New Year, Old(er) Me

By: Rachel Sircy

Being born in December is weird. You don’t start the New Year looking forward to a birthday. Instead, you start the new year having recently survived a birthday and all of the complicated tangle of emotions that go along with that. At least the emotions that follow me after my birthdays always seem complicated and tangled.

But, every January I – along with countless others – put the cherry on top of our emotional confusion sundae by making New Year’s resolutions. I have so many this year that if I achieve them all I will be a completely different person by my next birthday. Like Invasion of the Body Snatchers different. That will really complicate my emotions. But what’s life without a little melodrama, right?

Anyway, personal goofiness aside, I have made some New Year’s Resolutions that I intend to keep, especially those relating to health. I have retained all the baby weight since my gluten free weight lossdaughter was born. She was also a December baby and just turned two. I am ready to lose some weight and get healthier. And so, for those of you out there who, like me, are attempting to get into shape this year and have to also remain gluten free, I wanted to write some words of advice and encouragement.

Firstly, for those who are unaware, a gluten free diet is NOT a low calorie or low fat diet. Gluten free convenience products (such as breads, cookies, pasta, frozen entrees, etc) are usually higher in fat, salt and sugar and have far less fiber than conventional products. I have been approached by a number of people who have told me that they are “going gluten free” in an effort to lose weight. Unfortunately, switching to gluten free convenience products will only help to keep you from losing weight and they may cause you to gain weight. In the case of anyone who is not a celiac, it may be better and healthier for you to eat whole wheat products than to turn to gluten free options.

For those of us who are celiacs and can only eat gluten free products, we all know that cookies and waffles are never the key to losing weight anyway. Unfortunately, the best way for celiacs to lose weight (and to make sure that we stay safe from contamination) is to cook for ourselves. Of course, that is probably true for everyone. If celiacs want cookies or pasta, it’s better to make our own and control the amount of fat, salt, sugar and fiber that we put into these foods. (Fiber can be added to foods in the form of ground flax and by making sure that we try to use whole grain pasta like brown rice or quinoa.) And there are cookbooks available that have recipes that are both sugar and gluten free. For Christmas I received a cookbook by Kelly E. Keough titled Sugar-Free Gluten Free Baking and Desserts, which offers healthier recipes for things such as pizza crusts, cookies, and cakes by using alternative sweeteners such as fruit juice and stevia.

Secondly, better and healthier products are available to celiacs (and gluten free enthusiasts) for less money. I used to pay approximately $12-13 per week for two loaves (small loaves!) of a high fiber gluten free bread. Who can afford that? But if you have no other choice, then you have no other choice. Here is where I am going to shamelessly shill for Aldi BECAUSE now we do have another choice. Aldi sells really good bread, both white and whole grain, for half of what I used to pay for my high fiber bread. Now, that is still not dirt cheap since they also sell regular bread for less than a dollar sometimes. However, 3.99 for a loaf that is big enough to last me an entire week is the best deal I’ve found since I was diagnosed. Also, most Aldi stores sell ground flax seed and good quality organic brown rice and quinoa pasta. Healthy gluten free eating is becoming easier and more affordable.

So, go out and conquer your healthy New Year’s resolutions! You can do it!

Making Peace with My Body

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

tumblr_kx1lagnvy91qah3ado1_500Sunday, I woke up tired, groggy from pain meds and in some discomfort from the angiogram I had earlier in the week. I had a million things I wanted to do, but decided to rest and have a low key day. I pulled out a legal pad, and the next thing I knew, I was re-writing the profile on my “My Fitness Pal” food log and fitness app.

I’ve resisted updating this profile, but it’s time for a fresh start. It’s been a crazy 19 months, to say the least. The more I wrote, the more I wanted to write, and soon it came together as this blog post.

Six years ago I started a wellness program through my workplace and lost nearly 100 lbs. I didn’t know then that this transformation was preparing me for the fight of my life: a ruptured brain aneurysm in March 2015. It wasn’t an easy recovery by any means, but the doctors credit my survival to the fact that I was healthy and fit at the time of the rupture. (Thinking back to my rehab days, I don’t think I could’ve done it with any extra weight, but especially not an extra 100 lbs.!)

