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12 month confessions of a former couch potato!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

This is a first time blog post for me, but it is 12 months in the making, so it is going to be a long one. My journey started more than a year before that, as I was in the pursuit of trying to find a surgeon to take care of an umbilical hernia that had been bothering me for some time.

I had gone to my primary care doctor, who referred me out to a surgeon on base (my husband is retired Navy). When I met with the first surgeon she was quite rude about the whole thing, and had her mind made up before even coming into the room that she wasn’t going to do the surgery. But she proceeded to “examine” me for about 15 minutes or so pushing down very hard on the hernia, left the room, came back and pressed around some more. Then she proceeded to tell me that she would only work on me if I lost at least a 100 pounds, because she said that I was too high of a risk for any kind of surgery and that unless the hernia became an emergency, I was going to have to live with it, and the pain. But she gave me no way forward from that point. I left there in horrible pain and feeling like I was less of a person. She made me feel like I didn’t deserve treatment because of my size and that I should have to suffer because I had put on a lot of weight.

Move forward to about 8 months later, I am back with my primary care doctor for an appointment. So I brought up the hernia again, and asked if I could be referred off base to a different provider and told her what had happened at the consultation. She was upset that had happened to me and was happy to oblige my request. This was the beginning of things moving in the right direction for me. Sadly, it took me another 2-3 months to actually go and see the surgeon that I was sent to, because let’s face it, I was scared to go through the same thing all over again. I didn’t want to feel the same rejection and have the same disappointment of thinking that I might finally feel a little better and be able to move around more without pain in my mid-section. It was bad enough that my hip & knees were in bad shape, but to have this pain on top of it was just too much to bare.

Well thankfully this doctor was a Godsend! I truly believe he helped to save my life, even though he told me it was all my doing when I thanked him a few months ago.

My first visit with Dr. Kothari was completely different. He barely touched the area of the hernia and told me that it was going to be a fairly easy surgery (for him anyway) and that he just wanted me to try to lose 10-15 pounds before they would move forward. Just so that there would be some loosening of the skin to make it easier for him to work. Then he had me meet with one of his nurses who gave me some helpful information that really got the ball rolling!! We spent at least another 20 minutes or more going over different changes to my diet that could be made and food swaps that I could do. Things like increasing my protein intake, eating several smaller meals instead of just three standard meals. And products like PB2 that could be used as a source of protein that was low in fat, instead of traditional peanut butter. (that was one product I fell in love with, and I didn’t think I would like it)

I had already signed up for Sparkpeople just the day before, so now things were all coming together, I just didn’t know it yet.

My first exercises: OMG! Looking back now, well it was sad. But everyone starts someplace, and unless you start, you can’t finish. So I am glad that not only I started, but I kept with it! When I first began “trying” to work out, I quickly realized just how bad of shape I was in. I looked on Sparkpeople for exercises that I could do, leg lifts, squats, arm work, and I was lucky if I could do ten minutes worth. And I was pooped. I felt like a failure. But I kept at it. I wanted to have my hernia fixed after all. Once the weather cooled down, I went for a walk one day with my husband. We would walk from bench to bench around the small lake where we went, and the benches weren’t that far apart looking back now. And I would have to rest for a while before I could go further. But hey, I was out there walking around the lake. And I kept slowly increasing the time I could do my exercises too. It didn’t happen quickly, but it happened. And the weight, well it was starting to come off too. By Veteran’s Day, I had lost 20 pounds! (Well over what Dr. Kothari wanted) And I was also off work on vacation that same week. It was following this vacation that my co-worker’s first noticed the changes.

Where I work, a local bank, we raise money at the end of the year for needy families for Christmas. And one of the ways we do that is by paying for the privilege of wearing jeans to work. Well my first day back from vacation was also the first jean’s day of the season. And an older female co-worker of mine, who is rather blunt, asked me “what happened to your ass?!” What she meant was, where did the “shelf” that stuck out back go?! I of course had to laugh at her, but it also felt good. So I told her what was up. She has been one of my biggest champions outside my home since that day! She said that it was just more noticeable to her that day because she hadn’t seen me for a week, and because I was in jeans, instead of my loose fitting black pants that I always wear in the office. (BTW, I am really trying to lose just a little more weight by that time this year so that I can fit into some really old jeans that have been sitting on a top shelf in my closet for 10 years!!)

But I digress…

Now, I am able to work out, pretty hard, for an hour every day. In fact, I feel off if I don’t work out these days. I put off the surgery a little longer also. I decided that I wanted to get below 300 pounds before the end of the year, and then I was just wanting a little more after that. Well by the time I finally went in the doctor was really happy with what I had done! Surprised actually. He said most patients come back with the absolute minimum lost. So that made me feel pretty good.

The end of May I finally got my hernia surgery, and while recovery wasn’t completely easy, I do believe that because I had been working out and had lost weight, it was a lot easier! And I was chomping at the bit to get back to my workouts too!

When I had my follow-up appointment, the surgeon told me that I couldn’t do my regular exercises for at least another month, but I could go walking. Well that wasn’t really what I wanted to hear since my hip and knees have always given me trouble, but okay doc, you know what’s best, I will give it a shot. So I went out, with my abdominal binder on and my husband at my side, because I was still a little unsteady on my feet since my core was weak from the surgery. And I started giving walking a shot. The first day I only got about a block and a half from our house and said I had to turn around. But each day I made myself go a little further. Eventually, I was making it into a park that is about a half mile from our house. Now I had walked to this park before, but I always whined about it and had to sit on a bench and rest for
at least 20 minutes before walking back home. Well these days, less than three months later, I am not only walking to that park, I keep walking. Some mornings I go to another park that is down the road after cutting through the first park, others I just make a loop through the park, down a trail and back through the neighborhood. Either way, at minimum, my walks are now at least a mile. When I do the two park route, it is two miles. And there are no breaks these days either! And this is something that my husband had actually given up on being able to do with me. He used to always ask me if I wanted to go for a walk and I would tell him no. These days, I am waking him up in the morning and telling him it is time to go for a walk. My how times have changed!

Over the past year I have lost 66.4 pounds and 28.5 inches. But what I have gained so much more! I have gained a new sense of self, a boost to my self-esteem and confidence, increased energy, comfort to do things I haven’t been able to do in a very long time physically and the knowledge that this is just the beginning of things for me. Because if you had told me at this time last year that all of these wonderful things would have happened, well I would have told you that you were nuts! So to anyone reading this that is just starting their journey…well first, never think of this as a diet…it has to be a lifestyle change or it isn’t going to work. Second, you are worth it and can do it too! Because if this girl can go from a couch potato that was worn out if she did more than 4,000 steps in a day to someone that does that in her morning workout, you can too! You just have to look inside you for the strength to do it, and make that first step!

Cheers to better health and a better outlook on life!

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