This is not something I talk about much because…emotional. I shaved my head recently and then saw a pic of my mom posted from a recent family get-together which prompted me to create this collage.
A bit over 10yrs ago, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had to have a partial mastectomy and suffer through months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, hospitalization and hair loss. She fought…and won!! The cancer went into remission.
Unfortunately, about a year ago, my mom’s breast cancer returned. She had a medical incident that presented in symptoms that mirrored a stroke. I remember the call from my aunt (a nurse by trade) telling me that they were at the hospital (my dad and both of her sisters were with her). The breast cancer had come back and metastasized to her groin, abdomen and brain.
The cancer and the treatment have intensely changed my perspective of our relationship. My mother has always been strong, active, vital; she’s always been the caregiver. Seeing her weakened by the treatments, unable to eat and losing weight, unable to get up and move around unassisted has been difficult for me. I think it’s been particularly hard since we live in different parts of the state so I can’t be there everyday. Add to that, worrying about my dad who is older and not in the best of health and being unexpectedly thrust into a role as primary caregiver; it’s a lot for us all.
In the midst of it all, the picture of my mom didn’t make me think about all the changes in our lives, the treatments and the care. All I could think of is how much I love my mom’s face. I love all of the ways my face resembles hers. I think of all the lessons she’s given me to prepare me for life. I think of how much I love her and want her to feel as cared for and loved by others as she has made others feel; she deserves that.
The cancer is not gone but she’s on the mend. Treatments are done, tumors are shrinking and she’s regained some of her strength but she still has a long way to go to recovery but she’s here and I am thankful for everyday God blesses us with.
The other day, I let my daughter take my picture. They were full length pics which I hate. Most days, I feel uncomfortable in my skin so when I look at pictures, all I can see are the imperfections. My daughter is a good hype-woman and one of my biggest cheerleaders so I let her take the pic and I actually felt cute. I decided to share and talk about extreme weight loss highs and lows from my perspective.
I used to weigh 226.796kg (500lbs). Here I am 150lbs down. I realize that is quite an accomplishment; it’s the smallest I’ve been in about 15yrs. You know what I see when I look at this picture? 70+lbs of loose skin in my belly, thighs and arms. That was one thing I didn’t know to expect with extreme weight loss; some days it bothers me more than others but I’m always aware of it and it makes me more self-conscious than when I was heavier. I am not a fan of the jiggly bits I have now that were solid when I was heavier.
Here is another picture my daughter took…
I have always been curvy and now that I am smaller, I do notice that my waist is more pronounced and my butt and hips are more shapely. My thighs are super jiggly from the excess skin but it is what it is. I know that will change as I continue with my cardio and strength training.
I notice that my face is slimmer as well as my neck. What is most important is that I feel better; not getting short of breath walking from one room to the next, little to no joint pain and just an overall feeling good. I’m definitely not where I want to be but I wouldn’t change a thing about my journey.
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.
I’m not sure if I’ve discussed previously the fact that I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Originally, I had hyperthyroidism but then I had a chemical ablation about 20 years ago.
Well, among the many symptoms of a dysfunctional thyroid gland is hair thinning and hair loss. There are time where my hair comes out in my hands or sometimes fall out as I remove my headscarf in the morning. Sometimes, I lose patches or whole sections of hair. I take medication to do the job of my thyroid. Among the side effects of the medication is, you guessed it, hair thinning and hair loss. Of course, I have other symptoms associated with my lack of a thyroid like skin issues, difficulty regulating my body temperature and my medication causes frequent urination and excessive thirst and dry mouth. But hair loss is definitely the most visible
Since it is something I’ve dealt with for more than 20 years, I have no real attachment to my hair. I’ve shaved my head several times over the years because of the shedding and missing patches; it just is what it is. I’ve never felt like my hair is what makes me beautiful; it’s more of an accessory.
I am also a fan of wearing wigs and braids to change up my look.
The reason it the hair loss issue has come up for me now is that I’ve been trying to grow my hair out; and its been growing well. Well, after an adjustment to my meds, I’ve lost a large patch of hair on the side of my head. I can do some camouflage so it’s not noticeable but no more of my go-to headband. I’m going to have to go this weekend and get a haircut. Usually, I would just shave my head but I decided that I’m going to go for a stylish cut since it’s just coming out on the side so far. I’ll make sure to post pics of my new style 💇🏾♀️.
Often when I’m out, I’m reminded (in this case by a large, knotted bruise on my hip & butt) that many public places are not inclusive when it comes to fat people. Some people don’t like that word as a descriptor but I’m a lot less sensitive about it than I would’ve been two years ago at the beginning of my weight loss journey. Insert whatever word makes you more comfortable; I call a spade a spade.
