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Walk to defeat ALS

This past Sunday I joined in a fundraising walk for the ALS association in honor of one of my lovely coworkers who recently has been diagnosed with ALS/PLS. We were joined by a good amount of people from work and a whole hoard of her family and friends. I’ve included the link below to the walk itself. Obviously you can no longer register to participate, but there is a venue to donate to research to find a cure for ALS if you wish to contribute.  Through the walk they were only able to raise about 70% of their goal.

http://web.alsa.org/site/TR/Walks/CentralandSouthernOhio?pg=entry&fr_id=13208#.W5xEfkHod0U.facebook

Below is an info sheet about ALS specifically, directly from the ALS association. It is a degenerative debilitating disease with no cure and a very unfortunate predictable outcome.  If you aren’t familiar with it and want a mental image, think Stephen Hawking. It affects the body but not the mind, eventually essentially trapping the individual in their own body. Luckily with today’s technology though they still have ways to communicate and have a life somewhat.

What Is ALS Infographic

Amber’s current diagnosis is PLS, or peripheral lateral sclerosis, which is a bit different than ALS. It has many of the same symptoms of ALS, which is why it’s difficult to diagnose one vs the other sometimes. It progresses slower, isn’t necessarily fatal, and doesn’t debilitate 100% as ALS does. Though it affects every individual differently both in severity and progression, it is still a degenerative debilitating disease. From what I understand her doctors are basically just watching her symptom progression. At any point they may switch the diagnosis over to ALS depending on what her body is doing. Of the two sucky diagnoses though PLS is the better of the two evils, so to speak, so keeping our fingers crossed that that switch never happens.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/primary-lateral-sclerosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20353968

Amber is one of the nicest and most cheerful people I’ve ever met, even in the face of this crappy situation. She’s also one of the best nurses I’ve ever had the privilege to work with. She’s super knowledgeable, absolutely loves what we do, and always willing to help anyone with anything at any moment.

I also have to give a shout out to her awesome fiancé. I don’t think that enough attention is paid to the individuals behind the person with the diagnosis sometimes. Over the summer they did an epic trans-continental road trip vacation, culminating in him proposing in front of the most perfect sunrise over a desert scene. It was gorgeous and very envy worthy. I know that everyone here at work cyber stalked their entire trip, living vicariously through them the entire time. Just from observing from the outside, he’s always there for her in everyway possible, and has been since way before the struggle of getting a diagnosis even began. That’s rare in this day and age and not a thing to take lightly.

The ALS association uses the funds from the walk to help fund research,  but also to help those diagnosed to advocate for themselves and to help provide compassionate competent care, basically to live their best lives for as long as they possibly can. If you feel so inclined please go to the link at the top of this post and donate. Even a little bit goes a long way. If you are unable to donate at this time, please take the information that you learned from this post and pass it along. Maybe that next individual would like to try to make a difference as well. Thank you 🙂

 

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Mini Tough Mudder!

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Last weekend, on Labor Day, I completed my first tough mudder. Though this was considered a “mini” tough mudder, not nearly as intense as the officially sanctioned ones. It was a shorter distance at just over 5K, and even though it had more obstacles, they were less difficult for the most part.

I also managed to rope two others into my craziness, one of my oldest friends, Faye, and my brother’s lovely fiancé, April. They were both less than pleased with the adventure I believe. Having never even run a standard 5K before, this was a tough one to start on, no pun intended.

The event itself was Morgan’s Mud Gauntlet. It’s an annual thing at Morgan’s Canoe and Campground in Brookesville, Indiana. If you’re interested in seeing a video of the course I’ve included a link below to the actual site.

https://www.morganscanoe.com/mud-gauntlet/

Included in the 5K-ish course were 40 obstacles, 6 mudpits, and the largest hill to climb up and down in all of creation. Most of the obstacles included various combinations of hay bales, canoes, tires, ropes, etc. There was a fun slide into a deeper watery mud pit. I attempted 38 of these obstacles, successfully did 37 of them, and did all the mud pits. screenshot_20180903-2208343232470142886541569.pngI skipped #35 and #20, though #20 was accidental. We turned the wrong way when getting out of the river and skipped the whole loop on that side, going directly from obstacle 19 to 21. #35 was the reverse of #34, which were both giant climbing walls. I manage to get up and over the first one with only moderately freaking out, but couldn’t bring up the courage, and the confidence in my arm strength, to attempt the second. I’m not sure how many obstacles Faye and April completed. I wasn’t honestly keeping track. I was just super grateful and excited they were there with me, even if it was just to cheer me on as I climbed over/under stuff.

