Learning to See the Pretty…and Photo Reveal from Agi M Photography!

It may sound a little stupid, but I have gotten pretty used to being “pretty.”

A lot of people think I’m really vain, self-absorbed, or shallow… but the fact of the matter is, I am just catching up. I’m making up for lost time. Making up for all of the years, days, hours and minutes that I told myself I wasn’t good enough.

Freshman Year Homecoming... circa 2002?

Freshman Year Homecoming… circa 2002?

Circa 2009...at karaoke with my Other Mother

Circa 2009…at karaoke with my Other Mother

All the time that I sat there and believed I didn’t deserve to be loved.

That was all, pardon my French BULLSHIT.

Your weight doesn’t determine what how much love you deserve. A bad haircut doesn’t instantaneously disqualify you from being treated with respect. It doesn’t work that way.

When someone says “You are so pretty!”  I smile, and accept the damn compliment with a “Thank you!” and I always try to genuinely return compliments as well.

But there is always that one person trying to rain on my parade and make me think that those compliments are undeserved. And lately, that person has been ME.

I literally cried when I saw that homecoming photo on Instagram. Partly because that point in life is hard to re-visit in general, but also partly because I needed a reminder that no matter how I might think I look or feel at times…I am NOT this girl anymore. I am so much stronger. So much braver. So much more confident in what she deserves.

I was honored and thrilled to be asked to model for The Boudoir Divas recently at their annual Boudoir Photographer Retreat, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why I’d been considered in the first place!

I got there, got my makeup done, Candace came and did my hair…I put on my high wasted black panties, black bra, black bustier, and lace robe…and I felt ready!

I felt gorgeous! I felt secure!

As some of the photos made an appearance on Instagram, I started to feel less sure of myself.

As I mentioned awhile back, I ironically LOST weight on vacation in Hawaii. In the midst of my return, I was dealing with things being harder at work, Sean losing his job the day before I departed for Hawaii, and more… and next thing you know, the New Year is here and I’ve gained 20+ pounds.

I was so disappointed. I was so angry. More than anything…I was so ashamed. I pride myself on what I accomplished with weight loss, and here I was, failing. Gaining.

My immediate reaction was fear. Fear of becoming that girl again. So… when I saw these photos from the amazing and talented Agi from Agi M Photography, I was having a hard time seeing the pretty.

I was seeing the cellulite. The HUGE arms. The droopy thighs. The plain face.

(I should disclose that I opened this email Sunday morning at closing ceremonies for Relay for Life, after walking over 30 miles in a weekend, and operating on the one nap I took from 1-6 am. So, I was not the most aware of anything happening!)

You know what? My arms might be huge. But I can change that! My thighs might be droopy… but at least my surgeon said the first revision wasn’t perfect. My face isn’t plain. I’m just a tad dramatic when I see myself NOT smiling. Agi was so much fun to work with; so full of life, so excited, and so passionate about what she does. She is one of those people who you trust instantly, because you feel like you’ve known her forever (she is perfect for this industry, because you’ll recall I felt the same way about the Divas and their MUA Peggy when I very first ventured in. You can read more about that in this post)!

I decided to open the email and re-visit these images this evening, after showing them to Sean last night and sharing how I felt with him last night. If you know my boyfriend, you know he is a huge supporter, and that he loves me for me. And his perspective was not surprising. He said I looked great, and then helped me plan my next steps for fixing what’s really wrong: how I feel inside!

So… here are a few of my favorite shots. Check me out!

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Check out more amazing photos from some amazing women at the retreat in this Boudoir Divas Blog Post! Also, you can connect with Agi M Photography on Facebook! While you’re at it, you need to check out my super talented friend, Candace from Ah La Mode Designs. My phenomenal hair is ALL her doing! Also, the fabulous Peggy with His Blushing Bride who did makeup for all the girls! This was my second makeup run with her, and she is still as fun as the first time I met her!

