You Are Loved <3

“UNIVERSAL LESSON:  YOU SEE THE WORLD THAT YOU HAVE MADE, BUT YOU DO NOT SEE YOURSELF AS THE IMAGE-MAKER.” 

Gabrielle Bernstein, “The Universe Has Your Back”

Personal development has never been something I pursued intentionally.  One of the biggest lessons I’ve had to acknowledge during my health and fitness journey is that in addition to weighing almost 300 lbs, I was toting around at least that much weight in emotional baggage.  It was literally weighing me down, drowning me in depression and despair.  Unwilling and unable to even leave my house most days, because I was so ashamed and embarrassed at how much I’d let myself go. I kept trying to claw and dig my way to the surface, only to be dragged back down again by the hands of my perception and self-loathing.  It was a cycle I didn’t know how to break.  I didn’t weigh 300 pounds just because I loved food, and I knew that part of my health journey was going to include delving deep into my heart and rooting out the negative and self-destructive emotions that brought me to the edge of the precipice I found myself on the eve before I decided to have Gastric-Sleeve surgery.  I didn’t want to ever end up back in that place, literally hanging over a dark abyss of self-hatred and fear.  I knew losing the weight was only half the battle, delving into my personal “why” was the key.  Why had I allowed this to happen to my body?  Why did I do this to myself?  I was hiding behind the extra weight.  Hiding behind the poor choices.  I needed to figure out why.  I couldn’t let this happen to me again.

Gabrielle Bernstein says something over and over in her book (The Universe Has Your Back) that really stuck with me, “Energy flows where your attention goes.”  Our perceptions create our reality or projection.  Gabrielle compares it to a movie reel.  What we perceive is what we project on the movie screens of our life.  If you find yourself struggling, whether it’s with your weight, your marriage, your relationships, your life…ask yourself, what movie have I been projecting?  I began to really think about what fear motivated me in a negative way to make the poor decisions that led me to this crossroads in my life.  I knew I had choices.  I could keep doing what I’d been doing and continue to live in the shadows, afraid to step out.  Or, I could take a different path.  I could step out of my 300 pound shadow.  I could stop being a spectator in my very own existence and make the decision to actually live!  I could make the decision to be fully present, living my best life, not just watching from the sidelines.

Somewhere along the line between childhood and adulthood, I decided that love was conditional.  I developed along the way this idea that I had to walk the tightrope of perfection in certain relationships in order to be loved and feel love.  If I missed a step, if I failed to say the right thing or do the right thing, that love was withheld from me.  It was taken away.  Whether in my mind or in reality, it was my perception and it colored my attitudes and emotions.  Food became a comfort, a coping mechanism.  Metaphorically, I could hide my shame and low sense of self-worth behind my weight.  If no one could see me, they couldn’t hurt me.  Obviously, I see the fallacy in my thinking, but when you are trapped in a particular mindset, it’s extremely difficult to see your way around it.  The self-destructive behaviors make a weird sort of sense.  You begin to find comfort in the things that ultimately will bring you down.

It’s difficult to explain in words, and I’m probably botching it up, but it’s really painful to open yourself up in this way and bare your soul.  I carry these feelings in the deepest parts of myself.  I’m always waiting for friends and family to realize how screwed up I really am and turn away from me, realize I’m not worth loving and walk away.  This is the movie, I play in my head.  This is my projection colored by my perceptions.  I don’t want to live this way.  I don’t want to gain the weight back.  I still have weight to lose, work to do and part of that work is being 100% honest and transparent.  I don’t want to always feel as if I have to hide behind humor and self-deprecation.  I want to shine a spotlight on the deepest and darkest parts of me, so I can change my “movie”, my perceptions and project a different outcome.

Sharing my thoughts and feelings in such a public forum allows me to feel empowered.  I want to reshape these negative thoughts and structure my life in a more positive and productive way.  As it turns out, losing 100 pounds was the easy part.  Changing my perceptions is where the hard work really begins.  If I want something I’ve never had, I have to do things I’ve never done.  I find inspiration in the support of others.  A big part of me expects failure.  It would be easy to listen to that voice.  That voice tends to get louder when I shut myself off from loving and being loved by others.  The stories I sometimes allow myself to believe about myself block me from feeling supported and happy.

