Mother of the Bride – Or How Am I Going to Fit into a Size 10 Dress in 16 Months?

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I ask so little of my children.  And when you consider what I’ve done for them – months of pregnancy related illnesses; days of of my life spent trying to get spit up stains out of Every. Single. Favorite. Shirt.; not throwing up when they showed me wiggly teeth until after they were out of the room; countless hours sitting at teachers’ desks for conferences – I really, truly haven’t asked for much in return.

Except that one thing.

Most moms whisper lullabies to their babies as they rock their tiny newborns to sleep.  I sang to the beat of my own insecure drummer.  On any given day, you could see me happily gliding in my glider, singing “Fat Bottomed Girls” to my babies.  Other moms were playing Laurie Berkner on the cassette player while they drove their children to preschool.  My girls listened to Sir Mix-A-Lot and the virtues of a big butt.  Granuaile was serenaded by Mika singing “Big Girl You are Beautiful” as we dropped her sisters off at school and skipped a walk around the lake in favor of going for ice cream.

I felt I had primed them for that one thing I was going to ask.  I laid the ground work for the appreciation of plus sized people.  They should have seen it coming.

“Don’t marry anyone with a mom thinner than me.”

Simple request, no?  Remember, this was in exchange for countless changed diapers, nights sitting up with ear infections and broken hearts, and too numerous to count school plays, concerts, and talent shows.  Yes, I did.  I sat through talent shows.  Even when my kids’ grade performed last.  I know – why have I not been canonized?

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But do they listen to me?  No.  My daughter’s future mother-in-law is down right svelte.  Spindly and sylphlike. Clearly, this kid did not get the memo.  Or the subtle reminders.  Or being verbally beaten over the head with my pleas of a plump parent.

So I am back at the game I have lost so often.  Dieting.  Exercise.  Torturing myself in the name of not being triple chinned in a photo.

Wish me luck.  Say a prayer.  Send me rice cakes.  And if you don’t see this fat bottomed girl at the gym, give me grief.  Just dip it in chocolate first.

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The Demons That Haunt Me

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Obesity is such an ugly word.  I’ve hated being fat my entire life – which is about how long I’ve been fat.  And the weight causes me to hide myself from so many things.  I’m uncomfortable in my own skin most of the time – even when I leave the house feeling like I don’t look too bad.  But maybe I need to be that uncomfortable.

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Me just prior to my gastric bypass (on the right, weighing just over 300 pounds) and about a year ago, weighing about 20 pounds less than I do right now.

The two times in my life I can honestly say I wasn’t overweight were the result of drastic measures.  In high school, I stopped eating.  No, seriously – just stopped.  I drank iced tea all day long, and then for dinner, had small portions of whatever my mother was cooking.  Nothing to eat, all day long, took me from a size XL teenager to a size medium teenager.

The other time, I had gastric bypass surgery.  The surgery took me from a size 3XL woman to a size medium/large.  From a size 26 to a size 10.  And aside from the grey pallor, I thought I looked damn good.  I didn’t – and I had friends and family telling me I didn’t – but I was convinced.

Then I had a couple of surgeries, followed by complications, and with each instruction to rest and recuperate, I ate.  I learned that my surgically altered pouch could hold way more than I thought it could – especially if I ate stuff that was bad for me.

Thank you, Tania Lamb, for the photographic evidence of how far I've let myself go!

Thank you, Tania Lamb, for the photographic evidence of how far I’ve let myself go!

I’ve started and restarted diets more times than I care to count since my surgery.  It really is like an albatross around my neck – and every time I feel like I can lift my head up and move forward, it drags me back down.  We’ve started cooking all of our meals at home, so there are no fast food temptations, but I find myself grabbing a bag of chips or package of cookies every time I hit the supermarket.

And guess what?  I’m about to turn 50 years old.

This last surgery, combined with the realization that I am now only 6 years younger than my grandfather was when he died, and only 16 years younger than my dad was when he died, has issued yet another wake up call.  I don’t know how many of those calls I’ll need before I finally “get it”, but my kids leave for camp on Monday, and Jim and I are going to head back into the gym.  We have no running around or excuses to prevent us from getting there.  And the cookies and chips that I buy because I think my kids need them?  No need to have them in the house for two full weeks.  Maybe by then, I’ll have cured my own need for them.

My most recent blood work came back excellent – and my sugar level (I was full blown diabetic before my gastric bypass surgery) was 85 – which is great.  But the rest of me is a hot mess.  I’m going to see what I can do about that.  Maybe I’ll celebrate turning 50 with a little less of me.

