Part One: The Evolution of My Relationship with Food

All my life, I was heavy. And I hated it. I went through this perpetual cycle of hating my body, hating myself, and hating that I let food have this power over me. I’d start off every day with the best of intentions for being healthy and losing weight, and while I knew what foods were healthy, I really had no concept of how much I should be eating of what. I would go for things with good gimmicks on the labels like “low fat” and “fat free” and “good for your heart”, thinking I was making the right choices. And I would eat just a little bit of it. And then, I would be hungry. And I would try to convince myself that I wasn’t, and do everything in my power not to eat more so I could lose weight.

And then I would binge.

I’d eat everything and anything I could get my hands on that was off limits for me during the times I was being “good”. I’d use being sad, happy, drunk, busy, anxious or bored as an excuse, and I would eat myself sick. Never to the point where I threw up, but to the point where I would feel sick to my stomach, uncomfortably full and would likely have to lay down. This would usually get it out of my system temporarily, and then I’d wake up the next day and hate myself even more. And then I’d start the cycle again.

There were periods of my life where I cared less about weight than other times, like during the first few years of college where I had my first serious boyfriend. At those times, I was just eating a lot of what I knew were bad-for-me foods pretty much all the time. And it’s no surprise that I gained a lot of weight. And then at the end of college, I decided to give Atkins a go because I knew it was something I could try that would allow me to eat excessive amounts of food and still lose weight. I was used to the “allowed” and “not allowed” labels on things, so it really worked for me. I lost 40 pounds, felt pretty good, and kept it off for a year.

But you know what? I like bread. And pizza. And fruit. And milk. There was no way I was going to be able to stick with that forever, and when I went off Atkins and back into my unhealthy restrict/overdo cycle of eating, it’s no surprise that I gained back all the weight and then some.

And then I (re)discovered Weight Watchers in 2009. I loved having the system that I could track my food (I’m a numbers person) and that nothing was off limits technically. I also loved that I was losing weight and learning to eat right, and being in a room of people where I could tell them that I ate an entire batch of cookies and they would get it and not judge me. It was very liberating. I think Weight Watchers was a very essential part of my journey because it really was what helped me develop a lot of healthy habits and lose a large amount of weight. At the time, I really needed a way out of the cycle I was in and the accountability and easy-to-follow program were right for me at the time.

But in many ways, Weight Watchers encouraged that restrict and then overdo it cycle that I was accustomed to, though a little bit less severe than it was before. I would always eat my minimum points per day, but for anyone who has ever done WW, you know that it’s really not that much. It’s enough, but there’s no way I could eat just 26 pointsplus per day every day for the rest of my life. My approach was that I would eat the daily target Monday to Friday, and then use all the extra points on the weekends or for a special event, which is when I’d way overdo it. A lot of times I wouldn’t count the points on those days where I was going above and beyond, and that freedom helped me feel less trapped by the counting of the program. But I would still have those same guilty feelings after eating excessively, and then return to the minimum points per day until I felt ok about myself again. It worked in helping me get down to a healthy weight, but it didn’t help break that cycle of being good or bad, and seeing everything as black or white.

And though with WW nothing is technically off limits, for me, it was. I didn’t trust myself to have one piece of pizza – so I would either eat no pizza on those days where I was sticking to my daily target, or eat most of a large pizza on a day when I was not. I still kept that off limits mentality with “bad” foods when I was trying to stay on track, and though this wasn’t Weight Watchers fault per se, the program allowed me to embrace these old unhealthy habits as I found my way to a healthy weight. They said everything in moderation, but for someone with as messed up a relationship as I had with food, I didn’t trust myself with the whole moderation thing.

The other side of it, besides seeing foods as good or bad, was that the bad foods caused me extreme anxiety. If I would attend a social event or be at a work party where there was pizza, my heart would literally race as I fought with myself against whether I was going to have some or not. Sometimes my willpower and resolve would be high, and I’d place myself away from the food knowing that I was not going to touch it. Other times, though, I couldn’t even pay attention to what was going on around me because I was too focused on the food and was being consumed by it. (Ironic, eh?) This was particularly sad when I was spending time with friends and could barely pay attention to the conversation because I was so distracted by the food in front of me, until it was either taken away or completely eaten. I don’t think anyone around me could grasp how preoccupied by the food I was because I put on a good act, but it’s pretty disturbing how much control I let it have over me.

