Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Hot Mess Express

Whew!  It is almost July.  I cannot believe how quickly the summer has passed and also how little I have to show for it :(  I promised myself when school ended that I would be focused on fitness and in fact, the complete opposite has happened.  Instead I took a ride on the Hot Mess Express.

So that has been me.  All summer.  All decked out in workout gear, and NOT working out!  Brian usually asks me if I am actually going to work out or just pretending :P  Such a turd.  But he is pretty on point.  I have been pretending for a month and a half.

You see, I have been set up for success from every angle.  My husband is the most supportive, loving, encouraging husband around.  If there is ever anything I want or need in the realm of beauty or health and fitness, he is on board, no questions asked.  He knows that I am not one for "tough love" just gentle encouragement (with a lot of shit talking mixed in for good measure :P), and he cheers me on relentlessly.  My kids have been in summer camp nearly every week this summer, meaning my days have provided ample time to spend working on myself.  And to top this off, my company pays for my "health and fitness stipend" each month, aka gym membership.  So quite frankly, my ticket on the Hot Mess Express was one way and it was very expensive!

There have been some changes in our household that have been extremely stressful for both me personally, and for our marriage.  I won't go into detail but I did question whether or not I was/am clinically depressed.  After some soul searching, I decided that no, I am not.  I still enjoy spending time with friends and family and I still like to get dressed up and look pretty, but the big issue that I am having is trouble sleeping and anxiety.  I worry incessantly to the point where I cannot sleep.  It happened last night even.  I probably slept a total of 3 broken hours.  But this is where I decide my ride on the Hot Mess Express has ended.  This morning.  Literally.  I made a very distinct choice.

The past month and a half, I have not been sleeping well at all.  And every day that was my excuse for why I would not go to exercise.  I was tired.  Not in the mood. Hadn't slept.  And I would drop the kids off at camp, usually go get groceries for that evening, and then flop my butt on the couch all day in an attempt to nap.  What. A. WASTE!  Ugh, so frustrating to even admit that.  Additionally I have been having some issues with my hip and knee for about a year now and there is no definitive answer on why I am having this pain. So that made another great excuse as to why it was ok to sit around and not work out.

The quote about is pretty much how I feel about the whole situation.  I am so blessed in many ways. I have been given opportunities that people just dream about.  And here I was, just wasting my life.  Not ok. Not ok at all.

For some reason yesterday I decided that I would give my favorite, hardest, most effective workout a try.  I promised myself that even if I did half of it, or at a snails pace, I would go and just do what I could.  Hey, it was better than nothing, right?  So I did.  The instructors remembered me from when I was attending regularly last year and they were SO encouraging.  I cannot tell you what a difference that made.  It was an even more difficult format than normal (which, I honestly would not have gone had I known ahead of time), and they just told me "Do what you can.  Listen to your body.  And go at your own pace".  So I did.  And guess what.... I didn't do as bad as I expected!  In fact, I did so well that I promised myself I would go again today after I dropped the kids off.

Well, insert last night's non-sleep fiasco.  I woke up grumpy as all get out.  I am not a person who does well without sleep.  I told Brian "Well, there goes my workout plans".  And somewhere between packing lunches and brushing my teeth I made the decision that my workout plans were not over.  I was going.  And that was that.  So I did.  And guess what?  Same instructors there cheering me on :)  And again, I did much better than I anticipated.  Yes I have to adjust some movements to accommodate my new limitations but I was sweating, and I am sore.  And when I got home, I decided to take Luke on a walk.  Gotta get that cardio in!  I can't run, but hey any movement is better than me sitting on the couch eating snack, right?!

So I guess the moral of this story is that we ultimately decide our path.  Mine clearly is a rollercoaster.  It involves a lot of learning and a lot of mistakes.  It involves me really understanding what "self-care" means.  For me personally, it means a commitment to fitness and health because even in the past 2 days I have had a completely different outlook on life and even on myself.  It is true what they say: it is very hard to care for others if you are not caring for yourself.  I want to be the best me, the best wife, and the best mom.  And like anything in life, it is a process.  Not always fun, but definitely worth it.

I know my blog posts are few and far between these days but there are moments where I feel compelled to share where I am physically and emotionally.  Weight loss surgery is so much more than a physical thing.  It is a life long journey.  I have said it once and I will say it again.  I am not that girl anymore.  But every now and again the insecurities pop up and I am forced to take a hard look at why that is.  More often than not, I am in control of them.... I just need to take control of my life to make them go away :)

Saturday, March 5, 2016

It happens every year

It happens every year about this time....

