Friday, September 12, 2008

3 Years Today - and That's a Wrap, Folks!

Well, today is the 3 year anniversary of my weight loss surgery. I hover around 163 give or take 2 pounds, and I'm happy. I wear a Size 8 when I'm lucky, and a Size 10 the rest of the time. I feel great, I eat to hunger and so long as I avoid sugar and do my exercise (Bikram Yoga is my exercise of choice) I maintain my weight easily.

My band is just right - I run into problems maybe once or twice a month, which let's me know it's still working :) The rest of the time I eat smaller portions than 'normal' folks but by no means is it ridiculously small. Breakfast may be 1 egg with 1 piece of toast; lunch is 1 oz of cheese, 5 crackers and some nuts; dinner is 3-4 oz. of fish and some veggies and maybe a baby potato. I snack here and there.

Life is good, and I love my band and am happy I had weight loss surgery!!! Now, on with life. I teach Bikram Yoga which I love and am so happy I found it - the first exercise I could love. It keeps me honest and I love that about it. I'm wrapping up this blog here with this post. However, I have others on here where you can keep up with me. I am also on facebook (jenn steff) if you ever have lapband questions!

Thanks all for your love, support and for reading :)

Now I look at this and think, "Who is she???"....

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Eating When Sick

After being sick since Monday, I finally thought a trip to the doctor was in order. Based on my symptoms, he called it out as Walking Pneumonia. It sounds more dramatic than it is - 3 days of antibiotics, an inhaler to help with the hacking cough, supplemented with dayquil/nightquil and advil....and rest, rest, rest.

I'm fortunate to have no intestinal distress, stomach issues or nausea. So that means I can effectively eat normally; however, when I am sick, I tend to want carbs. Not copious amounts, or inappropriate ones, but more than I'd usually want. So last night I made chicken noodle soup from scratch; today, I got some Tom Yum Gui while I waited for my RX but actually accepted the white rice...and so on. But my weight seems about the same (for this time of the month), and I'm not pigging out - it's just different. But it's ok, I'm not eating McDonald's or cupcakes; just finding I need (or want? or both...) a little more "white carbs" than normal.

Anyway, here's to wellness! And soon!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Jenn Goes to Bikram Yoga Teacher Training!

Hello! Well about two weeks ago, I made a big decision. I wanted to share it with my closest friends and family first, as well as a few clients who will be impacted by this...I am going to go to Bikram Yoga Teacher Training!

Now, for those of you who don't know much about this, it's basically Yoga Boot Camp. You are removed from normal life for 9 weeks, and while there, you are in session from 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 p.m. (minimum) Monday - Friday, including two 90-minute hot yoga classes a day, lectures on everything from yoga history to anatomy to voice projection to how to run a studio; and then of course, memorizing the 90-minute Bikram dialogue verbatim, and being testing on it and your own understanding/performance of each posture. Saturday, you have one class at 8 a.m. and then you are "free" (to study, practice and study, and study...) the rest of Saturday, and all of Sunday.

Because this blog is really dedicated (though at times I'm sure it hasn't been clear...) to my weight loss, weight loss surgery, food struggles, diet, etc. I decided to create a separate Bikram teacher training blog. You can access it here:

On the She Shrinks blog, I will continue to post and talk about my experience but from the weight loss angle - struggles with eating, exercising this much and the impact on my body, successes and challenges that are relevant to the WLS community. That said, I hope some of you, my WLS peeps, will follow me as I go to training!

It takes place in Acapulco, Mexico, and I leave on April 5, returning on June 8. The blog has a handful of posts up about preparation, so if you're interested, check it out!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Ok, She Bravely Posts....

Now, I could pick out everything wrong with my body....but instead, I'm gonna say "WOW!" and be happy with how far I've come!

A little bit of yoga on the beach, not perfect - now this posture I would love to pick apart, and you yogi people can see all of the corrections I my defense, I was not in 105 degrees, and I was balancing on a bed frame! :)

Friday, March 07, 2008

In Striking Contrast to That Last Post...

