Tag Archives: lifestyle

Some Good News At Least – NSV

Trying to remain positive about weight loss when it’s been six months since you’ve lost any way can be very difficult. My weight has not changed. The good news is I haven’t gained any.  Sometimes the scale fluctuates and goes up two or three pounds, but it always comes back down to 171. I’m told not gaining weight is an accomplishment in and of itself. I know it, but I do not always feel it.

That said, I had some really great health news this week. A few weeks ago my work did an employee health screening where they brought in the vampires and asked people to join in the process. They offered Amazon gift cards and free salad bowls if people signed up.

I can get free books? I’m in!

I received the results this week. My blood pressure was slightly elevated at 140/89. Not great, but a damn sight better than the unregulated 210/125 it was just a couple of years ago. I used to have to take three different meds to bring it down to the 140/89 range. Now I take none. I will share that number with my doctor when I go in July for my annual physical, and if she feels a mild medication is in order, I’ll consider it.

The better news is this.

  • Blood Sugar – 89
  • Cholesterol – 173
  • HDL – 52, (should be a little higher, but this number is vastly improved).
  • LDL is 101, (should be a little lower, but still a huge improvement).
  • Triglycerides…wait for it…97!

I am astonished by the triglycerides number. Heart disease runs in my mother’s family. All of her siblings, (and she has 8 of them…8!!), have experienced some kind of heart problem, either open heart surgery, bi-passes, blockages, etc. My mother has high bp and high cholesterol, but to date, no major issues, thank goodness.

One of the reasons I did the bariatric surgery was my fear of heart disease. My blood pressure was out of control, and my other numbers were totally out of whack. My triglycerides alone were well over 200.

I have been trying very hard to raise my HDL number and lower the LDL number.I eat ample quantities of nuts and peanut butter…maybe that explains the weight loss stoppage. Hmmm. 

I make sure that I use canola oil, sesame oil, and other oils that have monounsaturated and/or polyunsaturated fat. I do not use margarine ever! No trans fats for me. If I’m going to have bad fat, I’m going straight for the butter. Honestly, there is no substitute. At least saturated fats are natural fats and your body does need them!

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I really do not eat so much fat that I need to worry about a little butter now and again. And besides, what isn’t made better with butter?

But I digress…

I am really happy with those numbers. I’m sure my doctor will be thrilled to.

Update on my spring walking tour of DC…

I have accomplished everything except the walk to Roosevelt Island. I have a friend coming to visit me this weekend. I may try to do that with him. I know I am going to drag him to Eastern Market early Sunday morning for breakfast and shopping. I went there this past weekend and I got two really cool skirts and some fresh fruits.

 

New Summer Challenge!

I am thinking of doing a blogging challenge every day in June. This will take some planning on my part. And I’ll have to think of something to blog about every day. I’m going to be returning to the gym in an attempt to lose some of 46 pounds I’d like to lose. But if anyone has ideas on new subjects, please shoot me a message or comment after this post.

Spring Fest – The Cure For Boredom

So today I am going to try posting from my iPad. I am supposed to be hanging out with my sister today. She’s running a bit late. There are only so many naps, tv shows, or rounds of Words With Friends I can do before my head explodes. I knew that Spring Fest in my neighborhood was happening, so I grabbed my poncho and iPad and walked down the hill.

The festival is pretty darn festive. Lots of music and beer drinking. I haven’t had any alcohol since the surgery and honestly I do not really miss it. So I’m just here enjoying the music and watching people make fools of themselves. I cannot really justify paying $30 to not drink beer, so I’m just enjoying a cappuccino instead.

Now Coffee Fest – that’s something I can get behind!

Ok I forgot my point.

Oh yeah, so I walk down here to Caribou Coffee only to find out that tomorrow they are closing and never opening again. They were bought out by Peets’ over a year ago. Nobody is happy about this. I will miss Caribou. They have been good to me.

But all things change and we knew this was going to happen. They have been putting off the conversion for a while now. So, farewell Caribou! I have enjoyed you coffees and teas and the yummy blueberry oatmeal.

Apart from that, I am really enjoying this festival. I love that I can go to these things and walk around. I might not be able to drink or eat much, but I can walk to and from. I can walk around and socialize. And most of all, I can dance!

Enjoy the pics!

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The Fat Pejorative

You really want to insult a woman? Make her feel like she’s nothing? Let her know that no matter what she’s accomplished in her life, the only thing that matters about her is her outward appearance?

