Tag Archives: Vacation

Keeping the Vacation Alive…

With my hat and shorts, I was ready to start Summer Vacation 2016! Being comfortable in my own skin is one of the best rewards of my weight loss journey!

With my hat and shorts, I was ready to start Summer Vacation 2016! Being comfortable in my own skin is one of the best rewards of my weight loss journey!

Another summer is winding down and it will soon be time to get back to the “real world.” You know, the world that includes a schedule, rules, and hard work for children and their parents. There is something to be said for a bit more structure in life, but I must admit I’ve really enjoyed the relaxed months of summer. Besides my children fighting with each other, this summer was full of days of “let’s see where the day takes us.” Our 12 day vacation to the East Coast was full of those kind of days. I also realized that for me it was full of really active days, which before my gastric sleeve surgery, wouldn’t have happened.

I decided to really enjoy this summer and not pressure myself about losing weight or exercising. Without this pressure, I realized I didn’t go too crazy with my bad eating habits and I kept active naturally. This is what happened on vacation:

*Food was enjoyable, but not the end all, be all of the vacation. Now, I’m not saying I didn’t look forward to every meal in New Orleans. It is an amazing place for food! I’ve learned to savor special foods and meals, but that doesn’t mean overindulging. One beignet gives me the same satisfaction as three beignets would in the past. Certain foods and drinks like pralines and Pimm’s Cups I only eat or drink when I’m in New Orleans so I know that it’s a treat. My weight loss journey has taught me to enjoy the treats because they’re special and not everyday food.

Here I am overlooking Jackson Square on my 7AM run in New Orleans. It was well worth the heat and humidity to run through this beautiful city. And the beignet at the end didn't hurt.

Here I am overlooking Jackson Square on my 7AM run in New Orleans. It was well worth the 80 degree heat and humidity to run through this beautiful city. And the beignet at the end didn’t hurt, either.

*I realized “formal” exercise on vacation can be fun. OK, full disclosure here…I only ran once on my trip. The only vacation I’ve run on was in May for the Tinker Bell Half-Marathon, so this was a big step! 7AM on a hot and humid morning, I was out there running through the French Quarter. It will go down as one of my favorite runs. Not that I ran fast or for very long, but on this run I really felt like a runner. What I mean is that I didn’t run for any particular goal, I ran because it felt good. I didn’t run with any music as I normally do; I took in the sights, sounds and some unfortunate smells from Bourbon Street. This run was also for research for the novel I’m working on, but I would do this run over and over just for the joy it gave me. And yes, I did end the run at Cafe Du Monde. I earned that beignet that morning!

*Nothing reminded me more of the success of my weight loss than being active. Now, I’m not talking about formal exercise, but just the fun activities you do on vacation. Walking around New Orleans in 90+ degree weather isn’t as draining as it was when I was obese. On one day, between running and touring the French Quarter, I went 8.5 miles that day. I would have been miserable if I had even tried that before my surgery; actually I wouldn’t have tried to cover that much ground. I try not to think about the activities and places I missed in the past when I wasn’t interested in being active. I am thankful I have the body and mindset to appreciate the places I get to go now as a healthy person.

*Letting go of my body issues means more fun, especially on vacation. I shared a few years back about how I’ve learned to wear bathing suits and sleeveless shirts without care, and this vacation I took this to heart. Yes, my thighs are wrinkly and flabby, but who cares? My arms aren’t full of muscles, but sleeveless shirts are comfy and look good! Now that I have a properly fitted swimsuit, I am out in the pool and beach with everyone else. Really, when you feel confident you look good, not matter what size you are. So there I was at the pool and the beach enjoying my time with my family, not thinking about how I looked. When the waves at the Atlantic Ocean knocked me over, I just pulled up my suit, brushed my hair off my face and went back to laughing with the people I love spending time with the most. Thank goodness I learned to appreciate my body for what it can do!

A visit to Florida isn't complete without a trip to the beach! Neither getting into a bathing suit or the big waves kept me from having fun in the surf with my family!

A visit to Florida isn’t complete without a trip to the beach! Neither getting into a bathing suit or the big waves kept me from having fun in the surf with my family!

There was one day in particular that summed up my new life as a healthy person. My fun-loving sister brought 300 water balloons for us to play with at my parents’ home. Yes, three adults and four children were going to have an epic water balloon battle. I shared with my sister that I wouldn’t have wanted to take part in something like this before my weight loss. When you’re obese, the thought of being in a bathing suit and running around is terrifying. I know three years ago, I would have watched from the sidelines, smiling at everyone else, but feeling sad that I wasn’t part of it.

