Swimming Against The Pacific...

Feb 22, 2013

I have to say that, swimming in the ocean not only pushes you harder, it just leaves me thirsty! I was out in the surf today, enjoying swimming laps around a buoy, when it struck me, "Man! I am thirsty!"  Usually I start my day with lots of fluids, many of my supplements, a cup of Greek yogurt, and a V8 while I walk to the beach, I guess I underestimated my fluids today.

One thing that is really cool about swimming laps on an open beach, lots of folks see you really working.  I laughed at the thought of the Life Guards at the main beach I have been swimming at, wondering what they may be saying to each other... "You think we'll have to swim after that fool?"  Eventually, I think they are used to seeing me on my daily workout, hopefully they are now saying, "How far will she swim today?"

While in the water, I actually enjoy strangers offering their paddle boards to others in the surf, "Wanna try?" I did get into a conversation with one guy, I had to ask why he kicked his legs in the air, while laying on his board paddling.  "I don't actually want to get wet, so it is like swimming without really swimming."  Hmmm, maybe he could understand how the water slows a person down when they are fat -  because above the water was little to no resistance.  Admittedly, it is much easier to swim, and swim against the waves, now that there is a whole lot less of me.

Resistance swimming is fabulous, and that the one beach with across from where I am staying has a buoy to mark off 50 meters, I enjoy the challenge every morning, especially for not having to drive to an aquatic center & swim in chlorinated water.  Admittedly, I do not get sun like I do when I am in the ocean.  I am hoping my Vitamin D levels are in sufficient supply, considering I haven't missed being outside any day this month.

Don't let your fear if "what others might say" about you when you are out enjoying life, just think that some of those thoughts might be, "Look at them! They sure are happy & healthy!"  Sure, I do not have the perfect body, but I am taking great care of the body I have!

Stay Positive!

Brenda : )~



Life on Maui... Well, just Visiting for NOW

Feb 20, 2013

I have swam an additional 22 miles of just lap swimming, and countless miles & hours in the Ocean, which is so much easier with 2/3 of my excess weight gone (over 200 pounds).  Sure, being fat makes you buoyant, but for distance or "free diving" (swimming deep without a tank), you need more lean body mass.  For those of you who have been following my journey, thank you - MAHALO - for making the trip with me!  Sharing the journey makes it a whole lot easier.

Okay, blatant shopping comment, I can now buy shirts/clothing in most stores!  No matter how little I bring with me when I travel, I always seem to end up with so many items that will have to be shoehorned into the suitcase. Good thing that one suitcase is just snorkel equipment, I have to add the weight of new clothing, creative packing is my specialty!

For those of you out in this great big world who use their size to keep them from going out & being active, I ask you to go look at my photos.  I was closing in on 500 pounds and still out in the ocean, up a volcano, and living life as fully as I could.  Sure it is more difficult dragging along all the extra weight, not to mention it is embarrassing, but do not stop living "until (you) lose the weight."  Too many folks have asked me how I did it, simply put, one step at a time.  Start with small steps, and keep pushing further.  Trust me, I still am fat, I still feel the eyes on me, but I also have strangers interacting with me daily.  Being open is one key, staying positive is another, add activity, and you are on your way!

Two years out from surgery, I am able to eat many of the healthy foods I ate before, and I laugh at the exceptions I cannot eat.  Trust me, if you are fearing surgery because you are limited in what you'll be able to eat, DON'T!  I have found my tastes have completely changed.  I stopped drinking Original V8 I think 18 months or more before surgery, because my doctor chewed me out, "Brenda, only Low Sodium V8 from this point on!"  I bought a can of Original V8 while out - not only does it have less potassium, I missed the flavor I love.  I had a friend ask me if I am jealous over folks eating Hawaiian Shave Ice - I was happy to say it brought me pleasure to see others enjoy it, but it didn't make me feel bad at all.  Life is still enjoyable without certain foods, so please do not use that as a reason to not improve your health.

Okay, I am going to post a couple photos of me on Maui - and if this isn't too rude, can I ask folks who are on Facebook to toss me a vote for Chike Nutrition's Photo Contest?  I would appreciate it, as I really do drink the stuff daily, and love it.  Just click the link on the bottom - or do a search for Chike Nutrition on Facebook, and toss Brenda a vote - mine is the Snorkel Mask over the tub!

Do not let life be lived at home away from the fun!!!  Face each day with at least one fun goal - mine are goofy most days, including counting a certain car of a certain color.  But if you add more activity to your day, you will enjoy yourself so much more - I promise!!!

Stay Positive!

Brenda : )~




Swam 95 Miles So Far... 2013!

