Change, Change, Change baby!

Sometimes I hate change…and sometimes I love it. The past two years have been amazing for me, filled with lots of change, contemplation and quite a few humbling moments. I’m going through one of those humbling moments right now. I hate that shit.

I’ve always gauged my weight loss progress with a scale. Always. It took me a long time to be able to use the scale as a tool instead of a weapon of self-loathing. I weigh 270 pounds right now and I can honestly tell you that I can get on the scale every day and look at that number and not hate myself. Actually, it’s more than that. I get on the scale every morning and love myself. If that number goes up a pound or two for water weight, I don’t care. I’m a woman. That’s what happens. I don’t attach emotion to the scale…or at least not like that.

I am, however, too attached to my scale and I don’t want to admit it. Okay, I just did admit it. But I’m fighting that admission. I’ve been fighting the change I know needs to happen.

A few weeks ago, I had my one year follow-up appointment at my surgeon’s office. Those of you who’ve been reading my blog for a while are probably thinking “Wait…what?” You’re right: it hasn’t been a year. It’s been a year and a half, actually. My work schedule kept getting in the way of my appointments and I had to keep bumping them. So finally I’ve had my one year follow up. Better late than never.

I was a little apprehensive about it, honestly. I had an amazing first year. 113 pounds lost. 7 sizes in clothes gone. I feel fucking amazing. And then I broke my gallbladder 10 months in…and everything slowed to an agonizing crawl. I dropped one more size, bringing the total to 8 sizes…but I’m still crawling.

Ever since the crawling started, there’s been a little voice in the back of my head that’s been saying “Maybe this is it. Maybe this is all I’m going to be able to do.” Even worse, I was fearful that I would get to my one year follow-up appointment and the people who have done such an amazing job supporting me would be disappointed. I was afraid that they would suggest I needed to go back in for a revision from gastric sleeve to gastric bypass because my gastric sleeve surgery had done all it could do. Well, that’s not what happened.

As usual, the whole team was happy to see me. I don’t meet with my surgeon anymore… because I don’t need surgery. My support team consists of a nurse practitioner, a nutritionist, and an exercise specialist…and they’re all awesome.

Sharon, the nurse practitioner, went over my lab results with me. All great. Alex, the exercise specialist, took my measurements and went over my inches lost. Fabulous. And Amy, my nutritionist, had a look at my daily food log and gave me her input. I’m doing awesome. The whole time, I’m thinking “Why am I stuck at 270 pounds then???”

So I did the unthinkable: I asked. :-)

I’ve never met Alex the exercise dude before. He’s new. Like everyone at my surgeon’s office, he’s sincerely invested in helping me get to my goals. He’s not full of all that schmoozy motivational bullshit lingo we all see on tv. He’s real. So I decided to share my concerns with him over being stuck at 270…and he told me I need to stop worrying about what the scale says and start watching the tape measure.

Well….shit. The tape measure moves like an effing snail, Alex. C’mon!!!

But I know he’s right. I can feel it. Especially since I want to argue about it. I want to lash out and punch it. I want to scream to the sky “It’s not fair!!!” Oh yeah…he’s right. I’m looking at this all wrong. All wrong.

I remember when I first had my gastric sleeve surgery. Eating was a whole new adventure for many reasons. I had to re-learn so much. Hunger was gone (and still is). I couldn’t even eat 1/4 cup of anything at first. I had many strict rules about what I could put in my stomach as it was healing. It was really overwhelming, but I got through it. It was eye opening and it was FUN.

I know I’ll grow once I’m on the other side of this, but I can feel myself fighting it tooth and nail. And I don’t know why I’m fighting it…because this is just the exercise version of what I already went through with food. Just like the past year and a half, this is going to be weird at first. I’ll have to follow strict rules at first while I create all the new habits I’m going to have. It’s going to be overwhelming at first, but I’ll get through it. It’ll be eye opening…and fun. Sound familiar?

I know I should embrace it, but I’m struggling against a primal urge to sit in a corner and pout like a two year old. Sometimes I amaze even myself with my stubborn pig-headedness.

