Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What A Difference One Year Makes!

Yesterday, I celebrated one year since I began the SlimFast diet that proceeded my surgery. Even though I had surgery on the 23rd, I've always considered the 14th as the day I started down this weight-loss journey, since that is when I really started to lose weight. Heck, I lost almost 20 lbs the 10 days before my surgery! Boy, I'm glad I don't have to relive those 10 days. It would've helped if I would've read my instructions properly and known that I could drink 6 cans a day instead of the 3 I chugged down. 600 calories a day just isn't enough. I was so listless by the end of that period. Listless and totally sick of sweetness - I craved anything savory! To this day, I haven't fully regained my sweet tooth, though it's still quite present. :)

A year later, I've now lost 141 lbs, as of yesterday. 141 Pounds!! Isn't that crazy? Seriously, I know people who weigh 140 lbs. It's like I was walking around with one of those people strapped to my back. No wonder I have so much more energy now and everything is so much easier to do! I now weigh 210 lbs. I can't believe I'm only 11 lbs away from weighing under 200! Holy cow! I'm so excited to reach that goal.

Losing that much weight has really changed me. I didn't really think it would, if you can believe it, but it has. I mean, I'm still overweight, but I now realize how much being that heavy affected me. I didn't realize that I was slowly becoming a hermit because of it. I just thought I was going through a phase. Since losing the weight, I've learned to be good to myself. I certainly never would have spontaneously decided to fly to Paris if I still weighed 300+ lbs - I would have worried about being too uncomfortable in the airplane seats...among other concerns. I've always felt comfortable meeting new people, but deep down, I wondered what they thought about me and my weight. Especially guys. I placed restrictions on myself - I hesitated to do things because I worried that I'd look silly or wouldn't be able to do it because of my weight. And, restrictions were placed on me because of my weight - I was too heavy to go horseback riding on one of my cruises!

I'm a million times (hyperbole alert!) healthier than I used to be. Not that I had a lot of health complications because of my weight, but they were creeping up. Just the month before my surgery, my blood pressure was just above normal. It has since settled to around 115/78. I now exercise almost every day and have even started to RUN! I don't get heartburn any more...I used to get it almost daily and now it's been a year since I have!

Having lap band surgery saved my life. I'm sure physically (hopefully I won't die before reaching 40 now!) but also by letting me get back to who I am. Stripping away the fat has let me see me again.


What a difference a year makes!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Virtual Route 13 and Small Success #7

Still plugging along on my way to NYC. Have you voted on when you think I'll actually arrive? If not, the poll is on my sidebar.

Here's where I am right now. As always, you'll need to click on the picture to actually see anything.



















I am thrilled to finally make it to Iowa! I love crossing into new states, especially since I've never really been to Iowa. Makes me want to go. Maybe someday I'll drive this virtual route. Wouldn't that be fun?!

Stats:
Start date of this leg: 11.01.09
# of days traveled: 26
# of stationary days: 4
Miles traveled: 95.2
Hours on the road: 23.75
Calories burned: 12,026
Total miles traveled: 1150
Miles 'til NYC: 1206.6

Thoughts:
This was a good exercise month. I worried as the weather turned colder that I would struggle to exercise, since walking outside is my favorite exercise. However, I think that dilemma has been solved; a friend and I started walking at the college indoor track together in the mornings. With the mornings being as dark as they are, I'd never be able to get myself out of bed at 6:10 am to go walking, especially if I had to drive somewhere first. Knowing that she's waiting for me is the push I need not only to get out of bed, but also to get to bed at a decent time the night before.

As far as my goals, I accomplished the goal of walking 15 times in the morning and of only missing 4 days of exercise! Woohoo! That morning number should go up with my new morning routine, so I'm not even going to worry about it as a goal for next month. I'm bummed that I missed the 100 mile mark by just a few miles; this month I'll have to make sure I go further when I exercise. I only managed three two-a-days, four short of my goal. Sigh. I've got to try harder.

I'm running longer periods now that I'm running around a track and can measure how far I'm running. I've been averaging about a mile a morning of running and 1.5 to 2 miles of walking, running one lap followed by one or two laps of walking. Yesterday, however, I had a Small Success - I ran 6 laps without stopping! I decided to see how far I could go before I couldn't run any more, and 6 is what I got. That's over 1/2 a mile! That's two times around a normal track! And, I didn't stop at that, I continued to run 2 laps at a time and ended up running 1.6 miles and walking 1 mile. It's the first day that I ran more than I walked. Woohoo! In case you don't remember from last month, here are my running goals:

1. Run once around the track (or 1/4 of a mile) without stopping. DONE!
2. Run a mile without stopping.
3. Run a 5k without stopping.

I really enjoy running. It feels amazing to have my body working so fluidly. I find myself looking forward to running again, though it's still hard dragging myself out of bed that early. My knees hurt a little bit after I've finished for the morning, especially since I have to go down a couple flights of stairs, but they don't hurt while I'm running and they feel fine by the time I get home. And, I think running has kick-started my weight loss again! All in all, I'm very pleased.

Next Month's Goals:
1. Only miss 4 days and travel 100+ miles. Totally do-able if I exert enough effort.

2. Have 7 "two-a-days". There's no reason I can't do this. I just need to make more time in the evenings.

3. Run a mile without stopping. Why not incorporate my running goals into my monthly goals? This may be a little lofty, but I know that I'll be able to accomplish it one day.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Do I Look Different?

Monday evening, I went to the university gym with some friends to play wallyball. I ran into my coworker's husband who I see on a fairly regular basis, though it had been a few weeks since the last time. We chatted for several minutes, then I rejoined my friends and had a fun-filled evening.

The next morning, I mentioned seeing her husband at the gym, and my coworker said he hadn't recognized me! He said my voice was familiar but my looks weren't. He said it took him a few moments to realize who I was. I couldn't believe it!

Do I really look that different?

Logically, I know I must - I've lost 134 lbs to-date - how could I look the same? I definitely feel different. I have more energy and feel lighter. And yet, when I look in the mirror, I don't think I look so different that someone who knows me fairly well (like my coworker's husband) wouldn't recognize me.

I mean, I'm glad that I look different...that's one of the goals I had hoped to achieve with the band. It's just funny to me that people tell me I look so different and I think I look the same. I guess my brain just needs time to catch up with my changing body. *grin*

Friday, November 13, 2009

Slowing Down?

Sigh.

Since February I've been losing an average of 10 lbs a month. I feel good about that amount - not so much as to be unhealthy but enough to keep me motivated and excited about my progress. There have been some rough patches along the way where I stay the same for awhile, but never longer than two weeks, then the numbers plunge down and I still end up losing about 10 lbs for the month.

Something has changed.

I've lost just 5 lbs since the beginning of October - a month and a half ago! Don't get me wrong, I'm glad the numbers on the scales are still going down, but it makes me wonder what's going on. Have I hit a plateau that is supposedly natural? Or, have I strayed far enough from the path I'm supposed to be on that it's affecting my weight loss? Because I have strayed. Quite a bit sometimes.

I still exercise a lot, about 6 days a week. And that's just the "formal" exercise I do like walking or riding my bike. I'm a lot more active than I once was - not just sitting around watching tv or reading. I'm up and doing things. I recently played wallyball for the first time and loved it! I feel really good about my activity level, and my level of activity makes me feel really good. *smile*

Typical of me, it's food that's doing me in. I still eat really small portions - my mind can't wrap itself around anything larger - but it's WHAT I eat that is killing me. Definitely a lot more carbs than I should eat...and not good carbs like vegetables. I'm talking about bread, pasta, and sweets. I know what caused this gradual trend away from solid, lean protein, but I can't make any excuses. I know I have to get back on track, but have you ever noticed how much harder it is to go back to doing something good than it is to stay doing good things and never straying? *Oh the possible life analogies!!!*

So, I know part of the slowing down is my fault, but I wonder if it's possible that I've hit a natural plateau. I've lost over 130 lbs in less than a year - does the body need a bit of time to adjust to that? I've heard a lot of stories about the last pounds being harder to lose than the first. I had hoped that I wouldn't hit a serious plateau until 150 lbs lost - that would put me at weighing under 200 lbs. Oh well. My first plan of attack is to get back on track with my eating. If that doesn't kick start the weight loss again, I'll figure out what to do next.

On a happy note, even though I haven't lost much weight in the past 45 days, I'm losing inches from my body. No, I've never measured, so I don't know this exactly, but the new clothes I bought at the beginning of October are fitting more loosely than they did when I bought them. For example, my jeans are almost to the point where I can slide them down without unzipping them. A button-up shirt my mom gave me used to be kind of tight around my hips and stomach, now it hangs quite loosely. Woohoo!

I'm a silver lining kind of gal.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Virtual Route 12

To be honest, I'm amazed sometimes how long I've lasted at recording my exercise. This virtual journey has really helped. Now, if only I could come up with something that motivates me to journal my food intake. Oh well. Here's my latest progress:


















And, because I didn't really accomplish anything "fun" this trip, here is a picture of the whole trip so far. You'll definitely have to click on the picture to do it justice.


















