Tag Archives: Weight Gain

Baby Steps Forward

MomandSonAfterRun

Enjoying an after run treat, with one of my favorite running partners, my son! I am thankful I can run with my children and model healthy living for them! My weight loss journey is good for my whole family.

Today I went running for the first time in almost a month.  It was a slowly, short and easy kind of run with one of my favorite running partners, my son.  As we ran along a new path in our new hometown, I felt calm and at peace.  I haven’t felt this way in a long time.  

Moving for the second time in a  year has upset so many aspects of my life right now.  My day-to-day schedule is inconsistent.  Workouts, eating healthy, spending quality time with my family, and my writing time are all out of whack. I thought once we finally moved all our belongings to one place, I would settle into my old healthy habits.  It didn’t happen.  Instead it became:

*Unpacking one day was empowering.  The next  day it was overwhelming.

*Taking a walk was the start of a new exercise routine.  It was not.

*Cooking from scratch one night was great.  It was not a regular activity.

*One writing session was the path back to my blog and novel.  That path was ignored until today.

*Now that the scale is unpacked, I’ll start using it.  It’s still gathering dust in my new bathroom.

If this happened instead of my actual goals, why does one day of running make me believe that I find my way back to my healthy lifestyle?  Because I finally acknowledged that I need to really want to change.  I accept the fact that I need to take baby steps to get back to the place I am healthiest and happiest.

In the first year of my gastric sleeve surgery, the weight flew off.  It took a lot of mental work, but physically I had the help of my small stomach.  I was making leaps with my weight loss.  In the following years I was still making large strides with the addition of regular exercise.  I crave the accolades of running my first half marathon and successfully learning strength training skills.  Tangible results are addicting and I think I’m feeling the crash of not having regular successes that are measured by pounds, inches, and race results.

If I really committed I could be back there.  If I tracked my food or did an elimination diet again, the pounds would drop off.  If I signed up for another half marathon or finally set up a home gym like I promise to do every year I’d be back in better shape.

Oh, I know I can do all this.  I’ve set big goals and succeeded.  What’s holding me back?

THE PRESSURE

The thought of food journaling, following an elimination diet, and a strict exercise routine overwhelms me.  Perhaps it’s because I have so many other responsibilities that I feel like adding a rigid regimen to my life is too much to handle.

Of course part of me thinks I should just wait for three weeks until my kids are in school and follow a more disciplined lifestyle.  When the kids are in school, I’ll have more time to do all those things I could do to lose weight again and tone and strengthen my body.  But for me, promising to start later is an invitation to lapse into bad habits. It could turn into a “ It’s like a last hurrah, the last meal before death row, the last party as single and/or childless woman” kind of time in my life.  I would make these last three weeks a time to eat mindlessly and lounge around.  For me, it’s time wasted and I never feel any better when I give up control of living healthy.

So instead of saying I’ll live better in three weeks, I am going to take baby steps which include:

*Running to clear by mind, not for distance or pace.  My mind and body were clear and revitalized after running with my son today.  I just enjoyed his company and the beauty of one of the many new running places I have in my new hometown.

*I am making protein a priority in all of my meals.  I am still dealing with low iron levels and I can tell when I don’t eat properly as my body and mind don’t function as well as they can.  

*I’m slowly getting back to cooking meals from scratch and this time I’m including my children.  It’s important for me to model good habits and cooking is an easy one to share with them.  I think they’re going to be better cooks than me!

*Making simple adjustments to eating habits like limiting restaurant meals and dropping a tablespoon of creamer from my coffee is actually easy to do.  I don’t feel deprived when I do this.  It’s just as  easy to fall back into good routines as it is into bad ones.

*Writing when it strikes me and letting things go like laundry and unpacking the last remaining boxes.  Now I don’t mean I plan to neglect things like feeding my children or picking my husband after work, but some things can wait, especially when I don’t have a set writing time right now.

It’s been tough to admit I have slipped this year.  It’s embarrassing to admit I am struggling once again.  But I am owning it.  With the help of baby steps, I can get back to the lifestyle that makes me feel best both physically and mentally.  Baby steps will help me back to where I want to be and will enable me to continue my journey Down the Scale…

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Let’s Get Uncomfortable

“You’ve become comfortable.”

Those important and truthful words were simply stated last week by my friend, N. She is one of my strongest supporters since I began my weight loss journey. She is also my most honest friend. She is brave enough to speak the truth even when I don’t want to hear it. That is the sign of a true friend.

