Ch-ch-ch-ch-chaaaanges!

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*dusts blog off*

Uhhh…hi guys!! So, it’s been a while, eh? Sorry about that, but a lot of stuff happened this past year. I had a lot of time to think on my solo road trip to Florida to visit my dad back in March of 2016, which lead to a few major, major, life-changing decisions.

As many of you know, I changed jobs back in September of 2016. I left my job as an admin assistant and dove back into the world of IT after realizing that while I enjoyed admin work, it wasn’t fulfilling or challenging enough for me. Through a staffing agency, I was placed on the internal help desk for a company in Mount Laurel NJ, so I get to spend my days answering the phone, joking with people at my company, and laughing like an idiot with my fellow coworkers. This is the happiest I have ever been with a job in my entire life, which speaks volumes–the last time I was this happy at work was my last help desk job. For those of you who know anything about Myers-Briggs, I waver between ENFP/ENFJ, so this should come as no surprise. I’m still a temp, which is not ideal (a permanent job with sick days and benefits would be better), but I love  my company and coworkers, so I can deal with it. My shift is a weird one (not the typical 9-to-5), but it works perfectly for my schedule.

The other major decision that occurred on my road trip was one that I had come to a while back, but didn’t know how/when to act. I figured out the direction the wind was blowing my in March, made my final decision in October, and set things into motion in the new year.

On April 20th, just one day shy of my 5th wedding anniversary, I filed for divorce.

This was not a decision I came to lightly, and I won’t get too deep into it for personal reasons and out of respect for my ex-husband, but it was the right decision to make. I still care for my ex and it was as amicable as a divorce could be–there wasn’t really any fighting and, thanks to awesome laws in NJ that make mediated divorce super easy, it only took about month once all the paperwork was filed. I have no anger, no regrets, and I wish my ex nothing but happiness, peace, and the best life and future.

I moved down to South Jersey to be closer to work and absolutely love it here. I live 10 minutes from my job, 15 minutes from some of my best friends, and about 20 minutes from Philadelphia. I am local to everything!! There’s so much great stuff down here–South Jersey is absolutely fantastic; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Stitchy and I have a (mostly) quiet 1-bedroom apartment with a porch (which she loooves) and all the amenities. I’m slowly unpacking all of my collectibles and figuring out how to display everything–I’ve still got a bunch of stuff in a storage unit up in Lawrenceville, but I’m moving things down here gradually so I don’t have to unpack it all at once. I spend most of my free time reading, cooking, catching up on TV, and playing games. It’s heaven.

I’m still coming to terms with everything that’s happened. I’m living on a single income, which is a bit of a challenge, but not one I’m not able to face. I’m learning a lot about myself, mostly that it’s okay to put myself first. I’ve become the queen of saying ‘No thanks’ to things I don’t want in my life–negativity, self-doubt, passive-aggression, and the like. I’m opening myself to love, light, and happiness.

The biggest thing I’ve learned in all this is that I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do (with the exception of the socially-acceptable things, like working and wearing pants in public). It’s wonderful to look at the people/things surrounding me and the things I do and know that they’re present and happening because I want them to be…if I wake up one day and don’t want them anymore, I can change that. I have cultivated a close group of people who support and love me for who I am, despite all of the changes to my life and the upheaval I’m still in. I take my time experiencing everything I can now simply because I can. 

I don’t really have a good zinger/ending for this post, but I do have a solid piece of advice: Live your best life. Do what makes you happy. Life is too short for regrets and compromises; I consider myself lucky that I figured it out relatively early on in life.

Treat yo’self.

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Hello beautiful people!

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I seem to have suddenly gained a lot of views from Canada–hello to all of my Canadian visitors (and everyone else)!

So, Friday was a big day for me–my one-year Surgiversary!

At my highest weight, I was 292 pounds, tired, and feeling like a 60 year old woman with all of my aches and pains due to my weight. My knees hurt, my back hurt, my feet hurt, and my heart hurt from seeing myself miserable. I told myself that there had to be a better way, and after lots of research, I underwent a vertical sleeve gastrectomy. A year ago today, at this exact time, I was in a hospital room recovering. I was so nauseated from the anesthesia/pain meds/empty stomach for surgery and I was miserable, wondering what I’d done to myself and whether I’d made a mistake.

