What Do I Do With Those Plus Size Clothes?

One of my favorite pastimes has always been inventorying my wardrobe. But after my weight loss surgery, my closet looked unfamiliar, and each time I entered, I had to remind myself where I was, and who I was too. A regular activity was figuring out what to do with all the plus size dresses, suits, gowns, etc.

At first, I considered getting them altered. After all, I did spend lots of money on my wardrobe and had some especially nice work clothes, but I suddenly realized I didn’t like the same style anymore. It all looked so dumpy to me—and too long and heavy.

And, for God’s sake, why did I wear so much black, gray and navy blue? I mean, I know why—dark colors make us look slimmer, but it just wasn’t me!

There is one suit jacket I’ve held on to. Weirdly, I received lots of compliments when I wore this particular jacket, and it made me fill thin even if I wasn’t. Pretty ironic, since I kept this jacket around to remind me of how far I have come, and slip it on sometimes when I’m feeling fat. These days, you could almost fit 2 of me in it.

Anyway, I had a ton a clothes that needed a good home, so I finally took a trunk-full of suits to my local Dress for Success organization.  This is an organization that helps women in transition find clothes appropriate for interviews and new jobs. Guess what?  They were ecstatic because they were in dire need of size 20 and above.  I felt so good about it. It felt like I was building good karma that would help me maintain my weight loss and create opportunities to buy new clothes without breaking the bank.

Various friends advised me to sell the rest of my clothes on eBay and other sites, but I decided to give them away as well. I put a flyer up in my neighborhood, and a neighbor happily claimed everything I was getting rid of, so I know they’ve found a good home.

It felt so liberating to let go of the past and move on. You don’t need to hang on to those plus size dresses anymore. You’ll rebuild your wardrobe. Accept the fact that you are allowed to bring new style into your life. You’ll look good on the outside. And it will make you feel good on the inside too.

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.” – Tao Te Ching

What do you want to get rid of? Please share in the comments below.

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How Are Your Relationships Since You Lost Weight?

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I became so much healthier physically and mentally after #weight loss surgery. One big surprise was that my relationships have become healthier as well. You might say that any that were not as healthy pre-surgery have faded away on their own in some cases.

The world seems to treat you differently when they perceive you as a “normal” person because you are slim, trim and beautiful. You might ask, “What IS a healthy relationship?” In my view, a healthy relationship is anchored in reciprocity and authenticity. A frequent common denominator of some of my previous relationships was weight-related. We commiserated with each other around the dissatisfaction of being overweight and unhealthy and our activities around futile attempts to lose the excess pounds. I am eternally grateful for these relationships because they provide support in lots of other non-weight related areas. Actually, I still need these relationships and if some folks perceive me differently post-weight loss, then I hope the ups and downs of my #Bariatric Wellness Journey can inspire them on theirs.

I find that relationships with men generally take on one of three different reactions. When they see the new me, they are super complimentary and supportive, then go about behaving the same as before. On the other side, others have a hard time making eye contact, make no mention of the new me and sneak in a compliment quiet enough so their partners don’t hear anything. I feel like I need to go to confession, but I can’t figure out why. There is a third group, others who are also post-bariatric, to them, I become a comrade and sometimes a mentor. Reactions from women are much more diverse, ranging from super-affirming to never calling me again. Most immediately mention their own weight-related challenges.

You might wonder how it’s affected my close relationships such as with my spouse and sisters. With my husband it’s a cat and mouse game. He wavers between being proud of me and chasing me around the house. I don’t mind. (). With my sisters, I’m no longer the “fat” one. We can shop together and it’s fun. We can even wear one another’s clothes. I’m fortunate that they’re so supportive.

My relationship with myself has changed too. I recognize that I matter and I take time for myself to do the things I want. I engage in activities I would never have attempted pre-surgery.
Yes, your relationships will change post-surgery, but the people who truly love and support you, will be there for you. It’s something to meditate about in your early morning sessions.

For more about surgery and relationships, click this link. http://www.bariatric-surgery-source.com/relationships-after-weight-loss.html

Have You Incorporated Strength Training into your Fitness Program?

Guest Blogger Kevin T. Chandler, P.T.

Strength training is critical to pre- and post-surgery fitness. There are many reasons to incorporate it into your program. One reason is that it boosts metabolism, which helps you lose weight faster, especially during the initial period following surgery. Also, if you are new to the procedure, building strength before surgery will serve you well in terms of recovery. And strength training causes your heart to pump faster, which increases cardiovascular fitness and helps you burn calories more efficiently.

