I met my final weight loss goal of 225 pounds… now what?

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Posted by Candy | Posted in Misc | Posted on 14-07-2013

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So, I did it. I got on the scale this morning, looked down and it said:

225+ pounds lost. 2 years, 23 days post vertical sleeve. Holy shit. I did it.So, I got off of the scale and got back on. It said the same thing. I stared at it. I took a couple of pain pills and laid down in bed and thought about it. So… what’s next? I’ve been easing into the maintenance phase of my weight loss over the past few months so I’m starting to feel more comfortable about what I need to eat to maintain my weight and stop losing (unfortunately, it doesn’t include ice cream every night LOL). While waiting for my back pain to subside, I just thought about that for a while and tried to figure out what I was feeling.

There’s a LOT of celebrating. I’ve never felt like a such a success in my life. My weight was always the huge pink elephant in the room. It was the ONE thing in my life that I couldn’t control. It was the one thing that defined me. I was always “the fat friend” or “the funny fat lady”. I think it’s unfair to say that my weight loss hasn’t changed me. It has. I like to believe that I’m mostly the same, but the changes inside are so enormous, it’s the things that you don’t see that have made me as successful as I have been.

I’ve been very honest throughout this process. It’s been HARD. The decision was hard too. You don’t wake up one day and say “oh, I think I’ll go get my stomach cut out”. A lot of thought and planning went into this. As I’ve said before, I had a pretty bad childhood. Food was an escape and a way to soothe feelings – whether good or bad. Having a party, have cake. Having a bad day, ice cream. Someone called you a bad name, there’s always pie. I had to learn about food – really learn about it. I had to learn to deal with stress and feelings. I’ve been seeing a counselor on a very regular basis now for over two years. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, therapy has been the single best thing I’ve done for myself, aside from the surgery itself. It’s something that is SO overlooked in the bariatric community.

So. I’m at my goal weight – actually, I will lose about 10 more pounds after plastics and 140 puts me right smack dab in the middle of where my doctors say my ideal weight is. Heck, no one expected me to get this far, so they’re happy no matter what. Anything under 175 was gravy, this is pure cream cheese frosting at this point. They are THRILLED with my progress. So few get as far as I have given my starting weight.

I feel great. About myself. About my family. I share my success with so many people. My husband, my kids, my support groups, my counselor, my trainer, everyone that’s ever said “yay!” to my stream of updates about my weight. I’ve been so incredibly lucky to have amazing people in my life that have been behind me ALL the way.

My next steps are figuring how how to maintain my weight while keeping a food plan that is something I can live with, allowing for “treats” and good overall healthy foods. I also need more clothes that fit. While I’m sure my size may change a little after plastics, I have a pretty pathetic closet right now. Continuing with therapy and working on my mental roadblocks. Choosing a weight range I want to stay within and keeping an eye on the scale to see how I’m doing. I had my head in the sand for FAR too many years, if I’ve learned one thing throughout the past two years it’s that I cannot just ignore the scale. I have to have some sort of check in for how I’m doing. And, just, living life.

So, I wasn’t sure what to post today, to be honest. I mean, I’ve probably written this post 20 times in my head over the past two years. So I’m going to give you the stats, share some photos and then give some tips if you’re supporting someone that is on a weight loss journey (surgery or not). I think that’s the best thing I can give right now.

In May 2011, my weight reached it’s highest at 375 pounds. I had surgery on June 21, 2011 at 355 pounds. 2 years and 23 days later (aka today!), I’ve lost a total of 225.5 pounds. I weigh 149.5 pounds. Holy wow. I have a LOT of skin. I’m asked that a lot. It’s pretty bad. It keeps me from wearing the right size jeans. Swimsuits without shorts are out of the question, I have to wear loose shirts or there is so much hanging flab that it looks terrible. I’m hoping to figure out how to afford at least a trunkplasty (around $12k). I’m hoping to finance it after my surgery is paid off. I feel great. I can eat anything I want except for pasta, squishy bread and carbonated beverages (all seem to expand in my stomach and cause me discomfort so I just don’t bother). My whole family changed their eating habits and we’re ALL healthier and happier.

…. and, now, the photos. A before & after and Tom giving me the promised piggyback ride for reaching my ultimate goal. He even ran around the front yard. It was pretty hilarious and SO sweet. I, of course, worried I was going to hurt him. LOL.

Candy reached goal weight      Candy reached goal weight

In past blog posts, I’ve given advice for people that wanted to lose weight, but I think it’s equally important to know how to support someone that is. So, just a few things that I found helped (or didn’t):

  • Be there to listen and not judge. If they are having some ice cream, don’t judge them for it. Maybe they worked it into their plan for the day. Maybe this is a day off of their food plan.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up if they’re eating ice cream EVERY day. Be gentle and just ask, “hey, you said to check in with you, so don’t think I’m judging, but are you taking the week off? I just notice we’ve had ice cream every day this week…”
  • Be prepared for them to be annoyed that you asked. LOL!
  • It’s okay to ask about their weight loss, but “how do you feel” is a REALLY stupid question. I always answered this with “oh, just terrible” with a smirk on my face. Yes, I’m a smart ass.
  • Unless they are truly skin and bones, do NOT tell them they are getting too skinny or that they need to stop losing weight. I HATE this. I was still “overweight” and had a few people that insisted I was losing too much. I learned to just simply say I was working with my doctors about my ideal weight and had it handled, but thank you for your concern. I mean, really. I get that you are used to seeing your loved one a certain size and drastic weight loss really does seem like they are “too skinny”, but most weight loss people totally understand what weight they should be. That’s why we have doctors. It’s made me really feel like maybe I was doing it wrong and nearly sent me down another disordered place wondering if I just wasn’t seeing myself correctly.
  • Don’t call your friend “skinny bitch” more than a few times. It gets old and becomes hurtful. Just because we lost weight doesn’t mean we don’t love you or judge you and it feels bad to feel judged. Luckily, the friend that was doing this caught herself and stopped. I KNOW you don’t mean it, truly, but think about how that feels.
  • Absolutely, 100% tell us congrats and most don’t mind talking about it, but there are other subjects. After a while, even we get really tired of talking about our weight. Talk about the Paris Hilton. Or the weather. Or the Nicks game. ;)
  • Just be there. Be there to celebrate. Be there to high five. Be there with a hug when needed. Just show up and love us. No matter what.