That was the last time I felt truly miserable about myself. Since then, I have lost 101 pounds, but I have gained so much more. I have gained knowledge of eating right. I have gained good habits. I have gained back self esteem that I didn’t even know was missing. I have gained a new respect for myself and what I can do. I have gained a whole new wardrobe and a love for fashion that I didn’t even know I had. But most importantly, I feel like I’ve gained myself back.

If you wake up in the morning feeling miserable about the way you look and/or feel, take time to reflect about what would make you happy and what you have to lose by taking that first step–chances are, you will lose nothing but regrets and “what-if”s. Take that first step, whether it be exercising more, eating less, taking the stairs, or a drastic route like mine. You are stronger than you think. You can do this.

#BlackLivesMatter

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In the wake of the violence of this week, I feel it is important to stop everything and make sure that my stance on everything is known. I have had personal milestones that I’d love to share with you, and I will, but right now, what is going on around me is more important than me personally–it is about us as a civilization, as a country, as a community.

This is my official disclaimer: I am not saying that you need to support–or even agree with–my stance on the issues surrounding race in the United States. I would love if you would join me in standing up for Black lives, but at the end of the day, I can’t make you. If you can respect that, you are more than welcome to stay. If you can support that, you’re more than welcome to raise your voice with me–as a matter of fact, I encourage is wholeheartedly. I am open to respectful comments and debates from both sides. However, if you cannot (or will not) conduct yourself with respect here, I ask that you do not comment and will not be offended if you choose not to read any further. I respect my readers and their opinions with the expectation that they will respect mine in return.

I had a debate with someone last night about why ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ is important. Her constant argument was that “all lives matter” and “whites are shot more than blacks though! Why isn’t that being pointed out?”

My skin is white. My racial background is that of an Eastern-European Jew–Danish, British, German, Welsh, Polish, Romanian, Italian, and some other country that I can’t remember right now, but is undoubtedly White. I have two skin tones: Casper-white and sunburned. I could never be mistaken for anything other than what I am: a white woman.

And that’s why #BlackLivesMatter is important.

#BlackLivesMatter is important because I don’t have to be afraid that I’m going to be shot at a routine traffic stop. Because I don’t have to worry about people crossing the street and walking on the other side simply because of what I look like. Because I won’t have my wrap sheet and mug shot be the first thing that comes up in the news if I commit a crime or if a crime is committed against me. Because there likely wouldn’t be a discussion of whether or not I “deserved it” or “shouldn’t have done” something if I were shot. Because I am seen for more than just the color of my skin BECAUSE of the color of my skin, when so many others are not.

Now, that said, I absolutely DO NOT condone the actions of the Dallas shooter this morning. I do not condone police brutality, nor do I condone the senseless murder of police officers.The #BlackLivesMatter movement is not about revenge or vigilante justice. It is about accountability for the actions of the judicial system towards people of color. I do not support those who shoot first, ask questions later, as so many officers have been shown to do as of late. That is not justice. That is not keeping the peace. I am, obviously not, a police officer, but I have read the opinions of others who are, and I am of the opinion that there are plenty of methods of detainment and questioning that do not require the use of lethal force.

I support the men and women in blue who act respectfully and accountably within the confines of their badge. They are the true examples of justice in this country; the ones who fight against the corrupt within their ranks, who recognize that sometimes, the police are in the wrong, that recognize that keeping the peace and justice are about more than just who has the bigger gun and who is able to shoot first.

At the end of the day, however, this is not about whether cop lives matter, whether all lives matter, or whether some lives inherently matter more than others. This is about why Black lives matter RIGHT NOW, and why they’ve been fighting to matter for the last 300 years. This is about white privilege and white supremacy, and how they exist in this country whether you like it or not. This is about the disproportionate amount of violence and vitriol thrown at Black lives in this country and what I–and we–can do, should do, and NEED to do to stop this. If we cannot stand together, united as a country, regardless of the color of our skin, then we cannot stand at all.

