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CurvyMermaid

R.I.P.

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You have been both my friend and my enemy.

I have doubted your honesty yet relied on you in many ways to tell me the brutal truth.

In times of failure, and there were many, I blamed you and you took the blame stoically.

In times of success, and there were many more of these lately, you were there to celebrate with me.

It is perhaps these most recent times that I will remember most fondly.

You went from used and abused to a vital part of my everyday life.

The power you had over me is not gone but you will live on in your replacement.

R. I. P. Bathroom Scale  2005-2017

 

Anyone care to suggest  a replacement brand?  We need precision AND accuracy here folks! :D

CurvyMermaid

T - raining

H – appy Birthday!

R - evel

E - go

E – tra Large!!

 

This past month brought my birthday (see this blog entry) and a ramping up of activity at work, which involved some double takes that were good for my ego (see this other blog entry).  I volunteered at an Ironman and added more weight training to my workout routine.  This training also has involved consultations with the colleague I met at work who did my body fat analysis and supplied some additional guidance on focus areas.  I broke into TWO TOWN (woot woot!) and have lost over 28” and over 70 lbs.  Today I am wearing a size XL tshirt I got at the LanternFest and Men’s size XL athletic pants.  I was on the boat today and after extending the PFD band to its widest setting, found I had plenty of room to spare.  I removed the extension on the BCD cummerbund and retired more clothes.  Let me just stop and revel in the Scale and Non-Scale Victories for a second.  :D

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A BCD (scuba diving jacket)                                                    The finish area at the Swim with other volunteers                                                                       XL, say what??

Eating wise I have tried some cucumber-avocado sushi (meh), veggie burrito (meh) and a few more caprese salads (fresh!).  I have one more month of the Africa medication and the nausea is wearing on my soul.  I am now at Expert Level for finding and identifying all trash cans within each room I enter.  No matter where I am and what type of meeting or event I am attending, my first concern is, “If I’m going to spew, where is the least embarrassing place?”  But interestingly enough, I have yet to actually throw up.  That is probably from force of will rather than the true need – I HATE throwing up.  The other side effect is lack of sense of taste and appetite. This means that eating is a really big pain in the a**.  I NEVER thought I would ever say that about eating but I have become a slave to My Fitness Pal and the protein count.  My goal is to get to 100g every day and I find myself relying mostly on protein supplements (powders, prepared shakes, bars, my gummies).­­

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Thumbs up from the Doctor (note: not actually my Dr

I almost canceled my 3 month surgeon check-up appointment because of the disappointment of the last visit but the new me knew I should go no matter what.  That avoidance of doctors was a pre-surgery coping strategy and I am confident in how well I am doing to cope with what came my way.  Imagine my surprise with the nurse apologized for the incorrect weight previously and the surgeon gave me a Congrats! I asked about my frequent menstruation and he said he had never heard of that and to ask my gyno, which I had already done (she said she was not familiar with bariatric patients).  Yet another area where the literature is lacking.  Overall I’m not really worried about the frequent menstruation right now, just irritated.  What I did become worried about was my surgeon’s very excited statement when he entered the room that he had been talking about me.  I was disturbed to find out that he was talking about me to another patient that works at the same place I do.  I have to hope that he didn’t mention any defining characteristics about where specifically I work or what I do.  I was so shocked that he would say something, I didn’t reply but it is now an annoying thought in my head that my surgeon may have “outed” me.  Has anyone else had the experience of outing? I suppose this is another reason to be open about it but I want it on MY terms.

This next month brings a visit from a friend who lives in Seattle and some intense, cold outdoor work in the water at the end of the month.  Thank goodness that wetsuit that has been haunting me from my closet now fits!

My new obsession is running a marathon, triathlon, Ironman...  My fitness consultant doesn't advise me to run just yet because of my knee injury but some blogs I've found show I'm not alone:

Fat Girl Running

A Fat Girl's Ironman Journey

Slow Fat Triathlete

Ironfat

 

What's this vegetarian eating?  Decaf iced tea, pumpkin spice coffee, cottage cheese, protein gummy bears, protein powders, protein bars, Mull of Kintyre Extra Mature Cheese

What I'm not eating?  Vegan protein.  The never ending tub won and I pitched the whole d*mn thing.  Best. Day. Ever.

