Frank and I celebrated our 25th anniversary early in 2021. For such a milestone, it was a little of a let down. Covid put a damper on the ability to travel much, so I didn’t spend 2020 making any grand plans other than what was in my mind.
Turns out, my bestie and her husband celebrated their 25th IN 2020. She wins. Literally no chance to do anything. Though I think she said that very night was the first night they allowed eating outside of the restaurant shortly after the initial shutdown. So there’s that. But for them, that was the extent of marking of this milestone.
Well, leave it to Melanie — the poor woman has been trying to make it to Hawaii for as long as I can remember. And still, the restrictions there are iffy, even in some areas now. But that doesn’t stop her. Moving right along, she asked the travel person on the other end of the line where else she could go that was lovely and tropical mid-October. The answer?
The British Virgin Islands of St. Kitts & Nevis.
The second she shared the news, I went right ahead and invited ourselves. So quickly that I paused after and told her I was half-kidding, just in case she wanted to hang up on me for encroaching on her romantic anniversary celebration. Not at all. She and I squealed like school girls. We were vacationing together…in paradise! By that night, we were booked in the same resort and starting to make plans for our outings once there. Mind you — it was April. We will be like this until we leave.
Back in 2017, I started this blog to track my journey to regaining my health. Which, for the most part I did. I lost -100 pounds and regained my sense of who I am. Strong, able, funny, active, and up for fun. That was the journey of the first two years — then in the latter half of 2018 I was diagnosed with a touch of breast cancer. I owe it to my lifestyle change that they found it so early (stage 0/1). Thank goodness. One lumpectomy and some radiation later and I was on my way back to “normal” after a short four months.
I’m happy to report that I am still healthy, moving into year three cancer-free AND I have maintained my weight loss. However, on that front, I’ve entered the “danger zone”.
Another non-secret is that I had weight-loss surgery. I was tipping the scales at 300 pounds and I wasn’t able to gain any traction to lose on my own. I had tried EVERYTHING. Literally. WW, Nutrisystem, intermittent fasting, W30, paleo, starvation. All would work for about 10 pounds and then it was like a rebound reaction, my body would negate whatever I was doing with a plateau and then massive gains. It seemed counter-intuitive. The less I ate, the more my body worked against me. The more I ate, even of healthy, whole foods, the reaction was much the same. All the years of yo-yo’ing had not done a body good.
I needed help, a tool to jump start my journey, and for me, WLS was it. I searched for a surgeon and found a great one in Dr. Long. July 31, 2017, I was rolled into the surgical studio and I came out with a second chance. It was the hardest work I’d ever done in my life.
The danger zone for most WL patients is around the 3-year mark. A few things happen around this time: 1) we’re far enough removed from the surgery and the fight that THIS feels normal — it’s easy to forget what it felt like to live before surgery; 2) It’s easy to get lazy with exercise and eating choices. Sure, I still can’t eat the calories I used to consume, thankfully, but I can make poor selections for the calories I do consume. And I can sit down and lose myself in writing rather than getting my butt out the door for an early morning walk; and 3) some of us push it. Eat just a little more than our stomachs appreciate. Like the frog in the pot of water that slowly boils – over indulging over time will indeed stretch the stomach which makes way for more calorie consumption and ultimately weight gain down the road. It absolutely happens.
I have fallen pray to #2. I am not as vigilant over what I consume and how hard I go at exercise or how often. It all starts so innocently – a little dab of cream cheese on a small bite of bagel and before you know it, I’m saying yes to Chips Ahoy and no thank you to an orange. Seems like such a small shift, but over time it makes a big difference.
So, St. Kitts is coming at a good time. At a time before I’ve lost too much traction. It’s given me a goal — a shallow goal — but a tangible one. I have a swimsuit I bought that I fit in, but I don’t look quite like I’d envisioned I would when I bought it. Too many lumps and bumps and waves going on. But I realize I have time. If I use it wisely — I have time to hit my initial weight loss and fitness goals that I set for myself wayyyyy back when I signed up for surgery. My goal was to hit 175 and to be fit. I am within 20 pounds of the weight goal, which I know I can hit just by tweaking and taking seriously what goes in my mouth. Tracking and pre-planning always helps with that endeavor. But the fit part? I’m running outta personal motivation. I need some accountability.
My friend Sally just had her second baby. She’s super cute and super brave. She’s digging in and reclaiming her body and recording her journey along the way and posting on Tik Tok and IG. She has no idea how motivating she’s been in sharing her journey and being so raw about it. It gave me an idea. She has a trainer. Someone to be accountable to, someone to help push her towards her goals even when she wanes in her own focus. That’s not a magic formula. That’s brilliant. And I can do that, too.
So today, I have a call with a trainer. I’m both excited and terrified. Michelle is legit — a neighbor of my friend Bea, she is a fitness and nutrition coach whose focus appears to be HIIT — my nemesis. My body feels too old for high intensity intervals, but I am going to trust the process and be upfront about my creaky body – my bad knees, my tired back, my poor core – honest but not whiny. Deep inside, I carry an athlete within me. Always have. Time for her to come out and play again! This girl’s got goals!
So, here is step one — accountability – I’m taking this part of the journey public again here on the blog, and maybe I’ll even figure out IG stories — who knows? We’ll see if this old girl can learn new tricks!
Step two — I’m going to start working with Michelle throughout at least the next 12-16 weeks. By then I should be a) back in the groove; b) at or close to my weight loss goals; and c) fitting into my suit in a way that I will be comfortable come beach time!
I am committed to not living in the 3-year post-surgery danger zone. I didn’t come this far or fight this hard to sit down and slide backwards. So, thank you Sally, for being brave and paving the way for me to see myself and to take back charge of my body and my health. I’m excited to follow in your footsteps.