And this is why she’s my best friend

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Jacquie: i also want to throw a massive proper shower for someone that’s themed damnit
themed something other than “baby”*

Me: you can throw me a not-a-baby shower

Jacquie: maybe if you adopt another animal, i’ll throw you a fur baby shower

Me: oh god
Me: that’s a little too close to cat lady territory

Jacquie:LOL
Jacquie: and actually that’s sorta a cool idea
Jacquie: and a chance to get people off your back once and for all if they were ever pressuring you to have kids

Me: that’s like, “how dare you insult me on this, the day of my cat’s quinceañera” crazy

Jacquie: omg how old is Stitch?

Me: lol, she’s 7

Jacquie: you just wait 8 years
Jacquie: a cat quinceanera is a thing now

Me: YOU ARE NOT THROWING MY CAT A QUINCEAÑERA

Jacquie: “but she could dance with Smoke! Smoke could be her date!”

Me: “…I don’t think biting someone’s face off on your first date is a good precedent to set for a relationship”

One Year

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One year ago today, I was in the midst of my mandated pre-op diet. I was counting down the days until I could schedule my surgery, anxious to hear from the insurance company that I was approved. I was conscious of every bit of food I put in my mouth, convinced that if I splurged even a little bit, the whole shebang would be shot to hell, I wouldn’t qualify for surgery, and it would all be for nothing. I was driving myself crazy with the what-ifs, not fully convinced that getting VSG was practical, feasible, and the right thing to do. I was hearing encouraging words from one side and fear-filled, panic-stricken words from another. My head and my heart would agree, then go out of orbit with one another, pulling me in two different directions. I would stay up most nights, thinking about the positive and negative impacts this surgery would have on my life, falling asleep thinking one thing and waking up thinking another.

What a difference a year makes.

A year ago today, I weighed in at 286ish. Today, I’m down to 201.6 and I couldn’t be more pleased. I’m ready to be in Onederland (that glorious place where your weight starts with a 1), and I’m so close!! I never, ever, in a million years thought I would get back down to this weight–if you’d asked me in high school where I’d be at this stage of my life, I know one of my descriptors would be “overweight” or “fat”. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am still those things–clinically and emotionally–but I don’t see them as a bad thing anymore, at least, not like I used to. My BMI is still in the “overweight” range (currently at 36.9, down from 53.4), but I look at my numbers and could cry. For somoene who used to be 292 lbs, 201.6 is amazing.

A dear friend of mine is contemplating this surgery. For anyone else out there who is doing so, please listen to me: this surgery was the absolute best thing I’ve ever done for myself in my entire life. I am so, so glad I did it and would make the decision to do it all over again if given the chance.

But enough about me, dear reader. The rest of this post is about you. Yes, you, the one in the back who has decided to have weight loss surgery.

Please don’t misunderstand; this life choice is anything but easy. You’re going to have good days and bad days; you’re going to have to make major changes to your lifestyle and you’re going to have to confront your inner demons.

If you go through with your decision, here are things you will think:
“Oh man, I”m so friggin’ hungry right now,” (pre-approival insruance-mandated diet)
“Is there any leather lying around for me to chew?” (pre-op liquid diet)
“Is this going to be worth it? Dear God, I hope it’s worth it” (pre-op prep period)
“Holy shit, what have I done to myself?” (in the days immediately following surgery)
“Fucking broth.” (post-op liquid diet)

Don’t worry, these are things everyone thinks. They’re completely normal, and once you get into the swing of things, your thoughts will take a whole different path:
“Hey, where’s my broth?”
“Ooh, peanut-butter flavored protein powder!”
“Man, I can’t believe I only got 60 grams of protein today!”
“Holy shit, where’d that 15 pounds go?” (two weeks after surgery, or thereabout)
“God damnit, time for another new pair of pants.” (every month after surgery)

Eventually (and likely sooner than you think), you’ll hit the point where everyone is going to start noticing you’re rapidly losing weight (my best friend asks me to send her pictures nearly every week because my face keeps changing), commenting, and supporting you. Seriously, the amount of people building you up, standing in your corner, and rooting for you is going to be insane. People you thought wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about you are doing are going to come out of the woodwork with comments like, “Looking good!” and “Wow, you’re doing great!” Those people you friended on Facebook back in high school are all going to pop up and take notice of the changes. You’re going to get so much positive energy, you’re going to want to bottle that shit and sell it on eBay.

