Friday, May 04, 2012

Happy 1 Year Anniversary

Holy Shit what a difference a year makes!! Tomorrow marks my 1 year post vertical sleeve gastrectomy surgery anniversay.  Never in a million years did I ever think that the life I have created for myself was possible.

 I have made it to my goal.  I hate using that word really.   I don't want to say goal weight, or pin myself to a number.   Goal is such a final word, and let me tell you - there is no end to this journey.  It is a daily force in my life, one that I am constantly keeping in check.  I am not obsessed, but I am very aware.  I would be lying if I told you that ice cream or high calorie foods never touch this mouth because they do.  But I am ever vigilant in the checks and balances of a healthy lifestyle.  I have managed to figure out the difference between an indulgence and a trigger food.  I have made activity and exercise a high priority.   I know the difference between allowing my body appropriate rest and being lazy.  I have managed to fill my emotional bank with way more positive deposits then negative withdrawls.

 I guess it is best to say, I have achieved my goal of balance and happiness. For the first time since this 11 lb baby body was welcomed into this world, I feel radiant in my skin. I have found a place of peace and connection with my body, where I can have a healthy conversation - I know when I need more, when I need less, when I have fallen off track, and when we are full speed ahead.

 The stats - I have lost 130 lbs.  I have been stable for about 2 months, meaning I hover within 3 lbs up or down of the same general weight.  I have felt comfortable/stable enough to broaden my wardrobe and buy new clothes (versus resale shopping to get by).  I have a secret desire to lose 15 more lbs.  This would put me at my ideal fighting weight, but the reality is, I know I would not be able to maintain that weight.  The amount of exercise and harsh diet/calorie counting/planning that would be required is just not a lifestyle that I am interested in ... period.  So I would love to train for it, just once, but it would be kind of like training to climb Mt Everest.  Once I reached that mountain top, I would think - huh, wow, I did that - don't care to live here, but cool to know that I could.

 So - I can't really think of anything more to say but different versions of can you believe it? or I am just so happy! or who'da thunk it?   So let's just show you:

 The first picture was taken just before my surgery last year, the second was taken a couple of weeks ago:

The first picture here was taken from the video Kyle and I did for the Biggest Loser, the second was taken at this year's gala for Catastrophic Theatre (doesn't Kyle look phenomenal too?!?!?):

And oh yeah - there is the other life achievement that happened this year - the Warrior Dash!!  This is probably the point when my mind caught up with my body.  Prior to this, I would hear the positive comments, but couldn't believe them.  After finishing the dash and seeing these pictures, I could finally start to see what everyone else was seeing!

Again - CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!?!?  So there you have it.   I am thinking this kind of closes the chapter on this VSG story.  From here on out it is more about me and my choices than the surgery.  Let me make this clear.  The surgery gives you a 6 month lottery pass with a 6 month reprieve to prove to your self that you can keep up with the new life.  That's it.   I guaruntee you - if I had not worked my ASS off this past year, making the sacrifices, doing the work, figuring it out - I would be writing to you in a year about how it all slipped away.  And it still could.  But I will be damned if I will go down that road again.  I am more scared of meeting that sad dejected Becky from 2-3 years ago along the road then I am scared of gaining the weight back.   It really was never about too much ice cream.   It was always about stress.  And I never want to put myself in a situation of stress that is too much to handle and the only way to comfort myself is through food.

 Happy New Me!!

Monday, March 05, 2012

Put the bat down and step away from the scale

So here’s the truth. Scales are a@)#&)es. Any way you cut it. They are mean ugly inventions that give information which, in truth, is only one corner of the picture. It is merely a few trees in the forest, but sometimes they are the only bright red trees we can see when we look at the big picture.

The following information may be shocking to find out – but scales and I have never been friends. Since the very first one I was placed on merely seconds from the womb, we have been enemies. 11 lbs. But it didn’t just say 11 lbs. It also said I was different, unhealthy, shocking, chubby, etc. Not like the other babies….

From that point, getting on the scale has ALWAYS been an unpleasant experience reserved for times when I was sick, miserable, or challenging myself to stare the devil down. Sometimes I was pleasantly surprised, other times I was heartbroken. But ALWAYS filled with anxiety.

