Category Archives: body image

Biker Girl!

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So, yesterday I tried something new, something I have wanted to do for a long time. Something I used to do when I was younger.

I went biking!

OK, I didn’t go very far, but that’s OK. I have not been on a bike in over 20 years. When I was very young, a kid all the way through high school, I used to bike all of the time. It was my main source of transportation and gave me a sense of freedom.

Once I became morbidly obese weight in the high 200s to low 300s, biking was not an option for me. So to be able to get back on a bike again held a lot of meaning.

My sister moved to Texas a few weeks ago and she gave me her bike. She knew I was looking to buy one, but I did not really have a lot of time to be trolling Craigslist to find an inexpensive used bike. She was purging before the move and decided to just give me her bike.

When I first got on the bike, the tires had no air. I fit on the bike perfectly. We put it in the back of my car, and it stayed there for a few weeks until I could deal with the no air problem.

I went to a bike shop near my apartment to get air in my tires and get a couple of supplies. I wanted to get a helmet and some lights for the bike. I also wanted to get a bike rack because getting the bike in and out of the hatchback is a pain in the ass.

Immediately after getting air in the tires and getting the bike rack installed, I drove out to my brother’s house and hung out with him and my niece for a bit. Well, really him, because my niece is now 8 and friends are much more important and fun than aunties. So basically, I drive 40 minutes to get a hug and then she runs off to play.

Such is life.

Anyway, it was late by the time I got back home. I took the bike off the rack and was walking it out of the garage and up to my apartment. I stopped in the lot for a few minutes a figured I would give it a quick spin.

To my surprise, I could barely touch the ground. I immediately felt very unsteady o the bike and almost toppled over. I tried a couple of times to find my balance, but I just couldn’t.

Feeling a bit embarrassed and nervous, I took he bike up to my apartment and just stared at it a bit. I was absolutely convinced I would never be able to do this. But I really wanted to. I put the bike in front of a bookcase and practiced sitting on and putting my feet on the pedals just to get the feel. In retrospect, holding onto the bookcase was probably not the brightest idea. Had I toppled over, I risked pulling the whole thing down on top of me. Fortunately, that did not happen.

Yesterday I was determined to at least get on the bike and maybe try to do a couple of laps in the parking lot. The parking lot of my building is kind of big, so a couple of laps would be a good starter.

I was very nervous and feeling very self-conscious about what people would think because I couldn’t even find my balance. Nonetheless, I did it. At first, I tried to position myself near a pole so I could balance myself. Then I practiced just scooting along to get the bike moving. I tried a couple of times get both feet on the pedals, but could not find my balance.

After a few minutes of scooting, I just told myself to do it. I took a deep breath and just forced myself to put both feet on the pedals and push. And I was off! A little wobbly, but I did it!

I rode around the lot for about 10 minutes. I did several loops in the front of the building and around the back. When I was done, I was exhausted and a little sore, but I did it!

I took the bike back inside and figured I was done for the day. Then my friend Sush texted me and asked if I wanted to come watch the DNC with her and watch the democrats elect Hillary, the first woman to run on a major party ticket. I excitedly texted back sure! I’ll ride my bike over!

I don’t know what made me say that. Maybe it was the endorphine rush from my short ride around the lot that made me feel invincible, but a huge part of me was screaming, “WTF! Why???”

Now Sush lives about a mile down the W&OD trail from where I live, so it’s not far. That wasn’t the problem though. I live on this HUGE hill that leads down into Shirlington and then down to the bike trail. While I could ride comfortably in my parking lot, and I was pretty sure I could make the mile on the bike trail, I was very worried about going up and down that hill.

So, I walked the bike down the hill. Once in Shirlington, I started riding towards the bike trail. I stayed mostly on the sidewalk except when I had to cross the street. It was a pretty easy ride on the trail. I was slow and other bikers did pass me. Fortunately, I had spent enough time walking on the trail, that I was familiar with biking etiquette. If another biker wants to pass you, they ring a bell or say, “On your left,” and that is your queue to stick to the right so they can safely pass. And it truth, I wasn’t on the trail long enough for this to really be an issue.