You’re going to join Facebook groups and websites for people who’ve had weight loss surgery and make a whole new category with friends. You’re going to be just as comfortable discussing gas, poop, and what you ate today with them as you are your significant other (and honestly, you may be more candid with those random internet people than you are with your s/o–I don’t know if it’s the anonymity of a screen or what).

You’re going to go out to eat and take home leftovers every. Single. Time. You’re going to find yourself stuffed after 4 or 5 bites of everything, and that’s okay.  You’re going to learn to love appetizers in a way you never did before, and you’re going to find yourself breaking down the components of every dish on the menu to figure out what you should and shouldn’t eat. You’re going to surprise yourself with your reactions to your favorite foods, too–those chicken crispers at Chili’s look mighty delicious, but you’re not going to want to eat them because they’re full of empty calories and a salad or 3oz of steak are more attractive choices (but you’re going to still get the crispers occasionally because seriously, what is life if you can’t live a little?). You’re going to find yourself drunk after half a cocktail because damnit, when you have a tiny stomach, that shit goes straight to your head (which can be a good AND bad thing–I’ve uttered the phrase “I swear, I’m not drunk” far more times after surgery than I ever did before [and for the record, Anthony, I wasn’t]) and you’re going to hear the phrase “cheap date” more times than you can count–and you’re going to laugh because it’s so true.

You’re going to go to the gym and have fun. You’re going to download all of the exercise apps and all of the music and just sweat it out. You’re going to hate dragging yourself to said gym some days, but that feeling will disappear when you’re done with your workout and you realize that you just ran further or lifted more than you ever did before.

You’re gonna learn to love shopping for clothes, too.  You’re going to walk into a store and pick up a dress in a size you last wore when you were in your early teens “just to see if it fits.” And thanks to the aforementioned salads and gym sessions, you’re going to almost cry when not only does said dress fit, but it looks omgsocute! And then you’re going to cry some more when you find another dress that does the same thing. And another. And another. And don’t even get me started on the wonders of going down 4 pant sizes in 8 months.

But most importantly, you’re going to wake up every morning loving yourself and the skin you’re in. You’re going to thank whatever you believe is right and good in this world that you made this incredible, life-changing decision for yourself.You’re still going to have good days and bad days, but you’ll slowly start having more good than bad. You’re going to find an inner strength within you that you never thought possible. You’re going to read things on the internet about “fat people” and you’re going to get mad because seriously, fuck anyone who thinks that being fat is a sickness or a weakness. And then you’re going to take that anger and use it to motivate yourself even more. You’re going to take the words of the trolls and the haters and you’re going to use them to better yourself. You’re going to pound it out on the treadmill, you’re going to wash them away in the shower before you put on that super cute dress, and you’re going to forget all about it when you look in the mirror and see yourself for what you really are: a person who has turned their life around completely, a person who has come so far and still has many miles to go, a person who looked in the mirror, decided enough was enough, and made that leap of faith. And once you make that leap, you’re going to find that there are people all around you who are going to catch you.

You can do this. One year has proven that to me–take the chance and prove it to yourself.

Night before surgery, weighing in at 275lb (down from my highest weight of 292lbs):

before.jpg

Today, weighing in at 202lbs

Long Overdue Update

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*brushes dust off of blog* …Is this thing on?

Hello lovely readers! Time for a long, long, looooong overdue update!

Let’s see, when we last left our heroine, she was writing notes to herself about her weight and extolling the virtues of fat free half and half, so why don’t we start there? My weight is good! I’m down to 207 pounds, at last weigh-in. I’ve been stalled there for about three weeks, so I’m going to have to start going to the gym and going back to basics on my food to try and kick the metabolism back into gear. I’ve been drinking protein shakes for breakfast and eating light for lunch/dinner, so I’m on the right track. Back in February, I signed up for a gym membership, but due to unforseen circumstances, I’ve only been once or twice, so I need to get back into that habit. Healthy eating will only get you so far!

