Friday, May 23, 2014

Habits of highly successful people

In the past year or so, I've let old habits creep back into my life and I have the regain to show for it. These past couple of weeks, my focus hasn't been on weight loss specifically, but to break those habits once again.

I had started doing sabotaging things like bringing unhealthy food into the house, regretting it, then rationalizing "Well, it's here, I'll eat it but won't buy any more." It sounds so ridiculous coming from someone who worked so hard to lose 250 pounds, but that's what I was doing. Sometimes I'd pick up a candy bar at the checkout. The vending machine at work, where I work ALONE at night, I might add, was a major draw. So I'm trying to break those habits once again and succeeding very well, I think. Down seven pounds, I'm pretty happy with the results so far, both on the scale and in my brain.

A return to common sense is what's needed here. That's all, nothing more. I do hate it when weight-loss gurus and internet "experts" who comment on weight-loss stories say in frustration, "Just eat less, move more and don't eat junk. It's simple!" It's NOT simple. If it was, no one would have a weight problem. So while it is a matter of common sense, it's not that easy. But I do believe in setting up your surroundings for success. It's not a matter of "just because it's there doesn't mean you have to eat it." People who have a healthy relationship with food say shit like that. For the rest of us, we have to create common sense mindfully. We have to work at it.

I'm no longer sure I'll ever have a normal, healthy relationship with food. When I started this journey, I said all I wanted was to be normal. I wanted to not have to think about food all the fucking time. I mean, think about that; to ensure success, we have to put a lot of thought into it. No other addiction is like that in the way it is with food. We have to constantly think about and carefully plan how much of our crack we can have. Over the years, we can hope to develop good habits and I think most of us do, but it's soooooo easy to fall off that wagon. The world around us is set up for us to fail. We must be mindful at all times. That kinda sucks, but that's just the way it is. Try to find out what triggers you and avoid it as much as you can. I read on bariatric websites and Facebook pages where patients say things like "I now eat because I have to, not because I want to." Lemme tell ya something - that will never be me! LOL! I still love to eat. I will have to be very careful for the rest of my life. And I wonder if people who say things like that ever had an actual food addiction or maybe they've had severe complications with their surgery and it hinders their ability to eat. I dunno. All I know is I find that VERY strange to hear from our community. Kudos to them, but that's not me.

So...breaking bad habits. Yes, that's working. Cross your fingers for me.

Erich and I are moving in late June and over Canada Day weekend. We found a sweet little house with three bedrooms. The basement is rented out, but we will have two floors and full use of the garage, as many as three cars in the driveway and the backyard. I have wanted out of this apartment for YEARS! Yay! We're excited but stressed out about the move, mainly because we can't find many people available to help us over the long weekend. Erich and I are not overflowing with friends - we're both introverts and don't let people in easily - and family is fairly nonexistent's a problem. Add in the fact that my lifting ability is hindered because I'm STILL recovering from this damn tummy tuck and we're starting to feel the stress. I told him I'll put on two binders (LOL) and we'll just do it. No matter what. And no stress eating for me!

My other mission this summer is to attempt to make peace with my batwings. That's the extra skin hanging off my upper arms, for those not familiar with the term. Unless there's a winning lottery ticket somewhere, that skin is staying put. Last weekend, I wore a sleeveless top - without a shrug or sweater! - out in public for the first time since my weight loss. It didn't kill me. People didn't stare, throw stones or chase me down the street with torches and pitchforks. I'm going to do my best to wear them more and more this summer. Swimsuits,, I'm not there yet. The excess skin on my upper thighs is BAD. No, it's really bad. No one needs to see that! I will wear board shorts or something (it needs to be knee length).

But sleeveless, I'm going to try.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Back up the mountain

It's time to get real.

By spending the last nine months sitting on my ass recovering from tummy tuck surgery, recurring sinus infections and a knee injury, I have found myself in a dreaded situation.

"Re-gain" is a term easily found on bariatric message boards and in support groups. Some people try their best to hide it, some ignore it, some justify it, some tackle it head on and get back to the basics of the program to lose it. Weight loss surgery will not make you thin forever; you have to eat well and exercise. There are NO long-term shortcuts.

I've been carrying around 10-15 "extra" pounds for a few years now, but my weight was stabilized so that was ok with me. No, it really was. A lot of times, people who experience massive weight loss will indeed gain a few pounds after reaching their goal weight - the term I've heard for this is "bounceback". Take Biggest Loser winner Rachel Frederickson, who recently made headlines for appearing shockingly thin on the show's finale. Rachel has since gained 20 pounds. I knew that would happen to her and I wasn't surprised at all when it did. When it happened to me - though I was by no means underweight when I reached my goal - I didn't let it worry me too much. Honestly, I thought I looked very drawn and a little strange at my goal weight. I have been ok with my weight for a long time.

But the past year has been tough. Not long before my tummy tuck, I started a new job working afternoon shift and that lifestyle change has been an adjustment. I don't cope well with change; it's an issue for me. And I have a terrible habit of sticking my head in the sand and procrastinating solving problems instead of, you know, actually solving them. Very Scarlett O'Hara: "I won't think about that now. I'll think about that tomorrow."