I've worked extremely hard to get in shape over the late spring and summer.... then fall comes and it is back into a routine with working and kids and I feel so overwhelmed that I just flat out STOP exercising.  So all of my hard work goes to crap and I fatten up over the winter.  Spring returns and I feel like a stuffed turkey.  Yup... that's where I am now.

Last year I was motivated because of our wedding.  I knew I had a dress to fit into, and I wanted to look like a gorgeous THIN bride.  And I did.  Not to toot my own horn, but I worked out twice a day and was extremely conscious of what I put into my mouth.  And low and behold... it worked!  Down to my skinny clothes that I had stashed away.  And what a great feeling that was!

Well, the skinny clothes are slowly but surely being put back into my storage area because I have not been dedicated to eating OR exercise in about 6 months.  Yikes.  If I had to look at past pictures I would say I am about here..... (a little bit into the way of my big loss last year)
So the "funny" part of this is that I look at this picture and think I look good.... happy, vibrant, curvy in a good way.  But I know that it is not my "best" me, and I want more.  The problem is that apparently I am not committed to being the "best" me for 6 months out of the year!

Why is it that for me living a healthy and active lifestyle has to be extreme?  This is something that I do not know the answer to. I am supposed to be maintaining and enjoying life and instead I "enjoy" life way too much and then punish myself by binge exercising and dieting (for the record to me "diet" means really control and watch what I eat nutritionally.... I am never starving myself).  Part of me wonders if that is what got me to 245lbs in the first place... the notion of all or nothing.

I keep telling Brian that I am starting "today".  Well, it's been like 2 months of "today" and I suppose I am writing my blog post in the mindset that if I share my "today" with the world that it really will happen.  Today I am committing to taking back my life and having the body that I want.

Here is my inspiration:
Yup... that's right.  My inspiration is ME!  Because I know deep down that I CAN do this and I will.  It just takes self control and discipline and although I am on the weaker end of the spectrum on both of those (particularly when it comes to food and or shopping.....) I have done it, and I WILL do it!

So if anyone wants to walk or hike or workout... the answer is YES! I would love to :)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Big Bertha is PISSED! Tales of my Inner Fat Girl

Whew!  You know I am stressing when I am driving home and all I can think about is blogging about what I am feeling right now.  Cheaper than therapy and somewhat as effective??  At least I hope so.  And before you get lost in my sea of thoughts, don't fret... there are lots of pictures halfway through.

As I wrote before, I am on a fitness and weight loss quest to get back to my goal weight.  Well guess what folks... I made it.  And guess what else... it's not good enough?  Wait... WHAT!?  Yeah you read that right.  It's not good enough.  I want to be thinner, to be more fit, and to push myself harder.  I foresee this being an endless cycle in my life, and I am not sure how I feel about it.

You see, when I got down to my thinnest I believe I was 133lbs and nearly a size 2....I say nearly because I have hips and unfortunately bones just wont get any smaller!  But I could squeeze.  Anyway, that isn't the point....the point is that at that time I was happy with myself and weightloss was not even on my mind.  I was more interested in living my life in a healthy way and enjoying it. Then the dreaded regain happened and threw everything on its ear.

I have been visiting a weight loss clinic and monitoring my weight for the past 2 months.  I had been losing pretty slowly but steadily and 2 weeks ago had a 3.8lb loss.  WOW that was so amazing to see on the scale.  And after month one, I had built skeletal muscle mass, lost fat and inches and was feeling great.  Very very motivating!  Well yesterday I had my month two weigh in.  Yeah....not so motivating.  I gained 2lbs of my 3.8 back, and lost .4 in skeletal muscle mass.  Ironically the muscle mass issue (my inner athlete?) is more upsetting to me than the 2lbs because I feel like I have been trying really hard to exercise and include weights.  Needless to say, that hung a rain cloud over my day yesterday.  Here is a pic of my progress from February until mid June:
June 2015 v. February 2015
Now, when you put your life out there for the public like I do, you also have the benefit of making friends with random people over the internet.  And every now and again certain people stand out and make an impression.  One woman is a fitness fanatic and after I had posted a picture of my progress and mentioned my slow at first weight loss, she reminded me that it isn't a race, it has to be a lifestyle.  So that has been replaying in my brain for the past 24 hours or so.  And when I look at the picture above, I can't help but be proud of my hard work....but what I see in that photo is not necessarily what I see in the mirror.

