Month: May 2013

Choosing My Plastic Surgeon

Deciding on which plastic surgeon to go with was literally one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in my entire life. After deciding that plastic surgery was right for me, I thought it was going to be a breeze to find information on good doctors, and in turn find one that I clicked with and that I thought would give me great care before, during, and after the procedure. But since plastic surgeons are definitely a little less openly discussed than other medical professionals, a lot of the referrals come based on word of mouth or through friends or family who’ve had similar procedures. Since I don’t know anyone personally who’s undergone this or other types of plastic surgery in the area, it made it that much more difficult.

Before the Consultations

The first step for figuring out who to see was mentioning to my regular doctor that I was thinking about getting plastic surgery on my abdomen, and seeing if she had any recommendations of surgeons. She gave me a list of three to check out, one of which I had already been thinking about because I had heard good things and have a friend that works at the office. The other two doctor’s I hadn’t heard of, but I looked them up and was able to find some information online.

I did a ton of research on this procedure before moving forward with scheduling any appointments because I wanted to be as informed as possible going into the consultations. I also came up with a list of questions I wanted to ask based on this research before scheduling anything (which is listed at the bottom of this post). After feeling good about the questions, I went ahead and scheduled consultations with two of the doctors from the list, and a third doctor I found on my own.

Making those initial calls to set up the consultations was such a turning point – I was REALLY taking steps to make this happen! Each office does the consultation costs differently – the first office didn’t charge me at all, the second one charged a $75 nonrefundable fee, and the third held a credit card in case I didn’t show, but also did not charge for the consult. I was able to get in the next week with the first doctor, and then a few weeks later with the second and third.

During the Consultation

Each of the consultations went much the same – it started with filling out some paperwork and then going in the room to wait for the doctor. The doctor would come in with at least one other person (usually a nurse) and speak with me for about 15 – 30 minutes about what I was there for, what my expectations were, and what questions I had. After going through all that, they would leave the room so I could change into a hospital gown with just my undergarments on, and then the doctor and nurse would come back in to do the exam.

hospital gown2

During this time, they would talk about their specific approach for the procedure while doing the exam, and answer any additional questions that came up. Two of the doctors took “before” pictures at this point, and one did not take photos during the consult. After this, they would have me meet with the surgical coordinator to give a cost proposal and talk about the different procedures that were recommended. The surgical coordinator is also who can answer a lot of questions and would put me in touch with former patients or give additional access to before and after photos that may not be on the public website.

Evaluating My Options

Though the processes themselves for the consultations were much the same, there were some stark differences between the three doctors.

To put it lightly, the first doctor blew my socks off. I felt like he really listened to me, completely understood where I was coming from and what my expectations were, and seemed to really care. He also made me feel very comfortable and said “You deserve this”, which is something that has stuck with me since. Everyone I met outside of the doctor, from the receptionist, to the nurse, to the surgical coordinator were also very sweet and made me feel cared for and important. I also liked how nice the office itself was and where it was located because it’s very convenient to where I work and live.

The second doctor… I just hated. He made me feel really bad about my body, seemed very bored and uninterested in me, and couldn’t seem to get out of the room quick enough, even though his reviews were excellent. He was also very cocky, and seemed annoyed by my questions. When I asked him why he said the procedure would take 2 hours instead of the 4.5 hours quoted by the first doctor (and later by the third), he said, “I just don’t go that slow.” Um, ok. I don’t doubt that he is a skilled surgeon, but just wasn’t the right one for me.

I was expecting to go into the third doctor and be sure about my decision to go with doctor #1, so I set the bar pretty low. I felt like since it was my third consultation, I was able to ask really good questions and have him give me answers to why his approach was slightly different from the other two doctors. He said I needed some additional procedures on top of the tummy tuck, but overall I liked him more than I was expecting to. The one thing I didn’t love was that when he asked how I lost the weight (gastric bypass?) and I told him Weight Watchers, he told me how his ex-wife worked for Nutrisystems so he really “got it” and thinks those programs all work really well. I can’t expect people to know Weight Watchers inside and out, BUT I feel like as a medical professional you should know that WW is a little different…

