After 30 Days – The Results

In the month of May I had my sinus surgery after a non-stop year of sinus infections that started to impact my overall wellbeing. As I started to heal I noticed just how far from the basics I was living. After RNY Gastric Bypass Surgery you have to be so diligent with food, movement, and daily habits and here I was over 4 years out and being too “busy” to get to the business of weight management.

Too busy. It’s really the most basic excuse and there is to justify why I was no longer paying attention. Taking stock of how I was feeling, what I was eating, and how I was moving made me realize that I needed to hop back on the wellness train. I’ve gained some weight in the past couple years and I stopped journaling my food about 6 months ago. Once you start slacking on your routines the inevitable is coming. Regain is an epidemic with weight loss surgery. If you don’t stay diligent then you have the potential of going right back where you started from. I definitely didn’t want to do that.

So what do you do? You get right back on the horse! I know what works, I’ve done it before, and it was time to do it again. I decided to take 30 days and really go back to the beginning focusing on these core things:

Eat well
Stay hydrated
Increase Daily Movement
Keep a Food Journal
Meal Plan and Prep
Check in with Friends

These were the foundations of my beginning with weight loss surgery. I needed to go back to that kind of diligence. In looking for a plan to help with meal prep I decided to do the Whole 30 because it fit with my goals and there are limitless resources to assist you with doing it. You can find information about the Whole30 here: Whole30.

Primary Foods to Eat During Whole30:
Vegetables
Fruits
Unprocessed Meat, Seafood, & Eggs
Nuts & Seeds (no peanuts or peanut butter)
Certain healthy oils and fats

Primary Foods to Avoid During Whole30:
Junk food
Fast Food
Sugar
Processed Food
Alcohol
Dairy
Legumes
Grains
Bread
Preservatives
Caffeine

I have a complicated history with scales and weigh ins. I like that the Whole30 doesn’t want you to weigh yourself or take any measurements for 30 days. Just do the work and trust the results will follow. I let all of my readers and social media friends know what I was doing as a means of support. For me, it also keeps me diligent. If I tried to do this on my own and it became too challenging I know I’d be the first to quit if no one knew what was happening. I wanted to regularly check in. Not only did I get to support others, but their support was so healthy for me.

I spent 30 days reading labels of all my food diligently checking for sugar and preservatives. I planned all my meals and prepped weekly. I learned to coook with ghee to avoid the dairy part of butter and discovered new ways of introducing veggies into my food. My husband was not too thrilled at first with the Whole30 and he ended up loving the dinners we created and new methods of cooking. The best part is that we took the time to cook together and eat together which was something that we let our “busy” schedules convince us was impossible. It wasn’t our schedules, it was our priorities.

So what happened after 30 days?

Clearer skin
Better sleep
Easier digestion
More energy
No more daily coffees
No sugar cravings
AND
I lost 24lbs in 30 days which I absolutely didn’t expect!

After RNY Gastric Bypass many people believe that the “work” of weight loss is over. That’s actually where the work begins and you have to keep working it for a lifetime or you run the risk of the behaviors you had before to re-emerge. It’s never too late to STOP, cycle back to the beginning and get back to basics to get Back on Track!

Give yourself 30 days and get right back at it!

For tips, tools, and motivation be sure to like my page on Facebook!

Thank you!



Back On Track After Illness

I started to write a blog the other day about my sinus surgery. It really wasn’t until I started to write everything down that I noticed just how long my sinuses have given me problems. I actually first started presenting issues back in May of 2018. That was a year ago!

The past year has been amazing from doing my TEDx Talk, launching my book, and having my dream book signing at my favorite book shop Savoy. I was even nominated for an Athena award, celebrated 10 years with my husband, and moved! Did I mention that I teach POUND several days a week and take karate?

In the midst of all these great things I also took 10 rounds of oral antibiotics of increasing strength and duration, took prednisone for far longer than I ever wanted to, had a PICC line of antibiotics since my “severe persistent maxillary sinus infection” seemed to never go away. Through it all I rarely paused.

