Ice Age Trail Gratitude Hike

“Into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.” – John Muir

In years past, I would head out for a night or two in the woods and take some sort of adventure to get there. I would use that time for introspection and personal growth. I find a lot of benefit in getting outside of my comfort zone. Some of my favorite memories are from those trips.

packing
Taking all of this except the cat!

Recently, one of my favorite people in the world started hiking the Ice Age Trail and this year has been checking off segment after segment. She invited a group of friends to join her when we can, and it worked out to do a hike the weekend of September 25-27th, 2020. I had plenty of time to locate proper gear that I’m currently lacking, thanks to a generous friend. I love the planning and preparation of these trips. Unfortunately, a couple of days prior, that friend was ill. The prospect of back-to-back 11 hour days and a significant drive to/from the trail was not happening. I was already packed and by that point really looking forward to some adventure. With the encouragement of my amazing husband, and the trail information from my friend, I decided to do a solo. Just one night in the woods. I would depart midday Saturday and return Sunday. And then Friday as I was preparing for work, my husband was checking the weather. Storms Saturday night, but just a chance of light rain Friday. It was clear I should head out Friday after work! The whole segment is 14.5 miles (supposedly). I would hike nearly 5, camp, then hike 9.5 the next day. Not bad. I am fit and active. My pack weighed 22# even with 2 quarts of water. Several times during the hike I thought about the fact that I used to carry the equivalent of 2 of those packs wherever I went by way of excess weight!

It has been 5 years since I’ve done a trip like this. Yes, sleeping in Wisconsin’s Northwoods in a tent in the middle of nowhere both scares and excites me. I felt energized as I did my Friday morning work and got the final things ready to go. I was in a great head space, and happy to be bringing our adopted Red Heeler, Kyah, on her first such adventure!

I reviewed the map with my husband, made sure I had a copy saved on my phone, made sure we had tracking apps on our phones, let my mom know my plans, and wore my ID bracelet. I posted nothing about it on social media. Safety first!!! And then I was off to the woods. To hike the Harrison Hills segment of the Ice Age Trail. I parked the van, put packs on both Kyah and myself, and off we went! 3:30pm. Yeah it’s called Harrison “Hills” for a reason! My goodness! On top of Baldy Hill I caught my breath and took in the view. I decided once we crossed Highway 17, I would take a water break and check the map.

 

I had been so excited that I parked west of the highway instead of east. Basically I was going the wrong way. And I had to turn around, get over Baldy Hill, and hurry it up a bit to find this supposed campsite in time to set up before dark. I do carry a headlamp, but it’s just much easier in the daylight! As we hiked back towards the van, I noticed Kyah’s pack had come open and she was missing her cloth booties and half of her food!! Crap! So, we turned around again…. collected the items as we went, and made a pit stop at the van for a safety pin to hold her pack together, bug spray I had forgotten, and to top off water.

 

On Baldy Hill

Heading the correct direction, I picked up the pace. I noticed my heart rate was 130-145. Also I noticed the scenery and it was absolutely amazing. The fall colors are perfect. The bugs are minimal. The breeze was blowing through the trees and rustling the leaves. And you know the smell of the forest in autumn??? Yeah….. I just want to drink it in and savor it…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At about 6:15 I saw a sign that said “Campsite –>”. YES!!! There are 2 in that area, but I figured if this one was empty I’d happily take it. Not only was it empty, it was gorgeous. Right on a beautiful little uninhabited lake, complete with a fire ring. The MSR Hubba 1-person tent that I borrowed practically sets itself up. It’s so easy! Next was the Big Agnes Axl Insulated Sleeping Pad (also borrowed) and a warm, lightweight quilt. Camp was set up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I boiled a little water and added the following mix: herbed dried potato flakes, homemade ranch style seasoning blend, crushed soy curls, dehydrated veggies and a scoop of plain pea protein powder. Tasted great! I had a belly full and my dishes washed by 7, which was good because it was getting dark fast. I put on my headlamp and started searching for things to make a fire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have a really great neighbor!

And then a large black animal came running at us!!! What the ????? It was my friend, Brenda’s dog! And then Brenda! I felt such joy in seeing her smile. While I was fine with the solo night in the woods idea, visiting around a little fire with this friend was even better. She knew where I would be and knew where to park to make it a quick hike in for herself and her sweet, crazy black lab named Spoke.

I put Kyah’s cloth boots on before letting her in the tent, to protect the air mattress and tent from her dog claws. She curled right up and fell asleep. Honestly it was so nice having her there. Between that, a friend nearby, and the quality gear I was borrowing, it was some of most pleasant camp sleep I’ve ever had. I listened to the coyotes and to the random sounds from the lake, like maybe a fish or a frog jumping. The weather was perfect, with just a couple drops of rain early on in the evening.

 

 

 

 

 

Brenda aka “The Treat Lady” 🙂

 

Saturday morning we had a casual time of breakfast (oatmeal), coffee and packing up. At 8am we hit the trail. At the 0.5 mile point, we stopped at a stream to fill my water bottles. My filter, which I haven’t used since probably 2015, was producing only a tiny drop of water at a time. So, Brenda came to the rescue with her better filter, got me all topped off, and sent the filter with me for the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just have to say I really appreciate her friendship. Brenda is one of the most resilient people I’ve ever met. She inspires me. AND she is super fun! Some of my favorite memories from mountain bike racing include her. Anyone reading this who knows her, knows what I’m talking about.