So, that’s it. I am VERY aware that this is going to be a lifelong struggle. I meet people all the time that had surgery and gained back some (if not all) of their weight. I KNOW that my weight and food issues won’t disappear just because I see a number on the scale. It’s something that I will likely have to be aware of for the rest of my life.

But I’m there. I made it. Take THAT fat genes :)

2 years of weight loss, 223 pounds gone

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Posted by Candy | Posted in Misc | Posted on 21-06-2013

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So, today is kind of a cool day. Two years ago, today, I had weight loss surgery. I won’t bore you with the details, you can read my other blogs here marked “weight loss” for the “skinny”. If you just want to see the photos, scroll down… otherwise, I’ll ramble :)

Overall, I feel great. I actually hate when people ask me that, “How do you feel?” I am a smart ass and it shows because I tell them it’s awful. I mean, really, I’ve lost an obese person. How do you THINK that feels? It’s amazing, awe-inspiring, a little sad to think about, and I feel freaking amazing.

It’s also nice that my friends and family are starting to treat me normal again. My weight isn’t the first and only topic of conversation anymore. It really does get old sometimes. Yes, I’m proud of myself. Yes, I don’t mind talking about it, but can we please talk about something else like the weather? Or my annoying children? Or how your husband is a big goofball? LOL. Luckily, I see my friends often enough that it’s becoming a non-issue again. Whew. It also gets annoying to hear about Great Aunt Edna’s daughter who gained all her weight back. Thanks for that story. *laughing* No, seriously, there’s the good and the bad and the good is definitely outweighing the bad ;)

I’ve yet to see the magical “150″ on the scale, but I’ve been maintaining at 152-155 for the past couple of months and that’s fine. After plastics, I’ll be well within my goal and that’s fine. I’m on the upper end of the BMI scale, but we all know that’s crap and frankly, I’m happy where I am right now. I mean, hello. I’ve lost a LOT of weight. I can’t be unhappy about that. Considering that I started at 375, met my surgeon’s goal of 250 at week 36, met my goal of 175 at 18 months and am now well below that… yeah.

Note: I’m 5’6″ – I’m not tall – why do people insist on telling me I’m getting “too skinny”. My doctors all agree that I’m great. If I lose another 5-10 pounds, they will be just as happy as if I stay this weight now. It’s a bizarre phenomenon in the weight loss community. I think it’s because we lose it relatively quickly and people don’t realize what your normal weight really is. My doctors all seem to agree that if I can stay between 135-160, that’s ideal. Heck, anything under 200 is amazing for where I started. So, mom… stop worrying. The doctor says they won’t worry about me unless I dip below 125 and I’m definitely not trying to lose more at this point :)

So, what I did right – journal what I eat and drink, get enough protein, cut out bad carbs, followed my surgeon’s plan, started regular therapy, not beat myself up when I had ice cream or an occasional treat.

What I would do differently – Hmmmm. I don’t know.  I hate to say this, but I can’t think of anything I would have done differently. I think I’ve done a good job, overall and everything I did was part of my own process.

My advice for those seeking to lose weight and/or have weight loss surgery? Do it. But be ready to change your life. I’ve said this a million times, but I didn’t get fat because I was hungry for food. I had a lot of issues to work through in therapy. Get therapy. Then get more therapy. I honestly believe that counseling is the most missed thing in the bariatric community. It’s sad really how many people don’t deal with their stuff. Be ready to change your eating habits. Don’t just CHANGE them – live them. Commit to them. Get support. My husband and children committed 100% to backing me, to cleaning up our eating as a family and to call me out when I’m screwing up. My friends have been AMAZING. I told them what I was doing and why and asked for their support. I have a few other support groups as well. Seek support, use the support. Keep using it, even when you think you don’t need it, show up. It matters. Relax and stop worrying about when you stall for a while, your body has to adjust. I didn’t lose my weight in one line, it was a long process.

At the end of the day, this is the best thing I could have done for myself. I tried dieting and exercise, but this saved many years of my life. I’ve yet to have anyone give me negative judgements and frankly, if they do, that’s their problem. I did what I did for myself and my family. I went public about it to help others and to be transparent about myself – and that has served me well. Knowing that others are watching me has, in some weird way, kept me on the right path :)

Yes, I had an emergency neck fusion 9 months after my surgery and, yes, I’m looking at a double lumbar fusion late next month. That’s life. It would have likely happened anyway… but recovering will be easier with all this weight gone. Much easier.

Okay, so the before and after photos… I can NOT believe I’m putting up photos of me in a freaking swimsuit, but here ya go. The last photo is GUCCI. A GUCCI shirt. Me! It was a gift from a dear friend <3

2 year Comparison

 

2 year Comparison - Side View

 

2 year Comparison - Face

Visit with the plastic surgeon

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Posted by Candy | Posted in Misc | Posted on 22-05-2013

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This is long about Candy’s visit for a plastic’s consult, kinda boring and WAY too much info. You’re warned. LOL!

How can you dread and look forward to a day at the same time? So, today I headed out for a plastics consultation. After losing 220+ pounds, there’s absolutely no way that I can live with all this skin. It’s bad. It breaks down, I need creams and powders all the time. My back is pinched when I roll over in bed. My butt get pinched when I sit down. My drooping arms rub against my armpit area. Clothing doesn’t fit right.

The worst is my stomach though – the vast majority of my weight was in my stomach and it’s like a big deflated balloon. The second worse is my breasts. They’ve lost so much volume that they get sore from being folded up into a bra. It’s seriously uncomfortable. Living in this body sucks. Not as much as it did 2 years ago, but it comes with it’s own set of problems.

