I’ve declared war on the chins…

faces

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80 lbs down- the “unattainable” 100lb loss is in my sights!

3.2.16 face80lbs down

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Today’s Before and DURING

 

Before and During 1.13.16

BEFORE- September 8, 2015 (350.5 pounds)

DURING- January 12, 2016 (275.2 pounds)

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Saying Goodbye

clothes

Yesterday I said goodbye.  While goodbyes are usually hard, this goodbye could not have been easier or a happier moment.  I said goodbye to a closet full of clothes that no longer fit!  And I mean a CLOSET FULL.  These are clothes that I have worn for years- clothes that I never could imagine would be too big.  Clothes that I had to lose weight (a significant amount even) just to fit into…. but now they hang off me.  It is such a surreal feeling.

Just four months ago, I was wearing the largest size that Lane Bryant carried- a size 28.  But this weekend I found myself crying in the dressing room as the size 14 tops comfortably fit (my pant size is lagging behind a bit- at more of an 18/20- a size I can’t remember when I last wore).  It wasn’t the first time I cried in a dressing room-but it was one of the few times they were tears of happiness!

Size 14:body

The best part of all of this is that my most recent loss and size reduction comes after the holidays AND after a week long cruise!  Yes, two of the hardest weight loss challenges… and I conquered them.   But the best part was that I came out of the holidays and vacation feeling as if I truly enjoyed myself.  I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything.  I was still able to eat, I just didn’t eat nearly as much as I would have before.  And I was able to MOVE!   As of this month I am officially down 75lbs.  A number that seemed so unattainable before.

I am thankful every day that I finally made the decision to have the vertical sleeve surgery.  It has changed my life.  I still have to make smart choices and I have to stay motivated and focused on my goals.  But the vertical sleeve has been the best weight loss weapon I could have imagined.  Weight loss is a battle.  But this time, I have a partner in my battle that tackles the hunger for me and prevents me from slipping into the pattern of over-eating.  I physically CANNOT overeat (or even “normal” eat for that matter).  But I don’t feel neglected- I just feel full.  That isn’t to say that the surgery takes on the entire battle for me.  I still have to exercise and make good choices to keep seeing results.  One of the biggest things that I have done is to eliminated all bread, pasta, and rice from my diet.  I could probably eat those things with minimal stomach discomfort (I know many people with this surgery do).  But I believe that eliminating those things has helped me to be more successful so I’m going to keep down that path.  There are so many alternatives these days (cauliflower rice, spaghetti squash, vegetable spiral “noodles”, etc) that doing so has been pretty easy.

The best part of losing 75lbs is that it makes the end goal seem so much more doable.  When I started, the thought of losing 150 or 200 pounds seemed so completely insane and unattainable.  But now, I am already half way to that 150 goal and well on my way to the 200.  It’s not such a crazy idea anymore.

In the coming weeks I am going to focus on toning and moving more while keeping my diet fairly consistent with what I have been doing.  I’m not going to obsess over the numbers (otherwise- trying to reach that 100lb loss mark is going to drive me crazy), but instead, I am going to enjoy the non-scale victories like feeling better and seeing those clothing sizes go down!

I look forward to many more GOODbyes to come!

75lbs down and counting:

facepic1.11.16

 

 

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Always take BEFORE pictures!

I have been frustrated lately that although I have been losing weight, I didn’t feel like I was seeing many changes in my face.  And let’s face it, that whole double/triple/+ chin thing can really get a girl down.  So today, I searched through my phone trying to find a BEFORE picture for some comparisons.  This is the result:

10.7.15 before and after

Yes, that double chin is still hiding down there in the second picture, but it is DEFINITELY retreating!  I’ll have that sucker conquered in no time now!

