Tag Archives: journey

The Scale Says What…More Musings, Insights and a photo update

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Wow! where does the time go?  I didn’t realize I hadn’t posted in a while and a LOT has happened since my last post.  So where do I start…accountability? new look (you are dying to see the pictures – don’t peek)? insights? new discoveries?

Recently, at the Journey’s Support Group, the surgeons came to our session – amazing how caring these guys are – and the time they put into helping us be successful.  They reminded us of how we have to do the work – they simply operated on our body  –  the work is ours to do to create real success.

Let’s start with accountability (that is the most painful sometimes in this journey)…I strive to keep exercise at the forefront of my schedule…and it is difficult when it was never a priority before.  However, I see the results when I do make it so it is becoming more and more important.  So I am not making it to Zumba every week like I want to.  But I have recently tried a yoga class and signed up for six weeks.  I am convinced more and more that exercising must be, like many things in our lives, convenient and easily accessible.  So I found a yoga class that is 5 minutes from my office, is designed for baby boomers and beyond, the instructor works with bariatric patients regularly and I can do it over lunch!

As I approach my six month anniversary (13 June), I look back with amazement with some of the “walls” that I have climbed over, through or walked around.  I was having issues keeping solid food down and I constantly felt as though my system was irritated.  The doctors suggested and did an endoscopy to check for scar tissue from the surgery (this is commonplace) and no scar tissue.  They discovered a slight irritation that was caused, most likely, when I transitioned from mushy foods to solid foods.  This caused some acid reflux – they put me on Nexium and the symptoms have been erased and I am able to keep solid foods down.  This was probably a wall that I broke through once  the issue was resolved – it was aggravating not being able to eat solid foods.

Guess what happens when you lose a lot of weight?  Your shoes get too big – can you believe?  Now what shoe size do I wear?  Not sure but I know it is a pain in the tush (oh yeah that gets smaller also LOL)!  Recently, I wore a blister on my heel as a result of my shoes rubbing from walking.  Dressy Birkenstocks out there anyone?

So the update is 80#…and counting.  Wearing dresses (yep!  dresses!) and looking at clothes in the regular sections of the store.  Daunting for sure.  I’m not used to looking at the clothes of “normal” people (whatever normal is) – other people wear those clothes.  I know you are dying to see it — my new photo!

2012 May photo

I’m still amazed when I look at this photo!

In my recent discussion with my wellness coach, the subject of fear arose.  I was describing how I am having a difficult time letting go of my plus-size clothes.  They are my friends. They are comfortable. I know them.  They are gone on many trips with me.  I know it sounds crazy.  So there are several questions that I ask – does letting go mean letting go of a part of me?  What if I need them sometime down the road?  Is my holding on to them setting myself up for failure?  I have so many clothes and they are beginning to pile up and bug me – part of my vision for 2012 and beyond is less and less clutter (more on that later).  So my coach and I agreed to a goal of me removing three piles of clothes and donating them over Memorial Day weekend.  Wish me luck and help hold me accountable!

I am participating in Kathleen Ronald’s deClutter U for the next 12 months.  In addition to decluttering my weight, I am learning that clutter can be in any part of our lives…it is not all about piles of papers, collections and stuff – it is also people, environment, schedules, experiences, etc.  As part of this bootcamp, I am discovering the “stuff” that is cluttering my mind, my vision and ultimately blocking my dreams.  If you haven’t thought about clutter in this way, I encourage you to do so.  It is very enlightening!

I could spend the next few hours rambling on about all the new-found energy I am discovering or the way I am able to focus a better but I must also sleep.  So I close with this thought – borrowed from my Mary Kay Director, Kellie Hammett – “I did the thing I feared the most, excuse me while I cheer! Now here I stand a braver soul and all I lost was fear” (EENSD Arlene Lenarz) … so the next time I post, I will have lost some fear (and clutter) plus a few more #!

What is it that you fear the most?