Faye opted out of the gigantic hill at obstacle #11, meeting back up with us at #14. April opted out at #22, meeting back up with us afterward. Faye and I walked/crawled across the finish line at 2 hrs and 17 minutes.

If you’ll notice in the pictures below, my gym shoes died a horrible death. I ended up throwing them away once I got home. About halfway up the monstrous hill the soul of my right shoe decided to come away, so every step I took after that was followed by a lovely flopping noise/feeling. If I had duct-taped my shoes on like all the sites suggested this may not have happened, but I probably still would have thrown them away anyway. They had gained probably at least a pound each with just the sheer amount of water and mud. These were my yardwork shoes though, and were at least 8 years old, so they’ve lived a good long life.

As part of the registration fee we received a long sleeve, black commemorative shirt (very useful in 90 degree heat), a finisher’s medal, a “free” meal of pulled pork/beer, and “free” camping the night before onsite. The pork was super yummy. Out of the more than 400 participants not that many took advantage of the camping option. We, of course, did. We came the day before, set up camp, and then went exploring!

Another benefit of being a participant is that we could have gotten half off canoeing if we had wanted to. We opted not to, not wanting to mostly kill ourselves before completely killing ourselves the next day. Instead we wondered to the nearby town of Metamora. April and I went horseback riding, then we meandered around the kitschy little town for a bit, and ate dinner at a little English themed pub/tavern. Afterward we went back to camp for campfire and alcohol induced fun.

This was the first time since losing the weight that I’ve been horseback riding. I’m pretty sure I’ve commented on the lack of cushioning on my posterior now. 5 days later and that’s the only part that is still hurting some. My “undercarriage” didn’t appreciate the hour in the hard saddle. No matter which way I shifted I just couldn’t get comfortable. I did come ahead of April though. Her horse ran her straight through a large tree branch causing a long scrape up her upper arm.

We were at campsite #14, which was right next to the river. If you look at the race map we could see obstacle #23 from our tent.  Though it was cool to be able to walk down to the water, I will say that navigating a sand-filled campsite isn’t the funnest thing in the world.

5 days later I’m just now not feeling sore. Even with that I would not hesitate to do this again next year. It was a blast! I got such a sense of accomplishment from completing the obstacles. At my fluffiest I probably wouldn’t have even attempted them, psyching myself out. I never would have even seen if I could do them, thinking I was to fat to even try. Now the only issue I ran into was my height. Being on the shorter side made some of the obstacles harder, and made the monkey bars literally impossible. I couldn’t reach the damn second bar!

I’m probably going to have to find other accomplices next time though. I don’t think Faye and April will be willing to join in again. I can’t imagine how sore they probably were. I have a year and a half of working out 3 days a week under my belt and was still walking like a little old lady needing her walker.

It was such a fun weekend though. I had such a blast! Thanks again to Faye and April for joining me!

Bon Voyage mon Amie!

25 years ago I met Jessica Lucille Becker and my life was forever changed. We met first in the first grade but didn’t become friends till several years later, bonding over kicking ice chunks across the playground at recess. We made fast friends after that and were inseparable. In the summers I’d spend a week at a time at her house. We pushed boundaries together, biked in neighborhoods we knew we weren’t allowed in, hiked farther into the woods than permitted, and covered for each other when injured on our illegal escapades. We told each other anything and everything, trusting each other to be truthful and frank, and still do to this day.

She’s my twin, though not born of the same family. To this day we’ll discover we’ve done or bought something identical without talking to the other for several weeks. Most recently we adopted nearly identical kittens 2 weeks apart.

