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Monday, June 25, 2007

2007 OH Conference in Austin

This past weekend I had Hubby was nice enough to pull some extra "Daddy Duty" so that I could go attend the Obesity Help Conference in Austin. I love Austin, so I figured, if the conference was boring, at least I'd be in Austin -- a Win-win situation for me.

Luckily as it turned out, for the most part, the conference was pretty good (I do have some feedback for OH though). Lots of room for improvement, and rumor say that most conferences are 2 days, whereas Austin was just one. There were three things/people who really "hit" different spots for me. One was a post-op who described his story, the other was a Dr. MaryJo Rapini, a psychotherapist, and the emcee of the event Jackie Guerra. Of course props go to the others who were there donating their time, but I got the most from these three people.

With regard to my recent inner-conflict (or whatever the heck you call it) I decided I am going to get some help. There is that, as well as some other issues I have uncovered (which are not for sharing here), but need to be addressed with a professional. Dr. Rapini's no-nonsense attitude is exactly what I want from a therapist -- I don't want/need coddling. I need someone to candidly point me in the right direction. Make Sense?

I learned a lot about post-op plastics from Dr. Lomonaco; now I see why the post-ops love him. :) Okay, and it has to be said, he's pretty easy-on the eyes too. LOL He has a great attitude and seems very sincere in his efforts to help "restore normalcy" to a post-op's body. He has some really great ideas that support the post-op effort, that if they come to fruition, would be really helpful for full recovery.

Jeremy Gentile, the exercise physiologist from OH, was also there. He did a great presentation on fitness. I have to e-mail him to get the slide presentation, but he cited a lot of studies done with various bariatric patients and the results from doing cardio only, resistance training only and a combination of both. It was great stuff; unfortunately I think it might have been over the heads of most of the audience. I got to talk to him one-on-one about my fitness effort and got some pretty good information.

I can't say enough about Jackie Guerra though! I'll be honest, when first saw her face on OH, I was like, okay she looks familiar -- but I really couldn't place her. Then when I got to the conference, I heard about who she was and what she's done. Among other things, the was in the movie Selena, as was a friend of mine, and I totally forgot to ask her if she knew her!

Putting aside the fact that she's "famous", you can tell she is simply a good person -- she is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside! The way she talked to everyone at the conference left feeling you feeling like you made a friend. The way she just have one-on-one attention to those who wanted it. The way she showed empathy for those on their journey.... she was just beautiful! Overall she was very inspiring and so open about her own story, not to mention hilarious.

Currently she's devoting her time to the weigh loss surgery effort. She recently authored a book "Under Construction" which she was selling at the conference and the proceeds from conference sales are going to a fund to help others who need WLS and can't afford it. She also has a syndicated show on XM Radio (Air America, channel 167) , and in July will be focusing on WLS.

That's it... more later.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Pictures!



Here's me... beyond fat, and miserable...
around 347 lbs. in 2000





Here's me today... Pretty damn happy!

(pictured with Jackie Guerra at the Austin OH Conference)

227 lbs.










Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Post-Op Head Games

So I have the surgery; my health is improved. Not only that, my confidence and general attitude are definitely better. Still a little shy, I think from some residual confidence issues, but overall so much better. I'm living my life now, instead of living vicariously through others. In fact, just last weekend I physically showed my daughter how to use a slip-n-slide! I have returned to school and I feel fantastic about LEADING my life.

I look in the mirror I see improvement. I don't see perfection, but that's OK because perfection is not what I'm looking for. I watch for changes that will motivate me. I take time to notice them and I enjoy wearing flattering clothes, the freedom of movement and every single "WOW" moment I experience. Those are the things that keep me going.

Here's where I seem to have a problem, and I know this is going to sound crazy... but I guess this is part of the post-op head game.

