“I Want To Stay Hopeful Even Though I Get Scared About Why We’re Alive At All” – Lana Del Ray

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And right now it’s probably the only thing that’s keeping me going. It’s been a rough couple of months, peppered with truly awesome sprinkles of pure joy, and release that have fueled me through the motions like some sort of beautiful fem-bot.

Before I venture of the topic of why this blog was created. I figured it’s worth mentioning that I hit my goal weight of 140 back on October 16th and this morning when I got on the scale I weighed 130.4. I don’t really want to lose any more weight considering I probably have like 10 to 15 pounds of loose skin that has to go. I’ve even had weeks where I ate like shit (as far as food choices) and got on the scale and still dropped two pounds expecting to have gained or maintained that week. If I get down to 125 I am going to call my doctor and see if they want to see me, because I am starting to feel like I am getting too thin.

Excuse my candidness if this post offends anyone but the only way I can get through the dark times is to try and make light of them. While the meds they put me on have helped me from wanting to slit my wrist on a moment to moment bases, I have certainly returned to the dark side in the last couple of weeks.

All I find myself wanting to do is lay in bed and listen to Lana Del Rey and pondering what the fuck it is I am doing with my life. While the medication has helped my mood it’s also made it really hard to create or do much because I have little to no energy. So then it makes me wondering if I am on the right path but when I try to think about what I would be if I wasn’t an artist my all my mind hears is crickets. So at the moment I am on auto pilot just trying to navigate this shit storm until I figure it out. Art is hard kids especially when you are in the middle of a creative block and your homework relies on your ability to create.

My saving grace this quarter has certainly been my creative concepts class. It’s taught by my favorite photography professor but we are allowed to use whatever medium we want. It’s been nice not to have to rely on photography for the whole class. The class works by all of us submitting 10 concepts at the beginning of the class and for each project everyone pulls one concept out of a bag. We then all vote until there’s only one concept left.  The way you determine if you passed the assignment or not is if 2/3rds of the class votes that your piece met the concept. There has been some really cool work presented in this class and I wish you could take it more than once.

For our concept “I can’t hear you” I decided to do a burlesque/pole routine. This truly is a non-scale victory for me in a couple of ways. I grew up my whole life hating watching videos of my performances because of my weight. For the first time in my life not only do I love watching this video I have watched it many times because I have a hard time believing it’s me lol.

I know this is probably another post that’s going to generate a lot of worry for some people who read it. It’s okay I weather the storm kids it’s just sometimes the water is fucking rough and I am prone to sea sickness so it hits me a little harder than others.

lanabelieve

 

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“Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes How do you measure, measure a year?”

Next Tuesday will mark one year since I went under the knife and changed my life forever. The last year has been a whirlwind of change, growth, and curve balls. I am doing this post early since it will require a bit of time to gather all the details and photos required to write it, and next Tuesday I will be back in class. If I get a chance on Tuesday I will post some official one year numbers. At this time last year I was morbidly obese (301 pounds with a BMI of 53.8), scared about having surgery, unsure if I could handle the post op life change, and terrified that I would be one of those people who have gastric bypass and only drop 50 pounds never even getting close to their goal weight. This was me, and I was leading a life that was ruled by fear.  The night before surgery I was 296.6.

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Today I am almost a year out from the best thing I could have ever done for my life. I am no longer led by fear, I have learned that if you take a leap of faith it’s not always spikes waiting to impale you, it can be a circus net awaiting your landing.  I am currently overweight with a BMI of 26.6 and 15.2 pounds to go until I hit my goal. I have no regrets, well one and that’s that I didn’t do it years sooner. I have lost 158.4 pounds total. Even now as I write that number it doesn’t seem real. I have a hard time seeing it in the mirror sometimes but it punches you in the face when you look at before and after pictures. Here are my current measurements.