What foods I miss?  None.  I have zero appetite so no cravings.  Occasionally I will have the opportunity to eat some fresh fruit and veggies – which is LOVELY.  Most of the time, my sleeve will only allow me to get in enough protein so there is no space for zero protein foods.  If mangos or steamed broccoli had protein, I would be golden.

CurvyMermaid

Today is my birthday and I saved a very special treat to enjoy on this special day….

 

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I ordered a sampler pack off of Groupon and have been trying out the flavors.  They are not very dense, which is a nice change from the Premiere Protein ones I have.  As a birthday present to myself I did my measurements and since surgery I have lost 28”.  Folks that is 2 1/3 foot less of me in this world!  Overall I am closing in on the 70lb loss and – even more exciting – soon to enter into two-town. 

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My next goal after cracking into 299 is the mythical 287.  I have miscellaneous medical records that I went through in preparation for making my weight loss spreadsheet and was able to track weights all the way back to 2003, which also corresponded to my heaviest weight at 379.  My lowest recorded weight for that entire time period was 287 and it was in 2012.  So in at least 14 years I know I have not weighed less than 287. 

From there, when I hit 270 it will be my 100lb loss celebration – which I have recently celebrated with Trish (huzzah @Trish1967) and will soon celebrate with Mark (you got this @Dtrain84!).  It may be early to plan these milestones out so far in advance but I like having the mini-goals.  4.1 lbs to Two Town, 17 lbs until lowest weight and 34 lbs until the 100lb loss milestone.  I’m a happy camper.  I’ve been buying canned food for the food pantry to represent every pound lost and that pile makes me happy. :D  I will probably donate the 100lbs and start again otherwise it’s going to take over my living room!

My celebration today is to drive up to the Poconos for a Japanese Lantern Festival.  It’s something I have wanted to do for a while and the fact that this one fell on my birthday made it an obvious choice.  We are supposed to have a gorgeous night for lighting the lanterns and letting them sail into the sky.  You can write anything you want on the lanterns and a 66lb and 28” loss is certain something that I am exciting to send up. Those inches and pounds are gone and they aren’t welcome back.

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CurvyMermaid

Double Take

After months of not seeing some of my colleagues, last week was the week we all gathered for a meeting.  I was nervous. Would anyone notice? Could they tell? I had lost 60+lbs and at least 4 sizes so far. I was of the opinion that no one noticing would be the greatest failure thus far and therefore put even more pressure on myself.  (unrealistic much?) I **agonized** over what to wear.  I Marco Polo’d with my fashionista friend to have her critique the outfit I had come up with.  She gave me great feedback, I tweaked the outfit, and laid it out for the ‘big day’.  I had my hair dyed professionally (something I have never done before).  I could barely sleep.  Seriously, this was worse than the first day of school somehow.  Where you tried to pick the outfit that most represented you and the message you wanted to give everyone on the first day.  Hadn’t I progressed past vanity a long time ago?  My friend and I chatted and she said that I should prepare myself for no one saying anything.  This would either be due to the unfailingly polite nature of people in this region as well as the work environment or could also be due to the fact that I was still a fat person, just less fat right now.  Both really good points.  If I was some Southern belle, this would have been my coming out party.  The big reveal.  Ugh.  Stop, just stop.

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The day dawned and I left home feeling confident that even if no one noticed, I felt good.  My clothes were fitting better than they had in years.  I was in love with my new haircut and color.  I was ready.  Then, it happened.  From the first person I saw, those that knew me commented on my hair.  They loved it and said it really suited me.  But almost everyone followed it up with the body scan and said, you look great. One colleague who I really have only met one other time, didn’t recognize me at first.  One close colleague even did a double take.  She just kept saying I looked amazing and giving me another look.  I felt comfortable in my own skin.  It is a remarkable feeling and I am so glad I made the decision to have VSG.

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Enjoy these photos, which may cause you to do a double take.

I know I shouldn’t look for external validation.  That to rely on others to fill your bucket (to use one of those cliché team building books we’ve had to read), can lead to unreasonable disappointment.  But sometimes when you are feeling good, when your insides are finally matching your outsides, you look for some validation and it’s still okay.  Lately I have been feeling pretty crappy and nauseous, I try not to let it show – the whole fake-it-til-ya-make-it mentality.  And to be honest, it has been wearing on me.  Yesterday was a win and I really needed it.  So as superficial and potentially unsustainable as it may have been, I’m going to take it. 

