[Final Update] The Year of Good Health...and Money

At the beginning of the year, I didn't make any resolutions, but I declared 2012 to be the Year of Good Health and Money. Sounds exciting, right? I wouldn't go that far, but it has been rewarding.

The update you saw three months ago wasn't looking good, but a lot has happened since then. Three weeks from the end of the year, and I've ticked off everything on the list. It took me all year to do it, but I DID IT.


  1. Weight: I lost 20 of the 30 pounds I wanted to lose (120 lbs total in the past two years), and I wear size 12 jeans. The last time I wore size 12 jeans was for about a minute in 1999.
  2. Anemia: The supplements weren't increasing my iron levels fast enough so I had IV iron infusions (FOUR OF THEM) and I am no longer anemic. Hopefully, I can maintain this level with supplementation.
  3. Dentist: Cleaning scheduled! I am not usually one to procrastinate going to the dentist, but when I left my job in June, we had to switch to my husband's insurance and my old dentist isn't on it. I don't mind going to the dentist, but I hate finding a new one.
  4. Weird Leg Thing: It hasn't come back, so let's consider it no big deal.
  5. Physical Activity: Well, four out of five isn't bad, right? This is still a struggle for me.


  1. Taxes: We met with the new accountant and got everything taken care of and, for the first time in years and years, I am not dreading the end of the year and the taxes that need to be done.
  2. Credit Card Debt: PAID OFF
  3. Budget: I never did get around to making one for 2012, but I made one for 2013 because I had started panic-checking the job boards. We will be fine for next year, with me continuing to be self-employed. I could use a couple more clients for Bossy Interactive, but I don't need to seek employment elsewhere.

What's in store for 2013? I'm thinking it will be the Year of Organization and Business Growth. I need to get this house, and the stuff in it, organized. To be fair to myself, I am one of the most organized people I know, so it's not that bad, but I want it organized to PERFECTION, or pretty damn close. On the business front, I need to set clear goals, and objectives, for 2013. Also, I need to look up the difference between goals and objectives again.

[Update] 2012: The Year of Good Health... and Money

Remember about nine months ago when I said this was going to be the year I take control of my health and my finances? If I were in school, I'd probably have a C- in Health and an F in Finance.

The good news first. I lost 20 more pounds, for a total of 120. I am eating much better and taking (almost) all of my supplements every day. I at least get the iron in every day. At the three-month check mentioned in the original post, my iron levels were up a bit, but still lower than normal. I am waiting on the results of my most recent blood test. I am hoping my levels are high enough that I at least reduce the amount of iron I have to take, if I can't stop taking it altogether.

The weird numb spot on my leg went away. Then came back. Then went away again. I still haven't had a mole check or the breast cancer gene test. Oh, and I am overdue for a dental cleaning because I need to find a new dentist.

On the financial front, I haven't done a damn thing. I left my corporate job three months ago and have been working for myself ever since. Business has been good, but I could use more work. In that time, I haven't made a budget, or projected how long our money will last, set any sort of threshold for deciding find another corporate job. I estimated that I have until the end of the year, but I stuck my head in the sand when it came to actually doing the math to verify that assumption.

And, we haven't caught up on our taxes yet. However, I made an appointment with an accountant and by the end of next week, all that tax crap should be in progress. I got the referral for the accountant from a friend who uses him as her business manager. I may have to go that route, especially now that I have two businesses.

Anyway, I have three months left in the year. I can still get this under control. I'm a procrastinator, but I (usually) make my deadlines.

20 Months After Gastric Bypass

I haven't been posting about my progress lately because it hasn't seemed like I have made any progress. I don't like to post about the minor backslides, or plateaus for the same reason I only record weight losses on my chart. With weight loss, I absolutely have to focus on the positive, or I get caught up in a vicious cycle of self-sabotage. Rather than try to figure out why or how I end up in that cycle, I just avoid it altogether. I only post when things are good. I only record my weight when it's down.

Speaking of which, I broke a months-long plateau and finally broke out of the 180s. Today, I weigh 179.8. I recorded my weight on, where I track everything. This is the chart showing my high weight, a few months before my surgery. It's hard to believe that two years ago, I weighed nearly 120 pounds more than I do now.


