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Sunday, July 29

LAS VEGAS - Part 2

So this is the part where I talk about what you are really wondering about which was the FOOD in Las Vegas. Let’s just say that it was an eating frenzy. This was a double edged sword for me because although I knew it was all going to blow me up like a balloon, I felt like this vacation was a last hurrah in many ways…what dieters call  the last supper.

As a run down, we ate everything from heaping piles of nachos that should be illegal with all the people that are starving right now, to Japanese Hibachi, brick-oven pizzas, bacon cheeseburgers, chili-cheese fries, hotdogs, burritos, and of course BUFFETS BUFFETS BUFFETS.

We ate at a total of four buffets during out stay, each one progressively getting better and better. The draw of course is that you can eat as much as you want for the low price of 45 dollars…assuming you go within a 24 hour window. Also, 6 casinos were included in the deal. Now you might be wondering how you could get the MOST bang for your buck and this is how you do it as I learned on a website specifically designed to help you save the most money possible in Las Vegas.

Buffet 1 happens for a late lunch/early dinner, about 3 o’clock. For this one we went to Harrah’s which by far was the worst one. The selection was not good, and the food itself was sub-par.

Buffet 2 is the late dinner about 8 o’clock at the Paris Hotel. I am in my white faux-Wedding dress, white heels, white purse, and headband with birdcage veil and people are congratulating me left and right, it was hysterical. The food at this buffet was solid, including braised lamb, roast beef, and truffle mac and cheese.

Buffet 3 happens the following morning for breakfast. My husband was out golfing and left me to my own demise at the hotel, so of course I went down to the buffet in our own hotel, the Flamingo, since it was “free”. The buffet was classic breakfast foods including sausage, bacon, eggs, Eggs Benedict, hashbrowns, pancakes, omelet bar, etc. I sit there so long reading my book that by the time I leave they also have tamales, taquitos, and lunch choices.

Buffet 4 is late lunch at the Rio. If you have ever been to Vegas you know that this is the most famous and impressive buffet to offer and rightfully so. They had EVERYTHING and by that I mean EVERYTHING. I’m talking corndogs to sushi, pizza to coq a vin. A buffet eater’s paradise. My husband and I sat there for two and  a half hours, talking, relaxing, bs-ing on our phones, etc. While we sat there I brought up something that has been bothering me. Something that we have already talked about but that is heavy on my heart.

Me: Will you still love me when I can’t eat at buffets anymore?

Him: Duh.

Me: No really. We will have to avoid buffets. We will have to find some way to celebrate with one another without food being the center.

Him: Okay.

Me: Simple as that?

Him: Yes.

Me: I dunno, it’s what I worry about most. Not that I won’t be able to eat a lot. That WE won’t be able to eat a lot together.

Him: Good thing we came here now then, before your surgery.

And there you have it. I take a deep breath and breathe a sigh of relief. I had been so regretful that I was going to my 10-year trip fat, that I didn’t have the balls to get banded sooner, that I was coming here to gorge myself in the name of celebration. But we can’t turn back the hands of time, we can only go forward.  We can’t regret the choices we have made in the past, good or bad. It is what it is.

For the remainder of the trip I had a different more relaxed attitude toward our meals.  I had already committed to making a change and get banded, but we were already there, saying good-bye to the first ten years of marriage, and saying hello to the next ten times infinity. No turning back.

Saturday, July 28

LAS VEGAS - Part 1

To celebrate or 10-year wedding anniversary, my husband and I flew out to the place where we had our honeymoon….Las Vegas. It wasn’t just our ages or the strip that had changed in the past 10 years though, we were different too.

The first time we went to Vegas, I had just turned 24 and Brad was almost 23. We were two new college graduates who had never been anywhere just the two of us. My husband picked the Luxor hotel because he thought it would be “cool” and we had a corner suite with a Jacuzzi tub in it. Looking back, I see now that what we were doing was “playing roles” of the new Mr. and Mrs. We would leave the hotel early, walking the strip, not wanting to miss any of the casinos on the way. We went to see one (bad) boobie show, and also got to see Sigfried and Roy before Roy’s own tiger mauled him and they went dark.  The trip was fun, but because of our hectic schedule to see it all, we were somewhat going through the motions and not really living in the moment.

This time was very different. First of all, we had discussed before we headed out that we were not going to worry about going to every casino. My husband wanted to golf, and I wanted to read 50 Shades of Grey by the pool. We both wanted to hear some live music and drink many a cocktail. We were going to just arrive and see which shows inspired us. And more than anything, we wanted to try out the all-you-can-eat 24-hour buffet pass good at 6 locations.

