Sunday, December 2, 2012

EXERCISE ROUTINE

Hi Everyone,

I have noticed that as more weight comes off, it comes off slower. That can be very discouraging to many of us. Exercise must be incorporated into our new lives if we want to continue to succeed. Even if all you are doing is walking every day, at least you are getting out and moving your new body around.

Having served in the United States Navy, I used to run every day. That was something that I definitely missed about being able to do with my body. I had gotten so big that I could barely walk from the couch to the door...much less to the park to go for a run. But now, with my new body and attitude, I was ready to get back to running. I started off slowly at the gym on the treadmill doing the Couch25K program. Then I realized that the weather outside was so nice that I decided to take my running outside.

I go to my local park and there is a path that all the way around is approximately 1.5K. I downloaded a pedometer on my iPod, turned on my music and away I went. I find that as the days go on I am able to run a little more each time. My schedule nowadays is to run around it one time and then sit for about 2 minutes and then run around it again. I am slowly working on the stamina to not have to stop during my time around. I am slowly building myself up to run a 5K at the end of March 2013.

However, one thing I have discovered, running is not enough. Our bodies tend to get used to the same treatment that we put them through every day and that is also where the plateaus find us. I decided to go back to my gym and take advantage of the free 1 hour meeting with a personal trainer. She went over all my measurements and what my heart rate should be at as well as what kind of schedule I should put my body through.

When I completed the meeting with her I set up a meeting with another employee from the club who took me through a one-hour orientation of how to use the strength-training equipment. Some of the equipment I knew how to use, but there were quite a few machines that I did not know how to use. It was also a very enlightening meeting!

So for now, my schedule is Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I do strength training and then a run; Tuesdays and Thursdays I only do running. Turns out your body needs 48 hours in between strength training so that you have less injury and soreness. I also found out that strength training burns the same amount of calories (and sometimes more) as cardio does. The trainer said that approximately an hour of strength training burns between 800 and 1000 calories!! WOW!! One of the reasons is because your body continues to burn calories even after you leave the gym.

I can attest to one thing...when I don't work out for a few days, I do NOT lose any weight. My body has definitely decided that it wants me to be healthy and active...and really, that's A-O-K! ;)

Cheers and Much Love!
Ellen

Four Months (24 weeks) Post-Op

Hi Everyone,

I am feeling so guilty for not keeping up with the blog so that many of you will know how our daily lives change post-op. My last blog was in July just about a month after my surgery and so much has happened since then.

I can tell you that it has been a series of ups and downs. There was a period post-op from about 4-8 weeks where I suffered from some depression. From what I understand, that is normal. Our bodies are going through so many different changes and this can also mess with our minds! The first few weeks of eating nothing but soft foods is also very difficult because even though we had surgery to curb our way of eating, it's hard to change the mind to thinking of things differently. My mind was still saying it wanted pizza or hamburgers, but I knew that my tummy would reject all junk!

I followed the diet almost exactly to what the doctor and nutritionist said to do. The only problems I had then (and still have now) are getting any enough proteins because I am not crazy about the protein drinks. I was allowed to drink the Boost with no sugar added or the Premier Protein shakes that are found at Costco. I did not like the flavor of any of them so I learned how to make my own and that has helped some. I am still tweaking the receipe, but I am determined to get it right. I will post a different blog with some recipes on making your own shakes later.
Tomorrow will mark 24 weeks since my surgery date. I have had my 3 month post-op to the nutrionist and all went well! He would like me to get in more protein, but was happy with my results. All of my bloodwork came back great so I guess the vitamins are working their magic.

The last four months have definitely been a rollercoaster ride, but so worth it! I am still learning what I can and cannot eat. There are days that chicken agrees with me and days that it does not. I am also still learning when I am full. Some days I will stop eating thinking I am full and then within a half-hour to hour I am hungry. I try to stay away from the bad carbs and things I should not eat. I have no tried steak since my surgery. I am too scared! I have tried a little pulled brisket bbq and it did not bother me at all. I am trying to learn that I must chew the food to death before swallowing or I suffer from dumping syndrome. That for me most days is where it feels like the food is stuck. I know that some people will make themselves throw-up in order to get rid of that feeling, but I have been unable to do that. I usually just try to drink a lot of water and belch up the feeling.

I cannot think of any bad side effects that make me regret having this surgery. So far I am still completely happy with my decision. I have lost a total of 87 lbs; having gone from 268 lbs to 181 lbs. I would do this again because it has made such a huge improvement to my life and health. I no longer have diabetes...my blood pressure is under control and I can run and exercise nowadays! The health benefits alone have been worth it! :)

Cheers and Much Love!
Ellen

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

It's Been Awhile

Hi Everyone!

