Tag Archives: healthy living


I went back to the gym today after a two day hiatus.  Thursday, I had my second writer’s group and last night, well, let’s just say that I was lazy.

So, I got up this am and had my coffee, my breakfast, and a protein snack.  I took my vitamins and I felt prepared to work my butt off.  Or so I thought.

I wanted to do one of the exercise classes today.  I thought maybe there was a Zumba class, but there was not.  I arrived and they were in the middle of the Bodypump class.  I don’t think I’m quite ready for that one just yet only having just started back to the gym this week.  So, I decided to wait until that one was over and do the Bodyflow class.

I did 15 minutes cardio on the bike to warm myself up and get ready.  Then I made my way into the class.  Bodyflow is part yoga, part Tai Chi, and part, what the %^$* was I thinking!  Holy crap.

Now, I have taken yoga classes before.  It’s been a number of years, but I have some knowledge of the different poses.  I have never done Tai Chi though.  I didn’t think it looked hard, so I thought I could handle it.  To say this class was a lot harder than I thought it would be is an understatement.

The instructor moved quickly through the different poses and exercises.  I could barely keep up sometimes.  Plus, I’m not as balanced as I once was.  Granted, a lot more balanced than I was when I weighed 117 pounds more than I do now, but still.  The whole, downward facing dog pose combined with the whole, now bend your knees and take your right hand and reach back and grab your left foot, thing, let’s just say, didn’t happen.

Downward facing dog was hard enough.  I was actually quite pleased that I could get myself into that position.  Let’s face it, it’s not easy for a middle-aged out of shape grown woman who is still 56 pounds overweight to get into many positions.  But reach back and grab my feet?  No.  I could barely maintain my balance as it was.  I just stayed there in my pose, precariously maintaining my balance and watched the instructor.

She looked around the room, her eyes stopping on me, and I just shook my head.  Not gonna happen hon.  She smiled and continued with her crazy routine.

There was one other moment when we did some sun-warrior pose, which consisted of standing on one leg, extending the other leg behind while reaching forward with arms.  And then!  Bending forward so that our bodies were perpendicular to the leg we were standing on.  I tried this one.  Really I did.  Fortunately, I did not fall on my face, but I am clearly not ready for this pose yet. I stumbled forward a bit and turned to look at other people in the class.  There was a woman behind me standing with her hands on her hips with an absolutely incredulous look on her face.  We both just laughed and shook our heads.

It was a pretty tough class all around, but I’m glad I did it.  I now know my limits as far as my strength and coordination.  I talked to the instructor of the Bodypump class and she thinks I should give it a try despite the fact that I feel woefully less than ready.   Maybe I will.  But I think I will do the regular yoga class tomorrow.  I may wait a week before I try anything as tough as the Bodypump class.

Needless to say, the end of the class, the relaxation and meditation, was my favorite part.  After such a tough workout, I definitely needed to release that tension.

The class was tough, but I am not deterred.  I will try it again.  I will start with the regular yoga class to build up my ability to do some of those poses.  Plus I will keep the cardio workouts up.  Just because it is difficult does not mean I do not want to do it.  I am determined to get myself back into shape.  I will never be as limber as I was when I was a teenager or in my early 20s, but I really want to get into much better shape than I am right now.  I never want to go back to where I was before.

Wish me luck.


Everybody Has One


An opinion about your diet or weight loss that is.  I have found that people are always willing to give your their opinion about how you are losing weight, what you eat, if you’re losing weight fast enough, too fast, exercising or no, exercising too much, you should do this, you cannot do that, always do this, never do that, etc. etc. etc.

Often, that advice is contrary to what your doctor has told you told and can be wildly different from what he/she thinks you should be doing.  More often than not, the advice is kindly meant by people who care about you.  Sometimes, the advice is given by people who just like to hear themselves talk or think they know everything about dieting.  Sometimes the advice hurts your feelings or feels overly judgmental.

It can be very overwhelming.

Everybody has an opinion about dieting because, let’s face it, almost everybody diets.  Each person is different and a diet technique that works for one person may not work for the next.

