One Year

A year ago (well, a year ago 2 days ago) I made the decision to flip my life upside down.

After spending the better portion of the previous 3 years doing nothing but planning for, buying, prepping, photographing, and eating (and eating, and eating, and eating) the most delicious food I could imagine, I decided to give it all up.

I walked in to the Alexian Brothers Weight Loss Solutions clinic with zero expectations. What I knew was this (and I’m sharing things I’ve never shared before because, what the heck):

  • I weighed in at 285.1 pounds, wearing a snug size 22 pants (which should’ve been a 24) and a 22/24 top.
  • I couldn’t walk up stairs without getting winded.
  • I had zero space between my real chin, my second chin, and my neck.
  • I wore a size 46 H bra
  • I was always tired. Always. I woke up tired, worked tired, got home tired, and never slept well.
  • Size 2X men’s t-shirts were snug
  • I wore a size 10 wide shoe, and could not stand wearing any sort of heel for longer than an hour or so.
  • I was sick a lot. If a cold or the flu was going around work, I got it and got it bad.
  • I had consistent skin rashes (in fairly bad places) almost constantly. They hurt all the time.
  • My face was always broken out in horrific painful pimples
  • I wore my fitbit band (because just wearing it would help) on the biggest notch, and it irritated my wrist.
  • I had issues keeping myself as clean as I would’ve liked, as cleaning my whole self in the shower was difficult.
  • I had to have my wedding ring set resized twice, which pained me, as it was the last handmade thing I have from my dad. I wore a size 8.5 ring.
  • My stomach almost always hurt, usually from sheer overeating.
  • Every joint in my body hurt, almost all the time. Even my fingers and toes hurt, and my neck, ankles gave out fairly often, causing embarrassing falls.
  • I had a hard time finding glasses that fit my face, causing ridiculous grooves on the side of my face when I took my glasses off. And forget contacts! They caused a weird allergic reaction.

This was me, always with a smile on my face, but always feeling not quite right.

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I was actually wearing those same pants when I walked into that clinic. They were digging into my stomach as I sat in the waiting room, and I noticed that I had splatters of Frappucino from that morning on the knee. Probably from when I used the straw to scrape the last of the whipped cream out of the bottom of the cup.

After talking with the nurse, dietician, doctor, and my mom, I made a decision to jump in head-first. Meal replacements for a minimum of 12 weeks through OptiFast.

I made it 14 weeks. I slowly added food. I traveled. I learned to not loathe exercise. I lost weight successfully for the first time in years.

Today:

  • I weighed in this week at 198.6 pounds, two up from my low of 196, wearing a comfy size 14 pants and dress, and a 14/L top.
  • I can run up my stairs without a second thought.
  • I have one chin, and a definite neck. I had to buy new chains for most of my necklaces that were 2”-3” shorter.
  • I wear a size 36 J bra, which actually needs to be re-fitted soon
  • Ok, I’m still tired a lot, but a big part of that is my job. However, I can sleep now, and have energy more often than not.
  • I wear a Medium or Large men’s t-shirt
  • My walking shoes are a 9 regular, and my dressier shoes are a 9 1/2 regular. I lost weight in my feet.
  • Except for losing my gallbladder, I’ve only been sick a handful of times.
  • The only skin rash I’ve gotten is from a mean mosquito.
  • I can count on my fingers the number of bad pimples I’ve had.
  • I wear my fitbit band on the second to smallest notch.
  • I take much more pride in my appearance and am no longer “the smelly kid.”
  • I have to have my wedding ring set sized back down, and wear a size 6.5 ring.
  • I only get a stomachache on the rare occasion that I eat off-plan.
  • My joints don’t hurt like they used to. My knees hurt after a long walk (more than 5 miles). No more finger or toe pain, shoulders are good, neck is fine.
  • I can wear almost any pair of glasses I try on now, without the embarrassing side of face lines. I can wear contacts too, but I’m out at the moment!

I’ve lost and maintained an 86 pound loss, and I still have a bit to go. I’m in a plateau at the moment, and my doctor assures me it’s “normal” and he would be satisfied if I could just maintain here.