Do I sound like I'm making excuses? I guess I am. I'm also a defensive person. Basically, I'm a mess! But that has to change. *I* have to change.

The scale was going up. I could see that, I knew it. A few cycles of the trusty 5 Day Pouch Test definitely worked, but it doesn't work if you go right back to eating crap again. It's always been very clear to me that I need to exercise to maintain my weight because I'm not good at abstaining from every single food that's bad for me. I will eat pizza, I will have an occasional sliver of pie. And that's fine - moderation - but I must keep moving to even things out. And I haven't really been doing that for almost a year now. Can you say horribly out of shape?

So the scale was going up but I didn't see it yet. Not in the mirror, not in my clothes. "I'll think about that tomorrow." Well, baby, tomorrow is NOW. All of the sudden, my jeans got tighter. I didn't like pictures of myself anymore.

This past weekend, I participated in a race with a bunch of friends. We have an exercise group called Badbass Babes. We have our own logo, our own t-shirts. We're pretty badass! Professional photographers were along the route and when the photos came out, I couldn't believe the woman in those shots was me. There it was. RE-GAIN. I posted one of the photos a full THREE TIMES on Facebook and deleted it each time because I think I look so large in it.

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I'm wearing a few layers, my legs & neck desperately need skin-removal plastics but...that's all me. I can't deny it anymore. About 30 pounds needs to come off. Face it, Scarlett.

Changes have already been made. I was starting to eat more often and badly - grabbing junk out of a vending machine or checkout line, bringing baked goods into the house, etc. Why was I doing that? Maybe to soothe myself because I physically felt so bad all the time. I'm not sure. But that's stopped already, even before I saw these pictures. However, I bought a few things over the weekend in the States that I justified by saying that I don't get to have them often. They're in the garbage now. It's over. I have to get serious about this again. I worked way too hard to get this weight off to allow it to creep back on.

It's so easy to get complacent and let old habits back in, especially as the years tick by. A crack addict can avoid crack. Crack addicts don't have to pass 10 fast-crack establishments on every street and crack isn't readily available in every store. Crack isn't advertised on tv and in magazines. People aren't smoking crack on every street corner. You can avoid friends who smoke crack; you never have to be around it again. This isn't the case with food. Moderation is a slippery slope. I did it for four years, though, and it worked for me. But it has to be a more EXTREME moderation, at least for now. I have been letting foods back into my diet with an ever-increasing laissez faire attitude. It's too dangerous.

I'm doing well in physiotherapy for my knees and seem to be back on track for regular exercise again. So it's time to get serious!

A good friend of mine has been posting in our support group about her re-gain and she may not realize how she has inspired me to come out about my own issues. I've been struggling with it for a few months now - whether to blog about it, how to say that I feel badly for letting this happen, for disappointing both myself and people who care about me. She has spurred me to be open about it. No journey is without speedbumps, miraculous hills as well as deep, dark valleys. No one is alone here. It's time to start climbing back up to the mountaintop. One step at a time, putting one foot in front of the other.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I'll take a knee (please)

At some point, we have to admit our humanity.

Since losing weight, I've done a lot of things I never thought I could. One that I enjoy most is participating in running/walking events. From my first 5K to the half marathon I completed last year, they are all exciting milestones in my mind. As a heavy child/teenager, I never participated in sports, so this whole thing of pushing my body towards a tangible finish line is new to me. People cheering for me, receiving a medal or ribbon at the end, the feeling of accomplishment - just the act of crossing a finish line - is a sort of addiction to me. I love it so much! And besides, the necessary training for these events keeps me in the gym and focused (most of the time!) on healthy habits.

I signed up for the half marathon right after I finished it last year, at a highly discounted price. Great! Of course I'll do it again! Then just a few weeks later I got the call to have my tummy tuck done. The recovery from the tummy tuck is looooonnnnggg. At least, mine has been. I haven't had any complications, but my whole torso is still...fragile. I'm now 8 months post-op and still have to be careful about how much I lift and exert myself. Honestly, I didn't do much at ALL for a few months. I started getting back into short walks in October, still wearing my abdominal binder. I even signed up for and completed a couple of events in the late fall, trying to get my mojo back. One 2.5K and one 5K. I wore TWO binders for both events and all went well. The knees were holding up, too.

By the time the Santa Shuffle 5K rolled around in early December, I had been pretty sick with what I thought was a cold for about a week. Just a day beforehand, I had a fever. But on race day, I was feeling a little better so decided to go. It was freezing and snowing out, and my nose was running like Niagara Falls (LOL) but I did well. My first trip to the doctor came a few days later. Sinus infection. First round of antibiotics, three-week supply. By Christmas, I was doing better (meaning no fever) and even though I was completely exhausted, I trudged through shopping, wrapping, dinner, etc. I had a few days of normalcy in early January, then got "sick" again. Waited about a week or so, went back to the doctor...sinus infection. More antibiotics. Didn't seem to help much, but I put off going back to the doctor. We're into February at this point. I had now been ill since November, pretty much all the time. No gym, no NOTHING. I was sitting on my ass folks, clutching a box of tissues and using a sinus rinse (which did NOTHING for me). We used so many tissues, Erich said we should buy stock in Puffs. I'd have a day where I would start to feel better and I'd think "Ok, I'll go to the gym tomorrow." Then I'd wake up feeling like a Mack truck ran over me in my sleep. OR...we'd get 12 inches of snow. This was shaping up to be one of the worst winters I'd ever had, both weather-wise and health-wise.

