The Scale is NOT the Only Indicator of Success

So many people have a poor relationship with their scales. Personally, I can relate. For many years, when the number on the scale went up, my self-esteem went down. I hope this doesn’t happen to you, but if it does, I can completely relate.

Re-Imagining the Scale

As time has gone on, I have really come to see the scale for what it is. It provides information or a data point for us to help us measure our successes. So many people say that muscle weighs more than fat. It does not. It is more compact and takes up less space in our body, but a pound is a pound. A pound of fat is just more volume than a pound of muscle. Essentially you can weigh more but look better and be leaner.

Hormones and my lymphedema can cause me to weigh more too. Fluctuations happen and are absolutely natural. In one day, I can go up as much as ten pounds or even day to day, especially when it’s my time of the month.

What are some other ‘measurements’ you can use?

Personally, I like to take measurements of my bust, hips, waist and thighs. These are areas that help me determine where I’m at over a time period. Images work well too. I didn’t take enough during my weight loss journey, but the ones I did take show a dramatic difference. That’s success.

I do NOT look like the same person. When I look I the mirror, however, I still see my fatter self. Body dysmorphia is common in weight loss surgery survivors. It’s a distorted way of seeing ourselves. It’s kind of funny, but sometimes it takes me two or three times of looking in the mirror for my eyes to focus on my new reality, my new body.

Seeing the way my clothes fit also helps me determine my progress. When my clothes fit well, I feel well. When they’re loose, I get new ones. I like to go thrift shopping for my gear since I have dropped so many sizes. I know – what a problem to have!

Health Measurements

Not only do I like to measure myself and see how my clothes fit, I have achieved so many health goals. These are great successes and they help me put things in perspective. For example, I can:

  • Hold my own doing exercise videos for up to 45 minutes at a time.
  • Perform complex yet no impact isometric exercises to tighten, lengthen and tone.
  • Ride my recumbent bike for up to 45 minutes. I can do about 9 miles in that time.
  • Move from a resistance level 1 to a resistance level 7 on the bike.
  • Add in High Intensity Interval Training twice a week.
  • Walk longer distances without getting fatigued.
  • Make healthier food choices. I actually crave avocados, quinoa and kale now. I never thought I would be able to say that.
  • Find sugar too sweet and prefer to keep it out of my life.
  • Manage cravings while eating intuitively.

I hope that you can see by this article that the scale is not the only indicator of success and well, it shouldn’t be. It’s a data point just like BMI is. It’s a piece of information in the puzzle of healthy weight loss. I recommend weighing once a month on the same day of the month and at the same time, preferably first thing in the morning. I weigh naked and after I urinate to stack the odds in my favor. You choose what to do that’s best for you. Some clients weigh themselves daily. I remind them to take an average over the course of the week if they do that. I would make the same suggestion to you.

For more information or to begin working with me, contact me via this website or call me at 512-484-7634.  

Discomfort and Personal Growth

I’ve recently learned that getting comfortable with discomfort is an important skill. We all need to cultivate it. Life is not always pretty or simple, or, let’s face it, easy. Life can be hard and it can be ugly. It can be downright uncomfortable.

Popular psychology will tell you that you should never feel anything but good and happy and comfortable. It really does us a disserve. There are great learning lessons in every emotion or feeling we face. We should not be afraid to feel and definitely not afraid to feel discomfort.

Right now, I’m uncomfortable as all heck. My life has not been going easy. I am having difficulties I did not imagine or anticipate. I am also learning a lot about myself as a result and learning that life still goes on even if everything is not perfect.

We need to lean into discomfort and discover what it has to teach us. Yes, we can learn a lot from discomfort. We can become better as people. I want to be the best version of myself. Lately, I haven’t been and it’s come back to bite me.

Yes, even life coaches don’t get it perfectly. We struggle. We’re human. We make mistakes. However, as a life coach, I feel obligated to learn from my mistakes. I try not to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. I’m not saying it never happens. That would be a life. However, I’m getting better at it and I’ve uncovered a whole bunch of new messes to get myself into.