I did get off the trail a little too soon and wandered around a neighborhood that was not Sush’s for about a minute, then got back on the trail to get to her actual neighborhood. Sush was so excited to see me riding a bike. She knows what an accomplishment this was for me. She has been one of my biggest cheerleaders since I started my weight loss. She knows how much I struggled before, and she is so happy to see me doing things I never would have attempted.

The ride back was a little more difficult. Coming back to my neighborhood was kind of uphill, so the ride was a little more of a struggle. And it was so hot yesterday. And when it came time to walk the bike back up to my apartment, I was thoroughly exhausted. But I did it!

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Me post bike ride.

I’m going to go for a little ride tomorrow in the other direction on the trail just to see how far I get. I don’t work until the evening, so if I start early enough, I should be OK. I’m so glad to be biking again. I think my next investment though is going to be a pair of padded biker pants.

 

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Some Really Good Things Happened This Week

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That blog title reminds me of one of my favorite childhood books, And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss. And this blog post may ramble about as much as that story does, but I’ll bring it around to a somewhat sane ending, I promise.

I wanted to post about each of these this week, but I feel like I have been all over the place emotionally, time-wise, etc. and just haven’t been able to get it together to blog. So here goes…

Last weekend, I went to Pittsburgh. My high school is having a reunion in November, and I am on the planning committee. In a million years, I never would have thought that I would be one of the people organizing a reunion. I was definitely not one of the popular kids. I was very social. I was in the band, the orchestra for the school plays, FBLA, etc. I knew a lot of people, but one of the cool kids? No. I wouldn’t say that I was tormented by the cool kids the way nerds are in movies. I just wasn’t one of them. I may not have been tortured because my cousins were on the football team and quite popular. Or it could just be that I was so insignificant as to not even warrant being tormented…at least not by the A crowd. Still, if you had told me when I graduated that I would be one of the people planning the reunion, I would have laughed in your face.

That said, I am sooooo excited about the reunion.

Anyway, we had a little pre-reunion get-together to try to drum up interest in the actual reunion and encourage people to sign up. It was sparsely attended, but I still had a good time.

I got way dressed up for this little shin-dig. We had it at the casino in Pittsburgh. I wore my pink sparkly dress and my little silver sandals. I put on make-up. Did my hair. Wore jewelry. I was ready to party. Everyone else wore jeans and casual clothes. Ha!

A small group of the “cool kids” did show up. Most of them had no idea who I was. I introduced myself to one guy and he just shook his head and said, “Yeah, I don’t remember you.” I told him I was in the band. And he replied, “That did not help at all!” I was like, “Dude! We were in home room together for four years! WTF?”

The one guy did know who I was because I talked to him at the last get-together. I have also had a quick email exchange with his wife, who was the most popular girl in our class. (Yes, the beautiful people married each other and had beautiful children.) They are lovely, truly. So nice. And they always were. She owns a fitness place in Pittsburgh, which is very cool…of course.

But the best part of the evening was when the one girl, who I really thought was super-cool in high school, told me that she reads my blog all of the time. I have friended a bunch of my high school friends, so they have access to my blog posts. And everyone sitting there all nodded their heads and said they read it too! They told me it is great, so honest, and they love the story of my transformation. I was on cloud 9.

So yeah, that happened. I think the reunion will be fun.

Speaking of schools…my writer’s group is back at the high school this week. We have been meeting at a local high school for the past few years. The PTA generally sponsors us so that we do not have to pay, because, let’s face it, we are aspiring writers and therefore have no money. But that’s not the cool part.

They moved our room on us. We are now meeting in a class room instead of the room we were meeting in last year. So now, we have to sit in desks. I haven’t been able to fit into a desk since…well since high school.  OK, maybe the first couple of years of college too. The last time this group met in a class room, I had to find a chair and sit at the table. So, I walked in and saw desks and my stomach just dropped. I immediately thought, “Oh crap!”

But, the good news is…I fit! I sat down in the desk and I had lots of room! Of course I did. I no longer weigh 300 pounds! Still, the fear was there that I might have to squeeze in.

