a milestone

2010 Family Album - Page 037

If anyone had told me a year ago that I would be 100 pounds lighter, healthier, and happier, I would never have believed them. Losing 100 pounds seemed like an impossible dream, and health and happiness, well, I thought I had those – even though I had no idea just how much I had to gain. So here I am nine months post surgery and feeling like a totally new person. I am learning to love my "new" self and to treat myself with kindness and respect and not disinterest and neglect. It's amazing the changes you go through as you shed the weight. It's not just body fat you lose.

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It’s OK to be proud

One thing that has really struck me – especially lately – is how I react to people’s comments about my weight loss.

MP900400498 On the one hand, I am thrilled that people notice and comment.

On the other, I am a little uncomfortable at their attention and praise.

I started thinking about this last night. Wondering why it is so hard for me to accept praise for the progress I’ve made.

People ask me “aren’t you proud of yourself?” and I don’t know how to respond.

Am I?

I don’t know. I guess.  When I stop and really think about it, yes, I guess I am.

But it has all been relatively easy and so it feels weird to think that this is something to be proud of.  I mean, losing weight (in the past) has been a painful, long, arduous journey for me.

This?  This has been a cakewalk.  Once I recovered from the surgery and started eating “real” food, it’s been fairly simple.

I know what I can eat.

I know what I can’t.

As long as I eat what I’m supposed to and stay away what I’m not supposed to eat, I do just fine. I feel great, have tons of energy, and the weight falls off seemingly effortlessly.

I guess there is a part of me that feels like anything that is this simple shouldn’t be something to be proud of.

I mean, to me, the hard part was getting up the nerve to have the surgery. THAT was scary. THAT was difficult.  This? This isn’t so bad.

But, as I stood looking at myself in the mirror last night – wearing a favorite shirt that is now half-again too big for me (you could put two of me in there) it dawned on me

I have lost a LOT of weight.  Almost 100 lbs.

And that IS a pretty big deal.

Something to be proud of.

Even though I had the tool of the bypass to help me, I have still accomplished this through discipline, patience, dedication and work.

So, I’m not selling myself short anymore.

I AM PROUD.

I want to shout it from the rooftops:  LOOK AT ME.  LOOK WHAT I DID.

The new me is giving myself permission to love myself enough to be proud of what I’ve accomplished.  And permission to look towards the future, set some new goals, and forge ahead.

Yep. It’s OK to be proud.

I’ve come a long way, baby.

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Not-so-Wordless Wednesday

So, today is supposed to be a Wordless Wednesday post, but I have some thoughts to share with you that (sort of) go along with the photos I want to share.

IMG_20101012_181235 IMG_20101012_181042 We went to the fair yesterday, the girls and I.  This was the first time in a few years that I’d been to the fair, but SuperMan was working late and the only good night to go this week was last night. I wasn’t looking forward to it, dreading it actually, but I “sucked it up” and took them.  My neighbor (and good friend) went with me so that our kids could ride the rides together and we’d have moral support as well.  I was thinking I was going to need it.

You see, in years past, I have hated the fair. Yes, hated it.

I hated the noise. I hated the crowds.

I hated the carnies. I hated the smells.

I hated the walking. I hated the sensory overload.

It was misery in action for me.

I would go, only to please my family, but couldn’t wait to leave and cringing inside the whole time.

Only yesterday was different.

And I think it is because I am different these days.

Yesterday was fun.

Yes, there were crowds of scary people (where do all those weirdos come from anyway?)

Yes, there was a lot of noise and smelly smells and weird, creepy carnival people.

There was all of that.

But, somehow, yesterday, it was fun.

I loved watching my kids on the rides.

I loved watching them get their faces painted.

I loved hanging out with my friends and running into other friends (hi, Leigh Ann!)

I loved the crazy robot who wanted to “double-dog dare” us

I loved watching the rescue dogs do their frisbee tricks.

Imagine that.

I loved the fair.

Oh, and the best part?  I wasn’t exhausted when we got home. My feet weren’t aching and I didn’t feel like I’d just climbed Mt. Everest.

Yes, things are definitely different these days.

And I like it this way.

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Eight Months

Many of you have been asking for some updated pictures – so I thought I’d share the recent ones I recruited SuperMan to take of me to mark my eighth month post-surgery.

To set the stage…

One month post surgery:

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And in July (five months out)

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And this week (eight months out)IMG_0031

 

I still have a little ways to go, but I am finally starting to feel like I look on the outside like the girl I feel I am on the inside (well,I don’t feel so wrinkled on the inside, but I guess that is what happens when you get over forty)

Before and… during (not AFTER just yet)

Several of you have asked to see some photos of my body-in-progress as I’m journeying along to my new self.

I haven’t been all that diligent about taking pictures of myself on a regular basis. I think I am so used to NOT wanting pictures of me that I have just completely forgotten to.

