Tag Archives: Pounds Lost

Three Years and Counting: My Gastric Sleeve Anniversary Month!

The month of June means many things to people, like the start of summer, but for me it’s my three-year anniversary of my gastric sleeve surgery! I find that every year brings new challenges; surgery does not mean instant and constant success. On my three-year anniversary I find I am still working harder than ever to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This past year is full of successes and failures, so let me share what I’ve learned this year…

From 2013 to 2016, I've made many changes to my life through gastric sleeve surgery!

From 2013 to 2016, I’ve made many changes to my life through gastric sleeve surgery!

First, I’ll start with the failures. Well, maybe failure isn’t the right word, but at times my mistakes or missteps feel like overwhelming failures. First, I’ve gained weight this year. I’m up eight pounds from last year. It feels like I’ve gained a ton of weight, especially when I put on my jeans. Tight jeans are not fun nor comfortable. The fact I can put them on still is a relief, but at the end of the day, I can’t wait to get them off.

So what happened this year? A few things, but I must admit, I’ve had a bit of an invincibility complex.

Here are a few of my thoughts this year:

  • “Hey, I’ve maintained almost a 100+ pound weight loss at times, so I’ll get these extra pounds off in no time!”
  • “I’ll just eat a pastry with my coffee today, but not the next time.” Guess what I did the next time?
  • “I’ll just walk or run more and I’ll burn off those extra snacks I had today.”
  • “I’ve kept off 90 pounds, isn’t that enough?”

I always laugh when I read online about how gastric sleeve surgery is a short-cut and the easy way out. Well, I’m here to tell you that gastric sleeve surgery is not an easy lifetime fix. Sure, I lost over 100 pounds in a little more than a year, but weight loss still isn’t easy for me. I don’t mean to burst anyone’s bubble who is thinking about weight loss surgery, but I think it’s important to be honest about the reality of surgery.

Sure, my small stomach keeps me from eating too much at one time. I still eat smaller meals, but snacking is still a problem. And if I decide to treat myself with food like chips, I can eat more of that than I can something like vegetables or fruit. This year I’ve fallen into the trap of pretending that one little treat like chips or sweets really doesn’t add up. Um, yes, yes, it does!

This year it was like I had a Superman logo on my chest, but mine said “GSS” for gastric sleeve surgery. The sleeve is not a shield keeping me from food. It’s not a shield from the stress and depression I experience. Yes, food can be my Kryptonite, but unlike Superman, I can’t avoid it. I have to eat to live.

So since June 2015, I’ve told myself that the weight I’ve gained will come off easily when I get to it. Well, now that June 2016 is here and that hasn’t happened, I’ll call part of this year’s journey a failure.

It’s not a complete failure, though! While this weight gain is hanging around my neck, or actually it’s hanging around my stomach and thighs to be specific, I ‘m going to take this time to think of what has gone right this year. Yes, I feel like I do have some successes to share on my anniversary! Some highlights from this year are:

  • I ran a half-marathon! Yes, this woman who didn’t consider herself athletic three years ago, ran 13.1 miles… for fun! I followed a training plan and did it. Yes, I am very proud of myself! I set a goal to do it and I did it with the overwhelming help and support of my family and friends.
  • I sought help during the most stressful times. I found that acupuncture and therapy were two ways I could improve my health, both physically and mentally. There are times when you need people outside your family and friends to help you see the big picture and to work on ways to improve your health. There is no shame in asking for help when life get tough.
  • I didn’t buy bigger clothes. To some, this might seem like a strange success, but in the past, I would just buy larger clothes when I gained weight. Trust me, it’s easier to buy clothes than lose weight, but it doesn’t make you feel any better. I’ve been tempted to buy the next size up in jeans, but I won’t let myself. I know that I can maintain my current size with a little room to spare.

After having a year filled with failures and successes, where do I go from here? I think acknowledging how my failures have come about is the first and most important step in my continuing journey. I need to be accountable for the foods I eat and I’ve gone back to tracking my food on MyFitnessPal. I’m aware of what I’m eating, and more importantly, when I’m eating. Realizing that I’m eating when I feel stressed or bored, is helping me think about it. I’m saying no to sweets with my coffee and realizing that I’m just has satisfied without them.