Until next time – stay healthy, believe in you and above all remember…it is a journey!

Happy Memorial Day and blessings to all our men and women who have given and are giving their lives for us to live in America!

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The Scale Says What! March Musings

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Surprises can be nice…and fun…recently I went back to Columbus to see friends, many of whom, were not aware that I had began this journey to have a healthier lifestyle…at Gregg Dodd’s Ugly Sweater Party.  I had purposely not posted pictures of the “new” me on Facebook so there would be the element of surprise.  Or was it that I wanted to hear them praise and congratulate me?  Probably a bit of both.

When I started this journey, I thought I would not enjoy friends commenting, congratulating, asking questions or even acknowledging the physical changes that they could see.  However, 2+ months post surgery and I am finding that this is one area that I can be encouraged.  While still not great at accepting compliments, I do have a sense of “wow, I am doing this journey successfully” when people acknowledge the work I am doing for myself.  I do have to be careful not to get on a soapbox about nutrition and labels when people ask questions about surgery or the how much I am eating – it is exciting for a couple of minutes but not 30 minutes.

I am of the opinion that humans crave (and I am sure there is science out there to back up my humble opinion), consciously or unconsciously, praise and acknowledgement.  I think back to my childhood and when I wanted attention – I acted out by being a brat, doing something I knew I wasn’t supposed to do, etc. – that resulted mostly in negative attention but nonetheless it was attention.  As adults, we still want attention, approval and acknowledgement.  And when we don’t get it we find other ways to get/give ourselves attention

Let me give you an example from my own life…I have found through this process that outwardly I displayed a lot of confidence.  However, inwardly, I was not as confident as I acted.  Results:  I second guessed myself, I made snap decisions, I “took control” and “fixed” things [whether they needed to be fixed or not – I “always” knew a better way].  Consequences:  I got attention – most times not positive attention, I have been passed over for promotions, I haven’t advanced as far in my career as I would like, I had to buy bigger clothes to cover up the weight, health issues developed, I was exhausted all the time – this created other results:  This negative attention “confirmed” my fears and thoughts – I wasn’t good enough, smart enough or pretty enough to succeed…that then created a different set of consequences – I ate in an unhealthy manner, probably (well matter of fact) drank too much at certain times and basically didn’t care.  As you can see, it is a very vicious circle! On December 13, I broke my circle!

So, today, I acknowledge that I haven’t been so good to myself for several years.  I am proud that I am taking control of my life and going on a journey that will forever change my emotional, physical and spiritual mindset.  I care about me.

As I was sharing with a friend recently about some of my struggles to ‘get it right’ [my schedule, eating, etc].  He gave me an excellent (a big “A Ha” moment for me) suggestion…think of this as an event and create a daily ‘run of show’ for myself. How brilliant!  Thank you MA!  You are the best!

See it is about having a supportive circle of friends and family that will get you through…so if you are reading this and thinking about changing your destiny by having bariatric surgery or changing your lifestyle to be more healthy…go for it!  Surround yourself with supportive people – chose your support group carefully and engage them in your journey.  By the way, your support group does not have to include your blood relatives – it is nice if they are on board – but do this for yourself and you alone! 

Here is the new look of one proud girl…

Me, Lori, Megan, Gregg and Diana - we all ditched our ugly sweaters...thank goodness mine didn't come home with me - donated for a good cause.

The Scale Says What…Holy Cow…It Says What?! The first month…

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December 14…home from the hospital. Running a race was not on the list. Nor was eating. Nor was walking.  In fact there wasn’t much on the list for a couple of days after getting home except trying to get 64 ounces of liquid in my body so I wouldn’t dehydrate and 50 grams of protein (in liquid form).  It also meant starting to take some vitamins that I wasn’t crazy about taking.  Liquid ones that certainly didn’t taste like coffee, orange juice or vodka. Came home with a pain pump inserted directly into my surgery site that was in a little black bag and a drain.

