Friday, February 26, 2010

I'd like to have my Big Mac and eat it too...thankyouverymuch!

You know, when I was overweight, I used to justify it by telling myself, "big girls don't get raped."  How sick is that?  As if that was the perfect reason to stay fat (and its not as if its true anyway).  I'm not sure if I ever had a healthy relationship with food.  My mom would go running a lot and skip dinner when I was a kid.  I recognize that now as a possible eating disorder.  Back then, that was just called a diet.  Diets wreck your metabolism.  A lifetime of dieting is possibly keeping you fat.

As I said before, I am six feet tall so I was always bigger than the other kids.  We aren't born knowing that different is often considered "wrong."  Society imposes that on us.  I remember being at home when I was a pre-teen.  My mom's best friend was in the front room with me.  She pulled me aside to express concern for my weight (I love my Auntie Lori...may she rest in peace...but she battled anorexia her entire life).  I remember the hot flash across my cheeks.  So embarrassing.  She hadn't even finished her talk with me before my mom, head fully upside down, blow-drying her hair in the bathroom, called me in to have the exact same chat -- like we were just chatting about the fun things we'd be doing that day.  I think it hurt my feelings that it was so clearly pre-planned by them and that their execution was flawed because it made me feel attacked since one wasn't even finished talking to me before the other called me over to beat me down some more.  That's probably the first time I truly remember (or at least still remember 20 plus years down the road) feeling ashamed about being bigger.  And, remember, I was not even close to fat yet.  

Its sad how other people's judgments can affect how we feel about ourselves.  I always thought I was just bigger.  And then I was told, naw, you're fat.  This is how the eating disorders start.  People, even those with good intentions, telling you that you need to change. 

When I was 16, my little sister was born.  As she got older, it became clear she was going to be close to my height.  And I already knew what was in store for her.  I lived it!  Even if you are not "fat," when you are a tall girl, your parts are just bigger than everyone else's.  If you are six feet tall and built like a brick house, yes, you ARE going to look like Shrek next to the five foot tall, 95 pound ballet dancer.  It doesn't mean you're fat.  Go back to my previous blog entry...  I'd rather be a stacked Viking warrior than a delicate ballet dancer who can be blown off the deck of a ship any day! 

Anyway, as I watched my little sister grow, I saw a lot of the same issues I had.  She's a tall, built girl.  Not fat.  Just larger than the other kids.  And I knew she was being raised by the same mom (duh).  I remember once trying to give my mom a book about self-esteem and eating disorders for teenagers.  Not really how to treat one, just how to avoid one and build good self-esteem.  She acted like she had no clue what I was talking about.  Of course no one wants to be told that they're doing a bad job of raising their kids -- no one likes to be judged -- and that wasn't my intention.  However, having lived a similar life, I knew what my sister could be -- or would be -- facing.

I started this blog in my mind this morning in the shower.  It was bothering me so much that I had to jump out and start writing it, even though it is making me late to work.  My now 17-year-old gorgeous sister posted on Facebook that she needs to go on a diet.  So the cycle begins.  Oh how I've been there.  Yet oh how I know that no one else's opinion 
matters at that age. 

So I started thinking about the evil enemy: DIET.  And its friend, METABOLISM.  Your metabolism can either help you or hurt you.  Dieting can make you fat if it lowers your metabolism. 

What the hell IS your metabolism anyway?  Check out this article from the UK about dieting and metabolism.  Here are ways to increase your metabolism, which can help you lose weight.  Another article:  Diets make you fat.  Funny...after I posted this, Women's Health sent an e-mail about boosting your metabolism.  Their links sometimes die fast but I thought I'd include it anyway.  Here you go.

I prefer a lifestyle change!  It sounds so cliché now.  Don't diet!  Change your lifestyle!  But it is so true for me.  Everything in moderation...unless its a trigger food, then I really do try to be careful about eating much of it (helloooooooo, white chocolate macadamia nut cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory!!!).  I feel like programs such as Weight Watchers are better lifestyle programs than something like the Atkins diet, which completely cuts carbs and throws your body into ketosis

I came on to this blog recently and stated publicly that I needed to lose weight.  Sure, my self-esteem is a little low because I'm feeling chubby.  But getting the weight off to help my "old lady hip" is becoming more important to me.  Today was my first official weigh in since starting to work out again (thanks to Keith at Tri-Valley Bodyworks for taking my pain away!!) and I lost 4.4 pounds!  I wasn't even tracking calories this week.  That is purely from increasing my exercise.  It feels so good.  I know that part of what will keep my hip bursitis in check is taking some of the weight off.  I had gone up to 228.4 pounds, so I'm down to 224.  I'm still off track from my original goal of losing 5 pounds per month (which I made when I was at 225 pounds), but I'll catch up.  For me, its about healthy, small changes, rather than big, bad DIET changes that will cause my body to freak out and hang on to the weight

Anyway, regardless of your size, you should love yourself.  I really like Dove's beauty campaign.  I know I posted at least one of their videos before, but I wanted to post it again (see below).  If you want to lose weight, do it for yourself and your health, not for anyone else.  

Dove:  Evolution

Just for the fun of it, I've posted some photos below -- old and new.  Fat and skinny.  I am still learning to love myself, regardless of my size. 

Until next time, keep twirling!!