Feb 07, 2013

Hey Folks!

I am so busy chasing my tail, I am getting ready to board a plane back to Home, Sweet Home, Maui!  My progress toward my 750 mile goal for 2013 is going well, but I plan to kick it up while on Maui.  Not only do I have a place to swim laps, I will most certainly be spending time in the Pacific Ocean (got a cool dealie-bob to count the miles/strokes).

Staying on my food journal, and getting all my exercise is the way to keep on track to be a healthy, happy ME!  Anyhow, I still have messages to respond to, but I have been in the air, literally! 

Just realize, if I can lose 2/3 of my excess weight (and still going for that last 1/3), so can YOU! 

Stay Positive! I only bought ONE seat on the plan!

Brenda : )~

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Want a chance at a Free tub of Meal Replacement?

Feb 07, 2013

I was on Facebook, and saw a contest - and yes, I entered - to win a free tub of Chike Meal Replacement.  Anyhow, if you are interested and are on Facebook (I am not sure if there is a way to enter besides Facebook, but if I find out, I'll add it to the comments), here is the link:

Show Us Your Love of Chike Photo Contest! Enter here to win a tub of every flavor of Chike: http://bit.ly/VDEVai

I am getting ready to fly over to Maui, so if I have missed emails & comments, I promise to catch up with everyone real soon!

Stay Positive!

Brenda : )~



I have written in Blog (in my head) so MANY times...

Jan 29, 2013

Here I sit, dealing with my emotions, after two years, my surgeon calls me a "success".  Many who have followed my long process will cheer for me, which I TOTALLY appreciate, but I still feel a certain amount of failure in my weight loss.  For those who do not know I lost over 200 pounds in two years, I look like a pre-surgical fat woman, who appears to exercise daily, but is still fat.  Obesity is NOT cured with any bariatric surgery, lifelong changes only bolster our health, and possible "normalcy" of BMI. 

I feel a certain amount of responsibility for putting myself "out there" as an example of what can be achieved with weight loss surgery, but who will take me seriously, as I am STILL FAT?!  In my life before super, morbid obesity, I was a very active, very healthy "fat chick" (I have always detested the term BBW, just a personal opinion).  Life growing up an active fat person wasn't always easy, mainly because there just weren't as many of us active fat folk out there.  It took a catastrophic event (injury) that changed my active fat chick status to: Growing FATTER without activity.  Sigh.  Well, I went from the mid 200's, which I seemed pretty good at carrying (I am 5 feet 7 inches tall) to at the highest recorded weigh in of 474 -- I believe my weight actually it was higher, as I spent a YEAR trying to lose weight, before conceding that I needed surgical assistance.

It still took longer to get surgery, as I was then in an auto accident that pushed back my process, but I still worked daily to swim & build strength and stamina.  I lived a modified diet waiting for the "date" for surgery, so my surgeon did not require a full fast two weeks prior to surgery.  Why am I reliving all this back story?  To let folks know, two years after surgery, I lost and kept off my losses of over 200 pounds.  So, I am considered a "success" in terms of weight loss surgery.  Okay, I need to deal with my own emotional shortfalls, and face folks - even if it is just online, or at support meetings.  I am still struggling, but NOT giving up.

If you seek surgery for a number on the scale, the chances of seeing that number, or even staying on that number, or less likely if you start at a higher then 50 BMI (my official BMI was 74.4).  If you expect to see a clothing size, you will have to work at it, and not just rely on surgery.  Sure, there are folks who attain amazing weight loss, but to keep those numbers, you will have to continue working on your health.  Yup, I am proof it is a daily struggle to be a "normal fat chick," as my daughter lovingly refers to me as,

Last year, I set a goal to swim 600 miles.  I surpassed that number by 42 miles.  I am proud of that achievement.  This year that number is 750 miles - and I am certainly on my way, as I have returned to swimming with gusto!  I am adding other physical goals, but planning on trying to add more weight (number) goals, even though I tried to stay away from making a certain goal weight.  The reason I exercise is not for a weight or clothing size, it is for my overall health & emotional well being.  I have excellent numbers when looking at the health -- blood pressure, blood values, and activity level.  Sure, I still have a leg that causes me to limp, but I had that before surgery.  The reason for being healthy is my goal of living a long and happy life.

