Tag Archives: sleeved

Sharing the Good After Sharing the Bad…

When I post a blog entry like last week’s From Shame to Hope, I always worry about how it will be received. I seem to forget that every time I share a difficult situation I’m having in my weight loss journey, I always feel better afterward. By sharing my experience, I feel a huge sense of relief. Being honest is difficult, but so rewarding. And let’s talk about all the support and encouragement I receive from family and friends. It’s a good reminder that once you share your problems, you are not alone.

Here I am wearing my new workout clothes while hiking on a different route with a great friend! Changing up my routines is doing wonders for my gastric sleeve journey!

Here I am wearing my new workout clothes while hiking on a different route with a great friend! Changing up my routines is doing wonders for my gastric sleeve journey!

In last week’s blog, I came up with some plans to get out of my funk. What I found was that changing things up really worked! Here’s what I did:

*Acupuncture! I thought it was time to approach my health in a different way. I had a short, but pleasant experience at my sister’s wedding last spring. I kept thinking I should try it and one of my biggest supporters, N., has told me for months about her acupuncturist.  I finally went to her last week and what a great session! The doctor was informative and calming. No, the needles didn’t bother me at all. The hardest part was relaxing for 25 minutes! I am going back this week. I think coming at my stress and weight gain from a different angle will help me immensely.

*New Workout Clothes! Once I committed to running about three years ago, I made sure to buy nice workout clothes. I figured if I wanted to be a runner I should dress the part. Once again my friend, N., helped me this week by taking me to Lululemon for the first time. I’m not sure I would have gone on my own as a store that sells nothing larger than a size 10 still intimidates me. N., my personal fashion consultant found (on sale!) a new pair of running Capri pants and my first running skirt. She assured me that I’m not too old for ruffles on my booty, so I bought the skirt with my Tinker Bell Half Marathon in mind.

*Apple Watch! Yes, this was a huge splurge. It’s an early anniversary present from my amazing hubby. Trust me, its way more romantic of a gift than flowers! I ran with a Garmin watch before, but recently started looking into a FitBit as I wanted to track my overall health. Fortunately, I have an extremely tech-savvy husband who did the research for me. He concluded that an Apple Watch was the best investment. Who I am to argue? I love seeing my walking and running stats. I love that it reminds me to stand up and move around every hour. I also like that it connects to MyFitnessPal so I can easily track my exercise along with my food intake.

OK, by now you’re thinking, “Jen, you’re spending a lot of money to get out of that funk!’ Trust me, the spending, or the monetary investing of my health, is done. And while all these purchases have helped, I also made “free” changes this week like:

*Food journaling! Yes, I hate it, but it really does help. I’ve decided to track my food on Monday through Thursday to start. If my weight loss continues, I think this will be a less stressful tool. MyFitnessPal does make it easier to track my diet and helps me be aware of my mindless snacking.

*Changing up my exercise routine! Each week I make plans to meet up with one or two friends to exercise with. Sometimes it’s running, some times it’s walking. I will learn how to run and talk at the same time! I’m also changing up my program by extending my exercise time, adding stairs, and changing my routes to keep inspired and challenged.

*Positive Mindset! This is the most important change I’ve made this week. Some days you just have to scream at yourself (OK, in your head, not aloud) and say “You’ve got it pretty damn good!” To have a loving family, supportive friends, and a healthy body and mind shouldn’t be taken for granted. Sometimes you just need to step back and look at yourself from the outside.

I’m happy to share that all these changes helped me lose three pounds this week! I am thrilled with the weight loss and the positive changes I made this week. Yes, I’m out of my funk and heading back Down the Scale…

Running Down the Scale

Here I am in 2012, 2013 and 2014 at the races! I love see how happy I am every year after the race.  And I'm happier that I look and feel healthier every year!

Here I am in 2012, 2013 and 2014 at the races!
I love seeing how happy I am every year after the race. And I’m happier that I look and feel healthier every year!

Last Thursday I ran my third Thanksgiving Day race. While my speed improves each year, I am most proud of my increased confidence in setting and reaching goals. Running is more than just exercise; it keeps me focused and motivated to keep living a healthy life. While I knew running would help in my gastric sleeve journey, I didn’t expect the many positive results it would bring.

My last two races were 5K races on city streets. My friend, N., and I decided to switch to another race in our neighborhood. It seemed like a great idea until I received the first email from the organizers. That’s when I noticed that it was a five-mile race not a 5K (3.1 mile) race. In the words of Scooby Doo, “ruh roh!” Not only was this race an extra two miles, but the course wasn’t on roads, but mostly through grass fields and woods. N. and I decided to do it anyway. What could go wrong?