Onward! As I previously stated, I was in for about 9.5 miles on this day. I was feeling good. I was happy to be using trekking poles for my first time. With the rugged, leaf-covered trail, they saved me many times from a potential sprained ankle. They helped offload some of the pressure on my knees on descents and helped me climb up some really steep hills.

In the absence of some major life decision or dilemma to ponder, I pondered gratitude as my theme for this adventure. Gratitude for the absolute beauty of moraines and kettles. For the colorful display of leaves. Purple asters. Large quartz rocks. Lichen on trees. Moss on rocks. Wind rustling leaves. Crazy steep hills. Views for miles. A husband who loves me and supports my adventuresome spirit. Being able to let go of the barriers to love that I’ve held for so long. My body. My friends. My dogs. The volunteers who maintain this rugged, “hummocky” trail that weaves through so many little lakes.

 

 

 

 

Unspe
So much beauty!

 

Around 5 miles in, an old and unwelcomed feeling came to the outside of my right knee. I’ve dealt with chronic connective tissue pain for over a decade. It has a lot to do with why I stopped racing mountain bikes. This year has been the best in a very long time. But, here it was. Every downhill step by about 7 miles in made it a bit more intense.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hiking buddy
Kyah
Kyah taking a rest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lookout Mountain. Click for a better view.
Follow the familiar yellow blazes on the trees. Very well-marked!

My rhythm was to hike 2 miles and then take a break to remove my pack, drink water, eat 1/2 of a No Cow protein bar, and take care of Kyah. My pace was around 24 min/mile. I knew I could finish the 9.5 although other connective tissues were telling me to be done soon throughout both legs and feet. I like to finish what I start. I could rest the next day. I’m not good at quitting when I commit to something.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks, Herb!

At mile 8 I came to a small trailhead and had enough phone service to see the radar (rain coming) and the map. 3.7 more miles?!?!?!?!?!? I may have had a little meltdown. There may have been swearing. Kyah found a dead rodent to roll in with her pack on. I was out of food, anticipating being done at 9.5.  I may have been struggling for gratitude in those moments. But, we kept going. In fact, mile 10 was my fastest. I was getting to the point of just wanting to be done due to the pain. I did stop to appreciate the scenery a few times, though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last 0.3 miles I could hear the highway and I started to actually run. I wanted to have the pack off and sit down. It felt so good to reach that sign!!! I felt accomplished and relieved. I reached for my phone to call my husband, who was to pick me up, and….. seriously??? No phone. F**** me. I left both my pack and Kyah’s there and headed back up the trail. About where I had started running is where it lay. Thank goodness!! So, I got over 12 miles. I sat in the ditch with Kyah, notified my husband who was mountain biking with a friend nearby, and listened to thunder rolling in. My phone alerted me to a severe thunderstorm warning. He was still riding. An hour after I got to the highway, there he was, just in the nick of time! He rescued me, and we stood in the rain visiting with our friend over a beer or two 🙂

I’m so glad I had this little adventure. It will be awhile before I try again, because clearly I’d need to better prepare my body for that type of activity.

Read more about the terrain here: https://www.ci.merrill.wi.us/index.asp?SEC=D55A65EB-671A-450D-B5A2-BD9EF5AC7F21&DE=982148AC-D9BC-44BB-8F9C-FA067DDB595D

A Bump in The Road

Time for some full disclosure. If you are bothered by open wounds, you may feel free to leave this page. You have been warned! I want to be very open about my experience. I realize this information and the photos aren’t for everyone, but I also know there are many women who need this kind of information.  

I went in to Mommy Makeover surgery in very good health! There were tests prior for basically everything. I’m a fit, active non-smoker with a BMI at the time of 24. The only risk factor I might have would be my age of 45. I have a history of obesity and auto-immune issues.

Mentally, I thought that I was above any complications due to my excellent health. I had a super extended tummy tuck with muscle repair, breast lift and augmentation on 5/20/2020. Everything went just fine. I chose my surgeon carefully. I am well educated about these things as a nurse with operating room experience and also as a health nerd!

Two weeks post-op, my right breast had pain and warmth. I removed the tape dressing and noticed it was looking infected. I contacted my surgeon’s office and they were prompt to call an antibiotic in to my local pharmacy as well as give me care instructions. They really did handle it swiftly.

Two weeks later I felt like it was time to visit the local wound clinic. I’m really glad I did! They were absolutely excellent. They have the high-tech wound care supplies. I continued to visit them weekly for over 2 months. As of this writing on September 14th, 2020, it is days from healing and I’ve decided to handle it on my own from here. I’ve been changing the dressing 1-2x/week as well as the wound nurse doing it 1x/week for all of this time.

Not going to lie, an open wound is kinda painful. I’ve had worse pain, yes but I dreaded packing the wound. It hurt for hours afterwards. I worried about it worsening and having to undergo more surgery.

Now it only hurts a little sometimes and all worry is gone. It’s almost closed and it will be barely noticeable.

What happened was that my body and the dissolvable stitches under my right breast just didn’t work out very well. The wound clinic nurse said it’s nothing anyone did wrong, but it happens sometimes. I can see that. My body doesn’t even like adhesive. I’m sensitive to lots of things. Like I said, this could have been much worse!

I have zero regrets on doing this for myself. It’s been worth the whole process to feel better in my skin. It’s truly what I hoped it would be!