She’s the person you can always depend on, the one that will go on any roller coaster, any challenge/dare, any haunted house. She’s much more than just a friend. She’s aunt to my daughters and sister to me. She’s family.

In junior high her mother moved her to the middle of Nowhere, Indiana and started our adventure in long-distance friendship. She eventually moved back to Ohio, not to Cincinnati but to Dayton, not too far away but still not right next door. It’s because of this experience that I know that being an ocean apart isn’t going to affect our friendship. We’re used to being apart for a time and then coming back together like we were never separated to begin with.

Yesterday, Thursday August 30th, Jessie moved to Paris, France for a year to pursue another master’s degree. She and her two cats (and a friend and her daughter who went with to help) arrived at 1am this morning.  She is making her best life and running after her goals at full speed, not letting anything hold her back from molding her life to how she wants it to be. I’m extremely proud of her, though I don’t say it often enough.

From the start of my weight loss journey, fashionista that she is, she promised a new wardrobe to me when I hit my goal weight as a gift/reward. Instead though that promise is being cashed in as a round-trip ticket to visit her in Paris for a week in December for my birthday/the holidays. I’m not the least bit upset about the switch. Not only do I get to see Paris but I get to see it with my best friend. I’m just a tad excited.

Of course we’re planning a jam-packed week, trying to fit in as much as we possibly can. The planning started months ago with a pinterest board and excel spreadsheet, nearly planning us out to the minute. During my entire journey this past year and a half, Jessie has never wavered with her support of my healthier lifestyle. She even ran my first 5K with me last year, so of course she agreed to do something even crazier with me. It was her idea actually. We’re going to climb the stairs to the Eiffel Tower, as high as we’re allowed to go.

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From all my research I’ve found that we’re only allowed to go up the stairs to the second level of the observation deck. Then if we want to go to the very top we have to take the elevator from there. The spiral staircase that connected the second level and summit were actually removed and sold in sections to the highest bidder awhile ago. They were in disrepair and would cost too much to fix so they just removed them.

In preparation for this feat I’ve added in the dreaded stairmaster to my workout routine. It is the least favorite part of my workout at the moment. The individual stairs on the machine are very steep, not made for shorties such as myself I suspect.

My current goal is to just make it to 10 minutes. No distance goal, just a time goal. However many steps I can get in that timeframe is just icing on the cake of finishing the 10 minutes. Afterward my legs are definitely like jello, so it’s always the last thing on the docket. I’m averaging about 400 steps so far, which is more than half of the eventual goal of the Eiffel Tower. This makes me a little less apprehensive that the Tower is going to thoroughly kill us. We’re planning on making it the last thing of the day though when we do visit it just in case.

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Local to us is Kings Island Amusement park, our playground growing up. It boasts a replica of the Eiffel Tower at 1/3 the size of the real thing. It’s going to be interesting to be able to compare the two.

She’s eventually going to start a blog about her adventures as an expat grad student in Paris. When she gives me the website address I’ll post it for those that are interested in following along. I know I’ll be cyber stalking and living vicariously for sure.

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And with that I bid Bon Voyage mon Amie! For now anyway…

I guess instead of “Next year in Israel!’ it’s “This December in Paris!”.

It’s a mind-fuck: Body image after WLS.

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You know how Facebook will occasionally show you memories of this day from years past? I’m always a little shocked when I see old photos of myself now. I almost don’t recognize myself sometimes. (above picture 2015 vs 2018. I wasn’t even at my heaviest there)

When I was big I never felt that big, not really. I knew I was in reality, but I just didn’t feel that way. I don’t know if you can chalk it up to denial or that I just didn’t have any health issues yet aside from the general lack of fitness, but the fact remains that I never felt as big as I look/looked in photos.

Fast forward to now and I have fallen into a funk. I have long stretches of time where I actively feel fat. I know I’ve lost 100 lbs and am significantly smaller than I once was. I’m stronger, fitter, and more athletic than I’ve ever been. I’m enjoying what my body can do now. I’m told by multiple people/coworkers/family/friends time and time again how good I look, how thin I look, how proud they are of me, etc. But it’s still there in the back of my brain. It’s a mind-fuck. It might be related to the loose skin, or that I thought that my rolls would disappear vs just shrink and stay roll-like. I don’t know. I fantasize about plastic surgery while playing with my rolls of loose skin in the mirror, shaping them to how I think I’d like to look.

