One Week to Go Before Plastic Surgery!

In exactly one week, I will be in surgery with Dr. Joseph Capella… having a lower body lift, arm lift, and breast lift. The emotions running through me are crazy. The strongest emotion I’m feeling is excitement. I can’t wait to wake up in the morning and NOT spend at least 5-7 minutes pulling my skin around, imagining what I would look like without all of it there. Dr. Capella estimates that he’ll be removing approximately 10 lbs of skin, fat, and tissue. Honestly, I could care less about what the scale says in response to having this stuff removed… I just want to like the way I look and feel.

I’m also feeling a bit of stress. There is a lot to do at work before I’m out for 3-4 weeks and I’m also afraid something will happen and the surgery will be cancelled or delayed. I had similar feelings when I was waiting to be sleeved, so hopefully these fears are just irrational and everything goes smoothly. The stress has been taking a toll on my eating though, and I’m not happy that the scale said 204.6 lbs this morning. Now, 3 days ago it was 199.8 where it had been for a little while, so I know I didn’t gain almost 5 lbs of real weight in that time; however, I need to get a grip – most of that weight I’m sure is real and I was already at the top of the range I was maintaining in (195-200). It worries me that I have been having a hard time staying on track lately. I don’t like it and I know I need to get a hold of myself. I have a lot of concerns about being inactive after plastic surgery – and I’m concerned the medication, fatigue, and being in pain will affect my food choices negatively. The goal is to buckle down this next week and get myself back under 200 lbs before surgery. If a couple of these pounds are just water weight, then hopefully it shouldn’t be an impossible task. But, I have to prepare myself for the fact that it might not happen and just do my best.

To help with this, I made sure I went to bed a bit early last night. Nothing gets me off track more than stress and lack of sleep – and that’s the state I’ve been in the past couple of weeks. This morning, I took the time to pack all of my meals/snacks for the day. I wasn’t planning on going to the gym, but I got my clothes together and will go after work. Finally, I had planned to NOT take vacation this afternoon to stay at work; however, a lot of my stress comes from being behind on many things – work, freelance work, school work, and house work. I’ve got a lot of things caught up at my full-time job… so taking an afternoon off and being productive with it could be very helpful in eliminating the stress. Eliminating the stress will help with getting back on track, I know this about myself.

I can’t believe plastic surgery is almost here. I haven’t wanted something to happen so much since the VSG surgery and I’m just hoping everything goes well…

 

Color Run Comparison 2013 vs. 2014 (w/ pics)

Last year, after losing around 200 lbs from my heaviest weight, I participated in The Color Run 5k. I felt great, looked great, and walked the whole thing. This was something I was incredibly proud of at the time, but I knew that my goal for 2014 would be to start running, and to run the entire thing the next year.

It’s crazy to me how quickly time passes. When you’re in the moment, it feels as though this journey can take forever (not that it’s really ever OVER, but hopefully you know what I mean)… but I really can’t believe that it was a year ago that I wrote the post I linked to above and walked my first 5k. Today, I participated in the same event…. almost 250 lbs down and 11 days away from plastic surgery, which I am so excited about I can’t stand it! I’m proud to say that I ran the entire thing with a time of exactly 32 minutes!

The ups and downs of the past (almost) two years have been completely worth the way I feel on days like today. I’m so glad that I have pictures and my blog to look back on as a reminder of how far I’ve come. When I started blogging…it truly was for me to have something to look back on – I didn’t really ever expect or know if anyone else would ever read it. Now, it’s nice to have as I’ve noticed that it has been easier and easier to forget the mental, emotional, and physical pain of being severely morbidly obese. Although I do want to move on from the guilt and shame of getting myself to such a place and forget about it to some extent, I never want to forget it completely so that I remind myself why I never want to go back “there” – ever again!

And now… just a little comparison pic – where I started, where I was last year at this time, and where I am today!

