Tag Archives: Stay-at-Home Mom

Middle Age: Embrace It


As my 49th birthday looms, I am proud to say I embrace each birthday! My weight loss journey has shown me who I can be and being a happy “middle-aged” woman is who I am! I’m thankful to be a mom, wife, runner, and writer as I continue my Down the Scale life!

“So, is it a big birthday?”

“They’re all big birthdays now.”

That was my response to someone asking about my upcoming birthday.  I said it with a laugh because even though for the past ten years I’ve joked that all my birthdays are big, I embrace each one.  Yes, even the big 49 this year. The last year of my 40s. The last birthday before the big 5-0. When you’ve spent most of your adult life as an obese, unhealthy person, you don’t take for granted the birthdays that come along, no matter what the number.

As kids, I think most of us thought that our 40s were when we would be really old. We would be ancient.  My 40s came and I didn’t think that at all! Even before my weight loss surgery when I was 44, I still felt young.  It could have been the my children I was running after or the frequent trips to Disney World, but I didn’t feel old. At least my mind didn’t feel that way, but my body did.  It was hard to keep up with my family and friends when I was 100 pounds heavier.

My world opened up after I lost weight, both physically and mentally.  I’m a runner now. I love walking instead of just sitting around. With each birthday, I become stronger physically.  I tried ice skating again after a 20 year gap. At age 47 I ran my first half-marathon! And at age 49 I’m training for my second.  These actions were never part of my plans for when I grew old.

The physical changes as I age are amazing, but I think it’s my outlook on life that surprises me the most.  I remember being so scared when I graduated from college. I had no clue what I was going to do with my life besides move across the country to San Francisco.  I look back now and see how brave I was, but I felt insecure and unsure of myself for most of my 20s.

I was starting to get braver in my 30s after marriage and eventually children.  When you become a parent, you have no choice but to buckle up and get things done.  For some of us, that strength comes at a price. I put my mental and physically health on the back burner just trying to get through the day, then the week, then the years.  

My 40s were my renewal. My mid-forties were my rebirth.   A cross-country move and the resulting personal issues took their toll.  I was almost 300 pounds at age 43. It took an honest friend and my ever-supportive husband to help me realize I needed to change and more importantly, that I could change.  As a middle-aged woman, I began my weight loss journey which turned out to be a journey about physical and mental health to my surprise.

So here I am looking forward to 49!  I feel like I’m coming into my own person again.  It could be that I have more time now that my children are getting older.  Seeing them grow into independent people is exciting although they still seem to need me to find where they put their clean socks. With their increasing independence, it’s giving my husband and I more time together. While mom will always be an important role, I’m relearning that there are other parts of who I am that can share the space.

This includes spending more time with my hubby that doesn’t alway involve the children or are child-centric activities.  As our children grow and spend more time with their friends, we can spend time with our friends or by ourselves. I think we’ve gone out more in our late 40s than we did in our early 30s.  We joke with the kids that we’re they’re in college, we’re downsizing to a tiny house and they’ll have to camp in the yard when they visit. We all laugh about it, but it’s really only 8 years away…and we’ll be a very young 57 when that happens!

And I’m using my new independence to define “what I do for a living.”  My 20s became the start of a fun and interesting career in the retail industry.  I went from being an administrative assistant to a buyer to a project manager running an e-commerce website until I “retired” when I had my babies and became a stay-at-home mom.  My late 40s have been me trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. It wasn’t until last year that I finally started calling myself a writer. I’ve been writing this blog for almost five years now, but I was still insecure about calling myself a writer.  And when I started working on my novel, I still didn’t say I was a writer. It took my ever-supportive husband drilling it into my head that if I didn’t believe I was a writer, no one else would. So here I am, calling myself a writer.

And this writer is telling you that getting old is not as scary as you might think.  Sure I have more wrinkles and more and more gray hairs seem to sprout up, but I will gladly take them.  Every decade is full of challenges and struggles, but now I can see that each problem, each disappointment, got me to where I am today.  I don’t believe in regret; not worth the time or effort in my humble opinion. There will always be some difficulty in life, but how I deal with it and move on from it makes all the difference.  

