Monday, November 21, 2011

Six Years, Six Posts: Post 6 - Year End Plans

As long as I have goals in mind, I'll strive to meet them. I created my wellness goals this year to ensure my focus. I set goals I could achieve with some work and stretch goals that would require more effort. You can see all the scoop on these posts:

3rd Quarter Results
2nd Quarter Results
1st Quarter Results
2011 Wellness Goals

I realized earlier this year that I h.a.t.e.d running in the Texas heat. It was huge for me to admit it and revise my goals, but  running was a beating and I just didn't enjoy it. Problem is that in my 3rd quarter results I talked about how my revised mileage goal may be a stretch. Honestly, it has been bugging me ever since! So recently I decided to go for it, kick it into gear, and end the year strong.

The holidays are tough though. Surrounded by food, family stress, my own personal family baggage, holiday stress, etc. it can make keeping an exercise routine and mainly healthy choices rough for pretty much everyone. My husband is also going to be out of the country for a military detachment for over 4 weeks that includes Christmas/Eve and NYE/NY which leaves me more vulnerable than normal. So, I needed a plan and some focus that would help me with preventing excuses. Enter:
That's right a double race! It will be the first time for this race and seemed like a good way to end the year and start the next. So, what's a double? These were the options:
Essentially you can pick anything from a 5K on NYE and a 5K on NY to TWO marathons. I originally thought I'd do a half relay on each day. I ended up registering for:
That's right a HALF on NYE and a 5K on NY. Since my base is definitely not what it was, I will not focus at all on time for the half (hear that Fluffy?). My focus is "fun & finish". I went back and forth on whether or not to do the half, but if I did a relay, I knew that I could just go run the 6.5 miles which wouldn't help me with preventing holiday excuses. And, while the bling always attracts me to the race originally, this one is no exception. Check this out:
You get a half medal for each race (reflects the race you ran), but upon completing the 2nd, you also get the magnetic back plate. And look at the size! (That's right, everything is bigger in TX!). What's your plan for making it through the holiday season on track with your personal goals?

Man, writing 6 posts in 6 days seemed like such a good idea at first! Then I realized, heck I'm lucky if I post 6 times in a month!!! Thank you to each and every one of you that have read through these posts and for all the very kind comments. I truly appreciate it.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Six Years, Six Posts: Post 5 - Uhhhhh...

Man, I made it all the way to post 5, but I can't really think of anything *aaaaarrrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhh*. So, I bring to you bullets of random nuggets, which unfortunately seem to me to be a bit repetitive to the other posts in the series (oops!)...
  • The band is only a tool. I can remember when I was just starting out that one of the things I read on one of the boards somewhere was "unfortunately it doesn't band your head". This is so true. So for those of us that struggle with disordered eating, the band may not help you in that regard. If you want to, you can "eat around the band". For me, I took the cliche route to addressing this challenge - shrink, books, and a helluva lot of practice that still continues to this day, but that path worked for me.

  • Healthy choices and exercise will lead to loss. The scale may not reflect hard work/healthy choices immediately, but it eventually will. It's science, there is just no way eating well and exercising will not lead to loss. Unfortunately, our bodies can kinda suck at times and seem to fight back. If this happens, while it's frustrating, hang in there. Perseverance is your friend. There were plenty of times that I was questioning the process and wondering if it was going to work for me, but I just pushed my way through and hung in there. I should also mention that there was also a time that it turned out that I wasn't eating enough! Go figure, my body actually needed more food (healthy stuff) and weight loss started again.

  • Exercise is key in my book. Without exercising, I believe that maintenance would be a cycle of gaining/losing/gaining/losing and for me, this cycle was one of the main things I was trying to leave behind! I'm sure there are people that get to goal without exercising, but for me I want to be thin and fit. Read this post skinny fat for more.  

  • Eat your meals, don't drink them. I think I should and like to be able to eat most foods. If you look back through my blog you will see that there were times that I wasn't doing this, but in hindsight I was too tight.When I eat non soft food, I get full and stay full for a pretty decent amount of time even now. Soft food (sliders) / liquids don't do that for me. Also, I generally eat at least some of my protein first, but I love me some veggies! The million dollar question is what is the right restriction? Check out this post that contains an article that I think does an excellent job of covering restriction.

