Update: A year down the road – what I’ve learned

This has been a very important year for me. Since April last year my daughter has turned 21, my son has turned 18, I have started writing my first YA novel, and of course I had lapband surgery.

Over the past 12 months there have been huge ups and downs. Remarkable highs and gut-wrenching lows; but through it all there’s been hope, and support, and a faith in myself I didn’t know I had.

My total weight loss so far stands, as of today’s date, at just under 35kg. At my last visit to the surgeon, where they track my progress, I discovered for the first time what my suggested goal weight is: 89 kilograms. Fourteen months ago I would have looked at that figure and laughed, absolutely certain I would never reach it. Now, it’s a little over 12kg away and I know, I KNOW, I will reach it. In fact, I might even get a little lower if I’m lucky.

So, what has this road taught me?

First and foremost it has taught me to love myself. To give myself time, to look after myself, and to be kind to myself. When that band is just not letting any food through, and you feel defeated and angry and want to curl up into a ball in a warm dark corner. You learn to speak kindly to yourself, to accept the limitations the band imposes on you and to keep going.

I have also learned that no matter how crappy a day seems, tomorrow will come and  most of the time it will be better. Your full stomach won’t be as full, the weight you can’t seem to shift will eventually move, that pair of pants will start to feel looser. Time is the friend of the lapband – in many ways. You have to take more time to eat, you have more time to enjoy the taste of your food, and because you are generally only eating 2 meals a day you have more time for other things.

Travelling down this road has also shown me how to accept compliments – how to accept that I am worthy of them, and how to celebrate my achievements. It has also taught me to be very honest with myself and others. When people comment that I “look well” and then ask the inevitable”So, how have you done it?” question. I tell them. I tell them that I had life-changing surgery just over a year ago after deciding something had to change. I tell them that it has made my life better in so many big and small ways, and that I will be forever grateful that I had the chance to make that change before it was too late. Many people are taken aback at first, but when they see how happy I am and hear how honest I am being, they are supportive, and excited for me.

On this blog I have recounted the small victories; the new clothes, being able to climb stairs I couldn’t climb before, being able to move my body around, the reduction in joint pain and back pain. Every step I take is another towards the biggest victory of all – that feeling, that knowing, I am in CONTROL and I will never be that other person again.

I feel rewarded every day. I feel grateful every day. I feel worthy every day. I feel proud every day. My little band of saline has encircled my life and I will never look back – no regrets and all JOY.

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A day I could only imagine 12 months ago. 30kg down!

Ten months after I started this long road, I have reached another notable milestone. As of today, I have lost 30kg. I put some weight on over Christmas and I have spent the past 2 weeks or so trying hard to get rid of it. I think it was mostly due to an increased consumption of alcohol and non-diet soft drink, and of course reduced physical activity because I am on school holidays. Lots of Netflix and knitting on the couch (not to mention HEAPS of reading) have not made for a very active lifestyle lately!

My eating patterns have certainly changed since the band was tightened. I generally only eat 2 meals a day now. If I have breakfast, lunch is often off the menu and then I have dinner. If I have do have 3 meals, I usually can’t manage breakfast the next day. And ALL the meals are MUCH smaller now. I reckon I eat about a quarter of what I used to eat in a day – which is mind-boggling really.

Last week I started walking with a friend, which we plan to do once a week, and I have started investigating local gyms with pools with a view to join before school goes back. In the meantime I am trying to go out somewhere each day that involves me doing at least a little walking, and it has clearly made a difference. Even walking around Chadstone or Southland from one end to the other has been enough to push things along. I guess that’s another lesson learned. Even small amounts of physical activity, done daily, are better than nothing at all, and can have an impact. Now that I CAN move around I am looking forward to starting back at a gym and doing some classes (I love the Les Mills Body Pump and Body Combat classes), as well as swimming. I will also look at doing some PT for a while so that I can improve my care strength. I was thinking about going back to Pilates, but my heart’s just not in it! It was interesting to go through the exercises with the physio, but I think if I find the right place, I can find a trainer to help turn my core fitness around. This is to hopefully eradicate my sciatic issues, or at least mitigate the likelihood of those problems recurring.

For now, I will enjoy how being 30kg lighter feels, and plan how to fit more physical activity into my day when I am back at work. I am thinking about getting to work earlier and walking around the block before starting my day – I reckon that could make quite a difference – but perhaps not on the really hot days! We shall see.

Onward – and downward I go…

28kg down, and a look back

Sue28kgDown2

Today I decided to take some measurements to go along with weighing myself. I thought it would give everyone who reads this blog, and myself, a more complete idea of how things are going. I also took a photo to include with this post – because I am at a point now where I LIKE having my photo taken, and I LIKE how I look. It’s a confronting thing to admit to yourself that, even though you are known as a bit of a selfie queen among your nearest and dearest, you kinda took those shots DESPITE not liking yourself very much. It’s amazing how many things a smile, or pulling a funny face, can hide when you want it to.