As I ran around the yard, dodging water balloons and chasing everyone, I couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear. Well, first, I’ll admit it was really, really fun to throw water balloons at my children. While it will never make up for the years of watching Power Ranger at 5AM during their toddler years, it was satisfying to run after them during the battle. And I know they loved chasing their mom around knowing there would be no repercussions for dousing their mother with water!

If you want to feel like a kid again, start a water balloon fight! Running around after losing weight is so much fun!

If you want to feel like a kid again, start a water balloon fight! Getting to chase your kids with water balloons is the best therapy ever!   Running around after losing weight is so much fun!.

The battle was short, but oh, so, very sweet. I can’t think of a better example of how far I’ve come in my weight loss journey. I didn’t think about how I would look in photos, wearing a bathing suit and running around like a crazy person. I got out there and took part of a fun and special moment on our vacation. I didn’t let the fun happen around me…I was part of the fun! Being present and contributing to a happy moment in my family’s life was life affirming, as dramatic as that may sound.

Now that summer is ending, I hope I can keep these positive attitudes and actions as part of my scheduled life. When I want to eat another protein bar, I want to remember that sweetness and fullness that one beignet gave me. When I want to skip a run, I want to remember the joy and sense of accomplishment of running through the hot and humid French Quarter. When my kids ask me to play with them, I want to remember the silliness and fun of our water balloon fight. I can’t spend my entire life on vacation, but I know I can keep the spirit of it alive as I continue to go Down the Scale…

Food, Glorious Food…Really!

My babies and I waiting to explore the city.  Walking helps to work off the fantastic cuisine of New Orleans!

My babies and I waiting to explore the city. Walking helps to work off the fantastic cuisine of New Orléans!

Welcome back to Down the Scale! I neglected my blogging duties for the past month, but my weight loss journey still continues! I must say this has been one of my favorite summers. My family and I enjoyed fun activities around town and across the country. Swimming, sight-seeing, relaxing and eating were some of the great activities we indulged in this summer. Yes, I did say eating! I didn’t think enjoying food would be part of my life when I had gastric sleeve surgery over a year ago. I was wrong and a trip to New Orléans showed me how eating out can be a positive part of my life.

After San Francisco, New Orléans is my favorite city. It is full of history, architecture, charm and amazing cuisine. Even though I don’t like shellfish, I love the other types of food New Orléans is known for like beignets, gumbo, jambalaya, pralines and of course a variety of alcoholic beverages. In my past visits, I never worried about what or how much food I consumed. This trip, I knew I couldn’t eat with wild abandon. First, my small stomach prohibits me from eating too much. Second, I didn’t want to gain too much weight. I say “too much” because I knew I would gain weight as I would be eating food higher in fat and sugar than I normally do now. And yes, I’m up a pound and a half since vacation, but I anticipated that and I’m back to eating normally.

So I was excited to visit New Orléans, but I wondered if I would enjoy the food like I did in the past. My first test was breakfast. Cafe Beignet was close to our hotel and I went by myself to pick those hot, fluffy, doughy, sugary pillows of goodness called beignets. I stood in line behind other tourists (do locals eat them, I wonder?), anticipating the first bite, but also wondering would I still enjoy them. With my small stomach, would I even be able to eat much of it? Would the sugar and fat make me feel sick?

Simply put, the answer was no. I took my first bite of beignet and smiled. It tasted just as I remembered. No, it tasted better. Now that I eat healthier, which not only means better food, but eating slower, I truly enjoyed that beignet. I didn’t rush to eat it so I could get to the next one. I savored each bite of the beignet I ate. And yes, I only ate one of these delightful treats. I was full after eating one physically, but also mentally. I finally feel like I’ve learned that eating smaller amounts of food is just as satisfying as stuffing myself. My new body shape and the feeling of health I now have confirm that.

Yes, my guilty pleasure!  Cafe au lait and beignets!  I am so happy I was able to enjoy a bit of these New Orleans treats!

Yes, my guilty pleasure! Cafe au lait and beignets! I am so happy I was able to enjoy a bit of these New Orléans treats!

The rest of our vacation in New Orléans went this way. I enjoyed all my favorites, just in small amounts. Rice fills me up quickly, so I could only eat a bit of jambalaya, but it was worth it. I will admit to missing Muffulettas.   The bread is just too much for me, so a bite of my husband’s sandwich was all I could enjoy. He was kind enough to share it with me and I was kind enough to share my food with him and the rest of my family. I generally share all my dishes when we go out to eat, and even at home. I just can’t eat all the food restaurants serve.

