Archive for the ‘self esteem’ Category

One of my main goals for my Hawaiian vacation was to fill my time alone with as many fitness adventures as I could.  Since Oahu offers so many different options,  decided to do a bit of research and discovered that a 30-minute drive would bring me to the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail.

There’s something very intriguing to me about lighthouses.  They’re literally guides for sailors at night, and maybe because of all the novels I’ve studied, there’s something so romantic to me about them.  I never realized how drawn to lighthouses I am until this trip, but I am going to make it a point to go to the local lighthouses we have in the San Francisco area when I get back home.

When I looked up info about the trail itself on my Trail Advisor app, it said that it was a paved trail that offered a steady incline to the top, easy to navigate for people of all fitness levels.  I knew I could make the trek, and the promise of the views along the way were all I needed to decide that this was my Tuesday morning outing.

Getting to the trail by car was an easy, beautiful drive, and because I got there early, around 8:30am, parking was a breeze.  (I’ve been on California time throughout my trip, meaning I’m waking up at 3am local time).

10006917_10151952043440426_6763370043924131053_n The hills surrounding the trail were lush and green, and the path itself was very easy to navigate.  I put on some music, and started my assent.  I was a steady incline, enough to keep my heart rate going the entire way.

1534472_10151952042795426_132579950536500944_n Before too long, I saw the ocean peeking out among the brush, and if these were the views at the start of my journey, I was anxious to see what awaited me at the top. Between my music and these views, I think I was smiling from ear to ear the whole way up.

1601506_10151952043315426_8525203781774062793_n10259743_10151952043615426_6302813055275166739_n11893_10151952043700426_7882390771869107988_n10258807_10151952043655426_5132203295441575976_n1794676_10151952044000426_1692567953378443486_n It was right around this point when the breezy morning turned super windy, and the hat I’d been wearing to protect my face from the sun flew off my head!  Luckily, I was able to snatch it from the ground before it flew away.


I walked for a while holding the hat with one hand and my iPhone in the other. Every time I stopped to take a photo, the hat flew off – about 4 times total. Until I remembered that I could tighten it in the back.

The water below me was so blue, the sky so clear – as I walked the trail I couldn’t stop thinking about how lucky I was to be living this life.  I’d decided that this vacation was my reward for all my hard work over the past year in accomplishing so many of my weight loss goals.  This hike wouldn’t have been half as enjoyable 132 pounds ago.  I would’ve been severely out of breath, concerned about whether or not I would make it all the way to the top, and not living in the moment and enjoying all of this natural beauty all around me.  Instead, I soaked it all in and truly felt blessed to be at this point in my life.



Before too much longer, I was at the top of the trail, looking down at these stunning views of the surrounding area.




10150652_10151952045015426_6540676470749329357_n It was so windy at the top that I nearly lost my iPhone capturing this shot, but it was worth it, even if it is a bit blurry, I think it helps capture the wind whipping all around.

And finally, the view I’d been waiting for all day – the lighthouse!


It was smaller than I thought, but a true jewel on that hilltop.  I love this picture so much that I’ve made it my wallpaper on the phone.

1466037_10151952045100426_452066782254352158_n I hiked to the top of this hill, which is amazing to me!


To offer some perspective, the parking lot is in the middle of the photo. I took this about halfway back down the trail.

There’s really no other word for this hike than glorious.  It offered everything I love – views of the ocean, a great workout, and the chance to remind myself how far I’ve come and how lucky I am.

After the hike, I noticed a spot around the corner from the parking lot that was a bit of a hidden beach, filled with black volcanic rocks where I could perch and watch the white-tipped waves crashing. It reminded me a of a place near Half Moon Bay that’s really special to me. Somehow being here all alone with no other souls in sight made it all the more special, like it was a secret spot just for me.


I shot this quick video soon after I’d sat down on the rocks. I don’t know what I was doing with the camera angles, but I’m glad I got a bit of  video:

 I don’t know for sure that these rocks are the remnants of a volcano, but given that I’m in Hawaii, that’s the story I’m going with. I sat on the rocks for about 30 minutes, just taking in the majesty and power of the ocean. I’ve always been drawn to the ocean, there’s something very spiritual about it for me.



If you look carefully about halfway up the hill in the distance, you can spy the little lighthouse.

If you look carefully about halfway up the hill in the distance, you can spy the little lighthouse.

1546144_10151952046655426_3891003743253631992_nEven though the lighting is bad and you can hardly see my face, I wanted to make sure that I captured the fact that I was there on what was a magical morning.



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bilbl_scale.jpgI usually weigh myself every single morning.  I get up, use the restroom, take off my pjs, and jump on the scale.  I use it as a check-in for how I did the day before and what I may need to do that day.  I don’t let the number define my day either way, although when I see a drop I do get a smile on my face.  I only record my weight once a week, on Sundays, because I know how much the scale can fluctuate.

