Thursday, March 4, 2021

5 Years Later

5 years later, and I'm still very thankful for this procedure!

2020 pandemic pounds added 5lbs to my typical weight, so I'm back to my 180-185 range.

I now perform regularly with several local bands, including a swing band in Northern Virginia. This Summer we got to perform beneath the wing of The Sentimental Journey - a B-52 Bomber! I felt like Betty Grable.


Photo by Beth Miller-Herholtz

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

3 years later: Comparison Photo

Hello friends!

I'm now nearly 3 years post-op and exactly 1 year since my last post. I miss my dad terribly. I've managed to stay between 180 and 185 for a majority of 2018. In August, I was cast in a role that gave me the kick I needed to get back to my post-op goals.

I had the great honor of playing Dolly Parton and used it as an opportunity to change my hair and eating habits. I lost 15lbs in 3 months by increasing my protein and vegetables while decreasing dairy and carbs and eliminating alcohol. My brother has been on Atkins for years and has been very successful at losing weight. I think we have similar metabolism because my body responds very well when I make a similar adjustment to my eating habits.

The experience of this show was incredibly cathartic. My character has a loving marriage, but she experiences sexual assault and isolation in her workplace. She stands up for herself and overcomes challenges, all while singing great songs written by Dolly Parton. My cast mates were phenomenal and our crew was spectacular. Theatre has been and always will be the greatest outlet for my creativity and energy - and I'm very lucky to have the opportunities to do so.

My Act 1 costume is the same pink wrap dress I wore in my before photos. By the end of the run, it was tied as tightly as I could make it, and it was still too large. This comparison really shows how my chest and stomach are now significantly smaller, but my hips have stayed the same. (I never want to lose my hips or butt!)

It's been a month since our opening night and I've managed to maintain this weight with my adjusted eating habits. I feel great, I look great, and I am still so thankful I had my procedures!

Bonus photo: Here I am as Dolly, with Dolly, and beveling my feet while sucking in my stomach as hard as I can. It's all about the angles, kid.

Monday, November 13, 2017

One year post-op

Hi friends.

I meant to post this after my one year appointment. Now it's been nearly 2 years.

My dad died on December 15, 2016. It was a fatal heart attack that took his life in mere moments. He was in Washington D.C. during a meeting. He wasn't in pain very long and we're thankful he wasn't driving or with his grandkids when it happened. Nonetheless, our lives have been turned upside down.

One Year Post-Op:
The morning of the appointment, I was giddy with excitement that I could show the doctor that I wasn't the Fatty McFatterson I was at my last appointment. I stripped down, put on the paper underwear, and got on the scale - I weighed 173lbs! The doctor came in and didn't believe the scale was correct, so he weighed me again. He then talked about how we can have another procedure to take care of my thighs - no thanks, doc. The nurse took additional photos and I signed a waiver so they could use my photos online. (I haven't seen them posted.)

Life After Post-Op:
I was looking forward to wearing a new dress for Christmas parties and such. With my dad dying a few days after the appointment, I switched to survival mode. I drank, ate, and cussed more - all of which were very helpful. My Christmas dress didn't fit so I wore a snarky sweater instead. Life was mute. I did what I had to do to get through each day.

In January after his funeral, I started eating better again. My weight continues to fluctuate between 175 and 180 and I'm okay with that. The most important thing is that I feel great about myself and my body.

And as an added bonus, here I am as Elastigirl for Halloween 2017 while weighing 178lbs and wearing a size 12:

Big thighs. Big hair. High angles.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Weight Gain and Loss

My lack in posting was not because I forgot I had a blog - it's because I was embarrassed.

On June 13, I had a 6 month post-op appointment. The moment my doctor looked at me, he asked the nurse to bring a scale into the room. I stepped up and the numbers said 184. He looked on his iPad to see what my pre-op weight was; it was 177.

I was 10+ pounds over what I should have weighed.

Doc said something to the effect of, "Well, we can wait until your 1 year post-op to start talking about what other areas we can sculpt or if you need me to go back in again and get rid of some of the new fat." I don't remember the exact words because all I really heard was, "Why did you ruin my masterpiece?"