To be continued…

Behind the Scenes: US News and World Report

I posted this exciting news last week on my Facebook Page, but I had a really amazing opportunity that I am so grateful for, and I got the go-ahead to share it, so here we go!

Over Labor Day weekend, I got contacted by the Senior Editor of Health+Wellness at US News and World Report. I get media inquiries pretty regularly, but most of the time they are for diet pills or some weight loss gimmick that doesn’t go along with my view on the subject, so I ignore them. This one caught my attention though because of the source.

Each January, they come out with the Best Diets list (here’s the list from 2013) and I remember having to wear the “#1 Diet by US News and World Report” pin as a leader for Weight Watchers since WW was ranked #1 in 2012. For 2014, they are releasing 8 real life success stories along with the launch of the list for the first time – and the email they sent me was asking if I wanted to be one of those success stories!! They found me through my blog and I was totally taken aback and excited, but wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. I was told they wanted to make videos of the 8 success stories in their studio, and asked if I could come in to be interviewed on film.

So last Wednesday, after work, I headed to their main office to get interviewed!

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They took a bunch of still shots of me holding one of my before shots in frame. This one, to be exact.

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After the still shots, they had me sit down in front of several cameras and under lights and asked me a bunch of questions.

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These included:

  • State your name, age, job, location, before weight, and current weight.
  • What caused you to gain the weight?
  • What was your turning point?
  • How did you lose the weight?
  • What type of support did you have during your weight loss journey?
  • What does a typical day of eating look like for you now?
  • How has exercise played a role in your weight loss?
  • What made you decide to have plastic surgery after your weight loss?
  • What is your best advice for someone wanting to lose weight?
  • How is your life different now than it was before?

I had been sent the questions ahead of time so I had a little time to think about what I was going to say, but I honestly don’t remember exactly what I said for each of the questions! I got a little choked up at the end talking about how different my life is, and was so happy to be able to share my story.

I also learned that I make really awkward faces when I talk on camera (and probably in general), so you’re welcome.

AwkwardThe story will be coming out in January 2014 along with the launch of the list, so I’ll be sure to share it when I hear more, but was excited to be able to write about this much!

 

Video Q+A with Dr. Ruff

Last week I had my 6 week post-op check up with Dr. Ruff of Ruff Plastic Surgery, and he sat down with me and answered a list of questions that I compiled from you guys! I knew most of the answers to these questions but it was really fun to talk to him (in regular clothes and not a surgical gown, to boot).

Here’s a look at the video:

And here is the list of questions that I asked him:
  1. What are some of the most common procedures that people who have undergone massive weight loss consider?
  2. How many areas would you recommend operating on at one time?
  3. At what point in a weight loss journey is it recommended to look into a body contouring surgery like this?
  4. Do you have any recommendations while people are undergoing the weight loss itself to reduce the need for surgery like this?
  5. How old is “too old” for someone to consider a procedure like this?
  6. How would this surgery impact future pregnancies? How would getting pregnant affect the results?
  7. Can you talk a little bit about the nerve pain – why it happens and how long it lasts?
  8. How long after a procedure like this do you see the final outcome?
  9. Even though it varies from individual to individual, can you talk a little bit about the cost of a surgery like this? Will insurance ever cover it?
  10. What are the most important things to look into when you are selecting a plastic surgeon?

Hope you guys enjoyed the video and my awkwardness!

He did say if any other questions come up he’d be more than happy to address them, so let me know if you think of anything else!

Take 4: Beth’s Journey DietBet

I’m hosting a new DietBet starting this Thursday, September 19. I’ve hosted a few games before and they’ve all turned out to have a great, supportive community and very active message boards with extra motivation to shed some pounds!

The way it works is that you pay $25 to play, and the goal is to lose 4% of your starting weight. DietBet has a team of people that verify starting weights and you have to submit a photo of yourself on the scale, along with a photo of your weight on the scale with a word written on a card that they provide you once the weigh in opens. Everyone who hits that 4% goal in the 4 weeks of the game splits the total pot, and winners have to submit a final weigh in to prove they’ve hit the goal. In the last several games I’ve hosted, winners have taken home more than the $25 they paid to play, and even people who haven’t hit the target have made progress on their weight loss journey and have enjoyed the game!

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This one will start Thursday, September 19 and run through Wednesday, October 16 so it’s a great time to start making progress as we head into fall! Accepting that summer is officially over is a whole different game.

To sign up, simply click over to the game and follow the instructions!

