Sunday, April 20, 2008

Motivation To Get Fit

"Get Motivated, Get Active, Get Fit!"

That was the title of my daily meditation e-mail this morning. Talk about right on time, as I had been planning this post for today.

As I shared in my last post, my motivation for getting fit wasn't simply so I could fit into a smaller dress size. Hypertension, borderline diabetes, sleep apnea, and asthma necessitated that I drop a massive amount of weight. I had tried everything - any and every popular and fad diet known to man. I exercised - making sure to do the things that I actually enjoyed. However, I never succeeded in losing and keeping off the kind of weight that I desperately needed to lose.

When my supervisor casually asked me if I had ever considered gastric bypass surgery, I almost blurted out "Hell no!" She and another co-worker had both undergone the procedure and lost well over 100lbs each. However impressive that was, I was not subjecting myself to what I thought would be a lifetime of one tablespoon of food.

The months went on and my joints ached more. I continued to eat uncontrollably and pack on more weight. I don't quite remember the final straw and what led me to start doing my own research. However, after an emotional and arduous journey, on July 8, 2005, I climbed on that operating table and risked my life to save my life.

Here I sit, well over 140lbs and seven dress lighter, and it still remains the best decision I will probably ever make in my entire life.

I won't tell you that my experience has been a walk in the park and gastric bypass is not for everybody. I know some people who were not successful at it and regained a lot of the weight or had a lot of medical problems afterwards and wish they had never done it. A lot of people have died. It was the best decision for me. I was blessed to be swimming laps across an Olympic size pool one week after surgery. Nothing but God could have made that happen. He has things he wants me to do and the weight was holding me back. It had to go and that's how I had to make it happen.

Over the past 2 1/2 years, I've often wrestled with whether I should ever tell anyone who didn't know me before. I've gotten quite adept at explaining to people why I only eat a quarter of my meal. Anyone that didn't know me would never be able to tell by looking at me.

I'm shaped like my mother, who has never been bigger than a size 14. At 61, she's a size 10/12. This is the way I'm supposed to look.

Although I am a virtual success story, I am far from perfect. I can eat pretty much anything I want - and I do - sometimes more than I should. This surgery does not automatically erase the issues that caused you to become morbidly obese. If anything, it exacerbates them! I can no longer turn to binge eating to deal with my emotions - not without dire consequences. I have been in therapy off and on (now on) and I plan to start attending an eating disorder support group in the next few weeks. Frankly, I would rather die before I let myself get back to that "before" picture. What happens from here on out is entirely up to me.

This is my motivation to get fit. Share yours in the comments.

Looking for Good Healthy Recipes?

I found a few sites that can help:

1. Prevention's Recipe Website


3. - Healthy Recipes Center

You know I should start a food blog. Folk always telling you to eat healthy but most of the time finding good healthy stuff to eat can be a pain in the rear. Sometimes you just want someone to hand you a wekly menu and say, "Here, eat this and you'll lose weight." Just that simple. What I woldn't give to have a

If anyone has great healthy recipes they'd like to share, send them in.

Friday, April 18, 2008

New Gig

Hi Ya'll.

Sorry it's been so long since my last post. A combination of a sick baby (she had pneumonia) and work on the writing that pays the bills, hasn't left me a lot of time for blogging.

Anywho I'm writing to tell ya'll about a new project I'm working on and to get your help. I'm working for Prevention magazine. They were looking for a few bloggers to help them promote and get feedback on their two new blogs and I was one of the ones they hired. Here are the two blogs:

Prevention - What's all the buzz?

The first is a regular blog. It features standard health and fitness advice. The second features recipes (I think I'll be linking to this one a lot). What they want is feedback on the site: What do you think? How's the layout? What articles would you like to see? Is it something you'd read regularly? You get the idea.

I know you guys are never lacking in opinion, so hit up the comments and let me know what you think. I'll let the know the Prevention folk know what ya'll had to say. Oh, and I should have a blog of my own on their website soon. I'll send you a link when its up and running. Thanks.

Losing weight while on vacation

I'm back in London and settling back into my routine again. We had a really lovely time traveling around Tunisia over the past three weeks. Tunisia is such a wonderful country with a fascinating history and an incredibly varied landscape, culture and people.

One of the biggest lessons I had reinforced for me on this trip is that having fun doesn't have to be about eating. I had the most amazing time without binging or grazing my way through the whole experience.

Another great lesson reinforced was how valuable exercise is to weight loss. By the very nature of our journey, I was forced to walk an average of 5miles everyday. Within the first week my trousers had loosed up considerably.