So this almost 49-year-old mom, wife, friend, family member, runner, and writer is proud of her age.  As trite as it sounds, growing old is a gift, especially if you do it as a healthy person. I am proud of what I’ve accomplished over the years, but more importantly I look forward to the upcoming decades as I continue my journey Down the Scale…


The End of Summer and New Fall Goals…

I did it!  I signed up for my first half marathon!  I hope Disneyland and Tinker Bell will be ready for me next year!

I did it! I signed up for my first half marathon! I hope Disneyland and Tinker Bell will be ready for me next year!

Summer is ending and I, for one, am relieved. This summer has been more difficult on many levels than past ones. My usually adorable children have fought about everything and anything. My ever supportive husband works from home two days a week so in the summer he gets to experience the kids’ fights along with my nonexistent patience all day long. My long list of summer goals including decluttering the house, writing my Down the Scale book and losing more weight are still glaring at me from my to-do list. Sigh…

Now, I’m not saying the summer was completely bad. We managed to have some wonderful family time on vacation. We’re all still in one piece, but I think we’re all looking forward to heading back to a routine that includes time away from each other. I think the school year provides structure, time with our friends and an appreciation for the time we do have with each other.

For me, it is a time to refocus on my personal goals. I still haven’t been on the scale, but I know the weight that creeped up on me in the Spring is still there along with another pound or two. My clothes still fit, but not like they have in the past. I know what caused this: random snacking. Whether the kids and I were home or out and about, it was easy to grab a snack without thinking about it. Mindless eating has always been my downfall. Although I do have a smaller stomach from my gastric sleeve surgery, once my stomach empties out, I have room for more food. I really hate keeping a food journal, but I must admit, it might be time to start one again.

Managing my stress is always one of my personal goals and this Fall it will be no different. My children will have completely different schedules so life will be changing again. I know it always works out, but until we come up with a working schedule, I worry. Since I’m a stay-at-home mom, I feel extra pressure to make their lives and our entire family’s schedule seamless. If this is my only job, I should do it really well, right? But then I remind myself that no one is perfect at any job, right? Right?

To help me manage my stress, I realized I need to increase my physical activity. As a former sedentary woman, it still seems strange to tell myself to go for a run to feel better. But it works every single time. Even if it’s more of a walk than a run, I never regret going out to exercise.

So to help me refocus on my exercising goals, I signed up for my first half-marathon. Umm, isn’t that adding more stress by setting up a huge goal like running 13.1 miles?! Well, in theory it should be, but I’ve decided that it is a positive goal for me in many, many ways. How so? Let me share:

*I’m a goal oriented person, so having a goal like this helps me focus on what is important to achieve success. And by success, I mean my own version of success. Just finishing the marathon is success to me. My finish time is not important; finishing is important.

*I’m the kind of woman who likes to have something to look forward to. Knowing that I will have a girls weekend in May at Disneyland will get me through the days when I’m overwhelmed. Thinking about that upcoming break from reality will get me through the stressful days.

*This goal is all about me! This isn’t about my role as a mother or wife or friend or family member. I can’t control everything about myself in these roles. I admit I’m not particularly good in these roles from time to time, but thankfully I have understanding people in my life. I can control, though, how I handle this goal. It’s up to me to train properly, eat right and pick out the perfect race day outfit.

Time to say goodbye to Summer and put my disappointment and unfulfilled goals aside. I have new goals to work on so there is no time for regret. My Fall goals will still include decluttering the house, working on my book and losing weight, but now I’ve added running a half-marathon to the list. I know that adding this running goal will help me with my other aspirations. Running helps me lose weight, but more importantly it clears my mind and lessens my stress. I look forward to running toward my half-marathon goal and running Down the Scale…

Time to Celebrate

Week 11 of my Down the Scale journey is here and I’ve decided it’s time to celebrate the positive aspects of my weight loss!

