Thursday, December 01, 2016

Six Months

Last week I hit my six month mark. It's seemed like a lifetime ago that I had surgery. So much of my life has changed and for the better, thankfully. I posted a picture to my Instagram account of how far I have come. I don't see the day to day changes because I see myself everyday. I see the physical changes in loose skin and bones or tendons now poking out or lines now running up my legs or arms where my muscles are now showing. I'm waiting for my six-pack abs but not sure if I'll ever see them under the loose skin, but I'm fine with just knowing they are there. I had my six month check up on Monday. My doctor was happy with my progress. I've gone from 275 to 198 and 55% of my visceral (extra) fat is gone. I'm 5% ahead of where I should be and would really like to hit my goal of 170 by the time I see him again in six months.
My workout buddy in Alaska. I wouldn't have been faithful in
my workouts without her.

There's been so many other changes that I've experienced that make me realize how far I have come. Baggier clothes, smaller sizes, being colder, being able to reach my toes when I stretch for workouts and running faster minute miles are just some of the changes I can see on the outside. On the inside I still struggle with food and my mind hasn't completely caught up with my stomach on some portions but I'm slowly getting there. I'm also changing the way I see myself. I used to be super critical and almost a bully in my thinking and self talk. I am celebrating the changes both physically and mentally. I'm content with my baggy arms and looser skin because it shows that I've worked hard. It's my badge for what I've accomplished. I rock the cute gym clothes that I never would have worn in my old self. And I'm learning as I go about holiday eating. I spent Thanksgiving with family and I managed to make it through dinner without the gut-busting-wear-your-fat-pants after meal feeling. Dad even bought a pumpkin pie since we didn't have it on Thanksgiving and one bite did me in, As much as I love pumpkin pie, I won't be eating it again because I didn't like how crappy it made me feel.

Alaska and Glacier in the background

I've experienced some other changes as well. I'm more willing to go out and try a new adventure or revisit childhood fun. Over Thanksgiving, my dad and I visited Alaska to spend time with family. In the past I would have walked out to the glacier and stopped and saw it and then walked slowly back to the car and struggled the entire time. This experience- we hiked out, climbed up, slide down and made snow angels on the glacier. Something a year ago, I would have been to uncomfortable to do much less enjoy. Dad said we all were "a bunch of kids" on the trip. I even signed up for another half marathon and am toying with the idea to do a half in every state over my lifetime. I don't have to run them (but I might see if I can).
Snow Angel on the Glacier
It's been a journey, this whole process, and I'm glad that I had the courage to take the leap. When I first started, I felt and had been told by some that it was the easy way out, I think it's harder because I have to be focused in on what I eat and I have to work out. It wasn't a magic pill. I still have to bust my butt at the gym to make a difference. The difference is that now if I eat a piece of cake or something super sweet (I did over Thanksgiving), then I have to deal with having my blood sugar spike and feeling weak and nauseated almost instantly. I've learned these past couple weeks, that even though I think I can handle it, I can't. I might get away with it once but if I repeat the process, it will come back to bite me and mess me up for a few days or even a week. It will make it so my body doesn't tolerate some of the good stuff (chicken, eggs, hamburger) that I normally eat and I have to reset my system. This is a consent learning process for me. Some days I earn an A+ other days I barely make a C-.  But it's my journey and I hope that someone along the way finds a nugget of inspiration or truth to help them on their journey. And that's why I've been sharing.





Monday, September 12, 2016

New Life, New Prespective

It's been three and a half months since surgery and my life is very different but yet the same. There are new realities- some good, some bad but you can't just sit down and whine and cry so you get up and move on. It's the only reality that's left. So you move forward just like every time your reality shifts.

Last blog post, or maybe the one before, was on my one month follow up. I was still in the recovery/.honeymoon phase. I had clean cancer reports come back and I was losing weight without working towards it. I'm still a bit in this phase but I have to work for it more and it's now more mental than anything.

The first time I went to a movie, I didn't enjoy myself. Usually a half-decent movie will get a better rating because I tolerated it for my love of popcorn. I love movie popcorn and it's not a food my body will digest, same with soda. So try sitting through a 2+ hour movie with just water. It wasn't fun and I think I hated the movie more. My second movie was better but I also had a better attitude toward not having popcorn. Time has passed and I've let the idea of buttery, salty, goodness pass (I still miss it). I also miss my ice cold soda and ice cream when it's hot. That too had to be worked through as I gave it up. It's a mental game. Sure I could have popcorn and soda but the popcorn would give me a stomach ache and the soda, burns my stomach from the carbonation and I was told I could still have it, if I let it go flat but it's not the same and so I'd rather just not start a bad habit again. I miss grilled cheese and other things but there have been so many more positives that I've experienced that the thing I've had to give up are nothing compared to the things I've gained. I've had to find new ways to deal with stress instead of turning to food. And the last few weeks have been stressful with having my dad have emergency open heart surgery for the third time because of an infection.