When I started on this most recent weight loss journey – I tried really hard not to focus on that stupid piece of metal and how far it was sliding to the left. I did not have a scale in my home. I only weighed myself at the MD office, my mother’s house, or at the YMCA. No more than once a week. Sometimes, it would be 2-3 weeks between my weigh in(s). I made it 100+ lbs without a scale in my home. I felt good. I was starting to feel like I had turned a corner. The scale and I were letting bygones, be bygones and .. dare I say it…. becoming friends.

That is when I met her….a sleek silver metal beauty with big digital displays that tells me my weight to a decimal point. It even gives me the time and room temperature for shits and giggles!! She was a great deal and I bought her. I thought … it’s time. It’s time to let you back into the house to see if we can make this work. We deserve to try to work on our relationship in more healthy situation – one were I can can pee and be naked and weigh myself seconds later… because yes… those ounces make a difference. I told you it weighs me to a tenth of a pound, didn’t I?!?!?!

At first – it was beautiful. I “lost” a pound just from the night before when I took her out of her package to the next morning. And it was a weight I had not been to since Jr. High, so I was really happy to look at that number. So happy, that several hours later, I wanted to see it again. So I go back on the scale – same number – but some additional numbers to the right of the decimal point – no biggie – still the same number and those numbers after the decimal point didn’t matter, right? RIGHT?

Then that bi(&^ had the audacity to add 2 pounds the next day!! ADD?!?!?! Are you freaking kidding me!?!?! Don’t you know WHO – I – AM?!?! I am the woman who has lost basically another whole human being in less than a year and you are gonna add 2 pounds to me?!?!?! You are broken. That is the only explanation. You are going back you worthless piece of (&(&%^….

The next day I apologized. We tried again. 2 lbs were gone again. The next day 4 ounces down. The next day a pound up. A week steadfast at the same exact number to the decimal point, then the next day 3 lbs gone. This has gone on for a couple of months now.


Well… I will tell you why. Because that damn number changes every minute. Every glass of water, every workout, every meal. Every day, every "time of the month”, every almost “time of the month”. It changes. It will continue to change. It will go up and yet your clothes will be size too small… and ya wanna know why? Because your legs and ass muscles look amazing from kick boxing this week! It just doesn’t matter what the hell that b(*(&^% says, because if you are focused and on task, you will feel amazing!! You will feel healthy and strong and look great.

I have come to realize – we will never be friends. Never. I will need her. She needs to keep me in check, but I cannot have her out in the house. She is too dangerous for my new mind. I have come to the realization that I have played this up and down game for a year, but just didn’t know it because I wasn’t getting on the scale 3-6 times a day (yes… I am admitting it…I have gotten on that damn thing THAT many times in one day!)

So – more baby steps in this journey. Like the old saying goes, one step back, two steps forward. This is a marathon, not a sprint… and all those other crappy inspirational phrases written in pretty fonts on pinterest.

Friday, February 17, 2012

You gotta move.... Exercise post VSG surgery

It is exactly one month to the Warrior Dash!!! I am terribly excited and overwhelmed! This is the first time I have ever committed to something like this, that is so different from the old me. Something outside of my comfort zone that requires weeks and weeks of commitment to accomplish. And I am very excited to be doing it with my friends Kyle (oh my friend - the path we have walked together!), Karina (working out with you last year was the foundation to my current workout regime) and Noel(you inspire me with your never changing positive attitude!)

Oh the love hate relationship I have with exercise.

I love being active. I never allowed my size to hold me back, even as a kid. I did tap dance, ballet, cheer leading, and rode my bike down Braes Bayou while my dad jogged. When I started getting involved in theatre, I hand-jived and chorus lined with the best of them. I will admit that I threw myself into these activities in a futile attempt to pretend to be normal - "See.. I am not fat.. I can do this just like YOU!!"

Over the years, most of my attempts at dieting always started with exercise. I would convince myself that if I could first get moving again, my body wouldn't feel so deprived when I started modifying my diet. It was my way of easing into the changes. And usually I would hit the plan hard. I would walk for 45 minutes or so 3-5 times a week. It worked well for me because I love to listen to my music and I love to wander. I learned more about my neighborhoods here and in New York by just walking around. I talked with God, thought things through, came up with plans, listened to that voice deep down inside.

