Tag Archives: physical changes

Another Item Off the To Do List

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Embracing Sleeveless and Other Things I’ve Learned…

Time flies when you're healthier!  These past two years since my gastric sleeve surgery have been challenging and rewarding in more ways than I imagined.

Time flies when you’re healthier! These past two years since my gastric sleeve surgery have been challenging and rewarding in more ways than I imagined.

Another year bites the dust! This month I celebrate my two-year gastric sleeve surgery anniversary. It’s been a challenging year, but I will declare it a successful year! Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

*It’s not always about losing weight. At my two-year check-up with my surgeon, he noted I was down a pound from last year, making it a 98 pound loss since the surgery. Well, if you’ve read my blog, you know I actually was maintaining a 100+ pound weight loss. I’m struggling with about four to five pounds that keep coming and going. Considering I used to have 20 to 30 pounds I would gain and lose, this is not bad. I am not obsessing about it, but I am working at it. Granted, it’s at a slow pace, but I’m OK with that.

*I’ve learned to be more patient with myself. In the past, I would have beaten myself up over the yoyoing weight and changed it to a “F*** it all” attitude. Now I know that straying from my regular healthy lifestyle will happen and it’s not the end of the world, or rather, not the end of my healthy life. It’s as simple as choosing better food for my next meal or going for a run the next day.

*Running will always be my go-to stress reliever and the way to maintain my weight loss. After my hernia repair/tummy tuck surgery in September, I was able to run again without pain. It keeps me sane and happy to go out for a run, even if it’s more walking than running. I never thought I would find an athletic activity that I would crave. Some days I’m slow and some days I improve, but every time I run I know I’m doing something important for my physical and mental health.

*This is the year to embrace the way my body looks now. Having a tummy tuck did wonders for my physical appearance and my mental health. It put me down a one size smaller and I’m much more comfortable in a bathing suit. But (there’s always a but), I still have wrinkly thighs, flabby arms and oversized breasts. Sure if I wanted to spend the time and money, surgery would fix it all. Also, if I ever commit to strength training, I would have a better looking body. Maybe one day I’ll choose surgery and/or strength training, but for now I’m accepting my body as is. It’s time to embrace me as I am and not shy away from shorts and sleeveless tops. I’ll never go as far as embracing a bikini, but I’m going to wear those sleeveless dresses and shirts I’ve always been afraid to wear. It’s about time!

Here I am embracing a sleeveless dress!  Something I wouldn't have done before my weight loss journey.

Here I am embracing a sleeveless dress! Something I wouldn’t have done before my weight loss journey.

I’ve learned all this and more over the past two years, but the best conclusion I’ve reached on this anniversary is that I truly am a success. Perhaps that sounds cocky or conceited, but I don’t care! I am proud of the person I’ve become. I always thought of myself as the “fat chick” with no hope of changing. My gastric sleeve surgery was just the beginning of this incredible journey to find out who I could be.

I just don’t mean a thinner person. I discovered I was tougher, smarter and more confident than I thought. I’m not perfect and neither is my weight loss story. I struggle. I feel defeated. I feel unsure of myself. But I am not giving up…ever. It’s taken me years to believe in myself. Now I have a lifetime to live my life with a positive and confident mindset. Two years down and a lifetime to enjoy going Down the Scale..

My Happy Surroundings

Here I am with my writing practice inspirations:  my journal and coffee!

Here I am with my writing practice inspirations: my journal and coffee!

This past weekend I went to a writing seminar. Not only was I inspired to create a writing practice, I was reminded that I had already created a weight loss practice. It’s this routine that I developed after my gastric sleeve surgery that is keeping me healthy and happy.

The writing instructor shared many helpful and insightful writing information, but one hint he shared really struck home. He mentioned he liked to keep one of his favorite books on his desk when he writes. His favorite author inspires him. Sometimes he reads from the book to get ideas, but not to copy. It reminds him of different aspects of writing such as structure, word choice, etc. Surrounding himself with his inspirations and influences keeps him writing.

As he told this story, I realized I am already doing this with my weight loss journey. Since my surgery, I made the conscious effort to make my surroundings healthy. I believe it is one of the biggest reasons for my success. What are these positive things I surround myself with? The first is food. Out with the bad, in with the good. Soda, junk food, fatty food had to go.

No, I’m not an angel by any means. As I write, a pan of chocolate drizzled rice crispy treats are in my kitchen. They are leftovers from the ones my daughter took to a school event. Am I going to have one today? You bet! It’s a treat, not a regular food choice. The rest of the my food choices today will be healthy, especially when I know that large amounts of sugar make me ill. I am surrounded by better food so that what I choose now is what I truly want.

Exercise is another positive aspect of my life. When I don’t move, I am cranky. Trust me, I know I am. Even if I’m just walking my kids to school I am a happier woman. Now running is a passion. I’m still a solo runner, although I am getting closer to running, and hopefully chatting as I run, with friends. I really enjoyed the 5K races I completed. Even though I’m not running and talking with people during the race, I am inspired being with people who are putting themselves out there. Whether these people are competitive runners or determined walkers, they give me a sense of affirmative energy that I love. This is one of the reasons I signed up for another 5K race less than a month after my last race. When you find something that makes you happy, you keep reaching for it.

This leads me to the third thing that makes my surroundings healthy: choosing positive people to keep in my life. Naturally, I can’t control who I am in contact with 100% of the time. I have learned it’s OK to keep my interactions with negative people to a minimum when possible. I am a firm believer that positivity breeds positivity. When I’m with people who are interested in me, who encourage and support me, and see the light and humor in life, I feel better about myself. Hopefully I offer the same to my family and friends. I don’t believe a person needs to be perky and positive all the time, but if your first thoughts are always negative, how can you let in positivity? I continue to struggle with anxiety and depression and I know I always will since life is full of family drama, financial issues and just plain old unhappiness. I feel like I handle these struggles quicker and better because I have a positive, strong network in place to help me in my continuing weight loss journey.