If you are new to exercise, start slow with lighter weights. You can use cans from your cupboard as weights, and do push-ups against the wall or with your hands on your kitchen counter, if you are able. Take the stairs to build those quadriceps and hamstrings. Invest in our upcoming FABS™ fitness program.

Exercise can be intimidating, particularly if you have never done it or if it’s been a long time since you have. That doesn’t matter. EVERYONE can move their body, and exercise comes in all forms. Some can walk, while others have developed the ability to run or ride a bike. START WHERE YOU ARE, move slowly until you can move faster, and listen to your body. It will tell you when you are doing too much or too little, so you can make the necessary adjustments. Keep in mind that the goal of your program should be to develop a relationship with fitness. That relationship will be your constant companion on your journey, both pre- and post-bariatric surgery, and will follow you for the rest of your life.

You don’t have to belong to a gym in order to strengthen your muscles. As I indicated, household items can be used to get you stronger. For example, a water bottle filled with dirt, sand or marbles can be used as dumbbells. To add weight to that, pour water into the bottle. Sitting in an armchair with your hands on the arms, you can lean forward and try to push yourself until your butt lifts off the chair. You can also use your bodyweight as resistance. Try standing with your back against the wall, hands behind your head, and slide your back down the wall as you bend your knees. Then, straighten your knees as you stand back up, sliding your back up the wall.

There are loads of other tips like those in our upcoming #FABS™ fitness program. FABS™ will help you to begin that relationship with fitness, and will be your coach along the journey. Based on current science and sound fitness principles, FABS™ is like hiring a personal fitness trainer to guide you through your wellness journey. It has been created specifically with YOU in mind, and will get your body moving like never before. We are excited about its much-anticipated arrival, and we know you will be too! Peace and Blessings.

Kevin

No Shame in Your Game: Time for a reset?

I didn’t realize until this morning’s meditation that Autumn has a sound of its own. I became conscious of the crackling leaves falling, squirrels gathering pine cones and deer scurrying through the recently dried foliage. The fall season always makes me feel like new beginnings. It’s my birthday season. School always restarted in September. The time to prepare for Winter is almost upon us and the new year is coming.

The point is that it’s a time to reconnect to our health goals. Have you slipped some? It’s never too late to recommit to the #Bariatric Wellness Journey. The challenge for us all is to figure out how, when and why we might have fallen off our program. We might not have completely slipped. Maybe our exercise regimen is inconsistent. Possibly our portion sizes are too large. Could be that the pressures in our lives are causing our addictions to sugar or simple carbohydrates to rev its ugly head. The point is it’s never too late to #reset. After all, we are on a lifelong journey and reaching the destination will always be full of ups and downs.

So what do we do? There are several options as I see it. Here are a few:

  1. Visit your surgeon to discuss your situation.
  2. Make an appointment with a nutritionist to reestablish your program.
  3. Assess your current dietary plan, for example, are you drinking enough fluid?
  4. Return to your journal and document your journey.
  5. Purchase some new exercise outfits, wake up earlier and get in that workout.
  6. Calm down through meditation.

Only you can figure out your dilemma. Remember, the surgery was only a tool. The solution is surely comprehensive. But it’s worth it, because you’re worth and I am too.

What are we Weighting For?

During my journey, I have found that nurturing my inner self has been one of the most important keys to my success, especially during the challenging plateau periods.

In order to navigate my way through these periods, I realized it is necessary to reconnect with myself and affirm my sense of self-love and self-worth.

I remind myself that we are already perfect as we are, and that this bariatric wellness journey helps bring that inner beauty out.  It’s a process that applies to our whole selves—exercise, eating habits, fluid intake, looking our best, relationships, spirituality…every part of who we are. My bariatric surgery not only bypassed a section of my stomach, but just as significantly, it bypassed or cut out the illusion of who I thought I was and revealed who I really am.

During my obese life, I remember engaging in negative self-judgment and allowing others’ expectations to affect how I felt about myself. If you buy into the lie that weight loss surgery is the easy way out, and that you are a failure for taking this option, you set yourself up for failure any time the scale doesn’t move downward.

I have come to believe in a new paradigm. I did not have the surgery because I did not love myself. I chose surgery because I love myself, and I love life so passionately that I wanted to give myself the gift of living more fully. Otherwise, why would I suffer the “slings and arrows” of recovery? As Les Brown, says, “Because it’s worth it.”

