Learning Balance, Finding a Healthy Relationship with Food, and Loving My Body

As you all know, I’m a big dreamer. I love to set big goals. For the longest time my main goals have been either weight loss or body image related. Lose XX number of pounds, fit in a size 12, be “normal” on the BMI Scale. Even though my goals have gone from get skinny to get healthy and from “weight 175” to “be strong” – It still all relates back to my personal body image. Almost everything I have done for the past 4+ years has somehow been related to these goals. Heck, I even turned it from a hobby into a full blow job! I guess what I’ve really been thinking about is where is that line? When do you go HAM on reaching a goal and when do you say ok I’m just going to be ok with where I’m at?

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile. I see some of the fittest people I know come into our CrossFit box. People who workout hard 5 days a week, eat strict meal plans most of the time, are the picture of health and fitness… and they still aren’t happy. They want abs like so and so, or a butt like Stacie Tovar (I mean, who doesn’t?! #strengthisbooty after all…) I’m guilty of the same thing from time to time. I am guilty of negating the progress I’ve made by focusing on the things I’d still like to change.

When I first started out on this journey I was morbidly obese. I needed the structure and discipline of adhering to a strict plan. I was motivated and had a lot of fat to lose. I had specific health related milestones I wanted to reach. I went from one side of the road to the other. I used to eat whatever I wanted, and that’s what got me to 50% body fat! I needed some intervention to turn that train around. And I did (for more about my journey check out my “Before & After” page)

Read how my health journey has helped me learn balance, find a healthy relationship with food, and love my body.

Even before my surgery, I started to realize I was happy with myself. The surgery was just the cherry on top of my body acceptance sundae. It just helped me to be able to see the body I had built underneath all that skin, and that body is beautiful. And when I realized that I was happy with my body, all size 14 and 200 pounds of it, instead of being happy I felt confused and slightly panicked. What am I supposed to do now? Where do I go from here?

After over 4 years, I was suddenly on the other side of the spectrum. I had gone from 50% body fat to 20%,  I went from not being able to do a proper air squat with my own body weight to being able to load up a barbell with my body weight and back squat it. Throughout the last few years I went through strict Paleo, Whole30, and spent the better part of the last year on detailed meal plans through a nutrition coach. It was a lot of restricting. Suddenly foods became “good” or “bad” and meals became either “on plan” or “off plan.”

Food isn't good or bad, it's just food. How I learned balance, found a healthy relationship with food, and started to love my body.

I had become one of those Diet Martyrs… “Oh, guess I”ll have to skip the Christmas cookies this year” or “Man, I wish I could eat that” or “I can’t believe I ate that!” followed by a big serving of guilt and shame. While I never thought I had a full blown eating disorder, I saw an article about Orthorexia and found myself nodding my head in response to the list of possible symptoms. I had some disordered thinking and unhealthy mindsets when it came to my relationship with food. I was in the mindset of I can’t have it because It’s not on my meal plan. I followed a specific meal plan, eating the same safe foods over and over again. I was afraid to stop counting calories, measuring portions to the ounce, or following a rigid meal plan. Because if I didn’t have a plan it meant I would gain back all the weight I’ve lost and suddenly be fat again *eye roll*

How losing weight became less about the number on the scale and more about how I felt about my body.

I guess what I’m saying is I am finally happy with my body. I feel a sense of peace with where I’m at right now. I’m healthy, I’m fit, and I’m happy. Society still tries to tell me I’m plus sized, so what. This plus sized girl rocked a bikini in Florida last month! I still have stretch marks and squishy areas. I know that if I want to take my body to the next level it would require more restricting and while I know I could do it, I’m not in a place where I’m willing to do what it would take. Could that change next month? Absolutely. For more about the cost of getting lean check out this article from Precision Nutrition.

 I’d like to challenge you to take a look at yourself and your goals. If you are restricting yourself or beating yourself up about your body or how you’re eating, why? What are your goals? If you have a hard deadline goal like doing a bikini competition, by all means eat according to your goals this holiday season. If you have serious health risks that are obesity related or a history of unhealthy binge eating than maybe you need to structure your eating a bit more. Whatever you do, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons and in a healthy way. Super restrictive diets aren’t great for your mental health. Food isn’t something to fear. Take time to Learn balance, find a healthy relationship with food, and love your body.