An Atheist's Lent

I always observed Lent when I was Catholic. Lent is the 40 days between Ash Wednesday (today) and Easter Sunday. It is a period of sacrifice in order to facilite self-reflection and growth. I could use all of those things. For the next 40 days, I am going to focus on the health part of my Year of Health and Finances. My sacrifice is going to be strict adherence to my post-surgical diet, exercise, and supplement regimen. STRICT.

2012: The Year of Good Health... and Money


I am anemic. I have been that way for about six months. It's a side effect of gastric bypass. My body does not absorb all of the nutrients from the food I eat. I've made it worse by not taking my iron supplements faithfully, and not eating the foods I should be eating. If I don't get my iron levels up in the next three months, I will need to have an IV iron infusion. My calcium and vitamin D levels are low as well. I haven't seen a nutritionist since I had surgery.

I have lost 100 lbs in the past year. My surgeon wants me to lose 30 lbs more in the next six months. If I had been exercising at all during the past year, that 30 lbs would already be gone. I weigh 195 right now. That would put me at a final weight of 165. I'd rather be 145.

I have a numb spot on my right calf that has yet to be diagnosed and did not response to a course of steroids. The next step is to get a referral to a neurologist. I've been putting that off.

I've never had a mole check with a dermatologist. I have a referral to see one, but I haven't made an appointment yet.

I need to be screened for the breast cancer gene. I'll ask about that about my six-month follow-up mammogram next month to check on the calcifications that are still in my right breast.

I haven't created a budget spreadsheet for at least five years.

My savings accounts and retirement accounts are as anemic as my body is.

I did not meet my goal of paying off all credit card debt by the end of the year.

We are woefully behind on our taxes.

All of this is going to change in 2012.

My first priority is health. My second priority is finances. With everything I do, I will ask myself, "Is this the healthiest choice I can make right now?" or, "Is this the best financial choice I can make right now?" and, in that order. For instance, is watching three episodes of Gossip Girl the healthiest choice I can make at that moment? No. I could do something more active. I could play Just Dance on the Wii with my girls, or go for a walk, or clean up clutter around the house, or prepare meals for the week, or go to bed and get a reasonable amount of sleep. Is watching three episodes of Gossip Girl before bed the best financial choice I can make at that moment? No. I could get tax paperwork together, or work on my 2012 budget spreadsheet, or list things for sale on Craigslist and eBay.

Health. Finances. That's it. If I can't get those two things under control, everything else falls apart. I'll still parent my children, and be a wife to my husband, and be a model employee, but I won't be taking any classes and I won't be making any committments to anyone else if there is something else I can be doing that would be better for my health and finances.

Ask the Poop Priestess

Pooppriestess This was originally published on Clark Shpiell Productions on February 10, 2004, as a follow up to The Poop Pagoda. A reader sent in a question for me.

Dear Michelle,

Your poignant article on the work/poo dilemma moved me from deep within my bowels. As you are the definitive scatological authority, I'd like your opinion on what I should have done in the following real-life experience:

I was on the back lot tram tour at Universal Studios. As we were about to enter the "western town," I started to get the shit sweats. I tried to breathe deeply and focus hoping it would go away, but it didn't. The worst part was that I had to keep a happy, surprised face on because I didn't want the two actors who were portraying cowboys in a "good ol' fashioned shoot-out" to think I wasn't enjoying their performance. The pain wouldn't go away, and I was trapped, because you couldn't get off the tram. At one point I envisioned that I would have to leap off the tram and run pell mell for one of the studio bungalows and use their shitter. And it wouldn't be an easy shit. It was going to be one of those long, painful, straining ones. As I was with two friends with whom I have not yet had discussion of personal poo habits, I couldn't tell them "Look, you guys go ahead in the Mummy Adventure 'cause I got to take about twenty minutes in the library. Either of you got a paper?" In the end, I held it and had to go on the Jurassic Park ride two more times.

Oh Poo Guru, what should I have done. WWMD?


Touching Cloth

* * *

Dear Touching Cloth,

I have no idea what the hell that sign off means. Now, in regard to your poop dilemma, I would have sweated out the angry bowels on the tram ride and lured the friends into the gift shop afterward, with an immediate, "I'll be right back." People lose all track of time in the consumeristic vortex created by amusement park gift shops. They might not even have missed you. Easy as pie.

