Our Annual Photo Shoot

So, a little over a year ago I made a post with a picture of my oldest sister and me. The caption said it was a sneak peak and a post would be coming soon. Well, that post never happened until today. It was regarding our annual photo shoot that we are clearly dropping the ball on this year. That’s disappointing, but life has happened quickly this year, and there was no planning. Anywho…

Once again, it was time for our annual photo shoot. This was our third year. It was decided that instead of doing a boudoir shoot that we would just do a glam/beauty shoot. We didn’t do all of the preparation that we did the first two years. I think we both didn’t have very high hopes and weren’t necessarily looking forward to this shoot. We had goals that we didn’t meet, which was a little disappointing. We did remember that the ultimate goal was a feel good photo shoot.

We had a different makeup artist this time, Kawambee D. She actually came to the photography studio to apply our makeup. We had fun, and since it was a beauty shoot, we ended up with some bling on our faces. Our photographer had some new hair for us, and it was gorgeous. The music and the vibe were just right as usual, and magic was made. Let’s get into this by looking at a few pics from our shoot. Enjoy!

Walking into my destiny
I’m an Amazon
Wonder if that dream is to big…No girl, go for it.
Sisterly Love

Makeup by: https://www.instagram.com/kawambeed/

Photos by: https://www.instagram.com/pdillonphotos/

Until next time,

It’s Me

The Journey Continues

If you read my previous post, then you know I had lapband surgery. I was down 50 pounds and forging forward with working out and eating better. Then I was hit with a knee injury. I tore my ACL and medial meniscus in my left knee. I have pretty much been at home since September 17th. I had knee surgery October 21st. I have not been able to do cardio. I’ve only been able to do upper body workouts for the most part. I have gone through all types of emotions since I was injured.

One of the common judgments that people make regarding people who have had weight loss surgery is that we have taken the easy way out. Well, I can definitely vouch for the fact that it is not easy. At this point all I can ask is, “Easy where?” I still love to eat, I am still an emotional eater, so like I stated before, this injury has taken me through all of the emotions. In the beginning I was doing well food wise, but mentally I was challenged because I could no longer do my workouts. Although I was being physically challenged because of my significant decrease in mobility, my biggest challenge was the mental aspects.

I felt quite discouraged from the beginning, but I also started feeling very much alone and lonely. This caused me to go to my place of comfort, food. Of course that is not the way to cope, but clearly it became my way again. Then I had the feelings of disappointment in myself that I would sabotage myself in that manner. If I could change one things about the injury, I would change the way I dealt with my emotions. It was hard to watch my muscle definition and stamina revert because of my limited mobility, and while I made some good choices food wise, I definitely made some poor ones.

I was beating myself up over this lack of progress, but through this ordeal, I would like to believe that I have experienced some growth. I never want to wallow in self pity about what could have been. My knee got messed up, and I messed up in the process of recovery. I am still here with more opportunities to do better. If you can learn anything from me, please let one of them be that “HAVING WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY IS NOT TAKING THE EASY WAY OUT!!!” The big picture for me is that I have not gained back the weight that I lost after being derailed/recovering for the past two and a half months. That is definitely a huge victory. I have a good way to go mentally and physically, but I am here to see where this journey will lead me.

Until next time,

It’s Me

The Journey to Accepting Me

I battled with whether or not I would even share my story because of how judgmental people can be, but no matter what, people will judge me for something.  If my story helps even one person, then it is worth it to be transparent.  Here goes:

After struggling for so many years and watching my health decline and quality of life suffer, I began heavily considering bariatric surgery. I had several signs along the way that lead me to believe that this was the way I needed to go. My struggles with my weight date back to childhood. It’s something I’ve always dealt with, but it really got out of hand once I moved away from home and started working.

Back in 2010 I had a doctor who kept recommending it to me. She basically told me that with my PCOS my body craves carbs, and I would have a difficult time trying to lose weight on my own. I was not ready to go that route and decided I would still try and do it on my own. The years after that were filled with multiple weight loss attempts through dieting, exercising, etc in varying stages and much with little to no success. The most success I had was prior to conceiving my son where I had lost about 40 pounds, and I had to struggle to lose each of those pounds.