Besides food, New Orléans is known for alcohol. I still drink since my surgery, but I am now a lightweight. One drink, maybe two is my limit. Yes, I’m a cheap date. I can’t eat and drink at the same time (liquids can push the food down too fast and it really doesn’t feel good either), so the New Orléans tradition of “to go cups.” was wonderful. I could order a drink and take it with me as we walked off our fantastic meals.

Our vacation to New Orléans will go down as my favorite. I really love the city and this time we also enjoyed the company of some of our East Coast family. We enjoyed all the typical vacation activities and it definitely included food. I am thrilled that I can still enjoy food, but with a more positive attitude. Eating is definitely different for me now and I am proud of how I handle eating out now. I look forward to more vacations and now I know they can still include eating out and I can still go Down the Scale…

The Week I Gained a Pound and So Much More….

Comparing photos really helps me see my weight loss!  I love that my babies are growing, but my hubby and I are shrinking!

Comparing photos really helps me see my weight loss! I love that my babies are growing, but my hubby and I are shrinking!

Here it is Week 37 at Down the Scale and my total weight loss is 88.5 pounds! It hasn’t been easy these last three weeks to get there. During Week 35 I gained a pound. It took a few weeks to take it off and then lose another pound to get to my current total. It was a good reminder that my gastric sleeve journey is not only full of emotional ups and downs, but physical ones as well. The scale gives me important information, but isn’t the complete picture of my health.

The week I gained a pound, I also gained perspective on how much my weight loss journey has changed more than my body. My spirit and mind gained peace, silliness and love and that makes gaining a physical pound worthwhile.

I gained the weight on our four-day trip to Disneyland. My family and friends already know that my husband and I are true Disney fans. Perhaps über Disney geeks would be a better description. Dave and I bonded over our love of Disney World and even spent our honeymoon there. Our children’s infant and toddler years we spent at Disney World at least once a month when we lived in Florida. Now that we’ve been back in California for almost three years, we decided to take some time off from the “real” world and go on a family trip to Disneyland.

As excited as I was to finally take my babies to Disneyland, I was nervous about the food and rides. Amusement parks are full of fattening, sugary treats seemingly positioned every few feet. Before we left, I decided I would treat myself to a Dole Whip as it is my favorite Disney treat. And would you believe they were refurbishing the machines?! That was my one disappointment the whole trip and in the scheme of vacations, that’s really not bad.

So did I indulge? Yes, yes I did. The difference in my eating habits this trip as opposed to the past was that I shared all snacks. I didn’t get a churro for myself, but took a bite from one of my kid’s. I shared a carton of popcorn with the whole family instead of scarfing one down by myself. I must admit I did look longingly at the Mickey Mouse ice cream treats. I am still worried that if I start eating large amounts of ice cream, I will start eating them on a regular basis, so I decided to pass on this food.

For meals, I ordered soup or shared entrees with my husband and kids. Having children, who during growth spurts, can eat like Olympic athletes, makes sharing meals easier and cheaper. We also brought snacks like almonds, turkey jerky and protein bars so we could snack when needed. Being ready with snacks and sharing meals made eating during our vacation easy and eliminated much of the stress I associate with eating out.

The other stressful situation I feared before our vacation was the rides. My son is now at the age where he wants to ride rollercoasters and fast, bumpy rides. The last time we went to Disney World, he was 6 and just starting to express an interest in rollercoasters. We did ride one rollercoaster, Big Thunder Mountain Railway then and I was scared the whole time. I wasn’t scared of the ride since Big Thunder isn’t really that fast, scary and doesn’t go upside down; I was scared for safety issues. I was terrified the bar wouldn’t go down far enough over my big belly and that I would squish my son. Neither happened, but the worry was always there.

No worries this trip! The bars on all the rides went down easily and I truly felt safe! And yes, I rode a scary rollercoaster that went upside down and I didn’t fall out. The California Screamin’ Rollercoaster was one of my favorite rides of the trip and I am so happy that I was able to share this experience with my son as a healthy mom.

So in the past, I am sure I would have gained more weight and been secretly terrified of the rides. This trip was perfect in so many ways: time with just my family, no schedule or commitments, and just plain fun! While it was a struggle to take off that pound I gained and to get back on track for losing weight, it was well worth it. And really, that’s what my journey is all about…being healthy for me and my family. Bumps in the road will arise, but I can conquer them with my sleeved stomach, support of my family and friends, but most importantly my belief that I am worth it and I can do. Going to the “Happiest Place on Earth” was the best reminder that I make my own “Happiest Place on Earth” right here and right now…

Surprise, Surprise, This isn’t Really that Easy..

