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2013 A Year of My Weight Loss Journey Revisited

So before this fitness for weight loss junkie hits the gym it’s time to spend some time reflecting back on 2013. For today, I won’t be talking at all about the things I wasn’t able to do this year that I had said I would work on or accomplish, instead, I will only be talking about the things I was able to achieve and celebrating what this last year has been for those that have followed me.

In January we gave away some CHIKE protein powder to a lucky DSS Reader and my hero, Transformation Specialist Chris Powell responded to a letter that I wrote him and I won and IPad in the video testimonial contest that the OAC had after their inaugural convention in October.

In February, I became a WEGO Awards Finalist in the Health Activists Awards and was selected as the recipient of the Susan J. Sterling Scholarship to the Cooper Institute and started to realize that I had some body image  issues I was going to have to work through this year.

March brought more neat stuff into the mix. A trip to Ohio with Heather allowed us to spend time with her family and friends and I got to run around in new towns, and see P!nk in concert with Heather and Rachel; oh the stories Heather got out of that trip, there will be mileage for years. March also held a nomination in the 2013 WLS Awards in three different categories and though the reasons were bittersweet, took me to Dallas, TX on an emergency basis so that I could hold my best friend’s (she’s my sister no matter what blood says) hand as she took on a difficult chapter in life.  But where one door closes another always opens, and March brought forth the opportunity for her and I to become even closer than ever, and for a few new friends to cement their way into my life and it gave me the opportunity to start spending time with someone I very much consider a mentor, Bobby Whisnand, the creator of the – It’s All Heart – program.

In the beginning of April I spent my first week at the Cooper Institute where I took the Personal Trainers Education Course and started trying to work more on following my dreams of becoming a trainer and transformation specialist.

Heather joined me in Dallas in April and just as we were about to head back to Oregon, life wrote another chapter for her as well and we were jet setting it back to Ohio to deal with a family emergency there.  Heather and Debby, they are my best friends in the entire world, they are the first two women in my life that made me believe that I could have women who were friends, and this year, they both needed me to be there with hugs and support as they went through losing a parent. In April, with my Father in my thoughts, I was grateful for the lesson he taught me when he left our world the year before and I realized just how much fate plays into thing; losing my father was one of the hardest things I had ever been through, but having that life experience under my belt helped allow me to be there for people who were important to me when they needed it and in some strange way, this offered me the closure I needed to move on in the grieving process myself.

May rolled in and proved to be another huge month for me. First I was off to Central CA to spend a few weeks helping my Godfather straighten up his house, and then I was in LA helping my Mother close a chapter of her life and move on with her grieving as she packed up and left the house that her and my Father had lived in for nearly forty years. It was another bittersweet moment for me; it was hard to say goodbye to the house I had grown up in and the place my Dad had always considered home and it was difficult bringing my Father’s ashes back with me. But being in Los Angeles at the right time opened up another door for me and gave me the opportunity to make one of my “Wishes for 2013” come true and I got to meet my hero Chris Powell in person. I got to talk to him and his wife Heidi Powell, and that experience was absolutely amazing. I think we all have that Celebrity that we look up to and think, wow I wish I could meet them, they might like me, and we might be friends. Getting the opportunity to actually meet and talk to Chris and Heidi Powell and establish a line of communication with them that would extend throughout the year, was amazing. Their words of encouragement, wisdom and advice in difficult times have gotten me through a lot of dark places this year and meeting them is one of those moments I just know, positivity impacted my life.

In May I found myself in Las Vegas at the WLSFA Meet & Greet. This time allowed me to; once again connect with friends in the Weight Loss Surgery Community. I got the opportunity to meet some people I hadn’t gotten to meet yet, to reconnect with some people I hadn’t seen in quite a while, and I got the opportunity to meet Carnie Wilson. It was an amazing weekend full of faces that I love and I started to realize for the first time how much of an impact my blog and my sharing my weight loss journey had on others. That trip also gave me the first experience of a speeding ticket and zip lining; I could have passed on the ticket though. Coming back from Dallas in May I spent a little more time with my Godfather and another door opened for me when he decided that he was going to give me the money that it would take to have the final round of plastic surgery I felt I needed to have in order to be happy with my body. This changed the direction the rest of my year would go in and that last round of reconstructive body contouring after massive weight loss took precedence over everything else.