It is difficult sometimes for me to reconcile the fact that I’ve come so far in my health and fitness journey.  I’ve lost over 100 pounds!  I don’t celebrate this amazing achievement often enough.  I usually say something along the lines of “yeah, I’ve lost 100 pounds, but I still have another 50 or so to go.”  My emotional health is an integral part of my overall health and fitness.  I can’t ignore it.  To ignore it leads me right back to where I started and I don’t want to ever visit or live there again.  I need to acknowledge and congratulate myself on the hard work that has gotten me this far.  That sense of accomplishment needs to be the light I shine on the projection I want to play in my daily life.  I don’t want to stay stuck in the negative rut of that old reality.  I want to break down those walls, squash those feelings and crush that mindset.  I have to be purposeful about connecting to the positive images of my success and accomplishments rather than focusing on the negative and destructive.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will I be.  I am perfectly imperfect, a child of God, and learning to love myself, forgive myself is essential to my growth and progress to being the person I was meant to be.

Writing the positive story of my life makes for a happier, more joyful me which radiates a power and light that forbids me from hiding in the shadows of my old self, hiding behind those old fears and spiraling down the staircase of destruction.  Being present in my life, being an active participant is my power and from that power I derive my motivation and my inspiration to continue down this new, unchartered path.  Seeking the approval of others is an integral part of who I am, connecting to those feelings, recognizing and acknowledging those feelings without letting the outcomes control me is key.

I’m worthy of being loved

The above statement, a mantra I repeat to myself daily, sometimes multiple times per day.  I am flawed.  I am imperfect.  I make mistakes.  None of those things discounts me as a person worthy of loving herself and accepting love from others.  In losing 100 pounds, this is what I’ve discovered.  I choose to look back and see my 300 pound self cheering me on, wanting me to succeed instead of trying to trip me up or praying I fail.  I understand that my intentions, my perceptions color my reality.  By being the change I want to see in myself and the world around me, I turn outward judgment into self-reflection and action against the only thing I can ever truly control, myself.

If you are feeling stuck, unloved or in a place where you harshly judge not only yourself but those around you, I hope you find comfort and solace in what I’ve shared here today.  I hope you take the time to stop and think about the movie you’ve created of your life and the part you want to play in it, realizing the power to change the direction and the outcome does truly lie within you.  Empowering yourself is the greatest gift you can give yourself and others.  Forgive yourself.  Love yourself.  So that you may more freely forgive and love others.  Choosing to be intentional, empowering yourself and those around you, projecting the life you want and desire is a daily practice.  I find myself having to redirect my negative thoughts and actions over and over again throughout the course of a day.  Some days are better than others.  Don’t let fear be the guiding principle of your internal dialogue.  The point is to be intentional and purposeful in the changes you want to see and that will direct your thoughts and actions in a positive direction.  Taking responsibility for the lives we’ve created can be scary.  It’s much easier to blame those around us, or our circumstances.  Believe me, I know.  By acknowledging that my perceptions of self-worth, my negative thoughts and feelings and my destructive habits and choices were shaping the reality of my existence, my world, I was able to choose a different path, including the experiences in healing my heart, body and soul that resulted in the loss of 100 pounds and the journey to find the me God intended when he created me in His image.

The bottom line.

You are not alone.  You are loved. ❤

So, I’m Basically Moses

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My Bible study this week has been focusing on Moses and the Exodus from Egypt.  This study couldn’t have come at a better time for me.  When God tasked Moses with liberating the Israelites, he was full of excuses about how it would NEVER work.  Moses was a bit of a whiner.  I’m not judging.  To judge Moses would be to judge myself.  Not that I think I’m ACTUALLY Moses reincarnated or anything like that (although…), just that I completely understand his fear and reticence towards the monumental task set before him.  Moses basically attempted to dissuade God in three primary ways:

  1. Moses didn’t believe in himself or think he was good enough.
  2. Moses was afraid people would doubt his authenticity or credibility.
  3. Moses believed himself to be a terrible public speaker.

I am 45 years old and still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.  Well, that’s not exactly true.  I’ve always wanted to be a mother.  I’m not terribly ambitious.  I mean I can be super competitive, you probably don’t want to find yourself my adversary in a board or card game, but in the world of business, not so much.  I don’t have any desire to climb the corporate ladder or further my education.  I always knew I wanted children.  It’s the only life ambition I can ever recall truly wanting and craving.  Part of being a mother, meant helping to support our family, so working outside the home was a necessity.  I don’t have any regrets, but as I enter a new season in my life, I find myself floundering.