Stats:
Start date of this leg: 10.01.09
# of days traveled: 24
# of stationary days: 7
Miles traveled: 100.4
Hours on the road: 18.5
Calories burned: 9,217
Total miles traveled: 1054.8
Miles 'til NYC: 1301.8

Thoughts:
I definitely struggled this month. I accomplished just one of my goals from last month - traveling over 100 miles. I didn't even come close to my other goals; only exercised 8 mornings, only 3 days of exercising more than once, and missed 7 days. I'm glad that there's room for improvement, it gives me something to shoot for for next month.

Seriously, exercising in the morning has to become a priority! My evenings are so busy and promise to become even busier now that the holiday season is upon us. Plus, I'm a Pampered Chef consultant now - putting on cooking shows contributed to three of the days I missed because I didn't exercise the morning of the show. In order to wake up early enough to ride my bike, I have GOT to start going to bed earlier. Isn't it amazing how easy it is to break good habits? I remember when my lights were off by 11pm and I was consistently waking up at 6:30 to walk. Sigh. Those were the days. *smile*

On a positive note, I've started to run. I've wanted to run for years! I loved the idea of my whole body working so efficiently and smoothly, the wind blowing my hair. I sometimes wondered if the idea was better than the actual running would be since it had been so very long since the last time I had run (think middle school). So far, running is as good as I always dreamed it could be.

Please don't misunderstand me, I'm not talking about lengthy runs. I just run a little bit each time I go for a walk. So far, I haven't figured out the distance I'm able to run before stopping. However, I've noticed that I'm able to run a lot longer than I could at the beginning of the month. My legs feel so good after running, it makes me excited to run again! I have three running goals for the future:

1. Run once around the track without stopping.
2. Run a mile without stopping (4x around the track).
3. Run a 5k (3.2 miles) without stopping

I don't know when I'll accomplish these goals, but I'll definitely let you know when I do. In the meantime, I'm loving having something new to do. If only winter wasn't coming. I'm not looking forward to exercising indoors. Oh well.

Next Month's Goals:
1. Only miss 4 days and travel 100+ miles. Totally do-able if I exert enough effort.

2. Have 7 "two-a-days". This one is kind of tricky, but I really do believe I can accomplish it.

3. Exercise 15 times in the morning. I lowered the number of times, but it's still pretty lofty considering my current situation. I'm trying to shoot for the stars. *smile*

Thursday, October 22, 2009

If My Name Was Stan...

...I'd be "Stan with a Plan".

My name isn't Stan, though, and "Julie with a Plan" doesn't have the same ring to it. Unfortunately.

I do have a plan, however.

I'm failing when it comes to eating properly. If I weren't so devoted to exercising, I'd probably be in big trouble. So, I'm glad that I'm not in big trouble, but I know I could be doing even better if I was more faithful to eating the way my doctor recommends. To that end, I have made goals (aka, a plan) to help me get back to those recommendations.

1. No Snacking. I seriously struggle with this one, especially at work or if I'm home alone past 9pm. It's not that I'm actually hungry, I'm bored and decide to grab a quick snack. Fortunately, my snacks aren't very horrible (mostly tootsie rolls and peanuts) but the calories can quickly add up. So, for the next 30 days (starting today), I'm making a goal of no eating between meals. Yes, there will be the occasional exception, but as long as they remain an Exception instead of a Rule.

2. Protein. When my band was too tight the past couple months, I really steered away from lean protein. I couldn't eat very much of it without becoming too full, so I started to eat "softer" foods. Mmm. I love "soft" foods! Think bread, desserts, pasta, couscous - carbs basically. Now that my band has been loosened a bit, lean protein sits better with me, but I'm still eating more carbs than I should. So, I'm going to eat my portion of protein first, then if there's room, I'll eat a little something extra.

3. Water. It is so hard to get enough water if I don't stay focused on it. I wait for the 30 minutes after breakfast, but I get busy and then it's almost lunch, so I don't drink anything until after lunch. However, I get busy after lunch and it's mid-afternoon before I finally drink some water. I guzzle it down until I leave work, then I exercise and drink some more afterward, but then I get so busy that I don't drink the whole rest of the night! I need to make a more concerted effort to get in my 64 oz of water every day. I'm still not sure how I'm going to do it, but I've found that if I focus on making sure I'm drinking water, I tend to drink more water, ironically enough. *smile*

They seem like simple enough goals/plans, right? It's not like I'm committing to drink nothing but Slim Fast for 10 days! That, my friends, was hard. If I could do that, I can do anything.

I just have to keep reminding myself of that.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Small Success #6

I'm totally out of control.

Let me correct that...I've totally been out of control lately, but hopefully I'm back in control. Otherwise, my bank account is really going to suffer.

Ever since I bought new clothes at the beginning of the month, I've wanted to buy more clothes. The smaller jeans are what killed me. After getting a taste of how it feels to wear clothes that fit (it feels GREAT, by the way), it was really hard to wear clothes that were too big. And, my work clothes were really, really big on me. I'd wear these cute, smaller tops then big baggy pants or skirts. It looked funny.

This past weekend, I traveled to Vegas for a cousins weekend. Had a really good time with my cousins. And, highly unusual for us, we did a bit of shopping. I really wanted to buy a couple new skirts and maybe a pair of dress pants, but I couldn't find any that were my style, so I bought a couple tops and two bras instead. *smile*

However, on the way home from Vegas, I stopped at Dress Barn and found exactly the kind of skirts I wanted! Woohoo! I tried on a size 20 and it fit. I was thrilled! My previous skirts were size 26s. However, I hadn't realized that one of the fun skirts I had grabbed (not really the style I want for work, but it was way cute) was actually a size 18. I tried it on anyway, just to see how close I was. It fit perfectly! Lots better than the 20. It didn't pinch anywhere, I could move/sit/walk/stand/bend comfortably, and it looked good (if I do say so myself). So, I tried on 18s for the two skirts I wanted for work and they fit perfectly too! Woohoo!

That's not all. When I went out to pick up the size 18s, I noticed the clearance rack. I decided to look for black dress pants. The only ones I liked in 18s were black with a fairly thick white pinstripe. I decided to try them on anyway. They hung on me! I ended up finding and buying two pairs of all-black dress pants in a size 16!!! They are so comfortable - not at all a tight fit. I almost started to cry in the dressing room. I haven't worn a size 16 since high school. At my heaviest, I couldn't wear my size 26 dress pants, they were too small. Oh, and my new pants were only $6 a piece! Woohoo!

To top it off, I bought new shoes. The skirts especially needed cute shoes - they aren't straight, boring skirts like my old ones. My favorite skirt is gray with a bit of a flair at the bottom. My old, scuffed up, flat Mary Janes are great for administering hearing tests, but they would totally kill the cute buzz created by the skirt! How's that for rationalization? *smile* Oh, and my new shoes are two sizes smaller than what I wore at my heaviest! Who knew that even my feet would get skinnier?

To summarize, because I know I tend to babble: 1) size 18 skirts, 2) size 16 pants, and 3) size 8 shoes.

I think I'm done buying clothes for a bit. It's been expensive (don't ask how much I spent on the bras!), but I feel great wearing my new clothes. And, I'm getting a lot more compliments about how I look. My old, huge clothes hid how much my body has changed.

And, I'm worth the splurge.

*smile*

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Small Success #5

Do you remember me mentioning how frustrated I get with my clothes situation? I really hate the thought of spending money on clothes when I'm hopefully not going to be able to wear them for very long. However, lately I've become very unhappy with wearing clothes that don't fit me - that drown me. My pants barely stay up even with the help of a belt!

After some thought, today I went shopping. I gave myself a modest budget to spend on some new clothes. I ended up buying 2 pairs of jeans, a coat, a hoodie, 2 sweaters, and 3 nice shirts. A couple of the shirts are a little snug but wearable AND I'll be able to wear them even longer because of it. I was so excited about new jeans that fit, that as soon as I got to my dad's house after leaving the store, I immediately changed into them. What a difference!

Here's the great part: I bought some of the shirts in the normal clothes section! Not the plus size section! I don't know how long it has been since I've been able to do that. I started out in the plus size section out of habit. It wasn't until I was getting ready to go that I realized I could theoretically fit into clothes in the regular clothes section. I picked up a shirt, took it to the changing room, put it on, and it fit! I just stood in front of the mirror amazed and ever so pleased. I ended up getting a few shirts and the coat from this section.

I still smile about the whole thing - it definitely took the edge off of spending money on new clothes! *smile*

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Virtual Route 11

I'm back with another edition of "Where's Julie?" Be honest, that's a slightly better title than "Virtual Route ____", right? That's what I thought. Oh well, it's too late to change titles now.


