This daily weighing may seem obsessive to some.  And for some people, it can be unhealthy.  But for me, I have used daily weigh-ins as a tool throughout my weight loss journey.  Longtime readers will recall that I used to avoid the scale (and recording the numbers on this blog) at all costs.  I’d go weeks without weighing in, mostly because I wanted to live in denial.  I knew how badly I’d been eating, or how much I’d overindulged, or that I’d stopped at the drive-thru one too many times, and I didn’t want to face those effects in the digital number that would show up on the scale.  At one point I moved to monthly weigh-ins, but that didn’t help my progress at all, in fact, it had the opposite effect.  When I moved to daily weigh-ins, I started to notice the trends in my body and the weight loss.  That I always gain weight right before my period, and then drop a ton the day I get it.  That eating sweets doesn’t affect my body as much as eating salty foods does; too bad I crave salty a lot more than sweet. That getting in a good workout helps me shed pounds, but overdoing it can actually make me “gain” water weight.  All of this info has helped me understand my body and the way things affect it.  Daily weigh-ins have been priceless for me.

The scale offers me motivation on the days when the numbers move slightly up and inspiration on the days when I see the numbers drop down into new weight loss territory.  The digital display offers me an accountability partner like no other. The numbers, whether positive or negative, offer me a bit of daily encouragement.

So you can imagine how out of sorts I’m feeling after being on vacation for 3 days and not weighing myself.  It’s part of my morning ritual like taking a shower or having a cup of coffee.  Without it I can survive, but things just aren’t as in sync.  I missed my usual Sunday weigh-in because I was here.  Which is totally fine. I know I’ve been eating well, have been getting in exercise, and have been staying on track.  I can feel that my clothes are fitting fine, and in some cases, a few garments feel a bit looser.  So there’s no reason to worry, and even if I come back from Hawaii up a couple of pounds, I know I  can get those off quickly.

But this morning I awoke and just had to get on the scale in the second bathroom here at the house I’m staying on vacation.  I’d just gotten my period and I knew I would see a loss.  But how accurate was this non-digital scale?  Scales can vary wildly, and who knew how this one was calibrated.  Still, it lured me.

So I got on and saw a 3-lb loss!  I did a little Hawaiian happy dance right there in the bathroom, and I’m sure Harvey the cat thought I’d lost my mind.  I didn’t record the weightloss on MFP because as I said, I have no idea how accurate this scale is, but it did give me a little pick me up and a sense of normalcy. I’m such a creature of habit, and I really like my routines. While I’m having an amazing time here in Hawaii, one thing I’m really looking forward to about going home is resuming my daily weigh-ins.

What’s the lesson here?  The scale is still a really important tool for me since I’m still in weight loss mode.  More than anything, I like the reassurance I get from it.  It’s like a trusted friend that I like checking in with everyday.

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After more than two months of planning, anticipating, and preparing, yesterday was finally the day I left for Hawaii.  All week I had the same feeling I had when I was 6 years old and my family was about to go to Disneyland for the first time. I had a lot of last minute errands, meeting, and grading to do to keep me occupied, but if I’m honest, my mind was really concentrating on the beaches of Oahu, and rightly so, I haven’t been on a true vacation since 2008, and I haven’t been anywhere tropical since my trip to Jamaica in 2001.

Back to Saturday morning. My flight was leaving at 8:55am, so my dad was set to pick me up at 7am to get there with time to spare. I woke up around 5am to make sure I had everything ready and I’m glad that it gave me time for a snuggle session with Sofi. Leaving her behind is the only downside to this trip. But she’s going to have a ton of fun with my sister, my nieces, and their dog, Minnie.


Getting through the airport security was a breeze, even though that imaging machine is so strange. I even met a guy who was flirting relentlessly with me. Granted, he was 7 years old, but still. Lol. He was the cutest thing ever! He noticed that I had on an SF Giants tee and asked me to high five because he had on a 49ers sweatshirt. He said, “I’m going to Hawaii, where are you going?” And when I told him I was going there too, his face lit up. He asked me my name, and said, “bye, Bella” as I headed to get my Starbucks fix. We were seated a row apart on the plane, and every now and then he’s smile and wave. When the flight landed, he was right next to me at baggage claim, asking which bag was mine and then whether or not I was married. The scamp! His parents just smiled at me when I looked over at them. Finally, while I was waiting to be picked up outside the airport, he and his family passed me, and he said, “bye, Bella!!! I hope we see you in Hawaii!” Too cute! Now if only he was about 30 years older.

I had a major NSV as I took my window seat on the plane. Not only was I not spilling over into my neighbor’s seat, but I had lots of room with the seatbelt! On my last flight in 2008, when I was nowhere near my heaviest weight (in fact I’d just lost about 50 pounds because of that medically supervised fasting diet), I needed an extender. And when I went to put the tray table down, I was so scrunched that it wouldn’t sit flat. Not this time!!! This time, I had tons of room, and was like any other normal person. I could even move up & down the aisle of the plane, passing other people, with ease. Only someone who has been obese can understand the silent triumph I felt as each of these realizations hit me.


The flight itself was amazing! I’d never flown Alaskan Airlines before, but definitely will again. The staff was friendly, the service was quick, and we we’re ahead of schedule the entire time. Not to mention the complimentary Mai Tai! I was seated next to a really friendly woman who was just chatty enough, but also respected my desire to read. At baggage claim my bag was among the first ten off the conveyer. And from there, I walked outside and within 15 minutes, my friend was picking me up to take me back to the house.