P.S.  Once again, I posted my blog and walked away thinking, I left something out.  I am completely aware that childhood obesity is an epidemic.  I believe that parents should be encouraging their children to eat healthy and exercise (which, was just called "go outside and play" when I was a kid).  I just think it needs to be approached delicately, especially if you are dealing with a child who is already overweight and doesn't need the additional self-esteem hit of, "you are fat, stop eating."  So if you have a child who may have a tendency to eat too many cheesy poofs and play too many video games, please give them positive encouragement.

My beautiful little sister, Lindsey.

My brothers, sister and me (I'm the oldest).  Don't hate on the awesome perm.  I would guess I'm around 10 or 11.

 Lindsey and me when I was around 17.  Again, don't hate on my cool ass hairstyle.

At my highest weight.

My transformation.
Maybe September 2005.

I believe this is February 2006

This is me lookin' like Shrek next to Jen.  I'm not fat, I'm just big boned!!  LOL!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The call of the headstand

Like a Siren, she calls to me.  Oh Headstand.  How I long for thee. 

Well, ok, not the headstand, which I can do...but its what I want to do AFTER the headstand (check out Jen in the video I will attach... @1:10).  I want to do a headstand against the pole, wrap my legs around it, do a sit-up and then climb that pole like a silly little monkey.  That's my goal. 

Our classes at Twirly Girls have been going really well!  I feel like Rita and I are improving so much every week.  I'm sure it helps that we can practice at home.  Clearly, I realize I'm still learning, but all that matters is that we are progressing!  Rita puts together amazing videos for us each week to watch our progress and fun photo collages.  We are meeting so many nice people through our class.  I had a rough couple of years, but 2010 is shaping up quite nicely to be a great year and I have Rita, Bel and all of the Twirly Girls to thank for that!  I will keep this one short.  I mostly wanted to tell my girls how much I love them and then show off Rita's latest creations!

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Bel & Doug!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What inspires you?

There is nothing like walking into a dark, dirty, rock club.  Your shoes are sticking to the floor and you don't want to know why.  You can barely see.  You NEVER use the bathroom.  The music is so loud, you can't hear yourself think.  I love live music.  I love the atmosphere.  I like when the bass is so loud, it makes my heart skip a beat and the hair on my arms stand up.

When I was at my fattest, I had started to withdraw.  Who wants to go out when all you do is sweat like a pig, pant and feel like crap?  On my sister's 18th birthday, we went to Hard Rock Cafe in San Francisco.  A band was playing.  They were originally from Hawaii but had recently re-located to the East Bay.  Hey, that's right around the corner from me!  Their name was Sunburn: Neil, Jake, Sean, Johnny and Gavin.  Five really nice guys.  Neil sang a song to my sister for her birthday and then told us about a show closer to our house the next week.  I took my cousin and she and one of the guys hit it off, which meant we were hanging out with them more.  So began my love affair with the local band/live music scene.

I realized I was becoming somewhat anti-social.  I had gone through a bad breakup and was having financial problems.  So the music came around at the perfect time for me.  I started helping them out, doing an e-mail list for their shows and sometimes selling merchandise.  It got me out of the house and introduced me to a whole new set of friends (ten plus years later, I am still friends with most of these people).

As I learned, bands change, break up and move on all the time.  As Sunburn ended, Neil met up with Erich, Jeff and Jesse to start Koi.  Koi then morphed into All The New.  I believe Erich likes to describe their music as alternative rock/progressive metal.  Eventually Jeff left the band, bringing on a string of other guitarists.  Then Neil left, which introduced John to the band as a singer and guitar player.  Recently, Devin joined as lead guitarist.  Erich remains as bass player and Jesse as drummer.  It seems like they have a good group now.  They had a show just last weekend.  It had a little bit of a Tool feel (one of my favorite "famous" bands).  It was the first time I'd been out in quite awhile.  I realized how much I miss it.  I LOVE live music.  It makes me happy.  I can even listen to bad bands, although I've been lucky to have been introduced to many amazing local bands. 

During the Sunburn days, they entered a battle of the bands contest.  They did a great job, but lost to a band called Ones and Zeros.  It was a well-deserved win, although my boys rocked it too!  I still keep in touch with their lead singer/guitarist, Jesse, and their former drummer, Rocky, and former bassist, Jason.  (LOVE Facebook for this kind of stuff!)

Along the way, I've also been introduced to the amazing Rockin' Rachie Pants.  She started off doing acoustic gigs in coffee houses and now fronts her very own band, Second Story Fall.  Her song, "Still," is still my favorite.

I am a huge Sublime fan and saw a tribute band called Lou Dog Trio in Walnut Creek a couple of years ago.  It turns out, they also have their own original band called Audiodub.  These boys know how to give you a good show.  Dustin, Joe and Jordan are all really nice, down to earth guys.  They always take time to say hi and hang out after their shows.

One of my favorite bands in the entire world is Pepper.  They aren't a local band -- more independent.  I met the drummer, Yesod at a show in San Francisco (he was very sweet)  and the guitarist/singer, Kaleo, at a show in Modesto (got a photo to prove it -- woohooo!!).  I think all three of them - Bret, Kaleo and Ye are all smokin' hot.  They are also originally from Hawaii.  They put on a kick-ass show and I would recommend it to anyone who likes concerts!! 

