All posts by Jessica

Post-Op Day 6: It’s All So Tight!!

Surgery day has come and gone. My mom, Lisa and one of my bestest gal pals were all there to send me to surgery. I didn’t sleep much the night before but I was still bright eyed and ready to go!

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The pre-op nurse stuck me twice before a second nurse got me on her first try. My vital signs were withing normal limits but I was sweaty as the nerves took over–especially under my belly and I thought about how this will no longer be an issue. The nurse read a clause of my living will and complemented me on it. My doctor came in and we discussed additional questions the he marked my body.

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Pre Op Lower Body Lift 11/10/16: surgeons marks. On my LLQ he wrote “BYE”

Hugs and kisses right before they took me back and 8 hours later, I woke up in my hospital room with my mom and Lisa by side. The evening went well with moderate pain. They discontinued my foley quickly and getting up the first time was a struggle but I did it with minimal assistance. I was able to walk around the floor. I wasn’t too hungry but did eat a smidgen before bedtime.

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Successfully got myself back into bed!

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The most difficult part came when Lisa had to go. I was so emotional. I just had this rush of feelings that came over me and I couldn’t control them.  I cried and I cried hard. It’s fuzzy but I just kept telling her that I don’t want her to go as Lisa and mom tried to comfort me.  And I ‘knew’ that everything was okay but I just had this collision of feelings processing the surgery day and the surgery day that happened 2 years prior…when I never saw Paul again. I was so afraid that I wouldn’t see Lisa again. Mom eventually just had to tell Lisa to go. And shortly after she left, I was able to calm down and Mom and I chatted all night long.

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First look at my incision

The next morning my surgeon was prompt to come by to check on me. He took down all of my dressings and told me how great everything looked. I looked down and was like “holy hell! I can see my vagina!” The oncoming nurse was there and congratulated me and was excited with me. It was such an emotional moment!

Over the weekend, Lisa took AMAZING care of me. She kept up with all of my meds, emptied my drains, moved the couch so she could sleep next to me, etc. I can’t say enough good things about her.

Everything is soooooo tight! The drains are uncomfortable. I am wearing an abdominal binder and everything itches! My surgeon forewarned me that I wouldn’t be able to walk completely upright for awhile and boy was he right!! I’m really glad that I rented a recliner and that I have lots of pillows because positioning is key!

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I’m lucky to have had my two nurse buddies come by to help Lisa and I with showers. Showering is quite the work out, even with two people helping you. Seeing myself in the mirror this time was not as traumatic as my previous surgery. I had definitely prepared myself for it. It was really odd seeing myself in the mirror. There I stood…no udder. Ive never been able to see my belly button and now…I have a belly button!! Overall, it was exciting and I didn’t cry.

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Sleeping is an issue right now and it isn’t just one thing. It is a combination: I’m in pain, uncomfortable and emotional. At this point, I’m able to do almost everything for myself except for showering and picking stuff up. So I’m hoping to not HAVE to have a overnight sitter by the end of the week. I’m working on building up my endurance, standing more upright and pain management.

Tomorrow is my 1 week post op appointment and I am really hoping to get at least one of my JP drains out.

UDDER Construction! Surgery Day: 360 Abdominoplasty

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My ‘udders’. This a great angle to represent how severely my stomach hangs! 11/2016

Today is the day. I can’t believe that it is actually here. I woke up with bubble gut and is the first time I have felt the anxiety of this surgery in full affect. Today I will have an 360 abdominoplasty or rather body contouring. You can google it if you want the details as to what all that entails. It’s a pretty invasive procedure to remove all of my extra skin from my trunk. It is expected to be a 6 hour surgery with a 1 night overnight stay. I will come home with at least 2 JP drains, be off work for 4 weeks and on restriction for about 8 weeks. I have lots of support set up and I’m so thankful to have such wonderful nursing friends. My mom and Lisa will both be with me today. Mom is staying the night. Lisa is on Mollie duty. I’m so lucky to have Lisa who has without question been my rock. She plans to stay with me for 4 days.

Alot of people have commented to me that I don’t have a belly or that I really don’t have skin to remove. I have addressed this in previous blogs. Ultimately, it is my choice. I have worked extremely hard to accomplish the weight loss and health status that I have today. For those that think that weight loss surgery for a morbidly obese person is the easy way out, you are ignorant. It is a hard thing to do. Anyone who is significantly overweight and who has tried to lose weight already knows the struggle.

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Comparisons of my belly November 2016. They look like UDDERS!
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My belly hangs down about 6 inches at this point. I can’t tell you how uncomfortable this made me to have my sister take this measurement.

This surgery is very emotional for me. As mentioned so many times, I don’t recall a time ever when I didn’t have a belly that hung. I was never that cute pudgy girl that had the pooch. I, instead, got my father’s stomach. A pendulous belly that folds at the top of my pubis and just hangs there. It moves. It’s uncomfortable. It is all too often wet with heat or exercise. And this surgery takes that away for me. On the flip, I am concerned as to what I will see when I look in the mirror. I want to feel like an improved version of myself and ultimately still myself. While I rationally know that I am who I am…the mind, man, it fucks with you.

Paul weighs heavily on my mind today and has for weeks. This is like the exclamation point on my body transformation. And he is missing it. Sure, he doesn’t have to deal with my whining, stubborn self…but he is missing out on the finale. He was such a huge supporter of mine. He truly wanted me to be happy. He saw the gorgeous even when all I could see was adipose tissue. I’m sad that he isn’t here. I’m sad that he hasn’t gotten to participate in the journey. And it makes me anxious that who I see is not who he saw. And that I changed it.

All that aside, I’m living a genuine life. I don’t hesitate to do what I want to do. I set goals and I achieve them. Everything that Paul and I dreamed of, I’m making it happen. I have taken the spirit and essence of who he was and what he stood for and I have made it a part of who I am and how I think. I am proud of that. That gives me comfort. I’ll love him always.


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I shared this picture of me sitting in front of the mirror. Belly tucked, belly out. I love this picture. I feel beautiful. I see in this picture all that I try to hide and that I have really tried to strip away.

This was a huge NSV for me. I can never imagine a time when I would have EVER shown my belly to other people; let alone, social media. I have come a long way. It is just really important to me to be transparent. I have collected quite a few followers (who I am eternally thankful for) and I want them to know my raw struggle. And to know that you aren’t alone.


These progress pictures are INSANE and seem UNREAL! I don’t know which is more unbelievable…that I was that size or that I am now this size. They are both unfathomable to me.  I have certainly come a hell of a way. I’m excited to take this next step.

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Original weigh in shirt!!! Then 295. Now 160.

 

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I want to thank EVERYONE for all of the support. I have truly been overwhelmed by the amount of love and support that has come from my friends, strangers and co workers. It truly is humbling. I can never put to words how this all makes me feel. I’m just so very thankful. And during a time in our world where so much is uncertain; where there is so much hate and hurt; it is refreshing, uplifting and reaffirms my faith in the common goodness of people. I love you all. Stay tuned…

 

 

 

 

 

Let the Sad Pass Through You–Even Slowly

His birthday in 2010

Thirty two years ago at 0914 my mother in law brought my husband into this world.

As a child, my father did not believe in celebrating birthdays. As an adult, I fucking LOVE birthdays. Paul and I always celebrated. And what better way to celebrate than to drink yourself back to toddler-hood. You know what I mean?

“Tell me more about him…tell me about your first celebrated birthdays”

This was the question my sweet, well-intentioned girlfriend asked me. It is one of the reasons that she stole my heart. She does not just tolerate Paul’s memory and love, she actively shares in it.

