Archive for the ‘weight loss’ Category

It is done.

The actual SmartLipo procedure, that is.

The healing process is just starting, and it hurts. And itches. And is generally pretty swollen, bruised, lumpy, and gross.

But it will get better, and I will be better for it.

I was planning on detailing the days immediately leading up to the procedure, but they didn’t really include anything special, aside from avoiding alcohol (which I’m pretty good at anyway), drinking a quart of water a day (which I’m decidedly not very good at, though I’m committed now), and picking up my prescriptions (which turned out to be the only part of this whole process I’d classify as “affordable”).

I picked up my prescriptions on Monday:

All these bad boys cost me a whopping $12.76. Thanks, insurance!

On Tuesday, I went to all my classes like normal, and then boyfriend and I headed up to Coeur d’Alene, which is roughly a two hour drive. We got into town about 8pm, and headed to dinner at a roadhouse type joint I’d been wanting to try for a while. I had some delicious pulled pork and grilled shrimp, and a sweet potato, which sadly I did not photograph. Sad, because it was epically delicious. I’ll snap a picture on a return visit. Promise. Then we checked into the hotel, which was a little dated, but contained a lovely, suite-sized bathroom and comfy king sized bed:

All this, and a view…

We spent the evening watching bad reality TV, and I took my first dose of antibiotics, and first shower with the requisite Hibiclens anti-bacterial wash as instructed. Hibiclens basically smells like rubbing alcohol/hospital hallways, is red, does not foam, and leaves your skin feeling dry and tight. Which was kind of a bummer, since no lotion is allowed in the 24 hours before surgery. But if it prevents infections, I’m all for it:

And yes, I politely wiped off the tub after staging this photo.

The hotel also provided this center-less soap, which at first I thought was kind of ridiculous, but ended up actually really enjoying:

In the morning, I got up about 6:30, called for room service, and took my second Hibiclens-required shower. I picked the hotel because it was the best deal, but mostly because it came with room service. Because I do not do mornings (willingly) and getting up to drive somewhere sounded like a lot of work. I had some delicious French toast crusted with almond flakes and drizzled with a huckleberry compote:

This cost half as much as the room. Seriously. So either the room was a *really* good deal…

After breakfast, which was counter-intuitive to have before a surgical procedure, I dried my hair and gulped down my handful of pills about 45 minutes before I was supposed to be at the surgeon’s office:

Two painkillers, two anti-anxiety/muscle relaxers, and one anti-nausea pill. Done.

Then I had some free time to kill, which I used to pace around nervously and take pictures of my old tummy in the mirror. Because while it is (finally) going away, it will always have been a part of me:

Sweatpants are sexy.

We finally headed out to the doctor’s office and got there promptly at 9:15. At that point, I was still marveling at how I didn’t quite yet feel the effects of the medication, and wondering what it was going to do to me, since taking 2 substantial doses of Ativan is essentially what I presume crack would be like. My awesome nurse, who rotates between calling me “sunshine,” “girlfriend,” and “sweet pea,” settled me into a cushy chair to wait. About five minutes later, I informed her I was going to vomit. My French toast had turned a marvelous blue color (no pictures of that). That was the point where I realized the drugs had kicked in and I no longer cared what was going on around me.

Somewhere in all of this, I donned on my extra-sexy disposable panties and robe they gave me (I assume the nurse was involved in the process, but honestly, I remember very little), took some pre-op pictures, and walked down the hall to the surgery room. The nurse put some little covers over my eyes, and for the next three or so hours, I recalled vague snippits of conversation, saying “Ow” a few times when asked if I needed more local anesthetic on my tummy, and at one point the surgeon noting they’d taken out a liter of fat.

SmartLipo didn’t really hurt too much while it was happening. I could vaguely feel the instrument under the skin moving around, but by that point, the Ativan had done it’s work and I could have cared less. It took me a full 24 hours to realize that two of the incisions are about an inch up from my lady-parts. Do no remember the surgeon being down there…

Eventually, they stood me up, assessed, laid me back down, took off some more fat, and called it good. Then the nurse had me stand and balance against a counter while she zipped me into my compression garment. Which, I might add, is crotchless and has simultaneously become my best friend/worst enemy. My bra was very bloody and gross from things running up my back (this is normal, apparently), so we took that off, and she took me to the recovery room to hang out for a little while until I was coherent. Boyfriend had apparently been at the grocery store for most of this time, and him and the nurse chatted about the medical benefits of orange juice and saltines while I munched on some of my own saltines, apple sauce, and apple juice. When I was mostly back on the same planet as everyone else, the nurse helped pour me back into my clothes and the doctor wheeled me out to my truck in a wheelchair. I remember thinking at the time that it was odd for the actual doctor to do that, so bonus points for him.