I have run into many amazing people and great bands over the last ten plus years (has it REALLY been that long?!).  I appreciate what music does for me.  It brought me out of a very dark place, even though I very much wanted to stay there.  Even though I no longer reside in that place, I still love live music.  I like the feeling you get when you walk through the door.  The crowd is buzzing and the room is ALIVE.  There is no feeling like it.  And this year, I'm making it a goal to get back into concerts and local shows.

 What inspires you?  I'd love to hear about it. 

Monday, February 22, 2010

How do you fuel your body?

Protein intake is so important when you're working out.  I've heard a lot of people say you should only get your protein from food sources, however I don't necessarily agree with that. 

There are different types of protein...

Today, I am going to focus on whey protein

RNY Gastric bypass surgery works in two different ways.  It staples your stomach to make it smaller (the receptors that tell you that you are FULL are at the top of your stomach, so if you've stretched it enough, you may never feel that sensation).  It also bypasses some of your intestines to make you malabsorptive.  (How it works.)  This means that you would absorb fewer calories after surgery.  But this also means you absorb fewer nutrients.  It is very important to take your vitamins and supplements after surgery (this is actually important to most people in general, as our soils have been stripped of many nutrients anyway).

I am six years post-surgery.  For at least the first five of those years, I had to drink a whey protein shake every morning.  If I missed my shake for even a week (even if I replaced it with a food source with the same amount of protein), I'd start getting light headed and blacking out.  For me, whey has always worked better than soy (this past year, I traded out my protein shake for cottage cheese and peaches, and its worked so far...I have no idea why).  And, for that time, the shake clearly worked better than trying to EAT that much protein.  Some doctors will tell you they don't want you to use meal replacements, but you have to do what works for you.  And blacking out randomly wasn't really my thing.

People used to come to our support group meetings bragging about the high number of grams of protein in their shakes.  One of the protein powders boasts 55 grams of protein per scoop.  Sounds like a great deal if you're supposed to get 75 to 100 grams of protein per day after surgery.  I have always heard that the body absorbs about 30 grams of protein per sitting (so, basically an hour).  So, if you decided to have your 55 gram shake (at 250 calories per scoop (estimated) instead of my 30 gram shake at 125 calories per scoop), you wasted all of those calories and didn't even get the benefit of all of the protein!

While researching this topic, I actually found a very interesting article.  The author actually claims you can only absorb about 15 grams in an hour and a half...  Read here.  And another article that says your body will eventually adapt to the protein you eat.

One thing I've learned after surgery is that EVERY body is different.  So what works for me might not work for you.  But protein is an important nutrient for our bodies, whether we've had surgery or not.  We only have one life and one body, so make sure you take care of it.  :-)

Until next time, keep twirling!

BONUS:  Great book for weight loss surgery patients:  The Success Habits of Weight-Loss Surgery Patients by Colleen Cook.  Want to get in shape?  Make it a goal.  Try a 5k (its "only" three can do it)!  I also just signed up for sparkpeople.  I figure it can't hurt!  I still need to lose 45 pounds by my birthday.  My user name on there is lolorashel if you want to add me!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hurts so good...or does it?

You know, when I weighed 350 pounds, I didn't have a lot of health problems or pain (I mean, my feet would hurt sometimes but that's to be expected...they were hauling a heavy load).  Mostly I lucked out because I was in my mid-20's and they hadn't shown up yet.  So now I've taken all these steps to lose weight and be healthier and I spend more time at the doctor's office than ever before!  Did I abuse my body and now its punishing me?  Is it just because I'm older?  What IS the deal?!  I am way too young to feel this old!

Let me explain.  Recently, I was told I most likely have bursitis in my left hip.  The pain varies from day to day.  Most days, I am at a "3 or 4" (on a scale of 10).  Noticeable but not terrible and definitely manageable.  Other days, I'm at a 7.  Those days, I notice I have a lot less patience with stupidity and cry about lame things (after the surgeries I've had, I KNOW what a 10 feels like and, I guess I should be grateful that my current body aches don't take me there).  I can't always predict what will cause me to have a bad day.  I've had "bad hips" for years.  Whether I walked around Lafayette Reservoir (under three miles) or hiked Half Dome in Yosemite (roundtrip, around 18-20 miles, depending on the route), my hips would hurt the same.  Within the last four months or so, the left started hurting worse than the right.  Maybe from years of horseback riding since that's the leg I would use to mount.  I also have lower back pain.  That was left over from being fat.  I also carry some mid-back pain.  That started after I lost weight and had all of that skin hanging off the front of me.  I am a desk worker so I also get to enjoy upper-back/shoulder/neck pain.  So, the addition of the hip to all the other pain I've been carrying around pushed me over the edge. 

It got me thinking about pain management.  Of course, there are the obvious pain medications.  Who doesn't love to get a little boo-boo so they can call their doctor up and order an economy-sized bottle of Vicodin?  Shoot, I still have a bottle of Percocet left over from my plastic surgeries -- maybe I should break into it!  But I try to be a responsible little patient and avoid abusing my good relationship with my doctor (not that she'd write me a prescription if she didn't believe I needed one, but I'm sure its not difficult to cry a little and get whatever I "needed"). 

There are all kinds of ways to manage pain without medication.  

Exercise:  I know if I am exercising regularly (good, old-fashioned cardio and weight lifting), I have less pain in general.  Throw a couple of yoga classes in each week, and I'm usually good to go.  