Thankfully, I suffered no permanent deficits, but my vocal cords were damaged during intubation, which has impacted both my voice and my breathing. Both are being treated and may get better, but for now my workouts are limited due to my constrained airway. Since around January, 2016, I’ve been doing light strength training with cardio on the NuStep and/or treadmill at a local gym. I’m definitely building strength, especially noticeable over the last few weeks, but I can’t do the hour on the treadmill or elliptical like I used to do.

mary patWith today’s weigh in, I’m officially up about 11.3 lbs. from the day I had the rupture. It doesn’t sound like much, but with my inability to exercise at the same intensity, it looks and feels like five times that amount. To add insult to injury, most of the changes have occurred between my waist and knees. I feel embarrassed, ashamed and worst of all, like an overweight short-haired-blonde Wonder Woman.

Today, I’m taking steps to make peace with myself and get a fresh start. My weight is up, and I look and feel much different, but that doesn’t take anything away from my miraculous recovery and my gratitude for surviving. I am where I am, and I’m thankful to be here. My body has been through a significant trauma, and if it took a weight gain to survive, that’s okay. If given the choice, I would’ve easily opted for the weight gain over dying. But because I do now appreciate life so much more, I’d like to lose some weight so I can enjoy it more fully and freely.

My journey starts now. I’ve set a goal of 22 lbs. to keep myself honest, but it’s less about the number and more about the way I feel.

Here’s to a fresh start and the beginning of a new chapter in my recovery.

Weighty Issues

By: Azure Stilwell

One of the issues with Bipolar Disorder and the medications I have to take is that I tend to forget things. I have alarms for everything: to remind me to take my medications, to get my son off of the bus, to wake up, to go to bed, and the list goes on. Yet even with these alarm clockreminders I still manage to miss a thing or two. It is very frustrating. So I always try to keep my posts honest and relevant to my ordinary life, which is why I share things like the following.

I am starting a weight loss journey. I went to see my primary care doctor and she suggested a meal plan and exercise routine, but after 3 weeks I have not been able to keep it going. I need accountability on a regular basis and someone to cheer me on. So I am joining the Livestrong program at my local Y, which gives cancer survivors 24 free classes beginning this month. I am also thinking very hard about re-joining Jenny Craig as I did have success with that program in the past. I became concerned (way overdue) during a recent hospital stay when I actually saw the number on the scale. Let’s just say being breathless all the time makes sense when you are carrying another person around.

I am hoping to find some great recipes that I can share with you. I will keep you posted on my progress. Today: 0 for me and 1 for my food baby. I am now putting an alarm in my phone so I am reminded of my next blog post. I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend. 🙂

2015: New Year, New You?

By: Lexington Medical Center’s Laura Stepp, MA RD LD CDE

Every New Year’s Eve millions of people think about or do make a resolution. But, what is a resolution? According to the Merrian-Webster dictionary, a resolution is “the act of new years resolutionsresolving” something. Resolving is further described as “the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones.”

Often when people make a New Year’s Resolution they resolve to change something big or to do something great, better, or more. While everyone’s resolutions are genuine and meant to be helpful to either self or community, a resolution to do something big such as run a marathon, do a triathlon, walk 10,000 steps a day, or the #1 resolution – to Lose Weight or Be Healthier – often ends up unachieved. What starts out with so much enthusiasm at the beginning of the year generally fades by February or March. We see it all the time; the health clubs are crowded so you wait in line for the treadmill or stationary bike and the exercise classes are full.

Unfortunately by February and (definitely by March) the health club is almost empty. Why do we see this? What happened? Did everyone just give up on all those resolutions? Did they decide losing weight or being healthier isn’t important? Of course not! They likely forgot the definition of resolution: “The act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones”.

We have to be SMART about our resolutions in order to achieve them. Like everything we do, there are steps to achievement.

SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic/Relevant and Time Bound

Here is an example. You resolve to Change your Diet to Be Healthier:

Specific: What about your diet do you want to change or improve? Decide what this means for you. It could mean:

  • Cut back on portion sizes
  • Eat less processed food
  • Eat out less often
  • Eat less fast food
  • Eat more vegetables and/or fruit?

Then state exactly what you want to change. For example,

“I will switch my chips at lunch for vegetables”.

“I will eat fruit versus something sweet/candy for a snack”

Measurable: Give your goal a numeric value. For example,

“Daily, I will consume ½ cup chopped vegetables with my sandwich.”

“I will add one extra serving of vegetables to my dinner.”

“I will bring my lunch to work three times a week.”