Before surgery, and even starting my whole process of regaining my health, I was emotionally miserable.  The physical limitations seemed to grow over the years I was continuing to gain weight.  Nothing like having to get the dealership selling me a vehicle to include extender belts in the deal, as I was too damn fat to fit in the generous "one size fits all" seat belts.  I spent years trying to justify that airplanes just have smaller seats, that it was the airlines fault for being greedy that I was forced to purchase two tickets because my hips wouldn't fit in my assigned seat with the armrest down.  As I grow larger, I tried to reason that, "if I can still buy clothing (mostly online only), I am not TOO fat..." When you are forced to search for clothing manufacturers for swimsuits beyond a size 32, you are possibly in need of help, or just a wake up call for personal change.

Being a woman wearing a 7X didn't make me hide from the public eye, but I was also aware that I could be INVISIBLE to some people. Dealing with stares, comments just made me more aware I had to have a thick skin.  Being invisible hurt me more emotionally than the rude comments & stares.  Wearing a size 7X, I decided I would really need to get down to serious business, and make a plan, or I would need to consider weight loss surgery.  I actually went to see my doctor and told her my plan: ONE YEAR OF SERIOUS WORK, then decide if I really could lose weight on my own.

Fat folks KNOW how to lose weight, but the trick is keeping it off, right?  Well, after that year of work, I did see I was able to fit into smaller sized clothing, and I was getting around better, but damn it, I was down to a BMI of 74.4.  Who can get excited after a year of HARD WORK, just to see the scale saying 474 pounds?  How long of a journey has this been?  I started January of 2008, only to decide in February 2009, I needed surgery.  With a year off for an auto accident, I started working toward getting surgery in 2010 - when I joined support groups, an started writing my thoughts and support of others on here.  I finally got my gastric bypass on November 16, 2010.  Now, over two years post-surgery, I am still working everyday to be healthy.

Face yourself, admit to the things that you can change, and except the things out of your control, but strive to be healthy.  That is what I have learned from my journey so far.  Oh, and that you get support by giving OTHERS support.  Upon having my two year follow up, I still felt mixed emotions, and just seemed to hide away from my weight loss surgery community, as I felt like I was a failure.  Just remember, you are always your worst critic, so learn to support yourself, and not deny reaching out for help.  We can all find excuses to not go exercise, go to support group meetings, avoid friends online (waving at many folks who I haven't talked with!!!) -- it is the strong who do NOT let this happen.  I swear to anyone reading my blog, if you are open - to yourself & others - that you need help, you will continue to work on the issues you need help with.

Okay, I feel emotionally drained, but I also feel like I finally got a "dirty secret" off my chest.  I cannot hide behind my weight, I will face it with every day, and live a healthy life.  Surgery alone will not fix you, it is just part of the process.  Go to support group meetings, see your doctor regularly, weigh yourself, measure & journal your food intake, and be happy in your own skin!

Stay Positive!

Brenda : )~







Canada Was Great! Back in the USA...

Oct 23, 2012

I am not counting the swimming done in Canada, but I should!  I got to stay right on the water in Victoria, WOW!  The sea planes started taking off at 8am, so I learned to tell time by the planes coming & going.  Lots to see, lots of walking, and lots of fun.  The trip was too quick, so I will have to plan another one soon.

Grocery shopping in British Columbia wasn't cheap, but then again, I did stay in Victoria, which may have added to the cost.  I did enjoy the organic sections of a few stores, and I hate to admit this, but I think Canadian (not Canadian Bacon) grown bacon was much tastier than what I have made in America.  Yes, I will admit to eating bacon - in small quantities I am not breaking any nutritional laws.  

As of today, I am on mile 509 of my 600 mile journey swimming for health, so looking forward to bumping next years goal to 750.  I can do it, and why not?  I love the water, and plan to do more ocean swims in February, which I have to figure out how I can measure distance.  I am still in a size 18 swimsuit, which is a little frustrating, but not letting my goal out of my sight!  I have a couple size 16's & 14's just waiting for me.  My album will show what suits I have available, but if you are looking for specific sizes -- just message me.  I have at least one 26 left, I think.  There are a couple 22's, and beyond that, I just have to look.

Water was for some reason not as easy to drink on this trip, and I will admit I drank more coffee than usual, sigh.  Protein is always easy for me, I have an excellent diet & bring my Chike with me everywhere!  I got three flavors of Chike & Coffee samples sent to me while I was away -- I love the new, smaller tubs (They usually live above my refrigerator, and have fallen on me).  Okay, here is where I admit that I did visit Tim Horton's ONCE.  Coffee, half a bagel, and one donut hole.  Sorry, but the coffee was not "all that," as I was promised, sigh.  

