Planning to start again…

How often in life do you get to plan a fresh start, with the knowledge of what lies ahead? In less than I week my husband will have his weight loss surgery. He will start his journey with is VSG. And he has the benefit of living with me and sharing my knowledge. While I’m excited to share my knowledge with him, I’m meeting resistance!!! WHAT? yep! I am! REALLY!

The man went to his pre-surgical meeting at the doctor’s office. He met with the surgeon’s team, the surgeon and their nutritionist. Now, I have to tell you, I love our surgeon. I do. I love the office and the support there. BUT… I do not agree with certain things that they teach. For instance… two flinstones vitamins a day? Really. Somebody please tell me how a child’s vitamin in a 400lb male body is sufficient? Now break it down to a post WLS body and tell me how it even begins to match up to what is needed. It doesn’t. Its dangerous information.  While I won’t pick apart every single aspect of what I disagree with, I will say that I have lived this life, done the research, met the experts and pride myself on the knowledge that I have. BUT… this man has gone to ONE meeting and is telling ME how things have to be.

I should sit back and not argue. I should let him take the lead in his own weight loss journey. I should let him find his own way. Right? Or… should I step in and beg him to listen?

I’m honestly a little befuddled. I don’t want to come across as strong arming the boy. I don’t want to come across as knowing better… but uh, I KNOW BETTER. Hello! I’ve struggled, I’ve lived it.. I am living it. YOU have MET my people! This man has been talked to about nutrition, about post WLS life, about just about everything… in a manner that has been casual and not about him. So why can’t he apply what he already knows to be true to his own life? UGH! I’m frustrated! I’m going to sick some of my folks on him!

So, ladies and gents….. your advice? Do I approach this as if I were approaching one of you? Do I tell him what I know to be true and tell him what I know is bad advice and what has been helpful? Do I STFU and let my friends do it? Or do I just let him fumble his way through the first few post op months on his own? (I wish I knew then what I knew now. He has the chance to have better knowledge than I did. Better insight. I wish I had a first hand perspective back then. I wish I knew.)

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The face in the picture.

I was updating the photos of my journey tonight, and as I scrolled through the edit page I was actually taken aback by the face in the first picture.

I remember the day as if it were yesterday. I was in Florida celebrating Thanksgiving with my family. I had just told my siblings and my parents that I was going to have weight loss surgery. I knew then, that I was going to make major changes in my life. I was looking forward to living. I was excited about the prospects. I know this all to be true. Yet… I see that face and there is no trace of anything but pain.

Once again, I’m going to comment on the role that the camera plays in this journey. It not only helps me to show you where I have come from, but it helps me to see where I was. It helps me to look back, and acknowledge that maybe I wasn’t as “okay” with being fat, as I thought I was. Maybe I wasn’t as “content” as I told myself I was.

I’m sad for the woman in that picture, but I don’t know if its because I know she was miserable then, or if I am judging her now. Perhaps its a little of both. Admittedly, it is NOT easy to see myself that way. As much as people show their before and after photos off, there is very little pride that comes with the before photo. Its painful to embrace. I was that person. That person IS who I am now.  Its hard. Really it is. That doesn’t go away. Regardless of how much weight you lose, you will always have been obese. You will always have been a statistic of the disease. And obesity is a disease. Its physical as well as mental. Its not pretty. It doesn’t go away.

So, thats my truth for tonight. The camera plays a role. Its important. The reminders are  sometimes difficult to reflect upon. The hurts can be covered up with clothes and new photos… but they are always going to be there. You can’t escape where you came from. You don’t get to out run your past.

http://vsgmom.com/pictures-of-my-journey/  it is NOT always pretty

It’s a Conundrum.

co·nun·drum/kəˈnəndrəm/

Noun:
  1. A confusing and difficult problem or question.
  2. A question asked for amusement, typically one with a pun in its answer; a riddle.

I feel like I keep dancing around this whole body change/dysmorphia/weight challenge. But I guess that’s what weight loss surgery/rapid weight loss is all about. Right?