So I went back to the doctor in early February because I didn't want to be sick as a dog on my birthday on the 7th and we had a trip planned to Ohio on the 15th, for a week's stay with my parents. For the second year in a row, I did not make it home for Christmas. New job, and apparently people have to die before I get my turn in line to have Christmas off. So yeah. Doctor. Sinus infection again. Really?? More antibiotics. I took them for almost a week then came home from work one night and noticed I was getting what looked to be a rash on my neck. Hm. I showed it to Erich and had him take a photo of it. Having already planned to return to the doctor yet again the next morning since the antibiotics weren't working, I wanted to show this "rash" to him in case it cleared up while I slept. I took some Benadryl (couldn't hurt, right?) and went to bed.

Well. I woke up covered head to toe in little red dots.

When I got to the doctor's office, he looked at me and started muttering, "Oh no. Hm. Wow. Ok." He said I was having a reaction to the antibiotic and needed to go to the emergency room right away. I had a high fever, but wasn't having trouble breathing or anything. I went home, got Erich, called in sick to work and went to the ER. Long story short...I wasn't responding to the treatment they were giving me, so they decided to keep me overnight for observation. I started to improve overnight and by morning, the rash was almost totally gone. The doctor on staff brought an intern to see me and the strange-looking rash because he'd never seen anything like it before. Of course! Leave it to me to be weird! LOL!

In the end, I stopped taking EVERYTHING to get a handle on this rash. I had been taking over-the-counter meds, too, and of course my vitamins and supplements I always take. I stopped it all, including the new round of antibiotics the hospital physician prescribed to me. We went ahead with our trip to Ohio and eventually, I got better. Fingers crossed, I've been ok ever since. But then my problems started with my knees.

I have wanted to move out of our apartment for years now, ever since I lost weight especially. When we moved here, there were two units available - one on the main floor, one in the basement. You walk into the building and either go up a flight of stairs to the main floor, or down a flight to the basement. At well over 400 pounds, I remember thinking which option would be better for me if I was coming home with a load of groceries or just back from a hard day....I wanted to go DOWN, not up. So we took the basement apartment. Now, it's not as bad as you might think. The entire street-facing side of the apartment is nothing but big windows with lots of light coming through. It's not like I live in a hole in the ground! LOL! The main thing I want is outdoor living space. A balcony, a patio. Something.

We like the building, the neighborhood, our landlord, our super. We hate to move. There are three-bedroom units here, so we were considering moving to the third floor, where a unit might be opening up soon. So, when we returned from Ohio, I started climbing to the third floor a couple times a day, just to see how my knees would handle it. Well, guess what? They won't. I might have lost weight, but the damage has already been done. I started having debilitating knee pain for the first time in years. Like, really hurting. Barely able to walk around at work some nights. Yes, I'm a graphic designer but I do soooo much more than that. Some nights, I'm working in four different rooms at once, running around all over the place. There is no way I could've done this job pre-op; it's too physical. So this knee thing is a big issue.

But I iced it, wore my braces, etc. I had two 10Ks coming up, as well as the half marathon again in June. I was behind in my training schedule and starting to panic a little. So I went to the gym and likely overdid it. 8K on the treadmill. OMG....severe knee pain for a couple of days. I've gone back to my family doctor to begin a physiotherapy program.

I am doing better, but certainly not well enough to chance a half marathon. Not only because of my bum knees, but because I'm just not ready. I've spent too much time on my ass recovering from the tummy tuck, recurring sinus infections, etc. I just don't feel like it would be smart of me to say "I can do this!" and go out a kill myself in the process. I have nothing to prove to anyone and there's always next year. I will participate in the two events for which I had originally registered a 10K, I just switched them to 5K. That's more reasonable, I think, and very do-able. But the half marathon is out.

At first, I was really upset about all of this. It seemed like taking a step back. I suppose it is, but it's what's best for me now.

Erich and I are looking for a new place outside this building now - preferably either a main-level unit or someplace with an elevator because my knees can't do stairs (apparently). I'm continuing with my knee rehab and doing well, although the core exercises are waking up my midsection in a sometimes-unpleasant way! I'm in the gym twice a week doing light biking and walking. Sometimes it feels like I'll never be back to normal from the tummy tuck, but there are still no regrets. Life is an adventure and if the road turns and twists, well, that's what makes it interesting, right? Onward!

P.S. Sorry this is so long, and if you've read it all, thank you! It's good for me to get these things out. I appreciate anyone who takes the time to read my ramblings.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Find your Health Hero

You are stronger than you think. This has been my motto on my journey to better health for over five years now. In my moments of self-perceived weakness, I found strength in myself.

When I decided to have RNY gastric bypass surgery in 2009, I didn't join a support group. Indeed, I didn't know there were any to join; there may not have been any at the time in this area. I made my own phone calls, researched the protocol to get the surgery approved out of Canada since I'd already been turned away from a local clinic, and figured it out. My family doctor had no idea what to do and had very little knowledge of the surgery or how to care for me during or after the process. I had to lead her through it as well. I was her test case and after my success, she has gone on to recommend the surgery for other patients.

