Setting intentions

Visualization is one of those concepts that seems very hokey to me. Visualizing yourself in a certain job, at a certain size or fitness level, or achieving other goals is widely recommended in the self-help world. I remember in a training class for work having to create a vision board using cut out clips from magazines I wouldn’t be caught dead reading in the bathroom. I’ve always kept my cynicism alive when it comes to things like that.

Until now.

I have written here about all of the steps I have made towards making permanent lifestyle changes over the past year or so. And I have discovered that keeping my eye on the prize — thinking positively and setting a series of goals — has gotten me closer to where I want to be than ever before.

I sat down a few weeks back to look at all of the things I have changed in my life as part of this journey.

  • Took a pay cut to move to a much less stressful, non-management job 
  • Have achieved my goal of getting a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night
  • Have focused on a number of stress reduction techniques, including daily gratitude journaling, declaration of a daily affirmation, and focused breathing moments interspersed throughout the day
  • Crowding out negativity, or as I call it, crowding out the crazy. This includes people, and at times, family.
  • Focusing on the positive
  • Journaling to help process the emotional side of things
  • Being authentic. Telling my story in hopes it may help inspire someone else to make changes.
  • Reading and researching everything and anything I can about bariatric surgery and strategies to achieve long term success
  • Tracking everything and anything from food journaling and fitness. Embracing my Apple Watch as a tool for success.
  • Consistency with exercise and food
  • Focusing on whole, unprocessed foods and how they make me feel
  • Finding other ways to measure success besides the scale, meaning setting non-weight goals
  • Identifying non-food rewards for achieving goals
  • Learning that self care is not selfish
  • Finding that the more I practice Yoga, the more I like it. Really, I love it when it’s over. Such an amazing and powerful feeling of both strength and relaxation.
  • Moving every day, no matter what

That’s a lot of things to change in such a short period of time. But it’s real change. The biggest thing I noticed is that by focusing on the positive, more good things happen around me.  Is that the law of attraction? Something like that.

    Anyhow, recently, I’ve been feeling like I have a lot to share and would love to move in a direction where I could help other people going through the bariatric surgery journey too. It’s amazing how many people don’t have the resources through their programs, or get the support they need. I have been lucky to have an amazing surgeon and program, but I also did a lot of work myself. Not everyone will take that kind of initiative.

    So I have made the decision to become a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. Starting May 15, I officially begin my program through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. How I came to this decision is through a series of events where everything just lined up and suddenly it all made sense.  So I am setting my intentions. My goal is to work with other people to help support their own journey and goals as they go through the process of life after weight loss surgery.  So there it is. I’m setting my intentions and throwing all right out there to the universe.

    Now…I wrote this post a few weeks ago and when I went to publish, I lost it.  And I felt like it was the absolutely perfect post. It was impossible to recreate something where the words just flowed out. So let me know what you think. For my other WLS followers, I’m curious to know if you think this would be something of value. 

    On busy fulfilled weekends

    The past few weekends have been a whirlwind of activity. Normally I just want to spend my weekends doing nothing, but things are changing.

    Last weekend was puppy paradise. Mike and I went to multiple Front Street events where we each discovered some puppy love.

    I went to a yoga class at Urban Soul Yoga Studio which challenged the heck out of me but left me feeling happy and relaxed.

    This weekend I was doing shelter shennanigans again. I took pictures at the Old Sacramento Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. Team Front Street had a small but mighty group. Check out the album on Flickr. So much fun.

    St. Patrick's Day Parade

    This morning it was off to yoga again, then to Vacaville to check out one of 13 functional B-17s that are left in the world. Amazing.

    The point is I have somehow managed to get myself out and about and spend my time doing fulfilling things. I am totally praying that there continue to be weekend yoga classes.  These were just a trial but they were so perfect, considering I have Kaia 3 days a week and have been doing other weight training too.

    Plus there’s other things brewing. Other good things. Doing my research and embracing the change as it comes.

     

    Allow for Learning

    img_6175To be a rule follower, you have to know all the rules. But when you think you are a rule follower and you find out that you didn’t have the right rules — that’s a little unsettling.

