Category Archives: Reflection

It’s Mom’s Birthday

I’ve never been so excited to celebrate my mom’s birthday. Earlier this year, when she had two strokes, I was faced with the reality that I could lose her. I know that’s how life works, but I am so thankful that it didn’t happen that way.

mom-and-meMy mom is my favorite person on the planet, and I’ve never once questioned her love for me…ever.

Perhaps I’m more emotional right now than normal, but I’m fully aware that I’m lucky to have her here. I’m thankful that she’s taking steps to improve her health too.

She’s walking at the gym, eating more fruits and veggies and she’s even drinking Tera’s Whey protein shakes once a day.

I love her, and I’m so thankful that she’s here. I’m thankful that her singing voice is making its return, and I am looking forward to doing some fun things with her over the next few months. (We’ll start by seeing the new Bridget Jones movie again. Judge if you will, but Colin Firth and Patrick Dempsey are handsome!!!!)

I’m going to spend Mom’s birthday with her, and I pray that I get to spend many, many more with her.

 

 

Less Than One Week

I felt much better today than I did last night, and I’m thankful for that. I’m still hungry, and I spent a big part of the day dreaming about the ounce or two of chicken that I’ll be able to eat about 7 weeks from now. Instead of chicken I forced myself to drink protein and water. I’m more tired than usual too, but I’m down over 14 pounds from last week. That’s encouraging.

It’s hard to think about anything else at this point, and I suppose that’s okay. I’m tired of talking and thinking about it, but it’s one of themes important things I’ve ever done. My surgery is less than one week away, and I’m just ready to get through it. I’m not looking forward to being in the hospital, but I am looking forward to returning home to start the healing process.

sakroots

In an attempt to take my mind off of my hunger I spent some time looking for black boots online, but I didn’t find any that I wanted. I’ll just need to look for them locally because it’s too hard to know what will fit well.

I did find a pair of rain boots, and they’ve been on my wish list for quite a while. I ordered them because I already know the size and fit, and I’m looking forward to a rainy day in October when I can wear them.

While online shopping I paused to watch the series premier of Designated Survivor. I had high hopes for it because I adore Kiefer Sutherland, and it didn’t disappoint. The first episode was great, so now I have two fall TV favorites.

I’m worn out, but I’m okay.I’m resting well at night, but it doesn’t take much to wear me out. I ordered the vitamins that I’ll need, so I’m looking forward to having more energy soon. Until then I’ll just continue to take it day by day and look forward to next week, when what seems to be the hardest part, will be over. I hope I’m right about that.

 

 

I Want To Cry…and Eat Food…

I’m a week into the liquids phase. I’m down 13 pounds so far, but today wasn’t easy. I went into the office and chatted with my boss, who is also a dear friend, and I left after less than an hour. I just didn’t want to be there today, so I left.

A big part of my job requires talking to people, which is my favorite thing about it. I just had trouble finding my smile this morning. Thankfully, my amazing support system extends to work, and I was able leave without issue.

When I left I met Michael at the movies to see “Bridget Jones’s Baby,” then we watched “Snowden.” I don’t think I’ve ever watched two movies in the same day at a theater, but tickets are dirt cheap on Tuesdays. It was a great way to zone out and to take a break from thinking about the lack of food and my upcoming surgery. Surprisingly, I wasn’t bothered by the smell of popcorn, but as we were leaving the theater I was hungry even though I brought protein shakes with me.

When I came home Michael joined me here too, and we had a great evening. I’m so thankful for that man. He’s the kind of man I’ve always dreamed of spending my life with, and it’s even more amazing than I hoped it would be. He’s my strong arm, and he knows what I need before I say it.

Tonight I needed to curl up and relax, and he knew it. I’m much sleepier right now than I usually am, and I don’t know if there’s anything I can do about it. I’m just going to rest as much as possible and remind myself that I’m halfway through this first phase.

