One Year Later & Healthier Than Ever

On July 17, 2015 I underwent a vertical sleeve gastrectomy (aka weight loss surgery). I am excited to announce that I have officially made it to my one year post operation day.

Year 1 - BodyJuly 17 changed my life more than I knew it would at the time. I went in with the premise that if all of my health concerns went away I would be happy. One year later, not only are my health concerns gone, but I have actually reached a weight my doctors consider healthy. Additionally, because I have no more health concerns, I now have the ability to focus on shaping my body the way I want it to look. This is crazy to me!!!! I am proud of the progress I have made to change my life around. The surgery was not the solution for me but it was a tool and resource that guided me along the way. Year 1 - Back

So want to see some of my highlights? The area that I am most proud of is my back. I have always wanted to wear an open back dress but was always too afraid. I secretly love watching stars walk down the red carpet with backless dresses while they pose for a picture with their head to the side, showing off the back of the dress. They slayyyyyyyyy so much!!!! While I still have not taken that leap yet because I am nervous, I know my time is coming. I too soon will wear an open-back shirt or dress. I just need to get over my nerves.

Year 1While my highlights are amazing, I wanted to take a minute to thank the one person that has been at my side EVERY step and minute of the way: my boyfriend Chris. My friends and family have been very supportive as well but Chris’ support is on a different level. Going into the surgery, I was warned that your relationship with your spouse is the most at stake for challenges and changes. Why is this? Well, I was/am completely changing and evolving psychically and mentally into a different person. While Chris loves me, if you think about it, he is, in a way, “losing” some version of me. Chris had to adjust and evolve with me all-while being the anchor of the relationship when I felt insecure or unsure of what I was doing. From sleeping on the hospital couch for three days to constantly reassuring me how I looked still attracted him, he has been an amazing support. I feel stronger, healthier and encouraged to continuously stay on track in-part due to him. Heck, the man agreed to reenact our waterfall picture a year later just so I could say he kissed me like in the movies. Now that is some cheesy love.

I now have moved into phase 2 of my lifestyle change: maintenance. I hear this is the hardest part but I am up for the challenge. It all starts with me training for my first half marathon and raising money for my skin removal surgery. Wish me luck!

If you would like to donate to my surgery click here.

 

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The reality of weight loss: Sagging Skin

Almost a year ago, I decided to go through with a vertical sleeve gastrectomy, aka weight loss surgery, and I have lost 130 pounds almost. What most don’t see is that reality that comes with massive weight loss…sagging skin.

When I started this journey, I decided to make it public for a few reasons:

  1. To hold myself accountable
  2. To motivate and inspire others to be Healthy Not Skinny
  3. To educate individuals on weight loss surgery and curtail the stigma that it is the “easy way out”
  4. To promote body image positivity at all sizes
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While I believe I have done a good job and remaining true to these four points, I realized I
was not telling the entire story. Social media posts like my post here are what I call “Perfection Posts.” It is the post you make after taking 100 photos from a different angle/lighting just to find the right picture after adding an awesome filter. It is the post where you show the before and after, but not the struggle during. When I make posts like these, I get crazy likes on social media. And it makes sense because they are extremely motivating. However, this post isn’t my complete reality. It is not my entire struggle during. So here it goes.

Hi, my name is Dionne and I have a great deal of wrinkly, sagging and excess skin due to my weight loss.

To those who know me closely, I do a great job of masking the sagging skin. I know how to work my body and cover what I do not want others to see. I am like Houdini except for weight loss. As you can see from some of the pictures noted in this post, I am carrying around POUNDS of excess skin on my breast, arms, thighs, abdomen and butt. While most of the areas look fine, my abdomen and breast are easily noticeable if not clothed in the right way. Despite my best efforts to tone and wear compression garments, the skin is here to stay.

It took me a long time before I even considered talking about my sagging skin openly. I spent hours debating whether to share my story for others to see, posting the first sagging picture online along with my weight for the world to see is hard. It is the bittersweet part of my weight loss that I am extremely uncomfortable with and proud of at the same time. This is what hard work and dedication looks like. But, this is also what brings rashes, pain and body discomfort to some. This is my reality.

I have started meeting with surgeons about removing my sagging skin on my breast and abdomen. While I believe the sagging skin is symbolic of the progress I have made this past year, I believe removing and lifting the skin will improve my standard of living.

I am raising funds to get the following procedure done: anchor breast lift with abdominoplasty (skin removal and a lift to the breast and abdomen).

With that said, I hope you will consider donating to my medical costs for the surgery as insurance will not pay for everything.

If interested, visit the link here to donate or email me at dgomez3488@gmail.com to make an offline donation.

I appreciate any and all support. -Dionne

 

 

 

Is my body beach ready?!!?

