2014 Amazingness & 2015 Resolutions

Holidaze!

Gym goodness2014 was one of the best years of my life. At the turn of the clock on 1/1/14, I was a few weeks out from Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy surgery, finally on the road to recovery and ready to start living my new life with my new stomach.

To recap, I went on no fewer than 16 trips ranging from weekends at the coast to Las Vegas to the very tippy corner of Arizona bordering Mexico to the Redwood forests in Northern California. I did pub crawls and wine tour days and went dancing and to concerts and to a wedding reception for new friends I met through the WLS community. I went hiking and walking and exploring. I had big parties, small parties, dinner parties, movie nights and book club meetings. I went to happy hours and fancy dinners and went dancing and felt more fully myself than I ever had before.

Some of my big surgery related accomplishments and notable mentions were that I lost 100 pounds, I hit Onederland (meaning my weight is now in the 100’s), I can cross my legs (most notably under a table!), I don’t have chaffing when I wear dresses and skirts, I can shop in regular sized stores, starting 2015 in a M/L, 12-ish size range. I have BONES! And not just collar bones, but elbows and knees and hips and ribs and a JAW (this is amazing)! I am in the best shape of my life, with so much more room for growth. I can walk and hike and move without constant pain, especially foot pain. I completed a 12 week weight lifting challenge and lost 12 inches and 4 pounds… results aside, though, I was PROUD of accomplishing the challenge. I showed up, I was present, I did the work and it changed my life and my attitude on fitness and how fitness and I relate to each other.

 

As I closed out 2015, I spent a solid month over eating, making poor food choices and drinking way more than I usually do, and, frankly, more than what I prefer. I gained just about six pounds during the month and started to feel worse and worse. I put together a photo collage to remind myself of how far I’ve come and reflected on what I wanted 2015 to look like for me.

Xmas 2013 vs Xmas 2014
Xmas 2013 vs Xmas 2014

I came up with the following resolutions/ goals:

  1. 208 hours of exercise in 2015. I am starting off the year strong with a month back at the Kettlebell studio (more on that later) with 4 one hour work outs per week plus an additional day of cardio (time to be determined) and 75 minutes a week of yin yoga. After the month in the kettlebell studio, I’ll probably go back and do the 12 week weight lifting challenge again on my own. Love me some muscles!!!
  2. I would like to reach my weight goal this year. I had it previously set at 160, but I’m going to try to go for 150. If it takes me all year, that is okay. I want to eat well and exercise and get to where I’m going with the mindset of it’s a marathon and not a sprint. As of today, this leaves me with 44.6 pounds to go. I’ll reassess where I want to be from there.
  3. I will do one Whole30 challenge in 2015. I start this on 1/5/15 so I expect to get this done early and maybe do a second one in May or June, but my goal is to successfully complete one of these. I like doing these in January as I can abstain from all the shit that got me in the ruts in December: Sugar, alcohol, gluten, dairy. Protein and produce is what I’m all about this month.
  4. I would like to reduce some old credit card debt that I have. The number I have in mind will take me 2/3 of the way to paying it off in full.
  5. Travel! I would like to take one large trip (5+ days) and at least 4 small trips (3-4 day long weekends). I have WLSFA in San Diego booked and a subsequent cruised booked with some friends I’ve made through the weight loss surgery community. That will be 9-10 days. I already have two long weekends away booked with my fella and we’re talking about doing Dallas and NYC this year as well so I’m well on my way to accomplishing this goal.

So, friends, I’m feeling hopeful, determined, optimistic and excited for 2015. What are your highlights of 2014 and goals for the new year ahead?

Holiday Spirit or Self-Sabotage?

Happy Holidays!

There have been some pretty major milestones hit in the last couple of months. I hit 100 pounds lost. I got under 200 pounds (Onderland). I hit my one year surgiversary. I made it into a 12/14, M/L clothing size which allows me to buy clothes in any store I choose. I’ve changed my entire body shape and composition by lifting weights. And so much more. Lots and lots and lots of good stuff.

Holiday Wine Tasting
Holiday Wine Tasting

And yet in the last couple of weeks, I have gained or maintained each week. I am not following my eating plan, I am eating more carbs, slider foods, sugar and just more in general. I’m also socializing more which means I’m participating in more adult beverages. I consciously drank very little in November and seem to be more than making up for that drought in December.

