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?

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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.

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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.

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

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HEY! (I thought)

I’M WALKING THIS TRAIL!  THIS VERY SAME TRAIL I WAS SO STINKIN’ AFRAID OF TWO YEARS AGO!

OH.MY.GOSH!

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

a milestone

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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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