The Challenge Never Stops

If you are a long-time reader of this blog, you are already aware of the fact that I had gastric bypass surgery in 2009.  If you haven’t read that story and are curious about it, you can read it here.

So, I’m three years out now.  Most folks say that once you get to this point, you’re pretty much like every one else when it comes to eating, drinking and diet and exercise. Meaning that if you haven’t set up healthy habits in the first two years after your surgery you’ve probably just wasted a lot of time and money having the surgery because you’ve lost the leg up it gives you in terms of weight loss and getting healthy.

So, how am I doing?


Well, pretty good, I think.  I’ll be perfectly honest here. I have slipped some bad habits back in (like sweet treats and some sugar here and there) and, because of that I’ve paid the price.  In the past year I’ve gained about ten pounds.  Enough to give me a wake-up call.  Enough to remind me that this is not what I want and not where I want to be.

Enough to scare me into realizing that this really is a never-ending challenge. That I can’t get to my goal weight and just coast from that point on.  That I have to stay vigilant and aware of every.single.bite I put in my mouth. And that I have to remain active (in spite of the heat!) and conscious of the things that trigger me to overeat and seek comfort in food.

So, I’ve given myself a little pep talk, refocused my energies and tried to restart some good habits, replacing the bad ones that have crept back into my life.

I’m back to drinking at least one protein shake a day.  I usually have this for breakfast because I found that I was eating lots of carbs for breakfast – toast, cereal, etc. and so having a protein shake helps me to eliminate that temptation and to start the day with a good boost of protein and some fruits, too.

I’ve also been trying to focus more on eating more fruits and salads and less carbohydrates in general.  I find that when I eat any carbs, I crave more. It’s like a never-satisfied beast within me. So, eliminating those as much as possible really helps me to stay in control and be less tempted to eat what can quickly become large amounts of pretzels, breads, etc.


On the exercise front, Big Girl and I had planned to start walking for 30 minutes every morning. But that was before the Great Heat Wave hit the South.  And walking at any time of the day right now seems like a crazy idea. So, what we’ve been doing instead is swimming every day. Which has actually been really nice.  We head down every afternoon after I finish my work day and I swim for about 30 minutes or so (laps) and then just paddle around while the girls swim.  We usually spend at least an hour (sometimes two) in the pool every day and I’ve found that the exercise is helping significantly with my energy levels, sleep, and achy joints. And it is way more fun than walking in 100 degree temperatures!

I’ve remained pretty much on plan with my supplements – multivitamins, B12, D3 and calcium/iron supplements. I find that the days I forget to take these I feel like a train with no engine and so it’s just not worth getting lazy or forgetful with these. It truly is the difference, for me, between having the get-up-and-go to live life and not.  And I don’t really have the luxury of “not” so I take them. Every day.

All of this has been working well. I’ve lost about four pounds in the last two weeks.  So, I realize, yet again, that this is a never-ending challenge. I can’t get complacent or I will find myself with the pounds creeping on again.  I realize that I have to stay the course, even if some days it is not very fun to do so.  I realize I feel so much better when I do.

The good news, though, is that I CAN do this.  And I have proven to myself that I can lose weight by doing this when I do slip up and put on a few pounds.  That was actually something I was really worried about – that I would not be able to lose weight if I gained any (It used to be really, really hard for me to lose any weight) 

So, I feel much more empowered.  I am not going to freak out at a few extra pounds. I’ll just refocus, reset, and do what I know I need to so that I can get back on track.

I’ll just keep swimming – just keep swimming – just keep swimming…

I did it!

So, if you have read my blog for any amount of time, you are aware that I had gastric bypass surgery in 2010.  (you can read the whole back story here)

One of the things that led me to this dramatic change was an increasing awareness that I wasn’t able to do all the things I wanted to do – I found myself, one Saturday, all alone at home while my family went on a hike together.

A hike I wanted, desperately, to do, but knew that, at my size, I probably couldn’t do.  (or at least, if I even attempted it, I’d embarrass myself and my family with my huffing, puffing and bajillion stops I’d have to make)

It was then that I decided that things had to change.

And soon. (you can read that story here)

The last two years have been an amazing journey.  I have been through so many changes, inside and out, and I really feel like a completely different person.

I still struggle with my eating (and why I eat) and have to maintain a constant vigil on what I put in my mouth – that will never change. (and I don’t really want it to. It keeps me aware and reminds me of why I did what I did.)

However, one thing that I haven’t attempted yet was that hike.

And I did it.

On New Year’s Day.

What a fitting way to kick off a new year.

I didn’t wake up thinking “today is the day I’m going to hike that mountain.”

I hadn’t really even thought about it.

But, as life sometimes does, things just worked out to where that is what I found myself doing on Sunday afternoon.

I had mentioned to SuperMan that I wanted to go for a walk and why didn’t we take the kids hiking. He suggested the mountain we live on (or next to, depending on your geographical opinions) and I said sure.


It wasn’t until we were walking the trail that I realized WHAT I WAS DOING.


HEY! (I thought)



And not only did I walk it… I did it pretty quickly and with only a few stops along the way to catch my breath!

I was so excited!


I can’t begin to tell you the sense of accomplishment and “full-circled-ness” that I had as we reached the top of the mountain that afternoon. As I stood there looking out over the valley I marveled at the fact that I had actually accomplished something that had so intimidated me two years ago that I had hidden at home in shame.  I was overwhelmed and humbled at the thought of the journey I’ve been on – and reinvigorated to go the next stage of the journey and KEEP ON GOING.


I sat there on the rocks and just marveled at myself. I had no idea, when I started this weight loss journey two years ago, if I really COULD do this. I feared I’d have the surgery and still be a fat failure. As I sat there I realized I am a stronger person that I sometimes give myself credit for. Stronger and more determined.


It felt SO GOOD.  I am PROUD of myself. And that is a nice feeling.

I still have some weight to lose. I am still not where I want to be. I got a little sidetracked last year when I hit a size and thought “wow! THIS is cool.” and then promptly quit doing a lot of the things I was doing.


But, I’m reinvigorated and re-motivated. I’m ready. I’m willing. and I’m most definitely able.

The mountain may not be Everest, but it seemed that way to me two years ago. It might as well have been Everest for the insurmountability it seemed to have to me.  Now, the mountain represents something entirely different to me.

It represents accomplishment. It represents do-ability. It represents a strength I didn’t know I had.  And it will remind me of the things I can do even when I think I can’t.

2012 is going to be even better.

Just wait.

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 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.

Enhanced by Zemanta

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.

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.