Oh dear. Cabo was not good to me. Well, I lie. It was fantastic! But oh, the calories, the laying around, the gluttony...boy, it was fun! Still, the scale read out was abysmal and will not be posted here until I go to task on some serious clean-up. Shouldn't take too long, but as usual, I am stunned at my body's ability to pack on so much weight so fast! Crazy, but a good reminder. (And not to worry, it was no where near the 17 pounds I packed on last summer when I went to Europe lap-bandless).

I am going to put up a better picture of me in the 2-piece soon (by better, I mean without Jill's thumb in the corner). It's a right of passage, I think, to bravely post the 2-piecer photo. No, I'm not a Baywatch chick, but for my age and history, I have to say, I paraded around happily as a clam in my suit(s) and had only the typical girl worries ( my boob falling out?) :)

Thursday, February 28, 2008


I just wanted to report the good news. After 2 and a half years, a few setbacks and a stubborn body at times...having started at 262 pounds, today I broke the 100-pound mark weighing in at 161.2! Yay, me! Not too far to go now....

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Nice Weigh-In Today!

That's 99.8 pounds lost. I thought about grabbing scissors and chopping off my hair to get there...and yes, of course I tried to pee (again) and even made an attempt at a #2....but no luck.

So, maybe in the next few days. I'm weighing every other day now; I couldn't stay focused just yet with 1x/week, so Jill suggested every other day and see how that goes for me - and that has been more reasonable. I'm also practicing not freaking out when the number is unappealing. Anyhow, Tuesday is my 'official' day, so I'm posting the results!

Only .2 pounds to go to the big 100 pound mark; and .5 more BMI to no longer be "overweight"!!!. By the way, I've NEVER seen a number this low on the scale in any memory I have. I remember 135 in 5th grade (!!!!) and then 180's in junior high/high school. So, today was very exciting! :)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Have I Arrived?

I have been asking myself this question a lot lately, with my new focus on a non-numbers-ruled life. When does it make sense to say, "Yep, I'm here!" and move on in life, vs. when does it make sense to be vigilant and keep pushing. This is where climbing an actual mountain does have appeal: You hit the top, there is no place else to go, so you turn around, go down - having indeed, "arrived."

So, for example, today I went to yoga - twice. I went to Hot Power Vinyasa with Saiko this morning with Jill for an ass-kicking 10 a.m. class that more than got me my money's worth. I can pretty much hold my own in Power now; I can do all the Planks and side planks and even Wheel (basically a backbend you pop up into from the floor), which I did 3 times, holding to a count of 10 the third time. I watch skinny girls all around me who aren't strong enough or lack the stamina; I'm not dissing them - as some days, I am one of "them" - but my point being, I am, generally speaking, strong, capable, focused and disciplined at this practice.

Then, later in the day, at 4 p.m. after Jill got called into work unexpectedly, I decided to hit a Bikram class at my usual studio - again with Saiko, so it was a sure thing in terms of quality. I did the yogic thing and had no expectations, just promised myself to take it one posture at a time. And guess what? I had a great practice, just nice, good flow and I even held Camel for a full minute in the second set (a little treat she pops in when the class is full of regulars who, as she says, "can handle it") - which I love! Again though, maybe 4 of us did it to the end, the other 20 or so coming out early. No dissing, no comparing really - it's just to say I am again capable, disciplined and seemingly strong and determined enough to get it done.

So let's look at the big picture of Jenn (no pun intended). 
  • Size 8 or 10, certainly not fat in a way that stands out in a crowd any longer; yeah, still kinda a "big girl" but honestly, even in boutique fare I'm usually a Medium. So maybe I'm a "medium girl..." 
  • I can exercise in 105 degrees for 3 hours in a day, and do it well with discipline and success (mostly :)
  • No health issues to speak of, knock on wood
  • Loads of energy, stamina and general happiness with myself and my life, and, in some moments, my body
Isn't this enough??