It’s surprisingly easy. Just tell her she’s fat.

Here are a few other ways to cement the idea that she is fat, and therefore not really worthy of any other consideration in life:

  • Question her every time she eats -“Are you eating again?”  “Are you really going to eat that?”  “Should you really be eating that?”  “Try an apple instead.”
  • Giver her unsolicited food or exercise advice.
  • Talk to her only about her weight, the food she eats, whether or not she exercises, or her “health”.
  • Take pictures of her eating and put it on the internet with what you view as funny, albeit mean slogans.

What brought this on today, you ask?

An old high school friend of mine posted this picture of Michelle Obama on Facebook.

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Now, this is not a political blog, and I do not wish to delve into politics here. Certainly, anyone is free to disagree with the president or any politician of any persuasion at any time for any reason. That is a right that is protected by the constitution. This picture is also protected speech, however repugnant it may be.

That said, I was outraged by this picture. The politics of it are inconsequential. What has me angry is the message it sends about women, food, fat, and shame. It says that no matter what a woman has accomplished in her life, that her outward appearance matters more than anything.

She can’t be caught doing anything unattractive, certainly nothing as unattractive as eating. Heaven forbid. That is immediate grounds for mockery of the highest order.

This whole episode has started me thinking about the use of the word “fat” as a pejorative. I cannot tell you the number of times I have been called “fat” as an insult, even during times in my life when I was clearly not fat. And it has clearly had a deleterious effect on my life.

What bothers me now is not how being called fat or being mocked because of food affects me, because I’ve learned more constructive ways of dealing with that. I am worried about the message it sends to young girls. Young girls are bombarded with wildly inappropriate images of unattainable airbrushed beauty. They are sent contradictory messages from the food and diet industries…consume, diet, consume, diet. Eating disorders are on the rise. Childhood obesity is at epidemic levels. All of this worries me.

I have a 6-year-old niece who seemingly knows nothing about food issues apart from her allergies. Here is what she knows. When she’s hungry, she eats. She does not worry about the number of calories in something. She doesn’t worry that it will make her fat. She just eats when she’s hungry. When she’s not, she doesn’t. Furthermore, as far as I can tell she has no self-esteem issues whatsoever. This is the kind of life and self-image I want for all girls.

I never want to see her change. In fact, I do not ever want any girl to ever go through what I have been through. It makes me sick to think that society will push her into obsessing over food, what she eats, how much and how often, and basing her value solely on her appearance.

I can assure you, it is no way to live. Mocking pictures like the one above, only perpetuates the notion that eating and being fat are the worst possible crimes a woman can commit.

Until we change that notion, being fat can and will always be used as a pejorative to bring and keep women down by people who are not smart enough to disagree with you more intelligently. We need to recognize that food is for nourishment and everybody eats. We need to recognize obesity as a medical condition and treat it as such. We need to recognize that women have value because they are people and as such deserve respect.

But mostly, We need to stop giving the trolls the power to control how we see ourselves by using fat as a pejorative. That is truly the only way things will change for young girls in the future.

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Blossom Walk Update

This gallery contains 19 photos.

As many of you who follow my blog know, I set some goals for myself this spring. Two of those goals were to walk around the Tidal Basin and to attend the Cherry Blossom Parade. I walked around the Tidal … Continue reading

Why Weight Loss Surgery Is Not The Easy Way Out

Why Weight Loss Surgery Is Not The Easy Way Out.

 

I am sharing my friend’s blogpost because I agree with her wholeheartedly! Anyone who says that bariatric surgery is the easy way out has no idea what they are talking about. Please click on the link and read her post!

Bariatric surgery is a huge lifestyle change. There are struggles and difficulties, and potential major problems. But, if you follow the plan, you can achieve great success and change your life.

My surgeon’s office made it clear to me that the surgery is not a cure, it is a tool. The tool can help you change your life, improve your health, and lose weight, but you still have to do all of the hard work. There’s nothing easy about it, but like anything that is good, it is worth all the hard work in the end.

via Why Weight Loss Surgery Is Not The Easy Way Out.

Another NSV Victory – Spring Goals Accomplished!

I had a major non-scale victory today. I walked around the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC to see the cherry blossoms.

This is the route I took. I parked on Jefferson just before the Smithsonian Castle in Washington, DC. I marked my starting point as 1400 Independence Avenue, which is just a block away.