Life is messy. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. In those moments and experiences, we can learn so much about who we really are and what we are capable of handling. We are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for. If we are okay with being uncomfortable and living with discomfort, we will see just how much we can accomplish.

We are amazing creatures and meant to do so much. So, feel your discomfort and get comfortable with it. If you need help getting there, I’m available for sessions. I’d love to work with you on this process. I’ve been there. Heck, I am there. I know what you’re going through.

Contact me at 512-484-7634 today.

The Power of Forgiveness

forgivenessThis is going to be a bit of a departure from my normal posts. I am writing about forgiveness. From the Greek for “letting go”, forgiveness is a difficult concept for many of us to grasp. Many of us think that it’s like the saying, ‘forgive and forget.’ No, that’s not true. You don’t to forget the past. However, you need to put it in the past where it belongs so it doesn’t mess with your present and your future.

For many years, I’ve been afraid to visit my family in Boston. I avoided them. I made excuses. I just didn’t want to deal with the feelings they brought up in me. I had significant trauma surrounding it. I won’t bore you with the details here. It’s not important. Not anymore and that’s the truth.

This past weekend, I went to visit my mom and dad and sisters. I have two brothers who don’t live in the area. I got to spend one on one time with everyone. I asked for forgiveness and got it. I realized that I wasn’t easy to live with. I saw them for the flawed people they are and forgave myself for being a flawed individual too. I’m not perfect. Nobody is and you know what  that’s okay with me now. I hope it always stays that way for me.

I think it will. When my mother extended her arm and told me that she remembered everything about me in her heart because she’s always loved me unconditionally, I cried. I am tearing up as I type these words. I love my mother. She is the type of person who will give a stranger the shirt off her back. She is that kind. She is going through a difficult time, and she’s lonely. I don’t want her to be.  I am going to be a better daughter to her and my dad from now on.

I am planning a trip to Boston again in January. I want to see them more often. I felt loved and appreciated. I felt heard and I believe they did too. It was a beautiful experience. You can go home again. You can heal the past. You just have to be open to it. I don’t want to lose more years like the ones I’ve lost so I won’t.

We make time for the things that are important to us and my family bonds are important to me. I know this now. It’s part of who I am and I wouldn’t have gotten there without forgiveness in my heart. Forgiveness is NOT weak. It’s extremely powerful. I will be a better person, a better coach, a better parent and a better daughter and sibling because of it. I feel so much joy thinking about it that  my heart may burst. That’s a beautiful thing.

I really feel 160 lbs lighter now. That’s pretty amazing, don’t you think?

My Life-Long Stuggle with Obesity, Part 2

obesity width=Where did we leave off? Oh yes, I was in despair and just dxed bipolar. At this point, I went into an outpatient program at Shoal Creek Mental Hospital in Austin. It was run by Penny Kruger. She’s a DBT master. DBT stands for Dialectical Behavior Therapy. It helps you control your impulses and be more mindful. DBT literally saved my life. I began working with her after the program was finished. Then, I went to support groups that she ran for several years.

I also found a good therapist, Laura McDowell, who I see to this day. My psychiatrist, J. Bernard Cordoba is there to help me as well. Alexa Sparkman, who runs support groups for Overcoming Mind Hunger, is a nutritional counselor who taught me how to actually learn what hunger and satiety were. As a bulimic, I never felt full. I needed and still need these professionals to help me navigate my life.

Yes, I got help. I need it.

The important thing is that I got help. I finally gave up trying to do it on my own. At this time, I lost some weight, but not a lot. I even had a lap band done in 2010. It was not a success. I mean I lost weight. Prior to surgery, I was about 400 lbs. My highest weight ever was 444. Yes, I had trouble typing that. It’s unacceptable to me. I am disgusted by it, but I own it.