I know it has been a couple of months since my last blog! It was really busy leading up to my surgery. I had a teacher certification exam I needed to take June 9th and then my surgery was June 18th! It has been a busy and very eventful start to my summer...so sit back and enjoy the following post :)

So my last blog indicated that I had no idea when my surgery would be. The people in the bariatric office made it seem like it would be months and months away. But in May I got a call that my surgery would be in June and I was so excited! But there was so much to prepare for. I had been studying for a couple of months for an examination that was coming up and now I also had to prepare myself to start my Optifast diet before my surgery. There were also the little things like cleaning out my house and doing some things I felt were necessary to ready my home and family for all the changes that would be occuring.

So skipping along to the surgery day...here goes! I'll admit, I was hungry. It was a gruelling process of that Optifast shake. I don't think I can ever drink any kind of chocolate shake again. My surgery was scheduled for 2 o'clock in the afternoon on Monday, June 18th, 2012. That morning I got up, saw my kids off to school and at noon my husband walked me into the surgery center. I was so nervous. I didn't know what to expect. The nurses were pretty nice. They got me all prepped and then allowed my husband to come to the back while we waited for the surgery to happen.

When it was time they wheeled me down to the operating room. It was so big and bright. I remember thinking how modern everything was...there were huge flat screens for the doctors to see every aspect of the surgery. I had been nervous about the going under the anesthesia. I am very clausterphobic and was actually panicking about them putting the mask on my face. I told the nurses about this in advance and they were really gentle about the whole process. I remember having such a heavy feeling in my head...a heavy pounding just before I went to sleep.

The next thing I know, I'm awake and I'm in pain! Let's not kid ourselves here...I had just had a major surgery. I believe my surgery started between 2:30 and 3:00 in the afternoon and I was in my room by 6 pm. My husband and three children came in shortly after, but I remember telling him to get the kids out of the room...I did NOT want them to see me in such pain. I found out later that it really scared my middle child...he was crying and upset. I felt horrible.

The next 24 hours are a daze. I was in so much pain and did not want to move. I was also very sick. I began throwing up in the evening...violently throwing up. It hurt so much...more than words can ever describe! We don't know if it was the anesthesia or the morphine that was making me sick. However, after they took me off the morphine and put me on another medication I did not throw up anymore. I felt really bad for my roommate. She had the surgery a couple of hours before me and was not having complications and I felt like I was keeping her from resting.

I threw up about 1/2 dozen times the first two days and leaked out of one of my incisions the first time I tried to get up. I could not sit up or turn on my side. It was miserable. I know that at some point I said something to my husband about "why did I do this to myself?" Although looking back, I would still do it again.

I stayed in the hospital until Thursday night. I should have gone home Wednesday, but given the complications I had, they made me stay an extra day. Please stick around for he next blog when I discuss coming home and coping with daily life right after this major surgery.

Stay tuned!

Cheers and Much Love,

Ellen

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Living In The Gutter

Hello My Peeps,

I hope that the last few days since I have written last find you all well? I have had one heck of a week! I find myself becoming more antsy with the approaching surgery. I left the surgeon office on Tuesday morning and was told that the secretary would be calling me with my surgery date...it's Sunday and I'm still awaiting the call...tick tock...tick tock. Don't they know how we are on pins and needles and nervous and anxious enough? So I continue to wait...

While I'm waiting, I have delved deeper into my studies. I still need to take number 3 of 3 teacher certification exams. I got my Master's in Adolescent Education a couple of years ago but then there are a series of tests that the State of NY requires before putting us in a classrooom full of children waiting to hear our knowledge. Since this is something I have coming up in June, I figure if I spend my days studying to my heart's desire, time will go by faster. Now if only that theory worked! I find myself waiting for the phone to ring...wanting to call the office to see if they called and I missed it...something!

On a good note, my husband and I decided to go on a date last night. It was wonderful! We have three children but we always do things with our kids. Alone time for us is rare. However, they have now reached the ages of 14, 12 and 7 and I figured if I hired a babysitter, she'd be as old or younger than my older son! So we went on a short date last night to 'test the waters' and see how they would do.

The first thing we did was ensure they had something to keep them busy. So we got them a new movie to watch which kept them busy for about and hour and a half. When the movie was over we allowed them to pull out their Nintendo Gamecube if they felt they could get along and play nice with each other! Sometimes our 7 year old daughter gets a little rambunctious and that's where the majority of my worry came in ;)

Now with this in order, my husband and I took off...tires peeling out of the driveway! What would it be like to sit down to dinner at a restaurant and not have three kids constantly listening or interrupting our conversation? What would it be like to not have to order the kids food first and cut up their meat and make sure they are happy? We were finally going to be able to have grown-up conversation! I couldn't wait!

So we get to the restaurant and are seated at a nice corner booth kind of away from everyone. We sat across from each other and just enjoyed the company and conversation that we have always had to offer one another but are rarely able to engage in. We shared an appetizer and I enjoyed a small steak and shrimp with an order of twice baked potatoes. I figure this is not something I will be able to enjoy after my surgery so I really enjoyed every bite! Now the question is...did we call the kids during dinner? That is a big fat NO! ;) The only phone call made during dinner was to the bowling alley to reserve a lane for our next adventure!