I left the third consultation feeling really excited, but also conflicted since I had two doctors that I liked. I am definitely an emotional and excitable person, so I was beaming coming out of that third consult, but I knew I should wait a few days to really look at the facts to make a decision. I ended up making a pro and con list for both of the doctors and found the first doctor had more pros and less cons. I sent a list of follow up questions to doctor #1 asking for him to clarify a few minor differences in surgical approach.  I also made a phone call to the patient the first doctor had given me, which was a really amazing resource. She was around my age, had also gone through massive weight loss with diet and exercise, and answered every question I had in a lot of detail. After talking with her about her surgical experience, how pleased she was with her results and the office staff as a whole, it really sealed the deal for me to go with the first doctor I saw.

My Surgeon

The surgeon I decided to go with is Dr. Paul Ruff IV from Ruff Plastic Surgery. I got such a great feeling when meeting him, saw many incredible before and after pictures of his work, and felt (and continue to feel) well treated by the entire office staff. The location is also very convenient, but speaking with his former patient was really the icing on the cake for me to feel certain about my decision.

This is the list of questions I went in with and Dr. Ruff’s answers paraphrased in MY words (with a month and half and two additional consultations in between, so take them with a grain of salt).

  • Will there be complications if I want to get pregnant down the road?

No, you can absolutely get pregnant after having a tummy tuck. It’s recommended that if you’re in the middle of having children or plan to get pregnant soon then you wait, but as long as you plan to wait at least 6 months after the surgery you are fine. There is always a chance you might want or need a revision post pregnancy since we can’t predict exactly how your body will respond to pregnancy (just as they can’t with any person) but you definitely will bounce back BETTER than you would if you didn’t have this surgery because the excess skin and fat will be gone.

  • What is the recovery like? How long should I take off from work? How long will I be completely unreachable after the surgery if a work emergency comes up?

Recovery is the most painful 24-72 hours after the surgery, but every person experiences recovery differently. After that, it’s 6 weeks until you’re returning to all your regular activities, but swelling can last for a few months. The scar fades over time and can take 2-3 years to be fully faded. We want you to start moving around as much as possible right away and walking to and from the bathroom from the get-go. You are good to take 1 – 2 weeks off from work after surgery (if you have a desk job), and you can expect to be unreachable for about 3 – 4 days. It’s more that you might not want to be reached than anything, though.

  • How long do I need someone to stay with me 24/7 after the procedure?

At least 2 – 3 days according to Dr. Ruff, but Michelle, the surgical coordinator, said a lot of women are more comfortable with 5 – 7 days of full time assistance.

  • Where will my incision be located exactly? Where will the drains be placed after surgery?

The incision will be located very low from hip to hip. It will go at least as far as the overhang of skin, and usually around 1 inch past that on either side for the best contouring results.

  • Will any other body parts be affected from the tummy tuck?

Your whole body contour and shape will be improved (with the help of some lipo as well), and your inner thighs may be lifted too.

  • At what point can I start exercising again?

Usually light exercise and cardio around 4 weeks post op, and then weight lifting at the 6 week mark. But again, every person is different.

  • Is there any special diet I should be eating before or after the procedure for the best healing possible?

High protein has the best results for healing.

  • Do you think I am a good candidate for this procedure?

You’re an ideal candidate. You are young, healthy, and deserve to be proud of the body that you’ve worked so hard for.

Memorial Day in DC

I had such a fun Memorial Day weekend! My sister came to visit from NYC for the first time since 2008 (even if she claims it was 2009) and she brought her husband Dan, plus my favorite niece and oldest nephew with her.

Some highlights included:

QT with Claire and Ben.

Beth Claire Ben

QT with my sister, of course.

heather and beth

Being a tourist in my own city, with trips to the National Building Museum, The American History Museum, and Iwo Jima.

ben at NBM

And eating SO much food, including:

– Ramen at Daikaya

– Crabs at the Quarterdeck

claire picking crabs

– Dolsot Bibim bap at Mandu

– Drinks at The Gibson

– Dinner at Bar Pilar

The worst part was that weekends go too fast!

