Friyay!

Some days are better than others.

Lately, most days have pretty much sucked. Too much stress, too many deadlines, too many things on the to-do list. But today was freaking stellar.

So Fridays, otherwise known as Friyay, are the day I work at my other job. That’s right, I am reserving Friday for clients, business development, blog writing, social media and strategery.

This morning kicked off with an amazing chiropractic adjustment. Bye bye migraine.

Followed by a meeting with my first official paid health coaching client, which went amazingly! I ran into 4 people I knew at the coffee shop and it just made me feel so good.

Next I went to pick up my migraine prescription and ran into the owner of the pharmacy — I love living in a small town! Got a big hug and went on my way to the post office, where I picked up my new Fitbit, a bunch of protein, vitamins, and my first Stitch Fix Box!

I have posted before about my anxiety about shopping. I hate trying clothes on. My self talk is horrendous and I need to knock that shit out. But this box was full of clothes that fit me perfectly and that fit my style even better! And yes, I am still a solid size 6. That was such a relief to me!

The last few months have been truly funky, but if I have more days like today, things are looking up. I am so incredibly blessed to have the support of my family and friends and to have achieved this goal of losing and maintaining my weight. Makes a big difference in my outlook when I feel like a success.

So yeah, life is pretty damn good.

Peace.

Shhhhh….

I haven’t posted since August? Where did September and October go? I promised myself that I wouldn’t let myself be a gastric bypass blog that stopped after reaching goal. 

In fact, I don’t want to be the weight loss surgery blog that shares the sunshine, rainbows and unicorns but not the ugly stuff.

So let’s get real.

I was on a roll. And then insert kidney drama. 

I was maintaining my weight up until then. And then I couldn’t exercise at all for 6 weeks while my body healed. And it was all good for a while then the number started inching up. So I was 7 pounds over my high goal range. And stuck. I started back working out after I was cleared. And I was still stuck. I had to go all the way back to basics and scale back to 3 mini meals and 2-3 protein shakes. The truth: it’s hard. Even though I had gastric bypass, I still am in the same boat where I need to eat 900 calories a day or less to lose. 

The good thing is that being strict helped me to reset my hunger impulses. I’m working my way back down. I will not let obesity win! Being 4’11”(ish) you just can’t hide 7 extra pounds. 

My message: don’t give up. Every day is a new chance to start over. I have tapped into my network of amazing support peeps, some from my Bariatric Support Group, and some “regular” folks. My health coaching program is the best opportunity for me to practice what I preach. I’m getting focused on balance, sleep, stress reduction, and nutrition. 

I’m building up my health coaching business which is incredibly exciting, so that’s where my focus has been. I will make an effort to check in here more frequently as I have a lot to share about my experience. Life in maintenance is a whole different game. And one you don’t read about that much, so I need to change that. 

✌️ 

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

Mirror, mirror…in the backyard

img_4950

I have spent many years avoiding mirrors. And even when I am not avoiding them, I’m not very kind to myself. So, we don’t have a full length mirror in our house.

As I get closer to my goal, I find myself doing a double take when I catch my reflection in a storefront or see myself in a full length mirror. I don’t recognize myself. That’s why I’m taking weekly pictures — it allows me to let my mind catch up with the changes that are happening with my body. So much of this journey is mental, and my mind is a trickster.

Yesterday, while out with the dogs in the backyard, I caught myself in the reflection of our woodshed and decided I needed a picture to see what I was really seeing. I still don’t think this is me.

Going mirror shopping today. I have to learn to like that person.

Goodbye Grumpy

This is my Grumpy tank that has served as my sleepy-time garb for many a hot night over the past 15 years.  Bought this at Disney World when my little brother got married.  I love this shirt, but you know…it just doesn’t stay on. So it’s time to say goodbye to Grumpy. Maybe it will serve someone else just as well for another 15 years. Into the donate pile you go.

The Referral

At the beginning of this journey, I had absolutely no clue about the cost or insurance. They sent the referral to the surgeon in November 2015 and I was promptly denied by my insurance company. I called to talk to the doctor’s office to see about self-pay or financing options. Um, $36k was a little hefty of a price tag. Getting denied this first time was probably the best thing that could have happened. It gave me the time to do my research to understand what I was getting into, and the starting point was talking to my primary care doctor.