Attainable: Think small – one change at a time. Work on one meal at a time, one day at a time. Making more than one change every 3-4 days can become overwhelming which can lead to all good intentions being abandoned.

Realistic: Honestly ask your self, “Can I do this?” And, state your change, your new habit in a positive manner. For example:

“I am going to eat one piece of fruit once a day for lunch or afternoon for a snack instead of chips or cookies.”

“I am going to add one new vegetable weekly.”

“Every week I am going to experiment with one new vegetable, preparing it in different ways to see how many ways I can enjoy it.”

Time Bound: Set a firm time limit to achieve a goal and gauge your progress. For instance, consider making one change a week. You could keep a food log for one week to check your progress. When you have accomplished the initial goal then set a new goal to build on the one you have accomplished.

Changing one’s lifestyle is a journey and must be treated like a long term adventure. Breaking down a goal into manageable parts makes it easier to see progress and stay motivated. It also allows to adjustments when necessary.

Be SMART and have a Happy New Year!

If you are interested in having help with your healthy nutrition goals, contact Laura Stepp, Outpatient Dietitian, at 936-4132.

The Skinny on Juice Cleanses

By: Morgan Robbins, RD, LD at Lexington Medical Center

Cleansing is the red-hot health trend sweeping the world by storm. Checking Instagram, I see pictures posted by friends and celebrities with a rainbow of juices in their refrigerator and a caption talking about starting a cleanse. I often overhear conversations of people thinking about starting a cleanse because they feel sluggish or have been eating poorly. “Cleansing” the body of toxins, chemicals and impurities sounds appealing to most people, but are the claims accurate?

juice cleansesThe 411-
There are many different cleanses. The celeb-endorsed juice cleanses are most popular. Most juice cleanses consist of a series of juices to drink during the day for a set period of time, usually 3-14 days. Some cleanses allow foods while others do not. They range from $20-$70 per day. There are also cleansing options that come in pill form and are to be consumed with a healthy diet.

The Claims-
Rid your body of toxins, weight loss, improved energy levels, increase fruit and vegetable intake, reduce inflammation, reset the digestive system, strengthen your immune system and glowing hair and skin. Drinking juice for a few days to boost the immune system and improve energy levels? Sounds like a good bargain to me.

The Science-
The scientific evidence is lacking to prove that one will reap the sworn benefits that are promised while cleansing. The thing most juice bottles leave off the label is that the kidneys, liver and intestines do an excellent job of filtering out the garbage we put into our body. Will you lose weight? Probably yes. However, if you go back to eating the way you were before the cleanse, you’re more than likely going to gain the weight back and could possibly slow down your metabolism in the process. Supplementing a healthy diet with a juice drink will likely cause no harm, but there is needed research regarding juice cleanses.

Until there is solid scientific evidence about juice cleanses and their effect on the body, I would recommend thinking twice before taking another swig of your green juice as your sole dietary intake for the day. Skip the juice, skip the diet and just eat healthy. It’s really quite simple. There is truth behind the saying “you are what you eat.” If you eat well, you’ll feel well. Keep in mind, some cleanses contain a high amount of sugar and minimal fiber. Often people are looking for shortcuts and quick methods for weight loss, however healthy eating will always be the gold standard for living a healthy lifestyle.


Hop, Skip and a Jump

By: Katie Austin

Where did the summer go? Can you believe we are already midway through September?

I don’t know about you, but it seems as though the months are just flying by! They say time flies when you are having fun, so this girl must be having a lot of fun. 🙂

I do love this time of year as we transition into Fall and cooler temperatures. Mother Nature moves over to warmer colors, and college football in the air. (Go Gamecocks! Sorry, just had to work that into my blog somewhere…LOL.)

Though I am excited about the new season, I do worry about keeping up my new health routine. As I shared in my last post, “My Aha Moment,” my husband and I started a simple exercise/eating healthy ritual that’s helping us to gradually lose weight. During the summer, school is out and we participate in many outdoor activities. But as schedules get busier and activities move indoors, I worry that I will go back to old habits. I don’t want to lose my momentum, and I want to be sure that our recent changes become lifetime habits.

How can we accomplish this, especially during the holiday season?

I pondered this question for a while. I went back in time, remembering when I finished chemotherapy and needed something to motivate me. My body was weak and my muscles atrophied. I wanted something to focus on, a way to take steps toward getting back in shape. I found the Avon Walk and joined a team to walk 39 miles.