So… I finally got up enough nerve to visit with a plastic surgeon. I was so nervous. The idea of standing naked in front of someone while they tell me all the crap that is wrong with me really just wasn’t all that appealing. When you grow up with someone telling you what’s wrong with you and pointing out your flaws and calling you names, it’s really tough to invite that type of thing.

From two friends, I got a referral to Dr. Mahlon Kerr at Synergy Plastic Surgery. Did I mention I was nervous? LOL! Dr. Kerr was so sweet and so personable. We headed to his office where he laid out what procedures were available and what he typically did for bariatric patients (I hate that word “bariatric”, by the way, but that’s the correct term LOL). I’m sure this was kind of a warm up before he told me to strip naked, but it gave me a chance to take a good breath because I honestly thought I was going to throw up.

Most doctors are amazed by the sheer amount of weight that I’ve lost from my weight loss surgery and that I’m a normal weight now when I started out at “super morbidly obese” (another phrase I hate LOL) and Dr. Kerr was not different. I guess most folks that start out as large as me aren’t as successful. I attribute that to the mental health help I’ve had as well as my own stubbornness to never give up.

Anyway… so off we went to the exam room, told me to leave on my undies and put on a robe. I didn’t puke, but was close (dude, I gave BIRTH with a whole room full of people, but this was unnerving). So he sits down, I’m looking over his shoulder in the mirror and he opens the robe and all of a sudden all was right with the world and I wasn’t as nervous. LOL. So, yeah. The first thing he said is “That’s an impressive amount of skin”. *laughing* Um… thanks? The vast majority of my weight was in my stomach so while my thighs fared pretty well and my arms aren’t horrendous, my stomach… yeah.

So… he basically squished and pulled and showed me kind of what he thought he would like to do… so here’s the run down (oh, and the prices I got from his assistant after – I really really need to find a rich dead relative that left me some cash – ouch!)

Trunk Plasty (I was surprised, but he said my back really isn’t that bad and because my upper abdomen was so large and has so much skin, he wants to do that instead of all the way around so that he can remove a good deal of the upper skin. He figures he will remove about 6-9″ ACROSS. I think that’s crazy, but he’s right. If you pull and stretch it… yup. All told, I’m looking at about 10 pounds of skin and fat from my stomach that would probably be taken away with his little scalpel. Cost? $11k (get out your calculators, my friends LOL). Unfortunately, he probably couldn’t totally clear up the girl parts that have issues because of the skin issues I mention below, so that would be a separate surgery (same with my butt if I decided to have it done). Sigh. Although, with any luck, the stomach work would make it liveable. (Told you I was over-sharing, but I know a lot of folks wanted to hear the down and dirty, so…)

So, they would do the stomach first and it would be over 3 (or 4) operations at least 6 weeks apart. Because my skin is so stretched out and thin, he doesn’t want to do too much at a time… so next up…

Boobs and Thigh lift. I think I could actually go without the thigh lift so I might would see if he could do the breasts and arms and be done with it. The breasts would be a reconstruction and implants. There’s simply nothing left there except for skin. Yay! I would have boobs again. Those together are 1 operation. Cost? $13k (If I ditch the thigh lift, I’d probably be looking at $7-9k or so?)

Next up, cutting off of the arm flappers, the bat wings, the weird chicken skin hanging from my upper arms… or, I guess if you want to use the correct word… Brachioplasty. This is a separate surgery, of course and I guess we could combine other stuff. I dunno. Cost? $6k.

So, yeah. Total will be around $30k to fix this mess of a body. Obviously, I cannot afford to do it all at once (heck, I hope to do it at all at this point). The insurance will only cover part of the stomach (probably about $1k – whoopee!). I knew this going in and I figured it would end up, all told $30-$40k, so I was right in there with it. The costs do vary from person to person, so if you’re reading this trying to figure out how much it would cost YOU, it might not be for you. I’m sure there’s different prices for different grades of issues and depending on how much time it takes him, etc etc.

So… this Summer, I’m likely having a double lumbar fusion in my back unless the pain miraculously goes away. At least I know about it.

The plastics guy wants my weight to be stable for 4-6 months (so far, it’s just been one month).

So… it’s looking like NEXT Summer I can start working on the plastic surgery thing. I really want to be sure Tom is home because recovery is… well… sucky… for plastic surgery.

I did ask him about my weight and what he thought. He said that I’m at the top of my BMI (around 150-155 is where I’ve been staying lately) and that he would probably remove 10 pounds himself, so he doesn’t think I should lose too much more, 5 or 10 pounds, tops. So, yeah. I’m done. I’ve started adding back in calories and working on how my life in maintenance is going to be. I still want to SEE 150 on the scale, but I’d rather float down very slowly and work on figuring out what my daily caloric goals are. I’m 38 and I’ve had 2 kids, I’ll never see 120 on the scale (and frankly that would be too skinny for me I think).

So, I got what I needed from this visit, figured out where I am and what he thinks he can do. I was really surprised that he didn’t want to do the full body lift, but very relieved.

So… now… I gotta find that rich relative or take out one hell of a big loan. Or sell a kidney. Or sell Tom’s kidney. Heh.

… and, yes, if I do ever see 150 on the scale, I’ll be posting a big old party post :) But seriously… I’ve done really well and I’m calling this as “done” at this point.

How I Lost 200 Pounds…

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Posted by Candy | Posted in Misc | Posted on 13-12-2012

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I’m not going to write a whole lot here… still kind of reeling that I made my goal. You can read the whole story of “how” by looking at my posts tagged with weight loss – the one in December 2011 explains the how (weight loss surgery) and the ugly (it ain’t in any way, shape or form easy LOL).

I’m a different person on so many levels. Physically, of course, I mean… I’ve lost TWO HUNDRED FREAKING POUNDS. But I think it also changed me emotionally and psychologically as well. I’m open with my children about my own childhood and the issues I had (to an extent, I think it’s important for them to understand the “why” of so many things in our lives). I won’t go into it here, but obviously no one gets to weigh 375 pounds because they were hungry for food. I had (and have) a lot of healing and work to do. Honestly, mental health, I believe, is THE single biggest missing component in the bariatric community. So many people don’t seek the help they really and truly need. I needed it. I got it. I’m working on me. It sucks sometimes, but I’m doing it.

