Losing myself: The journey to find the new me

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25th High School Reunion

Just the mere mention of those three words can be enough to send any woman into a frenzy. For me there was a little bit of anxiety but not as much as I had ten years ago when the ladies got together last got together for a reunion. I went to an all-girls high school, well at least the last two years were spent there, so there was added pressure to see the girls again at the last reunion. I didn’t feel confident, was heavy, fat whatever you want to call it and was having financial struggles, so I opted not to go. This time I felt a bit better about attending because frankly at my age a woman needs to just be confident no matter what. Yes, I have a new body but regardless of what body you are in it helps to be more confident in your own skin. Anyhoo, this would be our 25th reunion and because we were a small school we turned it into an all-class reunion. We were down to the wire and I was exhausted and unsure if I would go. Work has been very demanding lately and that week was no exception. I had just overseen two high level events that week and I was pooped. At the last minute I decided to attend the reunion. It was great seeing my classmates and meeting other alumnae but as tired as I was I didn’t get to enjoy myself fully.


My tired self at the reunion


Another concern I had that evening was drinking. Post-surgery drinking can be a huge problem, which is why it is discouraged. Some may continue to drink but with the smaller stomachs your body quickly metabolizes the alcohol and if you are not careful you can find yourself in some embarrassing situations and very drunk. Being that I was there with a few school friends and not family, who have served as overseers per se when I have had drinks in public at other times, I chose to abstain. It really was one of those nights that I missed my old body. I felt great physically and was thinner than when I graduated but it was a social event that would have been great to have enjoyed with a drink.

Another reason I didn’t drink was dehydration. I still battle fluid intake and it is worse when I am busy. I spend the day before the reunion in bed and barely able to walk because I was dehydrated. I actually thought I was going to have to go to the hospital and get IVs. Only being able to drink a small amount of water and staggering it 30 minutes before or after meals creates hydration issues for me. This is my new normal but dehydration seems to be my new normal as well.


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I’m Back!!!

I’m having an Anita Baker moment and feeling that I have to say I apologize. I have been away for so long and can’t help but feel bad. There’s been a variety of things have occurred but still no reason to be gone for so long so let me catch you up.

I was part of a panel for the AHA Go Red luncheon back in February. I was so tired that day that I wasn’t on my game like I should have been but it was still a good experience. I got to meet the gorgeous Laila Ali and I must say she is much more striking than I would have imagined. She discussed having to balance healthy habits with her work schedule as well as family obligations to her husband and two children. Very relatable.


Go Red festivities. Gotta work on my poses.

Photo credits: Lou Martin, Cassandra Spratling-Detroit Free Press, Andrea Stinson

Hmm, what else. Well the weight has stayed somewhat the same. At my lowest I was 162.8 and at the highest I have been 173. I don’t hover over my weight that much but try to eat right and not take in too many carbs. With the summer nearly over, which means holiday, my birthday and about seven other relative’s birthday, I am back to focusing on the weight, which is one of the reason I feel the need to connect with you again. I started back to school a few weeks ago so it has be even more challenging to eat right, make good choices and exercise. The last part really has been a struggle. I started a health challenge this week that requires 30 minutes of exercise and as of 4:21 pm when I write this I haven’t exercised. Granted it 86 degrees so it isn’t ideal for exercising but I need to get it in.

I haven’t been tracking like I should or following the rules of weight loss surgery. Big no no’s! I’ve come too far too slowly allow old bad habits to wreck my progress. So I am appealing to you for help to encourage me to stay on track and be accountable. I know it is ultimately decisions that I need to make but as they say it takes a village.


Surprising benefit of weight loss

When you lose weight there are obvious things we associate with weight loss progress. Your clothes fit better. You may feel less winded when you walk, talk and climb stairs. Maybe your knees hurt less. Two of my favorites were being able to fully wrap a towel around and taking up less space in the bathtub. I think I just found my new favorite- improved vision!

I’ve worn glasses since I was 8 or 9 years old. It’s been so long I don’t quite remember. I learned I needed glasses after I was running around gym class in elementary school and ran into a wall. Literally. True story, crazy right! My depth perception was off and I didn’t realize where the wall was so that was my first real indication that I needed an eye exam and glasses. After wearing glasses and contacts for 35 years, and being in a bifocals for ten years, you don’t expect to hear that there is improvement in your vision. At an eye exam this past weekend I was told for the second year in a row that my vision improved. Two clicks worth of improvement to be exact. My last visit was just over two months after my weight loss surgery and while I was already off my diabetes medicine I wasn’t convinced that I really did have improvement in my vision that quickly. My recent visit confirmed the improvement. Diabetes wreaks havoc on the body but is especially hard on your vision. According to the National Eye Institute , diabetic retinopathy (damage to the retina that can lead to blindness), cataracts and glaucoma can plague someone with diabetes. Having now eliminated my pre-diabetes/diabetes status with last year’s surgery, it is obvious that not only has my general health improved but my eye health as well.