The only thing I can think to do right now is to cling to the ritual of it all. Alex gave me a workout schedule, which I tried for the first time last week. If you follow me on Facebook, you saw my daily morning updates on what my exercise goals were. It was 10% fun, 30% overwhelming, and 60% weird. I know it won’t always feel that way. It’s a change thing. It’s a growing thing. It’s a whole frigg’in hot mess thing.

I’m also (and I cringe as I type this) putting away the new Mr. Scale for awhile. I need to embrace the idea of letting the tape measure and my own clothes tell me whether I’m making any progress. When my clothes feel loose, I’ll drag out Mr. Scale and see what’s up.

So…how about you? Have you ever been faced with change that felt clunky and weird and overwhelming, but you knew you had to do it? Tell me how you did it…maybe it’ll help me or one of our fellow hot messes. I’m going to grab a cup of tea, get comfy, and relish the wisdom in your comments…so let me hear ya!

Royal Albert 3-Piece New Country Roses Teacup, Saucer and Plate Set, Rose Confetti

Bicycle Paradise and Hey, Strava…You’re a Bunch of Dicks

So remember last year when I hit the “I’ve lost 100 pounds” mark? What a great day that was! The reward I promised myself was a new bike of my very own. What better way to celebrate the first 100 pound loss of my journey than to give myself something that encourages physical activity, right? Right! So there I was…picturing myself with a cute little beach cruiser with a basket and a cute little bell…in the perfect shade of light blue. Adorbs!

There was just one problem: HMH is a total bike snob.

HMH is a mountain biker. Actually, we don’t have mountains in Texas. He’s a trail biker. He loves the idea of riding for miles and miles through the open country, down dirt roads and across abandoned railroad tracks. He loves to be out in nature. With the dirt. And the bugs. And the snakes.

Me? I enjoy viewing nature through the window while I’m curled up with a good book. I have no need to be out in it. I don’t want nature crawling up my pant leg and biting me behind the knee. I don’t want nature croaking at me from a pond or scaring the crap out of me when I ride by at an inopportune time. I like nature to behave itself…and if I have to be out in nature, I prefer a concrete bike path to enjoy it from. I don’t want to tear across the dirt, blissfully unaware of the muddy pothole that’s about to impale my lady bits on my water bottle holder – because, trust me, if that’s shit’s gonna happen…it’s gonna happen to me.

You can imagine, then, that there was some significant disagreement in the Hot Mess household last year when it was time to buy my bike.

“I just want a cute little beach cruiser…nothing fancy,” I said as I headed to Target.

“You’re not coming home with a bike from Target. I won’t have a crap bike in this house,” HMH grumbled.

“Babe,” I said, “I don’t need a fancy, sporty bike. I just want a cute little beach cruiser.”

“Target bikes are crap. We’ll get you a good bike. Trust me.”

And then HMH would whip out his smart phone and start showing me pictures of what I’m sure were all very nice bikes…but they were ugly. Sporty black and blue with neon crap on them. Thick, knobby tires or weird handle bars. I just wanted a cute little cruiser!!!

We argued about it for weeks and weeks until the whole thing just sucked all the fun and joy out of it for me. And I gave up. And then winter came and there was no point arguing anymore because I couldn’t ride a bike in the icy Texas winter. So poo. Forget about it.

But now the weather has started warming up…and I started thinking about getting on the bike trail again. We live fairly close to a cute little bike trail that runs adjacent to several neighborhoods. It’s a nice little ride.

HMH and I went bike shopping at his bike shop. No cruisers. *sniff* Almost all of the bikes they had were too big for me. Apparently I have short legs, even though I’m 5’7″ tall…so I’m not a dinky person. I tried a couple but the seats hit me too high in the girly bits (and the seats were lowered all the way). Finally, I saw it. Over on the side of a row of too-snazzy looking bikes was a non-threatening looking, pearl white beauty. I threw my leg over the seat and…wow! I didn’t feel like I was going to fall!! I felt like going for a ride!!! Yay!!! I left the store feeling confident that there was a bike out there that I could ride. There was hope for me!

The next week I had a really hectic time at work. It was Friday. I’d been running rampant all day. By the time I left the office I was really ready to scream. I just wanted to come home and relax…but when I came home, HMH had some news for me.

“I broke something,” he said to me, all solemn.