  • Practice has led to improvement on not eating for the sake of eating. I've beaten the emotional part to death, this is really about is the food good? I have really grown in this area. If food isn't good, I don't eat it and while it can be wastefule, I've gotten over that. Food snob? Foodie? Whatever label that goes with this, this was a definite growth item for me.

  • One bad day does not wreck the journey. It's one day, seriously get over it and don't beat yourself up. What purpose does that really serve other than making yourself feel bad and at times leading to thoughts of giving up? And no, I'm not saying to deny what happened or not analyze why it happened. I think that's important. It's the mean negative self talk that which I think can actually lead to another bad day. For those old enough to have VCRs, it's kinda like that slogan, be kind rewind. Be kind to yourself and yes rewind, review, and try to learn from it. Then move on. 

  • As a bandster, I think everyone starts out with this hope and excitement to get going on this journey and motivation is 110%. Many people lose initially (some the entire time - lucky!) without a lot of effort. Then there are others that have to work hard to get every stinking pound off---I fell into this category, but now I think it was good. It allowed me to slowly work on myself and the things I needed to address to ensure my personal success. Regardless of whether the journey is "easy" or "hard", changes have to be made. You can't (and shouldn't) eat the amount you used to, are encouraged to change your eating habits, and encouraged to exercise.
If you are at a point that your are hitting a rough patch in your journey (been there on multiple times myself!), then I encourage you to not look at how far you have to go, but how far you have come. Consider making a list of all the positive changes that have occurred. I think you'll be amazed at how many you come up with. Consider posting that list on your bathroom mirror. Read it every morning and add to it as it grows. Avoid falling into the trap of: "but", "shoulda", "coulda", etc. What you list are accomplishments and you should be dang proud!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Six Years, Six Posts: Post 4 - Band Secrets Revealed!

Dear Bandster,

Please find below the secrets to band success...

Oh fine, these are just the things I'd recommend considering for a successful journey, but I thought you might read it with the "secrets to success". Ultimately your journey is your journey. You need to figure out what works for you and go with it. As much as I wish there was a magic band fairy, I've spent 6 years looking and darn it, there just isn't one!!

Portion size = bandster portions. Bottom line for me eating the right band size portions was and still remains a "must do". I had a dilated pouch at one point and I also self-diagnosed myself with portion distortion (ya, I coined the term too, but it has a ring to it). While I think I'm better at visualizing portions than I used to be,  I do tend to measure while I'm at home. (I have these serving spoons that my best friend got from WW and they are 1/2 cup, 1 cup, etc., so while I'm measuring it isn't get the measuring cups out, etc.) While there is hardly any fluid in my band, the band is still there and I believe that my pouch can be stretched by eating too much or too quickly. So, if I don't get full before finishing, I just eat what I'm supposed to and I'm done. If/when I get hungry again. I just eat again.

Eat healthier. While the band doesn't have any mal absorption concerns, I owe it to myself to eat a well balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables. I find that a balanced diet makes me have more energy and reduces my cravings as an added bonus!

Exercise. I'm sure there's someone with a band somewhere that didn't and doesn't exercise and made it to goal, but I've exercised throughout my entire journey. My exercise has evolved and continues to evolve with my fitness improving. I encourage everyone to make exercise part of the journey if you haven't already. It's good for you!

Find an exercise you enjoy and works with your schedule and commitments. It's important because consistency is key . If you hate your exercise you aren't going to do it long term. But also remember, when you start something new, it will likely be hard. Don't think hard = hate. Give a new exercise a chance, you might find that you love it.

Stop the diet mentality / step away from the scale. I think regardless of what you eat, do, etc., you are "on a diet". It's just what makes up your diet. For me what this meant was to stop looking at food based on calories and can I or should I eat this. This was part of my personal retraining and changing my relationship with food. I look at the quality of the food and do I want it. Because if I really want to eat crap, and it's not for emotional reasons, then I do. Ironically, giving myself permission was empowering. Food lost its power and more often than not I gravitate toward healthy food.