Maybe I was naive, but I didn't do much surfing around online or anything...not for support, at least. Honestly, I didn't know about any of that stuff. And when I did discover a few online forums I was turned off pretty quickly. Post one random thought or question and you'll get 10 different responses ranging from gratitude and interest to sneering and eye rolling. I didn't, and don't, need the drama. Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, where I had my procedure, gave me a huge blue binder full of information and I read it voraciously. Again, maybe not too smart of me, but that was about it. I knew what I had to do to be successful and just did it.

Here's my favorite "before" photo. Christmas, 2008 (click to enlarge).
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So when people ask me who my mentor is/was, who is my Health Hero, it's surprisingly difficult. After thinking about it for a while, I think it's me! Is that a weird answer? Let me explain.

Were there people I looked up to on this journey? Sure! I never missed an episode of The Biggest Loser or Ruby. But I had to make adjustments for my personal journey, as would anyone else. I tried to ignore it when, as a pre-op, I watched Allison Sweeney roll her eyes and shake her head at the mention of gastric bypass surgery. For me, there was more interest in someone my exact weight (444 pounds) shrinking more and more every week, doing things I didn't think I could. But hey, I was stronger than I thought; I could to that, too. I laughed as Ruby Gettinger smashed her talking scale with a sledgehammer - the exact same scale I had, purchased because it weighed up to 600 pounds - and it said "HELLO...I'M READY" after she thought she destroyed it. OMG, the thing was still alive! As is our quest for health. You can't kill it. Just when you think you're done, you're not. There were many teachable moments on television.

About three weeks after my surgery I found out about a local support group and went to my first meeting. It was at someone's house and there were two people there. It was kind of awkward and a little strange. I understand it was the middle of summer and people are busy, but I dunno. I just never went back. Again, probably not smart on my part. The best thing to come out of that meeting was I was told about The World According to Eggface, which is a wonderful resource for weight loss surgery patients. I still follow Shelly to this day, and she led me to Beth, a.k.a. Melting Mama. These two ladies are definitely worth a look if you're going through the process.

Here's a photo from around that time, August 2009 (click to enlarge):
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It must be said that I, like a lot of morbidly obese or super morbidly obese folks, have an issue with meeting new people. Even in a setting where those around me are ostensibly like me, I fear being judged. For my appearance, for my choices, etc. I find myself to be oddly quiet in group settings when I'm definitely not that way normally. I'm a very opinionated, sarcastic and strangely funny person. But I clam up if I don't know you well because I fear saying or doing the wrong thing and seeming foolish. Even five years post-op, this is still somewhat true.

So I chugged along on my own for another three years until Melting Mama's Facebook page led me to a different local support group. This time I went and was much more comfortable. Maybe it was the atmosphere - a mall food court - or maybe it was just that I was ready to mingle, at a different point in my weight loss where I was open to sharing. I had lost 250 pounds by that point and certainly felt better about myself. This blog gave me confidence that I could share with others and also learn a few things myself! I love these people but they're not necessarily my Health Heroes. They inspire me with their determination, failure and forgiveness.

Here's me in September 2012, around the time I found my present support group (click to enlarge). I am getting ready to compete in my first 10K here:
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But still, ultimately, it's up to me.

I'm the one who has to reach down inside myself and find a reason to continue. To have scrambled eggs and Greek yogurt for breakfast instead of pancakes & bacon. To go to the gym instead of cuddling up on the sofa with my husband. To set goals, like the half marathon I completed last spring, which force me to take care of myself and treat myself with respect. One of the most difficult lessons to learn is that WE ARE WORTH THE EFFORT. It's so easy to sit back and do nothing. Heroes rise to the occasion and put forth the effort to do what's right. And we all have that inside us.

Give thanks to those who have inspired you in some way, but also give credit to yourself. You are the one who recognized that inspiration and how it could benefit your own life. Then you put a plan in place, taking the steps necessary to achieve your own success. That was all you and no one else. But with that realization also comes responsibility; it's also up to you to keep up the good work. Celebrate your own heroism! It's yours for the taking.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Haircut and run?

Tummy tucks are...challenging for the impatient.

I am now 14 weeks post op and lemme tell ya something; I am nowhere near back to normal. Not that I ever WAS normal, know what I mean. My RNY gastric bypass was a walk in the park, recovery wise, compared to this. It's not that I've had any complications or anything like that. On the contrary, I'm doing very well! It's just a long process when someone slices through your abdominal muscles, takes off 13 pounds of skin and tissue, then sews you back up. It takes a while.

Never being one to be patient with anything at all in life, ever, this is getting on my nerves. I want to go back to my life. Can't. I still don't lift very much - because I know from past experience I'll regret it if I do - and I am not able to work out very hard. The first time I really, really pushed myself was November 18 and I felt it all week long. Thinking I could do it without my binder - or Spanx, at this point - was a mistake. I had been getting along so well that I hadn't had it on for well over a week, though I still take it to work with me every day in case I need it. Well, after that workout, I was back to wearing it every day again.

