What I’m Obsessed With – Jan-March 2017 Edition

  1. Ceramic Cat Mug

CatMug

When you have to drink 3,000 protein shakes a day (and by 3,000, I mean two), you have to find something to drink out of that’s going to keep you motivated.  I adore this little Siamese cat with his bow tie.  Every morning, I fill it with half coffee, half protein shake and I’m good to go.  I got it from Homegoods a few weeks ago and tried searching online to see if I could find it at a different store with no luck.

2.  Box of Dice

Dice

It’s a leather box of dice.  That looks like a die.  And has absolutely no function but to make me happy.  I also got this from Homegoods and I couldn’t pass it up.  I want to have something insightful and funny to say about this purchase, but I’ve got nothing, so I’ll just stare longingly at the picture.

3.  Paint Nite

PaintNite5

Paint Nite has been trending for a while now.  If you don’t know what Paint Nite is, it’s basically a night out with where you drink (or not) and paint pictures.  Family, coworkers..whoever you feel like spending a few hours with.  I’ve been to a few, but this latest picture was one of my favorites to paint.  And the group of friends/coworkers I was with was the icing on the cake.  If you haven’t done it, I highly suggest you find a spot and go.  I have no drawing ability whatsoever, but I loved every second of it.

4.  Joebot on Etsy

il_570xN.1135110501_jm03

I stumbled onto Joebot accidentally and immediately texted my friend a link to his Etsy shop.  His versions of the Little Golden Books are so imaginative and completely adorable.  I’ve purchased several prints that are hanging in my hallway upstairs and even bought his art book.

5.  Feud: Bette and Joan

feud-bette-and-joan-trailer1

Ever since I saw the commercial for this show, I couldn’t wait to check it out.  I’m a huge fan of the movie Mommie Dearest, but never really knew anything about Joan Crawford.  The show is only two episodes in, but I’m addicted!  I watch each episode over and over trying to get every little scrap of entertainment out of it.  I think what’s interesting about the show is that yes, even though Joan and Bette can’t stand each other, there’s this sense of solidarity as they deal with the struggles of being an aging actress in Hollywood.

 

Sleeve Talk Saturday: 5 Things You Should Know Before Choosing A Surgeon

Welcome to the first ever Sleeve Talk Saturday.  While I was planning out posts for the blog, I realized that I wanted to break out my experiences step by step and provide tips and resources to get you through the process.  Whether you’re just considering surgery (or know someone who is) or you’re further along in the process.

STORIES

So you’ve decided to have bariatric surgery?  Whether it be gastric band, gastric sleeve, or gastric bypass, kudos to you for being brave.  Seriously.  The decision to have surgery is not an easy one, but it’s the crucial first step in your new journey.

When I made the decision to have gastric sleeve surgery, I really didn’t have any resources to go to for information and I ended up kinda winging the whole process.  I didn’t know about all of the extras that needed to happen and that I needed to consider before I could even get close to a surgery date.

I’m here to shed light on a few things I wish I’d known after making my decision, but before I thought about who my surgeon would be.

Insurance or not?

For me, this was the number one decider on whether or not I would say yes to having surgery.  I wasn’t sure if my insurance plan would cover it or not and that’s something you’ll definitely need to look into with your own insurance provider.  Some have very strict approval guidelines before they’ll even consider covering your procedure, so you need to dot your i’s and cross your t’s.  I looked on my insurance provider’s website, looked at what my plan covered, and even called customer service to confirm.  Just be aware that even after going through all of that, your claim may still be denied.

Cost

Along with insurance, cost was neck and neck for the number one spot.  Even if the majority of your procedure is covered by insurance, there are other costs that come into play that I never realized.  Depending on which doctor you choose, there will be a battery of tests that you’ll need to go through, both on the doctor’s checklist and the insurance company’s checklist if you are going through insurance.  This includes any co-pays, lab fees, gas to and from each visit, and any additional fees not covered by insurance.  See the list below for the majority of tests I had to go through during the approval process.

