Archive | Weight Loss

A Year Post-Op: What I Want You to Know About a Tummy Tuck and Muscle Repair

I’ve mentioned before in passing that I had a tummy tuck (technical term: abdominoplasty–which makes the surgery sound more serious…and more accurate honestly) and a muscle repair. It’s not something I just scream to the world because people like to assume the tummy tuck did all the work and that I just let a surgeon fix my body/get me in shape/take all the fat off. And don’t get me wrong, the tummy tuck DID do amazing things for me (they removed 5.5 pounds of EXCESS SKIN, y’all!), but it didn’t make me lose 95 pounds. No, changing my eating habits and going to the gym did that. I like to think that it accentuated my hard work, but it was/is my hard work.

The ONLY difference in these two photos is the 5.5 pounds of skin the doctor removed. Isn’t it crazy what was hiding underneath the extra skin?! (I went on to lose another 37 pounds after the pictures on the right.)

The picture on the left is of me at my heaviest. I lost 53 pounds (the two top left pictures are me after that weight loss) BEFORE my tummy tuck. The picture on the right is of me after I lost a total of 95 pounds around nine months post-op. You can see itty bitty ab muscles forming!

Now, I went into the surgery pretty blind. I have a close family member who had one about fifteen years ago and I asked questions, but I realize now I didn’t even know WHAT to ask!

So here’s what I think you may need to know if you’re considering a tummy tuck in the future.

  • A tummy tuck is NOT just a tummy tuck.

Sometimes it can be. It COULD just be the removal of excess skin. But that’s actually pretty rare. Most women–dare say 85%, if I had to guess–also need a muscle repair (because of diastasis recti–ab muscles that didn’t close after pregnancy or weight loss or something similar).  There are four types of diastasis recti: open (muscles split apart kind of around the belly button), open below the navel, open above the navel, and the most severe kind: completely open (meaning your abdominal muscles are split apart from the top of them to the very bottom). Because I never halfway do anything, mine of course was the most severe. I had a FIVE-INCH separation down the length of my entire abdomen (caused by my swelling from preeclampsia with MM–I gained 19 pounds in 3 days with her and it gave me crazy amounts of stretch marks and ruined my abs). My split was so bad that when I was pregnant with Lawson I could do a kind of half sit-up and if I held it for 30 seconds or so he would move his head and stick his head up through my abs (he was breach the whole time)–I’m sure he thought it was the coolest thing ever. But y’all, that is one serious ab split! And that, dear friends, is where the hard part comes in.

What they do for a tummy tuck and muscle repair is cut you kind of like a csection, but all the way across (my incision is 22″ long), fold/pull all your skin up to the tip/top of your abdominal muscles and repair (i.e.: stitch) the abdominal muscles back together. After the muscle repair they do liposuction on your flanks (sides) to even it out, and then they pull the skin down to make it taut and cut off any excess skin (remember, I had 5.5 pounds of excess skin removed!), they’ll cut out your belly button and reattach it in the middle of your new stomach. They insert two drains on either side of your mons pubis (the front part of your hoo-ha; these get removed 1-2 weeks after surgery usually). There are tons of videos online showing this procedure, but I didn’t look at them before my surgery. I didn’t want to see it (still don’t. Ick.).

So as you can see it’s not “just” removing the skin. It took right at three hours for mine, which is an average amount of time. You’re put completely under, but because insurance doesn’t cover it (so every single minute you’re there you are being billed) you do it as outpatient surgery and leave the surgery center/hospital after an hour or so in recovery.

  • Wait. If you have a medical problem (like diastasis recti) why doesn’t insurance pay for it?!

Great question. And I didn’t even think about turning my surgery into insurance since I thought it was purely cosmetic. I didn’t realize the severity of my muscle split (because I had so much excess skin covering it) until my first post-op appointment with my doctor. And he probably didn’t mention it at my consultation appointment because plastic surgeons (in general) hate dealing with insurance. Since my surgery one of my friends has had a tummy tuck and had a similar abdominal tear and her insurance paid for basically all of it. You live and learn, I guess. As far as cost: in Atlanta it cost $10,100. I’ve met some women who have gone to foreign countries like the Dominican Republic, Columbia, or Mexico (to name a few) and their surgeries have been as little as $3,000. I didn’t feel comfortable (actually, it didn’t even cross my mind) with anything but American medical care, but that’s just me.

  • What’s the recovery like?

I’ve had a lot of surgery in my life. Easy stuff like my tonsils out and my wisdom teeth removed. Semi-easy stuff like two csections. Medium stuff like two ovarian cancer surgeries (10″ incisions both times). Hard stuff like a breast reduction (went from a J-cup to a D-cup). Very hard stuff like a kidney surgery with a stint and drain (12″ incision).

I say all that to tell you, I understand pain. I understand recovery. But y’all. Y’ALL. If you get nothing out of this entire post understand this clearly: this surgery (really meaning the muscle repair) is the hardest surgery I’ve ever had. I would say it’s like ALL my surgeries COMBINED. I am not exaggerating in the slightest.

