Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"You look like everyone else."

Sorry for the two-week gap in updates, but I've been insanely busy getting ready for - and participating in - the Buffalo Infringement Festival.  This is historically the busiest time of the year for me, so things like blogging...and housekeeping...and other responsibilities tend to fall by the wayside. For those who aren't privy, the BIF is an 11-day art, music, theatre, dance, literary, and what-have-you festival that is quite possibly one of the most balls-out things you'll ever experience.  The irony is that as outrageous and in-your-face as it can be, it flies "under the radar," so to speak - there are no corporate sponsors, no censors, no limits.  Here are some links for more information if you're interested in finding out more:

So then.  Now that Infringement is about halfway through, I've amassed quite a collection of photos.  As I was looking through them, I thought about last year's photos and decided to put them up against each other for comparison.

For example, here's a shot of me doing my "Prattletales" show last year and again this year in the same venue:

That's not the only example, but it's the best one I could find at the moment where I'm not wearing zombie makeup or a space costume involving otherworldly boobs.  But looking at my photos and remembering last year, how miserable I was and now realizing how much different I look and feel since last year, it gives me another boost of assurance that I really did make the right decision and am on the right track.

Twice in the last few days someone has hugged me and made a remark about how much less of me there is to hug.  My friend Carla, who recently had eye surgery and cannot see very well at the moment, told me I was freaking her out a little because my silhouette is so much different.  "You look...well, you look like everyone else," she said.  She told me I move with more grace, more confidence.  And while I hadn't noticed it until then, hearing it come from her made me realize that she was right.  I'm still overweight and have a long way to go before I'm at my goal, but being 70 pounds down - and the healthier dietary choices and exercise regimen that have gotten me here - has made a huge difference in the way I move, the way I feel about myself, and the way I present myself to the world.

I'm no longer the biggest person in the room most of the time.  I don't waddle anymore. I'm no longer out of breath and sweaty and exhausted after walking a half a block from my car.  A few days ago I went to see a play at the Manny Fried Playhouse, which is on the third floor of a converted factory.  Beautiful space, but I used to dread going there because the three flights of stairs nearly killed me. The only elevator is the service elevator and you have to seek out someone to operate it for you, and I was always too embarrassed to say, "I'm too fat for the stairs; can you give me a lift?"  This time, I walked up the stairs and didn't break a sweat.  I didn't gasp for air.   My legs protested a little, only because I'd worked them at the gym that morning and they were like, "oh, come ON, didn't we already do this today?"  I told them to shut up.   I got to the top of the stairs and kept walking; I didn't have to stop to catch my breath or hit my inhaler.  I felt fine.  Holy shit.  I felt...FINE.

There are days when I curse the stomach acid that plagues me, wakes me up in my sleep, and sends me into coughing fits.  There are days when I bitch and moan about my hair falling out, or not being able to poop.  I have my moments and my emotions are all over the place, but I can say without a doubt that of all the feelings and emotions involved in this process, regret is not one of them.

And if I ever do start to feel like I might have regrets?  I'll just go find three flights of stairs to climb.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Peek Inside My "Toolbox"

I love tools.  I salivate at the mere mention of Harbor Freight, can spend hours wandering home improvement stores, and am pretty sure my Fein Multimaster would be one of the first things I'd rescue in a house fire.  I love tools because the right tools can get the job done faster and more efficiently, and can help produce optimal results with minimized stress.  And like any project, this one is no different; it requires the proper tools to help it get done, and the right tools make it easier. So I thought I would offer some of the tools that I've been using to keep me on track.  Obviously having had 85% of my stomach removed is a pretty reasonable incentive to behave, but that's only one tool.

I'm usually pretty motivated by financial incentives AND I can be a little competitive by nature.  Now, I'm not the type of competitive where I mow people down and feel an incessant need to be the very best at everything.  But contests where I compete ultimately against myself, particularly when my money (of which I don't have much most of the time) is involved and I stand a chance to make a little cash - that's more my speed.

So the first thing I did was join a Dietbet last month.  Dietbet is a contest where you pay in a determined amount of money (the one I joined was $25) to lose a certain amount of weight (4%) and at the end of the month if you've succeeded, you get a share of the pooled money with the rest of the winners (or losers, as it were).  In June there were over 1000 people who participated, bringing the pot to more than $25,000.  I ended up winning $43.60.  I rolled $25 back into the next month's bet and came away with $18.60 I didn't have before.  All for doing what I'm supposed to do.  Not bad!

