Monday, December 4, 2017


Hello everyone! I can't believe another week has passed so quickly. Thanksgiving is behind us and we're now into the holiday season. Lots of parties, events and gatherings, which also means more food. Food is everywhere. I'm even guilty of it because my hubby and I will be making cookie tins this weekend. Will I be able to stay away? Probably not. I'm sure I'll indulge in one oatmeal raisin walnut cookie. Matilda always makes sure to halt me at one, but I always think of the day when one won't be enough. It worries me.

After the epic Thanksgiving that resulted in hello-crazy weight loss - my largest weight loss week to date - I've been feeling differently. As a weight loss surgery patient, in the back of my mind there is this thought that maybe I'd never be small. I guess it's hard to shake those body image issues that tend to stick no matter how much I've lost. But this week, I've been thinking that I will be that smaller person. It's totally possible. I see it now. I feel it. I see changes like my knee. I have a knee, and I can see it. I can cross my legs, and that always baffled me because I couldn't understand why a person would want to sit like that. Now, I see why because it's quite comfortable. I can work with my laptop sitting on my lap - hence why it's named a laptop and not a bellytop. I've hit size 16's, and my sneakers are getting too big! That's right. My feet are getting smaller!

So, I figured if I'm feeling so great, maybe it's time to test my limits. My workouts have been going great. Actually, a little too good - which means it's time to change it up. I already had my goal of running a mile by 12/31 (and I'll get to that later), but I also wanted to challenge myself to do some high intensity Zumba. I've been doing Zumba for a very long time. I use my Wii and I also go to live classes.  The Wii is awesome, and I enjoy it very much, but there is nothing like a live class. No matter how many live classes I've attended, there is one instructor who I feel has the best class, and I went to visit her studio this past Saturday all the way in Cleveland, OH. (I live in Erie, PA).

She's amazing, and her routines are high intensity and high impact. She's an amazing instructor, which makes for an amazing class. When I arrived, I received the best sweaty hug (as she was finishing a class), and I was ready for the next one. Although she wasn't teaching, another amazing instructor was there, and I was ready!

I couldn't believe what I was able to do. I was jumping, hoping, moving and shaking. Burpee pushups in a Zumba routine?? Yes, I did that. Quick foot movements and all, and I was laughing. I was overjoyed. I was so ready for anything she gave me. Dripping in sweat and exhilarated, I knew that I would be ready to get my own Zumba Instructor certification when I'm at goal. Yes, that will be done. I can't wait until I can teach others. Working out is fun when you find what you love.

Challenge met!

On Sunday, I was still flying high on my way to Planet Fitness so I figured I'd give myself another challenge. I wondered if I could accomplish my year-end goal. I got on the treadmill and did a 5 minute warm-up walk, and preceded to smash my goal by running for 25 minutes straight at 4 mph, and completed 1.5 miles without stopping. Sure, that's slow as shit, but I don't give a HOOT! I weight 313 pound at the beginning of the year, and I just ran for 25 minutes without stopping!!!

Completely blow away and overjoyed with my progress right now. I know the scale sometimes dictates how one may feel about how well they are going, but right now, the things I can do now versus a month ago - a year ago ... there is no comparison. I feel so amazing. I feel that I can do anything, and since I've already met my year end goal every early, I'm going to focus on my goals for the next year.
  • Steadily increase my run by 5 minute increments each week. My plan is to increase my endurance and keep my heart rate strong and steady. I eventually plan to run a few 10K's in 2019 at a good pace (5 mph).
  • Get my Zumba certification in 2017.
  • Be free of all medications for blood pressure and high cholesterol.
  • Reach my goal weight in 2017 - and I'm still not sure what that is or what that means. 
What are your goals for 2017? Not resolutions.... Goals. What do you want to accomplish? Please feel free to share, and it doesn't have to be health/fitness related. Get those goals. Set them. Review them. Make them realistic and attainable. We got this.

Weight Loss Update
HW: 360
SW: 278
CW: 216.8
GW: 160-170

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Test

Good job, Matilda.
Well done.
Happy Monday everyone. I know it's been a few weeks, but I figured I'd fill you all in after Thanksgiving. I was also struggling with a health issue prior to my vacation, and I'm happy to report I got that addressed prior to leaving. So, let's start there.

