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Summer Vacation, baby!



This is just a general update - I haven’t done one yet this month, so here goes. 

I’m three and a half months into maintenance, and so far, so good. I’m eating quite a lot, but getting used to that, so it feels pretty normal to be stuffing my face all day now. I’m at about 1800 to 2000 calories per day, which is what online caloric needs calculators say I should be taking in for my age/sex/weight/activity level. Here’s what I’ve been eating most days lately: 

  • Breakfast: Syntrax shake with berries blended in
  • Snack: Greek yogurt with frozen berries
  • Lunch: Tomato and pepper and feta salad with olive oil and lemon juice
  • Snack: Bean and veggie salad (usually Indian style stuff that my husband makes, like chickpeas and peppers and carrots and cabbage, sometimes with halloumi cheese, and lots of spices)
  • Snack: cheese and crackers (I found Triscuits at a store here, a once in a blue moon find, so I’m having 6 crackers per day and hoping they never run out…)
  • Snack: Peanut butter protein powder balls - this helps keep my calories high
  • Dinner: beans and veggies, usually (again often Indian food; my husband has been great about cooking), sometimes a veggie burger patty, or Thai curry with tofu or shrimp
  • Snack: often a square of 85% chocolate and a date or two - the dates have a ton of sugar/carbs, but they don’t seem to trigger cravings or hunger.

That’s about 1800 calories. Sometimes I swap out one of the snacks with a protein bar or some nuts. I found a new brand of protein bar called Fulfill (Irish, I think?) and they are awesome like candy bars, but similar macro profile to Quest. Fortunately, I'm OK at stopping at one :) 

Last night I went to a friend’s house, and she had a bowl of Smartfood (yummy popcorn with cheese powder, but real cheese not chemical stuff). This is my kryptonite. I mistakenly had a handful, which due to the magical properties of Smartfood turned into several handfuls. I. Couldn’t. Stop. So crunchy and delicious and moreish, as the English like to say (so good you just want more). It’s easier to just say 100% no, as stopping after one handful is harder for me. I was berating myself for letting my snacking impulses get the better of me, which they did. But when I got home, I checked the nutrition info and two cups was less than 200 calories, which fit into my day OK, so no real harm. However, I did feel that *urge to snack* that I fear, so I know Smartfood is probably not a great idea to keep in my house. Fair enough, I could have guessed that. I would have taken out the whole bag pre-op, so two cups is a pretty good stopping point for me. 

I’ve been stepping it up at the gym lately, doing weights instead of just cardio. It’s interesting and kind of fun and motivating to see the amount I can lift go up. My little teensy muscles are getting bigger. I actually have arm muscles now and some definition in my shoulders and biceps and triceps and stuff. I’m just mostly doing machines at the moment. It’s really helping to tone things up and make me feel a lot stronger. 

This, in turn, is probably driving some of the changes I’m seeing in my body (I’m sure it would be changing anyway, but it’s actually changing pretty quickly). I’ve just today gotten rid of the rest of the clothes I bought when I got to my original GW of 150 (let this be a lesson to you: don’t spend a ton of money on clothes until things settle down!). The things I bought when I got to my current GW of 132-137 are now getting kind of baggy. My weight has stayed the same, but my body is gaining muscle and losing fat, I suppose. I still have more loose skin than I’d like, particularly on my upper arms and on my thighs and bum, but I think that will continue to change for a while, so I’m not going to get too worked up about it quite yet. 

I’m wearing about a size 2 or 4 US, but had the surreal experience of trying on a size 0 pants at The Gap the other day and having them fit. They were a little snugger than I want to wear in this part of the world, so I went with the 2s (!!!???) but the 0 fit on my body just fine. So strange. My normal top size is XS. I really never thought of myself as a S anything in my life, let alone XS, and had always told myself I had “big bones” (that comforting phrase most big people apply to themselves, usually after parents have applied it to them, I suppose). I don’t have big bones. I have medium size bones. Not small! But also not big. I mean, I realize there is definitely size inflation in the world of fashion, so I’m taking my size 0 and 2 with a size XXL grain of salt, but I looked at an old clothing catalog from the 1920s the other day, and my measurements would still put me on the small end of the size spectrum. So, I guess I’m legitimately small now. I don’t feel it, but I’ll accept it. 

I’ve had the lovely experience, a few times now, of trying on clothes at a store and needing a different size while in the dressing room and calling out to the shop assistant to have them get me the right size. Smaller or bigger, doesn’t matter, I’m not embarrassed! I never never never had shop assistants do that when I was heavy because 1) I was often trying on the largest size in the store, and 2) even if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t want the scrutiny so would get dressed, leave the dressing room, and go get it myself. This is a lot easier! Just yell for it. 