This is my new normal, minus the fancy hair and makeup!

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This was, by far, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s up there with choosing to marry my husband and choosing to work where I work. I’ve never felt better!

Thank you to all of you, my friends, family, readers, and support system for being there every step of the way! I’ll continue to update here, as I learn more about losing, as my old weight watchers leader used to say, “the hard lard.”

One last progress photo, for fun… my school pictures from last year and this year!

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Summer Vacation: Photo Dump

Back in the food blogging days, every once in a while, I would dump a bunch of photos onto the blog for fun. I’ve got a bunch since, to be honest, summer vacation has not been terribly exciting! I’ve done lots of long walks, lots of time outside, time with friends and family, and my fair share of lazy days too. So, below are just a bunch of photos that sorta kinda show what I’ve been up to!

Me and my sister, August 2013 to June 2014.

Me and my sister, August 2013 to June 2014.

Down 82 pounds here

Down 82 pounds here

Last day of camp to last day of school: down 84 pounds

Last day of camp to last day of school: down 84 pounds

One year apart, 86 pounds down

One year apart, 86 pounds down

Meeting my nephew Logan!

Meeting my nephew Logan, born 6/29/2014

Me and Adam at a Cubs game

Me and Adam at a Cubs game

Me and my friend Ericka, who was visiting from Oregon

Me and my friend Ericka, who was visiting from Oregon

Dinner at Cafe des Architectes with Mary and Lara

Dinner at Cafe des Architectes with Mary and Lara

Strawberry Selfie

Strawberry Selfie

365 days: camp 2013 to visiting camp 2014

365 days: camp 2013 to visiting camp 2014

4 quarts of fresh-picked strawberries

4 quarts of fresh-picked strawberries

My progress page is updated with new side-by-side photos, and my non-food rewards page is updated as well! I was able to achieve one of my small goals of wearing lululemon workout clothes, so my “Onederland” reward to myself was a cute workout outfit!

That’s about all over here… more soon!

Onederland!

After last week’s gain, I was not optimistic about this week’s weigh in. I figured I’d get on the scale and have lost what I’d gained last week.

Have you figured out that when I start out a post with an expectation, it’s usually because the opposite happened?

I got on the scale after shedding my maxi skirt and extra tank top as I have for the last few weeks. I stepped on the scale, and I saw something I haven’t seen since 2007.

There was a ONE at the beginning of my weight number. A FREAKING ONE!!!

I saw 199.6!!!

That puts my total weight loss at 85.5 pounds so far, which according to ILostWhat.com  is the same as 4 lemurs.

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It has been a red-letter week over here, with my “New You” contest win, a 5.8 pound loss, and hitting Onederland (get it? Because my weight starts with a 1?)

There’s three days left of the school year, and I have a lot of packing to do… but at least I know that moving my stuff OUT will be easier than moving my stuff IN. There’s 85 pounds less of me, and I’m tons stronger…in more ways than one!

Brain Progress

So, remember back when I first started losing weight and every single day was an adventure?

Now? Not so much. I pretty much wake up, do my thing, and go to bed.

The thing that’s different though, is what “doing my thing” entails. Most days, back in the What’s for Dinner? blog hey day, my day was very very different than now. Usually, every day (or almost every day) after school involved a trip to the grocery store for dozens of ingredients for some “fabulous” dinner and sometimes baked goods. Hours would be spent in the evenings prepping, cooking, plating, photographing, and finally eating said meal, and then editing the photos and blogging. Not to mention my afternoons were mostly spent completely and totally exhausted, struggling to stay awake past 7:30 p.m. but forcing myself to stay up until 9. But darn it, the blog looked awesome.

Nowadays, I’ve embraced the “plan ahead” method when it comes to food. Early in the week, I purchase enough food for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, and spend a bit of time on Sunday (or Monday if I’m feeling slackish) prepping what I need to. Eggs are hard-boiled. Veggies are chopped. One large amount of protein is cooked. The crock pot, even in this nicer weather, has been a really great friend. One pot of chili or pot roast is enough to last the week since someone I live with doesn’t eat leftovers. These basic proteins are great on salads, in low-carb wraps, or even just on their own with my veggie of choice. I cycle through vegetables too…

I did nothing but eat brussels sprouts for the first few weeks I ate real food, with the occasional cauliflower thrown in. Now, I’m very deeply into grilled asparagus and red peppers. I’m sure that’ll pass in favor of tomatoes soon, but I’m really just excited for Summer produce.