Today I was determined to still work out, and eat better (more protein.... can't have more muscle loss!).  I went to my morning class (used to be Dailey Method, but the owner bought out.... basically be a barre class) and once I was home, I randomly decided that I should try on my "skinny clothes"...the ones I still couldn't fit in.  Here is me in May trying to fit.... close, but not close enough.
May 2015
 Well my friends, THEY FIT!  They were snug, and certainly didn't glide right on like they used to, but I could button them and I didn't have fat hanging over the sides. So that was a win.  Then I was curious as to what else might fit and sure enough, a pair of white jeans that I had worn in July 2012 fit just fine!  Here I was back then, rocking the heck out of them.
Gilroy Garlic Fest 2012
You'd think that fitting into clothes I hadn't worn in years would turn my frown upside down, but nope.... it sure didn't.  Yes, I was happy, but for whatever reason I was still glum today.  I had a pretty mellow day, and I made sure to go to zumba tonight.  If anything could cheer me up, that would be it.  It is fun and productive.  But nope, and here is why.  My inner fat girl, who I have affectionately named Big Bertha, decided to have a tantrum. And not just a little tantrum, one that messed up part of my workout!

For whatever reason, I decided to wear these shorts with built in capris.  I don't like wearing skirts or shorts at zumba because I know myself, and I don't like seeing my cellulite and loose skin jiggle.  Yes, that is my insecurity blaring loud and clear.  Well, I did not like what I saw in the mirror tonight either.  I even made Brian take a photo of me in them once I got home because literally all I could think for the first 20 minutes of dance class was how fat I looked in them.  Pretty sad really.  I was even messing up steps because of it!
Did the 80's throw up on me?
Thankfully I was able to get my crap together and accomplish a great workout... I was DRIPPING in sweat!  Take THAT Big Bertha!
Remember my mention of random people that I have become friends with who mean a lot to me?  Well there is a woman who has been my "internet friend" for over 10 years.  Yes, you read that right, over a decade!  She has seen the weight and husbands come and go and she and I have always connected on our sense of humor.  Well, recently she decided to change her life and have weight loss surgery as well.  She just so happened to text me on my way home from zumba and I was telling her that I had a tough day despite my goals being reached.  Our conversation was so meaningful to me that I want to share it.

 There is no greater gift than kindness folks.  Her kind words mean so very much to me and also motivate me to keep going.  And also to keep sharing my experiences as they happen.  My ex used to tell me that I was so self absorbed for writing a blog and maybe to an extent he was right, but the other part of my writing is that people can connect with my experiences.  The greatest gift is knowing that she found the courage to change her life because of me.  That is what makes my feathers poke out all proud and makes me wanna smack the crap out of my inner fat girl.

So, with that said, I am resolving to be proud of myself, to be kind to myself and others, and to keep my goals in sight.  I can do this.  I will do this.  And I am so very lucky to have the support of my friends and family.  Everyone has been absolutely amazing these past few months.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Getting back to basics.... and it's working!

Well, it has been 4.5 years since my sleeve and life certainly does go on.  I have had weight gain, weight loss, plastic surgery, emotional ups and downs.....and I have come to the conclusion that if I want to weight what I want to weigh....I have to get back to basics...and stay there.

Brian and I are getting married on August 8, and that was definitely motivation to take my situation of "I feel ok" and make me want to say "I am at my best!".  So.... I knew a visit to my surgeon was in order.  He was very direct with me and was somewhat upset that I was 15 lbs up from my lowest weight (I didn't have the heart to tell him that I had been about 15lbs higher than THAT...eeks!) and told me that no, it wasn't a catastrophic amount, but the only way I was going to successfully lose the weight and keep it off, would be to go back to the way I was eating right after surgery.  I guess that lifestyle is tried and true and although it is painful at works.  High protein, greens, extremely low carbs, and tons of water.  My sweet tooth needs to go away and stay away....that is probably my biggest weakness!

Another change in my life is that last year I started substitute teaching, and by the end of the year this year, I am pretty much a permanent fixture in the kids' school.  It is fantastic because a) I love it and b) I get to see my kids throughout the day! See....lunch with the kids on a random day :)
 In fact things went so well that I ended up taking a long term position in a fourth grade classroom for 2.5 months.  Crazy!  It was definitely a wake up call into how lucky I am to not have to work full time right now.  And the biggest thing that suffered (aside from my laundry basket) was my fitness level.

You see, the one thing that I have pretty much always stayed true to after surgery has been a commitment to fitness.  I go on binges, where I will work out 5-6 days a week, and then at other times maybe 2-3, but either way, I am still always trying to be active.  And for someone like me, who looooooves snacks, it is ESSENTIAL.  I gained 8lbs in the 2.5 months that I was working full time and I felt like crap at the end of it..... and that is how I ended up back in Dr. Cirangle's office as mentioned above.