Figuring out I’m allergic to a host of plants, animals, and fungi and starting immunotherapy has been great but finally going in to repair my deviated septum and tool through my sinuses has been incredible. I sleep better, breathe better, and even though the first couple of days I felt like I was hit with a bat it is all worth it.

Now that I’m feeling better I got to see just how much this has affected me. I was always very diligent with journaling my food and meal prep but the past few months have been so draining that I barely kept up. It’s easy to make excuses when you don’t feel well. Being under the weather is always a great excuse to slack.

If you’ve been around these Blog parts for a while you’ll know that I’ve had a very unhealthy relationship with scales. It was bordering on obsessive and emotionally controlling. When I had RNY Gastric Bypass I only weighed myself at the doctors office until those appointments became less frequent. I then implemented what I call the Rumble Strip.

On a roadway the rumble strip is the lines placed in the asphalt beyond the white line. When your tires hit them it makes an alarming sound jilting the driver back to attention. My rumble strip is a pair of pants. I have a pair of jeans that I love. They fit well and the true test is how they fit fresh out of the dryer. If I ever want to check how I’m doing I’ll throw on those pants and let them be my guide.

I haven’t done it in a while and with my general slack and boatload of excuses I knew it was time. I put them on yesterday after 3 solid weeks of limited activity recovering from my surgery. They went over my hips and zipped just fine. The button, however, not my finest hour. I’ve officially hit the rumble strip and I’m finally feeling well enough to tackle it!

So many people ask about getting back on track. Not just after weight loss surgery but after any way that you’ve lost before and began the slow creep back. The best thing is always to go back to basics. You know what you did that worked so return there and begin again. The month of June I’m doing a 30 Day Re-Focus where I’ll return to my basics and get back on track.

What are Basics?

  • Count macros and calories
  • Journal all food (if you bite it write it)
  • Chart how I feel when I eat
  • Be sure I’m pausing and taking 10 seconds (read about that HERE)
  • Increase step goal to 15,000 per day
  • Move 60 mins per day
  • Meal prep!

What are NOT Basics?

  • Getting upset about gain
  • Isolating and not addressing the issue
  • Continuing to live in your excuses
  • Not trying to correct the behavior before it gets out of control
  • Hating yourself

Remember:

  • You cannot hate yourself happy
  • You cannot shame yourself thin
  • You can take steps to correct
  • You can reach out for help and accountability
  • You can bounce back
  • We can do it together
  • Give yourself 30 days

Before May 31st

  • Weigh yourself
  • Take measurements
  • Make sure you have a place to journal your food
  • Find an accountability partner or check in with me
  • Have at least 3 days of healthy and portioned meals ready to go
  • Be ready to take this challenge on!
  • NOTE: You will not weigh in or take measurements until July 1st. Feel free to put on your Rumble Strip pants to check progress if you NEED to see how you’re doing before July.

You’ll be amazed what 30 days of focus can do! Let’s do it together. I’ll be posting some free reference guides and helpful planning tips.

Farewell 2018

Thank you 2018. What a whirlwind year! Goals achieved, dreams realized, and relationships cultivated; tempered with loss of loved ones, physical health issues, and personal challenges. From the joy of publishing my book and speaking on the famous red dot of TEDx to the tragedy of losing my aunt, this has been a year.

What I’ll take from every joy and pain of 2018, is that life ebbs and flows moment by moment. We tend to trick ourselves into the newness of a year on January 1st but a new opportunity is born every second. Not just on January 1st, not on Monday morning, but every moment you’re alive is a chance to do better or be better. Don’t get sucked into the hype of a new year. Be present in moments. If you stumble, all is not lost! With the simple blink of an eye, by the grace of God, you can try again.

Thank you 2018. If you’re reading this then my heartfelt thanks to you! What a gift and pleasure to share this space with you all. I can’t wait to show you what’s planned for 2019!

God Bless!

Regina

Perfectionism, Food Issues and Karate

I’m definitely a perfectionist. I like things done. Right. The first time. I like doing things well and I’m obsessed with things like order and placement. From a marketing perspective this can be considered great or even ideal. One thing that really changed my life was when I discovered perfection’s back story. Perfection is really fear, anxiety, and procrastination doing an elaborate dance.

