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Surgery day

The week leading up to surgery was quite stressful. I wanted to get my work done at work so my co-workers wouldn’t be bombarded with work. But I was so anxious, it was really difficult to stay focused and concentrate. So a lot of things going through my mind. I really couldn’t shut it off.

The night before surgery, I couldn’t sleep. I wasn’t really nervous about the procedure, just really anxious. I had a lot of friends praying for me, and I could feel them helping to calm my mind. I knew that my life would be changed forever after surgery. But I was ready for the change.

We get to Methodist Hospital Thursday morning. Let me tell you, they work like a well oiled machine. they were all so kind and supportive and professional. They really kept my mind at ease, I wasn’t scared or worried.

The surgery went well. I had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy. this is where they remove part of your stomach, and so my stomach is shaped like a tube, like a small banana. The also found a hiatal hernia that needed repaired also. I’ve got 6 small incisions in my abdomen. I went home from the hospital Friday afternoon. Glad to be home!

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Starting over in 2014

It’s been over a year since I’ve blogged. My life has changed, and it will continually change more this year. I was on such a good path to health to achieve a healthy weight. However, it seemed that I was stuck in a pattern of losing and gaining the same 5#. for months. I’ll have to admit, I was more committed to the exercise than I was the food. Food has always been my downfall. I am an emotional eater. It took me a very long time to admit that I was an emotional eater. I have done a lot of work over the last couple of years to try and figure out how I work, what makes me tick, and why I struggle so with weight loss. I haven’t found the answers yet! 

Back in April of 2013, I had an accident at the gym, and hurt my back. So I was out of commission for a while. It was only a few weeks, but it was enough that I was totally derailed from the healthy lifestyle I had adopted. I just let my fear and low self esteem take over. I never went back to the gym, and I began to eat anything and everything that I wanted. It’s amazing to me how quickly I can gain weight, but how slowly it comes off. I just quit, I gave up. I just didn’t care anymore. But where has that gotten me? Nowhere! I feel miserable physically and mentally. I’ve gained back all I lost, plus some. I’ve gained at least 80# since April. I’m not going to lie, I enjoyed the foods that I was eating, but the end result is horrible. 

So I’m back at it here and now in 2014. I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life. Even when I would lose some I’d gain it back plus more. So I made a decision to have surgery to help me beat this weight battle for good. 

I went to an informational meeting at Unity Point Weight Loss Clinic. It was about a 2 hour meeting where the Physicians spoke about the ins and outs of obesity, diets, and surgery. At this point, I began heavily thinking about surgery. I went through the motions to get prepared and approved for surgery. I finally decided to move forward and my surgery was on January 16, 2014.

I thought I would get back to blogging now to share my experience with this surgery and weight loss. So keep reading! 

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Defeated…I think not!

Defeated…I think not!.


Defeated…I think not!

If you would have talked to me last week, there would have been a different answer. Last Saturday I was totally defeated and ready to hang up my running shoes. I had an 8 mile run on the schedule. I knew I hadn’t been completely on track the last few weeks, but I knew that I needed to get back on track to be ready for the half in a few weeks. So I went out on the trail for my scheduled run. The first few miles were good. I stretched often. As I got closer to the 4 mile mark, I was having more trouble getting my IT band stretched out. But I was 4 miles out, and I needed to turn around to come back. I kept alternating my run/walk and kept stretching, but it didn’t matter. I was in excruciating pain along my left knee. I finally got to the point that I couldn’t run anymore, and I was just hobbling along the path as other runners and bikers passed me by.

It took so much to not just bust out crying. I kept going, because I had to. At one point, a couple on a tandem bike went by me. I thought about stopping them to see if they could give me a ride back to my car. But my pride wouldn’t allow that.  I finally made it back to my car, it took me about 45 mins or so. The whole time walking back, I was defeated. I had decided that distance running was just not for me. I was just not cut out for it. I was no longer going to train for the half, and just stick with the 5k. I had quit in my mind.

I have been so stressed out lately with various things going on, and with not getting my workouts in, I was just an emotional wreck. I went out and visited with my mom and as soon as I saw her, I burst into tears. I just let it ALL out! I’m sure I totally freaked her out, but she just held me and let me cry, and told me it would be ok. THANKS MOM!!! Amazingly, after my cry and visit with my mom, I felt better. I was still limping around, but emotionally was better.