But here again is my glitch: The scale doesn't say I've arrived. And so I will carry on, but I'm working super hard to hold the above truths in the forefront of my thinking, rather than dismissing them with "yeah, but I still" 

So that the scale is one factor of many; rather than the only factor. Let's be yogic about it - Bikram yoga has 26 postures, if you can't do one well, does that mean your whole practice is shit? No way! It means you have one area to work on (er, or a few, in most of our cases). So I can't always kick out in Standing Head to Knee; but that has no impact on my ability to do say, Cobra. My notion, having come to me as I type this, is to consider the scale a posture, and keep it in perspective that there are 25 others that I ought to consider in the mix of my weight loss success. And rarely, RARELY, is anyone perfect at all 26. Again, Bikram says, "you get the full benefit of a posture by trying to do it 100% correctly" - so I'm going to keep trying to get my weight "100% correct" and know that many other things are already there!

We'll see where it goes! Overall, I don't want to give an impression that I'm miserable with myself; I think me and the shrink are just working hard on these last few things before I end seeing her, and with that, I'm thinking and focusing on our topics a lot so as to be as productive as possible.

On a totally separate note - Jill and I are going to Mexico on Sunday (next)! It was a semi-impromptu decision based on (a) her stress level lately and (b) her biz partner is about to have a baby, whereby she will be tethered to her coffee shop for a good few months. 

Maybe you'll even be treated to a pic of me in a bathing suit! We'll see how brave I am. Hmmm...if I can post a pic of me in a 2-piece here, perhaps that will indicate I have arrived :)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Still Fat...

Well, not fat, really, but still 'overweight' and still fighting my last little bit (8 pounds) of apparently tar-like fat that is affixed to my bones like thick paste. Really now, would'ja just let me have this, oh body of mine??

Apparently not. But I digress.

So, the "no weighing" has been a mix of terrifying, annoying, baffling and uncomfortable. Nothing good in it - yet. I've mostly stayed off the scale, and frankly do better when Jill hides it from me. Sometimes when it's there, I'm like an alcoholic - I can resist, resist, resist...and then in a weak moment, I can't stand it anymore and hop up on it and ... damn. Bad Jenn. Honestly, that first week, I didn't weigh at all; when I did, I was 164.2 (up .4) which is essentially inconsequential in my mind. No problem. The following week, I had access to the scale and thought I'd willpower myself NOT to weigh! Well, I failed, and weighed - complete with PMS bloat - and found my old habits dying hard: 165.2? WHAT?! I suck. I am a failure. I need to be punished. Don't eat. Extra exercise for you today. Shame on you.

This is how it is .... sometimes. Other times, like the day I weighed a whopping 166, I was able to say "um, hello, you've not 'eliminated' in a while, you drank a shitload of water after yoga tonight and just finished dinner....oh, and you're still bloated." So no big deal.

The goal here is to aim for Reaction #2, vs. Reaction #1 most (if not all) of the time. But it's like teaching a very old (re: almost 37) dog new tricks. How do I change this thought pattern? I guess I do get how, since sometimes I do so successfully. Sometimes I can weigh in and not have it ruin my whole day, or dictate it at a minimum, when the number isn't what I wanted to see. Other times, well, not so much.

So my current (semi-) final frontier on this particular topic is to get over this! To end the notion that my day/how I feel about myself is dictated by the number - but rather, I decide how my day is going to look, trust myself to do it right (most of the time), and know that in the end, I'm in good order even if I'm still technically "overweight." Eek. That is a HARD sentence to even write (my stomach just turned over), much less internalize. So I guess I'll get going on that now...

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Numbers Suck.

So, I'm breaking up with my therapist. Not that she did anything wrong, it's just time. I started with her just before I got my lapband about 2.5 years ago. She specializes in eating disorders and is a credit to her profession. But I'm doing well, I'm comfortable in my life (mostly) so I suggested we break up. She was good with it, but asked for a transition period of 3 months....I said, "How about one month?" We agreed on two. Yeah, seems long, but it's not like I went for 6 free insurance-covered sessions to tackle a little hiccup in my life - this has been long-term, deep work, and I'm good for transitioning carefully.

That said, since she is the eating disorder expert, I've been using these last sessions to talk about food issues and weight issues. Seems like a good spend of my therapy-dollar, no? This week we talked a lot about numbers.

