Walk of Shame


It has been over 18 months since my last post. That is a confession in itself! Life has thrown a number of stumbling blocks my way and like a fool, I let them distract me from discipline.

Last month, I went back to my Bariatric Doctor with my tail between my legs, embarrassed and feeling like a failure. I had reached a weight I said I’d never go back to, ever. And yet there I was, 25 pounds more than my last visit, losing meals regularly and finding foods high in carbs that stayed down. My evening snacking behavior had returned, mostly because I had lost my dinner and was hungry at 8:30pm. The fact that my husband seemed to be able to have evening snacks, including ice cream, made me feel like I deserved it as well.

I had 6 months in PT for severe tendonitis in my right foot. For most of that time I was limited to 10-15 minutes of walking. A far stretch from what I had been doing the year before. I gained 20 of those pounds during that time.

I had a series of viruses, colds, allergic reactions, new diagnoses like Menieres that mean treadmills and ellipticals are forever banned. My Pilates routine was disrupted by the business moving further away and focusing more on meditation and yoga, in which I have no interest. My running is derailed for a while until my foot has fully healed.

Excuses? Well, all these things led to excuses. I’m too tired. There is no exercise I can do. I deserve a break today. And sometime during that pity-party time, I stopped stepping on the scale. Because I cried every time I did.

We had a major remodel of our kitchen in 2015, so food preparation was limited. I started choosing foods that were higher in carbs and lower in protein. Someplace in that time, I decided my tea wasn’t sweet enough and had increased my raw sugar intake as well.

i was not happy with myself. I had failed, when I said I wouldn’t let that happen! What do you do then? How do you motivate yourself to get out of the bad habits? I guess the same way as before the lap-band. You just decide you don’t like the added weight. Your body reminds you of issues like arthritis that you hadn’t suffered for a while. You look in the mirror and shudder. You try very hard to do a selfie without a double chin. You struggle with buying new clothes, and being comfortable.

Sometime last month, things clicked in me and I just couldn’t take the gain anymore. I did go back with my tail between my legs, got some fluid removed so meals could stay down, listened to the nutritionist remind me of good eating habits, and started journaling my food again. What a difference that alone makes! If I’m honest, and journal everything that goes in my mouth, and let my FitBit tell me if I was active enough, my head seems to follow. I’m eating much less. I cut out the carbs of potatoes, most grains and convenience foods. Up with the protein, fruits and vegetables! I’m losing weight again.

Did you hear that? I’m going down again! I’m down 12 pounds since last January! That’s a healthy rate, by the way. A few snug clothes are a bit more comfortable. The arthritis pain is already gone. And that encourages me to move more.

Then life throws in a few changes. Very high heat index. Upcoming surgery. Visits and traveling. How can I stay motivated? How can I keep from being distracted by these changes? How can I increase exercise? Will I ever be able to run again?

I’m not sure I have the answers. I need support from others in the same position. I need to keep my expectations realistic. I need to turn quickly away from a bad habit returning. I need to step on the scale and let it give me the feedback I need.

A healthy, active lifestyle is what I need, with no more than 1200 calories a day. I hope my next blog entry is not so far away, with more admissions of failure. I want to stay accountable, even if no one reads this except me.

So, about 20 pounds to get to where I was, and then another 20 pounds to get where my doctor wants me. At 2 pounds a month, that is 20 months. I need to be in this for the long haul, that’s for sure!

Slow Recovery


My last post talked about a 15 pound gain after a summer-long illness.  Once the meds left my system, I lost half the weight gain.  But I’m struggling with water gains and losses in the last two months.  I assume I need to be much more diligent about salt intake.

Meanwhile, I have tried to get more active, only to be thwarted by the high pollen counts in the Midwest this year.  So I’ve had successes, but also setbacks. Allergy congestion means drainage which seems to tighten the band and cause distress a couple of times a week.  So I’ve been on ground meats and stayed away from vegetables that can cause me problems.
I’ve given up the desire to run 5Ks until next year. I’ve been trying to increase my walking, but I fall very short of my exercise patterns of last spring.
So 2014 will not be the year I get the last 15 pounds off.  I’m hoping for a hard freeze soon and then maybe an Indian Summer before the cold winter begins.  A bit more aggressive walking would be good if allergies can be minimized.
I’m reluctant to go in for a band adjustment.  Looser would not be good and tightening would likely make more days on liquids and soft foods.  So I’m likely in the “sweet spot” with my band.  

