No Loss, No Gain

So this is the first week since my surgery on February 1 that I did not lose any weight. The good news is that I didn’t gain any weight either! So, as of Friday, June 1, my weight loss remains at 103 pounds. Still not too shabby for four months post op!

Last week was no ordinary week for me. I have the privilege of serving as the Dean of the East Ohio Conference UMC Clergy Licensing School and our school was in session at the University of Mount Union last week. Our schedule during Licensing School is pretty intense with our days starting at 7:00 a.m. and not ending until after 9:00 p.m. It was a great week with a wonderful new class of gifted clergy! Of course, being away, though, my routine was altered. I didn’t get to the pool and the menu for the week was not completely within my control. The food at Mount Union is always very good, but I needed to supplement with protein bars and shakes. And admittedly, I snacked a bit more on protein bars (particularly late at night to stay awake!) than I probably should have. All in all, though, I think I did pretty well.

Another positive aspect of staying at 103 pounds is that it gave me more time to memorize Psalm 103. During the busy week I didn’t have as much time to devote to that discipline as I had planned.

I am back at the pool this week and anticipate a new “favorite number” on Friday.

Until then, peace …

100 pound ribbon

Wearing the 100-pound ribbon given to my by my dear friend, Elizabeth

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Singing Praises

Over the last week as I anticipated hitting the 100-pound mark on this weight loss journey, I’ve been meditating on Psalm 100. It is a psalm I memorized as a child in Bible Club and I found myself reciting it again and again in the last several days (in the King James Version I learned, of course!).

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.

Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

This Spring I led a short-term Disciple class on the Psalms at my church, so the psalms have been a focus in recent weeks. One of my personal take-aways from the class was that I need to memorize more psalms. Over the last few days as I reflected on ways to mark my potential 100-pound loss, I decided that each week I will memorize the psalm that correlates with my current weight loss until I get to 150 pounds. Now those who are familiar with scripture may wonder what I will do if there is a weekly weigh-in that reveals my weight loss as 119 pounds! That would be quite an undertaking as there are 176 verses in that psalm! But I am committed to memorizing the psalms and I’ll take it as it comes … and maybe pray that my weekly weigh-ins go from 118 to 120!

So this coming week I am memorizing Psalm 103 (from the New Revised Standard Version instead of King James now).

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and do not forget all his benefits—
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works vindication
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far he removes our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion for his children,
so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
14 For he knows how we were made;
he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for mortals, their days are like grass;
they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.

19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
obedient to his spoken word.
21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers that do his will.
22 Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul.

This psalm is a thanksgiving for God’s goodness and I am indeed singing praises that my weight loss total is now 103!

Until next time, peace …

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Ninety-nine and Counting …

The title says it all. As of my official weigh-in on Friday, my new favorite number is 99. It’s a bit surreal, quite honestly. When I stepped onto the scale on Friday morning, I knew I would be close to the 100-pound mark, but I was actually somewhat relieved that it wasn’t 100. I wasn’t quite ready for that, emotionally anyway. I’m doing a lot of reflection and introspection this week to give my emotions some time to catch up with my body.

I continue to work at my water exercise regimen with both cardio and strength training most mornings. Last week I was in the pool six days! I love the water! I want to go every day and I am generally awake and ready before the alarm goes off. It seems so odd for me to say that. Until a few months ago, I was not a morning person; the snooze button and I were very good friends! But I am committed to health and wholeness and I am amazed at the transformation that is taking place. My medical team was quite pleased with my progress, too, when I went to my 3-month post-op appointment on May 8.

Each day I log my workouts on my fitbit app and at the end of the week I get a report. The report for last week said, “You worked out 7 hours, 37 minutes this week.” I held my phone in my hand, dumbfounded. Who IS this person?!?!

So I am preparing for the century mark. I haven’t quite decided how I will celebrate. I plan to create a mosaic piece of art to mark this milestone. I thought about making a list of 100 things for which I am grateful, but that seems tedious. And I will surely do another picture with 100 pounds of something; I’m just not sure yet what that will be. I am open to suggestions, dear blog readers. Leave a comment or e-mail me your thoughts.