Crap. Now what? Can’t I just get home and unwind in peace. Damn it, we can’t have nice things!!!

HMH led me out to the garage. The garage is full of his crap, not mine…and I was busy trying to figure out what he possibly could have broken out there that I’d care about. He opened the garage and I found myself staring at my new bike. Surprise!!!

Check out my sweet new ride, baby!
Check out my sweet new ride, baby!

I’ve been having fun with it ever since…including playing with apps that track my bike rides.

Since HMH and a few other friends and family members use Strava to track their bike rides, it was the natural choice for me. I loaded it up and I’ve been tracking all my rides since. Yesterday, however, I smelled a rat. A big, fat, gooey rat. Let me explain…

I log my food intake on My Fitness Pal and I was delighted when I saw that I could link Strava with it so that my exercise was automatically logged. Yay!!! Then HMH and I went on a big bike ride yesterday. Well, probably not big for y’all, but for someone like me it was monumental. We rode 8.7 miles! That’s my longest ride yet. I felt quite accomplished. So imagine my surprise when I get home and My Fitness Pal has logged that I burned a very underwhelming 262 calories for all the work I did.

Okay, sure…I’m a big fat girl still. It takes some seriously lame leg pumping to get my ass up any kind of incline. It’s almost embarrassing. Except I don’t care…because I’m too proud of myself to care…and I’ve got HMH behind me saying “You’re doing GREAT, babe! You’re awesome!!”

How can I argue with the best husband in the world? I can’t.

 

Feeling rather dramatic and badass on the trail
Feeling rather dramatic and bad-ass on the trail

Anyway…it seemed a little hinky to me that I did so much work pedaling up those treacherously moderate inclines and I only burned 262 calories. And let me just make a quick point here: it’s not that I want to burn more calories so that I can eat more. Not at all. It’s that I worked my ass off and I want proper damn credit. That’s all it is. And 262 seemed like a pretty crappy number when I know how hard I was working.

I decided to wear my heart rate monitor the next time we went out. I should mention that I don’t have one of those cruddy $30 monitors that attempts to monitor my heart rate through my wrist. Nope. I’ve got the one that straps around your chest and next to my heart…listening. There’s a wristband display that shows me what the heart rate monitor is detecting. I’ve programmed it with my height, weight and age…so it knows all my secrets.

Strava, by comparison, knows my height and weight. There is no device settled near my heart. It’s an app on my phone that tracks my speed and route via GPS.

So Strava said I burned 262 calories for 69 minutes worth of bike riding at less than 10 mph. (I did go over 10 mph at times, but my average was less than 10 mph). Then I went directly into My Fitness Pal and logged 69 minutes worth of bike riding at less than 10 mph…and guess what?

I burned 563 calories.

Um…what?

Exact same time. Exact speed and activity. Totally different number. Who should I believe? I turned to Google…sort of. I searched “How many calories did I burn?” and came up with half a dozen websites that have free activity/calorie burn calculators. Every single one of them had my calorie burn at upwards of 500 calories. Excellent. Finally, as if there was any doubt at that point, I checked my heart rate monitor. 560 calories burned.

Up your ass, Strava dicks!

Above, the Strava version of my bike ride. Below, the My Fitness Pal version.
Above, the Strava version of my bike ride. Below, the My Fitness Pal version.

Further research revealed several forums in which various users expressed similar experiences with Strava tracking their calorie burn either way too low or, in some cases, way too high. Their app needs a little work.

I’ll continue to use Strava to map my rides…but that’s it. I have family and friends on it who send me kudos for bike rides…and I think that’s fun…but I’m not going to believe their calorie burn bullshit anymore, that’s for sure. And that’s my point in writing this blog post today: do your research before you believe whatever app you’re using to track your health and fitness.

It chaps my ass even more that there are fellow hot messes out there who might be just starting out with this kind of thing. They might not know enough about fitness and calorie burn to raise an eyebrow at that 262 blinking back at them. They might think that 262 is correct. Perhaps they’ll only feel discouraged…and that can be the beginning of the end for some people without a strong support system. False information can put a crack in your morale. Believe me, I know.