I’ve rambled on and on… but the moral of the story is… sometimes you have to learn to see past what you hate seeing. See past what you’re struggling with, and know that you are captivating regardless of what a label in a dress or a number on a scale says. You’re not defined by how small your arms are, or how your thighs look. The best thing about boudoir is that it captures your beauty at any size. It’s not about being a Victoria’s Secret Angel… but the fact that you FEEL like one. And that you are captured in a way that puts you right up there with them in rank.

 It’s a gift to learn to see yourself in the eyes of those who capture you the way that Agi captured me. And once I took the time to see that, I found myself re-energized and ready to get back to actually working on those things, instead of avoiding the way they look in photos. I’ll be sharing more from these talented ladies, as I receive them!

That’s all for now… but I won’t be gone for long!

SeeSondraSignaturePRINT

 

Who Wears Short Shorts?!

Not me.

Not yet.

But it’s not a “never” either.

I am 16 days away from my bi-lateral thigh lift, and while I have become more comfortable with my body and wearing shorts around my house and things like that, I am experiencing some SERIOUS anticipation (and anxiety) over the fact that I will be able to buy killer running shorts, yoga shorts, and denim shorts.

People who haven’t had weight issues, body-consciousness issues, or things like that may not ever consider the fact that things like shorts can be such a daunting thing! They can be ridiculously un-flattering, and you may have the guts to wear them…but the anxiety you have wearing them all day can be a real killjoy.

Some of my favorites I cannot wait to try and buy? Why, let me show you! 🙂

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My pre-op appointment with Dr. Arya is this Tuesday, and I am excited to get the down-low on her complete plan of attack and to find out what revisions we have finalized in terms of my panniculectomy, otherwise known as excess skin removal of the abdomen!

It’s pretty cool, because heading to Phoenix for the Your Weight Matters Convention the weekend before surgery gives me the rare and unique opportunity to show the “before” and “after” sides of not only weight loss surgery, but of post-loss plastic surgery!

I am still super excited about becoming an official Brand Ambassador for Bulubox.com, and cannot WAIT to not only review the products I receive here on SeeSondraSlim, but to start being able to have extra healthy goodies and tips to take with me on trips like the anxiously awaited Phoenix one! Plus, who else has ever wished they had an extra protein bar or shake mix in their purse? Soooo much more convenient, and it makes it much easier to eat healthily, and prevent those moments of weakness at the cookie jar.

No? Just me? Lol!

Don’t forget: As a SeeSondraSlim reader, you have access to getting your first box FREE, or getting 50% off a 3, 6, or 12 month subscription by using the discount code ‘BULUGAN342‘ at checkout. Also, as a subscriber to monthly boxes (which ALWAYS ship free), you earn $$$ towards full-sized product purchases, and more!

Don’t forget to review products on the site (and share here on SeeSondraSlim!), to earn even more $$$ towards purchases, too!

In other news: Headed to the Old Town Temecula Farmers Market with Sean today, and got some AMAZING healthy eats for the week. Gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, mini Roma tomatoes, asparagus, fresh made pasta, fresh homemade red salsa, organic Italian sausage, fresh green beans, and more! We also stopped in wine country (obviously) to pick up our wine club shipment at South Coast Winery, and then headed home. I have a new favorite farmers market!

On the way back, we stopped to get some fixins’ for super fresh pizza/flatbreads I made for dinner. Garlic Rosemary crust with roasted red peppers, pepperoni, and mozzarella, and a plain crust with mini Romas, fresh mini mozzarella, and fresh basil.

Yeah, it was totally as yummy as it sounds, especially with a crisp salad on the side. Sometimes, indulgence can be fresh and surprisingly low-cal, too! Low-cal is super important to us after the wine tasting we had. The gentleman helping us had a VERY heavy hand, and a penchant for ignoring that we have only 5 tastes each. He kept saying “So, I’ll show you this one next….” or “if you like that, you’ll LOVE this….” and he did NOT strike out. Not once! We have been members for a year now, but his help navigating the menu and his attention to our preferences was awesome. We left him a $16 tip 🙂

That’s it for now, but I’ll be back soon! Here’s to a great rest of the weekend! 🙂

‘Til Next Time!

