Thanksgiving 2018 – Be Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American readers. Before I head off to spend some time with my family, I wanted to take a few minutes to just reflect on a few the things I’m thankful for this year.

I’m thankful for another year with my best friend, Jenilee.
Many of you know that she’s been fighting hard to live with 2 nasty brain tumors. Every message, every phone call, and every visit I get is truly something to be thankful for. She’s been my closest friend for half of my life and I’m so glad she’s around to keep listening to my crazy life stories. I’m also very thankful for her husband, Kenn. He has been the best soul anyone could hope for in a situation like this. 2 beautiful souls that I love dearly and I can’t imagine life without. Jen isn’t just a friend, she’s my sister. She’s family.

Here we are after moving into our first apartment together back in 2005!
What a journey this has been.

I’m thankful for my Grandmom.
Grandmom Grace will be 89 years old next month. I call her each morning on my way to work and we talk about all kinds of things. Some of my favorite topics are remembering my memories as a child and listening to her memories growing up in a very different world. I enjoy hearing about how her card games go or who was wearing what to church on Sunday morning. She also gives me the traffic report on the regular. I know there will come a day where I’ll have to drive to work without talking to her, but for now, I’m so thankful that we can talk about anything we want to.

I’m thankful for my husband.
This year he was able to lose over 100 pounds. He’s focusing on losing weight and getting healthier. We’ve been working on our communication and I feel like our relationship has grown so much. I’m so proud of him. I just asked him what he’s thankful for this year and his response was, “A job. Even though it’s boring, it’s a job.”
Touché, honey.

I thankful for my friends and family, without their amazing generosity and kind actions and words, my life would be much less fulfilling than it is. There are some people who just go out of their way to make me feel loved and to them, I’m forever grateful. I love these sweet souls so much. Each day spent with them is a great day.

I’m thankful for my job and the amazing people I work with.

I’m thankful for music. Everything about music makes me happy.

But most importantly, I’m thankful for having the chance to gain my health back. I realize that a year ago, I was well on my way to an early grave. I was being selfish by killing myself with food. I was hiding myself from people I care about and I had become a complete hermit who hated to leave my house. I was so close to death, that many days, that’s all I thought about. It’s crazy what a year of change can do for one’s health, body, and mind.

I’m thankful for so much. This list would be so long if I kept going, but I have to go get ready to spend the day with a small part of my huge family. I’m most excited about Grandmom’s punkin pie! *drool*

Stay tuned for another FAQ – I’m going to answer your questions about weight loss surgery. You guys have been sending me lots of questions! Keep em coming!!

Eat lots, stay safe, and nap hard!

9 months post VSG – FAQ

Many of you have been asking questions about my journey. My goal is to answer as many of them as I can.

Have you been able to stop taking any medications?
I have officially gone from taking 17 medications daily plus ibuprofen multiple times a day to now taking 3 medications daily and the occasional OTC pain relief tablet as needed. That’s 14 prescriptions that I don’t have to fill every month, 14 fewer bottles of chemicals that I have to shuffle through each day and ingest into my body, 14 fewer things I have to spend my money on to survive, and 14 fewer bottles of crap to pack when I travel. FREEDOM!!

How much weight have you lost so far? 
In 9 months, I have lost 100+ pounds. It’s happening so fast that it’s very hard for me to believe. I struggle daily with body dysmorphia. Just the other day as I was laying out my laundry, I was confused as to why my sister’s pants were left at my house. Oh… Wait, these are mine. Weird. I’m so used to bigger clothing that I didn’t even realize that the much smaller size pants in the laundry were actually my own. When I glance in the mirror, I still see a 300-pound person. When I look at side-by-side photos, I still see the same fat face and very fluffy, disgusting body. The compliments that people so generously give make me feel extremely uncomfortable because I just don’t feel like I’ve changed at all in the way that I look. This is something I’m still working on.

Do you feel any different?
YES! I feel so much better! I’m not tired all the time. I come home and don’t mind doing chores, where as before I would sit on the couch until it was time for bed. I’m enjoying moving my body again. I can tell my confidence is returning and overall my mood has improved. I’m no longer ashamed of who I am anymore. This has been a complete mental and physical change and the change was most definitely for the better.

Is there anything you can’t eat?
No. There are a few things that don’t sit well and make me feel a little nauseated. Rice and pasta are for sure on that list. Bread like items that are very dry sit heavy in my stomach and make me feel not so great either. One thing for sure that has changed is the way my body reacts to certain foods. Sweets and fatty or greasy foods cause lots of excess gas. I don’t eat salads much because I feel pretty full or air and water. Neither of those are proteins so I try to steer clear of anything with a lot of watery leafy greens.

