Email usgeof@phoenixfitnessdenver.com

Interview with Melissa

This interview with Melissa is one I have wanted to do for a while. She is someone that has impressed me with her drive and determination to get the most from her weight loss surgery. From starting a training program, seeing it through and completing a 100 km bike ride to her dedication to always measuring out her meals and not letting portion creep get the best of her diet. As you will hear this wasn't her life before surgery but the embrace of the this life change has paid off. My hope for you is that if you are struggling with something that you find something from this conversation that will resonate with you to make a positive change.

Geof: 00:00 Where were you before you started in surgery? Weight Wise, exercise wise, health wise, all that sort of got you to the point to decide that you wanted to go into surgery?

Melissa: 00:13 So I kinda Yo. Yo’d. And up and down my weight when I was early twenties, the smallest side was ever like a 14 size 14. I was still like 175. That’s like the only adult weight that I remembered and that was like early twenties, like straight out of college. I got my first desk job, gained a bunch of weight so I lost 50 pounds on weight watchers but then my PCOS started getting worse and so I moved out here and then I gained a bunch of weight and so I tried to lose weight and you know, I tried everything from my kickboxing to like weightlifting to cardio, walking like even like I’ve tried running a few times and it was just kind of like an up and down struggle with a lot of work without any results because of my PCOS was on metformin. I was on birth control for my high testosterone low estrogen. So. And I have high cholesterol because my PCOS and my genetics, so I was all right. I’m like mid thirties. My weight’s just going up clearly I need some kind of health.

Geof: 01:10 So see what is in surgery.

Melissa: 01:12 That’s how I kind of started seeing stuff about the lap band. And so I just kinda like, I was like, oh well maybe that’s the, you know, all these people lose all this weight on it. Right. And so I started researching it and then I, you know, now it’s like not really done that much because the slippage and stuff. But that’s how I. Then I, then I started researching the weight loss surgery and then I found the sleeve so I didn’t get bypass because I was self pay and I would like if there’s a bunch of complications I have to cover all of that. So I was like, honestly, it sounds like you’re fairly safe compared to bypass

Geof: 01:48 from the success you’ve had. Think do you regret not having bypass you good with the sleeve? You don’t have a Regret. I don’t see much difference.

Melissa: 02:00 I’ve heard a couple of people who say they wish they would’ve gotten bypass, but I feel like there’s way less flexibility with it and like way more complications

Geof: 02:10 with some people. That’s the way less flexibility is what they want.

Melissa: 02:14 Right, and I read that too. I read articles that were like, if you need someone that’s going to slap you on the hand, then you should get bypass. Right? Right. Yeah. Like mostly control yourself. Then you know, the sleeve is a better option.

Geof: 02:28 So that from what I’ve seen, the success most people doesn’t make a difference. I don’t see much in the different

Melissa: 02:35 mean realistically you could stretch either, right?

Geof: 02:37 You could, yeah. I think it’s more of a behavioral thing like you were just saying. So you were you were active before this one.

Melissa: 02:46 I wouldn’t say it wasn’t consistent because I had a lot to do with the results I was getting. You know, a, you’re putting in all this work and you don’t get any return than the motivation just dies. Right? Right. Repeating cycle with me.

Geof: 03:03 Did you feel as you were gaining weight, that it became more difficult to exercise? Which sort of feeds that cycle of….

Melissa: 03:11 like there’s a fear of going to the gym and like being made fun of.

Geof: 03:16 Yeah, that will keep people away. So. Great. So you had, so you had the surgery a year and a half ago, did you decide. I mean, so was it pre surgery? It’s like OK, this is how I’m gonna Change my life. Did you sort of have a plan before you started into the surgery? You went into surgery because you’ve done the research, you want to lose the weight and that was the, that was the original reason for going?

Melissa: 03:38 So I was like, oh I’m going to work out right after surgery. But then I had all that swelling from surgery and I was eating like 600 calories a day and I would get up in the morning and try to go for a walk and then I would be sick afterwards because I think I just wasn’t getting enough calories so I kind of like didn’t work out at all for three months and like try to concentrate on my eating. And then once I was able to get more calories down, then I started adding exercise.

Geof: 04:09 What was it that you started with, Did you start with cycling or did you just go with it?

Melissa: 04:10 No, it cycled like four years ago. I think the lowest I ever got then was like maybe 215. So it was hard. I mean 215 pounds on a bike. I didn’t cycle with anybody because I didn’t want to be the slow one. So it’s a little embarrassing but nobody wants to be like, make everybody wait for you. I didn’t cycle with anybody, I just went by myself.