But last week, while I was at Mom’s, I knew I just HAD to have a picture…

You see, Mom found a dress that I last wore when I attended a friend’s wedding – ten years ago. I was just a few weeks pregnant with Big Girl at the time (although I didn’t know it yet) and I think that was the last time I was even remotely “skinny.”

So, just for fun, I tried on the dress last Saturday night. Imagine my surprise when it actually FIT!! WOW!

DSCN0006_edited-1Not the most flattering picture in terms of my hair/face (I was hot & tired) but I am so happy about the BODY part that I don’t really care. 🙂

This is the night before surgery:

Surgery

And five months later:

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I still have a ways to go, but it sure feels nice to see some progress.

 

Is that really you in there?

I’m approaching the five month anniversary of my surgery (well, in two weeks, anyway) and to date, I’ve lost about seventy pounds.  It is really hard to grasp that – almost inconceivable to me that I have lost that much weight.

Having this surgery has been such a life changing thing for me.  Life changing in so, so many good ways.

I’m five months out and I can’t believe how much energy I have. I can’t believe how good I feel – ALL THE TIME. I call myself the Energizer Bunny… I feel like I can just keep going and going and going…. and it is awesome.

My family says I look ten years younger – I know I feel that way.

It’s funny, though, because I don’t see the physical changes. When I look at my body, I still see someone who is overweight.  Granted, I still have a long way to go to get to my goal weight, but I only see my weight loss in the bagginess of my clothes, not in my body when I look in the mirror. 

It wasn’t until last week that I realized that I don’t really look at myself in the mirror – or at least I hadn’t been really seeing myself in the mirror for a long time.

I walked by a mirror in my house and I thought “Who is THAT?” (I was home alone)

DUH. You, silly. 

I had to stop and just stare. 

THAT is ME?!?  Wow.

I’ve been in such denial (prior to the surgery) about my body that I might look in the mirror to check my outfit or hair, but I didn’t really see myself.  And now, I am having to learn to stop and really focus on looking at myself in the mirror. Really seeing who I am now – so that I can reconcile the person I am becoming with the “me” on the inside who still thinks of herself as the fat girl who was trying so hard to be invisible that she didn’t even see herself anymore.

I was lost in the fat. 

And now I’m finding myself again.

Like coming out of a cocoon.

And it’s a little uncomfortable.  It’s not a familiar feeling. And it’s like looking at a stranger in the mirror and trying to reconcile that THAT is REALLY ME.

I had no idea, before the surgery, that these would be the things that I would struggle with. 

The eating part has been easy.  The exercise not too bad. 

But I had no clue that these changes – reconciling the me inside with the me outside – would be so challenging. It’s challenging in a good way – challenging me to love myself – challenging me to allow myself to be proud of my progress – challenging me to give myself permission to really and truly become the person I want to be – and not be trapped in some role (and body) that belongs to someone I no longer want to be.

It’s a rollercoaster ride these days, but I’m loving every minute of it. I can’t wait to see what is over the next hill.

Starting the Process

This is installment #3 in my story. Follow the links here if you missed Part 1 and 2.

Once I realized it was time to do something, my brain really never let go of the idea of bariatric surgery. I started pestering my friends with questions, doing research online, and thinking seriously about whether or not I was really ready to do something as drastic as surgically rearranging my body to lose weight.

I spent most of the Christmas holiday thinking about it.

And I woke up one morning and decided if I didn’t at least investigate things I would always wonder “What if…” (and I absolutely hate that feeling)

So, the first week of January – as soon as the kids were back in school and life had returned to “normal,” – I was on my way. I started checking out surgeons’ websites and researching their histories and records. I made plans to attend several information sessions.

The first information session I attended was absolutely packed with people. I guess a lot of people had New Year’s resolutions and were there for the same reasons as I was.  I was shocked at the number of people who showed up. I guess a part of me thought that there weren’t that many obese people like me. (why I would think that I have no idea)

I was also very surprised to see that most people were way bigger than I was.  I had several thoughts when I realized that fact.  The first was that I felt bad for them – I knew how bad I felt physically. I couldn’t imagine what it must be like to be even heavier than I was – how that must feel physically and the challenges they must face on a daily basis.  My second thought was something like “Do I really need to be here?” Finally, I felt a little relief to see that I was not alone. In a perverse way, it was comforting to see so many people and know that they were all here for the same reason I was – they had had enough and were ready to make a change.

I was like an eager student, waiting for the seminar to start. I had my pen and notebook ready and had jotted down several questions that I wanted to be sure I had answers to.  There were ladies handing out information packets and I quickly devoured the contents, reading all the information related to their surgery practice and the hospital.