Has your health improved?
It’s still early in my journey, however, the answer to this question is most definitely YES! I got my lab results in from my 3-month & 6-month post-op appointments. Everything looked great, even my iron which has been low since I was 11 years old is practically perfect. I don’t dread going to the doctor anymore. Before I knew I was facing a death sentence. I hated hearing what the doctor had to say. THat’s not the case any longer. The best part is this – I’M NO LONGER PREDIABETIC!!

Do you regret having the surgery?
No way! Not even for a second. Given the chance to do it all over, I’d do it again in an instant. My only regret is that I didn’t do this years ago when I first wanted to. I look back and see all the I missed due to my health and my weight issues. I really wish I would have done this long ago.

Do you consider all the pain and restrictions worth it?
There is no real “pain.” The first 24 hours after surgery was by far the worst of this entire process. Since that, if I am in pain, it’s not due to my surgery at all. It’s because I’m doing something that I shouldn’t be doing. There aren’t really any restrictions at this point other than the sheer amount of food I can eat at once. Just like I stated before, it’s actually very freeing. Before when I went to dinner with friends, I didn’t want to talk. I wanted to eat. I didn’t care about being with them, I cared about the food on the table. I cared about who was going to eat the last piece of bread. I cared about rather or not the waiter was going to refill my drink fast enough. I cared about when they would ask if I wanted dessert and what I was going to have.
Now when I go out, I look at the menu and decide what I want. From that point on it’s about the company I’m with. It’s no longer about the meal that’s in front of my face. I love being present in the moment now.
Is it reversible if one day you want to have more freedom?
The surgery I chose to have is not reversible. They cut 80% of my stomach away and took it out. Imagine cutting a wig, that ish ain’t gonna grow back. Now, if I don’t keep up the smaller portions and keep my body moving, I can stretch my sleeve out a bit. I really hope that never happens because that’s how I ended up where I was to begin with. Giving up the freedom I had when it comes to food was the best thing I’ve done for myself so far.

Keep the questions coming. I’m happy to answer anything thrown at me. You can leave your comments down below or private message me on any of my social media platforms. Please keep in mind that these answers are MY answers. Not everyone shares the same journey so I encourage you to reach out to many people and do your own research if you are considering a surgery like this for yourself.

Until next time,

Nine Months after Weight Loss Surgery – An update

As per usual, it’s been a while. I’m terrible at keeping this site updated.

I’m officially 9 months into a whole new life. On February 14th, 2018 I had weight loss surgery to remove about 70% of my stomach in hopes to lose weight, improve my health, and boost my confidence. I’m happy to say that all 3 of those things have happened.

I’m officially down 100+ pounds from my highest weight ever. I started this journey at 307 pounds and today I’m weighing in at 200.4. My goal was to be under 200 by Christmas and it’s not even Thanksgiving and I’m so close.

My overall health has dramatically increased. I was taking 17 prescription medications daily before my surgery. I’m very happy to announce that I’m completely off ALL of my prescription medications. That’s right folks, I said ALL of them.

My confidence has greatly improved. I’m no longer wishing I were invisible and that people would just forget about me. I’m feeling much better about myself and I’m loving life again. It’s much easier to move around. Even things I used to dread doing like shaving my legs or putting on sunscreen for a day at the river have become much easier. I used to sit inside when everyone else would go to the river because I was ashamed and the thought of going up and down the stairs just to get to the river and back up to the house was something that I dreaded so much. 74 stairs down a steep hill was too much for me. I hate that I missed out on so many memories, but that’s behind me now.

I used to opt out of social events because I felt like people would judge me for my weight, and now I’m excited to go out with my friends. It’s amazing to me how much better I feel in general. When my sister asked me to help her move a few months back, my initial thought was “Heck NO! Is she even crazy?!” but then I remembered that I’m so used to feeling like crap and not moving and that was no longer the case. I needed to change my mindset. I went out to help her get settled into her new house and for the first time in over 6 years, my sister and my mother both told me that they were proud of me. It was still hard, as I was still very overweight and out of shape (still am) but the fact that I agreed to go and then actually did more than sit on the couch the entire time was a major improvement for me.

Let’s catch up to today. When I’m feeling stressed or anxious at the office, I go to the stair case and go up and down until my heart starts racing. It’s the perfect way for me to clear my head, but I would NEVER have done that before now. Not once. No way. In fact, I would use the elevator any time that I could because the idea of going up the stairs and being so out of breath was so embarrassing to me that I couldn’t handle it. My how things have changed in just a few short months.

My husband and I are going to the gym on the regular and we enjoy finding places around our area to get us up off of the couch and outside. I went so long staying inside that I developed a major vitamin D deficiency. No more of that. It’s time to get outside and live.

I hit a few stalls, as you can see by the fluctuating numbers below, but the important part is that I never stopped.