But it occurred to me the other day… is this normal holiday spirit or absolute and utter terror? “Why would you be afraid, Lindsay?” you may ask. Excellent question. One would think that at my lowest adult weight, in a size of clothing I can’t remember ever seeing, and at a level of fitness I’d never before been able to obtain… what is there to possibly be afraid of? I’m not entirely sure, but I know I AM afraid. Afraid of not losing the rest of the weight. Afraid that wherever I end up I won’t be able to maintain. Afraid of gaining some or all my weight back. Afraid of the attention I get from other people that I’m not experienced in dealing with.

So I ask myself if I’m doing the normal holiday celebration thing or if my behavior is, plain and simple, self-sabotage. Frankly, I think it’s both. I’m pushing the boundaries, edging out of the box, seeing how far I can go. But see how far I can go before what? Before I get totally out of hand and my 3.2 pound gain turns into 10? Not acceptable.

working out
working out

My game plan: Get through the holidays. Try to only eat when I’m hungry. I refuse to deprive myself of things, but I do need to keep moderation in mind. I WILL have my Aunt’s incredible pie on Christmas Eve for dessert, but I won’t take any home with me. I WILL enjoy my champagne and wine during these weeks but I’ll recommit to limited drinking come January. In fact, my boyfriend and I are planning on doing a more whole foods eating thing come the New Year. Not really a cleanse or diet, per se, but a conscious effort to cut out sugar, gluten, alcohol and, for me, dairy. My goal is to reduce inflammation and continue to drop weight and his goal is to lose a few pounds and FEEL better. I have to remember that, between now and the end of the year, the more sugar I eat, the more I WANT to eat, so it really is just easier to cut that off at the pass instead of negotiating it while it’s happening. I will continue to work out (although the wine sure has affected my ability to do cardio, let me tell you!) and focus on protein and fluids and just get through the next few weeks with the intention to truly do the best I can.

Happy holidays, friends, and may your New Year be happy and bright!

The one where she loses 100 pounds

100 pounds down

Tuesday, September 29th 2014. This is the date I officially hit the 100 pound lost mark. I was silent with it for a little bit. And then I announced it to the world. I posted it on both my personal and WLS facebook pages. I posted a YouTube Video. I received an outpouring of support and congratulations. And still I did not expect to feel how felt. I thought I’d see that number fall below 201.2 (the 100 pound mark) and flip out. Jump up and down and scream and maybe even cry. I was perplexed to find that I felt almost nothing. Maybe a bit confused. A little numb. Definitely shocked. Who is this person? What’s happening here? When I look into the mirror and I see my collar bones and my waist and the small gap in my thighs, I think “she is lovely!” and yet in my head I don’t always identify that person as ME.

100 pounds difference in one year
100 pounds difference in one year

Losing 100 pounds is an amazing accomplishment. I feel proud and blessed and appreciative that all the work I’ve put in, not just this year, but in the last several years, is finally coming to fruition with the help of my new tool (my sleeve). I wish I felt like I wanted to climb a mountain top and roar “THIS IS ME!” But I find myself cowering a bit… wanting to hide… confused as to what is happening.

Perhaps I’m experiencing some trepidation. I have put myself out in the public eye. I have made my journey public… much more so since joining I’mPerfect.net/ Makingprogress.me and I think there is an undercurrent of pure terror and panic that if I fail… if I gain some or all my weight back… everyone will see it. EVERYONE will know I failed. I have little doubt that I will succeed (I do have some, of course), but as someone who has lost and gained the same 20-50 pounds for 15 years, it’s hard to wrap my mind around maintaining a healthy weight for the long haul.

One hundred pounds is a lot to lose in 10 months. Many lose that weight in even shorter amounts of time. But for me, personally, it doesn’t feel like I’ve had much time to adjust to it. I lost 70 pounds in 4 months and 30 pounds in the 6 months thereafter. Despite things having slowed down to a steady 5 pounds per month, I still consider myself in the low 200’s. I’ve been below 210 for 2+ months and I still think of myself as 230. My brain has simply not caught up.

100 pounds difference - ONE YEAR!
100 pounds difference – ONE YEAR!

Oh, and let’s not even talk about the hormones. I’m sure I’ll make that another post in and of itself. For now let’s just say that not only is the physical changes to my body shocking and amazing and beautiful and terrifying, but the spectrum of emotion and thought and confusion and joy I feel on a moment to moment basis is a jumble.