When Michael left I cried for a few minutes. I can’t explain exactly why, but the tears have come and gone a few times today. It probably doesn’t help that it’s almost that time in a girl’s life. (Ladies, you know what I mean.)

Right now I’m hungry, but I’m going to go to sleep feeling victorious once again. I’m just hoping that tomorrow will be better than today.

 

It’s Hard To Imagine Not Being Obese

I’ve spent so much time thinking about what it will be like to live in a smaller, healthier body, but I can’t really imagine it. I’ve been obese my entire adult life, which leads me to wonder what my face looks like under my excess weight.

Right now I wear a size 7 ring (closer to 6.75,) but I’m guessing that will change. I’m also pretty sure that I’ll lose at least one shoe size, more realistically two sizes. My clothing size will obviously change as well, which is expected. There’s just so much more than that to consider.

I remember what it was like to weigh 284 pounds, and I felt tiny. (Yes, I know that’s still totally obese, but I don’t remember what it was like to be smaller than that.) I felt so light on my feet, yet I cannot imagine what it will be like to be 100 pounds smaller than that.

I never liked to think about the big picture when it came to the numbers because that always used to discourage me. Now I’m just intrigued.

I’m curious to know what it will be like to shop somewhere other than Lane Bryant. (I’m glad they exist for people my size, but it’s going to be fun to have more options.) I also want to know what it feels like to cross my legs or buckle my seatbelt on an airplane.

I want to experience the feelings of relief that will inevitably replace the feelings of anxiety as I request a table at a restaurant, and I want to know what it feels like to have enough room to sit comfortably in a booth.

I want to know what it feels like to run, to wear a pair of high heels and to feel my boyfriend’s arms wrapped around me even more than they already are while his chin sits on my head.

I want to know what it’s like to buy a one piece swim suit, which is something I can’t do now because of all of the excess weight in my abdomen. I also want to know what it feels like to wear a shirt with my favorite sports team’s logo or to order a jacket with my work logo on it.

I want to know what it’s like to sit down in a movie theater without having to raise the arm rest, and I want to know what it’s like to sit outside to drink coffee without having to question what the chairs are made of.

I want to wear jeans.

I have so many questions that only time can answer, so I’m going to muster up as much patience as I can while I strive to have them all answered.

This is my new reality, and I can’t wait to discover what’s ahead.

 

I Can Do This

I’m several days into my liquids phase, and while it’s not fun it’s not miserable. I avoid situations that might feel like torture (like watching everyone eat pizza,) but I’m okay otherwise. I have a cozy, comfortable home, and it’s my favorite place to be right now.

Yesterday after church I skipped my weekly lunch with friends, and I went home. My plan to was to change clothes and head to the mall to do a little shopping, but I took a long, afternoon nap instead. It’s just easier to be here right now because food is everywhere, and I’m hyper-aware of my desire to eat something no matter where I am. It made me feel sad and lonely for a few minutes until I realized how excited I am about this opportunity.

I also feel empowered right now. As much as it sucks to skip a delicious meal among friends, it also feels good to think about how well I’m doing in sticking to the plan. The liver-shrinking diet isn’t sustainable long-term, nor should it be. It’s definitely giving me more confidence by the day though, which was unexpected.

The truth is I really didn’t know if I could do it. I have to give all credit to Jesus because He’s strong in my weakness, but it’s incredible to know that He provides enough strength everyday.

Mornings are good for me because I don’t want food, but evenings are tougher. Thankfully, I discovered my love for Ramen broth and strained French onion soup. Those things satisfy my craving for savory things, which makes this phase much easier to tolerate.

Now I’m enjoying a quiet night at home with Michael. I love it when he’s here, and it’s comforting to know that he has already experienced this. He’s traveling a lot for work now, so he can be here for my surgery.

Overall things are going much smoother than I could have imagined. I don’t know why I’m always so surprised when God provides exactly what I need. Thank you, Jesus.