Massage:  This is probably my favorite way to relieve pain.  But still, the emphasis is about relieving it instead of preventing it.  I would like to prevent pain!

Acupuncture/acupressure:  I have never tried this, but I am game!  I'd love to hear your experience with it!

Chiropractor:  I have gone to a chiropractor for the last five years or so.  After gastric bypass, the back pain got pretty bad.  But it was never a permanent fix and I have to go every month or so just to keep the pain from getting too bad.  

Meditation:  I have heard good things about meditating.  This is also one where I would love to hear about your experiences.  

Physical therapy:  I'm sure, depending on the injury, physical therapy could be helpful.  But I imagine they are going to give you exercises and stretches to do...all things I can do on my own without taking time off work to drive out of my way for another appointment!

Good posture/ergonomic desk set-up:  This is probably key to avoiding pain in my upper-back, neck and shoulders.  I recently reconfigured my desk to sit properly and that actually brought on a whole new bunch of pain.  Mostly because my body had clearly gotten used to the bad set-up.  I'm powering through, though, and hope that the pain will go away once my body gets used to the NEW (and correct) set-up.  

Heat and ice:  I have been using ice on my hip and heat on my back.  However, I was recently housesitting and sat in their hot tub.  That REALLY helped my hip (I had two full days of practically no pain at all).  I also determined that a bathtub does not provide the same relief.  Apparently the circulation of the water is important. 

Reiki:  I went to a Reiki session once.  I liked it but I also felt slightly unfulfilled.  The session costs about as much as a massage so I think I'd rather be rubbed down.  I would love to hear about your personal experiences with Reiki though.  

Epsom salt:  I have started using this to keep down swelling in my body.  Sometimes I'll wake up with 8 pounds of water weight and that hurts!  

BioFreeze (or Icy Hot):  This is something I can use on my back when its really having a bad day.  I prefer BioFreeze.  But I caution against using it and then lying on a heated pad.  That's no bueno.  I got a chemical burn from that once.  Whoops.  Guess I should have read the insert. 

I have been on Facebook making daily complaints about my pain.  My friend, Melissa, asked me to go see her friend.  He's a bodywork specialist.  What the hell is that?!  At first I said no.  I'm poor...I can't spend money on that.  But she convinced me.  And I am so glad she did (I have a kidney for sale if anyone is interested...visits to Keith will be my crack habit).  ;-) 

His name is Keith Ortiz.  His company is Tri-Valley Bodyworks, located in Dublin, California.  

First Keith had me describe all of my pain (and when it rains, it pours). He had me stand and he evaluated different areas of my spine and hips.  I had to touch my toes.  Do minor back bends.  It only took a few adjustments before touching my toes didn't hurt AT ALL.  I laid on the table for various adjustments. He adjusted my hips, back, shoulders, neck.  He then did some deep tissue work on my lower back, mid-back, neck and shoulders.  Last night, I looked straight down again.  No pain or pull!!  I couldn't even tell you the last time I could do that with no pain!

This was nothing like the chiropractor (way more advanced) and a lot more intense than a massage.  It was amazing how he could poke and around and he'd just KNOW where my "spot" was.  I asked him how he could tell.  He said that damaged muscle feels differently than healthy muscle.  He said some women think they have cellulite on their legs and its actually damaged muscle (oh dear, sweet baby Jesus, please let THAT be the reason my legs look the way they do, because that's fixable!!).  

Keith gave me a full 90 minutes of evaluation AND demonstration of his abilities. He also does scar release work, which I absolutely need.  My inner thigh scars are especially bad (in that range of motion has been affected, not that they look far as scars go, they look good, but they are tight.  I couldn't do the splits to save my life, even with practice).  My arm scars are also limiting my range of motion slightly.  My lower body lift scar is hard at the "upside down T."  When I was in Hawaii, I  met with a massage therapist who insisted that scar tissue could be turned back into regular tissue with the proper work.  I felt one of Keith's scars.  It looked like a scar but was soft like regular skin!

So, even though body work like this will not fix everything overnight, I did get some immediate relief (who doesn't love instant gratification?!):

I could touch my toes without the pull in my lower back.

When I left, there was no pain in my hip. My muscles were sore but it just felt like I had finished a good workout.

When I got home, I did a cross-legged forward bend and there was no "catch" in my hips.  My hips felt more open.  

Also, usually when I look down, my neck and upper back are so tight,  it is extremely painful. I was able to look down with absolutely no pain.  

Last night, I sat still for two hours at dinner (which is usually the kiss of death for me) and was very sore when I first stood up.  But I was able to walk it off pretty quickly. Not that I'm pain-free completely, but it has diminished enough to make me a believer in Keith's abilities.  After soaking in an epsom salt bath last night, I also iced the hip and used heat on the mid-back.

This morning I woke up feeling better than I have in a very long time.  My hip didn't hurt and my neck was still pretty good.  I think I need to check my pillow because it was irritating me last night.  The upper back, shoulder and neck pain did kick in again when I sat down at the computer to work but I hope that with continued proper body alignment and future visits to Keith, this pain will continue to diminish.  

I have an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon on Thursday.  I am not sure if they are going to suggest a shot or surgery.  But I hope that with Keith's help, I can avoid future surgery on my hip and begin living as pain free as possible.