1 year measurements

I am not sure what it is about birthdays or anniversaries that make you question your life plan and where you’re at. It could just be that I haven’t had a moment to process anything since October. I am glad that my birthday and surgaversary are close together because the last week or so have been a bit of a mind fuck.  Perhaps it’s the fact that I am approaching my golden birthday (29 on the 29th) marking the last year of my twenties, or the fact that this last year has housed more change than you can shake a stick at, but it makes me wonder what the next revolution around the sun holds for me. The one thing I do know is if it’s as transformative as this last year, the chapter that is my twenties is going to close monumentally.

Time Keeps On Slipping Into The Future….

It turns out that when I’m not chained to a desk 40+ hours a week it’s about as easy for me to make regular updates to my blog, as flying a block of cheese to the moon. A lot has happened but I’m not going to dive deeply into most of it (in this post at least). I just realized that the 14th marked the 10 month mark from my surgery and that perhaps it was time for some sort of update.

Seattle, New York, and Sint Maarten were all fantastic. I’m not going to lie, and be totally accountable because I don’t want to say I do everything by the book when I haven’t. I broke down and had wine and dessert in Seattle. We went to a ridiculously delicious (but pricey) El Gaucho. I didn’t have to drive and was with my parents and enough strapping lads that if I got black out drunk off a glass of wine I would make it home in one piece. If I was a light weight before surgery I am like the cheapest date on earth after because one glass of wine is equivalent to drinking 3 or 4 cocktails now. I had bites of all the desserts that came out to the table (table side liquid nitrogen ice cream, cherries jubilee, from scratch keylime pie). Then in Sint Maarten when we went to the french bakery I bought a macaroon and eclair (I ate them over a few days). I also got black out drunk when I was in Sint Maarten because I drank a bottle of wine way too fast without food. I rallied and was fine within a couple of two hours to quote my friends “you went from passed out topless on our balcony to giving a concert (we went to karaoke) in like two hours with no hang over.” I am not saying you should go out and drink and eat sugar. I also don’t need a lecture on the risks of drinking before 18 months or at all after surgery. I am fully aware and rarely partake. Here are a couple of pictures brought to you by that bottle of wine.

I included this one because the other one make my stomach look bigger because my body is tilted toward the camera

I included this one because the other one makes my stomach look bigger because my body is tilted toward the camera

If you look at my top you can see where I dropped my self head first into the sand when I tried to drop back into wheel drunk.

If you look at my top you can see where I dropped my self head first into the sand when I tried to drop back into wheel drunk.

I ate pretty shitty as far as what I should be eating while on vacation, but we were on the go so much that I probably could have ate a whole cheesecake everyday in New York and still lost weight. I came home and everyone was like damn you look like you got much smaller while you were gone. Considering we were walking 15,000 to 20,000 steps everyday in NYC, and I was swimming everyday in SInt Maarten as well as working out a few days on the island my body was put in beast mode. The blisters on the bottom of my feet are finally almost completely healed and smooth.

I came home and had to face the music about not doing any homework on vacation and consequently have been doing work  non-stop to try and save my GPA. I really haven’t done anything or have seen anyone unless it involves something to do with school. This week has finally been the light at the end of the tunnel as far as the school load goes.

As far as a weigh update goes this morning when I did my weekly weigh in I weighed 169 pounds. That’s 144.6 pounds down from my highest weight of 313.6 in December of 2013 and 132 pounds down from the start of the 3 day liquid diet for surgery.

Everything had been going swimmingly until last week around this time I started experiencing abdominal pain right below my breastbone. It’s not constant and gets worse when I eat and radiates into my back/shoulder blade. This is all pretty consistent with gallbladder issues. I am going to wait this out as long as I can before I see a doctor for two reason. 1. I have no insurance 2. If you miss 3 classes in one quarter they drop you from your classes. If I end up having to have surgery not only is it going to cost way more money than I have but all of the work, money, time and effort put into this quarter will have been a complete waste.

So everyone keep your fingers crossed that this gallbladder thing will calm down long enough for the quarter to end, and for my ass to get on medicaid. I am not super hopeful however, the only reason I have a moment to update this thing is because I feel to shitty to do anything else at the moment.

