Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Hamilton Beach Single Serve Blender. I have been getting to know it the past couple of weeks. For the next month at least it's going to be my bestest friend! Yes, that's right...the time for the official liquid diet to begin draws closer. One week from today it won't be "mostly" liquids like I'm doing now. It will be liquids only!! So, I've already been buying things I'll need to make it easier such as this handy dandy single serve blender with a lid you can drink from...and it fits in your cup holder. I've also been stocking up on low fat cream soups (which I will have to strain), tomato soup (so good when mixed with skim milk...adds some protein), Crystal Lite, SF Jello, SF Pudding, and a few different protein shake powders. But even with that, a liquid diet could quickly get old and boring. Luckily, today I got an email from my Bariatric Clinic and they sent me info on starting my liquid diet that included some recipes. I thought I'd share them with you today. So here goes.

Protein Shake Recipes

* Pina Colada: 1 cup water + 1 scoop vanilla protein powder + 1/2 tsp. coconut extract + ice
* Latte: 1 cup water + 1 scoop vanilla protein powder + 1 Tbsp. instant decaf coffee + ice
* Eggnog: 1 cup water + 1 scoop vanilla protein powder + 1/2 tsp. rum extract + ice. Sprinkle with nutmeg.
* Almond Delight: 1 cup water + 1 scoop vanilla protein powder + 1/4 tsp. almond extract + ice
* Pumpkin Pie in the Sky: 1 cup water + 1 scoop vanilla protein powder + 1 tsp. vanilla extract + 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
* Apple Pie: 1 cup water + 1 scoop vanilla protein powder + 1 tsp. vanilla extract + 1 tsp. apple pie spice
* Peach Pie: 1 cup water + 1 scoop vanilla protein powder + dash of DaVinci** sugar free peach syrup + ice
* Amaretto cookie: 1 cup water + 1 scoop vanilla protein powder + dash of DaVinci** sugar free amaretto syrup + dash of DaVinci sugar free cookie dough syrup + ice
* Campfire S'more: 1 cup water + 1 scoop vanilla protein powder + dash of DaVinci** sugar free toasted marshmallow syrup + dash of DaVinci sugar free German chocolate cake syrup + ice
* Mocha: 1 cup water + 1 scoop chocolate protein powder + 1 Tbsp. instant decaf coffee + ice
* Chocolate Mint: 1 cup water + 1 scoop chocolate protein powder + 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract + ice
* Chocolate Banana: 1 cup water + 1 scoop chocolate protein powder + 1/2 tsp. banana extract + ice
* Chocolate Almond: 1 cup water + 1 scoop chocolate protein powder + 1/4 tsp. almond extract + ice
* Chocolate Peanut Butter: 1 cup water + 1 scoop chocolate protein powder + dash of DaVinci** sugar free peanut butter syrup + ice
* Chunky Monkey: 1 cup water + 1 scoop chocolate protein powder + dash of DaVinci** sugar free banana syrup + ice
* Caramel Latte: 1 cup water + 1/2 scoop cappuccino flavored protein powder + 1/2 scoop chocolate protein powder + dash of DaVinci** sugar free caramel syrup + ice

High-Protein Milk
Instructions: In a blender, mix:
1 cup skim milk
2 scoops (1 ounce) Carb Solutions or other protein powder
Sugar substitute
Vanilla or flavoring
--This recipe provides: ..190 calories..28 grams protein..2 grams fat..1 gram fiber
• Chocolate milk: Add unsweetened cocoa powder to the recipe before mixing.
• Hot chocolate: heat the chocolate milk. Sip slowly.

High-Protein Fruit Punch
Instructions: In a blender, mix:
6 ounces sugar-free powdered fruit drink (such as Crystal Light or sugar-free Kool Aid)
2 scoops (1 ounce) protein powder
4 ice cubes
--This recipe provides: ..110 calories..20 grams protein..4 grams carbohydrate.. 2 grams fat

High-Protein Cream Soup
Eat soup when it is lukewarm.
Instructions: Mix well:
1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 teaspoon chicken or beef bouillon
3 tablespoons protein powder
Add enough hot water to equal 1 cup
--This recipe provides: ..200 calories..24 grams protein..20 grams carbohydrate..2 grams fat

**Tips for Choosing Liquid Protein Supplements from the Pharmacy or Grocery Store**

Read labels. Look for supplements with:
• At least 15 grams (g) of protein per 8-ounce (1 cup) serving
• Less than 20 grams Total Carbohydrate per 8-ounce serving
• Less than 5 grams fat per 8-ounce serving

Do not choose any of the following supplements. They are too high in carbohydrates:
• Regular Carnation Instant Breakfast • Ensure • Slim-Fast • Boost

**Tips for Protein Shakes**
• Non-fat plain yogurt can be added to shakes to increase protein and creaminess
• Freeze skim milk in ice cube trays. Blend these “milk cubes” with your shake to make it cold and slushy. This also adds protein without diluting your shake.
• Turn an ordinary protein shake into a vanilla or mocha latte by adding 1 teaspoon of decaffeinated instant coffee to a vanilla or chocolate shake. Or add 1 serving Sunrise Orange Crystal Light® to a vanilla shake for a dreamsicle flavor.
• If you find that you do not tolerate milk, you can use fat free Lactaid milk or soy milk to add protein to your shake. Avoid flavored soy milk (i.e. vanilla, chocolate, almond) as it contains a large amount of added sugar.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

All In The Family

I'm going to take a break from my "What Lies Beneath" series today. I have a few more already in mind that I need to write, but we are going to go with something a little lighter in nature today. Today I'm writing about how this surgery is going to affect not just me, but my family.

I decided early on that I won't be making separate meals for myself and my family once I get past the liquid and soft food stages. That's why I'm so glad I've found blogs like The World According to Eggface, where I can find great recipes that even my kids are excited about. But today some of the reality started to set in when I was at Wal-Mart with my 13 yr old son.