So, this week I went back to that place that sends me into a cold sweat. I went to the fitting room. I knew that my size 12’s were loose and baggy, especially where my ass was. If your jeans don’t fit JUST right, you risk having noassatall or a massive wedge. Neither is attractive, but I guess noassatall is more comfortable.

So I fought the urge to run, the urge to flee and I tried on the size 10’s. Truth be told, I carried a number of 12’s in with me also… because well… maybe I wouldn’t fit in the 10’s and maybe a different cut of 12’s would be better. Hey, this is what it is. Its the way MY brain works. The 12’s were ALL too big, regardless of cut. The 10’s all fit, although one cut (the boyfriend cut) was NOT bariatric/loose skin friendly. Special thanks to those jeans for letting me know that I also have loose skin on my ass cheeks. Thanks for that!

So here I am wondering out loud… WHERE does one set their goals? REALLY? A BMI chart doesn’t tell you what size jeans you should be wearing. A tag in your jeans doesn’t tell you what weight you should be. So, what happens when your brain tells you that a size ten should LOOK 20lbs LOWER on the scale than it actually does? If I were to get to where the blasted BMI calculator tells me I *could/should/wish-to* be then what would the tag of my jeans read? 4? 2? 0? SERIOUSLY? Its ridiculous, isn’t it? I mean honestly… am I REALLY wasting my time wondering about this crap? BUT the answer is

I AM damn it! I fully ADMIT that a year ago, I would have been giddy to get my fat ass into a size 16, let alone a 14… 12 and a 10 was UNIMAGINABLE! SERIOUSLY! I KNOW! A ten! BUT.. BUT BUT BUTT….. I don’t feel like I LOOK like a TEN… most of the time anyway. And if you took away the camera and the mirror and simply gave me the scale… NO WAY IN HELL would the number on the scale translate into a size ten to me. NOPE, nay never!

So, while I don’t see myself as I ten USUALLY, I do take a LOT of pictures and there is a reason for that! When I was fat, I looked in the mirror and didn’t see myself as obese and as miserable as the camera saw me. I would get up, get dressed, check myself out in the mirror and say “Self, you look pretty damn cute for a big chick”. Then a week or two later I would see a photo of myself from that day and  much to my horror… there would be no trace of the cute big chick, simply frumpy cranky momma. AND NOW… well NOW… I look in the mirror and I don’t SEE thin, not fat, normal. I SEE loose skin, big girl. I don’t necessarily see obese. But I do see big. SO, I take pictures, because again… the photographs see more than what the mirror shows. The camera captures what the scale doesn’t give me, what the mirror hides, what the brain denies. The camera gives it to me straight. Be it tired, sloppy, or NOT FAT! The camera gives it to me for real. So yes folks, there are lots of pictures and there will be lots more. If I take a picture and I see fat, despite what the scale or the jeans say… the photos will keep me honest with myself.

The question, however, still remains. WHAT DETERMINES the beginning of maintenance and the end of loss? The number on the scale? The number on the jeans? The stupid freaking BMI chart? The photograph? Will there ever be a point where I will be satisfied? Will I ever it ever be ENOUGH? I just got into a size 10 and already I’m thinking about a size 8. HELLO BRAIN FUCKED! My constant friend. SIGH.

Body Morphing, its just a strange thing

Here I am 13 months post vertical sleeve gastrectomy. The honeymoon phase is waning. The need to make a conscious effort is apparent. A few days of bad choices equals a few numbers increased on the bitch of a scale. Damn that scale.

So, anyway, its a funny thing, the way a bariatric body changes. We have a body type. Those of you who are bariatric know what I mean. We morph in stages. Top first, melt melt melt. WHOA.. look at those cheek bones just days/weeks/months out. Then the neck, collar bones. Around 8 months out my waist changed, then I had to really work to get my legs to slim down… they were just hanging on to weight like potato sacks. Now here I am, slimming down again, and my waist is slimmer, my legs are slimmer and suddenly my face and neck and collar bones are slimming again.

