These boots are made for Rockin’

CarolwowmugHoly cow, it’s been a long time.

A lot of things have changed. For the better, I might add.

For one thing, I’m down 75 pounds from that day last spring when I was seriously depressed about my cowboy boots not fitting anymore.

As you can see from the pictures, those babies fit again.

And I am one happy cowgirl.

It has been a really busy four months. Since having the gastric sleeve surgery Jan. 15, mealtime has been very different for me. I’ve learned to slow down and focus on enjoying what’s on the plate instead of trying to finish it in record time. I’ve gotten more in tune with that little voice in my head that says “I’m full,” especially since its backup singer, my highlighter-sized stomach, is sometimes louder, with the familiar chorus “STOP!”

We also had family visiting, numerous trips to The Park (you know, that Disney place) and I worked the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival as an emcee. Oh yeah, and my freelance work.

“Sorry, been busy” should be my new tattoo.

Don’t worry, it’s not all traumatic. It’s just been a big learning process. I never realized how much attention I would have to pay to what went into my mouth.

Some habits die hard. My fridge and freezer are still packed. Even though the kids are gone and our family of five has dwindled to one hungry husband who loves my cooking and two eager pitties waiting for what I can’t finish, my mindset is still “shop for a crowd.”

But to answer those wondering “what can you eat?,” let me offer this:

Gone forever: carbonated drinks. I don’t miss soda, but I do miss Perrier. Water or iced tea for me, thanks very much. And, of course, coffee. Without coffee, adulting is really hard.

Screen Shot 2016-05-15 at 9.29.44 PMAlcohol is on vacation until November, when I’m going wine tasting with my girl gang – although I know that I’ll be stopping at one glass instead of the “several sips, then why not get a glass or two or three” of the past. I will learn to choose wisely.

Fried foods are verboten. They are so bad for you on so many levels and over my lifetime, I’ve already consumed enough of them to be content with the memory.

Bread, traditional pasta and rice (especially rice) are history. I haven’t had a sandwich since December. Tried once. When you have this procedure, one try is all you need to give you an unforgettable reminder that sandwiches are not your friend. I am discovering the joys of quinoa and farro, some more protein-friendly whole grains. I still need fiber in my diet and they are delicious.

ahi_tuna_pokeAhi tuna and poke have become my new addiction. Chicken breasts and a good steak (gristle makes me very cranky now) or some tender brisket are my go-to. Keep the sides.

If I’m a guest in your house, don’t hide the cookies or cake. Just be prepared to share. I’m seriously good with one bite, just to enjoy the flavors. That’s really all I want.

Two trash bags of clothing have already gone to the Assistance League’s thrift shop and I’m working on the third. I have to find a dress to wear to present scholarships this week and I’m hoping that one or two of those I kept aren’t too big. Isn’t that crazy? Maybe I should wear pants and the infamous boots.

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I’m still walking near the Iron Horse Trailhead at least once a week. I move a LOT more around the house, getting out of my office chair at least once an hour. Walking around Disneyland is a daylong adventure that ends when I want it to (around the 10,000 step mark) instead of gasping and sweating and wondering if they would deliver a scooter to Frontierland so I could just make it to the parking lot. When it gets a little bit warmer, I’ll be back in the pool for water aerobics. I tried Pilates, and I don’t think that’s a good fit; the difference is that I’ve made a deal with myself that if I don’t do the Pilates, I must do the pool. That feeling is definitely new.

SadiekissOf course, my favorite exercise is “weight lifting” and dancing with my 18-pound granddaughter. On one of my support pages, a woman posted a picture of her grandchild, saying that she was the reason she had the surgery. I posted Sadie’s picture and wrote a similar sentiment. Other sleevers (yes, we have a name) did the same and I realized that I was in great company with grandparents willing to make changes for the better to keep company with these little ones for a long, long time.

When everybody was home for Christmas last year, we took family pictures. They were wonderful and captured our unique spirit. But when I saw the pictures, I saw how much more there was of me than there should have been. I vowed that after I lost a good chunk of the weight, I would have head shots done, justifying the effort because I can use them for my blog and other marketing purposes.

I did that photo shoot a couple of weeks ago (with the amazingly talented Sarah Kreig, who also did our family shots) and I cannot tell you how much seeing those pictures gave me confidence and boosted my self-esteem. Even after all the doubt and self-examination and “could I have done this without the surgery?”  – I knew I did the right thing and I was so glad I would be able to share that with the world. Sarah did more than just headshots, she shot from top to toe, making sure to capture the slimmer middle, the fewer chins and included my Eight Second Angels with the hearts and scrollwork.

The boots fit. Now it’s up to me to take them in the right direction.

morning collage

 

Carol Rock is a writer based in the Los Angeles area. She is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years experience covering all areas of news and features. She works as a freelance public relations and media consultant, with writing remaining her strong suit. Her tattoo, if it were real, would read “Don’t Die Wondering.”