The house itself is awesome! It’s a little, hidden bungalow with this amazing view backyard view. First, let’s take a look at the inside: the living room, the kitchen, and the wall of windows…

10154982_10151946585990426_397420148_n 1977270_10151946586100426_880847677_n 1011581_10151946585880426_1358662287_n 10003478_10151946585930426_546819239_n

As nice and comfortable as the house is, the backyard and dock is by far the best feature of this place. Every time I see that dock, I’m reminded of the dock that Gatsby looks at in the distance, towards the green light at Daisy’s house.


988433_10151946585720426_1013651610_n 1975252_10151946585340426_1671210398_n


The view of the house from the private dock

The view of the house from the private dock

It rained a bit in the afternoon, but even that was so refreshing.  Hawaii is so humid, and the rain brings relief from that.  Plus, I love hearing the way it sounds against the dock.  I sat on the back porch and read as it rained, and it was so soothing, especially after a long flight.

One other “feature” of this place is ALL the stairs that lead to the street level.  There are three full sets of stairs that are fairly steep.  Yesterday I used them to get a workout in. No matter how much I may indulge on this vacation, I think I’m going to leave with my booty in better shape than it was when I got here.




I went to Safeway to get some food for the week, and I can definitely see what they mean about how expensive things are.  I bought yogurt, salads, Flat Out wraps, salami, deli turkey, Laughing Cow cheese wedges, cottage cheese, strawberries, granola, coffee creamer, and some Boom Chicka Pop popcorn and the bill totaled $101! Needless to say, I’m going to eat as many meals at home/pack my lunch as often as I can.  I do plan to go out for sushi and maybe one other meal.

Once I got back from grocery shopping, I spent the afternoon lazing around – napping, reading, and feeling amazingly lucky that I’m able to spend this week here in what is truly paradise.  I stayed home last night, took a shower that let me wash off the day and made me feel like a new person, and just enjoyed a quiet night.

10154938_10151946586235426_644419868_n If yesterday is any indication, this is going to be an amazing vacation!

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Spring has (almost) sprung! Which means that the weather is turning warmer, the days are getting longer, and fitting in outdoor activities is a whole lot easier. Spring is a time of renewal, and in the spring of 2014  I’m living my life in full bloom! Now that I’m in the home stretch of my weight loss journey, all the pounds I lose this spring are just like extra petals on a flower, making my life just a bit more beautiful. I want to enjoy each day of this season, soaking in the sunshine, blue skies, and happiness. Sunday weigh-ins will keep me accountable through the weekend, and will give me a positive goal to begin each new week. My Sunday progress updates will be called Super Spring Weigh-Ins.

Week 44 started off great because I spent hours on Sunday going through both closets in my house and going through every single item of clothing, deciding whether to donate or keep it.  My wardrobe is is organized and streamlined, which makes me feel so much better.  At work, I was able to complete all the grading that had piled up, which feels like a huge relief.  I ate well and logged everything. The one area that slipped a bit was in my workouts: I got some in, but didn’t do the Tone It Up strength sessions as often as I would’ve liked.  Now that everything is in order in the various areas of my life, the main thing I want to do is maintain it all.  Which means grading a bit at a time, keeping up with the housework/laundry, and setting aside the 1-1.5 hours a day to get my workouts in.  I know I can do it, I just need to set my mind to it.

bilbl_scale.jpg So, what did the scale show?!

When I weighed in this morning, I was 183.0, which is a loss of 1.6 pounds this week,and a loss of 94 lbs since surgery! I’ve lost a total of 132 pounds from my highest weight!! I have 33 pounds to go to my ultimate goal weight of 150 pounds. I’m really happy with this week’s loss, especially because of the fact that I completed fewer workouts than I would’ve liked.  It really does go to show that weight loss is 70-80% food.  One thing that went really well for me this week was my water intake – I’ve found that making sure I have a water bottle or tumbler with me at all times makes all the difference.

One week from today I’ll have been in Hawaii for a day already!  I’m so excited about this trip, and I’m really looking at it as a reward for my hard work and determination.  It’s been over six years since I went on any sort of vacation.  Six years since I’ve been on a plane.  The last time I had to use a seatbelt extender, and that was when I was nowhere near my heaviest weight, in fact, I’d lost 50 pounds on that medically supervised fasting diet.  If I’m honest, I avoided any sort of vacation where I might need to fly because I didn’t want to have to deal with that scrunched-in feeling of spilling over into my neighbor’s seat. No to mention the look of dread on the seatmates’ faces when they saw me coming down the aisle.  I can’t wait to see how different it all is this time.

This week it’s all about making sure I have everything ready for Hawaii.  Yesterday I had a major shopping trip at Target, picking up travel sizes and a few more swim essentials.  Remember those Victoria Secrets bikini tops I’d bought?  They fit, and looked pretty good, but they were cut fairly small and showed more cleavage than I was comfortable with.  Especially for water sports like snorkeling or taking surf lessons.  I didn’t want to accidentally “pop out.”