Geof: 04:35 So when you started exercise, did you, did you have an idea where he was like, no, I’m just going to go to the gym and try this out. How did you get to that point?

Melissa: 04:41 I think I started working, I started walking and then I started working out at home. Like I have these really old Les Mill’s, dvds. So. And I had like a, I had like a plate set with a barbell and so I started doing that because then you know, it takes away like the embarrassment opportunity at the gym. Right. Even though I was probably like down like what? Fifty pounds at that point if not more. I was still self conscious of it. Plus, you know, like I had lost a bunch of muscle mass because I hadn’t been working out. So yeah, I dropped weight. But I mean we saw that on the scan, right? Like my body muscle mass took the first six months was like a big drop, right. So I was a lot weaker than I had been before. So I workout at home for like maybe three years before I like joining the gym again.

Geof: 05:28 You started cycling again. That’s was around that time too, right?

Melissa: 05:34 It would’ve been like April, March last year. So I signed up with the diabetes ride knowing that that would like get me on a cycling plan basically like the, again, I’m the person that needs some kind of end game. sign up for this race and invite other people to do it with you. Now you have to do it. No one wants to be the one to be like, I’m not doing it. Yeah.

Geof: 05:57 It sounds like in terms of your relationship with exercises sort of change too. So in the past it was like, I’m going to do it because I have to lose weight, not losing weight screw this I’m doing this anymore. So how do you feel about now and what’s your, what’s your feeling along now than a year and a half out or even even better, So you started on your owns three or four months after surgery. Wasn’t a motivator thing for you? Or is it sort of like, oh shit, I need to start doing this.

Melissa: 06:27 It’s like you just know you need to do it. I’m feeling kinda weak. I need to build some muscle
I know that long term, that’s a habit you have to build. So I just started working on building the habit that you were excited to do it. Like I used to like avoid it so I would always do it in the morning. cuz in in the morning. There’s no excuse. You just get up get it done but now its to the point where if I don’t work out in the morning I’m like cranky. And I don’t like that point where it’s habit and like not I don’t go because I feel like I have to go. I go because I know I feel better after I do it.

Geof: 07:01 Did you ever notice when you get that point? See a lot. Because at the point where it goes from the I have to do it to the I want to do it. There’s that transition and you’re like, Ugh, God, I really want to go work out.

Melissa: 07:01 Can I ride my bike?

Geof: 07:16 How far up were you do you do? You know? So we started working out to like to the point where I was like, oh I miss working the transition.

Melissa: 07:24 I would say it probably took like five or six months.

Geof: 07:29 It was sort of depend during

Melissa: 07:33 I think it was at the end of my first year after surgery. So it probably took like four months after I started working out to the floor. I was like to the point where it was like, OK, I go to the gym because I want to go to the gym, not because like I have to go to the gym. Like it starts with motivation, right? And then it becomes like a habit and then at that point it’s more of a behavioral change than like a great motivational change. I think

Geof: 07:56 That first part, that’s the tough part. Right. And did you, did you, were you fairly consistent with your exercise when that first four months or did you.

Melissa: 08:03 I was like super, super consistent five days a week. Every morning at that point you’re like building a habit.

Geof: 08:10 I think that has a lot to do with being in that four month window where you go from I want to to want, excuse me, going from I have to work out to make that transition to I want to workout is the more consistent you are starting. Right? The sooner that happens.

Melissa: 08:27 I mean I took kind of a weird loop around that, you know what I mean? Like mine right away after surgery I tried to work out and then didn’t go that way. So then it kind of like took a nosedive for awhile, but then you’re going to have to do this, so just suck it up and do it

Geof: 08:27 I mean you didn’t have to do it, you could..

Melissa: 08:44 long-term You’re to have to do it. So you kind of have to do it.

Geof: 08:49 I agree with that, but that’s sort of where my perspective is that you have to put the exercise. Right. So I think, you know, for people that don’t.

Melissa: 08:58 I mean you’re going to plateau at some point. Right? Right, right. I mean I’ve always read like weight loss is 80% food to 20 % exercise.

Geof: 09:07 Yeah. I mean body fat loss is that you want to lose body fat. It’s all on nutrition, but then also why would you, like you were saying, get weaker and weaker if you. The less you do and then you become the shuffly old person that no one wants to be because you have no muscle. That’s a little dramatic there.

Melissa: 09:27 Not Walking with a cane yet.

Geof: 09:30 Hopefully you won’t have to.

Geof: 09:34 If you were talking to somebody that was coming out of surgery or thinking about going into surgery, I mean, what would you s what would you say, look, I’m going in, I’m going to get a decided I’m going to sleeve. They have a similar background to you. This is just a generic person. A, they had a similar background to how you exercise and was doing things well. I mean, what were the things that you look back on now and say, I wish I had done that differently or done more of that, less of that.