Around June 2018 I joined a program that had workouts and meal plans incorporated. By September my back began aching and I had a pain down my leg like I had pulled a muscle. I went to an orthopedic doctor to get checked out. The doctor I saw was around my age. They did an x-ray and didn’t find anything. Of course I didn’t want anything to be wrong with me, but it’s hard to have no answers. The doctor left out of the room, then he came back and told me he felt like he’d be doing me a disservice if he didn’t come back and talk to me. He told me that about half of my body weight was fat, and that I might want to consider having weight loss surgery. He said that at my weight I should not be doing high impact exercises because that is too much impact/pressure on my joints. He said I should be doing lower impact exercises like swimming. I tell y’all, I literally cried in the car because he wasn’t telling me anything I didn’t know. I thought about all of my successes and failures and just cried. This doctor really gave me permission to stop doing those high impact exercises that were doing more physical harm than good. They were taxing on my joints. This was my first sign.

An OB/GYN that I had gone to undergrad with was doing these Maternity Talks on Facebook live where she would speak about obesity in pregnancy and other maternity related topics. During one of her talks she told us not to be afraid to seek help through weight loss surgery so that we can lose weight and have a healthier pregnancy. She spoke of the difficulties that women experience while trying to lose weight and some of the complications that can happen when the mother is overweight and pregnant. This was my second sign.

Then one right after another there were about three people that I followed on social media who got weight loss surgery. Two got gastric bypass and one got the duodenal switch. I felt like I was getting one sign after another. I had decided on the lapband for myself. Some of these last instances happened after I had already begun the consultation for bariatric surgery.

I had my first consultation on February 4th of this year, my second on March 11th, and my 3rd on April 8th. With my insurance, the requirements were to have three nutritional sessions over a 90 day period and to get a psychiatric evaluation. My third appointment was less than 90 days from the first one so I had to have an additional one. At that appointment I finally had questions, a page full to be exact. My doctor answered every question. One of the many things I really liked about him is that he did not try to push me one way or another towards any particular surgery. Looking online in these support groups, there’s so much good and bad mentioned about each of the surgeries. One thing we have to remember is that someone else’s experience may not be our own whether it is good or bad. We have to weigh the pros and cons to decide what is best for ourselves and our lives in general. I felt good about my decision to get the lapband, and I just had to wait on a surgery date.

May 14-17th I was in class for work, and I got a call from my doctor’s office telling me that the approval had come through, and they were calling to schedule the pre-op and surgery. I wanted to schedule it for my next day off which would have been that following Friday, but I was a little nervous and also wanted to give myself a chance at really trying the pre-op diet which was the Sugar Busters diet. I told them that I’d come in on June 6th for pre-op. It was an all day ordeal, but everything was good to go, and I went in the morning of June 7th for my surgery.  My crew was with me. Y’all, I was so nervous, but I was ready. I still had those thoughts in my head like, “Maybe I can try one more time, etc.” I remembered this one guy along the way who told me that I did not want to miss my window of opportunity, and I just knew that I needed to go through with it. I went in that morning, and they took great care of me. I came out of surgery just fine. That anesthesia is so difficult to wake up from. I made sure I thanked all of the nurses there for taking such great care of me. They took me into the room where my family was waiting for me, and I was excited to see them, although groggy. They wanted me to get up. I really wasn’t ready, but I knew how important it was to get up and get moving to make sure I could recover well, so I did. They discharged me, and we went home. Things were definitely not easy.

I went back to work on that Monday, and I felt very strongly that I really should have taken a week off. I just went through the motions of getting everything accomplished even though some days it was very difficult. All in all, my healing was going well. I was definitely a little hungry going through the beginning stages. As more food was incorporated things got a little easier. I made sure to walk for exercise everyday whether it was walking outdoors or doing a Walk Away the Pounds video by Leslie Sansone.

I was asked about joining an online support community, and at this point I was down about 50 pounds from the beginning of my journey. I joined the community. There were options of live workouts, prerecorded workouts and meal plans, etc. Once I got the clearance from my doctor to do other workouts, I joined in. I was doing very well. I was able to do movements I hadn’t been able to do in a long time. My flexibility and overall mobility was coming back, and I felt so strong. Then on September 16th, I had less than ten minutes left in a Tabata workout. I was doing burpees, and when I came down, my knee made the most gruesome sounds, and I knew it was bad. I had injured myself.