SO - walking. Lots of walking. That was it. I convinced myself that I was giving it my all. But guess what - nothing changed. Yeah - I felt better. I lost 10-15 lbs. But it was never life changing.

Fast Forward to early 2009. I was done. I could no longer pretend that I was not fat. I could no longer hide behind "Oh it's just holiday weight" or "I'm a big boned plus sized woman, I am supposed to be this way!" No - I was fat. I was uncomfortable in my skin fat. So I emailed Kyle - I wanna try out for the biggest loser. His response - me too. I said, I am serious. He said - me too. And we did - see here , here , and here . But we didn't get picked.

Fast forward to Fall 2009 - joined the YMCA - more walking. This time inside on a hamster wheel. Would eye ball the other machines - but could not convince myself to go there unless no one was around. Eventually made it to the other machines. But success was slow. I was healthier, but not skinnier.

Fast forward to January 2011. This is it - do or die. I will make a commitment to myself and make serious changes. I made appointments to meet with the weight loss MD and set myself up on an exercise plan and come hell or high water, i was sticking to it. And I did. And I lost 30 lbs before surgery.

Surgery came - and I actually missed the gym. I didn't have the stamina to go from the bed to the chair, so treadmills and elliptical were certainly out of the picture. 3-4 weeks after surgery, I was already rehearsing for the summer show, so the gym wasn't going to work. No problem. This where Karina, Kyle, Noel, Tamarie and a few other great people in the show come into the story. Karina (a fitness instructor) agreed to work out with us 2-3 times a week before rehearsal. AWESOME!!! And the really great part of this story, this is where I started to break out of my shell when it came to exercise. We did lots of cardio, ab work, combat work, intervals. It was awesome!! And I could do it. I may be slower, my stamina wasn't as great as the others, but I did it. I wasn't just walking anymore.

After the show closed, I was more focused on variety. Still committed 5-7 times a week. I was educating myself on heart rates, and strengthening, and stamina. And I noticed... I was stalling. I was losing crazy weight because of the surgery, but the workouts were getting easier, so I wasn't getting the same hard, sweaty results.

So I did the unthinkable in my world. One Saturday morning, Edge of Glory came on Pandora and the craziest thing happened. I found myself hitting the speed/pace button... higher and higher... until damn it if I wasn't running... on purpose... with no one chasing me. I only made it a minute or so, but I did something I swore I would NEVER do. And it felt great!! Walk for 3-5 minutes, run for 1-2 minutes. Nice.

I told myself, I wanna start running. Really. I want to do the Warrior Dash. I have seen many friends all over the country do them and post pictures. I want to do that. I WILL DO THAT!

Text Kyle - I wanna do the warrior dash. Kyle - okay. Becky - I am serious. Kyle - me too.


So now I have stepped it into serious gear!!! I am running 3 times a week, taking two cardio interval and combat classes. I still even manage to get some long distance walking in on my "rest" days because my family (especially the boys) are in on the new game too! I have made the commitment to myself and refuse to stand down. I schedule my life around this because I refuse to let life get in the way this time. My schedule is on the fridge and everyone knows. This is the new me. This is what is important. This is my focus. I stand in the classes, staring at myself in the mirrors, and I honestly have no clue who I am looking at. I am dripping in sweat throwing blows and side kicks to the old me, pushing her further and further away.

And I love it. It feels so good to be exhausted at the end of the day. It feels great to get home, shower and know I gave it my all today. And even on the days when I am not into it at all, if I can just get my shoes on, I am already done. The hardest part on those bad days is reminding myself how great I am going to feel afterwards. Let me make this clear... I don't like running. I get no runner's high, there is no euphoria. My euphoria comes afterwards, the pride in the accomplishment, when cold and viruses are all around me and I am in perfect health, when going up and downstairs is nothing, when I see results, when total strangers at the YMCA stop to tell me how amazing I look or ask me what I am doing because they have seen me coming and going for awile and notice the results.

It has not been easy. The battle in my head between the "you're not good enough girl", and the "shut up and move girl" has been loud and long. But this battle is necessary. The surgery was a tool. A wire your mouth shut tool. It helps you to lose a lot of weight fast. But if you do not take that gift and make serious changes, nothing is going to change. You will get a few good years, but nothing will change.