Set Backs


I haven’t posted in a while.  Things have been going OK.  I hadn’t been losing more weight- the last 15-20 pounds- but I wasn’t gaining.  My exercise plan was working- Pilates, walk/run, walking several times a week, and more.  Eating had been under control and the Band was working.  I went to China of for two weeks and came back from vacation feeling great with no weight gain.

Then came the summer cold to end all colds.   A month of inactivity, lack of sleep because of meds, restricted breathing that makes even a climb upstairs leaving me tired, and then…a gain of 15 pounds!
I can’t do much yet other than start logging my food and watching how much I’m eating.  But it will take jump-starting m y exercise plan to begin losing the weight.
I’m beside myself.  Pollen counts are very high and going outside triggers the restricted breathing.  So I have to wait..recover..do the best I can to not gain anymore weight. And. Not. Give. Up!!

Looking back, before/after and moving forward

It usually starts with, “how many pounds have you lost?!” but the story of my journey is so much more than pounds.  I am no longer diabetic.  My arthritis does not bother me anymore. My blood pressure is almost always in the normal or low range.  I can climb, hike, run, jump and not have aching bones, or muscles that are weak. And while my aging body has generated a few new illnesses, they are much more manageable with a lower weight.  So what is the whole story, the bigger picture of being a Banded Becky?

It started with me collecting photos I’d taken or had taken during my Lab-Band Journey.  Then I had to print them.  Then I wondered what the charts would say about weight and BMI. Someone suggested that I take body measurements during my journey, but I had never looked at the story the data told.

The photos:
The camera doesn’t lie- unless you get carried away with Photoshop!  I did two galleries.  The first is as series of full body photos and the second is just my face.  The thing is, when I look in the mirror, I don’t see or remember the changes.  The photo series blew my mind.  

The numbers:
Then I looked at the charts of my weight and BMI:

Again, looking back over my journey, I knew I had lost weight.  I knew I was wearing a LOT smaller sized wardrobe.  But the charts seem to exaggerate the loss over the last thee years.

I’ve been keeping certain measurements- hip, waist, chest, thigh, calf, bicep, neck, and bra size.  How does a total of minus 29 inches sound?  Pretty amazing!  It does explain why I’ve had to get rid of multiple wardrobes!
Going forward, I still have weight to lose.  In the BMI chart I added a projected weight in the future where I would be considered at a “healthy” weight.  Time is not reflected in the graph!  Pounds are harder to lose now, 2.5 years out from surgery.  Another 15 pounds off my bones would be great!
The title of my blog talks about my journey to a size 12.  It seemed an impossible goal five years ago, yet here I am! I have lost about 65 pounds since April 2011, which was six months before my surgery.
But Lap Bands are forever!  I will continue to work to get these last pounds off.  But I’ll tell you a secret- I can fit into most size 12 clothes!  Sometimes a size 14, sometimes a Medium.  But I am almost there!  

Health and the Holidays


I’m in a holding pattern these days.  I’ve had to reduce exercise for what has been diagnosed as Meniere’s Disease, a problem with the inner ear that causes dizziness, nausea and vertigo.  It sort of stopped my exercise cold, kept me home for days because I didn’t feel like I could drive safely, and in general, messed up my life for a few weeks.  The medications are helping, so I hope after the New Year, I can find some exercise that doesn’t require a great deal of balance or twisting motion!

I’ve not have a big appetite during the holidays – now that is something that is good!  And it has been a bit easier for me to control over eating simply because most everything people bring to gatherings has dairy – which I can’t eat anymore. (This is NOT related to the Band.) It is a bit easier to say no when you think of the consequences of being sick the next day.  I’ve had my moments, but on the whole, I’m within my calorie and quantity goals weekly.

