Why do I have so much self-esteem? I work at it.

Self esteem. Pass it on.

Clearly, I would not be friends with people who are not awesome, so I am mystified by one friend's low self-esteem. I told her that, if I could, I would gladly give her some of my self-esteem because sometimes I feel like I have too much. We were chatting online with a few of our other girlfriends at the time, and one asked why is it that I have so much self-esteem when they have so little. I didn't always.

Why do I have so much self-esteem? Innate narcissism is the most likely answer. Thinking that I am better than most people I meet can't be hurting either.

Kidding! Mostly.

It's much easier on yourself if you are kind to yourself and think nice things about yourself. You can stop thinking negative thoughts about yourself. There's a psychological technique called thought-stopping that is rather simple to master. If you Google it, you'll see that it doesn't work for panic disorders or chronic worry, but it absolutely works for replacing negative self-talk with positive self-talk. Have a couple of positive phrases about yourself worked out in advance. Every time you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself, say, "STOP!" in your mind, then think the positive thought. It is that easy.

I am not the prettiest, or the slimmest, or the smartest, or the funniest, or the anything-est, but I am great. I like who I am. I like most things about myself, and I am actively trying to change the things I don't like. That is the best that I can do, so there is no need for me to be the one to berate myself for anything. I am a pathological overachiever. This makes me come down very hard on myself, but it is almost always about how much I can achieve, not who I am.

Rejection is difficult for anyone, myself included. It stings, but I shake it off with no damage to my self-esteem. When I am rejected (for a job or a potential client, by a man...), I chalk it up to fit. I don't take it personally, at least not for too long. I like who I am, and I can't be anything else other than that, so if I am rejected for something about who I am, it's fine. It means I was not a good fit, and that situation would not have ended well.

It does not mean I was not smart enough, talented enough, pretty enough, funny enough...

I am more than enough. I am awesome.


2 Years, 5 Months After Weight Loss Surgery

I have friends now who have never seen me at my heaviest, or even close to it. They don't know me as a formerly very fat person, only as I am right now. For the people who have known me longer, my struggle with weight loss was so very visible, as was my success.

I'm almost done. That's a scary thought.

120 Pounds Gone

With weight loss surgery, you get two years tops of weight loss benefit. After that, you have to try twice as hard to lose weight half as quickly. In just under two years, I lost 120 lbs. I went from 296 to 176. For the past six months, I have been maintaining my weight between 176 and 169. (Side note: I've been at 169 once before, when I was 24. I've never weighed less than that as an adult.) I wasn't trying to maintain, but I didn't realize that I needed to change my behavior again in order to keep losing weight.

1000 Calories Is Not a Lot

I have an end goal in mind. I'm not there yet. I need to work much harder than I have been to get there. Since I had logged onto Livestrong to get that weight chart, I decided to track my food today. I was SHOCKED to see that in order to lose 2 lbs/week, I should be consuming an 1100 cal/day diet. At my highest weight, to lose 2 lbs/day, I could consume twice that amount. It takes fewer calories to keep this smaller body running. I don't even know what an 1100 calorie day looks like. Not really. I need to diligently track my food intake again until I get a handle on it. I consumed 1300 calories today, and exercised a little. I only took half of my supplements, but I had 109g of protein. Tracking what I eat does more than help me lose weight, it makes me focus on nutrition.

Bombshell Unfinished

At the beginning of the year, one of the three words I chose to help me reach my goals was "Bombshell." I thought that focusing on my looks (because I am oh so vain) would keep me on track with weight loss. I was able to stick with what I'd been doing for two years, but I didn't realize that I needed a new plan. I know it now.

There's another piece to this body puzzle -- a few extra pieces that don't belong. An unpleasant byproduct of massive weight loss is extra skin. Oh, the skin. My arms look twice the width they are because half of that is skin. Naked, the rest of my body looks like a melted candle. And, I hate when I talk about this to someone with a mom belly or chubby arms, because she says, "Wear a tank top if you want to wear a tank top," or, "I have a pooch, too." It's not the same thing. This is not normal wear and tear. I can hide it with foundation garments and clothes, but until I have this extra skin surgically removed, I am going to feel like I am unfinished.

I plan to have three procedures done in two separate sessions. I am hoping to have the first two surgeries in August, and the third in November or December. I'd like to schedule them around school vacations so that my aunt (a teacher) will be available (hopefully) to help care for my kids during the hardest part of the recovery. I'm waiting until August, so I can fill this skin with more muscle and lose more fat.

Now for Some Pictures

Before

This picture was taken at my highest weight, in 2009.

Before 296lbs

After

This picture was taken within the past month.

DSC_0166

 


2013: Bombshell. Marathon. Pen Pals.