I also emailed my trainer and told her my revelation that I was not a distance runner, and I was going to quit. She told me to not be defeated, but to look at how many miles I had done over the last 3 weeks. Well, doing that, I realized that I was no where near ready to run 8 miles. I had been lax with my running the last 3 weeks, and my body just wasn’t ready for it yet. Not that I couldn’t do it, but I just wasn’t ready yet. So the plan was to back my training up by a few weeks, and let myself get back on track. So I had to change my mindset as well to believe that I could do it. I revised my running schedule and got it on the calendar.

So I’ve been doing that this week, running just 2-4 miles. I’m also adding a day of running, so doing 4 days a week now instead of just 3. I don’t know how much of the half I’ll be able to run. My goal was to run the whole thing, but I’ve just decided that I will do what I can. I will work hard over the next 6 weeks to get my training in and be in the best shape possible by 10/21/12. There is no room or time for slacking here! I am not going to let anything defeat me again! I am strong, I am capable, I am motivated. I can do it!

Have you ever had a situation like this where you have been ready to quit? What did you do? How did you come out of it?

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Let’s Get Motivated!

Here’s some motivation for you!

Losing Weight to Find Myself









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Week 14 wrap up

My total weight loss since 04/02/12 is 15#. I could be disappointed by this number, but I am not. I feel that this is a solid 15# lost, not just water and trickery. I am happy with my progress and continue to keep pushing. I’ve had 2 weeks of PTO, so completely off routine. I was in Denver for 7 days, home for several days, and then in Cedar Falls/Waterloo area for 3 days. I was a little nervous going into my weigh in today, not really knowing what to expect, but confident in the good choices I have been making. I lost 3.2# from my last weigh in 2 weeks ago, so I am thrilled with that.

My trip to Denver was for a mission trip with my church. It was an amazing experience. We worked through Denver Urban Ministries and had different activities every day to choose from. We spent a great deal of time learning about the homeless population, what they go through, what life is like for them and what services are available to them. Here we encountered folks with real problems, real stories, real troubles. It really made me evaluate myself, my life, my problems, etc. Where I struggle with what healthy options do I have for meals, some are struggling with if they are going to get a meal at all. One night we served a meal to the homeless youth in Denver and there were several who hadn’t eaten for days. What a blessing it is that I don’t have to worry about where my next meal is coming from. It should be easy to be grateful for what I have and not take it for granted and make good healthy choices because I can. Some don’t have the option to make a healthy choice because sometimes what you need to buy to stretch the money to feed your family isn’t the healthiest and your places for shopping may be limited.

Another amazing day was when we visited KADEP. It is a day facility for adults with MS and traumatic brain injuries. We were fortunate enough to be able to spend an entire day there participating in activities with them. Most of them are in wheelchairs or walkers, and their minds are completely there. They loved telling jokes!  In the morning, we played tennis and volleyball. This was my first time ever playing tennis! I just really tried not to hit anyone in the back of the head. It was amazing to see their determination, strength and skill. They inspire me to continue to be active, because I can.

Then in the afternoon we visited with clients while they took turns on a power plate machine. It is a machine that sends powerful vibrations through your body that contracts your muscles 160 times in 45 seconds. It helps get the blood flowing and the muscles working. One of the exercises was a push-up. They let us try out the machine too. So 2 ladies went first, knelt down on their knees and pressed their hands onto the machine in a modified push-up form. Next was myself and a 17 yr old boy. I knelt down like the others, then the trainer said to the boy that he could do regular push-ups. So I thought, so can I! So I got in regular push-up position too! So the machine starts to vibrate and off we go, push-ups, 1 to 1. I kept up with him the whole time, or should I say, he kept up with me! Anyway, it was a great feeling to know that I was strong enough to keep up with a fit 17 yr old boy. And I didn’t gloat too much! Now my arms were tired when done as the vibrations from the machine really work. But it was AWESOME! So the lesson here again is to continue to be active, because I can.