All that to say, the holding pattern is in effect, meaning, I’m not losing those last 20 pounds!  My journey to a size 12 is a little stalled at the size 14, with some size 12s fitting.  So I’m close!  I’m certainly healthier.  Emotions have not caused me to overeat like they would have in the past.  I’m more mindful of what I eat.  I eat more slowly than ever before.  I still have foods that I cannot eat.

So, it has been 27 months since surgery, and at least that long since bread, pasta or rice.  Unbelievable!  That is what I would have told you three years ago!  But you adjust, and the importance of things change when your priorities change.  I do get full with less food.  I do have to watch what I eat, how well I chew, how fast I eat a meal.  This will always be with me.  Fast food is not an option for me unless it is a protein bar and fruit, or Wendy’s chili and a side salad.

Now ask me if it’s worth it.

Absolutely YES!!  I can move, run, jump, climb, walk up stairs, bend, and so much more.  I don’t have hip or knee pain, or arthritis, no more blood sugar and diabetes, my blood pressure is under control, my cholesterol is managed, and the list goes on.  My quality of life is so much improved, that these little inconveniences are just that, little. And I would do it all over again, except I wouldn’t wait as long!

My goal right now is to NOT gain those 15 pounds during the winter like I did last year.  I am just less active in the cold weather. So January, if the dizziness is under control, I need to find ways to move that burn calories and don’t mess up my inner ear.

Allergy Season is limiting my exercise!


It’s hard to believe, but its been over a year since I posted.  So much has happened, I can’t possibly catch up! A brief overview:  I stayed at a plateau for over six months.  Then in the winter, I gained 15 pounds.  Argh!  I need a plan for this winter to keep up the exercise routine.  I’ve also had a few non-weight loss health issues that have changed which exercises I can do.  I did run a 5K 4th of July and once again participated in the Mayor’s Fitness Challenge of posting minutes of activity each day for 8 weeks.  I did loose the 15 pounds and my doctor wants me to loose the last 20 that would take me to the top of the range for my height.

My current drama is an ear infection that makes me dizzy.  A minor set back to my exercise plan!  Being outside during Chicagoland’s high allergy season is keeping me inside. My lungs do not like the pollen!  So what is a bander to do? Pilates, mall walking, and I’m open to other choices!  I haven’t been willing to try exercise classes at the Park District because I didn’t know if I could keep up, but I may have to to get some calories burned!  I have continued to do my run/walks.  As soon as the first freeze, I’ll start again.

Exercise continues to be my challenge.  I get busy, find excuses and get bored.  I feel great after, can do so much more, like run, hike up mountains, run up stairs, but yet I fall into old habits.  When I get myself focused and develop a plan, I get sick or have a family emergency and have trouble kick-starting the exercise.  Any ideas out there?

Progress with Walk/Runs


I did another walk/run this morning. About 3.5 miles and 60+ minutes of activity. About one third of my steps were “running” according to my Striiv. A few notes to myself:
1. Find something to keep the sweat out of my eyes.
2. Gotta get clothes that are a bit less in coverage, more absorbent, and thus, less hot!
3. Make sure my iPhone is charged so I can use those nifty Apps like Runtastic Pro and Heart Rate and to be able to make a call if I need to!
4. Get air in my bike tires so I can ride my bike! Which is what I had planned to do this morning.
5. Consider sunglasses and a hat.
6. Do something about that left hip!
7. There is a noticeable difference having the insoles in my running shoes! I won’t make that mistake again!

It was successful today. I had a 200 calorie bar that had both protein and carbs in it for breakfast. I got a good 2 glasses of water in before I went out and took 2 more with me which I drank while I was out. I had an early lunch after a shower. I walked for 5-10 minutes and then stopped to stretch. When I got home I did several stretches for my legs. My Striiv says I burned 650 calories. Not bad.

I signed up for the Firecracker 5K on July 4th here in Warrenville. It is a walk/run, so I think I’ll be fine. It is more to do it and finish that drives me. It will be my first!