The first two or three days I remember nothing. It was all a blur of pain. For the first fourteen days I slept on the couch. I stayed on the couch 99.9% of the day. I was unable to get up on my own. I was unable to shower on my own. I was unable to get to the toilet on my own. I was on pain medicine around the clock. From day 15-20 I made a lot of improvement and could take a shower by myself, put on my own clothes, and sit up on the couch. By 21 days post-op I was 75% again and driving (still spending 50% of my time on the couch). By 28 days I was 90% again and could pick up my 20-pound son (yes, I couldn’t lift anything even for one second that was over five pounds for 28 days and it hurt my heart wanting to pick up my nine month old but not able to; I didn’t realize that part of the recovery until right before I was wheeled back to surgery).  I was able to go grocery shopping again and return to a normal lifestyle. By the six-week mark I was 100% and back at the gym (low impact; regular workouts I waited until 8 weeks post-op). I did my tummy tuck at the beginning of my summer break so I had nine weeks before I had to go back to work. If I had to guess when I could have gone back I would say three weeks would be the absolute minimum (and I would have been exhausted at the end of the day), but by four weeks I would have been okay.

  • What else should I know about post-op?

Swelling. Because of your extensive incision they cut through your lymphatic system so your fluid collects in your abdomen after surgery until it reconnects. It’s like you grow in girth as the day goes on from the fluid buildup. You could start out first thing in the morning with a size 6 waist, for instance, and end up with a size 12 waist by 8pm, especially if you’re outside in the heat or working out. That’s why it’s important to wear a compression garment after surgery. Some women just wear light Spanx, some women wear the tightest faja they can squeeze themselves into. I wore something in the middle (mine was from Leonisa). I stopped swelling right at six months (which is average; I’ve met some women who continue to swell past the one-year mark and I can’t even imagine the frustration) and stopped wearing my garment then as well.

  • This is a pretty intense surgery. Are there any complications?

Yes, unfortunately. And of course I got one of them. I can’t speak for all complications, feel free to google them if you dare, but I can tell you about mine. When I went for my one week followup appointment (let me stop here and stay: I do NOT like at all that I did not see my surgeon for an entire week; I also do NOT like that I was instructed to NOT touch my bandages at all. I was told not to shower, not to touch any bandages or change them) I had what looked like scabs on the front of my incision–about 5″ or so across. It was necrosis. That’s a fancy word for “tissue death”. Don’t google it. Trust me. It’s “common”, relatively-speaking, when you have an area that has a lot of scar tissue (I had two c-sections and two ovarian cancer surgeries in that area already). At my two week post-op the doctor used tweezers and pull the scab-like thing off and underneath was a hole. This is called wound tunneling. It goes hand-in-hand with necrosis. It took 63 days for my incision to close.

There is so much I’m leaving out. Like, how my plastic surgeon told me I had an infection and refused to ever use the word “necrosis” (scared of a lawsuit/documentation on his record) and told me to clean it with peroxide twice a day and gave me crazy strong antibiotics–which is 100% the WRONG treatment (and necrosis is not an infection and does not need antibiotics). How I ended up having to go to a wound clinic for five weeks and use Santyl to get rid of the yellow slough, how I had to pack the hole twice a day (wet-to-dry dressing) with Dakins solution-soaked stringy gauze (with a very long Q-Tip, ewww), how I had to use medical grade honey and cover it with bandages, how they had to measure it every time I went to the wound clinic to make sure the depth was getting shallower (again, ewwww) and how they had to cut around and inside the hole with a scalpel to make it bleed to stimulate healing (again, EWWWWW). I could go on and on. It was a lot. I’m glossing over it. If you want to see pictures of my wound healing I can show them to you–I’m actually really proud of what my body was able to do, but I don’t want to gross people out. But please know that if you found this post and are suffering from necrosis I am here for you and will help you in any way I can.

  • Wow. A tummy tuck is a lot different than I thought! So would you recommend it?

Yes. 100%. I know I just went through how hard and painful it was, but once the recovery period was over–I would say honestly about three months post-op–I was so happy I did it. And I still am. The surgery repaired my torn apart body (something no amount of exercise could ever touch) and it removed excess skin. And y’all, that skin removal changed my very being–it makes me get teary-eyed just thinking about it. I started doing yoga last August. I never did it before because I was horrified to think about if my shirt rode up during a pose and someone saw my tummy. And just a couple of nights ago I was doing a pose and a good 10″ of my skin was showing and I did not care at all. I go to Zumba and sweat and sometimes I even wipe my face with the hem of my shirt and I don’t care that my stomach shows. I even wear bikinis (something I hadn’t done since I was 12 until late last summer)! The surgery has pushed me to physically challenge myself (I had lost 53 pounds prior to surgery and another 42 pounds afterwards). It has changed my life.

If you have any questions please feel free to comment or even email me at twougaalums (at) bellsouth {dot} net and I will answer them. Hope you all have a great weekend–I’m going to the mountains with some of my favorite sorority sisters for our annual girls’ weekend and I can’t wait!

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Weight Loss with PCOS 101: Tips + Tricks

The past couple of Fridays I’ve been talking about how I lose 95 pounds while having PCOS.

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So two things: 1. I took this photo so I could show y’all my newest sports bra next week that is cut extra high and is extra long (perfect for yoga!), but when I looked at it I realized I have something going on in my “ab area”–could it be ab muscles? I honestly don’t know because I’ve never seen them before! HA! And 2. I know I post the same ‘before’ picture often and that’s simply because while I’ve never minded having my picture taken I used to edit them hardcore so I wouldn’t look so big. I found this photo on my mom’s computer that she took (both pics are unedited, by the way). 