Creating new goals is helping me keep a positive mindset which in turns keeps me healthy. If my mind isn’t occupied I tend to snack and be less mindful of what I’m eating. Last year my big goal was to run a half-marathon, but I’m not adding a full-marathon to my goals. I’m not that crazy…well, not yet at least. Here are some new goals I have come up with:

  • Write more! I keep saying I’m going to turn my blog into a book and that I want to write my first mystery novel. Well, no time like the present! I’ve learned that I need to separate my writing time from my “mom time.” Trying to concentrate at my house with all my “home responsibilities” is tough for me. I’m learning to get over the guilt of “me time” and learn to accept the help my ever-supportive husband gives me with a thank you and then head out the door.
  • Find new types of exercise! I will always run because I love it, but I know I need to try new exercises to help my body and mind stay healthy. I’m starting small with the seven minute workout app that features body weight exercises. This might be the year to add in yoga regularly or start Pilates. I’m open to new workouts, but I’ll never say no to a run.
  • Have more faith! What in the world does this mean? Well, when life is tough, I tend to feel it with every bit of my heart, head and soul. Sure, I make statements like “Everything happens for a reason.” and “It always works out for the best.”, and while I do believe it, I don’t always act like that. I can get depressed, stressed, and angry about things, many of which I can’t control. While I always pull myself out of this state, some times my feelings go on for too long. And I know this affects my health, especially when I use food to numb or comfort myself. I hope that writing, exercising, talking it out, and some good old-fashioned prayer will get me through the pain and stress faster, and hopefully, lessen these situations.

While it’s been a tough three-year anniversary, I’m thankful that I can share the ups and downs of my weight loss journey. Keeping off 90+pounds for these past years is a success and I remind myself of that every day. And I will also remind myself that losing weight isn’t a onetime moment for me. I will always have to work on my health; it’s just part of who I am. Accepting my shortcomings as well as taking pride in my successful traits, is an important part of my journey as I continue to go Down the Scale toward year four….

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..

I’m an Imposter and I’m Owning it!

JentheImposter

Yes, I’m Jen the Imposter. Not for long though as I’m back on track with my weight loss journey!

Yes, I said it. I am an imposter. At least that’s how I feel these days. I feel fat. I feel defeated. I feel I’m heading on up the scale, not down the scale. I am lost, frustrated and terrified.

Mostly I feel this way because of the dreaded scale. Of course I’ve said in the past that the scale is not the end all, be all in weight loss success. I can’t deny it’s importance in keeping track of my health and right now I’m four and half pounds above my weight window. At least that’s the number that’s in my head. I haven’t entered it in the My Fitness Pal program for the past two weeks since it doesn’t count if it’s not written down, right?

Before my gastric sleeve surgery, a gain of five pounds didn’t mean much. What was another five pounds on an obese body? Now that I’ve lost 100+ pounds, five pounds means more. It means I have the start of a muffin top and my breasts feel a little bigger. I can still fit in my clothes so that’s a relief, but I’m sure another pound could make my jeans tight and my bra tighter. Pudgy and doughy are good for pastry, but not on my body! Especially in light of all the work I did to get to this place.

So I’ve felt like a fake thin person for the past two weeks. While on the outside I think I look the same as before this five-pound gain, but on the inside I don’t. I feel like a fake healthy person. I started eating more protein bars and the scale is showing the results. So I stopped buying them and what did I do, but start eating my kids’ protein bars. Sigh. Bars are out in this house as well as bread for me. A bagel and cream cheese here, a slice of peanut butter toast there is not something I can handle these days. Time to own that face and step back from the carbs.

Even though I’m almost two years out from my surgery, I am very fortunate to have the support, encouragement and compliments from my family and friends. For the past two weeks it’s felt so wrong to say “Yes, I’ve lost 100+ pounds.” to people when in fact it’s only 97.5 pounds these days. I feel like such a liar.

But you know what, I’ve finally realized that we’re all imposters at some point in our lives. We all put on masks and act like who we’re supposed to be either to our community or to ourselves. Sometimes things just go off course or just plain wrong. I think it’s important to be who you want to be and need to be, but if you mess up, it’s really OK. Deep down, I know I’m not a failure. I have accomplished a lot and it’s fine to fail from time to time. It’s coming back from the failures that help define who you are.

So, yes, right now I may feel like a weight loss fake. And technically I am since I’ve gained weight and I let my exercise and eating habits go to hell for the past few weeks. But you know what…I’m going to own it. Yes, I’ve screwed up like I’ve done in the past, but this time is different. I now know that I can be successful. I’ve maintained my weight loss since July 2014 and that’s damn impressive! I can do it again if I really, really try. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Thanks for letting me share my failures of the past few weeks. If you see me with a bagel, feel free to gently remind me to put it down. Or actually feel free to slap it out of my hand. Perhaps it’s time for some tough love to get me to the next stage of my weight loss journey. Time to build up my strength, pride and accountability as I go back Down the Scale….