Now nothing that I'm saying here is in anyway news, but it is amazing to me how hard the simplest truths can be to practice in our daily lives, far less when we are on vacation.

I am happy that unlike my Christmas vacation, I did not allow my compulsion to eat sugar take over. I was able to stick to my food plan and to get an abundance of exercise. I am glad that a vacation from my life did not mean a vacation from my commitment to good health. Consequently, I am able to report a 4.4lb weight loss over the time that I was away, as opposed to a 4.4lb weight gain.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Our Hair is Killing Us

We are letting our hair kill us:

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – About a third of black women cite complications of hair care as the reason they do not exercise or exercise less than they would like, according to Amy J. McMichael, M.D., the lead investigator of a study from Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

McMichael, associate professor of dermatology, specializes in hair and scalp diseases, ethnic and pigmented skin diseases, and general dermatology and skin care. “I see a lot of African American women in our clinic and had noticed how many of them are overweight. This puts these women at risk for hypertension, diabetes and other serious problems.”

In fact studies show that 77 percent of black women are overweight or obese, McMichael said. “I thought it would be interesting to look at what role their hair plays in their amount of exercise. Many African American women with coarser hair use either heat straighteners or chemical products to straighten their hair. Depending on how coarse or fragile their hair is, they can’t just wash their hair after exercise without having to go through the whole process again, and that can take hours. Over-washing fragile hair can make it break off easily.”

McMichael and the team of investigators from the Department of Dermatology, the Division of Public Health Sciences, and the medical school interviewed 103 black women about how much and what types of exercise they do, and the time, expense and complications of caring for their hair. Sixty-four of the respondents had relaxed their hair by various means.

All of the respondents believed it was important for them to exercise. And 50 percent stated that they considered changing their hair to make it easier to exercise.

To read the rest of the article click on "
Dermatologic Barriers to Exercise in Black Women" in the left sidebar under "Articles."

I'm not unsympathetic to the hair issue. But I will readily admit I don't understand it. When I had hair I still exercised and exercised hard. I never allowed my hair to stop me from working out, but then again I rarely went to the beauty salon either, unless it was to get a relaxer. So, I rarely had a hairstyle I had to "protect." I've talked hair on this blog before, but as the study notes there are no easy solutions. If you have straightened or relaxed hair, you're gonna sweat it out. There's no way around that if you're working as hard as you should work.

To those who navigate their workouts and their hair, how do you do it?

Weight Loss Tip of the Day

Become your own snack fairy. It’s okay to snack between meals, really. Small meals throughout the day are enough to keep you satisfied, as (much like the sensation of being full) you never want to feel hungry. Let your body know it’s going to get a regular regimen of calories. Plus, if you starve yourself for the regular meals, you’re probably going to eat more before your brain tells your mouth to stop. Think about it: breakfast, lunch, and dinner are social constructs at their very core.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Breaking Up With Food

I have to break up with food before it kills me.

I clearly remember some 2 1/2 years ago when I wrote that on my weight loss blog. At 359 lbs, I weighed more than Shaquille O'Neal. I was wearing a 26/28, the very last size in Lane Bryant. I was suffering from borderline diabetes mellitus, sleep apnea, mild asthma, joint pain, and high blood pressure. I was only 28, but at the rate I was going, it wasn't certain I would see 38.

I had to break up with food before it killed me.

I don't remember a time when I wasn't overweight. I was a chubby kid and have some memories of my mother sometimes having a hard time finding clothes for me for special occasions. She tried to help me - there were doctor's visits, specialized weight loss programs, gym memberships and dance classes. I would have initial success and then return to my same old habits. It got to the point that I was taking money from my her purse to buy extra food. I was am an addict.

By the time I got to high school, I tipped the scales at 250lbs. I don't ever remember weighing anything less. I joke that I went from diapers to size 3x overnight. Looking back, I can clearly identify the reasons I started gaining weight. My overdeveloped frame drew unwanted attention and thus began a sense of unease around men that still persists today. Essentially, I put on a fat suit to shield me. The fatter I got, the less attention I would draw. By the time I went off to college, I was well over 300lbs.

Even at 359lbs, I still embraced life. I started traveling internationally right after I graduated. I had romantic relationships. I dressed better than most people I knew, overweight or normal. I was always aware that I was often the largest thing in the room, but it wasn't something that constantly bothered me. I wasn't miserable. My personality and style was such that people didn't treat me differently because of my weight - at least not to my face. I just went about my life as a morbidly obese woman, assuming that's how it would always be. I didn't even own a scale and often didn't know my weight until my yearly physical. Like so many things in my life, if I ignored it, it wasn't an issue.