December 15…Chris arrives from Ohio for 10 days and Christmas. I am not allowed to drive nor do I feel like being out and about.  However, I am finding that I have been able to manage my pain pretty well.  Only taking pain medication at night.  Christmas tree needs decorated but I can’t lift, do much reaching, etc.  So I implore with all my might to get Chris and Jerry to decorate the tree while I supervise.  I want to get on the scales so bad – but the hospital advised weighing for a week because typically you come home weighing more than when you went due to the fluids they put in you during surgery – so I resist.  But I can tell that things are changing and happening.

December 16 – Uncle Doug came down and took Chris out to lunch.  I was quite content to stay home and work on some projects.  Simply being quiet was a beautiful thing!  Bentley and me – was just fine.

December 18 – Early morning and off to Costco with Chris and Jerry in tow to do all the lifting, pushing, etc.  Since I needed to walk it was great exercise.  Funny thing – I wasn’t even tempted or interested in the samples as I walked by them.  By the time we got home I was pretty tired and slept most of the day.  But also felt really good.

Today was the day I got to take out my pain pump.  If you know me, you know I’m a wimp when it comes to these kind of things – as I was to take it out myself…well, Dr. Wright to the rescue.  Dr. W. lives in the neighborhood and had offered to help where needed.  So off to her house I went on Sunday afternoon to have it taken out – talk about feeling small – didn’t feel a thing when she did pull it out.

December 19 – Ventured into DC for a meeting with Bridge Conference Education co-chairs.  Chris drove me and that was an experience.  (I hope he figures out driving here  when he arrives). Then went to my first support group at INOVA.  Being just six days post surgery, I was excited to see how others were doing that had had surgery about the same time.  As they tell us – we will each have different experiences with the same surgery. That was very evident at support group.

December 20 – wiped out!  Oh yeah, I had just had major surgery  a week prior and rest was much needed after five hours of activity the day before.  I did some emails and rounded up friends for a fun, festive Christmas Day potluck.  Jane and I figured out who was cooking what…it was nice to have someone who understood my food dilemma while preparing for a fun dinner.

I did have my first month check up with Tiffany (PA) and Courtney (dietician).  I was down 20 lbs and was shocked!  I knew pants were getting bigger but I didn’t realize how quickly I was losing.  Needless to say they were very pleased.

Remember the “little black bag” I mentioned earlier?  Well, when Tiffany was removing my drain pump, she asked if I wanted to keep it for a souvenir.  My response – what would I do with it?  Be dazzle it and wear it with my new dress to the Kennedy Center?  No thanks.  The only souvenir I was planning on was a new wardrobe and new body shape.  So into the trash it went.

AND I was allowed to drive – thank goodness!

December 25 – Christmas Day – Friends arrived to celebrate the day.  Chris had given me a “Bentley’s Official Walker” t-shirt for Christmas that was already too big.  So I decided to show off my weight loss and take it off to have friend celebrate with me.  Yep, I took my clothes off (well – just the t-shirt and I had something on under it).  But it was fun to celebrate the season with Jane, Faye and Paul, Clancy, Jim and Michelle, Chris and Jerry.  I was able to eat a very small amount of turkey, some mashed potatoes and that was about it.

December 27 and 28 – went back to the office for a few hours each day.  It was tiring.  But felt good to be back to work.  I also started phase two of the healing process by introducing mushy foods.  Okay the first couple of days was not good ones – but eventually I started to get the hang of it.

December 29 – 31 – Went to PA with Jerry to see his family.  Interesting traveling and eating very little.  Learning how to speak up and say it is time to eat – even if it was two or three bites.  While in PA, went shopping and bought slacks that were 4 sizes smaller – YES, I said 4 sizes smaller than I was a month earlier!  I cried!  Here is a picture showing off a new top that is MUCH, MUCH smaller than a month ago.

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Jan 1 2012 - New size!

So I close this update with this thought…Believe and it is possible.  I am beginning to believe that I will be successful.