Our three girls are out of the house, adapting and thriving in a world outside of our little bubble.  We couldn’t be more proud of them.  Our son is only 10 and still living at home.  I don’t know where we went wrong with him.  I keep encouraging him to get a job and be a contributor in life, but he’s full of excuses (just like Moses).  Apparently, he’s under the impression that 10 is too young to work or drive.  I tell him he’s just not trying hard enough.

Obviously, I’m joking.

Or am I?

But seriously, most of the time, it’s just me and little man hanging out.  My husband (in addition to working 2 jobs) is in Seminary, completing his Masters of Divinity degree.  Unfortunately, we don’t see him as much as we’d like (never thought I’d say that!)  I’ve taken the last year off from working outside the home, choosing instead to focus on little man, my health, my faith, my husband and my girls.  We’ve focused these last few months on simplifying our lives.  We will be downsizing from 3600 square feet to 1300 square feet of living space in a few short weeks.  I feel like we are either selling or giving away our entire life and history, it’s both terrifying and exhilarating.  Like many people, we have entirely too much STUFF.

I’ve been looking into part-time jobs and opportunities, not having much luck or finding anything I’m truly excited about.  I feel lost and a little dejected if I’m being honest.  I’ve been channeling my inner Moses and whining to God about it.  I don’t do many things well, but I do think I’m a competent writer.  I haven’t figured out how to make money doing what I love, second only to motherhood.  I do feel I have a story to tell, and God has impressed this feeling onto my heart.  It’s scary to put yourself out there, metaphorically naked and under a spotlight.  I don’t like feeling vulnerable.  I’m embarrassed when I get complimented or even noticed.  I both crave and cringe that spotlight.  Maybe if I could keep my clothes on…?

As I read about Moses this week, I’m struck by his three excuses to God.  Why?  Because they sound so familiar!  Those same three excuses have been stuck on a loop in my head for months.

  1. I worry I’m not good enough
  2. I worry that people won’t like me or that I’ll annoy them
  3. I worry that I won’t be able to speak (write) confidently or authentically, that I will fall short and be judged harshly and found lacking

In short, I’m worried I will fail.

If you’ve followed my Instagram or Facebook posts lately, you’ll notice I’ve been posting more about my health and fitness journey. In my quiet moments of prayer and reflection, I feel like it’s this part of my journey that God wants me to share.  I keep making excuses and trying to ignore that little voice but it’s not going away.  I feel like there are so many people out there that have struggled with weight, poor self-image, terrible self-confidence and low self-esteem.  People who look at themselves in the mirror and feel shame, even hatred for the person looking back.  People who feel like they have tried EVERYTHING and nothing works.  People who have just given up, thrown in the towel, trying to convince themselves and others that it doesn’t matter anymore, that they don’t care.  People who are tired of failing.  Tired of feeling ashamed and judged.  People who find themselves spectators in their life instead of active participants.  People who just don’t feel good enough or that they measure up against the ideals of others, stuck in the perpetual cycle of despair and recrimination.

The other day, I shared my 21 day challenge group with all of you.  How it gave me new energy and focus, a sense of purpose and excitement.  My accountability group is comprised of an amazing group of women, who are motivated simply by helping and encouraging others.  I shared how in 21 days, I lost 3.5 inches overall.  I spoke briefly of how excited I am for my next challenge group to start.  In some ways, this group has given me a sense of belonging I didn’t even realize I was missing, a sense of purpose.

Over the last month, I’ve been reflecting and praying, listening hard for an answer.  What I didn’t realize was that it’s been in front of me all along, but I, like Moses, gave God a million excuses why I was the wrong person, at the wrong time, in the wrong place.  I will fail.  I can’t do it.  No one will listen.  No one will like me or relate to me.  I won’t find the words.  I’ll suck.  It will just be another thing in a long line of things that I’ve attempted to do that I’ve failed or given up on.  This time, I’ll fail publicly and spectacularly.  I’ll withdraw into myself again, gain all the weight back and feed on self-loathing, self-pity and cupcakes.

WOW.

For real though, this is the rabbit hole I find myself diving into, time and again.  I’ve worked so hard to change my thoughts.  Changing my thoughts has changed my behaviors.  Changing my behaviors has changed my perspective.  Changing my perspective has changed my life.