I hope once the shock has worn off, I can revel in this incredible achievement. By the time I adjust to the 100 pounds down, I’ll probably see that 1 as the first number on the scale instead of a 2 and I’ll go through all of this all over again! Another big, shocking, incredible milestone. ‘Till then, friends….. feel free to catch up on The Story of Me Part One, Two, Three and Four! 🙂

Meet Me at the Barre

Holly and Me!
The main studio
The main studio

One of the many things I’ve been recently obsessed with lately is Barre classes. I found a studio not too terribly far from me, through Groupon, that is not only beautiful but has a variety of Barre classes including Bootybarre, Flex and Flow Barre, Barre Fusion and Barre Circuit (descriptions can be found here. I, personally, love the Barre circuit class. I’ve read some blogs recently that talk about how Barre isn’t that great of a work out and I respect everyone’s right to like or dislike a work out, but I consistently burn 400 calories per hour during a Barre Circuit class and I think that’s darn good (considering I burn 450 in a bootcamp style kettle bell class, which has a higher intensity level).

The phrase “up and inch, down an inch” has become its own type of glorious torture for me, but in such a good way. Most of the exercises are done at the barre and you get low into a pose and then you hover… lifting up just an inch and hovering back down just an inch. I have never ever felt my legs shake the way this kind of isolated movement can make my legs shake. Even after just one work out, I walked out feeling like I had the longest leanest legs ever (I don’t, of course, but perception counts). It doesn’t hurt that everyone in the studio (and I mean everyone, not just the instructors) have absolutely magnificent booties. They don’t call it “booty” barre for nothing.

 

Holly and Me!
Holly and Me!

While all the instructors that I’ve had while attending this studio have been incredible, there is something inherently motivating about the owner, Holly’s, voice. I love taking the Barre Circuit class with her and her voice has this lilt to it that just makes me feel like she’s rooting for me (and everyone) no matter how torturous the words (again, I go back to “up and inch, down an inch”). She has created such a warm and welcoming space with good music, good work outs and a great team of staff. All the staff is welcoming , warm, supportive and encouraging, but Holly’s voice really carries me through when I’m taking her classes.

I should note that the studio also holds many Les Mils type classes such as BodyPump, INSANITY (I, personally, burn SEVEN HUNDRED calories an hour in this class!), GRIT, Zumba, Cardio Funk etc. (again, descriptions can be found here). They also have personal training, occasional monthly challenges, dance and many other offerings that make this a full service studio for a full body work out, not just for toning and strengthening but for HIIT (high intensity interval training) and cardio training as well. I, personally, am currently on a class kick and NEED the variety to keep me engaged in my work outs. Long over are the days when I could just pedal away on the elliptical with a book in hand. Between this studio, my 12 week weight lifting challenge (more on that later) and other studios / gyms I frequent, my work outs here keep me interested, engaged and pushing for more.

Until next time, friends, maybe I’ll meet you at the barre! 😉

If you’re just tuning in, here are links to The Story of Us (Me and My Fat) Part One, Two, Three and Four.

I’ve Gotta Get Back on Tr— Squirrel!

Spinx Run Fest 5k

Previously on Carla’s Weight Loss Journey: The Summer of Suck

Hi there! Nope, I didn’t quite fall off the face of the Earth. I grabbed a twig on the way down and managed to pull myself back up. I was actually doing okay after the last post — not getting in as many workouts, but still working out nonetheless. And the last Saturday in September, I walked in the local Race for the Cure 5K. My goal was to finish in 50 minutes or less, and I hit the 3.1 mark at 50 minutes exactly. So… GO ME!

Food-wise, I was have been slipping back into old habits because I haven’t been planning, and as the Zig Ziglar quote goes (and then makes me roll my eyes), “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” ‘Preciate that, Zig…

On top of everything else, work got crazy and then I had two job interviews ON THE SAME DAY! One of them worked out! Squirrel! The excitement over that, then the craziness of the job I left before my last day, then the beach trip my family took (supposed to be Mom and Dad’s trip, but turned into a family road trip under the circumstances) all culminated in a series of fortunate and unfortunate distractions.

Myrtle Beach sunrise
This happened! Two-mile walk at sunrise!