Melissa: 09:59 I mean, my big thing was always don’t make exercise feel like punishment you should somewhat enjoying the activity you’re doing. So the best advice is to like try different stuff.

Geof: 10:11 It’d be well beyond the exercise. Was there things like eating or water intake or anything else that you sort of know you had some swelling, complications that sort of made you unique compared to others We look back on any part of the surgery in past year and a half. Are there things that you’re like, I should’ve done that differently?

Melissa: 10:35 I don’t think so. I mean I don’t have any regrets. I think, you know, everybody’s different. I think, you know, basically what probably made the biggest difference for me was like cutting out carbs and cutting out sugar. I was big on that at the beginning. So now it’s to the point where it’s just a habit like I avoid foods with added sugar. I eat some of them, but like you know, you can’t really avoid them completely, but like I minimize it because I think that’s like one of the, besides weight, I think it also affects my PCOS so my body’s just like sensitive to carbs and sugar and that’s just how my body is. So weight watchers is cool because you can eat whatever you want for your points for the day, but for me that was like too much leeway and was like, do you want to eat 35 points worth of cake? you can know. So I did right but I also think there was like somewhat of an addiction going on.

Geof: 10:35 So you were a sugar person?

Melissa: 11:23 Yeah, totally. Even now I still crave sweets but I just find like some kind of replacement for either I have like a protein bar or I’ll make like sugar-free Jello or what? Zero sugar sweet. Yeah. That’s how. I mean you’re never going to go through life with never having any kinds of sweets. I mean some people don’t like them but that is not me.

Geof: 11:45 So I don’t think you should deprive yourself.

Melissa: 11:49 Yeah, you could probably cut it out for like a couple of months, but after that what have, you know, you could eat more. But like when we, when they have like stuff at work, I don’t have any cake or anything. Like I’m always like, how’s that taste? Does it taste good? My friends trained to be like, no, it’s awful. But like I just, I’m just like, OK. Like I don’t, I’m not going to eat it even though I wanted to because I am part of me. It’s part of fear because I’m like, what happens if you start eating real sugar? You’re going to get sick. So I just, I don’t want to test it because at the answer’s no, you don’t get sick. It could snowball real fast. But I just know that about myself. So I just don’t poke the bear. I guess

Geof: 12:30 It’s a good strategy. It’s gotta be. I mean it’s sort of place has to be tough from time to time,

Melissa: 12:34 but yeah, there’s times where I’m like yeah, I really want a cupcake. But um, in the end is it worth the extra calories? And the risk that I’m taking, I guess with myself, I don’t think it is.

Geof: 12:43 So you’ve done really well. I mean you, you’ve lost a lot of weight and you look really healthy you can’t see that on audio in terms of how you’ve eaten the last time you were saying you’re still use you still portion after foods? Yeah, I mean your eyeballing as much.

Melissa: 13:04 I weigh it , I weight out almost everything away. Everything

Geof: 13:05 you weigh or anything. Or do you use a little volume

Melissa: 13:09 No I weigh Everything because let’s take blueberries for example, right a serving of fruit is a half a cup, right? But like depending on how big the blueberries are, you may get more or less. So I do everything by volume I guess weight, 50 grams of blueberries because if you put them in a half a cup they look different depending on how many blueberries and what size they are and all that stuff was true. , did you want me to do that or was that something you did after surgery?

Melissa: 13:42 No I did it after surgery I mean I’ve done it before like as part of weight watchers. Funny. Also like track my food in my fitness pal, so if you want to track your food closely you have to have an idea of like how much you’re eating.

Geof: 13:53 It looks like it’s been very successful at telling my clients about you sometimes about the fact that you still do that because I think from like it people start eyeballing it.

Melissa: 14:04 You’re always eating more than you think you’re eating your finger or a deck of cards. Like come on.

Geof: 14:12 It’s the size of a deck of cards a little bit bigger this time.

Melissa: 14:15 I also like basically you after surgery I bought like little teeny tiny appetizer, appetizer plate and like baby forks and baby spoons to like get myself in the habit of eating slower and then. But I still use them. I basically put away like I don’t have the dinner plates or like in a different cupboard, so when my boyfriend’s over I have to like go into a different clipboard to get him a plate. Right. . Even if it’s like a lot of food. For me it’s still a salad plate. It’s not like a forage appetizer plate, but like that’s the same thing. Psychological, in go into eat they give you a giant plate. It doesn’t look like a lot of food, but it is because it’s all about plate to food ratio.