After we finished our dinner we jumped in the car and headed to the local bowling alley! It was during this time that the kids called us to say the movie was over and they were doing well and about to play their video games. Whew! House was still standing and nothing major had happened to them! God is good!

So on to bowling! Now this is a sport that I have always enjoyed...since I was a kid. However, since we've had kids we generally go to a place that is 5-pin bowling. But I wanted to do a more grown-up version and hit the 10-pins! What a mistake! Who knew that being this overweight would put such a damper on my night. I had been having so much fun up till then. All was good during the first game and then we decided to do a second game. I should have stopped while I was ahead.

Now we had been bowling for about a half hour already and I was starting to get sweaty and irritated. This means that my clothes were starting to stick to me...including my very uncomfortable underwire bra. As this is begining to happen, every time my arm goes to follow through to throw the ball, the fat on my underarm would stick right to the sweaty underwire area of the bra causing it to poke me hard in the fat flesh of my skin :( I was not impressed and was starting to get very upset. I went from being able to throw a strike or at least get a good spare to the majority of my 2nd game balls hitting the gutter!

I still smiled for my husband and acted like gutter balls were no big deal but deep inside I was upset with myself for letting my weight get to this point where I couldn't have any fun at all anymore. I was almost in tears because I couldn't even follow through with the ball and it felt like it was getting heavier and heavier as I got hotter and hotter.

So I found yet another fun thing in my life that I am no longer able to do with ease. I eagerly await this surgery and can't wait to hear the words that I can start walking and exercising. I have so many goals in my future. I'm ready to get my life back. I want to enjoy all the physical and fun things in my life again as well as enjoy my family! I'm tired of feeling like I'm "Living In The Gutter."  

 Cheers and Much Love!
Ellen

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My Date With The Surgeon!

Well today was the day! I got to meet with one of the surgeons regarding all my paperwork and appointments up to this point. Turns out I have a few things wrong but they have cleared me to have the Roux en y! YAH!
So some of the bad news I discovered was that I have a kidney stone and a belly button hernia. Who knew?! They also said that my endoscopy came back with gastritis and some inflamation but nothing that was too worrisome to them and that we can go ahead with the surgery as planned. She gave me my prescriptions for the blood thinner shots, some liquid codeine, an antacid and the wonderful Optifast. But wait! There is good news! My liver is not too enlarged and I only have to do two weeks of Optifast! YAH! I was so glad to hear that. I was afraid that I was going to have be on that stuff for weeks and I'd be doing a lot of sleeping! HAAA!

So now I'm actually a little excited that when I turn 40 in May I can have a little celebration with some cake and maybe a little drink before the fasting starts for my June date. I'm told that the office will call me with my date very soon and I cannot wait for that phone to ring!

Now to get prepared with all the goodies I would like to have in order before I go in for the surgery. They say plan to be in the hospital two nights. I am going to order myself a new LSU blanket :) GEAUX TIGERS! I also need something comfortable to wear home from the hospital...so I'm hoping to find some LSU pajama pants to wear home. I definitely want to get some new slippers with a good sole as well. I have already bought some smaller plates and bowls to make life easier on the portion sizes after the surgery. I'm sure I will think of more things to pack.

Not much else to report on today. I will update more on the goings on very soon :)
 
Cheers and Much Love!
Ellen

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Let's Talk About Food :)

Oh food...how I love thee...let me count the weighs...
I am a true blue Southern Gal and I love food! As I mentioned in previous posts, I was a small child and never struggled with my weight. I was also not given the proper tools to a proper diet and exercise. So I grew up eating and eating anything and everything I wanted. Once I hit 30 years old, my body decided it was no longer "young" and the pounds started packing on. Now I have many reasons for putting on weight; late night eating, too many sauces, no exercise...the list could go on and on. But it is MY fault for being so stubborn and not watching what I eat or exercising. So now I've grown to a whopping 260 lbs...270 lbs at my highest weight. What's a girl to do?!

I love rich, spicy, fried, sweet, sauce-filled food. These are just a few adjectives to describe the kinds of food I love. Foods were rich and full and flavor. Lots of salt, pepper, garlic, hot sauce and special seasonings. We can fry anything where I come from. Fried foods used to be my best friend; fried eggs and bacon, fried catfish (fried any fish), fried chicken, fried steaks, fried cornbread (hush puppies), fried shrimp, fried alligator, fried apple pie...you name, we fry it!

Before I moved to Canada years ago I used to eat three full meals a day that were filled with grease and oil, fat, butter, salt...all kinds of BAD stuff! I guess that was what my body was used to. Then I married my wonderful Portuguese/Canadian husband who was not used to that kind of food at all. He ate healthy foods! WHAT?! It was definitely a shock to my system to not consistently eat junk everyday.


