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Do you know what I realized last night?  It is all in our perception of things and everyone is going to be different.  I went to Weight Loss Support Group and a couple stood up to speak.  They are both about 2 years out of surgery and met in the support group 2 years ago- just became a couple this summer.  The man weighed over 500lbs and now weighs about 275 and the woman started out at 380 and now weighs 220.  She is still working on losing and i am not sure what his goal is, but he will need some plastics for sure!  Anyhow, when they were talking they talked about all the things they can do now:  Sit in a booth, walk through a turnstile without trouble, buy smaller clothes, shoes, hats, belts, etc.  But, when anyone who does not know them or their story looks at them they have to think they are an overweight couple.  But, they do not.  They feel wonderful about themselves and know how far they have come.

Perception of the whole world ends up different.  There were times I would get a meal and wonder “is that all” or know I would not have leftover to take home.  Now Brian and I usually split a meal or we order something that is able to be reheated to take home.  We look at plates of food that come to us and say “yikes! how can we eat that” Or if we have ordered our own meal we wonder out loud why we did not decide to share.  The only thing we are unable to share is a steak because we both like them prepared so different.  I don’t like my meat to Moo back at me!

Booths in restaurants look bigger and we find ourselves trying to move the seat or the table closer to us instead of far away because it is so far away now. I no longer look around a room to see if anyone is bigger than me.  I don’t care anymore who is in the room or what they look like.  The only reason I cared before was because I felt like I stuck out for being the biggest/roundest.  Now, sometimes if I am in a room of people who know me but some have not seen me I feel a little self conscious because they keep looking at me.  I know I am shocking to look at now.  People stare and then tell me they just can’t believe it.  I don’t mind. I try not to be bothered by it, but it just confirms for me how bad I was before.  I have sort of become used to being the center of attention and I am trying to convince myself to learn to like it. I do things that scare me a little (like public speaking) to try to get myself over my past.

I look at pictures when I was 4 months post op and had already lost about 60 pounds.  I thought I looked fantastic.  I did not look heavy to myself at all.  I pull that picture out now though and think how big I was.  I look at pictures of my birthday weekend trip to the beach last year that we have on the wall and remember how good I felt then.  I thought I was looking great!  It was my perception from how big I was.  Now I think – yikes!  I was still so big!  (I was about 170 ish then)

Now, at 125 pounds lost and wearing a size 4 jeans I can’t help but still feel my old self.  I look in the mirror and all I can find is the flaws.  So, why do I remember feeling so good 50lbs ago and now I don’t feel as good about myself?  I suppose it is my perception that still being heavy at 170 was so much better than being 255lbs. But, now being a normal 125lbs, is so unreal to me and a goal I just never believed I could get to and stay at that my brain cannot wrap around the fact that I am there.  I am done.  I am thin.  I am healthy.  I have stamina.  I don’t get sick as much.  I don’t feel like the pink elephant in the room that everyone is looking at while trying to avoid all at the same time.  I have more courage.  I want to encourage others and be there for others so they can understand what the next year will bring for them.  I speak at support groups when others have questions about something and crave an answer from someone who has been there. I needed someone like me when I was just starting.

I volunteered to be a patient advocate last night.  I have to go through all the steps to be officially declared a hospital volunteer then I can work with patients who have just had surgery.  Since I don’t have the means to go back to school to do this officially (or the many years it would take!!)  this is the next best thing.  I can use the experiences to bring back here to share also.  And I can lead people here to read and maybe they will find what they are feeling and experiencing is normal.

In the meantime, I still work on myself all the time.  I tell myself I do look good (minus the loose skin) and I am so much better in so many ways.  I have a whole new outlook on life.  I HAVE changed.  And no matter how many times I say to people “I have not changed at all”  I know that I have.  I have not changed WHO I am!  I am still me.  I still love everyone I did before.  I am still a natural helper.  I still cry at commercials. I still love sappy movies.  I am still a good friend!  But, I have changed for the better in my health and well being.  I have changed how I eat and how I look at food and my relationship with it.  Basically, we broke up.  I use it to live only – except for the occasional treat, which is NOTHING like a “treat” used to be!  I can sit and ask myself if I am actually needing nourishment or if I am just looking for something to do.  I can stop myself from bad choices.  I have changed in that I stand in the fridge with it open saying “Do I want a salad or some fruit for a snack”  Instead of chocolate or vanilla ice cream or a brownie.  My brain is disconnected from food bringing me any comfort, joy  or help.  I can do that on my own now.  I can go to one of my many support systems in place instead.  It’s all in the perception of how you want to live life now.