So that is what we did this time. We relaxed in the room with no agenda. My husband was able to get two rounds of golf in. I finished the first Shades book and made it through half of the second book, which was truly inspiring if you will with no kids to knock on doors in the middle of the afternoon. We lounged in the pool people watching and drinking cocktails in plastic cups, and we sang and danced to all of our favorite songs. We saw Hugh Hefner’s ex-gal Holly Madison in Peepshow, saw one of our favorite Black Comedians Eddie Griffin, and also saw a hybrid showing of Phantom of the Opera which was Vegasized. Because of our relaxed state, we were able to really enjoy each other more than we had been able to in a while. We both agreed that this trip was far better than our real honeymoon.

On the last day, our last time in the big walk in shower, steam fogging everywhere, is when I cried. This trip symbolized a great milestone for us. 10 years had come and gone. We had both grown-up and were different. We both now had different dreams and different fears. And we were proving that we both loved each other more and more with each passing day.

Saturday, July 21

...and Another Motivation...

So…I was just asked an hour to be a bridesmaid in my cousin’s wedding! My first reaction was, “are you sure, aren’t I kinda old?” Even though I did ask this same cousin to stand up to my wedding 10 years ago, I didn’t want this to be an obligatory choice on her part, I am not one who keeps score on these things. She assured me that yes, she was serious, and that’s when I spilled the beans to yet another person about getting LB.

My cousin said, “I don’t care what size you are, I still want you.” That made me feel really special, but in my mind I was thinking….I could really be thin[er] by May 4, and that made me feel very excited. What’s more is that my daughter was asked to be the flower girl so we will be in the wedding together which means A LOT of family photos.

On my forum, they talk a lot about non-scale-victories…you know,  the little things that keep you motivated aside from the numbers on the scale. It would be a huge NSV for me to feel great in the bridesmaid dress my cousin picks. I don’t even care what size it is, I want to feel awesome, and I know that by May I can get there =)

I don’t know what I will even do with myself if this doesn’t work out; I have laid all my chips out on the LB roulette.

Thursday, July 19

Baby Steps still Get You There...

Today I met with my PCP to touch base about how things were going. As always I am very nervous going into these appointments because I am afraid of being told that actually I’m not a good candidate after all, or that the side effects will make me miserable. As usual though, I felt good after my appointment, always reassured that I am doing the right thing. My health has been steady, and so has my weight, which is a good thing. Everything is showing what I need it too and that is that I will benefit from this surgical tool.

Because I only have six more weeks under the dietitian’s watch, the doctor sent over the referral to the Bariatric Center and said that I could expect to hear from them in the next few weeks or call them myself in early August. I know that I still have a few more hurdles to jump, but I am getting somewhere and am feeling so positive that this is really going to happen!

I have only told a select few friends, and this is a topic that comes up on the forum quite a bit too. Many people want this success to be their little secret. They are afraid people will judge their choice or feel like they gave up and took an easy route. Other people I have talked to feel like you can’t deny what’s going on and that you will have more support if you are honest with those around you.  I’m feeling like I will be ready to post my decision on Facebook once I know FOR SURE that I have the insurance approval and that a surgery date is on the calendar. Right now, I’m only in my first trimester of this journey, and I don’t want to jinx myself. But that’s just me being a superstitious Sicilian Girl.

Tuesday, July 17

Roll the Dice...

Next Sunday my husband and I are getting away for our 10-year-wedding anniversary in Las Vegas. This is the place where we spent our Honeymoon so it was an easy choice for us.

This trip is bittersweet for me. I am still just as much in puppy love with my honey as I was when we were dating. When I look at him I see a college-age boyfriend telling jokes and eating ramen noodles out of a cup-of-soup mug. We were married very young, just two new college graduates, and I remember dieting strenuously for this big event in my life. After all, on your wedding day, everyone from your past, present, and future is there waiting for you to come into the church in your white dress. That is one of the biggest moments of a wedding, isn’t it? It’s all about the bride in her dress.

I dieted, and dieted, and ran on the treadmill religiously for one whole year.  By the days before the wedding I was just eating one small meal a day with a few snacks here and there. These were the days before low-carb was popular, so I enjoyed eating white toast with butter most of the day and drinking diet pepsi.  Didn’t take much in those days for a 24-year-old to loose a few, but in my mind I was an Orca Whale (HA! Boy was I wrong!!) By the big day I had reached my goal weight of 160 lbs. and for my body at the time, I felt fantastic.

I remember packing all sorts of fun clothes to take to Las Vegas, including mini-skirts, one shoulder tops, and strapless dresses. Too embarrassed to wear a bikini in front of my family and friends, I bravely packed a turquoise one with palm trees on it for my new hubby.

Since then, unfortunately I have been yo-yoing the whole damn time. Each time I actually had major progress I have gained it back with interest. I also had two enormous pregnancies, and two c-sections which left my abdominal area with no goddamned chance. When I look at my wedding picture I see a beautiful young girl with the whole world in front of her. When I see myself now, I see someone who is trapped in her body.