Excuse the barely there fresh face look and the hat. It was only 1 degrees outside when I took this.

Another one of those non-scale victory moments came when I was selecting frames. This was the first time I had tried on glasses with the new, thinner face. I probably hadn’t purchased glasses at this weight since I was about 15 or 16 years old so for a moment I felt like that time I got intimidated by selecting pants. I’m a little more used to these situations now but it did take me by surprise. The lovely tech at Normandy Optical, where I have purchased glasses and contacts for over ten years now, helped me land on the pair above. What do you think? I can’t wait until they arrive so I can start sporting new frames, with my two clicks of vision improvement!

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Celebrities and Weight Loss

One of my guilty pleasures is following celebrity gossip. My family will often call me when they can’t remember a detail about a celebrity since I try to keep up on the latest info. My SO even refers to me as ET and Access Hollywood. My knowledge of celebrities has obviously been peaked by certain ones who like me have struggled with weight loss. Several come to mind, especially since many of them become pitchmen for weight loss products. I forget about Maria Osmond until this time of year when her ads start popping up. Jessica Simpson had some rocky beginnings as a spokeswoman but looks great now. And we all know about Oprah and her wagon of fat and skinny jeans. Remember that scene? How can we forget? Others like Star Jones remained quiet for a long time about her weight loss surgery and was highly criticized by many including Rosie O’Donnell, who also went on to have weight loss surgery as well. I put Star in a success category, along with Al Roker and Osmond, who have managed to keep the weight off.


Photo credits: Roker http://rollingout.com/entertainment/al-roker-master-of-disguise/; Jones http://cdn.hiphopwired.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/star-jones-the-view-2.jpg

And then there’s Kirstie Alley. I’ve followed Kristie’s career for several decades. I remember a thin Kirstie in Star Trek Wrath of Khan back in 82. She had a striking look, even as a Vulcan, and went on to many successful years on television. While on Cheers we began to witness her battle with weight gain.

450x300_kirstie alley weight loss

Photo Credit: http://www.dietsinreview.com/slideshows/shocking-celebrity-weight-loss-stories/kirstie-alleys-weight-loss/

Like Carnie Wilson, Kirstie has been the unofficial spokeswoman for yo-yo diets. Carnie had gastric bypass in 1999 and lap band in 2012 after gaining back the weight. While Kristie hasn’t had WLS we have witnessed her yo-yo weight and representation for several weight loss companies, including a personal weight loss product many linked to her religion.


Photo Credit: http://www.examiner.com

It’s January and the popular month to talk about weight loss and Alley is back on the circuit discussing her most recent 50 pound weight loss. She looks great and I wish her much success. Based on her history I can’t help but pause. Many would say that since she is a celebrity she shouldn’t have problems staying thin because she has celebrity trainers and chefs at her disposal. Same has been said about Oprah. What they fail to acknowledge is no matter who you are or what your status, commitment to weight loss is mental. If you want to lose weight and keep it off you have to be mentally prepared for the work and stick to it. Al Roker said he hates working out but knows that is what he needs to do to keep the weight off.

I won’t speculate about why Kirstie seems to lose and gain the same 50+ pounds. Or why Carnie gained back 2/3 of the 159 pounds she lost after her first WLS. It honestly can happen to any of us no matter what route we chose to lose weight. If you’ve struggled with your weight you know there’s no one factor that makes you gain, although accountability is often a common factor. While we may find inspiration in looking to celebrities, understand that for many their battles are just as real as ours. Because they are celebrities, however, there may be smoke and mirrors with their publicists in how they portray their struggles. Remember that the next time one of their paid spokesman ads or Today Show interview comes across your TV screen.


Happy New Year!-Have you set a resolution?

Photo Credit: Corbis

I consider today to be the day that most people will really start to follow their “diet” resolutions. It’s the first Monday after the holiday season and many are returning to work and likely the gyms as well after setting resolutions. I don’t really get into the hype of resolutions. When I was a kid I used to create resolution to do things at the start of a new year but as an adult I don’t worry myself with it as much. Should I improve on my life? Of course, but I’m not going to let a calendar dictate how and when that happens. I do recognize, however, that many will so I ask if you are one to have set some resolutions last week, what are you resolving to do? And how will you ensure that you keep the promises to yourself?

Just because I need to I am back to tracking my food intake, exercising and pushing my fluids. I really have struggled the most with my water intake so that is top priority for me. I was away from work for two weeks during the holidays and thought I would take the time to focus on some of my health goals but a series of tragedies and illness made that quite difficult. Nevertheless I will be back to work this week and hopefully in a better place mentally to complete my goals.