Last night was a bad night. On the eve of his birthday, I was wrapped in emotions. I was lonely. I was mad. I was devastated. And when I read that text, I thought “Oh man. That’s a great question.” And I couldn’t think of anything in particular. Only snipets. The birthdays ran across my mind, not in sequence but a jumble of snapshots of birthdays memories over the years. And the harder I tried to pin it down, the harder I tried to sort it out–the more difficult a time I had remembering. The tears welled up and I started to cry. I brought up my Facebook and realized how much I post. I scolded myself. “Why the hell do you post so much? It is going to take forever.” I was trying to scroll through the years to find each birthday. And I cried. I reached out to my friends. Trying to find some type of outlet because the hurt would not subside.

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His 29th birthday! 2013 We were all the best of friends then.

And just when I thought I’d reached the peak…I saw the last picture of my used-to-be best friend, on the last birthday that she celebrated with him. It was 2013. I was out of nursing school. She was the thinnest I’d ever seen her and I had packed on some serious poundage over the last couple years. Paul was so excited to have us together. He looked sharp in his new purple button up.

We always pre-gamed to save money at the bar. I don’t remember who bought the Tennessee Honey Whiskey but we took it as a personal challenge to drink the whole bottle. She got sick at the bar, I held her hair back, she threw up on my dress and hers.

My heart literally ached as I thought about this night. As I thought about the following year which was his last birthday…his 30th. She didn’t make it to that birthday. She had come to every prior birthday. Even the first one in 2010, when we had a surprise party at Don Quixote where I’d gathered enough ‘donations’ to give him cash to put a CD player in his truck.

I couldn’t help myself as I typed in her number. I don’t have her number saved as if it will be less tempting to message her but I try. I sent her the photo with my word vomit. She did actually respond. And I cried some more. She told me “I’ve always cared about you and always will”. It was like relief and a knife to the heart all at once. I can’t really explain it. She (or rather the memory of what our friendship and life used to be) is a comfort to me. She is a connection to Paul. And sometimes, I like long for that hard core–as some sort of comfort.

I frantically kept trying to piece together the birthdays since I couldn’t remember. I finally did it. The frenzy in my soul calmed and my tears ceased. My eyes hurt. They are swollen. My head aches.

Love. Death. Grief. It is a kick to the gut, man. And you just never know when it will hit you hardest. My buddy gave me the best advice, like usual, last night. She told me to not “fight the sad and to let it pass through” me. I took a deep breath in and out. Actually, I’m doing that right now. It will pass.

Today is my beloved husband’s would have been 32nd birthday. I’ve been up most of the night. I’m off work and plan to keep busy. I have lots to do today.



Remembering Paul is my biggest comfort in the world. And it has just become my necessity. I live and celebrate my life in his honor. I feel compelled to do so. To do any less would be a disservice.

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On his first birthday without him (10/25/2015), I went skydiving. He never actually wanted to go skydiving with me stating “why in the world would I jump out of a perfectly good airplane”…I thought about this as we climbed to 10,000ft and the airplane rocked back and forth and sounded like it would fall apart. I thought I’d say to him…but I think we are better off jumping from this plane.

Last year and this year I threw birthday parties for him. My mom asked me last week why I am still having a birthday party when he isn’t here. That really threw me off but my answer “because I feel that I need to”. And that’s the truth. Maybe I won’t always do this but for right now I want to. I like celebrating him even in his absence. I love getting together with our friends. It makes my heart happy to spend some time with those who were touched by him.

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Even if I can’t remember every particular, one thing was and is always the same for birthday celebrations: epic loudness and shots! This is Jared. He was a dear friend to my Paul. He is good people. :)
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Those friends that will always have your back and always be by your side. Rob has said it many time since the day I married Paul “your stuck with us now”. I’m certainly thankful to be stuck with them. Celebrating Paul’s birthday at Don Quixote’s 2016.

Yesterday I had a phone interview with a journalist in the UK for a couple upcoming interviews for two magazine offers I have received. They want to publish a story about my weight loss journey and Paul. The journalist has a British accent which made me giggle and was a bit distracting at first. But once I settled into the conversation, it was great. She asked some of the same questions that the previous journalist did but then she asked some different ones. She asked about how we met and about his health history. They have kinda titled what I call my accomplishments as my bucket list. I find it a little funny. I guess it is a sort of bucket list but I make this list yearly.

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A list of my milestones to date

I got to reflect on some very good memories that Paul and I shared. And I reflected again on how much my life has changed. How much I have changed. How much I have experienced because of him. I’m fortunate in that way. To have had a love that inspires me. That motivates me. That has had the ability to help me push on when I all I wanted to do was fall.


I hope you all take away a positive from this. My message is usually the same. But I still want to repeat it. Live out loud, guys. Seize your day. Don’t put off for tomorrow.

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all. -Oscar Wilde

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It’s okay to feel fearful of the jump. But do it anyways. I promise…it is worth it.

Leaving The Dichotomy: Finding a Genuine Me

wine With only 26 days until my BIG 360 abdominoplasty–anxiety, emotions and to-do lists are through the roof. Everyone asks ‘are you ready?’ ‘ Are you nervous?’ Well…the answer is as follows: FUCK YEA! (And if you were close to Paul–you read that as ‘fooooooook yaaaaaa’)

I have been preparing for this all year. I’m not really nervous about the surgery. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a nurse or because I have the utmost confidence in my surgeon or if it’s because I’ve gone through it before but I’m just not really worried about that. I know they will take great care of me. What I am nervous about: the psychological. When I had my brachioplasty and mastoplasty done earlier this year, I really underestimated the psychological toll that it would have on me. After having some wicked panic attacks, bouts of depression and anxiety—I pushed my 360 from May 2016 to November 2016.

In preparation, I saw my psychologist that I saw prior to my bariatric surgery. We had an amazing session and he really helped me get a better grasp on what has been going on in my mind and how to better deal with it this go around. So let’s dive into it.

What’s my problem?

I have thought this entire time that I had a bit of body dysmorphic disorder but after speaking to him, it isn’t so much that as it is that I’m experiencing a dichotomy.

a division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different.

Basically, the more I change the less I’m me–in my mind. He assured me that this is very common in bariatrics but that my circumstance intensified this phenomenon for me. As most bariatric patients when they look in the mirror and have a freak out moment “OMG what have I done? I’m not me anymore! I don’t look like Jessica!!” they would have a spouse or significant other or best friend that would be their anchor that would assure them that they are the same person.  If Paul were here, he would be able to stop me in these moments and say “Yes you are! Your smile is the same. Your eyes. I love you.” etc… Each day they would come home and do the same routine.You might still gab with your best gal pal. You’d still be doing all the things that make you–YOU. These people are your anchors and they tether you to WHO you are. I was cheated out of this. I lost Paul. Then 6 weeks later my best friend of 20+ years cut off all contact with me. Because of the grief experienced by all of my family, I was disconnected, in a sense, from them. Essentially, I’ve just been free floating–not connected to myself.

There are interactions that add to me feeling disconnected with myself. I’ve talked about this before–in my mind I’m the fat girl. It is who I have always been and in my mind I’m still that girl. There have been countless instances where people have made comments or looked at me like I’m skinny. BUT in my mind (and I probably wear it on my face), I’m like ‘what the fuck did you just say to me? Don’t you know I’m a fat girl, too?’ And these instances make me feel like I’m even more not me.

To add insult to injury, I have a large amount of guilt. I feel that Paul was jilted. And although I know rationally that I haven’t taken anything from him, I feel almost that the more I change, experience life and go on with out him that I am jipping him. He was there through nursing school and he supported me in my decision to get healthy but he doesn’t get to reap the rewards of these things. And it fucking sucks!