Date Set and Tummy Tuck Resources

So guess what!? The date is set for my tummy tuck surgery! In case you missed it, here’s the post where I discuss my reasons and decision to move forward with plastic surgery.

My pre-op appointment will be July 11, and the surgery itself will be July 29, which is less than 10 weeks away! I feel like this time is going to FLY by (especially since I’m going to Peru for 17 days in between) and I have so much to do to get ready between now and then. I am so excited, but also terrified. This is really happening!

I plan to write more about the consultations and deciding on a surgeon soon, but first I wanted to provide you with the most helpful resources I’ve found while browsing around for information on tummy tucks, which has been my newest hobby as of late. I was really looking for detailed, first hand accounts of what the entire process was like, especially the recovery. It’s funny how some people don’t want to know any of the gory details because they are afraid they might talk themselves out of it, but I want to know EVERYTHING. I had a hard time finding a ton of resources since plastic surgery is such a taboo topic, but here are the ones I found most helpful and refer to often:

  • Runs for Cookies – If you don’t already read Katie’s blog, you should, but she also went through a lower body lift and blogged about the entire process. Her surgery was a bit more extensive than mine will be and also had it after having two children, but there is a lot of good information there and a detailed account of the recovery.
  • PriorFatGirl – Jen is someone who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in real life, and she is as awesome as you’d expect. She went through a tummy tuck as well as have the excess skin on her arms removed, so her procedure was also a bit more extensive than mine will be.
  • MakeupGeek – I found this post very helpful with lots of information about preparing for a tummy tuck and everything leading up to the procedure itself. She also has pretty dramatic results, but I am definitely behind the ball according to her timeline!
  • Tummy Tuck Survival Guide – This is posted on RealSelf.com and has a ton of helpful information about choosing a doctor, and then lots of tips and information about dealing with both the logistical side and emotional side of recovery.
  • RealSelf.com – this is a resource with a LOT of different information, including a Tummy Tuck Forum, Q&As, Before and After Pics, and lots of first hand accounts. It takes a while to dig through all the information, but there is a ton of good stuff there.
  • TummyTuckTales – This woman is hysterical, and gave a refreshing perspective on recovery after undergoing a tummy tuck after having several children and losing a lot of weight. It’s always nice to find a light-hearted account of something so serious, but still dealt with a lot of specifics and the good, the bad, and the ugly.
  • Funeral for My Fat – This 23 year old, Sharee, had a tummy tuck and thigh lift after losing almost 120 pounds. Wowza. She also has a couple youtube videos on the subject and is super cute.
  • Enough Fluff – 24 year old, Madelynn, who underwent a tummy tuck after shedding 100 pounds.

Am I missing anything from this list? This will be a working post that I can update as I come across new resources, so please let me know if there’s anything out there that I should add. Thanks!

Distraction Free Meals

One of my favorite parts of Weight Watchers 360 is the routines that we focus on each month. The one for May is particularly relevant for me – “Eat all your meals distraction free.”

This is something I majorly struggle with. I tend to eat my breakfast and lunch at my desk at work, and I’m almost always doing a million things in addition to eating, mostly checking or reading email. It’s been known to happen where I’ll make something for breakfast and while I’m focusing on anything but actually eating, I’ll go to reach for another bite and look down and my breakfast is GONE. I have to do a self check to remember that I did actually eat it, but just wasn’t paying any attention so can barely recall.

This is problematic for a number of reasons, but I think the biggest thing for me is that it takes so much away from the satisfaction I should be getting. Besides just filling my stomach and keeping away low blood sugar (and the inevitable crankiness that follows…) I also really do enjoy eating and try to fill my menu with things I actually like. So, if I am so distracted while I’m eating that I can barely remember that I actually ate, obviously I’m not enjoying what I’m eating or getting the satisfaction that comes from that.

I am a lot better about eating dinner distraction free (most of the time) because I’m eating at home and usually put a little more time or thought into preparing the food, so I tend to force myself to enjoy it a little more. So for me, I really want to focus on meals that I’m eating at my desk at work.

