Thursday, January 26, 2017

My New Addiction

A few months back, I had a conversation with a therapist who is well-versed in weight loss surgery and the issues that come along with using food as your coping mechanism.  I was slightly frustrated and complaining that I was the only person in my family who got this "raw deal."  No one else is a fat ass who wants to eat 24/7.  He said, "not so fast..."  He told me to think about my siblings and whether they deal with addiction in their own way.  Sure, no one is an alcoholic, however, I guess some could make the argument that one brother loves video games a little too much and the other spends a little too much on lotto scratchers.  That being said (when someone reads this and runs to them to tattle on me), I don't really think they have a problem.  Like me, they have their vices (or, as I like to look at it, something they enjoy doing that other people like to give them shit about), but we all get up every day and go to work and support ourselves (and, in their cases, their families).  However, the argument could be made that we use those items to escape something...whatever "something" is. 

Here we go again...

After gastric bypass in 2004, I lost my coping mechanism.  Food, glorious food.  They don't show you how to deal with yourself after weight loss surgery.  They just tell you that your stomach is the problem and once they cut it out, you'll lose the weight and live happily ever after.  Sure, they say all the right things: "this is a tool, and it is up to you to use it wisely..."  But they don't actually show you how to do that.  And most people spend the rest of their lives still living in diet mode.  That was the one thing I didn't want.  I just wanted to wake up one fucking day and not have food be the center of my universe.  I mean, I have to eat, right?  We all do in order to live.  It's not like a drug from which you can completely walk away.  What's the Overeater's Anonymous saying?  Something about drug addiction being like a tiger you can cage.  But when your drug of choice is food, you have to take it out and walk it three times a day.  

Once my stomach was chopped out, my drug of choice changed.  Sometimes shopping.  Sometimes sugar.  Sometimes sex.  Sometimes prescription drugs.  Usually I would realize what was happening and reel myself in.  I often noticed, though, that my pants would get a little tight if I didn't have access to one of my vices.  That being said, I also never actively picked up one vice in order to avoid another.  For instance, I never said, "hey I noticed I'm gaining a few pounds, so maybe I should start taking Vicodin and pull out the credit card in order to lose them."  Hopefully that makes sense.  My mind just naturally and fluidly moved from one vice to the next as I engaged in restrictive behaviors. 

My life has been pretty sweet lately.  Honestly, ever since I got out of my relationship almost a year and a half ago, and left my stressful job almost two years ago, I've been in a really good place.  My weight is down almost 30 pounds from my highest post-surgery weight about three years ago.  I haven't put myself into credit card debt.  I had access to Percocet post-breast lift surgery in November, and although I milked it a little bit, I have weaned myself off now.  In short, I'm good.

So, why am I drinking so much alcohol? 

I'm not drinking every day, but I am probably going out with friends and binging heavily at least once a week.  That's a lot for someone who used to drink maybe one drink once a quarter.  (I did go through a "drinking phase" in 2009 after I met Rob, but that's because our mutual friends were bar flies and we were just out in the bars four or five nights a week.)  This is the first time I think maybe I am using alcohol as my crutch.  And I really don't know why.  That's the thing, though, right?  If I had a handle on why I did any of this stuff, I probably wouldn't do it anymore.  Certainly, I'm not complaining, as I am appreciative of my recent weight loss and the fact that I'm not in debt.  However, I recognize that my liver only recently got a clean bill of health, and I should be protecting that at all costs.  An old friend of mine who is about the same age, had gastric bypass after me, and struggled with alcoholism just DIED waiting for a new liver.  I need to take this more seriously. 