The number on the scale is only one measurement, yet it's one that seems to consume most of us and I think it is a key measurement while losing (me = guilty). Personally, I recommend once a week, but there are many successful bandsters that weigh every day. It's whatever works for you. I would strongly encourage body measurements as well though. It is something that I wish I would have done and likely would have helped me through the tough times with the scale---when the *(#&$#* wasn't moving, which I'm sure plenty of people can relate to!

Figure out what makes you feel good. What makes me feel good isn't going to necessarily make someone else feel good, but what I figured out is that I need to exercise during the week and first thing in the morning. It helps me manage a stressful job and just makes me feel good! And honestly, I eat better without even thinking about it on the days I have exercised. Go figure!
Continue to assess and re-assess. I check in with myself periodically. It may sound stupid, but I find that if I don't consciously check in (self talk) that I just keep going on auto pilot and then I project something is wrong some other way. For example, I realized at one point I was returning home from morning camp grumpy. Unfortunately, I was taking it out on my husband now and then (boo me). I sat myself down and had a talk with myself (funny picture, huh?). I realized that my trainer's style was no longer meeting my needs. So I switched to another camp.

Blogging. The intent of my blog was to document my journey as I was asked to "journal" by my shrink, but I had also hoped that it might be helpful to others from a long-term historical perspective as I had wanted to find such people in the beginning and couldn't. This many years later my blog may not be specifically "all about the band", but I'd be a freak if at this point day in and day out it was about it, right?! I've also found it helpful at times to be able to go back and look at past posts. Plus there's nothing like some perspective or opinion from another bandster and opportunity to connect and make friends. I highly recommend blogging about your journey....and please don't blog and then disappear leaving everyone wondering!

In summary, it's a personal journey. Just like the decision to get a band, it's very personal and you have to figure out what works for you. Try not to compare yourself to others, but do try to learn from others or appreciate what they are doing as you might find little nuggets that may also work for you!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Six Years, Six Posts: Post 3 - What's it like now?

Well, when I hit my goal weight, it was a sunny day with two rainbows, all my problems were solved, I was instantly popular, more successful, met prince charming and was pretty much PERFECT.
Um, ya, if you believe that...Maintenance is hard work, but it’s different. At times it's harder than losing, but at other times it isn't. I can recall being way more stressed about "insta gain" and other such nonsense (yep, I said nonsense, cause it really is - so remember that!) than I am now. Does this mean that I've been perfect? Nope.

I initially freaked out more often than I'd like to admit. For me, maintaining my weight was my true test. I had to figure maintenance out. Having lived so focused on the scale, my weight, losing, etc. to now find myself "at goal" and that I had made it ---pretty much scared the crap out of me.

As with losing, maintenance has had it's up's and downs. I've had slumps where my eating has been more unhealthy than healthy and/or exercise has been more none than some. But that's life. And, one off day does not wreck the journey. It's one day, get over it. The challenge is not to let one day lead to multiple. And I can recall myself having multiple off days in a row as well at times, but ultimately what's important is to put on those big girl panties, pull on those boot straps, and get to gettin'!

I'm sitting here trying to think of some magical OMG it's amazing positive thing to say at this point and what I don't come up with much. I guess I just don't feel as excited as I used to. I don't view that as negative either. I think it's the solidification of this life journey. I'm pretty sure I said elsewhere on my blog, and I'm sure it's no revelation to anyone, but there is no finish line. This journey continues for the rest of my life and it is what I make of it.

But this journey has gotten easier over time. Exercise is just part of my routine and I find myself seeking out new activities and challenges, eating (other than sporadic emotional flare ups that I continue to work on) is really just eating---I eat when I'm hungry and don't sweat it, and thoughts about gaining weight or what I weigh are no longer at the forefront of my mind. It's a relief really and I guess I've reached a sense of peace as cliche as that is to put.