My running shoes and Garmin watch are out of temporary retirement!  Looking forward to doing my 2nd 5K (with a better time!) this year!

My running shoes and Garmin watch are out of temporary retirement! Looking forward to doing my 2nd 5K (with a better time!) this year!

First, I’ve lost 45.5 pounds! Losing 5.5 pounds this week was a surprise, especially since  I had a few days where I ate more than normal. No matter what I eat, even if it’s more than usual, I track it in MyFitnessPal. It is keeping me accountable for my food intake and does make me think about my choices. It seems a bit silly, but seeing what I eat in black and white really does help me make better decisions and think about why I’m eating.

That leads me into another celebration, my awareness of why I’m eating. Yes, I do eat when I’m hungry, but I also want to eat to relieve stress and anxiety. No, I haven’t lost my stress, but I am becoming more conscious of my feelings and trying to deal with them instead of eating them away. I can’t say I have a good handle on this, but I feel like I am more honest with myself. This will be a constant struggle, but I feel more hopeful than I have in the past.

Running is back in my life which is a huge reason to celebrate! I started  running last year and even did a 5K race. Tuesday I started day one of the Couch to 5K program and felt great! The energy and stress relief running gives me is priceless. I am also walking my kids to school and back each day which is a half a mile each way. Every bit of exercise I can fit in makes me feel great!

And the last “big” celebration of the week is the return of school! I love having my kids home, but as a stay at home mom, a little break is good for all of us! My baby boy is a 4th grader and my baby girl is a kindergartener! It is a year of new changes, new schedules and new rewards for all of us!

I am thankful that I have so many things to celebrate this week. I need to keep all these things in mind during the difficult moments and weeks. I am still struggling with food-centric activities like grocery shopping, eating out and parties. My guess is that I will always have to reign in my food activities and my stress related eating. I just hope that I can remember all the positive aspects of my lifestyle change and keep on celebrating my success, a pound at a time…

Back in the Food World

Getting ready to go out for my first party, post-sleeve!

Getting ready to go out for my first party, post-sleeve!

Week 7 is here and I feel pretty good! Another three and a half pounds down this week for a total of 32.5 pounds. While I’m proud of my weight loss, I am even more proud of my entry back into the “food world.”

Food has always been an important part of my life, but moving back to California made food even more important. San Francisco is a “foodie” town and we have tons of great and interesting restaurants. I think our grocery stores here have a better variety of food. And of course, there are the farmers markets which are the best I’ve seen.

Having these resources wasn’t particular good for my health when we first moved. For the first year and a half, we ate out and picked up take out food more than we should have. Having a cheap and tasty take out dim sum restaurant close to the house made weekend lunches very easy. Coffee shops are on almost every corner so it’s easy to pick up a sugary espresso drink at any time. Way too many options!

Since I can’t make these places go away, I am learning to live with them and still have them as part of my life. I don’t foresee the dim sum restaurant in my near future and perhaps not at all. I haven’t had any fried foods since my gastric sleeve surgery and I’m not sure when or even if I will have it. I am trying to be very careful with my new stomach. And my fear of vomiting keeps me in line, too.

I did venture back to the farmers’ market this past weekend for the first time. It was great! Surrounded by beautiful, healthy fruits and vegetables was inspiring. My focus is on eating enough protein, but I am adding in more vegetables now. My big treat of the day was picking up my favorite Serrano chile goat cheese. Instead of eating it with wild abandonment, I measured out a teaspoon to spread on my half a turkey burger the other night. Suddenly, a teaspoon is enough to get the flavor I enjoy. This weekend, I finally realized that smaller amounts of food are just as satisfying and enjoyable as the large amounts I ate before. For this overeater, this revelation is a bit overwhelming.

My biggest food test was at a party this week. Let me just say this right off the bat, I love wine. I love parties so that I can try new wines and relax and be an adult and not the mommy. Yes, I can drink wine with my new stomach, but I must admit I’m nervous to try. My overprotective nature with my stomach is one reason, but also I have a feeling I’m going to be a really cheap date. Meaning, the two to three glasses I could drink before, I assume will put me in a coma. So, the first time I drink I plan to do it at home. If I don’t feel good, I’d rather be in my home and if a half a glass makes me silly, again, I’d rather be home.