Back at the hotel all of 5 minutes later, I curled up into bed and promptly slept for the next six hours.

I woke up long enough to direct boyfriend to purchase me a mushroom-swiss burger and salad (they said to eat whatever I wanted…) and went back to sleep until he got back from picking up dinner. By that point it was about 8pm. I ate about half my burger (which was delicious, and everything I was hoping for), took one painkiller, and went back to sleep.

The next morning, I got out of bed (which hurt a lot), and we checked out of the hotel before heading to the surgeon’s office for a post-op check up. We pulled into the parking lot at the same time as the doctor, headed up to the exam room, and I got to change into another fashion-forward pair of disposable panties for round two of picture taking. This time, I got a sweet print out of before and after shots. The doctor said everything looked good, the nurse changed my bandages and dressed my incisions (I have four of them, one below each side of my ribs and two about an inch above my ladyparts), gave me instructions for my first post-op shower (which couldn’t happen for 48 hours), and boyfriend and I headed home.

Somewhere along the way, he decided it was necessary to go to Harbor Freight, so we drove back through Washington, which was a terrible idea, because Washington’s idea of road maintenance is to not do it. Bumps were not my idea of fun, but I survived. We swung into Target for a few minutes so I could buy some boyshorts (these, I’ve learned, are the post-op undergarment of choice, because they fit nicely over the compression garment, which is crotchless). Limping around was actually a nice change after not moving for 24 hours. We swung through Hu Hot Mongolian grill for lunch (win, as I could get mostly veggies and a giant 7-up zero with cherry!) and then drove the rest of the way home. Where I promptly went back to bed for the rest of the day.

On Friday, I waited for boyfriend to get home from work so I could shower and wash my compression garment. By hand. It took forever to dry, which sucked, because while I was ecstatic to get it off for a while, by the time it was dry three hours later, I was achy and ready to put it back on. They recommend you buy two for this reason, but at $100 a pop, I couldn’t justify it for something I’ll only wear for two weeks of my life. The nurse said that was okay…

I was only allowed in the shower for 15 minutes (I’m not good at short showers…sue me…I had enough 2 minute dirty-water ones when I was a kid to make up for it) and boyfriend had to stand there the whole time to make sure I didn’t pass out, as per the doctor’s orders. I was really sore and limpy the next day (turning over in bed, standing up, and bending over are decidedly not fun), and I have a strange sore/numb sensation on my stomach that I’m not a fan of, but it’s supposed to go away in 6-8 weeks. All in all, the experience has been pretty manageable, and I’m able to get around the house now without too much discomfort. I’m applying cold for an hour or two each day to help with swelling and taking it easy. And hanging out with my cat.

Pictures of the results, coming up…

The Best Chicken I Have Ever Made

Posted: January 26, 2012 in weight loss

I experimented with a new recipe tonight.

I loved it.

Boyfriend loved it.

I’m pretty sure you will love it.

And it’s mostly made in the slow cooker, which makes it super easy and perfect for busy work days. Besides the slow cooker, the whole thing is made in one skillet. If it means less dishes for me, I’m in.

It’s a spin on one of my favorite Mexican dishes, Pollo a la Crema. Healthy style.

Pollo a la Crema


1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 cans fat free reduced sodium chicken broth

1 tsp each chili powder, paprika, red pepper, celery seeds, dried cilantro, garlic salt, onion powder, and hot sauce

24 mushrooms, thickly sliced

1 tomato, finely diced

2 cups fat free sour cream

1/4 cup Philadelphia Cooking Cream

3 tablespoons Smart Balance Light

1 tablespoon olive oil


Place chicken breasts in a 4 quart slow cooker, add half the spices, and pour in chicken broth. Set to high and allow to cook for 5-6 hours, until chicken is tender and flakes apart. Remove chicken and flake by pulling apart with forks. Reserve the cooking liquid.