Along the way, I saw the Jefferson Memorial, The George Mason Memorial, The FDR Memorial and the MLK Memorial.

This morning was a gloriously beautiful morning. Chilly and windy, especially along the water, but beautiful. I am planning on going to the Cherry Blossom parade next week, so I will do this again. Hopefully by then, the Cherry Blossoms will be at the peak bloom. I cannot wait to see those pictures.

In the meantime, Enjoy these pictures! Some facts first though:

  • Before today, I had never walked around the Tidal Basin before.
  • I had never seen the MLK memorial or the Jefferson Memorial.
  • The walk from where I parked and back again was about 2.5 miles.
  • I am exhausted and need a nap.

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Springing Forward With Panache! (Good-bye Winter!)

This winter was rough. I am using the past tense because I really want to put this winter in the past. I know technically, it is in the past and already spring as March 21 was the official first day, but it has still been cold and snowy here. We even had some flurries yesterday, in fact.

Spring keeps threatening to pop up, but winter just won’t let go. Here is a picture I took the other day of Cherry Blossoms trying to bloom.

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A few posts ago, I gave myself a list of things to accomplish this spring. Stuff that I could not do before  the weight loss that I can do now.  I have some dates picked out for these events. I even bought some new ponchos for all of my walking events, so I’m totally prepared!  (I love ponchos and have very fond childhood memories of wearing the ones my mother made for me. Regrettably, I have no talent with knitting needles and crochet hooks, but I’m glad she did.)

April 5 – Walk around the Tidal Basin, see Jefferson Memorial, FDR Memorial, and the MLK Memorial.

April 12 – Attend Cherry Blossom Parade. The kite festival was supposed to be Sunday, March 30, but was cancelled due to inclement weather. Hopefully, that will be re-scheduled for this weekend.

June 4-6 ish – Lots of DC touristy type stuff that will include a lot of walking. I might try to put my walk to Roosevelt Island during this time frame. A friend of mine is bringing her family to DC and they want to be, in her words, “complete tourists”. I will join them. I am so happy they chose now to visit so that I can show them the city.

I am now officially adding one more thing to my list. (insert drum-roll here)

My friend Sushmita, who owns Studio Pause, is a graduate of Empowered Women International.  Their motto is “Helping Immigrant, Refugee, and Low Income Women Create Sustainable Livelihoods.” They basically teach them to run a business, mostly around arts, crafts, cooking, something they are good at, passionate about, and turn it into a business that can sustain them and their families.

Sunday, April 6, 2014, Sushmita is hosting a fundraiser at her studio, Studio Pause, and I’m helping. We are going to cook Indian food, and serve meals to our friends and family in an effort to raise money for their scholarship program. I will be making my famous chicken saag, (recipe on this blog). And I might also make my curry chicken salad with mango chutney if the mood strikes me, which if I know me, it will.

Here is the Facebook page for the event.

If you’re in the DC area, and wish to attend, please do! It should be fun!

Like The Best Compliment Ever!

Recently, I had two separate friends on two separate occasions pay me the best compliments.

Let me preface this by talking about something else for a minute. I have written the past about having friends, colleagues, etc who only know me as the “after” Colleen. When I show them pictures of the “before” Colleen, they are absolutely aghast.

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“OMG! No, that’s not you!”

“Oh I can’t believe you ever looked like that!”

I expect that reaction from people who did not know me before the surgery and before the amazing 127 pound weight loss. What I never expected to hear, but secretly glad I did, are the following comments by people who knew me both pre and post surgery.

Recently, I took the metro to the writer’s group one night. I was approaching the escalators, which I routinely walk up and down, btw, when one of the other AWG members came up behind me.

Right after she greeted me with a, “Hi Colleen!” she smiled and told me, “I’m getting used to seeing you look so small!”

I’m not always used to seeing myself as small, so it really felt good to have someone else say it.  I just smiled and said thank you, but really, on the inside I was doing one giant happy-dance which is probably more reminiscent of Pee-Wee Herman’s Big Shoe Dance than an actual happy dance because I’m a horrible dancer even in my own head, but still, I’ll take it.

The other compliment came from my friend who helped me pack and move my apartment. In typical white-trash fashion, I festoon my refrigerator with magnets and pictures. The magnets mostly hold the pictures of family members, (OK mostly pictures of my niece), in place, but some of the magnets are decorative in the loosest sense of the word.