ColorRunComparison

 

Paying for Expensive Plastic Surgery

I’ve had a few people on the message boards, Facebook groups, and my blog ask me recently how I’m paying for plastic surgery and whether or not my insurance is covering anything. I thought it would be a potentially informative or helpful thing to write about in a post!

First, my insurance is not paying for any part of the plastic surgery that I’m having in the next two weeks. While insurance would pay for some surgery if I were experiencing documented and recurring rashes, I have not (thankfully) experienced any of those kinds of problems. I knew when I started this process almost two years ago that I was going want plastic surgery, should I ever get anywhere close to a “normal” weight. I also moved forward with the assumption that I would get no help from insurance, not that I would expect to…. so about two years ago, I decided if I wanted it bad enough, I would make a plan for paying for it!

So, a little over two years ago, I paid off my car. I don’t have to drive much to and from work, so I knew the car could last me a decent amount of time. Within six months before I started the weight loss journey, I had started putting the $300/month I was spending on the car into a savings account – pretending to still make “payments” to save money for the down payment on another. It wasn’t long after I started the weight loss journey that I decided to forgo the new car and use that fund (that was barely started) for plastic surgery.

Time went by… I got a promotion. I calculated the increase in my paycheck each month (I get paid monthly) and I added that to the $300. Then, raises came…. I added that to the $300. Then, another promotion and raise… added that as well. Up until last month, I was up to putting $600/month away into this fund. Over the course of almost 2 years, I managed to save $10,000 exactly – just a little over half of what I would need to pay for the first round of surgery – breast lift, lower body lift, and extended arm lift that cost about $19,500.

So, for the remaining $9,500 and misc. expenses that come with having the surgery, I financed with a loan from the credit union where I work. I chose the credit union because they had the best rates. Thankfully, my credit score is in the 800s, so securing financing at a good rate was not difficult at all. I’m hoping to continue to take that $600 and make payments on the loan for about two years. My husband and I agreed that if I choose to do a “round 2″ for plastic surgery (thighs and/or implants) that I would pay for that surgery completely on my own with the money I make doing freelance work. Fair deal, in my opinion!

What would I have done if I didn’t have the extra cash or didn’t have very good credit? Honestly, I would’ve gotten a second job and saved for as long as humanly possible. My “second job” now is the freelance work that I do and I’m lucky that I can do that at home for what I consider to be decent money. If I didn’t have this opportunity, you’d find me at the local retail store, restaurant, wherever working in the evenings and weekends to make the extra cash! I want it bad enough to do whatever it takes!

There are a lot of people that are completely happy without having plastic surgery. I’m jealous of them! They say they wear their excess skin like a “badge of honor” and I just can’t get adopt that thinking – for myself. I wish I could. I don’t know if that means I’m vain, have low self-esteem, or if it’s because of my age or what…. but I want this stuff gone and I don’t ever want to see it again. When I look in the mirror, I see a reminder of a period of time when I didn’t take care of myself, was miserable, and on my way to an early grave!

I’ve felt a lot of guilt over the past 6 months about spending this kind of money to fix a body that I destroyed. However, with some therapy, reflection, and the passing of a little time… I’ve learned to let it go. There’s nothing I can do about it now, except be the healthiest person I can be and keep the weight off for life. I’ve got a second chance and I don’t want to ruin it – and I know exactly how easy that would be to do!

Plastic Surgery After Massive Weight Loss: Pre-Op Exam & My “Famous” Body!

I feel as though writing about yesterday’s pre-op appointment with the plastic surgeon is a great way to officially kick off my updates about the process. My blog has been a little quiet for little awhile, because there hasn’t been much to say – but that’s certainly all about to change! For those of you that don’t know, I’m having Round 1 (of possibly 2) of plastics done with Dr. Joseph Capella in Ramsey, NJ. It’s about a 3 1/2 hour drive for me (without traffic) and I definitely think it will be totally worth it.