I went to a sporting event this evening with a group and the seating was less than desirable for my height of 6ft and for sure not comfortable for my girth. I felt a bit like I imagine it would look to put a 10yr old in an umbrella stroller. You just pictured it and laughed…good. In years past, this situation would have sent me spiraling into despair. I would have asked for the car keys and professed to be A-OK. I would have sat in the car balling and then went home and stuffed my feelings down my throat in the form of excessive amounts of fatty food and beverages. Because let’s be honest, emotional eaters aren’t shoveling in salad 🙃. In all honesty, a couple of years ago, I would’ve avoided a group outing like the plague. But I digress.
Today, and many days before today now that I think about it, was different. Today, I created a different outcome. I was with people who value my emotional safety (that’s important) which helped me to maintain. Granted, I did not get to enjoy the game sitting with my group but I managed to find a comfortable space for myself and folks came and checked on me. This past couple of years has been such a journey of self-discovery and a few things I’ve gotten really good at are allowing myself to process through my feelings, transparency in expressing those feelings when needed and making sure I am comfortable in a space.
I find it interesting that here I am almost 2yrs post-op and down 110lbs and still having a hard time in a lot of spaces because of my size. I’m not saying that sports/concert venues, restaurants and modes of mass transport need to cater to me as a heavy person by posting this. I’m just pointing out what most people take for granted because it’s not something they ever have to think twice about. Do me a favor and take just a second to think about your friend or family member who may be a person of greater size the next time you breeze through a turnstile, slide easily into a booth at a restaurant, sit unobstructed down into a chair with arms, sit in a folding chair. No, you’re not responsible for decisions anyone has made or actions they have taken to make them heavy. But maybe taking just a moment to think of these people in these situations and the countless other situations that come up to remind them that life isn’t kind to fat people, you might choose to show a little extra grace and a little more kindness; both really contagious and worth catching.
One of my biggest anxieties comes from hearing my recorded voice or seeing myself on camera. Let me classify that; seeing my WHOLE body in pictures or videos. Well, I’m stepping into a new boldness in 2018 (although I’m feeling a bit nervous about it 🤣).
At my church, they record welcome videos that show right after Worship Service. I participated in the filming of two videos that will be featured in the coming weeks. Here’s the real biggie though. This past Sunday at church, we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr; the man and his message. How far we’ve come toward equality and how far we have to go. I was asked to sing Take My Hand, Precious Lord which is not a big deal. I enjoy singing and especially ‘making a joyful noise’. I was audio recorded for the weekly podcast which I knew and had wrapped my head around. I also knew that I was video recorded. When one of the pastors texted and asked if about posting the video, I gave an immediate yes. Please don’t think it was because I was feeling super confident about it, because I wasn’t. I hadn’t seen the video or heard all of the audio and all of my anxiety and insecurities came bubbling up with the doubt talk. It wasn’t perfect. You were kinda pitchy at that one part. Your tempo was all over. People are going to be staring at you. What if you look gross (losing 100+ lbs does not quiet your issues with body image). Well, I managed to push those thoughts aside and I. Said. Yes. Then, I sat and watched a video of myself; twice. I watched it once without sound and then again with sound. The first time through, I was anxious and nauseous and I felt like my heart was jump out of my chest. I realized I wasn’t dead 😊. Watching it the second time was a lot less stressful. I’m glad I chose the uncomfortable yes. It was scary and new but you know what? I’m looking forward to doing it again.
2017 was quite a year for my family and I; full of plenty of highs, lows and lots of in between.
New Year 2017
New Year 2018
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.
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.
The title was not my attempt at being clever. This post is going to be about my face.
If I’m being honest, most days, I don’t think a whole lot about my face. I get up, wash, tone, moisturize (with SPF) and then repeat the process before bed. That’s more out of routine than anything else. Lately though, I think about my face a lot. I pay it a lot of attention and it makes me feel sad. I’m sad about the signs of aging that I’m starting to see waaaaaayyyyyy more of. The breakouts I’m having since the year I turned 40 would bring a teenager to tears. And where the hell are all these moles and freckles coming from? Plucking, twerking and waxing could be a full time job at this point. With all the time I spend on maintenance, just trying to maintain my baseline, I wonder how I ever found time to get up and put on a full face everyday. I guess I’m really starting to really appreciate the ugly side of keeping it pretty 🤓.
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.
I am one busy lady!!! I wanted to make sure to write on the anniversary of my surgery though.
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!!!
I am down -.2lbs this week!! Yes, you read that right. I am going to celebrate it because it is my ‘cycle’ week and I am a bloated, emotional mess and I need a reason to celebrate. In all seriousness, I usually gain 3-5lbs during my lady time to fact that I had any loss at all makes me want to shout from the mountain tops.
For those of you keeping track, it is day 5 of my beverage cleanse. I have not had any caffeine withdrawal headaches like I thought I would so that’s a plus. One thing that this is helping me realize is that I really like coffee…and wine. Also, I miss how comforting it is to have a warm tasty beverage when you’re not feeling well or when you want to relax at the end of a long day. 5 more days to go and then I will give the run-down of my whole experience.