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A Battle Won

This past Saturday, I pulled a pair of jeans out of my dresser.  I had not worn them in several months because they just weren’t comfortable.  Basically, the last time I had dared to put them on, I had barely been able to squeeze my butt and gut into the size 28s.  It wasn’t pretty.

jeans

But since my weight had steadily been decreasing, I figured I would give them a shot.  And guess what, I was able to fit in both my butt and gut. Easily.  In fact, way too easily.  They were too big.

jeanstoobig

A few hours later, I made a quick trip to the Mall and my local Lane Bryant.  After 30 minutes of trying on clothes and shedding several embarrassing tears of happiness in the dressing room, I emerged with new jeans.  Size 22!  And not just any size 22.  The exact same style and fit as my size 28s.  I really had dropped 3 sizes in one month!

happyjeans

I am very lucky that the scale is moving so quickly for me right now.  I am certainly working for it by going to the gym several times a week and religiously recording my calories in My Fitness Pal, but I know that my surgery is what really made this doable.

loseweightnow

My next big goal is 7 pounds away- being under 300lbs.  I can’t wait until I kick the 300s to the curb for once and for all!  And yes, I mean it this time.  After that, I am really looking forward to surpassing my weight loss from 2013 by getting under 275.

skinny yet

I have times when I am so disappointed in myself for undoing all of my hard work from two years ago.

findweight

I know that once I get under 275, I can leave those feelings behind and focus on creating a me that I haven’t seen in a very long time.

remember NSV

Until I get there, I will cherish all of the non-scale victories I can get!

NSV

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The Easy Weigh Out

war

I have been engaged in a lifetime battle against the bulge.  And I have been losing.  Horribly.  I’m talking a total massacre.  I haven’t just been losing the war, I’ve lost basically every battle.

white flag

I made a valiant surge against the enemy back in 2013 and won a 60lb loss (see previous posts).  I worked hard for several months, went to the gym 5+ days a week, kept my calories below 1200 (all with the help of Phentermine).  But, when the drugs stopped holding off my hunger and my willpower began to slip- the weight crept back.   And so it was that my victory was short lived.  I gained back the 60lbs in 2014 and added another 20lbs for good measure in 2015.

gained weight

My life strategy was clearly not working.  If I wanted to avoid becoming a housebound 600lb star of my own reality show on Discovery channel, I had to make a change.

600lblife

So, I did.  A drastic one.

On September 9, 2015, I underwent a Laparoscopic Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy.

A Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG) is a procedure whereby a surgeon removes a large portion of the stomach (80%) and staples the remaining stomach to create a smaller stomach (somewhere in the neighborhood of the size of a small banana).  The surgery prevents the patient from eating large quantities of food (the remaining stomach is no longer “stretchy”) and also removes the portion of the stomach that produces some of the hormones that trigger hunger.

VSG

Prior to my surgery I was terrified.  I had not undergone anesthesia since I was a kid and I was thoroughly convinced I was going to die on the table.  Seriously.  I’m not exaggerating.  I updated my will.  I put my affairs in order.

will

But even with the thoughts that I would almost surely die on the table, I knew that those odds were better than my odds of staying alive at a 350lb and climbing body weight.  So I did it.

And given that I’m writing this now… I suppose the suspense is over…  I survived.

survived

The surgery went flawlessly.  I woke up from anesthesia easily and with very little pain.  I spent one night in the hospital for observation (standard) and was back home a little over 24 hours after my operation.   I had very little pain.  After surgery I only needed pain medication at night (and that was mostly just because of discomfort from moving around in my sleep, not true pain).  I had the surgery on Wednesday afternoon was back at work with no problems Monday morning.  [By the way- I can’t praise Dr. Darin Minkin and Des Peres Hospital in St. Louis, MO enough for their truly outstanding care.]

