Most states on the mainland have their sports and teams that they cherish – football, basketball, baseball, NASCAR – the banners and logos and hats and t-shirts are everywhere when the teams play. In Hawaii, once a year at this time, our little Hilo town comes alive with the Merrie Monarch Festival.
This is the Super Bowl and Olympics of hula rolled into one week, an internationally acclaimed competition that brings out the most dedicated hula dancers in the state – men, women, old, young, large, small, mostly of Hawaiian descent, who have studied the art, the traditions, and the culture – and have spent thousands of hours preparing for this revered event.
This year, the most coveted honor, Miss Aloha Hula, went to Rebecca Lilinoekekapahauomaunakea Sterling. Yes, people here often have long Hawaiian names like that! What I love is that women don’t have to be slim and drop-dead gorgeous to earn this title; it’s based on skill, dedication to the art, and pure performance. Many of the dancers are large, some are old, some are incredibly beautiful, but no matter what size you are, if this is what is in your heart, the hula community will welcome you.
Even though you see all sizes, all ages, and all appearances up on the stage, I’ll go out on a limb here and say I love watching all those good-looking men dance the hula. They’re in great shape, and because they’re practically naked you see every muscle on their bodies. Call me shallow, but good-looking fit people are fun to watch!
Speaking of being fit, I weighed during the week and actually saw 153 lbs on the scale, but I go by Sunday weigh-ins and this morning shows me at 155. It’s okay, I’ve had the best workouts this week so far – and they say muscle weighs more than fat. I am now at a 14-minute mile on the treadmill, I’m actually running for about 15 minutes straight, my weight lifting is improving, and overall I’m feeling stronger. For the first time in my life, I felt some “sweat” outside of a hot flash. My energy level is good and my hair loss has really slowed down, so I have nothing to complain about.
I found an old exercise top of mine and realized it was the top I wore when I took my all-time worst photo of my life. This photo wins the award for the best Before photo – I was at my highest weight and I’m looking pretty depressed on top of it. I was so disgusted with myself that I thought, I’m going to take a photo even though I know it will be awful in the hope that it might motivate me to lose weight – and it actually did. I started losing weight not long after it was taken, but the weight came off in nano-ounces and it wasn’t until the surgery that my weight really changed.
I put on that top this week to show real Before and After photos. What a difference – the armholes are huge! I don’t know who invented the vertical sleeve, but I’d like to thank her or him, and my husband who has been an amazing support for me through this. And the people on the Vertical Sleeve Forum who have answered so many questions – it’s a wonderful and fast resource. This blog, these photos, and my life as I know it today (not to mention that I never knew I had a neck!) would not exist without this surgery.
So here is my photo at 223 lbs 16 months ago, and here I am today. And although this might be too much information (TMI), I just have to say how excited I was with the After photo. If you look really closely, you’ll see a little puka at the top of my legs – puka in Hawaiian means hole – yes, my friends, the top of my legs don’t touch! I have arrived!
It’s hard to believe I am halfway done with my yearlong blog. In some ways it seems like I had surgery a long time ago, longer than six months, but in other ways it all seems fresh as I am learning new things every day. All I know is that I feel so fortunate to be healthy, have a great husband, and look forward to an exciting future full of new adventures. Twenty-six weeks down, twenty-six to go!
JoniApril 15, 2012
Thanks for making me laugh!! Yes I see it! Your legs don’t touch! I had my daughter take pics of me yesterday for my befores – make me puke! Sleeve will be 4/23. Got through 1 week of horrible preop diet and amazed myself with no coffee or diet pepsi. I will survive! You know, I never told you – I found your blog before the vertical sleeve forum. You were my first connection and I have followed you weekly. You were and still are an inspiration to me. I have since been on the forum every day multiple times. Thanks for all your input and encouragement. Peace – Joni
staceyApril 15, 2012
You look awesome. You look 10 years younger. I noticed the space also AND your neck loods so tiny now compared. Nice legs!
What an inspiration.
It is bittersweet, I have come very use to your blog, I sure will miss it when your weight loss journey is through.
staceyApril 15, 2012
lol… I can not wait for the puka.
BrendaApril 16, 2012
It’s great to see the progress you have made. I have been following your blog since the beginning. I know I have spoke with you before through email regarding the decision to have this surgery or not. I finally have decided to have the surgery after much soul searching. I will wait until the first of the year after my insurance is renewed. I have always been a pretty healthy person even with the weight but just recently I have had some arthritis in my knee that has bothered me for a longer period of time than the usual day or two. I don’t want as I get older to notice that each health issue that comes up that the solution is taking another pill when I can do something about this. I have always been a confident person but I think I had to come to the conclusion this for me,this wasn’t just about buying smaller clothes but for my long term health. Thank you so much for publishing your life to help others.