What does that mean? I can’t speak for all people, but I can certainly speak to my own experiences. Looking over my past behaviors – which was essential to weight loss – I discovered that I would often opt to do NOTHING if I couldn’t do it PERFECTLY. Inevitably, the task I needed to do would likely take more time to complete but I’d want to do it immediately. If I didn’t have the time to do that, I’d leave it to another day.

Perfection is merely procrastination in a tuxedo.

In our last house I had an office studio where I’d make personalized items. After the holiday season it was usually a wreck. I’d open the door and want to clean it to sheer perfection. Realizing how that was impossible I’d simply shut the door and wait until I had more time. If I did get to the place where I’d actually tackle it, I’d often get so overwhelmed at the enormity of it all and shut down. Greetings Anxiety! I knew you’d show up eventually!

As I began the process for weight loss surgery, I noticed how a lot of this behavior was not only in office clean up but heavily tied to my food behaviors. I would never say, “I’m going to cook dinner tonight.” I would say, “I’m going to cook dinner every night for the rest of my life!” When I failed once at my Lifetime Cooking Goal I’d go right back to ordering out because I failed.

I had to recognize that I was constantly setting myself up for failure! In my office I could’ve planned to break down what needed to be done into smaller, more manageable tasks, set a deadline for completing those tasks, and worked toward completion. With cooking dinner I could’ve endeavored to cook that one night and work up to cooking more often.

I mind-tricked myself out of my own wellness!

My internal need for perfection would often have me procrastinating until I felt that I could accomplish something perfectly. What a realization!

As I applied this model of breaking things down into smaller and more manageable tasks, I realized it was not just in office cleanliness or wellness that I had this issue. Karate brought out a lot of this behavior. I wanted to have black belt skills as a white belt. Yeah, that’s not possible. I’d often go home after class and beat myself up for not learning fast enough or looking as good as my peers. It was challenging physically and even more mentally.

After a while, you realize that you will only get better with dedication and practice. I am not a black belt so I won’t have black belt skills. What I can do is learn and practice. I will not know anything instantly. I will have to break it down, learn it in pieces, and put it together over time.

One of the most valuable pieces to all of this is the realization that doing something – even something unbelievably small – is better than doing nothing at all. Gracefully bow out of the Dance of Perfection and Procrastination and begin.

Progress not perfection.

Did You Do It Yourself

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to have a booth selling and signing my books at the Rhode Island Women’s Expo. I loved sharing Food, Sweat, & Fears with new people.

Weight is so personal. You could see it in how people chose to engage at the booth. Some didn’t want to engage at all, while others had more curiosity. Many people opened up and shared stories of about themselves or a loved one battling the issues of weight. Most people seemed like they were looking for The Secret Missing Link Of Weight Loss.

The most frequent question was this:

Did you do it yourself?

The battle rages on. People still seem to believe that weight loss surgery has no element of work and is considered “cheating” weight loss. There was a woman who had surgery and called it cheating! I was stunned. She intimately knows how much work is involved in this process and still called it cheating!

My work is not done. I will continue to speak and share my message about the surgical options for weight loss. Surgery is NOT for everyone but removing the stigma from this option can save lives.

Weight loss surgery is not a quick fix or even a guarantee of weight loss. Long term success eludes most people after surgery. This can be directly attributed falling back into unhealthy eating behaviors after surgery. When you’ve spent your life exhibiting poor eating choices – like me – or you use food as a primary coping strategy – like me – this can be extremely challenging. You have to do the work. No matter how you choose to lose weight there will be work to do.

Coming out of the Thanksgiving Food Olympics and heading straight into Christmas Cookie Season, makes me really sensitive to people’s comments. Probably because the hardest workout I do this season is shaking my head from left to right refusing your offers of cookies and cakes.

I have to do that all by myself.