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Something happened to a friend of mine this week that set me off. She wanted to join a weight loss group and was told she could not join because she was “cheating”  Are you freakin kidding me?!?!?  If you do not know what the hell you are talking about then SHUT UP STUPID and do not speak!!!

How is she cheating you ask?  She had gastric bypass surgery so now this person labeled her as a cheater.  Anyone who has had this surgery or is close to someone who has had it can tell you that no one chooses to have this surgery to cheat.  No one is too lazy to lose weight so they just throw up their arms and say “well hell, I will just do the easy thing and have surgery!”  Easy??  If anyone EVER says you took the “easy way out” so me a favor and pop them square in the mouth.  Would you tell a cancer patient who is getting chemo that they just “cheated” the cancer by having chemo and took the easy way out of it.  What about a heart surgery patient?  Well, you cheated by getting open heart surgery to fix your life threatening problem.  Makes no sense does it??  Same way telling someone gastric bypass surgery is easy or cheating.  It is a last resort for everyone and a life saving procedure for many many people.

Easy—if you call liquid diets, 6 months to 3 years of preparations, doctor appointments, lab tests over and over, sleep studies, group meetings, nutritionist meetings, insurance calls and paperwork, getting your insides completely re-worked and never having another “normal” day of eating the rest of your life easy, then by all means–you go right ahead and keep up that closed minded way of thinking.  Maybe this is why YOU are in a weight loss group and bitch and moan that you cannot lose weight, because your mind is so closed you cannot realize that your way of thinking has to change and everything you do from now on for the REST.OF.YOUR.LIFE.  has to change also.

You have to attend a lifetime of support groups.  You have to see a Doctor several times a year and then at least once a year for the rest of your life. You have to have bloodwork every single year-if not more often.  You have to learn which vitamins to take, how many, which are the best for you and what you need and you have to do it for -say it with me – the rest of your life.  You will learn the protein content of every food ever grown or produced.  You will know how much sugar is in every thing you lay your eyes on.  You will learn if an egg makes you throw up and feel like hell and how much out of a small cup of yogurt you can actually eat until you have to stop.  You will make sure you have a snack on you at all times in case you get stuck somewhere and cannot eat within 3-4 hours.  You will learn how to get in water and hydration every single day of your life to keep you healthy.  You will re-learn how to shop for clothes, shows and undergarments because you have no idea what sizes with one digit in them even mean or where to find them.  You will figure out which restaurants you simply will never eat at again because they have nothing healthy on the menu and they use to many secret additives to their foods which make you ill.  You learn what it means to actually live your life instead of watching other people live it while you sit out watching them.

Now- go back and think again about what you are saying to people and how it makes them feel.  Think before you speak or SHUT UP!

My friend, Beth over at http://www.theangelforever.com/ always posts a Dear Kid Saturday post as started at http://www.cutestkidever.org.  I would totally do a button for the latter if I can figure out how!  Anyhow, I would like to start partaking in this ritual to keep some memories alive!!

Dear Jenna,

This past Monday you started second grade.  I don’t know how you managed to turn 7 years old this summer already, but you did!  I keep asking you to slow down and I know you would if you could to stay small enough to curl up in my lap all the time.  I love our night time cuddles on my pillow so we can talk about your day.  I love even more how you miss it if it looks like I am not going to do it that night.

This Tuesday, one day into school, you promptly got sick!  For days (until Saturday) you ran a pretty high fever (going up to 104.8 more than once) and had a bit of a sore throat.  After two trips to the Doctor I was assured it was just a virus.  It was a stressful week for you as well as for Mama since I was so worried about you.

Now that you are feeling better we have plans to enjoy the rest of the Holiday weekend.  Tomorrow is going to be a picnic at Nana’s house for the Labor Day holiday.  We will then come home, have a bath, decide on lunches for the week, make sure your back pack and clothes are ready for Tuesday because we will be busy on Monday.  As we have been trying to do all summer, we are heading to Dorney Park.  We were going on Thursday but your illness stopped our plans.  We will arrive soon after they open at 10am and we will try to leave by 5:00 so we can get home and washed up and ready for bed for a 4 day school week.  I am so happy we get to take you because if there is any place in the world that you get the most out of a trip it is a place with rides.  I call you my “wild woman” because the higher, faster and crazier the ride the more you love it.  I don’t know where you get the thrill seeker from.  It is not from mama, that is for sure.  I am glad so much about life does not scare you and that you take life by the horns and ride it with all your might.  I pray that you live the rest of your life in such a way so you never have regrets.