That’s what I needed to do: find events that will provide opportunities to exercise while giving back and helping me stay focused. Perfect!

I recently participated in a Habitat for Humanity Women Build, which was a women-only event. Boy, I had no idea sod could be that heavy!

habitat for humanityI am registered to participate in two events this October: the Walk for Life (10/18/14) and to walk 39 miles in the Avon Walk in Charlotte, NC (10/25-26/14).
avon walk

See the links below for volunteer opportunities at an upcoming build or to register to walk:

There are many other events taking place this Fall that are just a hop, skip and a jump away. A quick Goggle search and you will find several to choose from.

Don’t get me wrong, we are still walking and watching what we eat. These events just offer different ways of exercising.

Remember to keep your health toward the top of your list and to keep moving.



My Aha Moment

By: Katie Austin

lightbulbHave you ever experienced that one moment that changes everything? I don’t mean in a bad way. It’s that “aha” moment when you suddenly realize something and it sets you in motion, changing your outlook completely?

My “aha” moment happened to me earlier this summer. We were together with family and friends at a local outdoor volleyball tournament. The weather was great, sunny and warm. Laughter was in the air and it was just a great weekend with everyone. No better way to kick off the summer!

On the last day while gathered in a group, one of the topics we talked about was health and fitness. I mentioned that I was going to start a workout routine, eat better and start taking my health seriously. Then it happened. That moment that changes everything! My 19-year old son, Brandon, leaned over to me and said “Momma, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but you should to talk about what you ARE doing and not what you are going to do. You will feel better about it.”

WOW! What could I say to that? I couldn’t get mad. Well I could, but how do you argue with the truth? He was right! I thought back over the weekend and realized that my first response to a friend that I haven’t seen in years was to immediately made excuses for how I looked rather than enjoying the conversation. What was I thinking? Like they really wanted to hear about why I wasn’t where I wanted to be?

In my latest post, Life After Cancer Treatment, I opened up and shared my feelings/struggles post treatment. In short, I simply jumped headfirst back into the pool of life without thinking about how I was going to swim/stay afloat. Now, after this “aha” moment that I had with my son, I realized that I needed to focus on action and not words. I needed to stop talking about the things I was going to do and act on what it is I wanted out of life. It was time to make today my tomorrow!

So, first step – get back to a healthier version of myself. I didn’t want to do this alone, so I recruited my husband! We sat down that next weekend, decided on what our goals would be and how we could take baby steps to accomplish them.

Here is what we came up with:

  • Walk 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes each time. This is a start. If we want to add more when time allows, we can do so. We have to start somewhere and this worked with our schedules.
  • Try to lose 1 pound per week. Would I love to lose more? Yes! But I needed to be realistic. If I lose 1 pound per week AND it stays off, then that works just fine. I wanted to send those extra pounds packing for good! 🙂
  • Monitor what we eat. There are several free apps that you can download to your phone or use from your computer. We love MyFitnessPal because it has made tracking our eating habits easy. For instance, you can use the barcode to scan in items that you purchase. How cool is that! I would caution you that you may instantly go into shock when you see what you have been actually eating…I did! That in itself can be an “aha” moment, especially when you find out how many calories you consume during a meal eaten at your favorite restaurant!

This has been the BEST decision and we love catching up on things as we walk! Typically, you will find us walking the Lake Murray Dam during the week because we have found that it forces us to start and finish. You can start on the Irmo side, walk to the Lexington side, walk back to the Irmo side, and you have walked approximately 3.6 miles. You can walk less or more, and star or stop where you want to. It is up to you. There are others out there walking so if you are walking alone, throw on your headset and listen to your favorite music. You will be met with smiles and a beautiful view of the lake, so you can’t go wrong 🙂

Lake Murray Dam

Ok, you are probably wondering if we are seeing results…. I saved the best for last! ☺ Drum roll please!

We are finishing our 9th week and to date, my husband has lost 25 pounds and I have lost 12.8 pounds! We still have a ways to go, but making small changes over 9 weeks has really helped us to stay committed. We find ourselves motivated, having more energy, and enjoying the outdoors more than ever!

“You don’t have to be great, but you have to start to be great.” – Zig Zagler

Remember to start small, set realistic goals and know that every step you take is moving you closer to where you want to be. It’s not how quick you get there but how much you enjoy the journey!

