50 Things I Learned in the Jungle

I’m baaaack! Peru was amazing and an incredible, eye-opening trip, but I am so happy to be home! Our 16 day trip started with a flight from DC to Miami, and then a (long) flight to Lima, Peru. We spent one quick night by the airport in a hostel, flew to Cusco the next morning, and then left the following day for a 6 night, 7 day jungle tour.

Before

Me and Stacy

At the beginning, the jungle trip was a little touch and go. Keep in mind I’d never been camping before (except when I was in middle school, according to my mother) so this was quite a way to start. For the first couple of days, Stacy and I both had a hard time adjusting to life in the jungle. Being so hot all the time, having a daily regimen of Deet only, and always feeling dirty were a little hard to get used to, but I think we reached the point of acceptance around day three or four. We were in a group of 10 people and got pretty close with the whole group over the course of that week.

Group

By the end of the trip, we had totally embraced it, learned so much, and were sad to be done! I shared this list with the group on our last night during dinner (pictured above), so I wanted to share it with you all, too.

50 Things I learned in the Jungle

1. I am not as adventurous as I thought I was.

2. Waking up at 6:30 am is considered “sleeping in” in the jungle.

3. How to pee the right way outside – squat low, lean forward and choose a downhill, if possible.

4. You can in fact live without Internet, but only for one week in my world.

5. Nothing dries in the jungle, so I really should have stopped expecting it to.

6. Peace and quiet is often underrated.

Sunset

Watching the sunset over the Manu River.

7. Animals in their natural habitat are even more intriguing than I expected.

jaguar

The jaguar we saw chilling by the river.

8. Biodegradable toilet paper is a must have at all times.

9. The “lasts 10 hours” claim on deet does not apply in the jungle.

10. Compared to some people on the trip, I am not as tasty to bugs as I would have expected.

11. Cold showers can actually be refreshing.

12. How to brush my teeth with bottled water without skipping a beat.

13. Some people can live without electricity, but I am not one of those people.

photo%205

Sun kissed on the last night.

14. Going to bed before 9pm is completely acceptable in the jungle.

15. Waking up to the sounds of the jungle is the best way to do it.

16. Stacy is actually quiet when I’m not around.

17. Instant coffee can be delicious, especially with powdered milk and sugar.

18. It’s ok to eat soup when it’s really hot out, even for every meal.

19. It doesn’t take a lot for people to truly be happy.

Boat Tour

20. I will never get tired of watching monkeys.

21. Ice is often a luxury that is often taken for granted.

22. I can fall asleep anywhere when sleep deprived enough, even with my head banging repeatedly against a bus window.

23. I really should have studied more Spanish before my trip, as I’m not very good at hand charades.

24. Birds are actually pretty cool.

Binoculars

25. Mosquito nets may cause weird dreams and/or hallucinations in the night.

26. It’s possible to gain weight from being sedentary and eating three large meals, two sugary snacks, and dessert each day, even in the jungle…

27. Wearing the same thing repeatedly, even under conditions causing extreme, prolonged sweating, is perfectly acceptable, except for with your underwear.

28. Drinking a hot beverage during the peak heat during the afternoon is not a good decision for me.

29. No one appreciates cows alongside the river in the jungle.

cows

30. Always check the water jug for bugs before you fill your bottle.

31. Instead of watching out for deer, you have to watch out for cows, lambs, and pigs in the streets.

32. I’m not good at holding my tongue, even in Peru.

33. It’s very common to crave cookies and candy by 10 or 10:30am in the jungle.

34. I would become comfortable peeing in front of a group of 10 people I met just days before.

35. In certain tribes when a man loves a woman, the father gets to “try him out” first. Despite where your mind may have gone, this involves giving him an axe so he can attempt to cut down an iron tree.

36. You cannot extinguish a candle on the nightstand from inside your mosquito net.
Mosquito Net

37. My only useful survival skill is comic relief.

38. The jungle is full of natural medicine.

39. Tough and strong are two different things.

strong

40. One benefit of cold showers is that your mirror doesn’t steam up.

41. Jungle viagra, which ironically comes from a very small tree, goes into a drink which is named “69”.

42. For some reason, people from the USA are perceived as loud.

43. Despite their intention, it is possible to fall asleep with a cheek full of coca leaves.

44. The proper way to tell someone they have a booger in their nose is to say “hey, you have a bat in the cave”.

gator

45. Unfortunately, cockroaches can fly.

46. Cock of the rock is not what you think it is – its the national bird of Peru.

47. Turns out potatoes go with everything.

48. The reserve zone of the jungle is really far away from Cusco. I’m talking 12 hours in a bus, followed by many, many hours in a boat.