On the refrigerator at my old apartment was a picture of me and my baby sister at her wedding. I weighed probably 300 pounds at the time. I have posted that picture of me and Jenny before. I was quite fat.

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The friend who helped me move has known me since 2005 or 2006, which is to say she knew me when I weighed 300 pounds.

She grabbed the picture and loudly proclaimed, “OMG Colleen, I almost asked you who the other person in this picture is.”

I of course replied with, “The bride is my sister Jenny.”

“I know that! I almost asked who this person was!”

She was pointing at the 300 pound me.

“But you knew me when I looked like that!”

“Yes, but I don’t think of you like that anymore. It’s hard to believe you ever looked like this.”

We both laughed and packed the picture and magnets away for the move.

When I’m feeling down because I haven’t finished losing the weight, or feel that I haven’t made enough progress, I think of these two incidents. They are great reminders of how far I have actually come, not to mention great reminders of the fantastic friends I have.

Me at Shenandoah Mountains

Me at Shenandoah Mountains

Learning My Triggers

I have had many conversations with a fellow bariatric friend of mine about the subject of learning what my eating triggers are and how to deal with them.

“You’ve done the easy part,” she tells me, as if any part of this weight loss journey has been easy. “Now it’s time to work on why you overeat.”

She tells me all the time that I need to learn what my eating triggers are and learn to deal with them differently than I have in the past. This is especially important now that I can eat a little more. She’s ten years post-op, and she said she is still learning herself. (She looks great, btw.  She’s lost 135 pounds and has kept them off for ten years, so she’s doing something right!)

So, here are some of the things that I know cause me to overeat, eat without thinking, binge-eat, or whatever you call it:

  • Stress – My job, although wonderful, is very stressful sometimes. I find myself snacking more during the day.
  • Well meaning (or otherwise) rude weight loss comments from others – Why do I care what they think, right? But sometimes I do. I’ve worked so hard to get where I am, and I hate that other people think they have a right to judge or tell me what they think I’m doing wrong. That’s the one thing I’ve always hated about “dieting”. Other people’s comments. Weight loss is at once private and public. I could write about this one all day, but I won’t here. Maybe in another post.
  • Plateaus – Everyone hits them. Mine has lasted almost 5 months. The science of dieting seems simple enough. Eat less, burn off more calories than you take in, you will lose weight. Right? Wrong. That’s true and not true. Yes, you do lose weight if you eat less, but your body is not a machine. It is complex. It has to readjust to the new lower weight. You have to keep the diet change up for the weight loss to begin again. You have to increase your activity. You cannot stop. You have to have faith that it will all work out. I think that’s the hardest part for me.
  • Negative thinking – We all do it. It doesn’t help that sometimes those negative thoughts are reinforced by the thoughtless masses who feel free to comment on your diet, body changes, etc. Mass media does not help either. Constantly seeing images of fat stomachs walking down the street while the news media bemoans the obesity epidemic in this country. Reading magazines with unrealistically skinny super models on the cover and adorning every page. It is easy to feel bad about yourself when you are constantly bombarded by these images letting you know how wrong you are.
  • Change – Change is stressful for as it is for anyone. I have changed my life a lot in the past two years. I lost 127 pounds. I changed jobs. Now I am moving into a bigger apartment. All of this change has been for the good, but I am still overwhelmed sometimes.

So, how do I deal with all of this without overeating. The truth is, sometimes I don’t. I have definitely fallen victim to an eating binge even since the surgery. Admittedly, more often than not, I am able to fend off a binge by doing something constructive, eating a healthy meal, taking a walk, writing. But more than once, I have caved. I try not to beat myself up about it, because that just makes matters worse. Everyone makes mistakes. Still, I recognize that I need to learn to deal with this issue.

Learning to constructively deal with my eating triggers may take a lifetime, but I am determined. As difficult as it is, I have to do it. I do not want to ever go back to the life I had before.