So the panic that I felt after surgery was pretty much all of this–wrapped up in an anxiety ridden ball of mess. And I exploded. Because plastic surgery is instant. With the weight loss, it has been gradual. And the blows to my ‘identity’ are like little pricks. But when you go under the knife then you wake and ‘BOOM’ you look like someone else…it’s overwhelming!

What’s the solution?

I’ve gotta change my mindset. I’ve got to realize a few things here. The first is that of change. VERY few people actually like change. We are all creatures of habit. I have to recognize and accept that I DO NOT have control over change. Change was ultimately going to occur whether Paul died or not. Would my path have been different than this? Yes. But it was going to be different nonetheless. I could look at it this way: what if I didn’t have the surgery? I could be 400 lbs with DM, HTN, CAD and working my way to a heart attack. Change is hard. But what makes THIS change hardest is that I had a hand in the change. I DECIDED that I didn’t want to be obese anymore so I CHANGED it. I DECIDED that I didn’t want saggy boobs and bat wings so I CHANGED it. I DECIDED that I didn’t want to have a flap of skin sitting on top my vagina so I’m CHANGING it! All of these things, I’ve perpetuated the change. And referring back to the beginning…the dichotomy…here lies the problem.

My psychologist asked me a really insightful question: “Jessica, do you think that you were living a genuine life before?”

I really had to think about it. I thought I was but, now, I look back and know that I wasn’t. I think about alllll the reasons that I had that motivated me to change: I wanted to travel, I wanted to be active, I wanted to be social, I wanted to sky dive, I wanted to ride rollercoasters, I wanted to dance, etc. I didn’t do ANY of these things as I reached my heaviest weight and THAT was disingenuous. So in actuality, it is NOT that I’m leaving Paul or that the more I change that I’m not me–it is that the more I change, the MORE genuine of a life I am living. I am being true to who I am, how I think and what I want. And I probably am living a more genuine life than ever before and I am coming into my own. Living my life and having all these experiences and accomplishing things that Paul and I dreamed of is not leaving him or jilting him: it is honoring him. I’m wearing my Paul Badge of Honor every day of my life now.

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Checking it off my bucket list. Sailing October 2016

I have felt significantly better being able to put all of this together. It is a working progress just as I am. I’m extra emotional as we are now at the end of the year. October-December used to be my all time favorites but now they are riddled with bitter sweet memories, heart wrenching moments and even more intense thoughts of my dear Paul. October 25 he would have been 32. November 12 marks the second anniversary of his death, my surgery and the end/beginning of my life. Then we have alllll the holidays—all his favorites. It’s a rough time of year for me and the family. We miss him dearly. And it is hard. It helps to talk about him. I’ve been seeing him in my dreams more often lately. And for a moment in my slumber all is well and then I wake up.

Pushing forward. That’s what I do. That’s what you should do too. Paul doesn’t get to be here but I am and you are. I refuse to waste it even though I’m still working on my identity.

Much Love!

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Batgirl getting ready for Lisa’s 40th Birthday!
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A genuine me. Silly. Oct 2016

Does Your Belly Hang Low? Does it Wobble To and Fro?

I am coming up on my 2 year surgi-versary. I have managed to lose over 180lbs in over 2.5 years so I have a biiiiiit on extra skin hanging around (pun intended). I’ve pretty much been maintaining since early 2016. I’ve been battling with the ‘last 5-10lbs’ all year pretty much. Instead of being completely, ridiculously hard on myself, I have tried to accept that my body wants to be at this weight. It seems to be where I keep ending up. I can restrict and get down to where I want  to be but as soon as I let up a bit on the diet, right back up I go. When I step back from that scale and really look at myself, my life and how I feel about the two–I’m content. This is a good weight for me. I feel good. I feel healthy. I’m comfortable. I have been working on my mind to just get it right there. We all hate that BMI scale but it still exists and I’m still classified as overweight. But all my numbers are good. I can do all the things in life that I want to do. I’m not hindered in the slightest by my weight. So… I say…fuck that BMI scale. HMPH!

I’m at a good place weight wise. It is now time for my finale. I’m approaching my big surgery date for my 360 abdominoplasty. For those who are not familiar with this surgery, I’ll describe it briefly (sorry in advance if I make your skin crawl a bit). It’s a fancy tummy tuck but allll the way around. Basically they cut you at your pelvis (where a C-section scar would be) and take that incision all the way around (360). They detach that skin from your body, pull the skin down, cut off the extra, make me a new belly button (I know, crazy, right?), cinch up my abdominal muscles, then pull the bottom up (like a pair of pants) and stitch me back together. Voila! I’m getting rid of my pendulous stomach/skin. This is a major surgery. The pain will be intense. I’ll be off of work for weeks. But I’m absolutely thrilled to be doing this. It really is the finale to my weight loss. I’ll, of course, be posting lots of before and after pics.

I know what many of you are thinking. “Jessica, why can’t you just be happy with  your weight loss.” Some of you might even think that it is totally vain to have this surgery. Let’s go ahead and set that straight. I can’t remember a time where I didn’t have this belly. Since childhood, I have always had this stomach. It grew into a fold to where it sat on top of my mons pubis. And there it has sat for all of my adolescence and adulthood. As I have lost weight, it has shrank a little bit and it’s not near as dense. Now, it is literally a fold of skin. It has always and continues to make me self conscious. Like “is it gonna flap” “does it smell” “do I need to re-apply baby powder”? Let me ask you–do you have to worry about these things? Grooming was always difficult, as I had to always sit on the toilet to shave properly. In the shower, I have to be sure to lift my fold and scrub really good. This is a warm, dark area. An ideal place for bacteria and yeast to grow. So no, it isn’t just vanity. Does vanity play a part? Absolutely. I hate how my belly skin hangs when I do a plank. Or how my belly flops and claps when I do a jumping jack. I can’t wear loose pants when I work out because a belly slip would be waaaay more embarrassing than a nip slip. Just saying.

What am I most concerned about though? My emotional reaction. If you remember back to after my arm/breast surgery, I had an unanticipated reaction. Upon first glance at my “new body” I had a panic attack. It took a little bit for this reaction to subside. Although I was very prepared for this surgery and so excited for it, I didn’t foresee having a negative reaction to my body. There was a grieving process and then an acceptance of my new body that I had to deal with. This reaction was compounded by the fact that I was changing and I now had a body that Paul never saw. That was devastating to me. With a push from my Lisa and her daughter, I have called and made an appointment with a psychologist that specializes in bariatrics. I’m going to see him in a couple weeks and gear myself up for this surgery!

Enough of that…let’s talk progress:

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Activity. Lisa and I recently bought mountain bikes. We rode around a local lake that was 8.0 miles. Wow!!! It was a really wonderful experience. Such a nice ride after we figured out how to operate the gears. (We researched this a couple weeks prior to our ride. Gotta love that Google.) It was a big NSV for me. I had never ridden a bike so far. It was invigorating. I wasn’t winded or anything. Now…the next day my crotch and thighs were sore but this was to be expected. I really enjoy the bike. I even rode the other day by myself. I enjoyed the breeze in my face and the beautiful scenery near my home. This is a cardio workout I could really get into!!

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Emily is one of the bravest girls I’ve ever known. I’m happy to support her!!  

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Lisa, myself and her girl child participated in the Out of the Darkness Walk to raise awareness for those who struggle with suicidal ideations and depression.

Recognition. Dietbet reached out to me again about a PR opportunity. I am supposed to have an interview with someone from CatersNews tomorrow. That’s kinda awesome. Then, today, I received a package from Waybetter.com enclosed was a workout jacket, water bottle and a note book with a little note from the CEO.