Toss the salad, gimme the scrambled eggs

Twelve days. Nearly two weeks. Still taking baby steps, but teetering oh-so-close to that edge of just leaping off into a pile of scrambled eggs…..

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This has been my fantasy for the last four weeks. I know. Weird….

Thanks for all the comments and concerns about my health. This adventure comes with some aches and pains, but with more growth (well, mentally. Physically, it’s shrinkage) and changes that will be lifelong.

You’ve asked how I’m feeling. OK. My stomach looks like a drive-by shooting happened in the OR, with four bullet holes in a line just above my belly button. (For the laparoscopic surgery, they put four trocars into your belly, blow your abdomen up with gas and then go to work with a camera and stapler and a hose to get rid of that pesky stomach tissue. You come out of the anesthesia with a drain and three big bandages. I prefer to think of it a crime scene. The “bullet holes” are healing, but underneath, apparently I’m developing scar tissue, because I get a really sharp pain to the left of the navel when I stand up, or when I curl up in the fetal position while I sleep.

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That flapping sound you hear is just my Batman impression. Do not be alarmed.

They told me there would be loose skin. I’m already starting to see that on my tummy, and now, I noticed my upper arms, formerly referred to as my “flying squirrel” arms, have now shriveled a bit and are beginning to resemble bat wings. While I believe in the dictum “Always be Batman,” I don’t think this is what they meant.

The muscle aches I used to get are going away, even though my weight loss is just beginning (although from my heaviest weight to today, I’m down 44 pounds). This is good because I have to walk or exercise (Aquatic Center lifeguards be warned: I’m coming back for that aerobics class!) and it’s a little easier. That was the point.

My knees, however, have not completely bought in to the program and we may have to have a talk soon. Of all the things that this surgery is supposed to eliminate or soothe, arthritis is not on the list.

Early last week, I thought I’d look on YouTube for a video of my surgery. I watched it and was fascinated! It made so much sense to do the liquid diet before (to shrink the liver) and watching the technique, I was in awe. I got a great mental picture of what I look like inside and it made the baby steps I’m taking now much more clear. If you’re thinking of having the surgery, or if you’ve had it already, I recommend watching the video. I learned so much!

IronHorseTrail
Iron Horse Trailhead. An old railroad bridge from the 1880s. Perfect place to change my own history.

I wear my Fitbit every day and was thrilled to see it logged nearly a mile on my walk today at the Iron Horse Trailhead. For 20 years, I have covered ribbon cuttings at these things, but never set foot on any path. Santa Clarita deserves kudos for the massive amount of trails criss-crossing the city and the scenery along today’s walk was amazing.

I had my follow-up appointment with my surgeon this week and had to wait nearly 45 minutes in the exam room for what I knew was going to be a five-minute visit. When he walked into the room, I told him I didn’t appreciate the waiting, only to have my concerns blown off. He looked at the drive-by site, said the bullet holes were healing and that the stitch of pain on my side was probably scar tissue, and if I moved more, it wouldn’t hurt. I explained to him that I was having trouble with walking by myself – I am much more comfortable sitting at my desk, writing and keeping in touch with the outside world from a keyboard, and am loathe to haul my lazy butt out of the chair to walk around the block. Plus it’s boring. So I have set up walking dates with friends who will make the steps melt away with their companionship. I shared this with the surgeon, and his remark was that I was going to fail if I didn’t exercise. I know this. I was explaining my coping mechanism and he was dismissing me. Again.

It was everything I could do to not use some colorful language and tell him that a good doctor would encourage my “date making” efforts at exercise and tell me to continue. Instead, he made it a negative experience. Really negative. When I began this process, I was warned that he had no bedside manner. I think it’s more than that. He thinks he’s a god. I think he’s a plumber (with apologies to my real plumber, who I love). But this guy goes in, fixes the pipes, then kicks the dog on the way out of the house.

One tip for people considering the surgery who are married or have a partner living with them. Revert back to your college days of marking, hiding or locking up your food. I drove home the other night thinking about the cup of tomato soup I had in the fridge, dreaming about warming it up and dropping in a scant spoonful of cheese and spices, only to open the refrigerator door and see a blank spot where the soup used to be. Apparently my sweetheart had a grilled cheese sandwich that needed company.

Ninety percent of the food in the fridge is out of my league and he takes my favorite part of the 10 percent! He was apologetic, but take this as a warning: Be prepared to defend your soup, yogurt, pudding and juices against predators.

waterbottles
Sip-sip-sipping away. All damn day…

Having this surgery didn’t take me out of the social circles. Last week, I went to a reunion with a friend from Florida, where delicious and desirable plates were passed before me. I sipped…and when I say sipped, I mean slo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-owly…an iced tea. Took me all night. Needless to say, I’ll be the cheapest date in town from here on out, since I will only be able to consume a few bites. I promise to tip generously, even if I order the child’s plate. And my newest constant companion is my water bottle. Sip-sip-sipping is my new habit.