I started watching the TV show, "This Is Us" recently.  It follows a family with triplets.  One of the girls is extremely overweight.  Some of the stuff she does on the show is triggering for me.  So sometimes I kind of stop paying attention if I think the dumb shit she's doing is going to bother me.  Today at lunch, I went home to watch the latest episode.  The show began on episode one revolving heavily around the birthdate of the triplets (which is also father's birthday).  I never knew what that date was.  Until today -- and it's my birthday.  August 31.  I don't know why that made me sit up and take notice.  In this episode, the fat girl goes to fat camp.  And I'm watching her struggle -- and I have to assume the actress herself struggles with this shit because that look on her face is fucking real.  And I'm distancing myself from her.  She's fatter than I was.  She's more obsessed with calories and dieting than I was.  She has way more issues than I ever did.  And I watched all of her issues bubble up and suddenly I felt like I got punched in the chest.  I started sobbing uncontrollably.  I don't fucking cry over television shows.  Apparently I need to deal with some issues.  I'm still processing what upset me but I'm sure it has to do with the flashbacks to her childhood. 

I guess I'm not here to offer answers to anyone struggling with the same issues post-weight loss surgery.  I'm just acknowledging that surgery doesn't fix our brains and staying on top of our issues is a lifelong commitment.  I'm coming up on 13 years out from my gastric bypass, and I'm still dealing.  Two friends have independently brought up the alcohol consumption to me, however, and if they are worried, I need to address it. 

I don't want to say I'm going to stop drinking -- seems like such addict behavior.  But I think I can easily return to just have a casual single drink once a month or so.  I'm using yoga and meditation to keep my head in the right place and help me deal with issues as they arise.  But I really would love to wake up one day and not have this be the theme of my life.  Until then...I keep sharing my stories with you and I always appreciate the comments and messages, as it lets me know I'm not alone...and neither are you. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Healing Viking Warrior: Two Months Post-Op

I am officially two months post-op from my breast reduction/lift (it is a little more complicated than that...you can read about it HERE.)

This week, I returned to lunchtime yoga.  It was a fairly gentle class, but I am still a bit sore today.  I expected downward dog or moving from plank to cobra to be most difficult.  The only move to really hurt?  Child's pose.  Not even because I was on my stomach -- but because I pulled back and kneed myself in the under-boob.  HA!

I expect to add back another yoga class next week, then hula and pole over the next couple of weeks, ending with the addition of my final yoga class in about a month.  Basically, by March 1, I should be fully back in my five day workout schedule.  I have been doing the squat challenge and am doing some gentle stretches, planks and other abs in the mornings before work.

I do wonder if some of my weight loss was due to muscle loss.  We all know "muscle weighs more than fat."  If that's the case, then my pants size should continue to go down even if the scale moves upward again once I'm working out.  I currently weigh 235 pounds (down from 245-247 just a few months ago).  I haven't been this weight in over six years.  I'm trying hard not to trigger my disordered eating/thinking, but I am a little too pleased with this weight loss.  I still equate skinny with happy, even though I know damn well that's not the truth.

I am extremely pleased with how I'm healing.  I still have some pain in the scar under the breast.  The mesh connects there, so its possible it will always feel a little weird.  I was able to lay down on my stomach for a massage last week (using pillows for padding and to partially prop me up).  I can lay on my side now (which is how I fall asleep, so once I was off the pain meds, falling asleep became difficult).

My measurements are still pretty much the same.  My bra size is around a 42G.  My implants are a full 100 cc's smaller, which should equate to one size smaller.  Perhaps I am still swollen.  However, I am not unhappy with the results.  They are lifted back into place, and I am able to wear cute little bralettes.

Since I am getting tons of comments about my weight, I figured people would be interested in before and after photos in that regard (I don't think most would appreciate nudies of how my boobs are healing).  So, check out some photos from the last few months.  Cheers!


October
November
December
January
January

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Underwater Photoshoot in Vegas...

I have received the photos from my Las Vegas underwater shoot with Brett Stanley, The Underwater Photographer.

Brett was incredibly patient during the shoot.  The nose plug didn't fit properly at first, so I took on some water.  We went over the poses I wanted to do....then we scrapped the plan and he suggested poses I could actually do.  Once you're in the water, everything changes.  It was fairly difficult to get myself positioned, actually stick to the pole, then make a face that wasn't completely hideous.  The panic of NEEDING air took over more than once.