Body image issues are very common in the weight loss surgery community. Distorted body image involves a preoccupation with overall body mass. Body dysmorphic disorder involves obsession focusing on a specific part or feature of ones body. Both are common. In the WLS community distorted body image happens more often than BDD however. It can stem from being “invisible” before and then suddenly thrust into the limelight, so to speak, after the weight loss. Feelings of not being happy with our bodies before just continue and just evolve after.

Weight loss is not a magic pill that fixes everything. It definitely helps the overall physical health, but mental health is important too. The mindset that “everything was easier when I was fat” is a common thread and is a precursor for self-sabotage. Recognizing that one is experiencing these kinds of thoughts and feelings is an important first step. I will admit here that I’ve found myself letting old bad eating habits sneak back in. I don’t want to gain weight. I don’t feel that “everything was easier when I was fat”, but I’m still self-sabotaging, either consciously or unconsciously, and it needs to stop.

There can be a disconnect between the brain and body when it comes to self-perception. Seeing and believing aren’t always automatic. It takes time. Here are some recommendations I found from an expert on the psychological adjustments associated with weight loss surgery:

  • It is important for anyone struggling with body image issues to seek help as soon as they can. Whether it’s BDD, body image distortion, or body image adjustment, getting help will allow the sufferer to not feel alone in their struggle.
  • See a professional to assess where you are on the body image spectrum. Don’t self-diagnose.
  • Seeking professional help to minimize self-sabotage behavior is a must. A clinician with experience in bariatrics and cognitive-behavioral therapy can be a tremendous ally.
  • Be aware of conditional value; “As long as I look a certain way, I am worthy of other people’s love and acceptance.”
  • In therapy, work on learning to accept compliments and handling comments from others.
  • Anyone who has a history of weight-related mistreatment and abuse are more likely to have body image concerns.
  • Monitor your own tendency to obsess or be preoccupied with anything related to your body image. You need to be kind to your body.
  • Monitor any self-critical behavior. The best anti-bully campaign you can be a part of is giving yourself positive words that are like nutrition for your soul.
  • Attaining and maintaining self-acceptance at all stages of the weight loss journey is key. Without self-acceptance, sabotage will result.
  • If you don’t reinforce you’re worth it, you’re not going to sustain it (your health).

I’m slowly working on my brain, now that my body is pretty much at status quo. It needs to play catch-up. I’m not beating myself up too badly but at the same time I think I need to be snapped back to reality a bit. A bit of tough love maybe? I don’t know. But then I get defensive and shut down typically. Just ask the husband. Oh well. Work in progess…

“Knowing there’s a trap is the first step in evading it” -Frank Herbert

Let’s play catch-up!

So the other day I realized that it’s been almost 2 months since I posted. I thought I should remedy this and do a catch-up post. Life has been a bit crazy as of late.

The girls graduated Kindergarten in May. There was a ceremony, group singing, tiny processional with Pomp and Circumstance playing in the background. It was adorable. As part of the ceremony each kid got up and said what they wanted to be when they grow up. Apparently I have a future teacher and gymnastics instructor on my hands. Also Zoe has turned into a tiny Goth. Black is now her favorite color and she’ll wear it at any opportunity. The skeleton dress featured above is her current go-to. I’m not upset by this in the least as a reformed wanna-be Goth. Phoebe is still, however, all about the pink.

One of my friends and I will be celebrating 25 years of friendship this fall. She’ll be in Paris (oo-la-la!) doing a master’s program for the next year so we decided to commemorate this not so milestone early and get tattoos! She was also the one I got my very first tattoo with 6 years ago. This was her second and third, my fifth. They’re addicting. I’ve warned you. I’m already planning my next one.