So he did most of the cooking when I first arrived! Haaa I had never had so many vegetables in my life; broccoli, asparagus, peppers and none of them were drenched in oil or soaked in melted butter. Really?! This is a possibility? I had only eaten broccoli drenched in cheese and peppers soaked and fried (saute') in butter...and really, who eats aparagus?! Where was the bacon grease? Where was the fried chicken? How was I going to live? I love Southern food way too much to leave it all behind. So my meals became somewhat more healthy. But then I just started eating more almost as if it were a way to replace what I was missing? I'm not sure. But I knew that I missed the food I had lived on for 30 or so years!

The first time I went back home to Louisiana after about 6 months in Canada it was glorious! I was back in the land of fried, processed and greasy food. I couldn't have been happier! I was going to eat and eat until I could eat no more. I was determined. I hit up every single restaurant for three meals a day! IHOP or Waffle House for breakfast, Cracker Barrel for lunch and anywhere I could get fried catfish for supper! I was in Heaven! My sister owns a barbeque restaurant so I ate a lot of BBQ in between meals and late at night! However, my stomach was not happy! By the time my trip was coming to an end I could feel it in my system. What had happened?! My body was getting used to eating healthy? NOOO! This could not happen because my taste buds wanted more, more, more.

What would I do now? My brain was telling me that I was going to have to just cook more  Southern food for my family if I wanted to continue to eat it. But my husband did not like a lot of fried foods. Whenever I visit home nowadays I stop in at my local grocery stores and pick up a few things that I am unable to buy this side of the border. One of my favorite things is purple hull peas. Now there's something that's healthy that I love to eat but is not availabe in Canada. So I buy lots of them! I also pick up special spices and hot sauce and cornmeal mixes so that I can fry up some catfish myself when the mood strikes.

In general, I always thought food was my friend and was sad to see that it was not. Food is something that needs to be fuel for my body and exercise should be my friend.
This surgery is going to be a life-changing experience for me. Over the last couple of years I have learned to eat better and choose wisely. I may not alway like it but I love my kids and want to stick around for a while longer to enjoy them. I also know that I can still have certain foods in MODERATION. It is not something that should be done 3 or 4 times a day everyday...instead maybe I should replace all that eating with exercise :)
In the end...it's always about choices :)


Cheers and Much Love!
Ellen

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Getting Closer

Hi Everyone!
Well it's getting closer to time! I meet with the surgeon in 6 days and I cannot wait! It's been such a long process and now that I am getting closer I am getting more antsy. This has definitely been a long journey to get here. But then again, I didn't put all the weight on in one day...it's not going to come off that quickly either.

So I've been doing pretty good with going forth in advance taking my vitamins and Calcium Citrate.
I am hoping that it is just helping to get me used to doing this on a daily basis. I am taking the big horse-size pills right now but am considering changing to the liquid or chewables after my surgery. My nurse has me on the Prenatal pills right now. I am going to ask if it is possible to change over to the Flintstones chewables or if there is another type of vitamin that will be approved after the surgery. I know that we can cut the pills in half....but even after that, it is still a large half!

Another part of the procedure was to cut out caffeine 3 months before and 3 months after the surgery. So I have not had any caffeine since January 18. I started drinking decaf coffee and tea and it's not too bad. I may even stick with it after I'm allowed to have caffeine again.


I have also managed to cut my sugar intake WAY back. Being from the deep South, we make our tea with lots of sugar in it. But amazingly I have found that I don't need as much sugar in my coffee or tea anymore and I also replace it with Sweet-n-Low. I actually find that my favorite local coffee place makes my coffee too sweet!

So as mentioned in my previous posts that when they did my endoscopy, it appears that my stomach is shaped funny? So that set me back a few more weeks and I had to go in for a barium x-ray to have it looked into further. I'm hoping the doctor has some good news and a surgery date next week! I am also praying that I will not have to drink the Optifast for too long :( I can't imagine how hard that diet is going to be. But I think they said we could still have clear broth and water with Crystal Light. So that should make it tolerable.

I don't have much else to report on now. This weekend is Easter weekend. It's also my older son's 14th birthday on Sunday and Monday is my wonderful hubby's birthday :) My daughter turned 7 last week...I have what I refer to as "three Easter babies" ;) So it's also a difficult time with all the cake there is to be eaten! Might as well enjoy it now as the dumping syndrome will keep me from it next time around!

So Happy Easter everyone. I know it will be difficult for many of us as we watch everyone around us eating their chocolate Easter goodies...but just remember how fabulous we are beginning to look and how healthy our bodies are going to be! I truly hope everyone has a great holiday!
 
Cheers and Much Love!
Ellen

Friday, March 23, 2012

Barium X-Ray Morning

Wow! Sorry I haven't blogged in a few days! I've been in a lot of pain with a neck/shoulder injury...big time pinched nerve! So let's get to it! :)

I went in for the barium x-ray. That's was an experience that will be remembered for a while! It was AWFUL. The doctor had absolutely NO bed-side manner. She was extremely cold and unfeeling. The nurse was really great though...very soft-spoken and helpful. Thank goodness!
 