Today I’m going to talk about my tips and tricks…the things that aide in my weightloss and kept/keep me accountable. I’m really excited about today because I have always struggled with dedication to a diet and I think I’ve finally found some things that work for me and can’t wait to share them with you. 🙂

~ Eight Weight Loss Tips ~

  1. Water. Girl, you gotta drink your water. Lots of it. I try to drink half of my body weight (in ounces) every day–for instance, if you weigh 200 pounds I would drink at least 100 ounces of water everyday. I got this water bottle off Etsy a while back and I love how it has marks on it–it gives me water goals. I find that when I drink my water I not only feel more full (and therefore less hungry…and I only eat when I’m hungry, remember?) BUT I’m also less bloated. You wouldn’t think adding water would make you retain less water, but it totally does. Other than cream in my morning coffee, I only drink water (I can’t remember the last time I had juice…or a beer!)
  2. Drop the diet drinks. I was a Diet Coke queen. I drank them all day long, but the day I had Lawson I stopped cold turkey (I was breast feeding). What I noticed when I started drinking Diet Cokes again after I weaned him was that I would bloat AND I would get hungrier on the days I had them. I have no idea why–maybe because caffeine is a diuretic so I was dehydrated?  I also found I craved sugar more the days when I had a Diet Coke. Again, I have no idea why since Diet Coke doesn’t have sugar…just pointing out what it did to me.
  3. Weigh yourself. I love all these women that say to throw the scale away and that weight is just a number. And yeah, I get what they’re saying–you are beautiful the way you are (you really are!) AND your weight may go up but your clothes become looser (with weight training, for instance), but it does not work for me one bit. AT ALL. In fact, if I only weigh myself once a week I will 100% of the time gain weight. I have to monitor my weight every other day or so. For Christmas I asked for this Polar scale. It is AMAZING because it connects (via wireless Bluetooth) with my Polar A300 watch and my watch stores my weight.
  4. And speaking of my Polar A300 watch (this link is for both the watch + heart rate monitor; here is just the watch)–I don’t know what I did without it before. I synch my watch to my computer (via USB) about once a week (I also charge it during this time, but can get 2-3 weeks out of one charge) and I get a graph that shows my daily steps, my daily calories burned (it calculates that with the wireless bluetooth heart monitor I wear), my sleep, and my weight. It is so perfect for me and I can’t recommend my watch, heart rate monitor, and scale enough.
  5. Go to bed hungry…or at least not full. If my stomach starts growling after 7pm I won’t eat. Back when I had gestational diabetes the later I ate in the evenings, the worse my fasting (blood sugar level when you wake up) number would be. Also, I’ve never woken up in the middle of the night hungry so it’s kind of nice to know my body is using my stored fat to run on at night–I’m losing weight without having to do a thing–sweet!
  6. DietBet. Once you find a challenge you like (here’s a list of the current ones now) you bet (usually $35, but can range from $20-100) that you will lose 4% of your body weight in 28 days (note: there are also six month- and year-long games). They give you a weigh in word and you write it on a sticky note and take a couple of pictures–one of your full body on the scale and one zoomed in on the scale. You do this at the beginning and end of the challenge officially, but can weigh in as many times as you want unofficially. If you lose the 4% you will get to share in the pot with the other winners in the challenge. You’re guaranteed to at least win your original bet back–I’ve won $40-50 (so $5-15 more than my bet) every time! This is a great motivator for me because I’m highly competitive with myself and it keeps me accountable. If you want to connect with me on there (your weight is always held secret so even if we’re friends I won’t be able to see it, by the way 😉 ), you can find me here.
  7. Exercise classes. I’ve talked about my love of gym classes recently and they have been such a game changer for me. They get me moving more than just solo cardio and I burn a ton more calories (sometimes DOUBLE than what I normally burn solo!). They’re fun and the hour goes by quickly. I actually look forward to Zumba and yoga–those hours are some of the highlight of my week (and I NEVER thought I would say that!).
  8. And along that line, I love evening workouts. Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday I do a class in the evening and for some reason the next day I feel less bloated (I bloat VERY easily in case you can’t tell by now!) and swollen. I love how exercising in the evening seems to boost my metabolism. And I sleep better. Win-win.

So those are my tricks. If you have any suggestions for me on what works for you, I’d love to hear! This health journey is so much more fun (and beneficial) when we do it together.


I had some more questions about keto come in through Instagram and Facebook–feel free to keep asking!–and I’ll give you my two cents next week. Promise.


I hope you all have a great weekend–we’ve got a full one here!

Tomorrow morning I was asked to be on an adult adoptee panel at an adoptive mama retreat called Created for Care. I am honored…and have butterflies just thinking about it. Putting into words what it’s like to be adopted (and also having an adopted child) is very hard to explain to non-adopted people.  And then to talk about the good…and bad…and hard…and confusing…parts of being adopted while also being uplifting and positive is difficult too. Pray for me, y’all!

Then tomorrow evening we’re taking the oldest two to Monster Jam. I’ve never been, but Moseby is on cloud nine because he’s obsessed with one specific truck named Grave Digger. Lordy.

Sunday afternoon we’re taking all three to the circus. We weren’t going to taking Lawson at first, but since the circus is closing we thought we better do it while we had a chance. We haven’t told the kids we’re going yet and I think (hope!) they’re going to be excited. Of course they all have matching embroidered circus shirts, ’cause duh, it’s me you’re talking to.

See you all bright and early Monday!

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Weight Loss with PCOS 101: What is Intermittent Fasting?

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Oh goodness, writing this post has me all nervous. Like I’m about to say something crazy controversial and no one will ever be my friend again.

…will you please still be my friend? {said in the saddest little voice possible}

And I have no idea why I feel that way. After all, I’m *just* telling you how I lost weight and got my fertility back with PCOS. That’s it. I’m no doctor. I’m not telling you what is right for your body. I’m just telling you what worked for ME.

So, what is intermittent fasting? (Oh! First I should say you would only do this once you are comfortable with a Keto-lifestyle.)