I like to think that most diet advice is well meant by well meaning people.  They may not know a thing about what works for you, or what you have discussed with your doctor or personal trainer, if you have one.  But I think most of the time, people mean well.  There are people who shell out advice or judgments in a hurtful way because it makes them feel superior and therefore better about themselves, but they are not really worth giving any value to, are they?  No, I didn’t think so.

So here’s my advice for dealing with diet advice, critiques, judgments from other people.  This is pretty much for anyone who is trying to lose weight, but it’s especially helpful to any bariatric patients out there.

  • Ignore most diet advice you receive.  Some of the advice may actually be pretty good, but most of it may not really work for you.  If what you are doing works, stick with it.  If not, then it’s OK to seek outside opinions, but I would start by talking to your doctor, then maybe your dietitian and/or personal trainer to make sure you are following a safe, healthy plan.  Your best friend’s older sister’s cousin’s friend may have told you about the perfect “cleanse” where he/she lost 15 pounds in 3 days, but that plan may not really be the best solution to your problem.  In fact, just don’t do that.  Those “cleanses” are pretty crazy.
  • Always consult with your doctor/dietitian/personal trainer.   The most important part about losing weight is to do it in a healthy manner so that you never gain it back.  Doing crazy fad diets, cleanses, pills, powders, unrealistically aggressive exercise plans will all backfire in the end.  You may lose that 15 pounds in three days, but as soon as you start eating the way you were before, stop exercising, etc., you will gain all that weight back and then some.  Nobody wants that.
  • Be honest with yourself.  I cannot stress that enough.  You know when you’re following your plan and when you’re not.  If you hit a plateau and you stop losing, or god forbid, start gaining again, take a look at what you’re doing.  Honestly assess your diet plan.  Write down what you eat, drink, and how much you exercise each day.  You will get nowhere if you’re not honest with yourself about what you are doing.
  • Set achievable goals.  Setting unrealistic goals only sets you up for failure.  If you set smaller goals and you exceed them, you feel better about what you are doing and it makes weight loss and better health seem possible.  You’ll get there in the end, one small step at a time.
  • Mix it up occasionally.  Let’s face it, diet’s are boring.  And boredom is the death knell to any diet.  Feel free to try new healthy foods, new exercises to break up your routine a bit.  Doing so could be a new jump-start in the right direction for your diet.  It also keeps your plan fresh.  If you’ve been riding the exercise bike for cardio, try swimming.  If you’re eating nothing but bananas and yogurt for breakfast, try a melon salad and scrambled eggs with spinach.  If you like spicy food, add a little more flavor to your baked chicken.  Try Thai spices or Indian curry powder.  There are a lot of low fat, low calorie ways to add more flavor to your meals.  That will also help you feel more satisfied and less bored with what you’re eating.
  • Listen to your body.  You know your body better than anyone.  If you’re having problems such as constipation, diarrhea, stomach aches, sore muscles, not losing weight, getting dizzy, or feeling off balance take another look at what you’re doing.  You could be eating too much cheese, pushing yourself too far, not pushing yourself far enough, not getting enough protein, vitamins and nutrients, or enough water…any number of things.  Again, keep a journal of what you’re eating, what you’re drinking, and how much exercise you do.  If you cannot figure out what the problem is, take the list to your doctor or nutritionist and explain the problems you’re having.  They may have ideas and suggestions to help you out.
  • Don’t let the turkeys get you down.  My mom has this saying that goes something like this, “You’ll never learn to soar like an eagle as long as you’re hanging out with turkeys.”  I’m not suggesting that anyone abandon their old friends and find new ones, (although really, sometimes that’s what you need to do), but instead maybe give less credence to people who are not supporting what you’re doing.  If they are not supportive, don’t talk to them about your weight loss progress.  If they invite you over for lunch and serve fried foods or chips and pizza, maybe next time, offer to go to a movie with them instead.  If they constantly criticize your progress, or what they perceive as your lack of progress, just ignore their comments and talk about something else.  But really, if they are insulting you, what kind of a friend are they, really?  Maybe you do need to find new friends…or at least join a group of like minded people who are supporting one another through this process.  A support group, a friend to go the gym or share diet notes with.  Spend less time with people who make you feel bad about yourself.  (Oh, and don’t tell my mom I implied that she’s right.  I can’t have her knowing that.  We’ll just keep this between us, OK?)
  • Never give up.  I think this is the most important item on this list.  Losing weight, dieting, exercising, and getting healthier is a constant battle.  It’s easy to let minor set-backs get you down.  And it’s hard to stay focused and committed when you’re down.  Everyone messes up.  Everyone makes mistakes.  Everyone gets discouraged.  You are not a unique snowflake in this arena.  If you’re feeling alone, reach out to someone else for support.  I like to think that I can do everything myself, but even I sometimes need to phone a friend.  If you give up, you will never know what you’re capable of achieving.  As the saying goes, get up, dust yourself off, and start all over again!