    So I am 8 months out from my gastric bypass and I’ve had some great successes. On Friday, I attended a Stage IV Nutrition class taught by my surgeon. The people in the class were generally pretty far along, probably ranging from a 4-5 months to a year plus out from surgery. She just started this class up and I guess it’s in high demand. It was scheduled for me for March back in December.

    The doctor talked about hunger at 6 months out, and exercise, and how at this point if we aren’t losing as fast as we want to it has to be something in our diets.  She said you had to take a hard look at what you are eating. I consider myself to be rule following, so I figured I had the food part all dialed in: 60-80 grams of protein from supplement, 3 small meals and a snack. I have typically been doing a protein shake (or coffee) before Kaia, one afterwards, breakfast between 9:30-10, lunch around 1 or 2; an afternoon snack most days, and then dinner, followed by a shake  or protein bar at night.

    The class was pretty interactive so I explained how since I started working out more intensely, I haven’t lost any weight. I acknowledged some of that has to be muscle, but my doctor knows my history and my sluggish metabolism.  She asked me how many calories I was eating, and I responded 900-1100. And she asked me about carbs, and I said I basically don’t eat any.  She told me to keep doing what I am doing and eventually my body will adjust.  Considering I really only have 7-9 more pounds to lose (depending on the day since I am bouncing around in a 3 pound range), I try not to let it bother me.

    Another patient commented that she wasn’t losing as fast as she wanted to (which I am sure I rolled my eyes at her 2 week stall since I’ve been stalled since December). The response that I heard was overwhelmingly shocking.

    My doctor recommended for people who were stuck to follow some different rules.

    Protein Shake Quality

    First, breakfast should be a big, dense shake. She recommended using Bariatric Advantage shakes because they have added fiber and are pretty thick. She made a comment about commercial protein not being good enough for us and asked what kind of protein everyone was using. Now—there’s a list of recommended protein in the materials that she give out.  She really recommends Unjury protein since it’s medical grade and it’s recommended especially for gastric bypass patients.  I bought some in the beginning, but when I discovered other flavors by Bariatric Eating, Cafe Bella in particular, I gave up on that plain jane stuff.  When I said Inspire, she said, that’s not that good I was surprised! I have been having monthly meetings with the nutritionist and she made it sound like that was a great choice. The doctor said that we can’t expect good results with protein from Walmart or Costco (referring to Premier protein most likely, which it seems like the majority of bariatric patients favor.  The other one I use a lot is Nectar, which she said was fine.

    I was in a state of disbelief though because I have a cabinet full of Inspire protein. I even went on a monthly delivery cycle to make sure I didn’t run out of Cafe Bella — my go to protein for coffee. I kept thinking how am I going to use up all that protein!  She suggested adding unflavored Unjury to it and I’d be okay.

    She also suggested adding more fiber to the first shake of the day to make it more satisfying. She recommended adding flaxseed (which I have done) or chia seeds to bulk it up, as well as using extra protein.

    She brought out some samples of Bariatric Advantage chocolate which was so thick — made in almond milk.  Their protein has a weird aftertaste, which somehow I have become accustomed to, as I also have a bag of Bariatric Advantage cookies & cream which I actually really like, even though it tastes nothing like an Oreo.

    So my head is turning thinking about whether I needed to buy some more protein while I was there or just wait until I used the rest of the other stuff up.

    Beware of Bars

    She talked about the protein bars she approves of, since they are whey protein and good for gastric bypass patients. Quest Bars, Think Thin (which I have several boxes of in the protein cabinet) and Pure Protein (the ones you can get from Costc0). She warned for those of us with slowing weight loss, that bars have a lot of other stuff in them besides the protein and are a lot more calories than the bariatric shakes, which typically have about 100-150. So since starting Kaia, I have been using bars as a protein supplement, particularly during the day because of their convenience. My takeaway from the class — stop this.

    Limit to 2 Meals a Day

    Next earth shattering recommendation: 2 meals a day, and only one of them should have complex carbs. And by complex carbs, she is talking low glycemic fruit and vegetables.  Not potatoes, rice, bread, etc. Which is fine, since I don’t eat any of that stuff.