The last good thing I will write about hasn’t actually happened yet. I have decided that I need to get my butt back to the gym. I really am just tired of this last 46 pounds hanging on. I want to lose them! Even if I don’t get all the way down to 125, I’ll be happy in the 130s range. I just want to get the losing weight part of my journey done with and I’m so close. I would like to lose it before the reunion. I do not know if that will happen, but if I get down to the 150s by then, that will be good.

I am going to hit the gym this weekend, both days if I can. I am also going to finally break down and buy a new scale. There is also a gym 3 blocks from where I work. I am going to start bringing gym clothes to work and hit that gym after work. I have to walk by it 2x a day. No excuse not to just stop in.

So there are 11 weeks until the reunion. That’s 4 pounds a week. That might be a bit excessive as far as weight loss goes, but like I said, I do not expect to get all the way there. If I start the new year at or close to goal, that will be good enough.

I have another blog post about weight loss and my own experience body dysmorphia brewing, but that will have to be for another day.

Have a great weekend!

Skinny Girl Update – Vacation Post!

Ok, so the “writing every day for a month” project kind of fell flat. I may try to do that again as I have lots to say. Just wanted to post a quick update, though.

So, what have I been doing? Mostly, working. I did go on vacation last week. I took a quick trip to Pittsburgh to see my mom. My baby sis came to town as well. Last week was the one year anniversary of my step-dad’s death. I wanted to be there with my mom to support her. And it was great to see my sister as well. She lives in Minnesota. She and her husband are moving out west to California in the fall, so it might be a while before I see her again. I WILL be going to to visit her and all that sunshine once she moves and gets settled. Get the guest room ready sis!

Also, because I am on the planning committee for my high school reunion, I had to meet with the other committee members to discuss the reunion, tour the restaurant where we are having the reunion, and then we had a quick high school get-together at a different restaurant where we met for drinks. It was funny meeting up with everyone again. Some people have changed a lot, others not so much. Thank goodness we had old yearbooks on hand for reference! Tons of fun, but very busy.

I then went to Rehoboth beach in Delaware to visit with my college friends. OMG, it was so much fun! I bought a bathing suit a few weeks ago and I have been swimming. This is the first bathing suit I have owned in about 15 years. Granted, I don’t think I looked good in a bathing suit, but honestly, I did not care. My biggest concerns were not drowning in the ocean and not getting horribly sunburned. Other than that, I did not give one rat’s butt what I looked like. I had fun.

I have to say, my friends totally rock. We had a blast at the beach. Two of my college friends have kids. There were three children at the beach. For some reason, these kids totally love me. Could be I bribe them with ice cream and let them commandeer my electronics for the week, but the jury is still out on that.

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My friend Marianne and her hubby have a son. We’ll call him T. He’s the one who, when I bought a Smart Car, called it a clown car. The conversation went something like this:

Mommy: (Pointing at picture I uploaded to Facebook) “Look at Colleen’s new car, T!”

T: “Colleen bought a clown car? hahahahaha!”

Colleen: “Your son is a little Smartie-Pants!”

Liz & Steve have two little girls we’ll call E & S.

When I arrived at Rehoboth at 1am on Monday after a 7+ hour drive from Pittsburgh, T & E were still up. They cheered my arrival loudly. Everyone in Rehoboth knew when my little Smartie pulled into the driveway. I came into the house to them screaming “MISS COL-LEEN! MISS COL-LEEN!” at the top of their lungs. Apparently, they asked when I was arriving every hour on the hour, which explains the flurry of email and text messages I received during the drive. (No I did not read or text while driving. When I stopped for gas or coffee, I checked my messages and replied.)

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They collapsed in hysterical laughter when I unpacked my car. I brought everything. Extra towels, beach blankets, clothes, food, my personal laptop, my work laptop, all kinds of stuff. My mom even donated a bag of towels to the beach effort. They could not believe I fit all of that in my car. On my third trip into the house, Liz was singing circus music and T was saying, “Your car really IS a clown car!”

Of course, I told him I was a master at Tetris, which his ten-year old mind did not understand at all.