I chose Dr. Capella because of several reasons. First, he has a reputation as being one of the best plastic surgeons in the country for patients of massive weight loss. I’ve seen a lot of his work and it really is great. Also, after a lot of research, I really do feel as though his prices are reasonable, he can combine several procedures at once, and he is very efficient in the ER. For Round 1, I will be having an extended arm lift, breast lift, and lower body lift. I will be in the OR for a total of 6 hours and it will cost $19,500 (approximately). I went to a consult with another doctor that would spent 11 hours in surgery doing just the lower body lift and arm lift for $22,500 and has less experience…. so I definitely feel as though I’m making the right choice.

Dr. Capella also has an amazing bedside manner. He’s so friendly, patient, and all smiles when you talk to him. I will admit, I was a bit smitten with him! haha :) So, anyway… yesterday I showed up for my pre-op appointment where the surgery coordinator went over my pre-op instructions, I made my payment (ugh, ouch!), and she gave me my prescriptions.

When it was time to see Dr. Capella, he answered all of the questions that I had and showed me before and after pictures of people that looked very similar to me in terms of how much excess skin/tissue they had. I’m very excited to see how I will look to say the least! The worst part of the appointment was when he showed me my pictures. Does anybody really like to look at naked pictures of themselves? I’m guessing no! lol!

Then came the interesting part! Dr. Capella said that he’s going to be giving a few lectures at a few conferences in the coming months and that he would like to record my surgery to show during these presentations. He said that I’m the perfect candidate to show people attending the conferences that I’m a “tough case” after losing almost 250 lbs, but someone with a really great shape underneath that will have an excellent result with the techniques he’s using. When he said I was the “perfect candidate” for this surgery… I said, “Oh, I bet you say that to everyone” – yes, flirting a little maybe hahahahaha or at least trying to – and he smiled and said “oh no, definitely not! definitely not!”

So, although there will be no face or identifying information in the video… any talks he is doing in the upcoming months will have my hot mess of a naked body in it! Pretty awesome lol! Yesterday, he did a “mock markup” with a sharpie and his assistant recorded it so that he could have that as well. It was actually pretty cool to see just how much he’s going to remove and from where…. it got me SO excited for the process. Though, I will admit that I haven’t completely gotten the lines off of me yet! LOL He was very appreciative that I would let him do this and told me he was VERY excited for my surgery because he thinks he’s going to be able to give me exactly what I want. It was music to my ears.

Probably the night before surgery, I’m going to be posting before photos here on my blog. Personally, I would’ve found it really helpful to see what the body of someone at my “stats” would look like after losing 250 lbs… and I want to be informative! I may password-protect it though, just so that people don’t see almost naked pictures the second they open my site haha… I still have to figure that all out.

Next step: Tomorrow’s medical clearance appointment with my PCP. Assuming all is well, she’s going to sign off on surgery and I will send that and my lab results to Dr. Capella’s office in the morning. Then, I’ll book a few nights in the hotel for my stay afterwards. Can’t wait!

Vacation Musings, Part I (w/ pic!)

The other day, I returned from a vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I was really dreading this vacation at first, because staying with family in a big beach house can be a really tricky thing. It can be hard to live with other people – even if only for a week. However, I tried to change my attitude about the vacation and go into it with the mindset that I was going to have a great time – and stay on top of my weight. I’m happy to report, with the exception of some car trouble that left me stranded in the OBX for a few extra days… things were great!

I went on this vacation with my mother, her husband, my brother, and my sister. They came to my house on a Saturday to spend the night and we were all leaving (in two separate cars) the next morning. The first thing I noticed when they arrived was that my Mom had put back on all of her weight (she had lost maybe 60-70 pounds about 18-24 months ago), my 16 year old sister had gained weight, and my brother was no longer on his major lifestyle change/nutrition guru/health kick. When I noticed these changes, I had a couple of thoughts.

