Up In the Gym — Fitness and a LapBand

So this is the second part of my lab-band based postings (read part one here).   Fitness.

Working out is critical to success with a lap band.  Unlike Gastric Bypass (I will do a post on the differences between the band and bypass — since two months before I was banded my mom got the bypass.  And we live together.  That was difficult to say the least…still can be *side eyes the candy jar she keeps full….*) there is no real “automatic” weight loss with the band.  Bandsters can cheat even during the liquid diet phase (cause…milkshakes are liquids too you know).  As I will reinforce, my surgeon warned me that success with a lap band could be a 20lb weight loss.  And while that sounds “normal” for someone who has undergone typically a year of preparation, spent thousands of dollars, and is typically severely obese and using this procedure as a last resort — that is not comforting.

Think about it.  If you were 5’8 and weighed 350lb when you under went weight loss surgery– a year from that date you could just have lost 20lbs?  You would still be over 300lbs, still well outside of that annoying and arbitrary height/weight chart maximums, still with an obese BMI.  The Lap Band is a TOOL.  One more time, the band is a TOOL.  It is not a promise of any weight loss, let alone large amounts of weight loss.  It does not prevent “cheating”, and it does not prevent weight re-gain.

So in order to achieve those goals, to even have a chance to do that — most people who undergo banding must change their diet (MYTH: Not all large and obese people eat Ho-Ho’s and Twinkies (RIP Hostess), while watching reality TV.  Some of us had quite healthy diets, some of us went to the gym before the band, some of us had healthy stats.  Not all of us, but some of us.  One of my goals is to dispel these horrible myths of obesity, and to let people know the real deal).  They also must figure out a work out regimen that works for them and their lifestyle.

I spoke a bit about the struggles with choosing healthy food options versus choosing something that will insert calories in the body in my previous post.  So now lets talk fitness.  As an obese woman, a fat woman – I did go to the gym.  I had a gym membership all through law school.  And yes — I did go to the gym when I could.  I took Tribal Belly Dance when I lived in Richmond.  I joined the YMCA when I returned to my hometown.  I was not sedentary.  I was not running half-marathons — but I was not sitting on the couch all day, every day.  Also when I returned home I ended up taking a position in retail, which had me on my feet all day walking around the store — stocking shelves — climbing ladders.

When I returned to my hometown I also finally found a form of exercise that worked with my personality.  Zumba(TM) fitness.  A wonderful woman taught it at a local parks and recreation center.  I finally had found a form of exercise that worked well with me — I hate running, I do not like working out to the point of throwing up, I do not enjoy step (I tend to always be concerned about taking a face plant off that sucker).  However, I always loved to dance.  Being larger I could never stay in any formal dance classes — I literally sized out of ballet and tap — they didn’t make the costumes in my size.  I sized out of baton, and I was kept on JV cheerleading due to my size.  That did not stop me from dancing all over the club, in my dorm room, at dances….I love to dance.  My fiance laughs at me because I dance in the laundry room.

This love got to blossom with Zumba.  In Zumba class I could feel the music, move my larger body appropriately, and I even found myself helping others because I got the moves and they didn’t.  I took Zumba until my instructor found out she was expecting, and stepped aside.  Then there was a lack fo Zumba in my hometown for a while.  When an instructor appeared at the YMCA where I was a member by then, I jumped at the chance to jump back in.  Ultimately I became a Zumba Fitness instructor in November of 2010, and it was a huge milestone for me.  I am still not a size 6 — I will never be that ultimate model of fitness; that super petite, very thin and toned, very perky woman who looks fantastic in spandex.  However, what I am is someone who has been where most people are.  Who knows what the average woman (who is a size 14; not 6) feels when they step into a fitness class or the gym.  I know how to push people without making them feel like they shouldn’t be there.  I push them so they can see how awesome they are, not so that they feel as if they do not belong.  I’ve been personally blessed to have wonderful Zumba mentors who have helped me be the best instructor that I can be — including a woman who does look like that ultimate model of fitness.  But she welcomes all, encourages all, and allows me to teach for her even though I am not that size 6.

I still am scared to death of face planting off of a step, my thighs still jiggle in spandex (but I wear it anyhow), and I laugh at myself more in Yoga than at any other time of my existence because I can do some moves like a Yogi rockstar — and others I look like a hot mess.  Most importantly, there are days where I have NO DESIRE TO GO WORK OUT.  I do not want to go.  I want to sit down somewhere, read a book, catch up on sleep.  So do not feel alone if you do not like working out.  I teach group fitness, and there are days where I do not want to work out myself.  I so understand.  However, what my surgeon says is the key to my successful weight loss is that I am willing to go to the gym and sweat out my hair (Admittedly, I do miss having amazing hair like in my avitar photo….I don’t keep hair looking that good.  I sweat through yoga yesterday, and I will sweat today when I teach class.  I just let it go, went natural, pull it up in to a ponytail, and call my stylist only when I have to go somewhere or get a photo taken.  But I do miss my amazing hair….).  So find some form of fitness that you are comfortable doing, and maybe even want to do (even if it’s just 45% of the time — that is better than doing nothing).  No action is too small.  Walking your dog counts, dancing with your partner in the kitchen.  If you like belly dance — go shimmy and shake it.  If you love to swim, go splash in the pool.  If you are a tri-athlete; well this post probably isn’t for you…. But for the rest of us, just move when you can — how you can.  One of the reasons why I like yoga so much is because they give you levels and encourage you to explore what YOUR body can do.  You aren’t trying to compare your pose to your neighbors, you are trying to get the best pose out of yourself.  That is some kind of awesome body acceptance, right?  It’s not about feeling bad if your knee lift is modified, its about the fact that you are lifting it!  So find something that works for you, and go for it!

Again, the lap band is a tool. This is not easy, this is not cheating, this is not a quick fix.  Some of us will be able to loose weight, we will work hard to eat the best we can and work out when we can.  We will sweat, have many awkward moments in the gym and life, and try to figure out how to live with our new tool.   And some of us will still hate to run, no matter if we are roughly 135lb lighter than our highest weight……


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