I’m excited about those changes. I have no idea where I’ll be going with it. I’m not sure I can see myself running in winter. Time will tell!

Walk/Run – A First Try


Exercise continues to be my difficulty. My weakness. I do not have discipline in this area. I am continuing to loose weight, but at a slower pace. I have had a rough winter, health-wise. I had extended stays with my parents to help out in Florida. Then a sinus infection, which went into an ear infection. Shortly after, I had a major allergic reaction to something, probably a med. For several weeks I was in pain and itched! The meds for it were worse than the rash. I had a cyst removed from my underarm. Then a molar pulled. And then a virus that turned into bronchitis and another ear infection. My immune system has been under attack!

All that to say, my meager exercise routines got trashed during the last few months and I am trying to get back into routines. I am doing Pilates, which I really like. My core muscles are starting to respond with some strength! It is not cardio, but I really feel like I’ve had a workout! I’m trying to get out walking. Last week, when I was walking in the neighborhood, a bee kept buzzing around my head. I walked faster. It kept up with me. Then I did something I haven’t done in many years- I ran away. And it felt good, so I kept running. It wasn’t far, but it caused me to think of what has been the impossible for me- to run for exercise.

So what do I need? How do I start? These questions came up in my therapy session (I am still dealing with food issues, mindless eating occurrences, emotional eating and the like) and I was told all I need is a sports bra and running shoes. The suggestion: walk for a while, set as goal to run when I get to an object I’ve picked, and then run until I get to the next object I’ve picked. That’s what I did today.

I started out in the neighborhood on pavement. I chose the cul-de-sac intersection on the next block for my first run, and chose the traffic cone as my stopping point for that run. And so it went, setting small goals, working on running short distances, and walking fast in between.

First mistake: not planning a route. I ended up on a forest preserve path that took me quite far from home, making it quite a walk to get back. Second mistake: forgetting a bottle of water! Duh!

But, on the whole, I did what I started out to do. I ran. I walked. I set small goals. I achieved most of those goals. What gave out first? My lungs. Given I’ve just gotten over bronchitis, that shouldn’t surprise me.

I was out running/walking for over an hour! I remembered to start a stopwatch so I’d know how long I was out. I had my Striiv pedometer to track steps, effort, running steps, climbing and calories burned. (4 miles, 717 calories, 9200 steps including 1500 running steps). Part way through I remembered I had an App that would chart my run, speed, distance and the liked and started it. It charted 17 of the 60 minutes.

About 45 minutes into the walk/run, my hip and knee on the left side began to hurt. Not injured-hurt, just sore and tired hurt. So the last 15 minutes was walking at a normal pace. I am now home with ice on the hip and knee. Sigh.

What did I learn? Overdoing it isn’t the best way to start. Walk/running is actually enjoyable. I need shorts or light weight capris. The shoes are a good fit. The sports bra actually worked. I might do this again, but in a bit more imited, controlled exercise until my lungs and hip/knee are stronger.

So, after 40- some years, and minus almost 60 pounds, I am starting to run. For exercise. I have no delusions about becoming a marathon runner, or running long distance. But for daily exercise? This may work.

My current plan: Pilates once a week. Bike once a week. Walk/run once a week. That sound almost doable!

Four months banded


The lack of posts and updates is evidence of not only a busy holiday season, but also an extended trip to help my parents!

I went for a Lap-Band check up today. I lost 9.7 pounds in two months! I’m now down 52 pounds and over half way to the goal I’ve set. The weight loss has slowed but continues. I did not get a fill today as the surgeon feels the band is working. I feel satisfied with three meals a day and no snacks. I’m getting in my protein and water. I’m loosing, but could loose more if I got my exercise routine discipline working for me.

I’m happy with the weight loss so far, but do realize I can’t get it all off without physical activity increasing. I’m battling congestion in my ears and head and it is hard to motivate myself to get moving!

It was a stressful three weeks in Florida. I did well on my eating but much of my time was needed to help with my mom. I needed to let my dad get a break from the 24/7 care. I enjoyed my time with them, lost four pounds while there, and lived through some stressful medical issues without turning to food!