I have been really lucky to find a few activities that don't seem as painful as simply going to the gym.  I still walk the Stanford Dish (4 miles with lots of incline) with friends, and I also take barre classes a couple times a week which are miserable, but man do they work!  And then last but certainly not least... zumba.  My one true fitness love.  And mainly because of the lady below: Asya.  

She was a competitive gymnast in  Bulgaria and I met her when she was teaching zumba at a studio 2.5 years ago.  She has since moved on and I have since followed her.  And now she is more of a friend than simply a zumba instructor.  I adore her class and the fact that I leave dripping in sweat.  But it is more of a party than a workout which is just what I need.  As far as HER fitness level, Asya is at a 10.... not an ounce of fat it seems, and as she gets hot while dancing she takes off her tank top and dances in her sports bra.  There have been plenty of sweaty days where I wanted to join her but have been too self conscious to do so.  But yesterday I said screw it.... my shirt was bugging me and I was hot.... so I finally braved dancing "topless".  It was....different.  I was still slightly self conscious of rolls etc while dancing, whereas normally that is not an issue.  But I am proud of myself for doing it!  AND while wearing crazy pants?!  Who am I??!!!

So, aside from all of my crazy dieting and fitness I have been busy with a trip to Las Vegas, which was awesome (and not conducive to weightloss!!!)  But I felt great!

And my little bro graduated from high school.  Life is going to be very odd with him gone all year.  Our last activity together was walking the Stanford Dish though so hi five for family fitness!  AND I did love my outfit for his graduation ; )  Dressed for winter in summer in the Bay Area.  Typical!

 And last but not least, I was driving myself insane trying to find a wedding dress.  I found one right after Brian and I got engaged as a bridal store was closing, but something deep down kept telling me it was pretty....but not what I was meant to wear.

Nice, but not "the one"!

So I have been to countless bridal salons, online looking at used name it I have done it.  The one below was not "the one" either, but it was pretty!
Can't spoil the surprise by posting it online...but there will definitely be an update with wedding pictures!

So as for my quest to reach my thinnest point, the wheels are turning and my body is appreciating my efforts.  I lost 6lbs last month, and I lost 1.5in around my love handles and .75in around my natural waist.  Extremities all stayed the same, which isn't's only been a month.  But I FEEL a ton better, and people have started making comments about my looking thin or thinner, and that of course is always a welcome thing!  I am about 1.5 inches from buttoning my skinniest skinny jeans....but I did get them over my hips!!!
Life is good my friends, life is good.  I am so blessed in many ways and I am really enjoying the life that Brian and I have together.  The kids are growing so quickly and become more fun as the years go by.  They are both healthy, happy, and crazy smart.  My only wish is for them to stop arguing! :)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Phase 3 - Nip Tuck

Hello my friends!  Scary to think that I haven't updated this in nearly a year!  But I recently received a message from my dietician that people are actually READING this blog still, which is amazing to me.  I am glad that they find it helpful as they begin their bariatric surgery journeys!

I myself am enduring phase 3 of this process.  Phase 1, surgery & honeymoon period.  Phase 2, maintenance.  Phase 3, mommy makeover/nip tuck.  That's right... I said nip tuck.  As in, free me from the chains of my chunk... saggy skin!

I successfully kept off 85% of my weightloss the past 3.5 years.  Was it ideal? No.  I would have loved to have stayed teeny tiny and in perfect shape, but frankly, life happened and working out became less of a priority.  Then more of a priority.  Then less.  It has ebbed and flowed.  Same with my eating.  At some points I am really vigilant. Others, not so much.  It kind of all came out in the wash.  I feel like I was at my least fit/heaviest a couple months ago... you can see it most in my face I think.  Here I am with my love this past Father's Day:

But the one thing that you really cannot escape after bariatric surgery is saggy skin.  I personally, have been extremely blessed.  My skin on my arms is only slightly saggy, and actually I have pretty good muscle tone. I haven't been working out prior to this pic, but check out my guns!  And oddly enough this picture was taken AFTER the Father's Day pic above, so I must have lost a little? I really don't know!  I guess there's kind of a muscle up there??

I also have lax skin on my thighs, and of course on my tummy.  My thighs... yeah it bothers me, but frankly the thought of a thigh lift is totally unappealing and it's not THAT bad (you will see below), but my stomach has bothered me pretty much forever... fat and thin.  My belly button is a super innie, and after losing weight it frowned.  And then there's the stretch marks (thanks son!  He had excess amniotic fluid so I was ENORMOUS!), and the saggy skin... it was just really bad.  So I knew prior to my sleeve surgery, a tummy tuck was in order.  And after surgery it wasn't just a tummy tuck I wanted. I wanted boobs again too.... mine had turned into sad saggy nothings. 