Some days I barely looked at myself in the mirror below my neckline. But am I willing to dwell on a negative self-perception just because my weight loss slowed down for a few weeks? Definitely not!
In his latest book, The Five Levels of Attachment: Toltec Wisdom for the Modern World, don Miguel Ruiz, Jr. states, “Let us enjoy this moment in life. The past is done, the future is coming, and the best way to say hello is by learning to say goodbye.”

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A Surprising Truth about Relationships and Bariatric Surgery

I became so much healthier physically and mentally after weight loss surgery. Not only did I lose all that weight, but my relationships have become healthier as well.  Some relationships that weren’t so healthy pre-surgery—with other people, and with things like sugar—have faded away on their own, while others I’ve made the effort to transform.

The world seems to treat you differently when they perceive you as a “normal” person because you are slim, trim and beautiful. That reflects itself in the way you behave and experience the world.
A healthy relationship is anchored by reciprocity and authenticity.  A frequent common denominator of some of my previous relationships was weight issues.  Oh how we commiserated with each other around the dissatisfaction of being overweight and unhealthy and our activities around futile attempts to lose the excess pounds.  I am eternally grateful for these relationships because they provided support in lots of areas.

Actually, I still need these relationships and if some folks perceive me differently post-weight loss, then I hope the ups and downs of my journey can inspire them on theirs.

I find that relationships with men generally take on one of two different personas. When they see the new me, they are super complimentary and supportive, then go about behaving the same as before. On the flip side, others have a hard time making eye contact, make no mention of the new me and sneak in a compliment quiet enough so their partners don’t hear anything.  I feel like I need to go to confession, but I can’t figure out why.  If they are post-bariatric, I become a comrade and sometimes a mentor.

Reactions from women are much more diverse, ranging from super-affirming to never calling me again. Most immediately mention their own weight-related challenges.

This isn’t just my perception either.  Researchers from Arizona State University spoke with over 200 adults who had bariatric surgery.  Participants reported they felt better after the weight loss surgery, had more energy and were more likely to engage in social activities than before.

It’s clear, the psychological benefits of bariatric surgery go deep.  But when it comes to relationships, sometimes it’s hard to know how to react to the responses you get.  I try to let me positivity flow outward, and be supportive of other peoples’ choices.  Your true friends will accept the new you, and be there when you need them on your journey.  And of course, you’ll be there for them too.

 

I Chose Healthy Living

I suppose you could consider bariatric surgery a “quick weight loss” program.  But it differs dramatically from everything out there today.

Like most of you out there, I have tried every quick loss scheme in the book. I remember fasting until my tongue turned pasty white.  I spent so much time in the bathroom I considered installing book shelves for easy access to reading materials. Then came the cabbage diet, diet pills, liquid diet, Dr. Atkins, carb-loading, and on and on.

Oh I lost weight all right—only to put it back and invite more fat cells to the party. They even brought some friends along.

Now that I’ve had weight loss surgery, I love the new me and I refuse to go back to the past.  Here’s one of my favorite quotes:

The mental and physical space we create by letting go of things that belong in our past gives us…the option to fill the space with something new.    Susan Fay West

Bariatric surgery, which does result in quick weight loss, is not the easy way out.  It’s taking control of our destiny. It’s making the choice to recognize our shortcomings and develop new strategies to overcome them.

Still, I don’t believe this choice is for everyone. In order lose the weight and keep it off, we have to change our entire lifestyles. Smaller portions are a given, in fact, I never eat off a plate bigger than a saucer or bread plate. I eat more slowly. I put away half or more of my food in restaurants even before I put one forkful in my mouth.  I concentrate on protein first, and I put off drinking anything one half hour on either side of the meal.

Besides changing my eating habits, I work out consistently and generally move around much more. Can’t say I love exercising, but I feel a tremendous sense of achievement after every session.

I probably weigh myself too often, but I try to stay within a 5 to 7 pound range and/or within a normal BMI score. And yes, even though my diabetes went away almost immediately after the surgery, I still take my glucose readings a couple times a month. Can’t take anything for granted.

Oh, I am not perfect. I try to ward off the “dumping” syndrome, but every now and then it catches me. Still, I remain undeterred. I just think of the slinky, fabulous clothing trends that don’t elude me now and the fact that I don’t take any medications, except allergy pills when I need them. Oh, and the looks and the compliments I get are thrilling.

Most importantly, through the quick weight loss afforded me through bariatric surgery, I have discovered a part of me that I had forgotten or buried. My confidence in myself and my future is off the charts. I truly feel beautiful inside and out.