I'm making pretty good time through Nebraska. I'm thinking I may get close to crossing into Iowa next month. We'll see. I love "watching" the cities go by. I've never heard of most of them and can't help wondering what they really look like. I wonder who lives there and what they are doing with their lives. Little do they know that some girl in Utah has just "traveled" through their town.

Anyway, on to the important bit - the Stats!

Stats:

Start date of this leg: 9.1.09
# of days traveled: 26
# of stationary days: 4 - woohoo!
Miles traveled: 107.6
Hours on the road: 23.5
Calories burned: 11,142
Total miles traveled: 954.4
Miles 'til NYC: 1402.2

Boy, I'm getting so close to New York that I can almost see the Empire State Building! Okay, so not really, but I've definitely made progress.

Thoughts:
I'm thrilled about accomplishing 2 of my goals from previous months! It took quite an effort to only miss 4 days of exercising, but that was the point of making it a goal - to encourage me to make the effort. Missing so few days really helps me achieve the goal of traveling 100+ miles. Now, I'm going to work on the goal that I didn't accomplish. I'm slowly getting back into the habit of going to bed at an earlier time. It usually takes my body awhile to realize it is getting enough sleep and can wake up at 6:30 to go for a walk or bike ride. I have high hopes for this next month.

I really enjoy exercising. Probably because I've chosen activities I enjoy doing. I love walking. I wish I lived somewhere that allowed for walking outside year-round. Oh well. Ever since I moved a tv in front of my stationary bike, I feel more inclined to ride it if I can't make it out for a walk. I'm sad that the weather is turning colder; I'll miss playing tennis, walking outside, and hiking. Really, I just need to find some fun cold weather activities!

Overall, a good month. I am definitely accomplishing my goals and can see room for improvement, which motivates me to keep working hard.

Next Month's Goals:
1. Exercise in the morning at least 18 times. In September, I logged 13 mornings.

2. Have 7 "two-a-days" during the month. This is 2 times more than I did in September.

3. The ever-present goals of missing 4 days or less of exercise and traveling 100+ miles.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Stating the Obvious

So, you may have noticed that I changed my blog design. Yeah, my old design was pretty boring, so I decided to jump on the pretty-blog bandwagon. I've put off doing so for months, but now that I'm on, I'm enjoying the view. It was pretty fun looking at the different layouts and deciding which one best fit with my blog personality.

You may have also noticed that the poll results changed. Yeah, for some reason that is beyond my limited understanding of blog layouts, my poll wouldn't transfer over to this new layout. So, I put it up again after I changed the layout. Please vote again, knowing that I didn't redo the poll because I wasn't pleased by the results.

That's it, really.

Happy Friday!

Monday, September 14, 2009

On Eating: I'm Glad I'm Me

I recently answered questions posed by friends about how I manage to live with the restrictions imposed on me by the Lap band. As I answered the questions, I realized I'm glad I'm me. If I weren't, this process could be a little more difficult.

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1. I love leftovers. Seriously, I think they are the best things since sliced bread. Wait, I take that back. I actually prefer bread that doesn't come pre-sliced, but you know what I meant. To me, leftovers = wonderfulness. Ofttimes, a meal tastes better after being reheated. Most casseroles. Some pasta. Meat, if you don't overcook it the first time around.

Even before my surgery, I ate a lot of leftovers. I love to cook but find it difficult to cook for just me. So, I'd cook as if feeding a family, then eat leftovers until the food was gone, or when 7 days had passed (I won't eat something that is older than 7 days). I can easily eat the same thing for lunch and dinner several days in a row.

This really helps with my surgery. Even if I had mastered the cooking-for-one mentality, I'd still have leftovers. Lately, it takes me three meals to finish one chicken breast. Imagine how long it takes me to eat a whole meatloaf! (A week, actually, since I'll throw away whatever is left after 7 days, weren't you paying attention?) When I go out to eat, I end up eating those leftovers for a good 3 or 4 meals. It saves me a lot of money and time.

I can't imagine how hard it would be if I didn't like leftovers. Talk about wasting a lot of food!

2. I like meat. I know people from the online WLS community that are vegetarians and they do fine with the high protein aspect of the diet, but they have to get creative. I'm not creative. I like that I can eat meat to get the necessary protein.

I can really tell a difference when I'm not getting enough protein. I feel sluggish. A little dizzy. This summer was tough. I could eat more food because my band was pretty loose. So, I started eating a lot of non-protein foods again. However, since I was able to eat fairly big (for me) portions, I felt okay. Now my band is tighter, maybe even a tad too tight, and I can't eat very large portions of anything. If I don't stick to meat or other protein-rich foods, I can tell that I don't get enough calories and nutrients. I think it even started to affect my period; I was two weeks late this month. If I were sexually active, I would've been freaking out. As it was, I was just kind of freaking out because I'm usually really regular. My mom was the one who suggested it could be because of my diet. I know I've been quite lax on the protein lately, so now I'm committed to getting in the recommended amounts.

Like I said earlier, it would be a lot harder if I couldn't just cook up a chicken breast, fish, or a nice juicy steak in order to get my protein fix.

3. I don't like soda. A lot of WLS patients struggle with the no soda rule. The carbonation causes the stomach to expand, allowing for more food to be eaten, and can eventually negate the surgery. Plus, soda is just a bunch of empty calories. Now, I'm not trying to convince all you soda drinkers to stop drinking it...I know a hopeless cause when I see it (teehee). I'm just grateful that soda was never something I really got into.

I thank my high school volleyball coach for that. He made us give it up if we wanted to be on the team. So I did. Over the years, I'll have the occasional soda. I especially enjoy a ginger ale every now and then. However, the times I drank soda were few and far between. I didn't have to give it up when I had my surgery. Woohoo!

*********************

Not that everything is totally easy-cheesy about the band. I started "practicing" not drinking water with my meals a good two months before my surgery and still find it difficult. Yep, almost one year of not doing it and I could take up that habit again as easily as blinking. If I have something to distract me, it isn't too terrible, but if I don't, I count down the minutes before I can drink water again. And then, because my band is a smidgen too tight, I can't gulp it down like I'd like or I'll end up regretting it (regretting = throwing up).

Restaurants are especially difficult because they place the water right in front of me. With ice. And a straw. Sadists! Just after my surgery, when asked what I'd like to drink, I'd tell the waiter/waitress that I didn't want anything to drink. Not even water, they'd query. I'd say no, they'd look at me funny, ask me if I was sure, then walk away like I was some sort of weirdo. It wasn't worth it. So, now I practice uncharacteristic self-restraint by ordering the one beverage I love more than any other, the beverage that is totally off-limits while eating, and allow it to rest provocatively near my hand while I wait for my food to be delivered. (You see, I can't drink for 30 minutes before or after eating either.)

********************

When all is said and done, though, getting used to my new eating lifestyle hasn't been as difficult as I thought it would be. Mostly, this is due to how I lived and ate before the surgery. I'm so glad I'm me. *smile*

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Small Success #4

Mom and I went on an impromptu walk last night that ended in an unexpected adventure.

I was getting a little stir-crazy in my house and decided to take a quick walk around the neighborhood. As I passed close to Mom's house, I decided to stop in to see how her kitchen was looking and to ask if she wanted to join me on my walk.

After looking at everything in her kitchen that had been accomplished since the last time I'd seen it, we headed out on the walk. I had planned to go around the neighborhood, but she suggested we take the walking trail instead since it was getting quite dark. I agreed. After a little while, we noticed two women from our church sitting on the trail with glow sticks. We stopped to chat with them and discovered that the 1st Annual Moon Walk and Run was about to start. We learned that for $15 we could walk 1 mile in the moonlight and get movie tickets, a t-shirt, and a glow stick to wear around our necks. Mom and I discussed it and decided to do it. Since the organizers know Mom, they let us walk without paying; we promised to pay them on Sunday.

Here's where the small success comes in. As we were signing up, a volunteer asked us what size shirt we wanted. This question at events such as these always cause me agony because it's rare that they have a shirt that would fit me. I always ask for the largest shirt possible (usually a 3x) and more often than not even the 3x is tight around my chest and hips. I looked at the volunteer and said I didn't need a shirt - why go through the humiliation? Then I remembered that I've lost weight. A lot of weight. I glanced over at Mom and asked what size shirt she thought I should get. She had the volunteer hold up a 1x so she could gauge how big it was, then pronounced that we'd both get a 1x.

A 1x??? Was she insane? I don't wear 1x's. A 2x maybe, but not a 1x! I took the shirt, figuring I could hold on to it until I've lost a little more weight, so it wouldn't be a total waste. Mom pulled her shirt on over the shirt she was already wearing and encouraged me to do the same. Yikes! I hate trying on clothes and having them end up too small - talk about a confidence deflator!

Sighing, I pulled it on and it fit! It even fit over my 3x, way-too-big-for-me shirt! I thought I'd start crying, it seemed so miraculous. I wear a 1x t-shirt. Woohoo!!!