If I look in the mirror and I say, "Hey, you look good, you're feeling good and you've come such a long way." that's fine. But why is it when other people say, "Hey you look amazing!" or just *gasp* when they see me, I get very, very uncomfortable. In particular, I get mad with my family, especially my Mother, when they make such a fuss. I literally just cringe inside when anyone says anything overly positive or are overly animated about my progress.

I know I have such a long way to go to yet, so I thought, "Well, maybe that's why it bothers me"; since I'm still so far from a healthy goal weight.

Of course with my Mother, I figured it was resentment after all those years of telling me how fat I was and how I needed to lose weight. But I really thought I got past that when I learned my weight didn't define who I am as a person. Unless I just don't really believe it in my heart.

I see other post-ops who seem to enjoy and just bask in the glory of their success. Make no mistake, I'm extremely glad I had the surgery and got my life back. But in some form I feel like a farce when people say, "What are you doing to lose weight?" and I reply "..eat right and exercise". I don't want to be known as "Donna, that girl who had RNY", so I don't really share it day-to-day. I don't hesitate to share with someone who brings up the option of surgery, but I just don't bring it up as part of casual conversation.

I know the discomfort does nott stem from thinking "Well I was still me even when I was fatter... why didn't they see ME then." - I know a lot of post-ops who anguish over that. I do smile and say thank you to each and every compliment, but regardless I still cringe inside and it is still painful. Makes me wonder, perhaps, that while I felt I deserved this second chance to live my life, do I really feel like I deserve the success? It goes back to feeling like a farce. Of course I know I am not -- this is by far the hardest thing I've ever done!

I bring this up because I'm going back to NJ to visit my family the end of June, and they haven't seen me since I was 2 weeks post-op -- I've gone from a size 26 to a 16/18, so there is a noticeable physical change.. I love my family and I don't want to hurt their feelings and crush the excitement they feel for me. In a way I don't want to be selfish and say "Hey, don't share your happiness with me, it hurts." Especially when I can't define why it makes me hurt.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

80 lbs. Gone!

This week I hit 80 lbs. lost. I do my best not to compare, but it seems others who had surgery the same month as me are losing way faster. I know I'm doing it all right; eating, exercising. I suppose I get somewhat envious when the weight just falls off others without very much effort or regard for the "rules" of post-op life. Also too, my stalls remind me of my weight loss efforts (failures) pre-op. I'm not even 7 months out yet... I still have at least 11 more until the mal-absorbtion period ends.

It seems I lose like 8 to 10 lbs. then nothing for like 4 to 6 weeks; it's so maddening. Even though I know better, I have to vent about it.

I started buying some 16's and can actually wear some of the XL's in the Misses department -- just that alone opens a whole new world for me!

As for the new job, it is excellent. Surprisingly it is turning out to be what I was looking for if I stayed in technology -- still in technology but not support (or at least a ton of it). My boss, one of the co-owners, is great to work for. Although I don't have a bad thing to say about anyone there really :) they have all been more than welcoming.

The biggest deal is I got my butt back to school -- I'm going part-time online, but I'm doing it. At the same time I was struggling with the career thing, my husband's company offered and education discount to families. It's a small group of traditional universities who banded together to offer a center for online learning, the University Alliance. So I'm officially enrolled at St. Leo's University. I can even graduate on campus, if I want! I won't be easy, but I have the support of my Husband/family, so the only thing that would stop me is me.

I'm almost certain that a month has not past that I thought about how much I regretted quit college back in 1993. At some point, every month, I am reminded of that CHOICE I made. Ugh; just makes me mad. But no more... I'm changing all of it. The University thinks I can be done in less than 3 years because I may be able to test-out of some classes. That would be nice!

I'm hoping to win a scholarship from Talbot's next school year. Although I am not an awesome writer, I know I could write a killer essay about my life and my choice and what ultimately led me back to school.

That's about it for now. As usual I have been horrible about blogging these days. Seems I can't find much time! I'm going to take a quick trip to NJ to see my family 6/30 through he 4th. I absolutely cannot wait. Just to get away for a few days will be so very nice.