We had a mini lesson in reading nutrition labels today. It started in the dairy department. I told him to grab some 1% milk for him and his sister, and I was going to grab some fat free for myself. (I will buy separate milk just to make sure I have enough on hand for my shakes rather than finding it was all used up on cereal.) He made a nasty face at me as though I had asked him to pick out a gallon of curdled milk or something. "1%!? Why 1%?" he asked. I proceeded to show him the differences between the 2% he had grown up with and the 1%....fewer calories and fat...same vitamins. He seemed impressed and with a shrug of his shoulders he put the 2% back and the 1% into the cart.

On the cereal isle I thought I'd have some problems getting him to choose a healthier cereal. We are talking about a kid that loves any cereal with chocolate or marshmallows in it. I was looking at some of the Special K cereals, checking for fat, calories, fiber, protein, etc. and determined they would be a good choice. I got a berry yogurt flavored one and offered to get him the chocolate Special K....but he chose the Special K Low-fat Granola instead, because it had a "touch of honey." I was shocked, but impressed that he passed on the chocolate one.

We had several of these little moments as we went through the store. I was proud of myself. I did most of my shopping from the perimeter and only hit the isles for things like soup, bread, cereal, and canned tuna. We bough only whole grains when it came to breads and cereals. I even taught Steven to check the ingredients to make sure it says whole wheat as the first ingredient and not enriched flower. He didn't fuss nearly as much as I expected him to about the changes, and in fact seemed to really be trying to be enthusiastic about it.

Now, of all the people in my family, Steven is the only one of us that doesn't "look" like he needs to eat better. He's skinny as a rail. The rest of us can look at cake and gain weight. But I explained to him that it's not just about weight, it's about his heart and his body as a whole, and he was okay with that.

I have a feeling my daughter and husband will be the more challenging members of my family. Don't get me wrong. They both fully support me. And I don't expect either of them to fight me on any of this. But they, like myself, love food. So, I'm going to be working hard to find ways to fix healthy foods that we all like. I'm convinced it's possible! After all, this surgery isn't a quick fix. It's more of a "reset" button that will allow me to relearn how to eat properly. And my family will have to like it or go hungry! LOL

Friday, January 27, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What Lies Beneath (Part 3)

I had initially thought that this "What Lies Beneath" series would have only 3 parts, but I am learning that I probably need to leave it open to as many posts as it takes. I have realized at least one more underlying reason for my weight issues, and will be sharing it with you today. This is the 4th thing that I put on this list, and yes, I'm sharing it out of order. I'm putting off sharing that 3rd item....it's the most difficult to write, the deepest issue, the one that will be most difficult to overcome I think. So, I'm going to post about it later. I promise I will. I just need to be in the right frame of mind.

So, on to today's underlying issue. A better title for this post would actually be "Swallowing" My Feelings. That's what I do, both figuratively and literally. I swallow my feelings rather than let them be fully expressed. I'm not as bad at it as I used to be, but that's only because I've come to a point were I can sometimes let my feelings out with my husband. But with others, I hold back. I don't let people know when I'm angry. I downplay when I'm sad or lonely. I deny when I'm feeing depressed. And what do I do rather than let those feelings out? I swallow them, along with some yummy comfort food...some chips and salsa, mashed potatoes and gravy, chocolate, a big plate of Mexican food...anything that sounds good at the time. And I know exactly where it comes from!!

I have a vivid memory in my mind of standing in my garage when I was probably 12 or 13 years old, changing the laundry from the washer to the dryer. My mother had been very ugly to me about something, very unfair. This was quite common, and as usual she had made me very angry! I wanted to show my anger as any girl that age would. I wanted to argue with her, to defend myself. But that would only make it worse. I'd end up with a slap across the face or a belt across my bare butt and legs. I was so angry and frustrated that I wanted to hit something! I wanted to scream! But I couldn't. It wasn't allowed. Disagreeing with my parents in any way was grounds for automatic punishment and/or verbal/physical abuse.

My father had a belt similar to this but with fewer, larger holes. Hurt like HELL!!

Before I knew it tears were rolling down my face. I was crying and it took me by surprise. I wasn't sad. I wasn't hurt. I was pissed. And the only release I had was tears. Luckily I was in the garage where no one could see me, because if my mother had seen the tears it would have been worse. I don't know why but that woman hated it when I cried. One time I was getting one of those leather belt across the bare ass and legs kind of spankings and I cried....loudly. She told me if I didn't stop crying she'd give me ten more swats. She said this as she was beating my ass. I literally could not help but cry....so I got another ten swats. That made me cry again...so I got another ten. I was bent over her bed and eventually shoved her comforter so far into my mouth that it muffled my cries. I don't remember how many swats I got, but it was at least 30 or 40 that day. I had welts and bruises all up and down my backside. So I had learned the hard way not to let her see my tears.

Negative emotions were not allowed for me. I remember one time when a classmate of mine was killed in a car accident. I wasn't close to him, but I knew him and it was a tragic accident and very upsetting to all of us. I had had lunch with him just that day when we'd been out for a debate tournament. I was sobbing when a friend called and gave me the news. My parents couldn't understand why I was upset if he wasn't really one of my "friends." I was basically told to suck it up and get over it. So, no...emotions were not allowed. But food was. Food was always allowed. And not healthy food...there was rarely any fresh fruit or veggies in the house. But there was junk food galore, and meals stewing in grease and gravy, fat and calories.

So, instead of letting out my feelings, I ate. I swallowed my feelings down with a giant bowl of ice cream or half a bag of Doritos, or maybe a huge piece of cake. I never learned how to let my feelings out in a healthy way. I never learned how to be upset at someone and actually let them know it. I never learned how to be sad without internalizing all of it and trying to hold it in.

