Five tips for traveling when you’re sleeved

Ever since I had my gastric sleeve operation in January, I’ve had to learn how to do things a little differently. This is especially true for eating on the move. Whether I’m taking the commuter train to my in-laws’ house or heading out of town for a long weekend, I try to plan ahead so that I have everything I need. Here are five tips that can help when you’re traveling. As long as I remember to do these five things, I find traveling while sleeved to be pretty stress-free. 

Take healthy snacks with you

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Be prepared – take healthy snacks wherever you go. (Photo by Juan José Valencia Antía on Unsplash)

Sure, it’s nice to splurge a little when you’re on vacation but when you’re en route, the last thing you want is to deal with stomach issues caused by making the wrong food choices. Plan ahead. You already know what your new stomach can tolerate. Pack some healthy snacks in small zip-loc bags or mini plastic containers so you never have to worry about that moment when hunger pangs strike. My favourite travel snacks?

  • pistachios or almonds
  • yoghurt and fruit
  • popcorn cakes (I usually eat a Swedish brand, but Skinnypop’s popcorn cakes are tasty and available in the US)
  • KIND protein bars–my favourite is crunchy peanut butter
  • crisp bread with cheese, veggies or spread

The most important thing is to have something at hand.  You know you’ll need to eat every 3 hours. It may take a while for food service to start on your flight. Why let yourself get hangry (who wants to be hungry and angry? Not me!) when it’s so easy to avoid?

Don’t forget your medicine and vitamins

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Don’t leave home without them! (Photo by Iren Moroz/shutterstock)

How many times have you forgotten to pack your medicine or vitamins? My advice? Get yourself a travel pill case and fill it with everything you need. I have one that has the days of the week on it. I picked it up at my local pharmacy. You can also find them at Target or Walmart.

They come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are more stylish than others. Mine is pretty basic. I was mostly concerned with having one that could hold a month’s worth of medicine and vitamins since I was heading to the US on vacation. But you can find them in weekly sizes too.

Stay hydrated

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Staying hydrated is super important. (Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash)

I’m sure this sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how easy it is to become dehydrated from not drinking enough water. It’s especially easy to do this when you’re already stressed about the long queues at the airport or train station. Sleeve patients need to drink 64 to 96 ounces of water per day, so let’s make sure we stay hydrated.

  • Once you’ve gone through the security check, buy a bottle or two of spring water or bring your own empty bottle and fill it at a water fountain.
  • Remember to avoid sugary and carbonated drinks.
  • Coffee and tea count towards your fluid intake.

Opt for the special dietary meals on flights whenever possible

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Remember to pre-order a special meal. (Photo by diy13/shutterstock)

When I flew to the US in July, I made sure to order a low-sugar meal on British Airways at the same time as I booked my ticket. The special dietary meal was included in the price of my ticket and had to be ordered up to 24 hours in advance. Most airlines offer the same service on flights where meal are served, so make sure you request a special meal if you’re having problems digesting gluten, need a diabetic meal or prefer a vegetarian/vegan meal. DO NOT make the mistake of waiting until you’re on your flight to request a special meal. These meals need to be pre-ordered.

Forgot to pre-order your meal? If you’re leaving from a major airline, you should be able to find restaurants in the terminals once you’ve gone through security. When I’ve flown from Stockholm to Philadelphia via London-Heathrow and forgotten to pre-order a special meal, I’ve picked up lactose-free and/or gluten-free meals to take on my flights from Wagamama, Gordon Ramsay Plane Food and other restaurants in Terminal 5. I’ve also been able to get delicious and healthy options that worked with my sleeve from Healthy Gourmet and La Tapenade at Philadelphia International Airport.

Use your bariatric patient special diet request card at restaurants

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A sample special diet request card (Photo credit: http://www.connectionwls.com)

I can’t guarantee that every restaurant will honour it, but most of the time I’ve been able to get a smaller portion (and sometimes even a price reduction) by showing my bariatric patient special diet request card which I received from the hospital where my surgery was performed. This card explains that I am a bariatric surgery patient and that it is recommended that I have smaller portions due to the reduced size of my stomach. I’ve used it while traveling here in Europe and in the US and most times it’s been accepted. Some restaurants will allow you to order from the children’s menu if you show them the card, but most times the children’s menu doesn’t have healthy enough options on it.

