Tag Archives: weight loss

The Scales Say What?!?…. A Choice to Make!

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Since my last post life took a turn that was not necessarily part of my life plan – I was laid off from a job that I love.  HOWEVER, when life hands us a “bump” in the road, we have a choice to make.  We can either choose to rise above it and move forward OR we can choose to wallow in self-pity and depression.

Prior to having lost my weight, I would have went the route of self-pity, depression, “woe is me” and figured that I was doomed.  That is not to say that I didn’t feel sorry for myself, wish it hadn’t happened, said a few choice words or felt sadness – I did all that and then some!  BUT, the difference this time, for me, was that as a result of having starting the journey of being healthier and happier being well on its way for me – I was able to stay focused on what I needed to do – find a job and keep moving forward.

Just prior to the job loss, I had signed up to be part of Team HOPE, a community-based group of individuals, who were raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  In fact, they were attempting to raise $100,000 to fully fund a blood research grant to help eradicate blood cancers.  By signing on to the team, I was committing to personally raising $1,800 – scary now that I didn’t have a regular income.  It also meant taking on training for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon.  Something that I had NEVER, EVER done before.  So the choices continued…stay the course, raise the money, support my friends – or drop out and quit.  Oh I thought about the later more times than I can count but…I also had committed to myself that this was the year (2014) that I would identify an exercise that I would enjoy to help me keep the weight off.

Here is how I tackled what seemed impossible:

  • Job front:  I emailed every person I know in my network and sent them my resume along with a short snippet of what I was looking for and asked them to share opportunities with me.  I applied for jobs that didn’t make sense just to put my name out there.  I met with anyone that was recommended either by phone or over coffee.  I listened. Stayed engaged on LinkedIn.
  • Fundraising front:  When you ask people to give to a great cause, it is amazing how generous people are – I did team events, sent personal emails, posted on social media – and gave people a reason to get involved.  My uncle has CMML, a blood leukemia, and a I asked him to “borrow” his story to put a face to my fundraising efforts.  We had to meet a $1,800 minimum by April 14 – scary to say the least – but I met it and exceeded it by more than $500.  As I write this post, I am at $2,378 with one outstanding corporate donation!
  • Race training:  I made myself get out of bed every Saturday, except one, and went to training – cold weather and all.  I scheduled time to train during the week with other teammates.  On the one day that I missed team training, I trained by myself.  Found out quickly that training with the team was more fun.
  • Weight control:  To keep the weight in check and not fall back into bad habits was a challenge for me during this time. I found that it was easier to grab something on the run instead of planning meals which I allowed to happen on certain days ‘just because’ but was quick to put myself back on a protocol of eating more protein than carbs.  I used my Unjury and Body by Vi products to help me stay on track.  I put a few pounds on; however, I was moving much more and didn’t allow the scale to get out of control.

I committed to completing the half marathon with a smile on my face.  What happened was much more.  As I rounded the 12th mile and headed into the finish line all I could do is let the tears roll.  Walking 13.1 miles was and is a HUGE accomplishment for a girl who couldn’t run stairs just 27 months ago without feeling like she was going to have a heart attack.

Here are some fun pictures of the half marathon that will be forever my reminders that I simply need to stay focused and keep moving…

 

Nike Wall imageTeam ready - Race day

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The Scale Says What?!?…27 Months Does Not Erase the Mental Tapes…yet!

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As one goes on a the journey of transformation and changing a lifestyle to better health there are obstacles that get in the way sometimes.  For me, one of those obstacles is what I “see” when I look in the mirror, pass a window and see my reflection or look at pictures.

Of late, here is my battle:  I have successfully lost over 135 pounds.  I have dropped 14 dress sizes.  I no longer need a cpap machine to sleep soundly at night.  I no longer take high blood pressure, anti-anxiety, high cholesterol, thyroid or pain medications – yes that is 5 – count them 5 – medications gone!  With all of these successes one would think that I would be floating on air and happy as a lark!  YET, I battle with myself as I see the person who started on this journey 30 months ago, counting pre-surgery months – taking all the medications, not sleeping through the night, not able to sit in an airplane seat without a belt extender and so many other things!  So I have been doing some thinking about why … why can’t I get rid of the mental pictures, erase the tapes – why can’t I see what others tell me that they see….