So, no wine at my first party post-sleeve and I was fine. I drank water all night and while it isn’t as yummy as a crisp class of chardonnay, I survived. I was too busy chatting to really care! I also didn’t eat. I made sure to have a protein filled dinner before we came to the party. I did bring vegetables and humus to the party, but I didn’t eat anything. I could have if I wanted to and I think that made all the difference. Knowing I can eat if I want is empowering and I realize I am in charge of my actions in regards to food.

We did leave before they served the birthday cake, so I did get off a little easy. Again, this is something I can eat, but I haven’t had sugar for 7 weeks, so again, this is something I want to try at home. The thought of me bouncing around like a child eating sugar for the first time is mortifying and not something that I need to do in front of family and friends. And I must admit, the sugar-free items I’m eating now (syrups in my lattes and hot chocolate) satisfy my sweet tooth and I would prefer to keep it that way. Eventually I would like to drop them and use natural sweeteners, but I’m happy where I am for now.

Other food challenges await, such as barbeques, eating out with friends, and the holidays, but I am learning to take each challenge one at a time. Food is not the enemy; my eating habits were the enemy. I finally feel like I am taking charge of my eating habits and this tastes better than anything in the world…

This is the New Normal

My new Starbucks treat, Skinny Hazelnut Latte, and my journal with one of my favorite sayings!

My new Starbucks treat, Skinny Hazelnut Latte, and my journal with one of my favorite sayings!

I woke up this morning full of dread and excitement. Week six is here which meant time to weigh myself. My gastric sleeve surgeon recommended only weighing in once a week, but I must admit I’ve cheated and checking every few days. I jumped on the scale on Saturday and I was only down about a half a pound. Needless to say, I wasn’t a happy camper.

This morning I was a happy camper though! For the week, I’m down three and a half pounds! This makes a total of 29 pounds for six weeks! Yes, I’m finally happy and not feeling blah about it. I realize more stalls are going to be part of my journey, but I’m learning to enjoy the victories, however large or small.

My biggest victory of the week is that I’m learning to live with my new lifestyle. No, I’m not perky or feeling successful all the time, but I’m coming to terms with the new normal. This means eating healthy food in small quantities. My favorite meal is three slices of Trader Joe’s Oven Roasted Turkey lunch meat with a Roma tomato. Not very exciting to most people, but after eating pureed foods, it’s heaven and healthy.

Another part of the new normal is learning when I’m full and listening to my body. As a lifelong over-eater, this is still is a strange feeling for me six weeks after surgery. And when I’m full, I am full. Eating too much is extremely uncomfortable and even with the magic pink Gas-X pills, it doesn’t automatically go away. I am getting better at this each day.

One of the biggest challenges I have dreaded is eating out. No, I haven’t been cooped up in my house this past six weeks, but I have brought food each time we’ve gone out during mealtimes. Of course, that’s the best thing to do since it gives me control over what I’m eating. This past Friday, I decided to throw caution to the wind and not bring lunch when I took the kids on a day trip. We went to California Pizza Kitchen for lunch and I did great, if I may say so myself.

Yes, the kids had pizza and I was OK sitting across for them with as they ate. I ordered the Chicken Lettuce Wrap Appetizer. Yes, I wanted pizza, pasta or anything with gooey cheese and meat, but I knew it wouldn’t be worth it. I ate one lettuce wrap and was full and satisfied. I was surprised to be full from one, but I was proud of myself for not eating more!

I took my time eating and engaged with my children more than I used to when we ate out. Being a mom, I tend to spend more time getting my children settled with their meal and then wolfing down my food. This time I ate my meal slowly and could truly enjoy it and my kids. Another big change was not finishing the food on my kids’ plate. Really, pizza crusts aren’t that good so why was I eating them before? Another bad habit I’m breaking!