If a restaurant refuses to honour your card and you’re staying somewhere where you’ll have access to a refrigerator, ask them to put half of your meal in a takeaway container. I did this while I was in the US on occasions where I either forgot the card at my mother’s house or I forgot to show it when placing my order.

If you don’t have a bariatric patient special diet request card, ask your nutritionist or doctor to provide you with one. It definitely comes in handy.

What about you? Are you a seasoned pro at travelling with your new stomach? What are some of your favourite tips and tricks for staying on track while traveling? 

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Popsugar and YouTube are helping me get fit

Now that I am freelancing and working from home, I have more time to focus on feeling stronger and getting fit. Part of this is walking more, but I am also taking other steps to feel stronger.

One of those ways is exercising more. I recently began checking out POPSUGAR Fitness on YouTube and their 10-minute workout videos. Since I spend a lot of time sitting at a desk writing, these are perfect for me when I need to take a break and move my body but don’t want to go out for a long walk yet.

via GIPHY

 

I can’t say that I am an enthusiastic exerciser. I used to work out a lot, more from necessity than anything else. That’s why it’s imperative that any exercise I do feels fun or doesn’t feel like a chore. I’ve found three that I’ve tried and really like.

10-Minute No Equipment Flat Belly Workout

 

The 10-Minute No Equipment Flat Belly Workout is good for beginners and more experienced exercisers. The modifications for beginners are great, even for someone like me who’s got a bum knee. I’ve done this workout twice so far and it’s challenging enough that I don’t get bored, but not so challenging that it feels impossible. This is definitely a doable workout and you get a nice burn afterwards.

Tightest Arms in Town 10-Minute Workout

I’ve done the  Tightest Arms in Town 10-Minute Workout twice as well and it’s fun. Yes, your arms will be tired afterwards. Yes, you’ll feel a burn…and I am pretty sure you will like it. I know I did. 🙂

10-Minute Toned Booty & Thigh Workout

I’ve only tried the 10-Minute Toned Booty & Thigh Workout once so far, but I like it. It will definitely be repeated. My booty and thighs were seriously tired by the time I was finished, so those ten minutes were not wasted. 🙂

If you’re going to work out at home, make sure you have a good yoga mat and some hand weights.

A few other POPSUGAR Fitness 10-minute workouts that I am going to try:

I also found Ashley Graham’s Curvy Girl Fit Club from netaporter.com and Tracy Anderson 10-minute workout from goop which I think I’ll try as well. I like having variety, so having different ones to try will keep me from getting bored.

The great thing with creating my own routine to follow is that I can easily fit two or three videos workouts into my day without feeling like it’s impossible. And now that I am doing NaNoWriMo and spending even more time at my computer as I try to get my daily word count goal in, these fitness videos are a welcome break when I feel like all that plotting and character development is making me loopy.

What are you doing to get toned post-op?

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Catching up: I know…it’s been a while

I know…it’s been a while

It’s been a long time since I updated here, and I am sorry for that. Life got in the way.  After a stressful spring, a somewhat restful summer that inevitably became yet another stressful autumn, I decided I’d had enough. It culminated in me deciding to resign from my position and focus on freelancing and fiction writing again. This is my first week of writing full-time and so far, so good. I am still open to finding another full-time job, but right now I am enjoying being in charge of my own time and being able to choose the projects that I work on and the people I work with.

How am I doing?

How am I doing? Update

I’m getting there… 🙂

My weight loss has been a bit slower than I’d expected, but I expect some of this was due to the stress I was under and not having enough time to exercise as I should. Now that I am freelancing, I have more space in my schedule and I’ve already booked two yoga passes for this week and gone on two long walks. Next week, I’ll be returning to strength training.

Back to meal planning

Another good thing about working from home is that I can focus on planning my meals again. I lost focus of it during the summer and never really got back into it. I started again last weekend and made Skinnytaste’s turkey meatball stroganoff (though I substituted chicken for turkey since my local supermarket was out of ground turkey) in my slow cooker. If you haven’t tried this recipe, you really should! It’s delicious.