I need to stop wearing my too big clothes. They are what I've known for so long that it's kind of hard to part with them. And, I hate buying new clothes, I think I've mentioned that before, haven't I? *smile* However, the rush I felt from being able to wear a 1x t-shirt was amazing. It made me realize how far I've come and motivates me to keep pushing forward. Who knows? Maybe someday soon I'll actually fit into a LARGE!

Sigh. That will be awesome.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Virtual Route 10

I'm still plugging along on my trip to New York City. I honestly didn't realize it would take this long to get this far. I mean, I knew it would take awhile, but I thought I'd be closer after 7 months of steady exercising. Oh well. Just for fun, I'm going to put a poll up on my sidebar so you can vote when you think I'll arrive. Again, I stole the idea from Sarah. Without her, I wouldn't have a single good idea. *smile*

Anyhoo, here's where I am:


















As you can see from the picture (if you click on it to enlarge it), I've finally entered Nebraska. I'm pretty excited whenever I enter a new state. It takes so long to get through a state! I'm really looking forward to getting back east; maybe it'll only take me a couple months to exercise my way through some of those smaller states instead of the 4+ it took me to get through Colorado.

Stats:
Start date of this leg: 7.28.09
# of days traveled: 28
# of stationary days: 5 - vast improvement from last month's 12!
Miles traveled: 104.2
Hours on the road: 26.6
Calories burned: 13,595
Total miles traveled: 846.8
Miles 'til NYC: 1509.8

Thoughts:
I definitely feel better with my performance this leg compared to July. I worked really hard to not miss as many days as last month. I didn't quite accomplish my goal of only missing 4 days, but I'm pleased that it was just one day off. I'm also pleased to have accomplished my goal of traveling 100 miles this month, especially since there were several days that I played tennis or racquetball, which I don't count towards my mileage since I don't know how to say how "far" I exercised. It's fun to have some variety, though, and they boost my Calories Burned and Days Traveled, so I'll keep adding them into the mix as often as possible.

Ideally, I'd wake up early every morning and ride my bike or walk, then either play tennis/racquetball or walk every evening. Ideally. The "problem" has been my new friends who are so much fun I stay up late to hang out with them, making it hard to wake up at 6:30. However, they are also the ones with whom I play tennis and racquetball. I just need to get better at saying goodnight earlier. Yeah, wish me luck with that! *smile*

Again, overall I'm pleased with the month. I feel really good and, despite the decreased sleep, feel pretty energetic. Oh, and playing tennis has become so much easier! It's easier to run after balls and even my swing is smoother. I didn't play tennis last year, but I bet I wouldn't have enjoyed it. I was so heavy, I probably wouldn't have been able to play for very long without dying of a heart attack. And, I know I wouldn't have liked racquetball - it takes quite a bit of energy and I wouldn't have had it. Now I love it! I can't help but think about how much better I'll be as I practice AND as I get even lighter! Something to work towards, definitely.

Next Month's Goals:
1. Miss 4 days or fewer. This is such a do-able goal! I'm going to accomplish this one in September even if it kills me!

2. Travel 100 miles or more for a 2nd month in a row. Really, if I'm ever going to get to NYC, this is going to have to become a regular occurrence.

3. Wake up 4 mornings a week to exercise - 3 times during the week (non-weekend). This is also totally do-able, I'm just not doing it lately. If I wake up to exercise, it'll really help out with goal #1.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Purple Purse and Other Things

Purple Purse
I had decided to stop rewarding myself for 10 lb achievements - it was getting kind of costly - but this morning, when I discovered I'd reached 110 lbs lost, I couldn't help it. I had a doctor's appointment today, so I'd be close to Target, my favorite place to buy purses. I realized that I've had my yellow purse since January or February, so it was definitely time for a new one! teehee. I wanted a purple purse. Or maybe an orange one. I'll decide when I get there. Well, I found identical orange and purple purses and had the toughest time deciding, but I ended up choosing the purple purse because it would go with more of my clothes.

This summer has been tough, and my weight loss really slowed down for a bit. So, I was really happy to reach 110 lbs, especially since I achieved it 5 days before I'd hoped to. I really had to buckle down and get back on the "straight and narrow" in order to do it, so I'm pleased. I deserve a little reward. *smile*

Doctor Appointment
It's been two and a half months since my last visit, and it's been hard. Talking to Dr S helps me a lot because he knows what he's talking about and I trust him. He confirms the things I'm doing right then he steers me to do things that I'm not doing. Things that maybe I didn't need to do until now, when I've reached this point. For example, he's always complimented me on how well I keep up my exercising. Today, he asked me about strength training, and when I told him I don't do it, he encouraged me to add that to my exercise routine. He instructed me on certain exercises, advised me on how to know what weights to get (5lb, 10lb, etc.), and suggested how often I should lift weights. It was really helpful.

When it came time to decide whether or not to get a fill, we talked quite a bit. I really don't want to use the band as a crutch; I want to develop good habits that will last the rest of my life. However, I got the band for a reason, why not use it the way it's intended? Like I said, we discussed it for a long time and he asked me a lot of questions. In the end, we both came to the conclusion that a small fill would be worth a try.

Have I mentioned how much I like my doctor? I do. I can't believe how fortunate I am to have such a great doctor, especially since I didn't research him at all. *sheepish grin* I just went with my gut (pun intended); I guess my gut was right. Too bad I'm doing my best to get rid of it. *smile*

The Fill
This was the worst experience with getting a fill that I've had. A couple times, Dr S was the one who gave me the fill because his nurse practitioner wasn't available. Those were the best times because he's in and out with the needle in a heartbeat. No bruising afterward, no pain, and no nausea. Another NP gave me my first fill, and though not as smooth as Dr S, it still was ok, with minimal pain and nausea afterward. The NP today has worked on me before. She's the one who took out some saline when I entered the Red Zone in March. At that time, she'd only done it a couple times but I was desperate so didn't care that it took a little time for her to find the port. This time was worse.

She couldn't get the needle into the port to save her life. And let me just tell you that after losing 110 lbs, I have a lot less stomach so it's easier to feel the port. She kept saying she could feel the port, but she couldn't get the needle in it. So, she's got the needle in my body, swirling it every which way trying to find the port. Every so often, she'd hit a spot that wasn't numb because it wasn't even close to where the port is, and the pain would make me gasp. Seriously, it was making me nauseous just being able to feel the needle moving around, but at least there wasn't pain...until she hit another spot that hadn't been numbed. Finally, after several minutes, she pulled out the needle and let me relax a bit before she plunged it in for another attempt. More of the same; nausea, pain, pushing out my stomach as far as I could to try to help her find the port - lasting another 5 minutes or so. She took out the needle again, still unsuccessful, and told me she'd try one last time then go get Dr S. I wanted to plead with her not to try again, but I didn't. I'm too nice. After a few minutes of the same, she found the port. Thank heavens!

I now have three small puncture wounds from the three attempts, a growing bruise, and I still feel pretty nauseous and am in quite a bit of pain - 5 hours later! I know nothing has been permanently damaged, it's just going to take my body awhile to recover from the experience. I really want to lie down and not move for a very long time.

Fortunately, the fill wasn't too much, I can eat and drink without a problem. And, I can tell the difference with the amount of restriction I'm getting, and it feels good. It will help me as I work on getting back on track. So, it was worth the horribleness of getting the fill.

That's it. Other than not feeling very well, I feel great. My clothes are falling off of me, literally! I lost my slip at my mom's house last night. Stood up from the table, walked a couple steps, and felt something slip to my ankles. I thought at first that it was my skirt (which is also really loose), but it was "just" my slip. My family thought it was pretty funny. Yeah, well they don't have to buy a new slip. *smile*

Monday, July 27, 2009

Virtual Route 9

Still going, slowly but surely!


















I am so close to crossing into Nebraska! If only I would have had a more productive month. Sigh. More on that later. Here are the stats:

Stats:
Start date of this leg: 6.23.09
# of days traveled: 23
# of stationary days: 12 - *head hung in shame*
Miles traveled: 63.4
Hours on the road: 17.9
Calories burned: 9170
Total miles traveled: 742.6
Miles 'til NYC: 1614

Thoughts:
Summer is tough. It's amazing I managed to exercise as much as I did, I was so busy - and that's not just an excuse for missing so many days. Between work trips, fun trips, people visiting, camping, staying up too late talking to friends and neighbors, and other fun stuff, it's a wonder that I didn't miss more.

Waking up at 6:20 am to walk has become easier to do. There are still mornings when I have to drag myself out of bed, but that's usually due to staying up too late. On the days when I would rather sleep another hour, I warn myself that I've become so busy in the evenings that if I don't walk right then, it won't happen and I'll have more Missed Days on my Stats. Even evenings I think are empty have a way of filling up. I'm not complaining - I'm having lots of fun this summer - it's just something I've come to realize.