Result? A big fat ass, years of emotional turmoil and scars, and an overwhelming case of severe chronic depression. With some therapy and my happy pills I have my depression under control for the most part. I still haven't learned how to be angry and express it in a healthy way. I have this huge fear of upsetting someone. Logically I know that if I get angry at one of my co-workers and tell them about it they aren't going to take a belt to my butt. However, the child inside me cringes in fear at the thought of upsetting people.

So, I need to work on letting my anger out. I need to find ways to speak my mind. Because it's not just about getting mad. This shows up when I have a different opinion than someone else, when I need to speak up for myself, and other times when the person in question may not like what I have to say. I have to learn that I'm not responsible for the other person's happiness. That may have to become a mantra of some kind for me. I have to find ways to take responsibility for my own happiness rather than make myself miserable to keep others happy. But that is fodder for another post in the future.

If anyone has suggestions for me to help me learn to let those feelings out, please share them with me. This is just one more thing to add to the list of reasons I should see a therapist again. Thanks for reading. Thanks for letting me vent and share. It's very therapeutic for me.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My First Two Videos

My 1st Vlog:

My 2nd Vlog:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

What Lies Beneath (Part 2)

This is me at about age 5 when I was in foster care.

If you read my previous blog, What Lies Beneath (Part 1), then you know that I ended it with a bit of an epiphany. I realized that food makes me feel safe. I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to change that, but my plan is to start with some journaling. I have no reason now to ever feel that I'm not safe. So, I need to work on reminding myself daily that I am safe, I am always provided for, and I have people in my life I can trust and depend on. I have to release that fear. It serves no purpose in my life except to hold me back.

So fear of doing without was the first of the issues that lie beneath my eating issues. What's next? This part will require me to discuss my adoptive family a bit. For the background on that you can read part one of this blog series. As I stated previously, my adoptive parents were not good people. Although they did have everyone outside our home fooled. They play a huge part in my eating issues as I will explain in this blog and the next.

When I first went to live with this family I thought I'd landed in heaven. I'd never had a room of my own, toys of my own, or any kind of real one-on-one attention from my parents. But I had all of that and more in this new family. We went out to eat, they bought me beautiful dresses and clothes, we went on vacation, I had more dolls than I knew what to do with. They read me stories and watched cartoons with me. There was a swing set in the back yard and dogs to play with. It sounds like an ideal childhood. But if you looked beneath the surface things started to go wrong from the very beginning. I was just too young and had seen too much violence to recognize the subtle things going on around me.

One thing I had carried with me from my biological family was a fear of men...especially men that drank alcohol. Now, you would think that after all I'd been through and the fears I had, and the fact that I put up a wall between myself and others at the tender age of 6 that my new parents might have followed the advice of my case workers and gotten me some counseling. But, alas, they did not. They figured if any real issues arose they'd deal with them as they came. The problem was, they saw my issues from the beginning and never did get me any outside help. In fact when they realized I had a fear of men who were drinking, they decided to use their own version of psychology to deal with it. You see my new father would come home after work, grab a beer, and sit and drink it while my mother made dinner. They realized that each time he cracked open a beer, I ran and hid in my room with the door closed. Their solution? Make me get the beer and sit on my father's lap while he drank it to prove to me that there was nothing to be afraid of. As a child I knew no better than to obey. As an adult it makes my skin crawl that they used such a mean and forceful way to "get me over it."

I would come to learn as I grew older that control and force were my parents way of handling everything. I was on a very tight leash the entire time I lived with my adoptive family. I was rarely allowed to play outside with the neighborhood children...especially as I got older. I only remember being allowed to go on three sleepovers ever. And I think I only ever had about 3 sleepovers at my house. The rules were just too strict, and it wasn't any fun, no one ever wanted to come back, so I gave up trying. While my friends were hanging out together, talking on the phone, and going to the mall I was home doing chores and taking care of my brother. My parents controlled every aspect of my life. I had little or no say in the simplest of things. I wasn't even really allowed any say in the kind of clothes I wore. My mother would pick my clothes for me...even into my teens. I never understood why they were so controlling until I was an adult. I'll explain that in a moment.

The one thing I could control to a certain degree was food. I could control what I ate and how much. My mother of course determined what we would have for family meals. But I had free reign over snacks. As a latch key kid, I could come home from school and eat whatever I wanted. Our mother kept the kitchen stocked with chips, cookies, cakes, candy, ice cream, and more. And we were free to have whatever we wanted. So I did. I ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. And meal times were similar. My mother would make more than enough for a meal and we were not only encouraged to clean our plate, but urged to get seconds. So I almost always did. I could control how much I ate, so I ate as much as I could. These habits of mine went right along with my first issue of fearing a lack of food.

So now, not only did I eat to make sure I didn't go without, but I was eating in order to have control over some part of my life.

I said I'd explain why my parents were so controlling. At least this is the only reason I can come up with. As a child I was told very little about my biological family. All I had was what I remembered as a small child. And a tidbit or two thrown in by my father who liked to hurt me with information such as my mother being a "party girl" and my father molesting my little sister. He followed up that last little bit of information by telling me that they suspected that he had done it to me too, but were never able to prove it. This ugly revelation from him came on a day that I had been fighting to keep his nasty hands off of me. But that is an issue for my next blog. The point is, information was not very forthcoming from my adoptive parents.

But as an adult I have learned so much more. I've been back in touch with all but 2 of my siblings, my mother, and some aunts,uncles, and cousins. I've gained a lot of information from my siblings. One of my sisters told me first hand accounts of things that happened. Another gave me information she had found in adoption papers that we were never supposed to see. As it turns out, because of what our biological father had done to us girls, the counselors that handled our cases told our parents what they could expect. It seems they were warned that we would be 1.) pathological liars, 2.)promiscuous, 3.) we would seduce older men, 4.) we'd most likely abuse drugs and/or alcohol, 5.) prostitution was a very likely path for us to take, 6.) we would probably run away, 7.) given all of these other things we would most likely be teen mothers. And with all that looming my my future my parents didn't think I needed counseling!! (*That was my sarcastic voice by the way.)