So I took the leap.

I decided to become a coach, a fitness consultant for Beachbody, run my own challenge groups, be a part of an amazing team,  and see if I can’t reach the people who struggle just like me, need the encouragement and motivation of someone who understands.  Someone who gets how hard it is.  Someone who has to fight for every pound or inch lost.  I’m living proof that perfection is not required, just a willingness to do the work, to show up, every single day.  Celebrating both scale and non-scale victories is sweeter when done with people who truly want the best results for you.  I love my challenge group because it’s not just about physical change.  There is a heart change, a mind change, a willingness to believe in yourself because other people believe in you and are walking alongside you, cheering you on.  Where I saw failure, I now see opportunity.  I’m excited to embark on my new journey, this new stage in my life.  I’m scared to share it.  I’m terrified of not living up to my own expectations.  I’m even more terrified of letting my team down. I feel I’ve found a beautiful way to share my journey, help others while doing what I love most, writing about it.  I will still write about other things, participate in my writing challenge groups, share my thoughts and insights, but I’m focusing my energies primarily on my health and fitness journey.  Even giving my blog and social media accounts a bit of a face lift, revitalizing my writing and sharing space with a new look and a new name.

I struggle with this concept that I could possibly know or understand what God wants for my life.  I know that in those quiet moments of prayer and reflection, this direction, this path feels right.  I feel God is telling me that I am the right person.  This is the right time.  And I’m in the right place.  ❤

If you are interested in hearing more about my next challenge group, please don’t hesitate to message me!  We have another one starting on November 14th (prep week starting on November 7th) and it’s going to be fantastic.  I’m beyond excited and I don’t get excited about exercise or eating healthy!  So you know it must be good.

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I hope I’m the mouse, not the frog 😛

HAPPY FRIYAY!  ENJOY THE WEEKEND ❤ 

Wickedly Fit – A Halloween Challenge

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“Take care of your body.  It’s the only place you have to live.” Jim Rohn

On Halloween, I completed day 21 of a fitness challenge I joined called “Wickedly Fit.”  I’m all about the packaging, and the title of this fitness challenge group was just too cute to pass up!

My health and fitness goals have been stagnate for awhile now.  I hadn’t gained any weight, but I hadn’t lost any either.  I could see the old patterns of behavior, poor eating choices and a sedentary lifestyle sneaking back into my daily life.

It scared me.

But not enough to take action.  Yet.

I’d been creeping on this one girl’s Instagram account.   I didn’t know her.  I’m not even sure how I ended up following her to be honest.  I loved reading her posts and seeing her photos.  She’s adorable, motivational and inspirational.  I wanted to be a part of whatever she was doing.  It took me 4 months to get up the courage to message her.  Our stories are vastly different, but one thing I’ve learned is that unhealthy means different things to different people and it isn’t always just a reflection of the number on the scale.  In fact, I don’t even have a goal weight anymore and I’m seriously considering throwing out my scale altogether, especially after seeing the results of this latest fitness challenge.

I finally found the courage to message her.  She immediately responded.  Her excitement and enthusiasm were contagious.  Before I even knew what happened, I was signing up for her fitness challenge. For the first time in months, I was thrilled about the prospect of working out and overhauling our pantry and fridge.  I know.  It was crazy.  I didn’t even recognize myself.

I’m not one to get excited about healthy eating or exercise.  Ever.  The only thing working out has ever made me want to do is nap.  I get endorphins for chocolate or Chick Fil A but not from exercise.  It had been just over a year since my Gastric Sleeve surgery.  The surgery had taken me as far as it could, the rest was going to be up to me.

I knew this.

I just didn’t want to know I knew this.

My highest weight recorded was 297 pounds.  I’ve never told anyone that number.  It took me 6 months to lose 10 pounds and that’s when I decided to look into Gastric Sleeve surgery.  When I decided to go in for surgery, I was down to 287.5 pounds.  The date was July 21, 2015.  My surgery date was August 19, 2015.  By January 2016, I was down to 216 pounds.  I lost 71.5 pounds in 6 months.  Unfortunately, there were side effects.  My hair thinned out, at an alarming rate.  I lost muscle and I found myself feeling low on energy and motivation.  My periods, while much improved, were still bad and irregular.  I lost another 10 pounds over the next few months, but by May of 2016, I had stalled out.  I didn’t exercise over the summer and I was starting to panic that I was going to eventually put all the weight back on.  Gastric sleeve surgery gave me an internal control over portion size, but I was filling up on all the wrong things and wasn’t getting the vitamins and nutrients my body needed.  I felt run down and worn out.  Not to mention, disgusted with myself.  Did I really put myself through all this only to quit, to fail?