There is amusement in this. I admit to being fascinated by the bari-body. The pre-pastics bari-body. We are identifiable. While we are proud of our weight loss, the way our bodies morph is often a bone of contention with many of us. The loose skin, the areas in which it hangs, the way the excess settles in areas such as our hips or lower belly, thigs, batwings, ankles, toes… what ever. Ahh thank the universe for the joys of the digital camera, the ability to take a photo and delete a photo, edit a photo and play with a photo. Thank the universe for the ability to connect with other body morphing freaks like me, who totally get it when I pinch the flap of skin on my hip and ask “What in the hell is THIS? What do I do with THIS?” and for those who laugh at me when I joke that “If a hurricane were to hit right now, at least we could all deploy our loose skin and parachute to safety” Its our super power. Flexi skin FTW!

Next time I  post a picture of myself and you wonder why I often post face pics, understand that the answer is this…… There is NO loose skin in my face, my neck or my shoulders! It is easily photograph-able with out needing to suck, push, roll or hide anything. When there are full body shots, I assure you that they are carefully selected, there are slimpressions worn to pull in the excess hangage, and they are shared painstakingly.

Stages of morphingI was recently asked if my brain is finally catching up to my body. I had to think about this for a day or two. I suppose it is. When trying on clothes I still grab one or two sizes too large. I still have anxiety trying on smaller sizes. Mind you, there is VICTORY in getting my ass into a size 12  and more so in the need to go try on a size 10… but there is also anxiety that comes along with going to grab those 10’s and carry them into the fitting room. But yes, my brain is there. I know I need the smaller size. I DO see it. I DO like it. I’m totally NOT bitching about it! YEEHAW to cute jeans! WOOHOO to skinny jeans! And YIPPY to the fact that this fall I will get myself a pair of boots because my calfs are thin enough to wear them! SO there! LOL

I digress, the point is… we are constantly in a stage of morphing. I don’t know that it matters how far out we are either. We just change shape every few months, bounce back to a shape, then revisit another shape. We are shape shifters, body morphers… we have super powers so watch out!

I’m Here! .. wait… what?

Today a fellow sleever asked for a show of hands on facebook. Specifically he aksed for “over a year veterans”.

There are many times in my life where I have looked a situation and thought ‘it seems like yesterday..’. Often times when I look at one of my children, my husband, my parents. Sometimes when I open the front door of my home, or visit my old town. But never did I ever expect to feel that way about being a baby op. I mean, when did I become a veteran? I didn’t think I was. In my mind, I’m still green at this. I’m a newb. A babe, a fresh op. Careful, don’t scare me away!

Perhaps the fact that I had another surgery just three months after my WLS, I feel as though weight loss is still fresh, still progressing, still honeymooning. I know, logically that 18 months is the “magical” number assigned by “THEY” who write the books. “THEY” say that the majority of weight is lost with in the first 18 months after surgery. “They” also say a person who undergoes a vertical sleeve gastrectomy should expect to lose approximately 65% of their excess weight. Uh, yeah… that would have left me at about 215lbs…and I should have been happy with that? I don’t know who “THEY” are or where they get their numbers, but I think they may want to do some other research with in the community. Perhaps some updated studies. I don’t know.

Either way, being called a veteran is sort of like having somebody guess my age five years older than it is. It sort feels similar to the tick tock of the biological clock ticking in my chest. Its kind of like looking out the window and realizing that the big kid on the skateboard is my baby.

Lets slow down, take a breath, reassess the situation. Yes, I’m here for support. I am still in need of support. But by no means would I consider myself any kind of veteran. I’m in my surgical toddlerhood. I’m just ready for the equivalent of potty training. I still have accidents!

Disclaimer: The person who called forward the veterans did no wrong. He called forward those who seemed to be missing with in the support community. He was not looking to offend and I have no issues with him. 🙂 Its all rainbows and unicorns.