I’ve already got a few dishes planned for next week:

Buying winter clothes

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My new winter parka (Photo: lindex.com)

Since I’ve lost quite a lot of weight, most of my winter clothes are now too big. I was hoping I could continue using the same winter coat (which I bought last year at H&M and loved) but it fits like a sack now. I’ve added it to the donation bag, along with an autumn-weather coat I purchased a few years ago from ASOS, and several pairs of jeans that are in excellent condition but that slide off my hips now.

Yesterday I went to H&M to look for another winter coat. I tried on three, but none of them really spoke to me and said they wanted to follow me home. I ended up going to Lindex and found a green parka that looks exactly like the one I’m donating. Plus, it’s got sherpa fleece in the hood and lining. I love it! 🙂

I also stocked up on socks, since you can never have too many pairs of socks.

I’ve already got two pairs of great winter boots, so I don’t need to worry about those. But I need to find some thicker pull-on pants for the weekends and another pair of jeans. That’s a project for next week.

And how are you?

How’s it going for you? Have you reached your next major weight loss goal following surgery? Hit a stall? Or what’s your favourite workout? Drop me a line! 🙂 I am still trying to figure out what mine is (or will be) any tips you have will make me a very happy camper.

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Time flies — it’s time for a late-July update

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I’ve just come back from my hometown of Philadelphia. (Photo by Fredy Martinez on Unsplash)

Sorry I haven’t been very good about updating here. Most of the spring was pretty hectic and I’ve been feeling a bit disorganised and unfocussed lately. I could blame it on the heat, but that would be dishonest. The craziness of my spring bled into my summer and then suddenly it was time for me to fly to the US for a three-week vacation. It was all a bit of a whirlwind. Now I am back and I am jet lagged.

Things I have learned so far this summer:

  • My sleeved stomach is still too sensitive for very spicy or fiery food
  • Avocados and almonds are great for getting rid of leg cramps caused by magnesium and potassium deficiencies
  • Instead of craving candy, I now crave parmesan cheese
  • My surgery scars still sometimes feel sensitive or itch — apparently will be the case for a few more months
  • Honest T Moroccan Mint Green Tea makes me happy — unfortunately, now that I am back in Sweden, I can’t find it in any stores here so I will have to make it myself
  • Guacamole is still one of my favourite snacks
  • I can walk long distances again without having knee pain or back spasms
  • As much as I love cheesesteaks, my stomach still can’t handle them — maybe next year
  • I worked out in a gym while I was in Philadelphia and it felt good
  • My weight loss stalls when I don’t get enough calories in
  • I hate the way most protein shakes taste — they actually make me nauseous
  • Peanut butter flavoured Kind bars make good snacks when travelling
  • My peanut butter craving is still alive and well

So what else is new? Well, since my surgery in January, I’ve lost 56 pounds, which means I’ve nearly reached my end of July/beginning of August goal. In fact, I am only 2 pounds away from it and that makes me very happy.

My goal for August and onwards? To be better about keeping you updated and to start working out at the gym again since I’ve mostly only been walking a lot and working out at home.

Now if I could only get rid of this jet lag…

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A little update and a little clothes shopping

one pot salsa verde chicken and riceHow am I doing? Update-7

Ever since I started this weight loss journey, one of the things that I hadn’t really thought about much was that sooner or later I would have to buy new clothing. Realistically, I knew that losing weight would mean either going through everything in my closet and seeing if I’d saved anything that was once too small…or daring to go into stores and see if I’d lost enough weight to buy smaller sizes. It was going to happen sooner or later, right?

But…even when the scale doesn’t always seem to be budging much, I’ve begun to notice differences in how my clothes fit. My favourite t-shirts and sweaters are now very loose and all most too big to continue wearing to work. My favourite pairs of skinny jeans now feel a bit too saggy. But…I don’t really want to spend a lot of money on new clothing when I know that I will probably lose more weight very soon.

I’ve made a few purchases so that I can have shirts and pants to wear to work. At the weekends, now that it’s getting warm here in Stockholm, I’ve mostly worn in lightweight pants and t-shirts. The shirts and pants below I found at Lindex. I was able to buy them in an XL — and they’re a little loose.