Rewind The Future

Since much doesn’t change on the weight loss front from week to week I thought I would share some of the stuff I have been working on for school. I’ll share some art but I only had one art class this quarter. I thought I would start with a paper we had to write for my critical thinking class.

The assignment was to choose a commercial or print advertisement and analyze the effectiveness of it. This particular ad goes hand in hand with my nightmare of what my future might have looked like if I didn’t have gastric bypass. Below is the ad and my paper.

The advertisement I chose to analyze was Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Rewind the Future. The commercial was released on September 18th, 2013 as part of their Strong For Life campaign making it a little over a year old. The commercial is meant to create a shocking reaction that many viewers can identify with either personally, or through someone they know.Since this advertisement is being presented by the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, they are using ethos as its primary persuasive tactic.

The advertisement opens with a point of view shot from a 32 year old man on an emergency room table in cardiac arrest. As the doctors go over his vitals one asks “how does this happen?” We then begin to rewind as we see his eating habits through his life all the way back to his infancy where his mother is appeasing him with french fries to keep him from crying. The screen cuts to black and in writing says your child’s future; we then cut to an aerial shot of the medical staff cutting the patient out of his clothing and the words printed over it “doesn’t have to look like this.’ The screen cuts to black again, and we see the message “There’s still time to reverse the unhealthy habits our kids take into adulthood. We can show you how” followed by information on how to access their services.

While the intended audience is for parents with young children, or young adults, I believe it makes anyone who has been brought up with a similar lifestyle to think about the choices they make.  Even though I am not the intended audience for this particular clip because I do not have children, I personally identified with its message. I was brought up in a household where we weren’t told no to whatever we wanted to eat, and were raised on fatty, starchy Mexican food. At the time that I first saw this commercial, I had just begun the long process of getting approved to have Gastric Bypass. Upon viewing this it reaffirmed the reason I was going under the knife to

insure that I wouldn’t end up on an ER table at 32 under cardiac arrest. I think it’s a very powerful message for parents to see because part of the problem with my weight is I didn’t learn how to eat properly until I was 17, and the problem was out of control.

The advertisement has come under a lot of flack for being anti obese people, as seen in an article from the August issue of Good Housekeeping by April Rueb. I don’t necessarily agree with that viewpoint; I think it’s more anti a health issue, not anti a group of people. I would, however say that it does portray a couple of negative stereotypes. It makes it seem like every single heavy person is a walking heart attack, which is not true. All of my blood work prior to surgery showed that I was actually very healthy despite my weight with no comorbidities. I decided to go under the knife to make sure that I didn’t occur any comorbidities in the future. It also made it seem like every heavy person is lazy. I know many big people (myself included) who play sports, work out, and are active but have other conditions that make it hard for them to lose weight.

I thought the scare tactic was effective for this particular message. I feel like most of the time when advertisements come on about health or fitness that people tend to zone them out since we are constantly bombarded with them. Since the advertisement holds no punches as far as shock factor goes, it makes it successful in not only capturing the audience’s attention, but also making them remember the message. The use of the point of view camera angle was effective in making you experience what the patient is experiencing both on the operating table, and during the flashback sequence. The flashback sequence was effective in highlighting habits that parents don’t see as hurtful but really make an impact on the choices their child will make about food in the future.

The language used is a bit accusatory making it sound like unless you follow their tips that this will for certain be your child’s future. My one concern I would have as a parent would be the unnecessary stress this ad might have on my child. If my child was overweight it might cause them to be unnecessarily stressed out about keeling over at the age of 12 since children can’t always fully comprehend. Adversely it might cause a child who doesn’t have any weight issues to become unnecessarily obsessive about what they are eating.

Overall despite the few flaws I found with this particular campaign I thought  it was effective. They knew by being shocking this video would go viral causing lots of people to see it. In a day and age when according to the American Heart Association one in three teens is overweight or obese, which is triple the rate from 1963, perhaps Americans can use fright as motivation. I think this advertisement was so poorly received by some because we have become a society where everyone is a winner, so no one feels bad. We have also gotten to a state where we want to put our heads in the sand when it comes to anything that is unpleasant, making childhood obesity a big elephant in the room because parents would rather ignore the problem than hurt their child’s feelings.