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Package from Waybetter

Looking Forward. I have lots of stuff going on and coming up. I’ll be getting another round of sclerotherapy done to my legs for my varicose veins. I have about 4 weeks left of nursing school (for my BSN). Lisa and I are checking a few things off of my bucket list/goals: cooking class and to go sailing. Also, Lisa’s 40th birthday is in a little over 2 weeks so I’m gearing up for that.

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Like always…much love and thanks for the support. Love yourself…move your body!!

Give Up Perfection: Some Tips for Success

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I was cleaning out for a garage sale and came across my ‘fat pants’. I can literally fit in one leg of these pants!!! Size 26/28 vs size 8

Perfection. Is there such a thing? Can a person be perfect? The answer is no. So why do we constantly set goals for perfection? As women in American culture, this is ingrained from an early age. We tend to think in absolutes. Being good; being bad. On the wagon; off the wagon. Success; failure. I’m on my own journey to try to reprogram myself and I hope to inspire others to reprogram as well.

I’ve had a few very frank conversations with women who are struggling with their weight, body image issues and/or have had weight loss surgery. I’m always delighted when someone seeks me for advice and inspiration. It’s humbling and fulfilling. The thought process that is echoed in every conversation is perfection. “I was bad” “I need to get it together” “I’ll be happier if I could just get to such&such weight”. But ladies, this is what we have to work towards changing.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am 100% guilty of all of the above. I have made all of these statements. I can’t recall if I’ve shared this with y’all before but one of the most eye opening conversations that I had was recently with a friend. We were talking about weight loss goals. I had mentioned that a co-worker had an ‘ideal figure’ and eluded that I’d be ‘happy’ if I could look that way. We called her over and asked her to share her height and weight. I am literally the SAME height. I weigh within 2 lbs of her and I wear the same size jeans. What the hell? So I had created this image of what I was trying to attain and I couldn’t even really see my own success. That was an eye opener for me.

The above interaction made me really think. I’ve always joked that I’m a perfectionist. I am in some sorts and it fares me well in my work and such things. But it doesn’t fare me well for my health, body image and overall happiness.

A friend recently was venting to me about her dissatisfaction with her weight loss. She had told me her weight loss and it was truly amazing and something to be proud of in my eyes. I inquired as to why she was dissatisfied. Her response was that ‘others were losing more than her’ and that she ‘hadn’t been as good as she could be’. And here lies the pitfall.

I’ve been here; I’m still here as a working progress. We should not compare our success to others. There will always be someone who surpasses you; there will always be someone who trails you. You have to place SUCCESS where it needs to be. You have to define it by your own standards; not by the success/failure of others. If we constantly are reaching for perfection as we see it on someone else or a perfection/success we have created, we will ALWAYS fall short. Every. Time.

How many times have you ‘fallen off the wagon’? I know I have probably a thousand times. This wagon puts us in this constant cycle–up down up down. Yo-Yo. And each time you have a down, you beat yourself up. We all do this in different ways but I guarantee that if you struggle with your weight like I have that you are NOT kind to yourself. You tell yourself all kinds of negative things and this just adds to the cycle.

I can remember so many diets. It seems I’ve been on a diet for forever. My weight has literally been on my mind from wake to sleep since I was probably about 12 years old. I’d get these plans in my mind about how I was going to get back on track TOMORROW. I was going to eat right, exercise hard core, no junk food. Tomorrow would come, maybe I’d eat really good all day and then night fall would come and I would binge. Then I’d feel awful. I’d beat myself up and label myself as a failure. THEN I’d eat even worse because now I was off my diet. And so the crazy cycle continued. Continued right on up to 341 lbs.

How do we fix this? How do we fix ourselves? I say–be kind. Be kind to yourself. Ditch the diet. Forgive yourself. Find happiness outside of food. These are my tips for success.

Be Kind. Only say things to yourself that you would say to others. So many times I have looked at myself with disgust and mentally bashed myself. But I wouldn’t DARE say these things to another person. What I practice now is some self love. Even when I feel fat or bloated, I find something positive. That’s the day I’ll put a lil extra make up on. Something to help me feel ‘prettier’.

Ditch the diet.  Do I mean pig out? Heck no. It’s all about balance. How did you get those extra pounds? You were out of balance. You have heard this time and time again: moderation is the key–you must make a lifestyle change. And it is 100% true. We all want a magic pill that allows us to get the model figure over night and allows us to eat whatever the fuck we want. But that’s not reality. Whatever you decide to do to get healthy or lose weight has to be something that you can do forever. Think of it this way, if you starve yourself for the next couple weeks and drop a few pounds…the weeks following you’re going to eat and gain it back. It’s just the way it works. Calories in/calories out. I could write a whole blog over nutrition but how boring is that? My best advice for nutrition–keep it simple. Eat whole foods. Eat less junk. And if you have the junk, make it small and make it infrequent.

Forgive Yourself. You better believe this is important. Don’t beat yourself up. What good will that do? Not a damn bit. Okay…so you ate a whole box of cookies. It happens. Let it go. If you can, think on why you did it. What were you feeling? But more importantly, think about how eating that box of cookies made you feel and commit that to memory then move on. That next meal, you own it. Don’t harp on the ‘I was so bad’ thing. That isn’t going to get you anywhere. I love my sweets and if/when I overindulge I think about it afterwards now. Like ‘damn. I just ate that whole bag of Milanos over the course of one day. Now my belly hurts. Why did I do that? I was bored. Dang I really don’t like how my body feels right now and those cookies aren’t helping me reach my goals.’ Then you know what I do? I move on. If there are cookies left, I pitch them. Yep. Throw it out. That’s what I do. The next meal/snack I try to eat towards my goal (or rather towards my why).

Find Happiness Outside of Food. This is the big one. Live your life. Find what really gives you joy and do it. Don’t wait until you’re the perfect size. The perfect weight. That day won’t ever come. We are imperfect people and we are constantly changing. Shit happens. Don’t wait to live you life based on what you think the future you should look like or weigh. Most of us women eat emotionally, bored-happy-sad-lonely-mad-etc. We have to find things/activities to fill these voids. Find your void filler. Also, find and surround yourself with people that bring the best of you out. The people that don’t make you question yourself. The people who inspire you. Those people are a crucial key to lasting success. You are who you surround yourself with. I truly believe that.

Yes, I had bariatric surgery to get my excess weight off but I did the work. I’ve changed my life but more importantly, I’ve changed my outlook on life. I don’t wait for later. I try to live in the now. I want to be the best me possible but I accept that the best me will not be perfect. I’m currently still working on all of these things. It’s a daily practice. It doesn’t come naturally. It’s something I have to work at. But I can tell you this…this me is the most fulfilled I’ve ever been and it feels amazing!

Go do something outside your comfort zone today. Get active. Live your life! Love you all,

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Lisa makes me happy. She lifts me up. She helps inspire me to stay healthy.
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Vodka Trot 2016. Big first for me. I’ve never worn short shorts like this out in public because my legs are not ‘perfection’ but I did. And I had a blast and I wasn’t worried about what others thought of me!
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Lisa and her sister, Tasha, encouraged me to get up and dance with this small group of women at this big event. The old me would not have done this. It was so fun and freeing!
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Don’t be afraid to be silly. :)

 

How I Cope with Being Dumped

Betrayal. Hurt. Loss. Relationships. Sisters. These are all terms that come to mind when I think of two significant people in my life. I’ve been silent about it thinking that I didn’t want to put into forever ink what I couldn’t take back and what might hurt the possible future I might have with these two wonderful women. Although, now I think that this is a blog I need to write as it weighs heavily on my mind and my heart. I am certain that there are other widows out there who have experienced these same things, unfortunately.

