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:
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!!
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.
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.
Like always…much love and thanks for the support. Love yourself…move your body!!
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.
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
As always, guys: live for today. Love everyday. Hug those you love. And be sure to tell them exactly what they mean to you.
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.
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’.
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.
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!
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)
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.
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.
So…what does your face look like when your plastic surgeon tells you “Jessica, don’t lose any more weight”?
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…
Two years ago today I took the first step on my weight loss journey. I had my first appointments at my bariatric clinic. I met with the surgeon, dietician, patient advocate and exercise physiologist. Dr. B was blunt stating “I’m not saying that I’ll do surgery on you”. I’ll never forget the stern look on his face as we discussed the obstacles that were laid in front of me to overcome prior to surgery. He told me that I had to lose 10% of my weight (34 lbs) on my own before I could have gastric bypass, attend monthly support group and meet with diet/exercise monthly. He told me “if on the day of surgery, you’re even 1 pound shy of the weight loss goal, your surgery will be canceled”. I had this knot in my stomach and I looked him in the eyes and said “I WILL do this. I know I can.” And so it began…
This program and the support within it has saved my life, quite literally. I was pre-hypertensive and morbidly obese. My future health was at stake with a family history of obesity, diabetes and heart disease; not to mention that I was missing out on my life.
Recently, a former ‘friend’ (I use this term loosely as she was not a friend afterall) that I had blocked of Facebook created a fake account and messaged me. To say that she was cruel would be a gross understatement. Her comments cut deeply and really upset me. She said:
“You are disgusting inside and out.
I loved him, but he was stuck up your ass. and then you let him die alone while you were being selfish. and then moved on without a care. did he even matter to you? he died alone because you didnt like how you looked! how pathetic is that? i pray you never feel the pain the rest of us have knowing how much he cared for you and you just turned away and rub it in everyones face.
And I know for a fact that he died alone while you were recovering from your selfish surgery because you didnt want to be fat and didnt want to work hard enough to lose it. Wah, wah poor Jessica”
And while I know that she is wrong and a cruel, wicked and pathetic person; it still struck a nerve. I really have reflected on these very thoughts.
Is bariatric surgery vain? When your BMI (body mass index) is 56.7 putting you in the morbidly obese category? I’m not so sure. Did I like the way I looked? Was I comfortable in my skin? No, I wasn’t. But does that make me vain? Maybe it does. And if it does, is that wrong?
How many women wear make-up? How many women suck in their tummies in front of people? How many fad diets have you been on to get ready for bikini season? Do you prefer your clothes to look nice? Put jewelry on? Feel good when you win an award? Glow a little when someone compliments you? I’m willing to say all of us are guilty.
Vanity is defined as excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements.
Is there something wrong with this? I don’t think so. Was it selfish of me to take such a drastic measure to get control over my health and my weight? Maybe it was. Was it the right choice for me and my husband? Absofuckinlutely!! Paul 100% supported my decision to get healthy. He didn’t view it as selfish. He loved me the way I was and he supported me in wanting to change for the better. And if he were here today, I think he would be damn proud of how far that I have come.
On a more positive note, Dietbet.com featured me on their Hall of Fame and Waybetter.com wrote an article about me. I have been absolutely overwhelmed but the immense support and love that has resulted from this. So many people have called me an inspiration, congratulated me on how far I’ve come and what I’ve endured. It’s still so very baffling that people look up to me. It really is. And it warms my heart and it delights my soul. I attribute my success to my dedication to honor my husband and his life and all that he stood for; he truly lived his life loud and proud–and I’m trying to mimic that. But to know that I have actually helped others who are struggling with their weight and/or the loss of a spouse overjoys me. It gives me even more purpose.
I encourage any one of you who are reading this and want to make a change, no matter where you are in your journey, to keep pushing. And if you need help, please feel free to reach out to me https://www.facebook.com/Jess0322 . I would absolutely love to be a resource to you. I’ve said it many times, in reference to my weight loss journey…I can’t say it’ll be easy, but I sure can say that it is fucking worth it!
Love you all. Thank you so much for the continued support.
**Right boob update: so the mystery is solved. I had forgotten that 3 days ago, a co-worker accidentally punched me in the right boob. I was following behind her and she went to take off her jacket and **whack** right in the right boob where all the bruising is! It knocked the wind outta me. I’m thankful that we figured this out. And don’t be hard on my co worker–it was totally an accident, she’s amazing! She even drew on my boob to outline the bruise so I could track it’s progression/regression!
“Wow” “I don’t even recognize you” “You look amazing” “You have done so much”. These are all common compliments I get from a multitude of people. I wanted to take a moment and just thank everyone for all of the support. I truly appreciate it.
Today, I visited my old floor. I transferred about 4 months ago. It always feels like home when I visit even though there are so many new faces. When I visit, I always hope for some juicy trauma drama gossip but my weight loss and surgery usually are the topic. I’m sure that’ll change over time. I enjoy talking about my journey; it’s been a long one. I love talking with these wonderful women who have known me since 2013 and have seen me at my heaviest and they were there when I started my weight loss journey and when Paul died, they were there to pick to me up. They have shown me unconditional love and compassion and support and I’m eternally grateful to these wonderful ladies. So, it should not come at any surprise that they are all just so absolutely supportive and positive towards me and the progress that I’ve made with my health, weight and body transformation.