Jenna Bee, I love you more than you can know.

Love, Mama

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By snacks, I don’t mean – oh I feel like grazing and eating when I should not so let me have a snack.  I am talking about having 3 meals and a snack or 6 small meals like I sort of do…so a few small meals in a day would equal a “snack” to a lot of people.  Most of these are high protein which will keep you on track, fuller and not wanting for something bad.

  • Beef Jerky – believe it or not, this is one thing that was easy for me to eat/digest early on.  It is loaded with protein and makes you full with just a couple pieces.  It is high in sodium but if you are drinking enough it won’t bother you.
  • Cottage cheese.  This is a good meal additive, snack and addition to a lot of meals like pasta w/sauce.  I put some cottage cheese in mine to protein it up.  I throw it in a salad now and then.  Mix it with tuna.- which is a good protein source itself.
  • Nuts.  Mixed nuts. Peanuts.  Almonds. Cashews.  All nuts fill you in just a serving and are a good protein source.
  • Detour Bars.  You have to watch because there are a lot of different types, but they make a low sugar, peanut caramel flavor that have 30 grams of protein per bar.  If you are early out of your surgery you will not want to eat the whole bar but eventually this can be a small meal replacement snack.
  • South Beach bars.  There is a peanut butter flavor and a cinnamon/raisin.  The cinnamon flavor is amazing heated up for a few seconds in the microwave.  Watch these when picking them to so you are sure to get the protein bars.
  • Apple cut up with peanut butter.  I use the reduced fat Jif and usually only have 1/2 a serving
  • Half a banana (early on) or whole (later on if you can handle natural sugars ok) with a little PB.  I like to put a spoon of PB on a plate and soften it a bit in the microwave to make it easier to dip the banana in.  Very satisfying.
  • Deviled Eggs.  Obviously a high protein choice, easy to take along to work or in a cooler.  Filling.  Easy to make and cheap.  I do use the Eggland’s best so they cost a little more, but any egg will work.  Light mayo or miracle whip.
  • Turkey bacon.  Good to top a salad with, have for a light protein breakfast or just a snack.  Again with the sodium but not eating it everyday is fine.
  • Popcorn.  Get the 98% fat free and get the personal size bags if you worry about eating too much.  This helps your crunchy need, salt need, and goes down nice in the belly.
  • Gold fish/low fat cheese it type crackers.  Again, good to satisfy your need for something crunchy that is not a chip, has some protein, filling and goes down nice on the belly.
  • Oatmeal.  I love a packet of oatmeal made with water and then a little fat free lactose free milk on it with some splenda.  This is a good complex carb for your breakfast or later day snack.
  • Yogurt.  Watch your sugars and test out what you are able to eat.  I could eat 1/4 container of yogurt in the mornings for about 8 months.  I have recently (after 15+ months) progressed to almost a whole cup.
  • Pudding.  Jello brand – and I am sure others – make sugar free puddings and mouse cups ready to eat.  Yummy and a good chocolate fix.
  • Applesauce.  I love the Musselman brand- it is sweetened with Splenda.  I have it whenever I make pork and some other times when I just want a little something yummy.

Feel free to comment on other snacks you have found are good on your tummy, filling and a good protein source!

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With nearly 22 million school days lost each year due to the common cold and flu (CDC) and as many as 2.7 million bacterial found per square inch on common school surfaces (NSF International), it´s no wonder that 82 percent of parents with kids in grades K-5 fret about the germs in their children´s classrooms (according to a survey conducted by Seventh Generation).

This school year, Seventh Generation is sharing tips from best-selling author and pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene, to help parents protect their child´s health during back-to-school season. Dr. Greene suggests taking the following precautions:

Optimize the immune systemThe Seventh Generation “Back-to-School” kit includes a Seventh Generation backback, two canisters of Seventh Generation disinfecting wipes (one for home and one to donate to your child’s classroom), disinfecting multi-surface spray cleaner, facial tissue and paper towels.

  • Reap the benefits of probiotics like those found in yogurt. A recent study showed that children who received enough probiotics daily throughout the cold and flu season had a significant reduction in the number of illnesses they had and, when they did get sick, the symptoms were both milder and didn’t last as long.

  • Be sure your child is getting plenty of vitamin D from the sun, from food, or from a supplement.

  • Build a strong foundation. Good food, good sleep, and good physical activity all help the immune system to flourish.

Help to fight nasty germs! Enter to #win a Back-To-School Kit from @TheAngelForever and @SeventhGen http://bit.ly/c3DKMZ #myblogspark