So that guy in the picture up there... he's pretty amazing.  He supports me and loves me regardless of my weight, but he also was determined to make it possible for me to have my "mommy makeover" as the plastic surgeons call it.  I kept bringing it up and he finally said, "Go get a consultation already!".  So I did.  And after meeting with two different surgeons, I chose one who I felt confident had not only aesthetics at heart, but also my health and safety.  Because... you certainly can't show off a tummy tuck in a coffin.

The surgeon I chose is Dr. Samuel Pearl, based in Mountain View, CA.  He is amazing.  His staff... also amazing.  I have his head RN's cell number.  She babysat me after surgery on a day Brian had to work about an hour away.  They are THAT caring and THAT above and beyond.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

So in case you are wondering a mommy makeover is a tummy tuck and boob job in tandem.  Perfect!  Exactly what I wanted.  Except the extent of a tummy tuck that I needed, along with lipo suction of my flanks and hips, and muscle repair of my abs... that's major.  And my boobs.. when I say they are sad and saggy... yeah.  So saggy that I can't just get a normal breast implant. I need a lift, and then a fill.  All of that combined, Dr. Pearl determined unsafe and therefore I had to decide what was more important... shrinking my lower half and cutting off all the nasty skin.  Or getting perky boobs.  I can always wear a padded bra for now, so I went the tummy tuck route.

Here are my before pictures at 157ish lbs (I fluctuate a lot throughout the month):

As you can see.... not so cute without the clothes on.  And you can see in my upper, inner thighs that skin is fairly lax.  The only thing that would fix that is a thigh lift, so I'm just gonna pretend it's not there :)  But basically if you look at me straight on, you can see that I am very tiny throughout the upper body.  Dr. Pearl informed me that my upper abs were actually in great shape and that the only looseness I had up there was truly skin.  Not fat.  That was very nice to hear!  He also said he could tell I work out, which again, nice to hear!  He could tell that I have always carried my weight in my hips and oddly enough he said he could tell that based on the size of my calves which have always been really big.  Not fat, just big and muscular.  Kind of an interesting fact!

So, within 3 months of my consult, I had a tummy tuck.  And I will be the first to raise my hand and tell you that I had NO idea what the hell I was getting into!!!! And neither did Brian.   

Surgery went extremely well.  It took much longer than expected... around 7 hours.  But I made sure to get the extra injection of pain meds and was sent home to recover.  Umm.... I won't go into too much detail but the gist of it was:  I was dying.  And Brian had to help me with EVERYTHING.  I mean EVERYTHING.  Talk about a humbling, and humiliating experience.  Not to mention the pain and suffering!!!!  I was black and blue from my ribs to my knees. And for some reason I swelled up like a balloon on my lower half.  I seriously have never been that swollen... even nine months pregnant and fat to begin with.  NOT CUTE.  And so incredibly painful!  I ended up getting hour long foot massages to try to get the fluid moving.
Apparently this kind of swelling is not normal so I was given water pills to deflate.  I went back to drinking tons of water and G2 Gatorade and I peed out over 20lbs in 5 days! HOLY SMOKES!!!!

The one thing I will say that I found so weird was that with this surgery a) the recovery is insane and long and miserable (I am almost 6 weeks out now and still not 100%), and b) it was very emotional.  I felt like I had not only unknowingly put myself through all of this pain and suffering, but everyone around me too.  I didn't see my kids for almost 2 weeks (praise Jesus for my parents and kind friends for taking them because there was NO way I could have watched them), Brian was having to go to work and come home throughout the day in ADDITION to doing everything for me.  And for what?!!! For me to have a flat stomach that people might see 4-5 times a year???  I felt stupid, and vain, and like all that money was just a selfish waste.  I cried pretty much every day for those first two weeks.  

And then the cloud lifted and I realized that this was part of closing my chapter of the "fat" me.  It wasn't just vanity.  It was an inner struggle that I have been dealing with.  I was essentially healing "Scars" of being overweight for so many years, and embracing the fact that I am not any more.  I am a new me, inside and out.  And dammit, I deserve to feel good about myself naked.  I cannot tell you enough how important Brian was in this internal discovery process.  He never once berated me for being "stupid" for having this surgery and complaining afterwards.  He just consistently reassured me that I would be happy with the results, and that I could get through it.  He also consistently praised me for being a strong woman and told me how proud he was of me for making it through.  And the one thing that I am so thankful for aside from the physical results, was that this surgery took our relationship to a whole new level.  I trust him literally with my life.

So... I bet you want to see my results, right????  Well... here ya go!  This picture was taken about 3 weeks after surgery, so my stomach is still quite swollen as are my hips and thighs. My scar looks crooked because of the swelling on one side, but I assure you, it is very symmetrical now.  And check out my belly button!!!!  It's a circle!!!