CurvyMermaid

T - iming

W - onder

O - ddities

 

TWO Months post-surgery.

TIMING:  This past month brought an amazing trip to Martha’s Vineyard (see this post) and a one-ish month weigh in that was at first underwhelming (see this post) but was a great example of the pressure we put on ourselves and the scale (accurate or otherwise).. After the lovely encouraging words from the women here on Thinner Times, I prepared to join the gym and find a trainer only to have a great opportunity drop in my lap.  I was an invited panel member to a 3-day workshop this past month and was paired with a woman to be her mentor on the workshop topic.  As we sat and strategized, she mentioned she needed an accountability partner for both the work we were doing as well as some personal fitness goals.  I agreed to do both with her and one of my fellow panel members said she formerly owned a personal training company prior to starting at our employer, and that she could offer us some sessions for free as well as do a body fat assessment.  Never in my life did I think I would get excited by those words!  So with that, she and I have met twice and developed an exercise plan that evolves past my former cardio only fumblings!  What perfect timing!

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WONDER:  At this point I have lost 30% of my excess weight based on my goal weight.  I am left with a sense of wonder at how much this weight loss has done for my confidence.  I have always been a fairly confident individual but I think a portion of that was more of the fake-it-until-you-make-it variety.  Now my friends have been calling me sassy and I am happy to own my sassiness.  I work in a male-dominated, old boy network and it used to really weigh on me (pun, believe it or not, unintended) as I became accustomed to being marginalized because I was female and additionally marginalized because of my weight.  I don’t know when this mental shift happened but my hesitation at speaking up or doing certain things just dropped away.  I wonder where my sassiness will come out next?

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ODDITIES:  At 2 months out I don’t know where I expected to be but here I am.  My recovery was luckily a thing of beauty. Minimal gas pain immediately after and no complications since surgery, unlike some of the super-hero Trish’s here on TT who have endured many trials and tribulations during their post-surgery recovery time (I salute you @Trish1967 and @Trish13!).  But there are some odditites I’m getting used to.  Like I have nausea every day.  Every. Day.  Talk about an incentive not to eat.  Surgeon and PCP say this is acceptable only considering the other medical treatments I am undergoing because of the Africa situation so I suppose it is not really related to the WLS but when added to Oddity #2, it’s not great.  Oddity #2 is that apparently cold water and I are not going to have the relationship we once had. At least for right now. I was a water drinking fiend and the not-drinking-with-meals is T.O.U.G.H.  Adding more nausea from cold water to the nausea of oddity #1 means I have been avoiding water – not like me at all.  Oddity #3 – some of the things I bought pre-surgery, thinking I would be using them all the time, are getting dusty from lack of use while other items I bought at the last minute are getting constant use.  Unused:  blender, mini bento lunch boxes,   Worth their weight in gold:  food scale, snack sized Ziploc bags, gummy bear molds.  Other post-oppers – anything gathering dust or worth their weight in gold that surprised you?

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A selection of items available from Etsy.com when you search 'oddity'

What's this vegetarian eating?  cottage cheese, protein gummy bears, protein powders, Trader Joe’s meatless Italian sausage, egg whites with nutritional yeast, Dubliner Cheese

What I'm not eating?  Jackfruit – nope, not jumping on that bandwagon. No matter what I try doing to it, not loving it enough to give up precious sleeve space.

What I wish I wasn't eating?  The miraculous-never-ending-no-matter-how-many-shakes-I-make bucket of veggie protein mix.  Vitamins, I’m looking at you Calcium Citrate.  

CurvyMermaid

Today I had the one month check-up, which was really 6 week check-up because of my surgeon’s vacation schedule.  The doc is happy but quasi-chastised me for not losing more.  Say whaaa?  I've lost 30 lbs since surgery!  What was I ‘supposed’ to lose? (Which he refused to answer) However, if you might recall an earlier post of mine, this is somewhat due to the scale in his office registering an additional 11 lbs less than it should have during my last appointment pre-op.  The only reason I knew this was a true discrepancy is because immediately after my pre-op visit with him, I went across the hospital campus for pre-admissions testing and that scale weighed more closely with the one at home (and unless you can gain 11 lbs in a 10 min walk, we’ve got issues).  Can you believe I am actually fighting for a weight to be recorded higher?  Ironically, the nurse at the office said that two scales were out of commission because they weren’t working so they KNOW there is a problem.  I was struck dumb and left deflated after his gentle inquisition about why I wasn’t losing more.  