Who’s in!?

6 Weeks Post Op

Holy crap! Where has the time gone? I know I’ve started every single update this way, but I cannot believe it was six weeks ago today that I headed to Ruff Plastic Surgery to get my procedure done. They say 6 weeks marks the end of the first stage of recovery, and I made it! I could not be happier with the results and though it sucked pretty bad for the first several days after surgery, and then emotionally for quite a bit longer than that, I am so happy with the results that I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Since my last update at 4 weeks post op, quite a few things have changed. Here are the highlights:

  • At 4 weeks I was given clearance to start running slowly, and I was really scared to think about what it was going to feel like to run again and how many steps back my body would have taken with the break from working out. The first time I went, I walked briskly for 15 minutes, then jogged very slowly for 20 minutes, then walked for another 10 to cool down. I didn’t wear my compression garment when running because I didn’t want to get it sweaty (plus at that point I was allowed to wear it just 12 hours/day), and it felt… awesome! My body was so much firmer than before and it felt so great to be running. The only part that felt kind of weird was the outside of my butt on either side, which seems random. The next day I was a little sore in the quads, but more from a haven’t-run-in-a-month way, rather than a just-had-major-surgery way. Since then, I’ve worked up to running 30-35 minutes straight, and have still been going pretty slowly for me. I’m averaging about 10-11 minute miles, and for a while there I was around the 8-9min mile mark pre-surgery. Still a ways to go, but I am so happy that it was such an easy transition back. As of today, all activity bans are lifted, so I can resume all activity with no restrictions.
  • At the 4 week mark, I was also given clearance to wear the garment for 12 hours a day instead of 24, though I wore it almost 24/7 until a few days ago. I was nervous I would have a lot of swelling and feel weird without it on, but I didn’t have any ill effects and love the freedom of not having to dress based on the cut of the garment!
  • Speaking of dressing, I went through my closet over the last couple weeks, and almost none of my clothes fit. Before surgery, I was a 10/12, and I wasn’t sure if my size would be effected or if my clothes would just fit better after surgery, but my size was cut almost in half. I got rid of everything in my closet than doesn’t fit, and was down to a pathetic amount of clothes, so I’ve done a bunch of shopping over the last couple of weeks. And, I got several skirts and a few pairs of pants, everything in a size… wait for it… 4 or 6! It is insane. When I went into the dressing room, I originally brought in size 6, 8, and 10 with me of most things because I had no idea what size to wear, and the 6s were too big for several of the items, which is crazy. All my tops are down to a small or x-small, depending on the cut, and I am so thrilled to be able to wear fitted clothing and not worry about extra stuff going on in the mid section. Woohoo!
  • I also started using a silicone gel sheet to treat the scar from NewGel+. They provided me with a strip complimentarily, and this is the one that I got (which is standard for tummy tucks). They are pretty pricey ($83.50 each unless you buy multiples), but I feel like this stage of the game is NOT the one to skimp on, so I am going to use my own money to buy additional strips. They last for 3-4 weeks depending on how well you take care of them, and it’s recommended you use them for 3-6 months for the best results. If you look at the before/after pictures on the site, the results are pretty incredible. The strip itself is VERY sticky, and you wear it for several hours at a time, the more the better, but its important to clean the area 2x a day to make sure you don’t have a bad skin reaction. I made the mistake of ignoring that suggestion and wore it for 24 hours straight when I was traveling to Woodstock. Once I realized I had overdone it, I took the strip off and looked to see that I had a minor irritation where the strip was, and ended up leaving it off for a few days and just using the BioCorneum, and it totally went away. I’m now back to wearing the strip almost all the time and haven’t had any adverse reactions. I am excited to see the scar fade and go down, but it’s honestly looking pretty awesome right now for this point during recovery (photos below). I’ll keep you guys posted on the progress as I continue to use the strip/gel.
  • Physically, I feel amazing. The only lasting effects I feel at this point (besides the whole body-cut-in-half scar) is sometimes a little tight in the stomach area, and my belly button is still healing. I have had almost zero swelling since the surgery, which I think is largely because Dr. Ruff is such an amazing surgeon. My primary care doctor had told me that I wouldn’t have a lot of swelling if I picked a talented surgeon, and I didn’t believe her because I had read so many horror stories about the swelling, but I think she may have been right. I feel very lucky! I do have a bit of swelling in my back that will continue to go down over time, but my stomach is, and has been, very flat since the surgery and has gotten better with time.