Happy New Year!  Here is to a wonderful year ahead and to dreams becoming realities!

Until next time….

The Scale Says What?!? – A Journey to Better Health

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Once upon a time…so all fairy tales begin…however, this is not a fairy tale.  This is my journey to having better health, adding years to my life, increasing my self-worth and maintaining my career. In an effort to share my journey of weight loss with friends and family and people looking for insight to make take their own journey, I am going to blog about it.  I welcome your comments and input as you read my journey.  Thanks for taking it with me.

Let me take you back a few years and give you the background to bring you up-to-speed so you understand the seriousness of my journey.

I think it was 1970 or there about when I realized that not only was I the tallest girl in my class but also the heaviest.  While I maintained friendships and participated in activities, it seemed that I wasn’t quite as coordinated or pretty as other girls in my class.  I was the chunky friend who learned very quickly to take my personality and put it to work winning friends and creating relationships.

Fast forward through many,many years of diets – Jenny Craig, Nutri System, Phen-Phen pills, Physician Weight Loss Program, Weight Watchers (multiple times), fad diets, trainers, gym memberships, more fad diets, and much, much more I am sure.  At some point, I simply lost count of how many ways I had tried to lose weight.

Approximately, 10 – 15 years ago the medical journals started publishing studies that weight and genetics were possibly tied together along with a person’s culture and environment.  I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs – DUH!  I could simply look at my family and see that genetics played a part in our struggle to keep weight off.  I have always said, that if you lined up all the women in our family and not show our faces, you would quickly see that we were related just by our build – there were very few exceptions to the group.

As I think back over the last 30 years of my life, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t trying to lose weight in some fashion.  However, at some point, I accepted that my weight was my ‘cross to bear’ and ‘accepted’ that I would always be overweight.  I compensated by working hard, being funny (in my strange way) and developing skills like creating amazing relationships with friends, vendors, exhibitors, suppliers, and co-workers.

As I advanced in my career, so did the internal pain of being overweight.  Have you ever tried racing from one side of an exhibit floor to another only to have to stop multiple times to get there?  Or race up a flight of stairs only to be so winded that you couldn’t breathe?  Well, that is where I was about seven years ago when my highest weight hit about 300 or so.  It was at that point I wanted to cry every day.  I was tested and diagnosed with PCOS (poly cystic ovary syndrome) and was told that my extra weight only added to the side effects – excessive hair growth, menstrual cycles that came and went when they wanted or not at all, but the best was testing positive with testosterone at 4x the level of most women.  Now that is just want every girl wants to learn she has an issue with…not this girl.

Solution?  Put me on pills to slow hair growth, keep sugar production down (which was turning to fat) [and I wasn’t diabetic], an anti-depressant to help with anxiety caused by all of this information and worrying.  Saw an endocrinologist on a regular basis who put me on high blood pressure medications as well.  I hate taking pills so this was not an answer for me.  So I went back to trying diets again, exercising as best as I could with the weight and trying to be normal.  Results?  Lost a few pounds but not enough to get off any of the medications.

It was at that point that I started following the bariatric programs that were being developed. I read with vigor every article I could get my hands on, talked with my doctor about it and thought about having surgery from time to time.  My doctor encouraged me to considered it but also warned that it was so new that all the risks were not known.  As I trusted him, I decided to continue following it and watching as more and more positive results were being reported on people.

So that brings me to 2010 and present day….more info in my next post.

I learned how to cover up my weight. In June 2010, I was about 285#.

Who is the girl in pink? This is me with my dad and step-mom on Labor Day 2011. About 278#.

The Scale Says What!?! More Information…

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Anything worth having is worth working for…or so the saying goes.  Well, having a desire to be the pretty thin girl most of my life – I was  ready to do just about anything ergo all the diets and attempts to get there.  After I heard for about the ten millionth time – don’t worry, you are just large-boned – I was ready to scream!  But that is where I settled and lived for many years.