While at the beach, I did a two-mile walk just after sunrise on my first morning there. How committed was I, am I right? But the ever-so-slight rolling “hills” in the sand near the water (probably to curb beach erosion) had me sore the next day, so while I did walk on the beach after that, I wasn’t at my full-speed, heart-pumping cardio level. Then there was the food — oh, the glorious food. I didn’t agonize over my food choices. I let loose. I was done with a job I had tried to leave for four years and about to start a new one that I was really looking forward to and I was at the beach with my family and dammit, I finally had a little bit of happiness for the first time in several months so I was just gonna celebrate. So I did. And I’m not going to feel guilty about that.

But this happened too… And it was so flippin' good...
But this happened too… And it was so flippin’ good…

On October 25th, I did the Spinx Run Fest 5K and finished with my best time ever — 48:22! However, I aggravated my hips and have been trying to take it easy since. As I’m writing this, the left hip is back to normal, and the right one is almost there.

Spinx Run Fest 5k
And then this happened!

Now I’m trying to work out a new schedule — for meal planning, for exercising, for blogging. The new job has hours of 9 am-6 pm, Monday-Friday, and while I’m grateful to have my Monday and Wednesday nights free once again, I no longer get to do my Tuesday night strength training class that I loved.

My gym opens at 5:30 am, Monday-Friday. It’s not my most favorite time to exercise, but doing so will allow me to get my workout done for the day and still get to work on time while not having to worry about whether I have time to work out each evening. I also really need to do Meat for the Week in order to have healthy food on hand that keeps me away from the drive-throughs.

I guess you could say I’m… planning to plan?

Other than Meat for the Week and letting go of the notion that you have to have The Perfect Conditions for exercising, what are your methods for maintaining a regimen that works for you?

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.

If milkshakes bring all the boys to the yard, do protein shakes bring buff men to the yard?

pep4

Deep philosophical questions like the one in my title are what I aim to answer in this blog. And sadly, I am here to say that protein shakes do not appear to bring any kind of man at all to the yard. Anyway, as promised in my last post, I am going to talk a little about how I managed to take off (and keep off so far!) 170 lbs. I was going to make this one post with everything (nutrition AND exercise AND support systems), but it was just too much. I’ll just talk about nutrition today. There’s a lot of stuff I could tell you (and will tell you) about nutrition and so forth, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I owe my success to one key principle: moderation. I have never, ever been able to master this idea for weight loss, or really any other area of my life either. I would either be making a permanent butt indention in my couch with my hand crammed in a bag of Cheetos or I would be manically exercising and subsisting on lettuce. There was no in between. But this time when I decided to lose weight, I knew that there absolutely had to be an in between in order for me to be successful. It was so important to me that I when I decided to chronicle my journey in a blog, I named it The Space in Between All or Nothing. So yeah, I eat right and exercise around 90% of the time. But the other 10%? That’s reserved for whatever I want, and if what I want is cheesecake once in a blue moon, that’s totally okay.

So food. Important stuff. Can’t live without it. Here’s the thing: I aim to eat a pretty clean diet, but I’m also somewhat lazy. I’m not going to go search out weird stuff. I want to be able to go to Food Lion and usually find what I need. My rule of thumb is pretty much that if I can’t pronounce some ingredient on a box, I shouldn’t be eating it. And speaking of boxes, I generally try to stay away from them (I mean food in a box; I don’t have some weird box phobia or anything). No crazy diet food either. I stick to the outer edge of the grocery store: meats, dairy, produce, whole grains. In the beginning of my weight loss journey, I got completely overwhelmed by all the food ideas that were being thrown at me. It looked something like this:

Haha, that was actually a picture I took for when I auditioned for The Biggest Loser. But I slowly figured out what worked for me. In my former life, I used my kitchen solely for the microwave to warm up fast food, but now I actually cook. I would love to share some recipes later, but right now I’ll just share some of my staples:

Meat: chicken breasts (yes, that diet stereotype is very true), tuna, extra lean ground beef, turkey sausage, turkey breast, Canadian bacon (for my breakfast sandwiches)

Dairy: Greek yogurt (all the time, every day, in everything…I’m completely obsessed), string cheese, Laughing Cow cheese wedges, low fat cottage cheese (another diet cliche, but seriously, it fills you up and the protein amount is insane), chocolate almond milk (great after a workout or in smoothies). And my favorite dairy product: eggs. I love them in omelets, and hard-boiled, or pretty much really any way at all. Low calorie and high protein…what’s not to like?