 

The Best Things I’ve Ever Eaten – Disney World Version

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I periodically pour over the Disney World restaurant menus, always searching for new things I’d like to try, but I always have a list of my favorite things.  I’m sure you have a list of things you love, like Lou Mongello’s carrot cake cookie obsession from the Writer’s Stop at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (I really try to love it, Lou, but it hurts my teeth to even think about it’s sweetness!) – and I want you to share it with me!  Here are some of my favorite things to eat at Walt Disney World:

Smokey Portobello Soup – Artist Point
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At Christmas time last year, our waiter accidentally brought a bowl of this smokey, rich, delicious soup to my mother-in-law, who doesn’t eat it.  The waiter offered to leave it on the table, but  my MIL told him to take it back, as we all already had our appetizers (most of which were the soup).  I thought my middle child would burst into tears, as she watched the creamy bowl of mushroom goodness being walked back to the kitchen.  It embodies the taste of a rustic home in the heart of winter, and the flavor will keep you warm your whole trip.

Bobotie – Boma

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Minced meat, spices, flavors of sweet and savory, all baked into an egg mixture – oh my goodness.  This very traditional South African dish is an explosion of flavors that leaves my mouth very happy.  It’s comfort food at its finest.

Kakigori – EPCOT

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It’s August.  In Florida.  Where there is only one way to describe the heat.  Hell-like.  I’ve always thought I could survive the depths of Hades, having done the “EPCOT death march” at the peak of summer.  The big difference?  There is no Kakigori in hell.  This absolutely heavenly refresher is shaved ice, with your choice of a variety of sweet syrup, much like a traditional snow cone.  There are two big differences between the Kakigori and the snow cone you might get at your local fair or carnival.  The ice in Kakigori is shaved so finely, you don’t get any of the big, chunky, brain freeze pieces you always get in a snow cone, and it doesn’t glue itself all together as it melts, as a snow cone sometimes does.  The other difference is the syrups.  These seem not as cloyingly sweet as some you might find for a snow cone, and the flavors are brighter – tangerine, melon, and strawberry – much closer to fresh fruit than the snow cone flavors.  I like to taste the rainbow – and dream of cooler days!

Braised Pork – Be Our Guest in the Magic Kingdom

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Let me tell you, my little Mouseketeers, this is one of the best bargains on Disney property.  Served only during lunch, the pork is cooked like a Coq Au Vin, which is a traditionally French dish made with chicken and red wine, simmered in a pot until tender and delicious.  This dish hits the tender and delicious part spot on, and the serving is a full and generous portion – especially since this is lunch!  You’ll get the wonderfully flavored pork, a healthy portion of mashed potatoes, a gravy filled with carrots, onions and mushrooms, and another side dish of green beans.  Easily a $30 entree at a sit down restaurant with fancy napkins and French waiters, go for a late lunch (no reservations required!!) and make this your dinner.  You’ll have room for a late night Dole Whip snack!

So what are some of your Disney favorites?

 

 

Something Had to Be Done – Starting from Scratch

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Seriously?  Isn’t this where it all began??

I have battled weight my entire life.  I was a chubby baby – some babies look like the Gerber baby.  In pictures I’ve seen, I look like the Michelin tire man.  I was fat through elementary school.  By 8th grade, I was tired of kids making fun of me (Oh yes, dear children, we had bullies back in the day before bullying was big business), and crash dieted myself thinner.  I ate nothing.  No, that’s not a typo.  I skipped breakfast and lunch every day, in favor of sweetened iced tea.  For dinner, I ate as little as possible, and some more iced tea.  Some nights, I ate saltine crackers in place of dinner.  I got thin.  But, of course, that whole eating thing crept back into vogue, and I got heavy again.

My first “get real” diet was with Jim.  Planning to get married, I hoped to be a size 12 instead of a size 18, and he and I both joined NutriSystem.  We lost weight, we felt healthy, and while I was a size 12 in real people clothes, I still had a size 18 wedding gown 🙁  It was discouraging, but we were both in peak shape.

Well, until I got pregnant.

I battled again – after Brighid; after Eilis; and even after Granuaile.  I never got back to the size 12 I wanted to be, but instead got up to a size 26.  Well, I think 26, because I bought only stretchy things – mostly size 3X.  I was bigger than Jim.  With so many people promoting weight loss surgery, I jumped right on the bandwagon.

I have touted weight loss surgery as a great thing for me.  It was.  I’ve had complications, to be sure, but I am so grateful to have lost 150 pounds.  I do not think I will ever see a size 26 again, but I have fallen off the wagon.  I have gone from a low of a size 10 back up to a size 14/16, and it’s scary.