Just a smidge of the trail I ride
Just a smidge of the trail I ride

So if you don’t have someone riding behind you and cheering you on, take heed here and do some research. If everything’s on the level, you can rely on your app to track your numbers and focus on the things that require your energy. If it’s not on the level, at least you’ll know before you get used to it and find a solution that works for you.

We have enough to deal with between trying to tame our food demons, eating healthy and living an active life. Why make it harder on ourselves than we need to?

Life is an open road. Pedal faster…and enjoy it. (But make sure your damn apps aren’t lying to you!)


Want a super cute bell like the one on my bike? Here it is!

Sleeping Beauty

Who hasn’t had a really big exciting day where you just go and go and go forever and then at the end of the night you collapse into a grateful, happy, tired heap? Have you had several of those days in a row? How about a whole year? That’s what 2014 was like for me. A tailspin of joy and crazy (good crazy) and love and hope and awesomeness. Then I got tired.

Last fall, a lot of it came to a screeching halt when I started having gallstone attacks. If you’ve never had this problem, let me just tell you this: my girlfriends who’ve had children and have also had their gallbladders out have all told me that the gallstone pain was worse than passing an 8 pound human through their vajayjays. Since I was never lucky enough to be a mom, I consider the fact that I’ve at least had to go through the gallstone thing a badge of honor. So in a way, I have given birth…just to a couple of gritty, creepy stones. I’d feel more accomplished if I had an adorable, tiny version of me and HMH waddling around the house but the gallstones make me feel pretty bad ass.

I got through the process like a champ, but my weight loss crawled to a halt. I have lost another size since my gallbladder surgery but that’s it. My weight has hovered at 271 pounds for months now. And you know what? I haven’t cared one damn bit.

Imagine (and I know some of you don’t have to…because you’ve lived it too) being so huge that you can’t properly wash yourself in the shower. Imagine being so large that you get out of breath just toweling yourself dry. You have to prop your legs up on the couch in order to reach your feet and put your shoes on. The fabric on the inside thighs of all your pants rubs clear away before your pants are old enough to be out of style. Everything either hurts or is exhausting to do. You stretch your weekend errands out into batches so that you can rest in between. And sex with your significant other? It doesn’t happen. You just want to curl up in a ball and let someone take it all away.

That was my life for years…and I’m done with that now.

2014 was an amazing year for me. I’ve been hugging myself and giving myself high fives for the longest time now…and I’m still doing it even though I haven’t lost any weight. I can’t stop doing it. Everything is still a victory for me.

Got out of the car without hurting myself. Yay!

I’m smaller than HMH. Woohoo!

Ran all my errands and came home and cleaned the whole house then did a big household project. Fuck’in-A, bubba!!

Everything is a miraculous, victorious rainbow of unicorns and kittens. I love life!

Something weird happened to me the other day, though, and it got my attention.

I was at work and someone asked me how much weight I’ve lost now. It was the way they asked me…sort of like they already knew I was going to say “Still 113 pounds” but they wanted to see what I’d say. Sort of like they were silently wondering if I was going to explain why I’ve stopped losing weight. There was absolutely nothing about their question that was concerning to me. This person is a long-time supporter and I adore them. There was no malicious pleasure in the question. It was my answer that surprised me. I said “Still 113 and I’m okay with that!”

What?

When did I get to be okay with that? Didn’t I want more than that? Didn’t I want to knock this mother out of the ballpark?? Yes, I did. Yes, I DO!!!

There was a time not too long ago when I would have felt horrible about this. I don’t. Not one bit. Because all that’s happened is that I’ve been distracted by a joyful life. So who cares? I’ve lost 113 pounds and I’m overjoyed. I’m able to do more and be stronger than I have in a long, long time.

My answer woke me up, though. It showed me that I have some learning to do right now about how to live my joyful life while continuing to reach for my long term goals. I have more weight to lose. About 113 more pounds or so. But I no longer feel like a hideous Jabba the Hutt creature who has to lose weight in order to feel worthy. The fact of the matter is…if I spent the rest of my life at 271 pounds I would be happy. I’m free of the worst of my demons.

