Mindful Monday: 21 Day Goddess Workout

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So in the past, I’ve talked about my struggles with weight and body image. I eventually had lap band surgery and that along with exercise worked well for me. I wrote that I had some complications at the end of last year which resulted in having to have my lap band removed.

These past almost six months have been a real struggle for me. I had gained some weight prior to my lap band being removed and gained some more after my second surgery. I really want to get to a place where the number on the scale and the size on the pair of jeans don’t matter. It really shouldn’t. What should matter is being healthy and feeling good. Mid spring I wasn’t there. I was feeling sluggish and tired and wasn’t in a good head space at all.

For me, food and weight is a slippery slope. I have the tendency to obsess about everything I eat and sometimes undereat because I feel like I need to “discipline” myself. I wish the concept of just eat what you feel like worked for me but it really doesn’t. I needed to find a plan that worked for me.

That’s how I discovered the 21 Day Goddess Workout through Daily Om. The program which was developed by Jannie Murry is part fitness, part nutrition plan, and part mindfulness. For me, this was exactly what I needed it is a three-week low sugar, low carb, and alcohol-free plan. These are all foods I know are triggers for me. The exercise plan is cardio and yoga focused.

I lost weight and inches which I’ve managed to keep off so far but more importantly, I am starting to feel more energy and pep again. I liked this program so much that I am now starting Jannie Murry’s 8 Week Body Makeover which is also through Daily Om. It’s a similar program but has more complex carbs included in the nutrition plan and strength training/toning exercises. I’m not where I want to be physically or mindset wise yet, but I’m getting there slowly.

Mindful Monday: Food is Your Friend

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This week I’ve decided to try a theme for the week which I’ve done in the past. This week I’m focusing on food. I have had this love/hate relationship with food my whole life. I’m a foodie. I love trying new dishes, cuisines, and restaurants. Trying a flavor for the first time is the same high as walking out of an airport or a train station in a new city.

The hate side of food has been how I’ve associated it with weight. If I didn’t like what was on the scale in the morning it meant I had failed and I needed to deprive myself of calories to make up for and punish myself for the day before. I could deprive myself for weeks and then, of course, I’d rebel when I couldn’t take it anymore. I’d eat any and everything I could get my hands on. This was classic yo-yo dieting.

This year I wanted to try to improve my relationship with food. Food is fuel and we all need it. Food should be delicious, nutritious, and something we enjoy not something we’re afraid of. So here’s are some of the changes I’m trying to make:

Stop weighing myself every day: I have friends who never weigh themselves. I would love to be comfortable in my skin to get to that point. To be honest I’m not there yet. I have gone from a daily weigh into a weekly weigh in. That’s a small step in the scheme of things, but a huge one for me. I want to be less focused on a number and more concerned with how I’m feeling.

Listen to my cravings: This goes back to the depriving thing. I used to ignore my cravings if I felt they were for something that was “bad” so of course, I’d eat everything else and nothing would satisfy my appetite until I gave in to what I really wanted. So now I listen to what my body is telling me. Lately, I’ve been craving dark green veggies like there is no tomorrow. I think that’s mostly because I couldn’t eat them when I wasn’t feeling well last year. But there are times when I’m craving chocolate or some rich dessert and I let myself have it without guilt.

Spread out eating: I don’t do well with three big meals. I feel sluggish after them and am starving in between. Instead, I try to break my day out into five smaller meals. I basically eat a smaller breakfast, lunch, and dinner but I have two substantial snacks. I stay satisfied this way.

BYOL: I’m trying to be better about bringing my lunch to work. I do at least three days a week. I also try to pack my snacks. I find when I don’t plan ahead I eat the highly processed foods that are lying around not because I want that but because it’s there and I’m hungry. When I pack things like fruit, pickled veggies, hummus, and yogurt I don’t want to eat the chips or candy bars in the office. Packing lunch is also a great way to save some money each week which is another goal I have for the year.

Stay hydrated: If I’m diligent about drinking water throughout the day I eat less because I’m not as hungry. When I feel extra hungry some days I check in to make sure I have been hydrating throughout the day. I’ll drink a glass of water and wait 20 minutes. If I’m still hungry I eat something but most of the time I’m not.

 

 

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday: Back to Basics


So after being thrown for a loop last week it’s back to basics. Weight loss and maintenance is easy and hard at the same time. The easy part is that while there are any number of diets or routines you can follow the basic principle is if you burn more calories than you ingest you should loose weight. The hard part is that it’s easier than it sounds. Busy schedules, stress, sometimes medical issues, and a host of other things can make it more challenging.