I went home part II

So, I headed off to Long Island and arrived at my friend Christina’s home by late morning.
Christina is my best friend, my soul sister. We have a bond like none other in my life. Christina and her husband Huge are incredible friends and their children are adored by me, as if they were my own. I know each one’s personality as well as I know my own kid’s personalities. Best yet is that their kids and my kids fall with in years, months, weeks of each other age wise. They fit like a puzzle, never a missing link.

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Walking into Chris & Hugh’s yard was like coming home in and of itself. Filled with ghosts of babies crawling, boys peeing in the yard, potty training, barbecues, beer, good times.

I stole away a bit of time here and there. I drove by my family home, down the block I played on, around the block to check out the park, the Matthew’s house and wondered if the yards were still connected like they were when we were kids. I never had to walk around the block. Loving neighbors had a gate between yards, to keep us lil people safe & in view.

We spent time with my brother Brian, my nephew John, and sister in law Tracy. Sometimes you take for granted that family is family & they will always be there. We have not seen nearly enough of them over the years, and I didn’t know how much I
Missed them till I was there.
My kids were water rats, I wore a bathing suit and was water logged myself. I soaked up the fact that Brian is a one man show who can entertain 7 children with out trying. I also can’t thank him enough for having my clan and Christina’s clan, so I was able to enjoy the best of both worlds.

I drove through Lindenhurst and Wellwoid ave broke my heart. Where is Carvel? The flower Shop? How is Friendly’s a friggin 7-11? Where is my town? My tween years were spent there. My first job, first crush, and the sense if freedom I had by merely being permitted to walk there to meet up with friends.
Amazingly, a trip to NY did not awaken my sense of food nostalgia. Well, other than Linzer Tarts. I really didn’t do the food tours that most former NYers do when they go home. No bagels for me (but for the kids) Brian got them pizza too. No deli heros, no Italian pastries, I even avoided the Italian butcher. No Chinese, no Zorns, no zeppolis.
Crazy right? But, this is a non scale victory. Before surgery I would have binged for a week straight.
The ghosts of my childhood, my teens, my early parenting years are all around Long Island. I was homesick for this place that will always be my home.
Packing up my babies and heading back to Georgia was physically painful. My heart broke. I miss my people. Christina and I belong close by. It’s a strong connection and it’s resilient, but 900 miles may as well be different continents. I miss my brother, my family. I even got to see my cousin Jamie and her beautiful boy Hudson. Jamie and I were polar opposite as kids. She out going and independent, me a momma’s girl. Now, we’re two strong headed, crazy momma’s ourselves & my kids are thrilled to know that there are more cousins to meet.
Next year we’ll tackle this trip earlier. We will make time for the beach, for a meeting with Scheiner Family, & hopefully the hubby will come along to spend some man time with Hugh & Brian.

My NY peeps, I love you. I’m sorry if I missed you. I was ghost hunting, finding pieces of myself in memories long gone.

Embracing the Taboo.. BBGC

Two days ago I received a package in the mail. I wasn’t expecting anything, however, my memory is not the sharpest these days. I opened it up and let out a very loud “OH YAY!” which captured the attention of the whole family. Momma likes packages. Momma especially likes packages that she has forgotten she would be receiving, and when that package contains my latest Bariatric Bad Girls Club tee shirt, momma is down right gleeful!

My proud display of my “badness” got me thinking about my friends and a recent interaction I had with my neurologist.

I went to the neuro because of the migraines and the clumsiness. The neuro suggested ordered that I quit caffeine. My jaw may have hit the floor. There was a very distinct four year old type tantrum that followed. “No Caffeine? What? No REALLY? You’re trying to kill me? Why do you hate me?“. The neuro sat looking at me with a big ass grin on his face, asked if I was done yet and I said NO! “Look, this is not funny. Did my husband put you up to this? Am I being punked? DO YOU REALIZE THAT COFFEE IS MY TRANSFER ADDICTION?!?!!!!”