Today, I was met with all smiling faces and kind words. I have been just a bundle of emotions since the beginning of the year (well, really since November 12, 2014–if I’m totally honest) and it has peaked since having surgery. I’ve touched on it a bit in a previous blog but this plastic surgery has really messed with my head. I was fully prepared for pain and recovery; I wasn’t prepared for exhaustion and mental torture. Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but, at times, that’s exactly what it feels like. I was all ready to knock this plastic surgery out and get to where I want to be but I’ve had a reality check.
I’m struggling with my identity and who I see in the mirror. I will never forget: standing in the shower. Naked. Lisa standing by to help me get my bandages/dressings off. I felt the water run down my body. I look to my left and, in the mirror, there she is; that girl. Frankenstein girl. Incisions. Perky boobs. Thin arms. I can see a her rib cage. And the room spins. I’m dizzy. Disoriented. My hearing is muffled. I’m slightly nauseated. And, for a second, I thought I’d pass out. Lisa helped me to the bed. I can’t remember the steps between the shower and my bed. And I laid on my back, on my bed, eyes shut. And I hear her calm voice, “it’s okay. I’m here”.
I’ve worked so hard and made a lot of sacrifices to get where I am today. I feel like my whole life has built to this point. I loved Paul; I love Paul. I will say it over and over because it is always true and pertinent. Although, as most know, it was never my ‘dream’ to get married or to have a family. Don’t get me wrong, I just want to be clear; I’ve said it many times: he was the dream I never knew I wanted; he was a love I never knew existed and, not for one second, have I ever regretted any moment we had together. That aside, you know what my dreams were? I wanted to be a successful career woman, self-sufficient and THIN. That’s what I wanted. Maybe it seems a bit shallow, but having been the fat girl for as long as I can recall…I wanted that. I wanted to look like the ‘regular girls’. I wanted to feel comfortable in my skin. I wanted to travel and not think about my hips squeezed into an airplane seat. And, now…I have that. Where’s my satisfaction? Where’s my happiness? That’s what was supposed to happen, right? I’ve shed the weight. I’ve met every one of my weight loss goals. I’ve got these perky boobs and slender arms. My god man; it’s, literally, all I’ve ever dreamed it could be.
My former co-worker and I were chatting. She said some things that really shook me. She described her impression of me, of first knowing me. (I’m paraphrasing) ‘To look at you, you were this shy, timid girl and now I see this confident girl that shines’. I was taken aback because I don’t know when that happened. I guess although I have these mounds and mounds of self-doubt that there is something under there. I just gotta dig it out. So, that gives me hope. Maybe I can’t see it quite yet but others do and that gives me hope.
It really is a constant battle; between what you think you want, what you actually want and what actually is. I’m so thankful for all these wonderful people in my life. Without you, I don’t know where I would be.
I have written and erased what I want to say here like at least 5 times. What I’m feeling right now, I’m having a difficult time putting into words.
I am absolutely and utterly overwhelmed by this exquisite person that has come into my life. I’m sitting here having a full on cry session and anxiety attack over a spat with a family member. I feel so upset that it’s like my nerves are on fire. And for the first time since I lost Paul; since my the best friend of over 20 years turned her back to me and left—my first instinct wasn’t them to call. I called Lisa. And that means something to me.
Love. What a beautiful word. What a simple word. Just four simple letters that seem and for me are the center of my world. Have you ever tried to define love? Have you ever tried to describe it? I know I certainly have; each and every time I do, I fall short. There have never been the right combination of words that really gives justice to that feeling–that thought–that action–that everything.
And right now in my life with her I’m experiencing another level of it. This week I feel like we reached like a level up status. I didn’t have to tell her to do anything for me. Not anything. She just knew. I’m sure some of it has to do with her natural nurturing aptitude, but it’s more. For over a year, my world has been flipped and spun round and round. But I’ve had several moments with her where there’s just calm. I think about her helping me shower for the first time post op. She was calm and gentle; although, I know she was petrified. ‘I’m right here. It’s going to be ok’ were the words I heard as the room was spinning and I was having a full on panic attack. She rubbed my head and took her time–and bit by bit, minute by minute she continued until all my dressings were off and I was able to shower and then look at my self in the mirror.
Over these days, she’s help lift me into bed. She’s brought me ice packs. She cooked, cleaned, kept me hydrated. She’s lit my candles because she knows they I love them. She’s kept my house in the order that I like. She has made me eat when I don’t want to. Slept on the couch, just to be close to me. Sat and talked to me. Sat in silence.
She’s eternally and nonobligatory supportive. She lifts me up. She tells me it’s ok to cry. She talks to me about Paul. We talk about our life together. She gives me a security that I never thought I’d have again. And security has always been my number one expression of love. She makes me happy even when I’m sad. I’m just so very thankful for her. I’m so thankful for the lack of drama in our relationship. I’m thankful that it’s easy but not the easy that means boring. It’s always interesting.
A Widow's Journey: ~Weight loss~ ~Change~Skin Removal~Life~