Thursday, November 15, 2012

A goal is a dream with a deadline.....



A goal is a dream with a deadline....Napoleon Hill

A deadline!...my life is full of deadline.  I feel like my world is set on a timer.  Dives at Disney are 40 minutes...snorkeling excursions are 30 minutes.  Running, biking and swimming miles are timed...and each precious increase in speed is celebrated... We pay bills with a deadline and set goals with a certain time and date.

Deadlines....hmmmmm....indeed.

I am a believer in dreams.  I believe dreams are powerful and life altering.  I believe your life goals and dreams should be written in concrete with the dates of completion written in sand.  Sometimes you have to push that sand away and write a new date....a new timeline....a new cut off time.

So has been my life in the world of Ironman.

I first came in contact with Ironman in 2006.  They needed rescue divers to work the swim course in Panama City.  I found out through a triathlon website that they had this need and applied for the volunteer slot.  I was granted it and I was excited.

I watched the triathletes get ready for the race and the full scope of what an Ironman was started to materialize before me.  It wouldn't be until years later that I would fully understand the hours of training and dedication it takes to achieve such a goal.  I was inspired by every athlete that passed me in the water as I watched with a regulator in my mouth.  I was even more inspired by those who pushed themselves through the water to make the cut off time.  It was quite emotional.

And as I stood at the finish line near midnight as a finish line volunteer, the atmosphere..the drama...and the hard work of each of those people helped create a dream in me that has never gone away...

Fast forward to 2012...Two attempts at Ironman...2 DNF's...and that's me in the photo above...signing on the dotted line one more time...all for a dream. The deadline of my dream has been written in sand and changed many times...now the new date is November 2nd, 2013....15 years almost to the day since my gastric bypass.  I will be 50 years old...and that was my original deadline...to complete an Ironman in my 50th year.

Dreams and goals are amazing....keep pushing...keep dreaming....keep working...and they will become yours.

DEDICATED TO MY FRIEND, ELIZABETH CREPEAU, AS SHE ATTEMPTS HER DREAM OF IRONMAN ARIZONA 2012.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Remembering a friend...

It was your typical Thursday morning in my world.  I woke up...sore...a bit tired after a physical day at my job with the Living Seas at Epcot.  These are the mornings that I realize I am not as young as I use to be as my bones creek....and my body cries for coffee.

The idea of canceling my personal training appointment crosses my mind as it does every Thursday morning...and the mental battle begins to remind myself that I am worth this workout..getting to my goal is worth this workout.  Coffee, a bit of breakfast and off I go.

It's always grueling on Thursday mornings.  I'm tired and my trainer, Ben, doesn't care.  Actually, he does. That's why he doesn't give any credit to my whining as he takes me through another workout to make me a little stronger...to help me build a little more muscle...and to maybe get a little leaner.

After the workout, Im off the Starbucks for another cup of the good stuff...and then...the phone rings...and things change..and that phone call brings life into perspective.

My dearest high school friend has battle breast cancer for more than 10 years.  I watched her lose her hair more times than I can count and every time she was down, I watched her bounce back...back into remission...back into life...back into one more round with the big "C".

She and I have not talked much in the last few years.  She lives in Texas...Im in Florida...but not a week goes by that I don't remember the amazing things we did as children.  We travelled together and shared a great friendship.  We were in each other's weddings...I cheered her on as her children were born...and watched them grow up.  Her family became close with my family...and life rolled on.

Today...she's back in the ring with the big "C" but she's on the ropes...and my heart aches for her children and her family.  This is the moment when you wished you made one more phone call...sent one more card..one more email...you wished you stayed in better touch with each other.  All I can do now is pray.

So many people ask.. "Why in the world do you do what you do??" "Why attempt an Ironman?" "You're 49 .. not 20...why care about getting to your goal weight?" WHY?? Well...this is why.  Because life is short...life is precious...life is a gift given in hourly sections and it is YOUR choice as to what you do with those minutes and seconds.  That's why!!..I want to get to the point where my friend is right now and say...wow....what a ride....

Knowing my friend...she's still throwing as many punches as she can...and you never know...she might just make a comeback....but if she doesn't....I hope she knows that she taught me so much about family, about life and how precious it all is....

Gotta dream.???..what are you waiting for..????...you never know when your hours are limited....

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A wonderful honor at a special place

A few weeks ago, I was sent an email from an organization known as WellSpring at Structure House.  If you have followed my previous blog, you will already know about Structure House....if not...Ill give a very short description.

Structure House is a treatment facility for overeating disorders: compulsive overeating specifically.  The organization provides a safe and positive place to get your eating and your head on straight.  I first went to Structure House in 1985.  It has seen my highest weight..and my lowest weight in my years since.

