Jillian Michaels kicked my abs

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One of the “requirements” you are supposed to agree to when you have bariatric surgery is that you will (brace yourself) exercise after surgery.  (shocking, I know)

Before surgery, you are so anxious to get approved and have the surgery, I think you’d agree to just about anything…

“You want my first born child? Yeah. Sure. No worries. When is the surgery?”

Afterwards, in the first few weeks and months you are so excited about the changes your body is undergoing that exercising is a novelty.  Everything feels different, moves differently, exercising is kind of fun… just to see how things work again.

Then, reality sets in.

LIFE sets in.

And then you have to dig deep and find the wherewithal to keep exercising and banish the excuses that are oh-so-easy to creep into your life.

And let’s face it. Most of us who are candidates for bariatric surgery are not generally the exercising type.  If we were, we might not have been in that position to begin with, knowwhatimean?

So, as someone who has historically avoided exercise like it was plague-carrying, this has been somewhat of an adjustment for me.

Add to that the fact that it’s been cold, wet and generally nasty this winter and I will confess that I haven’t been doing much exercising. (and I’ve got good excuses for other days, too, if you want to hear them – I’m full of ‘em)

But I have decided that if I want to maintain this beautiful new body I have and maintain this vim, vigor, and vitality I have found, then I must perform some maintenance on said body.


But a necessary reality I must face.

So, I have decided that I’m going to share this with you – for a few reasons.

  • One – it holds me accountable. I will be less likely to slack off if I have to report to you.
  • Two – it might encourage you to dig deep and find yourself a way to add more healthy movement into your own life.
  • and Finally – it should prove ample fodder for the silly side of this blog.

and, that, we know, is the most important reason of all.

Which brings us to the topic alluded to in the title of this post.

The she-devil known as Jillian Michaels.

For those of you who may not know who she is – she is the reigning Princess of Torture on the Biggest Loser TV show in the US.  She is also building a rapidly-growing empire of exercise videos and paraphernalia.

image Including this CD, which I purchased this week with the intention of giving it a whirl.

I had seen a mom doing the workout in the lobby of the dance studio the other night (while her daughter was in class in another room – and that is a story in and of itself – how brave is she to do her exercise in the lobby of the dance studio!?!)

It didn’t look too scary or intimidating and I couldn’t help but wonder if my new body could do those moves, too.

So, while I was in Target the other day, I picked it up.  The girls and I watched it first to see if we thought it would be too impossible.  They were bouncing all over the place, itching to do the exercises right along with Jillian.  I very quickly decided I needed to do it the first few times by myself so that I didn’t suffer the ultimate humiliation of crying or not being able to finish (or crying) in front of my children.

So, I got up the next day determined to give it a whirl. How bad could it be?

Let me summarize it this way. I am sure I would’ve been great entertainment if I had been doing the exercises in a room with a one-way mirror and you were on the other side watching me. I’m quite sure  you’d have laughed your abs off. 😉

I have to say, this was an awesome workout, though.  It is based on a set of rotations that are 3 minutes of cardio, 2 minutes of weights and 1 minute of ab work.  And you do that 5-minute set four times, for a total of 20 minutes.  And I don’t think you could do more than 20 minutes of this. I know I couldn’t. I barely made it through the 20!

The plan is clever, though.  She keeps you moving and just when you think you are, literally, going to die, she changes things up and you do something different. It keeps your muscles engaged, constantly, your heart rate up, and your mind whirling.

For example, I discovered today that you might actually pass out from doing jumping jacks. 

And that jumping rope doesn’t actually require a rope (who knew?)

And that there are four different forms of torture known as “crunches” (not just one – how lucky are we?)

And I learned that three pound weights weigh a heck of a lot more than three pounds after you sling them up and down about forty bajillion times while you are squatting down like you have to pee in the woods. 

Oh.my.gosh.  THAT one was painful.

As I said, I’m sure I was very entertaining.

But, you know what? I was invigorated, energized and revved up when I was done.

(I was also sweating like a pig in South Georgia in July)

And now? Several hours later?

Well, my legs are jello, my arms scream in protest when I try to write anything, and I think my abdominal muscles are not speaking to me anymore.

But you know what that means?

It worked.  And I worked.

And I love that.

So, while I will most likely cuss Jillian out yet again tomorrow (if I can get out of bed in the morning, that is) I will do it again.  And again the next day. and the next. 

If it works, I’m all for it.

I’ll keep you posted.

(unless my arms fall off during the night and run away from home – then I’ll have to dictate it to Big Girl and she can fill you in)

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go up the stairs in a sitting position because my quadriceps (thighs) are on strike for the remainder of the day.

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>