“You’re right.”

Most people would consider this a "before and after" photo, but I like to think of it as a "before and my current state" photo. My weight loss journey continues to evolve as I strive to be the healthiest person I can be!

Most people would consider this a “before and after” photo, but I like to think of it as a “before and my current state” photo. My weight loss journey continues to evolve as I strive to be the healthiest person I can be!

That was my immediate response to N. When you speak without thinking, without filtering your spoken words, you know you’re sharing your truth.

Why did I agree I’ve become comfortable? Because I feel stagnant in my journey to become a healthy person. No, it’s not just about losing weight; it’s about physical and mental progress. For me, becoming comfortable can lead to falling, even jumping, backward. This is not what I want.

I’ve become complacent in terms of my physical health. The weight I gained over this past year is still here. I am used to it. And if I felt like this was where I wanted to be, that would be OK, but I don’t. I don’t like my tight jeans. I don’t like the new extra jiggle in my arms. When I’m honest with myself, I am not happy with my body now.

I’ve also eased off on my physical fitness. Having run my first half-marathon in May, I should set a new goal. I like having goals. I unabashedly admit I like to check off boxes on my own to-do list. I like something to focus on down the road. I’ve become too comfortable with running two to three miles twice a week and one spin class. While it’s great that I do have an exercise routine, I’ve been comfortable just keeping the same pace and exertion.

The biggest area I’ve become comfortable with is eating. Yes, my gastric sleeve stomach keeps me from overeating, but I admit I have been snacking more. The protein bars I claim to buy for meals have turned into candy bar snacks. It’s easy to slip back into poor eating habits. “I’ll starting eating less and drinking more water” is my new Sunday night mantra.

Now that I’m being honest with myself, what do I do next? Staying comfortable is not an option. I need to push myself to get over this plateau and stop the backward sliding into poor habits. I want to get to the next level of mental and physical fitness. This means being uncomfortable. It doesn’t mean forgetting where I’ve come from, though.  This just means reminding myself of the success I’ve achieved. I’ve come along way, baby! I’m maintaining a huge weight loss, exercising regularly, and, for the most part, eating healthier. Yes, I am proud of where I am, but I know I can do better. I can be better.

And this is what I’m going to do to get to the next level of health: I’m going to get uncomfortable:

*It’s time to weigh myself weekly. While I’m a firm believer that the scale isn’t the end all, be all of fitness, it does give me a tangible indicator of where my health is going. My blog isn’t called “Down the Scale” for nothing!

*Crank up the physical intensity. I already started last week at spin class by turning up the resistance on my bike. I ran faster and longer on this morning’s run. Sure, I was tired after each outing, but my head and body felt better. Pushing through the initial pain made me improve. I still need to come up with a tangible goal like last year’s half-marathon, but starting to challenge myself in my every day life is a good start!

*Back to eating mindfully. Snacking, for me, is a mindless activity. Snacking, even if it’s healthy food, is mostly done without thought. I do it for the instant gratification or to help ignore stress, pain or depression. I promise to take the time to think about why I’m eating. I know this will be the most uncomfortable step in my continuing journey. It’s easier to ignore my feelings by eating. That is my lifelong struggle.

When I began sharing my experiences, I thought I would have a definite before and after photo and story. Yes, I have before photos, but the after photos and stories are just landmarks on my personal map. Sometimes these landmarks are strong and majestic, but some times they are more weak and ugly. And by ugly I mean negative, unhappy and dull. They are not the places you want to stop at when looking at a map, but I’ve learned I can get through those places.

When I am complacent in taking care of my body, mind, and soul, I slide back into bad habits and negative thinking. It’s easy to be comfortable in the dark. Pushing out of the dark and into the light is hard, sometimes frightening and it is definitely not a straight line type of journey. For me, stepping forward after going backward is always worth it. Being truthful is hard! Here I go being honest as I seek out new, positive landmarks on my journey Down the Scale….

Tangible Versus Intangible: Thank Goodness for Both

Today my ever-supportive husband hung up the wonderful running bib and medal holder he made for me. Since I started running in 2012, my bibs and medals have been scattered around the house. It was wrong to treat them as knick knacks because they aren’t just meaningless objects. The awards from the races are tangible rewards of my heathy lifestyle that I started with my gastric sleeve surgery and continue to strive for each and every day.