______________

Did you know you can preorder my new, expanded cookbook Healthy Fare today? Ships before Christmas! Check it out here: Healthy Fare

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Here’s a quick recipe I threw together tonight in a rush. I was pleasantly surprised by how good it tasted and even more impressed with how quickly it all came together: Start to finish including prep time was 30 minutes!

In honor of my cookbook coming out soon here’s a recipe to hold you over! Here’s the printable version: stuffed-portobello-mushrooms-recipe-1.pdf

Overwhelming Wellness and the Power of Words

I’ve seen a lot of posts lately from people overwhelmed by their health goals. I totally understand it because everywhere you look there’s a new thing to try that could potentially be better than before. Keto. Low Carb. South Beach. Atkins. They all seem remarkably similar.

What do you choose?

I’ve discovered that for me it was abandoning all of it. Diet is a dirty word with a limited time connotation. You do it “for a while” then when you try to just live your life after the “diet” is over you’ve likely gained the weight back and more.

There’s a lot of power in words like “diet” and even “cheat meal” carries some weight. This meal that you can take advantage of for another limited time that usually brings you only emotional relief and no real nutritional value.

Now, let’s look at “junk” foods. You know what they are: chocolate, sugar, high fats, and usually quite delicious. They are also the first things you remove when you’re on a “diet.” “Healthy” foods are usually things like vegetables and kale and often carry the weight of a necessary evil in a diet.

Are you seeing the power of these words? Have you noticed when you eat “junk” you feel like junk? Or a “cheat” meal makes you feel like you’re getting away with something? Don’t you always want most what you cannot have and it almost seems sweeter when you “get away with it?”

Imagine there are no “good” or “bad” foods. Is it possible that food is food? Can a cinnamon roll drenched in gooey icing have the same word as kale? Food really is food BUT cinnamon rolls are less nutrient dense than kale. Ultimately, that’s the difference.

We strive so hard to be “perfect” on our “diets”‘and we often are; yet during that window of time, we’re miserable. We count down the moments to chocolate and bread and we can’t enjoy where we are or what we’re doing.

When I speak at the hospital the most frequent question I get about food is: “Does this mean I can never have (insert what you love here) ever again?” I’m not the Food Police for adults. When I opted for surgical weight loss it was because my weight was completely out of control and I couldn’t manage on my own without outside help. When I took that step I also realized that moderation is not a strength of mine. With RNY Gastric Bypass could I eat chocolate again? I choose every second of every day what goes in my mouth. Will my stomach tolerate it? Most likely not. Could I eat it? Yes. Should I? No. What just happened there?

I took the item I wanted – chocolate – and I ran it through a couple of gates before the gateway of my mouth.

  • Do I want it? Absolutely!
  • Is it nutrient dense? Not at all.
  • Am I helping to maintain my fitness goals with this? No.
  • Is wanting it NOW more important than my long-term goals? No.
  • Why do I want the chocolate? Usually, an emotional response to something troubling me or it just looks darn good.
  • Do I eat it? No.

There is no diet, or cheat meal, or junk food. They are all opportunities. An opportunity to eat nutrient-dense foods that work toward reaching your health goals and less nutrient-dense foods that may hold you back from your goals especially if these decisions continue to outweigh your nutrient dense decisions.

There’s one other interesting caveat to the power of words and your food choices. Calories. I hear a lot of this as well: “I eat good, healthy foods and I continue to gain weight!”

A calorie (kcal) is the amount of heat energy it takes to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius (Wikipedia). By this logic, 10,000 calories of ice cream and 10,000 calories of kale are equal. How your body uses the kale and the ice cream will certainly vary and there’s an entire degree program for Bioenergetics that I do NOT have. The groundbreaking thought process here is that you can still have too much of a “good” thing because if you aren’t burning those calories then weight gain is inevitable.

So what do you do?

Try to find a way to make peace with your food. Don’t give it names of good or bad or junk that will subconsciously assign an emotion to what you’re eating. Pass your options through several gates and ultimately decide if it’s worth it for you. My experiences with bingeing food made me very aware that food felt great…. until it didn’t. Find a way to live your life well and if you get a moment of indulgent, less nutrient-dense food then let that be what it is – an option you made. Not a failure, mistake, or any other negative connotation. If it was a decision you wished you didn’t make, acknowledge it and remember the next time your making decisions.