Now it was time for the neurologist’s jaw to hit the floor. Wide eyed he looked at me and said, quite seriously “You are the FIRST bariatric patient that I have had, that admits there are transfer addictions. While they know it, admitting it openly is very taboo. They do not like the suggestion that food could be an addiction and that its not all genetics that lands them in the obese category”

I explained that my obesity was certainly not genetic, and while before surgery you would have found me very much anti food is an addiction, I am now of the mind set that the habit is the addiction. When I am unhappy, angry, sad, feeling anxious I want to shove something down my throat. I want my taste buds to send happy little bits of dopamine to my brain to push the ugly out and give me a moment of bliss not so ugly. After my surgery, shoving food in my face would give me a moment of “not so ugly” right before the pain from pushing too much food in gave me a “God please don’t let me die”. So, to replace the motion of eating, I began the motion drinking. My hands are occupied with a nice, heavy, warm mug. My mouth is filled with tasty warm goodness. It hits my belly and it doesn’t hurt. Its warm and comforting. Then… the dopamine kicks in with a little help from the caffeine. WIN WIN… right?

I explained to my neurologist that some of the very best people I have met in my life are bariatric patients that do not play a role in the stepford bariatric community. We embrace the taboo. Shit happens. Its not all rainbows and unicorns. The faster you accept that your behaviors landed your ass on an operating table the quicker you will find your way to support, knowledge and answers to some of your issues. Coping isn’t always pretty, but it doesn’t have to be judgmental either. Any “life coach” who suggests that they can guide your through your weight loss journey with grace is full of crap. There are issues that follow this procedure. You are learning to live again, new, differently and change hurts! Change gets resistance from us. Our habits, our brains demand keeping to routine. Retraining your brain is not easy, it is not pretty and it is certainly not something that will ever be graceful.

If there was grace in finding your way through life changing events, reality TV would not be successful.

So, back to the Bariatric Bad Girls Club. Support with a solid dose of reality. We celebrate victories, we do not judge when you stumble, we admit our failures, and find support in picking ourselves up. We are not bad at all. We are real. And because the bariatric community is so filled with “TABOO” our reality makes us appear to be “bad”. We take our vitamins, we eat properly, we admit that indulgences happen and are OKAY (from time to time, not every day)! We are not robots, we do not hide the truth, we do not try to sell you products, we openly discuss medical issues that may be a result of our surgery. We discuss the frustrations. We tell newbies that you will lose weight, you will gain loose skin, you will not be a bikini model and most of all surgery doesn’t suddenly fix the universe. Some people take offense to that view. Some people prefer a less in your face approach to support, and thats okay too. Find it. But know this. The BBGC is a strong community. We embrace Taboo, we speak truth, we offer support, we admit to cross addictions, we do not claim to be perfect or graceful. We do kick ass! We are not bad because we eat poorly, or drink with straws (many of us do drink with straws, we have not died), we are bad because our balls to the wall approach on honesty has been tisk tisked by many.

I love my BBGC tee shirt. I love my BBGC support, and I am honored to call so many of those men and women close personal friends. With in that group of “bad” I have found all kinds of beautiful and I have found so many hands willing to reach out and help me through some of the most ungraceful moments of my post op life.

Bari-Family

Once upon a time, a sort of big guy dated a sort of chubby girl, they got married, had babies and got obese together. The now obese wife decided that life was meant for living, and decided to have bariatric surgery to help her reach her goals of living.

A few months later, the obese wife, became a smaller version of her former self, and resembled her younger self more and more. The obese husband struggled with his emotions, trying to deal with the changes that were happening before his very eyes.

Eventually the obese husband discussed the possibilities of bariatric surgery for himself, first with his doctor then with his wife. While apprehensive to under go any form of surgery, he realized that at the rate he was going, he wouldn’t see his children graduate high school. Having lost his own father, much earlier than he should have, he decided to go forward with his plan to have weight loss surgery.

Today the obese husband has been under doctor’s care for  5 months. He went for all of his pre surgical testing, his surgeon consult and his nutritionist appointment. Today, it all became real for him, as he left the doctor’s office and the doctor said “next time I see you will be on the day of your surgery”

One month from now, he will hand in the last of his paper work and it will be submitted to the insurance company. With in the next few months we will be a bariatric family. Hopefully the changes we make in our lives now, will keep our children from struggling with obesity and poor eating habits and behaviors.