I would like to see myself focus on three things this year-getting my house more organized, going back to school and completing a 5k run. Doesn’t sound like much but each requires some time and commitment so they are good goals. I also downloaded a grateful app, which I plan to complete as a daily reminder. My sister also did a 365 day challenge last year as well and posted daily on Facebook. My church also recently did a 30 days of grateful challenge, which included posting daily on social media why we were grateful. Both of these challenges, along with three recent deaths of very young people, have me more inclined to think about what I am grateful for on a daily basis. These reflections have already motivated me towards my goals so while I won’t use the term resolution I am still reflective and moving forward, without all of the new year hype.

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Resetting the Clock

I recently had my one-year surgiversary appointment . Technically I was a little over that and was at the 13 months post-op. My NP was very pleased with my progress. I was honest with her, and myself, about what I have been doing well or failing to do in recent months. I haven’t seen a lot of weight loss, and in fact have gained a few pounds, but I know part of that has to do with my lack of focus. The lowest point I have reached is 162.8. As I write this today I am 169.4 so I’m using that and my talk with the NP as my motivation to keep going. My blood pressure was up a bit and I know that is related to stress but also the ham I keep snacking on from the holidays. Trying to get back on track, I enjoyed a chicken breast, hummus and some avocado for breakfast.

I was honest that I haven’t been exercising, have slacked on food tracking and intake and have not been consistent about my vitamins. I know all of these are no nos in the post-bari world. Several things struck a cord with me recently and have made me realize that I need to reset my goals and regain my focus. We talked about all of the good things that have occurred since surgery-no longer having sleep apnea, pre-diabetes, and the reduction of blood pressure medicine(I have one tiny pill I’m on but doc believes we will completely eliminate it in the spring). I’m down to a size 8 and feel pretty good.

One thing we discussed was the overall goal weight. I shared that when I originally came to the center I was told that I should be able to get down to 137. That sounded like a crazy weight to me but they are the experts so I have kept that in my head. The NP shared that I should not get disappointed if I don’t get there because the body gets used to being at a certain weight and it is difficult to reset it. So the weight I am at now may become my new normal. She stated that many bariatric patients end up in the overweight BMI category, which is still a great accomplishment since they have likely passed many categories to get there (super obese, morbidly obese, severely obese, obese). At my highest weight I was 253. When I started the surgery process I believe I was 243 so both put me in the morbidly obese category.

Hearing that the overweight category may be my norm was real but I am not accepting of that. I know I can lose more. My goal in the beginning was to get to a healthy BMI and while I may end up in the low end of the overweight category, if I don’t get to the ideal category, I know I have the ability to push myself further. The NP said it is possible but I have to put in the work. I will need to remember this as I get stressed or feel tired and don’t want to work out or eat right. I didn’t have this surgery to not reach my goals. This is a good time for me to look at where I ultimately want to be and 137 may not be it but the 140s sound good. I need to do some math. And I need to start working out!


Lost Without my Fitbit

I have become accustom to using my Fitbit daily. I used a gift card I received last year to purchase the Fitbit Zip and it has become my second best friend. There are many tracking devices out there but I chose the Fitbit and honestly it had a lot to do with what I could economically do at the time. In addition to tracking the amount of steps you take and the calories you burn, they have expanded features to include blogs, articles and challenges, which a competitive girl like me thrives for. I challenged a few of my Fitbit friends to a weekend challenge the first day of Zumba and got over 6k steps from that class alone. I keep updating my step count all weekend because me and another gal named Meeka, who I’ve never met, kept trying to outdo the other. It was great motivation and I worked my butt off that weekend in my attempt to win the challenge and beat Meeka, which I ended up doing.

So fast forwarded to last week and I noticed that I was having a harder time getting my Zip to sync with my phone for a few days. By Monday I wasn’t able to get it to sync at all. I tried everything, including contacting their customer service. You can tell they have standard lines to communicate with customers because they all kept saying the same thing, including we want to get you back on track (ha, ha). So after a few days and nearly ten emails of the reps telling me to take all of the steps I had already tried before I ever contacted them, I ended up getting a bit nasty with them and THEN they were willing to work with me. They asked about where I purchased the item since it might have still been under warranty. I don’t know if it was still under warranty or if they decided they were sick of my mouth but they agreed to provide me a replacement, which was at my house the next business day even though they had said it might take as long as a week. So thanks to Fitbit for making good on their product, even if I had to prod them a bit to make that happen!


Photo courtesy of : http://www.kaizo.co.uk/newsroom/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Zip_Magenta.jpg

I do love my Fitbit. It really is a modern day pedometer, but can be so much more. While I don’t have one that tracks sleep, mine has be invaluable to me. I was exhausted when it came yesterday otherwise I would have been ready to jump up and do some aerobics or something, just to break it in. Hopefully I will have this one a long time and be able to records a lot of steps.