The only drawback to walking in the mornings is my hesitation to try a new walk. I know exactly how long it takes me to walk the three routes I normally walk and two of them are the perfect length for the morning. I'd love to try some new routes that Mom has mentioned, but I don't know how long it would take ME to walk them. I'd hate to get going on one and discover that it's taking too long, possibly causing me to be late for work. There's an easy solution to this problem - measuring the routes on Google Earth, like I do for my Virtual Route - but I just came up with it as I typed this paragraph, so I haven't done it yet. *smile* I already know it takes me 45 minutes to walk 2.5 miles, so it'll be easy to go from there. So, I guess there are no drawbacks to walking in the mornings. Woohoo!

Next Month's Goals:
1. Miss less than 4 days. This was last month's goal, too. Yeah, totally didn't happen. I have high hopes for August, though.

2. Travel over 100 miles. Again, last month's goal, but it's such a do-able goal if I really put some effort into exercising every day and twice a day whenever possible.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Two Small Successes and a Big Success

Small Success #2
I didn't have to work on Friday, July 3rd, so I planned to really clean my house in preparation for the arrival of my cousin, Cassie. I still wanted to get in a walk, though, so I woke up a little early for a Saturday and headed out. I have three "walks" to choose from as I step out my door. Since I had a pretty free day, I chose the longer of the three, the 4-mile walk up the trail to East Canyon Park. Well, when I reached the park, I felt like going a little farther, so I decided I'd go to the pavilion at West Canyon Park. As I walked toward the pavilion, I figured I might as well go up the canyon to the bridge. When I got to the bridge, I thought I might as well go all the way to the end of the trail, since I'd gone that far already. I walked the whole walking trail! It had been a goal of mine for a few months, so I'm thrilled to have accomplished it. I walked a total of 2 hours and 7 miles and at the end of the walk, my feet hurt. And, my legs were sore the rest of the day. It was totally worth it, though! I'm hoping to walk the whole trail again someday - if I ever have enough free time to do it!

Small Success #3
Last week, my family arrived for our annual Utah Shakespearean Festival tradition. For more details about the experience, Cassie wrote a great posting here. Ever since I started attending all six performances, I've kind of dreaded the plays showing in the Adams outdoor theatre. It's a great venue for the plays, but I've always been really uncomfortable in the seats - my hips have been too big! This year, being quite a bit thinner, I fit into the seats a whole letter better! They still aren't the most comfortable seats in the world (even for skinny people), but it made a world of difference. I'm excited to be even skinnier for next year!

Big Success
I've now lost 100 lbs! This summer has been rough - no wonder I gained so much weight last year! With all the traveling, the BBQ's, special functions, Shakespeare, etc, it's a wonder I've lost any weight at all. I fell a bit behind my "schedule" of 10 lbs a month by 2 weeks, but I'm still feeling pretty good about where I am. I haven't weighed this little since I returned from my mission over 9 years ago! There are some emerging bad habits that I need to nip in the bud, and I'm confident that I'll be able to do so.

Anyway, here are some pictures:

The Before Shots:
Taken a few days before surgery at my doctor's office
Weight: 351 (WOW!)


(That poor sweater vest - it looks like it's about to pop!)



After Shots:

The beginning of June - 90 lbs lost
(And the two below)





Today - 100 lbs lost
(As of Sunday)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

On Clothes

There are a lot of positive aspects about losing weight. In fact, losing weight is a 98% positive thing. I'm healthier, more energetic, and more attractive (I hope). There's just one thing that kind of bugs me:

My clothes!

I've told you about the clothes that I've had in my closet for years, unable to wear because they were too small, that I can now fit into. Woohoo for those clothes! However, I've neglected to tell you about all the clothes that I've been able to wear for years that are now unwearable (or close to it) because they are too big. And then there are the clothes that are too big (or close to it) that I still wear even though I feel like I'm drowning in them. It's either wear pants that are baggy or not wear pants at all. Honestly, every article of clothing in my closet that is designed to cover my lower half is too big. Miraculously, this morning I stumbled onto a belt (I didn't think I owned any) and it has been a boon. Left to their own devices, the tan pants I'm wearing right now sit low at my hips with the hems of the legs dragging on the ground and the crotch hanging to my knees (or close to it). Now, with the belt, I can keep the waist where it's supposed to be...at my waist. Give Mr(s). Belt Inventor a gold star, please!

I don't think the clothes issue would be so frustrating if I lost weight slowly. I could replace my pants and know I would be able to get a good amount of use from the new pair before they got too big. The pants I wear now, the ones that are so baggy, were purchased the end of April - two months ago! I don't really want to buy new pants just to wear them for 2 months. Not to mention my shirts, shorts, skirts (which are actually holding up a lot better than the pants), and unmentionables. It would cost a fortune. And be a pain.

I'm not a shopper. Even if I took people's advice and bought "new" clothes at a discount store, it would still mean taking the time to go and look for clothes. I hate that. It's one of the reasons I wear something until there are holes in the elbows/knees/collar/whatever, the elastic has stretched beyond recognition, or I've grown out of it. Style is secondary to convenience, and not having to go shopping for new clothes is mega convenient.

Let me be clear - I'm not complaining about losing weight or even about losing weight as quickly as I have. I'm thrilled! It just never really occurred to me that I'd have to get new clothes. I know that sounds stupid, but it's true. Here's what I've decided:

1. No new shorts. The 3 pairs I own are at varying degrees of bagginess but I'm pretty sure they'll all last me through the summer. Even if they get horribly baggy and I have to wear multiple belts to keep them up, I'm not replacing them.

2. No new unmentionables. I'm still not 100% sure of this decision. They are pretty loose currently and I can't imagine what they'll be like when I'm down another 70 or so pounds. However, I just can't see the benefit of buying new unmentionables just to have to replace them in a little while. And, they aren't something I could get at a discount store, even if I wanted to. Which I don't!

3. One new item a month, max. Hopefully this will minimize spending and shopping time but still give me a couple items to wear that actually fit me. I like wearing clothes that fit me. The one outfit that I think fits the best is my favorite because I feel like I can actually tell that I've lost weight. All my baggy clothes hide that fact to varying degrees. So, to sum up, fitting properly = looking skinnier; baggy = not being able to notice as much.

4. Try to lose as much weight as possible as fast as possible so I can wear all the clothes my mom gave me. Okay, this isn't really true. I'm not going to do anything special beyond what I'm currently doing, but I am looking forward to being able to wear the clothes Mom gave me. They are cute, free, and sitting in my spare bedroom, so it will involve no time at all to pull them out when the time comes. They are still a few sizes smaller than where I am, so I have to be patient. It'll be a great day, though, when I can fit into them! Hooray!

To reiterate, I'm a lot happier to be in this position than in the opposite position. Before I had my surgery, my jeans (which have been unwearable for over a month) were getting to the point of being unwearable for a different reason - I was growing out of them! I really didn't want to buy bigger jeans, that is so depressing, and honestly, Wal-Mart didn't sell a bigger size. I felt horrible. So, to be going in the reverse direction feel amazing! Liberating. Joyful. Woohoo!

Just don't be too surprised if you see me with belts around my waist, thighs, and knees to keep my shorts from falling down around my ankles. *smile*

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Little Venting

Please allow me to vent just a little bit. The following vent-ation has little or nothing to do with most of you, if not all of you, which is why I feel comfortable airing out my frustration in this venue.

Lately, there have been a few people who feel they need to comment on what I eat. It's crazy! I get more criticism of what I'm putting in my mouth now than I ever did when I weighed much, much more. For example:

Last week, having had no time to grocery shop, I brought leftover pasta salad (from family festivities) to work for lunch. Seriously, it was the only edible item in my house besides sticks of butter. My boss, coming into my office (the kitchen), scowled at my 1/2 cup of pasta salad and remarked, "I thought you weren't supposed to eat carbs." I brushed off the comment, but it really irritated me. I should have said, "I guess I don't have a personal chef/wife to shop while I work and make all my lunches and dinners for me, so I have to make do with whatever food I have." Grrrr.

This wasn't the first time since my surgery that he's made a little comment about what I'm eating. Nor is he the only one who does it. A couple other people have felt the need to question what I'm eating, too. It's really annoying. I eat about 1/3 (or less) of what most people eat, yet I don't sit and stare at their plates and judge how much they eat or what they eat. I wouldn't even think of doing that! So, why do some people do it to me?

I mean, I'm obviously doing ok - I've lost over 90 pounds in 6 months!! Yes, I cheat. I've cheated almost since day 1. Really. Two weeks after my surgery I ate 2 chocolate chip cookies (one a day) that were being offered at the front desk of the hotel at which I was staying. On the third day, the hotel didn't have the complimentary cookies out, so I ended up buying a Hostess cupcake out of the vending machine. TWO WEEKS after my surgery!

I'm not saying it wouldn't be helpful not to cheat. I'm sure I could have lost even more weight if I stuck to my doctor's prescribed diet, but I haven't. And, I don't see myself ever sticking to it 100%. I figure I have to live with how I lose weight for a long time. And, when I lose all the weight I need to lose, I'm going to have to keep it off for a very long time (my life). It would be completely unrealistic for me to never have Raisinets at a movie again for the rest of my life. So, I'm working at eating better than I used to, but in a way that is do-able on a long-term basis. No matter the reasons I eat what I eat, though, it's no one's business except my own. Humfph.