I will take my writing instructor’s advice to surround my writing environment with things that inspire me. For me this means a cup of coffee, my journal and stacks of books that I love and ones I want to read. To lose weight and maintain my mental and physical health, I surround myself with good food, exercise and positive people. I plan to apply my positive weight loss environment method to my writing practice and hopefully other areas of my life. I look forward to a successful writing practice and healthy lifestyle as I continue to preserve my happy surroundings!

100!

Here I am with my beautiful children enjoying delicious snacks at a cafe.  We worked off those snacks with games of tag in the park and then a long and steep walk through one of our favorite neighborhoods.  This defines my weight loss success more than losing 100 pounds -- a day of fun with my kids is of the best weight loss rewards!

Here I am with my beautiful children enjoying delicious snacks at a café. We worked off those snacks with games of tag in the park and then a long and steep walk through one of our favorite neighborhoods. This defines my weight loss success more than losing 100 pounds — a day of fun with my kids!

Yes, I have officially lost 100 pounds! Technically it’s 100.5 pounds in 1 year, 1 month and 11 days.

First, let’s get over the part of me being a little sad about this fact. There is a little voice in my head that tries to negate my success by saying “It’s pathetic you had to lose over 100 pounds to begin with!” Yes, I am telling this voice to take a hike. I’ve always believed that regret isn’t worth the trouble. What has happened has happened and hopefully I learn from my earlier choices and don’t repeat the bad ones. And if I do repeat them, I just try harder not to in the future.

With this negativity pushed away, let’s talk about success! I am a goal-oriented gal so finally hitting my goal of 100 pounds makes me happy and proud. It feels amazing to have met this goal, but it’s not the highlight of my journey like I thought it would be. As I talked about in my last blog, The Scale is Not the Be-All and End-All in Weight Loss”, the scale isn’t my biggest measure of success. The way I feel these days was really what I was looking for when I finally committed to losing weight. Being 100 pounds lighter reflects not only my new body shape and health, but also the more positive outlook I have on myself and my life.

Where do I go from here? I still have my goal of losing another 11.5 pounds to make my goal of being healthy according to the BMI chart. I am still working toward it, but I am not pressuring myself. Sure I’d like to lose this weight, but I am more concerned about maintaining my current weight. All the yo-yo dieting I did over the past 30 years has to stop. I want to treat my body with more respect now. Considering all the damage I’ve done to it, my body has been there for me and given me two amazingly beautiful children. It’s time to pay my body back with eating well and exercising as part of my life and not just as a dieting phase.

Mentally I still struggle with my weight, but when I think about over-eating or making poor choices, I get myself to stop and think about how much better I feel now. I am happier. I am healthier. I can do so much more than I imagined I could. Losing weight is giving me a whole other outlook on life and what I can accomplish. I will always battle the “fat chick” inside of me, but I feel more ready to handle her than I did 100 pounds ago.

So, yes, I will celebrate my weight loss of 100.5 pounds! I am celebrating it every day with the life I now lead with my ever-supportive husband and sweet children. I also celebrate it with my family and friends who have supported me along the way. I am glad that I am sharing my gastric sleeve journey. Going Down the Scale with love and encouragement is one of the best rewards!

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!

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.

My Second New Year

New Year's Eve 2013!  Losing 83.5 pounds in 2013 was exciting and I can't wait to see the changes I make in 2014!

New Year’s Eve 2013! Losing 83.5 pounds in 2013 was exciting and I can’t wait to see the changes I make in 2014!

2014 is here and for me, this is actually my second new year. I consider June 4 of 2013, my gastric sleeve surgery date, the start of my new year. This is the day I made the biggest change to my body, both physically and mentally. More importantly, it is one of the most positive changes I have made to my life.

30 weeks in my new year has been emotional, rewarding, difficult, joyful and not completely what I expected. I knew I would lose weight, but I really did not comprehend before surgery how much losing 83.5 pounds would change me and my life.

Physically, I am healthier than I ever have been in my adult life. I weighed less than my current weight in my early adulthood, but I didn’t exercise regularly or incorporate every day activity like walking. I actually want to run for exercise; I want to be a runner. I want to be someone who enjoys walking outside and exploring new places on foot. I even told my husband I will try camping! OK, it has to be in a cabin at first. Let’s not go to crazy with the “outdoorsy” life just yet.

The mental changes have been more dramatic in this new year. While I still suffer from stress, anxiety and depression from time to time, I am more aware when I feel these emotions. I’m learning not to deny them, but to admit I am struggling and to find a way to handle it without food. I am far from perfect, but I realize that admitting I am hurting is the first step to dealing with it in a positive way. I am extremely fortunate to have an amazing support network who helps me everyday. Without my husband, children, family and friends, food would still be front in center in my way against stress and depression.

For the first time in my life, I didn’t make a New Year’s resolutions that I know I can’t keep. At a party on New Year’s everyone posted a resolution on a chalkboard. Mine was “to make my goal and lose 38.5 pounds.” In the past, I would not have shared something so difficult and personal. By blogging my weight loss journey, I have put my goals and myself out to the world. When I starting sharing my story in May of 2013, I had no idea how important it would be to me and how much it would motivate me to keep going.

Thank you for reading my blog and supporting me by reading it, commenting and sharing your own struggles in life. I have learned I am not alone in my weight loss journey, but more importantly, I am not alone in life. This is the best new year I could have and I look forward to another year of going Down the Scale…