My new life began 10 weeks ago with my gastric sleeve surgery. 40 pounds down! My body is changing as expected, but it is the emotional changes that are the biggest surprise. I thought I was prepared for the emotional changes, but I am embarrassed to admit, I was wrong. I was nowhere near ready to deal with the feelings, stress, highs and lows that my new lifestyle would bring. Time to deal with them now, and I don’t think it is going to be pretty.

Starting a weight loss journey is something I’ve done many times, but this time it is extreme. The surgery permanently changed my body and while I knew I would have to change my mindset about food, I was naïve to think it would be simple. When food is your reward, your comfort, your stress reliever and your go-to friend for boredom for more than 40 years, changing your mindset is harder than you think.

Week 9 and on vacation!  A non-food oriented vacation was just what I needed.  Better yet, I loved it!

Week 9 and on vacation! A non-food oriented vacation was just what I needed. Better yet, I loved it!

Some lifestyle changes have been easy, like reducing my craving for sweet things. We were on our first vacation last week, and I didn’t find myself looking for the closest ice cream shop or candy store as I did in the past. We didn’t eat out much so I didn’t face temptation or feel deprived constantly. One of the few times we did eat out, I did indulge in a burger and fries. A half a burger and three french fries were all I could eat and it wasn’t that great. I would have enjoyed a salad more I think.  I hope I can keep that mind-set.

What helped me keep my mind off of food were all the outside activities we did each day. For a girl who used to say “that roughing it was a hotel without room service”, a vacation in Lake Tahoe was pretty radical. We hiked, we swam, we relaxed without making food a highlight of our trip. I guess this is what most people would consider normal, but for me, an emphasis on eating has always been part of my vacations. Treating myself to fattening food in large quantities was part of the vacation experience. This vacation showed me that having fun, by being physically active, is better than any food experience. I am thrilled I have changed my mindset, but I am more excited that my children will think of vacation as a fun time full of physical activities and not food.

So changing my food mindset on vacation wasn’t so hard, so what’s the problem? Every day life is now my problem. We came home from vacation to a stressful traffic weekend due to a three-day concert in our neighborhood. We came home to bills stacked up, loads of laundry and no food in the house. My commitment to my children’s’ school overwhelmed me even before we made it to our home. Real life slapped me in the face and I melted down quicker than a pint of Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream.

Every day stress is nothing new, especially when coming home from a vacation, but this time I felt crazy, out of control and angry. Part of it could be the hormone changes from my surgery, but I think most of it is that my old way of comforting myself is gone. Oh, I could eat sugar or fatty food if I want to soothe myself, but only two ounces of it. I can’t gorge on food like I did in the past to numb myself. I have to handle stress in a different, more healthy way. This is the biggest struggle I think I have ever faced.

I haven’t handled it very well, I must admit. I have cried more this weekend than I can remember. Suddenly, every stress, every hurt, every betrayal I’ve felt is heightened. It’s not pretty or fun, but I am coming to terms that this is part of life…my new life, and I can’t ignore it. My numbing agent of food is gone. I come from a family of addicts and I am determined not to exchange my food addiction for another.

So, what am I going to do? Now that the tears are gone, I have decided that the first thing I need to do is acknowledge my stress, anger and pain. It’s here, but I think it’s also important for me to come to terms that having these feelings is normal, but how I handle it is what makes me who I am. I will not eat to deal with these feelings, I have to find ways of handling it like exercising, talking with my ever-supportive husband and friends, and of course, writing about my feelings.

The next part is probably the hardest for me. I’ve always wanted to please my family and friends even to the detriment of my sanity and happiness. I used to feel that if I made someone else happy, I would be happy. While I will always believe in a need for compromise, I am finally realizing my joy, my happiness, my peace are important, too. I need to stand up for myself. The consequences of this are not always good; I have lost family and friends because I am putting myself, my husband and children first. Realizing that I am not in charge of everyone’s happiness is still hard for me to believe, but the times I have stood up for myself, have made me realize this is right for me.

I am going to have to change commitments I made, say no to people and really think about my actions in terms of my physical and mental health. I can only hope I will find understanding and support from the people in my life. Saying no to people isn’t easy, just like saying no to food isn’t easy. This tough new journey Down the Scale is tougher than I imagined, but the thought of being healthy mentally and physically is too important to give up, no matter what struggles I face…