Still having problems saying no to things I try on that fit but maybe aren’t the ideal piece of clothing. I’m so used to buying anything that fits and looks halfway decent that I have a hard time putting something back because of the color, or construction, or price, or even just because I might find something similar that might fit more perfectly. “But it fits, buy it!” says my Old Me brain. “In fact, buy one in each color!” My Old Me brain needs to catch up. 

On Sunday, I’m leaving for a trip to France for a few weeks, so I may not be around here much during my travels. Here are some reasons why this whole trip is a huge NSV: 

  • Comfortable plane travel!
  • It’s a walking holiday, so I’ll be putting in 10+ miles per day on the trail, going from village to village - I have done this several times before, but it had gotten to be pretty unpleasant at my higher weights, and I had basically given up on ever doing it again. But here I am! Ready to walk. 
  • I’m not stressed about gaining weight on vacation - I suspect I may lose, just due to walking a lot and not having my normal food around. 
  • I’m not going to track my food intake! <— *record skipping sound* What!?! No, no tracking while in France. Also no food prep, which is a little scary, but I’m taking bars and shake powder, so I’ll get my protein in.
  • I’ve gotten to buy a bunch of hiking-ish clothing for the trip that looks pretty good on me! Usually this is a style of clothing that I shy away from because it makes me look like an unfashionable potato. But now I look like a hiker! Still fairy unfashionable, but in a fit, hiking sort of way.
  • I’m going to be in France and not in a 24 hour a day battle with myself over what I’m allowed to eat. Usually 75% of my brain is busy figuring out what to buy at the next boulangerie or patisserie because “I can’t get this at home, so might as well take advantage while I’m here.” That was a mind-set that always saw me gain a lot on vacations to France (and other places) before, but served me particularly poorly while I lived in France (both times) and led to enormous weight gains each time. Now, I may have a treat now and then, but that’s it. I’m fine with that - my brain is just way less interested in indulgences.
  • I’m going to be in France and be a thin American person, not a fat American person. I hate hate hate how French people generally perceive Americans, and weight is a major factor in that. I’m anticipating that they will be quite a bit more friendly. 
  • I’ve actually been training for this! I’ve been going to the gym like 4-6 times per week for ages, and also hiking 1-2 times per week. I honestly never did that on previous long walks. I just avoided the gym and hoped I’d be OK. 

Here’s hoping my poor, usually blister-plagued feet hold up. I think I’ll get fewer blisters being lighter, but my feet are the weakest link, for sure. I’ve got a lot of miles to walk. Wish me luck.

Last but not least, an update on my prediction about student evaluations. A few months ago, I said I was pretty sure my student evals would be better now that I’m thin because student evaluations are crap and stupid and based on totally irrelevant factors, such as appearance and gender and age and other things, rather than actual teaching proficiency or effectiveness. My evals put me at number 4 in the department, which has 200+ teachers, so yay me. Of course, now I’m pretty sure those numbers say that I’m an awesome teacher and student evaluations are completely relevant and 100% accurate and based on totally legitimate factors… 


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Sounds like you're doing soooo wonderfully!  I can't imagine sizes in single digits, much less a 2 or 0!!!  Go you!!!!

I also can't believe how much you can eat... Guess they were right when we've been told all along that feeding muscle needs more calories than feeding fat (great job on strength training.... That build muscle which ramps up the metabolism!). 

Your trip sounds great and I'm so proud of you already being successful BEFORE you even leave! Our mindset is 99% of the battle and yours is great!  Happy trails, my friend!!!

And awesome job on the being #4.... And of course it is solely based on your skill and ability (now!). You're the best (well one of them at least.... Though here with us, you're#1!!!)

Love reading your updates!!!


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So exciting on all counts! I'm glad maintenance is going well for you. I can imagine it comes with its own pitfalls and it sounds like you're rocking it! 

I have only traveled once in my whole life - to Rome. When I went, I probably should have asked for a seat belt extender, but I just put the belt under my belly and let it cut painfully into my thighs. :(  And I did a lot of apologizing to all my neighboring passengers for taking up so much space. Then, when we got there, the walking was difficult and there were stairs EVERYWHERE. There were side trips I didn't take because my weight held me back. I hope to get to go again eventually - now that my health is better and my size won't hinder me. I'm really excited for you! 

I was wondering about the evals! I'm glad you got great feedback! I am curious about whether or not your weight played a role. I'm sure you're a fabulous teacher! I just wonder if your students couldn't see past your weight before. 