The first time I walked into Alexa’s support group, I could only eat pudding and soft foods. If I tried anything more ‘intense’, I would get stuck and have to go back to the surgeon to un-fill my band. Three years of that and I had had enough. The new surgeon decided he wanted me to have the duodenal switch. One side effect was uncontrollable diarrhea. Thanks, but no thanks. I fired the doctor and left bariatric surgery behind.

Or so I thought.

Overcoming Obesity on my own was not easy or possible.

I tried over the next few years to lose weight on my own. It was difficult. I went gluten free, cutting out most carbs. I had a little success, but regained almost all the weight I had lost from the band. You know what – I felt like a real loser. I was down, but not out. Then, I busted my meniscus. This was on December 13, 2016. All I did was step down on it.

The weight I was carrying on my legs had finally harmed them. I was a little surprised that it took that long. The orthopedist would not help me. He said I was too fat. I hired a new orthopedist who said she wanted to help me but could not do surgery until I got down to a 40 BMI.  At that point, I made an appointment with a surgeon and began the process to have the sleeve.

Sleeve Surgery – My rebirth day

My sleeve operation was on 6/6/17. I like to think of it as my re-birth-day. I don’t look at food the same way.  You know what – I don’t eat food the same way. I have lost over 130 lbs. I am not morbidly obese anymore. As of this writing, I am just obese and heading towards overweight. I can shop in department stores.

I can fit in restaurant booths, bathroom stalls, plane seats and more. I go to concerts. My husband and I even climbed Mt. Bonell, the tallest point in Austin. I don’t need knee surgery anymore. No, I don’t. I’ve taken enough stress off my joint to manage the pain with shots.

My orthopedist was proud, but I was prouder. I knew how hard I worked to get there.

Where I am today

I am proud of my accomplishments, but I know I am not done. The sleeve is a tool that helped me get my life back. Things aren’t perfect. I may need my gall bladder out. I may have a GI disease which caused a lot of my problems with the lap band and makes eating certain foods an impossibility right now.

I don’t care what challenges life throws at me, anymore. I have honestly overcome so much in my life. This is nothing. I love my new life and I am grateful to the professionals and friends I have rooting me on.

If you doubt doing this surgery, that’s understandable. If you can find another way, do it. I encourage you no matter what. Weight loss is not easy. Please don’t go on a diet. Change your life. You have to want it and you have to be willing to change, but it’s so worth it. I can help you. I can support you. I have been you. I hope you know that now because of my story.

Now, I get to write the next chapters and they will be happier than the last ones. I know this to be true.

Missed part one? Read it now.

My Life-Long Struggle with Obesity, Part 1

ObesityOkay, please bear with me as this post may get a little long. I am going to try and condense it some, but it’s emotionally charged and difficult to write. I am doing this to share my story with you and because well, I think some of you, at least, can relate to it. For me, it’s important that you know you are not alone and you should NOT be ashamed.

Force-Fed Into Obesity

When I was a baby, I hated eating. My parents told me they force-fed me. Yup. Can you imagine? By the time I was two, I was a stress eater. Carbs were my go-to. Donuts, cookies, cake. My mother tells me this. At the age of four, I began to put on weight as I started school and discovered that I had severe anxiety that would go untreated for decades.

What Food Became for Me

Food was my comfort. My best friend. I had trouble making and keeping friends. I was a shy, overweight child. I got teased and picked on. Some of the taunts remain with me to this day. I know that children can be cruel without realizing it, but sometimes adults can be too. I was made to feel ashamed of my unruly body for decades. To this day, I still carry some of that shame, I am sorry to say.

The Obesity Conundrum

My mother and nonna (Italian for grandmother) would encourage me to ‘mangia’ (eat) in one breath and in the next chastise me for gaining weight. We were fed pasta 6 nights a week for years and had big Sunday family dinners that lasted for hours. I was also sometimes the only kid at Weight Watchers or Diet Workshop. Oh God. Those memories are still hard to conjure up. People were nice enough, but I knew I didn’t belong. I didn’t want to either.