As to why I had the surgery in the first place, here are photos of before and after.  I wrote an in-depth blog about my surgery here: Mommy Makeover.

And now on to the wound progression photos. I will update once it has healed completely over.

Metamorphosis

WARNING: May not be suitable for those who are under 18 years of age or squeamish about the human body.

“The great loneliness- like the loneliness a caterpillar endures when she wraps herself in a silky shroud and begins the long transformation from chrysalis to butterfly. It seems we too must go through such a time, when life as we have known it is over- when being a caterpillar feels somehow false and yet we don’t know who we are supposed to become. All we know is that something bigger is calling us to change. And though we must make the journey alone, and even if suffering is our only companion, soon enough we will become a butterfly, soon enough we will taste the rapture of being alive.” – Elizabeth Lesser

Transformations abound on the internet. I want to share with you the 20 year view of my metamorphosis, which was celebrated recently via  a photo shoot with the amazing Pure Poise Photography I cannot recommend it enough! To work with a skilled, comfortable, uplifting photographer is an experience that is absolutely worthwhile in my opinion. It changed the way I see myself. It’s the perfect gift to yourself for achieving a goal! Of course after spending the majority of my life overweight, I have remained self-critical and nit-picky. I don’t think I’m alone in that. Amanda has shown me the truth of my own beauty through her lens.

And don’t think for a minute this transformation is purely physical. My confidence level is at an all-time high! I’ve done the physical work as well as the mental and emotional work! The effects are far greater than what you see on the outside. Years ago I would allow people to repeatedly abuse or control me in many ways that I won’t go in to here. Know that I stand my ground now and I am a much happier person, secure with myself, and happily in a wonderfully supportive marriage. The freedom I have gained to express myself and feel good about who I am makes me want to lift those around me. You deserve to be happy and self-confident, too!!!

Here is my journey in a nutshell (and I’m not done yet!!):

2000
Me in 2000, obese and close to a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.

2014
2014, 7 years of hardcore cycling, 6 years of mountain bike racing, 4 years strict paleo style diet.

2020
2020, 3 years vegan, added home strength training, couldn’t budge the loose skin!

2020, 12 weeks post-op from Mommy Makeover surgery. You can see the bandage under my breast from a complication that I had.

Click to view this set, which represents my transformation from chrysalis to butterfly 🙂

So you see, change takes time. I feel better in all the ways at 45 than I did at 25!! Also, I am so grateful I was able to proceed with the surgery to remove all of that loose belly skin, repair my separated abdominal muscles, and lift and even out my super floppy, super uneven breasts. Dr. Mel Ortega is who I chose for my surgery, and I am so pleased! It takes 6-12 months for the final results to show, but if this is where I am 3 months in…. well I’d go through it all again in a heartbeat. Zero regrets! More about my surgery here.

Drop a comment or contact me if you have any questions or are in need of support in your transformation. Imagine a world where we inspire one another for the sheer joy of it!

Mommy Makeover Surgery

Why I Opted for Plastic Surgery

Warning: Photos will show lots of skin. No full nudity. Photo gallery at the bottom of the page.

Post-surgeryAs a result of 3 pregnancies and obesity, I was left with a lot of loose skin. No amount of exercise would tighten it up. I have been consistently exercising for well over a decade, and have not been obese for nearly 2 decades at this point. I felt awkward in my clothes, forever adjusting them to try to conceal my belly. I became a master at posing to minimize it. I also was sporting a very mismatched pair of saggy, pendulous breasts; a size C and a DD to be exact. When it came to shopping for things like bathing suits, bras, and shirts, I had a heck of a time. I was resigned to a life of sports bras and solid colors.

In 2019 I had been fascia blasting for 2 years. While it helped tremendously with my chronic pain issues, my belly was not tightening up. I tried CryoSlimming and spent well over $1000 to try to freeze the stubborn area. Within days it went back to how it was.

 

 

So much skinI’m 5’1″ and had been hovering around 130#, exercising both strength and cardio 6 days/week and working an active job. And this was where I was at.

To work that hard, that consistently for so long is very frustrating to me. Since going vegan I had incredible energy. I feel better than I ever have at 45 years old. Yet, this….

Summer 2019 I started giving thought to this “mommy makeover” surgery. I poked around on the internet a little bit and saw the cost would be around $20,000, so I set the idea aside. Since becoming debt-free, I save for things that I want, and that was a bit out of reach anytime soon.

But the idea wouldn’t leave my head. In September I was on a fascia blasters Facebook group looking for more ideas on how I could fix this belly, and a gal said she had a tummy tuck, and it was the best thing she ever had done for herself. She had traveled out of the country and it was not very expensive. So, I started shopping around. I also joined this group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/235763626785590/

While prices in Mexico, Columbia and the Dominican Republic were very low, I just did not feel comfortable. I stumbled across Miami as a hotspot for cosmetic surgery and started searching in the tummy tuck groups. There were 3 surgeons that really stood out to me as being excellent and affordable. We do have a plastic surgery center about an hour away, so I also set up a consultation with my “local” surgeon. I took nude photos and sent them off for virtual consultations with the 3 in Miami. Awkward? Yes! But a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!

5mpo
5 months post-op

By this time it was November and I was on the verge of my 45th birthday. I knew in my heart this is what I wanted to do.

Now to answer the question of where I went and why.