It is that time of year. Beach season! Being a Pisces, I love the water, like love!!! I am the first one in the water and could stay in all day. However, with water, comes the need to wear a bathing suit. (Insert dramatic transition noise “Bum Bum Bum” lol)

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In 2015 at my largest weight (300-pounds)

Before I lost 120 pounds, I never had an issue wearing a two-piece bathing suit. Did I wear a string bikini? No. But did I rock the shit out of a tankini or high-waist bathing suit? Hell yes!

In fact, I felt really confidant wearing a two-piece bathing suit at 300-pounds. I knew how to wear clothes for my body shape. Specifically, I knew how to accentuate the parts of my body that I wanted to and I knew how to conceal parts of my body that I did not find flattering. It was easy for me.  I loved being big and beautiful.

Over this past Memorial Day weekend, I went to the beach, per usual. I decided to wear a bikini that I had recently purchased. But something happened.

I was extremely nervous and unsure of myself when I arrived to the beach in my new size M/L bikini. It took me a few minutes before I agreed to take off my sundress. 

13308472_10100136049218292_1560009991118532009_oWhy is this though? I have been working on my health over this past year and am extremely proud of myself.  It did not make sense that I was feeling insecure in the bathing suit, especially considering I wore two-piece suits when I was larger. While I did eventually come around and embrace/rock the shit out of this new bathing suit, it took me longer than expected.

I spent the afternoon pondering about why I reacted the way I did. For me, I realized that being healthier does not necessarily equate to me being more happier with my body. In fact, I came to the conclusion that I was more comfortable in my larger body than I am now in my smaller body. I knew how to work my angles and shape at a larger size because it was all I ever knew. This past weekend I have come to understand that embracing my new body is going to take sometime, as frustrating as it is.

Moving forward, I promised myself not to let my nervousness hinder my ability to be proud of my progress and my body. I focused on the positive part of this experience and brushed away the negative concerns (so as not to bring validity to them). I refuse to give negativity the power to control me. With that, I spent the rest of the afternoon lounging in the sun with my love and playing in the water. I had a blast and went home feeling good about myself. My beach body is ready.

 

“Hey skinny” is not a compliment

In the past nine months, I have lost a total of 120 pounds. With any dramatic weight loss experience, you’re going to encounter people who are astonished by how much your body has changed. With that, I have noticed that I also get a lot of comments regarding my weight loss, more than I expected or wanted.

Many of those people will be perfectly supportive, compassionate and encouraging. However, some may not. Some people will provide unsolicited advice, some people will act as guilt-inducing food pushers and some will annoyingly hit on you. Needless to say, not all attention you get following dramatic weight loss is welcome.

Some of the “compliments” or comments I hear on a regular basis include:

  • “Hey skinny” or “Omg, you look so skinny”
  • “You look amazing” or “You look great”
  • “You look happier”
  • “One brownie won’t kill you”

To be honest, depending on how you give me the compliment, I usually do not feel comfortable hearing these comments. In fact, even the simple “You look great!” feels awkward sometimes.

Why is this? Being told how amazing I currently look  makes me question what the “complimenter” thought of me previously. Did I look bad before? What was wrong before that you did not compliment me then but are complimenting me now? 

My mind honestly goes in a million places. At least for me, focusing solely on my physical appearance triggers something in me. Research has shown that complimenting certain people who have struggled with food, diet and exercise their entire life might find your  “compliment” rude or ignorant.  So please be careful before saying something that might actually offend some people.

With that, I want to get something straight.  I appreciate all the compliments I have received, wanted and unwanted. At the end of the day, I know that folks giving me the unwanted compliments are honestly just trying to say, no matter how painful, that they are proud of me and that I should be proud of myself. For this reason alone, instead of feeling offended, I usually speak up and educate individuals on the proper/better way to compliment an individual going through this process if I find something a little off-putting. Why? Because I want everyone to know that I was beautiful then and I am beautiful now. The only difference is that I am wayyyyyyyyyy healthier now. Skinny is not my end goal. My personal stance about body image is why I even started my blog, “Healthy not Skinny,” in the first place. Capture

So, want some advice? Instead of complimenting my physical appearance, compliment me on my progress towards becoming healthy. Tell me you are happy that I am reaching my goal. Tell me that I am motivating. Tell me to keep it up. If you are commenting on my physical appearance, try taking an approach like my friend Nathan did in the picture here.

And remember, healthy is not a size, it is a lifestyle. 

 

 

Can plus size women wear high heels?

No matter how fashionable I have been over the years, my shoe game has never been on-point.  I have always figured out a way to make flats or boots work for any outfit but I have never been able to wear high heels. 