I reported before that my doctor is working on adjusting my blood pressure medication. I was on too much medication and was experiencing dizziness so he told me to stop taking one of them. Well, the pill I stopped taking also had a diuretic in it. After the first week off the pill, my body started to retain water in large amounts. My ankles swelled and I wasn't urinating no matter how much water I drank. I ended up almost gaining 10 pounds.

I spoke with my doctor, and he told me to discontinue the one bp med, and switch to my other med with the diuretic. He mentioned we may need to play with these meds until my bp stabilizes, and we find what works. I'm happy to report that I'm doing much better. I was able to lose all the water weight I gained and my bp is very good right now. I'll continue monitor and report.

So, before I left on vacation on 11/18, I weighted in at 232.2 lbs. I was looking forward to being away from the scale as I have difficulty leaving it alone sometimes.  I planned to workout at least three days while in Raleigh since I have a Planet Fitness membership. I was going to watch my food and not track anything in My Fitness Pal. It was a test. Will I be able to eyeball my food portions and eat properly? Will I make sure to listen to Matilda when she tells me enough? How will I handle all the food and all THREE of the Thanksgiving dinners that were planned during the visit?

I did prep as well as I could. I took lots of pre-measured snacks, meats, boiled eggs and cheeses. I made sure to have plenty of water to drink, and planned proper lunches on the road so my husband and I would have healthy choices. I even booked a hotel that served free breakfast each morning so I knew I'd be able to eat eggs and other items that Matilda liked.

Each morning at the hotel, I had a scoop of scrambled eggs and 1/4 of my husband's waffle. Yep. I was testing Matilda, and she really likes waffles. I never finished any of my plates so I'm still not estimating my portions well, but at least I can really key in on when Matilda is done. Grade: A+

My lunches ranged from meat and cheese that I brought along with some snacks. I liked my cheese sticks, 1/2 boiled egg and turkey pepperoni or beef summer sausage. So for the most part, these were pretty uneventful except for one day, which I will explain. Grade: B+

I worked out three days in a row - Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday - Arm day, chest day and leg day. On Wednesday, I was able to work out with my sister and my husband. I was feeling amazing so I was really working hard. It was earlier in the day when we were working out (around 9 am) so I hadn't had breakfast yet - which was a mistake. By time we were done, it was lunch time, and I was feel pretty lousy. We had picked out some chicken and potato salad for lunch - and Matilda didn't like it. Not at all. After a few bites, I ended up taking my anti-nausea meds and slept most of the afternoon. My bp was low and my sugar was low. It took until the early evening for me to feel somewhat normal. Grade: A (for the workouts)

I also found out that protein bars and nuts do not mix. Matilda punished me with a couple bouts of the runs. Nothing major though.

We didn't eat out much. We did go to Chili's twice and I ate 2 southwest chicken egg rolls on both occasions. We also ate at Wing Stop on Saturday, and I didn't care for the boneless wings. I had a few mozzarella sticks and 3-4 fries. It all sat like a brick in my tummy. Grade: C-

Now, Thanksgiving was epic. We had three meals with three different groups of people on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. On all three days, I ate very sensibly with eating a bit of dark meat and vegetables. No macaroni and cheese. A drop of dressing. A few olives. That's about it. Now, I did try my hand at desserts. Matilda loved the mini cheesecakes I brought from Sam's Club. She also liked the yellow cake with chocolate icing I made. I had a small bite. I even tried a pinch of a Kings Hawaiian Roll (nah, didn't taste great). I did fall in love with Trader Joe's Organic Corn Chip Dippers - which is a healthier alternative to Fritos. I could see myself getting in trouble with those. Grade: A+  because I can see what foods I can lose myself in and will avoid them like the plague.

In summary, I did well. Matilda handled all the food combos pretty well. I didn't have much illness, and if I did, I recovered well. I know I was eating more than normal, but I was not over eating or grazing. I ate about 3-4 times a day, and I definitely got good water in.

Another joy during the week was Black Friday. Oh yeah. I got down in a few stores. My husband and mom were great cheerleaders in getting me to pick out a few items. My mom was telling the sales people that I had lost 100 pounds and was so proud. She was helping me spend my money. It's amazing being able to shop in stores that don't specialize in plus size clothing. My favorites are Macy's and New York and Company. I also did some damage in Victoria Secret and Athleta. Oh, and we cleaned up with candles and free items at Bath and Body Works.