Here are more recent ones.... I splurged on this $8 bikini to cheer myself up.  This is about 4.5 weeks out.
 You can see from the side that my tummy is stilll swollen.  I call it my "baby".
But from the front... lookin good!!!! My saddle bags, I can see a much bigger difference (despite that dreaded inner thigh skin) and my stomach.. omg.  From the front it looks AMAZING.  And Dr. Pearl did an awesome job placing my scar below my bikini line :)  The top is a little big, but part 2 of phase 3 is coming this winter... boobs!

I hope this update was informative for whoever reads this.  I still to this day maintain that my sleeve was the best thing that ever happened to me.  I would recommend it to anyone.  In a heartbeat.  I would recommend Dr. Cirangle and his team to anyone.  And now, I can add Dr. Pearl to the dream-maker surgeon list.  I have been so blessed to have these people enter my life and change it for the better.  Things just keep looking up.  And a gratuitous picture of the little people that keep me in check:

They keep it real, because first and foremost, I answer to "Mom".  In Benji's words when he saw me after my tummy tuck (2 weeks later mind you!!) "Mom, it looks like you have a baby in there!".  Thanks kid ; )  Way to keep me humble :P

Friday, October 4, 2013

Oh How I Love Fall

 The title here just about sums it up.  I am one of the many fall lovers in the world.  Perhaps it is because I grew up in San Francisco and our fall is most of America's summer.... I am not sure.  But when September approaches I get giddy at the thought of all things fall.... boots, sweaters, pumpkin everything, changing leaves, earth colors, the chill in the air, and this year... the harvest up in Napa!  YEE HAW!

B's best friend Mike came to stay with us for 3 weeks and help B with work because he has just been inundated with new jobs (which is fantastic, but sucky at the same time!).  I would like to award Mike the "Best House Guest of the Century".  He just didn't even leave a footprint!  If I was staying with friends for 3 weeks, I'd be moved in! Haha!

Anyhow, we were all sitting on the deck talking and the subject of our weekend activity sans children came up.  B and I had never been up to the wine country, so I thought that it would be not only a great chance for us to head up there, but also for Mike to see more of the Bay Area.  And thus, our Napa trip was born!  Sadly, Mike was under the weather on the day we went, but B and I had an amazing day.

We started our journey by heading up to Rutherford to visit Frog's Leap Winery, which was recommended by a few friends of mine.  While it was indeed, gorgeous, the wines were just kind of eh.  The best part of the winery was the grounds. They of course had an enormous vineyard, but also fantastic gardens.  And we aren't just talking flowers.  They had fruit trees, vegetables, and even pumpkins!  When we were tasting our wine, the sommelier suggested that we walk the grounds and if we had the urge, to pick a snack.  Apparently she had no idea what she was suggesting to a girl like me.  Telling me there are free snacks is like telling a normal person there's free money in the garden.   I was so excited that I had brought a large purse!

First I was thrilled to find red bell peppers growing.  Then I grabbed a couple pomegranates (which, I might add, my 5 year old LOVES pomegranates now so really I was doing a service to my family by picking those : P ).  Then I saw an apple tree.  And B saw some squash he wanted.  By the time we left my bag was overflowing with fruits and veggies.  Thank you Frog's Leap!  Your gardens were much appreciated!
Our next stop was undecided, and my most favorite restaurant was located about a mile from Frog's Leap, but a mile in the wine country is filled with way more than one winery.  So we decided to stop at Caymus Winery, about 1/4 mile down the road.
Caymus was a little pricey, so we shared our flight (which quite frankly was smart because they poured some large tastes!).  We just sat in their gorgeous garden and talked about life, love, our family... it was wonderful.  And it was also wonderful to just enjoy each other.  Times like those make me fall in love with B all over again.  He truly is my best friend.

After that we headed a little farther away to Benessere Winery in St. Helena.  I had read on Yelp that it shouldn't be missed.  I would say if you want a tiny, casual, family run winery, it definitely is a great stop.  It doesn't necessarily have the "wow" factor like the other wineries, but it was quaint and our wine guy was super friendly.  AND there was a woman working who, when I asked her to take a photo of us, she decided to take us outside for a complete photo shoot!!  Which, I am obsessed with photos so I was in heaven.  Wine, sunshine, photos, my love... put them together and what do you get??? Heaven!  See below :)

With the kids' custody schedule the way it is, my calendar is measured in two increments: with kids, and without.  When I don't have the kids, B and I try to take advantage and continue to do things like we are "dating".  And when I do have the kids, it is all about the kids!  I try to go to kiddie amusement parks, create play dates, visit family, etc.  My kids hit the jackpot when my cousin emailed, inviting us up to Portland to visit her and her daughter for the weekend.