Spectrum Aesthetics got back to me with a quote of $7500 including extended tummy tuck with muscle repair, lipo to 2 areas, breast lift and augmentation, pre-op visit, post-op visits and support for a year), and post-surgical garments (binder, bra, compression socks). I opted for silicone breast implants to give my desired shape – most of you never knew I was a C on the right and DD on the left and had a hell of a time shopping for clothes. Anyway the silicone brought the total to $8300. I booked my date on November 22, 2019. The date was set for April 15, 2020. And then it ended up being postponed due to COVID-19, to May 20, 2020.

Dr. Ortega was so humble and personable. He’s been at this for 30 years and is a sculptor in my opinion when it comes to mommy makeovers. I felt completely comfortable the moment I met him, which was on the day of the surgery. He took one of my original photos I had sent in, marked it up with proposed changes, and then we both signed in agreement. After that he made the same markings on my body, explaining and telling stories as he went. There was always a female assistant in the room.

Oh and then I also paid the Wausau facility $75 for a consultation. Nice surgeon, but the portfolio was not exactly the work I was looking for. Estimated cost $21,000 not including pre-op and post-op visits, garments, etc. Likely would have had a night at the hospital.

Flight to Miami (Fort Lauderdale) was about $250 round trip via Southwest out of Milwaukee and they were awesome about carting me around in wheelchairs on the return. 2 checked bags included.

Hotel was $850 for 9 nights at Candlewood Suites, for a 2 bed (and recliner, thank God) handicap accessible suite with a kitchenette. They also had a great cancellation policy, and that was important to me in case I was postponed again.

I did rent a car which I could have done cheaper but it was around $400 for 9 days and 2 drivers.

Pre-operatively I had to have lots of tests done. I had met my deductible in January with physical therapy for my shoulder, and that brought the tests down to a few hundred total. Otherwise it may have been closer to $1000. Off the top of my head it was mammogram, chest x-ray, abdominal ultrasound, EKG, urine, blood for CMP, HgA1C, TSH, HepC, HIV, pregnancy, CBC and I think even some others. My local provider (shout out to Tiffany Miller NP at Aspirus) has been awesome and supportive.

Post-op medications for me were Norco, Zofran, Lovenox, Cephalexin and Flexeril. Would have been about $150 but with my insurance it was around $8.

You can do the math and see why I’d rather go to Miami and have a doctor who does excellent work, than spend at least double and not be satisfied with my results. I’d recommend Dr. Ortega for sure.

I had heard stories regarding long waits for appointments at Spectrum and poor communication, but that was not my experience. The staff was kind and courteous and I have had no problem reaching someone when I need to. They are still following up with me by phone weeks later to make sure all is well.

In Miami, the pre-op appointment is the day before surgery. They take your height (they said 5’2″ and I’ll take it!), weight (127# that day) and vitals. There’s drug and pregnancy testing, and photos.

Surgery day!The day of surgery I actually went to Dr. Ortega’s other facility, iBody. I was relieved, because drop off and pickup would be easier than Spectrum’s tight parking garage, and the facility is not as busy. The assistant brought me back where I was screened for fever and given shoe covers. In the exam room I was given cap, gown, underwear, compression socks and booties. I took another drug and pregnancy test, and also a COVID-19 test. I had brought a backpack with my wallet and a blanket, and wore a long zippered robe to/from.

One thing he asked was why I wanted to do this. I was caught a little off guard, but it was easy for me to answer. I want my body to be as awesome as the rest of my life is.

Items I would recommend having:

I basically lived in this thing. I wore it to surgery and they put me back in it for discharge. Aside from having to wash it, it’s been my go-to. I’ve worn a maxi dress a couple of times, but this is one thing I could not go without: Women Zipper Robe Short Sleeve

An electric recliner would be fantastic. I had a manual at the hotel for the first week but needed help pushing in the foot for the first few days. I could not sleep in bed, so the recliner was the best option. At home I thought I would just use pillows in bed, but I could not get comfortable. I’d highly recommend renting or purchasing an electric recliner for at least a couple of weeks. I ended up borrowing a zero gravity lounge chair from a friend and padding it with a quilt and pillows, but it’s not very cushy.

I actually brought a personal blender with for making smoothies that would be easy to consume and boost my recovery. My favorite was a scoop of vanilla protein powder (plant-based, like Orgain), 1/2c frozen pineapple and a handful of kale or spinach, with just enough water to blend. High in protein, contains bromelain from the pineapple to help with swelling, and greens are full of nutrients!

And this guided meditation. I cannot recommend it enough! I started listening daily at about 2 weeks out, including while I waited to go into the operating suite. It made such a difference in my nerves. I felt calm, confident and excited! I subscribed the app for a month and still listen to the affirmations post-op. https://www.healthjourneys.com/successful-surgery

Regarding the recovery…

It is crucial to have a caregiver. I chose my mom, who happens to be an experienced nurse. She was absolutely fantastic. There are recovery houses all over Miami, but no one is as good as Mom 🙂 She can handle emptying drains, administering and keeping track of meds, giving anti-coagulant injections, and helping with showers, cooking, getting the damn foot of the recliner shut in the middle of the night, you name it.