I really embraced this experience and learned what I could from it. I am truly grateful for my freedom, my right to believe in the God of my choosing, I have a place where I call home every night, family all around me, and food to nourish my body. What else is there that I truly need? My needs are met, and for that, I am truly humbled and grateful.

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I was really excited to go into my weigh-in today. I had been feeling really good all week. My scale at home showed a 2# loss, so I was ready. I go and step on the scale at work, and it shows a dismal .5# loss. Yes, that’s right, and HALF A POUND loss, which basically is nothing.

I was really disappointed in myself. I have been watching my food intake and writing it down, but haven’t been tracking it online and counting the calories. When I told my trainer that I was just writing my food down, but not tracking it, she asked how many calories I was eating a day? I didn’t know. Point taken. So just disappointed in myself that I continue to slack like this, and allow these behaviors to sabotage my success.

So I sulked a little bit today. So I decided I was going to have a pop. I went to the cafe and got a 16oz pop. Couldn’t find just a can! But then was tempted by all the other sweets and treats like candy, fresh popped popcorn, trail mix, etc. But I opted for a Nature Valley Granola bar that was only 90 calories. So this counted as my pm snack. I felt good about the small victory of making a good choice when I really didn’t want to.

I decided that I needed to quit sulking and FORGIVE myself. As I found out the other day, it is powerful! So I did more visualization and labeled my disappointment and .5# loss in a bin, and put it away in the closet. Oops….I think I forgot to shut the door.  Ok..door shut…and locked. Moving on now.

So now I have tracked my food for the day, and I am done. I’m at my calorie max. I’ve had supper and feel satisfied. Now I’m going to get my food ready for tomorrow and get ready for bed.

I need to take all these lessons in stride. I cannot expect myself to be perfect. I cannot play games with myself. I cannot ‘cheat’ at the game and expect to win and be successful. Recognize, own, forgive. accept,  learn, move forward. That is what I need to keep doing on a daily basis.

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My New Blog site!

I’ve moved my blog! Check it out at under gretchensjourney.



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What week is it?

I haven’t really thought lately about where I am at on the time scale with my Healthy Weight small group challenge. I started 04/02/12, so I am just finishing week 11. I feel like the time is passing so fast. I’ll have my weekly weigh in tomorrow, so I’ll post update then. Here is an update on other things.

I have muscles in places that I never really had before. I feel strong all over. My legs look completely different. I have muscle definition that I have never had before.

When I eat healthy food, I don’t feel sick, bloated or heavy. I feel energized, trim and fueled.

I AM a runner! I love running. It is a great workout.

I really love working out too! I love strength training. I love lifting weights, feeling my muscles work, and seeing them get toned.

Most importantly, my mind in changing. Slowly but surely. In reposting my blogs, I read through them. It is fun to see where I have come from in just a few short weeks. I am moving forward, but have also taken steps back. But I really feel this is part of my learning process and my journey.

I had another breakthrough yesterday. I am reading Dr. Phil’s book right now. I recommend this to ANYONE who has ever struggled with emotional eating.

This book is walking you through the process of figuring out why it is that you eat, what emotions are attached to your eating, exercises to help figure this out, and actions to change your behaviors. It is one of the best books I’ve read. I read it about half way through, did some of the exercises, but then stopped and went back to the beginning and did it 100%. It is powerful and real.

I had some real breakthroughs yesterday to try to come to terms with why I eat. There’s the fear of attention and not knowing how to handle that, the fear of losing my identity, the fear of not fitting in with my family and friends, low self-esteem and self-worth and feeling like I’m not worthy of happiness. But the most important thing I did yesterday was to FORGIVE myself. This was HUGE! I have made mistakes in my life, made bad choices, done bad things. I have asked God to forgive me, but have never forgiven myself. I have felt that I have done these bad things, so I don’t deserve to be happy, I don’t deserve to achieve success. I’m not worthy of it. I must be punished for my sins. But what I realized yesterday is that Jesus died for my sins so that I can be forgiven. God has forgiven me, so who I am to not do the same? So I really had some introspection and truly offered myself forgiveness.