So this is Middle Age?

Yes, I'm a middle-aged woman!  At 46, I'm in the best shape of my life!  My weight loss journey keeps getting better and better.

Yes, I’m a middle-aged woman! At 46, I’m in the best shape of my life! My weight loss journey keeps getting better and better.

Happy birthday to me! Last week I celebrated my 46th birthday. Yes, I did say celebrate. I’m proud to be 46 which I guess would be considered to be middle-aged. What does it mean to be middle-aged? For me it means:

*Being in the best shape of my life! Losing 100+ pounds means I am in great health. I don’t have high blood pressure any longer and I’m not pre-diabetic. I am rarely sick and my last doctor visits have all been check-ups with good results.

*Being physically active! If you told me two years ago that I would be a middle-aged runner, I would have asked what you were smoking. Never in a million years would I have imagined myself running and entering races.

*Being able to keep up with my kids! I had my children at what the medical profession calls “an advanced maternal age”, so I originally had the mindset that I would be on the sidelines watching my kids. Wrong! I love walking and hiking with my family. I am thrilled and proud that I now model healthy living for my children.

*Being a priority is OK! I used to think that my needs and desires needed to be last in order to be a good person. I felt I should say yes to all requests and maintain relationships even if they weren’t healthy. Finally, I realized that to be the healthiest and happiest person, I need to make myself a priority. Taking care of myself, makes me a better mother, wife, friend and person.

*Being unsure is OK, too! When I was in college, I was terrified of not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. That fear was pointless as I now proudly say that my life is turning out pretty well! Even in my younger years when I didn’t know what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be, I managed to figure it out. Now that I’m middle-aged I’ve realized life is always changing and that it actually is a good thing. I’ve realized that I’m the type of person who actually thrives on changes and new goals. It makes me stronger and that is actually a positive and not a negative!

So, for me, middle-age is a gift. It doesn’t mean being old or being settled or being stagnant. It’s given me an incredible gift of looking back at the first half of my life and realizing it’s been pretty good! Sure I’ve had heartbreak, challenges and pain, but I’ve learned from all that. I’m sure I’ll repeat some of it again, too. And that’s just fine with me. I see how I can face challenges and continue to grow into the person I want to be…for now at least. I know that Jen, the middle-aged woman, will continue to change as the years go by. I look forward to seeing where I go in the next 46 years!

The Latest Balancing Act

Here I am about a year and a half into my gastric sleeve journey and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s one big balancing act. I feel like I’m a kid playing on a teeter totter by myself. I’m always trying to find that sweet spot on it. There’s a thrill when I’m out of balance, but what I really want is the joy of being in the middle with a sense of control.

JenFeb2015

I will admit I am more confident having my picture taken now that I’m 100+ pounds lighter. While we did take a family photo with Thor at Disneyland, I wanted one alone with him. Who wouldn’t?

What am I trying to balance these days? In the beginning of my journey, it was relatively easy to keep balanced with my success and failure. With the weight coming off quickly, I was motivated and excited. People noticed and complimented me regularly. My body, my mental state and my spirit were constantly changing. Although the journey was difficult and at times I stalled or doubted my abilities, I was always changing for the better.

Now that I’ve maintained the same weight for six weeks, I’m happy and disappointed. I’m still about nine pounds away from my initial goal weight. I feel sad, but I also feel healthy and strong at this weight. I’ve gone from a size twenty-two to a size ten so I really can’t complain…but I really want to be size eight. I can run faster than ever, but I still do a combination of running and walking. I am in the best shape of my life, but some days all I see is flab and stretch marks.

So I find myself balancing success and disappointment. I wonder, though, wouldn’t it be OK to just learn to enjoy where I am right now in my journey. Isn’t it all right to be happy with what I’ve done so far? Isn’t it enough?

Perhaps it is enough, but I worry that thinking that way will make me complacent in maintaining my health. Because that’s my usual modus operandi. I’ve achieved weight loss goals many, many times in my life…for a short time. In the past, my success was always short-lived as I let any type of real or perceived crisis, depression or even happy events like my pregnancies disrupt my healthy path. The weight would always come back as I would just give up until the next time. The cycle always continued. I am terrified of this happening again. But I’m also exhausted of stressing about my weight. How do I balance this fear with the joy of being a continually healthy person?

