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Happy Surgi-versary To Meeeee đŸŽ¶

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.

Weight Loss Journey Learnings

An article showed up in my Facebook memories that made me think about things that I’ve learned along my post-banding journey. I’ll share a few of the things I’ve experienced. The article speaks specifically about excess/ loose skin. Check it out here.

Thankfully, I was blessed with a tall (6ft tall since age 12), solidly-built frame, so as a larger woman I’ve got a lot of real estate; that has made my loose skin issues not as extreme. I have lost 150lbs since having my adjustable gastric band surgery in 2016. My loose skin is not quite as severe as what is shown in the video; mine is mostly my tummy and arms, my legs a little (mostly from the knees up). I can tell you that some of the ‘issues’ that have come with extreme weight loss have taken some getting used to but I’d still have made the choice to have my surgery; even knowing what I know now.

I’ve always been big but I was solid. As I’ve lost weight and my skin has gotten looser, things have gotten…jigglier. I have quite a ‘backside blessing’ courtesy of my Mama and a fantastic bloodline so that is still sitting pretty high but everything else has pretty much dropped. And let me tell you that no amount of girdling is able to control it, though it does reign things in a bit.

Something I’m sure a lot of people take for granted is putting on deodorant. Well, I have to be cognizant of the excess skin that falls into the way when I raise my arm. Talk about wings 😂!!

The skin of my legs has a mind of it’s own; dig that wiggle. It is definitely something you can’t help but be aware. When working out, things can get noisy. It’s just something you deal with and know that as you work out and eat well, there will be less to jiggle.

And then, there’s the belly. I have two words for you…Silky Underwear. I use this product every morning pre-workout and post shower in all my creasy parts; especially under my tummy. A little bit goes a long way. I would also keep a tube of diaper rash cream on hand; I use Desitin. Moisture is not your friend! I use the cream to treat the irritation (diaper rash) that happens underneath my panniculus.

I know that I joke and that this might sound unpleasant but I still feel my weight loss surgery was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I feel better than I’ve felt in more than a decade. I’m off of all of the chronic pain medications I was on previously. I am able to shop of the rack and seat belt issues are a thing of the past. I sat in the backseat of a Prius (Über) and had no problems. I am still learning how to love all of me, all the time. Also, while there are more clothes that I have access to (shopping off the rack is exhilarating…and intimidating), there is just as much of my wardrobe that has been rendered useless because I don’t like the way it looks on my lesser frame; still getting used to my body changes.

Whether you’re moving toward your goals through diet and exercise or bariatric surgery, remember to have grace toward yourself. There will be hard days, hell, hard hours. You’ll have to reset…maybe more than once. Whatever you ‘why’ is (it’s ok if it’s you), allow that to keep moving you forward. You got this!!

Weekly Weigh-In

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I’m feeling stuck…again. My weight this week was exactly the same as last week. That was a little deflating but I’ll take that over having a gain. I’m going to have to be more consistent about hitting the gym and eat way more veggies and a few less carbs.

This weekend, I posted a pic of me in my Mickey Mouse leggings. Two body shots in as many weeks? I’m feeling myself! I love them and felt like I look ok in them. It’s an extremely vulnerable place to be in for me, sharing myself. I find that in my vulnerability, there is strength. Luckily, I have an amazing support system which helps when I need a bit of shoring up.

I got to visit my home town this weekend. I got to see my parents and our youngest daughter (She just turned 26 on 1/23). I miss them so much so it also makes me feel ‘full’ to see them and be around them.20170129_093917

I also got to see cousins and countless others I have known my entire life who’ve become ‘family’. I’m glad we have our life in the the Tri-Cities and for all the ‘framily’ (friends that are like family) we’ve gained over the past 12yrs but there’s no place like home.

I’m off to another adventure until next week.

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.

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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 am a few days late with this one. I started back to work yesterday so I took advantage of every last bit of the weekend and spent little to no time with a screen in front of my face.

As of this past Friday (weigh day), I am down another -5.6lbs so I am at 449.2lbs. That is a total of -15.2lbs down since the surgery date (7/29/16) and -40lbs since my pre-surgery education (7/20/16).

I am feeling AMAZING!! Already I am better able to move around and breath. The constant swelling in my legs and feet has gone way down and is no longer painful and I can walk 20ft without excruciating back pain.

See you on Friday for the next weigh-day report!!

The 52 Lists Project: List 8

LIST YOUR FAVORITE QUOTES.

“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” – Audre Lorde

“Sometimes I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.” – Zora Neale Hurston

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” – Maya Angelou

“A crown, if it hurts us, is not worth wearing.” – Pearl Bailey

“I will not have my life narrowed down. I will not bow down to somebody else’s whim or to someone else’s ignorance.” = bell hooks

“Don’t wait around for other people to be happy for you. Any happiness you get you’ve got to make yourself.” – Alice Walker

“No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.” – Alice Walker

“Deal with yourself as an individual worthy of respect, and make everyone else deal with you the same way.” – Nikki Giovanni

“Give light and people will find the way.” – Ella Baker

TAKE ACTION: What do your favorite quotes have in common? Choose one qualitu or theme to incorporate into your daily life this week.

The 52 Lists Project: List 7

LIST ALL OF THE PEOPLE WHO BRIGHTEN YOUR DAY…

There really are too many to name but I will give a few…

  1. Tomi
  2. My Parents
  3. My Children
  4. My grandchildren
  5. My Siblings
  6. My nieces and nephews
  7. My church family
  8. My friends

TAKE ACTION: Write a sweet note to or do something thoughtful for one or some of these people who make your life easier, lighter and happier.