No, counseling would not be necessary, because my parents would instead choose to control every tiny aspect of my life to avoid having me follow these paths. What they didn't get was that I was a very intelligent little girl. I knew when I was 5 that drugs and alcohol were not safe. I was more than protective of my own body, and very modest. I was never tempted by drugs, alcohol, or sex growing up. I had seen what could happen to a family when everything went wrong. I was determined to save myself for my husband. I was determined to never be an alcoholic or a drug addict. What I was not able to see was that instead of being addicted to drugs or alcohol or sex to mask what I was feeling, I had become addicted to food. Food was my drug of choice. Food was the drug readily available to me and pushed upon me by my parents. And it's an addiction I've had for more than 30 years now.

Safety and control....two things food gave me in a severely messed up and painful childhood. Safety and control mixed with guilt and shame over my weight. People hear my story and are amazed at what a "normal" person I am. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that I am as messed up as any drug, alcohol, or sex addict. But no one recognizes it because my drug is a necessity of life. My drug is food. Sadly, there is a part 3 to this series. Another layer of what lies beneath my eating and weight issues. But I am determined to overcome all of this! I am determined to be healthy not only physically but psychologically as well. What was it they used to say at the end of all the G.I. Joe cartoons? "Now you know. And knowing is half the battle!" So, if I know what my issues are then my battle is already half won!

Friday, January 20, 2012

What Lies Beneath (Part 1)

I've been doing a lot of reading about WLS and the people who have had it. A LOT of reading. And yet I'm barely scratching the surface. Reading up on it, educating myself, getting support, and offering support to others could honestly be a full time job for me. Unfortunately the pay sucks!

So what have I learned with all this reading and chatting? More than I can fit into one blog post that's for sure. But the things that seems to be weighing most heavily (pardon the pun) on my mind are the underlying factors to so many of our weight issues. Certainly some of them are medical, genetic, or just a plain love of food. But it goes beyond that for most of us. Most of us have had some kind of trauma or experience that has sent us looking for comfort, joy, pleasure...and we found it with food. I know there are almost as many reasons for turning to food for these things as there are people. But I'm going to talk about me and my biggest contributing factors to my weight issues. It's a long, long story and it can be hard to keep all the characters straight, so this might turn into a blog mini-series to get it all in without overwhelming anyone.

Kudzu: The tangled green mess covering these trees

I apologize in advance if any of you get lost in the kudzu that is my family tree. It seems that everyone, even my husband sometimes, gets confused about who is who and how they fit into my family tree. It's a tangled mess that even I struggle to keep straight. My biological family is southern through and through. My mother's family first came to America back in 1613 to Jamestown...and survived the famines of winter, the Indian attacks, and disease that killed most. The man I've believed to be my father most of my life (but have recently discovered might not be my actual father) comes from Texas as does his family for generation upon generation. I come from strong, hard working people. I've researched my family far enough back to know that I have ancestors that were in line for the throne of England, advisor to Queen Elizabeth I, and other nobility...and that's before we came to America. Once we got here I have war heroes that served in the Revolutionary and Civil wars. There are coroners, school teachers, store owners, doctors, midwives, friends of presidents, and more. There are some amazing people in my family tree.

And then there are the nuts. Guess which ones I got for parents.

I won't give you the full breakdown of my immediate family except to say that I am the oldest of the children my parents had together, but I have 5 older step-siblings and 3 younger siblings. 7 of the 9 children are my mothers. She raised 2 of those 7 children from birth to adulthood....the rest of us she threw away....oops, I mean she put us up for adoption. Okay, threw us away is the more correct term, but I grew up believing that she had given us up for adoption to protect us from our father and that she had no other option. (It didn't quite happen that way, but that's a story for another time.) After all my father (or at least the man I think is my father) was a paranoid schizophrenic who refused to take his meds because he preferred to self medicate with drugs and alcohol. He was a wife beater, child abuser, child rapist/molester, con artist, etc.

I was 6 when my mother put me up for adoption. I was separated from my siblings (for our own good). And I was placed in foster care for about a year, one home after another. I don't remember many of them, but in one the older boy in the family molested me, and in another the father would beat us all with a belt anytime one of us got in trouble. I was finally placed with a family that had only one other child, a little boy younger than me who was also adopted. Life was much better with them than with my biological family. There wasn't all the violence and fear. But you know how some bad guys are a little more sneaky than others and take a little more time to show their true colors? Well, this new father of mine was that kind of bad guy. And my new mother wasn't much better.

So what does all of this have to do with being fat you might ask. Well, while I will save the horrors of my new family for another time, I will share with you an experience I remember very vividly from my first weeks with my new family: They took us out to eat at a little hole in the wall Mexican restaurant (still an all time favorite place of mine to eat) for dinner. I don't know if I'd ever even had Mexican food before. I ordered a child's plate, they served free chips and salsa, and my parents ordered nachos for an appetizer. I dove in to those chips and salsa and ate until my nose ran from the heat of the peppers. The nachos didn't stand a chance (still my favorite nachos to this day). And after I had cleaned my plate, I began eating the leftovers off of everyone else's plate. I ate until there was no food left on the table.

What a little piggy you might say. But it was all I knew. You see it wasn't uncommon for us to go without meals with my biological family. I had come from a place where the mentality was when there is food you eat whatever you can, and you eat until it's gone, because there might not be a next meal for a while. To this day it bothers me to let the pantry and fridge get bare. I actually get what I can only describe as a high from going to the grocery store, filling the cart, and then coming home and filling my kitchen with food. It makes me feel safe and content.