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1012342_676650495694757_382660225_nIn June, I decided that I needed to go back to Dallas, finish up my courses at the Cooper Institute and spend some time really focused on achieving this goal I have of obtaining my personal trainers certification. That didn’t work out quite as I had planned, (I still need to get my certification) but June was full of progress and positivity. I ran my first official 5k with my family at the suggestion of my sister Debby, and that event set a fire under my butt. Two days later I ran my first half marathon in honor of my Dad on Father’s day, and from there, I started adding running events to my already hectic schedule. Again, life puts you in the right place at the right time, because my deciding to go back to Dallas to do all of this and listening to the suggestion of my sister, opened several doors for me. It is where I met Tammy, who would become one of my dearest friends over the course of the next six months that led me to the Tabs event, which lead me to achieving the sponsorship I needed for the biggest contest I have seen done in a blog giveaway within this community. June ended with the launch of the “How do you Celebrate Success” contest and a DSS reader received airfare, transportation, hotel accommodations, race entry fees and a park ticket  to go to Disneyland in Anaheim CA and participate in the 2014 Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend with me.  There were a couple of other big moments in June too; my sister and I did the NKOTB (New Kids on the Block) Concert, I got to meet every member of the band, and Jordan knight rubbed the back of my head, TWICE! (I’ll be telling this story for years!) I also received my completion certificate in Coaching Healthy Behaviors and Weight Control Strategies, making me a Cooper Approved Wellness Coach specializing in Weight Loss and Weight Management.

July held a few firsts for me; my first Kayaking trip thanks to Tammy, my first color themed 5k thanks to Kevin, my first ride on a motorcycle thanks to Robin. The end of the month was mainly filled with the experience of my fourth round of Reconstructive Plastics after WLS and my spending a lot of quality time with friends and family as I recovered from my surgery. This was a very special time for me, a time filled with people who are near and dear to my heart.

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August came and my body image issues began to creep up on me as I struggled with the scale not bouncing back where I wanted it to be post op reconstructive plastic surgery. It took a very special group of women in my life, and the additional words of wisdom from Chris Powell to get me off the scale, get me out of the panic I was in and help me get through that moment. I owe some big thanks you to the women that saw me through that horrible place in August, Debby, Heather, Tammy, Merril, Kesha, and of course, Joy, I don’t know what I would have done without you ladies except maybe curled into a ball in the fetal position and cried until Christmas. But armed and blessed with the help of my friends I found the light quickly and came back around and by the end of August, with stitches from a quick nip tuck to fix a dog ear between my newly augmented breasts I was off to Phoenix AZ to not only attend, but speak on a panel at the 2nd Annual Your Weight Matters Convention hosted by the Obesity Action Coalition. This event is one of the highlights of my year. It was attending this event in October of 2012 that really cemented the fact that I wanted to become a Transformation Specialist, and though I am not there quite yet, the journey I have been on in the now 14 months since that first convention, what I have done and accomplished since then and where this year is ended me, is definitely all heading in the right direction. Speaking at the YWM2013 Convention was such an honor for me; it allowed me to see this moment where I had come full circle, the first year I was an attendee and the second year I was a speaker. That convention allowed me to spend some time with Joy again; something I really needed; I’ve talked about how the OAC has changed my life, and it has in many ways, it’s helped point me in the right direction several times; what I forget to mention sometimes is that it brought my second sister into my life, it’s where I met Joy, and the instant bond we had is something I’ve only ever experienced with her and Debby, it goes beyond friendship and blood, those women are my sisters though we have no blood ties. We finished out August with a trip to the Oregon Coast to hang out with some very special friends that I owe to the Las Vegas event to and then I spent my 37th birthday having a nice run with my Dad as I started working myself back into exercise and launched the #20Week2Tink Virtual Event as Dawn and I began our five month training for the Tinker Bell half Marathon.

September was all about me getting my run back on. I did a Color Run 5K and the Kiss Me Dirty Mud Run with Jennifer and Kevin Mahoney and the groups they put together and I took a little time to sit back and reevaluate where I was, and where I wanted to be by the end of 2013. I decided in September that I was going in a different direction, it was time to change Desperately Seeking Slender a little, start making plans for what it would be in 2014 and, I needed to get my head space wrapped around some rather personal decisions I had going on in my life.  I had some things to figure out, and when the opportunity to go spend some time doing just that came up in the form of a trip to North Carolina, I jumped on the chance.

I find my clarity when I run. So in October, right before I was about to leave for North Carolina and what would end up being a month of self-reflecting and deciding what was going to happen next, I decided it was time to put another half marathon on my list of accomplishments for the year. Just like I had back in June I set out on a run that morning thinking MAYBE I will just run an entire 13.1 today, I don’t have too, but if I want to I can. I did and I left Oregon mid-October with a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence that I needed.