Up to this point, I was not sure he would go forward with this. In the past he has lost weight on his own.

When Kailey was born, the man was skinny!

As I have written previously, having a child with medical issues certainly contributed to both of our stress eating tendencies. It is very easy to fill the “helpless” feelings with food. I am hopeful that today marks the beginning of the changes my husband needs to live a happy life.

We're on our way... together.

 

The end of a week of SLACKING!

 

If there is a book about how to be a good wife, a motivated mother, Susie freaking sunshine… I may need to read it. Because frankly, this past week… I have not been any of the above!

"Slacker mom reality" Hi this is totally what my house has resembled this week, and that is the exact position I have had on the couch!

 

 
So much so, that I didn’t even take Ruby out for our hike this weekend. She was very content to slack with me though.

belly up, hanging off of my lap.

 

So, once again, I fess up to bad behavior. And once again, I tell myself that tomorrow is a new day. I will get up, I will move, I will not make excuses.

Tomorrow is nearly here, so I had better get some sleep. I will be accountable this week. I will check in with those who keep me on my feet, I will look at myself in the mirror, face the reality and buck up!

This past week has been chock full o’ drama! What drama you ask? Hubby with no work because things are slow, kid with scarlet fever… which, for the record is not the plague or a death sentence, a lightning bolt smacking into my air conditioner unit, children up all night because of said bolt, which my husband didn’t believe actually hit anything, A/C unit going electrically defunked, seizing up and the upstairs soaring to a high in the mid 80’s (I have a child who doesn’t sweat, this is very bad.), hot flashes, spousal arguments, and the saving grace of a friend who owns North and South Mechanical… who rigged the unit for the time being. I got to claim my very first home owners insurance claim, and now we wait to see what happens next. There has been a lot of time spent with book in hand, head in pillow, and fingers in ears. I saw my doctor and got diagnosed with migraines, ended a week long migraine, and still found 100 excuses to not do a damn thing! It ends tonight.

Tomorrow… yep…. that’s when I will put my best foot forward.

Tonight I’m going to bed, thankful that my house didn’t burn down, none of my children were hospital bound, heat stroke didn’t happen, my dog loves me no matter what, my husband loves me despite it all, only ONE of my children spewed out “I HATE YOU”, and maybe, just maybe I can still make it to NY by next weekend.

My main food groups

Time to fess up. My doctor is less than pleased with my eating habits. I’m sort of in a rut. While I enjoy food, especially creating it, the average daily routine is the same.

Dannon plain Greek Yogurt. 8oz is 120 calories and 22g of protein. THIS is my dream food. Easily digestible, yummy, high protein low calories. Hello, I live on this stuff!

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SPLENDA: dear splenda, I love you. With out you my daily eating would be miserable. I love how you sweeten my yogurt, my coffee and my fruit.

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If you’re thinking of yelling me all the ways splenda will kill me, save it. It has saved me! It’s even in my water via mio drops!

Fruit: I get in far more than the daily recommendations of fruit. Berries. Love them! Add them to my yogurt, with splenda, this is bliss!

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Coffee: yes, please, all day long! I love my keurig. Even when it acts up. I’d be lost with out my perfect cup… Many times a day.

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I’m the coffee/protein category is the shining star!!! CLICK! Yes! Please. Thank you! I love Click. It is a protein shake that is not a chore to choke down, but a pleasure to start your day off. Love my Click. I do, I do!

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I’m struggling with this food rut. I didn’t like being told I needed to focus more on “real food”. I am to try to eat this “real food” more than once a day. The above mentioned things do not count. Why? Because my eating habits are disordered.

I went from one extreme to the next I suppose. Although, the foods I’m stuck on are nutrient rich, the fact that it is all I consume is a red flag.

“dense protein” is the goal. More than once a day. Yesterday I had edamame salad, today some almonds and a bit of tuna.

I’m not a fan of being told to change. But I keep this blog to document it all, regardless of how silly, lame or concerning things are. So… There’s that.