Slice mushrooms and saute over medium heat with Smart Balance and olive oil until tender. Add tomato, 1 cup of reserved chicken broth, and the remaining spices. Stir in cooking cream and sour cream and cook until well blended, about three minutes. Stir in flaked chicken and an additional 1/2 cup of cooking liquid. Simmer until sauce begins to thicken, about 3 minutes.

Makes 6 delicious servings.


Use the remaining cooking liquid as part of the water for a side of rice.

Okay, so maybe in the future, this plate needs more veggies on it. But tonight, I just wanted to revel in this delicious, creamy, sauced-up, tender, amazing chicken with sides the way it comes at my favorite Mexican restaurant. It was everything I hoped it would be.

And at 6 Weight Watchers PointsPlus points per serving, it’s a no guilt dinner that leaves me with plenty of leftovers for the rest of the week.



2012 is going to be a great year.

I can feel it.

It’s starting off on the right track.

A few weeks ago, I auditioned for the music program at my university. This raised some eyebrows, because I’m a) not a music major b) have essentially no music background and c) am almost done with an advanced degree in something else entirely.

I was terrified of this audition, because to be told no at this audition would have felt like being told “Sorry…you just can’t sing. We don’t see potential here.”

Waiting was a big test of patience. It was almost a month before I got the final word that I had passed, been assigned to a voice studio and choir, and could register for classes.

That’s right. 3 semesters out from finishing my PhD, I’m enrolled in all undergraduate music classes.

It’s going to be strange going to classes again. But I’m excited.

I’m also doing something a little out there, and investing in me this year: I’m having SmartLipo, which is essentially the newest format for liposuction, performed with lasers.

It’s expensive.

It’s costing me, all said and done, half of what I make in a year. (I pulled this off with some extreme budgeting…bye bye iPhone…and a payment plan).

I’ve been self-conscious about my weight and my stomach for a long time. As long as I can remember. A few years ago I got tired of people asking if I was pregnant, so I started doing Weight Watchers and exercising like a fiend.

I lost over 25 pounds.

I’m only 5 feet tall, so that was significant. I’m currently only about 20 pounds from my super-pinnacle of achievement goal weight of 105 pounds, and I’d be happy with making it to 110. I’m not overweight, and in general I’m pretty happy with my size. I’ve cut out soda, candy, butter, white bread, full-fat everything, and anything fast food, besides the occasional Whopper (plain, with cheese, add barbeque sauce) from Burger King that I generally get twice a year, at Fourth of July and Christmas when boyfriend and I head over the mountains to visit his family. I’ve reduced portion sizes, taken to measuring everything, and acquired a Bowflex Treadclimber (second hand). On top of classes at the gym.

After a couple of years of that, I got discouraged and gave up. Because my stomach wasn’t getting any smaller or less-pregnant looking, despite the fact that I’d lost a lot of weight and developed abs of steel beneath it all.

Why exercise and give up all the foods I love if I wasn’t feeling any better about the one part of my body I’m self conscious about?

I binged and gave up exercise for a while. But I realized that I didn’t miss huge portions, or regular soda, or fast food. I did sort of miss exercising. I just needed an added boost.

I got a doctor’s opinion, and a second opinion. It turned out, I wasn’t failing in my diet and exercise routine. I’m just built this way, and genetically, my extra weight wants to go straight to my stomach. The bottom line was, there isn’t much I can do about it short of a) going hardcore-all-out-bodybuilding or b) having surgery.

I don’t particularly want to be a body builder. And I have a friend who does it, and it’s expensive when you add up all that goes into it. So I picked surgery. And a good combination of yoga, pilates, tabata, and recommitment to my Weight Watchers plan.

I don’t expect surgery to give me a six-pack or fix all my body issues.

I do expect it to give me the boost I need to continue moving forward with my weight loss goals, and an added dose of confidence that I believe I deserve after all the hard work I’ve put in on changing my attitude and response to life in the last few years.

I’ve done a lot of work on me.

It’s time for the outside to match the inside.

So there we have it…two major major steps I’ve taken toward building something amazing in 2012. It’s a new beginning that has been in the works for a long time.

I love when a plan comes together.

Welcome to 2012

Posted: January 2, 2012 in healing, weight loss
Tags: ,

Today was the perfect indication of how I imagine 2012 is going to go.

Food. Frustrations. Laughter. Family. Music. Hope.