The thing is this: I need to move. I will gain weight if I don't push myself, so I'm kind of worried. And I'm out of shape from sitting on the sofa recovering.

My support group, the Community of Bariatric Patients of Southern Ontario, has put together a couple of teams to take part in an event called the Santa Shuffle. It's a 5K to support the Salvation Army. We're going to wear Santa hats and freeze our asses off, but it'll be fun and for a good cause! It's no secret that I love events like this. I never participated in sports growing up because well, just dragging my "husky" self through gym class was demoralizing enough; it never entered my head to put myself through that voluntarily! LOL! So I was 41 the first time I crossed a finish line. It was amazing! The endorphin rush and shot of self-esteem was crazy and I enjoy it every single time.

I figured a 5K would be a good, easy start to get me back into the event swing of things. I've already signed up for a 10K and a half marathon next year; I need to get my shit together. Well, after my dismal performance at the gym on Nov. 18, I got a little concerned that I would embarrass myself at the Shuffle, so I signed up for a 2.5K on the 24th. The annual Jingle Bell Run features a 2.5K fun run/walk and a 5K run to benefit the YMCA, which I belong to (that's how I found out about the event). Figuring I could use the cold-weather outing/training and event atmosphere as a warm-up to the Shuffle, I signed up for the 2.5K, the "kiddie" run. LOL! I certainly wasn't the only adult in the race, but yeah, it was mostly kids. Cute kids. Who are in way better shape than me!

I put on my cold-weather gear purchased for that one-time-only (seriously) RUN I did this past March, a set of pink cammo reindeer antlers and hoped for the best. Oh...and I wore my binder. Yeah.

The thought going in was to break my dismal 10-minute kilometer I presented at the gym on the 18th. I figured if I could beat that, in the biting cold, I would be happy. So I needed to finish under 25 minutes. And I did it! Just under 23. And right in front of an older couple, just like back in March. LOL! Yay! I beat the old people again!

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I felt good during the race, no pain. Got a free massage afterwards, which always helps. Later on that night, though, my abdomen started protesting. By the next morning, I was popping Tylenol and reaching for my binder again. Wore it all week, too. I I'm worried about the Shuffle 5K. I'll do the best I can and try not to push myself too hard but I know that will be difficult. When the race starts and I see everyone moving around me, I'll want to GO. I need to take care of myself but I also want to get moving!

My hair has been making me crazy lately, so I decided to book an appointment with a stylist popular with some of my friends in my support group. She was responsible for the makeover featured at our meet & greet last month, too. My hair is 95% back to pre-gastric bypass normal. It's thick and curly again, but still very dry and coarse. The texture isn't the same and it's not quite as thick as it once was. But I can't complain. I'd been growing it out for a long time without a good trim so it needed some help. This is the result - keep in mind I haven't worn my hair straight since the '80s. When everyone else had big hair, I was trying to tame mine by wearing it short and as straight as I could get it. LOL! Anyway...the new cut:

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Am I going to recreate this every day? Hells no. It took Terra (the pro) several balms, ointments and tools (none of which I own or know how to use) to get this result and I'm just not the girl who's willing to spend a lot of time on her hair. I wash and go. She said that would be possible with this cut; I hope so. People have been raving about it - to my face, anyway! LOL! I'm still on the fence about the straight thing; the short thing I'm ok with. My first impression was that I looked like a PTA mom or an anchorwoman and much older. Conventional, conservative, sort of like everyone else's hair. It's just so different, I guess! So unlike anything I've ever done to my hair. It'll take some getting used to. The remarkable thing is that I slept on this hair last night and it still looks this way right now. THAT is incredible. LOL! The positive feedback has been nice, though - often, certainly, we see ourselves in one way while others have a different view. If enough people tell you that you look good...maybe you should believe them.

My husband is on wife #5 at this point. He just keeps looking at me and saying WOW. Not sure if it's a good wow or a bad wow.

Ah well. The ride continues!! Happy Thanksgiving if you're in the States and reading this. I miss my family during the holidays so much. Maybe one day I'll have a job where I can actually take time off every year and make it home.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The good re-gain

I was in a pretty bad state of mind when I wrote my last post (duh). But this past week, I decided to take at least one step in the right direction and get things back on track.

A few times a year since my surgery, I do something called the 5 Day Pouch Test (5DPT). It's always helped me get back on track both physically and mentally. And I do notice that, of course, when things go off the rails in my brain, my diet goes off track. I can eat pretty much whatever I want at this point in my journey and that's dangerous. Since I'm so far out post-op, it's even more important to get control of my eating habits before the unthinkable happens and I get some serious re-gain. Of course, there are things I avoid simply because I guess they'll always be harder for me to digest (chicken breast, rice, sugary drinks, regular white bread, and others) but I definitely have to make smart choices just like those who haven't had surgery. The pouch is a tool to be used wisely for the rest of my life. I can screw it up and gain everything back *that just gave me a shiver* Every person who has surgery is different but this is how it is for me.