2014-03-30 09.55.37See what I mean? I’ll definitely still wear it at the beach or walking around, but not when I’m doing something more physical.

So yesterday while I was at Target, I saw that they had swimwear on sale, and I found two other swim tops:

2014-03-30 10.31.512014-03-30 10.32.53

This black bikini top has a lot more coverage, even though you may not be able to tell it in the photo, and that makes me feel more comfortable.  The tankini also offers good coverage, although I’m not sure whether or not I’m going to tuck it in.  What do you guys think?

The plan for this week is to make sure I fit in 5 Tone It Up workouts, along with cardio:
Sunday: Arc Trainer + run/walk intervals
Monday: run/walk intervals
Tuesday: hybrid elliptical
Wednesday: Arc Trainer
Thursday: hybrid recumbent bike
Friday: run/walk intervals

{I’ll update the toning routines as soon as the new weekly workout is posted on Toneitup.com}

As I mentioned, next week I’ll be in Hawaii, so I won’t be posting a weigh-in update.  It’s going to be really weird not having a scale there and not weighing myself everyday.  But I know I’m going to make great choices (more on that in another post), and get in plenty of activity, so I’m not worried about my weight.  Plus, taking a break from the scale while I’m on vacay seems right.  I will write a Sunday Smiles post, though, because I’m sure I’ll already have lots to share.

2014-03-30 11.07.19

Until next Sunday, my friends. I hope the scale treats you well, and that you have a wonderful week!

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Spring has (almost) sprung! Which means that the weather is turning warmer, the days are getting longer, and fitting in outdoor activities is a whole lot easier. Spring is a time of renewal, and in the spring of 2014  I’m living my life in full bloom! Now that I’m in the home stretch of my weight loss journey, all the pounds I lose this spring are just like extra petals on a flower, making my life just a bit more beautiful. I want to enjoy each day of this season, soaking in the sunshine, blue skies, and happiness. Sunday weigh-ins will keep me accountable through the weekend, and will give me a positive goal to begin each new week. My Sunday progress updates will be called Super Spring Weigh-Ins.

Week 43 was a bit overwhelming, if I’m honest.  Things are really busy at work, and I felt like there weren’t enough hours in the day.  I still managed to eat well and to get my cardio workouts in, but I did let a few toning workouts slip by.  This next week is going to be just as busy, so I’m going to do my best to set things up today so that I don’t feel like I have no time for everything I have to do. Feeling organized is huge for me – it make all the difference in the world.

bilbl_scale.jpg So, what did the scale show?!

When I weighed in this morning, I was 184.6, which is a loss of 1.4 pounds this week, and a loss of 92.4 lbs since surgery! I’ve lost a total of 130.4 pounds from my highest weight!! I have 34.6 pounds to go to my ultimate goal weight of 150 pounds. I’m pleased with this week’s loss, especially considering I didn’t do many of the toning exercises that I’ve been doing 5 times a week for the past couple of months.  My eating has been great, though, and I did pretty well with my water intake, too.

More of the clothes I ordered for my Hawaiian vacation came in this week, and every single item looks as good or better than I’d hoped.  I don’t mean to sound conceited when I write that, but this is a whole new thing for me.  In the past when I ordered clothes online, it was always hit and miss as far as how the clothes would look.  Now it’s a whole different story because I have a whole different body.  It really is an amazing feeling.

Yesterday the high school I attended had an Alumnae Day of Service at a local charity, which fit in well with my volunteering for Lent.  One of my good friends attended, and I had a blast meeting a bunch of new friends.  There’s something about being an alumna from my school – we have an instant bond because of the shared experience of going to an all-girls Catholic school.  And not just because of wearing that plaid skirt; because of the values we were taught, the education we received, and the spirit of friendship that we formed.  It truly was an amazing experience, and I’m so grateful to my parents for sacrificing so much so that my sister and I could attend the school.


A shot of a new friend and me sorting apples.

A great group shot of all of the alums who volunteered.

A great group shot of all of the alums who volunteered. The lady in the sun hat is in charge of food sorting at the center, and was our supervisor for the day.

This week the enormous changes I’ve undergone have become more evident to me.  In looking at photos I’ve been in with groups of friends lately (last weekend, this Friday night, and again yesterday) I can see that I’m a completely different person.  I’m not worried about how my body is going to look in pictures, because I know how hard I’ve worked.  It’s so freeing to just smile and capture the moment, rather than worry so much about what angle the camera is being held at. I see myself and I am proud of the lady being reflected back at me. A new confidence is emerging, and I am loving it!


Until next Sunday, my friends. I hope the scale treats you well, and that you have a wonderful week!