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Was I going to be THAT girl again?

I hope not.

No, I definitely did not want to fail (nor did I want to see my chins having chins)!

So I gathered my courage and messaged this girl to find out what this Wickedly Fit program was all about.

I received access to a Facebook accountability group (my favorite part).  This group of women kept me going day after day.  They were positive and encouraging.  They were open and honest about their struggles and challenges.  We celebrated non-scale victories, participated in daily challenge questions/activities and posted all sorts of wonderful food porn (the clean and healthy kind).  I wasn’t intimidated by this group at all.  Quite the opposite in fact. I found myself sharing and opening up about my own struggles and daily challenges and even victories.  I found myself bolstered and encouraged and being a part of this special group of ladies gave me the motivation I needed to complete this 21 day challenge.

I also received a 30 day supply of Shakeology and the 21 Day Fix workout program and eating plan, complete with portion control containers.  This whole program is facilitated by Beachbody.  I was familiar with their programs, and had used them to bounce back in shape after my youngest daughter was born.  I knew they worked.  I knew it wasn’t a quick fix.  I knew it would take hard work and dedication on my part.

I was ready.

Sort of.

I mean, I paid for it.  So I’d better be ready.  I was nervous though…

Failure.  My biggest fear.  Always hovering over me like the Grim Reaper.  Whispering negative words of discouragement in my ear, making me doubt myself.  This particular demon has always plagued me, but I was learning to fight back.  I was learning to stifle and smother those negative thoughts and feelings.  I have good days and bad days.  Days when I see all that I have accomplished and days when I only see the ways in which I have failed. Before my surgery, I would binge eat those feelings.  Now, I binge watch Netflix.  Not quite the trade I should be making.  I know.  But still…a slight improvement.

The “before” picture was taken on Day 1 of the challenge and the “after” picture taken on the last day of the challenge.  21 days total.  I lost 3 1/2 inches overall.  I can definitely see subtle changes and I hope you see them too.  Naturally, I lost the most inches in my chest. Just proving that my boobs are the first thing to go when I lose weight.  Actually, despite losing 3 1/2 inches, I gained 3 pounds.  I weighed before I measured and I was devastated.  I almost didn’t even take my measurements, but I’m so glad I did.  I’ve never been one to record my measurements, but this 21 day challenge made a believer out of me.  I could see noticeable differences in how my clothes fit and how I felt that just wasn’t reflected on the scale.

It was a dark moment, and one that in the past I would have responded to by raiding the pantry.  Instead, I chose to reach out to my challenge group through Facebook.  Post my results and reveal what I considered to be a failure, the gaining of 3 pounds.  I’ve since adjusted my perceptions and I’m super proud of the 3 1/2 inches I lost.  I can’t wait for my next challenge group to start!  Despite what my scale would have me believe, I am transforming my body, making positive changes, gaining strength and confidence.

I’ve got this!

Today.

Tomorrow might be a different story.  But I’ll deal with tomorrow…tomorrow.

The last year of my life was about losing the weight and finding myself.  This next year, I want to focus on living a healthy lifestyle, strengthening my body, mind and soul in new and different ways.  Yes, I still have weight I want to lose, but I want to focus less on the scale and more on building strength and flexibility, pushing my body in ways I never imagined I’d be able to do again.  I want to transform myself physically, mentally and spiritually.  I want to develop attainable goals and then smash through them.  I want to redefine what beauty and success mean to me, not measured by what others think or believe, but about what works for me.

One day at a time.

I want to share my journey and experiences with others.  I draw strength from putting myself out there, as terrifying as it can be.  I hope that maybe someone reading this will be inspired or encouraged, reach out either to me or someone else.  I hope that maybe they won’t feel alone or afraid.  Our goals might be different.  Our struggles, challenges and motivations might be different.  At the end of the day, we all want to be the best versions of ourselves.  We all have desires, wants and needs.  Things we want to accomplish.  Let’s do it together ❤

Weighing In

When last I left you, I told you about my decision to have Gastric Sleeve surgery.  My insurance company required a certain number of meetings between myself, a nutritionist and a therapist.  It took over 3 months from the time I decided to have the surgery and the date the actual surgery took place.