My first plan of attack is to add new goals that will help maintain my weight loss. I really enjoy running 5K races so my new goal is to run a 10K race in April. I hope this new goal will inspire me to keep up my running program and add in other exercise like yoga to keep fit. I also think making reasonable goals is important. Jumping from 5K races to marathons would be foolish on my many levels, but mostly it would be setting myself up for disappointment and failure.

An important part of my continuing success is setting new, realistic goals. Losing so much weight so quickly was amazing and made me feel very powerful. The new achievements I reach for aren’t going to be quite dramatic and I need to be OK with that.

I also need to find a sense of accomplishment and success outside my weight loss journey. Just as I learned I could be and needed to think of myself as more than a mother and a wife, I need to learn that I’m more than just a person who lost 100+ pounds. I’m still working on this. I hope that writing will give me the sense of power and pride and perhaps even become a career. I’m sure I can find many other goals. It’s time for me to try, isn’t it?

It’s back to the teeter totter I go. Learning to be proud and content with my success and learning to strive for new goals is my new balancing act this year. Although I’m not going “down the scale” literally any more, I know that I have much more to accomplish in my life.

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!

Keeping It Going Over a Year Later….

16 months and 106.5 later, my gastric sleeve journey continues here at Down the Scale. To keep me motivated, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the positive habits I have made. I think it helps to remind myself of all the things that go into keeping myself healthy and happy as I continue to strive to lose weight.

For me, the most important change I made was to eat smaller portions of healthier food. My smaller stomach helps with this, but I still need to think about what I eat and how much of it I eat. I prioritize my food by protein first and then vegetables. I eat fruit as a snack or part of my breakfast occasionally. I rarely eat carbohydrates as they fill my stomach very quickly. I haven’t cut them out completely, but when I do indulge, it’s usually only one piece of bread or a small portion of rice or pasta.

Now, I must admit I still indulge in less healthy food from time to time. I still drink alcohol, but only one or two glasses. I do splurge at parties with a small piece of cake. The difference now is the amount and frequency I eat higher calorie and sugary food. It’s supposed to be a treat for a reason and now I finally “get it.”

I also have finally learned that I need to cut some foods out completely. Really, I wasn’t eating trail mix for the nuts…who does? And Chex Mix is banned from my home. I never once measured out either food like I said I would when I bought them.

There are times I do need to measure my food and track it. When my weight loss stalls I find that recording my food intake helps. Using the app My Fitness Pal is an easy way to keep an eye on my eating habits. I only have to do it for a few days to get back on track.

A year does make a difference!  On the left is last year's visit to the pumpkin patch 4 months after my surgery.  On the right is this year's photo.  I'm looking forward to comparing these to next year's photo!

A year does make a difference! On the left is last year’s visit to the pumpkin patch four months after my surgery. On the right is this year’s photo. I’m looking forward to comparing these to next year’s photo!

I also use My Fitness Pal to record my weight. I “officially” weigh-in once a week. Making my weight only count once a week keeps me from focusing solely on the numbers in my weight loss journey. While I would still like to lose seven pounds, I prefer to concentrate on maintaining my current weight loss. To do this, I have a “weight window.” It’s a five-pound range I want to stay in. This keeps me aware of my weight, but allows for those weeks where I indulge a bit. If I go above the window, I start tracking my food immediately.

If I go below the window for a month I know it’s time to adjust the window. I just changed it a month after my hernia repair and tummy tuck surgery since I lost about nine pounds. Some of that loss was from the excess skin removal and lack of eating after surgery. Now that I’m a month out and I’m maintaining a new weight, I adjusted the window to keep myself on track and motivated.

Exercising is a big key to maintaining much of my weight loss. And when I say exercise I don’t necessarily mean exercise in the sense of a dedicated activity for a set of amount of time. I do think that kind of exercise is important and I’m looking forward to running once again. And I do know that I must start weight lifting to tone my body. But I think it’s the everyday physical activity that is essential to my healthy lifestyle. Walking as much as I can is extremely important to me. I could tell how much both physically and mentally I missed walking during my surgery recovery. Now that I’m back to walking my kids to school, I am happier. Adding more activities to my week keeps me healthy physically and mentally.

16 months of concentrated weight loss has been daunting at times. I find when I get frustrated, bored or depressed, I need to go back to the basics:

*Eating better

*Tracking my food

*Getting on the scale only once a week to see if I’m in my weight window

*Adding more exercise, either structured or relaxed

And last, but not least, I remind myself how far I’ve come in my journey…106.5 pounds gone for good! Feeling healthy and happy really are the best reminders of how important taking care of myself is for me and my family. I’m thrilled to still be going Down the Scale…