XOXO

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like….MAYHEM!

Well, it’s been long enough, hasn’t it?!?!

I sincerely apologize for the delay, but I promise it was worth the wait!

I have been really busy the past month or so…with all my “birth month” festivities, and planning for Relay for Life on April 20th, and my first excess skin removal surgery on April 22nd…I’ve been feeling like I’m in a race against time. I want to leave things manageable for the person covering for me at work, I want my living space to make me happy before I’m confined to it, I want to make sure I’m in good shape so I have a better recovery that doesn’t negate any progress I have made fitness-wise…and on top of that my Relay for Life team has 17 days to raise $3500 and meet our $5000 goal! AHHHHH!!

However….I am pleased to share how many awesome things have happened in the meantime. Let’s recap, shall we?

1. Alex and I went to Vegas on the weekend of March 22nd (remember how she surprised me for my birthday with tickets to Monster Jam monster truck national championships in Vegas, because I am strangely in love with monster trucks?), and we had a BLAST! We walked down the strip and got on the VIP list for almost every hot club in the city, and that night we headed to Chateau Nightclub and Gardens at the Paris Hotel, and not only got in free, but got free vodka drinks until midnight, and were up close to the stage to see a performance by Jay Sean!! Saturday, we decided to sleep in a little bit (til like, 10am, which is totally luxurious, for us) and headed to breakfast. We played Keno while we ate, and didn’t win a thing. We decided to go back up to the room and get ready for Monster Jam, and then play the slots a bit before we caught the shuttle to the stadium. The casino had given me a free $5 gambling voucher for signing up for their rewards club, and when I finally used it I was all excited to be up like $30. At one point, I kept losing and losing on each 50 cent bet…and I told Alex “I think my luck is running out. I’m gonna keep spinning ’til $16 then I’m done.” Lo and behold….I hit “Max Bet” again, and the machine goes CRAZY! It goes a little something like this:

Alex: Omg! What’d you win?

Me: I don’t know!!

Alex: OMG! I think you just one A HUNDRED DOLLARS!

Me: OMG!! A HUNDRED DOLLARS!! (machine keeps making a bunch of racket and goes past $100)

Alex: WAIT….I think you won $300 dollars!

Me: WHAT?!?!?!

Some random man: I hope you played the max bet young lady!

Me: Yes sir, I did!

SRM: You just won 4000 credits…

Alex: SONDRA JO!  YOU JUST WON A THOUSAND &^$@&@$* DOLLARS!!!!!! (Hits me in the arm….she was trying to make me understand what’s happening. I was in shock thinking it was $300 as it were).

Me:…..omg.

Long story short, I won a THOUSAND FREAKING DOLLARS.

winner 2

winner 3

winner

winner 4

(And my copay for my surgery is $500, so that was pretty freakin’ awesome to get just a month before!) Also, we went to the casino next door to catch the shuttle for the rally and played the Wheel of Fortune slots 10 minutes later, and Alex got a spin, which landed on 1000 credits…and she won $250!! 3.23.13 was lucky for us!!!

2. Also, in the past month, after learning that my excess skin removal of the abdomen was approved, I was waiting to hear whether the thing lift was approved or not. My surgeon made it clear that I was a great candidate for it, but the big issue was the fact that insurance companies always kick it back as “cosmetic” and won’t consider it to be “Medically Necessary,” which therefore gives the full financial responsibility to the patient.

But alas, I am blessed! I got a letter in the mail that my thigh lift has been APPROVED by insurance as Medically Necessary, and I will have it done 2-3 months after this first procedure! The surgical coordinator told me on the phone that I am the ONLY person in the 11 years she has been with Scripps to get it approved. It’s pretty much meant to be. And I am EXCITED!!