The kids hadn't flown since the end of 2011.  We went to Chicago and they vaguely remember flying.  When I told them we were taking an airplane to Portland I was asked about 100 times "Are we going today?!!!".  When the day came, they were more than ready to experience air travel!  B had to work, and my cousin's husband was out of town so it was a mommy-kid weekend. Kind of like Sister Wives, no??  If sister wife life is like that, I will totally be one.  We had so much fun!

We left the sunny San Jose sunshine for overcast skies in Portland.   But nothing could dampen the kids' enthusiasm for flying to see our cousins.  I must say, despite a delay, they were pretty well behaved at the airport and were excellent once we got on the plane.  Everything was fascinating to them, including the safety instructions and barf bag on the seat in front of us!  They did not argue over who got to sit next to the window (shocker for Mom), and they were thrilled when they got to pick their drinks and snack.  Now it is a short flight to Portland, and thank GOD for that, but I would give my kids an A for behavior while traveling this trip!

The one caveat on this travel alone with kids thing is that any time anyone had to do anything, i.e. go potty, buy a soda, etc.... everyone and everything had to go with us. And that SUCKED.  I couldn't leave 2 kids in a seat and say "Be right back", so we dragged our carry ons up and down the airport a few times, until I had had enough and just left them in the boarding area.  If someone wanted to steal toy dinosaurs and coloring books, so be it. I was sick of packing up!  Thankfully, my cousin's husband was kind enough to park and wait for us inside of the airport and help us carry our junk from the gates, to the baggage claim, to the car.  Sooooo nice of him, and much appreciated.

The highlight of the trip for me was that my cousin had purchased tickets to see Kelly Clarkson and Maroon 5.  Yeeeehaw!  One of my favorite concerts was seeing Kelly Clarkson last year.  She is absolutely incredible.  When I saw her, it was in a tiny venue in San Jose, and we had awesome seats, and I could literally see her from about 10 feet away.  Yeah.... this concert was slightly different.  We were in an outdoor amphitheater.  In the back.  In the rain.  In the cold.  Without seats.  This princess was like "oh hell no!".  But this princess also loves Kelly so I sucked it up.  By the time we got to Maroon 5, it was absolutely POURING.  As in, sheets of rain.  The grass had turned to mud, and I was tired of being rained on.  Maroon 5 was great, but my enthusiasm was indeed "dampened" by the rain. (Chuckle Chuckle).  This photo does not include my plastic bag poncho that I was so incredibly grateful to have because by the time we left, I was wet... even with the poncho.  I would have died without it!

Another highlight of my trip was getting to see my cousin's new house!  In the Bay Area it is rare to hear of my friends making home purchases.  Particularly an actual HOUSE.  With over 2000 square feet.  In a cute neighborhood.  With a yard.  I could not be happier for her.  Her home is adorable, and decorated beautifully.  Congrats Cara & Jared!  Below are my munchkins and Cara's daughter Kate modeling in front of the door.  Classic "Welcome to my new home" picture! (Notice all three are wearing rain gear!  Welcome to the Pacific Northwest)

On Saturday, Cara had to work, so the kids were mine to entertain.  We had originally planned to go to the zoo, but the pouring rain had other ideas.  So instead, we went to the Portland Children's Museum.  The kids had a blast, but their favorite exhibit was the veterinarian office.  Benji was checking out all of the animals, while the girls were very interested in the kennel and putting bandages on the cats and dogs.  Crazy kiddos!  They also got to paint their own faces so all of my photos of them at the museum have them with kitty cat and a "SpiderMan" face (aka bright red all over).

Aidan was begging to play in the rain all day. From the time they were dressed until the time we got home from the museum, she was just DYING to use an umbrella and those rain boots and go to town.  So once Benji went down for a nap and I got Cara's okay for Kate to be out there, the girls went to town in the backyard.  Water logged chalk drawings, trampoline, puddles...they had so much fun!
Our trip was only Friday through Sunday, but by the time Sunday rolled around, the kids were exhausted!  How can you not love these sleepy little faces??
When we got home, it was back to the old grind and.... OCTOBER!  I am slightly obsessed with deorating my mantle in our playroom.  I had decorated for a general "Fall" theme, but was waiting until October to put out all of my Halloween decor. When I told B I was changing it for Halloween specifically he looked at me and said "You certainly have a lot of time on your hands!".  Ummm no.  I just love to decorate!!!  Here are a few pics of the playroom decor.  I feel like it is the least "finished" of all of the rooms in the house, simply because of layout and the fact that it is full of kid crap.  BUT, I tried :)  I included all angles because I don't think I have posted updated pics of the house in awhile.