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Going to the beach and into the ocean was interesting. I hadn’t been in years. I was a little hesitant about going into the water. One, it was so cold. I hate being in cold water. It took me two tries to get in far enough to jump the waves with the kids. Their chorus of “MISS COL-LEEN!” As I slowly made my way into the water, helped.

I was out there for quite a while with the kids and various other adults. Then it happened. I got swept back towards the shallows by a big wave. The boogie board didn’t help. The wave knocked me on my butt pretty hard and I couldn’t get up.

It was like a scene from a sit-com or something. “I’m OK.” I announced as I tried to stand up. Then the boogie board was pulled back out and dragged me back down as another wave crashed in knocking me over again as the boogie board slammed back into my head. The cycle then repeated itself:

“I’m OK!” Crash! Thunk! “I’m OK!” Crash! Thunk! “I’m OK!” Crash! Thunk!

Finally, I just sat down holding onto the boogie board and let the waves wash over me. The kids were cracking up. It was pretty hilarious. I let go of the boogie board and one of the kids grabbed it. My friend Marianne, who is over 6 feet tall, came over and helped me stand up.

Other than that, the week was great. Lots and lots of walking. I tried to get in about 4 miles a day. I’m pretty sure I succeeded. Lots of shopping. Lots of beach-time. Lots of good food and fun with my friends. Many trips to the ice cream stands with the kids. Then fireworks on the beach.

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Now I’m back to work and back to real life. Not nearly has fun, but necessary if I’m going to fund another trip to the beach!

Let The Games Begin!

My month of blogging has begun.

I had a lot of great suggestions from people on topics, so I think I will have a lot to write about. Everything from talking about the emotional journey, the physical procedure and the aftermath, and recipes.

My posts are going to be a little bit more organized. Sundays will be my week wrap-up and planning for the week ahead. Monday and Wednesday will be about food, meals, and recipes. Tuesdays I will write about the physical aspect of things, from the surgery itself to changes in my body. Thursdays will be about my emotional journey, the ups and downs, and how things have changed. Fridays will be about the different kinds of exercises I am doing. Saturdays I think I’m going to keep kind of random. I want to do book reviews and talk about health, food, and weight in general. That will also be the day I will keep open to answer questions people may have.

I am doing two other things in June apart from this daily blogging. I am participating in a wellness activity at work. I am doing the walking challenge. They gave us all free pedometers. Here is mine:

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I am also doing a postaday challenge with WordPress.  They are supposed to send us prompts to use, but I may or may not follow their prescribed format. Depends on what I feel like writing that day. I’m a rebel like that.

So, here are updates for today and what I am doing this coming week. Today I walked all over DC with my brother and his little girl. Instead of doing our usual museum circuit, we went to some monuments.

We walked to the Lincoln Memorial, the MLK Memorial, the FDR Memorial, and the WWII Memorial. My walking through DC was 5192 steps which is about 2.5 miles. I also bought the first bathing suit I have had in 14 years and went swimming for about an hour. Now I’m completely exhausted.

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I used to love swimming when I was younger, but I haven’t been swimming in more than 10 years. I am actually a very good swimmer. I feel very natural in the water and once I’m swimming, I completely forget to be worried about what I look like in a bathing suit. When I lived in Phoenix, I would swim in my cousin’s pool, or in the pool in my apartment complex, but it’s been a very long time. I’m glad to be swimming again.

I’m going to the beach the week of the 4th of July with my friends. I want to be practiced in swimming again before I get there. I probably will not do a lot of swimming in the ocean. I’ll probably mostly bounce around in the waves or do the boogie board. But still, I want to strengthen my swimming muscles and get used to wearing my bathing suit in public.

This week, I am taking a couple of vacation days. I have friends visiting from Phoenix and I am going to do some sightseeing with them. That will be a lot more walking. I am also going to change my commute a little. I normally take a bus and then the metro. Then walk 1/2 mile to the office. This week, I am going to take the bus all the way into the city and then walk 1.5 miles to the office. I am also going to continue doing my lunchtime walks. I can usually get 1.5 miles in at lunch as well. That will help me boost my pedometer steps for the work challenge.

So, to recap, this is what you can expect from my blog for June. If this format works, I may try to keep it going as long as I can.