2012

Last Year, instead of resolutions, I had two themes, and I called it the "Year of Good Health and Money." There were quite a few goals to accomplish in those areas, but my main focus for the year was getting my health in order and getting our family's finances under control. I give myself a B for Good Health. I worked out pretty regularly for six months and then came to a dead stop, but I got my supplementation worked out, got my anemia under control, found a new dentist, and lost 20 pounds. I give myself an A for Money. I cut expenses, took care of some scary tax stuff, eliminated our credit card debt, and created a budget for 2013 that allows me to continue to work for myself.

2013

This year, as I was contemplating my themes (I was leaning toward Vanity and Business), I came across Chris Brogan's Brave New Year program. It takes my themes idea and goes so much deeper. I am going to accomplish big things this year and I am going to need guidance to do it. So, I joined up.

Similar to my themes, is Chris's idea of three words for the year. The three words you choose provide a framework for your goals and, ultimately, all of your actions throughout the year. As with last year, before making a big decision, or when I finding myself stuck, I will ask myself how does what I am doing right now align with my three words. If it doesn't, then I need to do something else.

My Three Words

Bombshell

There are two definitions of "bombshell." First is something that is sensational, shocking, surprising, or amazing. Second is a very attractive woman.

I hope that I am able to balance my vanity and narcissism with my intelligence, humor, and generosity, but that doesn't make me any less vain. The part of "Good Health" that I failed last year was physical fitness. Fitness is measurable, but it's impact on my overall health is not as apparent, so it was easier to focus on the things I could see measured with a simple blood test.

I know myself very well and I know that appealing to my sense of vanity is one way to get me to do something. (Now you know it, too.) Working out (to fit into a smaller size, to be more attractive, to have slimmer legs) and taking better care of my skin (so my face is prettier), and eating well (to slim down, to keep my hair shiny, to keep my skin clear) are going to be easier for me to do on a regular basis if I think about how it makes me look in the near term rather than how it affects my health in the long term. Is that messed up? Yes, but that's how I work.

Going back to the first definition. I intend to be the sort of person who makes an impact. I am going to be introducing my company and our products to many people this year. I am going to be asking a lot of people for their advice, or assistance, or money. I intend to leave those people amazed and impressed so that they want to do business with me.

Marathon

This word is not about running, it is about continually moving and doing. I intend to accomplish big goals this year and the only way I am going to get that done is continue to take the next step, even when I don't want to, even when it hurts, even if I am pretty sure I am going to fall on my ass when I do.

If I let myself get overwhelmed by the size of my goals or the length of my task list, I freeze. I get stuck where I am and I do not move foward. This word is to remind me that I can't stop. Yes, the goal is big and the steps to get there are many, but I only need to take one at a time. When I am starting to feel overwhelmed, I need to pull back from the big goal for a bit and focus on the next step. A crucial piece to this is to have a well defined plan so that I always know what the next step is.

This word is also here to help me get through those tasks that I simply do not want to do. As co-founder of a bootstrapped startup, there are a lot of those tasks for me to do right now. We don't have the funds to hire someone else to do them.

Pen Pals

This word took the longest for me to decide. I was looking for something about developing deeper relationships with people in my network. I have built a broad network, but I tend to maintain only shallow relationships with the people in it. Sadly, this includes family and friends.

I rely on social media so much for communication because it is quick and easy, but it also allows me to continue on with shallow interactions. Writing real letters is something that I used to love to do, and it enabled me to get to know someone more personally, and share more of myself. I had a pen pal in Lithuania when I was in grade school. I remember so many details of her life, and I can still picture her unique style of printing.

This word is not about having literal pen pals. It is included in this list to remind me to go deeper with my communications. I intend to form deeper relationships with the people in my personal and business networks, no matter the method we use most to communicate.

Your Turn

Do you make resolutions for the year? Do you set goals? Have themes? Make vision boards? Want to try this three words thing? I'd love to hear about it.


[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.

Health

  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.

Finances

  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 Livestrong.com, 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.

Weight_20120719


Entrepreneurial Kinks

I never realized how many things in my life, besides work, were tied to a regular work day. Even though my schedule was flexible, and I worked from home a couple times a week, there was still a rhythm to my day that dictated how and when I did certain things. Now that it's gone, there are a few kinks I'll need to work out. For example:

  • If I don't have an office to go to, or a business-related appointment, I will wear the same outfit every single day.
  • Without my usual morning work routine, I don't feed myself until early afternoon.
  • My skin looks better. There is no explanation for this.
  • I need to get a serviceable laptop. I used my work laptop for everything, so I only have a desktop for home. I HATE working at my desk.
  • A new laptop isn't in the budget right now, so I need to get a new desk chair instead. My husband and I share a desk chair. He works from home a lot, but he always works at his desk. I always worked from the couch (or my big leather arm chair), so we never bothered to replace our second desk chair when it broke. As much as I love my red wooden dining chairs, they were not made for work.
  • I used my work calendar for everything, too. Now I have to transfer all kinds of stuff to my Google Calendar, and I need to make sure my Google Contacts are up-to-date.
  • Just like they wanted the laptop back, my former company also wants the iPhone back. (Cue weeping.) At least they are letting me keep it until I get my own phone.