Today is a landmark day. I am the lightest I have been in about 7 years., Seven years of hiding behind smiles and duck face poses. Seven years of manufactured bravado that is now at an end.

So, the measurements. I am only going to put up the first set and the most recent set. It illustrates just how far I have come quite well. I have taken measurements once a month since I started, but now I can see the differences as well as feel them, and it is the change in these measurements, in LOOKING smaller, that has resurrected my confidence. Of COURSE the health benefits of losing weight are the most important thing, but this is pretty cool too!

24/3/2017   (two weeks prior to surgery)                                                                      18/12/2017
R thigh: 89cm (35″)                                                                                                             R thigh: 73.5cm (29″)
L thigh: 89cm (35″)                                                                                                              L thigh: 73.5cm (29″)
Bust: 119.5cm (47″)                                                                                                             Bust: 104cm (41″)
Waist: 105cm (41.5″)                                                                                                           Waist: 94cm (37″)
Hips: 151cm (59.5″ – the WHOLE tape measure)                                                       Hips: 129cm (53.5″)
R calf (swollen): 54.5cm (21.5″)                                                                                      R calf: 48.5cm (19″)
L calf: 52.5cm (20.5″)                                                                                                          L calf: 45.5cm (18″)

As you can see, there have been some BIG changes in my body shape. I find it amazing that my current waist measurement is almost down to what ONE of my thighs was before I had the surgery. Mind boggling really. These measurements are the reason I will once again need to head off over the summer holidays to buy more new underwear, and some new clothes as I head into the autumn months because I only have one pair of heavier work pants that stay up now!

To those of you reading with me as I travel this road (I can’t bring myself to call it a journey – ugh), thanks for the support and the positive comments you leave along the way – they mean a lot. For those who are on the road beside me, doing the hard yards like I am (and there are still VERY hard days), hang in there! It’s worth it, I promise, Every day it gets better, and even if there are hurdles, there is nothing you can’t climb over or smash down!

Onward, and downward!

A bit of a rough patch…

There have been a few ups and downs over the past 8 weeks or so. My weight went back up a little and then I plateaued, and while I was not putting on ANY weight, I was not losing more either.

About 2 weeks ago, I had a frightening episode at work where I had severe chest pain and shortness of breath. I was on my own in the library, but managed to call the school nurse who came straight away and called an ambulance. After 11hours in the ED of a local hospital, and three blood tests, they found nothing wrong with me, but I am booked for a follow up appointment next month. Fortunately I am feeling well, and my bariatric surgeon reckons it might have been an oesophageal spasm, caused by a small piece of food lodged and unable to easily move through. This actually makes sense to me, but at the time I was very scared.

At my regular clinic appointment this week, I had only lost 0.7kg so saline was added to the band. This always means that the next week to ten days is difficult as I change my eating habits again to adjust to the smaller opening. Today, for instance has been a BAD day. All I have managed is a piece of peanut butter toast. Breakfast, for the time being, appears to be off the agenda. This is pretty shitty for me because breakfast is absolutely my favourite meal of the day. And it is, hands down, my favourite meal to go out for. So, eating is currently not a fun activity for me. Well, that’s not completely true. Eating is enjoyable, the regurgitation when things back up in the small space is definitely NOT.

The good news is that I have lost 2kg in 5 days. I am now back to the 24kg loss mark and set to pass it next week. I believe by the end of next week I will be below 110kg for the first time in about 7 years. I am looking forward to things settling done a bit over the next week or so, and finding my new eating level of comfort. I can certainly attest to not being interested in eating much, and that is one of the aims of the exercise. In the meantime, I have a slew of school and other events over the next 7-10 days – all based around food. Dinners, drinks parties, and so on. At least I won’t have to worry about not having enough to eat. A couple of mouthfuls will likely suffice in most cases. It becomes more about the company than the food, more about the celebrations than the cuisine.

But of course, no matter how much I try not thing about the food, of course it is upper most in my mind. When I enter a venue, I note where the toilets are, so that I can easily make my way there if I have a “problem”. There is no way to predict what will get stuck and when after have the band tightened. Food that I have previously been able to handle, might suddenly not work any more, and I have to be able to expel it quickly, so doing a quick reconnoiter as I walk into a new environment can mean the difference between dealing with a problem quickly, or being uncomfortable.

One the of the fantastic things I have experienced recently is meeting up with people who haven’t seen me since before the surgery. This happened at a conference this week, and several colleagues approached me saying they initially hadn’t recognised me because I looked so different. I also found that I could sit for the conference presentations much more comfortably because my bum actually fitted on the chairs properly. It amazing how many thighs like this became everyday things for me. Even travelling on the train was easier because I have ROOM to sit down, and can stand without pain on a crowded train, if I have to.

So, I will start December hoping that by Christmas I will be on the right side of 110kg, and then dip below it early in 2018. Onward. And downward.