P.S. Because I believe in Keith's skills, and I want everyone to feel the relief that I feel, I want to point out that he offers a special if you buy his time in blocks.  You can share it with friends and family!  CLICK HERE.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

This is my friend, Rita!

Fast Five Questions with Rita:

1. What first drew you to pole dancing?

I have been looking for a way to exercise that would be fun. I wanted to laugh, get fit, and feel pretty. When this opportunity arose, I thought why not. I was so nervous that first night. I truly am a very shy person inside and feel ugly most of the time. But Bel and you made that night so much fun. Finally a place to get fit, feel pretty, and laugh. The added bonus of Bel and the Twirly Girl community has made this perfect fit. (A big bonus has been having a friend make this journey with me. Thank You Lori.)

2. You recently put up a pole in your own often do you pole?

I try to pole 4 or 5 times a week, even if it is only 30 minutes. I can see the progress. I have learned more about how to move my body and have made progress on my nemesis-the front leg hook. Not perfected, but better. I have also learned I need a longer warm up time and to not think too much. I look forward to the time of day when I can put on my new little skirt outfit and heels. I turn up the music and work out. I always feel better after.

3. I understand someone recently commented that pole dancing "at your age" was due to a mid-life crisis. Do you feel like you need to justify your choice in fitness routines?

At first I did not tell people the truth. I called it a “dance class”. I am not that way anymore. Now I say you should be so lucky to be around such wonderful people, feel the empowerment and fun of pole fitness. I am so happy to be doing this. Age is not about years, but rather your attitude about the years. If I feel better about myself, I feel “younger”. I also invite those who doubt to join a class. So far no one has.

4. What does your 13-year-old daughter think of pole dancing?

She is 13. She could care less about me pole dancing. However, my daughter loves the pole in my house. She compares it to the tetherball pole from grammar school. She and her friends used to swing around it. That is what she still does. She spins around it so fast with pretty landings. After every class I have to show her a new spin. She can also climb to the top with no effort. I hope to one day be half as good as her. She and I are having fun. It has been another side benefit to this endeavor.

5. You are an employee at a local college. I imagine most of your students might not know of your new adventures. But for those that do, what do they think of it?

All my students know about my pole dancing because they saw photos and I talked about how excited and happy I am. They were initially uncomfortable. (I am somewhat of a mother figure for them.) I respect their feelings and make sure not to talk about it at work anymore. Recently, one student commented on a photo and said nice photo. Seems they are very slowly changing their minds.

I feel very lucky to have finally found a way to get fit, have fun, and feel better about myself. I owe it all to Twirly Girls, Bel, and you Lori. Thank You.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Twirl Around The World!

This post comes from an e-mail I sent around recently.  I'm still looking for submissions so I can mark a map and post photos on Facebook!

This month, we've been given a scavenger hunt of sorts. We are supposed to find old fire houses with poles in them and take a picture. We took to Facebook to see if we could find firemen friends to help us out. We started getting lots of responses -- many of them from out of town.

So that got us thinking. How far away CAN the Twirly Girls reach?  We are asking our friends to find a pole (whether its at a fire station or just the stop sign down the street), either print the logo below or just write "I heart Twirly Girls" on some paper! We don't care! Take a picture of yourself then email it, along with who you are and where you're from, to Lori at tazzie at yahoo dot com. (It doesn't have to be "dirty," you can just take a photo standing next to a pole if you want; and even if its June, please send us a pic anyway!)

We are going to collect the photos, mark a map and watch our little game Twirl Around The World!

Have fun and be creative! We can't wait to see the pictures!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Food: The Final Frontier

This morning I caught a few minutes of the Dr. Oz show.  Carnie Wilson, one of the most famous gastric bypass patients, was a guest.  Clearly, she has gained some of her weight back.  I don't judge her for that (hello, I'm up about 45 pounds myself right now).  But it reminds me that my goal of not gaining anymore weight (and, actually losing that 45 pounds) is so important. 

Before surgery, so many gastric bypass patients feel like they've won the weight loss lottery.  THIS IS IT!  You're going to lose your weight, be skinny, turn into a rockstar, never pay your bills again, and live happily ever after.  You spend about a year losing weight, being the center of attention...hearing compliments about how great you look, talking about how awesome you feel.  Then  -- CRASH.  You still have to get up every day, go to work, pay your bills, and no one cares about how skinny you are anymore.  You aren't the girl (or guy) losing weight and looking like a different person every day anymore.  You are  And who are you?  Are you the fat girl who sat in the corner, quietly chatting only with the people who came up to you?  Are you the thin(ner) girl who dances on table tops, still trying to be the center of attention?  And, what do you look like with your clothes off?  You look amazing (to everyone else) with your clothes on.  But naked, you look like a saggy elephant.  Most woman compare their post-weight loss boobs to "socks with oranges in the bottom."  Nice visual.  I had them.  They're not cute.

Gastric bypass works two ways.  It makes your stomach smaller so that you can't eat as much.  And it bypasses some of your intestines so that you don't absorb all of the calories you eat.  However, as time passes, you can eat more and more food (plus, if you're really "good," you learn how to eat more often during the day and consume more calories than you should).  Eventually, you are relying on your own willpower once again.  You hope that you have set up the good habits to continue eating in a healthy manner, but bad habits so easily creep back in.  A little taste of chocolate.  A couple of French fries.  A sliver of CAKE!  Ooooh, who doesn't LOVE cake?! 