The good news is that my husband is still as gorgeous as he was on our wedding day, if not more.

I have been with my man a long damn time by today’s standards and I am only 34-years-old. This time I have spent with him has gone by so fast that it seems I blinked my eyes and now I am here. Inside I am the same, but outside I am not me. The “inside me” wants to jump on a heart-shaped bed in Las Vegas wearing high heels and a smile to match. Realistically, the outside me is going to sit by the pool in an extra-concealing swimsuit and enormous sunglasses and watch the world go by.

Let’s roll the dice…

Friday, July 13

Who's Guilty Here?

As I see it, the only way that I can make this happen successfully is if I know people have my back, and that’s why I talk to my “friends” on LB websites. I realize I don’t know these people personally, but I take comfort in being able to ask questions and getting real answers.

Today another mom asked the forum ( about how to deal with the guilt of having weight-loss surgery and the mixed emotions that come with the decision. I understand where she is coming from because I too felt that way on an off my whole life. What changed was how I looked at my life as a whole and remembered how many people were going to benefit from this decision.

As a mother we often feel what I call “short-term guilt.” We feel guilty when we take a nap instead of cleaning. We feel guilty when we order pizza for the third time in a week instead of making dinner.  What we NEED to feel guilty about is not taking care of ourselves so that we can take better care of our families.

This is the exact reason why we need to BAND TOGETHER. We are all in the same boat here and we all understand what each other is going through.  People that are looking from the outside thinking we should just be eating tofu and jogging every day instead of relying on a LB just don’t get it. But we do.

Here is my promise. I won’t judge you and you won’t judge me. We will listen to each other. We will provide each other with advice. We will watch each other succeed.

And when we do, boy will it taste sweet…

Thursday, July 12

Why Star Jones??

Why Star Jones?

I have been addicted to a website that I found online for people who are at all stages of Lap-Band surgery. Recently, a woman posted about going on vacation with friends who don’t know that she had been recently banded and asked how she was going to keep up the fa├žade with her not being able to eat or drink even close to the amounts of the other ladies.

I commented to her that she should be proud of her decision to make some positive changes in her life and be honest. Still, this got me wondering, what would be the reasons to keep having a LB a secret?

For me, I feel like it took everything I have to find the courage to start working with my doctor towards a LB. I want my friends and family to know because I think if anything it will make social gatherings easier. I don’t know about the family you were born to, but mine would be skeptical if I wasn’t eating up, and certainly would think I was sick with the plague if I just suddenly started avoiding meals.  I think if anything, my announcing I have a LB will become my “excuse” to keep pushy and nosey family members off my back.

As far as friends go, I don’t know if the phrase ‘misery loves company’ is to blame but I happen to have many friends who are also weight-strugglers. Why would I invent odd reasons to be eating healthier when my friends may be on the fence with their own decision toward a LB? I want to inspire people, not make them think that I was somehow able to just turn my shit around on my own with no help.

Luckily for me, those I have already told have been very positive. No one has yet to try and change my mind, and I think the main reason is because I won’t let them. In fact, a few of my friends have even admitted they are jealous of me. This is a crazy thing in my opinion, I’m not winning the lottery here people I am just fed up with attempts to lose weight on my own!

I am not Star Jones. I could give a flying fuck who knows the truth. I am not doing this because I am a sell-out but because I need help. I am not doing this to wear a trendy string bikini but because I want to play ‘Twister’ with my kids. I am not doing this because I don’t know that a chicken breast is healthier than a BigMac but because I need a daily reminder not to eat one.  I’m too old to wear a rubber band around my wrist and snap it to keep me in line, I’m trying to install one around my stomach instead.

Tuesday, July 10

Joining the "Band" Wagon - PART 2

As I’m sure you know, you can’t just snap your fingers and get a Lap Band. There is a long and lengthy process, especially if you want your insurance to pay for it. I happen to have an HMO so my Lap Band will cost me all of TEN BUCKS if I can qualify for it. The good news is this isn’t a shot in the dark for me, looking at my health and weight history and my age I actually make for a really good candidate. After talking to my Primary Care Physician and running a few blood tests, she agreed that I was a good candidate and that I could start Phase 1 which is documentation of your weight with a registered Dietitian in your group. This needs to happen for 6 consecutive months before you can see the surgeon.

Today was my 4th appointment with the dietitian. It isn’t as much of a joke as I thought it would be but it really is more about paperwork than anything else. First the dietitian weighs me which is my favorite part of the appointment. If you just threw up in your mouth hear me out! If you are like me, you probably can’t remember the last time you stepped on a scale and cringed, especially in front of another live human adult. The difference here is that whatever I weigh it’s okay. It’s okay because I am HERE. It’s okay because being the weight that I am is going to help me get what I need and that’s a ten dollar Lap Band. In fact, I get weighed with my head held high because I finally have the balls to do something life changing for myself and my family. I am so proud of myself I even leave my flip-flops on.