I’m looking forward to chewing things again, but I’m going to make it through the next several weeks until it happens.

I know I can do it now, and that is a tremendous feeling.

 

 

 

 

“I Don’t Want Your Pity; I Want Pizza.”

I was at a party tonight, and I’m happy to say that I lived through the torture. Unfortunately, food has dictated my life for longer than I’d like to admit, and right now I’m making some strides to change that. For me, that means that I’m going to let it (err, the lack of it) dictate what I do for a little longer. I doubt I’ll be going to any more pizza parties for the next couple of months.

At the party someone needed me to know that she didn’t feel sorry for me. Luckily for her I didn’t want her pity, I wanted pizza. I didn’t eat it, but it was tough to sit and watch everyone else do it. I left before the cake tonight because it was just too much to take. (Please excuse me while I adjust to this big life change. I might need a few days.)

Overall I’ve done well on my liver-shrinking, liquid-only diet so far. I have a long road ahead of me, but I’m glad I’m finally doing it. I’ve made it through a couple of days, and it’s an empowering feeling. I’m still hungry, but I’m gaining confidence in myself (and losing weight.) I’ve also dropped 6 pounds. I’m looking forward to seeing a lower number next week and the week after, etc.

I do love sugar-free popsicles right now, which I didn’t expect. (Everyone else seemed to know though.) I’ve also tried some variations in my protein shakes, as well as mixes that I can pour into a bottle of water. I don’t plan to drink these long-term, but if they help me get through this phase I’ll do it.

It’s been a long and productive day, and I’m tired. I felt a little sleepier than normal today, but the only difficulty I’ve faced is moments of legitimate hunger and breaking up with foods I love that don’t love me back.

I can do that.

I am doing this.

 

 

 

 

My First 5k Saints Kick-Off Run

Yesterday I briefly mentioned how uncomfortable it is to weigh as much as I do right now, and I mentioned how much easier certain things would be if I were smaller. I’m really looking forward to proving myself right about that over the next 12 months. My journey to a healthy weight will be much longer than that, but my goal is to participate in the same race I did over the weekend again next year.

Saturday morning I woke up at 5:30 am, and I did a little cleaning, showered and prepared for the 5k that my boyfriend, his brother and I were doing later that morning.

When Michael arrived at my place we walked to the Superdome, and I kept a pretty good pace getting there. We had walked about a mile in total before the race began, and we started in wave 19. (There were people who had finished he 5k before we even started.)

When we crossed the starting line we walked down the same street we had just walked to get to the race, then we continued into the French Quarter. I live two blocks from the Quarter, and I love to walk through it early in the morning. It was beautiful, but it was already sweltering too.

french-quarter-5kAs I made it to the halfway mark I was sweating my guts out, but my heart rate was fine. I felt good, but I soon realized that I would be the last person to finish the race.

Michael refused to run ahead of me even though he could have completed the race a few times in the amount of time it took me to finish, and at that point I was glad he was there. I knew I was going to be last, but I also knew I had to finish.

I didn’t talk, and I didn’t stop to take in the scenery. I just walked. At that moment I had to face the reality that the weight I’m carrying was weighing me down. Most of the time I don’t notice. I mean, I’m always aware of my weight, but I don’t think about it often. I walk slower and make stops more frequently, and for years I’ve oscillated between trying to lose it and just dealing with it.

It was important for me to get the medal at the end of this race. It looked cool, but the closer I got to the Superdome the more I wanted to be on the 50-yard line. I wanted the medal at the end too because it would become a daily reminder that I can do hard things, and I figured as long as the police escort was behind me I’d make it to the finish line (and get the medal.)

The second half of the race was quiet, but as I approached the Superdome I got discouraged. My body felt fine, but I had blisters. I wanted to cry as I saw droves of people walking out wearing their medals, but I never once considered not finishing.