Our body is always in two states–one of feeding or one of fasting. Technically, any time you are not eating you are fasting. I like to think of my body as a car. I’ve got all this stored fuel in my gas tank {aka belly fat in my case!} and yet I continue to add more fuel (food). Before my weight loss there were some days where I would put too much fuel in my body and it would get stored in my gas tank–meaning my belly would get bigger and bigger (and my cheeks…and my wrists…and my feet–it’s amazing where all you lose!). Once I started doing Keto and got in a calorie deficit I wasn’t putting “enough” fuel in each day so my body would use some stored fuel {aka belly fat!}.

Now, you can get technical and talk about how your body burns glucose easier than it does fat and protein, blah blah blah. But at the end of the day I try to put less fuel in my car than I actually need so my body/car can burn the extra fuel it already has.

And one day–gosh, late spring last year I guess–it occurred to me that I was adding fuel to my car when my car didn’t even need gas. Meaning, I was eating just to eat sometimes. And then I started wondering WHY.

Why do we do that?

Why do we eat three meals a day?

I didn’t NEED those calories from those three meals (I was 55 pounds heavier last spring than I am now). I had all this stored fat that my body could consume instead.

So why did I do it?

I remember listening to people talk about metabolism. Or listening to others talk about eating five small meals a day to keep your blood sugar even.

But I didn’t think that applied to me. After all, my blood sugar runs naturally high with PCOS (with insulin resistance) and if anything I want it LOWER.

So I Google’d “Fasting with Keto and PCOS” and angels sang.

Suddenly, my body and the way it had always been working made sense to me. I wasn’t EVER giving my body a chance to show hunger…never giving it a chance to use that stored fuel.

I learned there are three types of fasting (if you’re interested here is a great book to read more about them!):

  1. Modified fasting. Basically restricting your calories to 25% of what you normally eat for 2 or more days and then eating regularly the other days.
  2. Religious fasting.
  3. Intermittent fasting. Meaning you restrict your food intake during certain windows. Most people already do this–say from 9pm until 6am, right? {You can read a 99-cent Kindle book on intermittent fasting here. Or here’s a FREE Kindle version for women on fasting.}

Well, with more purposeful intermittent fasting you “up the ante” a little more. You might skip breakfast (so you’re fasting from 9pm-12pm) or maybe you don’t snack after dinner (so you’re fasting from 6pm-6am).

Or, you can do what I do.

And it sounds SO ridiculous simple to me now that I do it.

I only eat when I’m hungry.

I don’t snack if I’m not hungry. I don’t eat breakfast/lunch/dinner if I’m not hungry. I have to be hungry (my stomach growling) to eat.

Crazy, huh?

It sounds so simple. I mean, why WOULD we eat unless we’re hungry? Right?!

My ideal day would probably be just to eat every day around 2 or 3pm (you’d call that a “23/1” (meaning I fast 23 hours and eat during a 1-hour window) and that would be it. BUT life/kids/jobs/routine just gets in the way of that. So usually I fast from 6pm-2pm and I have a four-hour window where I’ll eat everyday–I’ll snack around 2 or 3pm because my stomach is growling and then have dinner around 6pm (this is called “20/4 fast”).

And not only do I feel so much better (because I’m not walking around with a full stomach and high blood sugar all the time), but I end up eating less calories a day. I actually have to MAKE myself keep eating sometimes to get enough calories (fat/protein) a day.  My blood sugar is steady throughout the day and my body uses my stored fat. Intermittent fasting helped break my weightless plateau (after I had Lawson I lost back down to my pre-pregnancy weight (which was a 40 pound weight loss) by six months post-parteum, but then I couldn’t get the scale to budge at all (mainly due to breast feeding). Intermittent fasting changed that!

Now can I tell you if intermittent fasting is right for YOU? Oh my goodness, no. But it might give you something to think about. For me personally, intermittent fasting plays JUST AS BIG OF A PART in my weight-loss journey as Keto. There is no doubt in my mind that I’ve been as successful as I’ve been because of intermittent fasting.

And as always, feel free to ask me questions in the comments, on Instagram, on Facebook, or email me. I’ve had two more ladies ask Keto questions (meal ideas and Keto & menopause) and I’ll be answering those next Friday. 

List of Resources for Keto:

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Q&A on Keto + My Favorite Workout Gear

Thank you so much for all the kind comments on Friday’s posts! Some of you had some questions and I thought I would take a moment to answer them {disclaimer: I am not a doctor or nutritionist or anything like that–this is just my experience with this journey}. Feel free to keep asking questions and I’ll answer them on my Friday weight loss posts I’m doing. 🙂

Jennifer asked: “Natalie – First of all, you look gorgeous! Congratulations on your success! I’d love to hear more about what you ate while in weight loss mode. Also, how do you know you’re in “keto”?

I think you have to find what works best for you in “weight-loss mode”. For me, I have to limit cheese and nuts. Cheese because it has a tendency to bloat me and nuts because they are a “gateway drug”–I could eat a pound of salted cashews (and don’t forget: while I know this is a diet fueled on fat you DO have to be in a calorie deficit!) Too much broccoli and cauliflower also hurt my tummy. I love salads and my favorite Keto-friendly meal is a giant bed of romaine with steak on top (plus blue cheese crumbles and a little shaved purple onion). I think I could eat it everyday!  This Friday I’ll take more about intermittent fasting and how it was a “game changer” for my weight loss and therefore, I don’t have any breakfast ideas (I did try crust-less quiche “muffins” once that were pretty good though) and honestly, not many lunch ideas (ham, cheese, mayo rollups and pickles were about as fancy as I got). 