The scale demons are trying to win this one and I’m telling them to S.T.F.U.  I am fitting into clothes that I haven’t felt comfortable wearing in at least 3 years! I had an awesome trip to Martha’s Vineyard! Yesterday I wore an outfit that made me feel on top of the WORLD! And the other day I tried on a dress I wore right after I graduated high school (!!), which made me both happy and sad.  Happy because = hey! more clothes to start wearing again! And sad because my poor body has been too big for too long.  I’m not all too sure how much I weighed in high school but that period of my life was the typical terror for a fat girl.  I was invisible yet the class clown to try and stay ahead of the jokes made at my expense. I was an easy target for the jerks and I have limited fond memories of my time there.  However, I do remember going with my mom to pick out this beautiful watersilk dress full of all my favorite colors.  Blues and teals and deep rich purples.  The colors of a clear night sky with a streak of the aurora borealis or of bruised purple sunsets in a deep blue and clear turquoise sky.  I remember how beautiful I felt in it and how I loved to wear it for our family’s special occasions and trips.  It’s full of both that feeling of beauty and owning something so pretty and special, but also those dark memories of being bullied that I have tried to bury. Geez louise, thinking of this dress is bringing me to tears. How can a piece of clothing evoke so much? I never realized clothing could have that power.  I guess now that it fits I need to make some new memories in it.

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In other news, I think I could amp up my exercise efforts.  I researched gyms and memberships and found one in close proximity to my work which gives a discount through my insurance so that I would theoretically only be paying $10 month.  Why is it hard to make that next step?  What am I afraid of?  And should I be doing only cardio to maximize weight loss right now?  What about these bat wings?  Can I tone without gaining muscle? But I WANT more muscle.  I want definition under this fat so I can be awesome like @athenarose and @Stephtay  ;)  Perhaps I’m afraid of making a fool out of myself.  I have been publicly embarrassed and bullied enough in my life, I try not to put myself in situations where it might happen again. 

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What I'm feeling 6 weeks out:  Normal. Like, sometimes I forget I had surgery. I'm certainly not as tired as I typically would have been at the end of the day pre-surgery but I still haven't had this great surge of consistent energy like I thought I might have.  I have the energy when I want (like my hiking) but its not always there or I must summon it (**cross arms in front of body, blink -- Genie?). I've been having some acid reflux/heartburn so the doc prescribed some meds for that during today's visit.  I also brought up the DEXA scan after reading about the dangers bariatric surgery may pose for calcium absorption issues (thanks  @cinwa!)  He actually said that his foreign colleagues only do self-pay surgeries and the DEXA scan is included in the package.  We will see if it goes through insurance.

What's this vegetarian eating?  cottage cheese, protein gummy bears, protein powders, tofu and stir fry veggies, some fruit (cantaloupe, nectarine), tempeh, paneer and spinach

What I'm not eating?  Field Roast Veggie Frankfurters - nope, way too dense no matter how much you chew.

What I wish I wasn't eating?  This d*mn container of veggie protein mix that has begun to taste like dirt and doesn't mix well but I'm too cheap to toss it so I make myself use it.  Vitamins, all of them.

CurvyMermaid

During my trip I traveled lightly during the day – only a large purse or backpack – with no access to a refrigerator and no desire to carry an insulated lunch bag during my hiking, shopping, walking, beach visits.  For that reason I wanted to have portable protein that didn’t require refrigeration.  I am also a vegetarian (so no meat) and limited on carbs (so no belowground veggies – e.g. peanuts, chickpeas).  Here’s what I brought/bought:

 

1) Lightlife Meatless Smart Jerky – you got that right!  “Lightlife has been making delicious vegan meat alternatives for over 30 years, and they've created something special with their new Meatless Smart Jerky!  Dense, chewy, and full of delicious flavor, this vegan jerky is low in fat and calories, giving you a healthy way to get a "meaty" snack any time your cravings hit.”    Each 1 oz serving has 9g protein and 8g carbs.