If you want to know how I am navigating on this journey to accepting me, please be sure to subscribe so that you will be notified of any future posts.

Thank you to those people who pushed me to tell my story because as they said, “People need to read it.  You don’t know who you might help.”

Until next time,

It’s Me

5 Signs You’re Not Eating Enough Protein | Nutrition | MyFitnessPal

Consuming enough protein is important for mood, hair growth and more.
— Read on blog.myfitnesspal.com/5-signs-youre-not-eating-enough-protein/

Protein is an important part of our diet, yet studies have shown that many of us, especially women, are not eating a sufficient amount of protein on a daily basis. When I evaluated my diet, it was over laden with carbohydrates. With the new things I have going on in my life, protein is the most important nutrient for me to ensure that I am taking in. Are you eating a sufficient amount of protein to sustain your body? Are you tracking your daily intake of macronutrients? Tracking is the one way that will let you know how much of each macronutrient you’re I taking on a daily basis.

28 Weeks-March 4, 2014-another hidden post

The progression of my pregnancy is great. As of today I am 28 weeks along.  I wish that I had been keeping a journal throughout.  I had great intentions of doing so, but they obviously did not pan out.  There were some very emotional times where things were a little difficult, but mostly things have been good. 
One thing I have noticed is that when someone is pregnant, people seem to think they can say whatever they want to you.  It’s infuriating.  I have allowed people to say all types of things to me and get away with it.  If I had responded to a lot of the ignorance, they would have said, “Oh, it’s just your hormones.”  This would have made me even more irritated.  I think that people don’t realize that perhaps the problem is that they’re being a complete and utter a**hole.  I don’t know why it must be this way, but it is. I think people and their insensitiv e comments have been the most irritating so far.  I try so hard not to be mean, although it may not seem like it.  It’s been a real struggle.  When you’re pregnant, there is so much going on in your mind, so much you want to talk about, but sometimes not enough people to share it with.  Instead of listening people tend to just want to give you unsolicited advice.  I will admit that there have been some days that I’ve felt as though I was on an emotional roller coaster and I literally could have just crawled into bed or into a corner and just bawled my eyes out just to relieve some of the tension. 
One of the great and scary things about pregnancy is watching your belly grow.  It’s like one day, you don’t even think you’re showing, but then the next day it seems as if out of nowhere, your stomach is so huge and you cannot function in a normal shirt.  I have gone to workout at home some days and put on a regular t-shirt, and it has been so tight.  It’s crazy because it doesn’t seem as though you’ve gained that much until you try on something that you were once able to wear comfortably and now are unable to fit at all.  I will admit that I have always been kind of scale obsessed to the point that I weigh myself at least once a day.  Since I’ve gotten so far along in my pregnancy, I cannot bear to weigh myself that often.  Now I might weigh myself once per week, if that.

It’s Me

Stop Being So Foolish!-hidden post from Dec. 25, 2013

A while back one of my coworkers approached my sister and me about healthy eating and living.  It all boiled down to the fact that he was selling a well known weightloss/nutritional shake.  He talked to us about it and mentioned a 90 day challenge.  He did the whole pitch about how inexpensive it was especially compared to eating out everyday.  First of all, he was obviously under the misguided impression that we both were eating out everyday.  We both cook and normally bring in something for lunch.  When we want to eat out, then we do. He also mentioned the obesity epidemic and wanting to help fight it.  I didn’t mind purchasing the shakes because I figured it would be fine for me to replace at least breakfast with one of them. I am a person who loves to cook and loves to eat a nice meal, not a shake, and so is my sister, but we both decided that we would try these meal replacement shakes anyway and at least do the 90 day challenge. I think during the first couple of weeks he gave me some free supplements, which I did not want because I hate taking pills.  I already have a few prescriptions, and that’s pretty much the only pills that I will take. He was checking up on me to see how things were going and said that if there was anything he could do to help to let him know.

In the meantime, he had added us on facebook and added us to his challenge group.  One of his other “business partners” also contacted me and asked me how things were going. I thought these people were genuinely interested in helping people, but then it was revealed to me that all they were/are in this for is to make money.  They put other people down who are not interested in selling the products.  They should realize that not everyone wants to be a salesperson.