For the last two weeks, I’ve followed my surgeon’s directions regarding what I can eat. I have slowly moved from clear liquids to pureed food to soft food- all with a focus on protein.

protein

It is a very, very strange feeling to be full after the smallest amounts of food.  But I have.  I can generally eat about 1/4cup of cottage cheese before I feel as if I’ve eaten a giant Thanksgiving feast.  But even stranger, I haven’t been hungry.  Now, I have still had moments when I thought- “Man, I wish I could eat that” for example when my husband had a delicious smelling slice of pizza- but I have not had the diet-sabotaging hunger that I have experienced so many other times in my life.

nothungry

In mid August when I first began seriously planning for this surgery, I weighed 350.5lbs.  As of this morning, I have lost a little over 33lbs. (I’m 18lbs down from where I was at the start of the year- and my starting MyFitnessPal weight of 335 lbs).  But even more exciting than that, I have had nearly perfect blood glucose readings.  I have more energy, my feet and hands are no longer swollen, and I can move without pain.  I feel great!

feel great

I will have a lot to learn over the next year as I attempt to win many battles and ultimately the war against obesity.  But for the first time in a long time, I am hopeful.

hope

I know there are a lot of people who look down on weight loss surgery.  They say that it is the “easy” way out.  But to me, this wasn’t the “easy” door.   It was the ONLY door through which my large derrière  would fit.  I only wished I had opened it sooner.  I could have ended this war long ago.

fatdoor

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My Way

my way

In an ideal world, we all would eat “clean”. Nothing but organic fruits and vegetables, free range chicken, and wild-caught fish.

clean eating

Guess what, this isn’t an ideal world. At least not at my house! I have tried to eat “clean” several times in the past- always promising that I will cook more, freeze meals ahead of time, get up earlier (hah!). But inevitably, that plan always fails.

clean eating cupcake

When I set out to get back on track last week, I knew that I had to be more realistic about what I could and could not accomplish. Cooking every day just wasn’t going to happen. And if I set out to do that, I knew I would end up out at a restaurant or throwing together some quick and carb-ladden meal out of desperation. So, being realistic about my own time restraints and evening willpower, I decided that frozen meals were the best choice for me. I know, I know. They’re chock full of sodium and if only I dedicated just a few hours of my weekend, I could make my own “clean” frozen meals. Yeah, I’ve read the pinterest posts too…

make own lean cuisine
(Vegetable are good for you. Wow, how insightful)

make own meals
(Yeah, I’m not doing those dishes)

make own LC
(Is this supposed to look appetizing?)

But you know what, I don’t want to cook a bunch of meals. I want to open my fridge or freezer, pick something, and have it ready in less than 10 minutes. And so far, it is working for me. I have stuck to the plan and stayed on track all week. In that spirit, I figured I would share some of the products that have been great finds for me:

1.) Bai5 Drinks.
bai5
Each bottle has 10 calories and contains antioxidants from a “secret superfruit”. I don’t know about all of that. What I do know is that they are delicious and do seem to put a little pep in my step in the mornings.

2.) Oat Fit Oatmeal.
oat fit
This is my go-to breakfast every day. It is the perfect blend of creamy and crunchy and has just enough flavor without being too sweet. A truly filling breakfast for only 100 calories!

3.) Gourmet Cafe Salads.
gourmet cafe salad
These salads come pre-packaged with all of the toppings and pre-measured dressing as well as the calorie count prominently displayed on the front. They are delicious! The lettuce has green onions and cabbage mixed in so that it has more flavor and crunch and the dressings are tasty. Seriously, these things are worth a few extra bucks. And at less than 300 calories, they are a more than satisfying lunch.

4.) Michelina’s Lean Buffalo Chicken Snackers.
buffalo chicken snackers
Ok. The first time I heated these up and took a bite, I had to go back in and grab the box out of the trash to make sure they were lean. These things are make-you-feel-like-you’re-cheating-on-your-diet good. I don’t know what kind of magic they use to make them only 200 calories, but I’m happy they found it. Seriously, the best snack ever.

5.) My Favorite Lean Cuisine and Smart Ones Frozen Dinners.
beef portabello
Lots of flavor and TASTY potatoes (unlike some of the others… yeah, I’m looking at you cabbage rolls)

pasta romano with bacon
Very filling and full of flavor. After I finished, I actually felt FULL. And I don’t mean that in an annoying weight watchers meeting attendee “OMG, I just can’t eat all of my calories!” sort of way.

slow roasted turkey breast
I heat this up and add some canned green beans for a very satisfying and delicious dinner. The gravy is key to this one and the potatoes are creamy and flavorful.

stuffed cabbage
I want to hate the cabbage roll because, well because the mashed potatoes taste like grade school paste (not that I was one of those kids that actually ate paste… but it’s certainly how I would imagine the paste tasted). But damn those cabbage rolls. The rolls themselves are just so delicious that I am temporarily blinded to the awfulness of the potatoes. And the best part, the meal is only 210 calories. It is definitely the savior for those nights where my remaining daily calories are running a little low.