2) Sunflower seeds  I found Superseedz’ Somewhat Spicy  version of sunflower seeds to be a tasty treat with 15% zinc and iron along with 9g protein and 5g carbs in each 0.25cup serving. They have some other lovely sounding flavors like: Tomato Italiano, Sea Salt, Cinnamon & Sugar, Maple Sugar & Sea Salt, Coco Joe.

3) Hardboiled eggs  I only eat the egg white, which as 4g protein.  Okay, that’s a lie. I will totally eat the egg yolk but it has to be deviled.  lol

4) Protein powderpacks  I bought a sampler pack off of Amazon for Syntrax and it included 26 individual packets of different flavors.  I brought only the fruity flavored ones with me (not the creamy ones) and while I was out, I would get an unsweet tea and mix in the packet (e.g. Roadside Lemonade, Peach, Fruit Punch).  23g of protein AND hydration!  I also unsuccessfully tried to add it to a bottle of water that had too narrow a neck.  I wished I had my shaker bottle but that would just be one more large item to schlep around.

5) Homemade tofu jerky  I make this in the oven after slicing extra firm tofu into thin slices and seasoning with whatever I have on hand/am craving (e.g., sriracha, jerk, garlic and smoked paprika).  3oz of tofu jerky has 9g protein.  Not to mention tofu has all 8 essential amino acids, iron, calcium and more!

6) Homemade protein gummy bears  I have various recipes for this but mainly it involves, high quality gelatin (I use Great Lakes), Unjury unflavored protein powder and sugar free jello mix. I have silicon molds and can make a batch of 150 in ~ 10 minutes plus the cooling time.  Each gummy bear has 1 g of protein and is a nice, easy way to get me to my protein goal.

7) Dried seaweed snacks  Okay, doesn’t really have protein (1g per 0.17oz package) but I love salty and savory treats and this one packs a punch as it delivers iodine, B6, potassium, iron.

8) Premier Protein bars  I use these sparingly as they have 30g carbs (yes, some are sugar alcohols) but also give me 30g protein.

9) TVP  (textured vegetable protein) – “is a highly nutritious soy product. It is incredibly wealthy in complete protein and contains no fat, so it is an excellent alternative to meat. TVP is made from defatted soy flour that has been cooked under pressure and then dried.  This is another snack trick to add to food while out (e.g., soups where it absorbs the fluid or salad where it acts as croutons).  Each 0.25cup has 12g protein.

 

Snacks that sucked:

There are some snacks I tried that absolutely sucked and those include dried edamame, dried soy nuts and dried chickpeas (which violate my low carb rule anyway).  While all are packed with protein punch, I found the texture off and they all were incredibly, incredibly dry.  No matter what seasoning I tried, they were bland and moisture sapping on my tongue.  I won’t be buying or making these again.

 

Restaurants

I found that it suited my purposes (only eating small amounts) and situation (traveling solo) better to enjoy happy hour food at the bar.  One place had deviled eggs on their HH menu (to die for!), another had a caprese tower (tomato season! squeeee!) and another had this riced cauliflower and tofu concoction.  Since I was still backpacking through the towns, I couldn’t have leftovers unless they would last without refrigeration.

 

So there you have it!  Surviving a quasi-backpacking holiday in a developed vacation destination 5 weeks post-op.  If anyone has any more ideas on protein snacks to-go, please leave them in the comments so I can check them out!

CurvyMermaid

I took a solo trip to Martha’s Vineyard this past week.  It was my first trip to MV, although I had been planning to go ever since I read a book set throughout the island over 10 years ago.  I was worried I had made MV grander in my mind than it ever could be with a visit. Haven’t we all been disappointed in that way?  Someone talks up a movie, a book, the newest and fanciest gadget?  Then we go, see, do and are left with a feeling of betrayal – it didn’t live up to the hype.  Would MV be the same?