"I Did It!" Why, yes, I did run all these races featured on my new display. It still amazes me that running is part of my life. From obese to a runner...my Down the Scale journey makes me so happy!

“I Did It!” Why, yes, I did run all these races featured on my new display. It still amazes me that running is part of my life. From obese to a runner…my Down the Scale journey makes me so happy!

Since I’ve become the healthier version of myself over the years, I’ve realized I have many tangible results. Obviously I look different. I’m in better shape and happier than I was before I took charge of my body and mind. Photos from the past compared to the present show the obvious difference. Smaller sized clothes, a collection of race t-shirts, and a closet of running shoes and accessories also prove my new lifestyle is a reality.

The way I live my life is more tangible proof that I’ve changed for the better over the years. While I’m still battling some weight gain this year, I am healthier according to my scale and by my blood work. My normal blood pressure and “regular” sized clothes are part of my life now. Now that walking and running are part of my life, I can see how sedentary I was before I made the decision to change my lifestyle.

So what are the intangible results of living healthier? In some ways, the way my life has improved since my surgery is hard to quantify. Everyone can see results through numbers and pictures, but I think the “hidden” improvements are the best. My improved disposition is measurable proof that a healthy lifestyle does make a difference. Trust me, I’m not overly perky or positive, but I don’t think I’m Debbie Downer either. And of course, I still battle stress and depression, but I know that I handle it better than before. When I face difficult challenges, both physically and mentally, I know I will get through them. My weight loss story shows me every day that I can tackle what life hands me!

My new race display perfectly represents my journey. It shows my successes in a tangible way, but when I look at it, I see more than medals and finishing times. I see that I take on challenges and that I finish them. Some races were easy and some were hard, but I didn’t shy away from a difficult test of my physical and mental abilities. My race display encourages me to keep working toward new running goals and to keep trying new races. While the board shows the tangible results of running, in my heart I know it’s also proof that all the intangible results of my hard work are there too. Here’s to adding more medals and positive changes to my Down the Scale journey…

“Just Keeping Swimming” and Other Water Metaphors

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here at Down the Scale. I guess I’ve been waiting for some big weight loss or outstanding accomplishment to share. Well, I’m still waiting.

The past few months have been stressful for a variety of reasons and my 10 pound weight gain from the holidays is still here. It’s as if I haven’t thrown out my Christmas tree and it’s taunting me with its brown needles and limp branches. I just haven’t been able to get over the “hump” and get back to losing weight. What’s a girl to do?

12 Mile Training Run

Here I am at mile 2 of my 12 mile training run for my first half-marathon next month. When I had my gastric sleeve surgery 3 years ago, I never imagined I would be able to run this far! Running is my anchor!

This girl did a few things! First I’m admitting to the world that my jeans are tight, I’m still snacking (albeit on better foods than the holidays) and that I’m scared. I’m terrified of going back to the “old” me: the overweight, unmotivated about my health kind of person that I was most of my life. Yes, I’m admitting this on my blog, but the first person I really admitted it to was my therapist.

I’ve talked about going to therapy in many of my blog posts and once again, I can’t stress the importance of having a professional to talk to about weight loss, stress and basically anything else in life you need to talk about! I went to see my therapist about everything going on and told her I just can’t get back on track. “How do I do it?”, I asked. And she just said, “You’re here now. This is your starting point.” Why, yes, yes it is!

So we talked about my struggles with food and then exercise came up. I told her that I’m training for my first half-marathon in May. Her eyes opened wide and she said that was great! I shared that running is the one thing I have been able to stick to during these stressful months. She said, “Running is your anchor.”

That phrase is now one of my mottos as it pretty much sums up one of the most important aspects of my weight loss journey. Whether I’m running slow or even walking, I’m moving my body. My time to run is all about me. It’s my time to exercise, but more importantly it clears my head. I use that time to listen to music, to daydream and to get out the tension in my body and soul. Whether my run is short or long, I always feel better afterwards.

Talking about running with my therapist helped me get a little perspective on my journey. At this time last year I was prepping for my longest race, a 10K. This weekend I’m running a 10 mile race and then in less than a month I’m running 13.1 miles! I will proudly toot my own horn and say that it’s pretty awesome!

So running is my anchor, but what do I do next? In the poignant words of Dory, “Just keep swimming.” In my case, swimming means taking care of myself. I feel like I’ve been treading water, so to speak, and that’s OK. Well, it’s OK for a while. Eventually you have to swim or you’ll sink; you can’t tread water forever.