Holy crap, I'm having an Oprah lightbulb moment!! I always knew that I ate like that because of the lack of food in my early years. But this is the first time I've put into words that food makes me feel safe. That's very sobering. I never thought of it that way before, but...it's true. It explains so much!! Food makes me feel safe and provided for...something that was very lacking in my early years.

Okay, I'm going to have to stop for now. I need to let this soak in. I'll be back later tonight or this weekend to continue the story. Sorry to cut it off like this, but I need a minute.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Red Is My Signature Color

So what does the color red have to do with all of this weight loss surgery and getting healthy? Practically everything. Not too long ago I refused to buy any clothing that was red. I refused to buy clothing that was stylish and sexy. My "wardrobe" consisted of cheap jeans and ugly Wal-Mart fat lady t-shirts. When shopping for clothes I bought the simplest things that were least likely to draw attention to me.

Why? Because that's all I felt I deserved. I was fat, ugly, worthless. Cute clothes were not meant for people like me. They were for better people. People that were vibrant and fit and beautiful...all the things I was not. I didn't deserve to wear cute clothes. And, I didn't want to wear anything that wold draw peoples attention to me. I just knew that if I dared to wear things like that people would look at me and think how ridiculous I looked and that I shouldn't bother trying to be attractive. There was just no point.

I have come a long way over the years. My journey is not nearly complete, but I look back and see where I was, and I'm so happy I'm not there anymore. I'm still overweight. I'm still taking drastic measures to lose that weight and get in shape. But mentally, I'm in a much better place than I've been in many, many years.

I'm not sure how I did it, how I changed my mindset. I think the first step was admitting to not only myself but my husband, and then some close family and friends that I felt that way. Hearing their shocked reactions and having them tell me how ridiculous that was began a long journey for me. A journey to freedom from the physical and mental hell I had been living in.

I began to work through the issues that had caused this state of self loathing. I not only admitted the abuse that I suffered, but I began to come to terms with it. I began to step out of my shell, even when it scared the hell out of me. I began to gradually change my wardrobe, adding in little touches of style and flare. I even became bold enough to buy red. And amazingly something began to happen that had not happened for years. People began to complement me. What!!?? Compliment ME?! Seriously? I was amazed that it was even possible for people to have positive thoughts about my, let alone voice them out loud. Was it possible? Could it be that I could be somewhat normal? Could it be that I could be somewhat attractive?

I began to change. I threw out my old ugly, frumpy t-shirts. I started buying cute panties and sexy bras. I began wearing red and sequins and things that showed off my cleavage (just a peak...nothing too trashy. LOL) And I began to feel like people noticed me. And while it was uncomfortable and foreign at first, I began to enjoy feeling....normal. For a while I became comfortable in my own skin. I began to enjoy being me. At least more than I had before.

But there was still a lot wrong. I was still suffering from boughts of sever depression. The funny thing was that now that I'd had a taste of "normal" I wasn't willing to go back to the sad, dark, lonely place I had lived in for so long. Two years ago, I finally said, "ENOUGH"! I went to my doctor and finally admitted that I was depressed and I needed help. Diagnosis? Severe Chronic Clinical Depression. Treatment? Most likely a lifetime of anti-depressants and anxiety meds. Reaction? Bring it on, I'm sick of living this way. I'll take whatever I have to in order to get out of this pit of despair. I even went to therapy for a while to talk it all out.

So here I am two yeas later, still doing my best to dress cute...well most days. Is till enjoy my jeans and t-shirts...they are just more stylish and flattering now...most of the time. I must admit I still enjoy my comfy frumpy clothes sometimes. But I tend to mostly wear those at home. I manage quite often to get compliments on my appearance. I even wear makeup on a semi-regular basis. I got myself to a point where I actually like...and love...myself.

And learning to love myself is what led me to where I am now. I'm able to finally admit that I can't do this on my own. I admit my weaknesses. I have learned to recognize in myself the way that I sabotage all efforts to lose weight. Because while I enjoy being complimented on my appearance at times, I know that I still hide myself inside this fat suit. I just dress the suit up better than I used to. So looking cute in my fat suit has just been a bandaid to the real problem. And the real problem is my weight and my health. I won't be fully healed until I can remove this fat suit, this security blanket, this barrier between me and the outside world and feel comfortable that way.

I'm nervous about it. I'm afraid of what it will be like to be thin and pretty. I'm a little scared of the attention it might bring from men especially. But I have to face this fear. I can't let fear rule my life. I can't let fear hold me back from being true to myself and living my dreams. There are so many things that I don't do anymore because I'm fat. I'm terrified to fly because I don't want to be told that I have to pay for two seats. While I've become more bold in amusement parks and have actually dared to ride some of the rides, I've avoided some of the ones I really want to ride because I know there's no way my big butt will fit in them. And while I dress much better than I did before, I still can't buy some of the things I really want because they just don't make them in my size. And if they do...it just wouldn't be fair to torture people by wearing them.

So I'm facing my fears. I AM GOING TO LOSE THIS WEIGHT. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around that thought. Diving into the WLS community is helping me so much!! I am learning from others who have started this journey ahead of me. They are teaching me what pitfalls to avoid, what precautions to take. They are sharing their trials and struggles both physical and mental. I know there is a good chance that I may end up back in therapy through all of this. I may end up on a couch begging for help in accepting what this new me will bring. But if that's what it takes, then that's what I'll do.

Why? Because I've learned that I'm worth it. My family is worth it. I've spent years being less that I wanted to be for myself, my children, and my husband. I'm ready to fly. I'm ready to ride the biggest roller coaster in the park. I'm ready to say yes and seek adventure rather than hide in my fat suit and make excuses.