 

I’ve focused too on finding underwire-free bras since the underwire rubs on my surgery scars and feels uncomfortable. I found some at KappAhl and will buy a few more when I’m in the US in July. I also bought these in XL.

 

And then I bought some pants, two blouses and a spring jacket from H&M. Again, the nice thing was that–even though these were still part of their plus-size range, I was able to buy them two sizes smaller than what I wore pre-surgery.

I’m pretty satisfied with how things are going, even if weight loss in May has been a little slower than expected. I won’t complain. My surgeon and nutritionist say I am right on track, so that’s all that matters.

By the way, my husband and I are trying a new recipe today, one pot salsa verde chicken and rice. It’s from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen. I’ll keep you posted, but I think it’s going to be delicious.

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Hair today…gone tomorrow?

Now that I’ve hit the three-month mark since I had my gastric sleeve operation, I’ve started to notice a few things:

  • I always seem to go through a weight loss stall the week before my period starts
  • My stomach does not like fried eggs so much, it prefers omelettes and scrambled eggs
  • My hair is starting to shed…a lot

I’ve learned to accept the weight loss stalls. Now that I’ve noticed they always seem to be in conjunction with the oncoming start of my period, I don’t bother to panic. I met with my surgeon and nutritionist last week and was assured that my weight loss was right on track and to keep on doing what I am doing, so yay me. 🙂

My stomach not liking fried eggs right now is also something I can deal with, even though I do appreciate perfectly fried eggs. At least it likes scrambled eggs and omelettes–which happen to be my favorite sort of eggs.

My hair though…well, this is not the first time I’ve gone through hair loss.

Back when I was around 27 or 28 and my PCOS problems were at their worst, clumps of hair fell out. I woke up one morning to a big clump of hair on my pillow. I also went through a period of hair loss when I had an allergic reaction to birth control pills. It took several years for my hair to regain anything close to its original thickness and coverage. Luckily, a nurse at my local health clinic recommended some hair vitamins that helped when things were at their worst.

But now, due to losing so much weight, I am going through it again. I haven’t bothered to get into a panic about it, though it did take me by surprise yesterday morning when I washed my hair and I saw just how much hair I was shedding.

It was a lot more than normal.

It was enough that it made me realize that it’s time to start taking hair vitamins again.  Luckily, I’ve already been using a shampoo and conditioner for fragile hair, so I think that will help a bit too.

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I just started using the Coriander Strength Source range from L’Oréal Botanicals Fresh Care. I like how it makes my hair feel.

 

 

In the meantime, I am looking into how I should cut my hair so that I won’t think so much about how much hair I am shedding. I know it’s only temporary, but still…

Maybe one of these styles will be perfect for me?

Have you experienced hair loss or excessive hair shedding since losing weight? Which products are you using to help with slowing it down? And which hairstyle do you think I should try?

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#mealprepsunday or what I made this week

Now that I am a little over two months into my gastric sleeve life, I’ve had a chance to figure out some truths about myself.

  • I hate having to think too much about what to eat for lunch
  • When I come home from work, I am usually already very hungry and…
  • If I am already very hungry, I don’t want to stand in front of the stove preparing dinner

So that’s when meal prepping has been a lifesaver. I’ve talked about this before, but I think it’s important enough to revisit. The worst thing for me when I am trying to lose weight is trying to figure out what to have for dinner (and then opting to just pick up takeaway instead) or going to the grocery store when I am already hungry. I get “Eyes Bigger than Stomach” syndrome. I buy too much of things I probably already have. I also buy items that I don’t actually want or need because my hunger takes over and convinces me I need them.

This is one of the reasons why I nearly always order home delivery of my groceries from a service available here in Sweden called MatHem. I’ve gotten in the habit of browsing through my cookbooks or checking out the latest recipes from my favorite food bloggers, settling on a few ideas and then ordering whatever I need to prep at least two meals that I can stretch over the week as lunch or dinner. I also make sure I have whatever snacks I need like crisp bread, yoghurt, cottage cheese, etc so that I don’t give in to my donut cravings.