So in going back to basics I decided to be proactive, which I’m a big fan of in general. When given the choice I will chose pro-action over reaction every time. I know that a low carb and low sugar lifestyle works well for me because when I eat protein, veggies, and healthy carbs I stay fuller longer and have more energy. So I decided to do the 21 Day Sugar Detox. This isn’t really a diet or a cleanse it’s more of a lifestyle reboot. It’s three weeks of eating very low carb and low sugar to help you get rid of those sweet cravings that lead to unhealthy food choices and sugar crashes throughout the day. When it’s done you can still enjoy pretty much any food you want but hopefully you’ll have less of a craving for white flour and sugar filled products.

I’ll admit it’s challenging but I feel great and I’ve dropped 8 pounds. I have a goal to loose 13 more pounds to get back to my pre-slipped band weight and then enter maintenance mode. I am working with a nutritionist and have a support system behind me. I’m not a medical expert so I can’t say if doing this detox would be good for you, but for me this has been the kickstart I’ve needed after last week.

Mindful Monday: Sparkpeople

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Given last week’s setback, I want to focus my posts this week around what I’m doing to hit the ground running and let this change of plans become a challenge to help me prove to myself that I’m stronger than I ever imagined vs a defeat that I have no control over.

 I’ve mentioned both lap band surgery and running in previous as tools that have helped me loose and maintain my weight. Another tool that has helped me is SparkPeople. When I initially got my lap band SparkPeople was a place I’d turn to almost daily. In the past couple of years, it has been more of a resource that I occasionally visit for a reminder. Last week I got back in the habit of using it daily.

SparkPeople is a website and app that allows you to track calories, fitness goals, and water intake. In the past beyond nutrition and exercise journaling what I found really useful about SparkPeople is the community aspect.  The platform allows you to join teams made up of people with similar backgrounds, interests, or goals.  For example, I belong to teams for people who have lap bands, fans of The Ohio State Buckeyes, and writers.  You can join team goals, chat with each other in the forums, but most importantly cheer one another on.  The mini goals set by the teams and the camaraderie of supporting one another in victories and setbacks is what kept me coming back.  

I have to say since I was last regularly using the site the activity in the teams has died down a bit. My day job is in Community Managment so I know that this is pretty typical. I’m finding new teams with more active members to help me with the support aspect of this journey.

What is really helping me right now is the trackers for nutrition.  I do plug in my exercise too, but since I use a Fitbit for that, food is really what I focus on with SparkPeople. I love being able to easily pull up foods and enter them for each meal. The site automatically pulls up all the nutrients for me. You can set nutrition goals and trackers. Aside from calories I also track protein, fat, carbs, and fiber. I wish I could track sugar since that is something I’m really reducing, but unfortunately, that isn’t a current tracking feature on SparkPeople.  

Do you have other nutrition or fitness trackers that you swear by?

 

Rewarding Yourself

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Yesterday’s post was really hard for me to write and I want to thank the outpour of support I’ve received from friends, relatives, and kind people I don’t know but who read this blog. No matter what the outcome this is going to be a lifelong journey, but honestly I knew that was the case when I made the decision to get a lap band. The lap band was a tool, an amazing tool, but remember even the most expensive wrench will do you no good if the plumber isn’t using it correctly. It was me not my lap band that took up running, yoga, and dragged myself to the gym. It’s true that the band helps you feel fuller faster but it was me not the band who choose to choose a small portion of salmon over a small portion of chocolate ice cream as I was losing weight.

During that weight loss process, I made sure to reward myself for milestones. I’m planning on doing the same with this journey to lose the few extra pounds I put on during the slip and to maintain that weight. I think rewarding yourself is important when you’re striving towards any goal. If you’re not looking to loose weight you may be embarking on an academic or career challenge, perhaps you’re trying to increase your distance as a runner, or maybe you’re just trying to watch less TV. Whatever your goal is you can break it down into smaller goals because you will hit those faster. You should have small rewards in place for when you hit those marks. I like to break things out into quarters as well and give myself a midsize reward when I hit those and I give myself a big reward when I hit my final achievement.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on these rewards if your budget is tight. You just need to make sure the treat is something you really want and something that will keep you motivated towards your end goal. When I was going through this weight loss challenge I never used food as a reward because that seemed counter intuitive. I set myself up with small milestones like losing 4 pounds a month since that averaged to about a pound a week if I hit that goal I’d treat myself to a pass for a new fitness class I was dying to try, a ticket for a movie I’d passed on earlier because I didn’t want to miss a scheduled workout, or a new tube of lipstick.