Snacks are simple: Quest bars are my new favorite things. They’re delicious, have LOADS of fiber, only a few accessible carbs, and did I mention DELICIOUS?! I’m talking cookies and cream and cookie dough and strawberry cheesecake, and I really look forward to eating one a day. (Quest hasn’t paid me or anything for this mention, I just really really like them!!) I’m also eating raw almonds (26, no more, no less), string cheese, and 2% cottage cheese. Sometimes these are “meals” and sometimes they’re “snacks”, it all just depends on what time I eat.

Weight loss progress has slowed down a bit, though it’s still headed in the right direction. I’m officially down 82.9 pounds, and am inching my way closer to “Onederland”…that mythical spot where my weight number will start with at “1” instead of a “2”. I honestly cannot believe I’ve come this far. I’m not just talking about the scale, but honestly, the “brain progress” is bigger to me than the weight loss. I’m completely satisfied with a simple meal and good company, and know that eating what I used to consider “normal” will make me feel like utter crap.

Some progress photos:

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With my sister-in-law, Rivian, at her baby shower I threw

Progress

Progress

I treated myself to some new (and probably too expensive) hair color.

I treated myself to some new (and probably too expensive) hair color.

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Crazy difference, huh?

Learning to curl the hairs

Learning to curl the hairs

Now, I have a serious question to ask you: I know many of you are still on the OptiFast full-fast. I was thinking about starting to post some of the recipes I’ve been cooking, but I don’t want to upset anyone. What would you all think about that? Should I just start a new page with recipes or would you like to see them here?

For those of you eating low-carb…what are your favorite foods?

Transition to Food

Oh hey… guess I kind of forgot to update here, huh?

Living not blogging is far more fun 🙂

How about an update then?

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I’m officially down 77.9 pounds which is more than my adorable golden retriever weighs!

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More importantly, I received my bloodwork numbers back from my work health screening. A work health screening was what got me started on this whole thing to begin with, so I was very interested to see what the new numbers would be.

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I’m pretty sure my jaw dropped and I let out a little cheer when I read those results!! I had a few other numbers that were higher (LDL) and some that were a little “off” thanks to my recent surgery. Otherwise though, EVERYTHING was in the “healthy” range for the first time since middle school!

Food-wise, I’ve entered the phase of things that I’ve been scared of since the beginning: all REAL FOOD, all the time. A meeting with the dietitian and a food-centered class and I felt confident enough to start with all food all day. Something my dietitian said really stuck with me: “make your choices as mindless as your Optifast choices were.” So I took a trip to the grocery store.

Breakfast: protein shake made with almond milk, coffee, and whey protein

Snack: two light string cheeses

Lunch: greek light yogurt and 1 serving of raw almonds (25 of them)

Snack: either cottage cheese with sugar-free jam OR a bar OR hummus and peppers (it depends on my schedule)

Dinner: This week, crock-pot chicken barbacoa on a giant salad with cucumber, avocado, tomato, cheese, and light sour cream

Snack: sugar-free fat-free pudding made with 1% milk

Next week will likely be the same or similar. So far, it’s gone well! I am noticing that I’m a bit hungrier, so I may need to make my lunch or snack a little bigger. It’s all a learning process!

As usual, I put together a few progress pictures to keep myself motivated:

Two visits to the Botanic Gardens, a few months and 70 pounds lighter!

Two visits to the Botanic Gardens, a few months and 70 pounds lighter!

At the Botanic Gardens

At the Botanic Gardens

Progress: -77 pounds

Progress: -77 pounds

Progress: -73 pounds

Progress: -73 pounds

OH! And I entered the official Optifast “New You” contest too! Maybe I’ll post my whole essay one day… but here’s my official before and after pictures that I submitted:

Before - Summer 2013, 285 pounds

Before – Summer 2013, 285 pounds

Now - April 2014 - 207 pounds

Now – April 2014 – 207 pounds

And with that, I’m signing off! I’ll check in again soon!