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I’ve managed to withstand any donut cravings. 🙂 (Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash)

If you’re trying to lose weight or you just want to make life a little easier, meal prepping is a great way to stay on track and simplify your life. I admit I am not always the most consistent meal prepper, but when I do I feel so much calmer. I don’t have to worry about whether there’s something in the fridge I can throw together or warm up because I already know what I made. I can easily put together a lunch box, knowing I already have food that I like (and that’s good for me) prepared.

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I made cashew nut curry with halloumi and broccoli for dinner (and lunch). My husband loved it. (Photo credit: Amy at the Cook Report)

So what’s on my menu this week? Cashew Nut Curry with Halloumi and Broccoli from the Cook Report. and a modified version of Slow Cooker Turkey 3-Bean Chili (I made it with ground pork and two type of beans) from Skinnytaste. I’ll probably make one more recipe this week. I’m thinking about Turkey Meatball Stroganoff (also from Skinnytaste).

Looking for meal prep ideas? Check out these blogs and sites:

Or do you already meal prep for the week? I’d love to hear about your favorite meal prep ideas!

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Catching up – life so far

I really should apologise for the radio silence. My ambition has always been to post at least once a week, but since my sick leave has ended and I am back in the office it’s been difficult to find the time and energy to post. Work is work. I don’t see that situation changing very much unless I find a better place to spread my wings. Will try harder though.

So in case you’ve been wondering what I’ve been up to (besides writing at work): I’ve been trying to finish two novellas (will tell you more about those on my author website) and following my eating plan (as per nutritionist’s instructions, give or take a few tweaks) and exercising (as per my physiotherapist’s instructions, give or take a few tweaks). The weight is coming off at a slow, easy pace–which is exactly what my surgeon recommended. He said this would ultimately be better for long-term weight loss maintenance and would give my body time to adjust.

A typical day’s eating is something like this:

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This is a typical breakfast for me. (Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash)

Breakfast: a bowl of lactose-free yoghurt with fresh fruit or a bowl of oat milk/almond milk/lactose-free milk with some granola, followed by a cup of tea or a glass of water. Plus, I take my vitamins.

Mid-morning snack: I choose one of these: crisp bread with some cheese, some grapes,  protein peanut butter cookie, or cottage cheese with a dried fruits and nuts mix. A small coffee with a little oat milk or lactose-free milk.

Lunch: a small serving of a Chicken Burrito Bowl from Skinnytaste washed down with a glass of water.

Afternoon snack: a banana or 2 rice cakes, a glass of water and a small coffee with oat milk/lactose-free milk. Or a Barebells protein bar.

Dinner: a small serving of bolognese sauce with rice pasta (Biorì’s gluten-free tortiglioni made with rice is really good) and veggies, plus a glass of water. Sometimes I treat myself to a small glass of wine. This depends on my stomach. Sometimes it likes wine; sometimes it doesn’t.

Evening snack: a small cookie (baked by my gorgeous hubby, who adjusts the recipe to how I have to eat these days) and a cup of coffee with oat milk/almond milk/lactose-free milk.

I don’t drink protein shakes, diet soda or any diet drinks. I stick to water and unsweetened tea or coffee. As I said earlier, sometimes I have a glass of wine, depending on the whims of my stomach. I don’t use artificial sweeteners in anything. Instead, I choose to honey, maple syrup or a little brown sugar.

I haven’t had any problems with dumping syndrome other than when I ate a small piece of chocolate mousse cake during fika. I’ve tried other sweet things and my stomach seems okay with them–as long as I only have a small piece. But most of the time I don’t have cravings for sweets.

As for exercising, I have an exercise plan recommended by my physiotherapist, which includes doing 3 sets of tricep presses, crunches, leg lifts and planks. I do these every weekday morning as soon as I wake up. I’ve also added an at-home kettlebell workout to it, which I do twice a week.

So how am I doing, weight wise? According to my surgeon, I am right on track. 🙂

How am I doing?

Have you had bariatric surgery? How’s it going for you?

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Catching up: #mealprepsunday

Sorry that I have been so terribly lame at posting lately. My sick leave ended on 19 February, and being back at work has not been very conducive to my writing. I am not very happy with the current situation nor with the solutions being bandied around to “fix” the problem. But that’s another story. Let’s just say that I come home from the office and the desire to blog or write fiction is low.