Another food habit I’ve changed is my coffee intake. I drank one to two cups a day at home and went to Starbucks or Peet’s three to four times a week for a sugary espresso drink. I don’t drink coffee at home now and I go out for espresso once or twice a week for a sugar-free drink. No caffeine headaches and I feel like I have a treat when I get my coffee when we’re out. This new normal is amazing.

Challenging, frustrating, exciting are just a few of the words to describe my weight loss journey so far. Having had some tough times, I know I can get through the future ones. My post-sleeve life is settling in and becoming a bit normal. And normal is all I’ve ever wanted to be in terms of my weight. Here’s to being normal in all the right places…

It’s a Gas, Gas, Gas..

I am sleeved. This past Tuesday, the weight loss journey truly began with gastric sleeve surgery. It’s wasn’t fun and it wasn’t pretty, but it is done. No turning back now.

Tuesday I felt positive on my decision. Pre-op was smooth. The nurse was able to get the IV in my hand without too much trouble which is a miracle. I have tricky veins and nurses always struggle with me. After an hour, we went to the surgery waiting room to meet with my sleeve gang. The professional and warm nurse soothed me right away. My Doogie Howser anesthesiologist was reassuring even with his baby smooth face. The physician assistant from my surgeon office was her usual friendly, confidant self and my attractive and experienced surgeon all reminded me that the surgery would go well.

 I kissed my ever supportive and very handsome husband goodbye and walked into the operating room. Or should I say alien ship? Stark white walls and blinking machines were not calming nor comforting. Doogie Howser’s gently whispering of “It’s going to go well” and my warm nurse gently rubbing my arm steadily did calm me down and suddenly I was asleep.

My two-hour nap was brutally awakened by the aliens of the mothership. After a minute I realized I wasn’t in a large experiment room on an alien vessel. Contrary to my first thought, aliens had not pumped my body full of so much air that I was going to explode. I was in the recovery room of my hospital and I hurt like hell. 

I pride myself on being a tough cookie when it comes to pain, but at this time I was not that tough cookie. I wasn’t even a cookie crumb of strength. Meet Jen, the moaning, whiney hot mess. The head nurse finally brought over medicine and I calmed down and mellowed a bit before I planned my escape from the alien ship.

Somehow I made it to my room and I recall my still handsome but now annoyingly perky doctor telling me about the hiatal hernia that he fixed and that I have an abdominal hernia that needs repairing in the future. He smiled and said everything went great. My hubby was comforting and not too perky when he arrived. Later, my friend who has been to my recovery of two of the four surgeries I’ve had, arrived with some trashy magazines and support.

I can’t say if I talked much to my hubby and friend that afternoon. The day passed in a nauseous haze. Finally, when I kept complaining about my nausea, one of the nurses checked my morphine pump. Turns out I enjoyed pushing my pain clicker a bit too much. I switched from food comfort to morphine comfort that quickly. A new painkiller was introduced and it made a world of difference, but not enough to go home that day. I stayed another night to keep my fluids up and to heal.

In theory, another day at the stay-at-home mom spa seemed fun. The never-ending gas and constant vital checks ruined the relaxation vibe. No one came to do a mani/pedi or rub my feet. And then my pity party began. “What the hell have I done?”, “How pathetic am I that I must have surgery to be normal?” and the more concise “F— me!” statements filled my head all day and night.

Two days after surgery, I took a welcome but nauseating ride home with these self doubting statements. Encouraged by my friends, and resting at home with my own Dr. Hubby and sweet and loving children have helped my outlook tremendously. There is guilt on my part that I am putting my family through this uncomfortable and awkward time. Even through all the pain, nausea and doubt, I still believe in my decision. A month of drastic physical and emotional changes will be worth it. I had gastric sleeve surgery to become a better me and to truly live my live the way I want to live it. Determination, humor, pain and change will get me Down the Scale to where I need and want to be.

Here I go…

Here I am ready to go back out until the world with my water bottle in hand!  Where did I go first?  Target, of course!

Here I am ready to go back out into  the world with my water bottle in hand! Where did I go first? Target, of course!