    Next shocker: you can have as much lettuce, spinach, or kale as we can hold. I miss big salads and I had no idea I didn’t need to count greens in my food portion sizes.  So as long as protein is going in first, I can get my fill afterwards with greens. This is helpful as I am getting hungrier, especially after working out.

    So lunch and dinner should be protein focused. Got it.

    End the Day with a Protein Shake

    About an hour before bedtime, have another shake to keep the metabolism fed at night. I kind of knew about that, although was probably having other snacks more often at night, so this is a big deal too.

    I need rules — and it’s uncomfortable when the rules aren’t cut and dry. So after hearing loud and clearly, 2 shakes, 2 meals — she added that if we’re working out we can have snacks. Like string cheese or almonds. So to me, that’s outside of 2 shakes and 2 meals. Now I am confused again.

    So today was my first day trying this approach. I think I need to have 3 shakes to get enough protein to fuel my workouts, particularly since I am going from basically 3 meals and a snackish meal plus 2-3 shakes. I’m going to double up on protein in my morning shake and added chia seeds this morning.  Nice and thick. I was still a little hungry, and I didn’t have a strenuous workout today, but it was manageable.

    Let’s see if this will be the thing to kick my weight loss into high gear.

    Food Prepping

    In an effort to get ready for this new way of life, here’s my food prep activities for the week.

    1. Cooked a few pounds of chicken thighs, portioned out into 3 oz. portions
    2. Cooked a batch of farro. I’ll be added 2 tablespoons to salads once a day to add some more bulk, protein and fiber. This is an experiment. I usually don’t do well with these types of carbs, but I want to see if adding a little will help with my workouts and hunger.
    3. Prepped a bunch of kale so it’s clean, torn into little bits, and ready to be thrown into salads or smoothies.
    4. Made some home made lemon-tahini dressing. I couldn’t find the official recipe, but did this and it came out okay. Whisk all ingredients together in a mason jar and refrigerate.
      • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
      • 3 tablespoons tahini paste
      • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
      • 3 tablespoons warm water
      • 3 tablespoons olive oil
      • 6 tablespoons of bragg’s liquid aminos
      • fresh ground black pepper
      • sea salt
    5. Made a salad from kale, red cabbage, sliced peppers, diced chicken, 2 tablespoons of farro, and 2 tablespoons of the dressing.  Yum! And filling.

    So we’ll see how this goes. If nothing else, I know what I will be eating all week!

    But What is This Post About Really?

    This will never be easy. Even though I had surgery, genetics, metabolism, and my own history with obesity are playing against me. I have to work harder than most of the weight loss surgery patients I have gotten to know. According to the doctor, my metabolism may not ever even improve, although my best bet is to continue to build muscle. And sharing this information may be helpful to someone in the same boat, which is why I started sharing my story in the first place.

    I promise to report back on how well this pays off!

     

    Feeling Bloggy

     

    I got called out on Instagram for my lack of blogginess. So today, I feel bloggy. There’s currently a photo challenge for the month of February and I’ve been focused on doing daily posts. My life has been occupied with working out, sleeping, working, planning meals, focusing on good things — I guess I just wasn’t feeling the urge.

    I am totally in. This should be fun! #Repost @mrmuleman with @repostapp ・・・ Mondays could use all the added umpf they can get, so I'm releasing the preview of this year's @MrMuleMan's #WLSFeb17PhotoChallenge today. Mark your calendars, repost, tag your friends, and spread the word. The idea is the same as last year's challenge, to share ideas, tips, strategies, questions and answers about topics related to weight loss transformation, getting healthy, weight loss surgery, and fitness in general. You do not have to have already had WLS to participate, this challenge is open to anyone interested in slimming down and getting healthier. Just post something on each daily topic, and don't forget to use the #WLSFeb17PhotoChallenge tag. New this year will be a prize pack that will go to one lucky winner, filled with snacks and health & fitness items. Look for the rules post to see how to get entered. Questions? Contact @MrMuleMan Start planning your posts and let's see how huge we can grow this challenge this year! #Wls #weightloss #weightlosssurgery #wlscommunity #vsg #vsgbro #gastricsleeve #rny #gastricbypass #weightlossmotivation #weightlosstransformation #weightlossinspiration #changeyourlife #fitnessrevolution #wlsrunner #gethealthy #getfit #wlsphotochallenge

    A post shared by Marilyn (@marilyn_unraveled) on

    So there it is — check out my account to see my take on the theme of the day.