Have a great weekend and remember, never give up!

The Walking Project


I know I have been walking for exercise, but I have not actually fully committed to walking a certain distance every day.  Life is busy and it is easy not to make time for something like exercise.  But if I want my diet to truly be successful and be in good shape when I am done, I need to exercise more.

I downloaded an app that a friend of mine told me about.  It’s called Zero to 5K.  It’s a running app.  Let’s be clear, I have no intention of running.  I hate running, always have.  But I will use it to improve my walking and actually walk for exercise and not just take a leisurely stroll.

Today, I am going to walk for 25 minutes.  There is a 5 minute warm up, 15 minutes of walking, and a 5 minute cool down.  That’s what the app says anyway.  What it boils down to is 25 minutes of walking.  I am going to do the walking during my lunch.  I have my writer’s group tonight and will not have time for a walk after work, so lunch time is the only time during the day I can make this work today.

Once I actually have time and money at the same time, I will join a gym.  I can get a discount a Gold’s gym because my niece works there, but I am going to price around and see what kind of deal I can get.

I also need to upgrade my walking shoes.  I am thinking of purple New Balance.

Quick Health Updates

Over the past few months I have complained about some difficulties I have experienced.  Primarily, I have whined about losing some hair and what seemed like constant constipation.

Well, I have kicked up my protein intake, even going well over the recommended 70 grams.  Apparently, someone of my height and future weight should get about 70 grams of protein per day for a healthy diet.  But, while one is losing weight, the protein intake should be increased.  I did not know this.  So, I am getting about 100-105 grams of protein per day.

I ensure I get enough protein by eating protein rich foods such as meat, cheese, fish, Greek yogurt, and eggs.  I also take a protein supplement.  I also get some kind of protein supplement in.  I either drink a protein shake, eat a protein bar, or add protein powder to my Greek yogurt.  My favorite mix 1/2 cup of Fage 0% plain Greek yogurt and with one scoop of Pure Protein chocolate powder.  OMG, it’s so delicious.  It’s kind of like eating chocolate pudding or mouse or something.  That gives me a big protein boost, about 37 grams in one dose.  I also stay full for a very long time afterwards.

I have also increased by biotin intake.  My b-12 supplement has biotin in it.  I also take a separate biotin pill, chewable of course.  I am also using Nexxus biotin shampoo and conditioner.  All of these things combined seems to have slowed down the hair loss.  I can tell it has thinned a bit on top, but everyone else says they do not see any difference.  But they are not as compulsively obsessively vain about my hair as I am.

For the most part, my constipation seems to have cleared up.  I have dramatically increased my water intake, which is good.  I think all of the additional protein helps too.  I make sure to get a good walk in 4-5 times a week.  I am so thankful that has turned around.  I was in quite a bit of pain there for a while.

Well, today I am off to the movies.  Going to see The Great Gatsby with some friends.  I loved the book.  I know the movie has had mixed reviews and has been panned by most of the major reviewers.  The New Yorker gave the movie a pretty scathing review.  I still want to see it though.  Enjoy the weekend and watch this movie trailer!



Fifteen or so years ago when I weighed what I weigh now, I had a completely different outlook on my health and what I actually looked like.