The ad is certainly food for thought for anyone. The fact of the matter is for a lot of children raised on fast and processed food this will be their future. If it’s not a heart attack, it might be joint issues or diabetes. I think the ad has an important message that the best start that you can give to your children’s health is to teach them healthy habits as a child. Like the saying goes, you can’t teach a old dog new tricks. By the time a person is 18 and able to make their own decisions about food they might be so set in unhealthy ways that irreversible damage has been done. While scare tactics don’t always work, because it’s such a dramatic difference from the smiling faces we normally see on health ads, it makes a lasting impact with the viewer.

Sources

  1. Rewind The Future [Motion picture]. (2013). USA: Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. YouTube
  2. Rueb, A. (2014, August 14). This Anti-Obesity PSA Sends a Powerful Message But does it go too far? Good House Keeping.

    http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/womens-health/powerful-anti-obesity-psa

  3. What is childhood obesity? (2014, August 1). Retrieved November 3, 2014, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/HealthierKids/ChildhoodObesity/What-is-childhood-obesity_UCM_304347_Article.jsp

Weightloss Update

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As of last Saturday when I last weighed in I have lost 100 pounds (at least) since this time last year!!! In all honesty it’s probably more than that since what prompted me to get on the scale last year was I could feel in my clothes that I had lost weight, I just had no clue I had gained so much before hand. There’s a neat site called I lost What? That tells you how much you’ve lost in objects, according to them :

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Things have been pretty steady. At the start of the 3 day diet I was at 301 Saturday my weight was 212. My weight loss for each month has been as follows:

July: 21 pounds

August: 14.8 pounds

September: 17.2 pounds

October: 16 pounds

November: 12.4 pounds

December so far: 7.6 pounds

I don’t know if this is above or below average, or right on track but I am happy with it. The only thing I wish is that I could work out. Since I feel faint fairly easily it’s made me afraid to get back into a fitness routine or get to far from the house as far as walking goes.

Food continues to be a little bit of a struggle. I know I am not getting as much protein in as I should but it’s getting better now that I can stand the taste of milk again. It seems like my taste buds are finally starting to mellow out a bit. My hair started falling out pretty much 3 months to the day but it seems like it’s finally starting to slow down a bit. Considering I have taken advantage of being an art student and have dyed my hair purple and pink. I am pretty lucky I haven’t lost more.

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Drinking water is starting to get easier again too. Up until recently if my water wasn’t ice cold I couldn’t drink it. My NUT is the one who told me about this. Apparently a lot of bypass patients will experience nausea when drinking room temperature water but not ice or hot water. Sure enough as soon as I made sure my water was always full of ice I could drink it with out feeling sick. It was just strange because if I was drinking a Vitamin Water Zero or something it could be room temperature and I could drink it just fine. This issue only happened with water.

So it’s been a 100 pounds from my highest weight and I have lost 89 pounds since the start of my 3 day liquid diet. I was putting this picture together for the blog and I can’t believe I have turned into one of those people who don’t notice their 100 pound weigh loss in the mirror. I notice it in my face but I didn’t really notice it in my body until I put my current pictures next to the pictures I took the day before surgery:

Dec weight

What the fuck is wrong with me lol? How could I not see the difference it’s huge! A couple of non-scale victories my legs are finally small enough that I can find knee high socks that fit this is hugely important because it’s been cold and I hate pants. Long socks are kind of like crotchless sweats. My legs don’t tend to get cold as long as the bottom portion are covered.

IMG_0631Other shopping victories i have consistently been able to find dresses in the non plus size section the last two times I have went shopping I picked this gem up for 12 bucks!:

IMG_5978Well everyone that’s it for now, I have some presents to wrap and lunch to eat. I plan on sharing some of my school projects on here over the break so you can see why I was absent for so long. I am wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas (I don’t care what you celebrate you can still have a merry fucking Christmas! lol).

