It's been a long time since I've posted to my blog. So much has happened between a new grandchild, a new boyfriend, my son moving home, ongoing weight loss, cycling, job change and the list goes on and on.
At first, I was distracted by my training for another bike ride across Iowa and then my granddaughter Eliza was born. Training continued and in July 2013, I rode my bike across Iowa again. Around that time, I met the man I would eventually fall in love with and the next thing I know, several months have gone by and I still haven't blogged.
Being a relatively private individual, it is hard for me to divulge too much of my private life on a public blog when it comes to other individuals most notably, my children, granddaughter and significant other. I will always try to refrain from giving too much information about them individually to protect their private lives.
I feel blessed to have found a man who shares my drive to live an active and healthy lifestyle. He has also struggled with weight gain and loss and has currently found a lifestyle that affords him the physical fitness he has desired and he has met his goals. Unfortunately, my journey continues and I still have not met all my goals. Again, I want to say that I feel blessed. I am not unappreciative of the progress I have made and I am grateful that this man has fallen in love with me in spite of my physical flaws.
Recently, I have been hitting some road blocks in my progress that are completely beyond my control. I find it hard to believe that the Universe has brought me this far just to drop me on my ass but I feel the need to vent some frustrations and express the joy of my achievements.
Here is some background. This journey started in 2007. I was morbidly obese and tragically unhealthy and unhappy. I had gained and lost the same 80 lbs over and over again just to gain it back plus another 10 or 15. Eventually, I weighed over 300lbs. A body photo of me is VERY rare but here is a picture of me at about the time I decided I needed to change my life.
In this picture, I am 43 years old and I want to make note that I'm not pregnant in this picture, that is all me. I wish I could say it is some illusion caused by the clothes I was wearing but it's not.
My official BEFORE picture
In these pictures, I was preparing for my journey. I had made a conscious decision to change my life. I'm embarrassed and mortified of these and the shame I feel is indescribable but this is not me now. This person no longer exists. She was killing me so I killed her first.
I knew that fad diets didn't work for me. Well, they worked but not permanently. They had a beginning and an end. I would hit the goal and then I'd have to start eating "normal" and the sad fact was that I simply didn't know what "normal" was so I would eventually go back to my old eating habits and the weight would return with several pounds added. I needed to find a diet that had no end.
I decided to CHANGE my diet instead of go ON a diet. I cut out processed foods almost completely. I had this weird method of monitoring my food which after 7 years, I still follow for the most part. If it's a processed food, I will not consume it if it has more than 5 ingredients. If Water, Meat, Vegetables or Fruits are on the list, they don't count as an ingredient. Spices count as one, no matter how many their are. Too complicated? Not really, after a while, it's easy to figure out. If you want a better description, let me know, I'd be happy to explain it better. Long story short, I was eating a more natural diet.
To me, processed foods are poison. Try to get me to eat a Chili Cheese Frito and see what happens. We each have a place in the pantry called our "sin bin" which holds some treats that we eat in moderation. My shelf has granola, banana chips, kettle potato chips, almonds and dark chocolate. My boyfriend bought some Chili Cheese Fritos for his sin bin. The other night we were talking after dinner while standing in the kitchen and he was eating them. I calmly took out the bar-b-que tongs and the bar-b-que lighter and took one of his Fritos and put it in the tongs and lit it with the lighter. He was shocked when I did it. I asked him, "Do you know why this Frito is going up in flames and burning like this?". He said, "No but I think you are about to tell me." (This is why I love this man) I said, "It's because it's full of oil and this fire represents the calories this chip holds." That was enough for him. He discontinued eating the Fritos and, in fact, gave them away.
Along with the diet change, I also started moving. I walked, I eventually started riding a bike, I did Zumba and much to my dismay, I was unable to be too physical because I suffered from Diverticulosis which is a malady of the large intestine. When irritated by physical activity or certain foods such as tomatoes and strawberries, it causes EXTREME pain, infection and for me, hospitalization. I limited my movements to avoid symptoms and eventually was unable to exercise or ride bike until I decided to have a sigmoid resection in 2010 in which they removed 18" of my large intestine. I fully recovered and have NEVER regretted the surgery. I was finally able to ride my bike and exercise as much as I wanted.
I've always said, "I don't look good running or swimming so I don't do either". Ironically, I've started running and swimming. I still don't look good doing them but I do it anyway. It feels good!
The pounds started to come off slowly. Again, I wasn't as much restricting my diet with volume and calories as I was restricting the content of my diet. I was eating more natural foods and I don't remember ever feeling hungry or having my stomach growl. I ate to my hearts content and I wasn't rewarding myself with one large "normal" dinner a week or a "day off" from dieting which had derailed me so many times before. I was rewarding myself with things like a piece or two of dark chocolate at the end of each day.
As the pounds came off, I decided to come up with a larger reward for my hard work. I decided that in the end, if I had changed my body like I planned, I would reward myself with some "factory new" ta ta's. I dreamed about them for the entire journey but about 100 lbs into my weight loss I began to realize that the damage I had done to my body after carrying around this weight and losing and gaining over and over again was extensive.
My abdomen became a hideous mass of flesh. My upper arms became bat wings. My inner thighs, or "crotch biscuits" as I've been calling them for the last few years have become saggy and droopy. On top of it all, I have a turtle neck. Not a sweater, the neck of a turtle. Oddly enough, the turtle neck doesn't bother me as much as the rest of the mess. I don't know why. It's not that it doesn't bother me, it's just that it doesn't bother me as much as the other issues.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to my general physician who has been following me during the weight loss and told him I'm ready to pursue some restorative surgery to remove this excess skin. He was overwhelmingly supportive and made several suggestions on how to proceed.
One thing I did find out that I did not know before was how much I had actually lost. I had never looked at a scale in the beginning but it was revealed to me that I had lost 143 lbs.
I made an appointment with a cosmetic surgeon and I proceeded to have the most humiliating and humbling doctor exam of my life. They put you in a napkin sized pair of paper underwear and nothing else and start measuring, tugging and pulling and taking pictures. In the end, the doctor tells me he would rather not do the surgery. The damage is simply too extensive for him. He has referred me to a team of doctors in hopes that they can help me.
To make matters complicated, the company I work for has sold and I'm not certain the new company is going to keep our current structure and I may be unemployed at the end of next month. The date of sale is only 13 days after my appointment with the new surgeon so if I'm terminated I'm not certain I can proceed as planned. The entire time frame and plan has been up ended.
I always say, "Don't pray for money because you don't know where it's coming from if you do get it." I would hate think that I would get the money for this procedure at the expense of anyone else but if there are money elves anywhere who would like to drop some in my lap, please take it from some rich millionaire and not some struggling single mom.
I have worked so hard that it scares me to think I'll be left with all these physical issues. When I work out, I have to wear a body suit to hold the lose skin in otherwise it causes pain, discomfort, rash and other sexy things I will spare you the details of but the body suit is so hot that it causes discomfort and limitations also. And...If I don't wear the body suit it looks like I'm packing a garbage bag of creamed corn under my shirt. It's pretty icky.
This is a picture of me two months ago. I'm finishing a 5k mud run and wearing a body suit to hold it all in. That is my sister-in-law giving me the high 5's. I think I look fantastic!
This journey hasn't been easy, it has been full of sweat, pain and tears and I can tell you that the way I feel now is worth every bit of sweat, every sore muscle and every tear drop.
In 10 days, I will ride my bike across Iowa again. If I can perform a feat like that, certainly I can handle this situation.
I will keep you updated with my progress.
Love and Peace,
"It's not pain, it's progress"