Bottom line: I've learned to love myself. I've learned that cute clothes, an active lifestyle, and red are not just meant for the "others" the ones that are "better" than me. Because I'm better than I gave myself credit for. I'm just as worthy of a happy and beautiful life as anyone else on this planet. So red is now my signature color. The color I refused to buy for so many years because it was for those "other" kinds of people. Red clothes, red shoes, red jewelry, red lipstick. I own them all now. I've given myself permission at this size, at this point in my life to wear red and love it! Now, I'm giving myself permission to step out of the fat suit and into the life I really want!

Friday, January 6, 2012


Come do the HAPPY DANCE with me!!

I got my surgery date!!!!!!!!!

February 21, 2012

This date marks the start of a whole new life for me!!!! I can't wait!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Meditation. It's a discipline I'm trying to incorporate into my daily life much like prayer and positive thinking. There are many forms of meditation spanning many different religions and practices. Mediation can be scripted and focused on many different things. Someone doing spiritual or religious meditation might focus on God, a Bible verse, or a religious concept or discipline they want to incorporate more deeply into their lives. Others might choose meditation for the purpose of relaxation or improvement of physical or mental health.

If you do a Google search for Meditation you will find a multitude of web sites, "experts", definitions, and more. There are guided meditations where a person with a soothing voice will calmly talk you through the meditation with a specific focus in mind. There are also any number of songs out there that make a great background choice for listening to while meditating. Again this can range any number of different styles, so look for one that best suits you and your needs.

For myself, I have been using meditation as a way to find peace and calm in a hectic world. I am a wife, a mother of two, I teach 15 preschoolers all day, and I have a number of physical and emotional issues that challenge me daily. These physical and emotional challenges include, but are not limited to severe clinical depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, and fatigue due to not only the before mentioned conditions but also low iron and B12 levels. These challenges combined with the typical home and work responsibilities can make my days difficult to get through. Meditation is becoming a tool that helps me with the stress this can cause.

I am in no way an expert on meditation. In fact I am a novice at best. I am working to find techniques that work best for me and my needs...and that fit into my not so quiet life. What I am finding to be the most helpful in easing anxiety, fatigue, and stress is to simply take a few quiet moments to focus on my breathing and releasing the tension in my body. Most of the time I don't have more than five or ten minutes of uninterrupted quiet to do this in, so short sessions of deep focused breathing seem to work best for me. As I get more comfortable with meditation and can hopefully find longer periods of uninterrupted peace and quiet I hope to work in prayers and positive thoughts focused on physical healing, emotional healing, spiritual growth, healthy living, increased energy, and weight loss.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Choose Your Hard

I am totally stealing this from Bariatric Girl's blog, but I LOVE this message. It says it all!!

Setting Goals in 2012

(Originally posted to FB on January 1, 2011)

I am so excited about this year!! I get to have my surgery. We get to retire and move back to OK. I should end this year better than I'm beginning it....many pounds lighter, much healthier, and much closer to friends and family!! :)

However, as far as the weight loss and health improvement goes, I can't just sit back and expect it to happen...even though with the surgery it will "just happen" for a while. The surgery will only get me so far. After a while, the weight loss will drop off and it will be up to me to keep it going. So, it's time to set some new goals, and I've already started today.

My goals for January:

1. Get in a minimum of 500 minutes of exercise this month. That's 25 minutes 5 times a week or 45 minutes 3 times a week. As a part of that, I'm challenging myself to walk at least 6 miles a week. If you know me...that's a big deal. Once I see how that goes, I plan to increase both the time and the distance. I just have to get my body used to it first.

2. Drink 8 cups of water a day. As part of this challenge I'm going to be decreasing the amount of soda I drink each day. Once I have my surgery, I am supposed to cut out all carbonated beverages and caffeine . So, I will be taking advantage of the next couple of weeks to work both out of my diet before my surgery.

3. Journaling my food intake. I'm using SparkPeople.com to journal what I eat and drink each day. The thing I love about this web site is that not only does it tell me my fat and calorie intake, it breaks down nutrient intake as well in a daily report. This will allow me to see where I'm going over and under in multiple areas of nutrition. This will become important for me once I'm back on solid foods after my surgery. Since I will only be eating a minimal amount of food, I have to make sure I get the most nutritional value I can for each thing I eat.

4. My last, and probably my most important, goal for January, and the entire year, is to have an attitude of gratitude. I am determined to be more positive and more appreciative of everything I have in my life.

So, 2012 is off to a great start for me! January 1 has been a great day for me. I've met my journaling goal, my water goal, and my positive attitude goal....they gym awaits me tomorrow. :)

Getting Really Excited

(Originally posted to FB on December 28, 2011)

I must admit, with the holidays I have not been eating as well as I should...not even close really. But now that all the big "eating" holidays are out of the way, that will be chaning. I was hoping to be stronger than I was, but I couldn't get away from the mentality that this would be my "last Thanksgiving and Christmas to eat like I always have." I kept thinking that in the future it just won't be the same, so I may as well enjoy myself while I can. I'm not proud of having that mentality...but it's the truth.

So, why am I excited? Because this Thanksgiving and Christmas will be the last ones I spend the way I am now!!! Tomorrow I will be marking off the last two check boxes on my to-do list!!! I will be going to my second support group meeting in the morning and my psych evalutaion in the afternoon! Once those are done I can make my appointment with the surgeon!! I'm truly hoping to have the surgery by the end of January!! Yay!!

Another reason for my excitement? I've seen the amazing progress my sister has made! She looks amazing! And....she sent me home from her house with two big bags of clothes in smaller sizes!! So, I'm pretty much set for the first few months after surgery!! My little sis has great fashion sense, so I've got some cute stuff to wear for work! Thank you, Sis!!!

I can't wait to watch my butt shrink!! Along with just about everything else!! :) LOL

The End Is In Sight

(Originally posted to FB on December 1, 2011)

Today I knocked out 2 things on my checklist. This afternoon I went to my LAST nutrition class!! Yay!!! And tonight I went to my first of 2 support group meetings. I have my psych evaluation on the 12th, a visit to the "girlie" doctor on the 20th, and my final support group meeting on the 28th! So by the new year, I should have all of my checklist finished and be waiting to see the surgeon.