In preparation for the x-ray I had to fast after midnight and thankfully my appt was at 8am which means I didn't have to wait too long for breakfast. I was so nervous in the waiting room and just ready to get the whole experience over with. When I got in the room where the stand-up x-ray machine was they had me swallow some kind of crystals and swallow it with very little water. This was supposed to give me gas which makes things show up better in the pictures. Then they gave me the dreaded "shake." It was awful! They didn't even bother to chill it...it was warm and chalky. I thought I was going to throw-up. The doctor at this point was taking photos of my esophagus because apparently it was noted that there was irritation there during the endoscopy.

After about five minutes, the doctor tells me to face the back of the machine and hold on to the sides. It was at this point that the machine started lowering to the lying down position. I almost freaked out! I was not expecting this to happen at all and the nurse yells to the doctor to stop because she is trying to explain to me what is going to happen. I am so thankful that I had a nurse who cared about the patients because clearly the doctor did not.
So after I am lying on my stomach, which is difficult because of my size, they give me the wonderful cup filled with chalk and it now has a straw in it and they tell me to get drinking. So I am really sick to my stomach at this point and ready to lose it all over the floor. I only took a couple of sips when the doctor tells the nurse to start "sloshing" me around. I looked at the nurse and said, "Is she for real?" I'm lying on my stomach and the nurse starts pushing me kind of side to side to slosh the barium around in my stomach. She is then instructed to turn me over onto my back and do it so more.
The doctor then takes a series of x-rays and when she is finished I am told to turn back over onto my stomach and then the table begins its descent back down to place me into the standing position. Finally, they are done! I leave the room and get dressed and go back to the waiting room to my husband and we get out of there!
I have a few friends who have had barium x-rays done and they all had different experiences. Some of them have had chilled chalky drinks...some of them have had chilled coffee flavored drinks...there have been a variety of stories I've been told. I was really hoping that I would get lucky and have a good one...but it was not to be. I see the surgeon on April 10th and we shall see.

I would not wish this awful procedure on anyone. Hopefully the doctor will not see anything disturbing enough that would put off my surgery longer. I am really hoping to get my date on April 10th as well as the possibility of not having to do the Optifast for too long ;)

So now we wait...
Cheers and Much Love! 
           Ellen

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Barium X-Ray Tomorrow

Well I begin fasting at midnight so that I can go in for a barium x-ray in the morning. They are looking at my stomach further after discovering it didn't look right during my endoscopy. It feels like there is a set-back at every turn and almost like this surgery is never going to happen.

I spoke with the secretary at my doctor's office this week and all she could decipher from my stomach biopsy results is that it came back with some inflammation and lymphocytic gastritis...from what I've read that could be a couple of things. The doctor did say that if anything they could fix the stomach when they go in to do the roux en y surgery. I'm just thinking, "Oh, great. Something else to have to heal from...something else that could potentially cause problems."

On another note...I went to the library today with my kiddos and picked up some new cookbooks to check out. I got a really good one from the American Heart Association. It has over 600 pages. After searching through it, I can say that there are quite a few really good recipes in it. I will be adding some to my recipe section in the upcoming days and weeks.
In other news, the weather here today was BEAUTIFUL. However, it reminded me again as to why I can't wait to have this surgery. It was sunny and barely reached 50 degrees and I was sweating and hot like it was 100 degrees outside. My children want to go bike riding tomorrow. That is not something I will be able to join them on. I feel bad about that and I'm sad about it too. But better days will come in the future! So I am trying not focus too much on the what I can't do right now but what I will be able to do again!

There's not much else to report on right now. My kiddos and hubby are home for March Break this week so we are extremely busy doing fun family things! :)

Keep checking the recipe section. I will post some new things soon :)
Have a GREAT week everyone :)
 Cheers and Much Love! 
           Ellen

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Family Trips

Family trips aren't as fun for me as they used to be. The one thing we pride ourselves on in our family is trying to stay busy and show our kids as much culture and fun as possible. There was a time in our lives where we rarely stayed home...we were always going somewhere. Road trips are the best! But over the last few years as I've been become bigger, I do not enjoy going on many of these trips anymore. My husband and I have always been a go, go, go couple. We love to be outside. It probably has something to do with the fact that in Ontario, Canada you have to enjoy what you can from the summers because they are short. I come from Louisiana where it's warm pretty much year round and I endured quite the culture shock when I moved North and discovered it's not that warm all year round!

We are a family that goes on a variety of trips. We generally go for longs walks in the park or along trails, we go on bike rides, we go for walks along the beach, we go to many different places like museums, hall of fame buildings and libraries; the list could go on and on. One of my favorite places to go is Niagara Falls! We only live about 45 minutes from the Falls and I love to go there as well as few places in between such as Niagara on the Lake and Welland Canal. We've been all over; Ottawa, New Brunswick, camping and beaching all over Ontario. We've been quite a few places south of the border. All of these places require a lot of walking and hiking but the kids always have such a fantastic time and that is all that matters; good memories for them.
Here is my hubby and our two boys when they were younger (2003)in Ottawa :)




I have enjoyed every single place we have been to but I have gotten to a point over the last few years that I am not enjoying the walking and hiking as much. My back and hip can't stand the extra weight I have put on and I am always hot and sweating :( It's just no longer fun for me. Last year, every time my kids and husband got on their bike and went off on their little excursions around our town I would sit at home...sometimes crying. It made me sad that I was missing out on the little things in life that I should be out enjoying with my kids.