Now I have a problem with people who have never had a weight problem or any type of health problems trying to tell me how easy it is to lose weight. First of all, a lot of people are unable to identify with the actual struggles that go along with it, so they really cannot empathize.  Secondly, some people have this preconceived notion that if you aren’t losing weight it’s because you’re just lazy.  They don’t think that food addiction is real. They don’t know about the limitations that excess weight puts on people’s bodies or that they may not be able to push their bodies any further because they have already abused them too much. To me if the only thing you have to do in the gym to meet your goal is to tone and not lose weight, then you really cannot identify with someone who needs to lose 100+ pounds.  They would have to work significantly different from you just trying to tone.

This guy put a status up on Facebook yesterday saying that if someone is in the gym and they look more out of shape than he does, then that person doesn’t need to say anything to him about fitness because he can’t hear it. This really irritated me because looks can be deceiving.  Just because someone looks out of shape, that does not mean that that person is out of shape.  It made me think about Drew Manning from http://fit2fat2fit.com/.  He is a personal trainer who wanted to be able to empathize with the people he would be working with, so he put his health in jeopardy by going from fit to fat to fit again.  He now knows some of the struggles and realizes that things are not as easy as he once thought they were.  I just imagined what if he would have been in the gym next to this guy we bought the products from and offered him some advice.  This guy might have been too close minded to receive it because he would have been looking at the outward appearance instead of listening to his words and figuring out if there was any truth to it.  There are a lot of us unfit people in the world who have a lot of knowledge to offer the world about weightloss.  Just because we have seemingly not been able to get it together, that doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t believe what we have to say.  It’s just a little irritating.

The next time you see someone who is seemingly unfit, please don’t be so quick to judge them because for all you know, this person could be on a fitness journey where they have already lost a significant amount of weight. 

Until next time,
It’s Me

It’s Been a Long Time-hidden post from Dec. 8, 2013

It’s been a long time since my last blog, a little over 4 months to be exact.  Things have really changed in my life.  One of them is pretty major.  I began to see a new doctor months ago.  This doctor looked at me as a human being, a woman who wanted to have a child, and he told me that he would give me what I wanted. He never once mentioned my weight or the fact that I have PCOS.  It was so refreshing.  My previous doctors acted as though I didn’t know that I was morbidly obese and need to lose weight.  That can’t be the only reason that I have been having problems conceiving.  I see women who are significantly heavier than I am who have children with no issues.  When you don’t look like people, sometimes they seem to dismiss you as insignificant. 

My new doctor had a plan of action for what he wanted us to do. He did a somewhat painful test to check for blockage in my fallopian tubes.  There was no blockage, but he said that even if there was some mild blockage, the test would have gotten rid of it, and that would significantly increase my chances of conception.  He put me on birth control for 2 or 3 months.  After that, I started clomid. I believe it was just 50mg. I took a pregnancy test in the wee hours of the morning of September 22nd. There were two lines meaning it was positive!!! I began to cry because I had taken so many pregnancy tests before that were negative. No matter what, there would only be that one line staring back at me. This was such a big shock.  I will say that my new doctor gave me hope on the first day that I met with him.  It wasn’t a question of if I got pregnant, but when. I wanted to tell the whole world as soon as I found out, but I only told my immediate family and a few close friends.  A few weeks ago, I finally told people on Facebook and at my job.  Now I am finally getting around to talking about it on here. As of today I am 15 weeks.  I will be 16 weeks on Tuesday. I have my next appointment on Friday. I hope that I get an ultrasound done on that day.  My first appointment, all they gave me was one ultrasound picture.  On my second appointment there was no ultrasound, but I got to hear my baby’s heartbeat with the doppler. I think I will get the 2D ultrasound done at 18 weeks just so that I will have something.

If you have PCOS and think that you cannot conceive, maybe it’s the treatment that you are receiving.  I have been through a few doctors and my current doctor was sent to me by God.  Don’t give up hope.

