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! :)

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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!)

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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!

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Creeping out of the weight loss surgery closet… could it be worth it?

The topic of whether or not to share the decision to have weight loss surgery with others is often brought up in weight loss surgery forums and blogs. It’s a personal decision and I usually find there are two “camps” 1) people that stay incredibly private about their decision or 2) people that are an open book.

Since beginning this process 20 months ago, I have remained pretty private about the whole thing. I told limited family and friends about my decision – basically only the people I absolutely knew would provide me with support. I’m a sensitive person and I care what people think of me. I wish I were a bit more evolved and didn’t care at all (I envy those kinds of people), but I have enough self-awareness to know that being the recipient of judgment and negativity was going to hinder my ability to stay on course (as an emotional eater that hasn’t completely conquered my issues).

When people ask me what I’m doing to lose weight, I jokingly respond with “I don’t eat a thing that tastes good” and the subject usually changes. Nobody has ever really pushed the issue. I have never been asked if I’ve had weight loss surgery, although people do ask my mother-in-law, brother-in-law, and closest friends. I made it clear to these individuals that they are free to answer the question however they would like… as I do not expect them to lie for me. That’s a terrible position to put somebody in and when asked, these individuals respect my privacy by saying “I don’t know, you’d have to ask her!” – which of course, nobody ever seems to do.

I was asked a few months ago by someone on Facebook in a private message what I did to lose the weight. I knew this person to be a trustworthy person so I confided in her my decision to have surgery because she is someone that could potentially benefit from it, though she would be a lightweight. She was very supportive and told me she was proud. I have been much more likely to put pictures on Facebook lately and so of course, I get more questions about what I’ve been doing.

Two days ago, a girl I graduated high school with asked me what my secret was… and I know this girl to be overweight enough to qualify for surgery. I had an internal debate on how to answer her. On one hand, I desperately wanted to share with her my experience and to be completely honest… and on the other hand, I know she lives in my small hometown and that when you tell one person, you might as well tell everyone. I started a conversation with her this evening just simply offering to her a list of what I eat everyday… but we got to talking and I could almost feel her desperation (that’s a bad word, but I can’t think of anything more appropriate) to regain her health and happiness.

I threw out the idea of weight loss surgery by saying something along the lines of, “I think a person needs to do whatever they can to get where they need to be… I think weight loss surgery is great, doctors, nutritionists, therapy, etc.” When I said this, she said she thought she could do it on her own and that “The idea of surgery scares the crap out of me… too many bad stories about that” Immediately I knew that she had this idea in her head of the neighbor’s, uncle’s, best friend’s, brother that had surgery and died! I immediately felt compelled to say “NO, WAIT! LOOK AT ME! I had surgery and I am great!”

Honestly… that’s kind of how it went from there. I told her that after losing 100+ lbs in a supervised diet, I had a long way to go and I needed more help. I told her that I had a surgery less invasive than gastic bypass, but very effective. She immediately started asking me genuine questions and the information started to pour out of me. I shared with her my first progress picture and the pic of me at 18 months out from the start of the supervised diet wearing the same clothes. She was amazed. She asked more questions…. I could literally feel her hope and energy coming through the computer. She’s about to take a trip to Disney and has already asked me if we could talk when she gets back. She wants to know more about the doctors I used, the surgery I had, and all of my experiences. Like I said, I could feel her hope and energy through the screen… and I was immediately glad I shared the information.

I’m not ready to tell the world I have had surgery. I am not ready to make some kind of Facebook announcement or to be the poster child for the VSG; however, with the way I am feeling in this very moment after this conversation…. if the entire town I come from finds out I’ve had surgery and the “secret” is out, then so be it. The idea that within just a few minutes I could give someone like her… who is in the exact some position I was in less than 2 years ago, hope for the future (regardless of whether or not she goes through with it), then it has become 100000% worth it. I actually never expected to feel that way about it and who knows maybe I will change my mind if everyone actually does find out and start questioning me HA HA! But right now, I am so very glad I made myself vulnerable!

Rollercoaster NSV (w/ pics) & Update

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted… but things have been going well. Like so many other people that have surgery, lose weight, and then sort of “disappear” from blogs and message boards, I’m just living life and finally experiencing all of the things I’ve felt that I’ve been missing for the past 7 or 8 years! I’ve been trying to keep busy this summer… maybe a little too busy (with work), but I’ve also been trying to have a lot of fun!!

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to cross a “30 by 30” task off of my list in the form of a rollercoaster NSV! The last time I was on a rollercoaster was almost exactly 9 years ago. My husband and I had just started dating and we decided to spend a weekend at Hershey Park in Hershey, PA. At the time, I would estimate that I weighed about 260 lbs (since I was about 245-250 when I met him and later that year in November, I was 274 at a doctor’s appointment). We had a great time on that day 9 years ago, but I will admit that it was a little bit upsetting (and a bit of an eye-opener) when it became apparent that I was on the verge of not being able to ride any of the rides due to my weight. Some of the rollercoaster seatbelts and fasteners were pretty close to not latching like they should. Needless to say, we haven’t been back since that day because my weight continued to climb until I hit my heaviest of 444 lbs in November 2012!

I’ve been bugging my husband for the last couple of months to go back so that I could ride on these rides. Finally, we did that yesterday and it really was a great time! Although, we did find that now that we’re older… we’re not as “care free” and are a little more afraid of dying on these rides than we used to be hahaha!

It truly is an amazing feeling to be able to walk around the park for hours and stand in line without being in pain… it’s amazing to sit in the seat without worry of having to get off due to my size… and it’s amazing to finally get to do something I’ve been longing to do for so many years. Focusing on being able to do things like this have become really important, since I’ve been in the same weight window of about 194-200 lbs for the past 4-5 months.