I've gained moments that some normal sized people take for granted. I have been overweight most of my life. I weighed 150 pounds in seventh grade and 210 starting my senior year of high school. So having normal moments has altered the way I view myself. Things like being in a hotel and having the towel wrap completely around and not showing any skin. I took a picture for my own memory. I was told I was in the wrong department shopping when I couldn't find anything that fit. The sales lady said maybe I should move away from the plus size section into the "normal" section of the store. Buying my first medium top, size 16 pants and wearing a size 14 pants have all been new experiences for me.

Don't get me wrong, I still think I am a big girl. I still have thoughts of "will that chair hold me?" or "am I going to fit in that chair, space, place?" These are things normal sized people don't think about but larger people do. I can tell you taking seven weeks off from working out messed me up. I missed the week prior to surgery because I didn't have the energy and then the six week recovery pretty much mentally and physically screwed with me. My week back I struggled, more than when I had started boot camp. I remember one workout were we had to do pull ups and dead lifts. I didn't have the strength I had prior. I could barely lift the bar or myself. I got pissed and then I cried and I was going to quit and my trainer and friend Patrisha told me it was alright and that I would get stronger so I stayed and finished the workout. I'm still not as strong as before but I'm getting there and I'm seeing improvements. I can run better, I can do a decent burpee and mountain climbers are not completely the devil that they were before. I also recently have been realizing that my journey can and will help others be healthier and that I can overcome anything. I can kind of do a pull up now so that's a goal of mine. Patrisha also pushed me to push myself so I faced my fear of box jumps and went from 18 inches to 20 inches. I'm still not comfortable with them but I'm getting there.

I've been taking more selfies because I'm starting to like myself. People have noticed my smaller self faster than I have. I caught my reflection this morning in the gym's window while working out and for a moment I didn't realize it was me. I love inheriting new clothes from friends and that's were I see my difference. I've taken measurements every two weeks or so since surgery and it's helped with the adjustment. If I was just dependent on the scale, I would have lost my mind six weeks ago. For four weeks the scale didn't budge- not a tenth of a pound. It just was stuck but I was dropping sizes. It still sticks every once in awhile but I'm not as obsessed with the scale as I once was. I hit my first goal of being under 210 a couple weeks ago and I'm close to my second goal of being under 200 lbs and my doctor's goal is for me to be 170 lbs so that's my third goal. The first time I saw the bones in my had it was slightly shocking. I had never seen my bones and it was weird. Just like I find it fascinating that I can pull my skin away from my arms (it's weird but cool) and I noticed this week that my legs are getting lines on the sides where my muscle is developing. Something I've never seen before. And my asthma is better controlled. I've started pushing myself running so I can feel my lungs struggling but nothing compared to what it was before when I was taking two asthma medicines a day. I'm also having to re-learn meal planning and grocery shopping. Buying a bunch of bananas or two squashes doesn't really work for me anymore because I find that I'm throwing out spoiled food before I can eat it. What food used to be consumed in one meal is now becoming a 2-3 meals.

It's not all roses, if I eat sugar I get sick about 12 hours later, sometimes sooner depending on what it is. I still don't have the energy or strength I had before and I will take 6-7 vitamins a day for the rest of my life. Another side effect is that my hair is falling out so I cut it trying to minimize it but it's getting worse and hopefully it will even out before I get to bald. And even though I am learning to accept it, my excess skin on my arms bugs me a little.

I am proud of my journey and how hard I have worked and what I have overcome. My dad hadn't seen me since right after I had to have the second EGD for them to tattoo the cancer area and when I showed up at his hospital room, he thought I was a nurse and it took him a minute to realize that I wasn't wearing scrubs so I wasn't a nurse and must be a visitor. Then he realized that it was me.

No matter the journey or the battle you are facing, You have to accept the new reality and as John Wayne says- even though you are afraid, saddle up anyway. You can't just give up and sit down and let the world pass you by. Get up and push through. You will be stronger because of it and you never know, you just might help someone on their journey too.

Far Left is when I started my journey (April 2015), middle is when I had surgery (May 2016) and Right is a few weeks ago (Aug 2016)