I wrote recently about a renewed hope that I had in a lost friendship. I was vague about the details as I don’t know who, if anyone, in her circle reads my blogs. I didn’t want to add pressure to a very new beginning and weak foundation. I feel now though that I want to disclose what has transpired, how I’ve been impacted and how I’m coping. I think the loss of a friendship of our calibur is significant. I have had to grieve a long side grieving for my husband. It has been unimaginably difficult and there is not a clear cut way of how to handle it.

Those who are closest to me know that my best friend of more than 20 years broke up with me less than 2 months after my Paul took his last breath. To add insult to injury, she did not give me any reason other than she didn’t want to speak to me. To say I was devastated is a gross understatement. I do not have the vocabulary to accurately describe the amount of pain this brought me. I can not begin to tell you what it does to a person to lose two of the most solid pillars of their life in the matter of 2 months. The only way I can begin to explain is to first tell you how important she was to me and how close she was to my husband. Paullium is what she called him; Ab-zilla is what he called her. He considered her his sister and his mother was thankful that her only child got to experience the love of a sibling as he had found it in her. When her parents turned their back on her and she was leaving her toxic marriage, Paul did not question me for a second when I asked if she could move in with us. Her and her two young girls lived with us for months in our mediocre 1100 square foot home. There were many evenings that we shared as a ‘family’. Those girls were like our children. They loved their Paulie. And when they got their own apartment, we enjoyed times together there as well. We liked to Jingle Jammie shop at Old Navy and have pj evenings. The girls loved to have ice cream just like Paulie. The marshmallow gun fight we had just that one evening is a memory I won’t ever forget. That last year Paul was here, we had a lot going on in our lives as did she. She wasn’t around as much. She worked a lot. Paul constantly invited her over and asked me if I thought he did anything wrong. He missed our times together. So did I. He still loved her dearly.

The night he died. She was my first call. The night was a blur but I remember her arriving promptly at our newly built home (we’d only owned it for 4 months). I remember her face as she looked at me, as  she stayed strong for me and she comforted me. And when the funeral home people arrived, she took me in her car and drove around while they took his lifeless body. She slept with me that night and for I don’t know how many nights after that. She went to the funeral home the next day to make arrangements and sat in that room with me with my mom, his mom and his grandmother as we made arrangements that I wasn’t prepared to make. She was there as I made the decision to cremate him against his family’s wishes. And as I cried copious amounts of tears that night, she stroked my hair. She wrote his obituary. She stood by my side. She was everything I didn’t even know that I needed. Paul and I were supposed to go on this family trip around New Year’s that year. The tickets were already bought. And she took his place and we went to Florida to meet up with his family. I’ll never forget that trip. She was deathly afraid of rollercoasters but she got on them with me. We met up with a friend at Cocoa Beach, we all drank wine and spread some of his ashes. We were planning to get tattoos in his honor on her birthday (NYE) but in a terrible turn of events I wasn’t able to go–my car blew up, Mollie ate a bag of Dove chocolate which landed her in the puppy ICU. I spent that first NYE without my Paul, by myself, in our house and I cried all night. She got that tattoo. I was so upset with her. But I had already started to develop this new life’s motto to live as if it’s your last…and I texted her the next day to tell her I was upset about that night but I wanted to let it go.

My life, again, was never the same. I’ll never forget being at I-240 & S Sante Fe at a red stop light. It was January 3, 2015. I had called her twice. She never answered. I told her I wanted to see her, to bring the girls their Christmas gifts, to bring her birthday gifts and to show her my brand new car. She told me she was busy. I told her I’d come to wherever she was. She told me that she didn’t want to talk to me. I asked her for how long. She told me that she didn’t know. In true dramatic girl fashion, I asked ‘ever?’ and she responded ‘maybe’. That was the longest red light ever. And I could have sworn I felt my heart literally break all over again. I would go months before she gave me any inkling as to why she never spoke to me again.

After 20 years of friendship, we have seen our fair share of fights, ups/downs, good times, better times and everything that lies between so I just KNEW that this would blow over. No way my best friend was no longer my bff. I can’t even tell you how many hours I spent analyzing what went wrong, what I did and trying to figure how to fix it. I was going to counseling twice a week at this time and I’m thankful for that. Had I not already been in grief counseling, I swear that my mom would have had to commit me. My therapist assured me that it would pass and to focus on what I could control–and those were my actions and reactions. I tried really hard not to hound her. I tried not to be my typical self. I’m the person who will work at something, rearrange it over and over until it’s unrecognizable. You know the type. So I just sent her periodic messages. Funny memes. Sweet texts. No response.

It wasn’t until months later when she would text me to ask about a blow up mattress that I would get a response as to what happened. In short, she didn’t feel that she could be the friend I needed, that she couldn’t be a friend to me. She told me that she would never be able to talk about a break up with a boyfriend or such…because any ‘bad’ thing that would happen to her would never compare to my loss. She told me that she was resentful of me…that she thought I lied about my dog being in the hospital and that something I said upset her. I said something to the extent of ‘this is the worst day ever’ and that that wasn’t true because Paul died. I tried to reason with her. To tell her that I loved her. To tell her that I would never compare losses. That I don’t think that way. That I was better now and that she didn’t have to hold me up like she did within that first month that he died. That I was in therapy and I was doing better. She ultimately told me that we grieve in different ways…that basically I bathe in his memory and she wants to push it out and forget it.

I have reached out to her since periodically. I’ve tried many different ways of ‘getting over’ this. I’ve tried letting her go, cold turkey. Tried to just not think of her. That just didn’t work for me. I tried to ‘get it right’ in my mind. To try to accept ‘it is what it is’. I tried to be calm and let it just be. Never to text her. Okay…maybe just a couple texts. Share just a picture.Nothing has really ‘worked’ for me. Well intentioned friends and family have given me their wisdom “you’re better off without her” “just focus on your positive relationships” “she’ll come around” “it’ll blow over”. I try to put her out of my mind but I just feel like there’s this missing piece. Like it’s incomplete. I’ve gotten better though. I’d say for about the first 9+ months, I literally had to tell myself ‘no, Jessica. She doesn’t care’ every time something happened that I wanted to tell her. It was like unlearning a habit. It’s gotten better. I still feel compelled to reach out to her but most often stop myself. Such wasn’t the case of the 4th of July this year when I reached out to her with a memory. That day was amazing. I had hope for the first time within a year and a half. And she told me she wanted to talk. And we did, text, for the next few days and it was so great. We planned to meet but that day came and she cancelled at the last minute. The messages stopped. I felt like a girl that belonged in that movie ‘He’s Just Not that in to You”. I tried to resist but after several days, I texted her. She just told me that she hadn’t intended to ignore me and life was busy.

I was crushed. Again. Lisa and I had a long talk that evening. She told me I had to stop. I had to stop reaching out to her. That I needed to see what she was saying…and all her actions are saying that she just doesn’t care..at least not right now. And she said those words “she just doesn’t want or can’t be your friend”. And I was overwhelmed with emotion…I was heart-broken. I was embarrassed. I was sad. And the next day I downloaded self-help books trying to reach at something to help me find myself some peace.