My head told me there were many things that could go wrong! The race was only nine weeks after my abdominal hernia and tummy tuck surgeries. My incision was healing slowly and my abdominal muscles were sore and strained from time to time. I only started running four weeks before the race so I didn’t have much training or miles under my belt. I had every reason to back out of the race or at the very least change it back to the 5K race. Believe me, I thought about it often in those weeks preceding Thanksgiving. What kept me committed to the new race was one thought: all I have to do is finish. That simple phrase kept me training and made me show up on Thanksgiving morning with my turkey headband and running shoes on.

Here I am getting ready for the Thanksgiving 5-Mile Race!  I love that running on Thanksgiving has become a tradition.

Here I am getting ready for the Thanksgiving 5-Mile Race! I love that running on Thanksgiving has become a tradition.

All I really needed to do was finish the race to feel successful. I’m not a competitive runner…with anyone but myself. I only need to be competitive with myself. I ran two earlier races with hindering factors and I finished. If I could do the first race 100+ pounds heavier and finish I could do this new one. And last year, I ran four and a half minutes faster than the previous year with my abdominal hernia still intact and I finished. I could do this even if it meant I was the last person over the finish line.

But I wasn’t the last over the finish line! I finished with my best running pace ever. But more importantly I loved the race. There is an amazing energy on the starting line of a race, especially one with people dressed as turkeys and pilgrims! I lined up with the other runners and followed the lead runner dressed as a turkey though the course.

I managed to actually run the first two miles which surprised me. I am more of a walker/runner but the excitement kept me running. Throughout the race I ran when I could and walked when I needed. I finally realized there is no shame in walking. Many people were doing the same. Again, I kept in mind that I just needed to finish.

When I came to the three-mile mark, I had to make a choice. There was in fact a three-mile walk I could do or keep going to the five-mile finish. I came up on the literal fork in the road and chose the five-mile. I really wanted to finish five miles I decided. At that moment I realized I could do it!

I made it to the five-mile finish line with a smile on my face! Nothing feels better than accomplishing a goal that you set. Even though I had doubts up until race day and even in the beginning of the race, I kept going. Running is the perfect metaphor for my weight loss journey: do your best at your own pace and you can work through your doubts and fears. I never thought something as simple as running would give me such hope, joy, and confidence.

Another Thanksgiving Day run is done and the turkey headband is back in storage. My running shoes are not. I am already signed up for another run! This one is a 5K with my son in January. Am I worried about keeping up with my naturally athletic son? Yes, I am, but you know what I say to that…all I need to do is finish. Wish me luck as I keep running Down the Scale…

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…

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…

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.

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!

My First Year Anniversary of My Gastric Sleeve Surgery!

Yes, a year makes a difference!  96.5 pounds are gone!

Yes, a year makes a difference! 96.5 pounds are gone!

96.5 pounds are gone! This is one of the ways I am marking my first anniversary of my gastric sleeve surgery. Yes, I am thrilled and amazed by the numbers, but that’s not the only success I feel from my surgery. Losing this much weight changed my life in more ways than I could have imagined:

  • I now enjoy walking and participating in outdoor activities! Walking instead of driving to pick up my kids from school and running errands is easy now. Hiking and exploring our great city and surrounding natural attractions are now some of our favorite family activities. For a girl who was always searching for the gift shop and snack bar when doing outdoor activities, this is a huge change!
  • I still enjoy food! I thought going to the Farmers’ Market and eating at restaurants would be a thing of the past, but it is now part of my life in a positive way. I look for better quality food and I eat in smaller amounts. Dinning at restaurants can be challenging, but I can always find a healthy option on most menus.
  • Yes, I will admit that I feel like I am more attractive. And some of this does come from outside validation. Having friends and family comment on my looks does make me feel better about my “outside.” But more importantly, I am more confidant on my outward appearance which makes me seem more confidant. A confidant woman is an attractive woman.
  • Mentally I am in a better place than I could have imagined. Once the crutch of eating my feelings was taken away, it was necessary for me to face my feelings. It’s still not easy and I will always have to work on my mental health. And you know what? That’s OK.

The best measure of success hasn’t been the scale. Sure the numbers are important, but it’s not the end all be all of my weight loss journey success. I finally realized that taking care of myself is not only important, but essential. It doesn’t make me a bad mother or bad wife or bad friend or bad person when I put my physical and mental health first. Such a simple lesson, but it is one I needed to learn.

I look forward to continuing to share my journey…the good and the bad! A huge thanks to everyone who supported me in my first year of my weight loss journey. Here’s to another year of going Down the Scale…