Who knows now, but I guess I was up against it. By the time I was a teen, I was about 180. I was still athletic and well, I danced ballet, tap and jazz. What I wanted more than anything was to do toe ballet. My instructor would not sign off on it because my legs were ‘too heavy.’ I am bottom heavy, shaped like a pear. This broke my heart and when I broke my ankle a few months later, I decided it was time to give up on that dream.

The Turning Point – Morbid Obesity

When the ankle broke, my parents, who didn’t take me to the hospital right away, felt guilty. They fed me over and over again to show how sorry they were. I didn’t have the strength or the desire to fight the food and I ballooned up to 240. I was the fat freshman on crutches. I stood out like a sore thumb when all I wanted to do was blend in.

High school boys can be mean. I was harrassed and teased mercilessly. I ate lunch alone and was humiliated by the prospect of going to school every day. However, school was my safe haven. Things at home weren’t great either. I was also getting pressure to lose weight from my nonna, who believed appearances were important. As a perfectionist and straight-A student, I was once told, “you’d be perfect if you lost weight.”

Bulimia Was My Way Out – or So I Thought

I was also told that I should do what my cousin did to lose weight. My cousin had just gotten out of the hospital for bulimia. My nonna told me that at the age of 14. I resisted the advice for several months because I felt it was wrong. Then, after going to the park wiht a friend, and being teased mercilessly by some boys whose faces I will never forget but names I don’t even know, I stuck my fingers down my throat for the first time but not the last.

I vowed to lose weight any way possible. I drank pickle juice straight from the jar. Yes, I made myself vomit. I overexercised. As a result of all of this “effort”, I got down to 160 but I looked about 130. Like most of my family, I have a big frame. I am not meant to be small. At the end of the summer, I went back to school as a sophomore transformed. I had friends and attention.

But I had lost my soul.

Bulimia is NOT the Answer

I would struggle with bulimia until I was 40. The only time I kicked it was when I was pregnant with my two children, ages 21 and 15. Bulimia is not a weight loss method. It helped me become morbidly obese, but I couldn’t stop the behavior. My weight spiraled out of control during my pregnancies and in-between them.

I was also unmedicated bipolar but did not know that until I was 35 and diagnosed after a near-suicide attempt in front of my husband and young children. I was in that much pain. To this day, I regret it. Deeply.

I had become that which I hated the most and I wanted to die. As a result, I thought obesity had defeated me. Don’t worry, it didn’t.

(To be continued. Read part two here.)

A Challenging Time

I feel my real power as a coach and as a person comes in sharing my story. Not everyone agrees with me, but they don’t define me so I’m going to get real here. I have had some complications from my current bariatric surgery. I still am pleased that I have had the surgery. I have gained more from it than I ever expected and well, I am proud of it. I’ve been having a challenging time, however.

However, a few months past I noticed that I was feeling stuck a lot. I threw up a little more. I thought I was eating too fast so I really watched that. It continued. In February, I called my surgeon and asked what to do. He suggested I see my gastroenterologist and get an endoscopy to find out what was going on.

Well, I did that. The GI doc had other ideas. He wanted to put me on an expensive medication that was basically Nexium. I’m sure he had his reasons, but I was disappointed.

Then, things got worse. I tried acupuncture and reiki. I was convinced it was me, that I had somehow not accepted the surgery or was eating the wrong foods or doing something wrong. I stopped eating after 5pm as the GI doc suggested. I made sure I got in my protein – even though I can’t eat meat (another complication) – and really made sure to eat slow. I started exercising again. I had stopped because I was so tired from throwing up. I just did it anyway.

I had a follow-up with the bariatric surgeon on March 21. He was upset that I was throwing up so much. He ordered a barium swallow. I had that on the 26th. The next day, he called me himself to tell me to go to the ER if I got dehydrated, which I haven’t, or get an endoscopy ASAP. The GI doc’s office originally wanted me to wait til the 29th to see someone to get approval for the endoscope. No. I complained and got an appointment that day.