My final thought: Weight follows behavior. Your behavior ultimately is in your control. Your control is all about choices and the ones you make. As much as WLS critics like to say we took the easy way out, it's just not true. Success takes effort. There is no free ride. It's been hard work (physically and mentally) the entire way, but it's also been worth it and I wouldn't change a bit of it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Six Years, Six Posts: Post 2 - Goal Weight

Goal weight, some background: My original goal was set by my surgeon. Honestly, it was only discussed because I specifically asked him what he thought it should be and what he would consider "successful". Without much thought, he responded with 149 and that's what I went with. And, yes, I was happy when I got there and stayed there for some period of time.

(Sidebar: It may go a bit unnoticed in reading my posts at this point, getting to my original goal was a looooong journey. 20 months for 85 lbs...for a whopping average of 4.25 per month! I point this out for anyone that may have any perception of an easy or perfect journey to provide encouragement.)

But as I focused more on health and fitness, I just felt *fluffy* in my skin. I'm small boned and knew there was fluff to lose. That being said, I recall not wanting weight loss to be the focus that it was during my losing phase, but more seeing where my body settled and seeing how I felt, etc. Anyway, that happened a couple times and I settled in.

What I realized though is that for me the scale was not working. In reality, I was quite thin and fit, but when I weighed in that stupid a$$ thing was stealing something from me at times. It was my happiness and positivity. So, I divorced the scale. Sure, sometimes I think "OMG, I need to weigh myself". But I don't. I'm at a point that I can tell if I've been overindulging a bit and I pull back. I don't need the scale to tell me that and if I continue to be the size and fitness level I am currently, but weigh a bit more than the 130lbs that I was when I weighed at the doctor's office (fully clothed!!!), then that's fine --- when I divorced the scale I was 129 nekkid. The scale is no longer the boss of me!

There's a blogger - Tina's of Carrots 'N' Cake. For reasons other than one of my favorite 4-letter words being part of her title - c.a.k.e.! I think she's categorized as a food/health blogger and published a book which I haven't read, but there is one thing that she talks about a lot on her blog which is feel great weight (FGW). This philosophy aligns with where I am at this point in my journey (divorcing the scale, etc.) which is a change in focus to health not weight. Here's an article that she wrote on the topic. I included two paragraphs that really resonated with me, but you might want to check her out as well.
When I am at my FGW, I’m comfortable with how I feel on the inside and outside, and I treat my body as such. My FGW doesn’t dictate my daily activities—I don’t weigh myself, I don’t curse my thighs, and I don’t think twice about enjoying dessert. I consume foods that fuel my body and I don’t overthink my meals or the number of calories I’m consuming. I enjoy a wholesome diet and eat without severe restrictions or overindulgences. I choose workouts that keep me energized and make me feel good. Living at my FGW means that I don’t have to make myself crazy maintaining it. I’m able to experience life and enjoy all the fun things that come along with it.

There’s no magic trick for finding your FGW, and it’s different for everyone. I found my FGW by eating a wholesome, nutritious diet 80% of the time and fun, not-so-nutritious foods 20% of the time. I still enjoy eating healthy foods most of the time, but I don’t feel like I have to turn down dessert or cocktails when they come my way. All I know is that stressing out about what I am eating and how much I am exercising means I’m not at my FGW. When I feel healthy, happy, and energized, I know my body is too.
 Mmmmmmm, cake...sorry, couldn't help it.

Bottom line: While your doctor may or may not give you a target weight, ultimately YOU have to live with it and maintain it. The weight may be too high or it may be too low. Only you can figure this out. And, ultimately, you have to figure out what works for you on all aspects (exercise (do it!), food, weight, etc.) So, while not weighing is the best for me for emotional well being, it may not work at all for you. And ya know what? That's OK!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Six Years, Six Posts: Post 1 - The Basics, My Annual Post

In honor of today being six years since I was banded, I am going to attempt to do six posts! This first one is my standard annual post. I haven't forgotten about the questions/things people suggested either and some of those questions are answered in this one, but please feel free to leave a comment if you have any will make the 6 posts so much easier for me too as right now I pretty much just have this post with 5 to go