And the thing is…I know I can lose the rest of this weight. I just have to exercise it off. I’ve been too busy enjoying the Hot Mess Love Fest. I’m part raccoon. I’m very easily distracted. Now I’ve suddenly remembered “Oh yeah! There’s stuff I have to do!”

raccoon

My goal to lose the rest of this weight is simply for the principle of the thing. The challenge. The sense of accomplishment. The victory of getting myself into the best shape possible. This is all new to me. I’ve lived a lifetime of trying to lose weight because I feel that I’m worthless as I am. I no longer feel that way. In fact, as I write this I can feel myself thinking “Who IS this chick? I like her!!!”

I no longer want to lose weight to fit in. I no longer need to lose weight to feel complete. I’m happy as I am. But I need to remember that there are still goals I want to achieve. I feel strongly that accomplishing these other goals will only strengthen the awesome feelings of bad assedness already swirling around me.

I feel like I’ve been sleepy for a while and I’m finally starting to wake up and go “Oh, crap…I have shit I need to do!” Whoops!!

So pardon me while I crawl out of bed and brush my teeth…I’ve got shit to do and you’re coming with me. Spring is coming soon and I’ll be getting my new bike. Can’t wait to pedal my bad ass self around Texas. And, just in time, Pandora has come out with a new charm. Check it out:

My next reward!
My next reward!

Y’all know that Saint Bernards are my favorite dogs. Miss Kirby has ruined me for any other breed. I’m thinking this little baby is my reward for hitting 269 on the scale. And maybe the new Texas Rangers bag from Dooney & Bourke. Because, hey…any excuse to buy a handbag, peeps!

My Eyes!!!

113 pounds and 8 sizes later, my eyes are opened to a whole new world. Many worlds, actually. I can wear heels all day at work and not end up limping to the car. I feel like an actual woman now…instead of a huge fat creature with ovaries, if that makes sense. I like looking in the mirror now. And even HMH says I’m just generally a nicer person and a more supportive and nurturing wifey-poo. Honestly, I might just bring about world peace by the time I hit my goal weight. This shit is fabulous.

There is one surprising and, quite frankly, disgusting benefit of losing so much weight that I want to talk about today…so if you’ve eaten anything recently, you probably want to step away for 30 minutes or so in case you’re overcome with the urge to hurl as you read my dirty, horrible confession. Here it goes…

For years now, it has seemed that I could never really keep up with the housecleaning around here. We don’t live in a mansion. We have a 3 bedroom, 2 full bath home with a bonus loft (HMH’s man cave). We don’t have children, so I’ve always felt it should be a piece of cake to keep clean – but every weekend I’d notice dust bunnies behind the Playstation or a cobweb flying by my head somewhere. I could never seem to get ahead of it. Then it happened.

I was in the master bathroom last week when I accidentally dropped a hair clip on the floor and it rolled under the vanity nook in the cabinets. I had gotten up with my reading glasses still on my face, so I was looking over the top of my glasses in the mirror when it happened (who wants to see crows feet up close, am I right?). As I bent down to grab it, I was looking through my reading glasses at the floor….and HOLY CRAP!!!

Dirt. Filth. Everywhere. Just really, really gross.

I got down on my hands and knees and took it all in: hair, dust, dirt, dustings of leftover dried cat litter from before Caesar the cat went to Rainbow Bridge. The tile and molding was caked thick with it. It was absolutely revolting.

You know that feeling you get sometimes when someone is about to give you bad news and you’re all “No, no, no…I don’t want to know, really”? As I stood up, I started moving around the house and studying everything through my reading glasses. I couldn’t help myself. Part of me didn’t want to know, but I just couldn’t help myself.

One word: GROSS

In the kitchen, the cabinet baseboards are thick with crud…and the area under the sink is so vile I can’t even talk about it. The molding all over the house has to be scrubbed clean. There are cobwebs in places I didn’t even know could get cobwebs.