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For what it is worth, I have always had a delightful time in France, both rural and urban - I only have schoolboy French language skills but they seem to do the trick. I think it is because my senses of beauty and hedonism align with the French ones. Even in Paris we have had lots of nice things happen to us; it is such a big city, the degree of rudeness one encounters is no more than one experiences in New York, where people also have to keep their defenses up a bit. 

Have good vibes about your trip; am sure your walking trip will provide you with the opportunity to work off any dietary indulgences you suffer.  My wife and I used to go to Paris and walk, walk, walk, and I would always manage to lose weight despite my too-big lunches and dinners and - gasp - Burgundy or Rhone wines. 

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@CheeringCJ, thanks! Yes, I'm eating a ton now, and the weight just stays the same, so I guess I'm doing what I need to be doing. It's pretty different from what I had planned on the rest of my life being like after WLS, but I guess I lucked out! :D I'm working pretty hard at the gym, though, too. Very excited to test out my new in-shape-ness with a couple hundred miles of walking :blink:

@Cardamom77 - if you're going to travel to one place in Europe, Rome is great choice! New You will have a lot more fun traveling, though, if you can work that into your life - all the hard things are so much easier that it's hard to imagine they were once hard. Stairs are one of those things.

Very happy with the evals, of course. No way of knowing how they'd be if I was still heavier, as there is no control group, obviously... but I assume a more pleasing-to-the-eye teacher gets better scores. I actually saw my score go down over the years as I gained weight (and maybe became grumpier because of that?) at the last place I worked. I mean, they were never bad, but they dipped a bit. The world is a little friendlier to conventionally appearing people. Which works out well for me now... but still seems unfair.

@Gretta yes, very pleased about it all! It's a great way to celebrate.

@Anita62 - Thanks! I'm excited to get on the plane.

@BurgundyBoy Yes, I enjoy France a lot, too. My French is pretty good because I studied there for a couple of years, and outside Paris people are generally quite happy to find an American who speaks French well, so I am usually treated in a friendly way. Such a fantastic country for walking, both in Paris and in the countryside, and the walking should mitigate any indulgences, I think. 

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Enjoy your trip to France, long walks, being a "skinny minnie", and being a great teacher.  

Do you get the long summer breaks that teachers get in the US or is the much shorter summer break used in the UK?


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3 hours ago, Res Ipsa said:

Enjoy your trip to France, long walks, being a "skinny minnie", and being a great teacher.  

Do you get the long summer breaks that teachers get in the US or is the much shorter summer break used in the UK?


Thanks, I wil! 

We get a long break, a little longer this year than normal even, because they ended the year a little early due to Ramadan. It's a good thing we get long breaks because the heat in the summer here is fierce. It's good to get away.

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3 hours ago, Carina said:

Too lazy to calculate it myself, haha...what's your average protein intake on a typical day as described above?

Lazy? Sensible, I’d say! Like 100g normally. Also around 100g carbs, sometimes up to 120 or so. 

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Jen, it is late here and I am tired or I would have a lot more to say. I did want to take the time to thank your for writing and sharing your thoughts with us. I really enjoy reading them and always take something away from them. For instance, there are great sales going on right now for the holiday weekend. I am SO tempted to buy some things now but I know better. We have a great plus size consignment shop and after reading your blog, I am even more determined to stick to the plan of getting a few things there instead of new.

You are such a great writer and I so enjoy reading what you right. Thank you for that.

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On 5/25/2018 at 12:56 AM, Gretta said:

France, summer, muscles, size 2! Heavenly! Way to go!


I love the way that Gretta always seems to sum up what I am thinking so nicely ;) You have quite the knack for that, Gretta.

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15 hours ago, Readytobeme said:

Jen, it is late here and I am tired or I would have a lot more to say. I did want to take the time to thank your for writing and sharing your thoughts with us. I really enjoy reading them and always take something away from them. For instance, there are great sales going on right now for the holiday weekend. I am SO tempted to buy some things now but I know better. We have a great plus size consignment shop and after reading your blog, I am even more determined to stick to the plan of getting a few things there instead of new.

You are such a great writer and I so enjoy reading what you right. Thank you for that.

Thank you, @Readytobeme! I appreciate it. I hope I can help steer you in the right direction a bit, but everyone is different, of course. There’s a balance to think about between rewarding yourself and pumping up your self-image on one hand, and being sensible about the $ per wear on the other. My sad GW clothes didn’t do well in the $ per wear department, but they made me feel really good! 

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