You are worth it.

Do you struggle with Balance or a Healthy Relationship with food?
What are some things you can do today to love your body?

Abdominoplasty Update: 4 Months PO & Dog Ear Revision

4 Months. What?! It has been nearly 4 months since my Abdominoplasty already? I was afraid time would crawl through recovery but it actually has gone so fast! I have been absolutely in love with my results so far, but I did notice pretty early on that I had what is commonly referred to as a “dog ear” on the incision at my right hip.

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Here is a picture several months later, after the incision had healed. I still had some major swelling going on, and that dog ear is far more noticeable. At my 3 month follow up I talked it over with my plastic surgeon and we decided to do a small in office revision to correct the dog ear. I had to pay a small office/supply fee but he didn’t charge for his time or anything since it was a revision. I scheduled the dog ear revision for a few weeks later.

Luckily I wasn’t as nervous for this as I was for the original surgery… Remember when I passed out while he was marking me up? SO embarrassing! This time I was still pretty numb along my incision so I didn’t even feel it when he was injecting me with the numbing stuff. It was a small in office procedure and it took about an hour. I was comfortable and awake the whole time. I felt pretty good afterwards, until the numbing stuff wore off that night when I was trying to sleep. Luckily I had some pain pills that he prescribed just incase, so I took one. It wasn’t horrible pain. Nothing compared to the original surgery. It was just throbbing and painful, like a 5 out of 10. I had tape strips on it for around the first week.

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Here is a picture from about a week out. The incision is still healing, I’m a little swollen and bruised, but there is no more dog ear/triangle/pointy thing! I took 4 days off from working out to let the incision heal up. My doctor didn’t want me bending or moving too much around the hip area so it would heal properly.

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Today is 2 weeks post revision. You can see the incision is healing well. My first scar is fading and I expect this one to do the same. Now the flanks are more even and there are no pointy dog ears sticking out.

I still have zero regrets about the surgery or the revision. As you can see the surgery didn’t make me “skinny” – I am still a pretty thick girl! I still have curves and I’m still squishy in some areas. This wasn’t at all intended to be a weight loss surgery or a surgery to make me skinnier. This was to remove the excess skin and reveal the shape that was hiding under it all.

4monthsPO

I feel like it did that for sure. I am happy in my own body and I’m proud of the work I’ve done to get here.I still have my days of feeling bloated or whatever, Thanks Mother Nature. Do I still have things I want to improve? Absolutely. But I believe it is possible to love your body and desire to improve it at the same time.

I know this is more a health/fitness blog and some people don’t always like these types of posts but the reality of weight loss is excess skin. I wanted to share my journey with you as openly as possible so you can have all the information you need to make your own decision on what is right for you. I know some people who have lost considerably more weight than I have that have no desire to get rid of the excess skin. Just like I have said about every other stage in my journey, it is such an individual process/decision. It is important to do your research, really think about what it is you want… not what you think you should want.

Do you have any questions about the surgery/recovery process?

Abdominoplasty Recovery: Q & A (5 Weeks Post Op)

abdominoplastyrecovery

Today marks 5 weeks since my Abdominoplasty surgery! Time has seriously been flying. I honestly imagined my recovery time to crawl by. I think being on the pain meds the first week made that week go by even faster. I slept a lot that week too. The last update I posted was at 10 days post op. This was just after getting my drains and belly button stitches out. Really, that was a major turning point in my recovery! Showers are a beautiful thing and I was happy to have them back in my life!

From 2 weeks post op to 4 weeks post op things got exponentially better. I started feeling less pain and completely stopped having to take anything for pain right around 2 weeks. Some of the swelling started to go down and moving around was much easier.

At my 3 week post op appointment Dr Mills was impressed with how well I was moving. Again, I will tell you that being fit going into surgery helped me more than anything else. My body recovered faster and moving around was so much easier. At the appointment I was told I had an open wound on my belly button. This wasn’t a huge deal, it was just that where my belly button was ended up right on one of my stretch marks, so it took a little while longer to heal. This was during the healing process. All I had to do was keep antibiotic ointment on it. 
bellybutton

I also got told to stop wearing my bulky hospital binder and go to using a spanx type compression garment. I have just been wearing high waisted spanx underwear type compression. I still have swelling, especially if I do something particularly active like clean the house. I started to feel more normal and even got into some jeans! I’m wearing the same size I was before, they just fit way better!