I was discharged as soon as I woke up from anesthesia. This was the hardest part. They do not send you off with pain meds. Your caregiver can go get them from the pharmacy while you are in surgery, and that’s what she did. I wake up hard. I also normally wake up vomiting but they were excellent about meds to make sure that did not happen. My mom picked me up. It’s foggy but I remember being in quite a lot of pain and wondering if the taste of the anesthesia gas would ever leave. Bumps in the road hurt on that 15 minute drive to the hotel. Once there, she was able to get a wheelchair from the hotel and get me up to the room. I took a pain pill and just tried to breathe through it all. Felt like hours before it was under control. For the first 3 days it was all pain management, scheduled, even during the night. By day 2 it was manageable, though. Probably a 4-5/10 versus 8-9. I was able to walk to the bathroom but was completely hunched over like an 80 year old lady who rarely stands up! I had 2 Jackson-Pratt drains sticking out of me – 2 for breasts and 2 in my mons pubis that went up into my rib area.

Here I am, just before surgery and at my 1-day post-op visit. Very swollen. Breasts look a little weird for a few months. All perfectly normal. You get the idea, though!1 Day

For that first week post-op, I rested a lot. I would get up to walk frequently and then sleep more. I took up watching Netflix on my laptop. It was a comfortable hotel room. Mom took me on a driveabout to see the area once I was a few days post-op. I loved seeing the colorful stucco houses, palm trees, and Banyan trees.

When it came time to head home, we took a scenic route from Miami to Fort Lauderdale. I had the opportunity to dip my toes in the Atlantic ocean for the first time, at Hollywood Beach. It was heavenly.

We were traveling during COVID-19, so we took all precautions. Both of us being nurses helps! We wore our masks, even using N95 on the airplanes. Nothing was crowded. On a 150 passenger plane, it ranged from 18-50 passengers. I had sanitizing wipes for my seating area, did not eat/drink/toilet during the flights, etc. Beaches were closed when we arrived, but Broward County was open upon our return, hence my brief beach experience. Dipping toes in the Pacific and the Atlantic were on my actual bucket list, and I checked them both off in within the same 6 months with my mom. Awesome. I’m hooked!

Flying home was alright. I flew in to Milwaukee, which is 20 minutes from my mom’s home. Her awesome husband does the drop off and pick up, helping with bags. When I booked my flight I requested wheelchair assistance. Southwest Airlines was great! They carted me around all 3 airports (had a layover in Orlando) and I was among the first to board, with my assistant (Mom).  By this time I was mostly off of prescription pain meds and nausea control, but saved one of each for this long travel day.

After spending the night at Mom’s, I drove the 4 hours home. It wasn’t bad. I made one stop for gas/bathroom and one for coffee. Since that day (8 days post-op) I have been off of prescription pain meds entirely (took my last one before bed that night).

Being home has been fine. I take rest breaks and sometimes naps. The hardest part was having the 2 drains in until 15 days post-op. The insertion sites were sore whenever I bent or walked, so I really just wanted to sleep until they could come out. The problem was getting comfortable. We do not have a recliner, so I had tried setting something up on the couch. After a few days my back hurt so bad – far worse than my surgical sites. A friend offered his “zero gravity” outdoor lounge chair, I padded it up with a quilt and pillows, and it’s been a lifesaver. I would say having a recliner would be the way to go, though. At day 17 I finally got a wedge pillow and put that in bed, with a jumbo yoga bolster for under my knees and was able to sleep in bed. To wake up without a stiff neck and back this morning was wonderful!

11There are things that I didn’t expect, like how numb and foreign my belly would feel due to the nerve damage. I’ve always heard that liposuction is very painful, but I did not experience that. In the areas that received lipo, I just feel bruised to the touch, and that is lasting several weeks. For the most part I don’t notice it, unless I bump something or get a back rub from my sweet husband and he touches that area (bra line and flanks).

Recovery is longer than I anticipated. Dr. Ortega recommends the following for me, mostly due to the repair of rectus abdominus from xiphoid to pubis (abdominal muscles were separated):

6 weeks for work and lifting anything over 10#
12 weeks for vigorous exercise such as mountain biking

So, this is the summer of walking for me.

I wear a surgical bra 23/7 for the first month, an abdominal binder and compression stockings for the first 2 weeks, and then a faja or similar garment with an abdominal board 23/7 for the next few months. It’s a long process, but for me the results I’m already seeing are worth it.

I couldn’t be happier with my decision. Time to live the second half of my life, comfortable in my own skin.

Update at 11 1/2 weeks post-op…

What a journey!! Here are some random things about recovery:

The worst was that I had a couple of dissolvable stitches under my right breast become infected about 3 weeks post-op. 2 months later, I’m still dealing with an open wound. I have to change the dressing every 3 days and pack it, so it heals from the inside out. I expect I’ll have an odd scar on that side, but it is under my breast. You can see the dressing in the black and white photo. It’s been a bummer, but it is healing. My local wound clinic has been the best resource. Dr. Ortega’s office was very responsive in the early stages as far as prescribing wound care and antibiotics, but there came a point I wanted local help, so my local primary care provider wrote the order for the wound clinic. Post Added 9/14/2020 with photos.

At 5’1″, find an off-the-rack faja that fits is impossible. I ordered a custom from Contour Fajas and I only regret not doing it sooner. It is quite comfortable (for a faja, anyway). I have changed clothes a lot today and opted for no compression, and I really should have worn it. I feel more swollen than usual. At this point, part of me is tempted to wean myself off, because they say 3-6 months.