  • 3 month doctor supervised diet program – this included three mandatory webinars and a couple of in person visits with the nutritionist.
  • Psychological Evaluation – as I found through this process, most psych evaluations aren’t covered by insurance and those fees will have to come out of pocket.  I called around to several different psychiatrists (those that took my insurance and those that didn’t) and the price points were between $200 and $600 dollars depending on how extensive the evaluation needed to be.
  • Abdominal Ultrasound
  • Blood Work/Stool Sample/Urinalysis – it’s a lot of blood work.  A lot.  And it has to be done a couple of times.  The first time I went, I believe she took about 15 vials of blood.  Then I had to go again a week before surgery for follow up blood work.  The urinalysis is self explanatory.  And the stool sample…well, it is what it is.
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Chest X-ray
  • Sleep Study – if you suffer from sleep apnea and already have a cpap machine, you may be able to skip this per your doctor’s instructions, but you’ll more than likely need to bring your cpap with you on your surgery day.  I have mild sleep apnea, so I was able to rent a machine from the sleep care center for a few months to get me acclimated before surgery and to hold me over after surgery before I needed to make a more permanent decision.
  • EGD (Esophagogastroduodenoscopy)

Time

Now that you have the list of procedures that need to be done, you’ll need to find time to do them.  I had a three month deadline to get all of my tests done per my insurance requirement, so I had to hustle to get everything done.  That meant time off from work, either from taking the day off to get a handful of tests done at one time, taking a long lunch break, or coming in late/leaving early so I could make my appointments.  If you work in an office or industry where that’s feasible, I highly recommend talking about it to your manager.  I lucked out having one of the best bosses in the world and explained my situation to her upfront.  I didn’t tell her what I was having surgery for, but I did let her know my appointment schedule right off the bat and kept her updated as things changed.  That was a major help in keeping my sanity!

Support System

I’m going to be perfectly honest and say that I didn’t really have a support system during the beginning stages of the process.  Mainly because I only told probably three people.  For me, this was something that I personally needed to go through on my own.  I also didn’t want to jinx anything by telling too many of my friends and family.  If you’re not like me and you need to tell it to the world, make sure they’re people that will be honest with you, but still have your back in the long run.  There’s nothing wrong with your friends playing devil’s advocate so you look at the process from all angles, but it’s not okay for them to not be supportive of a choice that could save your life.  If you don’t have anyone you can go to, but need someone to talk to, I’m here for you as well!  I’ll try to answer questions as best as I can!

Downtime

This is mainly for after your surgery, but I wanted to include it in here as well because it is something important to consider.  For me, I took about two weeks off from work and had the luxury of being able to work remotely a few days from home, but if that’s not an option, you’ll need to figure out what’s best for your situation so that you can get the rest you need.  You’ll be spending at least a night in the hospital, if not two, and then you’ll want to let not just your body, but your mind recover and get used to your new stomach and your new way of life.  This also gives you a chance to start a routine that will help you succeed as you get back into the real world.

Now that you know what lies ahead, I believe that you’ll be able to move forward, confident in your choices. This journey is one of the toughest you’ll ever go through, but remain focused.  You can do it.  Stay brave!!

 

(featured photo credit: Daniel Frank Photography)

My Breakup With Food

I’m breaking up with food, everyone.  I can’t do it anymore.  The seductive call of a slice of pizza (or two, or three), the temptation of the plate of cookies at work, the need to snack while watching t.v. or reading.  It’s way past time for this relationship to be over.

But seriously, after my gastric sleeve surgery, my relationship with food has drastically changed.  If I’m being perfectly honest, there’s no enjoyment in eating anymore.  On one hand, that’s a good thing.  That was the point of the surgery; to break my addiction to food.  Like I tell myself anytime temptation rears its ugly head, I’ve had enough cake, soda, and deep fried everything to last me a lifetime.  There’s absolutely no need to continue eating the way I was eating.  This whole process has forced me to look at food completely differently.  As fuel and not comfort.  As a necessity and not a luxury.

Going out to eat was and is especially difficult.  The first time a friend asked me out to breakfast after my surgery, my immediate response was no.  I couldn’t imagine sitting at the table, opening a menu of food I couldn’t eat, and enjoying myself.  Add on to that the fact that I’d be done with my meal after two bites.  In the end it turned out okay, but I’m still wary of going to restaurants and eating out in general.  It’s only been 3 months since my surgery, so I know it’ll get easier as the months go by.