Within a week, I bought a treadmill from a friend so I could run everyday and get my rear in gear. And I did - I ran everyday for 2 weeks and I felt better and tighter. I didn't see a difference in weight but I loved how I felt. Then July happened. July in Virginia is the worst month to do anything outside. (Note: our treadmill lives in the garage because it wouldn't fit in our basement so I'm basically running stationary with the 4th wall removed to provide some ventilation.) I decided that since I couldn't exercise as often, I should concentrate on eating better.

In July and August, I started eating healthier foods and drinking meal replacement smoothies. I lost 2 pounds and celebrated with pizza, which made me gain it back immediately. It was frustrating and disheartening that all of my work was so quickly un-done by one meal. Nothing was "sticking". Finally in September, I decided to give up bread, excess sugar, and dairy on a quasi LCHF (Low Carb High Fat) plat. My goal is to get to 175 before my 1 year post-op.

Friends, it's this part in the story that makes me most happy and mad at the same time. When I gave up bread, excess sugar, and dairy, I lost 8 pounds in a month.  I did minimal exercise. I did no diet plan.  (I was mad because I didn't do this sooner!) The best part is that this is something I can keep up with intentional grocery shopping and strategic restaurant selections.

The biggest positive effect of cutting out bread, excess sugar, and dairy is that my moods have stabilized at a positive level. My family has a strong history of mental illness (depression, anxiety, self harm, bipolar disorder, and suicidal behavior). I've been on medication previously and it keeps me stabilized as a zombie instead of a fully functioning member of society. In these 3 weeks, my family and I have seen a noticeable difference in my moods and temperament. My brain is less foggy and I can pause before reacting to something that goes awry.

So on this glorious 21st of September, I am officially 176 lbs.

Now onto a comparison photo!

This picture gives the best representation of a "before and after" thus far. I used to hide behind my kids so people could see the beautiful reasons for my fluff. In my 2015 picture, I was wearing 2 pairs of spanx and 2 bras to look as tiny as possible for our friend's wedding. In my 2016 picture, I didn't have to wear spanx or a control top.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Normal Pants Dance

Friends, I completely forgot I was keeping a blog about my surgery. Duties have taken over since returning to work and I'm no longer consumed by the day to day maintenance of post-op life! Yay!

Since my last update, I no longer need to wear compression garments for my abdomen. I sometimes wear my initial post-op bras but they're either stretched out or too large for my slowly deflating bosom.

But hey, guess what?  I can wear normal pants now!! For the first time in 5 years, I can wear pants with a zipper fly that aren't 95% spandex. I recently bought a pair of size 10 jeans from Target and a pair of size 12 red dress pants from NY&Co. My flat stomach means my hips and thighs are now the stars of the show. Shopping for pants requires a great deal of trial and error. I'll continue to shrink little by little as my exercise routine kicks into high gear. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Not Weight Loss Surgery

The need for this post is an unfortunate reality.

With the sudden change in my physical appearance, many have asked if I had weight loss surgery. I did have two major procedures: Abdominoplasty and a Mammoplasty. Neither of these procedures were intended to aid in my weight loss, although they did remove pounds from my overall weight.

I did not have gastric bypass surgery.
I did not have intestinal surgery.
I did not have major liposuction, although it was used in two small areas.

It looks like I lost 20 pounds but the reality is that I currently weigh about the same as I did prior to the procedure. They removed 7 pounds of skin and adipose. I still have a great deal of swelling while I continue to heal. My overall weight is an ineffective method of measurement when it comes to this procedure. It's more accurate to use inches or overall dress size to measure differences in my body. I went from a Large/X-Large to a Medium in my torso and my pant size remains a Large.

I did not put my body through 2 major surgeries in order to lose weight - I did it so I could prolong and improve the overall quality of my life.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Eating For Healing

This surgery has unveiled a body that was hiding under pounds of skin. I'm not going to throw away this opportunity to have my healthy life back!

I am the smallest in a "large" family with a history of obesity and heart disease. Growing up, it was constantly on my mind that I could balloon at any minute. As a result, I trained myself to portion control and avoid extra things like salad dressing, condiments, and cheese sprinkled on top of anything. I now have a relationship with food that can be defined as "necessary". I know I need food to survive and I usually enjoy eating it. But often I eat because I know I should rather than eating because I want to. If I'm stressed or on an adrenaline kick, I forget to eat. However if I'm bored and looking for something to do, I'll snack on something salty and retain water. When I gain weight it's because I eat the wrong foods, not because I eat too much of it.