We have gotten into bad habits.  With school work, night classes, and overall busy, pizza seems like a good idea at least a couple of nights a week.  And come on, who eats one slice of pizza?  Even gastrically altered, I can eat at least two.  And if it doesn’t get put away right away, I can go back for a third later on.

I have to get back to the gym, when life settles down in two weeks.  And I am going to.  But my diet needs to improve.  Portion control needs to be a priority again.  Eating to live, not living to eat needs to be the focus.

So here we are, back at the beginning.  I am trying 30 days of NutriSystem to see if it can help get me back to where I belong.

Pray with me.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

 

This is me today; me at my lowest; and two pictures of me at my highest.

Mother Knows Best – 30 Days of Thanks, Day 3

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When your mother asks, “Do you want a piece of advice?” it is a mere formality.  It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no.  You’re going to get it anyway. – Erma Bombeck

Today, my husband posted a picture of me on Facebook that I hate.  It was taken last Christmas, up 40 pounds from my lowest post gastric bypass weight.  I wore all black, as you do when you’re trying to conceal rolls of flab, and when the pictures came back from the photographer, I realized I discovered what Jabba the Hutt would look like had they bothered to clothe him.

My husband looked for people to tell him how awesome the photo was.  He loves the picture.  But my husband, who spends 23.7 hours of his day thinking of ways to “get lucky”, isn’t the most impartial judge of how good I look.  He’s quite certain – as am I – that telling me I look like a clothed Jabba the Hutt would mean that 23.7 hours of that particular day would have been a complete waste.  But he got several people to say that yes, I did indeed look good in that picture.

Then he asked my mom.  I believe this is her exact quote, “No, it’s not a good picture!  It shows how fat she is again!  I don’t know why you would spend all that money to have surgery only to get fat.  Is it time for birthday cake?”

I kid you not.

So as we enter the 3rd day of thanksgiving, I am thankful for my mom.  What? you ask.  Someone says something like that and you are thankful?  Yeah.  I am.  Because it’s always my mom who will be honest with me.  If I ask her opinion or her advice, I’m going to get it, followed by, “But you’re going to do what you want to do anyway.”  But she is honest, and even if the words sting, they are the words I need to hear.

My mother is also an awesome grandmother.  She is so generous with my kids, she treats them all the same (although I suspect she may have a favorite), and even at their worst, she loves them as if they are at their best.

My mom has bounced back from some awful stuff.  She’s suffered tragic losses and battled life threatening illness.  But she pulls no punches, loves us with everything she is, and honestly, she’s just bad ass.

I am thankful today for my mom.  We were very lucky to get the mom we did.

What Good Came From Gastric Bypass Surgery?

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I’ve posted quite a bit about some of the negatives and side effects resulting from my gastric bypass.  I’ve even mentioned the downside of weight regain – which I struggle with on a minute by minute basis.  But there are benefits that far outweigh – for me, anyway – the risks I undertook.

When I decided to have surgery, I had just watched my father fight – and lose – his last battle with diabetes.  I sat in a room with my dad’s brothers and sisters, who came from various parts of the country to be with us in hospice, and realized that we were all diabetic.  As my dad slept fitfully on one of his last days, his youngest brother by his side, all I could think was that I hope and pray my young cousins never have to sit like this and watch their father die from this horrible disease.

And then it struck me that I never wanted my children to sit and watch me.

After losing the first 50 pounds, my blood sugars became normal.  Not only did I no longer have a need to test seven times daily, I also stopped needing medicine.  My blood pressure, which really was in the medium to high normal range, is now low normal – unless it’s the night before a chemistry exam.

I didn’t know how much the excess weight slowed me down, and honestly, I thought I was a damn mobile big girl.  But when I lost 100 pounds, and realized I could get down on the floor and not have to crawl to the sofa to lean on it to get up, it was an epiphany.  I volunteered more at school, after backing off when Brighid was in elementary school.  I went in one afternoon to read to her class, and one of the boys told her I was the fattest mom ever.  He was an expert, having a pretty enormous mother himself, but it occurred to me I might be an embarassment to my kids, so I didn’t go back to school to volunteer.

I also didn’t put myself out there for things – like applying for the Walt Disney World Moms Panel.  But then I lost weight and found courage.  I can’t tell you how happy I am that I did.

I didn’t know my quality of life was as poor as it was until it got better.  And it did.

So, yep, there have been a lot of pitfalls in my journey through gastric bypass.  But the days when I’m flying high make every small stumble worth it.