Until next time,
It’s Me

Putting it All Together-hidden post from July 1, 2013

Well for the first time since I got back from H3 I had started gaining weight. Since I got back home, I had gone down another 6 pounds which may not seem like much, but I had been consistent with it.  Well, the past few weeks I became a little discouraged. I think that I was so excited to write a testimonial for them and was expecting to see it. It’s been almost 2 months and I still haven’t seen it anywhere.  The person who said she was going to contact me never did, and I felt a little bad about the work I put in writing it.  I fell really hard back into a lot of old habits. I started feeling like I couldn’t come out of it.  I gained about 10 pounds.  I began feeling hopeless.  On Saturday evening I was visiting with my oldest sister and niece, and while over there, I just lost it and started crying. I cried because it sucks that I have to put in so much work. I cried because I have so far to go, and I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I cried because no matter what, there is no one else who can do this for me; it’s something that I have to do for myself.  I know that it’s not just me and other people have the same struggle, but in that moment it was just about me and my struggle.  I felt so overwhelmed.  I took out some of my literature from H3 and I began making notes.  I felt a little bit better.
I have decided to pick myself up and to make some small changes along the way.  I know it is not going to be easy, but I really want to be successful. I have joined in on the 30 day Green Smoothie challenge.  I have been in a BL weight loss challenge on Sparkpeople.  This week I posted a small loss instead of the gains I had posted for the past 2 weeks.  I have also joined in on an abs challenge on sparkpeople.  I look forward to success in all of my challenges.
If there is anyone else out there reading this, just know that it can be done.  There is nothing easy about it, but I believe in the end I will feel so accomplished. I have to celebrate the victories all along the way.  Keep up the fight.
Until next time,
It’s Me  

Hope for a Baby-hidden post from a June 20, 2013

Well, I’ll start off by saying that I have a new OB/GYN who happens to be a male. It’s a shame that he seems to care more about me and my desire to conceive than my female doctors. I hadn’t been sharing with anyone that I dreaded going to my doctors because they seemed to only look at me as a morbidly obese woman. I already know my weight and the fact that I am morbidly obese. They act as though I am the largest woman ever to attempt to have a baby. Well there are women out there who happen to be a lot larger than I am who have had no issues with having a baby.  My new doctor did not even mention my size. He just started talking to me about everything he could do to help me on my quest to conceive. I really appreciated his interaction with me, and it caused me to feel a little weepy. I feel like he is the first doctor to give me any hope.  He asked me if anyone had ever checked my tubes for blockage. No one has ever checked them. He needs me to come into the hospital for a procedure where they will check for blockage. He said that if there is blockage, everything such as the clomid has been a waste of time.  I look forward to the next step.

I will end this on a sad note. One of my college acquaintances who also has PCOS had recently announced her pregnancy on Facebook.  I was so excited for her and her husband especially knowing and understanding the struggle. I found out today that her pregnancy is no more. My heart really aches for them. I pray that they are able to get through this very difficult time and that they are blessed in the near future with a baby.  My prayers are with them.

