Beginning the Journey

156293_473740442590_3458382_n

09-09-09. That is the day my new life began. There is nothing particularly special about this day. It was simply the day I finally decided to change my life.

At the time, I had been out of work for over a year and had zero prospects for a new job. My husband and I were unsuccessfully trying to have children for 3 ½ years with no luck, while all our friends had one baby after another. (No joke, at one point I knew 11 pregnant women at the same time.) Meanwhile, my very close-knit family was split by 1600 miles, as my parents moved to Texas. My brother followed them a year later, leaving me with no family within hundreds of miles.

Finally, I w8-08as tipping the scales at 250 pounds. For years, I refused to even step on a scale. I knew the number would be unbearable, so ignored the problem. But something had to give. My life was falling apart and there was only one thing I could control, that was my weight. So that’s what I did.

My primary goal when I began was to make changes I would be able to sustain the rest of my life. No easy, quick fixes for me. I was in this for the long haul for lasting changes.

I began my journey with small steps. Initially, all I did was track the food I ate. I didn’t change the types of food I was eating. I continued to eat the junk I was accustomed to. I just made sure my daily calorie count was under a certain number.

I was a typical American woman with a few, ok a lot, of extra pounds. I dieted on and off since my teenage years. It is the age-old story of weight loss. I would lose weight while on a diet, but because the diet wasn’t something I was willing or able to sustain forever, I would regain all the weight. I was tired of being on the yo-yo ride. I wanted to lose it for good, so I made small changes I was willing to live with. The weight loss was slow, very slow.

12-10
Christmas 2010 ~ 50 Pounds Lost!

 

After a year and half, I lost over 50 pounds. I was in onederland and was feeling great about myself. I knew I was ready to take the next big step in my journey. I was terrified of this next step. I was never very athletically inclined. I was very clumsy. But I knew I had to begin exercising.

I discovered an online program I felt I could handle. I considered whether or not to actually jump in for a while before finally deciding to just do it. The first phase of this program called for a 30 minute walk every day, 4 kettlebell workouts a week and a cardio challenge on the weekend. It sounds daunting for someone who never worked out, and it was for me. On February 21, 2011, this morning-hating night owl woke up before work, stepped into the office and began her first workout. This began the second phase of my journey and my new love affair with being athletic. More coming soon!

No Pain, No Gain?

Hiking for FUN! no pain, all gain!

I was walking to and from my dentist’s office recently, about .8 miles one way, and I was reflecting on how there is not a chance a year ago I would have made that walk. Not only would I not have chosen to make the walk, but I physically wouldn’t have been able to.

In early 2010 I started experiencing terrible pain in my heels. I had experienced plantar fasciitis before and it did not feel like that. I treated it as though it was, though, for lack of any other ideas… long stretches, especially in the morning, wearing a brace at night, self golf ball and ice massage, etc., none of which helped. Finally the pain got so bad that I went to a podiatrist and was told I had heel spurs. And there started 3 years and thousands of dollars spent trying to figure out how to do any walking or standing without pain. I bought $400 custom orthotics, I had several cortisone shots, I had to toss my reasonable shoes (Danskos) and get more reasonable shoes (Merrills and Keens). I tried acupuncture, massage, Arnica and athletic taping. I had to give up my beloved boot camp and any other work out that had any sort of impact. I spent months in physical therapy. I spent $1500 a foot to get PRP (platelet rich plasma) injections that required me to be in a boot for a month on each foot. I had very little hope, by the end of this, that I would have any relief as NONE of these aforementioned treatments worked for me.

157.5
My feetsies

In conjunction with Chinese medicine plasters (which DID greatly help) AND losing 100 pounds (read more about that in a post coming soon), here is what I have back: My ability to walk. One could say I could always walk, but every step I took was agony. Every. Single. Step. I started walking on the outside of my feet to keep impact off my heels and then developed bone spurs there, too. I was so miserable. As I was walking home from the dentist, though, I was overwhelmed with such a sense of gratitude that I can walk now with little to no pain. I can work out regularly and at the intensity at which I desire. I can HIKE (one of my favorite outdoor activities)! I can do so many things I couldn’t do a year ago. And not just can, but WANT to.

Hiking for FUN! no pain, all gain!
Hiking for FUN! no pain, all gain!