So before I show you the pictures, I want to share a funny story that definitely borders on inappropriate to tell the world but I’m going to anyway. I think I had mentioned this, but before surgery, there was one particular style of underwear I would almost exclusively wear, because it was cute and kept everything contained better than anything else. These underwear were size XL from Target and I had literally 15 pairs. I continued to wear these after surgery because they were all I had, and I wanted to wait to see more final results before purchasing too many items. Right after surgery, when I was still wearing those it was actually OK because I had the foam pads in and the compression garment, so they worked. Well, lately, not so much. I noticed they were pretty loose and knew I needed to buy some new undies, but I kept putting it off.

But then one day last week, I went to CVS to pick up a prescription after work, and I had been wearing my compression garment, said underwear, and then a skirt over everything. As I was walking to the back of the store, I felt something weird around my foot, and I looked down, and my underwear had literally fallen down AROUND MY ANKLES. I was mortified! I didn’t even look back because I didn’t (slash don’t) want to know if anyone saw, and I just pulled them up haphazardly and scurried back to the prescription counter and tried to pretend it didn’t happen. The next day I went to Target and bought new underwear in a size small. Guess we all need an “a-ha moment” on occasion.

SO, without further ado, here are some pictures from yesterday in a bikini bottom.

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Despite the stretch marks that remain, I am absolutely thrilled with the results.

Here’s a look at the scar from 6 weeks post op, which I think actually looks worse in the pictures than it does in real life.

Scar

Kind of crazy to look at, but it is hidden under even the lowest cut items, so no one sees it unless I want them to.

And here are some side by sides of the progress

1 v 2 v 3 v 4 v 6 weeks

This Wednesday, I have my 6 week follow up with Dr. Ruff, and we are going to make a little Q&A video so he can address some of your questions. Do you have any burning questions you are wondering about that you’d want a plastic surgeon to answer?

Scenes from Labor Day in Woodstock

Spending Labor Day weekend at my sister’s house in Woodstock has become a tradition of sorts. Both my niece Claire and my dad’s birthdays fall over the weekend, and hanging out at the house with the fam seems like the perfect way to close out the summer. This year, I ended up flying into Albany from DC, which is just over an hour from the house. The one hour flight was suuuuuuch a breeze compared to the 6ish hour drive from DC, so I was really happy I went with that option. My sister and the kids picked me up from the airport, and after making it back to the house, we wasted no time before heading to the pool.

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Me, Claire, and Ben

My other sister, Wendy, and her fam plus my parents came Thursday evening, and we spent the whole weekend doing a whole lot of relaxing and barely leaving the house. Some highlights included tons of games of my new favorite card game, Phase 10.

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A campfire!

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Complete with smores and lots of lovin’ on my nephews.

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Me and Harper

Ice cream cake for Claire’s 6th birthday.

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Does life get any better than when you’re 6?

So much time by the pool.

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(In a BIKINI, no less!)

And countless hours watching my niece and nephews bond with each other.

Cousins

Cousinly love is so awesome.

This weekend was exactly what I needed. Too bad they always go by way too fast!

Four Weeks Post Op

Somehow today marks four weeks since the surgery, and I honestly often forget that I had major surgery just a short time ago. It feels like it was ages ago, and the time has seriously gone so fast, especially after those first couple days post op.

The most exciting thing I have to report from the past week (which you’d already know if you follow me on facebook) is that, for the first time in my ENTIRE life, I laid out by the pool yesterday in a BIKINI. Me! In a bikini in public! Who would’ve thought!?

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It was also my first time at a DC public pool, and the day was absolutely gorgeous and perfect. It’s funny because I realized that yesterday was the first time in my 29 years that my stomach has ever gotten a glimpse of the sun. Thank god for strong SPF because somehow I barely got any color – I’m thinking my stomach just didn’t know how to respond. And just in case you’re worried, I cleared it with my surgeon, Dr. Ruff.