So, now I'm home. Time to meet with the scale and see what happened...

217.6 pounds. 14.6 pound loss in 8 days.

Yeah. I stepped on that scale twice. I knew I had lost because the water was gone, but I wasn't expecting to completely skip over the 220's and head to the 210's. My clothes were definitely fitting differently. My shoes were loose. I could see my collar bones more. I couldn't help but look in the mirror in the hotel room because they had a full length one, and we don't really have one at home. I could tell I looked different as the week went on. I felt different. Did I feel 14 pounds lighter - HELL NO. But, I'll take it!

Matilda's on the Honor Roll!
I really had no idea what to expect. This was my first vacation since surgery, and I'm glad it went well because my husband and I will be heading to Las Vegas for Christmas. I plan on visiting Planet Fitness while I'm there and planning the same type of snack options as I did during Thanksgiving. I will be eating out a lot more, but I find myself ordering from the appetizer menu and I will try to do that as much as possible.

I really couldn't have asked for a better vacation. I have so much family and friends in North Carolina. It was truly a blessing to spend all of that time there. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I wish you the happiest holiday season.

Weight Loss Update
HW: 360
SW: 278
CW: 217
GW: 160-170

Monday, November 6, 2017

Excuse Me?

Hello everyone! I'm heading into week 16... Wow! I'm still trying to wrap my head around how quickly the time is passing. When I was in the pre-surgical program, I was grateful for the time I had to prepare myself for life after surgery. Now that I'm in the thick of it, I'm happy with my progress so far. Matilda and I are getting along great. Sure, she makes weird noises often, but I appreciate every noise, every twitch, every warning. I listen to her when she's telling me she's had enough or she doesn't like something... And especially when she loves something. It's hard to stop eating when you're enjoying your food, but I do. I do stop. I think that's what make me so content. I feel like I am doing well managing my portions and impulses.

This past week, I had another NSV or Non-scale Victory. On Friday, I checked in with my Primary Doctor for a blood pressure check. My blood pressure has been on the low side, and I told him that I've been having dizzy spells when moving. He took me off one of my blood pressure meds for two weeks. I am to monitor my blood pressure and report back. So far, my blood pressure is still great. I'm talking only one medication for it. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I will be able to get rid of both of them. The more weight I lose, the more hopeful I am I can get rid of another medication.

How's the gym going? Good! I ran for 10 minutes straight this past Friday, and today I walked/ran in 5 minute intervals. Practice makes perfect. My goal is to run a mile continuously by the end of the year. I'll update you on New Year's Day.

So, I've been thinking a lot about the holidays approaching. I have a lot of parties and get togethers. Pot lucks and such. My goodness! How will I handle it? Or the questions?

Sushi? Maybe without the rice...

The questions don't bother me. I'll tell you exactly why I'm eating so little or why I don't want a drink. I've never hidden anything about what I'm going through. However, if anyone has the nerve to say, "Oh, you did it the easy way," I'm giving you a warning.

I belong to a couple bariatric groups where we can communicate and get some help and support from others who have already gone through the process. It is amazing the lack of support many of us receive from our family and friends. Loved ones that are hoping we fail and don't get the surgery. Friends who try to sabotage and straight up throw shade. I can say that I haven't encountered anything like this...yet. I did have a family member say she didn't understand why I couldn't lose weight "the normal way" and hopes I don't gain it back. Hell, I pray everyday I don't gain my weight back. That's why I'm working so hard now.

Don't even try to ruin my
good vibe. You gonna
get hurt.
Comments like that don't bother me. However, if anyone comes at me with "The easy way" convo, they may get their feelings hurt. Why? Because I'm working my ass off. Are you getting up with me at 4:30 am to go to the gym? Are you lifting up heavy stuff? Are you squatting 120 lbs and deadlifting 140? Are you leg pressing 190? What's easy about all of that stuff? What's easy about running nonstop for 10 minutes when you weigh over 200 pounds?  Come at me if you think this shit is easy.