So go.... MOVE.... do what you can... and then do what you think you can't... because you can!! Stop making the excuses and MOVE. A LOT. You may not thank me today, or even next week. But I promise you will thank me next month, this summer, or next year! I would like to say it seems just like yesterday, but it hasn't. It has taken 2-3 long years to make this change and I have felt every ache along the way, but I am thankful that I kept moving because if I hadn't I would be where I am today.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Stage 3 & 4 post Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy Surgery

To read my story from the beginning start here , then here then here then here

Sorry for the terribly long delay regarding the next stages of my story. It was around the time of the last post that this whole cancer messwas going on and all I could think about was do I have it or don't I have it, so I wasn't up to posting any more blogs.

But now that mess is over!

So where were we?

Ok - stage 3 - pureed food (read baby food). By this time I had not had solid foods in 3, almost 4 weeks. I had no desire to eat, but I knew I had to because I was wasting away, physically, mentally and emotionally. Physically, I had gone into starvation mode because of low protein and low caloric intake. Mentally, it was hard to focus on anything - I swear I have no clue what I was doing during that time, I just remember walking back and forth to the kitchen every 15-20 minutes to get my 2 ounce protein shake or 2 ounces of water and then going back to sit in my chair. I also remember A LOT of Law & Order..... thank God for Law & Order - original, SVU, Criminal Intent - they are always on, no matter the time of day, you just have to keep the faith and keep changing channels.

So Stage 3 - I was so excited - FOOD! Real Food! Okay, well not REAL food. More like real food I had to prepare then throw in the blender until it no longer resembled food anymore. I had done a lot of research online and I studied my food diaries that were given to me by the dietitian and I went to work. I have to admit, this was where the rubber hit the road for me. I have never spent as much time researching what food was, how it was going to affect me, how many calories, what were the nutritional benefits, how do you balance calories to nutrition ...etc , etc, etc. I of course had lived my life on diets - I ate what Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig told me to eat or i would restrict myself on the latest and greatest craze....(Cabbage Soup Diet... never again...banana milk day killed me every time). But I never really figured out what I was doing or why I was doing it. I just knew that the commercials or posters told me that if I do what these people tell me to do I would lose weight and be happy.

But this time was different. The goal was 1000 calories with 60-80 grams of protein. It is really damn hard to get that much protein in with those few calories, especially when you have NO DESIRE to eat. I was more like a scientist than a chef. I would lay out all of the ingredients for a possible recipe, calculate the calories and nutritional content, alter the recipe to get the biggest bang for my buck, then measure it all out, cook it, puree it, and then weigh it into 2 ounce servings. And it is not like I could do just one meal, because you don't want to eat the same meal, all day, for 3 days. So I was calculating, cooking, and preparing many meals all at one time. The great part was once I did all of that, I had easy frozen portions, and all I had to do was heat and serve. The bad part, I would discover later, was that i would find myself not tolerating certain foods, so all of my hard work would be wasted. Certain foods just would not go down or stay down.

Quite a few of my recipes had cheese in it. I had an Italian recipe with ground meat, ricotta, and tomato sauce. I had a ground meat with Campbell's cheddar cheese soup. I did Chicken with cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup. I tried a turkey with gravy. My biggest protein, but worst digestive enemy was Tuna salad. I also had Greek yogurt, cream of wheat, and cream soups, but those were more for comfort as nutritionally they were not as great as the pureed meals. Most meals had to be a portent with a cheese or a sauce to help it to go down smoothly.

I did start to feel better almost instantly once I was getting more calories in. I went back to work, started rehearsals for Tamarie Cooper's summer show, and started to realize things did not fit anymore. This was working. It was really really working. Within the first few rehearsals, it was time for measurements and sizes, and I had no clue what to tell them.
A. I had no clue what size I was.
B. I had no clue what size I would be on opening night.
C. I had no clue what size I was going to be when the show closed.
A quick jump ahead - the entire rehearsal process and run of the show was from late May to late August. Most people thought I was insane for agreeing to the 14 hour days (work then straight to rehearsals) so close after the surgery, but truthfully, it was the best thing for me and my journey. I was busy... really really busy and I had no time to sit around and stare at myself willing the pounds to melt away. I was very active and the activities filled my soul with joy because I was doing what i love with people I love. Tamarie had pulled costumes that I was certain would never fit me, but low and behold they fit, were too big, or by the end of the run, they were falling off of me. It was AWESOME!!!!!