Snacking Portion Control Made Easier

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Portion control bag

These vertically oriented, snack-sized bags with volume markings are a game changer when it comes to snacking.

The volume markings provide portion control, while the vertical orientation of the bag makes it ideal for on-the-go snacking. I got mine at Kroger, but have also seen them at Target and Wal-Mart. INGENIOUS, don’t you think?

The Fit Bucket List

By: Lydia Scott

1 year weightloss progress

May 22 marked one full year since my lifestyle reboot that we chatted about in my previous blog post. In the last year, I’ve dropped my second 70 lbs. and am now on my way to losing the third and final 70 lbs. I have been cleared of all cardiac issues by my cardiologist; and have conquered a plethora of physical accomplishments I truly thought I’d never be able to do.

Like what? Like:

  • Not have to physically pull myself up the steps and then stop to rub my aching, burning knees.
  • Get on and off a gym-quality elliptical all by myself.
  • Use every single one of the programs on that there gym-elliptical. Yes…the programs. Those crazy ones that make you cuss while swearing you hate the darn thing! I’ve conquered every one of them. This is a HUGE deal for me personally.
  • Do real squats, without falling on my butt and without crippling my almost-cartilage-free knees!
  • Dead lift. *giggle*
  • Become the person who shows other people how to work out. Yeah…me. And no one has broken anything yet!
  • Work all day, come home and cook dinner, then go out to the garden, then work out, and not be a zombie afterwards!
  • Tie my shoes without having to stop to pant in the middle of the tying process.
  • Change out the 40 lb. water bottle at work, by myself, and also without dying or crying.
  • Unload bags of dirt from my car, by myself, as my sweet and proud husband steps to the side because I definitely did not push him aside while I proclaim “No, I can do it!” Definitely not…
  • Double-check the kitty litter I just picked up to make sure it is, indeed, the 20 lb. container, because it felt way too light to be the 20 lb. container. I’ve also done this with carry-out pizza from Schiano’s, because I swore the pizza used to be heavier and maybe they didn’t put the right one in the box. They did get it right. Every time.
  • Get on the floor, and not be panicked trying to figure out how I’ll get back up.
  • Actually do yard work for more than 30 minutes at a time.
  • Agree to go to Crossfit with my friend Leah, although it has been temporarily postponed due to reasons beyond our control. (Let’s just say one of us was injured saving a clowder of orphaned kittens from a herd of stampeding elephants. Yeah. That was it.) But still…I AGREED TO GO TO CROSSFIT. While sober.

I’m 42 years old. I am at my lowest weight since the age of 20.5 years old. I’m eyeing my size 14 white 8th grade graduation dress that is hanging in my closet with full intention of being able to button it in the next couple of months. Granted, I am definitely not going to be caught dead wearing it in public. I mean, it’s a 12 year old girl’s graduation dress from 1985! Um, yeah…not the fashion statement I wanna make. But I will probably take a picture of me wearing it. Get your blackmail files ready.

Riverbanks Zoo Zip Line from The State

So, that’s where I am right now. Where do I plan to be in the near future? What are the next fit bucket list goals?

  • Horseback riding. Technically, I could do it now, but I want to wait until I get to 200 lbs. It’s just nicer for everyone.
  • Zip lining. But it can’t be over crazy wide open, high spaces. ‘Cause I would totally freak out for reasons that have nothing to do with my weight! I’ll take a low zip line through some woods.
  • Hiking in the mountains. Not rock-climbing super hero kind of hiking, but just the general “hike through the woods and not pass out” kind. I need plantar fasciitis-friendly boots. Have any suggestions?
  • Tubing down the river. Just waiting to buy a swimsuit that fits!
  • Actually doing Crossfit, successfully. At least once, LOL!
  • Being able to get onto the floor and back up again without having to get on my knees.
  • Being able to plank. I’m close, but not quite there yet. Well, unless you put a big, squishy pillow under my belly. Then, I can totally plank like a superstar! For hours, even! Ha!
  • _______________________________________________________________

You see the last one is a blank space. Why? Because I’m sure you guys out there in Every Woman land have some awesome ideas for challenging activities that this so-far-lifetime-member of the physically unfit club has no clue even exist. Toss me your best ideas! But, ummmm…can we try not to go too high in the air, dangling over open expanses while I imagine the horrible plummet to the ground which is sure to be at least 50 kajillion miles below?