It will all work out. These are nothing. Tiny, insignificant details compared to the huge weight that has been lifted off my shoulders. I felt such a sense of relief the moment I left my job. I have no fear or anxiety about what's going to happen next. I have only plans to make and work to do and life to enjoy.


Take This Job and Shove It

A big, big thing happened last week. I left my corporate job. I had been working toward that goal for a few months and was planning to make it happen at the end of the summer. Circumstances changed and it happened sooner. NOW I GET THE WHOLE SUMMER OFF. Not really. I get exactly two weeks off and then it is back to work, even harder than before, but with ONE THOUSAND TIMES the amount of enjoyment I will derive from it. Most of my effort will be going into Sprawl3, a start-up I co-founded with a couple friends and former co-workers. We are developing white label mobile apps for small businesses. I will also continue to take on projects through Bossy Interactive, my consultancy.

Right now, though, I am not thinking of that. Here's how the past eight days have gone for me:

  • Saturday: Move to a new house
  • Sunday: Unpack like a fiend
  • Monday: Run one thousand errands
  • Tuesday: Unexpectedly leave my day job
  • Wednesday: So many boxes
  • Thursday: Why do I need to go to Target so many times
  • Friday: Spend the entire day getting ready for my three-year-old's birthday party
  • Saturday: Happy Birthday!
  • Sunday: More birthday things, a couple boxes unpacked, start writing this post instead of going to bed like I should have

I could not have left my job at a better time. For the next two days, I have  Sprawl3 work to do, and more moving-related things to take care of, but then I am on vacation for a few days with my husband for our 10th anniversary. When I return from that, it's back to work. For myself. And, take it from me, I am the best boss ever.


What I Wore: 6/13/12

What I Wore: 6/13/2012

 

I haven't done one of these posts in awhile, mostly because you have already seen everything I own and there are only so many ways I can put those things together. But, summer is nearly here, and I am buying some new things. Not that you would know it from this outfit, which includes a tweed jacket I found at a thrift store for $18. We get "June Gloom" here in SoCal. It is gray and chilly, usually burning off in the afternoons, until after Independence Day.

Alton Brown's Mini Man Burgers

I'm not one for meal planning, so when I realized I needed to cook a pound of ground beef before it spoiled, making sliders for dinner was a spur of the moment idea. Google was it's usual productive self and coughed up this recipe from the Food Network.

Alton Brown's Mini Man Burgers

At first I thought the recipe was for sliders, like the really tiny ones, but then I noticed it called for three-inch buns. I had a pack of slider buns in the freezer that were two-inches across (like the size of Hawaiian rolls). This wasn't a big deal, of course, but it did require some modification of the instructions.

One thing I loved about this recipe was that I never had to touch the meat. You put a piece of parchment down on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan, and put the meat on top of it. Then you cover the meat with plastic wrap. I used four or five pieces of plastic wrap to make sure it hung over all the edges of the cookie sheet. Then you roll out the meat with a rolling pin (or a bottle of Malibu Rum) until it completely covers the pan.

Malibu Rum rolling pin
Next, you remove the plastic wrap and cover the meat with the seasonings. Then you lift one side of the parchment and fold the meat in half onto itself. Next time I make this recipe, I will add an extra step at this point. I will leave the parchment where it is and cover it with a fresh piece of plastic. Then I will lightly roll it again to make sure that it is really in the corners of the pan, that it is an even thickness, and that the two halves become one melded layer.

After you peel back the parchment, Alton Brown instructs you to cut the meat into eight equal squares for three-inch burgers. For two-inch burgers, I cut the meat into twelve squares, which were the perfect size. Using a spatula, I slid the squares off the parchment and straight into a frying pan. (I don't have a griddle, which Alton Brown suggested using.)

The burgers were delicious, juicy and nicely seasoned. I definitely recommend this recipe. Even my husband liked it.


A Hole in My Closet

Oldnavytee
It has been hot here the last couple days which has revealed a gaping hole in my wardrobe. I have exactly one shirt I can wear when it is hot outside. (See above.) It doesn't look like it would be great for hot weather, but it is tissue-thin. I wore it yesterday. I am wearing it again today because, as I mentioned, I don't have anything else. Also, I can get away with that because I am not going into the office.

The problem is my arms. This isn't a "I hate my chubby arms" insecurity that a lot of women have. I have batwings, and my batwings have their own batwings. I have always had big arms, but losing so much weight so fast has made them so much worse. Trust me when I say they are hideous. That is a statement of fact, not an exaggeration.