In the past, I've beaten myself up for not making smart choices 100% of the time. You know - one of those people who is like "WHOO-HOO!! No more bread, EVER! No more sugar, EVER!! I will never eat another french fry or slice of pizza again...EVER!! Zumba twice a day!! Whoo-hoo!! Forever!!" with no deviation. I know people like that - or at least, that's how they present themselves - and bless their hearts but I'm just not that girl! It used to really bother me that I couldn't seem to be like them but I've come to accept my humanity couple of years. In order to be successful - for me - I have to give myself some leeway to eat like a normal person and not Jillian Michaels (blech) sometimes. If I constantly beat myself up over it, I'll just feel badly more crap. So no. Over, done with, gone.

Even so...some people need refresher courses once in a while. That's how I see the 5DPT. The plan is controversial in some weight loss-surgery circles. If you mention it on certain message boards or in certain groups, you will get POUNDED. Whatever. It works for me when I do it and I'll just continue doing what works for me, thanks. This is why I don't belong to many groups or any message boards. It doesn't matter what you're doing, someone will tell you you're wrong. Really wrong! And you're gonna die! LOL! I don't need it in my life.

5DPT is just getting back to basics, in my opinion. Protein, protein, protein. It does eliminate all carbs and I confess that I do not do that. I follow the plan and make the recipes, but I add fruit. Apples, grapes, a banana...some fruit every day just like always. And I eat a protein bar every day...just like I always do. Lots of water and recipes that go with the plan on the corresponding days. The key word here is "plan". You have to make a plan to follow this plan. This is important. We all need to figure out what we're going to eat before we get hungry and start rummaging through the fridge like a starved maniac. That is a habit that needs to be kept long after the 5 days are over.

This past week while on the plan, I lost 9 pounds. Yes. Nine pounds in 5 days. That's kind of unusual in that I average 5-7 when I've followed it in the past. That tells me I was holding onto a lot of crap inside my body that needed to be shed. I was also holding onto a lot of crap in my brain. Taking control of my eating habits has helped my outlook tremendously.

I decided to keep a Right Journal. I made two columns and kept an ongoing list every day of the things I did right on one side and things I needed to work on in the other. "Work on" - not wrong. Positivity was important to me this week and I really tried to focus on that. It worked well and let me go back and see that I do a lot more right than not. I know how to do this thing called life. It's a pretty incredible one that I've created for myself. And I need to remember to treat myself well - which goes right along with making smarter choices for my body. It'll do my mind a world of good.

So I lost 9 pounds but re-gained a new, positive outlook. The best kind of re-gain! I'm determined to make more changes in my life and continue on this path. We only get one chance, right?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


I notice I tend to put off posts when I feel like I don't have a lot of good things to say. This wasn't the case in the past; I used this platform to blow off steam, vent about my frustrations and generally bitch and moan. But in the past year or so, I feel like my posts should have a positive spin, some lesson to be learned.

But I haven't been in a positive head space lately. I've lost a ton of weight. I've had a tummy tuck to make me even more aesthetically pleasing. And yet I'm still not totally happy. This has nothing to do with losing weight or how I look. It has to do with how I feel, about me. I get that.

And there's this: It's been almost 4-1/2 years since my surgery and about 3 years since I have been this size. The shine seems to have worn off the diamond. I'm accustomed to myself now and no longer think I look so awesome. For the past few years, I would look at photos of myself and couldn't believe it was me! That ship has mostly sailed, and if anything, I look at photos and would swear to you that I looked better than the person shown. That's new to me; I was used to myself pre-op. I had always been very obese and well...that's how I looked. I never shied away from cameras and just accepted it. So it's frustrating to me that I am becoming uncomfortable with the way I look.

I don't know how to explain it better than that. It's a very odd emotional state.

One more thing bugging me more and more lately: Why the hell am I so unforgettable? I seem to slip peoples' minds. And what is it about me that makes people not listen when I talk or remember what I say? Very often I find myself thinking "Yeah, I said that 5 days ago," or "Yeah, that was actually my idea," or "Yeah, I was there and spoke to you several times." I have never been the type of person people go out of their way for. But the way I am sometimes ignored is really starting to get on my nerves. And I have to think the way I'm treated has something to do with the way I carry myself, the way I feel about myself. The common denominator is me. You teach people how to treat you.

I'm tired of feeling like shit inside but putting on a smile.

All of this boils down to self-esteem. So if you're going to tell me that losing weight doesn't fix your head, please don't. I know that. I've written about it a lot. Putting it into practice is a whole different level of awareness that I'm just starting to really, really GET. And no one can change it but me. It may mean some big, big changes but I'm starting to think I have to do some things for ME. Not trying to please everyone else, not trying to just go along for the sake of argument. But for ME.

When people forget you, you have to remember yourself.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Getting there

Probably not too smart to do an entry at 3am but I'm a WTF kinda girl, so here we go.

Day 34 post-op. I had an appointment with my surgeon on Thursday. was supposed to be with my surgeon, but I was almost 30 minutes late due to the total suckage of Toronto traffic - I left early and took the supposedly super-fast toll highway and was still late - so I ended up seeing his partner instead. He's a nice guy; it was fine. He removed several stitches that had "pushed out" (his phrase) and told me I was healing remarkably well considering my stage in recovery. "You are well ahead of schedule, based on how this looks," he said of my Bride of Frankenstein scarring.'s supposed to look worse than this? Alrighty then.

I do seem to have good luck with recovery, knock on wood. My gastric bypass was very uneventful and remains so to this day, save a slightly low ferritin level. I can't complain.