In the email I was sent, I was asked to apply to be a speaker or "panelist" during a week known as "Success Week"...celebrating the accomplishments of people who have taken the tools from the Structure House program and applied them to their lives to achieve balance  and maintain a healthy weight.

I applied...and I was chosen.  It was a great honor indeed.

I served on two panels during my time at Structure House and shared my success in keeping off weight and incorporating exercise into my lifestyle.  More importantly, I learned so much from so many people about their journey and their lives that have dealt with food issues.

The funny thing is that I never really viewed myself as a "success" since I have never reached my goal weight. I know that losing 200 pounds (give or take 20 pounds) is a significant achievement but I always felt like a failure because of my inability to get past the 180 pound mark.  I have to say, this week help me understand that I have been a success since I have kept 90% of my weight off for almost 14 years.

I am happy to report I am now 10 more pounds down with about 40 more to go to my goal weight.  This process is very slow and steady but I am determined.  I have been focused with my strength workouts twice a week and have been getting about 8 to 10 hours of cardio in a week.  Most of that cardio has been  running as I prepare for the Ragnar Relay starting in Miami in January 2013.

Next week will be an important one as I focus on cheering on my friends at Ironman Florida...and once again..make the commitment to be an Ironman by signing on the dotted line and enter Ironman Florida 2013.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Just Do It!!


I was on Facebook today and a friend posted the above motivational "poster"...and it truly struck me.
I liked it so much I downloaded it, printed it and put it up on my wall next to my desk.  It truly covers
everything I have done concerning the two important life goals that stand before me.

I have spent months thinking about those life goals.  One, I have been working on since my gastric band surgery.  The other goal I had put aside.

My desire to get to my goal weight has been an ongoing battle for most of my adult life.  I truly believe that I am on that path but the process is a slow one.  Not only am I battling "hand to mouth"disease, I am also dealing with a serious thyroid imbalance.  I am NOT one of these people that would blame my weight on my thyroid disease...because...let's face it...I like to eat...but having thyroid problems only makes the journey that much harder and that much longer.  I will get there...it will just take focus and time.

My other goal of becoming an Ironman has been a true life goal up until this year.  As I began to train for that goal in January of this year, I felt tired and frustrated.  I was pretty focused...more so than in years past but I could feel what I now know was burn out on the sport that I adore so much...specifically cycling.  The only REAL way to combat burn out in a sport is to walk away...take a break...do something else...and that is what I did for most of the summer.

I also took this time to consider if Ironman really WAS my goal.  I have spent the last few years around friends who ran Ironman so I wanted to be certain that this was something I wanted to do instead of something I felt like I needed to do to fit in.  Believe me, Ironman training is a part time job and a huge commitment...it is NOT something you want to do on a whim.  So, much thought has gone into this goal.

I also was concerned about what people would think of me attempting YET AGAIN to do another Ironman.  Would they think I am a TOTAL LOSER for signing up one more time.  I know there are many that look at me....look at my weight and say "Really??" "Just give it up girl....you're not exactly built for this sport."

But with all that said....I had to look at what was the most important thing about my two dreams....that they truly are my heart's desire.  Triathlon is my passion and I really DON'T care if some hot shot who is built like a stick thinks Im a loser for having the dream of Ironman.  I want to complete this and I KNOW that I have failed in the past .... but I gotta get to this somehow...some way.

So...The above photo is pretty accurate...stop whining...stop crying...stop worrying and JUST DO IT.

So ... let this blog entry be the announcement if you will....Im gonna give it another shot.  I will be signing up for Ironman Florida 2013.  Let's hope '13 is my lucky number.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Second Fill to the band

Update...since surgery: 11 pounds lost
Fill on band: 2nd fill done last week taking it from 52% capacity (5.2) to 72% capacity (7.2)

Slow and steady as she goes.  When I stepped on the scale, I was heartbroken.  I was hoping for more weight loss as this 11 pounds is from my first weigh in prior to my surgery.  I guess I should be happy that I have not GAINED weight but this is a whole lot different than my gastric bypass where I lost 25 pounds in the first month.

It's a process.  I know. I keep hearing that and I keep telling myself that but there are so many things I want to accomplish in the coming two years that require me to be 50 POUNDS DOWN...and 11 pounds in 3 months is very very slow...but I will keep the faith...keep better records and try very hard to be honest with myself...

Likkkkkeeee...not drinking so much like I did on my birthday weekend in Virginia Beach.  Liiiiikkkkeee...not eating so much birthday cake (one of my downfalls) during my actually birthday at Disney.
Liiiiiikkkeee...Stress eating during my mother's back surgery and stay in the hospital.  Candy, potato chips and the like are NOT going to make her better or make me thinner.