Grains: I am all about some carbs, ya’ll. I eat Nature’s Own Double Fiber Bread, light English muffins (for breakfast sandwiches), Flat Out wraps, oatmeal (steel-cut, in the crockpot so I can make enough for awhile), and quinoa. I’ll admit it, I haven’t sold my family on the quinoa yet, but I’m pretty into it.

This category is where my most distressing nutritional habit lies. Microwave popcorn. Here’s the thing: you can eat an entire bag for about 140 calories. But the chemicals and crap inside that bag that get on the popcorn are really distressing. I have tried cleaner versions of popcorn, because it really is a good snack. It’s not the same. I’m cutting back because I honestly don’t want all that stuff in my body, but it’s hard!

Vegetables: To be perfectly honest, it was way harder for me to incorporate more veggies in my diet than fruit. So like a mom tricking her picky eater kid, I sometimes sneak it in. I get a ton of spinach in every day by blending it in my fruit smoothies. I promise you, while it does make the smoothie a somewhat unappetizing green color, you really can’t taste it. I can’t say the same for kale though. I eat salads almost every night with dinner, and throw in as many peppers, cucumbers, and mushrooms as I can. Sweet potatoes, avocados, squash, and zucchini are other favorites. But the thing that I am absolutely obsessed with, the thing that I could eat pretty much every single day, is mashed cauliflower. No, contrary to many claims, it does not taste like mashed potatoes. It just doesn’t. But it is delicious all on its own. I steam it, put in in the food processor, add a couple Laughing Cow cheese wedges and some salt and pepper, blend it up, and shove it in my piehole. So awesome.

You may notice the absence of tomatoes on this list. This is because I can’t stand tomatoes. I have tried to like them because I know all their many health benefits, but I just can’t. My hatred of tomatoes dates pretty much from birth. Oddly enough, I love everything to do with tomatoes (tomato sauce, ketchup, even cooked tomatoes), but I can’t stand a raw tomato. And yes, I do know a tomato is technically a fruit, but I chose to put it with the vegetables because that’s how I roll.

Fruit: Fruit can be deceptive. I mean, veggies, you can usually pretty much eat as much as you want and be fine calorie-wise, but fruit, you have to watch out. It can add up. Especially bananas! I try to stick to the lower calorie kinds, in particular strawberries (my favorite!), blueberries, plums, cantaloupe, apples, clementine oranges, and pineapple (higher in calories and sugar, but I love it).

Random crap: Stuff that didn’t fit anywhere else, like almonds. I know you have to be careful with nuts because they’re pretty high in calories, but they are very filling (high protein!) and portable. And though I know they have pretty much no nutritional value, I love low sugar Fudgecicles. Yes, they have ingredients I can’t pronounce. Yes, they do come in a box. But this is where the moderation comes in. They’re not the best things, but they’re not the worst either. You can have two for 80 calories and feel like you had a treat, so I say it’s worth it. Same goes for Edy’s Fruit Bars (although they’re a bit better since they actually do have fruit in them). And finally PB2. For those not familiar with it, it’s powdered peanut butter with a bunch of the fats and oils of regular peanut butter taken out, so it’s only 45 calories for a serving. Personally, I didn’t enjoy it as a substitute for just eating peanut butter like on celery or something, but it’s really great in smoothies.

So that’s the stuff I usually have in my pantry on a daily basis. For many months, I kept myself at around 1200 calories a day. Then I hit the mother of all plateaus. I just could not lose weight, no matter what I did. I suspected that I was actually eating too few calories for someone with my activity level, but me being me and unable to trust my instinct sometimes, I decided to consult a nutritionist. She confirmed my hunch. She said with the amount of running I was doing, at the very least I should be eating 1600 calories day. I understood the science behind it, about your metabolism slowing down if you don’t get enough calories, but convincing my stubborn mind of this fact was another matter entirely. She also taught me that the ratio of carbohydrates to fat to protein was important too. So now I track protein and fat and carbohydrates, as well as calories, and aim to eat 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat. It sounds like a lot to track, but it’s pretty easy using an app on my phone. It even does handy pie graphs! Writing down everything I eat has been really key to helping me lose weight. I always write it down, good or bad. Like even that gigantic slice of ice cream cake on my birthday, even though I really didn’t want to know the calories on that one. Here’s some of my favorite meals lately:

Changing things up and increasing my calories completely broke my plateau, and I am so glad I got the help of a nutritionist (even more glad that it counts as preventive on my health insurance, so I pay nothing and can go as often as I want!). She also gave me some really great clean recipes that also have easy to find ingredients. Sometimes the little tweaks make a big difference. I truly use food as fuel now, instead of as a way to numb my feelings. Of course, I still have days where eating a couple cheeseburgers seems like a good way to cope with a problem, but I don’t beat myself up about having thoughts like that. I probably will always have thoughts like that every now and then, because I will always be a recovering emotional eater. And that’s really okay. It’s how I choose to react and deal with those thoughts that matters.

The Story of Us (Me and My Fat) – Part Two – The Middle years (19-26) by Lindsay

220 Or more Lindsay

Welcome back friends! So we enter phase two of the story of me and my fat. I left off in Part One just as I’m heading to college. Ahhhh…. College…. And I thought high school was torture. The good news is, I made a few friends and was having fun with them. The bad news is that I had followed my boyfriend, M, down to the town the college was in and by the time I moved there, two weeks after he’d made the move, he’d moved another girl into his apartment and had taken his phone off the ringer. It wasn’t a great start to the year and I’m not going to lie… I lost my shit. I listened to sad records. I cried all the time. I participated excessively in drugs and alcohol. I rang his phone constantly (pre cell phone days). I ate and ate and ate and ate and ate. I ate pizzas, I ate ice cream, I ate obscene amounts of candy. I’d eat a meal in the cafeteria just to go back to my room and eat again. I made the Freshman 15 into the Freshman 35 (I was AT LEAST 220 when I left my freshman year of college). I was absolutely miserable.

I made the decision to move home after my freshman year of college, at which time M and I were back together (trust me, I know… hindsight is 20/20) and within a few weeks, he had me over to introduce me to his female roommate and promptly told me he was engaged to her. That was how we broke up for good… he told me he was marrying someone else. That night I was even more destructive than normal (as you can imagine, it’s a shock when your boyfriend of three years tells you he’s engaged) but I woke up the next morning a changed woman. I stopped all extracurricular partying, I stopped dating and I buckled down and focused on school. I took 21 credit hours a quarter, graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in 3.5 years and remained dateless and celibate for the next seven years of my life.

During the time I was working on my undergraduate degree, I lived at home with my parents. My father was in the midst of a serious drug and alcohol problem and life at home was stressful. I continued to eat to cope with my feelings… It might be fair to say I ate to avoid having ANY feelings. I was prescribed an anti-depressant my sophomore year and I would argue that a good chunk of why I stayed so secluded during these years was because I was over prescribed the antidepressant. I spent seven years of my life being academically very productive, but on a personal side becoming increasingly stunted. I had a few friends, but I didn’t go out much. I went to class, I studied hard and I watched TV. I was essentially a hermit. I was also in an obsessive diet/ binge/ diet/ binge cycle.

While I have no actual clue how high my weight creeped up during this time, I’m guessing it was around 280. I lived a dichotomous existence. On one hand I was SO proud of what I was doing academically but I hated myself. I would even go so far as to say detested. I got by but that was all I did. I did NOT live.

I moved to Southern California in the Fall of 2000 where I started a two year graduate degree program. Here is where I started to have hope of a life more than what I was allowing myself. I had my very first apartment, at age 22 and I made very good friends who I simply adored. Within my first six months, I started on Weight Watchers and proceeded to lose fifty pounds. I learned to cook, I went out every now and then and I put a sticky note on my mirror in my bedroom that said “DO NOT BE AFRAID TO LIVE LIFE.” That message sticks with me to this day. There is no room in my life, as it is now, to be afraid to live it. But back then, I just didn’t know any better. I had wants, dreams, desires… but I did not know how to go after them.