I really love the end result though.  And now that I understand how the whole thing works, I'd love to do another one and plan better poses.  Check them out below:






Thursday, December 22, 2016

Recovery...

As most of you know, I had gastric bypass almost 13 years ago.  I initially lost 165 pounds (and have maintained a little over 110 pounds of that weight loss).  In 2006, I had three rounds of plastic surgery.  The first round included a breast lift and lower body lift (which is an extended tummy tuck). 

Although I had plenty of breast tissue at that time, my surgeon suggested an implant with the lift, as you apparently lose a lot of volume when you do a breast lift.  We discussed a size that I thought I would be happy with.  However, as I was literally going to sleep, he asked, after I'm done with your hips, if I think I can go bigger on top, can I?  I said sure.  Then I woke up with these monsters.  As I was in the recovery room, the nurse yelled over, doctor is on the phone and wants to bring you a support bra, what size do you wear?  I said, 38D.  She laughed and said, oh honey, those aren't D's.  Ugh.  He never brought me a support bra, so I'm guessing I was beyond the sizes they carry. 

I have always felt like my boobs were too big (currently I'm something like a 42DDD aka an F, G or H depending on the brand) and too low (essentially hanging at my elbows), and the nipples dropped unevenly, so earlier this year (ten years later), I went to another surgeon for an opinion on fixing them.  She said that she generally does not do a breast lift with a tummy tuck since you are pulling down what you would like to pull up and gravity always wins.  She warned me that since this was a revision of old work, I may not be fully happy with the results and there was a high risk of having to go in for another round to do some fixes.  I figured it was worth the risk and scheduled my surgery for the day before Thanksgiving.  I scheduled a breast lift, replacement of implants with a smaller implant, and installation of a mesh that would keep them from falling again. 

Before/After
I was pretty nervous on the day of surgery.  It is so much money, and time off work.  You can't go to the gym.  Shit, you can't even lift your arms above your own head or pick up more than five pounds for two weeks.  You don't realize how often you do those things until you can't do them anymore.  Yoga is out for at least six weeks.  Pole is out for probably more like three months.  Your whole life gets uprooted for a cosmetic change. 

I am now a month out from surgery.  I will admit when I first peeled the padding and garment off a couple of days after surgery, I was shocked.  Blood, bruising, angry incisions.  It looked scary.  I thought maybe I had made the wrong choice.  When the drains were pulled out a week later, I started getting a stabbing pain underneath that was apparently my body getting used to the mesh.  I was allowed to pull the tape off at about two weeks.  I was swollen and still pretty scary looking (I accidentally ripped a bunch of skin off with the tape), but I could see that once things relaxed, I was going to be extremely happy with the results. 

Now at a month out, I have people asking me if I've lost weight.  Although, I have lost 15 pounds in the last six weeks or so, what they are really noticing is that you can see my waist now that my boobs are out of the way!  The kicker is that my measurements are exactly the same, but that will go down as swelling settles in the next couple of months.  I'm struggling with getting off the pain pills (I like Percocet a little more than I should) and being patient to let myself heal, but I feel like I made the right choice.  However, there will be very little pole stuff on this blog for another couple of months.  I get to try yoga in a couple of weeks, but I'm still waiting to make sure that under-boob/mesh pain is gone first. 

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!  I will probably touch bases early next year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Milli Vanilli of Pole is Back!

Jade, Alana and I took another routine off YouTube and performed it for Twirly Girls' Trick or Twirl event in October (and found out they probably borrowed it from yet another group).  It is popular, as Jade recently attended a studio party and another group did a version of it as well.  Watch ours here (and don't mind me missing half the routine):



Monday, December 19, 2016

Photoshoot with Lockbox Studios

While I was in Las Vegas for Pole Expo in September, I did a photoshoot with Somer of Lockbox Studios.  I am absolutely thrilled with the end product, so I wanted to share a few.  I also made an album on the Confessions fan page, so you can see a few more HERE.