Me and my boys in Ottawa 2003

It seems like my 30s have been very trying. I've had many health problems which I attribute to my weight gain. When I was discharged from the military I weighed approximately 140 lbs. That was in 2002 when I was 30 years old. Since then I have managed to balloon to 260 lbs. I know that it is my fault. I comforted myself with food when I quit smoking and as well whenever anything goes wrong in my life. It didn't help that I was taking university courses that didn't end until 10pm at night and then eating a big meal before bed.
All of this has made it difficult to enjoy my life over the past few years. I finally decided about a year and a half ago to go to my doctor and find out about the weight loss surgery. My doctor not being up to code with technology in his office did not know how to go about doing the paperwork to get me started. So finally a year later after him dragging his feet, I looked it all up and got all the information and paperwork started and gave it to him. I will discuss all the ins and outs of this in a later post regarding all the time spent getting the process started.
So this surgery is going to be a big turning point in my life. I have been miserable and sad during the majority of my 30s since I have put on all this weight. I have grown tired with being so sweaty and out of breath on any family outings that we go on. I look forward to my 40s where I am hopeful that weight loss will occur and I will be able to enjoy going out with my family again. I will ride a bike and hike a million stairs to see a beautiful waterfall and run around the park chasing my children! I will enjoy them before they grow too old to play with their old mother ;)
 Cheers and Much Love! 
           Ellen
Our family Christmas tree trek Dec 2010 :)



Friday, March 9, 2012

Family Dinners

I never really knew much about healthy eating as was pointed out in my last post. I didn't have anyone to teach me all the ins and outs of maintaining a healthy weight by eating properly from each food group. My gym teacher at some point quite possibly had one or two classes where we discussed the food groups, but if you are living in a home that is not following those guidelines, you tend to just breeze through class and memorize whatever is necessary to pass the test; then all is lost from the memory thereafter. I think I remember more about my first class on sex-ed during Grade 9 than anything concerning the food pyramid from the semester before ;)

One thing I remember about my childhood is that I mostly took care of myself starting around Grade 3. Now, as mentioned earlier, my mother was a wonderful cook. However, there was a time in my life between the ages of 8 to12 that she was a single mother working two jobs to care for me. Most mornings I got up and made myself a bowl of cereal or put a bowl of oatmeal in the microwave before walking to school alone. I remember in the summers I made my own sandwiches or any type of Chef Boyardee pasta for my lunch. I have been using a microwave on my own for as long as I can remember. I also remember having money for the vending machines at school to buy all the junk food I wanted. I lived on Twinkies, Hostess cupcakes and Cherry Coke! The only vegetables that entered my body were whatever the school lunch consisted of.

Because my parents were divorced and living in different states, I usually spent 6 months with one parent and 6 months with the other. Time spent with my dad was a little unusual too. My father owned a bar and was gone from early afternoon until the middle of the night. I saw him sometimes on the weekends, but that was about it. My stepmother worked for the phone company and did what she could to keep the family going. I had a stepbrother and stepsister by her (both of whom were older than me) and I also had an older sister living there as well. My sister spent the majority of her time taking care of me because she was 9 years older. So between the three older siblings and a stepmother, someone was usually cooking. Now that I'm older, I realize it was probably too expensive for us to go out to eat as a family six. I remember on the weekends that my stepmother would try hard to have everyone at the table for breakfast together as a family. It didn't always work out that way, but I remember thinking it was better than being alone and cooking for myself when I lived with my mother.

What about fast food? How much of  a role does it play in today's world? Our world has become so fast-paced and go, go, go that no one sits down to a healthy dinner anymore. Most families are eating burgers in their car as they rush from one activity to another. As well, some households have dual working parents that are just too tired to cook a meal after working all day. Years ago, when I was child/teenager, fast-food restaurants were around but they were not a huge part of our life. They were generally something that our parents or grandparents treated us to when we were good or had something to celebrate. However, today, they are so many fast food or general restaurants that it would seem people are spending less time at home cooking meals.

With all of this in mind, how important is it for a child to learn about the food pyramid and healthy eating habits? Over the last couple of decades as I've been an adult, I have really noticed that people do not cook in the home and sit down with their families to supper after cooking a healthy meal. There is such a variety of restaurants available on almost every corner of every city that no one needs to cook for themselves anymore. I personally believe this coupled with sitting on our butts in front of TVs, computers and video games have helped lead us to a world filled with obesity. People have become less active and more prone to eat food filled with too much sodium, sugar and things we cannot even pronounce; and for when we are at home cooking, there are too many processed foods filling our pantries and not enough fresh vegetables and fruits. I believe that learning something as simple as the food pyramid would help people understand more about what is healthy and lead them to keep healthier food in their homes so that we can live longer lives.

