Losing Inches, Not Pounds

nicole bullock purple dress
Most people who have gastric bypass surgery have very rapid weight loss in the first year. Once the pounds stop dropping, plateaus can be very frustrating.

Not only is it annoying to step on the scale and see the same number (or see a higher number), it’s been tough to deal with the fallout publicly. I’ve been really open and honest about my weight loss and measurements, and I know people are paying attention. When I haven’t posted my current weight on MyFitnessPal for a while, I start getting questions. Some of my favorites:

“Did you give up?”

“Did you decide to have your surgery reversed?”

“Are you waiting to post your weight so you can show off a big number?”

“I noticed that your weight loss stopped. Would you be interested in trying _____?” (insert various multi-level marketing weight loss product)

“Are you exercising? It’s really important to exercise when you’re trying to lose weight.”

belly fat comparison

The last comment is the one which makes me laugh, especially on MyFitnessPal. They have access to my weight losses just as much as they have access to my workout records. Way to be observent, buddy!
The first week of December began my plateau that’s been sticking around for about 2 months. The first week of December was a few days after I began working out at the gym on a regular basis. I try to be really consistent with my workouts. Some weeks when I’m not feeling sick (or completely sleep-deprived), I successfully work out up to 6 days a week. On a busy week, I average between 2-4 workouts. This past week I was sick for 9 days in a row, but I still made it to the gym for some very light walking routines twice.

So. The scale isn’t really budging, but I’m really not worried because my body is toning up. It’s tough to get a good comparison picture (mostly because I only took one fairly poor photo as my “before”), but if you take some time to look, you can see that the definition in my belly is much better. The top picture was taken a few days before Christmas, and the bottom picture was taken earlier this week. Not bad for 7 weeks!

I got some great photos and headshots taken lately, and I’ll be posting those soon…but I wanted to show you how much my body has changed since December 2011.

nicole side view comparisonMy measurements have changed as such:

  • Neck 14.5″ (-2.25″)
  • Bust 42.5″ (-9.5″)
  • Chest 37″ (-9″)
  • Waist 38.5″ (-10.5″)
  • Upper belly 40.5″ (-12.5″)
  • Hips 45.5″ (-17.5″)
  • Thigh 29.5″ (-4.5″)
  • Calf 18.75″ (-4.25″)
  • Ankle 10.5″ (-2″)
  • Upper Arm 16.25″ (-3.75″)
  • Forearm 11.5″ (-3″)
  • Wrist 7″ (-2″)

My Size 30 Jeans

gastric bypass dischargeThe last pair of pants I purchased before surgery were a pair of size 30, elastic waisted boot-cut jeans from Lane Bryant. The largest size that they carried in the store.

I was mortified to be at the point that I was wearing the largest size available in local stores. If I gained any more weight, I would have to press my luck with the “large and tall” store (that rarely had anything that big) or order things off the internet (and send them back because they wouldn’t fit).

Utah doesn’t have a lot of options for plus-sized clothing. There are many locations of Lane Bryant, a few CW Banks and Deb stores, and the last Fashion Bug store just went out of business. You can shop at Torrid if you want to look super trendy, but the quality of the clothing is awful. There are no Avenue, Cato, Catherine’s, Woman Within or Ashley Stewart stores. You can get sizes up to 24 at most department stores, but your options are horribly limited after that.

Now I have lost 125 pounds. And I can now put my old size 30 jeans on…and fit into one leg! And my daughter can jump in there with me!

nicole and rosie in size 30 jeans

standing on one leg of old jeansIt hardly seems real that these jeans used to be the ones that were such a tight fit, and only fit on me because they had an elastic waist. They weren’t the most stylish jeans in the world, but they were the ONLY pair I could find to fit me.

Last week on my surgiversary, I decided to buy some new jeans with my birthday money. I’ve been a fan of Lane Bryant’s T3 (Tummy Tightening Technology) jeans, and have purchased them in sizes 28, 26, 24, 22, and 18. My size 18 T3 jeans are getting a little baggy, so I thought I’d just buy some size 16s. But…for the first time in a year, the T3’s didn’t fit me right.