My quarterly goals were when I hit certain weight loss milestones. By that point I would have dropped a size or two and rather than taking my pants in again, I would treat myself to a new mini wardrobe. When I hit my final weight loss goal I bought myself a fabulous dress that may not be what most people consider expensive but for me, at that time it was an investment.

So to kickstart this new challenge I took myself out for a haircut. I know that seems silly and maybe not like a reward, but I have to say whenever I get my hair done I feel amazing. Amazing is a great way to feel when you embark on a new challenge. What rewards do you give yourself for a job well done?

 

Challenged Not Defeated

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In 2010 pre lap band

I’ve been very open about my struggles with weight and my decision to get a lap band over six years ago. With any type of weight loss surgery, there are risks and you cross your fingers that those complications won’t happen to you. Well, I learned a few months ago that I’m one of the 2-9% of patients who suffer from a band slip. This is when the band slips out of place. It can cause all sorts of complications. This slip probably occurred sometime last year and it is most likely that is what triggered my acid reflux (GERD). My symptoms had gotten worse over the past few months and sometimes eating could be really uncomfortable. I put on a few pounds because I couldn’t digest healthy foods like lettuce, lean protein, and etc. There were days where processed foods and high sugar items were all I could tolerate.

When a lap band slips the common course of action is to have another surgery to reposition it. I was hoping to do that as soon as I found out about the slip, but unfortunately,my current insurance has lots of restrictions around bariatric surgery and wouldn’t approve my surgeon because his hospital isn’t what they consider an “Institute of Quality” for this type of surgery.

So the past few months have been spent working with insurance to see who they would approve for this surgery, going through all the pre-op testing, and having to meet with specialists because of other complications. I’ve always been borderline anemic but my iron levels have been so low that I’ve had to have several transfusions.

Monday I finally went for this long postponed surgery. Unfortunately,when I woke up they had more bad news to break to me. It seems my lap band was totally obstructing my stomach and the only safe course of action was to remove it completely.  This has meant a slightly more painful post op experience than the original surgery, due to the incisions.

The real fear for me though is will I be able to maintain my weight loss without a band. My new surgeon said if I gain weight we can look into getting a gastric sleeve, but after this, I really don’t want to go under the knife again.

While curling into the fetal position and feeling sorry for myself seemed like a good idea at first, I knew I couldn’t do that. I would need to be proactive about this from day one. So in addition to following up with my surgeon post op, I’m also meeting with a nutritionist on a regular basis to come up with an eating and fitness plan that is healthy and doable. I’m also in the process of finding a therapist because I found therapy really helpful when I had my first surgery six years ago.

I pride myself on being a self-sufficient single woman but over the years I’ve learned that there is no shame in asking for help when you need it. Yes, I’m disappointed but in all honesty, I don’t regret my decision to get a lap band. I’m determined to take this challenge head on.

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Post weight loss

Three Little Things: Part 3

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I’ve talked about getting out of a rut or a funk or whatever you want to call it over the past couple of months. For me, it was three small steps that made a huge difference. The first was to embrace and express gratitude.  The second was to get out of town. This last thing that I’ve done which was by far the most challenging was to show myself a little self-love.  I don’t like to make generalizations, but I do think that women in particular

I don’t like to make generalizations, but I do think that women, in particular, tend to rationalize that self-love is selfish. I know I often make excuses not to do something nice for myself. These range from I don’t have enough time, that costs too much, and when I’m at my lowest I tell myself I don’t deserve something.

Over the past few months, I’ve been experiencing some health issues. I’ve been open about my struggles with weight and my decision to get a lap band six years ago. I’ve been experiencing acid reflux over the past year or so which has progressively got worse. My surgeon did some tests and realized that my band slipped. This can happen and can be repaired through surgery. This would be fine except my insurance company is very restrictive of what hospitals they’ll approve for bariatric surgery. Even though I have a top surgeon from one of the best hospitals in the country, I can’t have him perform this repair.