Eating any meal distraction free can be a real challenge if you work a busy job (or have kids at home, or fill in the blank…) so I think it’s really important to set realistic expectations. There is no way I can sit down at the table to eat those meals with no TV, computer, or phone, but what I can do is make a diligent effort to pay more attention when I am eating. I think the solution for me is to implement little ways that I can slow down my eating since I am a speed eater by nature, so even if I am slightly distracted while I’m eating, I’m doing it slow enough that hopefully at some point I’ll actually be in tune with what I’m doing.

Some ideas that I’ve come up with are:

  • Cut food up into smaller bites
  • Use smaller utensils (like condiment spoons or cocktail forks)
  • Make a habit of sipping water between each bite
  • Pick something to do while I’m eating that is less distracting than looking at my computer (any ideas?)
  • Bring in a placemat from home to use during meals, so the visual cue brings me back

In addition to the new routines with WW 360, there’s also an activity each week to pick one small thing you can focus on to change. It doesn’t necessarily have to be related to the routine, but I love breaking big changes down into little ones because it feels so much more doable. So my little change for this week is that I am going to work on cutting my food up into smaller bites for breakfast. I’ve been having an english muffin with peanut butter and a banana most mornings lately (because it’s easy and quick!), so instead of just having the halves of the english muffin, I’m going to cut them each up into quarters and see how that helps me be more in tune with the meal. We’ll see how it goes!

How are you with eating your meals distraction free? Which ones do you struggle with the most? Do you have any tips for minimizing distractions or slowing down while eating?

Five for Friday

1.) I was in Orlando this week… for one night for work. I got VIP treatment all the way.

photo 1 (6)

It was amazing weather

photo 5 (4)

and I stayed at a beautiful resort

photo 2 (8)

But I am so ready to stop traveling for a bit!

2.) Speaking of not traveling, I am going to Peru on June 21! When I first booked the trip, it felt SO far away, but now it’s just over a month away! Within the last few weeks, Stacy (my travel buddy) and I have booked everything we need to – including our internal flights in Peru, a 6 night/7 day Amazon Jungle Tour (!!!), and all our accommodations outside of the tour (hostels in Lima and Cusco and an apartment in Cusco for 5 days after the jungle tour). It feels so good to have all those details taken care of!

3.) I had my third (and final!) consult with a plastic surgeon last Thursday, and I cannot believe what a hard decision it is to pick a surgeon! I’ve been going so back and forth between the first and third, but think I am getting very close to making a decision. It feels so adult – I almost wish I could call my mom and make her choose for me. That said, hopefully I will finalize everything in the next week or so and set a surgery date. I’ll be posting about my consults and background research into tummy tucks in the next week, so stay tuned!

4.) I haven’t been counting WW Points for a few weeks now. I’ve actually been maintaining my weight and losing a little (still am a daily weigher), which makes me feel like I am getting closer to being able to eat intuitively. I do still want to lose a few more pounds before said surgery, so I know I need to get back to counting sooner rather than later, but for right now I’m enjoying the break.

5.) This is the first weekend in I can’t remember how long where I have no set in stone plans, and I could not be more excited.

Time to Stop Making Excuses

Yesterday Beth’s Journey DietBet: Take 3 started, and it’s not too late to sign up if you’re still interested!

Recently I came across this quote that really struck a cord with me.

“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” – Jim Rohn

I am a champion at coming up with excuses. I’ve been traveling to different states weekly for the last several weeks; work has been crazy recently; and I’ve just had a lot going on outside of work too. I know we can all fill our own blanks in with what’s going in our lives and why we can’t make time to prioritize healthy eating and exercising.

Sunday night I got home late from Woodstock with my fam, so I basically melted into the couch upon my return and didn’t do much else. Enter Monday, and I looked at all my suitcases, bags, and the cooler from the weekend (you would have thought I was gone for weeks) on my way out the door to work, but grabbed my gym bag anyway just in case.

After work, all I could think about was needing to come home, unpack, do laundry, go grocery shopping, figure out what to eat this week, and plan my Weight Watchers meeting for this morning. It would have been easy to just head home and start tackling that to-do list, but instead I made myself get on the treadmill and run, and I ended up busting out 4.14 miles in 40 minutes (very good for me lately!) and feeling SO great during the run.

run

I came home, unpacked, and decided to make do with what was in my kitchen for food for the next day or so and hold off on laundry until tonight. After a quick (very random) dinner, I sat down to plan my WW meeting and write this post, and realized how proud I was of myself for prioritizing exercise today over the many other things I could have let myself get into post work.