So anyway… this morning, I woke up at 4:30, just couldn’t go back to sleep so decided to give it up at 5:15 and get up for the day. I got on the scale… and viola… my goal weight stared back at me. It’s wonderful and it’s fabulous and I’ve been on cloud 9 all day, but I also know my work isn’t done. At 5’6″, I’m still overweight – technically and in reality. So, I know I’ll want to go on to lose more. The 175 was a number I threw at the surgeon just to have something. I figured there was no way I’d do it. Ha!

Anyway. I did it. I reached the big bad wolf goal. In the process, I’ve pretty much eliminated a few big bad wolves from my life. It’s been a good 18 months.

A few people have asked why I share this so publicly and why I share my weight numbers. I think part of it is that it’s accountability issue. I have so many friends pulling for me and it keeps me motivated. But, also… I think it’s important for others in the position I started in to know that they aren’t alone. There is absolutely no way I ever thought I’d get to be less than 250. I figured that would be the best I could do. I think it’s important that people understand that those of us with major weight issues aren’t lazy, we aren’t stupid and we definitely aren’t clueless. It truly is an addiction and one that a lot of us need help to overcome. I needed not only surgical but also mental health help to overcome mine. But you know what? Much like an alcoholic, I think I’ll always be in recovery of some sort. Unlike an alcoholic, though, I can’t just throw out the drug of my choice and never look at it again.

Okay, getting too deep, today, though… I celebrate life and the extra years I’ve added to my own to enjoy.

And yes… a photo update:
December 2012 Comparison - 200 lost

Heard From The Morning Routine: Bones and Christmas

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Posted by Candy | Posted in Heard From The BackSeat | Posted on 12-12-2012

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Tom and I are smart asses. It’s really no surprise we’re raising two smart asses, eh?

I have a morning routine. I get up, get dressed and go into Jamie’s room to put my socks on (his room is always snuggly warm and I can coax him to actually get up). Cassie sometimes comes in and gives me a hug and we talk about the day, etc.

So, this morning, I’m sitting on Jamie’s bed, putting on my socks and in walks Cassie. She lays down across my lap (cuz I have a lap now) and snuggles up against my neck and hugs me. She was being all sweet until she sits up, looks at me, and says, “Mom, you’re not as comfortable to snuggle because your bones stick me”. I asked where and she said “on your neck.” LOL. Stinker. I pointed out they are called collar bones and she had them too.

A few minutes later, Jamie, decides that we should open Christmas presents early this year… because the world is ending on 12/21 anyway. Too bad I told him I already had a plan for that situation. We’re just going to return all the gifts and go to Vegas on the 20th. We’ll leave them home alone. Cops will be too busy with all that Mayan stuff anyway.

Photos: Cassie getting her award for participating in the robotics competition and Jamie after his very first holiday band concert. The kids, they are growing up.

Major (!) weight loss update and a sleep update

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Posted by Candy | Posted in Misc | Posted on 22-08-2012

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First, a really quick update on Cassie’s sleep… she slept ALL night last night. My friend gave me samples of some essential oils. I honestly have never seen another human being look SO tired in my entire life. Whether it was just down right completely exhaustion or the oils, I don’t know, but she says the oils helped so I’m going to buy a truckload of them if it continues to help. It felt SO good to check on her at 10:30 and see her sleeping like the little angel (coughcough) that she is.

I did it! The scale finally has a number 1 in front of it. This means that since my VSG surgery journey and having surgery 14 months and 1 day ago, I’ve lost over 175 pounds (Disclaimer: 20 of those were lost on the crazy pre-op diet you have to do, but I count it ALL darn it!). That’s just amazing to me. Even still! I STILL was getting on the scale amazed that it started with a number 2, a number 1 is just beyond my ability to comprehend. Getting under 200 has been one of those “yeah right” goals of mine. When I started this process at 375, my surgeon gave me the goal of 250. I will admit that somewhere deep down I never thought I’d actually hit that number. He asked me for my own personal goal and I threw out 175. That would mean a loss of 200 pounds and I liked the sound of that number. It almost feels like I can reach that number though. My next mini goal is 186.5. That will mean I’ve lost half my body weight and will also put me into the “overweight” category. According to the BMI charts (which I think are antiquated) my upper normal range is 155. I’m not making ANY goal decisions until I hit 175 though because I want to see what that looks and feels like.

So, that’s where I am. No tears today, I thought for sure I’d totally break down, but I’ve just been happy and smiling because I worked hard for this. Like I’ve said on this blog before, don’t EVER think this is the “easy way out” for anyone that has weight loss surgery. I’ve been lucky, no one has ever said that to me, but I am here to tell you that there is NOTHING easy about this. It really is just a tool to help you along. I did all the work. I took the time to really learn about food and nutrition. I worked my butt off at the gym. I choose to say no to sugar and carbs unless I’ve planned for them in my day. I went through all the mental issues that this whole thing brings about. *I* did that. Like I said, no one has said a single negative thing to me, but if you ever see someone that has done this, know that they are working harder than they have ever worked in their lives. Congratulate them, their achievement is no less important than someone that did it without surgery. Trust me. Obesity is a lifelong disease, I can still gain weight back. The real fight comes after I reach goal. Keeping it off. Part of me thinks that’s why I went more public with my surgery. It makes me be accountable.

I also shared a photo 75 pounds ago of me behind the steering wheel of the van. My stomach used to still graze it when it was all the way back. Today, I sit in the same space as my husband and there’s a LOT of room when I move the seat all the way back. Cassie can slide across my lap when we sit in restaurant booths (which I always avoided because I didn’t fit at all before). So, I’ll share another steering wheel photo because driving is the one thing that really does remind me of all the work I’ve put in. It’s kind of amazing even now (and look how freaking skinny my legs look! LOL!)