As I entered my late twenties, I started noticing more joint pain, particularly in my knees. I was getting more winded. I was tired of carrying around the weight of two people. I discovered that I was borderline diabetic, something I had always feared. I was tired of taking up more than my share of the train seat ; tired of dreading the whispered request for a seat belt extension. I didn't want to end up a statistic - losing my life to something preventable. I had too much to live for.

I had to do something.

I had to break up with food before I killed me.

I am Vivrant Thang, a new guest blogger here at Sweet Potato Pie. I feel I have an important story to tell -how I lost 140lbs and seven dress sizes and added years to my life. It's not a conventional story, but one I hope that some of you will relate to and learn from.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Weight Loss Tip of the Day

Eat healthy foods first. Eat foods that are healthy and low in calories first so that when it comes time to enjoy your favorites — sweets or junk food, for example — you won't be so hungry.


Black Women's Magazines Giving Bad Diet Advice

Seems Essence, Ebony and Jet are doling out bad diet and fitness advice:

African-American women's magazines are more likely to encourage fad diets and reliance on faith to lose weight, while mainstream women's magazines focus more on evidence-based diet strategies, according to the study by UI researcher Shelly Campo, published in a recent issue of the journal Health Communication.

AA women's mags are more likely to suggest Faith as a weight loss strategy, which never is a suggestion in more mainstream mags:

Relying on God or faith was suggested by 1 in 10 weight-loss stories in the African-American magazines, but in almost no weight-loss stories in the mainstream magazines.

The study also says that Black magazines put too much blame on the individual and not enough focus on envrionmental and economic issue that make it difficult for Black women to lose and maintain their weight:

"Both genres are highly guilty of over-reliance on individual strategies," Campo said. "We blame individuals too much for circumstances that are not entirely within their control. We know people living in unsafe neighborhoods are much less likely to exercise. And fast food is cheap compared to fresh fruit and vegetables. To tell a poor person that they made a bad choice because they couldn't afford the salad fixings raises some ethical concerns."

Why is there such an unwillingness in the Black mags to discuss health issues? I haven't been a regular reader of Essence, Ebony or Jet in years but I distinctly remember plenty of articles on making more money, finding a man, God and any number of other issues but not too many on health and fitness and leading a healthy life. It feels like Black women's weight is the elephant in the room (no pun intended) for many Black women and out magazine's reflect this.

What do you think?

To read the rest of the article click on the link in the left sidebar under "Articles."

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Still Crazy After All These Months...

It Was My Birthday.....

Hey All!

Wow, it is actually April, where does the time go?!?
Lessee , last time I talked to you, the diet went south, my heart was soaring heavenward, and the butt was spreading over the horizon. Since then, Mr. Marvelous turned out to be not so marvelous. Well, he was still nice, just not as.....single as I would have liked him to be. So I bid him adieu and spent the next couple of months plotting a messy and painful revenge for the jerk - I mean, contemplating and meditating on what was next for my life. Oh hell, I spent the next couple of months eating. Screw Dr. Phil, Betty Crocker was my shrink!

Anyhoo, we are starting over yet again - I lost a total of 25 lbs for the diet contest which ended in January....and I gained a total of 25 pounds and counting as of today. Soooo, getting back with my diet buddies both on and offline to see what we can do about this old friend that won't go away! Because I am a diabetic, the Atkins diet was perfect for me and I did lose weight - but life without carbs was kinda wearing on me and Christmas really put the Kibosh on the whole thing. It is a lifestyle, but life without Chocolate Cake was just too hard to bear. So I think that I will join Weight Watchers and get back on my walking/running/almost dying exercise regimen.

I have a new motivation - on May 6th, I will be going to Yosemite in California! Hiking, fresh air, camping out, possibly falling off a mountain, getting mauled by bears on the way to the bathroom which by the way is about 100 yards from the tent - oh yeah can't wait! So I am going to have to get in at least a little shape for all of the exercise and good times that are to come! Can't Wait!

It's the getting started part that is hard - but, I CAN DO IT!!

The pics above were from February 21 of this year - my birthday. I wanted to blog this on that day, but life got in the way, so now that things have calmed down a bit I think I will share now.

I turned 42 that day. Walked into the office to good friends , great food (Bob made these pumpkin muffins that were to die for) and a surprise bouquet from a special buddy of mine. It didn't matter that I had loved and lost, or that I had gained a few pounds. That day I felt really special and loved , and as I do every birthday, I found and counted my blessings to match my age.

.......Then I went out and got blasted out of my mind!! Great day all around!!

Talk at ya later folks! Next post - facing the dreaded scale once again!