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Today marks ten months since my VSG surgery, and it’s also the first day of spring.  It’s been sunshine and smiles all day today, especially when a colleague of mine, whom I don’t see too often on campus, stopped me in the teachers’ lounge and said, “you’re almost unrecognizable! You’re looking fantastic!”  He’s the track coach, and he knows I’ve been working on my run/walks and doing 5Ks, and I thought it was so nice of him to tell me that he’s noticing the changes. I’ve had several other people tell me how “skinny” I’m looking lately, and it never gets old.  I think part of it is that I was more bundled up in the winter, wearing heavier sweaters and jeans.  Now I’ve been wearing thinner tops and skirts, which show my shape more.  But I’m also proud to say that I’ve been really putting in the work to make these changes evident – eating great and getting in my workouts 5 or 6 days a week.












-1 inch








-0.5 inch




-1 inch




-4.5 inches




-2.25 inches




-0.25 inch




+0.25 inch

I’m floored that I lost 4 1/2 inches in my hips and 2 1/4 inches from my thighs in one month!  I triple checked the measurements, and sure enough, I’ve made big strides.  Just this morning as I was getting out of the shower, I did notice that my thighs are looking much smaller lately, which is so encouraging.  I think it’s funny that I gained 1/4 inch in my ankles; I wonder if I’m retaining water?  Either way, I’m really pleased with this progress.  I’ve been working hard at toning up, and it’s paying off.


I’ve lost 6 pounds in the month between these photos. I’ve also been working on my base tan for Hawaii, as you’ll see from the difference in my skin tone.  In the photos on the right (taken today) I’m wearing different pants that are slightly looser than the running pants I wore last month.

Left: 2/16/14  Right 3/20/14

Left: 2/16/14; Right 3/20/14

I notice a few things between these two photos – I can see more definition in my stomach, my waist looks more “whittled,” and the skin on my stomach is getting looser.

Left: 2/16/14; Right: 3/20/14

Left: 2/16/14; Right: 3/20/14

Left: 2/16/14; Right: 3/20/14

Left: 2/16/14; Right: 3/20/14


  • Tops = size M or L, depending on the manufacturer
  • Jeans = size 14, and they’re getting a bit loose
  • Workout capris (worn in these photos) = size L
  • Boy short bikini bottoms from Victoria’s Secret = size L
  • Bras = 34D (on the tightest setting)
  • Workout Bras = 32/34 D/DD (on the middle setting) The workout bras I bought have a range, which I love because they fit well and have lasted a long time.


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Spring has (almost) sprung! Which means that the weather is turning warmer, the days are getting longer, and fitting in outdoor activities is a whole lot easier. Spring is a time of renewal, and in the spring of 2014  I’m living my life in full bloom! Now that I’m in the home stretch of my weight loss journey, all the pounds I lose this spring are just like extra petals on a flower, making my life just a bit more beautiful. I want to enjoy each day of this season, soaking in the sunshine, blue skies, and happiness. Sunday weigh-ins will keep me accountable through the weekend, and will give me a positive goal to begin each new week. My Sunday progress updates will be called Super Spring Weigh-Ins.

Week 42 started with a 5K and ended with a Bay Area WLS meetup, with lost of busy days in between.  Even though so many of the workdays were long ones, I didn’t miss any of my workouts.  That fact alone is something I’m so proud of, and speaks to how much I’ve transformed my life.  In the past, long work days would have offered an easy excuse to skip workouts, but now they just give me a way to shake off a stressful day.  Just like that photo above, I really love working out and miss it when I have to take a rest day.

bilbl_scale.jpg So, what did the scale show?!

When I weighed in this morning, I was 186.0, which is a loss of 2.6 pounds this week, and a loss of 91 lbs since surgery! I’ve lost a total of 129 pounds from my highest weight!! I have 36 pounds to go to my ultimate goal weight of 150 pounds. I’m really happy with this week’s loss.  The first pound came off right away when I did my daily weigh-in on Monday; the other 1.6 came off a little at a time as the week continued.  I’ve been feeling really strong all week – not just in my weight loss, but in my whole attitude and demeanor – I’m loving life!

One fun thing that also served as an NSV this week was shopping for Hawaii.  I’ve picked up just about all the clothes I think I’ll need: bikini tops, board shorts, sundresses, capri pants, and late yesterday afternoon – tanks.  Shopping these days is obviously so much more fun than shopping in the past, and I can’t wait to see how little room all of my clothes take up in the suitcase!  In the past when I’d go on trips, my clothes would take up so much room because there was so much material.  I’m super excited that this time around I’ll be able to fit everything into one suitcase, with room.  Although, don’t get me wrong, I’m an over-packer, so I’ll still be filling that suitcase, but this time it will be because of all the outfits, not because of how big the clothes are.

Today my friend Di and I are heading to a local lake county park to volunteer at a cleanup.  This is part of my Lenten Sacrifice, and I’m looking forward to it.  The weather has been absolutely gorgeous here – 80 degrees and sunny – and today will be no exception.  Plus, it will be a great way to burn some calories as I’m giving back.

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Until next Sunday, my friends. I hope the scale treats you well, and that you have a wonderful week!

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Let’s start with my post on Facebook last night when I got home:

Tonight I went to SF to meet a fabulous NOLA girl turned YouTubelebrity (VsgTanya) whose journey I’ve followed for about 2 years now. Although I’d only known her from videos on YouTube and posts on FB, I just knew we’d hit it off, and we did. As a wonderful bonus, I met a bunch of other fabulous ladies who all live within an hour of me. Thank you, Tanya for coming to San Fran and bringing all the Bay Area peeps together. So fun!!”