Martha’s Vineyard wooed me.  It lured me in from the book I read and then, as I explored each of the quaint towns, made me fall in love.  It is unapologetically pretentious in some towns.  The yachties were in full force in their deck shoes, khakis, colored belts and collared shirts. Their wives in elegant shift dresses and minimal, but I have no doubt costly, jewelry.  The people watching entertained me for hours upon hours.  I went to artist markets and talked with the locals creating beautiful, original pieces.  I got to know the areas away from the major towns during my explorations and that is where I identified with MV more.  Here were the hard working men and women who kept the towns running while the summer people came and went.  I live in a community that bustles over the summer and becomes desolate during the winter.  I am a year-rounder in my community and I recognized the same grit, patient endurance of the summer folks and perseverance in these people.  I felt a kinship to them and it made me feel even more comfortable in my own skin – and apparently it is making me wax poetic a bit, lol.

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During the five days I was in MV, I walked, and walked, and walked. Miles each day on cobblestone walks and sidewalks, beaches and dirt roads.  But my biggest NSV (non-scale victory) was the hiking trail I did on Wednesday. Because I was using the bus to get around I had to time my hike to hit the bus returning on the hour, rather than miss it and have to wait on the side of the road for the next one.  I set myself a goal of two hours and off I went.  Climbing the first peak to the expansive overlook was only a small challenge and I quickly continued on.  Once I passed the first loop where the first overlook was, I never saw another soul. It was like the trail was my private adventure and test of endurance for this new, lighter body. Down through scrub oak and amidst the trees before getting a peek at the ocean from a second overlook and continuing downward to the beach via dirt ‘steps’ pockmarked from rain erosion and neglected care.  Yes, in my mind, I knew that each step downward meant that there would be steps upward – and considering I had been going down for quite some time, it was going to be BRUTAL! I made it down to a beautiful, secluded beach covered in multi-colored stones from pea to bread loaf sizes, very reminiscent of a trip I took to La Push, WA.

Enjoying a brief respite by the peaceful yet chilly water, I turned around and mounted the stairs and THAT is when my endurance started.  Up and up and up and up.  Did I really go down this many steps or steep slopes? Heart pounding and breathing heavy, I am not ashamed to say I had to give myself a pep talk a few times over the next 45 minutes.  I only let myself rest briefly twice, enough to gain my breath and not pass out! At one point, I jogged a bit down one of the few downhill areas because it was getting close to the time where I would either make it to the bus or *just* miss it.  ‘You got this. Push a little harder. Feel the burn.’  I broke free of the tree line and was at the road – did I make it? Was I too late and left sitting roadside for the next hour? Panting heavily and sweating profusely, I paused and took a moment to relish in the fact that I had just done 2 hours of almost continuous hiking on very rugged, uneven up and downhill terrain with ZERO knee pain.  ZERO. Not a twinge, not a tweak, not a sharp painful reminder of the acute, immobilizing issues I have been dealing with for the past year.  Instead I felt amazingly alive. I’m only at the start of my weight loss journey but this trip….this trip in its solitude but also sense of comradery with other year-rounders, was just what I needed.  After this sappy revelation lasting all of 30 seconds, I looked up to see the bus rounding the corner.  I flagged it down and boarded it with shaky legs. Onto the next exploration with a secret smile on my face for a NSV embedded in so many others.

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CurvyMermaid

O-N-E

O -pportunity

N - ausea

E – xciting

In my head I sometimes forget that I am only one month post-op and look down, expecting to see my new svelte body.  LOL I feel like strutting because I’ve got this secret.  I have a tool and it works, will work, is working.  It’s not some fad diet that will cause a yo-yo of regain.  While not yet svelte, I have lost a significant amount and am starting to see changes -  less knee pain, the ability to buckle my PFD while working, droopy drawered swimsuits, less lead when diving.  Mostly my emotions hover around the hope and impatient spectrum.  I am hopeful for this tool and impatient to get to the goal.

My focus this month was not really on the weight loss surgery recovery but on a continually misdiagnosed condition that was an undesired souvenir from a research trip to Africa two months ago.  Why bring home a snow globe when you can bring home an infection that robs you of the use of your dominant hand? Biopsy results came back today and this third go round of medication attempts should work – although the side effects include lovely things such as nausea, lack of appetite and sense of taste.  Perhaps rather than WLS, I should market this new pathogen and treatment? Although the possibility of liver failure may deter some…

I’m excited to see where month TWO takes me – starting with my first trip to Martha’s Vineyard next week!

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Sampling at Dawn (photo modified by a color filter)