I had at one point weighed about 245-ish and had lost enough weight to get me down in the 190s range.  I worked with my doctor and a nutritionist.  Shortly after my father passed away in 1996, I stopped going to the nutritionist, gave up on my weight loss progress, stopped exercising, and stopped doing yoga.  Obviously, I became depressed in my mourning and I allowed that to derail my health goals.  I bounced around the 200-220 range for a couple of years and in the early 2000s, my weight jumped up to 300-315 range and never came back down.

I will forever regret allowing my health goals to fall my the wayside, but looking back I can see my weight loss progress at that time was ultimately doomed to failure.  Allow me to explain.

It all boils down to perspective.  During that time period, after I had lost about 50 pounds, you could show me pictures of myself before and after the weight loss and I could see no discernible difference.  In my opinion, I looked the same.  All I saw was a fat girl.  Furthermore, the people I had in my life at the time also only saw a fat girl.  Whether they saw a difference between the 245 Colleen and the 195 Colleen was immaterial, to them, I was still fat.  Furthermore, if they did see a difference in my weight, they never mentioned it to me, or never mentioned it in a way that let me know they were happy with the progress that I had made.

I’m not blaming anyone for my inability to stay on track, mind you.  I merely want to point out that I had a serious mind-body disconnect and seriously unhealthy, unproductive relationships with people in my life.

Maybe I have lived alone too long.  Maybe I have developed a healthy dose of skepticism in other people’s opinions.  Maybe years, time, and experience have changed my outlook on life.  Who knows.  But I do know that I have changed.  While I value other people’s opinions, I find that I have stopped letting how I think they see me dictate how I see myself.  I also try to look at my life and behavior more honestly than I have in the past.  I’m not perfect at this, but I do try.

When I look at myself in before/after pictures now, I really see a difference in my weight loss.  Recently, I found a picture that a friend of mine posted on Facebook from her wedding.  The wedding took place in 2003, I think.  I know that I moved back to DC in 2004, so it definitely took place before then.  I was huge in this picture.  I think I was at my maximum weight, which was 315.  I was a mess.  I compared that picture to a pictures that a friend of mine took this weekend, and wow…the difference is staggering! (I am the one in pink.)


This is a picture a friend of mine took this weekend.


What a difference, huh?

Maybe I needed to fall that far to really appreciate where I am now.  Who knows, but I sure am glad that I made the decision to change my life.

Do I still look at photos of myself and see that I am still overweight?  Yes, of course I do.  Sometimes, I look at current pictures of myself and all I see is how much work I have to do.  But unlike before, I also see how far I have come.  I feel better.  I know I look better.  And mostly, I don’t care what other people think or what they think they see when they look at me.  I know what I have accomplished.  I know that I will one day get close enough to my goal to make a real difference.  Most importantly, I know that I will never go back!

I survived!

No, I did not have to be rushed to the hospital for anxiety because I had a public speaking gig on Wednesday.  I survived it and it actually went pretty well.  I did nervously race through all of my remarks in about 20 minutes, which was kind of hilarious.  The leader of the writing group did notice that too.  He just smiled at me and he and another writer actually helped me out by starting a very detailed and lively discussion about my writing “process.”  Everyone asked me a lot of questions as if I am some kind of expert.  Ha! I was actually very comfortable with answering questions, so that went very well. 

The workshop was called From Real Life to Fiction.  I have taken a lot of my own real life events and then fictionalized them, often creating completely different stories.  Some have been pretty good and others not so much.  One story actually received honorable mention in a contest, so I guess that’s something. 

But enough about writing…onto weight loss.

I am down to 201.  That’s a total of 97 pounds.  I am surprised that I lost anything at all this week, I have been very bad food-wise.  One day I actually ate quite a lot, which is not good.  I have also had trouble keeping myself on a normal eating schedule.  I’ve just been so busy.  Plus I have been feeling very bloated.  But on the flip side, the chronic constipation has abated.  Keeping my fingers crossed that I can keep that at bay. 

I am kind of excited about the 201 mark.  In just 2 pounds, I will be in territory I have not seen in more than 20 years…below the 200 mark!  It’s kind of a big deal.  Ok, let me be honest here…it’s more than kind of a big deal…it’s a ginormous deal!  I am also freaking out just a little bit, too.  Dropping below the 200 pound mark somehow makes it all seem like this is all really going to happen.  I am really finally going to be thin, whatever that means.  I have not been “thin” since my early 20s. 