I’m home but overwhelmed with all that I need to do and totally unsure of where to begin, or what needs to be done first. Tomorrow I will work on my list of things to do and prioritize. I hope to go to the cardio class for the Bariatric Group to see how that might fit in my schedule, I could try to get some strength training in if I’m not dizzy like I was today. This ear congestion makes me want to sit and the eye and head congestion makes me feel fuzzy.

I’m eating about 1,000 calories a day now. I have yet to try bread, rice or pasta. I tried pistachios today and I think I will not have nuts for a while yet as it felt a bit uncomfortable. I can only do pork tenderloin, not loin chops. I’ve had beef tenderloin and stew meat. Chicken and turkey if not cooked dry are great, but my favorite is salmon! Tilapia and shrimp don’t seem to keep me feeling full long enough so I stay away from them.

While in Florida, I got some new clothes. I’m amazed at the sizes- some 16, but also a few size 14! My goal of a size 12 may be too modest! A lot of people are noticing my weight loss and say I look good, especially when I’m wearing clothes that fit instead of the baggy look I’ve had after surgery.

I find I’m still having trouble when I’m eating with a group. I must eat faster or not chew enough, cause I’ve had that breastbone pain that sometimes results in vomiting my meal. It has helped to go to a liquid diet in those cases until my stomach calms down.

I’ve added coconut milk fudgesicles to my evening time a few days a week. Something cold does feel good at night. I found that Meyer lemons are wonderful in hot tea with honey. I resurrected my old tuna fruity salad (recipe to follow) and it was a wonderful lunch. I got a subscription to Cooking Light to get new ideas for meals.

So, I’m not working. Probably a good thing given my need to help my parents and be available when my kids are around. But work did add structure to my day, I had to drop my photography class this semester. That I will miss. Now I just need to get organized and productive with tasks here at home!

Tuna Fruitty Salad

1 5 oz. can tuna, drained (I use white albacore)
1 8 oz. can sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple in its own juice, not drained
2 tablespoons light mayo
1/2 teaspoon ginger

Mix all ingredients. Split into two servings. Nutritional data: 197 calories, 4g fat, 1g saturated fat, 31mg cholesterol, 27g carbs, 14 g protein, 254 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 16 g sugar, 12 mg vitamin C, 2mg calcium, 3mg iron.

An Expulsive Power of a New Affection


I am struck by the words expulsive, impulsive, compulsive and propulsive. All have to do with a driving force.

I have impulsive and compulsive habits. Some of these habits are related to food.

The love of God can both expel the love of the world from me and impel me to move toward His love. He can compel me to seek Him. His power can propel me to holiness.

In me are many driving forces in me to do actions: to satisfy my desires, to covet things of the world, to want to change, to seek God. What is driving me? Is my driving force God’s love or the love of the world and it’s pleasures?

I’m reading the sermon by Thomas Chalmers, “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.” It is new words for a truth I know, but have not applied recently. It is not enough to get my bad eating habits out of me. (And I can’t even do this by reason or personal strength.) I need an expulsive power from outside of me to force those food affections out of me AND to impel me to move to God so that He can compel me to seek Him. I need to be propelled forward to new habits and behaviors that are God-pleasing.

I know these things. But I don’t KNOW them. I need that expulsive power of a new affection to both remove the affections I have for food AND to supplant these desires with new ones: specifically, a greater love of God. He needs to mean more to me than worldly desires.

All these words come from the Latin, pellere, which means drive. I need to understand what drives me, motivates me, compels me to action. And I need to give these drives to God and ask Him to supplant them with the drives that will cause me to seek Him, to love Him, and to desire Him, above all else.

So Yahweh, this is what I ask for a Christmas present. That You would expel the affections I have for food and the world by planting in me a greater affection for You. That You would impel me to seek You. That You would give me compulsions that are God-ly. That You would drive me, propel me, to Your heart.

I give You my bad habits, my compulsions for food, my impulsive behaviors. I ask that You give me a new affection: a passion for You.

Amen and Amen!