In a previous blog, I mentioned that I can eat whatever I want when I'm exercising.  I should probably qualify that.  Carnie mentioned that she eats a little too much cheesecake.  I too love cheesecake.  But I have it like three times a year.  So, yes, if I'm working out, I can eat whatever I "want," but what I want to eat doesn't include daily cheesecake.  I just know that if I'm working out consistently, I can eat more calories and I don't have to think as hard about what I'm putting in my mouth.  As long as its not french fries and cheesecake, I maintain pretty well.

Let's be honest, most people are overweight from overeating and not exercising.  I hear the medication excuse but that's the exception rather than the rule.  And honestly, even that excuse is still an excuse.  Its really not usually the medication that makes you gain weight.  A lot of times, it changes your metabolism and so you should have adjusted your food intake and exercise to counter that (see my note at the end of this blog).  Most overweight people are emotional eaters.  One of my biggest issues with the gastric bypass surgery is that post-surgery therapy isn't absolutely required.  You over-ate for a reason.  You're bored. Sad.  Mad.  Happy.  Food was your friend.  You used it to celebrate.  You used it to mourn.  And sometimes, after surgery, people have to mourn the loss of their best friend (which usually makes you want to eat, right?!).  But that best friend was stabbing you in the back!  Every time you turned to her, she was making you gain weight -- setting you up for health problems later in life.  Sometimes you have to clean house in the friend department.  And your friend, food, needs to go!

I mentioned before that Weight Watchers and Overeaters Anonymous didn't work for me.  However, those might just be excuses because I didn't want to be tied down to a program.  I think if you're going to follow a program, Weight Watchers is a healthy way to go.  They usually promote well-rounded eating, rather than cutting something out completely.  I feel like cutting something out completely usually causes you to crave it and, eventually, you'll binge on it.  However, if you know you can't take a bite of cheesecake without wolfing down the entire cake, perhaps its a trigger food you should avoid. 

Clearly, I'm not a doctor.  These are all just my opinions and personal experiences.  My general rule is:  If calories in are less than calories out, you will lose weight.  I realize there are many opinions about carbs, eating late at night, and things like that, but I try to keep it simple.  I wanted to share some websites that might be helpful to others who have issues with food.

Here is the link to see Carnie Wilson's appearance on the Dr. Oz show:

Carnie Wilson's video

Carnie Wilson promo

This is a link to Freddy Camacho's blog, Look Better Naked.  Freddy is famous in the fitness world for working with Crossfit. This blog has great food suggestions.

Good calorie counters (and other tools for weight loss or management):

Calorie Counter (

Calorie Counter (

What is your BMR?

How many calories can YOU eat in a day?

Article: How many calories should you eat?

What is your ideal body weight?

What is your BMI (basic calculator)?

And somewhat unrelated -- love yourself!

I know that we all love to eat.  If you have a food addiction, it becomes a whole different ball game.  Unlike other addictions, you can't cut food out of your life.  So you have to figure out what works for you.  For me, its following a balanced diet with allowances to cheat (i.e., live my life).

Until next time, I'll keep twirling (but without the cheeseburger in my hand).  ;-)


P.S.  I started thinking about my comment about medication weight gain.  I do want to clarify because I am very sensitive to medications.  With the last medication I tried, I gained 15 pounds in two weeks.  Yuck.  I just wanted to make sure people didn't think I don't believe that medication can cause weight gain, because I do believe that it can.  I just feel like, its not usually the medication...its your metabolism reacting to the medication.  I can eat about 2,500 calories a day to maintain my weight.  But if I gained 15 pounds in two weeks, I gained about a pound a day.  One pound equals 3,500 calories.  So that means (supposedly), I was eating 6,000 calories per day to gain that weight?!  I don't think so.  Or if I was, I was doing it in my sleep.  So, maybe on that medication, I can only eat 1,500 calories per day.  I really don't know.  I'm not an expert on this and have yet to find a doctor who can actually explain it to me (trust me, I've asked a few).  I also routinely gain 8-plus pounds each month of water weight.  And sometimes only 5 come off.  What's that about?!  I don't know.  The body is still a mystery to me but I have to believe that sometimes I must be doing something to keep that weight on even if I didn't necessarily eat food to initially gain it.  I'd love to hear people's opinions and comments on this subject!  For now, I am:  Twirly Girl-Fact Gatherer! 


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Lori: The Twirling Viking Warrior?

I've been looking at photos from my pole fitness studio, Twirly Girls Pole Fitness, through Facebook.  Each week, there are photos of this girl, Jennifer.  She has the most amazing body, flexibility and strength.  I was so jealous.  She can do all the things I want to do on the pole!  Recently, I met Jennifer.  She's the size of one of my legs!  SO tiny!  So, then I start asking myself.  Even if I was in the best shape of my life, would *I* be able to do what Jennifer does?  I would guess her to be under 5 feet tall and under 100 pounds -- and PURE muscle.  I'm well over twice her size!  Can a six foot tall body hang off a pole and do all the things that a five foot tall body can?  Is it all relative?  Her toned muscles have to hold up a lot less than my flabby muscles do.  I'm not taking away from the amazing things she can do!  But am I setting myself up to fail by thinking or hoping that I too could hold the poses that Jennifer can?