So, don't be surprised if you see me eating something that you think someone who is trying to lose weight should avoid. And please, PLEASE!, don't comment on it. I'm a woman on the edge!

In return, I promise not to wonder how someone can possibly eat a whole hamburger...on a bun...plus the side of french fries...and dessert. *smile*

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Virtual Route 8

I'm still rolling along on my trip to New York City!






















I'm almost through Colorado! I'd like to be through Nebraska in two months, that's my goal.

This leg's stats:

Start date of this leg: 5.26.09
# of days traveled: 22
# of stationary days: 8 - Double Yikes!
Miles traveled: 71.5
Hours on the road: 23.5
Calories burned: 11,450
Miles 'til NYC: 1677.4

Thoughts:
I missed quite a few days of exercise again this leg. In fact, today was the first time I've exercised since Saturday! Sigh. It's work. I tried to fit a walk or bike ride in but this last week has been a killer; working mega early and plans every evening. I still feel pretty good about the month, though. There were several days of exercising in the morning and evening, which kind of makes up for the missed days.

Ever since I started walking regularly, I've been estimating the number of calories I burn each walk. Well, I discovered a calories burned website that tells you approximately how many calories you burn for different activities, accounting for your weight, how long you did the activity, and how fast you were going. Turns out, I've been underestimating by quite a lot! I checked a few other sites to verify and they all said about the same thing. Very nice.

I've been walking longer routes. My current favorite is 4 miles long and has a good mix of inclines/declines, flat areas, and interesting scenery. AND, I feel great when I finish it - my legs feel like they've had a good workout. I mix up my walks, though, so I don't get bored. It really helps.

Next Month Goals:
1. To miss 4 days or less of exercising. That gives me 1 day a week to not exercise, though someday I'd love to not miss any days!

2. Travel over 100 miles.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Small Success #1

Remember when I told you that I was going to try to stop weighing myself daily and focus more on how my clothes fit and how I feel?

Well, I still weigh myself every day, in the morning before I shower. I don't see myself stopping until I reach my goal weight. And, I'm okay with that. However, I want to do better at focusing on the other, non-scale-related signs of losing weight.

Today, I have a small success story to share that goes along with this idea. Do you remember me telling you here about the clothes I've bought throughout the years and never worn because they were too small? Well, one of the shirts I talked about then (March) is a white button-up shirt. At that time it fit wonderfully but now it's becoming too big! I actually feel kind of sloppy when I wear it to work because it just hangs on me. I have another white button-up shirt that I haven't been able to wear, and today I tried it on and it fit! Perfectly! (Well, except the puffy sleeves, but they're supposed to be puffy. My name is not Anne Shirley and I don't live on Prince Edward Island, so I'm not thrilled about the puffy sleeves.) However, since a white button-up shirt is a staple in my wardrobe, I'm relieved to have one that fits again. It's the last one I have that I pre-bought, so when this one gets too big, I guess I'll have to actually go out and buy one! The horror!!!

It's such a small thing, being able to fit into clothes that were previously too small, but it means the world to me. It totally made my day.

So, I've decided, in an effort to keep focusing on the small successes, I'm creating a new segment of this blog to track the small, seemingly insignificant successes I'm having. Oddly enough, it's called "Small Successes". I've never boasted about my creativity, people!

Feel free to comment about YOUR small successes - weight-related or not. I love motivational stories of all flavors!

Friday, June 5, 2009

90 Gone...Still Losing

Yesterday morning, I hit the 90-lb mark!

It feels almost beyond belief that I've lost that much weight. If my clothes didn't fit so poorly (even my new pants and shorts are too big), I'm not sure I'd believe that I weigh 90 lbs less than I did five months ago. Except for the fact that I feel tons better than I did 5 months ago, too.

I keep discovering things I can do again after not being able to for many, many years. Case in point, I can now bend my knee and hold my ankle so my foot is near my bum. It used to be one of my favorite stretches but I haven't been able to do it for years. Last weekend, I did a cartwheel. Michelle, the only witness to this event, would laugh at my liberal use of the word, but it was a cartwheel! Not the most graceful of cartwheels, but a cartwheel nonetheless. My body's reaction: Holy cow! You haven't moved me like this for 20+ years! I know, body, I know.

My coworker asked me today what I'm doing to celebrate 90 lbs. I told her "Nothing since I spent so much money on 70, 75, and 80", but I realized that's a bit of an untruth. Tomorrow, I'm getting my highlights touched up and sometime this weekend, I'm going to try to buy jeans that don't fall to my ankles when I take a step. (Woohoo for jeans that have become too too large!!) So, I guess those can count as my rewards for 90 lbs. Really, though, I'm saving my energy for the big celebration hopefully coming up in the next few weeks - 100 lbs!!!!

Crazy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Virtual Route 7

I finally made it to Denver, CO!






















Boy, it feels great to reach this mile post! The last week has been so crazy and busy that exercising has sort of fallen in my priorities. This achievement re-motivates me to make the time to exercise, even when life is crazy.

This segment's stats:

Start date of this leg: 4.27.09
# of days traveled: 21
# of stationary days: 6 - Yikes!
Miles traveled: 86.9
Hours on the road: 21
Calories burned: 4951
Miles 'til NYC: 1748.9

It's interesting to note that I missed SIX days of exercise during this segment and yet still burned more calories than I did last segment. Probably due to the hiking and increased speed/resistance on my bike. You can also tell that I'm walking more from the decreased miles traveled; however, all these numbers could have been much higher if I wouldn't have missed those six days. Sigh. At least it gives me something to improve this next month, right? *smile*

Some Interesting Facts About Denver:
1. I once started a long-distance relationship here. The guy didn't live in Denver, he lived in Arizona. I didn't live in Denver either, I lived in Utah.

2. My most recent kiss took place in Denver. December 2008.

3. I've only physically been to Denver twice. I wonder if something romantic will happen every time I go there. And, if I'm only there virtually, will the romantic occurrence happen virtually, too? I hope not. I hope it's in real life! *grin*

Monday, April 27, 2009

Virtual Route #6


















Start date of this leg: 4.3.09
# of days traveled: 21
# of stationary days: 3
Miles traveled: 101.0
Hours on the road: 16
Calories burned: 4731
Miles 'til NYC: 1835.8

Overall Impresssions
I feel really good about how well I did on this leg of the journey. I've come 520.8 miles in just over 3 months - not too shabby! I'm especially proud that I only missed 3 days during the whole 24-day leg. Last week, I exercised 7 days in a row - a first since I started keeping track. Woohoo! I really thought I would have made it to Denver this time, but I guess I was farther away than I thought. Oh well. Maybe next time! I feel like I'm doing well but don't seem to be getting anywhere on the map.

In addition:
On Saturday I weighed myself and I've lost 80 lbs! I had decided not to do anything to celebrate this marker because I spent so much money on 70 and 75 lbs. However, this morning I put on my black slacks and drowned in them. I have to pull them up a little because I step on the hem when I walk. I'm thrilled with this sign of my weight loss but am also a little annoyed that I have to buy new pants. I'm not a huge shopper for clothes. Sigh. Really, though, I'm thrilled with how much weight I've lost - it's like a dream! Woohoo!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Support and a Decision

I’ve always underestimated the importance of support when losing weight.

A couple years ago, when I tried Weight Watchers for three weeks, I thought the meetings were hokey and uninformative. The thought of attending one every week didn’t appeal to me, and I couldn’t figure out why my mom enjoyed them so much.

I tend to be a tad too independent for my own good sometimes.

I still think those meeting were a little hokey and now would probably enjoy them only marginally more than I did back then, but I get why they helped my mom. It’s helpful to have contact with people who are going through, or that have gone through, the same things you’re going through.

No one in my day-to-day life knows what it’s like to have had weight loss surgery. They don’t understand the challenges I face; what it’s like to get food stuck, the gas pain in my shoulder (just keeping it real), getting a fill, or a myriad of other things that you can’t totally get if you haven’t had WLS.

The people at my support group get it. They’ve had those same challenges, are working through the same difficulties I’m facing or will face. They have words of wisdom on how to cope with gas pain, menu ideas that stay within our guidelines, and suggestions on keeping on the path to weight loss. It’s a small group, but everyone is so different and has had so many similar and different experiences that a lot of ground is covered.

I didn’t attend last month’s meeting (for a stupid reason) and have been amazed by how much I missed it. The meetings motivate me to do what I “should be” doing. If for no other reason, I’d keep going just to be able to talk with people who know what I’m going through.

I had an “ah ha” moment last night. The theme of the meeting was Personal Accountability; accepting responsibility for everything we put in our mouths and for our choice to exercise or not. It was the perfect theme for me.