I love that it's not easy. It's difficult. It's challenging. It's hella frustrating. But it's so rewarding. I found my winter sweaters that I haven't worn in 4 years, and I'm wearing them. I finally wore a pair of boots this weekend that I've had for years, but I was never able to zip them up be
cause my feet were too fat and swollen...and they were comfortable! I have energy and drive. Yeah, I can't eat sushi yet, but it's all good. Sure, Matilda doesn't like cake and pie, but that's okay. This isn't easy. It's not a path many can take. But, the rewards are so fulfilling because I'm getting my life back.

So, if you want to tell me how easy I have it. Don't bother. I'm not listening.

Weight Loss Update
HW: 360
SW: 278
CW: 228 (50 pounds post op!)
GW: Kiss it!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Perseverance is Key

Happy Monday, Readers. It's definitely been a week of developments. All week, my stall has been in the back of my mind nagging slightly, but not discouraging me. If anything, it was nagging me to work harder and not quit. I was very determined this week, and I also started my new weight training plan for the next five weeks.  There was some hella sweat and pain this week. I was tired, and I was suffering from muscle fatigue - which can be a good thing.

Muscles break down when stressed, and repair themselves, which makes you stronger. Friday, my leg day, incorporated and additional set of squats and lunges. So now I do wide stance and close stance on squats and walking lunges and side lunges. I thought nothing of the side lunges since they appeared to be quite innocent. My butt and legs are still sore...three days later!

My interval running has also improved. I notice that my heart rate isn't as high as it was when running intervals at 4 mph - which means my endurance is improving. I'm adding a few 1 minute 5 mph sprints, and I'm doing that twice a week.

So, at the end of the first week of my new weight regimen, I broke my stall and lost 5.6 pounds.

When I stepped on the scale this morning, and saw that I left the 230's behind, I felt quite emotional. We all know that the scale can be the bane of your weight loss existence, so you really take it with a grain of salt. My emotion stemmed from how well I handled this stall. I didn't run to the scale everyday like I did last time. I worked hard. I rested my body. I stressed my body. I even caught myself from making a bad mistake - which I'll explain later. In all of this, I kept on my plan. I knew what I had to do. I trusted the process, and I worked. When you put all of that faith in yourself and your plan, and you see results, it's so rewarding. I hadn't worked this hard at fitness since my last go-round losing weight. It felt amazing getting back to that place.

I'm also realizing how much Matilda is helping me. She's my favorite tool in my took kit because she is really helping me with my food portions and choices. She doesn't like desserts like cake and pie, which I appreciate, but she loves snacks - which can be very dangerous, which leads me to my biggest revelation this easy it is to get back into old habits.

I'm close to four months post-op, and I've handled most foods really well. I picked up some peanut butter filled pretzels from Trader Joe's a few weeks ago, and occasionally I'll have a serving here and there as a snack with some string cheese. This past week, I noticed that I was starting to think about those pretzels more and more. I was thinking about them...wondering and planning the next time I was going to eat them. Then, I was adding one or two extras to my snack portion. It won't hurt, right?

The last time I ate them, I knew I couldn't do it anymore because I was starting to think about them like I did all my food and meals before. Couldn't wait to eat them.... Thinking about them... Anticipating the next time I would eat them. Matilda helped me recognize my old habits creeping back in. I said to myself, "This is how I'm going to gain my weight back." It's a serving. Then, a serving and a few more. Then, two servings. I've done this to myself so much. I'm glad I caught myself this time. And sadly, there are foods I'm not going to be able to eat because they trigger old habits. Peanut butter pretzels, hot tamales, jelly bellies, swedish fish, lemon oreos, chips and french onion dip. Those are all of my trigger foods. My favorite snacks. I'm going to have to quit you.

I also realize that my cravings are going to be there, so I'm not going ignore them. I'll indulge occasionally to keep the beast at bay. Yesterday, I enjoyed a small amount of candy (chocolate - which isn't my fav) along with some peanuts and cashews. It was satisfying and tamed the crazed sugar beast. It didn't make me want to jump into the cabinet and gorge myself on anything. I ate my serving and was quite happy. I also vow not to eat one piece of candy tomorrow - no matter how bad I want to do it. I'll keep my tiny stash in the freezer and eat a piece here and there when the beast is restless. Plus, when you complete 75 minutes of Zumba, you deserve a treat.

Now, I know many in the weight loss community wouldn't agree with my approach. I personally don't care. What I've learned is everyone's journey is different. Everyone's body is different. I'm not going to deprive myself because I know the outcome won't be good for me. I want to be able to enjoy some things occasionally, and still my goals. I will work hard everyday so my cravings won't control me.