I am that girl that walks into the club with high heels on in order to make an entrance. Ten minutes later, I am that girl that is paying the bartender five dollars to hold my heels for the night while I pull out my flats from my dress and put them on.

Why do I do this? I used to look like a penguin walking in heels. I wobbled, I walked extremely slow and for some reason, it really hurt my feet to stand in heels for more than ten minutes.

To increase my ability to wear heels, I even underwent what I call “Heel Boot Camp.” I tried wearing heels for longer periods of time at random moments of the day, I purchased insoles and I tried to work my way from short-to-tall heels. Nothing worked.

Then something happened. I lost 100 pounds and I noticed my ability to walk in heels was instantly a lot easier. I now feel like Beyonce strutting my stuff as I walk into work in my heels. I also now feel more encouraged to spend more money on heels (which is making me broke!!!). While I still cannot wear 6-inch stilettos (props to those who can), I can now last longer in shoes that have a thin and taller heel.

But why? Someone suggested to me that it might be because of the weight loss. I read somewhere that the extra weight I used to carry was bearing down on my feet, making  it impossible for me to walk in heels.

To be honest, while I do not know the scientific reason as to why I couldn’t walk in heels before, I do have a theory. I believe my previous weight did hinder my ability to walk in heels. However, I do not think this is the only reason. I know many plus size women who rock high heels like nothing so it cannot be the weight alone. I believe I also have sensitive soles on the bottom of my feet, so that mixed with my previous weight might have caused the issue.

With that, I am curious to know if others have struggled with the same issue and what they think the cause is. In addition to that, I am curious to know from others what types of heels work better for you (for example, I noticed that heels with a strap support me sooooooo much more). Let me know your thoughts!!!!

The power of a belt

Even though I have lost over 100 pounds, I have miraculously managed to keep and utilize most of my clothes. How? Belts!!!image2

I never used to wear a belt but I have found that belts are now saving me a GREAT DEAL of MULA!!!!

I tend to wear a lot of dresses.  I was never a big pants person. If you are like me, belts can really help take your dress to the next level.

My favorite dresses that used to fit me like a beautiful glove are now way too big on me but I refuse to let them go. In addition to this, I am cheap and do not want to spend a lot of money tailoring each dress. As you can see from the pictures displayed, a belt has really helped to salvage my clothes.

Want some tips? For work, I will typically wear a dress with a belt and even sometimes a sweater.  The sweater helps to cover the side of the dress by my armpit in case the material starts to hang too low (which has happened to some of my clothes as my arms have gotten smaller). I usually then try to add a little spice to the outfit by adding jewelry or trying a sassy look with my hair or makeup. This draws attention away from the dress and focuses everyone’s attention elsewhere on the outfit.

Do you have any other ideas I should consider? I am always looking for advice.  #PleaseShare

Support from everywhere

When it comes to shopping I get asked the same thing: “How much have you spent on new clothes since losing weight?” The answer is simple: I have spent very little on new clothes and it’s because I have been getting support from friends and family.

Most recently, I have been struggling to find good work clothes due to my busy schedule and the fact that my old clothes are now too big on me. I have to wear belts with dresses or tie my shirts to conceal how big items are on me. Most of my outfits now consist of a belt and a sweater to cover excess material on the clothing.

Capture
Katie and I right before my surgery in July 2015

In the last week, my friend, named Katie Schneider, shown in the picture to the right, came to my rescue. She did the most generous thing and sent me two boxes of clothes she no longer wears…all the way from Iowa. She did not even hesitate to ask me if I wanted the clothes and offered them up as if it was nothing….for free. I was in shock.

For the first time since losing over 100 pounds, I feel like clothes actually properly fit me and that I do not have to conceal anything.  I feel confident at work. And, as you can see from the pictures displayed in this blog, I actually look really IMG_3739cute in the clothes too. =-)

Katie is what I mean by support from everywhere. I am really grateful for what Katie did for me. She is inspiring and I look up to her. Not many people would offer up a bunch of clothes worth hundreds of dollars for free.  She is always encouraging me and providing advice. She has truly inspired me and motivates me to IMG_3695stay on track.

With that said, I have kept  most of my personal clothes (ones that even fit me when I was close to 300 pounds). A part of me keeps these clothes because I really love my wardrobe and have managed to make my clothes work as I have lost weight.  But, a part of me holds onto the clothes because I feel like they are something I worked hard to earn and they signify who I was/am at a certain point in my life. However, I do no think I can hold onto some of my clothes much longer. It is now my time to be just as generous as Katie. Soon, I plan to give away some clothes that I know I cannot salvage (take-in or wear with a belt). I think it will not only signify a new beginning for me but it will also serve as a way to make someone’s life a whole lot easier. I want to be someone’s support from everywhere.

Thank you Katie.