Ninety-nine and counting … Until next time, peace …

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Three-month post-op

Today is the three-month anniversary of my surgery so I thought I would share a few pictures. The first two pictures are me with 91 pounds of dog food. This visual was really helpful for me to recognize just how far I have come. I continue to thank God each day for this tool and the opportunity to focus on wholeness – a healthy mind, body and spirit. And speaking of that … I am currently enjoying a few days away at Lakeside, a place that nourishes my spirit. I received the Lakeside Ohio Clergy Renewal Scholarship and I am grateful for the opportunity for some time away to reconnect with the One who has called me to my vocation. For any of my Ohio UM clergy friends who do not know about this, you can check it out here.

Until next time, peace …

91 pounds of dogfood91 pounds of dogfood 2

3 month post-op, 4-30-18

3 month post-op side, 4-30-18

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Goal-oriented or God-oriented?

So it’s been nearly three weeks since my last post … and on my previous weight loss journey, silence often meant struggle; that I had not lost any weight (or I had even gained) and I was trying to process it all before writing publicly again. That is not the case this time. I’ve just been busy. Busy working and busy taking care of myself. Since the beginning of March when I was released to go back to work after surgery, I have been exercising regularly. I go to the pool in the wee hours of the morning for at least an hour, four (or more!) days a week. I love the water!

One of my goals has been to shed 90 pounds by my 3-month post-op appointment on May 8. I am excited to say that as of my official Friday weigh-in yesterday, I have shed 91 pounds! (27 prior to surgery, 64 since).

While achieving one’s goals is important, I must admit that I have been a bit obsessed with the numbers. Though Fridays are my official weigh-in day – the day on which I record my weight in my tracker – I can’t help but weigh myself every day, sometimes several times a day. I’m a numbers gal. I like charts and graphs. I like to track data and look for trends. And while numbers are important, this journey is so much more than that. It’s about health. It’s about wellness. It’s about wholeness of mind, body and spirit. I don’t want to get caught in the trap again of measuring my success and my worth as a human being solely by the number on the scale. Our worth is so much greater than that. Our human value comes from our nature of being created in the image of God.

So while I will continue to be goal-oriented on this journey, I must keep praying and reminding myself that being God-oriented is the better priority.

Until next time, peace …

Scale - you are beautiful

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Wardrobes and Weight Loss

One of the challenges on this weight loss journey is having clothes that fit. I am down three sizes – a good problem to have!  But I don’t want to spend a lot of money on clothing I will wear for only a short time. The idea of weeding through the racks at Goodwill and other thrift stores is daunting. I’ve done it, but it takes time and energy that I would much rather expend in other ways. Besides, those searches are not always fruitful.

I feel very blessed to have a friend who has given me some lovely, good-quality clothing in varying sizes that I can both wear now and as I continue to shrink. I also have another friend who gifted me with a trial subscription to Gwynnie Bee. Gwynnie Bee is an online clothing subscription that allows women access to an unlimited wardrobe. There are over 150 brands of clothing and over 3,000 styles in sizes 0 – 32. I regularly add items to my virtual closet and can prioritize which I’d like in my next shipment. They send the items to me, I wear them, and I don’t have to launder them! A bonus! A subscriber can purchase the items at a discount from the retail cost or ship them back in a pre-paid bag. And then a few days later, the next shipment arrives. I’m enjoying the opportunity to try clothing I might not ordinarily choose and, as I shed more pounds, I can get clothing in smaller sizes. It’s a perfect solution to having clothes that fit. On Saturday evening I attended a fundraiser for Medina Creative Housing and I wore a Gwynnie Bee top I had selected especially the event. It’s great! Here’s a link if you’d like to give it a try. Gwynnie Bee.

And now to give you the latest numbers … last week I shed 3 pounds, so as of Friday’s weigh-in, I have shed a total of 79 pounds (52 since surgery).

Until next time, peace …

Robin - Gwynnie Bee

 

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Resurrection and Transformation

It’s Easter! A day we celebrate the joy of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because of the resurrection, I firmly believe in God’s power to redeem and transform the dark and difficult places in our lives – even death – and bring Light and new life, not in some far-off time and place, but abundant life in the here and now.