I started doing some light jogging and modified strength training at around 5 weeks, and have done so every day since. That has been good. I wear an abdominal binder when I work out, which helps me feel more put together.

At about 10 weeks post-op I could finally sneeze without it hurting.

I went mountain biking and pushed my limits at 11 weeks post-op, and my abdominal muscle repair actually hurt. When I push too hard or do too much, that’s where I feel it.

I’m still numb and swollen above my tummy tuck incision. I know that takes several months to go away, so I am just riding it out.

I have a physical job and went back to it at 4.5 weeks. 6 would have been more appropriate.

For my tummy tuck scar, I use Bio Oil and this: Gelzone Garment Belt Silicone. I tried 2″ silicone tape, but it rolled up. This gives my scar area a little support and compression. I cut it from 6″ down to 4″.

 

Mommy Makeover
« 2 of 2 »

April 2020 Stay Home Get Fit Exercise Week 4

No Gym Required 🙂

Note: When I started naming this program by the week, it was April. It is now May. Oops!

The general outline is this:

  • Bike/run 3 days per week
  • Full body strength training 3 days per week
  • Recovery day with easy yoga and maybe even some meditation
  • Walking every day that is not a bike/run day

BikeHere’s the Week 4 Cardio Workout Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday:

  • 10 minute warmup – if running, just ease into a brisk walk. If biking, a pace you could sing or talk during 🙂
  • Beginners – 4 intervals of 1:00 at a hard effort, then 1:00 rest between
  • Intermediate – 5 intervals of 1:00 at  hard effort, 1:00 rest between intervals. Then go easy for the rest of the ride/run/walk.
  • 10 minutes easy return home, or if it’s nice, keep on going. On nice days I will easily be out for at least an hour. See what you can find in nature to take pictures of and share.
  • Focus on your intervals when you’re doing them, but beyond that, focus on fun over speed. When I stop caring about how fast I’m walking a mile and start paying attention to birds, trees, my dogs, etc., my enjoyment factor goes way up.

Home GymStrength Training Monday/Wednesday/Friday:

  • Warm up for 3-5 minutes doing jumping jacks, dancing to your favorite tunes, doing any PT types of exercises with bands that you know you should be doing (for me that is rotator cuff work), shoulder rolls, arm circles, back slaps, ballistic legs.
  • 2 sets of 12-15 reps of the following with a 2 minute break between sets. Otherwise, keep it moving as you’re able! AND THEN do 1 more set of as many reps or as much time as you can handle!
  • The last reps should be very difficult!
    • Pushups
    • Plank 45 seconds
    • Squats
    • Pullups/inverted rows/band rows
    • Hanging leg raise/reverse crunch
    • Lunges (10 each side)
    • Tricep dips
    • Clamshells
    • Leg lift/side crunch combo
  • Stretch

Instructional video for the exercises

Recovery Day Sunday:

 

This program is being provided free of charge. However, if you would like to donate (suggested donation $10-$20), you may do so here: paypal.me/tranquilsolemassage – Thank you!!

Join the Facebook group for free support and daily updates! Team Estrogen

April 2020 Stay Home Get Fit Menu Plan and Shopping List Week 4

Note: Serves 2
Also Note: Breakfast and lunch are fairly repetitive and boring. Make your life exciting, keep it simple and if you want to make something fancy, make it for dinner. No need to over-complicate things.

And I was not thinking when I started titling these posts, but it’s May. I’m still going with April week 4 🙂

Shopping List Here

Week 4 Menu

Drink 3 quarts of water daily!
Prep on Sunday: Quinoa for lunches (I use a rice cooker), tempeh bacon https://www.noracooks.com/smoky-baked-tempeh-bacon/, seitan bread loaf http://www.myveganplate.com/low-carb-high-protein-bread/, 2 recipes worth of the seitan from Friday’s menu (and then freeze those)

Breakfast – 1/4-1/2c dry of quick oats. Double that amount water. 1/2c frozen blueberries. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until thick. Stir in 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder, sprinkle with cinnamon and eat. OR throw it all in a dish the night before and pop in the fridge for overnight oats.

Post workout – plain yogurt, handful frozen strawberries, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder

Lunch – BLT’s + 1/2c quinoa + lettuce salad with balsamic drizzle

Snacks – raw cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, radishes, protein shake

Monday Seitan Chorizo Crumbles with thinly sliced sauteed cabbage and pinto beans.

TuesdayMongolian Beef Soy Curls + rice for the husband, served over lettuce for me, with sauteed red bell peppers (2) and black beans.

Wednesday – Field Roast Italian Sausage sliced and sauteed, served in Field Day Spice Arrabbiata sauce over noodles for the husband and over zoodles for me (I like to saute my zucchini noodles in a small amount of olive oil with fresh minced garlic, with a side of cannelini beans.

ThursdayBuffalo Soy Curls note that I use dried herbs for the ranch-style dressing. Serve with steamed broccoli and cannelini beans.

FridayBBQ Seitan Skewers served with black beans.

SaturdaySweet Chili Tofu Bowl over rice.

On this day also throw a frozen banana in with 2 scoops protein powder for your mid-morning snack. Eat an extra serving of quinoa at lunch, and have a couple slices of toast if you feel like it!

SundayCurry Seitan “Chicken” Salad served with steamed broccoli and either a batch of dal (I’ll make some in the Instant Pot and freeze leftovers) or whatever legumes you might have.