    The one for today that I wanted to post, but then didn’t is here. The theme was skin. The truth is that I am not that upset about loose skin. I don’t have it that bad, but it’s still a trip.  The wrinkly bunched up skin shows up most when I am doing push-up.  It hangs forward on my arms. It hangs from my stomach and back, and my thighs. I’ve said it before – it’s like a badge of honor. My skin has been along with me on this journey from beginning to end.

    img_5919
    My entry for Day 10 of the #WLSFeb2017PhotoChallenge: Skin

    So what else?

    I just finished a 6-week long session of Kaia Fit.  It’s interesting that my weight loss completely stopped since I started working out fairly intensely, but my body composition is changing and I’m certainly getting more compact, not matter how slowly that’s happening.

    I think people are noticing the changes more than I am. I’ve had people tell me I don’t need to lose anymore, or ask me what my secret is.  For the most part I have been pretty open about my surgery, but I don’t really share with people I am not that close to. I know a lot of people in my support groups on Facebook are extraordinarily private. I was too, in the beginning. This week must just be the one where everyone decided to complement me.  Maybe it’s all of my new super cute LulaRoe clothes.  Have I mentioned that? I have become a LulaRoe addict. I have a few pix posted over on Instagram of some of my new things. I am trying to figure out what my style is — outside of jeans and sweatshirts which is what you will typically find me on on the weekends.  It’s been fun dressing up a little more, even though I don’t have to.

    I somehow think that my focus on being positive is somehow making me more approachable where people will say something to me. Whatever it is, I like it! I’m making new friends through Kaia Fit, I feel more social and all of this is good since I lowered all of my anti-anxiety and anti-depressant meds.

    While it seems like my little life is perfect, it’s a constant struggle. I have to work hard to keep my head in this place. I have to fight the negative self-talk and self-doubt. I have to live day to day and not focus on weight as a number or the fact that the scale isn’t moving. I actually think I am done losing weight. Or maybe my body wants to just sit here for a while until it realizes that we haven’t entered an apocalyptic ice age and it needs to store every calorie.  I still know my metabolism is moving at snail’s pace, meaning every calorie I take in needs to be of the highest quality. I still can only eat about 1/2 cup at a time, and I need really good protein to keep me feeling full and to fuel my muscles from all of these workouts.  I don’t really have the desire to eat crap, but since my intake is so low, it has to feel worthwhile.

    I don’t want to be that person who starts a blog to talk about their weight loss surgery journey and then stops.  Those were all the blogs I was finding while I was researching surgery.  I wanted to know more about how life was post surgery. I guess what it will be is…well, life. We’ll see! I’m enjoying the ride!

    And Kellye — I am open to topics. Maybe like the photo challenge I need some blog prompts! Keep me honest!

     

    Another piece of the puzzle

    Being a rule follower, I have been diligent about exercise since my surgery. I use my Apple Watch as a gauge for activity, but up until the new year, I’d only been walking. Granted I was walking a lot, and running a bit with my Nike+ app, but as I was getting closer to goal and the weight loss was slowing down, I knew I needed to mix it up.

    I’ve mentioned that I joined Kaia Fit at the beginning of the year. Three weeks in and I can feel myself getting stronger, pushing myself harder, and having fun.  The workouts can be hard and you definitely feel them afterward, but I think this push is what I need to get me the rest of the way.