Kale Chips – There Just Might Be Something to Healthier Eating

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So, you know when you’re on a diet, you start missing food.  You may not have even eaten all that much of it when you weren’t dieting, but as soon as you feel like you can’t have something, it becomes The. Most. Important. Food. EVER.

Chips are kind of that food for me.  I could go from birthday party to birthday party and rarely think about eating a potato chip or a Dorito.  But put my fat arse on a diet and tell me things like chips are a forbidden food, and I won’t rest until I have some.  So there.

But today, I’m here to tell you that my chip crisis has been solved!  Thanks to my fabulous friend Faith, I have discovered the joys of Kale Chips!  Yes, that’s right, kale.  As in the green, curly, leafy stuff that you move off to the side of your plate and act like you don’t see it there.  Someone once described the taste of kale to me as a cross between a brussels sprout and asparagus.  I once described kale to them as something I’m not eating, even in the event of an apocalypse, where the only thing that survives on this earth is me and kale.  So how can calling something this nasty “chip” make it so appealing?

Before attempting, I grilled Faith on the important stuff – taste, texture, and kid rating.  It all sounded positive, so I picked up an enormous bunch of kale at the grocery store and figured I’d give it a try.  If nothing else, it was $2 towards my free Easter ham from the local ShopRite.  And honestly, if they’re terrible, it’s not my fault – kale is supposed to be terrible.

These were oh my gosh so easy to make.  You wash and thoroughly dry your kale leaves, and separate them from the thick vein that runs through the middle.

When you’ve finished, rip any big pieces into bite sized (chip sized!!) pieces.

My $2 bunch looked like quite a bit of kale, especially when ripped into pieces.  Don’t worry.  The mound of kale will soon be reduced dramatically.

Once your kale is clean, cut, and ripped, you drizzle olive oil and some seasoning on it.  I used just sea salt on most of it, but on a small batch, I used Garlic Bread Sprinkle from McCormick.  It contains a little garlic powder and a tiny bit of parmesan cheese, and is great to make garlic bread or to sprinkle on popcorn or vegetables.

I tossed the kale in a big bowl in the olive oil and seasonings, although you could probably just as easily use a cooking spray.  When I was sure I’d gotten some of the seasoning on each piece, I put them on a flat cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

In the oven at 350 degrees, my chips were ready in just about 12 minutes.  They should be crispy but not burnt (the crispier they get, the more delicate they are, and the curly parts get crumbly).  They are delicate and crispy, and I’m not sure which I loved more – the salted ones or the garlicked ones.  Both are absolutely delicious.

Now, you can certainly make these less healthy by adding too much oil or the parmesan cheese (which really was just a tiny amount in what I used), but kale on it’s own has only about 25 calories in a cup.  Even if you add olive oil and salt, you still have a snack that’s less than 3 grams of fat and under 60 calories.  Compared to the over 150 calories and nearly 11 grams of fat in an ounce of potato chips, and you’ve got a healthy, kid friendly snack that you won’t have to sneak around to eat once you tell people you’re dieting!

Thanks, Faith, for the great idea!

Gastric Bypass Surgery – What Happens When You’re Gastrically Altered?

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Yep, that’s me.  It’s July 2006, just one week before my  Roux-en-y gastric bypass surgery.  Yeah, I tipped the scales at over 300 pounds.  I was a big fat ass.  Can you believe I thought I looked good in this photo?  Can you imagine what photos of me that I didn’t like looked like?

But making the decision to alter your body so drastically is only the beginning of the decisions you’re going to have to make.  Let’s hope you’ve done your research, you’ve checked out the doctor and the hospital you are going to work with, and you feel confident – if a little nervous – about your decision to have your surgery.  But what comes next?

I’ll be posting a series of blogs to help you get through some of the post op stuff – the stuff you may not have had a chance to talk about with your surgeon.  We’ll talk protein (blech!), we’ll talk losing your drawers when you sneeze because they’re too big, we’ll talk about adding exercise and how important it is, and we’ll talk about plastic surgery – because, honestly, it’s where a lot of us end up.

So stay tuned.  Once a week, we’ll tour that unknown world of what to do once you’re gastrically altered!

 

So How’s That Weight Loss Thing Going?

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Yeah, well, ppffffttttt.  That’s how it’s going.

After a great first week, the second week, things slowed down to nothing.  And then there’s this week.  Monday was Valentine’s Day, and Jim took me out to lunch, and the kids out to dinner – except, yeah, I went too.  And when you take kids out to eat, you take them to restaurants where you know kids will eat – not those fancy gourmet restaurants that give you just enough food to make you want to stop at Burger King on the way home.  My kids chose the Chinese buffet.