I browsed the clearance rack and found a pair of size 14 jeans on clearance for $22. They looked like they would fit, so I tried them on just for the fun of it. And whoa! They fit! I haven’t fit into a pair of size 14 jeans in nearly a decade.

shopping at lane bryantAnd what is significant about size 14 jeans at Lane Bryant? They’re the smallest sized jeans they carry. That means I just purchased my last pair of jeans from Lane Bryant. I’ve been shopping there since I was 18. And now I have so many other options for clothes, I may never even step in the doors again. I like their bras, but now my band size is too small. I’m in a 38D-DD now, and they don’t have 36’s. I guess I can unsubscribe from their email list now.

Farewell, Lane Bryant! You’ve clothed me well for a decade and a half. At least, as well as a store can…when you have very few other options.

For comparison: wearing my size 30 jeans on 2/8/12 when discharged from the hospital from surgery…and wearing size 14 jeans on 2/8/13!

nicole size 30 size 14

My One Year Surgiversary

nicole bullock weight loss

nicole bullock gastric bypassI cannot believe how much my life has changed in the last year. I knew that embarking on gastric bypass surgery would change many things about my life, but this year has been absolutely life-changing. Surgery hasn’t just changed the way I eat, it’s changed the way I think, act, and do all the little things in my daily life.

If you haven’t read it before, I encourage to read this post: Why I’m Having Gastric Bypass Surgery. Reading this post this morning brought tears to my eyes. I was in such a depressed, unhealthy, and hopeless place. I felt stuck, and trying countless diets and fitness plans over a twenty year period hadn’t given me adequate results. I needed something more drastic.

nicole blue dressObtaining approval from my insurance company was the most difficult part of the pre-op process. Not only had I spend nearly 3 years deciding if weight loss surgery was right for me, I had to wait 12 months for Cigna to approve my surgery.  The weight loss surgery approval process is a frustrating formality, and delayed starting my new life by almost a year. That year of waiting brought a lot of sadness and desperation, and I gained weight, despite being on a physician-assisted weight loss plan.

I finally received approval for my surgery from Cigna on January 20th, and surgery was immediately scheduled for February 8th. I started my pre-surgery diet on January 30th and had my pre-surgery evaluation. On this day I weighed in at 373.3 pounds, the highest I’ve ever weighed. One year later, I weigh 248.0 pounds.

On February 7, 2012, I walked into the foyer of St Mark’s Hospital for my roux-en-Y gastric bypass. My check-in time was 6:00 am, and I did not feel fear. I felt hope and joy. I knew that my surgeon, Dr Sherman Smith, was one of the top surgeons in the industry, and I had total confidence in his abilities. There were no surgical complications, and I was out of the hospital 36 hours later.

I’ve been documenting all of my successes and struggles this year. I have shared my weight loss victories, but also my “non-scale victories.” Sometimes when life was tough, I didn’t want to write about it, or would just put up a picture for Wordless Wednesday. I attended the Obesity Help conference in Atlanta and spent time with my friends from Bariatric Bad Girls Club. I’ve done my best to educate my readers by answering questions about weight loss surgery. I participated in the Color Me Rad 5k. I was featured on the local NBC affiliate as KSL’s Blog of the Week. I’ve been nominated for awards, and will be speaking at my first conference in 2013.

I haven’t done as many vlogs as I’d originally planned this year, but here’s on in honor of hitting the one year mark.

nicole bullock facial comparison

My journey is far from over.nicole bullock My 125 pounds of weight loss has taken me from a BMI of 53 to 36, which is still technically obese. I am at the lowest weight I’ve been since 2005, but I have not stopped my efforts. Even though my weight loss has been slow the last two months, my body is still shrinking. I’ve been in a plateau since the beginning of December, but I haven’t slacked off. I currently am attending the gym (or otherwise exercising) 4-6 times a week, and most days I am still eating under 1,000 calories. My ultimate weight loss goal is 170, but my surgeon has recommended 190. That leaves 60-80 more pounds to go.

my fitness pal workoutI’m doing most of my tracking in MyFitnessPal (username cuteculturechick). The majority of my workouts are done on the track…and are a combination of walking leisurely, speedwalking, jogging, and sprinting. I try to mix things up, and also spend time lifting weights, swimming, spinning, and going on the elliptical.

Here’s a screen shot of what I logged in MyFitnessPal this morning. It seemed like poetic justice that I was in the gym running at 6:00 am today, when exactly one year prior I was walking into the hospital for surgery. A year ago if you’d told me that I would enjoy running, I would have laughed in your face.

So here’s to a great year of successes…and to a future filled with many more!