I am also taking time out to attend a conference that is NOT business related (stop gasping). I’m attending the Obesity Action Coalition’s (OAC) conference in late October in Dallas. There looks like there will be some really good speakers, and it really is a chance for me to celebrate myself. I do so few things that really are just for me that I’m excited to do this with a couple of friends.

One year later – weight loss surgery update

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Posted by Candy | Posted in Misc | Posted on 21-06-2012

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If you would have told me a year ago that I’d be sitting here (cross-legged) blogging about losing over 150 pounds, I’d have laughed. One year ago, today, I had the gastric sleeve.  I won’t bore you with the surgery details. You can read about it HERE, but my life is so different. I started this crazy journey in March of 2011 when I had had enough. I weighed 375 pounds. I was tired. I was tired just from every day living. I couldn’t walk long distances. I couldn’t play with my kids the way I wanted to. Oh, I thought I could. Denial is a super morbidly obese person’s best friend. I know denial well. I was sick of living in denial and decided, with the support of the most amazing man on the planet, to take the step that scared me most. Surgery. I had tried everything (that cabbage soup diet SUCKS, by the way – let’s not talk about the watermelon and rice, k?). On June 21, 2011, I had surgery and I changed my life forever. For the better.

Today, I weigh in at 216 pounds. That’s 159 pounds, an entire person, gone from my body. Today, I’m “moderately obese”. Yes, I’ve still got a lot of work to do for sure. I’m not done yet. My starting BMI as 60.5 and is now 34.9 (just barely slipped into that moderately category, but it’s mine, dammit!). I’ve lost a person. I’ve gained a life.

I can cross my legs when I sit down. I don’t worry about restaurant booths. I can bend down without thinking about it. I can kick a little butt on the elliptical. I enjoy walking. I enjoy playing with my kids. I still enjoy food, but it doesn’t rule my life. I enjoy my time with my therapist (as much as I hate it sometimes too). I can buy clothes from regular stores. I STILL get on the scale sometimes JUST to see that number 2 at the beginning of the number.

I still feel like a faker though. I have this fleeting fear that the weight will come back. That I will wake up and this will have been a dream and I’ll be  375 pounds and miserable. I fear of going back to that dark place of feeling like I’ll never be normal. I spent 30 years being overweight/obese. Do I just get one little year of somewhat normalcy? I feel bad for people I see walking around like I was. I fear I’ll be like that again. I worry I’ll magically be able to eat an entire pie one day again.

I’m not sure that I’ll ever completely get past that fear. Nor the guilt. The guilt of being the fat mom. The guilt of watching others struggle through while I’m whizzing through the pounds and losing steadily. It’s almost like a survivor’s guilt of sorts. It’s really hard to explain. THIS is why I am very vocal about others seeking weight loss (surgery or not) to find a therapist. Most of us didn’t gain weight just because we like food a whole lot. There’s a lot of emotions that come into play when you get into that SMO (super morbidly obese) category.

So, here I am. 1 year later. To the day. I feel like I’ve come so far. Yet I look and realize how far I have yet to go. This is where the real work starts. This is where I have to show my body who is boss and that I will WIN this war. I didn’t pay someone to  remove most of my stomach to go back now. I can do this. I’ve lost 159 freaking pounds. I want to lose 41 more and then look to see where I am and where I want to go. There will be, of course, plastic surgery in my future. I have major skin issues. My arms flap, my thighs flap, my stomach flaps. Everything sags. But it’s mostly empty. It’s no longer full of fat. Oh, there’s still plenty there, but one day it will be totally empty and I’ll be left looking like a melted person. Then, I’ll talk to a surgeon about what I need to do to fix the damage I did over the past 30 years. And at the end of the day, I have only myself to blame for it. No one made me get that overweight. I did that all myself. I take ownership of that as much as I’m taking ownership of fixing the problem now. I could spend time looking back to how I got there, and I have. I’ve spent a lot of time. But I also have to look forward. Look forward to my kids having a normal sized mom. To leading a normal life. To living it to the fullest. That’s why I did this. I wanted to feel normal. I wanted to feel good about myself.

And I do. I do things now that I never thought I would. I walk 5ks. I chase my kids. I buy clothes from the rack simply because I can. I go to the gym. I work out hard. I enjoy my life and make sure that I’m grateful for everything I’ve accomplished and everything I will accomplish.

I post photos and people see me and they all comment on that part. It’s the part that they cannot see that really matters though. There’s still a little bit of heartache, a little regret for the years I wasted. But mostly, it’s the positive. It’s how I feel about myself. It’s about that feeling of finally being who I really, truly, feel like I’m meant to be. It’s that part that people DON’T see that is the real change. Yeah I “look great”, but my psyche is what has really changed. I think that anyone that says you don’t change internally with such a drastic external difference is lying. I know I’ve changed. I like to believe for the better. So, I’ll share photos below, but know that the part you can’t see is the real change here. I love myself. Obesity won the battle, but the war is mine to win.

To my friends and family that have stood by me, shared food in a restaurant so I didn’t have to take home MORE leftovers, hugged me when I cried, laughed with me when I did something silly, gave me an atta-girl when I needed it, reminded me why I did this when I was full of remorse, dragged me to the gym when I didn’t want to go, told me to stop wearing clothes two sizes too big, took me shopping and helped me figured out what to buy, called me when they sensed I needed a reality check, and loved me no matter what… thank you. They are the real heroes here. I couldn’t have done this without them. They all know who they are. I can never repay them for the kindness and support. They are my success.