I was hoping to have the scope that day. Didn’t happen. I have to wait until April 3, unless I get dehydrated first. Then, I must go the ER and my bariatric surgeon will make them admit me and scope me. I don’t want to get dehydrated. It’s not pretty. So I slowly sip drinks throughout the day and night. I am having trouble sleeping because I can’t hold down all of my medications.

I still don’t know what’s wrong and I hope on that day, I will get some answers. I am kind of hoping that the GI doc can’t fix it. I don’t really trust him. I have made an appointment for follow-up with a new GI doc on April 17.

I do not like being treated poorly by doctors. Basically, I am on liquids right now and potentially for the foreseeable future. I am bipolar and have to grind up my meds. They taste horrible. It makes me cry to do this. In fact, I’ve been mad and sad and have had a lot of emotions. I am just taking it as easy as I can and being gentle with myself and trying to laugh a lot.

I will fight. I am a warrior. Again, I do not regret this surgery. The problem is most likely easily fixable. I don’t want you to fear putting your needs first. I don’t want you to fear a health crisis. No matter what it is, you can cope with it. The not knowing is hard. I’m lucky to have great professionals like a life coach and a therapist and a psychiatrist. I’m lucky to have great friends. I love them so much. I have a fantastic family.

This only makes me stronger. It makes me more conscious that my passion is to help people like me overcome my challenging time. If I can do it, I know you can too.

Thank you for reading this post.

Bariatric Troubles

I understand bariatric troubles. My first surgery was in 2010. I was about 420 before the lap band. My doctor didn’t want to do it, but I was afraid of what I then called ‘mutilating my stomach.’ I had a sister who had the bypass and she was completely a mess. I know most of it was her own making, but there were mistakes by the surgeon as well.

I was scared to have the bypass. The sleeve wasn’t used then so the other options just seemed worse. I persuaded the surgeon to do the lap band. It happened in March of 2010. On surgery day, I was 397. I got down to about 268 in about a year and a half. I enjoyed a trip to Disney, but I was pretty miserable. I throw up a lot. We kept going in to readjust the filling and then sometimes taking out the filling on the lap band. I’m not going into specifics here, but basically you have a port, they put liquid in and it keeps your stomach ‘fuller’ so you eat less.

Eventually, I had to have the lap band removed. The new doctor I was using wanted me to get the duodenal switch. I said hell no and walked out of his office, vowing to lose weight on my own. I worked with a nutritionist and my therapist to figure out why I was addicted to food. You see I was really food addicted and I believe that many people who have these surgeries are. No one during this process prepared me for the feelings of loss and loneliness I’d feel without being able to overeat. No one told me that I would feel mental stuff because of this physical change.

I worked on myself for three years. I did try a lot of things to lose weight. I kept gaining. In December of 2016, I was at 387 lbs. I also tore my meniscus in my knee. I needed knee surgery but couldn’t have it because of my size. I decided to go back to a new doctor and get the sleeve. I went through the process. I prepared myself mentally and physically. I had the sleeve on June 6, 2017. I have, to date, lost 115 lbs from my high weight of 387. I still have a long way to go. 272 is good, but my goal is 175. I will get there.

Food is not an issue for me. I do still struggle with regurgitation and vomiting. I’m currently working with my surgeon to figure out what’s wrong. I have bad days and good days. I understand the process is not easy, but I am not a food addict anymore. Food is just food. A cookie, my food love, is now just a cookie and I don’t care if I eat it or not.

It’s very freeing and allows me to do other things and focus on other things like being a life coach and helping others like me. I’ve been there. I get it. Thank you for hearing some of my story.