Today, I had dinner with my family. All of my family – both parents, and my brother.

It was the first time we’ve had a family dinner all together for a major holiday since about 2003. And in 2003, I came down with pneumonia and spent the evening in the emergency room while everyone else was having dinner.

It was nice to have my whole family together, and we had a pleasant afternoon just eating and talking, exchanging presents, reminiscing about happy times. That’s a huge step, because it seems like for the past few years, most of our energies – mine included – have been focused around the negative parts of the past. There were real, legitimate negatives, but it’s important to remember that there were good times too.

We did some other things together this afternoon that were amazing steps in the right direction. We laughed.

I played my guitar and sang a song I wrote about letting go of California, and we cried.

Then we laughed some more.

We enjoyed traditional recipes that my grandma used to make, including an amazing (and easy) macaroni salad and pumpkin pie that I made from scratch. I’ll post the recipes…

I’m exciting going into 2012, because I’m really happy about the foundations I built in 2011 that will make 2012 a better year. I’m happy that I’ve taken steps toward taking charge of some things that are really important to me, like playing guitar and singing. Boyfriend and I have taken some big steps toward strengthening and improving our relationship and I’ve made some really big steps toward rebuilding my relationship with my brother.

And, just so you know, I’ve decided to take charge of something about my body that has bothered me for a really, really really long time. I carry all my extra weight around my stomach, and so do most of the women on my mom’s side of the family. I’ve done a lot of dieting and exercising. I’m not done with those things by any means, but the moment I realized (and a medical professional confirmed) that those things alone wouldn’t remove the extra weight from my stomach was a devastating moment.

So this year, I decided to do something about it. I budgeted, and I planned, and I researched. And I decided to have SmartLipo to remove the extra fat from my stomach. I’ll still be hitting the diet and exercise more this year, because getting into better shape and just feeling better are important goals for me. But I’m going to stop hoping beyond hope that diet and exercise changes are going to make me feel comfortable and confident about my stomach.

I have made some drastic changes in the last few years.

I cut out regular soda, and butter, and regular salad dressing; mayonnaise and full fat sour cream and milk. I got up at 5 in the morning to hit the gym, and sometimes spent up to 4 hours a day there, five days a week. I lost weight, and I’ve kept most of it off. I’m within about 5 pounds of my lowest weight right now, and in general I’m pretty happy with my body.

But not my stomach.

And it’s hard not to lose motivation to work out when it feels like all the hard work you do isn’t touching the one problem area you’re most sensitive about.

Two separate medical opinions confirmed my worst fear: I could reach my goal weight without it significantly reducing the amount of fat on my stomach. Genetically, that’s where my body wants to store it, so that’s where it’s going.

I cried over that revelation.

Then I took charge of it.

And yes, this surgery is expensive, and it has risks, and I’m nervous. I know it will not give me a perfect body or solve all my problems.

But I wish I’d done it sooner.

It’s an investment in me, and a turning point. Not the biggest one or the last one I’ll ever have, but a moment in my life that will make later moments different.

I’m all for that.

And I’ll keep you posted along the way.


Posted: July 17, 2011 in medication, weight loss

I know I need to get back on top of this whole blogging thing. For me. Because I think it’s healthy to write about things. It has been a VERY stressful last couple of weeks.

I stopped taking Effexor. After three years, the withdrawals were crazy intense. I was expecting things to get interesting as I phased off the medication, but I don’t think I was prepared for how intense the withdrawal symptoms were going to be. I felt everything from flu-like aches that lasted for days to jitters and shakes, fevers, cold sweats, severe dizziness and lack of energy to nausea and depression. By day 4 of no medication in the system, I was experiencing random bouts of crying for absolutely no reason.

That culminated in an explosive (no pun intended) all-out fight with boyfriend following the 4th of July fireworks show we attended. I had a panic attack, for the first time in over four years, and it was absolutely TERRIFYING experiencing a panic attack while coming off of the medication that I started taking to stop having panic attacks in the first place. After a few more days of essentially balling up on the couch, things started getting better, and I think I’m finally through the worst of the symptoms. I still feel a little light-headed when I stand up, but other than that I feel almost…normal?

Being able to go about my daily life and not have severe, debilitating anxiety attacks is pretty amazing. My band had a performance last Saturday that didn’t go as well as I might have hoped, but it was good to learn that I could get through that and be totally fine. I wasn’t even nervous when I went on stage, and for someone who was terrified at the thought of singing karaoke a year ago, that’s a pretty huge step. Doing it without medication? Even better.