When we sit down, the dietitian gives me all kinds of diet and exercise suggestions (every one of which anyone with half a brain would know anyways). At first I imagined that she would be tall, blonde, and skinny as hell but I got one of those qualities wrong. The dietitian is indeed tall and blonde, but she’s older than my parents and could stand to lose a few herself. It’s okay though, because it makes it comfortable to talk to her and be real with her about my struggles.  Things we talk about are ways to increase exercise, decrease food intake, increase good beverages and decrease caffeine.  After our chitchat which lasts about a half hour,  she does the write up of our progress, and this is the MOST important part of this meeting because it will show the HMO that I am not able to do this on my own.  It will tell them I truly need the LB. Because, I do.

I want to be able to share my journey with my friends and family because I know for a fact I am not alone in this. So c’mon….band with me.

Chicago Rose

Joining the "Band" Wagon - PART 1

I am finally here!

And you are finally here!

Chances are, we are both here for the same reason. If not, I thank you for being interested in a glimpse inside the mind of a not-so-exciting Mom in Chicago.

Just like you I balance many things in my life and that means that MYSELF is often excluded. I love taking care of my husband and kids. I love being a teacher. I love taking graduate classes. What I don’t love is how my mind, body and soul often suffers in the process. Emphasis on BODY. The vessel in which I grew two beautiful children seems to be left for shark feed these days and that has to change! This is my story, and my journey, and I hope that anyone who is interested in Lap Bands [LB], is qualifying for one, or already has one reads this and can find a connection in the chaos and BAND WITH ME!

My story starts years ago, I always struggled with my weight, blah blah blah. I feel like at this point, that part of my life is neither here nor there. What matters is TODAY, but to know where I am going you have to know where I have been and for that I am sorry that this post will be so long. Being my first, there was just no way to avoid the length.

My LB journey started at Wisconsin Dells this spring break 2012.  I bet you’re thinking that my decision revolves around my need to wear a swim-burka, but no. If you have ever been to an indoor waterpark in the greater Midwest area you will know by just looking around you probably look pretty fucking fabulous. There are tons of overweight swimmers at the pool in bathing suits about three sizes too small with bellys hanging out all over. My husband and I even invented an “I SPY” game just for the occasion.  The straw that broke this [mine] camel’s back was what happened on the waterslide.

My son Vinny who is seven-years-old and 45 lbs went down the waterslide twice with his dad before he asked me to come with him. I had been avoiding this for as long as I could. The whole time we were in line with that stupid figure 8 shaped tube I had anxiety. When my son and I go down and it’s black the whole way down. My stomach was churning the whole time. When we got to the bottom, sure as shit my fat ass caused us to capsize the tube, just like I was afraid of. We fly into the water which is only about two feet deep and as I submerge I am trying to reach out in the dark (I wear contacts, ok?) to find my son who I am sure is drowning.  When I am able to get my bearings and stand the fuck up, my son is laughing his ass of in the arms of the lifeguard and my husband is telling me we should have been leaning forward so we wouldn’t tip backward. Everyone thinks this is hilarious but me. I am mortified. I AM DONE.

The next day we are in the wave pool, each of us balancing on a tube holding one of the kids. While the waves are rocking I have an epiphany that changes my life. Here it is friends, this is my exact “AHA moment” that I had heard about on Oprah for so many years right smack in the middle of the wave pool of the Wilderness Resort at Wisconsin Dells. I am thinking that if one of the kids falls out of one of these tubes like happened at the waterslide, with the water here being 5 feet deep and about 200 people in the wave pool  in about 100 tubes, A. how the fuck could we find one of the kids if they slipped under??? and B. could my fat ass swim down to the bottom and get them??? The answer blinded me like lightning, because of course it was no. I cannot swim down. I cannot save my baby.  At that exact moment I knew what I had to do. I had been thinking about LBS for a few years but was never really sure about it. What happened in the water that spring break gave me the confidence to look at myself and my situation and say enough is enough.

As soon as we got home I told my family of my decision to start the qualifying process for Lap Band Surgery.  Maybe you are worried about starting that dialog just as I was. What was different this time was instead of bringing it up casually like, “Hey how ‘bout that Lap band Surgery!” and waiting for the family vultures to devour me up, I told them matter-of-factly that I was starting my process. This turned out to be huge because instead of JUDGING, my family actually LISTENED.  My husband saw my desperation, and said the one thing that was going to put this whole plan in motion, “Okay.”