The hardest part about this breakup?  I can’t bake anymore, which was something I enjoyed immensely.  My little side cupcake business is on hiatus until I can figure out what to do and how to move forward.  The things that I used to enjoy, coming home and making a meal, baking cupcakes for coworkers, and just sitting down to a meal in general have all gone away.

I  don’t want this to be a sad post though..because it’s not.  After every breakup, there’s the denial, maybe some backslide, but you realize that everything happens for a reason and that you’re better off without the person, so I’m going to go into the future knowing that this is the best thing for me.  That my reasons for going through this whole process outweigh the momentary contentment of a plate of pasta.  But damn pasta, why do you have to look so good??

 

(header photo credit: Brooke Lark)

 

 

 

My Bucket List

I’ve had this bucket list for a while and I seem to bring it from blog to blog.  I thought this blog shouldn’t be any different.  I’ve definitely added to it and I high suggest taking a look at Bucket List Journey because she has some great ideas (I definitely stole a few).

  1. Ride in a hot air balloon
  2. Walk across hot coals
  3. Visit the Grand Canyon (completed in/around 1996)
  4. Visit the Amazon Rainforest
  5. Travel to Italy/Visit The Vatican
  6. Visit The Louvre
  7. Attend the National Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C. – 2013cherry-blossom
  8. Go to Disney World (went several times during childhood and most recently in 2005)
  9. Become fluent in Spanish
  10. Become fluent in French
  11. Go camping (completed in/around 2001)
  12. Get tattooed in the Tebori method
  13. Learn the Argentine Tango
  14. Learn the Paso Doble
  15. Win something (won an iPod at work in 2009 and a t.v. at work in 2012)
  16. Learn to shoot a gun
  17. Learn to change a tire
  18. Have something dedicated to me (my mom dedicated her book to me in 2013)
  19. Go fishing
  20. Attend the Kentucky Derby
  21. Ride on a motorcycle
  22. Get acupuncture – 2015
  23. Buy an expensive piece of art
  24. Travel to Ireland
  25. Go to a Drive-In – 2014 w/ friends, JaNyka and Brandon
  26. Sing on a stage
  27. Attend Past Life Regression Therapy
  28. Learn sign language
  29. Get a tattoo (up to 11 now)
  30. Travel outside the U.S. (been to Mexico – Cancun & Cabo; as well as London)cancun
  31. Cruise the Caribbean
  32. Drive the Autobahn
  33. Visit Australia
  34. Fly a kite
  35. Fly in a helicopter
  36. Fly in an airplane
  37. Milk a cow
  38. Name a star
  39. Ride a horse
  40. Ride a vespa in Rome
  41. Ride in a gondola in Venice
  42. Rub the belly of a large Buddha
  43. See Stonehenge
  44. See the aurora borealis
  45. See the David statue
  46. See the Eiffel Tower
  47. See The Last Supper
  48. See the Mona Lisa
  49. See the Sistine Chapel ceiling
  50. Sleep in an igloo
  51. Swim in the pacific ocean
  52. Pray with a Buddhist Monk
  53. Visit Rome and throw a coin in the Trevi fountain
  54. Visit the Pyramids
  55. Watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace – 2013
  56. Hold a monkey
  57. Touch a tiger
  58. See a whale
  59. Touch a lion
  60. Publish a Coffee Table Book of photos I’ve taken
  61. Publish a piece in a magazine
  62. Publish a poem
  63. Read all of Shakespeare’s plays
  64. Read the bible from cover to cover
  65. Read the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aenaeid
  66. Write and publish a children’s book
  67. Write and publish a novel
  68. Attend a movie premiere
  69. Attend a world class dance performance in NYC
  70. Attend the opera all dressed up
  71. See the Rocky Horror Picture Show live at midnight
  72. See Wicked
  73. Tour NYC and see a Broadway play (completed in 2011; saw Phantom)
  74. Hear my song on the radio
  75. Meet someone famous
  76. Meet a US President in person
  77. Live somewhere in Europe for at least a year
  78. Travel to England – 2013  harrods
  79. Take a drawing/painting class
  80. Carve a pumpkin (completed October 2010)
  81. Learn to hula hoop
  82. Compete in the Warrior Dash/Color Run/Tough Mudder
  83. Marry the love of my life
  84. Hug a redwood tree
  85. Watch the sunrise and sunset in one day
  86. Attend NYC Comic Con
  87. Attend San Diego Comic Con
  88. Throw a themed party
  89. Have my palm read
  90. Drink absinthe
  91. Eat alone at a restaurant
  92. Do the Polar Bear plunge
  93. Be a tourist in my own town
  94. Get ordained
  95. Help someone with a check on their bucket list
  96. Take a psychedelic drug
  97. Start a charity
  98. Drive a race car
  99. Sleep in a treehouse
  100. Go on a solo vacation