So, let the pinterest perfectionists judge away. I’ll keep doing what works for me.

pinterest

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Food is Freaking Fabulous

explorer of food

Well, it has been about six months since my last post wherein I set out my new goals of weight loss glory. Any guesses on what my update might say now? “Down 100lbs!!” Nope. “Doing fantastic and never felt more fit!!” Nope. It’s six months later and I’m…. well, I’m starting over again.

In the last year, I have managed to gain back every single pound of the 60lbs I lost last year. Some people gain back weight and say, “I just don’t know how it happened?!”. Well, I respect you too much to lie to you. I know exactly how it happened…. Food is freaking fabulous. Yep, I ate that 60 pounds right back on one fast food stop, one second helping, and one creamy pasta dish at a time.

food pyramid

I ate everything and without abandon. Always thinking to myself- I’ll get back on track next Monday (always a Monday, right?). But 52 Mondays later, I still hadn’t found that elusive track.

Last Monday, I finally rolled my heavy butt back onto the track. And I’m happy to say that I’m still on it. Not only am I on the track, but I am steadily moving forward and building up some steam. I’ve lost a little over 8 pounds in 7 days (yes, that is quite possible when your caboose is this large).

caboose

And during these last seven days, as I’ve struggled through the perils and hungers of a new diet, one of the most profound things I’ve realized is that it is not the old habits of this past year that I find myself missing most. It is not the freaking fabulous food.

It is the feeling of accomplishment that I had last summer that I miss most. It is that feeling that I want to get back. Because the one thing that was better than freaking fabulous food, was feeling freaking fabulous myself.

I'm fabulous

Please let me be clear, this isn’t a “Nothing Tastes as Good as Skinny Feels” post, I promise.

nothing tastes as good

Believe me, this girl knows damn well that a piece of pizza, a cupcake, an eggroll, a burger, a milkshake etc, etc can taste pretty damn good. But, as I’ve stated before, the feeling that those foods bring only lasts for as long as the bites last- and then its gone. But the fabulous that comes from feeling healthier, moving better, fitting into better clothes, and fitting into gorgeous shoes lasts forever.

So, when those fabulous foods pop up on the tracks as I’m headed on my journey, I will do my very best to push them out of the way. Because the sooner I give up the short-time food fabulosity, the sooner I will get to my ultimate fabulous destination. I’m on my way there now.

move on down the track

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Nobody’s Perfect…

On May 6, 2013, I made the decision to turn my life around and get healthy.  I started this blog a week later with this post:

Too Young to Quit on Life

I have tried to lose weight a hundred times in my lifetime. That number is not an exaggeration. I’ve done Weight Watchers, Gold’s Gym, SparkPeople, Medifast, Atkins, South Beach, Slim Fast, etc. I’ve joined support groups, talked to dieticians, and vowed to do better. I’ve tried Orlistat, Symlin, and came very close to having weight loss surgery. Each time, I got excited and motivated at first and then quickly gave up at the first real temptation. The programs were not the problem, I was.

My weight had slowly climbed over my 34 years to reach a staggering 336 lbs. I had not yet reached my 35th birthday, but felt like I had already passed the peak of my life and was on the downward hill to death. I had given up my dream of some day having a baby, had become complacent in my inability to engage in any sort of physical activity, and had resigned myself to the fact that I would probably die at a young age. My feet were swollen every day, my blood sugars were out of control (I’m Type-I diabetic), I had joint problems and a frozen shoulder, and I had my first major diabetic complication- macular edema in both eyes. Even with all of those issues, I continued on each day eating like a teenage boy and sitting on my couch content to do nothing. And each day, I gained even more weight.