I even managed to come up with a decent meal plan, though most of that is because I ordered a Blue Apron box that comes on Wednesday so takes care of the latter half of the week…

Breakfast Lunch Dinner Snacks
Monday English muffin w/PB + raisins, 1/2 banana carrots and pita chips w/hummus, honey greek yogurt english muffin w/cottage cheese + banana berry smoothie apple with string cheese
Tuesday English muffin w/ cottage cheese + apple Butter lettuce salad w/tuna, craisins, mozz, and pistachios tofu (defrosting) fajitas with peppers and onions and rice and beans orange + strawberry greek yogurt
Wednesday English muffin w/egg whites + cheese + spinach Tofu fajita salad over butter lettuce Roast Cornish Hen w/Mini Baked Potatoes and Spring Veg Sauté (Blue Apron) Blueberry greek yogurt + banana
Thursday Banana Berry Smoothie + toasted english muffin Salmon Roll Sandwich w/Baby Beet + Pea Tendril Salad (Blue Apron) Soft Boiled Eggs w/toasted english muffin String Cheese + fruit
Friday veggie omelet with cheese + toast tofu fajita salad over butter lettuce Flank Steak au Jus w/ Creamy Dijon Cauliflower, Pickled baby turnips, & Watercress (Blue Apron) Banana Berry Smoothie

What I need to get from the grocery store (tonight!):

    • Eggs
    • English Muffins
    • Bananas
    • Fruit (whatever is on sale)
    • Skim Milk

That’s it! It feels so good to have a plan in place and be done with making excuses, for now at least.

Next Phase of my Journey

For as long as I remember, I’ve been unhappy with my body. As an adolescent, I considered myself too chubby to look cute in the clothes my friends wore, too out of shape keep up with the other kids in gym class, and too unattractive for boys to be interested in me. As I got older, being overweight transitioned into being obese. My already low self esteem got even worse and caused my weight and health to spiral out of control. I could never shop at the same stores as my friends, took what I could get as far as romantic interests were concerned and always sold myself short because I was scared of putting myself out there.

Fast forward to the present, and I’ve completely transformed my life. Besides having lost almost 90 pounds, I’ve found confidence and learned to recognize that I have no reason to underestimate myself and what I can accomplish. I’ve made bold career moves, learned the importance of putting myself first and being an active player in my own life, and have made great strides toward finding balance in my life.

I am extremely proud of myself for how far I’ve come and how much I’ve changed myself, both inside and out. However, there’s still one big thing that is holding me back which is strictly physical, but affects me very much mentally — the extra skin and fat around my abdomen from losing almost 90 pounds.

With clothes on, I look like an average-sized person who is healthy and normal. Without them, you would have a very different impression of my lifestyle. I feel like I’ve worked way too hard to get where I am and still be so uncomfortable in my own skin.

I am self-conscious to the point that thinking about changing in a room full of my girlfriends literally makes me cringe. I am constantly pulling my shirt down for fear of someone getting a glimpse of my stomach. I wear a larger pant size than I’d like to and I shy far away from anything that clings to my body. And, I’m still wearing the same size underwear that I always did, even at 250 pounds.

These issues are things that I’ve been thinking about for a LONG time – pretty much since I hit my goal weight almost 2 years ago. I’ve stayed within the same 10-15 pounds of my goal for the whole time and even when at my goal, my stomach is still very unsightly and a source of extreme anxiety for me.

After hundreds of hours of research and poring over YouTube videos, online forums, blog posts, before and after pictures, and plastic surgeon websites, I’ve decided to move forward with getting plastic surgery on my abdomen to remove the excess skin and fat.

While still in the beginning stages, I’ve had two consultations with plastic surgeons, and have a third set up for next week. The first doctor I saw I loved, but the second one I hated. We’ll see how it goes with the third. This is a major surgery so it will involve a large investment of time, money, and courage. But, in the end, I am confident it will all be worth it.