At my pre-op appointment today, I got to do my absolute favorite thing (NOT), and put on a robe with just my bra and underwear underneath, so Dr. Arya could come in and pull the waistband of my chonies down and expose “The Flap.” This is actually the first photo I’m ever posting that really exposes it!

pre op

I am always so uncomfortable when this happens…but I thought about something: What about that first 30 Day Challenge shoot I had in my bathroom in September 2011?

The very FIRST 30 Day Challenge photo...over 100 lbs ago!

The very FIRST 30 Day Challenge photo…over 100 lbs ago!

Side Shot

Side Shot

30 day 1

Ugh! I just totally had a little breakdown going back to this post…and it’s bittersweet. I still feel like this girl. I still love her. She still drives me to be BETTER every single day. But I am so happy to have left her doubts and insecurities and health issues behind me! This new life I have created for myself just keeps getting better, and keeps taking me to new places I couldn’t have imagined. And I am so excited to see everything unfold the way I had anticipated! I even clean my bathroom mirror more, these days! 😉

It’s been an amazing journey…and it ain’t over yet! We still have white bikinis to wear on beaches, and I still have to find a way to force Sports Illustrated to let me be a cover girl. Just once, guys! I promise I won’t disappoint! SERIOUSLY!

I know some of you have asked me to document the whole excess skin removal process, and I promise I will update as frequently as possible with all the info you’d want to know! Especially after surgery when I’m home and bored for 4 weeks!

That’s all for now, but I hope everyone is having a GREAT week so far!

‘Til Next Time!

XOXO

Crazy Diet Trends (or, Memories)!

Happy Wednesday, Everyone!

Recently, Sean was reading a really interesting post on CNN News about the history of diets and I was both mortified, and slightly embarassed. It dawned on me that I am totally guilty of trying several of these throughout the years! Actually, when it comes down to it, if not for having documented all of the trials and failures, I may not have been such a prime candidate for Weight Loss Surgery (WLS). It’s no secret that most of us (as in, all of us, including the some of us who don’t like to be honest and say we practically sweated bacon fat during Atkins, for example) have tried a nice hearty helping of “fad” diets, and most of us weren’t very sucessful. At least, not long term!

I personally, was just REALLY hungry after, and that thirty pounds came right back once I ate a biscuit! And not even the kind from Red Lobster!

I thought it’d be fun to share this crazy list, and turn it into a pledge to myself to never do one of these crazy diets again (I’m not hating on the more sensible things like Jazzercise, I’m just saying; If Dexatrim has been around since the 80’s and is actually soooo effective…why would we be doing weight loss surgeries in the first place?):

1820: Lord Byron popularizes the Vinegar and Water Diet, which entails drinking water mixed with apple cider vinegar.

1903: President William Howard Taft pledges to slim down after getting stuck in the White House bathtub.

1925: The Lucky Strike cigarette brand launches the “Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet” campaign, capitalizing on nicotine’s appetite-suppressing superpowers.

1930s: The Grapefruit Diet — a.k.a. the Hollywood Diet — is born. The popular low-cal plan calls for eating grapefruit with every meal.

1950s: The Cabbage Soup Diet promises you can lose 10 to 15 pounds in a week by eating a limited diet including cabbage soup every day.

Mid-1950s: Urban legend has it that opera singer Maria Callas dropped 65 pounds on the Tapeworm Diet, allegedly by swallowing a parasite-packed pill.

1963: Weight Watchers is founded by Jean Nidetch, a self-described “overweight housewife obsessed with cookies.”

1970:The Sleeping Beauty Diet, which involves sedation, is rumored to have been tried by Elvis.

1975: A Florida doctor creates the Cookie Diet, a plan where you eat cookies made with a blend of amino acids. Hollywood eats it up.