Numbers suck. Let me show you some:

- When I was somewhere between 9-13, I remember counting up my calories for the day with my mom (1200, of course). I was at 1197...she said "Well, you can go try and inhale 3 calories if you like."
- Age of my first diet: 5
- Pounds lost on said first diet: 23 (I gave up Kool-Aid and desserts)
- Highest weight: 262 (a
- Lowest weight: In 5th grade, I remember I was already tipping the scales at 135. The next thing I remember is high 180ish most of the time.
- Clothes size seems to speak to everyone...."what are you? at 2? 4?" In L.A., a 4 is seriously obese. That is insane.
- Last, the numbers place that sucks most: THE SCALE.

Why do we use this crude and brutal tool to evaluate our self-worth daily? Oh wait, that's just me that does that. And my therapist informed me, "That's sick. Let's just get that out on the table." Really? Honestly, I've used my weight as the day's gauge of my value for oh, looks like about 32 years...if the number is good (that is, lower than the day before), then I'm a good girl. If the number goes up - no matter if I'm bloated, having pooped or just happened to eat a big dinner - then I am the requisite piece-of-shit (POS) of the house. No, of society. Really, I do think like this. She said, "What would you feel if after a week you gained weight?" My response, "That I failed for an entire week, rather than just the usual one day." Oy vey, Jennifer.

Now, don't think me a giant headcase. I'm not...not so much anymore, anyhow. But it's still a daily struggle not to use these numbers as my own personal little report card on The State of Jenn. Good Jenn eats *perfectly*, exercises with vigor *every single day* and is energetic and motivated *at all times.* Bad Jenn skips a day of hot yoga. She eats a potato, even a small one is a sin, even if it fits in the day's calories. Bad Jenn is a lazy-sac-of-shit on a Sunday when it's rainy and cold.

Ok, not always. And that is the good news! Now I can do all the "Bad Jenn" things and balance them out with the Good Jenn achievements. That said, I am setting a goal to wake up and instead of my first thought being "How will I lose weight today?" it will be "How am I going to spend my day?"

Step 1: Get off the bloody scale. My therapist said to go a week without weighing myself. Somehow, this seemed equivalent of asking for me to give up my Mac for a week, or my iPhone. Or something of critical value. So I called on my way home and asked Jill to just hide it. Get it out of here for a week. What is the worst that could happen? I gain a few pounds (she suggests, cringing and having her stomach turn over)? See, that's my visceral response. And it blows. Because even if I did, would the world really end???

What she did remind me is this: I'm eating well and not struggling with it much at all. I'm going to hot yoga almost daily - and with a joy and excitement I've never been able to integrate with exercise before. I'm doing it all right! And what the scale says really doesn't change that fact. So here we go - a week without weighing. I wonder how I'll fill that time....

Thursday, January 31, 2008

I Think I Have a Tapeworm

Really. Look:

That's 164.4, folks!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Pressure Me, Baby!

So we got this pressure cooker for Christmas which has proven to be a fabulous thing for the lap-bander. Tender meat, soupy/stewy foods. Tonight I adapted a recipe from a local foods class Jill and I took a few months ago. The original was watery, and too salty. Here's what I made - if you don't have a pressure cooker, you can just cook it for 3 hours. If you do, it's 15 minutes to cook.

Aromatic Braised Beef Stew

8 oz. grass-fed stew beef
1 tbsp. high heat canola oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup red wine
1/4 cup tamari (or soy sauce)
3 cups chicken or beef stock/broth or water
1 star anise pod
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. fennel seeds
3 nickel-size rounds of fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. shallots, minced
1 large carrot, sliced
1 half onion, sliced
3/4 c. long grain brown rice OR hulled barley (bulk at natural food stores)
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
2 cups chard, kale or greens of your choice

In a cast iron skillet (ideally), brown bite-sized pieces of beef in canola oil. When all sides are nicely browned and carmelized, set aside. Deglaze pan with a spash of red wine, add garlic and shallot and cook for a few minutes.

In a pressure cooker, put wine, water and stock. Add aromatics, rice, and vegetables (except mushrooms and chard). Stir in beef. Bring to a boil; place lid on cooker and bring up to pressure. Cook 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, about 5 minutes before cooker is complete, saute mushrooms and greens in the skillet used for beef until both are soft.