Here is my analysis of this part of the process…

  • I lived with these real images for more than 40 years – so they were my friends.  Losing this much weight is like a death – there is a process – much like death – that one has to go through.  I believe I was so wrapped in the excitement of the success that I didn’t properly grieve the loss of “my friends”.   I am now grieving them and so I have had a few moments.
  • For many years, I identified myself with my work instead of finding hobbies or other interests outside of work.  When one is fat, you bury yourself in work and work hard to be successful so no one thinks that you are lazy or not able to perform the job that you are assigned.  I am now finding new interests…in fact, I am walking in my first half marathon ever!  I am so excited and feel empowered in a way I can’t explain! And when it is over, I will find another one to focus on…who knows what I will accomplish before I turn 60 (several years from now :))
  • I am in transition in my career.  When transition happens, it causes upset to our routine.  And for me, I need a routine to keep me on track.
  • I have started eating more carb-laden foods which I wish I had not learned that I could still eat because they give me comfort. I still have not eaten rice or pasta (yes that is about 27 months without these two comfort foods).  However, I have convinced myself that good bread is not bad for you…guess what…not true.  While I need to increase my carbs due to the training, I need to find the right carbs to eat.
  • I started allowing foods that I thought I could ignore to be brought in the house again – cookies, chips, breads, unhealthy snacks.  I am not as strong as I thought and need to go back to keeping things out of the house that are too tempting.
  • And finally…it is a journey that is one day at a time!  And these few weeks of set back are giving me pause to re-focus and get back on track!  Besides, I refuse to buy larger clothes!

While I continue to work on erasing the tapes – both mental and visual – I am forever a different person than I was 27 months ago.  Today at my check up with Blue Point Surgical, I heard phrases like…’great blood work – your numbers look amazing’; ‘you look great’; ‘keep up the good work’; ‘you are in tune with what you need to do to keep on track’; ‘you are an inspiration’…so while I have had a bit of mental set back, I know that I have come a long way in two years and have no regrets of having surgery and becoming healthy, which was my #1 reason for having the surgery done.

What are your battles when it comes to making a transformation in your life?  What have you done to overcome the obstacles and declare success?  How do you deal with setbacks?

A visual reminder of how far I have gone in 27+ months…

Donna with Tjay Spencer at Starwood Academy Awards Event

Donna with Tjay Spencer at Starwood Academy Awards Event – March 2014

Who is the girl in pink?

This is where I started – Sept 2011

 

The Scale Says What?!?!…Two Years and Counting

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A journey of many miles starts with the first step.  What a journey it has been the past 18 months.  From the informational meeting with Blue Point Medical Group, to my first visit with Dr. Amir Mozzaez, surgery, recovery, hair loss, dropping 14 sizes and many inches. I have experienced anxiety, excitement and growth plus many other emotions that are related to such a journey.

As I look back while moving forward, I think about the process to get to the point of surgery. Here are some questions that I have answered for myself and am asked by people inquiring about my process and progress.

Why did it take so long for me (you) to decide?  In short, I wasn’t ready.  I kept thinking that I could lose weight with another fad diet, more exercise or not eating as much.  Prior to making the choice to go this route (and yes, it was a choice), I spent hundreds of dollars on weight loss programs, personal trainers, bigger clothes and diet food (and pills).   Choosing to have 85% of your stomach removed (reminder: I had the sleeve form of surgery done) is not a quick overnight process.  I had to wrap my head around the fact that I would only be able to eat about a cup of food a day for the rest of my life in order to be successful.  I had to grasp the fact that I wouldn’t be able to “grab and go” when on site producing a conference.  I had to make sure that I was 110% committed to a new lifestyle of taking vitamins, making sure that I got in 80 grams of protein daily and was willing to give up sweets and other junk food that I liked to “treat” myself to from time to time.  I wanted to make sure that I was willing to do this and more…exercise regularly, eat on a regular schedule, drink 64 ounces of water or non-carbonated beverages daily, be committed to working on the things that triggered me eat comfort foods, be willing to do the work….and yes, it is work.  I had to accept that my obesity was much like any other disease and that I needed to treat more than just the symptoms – I needed to treat the root causes!

How do you survive?  This one is a bit easier to answer – like anyone else – with smaller amounts of everything that I consume – less food, less drink.  As the doctors and dieticians told us in prepping us for this journey “you will become a cheap date”.  Those words ring true just about every time I go out.  A regular entree purchased out can be up to three meals for me.  And alcohol – well, that is where I really save money – usually one drink will do it.  I didn’t think I would survive without drinking (after all I am in a profession where entertainment is a central part of what I do) – but I can nurse a glass of wine for about two hours now!  Back to the question…there are days when I look at foods that I used to eat and want them.  And sometimes, I try to eat it.  However, I am founding (still) that my taste buds have changed drastically.  Those french fries just don’t have the same taste as they did before and they upset my stomach too much to indulge.  Just like any addict, I take it one day at a time.  Fortunately, I find that I am winning this time.