Another thing I have noticed is how things are processed differently in the United States and Canada. I'm an American; born and raised in Louisiana. However, I married a Canadian and have lived happily north of the border for over 10 years. I love it here. When I first moved here and I went grocery shopping, I noticed that certain things tasted differently. One example is the cereal Fruit Loops. That is something that I grew up eating. But, the Fruit Loops in Canada tasted different; very different. My husband thought I was crazy and was just being a food princess. LOL But as I bought more things that I was used to eating, I noticed that nothing tastes the same even though it's supposed to be the same product. More recently, I read a story about a Canadian woman who had weight-loss surgery and on Saturdays she liked to get an egg breakfast from McDonalds as her weekly treat. It had never given her a problem since she had her surgery. However, one Saturday morning she found herself at a McDonald's in the States. She noticed it tasted a little different...more salty or buttery. She got sick after she ate it and I can't help but believe she may have gotten dumping syndrome because the ingredient contents are different from one country to another.

So what does this mean? It is definitely something I am going to investigate. I think Canada has different guidelines for sodium, sugar, etc. intake than in other countries. I do know that overseas a variety of different countries DO use less salt, sugar, etc. in their foods than in the United States. One good thing that has happened most recently over the last couple of years is that restaurants are having to make nutritional information available to patrons. I think this is a good thing for those of us who are on special diets so that we may continue to eat out with our families every now and then and make better choices as to what to order.

But wouldn't it be nice to get back to having dinner with our families after having made a healthy homemade meal in our own kitchens? This is something that we practice in our home. We eat supper together 5 or 6 days a week...sitting down at the dining table together and discussing our day and just enjoying each other's company and we ALWAYS sit down together for Sunday lunch/supper. I believe this is one way to instil good family values in our kids. But I also hope that it gives them good memories so that they may continue the tradition when they have families of their own one day.

Cheers and Much Love! 
         
 Ellen 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Weigh Into My 30s

I was a skinny child. I never worried about my weight; other than maybe needing to gain some.  I was also raised by a mother (may she RIP) who had a very small waist and was just a beauty in her own right. I was born and raised in the great state of Louisiana; a place known for it's food and southern hospitality. Food is what brings most families together and my family was no exception.

My Mother and I in the mid-80s...

My mother loved to cook. I have early memories of her canning and putting things up for the winter. Growing up we farmed and picked most of our vegetables as well as some fruits, corn and potatoes. My summers were usually spent shucking corn or hulling peas. It seemed as if my fingers would be permanently stained purple from all the purple hull peas (my favorite)! I remember sitting in the middle of the living room floor with a huge blanket filled with bushels of peas to be hulled. While I hulled them, my mother was in the kitchen blanching and canning. Anytime family would get together, she always had food. She could cook just about anything. She cooked for family. She cooked for friends and near the end of her life she spent a lot of time cooking for the elderly from our local churches. She was loved by many.

Growing up, I never really learned to cook. My mother did not allow anyone in the kitchen when she was cooking. I understand now what she meant when she said she had a one-track mind; I have it too. One might think that since the majority of what we ate was farm-grown and healthy that we would be healthy eaters. However, this is not the case. I grew up putting gravy on everything; brown gravy, white gravy, tomato gravy. We put it on anything from biscuits for breakfast to fried steaks or chicken for supper. We put it on potatoes; all potatoes. One of the most popular breakfast items that I remember was homemade biscuits smothered in tomato gravy or sugar cane syrup and cup of strong hot chicory coffee. Besides gravy always being readily available, bacon grease was another fixture in many kitchens! I remember many southern cooks would always have an old coffee can filled with bacon grease sitting on the stove. It was used for a variety of dishes. The most popular use that I remember was heating it up to FRY eggs for breakfast. Bacon grease and lots of butter, sadly, are staples in a southern home! A southern saying that comes to mind is, "Everything is better with butter." Gravy was not the only thing we poured over our food. We also poured a variety of sauces over many dishes; ketchup, bbq sauce, butter sauces, salad dressings. You name it, we used it! Our healthy dishes didn't have a chance in hell by the time we got through pouring the "unhealthy" on them.

So I've talked about the gravy, bacon grease, sauces and butter...but what about the fact that many foods in the South are fried?! Southerners can fry up anything...right down to some desserts. I grew up living on fried chicken, fried steak, fried seafood, fried fish; anything fried. One of my favorite dishes was chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and white gravy, green beans, corn and oh yes FRIED okra. This is a basic food plate at many southern "hole-in-the-wall" cafes. There is nothing more comforting than a dish like this. It's like being wrapped in happiness...even if only for a little while. Meals were always followed up with a big glass of very sweet brewed tea. We have two ways of making tea where I come from...either by a coffee pot or boiling in a pot on the stove or by putting it out into the sun in a glass pitcher. There is nothing more refreshing than sweet tea that has been kissed by the sun. Generally a gallon of tea required 2 cups of sugar. TWO CUPS! I know now that is too much.