We got nearly matching tattoos of books with the neverland stars (because we never want to grow up!) in a bit of galaxy dust. We’re both huge book nerds. She also got a white tattoo on her wrist of the Leo constellation and the words “I am”. I love how they turned out. As a side note, Jessie is the only person I’ve ever heard of that fell asleep during a tattoo! Quiet snoring and all. I shouldn’t really be surprised though. Her sleep/work schedule is the stuff of nightmares (if one could find time to actually sleep).

Dad joined me and the girls for the Fourth of July. We went to Stricker’s Grove. It’s a locally owned tiny amusement park of sorts. You drive out to the middle of nowhere: farm, farm, farm, and then suddenly tiny roller coasters! They have festival style rides, food stuffs, a mini arcade, and then fireworks later on. It’s a great time.

This year the girls were big enough to get on a good amount of the rides by themselves, but not all of them. We were both very pleasantly surprised how well we fit into the tiny rides with them. Sometimes we forget that we’re no longer in our “fluffy” bodies, constantly worried we’re not going to fit in something or will get stuck if we try. Though I will admit that it was very comical watching Dad get in and out of that Dumbo ride with Zoe. If you’re local to Cincinnati I highly recommend going to Stricker’s Grove for the Fourth, or any time really. Their fireworks display is one of the best I’ve seen, and you’re less than a football field length away from where they set them off so you’re up close and personal. It’s awesome.

Over the course of the 2 months I’ve apparently been MIA Dad has sold his condo, bought and moved into a townhouse less than 10 minutes from us, and has had my childhood home on the market for nearly a month now. He retired and started a new part-time job somewhere else, starting up an entirely new wholesale parts program. And as if that isn’t enough he’s now picking the girls up from summer camp Friday afternoons and keeping them till we get off work. He’ll continue this once school starts up again.

My hair is ever evolving, as you probably can tell by now. I think my hair is a different color/shade in nearly every picture above. I’ve dyed it at least twice in the last 2 months, I think. Directly above is my latest. Dark pink and purple roots, with lighter pink on the rest. I love fun hair. It makes me happy. Life is too short not to have fun hair. And if you don’t like whatever you do, you can always bleach and start again. After all, it’s only hair!

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I’ve noticed as of late that I’m letting myself get too dehydrated. For those of us in the post-op weight loss surgery world that is a very easy thing to do unfortunately. We can only drink so much at a time, and we’re not allowed to drink 30 minutes before or after a meal. Plus to get the correct protein intake you really have to eat 5-6 times a day. This doesn’t leave much time leftover for drinking of the water.

I’ve talked before about my migraines. One of my triggers is being dehydrated. I’ve always been chronically dehydrated, but as of late it’s gotten worse and hence my migraines have gotten worse in frequency and strength. Being chronically dehydrated kinda goes hand in hand with working in the OR too. You can’t really have a drink readily available during a surgery. Plus the whole not being able to pee at a moment’s notice thing really discourages drinking a whole lot during the day. So, I’ve made it my current personal goal to be better about reaching my fluid goals. I bought this huge-ass water bottle to that end. According to the label it holds 80 ounces. Eventually I might actually measure it. I feel like it probably holds more. My goal is to drink one of these a day. I’ve been doing it for 4 days and have yet to get there, but I’m doing a lot better than I was at least.

I’ve officially signed up for the Morgan’s Mud Gauntlet for Labor Day. It’s a mini tough mudder. 5K through wooded trails and creeks, with 35 obstacles and mud pits and such. Plus camping the night before! I’m just a tad excited. It’s going to be so much fun! My future sister-in-law is going to sign up to do it with me. I’ve also compiled a list of races for the next year for Dad and I to do. We have yet to whittle it down and decide which ones we’re actually going to do though.

So that’s the last 2 months in a very abbreviated nutshell. I’ll try not to let it go so long next time.

Springdale 5K Color Run!

This is weekend my girls and I ran/walked a 5K to benefit their elementary school. I didn’t have very high hopes in regards to how well they’d do or how far they’d go. Phoebe surprised me. She kept Pace with me for the majority of the time and said afterwards that she had fun! Zoe lived up to my expectations however. She only did 2 laps out of 5 with a break in-between them. She mostly sat with my husband and complained, pretty par for the course.