I met my surgeon, Dr. Russ Birdwell.  He put me immediately at ease, not too mention he was easy on the eyes and he enjoys Hockey, Football and working on his aquarium.  Or so I heard.  From a friend. Named Google.  It’s not stalking if you can google it.  I read that somewhere.

My starting weight was 287.5 pounds.  It doesn’t get any easier sharing that number.  On surgery day, I weighed 266.2 pounds.  I’ll be honest the majority of that weight was lost during the 14 day fast prior to surgery.  The weeks preceding the fast, I didn’t gain any weight, but I didn’t really lose any weight either.  I’ve mentioned before that I’m an emotional eater.  I eat when I’m bored, sad, happy or angry.  So, pretty much all the time unless I’m asleep.  I don’t remember the last time I ate because I was actually hungry.  It was important to make myself aware of these behaviors, work on my portion control and make better food choices in general.  I worked on eating more slowly and chewing my food thoroughly.    Practicing these habits now, would help during my recovery period.

I wasn’t worried about the fast once I learned the reason it was necessary.  During surgery, they have to move the liver to access the stomach.  It lowers complications if your liver is small and malleable.  Complications are bad.  I didn’t want complications.  My liver would have won Best Liver in a Laparoscopic Surgery award.  My doctor would have wanted to date me if I was single, that’s how slinky and attractive my liver looked.  Things just got weird.  Moving on…

During the fast, you can have 3 shakes per day.  They give you a list of acceptable protein shakes, and I picked EAS carb control in chocolate.  You could also have sugar-free clear liquids and broths.  I lived off jello, popsicles and protein shakes.  Also water.  Lots and lots of water.  I hate water.  Surprisingly, it didn’t suck, cause you know…liver.  Although, I can’t look at jello now without throwing up in my mouth a little.

I didn’t exercise during this time.  Honestly, existing on less than 500 calories a day, walking to the fridge felt like marathon training.  My iron levels were low, so he had me taking Iron Supplements as well as a daily multi-vitamin.  They take vials and vials of blood and run a battery of tests to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible during surgery.

Surgery day has finally arrived! I’ve lost 21.3 pounds and I’m both excited and nervous for this next chapter of my life to begin.  Hopefully, a thinner and healthier chapter.  I make sure to talk to each of my kids, just in case…  I don’t want to have these morbid thoughts, but one of the complications is death.  I wanted to make sure that if I was going to have last words, they were “I love you.”  Also, that Jerry knew I wanted to be cremated.  We don’t agree on this issue, so I was adamant he promise to cremate me, not bury me.  If he didn’t, I would haunt him for the rest of his life in a scary Poltergeist kinda way, not in a comedic Ghostbuster kinda way or sweet Casper kinda way.  Also, if he wanted, he could turn my ashes into a diamond and wear me.  What?  That’s a thing.

The surgery was successful, zero complications.  Yay me!  Yay my sexy liver for being all cooperative!

Then I came out of anesthesia.  My first thought was that something went terribly wrong.  The pain.  I’m having a heart attack.  Something isn’t right.  All I can do is cry.  There is a nurse.  She’s mean to me, tells me they just gave me morphine.  It’s not working.  I’m convinced I’m dying, I start to hyperventilate.  I start throwing up.  Or dry heaving really.  It’s horrible.

I wake up again in my room.  There is my husband and a nice nurse.  She tells me the pain I’m feeling is gas from all the air they pumped into my stomach and that the best relief would be to walk around.

Walk around?!?!  But I’m dying.  I know it.  No one ever in the history of the world has experienced pain like this.  Why is my husband just standing there!  He should be yelling at the nurses to DO something!

I’d whine and complain more but I’m too busy throwing up.  Again.  They keep insisting walking will help.  So I walk.  Throw up.  Walk some more.  The pain might be lessening.  Less of an elephant sitting on my chest, more of a hippo maybe.  Do hippos weigh less than elephants?  I think so.  Maybe the walking is helping.