The job situation has been….tenuous, to say the least. I was let go at the beginning of February. I’m not going to speculate or dwell on the why/how of the situation; suffice it to say, it sucked. I sunk into a deep depression for pretty much the entirety of February–luckily, it’s a short month, but it wasn’t a good time. I didn’t do much of anything besides sleep and loaf around the apartment, sending out resumes and not hearing back. I was passed over for at least one position, and that didn’t help things. I went to visit my mom for a bit, which was very nice. My lovely husband, in the meantime, was hustling for me and managed to score me an interview–the company needed a temp, I was available, and the stars aligned to get me a short term temp job. The commute it a pain, but the company and people are great, and the experience will look great on my resume. Not only that, but the start date aligned with my calendar in such a way that I was able to go down to Florida to visit my dad!

As those of you who follow my amazingly exciting life on Facebook know, I decided to drive. It was 16 hours down, 20ish back (thanks to a mild stomach ache and Annapolis/Baltimore traffic), but it was a great way for me to sort out my thoughts/feelings on losing my job and getting a new one. It was also a great way to decompress and recenter myself. I was able to just…be. I’ve always wanted to road trip, so the fact that I had the time, the will, the funds, and the reason to go just made it worth taking the leap. I missed Anthony, of course, but I think it was the right move for me emotionally. Next time he’s totally coming with though–my back is still jacked up from the driving. I’ll upload some pictures and an account of my trip in a later post–there’s quite a few of them.

So I think that’s all there is to say about life at this point in time. Hopefully, now that I have a job that will allow me to access my blog during down/lunch times, I’ll be able to update a bit more frequently. I feel like I’ve let you all down lately, and I’m sorry for that; I’m sure you all understand how life can be.

OH! One more thing: if you’re like me, you like free money, right? Right. I’ve discovered a website called SwagBucks that will let you earn points that can be redeemed for gift cards just for doing things you normally do on the web–shop, browse, take surveys, play games, etc. You don’t have to spend a cent on the website if you don’t want to; obviously, you’ll earn more points faster if you get them through the shopping links, but you don’t have to spend any money to earn–I’ve been on the site since Friday and have already earned about $5 worth of points without spending a dime. Once I earn a bit more, I’m going to redeem them for an Amazon gift cards because, as I’m sure you all know,  I’m an ebook hoarder. If you’re interested in checking out the website, can you please do so using my referral link below? I’ll get some extra points if you do 🙂

http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/swaguser80415931

(FYI, this isn’t a sponsored post: I’m making this little pitch of my own volition)

Thanks for tuning in; I hope everyone has an absolutely fabulous day!

 

 

WLS Cooking without Sacrifice

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I’ve been doing a lot more cooking for myself lately, as after surgery, going out to eat isn’t very cost-effective because I don’t eat much, so dinner usually ends up as leftovers, and then the leftovers usually go bad–although I am getting better at the whole concept of bringing lunch to work.

Luckily, there’s a lot of great ways to get protein in these days–shakes, powders, bars, and regular old food that I never used to eat anymore (yogurt anyone?). That said, there’s a lot of foods that I can’t eat anymore–namely pastas and breads…or do I thought!! Bread is still an only sometimes food, and usually, I end up taking the bread off of whatever it is I’m eating (ie burger, sandwich) and eat the inside. Pasta, however….

As much as I hate Barilla for their homophobic comments of a few years ago, they make a fantastic product called Barilla ProteinPlus. At 17 grams of protein per 3.5 oz serving is awesome for pasta. Now, I’m not eating it every day of the week, but if Anthony and I are in the mood for pasta, you can have some with your main meal and not feel guilty.

Another way to not feel guilty is to find where you can cut corners without sacrificing taste. For instance, tonight for dinner, I made creamy garlic Parmesan pasta with chicken. The recipe calls for 1.5 cups of whole milk. Instead of using whole milk, I used 1 cup fat-free Lactaid and 1/2 cup fat free Half and Half. It’s just as creamy and delicious as it would’ve been with whole milk, but with significantly less fat. Thanks to the addition of chicken, protein pasta, and milk I was able to get around 35oz of protein in for dinner–that’s almost half of my recommended daily intake of protein (80-100oz).

One of the most important things you can do as a WLS patient (or someone who is trying to cut out fat/carbs/whatever) is experiment. There are PLENTY of websites out there for low fat/low carb recipes (Pinterest anyone?) that even if you don’t follow a recipe from one of those websites, you can still take the basic ideas and modify your own favorite recipes.

Do you have any favorite ways of modding recipes to make them a bit more healthy? Let me know–I’m always looking for suggestions!!!