Now, let's address your other issue. Your bowels were about to unleash themselves yet you still thought you were in for rough, straining session requiring grunts and magazines? In my experience, these symptoms belong to two entirely different categories of poop. I fear you are not getting enough fiber in your diet. I highly recommend the Blueberry Fibercakes from Zen Bakery. You can find them at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.

I know you were expecting something funnier, but poop is serious business.

Regularly Yours,

The High Priestess of the Poop Pagoda

Six Months After Gastric Bypass

I am hopefully at the end of a three-week weight loss stall. This is the longest stall I have had, so I am consoling myself with a loss of inches. Six months out from surgery, I have lost a total of 60 lbs. and 28 inches. I have gone from wearing size 26 and 4X, to wearing size 18 and 1X. My shoe size has gone from a 10 back down to a 9. On the negative side, my hair is falling out. The doctor said that this should stop in about three months. The new supplements I added seem to be helping as well.

Inches lost*:

  • 3.25 inches off my waist
  • 8 inches off my hips
  • 4.5 inches off my chest
  • 4.75 inches off each thigh
  • 2.75 inches off each calf
  • 2.25 inches off each arm
  • 2.25 inches off my neck (!)

Things I have been doing well:

  • Not eating too much
  • Eating enough protein
  • Wearing my Fitbit
  • Increasing my supplement intake

Things I need to do better:

  • Drink more fluids
  • Exercise more, and more consistently
  • Take all of my supplements (I had to add iron, B1, Omega-3, and Biotin based on my bloodwork last month)
  • Stop eating chips

*If you happen to look back at the last time I reported inches, you might notice some discrepancies. The last numbers were wrong. I think. Who knows?

The Capacity of My Pouch

The part of my anatomy where my food goes since I had surgery is called a "pouch." It was formerly the top part of my stomach. (The rest of my stomach is still in there, making digestive juices, which it adds to my intestines farther down the path. No food goes into that stomach anymore.) If I eat too much, I feel painfully full. My pouch rarely feels empty, though, so my appetite is greatly diminished.

Here are some examples to illustrate the capacity of my pouch:

  • Half of a small Lunchables
  • Most of a Taco Bell hard taco
  • One chicken thigh
  • One cup of thin turkey chili
  • 1/3 of a six-inch Subway sandwich on flatbread
  • Half a cup of pasta
  • 1/4 of an entree-sized salad in a restaurant
  • Most of a restaurant-sized hamburger patty
  • Two scrambled eggs
  • 1/4 of a deli sandwich
  • One, single-serving bag of chips
  • Two small crab cakes or one big crabcake
  • 8 medium-sized shrimp
  • One mini wheat pita from Trader Joe's with as much red pepper hummus as I can pile on it

Four Months After Gastric Bypass

I don't really want to post a weight loss update this month. I took pictures, but I didn't like them, so I don't want to post them. I didn't take my measurements because I hate doing that. I have lost almost 50 lbs. Almost. I have hit another stall and I can't quite get there. This stall will break, so I am not worried, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating in the moment.

I went to SXSW in Austin, TX four weeks ago. I came home four pounds lighter and addicted to diet soda again.

Ok, here are some pictures.

Highest weight ever:


Last month at SXSW:


Three Months After Gastric Bypass

As of today, I am down 41 lbs. I forgot to take my measurements at the beginning of the month, so I'll just wait until next month. I hate doing it. Those numbers are meaningless to me. I care more about the size of the clothes I wear. Right now, I am all 2s: 2X tops and size 22 pants. I am down one size in tops and two sizes in pants.

I actually have a lot of pants that fit me right now. I'm not quite sure how that happened. I have a pair of black chinos, a pair of black slacks, a pair of black jeans, and two pairs of blue jeans. The black jeans are are the only ones I can wear with flat shoes. All of the other pants have to be worn with tall shoes (read: four-inch platform wedges). This poses a bit of a problem since I am leaving in a few days to go to a conference that will entail five days of WALKING. I will probably buy another pair of jeans that I can wear with flat shoes. I can't remember the last time I owned six pairs of pants, all in the same size, that fit me well.

Related: I must stop spending so much money on clothes. I am going to have wait until I am in 18s to buy new clothes again.

