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

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

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.

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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 . . .

OCTOBER GOALS

Exercise:
*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).

Food:
*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?