Sorry I Dropped Off The Face of The Earth!

I’m back. I have been a bad bad blogger. The whole point of this thing was to keep people updated so I don’t have people asking about my progress. I have totally failed on this front and I apologize. This post is going to be pretty long so buckle up. My life has been a bit insane. I will put my actual weight loss progress in another post since this one will be so freaking long. I am sure some people will zone out or skip it.

I ended up not being able to go back to work until almost 4 weeks out. I had to take out short-term disability and in order to go back you have to be cleared by your doctor. Since mine happened to be out-of-town the week of my follow-up appointment, and is in surgery the first part of every week, I ended up not going back to work until August 7th. Up until that point I had been doing alright with eating. Once I went back If I tried to eat anything that wasn’t yogurt I couldn’t keep it down. This would only happen at work so the only thing I can think of is that perhaps it was just the stress I was experiencing having come back during the busiest time of the year.

Let’s talk about stress for a second. So I have always had some level of anxiety since I was about 12 years old. I can keep it in check the majority of the time but I hadn’t had full-fledged panic attacks since I was in High School. For some reason when I went back to work the stress of dealing with everything kicked my anxiety into high gear. Now I don’t know if it was the perfect storm of insomnia caused by restless leg syndrome, stress, hormonal changes from the weight loss, and not really being able to eat enough. All of a sudden work caused me to be all suicidal and anxiety ridden. I ended up hyperventilating and baling in the company parking lot one morning and had to leave. I sat back and realized that work was the reason I was feeling this way and decided it was time to start looking into school (right after I called my doctor). I knew that if I am every to be truly happy in a job it’s going to have to be in a creative field which this job was not in the least.

I saw my doctor and she prescribed me something for the anxiety and insomnia and told me to take Magnesium for the restless leg syndrome. Adjusting to the anxiety and insomnia meds was intense. I ended up having to work from home for like a week because I felt like Courtney Love in her glory days. I literally fell out of bed one morning when I tried to get up. Eventually I got used to it, and work started to slow down again and things started to take shape with school. This takes us into September.

The second week in September I was told I was going to be laid off in a few weeks as the year had been slow for the company. About this time I found out that I had made it into The Art Institute of Colorado’s Bachelors of Photography program. As soon as I found out that my insurance was going to be running out I started weaning off the anxiety meds and haven’t needed them since.

This whole time I have been experiencing the numbing and dizziness that started after surgery. I had been having a hard time getting plain water down and was beyond over any sort of protein drink or food. It didn’t matter the flavor or brand I could taste the whey even if it was unflavored and it made me want to gag. Also if I wasn’t physically hungry I couldn’t really eat more than a bite or two and it would come back up. Which probably wasn’t helping the dizziness. You forget because you aren’t starving all the time that you aren’t really consuming much even when you can eat.

I was over at a friend’s house letting her puppy out when I almost passed out. I had been bent over playing with the puppy and didn’t notice that I had my knees locked. I noticed my feet were starting to go numb so I went to try to change my stance (I was still bent over) and my vision started going black on the edges and I fell to the ground. Since I was bent over already I kind of just fell backward onto my butt/hip and then landed softly on my side. I didn’t actually pass out but I came close.

The first week of October I had orientation for school and my Grandma was very sick in the hospital. The doctors had given her only a couple of days the day that I had my orientation. I love her and didn’t have the need to see her hooked up to tubes but my Mom wanted to go down there so I told her that I would driver her down the next day. We wouldn’t get the chance because she passed that day shortly after I got home from the school.

My family is buried in Farisita Colorado so I had to make the trek down to Southern Colorado for the services. I had class until 10pm the night before so I decided to make the journey the  morning of. I was distracted and trying to change lanes on a hill when I passed a state patrol speed trap and ended up with a $250 speeding ticket. That Sunday I opened a letter from Cigna saying they wont cover my $2,500 bill for the physicians assistant that my surgeon used during my RnY. Needless to say when you’re out of work you need those expenses like you need a stick in the eye.