 

Candy Update – 150 pounds in 11.3 months

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Posted by Candy | Posted in Misc | Posted on 31-05-2012

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Wow, what a crazy year I’ve had. I’m officially down 150 pounds from where I started this journey. I said I wanted to be at 225 when we left for Disney and the scale rewarded me this morning. I honestly cannot remember the last time I was this weight, probably high school. I still want to lose another 50 pounds and then see where we go from there, if I want to lose more or look at plastic surgery or what my next step will be. The neck fusion surgery kind of slowed things down more, but I’m okay with that. The doctor expects me to lose 2-4 pounds per month at this point. In month 11, I lost 6. I’ll take that. I don’t freak out like I did before when things stall out. I seem to lose in a stair step pattern. I’ll lose 2-5 pounds in 2-4 days and then stop for 10 days or so. I just ride it out knowing that I’m doing what I’m supposed to. Honestly, it’s kind of nice because people don’t notice as often and I don’t get the “Oh My God!” reactions. Those are nice, really nice, but I also like just kind of blending in too. *laughing*

I can’t help but think back to where I started all of this and be in awe of what I’ve accomplished. The surgery can’t fix your head so while I’ll give it 100 pounds, the last 50 have been mostly me and changing my thoughts and feelings around food and its purpose in my life. Yes, it’s helped me not really ever have hunger and keep my portions small, but I can totally eat a whole lot of calories if I really set my mind to it. Trust me, I’ve done it. And learned from it.

I’ve said it before, but the world is a different place when you’re not worried about if you’ll fit into the restaurant booth (or getting there early to make sure you’re the first one so you can request a table). Or hoping that the one store you can shop in will have black pants. Or having to ask people to move so you can slide by them at a table. Or 900 other things that the rest of the world doesn’t even think twice about.

So, we keep on going… I’m doing a great job. Not as fast as others, not as slow as some, but the good fight keeps being fought. And that’s really what it is. A fight against obesity and for the life I want and deserve.

The scale made me cry

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Posted by Candy | Posted in Misc | Posted on 26-02-2012

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Almost exactly a year ago, I stepped on the scale and cried. I realized that it was time to stop doing lip service to healing from this disease of obesity that had taken over my life and to actually to do something about it. I was frustrated with the constant circle of failure, upset with myself for being unable to control my weight and completely bewildered by what I knew I had to do to get myself healthy. I cried.

This morning I got on the scale and cried again. But for a completely different reason. Today, I am (quite literally) 2/3 the woman I was then. In the 8 months since I acted on that extremely difficult decision to have weight loss surgery (see my post in early December), I’ve lost 125 pounds (yes, you can do math, yes, I did just share “that number”). Let me say that again. I have lost 125 pounds. 125 pounds. I’ve lost another adult. I’ve lost 25 freaking bags of flour. It’s been very hard (again, I say anyone that thinks this is easy is obviously an idiot or insane LOL)

In a few more pounds I will no longer be considered “morbidly obese” and will simply be “obese”. Dropping that “morbid” word is significant to my brain for some reason. I cannot remember the last time my BMI was under 40. I realize I still have a lot way to go to get out of that obese category, but I started this insanity at “super morbidly obese”. I cannot believe I got that big and I cannot believe at how my life has changed. Since my 100 pound update, I’ve noticed more changes… in how I move, how I sit, how I carry myself, how I feel. I no longer worry about fitting anywhere. I feel somewhat like a normal person. I can buy clothes at ALMOST any department store (plus size still, but hey, I’m not limited to just a few stores). I can longer buy “Just My Size” underwear.

Okay, the underwear thing deserves it’s own paragraph here. You guys can laugh all you want. Go ahead, I’ll wait… done? Yeah, so I’ve been wearing JMS undies for FOREVER. I like the way the white granny panties briefs fit. Hey, I’m a pretty simple girl here. Well, I’m now below their largest size. I’ve bought at least 20 different brands/styles and I can NOT find one that doesn’t make me crazy or ride up in places it has absolutely no right being. I am majorly struggling with this and I’m wearing baggy drawers! (Yes, I know Hanes should be the same, but they aren’t. ARGH!) Okay… laugh again. Go ahead. Sigh.

Seriously though… this has changed my life. It’s changed my marriage (it’s true what they say that a bad relationship just gets worse and a good one just gets better, and mine has never been better). It’s changed my family, my friends, the way I look at the world, the way I look at other obese people, the way I look at skinny people, the way I feel about myself and everyone around me.

So… I’m feeling brave from being high on the adrenaline rush this has brought. Be kind, I’m still pretty sensitive about sharing this…. but this is my heaviest photo from May 2011 and my photo tonight (tired from a crazy night, but it’s all me LOL). This is what 2/3 of a woman looks like. This is what a 125 pound loss looks like.

My hair may be thinner, but so is the rest of me. My hair is growing back in, but my waist is just getting skinnier by the minute. I am wearing size 34 pants and a 5X shirt in that first photo (yes, really). The the 2nd is 24 jeans and a 2X sweater. Yesterday, I wore a size 22 slacks. Life is good.

How I lost 100 pounds…

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Posted by Candy | Posted in Misc | Posted on 02-12-2011

Tags: ,

So, this is a hard post to write (and one I’m not sure anyone will actually read all of – it’s really ridiculously long and mainly for me). This is one of those things that when people ask “what would you do if you were brave” you write this down. I have no idea why it’s hard, but it is. I think it’s because I’m afraid of people thinking this was easy. It’s not. The decision to do what I did was hard and took many years. The decision to be open with it… well, it’s hard too. I’ve actually been working on this post for a few weeks and told myself when the scale registered 100 total lost, I’d publish it… so here goes…

==============

So, this is a long and rambling post… get some coffee…

Short answer: I bust my ass with exercise, I eat a lot less, I work on my mental issues surrounding food and I had weight loss surgery in June.

Now, for those that want to the real (and quite long) story…

I said when I started this whole journey that I wasn’t going to share. It was a personal thing and no one’s business. People are just so judgmental that the idea of letting people into my weight issues was hard.