Now, for the pics! At the entrance of the park, they have measurement signs to show you how tall you have to be in order to ride certain rides. To be goofy, I stood next to one.. you know… just to make sure at almost 5’10” I would make the cut LOL!

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Here is a pic from the “Stormrunner” roller coaster of my husband and I from 2005. We were 20-21 years old in this pic lol! I was about 260 lbs in that pic.

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Here is a pic from the same “Stormrunner” roller coaster of my husband and I from yesterday. Feeling comfortable in the seat at around 198 lbs! :)

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Can 29 Beat 28? One Year Until 30!!

Woohooo – today is my birthday! I’m a person that really likes birthdays…. as my Dad would always make a big deal about it when I was a kid. It was my “special day” – where we got to do what I wanted, when I wanted, eat whatever I wanted for dinner, and usually the gift was pretty nice too! Honestly, in our household, birthdays were always a much bigger deal and have many more happy memories than Christmas. It felt like the one day of the year that I got whatever I wanted and didn’t have to feel guilty about it!

I will admit, since moving away from home, birthdays haven’t felt nearly as special. Add in the fact that my husband’s family never really got too excited about birthdays (they are big into Christmas though) and he doesn’t really make it special in anyway… they have almost lost their appeal. Last year I had a root canal on my birthday for crying out loud! It’s wasn’t a good time, that’s for sure.

Last year, I declared that 28 was going to be “my year” and boy was it! I took a look back at my food tracking app and noticed that at my birthday last year, I was 307.4 lbs… already down about 137 lbs from the 7 months prior. I was on top of the world at that point and couldn’t imagine things getting so much better…. but here I am, living and loving life… weighing in at 194.6 this morning and celebrating getting another year older.

I decide to do something that I never do today and that was take a selfie and post it on Facebook. I’m not entirely open about my surgery with people in my real life, so drawing the extra attention to myself by posting selfies was never really my thing. But, I decided I was going to embrace the attention and compliments on my “special day” and just go for it! Plus, maybe if people on Facebook see pictures of me online, then they won’t be so shocked to see me in person and they’ll calm down a little about how I look haha!

Posting the picture though made me realize that I have a longgggg way to go in the mental aspect of this whole thing. I look at the picture below and although I think I look nice it… I’ve noticed myself focusing in heavily on my mid-section! I can’t stop looking at the bulge in my dress and feeling so frustrated that it’s there. I mean, I know I need to get a grip…. but it’s bothering me that I’m focusing so heavily on it. Maybe most people can’t even see it LOL – why do I do this to myself?

I am having plastics at the end of September, but my body will never be perfect… so I really need to figure out how to get a better attitude about the way I look. It’s something to work on at the next therapy appointment, that’s for sure! I know I’m being ridiculous… but it’s not like feeling are always rational, right?

So anyway… I’m 29 today and looking forward to the upcoming year. I hope it’s even better than the last. The name of this blog is Flirty by Thirty because I had a desire to get back to feeling good, looking good, and being healthy by the time I hit 30 years old. I have one year left, and I think I can make it happen ;)

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Trying to appreciate the little things when weight loss has stopped! (w/ pics)

I’m like most people. I love losing weight. The high I feel when I get on that scale and see the number go down has always been something I’ve always craved and enjoyed! The real down side is that the feeling is just as intense, in a bad way, when you see the number go up. I’ve always wondered how mentally difficult it would be to maintain weight and I’m finding that so far, I’m not very good at it!

I’m not very good at it because my weight has very dramatic swings on the scale. As you may recall, I wrote a post not that long ago about gaining 13 lbs in a single week! Of course, that weight came off quickly… but with me, it seems as though just as soon as I get the weight off, I’m gaining back up and sometimes slightly over my “comfortable weight limit” and it really takes no effort at all to make that happen. I’m not sure what it is about my body that makes it so easy for me to gain and then to lose it quickly… but it’s been mentally tough to work with, that’s for sure! The good news is that I’ve come to understand that this is how it’s going to be and so controlling it has been something I’ve been improving!

So anyway, I don’t really get the high too much anymore, because it’s rare that I see a “new all-time low” on the scale. That number was 193.8 and this morning I was 195.4 – down from the 202.2 I was on Saturday (I know, right? I lose it just as quickly as I gain it sometimes). I’m not actively trying to lose weight due to all the things going on in my life, though I wouldn’t complain if the weight loss continued to happen. So, since I’m in this “temporary, but possibly permanent, who really freaking knows” maintenance phase… I’ve been trying to focus on the NSVs and little things to try and get myself in a mentally positive place!

This morning, I realized I didn’t have to teach any classes or have meetings at work so I could wear jeans – woohoo! I only own two pairs at the moment (any weight loss surgery patient knows that buying too many items of clothing for the first couple of years could be a waste of money!) and so I grabbed a pair and put them right on and I had an epiphany.

When was there ANY time in my life, where I didn’t dread or avoid washing/drying jeans for fear that they wouldn’t fit the next time I went to put them on? The answer is that there hasn’t been. Even when I was this weight in high school, I was always losing/gaining and never maintaining and so this lack of worry about my jeans fitting is completely new to me. I took a moment to stop and appreciate this very little victory!

The me in the pictures below on the left was always worried about things like this – fitting in chairs, restaurant booths, airplanes, seatbelts, breaking things, fitting into clothing, having to order clothes online, and washing/drying jeans (just to name a few). It’s so freely to not feel that way anymore!!

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