In 2007, I had the opportunity to move to Virginia to advance my career in meeting planning and exhibit management to a national level.  Moving, in my opinion, was one of the best things that happened to me as I met an amazing nurse practitioner, Harriet Greenfield, who began to help me get my high blood pressure under control, sent me to have a sleep study only to be diagnosed with sleep apnea and when I went in with severe back pain helped me discover that the spine was not doing well.  All those years of being on my feet with my weight was finally taking its toll.  Sleep apnea diagnosis was a pain in the rear and taking more medications was not something I was fond of.  But I decided that if it would help, I would give it the old “college try”.

Physical therapy helped to some extent on the back pain; but most importantly, I was beginning to be in the space of having bariatric surgery.  Scared didn’t really enter my mind; however, I wondered if I could do it.  Nothing else ever seemed to work for any length of time.

I sat down with Harriet and shared with her where my head was in all of this. She listened and heard the pain that I had kept in for so many years.  This was April 2011.  She suggested that I attend an informational meeting at Potomac Hospital to learn about the process, what to expect, etc.  I carried that note around for almost 2 months before I finally got the nerve to reserve a time to go.

What if I failed?  What if I couldn’t live without pasta and bread?  How would I deal with not being able to drink as much or  be the life of the party with my friends?  How would I ever make it through a meeting having to eat ‘special meals’?  How would I ever eat out again?  These questions and a few hundred others swarmed through my head.

June 9, 2011: OMG. Scary as I walked in and registered to hear from the team at Blue Point Surgical Group about how they have successfully performed hundreds of bariatric surgeries. Yes, they shared the good, bad, the ugly but most importantly they gave me HOPE.  That they provide ongoing support to ensure that their patients are as successful as possible.  When I looked around the room, I looked pretty ‘normal’ compared to many in the room.  But I also saw individuals that had that same ‘pain’ in their eyes asking ‘is there hope for me to be healthy?’

From the beginning, they talked as a team.  They shared the good, the bad, the ugly and the hope that having surgery can change your life – they were talking about my life.  BUT… (isn’t there always one)… it would take work, commitment and a desire to be successful from me.  That they could provide the tools but I needed to be able to do the work, learn how to re-eat so that I could be successful, that I would need to talk about how I was feeling, look at trigger foods, etc.  Piece of cake (no pun intended) I thought compared to being miserable, in pain and having more health issues beginning to rear their heads as I aged.

About this time, another friend was having bariatric surgery.  I happened to mention it to her – and low and behold – she was with the same practice. On her suggestion, I moved from the Woodbridge office to the Fair Oaks office to meet with Dr. Amir Moazzez.  She was right – what a cutie (well I think the words we use are ‘great eye candy’)!

As is typical of me, I put off the appointment in order to get through a couple of conferences.  The one that moved me to the point of tears was the one that reminded me that if I was to stay in this business, I needed to go meet with Dr. Moazzez and get details on how this was going to work.  I was in so much pain that I was literally taking very strong pain medication simply to make it through the day.  Not the way I wanted to live every day.  And back surgery (which had been presented as an option) was out of the question for me!

July 29, 2011: I arrive at Blue Point Surgical Fair Oaks office. I was greeted by some of the friendliest medical staff I have ever met.  After filling out a sheath of paperwork, I met the doctor with whom I was placing my faith to help me be successful.

After a long chat and lots of questions from both sides…Dr. Moazzez agreed that I was a candidate for the “sleeve” bariatric surgery.  Essentially, he would remove a portion of my stomach to make it smaller. Oh wait, I am getting ahead of myself…there were weeks of work to do before we get to the operating room.

Oh dear…in order for him to do surgery he wanted me to lose 15 – 20 pounds to help improve my liver function and to ensure that I had a commitment to being successful.

Stay tuned … amazing updates coming soon!

 

With my cookbook collection...and just about ready for surgery.