At 4 weeks post op I felt 99% normal. I still had some tightness, but a lot of my mobility was back to normal. I can twist and turn and have no pain. Again, the swelling is still here… and It’s actually worse in this picture because I spent most of the day before on my feet.

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At 4 weeks I started wearing my compression garment half time. I’ve worn it just through the night and I’ve also worn it just during the day. I think I prefer to wear it to bed because I love waking up with the flatter tummy after being in compression gear all night. I was also allowed to lift more weight, around 25lbs and up. Before I was limited to 10-15lbs. The first few days of wearing my compression gear half time I felt my core getting tired towards the end of the afternoon.

Today is the 5 week mark and I can see a huge difference between last week and this week. The swelling has gone down noticeably, at least to me.

4-5weeksPO

The swelling usually happens in the lower part of my stomach, but today it felt really flat. As far as the scar goes, it is suuuuper low and pretty light. You can see in the 4 weeks post op picture the faint line of the scar. I’m really happy with the placement of the scar and how well it has recovered. I also love my belly button shape and coloring, especially after it finished healing.  I feel totally normal. I’m SO ready to get back to working out. I can start easing back into it next week. I know once I get back to working out things will change even more (for the better!)

Here is a little progression of my results week by week. Some weeks you can see a difference and some you can’t. Tummy Tuck recovery is a roller coaster of ups and downs.

postopprogression

I asked on my Facebook and Instagram if anyone had specific questions regarding the procedure or recovery so I’ll answer them here. If you see any I didn’t get to, leave them in the comments!

Where is the best place to rest immediately post-op? Recliner, bed, sofa?

First of all, remember that everyone has a different recovery. I slept in my bed at night from day 1. I was propped up on pillows so I was almost sitting up, but I felt like I needed some separation between my “awake time” and “night time.” I Spent most of the day the first week in a recliner, which was the most comfortable. By week 3 I started removing pillows and laying down more flat. I still kept a pillow under my knees until week 3 as well.

What do you like best and least about your procedure/experience/body now?

I love my belly button! I’ve always had a spare tire around my belly button as long as I remember. So to have a cute belly button is so fun! The part I like the least about the whole procedure is the numbness I feel from my belly button to the top of the scar. It doesn’t hurt, it just feels weird and was really hard to get used to.

Was it painful?

Again, every one is going to be different. The pain pills helped the first week and once the drains was out it was less pain and more discomfort. Everything felt super tight and that was the hardest part. It was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

How long before you can walk upright/lay flat? 

I was standing mostly upright by the 8 day mark. I didn’t start sleeping completely flat until around week 3.

Did your insurance pay on the procedures?

No, this was all out of pocket. Some insurance would have covered it, but since we are self employed and have to purchase our own insurance this wasn’t included despite the fact I was referred to the Plastic Surgeon by my Primary Care Doctor due to irritating rashes and other issues. Check with your provider.

How much weight did you lose?

I cannot stress this enough…  This is not a weight loss surgery. I did not have this surgery to lose weight. I spent the last 4 years totally overhauling my lifestyle and lost 70lbs before having this procedure. They removed 8lbs of skin and tissue during the surgery. Since surgery day I’m down just about 5lbs. Swelling is crazy during the first few months so it goes up and down depending on activity level and my diet.

How do your clothes fit?

Most of my clothes were too small coming out of surgery because of the swelling. I’m just now getting to where I can fit in most of my pre-surgery clothes. They fit different, but they fit. I’m still in the same size jeans but there is a lot more room in the front!

So far I’m very happy with my decision to have this surgery and loving my results. Again, it is not for everyone. It was what was right for me. I would do it again in a heart beat. It is overwhelming to see the results I’ve worked so hard for. I’m not saying you have to go through plastic surgery to see results, but with the amount of time and the degree to which I was obese it was the option that made the best sense for me.

Thank you so much for following my journey!

Do you have any questions about the procedure/recovery I haven’t answered?