In the last mile I told myself that we could just take an Uber home even though it wasn’t far at all. I told Michael too, and he said we could do whatever I wanted to do. He also encouraged me, of course, which made my want to cry tears of joy too.

Seriously, God gave me exactly the kind of man I dreamed of being with, and He placed him in my life at precisely the right time. These are the things that got me through the last mile of my short, yet blister-inducing race.

As we walked around the Superdome the last few hundred yards felt nearly impossible, but people cheered me along as they walked out. I stopped a few times for a few seconds, and Michael lovingly reminded me that I could do it and that I wasn’t quitting.

superdomeWhen I finally entered the Superdome the air conditioner made me feel like I had just reached
heaven. At that point I said, “Go run the last 40 yards. I need to do this by myself,” and after some convincing he ran. The jerk wasn’t even sweating. Ha

I tried to make myself rally, but I didn’t run at all. I simply walked the last 40 yards, just as I had walked the rest of the race, and when I crossed the finish line Michael was waiting there to place my medal around my neck.

That was an amazing moment for me. I felt tired, my feet hurt from the blisters, but I felt proud too. As I saw myself on the Jumbotron I heard that announcers talking about me as I finished, and there were people cheering for me as I crossed. It was a good moment, but all I could think about was how thankful I was that Jesus gave me strength to finish and that Michael never left my side except when he ran ahead to get water for me. He even held it, so I could just drink it as I needed it.

saints-kick-off-2016After I downed the Gatorade that Michael got for me I realized that he and his brother weren’t wearing medals. Apparently, there were people going up and getting multiple medals when they  finished, so his brother got one for me because he knew how much it would mean to me to receive it. Michael is awesome, and his entire family is just as wonderful. They could have gotten in line and had medals mailed to them later, but it didn’t matter to them. They just wanted me to have mine, and I got it thanks to his big bro.

If I had known how challenging this race would be for me I would have made excuses to not do it, so I’m glad I didn’t know. Michael and I walk around the same path often, but we stop to look at pretty things and often walk through the Riverwalk Outlet Mall so I can cool off.

I wore my new sneakers too, which were largely responsible for the blisters. (Rookie mistake, I guess,) but I felt tired after the 4.75 miles of walking I did, including the race. I can definitely walk that far without feeling achy or needing to stop, which makes me feel good about my body. It was also much harder than it needed to be because of the extra weight I’m carrying.

img_3808It feels so good to know that I completed the race and that I’m loved by a man who understands exactly where I am. (He used to weigh 140 pounds more than he does now.) It also felt good to know that his brother grabbed the medal because he knew how much it would mean to me.

I wouldn’t have done this race if Michael hadn’t asked me to and signed us up for it before I had a chance to say no. I’m so glad he signed me up for it, and I’m already looking forward to doing the same race next year.

I’ve wanted to do it every year since I lived here, and now I can say I did it! The medal and my blisters are both reminders that I can accomplish things even when they’re not easy, and I need that reminder right now more than ever.

saints-kick-off-run-medal

 

 

 

 

My Surgery Date is Set

There’s so much to share on my blog this week, but right now my focus is on my surgery. The date is set, and it’s happening before the end of the month. On one hand I feel excited, anxious and ready to get this show on the road, and on the other it still doesn’t feel real.

I have the best support system a person could hope to have, and I feel more at peace in every area of my life than I ever dreamed possible. I’ve gained more knowledge on the subject – what it will be like before and after, etc., and I believe that I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.

As confident as I feel about the surgery I also feel unsure about a lot of things. What it will be like to live with a smaller stomach?  What level of pain I can expect to experience after surgery? How will I feel throughout the two-week liquid diet prior to surgery? Won’t that be harder than the liquid diet post-surgery? Will I still like my favorite protein shake by the time my food restrictions have been lifted?

The weekend was filled with fun and challenging things that I’ll write about later, but I also addressed the fears I have pertaining to the surgery itself. Michael and I were talking about what it will be like when I get home from the hospital.