Even with two 6 year olds our finish time was still 57 minutes, so still better than the average of the 5Ks I’ve walked with Dad.

The color run aspect was fun. Volunteers chucked colored powder and water at us as we ran by. It eventually soaked through everything, staining our skin and skivvies underneath. I had to literally get in the shower with the girls and scrub them down with vigor to get it all off. About 10 minutes after the race ended the sky unzipped and a monsoon ensued. Of course I let the girls play in the rain when we got home since we were already all a mess. I wonder if we hadn’t gotten wet after if the color would have stained our skin so bad.

And now for the picture overload 🙂

Flying Pig 5K!

This past weekend in Cincinnati was the annual Flying Pig Marathon. It takes over the downtown and surrounding areas for the whole weekend. There’s a 5K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon, kids run, pigability run (for those with disabilities), and flying fur run. There’s concerts, food, family fun fair, health expo, and more. It’s a whole thing. This time around though Dad and I just did the 5K.

When you sign up you have to specify if you’re a walker or runner and also what your estimated finish time is. They use this info to assign you to a corral at the start line with others of similar athletic prowess. They also did a stagger start at the start line. Each corral had 2 minutes until the next one was released. We were in corral G, second to last. The goal was to reach a 16 minute mile pace. They don’t time you out, but if you’re slower than that then they kind of shoo you over to the sidewalk as the reopen the roads behind you in the downtown stretch of the course.

Apparently before the race Dad and I inadvertently switched our assigned bibs, so the gender/age stats aren’t accurate on our official results, but the end times are at least. This was the first 5K that I’ve actually attempted to run. I finished in 44 minutes. Dad finished in 1 hr 2 minutes. The finisher’s medals are super cute! They have some heft to them too. They’re a lot heavier than I would have thought.

During the course of the race they had a couple of spots where they were handing out free food/ water. The free food consisted of pretzel rods and candy orange slices. Weird choices I thought. Two things that would make you super thirsty with no chance of water in sight.

The entire experience was super fun! I think we’ll make it an annual tradition of ours. I’m thinking next year I’ll also volunteer to part of the medical tent for the other races. Maybe even next year I’ll work my way up to the 10K. We’ll see…

Friday and Saturday they had an expo at the convention center where they had a crap ton of venders related to the pig, running, and fitness in general. As you can see from the above pics I bought some pig swag. I’ve gotten into the habit of theming myself for our races. I do themed leggings for the gym for holidays as well. It’s become a bit of an addiction. There are worse things though to be addicted to I think. I also bought Dad and myself hanging placards for our medals since they’re starting to accumulate a little bit.

So what does the future currently hold? My 6 year old twins and I are running a Color Run 5K to benefit their school on May 19th. Then I have nothing planned until Labor Day where I’m doing the Mud Gauntlet 5K. I think I need to find something for during the summer. There’s a big gap in there 🙂 Any suggestions for a good one around July 4th maybe?

 

 

 

One year Surgiversary!

2 weeks ago Dad and I celebrated our one year surgiversary, or rather surgery anniversary.

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At Dad’s appointment the doc told him how proud he was of him, of us. That he was very pleased with his results and wants him to continue what he’s been doing basically. He’s happy with where he’s landed weight wise, though I know Dad would like to lose another 5+ lbs to break even at 200 lbs. A year later Dad is completely off his diabetes meds and now is strictly diet controlled, his renal doc has upgraded his kidney failure since his labs continue to improve, and his primary has talked about reducing or removing some of his blood pressure meds.

6 or 7 years ago an ortho doc told Dad that he’d need a total knee in 5 years. Well, he’s decided that’s his next step after the rest of the changes in his life stabilize a little bit. He’s currently retiring from one job, starting a part time job somewhere else, selling his condo, selling my childhood home that he’s been renting out, and buying a home out by us. I’m exhausted just typing all that!

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Numbers wise, a year out Dad has lost 75 lbs and 43 inches total (extremity measurements are right side only).