Peggy, the group leader, told us a story. She had strictly kept to the diet guidelines as outlined by her (and mine) doctor for just over a year after her surgery; three meals a day of mostly protein and no snacking. Then one day she saw a solitary peanut in an otherwise empty bowl at work. Without thinking, she ate the peanut. A day or two later, she ate a few more peanuts from the now full bowl, rationalizing that the one peanut the other day hadn’t derailed her weight loss, neither would these. Within no time, she was back to her old snacking ways – all the things she hadn’t eaten in months she now ate because every time she ate something new, she rationalized that the item she ate the day before hadn’t killed her, this wouldn’t either.

I totally recognized this in myself. I’ve slowly become more permissive in the things I’ll allow myself to eat (though still holding firm to others – ice cream is still a big “no, no” to me). It started with one Hershey’s kiss a day after lunch. Then it worked its way up to two a day. Then it was a tiny slice of chocolate cake at Sunday dinner with my family. Then I ate a slightly larger slice the next time, since the last slice didn’t stop me from losing weight. Slowly, I’ve started eating the odd cookie, handful or chips, slice of pizza, and other things that are not a part of my diet plan. Yes, I’m still losing weight, but I’m also re-establishing the habits that got me at my weight dilemma in the first place.

I decided to recommit to avoiding the foods that don’t fill me up, add empty calories into my body, and don’t really make me feel good. There are so many good foods that will nourish my body, keep me feeling full for hours, and taste delicious - why not enjoy them and forget about that other stuff? Not that I won’t have the occasional treat, but the idea is to make treats the exception instead of the rule – lately they’ve been well on their way to re-establishing themselves as the Rule in my life.

We joked that Peggy’s peanut was the “gateway drug” that led her down more dangerous paths. I looked at my gateway drug – chocolate kisses – and decided to give up my daily dose of chocolate. I’d like to think that someday I’ll be able to have one Hershey’s kiss and not have it lead to other indiscretions, but honestly, I may never be able to.

It’s a price I never realized I’m willing to pay.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Virtual Route #5

Are you ready to see where I am on my virtual trip to New York City? ( Hint: if not, now's the time to go to another site.)


















As always, to get a better view of the route, just click on the picture. This picture is of the most recent leg of my trip. I recently drove this road (December) and remember thinking how pretty it was. In this virtual trip, I'm almost to the point where it started to snow and became really slippery (Glenwood Springs). While towing a 40ft trailer, "snow" and "slippery" combined with "mountain pass" are not fun words.

Stats:
Start date of this leg: 3.16.09
# of days traveled: 14
# of lazy days: 4
Miles traveled: 78.9
Hours traveled: 10.3
Calories burned: 3463
Miles 'til NYC: 1936.8

This segment had the most diverse activities of any other segment; I walked, biked, hiked, and swam! This sort of accounts for the lower miles traveled (along with the 4 missed days!) and definitely accounts for the most calories I've ever burned in one segment! Plus, I've been trying to push myself on the bike - going longer or at a harder level - and that has really increased how many calories I burn in one workout. I'm also really excited to get below 2000 miles 'til reaching my destination.

Now, because I want to and because I can, here's a picture of the whole route so far:


















I wonder if I can make it to Denver next time? It's something to shoot for!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Finally!

I finally hit 70 lbs! Even if I would have only lost 1 lb when I weighed myself this morning, I'd be thrilled to finally get off the 68 plateau on which I've been residing for two weeks, but it feels great to hit another benchmark.

Here are the flowers I bought myself this morning:















When I hit 80 lbs, I'm buying tulips even if I have to order them online! I couldn't find them anywhere. Sigh.

I bought this bouquet because it contained daisies (love 'em!) and pretty yellow flowers (love yellow!) and because the vase is square. I don't own any square vases, so it was a big selling point. I'm going to have quite the vase collection if I don't start remembering to take one of my vases with me when I buy flowers!

I pat myself on the back for thinking of flowers as a reward for losing weight; they don't add to my hips, they're pretty, they smell nice, and they make my office feel cheery - perfect!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Doctor Visit #3

I wasn't looking forward to this visit, quite frankly.

1. I gave in to internal peer pressure and weighed myself on Monday (a week early) and still hadn't lost any weight. It was frustrating. I wondered what my doctor would say when I told him I had been stagnant for two weeks and hadn't lost as much weight as last month.

2. I worried about getting a fill. I kind of thought I needed one but really didn't want a repeat of last month when solid food wouldn't stay down. That was one of the worst nights of my life.

I almost canceled the appointment. The only reason I didn't was the realization that I haven't felt much restriction from my band since I went back last month and had some saline taken out. Most of the month, I thought it was just because I was in a good eating groove and wasn't eating enough to make me feel the band. Then I went to Las Vegas last weekend and had a meal that was a good deal bigger than I should have been able to eat. I kept the appointment.

I'm glad I did. It's nice to have a professional to talk to about my worries and about what's happening. Dr. S asked me all the usual questions then asked if I wanted a fill. I told him why I thought I should (the bigger meals, feeling no restriction, not losing any weight for two weeks) and why I worried about getting a fill (the Red zone). He advised that he put back most of the saline that was taken out last month and told me that the band isn't static; just because it's a good tightness for a month or more doesn't mean it will stay in the Green zone permanently. Also, just because a fill made me go into the Red zone one month doesn't mean it will make me the next month or in a couple months. Yeah, I don't totally get it either, but he knows what he's talking about, and I trust him.

As a precaution, I brought a small piece of leftover steak to eat after the fill; I didn't want to get home and realize the band was too tight and have to go back (remember, my doctor's office is 45 minutes away). The steak went down without a hitch. And, just that little bit kept me from feeling hungry for a few hours! Awesome!

Dr. S was very pleased with my weight loss results. He considers 4-8 lbs a month a good amount to lose, so my 9 lb loss (according to his scale) in slightly less than a month is fine. He said he'd worry if I lost 15+ lbs or less than 4 lbs (at this point in time). He congratulated me on regularly exercising and comforted me by saying that plateaus are normal and counseled not to get discouraged and give up my good habits.

Have I mentioned how much I like Dr. S? He has a great doctor personality; encouraging, caring, and friendly, but professional and trustworthy, too. I didn't really research my surgeon before the surgery (just went off a referral), so I'm very grateful that he's as good as he is.

My next appointment is May 13th. At first I thought I would get tired of having monthly appointments, but for now I'm happy because things can really change in a month.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Staying Motivated

I weigh myself every day.

I've read that I shouldn't weigh myself that often because weight fluctuates from day to day, but I do it anyway. I'm a rebel.

However, I've noticed that I get frustrated when my weight loss hits a plateau. It happened to me around 45 lbs. Nothing I did seemed to make any difference, my body refused to give up more than 45 lbs for almost 2 weeks. Right now I'm at 68 lbs lost and have been for a week. I keep telling myself it's ok; I lost almost 7 lbs in one week, so maybe my body is just adjusting to that weight loss before it loses any more. No matter what I say, I still feel frustrated. Quite frankly, seeing the numbers on the scale get smaller has been my major motivation for doing what I'm suppose to be doing.

Last night, in bed, trying to go to sleep because I had to wake up a couple hours earlier than normal but unable to because my brain wouldn't shut off, I decided that I need to weigh myself less and refocus on other motivations for staying with the changes I've made since having surgery. There are several. For example:

1. Looking better. Yesterday, I had Sunday dinner at my dad's house and saw my step-grandfather for the first time since having surgery. His reaction to how I look was priceless! He kept saying how lovely I look, how much slimmer my face is, how I "glow", etc. I've wondered recently if people just say I look thinner because they know I've lost over 60 lbs, but his reaction was definitely not an act - not that other people were acting - he could obviously see I looked different. It felt nice. More than nice.

2. Hiking. I went hiking with my mom, nephew, and niece Saturday and was amazed by how easily I walked along the path compared to last year or even the year before. A few times I even speed-walked while competing with my nephew and niece to be the "leader" and didn't even feel out-of-breath! On the return trip, my nephew wanted me to carry him because his feet hurt. I politely declined then started thinking about how he probably weighs roughly how much weight I've lost. I've been carrying around an 8-year old boy! Then I started to imagine how great I'll feel when I've lost another 60 lbs! Heavens, I'll probably feel like I'm floating when I've lost all my excess weight. It'll be great!

3. "New" Clothes. I don't do fitting rooms when I buy clothes. I either buy my clothes online or at Wal-Mart, and either way, I wait 'til in the comfort of my own home before I find out whether a garment fits me or not. Most times they do, but sometimes they don't. Most times I return the item when it doesn't fit, but sometimes I don't. I'm not sure why. Anyway, I have a stock of clothes that I've bought in my size throughout the years but that didn't fit so they've sat in my closet collecting dust. Now they fit! This weekend, I wore three shirts and a pair of capris that used to be too small but now fit perfectly. Woohoo! The capris were especially motivating because for the first time in ages, I felt like my waist and hips didn't stick out as much as they used to. I felt a little more...streamlined, for lack of a better word. In addition to knowing that I fit into these smaller clothes (though the same size I've worn for years), it made my pocketbook happy to know that items for which I've spent money are finally being put to good use.