I’ll be off work for a couple of weeks, which is okay with me. I love my job, but I also love the idea that I’ll be forced to take some time to relax. I’ll have an excuse to stay at home long enough to catch up on this season of Suits. (Thank you, DVR.) I’ll also watch new shows like Designated Survivor and This is Us.

I should be able to walk before I return home too, and thankfully, I live in a neighborhood that has all kinds of things to see and experience. I’ll also play more Pokemon Go since I already love that pointless game. I also have lots of yarn, painting supplies and books, which will provide hours of entertainment.

I’m as prepared as I can be, and I’ve spent the last few weeks wrapping my head around how differently I’ll treat food. I’m not a binge-eater, but I’ll have to readjust to eating at home more often when I get to the point where I can actually consume food again.

Right now I’m taking it one step at a time. I feel fine one moment and overwhelmed at other moments. When I get overwhelmed I remind myself that I don’t have to face it all today, and I refocus on what matters at that moment.

I firmly believe that God opened this door for me, and I think the timing is brilliant because my heart and mind needed to heal first. Now it’s time to heal my body.

I’m nervous about the discomfort I may feel after the surgery, but honestly, I’m not comfortable in my body at this size now. I mean, I’m used to it, but so many things would be easier if my body lived at a healthier weight. The little pain that I may or may not feel will be worth it.

 

Before Photos and Courage

I’ve always been a fan of photos, and I’m never one to shy away from the camera. I’ve gotten so good at using specific angles and filters that I don’t always see myself as heavy as I am.

I definitely know how big I am when I think about squeezing into a booth in a restaurant. ( I just can’t.) I’m also keenly aware of it when I’m a passenger in someone else’s car, or when I’m walking with people in the middle of Summer in New Orleans, sweating while they’re all just a little warm.

IMG_3535 2Sometimes I see myself as heavy as I am, but most of the time I’m not ready to face it. I didn’t gain back everything I lost, but I regained most of it. It doesn’t feel good, but I don’t beat myself up about it either.

I’ve learned to focus on the positive things, which is important. I just focused on loving myself so much for a while that I stopped focusing on other things that matter too. Now, I love who I am as a person, which took some serious effort and reflection, but I also want my body to be smaller.

IMG_3608 2I’ve been taking before pictures everywhere I go. I’ve posted some of them, though I don’t have the courage to post all of them. I’m proud of myself for continuing to live a full life, even as a plus-size person, but now that weight-loss feels imminent I’m facing the realization that my life hasn’t been as easy as it could be if I wasn’t so concerned with little obstacles that most people don’t have to face.

When I think of what life will be like after significant weight-loss I don’t picture a perfect existence, in which nothing bad ever happens. I don’t look forward to the attention I’ll receive from people who might ignore me now, nor do I even look forward to hearing how great I look in comparison. I already know that I’m loved and worthy. I’ve known it for a while now.

I’m looking forward to the feeling I get when I can run a mile or more without stopping. I’m looking forward to walking into a restaurant and not caring if we sit at a table or in a booth. I’m also looking forward to the day I can sit in the chairs at my church without leaving with bruises on my butt and without fidgeting through the sermon because it hurts to sit in the seats.

As you can imagine I’m really looking forward to the day in which I can buckle my seatbelt in coach (not that I want to start sitting exclusively in coach again, but I definitely can’t wait to know that I can!) In fact, I’ll happily fly in coach when I know I can do it in one seat.

IMG_3409

I know those days are coming, and I’m ready to experience them. The changes in the way I look at food and the way I eat it are scary, but I’m not expecting any surprises. I know what has to change, and I’m working on it. I’ve been working on it for a long, long time, and I’m finally getting some much needed help in that area.

I have the best support system I could ever hope to have, and I’m set up for success at work and at home. I believe I can do this, and I’m looking forward to the day that I can look back and say that I proved it to myself.