Wordless Wednesday: Slimming Down and Wearing Spandex

Nicole bullock weight loss

Wordless Wednesday: January 2012 to January 2013

nicole bullock weight loss

Wordless Wednesday: Facial Comparison At 10 Months


Wordless Wednesday: Ten Months – 120 Pounds


Month 10 Post-Op Update

nicole bullock weight loss comparison

Sometimes it’s hard to really see the progress within yourself in a weight loss journey. You notice small changes, but you don’t always recognize how you’re changing in the grand scheme of things.

When you look at this side-by-side comparison picture of me, it’s obvious I’ve lost a significant amount of weight (119 pounds as of today). But this picture does not reflect the other ways I’m changing and evolving as a human soul.

As I’ve discussed in multiple posts on my blog, the most difficult part of the weight loss surgery journey for me has been my emotional evolution. Sorting out my self-image and the relationship between my long-held beliefs about body can be very confusing. I don’t always know if I’ll recognize the person looking back at me in the mirror. Sometimes I’m larger than I’m expecting, other times I just don’t look like me. I hadn’t been morbidly obese my whole life, and on my “skinny days” I see a very young Nicole staring back at me.

rei winter workout clothes

Not that youth is a bad thing! It’s fun to ask people how old they think I am. Lately, it’s usually 25-27 years old. Most people are surprised when I tell them I’m 32 and I have a 12 year old daughter.

I feel like I can look more youthful with my “new body.” I’m dressing in more age-appropriate clothing (since I’m not limited by juvenile “youth plus” or the mature fashions in the women’s department (that I shouldn’t have to wear for a few decades). Before surgery, I was wearing 28/30 size jeans. Now I’m in size 18 jeans, and even smaller in stretchy activewear. In the picture I’m wearing here, I’m in a 14/16 yoga pant and a men’s large jacket. I’m starting to pick around and try on fashions in XXL and XL sizes in the “regular” women’s department, instead of being limited to the plus size racks.

nicole bullock weight loss

As I’ve dropped weight and I’m dressing more my style, I am getting a lot of attention on my appearance. After years of feeling like I was either ignored or shunned for being morbidly obese, it’s fun to be closer to average-size. I’ve been blessed with great features (especially my hair and eyes), so even at my highest weight I got compliments. But now I get them every day, and from people who probably would never have talked to me before. I’ve noticed men being more gentlemanly, flirtatious and chivalrous, and women warm up to me in conversation more quickly. I’m enjoying the barriers that are diminishing in my social life.

As much as I’m lapping up the attention, I’m also conflicted at times by it. The compliments I’m getting about my body are exciting, but I’m noticing people are more complimentary in general.  I get kind comments on my  professional talents and more praise on the projects I accomplish. I feel like I’m working as hard as I ever was, but I get more attention for it. The horrible assumption that “fat = lazy” has become more prevalent as I drop pounds and I’m suddenly not considered lazy anymore. Surgery didn’t magically make me a go-getter…I’ve always been one.

Nicole Bullock KSL blogger event

I’ve had some fun non-scale victories lately, and one of them is having the confidence to be fun and playful on camera. I went to an event this week hosted by KSL 5 Television, and was able to tour and goof off in the studio. I took a lot of pictures with my friends, and I wasn’t always concerned about the angle I was standing at, or if the way my head was tilted gave me a double chin.

I was given the opportunity to be interviewed on a segment about children and online safety on KSL yesterday. Had I not lost the weight, I would have let the opportunity pass by. But with my increased confidence with my weight loss, I accepted in a heartbeat. I was excited to be on camera, and my worries about the segment were limited to what I’d look best in on camera. If you’d like to watch the segment, here it is:

Last week, my family returned from a 8 days in England and Ireland. I was able to fully enjoy the trip, including the days where we walked around the city for 10 hours. I’ll be writing a post about my experiences in London this weekend.


Comparison – Down 50 Pounds

nicole bullock weight lossSeveral people asked me to post a side-by-side comparison of how I look from before surgery until now. After hitting the 50 pound milestone, I thought it was a good time.

Although I’ve lost weight and inches all over my body, people still say to me, “Yeah, I can see it in your face.” So today is a face shot. I’ve gone from a triple chin to one and a half (meaning, I still have a lot of extra skin and fat, but it’s not quite so chubby). My cheeks aren’t so round. My eyes look brighter and I don’t look so tired.

With such a big difference at 50 pounds, I wonder where I’ll be at 100. Or 150. Or 200.