I’ve been pretty good about keeping up with my diet and exercise too, and I’ve been enjoying testing out healthy new recipes in my kitchen with fresh ingredients I pick up at the farmer’s market on Saturday mornings. Saturday mornings are also time that I get to spend with a good friend, and that in and of itself is a huge, positive step, and a case study in how far I’ve come. When I met this particular friend, I really didn’t have a lot of friends. My therapist had been encouraging me to try to meet new people outside of my department, so I poked around on myspace half-heartedly for a while and stumbled onto a profile for a grad student who also loved the Deadliest Catch and was looking to meet new people. We chatted on myspace for a few days (bonus points to her for rolling with this and not thinking I was totally creepy) and eventually met up for coffee. I embrace all the cliches here when I say it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. It’s pretty amazing to think about how far I’ve really come in the last year, isn’t it Ladypants?

Here, a glimpse at some of the healthy yummies I’ve been experimenting with:

One of my all time favorite salads - mixed greens, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and a little bleu cheese with fat free raspberry vinigarette.

Fingerling potatoes, corn on the cob, and baked tilapia. Delicious.

Baby beets and carrots with fresh cilantro and pomegranate basalmic vinegar. I added beet greens at the end for extra flavor. Yummy!

I’m doing pretty good with eating healthy and exercising lately. I’ve lost almost 5 pounds, and I finally feel like my weight loss is back on the right track. Yay for that! I’m even more excited about this because it’s been a terrible, stressful week (more on that later). I’m in the final days of weaning myself off of Effexor, which I’ve been taking for about 3 years, and the withdrawal has not been fun. I feel dizzy, nauseous, jittery, and lethargic.  I’m hypersensitive to everything, and the tiniest things are making me want to crawl into bed and cry. This happened when my dosage was reduced from 75 to 37.5 mg too, and since I’ve been through the withdrawal process once before I have a lot of hope that things will balance out in a few more days. It just sucks in the meantime. To top it all off, there have been new developments with grad school, and I’m seriously thinking about quitting. Again.

Anyway. I thought it would be fun to start taking pictures of some of the everyday things that make up my life. So here are some pictures of what I’ve been munching on this week…

BLT Wrap with Watermelon


Friday Morning Breakfast


Dinner Salad


Instead of dwelling on how much I hate being in grad school, I’m trying really hard to focus on my friendships and stay positive in my life. Coffee with a friend and a walk around the farmer’s market goes a long way. I remember the times before I had a lot of secure, strong friendships and remind myself to look back once in a while and see how far I’ve come in the past few years.

Something I couldn’t have done two or three years ago:

My band, Jackson Blue, at our debut performance on June 17th.

I Heart Thursday.

Posted: June 2, 2011 in anxiety, healing, OCD, weight loss

Friday isn’t bad either, because it’s massage day. Tomorrow I also have some therapy scheduled with my first therapist, who I haven’t been seeing very much lately, since I’ve been working with my OCD therapist. It is always good to check in with her, and it’s pretty amazing to see how far I’ve come since I started working with her. She often says she wishes she had a picture of me when I first came in to see her, and would huddle down in the easy chair in her office and attempt to become as invisible as possible. It is pretty incredible to think about the things I was terrified of then that I’m doing on a regular basis now without even thinking about it…traveling, meeting new people, spending time in social settings…just to name a few. When I started seeing the therapist, I wouldn’t have even been able to contemplate joining a band, because it opened me up to rejection and nerves. It’s good to be at this vantage point looking back on that progress.

As far as today goes, I’m off to a little bit of a slow start, but I’m getting on top of things. I treated myself to sleeping in until almost 10 this morning and enjoyed listening to the rain outside. It was soothing and very rejuvenating. I made it back to my house from house sitting at about 10:30, and after catching up on email and such I’m ready to hop on the treadclimber and get my work out on. I think after that and a shower I’ll work on my research for a little bit and get ready for band practice tonight. I love band practice, and it’s typically a high point in my week. This week we’re working on polishing off all the songs we’ve learned in order to be ready for our first show, which is coming up in just over two weeks. I’m nervous but excited! Tomorrow I’m going to start putting together outfits for band promotional photos – another exciting step forward!