Official weigh in stats:
  • Height: 5'8"
  • Starting weight: 234 lbs
  • Original goal weight: 149 lbs (Sat here for a while in maintenance and then decided I was still a bit fluffy)
  • Revised goal weight: 138 - 142 lbs (Stayed within this range for a while and picked up boot camp)
  • Revised goal weight again: 132-136 lbs.
  • Pretty much landed at 129 lbs and then divorced the scale.
  • Overall loss: 105 lbs
  • Lbs to goal: 0 lbs
BMI: 19.6 -  (Normal weight = 18.5-24.9)

How many fills have you had?
  • 1st fill – 1.2c
  • 2nd fill – 1.8cc
  • 3rd unfill - was just too tight - went to 1.4cc
  • 4th unfill - dilated pouch - complete unfill
  • 5th fill - .6cc
  • I think I went up some from here to about .8cc; then unfill to about .4 cc; then another to .2 cc - that's where I remain
Are you going to stay at your current fill level? Yes. I honestly can't even recall how long I've been at this level

What are you going to do next? Keep on going with my wellness goals!

What size clothes are you wearing?
  • Pants: 2/4
  • Dress: 2/4
  • Shirt: S/XS
What do you eat in a typical day? There really isn't typical anymore, but I always eat 3 to as many as 6 meals. I listen to my body and if I'm hungry I eat. I should say though that "meals" is used loosely here. It could be a few nuts, a string cheese, a yogurt, half a bar, etc. - each is a "meal" - and I consciously make it a bandster portion.

Was it worth it? Would you do it again? Yes, it was! It was much more expensive when I got it than it is today (you lucky dogs!), but it was still worth every single self-pay penny!

Have you had any problems? Yes, but not anything horrific in my book. You'll see in the beginning of my blog that shortly after my surgery I swore my stitches in my port popped. Everybody told me at the surgeon's office no way and not to worry about it (there was a huge snow/ice storm when I was supposed to go in for my after surgery follow up). When I went in for my fill, my port was on it's  side. I still have not had it fixed, but you can see lump from it when my shirt is off and FEEL it. Feeling it is the grossest. (I think many people refer to them as port baby or something? Well, mine is more of a tween!) I also had some problems with pouch dilation. Turned out that it was likely a combination of being too tight and eating too much over time. Signs? Eating more than you are supposed to (and also could be in conjunction with eating too fast) and getting heartburn (aka - reflux).

Have you pb'd? Unfortunately, yes. More so when I was too tight. Currently only from stupidity and I can't even remember the last time.

What rules do you follow? Eat slowly. Take small bites. When I feel full - stop. Eat bandster amount. Don't drink with meals. (See the side.)... and: Eat CONSCIOUSLY - am I hungry? Am I full? Does it taste good? etc. Here's a post on my most important rules.

Do you have loose skin? I had said no previously. As I got thinner, my skin is not definitely that of a 20 year old, but I'm not 20 either! I'd have to say that the skin situation has improved more over time though. How is that? Exercise! Boot camp and jogging. The only time you can see a "skin situation" is when I'm in a certain position that I only do when working out. You can also see a bit of loose skin in the tummy area when I'm naked and leaning over (so you won't be seeing it!) which is not noticeable when i am standing up or in a swimsuit. This is the same answer as last year, but I have to tell you that this has continued to improve!

Do you 'diet'? Yes? No? Even if I only ate hamburgers, wouldn't that be a hamburger diet? The bottom line whether you have a lap band or not is you have to make healthy food choices most of the time. For a while, I was roughly following Weight Watchers that my friend gave me all the scoop on---the intent though was to become more in tune with what I was eating (the eating consciously crap). It was successful for me, but with all the exercise it just wasn't feeling right. It was feeling like work, so I just started listening (and trusting!) my body and eating when I am hungry---what you can pretty much think of as intuitive eating. Your call on whether or not it's a "diet", but there isn't anything that is restricted from my eating if I want it. But then again, sometimes I want a bunch of crap and I tell myself no. So you tell me.

