Weight Loss Surgery

To Tell or Not to Tell

I have lost 76 pounds since January 1st and people are starting to notice. On one hand, it’s very motivating that people are taking notice, on the other hand, it’s kind of stressful and puts me in a position where I feel pretty awkward.

I don’t feel awkward because someone notices that I lost weight, well that does make me feel a little awkward, but usually I feel awkward because the person I am talking to usually asks me what I am doing to lose so much weight and I am never really sure what to say. For instance, there is one lady who works on the same floor as I do that I really like, she and I have had some great conversations and she’s just really nice. She and I passed in the hall on Friday and she told me that I looked good and asked me if I’d lost weight. I told her that I had lost about 75 pounds and she asked what I had been doing to get there. I told her that I was eating less and working out more, but then I felt bad because though that’s true, that’s not the whole truth, and continued to tell her that I had the surgery.  My co-worker who was walking with me asked me afterward why I told people about the surgery and when I explained that I felt as if I was lying if I didn’t, she explained to me that it wasn’t a lie at all as I was eating less and working out more.

I know that there are some people who’ve had the surgery and will not tell anyone, and there are others who have had the surgery and will tell everyone. I think I may be middle of the road on this, but I do feel that not telling the whole truth is still a lie.

If you have had the surgery, what do you tell people who ask, and do you tell those who you really like more than those you just know in passing? I wonder if I am alone in my confusion.

Categories: Vertical Sleeve, VSG, Weight Loss Surgery | 2 Comments

Competition is my Driving Force

I am not a runner – I just need to get that out of the way before I tell you what I’ve been up to.

As I mentioned in my 22 Days In post, once my surgeon cleared me for exercise beyond walking, I joined a gym. My membership came with four complimentary sessions with a trainer, it took me a while to get over my insecurities, but about a month later, I started personal training sessions with a trainer named Shirley.  Shirley, is great, she doesn’t let her clients dial it in, so every time I meet with her, I know I have to give 100%, even if I don’t feel like it. She pushes me farther that I would ever push myself and I’ve noticed that I am stronger and have much more stamina than I did when I first started working with her a couple of months ago. One thing I love to do outside of the gym is participate in 5K runs. If you have never heard of a 5K run, it’s a timed event where participants run, walk or jog/walk 5 Kilometers (3.1 miles) – many of these events raise money for a charity or specific organizations, some do not, they are strictly for competition purposes.

My first 5K was way back in 2004, the day before my 33rd birthday. I had met and bonded with a group of remarkable women who were on the same weight loss/getting healthier journey that I was on and we participated in the event as a group. I fell in love with during that first race, it was a wonderful feeling to be among hundreds of runners, yet only competing with yourself.  I did two races that year before getting bursitis in my left hip and plantar fasciitis in both feet, causing me take a step back from the weekly walk/jog sessions with my friends. It was rough for a few years, I gained some weight back with the lack of exercise and life “stuff” but I continued to participate in 5Ks, off and on completing seven 5Ks between November of 2009 and March of 2016, including an extremely difficult and incredibly hilly race on Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base in Camp Pendleton, California with my friend Molly (still my favorite of all the races).

Now that I am getting healthier, I decided it was time to get back to it so I signed up for the Evergreen Pumpkin Run, a 5K and 10 mile run through Evergreen Cemetery, boasted as Jacksonville’s oldest operating cemetery. It was my first 5K in a year and a half and the weather was perfect, a beautiful, brisk and windy morning keeping the temperatures fairly low (around 60 degrees or so).  The Emcee was on the microphone, speaking to the crown about the difference between the first and second waves and reminding participants to line up behind their pace flags so I headed to the back of the line, where the walkers are supposed to line up. The starting gun for the more serious runners goes off, and the rest of us slowly proceed to our new starting line, making the pace flags irrelevant. The starting gun for the second wave goes off and we start moving a little faster, then we reach the actual starting line and suddenly, everyone starts jogging.  I started out pretty strong; jogging and walking an equivalent amount, maybe even jogging a little bit more often than walking. I found a small group of women who were walk/jogging at a steady pace and I decided to keep pace with them, this lasted for the first mile to mile and a half, when I noticed I was starting to slow down. By the time I reached the two-mile marker, I could still see them, but I wasn’t going to catch up to them; I just wasn’t prepared to keep that pace the whole race.