Since today marks 4 weeks, here are some other changes:

  • I’m now able to switch from 24/7 in the compression garment to 12 hours in it, and 12 hours in a tight Spanx garment. I am honestly going to try to wear the compression garment as much as possible and basically just wear the spanx during the day at work and then switch to compression immediately when I get home because I know the more I wear it, the better.
  • I am cleared to use the treadmill starting today. My instructions are to take it slow and listen to my body, and slowly work up from a walk to a jog to a run over the next two weeks depending on how I feel. I think it’s going to be hard for me to go slow because I feel so great, but that may change quickly when I got on the ‘mill. I’ve been really good about following my surgeon’s instructions to a T and don’t plan to stop here. Two weeks from today all activity restrictions are lifted – I have never been so excited to exercise. I’ll let you know how it goes!
  • The scabbing is completely gone from my incision, though it’s still pretty nasty. I’ve been using BioCorneum as instructed (thin layer over the entire incision twice a day after washing with antibacterial soap), and I’m just waiting for my silicone scar strip to arrive so I can start using that too. I’m noticing that the scar is starting to lighten, flatten, and fade a bit, but it’s still pretty enormous and gives me a minor panic attack every time I see it. That’s part of why I’ve been able to stay so committed to my compression garment.
  • I feel really awesome physically. Yesterday I was able to lay on my stomach for the first time since surgery (at the pool). That’s been the only position I haven’t been able to get in because my stomach is still feeling quite tight, but yesterday it wasn’t uncomfortable at all. I still can’t pull my chest off the ground while I’m on my stomach (I have to lay flat) because that stretches it too much, but that was an exciting change. Sleeping on my stomach again may be in my near future. Fingers crossed.
  • I also realized that I definitely underestimated the emotional impact this surgery would have on me. I did so much research, read soooo many people’s stories, knew that the “blue” feeling would inevitably come, but the mental stuff still has been catching me quite off guard. It’s hard to explain exactly, but I’ve just felt vulnerable and overwhelmed a lot even though I know I’m healing wonderfully and am already so happy with the results. It’s been one of the less fun parts of recovery for sure.

And now, for some updated pictures. These are from yesterday, 27 days post op.

27 Days PO

And here are some comparison pics of weeks 1, 2, 3, and 4 post op.

1 v 2 v 3 v 4 weeks

The changes are pretty subtle, but the swelling is going down and my waist is getting more defined as the weeks go by. You can see I still have plenty of stretch marks, but those will never go away and are physical reminders of how far I’ve come. And don’t worry, the pics from yesterday were taken BEFORE sun exposure, so I may be slightly less pasty now. Maybe.

Three Weeks Post Op

Today marks three weeks after surgery, which means I’m at the half way point of the main phase of healing! Exciting stuff.

Honestly, I feel pretty much 95% at this point. I’m still limited in what I can do and have been taking it way easier than I normally do, but I’m definitely at the point of forgetting that I just had major surgery a few weeks ago. I had a follow up appointment this week with Ruff Plastic Surgery, and I got a Medsculpt Massage, saw Dr. Ruff for a follow up, and met with Sharonda to discuss scar treatment. Dr. Ruff is incredibly impressed with my progress and is so pleased with the results thus far, which made me happy. He was impressed with how well I’m healing and reminded me that my shape is only going to get better as all the swelling goes away – which I can’t even fathom.

Dr. Ruff said at four weeks post op (one week from today) I can get on a treadmill and work up gradually from walking to running. For now, exercise is limited to walking (not on a treadmill), but by 6 weeks I can resume all activity, including running, yoga, and weights. So I’m halfway there! I have also really lucked out with swelling and bruising – both have been pretty minimal. As you saw right after surgery, I was pretty bruised on my back, but it went away before the two week mark and so I feel lucky (and also like I picked a really talented surgeon). Unless I run into a problem, I don’t go back for another follow up until the 6 week mark, which is when I’ll get my official post-op pictures and weight as well as meet with Dr. Ruff again.

As far as changes from the past week:

  • I am barely sore at all anymore, except for here and there. Sometimes I am a little sore at the end of the day if I’ve had a particularly active day, but I haven’t been taking any Tylenol for well over a week, and I wake up feeling a lot better in the mornings than I was. I have been sleeping on my side since a couple days after surgery (with the OK from Dr. Ruff), but I am naturally a stomach sleeper. I still can’t lay or sleep on my stomach because it still feels too tight and uncomfortable, but that’s pretty much my only limitation at this point (besides the exercise thing).
  • I went back to work at the office this past week and it felt good! I was worried I’d tire easily, but honestly it felt really good to get back to my normal routine and I had plenty of energy throughout the day.
  • I have really enjoyed not wearing the foam pads, which I said goodbye to one week ago today.
  • I started treating my incision with Biocorneum – a topical silicone scar treatment. John, the Biocorneum rep for Dr. Ruff’s office, saw my post last week and offered me a complimentary bottle, so I feel lucky to have gotten it for free (though with the investment of the surgery, treating the scar is not something I would skimp on regardless). I’ve been using it twice a day and have been taking pictures, so hopefully I’ll start to notice improvements soon. Once all the scabs are gone (which should be within the week), I am also going to start using a silicone strip over the incision which is supposed to help fade and flatten the scar greatly as well.
  • I went shopping yesterday because a looooot of my clothes don’t fit that well anymore, (AND I no longer have to fear form-fitting clothes!) and for the first time in my life, I bought a size 6 black skirt! Granted, it’s pretty snug right now, and I’m pretty sure the store I bought it from runs big, but still! I also bought a couple size small shirts, which was almost as exciting.
  • They say not to step on the scale for the first 6-8 weeks post surgery, but I have been because I’m not letting it bother me, I’m just curious. I stayed about the same weight as before surgery for the first week or so after surgery, and since then my weight has gradually been going down as the swelling goes down. I haven’t been weighing myself daily, but the last time I weighed myself I was down 14 pounds from before surgery – which means I’ve lost some weight on top of what they removed during surgery. My official pre-op weight was 178 pounds, and the last time I stepped on the scale it said 164 (which coincidentally was my official Weight Watchers goal weight way back when). Apparently this number is going to keep going down as I get rid of the rest of the swelling (which is barely detectable at this point to me).
  • I’ve noticed my bras have been fitting really poorly. I think I wasn’t in the right size before surgery, and then with the flank lipo during surgery, my band size may have been affected. I went to Target yesterday to try on a few different sizes, and I was off by one cup size and two band sizes from what I was wearing before yesterday. Whoops! What a difference it makes to be wearing a more appropriate size.

And now, for the progress pics! I’m definitely noticing looking flatter and having a more defined waist this week, though it’s a subtle difference.

These are from yesterday, which is 20 days post op:

3 weeks PO

That line up my side is an indent from the compression garment, which I’m still wearing 24/7 for another 1-3 weeks. Starting at 4 weeks, I can wear the compression garment for 12 hours and a spanx-like garment for the other 12, though I’m told the more I wear the compression garment the better, so I may just do that.

And here is a side by side of 1 week v. 2 weeks v. 3 weeks post op.

1 week v 2 weeks v 3 weeks

Overall, I am super pleased with my progress, and excited to see where I am 3 weeks from now when I hit the 6 week mark. I imagine the changes will be more and more subtle at the weeks go on, but I am already so happy with the results that I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Two Weeks Post Op

It’s crazy to me that exactly two weeks ago today, I was on my way to Ruff Plastic Surgery to go under the knife (and by choice!). It feels like it was just yesterday in some ways, but then it also feels like ages ago. I think when things are really tough (like they were the first few days post op) each hour feels like a day and the time goes so slowly because you just want to press fast forward, but because you’re just focusing on getting through each obstacle that presents itself one at a time, overall the time passes pretty quickly. I’m not sure if that makes any sense to anyone outside my own head, but hey.

So overall, recovery is going REALLY well. I notice improvements almost each day, and this weekend marked the first time I was completely off painkillers of any form. I switched from narcotics to Tylenol after the first several days, but was taking Tylenol pretty religiously, with an occasional Vicodin here and there as needed since. Saturday, I woke up feeling pretty good, and decided to try to go without anything that day. I was a little sore, but nothing major, and I feel like allowing myself to be a little sore is actually a good thing because it reminds me I am still healing and need to take it easy. Sunday I felt a little more sore than Saturday randomly, but still managed not to take anything and am going to try to stay off going forward unless I really need them.

In terms of other changes from this past week:

  • The steristrips are now completely off the incision, so it’s no longer covered by anything. It is still pretty gnarly and scabby, so I will spare you photos until it’s less scary to look at.
  • I am walking completely upright now, which means my lower back is no longer in pain from walking hunched over – thank GOD. That sucked.
  • I am definitely feeling more energetic and less fatigued, which is another welcome change.
  • I am going back to work at the office today for the first time since surgery, though I did manage to work quite a bit from home last week.
  • Today is the first day I no longer have to wear the foam pads under my compression garment – another VERY welcome change. Those things were really hard to put in, but also made me feel really hot and stuffed like a sausage into the garment.

Speaking of the compression garment, I’ve gotten a lot of questions, so I had Matt take a picture of me in it yesterday so you can see what it looks like.