In the picture on the left I was laughing because I usually stand up straight. I roll my shoulders back just a little and walk with my head high, but I slouched for this “before” photo. I think I look hilarious and adorable in the photo, and I definitely don’t feel like I look as large as I am. I posted the photo because it didn’t make me feel bad about myself, there are many more on my iPhone’s camera roll that do. I’m ready to be healthy and fit. I’m ready to see some results, so the changes have started.

I’m ready for what’s coming, and I’m going to practice patience over the next several months as this new chapter unfolds.

 

 

Gastric Sleeve Update: Two Weeks Prior To Surgery

Last night I dreamed about having weight-loss surgery, more specifically, I dreamed about the recovery stage. I woke up immediately remembering that it’s going to be a reality soon, then I quickly wondered what level of pain or discomfort I’ll feel when I return home.

I woke up earlier than I needed to this morning, but I laid in bed for nearly an hour contemplating the future, as in, the rest of this month. I’ve already begun praying for God’s strength because it only seems doable by His grace, and when I got up I started making little plans to make it as palatable as possible.

I started by measuring out a week (or more) of the protein powder that I’ll be drinking prior to surgery. I’ll be drinking the same stuff after the clear liquids phase, post surgery, but right now I’m more concerned with everything leading up to the surgery date. (One step at a time, you know?)

Two weeks prior to surgery I will have to drink protein shakes and clear liquids. Two weeks seems intense, but I also know I can do it. I’ll just deal with the hunger and/or frustration if it occurs. I’m not going to assume anything right now because I just don’t know.

The goal at the liquids stage will be to drink 3-4 protein shakes per day, and clear liquids. (More on the latter in a moment.)

Teras Whey

Each container contains two scoops of my favorite protein powder, Tera’s Whey. This stuff is magnificent! I drink it everyday, and I’m not tired of it yet. I’m just going to assume that I can make it through two weeks of only these drinks and clear liquids without despising them by the end. The kicker here is that I’ll be drinking them with water instead of  unsweetened almond milk. They taste okay with water, but the almost milk makes them almost decadent.

I’m also allowed to have clear liquids. The list, which is short, includes:

  • Thin broths or bouillon and bases (no veggies or meat chunks)
  • Sugar-free Jello
  • Sugar-free “diet” juice, fitness waters, Crystal Light, Powerade Zero (They were very adamant that I should stay away from Gatorade.)
  • Sugar-free popsicles (When I saw these at the grocery store last week they looked much more appealing than I thought they would.)
  • Decaffeinated coffee, tea, herbal or flavored sugar-free tea, hot or cold (One cup of regular coffee per day is allowed after Week 5, post-op.)
  • Artificial sweeteners (Splenda, Stevia or Equal)

Almost everything on the list above seems like a chemical storm to me, but I’m following their rules throughout this process. I can definitely appreciate the herbal tea, and I think I’ll allow myself to eat the Jello and popsicles, etc.

The day before surgery I’ll have only clear liquids. I’m thinking that I’ll lose a significant amount of weight prior to surgery just from doing this two-week thing.

As intimidating as this feels in certain moments I’m ready to get started. It’s not quite time yet, and in some ways, I think it’s harder to wait than to just do it.

I’ve decided to give myself a reward when I complete the liquids phase before and after surgery.   I’ve never been a fan of rewarding myself with food (thankfully, since I won’t be able to.) I do enjoy rewarding myself though, so I’m going to buy this laptop backpack by The North Face when I reach my first goal. It will be useful everyday, but I’m looking forward to using it on our trip to Colorado for Christmas.My boyfriend and I are also talking about heading to Costa Rica to in January.

I’m guessing the two weeks prior will be the hardest part, but what do I know? I do know that many people were able to do this, and I believe I will too.

Now I’m going to do my best to stop thinking about the days ahead, and I’m going to enjoy this stormy Monday with friends.