Today I am grateful for the life that has been given to me through Jesus Christ and for the opportunity for more abundant living since having my gastric bypass. Today is the two-month anniversary of my surgery. Today I get to expand my menu. For the last two months I have been primarily nourished by high protein, low-fat and low-carb foods and non-carbonated, decaffeinated, and no- or low-calorie beverages. I honestly have rarely felt hunger or cravings for other foods, but I am excited that today I get to add soft, cooked vegetables. It’s Easter and I can have green bean casserole! Talk about a celebration!

In the two months since my surgery, I have SHED 49 pounds, bringing the total to 76 pounds shed since enrolling in the Cleveland Clinic’s bariatric program. Below are some before and after pictures, as well as a fun picture from my church’s Easter Egg Hunt yesterday.

Easter blessings to all. May you experience the joy of the resurrection today!

2 mo post-op, 3-30-182 mo post-op side, 3-30-18

Robin and the Bunny 2018

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Choose Your Words Wisely

My mother always taught me to choose and use my words wisely. When talking with others, our words can encourage or discourage; they can either build up or tear down.  The same can be true for the ways we talk to ourselves. Our language toward ourselves and others shapes who we are. Sometimes this is intentional and sometimes it’s just embedded in our culture and, unless we stop to reflect on our words, we may not realize their impact.

While meeting with my spiritual director two weeks ago, I was sharing about my weight loss journey and she said something that gave me pause. When discussing weight loss, she said she prefers to use the word shed. I’ve spent some time pondering that distinction and it does indeed make a difference. When we hear that something is lost, we instinctively want it to be found. Consider the “Lost” parables in Luke 15, especially the parable of the lost coin. The woman in this story loses a coin and she searches diligently – sweeping the whole house, scouring every nook and cranny – until she finds it. When something is lost, we want to find it.

Except weight, that is. I really do not want to find those 69 pounds that I have lost!

Shedding, however, means to cast off or to release; to let go. This is a much better framework for considering one’s weight and journey toward health and wholeness. And so, as of last Friday, March 23, I have SHED 69 pounds (27 prior to surgery, 42 since surgery). I have happily released them and let them go!

Until next time, peace …

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The Easy Way Out? No Way!

Weight loss surgery is the easy way out.

I am very fortunate to have never had someone say this to me directly, but I have heard it said about weight loss surgery in general, and I have several friends who have sadly been on the receiving end of such a comment. Often people will tell an obese person, “You just need discipline. Exercise more and eat less.” Sure, some obese people have lost weight and maintained that weight loss for an extended period of time, but that is the exception, rather than the rule. Statistics indicate that 95% of people who lose weight without surgical intervention gain it back.

The truth is that obesity is a disease just like cancer, diabetes or heart disease. It just doesn’t go away with discipline or even diet. The medical community (for the most part) has recognized that it requires treatment. In 2013 the American Medical Association officially declared obesity a disease in an of itself.

As one who underwent weight loss surgery just five weeks ago, I agree emphatically that this surgery is NOT the easy way out. Allow me to share some of my experience with you.