I don’t know what it was that finally clicked. I didn’t have a major epiphany. No intervention, no tramatic event. No message from above. I just woke up and decided I was too young to quit on life. Too young to give up on my dreams. I logged into My Fitness Pal (an online app that helps track daily calories), started checking my blood sugars, and asked my doctor for help in getting started in a real weight loss plan. She prescribed Phentermine (the slightly less evil Phen of the fen-phen combo) to help jumpstart my weight loss and suggested I consume 1200-1400 calories a day.

So, here I am. On the first leg of my LAST weight loss adventure. It’s going to be a long, tough road (I’m hoping I can be down to a healthy weight in about 1.5 years). But it’s going to be a short journey compared to the long life ahead of me.

By June 6, 2013, I had lost 30 pounds and was well on my way to what would eventually be a 60+ pound weightloss. 

Image

But then, the summer wound down and so did my willpower.  I stopped tracking my calories as religiously.  I had a few too many “no count” days.  I told myself, “one little cheat day won’t hurt” one too many times.  The blog posts started to get sparce.  After all- who wants to share the fact that they are failing!

Image

Then, the days started getting shorter and the weather colder.  The clothes started covering more.

And the “cheat” days became the norm.

Image

By winter, I was completely off the wagon.  And the clothes that “covered more” didn’t so much cover all of me.   I broke back into my old clothes- the ones that I had put away for donation- and then even they started to get tight.

Image    

I couldn’t believe it.  After going so far and accomplishing something I had never done before, I had let it all slip backward.  And every time I let myself think that thought, I just felt more defeated.  And when I felt defeated… I ate.  And ate some more.

I started letting myself believe that there was clearly no point.  I obviously couldn’t do this.  I had lost all of that weight just to gain it (almost) all back.  Why bother trying again?

 Image

Image

But, like that day back in early May of 2013, something clicked.  That self-defeating talk was bull.  Yes, I screwed up.  A lot.  Often. In glorious high calorie, high fat fashion.  And as I sat in my office today I realized that I don’t have to give up.  I am still down from where I started last year. And best of all- I am back on the wagon a full month earlier than last year.  I’ve got this.  I’ve done it once, and I can do it again.  And this time, I can keep it going.

So, I have a new plan.

First, concentrate on eliminating the negative self talk.  Nobody likes a whiner.

Image

Second, get back to the gym.  This winter I didn’t completely stop going to the gym (that’s a positive), but I cut back from 5-6 days a week to 1-2.  I need that daily gym time to keep me on track and motivated.

Image

Third, focus on a healthier diet.  Not just on counting calories.  I know this whole Paleo thing has gotten a lot of attention and seems to be the diet fad of the moment.  I do not usually put a lot of faith into fad diets.  However, I have seen what carbs (even healthy grain carbs) do to my blood sugars.  I think that cutting those out (as much as possible), can only be a positive for my body.  The actual Paleo diet doesn’t require you to track calories- just to cut out all grains, legumes, dairy, re-fined sugars, potatoes, and processed foods.  I plan to do a bit of a modification.  I think MyFitnessPal is a valuable accountability tool for me so I will continue to count calories.  But, I will do so while doing my best to eliminate all grains, potatoes, processed foods and re-fined sugars.  I don’t eat a ton of dairy now, but I don’t plan to cut it out completely.

Image

If the weight doesn’t come off the way I would like it to, I can always adjust.  But it seems like a solid, healthy plan for now.

Fourth, commit to a ONCE A WEEK blog update-  regardless of whether I’m up or down.  A daily blog update is simply too ambitious this time around.  But weekly is doable.  And I need the accountability of this again.  Plus, it really is helpful to read in my own words that I was able to do it once before.  I can do it again.

 

So that’s it.  I’ve climbed back on and I’m ready to do this again.   I know it will be hard at first and I know I will have struggles.  But, I also know that I can get past those struggles and I know that the reward will be worth every single hard day. 

Image

Game on.

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