Geof: 14:53 What do you do when you go out to eat do you try to bring your little plates?

New Speaker: 15:01 because you’re try to no I try to order off the kids menu. I was just curious about that or order like a burger without a bun. That’s a pretty good to

Geof: 15:10 you in terms of your cycling That’s … I’m super impressed by it. I think you’ve, you’ve, you’ve really kicked ass on the fact that you did,

Melissa: 15:17 but I didn’t come last

New Speaker: 15:17 You didn’t come in last but you also went through surgery to.. what you did 60 miles?

Melissa: 15:17 It was like 62 It was a 100k. What does that convert to..like 60 miles between 62 and 63 miles

Geof: 15:31 I don’t metric very well.

Geof: 15:33 It’s a but I mean you’re fairly disciplined in that where the points along the way and that discipline that stopped, you know, we’d be sort of set a program for you.

Melissa: 15:44 That’s why I paid you for a program because I was like sign up or sign up for a ride. Get other people to agree to do it with you and then train. I was the only one trained.

Geof: 15:55 It was successful for you to Right

Melissa: 15:57 like I don’t have 20 years of cycling like some of the other guys there. They’re base is just way better than mine.

Geof: 16:02 Well may have been at the time, but I assume now that you’re a… you’re a totally different person.

Melissa: 16:07 Yeah. What I’m really excited for is look the cycling season,

Geof: 16:10 see what you can do this year?

Melissa: 16:12 I think I’m still like 20 pounds, maybe lighter 10 or 15 pounds, but you know like muscle pounds. Yeah. People are like, well do you weigh yourself? No. The only time weight is even a consideration for me is when it comes to my cycling because you’re still pulling that much weight on your bike. Right. But like I don’t weigh myself because I lift heavy and people are like, Oh, you’re losing weight. And I’m like, no, I’m technically I’m gaining weight on the scale. If you look at this scale three months ago what did I lose? did I even gained a pound didn’t I?

Geof: 16:45 I think you did. Yeah.

New Speaker: 16:46 So I think like I think one of my biggest things was that I don’t let the scale dictate my journey. So I just, we’re not friends. We broke up. Like I don’t weigh myself. That’s why I do the scans because you know, a pound of muscle is half the size of a pound of fat. So like what do I care, like what the scale says I’m already like what size pants I wear than what the scale says .

Geof: 16:46 How fast you can ride.

Melissa: 17:10 So weight only comes into play with my cycling. So I’m getting, I’m so pulling weight… a fair amount of weight. I’m not like a super thin cyclists, like some of the racers, but you know as far as weight, whatever

Geof: 17:24 I mean if you want it to be super, super fast. You would become super skinny,

Melissa: 17:29 super small on the top and not have any muscle up top and there would be all leg muscle to giant thighs. Right? I mean so like yeah I want to be fast on the bike but I don’t want to look like that, you know, nothing wrong with that. But that’s just not. I would prefer to be portion for the most part

Geof: 17:46 in terms of your strength training. The fact that you’re doing heavy weights, this is the one thing that I try to, it’s getting better, but there’s a lot of people, especially the females, and by a” lot of people ” I mean females. It sounds bad, but it is a sort of that….

Melissa: 17:46 I want to bulk up.

Geof: 18:03 They don’t want to bulk up so they don’t want any sort of. Sometimes it’s hard to get past the fact that you don’t really bulk up. You’re just actually just building muscle, you know? I guess

Melissa: 18:16 I almost feel like that’s the female, like bulking up thing is more like they’re not dropping body fat and maybe the muscle is growing so they, you know, so maybe they feel like their arms are looking bigger because they’re not dropping body fat percent

Geof: 18:30 I think it could be. I mean it couldn’t be

Melissa: 18:33 I mean everybody just position their bodies different. Right. Like I have a friend who does crossfit but she, you know, so she, she has bigger arms with us just like genetically how she’s made. Right. I carry weight in my stomach. I don’t have a flat stomach. I got, I still got muffin top, like, you know, like her stomach is flat and she carries weight in her arms and her legs and so some people just predisposition to that, but so maybe that’s part of the concern, like everybody thinks they shouldn’t look like this model and that’s just not how people are genetically disposed to look.

Geof: 19:06 Yeah, I agree. Yeah. I didn’t know if that’s sort of how I’ve always felt some when… I…. I don’t know…. if this is…. this is my thoughts on different reality, but it just seemed so maybe some of them have a little bit more testosterone than other women, so they grow a little bit more muscle his, that would be true, but it’s sort of that a thing is really bulk up. I guess I’ve always sort of, you just don’t, you just get stronger. Does that mean you know, you’re not noticing yourself getting bulky by doing the strength training is what I’m getting at?