I’m feeling slightly better.  I might have been a tad dramatic before.  Ignore me.  I’m not a good patient.  I have a very low pain tolerance.  Those poor nurses.  I’m afraid to look at my stomach, I don’t want to see the incisions.  I can’t stop throwing up, which although painful and unpleasant, does help alleviate the gas pains.

I’m kept overnight, to ensure there are no complications.  Apparently, pain, gas and vomiting aren’t complications, but side effects… Before I’m allowed to go home, I have to have a scan done to make sure everything looks good.  I have to drink this dye, which I can’t keep down.  I keep throwing it back up.  Somehow, I manage to keep enough down to do the scan.  I’ve lost all dignity at this point.  I just want to go home.  I’m a terrible patient.  They probably want me to go home too. The only thing I’ll miss are the leg massager things you get to wear to keep blood clots from forming.  Those things were awesome.

I’m finally able to keep down water.  I take teensy tiny sips.  I pretty much exist on water for the 1st 4 days or so.  Every week I’m allowed to add foods to my diet, starting with clear liquids and slowly adding solids.  They recommend you do it slowly so you know exactly what foods you tolerate and which ones you don’t.  Once I got home, the vomiting finally stopped and hasn’t been an issue since.  I’m careful to eat slow and stop when I’m full.  Jerry still asks me “is that all you’re going to eat?”  Sigh.

Two weeks post-op, I see Dr. Birdwell for my follow up.  My incisions are healing nicely.  I weigh 254.3.  I’ve lost another 11.9 pounds.  A total of 33.2 pounds lost.

As soon as I’m released to exercise, I begin walking and I join a boot camp, Camp Gladiator.  I hate exercise.  I’m never going to love it.  It will always be a struggle and I have to make myself go.  I’ve accepted this and it’s ok.  I like how exercise makes me feel.  I love getting stronger.  I love the endurance I’m building.  I’m much more active with my kids.  These are the benefits and what keeps me motivated.  It’s enough, for now.

My current weight is 220.2.  A total of 67.3 pounds lost since July 21, 2015.  The pic on the left is today, the one on the right is my DL photo from 2014 and the closest to my max weight that I could find.  Next time I do a gnarly close-up, I’ll have to wear makeup. I apologize.  First all the liver and vomit talk and now these pics…  I hope you aren’t eating.

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Here is a current picture in my workout clothes.  I’ll start tracking monthly from this point until I reach my goal weight with photos in addition to my weekly weigh-ins.  I wish I had the same photo taken here at my max weight, but as I’ve mentioned, I did everything possible to avoid cameras or mirrors.

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My goal is to reach 145 pounds (height is 5 ft 4 in).  I’m halfway there.  I know it’s going to get harder from here on out, and I’m hoping that posting monthly updates on my blog will help keep my momentum and accountability.  I’m still losing anywhere from 1-3 pounds per week.  I’ve been slacking in the exercise department with the busy Christmas rush, only walking 1-3 times per week.  Camp Gladiator starts back up in January, so I plan to hit the New Year running…or rather huffing and puffing.

I couldn’t post every detail of my surgery or recovery here, or this blog would be like 3,000 words and who has time for that!  If you are considering the surgery, or have questions for me, please feel free to ask.

Thank you for the encouraging words, you have no idea how much it helps keep me motivated on this journey ❤

Till next time…

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays everyone!

xoxo 

Super Sizin’

It feels like my weight has always been an issue for me.  I’ve blogged about it a few times, addressing it with self-deprecating humor.  Poked fun at myself and my struggles.  It’s probably the one area of my life where I haven’t been completely and brutally honest.  I’m married to a guy who buys his shirts in a “smedium” so they fit nice and tight.  I endure the fitness jokes about his “gun show”.  I’m very often the author of the jokes.  I’ve actually had people ask if he was my son.  MY SON?! For the record, he has waaaaaaay more gray hair and wrinkles than I do.  Although sometimes the hairs that sprout randomly on my face/body pop up gray, and one time even sort of ombre, starting out dark but gradually softening to a silvery gray color.  It was quite pretty, but I still plucked it.  Now everyone reading this will be checking me out for wayward hairs…awkward.  Anyway, I digress…

I’m the fat girl married to this specimen of hard work and determination (he’ll probably be upset I didn’t ask him to whip off his shirt and pose for a more recent pic cause surely his biceps and pecs have grown…as have his love handles *snicker*)  As he reads that last bit, he will gasp in outrage, run to the closest mirror and inspect his “love handles” and then I’ll spend the rest of my weekend reassuring him that he doesn’t actually have any…  I don’t mean to make him sound vain…well, I mean…  Listen, we all have our issues.