  1. Weight loss surgery is surgery … and surgery is never easy. The procedure I had was the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. Though done laparoscopically with 7 small incisions, the work done internally was significant. The average person’s stomach is about the size of a football. The surgeon reduced my stomach to the size of a large egg and then re-routed my intestines. Healing and recovery from abdominal surgery takes time and it’s painful. When I saw my surgeon for my one-week post-op appointment, I asked about the pain I had around one of my incisions. He said, “Yes, you can expect pain there. That’s where we inserted the stapler.” Yes, weight loss surgery is major surgery!
  2. Weight loss surgery requires commitment – commitment before and after surgery. Prior to surgery, I went through several months of medical and psychological testing as well as nutrition classes. All of these determined my fitness for surgery and commitment to the program. In addition, two weeks before surgery I had to follow a strict 800-calorie per day liquid diet. This not only showed my willingness to adhere to the program, but even more importantly, it helped decrease the size of my liver for a safer surgery. (In these surgeries, the liver must be moved out of the way to access the stomach). In addition, for surgery to be successful, commitment to post-op nutrition is very important. This includes a liquid diet after surgery and then the gradual introduction of pureed and soft foods. Even now, I must cut up my food into very small pieces and chew each piece twenty or more times. At this time I can have only proteins and next month I can add vegetables. I know that for the rest of my life I need to avoid sugars and simple carbohydrates. A few months down the road, I may be able to have a small bite of these things, but anything beyond that could lead to weight gain … and would likely make me physically sick. Commitment to regular follow up care is also important.
  3. Weight loss surgery has financial implications. Most people know that medical care is not cheap. While I am blessed to have insurance and am very grateful for it, my medical appointments, tests, surgery, hospitalization and follow up care cost me several thousand dollars in deductibles and out of pocket expenses. This is not meant as a complaint, it’s just the reality of medical care in general. Weight loss surgery is expensive. In addition, its recovery requires time off from work. I consider myself very blessed in this area, but for many, it is not so easy.

These are just a few responses to the “easy way out” based on my own experience. Others who have had weight loss surgery surely have additional responses. It’s not easy, but I am grateful that surgery was a treatment option for me.

So, here at five weeks post-op, my new favorite number is 61 (27 pounds before surgery, 34 pounds since) and I’m feeling pretty good about that.

Until next time, peace …

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A Tool for the Task

Over five years ago I embarked on a weight loss journey that led to a loss of over 90 pounds. Part of what made it successful was that I was very public about it. As the pounds shed, I posted a new “favorite” number on Facebook each week and I blogged about the joys and challenges of changing one’s eating habits. I received a lot of encouragement from friends and family, and many tracked my progress by following my blog. I soon discovered, though, that my openness was a double-edged sword as the reality of maintaining my weight loss became an insurmountable task. Sadly, I stopped writing and I withdrew. Of course, to those I encountered on a regular basis, it was obvious that I had gained the weight back, but for me, it was just easier to not talk about it. I was ashamed, not only of the weight gain, but I also realized that I had hinged my worth as a person to my weight loss. When I lost weight, I was a success, but when I gained, I was a failure.

In January 2017 I had a health scare that caused me to take stock of my life and revisit my need to live into the health and wholeness that God desired for me, that others desired for me, and that deep down, I desired for myself. God has blessed me abundantly and given me gifts to be used in ministry, and I want to be able to use those gifts for God’s glory for as many years as possible. After some time of prayer and reflection, in June I attended a seminar at the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic and I officially entered the program. Their program is quite thorough; I went through several months of medical and psychological testing as well as nutrition classes.

One of the things I learned is that 95% of the people who lose weight through traditional, non-surgical methods gain the weight back. Yes, 95%! Though I knew that I was not alone in my struggle with my weight, this statistic helped me release the shame of my previous failed attempts. Another thing I learned is that weight loss surgery is a tool – it doesn’t do the work for you, but it aids you in accomplishing the task. I like to think of it this way: consider the task of getting a nail in a wall to hang a picture. You could use the heel of your shoe or you could use a hammer. With either tool you must exert energy, and both will eventually get the nail in the wall, but the hammer is certainly more efficient. For me, considering the amount of weight I need to lose, I determined that weight loss surgery was the best tool to help me accomplish this task.

On February 1, I had gastric bypass surgery. In the months leading up to surgery I lost 27 pounds and since surgery I have lost another 27 pounds, totaling 54. So 54 is my new “favorite” number. Now I recognize that I am once again being public with this information, but I have a different mindset than I did five years ago. My worth as a person is not determined by my weight, but by the very fact that I am created in the image of God, and this same God loves me, claims me and calls me by name. I also share this information openly as a way to invite others to journey with me.

I am very excited and hopeful about this new tool I have been given. I certainly have to do the work and remain committed to following the program if I want to be successful, but I am grateful to God and my medical team for this new lease on life and to my family, friends, and community of faith for their love, prayers and support on this journey.

 

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