When the session finally started, I was disappointed to see we were going to watch a video first, not hear from a live person.  While the video was very informative and interesting, I couldn’t wait to talk to the surgeon and listen to what he had to say about the surgery options available.  This particular surgeon focused mostly on gastric bypass (Roux-en-Y) and the Lap-Band-type surgeries.  There was a third option discussed (a gastric sleeve) but they made it sound like that was for the seriously obese person. (but, seriously, if you are obese, it’s serious! no matter how big or little you are. but I digress)

Finally, the surgeon came up and started to do his thing.  The very first thing I noticed about him was that he seemed like he didn’t really want to be there.  Now, granted, it was eight at night and he’d probably worked a long day, but this was his lead-generating program. I felt like he should be thrilled to be in a room with forty-something overweight people who were most likely all desperately looking for someone to help them. 

He answered people’s questions, gave them the information they were seeking… but what I started to realize was that he really seemed to be patronizing us. Acting as if we were, I don’t know, stupid or something.  It wasn’t any particular statement – just more of an overall attitude that he had.  I know that surgeons generally think they are gods, but this was the first time I had experienced it first-hand.  How and why would anyone act that way to someone? Especially these people in this room, who obviously had self-esteem issues and were desperately looking for solutions to a life-threatening problem?

It left a bad taste in my mouth.  I wasn’t sure how I wanted to proceed.  There are plenty of fish in the sea and surgeons in town, and I decided I would give this one a chance, but definitely see what else was out there.

In the weeks that followed, my initial reaction was proven to be true.  This was one of those surgeon’s office who made you jump through hoops to get a surgery scheduled.  Some surgeons will make you go through all sorts of “evaluations” (psychological, nutritional, etc.) before they will even meet with you for a consult.  Some require less. 

I had already done my homework and knew what my insurance required.  Which, thankfully, wasn’t very much. Just a letter from my primary-care physician stating the medical necessity of bariatric surgery and my history of weight-related issues.

The surgeon’s office tried to tell me I needed a psychological evaluation, to meet with a nutritionist, a stress-test, and all sorts of other stuff.  They told me I had to have six months of recorded, medically supervised weight loss efforts.  That alone meant that the earliest I could hope for surgery was six months out.  They told me this was all an insurance requirement, not the doctor’s.

I was furious.  I told the surgeon’s assistant that none of this was required by my insurance – that I had already spoken to them and had received the details of what was required – and none of that was.  They stubbornly stuck to their guns and I told them I would be finding another practice to work with.

<next, Finding My Surgeon>

The Final Straw

This is installment two of my story. If you missed the first one, you can find it here .

So, I had been toying with the idea of weight-loss surgery for years… Tossing the idea around in my head and mentioning it casually to family and friends to see what they thought of the idea. 

Most of the time, I was convinced I was just going to be overweight for the rest of my life. I didn’t like the idea, but I figured that I had so much weight to lose that it was an insurmountable obstacle and I should just accept who I was and get on with things.

It wasn’t until the Fall of 2009 that I finally made the decision that it was time to do something.

My daughters had joined a Brownie/Daisy (Girl Scout) troop.  They were enjoying the activities and social events they participated in with the troop.  One of the activities that came up was a hike up the mountain we live nearby.  The girls were so excited.  It was an all-afternoon event, complete with a picnic lunch at the summit.

At first, I was excited, too.

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Then, I realized that the girls wanted their dad and me to hike with them. Then, I was mortified.

There was no way I would be able to make the 2-mile hike up the mountain with a bunch of 6-10 year old girls. I couldn’t even go for a walk in my subdivision with it’s gentle rolling hills without feeling like I was going to pass out.  How could I keep up with a bunch of girls on a 2-mile UPHILL hike?

I told myself it was my asthma (not my weight). I told the girls that with the pollen from the ragweed and goldenrod and my asthma and allergies that I couldn’t go with them.  Their daddy agreed to go so we would be sure they were safe and supervised.  The girls were disappointed, but they understood.

The Saturday came and the girls, their daddy, and another friend, headed off to the mountain.  I stayed at home.

It was the longest, most miserable Saturday I can remember.

All I could think about was that my family was off doing something fantastic, having a great time and making memories together and I was at home alone because I was too unhealthy to go with them.

Was this how it was going to be?

When the girls were little, our activities were confined to things that I could handle. Now that they were bigger, their appetites for adventure were growing. They wanted more hikes, camping, bike riding, all sorts of things I wasn’t sure I could handle.

I was pretty miserable and sad thinking this was the beginning of a time when they’d be off doing things without me rather than with me.

But, slowly, over the next few weeks, I started to think about maybe doing something drastic.  Something I had been mulling over for a long time.

Maybe bariatric surgery was the answer for me after all.

I had had two friends at work who had both undergone bariatric surgery earlier in the year.  They were both doing great and the pictures I saw of them months after surgery took my breath away.  They looked so vibrant and healthy – and skinny!