No more weeks – just posts. 24kg lost – and the new normal

Stepped on the scales this morning and realised I have skipped 23kg lost and gone right on down to 24kg! This means, for the first time in about 6 years, I weigh less than my husband. Think about that for a minute. It’s mind-boggling. It’s amazing and wonderful. It’s scary that I let it get that bad. Yesterday I found my staff pass photo from 2 years ago. I will post it here along with a current photo, which will demonstrate the point I am about to make.

I am starting to find it hard to remember what carrying that extra 24kg felt like. That’s because now is my new “normal” and the bigger version of me is the past. It’s great, but I’ll admit it’s also a bit scary. What if I forget altogether and go back to my old ways? If I can’t hold on to what it was like to be obese, how can I guard against it? And then I realise that is crazy self-talk. I am not going to go backward, there is only forward in this journey for me. Even if I don’t lose anything for a month, that’s just a holding pattern and we’ll put more saline in the band and set off again. Knowing that I have a reliable and professional support crew at the bariatric clinic is a huge factor. I know that I can call them any time and they will listen. And if they think they need to see me, they will organise an appointment and talk me through whatever it is. I know I have a great group of friends and family who have my back and are cheering from the sidelines, and work colleagues who are interested in the process I have undertaken.

I am leaving Unhealthy Sue behind, and embracing fit, healthy and optimistic Sue instead. Next stop, to drop below 110kg for the first time in 7 years. Stand by!

Me 2 years ago…

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And me now!

Week 22 – 22 kg down and on track for more

Saw my surgeon this week and did not have to have more fluid added. He is very happy with my progress, and my attitude. I should make a note here about my surgeon, for anyone thinking of starting down this road. Make sure whoever you go with is someone with whom you have a bit of a rapport. I really lucked out with Mr Skinner – he is very professional, but with an approachable manner that makes him easy to talk to. He is encouraging without being over the top about it, and is gentle when I have to have more saline put in (thankfully not often so far). I am not sure I would be doing as well as I am without him, and the great team at the clinic, behind me!

So, 22kg lost now, and the prospect of having to buy new knickers looms large. Probably will have to do that this weekend. Might also have to buy another pair of work pants as the ones I bought 2 months ago are now getting too big in the waist! I have noticed an increase in knee pain (similar to what I had when I was 22kg heavier) in the past few days, but I think that is because I am carrying my frame differently now, and things are adjusting. It is nowhere near as debilitating as it might once have been, so still a win.

Still have not joined a gym, but I find that my activity level has increased, particularly on a social level. I find myself saying “yes” to more invitations. In the past I would have made excuses not to go to things because I just couldn’t face them (tired, uncomfortable in my own body), but now I find myself doing a lot more. I am also the first to volunteer to walk across the school to the office now – in the past I would have been quite happy to never have to do that. I enjoy the sensation of moving around – I know that probably sounds weird to a lot of you, but just being able to move, and know that my body will do what I want it to, when I want it to, is HUGE! (or not huge, if you see what I mean!). I think once I finish my Uni course (in about 7 weeks), I will make the effort to book a couple of gym tours/info visits to see what might suit me best.

Until then, it’s upward by heading downward!  Thanks for reading. Next milestone – dropping below 110kg on the scales! That’s my goal for my daughter’s 21st in November. Let’s see how I go!

Week 20 – Fittingly, 20kg down!

I have broken the 20kg barrier as of today, and while that is something to celebrate, I am starting to see that the BIGGER thing to celebrate is the change in how I deal with food.

Before I go on, I should admit that I did try pizza again on the weekend: thin crust, minimal toppings – and it was still a disaster. SO for the record, NO MORE PIZZA! When the rest of the family orders in (which they are perfectly entitled to do), I will find something else to have, even if I have to make it myself. Take away on a Friday night is a luxury we allow ourselves – one night in the week where I don’t have to cook or think about feeding everyone else, a treat. Maybe the time has come for me to find another treat. Maybe a soak in the tub? I might actually fit into the bath now…I will keep you posted on that one!

Anyway, back to how I am dealing with food. Most of the time this is working well.  Most days now I really only have 2 meals (at least through the week anyway). This works well for me in a lot of ways – at work I often don’t have a huge opportunity to eat the way I am supposed to  (waiting 60 seconds between each mouthful) and that has caused issues. I am better off having a decent breakfast (my favourite meal of the day anyway), and then a small and delicious dinner with my family at night. I honestly find now that while I plan what I will eat, and when, food is not what I am thinking about most of the day. I have realised in the past that is what was happening. I was always, in the back of my mind, thinking about what I could eat next. It’s something I didn’t notice until I stopped doing it! I was always looking for “a little something” to “keep me going”. And, hey, I am not saying that I don’t eat the odd bit of choccie or have an occasional bikkie at work (or at home), but it’s controlled and I enjoy it, and then move on.

To some of you this might sound ridiculous, but having less room in my tummy has opened up the world for me in many ways. I am reading more than ever; I knit or crochet every day, which I love; I feel more confident – not because I am lighter, but because I am in control.

On to the next big goal – 25kg down!