There is a possiblility that I might have to go back in for a second night at the sleep clinic, but only if my results show that I have sleep apnea and need a CPAP machine. I am praying that won't be the case. If I have to do that, not only do I have to go back in for a second night, but I also have to wait for them to order me a machine and then have to use the thing for 30 days before I can have the surgery. I could meet with the surgeon during those days and schedule the surgery for after those 30 days. But it would still slow things down, and I'm too anxious for that! LOL So, I'm staying positive and expecting good results from the sleep study.

I can't wait to get this show on the road!! :)

Making Progress

(Originally posted to FB on November 29, 2011)

Well, I'm down to just a few more appointments. A month from now I should hopefuly have them all out of the way except possibly one of my support group meetings. That depends on if they are having one over Christmas break or not.

I did my sleep study last night. They said if they saw signs of sleep apnea in the first two hours they would come in and put a CPAP machine on me, but if it presented later than that they would not do it on that visit. If it presented in the later part of the night, I would have to go back in another night and sleep with the machine on. They did not come in and put the CPAP on me last night, so I suppose that's a good sign. But I will have to wait 7-10 business days to get my results back and find out if I have to go back in. I'm hoping that since it didn't present in the first two hours that it didn't present at all. Otherwise not only will I have to go back in and get a CPAP machine at home, but I will have to use it for 30 days before I can have my surgery. So if I have sleep apnea, that slows me down.

I'm anxious to get this surgery. I know it will mean a LOT of changes, but I need them...I want them. I see the changes this surgery makes in others and I want those changes for myself. I want more energy, cuter clothes, and more self-confidence.

Next appiontment up on the list? Psychiatric evaluation. Let's hope the doc doesn't ask me about my mother....I'll be in therapy for years!! LOL

Joined A Gym

(Originally posted to FB on November 8, 2011)

For the first time in my life, I have joined a gym!! I've been thinking about it for a few days now and finally bit the bullet tonight. I joined Planet Fitness. Their prices are reasonable, and I won't have to work out in front of military guys like I woule here on base.

I'm really excited about it. Part of the membership includes a trainer, so I'm going to get someone to help me set up a workout and weight training routine. This is all part of the process if I want the surgery to be a success. Life changes must be made and regular exercise is one of them. Wish me luck!

Blood Work & Upper GI Test Done

(Originally posted to FB on November 7, 2011)

Today was one of those great days where I got to check off two things on my list in the same day! It involved being stuck with a needle, having 8 vials of blood drawn, and drinking some nasty fizzy crystal drink and 2 containers of barium....one thick as mud, the other thick as glue. Yuck!! Drinking these fine "liquids" was then followed by some log rolling on an x-ray table while trying, at the doctor's request, not to burp.

The fizzy stuff they had me drink was to fill my stomach full of air (hence the request that I not burp). They then take my balloon-like stomach and have me drink down the thicker of the two barium drinks to coat it. However, just drinking it will not coat the entire stomach. That is where the log rolls come in.

"Okay, Ma'am, roll quickly over onto your stomach and then back over onto your side. Make sure you don't stop on your right side or it might end up where we don't want it." Really?! And where would that be?! "Great job. Let's do that one more time, just to be sure."

So then once the log rolls were over, I did a little teetter-tottering while laying on my side...."Lean a little toward me, Ma'am. Okay, good. Now back the other way just a bit. That's good. Now back this way. Wait, back the other way...just a bit more. Great. Now pull this knee up and lean that way. Great, now roll to your back. Perfect. Now, slowly roll toward me. A little more. A little more. Now back the other way a bit."

It went on like this for about ten minutes. Finally they had my lay on my stomach, gave me the second bottle of barium...the thinner of the two...with a bendy straw and had me drink continuously while they watched it go down. It was actually kinda cool, because from where I was I could see it too. Watching it go down, made getting it down a bit easier. LOL

After that they took a few more still shots and I was done. They said they didn't see anything wrong as they were doing the test. There were no signs of acid reflux (I told them I didn't have a problem with that, but what do I know? LOL) They said they would be going back to look at the images more closely to be certain there were no problems and get a report to Bariatrics.

So, now I need a sleep study, psych eval, 3 more nutrition classes, 2 support group meetings, and a PAP. Bring it!! Cuz this girl is ready!!!

Checking Things Off As I Go

(Originally posted to FB on Nov. 6, 2011)

At the seminar this past week I got my official check list that I have to complete before the surgery. I love having it because now instead of guessing how much I have left to do, I KNOW exactly what I still have to do and when. I was able to take the list and make some appointments that I need. I have one more to make, but am waiting for Psych to contact me for that.

So here are the things on the list that the Bariatric Clinic requires us to do before we can have the surgery:

~*GYN Exam; Pap Smear (women only of course) *Mine is scheduled for Dec 20
~Breast Exam-Mammogram (over 40 only, so I luck out on this one)
~Barium Enema/Colonoscopy (over 50 only, so I luck out once again!!) *Whew!!!
~*6 Supervised Nutrition Classes *My last 3 will be on Nov 10, Nov 17, & Dec 1
~*Sleep Study to check for Sleep Apnea *Mine is scheduled for Nov 28
(If you have Sleep Apnea you must get and use a CPAP machine for 1 month before surgery)
~*Psychiatric Consult *Waiting for them to call and schedule
~*Upper GI or EGD *Mine is tomorrow morning Nov 7
~*Blood Work (There's a long list) *Mine is tomorrow morning Nov 7
(I'm doing the Upper GI and Blood work at same time so I only have to fast once.)
~Internal Medicine Consult (Only for people with DM over 50, BMI>55, Phen/Fen use, or Cardiac History: I luck out)
~Cardiac Echo (Phen/Fen use: does not apply to me)
~Prostate Specific Antigen (men over 50)
~*Support Group (Must attend 2 before surgery) *Mine will be Dec 1 and Dec 28 (if they do not have the one on Dec 28 due to the holidays, I will attend the next one on Jan 5)

If everything go as planned, and I don't have sleep apnea, I will hopefully have my check list completed no later than Jan 5. If I do have sleep apnea, I will have to schedule a follow up to be put on a CPAP machine and will have to use it for a month before I can have the surgery. Hopefully that won't be completed any later than mid January. I'm praying I don't have sleep apnea, but I know it's common in people that are overweight. If I do have it, I won't be surprised, but I will be a bit disappointed.