What is the biggest change? My Quality of Life!  I am more positive than ever now.  I find joy in getting up every day.  I am not tired or exhausted after a night’s sleep.  I don’t have to take five medications to cope.  I don’t need my cPAP machine to make sure that I am breathing while I sleep.  I have fun shopping (well, sort of as I have never been a big shopper) but now it is nice to run into a store and grab something off the rack and know it will fit without a struggle.  I still enjoy cooking and entertaining – just don’t eat all the food – and I still bake treats from time to time.  I am learning how to modify favorite recipes to make them more healthy.

What foods do you miss? If I were to say there is one thing I miss … it might be pasta.  I haven’t eaten pasta for close to 24 months now.  And I used to have it at least three times a week.  I always enjoyed a good plate of spaghetti with my homemade sauce – well maybe two plates or macaroni and cheese.  I don’t crave it but I do miss it.  It was an old friend that gave me comfort when I was stressed out or feeling down.

What is your biggest challenge? This question varies from day to day.  One day it could be resisting a scrumptious-looking treat in the office or at dinner.  Another time it could be not wanting to exercise.  Or having more to drink than eat which means low blood sugars and fainting.  And some days it is myself…old tapes playing in my head that I work to erase or remove regularly.  Learning to accept compliments from strangers and friends.

For those who are reading this blog and have been considering (or know someone who is) bariatric surgery of any kind my recommendation is simply this…find a surgeon that is part of a Center for Excellence practice, talk with them and jump in with both feet!  It will be work but it will be the best work you will ever do for yourself – and – most of all – the best present you will EVER give yourself.

Dream big.  Dream often. And live each day to the fullest…I do that every day now!

The Scale Says What?!?…12 Months Makes a Difference

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Where does the time go?  Didn’t realize I have been so remiss in posting updates until I started sharing my blog this weekend with a friend.

Thanksgiving 2012 has been a bit challenging for me.  It was a year ago that I shared with my family and friends that I was having my surgery.  I am back with them a year later a much healthier, happier person.  However, it was a difficult time for me.  While I have learned new habits, changed my food habits, tastes have changed – in part because of the surgery – and in part because they had to in order for me to be a success…the worlds that my family live in have not changed.  So I worked with what I had…added what I could…and made the best of it.

What challenges could there be?  I can hear that question loud and clear.  Carbs were the worst.  Recently I have been feeling challenged by the excess carbs that are being added to the menus in my home since my husband has retired.  And it was no different this weekend.  From freshly baked dinner rolls to more than seven pies (but I did contribute two bean pies to try to introduce a new taste to the family) … it made for difficulty in navigating the Thanksgiving buffet.  Selecting turkey over the ham loaf wasn’t hard but walking past the dinner rolls was like slicing my wrists.  I was dying to dive in and never look back.  But I didn’t.

I stood for myself and asked to have unsweetened tea made.  I did enjoy asparagus wrapped with bacon and baked.  My brother-in-law didn’t realize that he was helping me have a bit of enjoyment with his addition to the menu. Thank you Dan!  And my sister, Janell, added fresh broccoli to the menu.

Okay, enough whining.  I am keeping my eye on the prize of being healthy and it is one day (well in this case,  a weekend) out of the big picture.  When I look at pictures from last year compared to this year – I have made great strides.  Over 110# gone forever.  I am drinking my Body by Vi shakes while I am traveling to help keep me on track.  It has made a difference between caving in totally or not.

During my trip back to Ohio, I was able to catch up with some friends.  To remind myself how far I have come, I stopped in to see Lee Kelly and take a picture in the same spot where we took one last year.  This my friends, is my measure of success….

I am thankful for the success that I have had the past 11 months.  I am pleased to see that the closet is starting to fill with smaller clothes and that the fat clothes are gone.  I am having fun finding new clothes and new looks.  It is an amazing feeling to walk into a store and buy “pretty” clothes that make me feel pretty.

So for the quick comparison – I re-created a photo with my dear friend and wonderful supporter, Lee Kelly on Thanksgiving Day this year.

With Lee Kelly on Thanksgiving 2012

With Lee Kelly on Thanksgiving 2011

With Lee on Thanksgiving November 2012

With Lee on Thanksgiving November 2012

So my friends…as I approach my year anniversary of the surgery that has changed my life, I leave you with this thought.  When you want something bad enough, you can have it – simply put it out to the universe and begin living as if it is so – and it will come to pass.

If you are reading this blog and are considering one of the bariatric surgeries, I am very open to listening to your concerns as well as sharing my insights to help you make a decision that is best for you.

Watch for the annual update blog!

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!

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….