Weighing-In: Life & Weight Loss

It has been so long since I’ve blogged that I had a hard time deciding where to begin. Life has been happening all around me and I have just been rolling with the punches. I made the decision that I am going to live more deliberately as it pertains to every aspect of my life and that includes writing.

I went to a book signing recently and got to meet one of my favorite writers, Patricia Briggs. One of the things that she said was that if you want to be a writer, in her opinion, it is most prudent to write everyday. That way, you don’t have to work so hard to remember where you were when you left off. It is more beneficial to sit down with the goal of writing 5 pages a day then to block out large blocks of time. I am going to work really hard to incorporate that into my life. That being said, please be patient with me as I have quite a bit of catch up to do.

Patricia Briggs
Fan for life!!

Alright, first things first, lets talk weight! I have not lost any. I have a pretty good grasp on the healthy eating thing. I know what I ‘should’ be eating and most of the time, I do that. There are definitely times when I splurge on calories which I’ve got to get under control. That won’t be an option without physical damage post surgery and nobody wants that.

My major issue has been with incorporating exercise. I weigh almost 500 lbs; I feel fat and uncomfortable in general. Incorporating any type of aerobic exercise has proven painful. I can’t even make it through a quick jaunt to the grocery store for a few items after work without severe back and leg pain and having to take a sit break before heading out to the car.

Well, in doing some research, I have found my exercise!! I am joining a gym that is just down the road from my job and they offer water aerobics or Aqua Cardio, as they call it. I have my first class tomorrow. I’ve done water aerobics before and at this point, it is really my only options to get any type of exercise. My joints ache non-stop, my back pain is off the charts and I am always puffy and swollen. I love being in the water and I am looking forward to trying to get ‘better’ as I head toward surgery.

I have my 4th month of appointments on this coming Friday. We are about 60 days out from setting a surgery date. I have had most of my pre-surgery testing which included an EKG, Echocardiogram, Upper Gastrointestinal exam, abdominal xray, and pulmonary function test. I’ve still got to have a chest xray and an extensive lab panel. I have an appointment with my Pulmonology  /Sleep Specialist next month to make sure that my CPAP machine is in good working order. I’m feeling ready!!

 

 

The 52 Lists Project: List 4

This week was really fun for me because I got to talk about music; one of my favorite subjects.

LIST THE SOUNDTRACK OF YOUR LIFE RIGHT NOW

Oh boy!! Anyone that knows me knows that for me, this list could go on forever. I LOVE MUSIC!! Lots of different kinds of music. And I really LOVE a good love song. I ended up with two lists but I consolidated and came up with 30 songs that I have been listening to a lot lately.

  1. Breathe-Lalah Hathaway
  2. It’s My Time-Kelly Price
  3. Loved On Me-Fred Hammond
  4. Song Of Strength-Fred Hammond
  5. Electric Lady-Janelle Monae
  6. Alright-Ledisi
  7. I’m Prettier-Jill Scott
  8. Far Away-Kindred The Family Soul
  9. Prepared-Jill Scott
  10. Breathe-The Floacist
  11. Lettin Go!-Janelle Monae
  12. Give Me A Clean Heart-Fred Hammond
  13. Smile-Kirk Franklin
  14. New Day-Alicia Keys
  15. Get Me Bodied-Beyonce
  16. I Choose You-Sara Bareilles
  17. You Were Meant For Me-Lalah Hathaway
  18. I Blame You-Ledisi
  19. Leave-Tyrese
  20. Picture Perfect-Tyrese
  21. Hearsay-Calvin Richardson
  22. Yearnin’-Gap Band
  23. You’re So Amazing-Calvin Richardson
  24. The Way I Am-Ingrid Michaelson
  25. Brown Skin-India.Arie
  26. I Deserve It-Faith Evans
  27. Take Off The Blues-The Foreign Exchange
  28. I Like It-Sevyn Streeter
  29. Special Delivery-Bridget Kelly
  30. You & I-Avant (feat. Keke Wyatt)

TAKE ACTION: Make a playlist of these songs as a memento of the person that you are at this very moment. Revisit this list in the summertime and again in the winter to see if the songs that feel like you change with the seasons.

 

The 52 Lists Project: List 3

I am so behind on my blogging!! There’s been a lot going on with work because my work mate was out for almost two weeks which doubled my work load. So lately, after sitting in front of one for 12+hrs for work, when I get home the last thing I want to do is look at a computer screen. Anyway, she’s back so hopefully my days can get back to some sense of MY normal.

Okay…this week’s list.

LIST THE HAPPIEST MOMENTS OF YOUR LIFE SO FAR.

1.) The day I gave birth to my daughter. I was excited to get to spend her 25th birthday with her. I picked her up in the morning and we made a day of it. We had breakfast and then just spent the day hanging out and catching up.

JaLisa & Mom

2.) The day I met Tomi

3.) My wedding day!!!

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4.) The day we found out my mom was in remission. Cancer sucks!!

5.) The first time that my dad let me sing the national anthem (The Star-Spangled Banner) at the Tacoma Golden Gloves. I have been doing it for about 15yrs now.

6.) At age 15, my daughter was in a horrible car accident. She was in a coma for two weeks. When she woke up, that was one of the happiest moments of my life.

7.) Tomi and and the kids taking me to Disneyland for Christmas (2007)

8.) Our honeymoon in to Hawaii

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9.) The birthday trips we took to Vegas (2007) and New Orleans (2014).

10.) Seeing Lalah Hathaway, my absolute favorite singer, 2x in concert.

11.) The day JaLisa graduated from high school.

12.) The day of my 20yr high school reunion when I got to see so many of my good friends.

TAKE ACTION: Sometimes it’s easy to forget all the wonderful things that have happened in our lives. Come back to this list every day this week to remember you live a beautiful life.