See, here’s the problem. When you are overweight and share your struggles with others, you hear things like “oh, just eat less and exercise more, it worked for me!” I kind of want to use my well-oiled sarcasm and say “OH EM GEE, I never thought of that and no one ever told me. Thank you SO much for that insight.” Of course, those are the folks that would probably take it all serious and give me their diet plan of rabbit food and 4-hour-per-day workouts.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that knows me that I’m fat (no, really! I know it’s hard to tell sometimes!). I’ve been overweight/obese since before Kindergarten. My counselor can tell you it has to do with my childhood (hey, mom, I’m blaming you! *laughing*) or impulse control or just plain genetics. I believe it has to do with all three myself, but the bottom line is that I’ve struggled for over 30 years with this issue.

It should also come as no surprise that while my weight issues have prevented me from doing some things, I’ve also never felt that overly self-consciousness. I’ve always kind of felt like this is who I am and you can love me or you can go away, but I’ve always believed that I’m a good person and, honestly, I do blame mom for that one. That woman instilled in all of us a “can do” and “love yourself” attitude. If I’m being honest, she’s probably the reason I’m successful in business and in my personal life today.

So, I’ve lost 100 pounds since June. Exactly. As of today. 100 pounds. I’ve done it mostly quietly, but once you hit a certain point, people start noticing and asking questions. Or they notice, but are too scared to ask (what if they’re wrong). It’s actually been kind of amusing for me to watch them. Especially since I finally bought new clothes, they’ll stop and look at me and want to say something but you can actually SEE them decide to not say anything. *laughing*

… and if they do ask and I say “yes, I have lost a good bit of weight”, they’ll invariably ask how. And this is where the hard part comes. You see, I’m one of those people that believes in authenticity. Sometimes to my own detriment. I figure that you can like me or not. It’s up to you, but this is who I am. I also have been known to over-share at times. One of my friends once said that I “live out loud” and I think that’s probably accurate.

As I said, I wasn’t going to be open and honest at first, but I found that as people asked that question, it was hard to not answer it completely honestly. I mean, us overweight folks have tried and tried and tried. Do I lie and say “oh, it was totally Richard Simmons” and then they feel inadequate for not being able to do it themselves or… do I be honest and say “I had weight loss surgery” and risk them informing me that I took the easy way out? Do I then feel compelled to defend my choice?

Perhaps I over-think this stuff?

So, what I have been doing is telling the ultimate truth. On June 21, 2011, I had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG). Since then, I’ve been making sure to eat the right things and exercise and change my thoughts about food and what it means to me. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done and if anyone tells you it’s the easy way out, they are frankly full of shit. The real story is a little more complicated than that of course, but that’s the bottom line.

The longer story is that about 8 years ago, shortly after Cassie was born, I started looking at gastric bypass, but I really hated the idea of them rearranging my intestines. I looked at the band, but there’s so many chances for complications, I never really considered that one. I’d seen people struggle with the dumping issues and everything that comes with these surgeries and I’d spent half of my life on a diet. I had pretty much decided that I had to do something else, but bypass wasn’t it. I went back on a diet (or 20). A few years ago, I decided to look into it again and came across a newer procedure called the Gastric Sleeve. It was “new” as a stand alone procedure, but had been part of another one for a long time. There was also a lot of research about gastrectomies in general. People have had parts of their stomachs removed for various reasons throughout history (cancer, etc). Oh wait. Yes, I did just say REMOVED. I have had about 75-85% of my stomach taken out. Just removed. Gone. That was it. No rerouting, no implants.

Nightline did a great story on this particular weight loss surgery, you can see it on Hulu. I identify with Holly’s story and I’m taking my kids to Disney in June, darn it! (Warning, it shows surgery but it’s a very cool piece.)

Anyway, in classic Candy fashion, I researched it to death. Everything I read pointed to Dr. Ganta. He seemed to be THE guy in Austin for the sleeve and bariatric surgeries in general. So, off I went to one of his seminars. VERY nice guy, soft spoken, but he knew his stuff. I knew he was the right surgeon. Ah! But the insurance wouldn’t cover it. I didn’t have the cash so I decided I would keep trying it on my own, make some changes and come back when I had the funds.

So, off I went to find a personal trainer and get into some sort of shape (apparently round is not the right shape – I KNOW, right!). I found Chrissy over at Libra Fitness, who has been fabulous! I started having lower back issues more often, so I found Diane Shigley over at Advanced Chiropractic, she keeps me pain free.

Earlier this year, we got new insurance and I was hoping it would be covered, but knew that the time was right. I had so many people on “Team Candy” (and yes, I do actually consider them all part of my team – they are always supportive and there for me) that I knew it was now or never. The insurance didn’t cover it, but after a short talk with Tom, we decided to just use credit and get it done. I’ll be paying it off for a few years, but I’d rather be paying it off and losing weight than sitting there doing nothing. It was time.

In March, I met with Dr. Ganta for a consult, went to my primary doctor (who was not supportive, so I ditched her after the surgery – shout out to new fabulous Dr. Alicia Grossman), got all the tests done that they required. I decided that the one piece I was missing out was the mental aspects. I mean, I’m paying some guy to cut me open and take out a large portion of a vital organ. That’s gotta screw with your head. So, I found Lynn Zipoy who quickly has become one of my favorite people.

… and on June 7th, I started the preop diet (which sucked). Surgery was June 21. It was HARD. The recovery wasn’t too bad. It was all done laparoscopically, but I had some pretty nasty abdominal muscle pain from where they cut through.

So, I’ve lost 100 pounds. I have 100 more to go where I’ll be at my “well, what does that look like” weight. According to the charts, I should lose about 35 more after that to be within “normal” ranges, but I’m going to see where that total of 200 lost looks like. Yes. I needed to lose 235 pounds. It seems incredible to me that I was carrying around 100 pounds on my body just six months ago. OR that I’m still carrying around an extra 100+.

I also have this little voice in the back of my head (that bitch needs to shut up) that keeps wondering if I’ll keep it off “this time”. I can. I have a great team. I mention all these people above that were kind of part of this whole thing, but please know that I didn’t forget about the biggest team members. That’s my wonderful loving husband, Tom, and our two kids. All have been nothing but fabulous from listening to me talk through the decision to do it, to holding my hand while I cried wondering why I did it, to sharing all the victories through this first half of the journey, to sharing a plate of fajitas with me when we go out so I don’t have to deal with leftovers. I also have a group of about 15 friends (yes, I’m very lucky, we’re all very close) that know and have been NOTHING but fabulous and supportive.