I’ve focused on these 10 pounds and it’s been more stressful than helpful. While I need to get them off so that I feel better and so that my clothes fit better, I think I need to approach it a different way. I’ve got to find a balance of being more aware of my eating habits without obsessing about them. Honestly, I’m not sure how I’m going to do that. It’s something for me to figure out. I don’t want to live my life obsessed with a number, but I don’t want to go back to not caring about it either.

Back into the weight loss pool I go! I think I have enough water metaphors to help me get back on track to the healthy person I know I can be. It’s been almost 3 years since my gastric sleeve surgery and I’ve kept off about 90 pounds! Sometimes you just need a reminder of where you’ve been, both good and bad, to get you back on course. Here I am, diving back into the waters of weight loss and more importantly, health, at Down the Scale….

Lack of Anticipation….

Here we are in mid-January and I have to say I’m not doing as well getting back to my heathy lifestyle. Oh, it’s not like I’ve gone back to my pre-surgery habits, but I haven’t gone back to my pre-holiday habits either. The Christmas break lackadaisical way of eating is more in play than I’d like to admit. I’m back to nonfat lattes, but sugary snacks are finding their way into my pudgier than I would like belly. What to do, what to do….

For the past few weeks I’ve tried to think of how to get back on track. For some strange reason I thought of Helen Mirren in the movie Gosford Park. (Spoiler alert!) My heart broke when her character, Mrs. Wilson, explains how she knew her son was going to try to kill his father. It’s because she’s a good servant who can anticipate the needs of those she serves. She knows what they need before they do.

The Tinker Bell Half Marathon is keeping me motivated to maintain my post gastric sleeve lifestyle!

The Tinker Bell Half Marathon is keeping me motivated to maintain my post gastric sleeve lifestyle!

Now, I’m not putting on the martyr hat and declaring myself a servant. Although when my adorable children yell down the hall for a new roll of toilet paper that is within their reach, I feel like Cinderella, and I don’t mean the glass slippers version. What I relate to is Mrs. Wilson being able to anticipate other people’s needs when it’s clear she is subverting her own.

Again, I’m not being melodramatic and saying my needs aren’t important. If that was the case I would never have started my Down the Scale journey. What I’ve noticed is that I’m not anticipating my own needs. I always try (but admittedly don’t always succeed) to be there for my family and friends. I try to be as helpful and prepared for them as I can be. When I’m not prepared for my own needs, though, life is harder than it should be.

For example, I’m always a bit sad after the holidays. I love the break and spending time with my ever-supportive hubby and sweet kids, but I miss the East Coast and my family back there. January means back to demanding schedules and early, dark evenings and with El Niño it means lots and lots of rain.

I should be prepared for this and find ways to combat the post-holiday blues since this happens every year. Instead I let myself keep to my erratic eating and exercising habits. In December I should anticipate my upcoming funk and make a plan of action.

Even though I missed planning ahead, I still can change my mindset. Yes, I’m suffering from East Coast homesickness, but I’m working on summer plans to visit our families. Anticipating a trip always makes me feel better.

The biggest and most useful preparation I can make is to have better food choices, so when I get the January blues, I’m not using food to numb my feelings. All the holiday treats are now out of the house. While low-fat cherry Greek yogurt isn’t the same as peppermint bark, it’s a better choice. No more peppermint mochas, just nonfat lattes.

I’m not sure why I didn’t think about my two upcoming Disneyland trips to help combat my post holiday depression. First is a family trip which is one of the happiest trips my family makes each year. It’s one of the fun and silliest times with my Disney crazy family! And I want to be at my healthiest because there will be lots of walking and I want to look good for my annual photo with Thor. Or maybe Captain America this year.

Then there is my first half marathon in May. I am nervous but I’m excited to complete this big goal in my weight loss journey. Training is tough, but deep down I know I can do it. I am now following a training schedule which is easy to follow and fits into my schedule. I also bought new running shoes and a running raincoat is on order so I can run even in the rain.

While I can’t fix my rough start this year, I hope this revelation will stick in my mind as the year progresses. There is the winter slump, the sugar crash post-Easter, the first wearing of the bathing suit and the mid-summer “how do I keep my kids from fighting anymore blues”, just to name a few events.

My plan is to prepare my head, heart and pantry for these upcoming challenging times. Since I don’t have Helen Mirren anticipating my needs, it’s up to me. Being responsible for myself is the best thing I can do as I continue to go Down the Scale.