I’ve been going through the process of appointments and tests threw a surgeon and hospital that are approved. It’s a long and tedious process and my symptoms have gotten worse as a result of having to put this off. Most people associate acid reflux with simply being heartburn and it can be that in it’s mildest form. My symptoms are a bit different and include chronic nausea and a sour taste in my mouth and stomach. I have night cough which is an unpleasant condition where lying down causes the acid in your stomach to bubble up and…well to avoid being overly graphic let’s just say I spend a lot of time with my head over the toilet. My symptoms even produce other symptoms. As a result of regurgitating I’m often dehydrated, have insomnia, and in the mornings I frequently have migraines. You don’t need to throw me a pity party, I’m very good at doing that myself. I’m sharing this because this lack of control of my body makes me feel helpless at times and adds to this fear of not deserving good things.

The hardest part is food affects me. Foods that are typically thought of as being good for you can make my symptoms worse and some days overly processed and sugar laced products are my staples because they are they only things I can tolerate. This has resulted in some weight gain, not crazy weight gain but I’m about 10 pounds more than I’m comfortable with. That might night seem like a lot, but as someone who struggles with body image issues, I sometimes look in the mirror and think I weigh 1000 pounds or something.

This experience has been a reminder to love myself no matter what the scale says. I won’t ever be 1000 pounds and hopefully, this surgery gets approved and results in my feeling better and being able to maintain a weight that I feel comfortable with, but I can’t forget me from seven years ago. That morbidly obese girl should have given herself more love and accepted her beauty because while the exterior may be different I’m still her.

I’ve been trying to give myself a bit more TLC. I carve out time to write, I let myself say no way more than I ever have in the past if I truly can’t take something on, and I put don’t let myself leave the house till I feel good about how I look. That varies every day sometimes it’s as simple as throwing on some lip gloss and other days I might need to change my outfit four times, but the point is I always eventually feel like that person in the mirror is lovely and worth being loved by me and others.

How do you so yourself a little extra love when you need it?

Weight Loss: My Personal Journey

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Today I’m going to share something that is deeply personal, my own weight loss story. I struggled with my weight since I was a child and had yo-yo dieted most of my teens and twenties. In 2010 I underwent Lapband surgery and that in combination with good nutritional choices and keeping physically active have lead to my weight loss and maintenance over the past five years.  

My weight loss surgery isn’t a secret in my life.  My friends, even ones I’ve made post surgery know about it. I’m a freelance writer and I’ve had personal essays about my weight loss published on a few websites so even strangers know about my Lapband.  However, today I’m going to be more vulnerable about this than I have in the past because it isn’t just a physical change I’ve experienced.   

I’ve seen pictures of me as a child when I was “average” weight, but I don’t really remember what it felt like to not be overweight or obese.  I was teased a bit in grade school because after all I was “the fat kid”. What was my defense? I didn’t really cry about it or get angry, instead I killed people with kindness. I know some of my classmates must of thought I was an idiot because I’d hear them talk about me behind my back and then approach them like I hadn’t. Why did I do this? In truth I don’t really know, but I think I just wanted to be included. If being invited to join in with everyone else meant it was okay for them to make aside comments about me then so be it.

By the time I hit eighth grade things had changed. I think it had less to do with my being nice than it did with puberty ended for everyone, but suddenly my weight wasn’t a factor. Classmates didn’t really tease me anymore.  I wasn’t “the fat kid”, I was just Paula.  I went through high school and college that way. Sure occasionally I’d have a run in with someone who just needed to make a dig at me, but for the most part it wasn’t an issue.  

I dated a little during my teens and twenties, but not a ton. I was insecure about my looks and certainly there were times that I felt maybe I didn’t have a serious boyfriend because I wasn’t pretty. I don’t think I can attribute feeling that way to my weight though because I don’t think I’ve had a female friend who hasn’t felt that way at some point in her life even though they’re all beautiful and always have been. Dating wasn’t a priority me. I cared more about hanging with friends, finishing school, and figuring out what I was going to do after grad school.  

Losing weight was something I attempted to do through a variety of diets and exercise programs over the years.  I’d done calorie counting, Atkins, Weight Watchers, had a personal trainer, did Curves, and other fitness programs.  I had success with all of these methods, but inevitably I’d fall into the same pattern.  I’d lose weight, plateau, gain back all the weight I lost plus some extra, and then switch to another diet or program and the cycle would start again.  

I’m going to share some numbers which isn’t my favorite thing to do, but is necessary if I’m going to be as open about this as I intend.  At my heaviest ever I weight 328 pounds and was a size 28. Prior to my Lapband the thinnest I ever recall being as an adult was 238.  For whatever reason that was the number the scale never dipped below no matter how disciplined with my weight loss program at the time. .    