One of the things many do not talk about after losing a significant amount of weight -- wearing high heels, just because!  I was making sure to dress nicely, and enjoyed my high heels making me feel more visible.  It is GREAT exercise, I was loving the feeling in my calves & knees after three plus hours of the sights!  Hey, I like to be stylish when I exercise ;)

Probably the best part of traveling to Canada was at the Border Crossings.  I was given extra questions, as I barely look like the same woman on my Enhanced License (it is like a Passport).  Nothing like having people not believe you really are who you are, just because you went and lost 200 pounds!  Part of me wants to just keep the photo, as it does make folks do a double take when I show my identification. 

One year, eleven months, and a couple days ago I started a journey that is still going on.  Just realize that the journey never ends, you just make it to the next phase!  Going into my next year of post surgery I have plans to do things I have never done (ocean paddle boarding & kayaking), and a few things I haven't been able to do in years (surf, skate and ride my bicycle from Seattle to Portland).  Live for today like there will be no tomorrow!

Stay Positive!!!
Brenda : )~

809.5 Kilometers Swam... Going to Canada, Eh!

Oct 18, 2012

Yes, I have reached a wonderful number, 503 miles so far!  For my Canadian Friends - I will be on Victoria in British Columbia this weekend, so PLEASE let me know if you will be around the Sindey Area ;)

Speaking of British Columbia, I hear that is one of two Provinces that is actually working with patients to get them cosmetic surgery after significant weight loss.  From the research I have spent learning about reconstructive surgery - NEVER say cosmetic when you are trying to get your surgery covered - and am looking forward to more insurance companies realizing it is medically necessary.  It's sad that a person needs to be classified a 3 or higher on the scale (1 - 5) to be considered reconstructive.  But knowing how to submit to Insurance or even Medicare/Medicaid is going to help you tremendously.  I tell everyone to dig deep, in the information age!

Well, folks, I swore I was going to weigh myself this morning, but I ended up forgetting to do it.  I had a bad bout of insomnia, woke around 2am, and never fell back asleep.  Things are still going in the correct direction, and I am so eager to get through this last third of the main journey.  Truly, to be in maintenance, it seems so far away but totally obtainable!

Here is my plug for Candy Free Halloween ;)  Every year, I give treat bags, single serve popcorn, PlayDoh, anything BUT candy.  Believe it or not, the kids ALWAYS make comments about coming to my house!  Just a little thought, cheap bags from the dollar store, and you can create fun without adding to the candy overload kids will have for the first week or more in November.  Sam's Club, and I believe Costco carry packages of PlayDoh, and the kids totally dig it.

Remember, if you break any task down into smaller goals and work up to it, it is easier to get there, and you are less likely to give up trying!

Stay Positive!
Brenda : )~

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Mile 494, Just 106 Miles to Go!!

Oct 15, 2012

I am starting my week off the right way, working hard & eating right!!! I just ordered more Chike Meal Replacement, and was told they not only are including a couple free samples of Coffee Meal Replacement, but if you go to their FaceBook Page - they will have a Giveaway on Wednesday -- I love these guys!!!  If you are on FaceBook, just go to their page (http://www.facebook.com/ilikechike) and be ready to enter on Wednesday!  If you want to try Chike, go to their website, iLikeChike.com, and give them a call.  I have been using Chike almost 3 years, and love all the flavors.

When life knocks you on your butt, just remember that the faster YOU get up, the less it will hurt later ;)

Last week was crummy for me, but I am facing forward and as you can tell from my swim ticker, I am slowly making it to my goal.  The other thing about having a hard day/week/month/year/decade (I have had ALL of these at one time or another!), many of us (I am raising my hand) comfort in food & isolation.  Isolation leads to boredom, bore dome leads to eating, eating leads to watching hours of television, which leads to inactivity.  Yesterday I cleaned two of the three floors in my home - I mean CLEANED!  I swept, vacuumed, and even mopped.  I did every stitch of laundry, and then started cleaning windows.  What is my reason for doing so much?  Staying away from the kitchen/pantry.  Idle hands are easily filled with goodies...

Before you get upset with my ideas, just realize that keeping busy will help.  You don't have to spend your days off cleaning, unless you enjoy it.  My reason for my house cleaning was to keep busy and out of trouble.  If you enjoy crafts, that will work as well.  Just make yourself a place to work that is not close to the kitchen.  I swear, idle hands have a bad habit of getting filled!  Oh, and I also have a daily goal in my home, 20 flights of stairs.  Most days I easily get to 15, but it is definitely a chore for me to make it all the way to 20.  I also try to have something in my hand on each trip - so I feel like it was a trip worth taking.