Food has always been my constant companion.  It is use to ease my stress...curb my loneliness or to simply entertain me.  Am I the ONLY person on the planet who has eaten on a long road trip just because there was nothing else to do?  Let's end this pity party and get on to more important matters.

I guess my biggest issue is how to confront my addiction to food when the desire is right there...in the moment when the choice is up to me: to eat...or not to eat.  Is it meal time? If not...then why the HELL am I stuffing my face.  Loneliness, boredom, anger, sadness, frustration, celebration...the emotions cry out for food but what they really are crying out for is to be confronted...to be addressed and to be dealt with in another way besides the consumption of multiple calories.

If you are reading this blog and you don't have an eating disorder or an addiction, you may not understand the PULL of your addictive substance.  I KNOW..."just stop eating"...you know how many times I have heard that?? If it were that simple...I would have done it ages ago...but it something more than just eating for hunger...its eating for the hunger of the soul.

So please understand that this struggle...this fight..is one I WILL WIN...and damn it Im going to. My parents don't believe in any of this cause.  They don't see the need to be thinner...or healthier...but I do...and I will...I am worth it...no matter what I have felt in the past.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Adding another element to the team

Well, last week, I decided to start adding a little strength training to my regime.  I started with a week of P90X.  For those of you who do 90 days of this program, I tip my hat.  After 4 days of this program, my body was toast.  I could hardly move and doing my cardio was next to impossible.

So...with the realization that I am not as young as I use to be, I searched for help... and I think I found it right down the street in the heart of College Park.

Ben, who is the Owner of My House Fitness has become my personal trainer.  Two days a week, I am doing strength training with him and I am already very excited about the future.  His focus on safe movement and form is something I haven't had with a lot of other trainers in my life and he pushes just enough to make those muscles burn but not too much so I can't run the next day. This first week has been great...but I know the following weeks will only continue to get harder.

As far as my eating is concerned, I feel like I might need to have my band tightened just a little more. I feel like I am eating a bit more than I should.  The scale IS going in the right direction with 3 pounds lost since the band was installed.  A great sign.  Let's hope it continues.

This weekend, I plan to run my first competitive 5k since surgery.  In two weeks, I will be running/MOSTLY walking my first half marathon since my gastric band was installed. The Virginia Beach Rock n Roll Half Marathon has been a tradition for me for years as it is near my birthday.  This will be my 5th time running the coastal town's 13.1 miles.  Watch for many photos!!!

As always...Ill keep you posted

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Let's get this party started....


It's been 6 weeks since my surgery and today was a big day. Today, Dr. Robyn Ache..my incredible surgeon who fixed my bypass, fixed my hernia and installed my new gastric band, tightened the band down around my stomach.  Let the games begin.

When Gastric Band surgery is done, you have to wait about 4 to 6 weeks for the surgical site to heal.  For me, I had to wait a little longer for my hernia to heal....but the wait is over...

The fill takes just a few minutes...but I gotta tell ya..I was terrified.  I don't do needles well but Dr. Ache calmed my fears...just like she did in the operating room prior to surgery.  What an incredible person Dr. A is  in my life. I have a port under the skin below the left side of my ribcage.  The needle is inserted into the port and saline is injected into a tube that is connected to the band and it tightens the band around my stomach.  This band is adjustable so if I feel like its not tight enough, no problem, she can inject some more saline.....too tight? She can remove some saline.

So the waiting is over and the fun part begins.  Now...its up to me. No excuses.  I have yet another tool in the arsenal to help me achieve my goal weight.  I already started this week with working towards those goals but Ill update you on those in the next post.

Thanks Dr. Ache....you are a blessing in my life.

Friday, July 27, 2012

One month since surgery...and becoming a little GOOFY

Well...here we are.  The stitches are out and I am past the liquid and soft food diet phase.  Now...it's real.  I am released to do just about anything I want. I have another 10 days before they fill my gastric band and tighten it around my stomach...and believe me...I am excited about the possibilities that that restriction of intake will provide :)

Last week I did a 2 mile run and felt pretty good.  The next day I woke up with a swollen right foot.  I had a broken heel in April and have been battling plantar fasciatis since May.  After running, I could
hardly put weight on the foot so, off I went to the Ortho to see what could be done.

I ended up with a cortisone shot in the side of my right foot and I am happy to report I am doing great.  Did a 3 mile run a few days ago with no issues....so now...its up to me.