At my appointment the doc told me he was proud of us again. That he was very happy we had each other to support each other, which I agree with. I don’t think either of us would have done half as good or stay nearly as motivated if not for having the other right there alongside.  The doc did say even though he was happy with where I landed weight wise, that I’m “normal”, he’d like me to lose another 5-10 lbs so that I have a fluctuation cushion. I’m fine with that. It gives me a goal so I don’t rest on my laurels, so to speak.

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At one year post-op I am down 56.9 inches overall and 97 lbs lost. Damn the stupid natural fluctuation that happens during that certain monthly time, robbed me of my official 100lbs at my appointment.

This journey is never ending and ever ongoing. It changed both our lives for the better. We both agree whole heartedly that we don’t regret it for a second and wish we had done it years ago. We’re more active than we’ve ever been, have more energy, wanting to do more and actually able to do more. If you’re thinking about weight loss surgery we both endorse it 100%. True, there are some potential complications,  but in our eyes the benefits outweigh them by far. You’re gaining years of life and improved quality of life!

So as not to make this post a novel I’ll do a separate post about our recent 5K adventure. Read on!

Inspiring Inspiration…

The end of this month is the one year anniversary, or surgiversary, of Dad’s and my surgery. To commemorate this event I thought I’d talk about my inspirations to start this process towards my healthier self.

I had been fluffy my entire adult life, since puberty truthfully. It was my normal. I didn’t know what it felt like to be any other way. Over the years I had experimented with different diets and exercise plans and would lose weight, get a taste of what could be, and then would eventually give up the plan and gain it all back plus. I knew something had to change when I hit my all time high weight of 268, but at that point it just felt too daunting and was just easier to eat my emotions with another plate of cheese fries. I had no idea where to start for an effective long term solution.

My experience with weight loss surgery up until this point was secondhand via my aunt and cousin. Both had had a version of surgical intervention many years ago. My aunt actually was one of the first few when they were first starting to perform them many decades ago. To give you a hint of the timeframe, they don’t even perform either hers or my cousin’s surgery anymore.

My aunt had lost all of her excess weight and then some. She’s 5 ft, was 260lbs and is now about 140. She’s had a lot of complications over the years, though I think she would still say it’s worth it. With her particular surgery they rerouted a very large portion of her colon, as well as removed part of her stomach. It was kind of an uber version of the roux-en-y. Because of the very large portion of her colon effectively being removed she’s had major digestive issues since, as well as malabsorption and vitamin deficiencies.

My cousin had an early version of what’s called, in layperson’s terms, stomach stapling. They didn’t remove anything but lessened the size of accessible stomach, forcing portion control. She lost a lot of weight at first, but then eventually learned to eat around it and fell back into bad eating habits and now weighs more than she did before the surgery.

These were my two readily available examples of possible results from weight loss surgery. Neither result desirable really. Then my brother started dating his fiancé.

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Her name is April and she’s absolutely awesome. I learned that she had had a roux-en-y done about 5 years ago. Just seeing how happy and beautiful she was, how successful she was, I was inspired to start researching. It was never a viable option to me. But looking at how someone could have the surgery and still live a normal life without having to be obsessed with their diet or exercise to maintain a “normal” weight gave me hope.

I never thought I’d become a happy healthy gym rat, though I will admit I do enjoy aspects of it now. Seeing someone who didn’t have to completely change their entire life around to accommodate their long term goal of being healthier version of themselves was nice. Don’t misunderstand, she does still watch what she eats to a degree, but she doesn’t obsess. She’s not one to lay guilt on herself or others for eating what she wants every now and again. I’ve always enjoyed food and eating. I didn’t get fat by not enjoying it, that’s for sure. Being able to enjoy food, enjoy life, while at the same time working towards being a healthier version of me. That outlook was what got me started. That’s what got the thought percolating my head.

Combining the percolating thoughts of possible successful outcome with the very real possible outcomes if I did nothing was strong motivation. I didn’t have to look far to see what my potential future would bring if I did nothing and kept gaining. Diabetes, stroke, heart disease, disabling obesity. I didn’t want to put that burden on my kids. I also wanted to be able to enjoy not only their lives but my own. And thus my decision was made and I started the process towards weight loss surgery and the healthier me that I am today.