Most of the time, I wear a cardigan over a cami, or a cardigan over a dress, or something with long sleeves. Last weekend, we went to the fair and I just couldn't do it. It was so hot. I took off my cardigan and hoped we didn't run into anyone we knew. That's not going to work for me for the rest of the summer.

I'm open to suggestion here. Do you have a favorite hot weather top with sleeves? I have some shopping to do. Fortunately, I am a world class competitive shopper.


Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

I was invited to take part in a cupcake challenge at work. Almost immediately, I knew I wanted to make cookies and cream cupcakes, but I wasn't quite sure how to go about doing it because I am so not a baker. My standard is chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting. Why? Because I found two recipes that are pretty much foolproof. I didn't think those would be fancy enough for a cupcake challenge though, so I fancied them up with processed foods.

Don't these look amazing? I am seriously impressed with myself.

Cupcake_mine

Here's how I did it:

I made the Pioneer Woman's Best Chocolate Sheet Cake Ever, my preferred chocolate cake recipe. It makes 24 cupcakes. Reduce the baking time to 17 minutes. This cake is so ridiculously moist that you almost can't overcook it. It's a great recipe if you want to make your cake a day ahead, because it won't dry out.

I followed Bakerella's suggestions, from her Cookies and Cream Cupcakes recipe, about adding the Oreos. For the cupcake portion, I quartered regular Oreo cookies and put one cookie in the bottom of each cupcake liner. I filled them about 3/4 full with batter, covering the cookies completely.

For the buttercream frosting, I followed a recipe of unknown origin, but it is easy to remember.

  • One pound of unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • Two pounds of powdered sugar
  • Two teaspoons of vanilla
  • Heavy cream
  • (For the cupcakes above, add six tablespoons of Oreo cookie crumbs)

In your stand mixer, beat the butter until fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Seriously, SLOWLY. My kitchen was a disaster after this part. Put the vanilla in whenever. After all the sugar is incorporated, add a little bit of heavy cream at a time until the frosting is the consistency you want it to be.

To make it cookies and cream frosting, Bakerella suggested two to three tablespoons of fine Oreo crumbs. I think I used six. When I tasted the frosting after three tablespoons, it didn't taste cookie enough for me, but it was prettier than the final product. Also, next time, I think I will only use one teaspoon of vanilla. (Note: For the crumbs, I crushed regular Oreos in my magic bullet blender, with the cream included.)

Once the cupcakes cooled, I used a pastry bag and a huge closed star tip to swirl the frosting up high enough to hold an Oreo Dubl Stuff cookie. (This is the frosting kit I have.) Since these were for a competition and I had never used a pastry bag before, I did quite a few practice runs on waxed paper before trying to frost the cupcakes.

Let me know if you try these, and if you are brave enough to calculate the calories! For Christmas, I am going to try a version using Trader Joe's Peppermint Joe Joes, and maybe some crushed candy canes.


What I Wore: 3/14/12

I am getting a new corporate headshot taken. We were told to dress business casual, in dark solid colors. Every time something like this comes up, I need to buy new clothes because I am still shrinking out of my old ones (albeit at a much slower rate now). For this outfit, I only bought the blazer. I had everything else already.

What I Wore: 3/14/12

 


What I Wore: 3/12/12

I wore a ridiculous number of items on my body today, yet I was still chilly when I went outside after lunch. Here it is, from top to bottom:

  • Silver hoop earrings
  • Silver mommy necklace
  • Bra
  • Shaping camisole
  • Black ribbed tank for layering
  • Gray ribbed rank with large, graphic floral pattern
  • Black cardigan
  • Black La Mer watch
  • Wedding rings
  • Panties
  • Black tights
  • Denim pencil skirt
  • Socks
  • Boots
What I Wore: 3/12/12

 


Vicarious Shopping: Nothing Over $50

Nothing Over $50

 

Dorothy Perkins knot dress
$44 - dorothyperkins.com

 

Sugarhill Boutique heart dress
€30 - zalando.de

 

H M stripe dress
£25 - hm.com

 

Belted dress
£22 - axparis.co.uk

 

 

H M layered dress
£25 - hm.com

 

Platform wedge shoes
$42 - kohls.com

 

Dollhouse high heel boots
$29 - makemechic.com

 

Open toe shoes
£30 - bankfashion.co.uk

 

 

 

 

Monsoon gold cluster ring
£12 - monsoon.co.uk

 

Beach jewelry
$34 - macys.com

 

Flower jewelry
$8.99 - amazon.com

 

 

Leather jewelry
€17 - colette.fr

 

ASOS neon jewelry
$11 - asos.com

 

Zara flower jewelry
$50 - zara.com

 

Shiny belt
$44 - lodis.com

 

 

All Saints buckle belt
$50 - allsaints.com