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Don’t get me wrong, my husband works hard to achieve his goals and he’s NEVER EVER made me feel ashamed about my weight.  He loves me and even though I’m literally twice the woman he married, he’s never made me feel ugly or unwanted.

I don’t want to focus on how the weight piled on, but on what happened once I decided enough was enough.  I was surprisingly healthy for someone who weighed at my heaviest, 287 pounds.  It feels shocking to write that number down.  I wish I had pictures, so I could better measure my progress as more than just numbers on a scale, or the size of my pants, but when you hate how you look, you go to extreme measures to avoid looking in the mirror or having your photo taken.  The most recent photo I could find was from 2012, and I was probably about 270 pounds in this picture.

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I didn’t have high blood pressure or diabetes, although it was probably only a matter of time before I was plagued with one if not both.  My feet and ankles stayed swollen.  I didn’t fit comfortably in movie theater seats or restaurant booths.  I wore a size 26 pants and 22/24 tops.  My biggest issue was my dysfunctional uterus.  Yeah, that’s actually the term they gave me in the hospital.  Even my uterus was dysfunctional.  Oh boy.  I won’t go into the details, but let’s just say that sometimes I felt like a walking crime scene.  I had maybe 4-5 days out of the month where I wasn’t sporting some type of feminine hygiene product.  I had problems with cysts and experienced a few very scary weeks when I thought they might be cancerous.  Low iron was often an issue which contributed to my constant exhaustion and low energy.  Short of having my uterus and/or ovaries removed, the best overall treatment was losing weight.  I discussed it at length with my OBGYN and she recommended weight loss surgery.

I had considered it before, but it felt like cheating.  I just needed more discipline, more self-control.  No one ever lost weight sitting on their couch and eating Chick-Fil-A, pizza and chocolate.  Did they?  If you know someone…?  I’ve tried every diet that exists, but if I didn’t drop at least 2 pounds a week the 1st month, I’d give up, discouraged yet again and probably adding 10 more pounds.  Over and over again the cycle repeated itself.  I spent one whole year training for a 10k and eating healthier only to lose a mere 15 lbs.  FIFTEEN pounds.  Over a YEAR.  I can’t begin to describe how defeated I felt.  I discovered that insurance would cover the surgery, and after many discussions and much prayer on the subject, I decided to go for it.

It’s a process.  It took over 3 months from the time I decided to have the surgery, picked the exact kind of surgery and the surgeon, until my surgery day arrived.  Insurance requires you meet with a mental health professional and a nutritionist.  Surgery is not the quick-fix I thought it was at all.  You have to demonstrate an eagerness and diligence for eating healthy and staying active prior to surgery.  You don’t necessarily have to lose weight, but they don’t want you gaining more weight.  The months preceding the surgery shouldn’t be treated as a free-for-all, eating anything and everything in your path.  I’m an emotional eater, so one of my challenges was to reprogram my brain to not use food as comfort or filler.  It was important to implement strategies to deal with those moments and understand my triggers.  The surgery would only be successful (long-term) if I changed the behaviors that got me here in the first place.

I decided on Gastric Sleeve surgery.  It seemed to have the least post-surgery complications and didn’t seem as invasive as the Gastric Bypass, if making four incisions on your belly and lifting your liver to get to your stomach can be considered “less-invasive.”

They make you feel out this questionnaire which felt like 100 pages and then they plug your answers into a computer and get some kind of assessment on your personality and state of mind.  At my last appointment with my therapist, she told me we wouldn’t need to meet again unless she had concerns over the assessment or I initiated an appointment, so imagine my panic when I got a call to set up a meeting with her prior to my surgery.

Apparently, and this will be shocking to many of you, I have an issue with authority.  She was concerned this might pose problems with me when it came to following post-op instructions.  I quickly explained that while yes I am the kind of person that questions EVERYTHING and I never just do what I’m told without understanding exactly why and only IF I agree, when it comes to things like death, I can be surprisingly acquiescent.  I wanted to be successful more than I’d ever wanted anything else in the world.  I never wanted to see 287 pounds on the scale again, and I certainly didn’t want to end up a statistic…

TO BE CONTINUED…