    And the rest of the way has gotten a little shorter. My goal changed from 120 to 130, per my primary care doctor. I went to see her to check in about my medications since I was getting close to goal. I wanted to make sure the doses were still right for my weight and see if I moved any of my lab results to come off some meds. I ended up reducing 2 meds, and coming straight off of 2 others. I still will need to take medication for my pituitary tumor and thyroid, but I’m more than ecstatic of making other improvements in my health besides weight. Weight is just one piece of the puzzle; it’s a metric like my body measurements, body fat, and other health indicators.  When I first met with my surgeon, we set 120 as a goal, which sort of seemed like it was out of my reach at the time. At 135, I feel amazing. My clothes fit, it’s so much easier to buy clothes (I need to stop!), and I’ve made some big moves in my health. I asked my PCP for her advice about goal and she thought 120 was too low, and even though 130 wouldn’t get me to a normal BMI, that’s the number we picked. I would love to get lower — 126 would make 100 pounds total lost. I’m just going to keep working my program, pushing myself, and enjoying my new life.

    I am grateful to all the Kaia coaches who aren’t judging my journey (or if they are, I’m not feeling that way) and are supporting me in this next chapter. Today I did burpees without dying.  It was an awesome feeling.

    I leave you with this though, to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. Seemed fitting for where I am, and where I am going.

    martin-luther-king-quotes-6

    Educate yourself

    When I was preparing for surgery, I did a ton of research using resources provided to me by my surgeon, and my friend, Google. One of the best resources I found is the Weight Loss Surgery Podcast hosted by Family Nurse Practitioner Reeger Cortell. I listened to almost every episode available before my surgery, and it gave me great foundational information about nutrition, lifestyle changes, vitamins, current research regarding obesity, and interviews with a variety of guests ranging from bariatric patients to surgeons. I continue to listen to every subsequent podcast, as I find it reassuring that my experience is normal (whatever that is).

    Reeger just published the latest podcast which is her Bariatric Surgery Seminar which she gives at her practice. It’s geared for people who considering surgery and spouses of people who want to understand more about the surgery.  There is a lot of great information, presented in a straightforward manner. Science made simple about things like set point, causes of obesity and the changes that happen with bariatric surgery.  It’s long, but I highly recommend listening to it if you are pre-surgery, and even if you are post surgery.

    I realized while listening that I got a lot of my ideas about transformation from Reeger.  Taking care of body, mind, and spirit. My rituals include daily gratitude log, identifying a daily affirmation, journaling all my food and exercise, and of course my social media stuff is focused on self improvement or self awareness too. Positivity is key, and removing negativity and negative people has been critical for enabling transformation. 

    Listen, enjoy, and let me know what you think!

     

     

    Transformation from within

    Let’s start with this Instagram Post:

    Old Marilyn would never say this, but I am so proud of myself. I have made a lot of sacrifices to be where I am today. Cutting negativity from my life. Focusing on what is positive and in my control. This is my new size 6 dress from the Loft. My wonderful husband encouraged me to order a 6 instead of an 8. When I took it out of the package I was sure it wouldn't fit, but it did. Along with a pair of size 4 jeans. I can honestly say I am happy where I am. I'm not done, but if I didn't lose another pound I would be perfectly happy here. Loose skin, saggy boobs and all. But I'm on fire, so no stopping me yet! #progressnotperfection #rnylife #gastricbypass #rnycommunity #happiness #hardworkpaysoffs #rulefollower #almostnormal

    A post shared by Marilyn (@marilyn_unraveled) on

    Friday night I came home from work, excited about the weekend and excited to see what goodies arrived from the post office. Since I am starting to run short on clothes, I took advantage of post-holiday deep discounts and bought myself that dress. I’m continuing to be surprised when things fit me. I still struggle with thinking of myself as being as small as I am, which is why pictures are so helpful.

    After writing that post, I realized that’s the most positive I have felt in a long time. I have worked hard to get there. I journal daily. I find a daily affirmation every day. I write down 3 things I am grateful for every day. I am more aware of my negative thoughts and I try to catch myself before I say anything that’s not constructive. I am working hard to avoid drama at work (not 100% successfully, but making the effort) but making the move from management to being a worker bee has contributed to this improved state of being.

    I have made so many changes in such a short period of time, but still more work to be done.