So my advice is this: Love the new you. Do everything you can to keep the weight off.  Join a support group. If necessary, see a therapist, nutritionist, look in the mirror constantly, check in with a shaman, wear knee braces, live on Crystal Light, eat lobster every day, and express gratitude. Whatever works for you.

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Have You Lost Ground Since Your Initial Weight Loss?

I recently watched a documentary on obesity on HBO, entitled “Weight of the Nation”. It highlighted the success stories of two women who lost the pounds after weight loss surgery, and managed to keep them off.

One secret to their success was participating in the National Weight Control Registry, which tracks over 10,000 individuals who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for long periods of time. The program consists of detailed questionnaires and annual follow-up surveys that help researchers identify success factors, as well as areas you may need to work on. Both women claimed that their success was due in no small part to their participation.

I applied to the program and was accepted!

Completing the survey, I discovered the benefits of participating in the Registry myself. The survey helped me identify my current challenges, and the areas of my new lifestyle that needed improvement:

  • I had regained about 10 pounds
  • I had lost a little muscle tone
  • I had been stress-eating

This really gave me some perspective. I revisited my fitness and nutrition plans, thought about how I was doing, and came up with some new goals:

  • Eat breakfast every day
  • Use my portion control tools
  • Stay away from the Pretzel Factory
  • Grocery shop more often
  • Increase the track visits
  • Walk more briskly
  • Pray, meditate and give thanks to God every morning to reduce my stress and help me keep the faith.

Setting specific goals was incredibly helpful, and so was realizing that I shouldn’t beat myself up for a little slippage.  It’s a journey, not a destination. Aside from personal benefit, I have a philanthropic goal of helping others who are on the journey, and making an impact on childhood obesity. No matter what my current stresses are, I am determined to walk the talk and be an inspiration. These are the things I remind myself to keep me motivated.

Finding Your Personal Style After Bariatric Surgery

It might sound surprising but weight loss surgery can leave you struggling to come to terms with the “new you”. Lots of us who were overweight at one time still spend a great deal of time feeling undeserving.

The first time I had a photo shoot to start building my website, I had to confront these feelings head on.  As I made my way into Sephora for my makeover, I thought I should keep the engine running in my car to make a quick getaway in case I was exposed as a fraud. A fat woman trapped in a skinny woman’s body, who had cheated to get there.

What nerve I had wearing skinny jeans and daring to be photographed for the world to see.  My niece came by to help me choose the outfits for my shoot, and when I saw the shoes she brought along, I had visions of falling flat on my face and my feet being permanently frozen in a pixie-like shape.  Oh, the pain.

I conquered my fears, and the session was so much fun. It was very exciting working with a professional photographer, Laura Pedrick, and being transformed by a bona fide makeup artist!  I discovered my runway persona. My mind has still not caught up with my body size and every other week, I see the overweight person I used to be when I look in the mirror.  The doctors say that will go away after a while.

You know what I realized? Yes, we deserve to flaunt our personal styles. After all, it’s not just the outer image that others see, but our style reflects the joy and confidence that we have as a result of our new healthier selves.  Weight loss surgery survivors rock!

I’d love to hear your experience. What do you most want to wear after bariatric surgery?

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Drink Well to Feel Well

I wish that I loved water.  It would be so much easier for me to get in the recommended 64+ ounces of fluid every day since my #WLS weight loss surgery.

You can only drink so many diet drinks, and besides, I’m not comfortable with artificial sweeteners, although I love my sugar-free popsicles.  Fruit juices have too many calories. I don’t want to risk dehydration. I also got a real scare recently when my urine was bright yellow. Thank goodness it turned out to be from my B2 vitamin.

Lately, my Facebook friends have posted some awesome recipes for fruit infused water that look good. I’m going to have to try that.

Staying hydrated is critical, especially when I’m perspiring as a result of my exercise program. So I’m reminding myself of the benefits of drinking pure water. If I think more positively about water, I might grow to love it. Here goes:

  1. Water keeps my skin moisturized and helps with sagging skin issues.
  2. Water lubricates my joints. My knees aren’t the greatest as a result of my obesity years.
  3. Water removes toxins from my body. I don’t want to strain my liver and kidneys for sure.
  4. Water prevents me from retaining fluids.
  5. Water helps keep my blood pressure down. I don’t have a blood pressure problem and don’t want one.
  6. Water helps me exercise longer, which is good for my muscles and will help me lose more weight.

If you’ve come up with good solutions for fluid intake, let me know so I can share!