Zumba style!
Happy Halloween Everyone! Don't eat too much candy. Thanksgiving is right around the corner. That's going to be interesting...  Later!

Weight Loss Update
HW: 360
SW: 278
CW: 229.8
I promise, Matilda, I won't
do this to you on Turkey
GW: TBD...

*Take a look at the chart. It seems my stalls are occurring every five weeks. I wonder if this will happen in this next cycle.
**Although my highest weight was 360, my highest weight this time around was in July 2016 at 335 pounds... so, yes, I have lost 105 pounds!

Monday, October 23, 2017

When Life Gives You Lemons...

Hey everyone! I know it's been a few weeks since I updated. During that time, I hit my three post-op milestone. I didn't have any doctor appointments or anything, but I have been trying different foods and textures. Some agree with me... and some don't. Matilda is still in control and she still runs the slow. I still feel restriction, and I'm eating a constant 800-1000 calories a day and eating four small meals. It seems to be working well. My appetite isn't out of control - even with my workout schedule, and I eat about every 3 hours or so.

Hi Matilda!
I have my surgery date
and tummy name on the back.
Speaking of Matilda, my tummy arrived about a week ago. My tummy pillow is a nice reminder of my surgery. She's cute and squishy. I also can toss her around if her namesake is acting up a bit. If any of your are curious as to where she came from, let me know, and I'll give you the deets. The dark blue portion of the pillow is pretty true. My stomach is shaped in that manner. The light blue part was cut away and discarded...never to be heard from again.

So, what have I been up to lately? Well, I've been working quite a bit which is why I haven't updated the blog lately. Work seems to be calming down so I can give you all an update. The last two-three weeks have been great. I've been trying some new foods. I've tried tempura shrimp and veggies, calamari and even made some protein pancakes. Matilda enjoyed all of them, but she's not too keen on the leftovers. I try to warm up as much food as possible in the oven instead of the microwave
Oy, Matilda! Calm down!
because Matilda doesn't care for dry foods. This time, I think it may have been too much oil. Matilda was pretty unhappy, and I took some anti-nausea medicine to help. I felt better in about an hour.

My workouts continue to improve. My first five weeks of my weight lifting program passed, and I can definitely see the results. I met with the gym trainer this past Friday to review my progress, and we agreed with some additional exercises for the next five weeks - including core work and an extra weight day. So, now I'll be doing weights 4 days a week - arms, chest, legs, and back. I'll include some core work 2-3 times a week, and continue with my cardio 6 days a week.

Yes! That does mean I will be weight training 4 days a week, and cardio 6 days a week. It does seem like a lot, but I really do feel great. I need to make sure I rest one day during the week to give my body some down time. I'm fitting into more of my clothes and wear the majority of my closet right now. I'm even fitting into shoes I couldn't wear a few months ago.

The trend line is the truth!
There is still an elephant in the room - the STALL. I've stalled again. I've been holding steady at 235 going on three weeks. My last stall was pretty discouraging, but this one isn't. Of course, I'd love to see the scale move, but I'm seeing so much more progress with my fitness improving that the scale is become less important. I'm no longer stepping on the scale everyday, but I am flexing my muscles in the mirror.

When I reviewed my weight loss graph on FitBit today, it really does reflect the true nature of weight loss. The trend will be a downward slope with periods of flat lines -- the plateaus. I'm just in my second, but I know I will have many more. It's so important to keep going. Don't get discouraged. Change up your routine - change your food choices. But, do not stop your forward momentum. I didn't gain the weight in 6 months, so don't expect to lose all the weight in 6 months.
Nope. Not today.

The surgery really is a tool. I have to set my goals and keep going. Today, it was extremely hard to get out of bed and get to the gym, but I got there. I was late...but I got there.

As the weather gets cooler and the snow starts to fall, it's going to get more challenging to get my workouts in, but I have goals. I am focused. Don't let outside factors distract you from your finish line. It's not a timed race, so take your time. Be nice to yourself. Matilda and I may have our moments, but we're stuck with each other. Permanently. This is our new normal. I plan on embracing it and squeezing the hell out of those lemons.

HW: 360 lbs (circa 2006)
SW: 278
CW: 235