1977: Slim-Fast — a shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch, then a sensible dinner — becomes a diet staple.

1978: Dr. Herman Tarnower publishes “The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet.” Two years later he is shot by his girlfriend.

1979: Dexatrim, a diet drug containing phenylpropanolamine (PPA), appears on drugstore shelves. Its formula changes after PPA is linked to an increased risk of stroke in 2000.

1980s: A popular appetite-suppressing candy called Ayds is taken off the market after the AIDS crisis hits.

1982: The aerobics craze steps into high gear when Jane Fonda launches her first exercise video, “Workout: Starring Jane Fonda.” Her catch phrase: “No pain, no gain.”

1983: Jazzercise, founded in 1969 by professional dancer Judi Sheppard Missett, hits all 50 states.

1985: Harvey and Marilyn Diamond publish “Fit for Life,” which prohibits complex carbs and protein from being eaten during the same meal.

1987: In her memoir-slash-self-help book, “Elizabeth Takes Off,” actress Elizabeth Taylor advises dieters to eat veggies and dip each day at 3 p.m.

1988: Wearing a pair of size 10 Calvin Klein jeans, Oprah walks onto the set of her show, pulling a wagon full of fat to represent the 67 pounds she lost on a liquid diet.

1991: Americans go low-fat, eating foods like McDonald’s McLean Deluxe burger.

1992: Dr. Robert C. Atkins publishes “Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution,” a high-protein, low-carb plan.

1994: The Guide to Nutrition Labeling and Education Act requires food companies to include nutritional info on nearly all packaging.

1995: The Zone Diet, which calls for a specific ratio of carbs, fat, and protein at each meal, begins to attract celeb fans.

1999: Victoria Beckham starts the blink-and-it’s-gone baby weight trend following the birth of her first son, Brooklyn.

2000: Gwyneth Paltrow lends cred to the Macrobiotic Diet, a restrictive Japanese plan based on whole grains and veggies.

2001: Renée Zellweger packs on nearly 30 pounds to play Bridget Jones. She quickly (and controversially) sheds the weight only to gain it back for the 2004 sequel.

2003: Miami’s Dr. Arthur Agatston adds fuel to the low-carb craze by publishing “The South Beach Diet,” seen as a more moderate version of Atkins.

2004: The FDA bans the sale of diet drugs and supplements containing ephedra after it’s linked to heart attacks.

2004: “The Biggest Loser” makes its TV debut, turning weight loss into a reality show.

2006: Beyonce admits to using the Master Cleanse, a concoction of hot water, lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper, to shed 20 pounds for “Dreamgirls.”

2007: Alli hits the market. The nonprescription drug is taken with meals to keep your body from absorbing some of the food you eat.

2010: Jennifer Hudson loses a jaw-dropping 80 pounds on Weight Watchers.

2011: The HCG Diet, which combines a fertility drug with a strict 500- to 800-calorie-a-day regimen, invites interest — and criticism.

2012: Jessica Simpson loses 60 pounds of baby weight on Weight Watchers.

WOO! You’re welcome. I’m the crazy one giving history lessons on the internet. 🙂

In other news….I wanted to share that I did in fact have my post-weight loss “excess skin removal” consult with the plastic surgeon, and she thinks I am an excellent candidate! It’s typical for health insurance companies to turn patients down when it comes to covering thigh lifts, based on them being too cosmetic. I’d be MORE than happy to have them accompany me to the gym, put a pair of Soffe shorts on, and assure them that this is serious stuff! But alas, all we are waiting for now is the insurance ok, and the nice lady at Scripps told me I should have an answer by the 21st of this month. The anxiety is somewhat excruciating! I just want to schedule it already! But time will tell!