I passed the two-mile marker, I was making good time, but I could tell I was loosing steam, I wasn’t jogging as long as I was in the beginning and my walking pace was slower too. My new pace buddies were an elderly couple and a woman carrying her daughter, but they were still jogging and I was determined to keep up!

The three-mile marker came into view, participants were lined up along the path, cheering us on, the finish line was in sight, I started jogging again; I had to finish strong!  Finally, I cross the finish line, get my much deserved medal, bottle of water and a banana and head home, very satisfied with myself.

My goal for this 5K was to complete it in under 50 minutes – my chip time was 45 minutes and 7 seconds! I am so excited and proud of myself. No, it’s not my best time, but is definitely the best I’ve done in the past 8 years! I plan to do my next 5K on Thanksgiving morning, then hopefully one a month until April or May, when it starts getting too hot to do anything outside.

Like I said, I am NOT a runner, but I am super competitive with myself and I will not be satisfied unless I create a new personal best and it seems that the only way to do that is by running, so I it looks like I might become a runner after all!

2017 Pumpkin Run Results

Pumpkin Run Medal

Categories: 5K Runs, Running, Vertical Sleeve, VSG, Weight Loss Surgery | Leave a comment

8 Life Improvements After VSG

I am not going to lie, there were a few times before I had my surgery when I wondered if I was doing the right thing. I was concerned with the “what ifs”; what if there were complications while I was under, what if I experienced sever pain, what if my body rejected foods once I was allowed to eat, what if, what if what if. I was lucky, obviously nothing happened to me while I was under anesthesia, I woke up right on time. I never experienced sever pain, at first I thought it was because they had me on pain meds in the hospital, but even after I got home, I only took my pain meds twice, once the day I came home so I could nap and once the following night before bed so that I could sleep. To date, my body has not rejected any foods that I’ve eaten, well I take that back, I did try a bite of a Dairy Queen Blizzard and immediately broke out into the sweats, but it was a small bite so there was no dumping and I immediately threw it away and haven’t touched ice cream since, I don’t even crave it.

Below, I have outlined eight (I know, a random number, but I am a random kind of girl!) ways my life has changed since getting the sleeve:

  1. I no longer crave sweets or salty foods.
    Prior to surgery, I was always craving something. My go to’s were key lime pie, apple pie or chips and dip. But after the week of liquid diet and the two weeks of liquids after, I think I finally kicked the sugar/salt demons from my veins. Also, my doctor has told me that sometimes when they remove part of your stomach, they also remove a hormone that causes cravings.
  2. I am not as tired as I used to be.
    Before I had the sleeve, I was always tired and never felt like going out and doing things. Don’t get me wrong, I still love a good nap on the weekends, and I still like to come home and decompress by relaxing in my room and either chatting with my husband or kids or petting on my dogs, but, I am not napping for hours and I don’t feel like death warmed over by the end of the workday anymore.
  3. I don’t cringe when I see myself in the mirror.
    I used to rarely look at myself in the mirror because I hated what I saw, I was overly critical over every lump and bump, but now, I appreciate how my clothes are starting to hang or cling in just the right way.
  4. I have more self-confidence.
    Because I am not hating what I see anymore, I feel more confident speaking to people. No, I am not a networking queen by any stretch of the imagination, but at least when I walk through the office halls or store aisles, I hold my head up and meet people in the eye.
  5. I have let go of most of the self loathing.
    As you can imagine, liking what I see in the mirror and feeling more confident in myself makes it pretty difficult to play the loop of negative self-talk anymore. There are still days when I get upset with myself for not going to the gym when I could have, but I don’t let it get to me like it used to. I think I am actually starting to like myself.
  6. I am a happier person.
    I like what I see and how I feel which ultimately makes me a much happier person. My family hasn’t said anything, but I suspect that I am more pleasant to be around too.
  7. My body aches less.
    It used to be that when I would get out of bed, my entire lower body would ache from what I can only assume is my weight, and a terrible mattress. We have bought a new mattress and I’ve lost 62 pounds so far and it no longer hurts to walk from my bed to my bathroom in the mornings – now if only I could get my eyes to open at 5am, that would be great!
  8. I can wear shorts out in public.
    I live in northeast Florida, it’s freaking hot here 10 months out of the year. Wearing long pants, or even capris is not ideal. Thanks to the weight loss and regular personal training, my legs are starting to finally take a nice shape. They are still super pale, and I do have cellulite and fat knees, but I am way less self-conscious about them. Maybe soon, I will move on to dresses.