Mo (2)

49. Bathrooms along the river are never where you expect them to be.

50. Laughter is one thing that crosses all language barriers.

That Weight Thing

I’m currently in the Amazon Jungle, but wanted to write a post I’ve been meaning to write for a long time!

So, you may have noticed I haven’t mentioned or talked about my weight in a loooong time on here. Fortunately, that’s not because I’ve gone off the deep end and gained everything back.

My goal weight with Weight Watchers was 164, but I found that SO HARD to maintain at my height of 5’8 and I was only able to stay there for a few weeks. I met with my primary care doctor to talk to her about my weight, and she said I should try to maintain between 175-180 to be healthy for my height and with my build, so I reset my goal weight to 177 with Weight Watchers. I know that probably sounds like a lot to some people, but I am not looking to be skinny – I just want to be average and healthy, and not obese. I love food way too much to restrict myself in the way that I would have to to get down to my original goal weight or below.

I almost don’t want to put this in writing for fear of jinxing myself, but for the last several months, I haven’t been counting points and have just been eating intuitively. And you know what? I’ve actually been maintaining in the range my doctor suggested I go for. Though I’ve had to keep trying and being mindful of what I’m eating, I’ve found that my body finally isn’t fighting me anymore.

I’ve had my fair share of pizza, french fries, and chicken wings, but have been very aware of portion sizes and not overdoing it when I’m eating those heavier things. I’ve also focused on eating healthy staples most of the time – fruit, veggies, English muffins, cottage cheese, greek yogurt, eggs, and smoothies. For the first time in what feels like ever, I’ve actually been able to keep nut butter in my house and not have the jar disappear in a day or two. It’s been sort of eye opening trying and learning to trust myself with food again.

So, for a while now, I’d been thinking I should try to get back to 164 before the surgery to get as ideal of results as possible. But, I’ve been looking through a lot of forums and they say you should go into the surgery at your goal weight – and a lot of times its higher than you think it might be. They say you want to pick a weight you can maintain and go into surgery at that weight because then you will get ideal results for a weight you know you can maintain, and where you won’t have to fight against it.

I’ve decided that because of that, I want to focus on working out and getting strong going into the surgery, but NOT losing any more weight because I know where I am right now is something I can maintain for the long-haul. I feel like my body will be best contoured with ideal results at the place I am at now, and I really don’t want to spend the rest of my life trying to get my weight to an arbitrary number that clearly goes against where it wants to be.

Getting Ready for Peru

Getting ready for my very quickly approaching 17 day trip to Peru has been WAY more stressful than I expected. I’ve never in my life taken a trip like this, so didn’t know exactly what would go into it. The only other places I’ve been on vacation are to the beach, and I basically just showed up with myself, a bathing suit, and a few other things and relaxed away. This time, I booked my ticket from DCA to Lima, Peru because flights were cheap ($650 round trip) without doing TOO much research into exactly where things were in Peru or what went into preparing for the trip. Not necessarily the best way to plan a big trip like this, but it forced me to make it happen.

Before getting ready for the trip, I had to:

  • Schedule an appointment with a travel medicine clinic. Here I got a Hepatitis A vaccine as well as a yellow fever vacine, and a prescription for Cipro (an antibiotic) in case I develop typhoid symptoms (fever, diarrhea, fun).
  • Schedule an appoint with my PCP. She prescribed me malaria medication, altitude sickness medication, and some medicine for my anxiety around traveling on sketchy buses. In retrospect, I could have gone to the travel medicine clinic for all of these things, but I had to see my primary care doctor anyway, so it wasn’t a huge deal.
  • Renew my passport. It expired in January, and I took care of getting a new one in March so I had plenty of time.
  • Book a domestic flight. Flying in and out of Lima was great and cheap, but I realized that most of where we wanted to go was located much closer to Cusco, so we had to book an additional flight from Lima to Cusco, which ended up costing about $350, so airfare is around $1000 total.
  • Plan the itinerary. When looking to book tour groups, they were asking for close to $3,000 for as few as 8 days of travel. This did NOT include flights, and when I was looking at the prices, I knew that wasn’t the way I wanted to go. So, instead, we did a lot of research and booked things ourselves.

What we came up with:

  • June 21: Fly from DCA to Lima and stay overnight at a hostel near the airport
  • June 22: Fly from Lima to Cusco and stay in a hostel in the city
  • June 23 – June 29: Get picked up at our hostel, and take a 7 day, 6 night guided tour of the amazon jungle. I negotiated the price and we were able to get the trip (which includes the tour, all accommodations, and all our food) for $750 USD each.
  • June 29 – July 5: 5 nights in an apartment in downtown Cusco through airbnb.com. We were able to find a nice apartment with a kitchen, wifi, laundry, and everything we could need for $56 USD per night right in the center of the city.
  • July 1 – day trip to Machu Picchu. This cost about $250 USD per person, and includes transport to and from, entrance fees, and the tour itself.
  • July 5: Fly from Cusco back to Lima, stay overnight in a hostel in the city center, spend 2 full days in Lima
  • July 7: Fly from Lima back to DCA (just after midnight, so no need for a second night in a hostel)

It seems like a LOT of traveling when I look at it put down like this, so I am really glad we have those 5 nights at the same place in Cusco. Hopefully we will take a few days just to relax and explore.

