Category Archives: Giving Thanks

Happy Surgi-versary To Meeeee 🎶

I’ve wrestled with writing this post for about a week now. I’ve been pretty transparent as it pertains to my health and weight loss journey but it’s still a struggle to put myself out there sometimes; too vulnerable and exposed. I find it to be both frightening and cathartic. I worry that people will feel like me sharing is giving them permission to comment on my body; it doesn’t, but they will and it is what it is. Ultimately, I decided to share because I am damn proud of myself. Plus, if my sharing helps motivate even one person then I will be happy.

July 31st was my 3-year surgi-versary; the anniversary of having my adjustable gastric band placed. There are those that think a surgical intervention makes losing weight an easy thing; that is a big misconception. Surgical intervention is a tool; diet and exercise is still a vital part of reaching my health and wellness goals.

As my weight loss journey continues, I focus less on the numbers on the scale. I know that I have lost quite a bit of weight although I still have a hard time convincing my brain of that fact. But as I was looking at old pictures and preparing this post, I was encouraged to focus on the feelings from then and now.

I was 497lbs at my heaviest; now, I weigh…less.

I don’t think I was unhappy when I was heavier but it was definitely limiting and I was for sure uncomfortable…always uncomfortable. I couldn’t breathe very well, moving around was cumbersome and painful and my joints were always swollen and aching. My doctor at the time was always telling me I just needed to be more active but that wasn’t my reality. Walking from the house to the car often left me winded. I would try to walk for exercise but a 5-minute walk would result in excruciating lower back pain as well pain and numbness in my hips and legs. I did find a water aerobics class which was awesome for being able to get some exercise without the weight and pressure on my bones and joints. Now, I can do my 1-mile walk in the mornings without thinking twice about it. I’m able to bend down and tie my own shoes which I couldn’t do previously. My only aches and pains are from a hard workout.

Adventures with my wife are a lot better now

One constant is that Tomi has never loved me any differently through all of my physical and emotional changes. She’s always been consistent and my biggest cheerleader. I didn’t stop doing things just because was heavier than I’d ever been. I still fixed myself up and put on a brave face when Tomi and I went out. It wasn’t until I started making moves toward my surgery that I truly expressed to her some of my feelings and experiences of navigating life in a fat body. It was eye-opening for her to discover that the thought of going out to eat was super stressful for me. Why? What if the chairs have arms? Not to mention I was convinced that people were watching to see what I ordered and how much I ate. I love to dance but going dancing meant I may get through one song but then we’d spend the remainder of the night sitting at the table and nursing a drink. I think the hardest thing to share was that I considered breaking up with her because I wanted her to be able to go out and be able to have the life I felt like I was holding her back from. Now that I am smaller and definitely more comfortable in my skin, my bravery and sense of adventure has kicked into overdrive. I am saying yes more because I’m not in pain, I’m less apprehensive about what people will think and I can advocate for myself in a way that doesn’t bring extra attention and embarrassment. We go on hikes, ride gondolas and I can sit in a camp chair without the fear of it toppling under my girth. It might sound like a small thing but a very big deal for me.

Full body shot…my least favorite type of photo. On the left…about 6 months post-surgery.
On the left…1 month before my wedding; 3yrs before surgery. On the right…2 months ago in Vegas.

I’ve always had a love/ hate relationship with pictures. I love the idea of capturing memories but hate the idea of capturing the truth of how I look. I’m slowly but surely coming around. I am working on loving my body through all the phases of my journey. Just like before my weight loss, I still have a hard time loving how i look with and without clothes but I must admit that now, I have more good days than bad. My brain sometimes doesn’t register the changes my body has undergone which is when pics are helpful. I am feeling good about being able to buy clothes off the rack and sit where I want and go on hikes and dance the night away. Most importantly, I am proud of myself for putting in the work.

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Birthday Behavior: Full-Figured and Feeling Myself…Finally

For those not in the know, June is my birthday month. I’ve always loved celebrating my birthday, being with those that I love and who love me back and most importantly, reflecting on the year I had and focusing on the year to come.

Well, this year feels different. I have been/ am working on me; spiritually, mentally, physically & emotionally. I have been on a long journey with regards to my physical health. I have been more focused and putting in the work with diet and exercise and I am feeling myself a little bit 😉. I have worked on loving myself through every phase of my journey which is not always easy but, I’ve found, very necessary in my process and progress. I am feeling more confident, but not the fake confidence of my past. You know, the feigned exuberance often used as a defense mechanism to keep people from trying to dig too deep? Just me? Well, I feel good now, better than I’ve felt in years and my shine…it’s like I can’t turn it down. I gotta shine no matter what!!