 

Shopping List Here

April 2020 Stay Home Get Fit Exercise Week 3

No Gym Required 🙂

The general outline is this:

  • Bike/run 3 days per week
  • Full body strength training 3 days per week
  • Recovery day with easy yoga and maybe even some meditation
  • Walking every day that is not a bike/run day

BikeHere’s the Week 3 Cardio Workout Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday:

  • 10 minute warmup – if running, just ease into a brisk walk. If biking, a pace you could sing or talk during 🙂
  • Beginners – 4 intervals of 1:00 at a medium hard effort, then 1:00 rest between
  • Intermediate – 4 intervals of 1:00 at  hard effort, 1:00 rest between intervals. Then go easy for 10 minutes and repeat the set of intervals.
  • 10 minutes easy return home, or if it’s nice, keep on going. On nice days I will easily be out for at least an hour. See what you can find in nature to take pictures of and share.
  • Focus on your intervals when you’re doing them, but beyond that, focus on fun over speed. When I stop caring about how fast I’m walking a mile and start paying attention to birds, trees, my dogs, etc., my enjoyment factor goes way up.

Home GymStrength Training Monday/Wednesday/Friday:

  • Warm up for 3-5 minutes doing jumping jacks, dancing to your favorite tunes, doing any PT types of exercises with bands that you know you should be doing (for me that is rotator cuff work), shoulder rolls, arm circles, back slaps, ballistic legs.
  • 3 sets of 12-15 reps of the following with a 2 minute break between sets. Otherwise, keep it moving as you’re able! The last reps should be very difficult!
    • Pushups
    • Plank 45 seconds
    • Squats
    • Pullups/inverted rows/band rows
    • Hanging leg raise/reverse crunch
    • Lunges (10 each side)
    • Tricep dips
    • Clamshells
    • Leg lift/side crunch combo
  • Stretch

Instructional video for the exercises

Recovery Day Sunday:

 

This program is being provided free of charge. However, if you would like to donate (suggested donation $10-$20), you may do so here: paypal.me/tranquilsolemassage – Thank you!!

Join the Facebook group for free support and daily updates! Team Estrogen

April 2020 Stay Home Get Fit Menu Plan and Shopping List Week 3

Note: I plan for 1 person for breakfast, lunch and snacks since my husband usually does his own thing there. I make dinner for 2.
Also Note: These meal plans are fairly repetitive and boring. I’m currently working on losing fat, so this is intentional! Boring food, exciting life. The seasonings do make a lot of difference with things like tofu.

Shopping List Here

Week 3 Menu

Drink 3 quarts of water daily!
Marinate tofu in the evening for the next day.
Cook tempeh and rice on Sunday for quick lunches throughout the week.

Breakfast – 1/4-1/2c dry of quick oats. Double that amount water. 1/2c frozen blueberries. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until thick. Stir in 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder, sprinkle with cinnamon and eat.

Post workout – plain yogurt, handful frozen strawberries, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder

Lunch – Marinated, quartered tempeh (steak seasoning, liquid aminos, maple syrup, baked 20 min at 400, turning halfway through) , 1/2-1 package frozen broccoli, steamed, 1/2c cooked white rice.  Meal prep on the Sunday prior to the start of the week so that tempeh and rice are cooked and ready. At lunch, simply steam your broccoli and heat the rest.

Snacks – raw cabbage, cucumbers, radishes, protein shake

Monday – Italian tofu. Tofu marinated in 2T olive oil, 2T lemon juice, 1t dried rosemary, 1t basil, 1/4t garlic powder, 1/4t salt ,black pepper to taste. Once marinated for several hours or overnight, bake for 20 min at 350F, turning at the halfway point. Warm pasta sauce in a saucepan, and add baked tofu. Serve over zoodles or pasta of your choice. Serve with 1/2c cannelini beans and salad greens, drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

Tuesday – Soy curls (1/2 package) rehydrated in Better than Bouillon broth, then tossed in 1/4c nutritional yeast and any seasoning you’d like. I’ll use about 1T poultry seasoning. Air fry for 20 min at 390F, turning at the halfway point. Serve with steamed cauliflower and black beans.

Wednesday – Mexican tofu. Marinate in 2T olive oil, 2T lime juice, 1T agave nectar, 2t chili powder, 1t smoked paprika, 1/2t garlic powder. Once marinated for several hours or overnight, bake for 20 min at 350F, turning at the halfway point. Serve with steamed sliced cabbage and pinto beans.

Thursday – Soy curls (1/2 package) rehydrated in Better than Bouillon broth, then tossed in 1/4c nutritional yeast and any seasoning you’d like. I’ll use about 1T hot Cajun seasoning. Air fry for 20 min at 390F, turning at the halfway point. Serve with steamed green beans and lentils.

Friday –Thai tofu. Marinate tofu in 3T peanut butter, 1.5T lime juice, 1.5T liquid aminos, 2t agave nectar, 1/2t garlic powder, 1/2t ginger powder. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, turning halfway. Serve with steamed Savoy cabbage, 1/2c black beans, salad greens drizzled with leftover marinade.

Saturday – Vegan Orange Chicken – recipe here: https://veggiefunkitchen.com/vegan-orange-chicken-with-soy-curls/  serve over rice, with steamed broccoli.

On this day also throw a frozen banana in with 2 scoops protein powder for your mid-morning snack. Eat an extra serving of rice at lunch, and have a couple slices of toast if you feel like it!