I had to do some serious soul searching about my endurance goals.  If you know me personally, you know that completing an Ironman is my ultimate endurance goal.  I have attempted the Ironman twice . The first time, I ended up sick and dehydrated at mile 70 of the bike course.  The second time, I missed the bike cut off time by 90 seconds.  Both situations were heartbreaking but I did what I could and I did more in those days than anyone could have ever imagined a decade ago.  I was sad and depressed that I failed at these attempts but the dream still lives in me.

As I made the decision to get the band over my bypass, it was so that I could lose the last 40 to 70 pounds of weight for several reasons.  First and foremost, it will extend my life expectancy if I am at
a weight within normal limits.  Secondly, it will make me faster on the bike and run if I am lighter.  There are more reasons but honestly, those are the two that mean the most to me.  I have tried in the past to take time off to lose weight before the next season but I have been unable to take off more than 20 pounds at a time.

So, as hard as it was to say goodbye to the triathlon season, I decided to end my season early and focus on running and weight loss.  Doing running events does not require as many days of workout as a long distance triathlon.  With fewer days of workout, it gives my body time to recover and rest plus it will be a little easier to stick to a lower intake of food.

Several years ago, I participated in the Disney Marathon and told myself that someday, I would complete the Goofy Challenge (a half marathon and a full marathon in the same weekend).  Again, this is an event I have attempted to complete but have been unable to accomplish.  This will now become my goal for the next coming months.

So watch my blog as this triathlete turns runner for the next few months and goes for one of the major endurance events on her bucket list...becoming GOOFY :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The first long walk

Well I am exactly one week since my surgery and I decided to do a long walk with my 5 month old Golden Retriever named Finnegan.  We have been under Tropical Storm and Tornado warnings for the last several days and a break in the clouds at noon finally gave me the opportunity to get this accomplished.

So picture the triathlete who has been in multiple half ironmans and marathons sweating her guts out as she makes it through the mile and a half walk for 30 minutes.  Seriously!! It was a bit humbling.  You take your endurance for granted sometimes when you are training for long distance races so today's 1.5 miles was a smack in the face.

Surgery does take it out of you and healing and rest is important. Ok ok...I get it!!  Im not one who can sit for days and watch movies in my house so the recovery period has been difficult but ..... BUT....I have to move.  Just ask the recovery nurse who had to hold me down once they got me to my room. "Can I walk??" I asked  "No yet..Melissa...I have to get you situated here in your room."  10 minutes later... "Can I walk yet??" I asked..not really realizing how long it had been since my last request thanks to great drugs.  So you see...sitting really isn't my top priority.

I PROMISED my husband, my friends, my family and everyone else that I would rest...and I will...but boy am I ready to get back to a little swimming...a little biking and a little running.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The beginning of my second journey

So...for those of you who use to follow my old blog, you know that I like to keep a record of my journey.  It is important to me to see the progress over time and to take pride in the successes and learn from the failures.  That really is what life is about right??

This is my second journey.

For those of you who DON'T know...allow me to bring you up to speed.  I am a gastric bypass patient. In Dec. 1998, I become a clinical trial for the Roux-n-Y (pronounced row-N-Y) gastric bypass with silastic ring.  I am blessed that I survived the surgery, took the gift of that surgical breakthrough and went from 380 pounds to my lowest weight of 180 pounds.  That was 14 years ago.  For 12 of those years, I have raced triathlon and marathons completing over 65 triathlons, 35 half marathon, 4 marathons and 1- 24 hour adventure race.  Racing helped keep me focused on my health and weight loss and helped me keep off over 180lbs of that weight .

In 2005, I found a problem with my silastic ring. This was the  ring placed at the bottom of my stomach to help hold in nutrition.  It had slipped  and was strangling myintestine causing a blockage and pain.  I attempted to have my RNY revised and have the ring removed.  The revision was a terrible failure.  I ended up with a stomach tube for almost 2 months and a heart attack due to an imbalance in electrolytes.  I am lucky to still be here.

In 2012, I looked back at my years since bypass and was excited and happy with most of what I had accomplished but realized that I would not be fully content until I completed one serious life goal...and that was getting to my goal weight of 130 to 150 pounds.  I knew I needed help to achieve this goal and I knew that this silastic ring still needed to be addressed.

On July 20, 2012, I underwent my second surgery to achieve my weight loss goal.  I had a LAP-BAND installed over my bypass to help support my stomach and to give me the restriction I need to continue towards my goal.  I am almost a week out from my surgery and I am feeling stronger but not 100 percent.  I am currently on a full liquid diet which makes my choices limited but I am excited about my future.

This blog is my sounding board of the ups and downs of my second journey towards my goal weight.  I look forward to having you follow along :)

Melissa