I started emailing them asking all sorts of questions. I started doing research online.

Maybe I could find a way to get healthy and slimmer.  Maybe there was hope after all.

<next, beginning the pre-surgery process>

Before the Journey Began

I’ve been thinking about bariatric surgery off and on for almost five or six years.  A friend of mine had a bypass five years (or so) ago and I was there with her as she went through the insurance approval process, all of the doctor visits, tests, evaluations and struggles with convincing her family that the surgery was the right thing for her to do.  I cheered for her in those first few months as she recuperated from the surgery. I watched her shrink and find herself in the process of shedding her excess weight.

And the entire time I wondered if maybe it was something I should be doing, too.

But I convinced myself that I was not as heavy as her and that I would never be as desperate as she was to lose weight.  I had just had my second child and I knew that I had a little weight to lose but figured with Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig to help me, I’d be just fine.

Fast forward four years…

My weight has gone up and down (a little) but I have not really managed to lose the baby weight from my second pregnancy.  I look in the mirror and I see my body – round and squishy, my girls say – and I think to myself that maybe this is just how I am supposed to look.  I am a mother, after all, and there are no expectations for me to be supermodel-thin.  I focus on my children and my husband and on making a happy home for them.  I completely ignore my image in the mirror and tell myself that how I look is not really important.

And then I start to realize that I am tired.  All of the time. I’m tired and getting through the day becomes a chore. I wonder if something is wrong with me – if I am sick with some dread disease.  I blame it on my long work days and stressful commute and keep plugging along.

I try Weight Watchers (again – I think this is time number six or seven in my life).  I find I’m not really motivated by the meetings and feel like I know what I need to do but don’t really have the motivation to do it.  It feels as if it is a losing battle to fight.  At this point, I have over 100 lbs that I want to lose. How in the world would I ever accomplish that on Weight Watchers? I have seen success stories where people have done it before but I don’t think I can ever accomplish such a huge feat.

I talk with a friend and tell her I’m thinking about doing something drastic to get the weight off.  I ask her, as we carpool to work in the mornings, what she thinks about gastric bypass surgery.  She is shocked and thinks that there is no way I should do something so drastic.  I let her convince me that it’s ok to be a little overweight and that it’s part of the aging process and of motherhood.

<next, getting closer to my breaking point>

 

There are a few things I haven’t told you

I mentioned a few months ago I was having surgery – but I never shared the details of what, when, why.  That was, at first, because I was not sure I was going to share the details with many, if any, people. 

But, as time goes by, I have come to the realization that keeping it a secret doesn’t really serve any purpose and telling people doesn’t really matter.

So, here goes nothin’

Back in February, I had gastric bypass surgery.  I had come to the decision last fall that I wanted to do something to get a handle on my health and was fortunate enough to be approved for the surgery quickly and things just went from there.

I’ll post my story a little at a time over the next couple weeks – just in case you are interested. Don’t worry, there will still be scrapbooking and mommy posts – I’m not changing the focus of my blog.  I just feel like I am only being partly truthful with you guys when I post these days because there are such major changes happening right now in my life – changes in my body but also in my heart and soul.  I wanted to share the whole story with you so that I can continue to share authentically – and include the stories of the changes I’m experiencing and the new “me” I’m finding as I get healthy and fit.

So, that’s my big secret. 

I’ll tell you why I have hesitated sharing for so long –originally it was because I was embarrassed and a little ashamed.  I mean, this is something I never thought I would do… but then again, I never thought I’d get as big or as unhealthy as I did, either.  And, I admit, I struggled with feeling like I was “cheating” a little by having the surgery.

I don’t feel that way anymore. 

This is not cheating. It’s still a daily struggle.  It’s still hard to lose the weight.  It’s just a little easier now because I have another tool in my arsenal as I fight the battle against obesity and ill health.  But I still have to be diligent about every thing I put in my mouth – even more so now post-surgery, than I ever was before. 

I am learning the difference between fueling my body and feeding my body.  Two very different things.  I’m learning that it’s more important to fill my body with wholesome, whole, unprocessed foods, than it is to indulge in those treats I used to think I deserved. Now I know I deserve better.  I deserve good health, energy, happiness and a long life. 

I am rejoicing in the newfound energy I have.  I am loving the fact that at the end of the day, I am tired, but it is a good tired, the kind that comes from knowing you have earned the right to be tired.  Not the kind that comes at the beginning of the day as you rise out of the bed, sick and tired and wondering how you are going to make it through another day. 

So, I’ll probably share tidbits from time to time – letting you know about my journey.  I hope you don’t mind. You see, this blog is as much my journal as it is a place to share with you.  It helps me organize my thoughts and feelings and sort things out. Sometimes they aren’t “real” until I see them on the blog.

So, stay tuned… more of my story is to come.