Fortunately for me, Chinese food generally makes me deathly ill, but I can eat my weight in the little sugar coated nuts they have at the buffet.  And as we know, my weight is substantial.  That’s a lot of nuts.

Then came Tuesday, a day where I did nothing but run errands all day.  And it was Eilis’ birthday!  So after we picked up three dozen heart shaped doughnuts for her to celebrate at school, we followed that up with taking Eilis out to dinner Tuesday night.  Yeah, Granuaile and I went too.  And Eilis picked the restaurant.  Famous Dave’s BBQ.

And with all that fat already on my arse from the first two days of the week, I do what every chunky chick does – I threw in the towel on the rest of the week.  I was stressed over school, over some issues with a friend, over my mom (who is back in the hospital as of this evening), and it just seemed like that last box of chocolate covered peanut butter cookies was screaming to me from the hiding place they were in.

So, I am up 2 pounds this week.

But I haven’t fallen completely on my face.

I am back on the bandwagon tomorrow.  Rally the troops, call in reinforcements!  I’ve got to just keep swimming…..

To My New Good Friend and Gentle Reader, Carrie!

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My new friend Carrie took the time to post a comment on one of my Blog Posts (find the original post http://beautygirlsmom.com/2010/06/14/i-took-the-easy-way-out-gastric-bypass-surgery-bitching/ ).  I’m taking the time to answer her!

Dear Carrie:

Unless you’ve had the opportunity to know me and my reasons for having Gastric Bypass Surgery, I wish to politely invite you to shut the hell up (whew, I avoided the “f” word this time – quite a feat considering I have absolutely NO self control, as evidenced by my need for gastric bypass surgery).  I don’t believe I was bitching about my surgery at all – I was bitching about the ignorant woman at the airport who sat in a seat eating doughnuts and drinking soda, all the while talking about her phenomenal weight loss through diet and exercise.  Because I recognize that gastric bypass surgery was my choice, I don’t bitch about the procedure.  I may have complained now and again about the things I experience as a result of this choice, but I never bitch about the choice itself.

And Dear Carrie, if you bothered to get to know me, you’ll know that I have had gym memberships.  I’ve been at least partially responsible for our local gym owner having the ability to send his daughter to private preparatory schools.  While that may make me a martyr of some kind, I don’t proclaim to be a martyr, neither for being such a generous contributor to a child’s education, nor for my gastric bypass surgery.

I’ve had the common sense to put my fork down; and I’ve had the common sense not to put my fork through ignorant people who think that we all have the ability to make a few lifestyle changes and be on the road to skinny.  Jaysus, I’m showing an awful lot of self control for someone who couldn’t stop eating!

You suggest a lifestyle change for people who have weight loss difficulty.  I made one.  It certainly wasn’t a lazy route.  Jenny and I are on a first name basis.  The Fresh Diet failed me until I was fresh out of money to pay for the pricey service.  Weight Watchers watched my ass get bigger every time I went to the meetings, after a week of eating their recommended amount of food.  So you see, Dear Carrie, I’ve exhausted every carefully constructed weight loss method before making the lifestyle change that led to my surgery.  Please note the use of the word “exhausted” – because that’s not something lazy people get very often.

We don’t all have the ability to follow the food pyramid, the USDA recommended dietary intake, and expect to be average sized people.  If you had bothered to get to know me before accusing me of being lazy, you’d know that I suffer from PCOS, a disorder of the endocrine system, making it difficult for me to lose weight.  Not that I’m using that as a crutch to stuff my face full of Twinkies, but it is a fact of my biology that weight loss is not as easy as giving up cookies and cake.  And I would guess that there are other people out there who have turned to Gastric Bypass Surgery who have similar metabolic disorders or thyroid conditions that make losing weight The Dear Carrie Way less than ideal.

And let’s give credit where credit is due.  Lots of us got fat because we ate too damn much.  But whether it’s stress; depression; a coping mechanism – for some of us, food means comfort.  It’s an addiction, like alcohol, tobacco, cocaine.  There is a euphoric high after you eat a slice of cheesecake, and a terrible guilt as a fat person when you do.  To regain the feeling, you eat another; and another; and another, until, ultimately, you’ve eaten the whole damn cake, you feel badly about yourself, and you fear judgement from people like Dear Carrie.  That sets up the whole cycle all over again – you eat to feel good, you feel badly when you do, so you eat more to feel good.

So tell me, Dear Carrie, if my therapist and yours went head to head in a psychological Top Chef of sorts, which one of us ends up with the more normal patient?  Mine at least knows my issues.  Does yours know how angry you are at fat people?  You might want to bring it up at your next session.