4. Feeling better. I feel better than I have in years, probably since the last time I was at this weight, which was eight or nine years ago. Exercising, eating healthy, and accomplishing weight loss goals makes me feel good. I feel happier, more able to deal with problems, and I sleep better (usually). And, I'm seriously getting addicted to the feeling I get after riding my bike. My legs ache, my heart is pumping, sweat is sliding down my neck, back, and forehead, and I feel like I can fly. Nothing seems impossible when I step off my bike. It's a great feeling.

So, I'm hiding my scale when I get home and not getting on it for two weeks. Even as I typed that sentence, my mind shouted "NO!" but I'm going to do it anyway. Numbers on the scale are important, but so are all the other benefits of losing weight and getting healthy. And, I think those other benefits will help me stay motivated when things get tough and I feel like quitting.

Deep breath.

I'm going to miss my scale, though! *blinking away mock tears*

Monday, March 16, 2009

Virtual Route 4

Happy Trails, Everyone!

It's another installment of "Where Is She Now", otherwise known as my virtual route to New York City. Here's my progress to date:


















You can't tell when the picture is this small, but I'm finally in Colorado and just passed Grand Junction; accomplishing my goal for this segment! Woohoo!

Here are the stats:
Start date of this section: 2.28.09
# of days traveled: 10
Miles traveled: 68.6
Hours traveled: 5.3
Calories burned: 2296
Miles 'til NYC: 2015.7

I missed a lot of days during this two-week section, partially due to traveling for work and partially due to being crazy-sick last week. That said, I'm proud that I didn't miss a day for any other reason, like not wanting to exercise. :)

I've bumped up my bike ride from level 2 to level 3 - this has increased the number of calories I burn and increases how far I ride during a 25-minute workout. My legs really feel the difference. Not wanting to neglect my arms, I bought two 5-lb weights and do a few reps of different arm exercises while I ride. So, overall, despite the several missed days, I feel really good about how I'm doing.

'Til Next Time!

Monday, March 9, 2009

61 Pounds Lighter!

I have lost 61 lbs! Woohoo!

I actually hit 61 lbs last Thursday but didn't count it because the day before had been the hellish Red zone day and I'd abnormally lost 5 lbs. I left for Wyoming Thursday night and haven't had a chance to weigh myself until this morning. Needless to say, I'm thrilled that I have reached that goal - even after being on the road all weekend!

As promised, I bought myself flowers this morning as a reward for losing another 10 lbs. Here's a picture of the bouquet I bought:

I really wanted a vase full of white daisies, but Albertson's only had mixed flowers. They're pretty, pleasantly fragrant, and certainly liven up my office. Have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE getting flowers? Even when I get them for myself, I love it! They are cheery and Spring-y. Tucked away in my little office, without a window, I can fool myself into thinking it's Spring and not threatening to snow outside.

Speaking of being on the road - a BIG thank you to everyone who suggested Go-gurts! I took a couple boxes with me - in a cooler - and they were perfect! I ate them for breakfasts, for snacks, and for desserts. I especially enjoy them frozen! Mmmm. My favorite was Strawberry Milkshake.

Speaking of rewards, I've decided what I'll do as a reward when I hit 75 lbs - I'm going blond! I can't remember how long it's been since I've been blond, a couple years at least. I'm planning on going back to my current hair color in the Fall because I really like it, but it'll be fun to have a change for a few months. Once I have it done, I'll post a picture, of course, so stay tuned!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Red Zone

*Maybe not the best read if you have a sensitive stomach. I'm just saying.

Yesterday, I had my monthly appointment with my surgeon. I woke up in a great mood - it was sunny outside, I felt like a million bucks, and life seemed wonderful.

To add to my joy, my doctor was actually on time for the appointment - woohoo! We discussed how the previous month had gone for me, and he expressed his satisfaction with the weight I have lost so far. He asked me bunches of questions; do I get heartburn (no), do I vomit (no), how much of my diet is protein (70% or so), do I exercise (yes), what (walk/ride my bike), how often (5-7 days a week), etc.

He asked me if I wanted my band filled. In each of his rooms, there is a little chart that distinguishes the three "zones" of band filling. The first zone is Yellow. In this zone, you get hungry easily, eat "large" meals or snack constantly, and go looking for food. The second zone is Green. In this zone, satiety lasts at least 4 hours, you eat 2-3 meals a day that are 1/2 - 3/4 cup, and are able to eat solid proteins. The last zone is Red. While in this zone, you can't eat solid proteins, only liquids. You have heartburn and vomit if you eat anything. The goal is to be in the Green zone.

I decided I was in the last part of the Yellow zone and explained why - my meals are slowly getting larger than 3/4 cup. He agreed to fill my band just a little. Usually, a nurse practitioner does the fill, but they were both gone so he did it. What a difference! He found the port quickly and didn't show me the needles (thank heavens!) before sticking me with them. It was over before I knew it. He had me drink some water, and everything seemed perfectly fine, so I scheduled my April appointment and drove home.

When I got to work, I worked for a bit and at lunch time heated up my piece of chicken. I ate it while working, never a good idea, but tried to keep to the regulations - small bites, chew thoroughly, and pay attention to feelings of fullness. Before I finished, I started to feel full, so I stopped. The fullness increased to pain. A lot of pain. I couldn't breath so I left the office and went into the bathroom across the hall. I couldn't swallow my spit, the fullness in my chest was so painful. Eventually, I vomited up spit. The two other times I've overeaten, this step has reduced the fullness and I've quickly felt better. Not this time. It reduced the pain but it slowly increased again until I thought my chest would burst. Then I vomited spit again. This happened numerous times - too many to count - for a couple hours. Finally, more than spit came out. None of my lunch had made it through the band. At this point, the day was almost over but I was relieved to start feeling better.

As you might guess, I was in no hurry to eat again, so I didn't eat dinner until around 6:30. I hoped that maybe I had just eaten too much too quickly at lunch and that is what had caused the bad reaction. I made chicken breasts and cut one in half for my dinner. Not wanting a repeat of lunch, I ate very slowly, chewed my food 'til it was practically pureed, and ate tiny bites. Well, after just a few bites, I felt that same fullness from lunch. The next few hours were a repeat of my afternoon. Basically, it was hell. I called my doctor's office and left a message saying I'd be in the next day to get some of the saline out of my band, then called my office to let my coworker know I'd be in late. Fortunately, I felt much better by the time I went to bed - just after 11pm - so was able to get a decent night's sleep.

I awoke this morning feeling great. Maybe I wouldn't need to go down afterall, I hoped. I hopped on my bike and 5 minutes into it, took a sip of water. As needed, I'd take another sip. After 10 minutes, the fullness was back! I'd only had water! I stopped riding after 15 minutes because the pain was coming back, too. It was discouraging to know that even water wasn't making its way through the band. No wonder food caused me so much pain! I hurried to get ready and left for the doctor's office.

I was so hungry and thirsty by the time I arrived. And, did I mention that I'm PMSing? I am. So, I wasn't in the best emotional state when they told me that no one was there who could take some saline out of my band. I'd have to wait 30 minutes. No problem. Then they said no one would be there 'til this afternoon. I started to cry. I explained that I'm leaving for WY today for work and have lots to do to get ready and I can't go another day without eating or drinking water. Yeah, I cried. Not proud of it, but I did. The office staff was awesome! They quickly found someone who could come asap and kept comforting me. I was so embarrassed. While we waited, they weighed me again - I had lost 5 pounds in one day, no food or water will do that, I guess - and took my blood pressure, etc.

Finally, a nurse practitioner arrived and took out 75% of what my doctor had put in. We talked about it beforehand and decided to take most of it out to make sure I wouldn't have any issues while in WY but left some in to hopefully give me the help I needed to reduce my meal sizes. She admitted to being new to the process, and I could tell. It took her a long time to find the port and sometimes I felt pain despite the numbing stuff she'd injected. She'd apologize but I'd brush it off and thank her for being there. And, really, I'd suffer the pain gladly to get that saline out! She had me take a couple big gulps of water to make sure it felt better and suggested I eat something before leaving town to see if I could eat. I ate some peanuts when I got to my car and they went down fine. My lunch went fine, too, and I'm able to drink water. Also, I think the band is just tight enough to help me eat smaller meals. I think I'm finally in the Green zone. Woohoo!

Thank heavens I'm not in the Red zone anymore. That was NOT fun! According to my doctor, some people stay in the Red zone on purpose because they think it will help them lose weight faster. In reality, they start drinking high calorie liquids or eat easy-to-eat foods like ice cream and end up gaining weight instead. Honestly, I'd rather lose an ounce a week than go through another day like that. It was so miserable!

It certainly makes me hesitant to get another fill any time soon! *shudder* Hopefully, I'll stay in the Green zone for a long time!