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It goes all the way from just above my knees, over my torso, and up over my shoulders. It has at least two layers of material, and is designed to be very tight – think Spanx gone wild. The straps over my shoulders have eyelet hooks (like the back of a bra), and then the main closure is up the side (under my left arm) with eyelet hooks covered by a zipper. This garment used to be extremely tight (in fact, even a little hard to breathe in), but it’s actually loosened up quite a bit now, which I think is a combination of the swelling going down and it stretching out from me being in it. It’s actually not that bad, but it does make it challenging to get dressed in normal clothes (especially summer ones) because of both the top part going over my shoulders with the neckline, and it being down to my knees. I found a solution this weekend, where I unhooked the straps and tucked them into the garment just under my bra so that I could wear a maxi dress. You couldn’t even tell I had something on under it!

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I went out for lunch and a movie with my friend Erika on Saturday wearing that, and then after the movie (The Spectacular Now, which was AWESOME), I looked down and saw there was something on my dress.

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It took me a while, but then I realized it was the Neosporin I put in my belly button leaking through the compression garment and onto my dress! How nasty! Luckily, it happened during the latter half of our outing so I could go home and change (and stay in for the rest of the night as to not overdo it). I treated the stain last night and really hope it comes out because this is one of those dresses I loved but could never wear before because of how it clung to my body. Argh!

Here are some new progress pictures, which were taken yesterday (day 13 post op). (You can look at this post for before pics and earlier progress photos).

The front:

photo 4 (3)

The back:

photo 5 (4)

You’ll notice the bruising is almost completely gone on my back, which is a big change from last week. That weird triangular dent from my underwear up my back to the left of the middle is from where the foam pads were laying, and that vertical line to the right of it is the scar from my back surgery in 2006. It’s kind of hard to tell from the pictures, but the swelling is worse in my back than in my front.

Here’s a side by side of one week post op v. two weeks post op.

1 week v 2 week

Not sure you can tell too much of a difference between these photos (and I realize I definitely need to be more consistent about lightening/angle/undergarments), but my belly button is definitely healing, and I’m very glad to have a belly button that you can actually see!

I have a two week follow up appointment this morning where I will discuss scar treatment and get my first Medsculpt Massage, which is a lymphatic drainage massage that I am pretty sure is not going to be nearly as luxurious as it sounds. I’m going to ask questions about what limitations I have at this point, when I can start scar treatment (which I’m pretty sure is not until all the scabs along the incision are gone), and whether I need to get a new compression garment since this one feels on the loose side now.

I’m planning to do a Q&A Post soon to address the many questions I’ve received, so please let me know if there’s anything about the surgery you’re wondering. Nothing (respectful) is off limits, though if it’s too personal I may just email you the response rather than the post it on the blog.

Ending the Week on a High Note

I wanted to end the week on a good note, so let me share with you two exciting things.

1.) The bruising on my back has made incredible progress. Check it.

Bruising Progress

Isn’t that a crazy difference in just 5 days (from PO Day 6 to PO Day 11)? It’s practically gone! I’ve been using arnica gel on it a few times a day, as well as been taking Arnica supplements since 1 week before surgery, which is a homeopathic drug that helps with bruising and muscle soreness. Seems like it’s working!

2.) Yesterday, I bought my first ever bikini!

Well, let’s be real. I bought three. When I say first ever, I mean it. I have always been too chubby and more so too self conscious to ever even consider wearing a two piece suit. I remember going through a tankini phase but I would always make sure to buy the ones that overlapped with the bottoms, and even then, it caused that same intense fear of it coming up when I jumped in the pool or moved the wrong way. Not that there’s anything wrong with a one piece, and I’m sure I’ll continue to wear some, but as you know I was feeling a little blue, so I decided to do something to make myself feel better. I headed to Target just to try a few on and see if the incision would be covered slash if I would feel comfortable enough to wear it, and I ended up almost freaking out in the dressing room because not only did they fit and cover the incision, but they actually looked ok!

Bikini 1:

bikini1

Bikini 2

bikini2

Bottom from Bikini 2:

bikini bottom

The scar is TOTALLY covered. (That redness just above the bikini on the left side is irritation from the steri strips that were covering the incision – not the incision itself – so that will go away.

And yes, I still have a lot of stretch marks, and yes, my body is definitely not perfect. But you know what? I am TOTALLY going to rock these bikinis anyway!

Happy Friday!

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