Stop dieting and start living!

Also see: Take Ten Seconds.

God and the Stupid Muffin

There is no doubt in my mind that God provides divine appointments. What some will consider serendipitous or lucky I believe has been put in place by the Creator.

Many know the story of my friend Kathy that I met at the NYC Marathon in 2016. The full story is in my book Food, Sweat, & Fears (no spoilers). There was also the day that I was feeling defeated after an 11 mile training run and my friend Jaime posted something on my Facebook wall that provided comfort and understanding when I needed it most. God places people where we need them, when we need them… especially when we had no idea we needed them!

This brings us to one day at Panera about 8 months after I had RNY Gastric Bypass. By this point I’d already lost 150lbs and I was doing well. I was out shopping and realized I hadn’t eaten in a while and there was a lot of fast food places and a Panera immediately around me. I decided Panera would be my best bet for fresh and healthy food choices. When I walked in the first thing I noticed is the large case filled with bakery items. Bagels, cookies, and breads of all kinds displayed lovingly. The line to order was long and as I waited and I couldn’t help staring at the display case.

Then I saw him. He was as beautiful as ever. Round with the tiniest hint of shimmer and flecked with raisins. This pumpkin muffin was positively calling my name. As the line winded down I was only closer to him. I think I broke out into a sweat.

Me: I don’t want you.

Pumpkin Muffin: Liar. You know you want me.

Me: I don’t. (I look away)

PM: Look at me and acknowledge you want me.

Me: (looking) Fine! I do want you.

PM: Then have me. I’m just one muffin!

Me: It’s NEVER one muffin AND I just had surgery! No! I could get dumping syndrome!

PM: (silence, just staring me down)

As much as I tried to ignore his obvious advances I was getting weak. Apparently, pumpkin muffins are like dogs… they can smell fear.

PM: Just try it and not everyone who has RNY gets dumping syndrome.

Now, the PM is making sense! I could try it. Maybe just take a tiny bite. How bad could that be? I don’t know anyone here! Who would know?

It’s just one stupid muffin.

I finally get to the front of the line and it’s shift change. Of course it is! I always get to places at the wrong time. If there’s a construction person ordering coffee for an entire job site I’m always behind them at the coffee shop. I’m frustrated and now I know I’m going to order that muffin! That will totally make this better.

IT’S JUST ONE STUPID MUFFIN!!

Just as I’m so looking forward to stuffing that muffin in my mouth and savoring every ounce of it – dumping syndrome be damned – a woman comes out to take my order.

Her: Hello! How are you?

I nearly passed out! The smiling woman ready to take my order is Mary Ellen, woman from my church who lives in our neighborhood! She knows me and I’m sure she knows that I had surgery! I couldn’t believe it! When did she start to work there? My heart was palpitating. Can I order the muffin like it’s for a friend? Maybe she doesn’t know what I can and can’t eat? Ugh! What should I do? I really want that stupid muffin!

When God speaks to me sometimes it’s the tiniest whisper in the wind and that gentle breeze of truth changes my heart. This verse was that whisper:

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31

This time, the whisper felt like a 2×4 to the head! Am I honoring God by trying to justify eating this muffin that has over half of my daily calories? I was one smile-from-a-friend away from sacrificing what I want most – my health – for what I want right now – one stupid muffin! After greeting her warmly I order my plan approved meal and went on my way. That was a seriously close call.

I thought of this divine appointment all the way home. I could see that God knew I was being tempted and placed Mary Ellen directly in my path.

In Greek mythology Sirens were bird-like women with beautiful voices who use their alluring sounds to entice sailors into destruction. The sailors would hear the song and follow it only to have their boats crash on the rocks. Food is my siren song that leaves my will and common sense crashing on the rocks. Food is absolutely everywhere and temptation never takes a sick day. I lose count of how often I think of food and how many times I have to say no to myself per day. I can’t think of how many times I pray for the strength to do the right thing. I’m just grateful to Jesus I have a place to take these temptations and anxieties!