My definition of good food is somewhat limited. I enjoy food that is equal parts good looking, good tasting, and with limited texture. I eat strawberries sliced in half so my tongue doesn't touch the seeds. I peel off fatty tissue from meat. I eat pizza sideways so I can have equal parts crust and non crust in every bite. My hot dogs have ketchup and only ketchup (unless there's chili in which case there should be only chili.) I'd rather have a slice of fresh baked, buttered sourdough bread than a cupcake. And I don't like cold shredded cheese on top of a hot meal. Ever.

After surgery, I now need more protein to help rebuild tissue.  This means more food that I didn't like eating in the first place. These are the types of food most people think of when they hear "high protein diet." Instead of constantly eating meat, low-fat dairy, and eggs, I'm drinking something called New Whey Liquid Protein. Each 3.8 ounce tube has 42 grams of protein. New Whey comes in a variety of super sweet flavors to hide the fact that it tastes awful. I usually chug the tube then drink a cold glass of water to wash out the taste. Low calorie, low sugar, and a ton of protein. It was especially wonderful when I had no appetite in the week after my surgery.

There are also protein powders and protein shakes on the market. I personally don't like all of the added sugars or dairy products. I'd rather swig a protein tube than sip leasurely on a chocolate banana flavored frozen ingredients that's pretending to be ice cream. 

And can we discuss beef jerkey? It's portable, enjoyable at any temperature, and delicious. (Just remember you need to refrigerate it after opening and that it only lasts a few days.) I tend to buy the natural beef jerky because of the lower sodium content. The girls also love eating it.

Not only am I increasing my protein but I'm also keeping an eye on my iron levels. I tend to be anemic at least 12 times a year. Combatting low levels of iron with protein and iron-rich foods helps minimize my crankiness and exhaustion during those times. I also combine iron with Vitamin C so it will absorb more effectively. (Protip: Don't consume iron with dairy. The dairy prevents the iron from fully absorbing.)

So the moral of the story is that when you're heaing, protein protein protein. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Hosting Christmases

We hosted two Christmases a week after my surgery and I'm still in one peice. 

On Christmas Day, 8 days after my procedure, my in-laws came and brought a bountiful feast of food, presents, and love. The girls were thrilled to have 10 other people to bounce off of besides their exhausted parents. I sat for a majority of the day while directing people on where to find spoons, pots, towels, and other random items in our house. It was great.

The next day, 9 days after my procedure, my parents and my fake aunt and uncle brought the gift of food, presents, and love and the girls were once again thrilled to have 8 other people to bounce off of besides their exhausted parents. I sat a little more and didn't need to direct traffic because my mom knows where everything is. It was great. 

The next day, 10 days after my procedure, I sat for nearly the entire day while the family enjoyed a harvest of leftovers and shiny new toys. 

A nice top paired with yoga pants - a post-surgery staple. 
Hosting 2 celebrations while recovering was a great decision. Our families stepped right up and helped in any way they could. They even cleaned up after themselves which left the house in a better state than when they first arrived.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

New Clothes

Each new day comes with a little more comfort, a little less swelling, and a lot more gratitude.

Yesterday I went through my closet and tried on my favorite dresses. To my relief, 85% of them still fit after my surgery. I'm also now able to bring back some of my favorites that I wore before I was pregnant. Although my circumference shifted, my waist and hips didn't change so even some of the form fitting dresses can still work on my new body.  I'll need to buy some actual pants at some point. For now, I'm going to master the "dress, leggings, and boots" look for as long as possible.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Reflecting on 2015 and all of the blessings we've experienced brings a rush of gratitude to my heart. I turned 30 in February. My sweet girls turned 4 and 2. We paid off all of our school loans - which is an amazing accomplishment for my generation. That financial freedom allowed us to start this chapter of repairing and improving my body so I can improve my health.

2015 was also the year I lost my grandfather. He had several ailments including Lewy Body Dementia. It only took a year for his mind and health to deteriorate. He had the strength of an ox to the very end. My grandmother lost her husband of 53 years. She's currently in a care facility as she battles several ailments herself. Time is precious. Health is precious. They've taught me so much by example and I proudly carry their legacy through my children and traditions.

Here's to another year of gratitude.