I know I've been quiet again.  I actually had surgery about three weeks ago.  I will share more about that later!  For now, please enjoy these photos!









Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Real World Problems

I almost felt guilty typing that title.  Real World Problems.  I don't have real world problems.  I have a great job, a warm place to sleep, food on my table, clean water, a new car, great friends and family, enough money to go out and enjoy life.  I don't have any actual problems.  Then why do depression and anxiety still plague me? 

Twelve years ago, I lost 165 pounds and went from being invisible to the world to having so much attention that I couldn't deal.  What a problem to have.  Too many people suddenly liked me.  Wah.  Eight years ago, when I was getting out of a relationship and was being stalked.  Three years ago when I was commuting to San Francisco to a job I could not stand.  Last year, when I went through another break-up of a mediocre relationship I should have known wouldn't work from day one.  Oh yeah, and then when my boss decided to end his life in a completely horrific manner.  I've lost two grandmothers in the last two years.  All, still not problems that should actually ruin me (okay, well I'll give myself a pass on the suicide since that is the most shocking and horrible thing that has ever happened to me and it didn't even happen TO me). 

Privilege at its best.  I'm doing so well in life, I have too much time on my hands to worry about shit that doesn't matter -- thereby causing me anxiety about ... about what?  Sometimes it's so small, it's nothing.  Truly nothing.  Try telling my brain that! 

For years, I battled this.  One day, I am on top of the world.  The next day, I can't even lift my head off the pillow.  There isn't always an obvious trigger.  Sometimes I can figure it out after I'm out of the funk.  But it is very real in my life, and my mind when I'm going through it.  There's only so much "keep your chin up" and "this too shall pass" before I want to scream.  I tried anti-depressants in 2006-2007.  One worked for me for about nine months.  And then it stopped.  I played Russian Roulette two more times.  Then I decided medication wasn't for me at that time.  When I was working in San Francisco a few years back, and was quite literally wanting to hurl myself off the Golden Gate Bridge, one of my doctors handed me an anti-anxiety medication.  He gave me 100 pills with instructions to only take half of a pill (and that half will knock me on my ass).  Two weeks later, he asked if I needed a refill.  Kickback much?  I'm not belittling the benefits of taking medication when it is needed, however, I know that the trade off for me wasn't worth it. 

I have been managing my anxiety and depression fairly well for the last five or six years.  I won't lie, I still pop a half a klonopin when I'm really struggling (I still have the bottle from the original 100 prescribed to me three plus years ago).  I have more good days than bad ones -- and I've had a fair number of amazing days lately.  Even my bad ones are no longer *so* dark.

I have been trying to spend less time on Facebook, because I have noticed an increase in stressed out posts with the elections coming up.  So, I guess the point of my blog post today was to say exactly what I hate:  this too shall pass.  Everyone fears the future since we don't know who will win the election today and people seem to think that these candidates are going to burn the White House down and start a dictatorship as soon as they take office in January.  Guess what?  I am pretty sure life is going to go on.  I am not saying we haven't made a complete mess of our country, but I am pretty sure there have been many other times in history when Chicken Little announced the sky was falling -- and everyone survived.  We need to take care for our future generations, but maybe we can spend more time living in the present instead of predicting inaccurate futures and causing everyone anxiety.

Lately, I have been spending some time acknowledging the things for which I am grateful.  All of those things in the first paragraph....plus.  I do appreciate that I have a job that I enjoy.  I appreciate that my health is good.  I have so much love for my friends and family.  I am thankful every day for the babies.  I find that the more time I spend thinking about these things, the less time I have to worry.  I hope tomorrow when half the country is upset that their candidate didn't win that you can spend some time reflecting on why your life is good and how it truly is a privilege that we even get to choose between two bad candidates.