He told me I should be ok to return to work on schedule, September 23, but he still didn't want me lifting anything. I got no real answers to the itching problem (largely gone now) or the low blood pressure issue (still hanging around). Just more of what I've already heard that neither explains why it was/is happening nor gives me any way to relieve it. So I just let it drop. Ok. No answers to Cindy Weirdness, as usual...moving on.

He also looked through the photos that my PS asked me to bring with me to the OR the day of my surgery that were in my chart and went on and on about how much progress I've made, how far I've come. "You should be one of our models," he said to me. "If we had models!" He even went back through my surgeon's camera to find the shots he took of me in the OR that day. I never know how real that stuff is when I hear it. Is this something everyone hears? Maybe. So I never know how to react. When the appointment was over, he led me out to the waiting area and had the PS's assistant (the psycho) look at my before pictures, resulting in my first real "moment" with the woman. She told me how she was trying to get a relative of hers to have weight loss surgery; how she sees the results every day and it would be good for the relative to go through with it, but the person was afraid. She told me she thought I was brave and admired what I'd done. Whaaaa?? It was actually a nice conversation. Will wonders never cease? She is human after all.

He took some photos of me to show my PS and I made another appointment in a month's time. The drive to and from Toronto wiped me out and I went to bed early, sleeping late. I still get tired quite easily.

As far as how I feel..physically and mentally I'm doing better and better every day. I can bend fairly normally now and I feel like getting up and doing things - which means I'm becoming a bit bored - instead of sitting around and napping all the time. In fact, I was feeling so well that I tried on most of my wardrobe last week...and regretted it soon afterwards. It completely wiped me out. Before the surgery, I was warned not to overdo it when I started to feel better. Good advice.

There are two big trash bags full of clothes that are now too big for me. Shirts, jeans, pants, dresses...a lot have to go. And a lot just fit better, too. I still have a lot of clothes! LOL! But I will need to get new underwear and some new jeans. The selection of non-granny panty undies is a little overwhelming. I've never been able to wear such things and don't really know where to start! I keep looking around then leaving empty-handed because I just...I dunno. Dunno what to buy, I guess! A friend has offered to help me with that so we'll see how that goes. LOL! I need instruction on buying underwear. I also need to investigate low-rise jeans. Having to pull my old jeans up to my armpits (LOL) and cinch my belt three more notches isn't going to cut it.

Here's a shot I already posted on Facebook, but it shows what used to be my favorite pair of cropped jeans, along with a t-shirt I have never been able to wear because it's an XL that fits like a medium:
 photo 1186331_10152633093705021_537860393_n_zps21b10adc.jpg

My support group has clothing exchanges, so I'm hoping to find something through that avenue. Also, there will be a massive exchange at the meet and greet I mentioned in my last post. So...wish me luck.

Insomnia sucks. Still not really tired...I think one of the reasons I'm having trouble sleeping tonight is I know I have to go back to work soon. After my appointment on Thursday, I stopped in at my company to let my supervisors know that I'd be back on time and everything was going well. This was the first time I'd walked in the place since I left. Hardly anyone gave me the time of day. It was very clear I was interrupting World Peace Talks or something. There were only a few people who even stopped what they were doing long enough to ask me how I was feeling. It's the main thing I don't like about the place - everyone is "too busy", the company is very impersonal and cold. There are people who have worked in the same building for years and don't know one another. I dunno, I find that to be very sad. Maybe it's just me. I'm not really looking forward to going back.

I think trying on the clothes helped my brain catch up a bit. It forced me to look in the mirror and grasp that this is the way I look now. And I look pretty damn good with clothes on! LOL!

Thursday, September 5, 2013


I know it's been too long since my last entry, but I have a good reason. The feelings I'm having are a little complex, enough that I have been having trouble putting them into words.

So now I'm 24 days post-op from my tummy tuck (TT) and doing pretty well. Well, if you don't count the stun-gun zaps from nerve regeneration and the feeling like Mike Tyson has been using my abdomen for a sparring partner (muscle repair healing). There has also been a lot of itching. Not so much from the incision sites, but all over my torso. I stopped taking Percocets a while back and just take Tylenol as needed at this point, also Benadryl for the aforementioned weird itching. All of that has been been getting better the past couple of days, however, so I see a light at the end of the tunnel.

My next appointment with my surgeon is next Thursday, September 12 and I'm not looking forward to the drive to Scarborough. Sigh. I find I get tired pretty easily. When I go out, I want to come home as soon as possible...mostly to take a nap.

Then there's my binder. Ahhh, the binder. It's such a love/hate thing. I was cleared to stop using it at 3 weeks post op but...I feel like I still need it. I hate wearing it but I feel like my guts are gonna fall out if I don't. So yeah. Still wearing either it or tight Spanx for the most part.

From an emotional standpoint, I have ups and downs. Now, the expected reaction might be complete elation but's more complicated than that, at least for me. You know how you finally remodel the kitchen that's been driving you crazy for years and while you're thrilled with the results, it also highlights the fact that you also really, really need a new sofa, window treatments and yeah...the bathroom needs work, too? That's kinda how it's been for me lately.