Until next time,

It’s Me

My Experience at Hilton Head Health-hidden file from June 13, 2013

I have been overweight since I was a child.  I can remember on the first day of fourth grade telling a friend that I needed to go on a diet.  Looking back on it, it seemed like I was so old at the time, but was merely a young child.  As I got older, my weight problems have only increased.  Sure there were a few times where I was actually successful at weight loss, but the success was short lived.
I love watching weight loss shows because I enjoy hearing people’s stories and seeing their transformations at the end of their journey.  About two years ago, a show called “Heavy” came on, so I just had to watch it.  I enjoyed the show, and being from South Carolina, I was surprised to hear that the place on the show was located there.  I did my research and figured I would not be able to go there because it was not in my budget.  My husband said that he could send me to Hilton Head Health www.hhhealth.com or to one of the Biggest Loser locations.  I was interested, but I did not want to go because I felt it would be a waste of money since I was not mentally ready.  In those two years, I have auditioned for the biggest loser, done weight loss plans, and imagined myself losing weight, all without success. 
This year in January, I began working out in my home gym.  I overdid it and injured myself.  I was in and out of my various doctors’ offices and just still did not feel well.  I got to the point where I began to feel helpless and hopeless, and I felt like I really needed a new start.  I looked at H3 again and told my husband that I wanted to go because I needed somewhere that I only had to focus on myself.  H3 seemed like the most attractive place, and besides, I had pictured myself there so many times.  My husband and I put a plan in motion to get me to H3.  When I spoke with Michele Musulin and she was so friendly and encouraging, it made me feel like I would be right at home at H3. 
When it was time to go, I was excited, but nervous because three weeks seemed like a long time to be away from home.    Since Michele had already sent me the schedule for the week, I had gone over it.  I knew I wanted to try kayaking and I wanted to sign up for the hands-on cooking demonstrations.
During my first week, I tried the Shelter Cove kayaking, and I absolutely loved it!!! It was much easier than I thought it would be and so much fun.  It was so much fun that my cell phone decided to stay permanently on the adventure.  Kayaking was something I would have never felt comfortable attempting before my journey at H3.  Now I know it’s something I would try away from H3.  While there I also encouraged other guests to sign up for it. 
While at H3 I attended most of the available lectures as well as the hands-on cooking demonstrations.  I tried most of the workout classes.  There was such a wide variety of workouts; there is something for everyone.  Even when the classes seemed too difficult, I just wanted to push myself.  At the end of each class, I was always glad that I had pushed forward to completion. 
I am a person who loves good tasting food, so that was one of the more enjoyable experiences at H3.  They seemed to take pride in the flavor and variety of food offered.  Another thing I enjoyed was meeting all the great new people.  My favorite workout was probably Wii Dance because you get a workout that is just a lot of fun.  I also enjoyed the sunrise beach walks, water fitness classes, drums alive (really awesome class), kayaking, salsa dancing (I was pretty good.), cardio boxing (Thanks to Michael for encouraging me to try it.), and resistance band training.
Some of the most valuable things for me were the hands-on cooking demonstrations.  I attended the Grilling, Southern Comfort, and Desserts demos.  I love to cook and bake.  I especially love baking for others. It would be nice to have some ideas that I’ve tried that aren’t a caloric nightmare.  The classes that I took gave me some fresh new and healthy ideas to take home with me.  I also gained valuable information from the cooking demos, especially the pizza class with Chef Karla.  She provided lots of ideas. 
When I attended the Putting It All Together class at H3 on the Friday before my departure, I left the class in tears, happy tears of course.  I had been struggling with my triglycerides for a few years partly due to my insulin resistance.  This was one of the numbers that I was warned would probably increase before it decreased.  I was shocked to see that mine dropped a little over 50%; I was down 14 pounds and a little over 7 inches, and muscles that I had not seen in years were making an appearance. I felt so blessed in that moment just thinking about what a wonderful experience I had at H3.
When I arrived at H3, I met many great people, some with extended stays and others with short-term stays.  There were so many return visitors who talked about how wonderful their previous H3 experiences had been. I originally wished that I would never have to return to H3, but not long into my stay, I realized that it would actually be a great place to return for a boost from time to time.  On the day of my departure, as I sat in my car in the parking lot of the main building preparing to go home, I thought about how my stay at H3 seemed like a once in a lifetime experience because unlike some people, I don’t know if I’ll get to return.  I felt bad for the people who will never get to experience H3 as I did, but I also felt blessed for the opportunity.  I thought about all the changes, and I felt so grateful to all of the people that I met.  All the staff was so welcoming and just seemed to care about everyone’s well-being.
Since I’ve been home I’ve made the pesto pizza, stuffed turkey burgers, super soft chocolate cake with oreo cream filling, loaded baked potato salad, and my own version of the Andouille sausage.  I have been working out and tracking my food.  I keep thinking about the lectures I attended at H3 such as Mindful Eating, Nutrition for Health, and Goal Setting just to name a few and incorporating some of the things I learned in them.  I’m not saying that life is perfect since I got back home. I am still working 9 hour days during the week, but now I find time to work out. I try to make most of my meals healthy.  I think I will always hear the “Monkey Chatter” that Lisette  Cifaldi speaks of, but I pray that with the changes I am making, the “Monkey Chatter” will quiet down. 
They asked me to write a testimonial which I submitted about a month ago, but it hasn’t been posted yet. People wanted to know about my experience, so I am posting what I submitted to them.

Edit from August 2019-My testimonial has of course been submitted since this post. Below are a few pictures of some of the meals prepared there.