Back to the baby food. This stage lasted for 3 weeks. It got old. It got boring. Especially since I was having trouble with some of the above recipes, so I was repeating the same meals over and over again. But, I was busy, so I just treated it like medicine - just do it and get it over with. I was still not able to take my vitamins regularly because I would get very sick to my stomach, but I was getting my calcium from the never ending supply of Tums or Maalox antacids that I was popping quite frequently. I had a lot of acid and food intolerance, so most meals ended with the chalky dessert treat! Later I found a daily dose of Zegrid helped with the heartburn/reflux. I ended up taking the Zegrid for about 3-4 months, and eventually, my body had settled down, I knew my triggers and it was not a problem anymore.

One of the things I was missing the most during this time, and still do miss, is drinking while eating. You are not supposed to drink while eating because there is very little room in there, so you don't want to waste precious space with fluid. It would take me a good 1/2 to hour to recover from a meal before I could start drinking again. Now it is more like 15 to 20 minutes, but if I attempt to drink too soon after eating, the whole meal goes down the toilet.

Stage 4 - Food - REAL CHEWABLE FOOD. Oh happy day. I can eat again. I can chew, I can crunch, I can savor individual ingredients instead of a mushy mix of all ingredients. Back to normal, just much smaller portions! Right?!?!


Not so fast, Missy. Yes. I could eat. But I quickly realized food would never be the same again. I can only speak for myself, but I will honestly tell you, nothing tastes the same as before the surgery. I believe it to be entirely emotional. Eating is no longer an event, it is a brief passing time in my day. One that I am very conscious of, taking time to plan ahead, but not something that consumes or comforts me. I used to think of my meals like little parties. I couldn't wait to go have dinner with friends - hours and hours of chips and salsa, and fried gooeyness topped with margarita after margarita. That does not and cannot happen anymore. For one, it is not a healthy choice and it is what got me into trouble in the first place and two, there just isn't room and would likely get stuck, and I would be miserable.

One night, shortly after moving to the food stage, I told my family, I wanted Mexican. i want to go to a Mexican restaurant, order a meal, and feel normal. I thought about it all day, where we were going to go, what I was going to order, how amazing it was going to taste. I ordered something soft - cheese enchiladas. The hot plate came, i took 2 bites and the moment was gone. It did not taste as good as before, my body was angry at me for what I was putting in it, and I had to leave the table to walk off my uncomfortable feeling. After this, I realized things were changing forever - I mourned the loss, and got over it. Change is good. Putting on pants that did not fit because they were too big felt soooo much better than putting on pants that did not fit because they were too small. It was just that simple.

Well... one great side effect of this journey is my ability to instantly fall asleep at a reasonable time, which is what I must go do now. More to come.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Phew!! That was close!

Well... let's just start with the punch line:


Now to catch you up.

So, apparently you find the craziest things when you lose 110 lbs. I found a mass. A large uncomfortable mass the size of a ping pong ball. At my 6 month post surgery appointment, I showed my doctor. I tried to blow it off, he said, no....this is a *significant* mass that needs to be investigated. So we did. 2 CT scans, 2 MRI scans, a needle biopsy, and several weeks later, I finally got results today that the mass/tumor is benign - it is just a pain in my ass....literally - TMI?!? Maybe - but I am so damned relieved I could care less if I am sharing too much or not!!

This holiday season has been ROUGH! I have been hovering over a situation with manic thoughts from, "Oh you silly girl..this is nothing... you are so over dramatic!" to "Well, maybe I need to start making videos for the boys..."

It has been awful. It has been a terrible awful 2 months

The situation became more dramatic and frustrating with each call from the MD office - no, CT scan not enough, he wants MRI. Nope, MRI inconclusive - he wants a biopsy. The biopsy - (Good Lord, it was painful)- preliminary results - spindle cell - needs immunostains to confirm malignant or benign... wait wait wait.

Well, the wait is over. I am so blessed and relieved. I just have to have surgery to have it removed - and though it will be an unpleasant experience I am sure - it will be FAR less unpleasant had the results been different.

Cancer Free Happy Dance!!!