Another incentive tool I use is an app called Gympact.  You pledge to work out a certain number of times per week and attach a monetary value to your workouts.  Gympact uses location services on your phone for check-ins to verify your workouts. At the end of the week if you have missed any workouts, Gympact takes the money from you and then distributes it to the folks who met their pledges.  I have pledged to work out three times a week with a $10 value on each workout.  I've been Gympacting for 2 weeks, and both weeks I met my pledge.  The first week I earned $1.65.  Last week I earned $1.35.  That's an extra $3.00 for just doing what I do.

Granted I'll never get rich doing DietBets and Gympact, but if I can stay on track and meet my fitness and nutrition goals AND earn a couple extra bucks in the process - I don't see the harm in that!!

Some of my other tools include 1/2 cup plastic containers, pre-fab protein drinks, an insulated lunch bag with a freezer pack,  Balance Bars, and Isopure Plus clear protein drink.  The plastic containers are great for portioning out just about anything from snacks to meals to protein powder.  I have a few Rubbermaid ones which are a really convenient and compact square shape, but Glad also makes some disposable ones which are great for taking to work and on the road.  I'm famous for forgetting to take my containers home with me, so if I leave one behind it's not the end of the world.  I will often make a dish and then portion it into these small containers and freeze them.

My freezer is full of these things!

I have a few different favorites when it comes to protein shakes.  Obviously when I'm at home or at work where I have access to a blender, I make my own.  But if I'm traveling or just out and about, a pre-fab shake can save the day.  I like Muscle Milk because it doesn't need initial refrigeration.  Not that I would drink it at room temperature, but it's an added bonus to not have to worry about keeping it in the fridge all the time.  You can also find it in the cooler at just about any convenience store on the road, so if you don't have a way to keep it cold you can just stop off at an A-Plus or 7-Eleven and pick one up for about $3.50.  But if you have one of my other tools - an insulated lunch bag - then you can buy it a little cheaper at the grocery store or mass merchandiser and tote it along with you.

I've also recently discovered Shamrock Farms' Rockin' Refuel, which does require refrigeration because it contains milk, but has more protein in it than Muscle Milk and is a little less expensive (my local supermarket sells it for $1.99).  It's also 12 ounces, which is easier to get through than the 14 ounces in Muscle Milk.  Yes, two ounces really do make a difference when that's half of what your stomach can hold!

The downside to this stuff is that it only comes in one flavor.  But maybe after it's been out awhile they'll branch out.  :-)

And finally, Balance Bars.  Really, any protein bar will apply here, and I do buy many different varieties, but I happen to really like Balance yogurt honey peanut flavor the best.  I also happened to stumble upon a stellar deal in a store that was discontinuing them, so I have a plentiful supply to plow through before they all expire in August.  Ha.
I'm guessing by the end of my third box I'll probably be really frickin' tired of these things. But they ARE delicious.

I can only eat half of one before I'm full, but I always have at least one whole bar with me at all times.  I keep the half-eaten one in a plastic bag to avoid contamination by purse flotsam.  In hot weather, it's best to keep these in your insulated bag, though, because I found out the hard way what a melted protein bar looks like.  It's not pretty.  And it's inedible.  The whole point of having bars with you is to be able to eat them!  I find it's really helpful to have one on hand just to take a bite of to take the edge off.  Sometimes I'm hungry but I don't have time or opportunity to sit down and do the whole meal ritual.  So I eat a bite or two of the bar, I feel better, and I have taken in a few more grams of protein.  And now that I'm supposed to take in at least 80 grams a day, I have to get it wherever and whenever I can.

I also like Oh Yeah! bars because they taste more like candy bars than meal replacements.  Met-Rx also makes a protein brownie that is pretty tasty, but contains way more sugar in the form of sugar alcohol than I'd prefer to consume.  But it's not bad for an occasional treat, especially if I'm running low on my protein quota for the day.  And it satisfies my sweet tooth.

And finally, Isopure Plus protein water.  I like the Alpine Punch flavor.  The Grape Frost is disgusting.  A friend once described it as "sandy, grape-flavored vomit," and she wasn't far off the mark.  Nasty.  But the punch isn't bad - especially if you throw it on ice and sip it throughout the day.  The awesome thing about this stuff is that it not only provides 15 grams of protein, but it also counts as eight ounces of fluid, so I'm killing two birds with this stone.  I'm hydrating AND taking in protein.  I just wish I could get it more easily.  It's available online, but the shipping charges are outrageous because it's liquid.  So I go out to Synergy every week or so and buy whatever they have in stock.  I may start asking them to order more!