So, it takes a bit of time to get in “ketosis”…meaning your body is running off of fat for fuel instead of glucose. Please note, ketosis is NOT the same thing as Diabetic Ketoacidosis (yes, they sound similar, but are very different–for more info check out this page). Ketosis takes usually 2-3 days for my body to get into–genetics, gender, activity level, amount of water you drink, calories you consume, etc. all affect when you get into ketosis. How do I get in to ketosis quickly? Well, it’s three parts for me: restrict food {meaning I limit carbs to 20g/day} + I drink LOADS of water {80-100oz/day} + I exercise on an empty stomach. A way to tell if you’re in ketosis is to pee on little sticks {kinda like a pregnancy test} and it will measure the amount of ketones in your urine–the darker the strip turns the more ketones are in your urine (a good thing). These are the ones I have used–there are 100 sticks, they have 4.5 stars (with 2,300 reviews), and they’re like $10. 

There is also another way to go: testing your blood. If you have diabetes (or had gestational diabetes like me) testing your blood–pricking your finger *on the side*–is not that big of a deal. I never did this (note: I did periodically check my blood sugar though–especially those first couple of months when I was losing so quickly–and I’m glad I did. My blood sugar was getting too low without carbs and that’s why I got off my Metformin!) so I can’t say personally how I feel about different meters, but I’ve heard good stuff about the Precision models. The test strips do get expensive ($2-$3/each) so a lot of people will go on eBay or use Canadian pharmacies or something. Again, I don’t really know much about this, but if you joined any of the Facebook groups I mentioned in Friday’s post I’m sure you can ask them and you’ll have plenty of people to give their two cents! 😉 (Oh! and to get into nutritional ketosis your level of ketones will need to be between .5 and 3 mmol/L.)

Betsy asked: “As a PCOS gal, I’m going to be following this. I’ve also learned by doing genetic testing that I am to avoid all gluten (none of which I’m following at the moment). Did you also do gluten free?”

To me, gluten and carbs go hand-in-guilty-hand. Yeah, you can have a carb that is not gluten (like a tortilla chip), but you can’t have gluten without it being a carb. So I guess my answer would be yes, I did gluten free (note: there may have been trace amounts of gluten, but nothing I can remember!). I feel so much better physically when I lay off “all” carbs and gluten…and Diet Coke. I plan on talking more about adding foods back in and finding out what they do to your body in a couple of weeks {a little “Tips and Tricks” post, I guess you could call it}. It really is amazing how my body feels carb-free after a few days. Zero bloating. And as someone who bloats just thinking about ice cream, much less eating a bowl of noodles, it blew my mind that first week. I’m now in “maintenance-mode” and have been for about two months so I’ve been fooling around (HA!!!) with carbs a bit here and there to see just how much I can handle and what they do to my body and it has been so interesting. I’ve found that any carbs/gluten–even a small amount by the average person’s standards–keeping me from losing weight AT ALL, even when I’ve kept my calories low and exercising. Isn’t that crazy?! It shows me that my body really *does* have a problem with carbs (and perhaps gluten). Over Christmas, for instance, I ate three regular (not crazy!) meals for three days (the 24th, 25th, and 26th). I worked out on the 24th and 26th. Do you know how much weight I gained? SEVEN POUNDS. Now, there is no way I consumed an extra 25,000 calories over those three days. In fact, I’m sure I was under 2,000 calories/day and I exercised. I didn’t drink alcohol, I drank water. All I did differently was eat three meals a day and not watch my carb intake. That seven pounds (that took 10 days to get off) showed me that I majorly bloat with carbs…I just didn’t realize the extent until then. 

Now for a fun clothing post. 😉

Eek! Eek! Eek!

Before I get started, Y’ALL, there are some major sales going on right now (and they end tonight at midnight) for Old Navy!

30% off your Old Navy purchase when you use the code ‘YOURS’.

PLUS an *extra* 10% off if you use your Gap card (code ‘EXTRA’).

PLUS PLUS get free shipping {with no minimum!} with the code ‘FREESHIP’.

Or if you’re just on the hunt for gym clothes, guess what? 50% Off All Active at oldnavy.com. Excludes Clearance, Women’s Plus & Maternity. While supplies last. Online and in stores. Restrictions apply. Ends 2/21. I love love love their sports bras and compression leggings! Don’t believe me? Well, how about we do a workout wear/gym clothes/ athleisure post?!

And Gap is having a sale too. 40% off everything and free shipping (no minimum!) with the code ‘PRESDAY’. AND…get an extra 10% off with code ‘BIG’. That’s 50% off–woohoo!

WARNING: These pictures are make-up free, wild hair selfies. And as usual, my faces in them are horrible. {Look away, small children & those faint of heart!} I took them all on the same night after I got home from Zumba and took a shower, but didn’t wash my hair because, well, this meme is the truth (can I get an amen?!) and I didn’t want to post a bunch of post-gym sweaty mess outfit pics…and I actually had all my laundry done {which, uhm, never happens}.

Up until this summer I always wore old, grungy t-shirts and loose-fitting yoga pants to the gym (I worked out 5 or 6 days a week even when I weighed 100 pounds more than I do now–I’ve always loved to exercise. To lose weight it’s all about what I eat. #pcosprobs ). But once I started doing classes (you can read about that here) I grew tired of constantly having to pull up my loose pants during a workout and hated staying clammy/wet in my cotton t-shirts afterwards. At first it felt frivolous buying gym clothes, but considering I wear them like half my day everyday I think they’re worth the investment! 😉

I love tops that have something neat going on. I don’t want them to be tight AND show skin so I usually go with a looser front and a back that shows off my sports bra.