That was almost 3 weeks ago. And still, I didn’t get it. Not until last week. When I had a terrible accident. I don’t even know why I did it; maybe I was trying to tug at some type of heart string…look for some glimmer of love…but I texted her a photo of my wreck. She texted back and did ask if I was okay. And the next day, I got it. Exactly what Lisa said “she just doesn’t want to be your friend”. She isn’t a bad person. I hope I haven’t painted her in a negative light. She’s just a person. And I can only speculate as to what exactly happened. I don’t know. I probably never will and I’m learning to be okay with that. My dearest friend Kati, my calm sense of reason, gave me the best analogy about wounds and experiences. I wouldn’t do it justice by trying to reiterate her words but the jist of it is that she was a huge part of my life and who I am. We had some AMAZING memories and times together that have forever changed my life. And I’m going to get to that point when I think of her or of a memory and I feel that pull at my heart that I will think ‘yep, it hurts because it was that good’. I’m trying to think of her kinda like when I think of Paul…like when I cry and my heart quite literally aches; I KNOW that it is because our love was something special, something truly great and that it made my heart bigger. It’s amazing to me but I am not bitter. Not even a little bit. My therapist asked me earlier last year to think about how I would feel if she came back a year later and if I’d be bitter. And I’m not. I’m happy I experienced a love like ours; a friendship like ours. I’m a better person for having had her in my life. And I think to myself, I’ll always keep my same cell number. Ya know, just in case she ever wants to reach out to me. I’ll still be here. And I want to get to that point. Like those friends you don’t see or talk to ever but then you do and you catch up a little and it makes you smile. That’s what I’d love to have one day.

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I had a rear tire blow out on the highway going 78mph. I lost complete control and crash HEAD ON into the center cement barrier. Luckily, I was okay and no one else was involved.

Just recently I experienced another unexpected blow. My baby sister unfriended me on Facebook. No blow up; no reasoning. She merely responded to my voicemail “I do not wish to speak to you. I need space from this family.” Enraged. Crushed. Perplexed. All of the above. I still am pretty clueless as to what is and has happened. She has been one of those that haven’t had the best outcome from Paul’s death. Not that there’s a great one but I’d say she hasn’t probably coped in the most healthy and effective manners. She, too, was by my side when Paul passed. She was stern and tight lipped. I knew what he meant to her. Our Papa was her everything. He was her idol and her beacon as to what a good man is. We lost him in 2009 and Jamie was understandably crushed. When Paul entered our lives in 2010, they were instant buddies. Paul had that way about him and he accepted her completely. She was his family. She looked up to him and they had a wonderful, quirky banter between them. It delighted my soul to see my sister happy and to love this man that I loved so dearly. I’d say my sister comes by many of her mannerisms quite honestly from our grandmother. She keeps it in and holds her head tall. She is unbelievably stubborn but has a heart of gold. I didn’t see her shed many tears for Paul; although, I knew that on the inside that she was shattered. In the midst of my grief, I was not able to be a big sister to her and to try to console her and encourage her to seek help and that the stuff you build inside eats at you until it finds its way out. She has said a couple times over the last year or so that I didn’t understand what she lost and while I did offer my ear to her, she never took me up on that. I have felt her pull away and I have given her her space thinking that she would find her way in time. And I was crushed on a recent sister date that I thought was going swimmingly, when she told me I was a shitty sister. Basically that I wasn’t there. I tried to explain to her that I was always there even if I wasn’t up her butt. My words didn’t hold much meaning with her and I sat there and listened as she expressed her discontent with our family. I tried to tell her what family meant to me and that her family loved her dearly but it fell on deaf ears. After I received the response from her that she didn’t want to speak to me, I reached out to her fiance. I pleaded with him to help my sister…to guide her…to help her find happiness. I was not accusatory. I felt like I was really at his mercy but I was not greeted with kindness in return as his reply was as follows:

 

You still don't get it after all this time. When Paul died he left very big shoes to be filled in everyone's lives. He didn't text once a week asking how are you, he texted saying come over or im coming to get you twice a week at least. When he said im here for you, he listened, he didn't put in his opinion or judge or say how it should have been done. When he said his door was open he made sure it was physically open when we got there. He never said maybe we should see a therapist. he never said she's not the same girl, he just learned how to love the new one. He never said she wasnt ok, he just showed up to lend a ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on. And he DEFINITELY never said this is not my sister. Im not saying your a terrible sister, but you have not even come close to what she lost when she lost Paul.Sorry to be so blunt but if you deny any of this just know, that's why you two aren't close anymore

I didn’t say anything; although, my first reaction was ‘SHUT YOUR FUCKING MOUTH’. I held my tongue. I love her. I want the best for her. Even if it’s sitting on the sidelines until she tags me in. Saving my patience for when she comes back. I hope she comes back. I’ll still be here. And when that time comes, we will sit down and have a conversation about Paul. About what he meant to both of us. That his death is not some type of competition. His death is a reason to pull closer and not a reason to cause any type of rift between anyone; especially, not between us. It is never acceptable to use Paul’s death as a reason to shun me. His life is not one to put against mine. His integrity, actions, heart are not ones to place head to head and toe to toe next to my own. He was my partner. He was my husband. He was her brother. He was her friend. They are not to be compared. I have not made that abundantly clear to her in past times because I’ve walked on eggshells trying not to upset her. I have done her a disservice by allowing these actions/thoughts/behaviors to continue. This is a situation where I should have stood strong and voiced my thoughts even if it meant she got angry with me and cut me out of her life. Because now I see that she has done that regardless. Nevertheless, family is family. Our family is amazing. I have seen them pull through some difficult times together. I’ve seen us support each other. Cry with one another. Laugh with one another. I have faith in my family. I’m proud of my family. I’m confident that she will pull through whatever it is that she is going through and find her way back. We will be here when she does because THAT is the kind of family that we are.

What has been amazing to me since the loss of Paul is the reaction of others. You never really realize the impact that one life has on so very many until you lose them. I knew the very night that I lost him that many would be saddened by this, devastated even. What I didn’t realize was that history would be rewritten in the minds of some loved ones left behind, relationships would be destroyed and lives would be changed for the seemingly worse. It was naive of me to think that everyone would walk away with this realization that life is fucking short–that you should seize this day–that you should never let a loved one know anything contrary to how you  truly feel about them–to love more and hate less. Sure I know about grief–as a nurse, as a grandparent-less grandchild, as a widow–that it is personal and that it is different for each of us. I know that rationally. And this is the main reason that I have given slack and understanding to those who have given me less than love and empathy throughout my loss–when others looking in have said “what the fuck is wrong with them? How can they treat you this way?” I’ve tried my best to respond with kindness and understanding. I’ve tried to remain peaceful and of the right mind. To hope that they will move past this and find peace of their own. I have kept hope that time heals all wounds and surely when that occurs they will come back to me, we will embrace and all will be forgiven. That is what has been transpiring in my mind, the rational side. In my heart though, on the inside where all is raw–I’m a bundle of nerves. Constantly on high alert.  I constantly think 3-5 steps ahead. I’m conscientious of what I may say and how that may impact others. Just as with this blog. I started it on the premise that I would be honest and truthful. And I have been. But I’ve also filtered. Not because what I think and feel is wrong but because of how others might feel. Because of how it may impact them. Because maybe 5 years from now my former bff will change her mind and decide she loves me and wants to be in my life so I must guard what I say as to not hurt the chance of the slim possibility. I was describing how it feels to be on guard of a ‘what could be’ relationship to Lisa’s 16 year old. And as the words just fumbled out of my mouth, I realized how ridiculous it sounded. She was not confused by what I was trying to say though. She got it because she, too, unfortunately, battles with extreme anxiety. She very calmly and plainly said ‘that is hard. But sometimes, even though it’s hard, you have to just put yourself first. To do what’s best for you. And you know what? We will be there for you. Because we love you”. Wow, right? Wow. I love that kid. She is 100% right. And that is exactly what I am working on doing. Practicing what I preach

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On the left: my FIRST day as an RN 2013 On the right: 2016

 

As always, guys: live for today. Love everyday. Hug those you love. And be sure to tell them exactly what they mean to you.