Weight Loss Milestones

I have lost 35 lbs and I weigh 249 lbs. Getting under 250 was my first major milestone. Here is a list of all of them:

249 (under 250)

234 (50 lbs lost)

209 (75 lbs lost)

199 (under 200 and what I weighed when I got married)

195 (100 lbs down from my highest weight)

184 (100 lbs lost)

175 (what I weighed when I met my husband)

169 (my lowest weight as an adult)

149 (under 150)

139 (goal.. I am not sure if this is realistic)

Two Months After Gastric Bypass

I haven't taken pictures yet this month, but I did weigh and measure. The loss of inches this month isn't nearly as dramatic as last month, but I have lost more weight, so that's nice. (Surgery was 11/29/10.)

Since last month, I have lost:

  • 9 pounds (31 total)
  • .75 inches off my chest (2.5 total)
  • 0 inches off my hips (5 total)
  • .75 inches off my waist (2.75 total)
  • .25 inches off my neck (1.75 total)
  • (arm and leg measurements were a little screwy)

I found a great support group to go to once a month. They do a clothing exchange before the meeting, which is cool. I have a lot of 3X stuff to bring next month. I am continuing to do well with protein and I am doing better with the fluids. I am still not doing well with my supplements. I don't know how to make myself get into the habit on this one. I have always been terrible about. I also need to motivate myself to exercise. That's another thing I have always been terrible about.

Things I had been doing well with but I have not been doing so well lately are: eating things of little nutritional value, and consuming caffeinated, carbonated beverages. I am already back on track with the food. That part was actually pretty easy. (New tiny tummy helps immensely.) Oh, but I love diet soda. I can't drink it the way I used to, so there is no danger of returning to my former levels of mass consumption, but I can't seem to cut it out entirely.

One Month After Gastric Bypass

I was making myself a little crazy by weighing in every day, so I only weigh in once a week now, and I take my measurements monthly. I also take pictures monthly (but I won't be showing those for awhile).

Since my surgery on 11/29/10, I have lost:

  • 22 pounds
  • 2 inches off my chest
  • 5 inches off my hips
  • 5 inches off my waist
  • 1 inch off my neck
  • 1 inch off each arm
  • 2 inches off each calf
  • 2 inches off each thigh

Since my surgery, I have gained:

  • Clothes that fit me better
  • An easier time going up stairs
  • Dragon breath

Things I have been doing well:

  • Getting enough protein every day
  • Not eating things I shouldn't eat
  • Staying away from caffeine
  • Staying away from carbonated drinks

Things I need to improve:

  • Getting enough fluid every day
  • Trying new foods
  • Taking all of my supplements every day
  • Finding a support group

50 Reasons It Sucks to Be Fat

I am having gastric bypass surgery tomorrow. If you have been reading my autobiographical posts, you know I have been overweight for two-thirds of my life. I started looking into gastric bypass in February. I decided to go through with it in May, after my mom was killed in a car crash. I don't want to struggle with my weight until the day I die, like she did.

At my last weigh-in, a couple weeks ago, I weighed 286 pounds. I am 5'6" tall. I imagine I will weigh about 280 tomorrow when I go in for surgery. My scale is broken, so I don't know for sure.

I wrote the following list on July 11th, when I weighed 295 pounds, my highest weight ever.