  • Many members of my family have struggled with weight their entire lives. They’ve all had great success in losing weight – but not always as much as they needed and NOBODY ever keeps it off. This is a BIG reason I decided to have VSG, despite losing over 100 lbs on the six month supervised diet.
  • My Mom has spent her entire life going up and down in weight. I have seen this woman work SO unbelievably hard and lose anywhere between 60-100 lbs probably a dozen times in my 30 years on Earth. When I told her I was getting surgery, it was at the height of her last loss and she tried desperately to convince me (for an email or two) not to go through with it – that I could do it on my own. “See a nutritionist like I am!” – at the time, I wanted to point out to her that she has great success in losing weight, but never kept it off. I wanted to say to her that I didn’t want to spent my entire life going up and down like she does… but of course, I didn’t say it. I didn’t want it to come out wrong.
  • My 16 year old sister yo-yos a bit too and it’s all related to how my Mom is eating. When my Mom is at her thinnest, my sister is at her thinnest. When my Mom is gaining, my sister is gaining. I don’t think this is a coincidence. My sister is also not very active and that concerns me – my Mom doesn’t seem to mind though because she always wanted me to be at home with her doing nothing after school. Without my Dad’s encouragement, I never would have been active as a kid.
  • My brother decided on his 31st birthday in March that he was going to turn his life around an lose weight – he started around 500 lbs. He went all gung-ho and hard core…. you know, with constant Facebook updates, rants about processed food, tips on recipes and nutrition, etc. etc. Although I find this approach to be a little annoying (acting like an expert when you’ve been eating well for a couple of months), I was still very proud of his progress. For his birthday and to show support, I even bought him a scale that would hold his weight so that he could accurately measure his progress. He was doing really well, he got down to I think about 411 lbs, and then the Facebook updates stopped. To me, that was a sign that things were off the path, but I didn’t think much of it at the time.

So, we go on this vacation, there are tons of snacks in the house and all I could notice was the amount of food everybody was eating – including me. It was amazing to me how quickly when I’m in the right setting, I could go completely off the rails and eat like I used to. When I was observing others and reflecting on my own eating habits the first night we were there (Sunday) and for most of Monday, it occurred to me how incredibly normal this kind of eating was in my household when growing up. The good news is though that this isn’t my normal anymore. Because it isn’t my normal… I recognized where I was heading and vowed that I was going to keep myself together on this vacation! So, everyday I woke up…. went for a walk/run…. swam laps in the pool, and took walks along the beach in the evening.

The exercise really helped to offset the eating I was doing. After the first day, I ate well… but still ate more than normal and I will admit, I did partake in some wine drinking on more than a couple of evenings! It was an uncomfortable feeling to not be able to weigh myself everyday to keep an eye on things – especially when I wasn’t tracking my food. I could have tried to track my food, but I was eating so many things with no nutrition information on it, that anything I recorded would’ve been a big guesstimation! It really was a different experience. Not constantly weighing, tracking intake, etc. is what it appears to me most “normal” people without severe weight problem balance things out. They keep things in moderation, stay active, and weigh on occasion. Yikes… I’m not ready for that yet… but someday hope that I will be! I dream of a day when I can do a good enough job of watching what I eat without tracking every little thing, stay active, and get on the scale each week and have it be close to the same number.

On that note, I was really concerned about gaining weight while on the trip and not being able to get back on track when I returned. I have been maintaining in a 195-200 lb window (for the most part) since February and I was already heading into the vacation at the high end at 200.6. It was difficult to not just throw caution to the wind and go crazy with eating and not exercise… but I really wanted to keep it in check. I’m happy to report that I was 201.2 when I returned on Tuesday and as of this morning, was 199. My goal is to get back to my low end of the range (195) on the day I have plastic surgery – September 25th. At this point, losing 4 more lbs in 4 weeks could be a challenge lol… but one I’m ready to conquer!