  • Monday and Wednesday – Food & Recipes
  • Tuesday – Physical aspect of surgery, body changes, body image
  • Thursday – Emotional journey
  • Friday – Exercise
  • Saturday  – Random & Questions
  • Sunday – Weekly recap and prep for week ahead

As always, I will always answer any of your questions, even if it is a repeat of a previous blog post. Let the fun begin!

Struggling & Finding A New Direction

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I have to admit it, I have been struggling since the turn of the New Year.  I got sick on January 2 on my way to work.  Unpleasant, to say the least.  I’ve hit a very long plateau in my weight loss which has me thinking that I may never lose another pound.  That thought terrifies me as I am very afraid that I will start gaining again.  I want to lose another 46 pounds, but if I don’t I’m sort of OK with that.  I’m not OK with the thought of gaining any weight at all.  I also have been struggling with the number of hours I have been working.  That has really taken a toll on my over all mental well-being, mostly because I have no time for anything else and I’m exhausted all of the time.

Mostly though, I have been surprised by the number of emotional battles I have been fighting as well.  That has kind of caught me off guard because I have really been riding an emotional high for a very long time.  I think some of it has to do with the fact that my weight loss has slowed, and I fear regaining the weight.  Some of it I think has been dealing with people who just refuse to see all the work I have done and how I have changed.  To them, I will always be the out of control overeating fat girl who needs to be constantly reminded that her efforts aren’t good enough and never will be.

One of the reasons I have always hated losing weight is the public consumption of my weight loss.  I know…oh the irony of a blogger making THAT complaint.  But it’s true.  Any time I have dieted in the past, everyone always commented on my weight loss, or lack thereof, the food I ate, and whether or not I gained weight when the diet eventually failed. Making a change like that is a very personal, and often, painful journey, yet the whole of society feels free to comment and pass judgment on it.  I think that’s part of the reason I decided to blog my weight loss since the surgery.  If the whole world, (at least my world), was going to watch me lose weight, I was going to at least control the dialogue…this time.

But really, I think a large part of my emotional struggle has been trying come to terms with my own identity.  I don’t know if I’m really done losing weight.  I hope I’m not.  I do want to lose the last little bit I have left.  Still, whether I’m done losing now, or some time in the not too distant future, the end of my weight loss journey is in sight.

For many years I was simply the fat girl.  Then for the past year and a half, I have been the girl who is changing her life by losing an incredible amount of weight.  I now know a lot of people who knew me when I was fat and are now getting used to the new me.  And I’ve met a lot of people who never knew me as the fat girl, who just know me now and do not understand where I have been.

I guess I have really been struggling with who I am now that I’ve lost the weight (or most of it, at least).  Who am I if I’m not the girl who is losing weight?  I guess I’m the one who lost a lot of weight, but that title can only last for so long.

The truth is, however, none of that really matters.  What the world thinks of me is really none of my concern.  What I need to do is decide for myself who I am and where my journey goes from here.  I can choose to have a future where my excess weight no longer defines who I am.  It’s an idea that is as freeing as it is terrifying.  But this is the world that I have chosen to create for myself. Now I just need to find a way to live in it.

So, I made some decisions about this.  I went to a couple of my writer’s group this week and in both of them, we had to set writing goals for the new year. Also, my birthday was yesterday, and it coincided with the Chinese Lunar New Year, which I think is a great time to refocus and start something new.  This is now the year of the horse, and I was born in the year of the horse.  I do not put much stock in astrology, but I do feel that it could be a sign this will be a good year.

In my second, much smaller writer’s group, I said I would start writing on this blog more (again) and maybe change the focus a little.  I want to talk more about my over all health as opposed to just weight loss.  If I really am reaching the end of my weight loss journey, I need to do that.

I’m not sure where this New Year will take me, or what direction my life will go. I’m not really sure what this blog will become.  If the weight loss does start up again, I will definitely update that, but it won’t be my main focus.  I do want to write more about food, body image, health, and weight loss in general.  I am hopeful that I can come to terms with who I am now and where I go from here.  I hope you’ll join me on the next step in my journey.