In the meantime, I bought a bag of frozen pilsbury biscuits. You bake them as needed. I’ve only had one so far…no weight gain to report! 😉

This month, Alex introduced me to a new yoga studio in my dream neighborhood, San Elijo, and we just did a hot Yoga class this morning. And it was AMAZING! I plan to get a membership so that I can continue to partake. Sweating like that a few times a week will definitely have me bikini ready! But until then, what you see, my friends….is what you get! I haven’t walked properly since Sunday morning…

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That’s all for now, but I hope you’re all having a wonderful week! Thanks for stopping by! I’ll leave you with a laugh:

my LIFE!

my LIFE!

‘Til Next Time!
XOXO

Life is Crazy…

Whew!

Been taking on more responsibility at work, checking out all the fun wedding stuff and trying to live up to the best Maid of Honor EVER status I have set out to achieve, and  also working on planning a baby shower for one of my very dear friends. In the midst of those things, I am also trying to lose a couple pounds before I see the surgeon in just a week, to see if I am a candidate for a Panniculectomy and a thigh lift.

I should clarify that my journey, and the reason I share it, are not because I have the ambitions to be a super skinny Victorus’s Secret bombshell (although I frequently joke about such things…if you knew me before, you know that my narcissistic tendencies haven’t even been increased since losing all this weight. I was always full of myself and had a hard time fitting my head through the door).

I have been so blessed with the opportunities and the motivation that have made this weight loss possible. And now that I have lost a significant amount, and seen the things my body can do…I can’t really see myself settling. Some people think I am crazy for having “cosmetic” procedures, but you know, after weight loss in numbers like this, it actually becomes “Medically Necessary.” So…that means, once again, insurance pays!

And we all know I love my free stuff! Besides…it’s hard to know that I have lost over 120 lbs, but I still can’t wear a two-piece bathing suit (not even slutty!)  because of this ridiculous apron of fat over my pelvic bone. UNACCEPTABLE! Lol.

So, I will at least explore my options, and as always, I will hope for the best!

I came across this on Tumblr, and it made me remember how I used to feel sometimes, so I thought I’d share it.

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I know this to be true! Even at 305 lbs, you’d see me wearing what I wanted (as long as it was tasteful and I could keep my self-respect), and I would be proud of myself and make the best of the body I had.

At the time, this was my absolute fave pik of myself!

At the time, this was my absolute fave pik of myself!

I always have an issue with getting the rudest looks and comments when I wear shorts...but for this birthday, I didn't care!

I always have an issue with getting the rudest looks and comments when I wear shorts…but for this birthday, I didn’t care!

This dress! I never wore it out, because it was always a little big and I never got it taken in...but I made sure we took photos of it!

This dress! I never wore it out, because it was always a little big and I never got it taken in…but I made sure we took photos of it!

And then we fast-forward to now, where I still pretty much wear what I want, when I want, and if you don’t like my lumpy thighs and their excess skin, I’m just kinda like “Bite Me!”

Besides, most times, I choose cuts that are too flattering for all of that. I give you the present (not like you haven’t seen these already, but just for shock factor!)

Yeah...this is definitely my favorite head shot in a looong time!

Yeah…this is definitely my favorite head shot in a looong time!

You'll find I have many more full-body photos these days!

You’ll find I have many more full-body photos these days!

What's that? Shorts, and I let a photo of me sitting down be taken? WOO!

What’s that? Shorts, and I let a photo of me sitting down be taken? WOO!

Moral of the story?

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More than that, make sure that you do what makes YOU happy. When you go to bed at night, make sure that what you think about yourself is that last thing on your mind. Not the words of the ignorant lady at Trader Joe’s who thought you wouldn’t hear her ask her friend “Why would she wear those shorts?” and make you have to get all crazy on her before you can buy your damn edamame and sea salt caramels!

Be happy with you. And if you’re not, do something about it! It’s all up to you…and it’s ok to need help! ASK FOR IT!

That’s my rant and update for now. But I wanted to make sure I posted, and shared that all-over-the-place insight with everyone!

‘Til Next Time!

XOXO