashing around the pool or walking around. Wearing a bathing suit that fits and is stylish is a huge bonus after losing weight.

So, what do I mean about learning to wear a bathing suit? I mean, even though I am not obese, I still have issues with my body. The parts of my body exposed in a bathing suit are not my favorite parts. A bathing suit shows off my flabby arms, my wrinkly thighs and my lumpy and protruding stomach. I was so excited to try on my normal size bathing suit, but when I looked in the mirror I just about broke down in tears. My body still shows the wear and tear of being obese. Some might call them badges of honor, but when I first looked at myself, I thought of myself as a failure.

I took a moment to wallow in self-pity and then I figuratively slapped myself. I’m 45 years old and was obese for most of my life. I will never have a supermodel body. Even with plastic surgery which yes, I am looking into for my stomach and breasts (another blog post!), I will always have issues. But then again, I really don’t know anyone who doesn’t have some body issues, no matter what their shape or size is. I have to live with the body that I have and do what I can which means keeping a healthy weight, exercising, and perhaps having some surgical intervention.

I promised my kids a summer full of swimming and I will not let them down, no matter what I look like in a bathing suit. Yes, I have flabby arms, but they can hold on to my daughter as she gains confidence to swim on her own. These wrinkly thighs can kick fast as I race my son to the end of the pool. My lumpy stomach isn’t keeping me from having fun with my children!

So, if you see me at the pool, you’ll see a woman with the remains of an obese body, but I hope you will also see a confident happy woman who is enjoying the summer with her kids. Going Down the Scale has taught me many things and I am happy that one of them is to live with my new body in a joyful way.

Up the Hill and Down the Scale…

Following Jack and Jill up the hill...really!

Following Jack and Jill up the hill…really!

Week 46 of my gastric sleeve surgery is here and I am happy to announce my new weight loss total is 95 pounds! I lost two pounds last week to get to my new total. I didn’t lose anything this week; I blame the Easter Bunny. OK, not really. My weight loss has been up and down these past few months, so I am concentrating on the other aspects of my journey and going “up the hill” is a huge part of it.

First, let me share with those who don’t know that my children are named Jack and Jill. Yes, my husband and I named our almost 10-year-old and 6-year-old after the fairy tale. Hopefully they’ll still like their names as teenagers or I guess I should start saving for their therapy bills. Anyway…we joke a lot about going “up the hill” because of them. And now I can really join them going up the hill with my new body. Two weekends ago I got the chance to literally go with them.

We spent the weekend with friends in Northern California near snow. My fairytale children spent most of their lives in Florida so snow was completely new to them. We went to Lake Alpine (7,000 foot elevation) for them to have a quick snow experience. When I was 95 pounds heavier, I would have dreaded this trip. This time I was ready for it! Instead of just standing at the end of the snow making a snowman, I joined them walking and running through the snow. Well, as much running as you can do when you keep sinking in the snow. It was icy and now and then we would drop into the snow.

I laughed as my legs would fall through the snow and it would be up to my knees. I know I wouldn’t have done this is the past. The first drop in the snow with my heavier body would have crushed my spirit. Not this time! I pulled myself up out of the snow and kept following my kids. They found a hill and started sledding. The laughter, the cheesy grins and the screams of delight were infectious. I had to join them.

I did hesitate though. Thoughts of my old body haunted me and I grabbed the sleds to try to find a weight limit on them. My ever-supportive husband took a sled and headed up the hill first. Watching him laugh and the kids cheering him loudly was just the encouragement I needed. I grabbed a sled and walked right up the hill.

I lowered my body on the sled and looked down the hill. Granted, it wasn’t that big of a hill, but to this formerly obese woman, it was a mountain. “Would I actually be able to slide down?,” I worried. In the words of the incessantly played song “Let it Go”, I did just that. I pushed off and glided down the hill.

My "tah-dah!" moment after sledding for the first time with my new body!

My “tah-dah!” moment after sledding for the first time with my new body!

It was fun. It was quick. It was freedom. I kneeled up on the sled and threw my arms in the air. My son was behind me, waiting for his turn and laughing with me. My ever-supportive husband and my daughter cheered. Such a simple act of sledding brought me such confidence, fun and joy.

Those feelings are the ones that I want to remember as I continue this journey Down the Scale. Losing weight is full of such intense emotions, good and bad. I want to remember the joy of confidently walking up the hill and then letting go and enjoying the freedom of going down the hill. Life is all about ups and downs I think. And a trip to the snow was just what I needed to see the beauty in that…

 

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 Truth and Nothing but the Truth…in Numbers that is…

Week 19 and feeling great!  64.5 pounds are gone for good!

Week 19 and feeling great! 64.5 pounds are gone for good!

I have thought long and hard about this week’s blog. I think I am pretty honest with you about the good, the bad and the ugly of my gastric sleeve journey, but I struggle with how honest to be with you. I am talking about the numbers…my actual weight. It’s easy to share how many pounds I have lost and how many I am going to lose. What I haven’t shared are my starting numbers, but I know my readers are smart and you could figure this out on your own, if you’re so inclined.