I know that I am lucky, I know that not everyone has the same experience, I have good friends who have had terrible experiences, but you know what we do have in common, we wouldn’t hesitate to do it all over again. I am sure there are some out there who would disagree, and I am so very sad for them, but for me, this was the absolute best thing I have ever done for myself, I only wish I had done it ten years ago

Categories: Vertical Sleeve, VSG, Weight Loss Surgery | Leave a comment

3+ Months; Follow-Ups and Personal Goals

Hey everyone, I can’t believe it’s been three weeks since I last posted, I honestly have no idea where the past few weeks have gone, but I promise to be more diligent in my weekly routine from here on out.

I had my three-month follow-up with my surgeon this week. I admit I was a little nervous, because what if he wasn’t pleased with my weight loss so far or what if my blood work showed something was lacking? It’s all good though, apparently all of that worry and concern was for nothing, though I was a little low on vitamin A, he was very pleased with my weight loss. from our first appointment in early January to this past Thursday, I have lost a total of 59.4 pounds, that’s pretty awesome if you ask me, and apparently he agrees — he even went so far as to call me a superstar patient! He was also pleased with my typical menu, though he did tell me to make sure I don’t eat too many mixed nuts as they are calorie dense, but he was impressed that I had pretty much cut out all sweets and additional salt to my meals (both of which I was addicted to prior to surgery). He was also very happy to hear that I had been working with a personal trainer and had been doing strength training as well as cardio. Though he was pleased, I am not off the hook yet as this was just the first follow-up in a series of follow-up that I believe lasts around five years, I have a long way to go and a lot of work to do to make sure that I don’t back-slide on old habits. Some days that is super easy, some days it is super difficult. I’ve been remiss at taking full body photos but I have been taking pictures of my face and it’s sometimes jarring to see my face prior to surgery in contrast to my face now.


The left photo was taken on 1/11/17 and the right photo was taken 9/28/17 – it’s nice to see cheek bones and a chin, but one thing that I notice is how much longer my necklace hangs now.

In other health related news, a few weeks ago, I was chatting with my primary doctor during a routine follow-up and had mentioned that I was experiencing intense hot flashes numerous times a day. We decided to do a blood panel to look at my thyroid levels and my hormone levels to see if I was pre-menopausal (which my doctor and I both agree that I am too young for) or if my thyroid medication was too high, which can cause a number of side-effects including hot flashes. A few days later, she calls me to tell me that my hormone levels are good and that my thyroid is now functioning as hyperthyroidism vice hypothyroidism, that we need to lower my medication and recheck it in a couple of months.

All-in-all, I am very happy with my results so far. That’s not to say that there isn’t room for improvement, in fact, I think it is time to start writing out some goals and sharing them here as a way to help me stay accountable. So, here goes . . .


*At least 20 minutes of brisk walking 3 times a week.
*3 gym sessions a week (either meeting with my personal trainer, working out on the machines myself or classes).

*Log calorie/carb/protein/beverage intake at least 3 days a week.

Do you write goals for yourself, for improved health or otherwise? If so, how do you make sure that you reach them?

Categories: Vertical Sleeve, VSG, Weight Loss Surgery | Leave a comment

Lightning and Winds and Rain and Irma

Hey everyone! It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve posted, but I promise it’s not because I forgot about it, it’s just been crazy hectic here lately.