If I lived with a neat freak, the house would never have gotten this bad. But I didn’t. I married the guy who doesn’t notice when he splashes spaghetti sauce inside the silverware drawer and gets muddy fingerprints all over the stainless fridge. Regardless, it isn’t up to him to tell me our house is dirty…I should have seen this and I didn’t. Because for years and years I couldn’t bend down to get a hair clip that fell. I would have had to flick it out from under the cabinets with a coat hanger or something…because 383 pound me was too tired and sore to get down there and really have a look.

house clean

I wasn’t just neglecting myself when I was super obese. I was neglecting our home. As I get closer to goal weight and farther from 383 pound me, I’m happier because there are so many more positive things in my life now than before. I enjoy stupid little things like making the bed when I get up in the morning…because our bedroom looks inviting and cozy when it’s neat. I don’t mind doing laundry and dishes and all the other household chores around here because I have so much more energy than I did a year ago. (And before y’all ask where HMH is in all this, let me just say that he works very long hours every day and he has a very physical job…so I do most of the housework because I think it’s only fair. And I’m okay with that.)

Now I know why I was finding cobwebs and other crap. Nothing in this house is really clean. Remember Monica on the tv show “Friends”? Well, I always wanted to be Rachel…but I’m really Monica. Or I was before I gained so much weight. In the years leading up to my sleeve surgery, I turned into the anti-Monica…and it’s eff’in scary around here.

I’m trying to develop a healthy balance in my life between work, hobbies and chores…so as much as I wanted to spend 18 hours scrubbing the master bathroom when I found that crud, I broke it down into manageable sections. I just finished scrubbing the final section of the floor. In fact, I scrubbed the moldings and baseboard so much that I need to repaint them. Now I’ve started on the shower. Each weekend, I’ll branch out and do more…and more…and more…until finally I’ve scrubbed the last of the “fat dirt” out of my life for good. Because that’s what this stuff is to me: my fat dirt. It’s the crap I let pile up in our home while I was neglecting my health and eating away my feelings.

I even bought new mats for the bathroom. Holy shit, I’m SO (insert name of famous interior designer here). (And what may look like dirt spots to some of you is actually caulk and molding that have to be repainted because they’re stained or chipped, by the way.)

My bathroom floor is spotless and it makes me smile. When I sweep it next weekend during my regular household chores, I won’t be stirring up a bunch of dust and dander that’s collected for years…I’ll just be sweeping up the floor. The dustpan won’t contain anything that makes me say “I don’t remember THAT. What is that???”

I have to admit it: this was a hard blog post to write. I don’t want everyone thinking I’m a horrible slob. And trust me…as bad as things are around here, they’re nowhere near the homes on the tv shows “Clean Sweep” and “Clean House”. Anyone watch those? Holy CRAP that shit’s scary. Our house looks like a palace compared to those. Still, things are pretty dirty around here and it’s going to take me quite a while to make it right.

It’s a little overwhelming to think about, especially considering that I’ll have a house full of family for Easter this year – but I can get through it. This isn’t unlike the changes I went through in the first months after my surgery when I had to learn to eat responsibly…and slowly. It was overwhelming at first, but I knew the only way out was through. This is just another type of change that I gifted myself when I made the decision to take control of my life. So I’m grateful that I dropped that hair clip…and I’m grateful that I can finally get down into the nitty gritty of things and really see them for what they are. You could say my eyes have opened. Again.


Sugar Free IBC Root Beer Barrels 1 Lb

Just a little update for 2015

Peeps!

This is just a housekeeping announcement, really, but I wanted to chat super quick about the appearance of my blog/website. As you may have noticed, the former messy desktop theme has gone bye-bye.

The short explanation is that I migrated my site to a new server this week – and that server found my old blog theme to be quite antiquated. The nerve! Normally, this could be fixed by someone in-the-know. I am not that person. In fact, my former blog theme was very generously custom created for me by an old friend who has since flown the coop and moved on to bigger and better things – so I have no access to him or his incredible brain.

I’ll probably play around with themes over the next several weeks and I just wanted to give y’all a heads up that I’m not going crazy or anything…I’m simply trying to find something that’s a bit more refreshed, but still pays tribute to the Hot Mess that I am. :-)

In other news…GO COWBOYS!!! I don’t know what gets me more excited: the fact that my team is finally in the playoffs or the fact that I can finally shop for Cowboys gear like most other folks. That simple pleasure was denied me when I was a size 32.

I snapped this for a friend who cheers for the Packers. Ha HA!!!
I snapped this for a friend who cheers for the Packers. Ha HA!!!

I’ll be back soon with a few blog posts that have been poking at me lately. Wishing you all the very best in this fabulous new year. Let’s go make 2015 our bitch!