An Open Letter to Fat-Shaming ND Woman

Dear Fat-Shaming ND Woman,

I understand your concern about the health of American children and childhood obesity.  I understand that you feel you need to take a stand on a holiday that is all about the candy.  Having struggled with obesity all of my life, I really wish that I had learned and appreciated the benefits of healthy eating and the dangers of fat, sugar, and salt earlier in my life.  I disagree, however, with your fat-shaming tactic.

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Handing out candy to some children, the thinner, and in your estimation, more deserving children while handing out fat-shaming letters to children you alone determine are carrying a bit too much weight, is absolutely disgraceful.  You should be ashamed of yourself.  Does it make you feel better about yourself to pick on children you view as moderately obese?   What have they done to earn your ire?  I have to wonder what is wrong with a person who has to make themselves feel superior by picking on children?

I think it would be one thing if you refused to hand out candy to all of the children, but by choosing to hand it out to some and not to others because they are what you view as moderately obese, is wrong.  Are you a medical professional?  Are you a nutritionist?

It is people like you who have gone out of their way to make me feel bad about myself my entire life.  Don’t you think that overweight children feel badly enough about themselves without being singled out by you?

You do not know a particular child’s situation.  Maybe the child you view as obese has another medical problem and candy has nothing to do with it. Maybe they will simply grow out of it.  Maybe that child has recently lost weight and their parents are trying to teach them to be responsible about candy and other treats.  Having the treats around and learning eat them sparingly and in moderation is a good lesson to learn.  Who are you to try to supersede a decision a parent might make about their child?

There are many ways to attack childhood obesity without attacking the child or their family.  I will give you some positive suggestions that can encourage good food behavior instead of attacking children with your divisive fat-shaming letter.

  • Do not hand out candy at all.  Keep your door shut and do not give candy to any kids.
  • Work with a local farmers market to hand out a coupon for a piece of fruit.  You pay for the coupons and hand them out to kids in lieu of candy.
  • Hand out silly, cheap toys instead.  Buy a big bag of plastic spiders or something.
  • Hand out tiny boxes of raisins.
  • Hand out pencils.
  • Hand out erasers in fun shapes.
  • Hand out Playdoh.
  • Hand out glow in the dark sticks – kids love these!
  • Hand out balloons.
  • Hand out fun cards with puzzles or pictures that they can color in.
  • Hand out crayons.

You can do any number of things that does not involve handing out candy laden with sugar and fat, and does not include a fat-shaming letter.  You can then feel secure that you are doing your part to combat childhood obesity by not handing out fattening treats.  You will also have the added benefit of not being viewed as an evil, horrible, judgemental, self-righteous witch that the village now wants to burn at the stake.

Happy Halloween!

Sincerely,

The Skinny Girl Inside.

The Challenges Of WLS – Keeping Inspired & Staying Focused Pt. 2

As promised, here is Part 2 of The Challengers of WLS – Keeping Inspired & Staying Focused.

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This is the post where I discuss what helps me stay inspired  and keeps me focused on staying the course.

First, I want to say that this past year has been absolutely amazing.  The changes that have happened to my body, my health, and my life have been many.  People think losing weight through bariatric surgery is the easy way out.  Nothing could be further from the truth, and yet at the same time, it has sometimes been easy.

I have really ridden the emotional roller coaster from the moment I started this journey.  I had a lot ups and downs.  I dealt with a lot of very strong emotions before I had the surgery, and many of them were amplified after the surgery.  It was a difficult decision for me decide to have surgery.  I resisted it for many years even though friends suggested it and family begged me to consider it.  Once I made the decision to have surgery, I had no idea what I was in for.  I knew that through the surgery, I would lose a lot of weight, but I had no idea where the journey would take me, and the emotional ups and downs I would experience. This has been a hell of a journey, and although I’m not done yet, I have no regrets.

That said, how do I stay focused and keep inspired?  Here are some of the things that have inspired me over the last year. The first part of the list will be the people who have supported and inspired me over the past year.  They say when you face adversity, you really learn who your friends are, and I believe that is true.  The second part of this list will be the changes I have made and other things in my life that keeps me inspired.