Ya, I had a regain! --- So what is all this about this 15lbs you gained? Well, for about 5 or 6 months sometime in 2008(?), I didn't work out, log my food, or make good choices. Major, major funk city---ironically this is when there was a "break" in my relationship with my now husband. The good news is that I "only" gained 15 lbs. In the past, this would have been much worse. I also avoided the scale, so it was my clothes screaming at me that they were tight that woke me up. I just slapped myself upside the head and said: HELLO, get a grip. You spent a ton of money. You are being an idiot. Get back on track and do it NOW! You will feel better if you do. (I think I was in a bit of a depression.)Well, I did - I'm just stubborn like that. That is what you see referenced in a period of 12 weeks. During that time with a lot of dedication and effort - and following all the rules - I lost 15.5 lbs....and, felt a whole lot better!

Favorite Posts:
If I was going to point out a few posts to go read, it would be:
My thoughts on protein and some other opinions
Golden(?) rules
My Most Important Rules
Why Do You Exercise?
Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3

Accomplishments this past year: Wellness Goals!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Just Stuff...

I have been thinking about a few things:
  • I think I'll do a "Six Years - Six Posts" series around my bandiversary. I've noted down what people have suggested or asked from previous comments, but please feel free to suggest or ask things as your ideas and/or questions will really help me out!
  • I have said running 13.1 is good enough for me---manageable and training doesn't really disrupt or change what I do anyway that "I don't need to run a marathon". I was driving along the other day and saw cars with marathon stickers and started thinking if I were to do a marathon I'd want to run it between December and March and that I'd probably be best finding a training program to have a group to run with for the long runs. ****Screeeechhh*** Excuse me?!? So, I am considering it for a 2012/2013 Wellness Goal...stressing considering.
  • Another wellness goal I am considering for 2012 is 100 consecutive push ups. Here's a link. Seriously, the thought of being able to do 100 consecutive full on push ups for me really seems impossible! Then I think of all you guys that are determined and doing so well on C25K (and other fitness challenges) and felt the exact same way when you started, so it's incentive for me to suck it up and consider adding this to the list. 
  • I am finding that coming up with Wellness Goals for 2012 is more challenging this time. I don't want to just repeat what I have for 2011, but I also need to be realistic. Right now I think my strategy will be to have a big list by January 1 that I will then finalize at the end of the first quarter. I think this helps me not limit myself in coming up with the goals and set my mind from the get go that refinement is OK and needed.
What are you considering for your 2012 Wellness Goals? Have any ideas for me or others?  : )

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

It's not a beating, but it does involve a stickK.

What is stickK?

Aside: Imagine my surprise when I encountered total blog block for a post this evening when I found this post in my drafts! I swear it was sometime last year that I stumbled across this site, but I do think it's pretty cool. That stick picture - that was an add to the draft to take the post up a notch. Gotta love a good picture of a stick.

Need a little incentive? Accountability? Check this out...

Everyone has a goal. For some, it's losing weight, for others it's exercising regularly. Maybe you'd just like to grow a ponytail.

But if it's still just a goal, it means you haven't reached it...yet.

If you're ready to turn that goal into an accomplishment, you're ready for stickK.

stickK was founded on the principle that creating incentives and assigning accountability are the two most important keys to achieving a goal. Thus, the "Commitment Contract" was born.

Entirely unique to each person, a Commitment Contract obliges you to achieve your goal within a particular time-frame. Not only are you challenging yourself by saying "Hey, I can do this," you're also putting your reputation at stake. If you are unsuccessful, we'll let your friends know about it.

Oh but wait, there's more...

Sometimes losing face with your friends might not be enough to keep you on track. So, what is the one thing no one can stand to part with? You guessed it! Cold hard cash.

As a true test of your commitment, stickK will let you put your money on the line for any Commitment Contract. Achieve your goal and you don't pay a thing (and you're much happier than before, aren't you?).

But if you aren't successful, you forfeit your money to a charity, an anti-charity or even that neighbor who keeps stealing your newspaper.

And guess what, stickK is absolutely FREE!....well as long as you hit your goal!