Time will tell, although I have already admitted that I like cream puffs too much to truly have hopes of looking anything like Jennifer.  Bel said that when she met me, she immediately thought of a viking warrior.  I get an image of a strong woman with long flowing hair, carrying a bow and arrow or sword and wearing a fur-lined bikini.  I can live with that image!  Because of my height, I am often called Amazon, so its not too far from something I've imagined before.  Maybe I will never have the slim, dancer's body, or a super-toned, muscular body.  I can only be me.

Rita has been awesome, videoing some of our classes, to show our progress and help us pick out the things we need to work on. 

The first video was probably taken at the very end of Level 1 or beginning of Level 2.  That means we've only had four or five classes.  This isn't my favorite.  The shoes I'm wearing were sticking to the floor and its hard to do some moves if I have to pick up my feet (if you want super cute, but reasonably-priced shoes, check out FUNky Pair!).  Plus, I just don't like looking like Shrek next to Bel.

Level 1 at Twirly Girls

The second video is about half way through Level 2.  We've only been in two more classes, but we are more aware of the cameras and how our moves come across.  Its also easier for me to do some of these moves without shoes on.

Marilyn is another instructor at Twirly Girls and taught a Burlesque dance class.  Keep in mind we have no dance experience and we learned this in an hour and then performed it.  I thought we did pretty well! is how I WANT to look when I pole dance:

A girl can dream.  For now, I am Lori: Twirling Viking Warrior Princess.  Who likes to eat cream puffs.  :-)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

To Pole or not to Pole...that is the question!

*WARNING*  This story ended up being WAY longer than I expected...and is just a back story of how I got to where I am now (body-wise).  It will probably be very boring to most people, but I wrote it so I'm posting it.  :-)


While pole fitness is definitely my new, shiny toy, I am not new to the fitness world.  I have spent a lot of time and money trying to get myself into shape.

I am six feet tall, so regardless of my weight, I've always been a "big girl."  I probably started getting chunky in my teen years.  My dad said he noticed it after he and my mom split when I was 12.  I don't really remember it that way.  I don't remember feeling "fat" anyway.  I remember at age 4, people sometimes thought I was already closer to age 8.  So I think I considered myself tall, not fat.  I remember being in PE my freshman or sophomore year of high school and just being a huge disappointment to one of the male instructors.  I didn't run or jump or do anything really physical.  My junior year of high school, I went on a bit of a fitness kick and joined a step aerobics class.  That teacher was much impressed by senior year of high school.  I wasn't small by any means but I had toned up and was clearly a little more interested in my health and fitness.  I was probably still 180 pounds then.  Maybe a size 12.

Then college happened.

I was going to college and working full time.  So I was out of the house a good portion of my day.  I was eating fast food for all three meals each day.  I packed on some weight.  And a lot of it.  I think my top weight was around 285 pounds.  Maybe a little more or less.  I don't think I had quite hit 300 pounds.  When I was around 20-21 years old, phen fen hit the market.  I was on it for 8-9 months.  I got down to 235 pounds.  I was around a size 22.  But after you've been almost 300 pounds, that feels pretty good!  I looked and felt a lot better than I had in years.  I suffered a lot of side effects, but I didn't care because I WAS "SKINNY!"  Unfortunately, after they took that drug off the market, I skyrocketed back up to 300 pounds pretty quickly.

I worked out a lot.  When I was overweight, I was sometimes at the gym seven days a week.  I did Weight Watchers.  I'd lose some weight, then put it back on.  My doctor made me try Overeaters Anonymous.  Unfortunately, when you're food obsessed, talking about it all day just makes you want to eat more.  So neither of those programs were for me.  They say that once you have so much weight to lose, you just can't do it on your own.  Only 1 person in 20 can lose such a large amount of weight.  The body fights you.  It thinks you're starving it to death, so it creates plateaus.  Most people give up and then they gain all of their weight back plus some bonus weight. 

I was around 23 years old when I went to the doctor's office for my yearly visit and had hit 300 pounds.  The next year, it was 315.  The next year, 330 and the next I was 345.  I was easily a size 28 or 30.  No clothes fit well or looked good.  My feet hurt if I walked.  I was a sweaty mess if I did ANYTHING.  I was facing a life of health problems if I didn't change something fast.    And I was only 26 years old and I was looking at a lifetime of possible ailments: diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure, sleep apnea... 

The year I went to the doctor and hit my top weight of 347 pounds, I begged her for help.  My friend had recently had gastric bypass and I hoped it would help me.  If I didn't have to THINK about food, I just knew I could lose the weight.  She agreed.  There were some bumps along the way (I'll spare you the boring details) but on March 17, 2004 (at age 27), I had my RNY gastric bypass surgery at UCSF.  I'm now a St. Patty's Day "baby."  I call it my new-birthday because it was the day I was re-born.  I lost 30 pounds before surgery.  I was 317 pounds on surgery day.  Hey I just put that together!  I was 317 pounds and I had my surgery on 3/17.  Now if the lottery Gods could just send me my $317 million, I'd be set!  :-D

Sorry...I digress!