This second half will be harder than the first, but I’m ready. I’m sure I will still be trying to get the last pounds off in a year, heck probably even in two years. But it’s about the journey, not the destination. I’m 36 years old, I’m not 18. I’m never going to have the body of an 18 year old.

So, if you have a question, ask in the comments – or even email me (I have resources and another blog that I’ve posted on as I went along this crazy ride) – and I’ll answer, but these are the usual questions I get asked:

1. You were always kind of a foodie, do you miss eating food? — nope, I still enjoy frou-frou food sometimes. I just eat less of it. In fact, I can eat anything I want, including dessert. I try not to right now while I’m losing so I only indulge sporadically. I also am avoiding white carbs for the same reason.

2. My aunt’s cousin from my dog’s side of the family had bypass and cannot eat anything but baby food now, aren’t you worried about that? — Not really, I can eat 2-6 oz of food at a time now. 2 oz of dense meat (like steak or chicken), a little more if it’s fish or veggies. Also, I have less food restrictions and issue as those that have had bypass or the band. There’s no food that’s truly “off limits”, but I do make smarter choices now.

3. Wow, 4 oz on average? Aren’t you hungry? — That’s kind of cool the part! When they removed my stomach, they removed most of the stretchy part of the stomach, leaving a sleeve. Ghrelin, which is the hunger hormone is stored in that stretchy part… so I really don’t get that gnawing hunger I used to have. I do get kind of a nagging “you need to eat” feeling now and then, but there are times when I honestly forget to eat at all. Sounds good, but it’s not because I have certain protein requirements that I have to meet. It’s a challenge sometimes!

4. What about going bald? I’ve heard you lose your hair when you have surgery. — That’s one of the down sides. I will not go bald, but my hair has thinned a lot. It’s a big part of the reason that I had it cut shorter. It’s not really noticable, but yes, my hair is falling out a good clip. It should stop soon.

5. Wow, so you’ll be at your goal in another five months? — not exactly, I lost a LOT in the beginning and (as is normal), it’s slowed down to 2-3 pounds per week on average. I lose about 10 pounds per month. So, that’s perfectly normal and will slow down even more as time goes by. This surgery is NOT a cure. It’s a tool that I have to use and use properly in order to lose the weight. It takes time. I have time. It took me 36 years to get so overweight, I’m okay with it taking a few years for me to lose it.

6. So, what about loose skin? That aunt’s cousin’s said she had a lot of nasty gross skin. — yeah, this is true and yes, it’s not exactly attractive. BUT here’s my theory on it. I can walk around severely obese and unhealthy or I can walk around with loose flapping skin and be healthy and more fit. Kind of a no brainer, right? And yes, I will likely look at plastic surgery to help because it’s going to be a very big problem for me when I reach goal. It is kind of fun to flap my arms at my husband though. Tom has been amazing and we’ve had nothing but fun with the whole thing (and he’s been there for the bad times too!)

7. You don’t dump or whatever it’s called? — Nope, but I have had two times now when I’ve eaten too fast or too much (you know, that mindless eating we all do from time to time – lesson learned!) and it gets stuck or it something happens and I spend an hour or two in severe pain. It stinks, but it’s temporary and a reminder that I have to pay attention. It’s also one of the few times I can remember regretting the surgery – I’m fine afterwards, but in that moment, it’s pretty bad. Note: This differs from person to person, some people never have any problems, others have to be even more careful than I am.

8. How do I get information about the surgery? I might be interested. — If you’re in Austin, contact me and I’ll tell you about the support groups and my doctor. Otherwise, follow the couple of links I posted above. There’s also great information (and some not so great) at http://www.obesityhelp.com - I will tell you that while it really is the best decision I’ve made, it was one that *I* had to be ready for. This would not have worked for me two years ago. It had to be the right time. It’s a huge commitment on your part and not something to just decide to do one day. It doesn’t work like that.

And the cool parts of this whole thing:

1. Not worrying about if I’ll fit in a restaurant booth or chairs with arms

2. Not feeling like my life revolves around food

3. My daughter sitting ON my lap (cuz I have one now!)

4. Not buying the biggest size in the plus size clothing store

5. Jeans. Real Jeans. Just sayin’

6. Finding out how much I enjoy walking and exercising now that I can move

7. Having so much more energy to play with the kids and do the things I want/need to do

8. Being able to wear my grandmother’s wedding rings (they are too loose now for my ring finger, actually)

9. Not needing a seat belt extender for airplane trips

10. Noticing I have a collarbone!

11. Within one week, I was off ALL of my high blood pressure medications. Serious.

12. Walking 5Ks and riding a bike (I had not ridden a bike in over TWENTY years)

13. And so so so much more…

So, there you have it. I’m glad to have finally “come out of the surgery closet”. I’m lucky to have so many friends, family and various associations that I KNOW will be supportive. I kind of think that writing this post was actually harder than deciding to get the surgery in the first place. I’m proud of myself and what I’ve accomplished – deciding to change your life is really tough but I did it and I feel amazing (I’m doing 5ks here people!) – Just as an aside too, my life doesn’t revolve around my weight or surgery so please, when we see each other, let’s talk about other stuff too — AND if we are ever out and you’re not that hungry, know I’m your girl to split some fajitas ;)

I am too chicken to share before and after photos yet (I still do have quite a ways to go, I know… this is my hang up still), BUT I will take that first step and share this one. This is my lap in the car. I used to need a seat belt extension. My stomach also used to also barely graze the steering wheel. The steering wheel has been THE coolest measurement for how far I’ve come because it’s something I can see and measure and notice every day. If you’re on Facebook, you can see photos from 6 months to a year ago. HUGE difference – also my video blog (I’ll do a new one next week, the last one on there is from 2-3 months ago).