Recovery & Milestones

Ever since I lost my gallbladder, things have been a little bit different around here.

I spent the first week home from the hospital doing a lot of nothing, eating bits and pieces of high-protein foods, and trying to heal. Week two of recovery was spent at work. I noticed that I hit an energy wall at about 1:00 p.m. every day. Apparently, this can be a side effect of having anesthesia (a first for me) and recovering from surgery (another first). Who knew?! I’ve noticed, though, that I haven’t had ONE headache since the surgery, which makes me think that things have been funky for a while… I’d had near daily headaches for months.

The hardest thing has been not being as active as I had been. I never thought those words would ever be a sentiment I truly felt, but seriously, I feel so lazy. I’m still sore on the inside after I eat, and I’m not supposed to exert myself for another 2 weeks, and I can’t lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk for another 4 weeks. Apparently post-surgical hernias aren’t too pleasant…

In weight loss news, I lost 5.8 pounds in the week before and after surgery, and gained one back in the week after. It was hard to not let the gain get to me, but I was reminded time and time again that my body had been through a trauma, and the week before I’d had days where I’d eaten next to nothing. So, my grand total of weight lost so far is…

drumroll please…

74.1 pounds!!!!! I did hit 75 pounds there for a week, and hopefully I’ll be back there this week.

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I’m a lower weight now than I’ve been since 2003. I feel better than I have in years, even with the surgical recovery.

When I hit my 70 pound mark, I knew I needed to do something for myself that I’d wanted for a while. Originally, I’d said I’d get a tattoo at 50 pounds, but since that happened a) quickly and b) in the dead of winter, I opted to hold off until 70.

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I’m in love with it, and am so pleased with how it turned out. I went to Metamorph Tattoo Studio in Chicago, in the Wicker Park neighborhood, and would recommend Zac to anyone who needs ink done. He was awesome!

In other news, the sun finally showed its face here after months of clouds… so I put on my prescription sunglasses. I noticed how differently they fit my face than before, and in shameless selfie comparison tradition:

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I’m hoping to heal quickly and get back to activity soon, and I’m continuing with transition to food, and eating anywhere from one to three meals/snacks a day. I’m supplementing with Optifast products, and noticing the change in my feelings about food. Sure, it’s great to have a great meal… but I don’t need to stuff myself to the point of pain. One big sushi roll with no rice, and I’m good to go. And now I want sushi. But in all seriousness, I’m still in shock as to how different I feel about eating. I’m not going to eat things that don’t taste good, but I’m also not eating ALL THE THINGS!

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I eat some of the things. In small quantities. And only when I’m hungry. This is an important part of this whole resetting thing. Food is fuel…delicious fuel, but still fuel.

171 Days

It’s been 171 days of following my plans.

171 days of high-protein, low-carb, completely different eating (and “eating” in those early days).

171 days of avoiding sweets, pasta, bread, potatoes, and other starchy foods I’d come to call friends over the last few years.

171 days of re-teaching myself how to eat for fuel and necessity rather than solely for pleasure and comfort.

I think it’s fair to say I’ve come a long way.

As of this week, I’m down 68.1 pounds.

According to a fun list I found online, and a few of my own calculations, I’ve lost:

  • 68 guinea pigs
  • a baboon plus an average human brain
  • 3.5 automobile tires
  • 4.25 sperm whale brains
  • An elephant’s penis
  • $1,459,519.20 in gold (at $1339.50 per ounce, today’s cost)
  • 3 bags of our dog’s food
  • 1 of the members of our 6th grade wrestling team
  • 272 sticks of butter

I’ve still got a ways to go…but seeing my progress this far has been SO motivating! I get to eat real food snacks starting this week, so I’m down to three meal replacements! I’m counting down the days until Spring Break, since I’m heading to Phoenix for a few days. Warmth is much-needed after this hell of a winter.

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Me and my bestie, Lizz, at her birthday party last weekend