This should give you an idea of what I grew up thinking "good eating" was. This is how I have spent the last 39 years of my life. It wasn't that bad when I was younger. You would think that I would have had a weight problem with all that food I was being served. However, I did pretty well keeping my weight pretty normal. It probably helped that I was an active child/young adult. I was always on the go or playing a sport or running around outside. Those were the days of no computers and technology that would keep us inside sitting on our butts. When I graduated high school at the age of 18 I was 5' 6" and weighed 105 lbs.

Here come my 20s. Luckily during the first half of my 20s I continued to be active...sometimes working two jobs, dancing, playing softball; generally keeping it together. I did put on a little weight and by the time I was pregnant with my first child when I was 25 years old I weighed 125 lbs. I put on 35 lbs with the pregnancy and lost it all within a few weeks of his birth. I was pregnant again before I was 28 and after he was born I began to show struggles with my weight. It fluctuated and I weighed approximately 160 lbs. It was at this point in my life that I joined the Navy and by the time I completed boot camp I was back down to 135 very healthy pounds. I stayed at that weight until I was discharged a few years later after being injured during my time in the service.

Unfortunately I was a cigarette smoker until I was 30 years old but within a year of leaving the Navy I stopped smoking cold-turkey and I have not smoked since. As healthy as it was for me to stop smoking, it was the start of an uphill battle with my weight. Hence the title of this blog..."Weigh Into My 30s." There are many battles that I have faced during these last 10 years and in the following postings, I will begin to document them to show what I have had to face and learn during this decade of my life.

Cheers and Much Love! 
         
 Ellen  

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Future Goals

I think for those of us who have weight-loss in mind we have many of the same goals. Some of these goals range from being able to walk again without being winded or playing with our children. There are also the vanity goals which, let's face it, we all think about at some point. But what else do many of us think about when we think of losing weight and taking our life back? I'm going to dig into this subject in today's post.

For me, I realized about two years ago how difficult certain things had gotten in my life. I live in a city that is filled with waterfalls. We are actually known as
The Waterfall Capital of the World
. I love going to look at waterfalls. We also live very close to Niagara Falls and we go there very often in the Spring and Summer. But sometimes it's nice to check out things in our local area. However, to enjoy the vast array of falls in our city requires one to go up and down a mountain of stairs or steep inclines. Now, the going down is not that bad...but then you have to travel back UP. I literally had gotten to a point in my weight that I felt like I was having a heart attack while doing this activity. It made me very sad because this can be a very fun and healthy activity to do with our children. There is nothing more fun than enjoying a picnic and seeing some beautiful waterfalls while hanging with some of my favorite people in the world; my husband and children. I cannot wait to be able to do this with ease in my future.

Now, I'm the mother of three beautiful children. At the time of this blog, they are 6, 12 and 13. I am also the wife of a very fit and healthy husband. So to have gotten to a point where I can't be active with them is hard on all of us. We live in Canada which means when Spring/Summer/Fall is here you need to get out and enjoy the weather; especially the summers! However, the last couple of summers, most of my days are spent sitting at our home while my kids and husband go out and talk long walks, ride their bikes or go to the park. We live on a "mountain or escarpment" so where one goes down...you must come back up. So on the days when they ventured out on their bikes to "explore," I would stay home. However, on days when they would go to the park, I followed them in our car. So last year I asked my husband to buy me a nice bike for my birthday in May. He was so sweet and bought me a really nice one in my favorite color; PURPLE. I rode it maybe once or twice and the pain in my back was so awful I couldn't stand it. All of the extra weight was too much on the bad disks that I have in my back. It has since been sitting in the shed collecting dust. This is another change I would love to see in my life; being able to ride my bike with ease.

What about the smaller goals that some of us never think of? One that comes to mind is being a passenger on an airplane! I don't believe this is something I would have thought of had I not had the experience in the last year. Ten years ago, there was a time in my life that I had to fly frequently. This was before my excessive weight gain and not long after having been discharged from the Navy (a story I will get to later). I never had any problems with fitting in the seats or buckling up. But most recently I flew home for my 20 year high school reunion and found out just how small those seats really are. I fit in the seat just fine. However, I had a hard time getting the buckle around me and I was too embarrased to bring attention to myself to get an extension or something. When I finally got it around me it was really tight in my belly and uncomfortable the while flight home. So, yes, it will be nice to fit on an airline seat without complications or feeling as though I'm making the person next to me uncomfortable.

I believe that some people take for granted just how easy it is to do some of the simple things in life. Riding a bike, taking a walk, swimming, running with my kids are all things that I look forward to being able to do with ease again. I know that my back disability is something that I will always have, but getting off the excess weight should make it easier to manage. To some people these may seem like silly little goals. For me, they are goals that say I've gotten my life back! :)

Cheers and Much Love! 
         
 Ellen