C. got me this jacket for my birthday. The inside pockets have a place for my headphones.

Gap Top.  Gap jacket sold out (so sad!), but similar here. Old Navy Leggings {different pattern}. Old Navy strappy sports bra {different pattern}.

Recognize these leggings? They were on my Valentine’s Day Gift Guide and my mom got them for me. I love them as much as I thought I would! Gap drape-back top. Gap Sports Bra ($20!)

Old Navy compression leggings with mesh in black–I know it’s hard to see in the pic, but they’re so cute. {Here they are in ‘winter wine’ (what a fun name!) too}. Gap Top. Gap sports bra.

Gap top.($17!) Gap compression leggings. Under Amour shoes {different color} which I love.

This is my hands-down favoritey fav sports bra for yoga ($14.50!!) from Old Navy–no taataas falling out during downward-facing dog with this one! Here it is for the ladies with DDD and bigger busts.

january 31. playground. double doozies. rolls. pink hot chocolate. february 2. yoga_0004_edited-1

GapFit Tie-Back Top. (3 colors are on sale for $15!) Gap T-Back Sports Bra. Gap Leggings. Under Armour shoes. That black band peeking out from under my sports bra? It’s my heart rate monitor, by the way. 😉

And I have to admit something on here. I have a problem. An addiction. I’m totally addicted to this particular sports bra from Gap. I have six of them. ::Hangs head in shame.::

What I’ve got my eye on:

I’m really digging cutouts, straps, and mesh inserts on my leggings right now so I’m crushing pretty hard on these for $15. And I’m really loving the retro color scheme of these leggings. I’ve seriously been looking at them for months!

Note on sizing: I’m wearing a ‘large’ in all the pants and shirts–some of the shirts I could definitely go smaller in some but I like a looser fit. The sports bras are a mix of large and x-large. For size reference: I’m 5’5″, a big 6/little 8 in pants but more like a 12 in tops, and 36D in the bust.

 

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Weight Loss with PCOS 101: What is Keto?

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I get asked how I lost almost 100 pounds all the time. I answer ‘keto’ and people look at me like I have two heads.

{Keto (full name: Ketogenic Diet) is the short answer, of course. Over the last 2.5 years I have come to realize what works for me and will spend Fridays for the next month or so discussing the other aspects of my weight loss, but today I will focus on just Keto.}

So what is a ketogenic diet {known as “keto”}? Well, I’m no scientist/nutritionist/diet guru so I’ll give you the dummy version: basically it’s a diet of high fat and low carb and medium protein. Its ratio is different than the typical low carb diets from 10-15 years in that it’s not all about the protein. In fact, it’s “all about” fat. The goal of a keto diet is to make your body burn fat as its fuel {instead of glucose}.

By decreasing the glucose in your blood stream keto has other benefits–mainly female hormone problem reversals. I have zero doubt that keto is what caused me to get my fertility back and get pregnant with Lawson. You can read a research study abstract and results here {it is so interesting!}. The study states:

“This pilot study showed that adherence to a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet led to improvement in body weight, percent free testosterone, LH/FSH ratio, fasting serum insulin, and symptoms in women diagnosed with PCOS over a six-month period.”

Keto made my blood sugar so low that I had to get off of the Metformin I had been on for five years. In fact, in the past 2.5 years the only time my blood sugar ever got out of the 70s or 80s was when my OB-GYN made me drink that horrible icky sugar drink to test for gestational diabetes. {Note/disclosure/whatever: I still had gestational diabetes, but it was NOTHING like with MM. I naturally have insulin resistance with PCOS so I would have been absolutely shocked if I didn’t have gestational diabetes again. But instead of four insulin shots and it STILL being uncontrolled {like with MM} I was on one insulin shot (at night, just for fasting–again totally “normal” for PCOS with insulin resistance)  and it was completely controlled with diet & exercise. And the proof is in the {no carb, haha} pudding: MM was 8.0lbs when she was born at 37weeks 5days and Lawson was 6lbs 6ozs at 37weeks 5 days when he was born. I never thought I would be so happy to have an “average-sized” baby (for that gestation)!}

What is so crazy to me is that I wasn’t trying to get pregnant (we weren’t preventing either–when you have ten years of infertility prevention is not something you think about anymore) when I did. I had stopped temping, charting, ovulation predictor kits, fertility meds–all of it! The only thing that I was doing differently than all those years trying desperately for babies was following keto. I started it September 17, 2014 and got pregnant on December 6, 2014. In less than three months I had lost over forty pounds (YEP!) and my fertility had returned (unbeknownst to me!).

The Basics:

Well, it depends on what you’re trying to do. Most people do it to lose weight–and oh my goodness, you WILL lose weight!–but some do it for health reasons. It helps with PCOS, yes, but it has also been shown to lower triglycerides (even with all that fat–crazy, huh?) and increase your good cholesterol. I’ve also met people who used it to treat epilepsy and constant chronic pain (I don’t know about any studies on the effect of that though).

If your goal is to lose weight you need to decide how many calories you need to eat to be in a calorie deficit (taking into account your gender, current size, age, and activity level). I stick to around 1,200 calories/day when losing weight. Then you need to figure out your general ratios. For me and my PCOS, the lower the carbs, the better. When losing weight I keep my carbs under 20 grams a day. A DAY. And y’all, there are carbs in everything! Of course in bread and cake…but also tons in bananas and beans…and even in some things like broccoli! That’s why having an ap on your phone like MyFitnessPal {it’s free!} is a necessity! It can tell you calories/carbs/fat in all sorts of foods–even pre-packaged foods or stuff from restaurants.