So while “no pain, no gain” really refers to feeling the burn at the gym, which is a good thing, when I hear that statement, all I think is “no pain, so so so so much gain!”

 

Feel free to catch up with me with The Story of Me: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four.

The Story of Us (Me and My Fat) – Part 4 – WLS and Beyond

10.5.14 - ten months front

I had considered weight loss surgery before I actually REALLY considered weight loss surgery. In part I rejected the idea because I personally didn’t feel comfortable with the lap-band or with the gastric bypass/ RNY options. I didn’t know about the sleeve surgery when I first started researching and once I did, I started giving it more thought. I also originally rejected VSG (vertical sleeve gastrectomy) because, frankly, I didn’t want to give up all my favorite foods. I wanted to eat what I wanted when I wanted, as much as I wanted. But my weight was creeping back up scarily toward 300 and eventually I had just had enough. My feet and ankles hurt, my clothes were too tight and I was physically uncomfortable much of the time.

I had maintained a relatively healthy lifestyle for several years; I ate mostly Paleo, I tried to exercise regularly and I did at least one cleanse a year. Yes, I drank wine and ate carbs and didn’t move as much as I wanted to due to both my size and my heel spurts. But I couldn’t lose weight. When I made the decision in August 2013 to get the surgery, I went in full steam ahead. I had all my appointments within a few weeks, my date was set in late October and I was ready to start my new life.

To prepare myself, I spent hours and hours and hours on Facebook WLS (weight loss surgery) groups, talking to other WLS patients at different spots throughout their journey and watching YouTube videos. There is a whole community for weight loss surgery patients and I gained a wealth of knowledge from them. Although you cannot fully know what to expect until you go through it yourself, I had at least gathered enough experiences to know if something I was going through was semi-normal or not. And that made a difference for me.

I should note here that my main motivation for wanting weight loss surgery was not all that complicated. I did not hate myself at 300 pounds. In fact, I loved myself, valued myself, did the work (see part 3) I needed to do to feel confident and sexy and worthy at any size. So it wasn’t really about vanity or confidence or looks. I was on blood pressure medication but was otherwise healthy. I didn’t have diabetes and my blood sugar and cholesterol were in check so my motivator wasn’t even really health. It was movement. I wanted to have enough weight off my body so that maybe my feet would get better (they did) and so I could hike and not huff and puff. My heart was healthy enough to get me up a hill, but I was carrying 150 extra pounds and it was HARD! I wanted to just be a “normal” sized person and to be normally out of breath at the top of a hill. I wanted to move my body outside more without the limitations I had as someone between 270-295 pounds.

On December 5th, 2013, I had about 75% of my stomach removed and a hiatal hernia repaired. I got there at 6:00 in the morning for my 8:30am surgery and up until I was wheeled into the operating room, I was wondering when I was going to call my bluff. I walked into that hospital fully sure that I’d walk out saying “Just kidding! Not gunna, no way!” I was terrified. This was for real and this was forever.

Surgery Date: 12/5/13
Surgery Date: 12/5/13

And although my recovery was atypically long and painful, once I was through it, the weight just melted off. I lost 70 pounds in the first 4 ½ months and once I started exercising, things screeched down to a moderate 5 pounds a month. But those 5 pounds have been coming off consistently and I’m stronger and faster and in better shape than I’ve ever been in my entire life.

This is where you find me now. 10 months post op from VSG, down over 100 pounds, working out 4-6 days a week (more on that later, I’m sure). It has been a wild, wild ride, let me tell you. And I think all the things I’ve learned along the way may be better said in another blog, as I have so so so much to say on that, but I will say this. I am so thankful to have received the gift of the sleeve and grateful to have lost the weight I have lost: while I don’t feel I have changed very much inside, I do feel as though I have become more fully myself. I walk and hike FOR FUN, I take any opportunity to get up and get moving, I’ve found work out classes and routines I am absolutely in love with. Life is so very very good.

Here are my 10 month progress photos. Picture on the left is 301.2 on 11/22/13, picture on the right is 200.0 on 10/5/14.

Thank you for tuning in and walking through this journey with me. If you are just catching up, here are links to Part One, Part Two and Part Three.  You can watch my WLS from beginning to end you YouTube as well.

Until next time, friends… make it a wonderful day!

10.5.14 - ten months Side
10.5.14 – ten months Side
10.5.14 - ten months front
10.5.14 – ten months front