 

 

 

(header photo credit:  Angelina Litvin)

Get Used To Eating Cold Food

That’s what they don’t tell you.  And by “they” I mean the secret society that’s supposed to come out of the woodwork and keep me informed when I’m making major life decisions.

The whole time I was going through the gastric sleeve process, the doctors and the nutritionists drilled it into my head that I have to take 20 minutes to eat my food so that I become overly aware of how much I’m consuming as well as giving my body enough time to tell me when it’s full.  What they neglected to tell me is that in those 20 minutes, each bite I take will get colder and colder.  Especially when I had the bright idea to have surgery during the height of winter.

So I’m telling you now!  You will eat slowly.  And your food will get cold.

I’m sure it won’t be too bad in the spring and summer when I can throw together a quick smoothie or salad, but during the winter it’s definitely been rough.  Especially when you’re sitting down to a screaming, piping hot bowl of soup only to sip a spoonful of tepid broth.  Not fun!  And extremely discouraging.

The solution?  I highly suggest getting a warming plate.  My mom bought me two (one for work and one for home) and I have to say that I didn’t know if I’d use them, but I really do.  Also, it doesn’t heat up the food, but does maintain the temperature of my already hot food.

This ends my public service announcement.  Seriously though, cold food sucks!

 

 

 

(header photo credit:  Jorge Gonzalez)

My Goals for 2017

There are days when I have to remind myself that I’m an adult and can make adult decisions on a daily basis.  I often forget that I’m no longer a struggling 20 year old and I don’t have to eat ramen for dinner or ask my mom for advice on everything (I still do this.  The advice, not the ramen).  So for the first time ever I’m going to make some goals for myself and make every effort to stick to them.  I figure if I write them down, it’ll help me be more conscious.

  1.  Pray more!  I pray all the time.  In the car, at work, while I’m sitting at home, but it’s almost as an afterthought.  I have a great relationship with God, but I have trouble letting go and letting him lead.  This goal should really be to worry less, but in doing that I need to put my trust and faith in God, so I think praying more is appropriate.
  2. Lose 70lbs.  Even though my surgery will help greatly with this, it’s just a tool and I still have to be extremely aware of what I’m putting in my body and what I’m asking it to do.  I want 2017 to be my healthiest year yet.
  3. Blog consistently.  I know this will be one of the hardest goals for me, but I’m determined to make it happen.  Sometimes I get too caught up in other things or in self doubt.  Thinking that I don’t have anything to say or whatever I write will be uninteresting.  And it may be complete garbage, but the only way to get better is to keep writing and keep putting out content.
  4. Get back into the dating world.  Ugh!  Can I be honest and say that I’m not looking forward to this?  Having to sit through bad dates where I don’t like the guy or he doesn’t like me.  Having to get through polite conversation only to discover that you’ll never talk to the person again.  On the other hand though, I want the newness of discovering someone that could really change your world.  I’ve been single for a long time now and this is the scariest goal for me because I will seriously have to get out of my comfort zone, but that’s the point, right??

I was going to try for a few more goals, but I think I’ll stick with four for now and revisit and revise if/when I need to.  And March is right around the corner, so I better get started!!

 

 

(header photo credit: Brigitte Tohm)