There are some good things to be said for all of this.  Despite a few episodes of binge eating the following remains true:

  • I am still committed to losing the last 46 pounds that I want to lose.
  • I am still committed to never gaining the weight back. And on that note…
  • I have not gained any weight. Not one ounce.
  • Despite my prolonged plateau, I came down one size in pants from a 14 to a 12.
  • I can sometimes wear a Large instead of a 1x.
  • That means I can shop in the normal women’s department and not the plus sizes anymore.
  • I have purged my wardrobe of almost all of my plus-sized clothes.
  • I still eat much healthier than I did before the surgery. (5 fruits and veggies per day, 70 grams of protein, keeping starches at a bare minimum!)
  • I can walk without struggle.
  • I can breathe.
  • I really feel as if I can be a full participant in my own life again.
  • I have great people in my life. I really am very lucky. I have great friends and great family, all of whom have been extremely supportive of everything I have done.

So, the struggle continues, but I have no intention of giving up. I stay focused on all the good things I have accomplished. Even though it is hard sometimes, I have faith that I will get to where I want to be in the end.

On The Move

So many things have changed for over the last year and a half, I’ve lost count. One of the biggest changes, however, is yet to come. I am moving in two weeks!

I was not originally planning this, but the opportunity presented itself. I have been renting a large studio apartment for the past five years. I love this apartment. It has been very good to me. But I have outgrown it and I’ve known this for a while.

In November, my apartment building informed everyone that if we wanted to continue renting month-to-month, which I have been for four years now, they would charge us a penalty. They were encouraging everyone to sign a new lease. I do not mind signing a new lease, but I was thinking that maybe some time in June I might consider upgrading to a one bedroom apartment. I did not want to be tied into another lease just yet. So, I complained.

When I complained to the leasing manager, she told me that they had a glut of one bedroom apartments on the market and they were anxious to move them as soon as possible. She told me that instead of upgrading in June, which is peak moving time for this area, I should consider upgrading now as she could probably give me a very good price. She was right. I am only going to be paying $60 more for the one bedroom than I would be for the studio. And, as a bonus, the apartment I am moving into will be completely renovated from top to bottom, new walls, new carpet, new appliances. I am so excited.

I was supposed to move in February, but the apartment was not ready. So, I have agreed to move in March instead, not that I had much choice.

I have been wildly packing and consolidating. I have taken this time to throw out a bunch of stuff I have been holding onto for no discernible reason whatsoever. I have donated a lot of stuff. And I found a bunch more clothes I need to donate. Last year, when I finally got down to a 1x in pants, I bought a bunch of yoga pants and stretch pants. I have finally accepted the fact that they are all too big for me now. I put on the yoga pants this weekend and could not keep them up.

As I was packing my clothes, I am really surprised by how few clothes I actually have left. I have a ton of dishes, pots, pans, books, bookshelves, etc., but the clothing supply is severely diminished since my last move.

When I moved into this apartment, I had a lot of clothes. Most of the clothes I held onto for years even though they were too small for me. As I lost weight, I was glad that I saved them. I have since purged my wardrobe several times as I lost weight. Once I am finally moved and settled, I will have to start working on rebuilding my clothing supply. I have many empty hangers to fill.

I am very happy about this move. It has taken it’s toll though. It is very emotional going through everything you own. I have felt for a while now like I have been living my life backwards through clothes. Now that I am packing up and looking at everything I own, all of those emotions are resurfacing.

I have been struggling a bit with my emotions, but I feel certain that I can work through them. This downturn of emotions has been unexpected. I’m not sure if it is the winter weather or if the enormity of all of the changes I have been through these last two years, but I feel like I have been reeling. I know in the long run I will be OK, but I feel as if I have been completely caught off guard by this.

My biggest fear is that I will let this go on too long and start going backwards. I really do not want that to happen. I think once I’m moved and settled, and spring shows up, I’ll start feeling better.

On a brighter note…

I am making one other change apart from my move. I have decided to adopt a pet, specifically, a cat. I am working through an organization called Homeward Trails. They take in rescues and save pets from kill shelters. A friend of mine volunteers for them from time to time. He advised me to go to them. I filled out their application and met a kitty this weekend.

I had my phone interview yesterday. They want to do a home inspection once I move. After that, I should be able to bring my new kitty cat home. I’m including a picture of the cat that I met. Her name is Naomi. She is so precious.

She was not my first choice initially. Then I met her! OMG she’s awesome. I am hoping she’s the cat that I end up with. They cannot promise she will still be available in two weeks, but they said they will do what they can. In the meantime, here are some pics of her.

She’s so smart and loves to explore. She’s also very amenable to petting and just being chill, which is good. She was apparently found with a litter of kittens. All of her babies have found homes. I would be so happy to take her in. Wish me luck.

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