So there you have it.  My favorite tools, the stuff that helps me stay on track and get closer to my goal every day.  I know a lot of people have asked me what I use to help me, and I'm always happy to answer questions. Even if you're not a WLS patient, any of this stuff can help you with your health and fitness program.

Now I wonder if I could get any of these companies to get me an endorsement deal.  Hmm...

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Three-Month Stats and Update

Happy 3-Month Surgiversary to meeeee!!!!  I can't even believe it's been three months since my surgery.  In some ways it feels like it was a million years ago, but other times I feel like it was just yesterday.  Hard to believe, too, that it's been almost a full year since I decided to have the surgery!

I had my 12-week checkup today and was told that I am right on track - if not slightly ahead - with my weight loss.  My labs after my last checkup came back with favorable numbers and I'm healthy (excess weight notwithstanding).  The doc was pleased with my progress, and I grinned like a fool the whole time.  At one point I ran into the eating behavior counselor, whom I'd not seen since before my surgery (I'm seeing a different practitioner for that part of my process),  and she was thrilled for me.  I felt so proud at that moment, like a little kid running home with a good report card.

In the past week, several people who haven't said anything up until now commented on my weight loss.  It's like it suddenly became apparent between last week and this week, like 60 pounds was the magic number or something.  My next door neighbor mentioned it, and then three of my regular customers, people who see me nearly every day, made comments about it.  That's encouraging!

So anyway,  my current stats at three months post-op:

Starting weight on 3/31/13 (start of pre-op diet): 259.8
Surgery Day weight on 4/10/13: 244.2
Current weight 7/10/13: 197.6
Total weight lost: 62.2 pounds
Goal weight: 145
Pounds to goal: 52.6

Again, I have no idea how to quantify my total inches lost, but I've lost a few more since last month,  though most of them seem to have come off my chest and hips this time.  

And remember  when I said in my 2-month update that I had some "official" photos from various angles?  Well...I've decided to release them.  It's a big step, because even though I know I should be proud of my progress, I'm embarrassed by the photos.  The beginning photos are the stuff of mortification, and because of what I'm wearing, the current pictures aren't exactly glamour shots, either.  But...this blog is all about the good, bad, ugly, and embarrassing, so...*deep breath*... here you go.

March 31                    May 19                   July 10


So there it is.  My fat lil' self in pajama bottoms and a tank top.  Not as pretty as the sweater picture, but this series is supposed to serve as a closer look at the actual bodily transformation in progress.  Much of what got me to 259.8 pounds in the first place was a lot of denial.  Denial that I was that big, denial that what I was eating was killing me, denial that I was miserable in my own skin, denial that I was out of control.  At least now when I look at these I'm not covered with flattering clothes; I can't hide and deny.  This is honest and true, and more revealing than I wanted to be but necessary to keep myself in check and on track.  I see progress made, but I also see how far I still have to go.  

Sally at Unbrave Girl has challenged her readers to start posting full-length photos of themselves and to stop being ashamed of their bodies.  I'd like to think this is a step in that direction.  I'm happy with my decision, hopeful for the future, and excited at the prospect that some day I won't have to apologize for the way I look in my loungewear. :-)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Well I'm a-Movin' on DOWN

Remember that Pandora bracelet I bought before my surgery?  Well.  It's got four charms on it now!

I feel so accomplished - and fancy!

The two large ones with the circles on them are called "Stepping Stones" and I thought they were fitting to mark weight milestones.  The red Stepping Stone represents 25 pounds and the purple Stepping Stone represents 50 pounds.  (I've got my eye on a blue one for 75 pounds). The orange "Zen" charm on the end I gave myself for reaching my halfway point.  The rat charm, a retired piece that I was able to find on eBay (and for which I paid way more than I ever thought I'd spend on one charm but simply HAD to have), is my reward for reaching...



Yes!! I am HERE!!!  Yippeeee!!!!  Current weight: 198.

I haven't been here in about two and a half years - and even then it was a fleeting visit, a layover between 196 and 199 that ended after a few weeks when shit starting hitting the fan.  Anyone who knew me during that time can totally tell you about it.  I'd rather not rehash it, thanks.  Anyway, this time I'm moving in to Onederland for good.  There's no going back now.

And I think that's what really keeps me going; I know that this time I cannot fail (well, technically I suppose I could - and some people do - but I'm not leaving it open as an option). There's no place for me to go BUT down.  I'm doing this.  I really, really am.  And my wrist - while still fat (seriously, I have the equivalent of cankles on my forearms) - is a little prettier for it.