For most of my life, my stomach has been a huge area of concern. Referring to my lower abdomen as my "drop stomach", I sort of learned to work around it. I bought shirts that covered it as much as possible - long and loose. Finding a shirt that would hit the tops of my thighs (always my goal) could be very difficult for my 5'10" self. It's weird to say, but I got used to looking the way I did, I guess. But my stomach was a pain in my ass because it was so hard to clothe and it was always in the way. Lifting it up and out of my way to do even the most basic of hygiene wasn't pretty. So I was really looking forward to the TT so I could finally be rid of it! And don't get me wrong, it's awesome! Even though I'm squeamish and don't like to look at the horrible scars too much (LOL), what I see of my abdomen when I ignore them, I do like. And I've never said that before...ever.

But it just makes everything else more vivid. Especially my thighs. Lord god almighty. The problem is that I can SEE them now. So while I'm looking in the mirror at my new, flat stomach - I'm also seeing these absolutely horrific upper thighs. And much like my stomach, there is absolutely nothing short of plastic surgery that is going to make them look much better. Let's put it this way...when people excitedly tell me they bet I can't wait for bikini season...while I appreciate the good wishes that I know such a comment entails...I will never wear a bikini, or even a bathing suit, because of my thighs.

Maybe a bikini TOP and board shorts.

This pisses me off, you know? It makes me mad that now there's this other thing that looks like total shit and also that it bothers me so much!! I know my brain just needs to catch up (again) to this huge change and I'll be ok. Honestly, I know that. Good enough needs to be good enough. Someone blogged about this very topic not long ago....yeah. Practice what you preach, Cin.

The good news is, most everything I've tried on so far has been baggy. Especially my shirts and dresses, which was unexpected. I expected to change more in my jeans/pants, but I honestly think there will be more of my shirt wardrobe that will have to go. And, there are some things which just fit "better", so it's all good. A tight shirt looks pretty damn good on me now; nothing is too short or too tight because there are no fat rolls. That's pretty amazing! I haven't felt up to trying on too much yet since I still have trouble bending, but I'm really looking forward to going through my closet yet again and seeing what goes and what stays. And then shopping for things I never thought I'd be able to wear! Are half shirts in style? No? Well crap...

I'm very fortunate to have a supportive network of friends who have gone through this and assure me that I'm not crazy. So I know what I'm feeling is pretty normal and that helps. I am so lucky to have found the people at the Community for Bariatric Patients of Southern Ontario (CBPSO). My local support group in Cambridge is hosting our annual meet & greet this year and I'm really looking forward to it! I'm playing a small part, designing some of the posters, brochures, etc. I figure it's the least I can do for a group that has given me so much. You know it's true....we all get by with a little help from our friends.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Drains and dresses

Thirteen days post-op! No way am I ready to do cartwheels, but things are definitely chugging along.

Both drains came out this past week - two days apart - and GOOD LORD!! Those things were really long. I had no idea I had that much room left in my abdomen. LOL! It didn't hurt at all. Like, not even a little bit. You know what was painful? Getting the tape off my pubic hair. Yes. I would have to say that so far, that is the most painful thing I've had to go through.

And some people PAY someone to do that to them *shudder*

I'm pretty squeamish when it comes to blood and guts, so I don't look at myself that much. I can't bear to see the Bride of Frankenstein look. Seriously, I look horrid! I know the scars will flatten and fade over time, it's just difficult for me to look at them. I've said it before. I'm a wuss. Sue me.

Also, I still feel like I'm going to break. If I remove my binder to take a shower, it kinda stresses me out. Raising my arms makes me feel like I might rip open or something. I'm starting to walk more normally, though.

There seems to be a bit of an issue with low blood pressure but I'm sure that will pass, too. I have been told that is fairly common after the tummy tuck. Removing 13 pounds of skin and tissue is very trying on the body, I would imagine. Just trying to watch myself when I get up so I don't get too light headed and dizzy.

I have completely stopped the Percocets and am taking Tylenol 2-3 times a day. Nerves seem to be waking up; I'm having a little more pain now. Fleeting sharp pains nowhere near any incisions. The incisions themselves ache somewhat but not badly. However, my hips are still totally numb.

A big complaint right now? I am so tired of sleeping on my back. In fact, I think it's interfering with my sleep patterns. I sleep for about five hours and wake up with a backache. Then I get up for about an hour, then, still exhausted, go back to bed for another 4-5 hours. I long for the day I can sleep on my side or stomach. Ugh.

Last year, I bought a cotton maxi dress at Old Navy. It was about $10 and very casual - I even thought I might wear it as a bathing suit cover-up. The only one in a pattern I liked was a size large but I tried it on anyway...and it fit! I was really stoked to have a size large in my closet! LOL! Yesterday, I pulled that dress out of the closet because I wanted something other than my nightgown to wear. Underwear rubs against my scars causing discomfort and I can't bend over well to get pants on so, nightgowns have been my outfit of choice for the most part. Anyway...I pulled out this dress and slipped it over my head. It's baggy! I was pretty surprised. I know there is a big chunk of my stomach gone but it's still kind of jarring. It will be interesting to see how my jeans fit me.

What a long, strange trip the past four years has been. So many new and exciting adventures so far and more to come!