 

The First ‘I love you’. The Fourth. Rekindling an Old Friendship.

Six years ago, Paul told me that he loved me. It was after dating just a few weeks. It was the sweetest moment I had ever experienced in my life. It happened while lying in his bed. He was so nervous. And he told me in the form of a question “What if I told you that I loved you?”He had stolen my heart many times and long before this moment.

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This has been an amazing weekend. I got my guest bedroom put together. I had started this in preparation of my sister and niece coming down but they weren’t able to make it. It was a trying experience as I had never installed a ceiling fan nor put together large furniture before. I had a moment of a pity party as I wanted to get my ceiling fan installed but was having a trying time getting someone/anyone to help me. My thoughts…”Paul should be here to do this” “My girlfriend’s back is out” “My husband is dead and I have no one to help”. But then…in the moment that these thoughts flooded my mind, I paused Netflix and retrieved the ceiling fan box. I told myself…”You can do this” and about an hour and a half later I had installed it. I felt so accomplished in so many ways. I finished the room the next day and my brother told me he was coming into town! I was elated! So this fourth of July weekend has been amazing. Filled with family and good times.

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Put together this room myself. Working on my independence!

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Family Time. Group Picture: Fourth of July breakfast Mom and I for her birthday celebration at a comedy club
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Lisa and I on the 4th: 2015 vs 2016

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This morning, I was checking my memories as I do each morning and there was a post from my long time former friend and, suddenly, I missed her terribly. I’ve written very briefly about her. I don’t feel the need to go into detail about what has transpired but I will say after a 20+ year friendship, the death of Paul and an accumulation of events, she decided she couldn’t be my friend any longer in January 2015. To say I was heart broken would be a grave understatement. My world was shattered and then shattered again. I had no idea how to cope. I’ve truly struggled with the loss of my friend for the last 18 months. I have messaged her periodically to let her know that I still think of her and love her. Although, I had resolved over the last few months to let her be; to let it rest. But the memory popped up and the emotions that I had were over powering. I just had to say something. So I did. I let screen-shotted the memory and sent it to her. I let her know that I wished her well and missed and loved her. To my pleasant surprise, she responded. I won’t go in detail regarding the correspondence but I will just say that I was thankful for the correspondence nonetheless. After 18 months, she told me that she would like to continue to talk. Omg. I had to reread that line about 5 times because I truly never thought I’d see that response. I can’t even describe to you what kind of emotion and joy this brought to me. I read these words while surrounded by my brother, Lauren, their dear friend and Lisa. And I couldn’t be any happier than I was in this very moment.

Last year, I talked about this moment several times with my therapist. About if there would be bitterness or resentment if there ever came a time when she would reenter my world. Although, I was convinced the time would never come, my therapist made me talk about it. I’m thankful to her right now. As I was able to speak about this months and months ago. So, I suppose somewhere in my mind it had laid dormant. I’m not bitter. I’m a little sad that so much time has passed; that I’ve missed her moments; that I’ve missed watching her girls grow over this time; and that she’s missed some pivotal moments in my life. But above all, I’m thankful.

I reflected aloud to my brother and family today…that although I would never have made the choice to not have her in my life, I recognize that in her absence I’ve also grown and probably in ways that I would not have had she been a constant in my world. My mom told me this week “Jessica, you have changed. You are not the same person you were.” And although it was not in the context of my relationship with friend, it still applies. I am different. I recognize this about myself and my life. I have grown in ways that are inconceivable. In ways that I never would have dreamed possible. In ways I never would have thought to desire. All this aside, I’m thankful for the growth. And much like with all the wonderful, unexpected surprises of my life, I welcome it.

When I speak to others about my weight loss journey, it is often that I’m asked if I was unhappy. My response is that I wasn’t aware that I was unhappy. I wasn’t aware that I was controlled so vastly by my obesity. Much like that, I wasn’t aware that there were aspects of my personality that had such a substantial impact upon my relationships, friendships and own self worth until they changed. The old me could very well have held resentment in my heart but this new me knows that there is no need. The old me would have felt the need to prove my point but the new me recognizes that it isn’t necessary. The old me would have been angry that so much time was wasted but the new me is excited and hopeful to cherish the time regained in our future…the what-could-have-been is now the what-will-be.

I’ll say it until my last days, this life is precious and it is incredibly short. I don’t want to get too excited about what could be but I’m surely joyful at the possibility that was once impossible.

Happy 4th, y’all!! Home of the free, because of the brave! Thank you to all the brave soldiers, past and present!

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Mollie says “Happy 4th! Stay safe! Oh and rub my belly!”

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Goal Pants: Size 6

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Bought new bras finally. Size 34 C. My aunt said…”looks like a training bra”. haha

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Working on flaunting my legs. Bought new shorts. Junior size 11. Very loose but comfy.

 

A Precious Life: Live it. Love it.

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Father’s Day 2016: Dad says to me ‘did they make a mistake and cut your boobs off?’ oh my.

How precious is this life? And how short is it? I’d venture to say that most of us would admit that life is undeniably precious and that the years pass by quickly. Yet how are we living it? Are we living it for the moment? Or are we wishing it away?

I’d say that for most all of my life, I have wished my life away. Not on purpose of course but, rather, by accident. I’ve hated my body, worried about finances, striven for stability and put off my life for the unforeseeable future that would, without a doubt, reflect my work—the perfect me in the perfect life. I’d be thin. I’d have no debt. I’d be in the perfect career. That’s when I’d live. Right? Wrong. Your life is what happens while you’re putting off for tomorrow. Paul changed my life in so many ways. And although I have few regrets, the one I do have is that I could have worried less and lived more. And in his death, I’ve found life and I have realized that this is my life and this is as good as it may ever be and damn it that’s pretty good. I’ve been listening to a lot of pod casts and reading up on self-love. I have done a lot of self-reflection. And what I’ve realized is that I haven’t always been good to myself. I haven’t loved myself. Over the course of the last 18 months, I’ve had quite a few life altering events take place that have led me to this new outlook on myself and my life. I can’t really pinpoint when or what actually did it; I think it’s just the collection of events.

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Moving my body! Mollie loves walks and I got this new leash that is hands free. It makes our walks much more enjoyable!

I want to worry less…less about what I think others think of me, less about what might happen, less about all those things and people I can’t control. I want to love myself and treat myself the right way…the way I’d treat others. What does this look like for me? As with anything in this life, you get what you give. Put good in; get good out. So I try to nourish my body with food that makes me feel good but not in the way it used to–not to feed my emotions but to literally nourish my body. I move—I have a non-negotiable with myself and that is that I move every day. I’m not an avid runner; I’m an avid couch potato. Ha ha. But I have realized that my body needs to move and when I move it, it responds by feeling good, losing/maintaining weight and increases my quality of life. I’m working on nourishing my mind and my soul. I’m doing this by ridding my life of negative people, negative attitudes and habits that perpetuate anxiety. I try to live out loud. I laugh frequently, help others on their journeys and try new things. I want to make sure that when my time comes that my life was lived and not just ‘survived’.

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It’s important to surround yourself with people that build you up and embody the life and spirit you want for your own. Lisa is one of those people to me. She makes this life fun, pushes me to be better and celebrates with me constantly.
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Loving myself. My legs have been a struggle for me but I’m embracing them by flaunting them and showing gratitude to them. For without these strong legs, I wouldn’t be able to be the active person that I’ve become.