  • My niece – I have to put this at the top of my list since she is, in part, the reason I wanted to take steps to drastically improve my life.  I have written in the past about how I have wanted to improve my health so that I could keep up with her and be there to watch her grow up and experience life.  That little girl has changed our entire family, not just my life.  She’s the first child that any of us had.  She is our next generation, the future of our family.  She turned this motley collection of adults into a family the day she was born.  She loves the new Auntie Colleen.  In fact, I don’t think she even remembers the old, pre-surgery Auntie Colleen. We go to museums together and hang out all of the time.  I love experiencing the world through her eyes. It’s like living life for the first time.  To think that I would miss watching her grow into a child, teenager, young woman because of my addiction to food broke my heart.
  • My sister Sandy– I have the greatest sisters.  I really do.  My sister Sandy lives about 20 miles from me.  She has been the greatest inspiration.  She changed her own life by changing the decisions that she was making.  She has her own incredible story.  But she also helped me change mine.  She confronted me about my health and my weight and begged me to do something.  Once I made the decision to have the surgery, she stood by me 100%.  She helped me with the many Dr. appointments. I stayed with her for a month after the surgery.  She bought me new clothes after I lost 100 pounds.  She writes my new weight and total weight loss on the wipe-erase board on her refrigerator.  She’s amazing.
  • My sister Jenny – Jenny is an incredible young woman.  I have seen her take terrible situations in her own life and completely turn it around.  She is another woman who has an incredible story of triumph over adversity.  But she has also been there cheering me on through mine.  When I tried out for The Biggest Loser show on TV, she drove to Richmond, VA with me and sat out all night on the sidewalk waiting for me to have an interview for the show.  She could not be here physically the way Sandy was because Jenny lives in Minnesota, but she texted me words of inspiration. We had many tearful phone calls as she talked me through some pretty difficult times.  She reads my blog all of the time, comments, sends me emails.  I know she reads my posts to her husband, (Hi Dean!!).  They are both wonderfully supportive.  She even cut, styled, and colored my hair for me for free.  I couldn’t have done all of this without her.
  • My brother & his wife – They have been so supportive of everything I have done.  While everyone else was cheering my decision to have the surgery early on, my brother was the voice of reason.  He expressed his concerns about the surgery and asked me some very difficult questions, making sure that I had truly considered all of the consequences of the surgery.  He was definitely worried.  He wanted me to improve my health, yes, but he also knew that this surgery can have complications. He was worried.  His wife was wonderful as well.  She helped me get a Baby Bullet so that I could puree my food.  She cheered me on and celebrated all of my changes with me.  And she’s always included me on every celebration with her own family.
  • My mom – My mom was so happy when I decided to have the surgery.  She was one of the people who had been asking me for years to consider wls.  She came here for my surgery and has celebrated all of my successes.  She also helps me keep things real when she thinks I might be falling off the wagon.  She knows how sick I was and does not want me to go backwards.
  • My friends – I really do have the greatest friends.  My best friend Jerry came to stay with me for a week a month after my surgery.  He helped me get my apartment set up after the surgery so that I wouldn’t have to exert too much energy to live my daily life while I healed.  He’s also been one of my biggest emotional supporters through this whole thing.  My friend Sushmita has also been a source of inspiration.  I have never met a more positive, energetic, happy person.  She inspires me.  My friends Lisa, Vicky, Jennifer, Joanna, & Lauren (hello my RHLS friends!) have also been hugely supportive; reading my blog; listening to me tell my weight loss stories; celebrating my successes; telling me how great I look, which I can never hear enough.
  • The Arlington Writer’s Group – Some of the people I mentioned above are members of the AWG, but I still have to make a special mention of this group of people.  The group has a whole has been supportive and celebrated my decision.  The day of my surgery last year, they had a writing session dedicated just to me.  They took words that described me and used them as inspirations for a writing exercise.  Then they mailed me the stories to read while I recuperated.  They have all also cheered on my successes.  Every week, they tell me how great I look; ask how much I have lost; given me exercise suggestions; the list of the support I have received from them is endless. I am so lucky to have them in my life.
  • My former & current co-workers – The day of my surgery, all of my co-workers at the time called all day to check up on me.  They came to see me while I recuperated.  They really cheered me on.  When I saw my former co-workers a few weeks ago, they all cheered on how well I have done.  My current co-workers also congratulate me on all of my success.  When I show them pictures of what I looked like before the surgery, they cannot believe it.  They all also comment on the weight I have lost since I started working there.