Not that I’m afraid of wide open spaces above the ground or anything. Nope. Not at all. Not. At. All.

By the way, I keep track of all my activity and food and stuff on, so if you want to join the journey and the fun, look me up at “Ldscott716.” We can do this together!!

Exit to Health

By: Lydia Scott 

As some of you may know, I’m a fat girl and have been since kindergarten. No, I don’t consider the use of the term “fat” to be derogatory any more than if I had also mentioned that I am a tall girl. “Tall” means my height exceeds the average, and “fat” means my weight exceeds the average. However, while my excess height doesn’t affect my health in any way, my excess weight has.

What a Waste!

4 year old Lydia and her daddy

4 year old Lydia and her daddy

Over my lifetime I have destroyed my knees, had heart issues that were at least exacerbated by the excess weight, been more severely injured in the multitude of falls I’ve had than if I’d been more fit, and battled severe body image and confidence issues. At the age of 8 and a weight of 140 pounds, I had a male PE teacher say to me, while my class lined up for roll call, “What a waste of such a pretty face, with that fat body!” Yeah, that definitely stuck with me. I had the statement “Gosh, you’d be so beautiful if you just lost weight!” verbalized to me so often as a child and as a teen that subconsciously I became convinced that because of my body size, everything else good about me was wasted.

These experiences lead to an adult me becoming somewhat of a fat acceptance advocate, because I was absolutely determined to prove that I was JUST AS AWESOME weighing 370 pounds and wearing a size XXXXXL as I was if I weighed 130 pounds and wore a size small. As a child, a teen, and an adult, my addiction to food always won. I might not have acquired postpartum cardiomyopathy if I’d been a healthier weight. My knees would not have succumbed to our family’s genetic curse nearly as early. I wouldn’t have had as many dislocations, subluxations, and dents. And hopefully, a lot fewer emotional struggles with body image. But the food still won.

So, what I’m about to say next is not going to sit well with some of you. And that’s okay, because what I’m going to say is the absolute truth…for me. For some of you, it may also be absolute truth, and for others, it may be a complete abomination. See, for me, deep down inside, I have never, ever been happy being an unhealthy weight. I never liked the way my unhealthy figure looked or felt. I was convinced I was meant to be tall and slim, and because of things that happened in my childhood, that was sabotaged. My small skeletal frame and mild joint hyper mobility did not fare well under the extra weight. It’s just never felt natural to me, but because I gained so much weight at such a young age, I had no idea how to behave naturally and in a way that promoted a healthy weight and smaller body. I was told, and came to believe, that my unhealthy weight and size was what I was meant to be, whether it felt right or not.

The “Easy” Way Out 

Lydia at 370 lbs with beautiful daughter-2

Lydia at 370 lbs with her beautiful daughter

In 2001, at my sickest and heaviest at near 370 lbs or more, I was approved for and had Roux-en-y Gastric Bypass surgery. There is a general conception that having weight loss surgery is the easy way out, and that people who opt for the surgery are lazy. I’ve never understood that concept. How could a life-threatening surgical procedure with an often painful and difficult recovery, high risk of malnourishment, depression, and ability to totally change the way you express your dependence on food in the blink of an eye, be the easy way out of a life of misery? Granted, not everyone who has weight loss surgery is miserable, nor does every surgery patient have a dependency on food…but I was and I did.

During my surgery, my blood pressure skyrocketed, and I had to have an injection to get it normalized. I was in the hospital for a few days and mostly on bed rest for two weeks. I had horrible nightmares revolving around raining knives during those two weeks. Despite my ravenous hunger and cravings, all I could do was sip liquids, graduating to little bits of mushy foods. Flavor and enjoyment were things of the past for several weeks and after that, every bite was an experiment in whether I could tolerate it. My ability to taste things changed dramatically, affecting my ability to cook meals. I was exhausted and depressed because I was fighting malnourishment and a stricture that became so severe that I couldn’t keep water down and had to have a “twilight sedation” procedure to open the entrance to my stomach pouch again. I lost a third of my hair during the first six months after the surgery, because I had such a hard time keeping my vitamin levels in check.