Recently I ran into a former co-worker. A lady that amazes me. She has this amazing soul and an infectious smile. She’s a survivor. When she saw me, I recognized the stunned look. It’s the one I get from those who haven’t seen me in a while. I used to almost feel embarrassed not from shame but rather from the attention that my weight loss would draw. I don’t really feel that way anymore. I smile and I let them ‘ooo and ahh’. I frequently joke ‘I’ve lost a couple pounds huh?’. I take these interactions as a pat on the back and affirmation that I’ve made a positive improvement in my life. She shared with me something that truly made my heart smile. She told me that Paul’s death changed her life. That seeing the pictures that I post made her think about the lack of pictures that she has of herself. She went on to tell me about how she often takes pictures of her children but hides from the camera as she is not satisfied with her physical appearance. And she teared up as she told me that she thought about if she were to leave this Earth that her kids wouldn’t have photos of her. And so now she takes pictures frequently; when she sees me post one of Paul’s pictures that I share that she flips her phone and takes a picture with her kiddos. I was so very glad that she shared this with me. I’m even more thrilled that she seized the day and accepted where she is right now because this life is precious. It’s meant to be celebrated.

As some of you may remember in April, Waybetter.com published an article about me. Well, they reached out to me a few days ago stating “we are working on our weekly email and this week is our inspiration week. We wanted to use your story because it was so inspiring and touching. I was going through your blog and came across your amazing wedding photo’. Wow! I was shocked and in awe. Then the email went out and my friend tagged me on Facebook.  The headline reads ‘A story to renew your faith in human resilience’ and below my wedding photo ‘love, loss and strength fuel this powerful story of one woman’s 150-lb weight loss’. It’s amazing to be recognized for my weight loss and I love that my story has gotten to reach who knows how many people.

How amazing is that? When I started this blog, I thought to myself if Paul’s death could just change one life…

And he has impacted so very many. It makes my heart and soul happy.

You can read the article at…

http://www.waybetter.com/WayBetterToday/waybettertoday/inspiration/how-i-overcame-worst-tragedy-imaginable-and-lost-150-pounds

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The wedding photo that the writer from WayBetter.com stumbled upon. Truly one of my favorite pictures from that amazing day. The really sums up our relationship…he always kept me laughing :)

That’s all for now. Show yourself some love. Give your body gratitude. Hug your loved ones. And live this day to the fullest. You deserve it and so do your loved ones.

Live the life you want today; “You don’t need to lose anymore weight”

I know I just posted a few days ago but I have had a very exciting couple of days and I just wanted to share them.

I visited my bariatric clinic today for a check up. It was uplifting and reassuring. I love going. I used to dread going to any type of doctor for fear of the scale, the vitals and what ‘lecture’ they might have in store for me. But all that has changed. I’m excited to go. It’s a personal challenge and I always feel so accomplished. I didn’t hesitate when the LPN told me to hop on the scale…157 appeared! Clothed! This is my lowest weight. Wow! This is exciting for me for a multitude of reasons but the one that stands out is that I know that I have a minimum of 8 lbs of skin (as per my doctors and plastic surgeon) sooooo that puts my ‘true weight’ at 149 and for my height …that make me ‘average weight’ on the BMI scale and I’ve lost over 88% of my excess body weight (they don’t count the 5 lbs I gained in the first 2 weeks of the program but I do). WTF?! ahhhh. To top this off, 110/71 blood pressure!

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I remember when I first went to this clinic and I saw this toilet seat. I was shocked but excited. ‘These people get it’ is what I thought. Then—this toilet seat was much more comfortable than the normal size ones. Now—I kinda sunk in which I literally laughed aloud.


I, recently, joined this challenge called Live More Challenge. The founder’s thought process is that if we live more now, we will weigh less later (in simplistic terms). The hope is to teach us to live more and to enjoy ourselves and our lives. Each day you’re given a challenge. I was skeptical but the first day was to buy fresh cut flowers for yourself and display them. I can’t tell you how great that felt. Mollie was supportive (well..kinda..with a little bribery) 20160606_184359

I’ve recently been reading and listening to pod casts about emotional eating and weight loss. The consensus is the same…we (emotional eaters, over eaters, binge eaters) eat for a reason; to fill a void. We have replaced emotions with food and, although maybe it made us feel better in a moment, it left us with bodies that we no longer are proud of and, subsequently, have put our lives on hold for. I know that I’ve been guilty of playing this perfect life scenario in my head; one in which when I’m thin, I’ll do this and I’ll do that. I like how this creator says ‘have fun now’. This plays into everything I’ve been trying to evolve into and this new mentality that was forced upon me with the sudden death of Paul: life is short; live it. Tomorrow is not promised. It’s important to live the life you have right now; not the life you hope to have in the future. “If only I was thinner” “When the kids are older” “when I’m out of debt” “When I have X amount of dollars” Forget all of those excuses and just do it. Figure out what brings you joy, get out of your comfort zone and do it.

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A co-worker gave me a little basil sprout-ling. I went to Home Depot at like 9pm to pick out a pretty pot and soil instead of eating. I planted it the following day.
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Lisa and I love to just do things together. We love to walk at the lake. This past weekend, we got a cheap-o kite and flew it at the lake. We also ran around and we played Frisbee.

Another philosophy that I’m working on integrating into my life is mindful eating and listening to my body. I have heard this so many times before. I’ve read lots of books that have stated the same thing. And in the beginning of my weight loss journey I heard it again. I guess it just didn’t resonate with me until now. I’m trying to get to where I want to be–fit, healthy, active, happy and satisfied. Nearing goal weight has made me really think about the big picture. What after this? I think I have got to let some really bad habits go. I’m waaaay better than I used to be but I can improve. I want to improve so that I don’t slip. Hunger is a physical thing–I’m trying to focus on that. Seems simple, right? But how many times have you eaten when you literally aren’t hungry? you know you have. Now, with my surgery—I can’t be extremely rigid with this as my hormones are different than the normal person as I don’t produce grehlin hormone as the normal person. But I can be mindful as to if it truly is hunger that I’m eating for or if it’s emotion. Another tip I heard was to be distraction free at meal time. This is a biiig one for me. I live alone and I eat almost all of my meals on the couch or in bed or standing in the kitchen. So my new goal is to stop this. I plan to sit and eat; not be on the phone either. I, also, bought some cloth napkins and napkin holders.

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Today I enjoyed my breakfast and lunch, distraction free, on my patio. It was lovely. And I was aware of what and how much I was eating. I listened to my body and knew EXACTLY when I was full.


So…what does your face look like when your plastic surgeon tells you “Jessica, don’t lose any more weight”?

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I had my last follow up appointment with my surgeon regarding my January surgery. Everything is perfect except a small dog ear on my right armpit. But it’s minor and fixable. We discussed my BIG surgery: 360 abdominoplasty! I’m beyond ecstatic! We are planning for November 10 of this year. He gave me the choice of fixing the dog ear in the office with local or I can wait til November and he will fix it while I’m under. Well, it isn’t painful and barely noticeable so I opted to be knocked out. Ha ha.

I am beyond excited about this. This will be the week of the 2nd anniversary of my surgery and Paul’s death. It will be an epic finale and the finishing touch to what I started 2 years ago. He would be so proud. This will, also, allow me time off of work during the anniversary. I know myself and I wouldn’t be fit to work. It’s much too hard. So…two birds, one stone.

But, seriously, he told me not to lose anymore weight! I laughed, truly. I thought he was joking buuut he wasn’t. I told him…’maybe just 5 more pounds’. He asked me why and I quoted the BMI chart and he laughed at me. Never in my life have I been told that I didn’t need to lose anymore weight. It’s odd but satisfying.

And for your viewing pleasure…a picture of the pup with the roughest life ever…Mollie…

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