    Next topic: Kaia Fit. Last week, I completed my first full week of Kaia Fit in probably over a year. I started in May 2014 and was consistent until things in my life started to fall apart around me.  My dad was sick and in and out of the hospital starting in September. Somewhere in there, I stopped going, stopped caring about myself, and gained 40 pounds. In a really short period of time. I just gave up.  And I was sick for months with whatever cold, flu or other crap was going around. It was horrible.

    Fast-forward to now. I am smaller than ever and still getting used to moving with this body. I managed to get through my 4 workouts pretty successfully. I couldn’t do everything full force, like burpees — I forgot how much I hate burpees. But I did it, and the thing I love about Kaia the most is you get really strong, really fast. And it’s fun. The hour goes by fast and I know that by 7:00 am, I’ve gotten my workout in. It is a very satisfying feeling. Plus, this gem came from our Flow class on Friday and it stayed with me.

    Then there’s the food part. I have such a routine around food. Since I can only eat so much at a time, I need to make sure I am getting good nutrition in. I had to come up with a good routine to make sure I can take my vitamins, medication, get a protein shake into me, put my lunch together — all before getting to my 6 am class. Food prep is critical.

    I think I actually thrive on the routine. So it’s Sunday. Got a bunch of food prep done (it’s actually pretty easy with teeny tiny meals).

    Since I started Kaia, the scale stopped moving.  I think my body thinks I am trying to starve it again. I just need to stay with it while my body keeps transforming.  Looking forward to my weekly measurements to see the progress.

     

    Welcoming the New Year

    Welcome 2017.

    Welcome to the year where I will meet my weight loss goal.

    Welcome to the year where I will work towards being more positive, judgement free, and kinder to myself and others.

    Welcome to a year where I can continue the great habits I have put into play since my surgery.

    Welcome to a year where I don’t need a resolution because I’m just living my life and working towards making every day better than the one before; making myself a better me than I was the day before.

    Welcome to a year that I’m starting off with Kaia Fit, not because I was “bad” during the holidays, or because I ate cookies or other crap.  It’s just that the next session starts January 2.

    I will challenge myself, be brave, and power on.

    And last but not least, this will be the year I will teach myself to sew! Can you say alterations?

    Happy New Year!

    Thoughts about goal weight

    I am 15 pounds from my goal. It may take me a while, but I am so sure I will get there. 

    I have been thinking a lot about what getting to goal means. I’m really not going to change how I eat. I will never be able to go back to eating the way I did, and that doesn’t make me sad. It’s just a fact. 

    In talking to my nutritionist about my goal weight last week, I told her I was thinking about making it higher because I wasn’t sure whether 15 more pounds would be too much. 120 is still at the top of the normal range for my height at 4’11”. She said that your body finds it’s equilibrium when you continue to eat following the program. 

    I am definitely eating more. I can eat a cup of food now, although I try to keep my servings to 1/2 cup unless the extra is a salad or some other kind of raw vegetables.  I am experiencing various levels of hunger and trying to find the foods that keep my satisfied longer. 

    Basically I am not going to worry about my goal weight. I am buying clothes one size down thinking by the time I am at goal, that’s where I will be. 

    I am starting Kaia Fit on January 2 and expect that I will have good results in reducing my body fat some more. I am around 31% right now. I think 25% would be a reasonable goal. I am continuing to do my weekly measurements and seeing slow progress there too. 

    I think the key now is patience and perseverance. 

    I will continue to journal. It’s been great to go back and look at some of the things I said. Like when I ordered size 6 jeans and said they won’t fit for a while, and when they arrived in 2 weeks, they fit perfectly. 

    I will not allow myself to be driven by clothes sizes. I have a range of things from 4-8 that I am wearing. I just want t feel comfortable in my skin.

    Skin is a whole other issue. I have plenty of it. Hoping Kaia will tighten it up a bit, but I am thinking a breast lift may be in my future. Mike is saving his pennies. 

    Wishing my readers a very happy holiday season, however you celebrate. Enjoy these cute pix of me and my pups. 

    We are too cool for school. 😎
    Me and the Nugget bug.