Before I ever had the VSG surgery, I looked up other people’s WLS journeys on YouTube so that I could be really prepared for what I was about to experience.  VSGTanya was one of the first channels that popped up, and I felt an immediate kinship with this beautiful girl from New Orleans.  Maybe it was the eyebrows!  LOL.  She has this positive attitude and open demeanor that really helped me get ready for my own surgery. And in the time since, I’ve turned to her videos again and again for tips, advice, and information.  Tanya shares so much of herself in her videos that I felt like I knew her.  I told myself that when I make it to New Orleans, one of my bucket list destinations, I’ll definitely let Tanya know so we can meet up.

And then about a month ago, she posted that she was coming to San Fran for a work conference, and the next thing I know, there was a Bay Area WLS Peeps Meet Up set up and I was invited!  The cool thing was, not only would I get the chance to meet Tanya, but I’d also get a chance to meet several WLS people I’m FB friends with, but whom I’d never met, even though we live so close to each other.

I was looking forward to today all week, and I was absolutely thrilled to see what a gorgeous day it was.  As I made my way into SF, I was even happier that the weather held up!  Usually at this time of year, San Francisco is chilly and foggy, even when the weather in the south bay is warm and sunny.  But not today, today it was 79 degrees and sunny in SF!  The weather really couldn’t have been better for Tanya’s visit.

Since it was so nice, I thought I’d wear one of the sundresses I’d recently purchased:

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A few things to note about this outfit: The dress is from Target, and I love the way it fits! Since it was a nice day, I wanted to wear flip flops, but because the dress is a bit short, hitting me just above the knee, I wanted to wear tights.  Not having any footless tights, and having even less time to go buy some, I cut up a pair of regular tights, and as long as no one looked too closely, I think it worked great.  That purse that I’m wearing is a huge NSV for me.  It’s an Issac Mizrahi purse that I’d bought a couple of years ago from QVC.  It came as a 3-piece set: a wristlet, this crossbody, and a huge shopper.  Whenever I’d worn the crossbody in the past, it hit me right under my chest, and looked miniscule compared to my girth, so I put it on the shelf until today.  I’m so proud of how it looks now, and plan to make it a staple in my spring and summer wardrobe.  Oh, and how can we forget Miss Sofi there?  She’s freshly groomed and looking beautiful, sporting her strawberry dog collar.

We were meeting up near Tanya’s hotel in Union Square, which is the shopping district of SF.  I was waiting to cross the street as I saw Tanya, and the whole thing felt really surreal – I was about to meet this person that I’d looked up to for so long on YouTube!  We immediately hugged, and things were as easy between us as I’d hoped they would be.  I confessed right away that I felt like I was meeting a celebrity, and she laughed, but it’s true.  Tanya’s helped so many WLS people, and put herself out there to help others, and I was so glad to get the chance to meet her. Plus, she’s just a cool girl who like to have a good time.

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The girls had spent the day playing tourists around SF, and this was their time before dinner to fit in some shopping.  I told Tanya that I was glad she’d seen some of the prettier areas of the city, since Union Square is not very picturesque.  But it does have good shopping! While a few of the ladies were getting their makeup done at MAC, some of us hit Macy’s up to find some shoes.  For those who haven’t been, the Macy’s in Union Square is a thing to behold – the women’s store is 7 floors, and the shoe department is HUGE! (The men’s store is 5 floors, for those who are interested). We had a great time finding some shoes for Tanya.

On a quick side note, I have to tell about another NSV.  Walking in SF was always a challenge for me, even when I lived there for two years.  It’s a hilly city where you have to walk everywhere, which left my feet hurting and feeling breathless whenever I was out with friends walking around.  Not things time!  I was walking all around with no problem, and didn’t get breathless once.  In fact, most of the time I was leading the pack, walking quickly.  What a change from the past!

After shopping, we made our way to First Crush for some wine and dinner.  I’d never been before, but I would definitely go again.  San Francisco is an amazing food city, filled with terrific restaurants.  So many that you could go out to eat every night for a year and not have to repeat places.  We had the best time trading stories and getting to know each other.  Jodi organized the entire meetup, and her husband Chuck, was a great ego booster as he told everyone within earshot what a lucky guy he was to be with all these gorgeous ladies. Without seeming immodest, I have to agree:

Chuck told us to give him our best Charlie's Angels

Chuck told us to give him our best Charlie’s Angels

At the table before dinner

At the table before dinner

This is one fun group of women!  The conversation went from WLS to shopping to working out to relationships to sex to everything in between.  There’s just an unspoken bond among people who have had weight loss surgery, we “get” each other, because even though we may be from different backgrounds, we’ve shared an experience that you can’t understand unless you’ve lived it.  And not just the surgery and the weight loss, but also living as an obese person for so many years and then having this amazing transformation.