When pressure cooker is done, run under cold water and let pressure release. Remove aromatics (cinnamon, star anise and ginger rounds). Stir in mushrooms and greens. Eat!

Try it out if you one...I wanted to blog it so I could remember what I did! It was yummy!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Lose Weight, Lose Points...

So, I entered my new weight into my Weight Watchers point tracker and it prompted me to re-evaluate my points. I was allowed 24 points (at 50 calories or so each, so 1200 calories) - well, since I've dropped down to 167.4 - and this isn't a complaint - I'm now allowed 22 points (1100 calories). There's always the 35 extra points/week, and all the exercise extra points I get, but I try to never use those. I think I can keep to it - but man, 24 seems hard some days - 22?? Oy. But, look at that ticker - it's worth it! So close!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Survived the East Coast!

We just got back from 10 days back east, and somehow, I managed to lose weight. Could've had something to do with the intestinal flu I got in Pittsburgh; or maybe my body just getting a break from it's usual routine made it let go of some stuff. Who knows, but I'm glad for it.

Food whilst traveling is hard. It's tough to eat out all the time, or visit people who very graciously make sure there is a ton of stuff to eat - and often it's not the usual things you would have at home. Lots of chips and dips and stuff like that...and hours of visiting where you just keep picking at it all. That said, I did pay attention and other than a couple desserts, really didn't overeat at all (though I did eat some things I normally wouldn't, because they were there). I only had one PB the whole time, which is great with climate change and flying and all that!

We hit NYC, Pittsburgh and then my hometown in PA for my dad's retirement. All three of my sisters came too, along with two husbands and Jill. My dad had a great time, as did all of us - but from a weight loss perspective, it is so nice to be home! Jill and I have been basking in simple fish/veggie dinners, snacks of nuts, cheese, crackers...I missed my smoothie shop, coffee, etc. Oh, and how we both missed our yoga practices! We went to Power Vinyasa Tuesday, and Bikram last night (yes, I've converted Jill and she is now doing Bikram too!! We went in NYC and it was brutal, but we loved it). It just feels good to be back to exercising and eating healthy. Who'd a thought I'd say that a couple years back??

Here's a little shot of the sisters with my dad, bidding farewell to his funeral home!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

200th Post!

Wow, it's been a long 2 1/2 years since started blogging my lap-band adventure - and like all WLS folks, I've had my ups and downs...but overall, boy, am I happy! Today a girl at the coffeeshop was like "Jenn, wow, you keep getting smaller and smaller - I didn't even realize that was you in line!" While really it was just the outfit, I think, I can think back to those 260+ days, when I was in a sense, double size. I sure did look like a different girl standing in line (about to order a double tall soy mocha and a biscotti...every day) vs. today's girl, who gets a double tall latte and nothing to eat. Back then, lunch was a carb-festival of some nature - pile of Thai noodles, a big fat 1000-calorie "healthy" I sit and munch on my 1/4 cup of tuna salad with 5 water crackers, and I'm good to go. Dinner was half a large Pagliacci pizza (oh, how I do miss thee!), or a mountain of white rice 'garnished' with tofu and veggies, or two big enchiladas stuffed full of beans and cheese...with rice on the side. The other night, I had 2.5 oz. of chicken and 3/4 c. of green beans with a few sips of red wine.

Now then, I don't claim to eat perfectly every day, but it is true that since I now exercise nearly daily, I find it hard to "blow it" by eating crappy when I've worked my bootie off in a brutally hot yoga class, or running, or at the gym. And while sugar was a daily mainstay, it's now an occasional treat! When I think back, it is pretty amazing where I've come from...sadly, I'm still technically overweight (BMI must be 25.0 or less to be "normal"), and still not quite to my 155 goal. So, we'll carry on! :)

Before I go, a little picture view of the situation: Now and then... it sure could be worse! But I'm driving it home - hoping for 155 by my birthday in June. Based on my typical weight loss of about 3/4/pound per week, I should make it!

Oh, and why yes, that is a Size 8 dress! Thanks for asking :)