I spent October and the first part of November surrounding myself with nothing but positivity and doing things that made me happy. I did another color themed 5K at the Color Me Rad in Wilmington NC and took a group of Weight-Loss friends and blog readers with me. I ran whenever the urge struck me. I dressed up for Halloween, I when thrift store shopping, I bought new clothes, I wore high heels a lot, I rode a Ferris Wheel for the first time, I ran on the beach for the first time, I ate Ethiopian food, I went to RenFest, I watched movies, and I feel in love with North Carolina.  I cooked a lot, healthy cooking, and encouraged the people around me to eat healthier and to adopt healthier activities and I met with some people who ran clubs and gyms and fitness centers in the area; and I fell in love with North Carolina.

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When I got home in mid-November it was time for the Holidays, and before I knew it, I was cooking Thanksgiving dinner, hunting down Christmas presents, hanging a tree, and pondering one of the biggest decisions I’ve made in my journey thus far. (We’ll talk about that more this coming week) Somewhere in the midst of all of that in the last six weeks I froze my butt off at the Jingle Bell 5k Run with a group the Mahoney’s put together again, did zoo lights with Heather, ran another half marathon, and have started putting together the plans for the next chapter of my life…

I started 2013 at weight of 160 lbs. My weight through the year balanced out at about 165 lbs. and though I’ve struggled with wanting to see lower numbers, 165 lbs. seemed to be where my body is the most happy and after a year of working on body image issues, and being able to accept myself at a Happy and Healthy weight instead of chasing the number on a BMI chart, 165 lbs is what I consider my goal weight and were I consider myself in maintenance.

I could blame the weight gain I experienced in the last six weeks on Holiday eating, stress eating and what not, but I’m pretty honest, and I think that honesty and forwardness is something my readers appreciate from me.  The regain I experienced; came from not following the rules. It came from consuming too much alcohol, (I like beer, beer LOVES my thighs) – I’ve learned a 10 pound lesson about how turning to alcohol as an escape from your problems can cause you more… I had 10 pounds of problems to prove it and my scale showed 175 lbs. at the end of November.

December 2nd the gloves came off and I stood up and took the reins back. I immediately went back to the basics, food tracking, exercise tracking, making sure I get my water and vitamins in and start following all the rules again. I got back down to 169 lbs. right before my friend visited from California and between a week o f eating out and drinking and with far too much sodium on board this morning I’m sitting at 172 lbs.

Some people might look at that and say; it’s okay, so what my weight is going to fluctuate, but anyone that reads my blog knows I have suffered with some obsessive compulsive issues with numbers on the scale and so it’s very important for me to put it in perspective. 2013 has been a full year for me.  I’ve been through a lot. At 165 lbs I am maintaining a 255 lb. weight loss. Knowing I will never stay at the exact same weight constantly and that the number I see on the scale will fluctuate is something I have come to terms with this year. I have learned that I am not defined by the number on the scale, nor am I defined by the number on a BMI chart. My success is defined by the choices I make and what I do with the life I am building for myself. I know that the scale is going to show me numbers that range anywhere from 160-170 throughout the year. When I see a number higher than that I know I need to look at what I’m doing and ask myself if I need to make changes or if I need to do something differently. This isn’t obsession anymore, its weight loss maintenance and accountability. With everything I have accomplished this year, I find no shame in the 7 lbs. of weight gain I need to tackle now, it just means I’ve allowed myself a few too many liberties in my eating and drinking in the last few weeks and it’s time to buckle down again.

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And that my friends, is my 2013 year in review. It’s been an amazing year, and so many things have happened. I want to thank each and every one of you for being a part of it with me. I want to thank each and every one of you that has been a part of the emotional growth I have experienced this year, and I want each and every one of you to know how much you are loved and appreciated for what you have brought to my life and allowed me to bring to yours by being a Desperately Seeking Slender reader.

There is no way that I could mention the names of every person that has touched my life this year in one blog, though I wish I could. But please know that if your name is on my friends list, if you are a DSS reader, if you’ve followed me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or any other social network, if you’ve ever commented, liked, shared, re-tweeted, or repined something I’ve posted; If you’ve spent even the briefest of moments with me this year, been the giver or recipient of a hug or a kiss;  That you have been a part of an amazing year where my journey started to mold and take on the right direction and I came out on the other end of some big obstacles in my journey.

2013 Is almost over, and 2014 is almost upon us. I hope that every single one of you can look back on 2013 and smile and celebrate the accomplishments you have made and hope that 2014 serves as a means for us to all start working on achieving happier and healthier lives together.

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Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.