Another side note NSV: in the past whenever friends and I took group photos, I would always worry about the angle and how heavy I would end up looking in the photos.  Tonight I didn’t give it one thought.  I had the confidence in knowing that I am a whole different person now, and that the photos would reflect that change.

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This group just looks like fun, right?  Or as one of the ladies posted on FB – trouble! This was our last photo as a whole group before Chandra (in that great maxi dress next to me in the photo) and I left.  The rest of the girls were off to paint the town red, and judging from their posts on FB throughout the night, they did!

I feel so lucky to have met all these ladies, especially Tanya, and I am confident that we’ll all get together again very soon.

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bilbl_shoppingFriday Five

1.  I took today off to get myself organized around the house.  I’ve had busy weekends for the past month, and I feel like my house is in need of a deep cleaning.  For example, the other day I had to use a beach towel because I was in desperate need of doing laundry. Plus, as part of my Lenten Sacrifice, I need to spend some more time going through my closet and compiling clothes to donate.

2.  Speaking of clothes, I’ve been having a great time buying some clothes for Hawaii.  I wanted to buy a few sundresses, and found some great ones:

caprihalter hilowdress roseleopard They’re all really light and will be perfect for Hawaii’s temps.  The maxi dress will definitely be too long for me, but I found a great tailor who hems dresses for really cheap, and since the dress itself was on clearance at $17, paying for the tailoring is worth it.  I’m a bit worried that the hi-low dress might be a bit too short in front, but hopefully it will hit me lower because I’m short.

Remember those bikini tops I bought from VS?  Well they arrived the other day, and they were a bit too small. (I am very happy to say that the bottoms I bought fit well). They fit, but they were cut really sexily, and I just didn’t think I’d feel very comfortable wearing them, and would be worried that I’d “pop out.” So I returned those and got these “perfect coverage” tops instead:

black polkadots stripes&aqua I think I’ll feel a lot more secure in these.  That third one was on sale at Kohl’s and I like that it has a tiny bit of aqua detail.  Plenty of tops for the beach for a week. I also finally bought the board shorts that I’d planned on:

boardshorts  I haven’t received these yet,but I’m really hopeful that they’ll be long enough and fit well. A few comments on the site that I bought them from said that they wore them out and about on vacation, as well as on the beach, which I think is a great idea.  I don’t have any pants suitable for Hawaii (I think jeans will be too heavy), so I also bought a few pairs of capris:

vsfleececrop tekgearcapris skimmerpants The first ones are fleece crops from Victoria’s Secret, and because I really liked the fit of the boyfriend pants I bought from VS before, I thought I’d  give these a try.  The second are from Kohl’s and were only $15; they seem like good lounge pants.  And the last ones are also from Kohl’s – I really hope they fit well because I think they’re really cute.  The only things left to buy for the trip (and for my spring/summer wardrobe) are some tanks and a few tops.

3. I started this morning off with a great spin class!  I’d bought some new padded bicycle capri pants that worked really well; I didn’t feel any of that pelvic bone pain that I’d had the first time.  I definitely need to fit more spin classes into my normal routine, because I love how powerful I feel when I’m in the class, and I really like the huge calorie burn that comes with the 60 minute session.

4. 20140314-145221.jpg I thought I’d share a lunch that I’ve been loving.  I first saw it on Pinterest, and I’ve seen it a lot on Instagram, too.  It’s a twist on egg salad – instead of using mayonnaise I substitute guacamole.  It might look a little strange and green, but it’s really delicious and adds a nice kick. Today because I’d burned so many calories with spin class, my TIU workouts, and taking Sofi for a walk in the neighborhood, I put the egg salad on two slices of Dave’s Good Seed Thin-Sliced Bread.  But this egg salad is also great on spinach to keep it more low carb.  I know it seems odd, but just give it a try.

5. This weekend I have some fun plans! Tomorrow afternoon I’m heading to SF to meet up with VSGTanya, whose videos on YouTube and posts on FB have really helped me learn so much about this journey.  Plus, she’s just a cool lady! She lives near New Orleans, but will be here in my area for work, so I couldn’t pass up the chance to meet her while she’s here. I can’t wait to meet her after following her story on YT and FB for over a year and a half.  There will be quite a few other WLS -ers there, so it will be fun to meet new people.  Then on Sunday my friend Di and I are volunteering for 3 hours doing a cleanup day at a local lake county park.

2013-09-27 12.14.29Happy Friday! I hope you have a wonderful weekend, full of fun and exciting adventures.

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Newjojie, Bella, & Tinkerbell

Newjojie, Bella, & Tinkerbell – A smiley selfie before the race!

This morning, despite losing an hour of sleep to Daylight Savings Time, Tinkerbell, NewJojie, and I all met at 7:30am to head to the Mardi Gras Madness 5K, which benefited the Leukemia & Lymphoma society.  NewJojie is a wonderful lady I met on MyFitnessPal who has been supporting me (and Tinkerbell) for over a year.  After Tink and I did the Jenny’s Light 5K, NewJojie emailed me and said to let her know when our next 5K was, because she’d drive the two hours from her house to meet us and join in on the fun.  Can you believe that she was willing to drive 4 hours total (2 hours here, 2 hours back) just to meet us and do a 5K?!  How special!