Lydia at 320 lbs

Lydia at 320 lbs

I lost about 50 lbs the first 6 months, and then learned how to eat around my surgery. I learned that I had no problem tolerating sugar, that it took up less room in my tiny stomach pouch, and that if I sipped a drink while eating I could fit more food in. So, I regained what I lost. I did a lot of things the wrong way, because my support system was no good, and I was not mentally ready to change my relationship with food.  After a couple of years, some iron infusions, monthly abdominal B12 shots, developing hypoglycemia as a result of surgery-induced nesidioblastosis, and not getting nearly enough therapy, my eating did become more normal, albeit in much smaller portions. But, I was just as unhealthy as I was the day I had the surgery. If surgery was the easy way out, I didn’t want to even hear whispers of how treacherous the hard way was! Y’all are nuts if it gets harder than this stuff! NUTS, I tell ya!


Lydia at 300 lbs in 2011

Lydia at 300 lbs in 2011

So, I’ll bet now you’re asking why in the world I went through all of this misery and risk when I wasn’t mentally ready? Because I was dying, slowly, and I saw no way out of it other than the most drastic measures. I HAD to try SOMETHING, and fast! I had heart failure and all the weight was stressing my heart to death. I couldn’t get up and down off the floor, yet I had two small children. I just couldn’t do it. I felt that the surgical alterations to my body would help right some wrongs that had been inflicted on me as a small child, and give me a chance to be healthy. My daddy told me, just before I had the surgery, that he admired my courage and wished he had courage like I did. I had tried “diets” and exercise throughout my entire life, only to quit within a few months because I just didn’t understand what my relationship with food really was. Despite all my reading and research, I didn’t get it. There was always a part of me that put blame elsewhere with reasons like: I don’t eat that much, I just have a low metabolism; being fat is in my genetics; I was overfed as a baby and this is what my body knows; I can’t afford a gym; and my standby of “it doesn’t matter how fat I am and I’m going to show everyone!”

Shut Up and Do It

Lydia at 235 lbs 2014

Lydia at 235 lbs 2014

If you ask me if I’d do it all again, I would tell you “Yes!” What? Really? I would do all that again even though I didn’t get what I expected? Yes, I would. Do you know why? Because I learned so much about myself and food that I don’t think I could have learned any other way. Because failing at weight loss surgery was a HUGE part of me waking up and realizing the number one thing that FINALLY made things click for me: That there is only one person on the face of this earth who is responsible for my weight issues, and that person is ME. I am the one in total control of my body, my mind, and my direction. Me, and me alone. Regardless of how I got started down the road of unhealthiness, it was ME staying on that darn road, and it was ME that could take the exit to health. I was SICK of saying “oh, I WISH I could go horseback riding, but I just can’t.” Or saying “I’m just too busy to try to eat healthy right now.” Or claiming “my heart can’t deal with much exercise, so what’s the point of doing anything?” All of it was a load of baloney I was feeding myself to avoid the painful truth. There was no reason on the face of this earth why I couldn’t get myself healthy. Period. Again, this only applies to me. There are hordes of people whose health and weight issues are totally beyond their control, and saying any amount of anything won’t change that. But in my situation, there was no unchangeable physical cause blocking health. It was all in my head.

I realized I had to stop thinking. I couldn’t ask myself what I want to eat. I couldn’t ask myself if I was going to work out. Because asking myself opened the door to answering myself, which left me with options. I had no options. There was one path, and I needed to just shut up and DO IT. That has become my personal mantra: Shut up and do it. Stop talking myself out of this or that. Stop rationalizing and making deals with myself. I don’t ask myself if I feel like going to work every morning. I just get up, and DO IT. Why should living healthy be any different? I need to stop talking, stop thinking, and do it. Like work. Like brushing teeth. Like breathing.

And there it was. I had found my readiness and started the weight loss journey with little help from the surgical alterations made so long ago. I can’t say it’s been no help, because my stomach is still about half the size of a normal adult, and the intestinal changes are still present, although it seems my body learned to work its way around that to some degree. But my new process of self control, discipline, attention to detail, and exercise are the things that have caused my weight to go from 370 pounds to my current weight of 235 pounds. It’s been an up and down battle over years, and I still have 70 pounds or so to go to reach a fit level, but I have zero doubts now that I will make it. Why?

Because this time, I’m ready. Because once you’re ready, once you have your “why” then “how” is totally secondary, and will always be “the easy way.”

Do you have a goal that’s haunted you during your life? What’s stopping you from grabbing it? Go get it!