But one thing that I have been doing is sticking to my diet plan as prescribed by my surgeon and dietician.

I’ve started doing meal prep at the weekends to help me stay on track with getting the right amount of nutrients every day.

To get ideas for meal prepping, I’ve been consulting Ambitious Kitchen, Jamie Oliver, Skinnytaste and Pinch of Yum.

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My egg muffin cups–yummy!

Last week, I focused on prepping an alternative breakfast to my usual yoghurt with muesli. I ended up making Ambitious Kitchen’s Healthy Breakfast Egg Muffin Cups–super easy to make and you can easily customise the recipe. I added ham, kale, mushrooms, plum tomatoes and mozzarella to my muffins. Two or three mornings, I’ve had my egg muffin cups instead pf yoghurt and been very happy. The only thing I’ll do differently next time is use cupcake liners next time since my nonstick muffin tin decided it didn’t want to behave like a nonstick tin and I spent a tad bit too much time having to scrub away egg residue (despite brushing oil on the tin).

My husband made a lamb ragù sauce for us, which we had for dinner a few times last week. I ate it with 30 grams of whole grain pasta, which worked with my still sometimes sensitive stomach. I found some gluten-free pasta from Biorì which I am going to try this week. It’s based on rice, buckwheat and corn, so will see if it’s to my liking.

The Slow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowl recipe is a definite repeat for us. 

Today, to prepare for the upcoming work week, I decided to try a recipe from Skinnytaste’s Skinnytaste Fast and Slow cookbook for Slow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls. I recently bought an Electrolux slow cooker and decided this would be the first recipe to try out in it.

My husband seemed a little skeptical at first but when the aroma began to tickles his nose, he couldn’t wait to try it. I am notoriously impatient in the kitchen, but this burrito bowl recipe is super-easy to follow and it takes care of itself. Just put everything in the slow cooker and let it cook. In the meantime, I was able to get some writing done and then take a walk and go to the grocery store to pick up items I’d forgotten to add to our grocery delivery list. When I came home, the slow cooker was counting down the last 3 or 4 minutes and it smelled divine. Once it was done, I shredded the chicken, added back to the slow cooker and stirred everything together. And the taste? YUMMY! It will make a great lunch (or dinner) with some brown rice or cauliflower rice to it.

I’m already looking at recipes to try for next week’s meal prep. Here are a few of them:

What about you? Are you a #mealprepper and what have you got planned for the upcoming week’s menu?

P.S. I use affiliate links to help offset the cost of the website. If you click on any of the links and purchase anything I recommend, you’re helping me keep the site going. 🙂

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Back to Work: All around me is…stress

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I think a lot of people felt like screaming today. (Photo by Gabriel Matula on Unsplash)

After four weeks of sick leave, I returned to work today. I’ve been both looking forward to and dreading returning to the office. I’ve missed my team. I work with some of the nicest, most talented people–but we are too few, and we have too much to do. But that’s a discussion for another day.

I was greeted with lots of hugs and had a chance to catch up with my team. I was very happy to hear that part of the never-ending project that has been driving me and my art director bonkers due to other people’s indecisiveness (among other things) is finally done. It was a relief to hear that a chunk of it is now off our shoulders. This project has been so frustrating and I’ve had symptoms of stress stomach from it, as has my colleague.

We both agreed that we must find ways to shield ourselves from this stress.

Things I noticed:

  • From now on, I will prep my lunch before going to bed so I’ll have more time in the morning for my writing
  • Trying to eat slowly in a canteen where everyone is so stressed feels almost impossible; will have to figure this out
  • Commuting felt fine until I reached T-Centralen and was surrounded by everyone who seemed to be in a crappy mood or in a rush to get nowhere fast

When I last spoke with my doctor, his advice to me was to put ME and MY HEALTH first. He’s aware of how chaotic my day-to-day situation has been and he recommended that I have a slow start before jumping back into work full-time. I am following his advice.

This week, I work part-time. Next week, I ease myself back into full-time, but for now I will try to hold onto this sense of calm I’ve had since just before my operation. It will probably be close to impossible, but I will do my damnedest. Stress was part of what led to some of my health problems. I don’t want it to stall my journey.

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