Since making that decision I’ve inspired my Dad to join me on the journey, as you all well know. We also inspired my cousin to revisit her journey. She’s just finished up the preop process fairly recently, losing a good amount of weight in the process, and is waiting for final approval for revision surgery.

I’ve recently asked April to do a guest blog post about her journey for your reading pleasure.  🙂

 

I’m Normal?!? (and the Mini Heart 5K walk)

screenshot_20180320-0932491289093212.pngRecently I had my yearly health screening for my work insurance. They take some blood, your weight, waist circumference, and then give you a basic lecture on being healthier. If you fall out of any of the norms for the categories you have to jump through hoops to “earn” the points back to receive your HSA money. This is the first year ever that not only have I been in the norms for all the categories they award points for but that my waist circumference was within normal range! The lady who was giving me the mini lecture was going on about how they would like my weight to be closer to the normal range for my height, not realizing/ knowing my history. Meanwhile I’m internally jumping for joy!

Above I’ve included a chart of my health screenings from years past and a few extra values from blood draws for the weight loss management office, just to show the trends.

So looking at the numbers my blood pressure has improved, not that it was bad before, as well as my cholesterol, HDL, and LDL. Pretty much everything! The couple that haven’t improved have been consistent, neither going up or down for the most part.

So why do we care about the size of our waists and such? The website that explains the reasoning behind the categories lists them as follows: “Waist circumference helps assess your risk for chronic diseases that are associated with overweight and obesity. An excess of body fat, especially abdominal fat, increases your risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.Glucose, or blood sugar, is the body’s primary source of energy. When there’s too much sugar in your diet, or your body isn’t efficient at using it for fuel, blood glucose levels can rise. This can eventually lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood used by the body for energy. While you need some triglycerides, too much can raise your risk of heart disease.HDL Cholesterol is considered “good” cholesterol because it helps to remove “bad” cholesterol (LDL) from the bloodstream, lowering your risk for heart disease. HDL Cholesterol that is too low may increase your risk for heart disease.”

One way to raise your HDL is through exercise. I like that you can see quantitatively the change in the numbers as I started working out from 1 month post-op.  You can also see my food funerals reflected in my triglycerides and cholesterol values for the pre-diet numbers.

 

This past Sunday my Dad and I joined some of my coworkers and 27,000 of our closest friends at the Mini Heart 5K Walk downtown. Over the course of the day there was a half marathon, 5K race, 5K walk, 1K steps for stroke, and 1K kids run. Last I heard about 3 million dollars was raised for heart disease and stroke research and education.

The walk wasn’t a timed race but of course I couldn’t not figure out our time. We finished it close to 1 hour and 14 minutes. That was walking at a leisurely pace around people that were truthfully walking quite slow. Dad even got frustrated a couple of times at the lack of speed of the people walking in front of us. Still, all things considered we were only 10 minutes slower than our finish time for the Thanksgiving 5K, which is really good! Since it’s gotten cold we haven’t really done any training and this was the first course we’ve done with hills. Not too shabby.

Our next challenge is the Flying Pig 5K in May. Dad now has a fire under his butt to train more for it, not only to improve his speed but to improve his recovery time from it. He was a bit sore after Sunday. I was thinking of trying to completely run, or run as much as I can. I’m curious just how fast my time could be. Though I don’t want to leave Dad to walk on his own. We need to find someone willing to walk with him so I can run off.

The Saturday before the Mini Heart there was a health expo at the convention center downtown that I went to. They had booths from all the specialties within healthcare with free screenings, as well as booths from the different running stores selling their wares and booths from future marathons/runs. There was a couple future events that caught my eye, one in particular. There’s a local canoe rental place that’s putting on a tough mudder of sorts. 40 obstacles with mud over 10K on their property. Crazily I think it sounds super fun! I just need to find someone to do it with me so we can keep each other motivated. Dad is not the least bit interested, which I don’t really blame him. Any takers?? Bueller??