After all of these requirements are met, I will have a pre-op appointment with the surgeon and we will set a date for the surgery! Yay!!

Realities of This Surgery

(Originally posted to FB on October 30, 2011)

I have been doing a lot of reading and research on what to expect with this surgery. It won't be an easy quick fix by any means. But from what I've been told, one of the best things I can do to succeed without being totally overwhelmed by it all is to just get my mind prepared for the way things will be. Instead of dreading all the changes, I need to just accept them as the inevitable reality that I will face.

So, what are some of these changes and challenges? Well, the most obvious is that I won't be able to eat nearly as much as I do now. It won't be a matter of choice....I will physically not be able to eat as much. So I will have to learn to eat much more slowly, taking small bites, and paying close attention to portion sizes while getting the best nutrients that I can get in the small amounts I'll be eating. If I don't find the right balance of portion and nutrition I will regret it. I've seen videos of people complaining about the health issues they face when they aren't getting the proper nutrients. So, I need to be very aware not only of how much I eat...but what I eat. I'm already starting to work on that. When I went shopping today most of what I bought was fresh produce, lean meats, low fat dairy, and whole grain breads. I have also started taking multivitamins with iron as well as calcium. This is all going to be part of staying healthy once I have this surgery.

Now for the thigns I can't have once I have this surgery...and this is actually the more difficult part to adjust to, but so far I've been in a pretty good frame of mind about it. One of the big ones is that I won't be able to have caffeine anymore. That is something I'm already starting to ween myself off of, because I'm definitely a caffeine addict. I'm drinking fewer soda's per day. Even though I have only drank diet sodas for years now, I still need to cut them out of my diet. In addition to the caffiene, I won't want to be drinking carbonated beverages when my stomach is so much smaller. Ouch! Also, little or no sugary things. If I understand correctly, I won't want them anyway because they will upset my stomach. I will also have to limit things like breads and chicken. They evidently won't go down so well and will sit hard in my stomach. Fatty foods will also be something I will want to stay away from. Again, they will upset my stomach and leave me feeling bad. Yuck.

Getting enough protein in my diet will be a challenge, so I will be drinking protein drinks and adding protein powder to some of the foods I eat. I hear this can be a challenge, because it's hard to find a decent tasting protein drink. But I do have a couple of recommendations of some better tasting ones, so lets hope they are right. :)

For 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after the surgery I will be on a liquid diet. Before the surgery this is to help shrink my liver and reduce any fats that are on it. They have to move the liver out of the way for the operation and this makes it easier for them and less painful for me. I'm assuming that after the surgery, the liquid diet is continued to avoid any undue stress on the stomach as it heals. After the liquid diet, I will be on a soft foods diet for 2 weeks, and then eventually I will be able to eat "normal" foods.

I have heard that even going to the "normal" foods can be a challenge because your body has changed and you have to re-learn what your stomach can and can't handle. Even though most foods will be on the "allowed" foods list, that doesn't mean my stomach will do well with all of them. I know someone who a difficult time not being able to eat foods that she had previously enjoyed even though they were foods she was allowed to have. She's had to find the new foods that work for her by trial and error. I don't look forward to this process, but que cera, cera.

I will also have to drink 64 oz of liquids a day, but I won't be able to drink at mealtime anymore. This means I will be sipping water all throughout the day. But if I remember right, the literature they gave me said that protein drinks and other liquids allowed on the liquid diet count toward these required ounces.

There is a lot to take in whith this whole process. It won't be easy, but I truly feel I have to do this. As you can see, this isn't an easy way out or a quick fix. I will be foreced to make healthy changes, changes I have not been able to make and maintain in the past. But with the surgery, I won't have a choice. I will have to make the changes or risk my comfort, my health, and even my life. I hate having to go to such drastic lengths, but it will be worth it to be able to be around to enjoy my family!

Calories vs Fat Guidelines

(Originally posted to FB on October 30, 2011)

One of the things we learned in nutrition class this last week was what the ratio of calories and fat should be per serving. They were teaching us how to read labels. I used this info today when we went grocery shopping. I thought it might be useful to some of you as well.

Remember, this is PER SERVING, so check the label carefully:

Calories/Fat Grams

Nutrition Class

(Originally Posted to FB on October 27, 2011)

One of my requirements for having the surgery is that I have to take 6 nutrition classes. I took my first one last week, and my second one was today.

Last week the girl that led the class was extremely annoying. I can't tell you how many times I heard, "Just, like, Google it." And it didn't help that the information she covered was all stuff that I knew. Well, I did learn one new thing. Did you realize that the average person consumes about 2,000 calories when eating at a buffet?! Yep! An entire day's worth of food in one meal. So, no buffets for me anymore...not that I eat at them very often anyway.

This week was a good class. The guy that led it was much better! He was friendly, helpful, patient, and didn't tell us once to, "like, Google it." Today's class was about reading labels. I already knew a little about labels, but I got some good new info too.

And the best part about today's class? Well, we have to weigh in at each of these classes and I have lost 3 lbs since last week! Woo hoo!! I do have a goal weight I'd like to reach before the surgery to get me a little healthier. The healthier I am for the surgery, the better I will be able to recover.