After putting myself through over a decade of yo-yo dieting why didn’t I pursue weight loss surgery sooner?  In truth, I knew very little about it.  I was really only somewhat familiar with Gastric Bypass which is another type of weight loss surgery.  I knew that it had a lot of potential side effects and a fairly high morbidity rate for a common surgery, so I never really looked into it seriously.  

At 27 I noticed I started to get winded when I went upstairs and my blood pressure started to get higher.  I knew that I needed to do something other than yo-yo dieting because that wasn’t working.  I looked into weight loss surgery more seriously and discovered there were other options aside from Gastric Bypass. After reading all the information, I felt that the Lapband was the best choice for me.  I liked that it was adjustable and that it seemed like more of a weight loss tool than anything else.  I had made my mind up that was the only option for me. I even decided to pursue a different surgical practice than the first one I visited because the original surgeon I met with kept trying to talk me into a different weight loss surgery because patients statistically shed more pounds than they did with Lapband.  For me I wasn’t really hung up on a final weight or dress size, it was more about being healthy and doing it in a way that I felt comfortable with.

I had my surgery in summer of 2010.  Sorry, we’re back to numbers again for a minute, on my surgery day, I weighed 277 pounds, five and a half years later I weigh 135.  Sharing my current weight is the thing I’m most self-conscious about. I hesitate to disclose it because weight loss whether surgical or not is different for everyone. My current weight isn’t even my lowest weight. I got down to 125 at one point, but even though it was technically in my BMI range for a healthy weight, it wasn’t for me. I looked gaunt and people that I was sick.  

I try not to be too hung up on numbers because two people can have the same surgery or follow the same diet and have completely different results.  This isn’t the definitive equation of how much weight someone will loose after getting a Lapband.  This is simply my story and that number happens to be where I ended up post Lapband, nutritional counselor, and activity plan.

While I’m on this soapbox, I’d also like to mention that I would never say that Lapband or any surgery or program is the one solution fits all to weight loss. Everyone is different and I believe if someone wants to lose weight she or he needs to figure out what is the best method for her or him.  Was this the right choice for me personally? Absolutely!  

My last little rant while I’m on a roll is this, even though I’ve lost weight and am now a “standard” dress size I still have a major beef with how we are a sizeist culture and discriminate against others based on their weight.  One of the hardest adjustments for me has been being in a group where someone might not know I had been overweight and witnessing them make fat jokes or dig at a stranger because of their size. Fortunately,none of my friends are like that so it isn’t something I’ve experienced constantly.  

A lot of people ask me what was the hardest thing about being obese. For me it was always the social stigma that came with it and experiencing some exclusions from typical activities that most people take for granted. I wasn’t allowed to sit in an exit row on airplanes because on certain airlines the seat belts were smaller so I was required to wear an extender, I couldn’t ride certain coasters at amusement parks because the harness didn’t fit over my chest, I was limited to where I could buy clothes and in fashion options because most stores don’t carry anything above a size 12, and strangers weren’t pleased if I sat next to them on a crowded bus or subway.

Other questions I’m often asked is what is feels like to look in the mirror if I recognize myself, and how has my dating life improved since loosing weight.  Here is the odd thing. When I weighed 328 pounds some days I would look in the mirror and feel unattractive and other days I’d feel pretty. Now that I weight 135 pounds there are days when I look in the mirror and feel unattractive and other days when I feel pretty. I don’t get asked out by better quality men than I used to, I just get asked out by more of them.  I haven’t lost any friends because my body changed and I can’t imagine that any of my newer friends wouldn’t have entered my life if I still weighed more. The important point is getting a Lapband was a decision I made for myself and to be honest, that’s one of the major reasons I think I was successful with losing weight.

Where I have noticed a change in my life is my health and energy.  I have stamina in my 30s that I didn’t have in my teens.  I’ve noticed improvements in my blood pressure and a significant decrease in migraines which I used to experience at least once a week.  

This is probably the longest post you’ll see from me, but I needed to make sure that everything was said.  Moving forward with wellness related content, I’ll be talking about food, fitness, work/life balance, time management, and treating yourself well.  I couldn’t write on those topics without first sharing my story and where I am coming from. Again I don’t advocate that anything I discuss or have tried myself is for everyone. I’m just sharing my experiences and you may take from that what you will.  My final truth that I must share is that I am healthier and happier than I have ever been, which is evidenced by my being able to finally write about this as openly as I’ve always wanted to.