Packing

I am bringing a large hiking backpack that I am borrowing from my sis, and plan to bring just that, so wanted to pack really light. We made sure to have laundry in our apartment in Cusco, so will be able to do it on day 8/9 of the trip – just about half way through. June is winter in Peru, and it seems like the temperatures vary a lot – from in the upper 60s during the day, to the low 30s overnight. This means one thing – dress in layers! Since I am trying to pack light, I wanted to make sure not to bring anything more than I needed, so I did a ton of research on what to bring during that time of year. I was able to bring the list down to a reasonable amount which all fits in the backpack. For the jungle tour portion, the company is giving us a duffle bag that we will fill with what we need just for the jungle (mostly hiking stuff and toiletries), and then we will leave the rest of our items at our hostel in Cusco.

backpack1

Here’s the full list:

Documents:

  • Passport
  • Yellow fever vaccine confirmation
  • Itinerary with hotel/hostel names/addresses/phone numbers + flight info
  • Peruvian Currency

Gear:

Clothes:

  • Socks
  • Bathing suit
  • 2 maxi dresses
  • 1 convertible skirt/dress
  • Black jeggings
  • 2 pairs hiking pants
  • 4 long sleeve shirts
  • 4 tanks for layering
  • 4 short sleeve shirts
  • Rain Jacket / Windbreaker
  • 10 pairs underwear
  • 2 Sports bras
  • 2 regular bras
  • Sarong
  • Pashmina
  • Scarf
  • Hiking sandals
  • Flip flops
  • Flats

Medical Kit:

  • Chapstick
  • Pepto
  • Immodium
  • Advil
  • After Bite
  • Bandaids
  • Blister Pads
  • Tissues
  • Benadryl
  • Malaria Meds
  • Altitude Sickness meds

Toiletries:

  • Toilet paper
  • Toothbrush
  • Hair tyes
  • Hair gel
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo (bringing a few hotel sized ones and will throw out as I go)
  • Conditioner (bringing a few hotel sized ones and will throw out as I go)
  • Body Wash (bringing a few hotel sized ones and will throw out as I go)
  • Face wash wipes
  • Wet Naps
  • Makeup

Miscellaneous

Not so bad for 17 days! It actually doesn’t even look like a lot when it’s all laid out.

gear1

Now, just to figure out how to get it all in the backpack…

What’s the best vacation you’ve ever taken?

What’s Going On

Life has been completely hectic lately! Some things of note:

1.) One of my best friends in the world got married last weekend.

2.) My surgery is just SIX weeks from yesterday. Holy crap.

3.) I went to visit my parents this weekend for Father’s Day, and was there for less than 24 hours because I was so stressed about packing.

4.) I leave for Peru this coming Friday – for 17 days! Packing and getting ready for this trip has been SO MUCH WORK because I’ve never in my life taken a trip like this before. I had to get both a yellow fever and hepatitis A vaccine, malaria and anti-altitude sickness medication, and also buy a ton of supplies I’ve never owned before. The trip will include a 6 night, 7 day jungle tour, a day trip to Machu Picchu, and then several days in Cusco in an apartment, and then two full days in Lima to end the trip. I am super excited, but also slightly nervous. I’ve never been camping in my life before…

5.) I turn 29 on my last day in Peru. How did that happen?

6.) When I get back from Peru on a Sunday (July 7), my pre-op appointment is that Thursday, so just a few days afterwards. Six weeks is short as it is, but with this trip thrown in there, July 29 is going to be here before I know it.

7.) This morning, I led my last Tuesday morning Weight Watchers meeting! I am so sad because I love the group so much and have been seeing many of the same faces for over a year and a half now! I have been doing a lot of thinking, and while I absolutely LOVE leading meetings, it really makes sense for me right now to step back. With my Peru trip coming up and then the surgery, I’ve decided to take some time off from leading while I focus on those other things and my day job for the few in between, and then I will (hopefully) return to leading once I am healed and feeling up for it. It’s hard to know how recovery is going to go and how much energy I’m going to have, and my health and the job that pays my rent obviously have to be my priority for the time being. Tough decision, but I think it’s the right one. For now.