And the mental games continue. Sometimes I wake up thinking I can walk into the kitchen and make a platter of bacon and cheesy eggs with toast. Then I really wake up and realize that I will be able to have one egg, scrambled (can’t WAIT, that happens Saturday), hold the toast and bacon, and substitute a little fruit and thinly sliced ham. It’s the next step in the new me. In the meantime, it’s time for a new ’do. This redhead is picking up speed and it’s time to sass again.

 

Special thanks to the people on the Facebook Bariatric Sleeve support page. The questions and answers are invaluable. I’ve never felt so much support from a group before and I appreciate each and every one of you.

 

Questions? Comments? Leave me a note, I love to hear from my readers!

Third time’s the charm, right?

February 11, 2015

Beginning again.

It’s like getting back on the bike or the horse or behind the wheel after a disastrous crash in which you were the casualty. But the muse within can only stay inside so long.

I am a writer. Not just because I have this uncanny ability to make fingers match keys that make things found in dictionaries and more often than not, fall into an AP style cadence.

Not because I made a living (kind of) as a working journalist and news director for 20 years.

Not because I embrace sayings like “punctuation, then quotations” or “people who, things that” as my mantras.

No, it has something to do with my love affair with words. They express. They embellish. They soften. They comfort. They confront.

“Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” is another literary tattoo. That and “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”

Yeah, I’ve always been a skeptic, long before my English teacher in high school said that I was a pretty good wordsmith. That character trait helped me when I embarked on a non-writing career arc of trying to be a cop. I studied law enforcement when I started college in 1971. Worked for LAPD for a while as a police cadet (the first female to do so, btw). Added pre-law to my studies when the physical part of trying to be a cop challenged me. Stopped chasing sirens and dead bodies for several years as an academic and instead pursued them with a reporter’s notebook. Decided to finish the college thing after a 32-year hiatus and got a degrees with a focus on writing.

Yup. Took that long to come to my senses.

This isn’t my first blog. I used to despise bloggers because I was a newspaper columnist, which I thought held me to a pretty high standard. I had followers. Some have become close friends. To me, bloggers had no accountability and I was responsible for my media outlet’s credibility. Captain America wasn’t the only one with a big shield and superpowers.

I softened my stance when my daughter became engaged the first time, launching a blog named “MOB Mentality” – as in Mother of the Bride. It was a way for me to wax poetic about a special time in our lives and hopefully let others know that if I could laugh at my experience, so could they. You might think that it was a freeing experience and in many aspects, it was, but it was also confining. In difficult situations, I refrained from expressing my true feelings so as to spare those people creating the problem. I found that to be more confining than enjoyable, so when the nuptials took place, I closed down the blog.

The kids divorced a year and a half later. Thankfully, the blog had nothing to do with it.

I stayed out of the blogging game with two subsequent engagements – that of my son and my daughter’s second engagement. Both of them are now married to people who make them blissfully happy and that’s how I want it to be.

During my degree pursuit, I had to blog for a class (a limited audience). Being fond of attention, I didn’t get nearly enough to make it worth my while, so that one was abandoned too. What can I say, sometimes I can be like the people I used to cover.

That’s not what I have planned for this blog. Bring on the world.

Thankfully, blogs today have evolved into credible and helpful sources. As newspapers, radio and television resources consolidate, thanks to America’s corporate greed, blogs have risen to fill the void. I find myself reading many of them daily, taking bits and pieces of knowledge, humor and life.

The title, Rockbottomreminders, is homage to my former newspaper column, which was entitled Rock Bottom. The reminder part is another attempt to let people know that my observations aren’t too far off from what they might be thinking or believing. It’s also close to the name of a defunct musical group, the Rock Bottom Remainders, whose musicians have included amazing writers Stephen King, Amy Tan, Dave Barry and Matt Groening, among others. They played their last gig in 2012. Their rock and roll lives forever on YouTube.

That said, I hope this gives me a little more discipline, something freelance writers struggle with constantly. At least I do. It will give me a chance to poke the bear with the proverbial stick while letting the muse pour forth her thoughts, opening the common jugular vein that pounds life into every writer. Hopefully people will comment. I promise not to use bad language if they don’t.

To this table, I bring the perspective of a baby boomer; raised in the ‘50s and ‘60s, I am AARPs favorite target. I am poised at the corner of Reinvention and Renaissance and know now how my mother’s perspective changed when she reached her 60s. You tend not to care quite as much about being careful, filters don’t work as well as they had to in the past and your audience learns more about the real you.

I’m going to cover politics, arts, consumerism, lifestyle and, one of my favorite phrases from junior high civics, “man’s inhumanity to man.” Sadly that’s still a daily dilemma.

I may make peace with the Oxford comma.

I might touch on religion (disclosure: lapsed Catholic with some great stories), will definitely mention Disney and I am an unabashedly proud pittie mama.

I abhor breed-specific legislation, discrimination and lima beans.

I believe we should have a reasonable expectation that our elected officials will do what we ask them to and be held to the consequence of being removed from office if they don’t.

And I can’t wait to hear what interests you.

Let’s make this a mutual learning experience, shall we?

Here we go……