I’m not where I want to be but I’m definitely on my way. Do I hate working out? Absolutely!! But I love the way I feel afterward. Some days, it’s hard to love what I see in the mirror as my body changes. But, even on the difficult days, I look at myself everyday in a full-length mirror and I tell the woman that I see there that I love her and that though the journey is hard, she is worthy and worth it. I took a picture of myself on our recent trip to Vegas and I struggled with whether to share it. When I first took it, I loved it but then slowly started to pick myself apart. Well, FUNK THAT!! I can look at myself and see my blemishes as battle scars; that means I have survived many battles and I have so many things to be thankful for. I can look at my body, see the imperfections and find beauty in the fact that God allowed me to carry a life in my womb. I’m thankful for that. I am strong and all my parts are in good, working order. I am thankful for that. I have soundness of mind (most days). I am thankful for that. My spiritual foundation is strong and continually nurtured and growing. I am thankful for that. Most importantly, I feel all the feels about all the things. I no longer try to numb my feelings with food, drink and other forms of camouflage. I am thankful for that.

So, as my birthday approaches, I revel in all that I have learned and continue to discover about myself. Here I stand in all of my glory ready to shine, no matter what.

Happy Birthday, Baby Bean!!

This picture was taken about 24yrs ago.

JaLisa (about age 2; nearly 3) 93′-94′

I was in high school and had gone to a slumber hangout and took JaLisa with me. She always wanted to go with me EVERYWHERE and was never shy; cautious of new people but never shy.
As a child JaLisa was loud, ridiculous, funny, compassionate, loud, talkative, smart, friendly, generous, kind-hearted, spoiled, loud, imaginative, thoughtful, resilient, courageous, loud…
Here we are all these years later and she is still all of those things. She’s lived through a lot; more than most women her age and she’s still standing.

From birth I watched her scoot, crawl, walk and run. There was stumbling and falling but she got up and kept going.

From adolescence to adulthood, I watched her go through the same process from scoot to crawl to walk to run. Sometimes, things got out of order but Tomi & I, her grandparents and the rest of her ‘village’ were there to help guide, dress wounds from the falls, counsel and keep her moving ever forward.

And today, she enters her 27th year. She’s out there moving through life…from a scoot to a crawl to a walk and then a run. She stumbles and falls and we’re still here to guide her; kiss the boo-boos and hug the hurt and tears away. She needs to lean on us less, as is God’s design. More independence; less hand-holding. It’s like I blinked and my Baby Bean became a woman and I wasn’t ready.

Happy birthday to my Baby JaBisa Jell-no Bean!!

Black Girl Joy!!

Happy New Year!!

We made it to 2018!!

2017 was quite a year for my family and I; full of plenty of highs, lows and lots of in between.

We (Tomi & I) are -150 lighter between the 2 of us as we start this year.  We became homeowners this year. We have lost a few family members & friends (may they RIP) and gained a few new ones. We have both been working toward maintaining/ reestablishing familial relationships that have faltered along the way (such a long story-perhaps in a later post). The end of 2017 was particularly busy for us with traveling. We saw a lot of AMAZING concerts last year; the highlight of which was seeing Earth, Wind & Fire.

2018 won’t be quite as busy as last year for us when it comes to traveling but we have a few trips planned. Our oldest grandbaby (the only boy) graduates from high school this year. One of our daughters is getting married this year. Lord willing, we’ll celebrate another birthday and anniversary this year.

For me, 2018 will be a year of being intentional and consistent. I am really good and being consistently inconsistent. I’ve perfected over the last 20yrs or so. This year, I plan to step my game up and be more intentional about life as opposed to just letting life happen. I know that comes with being consistent. Some would say that it’s about time but I say that every day is a good day for a new beginning. Can I get an AMEN?!? I have been making lists, making plans and setting short/long-term goals. I’m trying to do an overhaul by making small changes (I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew) in several areas of my life where I want to be more consistent; working my business, blogging, skincare, continued weight loss, cleaning house, clearing debt.