8.) Besides all that, I’m pretty much a one-person shop when it comes to my day job because I’m the only person who handles everything that I do. Since it’s an educational company, we run on the academic calendar, so our year runs until June 30, which means there is a TON of stuff to wrap up before I leave for my job, all while getting ready to prepare my temporary help to handle whatever she can in my absence. Oy! I am so relieved I am going to be in the jungle for 7 days because that means I am completely unplugged and unreachable!

L+P

Last Saturday, one of my best friends in the world got married and it was so amazing to be a part of her special day. This wedding had been a LONG time coming, seeing as she met her now-husband just days into our freshman year of college, and they’ve been together pretty much ever since. It’s been pretty incredible to watch their relationship grow over the last almost 11 years, from two young kids still trying to figure it out and grow up, to two adults who stayed madly in love and have grown and figured it out together. Lianne has always been one of my closest friends since we met freshman year, but it’s been pretty awesome to grow so close with Parker too. I swear I’m not usually this sentimental, but I feel like I’ve learned a lot about what I want in relationship from watching the two of them. Enough of that!

The festivities started out Friday night with the rehearsal, and the five of us who are BFFs from college with Lianne got up and gave a little speech. I actually started (saying something similar to how I started this post…) and ended it, but it was funny having to keep the stories we shared PG since there was so much family (and grandparents) in the audience. And, as I’m sure you can imagine, stories from almost 11 years from ages 18 to 28 could lend themselves to some pretty inappropriate things, but we did a good job saying just enough.

Saturday morning, I headed over to the hotel to hang out with Lianne and the girls for a little while between hair and makeup, before heading back to my apartment to get ready for the big hoorah. The wedding was on the early side – 2:30 pm – so we got to the church by 2:15ish to make sure we got seats. The day itself started out stormy and rainy, and I was SO worried it wasn’t going to clear up. I kept hearing those famous words of Alanis Morissette (it’s like raaaaaain…) but luckily around 12:30 the rain completely cleared and it turned out to be the most amazing day.

Watching her two nephews walk down the aisle (besides making me miss my own niece and nephews!) was so darling, especially when Sammy, the younger one, hid behind Patrick after Patrick told him to smile.

photo 1 (7)

Before too long, it was Lianne’s big moment and I can’t imagine any eyes were dry when she walked into the church.

photo 2 (9)

She was breathtaking. Seriously.

The Catholic ceremony itself was really nice and powerful. I was pleasantly surprised with how much of a sense of humor their priest had because sometimes they can be a little dry, but he was very sweet and funny! Before too long, they were officially husband and wife and heading out of the church together.

leaving

And then, it was time for the real fun to begin. After a photo shoot of course.

One of the guys (ahem Andrew) tried to take a picture of the 5 girls…

photo 5 (5)

But how many do you see there? Luckily some of them could count…

the girlds

Lindsay, me, Rachel, Jess, and Leah.

And, the guys.

photo 1 (8)

Evan, Andrew (the photog mentioned above), Niket, Matt, and Bryon.

A close up of me and Matt.

photo 4 (6)

And then, we headed back to the hotel for the reception. It seriously turned out to be the most amazing day outside, and the cocktail hour was outdoors in a gorgeous courtyard, which unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of. The cocktail hour was over before we knew it, and then we got to head inside and watch Lianne and Parker’s first dance as husband and wife!

photo 4 (7)

It was so cute to watch them talking and laughing the whole time they danced… I was so curious what their conversations were about.

photo 5 (6)

But, I guess that’s between husband and wife.

Take Four

Somehow, it is already June. And 2013. But we won’t go there. How did that happen!? The third round of Beth’s Journey DietBet ended yesterday, and people have been asking me to host another round, so here we go!

Beth’s Journey DietBet: Take 4 will start on Wednesday, June 5, and run for 4 weeks. It’s a $25 buy in, and everyone who hits the goal of losing 4% of their starting weight in the 4 weeks during the challenge will split the pot. This post explains how it works in a little more detail, but that’s the gist. Everyone who hit the 4% goal during the first game I hosted got $43.25, and $49.33 for getting to the goal in the second round. Results are still being calculated for the game that ended yesterday, but it seems like you definitely get your money back (and then some!) if you hit the 4% goal. Personally, I hit the goal in round 1, didn’t make it in round 2, but it’s looking good again for round 3!

It’s kind of crazy to look back at the stats from the first two games I hosted, and this doesn’t include the one that just ended yesterday!

DietBet Stats

Add to that 217 players, $5,425 in bets, and 1,063 pounds lost (so far) from the game ending yesterday, and we’re looking at 872 players, $22,050 in bets and over 5,055 pounds lost! Isn’t that insane!?!

Looking forward to seeing some of you over at Beth’s Journey DietBet: Take 4!

Who’s with me!?

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?

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