She’s been along for the ride with me since about 2004. When I told her I was referred for surgery, she seemed encouraging. She thought with all of my metabolic challenges (more on that later) it might be a good option, saying it’s a tool, not a cure. That’s a phrase you hear a lot in the weight loss surgery community. It’s just a tool.

She started working with me and the weight loss center to pull together all of the documentation of my ongoing (and expensive) medically managed weight loss efforts, plus documentation of all of my co-morbidities that needed to be present for me to meet the insurance qualifications for surgery. All of this documentation was submitted, then promptly denied.

I decided to file an appeal following the insurance appeal process and addressed bullet point by bullet point all of their reasons for denial. Within a week, I was approved to take a 2 session nutrition class, which was biggest waste of time ever, but it was a requirement. By this time, it’s March. Within a few days of attending the last class, I got a phone call from my primary care doctor saying she had met the surgeon they would refer me to at a presentation the surgeon provided for the staff in the office. They briefly discussed my case and following that, I was instructed to go to a seminar to learn more.

I attended her seminar April 4 and learned so much more about the genetic and metabolic connection to obesity. I got enough information to change my desire to have the sleeve surgery to having gastric bypass, and I got into the queue for an initial consult. Until they have approval from the insurance company, no  appointment. It was within the week that I heard back that I was approved for the consult only and scheduled it for mid April.

The appointment was over an hour. I was able to ask my big huge long list of questions and Mike was able to get some reassurances about safety and complications (more on THAT later). We talked about my history, my knowledge of high protein, low carb living, all the efforts and work I had done. At the end of the appointment, she said I was a good candidate, waived the requirement to do nutritionist supervised weight loss, waived the requirement to have a psychological evaluation and set me up with a number of pre-surgical tests pending final insurance approval for surgery.

As I worked through each of the tests and requirements, the doctor submitted her statement of medical necessity and I was approved for surgery at the beginning of June.

I am exhausted just thinking about all that I had to go through.

The backstory

So someone doesn’t just out of the blue decide to have gastric bypass surgery.

img_0764

I call this my “before” picture. Honestly, I have been overweight since childhood, despite my parents’ best efforts to indoctrinate me to Weight Watchers at the age of 11. My weight gain was gradual over the years, and I swear all through college and beyond I was always on one kind of diet or another.  I actually have a stack of Weight Watchers passbooks from pretty much every city I have ever lived.

Talking to my doctor in 2009, I was connected with a weight loss center called Obesity Treatment Center (OTC), now the The Hernreid Center for Medical Weight Loss. I started that program, a Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD), which consisted of protein shakes and one small meal a day.  I did great on that program. I lost 75 pounds which I managed to keep off for a while. I started running and did half marathons…then I realized the more I exercised, the harder it was to keep my weight off. I maintained about 50 pounds of the total loss over the next 5 years, going back on the VLCD several times over the course of time. My lowest weight was 150 pounds, which doesn’t even move me from the medical classification of Obese Class I to Overweight. At 4’11” — I don’t have a lot of room to hide a few pounds.

A series of events starting in 2015 set me on this path. I was a caregiver for my dad as his health declined in January 2015, I was stressed, I was tired, I wasn’t paying attention to what was going in my mouth, and suddenly I was back to almost 200 pounds. There is nothing more demoralizing than failing at weight maintenance.  I started back on the weight loss phase of the diet to try to get that under control, and of course, that program works and my weight was coming down again. When my father died in June 2015, that was a trigger for a free fall into a bad place.  I was stressed, tired, had horrible depression, was unable to sleep more than 6 hours a night, I wasn’t exercising, but I was still eating about 1,000 calories a day and gaining weight. My doctor at Hernreid told me that there was nothing else medically they could do for me, so she was going to refer me for a vertical sleeve gastrectomy.

I was devastated.  That made me feel even more like I was a failure. Let me just leave this here for a minute. This was really the start of the journey.

Where do I begin?

15339-just-begin

I have an idea about what I want to do here, but how do you dive in to a story that has evolved over decades?

I am starting this blog as a departure from all other social aspects of myself, mostly revolving around my dogs. I want to tell the story of my lifelong struggle with obesity, a taboo topic. A topic that I have shared bits and pieces of over the years, celebrating the achievements and hiding during the setbacks. I’m going through something now that requires a lot of mental processing, and am hoping this will be a mechanism for that. And if I can help support or encourage anyone on their own personal journey –awesome! I’m hoping this will also bring some encouragement and motivation my way, too.

Here it is: on July 5, 2016, I had gastric bypass surgery.