It’s weird, because I never thought of myself as thin when I was younger.  In high school, I weighed about 125-128-ish.  College, my weight went up to about 130-140-ish.  At 140, I may have been a little bit chubby, but I certainly was not fat.  I certainly thought I was, however. 

Self image is a strange thing.  I guess sometimes it is easier to believe the negative stuff.  I know I did for a long time.  I am trying to change that, though.  I still struggle with it, but I try to keep telling myself over and over again all of the things that I want to be as if they are true.  I am thin.  I am beautiful.  I am healthy.  I am smart.  I am a good writer.  I am successful.  I am loveable.  I am confident.

I don’t always feel these things, but I try.  Maybe if I keep telling myself this, I will truly begin to believe them.  Maybe if I keep it up long enough, they will all one day be true.

Enjoy some cherry blossoms.  It rained today, so they are all most likely gone already. 

Cherry Blossoms

A Revolutionary Idea For Resolutions: Not Just For New Year’s Only

In my opinion, resolutions do not work.  Don’t you just hate New Year’s Resolutions?  I do.  They are so ephemeral.  Fleeting.  Useless.  Everybody makes them.  Nobody keeps them.

I do like the idea of a New Year, however.  I love the idea of starting over and getting a fresh start to life.  I really feel that I have been given that fresh start this year in so many ways.  I have made the decision to avoid making resolutions, however.

Resolutions do not work in my opinion. I think everyone has good intentions at the start, but life and complacency often get in the way of the best intentions and resolutions usually go by the wayside by February.

I have found that what does work is setting realistic goals.  I’m not just talking about a name change from “resolution” to “goal” either.  I’m talking about real goal setting.  Every successful person does this.  Here is what real goal setting looks like.

1. Decide what you want to achieve.

2. Set a realistic goal.

3. Develop a plan to achieve that goal.

4. Follow plan.

5. Periodically check the plan to make sure you’re on track.

6. Make adjustments to plan as necessary to keep you on track.

6. Stay focused and persistent.  Achieving a goal is a marathon, not a sprint.  Don’t stop. Keep moving forward.

If you follow these steps, you should be successful. You may not achieve your goal completely, but you will be a lot closer than if you did nothing.  Or announced a resolution on New Year’s Eve and then quit in February.

We set goals in my writer’s group every year.  We try to set specific, realistic, achievable goals.  They can be big goals or small goals, but we try to do something.  Setting a goal of “writing more” is vague and not really measurable.  We push people to be more specific than that.  One short story? Two?  Will you try to get it published?  You get the idea.

I set goals for my health last year…do something about my weight and overall health by exploring WLS.  I did it.  I had the surgery and I’ve lost 57 pounds.  In addition, the steps I took to improve my heath before the surgery were crucial changes as well.  It was a big goal that brought on big changes in my life.

So, what are my health goals for 2013?

1.  Continue with the diet plan set by my doctor to achieve my weight loss goal.  I also need to tweak that diet a little to kick up my calorie intake so that I reach 1200 by the six month mark.

2. Kick up my exercising.  Exercising is a requirement for the health plan set forth in the guidelines of the bariatric surgery.  I exercise already by walking or riding the bike in my exercise room.  I have been doing pretty good, but I feel like I’m not doing enough.  I am going to join a gym and work with a personal trainer.  This was always my plan, but I needed to wait until the surgeon gave me the clearance to begin some mild strength training.  I have that clearance, so I am going to join Gold’s Gym and work with a personal trainer.

3. Get caught up on all of my medical tests and get started on some dental work.  My teeth need some work and I need to get things like a mammogram done.

4. I also have more plans or this blog.  I want to add a page with food ideas and recipes.  Many of the recipes are tailored for food allergies and are gluten-free.

So there you have it.  Health goals.  Blog goals.  Simple.  Achievable.  Already part of a plan I’m working on now, but expanded a little bit to achieve my overall goal of better health.

What are your goals or 2013?

Happy New Year!!  May 2013 be your best year yet!