This will be a year of fostering, maintaining or releasing relationships. I’m reaching out to those that have previously fallen by the wayside, I am putting in the work to maintain those and that are hanging out there by a thread and I am releasing, with love, those relationships that no longer serve me. I’ve learned that it’s OK to let go of those that don’t want to be a part of my life (and not take it personally) and also to allow myself to be let go of by others. I am going to be more intentional about fostering my relationship with God; spending time in fellowship with Him and in His word.

I’ve also been trying to adopt the action of doing little things with big love. Doing things for others and even for yourself does not always have to involve a grand gesture. Screenshot_20171211-202022.png

I’m stomping into 2018 with a new look, a new attitude and a new vision. I’m excited to see what this year brings.

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Weighing In: One Year Post Surgery

I know! I know! I’ve been missing in action lately (about 2 months) but I’ve got a good excuse; I’ve been busy living life. Work has been CRAZY busy, my wife and I both had birthdays and I put together a stellar birthday weekend with lots of travelling, we bought a house (we signed papers last Thursday and get the keys Monday after work) and I’m helping one of our daughters with wedding planning.

WNBA game, Mariner's game, Seattle Pride, and I wore a formal gown to work. My friends/co-workers glammed up my desk!!
Birthday weekend shenanigans!!
 I am one busy lady!!! I wanted to make sure to write on the anniversary of my surgery though.

Left: July 2016 Right: July 2017

I had my Lap Band surgery on July 29th, 2016. I was almost 500lbs. I had severe chronic back pain and sciatica, lymphedema of the legs, difficulty with movement and breathing and was always just generally uncomfortable. I didn’t get that way overnight. I definitely had an unhealthy relationship with food. I was as n emotional eater and developed an addiction; food was my drug of choice.

Fast forward 365 days…I am down -90lbs and holding. I have been at this current weight for about a month which is A-OK with me. The weight loss with the band has been slow and steady; about 2-3lbs loss per week on average. I’ve learned to have a different relationship with food for sure. Mental health counseling and medication helps me with finding healthier ways to process emotions, anxiety and depression. I’m able to eat about a shot glass amount of food at a sitting so what I choose to eat is super important; nothing too starchy or too fibrous. I also have to be cognizant of how quickly I eat; I have to make sure everything is chewed REALLY well. Because my stomach has limited space, gas or sort back up from eating too quickly can’t be expelled by a burp; I am literally unable.

This journey has been frustrating, scary and quite indelicate at times; for me and for my wife. She deserves an award. I had to learn to eat for sustenance and not allow my ‘eyes to be bigger than my stomach’; literally and figuratively. I had to learn that there are going to be things that I will never eat again and embrace that. Pancakes, waffles, bread…just a few of the things I used to love that I simply can’t have since the surgery. I also have to avoid other favorites like bananas and pineapples, asparagus and broccoli; anything too high in sugar or too stringy/fibrous. Totally worth it though. If i have the unfortunate incidence of food getting stuck on the way down or getting an air bubble trapped while eating, I get one of two results. If I’m lucky, I can stand and walk or put my arms over my head or drink a little bit of a warm beverage and coax it on through. What often happens (here’s the indelicate part) is that it gets stuck and my body forces it back out the way it came. Sounds simple right? Well, because the size of my working tummy is greatly reduced, it’s probably one of the most uncomfortable and excruciating things I’ve experienced.

Looking back would I make the decision to have the procedure again? Absolutely!! I have been able to completely discontinue 4 medications. I no longer have pain and swelling in my muscles and joints. I find that I am a lot more adventurous because I can walk and move for longer periods of time without having to rest. We’ve been on hikes and to festivals and sporting events; I’m experiencing a lot more of my life as opposed to being an observer. I’m able to buy clothes of the rack which I’ve been too big to do for years. It feels AMAZING to be able to walk into the store and try things on. Most importantly, I’m starting to have more days where I feel good in my skin. Not every day but most days and that is a good feeling.

This has been one of the most amazing years of my life!!!

New Year, Same Me (Which Is Cool Because Most Days, I Think I’m Pretty Dope)…

Well, it only took me half of the month to catch up on life enough to complete my first blog post of the year. So much for starting the year with a consistent weekly post. Sheesh!! Anyway, let me get you all caught up on the life and times of me.