One of my biggest fears

The other day I was looking through my online support groups on Facebook. I saw someone mention that they were a few years out of the bariatric surgery and couldn’t understand why they were gaining the weight back. They mentioned they weren’t exercising as much and eating ‘forbidden foods’.

I had to hold back my anger. Yes, a life coach can get angry. I’m still a human being. When I thought about why I was angry, I realized it was more fear. See, this person was expressing one of my biggest fears – that I’ll slip, fall back into my addiction and the weight will creep back on.

Even after losing 115 lbs, I fear this. I know that I’ve put in the work and the effort to lose the weight. I’ve also worked with professionals and on myself to get over the mind hunger. Mind hunger is the addiction. Food is an addiction. Particularly addiction to sugary and processed foods.

Food was the way I coped with everything – or not coped. I used it to soothe, to comfort, to stuff down what I was feeling because I felt the feelings were too painful to cope with. I wasn’t living my most authentic life. I was just existing.

Now, I live and I am a survivor. I am grateful for my life and the clarity that comes with eating well and taking care of myself. However, I feel like there’s still a monster inside of me waiting her time to come out and take over. Can I keep her at bay? Can I deal with her long-term? Am I strong enough to do this?

I don’t know all those answers. I suspect that I am. I have a workable program. I have professionals around me. I have a supportive family and I don’t honestly crave food the way I once did. I have coping mechanisms and I’m not so scared of feelings anymore.

I wish I could tell this person that they need to be aware of their behavior and that it’s possible to get help if they want it. I crave the ability to help people going through things like this. I want to show them that they can believe in their own power and they can overcome so much. Weight loss is a struggle of the mind, body and spirit. It’s not just about willpower or discipline. It’s about so much more.

I will continue my fight life-long and that’s okay. I’m up to the challenge.

I’m Officially A Life Coach

Last night, I completed my certification program through Rhodes Wellness College. I loved the experience of experiential learning that Rhodes has to offer. I feel prepared and ready to take on the world. I want to make an impact as a life coach and as a person.

I feel that Rhodes is a great program for anyone who wants to help themselves and others. I took each lesson to heart and really implemented it in my own life. I feel ready to help others. I have learned so much about empathy, problem solving, the stages of change and more.

I am competent. I am capable. I have worked with my classmates, whom I adore. They are all strong women and I would highly recommend any of them if we were not a natural fit. I plan to continue to follow their progress and spearhead a once-monthly meeting where we connect and share.

I also plan to peer coach with a few of them because I do want to get my International Coach Federation (ICF) credentials. That’s my first goal as a life coach. I really want to be there for my clients and show them how authentic I am. I love being a life coach. It’s my dream job and I am passionate about it.

I’m so proud of my accomplishment an I am amazed that I did it. I am celebrating me today and encourage you to celebrate yourselves for whatever you can find to celebrate. You deserve to celebrate you.

Namaste.

Why I love life coaching

Life coaching excites me. It is something I am so passionate about. Being a life coach is not something I every really thought of being until about a year ago. I was plodding along, periodically wondering if I should go to grad school for history, which was my college major, and become a professor. I was also contemplating getting a degree in counseling because I am a compassionate person who wants to help people.

I’ve thought of being an acupuncturist, an addictions counselor, a nutritionist and many other things. I am also a writer and wanted to work that into my career path. I had forged a decent home-based business as a writer so I could raise my kids and be there for them, but now they’re 15 and 20. They don’t need me around that much.

My own life coach suggested that maybe this was a good path for me. I immediately knew he was right. It was the answer I had been looking for. I joined a program at Rhodes Wellness College and have loved every minute of the process. I love coaching. It’s just a conversation between two people who are very in tune with the process and working hard to find solutions for one person, the client. My clients do the hard work. I hold space for them and I learn something new about myself every time.

Giving to others helps me give back to myself. I can’t believe I get paid to do this. I know that coaching can work miracles. I want to share my passion with you and help you achieve the life you want.

If you’re looking to become a life coach, check out this program from iNLP Center.