The following Friday my health insurance ended. The next day I was out shooting photos for my former physical trainer. Before I headed out I had eaten plenty throughout the day. I had actually had some ground beef and cheese with some salsa right before I had left. It was about 3 pm when we meet up and I hadn’t really had much to drink all day so I stopped and bought a Vitamin Water Zero on the way to the shoot and drank about 3/4’s of it. We had been shooting for about an hour or so when this happened.

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The dad and son of the family I was shooting were waiting with me on this path while the mom was helping the daughter change for her senior portraits at the car. I was standing there talking to the Dad when I noticed I was feeling a little weak when all of a sudden the side of my vision went black and I got dizzy. He obviously noticed my reaction to this and I told him I wasn’t feeling so hot. I asked his son to go grab my vitamin water from the car and leaned against the rock wall that bordered the sidewalk of the path. The last thing I remember was thinking I need to put my camera down. The next thing I knew I was waking up to the Dad gently shaking my shoulder and saying my name as I spit could hear Karen running toward us yelling what happened? I had to ask him because I wasn’t sure if I actually passed out or just collapsed and he said I passed out because I didn’t try to get my hands down at all when I went face first into the sidewalk. My guess is I went to take the 5 steps to my camera bag and went down in the middle of them.

As quickly as it came on I felt fine equally as fast, but I had my parents come get me and my car just in case. I didn’t want to get on the road and pass out again. Luckily my tooth didn’t hurt at all but from the bottom of my nose to the tip of my chin hurt like a bitch. My dentist was out-of-town so it took me a few days to get in and pay $2,000 out-of-pocket to fix it. My surgeon could give a shit a saga I will get into later. He really didn’t have an answer as to why this happened. Other than like I thought it might have been because I was dehydrated. I had my 3 month blood work done a few days prior to passing out and he said all of my levels looked good that they weren’t even borderline low.

Other than that small shit storm (which included closing my finger in a car door, stubbing a toe so bad I thought it was broken from the pain and color, getting the worlds worst rug burn from falling down the last 3 stairs because I was practically sleep walking, and getting a flat tire) things have been good. The weight has been coming off, I have been kicking ass and taking names at school, and I have air in my lungs so I can’t ask for much more.
The first quarter of school flew by and ended on Thursday. I got all of my Christmas presents ordered Friday and Yesterday. I have to go buy my dad’s presents for my mom, and stuff to wrap mine today and then I will be done with holiday preparations.

Other than the dizziness and fainting things have been pretty good side effect wise. I haven’t dumped, I haven’t had lots of gas like some people have (although I have noticed I could clear a room more often than I used to luckily it’s only ever happened when I am alone). Eating has gotten way better. I throw up very rarely and it’s typically from meat (chicken or turkey) being too dry.

It’s almost time for my 6th month follow-up and I need to find out how much this shit is going to cost me out-of-pocket. I might end up finding a different surgeon to because I refuse to pay to see a Physicians Assistant (you don’t get to see the surgeon until a year out).

Well that’s it for now. I will post pictures and weight updates tonight or in the next couple of days.

“I would like for people to realize that yoga is not about touching your toes.” – Gary Kraftsow

Featured Image -- 141Here’s a blog I wrote over at A Journey Through Thick N Thin about all the reasons why I love yoga.

A Journey Through Thick N Thin

Immediately upon the mention of yoga it conjures images of super skinny yogi’s twisted into impossible contortions all while wearing a blissed out expression on their face.

In my lifetime I have taken hundreds of different types of fitness classes. Even though dance is my biggest passion, it wasn’t until I found yoga that I found something I was passionate about to want to take the steps to be an instructor so I could share it with others in my life.

Photograph of an elderly man and woman doing outdoor early morni

The reason I feel so passionately about this practice is that it really is accessible to everyone, and I have never met a single person who didn’t take something from the experience even if they never take a second class.

Now I know what you’re thinking as I say it’s for everyone, “I am not flexible enough, I am not strong enough, I am not skinny enough, I am…

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