The differences are really starting show!

In the past 4 months I’ve lost a few inches as well.

I’m going to do a short post in the next few days answering any of your questions that you might have about my surgery. I know a few of you have reached out to me expressing an interest in having this type of surgery as well. I want to be as transparent as I can, but I also want everyone to understand that everyone has their own story to tell. My story isn’t the only story out there.

If you have any questions you’d like me to answer in my next post, please post them down below, or send me a message on any of my social media platforms.

That’s it for now.
Until next time, stay healthy!

An update (10.5 weeks post-op)

Hello readers, my old friends. I’ve come to update you again! (If you didn’t sing that to the tune of Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence, we aren’t real friends…)

It’s been 2 months since you guys have gotten a full update from me. I know most of you follow me on Facebook or Instagram so you see my journey unfold as it’s happening, however, this is more for those of you who want the entire story, not just a few frustrating or successful posts that I chose to share as the days creep by.

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Let me first start by saying that this has been the most amazing journey so far. I was thinking today on my drive back in from visiting my family out in the country that my life is no longer focused on food. It’s strange how that happened, but it’s true. I used to think to myself, I can’t go out there because they won’t have any food I like, or they will judge me for eating a midnight snack while I’m supposed to be sleeping. This time, I told them I wanted some queso or guacamole and that was the end of it. After I helped my sister move stuff into her new (and super adorable) house, we went to pick up food for the crew. I ate 3 bites of some nacho toppings and that was entirely too much. I felt like I had overdone it. A few hours later I had a small handful of peanut butter M&Ms and I was ready for bed. I wasn’t focused on food the whole time I was there. It’s so strange to not get cravings like I used to. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I do still get them but they are very short lived and I’m able to continue focusing on real life while craving something, unlike before when I would obsess and stop everything until I got whatever it was that I wanted.

Speaking of helping the family move, it was a toasty day yesterday. Usually, on hot days, I avoid all activity because my heart starts going insane and I end up with a heart rate of 170+ just from getting out of my car and walking into the house. Not this time! I was outside taking things upstairs and through hallways like a champ. My heart rate never once got over 150 – through I was a bit cranky because I was sweaty. I really really really hate to sweat.

My diet hasn’t been the best as of lately. I was doing good with the keto thing until I realized that I simply just love things with carbs in them far too much. I still manage to keep at or below 800 calories a day which is what my surgeon has recommended. Only 2 times have I gone over my 800 calorie goal and it was due to some kind of celebration. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about eating since I’ve had this surgery, it’s that I simply cannot multitask and eat a meal at the same time. When I’m eating, I have to take one bite, stop what I’m doing and truly focus on chewing, swallowing, and waiting at least 5 minutes before my next bite. If I’m talking to someone, watching TV, or driving, that focus is gone and sure enough, I make myself super nauseated and spend the next 30 minutes with a barf cup near my mouth. It brings a whole new meaning to mindful eating.

Vitamins – UGH! I cannot stomach the big huge chewable bariatric vitamins that I’m supposed to take. The moment they get past my esophagus and into my belly, they come right back up. I’m been wearing supplemental patches to get some of the vitamins and nutrients that I’ve been lacking from my diet. So far, it’s the only way for me to get everything I need without taking 52 different pills each day. I stick 5 patches to my body each day. It’s a more expensive route than the big chewable tablets, but if I’m barfing them up anyway, they aren’t really doing me much good no matter how inexpensive they are.

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Protein – Meeting my 90g of protein each day is next to impossible. I’m doing good to make it to 60 or 70 grams. From what I hear, this will get easier with time, but for now, it just seems like a crazy unreachable goal.

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Speaking of goals! When I found out that my surgery was scheduled for February 14th, I made a personal goal for myself that by my birthday I wanted to be at or under 250 pounds. Tuesday is my birthday and I’m SO proud to say that on Friday morning I weighed in at 249.1! There’s an insane sense of accomplishment and pride that comes with almost every weigh-in. Every time I notice clothing fitting differently or jewelry sliding off or even my shoes slipping right off of my feet, I can’t help but get the tremendous sense of pride. No one has done this but me. I feel better, I have more energy, I’m happier, I have tons more confidence in myself and it’s just a wonderful feeling that I expect to only grow stronger as more time passes.

I promised that I would keep this post pretty short. All in all, there’s really nothing too terribly bad about this process. I do miss eating straight scrambled eggs and getting food drunk on gobs of hot bread while waiting for my food to arrive at restaurants, but those will happen again with time. I also miss being able to chug water like a fish! For now though, I’m enjoying the freedom of not having to think about food 100% of the time. It’s a nice break from the past, that’s for sure.

It’s time for me to get my beauty rest. (HAHAHA!)
Stay gorgeous my sweet friends.
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