Avoiding High Risk Behaviors after Weight-Loss Surgery

This was going to be a Facebook post – but really, I felt it was more appropriate to share with a larger reader base.  The topic of taking pain medication after weight loss surgery is the buzz today thanks to a great article [ Weight-Loss Surgery May Add to Painkiller Dependence, Study Says ]

99c6dea8283811e3942f22000a9f140e_8Prior to my RNY in October of 2010 I was diagnosed with chronic back pain and muscle spasms as well as chronic stress and anxiety and I was on a mixture of pain killers, muscle relaxers and anti-anxiety medications. ( Vicodin, Soma and Ativan )

Let me interject a moment and say that I believe that often times the pitfalls we have the most experience with and are armed with the most education about, are often the ones we can avoid because we suspect that they might be coming.

I was very lucky to have had some exposure to the Online WLS Community before my surgery and I knew that I was very likely going to be the type of person that ended up with cross over addictions since I am indeed an addict. My addiction was food, but in my teens, it was other unhealthy substances, emotions and actions; because as an addict I can pretty much get addicted to anything that gives me a good feeling.  Thankfully I was able to prepare myself for fighting the temptation to allow myself things I felt could lead to dangerous places if I allowed my doing them to get out of hand.

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That doesn’t mean I am not addicted to anything, I am. I’m addicted to the adrenalin rush I get when I exercise, to the emotional rush I get out of helping others. I’m addicted to video games and have to only allow myself to play them in moderation or I can suck entire weeks out of my life devoted to playing them.  These are just a couple of the more healthy behaviors I allow myself in order to make certain I stay on a path of wellness.

I come from a family with a long line of addicts.  I’ve been around heroin, meth, prescription drugs and sex addicts since I was four years old. I promised never to be THAT person and I have no doubt that keeping that promise to myself has been a fundamental part of my continuing to be able to find healthy addiction alternatives.

I can honestly say that I am probably an exception to the rule here – I tend to be a little … different? But education and preparation and communication have gone a long way in this journey for me. I have not had a script for painkillers or muscle relaxers since my RNY other than after Body Contouring and Reconstructive Plastics Surgery [ WLS Plastics from the Patient Perspective ] which was hundreds of times more painful than my Gastric Bypass was.The article brings out a very prevalent point of truth though;

“Narcotics may not be absorbed the same way after a gastric bypass as they are before a gastric bypass,” said Sabowitz, who practices in San Antonio, Texas, and serves as an adjunct assistant professor of medicine for the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. “Maybe one reason narcotic use increased is because people were getting less narcotics [in their system].”

I am not a doctor, but based on personal experience I would agree completely with this statement.  Medication tolerance issues and not getting enough delivered to your system can be a prevalent problem.  I’ve had two different plastic surgeons and in both cases their staff had “Concerns” about the type and amount of narcotics I seemed to need to be comfortable and I could see signs that they suspected drug seeking behavior. My actual doctors never displayed those reservations however,  because we had discussed it openly ahead of time and obviously here I am not quite three months out of surgery taking no pain medication… I was off pain medication by week 6-8 post op.

There are so many things we are not warned about going into weight loss surgery, especially when it comes to the emotional aspects of the journey, and let’s be honest, often times it is the emotional aspect that leads us to addictions.

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I invite you to take a little personal inventory Slender Seekers, are you exhibiting addictive behaviors? If so perhaps it’s time to reach out and get help before these unhealthy behaviors become problematic for you.  If you’re not great! But if you are the type of person that has past addictions and you know a transfer addiction could be a risk, maybe it’s time to do a little “Me-Work” ( That is what I call homework I do for self-improvement ) and create a preventative list of things you realize you MIGHT be easily drawn too.

If we prepare for the obstacles ahead of us on our journey buy recognizing when there could be a problem, we are more likely to make emotionally and physically healthy decisions when those obstacles arise. An obstacle like understanding that we may be predisposed to an addiction to prescription medication is what I would consider a High Risk Situation, and overcoming a high risk situation can be a big challenge if you are not prepared and you don’t have a plan of action and a good support system in place just in case it happens.

I think when it comes the Wellness part of our weight loss journey, we have to understand that investing a little time in early preparation helps us live up to that old adage, “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”  There is a page in my WLS Wellness Journal titled “Risks I won’t take”, it is an exercise I do when I feel like I might be facing some very big upcoming obstacles and I want to develop a strategy for how I might handle it physically and emotionally.  I’ll share it here just in case you want to develop your own “In Case of Emergency Plan.”

[ DSS – In Case of Emergency Worksheet ]

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Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.

 

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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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