The next year was quite the weight loss journey.  I lost so much weight each month that I had to completely replace my wardrobe every two months.  I never plateaued and, at around 9 months out, I started blacking out.  I was losing weight too quickly and my body was letting me know.  So my doctor made me force a plateau by eating more food than a gastric bypass patient normally should (which is accomplished by just eating more meals throughout the day since my stomach was -- and still is -- limited on how much it can take at one time -- but this is also how a lot of gastric bypass patients fail).  I had low blood pressure and low blood sugar.  But I was, by then, down to around 190 pounds.  I hadn't been that size since high school!  I was ecstatic.  And I also looked like a shar pei with my clothes off.  I have to admit that, because the weight was coming off so easily, I got lazy at the gym.  Why work out when you don't have to?!  Big mistake.  And I tell all potential gastric bypass patients that working out is the most important thing they can do after surgery!

After my body finally settled down, I hired a personal trainer and lost another 10 or so pounds.  My lowest weight after surgery was 179 pounds.  I was a size 12.  I was back at the gym, working with a personal trainer (this was in early 2005), but the skin just can't recover from that.  Eventually, I did suffer from the correction that most gastric bypass patients go through...I gained back 15 pounds. 

In 2006, I had three rounds of plastic surgery to tighten and remove the saggy skin (Big THANK YOU to my plastic surgeon, Kevin Degnan in Walnut Creek.  He's an artist!!!).  I had a lower body lift and breast lift/augmentation in February.  I had my arms and inner thighs done in June.  And then I had a little clean up work (the "bra overhang") done in November.  It was a difficult and painful year.  I don't think I stepped foot in the gym once.  I had 14 pounds of skin removed from my mid-section with the lower body lift (basically, a tummy tuck, but you are cut around the entire body instead of just the front).  I ended that year weighing around 195 pounds.  Strangely, though, despite the skin removal, I never saw that weight loss on the scale and I still wore around the same size...a 12 or 14, depending on the brand. 

I started a medication in early 2007 that caused me to gain 25 pounds pretty quickly.  My top weight (post-gastric bypass) was 222.  My scars hurt when I gain weight.  They really are what keeps me honest.  So in September of 2007, I headed back to the gym.  I signed up with a small group training class where I met my now-good friends, AJ and John (among others), as well as our awesome trainer, Kim.  I am not a morning person but for six months or so, I met the group at 5:30 AM to train.  When I couldn't afford to pay for training anymore, I continued working out with AJ (at the same un-Godly hour).  I also eventually signed up for pilates reformer training with John.  I was in the best shape of my life.  In June 2008, John took me to the top of Half Dome.  It was the most amazing and draining experience of my life.  I had gotten myself back down to 201 pounds.

In September 2008, my office went virtual and I began to work from home.  I tried to keep up the early morning routine but it is sometimes difficult when there is no reason for me to be up that early.  By February/March 2009, I couldn't do it anymore.  What a huge mistake.  Having a reliable gym partner is probably the most helpful tool you can have when trying to get in shape.  I would go into the gym later in the morning to work out but I was definitely not working out as hard as I was when I had AJ pushing me.  The weight didn't start creeping up immediately, but two more medication changes/additions put more weight back on me almost overnight (with the first medication change, I put 15 pounds on in two weeks...that hurts!!).

In September 2009, I started commuting to Alameda and in October, I moved to Clayton.  This usually creates a two and a half to three hour round trip commute each day.  So, skipping the gym was getting easier and easier.  My weight was creeping up again.

Rita and I started Twirly Girls Pole Fitness in December 2009.  I was edging up close to 220 pounds again.  I set a goal:  lose 5 pounds a month for 8 months, so I'll be down 40 pounds by my birthday.  That means I'm setting a goal to be back to my lowest post-gastric bypass weight.  I can do this.  Of course, the day after I set this goal, I got sick and had some more medication issues (post-gastric bypass, I am VERY sensitive to medications and PMS water weight).  I gained 8 pounds of water weight within a couple of days.  Those pounds started coming off but haven't completely gone away.  So, as it stands TODAY, I am 225 pounds.  I hate saying that.  It makes me feel fat.  I mean, I am still wearing the same clothes...they just fit a little tight and I don't like how I look in them.  But I am committed to making the change to be a healthier person. 

So, I sit here on the 2nd day of February in 2010.  I am starting my third month of Twirly Girls.  I am having so much fun and I am meeting so many amazing people.  I can already tell a difference in my arms.  In addition to pole fitness, I am also doing yoga twice a week (battling some hip and lower back pain issues...I'll save the "old lady hip" stories for another day), cardio DVDs at home three to four times a week, spinning (on a bike) once a week, and doing a circuit training class one a week.  Long story (VERY long story) short...I am back in business on the work-out front.

I feel like working out is so important.  I know that the gastric bypass surgery is a tool, not the magic fix.  For the rest of my life, I will have to watch what I'm eating and exercise.  And finding something fun and interesting is what will keep me working out.  I know that, if I'm working out consistently, my food doesn't matter.  I can eat almost whatever I want (my stomach fills up quickly so I feel full still and I am still sensitive to sugar so I can't overindulge too much).  So, why wouldn't I want to work out?  If I love food so much, working out is the key to continuing to hang out with my buddy, FOOD!  Whether its pole dancing or another type of exercise, I know I need to be doing something.  Then why not pole dancing?  Its fun and I enjoy it.  That is all that matters.  This is the point where I could launch into how irritated I am that some people judge me for that choice, but I will save that for another day.

Last but not least, regardless of my weight or size, I am learning to love myself no matter what.  I need to be healthy.  Not skinny.  And Twirly Girls has helped me with that. 

So, to pole or not to pole?  Of course...I choose to pole!