I thought of this story today because I’ve been working on a project and praying for direction. I know what I’m trying to accomplish but I’ve been struggling on some key parts that have held up progress. Yesterday, my only plans were to go to church and meet up with Mary Ellen’s sister. Both of these events almost didn’t happen because I was sidelined by a horrible sinus infection for nearly a week.

Feeling better that morning, I made my way to church and kept my other appointment. These were both divinely ordained. In church, the Pastor’s sermon was directly related to what I was working on and I asked for his guidance on my project. We were both very much aligned with what I was sharing. It was exciting to know I was on the right path and had someone willing to keep me on the path.

When I met my new friend that afternoon it was a tremendous blessing. I’ve often spoken of the power of understanding and the joy that comes from a person who truly gets you. Our conversation will travel through my mind and soul for years to come. Turns out, she is also a person who could greatly influence my project and I had no idea the depth of her knowledge and skill. I didn’t need to know because God placed her squarely in my path on that day, at that time.

I’ve struggled for years with asking for help. I’ve definitely improved over time but sometimes I’ll end up hanging on to something way too long instead of just asking the question that could end the wait. As I reflected on the day this was the whisper over my heart:

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8

And this time it really was a whisper.

Missed Opportunities

Many people say the same thing when they see my wedding pictures:

Wow! He really loves you!

Ugh.

As you’re looking at photos of my WEDDING I’d like to believe love would be obvious. It seems like they’re really saying:

Wow! He even loved you like that!

There’s a chapter in my book Food, Sweat, & Fears about the anxiety around my wedding day. Everyone wants to look their absolute best and I was no different. But the reality of the situation is that I was over 300lbs. My husband loves me for me and that is a profound blessing.

Jeff and I have a blast together. We always pray that every couple has the crazy, silly, and joyous moments we have when we’re together. He really is my best friend and the first person I can’t wait to tell good news, hug through challenging news, and to make our own news.

What if Jeff let my size stop him for continuing to see me?

What if he thought I was cool and all but he wasn’t attracted to me?

What if I let his love of country music and wearing cowboy hats stop me from getting to know him better?

I recently heard a story about a woman who was on a first date. She thought everything went well and they had a good time. At the end of the date he said something alarming.

You’re really pretty, funny and smart but I prefer my women under 100 pounds.

What?!

I understand there has to be a level of attraction but to say that she’s everything you’re looking for BUT her weight just won’t cut it.

I reminded me a conversation I heard many years ago. Two women I worked with were discussing their lives and how they’re in their early 30s and are still single and have no children. They were reflecting on some nice guys they dated in their twenties but thought they could do better. Those guys are now all married with families and the women are alone.

They keep seeking the bigger, better deal. More money. Better looking. Something that fit the thoughts and dreams of what a relationship should be. One woman even went so far as to say that there was a guy she really loved and had the best time with but he just wasn’t very cute. She regretted leaving him and as they connected over Facebook she was constantly seeing pictures of his wife and family. It was a daily reminder of all he could’ve given to her if she just accepted him as he was. She can see this clearly now.

I think these women learned the lesson that the man on the first date hasn’t yet learned: what really matters is what will sustain you over time. If she’s over 100lbs and under 100lbs will not matter when you lose a job… or a parent… or a child!

Jeff and I seen a lot together this past decade. The joys of weddings, high school and college graduations, and our parents anniversaries. We’ve also weathered many storms like losing so many people we love, the fierce and relentless battle of addictions, job loss, and more. We didn’t need a perfect weight, we needed our faith to be strong and to be together. We cling to God and each other and we will always sit in the peaceful eye of the storm. It’s not without pain, not without challenge, but it’s possible to handle together.

This is Relationship Math

You + Me = (Joys Multiplied) + (Sadness Divided)

Battling Perfection

Sometimes there’s something powerful when you see your behavior for what it really is and deciding to leap instead of continuing to look!

If you haven’t already feel free to like my Facebook page! There’s a lot new information coming that I can’t wait to share with you!

Thank you!

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