Based on my activity level {I am ridiculously active!} my goals were as follows:

1200 calories/day

100 grams protein/day was my goal, but 70-100 grams is okay too

20 grams carbs/day

80 grams fat/day, but I’m “allowed” up to 203 grams fat/day

I’m in maintenance right now so I eat anywhere from 2000-2400 calories/day now and don’t gain weight.

Here is an online tool to help you find your right ratio on Keto (also known as “macros”).

Where to Start:

I would buy a book first. There’s tons out there, but the one I used to get an idea on ratios and sample recipes was The Ketogenic Cookbook. It’s where I first learned how to make cauliflower mashed “potatoes” and cauliflower fried “rice”. Oh my goodness, yummy.

Here are some other good starter Keto books with good reviews from others (they also come in Kindle-format):

The 30-Day Ketogenic Cleanse

Quick & Easy Ketogenic Cooking: Meal Plans and Time Saving Paleo Recipes to Inspire Health and Shed Weight

Bacon & Butter: The Ultimate Ketogenic Diet Cookbook (how awesome is THAT title?! it’s also less than $10)

Next, I would join some Facebook groups on the topic for support. There are tons out there and some are friendlier to newbies than others, but all are a wealth of knowledge.

Here’s a link to a few: Keto-Adaptation {this is the one I’m in–come find me and say hello!}, Ketogenic Success, Keto Recipes, and Keto Mom (plus about a bazillion more).

The Bottom Line:

I will say this: it feels so weird at first. In fact, it feels quite naughty! I grew up in 80s and 90s with diet soda, margarine, low-fat everything so actually getting to eat butter or full-fat dressing and not feel guilty? Well, it’s hard at first! But as you see the weight drop off–I was serious when I said I dropped forty pounds in less than three months!–is unbelievable. And to see my fertility come back {and all my ovarian cysts go away}? Well, it feels like a miracle.

This is one of my favorite memes out there and something I tell anyone starting their weight loss journey. It’s so true.

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Do not give up hope, y’all. Keep taking it one day at a time and one day you’ll look in the mirror and won’t recognize the person on the outside {much less the person you’ve become on the inside!}. Because, let me tell you, you are stronger, braver, more determined, more beautiful, more amazing, and smarter than you realize. You CAN do the hard things. Pinkie promise, cross my heart.

Questions?

If you have any questions feel free to comment on here or FB or IG and I promise I’ll answer. If you want to hear more about food plans or how to know you’re in ketosis {or even what is ketosis}, just let me know. I wasn’t sure how in-depth to go today. 🙂

If you would like to follow me on Instagram click here and/or Facebook click here!

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My Three Favorite Gym Classes: The 411 on Zumba, Yoga, & Spin

I mentioned it a few weeks ago kinda of casually (and I’ve shown a few pictures of myself), but I’ve lost 95 pounds. Yes, I post A LOT of super yummy treats {and unless it has bananas in it I taste them all!} on here, but I also work my butt off and watch what I eat the rest of the time.

Earlier this week I posted this picture on Instagram and 100+ people liked it (Thank y’all, by the way, it made my day).

And I got to thinking that maybe I would post a little bit about fitness and weight loss and my favorite classes and gym clothes and gym hair and ask some questions myself (I have so many questions about weight lifting!).

Before I talk about HOW I lost the weight with PCOS, I thought I might just dip my toes into the fitness pool first and talk about my favorite classes if that’s okay with y’all.

And to do that I have a little admission to make: up until August 1st (yes, right at six months ago) I had never done a class even though I was in the gym six days a week. (Well, I did step aerobics during fourth period personal fitness in high school, but I don’t think that really counts.) So know what I’m about to say is totally coming from a novice, kinda like a beginners’ guide from a beginner herself.

You see, I didn’t take classes because I was so so so so SOOOOOOOOO self conscious of my stomach & upper arms I was afraid people would stare at me. That they would flop everywhere. Or my belly would peek out from under my shirt in yoga. Honestly, I was petrified.

It wasn’t until I had 5.5 pounds of excess skin removed {and a muscle repair–my ab muscles had a hand-width separation between them} in June that I felt confident enough to finally do a class. (And yes, I realize this surgery warrants SEVERAL posts on its own and I’ll get to that eventually. Promise.)

What I discovered was that I love classes.  I haven’t tried that many honestly, I’ve found three that I like and stuck with them (and plus with working and three little kids it’s hard to fit many more into my schedule, ha!). So I thought I would run down my three favorites and give you the 4-1-1 in case you were like me and didn’t know where to start: the good, the bad, the materials you need, and the average amount of calories I burn. (This is the fitness watch & heart rate monitor (but in pink because man, I wish I had it in pink!) This is it in black (just like mine.) It’s two parts: a watch/step counter and a band you put around your chest with a heart rate monitor when you exercise. It’s also waterproof and you can swim in it!)

january 31. playground. double doozies. rolls. pink hot chocolate. february 2. yoga_0001_edited-1

I totally worked out BEFORE this picture and am all sweaty and stinky and gross here. Oops. 

{Outfit details: GapFit top {check out the back! Also on sale!}. GapFit leggings. *Note: Gap is 35% off with the code ‘SWEET’ and an extra 10% off for card holders with the code ‘Bonus’ right now.}

Spin (RPM is what I do)

This was the very first class I did. I thought it would be be the easiest in terms of skill needed and I was right. I’ve never been a coordinated person {understatement of the year} and I didn’t learn how to ride a bicycle until graduate school. But I can rock a stationary bike. 😉

The Good: You don’t have to be coordinated. As long as you can pedal while you hold on to the handle bars you can do RPM!