Why would I tell you what I actually weighed at the beginning of this process? Mainly because I know that is what I wanted to know when I was researching gastric sleeve surgery. I wanted concrete evidence that the surgery would be worth it. While I do many things in my life based on my gut and intuition, I also like cold, hard facts and evidence. I would scour the web for any website or blog that mentioned actually pounds and showed before and after photos. All the professionals I saw during my surgery were very helpful, but the bravery of the people who had surgery and shared their numbers and photos helped convince me of my surgery decision.

The reason I have decided to share my numbers is that I hit a major milestone this week. This is week 19 and I have lost 64.5 pounds! This puts me, in what “gastric sleevers” call “onederland.” Yes, I am under 200 pounds for the first time in over 10 years. I am thrilled and proud and in a bit of shock still that I finally made this goal.

Yes, if you do the math that means I started my journey over 200 pounds. On the day of my surgery I weighed 262 pounds and this actually isn’t even my highest weight. No, my highest weight was actually 283 pounds. Yes, I was 17 pounds shy of 300. I want to cry as I type this. It is mortifying to think I was that heavy. The few friends who have known these numbers are so supportive and gracious and tell me I carried it well and that they never guessed it.

But I knew it and I denied it. Now I look back at photos and I can see the bloated face and protruding stomach and the huge, OK, humongous breasts, and not in a good way! And I felt every one of those extra pounds. Even though I tried to exercise, I was tired, exhausted, moody, and just plain old depressed. 64.5 pounds lighter is a new world for me. I feel so much better physically and mentally. I am still, however, working on forgiving myself for letting myself become obese. Forgiving others is easier than forgiving yourself.

I don’t want to make it seem that the numbers are the only thing that matter while losing weight. My goal weight is 150 pounds because that will give me a healthy BMI. I don’t recall when I weighed 150 in my life. I lost weight in college (over 20 years ago!) and got down to 160 pounds so 150 seems a bit daunting. I have 47.5 pounds to go so we’ll just see what happens. My doctor thinks this is reasonable so I’m going for it, but I am more concerned about being healthy and happy. OK, and looking good in clothes and being able to run and OK, looking good out of clothes for my hubby….

So, now’s it out there! I hope that my honesty will give others hope. You can be obese and lose the weight, no matter which method you choose. And if you have a hard goal, no matter what it is, you can do it. And sharing your goals and your fears as well as your successes is scary, but worth it. I guess it’s true what “they” say…the truth will set you free. And in my case, take me Down the Scale…

Downsizing More Than My Weight…

The past few weeks I have thought a lot about downsizing. Obviously, my weight is number one on the list of things to downsize, but my Down the Scale journey is making me think about other ways to downsize my life in positive ways.

Here I am wearing my new "regular" size work out clothes at Week 14!

Here I am wearing my new “regular” size workout clothes at Week 14!

First things first, my weight loss for 14 weeks is 52 pounds! I am thrilled, excited and feeling great! I am four pounds away from my next goal of being halfway to my final goal of 112 pounds. Every pound gets me closer to my goal, but more importantly it is helping me feel better and look better. Health and vanity go hand in hand in this journey!

Speaking of vanity, downsizing my wardrobe is thrilling. 52 pounds means I really need to find other clothes. When your pants fall down as you run and your shirts are exposing way too much cleavage (even by my husband’s standards), it’s time to shop! I have bought shirts, new pajamas and workout clothes from the “regular” section. It’s exciting as well as a bit overwhelming. The “plus” clothing section doesn’t offer much so having more to choose from is challenging, but this is a challenge I welcome wholeheartedly.

One of the best downsizing moments of the last week was buying a new car. We traded in our tank, AKA the mini-van, for a Honda Fit. It’s a little bitty thing, but the perfect city car. I never imagined our family choosing such a small car, but lo and behold, we all fit! My ever-supportive husband has also lost over 50 pounds this year, so our shrinking family can enjoy the benefits of a small car. Well, until the kids’ growth spurts get out of hand at least.

My next downsizing goal is one I have tried to work on for years, but never seem to get it done. With the newfound confidence of my weight loss and the change in living a better, healthier lifestyle, I think I’m finally ready to tackle it. Yes, it’s the dreaded “downsize all the crap in your house” goal. Some days I feel like we’re three boxes away from an episode of Hoarders. Well, maybe it’s not that bad, but some days it feels overwhelming and I want it to stop. I have learned to downsize my food and eating habits so I think it’s time to tackle this project.

My last and most challenging downsizing goal is lessening stress and anxiety in my life. I imagine everyone has this one of their own list. I am still trying to come up with solutions, but honestly I feel like I am focusing so much on my weight loss that I don’t know how or where to start. Becoming physically healthy is definitely making an impact on my stress levels, but not as much as I would like. Time to work on some solutions!

Losing weight isn’t just about pounds; it’s about becoming healthy. I have realized that I can downsize in other areas of my life. A thinner me, a tiny car, smaller clothes, less “stuff” and less stress are all part of my journey Down the Scale. Looking forward to having less has never felt so good!