And then there's my beautiful, wooden front door.  For some reason I have a love affair with the color of the stain on our front door.  It looks so warm and cozy. We added the topiary planter thingies a few months back, and I got lucky to find some garland in my Halloween bins.  I plan to add some pumpkins once we take the kids to the Patch.

And then throughout the house there are little Halloween touches here and there. Like my spiders in the dining room, a ghost flag thingie in the kids' room, and I have our ficus tree decorated with garland and orange lights.  I think the kids are going to absolutely love it when they get home from their dad's house.

So, as usual, I have been very busy!  My weight has remained exactly where it was before, which, is a good thing or a bad thing depending on your viewpoint!  For now, I am just happy that I am stable, and that life is good!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I'm Alive! I swear!

I received an email today from a woman who had contacted me upon reading my blog.... quite a long time ago!  She was checking in because I hadn't blogged in quite some time.  Yeah... 6 months have flown by!

If I think of the past 6 months I feel like I have been on auto-pilot.  Not a lot of major things have happened.  Life is really, really good.  I am very fortunate to say that.  My kids are healthy, my fiance and I are doing great, my family is all well and healthy.... still loving where we moved and the amazing weather. We haven't been on any huge trips like last year, but it seems like we get a chance to hop around the west coast quite a bit, and have been to Reno, Tahoe, Washington State, the Central Coast.... etc etc etc.  I was very blessed to get to spend lots of time with the kids this summer, and they are learning to swim, which is great.   And I guess the most exciting news is that I have decided to go back to school to get my AA in Paralegal Studies.... something that I find interesting in light of my former custody battle.

But what this blog is really supposed to be about is my life with weight loss surgery.  And unfortunately, it is still a struggle.  I currently weigh anywhere from 153-155lbs depending on the day.  So that is down 90 from my pre-surgery weight, and up 20 from my lowest point.  HOWEVER, due to the fact that I have not been working out, and especially not working out with weight training, I have gone from a size 4 to a size 8-10.  That my friends, is not something to be proud of.

However, with that said, I am happy to say that 155 seems to be my "comfortable" weight.  I eat pretty much what I want, when I want.  I try to make good choices, but still slip up, and I have not been working out regularly.  I just haven't been in the mood.  I am hoping that getting back into a fall school schedule will boost my ambition level.  Afterall, summer was so hectic and I had the kids way more than I do during school so there was always that "Excuse".  But look how cute my excuses are! (we went to an awesome kids amusement park and zoo called Happy Hollow in San Jose, CA.... it's amazing!)

The one thing that I have learned about this process of maintenance is that it NEVER ENDS!  A fact that depresses me quite frankly.  And I feel like weightloss and nutrition are major hot topics everywhere I turn.  My facebook and instagram feeds are bombarded with Beachbody and Shakeology and motivational quotes.  Everyone is going Gluten Free or Paleo, or whatever other fad is in right now.  It drives me NUTS.  But, on the other hand, maybe daily reminders that I need to take responsibility for my own health are what I need.... which is why I haven't blocked any.

I am the queen of excuses.  And I am the first to admit it.  But I am at the point right now to where I don't see any need to give one.  While I am not thrilled with my size, I am a helluva lot smaller than I started.  I have decided that I do not want to spend the rest of my life beating myself up because I am not maintaining a size 4 in clothing.  I would rather enjoy the small things in life, make educated and thought out choices, but also LIVE MY LIFE.

I am still so much happier now that I was before surgery.  And I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to get it.  I still remember the rules: protein first, lots of water, small portions (that's a must for surgery obviously), very low carbs.  And if you want to shrink, you need to exercise. Yup, got that all in check!  But here is where a year of on and off excercise and eating what you want will get you:
That is my reality check.  Which side would I rather look like? The left of course.  Which side is my body "comfortable" at? The right.  And where do I NEVER EVER want to be again....see below.
THAT is the real reality check I suppose.... Me, in Hawaii at I believe 225lbs... something around there.  And the kicker was that I had no idea I looked so large!  I knew I was a big girl, but everyone kept telling me I wasn't THAT big.  Ummmmm yeah. See above.

So I guess the point to all of this is that I am still here, still alive, still struggling, still succeeding, and just living my life the best way that I know how.  One thing is for certain.... I have found the person to see me through the peaks and valleys and who I can say without a doubt is truly the best thing that ever happened to me.
He has shown me love, friendship, and support at my heaviest, my thinnest, and now.  I am a very lucky girl.