  1. I weigh as much as the Olsen twins, plus one of their friends.
  2. My feet hurt.
  3. I'm not pretty anymore because my face is so fat.
  4. My knees hurt.
  5. I can't find cute clothes in my size.
  6. Even cute clothes in my size look like crap on me.
  7. I can't wear skirts because of the painful chafing of my thighs.
  8. I can't wear heels.
  9. Even my armpits have rolls.
  10. Skin tags.
  11. I can't do my own pedicures.
  12. Sex is [redacted]*
  13. My ankles swell up at the end of the day.
  14. I haven't worn a dress since my wedding day.
  15. Heartburn.
  16. Even one flight of stairs has me breathing heavy.
  17. I'm too heavy for my bike.
  18. No one ogles me.
  19. Stretch marks everywhere.
  20. I have two bellies, one below my waistband and one above it.
  21. My breasts are sad sacks.
  22. My butt moves independently of my body.
  23. I've damaged my body so much that when I do get to my goal weight, I'll need plastic surgery to attain even an approximation of a normal body.
  24. I rarely want to take my girls for a walk or to the park.
  25. I don't want to be seen in a bathing suit.
  26. I barely want to be seen fully clothed.
  27. I'm not as fun or as interesting as I used to be.
  28. I want [redacted]
  29. Shaving my legs is a chore.
  30. I don't even want to walk to the next block for lunch.
  31. I needed a seat belt extender on my last flight.
  32. My blood pressure and cholesterol levels have crept up (but are still normal).
  33. I sweat.
  34. I'm lethargic.
  35. I don't fit into the bath tub.
  36. I don't want to go to Magic Mountain anymore because I am afraid I won't fit on the rides.
  37. I don't have enough pictures of me with my kids.
  38. I'm worried about [redacted]
  39. My seatbelt buckle digs into my hip.
  40. I didn't buy a Miata because I thought I would look ridiculous.
  41. I can't play comfortably on the floor with my girls.
  42. I can't wear tank tops. I mean, I don't.
  43. I had to get my wedding rings resized.
  44. I had to turn down an opportunity to get a free mini-wardrobe from Gap for a blogging conference I [was] attending. They don't carry my size.
  45. When I was pregnant, I had to mail order most of my clothes.
  46. And no one could tell I was pregnant.
  47. [redacted]
  48. [redacted]
  49. I can't run.
  50. I am too embarrassed to take yoga classes again.

*This is from my journal. I didn't remember there were a few things that were a little too personal to post.

More than you want to know about my right breast

At the follow-up appointment with the surgeon on Monday, he removed the steri-strips that held the incision together. The wound closed up nicely and looks good. In fact, you can barely see it because he made the incision right along the edge of the areola. If you compare Righty to Lefty (a.k.a. Biggie and Smallie), the areola looks a little jacked up, but that's fine since it never fully recovered from pregnancy and breast feeding. I'm just glad I don't have a Frankenstein boob. Or cancer.

Biopsy Outcome: Benign

The biopsy results were benign. I have to get another mammogram in six months to make sure all the calcifications are gone because the surgeon and the pathologist could only find four calcifications in the tissue that was removed. He thinks he got them all and that the mammogram will confirm that. Regardless, it's not cancer, so that's good.

Biopsy Update

I had the biopsy today. The surgeon didn't get all the calcifications. There was one (of six) for sure that he couldn't find. I will see him next week for the results and then I will have another mammogram in a few weeks.

There is an 80-90% chance that the calcifications are benign. Most women would have simply had another mammogram in six months to look for any change. Biopsy was recommended for me because of my family history. I couldn't have a stereotactic biopsy in the office because the calcifications were too close to the skin. If these are benign, I am going to ask that the simply watch any remaining ones instead of going back in for them.

I give Leah Peterson odd advice.

You might know Leah Peterson as leahpeah from leahpeah and leahpeah. I have, on two occasions, given her strange advice about her body. It's not like I run around giving people advice about their bodies whenever I can. In fact, I don't think I recall ever giving anyone else advice about their bodies, yet I have done this to Leah twice. Two times.

On the first occasion, Leah had posted on her blog that one of the negative side effects of a new medication she was taking was bruxism. She asked for advice about how to deal with this. I clench my teeth when stressed, so I had experience. Of course, she could get a mouthguard for sleeping, but a person can't wear that all day long. I told her what I do when I find myself clenching my teeth. I flatten out my tongue and place it between all of my upper and lower teeth. (I'm doing it now.) With my tongue there, I can't clench my teeth hard enough to give myself a headache. I can even do this in my sleep now. She emailed me later to say that it was helping.

On the second occasion, Leah and I were chatting about her upcoming mega road trip while our husbands loaded her old couch into my van. Leah was telling me about her elaborate pillow system and how it was going to cause some trouble on the road trip because lugging seven (nine?) pillows in and out of the van every night wasn't feasible. I told her about the system I used when I was pregnant, which involved two body pillows. Now, I forget exactly how the conversation veered in this direction, but I soon found myself suggesting to Leah that, when sleeping on her side, she cram her nightgown between her breasts to keep them from sweating. It works, as I know from personal experience. Last night, as I was cramming my nightgown between my breasts in preparation for sleep, I recalled this conversation with Leah, and that is how this post came to be. She never emailed me to say this piece of advice was helpful.

Do you have a weird body problem that needs solving? Apparently, I have weird advice for you.