I brought in the new year with my honey and some friends and doing what I love to do…singing. We went originally to watch the show and Micah and Cat invited me up to join them on a couple of numbers. It was a blast!! Good company, good wine, good food and great memories.

the-crew
Cat, Sara, Micah, Me, Tomi
the-singer
In my zone

As of last Friday (my weigh-in day), I am down 70lbs since this whole weight loss thing started (down 4lbs for the week). Physically, I feel fantastic. I can move around without pain and without getting winded. I had been on muscle relaxers for chronic back pain for years and I haven’t taken them since surgery day. I can climb up and down the stairs in my house without having to climb on hands and knees like a toddler. My wife and I can go on walks with the dogs. We can go out dancing and instead of just part of a song, I dance through several songs and only have to sit down because a song comes on that I don’t like. I am enjoying the new found freedom that losing weight has afforded me.

I do have to say that extreme weight loss is a blessing and a curse. It has been a mental test getting use to my body as it changes. There are parts of me that hang that didn’t use to. My skin feels different to me, my clothes fit differently. My skin is changing, my hair is changing. It’s definitely interesting getting to know myself all over again. I don’t always like how I look with or without clothes. Some days are definitely better than others but I am learning and coping as I go.

I’m learning a few things…

Working out needs to be a priority. It helps you have more effective weight loss and helps you to gain muscle while you are losing weight. I’m getting more consistent with workouts but it is still my least favorite thing to do.

It is super important to take care of yourself mentally. Make time to pray, meditate, journal and pamper yourself. All the change is a lot mentally so you do not want to neglect your self-care; whatever that looks like for you.

Get use to never eating a hot meal again. That sounds weird but I honestly have not had a hot meal since I had surgery. The reality is that you just can’t eat it fast enough. The one thing this surgery forces you to do is slow down. You have to chew more because you don’t want to swallow big chunks (even of soft food). Believe it or not, you will get use to it.

Surround yourself with positive people who want to see you succeed. They don’t have to be on a weight loss journey (although you should have a few of those people in your life). Just make sure that they are not the people who are constantly offering you all the junk food and starchy goodness. Make sure they are people who are willing to listen to the occasional rant about ill-fitting clothing and a not-so-delicious new food. Most importanly, they need to be good cheerleaders who are willing to encrourage and slap that muffin out of your hand if need be. Someone willing to go on a walk with you and your dogs or offer alternatives for getting together other than eating and drinking (crafting dates, walking dates, mani/pedi dates).

Now, we are all caught up and ready to get back to our regularly scheduled program. I will be back on Friday with my weekly weigh-in

 

Weekly Weigh-In

I missed a week but that was on purpose because I was upset by last week’s weight and I chose to wallow in it for a bit.

9/30/16-i gained back all of the pounds from last week. It was my cycle week and I was back on solid foods and I went a little crazy. I’m not making excuses; it is what it is. I’ve got to track all the things that could be a hindrance; what works, what doesn’t.

10/7/16-I’m down -5lbs. Yes!

I had an appointment with Dr. Fox (My surgeon) last week. I’ll have an appointment every month for the first year. Well, it really helped me out things into perspective. I have lost 7lbs this month. I should be looking to lose 7-11lbs per month which translates to approximately 1-3lbs weekly). Anything more than that is a rarity and not realistic. The weekly weigh-ins are important for helping you monitor your progress but ultimately, it’s about consistent and steady changes that bring the losses. I’ve been too focused on the weekly numbers and not the process and the journey overall.

I also need to celebrate my non-scale victories. Last weekend, we went to an amazing gospel concert in downtown Seattle. fb_img_1476041991192Festival of Praise Tour  is definitely worth catching if it comes to your town. Well, we Uber’d to the venue since we didn’t want to be all sweaty from walking. But, we walked back to the hotel after the show. I walked a half mile without stopping. No back pain, no stopping to find someplace to sit. It felt good to be able to do that when just months ago, there is no way I would have made it.

Then, on Sunday, we were driving around and took a wrong turn and ended up near the Museum of Flight. I love museums and this one was on my museum bucket list. I have lots of bucket lists; travel, concerts, museums, food…just to name a few. That’s for another time. Anywhooo…Tomi asked if I wanted to go so we did. We walked around there for hours climbing in and out of planes and the space shuttle. Yes, they have a genuine shuttle from NASA. It’s the training module they used. We had a great time and outside of a few bumps and bruises, I made it.

Last one,I swear! For years I have been too large to wear anything from Torrid. Tomi decided I deserved a shopping trip so we went to an outlet mall that had Torrid and Lane Bryant. I went to Torrid and I can now fit the clothes; tops and bottoms. *frolic*

I’ll be back for next week’s weigh-in.