As some of you know, in addition to my full-time during the week, I am working toward my Master’s degree in English, so this semester I have class after work on Thursday evenings. Well, the Thursday after my last blog post, I was sitting in class, struggling to keep up with my brilliant professor when my cell phone starts vibrating, I tried to ignore it because as I mentioned, my professor is brilliant and he’s also explaining things that were completely over my head and if I stop focusing on what he is saying for even one minute, I will get completely lost. Then the buzz came a second time. This time, I looked; it was my husband telling me that  tree came down in our yard and asking for the number for our property manager. I discreetly found the number and sent it to him, about ten minutes later, my property manager called me, the call went to voicemail, then he sent me a text asking for my husband’s number. Now, I am trying to hide my phone under my table, listen to what my professor is talking about and get everyone everything they need; clearly it wasn’t working. A few minutes later, I received yet another text from the hubby telling me that they had called the fire department, turned off the electricity and were evacuating! To say I was confused is an understatement. I flipped back through my text messages and noticed I had missed one very important text where he told me the house had been hit by lightning. Ok, now I have to turn off my school brain and turn on my wife/mother brain. I packed up my stuff, told my friend what I had just found out and left class to head home.  Walking out to my car, I called home, called my boss to tell her what was going on, called my parents to let them know they might have company tonight and drove like a crazy woman to get home.  I got home just at dusk, using a flashlight and adrenaline, I packed a bag and we loaded up to go to my parents house for the night. We spent the next couple of days making sure the house was safely inhabitable and assessing the damage. In the end, we lost the air conditioner, television, cable box and wireless internet router, plus the network cards in our computers. Our landlord/property manager worked hard to get the air conditioner fixed by late Friday night, we decided to do without cable and a new television for now, and replaced the router and fixed the computers and by Saturday evening, we were all home as a family.

Unfortunately, the fun was just beginning. As we were dealing with all of the house/lightning/electric/air conditioner drama, a little storm south-east of us was brewing into a record-breaking hurricane named Irma. Once we were able to take a breath and relax, we started paying very close attention to what Irma was doing, and she was refusing to make up her mind. It finally became evident, that regardless of what side of the state she was going to directly hit, all of Florida would be impacted. We started preparing for the worst case scenario and stocked up on water and canned goods, enough to get us through a few days without power. By Friday, her path was pretty clear and even though it wasn’t going to be as bad as we had originally planned for, we knew that we were going to be hit with lots of wind and rain Sunday night into Monday. We played board games and snacked on hurricane snacks most of Sunday night, went to bed at a relatively decent hour, mostly because nothing exciting was happening yet, so sleep wasn’t evasive. I woke up around 2:30 in the morning to the fact that we lost power, but quickly went back to sleep until around 9. When I woke up, the winds were starting to subside and by 11, we were able to go out and assess the damages. We were lucky – we were without power, but other than the tree that came down the previous weekend, we had no fallen trees, just an awful lot of yard debris. Our power was restored sometime between 12:30 and 1:00 and the job of yard cleaning has been taking place (very slowly) ever since. As I said, we were very fortunate. I have seen so many images of complete devastation, houses under water and I believe there are still people without power, seven days later. I am grateful that we made it out unscathed, but heart-broken over the flooding I’ve seen in my home town, just one county away.

I admit that I made some not-so-great choices and had my share of junk food during the hurricane;  white rice with my beef stew, a cheese puff or two here and there, a few Ritz Crisps here and there, and even a few gluten-free “Mint Slim” cookies (think of Thin Mints from the Girl Scouts, just not as good) but all-in-all I feel I did ok and since the scale is still going down, I must be right. Since surgery on June 26th, I’ve lost 41 pounds and 54.5 pounds since January 1st. I am 23 pounds away from my second goal, and 52 pounds away from where I think I want to be (but that can change as I get closer). I take it day-by-day, working out and working hard to make healthy choices.

It’s been a pretty interesting couple of weeks for us and there’s even more stuff happening that I didn’t write about, but I will save that for a later blog post.  If you’ve read this far, thank you so much. I know it was a lot of rambling and “stuff” but I truly appreciate your support and your allowing me (and even encouraging me) to share my stuff with you.

If you were in Irma’s path, please reach out and let me know how you fared.


Categories: Vertical Sleeve, VSG, Weight Loss Surgery | Leave a comment

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