Those are many of the people in my life who keep me inspired focused.  Here are the other abstract things that keep me inspired and focused.

  • Pictures of myself – I can really see the difference in the before Colleen and the after Colleen.  I have never been able to see that in previous weight loss journeys.  I think that is pretty remarkable especially since the weight has come off relatively quickly. That is a huge change from my previous attempts to lose weight.
  • My breathing – I can breathe!  I have struggled with asthma since I put on so much weight.  I really had difficulty walking and moving because of that asthma.  That has mostly cleared up.  I know I still struggle a little with asthma, but it’s nothing like it was before.
  • Back pain – My back pain is nearly gone.  I could barely stand or walk because of back pain before the surgery.  Now, this does not bother me very much at all.  It’s still there a little bit, but it does not prevent me from doing what I want.
  • Walking – I can walk!  I can walk for miles and miles if I want.  Before I could barely make it a block before I had to stop and rest my back and catch my breath.  I do not have to stop for that anymore. Whenever I feel frustrated with my weight loss, I just talk a walk and revel in the fact that I can do it so effortlessly.
  • Clothes – I know this is shallow, but still, it is important.  I look good in clothes for the first time in a very long time.  I love that.
  • Cheese – I can each cheese again!  OK, I know this is a crazy thing to include, but it’s important to me.  I was allergic to milk and cheese for a very long time.  Some time shortly after the surgery, I started including milk products into my diet in an attempt to try to get some protein.  My allergies have apparently gone away for the most part.  That alone makes the changes I’ve made worth it.
  • Attention/Being Visible – OK, I admit it, I’m an attention seeker.  I have written posts in the past about the invisibility that comes along with being obese.  This is very isolating and lonely.  Now people see me.  I see men looking at me, which is  crazy to me.  Before men did not really talk to me much.  Now random men strike up a conversation with me.  One gentleman a few weeks ago talked to me in Starbucks for almost an hour continually looking for reasons to interrupt my writing and ask me questions.  Then later when he saw me in Trader Joe’s, he came running up to say, “Hey! I just saw you in Starbucks!”  And the whole online dating thing has been interesting as well.  So many of the men tell me how pretty I am.  I’ve never really had that much in the past, certainly not while I was obese.  Even if I never actually meet a man that way, but having the ones who see my picture tell me how pretty I am is a huge ego boost.
  • How incredible my life has become – I know this sounds vain, but it really has.  I am having so much fun.  My life has become so busy that I can barely keep up.  I am out all of the time.  Yesterday, I did some campaigning for the guy running for governor here in VA. Then I went to a political rally where Hillary Clinton (omfg!) was speaking. Then I went to my friend’s art gallery where I was one of the people speaking.  Every weekend is like that now. OK, maybe every weekend I don’t go see extremely famous politicos, but I am always out and about doing stuff.  I barely have time to clean my apartment and do laundry; or write in this blog.

OK this post is getting very long.  But I think you get the point.  My life has changed in incredible ways.  I have wonderful people in my life.  Nothing is better than seeing the joy in their eyes when they see how well I am doing.  I am doing incredible things with my life.  Even the simplest tasks that took so much effort before are a joy and inspiration.

I never want to be the girl who could not walk and breathe again.  I never want to look in the mirror and see the 300 pound person that I was staring back at me.   I never want to look in the eyes of the people who I love and who have supported me only to see their disappointment reflected back to me because I went backwards and gained the weight back.

I want to make the people around me happy.  I want to see my niece grow into a beautiful woman.  I want to be an inspiration for her to emulate.  I want to live each day to the fullest. I want to be open to whatever good things life has in store for me, for however much time I have left in this world.  I want to make it difficult for death to find take me from this world.  I will not go quietly from this life.  I want to spend the rest of my days raging against the dying of the light.

The fact that I see that as a possibility now, is the biggest inspiration of all.