I have so many more weight loss related thoughts on this vacation, but it’s too much to sort through and write about now. So, I’ll leave you with a vacation selfie! :)

VacationSelfie

Wearing a Bathing Suit After a 250 lb Loss (w/ pics)

Today starts my vacation in the Outer Banks, NC. I’ve been dreading, yet looking forward to this vacation for the last couple of months. Dreading it because I’m staying with family and that can be tricky – but looking forward to it because I have been working non-stop for a long, long time.

I really would have liked to be at the bottom of my weight maintenance range when I left. I had good intentions of eating well on vacation, but I can see already on the first day that it’s going to be a major challenge. I was 200 lbs when I left for vacation – the very top of my range – and I really hope that I can keep it in check while I’m here! The good news is that I ran/walked for about an hour this morning and then swam in the pool as well. Hopefully, I can stay active and offset some of the poor eating. Ugh!

Now on to the reason for my post! I’m at the beach, we have a private pool, and yet I had no bathing suit. I put off going shopping for one for as long as I could. Wearing a bathing suit after losing 250 lbs is no fun. It makes me dream of the plastics that is going to happen in about 5 1/2 weeks. The good news is that I found a suit that is most flattering to my body and I hide a lot of the skin inside of it! The situation could be MUCH worse and I’m trying to look at the positive for a change.

Here is a comparison of the beginning of this journey and a shot of me in my bathing suit (yikes!)

BathingSuitComparison BathingSuitComparison2

Maintaining Weight Sucks!!

So, I’ve been maintaining my weight in a window of about 194-200 lbs since February. At first, this new phase of maintenance was not intentional… I simply found myself having some “diet fatigue” as some people call it and having a hard being hardcore about losing my last 20-25 lbs. Then, life got in the way… things got busy and I had to get realistic about what kind of effort (mentally and physically) I could put in to being dedicated to being in a weight loss phase. After all, I had been incredibly focused on it for a year and a half and after almost 250 lbs lost, I was exhausted!! I decided (with a thumbs-up from several physicians) that I was going to maintain my weight in a 195-200 window until after I have plastic surgery.

I’ve found that maintaining weight really sucks…. and it’s hard LOL. I’m not very good at it, probably because I have very little practice. I have always been either steadily gaining weight (and not caring/caring OR, I’ve been trying desperately to lose weight). This whole thing is hard because I’ve found that it’s an uncomfortable feeling. Mentally it’s hard to wrap my head around…. “What do you mean you aren’t trying to lose weight?!?! You’ve spent almost 30 years trying to lose weight… and NOW it’s not the ultimate goal?” Even if I were at what I considered to be my original goal weight, I think I would probably feel this way. The idea that I shouldn’t be trying to lose weight is this new mindset that is still making me very uncomfortable. Uncomfortable is the only way I can really describe it!

I’m really looking forward to a time when I feel like I can stop (for the most part) worrying about my goal being a number on a scale. I have a plan, and I hope that it’s a good one (for me) but who knows if it will be! I plan to maintain weight (ok, so if I lost below 195, that’s just a bonus) and then undergo my first round of plastics (maybe one) on September 25th (wooohooo! can’t wait!). Then, I’m going to heal, and enjoy my new body…. one that I hopefully will love. Once I’m healed, the goal is to get back into the gym and around the end of the year (3 months post plastics) when hopefully the majority of regular swelling goes down, and get another body fat % test done. I would really like to see how that compares with the body fat % test I did at the beginning of this year. THEN, based on body fat %…. I will create a new scale goal for myself and keep plugging along until I get there…. even if it takes me the next 50 years LOL!

These are just some random thoughts on where my head is at right now! Ideally, I would have powered through and lost the last 20 lbs (which I surely could’ve done by now… even at a 1 lb per week rate)… but I’m human and I do the best I can! Here is a comparison pic… just for fun! Yesterday’s pic on the right was me at 199 lbs!

Comparison