Next month, I celebrate two years since having surgery.  It hasn't been easy, but it also hasn't been that hard!  Sure the weight loss slows down, but that just makes me aware that this isn't just about having surgery to "fix” what I have done to myself.  I still use a food journal, and make sure I take ALL my daily supplements, and I still get blood work done.  Just realize that getting surgery is the beginning, what you do with the surgery & YOUR LIFESTYLE is what dictates your success.  Remember to celebrate the positive in your life.  When you have a bad day, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try to find something positive about what just happened.  Oddly enough, I have always had an odd way of looking at things, but it keeps me coming back for more!  Sure, you will have days that you do not want to repeat, just remind yourself "how will I feel if I do...?" If you live your life by being accountable to yourself, you will be able to live with yourself a lot better.  I hate having excuses - they happen - but, learn from mistakes, instead of being great at making up excuses.

Okay, so my posivity  is overflowing!  Can you feel it?!  Trust me, I enjoy being with ME every day, and you should like who you are, too!

Brenda : )~


This Week is Almost a Memory...

Oct 12, 2012

I have had a difficult week, and all I can do is sigh.  It has been an unusually difficult year for me, and trust me, I have moments where I want to just give up & stay in bed all day.  Monday, I spent the day with my 18 year old cat Trixie.  I shared my kitty's last day in the sunshine, petting her and making sure she felt the love.  I have given myself a little room to deal with grief, but I keep reminding myself to push forward.  The sun has a bad habit of leaving the Pacific Northwest as soon as Autumn hits - so I think having a sunny day was extra special Monday.  I may take some of her ashes back to Hawaii, just so she can enjoy the sun -- her favorite thing ;)

Tuesday, I had such swollen eyes, I had to put aside my swimming for a second day in a row.  But Wednesday, I was back in the pool, working toward the goal I set for myself.  As of this posting, I have swam 491 miles, and I will keep going even after I hit the magic 600 miles, because I know I can.

Life is not supposed to be easy, so you have to remember that with the bad times, good times will follow.  Never be too hard on yourself, as we usually are our own worst critic.  If you treat yourself with kindness and firmness, you will only flourish.  Yup, I guess I learned a lot raising myself (most of my generation knows about the single parent house blues).  My pushing myself forward is what keeps me going.  Sure, I have had my moments where I really needed to hide for a day (sometimes longer), but I also know I am the one person who can keep me looking forward.  Remember, you spend more time with YOU, than any other person.

Why am I sharing this with anyone bothering to read my blog?  To show that if you let life get you down, you only have you to blame.  If you face life with determination, you will have YOU to thank!  As always, Stay Positive!

Brenda : )~

Time, Patience, Persistence, and Honesty... Sigh!

Oct 07, 2012

I will be the first to admit that surgery doesn't make everything perfect or completely better.  So much of this process is in your head -- mine seems to lead me astray from time to time.  Being honest about my portion control, eating choices, and whether I am doing all that I can do, is what will see me through this last third of my excess weight.

Facing the two year mark, I get frustrated just like everyone else.  I get it in my head I have failed.  Sometimes I feel "Why do I try, it isn't really working... Haven't I lost enough, yet?"  DON'T fall victim to the voice in your head that will lead you astray.

Having lost 2/3 of my excess weight equates to over two hundred pounds -- yes, I have lost over two hundred pounds, and still have another 1/3 to go.  Is this frustrating to me?  Sure, it is.  Do I have weak moments?  YES.  Am I proud of myself? Sometimes, well most times, but I still have to keep pushing myself.  Being stubborn is probably going to make me finally succeed!  I get made when I feel like I am not "winning" at a certain task, so that is when my stubborn or persistent nature steps in.

This is not a race - remember this!  You (and I) did not gain all this weight in a short amount of time, so consider what I did -- I will give myself 5 years to lose the weight I gained, as that is how long it took to gain it.  If I beat the 5 year goal - kudos to me!  If I do not, then I will have to re-evaluate why I haven't succeeded.

Being honest with yourself is really hard sometimes.  Sure, I can make excuses & try to believe them, but at the end of the day, I still have ME to face.  You can lie on your food journal, you can lie about your exercise, but who is that hurting? Think about that for a second.  When I want to end my laps early, I usually swim an extra 10, just to make up for my negative thoughts.  It isn't really a punishment, it is showing that I CAN DO WHAT I SET OUT TO DO, if I PERSIST.  When I do more than I set out to do in any given day, it makes me feel a little better about myself.  I like me enough to work harder to be better.

If you are getting surgery (or have gotten surgery) and expect to not have to work for your health, you probably will not succeed -- long term, that is.  Sure, the first - second year is amazing, but... Eventually, bad habits come back into play, your metabolism is too comfortable with your diet/exercise routine, and the weight starts creeping back on.  Do not let negativity cloud your journey.

On that note, Stay Positive!!!