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…

From Shame to Hope…

If I was on Sesame Street today’s letter would be “S.” I wish it stood for success, but it stands for shame. Let me say SHAME in all capital letters. I am full of shame, disappointment and frustration. No pretty words are coming out of my mouth.

I think this photo shows a happy person and that's what who I intend to be as my gastric sleeve journey continues....

I think this photo shows a happy person and that’s what who I intend to be as my gastric sleeve journey continues….

The reason for my shame is that I’m finally admitting I am struggling with just about everything in my life. I feel like a compass with broken needle. I can’t seem to find any sense of direction. I take that back, I am going in one direction: up, as in up the scale. I guess this is my rock bottom when it comes to my journey for 2015. I’ve been in worse places and I have definitely carried more weight on my body and soul, but now I am at the bottom of a very large hill.

What brought on this overwhelming sense of shame? It’s been building for a while. A pound here or there in the summer was easy to brush aside. It’s summer! Ice cream for everyone! “I’ll stop the treats when summer is over,” I promised. Nope, that didn’t happen. I switched from ice cream to baked goods. What’s a piece of banana nut bread now and then? Just one or two cookies won’t hurt I convinced myself. I broke my rule of keeping treats as treats and not making them an everyday food.

I gave myself all kinds of reasons why I was snacking more. Stress, anxiety and feelings of worthlessness keep popping up. Some issues are self-manufactured and some came from the usual day-to-day drama. My brain tells me that it’s my choice to let pain and disappointment rule my behavior, but my heart just wants me to have peace.

For all my life, food is the peacemaker. Food doesn’t judge. It gives comfort, but it doesn’t offer solutions. It causes more problems. Logically I know this, but for as practical of a person I am, I still battle “the food as comfort” solution to my problems.

So here I am at rock bottom with my bathroom scale. I have not recorded my weight since June 5, 2015. Oh, I knew my weight was increasing, but if you don’t write it down it doesn’t count right? Today I was up 8 ½ pounds since June. Yes, almost 10 pounds. I was too ashamed to even cry. And when I realized I’m 13 pounds above my comfortable weight window, I was too stunned to step off the scale. Then the anger set in. The berating began. “How did I do this to myself? All the work and money spent and this is what I’ve done? I am a disappointment to myself, my family and friends!”

No, this story doesn’t end on a negative note. Yes, I’ve screwed up. Can I fix it? Hell, yeah! If I lost 100 pounds and made myself into a healthier and happier person, I can do it again. Fortunately life is all about second chances. Well, in the case of my weight loss journey, it is full of infinite chances. The positive spin on all this is that I can take control of my health once again and it should be easier in some respects. I know how to eat healthy. I know to stop buying my trigger foods. I know to exercise for the benefit of my body and soul. I know all this. I just have to believe.

And so begins the climb out of my weight gain and general life funk. It’s never easy in the beginning. Today as I laid on my bed to zip up my very snug jeans, I thought to myself, “You can fix this!’. As I ate a granola bar mindlessly when I wasn’t hungry, I though to myself, “You can fix this!”.

Here are some ways I plan to fix it:

*Tracking my food. I’m back to using MyFitnessPal. I hate keeping a food journey, but it really does work. Seeing what I”m eating really makes me think.

*Exercising in different ways. Normally I run alone, but I recently started to run with friends. It’s challenging, but it pushes me to keep up my pace, learn to chat as we go and most importantly it proves a much-needed therapy sessions.

*Find other outlets for my stress. Exercise is a great way to relieve depression, but I need other activities. I’m reading more when is a great distraction. Oddly enough, decluttering my home is lessening my anxiety. Accomplishing any task just feels good to this goal-oriented woman.

I know that writing more will help lift me out of this well of weight gain despair, too. That’s why I finally decided to share my shame. I’d love to be the poster child for gastric sleeve surgery, but I’m not. I haven’t come close to the goal I set before I had surgery. I don’t need to be perfect when it comes to my journey. I just have to keep trying and stay healthy.

I will own my shame. Yes, today’s letter is “S”, but I have decided that tomorrow’s letter is “H” for hope. I have two choices: to continue down a self-destructive path or to make positive changes. I have persevered before and I can do it now. By admitting and sharing my current struggles, I know that I can let go of this shame. I will let hope fill its place in my head and more importantly, in my heart.