Melissa: 19:37 No, I mean,

Geof: 19:38 would you even use that word? I’m just trying to….

Melissa: 19:41 No, I wouldn’t say bulky. I would. I notice a difference, like my leg shape looks different, but they don’t want bigger. They still look thinner.

Geof: 19:49 Right, right. And you’re happy with it. I guess it’s just getting beyond that whole thing that women only can do five pounds for a million reps,

Melissa: 20:01 not only building muscle, burning fat.

Geof: 20:04 Yeah. And not even very efficiently. Right. That’s what it is. To me it’s more like, especially women, some will have this issue but it’s sort of don’t be scared of the weight training, strength training and I was just giving. You seem to be someone who doesn’t really good job with that.

Melissa: 20:23 Yeah, I mean I always kind of was like avoiding. I mean I would avoid heavy, like I used to do a lot of like body pump. Right. And then the trainer that I, the other trainer was like, well you’re not actually building muscle. You’re like, you’re not really growing strength, but you’re not growing your muscles per se . So yeah, you think you know your arms are more defined, but you’re just because you’re burning fat more than that because your muscles are getting bigger. What to tell they tell you in class, you know, like they’re selling a product if you’re, if you’re not gonna, if, if that’s what you’re going to do, then that’s better than nothing. Right. But everybody has different goals. I mean, I wouldn’t say that I didn’t feel stronger when I was doing body pump, but I don’t feel like I’m getting that much stronger.

Geof: 21:12 sometimes it just takes working with somebody to figure that out. Right to me … it’s just sort of…. I see th, this is the part that always gets me is I see… not going to bariatric surgery so I see it from the outside. This is how I would say is giving somebody 18 to 24 month window to make massive life changes because if you didn’t, you’d lose weight in that 18 month window if you didn’t do anything.

Melissa: 21:41 Maybe I think you are stretching it what, 18 months? Probably more like 6 to 9.

Geof: 21:41 6 to … Yeah. Let me generous with this a little bit..

Geof: 21:51 Yeah, there’s a window at some point in time, if you don’t do anything, surgery’s not going to help. You’re going to go back to your… yeah know.. if you don’t do any exercise whatsoever, and that’s sort of where I get this sort of like. I see you making that change. You took that time, you didn’t do it right off the bat. You didn’t have a plan right off the bat, right. Use at some point in time. Just when I got changed, change to something different. Right. I’m getting weaker. Right. And in that timeframe you’ve gotten a lot stronger. you’ve riden 60 miles, you’re probably going to do at least that distance this year I assume.

Melissa: 22:19 Yeah. I was like, I don’t want to commit to a hundred miles.

Geof: 22:22 There’s a lot of people, one of my clients that she went in for three months surgery and she’s walking, exercising, doing all this stuff and she felt like she wasn’t doing enough. She felt bad or she has to tell the nurse and in the nurse that does, you know, there’s two clients that just…..two patients who just left and neither one of them has even gone out of the house once, since they’ve had the surgery and that just. Yeah, that’s what I was like, why go through all that pain and agony?

Melissa: 22:51 Is it because they have pain and they can exercise?

Geof: 22:56 It may be like, you know, they may be, but it didn’t sound to me like that was. Yeah, I’m interpreting what was being said. The exercise aspect really is important and I don’t think enough people do it that come through the surgery. I don’t think…..

Melissa: 23:12 This is.. this. ..it’s politically incorrect, but everybody wants the easy way out,

Geof: 23:17 Well Yeah, and I think if you go into surgery and you’re thinking this is it,

Melissa: 23:20 this is going to solve all your problems.

Geof: 23:22 No, no,

Melissa: 23:23 you don’t work the tool. It doesn’t happen. Like my favorite thing to be is like, I have a shovel in my garage. If I don’t need to dig a hole, the shovel does not dig the hole. I have to move the shovel and dig the hole. I have to use the tool or it doesn’t. He doesn’t get

Geof: 23:38 done. Right, right. Yeah. Yeah. Same thing. Right, but. Right. No, I agree with that. I agree that a lot. I think. I don’t know if that’s. I think that’s a right way to say it

Melissa: 23:49 I mean Hilary pushes, you know, use the tool tool tool, but I think like you can tell people the same thing a million times and they’re like, OK, but they don’t really understand it, right? They just hear you saying and they’re like, whatever. And I think that’s where some people have to fail or get a regained in order to be like, all right, like I need to put. I’m going to have to put the effort in

Geof: 24:14 my goal to get people to do this first.