The Bad: There are two.

The first bad is that your hoo-ha and your woo-hoo and your yee-haw will feel like they have been kicked by a donkey on steroids after the first class. You will realize you have bits and pieces down there you didn’t even know you had before! There are two things you can do to lessen this. First, show up early to your first class and ask the instructor to help you decide how to set your bike (I’m a 5 on the seat and a 7 on the handlebars)–that will help keep your bottom from constantly hitting the seat the wrong way when you sit back down. Second, get you a cheap pair of padded riding shorts. I got these off Amazon for $11.99 shipped! {Note on sizing: I bought a pair that were XXL and I was a size 12 in August. They fit perfect. I’m now more of a L or XL (size 6/8), but I haven’t bought a new pair.} You look like you’re wearing a diaper in tight pants, but your hoo-ha will want to give you a hug!

The second bad thing is the possibility that you won’t burn a lot of calories. YOU control the intensity {there’s a “dial” on the bike you turn throughout the class} and so the only person that truly pushes you is YOU.

Average calorie burn for me: 650-800/hour

Yoga

I remember when I thought stretching before and after a workout was no big deal. I totally didn’t think you needed to do it. Boy, was I wrong. And yoga has taught me that. The whole hour is spent stretching {along with some ab work and some balance} and it’s amazing how your body opens up. I can’t describe it.

I ran into Target fifteen minutes before my first class to grab a yoga mat. I got a Gaiam 3mm similar to this one {mine is sold out}. I asked my instructor a couple of months ago if it was okay and she said her own mat was a $20 “cheapie” too. {A month ago I did buy this ribbon strap on Etsy to carry it back & forth to class. Isn’t it cute?! $9 and it’s monogrammed.}

january 31. playground. double doozies. rolls. pink hot chocolate. february 2. yoga_0005_edited-1

january 31. playground. double doozies. rolls. pink hot chocolate. february 2. yoga_0003_edited-1

The Good: You will become more limber. Do you know that I can put one leg behind my head now {*after* an hour of yoga warming my body up, of course}. It helps me reconnect with my body, it calms my mind, it’s one of the highlights of my week.

The Bad: You don’t do yoga for the calorie burn. Also, I think you need a good sports bra if you’re larger chested. Going from a downward-facing dog into a plank into a crocodile into a…well, you get the idea. You want to be focusing on your body’s movements and not on keeping your girls in your shirt {trust me on this one}. I finally found a sports bra that it’s extra high cut and now I wear it every time I do yoga.

And I’m about to show you a picture of it. And my bare stomach.

I just deleted a whole paragraph where I apologized for being bloated and my stretch marks and my scars, and blah blah blah. Because you know what? My body is pretty amazing. I don’t mean to look at, I mean what it can do and what it has done {fought cancer & grown two babies for instance!}. I saw this meme and this is exactly how I feel.

Anyway, this is a link to this sports bra ($23 plus 30% off with code ENJOY). I LOVE it and my taataas never fall out. Woohoo!

Average calorie burn for me: 275-450/hour

Zumba

I was so intimidated to try this class. I think I mentioned how uncoordinated I am earlier, but y’all, IT’S BAD. Like, I’m even tone-deaf. I don’t have two left feet, I have two left feet that are upside down and backwards. 🙁

I’m telling you this because if *I* can do Zumba then I promise you CAN do it too.

It’s fast-paced and loud and all the songs are choreographed {it makes me giggle to even think I can do choreographed movements–I basically failed tap dancing when I was 7 & did like four classes before the instructor told me that dancing just wasn’t for me, ha!}. The first class I toughed it out for the full hour. I didn’t die. I liked the songs, I liked the instructor. So I went back. And back again. And now it’s six months and I go three times a week!

The Good: It’s so fast-paced and each song is so different that the hour goes by ridiculously quick. It is also an intense calorie burn. (And did I mention it’s fun?)

The Bad: I think of the three classes I do Zumba is where I could get injured (I tried BodyPump and stopped going after three classes because I could just tell something was up with my wrists and knees afterwards…& I’m too old to be dealing with that!). All the sliding back and forth, the jumping, the pivoting, etc. is pretty rough. I bought new tennis shoes (these are a different color than mine, but I like the colors better!) about six weeks in–I was fitted at a running store–and that has been great (before that the top of my foot had started to hurt). A couple of weeks ago I bought these…uhm, things (I have no idea what to call them!) that go around my sneakers…to get rid of the traction under the ball of my foot. They make turning and twirling so much easier!

Average calorie burn for me: 925 – 1150 calories/hour (and over 7,000 steps)!


And if you’ve made it this far, thank you. That was one doozie of a post! 😉

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! MM and C. are going on their annual daddy-daughter date to Chick-Fil-A (oh-la-la!) and our town’s annual Daddy-Daughter Dance. She got a new party dress and some miniature sparely heels (lordy!) and C. is giving her a corsage. Pictures to come!

(Tomorrow my gym is having RPM at 9:30 and Zumba at 10:30 if you want to come join me!)

And Sunday we have the Super Bowl with our hometown team in it. And, yet again, just like every single year EVER, we are not invited to a Super Bowl party.

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Hopefully your weekend is exciting and you have more Super Bowl party invites than you know what to do with! 😉

I would LOVE to hear about any classes you enjoy. Seriously. Fill me in on what you like because I like trying new things!

 

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