I had started putting weight back on by the time I graduated and moved home. Upon re-entry to my folks’ house, I started gaining weight at a rapid rate. My father was still in the throes of addiction, my mother was deeply depressed and my 14 year old brother was hanging on the best he could. I applied to hundreds of jobs during the post 9/11 recession and took the first one offered to me, six months after the move home. It took nearly another year or more after that to get an apartment and make the final move out of the parental home. I worked for a great company with an abusive boss and guess what I did to cope? I ate. And ate, and ate, and ate some more. To give you an idea, I would eat a coffee cake or a bagel and cream cheese and a large mocha each morning for breakfast. I worked near a mall downtown and I’d have mall food most days for lunch, consisting of a deli sandwich, side pasta salad and a cookie (or several) OR the greasy spoon Chinese food… always the orange chicken, chow mein and teriyaki chicken. Dinners were almost always McDonald’s, or another fast food. Massive amounts of fast food. And ice cream. Lots and lots of ice cream.

I rang in my 26th birthday at my highest recorded weight, 319 pounds.

Things are really heating up here and the best is yet to come! Stay tuned for Part Three in the Story of Us (Me and My Fat).

Re-Gain? Is that why my pants don’t fit?

Regain

I remember standing at the go-cart track in the summer of 2007, weeping in my mother’s arms. I was 35 years old and telling her that I was going to have gastric bypass surgery. I weighed 350 pounds. I was realistic enough to know that I would not fit into any ride at the amusement park, but now, I could not even buckle a go-cart seatbelt around myself. With my husband’s help, I extracted myself from the go-cart and I felt my tears, filled with embarrassment, roll down my face. I told my mom how we were just waiting for insurance approval, and I would be scheduled for surgery. She was relieved. Nervous, because I was having surgery, but relieved because she was worried about the weight I had gained.

A few days later, I received my denial letter in the mail. I did not have any co-morbidities related to being super-obese (their medical term, not mine) No high blood pressure, no diabetes, no real joint pain. I was just super-obese. I was so angry. If I had high blood pressure, diabetes, or joint paint they would cover any and all medical interventions necessary, but they were unwilling to cover the surgery that could prevent this all.

So I moved onto plan B– I had to sign up for insurance where I work, in November, and go through their bariatric program. I was temporarily sidelined in 2008 by a retinal detachment and nasal polyp removal, but finally in September 2008, at 365 pounds, I had my surgery…

The weight slid off of me, literally, with no effort, other than just kind of sticking to what I was supposed to be doing, it slid off of me. And I do mean, kind of, sticking to the plan. By September 2009, just one year later I had lost almost 150lbs.

I had no medical complications except for a small ulcer, which had long since healed. I was pretty much eating what I wanted and not exercising at all. I had a pretty active job, but no purposeful exercise. But my clothes still fit, and I was enjoying life. Well, except for my mom was sick…

My mom had been sick off and on since I was 20 but she was hospitalized, for what would be her last time, in September 2010. Even though she came home, I knew that her story was not going to have a happy ending. She was seriously ill, with an auto-immune disease that had taken over her body.

On August 2, 2011, I received the phone call I had been dreading. My dad was calling me to tell me that my mom, my ever-present source of love, had passed in her sleep. She was 57 years old.

I did not deal with her death well. On the outside, I acted ok. On the inside, I was broken into one hundred pieces. The grief was like a white, hot burn through my heart.  I spent the next three months burying myself in a long, complicated software conversion at work. This resulted in messed up sleep and eating. I worked six 55-hour weeks in a row and on Friday and Saturday nights I drank to not think about my emotions. I did not want to deal with the pain of her passing.

RegainIn March of 2012, my husband and I decided that we probably could use a bit of a vacation, so we planned a trip to the Mall of America. Armed with spending cash, I hit the clothing stores. In my head, I knew I was a size 22/24, but that size didn’t fit. And a size 26 was feeling snug. I was completely freaking out. When we got home from our trip, I immediately weighed myself.  I was stunned, I weighed 253 pounds. I had gone from 217 pounds to 253 pounds. My only thought was, “Crap, I am going to eat myself out of this surgery.”

That trip, while giving me a much needed break from all the stress, also gave me a kick in the seat. Trying on those clothes was the wake-up call I needed. I no longer could just rely on my gastric bypass surgery to keep the weight off. Within two weeks of being home from vacation, I had a gym membership. That first step into that gym transformed my relationship with food, it transformed my thoughts on exercise, and it, quite literally, transformed my life.

Follow my posts to see how I took off the re-gain, how I continue to lose the weight, and how I pushed myself beyond all my preconceptions about myself and exercise.