The next step of all of this is to put it away, CLOSURE. Close the door on it and don’t allow myself to go back to the closet and did any of these past mistakes up again. So I did a little visualization and this helped. I put all my sins in separate boxes, then put them on a shelf in the closet. I turned the light off and SLAMMED the door shut and locked it. GOODBYE!

Then I walked down the hall, a long ways away, and opened another door. This door had similar shelves with boxes, but this closet was bright and cheery and the boxes were labeled with all the good things in my life. All the things that are important to me, my dreams and my goals. I like this closet! No skeletons in here. As I was going through this process, I could feel the internal change. I could feel my heart changing. This is how I know it was real.

I also sat and discussed some of this with my husband. He can relate to some of what I think on a different level. He tries. Even though he doesn’t 100% get it, it is good to share with him so he understands where I am coming from. I feel as though some of the weight of baggage I have been carrying around has been lifted.

All of this is the most important part of my journey to health. Without taking the time to take the emotional inventory, any weight loss I have will not be permanent. I am 100% committed and determined to achieve success and reach the goals I have laid out for myself. Going through this process will help me get there 1 day at a time.

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Dam to Dam 5K finished….CHECK!

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Today was the Annual Dam to Dam road race. The big one is the 20K, but I am not ready for that! So I have been training for the 5K. I had gotten a little side tracked with my training, I was having trouble pushing through the mental block of it all. I finally did that like a week or so ago. So prior to today, I hadn’t run more than 10 minutes at a time.
As you can probably imagine, I was super nervous. I knew I really shouldn’t be running this week to save my legs for today, so that really threw me. I didn’t know what to do. So I just didn’t do anything. I was just a little off all week. Then yesterday I had a bad headache and neck strain all day. I didn’t sleep well and was up early. So not a great start for the morning of a run.
But I got up and fueled appropriately and was ready to go. We underestimated the time we needed to leave to get downtown, so by the time we parked, I only had about 15 min to get to the starting line. So that made me even more nervous and my anxiety kicked in. I needed to use the restroom, but couldn’t find one and didn’t have time. So I’m starting this thing feeling like everything is against me.
I’m standing amongst all these people trying to calm my nerves and get stretched out. I’m looking around at all the different sizes, shapes and ages of people. Even though there are so many different people, I just don’t feel like I fit in. These people are all obviously athletes, what am I doing here? Then all of a sudden the huge mass of people start to move. It felt like we were cattle being herded to the slaughter. I couldn’t quite run yet. As soon as we got to the start line, we could run. So off I went. There were so many people. I’m weaving in and out, around walkers. I’m feeling really good! No pain, not breathing heavy, just a good run. I’m passing people, keeping a good pace. The sun’s in my face, beautiful weather. It was glorious!
As we get closer to the capital, we take a right and work our way around, and it starts to incline. I have sweat dripping down my face. My pace is slowing up. Lots of people are starting to walk. I just keep telling myself to keep going, I was afraid if I started walking, I wouldn’t be able to get started again. So I just kept trucking along. At the top of the hill was a water station. So I did walk to get some water, but then started running again. The water did not sit well with me and it upset my stomach a little. Won’t do that again.
But now we’re going down hill! I think this is a little more than half way at this point. My left knee is starting to hurt. But otherwise I feel good. I just keep saying that I want to say that I ran the whole thing. Not that I had to stop and walk. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but my goal was to run the whole thing. So I just kept running. I watched Forrest Gump last night, so I think that gave me a little extra motivation!
Now I’m starting to count down the blocks to go. Only 8 blocks left, keep going. Only 4 blocks left, keep going. Then the crowds of cheering spectators was getting louder. I saw my husband cheering me on. Got a few high fives. I could see the finish. Now I have a little extra pep in my step and my stride is getting a little longer and I’m going a little faster! Excited to get thru the finish.
Finally…I made it. The time on the clock was 37.45. I’ll get my official time tonight on the website.
Overall, IT WAS AWESOME! I really didn’t think I could do it. But I just kept pushing myself and telling myself that I could do it. Now I know I CAN do ANYTHING if I put my mind to it. I may not have grown up an athlete, but who cares! I AM an athlete, I AM a RUNNER! Official time: 35:29. Pace 11:25.
Thanks to all of you for your continuous support!
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