It doesn’t take much for Tink and I to plan a cute race outfit, but knowing that NewJojie was putting in that much effort, we had to make these extra special.  Tink found these awesome, purple, sparkly running skirts from Rock City Skirts, as well as a cool iron-on Fleur-de-lis that said “Laissez les bons temps rouler!” (Let the good times roll!) on it, and because Mardi Gras colors are purple and green, she found cool green Calvin Klein Jeans tanks at Marshall’s (mine’s a L!!). We were all set to turn heads for this race!

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You can’t tell from this pic, but the skirt is sparkly, adding just the right amount of Mardi Gras bling to the morning.

Everyone who saw us told us how much they loved our skirts, our matching outfits, our entire look. It was fun to hear before the race, and even better as we were running the 5K.

But enough about fashion, let’s get to the details of the race…

I woke up way before my alarm, probably because I was so worried that I’d have a hard time getting up and losing the hour.  So I had a leisurely morning starting at 4:30am – time to shower, get dressed, begin writing my weigh-in blog post, and have half a cup of coffee before I left.

2014-03-09 07.25.09 It wouldn’t be a race day if I didn’t take my ritual bathroom selfie before leaving the house for the race.

Since they were handing out bibs and shirts on race day, we wanted to make sure to get down to the race with plenty of time to spare.  What would we do with the extra time? Take pre-finish photos, of course!  Our thinking was that we wanted make sure we got a good shot with the Finish line in the background.

I love the cool angle Newjojie used for this pic!

I love the cool angle Newjojie used for this pic!

We also took some photos with the masks that they had surrounding the finish line:

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Notice that I had to stand on my tippy toes just to fit my face through the eye hole of the mask. #shortie

Then it was time to put down the phone cameras and get ready to race.  Newjojie and Tinkerbell are both more experienced runners than I am, but they were sweet and agreed to run at my pace, which was 2min run/1min walk.  On the treadmill my pace for the run is 4.5mph and the walk is 3.5mph and it’s a great pace. I feel strong and comfortable.  Outside, it’s a whole other story.

I always start out too quickly when I’m running outside, and today was no different.  In fact, I’d shot ahead so fast that Tinkerbell told Newjojie, “just let her go” with a smile.  I’d warned them both that the momentum and adrenaline gets to me at the beginning of a race and I go much faster than I can sustain for an entire race.  And within a minute or so, I realized I needed to slow down and go at a more moderate pace. Tinkerbell matched my pace, and Newjojie was leading our way, a few paces ahead of us.

We were running for what seemed like forever, and I was wondering why my interval timer hadn’t beeped to indicate we should start walking when I looked down and discovered it wasn’t on.  Doh!!  I apologized, turned it on, and we started the true run/walk.

The beginning of the race, until about mile 1.3 was good.  I was running well, and felt strong.  And then right before the turnaround, my breath became more labored and I was having a much harder time with the runs.  Being outside is just so much more difficult, and I probably should’ve paced myself even slower so that I didn’t get that slight burning feeling in my lungs when I ran.  But all it took was Tink holding my hand and encouraging me during one of the walking portions for me to know I was going to keep this up, even if I had to slow down a bit to do it.  Twice, I stopped my run portion about 30 seconds early, apologizing profusely to Tinkerbell and Newjojie, as I told them to run ahead without me and I’d catch up. Tink told me I had nothing to apologize for, and she and Newjojie actually did a loop around to meet me at my pace when I was back to my run.  What awesome running pals these two are!

Newjojie snapped this action shot of us.

Newjojie snapped this action shot of us.

Once we hit 2.85 miles, I felt a renewed energy.  We agreed we’d continue the run/walk pace until we could see the finish line in sight, and then we’d run into the finish line, as Carina taught me.  It must be a surge of adrenaline that comes with that FINISH sign, because I felt amazing as we ran into it!!

The race organized captured this great shot of the three of us running into the finish line.  They loved our outfits so much that they used the pic on their FB wall.  How cool is that?!

The race organizers captured this great shot of the three of us running into the finish line (bottom left). They loved our outfits so much that they used the pic on their FB wall. How cool is that?!

After the race, with water and banana in hands.

After the race, with water and banana in hands.

All told, I hit another PR today!!  I completed the race in 42:21.44, which is a pace of 13:39/mile! That’s 3.87 minutes quicker than my pace at the Hot Chocolate 5K in SF!!!!! I’m so proud of myself!  It goes to show that I’m much too hard on myself when I’m running.  I was getting so down on myself and frustrated that breathing was getting challenging and that I had to add 30 seconds to my walk a couple of times.  In reality, I had my best time yet, so I need to cut myself a break on the next 5K and really just enjoy the day. I would’ve never been able to do any of this 126 pounds ago, so I need to relish that fact!

Beyond my personal accomplishment, the best part of the day was doing the 5K with these amazing ladies.  Tinkerbell is one of my best friends, and now Newjojie has become an “in-real-life” friend, too. We’re already planning our next 5K, when Tink and I will drive up to Newjojie’s neck of the woods.  I can’t wait!!


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