Sunday – Sweet and smoky tofu. Marinate in 2T olive oil, 2T liquid aminos, 2T maple syrup, 1t chili powder, 1/2t garlic powder, 1t liquid smoke. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, turning halfway. Serve with steamed green beans, 1/2c black beans, salad greens drizzled with leftover marinade.

Shopping List Here

April 2020 Stay Home Get Fit Exercise Week 2

No Gym Required 🙂

The general outline is this:

  • Bike/run 3 days per week
  • Full body strength training 3 days per week
  • Recovery day with easy yoga and maybe even some meditation
  • Walking every day that is not a bike/run day

BikeHere’s the Week 2 Cardio Workout Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday:

  • 10 minute warmup – if running, just ease into a brisk walk. If biking, a pace you could sing or talk during 🙂
  • Beginners – 3 intervals of 1:00 at a medium hard effort, then 1:00 rest between
  • Intermediate – 4 intervals of 1:00 at  hard effort, 1:00 rest between intervals
  • 10 minutes easy return home, or if it’s nice, keep on going. On nice days I will easily be out for at least an hour. See what you can find in nature to take pictures of and share.
  • Focus on your intervals when you’re doing them, but beyond that, focus on fun over speed. When I stop caring about how fast I’m walking a mile and start paying attention to birds, trees, my dogs, etc., my enjoyment factor goes way up.

Home GymStrength Training Monday/Wednesday/Friday:

  • Warm up for 3-5 minutes doing jumping jacks, dancing to your favorite tunes, doing any PT types of exercises with bands that you know you should be doing (for me that is rotator cuff work), shoulder rolls, arm circles, back slaps, ballistic legs.
  • 3 sets of 10 reps of the following with a 2 minute break between sets. Otherwise, keep it moving as you’re able!
    • Pushups
    • Plank 45 seconds
    • Squats
    • Pullups/inverted rows/band rows
    • Hanging leg raise/reverse crunch
    • Lunges (10 each side)
    • Tricep dips
    • Clamshells
    • Leg lift/side crunch combo
  • Stretch

Instructional video for the exercises

Recovery Day Sunday:

 

This program is being provided free of charge. However, if you would like to donate (suggested donation $10-$20), you may do so here: paypal.me/tranquilsolemassage – Thank you!!

Join the Facebook group for free support and daily updates! Team Estrogen

April 2020 Stay Home Get Fit Menu Plan and Shopping List Week 2

Note: I plan for 1 person for breakfast, lunch and snacks since my husband usually does his own thing there. I make dinner for 2.

Week 2 Menu

Drink 3 quarts of water daily!
Marinate in the evening for the next day.
Cook black beans, lunch tempeh, quinoa and seitan on Sunday.

Breakfast – 1/4-1/2c dry of quick oats. Double that amount water. 1/2c frozen blueberries. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until thick. Stir in 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder, sprinkle with cinnamon and eat.

Post workout – plain yogurt, handful frozen strawberries, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder

Lunch – Marinated, quartered tempeh (steak seasoning, liquid aminos, maple syrup, baked 20 min at 400, turning halfway through) , 1/2-1 package frozen broccoli, steamed, 1/2c cooked quinoa, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with sea salt. Meal prep on the Sunday prior to the start of the week so that tempeh and quinoa are cooked and ready. At lunch, simply steam your broccoli and heat the rest.

Snacks – raw cabbage, cucumbers, radishes

Monday – Mexican style plant-based crumbles. Cook crumbles with 2T olive oil, 2T lime juice, 1T agave nectar, 1/2t garlic powder, 2t chili powder, 1t smoked paprika. Serve with steamed carrots, spicy black beans and salad greens drizzled with balsamic.

Tuesday – Thai seitan. Marinate seitan or tofu in 3T peanut butter, 1.5T lime juice, 1.5T liquid aminos, 2t agave nectar, 1/2t garlic powder, 1/2t ginger powder. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, turning halfway. Serve with steamed purple cabbage, 1/2c black beans, salad greens drizzled with leftover marinade.

Wednesday – Field Roast Italian Sausage crumbled and browned in minimal olive oil. Add jar of pasta sauce. serve over zoodles or pasta of your choice. Serve with 1/2c black beans and salad greens, drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

Thursday – Sweet and smoky seitan/tofu. Marinate in 2T olive oil, 2T liquid aminos, 2T maple syrup, 1t chili powder, 1/2t garlic powder, 1t liquid smoke. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, turning halfway. Serve with steamed green beans, 1/2c black beans, salad greens drizzled with leftover marinade.

Friday – Air fried soy curls. Rehydrate in veg broth for 10 min. Drain and press to remove more liquid. Toss in seasoning of choice and air fry 20 min at 400, stirring at the midway point. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, turning halfway. Serve with steamed cauliflower, 1/2c black beans, salad greens drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

Saturday – Chorizo seitan (recipe on Food.com or buy premade Field Roast). Crumble and pan fry with no or minimal oil. Serve with steamed cabbage, carrots and whatever other veg need to be used up, 1/2c black beans, salad greens drizzled with 1:1 maple syrup and any mustard you have on hand.

Sunday – Buffalo style soy curls (Dianne’s Vegan Kitchen) with salad greens, 1/2 c. black beans and steamed broccoli. Drizzle with cashew ranch.

Shopping List Here